Last Days Again – Part 2

70The 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!

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2 thoughts on “Last Days Again – Part 2

  1. I appreciate that it’s difficult to paint a brief yet complete picture of your thoughts in a simple blog post. However I do wish to raise a few questions with regard your views that appear more consistent with one who tries to read the events of A.D. 70 into the fulfilment of these Daniel and Matthew passages rather than first seeing what the plain reading of the text itself says. For example, here are some of the tensions I see arising from your view:

    1. You somehow equate the ‘abomination’ on the ‘wing’ of the temple with the ‘total destruction’ of the temple

    2. You seem to equate Jesus with the one who makes a strong covenant with Israel for 1 week. However it would appear that: The timing of the start with Jesus’ baptism and the end with Acts 8 lacks any clear support from scripture. You also link the ‘he’ in Daniel 9:27 with Jesus, ignoring the preceding verse that more closely links with the ‘prince to come’

    3. Jesus’ death did not immediately put an end to sacrifice (Israel continued to do this for approx. 40 more years) so this pushes it well beyond Acts 8 with the stoning of Stephen and the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.

    4. Some other important issues with this view are that it ignores God’s covenant with Israel (but assumes the church to have replaced Israel, an idea which lacks scriptural support). It also seems to dismiss any possibility of these events having a future fulfilment

    To be fair to your readers, I’d like to provide an outline of the more traditional understanding and plain-reading of these texts that instead allow for the future fulfilment of these events:

    1. After the 69 weeks have passed, Jesus the Messiah, is “cut off”, crucified (as he was rejected by Israel)

    2. For this reason, God has extended grace to the Gentiles for a time to make Israel jealous (Romans 11)

    3. This puts the final 70th week as yet to be fulfilled, especially because the 70 weeks relate to Israel (Daniel 9:1 – ‘for YOUR people’). This better fits in with Daniel 12:1 (and other OT prophets) which speak of trouble for Israel more than any other time in history. Also, the 70th week (7 years) is divided into two halves (three and a half years each). Finally, it also links better with Daniel 12:11-12 (and Revelation) that give rather precise/literal numbers of days for these lots of about 3.5 years

    You do correctly allude to the possibility of multiple levels of prophetic fulfilment, which is the common understanding of many Hebrew and Bible scholars. This includes the prior events of Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the temple in a way that better fits with Revelation’s description of the abomination of desolation, rather than the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. There’s also present-day planning in Israel to build a new temple modelled after the one in Ezekiel that has never yet existed and resume the sacrificial system. These seem to provide compelling evidence for the future fulfilment of many of the Bible’s prophesies, which of course we still need to see play out.

    So what I’m trying to say is that with the plain reading of books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Matthew and Revelation, you start to see a much clearer picture of a future fulfilment at the time of Christ’s return that is actually quite easy to understand when read at face-value, without the need for allegorisation and complex models of interpretation.

    Of course we all need a good dose of humility as we approach the Bible’s prophetic texts since we don’t have all the information. Apologies for the lengthy reply, however I sincerely hope that you would also consider these points above as they relate to your understanding of these texts as well. Until then we must all watch, wait and pray as we see God’s plan continue to unfold.

    • Thanks for the comments – not sure who has written the reply. I certainly think there is validity in reading the passages with a futuristic slant, given that the Second Coming is yet to occur, anyway. Just opening up the possibility of a first century partial fulfilment. Obviously there are different versions of that, too, including Jesus’ baptism or crucifixion being the cutting off, depending on the dating of the decree. The second half of the seventieth week is, for some, the events leading up to A.D.70, a view not without problems. Interesting that the 1290 and 1335 days of Daniel 12 relate to that period or to the future or to Antiochus Epiphanes, depending on the view taken. I just wish Daniel included more detail in chapter 9!

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