In the study of prophecy, there is one passage that stands out above all others in its clarity and its precise fulfillment in history. And yet, ironically, there are few prophecies that engender more visceral debate. It is not too much to say that one’s entire view of prophecy depends upon one’s view of Daniel’s ninth chapter. Because of this, and because of the controversial nature of this passage, this volume will carefully build a point-by-point case for the correct interpretation, endeavoring not to step a single pace beyond what the text allows.
We could spend some time on the set-up here (and do in my book), but out of the need for brevity, let’s get right to the key part of the passage:
“Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish the transgression, 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.
“Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Anointed One (Mashiach), the prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troubled times. After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One shall be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and its end shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined.
“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.”
The first issue to address is the scope of this prophecy. From the very opening line, we can see that it is directed collectively to Daniel’s people, Israel, and Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem. There is no reason to regard those two entities as other than what they are called, so we should understand them literally rather than trying to impose some idealistic version of the Church on the prophecy.
Of the six goals listed, only one, the making reconciliation–or more accurately, atonement–for iniquity could reasonably be claimed to have been fulfilled on the Cross. For the rest, Israel and Jerusalem did not make an end of sins or finish their transgression, or else they would not have been destroyed by the Romans! Moreover, vision and prophecy were restored by the Spirit shortly after the Sacrifice of Yeshua, not taken away, and Israel and Jerusalem as a whole did not anoint the Most Holy, whether we consider this Holy of Holies to be the Temple or the Messiah.
Some might try to claim that everlasting righteousness was brought in.
The word for righteousness, tsedek (צדק), is also translated “justice” or “a righteous one.” This points us to a passage so often quoted at Christmas: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice (tsedakah, צדקה) and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:7) Everlasting justice under the reign of Yeshua the Messiah-King will come to pass, but it has clearly not happened in this age for either Israel and Jerusalem or the Ekklesia, nor will it until He sits on David’s throne (cf. Luke 1:32-33).
Taken in its simplest sense, therefore, the prophecy simply says that about 483 (49 + 434) years after the command to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, the Messiah would come. He would then be cut off—executed—and then the city and Temple would be destroyed a second time. After this would be the final seven years, which would conclude with Israel’s forgiveness and reconciliation with God. If nothing else, the prophecy tells us that the Messiah must come before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE—in fact, it puts His coming about a generation before that event, exactly as it should be. It is possible that this is all the prophecy intends to say. Certainly, from an apologetics standpoint, this very general interpretation of the prophecy is the most useful since regardless of which date one believes to be the starting point, Yeshua came either within or at the very termination point of the 69th Week.
It is possible, using the Bible as our guide, to demonstrate that the 69th Week ended not only at the right general time, but on the exact day Yeshua first allowed Himself to be proclaimed King of Israel. However, it is not necessary to demonstrate this for the purposes of this post, so I will again refer those interested to my book.
In my next post, we will see that there is a gap between the 69th week and the 70th, and then connect the events of the 70th Week to Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse. In the meantime, here’s a preview: