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THE DISPENSATIONAL COVENANT IN DANIEL’S 70 WEEKS

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 25, 2012 — 16 Comments

Dispensationalists woefully misunderstand the covenant’s confirming in Daniel 9:27. This verse reads: “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

According to Walvoord: “This refers to the coming world ruler at the beginning of the last seven years who is able to gain control over ten countries in the Middle East. He will make a covenant with Israel for a seven-year period. As Daniel 9:27 indicates, in the middle of the seven years he will break the covenant, stop the sacrifices being offered in the temple rebuilt in that period, and become their persecutor instead of their protector, fulfilling the promises of Israel’s day of trouble (Jer. 30:5–7).”

Several problems plague this interpretation, some of which I deal with above in another connection:

(1) The covenant here is not made, it is confirmed. This is actually the confirmation of a covenant already extant, i.e., the covenant of God’s redemptive grace, which Christ confirms (Ro 15:8; cp. Ro 4:16; 2Co 1:20).

(2) As I note above the term “make a firm covenant” relates to the angel’s name who delivers the message to Daniel: Gabriel (“God is strong“). The lexical correspondence between the name of God’s strong angel and the making strong of the covenant suggests the covenant’s divine nature. In addition, covenantal passages frequently employ related terms, when speaking of God’s strong covenant.

(3) The parallelism with verse 26 indicates that the Messiah’s death directly relates to the covenant’s confirming. he is “cut off” but “not for himself” (v 26a), for he “confirms the covenant” for the “many” of Israel (v 27a). His “cutting off” brings the covenant’s confirmation, for “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb 9:22).

(4) The indefinite pronoun “he” does not refer back to “the prince who is to come” of verse 26. That “prince” is a subordinate noun; “the people” (plural) is the dominant noun. Thus, the “he” refers back to the last dominant individual mentioned: “Messiah” (v 26a). The Messiah is the leading figure in the whole prophecy, so the temple’s destruction relates to his death. In fact, the people who destroy the temple are providentially “his armies” (Mt 22:2–7).

Clearly, the dispensational view of Daniel’s covenant is mistaken.



1. John F. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 257. J. D. Pentecost, “Daniel,” Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1364.
2. Dt 7:9, 21; 10:17; Neh 1:5; 9:32; Isa 9:6; Da 9:4. See my earlier discussion above.

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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.

16 responses to THE DISPENSATIONAL COVENANT IN DANIEL’S 70 WEEKS

  1. William Donelson June 25, 2012 at 6:30

    Clearly the key here is the idea of “confirms” versus “makes” a covenant. How can someone without a strong Hebrew language background checkout this confirming when the popular English translations use the word ‘make’?
    Thank you, WBD

    • the only way it to use strong’s strong. as for the popular English translations they use their eschatology in translating.

  2. Actually, the verb for “make a strong covenant” is in the hiphil, which implies forcing an agreement by means of superior strength. That easily fit with “the prince” which is grammatically the nearest antecedent. Verse 27 further explains the “subordinate noun” which is the prince.

  3. Unfortunately with all the different translations you could come away with a different interpretation to this passage. It’s not about the word confirm but about how many persons this verse is talking about. I know my pastor thinks and I would agree with him that there is only one person(he) this verse is referring too. I hope you talk about that part.

  4. Dr. Gentry,

    In Matt 26:27-28, Jesus tells His disciples, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” Does the covenant that the Messiah will confirm in Daniel have anything to do with what Jesus told his disciples? The language seems very similar to me.

    Does “for many” refer to the covenant being made with those chosen from out of the nations (many) and not just the Jewish nation (one) like the first covenant?

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

      Eugene:
      Christ came to fulfill God’s covenant with Israel. And he does so in his death on the cross. Many of the OT types and sacrifices were covenantal signs that found their fulfillment Christ and his death for sin. And the various stages of God’s covenants with Israel were confirmed in Christ. The new covenant is God’s final covenant which included all Jews (and others) who would accept it. The “many,” I believe, refers to the many in Israel (the remnant) who accepted Christ. Remember the whole point of the prophecy has to do with God’s decree regarding “your people and your holy city” (Dan 9:24).

  5. I take more of a premillenial interpretation of the Scriptures, however, I thoroughly enjoy your thought provoking boots. I will pray to never be too proud to learn, and be open minded to the ideas of others who are well taught, by The Spirit, of the Word. Just my 2 cents. [] Thanks. [] I plan to start participating in the discussions.

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

      Kevin: You are a rare breed. Too many Christians approach Scripture emotionally and are not ready to “examine the Scriptures to see whether these things are so” (Acts 17:11). Keep studying!

  6. Rick Morgan June 27, 2012 at 6:30

    Thank you Ken for you continuing contributions to clarity in the area of eschatology!

    One comment/question I have regards Daniel 9:26b:
    “And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

    I have read all kinds of explanations that promote the idea that this verse is referring either to a future Anti-Christ during the tribulation (I completely disagree) or to Titus in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem (plausible, but not convinced).

    After reading The Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus, one thing seems to be evident – Jerusalem was already destroyed by the time Titus besieged and overthrew Jerusalem. This also helps to make sense of Matt 24:28, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Titus and his army were basically a ‘clean-up crew’ for the abominated Jerusalem, much like a specialized team comes into modern day crime scenes to clean them up. The three warring factions within Jerusalem’s wall had thoroughly ravaged the city and the sanctuary. If this view is correct, that make the apostate Jews themselves the one who destroyed Jerusalem, and, they are “the people” of the prince to come, Jesus the same prince (the only prince?) identified in this passage.

    Your thoughts?

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

      Rick:
      You are partly correct: The Jews ultimately caused the destruction of their holy city and temple, largely due to the zealot movement. Furthermore, during the Jewish War they effectively destroyed Jerusalem by their internal wars. Jerusalem was in near ruin by their own actions.

      However, they did not set fire to the temple, pull down the huge stones, and so forth which actually destroyed the temple. This was effected by the Roman armies under the command of Titus.

      But you do make important observations that are too often overlooked. Many evangelicals view AD 70 as befalling hapless Israel. They do not understand that Jerusalem and the temple were largely destroyed by the Jews’ own hands.

  7. So, would it be accurate to say then that you put the phrase “and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and sanctuary” as not a part of the seventy weeks? And how would you also explain the fact that that phrase is connected to the sixty-two weeks with a vav conjunction that connects it both grammatically and contextually to the sixty-two weeks. It is also placed between the sixty-two plus seven weeks and the one week of 9:27. Seems like you dismiss the grammatical links due to a theological position.

    There are several things that are assumed to be true. 1) that the covenant that is “confirmed” is a covenant of grace. Again, this takes the discussion in a whole new direction, but your position is built off of a number of assumptions that this covenant is even a biblical covenant, when I would suggest that it is a theological construct that is not even in the context. The closest covenant (9:4) pertains to the Mosaic Covenant and you probably don’t think the Messiah confirms or makes stronger the Mosaic Covenant do you?. 2) Your point on the prince is a subordinate noun and the people being the dominate noun doesn’t negate the possibility (and in my opinion, the probability) that verse 27 further discusses and develops the “prince.” The clearest masculine anticedent is the “prince” grammatically. Therefore, 9:27 can easily and grammatically develop the subordinate noun.

    Another question I have is if you think there are any gaps within Scripture? In other words, are there portions of scripture that are affirmed to be fulfilled and other portions of the same passage that awaited a future fulfillment? Say like Luke 4 and Isaiah 61:1-2?

    Thats all that I can think of

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 3, 2012 at 6:30

      Jason: Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for your questions. I would briefly answer as follows:

      You are correct in your surmise of my view: the destruction of Jerusalem is not part of the Seventy Weeks. The Seventy Weeks are to accomplish the six goals stated in v. 24. Yet not one of these is the destruction of Jerusalem. This is an addendum.

      The vav construction does not require immediate linkage to the Seventy Weeks events. As I explain in the blog, it simply shows another result beyond those stated in v 24. The conjunction in ancient (and modern) languages can function in various ways. The vav does not require immediate linkage in time. By the way, if I adopted your view of unexplained gaps, I could account for the vav conjunction on your view. So your view is torn by dialectical tension.

      According to v 24 and the stated goal of the Seventy Weeks, the covenant confirmed is that covenant that: makes an end of sin, provides atonement for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness by the Messiah. What covenant do you believe that is?

      Regarding the “prince” as a subordinate noun, I stand by argument presented in the blog (which by the way is not mine but one held by a great many non-dispensationalist scholars). And even on your own statement you are reduced to the argument that it “can easily” develop the noun. You are correct: it does not necessarily do so.

      Regarding gaps in Scripture: I really do not have to resolve that question in this context. As I point out in the blog, the major driving point of the prophecy and its opening assertion is chronological: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people” (v. 24a). The prophecy demands that this period of time serve as a measuring device. But on your theologically-imposed gap assumption, the stated period of Seventy Weeks is 490 but one that contains an unexplained, unnoted 2000 year gap within it. On the very surface this is absurd: the gap already is four times longer than the measured time. Daniel most certainly did not write: “Seventy weeks are determined on your people not counting the 2000 year gap hidden within.”

  8. Could you explain the later part of verse 27, the part with the abominations?

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

      Those “abominations” are manifold: They include various horrific events caused by the Jews themselves during the internal civil war within the walls of Jerusalem that occur during the Jewish War with Rome. They also include horrible acts associated with the war waged by Rome, one final act being the worshiping of the emperor in the Jewish temple by the Roman soldiers. For these events, see Josephus, Wars of the Jews books 4-7.

      • So does your 3 1/2 years now span 40 plus in that final portion of the last week?

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

        No? Re-read the series. The goals of the seventy weeks are stated in Dan 9:24. Not one of them mentions the temple’s destruction. The temple’s destruction is not a part of the seventy weeks, but is a later consequence of the seventy weeks being fulfilled. There is no gap, nor any need of a gap. And certainly not a gap five times longer than the whole temporal measure established in the “seventy weeks” or 490 years.

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