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Daniel's 70 Weeks

John Hoole

In our last lesson we saw that the Old Testament prophets had great difficulty understanding all the prophecies that were given with regard to the coming Messiah. In 1 Peter 1:10-11, Peter tells us they did not understand that the Messiah would first suffer which would be followed by the glories of kingship. The reason they had such difficulty was because the Old Testament prophets failed to consider there might be more than one coming that was being addressed by their prophecies.

They saw the mountain peaks of prophecy very clearly, but failed to understand that between the mountains in the foreground and those behind, there was a valley of significant size and distance. They did not see the valley of the "Church Age" between the 1st and 2nd comings of Christ.

Just at the end of our last lesson, we began looking at how the Old Testament prophets skipped completely over the "church age" right in the middle of their prophecies. We looked at one example last week. Let's review it and look at a few more example. I think you will see that skipping over the "church age" is the rule, not the exception, for Old Testament prophets.

Probably the clearest example of this principle is found in Isaiah 61:1-2. This passage was quote by Jesus in Luke 4:17-21. Let's read Luke's account first, where we find Jesus reading from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue.

Luke 4:17-21 NIV

17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Jesus closes the scroll and hands it back to the attendant. As He reads the book of Isaiah, Jesus ends his reading by doing a strange thing. He doesn't stop at the end of a sentence, but at a comma. It goes on to say they sat there staring at Him. He then adds, "This day is the scripture fulfilled in your hearing."

WHY DID JESUS STOP SQUARELY IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE?

It is because the next phrase, "And the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn" was not fulfilled at the moment Christ read these words. They would not be fulfilled for more than 1900 years. God's day of vengeance will occur during the Tribulation period. But this prophecy in Isaiah skips entirely past the age in which we now live, and does so within one sentence.

By this single act of Christ, He, the infallible Interpreter of Scripture, laid down the principle of the "gap interpretation."

I call this gap "The Great Parenthesis." It is like God put a big parenthesis around the church-age, setting it apart from what He was prophesying about the Jews, and the rest of the world.

The title, "The Great Parenthesis", is not my creation. I take it from a book by the same title written by Dr. Harry A. Ironside, who passed away in 1951. As far as I know, the book is not in print any longer, and the only copy of it I have seen is at the library at Northwest College. That should tell you that this idea of the Old Testament prophets skipping over our age, is not something that happened just 2 or 3 times. Ironside writes an entire book on this topic.

So let's look at a few more examples.

Joel 2:28-31 NIV

28 And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

Most of you will recognize part of this passage, as being what was quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Peter says that verse 28 & 29 were fulfilled on that day. But verses 30 & 31 can be identified as definitely speaking of events which will happen during the time of the Tribulation.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV) is very familiar to most of you.

6. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:…..

…….and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever…….

The whole Christian community rejoices in the knowledge that Christ came as a child nearly 2000 years ago. But a gap of at least 19 centuries is represented by the very first colon.

"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" speaks of Bethlehem.

All that follows speaks of the future Millennial reign, where Jesus will be sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

Zech 9:9-10 NIV

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 ….and He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Verse 9 speaks of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In the New Testament, you can read about it in Matthew 21:1-11. On the other hand, verse 10 looks ahead to the Millennium, when Christ reigns for 1000 years. Someday verse 10 will be done just as literally as verse 9. But between the 2 predictions there is this same great parenthesis of time.

By now you should be able to see that the idea of a great parenthesis is not isolated case. The Old testament prophets, in most if not all cases, skipped over the Church Age. That is, they skipped over the 2000 years from the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost until now.

Most of the examples we have looked at concerning the parenthesis, are related to Abraham's seed. Isaiah's prophecies focus mainly on the Israel and their Messiah. Ezekiel spoke of the restoration of Israel to their own land as well as the Millennial land. Zechariah was most concerned about the events that will take place at the 2nd coming of Christ.

In our lesson today, we will spend most of our time looking at another amazing prophecy which also includes the "great parenthesis". We find it in Daniel 9.

Mostly it is referred to as "Daniel's 70 Weeks."

By this time, Daniel was getting up in age - approximately 85 - 90 years. It was most likely the year 538 B.C. We find him studying the prophecies recorded by Jeremiah. How do we know all this? In the first 2 verses of this chapter, Daniel tells us when he wrote this chapter.

Daniel 9:1-2 NIV

1 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom-
2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.

We know that the children of Israel were taken into captivity by Babylon in 606 B.C. In that event, many young Jews were transported to Babylon, among them, Daniel and his 3 friends, Shadrack, Meshack and Obednego. At that time, they were in their teens, or early 20's.

By the time Daniel writes the prophecies in chapter 9, the Babylonians had just been conquered by the Medes and Persians. Daniel says it was the first year of the reign of Darius, who was a Mede when he was reading the prophecies of Jeremiah. That makes it about 2 years before the end of their captivity.

Daniel did not know until this very moment, while he was reading the prophecies of Jeremiah, that their captivity was to last 70 years. He now realizes that they are 68 years into a 70-year captivity.

If you want to know precisely where Daniel was reading in the book of Jeremiah, it is Jeremiah 25:11-12, and 29:10. We will look closely at these in a moment.

The verses that follow in Daniel 9 tell us that Daniel drops to his knees and begins to pray and intercede for the sins of his country and his people. He confesses their sins, and implores God to restore the people's relationship to Him, and to restore of the holy city, Jerusalem.

Daniel 9:3-5 NIV

3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands,
5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.

It was during this prayer that Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel, who gives him a timetable of coming events that would especially affect Israel. The angelic message given to Daniel is known as the vision of the 70 weeks. This mathematical revelation gave the Jews the exact time at which to expect the coming Messiah. It also prophesied His death and foretold the coming destruction of Jerusalem following His crucifixion as well as the rise of the Antichrist and the establishment of Christ's coming kingdom on earth.

Now, let's read this great prophecy.

Daniel 9:24-27. NIV

24 "Seventy `sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven `sevens,' and sixty-two `sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two `sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.' In the middle of the `seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."

Sir Edward Denny, a respected 19th Century student of prophecy, referred to the vision of the 70-weeks as the backbone of prophecy.

Chuck Missler, a well-known evangelist today, says: "This is the most important prophecy in the Bible."

Jesus emphasized this prophecy in a session with his disciples in what many call the "Olivet Discourse" which is found in Matthew 24 & 25. Jesus quotes Daniel, and focuses on this key prophecy. This prophecy helps our understanding of other prophecies.

This prophecy is so amazing that some have tried to post-date Daniel. In other words, they argue that it must have been written after many of the events about which it speaks. Yet, the book of Daniel is one of the most authenticated books in the Bible.

We need to note several things about this prophecy.

TO WHOM DOES THIS PROPHECY REFER?

Verse 24 tells us that it is directed towards

o Daniel's people.
o Daniel's holy city - Jerusalem.

This is the first thing we should note.

1. The entire prophecy is concerned about Israel, and Jerusalem.

The second thing we need to note is:

2. There are two different princes mentioned in this passage.

a) The first is named Messiah the Prince (vs. 25, 26)

b) Te second is described as the prince that shall come. (vs. 26) We will see later that this "prince that shall come" in none other than the Antichrist. We will say more about these later.

3. The beginning of the 70-weeks is definitely fixed.

Verse 25 says that it will begin when the command is given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.

4. The end of 7-weeks and the 62-weeks will be marked by the appearance of the Messiah.

Again, that is found in verse 25.

5. Following the first 69 weeks, two things will occur.

a) The Messiah the Prince will be "cut off."

b) Jerusalem will again be destroyed by the people of the "prince that shall come."

Both of these are found in verse 26.

6. After these two important events, we come to the last, or 70th week.

Its beginning will be clearly marked by the establishment of a "covenant" or treaty. This treaty will be between the "coming prince" ( the Antichrist) and the Jewish nation for "One Week."

7. In the middle of this 70th week, the Antichrist will break his treaty.

Verse 27 tells us this will be indicated by two acts of the "prince that shall come."

a) He suddenly orders the Jewish sacrifices to cease.
b) He will commit an abominable act in anger.

8. The end of the 70th week will usher in a time of great blessing for Israel.

Six blessings are mentioned in verse 24.

Now, let's look at the 70 weeks. We know, in hindsight, that it cannot refer to 70 literal 7-day weeks. That would be approximately 1 1/3 years. None of the 6 prophecies mentioned in Verse 24 were fulfilled in that short of time.

SO, WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM "SEVENTY WEEKS?"

Let me say at the very beginning of our study of this verse, that practically every Bible scholar that I have read agrees that the 70-weeks of Daniel 9 are in reality speaking of 70 "weeks of years." In other words, the 70 weeks represent weeks of 7 years each - or a total of 490 years.

I don't want you to take the word of some theologians, or even my words. But I would rather take you through the Scriptures and show you the logic of such a position.

The word in Hebrew - SHABUA - which is translated "week" really means "seven." The prophet is speaking of groups of seven - a heptad if you will.

The angel announced to Daniel that 70 "sevens" were determined upon the people of Israel. But sevens of what. It is sort of like saying in English: "I went to the store to buy a dozen." Unless I add more information, you still don't know what I bought. Until I tell you more, you only know how many.

In Daniel 9, the context must tell us "seventy sevens" of what.

Let's look again at verse 2.

2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.

This verse tells us that Daniel had been reading the prophesy of Jeremiah who mentions that the length of the Babylonian captivity would be limited to 70 years.

As I mentioned earlier, Daniel was reading Jer 25:11-12 NIV.

11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
12 "But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt," declares the LORD, "and will make it desolate forever.

This is one of two places where Jeremiah tells us the length of the captivity. (29:10)

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE REASON WAS FOR THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY?

There may have been more than one reason why God delivered them into captivity, but one reason is found in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 NKJV

20 And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,
21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

The seventy years of captivity were years of God's chastening for not allowing the land to have its Sabbaths every 7th year.

Ex 23:10-11 NIV

10 For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,
11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.

Israel not only had a Sabbath every seventh day, but also a Sabbath of years every 7th year. This is known as the "week of years."

What we learn from 2 Chronicles is the Israelites had disobeyed God in this regard for 490 years. For that length of time, they had continued to till the ground without giving it any rest.

HOW MANY SABBATHS OF YEARS DID THEY MISS?

70

For that reason, the land was to be left idle for 70 years to make up for this sin. The land was allowed its Sabbaths of rest while the people were removed from it. The Sabbatical year had been violated for 490 years, or 70 weeks of years.

How appropriate that now, at the end of the judgment for these violations, the angel should be sent to reveal the start of a new era, in which God would again deal with the Jews over an equal number of years. Namely 490 years…..or 70 weeks of years.

I think Daniel understood the prophecy given to him by Gabriel as referring to "weeks of years." Everything he was reading in Jeremiah, and the reason for the Babylonian captivity, involved multiples, or groupings, of seven years.

Let's look at another passage which speaks of 7's of years, or "weeks of years," or "sabbaths of years."

Leviticus 25:8-10 NIV

8 Count off seven sabbaths of years--seven times seven years--so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.

The year of jubilee was every 50th years, and was scheduled to be the year following 7 sevens (Sabbaths) of years.

Let's look at one more Passage where a week is said to equal 7-years. Some of you will remember that Jacob worked 7 years for his father-in-law in order that he might be granted his daughter in marriage. Genesis 29:15-28 tells about Jacob's love for Rachel. Rachel's father agreed to let her marry Jacob if he would work for him for seven years.

Genesis 29:27-28 NKJV says

27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years." 28 Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also.

This verse specifically identifies one week as referring to seven years. I am convinced that Daniel is referring to 70 groups of seven years each.

Now let's look at these 70 weeks to see its importance in endtimes prophecy. The entire time-period involved is exactly specified as 70 weeks (vs. 24). And these 70 weeks are further divided into four lesser periods. And we are told a little about what will happen during each.

Those 4 sections start with the dividing of the 70 weeks. The first mentioned is 7 weeks in duration. The second is 62 weeks. The last week is divided into two groups of ½ week each.

First Period - 7 weeks, or 49 years

The key event during this time was the building of the streets and walls of Jerusalem. The actual events are recorded in Nehemiah 2 - 6. By the way, 49 years is exactly how long it took to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the walls.

Second Period - 62 weeks, or 434 years

We are told by Daniel that at the end of this second period, the Messiah will be cut off. I take that to mean His crucifixion.

Third Period - ½ week, or 3½ years.

As we will discuss later, this is the first half of the coming Tribulation. At the beginning of this period, the Antichrist ("the prince that will come") will make a seven-year pact with Israel.

Fourth Period - ½ week, or 3½ years.

This will be the last half of the Tribulation. At the beginning of this period, the Antichrist will break his treaty with Israel, and will begin his terrible bloodbath of the Jews.

At the end of the last week, the true Messiah will come and establish his perfect kingdom, in what is referred to as the Millennium - for 1000 years.

This Passage in Daniel 9 seems to indicate that the first two periods - 7 weeks and 62 weeks is continuous. In other words, the period of 62 weeks immediately follows the period of 7 weeks.

IS THIS ALSO TRUE OF THE LAST WEEK?

DOES THE 70TH WEEK FOLLOW IMMEDIATELY ON THE HEELS OF THE PRIOR 69 WEEKS?

I believer there are at least 4 examples, both within the Text of Daniel 9, and from other Passages, to clearly show there is a time-gap between the 69th week and the 70th week.

Let's look at the evidence.

1. The fact that the last week is set apart, within the text, and given more attention, seems to indicate there is something different about it.

2. Between weeks 69 and 70 - in verse 26 - 2 events are mentioned.

a) The death of the Messiah (He will be cut off).
b) The destruction of Jerusalem.

If we follow the order strictly, both of these events are placed after the 69th week, and yet, they are both prior to the 70th week.

Since we know from history that there was approximately 40 years between the crucifixion of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem, the idea of a time-gap, at least of some length, is implied.

3. The third indicator of a gap is found in verse 24.

The fulfillment of the six items mentioned in verse 24 cannot be found anywhere in history. Note again what they are:

1. To finish the transgression
2. To make an end of sins
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness
5. To seal up the vision and prophecy
6. To anoint the most holy place.

Also remember two additional things:

o These great events have to do with the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.
o They are all included within the scope of these 70 weeks of prophecy.

Now, if the whole 70 weeks are continuous then the 70 weeks must have ended no later than 7 years after the crucifixion. In other words, somewhere early in the Book of Acts. (The book of Acts records the first 20-30 years of the history of the Church) Where in the history of the Book of Acts, for example, can you find any finishing of Jewish transgressions, or an ending of Jewish sins? On the contrary, the transgressions of this chosen nation increases by leaps and bounds. Or where, in the period of Acts, can we find any "sealing up of visions and prophecies?" Contrariwise, it is during this period that we find the greatest loosing of "visions and prophecies."

But, at the second coming of our Lord in glory, which will take place at the close of the 70th week, visions and prophecies will no longer be needed.

4. Fourthly, we find evidence of a gap between weeks 69 & 70 recorded by the apostle Matthew.

We find it in Matthew 24, where Christ quotes part of Daniel 9.

Daniel 9:27 NKJV, contains a peculiar expression: "And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate…."

The NAS version renders it: "And on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate….."

This same general expression occurs also in Daniel 12:11. "…the abomination that makes desolate is set up…."

The thing we should notices is that Daniel connects this abomination with the stopping of the daily sacrifices by the Jews. He further indicates this takes place at the middle of the week, when the Antichrist breaks the treaty made with Israel.

Jesus refers to this same abomination in Matthew 24:15. He warns His Jewish hearers to flee from their houses to the mountains….

...."…when (they) see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place.

Notice that this is not just an abominable act, -- namely the desecration of the Jewish temple, but an abominable person, who "stand" in the Temple (holy place). The reason for this warning by Christ is found in verse 21. "For then will be great tribulation….."

But, so they are not totally disheartened, Christ states in verses 29-30, that immediately after the tribulation of those days, they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory. In quoting Daniel, Christ definitely links this 70th week with the future Tribulation time.

So, what have we learned. We have seen that, like many of the Old Testament prophets, Daniel also takes us up to the time of Christ,….then skips over the Church Age.

   
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Last Updated: Thursday September 08 2011
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