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THE COVENANTAL STRUCTURE OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

Daniel 9 contains a prophecy that has been influential in biblical eschatology. Unfortunately, it is a difficult prophecy to analyze. Nevertheless, it is not impossible. As we open up this prophecy we must grasp its overarching structure.

Meredith Kline carefully demonstrates the prophecy’s strongly covenantal cast. He notes of the material leading up to it that it is “saturated with formulaic expressions drawn from the Mosaic treaties, particularly from the Deuteronomic treaty” (cf. Da 9:4–6, 10–15). [1] This prayer regarding covenant loyalty (hesed, 9:4) is answered in terms of the covenantal sabbath pattern of the seventy weeks (9:24–27), which results in the confirmation of the covenant (9:27). Daniel 9 is the only chapter in Daniel to use God’s special covenant name, YHWH (vv 2, 4, 10, 13, 14, 20; cf. Ge 6:2–4).

Recognizing the Seventy Weeks’ covenantal framework is crucial to its proper interpretation, as we will see. It virtually demands a focus on the fulfillment of covenantal redemption in Christ’s ministry.

God clearly frames the Seventy Weeks in terms of sabbatic chronology. The first phase of the Seventy Weeks is “seven weeks,” or (literally) “seven sevens” (Da 9:25), which results in a value of forty-nine. This reflects the time frame leading up to the redemptively significant Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8ff).

The total period of “seventy sevens” is also covenantal. Seventy represents ten seven-week periods, and therefore ten jubilees, a perfect (the significance of 10) number of jubilees.

Therefore, the seventy sevens (weeks) appear to point to a completed redemptive Jubilee. This appropriately points to Christ, who brings in that ultimate Jubilee (cf. Lk 4:17–21; Isa 61:1–3; Mt 24:31), and who is the leading character in Daniel’s prophecy. Consequently, the revealed time frame demarcates the period in which “the Messianic redemption was to be accomplished.” [2]



Footnotes

[1] Kline, “The Covenant of the Seventieth Week,” in The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies in Honor of Oswald T. Allis. ed. by J. H. Skilton, 456.
[2] E. J. Young, “Daniel,” Eerdmans Bible Commentary, 698.

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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 THE COVENANTAL STRUCTURE OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS

  1. Bill Sizemore June 18, 2012 at 6:30

    I am wondering why these posts are so short. I understand not overloading people with too much info all at once, but the current format seems to suffer the opposite ailment. You give us so little that it barely whets our appetites. Perhaps a little more at a time might be better. It would be easier to keep the flow of what you are telling us. Just one man’s opinion.

    BTW, I ordered and read your Olivet Discourse Made Easy book as you suggested. Quite good. I was able to see why you claim there are indications in the text that Jesus is now speaking of the Second Coming and not the 70 A.D. desctruction of Jerusalem. I am not yet a postmillennialist, but I am impressed with the strength of your arguments.

    I am wondering what you have to say about the Ezekiel 38 war in the Middle East passages. Have those passages been fulfilled in some way that I have not yet seen or are they still to come?

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