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IS THERE A GAP IN THE SEVENTY WEEKS?

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

Dispensationalism incorporates a gap or parenthesis between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. This gap spans the entire Church Age from the Triumphal Entry to the rapture. [1] The dispensational arguments for a gap of undetermined length between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks are not convincing. Let us consider a few of their leading arguments in this regard.

First, the peculiar phraseology in Daniel. Daniel places the cutting off of the Messiah “after the 62 ‘sevens,’ not in the 70th ‘seven.’” [2] This (allegedly) allows for a gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth-weeks. If the cutting-off did not occur during the sixty-ninth week or during the seventieth week, a gap must exist between them.

In response it is obvious that seventy occurs after sixty-nine, and thus fits the requirements of the prophecy. Consequently, such an argument does not prove that the word “after” requires a gap. Besides, Daniel mentions only seventy weeks and, as LaRondelle has pointed out, Daniel most certainly does not say “after sixty-nine weeks, but not in the seventieth.” [3] Such an explanation is a gratuitous assumption demanded by dispensational system requirements. Since Daniel has yet to deal with the seventieth week, and since he clearly deals with the preceding sixty-nine weeks (Da 9:25), it is quite natural to assume this cutting off of the Messiah must be sometime within the seven-year period covered by the seventieth week.

Second, a fatal admission. Walvoord writes: “historically the destruction of Jerusalem occurred in AD 70 almost forty years after the death of Christ.” [4] So, the argument goes, since Daniel prophesies this event as occurring within the seventy weeks, “the continuous fulfillment theory [is] left without any explanation adequate for interposing an event as occurring after the sixty-ninth seven by some thirty-eight years.” [5]

I explain the relation of the seventy weeks to the destruction of the temple in AD 70 above. The goal of the Seventy Weeks is not the AD 70 destruction of the temple, which Daniel does not mention in Daniel 9:24. That destruction is a later consequence of certain events that will occur within the seventy weeks. The actual act of God’s reserving judgment (v 24) occurs within the seventy weeks; the later removal of that reservation does not. No necessity at all for a gap exists.

Third, the general tendency in prophecy. Walvoord writes: “Nothing should be plainer to one reading the Old Testament than that the foreview therein provided did not describe the period of time between the two advents. This very fact confused even the prophets (cf. 1 Pet. 1:10–12).” [6] His argument then is: Old Testament prophecy can merge the first and second advents into one scene, though separated by thousands of years. Consequently, we have biblical warrant for understanding the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks as merged into one scene, although separated by a gap of thousands of years.

This argument is wholly without merit. Price’s explanation to the problem absolutely misses the point of the objection: “Postponement does not affect such fulfillment of measured events. The same chronological events are fulfilled in the same temporal order as if no interruption occurred.” [7] But the Seventy Weeks appear as a unit, though sub-divided into three unequal parts: (1) It is one period of seventy weeks that must transpire in order to experience the events mentioned. The plural “seventy weeks” is followed by a singular verb “is decreed,” which indicates the unity of the time period. (2) An overriding concern of the prophecy, in distinction to all other Messianic prophecies, is that it actually measures time. If the dispensational gap theory regarding the seventieth week is true, then the gap separating the seventieth from the sixty-ninth week is now almost 2000 years long, or four times the whole time period of the seventy weeks, which is 490 years. And who knows how much longer it will continue? Such an approach destroys Daniel’s unique presentation that actually measures prophetic fulfillment.

Price compounds this problem by stating that “Daniel 9:27 uniquely serves as the single Old Testament text cited by our Lord in the synoptics as a chronological indicator of eschatology events.” [8] Yet how can this prophecy be an indicator of chronology if we may expect enormous gaps in it?



Footnotes

1. John F. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 256–257. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, 465. J. D. Pentecost, “Daniel,” Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:161. Walvoord, Daniel, 230–231.
2. Pentecost, “Daniel,” BKC, 1364. See: John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question, 25.
3. Hans LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy,173.
4. Walvoord, Daniel, 230.
5. Walvoord, Daniel, 230.
6. Walvoord, The Rapture Question, 25.
7. Randall Price in Willis, Issues in Dispensationalism, 139.
8. Randall Price, in Willis, Issues in Dispensationalism, 142.

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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.

One response to IS THERE A GAP IN THE SEVENTY WEEKS?

  1. What can be more clearer then that?

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