The Seventy Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 provides a critical basis for understanding the ‘end-times prophecy’ of other Biblical books such Revelation. But the popular belief in a peace treaty with Israel being made by an end-time Antichrist (the ‘Beast’ of Revelation) derives almost exclusively from a particular interpretation of these very verses. This is worth some re-examination in light of the frenetic last-days pronouncements that abound today, but how could this text be read without seeing an end-times ruler in its verses?
According to verse 26, it is after the first sixty-nine ‘weeks’ (483 years) that Jesus is ‘cut off’ or crucified. Also, a different ‘prince’ would destroy Jerusalem and its Temple like a flood, a clear reference to the destruction of A.D. 70 that Jesus prophesied (Matthew 23:37-24:2, noting the use of the word ‘desolation’).
Verse 27 returns to the subject of the prophecy, the Messiah, and the chronology. The seventieth week follows immediately (and logically) from the sixty-ninth, marking a covenant Jesus made in coming to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24). It lasts seven years, being inaugurated by His baptism. In the middle of it, He brings an end to sacrifice and offering by virtue of His death. The seven years is fully finished with the Gospel then being taken to the Gentiles from Acts 8, after the stoning of Stephen. The ‘abomination of desolation’ is to be on a ‘wing of the Temple’ and alludes to the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15.
Clearly, none of this refers explicitly to the end of the world. This framework from Daniel potentially removes many of the popular futuristic elements from biblical prophecy and focuses us today on the importance of the Church, rather than on Israel. To have the last seven-year period of this prophecy (or even just the last half of it) transported into the future requires the insertion of the church age without any clear warrant or without any commentary about this in Daniel.
Nevertheless, I don’t wish to completely eliminate other views that allow such variations, since no one theory can be can surely be the final authority in the face of so many well-considered opinions on so many imprecise texts. If Antiochus Epiphanes’ desecration of the Temple in the second century B.C. is one level of fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy, and the Romans’ later destruction of it being another, why not have another layer of fulfilment again with a future ‘Antichrist’? Although this is considered speculative by those who see the prophecy as fulfilled, it is indeed possible. (My posts on “Making Sense of Revelation” may help here).
Sure enough, though, we will all one day end up knowing the true outcome when it no longer actually matters!