By: Michael J. Sullivan
First let’s review the main various Christian interpretations of this critical passage that have been offered over the years and address their strengths and weaknesses:
1. Many of the early church fathers and exegetes today find the fulfillment in Christ’s appearance in the flesh, His death, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
2. Some modern interpreters see the whole passage to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
3. Then other church fathers and even modern theologians have interpreted the prophecy from the Babylonian Exile to the kingdom’s arrival attended by the second coming of Christ – at the end of the days or end of the age.
As I will argue in this brief article the truth lies within views #1 & #3 with #2 possibly serving as a partial or typological fulfillment for an AD 70 full or anti-type fulfillment of the seventy sevens. Jesus identifies the seventy sevens prophecy to reach its fulfillment in AD 70 with the judgment and destruction of the temple and city (Dan. 9:24a, 26-27/Matt. 24:15/Luke 21:20-22) closing the old covenant age in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). But those that have traditionally taken a more preterist view throughout church history have erred in that they usually argue for a literal 490 years chronology of fulfillment and claim the seventy sevens are fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ (roughly in AD 26 – AD 30) and then reference the destruction of AD 70 as an addendum to what happened between those time periods. This does not work because exegetically the destruction of the temple and city are the crucial parts of the seventy sevens prophecy and in fact is its climax and brings the prophecy to an end! Some have suggested a 40 years “gap” in the chronology between AD 30 – AD 70, while at the same time criticizing premillennial dispensationalism for creating a “gap theory” of thousands of years between the 69th and 70th “week” to support their erroneous eschatological system. Neither approach is exegetical or accurate.
View #3 is accurate in that the seventy sevens prophecy is not a literal 490 years chronological period, but rather a symbolic and prophetic period marked by sevens. Its other strength is that it sees some of the redemptive aspects contained in Daniel 9:24 to be referring to Christ’s second coming at the end of the age. It however errs in that it fails to acknowledge that Christ posits its redemptive end and unfolding of the kingdom to be fulfilled: 1. in the destruction of the temple and city (Dan. 9:24, 26-27/Matt. 24:15/Luke 21:20-22), 2. the “end of the age” or “the end” in (Matt. 24:3, 14) is referring to the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 and not the end of world history or the end to the new covenant or Christian age, and 3. Jesus posits the fulfillment of redemption and the arrival of his kingdom and second coming to take place within the same AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time period (Luke 21:27-32). And although I agree that the seventy sevens prophecy of Daniel is a symbolic period of time, Daniel did predict that Jehovah’s kingdom would be established during the time of the Roman Empire (Daniel 2; 7). The view I will be arguing for acknowledges all of these key elements to Daniel’s prophetic material.
And by way of introduction, we should also note that this passage was known to be messianic among some Jews:
B. San 97a: “Our masters taught as follows of the particular seven-year period at whose end [Messiah] son of David will appear” (This seems to refer directly to the Danielic final week!)
B. San 97b: “Rav said: All times set for redemption have passed, and the matter now depends only on repentance and good deeds” (All time calculations had been fulfilled).
B. San 97b: “R. Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Blaste be the bones of those who presume to calculate the time of redemption. For they are apt to say, ‘Since redemption has not come at the time expected, it will never come.’ Rather, one must wait for it…what then delays its coming? The measure of justice delays it…”
I couldn’t agree more that these “Jews” did in fact miss and reject the redemptive work of their Messiah (Jesus the Christ) in Daniel’s last seven and “Judaism” hasn’t been the same since AD 70 – having reached her “end” during that terminal “crooked and perverse generation” (Deut. 32:5, 20/Acts 2:20-40/Luke 17:20-21, 25; 21:32). Moses predicted that many of them would not be able to “discern” their “end” (Deut. 32:29).
When Israel disobeyed the covenant it is said, “The land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its Sabbaths while it is made desolate without them.” (Lev. 26:43). In Second Chronicles we read, “All the days of its desolation, it kept Sabbath to fulfill Sabbath to fulfill seventy years” (2 Chron. 36:21 NSAB). As those 70 years of captivity were ending and the land had received its Sabbath rest, Daniel prays for his people and is given a prophetic time explaining Israel’s imminent deliverance from the Babylonian captivity and yet at the same time, encompassing her coming Messiah within a period of 70 sevens in which there would be a greater rest and restoration for Israel.
The Anointed/Prince/Ruler/Messiah Jesus is the anti-type of (or the new) Cyrus delivering Israel from her bondage of sin and raising her from the graves of sin-death. And this partial restoration back into the land typified through Nehemiah and Ezra pointed to an anti-typical eschatological gathering “in Christ” at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Matt. 13:39-43, 49; 24:30-31—25:31-46). I believe it is a mistake for Christians (both futurists and preterists) to take the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 to be a literal 490 years. Jesus posits the end to the seventy sevens or weeks and redemption at the fall of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:15/Dan. 9:27, Luke 21:27-32) in AD 70, and there is no way of having this working out to be a literal 490 years. Modern day Judaism and Zionists mock Christians for this very problem, but it is not a problem I have since I do not take the seventy seven’s prophecy to be a literal 490 years!
Seventy Sevens Literal or Symbolic?
Lee Irons and Meredith Kline are at least correct on this point:
“The seventy “weeks” (literally “sevens”) comprise a definite period of time until the coming of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem…a period that is actually longer than a literal 490 years.”
“…the point of the seventy weeks is not to provide a precise chronological prediction but to make the profound theological point that the coming of Christ and the abrogation of the Old Covenant order will usher in the eschatological Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
Irons and Kline also point out that symbolism using sevens is not an unusual way of communicating within the Jewish world and give the genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17 (whereby evidence is given that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah) as an example:
“Similarly, in his genealogy of Christ, Matthew employs sabbatical theology to structure history. He purposely dropped at least four names and counted David twice to construct a sabbatical structure of the history of redemption from Abraham to the Messiah. He states that from Abraham to David is 14 generations; from David to the captivity is 14 generations; and from the captivity to Messiah, 14 generations (Matt.1:17). This was intentional: the author purposely wanted to stress this numerical system, primarily because of its sabbatical symbolism (3×14 = 6×7); the generations of the Messiah represents the seventh seven, thereby showing that it is He who inaugurates the ultimate Sabbath rest for the people of God, the eschatological age. Matthew employs sabbatical symbolism to underscore one of his major themes: the Messiah’s advent constitutes the apex and fulfillment of redemptive history.”
The book of Hebrews in chapters 3-4 tells us that entering the land and Sabbath rest were typological pointing to “another day” of Sabbath rest coming. This is the second appearing or “the Day approaching” in (Heb. 10:25, 37) that was coming in a “very little while” and would “not be delayed” in which God’s raging fire was “about to” consume the enemies of God – “his people” (Heb. 10:27 YLT, 30). In Hebrews 9:26-28 we are told that Jesus appeared in Israel’s “last days” “at the end of [the OC] age” (this is in “the end” or “the end that is decreed” for the seventy sevens to be fulfilled) “to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself…” “…sacrificed to take away the sins of many;” (cf. Dan. 9:27) and “bring salvation to those who are waiting” “a second time.” Hebrews 9:26-28 so accurately describes the work of Messiah in the last seven of the seventy sevens (his redemptive work in His first and second appearings).
Simply put, the prophecy of the seventy sevens symbolizes a period between the imminent fall of Babylon in Daniel’s day (in 538 BC) to the imminent fall of “Babylon” (the old order or old covenant “Jerusalem” the apostate “Great City” or “Harlot” of Revelation) in John’s day (in AD 70) – a period covering roughly 608 literal years (not 490). The book of Revelation is outlined with the number 7 representing perfection/completion, Sabbath rest and New Creation motifs (7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 angels with 7 plagues, 7 bowls of God’s wrath, etc… Revelation 22 depicts entering into this Sabbath or New Creation rest after Babylon’s/Jerusalem’s fall in an imminent AD 70 time frame (the same imminent time frame we see in the book of Hebrews): “…sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place,” “Behold I am coming soon,” “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near,” (cf. Rev. 22:6-7, 10-12, 20).
Daniel 9:24 – Here are the main elements of the seventy sevens in Daniel 9:24-27 to be fulfilled for the people and her city Jerusalem:
1. Finish transgression – Jerusalem “filled up” or “finished transgressions” against God and His Messiah within Jesus’ “this generation” (Mt. 23:31-38; Dan. 9:24a).
2. Put an end to sin – As we have seen in our brief discussion of entering into the sabbath rest in the book of Hebrews, Christ put an “end to sin” at His imminent “in a very little while” Second Appearing as the Great Anointed High Priest fulfilling the NC promises made to Israel and to close the “last days” of the OC age in AD 70 (Heb. 9:26-28/10:37; Rom. 11:26-27/13:11-12; Dan. 9:24b.).
3. To atone for wickedness or the covering over of iniquity – See references in #2. In the New Creation our sins are remembered no more and covered in the depths of the sea (Isa. 65-66; Micah 7:19).
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness – At Christ’s return in AD 70, He brought in “everlasting righteousness” or a “world of righteousness” in 2 Peter 3 – the “end of all things” being “at hand” in Peter’s day (1 Peter 4:5-7). “but also on ours, to whom it [righteousness] is about to be reckoned — to us believing on Him who did raise up Jesus our Lord out of the dead,” (Romans 4:24). “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” (Galatians 5:5).
5. To seal up vision and prophecy – Jesus teaching is clear, all of Israel’s promises and prophetic material concerning His redemptive work would be accomplished within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Luke 21:22-32). Prophecy would “cease” when “that which is perfect” (the Second Coming and arrival of the New Creation) arrived in AD 70 (1 Cor. 1:7-8/13:8-12/Rev. 21-22:6-7, 10-12, 20). The NT bears witness that all would be fulfilled imminently in AD 70 (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Pet. 1:4-12; 4:5-7). Therefore, all the eschatological promises made to Israel concerning vision and prophecy were fulfilled or sealed up by AD 70 in fulfillment of the seventy sevens prophecy. This effective destroys all of the “last days” cults and Islam whom claim that they were given divine revelation and that their “prophets” (Muhammad, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower, etc…) have legitimacy.
6. To anoint the most holy – Christ anointed and consummated the New Covenant Church as His Most Holy Place and Bride in AD 70 (Ex. 20, 29-31, 40; cf. Hebrews 9:6-10; Revelation 11:18-19, 19–21:16).
Daniel 9:25 – The “decree (of Cyrus) to restore and re-build Jerusalem” is found in (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isa. 44:24, 26, 28; 45:13; cf. Josephus, Antiquities, xi, 6, 12). It’s rebuilding in the “difficult times” of Ezra and Nehemiah can be read in those OT books. The first 62 sevens represents a period from the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah and Ezra to the first coming of Jesus – the “Anointed One.” Jesus was anointed by the Father to preach the good news of the Gospel to Israel.
Daniel 9:26 – The Anointed One/Prince/Ruler/Leader/Messiah (Jesus the Christ), would be “cut off” after the 62 sevens. Isaiah 53 teaches us the same about a coming Messiah who would be cut off and have nothing (with some Jews conceded Isa. 53 is Messianic). “The people (the Jews or Roman soldiers) of the Ruler (Jesus), will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end (of the seventy sevens) will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Between AD 66 – AD 70 not only did the Romans surround the city, but the Idumeans (Jewish Zealots) did as well and entered Jerusalem resulting in the city being divided into three warring sects – all shedding blood over the Temple area and for control of Jerusalem. War and blood shed took place within the Temple and thus it was subject to abominations. The Romans (who were also under the control of Christ) did very little except wait it out and let “the people” that rejected their Messiah to devour (sometimes literally) each other. Also through the imprecatory prayers of the Christians (people of the Prince), Jerusalem was destroyed and it’s mountain removed and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Matthew 21:18-22; Revelation 8:8).
Daniel 9:27 – The “He” here is still the Messiah (not an alleged “Anti-Christ”) and through His sacrifice He established the New Covenant for the “many” (ie. the Church the new Israel of God). This last seven was from the anointing of Jesus in His first coming to His anointing the Church in His Second in AD 70. His Wife and or New Jerusalem is described as a perfect cube as the MHP place was (cf. Rev. 21:16 & “the first” [Holy Place] representing the OC community being removed in AD 70 and “the second” [the Most Holy Place] representing the NC community and its establishment during the time of the “new order” fully arriving at the end of the OC age in AD 70 in a “very little while” cf. Heb. 9:6-10, 26-28; 10:37). Christ came and overshadowed Jerusalem with desolation and determined wrath upon the desolate in AD 70 (cf. Matthew 24:15ff/Luke 21:20-24).
So from the birth of Israel’s King and Messiah (Jesus the Christ) to His second appearing at the end of her OC age in AD 70 is roughly another more significant 70 years for her coming out of bondage and slavery from “Babylon” into the freedom/rest and salvation found not “in the land” but “in Christ.” Selah.
 Lee Irons, Meredith Kline, J. Ligon Duncan, David W. Hall, Hugh Ross, Gleason L. Archer, THE GENESIS DEBATE Three Views on the Days of Creation, (Mission Viejo, CA: Crux Press, Inc., 2001), 227. I would also agree with Keil and Delitzsch onthe point that this is not a reference to a literal 490 years ofchronology: “That by this word common years are to be understood, is indeed taken for granted by many interpreters, but a satisfactory proof of such a meaning has not been adduced. Moreover, in favour of year-weeks (periods of seven years) it has been argued that such an interpretation was very natural, since they hold so prominent a place in the law of Moses; and the Exile had brought them anew very distinctly into remembrance, in asmuch as the seventy years’ desolation of the land was viewed as a punishment for the interrupted festival of the sabbatical years: 2 Chron. 36:21 (Hgstb., Kran., and others). But since these periods of seven years, as Hengstenberg himself confesses, are not called in the law שָׁבֻעִים or שָׁבֻעֹות, therefore, from the repeated designation of the seventh year as that of the great Sabbath merely (Lev. 25:2, 4, 5;26:34, 35, 43; 2 Chron. 36:21), the idea of year-weeks in no way follows. The law makes mention not only of the Sabbath-year, but also of periods of seven times seven years, after the expiry of which a year of jubilee was always to be celebrated (Lev. 25:8ff.). These, as well as the Sabbath-years, might be called שָׁבֻעִים. Thus the idea of year-weeks has no exegetical foundation. Hofmann and Kliefoth are in the right when they remark that שָׁבֻעִים does not necessarily mean year-weeks, but an intentionally indefinite designation of a period of time measured by the number seven, whose chronological duration must be determined on other grounds.” (Keil,C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentaryon the Old Testament (Vol. 9, pp. 717–718). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson). See also David Green’s comments as to why Daniel 9:24-27 can’t be a literal 490 years – see his Q & A #’s 96-97 http://www.preteristcosmos.com/question5.html#note97
 Ibid. 227.
From Babylon to Babylon: An Exposition of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks
By: David A. Green
Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and your holy city, to shut up the transgression, to seal up sin, to cover over iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (Dan. 9:24)
So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and trench, even in times of distress. (Dan. 9:25)
Then after the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One will be cut off and nothing shall remain to Him [or, “but not for Himself“]. And the people of a coming prince[or, “of [the] coming Prince“] will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will be with the flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. (Dan. 9:26)
And He will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, and in the middle of the week he will cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and on a wing [or, “overspreading“] of abominations will come a desolator, even until the end. And that which was decreed shall pour out on the desolator. (Dan. 9:27)
Summary Chronology of the Seventy Weeks (dates approximate):
First Seven Weeks Begin: In 538 BC, Cyrus issued his decree to rebuild the temple and the city.
First Seven Weeks End/Sixty-Two Weeks Begin: In 445 BC, Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem.
Sixty-Two Weeks End/Last Week Begins: In AD 28, Messiah was anointed at His baptism. From thence, He confirmed the new covenant with His church. In AD 30, He was “cut off” (crucified).
Middle of the Last Week: In perhaps AD 66, God gave fleshly Israel up to reprobation so that there no longer remained a “sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:26-27). At that time, the Zealots (“a desolator”) began terrorizing Jerusalem and spreading abominations and desolations throughout the city.
Last Week Ends: In AD 70, “the end” came. The people of Messiah destroyed the city and the sanctuary, along with the Zealots, in the flood of war. At that time, the following blessings were consummated for God’s people: Transgression was shut up. Sin was sealed up. Iniquity was covered over. Everlasting righteousness was brought in. “Vision and prophet” (the revelatory gifts) were sealed up. The heavenly “Most Holy Place” (the church) was anointed.
When Daniel received the prophecy of the “seventy weeks,” the people of Israel including Daniel himself were in captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah had prophesied that after seventy years of captivity were completed, God would destroy Babylon and restore the people of Israel to Jerusalem (Jer. 25:11, 12; 29:10-14). Daniel understood that he was living in the last hour of that seventy-year Babylonian captivity (Dan. 9:2-3). The end of Israel’s seventy-year Babylonian captivity was to be the beginning of the “seventy weeks.”
VERSE 25: The fulfillment of the first “seven weeks” were God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer for his people and for his holy city (Dan. 9:16-19). It was in less than a year after Daniel received the prophecy of the “seventy weeks,” in about 538 BC, that the first “seven weeks” began. After the kingdom of Babylon fell in 538 BC, the Persian king Cyrus issued “the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isa. 44:24,26,28; 45:13; Dan. 9:25; Josephus, Antiquities, xi, 6, 12). Thousands of Israelites immediately packed their belongings and began the journey back to Judea.
The first “seven weeks” lasted about ninety years and ended with the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah in about 445 BC (Neh. 2:5; 6:15). The times of distress” during which the city was rebuilt are related in Neh. 1:3 – 6:13. Because the city had no walls and no gates, the people were constantly being mocked, demoralized, threatened, accused, deceived, and terrorized by their enemies (Neh. 2:19; 4:1-3, 7-8, 11-12, 14, 16-23; 6:1-13). Because of these things, the people were in “great distress” and “reproach” (Neh. 1:2-4; 2:3, 13, 17). Those times of anxiety ended with the completion of Jerusalem’s walls and gates in about 445 BC.
The “sixty-two weeks” were from the completed rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah until the first appearing of the “Anointed One” (“Messiah”), “the Prince” (“the Ruler,” “the Leader”). The “sixty-two weeks” ended at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, when God “anointed” Him with the Holy Spirit and power in about AD 28 (Lk. 3:22-23; Acts 10:38). The “sixty-two weeks” covered the intertestimal centuries from Nehemiah/Malachi to the anointing of Jesus. It was a period of roughly 470 years.
VERSES 26 & 27: The last “week” was from Christ’s first appearing at His baptism to His Second Appearing at the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” in AD 70. It was from the anointing of Messiah the Prince to the anointing of the Most Holy Place from out of heaven. The last “week” lasted about 42 years. It was the period of time in which Christ the Ruler, through His earthly ministry and through the Holy Spirit, confirmed the new covenant with “the many”:
For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers. (Rom. 15:8)
Because the last “week” began with the baptism of Christ, the “covenant” that was confirmed during that week can be none other than the new covenant. There was no other covenant that began to be confirmed at the beginning of Christ’s ministry.
Within that “week” of Messianic covenant-confirmation, Messiah was “cut off.” He was rejected by the leaders of the people and put to death outside the city in about AD 30.
“And in the middle of the week,” He caused “sacrifice and offering to cease” (Dan. 9:26). Here are three possible ways of interpreting what this means:
1. For those who put their trust in the blood of Christ, there was “no longer any offering for sin” (Heb. 10:18). For believers, Christ’s sacrifice ended the need for animal sacrifices. If this is the meaning, then the cutting off of the Messiah and the cessation of “sacrifice and offering” are virtually synonymous, and both took place in the “middle” of the “week.”
2. The Messianic cessation of “sacrifice and offering” could refer to God’s giving up of fleshly Israel to reprobation. After the nation had thoroughly rejected the blood of the new covenant, Israel became apostate, and there no longer remained a “sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:26-27). In this interpretation, the cessation of “sacrifice and offering” refers to a national, spiritual catastrophe. This approach, I think, is in harmony with the symbol of the “middle” of the week (a “broken” time of tragedy). Also, if the cessation of sacrifice is God’s reprobation of the apostates, then the “abominations” in the next phrase are the direct and immediate result of that national reprobation. (This interpretation is the one I prefer.)
3. The Messianic cessation of “sacrifice and offering” might be taken in a strictly literal sense. As a consequence of the offering-ceasing sacrifice of the Messiah (Heb. 10:18), and of the national cessation of “sacrifice for sins” due to Israel’s apostasy (Heb. 10:26), Jerusalem became flooded with abominations and wars, until the daily animal sacrifices literally ended in about August of AD 70, very shortly before the city and the sanctuary were destroyed in August-September (Josephus, Wars, vi, 94).
In the time of Israel’s apostasy, in about AD 66, a “desolator” came “on a wing of abominations.” The “desolator” filled the Holy City with abominations, and desolated it with the flood of war until “the end.” “The end” was when God poured out His wrath on the “the desolator,” when the people of a coming prince (or “of the coming Prince”) completely destroyed the city and the sanctuary, along with the desolator.
“On a wing of abominations“: The word “wing” could be a reference to the temple (a wing or pinnacle of the temple). If this is the meaning, then the phrase could mean that the “abomination of desolations” (Septuagint) issued forth from the temple of God and filled the city. This agrees with the history of the times:
In about AD 67, the Zealots captured the temple and made it their fortress and their “shop of tyranny” (Josephus, Wars, iv, 151). From God’s house they terrorized the people and spread abominations and desolations throughout Jerusalem until the city was utterly consumed in the “flood” of war in AD 70.
Or the word “wing” might simply be a metaphorical reference to the “overshadowing” or “overspreading” (KJV) of abominations throughout the city. Compare Isa. 8:7-8, which uses both the metaphors of a flood (Dan. 9:26) and of overshadowing “wings” (Dan. 9:27):
Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory; and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks. And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel. (Isa. 8:7-8)
“The desolator“: The desolator, as we have seen, filled the city with abominations, desolations, and war until the end, when God poured out His wrath on the desolator in the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. History tells us that the Jewish reprobates in Jerusalem, from about AD 66 to 70, filled the temple and the city with abominations and desolations during their continual wars. Their beastly desecrations of the holy places and their slaughters of the people did not cease until “the end,” when Titus and his legions leveled the city, along with the reprobates.
Let us look for a moment at the wording of Dan. 9:26:
. . . The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. . . . (Dan. 9:26)
In this verse, the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” in AD 70 immediately followed the cutting off of the Messiah in AD 30. We should infer from this that the destruction of Jerusalem was the direct consequence of the cutting off of Messiah the Prince.
This means that the desolators who were destroyed in the city were themselves guilty of crucifying Christ (See Rev. 1:7). Jesus confirmed this teaching in Matt. 21:37-45; 22:7. The chief priests and the Pharisees murdered (“cut off”) the Messiah, and because of that crime, God brought those murderers to a “wretched end” when He sent “His armies” and destroyed the City and the Sanctuary, in fulfillment of Daniel’s “seventy weeks.”
“The people of a coming prince“: Here are three ways of interpreting what this might mean:
1. The Roman armies of Caesar (Vespasian or Titus): If this is the meaning, then this reference to Caesar the “prince” is a parenthetical statement between two statements about Messiah the Prince. (This, incidentally, was John Calvin’s interpretation of “the people of the coming prince.”)
2. The Roman armies of Christ: The Romans could have been designated the people / armies of Messiah the Prince because they were sent by His decree and for His purpose. (Compare Matt. 22:7.)
3. The followers of Christ: Christians destroyed the city and the sanctuary through their faith (Matt. 21:21; Mk. 11:23; Rev. 8:8), through their prayers (Lk. 18:7), and through their God-given judgment on the Last Day (Zech. 14:5; I Thess. 4:14; Jude 1:14-15; Rev. 17:14; 18:20). Believers were the Lord’s invading army (I Cor. 14:21-22). The “angels” (messengers) who poured out the wrath of God upon apostate Israel in the book of Revelation were Christians (Compare Rev. 21:9 and 22:9; KJV, NASB). The term “coming Prince” may be a reference to Christ’s Second Coming after His having been “cut off” (This third interpretation is the one I prefer).
Some preterists have proposed that the Jews were “the people of the coming Prince,” because the Jews were Christ’s people, and it was the Jews themselves who destroyed Jerusalem. In my opinion, that interpretation conflicts with the history of the event. Though the reprobate Jews did bring Jerusalem to ruin and desolation, they did not “destroy the city and the sanctuary.” It was the hands of the Romans that brought upon the Jews that final stroke, against the will of the rebels within the city (Lk. 19:43-44).
VERSE 24: In the end of the “seventy weeks,” seven things were fulfilled concerning Daniel’s “people” and concerning his “holy city”:
1. The destruction of the city and the sanctuary
2. The shutting up of the transgression
3. The sealing up of sin
4. The covering over of iniquity
5. The bringing in of everlasting righteousness
6. The sealing up of vision and prophet
7. The anointing of the Most Holy Place
These six blessings were all in process of being fulfilled during the last “week,” the “week” of Messianic covenant-confirmation. These blessings were not finally fulfilled for Daniel’s “people” and for his “holy city” before AD 70. Daniel’s “people” (i.e., “all Israel,” the elect, the living and the dead, including Daniel himself) were not finally freed from sin (“the body of death”) until the Parousia:
And thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. (Rom. 11:26)
“Transgression”/”sin” was not “finished” for the “holy city” until after the abominations came to an end in the city in AD 70. Only after Jerusalem was destroyed did God cleanse Jerusalem of all her sins and make her “new”:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. . . . and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:2, 7)
The “wages” of sin is Death (condemnation and alienation with God). But when Death was destroyed in the kingdom of God in AD 70, sin was “shut up” and forever “sealed.” Death no longer issues forth from the sins of God’s children, because the power of His Cross swept away the Ministry of Condemnation and Death (the Law) in AD 70, robbing sin of its power, and robbing Death of its sting. Through the work of the Son, Death is nullified and Sin is defeated. In the new heavens and new earth, the sins of all God’s holy ones, living and dead, are “covered over,” buried in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19), forever forgotten, and hidden from the eyes of God:
. . . The former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (Isa. 65:16-17; cf. Deut. 32:43)
The advent of the new heavens and the new earth in AD 70 also marked the consummation of the advent of “eternal righteousness”:
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13; cf. Rom. 4:23-24; Gal. 5:5)
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. (Gal. 5:5)
Also at that time (AD 70), “vision and prophet” were sealed up (brought to an end). This is parallel to I Cor. 13:8-10, where God said that when “that which is perfect” came (i.e., the perfected Most Holy Place), then prophecy, tongues, and knowledge (i.e., revelatory gifts) would be abolished. This happened when all things were fulfilled, when the sinful city and the hand-made sanctuary fell, and when the sinless City and the God-made Sanctuary came down from out of heaven in AD 70 (Lk. 21:22; I Peter 4:7).
Finally, it was through the anointing of the Holy Spirit that the whole city of Jerusalem was made new and became “the Tabernacle of God,” when the worldly Holy Place fell in 70 (Heb. 9:1, 8). Under the old covenant, every article of God’s tabernacle was consecrated by the anointing of oil (Ex. 30:25-30; 40:9; Lev. 8:10, 12). In the same way, in the Last Days, God taught His elect ones the truth of His gospel through the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21,22; I Jn. 2:20,27), until all of them had come to know Him (Jn. 6:39). Then came “the end” (Dan. 9:26), when the Body of Christ, all His holy ones, the living and the dead, were raised up to become His anointed (God-taught) “Most Holy Place” in the new covenant world (Jn. 6:44-45; Eph. 2:21-22; Heb. 8:11-13; Rev. 21:3).
Weeks of Years?
The “seventy weeks” covered a period of roughly 600 years, from about 538 BC to AD 70, from the fall of Babylon to the fall of “Babylon” (Jerusalem). But perhaps the most common view among preteristic interpreters is that the “seventy weeks” ended around AD 35, or so. Many say at the martyrdom of Stephen. This is because they see a need to interpret the “seventy weeks” as being literally seventy “weeks of years” (490 years). Putting the fulfillment in AD 70 makes it impossible to make the seventy weeks fulfilled in a literal 490 years. Here are four reasons why I disagree with the AD 35 view:
1. If the “seventy weeks” were fulfilled in about AD 35, then the Parousia and the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” are reduced to a supplemental appendix or an addendum to Gabriel’s prophecy of the “seventy weeks.” The Parousia becomes a subordinate episode in the prophecy, an event that took place some 35 years after the time that was determined for Israel and the Holy City. It seems to me that to relegate the Parousia to such secondary status is strangely out of step with the spirit of the prophets.
2. Gabriel’s prophecy begins with this statement: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city. . . ” (Dan. 9:24). And then the prophecy ends with the destruction of the holy city. It is reasonable to infer from the words of the prophecy that the shattering of the power of Daniel’s “people” (Dan. 9:24; 12:7) and the complete destruction of Daniel’s “holy city” (Dan. 9:24-26) were both included in the things that were “determined” for Daniel’s “people” and for his “holy city” within the “seventy weeks.”
3. The six blessings of Dan. 9:24, which all took place in the end of the “seventy weeks,” were consummated in AD 70, in the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary,” not in AD 35.
4. If the destruction of Jerusalem falls outside of the seventy weeks, then we are forced to “hopscotch” through verses 26 and 27. The first part of verse 26 is within the “seventy weeks,” but then the second part of verse 26 is some 35 years after the fulfillment of the “seventy weeks.” And then the first part of verse 27 is within the “seventy weeks,” and then the second part of verse 27 is some 35 years after the fulfillment of the “seventy weeks.”
Therefore, the “seventy weeks” were consummated in Christ’s Parousia in AD 70. This being the case, we have two more reasons why the “weeks” could not have been a literal 490 years:
1. There were more than 3 ½ years (or even 7 years) between the cutting off of the Messiah and the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. That makes the last week at least 40 years long.
(Some preterists have proposed a “gap” in or before the last “week,” between the cutting off of the Messiah and the wars that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. This was Max King’s position in his 1971 book The Spirit of Prophecy. In my opinion that “solution” is an attempt to force fit the “weeks” into the mold of a literal 490 years.)
2. Because the “seventy weeks” were consummated in the Parousia, the “seventy weeks” could not have been a literal chronology. If they were, it would have become possible to calculate the years to the Parousia. Since no man could know the times or the seasons or the day or the hour, not even the Son of Man (Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:7), the “seventy weeks” had to have been meant symbolically.
In using the symbolic word “weeks,” the angel Gabriel was being intentionally indefinite as to the time that would reach unto the Parousia. “Seventy weeks” (or “seventy sevens”) is no more literal than “seventy times seven” in Matt. 18:22. It signified the “completion” or “fullness” of redemption that would come at the Parousia, at the destruction of the earthly city and sanctuary.
The Preterist Paradox
To the prophet Daniel, the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” might have sounded contradictory. Gabriel first told him (in verse 24) that at the end of “seventy weeks,” the transgression would be finished, an end would be made of sins, atonement would be made for iniquity, everlasting righteousness would be brought in, and the Most Holy Place would be anointed. But then when Gabriel came to the end of the prophecy, he said that the Messiah would be killed and that the city and the sanctuary would be defiled, desolated, and destroyed in the flood of war. Gabriel offered no further explanation.
How could the devastating ending of the “weeks” in verses 26 and 27 be compatible with the joyful ending of the “weeks” in verse 24? How could the “seventy weeks” be consummated in both the destruction of the temple (Dan. 9:26) and in the anointing of the temple? (Dan. 9:24). Or how could the resurrection of the dead and glorification of the saints be fulfilled when the power of the holy people is shattered? (Dan. 12:1-3,7)
This paradox is the heart of the preterist interpretation of Bible prophecy. It is what the futurists and the Jews have missed for centuries upon centuries: The destruction of (earthly) Jerusalem signified the advent of (heavenly) Jerusalem. The destruction of the (earthly) Most Holy Place meant the consummated anointing of the (heavenly) Most Holy Place. The (spiritual) sons of the kingdom inherited the kingdom when the (fleshly, unbelieving) sons of the kingdom were cast out of the kingdom (Matt. 8:12; 13:38, 43). This is the preterist key that unlocks the meaning of the “seventy weeks,” and of Zechariah 14, and a host of other prophecies of the Last Days.