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Daniel’s 70th Week, or No 7-Year Great Tribulation

The pretribulational view of Daniel 9:27 is that it refers to the Antichrist making a 7-year agreement with Israel, then breaking it in the middle and stopping the Jewish sacrifice in the Temple that is expected to be rebuilt. Only a few Bible interpreters believe that it refers to Jesus instituting the New Covenant and bringing an end to Old Covenant sacrifice and offering; but there is strong evidence for this view.

In verse 26, reference is made to two different people. The first sentence refers to Jesus, the Anointed One; the second and third sentences to the “ruler” of the Romans and his troops. Likewise, verse 27 also refers first to the Messiah, then the Antichrist.

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. . .

The covenant will be with “many,” but the Jews in Israel are not large in number. According to the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, the original text “indicates ‘the many’ rather than ‘many’” (V.1, p.1389). The NAS translation says “the many.” If it refers to the Jews, why didn’t it just say so? But “the many” refers to a particular group that did not exist when Daniel was written.

Isaiah 53 describes Jesus with such well known passages as, “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” (53:5). That chapter goes on to say, “my righteous servant will justify many . . . For he bore the sins of many” (53:11-12). Jesus said he came to give his “life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28); and “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mat. 26:28).

The book of Hebrews says, “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people” (9:28). And Paul said:

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)

. . . not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33) (NAS)

Christ died for the sins of the whole world, even those who will never be saved, so the covenant with “the many” can only refer to those who will be included in the New Covenant.

The pretrib interpretation of Daniel 9 completely skips the Gospel Age by placing Daniel’s 70th week after the end of the Gospel Age, that is, after the Rapture. But since Daniel’s 70 weeks is the unfolding plan of God and includes “bring[ing] in everlasting righteousness” and sealing up prophecy, so it must include the Gospel Age. But how could the Gospel Age be within the 70 weeks? This is answered in the next few pages.

The NAS translation says, “he will make a firm covenant.” Some Bible commentators want us to believe that the Antichrist will make a 7-year agreement with modern Israel and then break it in the middle. That does not sound like a firm covenant. The New Covenant is very firm because it is “everlasting” (Dan. 9:24).

More than one great Bible expositor believed it is Jesus who confirmed the covenant through his miracles and preaching, such as Albert Barnes, author of Barnes Notes on The Bible. He said of this passage:

. . . the last one week is again subdivided in such a way, that, while it is said that the whole work of the Messiah in confirming the covenant would occupy the entire week, yet that he would be cut off in the middle of the week . . .

The idea is that of giving strength, or stability; of making firm and sure. The Hebrew word here evidently refers to the “covenant” which God is said to establish with his people . . . to denote the laws and institutions of the true religion – the laws which God has made for his church; . . . The more correct interpretation, therefore, is to refer it to the Messiah, who is the principal subject of the prophecy . . .

The ministry of the Saviour himself was wholly among the Jews, and his work was what would, in their common language, be spoken of as “confirming the covenant;” . . .

Barnes also believed that this passage speaks about the end of the Old Covenant sacrifice and offering, which is why the Jews have not been able to rebuild their Temple. Jesus confirmed the covenant for 3.5 years, then he was crucified, which put an end to the Old Covenant sacrifice and offerings. The New Covenant is now in effect and is an everlasting covenant.

But the text says he will confirm the covenant for seven years; some commentators, like Barnes, believe the 70th week is continuous. But if the Apostles continued confirming the covenant for the last half of the 70th week, then everything mentioned in Daniel 9 would be accomplished, but it is not. The Jews must still “anoint the Most Holy,” which is their official acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah. It does not refer to the Holy Place in the Temple; some translations say “Holy Place” but they are adding the word “Place.” It refers to Messiah, not a literal Temple.

The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on this verse says:

Much older, more general, and also nearer the truth, is the explanation which refers these words to the anointing of the Messiah, an explanation which is established by various arguments. The translation of the lxx, και ευφράναι αγιον αγίων, and of Theod., του χρισαι αγιον αγίων, the meaning of which is controverted, is generally understood by the church Fathers as referring to the Messiah. Theodoret sets it forth as undoubtedly correct, and as accepted even by the Jews; and the old Syriac translator has introduced into the text the words, “till the Messiah, the Most Holy.”

Other events also must happen in order for all prophecy to become sealed up, or fulfilled. How could all prophecy be fulfilled when the book of Revelation had not been written yet? Not to mention the events of Daniel 7 which predict the final Antichrist. Since those prophecies have not been fulfilled, the remainder of the week cannot have been completed.

Even fewer commentators believe that the 70th week stopped with the crucifixion of Jesus and will continue with the final three and one-half years before the return of Christ, which is the Great Tribulation. Halley’s Bible Handbook relates this point of view:

The date from which the 70 weeks was to be counted was the decree to re-build Jerusalem, v.25. There were three decrees issued by Persian kings for this purpose, (536 B.C., 457 B.C., 444 B.C., see under Ezra). The principal one of these was 457 B.C.

. . . This 483 years is the period between the decree to re-build Jerusalem and the coming of the “Anointed One” (v25). The decree to re-build Jerusalem, as noted above, was 457 B C. Adding 483 years to 457 B.C. brings us to A.D. 26, the very year that Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry. A most remarkable fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, even to the year.

Further, within 3 1/2 years Jesus was crucified, that is, “in the midst of the one week” “the Anointed One” was “cut off,” “purged away sin and brought in everlasting righteousness,” (v 24, 26, 27).

Thus Daniel foretold not only the Time at which the Messiah would appear, but also the Duration of his Public Ministry, and his Atoning Death for Human Sin.

Some think that God’s chronology was suspended at the death of Christ, to remain so while Israel is scattered, and that the last half of the “one week” belongs to the time of the End. (4th Ed., 1995)

Both Barnes and Hailey likely consulted the Geneva Study Bible (GSB) of 1560, because it presents a similar view, that Christ came at the conclusion of the 69th week and confirmed the covenant for the first half of the 70th week:

. . . In this week of the seventy [the final week], will Christ come and preach and suffer death.

Concerning “he will put an end to sacrifice and offering” the GSB says, “Christ accomplished this by his death and resurrection.” Whoever decided to abandon this sound hermeneutic and make the passage refer to the Antichrist went way off the mark. But they had to abandon the early view, otherwise they could not preach their imminent pretribulation Rapture theory.

Since some of the events mentioned in Daniel 9 have not yet happened, the last half of the week must still be future. Nowhere in the book of Revelation does it say anything about a seven-year period, but only three and one-half. This view puts the entire Gospel Age inside of Daniel’s 70th week, except for an additional 75 days that will go beyond the 70th week, explained shortly.

Most Bible commentaries say that the Jews will be converted at the return of Christ, but there is evidence in the Scriptures that a fair number of them will be converted before the start of the Great Tribulation. Sir Robert Anderson, in his book, The Coming Prince, first published in 1889, discovered that God’s time-clock stopped anytime the Jews were not in a proper relationship with God.

In 1 Kings 6:1, it says Solomon began to build the temple in the 480th year after the children of Israel came out of Egypt, which does not appear to be accurate; but if you include all the years in which Israel was under judgment, then it accurately adds up to 573 years. Robert Anderson added up the times when the Israelites were enslaved to foreign powers: 8 years to the king of Mesopotamia, 18 years to Moab, 20 years to Canaan, 7 years to the Midianites, and 40 years to the Philistines; which equals 93. When you add 93 to 480, it comes to the correct number of 573 years.

It is obvious, therefore, that the 480 years of the book of Kings from the Exodus to the temple is a mystic era formed by eliminating every period during which the people were cast off by God. (Chapter 7)

Mr. Anderson believed it means God’s time-clock will begin again when the Jews become a nation again, but the times when Israel were slaves did not refer to being away from the land, because being slaves to a foreign power did not require removal to another land, and did not always include removal. Only the Kings of Assyria and Babylon removed the Israelites.

When we apply the information that God’s time-clock stops when the Jews are not in proper relationship with God, then this explains why there is a gap in Daniel’s 70 weeks. God’s time-clock stopped when the Jews rejected Messiah. Therefore, it means God’s prophetic time-clock and the 70th week cannot begin again until a certain number of the Jews accept Messiah.

All of the Jews did not reject Messiah, only a certain number; likewise, a number will accept Messiah before the remainder of the week will begin. There are many Jews around the world who are accepting their Messiah, with hundreds of Messianic Jewish congregations in the U.S. and in Israel. There are already an estimated 1 million Messianic Jews in the world, with 200,000 in the U.S. and 20,000 in Israel. But there will remain a large number who will not accept Messiah until shortly before his return.

It should also be noted that Jesus actually said he will not return until they convert; “you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt. 23:39). This means they will not see Christ until they convert. The common belief is that they will not convert until they see Christ; this is the exact opposite of what Christ literally said. This is also seen in a prophecy by Hosea:

I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15)

When Peter preached to the Jews in the book of Acts, he said that they will need to convert before Christ will return:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, . . . 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you— even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20)

I don’t see how anyone can teach that the Jews will not convert until Christ returns with such clear passages as this, that say the exact opposite.

Similarly, Paul said when the Jews convert, it will result in the resurrection of the dead, “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15). So the Rapture cannot happen before they convert. More proof against the pretrib theory.

In addition, Paul said that Israel will be blind to the truth “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). This means that when the full number of Gentiles accepts Christ, then all Israel will be saved. But the pretrib theory says the Rapture will take place 7 years before Israel is saved. No, the Church must be here on Earth at the time the Jews convert.

Even Daniel 9 tells us that they must accept Messiah during the 70 weeks, that is, before the 70 weeks can be finished: “to put an end to sin . . . to anoint the most holy.” There is no possible way that they can do that after the 70 weeks. All things mentioned in the text must take place before the end of the 70 weeks. Therefore, the Jews in Israel must convert during the final half of the 70th week before Messiah returns.

A footnote in Mr. Anderson’s book says, “The servitude of Judges 10:7, 9 affected only the tribes beyond Jordan, and did not suspend Israel’s national position.” This means that all of the Jews do not have to convert, only a large number living in the land of Israel. It only takes a certain number, not the entire population, for them to become in right relationship as a nation again. Plus, there will still be millions of Jews around the world who may not convert until they see Christ split the sky at the Rapture.

This passage of Daniel totally destroys the pretrib Rapture theory and the teaching that there will be a tribulation Temple. The Jews will never rebuild the Temple, and they will not accept the Antichrist as Messiah! That is total nonsense. The Abomination of Desolation is explained in the another chapter, as well as evidence against a tribulation Temple.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, wrote about Daniel 9:27 before the modern theories about it were developed:

Christ confirmed the new covenant by the testimony of angels, of John the Baptist, of the wise men, of the saints then living, of Moses and Elias. By his preaching, by signs and wonders, by his holy life, by his resurrection and ascension. By his death and blood shedding. Shall cause the sacrifice to cease– All the Jewish rites, and Levetical worship. By his death he abrogated, and put an end to this laborious service forever. (John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible)

All the above is powerful evidence that the crucifixion of Christ ended the sacrifice and offering in the middle of the final week. Jesus established the covenant with preaching and miracles. Since Jesus is said to confirm the covenant for 7 years, but his ministry only lasted 3.5 years, it means that the final 3.5 years will be confirmed by one, or likely many, Christians who will be able to perform the same miracles that Jesus performed, as if Jesus were here in person.

 

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Copyright 2014 by Michael D. Fortner