WHAT IS THE GOAL OF DANIEL 9:24?

PMT 2013-027 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

SealIn studying Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy, it is important that we carefully consider Daniel 9:24. This verse provides the ultimate goal of the prophecy: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” Let me briefly sketch the events in verse 24 within the context of the whole prophecy.

The Significance of Verse 24

The six infinitival phrases of verse 24 form three couplets, which serve as the main point of the prophecy and as the heading to the explication that follows. “Know therefore and understand” (9:25) introduces that explication. Correspondences should exist, then, between the events of verse 24 and the prophecy of verses 25-27.

Among non-dispensational evangelicals the general view of Daniel 9:24 holds that these six elements are the goal of the whole prophecy and that they occurred during the first advent 2000 years ago. Contrary to this view, Culver puts the matter into bold dispensational relief: these events are “not to be found in any event near the earthly lifetime of our Lord.” Ryrie points to this verse and applies it to our future: “God will once again turn His attention in a special way to His people the Jews and to His holy city Jerusalem, as outlined in Daniel 9:24.” Clearly then, the dispensationalist adopts a decidedly futurist approach to the prophecy — when he gets past the first sixty-nine weeks.

The seventy weeks prophecy definitely focuses on Israel, as we may surmise from Daniel’s contemplating Israel’s captivity (Dan. 9:2) and his prayer of confession in her behalf (Dan. 9:4-22). But, of course, Israel’s Messiah is the only Savior of men, so the accomplishments of His work reach beyond the Jewish people — as the Old Testament makes abundantly clear (e.g., Psa. 72:8; Isa. 2:2-4; 11:9-10).

We see this universal saving work in other prophecies; we see it again here. Still, a significant emphasis on Israel does appear here. Daniel ends with the “anointing of the Most Holy” (Dan 9:24), not because it is chronologically final, but so that he may lead directly to the presentation of the “Messiah” (messhua, “anointed one,” v. 25). As I shall show, these six elements involve a mixture of blessing and curse, a common phenomenon in covenantal promises.

The Six Goals of Verse 24

Let us notice, first, that the seventy weeks will result in the finishing of the transgression. Remember that Daniel’s prayer of confession regards Israel’s sins (Dan. 9:4ff) and the prophecy’s focus is on Israel (Dan. 9:24a). Consequently, this finishing (kala) the transgression refers to Israel’s completing her transgression against God. This occurs when Israel culminates her resistance to God by rejecting his Son and having Him crucified, as Christ Himself prophesies in parabolic form: “Last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance’” (Matt. 21:37-38).


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The second part of the couplet directly relates to the first: upon finishing the transgression against God by rejecting the Messiah, Israel’s sins are sealed up (NASB and ASV marg.; chatham). As Payne observes, the idea here is to seal or to “reserve sins for punishment.” Because of Israel’s rejecting her Messiah, God reserves punishment for her. God will execute her punishment by finally and conclusively destroying her Temple. But God reserves this punishment from the time of Jesus’s crucifixion in A.D. 30 until A.D. 70 (Matt. 24:2, 34).

The sealing or reserving of the sins indicates that within the “seventy weeks” Israel will complete her transgression and God will act to reserve her sins for judgment — and that judgment will fall upon her after the expiration of the seventy weeks time-frame. This is a major point in the Lord’s Olivet Discourse: though just before his crucifixion Christ says, “Your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:3), He then reserves his judgment for one generation (Matt. 24:2, 34).

The third result (beginning the second couplet) provides “reconciliation for iniquity.” The Hebrew word for “reconciliation” is kaphar, which we may also translate “atonement.” It clearly speaks of Christ’s atoning death, which is the ultimate atonement to which all Temple rituals point (Heb. 9:26). This also occurs during his earthly ministry — at his death.

The dispensationalist, however, prefers to interpret this result as application rather than effecting, as subjective appropriation instead of objective accomplishment. Walvoord admits that this result “seems to be a rather clear picture of the cross of Christ,” but then he asserts that “the actual application of it is again associated with the second advent as far as Israel is concerned.” On the basis of the Hebrew verb, however, the passage surely speaks of actually making reconciliation (or atonement).

This atonement for sin secures the fourth result, everlasting righteousness, which speaks of the objective accomplishment of righteousness, not its subjective appropriation. Christ secures this within the seventy week period, while in his redemptive activity on earth. Speaking of Christ’s work, Paul writes: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Rom. 3:21-25).


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The fifth result (the first portion of the third couplet) also reflects Christ’s ministry on earth, which his baptism introduces: He comes “to seal up vision and prophecy.” This speaks of Christ’s fulfilling — and thereby confirming — prophecy. Committed dispensationalists resist this idea, arguing that Christ does not fulfill all prophecy at that time. But neither does He in the seventieth week at the supposed future Tribulation. Nor in the dispensationalist’s millennium. For following these are the final apostasy, the resurrection, and the New Heavens and New Earth.

Actually, the “sealing of prophecy” is limited by the express statement of purpose in Daniel 9: the full accomplishing of redemption from sin through blood atonement. And Christ does effect this: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished” (Luke 18:31; cp. Luke 24:44; Acts 3:18).

Finally, the seventy weeks of years will witness the following goal: “to anoint the Most Holy.” This anointing (mashach) speaks of the formal introduction of Christ by means of his baptism, rather than the anointing of the Temple. This seems clear from the following:

  1. The overriding concern of Daniel 9:24-27 is Messianic. The Temple built after the Babylonian Captivity will be destroyed after the seventy weeks (v. 27). Daniel makes no further mention of it; nor does his prophecy allow for its re-building for the millennium.
  2. In the verses following the anointing, Daniel mentions the Messiah (mashiyach, “anointed one”) twice (vv. 25, 26).
  3. Contrary to the interpretation of some dispensationalists, no Temple is anointed in Scripture — whether Solomon’s original Temple, Zerubbabel’s rebuilt Temple, Ezekiel’s visionary Temple, or Herod’s expanded Temple. Thus, even some dispensationalists (such as J. Dwight Pentecost) will allow that Christ Himself is in view.

The phrase “most holy” speaks of the Messiah who is “that Holy One who is to be born” (Luke 1:35). Isaiah prophesies of Christ in the ultimate redemptive Jubilee: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Isa. 61:1-2a; cp. Luke 4:17-21).

At his baptismal anointing the Spirit comes upon Him (Mark 1:9-11) to prepare Him for his ministry, of which we read three verses later: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled [the sixty-ninth week?], and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15). Christ is preeminently the Anointed One (Psa. 2:2; 132:10; Isa. 11:2; 42:1; Hab. 3:13; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9).

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