Over on Smoodock’s Blog, Eddie (pardon the familiar first-name, but it’s the only one the author gives) has posted an article called “Fixing the Date of Stephen’s Death” in which he purports to demonstrate that the termination of the 70th Week of Daniel chapter 9 was fulfilled three and a half years after the Crucifixion. It’s not a bad article per se, and he has clearly thought this through, even tying the dates into the Torah’s calendar (which I always appreciate, of course), but it still falls into the trap that all preterist analysis of the 70 Weeks do.
From the introductory paragraph:
Fixing Stephen’s death to an exact day involves using prophecy, which if true, will offer not only an element of certainty to this study but also a degree of importance of his death. That is, Stephen’s death would have particular significance for the new body of believers and for the kingdom of God. As I hope to show, Stephen’s death is tied up in the 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9. This prophecy identifies the Messiah. That is, it points to him beyond all doubt and identifies Jesus as the long awaited Son of David, the Anointed of God.
Frankly, Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy points to Yeshua whether one is preterist or futurist because it identifies His sacrifice, “cut off, not for Himself” as happening shortly before the destruction of the Temple. Seeing a definitive gap, as we do and even many of the early Church fathers did, does nothing to weaken this. The issue tied up in the interpretation of the 70th Week is one of Replacement Theology vs. the Eternal One’s promises to Israel, not Yeshua’s identity.
In fact, before proceeding, lets take a moment to review the promises of the 70 Weeks, as put forth by Daniel:
Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. (Dan. 9:24)
What Eddie is arguing is in fact that this promise to Israel and Jerusalem is in fact a threat: “You have only 490 years to shape up, or I’m taking my marbles and going home!” This whole approach is flawed, since it implies one of three heretical views: 1) God was surprised by Israel’s rebellion, 2) God changed His mind and broke His eternal Covenant with Israel through our Patriarchs, or 3) God is a weaselly lawyer, who never meant what He plainly said in His promises.
But let’s set that aside for the moment and zero in on the fatal flaw in Eddies’s reasoning:
The 1290 days began when the Daily Sacrifice was taken away. The Septuagint translates the verse: “And one week shall establish the covenant with many. And in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink offering shall be taken away: and on the Temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of the time an end shall be put to the desolation” (Daniel 9:24). If we can agree that Jesus is the reality pointed to by the Sacrifice and Drink Offering or the Daily Sacrifice, when could it have been taken away, as far as God was concerned? . . .
The animal sacrificial system looked forward to Jesus’ sacrifice on Golgotha. The 1290 days ended with the total rejection of Jesus in unbelief by the Jewish authorities. They were given sufficient time to repent, but they preferred man over God. This is the abomination that makes desolate. It was set up when the high priest, the leader of the people, rejected Christ and commanded the stoning of Stephen on the Day of Atonement in 34 CE. Thus, both the 1260 days and the 1290 days end in the shedding of blood.
The implication is that it was Yeshua’s sacrifice that took away the Temple sacrifice and offering–a common error in Christianity. The problem is that this doesn’t work.
First of all, the Apostles themselves were engaged in Temple service thirty years after the Cross. In fact, it was apparently a fairly normal thing that the Nazarenes would take voluntary Nazrite vows, which would actually require them to make animal sacrifices above and beyond the daily and holiday sacrifices, as we explore in our article on Acts 21 over on Hebrew Root. The claim that the ongoing sacrifices were an abomination or had been taken away in any way, shape, or form (whether physically or merely spiritually) simply does not gibe with the Apostles’ own actions.
Secondly, when Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians some fifteen years after Smoodock dates the stoning of Stephen and the closing of the 70th Week, he described the fulfillment of the Abomination to be an event yet future:
“Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God” (2Th. 2:3-4).
If, as Eddie claims, “The 1290 days ended with the total rejection of Jesus in unbelief by the Jewish authorities. They were given sufficient time to repent, but they preferred man over God. This is the abomination that makes desolate,” then it makes absolutely no sense for Paul to expect a future fulfillment.
But thirdly and most importantly, it doesn’t even work when we simply compare Daniel’s prophecies on the removal of the sacrifice to each other. In Daniel 8, we read of a horn that is an offshoot of Alexander the Great’s Grecian Empire that would become very great until it “it took away from him the continual burnt offering, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (v. 11). In Daniel 11:23 and 31, we read of this same prince,
“After the treaty made with him he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong, with a small people. . . Forces shall stand on his part, and they shall profane the sanctuary, even the fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt offering, and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.”
And now the 70th Week prophecy:
“He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out on the desolate.”
While the wording is different, it is very clear that we are meant to see these three passages as all describing the same event, in which it is the enemy of God who takes away the sacrifice and offering and sets up a false worship in its place.
The simple fact is that we know that it is the Enemy who takes away the sacrifice and sets up the Abomination because it has happened before under Antiochus Epimanes. To ascribe the removal of the sacrificial service to Yeshua the Messiah is nothing short of blasphemy. An unintentional blasphemy to be sure, but slander of His character and mission nevertheless.
The very essence of the Gospel is good news to the very city that Eddie claims was destroyed and cast aside:
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The voice of your watchmen! they lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD returns to Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. (Isa. 52:7-10)
To sum up then, the preterist, supracessionist interpretation of the Seventy Weeks must be rejected not because of quibbles about when it began and whether it involves a calendrical adjustment, but for the following reasons:
- The Apostles themselves continued in the Temple service and even in offering up their own sacrifices decades after the alleged fulfillment of the removal of the sacrifice.
- Paul’s writings over a decade after the alleged fulfillment still looks forward to a future Abomination.
- It puts Yeshua in the place of the enemy of the Holy One that Daniel 8 and 11 describe as being the one who would take away the sacrifice, in effect calling Him Antiochus/Antichrist.
- It perverts all of the Eternal One’s specific promises to Israel and Jerusalem, making Him a vacillator, a liar, or a lawyer.
Given that we live in a day when we can see the God of Heaven fulfilling the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezk. 36-37) right before our eyes, isn’t it past time that we put aside errant theologies that refuse to glorify Him for doing so?