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DANIEL’S SEVENTIETH WEEK

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 22, 2012 — 14 Comments

As we work our way through Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, we come now to the main point of debate with dispensationalists.

When is the seventieth week, and what is its point?The Messiah now experiences something “after the sixty-two weeks” (Da 9:26), which follow the preceding “seven weeks” (v 25). This will occur, then, sometime after the sixty-ninth week. A natural reading of the text requires that this occurs in the seventieth week, for that is the only time frame remaining for accomplishing the prophecy’s goal listed in verse 24. That which occurs at this time is: “Messiah shall be cut off.” The Hebrew word translated “cut off” here (karath) “is used of the death penalty, Lev. 7:20; and refers to a violent death,” [1] i.e, the death of Christ on the cross.

Given the Hebraic pattern of repetition, we may easily discern a parallel between verses 26 and 27; verse 27 gives an expansion of verse 26. Negatively, Messiah’s cutting off in verse 26 results from Israel’s completing her transgression and bringing it to a culmination (v 24) by crucifying the Messiah. [2] Positively, verse 27 states this same event: “He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” Considered from its positive effect, this confirming the covenant with many makes reconciliation and brings in everlasting righteousness (v 24). The confirming of a covenant (v 27) refers to the covenantal actions of verse 24, which result from the perfect covenantal Jubilee (Seventy Weeks) and are the consequence of Daniel’s covenantal prayer (cf. v 4). The covenant men-tioned, then, is the divine covenant of God’s redemptive grace. [3] Messiah comes to confirm the covenantal promises (Lk 1:72; Eph 2:12). He confirms the covenant by dying on the cross (Heb 7:22b). [4]

The word translated “confirm” (higbir) is related to the angel Gabriel’s name, who brought Daniel the revelation of the Seventy Weeks (and who later brings the revelation of Christ’s birth [Lk 1:19, 26]). “Gabriel” is based on the Hebrew gibbor, “strong one,” a concept frequently asso-ciated with the covenant God. [5] The related word found in Daniel 9:27 means to “make strong, confirm.” [6] This “firm covenant” brings about “everlasting righteousness” (Da 9:24) — hence its firmness.

Daniel’s prayer is particularly for Israel (Da 9:3ff), and recognizes God’s promises of mercy upon those who love him (v 4). Therefore, the covenant will be confirmed with many for one week. The “many”refers to the faithful in Israel. “Thus a contrast is introduced between He and the Many, a contrast which appears to reflect upon the great Messianic passage, Isaiah 52:13–53:12 and particularly 53:11. Although the entire nation will not receive salvation, the many will receive.” [7]

This confirming God’s covenant to the “many” of Israel occurs in the middle of the seventieth week (v 27). This parallels “after the sixty-two [and seven] weeks” (v 26) and provides more detail. We know Christ’s three-and-one-half-year ministry focuses on the Jews in the first half of the seventieth week (Mt 10:5b; Mt 15:24). For a period of three and one-half years after the crucifixion, [8] the apostles focus almost exclusively on the Jews, beginning first “in Judea” (Ac 1:8; 2:14) because “the gospel of Christ” is “for the Jew first” (Ro 1:16; cf. 2:10; Jn 4:22).

Although the prophecy clearly specifies the terminus of the sixty-ninth week, such is not the case with the terminus of the seventieth. Thus, the exact event that ends the seventieth is not so significant for us to know. Apparently at the stoning of Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr, the covenantal proclamation begins turning toward the Gentiles (Ac 8:1). The apostle to the Gentiles appears on the scene at Stephen’s death (Ac 7:58–8:1; 22:20), as the Jewish persecution against Christianity breaks out. Paul’s mission clearly exceeds the narrow Jewish focus (Ac 9:15; 22:21; 26:17; Ro 1:5; 11:13; 15:16; Gal 1:16; 2:7; 3:1, 8; 1Ti 2:7; 4:17).

This covenant’s confirmation occurs “in the middle of the week” (Da 9:27). Above I show that the seventieth week begins with Christ’s baptismal anointing. Then, after three and one-half years of ministry — the middle of the seventieth week — Christ suffers crucifixion (Lk 13:6–9; Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 1:10:3). Thus, the prophecy states that by his confirming the covenant, Messiah will “bring an end to sacrifice and offering” (v 27) by offering up Himself as a sacrifice for sin (Heb 9:25–26; cf. Heb 7:11–12, 18–22). Consequently, at his death the temple’s veil tears from top to bottom (Mt 27:51), showing that God is legally disestablishing the sacrificial system (cf. Mt 23:38), for Christ is the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29; Ac 8:32; 1Pe 19; Rev 5–7), who is offered once and for all (Heb 10:4–10).



Footnotes

1. E. J. Young, Daniel, 206.
2. Mt 20:18–19; 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; 7:52.
3. When “covenant” is mentioned in Daniel, it is always God’s covenant, see: Daniel 9:4; 11:22, 28, 30, 32. This includes even Daniel 11:22. See: J. D. Pentecost, “Daniel,” Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1369.
4. Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20; 1Co 11:25; 2 Co 3:6; Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24.
5. Dt 7:9, 21; 10:17; Neh 1:5; 9:32; Isa 9:6; Da 9:4. Hengstenberg argues convincingly that the source of Daniel 9 seems to be Isaiah 10:21–23, where God is the “Mighty God” who blesses the faithful remnant.
6. Young, Daniel, 209; O. T. Allis,  Prophecy and the Church, 122; E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, 856.
7.  Young, Daniel, 213.
8. Payne, “The Goal of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks,” 109n; Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, 2:898. Young, Daniel, 213.

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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 100 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.

14 responses to DANIEL’S SEVENTIETH WEEK

  1. Mary E. Griswold June 22, 2012 at 6:30

    As I told you before, I am a premellianist, but you are changing my view. Where in this dialog does the rapture fit in? will my 3 little dogs be in the rapture? The Bible mentions only born-again individuals in the rapture.I love my little dogs & God made them too & I am sure He loves them too. I really enjoy your articles & I am learning much. Thank you.

  2. Harold McHenry June 22, 2012 at 6:30

    Maybe you need some kind of a disclaimer an your website because when I log on I also get an “opportunity” to click on some extreme stuff that is made to look like you ok it. Your “stuff”is great.

  3. So far I agree with you all on the first part of the Seventieth Week. It is the second part that you don’t do correct exegeticl interpretation.

  4. Another problem is you do not see that Daniel was not given any knowledge of the last 3 1/2 years of the Seventhieth week. He was told that it would not be given unto him and he was troubled by it. Because of your false interpretation of these important scriptures in Daniel you miss the whole point. The reason you do is because of your false concept of when it says 1,000 years of a millenium it means literally 1,000 years.

  5. Gerrie Malan June 23, 2012 at 6:30

    “Cut off” also refers to excommunication in the culture of the time and it seems that both meanings apply here?

  6. Thanks Ken, for another well thought out commentary on the 70 week prophecy. When we are told the Bible mentions only born-again individuals in the “Rapture”, I would like to know WHERE the Bible mentions “Rapture”. It doesn’t. It does mention a resurrection on the LAST DAY when the Kingdom is delivered up to the Father so God can be all in all. There is of course, no room for a Jewish Millennium here. It is striking that the 1000 year period in Revelation, a highly symbolical book, is pressed to be literal and in the Psalms, a wisdom book, where God is shown to own the cattle on 1000 hills is NOT to be taken literally. The literal truth is Literalism is inconsistent.

    • That’s a very good question. The Bible mentions the rapture (being snatched away) in four places; the most mentioned being I Thess. 4:17. The English word “r-a-p-t-u-r-e” isn’t written, but here’s the history. The words “caught up” were in the Koinea Greek, “Harpazo”. As you obviously know, the Latin Vulgate translation was the primary translation of scripture out of the Greek for 1,000 years prior to the reformation. The Latin Vulgate translated the verb “Harpazo” as “Rapiemur”. This is where the “rapture” or “raptured” entered our English. The meaning of the “Harpazo” is, paraphrased, “to take suddenly, to snatch, with force and without warning”. This same Greek term was used 3 other places to describe individuals that were “snatched up”: Acts 8:39, II Cor. 12:4 and Rev. 12:5.

      You are correct that there is a resurrection preceding the “Last Day”. According to Rev. 20:4-5, scripture calls this resurrection of the martyrs the first resurrection. These Christian martyrs, according to Rev. 20:5 reign with Christ for 1,000 years. Then, the rest of the dead (unsaved) are brought to life (Rev. 20:5, 12) to the Great White Throne Judgement, which precedes the second death (lake of fire).

      You are also correct that sometimes the Bible is literate and others it is symbolic. Thankfully, careful study will illuminate both when coupled with understanding granted by the Holy Spirit. May God richly bless you as you study his Word.

  7. Matt Spurlock June 25, 2012 at 6:30

    I’ve read a lot of things from Dr. Gentry on this subject and am with him totally on just about everything. What I see lacking is a solid chronological interpretation of the 70 weeks. I’ve read Anstey’s work on the topic and found it convincing in many areas, but lacking a “dispensational-esque” chart or timeline that shows definitively when the weeks started.

    Did the 70 weeks start with Cyrus and our Ptolemaic estimates of chronology are wrong as Anstey asserts or did it start with Darius, Xerxes, or Artexerxes?

  8. Read the 70 weeks of Daniel by Philip Mauro. He is very insightful although I believe not completely on entire sequence of events.

  9. Another possibility is that 70th week ended at the baptism of Cornelius mentioned in Acts 10 – 11. This event was a pivotal transition point witnessed and administered by the chief apostle, Peter. The witness was clear: the new covenant had been confirmed to natural Israel for 7 years, the first 3.5 years by the Lord himself (the head), and the next 3.5 years by his body. Natural Israel itself bore witness that a turning point had been reached:

    And [when they] heard these [things], they became silent and praised God, saying, “Then God has granted the repentance [leading] to life to the Gentiles also!” Acts 11:18

  10. I agree that Jesus’s baptism started the 70 week of Danial but he is cut off in the middle of the week or 3 1/2 years into the 7 years. Isaiah asks a question, Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
    After being “cut off” who will now “declare his (Christs) generation?” Who will finish the week?

    Psalms 22 answers the question for us:

    Psa 22:30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
    Psa 22:31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

    It is the seed that shall serve him, That seed will be accounted to the Lord for A Generation. They will come. In Rev 11 there are two witnesses that have a 3 1/2 year ministery and in my humble opinion they will finish the week.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 22, 2012 at 6:30

      The week means nothing if the first half lasted 3 1/2 years and the last half has already lasted almost 2000 years. You are imposing a 2000 year gap in a seven year period. Without authorization from the text, and against the whole purpose of the text: to measure time.

      • Thank you for pointing out the obvious that there is no mention of a Gap after 3 1/2 years. However it is also obvious that Jesus was cut off in the middle of the week after a three and a half year ministry. Also in Verse 27 there is mention of the middle of the week. “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” I’ve understood this to mean that Jesus, by offering himself one time for sins, forever caused the need of sacrifies and oblations to cease. The phraze “even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” I feel leaves an open door for the last part (3 1/2 years) to be completed at the end of this age. Jesus told the Jews that rejected him that their house would be left desolate. The Jewish nation that rejected Christ has become desolate for nearly 2000 years now. How long would it be left desolate? Even if you don’t agree you do have to note that there is a coincidental 3 1/2 year ministry by the two witness or two candlesticks in Rev 11 that finishes the rebellion against the Kingdom of God and causes all the kingdoms of this world to submit unto the Kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ. 3 1/2 plus 3 1/2 makes 7. I am not a dispensationalist at all. I simply see that God wants to bring many Sons to glory and at the end of this age he will have a company of Sons that he will manifest, just as he manifested his first Son Jesus. Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
        I really do like your article and I do not claim that I fully understand this passage in Danial 9. It is one of the most difficult passages I have ever tried to sort out. Many men have looked at it and come up with many different understandings. The verdict is still out in my book but I have some Idea’s that I am considering.

      • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 27, 2012 at 6:30

        You are correct in noting that Jesus was cut off in the middle of the week, which would be at the end of his 3 1/2 year ministry. Of course, I point that out in the original article series. His “cutting off” speaks of his death which is a major stated goal of the seventy weeks, as stated in Dan 9:24. The destruction of the temple is not one of the goals stated in v. 24. It is a consequence of the goal having been reached.

        I believe a part of your problem is that you have a misleading translation of v. 26: “even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Most versions are pretty close to the NASB which reads: “its end will come after a flood.” The end of the “sanctuary” (temple) came in AD 70, it is not awaiting the end of history.

        Another problem causing you to stumble is that you assume that the same numbers (3 1/2) must point to the same event. I believe it is a mistake to import Rev 11 into Dan 9. Similarity does not ential identity, that is, identical time frames can be the same measure of time without their necessarily measuring the same event. Rev 11 appears in a book that specifically and repeatedly declares that the events are soon to occur (e.g., Rev 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). The 3 1/2 time frame is an image of a broken 7, which speaks of judgment. Rev 11 is not speaking of the end of history but of AD 70 and the temple’s end. It happens to match the length of Jesus’ ministry, but it is not therefore Jesus’ ministry.

        Keep studying! And thanks for reading.

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