The Seventieth Week of Daniel Explained-Dan. 9.24-27, Mt. 24.15

(All scripture quotations NET Bible unless otherwise noted.)

Previously, I linked to The Daniel 9.24-27 Project, which effectively argued for the date of the Decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the start of Daniel’s 70 weeks of years at 457 BCE:

The school from which I got my theological training held to the 445 BCE date for the start of reckoning of the prophecy, and I could never get the dates to line up with the events of the First Century. No wonder, since that date is most likely wrong. 457 BCE is the better date for establishing the historical reference of where to begin the prophetic reckoning.

“Let the Reader Understand”

So when you see the abomination of desolation – spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)-Mt. 24.15

These words of Jesus, from the so-called Olivet Discourse, indicate that the abomination of desolation of Antiochus Epiphanes IV in 167 BCE was not the end-times event but only a precursor. Here is God’s revelation given to Daniel to which Jesus refers:

Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times. Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of that week he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys. (Dan. 9.24-27)

Sixty nine prophetic weeks-483 years-have occurred since the issuing of the decree in 457 BCE until Christ’s Triumphal Entry (arrival)/Crucifixion: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives (vs.25). Therefore:

483 (69 Weeks) minus 457 BCE (Decree) equals 26/27 CE (Messiah’s Death)

This calculation allows for discrepancies between Persian and Jewish time reference. Many scholars place Jesus’ crucifixion on day 14 (Passover) of the Jewish first month of 27 CE. If Jesus was born Oct./Nov. 7 BCE, He would have been 33 years old when He was cut off (Dan. 9.26).

The Rationale for a 7/6 BCE date of Jesus’ Birth

Herod the Great probably died in either 4 or 1 BCE. Before this he hunted for the one born King of the Jews after hearing about Him from the Magi (Mt. 2.1). Therefore, Jesus was born prior to Herod’s death. Herod had infants put to death who were under two years old in his search for Jesus from the reckoning given by the wise men (Mt. 2.16). Also, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus escaped to Egypt to await Herod’s death after the visit from the Magi. This episode could have lasted 2-4 years. Even if Herod’s timeframe was cushioned by his order of killing the 2-year-olds and under, Jesus probably was at least 1.5 years old at the start of the escape to Egypt. Therefore, the age of Jesus at Herod’s death was between 2-5 years old, giving the range of His birth at 7-4 BCE.

The death of Jesus is calculated from knowing His age at the time of crucifixion. It is widely assumed His ministry lasted at least 3 years and started when He was about 30 years old (Lk. 3.23). The inception of His ministry coincides with the age of Jewish Priests entering into their service at 30 years of age (Num. 4.3,30; Ezek. 1.1). Since Jesus’ ministry during His first Advent was to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9.28), it was appropriate to begin His service of High Priest (and Sacrifice) at the indicated age in the Mosaic Covenant since it was His to fulfill (see Gal. 3.19). Therefore, Jesus was about 33 years old at His death.

The Intercalation Between the 69th and 70th Week

The death of Jesus marked the end of the 69th prophetic week and set the stage for an intercalation before the start of the 70th week. Since weeks are referenced, and a gap is created in the prophetic timeline, the proper term for this gap is an intercalation. This gap phenomenon in Dan. 9 is similar to the one in Is. 61. 1-2. In Isaiah, the gap occurs between 61.2a and 61.2b. This fact is seen in Lk. 4.16-21 when Jesus quotes Is. 61.1-2a in His Synagogue reading and stops before 2b, saying: Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read (Lk. 4.21). Since Is. 61.2b speaks of vengeance, a gap occurs in Isaiah’s prophecy. This vengeance is delayed until the time of judgment ending the 70th week. This intercalary between the the 69th and 70th weeks featured the pouring out of the Spirit at Shavuot, 50 days after Jesus died. With both Passover (Pesach) and Pentecost (Shavuot) fulfilled, only one more prophetic feast cluster remains to conclude the Times of the Lord (Lev. 23.2). The cluster of Jewish feasts in the seventh month are Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. These prophetic feasts are fulfilled with the conclusion of Daniel’s 70th week.

After the 7-week Jubilee (Dan. 9.25)-7 weeks and subsequent 8 more Jubilees plus 6 weeks of years = 69 weeks of years, Christ’s work of High Priest was finished: Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing (vs. 26). Though the previous 7 weeks are not repeated, they are understood as being included in the tally to add up the total, equaling 69 weeks. This probably reflects the conventional way people communicated during that time which differed from us Moderns.

It seems the text of Daniel conflates the time of Messiah’s arrival and His being cut off into almost one event. The Triumphal Entry and Crucifixion were 5 days apart. This conflating of the two events is understandable since this was the nature of His First Mission: Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn. 1.29).

The intercalary occurs between the 69 weeks and the 70th since the weeks include specific events which only some seem to have happened: Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place (vs. 24).

To put an end to rebellion most likely refers to Paul’s statement in 2Th. 2.2b-3: to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. Paul maintains that the Day of the Lord puts down the end-time rebellion; therefore, it is very probable that this event is referenced in Dan. 9.24. Since this has not occurred, an intercalary is necessary.

To bring sin to completion seems somewhat ambiguous. To what is the prophecy referring? Is it the Christian’s individual sin taken care of at Calvary or sinful mankind’s judgment? Since sin is not yet completed in either the Christian or the world, the end must be in view, and thus, a gap between the last two weeks.

The next phrase is slightly less ambiguous: to atone for iniquity. This is more likely to see the sinner’s guilt erased at the cross. However, some could argue the unrepentant will have to pay for their own sins at the Judgment of the Last Day, which concludes the Seventieth Week.

On balance, the next clause, to bring in perpetual righteousness, almost certainly seems to look toward the conclusion of Daniel’s 70th week. I suppose some would still see redeemed sinners experiencing progressive righteousness during The Intercalation as fulfillment of the prophecy. It’s much better, however, to see this fulfillment until after Christ returns.

To seal up the prophetic vision seems likely to only refer to Christ’s final culmination at The Day of the Lord, since the events referenced conclude at that time. Another rendering has seal up vision and prophecy, which says, essentially, the same as the NET translation. However, sealing involves nondisclosure from the basic meaning of the term. The Book of Revelation features breaking or opening of seals which brings about prophetic resolution. Also, the times or seasons (Acts 1.7) of Christ’s Return is hidden from all but The Father, and therefore, sealed from being disclosed. On balance, this seems to have occurred prior to the 70th week and, therefore, requires an intercalary.

To anoint a most holy place is likewise ambiguous since place is not in the text. If one were to look only at O.T. references, then The Holy of Holies of a future Jewish Temple could be in view, as the NET translation seems to imply. In Ex.30.22-33, Moses was instructed to make the anointing oil for anointing both the articles of the Tabernacle and Aaron and his sons. Jesus, who was called Christ (anointed), would be another viewpoint since both the Jewish High Priests and the Davidic Kings were anointed, and Jesus is both. Additionally, the text goes on to reference the anointed one, in vss. 25 and 26, which clearly refers to Jesus. Therefore, the most consistent referent appears to be Jesus, the Messiah. This anointing probably refers to the start of Jesus’ ministry when the Spirit descended on Him at the time of His baptism. Though the baptism was prior to the end of the 69th week, I think it’s best to see the formal Triumphal Entry as the specific point of reference.

The Abomination of Desolation

This abomination of desolation of which Jesus speaks is reflected in the phrase from Dan. 9.27b: he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys. This is somewhat of a mangled translation of a seemingly cryptic and ambiguous statement but most other versions hardly do better. The basic idea is, the abomination results in God desolating the one who caused this sin and taking away his temporal earthly rule.

The precursor event of Antiochus in 167 BCE helps illustrate the End-Time Event described in 9.27b. The abomination of desolation of Antiochus Epiphanes IV consisted of erecting a Pagan altar to Zeus on top of the 2nd Temple’s altar and then sacrificing a pig on it. The End-Time Event will probably be much different but conceptually the same. The timing of it is very clear, occurring at the mid-point of the 70th week (vs. 27a). The 70th week of years (7 years) is known as the Tribulation. This Antichrist will make a treaty at the start of the week, allowing Jewish sacrifices and break it in the middle, probably by this abomination of desolation. The Book of Revelation also marks this time with the Seals opened and the Trumpets sounded during the first half of the Tribulation (chapters 5-10), while the Bowls of Plagues pour out during the second half of the 70th week (chapters 15-16).

Many think the phrase On the wing of in Dan. 9.27 probably refers to a section of the Future Temple Complex. Also, the phrase the one who destroys focuses on an individual and not an animal sacrifice, as was the 167 BCE event. This one who destroys has the decreed end poured out (Bowls of Plagues) upon him by the end of the 70th week, concluding the revelation and marking the time when Christ returns.

This end-time abomination of desolation is referenced in at least one place in the New Testament but probably alluded to in several others. In 2Th. 2.4, Paul references an event which is, most likely, the end-time abomination of desolation: He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. This shows his true motivation, since he agreed to allow sacrifices, then breaks the covenant by demanding worship of himself.

This is rivalry to God by mimicking certain aspects of the Messiah. Because Jesus didn’t appear as a Davidic conqueror on His first mission, many did not accept Him. However, Jesus fulfills many roles, and does so perfectly. Since He is the Creator (Jn.1. 3), all offices in the created order belong to Him: For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us [or-be our Savior] (Is. 33.22 NIV). While He has always been Judge, Lawgiver, and King; His High Priestly function and Sacrifice worked for our personal salvation from sins. Jesus was God’s mystery, meeting our need of a Savior (see Col.1.26-27, 2.2).

Unlike the Christian’s indwelling, the false spirit is able to temporarily work in humans: in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience (Eph.2.2). Also, Satan entered into Judas before he betrayed Jesus (Lk. 22.3, Jn.13.27). Further, this unholy triumvirate of the Book of Revelation is able to inhabit inanimate objects: The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed (Rev. 13.15).

The NET Bible in Rev. 13.15 gives the wrong rendering in this verse when translating pnuema (spirit/breath/wind) as “give life.” The translators probably rendered pnuema as breath and took an unwarranted leap of logic giving a power to this false prophet that he doesn’t have, namely, the ability to give life, which is only God’s prerogative. The text clearly states that this is a false miracle meant to deceive. The false prophet doesn’t give the image life; its’s only a lying spirit speaking through an inanimate object; it’s not living! In Rev. 16.13-14a, the text illustrates probably how the false prophet is able to energize this image: Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs. This description of evil spirit activity in the book of Revelation is very similar to the devil speaking through a serpent in The Garden of Eden, except, in that case, it was an animal. The unholy triumvirate wants people to forget the truth of God’s creation: for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him (Col. 1.16).

Moreover, this temporary false spirit indwelling explains another event in Rev. 13.3: One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement. This counterfeit miracle wants to replicate a resurrection, but it’s not; it’s only a lying wonder to lead people astray. Ultimately, God is in control of all these events and allows them. He also deludes those who refuse to follow Him: The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned (2Th.2. 9-12).

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