POSTMILLENNIALISM AND DANIEL’S 70th WEEK

PMT 2013-028 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Candelabra takenThis is part four of a series on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27). We are now focusing on what Daniel says about what Israel will experience “after the sixty-two weeks” (Dan. 9:26) that follow the “seven weeks” (Dan 9:25). This is to occur, then, after the sixty-ninth week. A natural reading of the text demands that this be during the seventieth week, for that is the only time remaining to accomplish the stated goals of the prophecy (Dan. 9:24).

At that time “Messiah shall be cut off.” The English rendering “cut off” translates the Hebrew karath which “is used of the death penalty, Lev. 7:20; and refers to a violent death.” 1 Thus, it refers to the death of Christ on the cross.

Given the Hebraic pattern of repetition, we may easily discern a parallel between verses 26 and 27: verse 27 expands on verse 26. Negatively, Messiah’s cutting off in verse 26 results from Israel’s completing her transgression culminating (v. 24) in her crucifying the Messiah.1 Verse 27 states: “He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” Positively, then, confirming the covenant with “many” effects reconciliation and brings in everlasting righteousness (v. 24). Thus, these parallels refer to the same event when viewed from the two angles of blessing and curse (cp. Deut. 11:26; 30:1). Both occur within the seventy weeks.

The Confirming of the Covenant

What are we to make of the “confirming of the covenant” in verse 27? This surely refers to the prophesied covenantal actions of verse 24. These actions result from the perfect covenantal Jubilee (seventy weeks) and are a result of Daniel’s covenantal prayer (cf. v. 4). This covenant must be the divine covenant of God’s redemptive grace.3 Messiah comes to confirm the covenantal promises: “to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant” (Luke 1:72).4 He confirms the covenant by his death on the cross: “by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22b).5


Navigating Revelation (by Ken Gentry)
In this work you will see how John put on the mantle of the Old Testament prophet to confront Israel in her rebellion. You will understand his anger with Israel, paralleling John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel.


Furthermore, the word translated “confirm” (Heb., higbir) is related to the name of the angel Gabriel who brings Daniel the revelation of the seventy weeks (he also later brings the revelation of Christ’s birth [Luke 1:19, 26]). “Gabriel” (Heb., gabriel) is based on the Hebrew gibbor, “strong one,” a concept frequently associated with the covenant God.6 The related word found in Daniel 9:27 means to “make strong, confirm.” 7 This certainly is a “firm covenant” for it brings about “everlasting righteousness” (Dan. 9:24).

Daniel’s prayer is particularly for Israel (Dan. 9:3ff) and it recognizes that God promises mercy to those who love Him (v. 4). Therefore, the prophecy holds that the covenant will be confirmed with many for one week. The reference to the “many” speaks of the faithful in Israel. “Thus a contrast is introduced between He and the Many, a contrast which appears to reflect upon the great Messianic passage, Isa. 52:13-53:12 and particularly 53:11. Although the entire nation will not receive salvation, the many will receive.” 8

This confirming of God’s covenant with the “many” of Israel will occur in the middle of the seventieth week (v. 27). This timing parallels “after the sixty-two [and seven] weeks” (v. 26), while providing more detail. We know Christ’s three and one-half year ministry in the first half of the seventieth week decidedly focuses on the Jews, for he commands his disciples: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans” (Matt. 10:5b; cp. Matt. 15:24). Then for three and one-half years after the crucifixion, the apostles focus almost exclusively on the Jews.9 They begin first “in Judea” (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:14) because “the gospel of Christ” is “for the Jew first” (Rom. 1:16; cf. 2:10; John 4:22).

Although Daniel clearly specifies the event that serves as the terminus of the sixty-ninth week, he does not specify the terminus of the seventieth week. Apparently, an exact event ending the seventieth is not as significant to know. Interestingly though, at the stoning of Stephen, the first recorded martyr of Christianity, the covenantal proclamation begins turning to the Gentiles. The apostle to the Gentiles appears on the scene at Stephen’s death as the Jewish persecution against Christianity breaks out: “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church that was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). Acts informs us that Paul’s mission is to take the growing faith beyond a narrow Jewish focus: “he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul’s conversion shortly after Stephen’s stoning occurs in about A.D. 34 or 35.10

This confirming of the covenant occurs “in the middle of the week” (v. 27). I show above that the seventieth week begins with the baptismal anointing of Christ. Then after three and one-half years of ministry — the middle of the seventieth week — Christ is crucified.11 The prophecy states that by his conclusive confirming of the covenant, Messiah will “bring an end to sacrifice and offering” (v. 27). He does this by offering up Himself as a sacrifice for sin: “Now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:25-26; cp. Heb. 7:11-12, 18-22). Consequently, at his death the Temple veil rips from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). This is miraculous evidence God is legally disestablishing the sacrificial system (cf. Matt. 23:38). Christ is the Lamb of God (John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:19) who opens the Holy of holies to his people (Heb. 4:14; 9:12, 24-26; 10:19-22).

The Destruction of Jerusalem

But how are we to understand the latter portions of verses 26 and 27? What are we to make of the destruction of “the city and sanctuary” (v. 26)? What does Daniel mean by “the abomination that causes desolation” (v. 27)? Do not most evangelical commentators agree that this speaks of A.D. 70, which occurs forty years after the crucifixion? And in this, do they not follow Josephus? Josephus applies Daniel 9:27 to the A.D.70 events: “In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them” (Ant. 10:11:7).

In verse 26 we learn there are two events to occur after the sixty-ninth week: (1) Messiah is to be “cut off” and (2) the city and sanctuary are to be destroyed. Verse 27a informs us that Messiah’s cutting off (v. 26a) confirms the covenant and occurs at the half-way point of the seventieth week. So Messiah’s death is clearly within the time-frame of the seventy weeks (as we expect, since he is the major figure of the prophecy).

The events involving the destruction of the city and the sanctuary with war and desolation (vv. 26b, 27b) are the consequences of the cutting off of the Messiah. They do not necessarily occur in the seventy weeks time-frame — they are an addendum to the point of the prophecy stated in verse 24.

This prophecy anticipates, however, the destructive acts occurring in A.D. 70: in the divine act of sealing up (or reserving) Israel’s sin for punishment. Israel’s climactic sin is completing her transgression (v. 24) in “cutting off” Messiah (v. 26a). In response to this, God reserves her judgment for later. God will judge Israel’s sin — after the seventy weeks expire. He will neither forget her sin nor delay her punishment forever. This explains the “very indefinite” phrase “till the end of the war”: the “end” will not occur in the seventy weeks. We today know the end occurs in A.D. 70, as Christ makes abundantly clear in Matthew 24:15.


Notes

  1. E. J. Young, The Prophecies of Daniel, 206.
  2. Matt. 20:18-19; 27:11-25; Mark 10:33; 15:1; Luke 18:32; 23:1-2
  3. When “covenant” is mentioned in Daniel, it always refers to God’s covenant, see: Daniel 9:4; 11:22, 28, 30, 32. This includes even Dan. 11:22; see: Pentecost, “Daniel,” Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1369.
  4. His covenants are “the covenants of the promise” (Eph. 2:12).
  5. Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24
  6. Deut. 7:9, 21; 10:17; Neh. 1:5; 9:32; Isa. 9:6; Dan. 9:4.
  7. Young, Daniel, 209.
  8. Young, Daniel, 213.
  9. J. B. Payne, “The Goal of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks,” 109n.
  10. D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 230-231.
  11. Luke alludes to the length of his ministry in Luke 13:6-9.

Beast, Daniel 9, and Postmillennialism (1 CD)
WMCA Radio (New York) interview on eschatological issues.
 


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2 thoughts on “POSTMILLENNIALISM AND DANIEL’S 70th WEEK

  1. George A Crocker November 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Amen

  2. Wanda November 19, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Amen!

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