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DANIEL’S GOAL AND CHRIST’S WORK

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 21, 2012 — 2 Comments

Despite its popularity, Daniel 9:24–27 is little understood by most populist prophetic “experts.” And because of those “experts” misleading their enthusiastic followers, too many within the evangelical church today totally misunderstand what the Seventy Weeks prophecy is all about.

In our last study, I noted that dispensationalist writers see Daniel 9:24 as pointing to issues regarding Israel at sometime in our future. Whereas most other evangelicals recognize that it is highlighting first-century events surrounding Christ’s earthly work. But now I must show why that is the case.

Be aware that the six infinitival phrases in verse 24 are actually three couplets. Each couplet has parallel parts the mutually reinforce each other. Now let’s consider those three couplets.

The First Couplet

The Seventy Weeks will witness the finishing of the transgression. As noted in the verses preceding the prophecy, Daniel’s prayer of confession regards Israel’s sins (Da 9:4ff) and the prophecy’s focus is on Israel (Da 9:24a). Consequently, this finishing the transgression has to do with Israel’s finishing, or completing, her transgression against God. Israel finishes her transgression during Christ’s earthly ministry, when she rejects him and demands his crucifixion (Mt 21:37–38; cf. 21:33–45; Ac 7:51–52). [1] Barnabas (ca. late first century) states: “The Son of God therefore came in the flesh with this view, that He might bring to a head the sum of their sins who had persecuted His prophets to the death.” [2]

The first couplet’s second part directly relates to the first: After finishing the transgression against God in rejecting the Messiah, now Israel’s sins are sealed up (NASB marg.; chatham). The idea here is, as Payne observes, to seal or to “reserve sins for punishment.” [3] Because of Israel’s rejecting her Messiah, God reserves punishment for her: the temple’s final, conclusive destruction, which God reserves from the time of Jesus’ ministry until AD 70 (Mt 24:2, 34). The sealing or reserving of the sins indicates that within the “Seventy Weeks” Israel will complete her transgression, and with the completing of her sin by crucifying Christ, God will act to reserve (beyond the seventy weeks) her sins for judgment.

The Second Couplet

The third result (beginning the second couplet) involves “reconciliation for iniquity.” [4] The Hebrew word kaphar is the word for “atonement,” i.e., a covering of sin. It refers to Christ’s atoning death, which is the ultimate atonement to which all temple rituals look (Heb 9:26 [5]). This also occurs during his earthly ministry — at his death. The dispensationalist prefers to interpret this result as application rather than effecting. He sees it as subjective appropriation instead of objective accomplishment: “The actual application of it is again associated with the second advent as far as Israel is concerned.” [6] “This final atonement, while based on the past work of the Messiah, will be effected for the national remnant of Israel only in the future.” [7] But on the basis of the Hebrew verb, the passage clearly speaks of the actual making reconciliation (or atonement).

Because of this atonement to cover sin, the fourth result effects everlasting righteousness, i.e., the final, complete atonement establishes righteousness. This speaks of the objective accomplishment of righteousness, not its subjective appropriation. Christ effects this within the seventy week period, as well (Ro 3:21–22a).

The Third Couplet

The fifth result (the first portion of the third couplet) has to do with Christ’s ministry on earth, which begins at his baptism: he comes “to seal up vision and prophecy.” This means that Christ fulfills (and thereby confirms) the prophecy (Lk 18:31; cf. Lk 24:44; Ac 3:18). [8]

Finally, the seventy years are for the following goal: “to anoint the Most Holy.” This anointing [mashach] speaks of the Christ’s baptismal anointing. I would argue this for the following reasons: (1) The overriding concern of Daniel 9:24–27 is Messianic. The temple they build after the Babylonian Captivity will be destroyed after the seventy weeks (v 27), with no further mention made of it. (2) In the following verses the Messiah (mashiyach, “Christ,” “Anointed One”) is specifically named twice (vv 25, 26). (3) The “most holy” phraseology speaks of the Messiah, who is “that Holy One who is to be born.” [9] Isaiah prophesies that Christ will fulfill the ultimate redemptive Jubilee (Isa 61:1–2a; cf. Lk 4:17–21). At his baptismal anointing the Spirit comes upon him (Mk 1:9–11). This introduces his ministry, of which we read three verses later: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled [the sixty-ninth week? [10], and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:14–15). Christ is pre-eminently the Anointed One.[11]

Footnotes

1. Mt 20:18–19; 23:37–38; 27:11–25; Mk 10:33; 15:1; Lk 18:32; 23:1–2; Jn 18:28–31; 19:12, 15; Ac 2:22–23; 3:13–15a; 4:26–27; 5:30.
2. Barnabas 5.
3. J. B. Payne, “Goal of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks,” 111.
4. The definite article, which occurs before “transgression” and “sins,” is lacking here. There it referred to the particular situation of Israel; here it considers the more general predicament of mankind.
5. Heb 1:3; 7:27; 9:7–12, 26, 28; 10:9–10. See also: Jn 1:29; Ro 3:25; 2 Co 5:19; 1Pe 2:24; 1 Jn 2:2.
6. John F. Walvoord, Daniel, 222. Cf. Paul Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy, 169.
7. Price in Wesley Willis, Issues in Dispensationalism, 149.
8. Walvoord seems to slip by allowing this prophecy to cover “the cessation of the New Testament prophetic gift seen both in oral prophecy and in the writing of the Scriptures.” Walvoord, Daniel, 222. This, however, does not occur in either the first sixty-nine weeks (up to “just before the time of Christ’s crucifixion”) or in the seventieth week (the future great tribulation), the periods which he claims involve the 490 years. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 258. Yet he specifically says that the “six major events characterize the 490 years.” Walvoord, Daniel, 251.
9. Lk 1:35; cf. 4:34, 41. See also: Mk 1:24; Ac 3:14; 4:27, 30; 1 Jn 2:20; Rev 3:7; He is called the “anointed one” (Ps 2:2; Isa 42:1; Ac 10:38).
10. Interestingly, in the first century arifses a widely held belief that a ruler from within Israel is to arise “at that very time,” i.e., during the Jewish War. Tacitus, Histories 5:13: “The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world. This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus.”
11. Ps 2:2; 132:10; Isa 11:2; 42:1; Hab 3:13; Ac 4:27; 10:38; Heb 1:9. Vanderwaal denies the Messianic referent of this passage, preferring a Maccabean priestly referent. Vanderwaal, Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy, 37.

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 80 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

2 responses to DANIEL’S GOAL AND CHRIST’S WORK

  1. First off let me thank you for this and other series of articles. I’m using them as little studies to teach my children.

    Is Payne someone you recommend for this topic, and are there others you would recommend as well.

    P.S. How is the commentary on Revelation coming, do you have an estimated finish date? I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 24, 2012 at 6:30

      Payne is historic premill. But he is good on the Seventy Weeks. I am targeting Dec 31 to finish my commentary.

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