Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy Explained

Daniel 9:24-27 records a revelation that the prophet Daniel received after a period of fasting and mourning for the sins of the people of Israel. Here it is from the World English Bible:

9:24 Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.

9:25 Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Anointed One,{“Anointed One” can also be translated “Messiah” (same as “Christ”).} the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times.

9:26 After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One{“Anointed One” can also be translated “Messiah” (same as “Christ”).} shall be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and its end shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined.

9:27 He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall [wrath] be poured out on the desolate.

I have quoted from the World English Bible, which is in the verse I am concerned about is in harmony with the Hebrew Old Testament you can find here. Verse 27 does not contain the word “Then” at the beginning. Adding that word makes the correct interpretation more problematic, in my view.

In these days it seems that God is revealing the meaning of some of the Bible prophecies more accurately. In this case, the interpretation I have seen is in harmony with what some notable Christians like John Wesley believed.

For some of these ideas I am indebted to the writings of Michael Fortner, who seems to have a special gift for understanding certain difficult Bible prophecies. His interpretations make more sense to me than any I have read elsewhere, since they seem to fit with EVERYTHING the Bible teaches on certain subjects.

In any case, God here gives Daniel a view of what is to come for the Jewish people. He speaks of 70 weeks. Other translations use the word ‘sevens’ instead of weeks, which I think is better. But in any case, each of these weeks represents 7 years. Once this seventy weeks is over, according to the prophecy, sin will be made an end of, prophecy and vision will be sealed up, reconciliation will be made for sin, and more. So we are talking about the end of the age as well here, by the time of the end of the 70 weeks.

The seventy weeks start from the “commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”. There were three commands given to restore Jerusalem after this time.  They were in 536 BC, 457BC and 444 BC. The most important of these was given in 457 BC by Artaxerxes. At this time the city and not merely the temple was to be rebuilt.

69 periods of 7 years adds up to 483. If we add 483 to 457BC we come to 27 A.D. (since there is no such thing as 0 AD). This is the year we believe that Jesus’ public ministry began, as Jesus was born actually around 4 BC. This accounts for the first 69 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. It is very significant that this brings us exactly to the time of Jesus’ public ministry – The Messiah of the Jews. In itself this is a remarkable confirmation of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, and it is also a remarkable witness the power of God to ordain things and reveal the future to his prophets.

In verse 26 it says, ” After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One  shall be cut off, and shall have nothing”. Now it does not say exactly when after. It does not say “the day after”. This is a very clear reference to the Messiah dying. Jesus died in hunger, nakedness and want of all things, so at that stage he “had nothing”. He gave it all up for us, totally emptying Himself and giving Himself for our salvation.

It makes sense to me to think that this actually refers to a time a few years after the end of the 69 weeks. I now believe that the first half of the 70th week has already been fulfilled, and this period of time was actually Jesus’ public ministry. Further confirmation can be found in verse 27.

The next part of verse 26 says:  “and the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and its end shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined.” Which city are we talking about. Clearly, Jerusalem. When did this happen? In 70 A.D. when general Titus besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple, thus fulfilling parts of the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24. Who were the “people of the Prince who shall come” then? Clearly the Romans. History documents that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

So who is or was the “Prince” mentioned here? At this point people who believe in the pre-tribulational Hal Lindsey type Bible prophecy scenario say that it is talking about “the Antichrist”. Is it NECESSARILY talking about the Antichrist? It doesn’t SAY Antichrist here. It just says the “Prince who is to come”. I say this is a reference to Titus, who at the time was the son of Emperor Vespasian, and later, according to Wikipedia, became emperor of Rome from 79-81. So to me it makes perfect sense to see Titus as the prince of the people who are to come. To read “a worldwide ruler” into this is eisigesis – that is, reading your pre-conceived theology into the text.

So far so good. Now we come to verse 27.

“He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall [wrath] be poured out on the desolate.”

The Hebrew Bible and other translations have “He shall confirm the covenant with many”. I think is is better.

The NKJV has “Then he shall make …”. This suggests an event AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem. This combined with the pre-conceived notion of a Roman antichrist gives some plausibility to the idea of the famous “7 year peace treaty” that the Antichrist is supposedly going to make with Israel. But nothing forces us to believe this stuff. You won’t find this doctrine explicitly in the Bible – only in certain Bible prophecy books which claim to know. But they don’t know. They are guessing.

The word “then” is not literally in there. In any case, if the antichrist was making a covenant, it would not be a very firm covenant. The promoters of the pre-trib view have the Antichrist breaking this “firm covenant” after 3 1/2 years. It doesn’t sound very firm to me.

The question is: biblically speaking, who makes a firm covenant with many? Or who confirms the covenant with many?

What if the historical Protestant view of this Scripture is correct? What is it is now reverting back to a discussion of the Messiah when it uses the word “He”. After all, in the Bible, about the most significant covenant was the Abrahamic covenant that through Abraham’s descendant (the Seed) all the nations of the earth would be blessed. There was also the Covenant made with Adam and Eve after the fall, that the Seed of the Woman would crush the Serpent’s head. Every covenantal promise made to the Jewish people needed Jesus to come as Messiah for it to be “confirmed”. And the other thought is “the many”. Throughout the Bible , the word “many” is often associated with those that should be redeemed by the salvation work of the Messiah. “Through my righteous servant many shall be made righteous”. So again, this “many” points to Jesus being the one confirming the strong covenant. By coming on the scene Jesus is confirming the covenant. And this thought relates directly to the contextual themes of this prophecy, “to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Even if there will be some kind of Antichrist making a peace treaty with Jews, it would not be as significant as the major covenant of God for our salvation, it wouldn’t be as firm, and it would not involve as MANY people. So its not looking all that likely to me that the fanciful antichrist interpretation is the right one.

If this is the case then the prophecy of Daniel fits nicely in with all this. “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; ” Did Jesus do this? Yes he did. By becoming the perfect sacrifice and offering for our sins, he did away with the need for further sacrifices and offerings for sin. It was only a matter of time before the Temple was destroyed and the Jews were unable to continue offering any kind of animal sacrifices for sins. But Jesus’ death really caused the sacrifice and offering to cease.

What, are we really expected to believe that the Jews are going to start sacrificing animals again for 3 1/2 years and then the Antichrist will stop them from doing so? Will God allow this to happen? I suspect not. I think the whole scenario is suspect. The Book of Hebrews says that they will shortly cease – not cease after a couple of thousand more years. These sacrifices have not been happening since 70 AD. Did God make them cease or not? I believe it has already happened. Furthermore, I think it very unlikely that the Jews will be able to negotiate with Islam to build a temple near the Islamic Dome of the Rock and the Al Asqa Mosque. Of course, some of speculating exactly this, but this speculation has to compete with a perfectly reasonable fulfilment scenario which has already happened through the ministry of Jesus Christ, and his death on the cross.

What does this mean for us?

If this interpretation is correct, then it means that 69 and a half weeks of Daniel’s prophecy for the Jewish people are already past. Half a week remins.

Now it is interesting and again I am indebted to Michael Fortner for this insight. It seems that God’s record of counting years of Jewish history at times only count the years that the Jews are in sufficiently right relationship with God. I now quote from Michael Fortner’s book – “Discoveries in Bible Prophecy”.

Most Bible commentaries say that the Jews will be converted at the return of Christ, but there is evidence in the Scriptures that a  fair number of them will be converted before the start of the Great  Tribulation. Sir Robert Anderson, in his book, The Coming Prince,   first published in 1889, discovered that God’s time-clock stopped  anytime the Jews were not in a proper relationship with God.  In 1 Kings 6:1, it says Solomon began to build the temple in  the 480th year after the children of Israel came out of Egypt, which  does not appear to be accurate; but if you include all the years in  which Israel was under judgment, then it accurately adds up to 573  years. Robert Anderson added up the times when the Israelites  were enslaved to foreign powers: 8 years to the king of Mesopotamia, 18 years to Moab, 20 years to Canaan, 7 years to the Midianites,  and 40 years to the Philistines; which equals 93. When you add 93 to 480, it comes to the correct number of 573 years.

It is obvious, therefore, that the 480 years of the book of Kings  from the Exodus to the temple is a mystic era formed by eliminating every period during which the people were cast off by God.

Mr. Anderson believed it means God’s time-clock will begin  again when the Jews become a nation again, but the times when  Israel were slaves did not refer to being away from the land, because being slaves to a foreign power did not require removal to  another land, and did not always include removal. Only the Kings  of Assyria and Babylon removed the Israelites.
When we apply the information that God’s time-clock stops  when the Jews are not in proper relationship with God, then this  explains why there is a gap in Daniel’s 70 weeks. God’s time clock stopped when the Jews rejected Messiah. Therefore, it  means God’s prophetic time-clock and the 70th week cannot begin  again until a certain number of the Jews accept Messiah.

This has a very exciting implication for us. It means that the returning of Jewish people to their Messiah (which is gathering steam now) has great prophetical significance for us today. Because if this understanding is correct, the last 3 and a half years before the End of the Age, which is called the “Great Tribulation” is getting very near. We will NOT be raptured before this event, as I have pointed out elsewhere. However, those of us who are walking closely with Christ before the start of this Great Tribulation period will have GREAT FAVOUR and PROTECTION from God in the Last Days and we will be used as revivalists during the Greatest Harvest of Souls the world has ever seen. Many other believers will be martyred at this time but some who are counted worthy by the Lord will make it right through to the Second (not Third) coming of Christ. There are special promises about this in the Bible. But this is for another article.

So be diligent to be found blameless. Be ready. There are many indications that the time of the Great Tribulation is at hand – very likely it will begin in the next few years some time. If a major Tsunami hits America it is a sign we are getting right into it.

 

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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