Daniels Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, Part Two

In part one of this article, we dissected the first half of the famous Prophecy of The Seventy Weeks, given to Daniel in 500 BC by the angel Gabriel. We discovered that the prophecy contains an precise time frame for events of monumental importance, including the exact day of the revealing of the Messiah. In this second part, we will consider events yet to be fulfilled.

The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks was given to Daniel specifically for his people, the House of Israel. As those who have been grafted in to this House by God’s grace and election, we Gentile believers in Jesus are also recipients of the message and promises of the prophecy. It is strongly recommended that the first part of this article be read before beginning this second part, as it provides an important foundation for understanding what follows.

We pick up the narrative in verse 26 of Daniel Chapter 9:

And after threescore (sixty) and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9: 26,27)

What history-changing, cataclysmic events are foretold in these two verses of scripture! This passage is the key to understanding pivotal end-time events, and it is the foundation upon which much of the Book of Revelation can be understood. A solid biblical understanding of eschatology necessarily begins with a correct understanding of these verses. Of this we can be absolutely sure: The Lord will bring the literal events of these two verses to pass with the same precise timing as He did the first part of the prophecy. These events will change history forever, even more so than the events of the first sixty nine weeks did. While many are confused about what the bible actually says about the end of this age, in fact a clear picture emerges when we begin to compare all the passages of scripture that deal with this subject.

The critical thing is to read what is written and take it at face value without attempting to wrestle verses into our preconceived templates. It is possible to twist the scriptures into saying almost anything we want them to say if we approach them with strong preconceived ideas. Perhaps nowhere is this error more prone than when studying the last days. Jesus and Paul both warned that the first order of business when seeking to know the truth about the end of the age would be to take heed against deception from men. Let us now seek to rightly interpret the second half of the prophecy.

The Prince Who Is To Come

Verse 26 begins with Messiah being “cut off” after 69 weeks (7 weeks + 62 weeks.) Notice that Messiah is revealed at the culmination of the first 69 weeks (see Part One), but he is cut off “after” the 69 weeks. How long after is not articulated, but history shows us that Jesus the Messiah was cut off (killed) just a few days after His revealing as King on Palm Sunday. He was “cut off, but not for Himself”… He gave His life as a ransom for many.

The prophecy continues that after Messiah is cut off, the people of the Prince who is to come shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the temple). We are also told that the end of this destruction shall come with a flood and that desolations are “determined” unto the end of the war. Jesus Himself predicted that the temple would be destroyed and that not one stone would be left upon another. Who is this coming prince, and who are these people that would destroy the city and the temple? This is a critical identification because the rest of this passage deals with this prince and his activities.

We would do well to keep in mind that Daniel has already had three visions prior to receiving the Seventy Weeks prophecy. In chapter two, he saw a vision of a great statue that represented four empires which would have great impact on Israel. In chapter seven, he saw another vision that covered the same topic in greater detail, using four beasts to show these same four empires. In this vision Daniel was introduced to a “little horn” that rose to great power. In chapter eight, he sees yet another vision of these four empires. Gabriel tells him that at the time of the end, a king of fierce countenance shall arise who shall destroy the holy people. It is upon this backdrop of understanding that Daniel is given the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in chapter nine.

There can be no doubt that the coming prince of chapter 9:26 is this same little horn of chapter seven and the same king of fierce countenance of chapter eight. He is the “man of sin”, the “son of perdition”, the “antichrist”, and he is called “the beast” in Revelation. It is important to note that in all four of Daniel’s visions, the end narrative is the same: The Messiah shall destroy this evil last-days king and establish an everlasting kingdom of peace and righteousness on the earth.

Who are the people of this prince, those predicted to destroy the city and the temple? It is a matter of historical record that the city of Jerusalem was besieged in 70 AD and the city and the temple were both destroyed exactly as Daniel and Jesus predicted. Who did this? Conventional modern Christian thinking lays the blame at the feet of Rome. Virtually all modern prophecy teachers espouse this view, with a few notable exceptions. But in fact, most secular historians (i.e. those not predisposed to a specific religious conclusion) place responsibility on the Arab people for the destruction in 70 AD.

The fact is that although Jerusalem was occupied by Rome and was under Roman authority, the regional Roman Legions were largely made up of local recruits. The respected Jewish historian Josephus, along with most secular scholars, tells us that the people who besieged Jerusalem in 70 AD were mostly Arabs acting under Roman authority. Josephus even records that word came from Roman authorities, ordering the Jerusalem legion to stand down and refrain from destroying the temple buildings, and that this order was ignored. It is no secret that the Arab nations surrounding Israel hate the Jews, and the historical evidence is that Arabs destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, motivated by hatred.

Also, a study on the Hebrew word translated “people” is more accurately rendered “bloodline.” In other words, the term designates an ethnic people group (such as Arabs) rather than those from a specific country (such as Romans.)  For more details about the destruction of Jerusalem and who was responsible, please see Joel Richardson’s excellent book, Mideast Beast (WND Books, Washington, D.C., 2012).

This identification is critically important because it points us toward an Islamic, not Roman, coming prince. For decades, prophecy teachers have described the antichrist as emerging from a revived Roman Empire, based largely on this single verse. Not only do we not see this geopolitical scenario emerging in the world today, it is not what Daniel saw in his four visions regarding the geopolitical alignments of the last days. For example, Daniel 7:7 describes this fourth beast as devouring, and breaking in pieces, and stamping the residue of the three previous beasts. Yet this is not an accurate description of Rome, and in fact the Roman Empire did not extend far enough eastward to cover the same territory as Babylon, Greece, or Persia. No, this coming prince of Daniel nine will almost certainly emerge from the Middle East, not Rome. This is articulated and confirmed by many of the Old Testament prophets. And this alignment of Middle Eastern countries against Israel is precisely what we are seeing in the news headlines today. We can take courage in these dangerous and uncertain times by knowing that the Lord God has everything in His complete control. “Unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”

The Gap of Time

There is a mysterious element, common to many biblical prophecies, which must be understood if we are to comprehend the meaning of such passages. Failure to grasp the reality of this element has resulted in great frustration among many expositors, and is responsible for an enormous amount of incorrect conclusions and bad teaching. What I am referring to is the element of a gap or delay in the chronology of prophecy. This has been described as if the prophet were on a mountain top (the present) looking out at a series of distant peaks (future events) without seeing the great valleys that separate the peaks (time gaps). Often these gaps of time occur in the middle of a sentence, or between two verses with no hint that the events they describe are not continuous!

For example, consider the famous “Christmas” prophecy in Isaiah chapter nine. Verse six tells us that, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” But without missing a beat, the verse continues, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Verse seven goes on to describe his throne and everlasting kingdom. You would never know from reading these verses (apart from history) that there has already been a time gap of two thousand years between the Son being given and His taking up governmental authority. A common reaction from those who fail to understand the reality of a time gap is to symbolize prophecy. Since the child has already been born, the reasoning goes, His government must be a symbolic one where he rules our hearts. This is a serious error, not because our hearts are unimportant, but because dismissing the literal application of prophecy leads to all kinds of bad doctrine and a gross misunderstanding of our Lord’s purposes in the last days. For example, the belief that the church has replaced the nation of Israel stems from symbolizing the literal interpretation of prophecy. This is a serious error that Paul corrects in Romans chapter eleven, but at the present time this thinking is firmly entrenched in most of the Western church.

Another classic example of a time gap in prophecy comes from the lips of Jesus Himself. In Luke’s gospel, chapter four, we see Jesus going to the temple in His home town. He stands up to read from the scroll of Isaiah:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord,”

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”  (Luke 4: 16-21)

If we study the passage in Isaiah 61 that Jesus is reading from, a fascinating observation can be made: Jesus stopped reading in the middle of a sentence! This was not because He ran out of time, or because he was hoping to make a great twitter quote. The rest of the passage continues,

… and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:2b-3)

This chapter of Isaiah is speaking primarily about the restoration of the House of Israel in the last days when the Lord will return bodily to rule them as their beloved King. Jesus understood that in the time frame of the Father’s purposes, there would be an extended gap of time between His first coming and His return. “The kingdom of Heaven is like a man who went on a long journey…” So far there has been almost two thousand years between the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1and the second half of Isaiah 61:2. Jesus came the first time to proclaim the good news of freedom and the opening of the prison, and the acceptable year of the Lord, but He knew that the Day of vengeance of God was yet for a future appointed time. If we can observe this principle of a gap of time in prophecy from Jesus’ own teaching, then that should serve to conclude the matter with absolute confidence.

Applying this gap principle (not theory, as it is sometime erroneously called) to the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, the confusion about continuity is immediately cleared up. The events foretold in verses 26 and 27 are not continuous with each other, or with the previous section of the prophecy; there is the familiar gap of time between “the people of the prince that shall come”, and “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one Week…” It is vital to emphasize again that it is a serious error to attempt to reconcile this literal gap of time by symbolizing the prophecy or seek to find its fulfillment in past events. The time frame for this final Week is clearly at the very end of this age; in fact, the events which the angel described to Daniel at the very beginning of the prophecy are all Messianic promises that begin to take place at the beginning of the Millennium as this current age transitions to the long-awaited 1000 year reign of world peace under the leadership of Jesus.

The Covenant with Many

Daniel 9:27 speaks of the final seven years of this age, and includes two time markers that can be used to determine very accurately the beginning and halfway points. Although many other chapters of scripture provide great detail about this period of time, the topic is given only a brief mention here. The cataclysmic events of this “time of Jacob’s trouble” will be so dramatic and dangerous that Jesus told His disciples that all people would die unless the Father cut the time short. He described this time as being so extreme that men’s hearts would fail them for fear, a time unlike no other in human history. It will be a time of great darkness and a time of great light. Daniel is told in a subsequent vision that even those of great wisdom who know their God and who do exploits shall perish during the final years of this Tribulation. It is the maturing of both the wheat and the tares at the end of the age, and the final rage of Satan as he attempts to destroy both the Church and the House of Israel.

We are told that this final Week (seven years) of the prophecy commences when this coming prince “shall confirm the covenant with many.” Often we can get sidetracked into drawing inaccurate conclusions about scripture when we read familiar verses with our preconceived filters or templates in place. This verse is a good example of this tendency. Notice what this verse does not say: It does not state that “the antichrist will make a peace treaty with Israel.” And yet, prophecy teachers have been teaching this idea for so long that it has become a firmly established mindset among those who study the end times. Let us examine the actual wording of this angelic pronouncement and attempt to discern its meaning in light of the witness of scripture as a whole.

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: (Daniel 9:27a)

First, it is important to understand who the “he” in this verse is referring to. In an attempt to make the events of verses 27 fit into past events fulfilled during the time of Jesus’ first coming, some interpreters connect the “he” in verse 27 with Messiah, rather than with “the prince who shall come.” These people, known as Preterists (a term that means “in the past”), typically deny any futuristic element to prophecy and teach that everything in biblical prophecy (including the book of Revelation) has already taken place. Preterists need to do a great deal of twisting and symbolizing of scripture in order to reach their conclusions, and they introduce great error into the body of Christ.

Grammatically it is correct to connect this “he” to the last mentioned person in the phrase or paragraph. In this instance that person is “the prince who is to come.” It is also correct to connect this “he” in verse 27 to the coming prince of verse 26 when we consider the greater context of scripture. This coming prince is clearly the evil final demonic leader seen in Daniel’s earlier and later visions, as well as in many other biblical passages throughout the Old and New Testaments. This final beast ruler is consistently described as one who desecrates the temple in the last days and wages the worst war in all of human history against Israel and the saints. Jesus Himself referred to this verse in Daniel’s prophecy when teaching His disciples about the events of the end of the age:

When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand… (Matt. 24:15)

So we can conclude with certainty that the “he” of verse 27 refers to the prince who shall come of verse 26, the interpretation of Jesus being the end of the matter.

It was mentioned above that it is common among modern prophecy teachers to state that antichrist will make a peace treaty with Israel. While this may happen, the wording of the verse does not make this specific prediction. Rather, Gabriel tells Daniel that this prince will confirm the covenant with many. Translators and commentaries are not in agreement as to the correct wording of the verse, being rather evenly divided between “confirming the covenant” and “making a covenant.” These subtle differences are not as trivial as they may appear in a casual reading. When studying this verse using multiple English translations, it is interesting to note that many modern translations and paraphrases render this verse, “he will make a covenant”, while most older translations use the words, “confirm the covenant.” One has to wonder how much influence the prevailing mindset of a “peace treaty with Israel” has had on modern translators.

What does it mean to confirm something? Generally it means to affirm, agree with, legally ratify, or make definite. If “confirm” is in fact the best translation of the Hebrew, then this covenant would need to be one that is already in existence when this prince comes into power. Conversely, “making” a covenant would denote something new and not already in place. The Hebrew word means, “to strengthen, to make strong.” This seems to agree more with “confirm” than with “make.”

There is also a potentially important difference between confirming “the” covenant, and making “a” covenant. Again, translators seem evenly divided between these two words. If the angel was speaking of “the” covenant to Daniel, then he would have almost certainly understood this to refer to the Abrahamic covenant that God made with the patriarch. The right of the Jewish people to possess the land promised to them is central to this eternal covenant.

The Hebrew word translated “covenant” in this verse is briyth, pronounced ber-eeth’. It is the word that God used when He made this everlasting covenant with Abraham. Several commentaries point out that this word is only used in scripture to refer to Divine covenants between God and man, never to human agreements or leagues made with each other. Although we must remain open-minded regarding as-yet unfulfilled scripture, I would suggest that the antichrist confirming an existing Divine covenant makes more sense in light of coming events predicted in scripture. This is especially true if Israel is involved with accepting the terms of this confirmation, as they almost surely will be.

That the verse does not specifically mention Israel lends itself to a more broad application of the term “many.” Since this prophecy was specifically given to Daniel regarding the future of his people, we would expect for this confirming of the covenant to apply only to them if no other people group was mentioned. In other words, if the prophecy stated that “he will confirm the covenant for one week…” then we would understand that in context this would apply to Israel alone. However, the inclusion of the word “many” is strong evidence that this confirmation of the covenant will affect a lot of other people besides Israel.

What covenant might possibly be at the center of this drama? Perhaps it involves one of the most contested and politically hot issues of our day: Israel’s covenant right to the land of promise. Even those with only a casual interest in current events are keenly aware that hostilities involving the land are the biggest hindrance to peace in the Middle East today. It is not difficult to imagine the global impact of a man who manages to broker a peace deal in the Middle East that both Jew and Palestinian can agree on. If such a man could confirm the ancient covenant that grants Israel the right to dwell peacefully in the land, with the Palestinians appearing to go along with it, a seemingly impossible era of “world peace” would be in sight. In fact, such a time of false peace based on deception in the last days is predicted numerous times in scripture. This is certainly implied by Jesus’ comparison with the time of Noah:

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matt. 24:37-39)

The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica about this time:

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction will come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (I Thes. 5:3)

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thes. 2:11)

Can you imagine a scenario in today’s world in which it would be possible for humanity (and specifically Israel) to say “peace and safety?” It is clear that something of global significance must take place in order to shift the current geopolitical realities of hatred, terrorism, and bitter division in order to declare “peace and safety.” Paul speaks of God sending strong delusion. The whole earth will fall for this trap, with the exception of knowledgeable Christians who will be proclaiming the truth. If you think the church is unpopular now, just wait until “right wing religious fanatics” are the only holdouts against “world peace” finally becoming a possibility!

As with all unfulfilled prophecy, we must refrain from making dogmatic interpretations. God has given us enough detail to know the truth when events unfold; He has not given us prophecy so that we can know beforehand every detail of future events. But we can take great confidence and courage that He has revealed all we do need to know so that we will be fully equipped in that day to stand firm in the truth and to resist the deception that will be sweeping the earth.

Regardless of how things actually play out, we can know this: The beginning of the Seventieth Week of the prophecy will commence with the confirmation (or the making) of this covenant. Some have suggested that this may be done in secret, and that the church may not know of the event when it happens. I reject this notion. It makes no sense to suggest that we would not be able to see the predicted events when they take place at the appointed time. The events of the first 69 weeks were fulfilled in a very visible, literal way; the events of the final week will also be fulfilled in a literal, visible way. These events were foretold by Gabriel specifically so that we could know them when they happen.

When this covenant is confirmed or strengthened “for one week”, God’s time clock of the final seven prophetic years of this age will begin to count down, consummating with the literal, visible return of Christ to fulfill all the wonderful promises given to Daniel at the beginning of the prophecy. These seven years will, without question, run their course with the same precision of the first 69 weeks. For more discussion on this subject, see the article, “Knowing the Day and Hour of Jesus’ Return.”

In the Middle of the Week

…and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27b)

The stopping of the sacrifice and oblation is the second time marker, and it takes place at the halfway point of the week. This seems to strongly imply that the Jewish people will have a temple and will be practicing the Levitical sacrifices and engaging in traditional Jewish worship rituals. It is quite possible that the confirming of the seven-year covenant will allow this to take place for the first time in centuries.

As we saw in detail in the first part of this article, time in biblical prophecy is not reckoned according to the 365-day solar calendar. Rather, a biblical prophetic year has been demonstrated to be 360 days. The number of days that make up the final seven years of the prophecy is 2,520 days. These days are divided into two periods of 1260 days, or 3 ½ years each. The second period of 1260 days is known in scripture as the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble, and according to Jesus it will be the worst time in all of human history. He told us that unless the Father limited the length of this time that no person would survive- the extinction of the human race.

These two time periods of 1260 days and the events associated with them are well-documented in scripture. Daniel was the first to describe them, and the book of Revelation adds much detail. Jesus told His disciples to watch for the terrible event known as the abomination of desolation that marks the middle of Daniel’s 70th week:

When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand), then let them which are in Judaea flee into the mountains: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matt. 24:15, 21-22)

What is this “abomination of desolation? Admittedly the language of Daniel 9:27 is difficult to understand in the King James translation. When we compare Daniel with Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel, with Paul in first and second Thessalonians, and with the Revelation, a picture emerges of a final terrible king who wages a great war against God’s people in the last days of this present age. Again, we must guard against making detailed predictions for unfulfilled prophecy, but the book of Revelation tells us that an image will be set up that can both speak and that will have the power to kill all those who will not worship the image. Paul tells us:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (II Thes. 2:3-4)

While I am generally not an advocate of using modern language paraphrases of scripture for daily reading and study, these can be useful for bringing clarity to certain passages. Consider Daniel 9:27 as worded in The Message:

…halfway through the seven (years) he will banish worship and prayers. At the place of worship, a desecrating obscenity will be set up and remain until finally the desecrator himself is decisively destroyed.

Conclusion

Jesus taught us to watch and pray, to know and discern the signs of the times, to be ready, and to not be caught off guard when these things all begin to take place. Although no one knows how soon these final years will commence, it isn’t difficult to see world events escalating toward the geopolitical realities detailed in the prophets and especially in the book of Daniel. While the times seem uncertain and humanity is filled with apprehension about what is coming financially and politically, disciples of Jesus can take courage knowing our Lord has not left us guessing about the events and timeline of the end of the age. When we see a seven-year covenant ratified, along with other signs from scripture, we will know with certainty what lies ahead. We will also, for the first time, be able to establish an accurate time frame for the glorious return of our King. And when we observe the abomination of desolation, we will be able to take great solace and courage, knowing the days until we see Him are short.

It is vital to maintain a biblical perspective in light of what will soon come upon the earth. The tribulation is not about the antichrist; it is the final birth pangs of a new age and the great harvest of both the wheat and the tares at the end of this age. The prophecies all end with the same event: The visible return of Christ to establish His millennial kingdom, with the overcoming saints ruling and governing the earth in partnership with Him. Let us put aside silly images of floating on clouds with harps or living in “mansions” in the sky. Let us embrace the glory and beauty of what the bible tells us concerning this new age:

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. The great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. (Daniel 2: 44-45)

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7: 13-14, 27)

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a garment soaked in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

Even so, Amen.