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THE FOCUS OF DANIEL 9:24

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 20, 2012 — 3 Comments

Daniel 9:24 introduces the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. This prophecy is greatly loved in certainly eschatological circles. But it is little understood.

A major reason for the confusion is that too many leap over the first verse of the prophecy and set about trying to install gaps in the more exciting part in verses 26–27. When they do so, they should be prepared to sing Elvis Presley’s “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” because that is precisely what they will do. So before we can get into interpreting the meaning of the prophecy, we have to recognize its own stated rationale which is found in verse 24.

Daniel 9:24 states the prophecy’s overriding, glorious expectation: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”

These six infinitival phrases are the prophecy’s main point. They are three couplets containing two parallel matters each. They effectively serve as the heading of the following explication in verses 25–27. The “know therefore and understand” statement in verse 25 begins that explication. Unfortunately, too few populist “prophecy experts” take the time to “know therefore and understand.”

The general view of Daniel 9:24 among non-dispensational evangelicals is that “the six items presented . . . settle the terminus ad quem of the prophecy,” [1] noting that they have to do with events surrounding Christ’s first advent and his redemptive work. In my next installment on Daniel 9 I will show how this is so, but for now I am simply noting another peculiarity of the dispensational system.

Dispensationalists differ dramatically for other evangelical approaches to the passage. They hold that these events are “not to be found in any event near the earthly lifetime of our Lord.” [2] Rather their peculiar eschatological system leads them to expect that “God will once again turn His attention in a special way to His people the Jews and to His holy city Jerusalem, as outlined in Daniel 9:24.” [3] Thus, these prophetic events are still off in our future — almost 2000 years after Christ (so far!).

As usual, dispensationalism re-orients biblical prophecy to fits its system’s unusual demands. Postmillennialism, however, can easily read the prophecy and see it functioning quite nicely without leaping over parts, installing gaps, reinterpreting statements, and other such maneuvers.

So in our study so far, we have already seen that dispensationalism employs this passage as a key foundation stone to their whole eschatological enterprise — despite the warning from OT scholars regarding this prophecy’s great difficulty. Your system is not strong when you found it on such a difficult text. And now we are noting that though most evangelical scholars see the prophetic goal as focusing on Christ’s redemptive labor in verse 24, dispensationalists remove the whole expectation to thousands of years after Christ’s first century labor. In fact, they have to leap over that truly foundational work of Christ altogether.

Stay tuned for our next installment. We will focus on the proper meaning of Daniel 9:24.



Footnotes

[1] Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on Daniel, 201.

[2] Robert Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days, 155.

[3] Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, 465.

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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.

3 responses to THE FOCUS OF DANIEL 9:24

  1. Hey Ken , love the article . I have a question I have me a 1599 Geneva Bible , I know the notes are not preteristic, but are they Postmill ?

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

      It is generally historicist (not preterist) and postmillennial.

      • Thanks! I have been doing a study in Daniel ch.9, with your book and articles, the Geneva Bible notes. They pretty much agree with each other. The notes in the Reformation Study Bible are so mangled up I just quit using it. I like the Geneva a lot better. Well, that is a deep subject! Thanks for every thing, I hope you are having a sabbath rest.

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