When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?

The main matter in this article is when the Daniel 9:24 goals have been or will be fulfilled.

This is the seventh and final article in the series on the Dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9.  The previous articles were:

(1) Introduction to Dispensationalism and Daniel 9: Overview of the text of Daniel 9 and of the Dispensational interpretation
(2) Time indications in Daniel 9: When was the decree issued, when did the Messiah appear and when did God suspend His covenant with the Jews?
(3) Whose covenant is confirmed in Daniel 9:27; God’s covenant with Israel or the devil’s?
(4) Who confirms the covenant for seven years; the Messiah or the prince?
(5) Is the last week the last seven u=years before Christ returns?
(6) Dispensationalism Daniel 9 and the Antichrist: Inconsistencies compared to the text

Daniel 9:24 Goals Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

Summary

The first two goals—“to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins”—do not mean that a complete and utter end will be made of sin in this world.  In the context of the prophecy these goals given to Israel.  Israel was to show its loyalty to God when the Messiah appears.  But Israel failed.

According to the New Testament the third and fourth goals—“to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness”—were fulfilled by Christ’s death.

The fifth goal—“to seal up the vision and prophecy”—is understood as that the events of the final week, particularly the Cross, would validate the Old Testament promises of the coming Messiah.

The sixth goal— “to anoint the most Holy” —refers to heaven itself.  Christ’s death was a great victory over evil, and as we read in Revelation 5 and 12, Satan was cast out of heaven as a result (Rev. 12:5, 7-9).

Introduction

Daniel 9 goalsDispensationalism denies that Christ’s first advent (His earthly life, baptism, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven) fulfilled the Daniel 9:24 goals for the seventy week.  It consequently objects to the traditional Protestant interpretation of Daniel 9.

The following are proposed guidelines for interpreting these goals:

Firstly, these goals were given to Israel to fulfill, and Israel was given 490 years to fulfill them.  These goals must therefore be fulfilled during the 490 years; not at the end of that period.

Secondly, as discussed, the last seven years are the purpose and core of the 490 years.  It is therefore proposed that all six goals were to be fulfilled by the events of the last seven years.

Thirdly, the goals are probably listed in the sequence in which they were to be fulfilled.

1. To finish the transgression
2. To make an end of sin

In the parallelism of the prophecy, this seems to be a single thought, expressed in two ways.  One can see why Dispensationalism argues that these goals have not been fulfilled, for we still live in a world filled with transgression and sin.  But it is proposed that this does not refer to sin in general, but specifically to Israel’s sin, for the following reasons:

(a) In his prayer, Daniel prayed “we have sinned, committed iniquity” (9:5) and “we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity” (9:13).  He said, “I was … confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel” (9:20).  When he then hears that 490 years were decreed for Israel to fulfill these two goals (9:24), Daniel would have understood these two goals as a challenge to Israel, to manifest their loyalty toward Him and bring an end to the sinful state of their society that led to the exile.

(b) The definite article “the” identifies the transgression as some specific sin.

(c) The goals are probably listed in the sequence in which they were to be fulfilled, and these two goals are mentioned before the third goal, which is to make atonement of iniquity, which was certainly fulfilled by Christ’s death.

God gave Israel the opportunity to succeed where their fathers failed.  In particular, Israel was to show its loyalty to God when the Messiah would appear.  These two goals were therefore not fulfilled.

3. To make atonement for iniquity
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness

Lamb of GodThese two goals are also related; by making atonement, Jesus brought in everlasting righteousness.

Consider firstly “make atonement for iniquity”.  Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  His blood was “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).  He was sacrificed for our sins and did away “with sin” once for all when he offered himself (Heb. 7:27, 9:26-28).  Through His own blood He has obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).  See also Hebrews 10:10, 12, and 14.

We might be inclined to think that Christ did not bring in “everlasting righteousness” because this world is still dominated by sin.  But note how the Bible speaks of the everlasting consequences of the cross as a current reality:

Hebrews 9:12 – “Eternal redemption” already exist.
Rom. 5:10, 11; Col. 1:20 – We are already reconciled to God by the death of His Son.
2Co 5:19 – He already does not count our trespasses against us (See also; Col 1:22).
Rom 5:18 – Justification of life to all men is already obtained.
John 3:17 – The world is already saved.
Col. 1:19-20 – God already reconciled all things to Himself, and already made peace through the blood of His cross.

These two goals were not conditional and were fulfilled through His death.

5. To seal up vision and prophecy

“Nabi” is actually is the word for prophet, not for prophecy.  Hatam (“seal up”) can have different meanings.

To hide – “Seal up” may mean to hide something, for instance “conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time” (Daniel 12:4).  But to conceal vision and prophet seems hardly appropriate as a goal for the 490 years.

To end – “Seal up” can also mean to make an end of something.  This goal could therefore be that there would be no further vision and prophet for Israel.  The end of the 490 years was also the end of Israel’s special status as people of God.  However, these goals were to be fulfilled through Israel, during the 490 years; not at the end of that period.  One consequence of their failure may have been to bring an end to vision and prophecy for Israel, but it does not make sense to say it was a goal set for Israel, to be fulfilled during the 490 years.

To validate – A third possible meaning of hatam is to validate something, and since the other possible meanings do not fit, this is proposed as the intended meaning.  It is proposed that it means that the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah in general were to be validated or authenticated by Cross, for instance:

Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers” (Rom 15:8).

6. To anoint the most holy place

Most Holy PlaceThe word “place” is added by the translators, but accepted here.  The phrase translated “most holy” (qodes qodasim) occurs more than 40 times in the Old Testament, and in every instance it refers to the sanctuary, with the possible exception of 1 Chronicles 23:13.  The most holy place is the central chamber of the tabernacle, where God is present.  To anoint the most holy place means to inaugurate it (Heb. 9:18-23).

But which temple is intended?  If it referred to the temple that was rebuilt after the exile, the anointing should have been listed prior to the third goal of “atonement”.  Furthermore, since the last seven years are the core and focus of the prophecy, all six goals should be fulfilled by the events of those seven years.

Temple in heaven

The letter to the Hebrews is significantly different from other letters in the New Testament.  None of the other letters mention a temple in heaven, or Jesus as our high priest in that temple, but this is the main message of the letter to the Hebrews:

This is the “true tabernacle” (8:2), not made with hands (Heb. 9:24; cf. 8:1-2).  The earthly tabernacle was a copy of this true tabernacle (Heb. 8:5; 9:24).

Similar to the words in Daniel 9:24, the temple in heaven is also called the “holy place” (Heb. 9:24; 10:19).

The first covenant was inaugurated by sprinkling the tabernacle with the blood (Heb. 9:21) of the calves and the goats (Heb. 9:19).  But Hebrews tells us that the “heavens”—therefore the sanctuary in heaven—were “cleansed”, but with “better sacrifices” (Heb. 9:23), namely “through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).

In other words, in Hebrews, Jesus entered the holy place after He obtained eternal redemption at the cross (Heb. 9:12).  We find the same sequence in Daniel 9:24—the goal of anointing of the most holy is mentioned after the goal “to make atonement for iniquity”.

Revelation

It is not proposed that there is a literal temple in heaven.  The point of Hebrews is rather that the earthly temple and its ceremonies were images of the real events in heaven.  The New Testament often quotes Psalm 110:1 to say that Jesus sat down at His Father’s right hand at His ascension.  This event is visually presented by Revelation 5 and 12.  See Introduction to the Seven Seals.  Revelation 12 describes Jesus’ ascension to His Father’s throne (12:5).  Then a “war in heaven” ensued (v7).  The outcome was that “the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb” (v10-11).  “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath”.

In other words, the death of Christ enabled God to throw Satan and his angels out of heaven.  It is proposed that this is the meaning of the cleansing of the “heavens” with Christ’s blood (Heb. 9:23, 12).  It is also proposed that this is what is meant by the goal in Daniel 9, “to anoint the most holy place”.

Conclusion

It is therefore proposed that the last four goals were fulfilled through Jesus Christ on behalf of Israel.  This Hebrew man atoned for the sin of the whole world.  Through Israel, and particularly through this Hebrew Man Jesus that became the Lamb of God, God reconciled the world to Himself (Rom. 5:10, 11; 2Co 5:19; Col 1:19-20).

Book of Revelation

The vast majority of the people on earth do not believe in the supernatural, and since the Bible is a book about the supernatural, it is rejected.  Inside the Church one major school of thought shares this view, and believes that Daniel does not predict anything, but that it reflects the events of Antiochus, more than 100 years before Christ.  The Critical Interpretation of the 490 years promised by Daniel 9 is discussed in a separate article.

Dispensationalism is another major system of belief within the Church, and puts a vast gap of 2000 years between the first 69 sevens described in verses 25-26 and the last seven described in verse 27.  The book of Revelation has been built on the prophecies of Daniel.  An incorrect interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies inevitably distorts Revelation’s prophecies.  The typical Dispensational interpretation puts everything in the last 19 chapters of Revelation in the final seven years of Daniel 9, which are interpreted as the final seven years before the return of Christ.  Since this article has shown that those seven years do not describe end time events, but the Messiah-events 2000 years ago, the whole Dispensational interpretation of Revelation and of eschatology collapses.

The historical view of Daniel 9, as defended in this article, which interprets the last seven years as fulfilled in the time of Christ, was once held by the majority in the Church.  But today it is nearly non-existent.  But Daniel was promised:

… seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase”. (12:4)

Summary

Daniel 9:24 goals Fulfilled in Jesus ChristDispensationalism objects to the traditional Protestant interpretation of Daniel 9 by claiming that Christ’s first advent did not fulfill the Daniel 9:24 goals set for the seventy weeks (9:24).  This is true, but remember, Israel failed.  There is something which God must do through His people to end the sinful state of this world, and it was His intention to do it through Israel 2000 years ago, but Israel failed.

RevelationThe book of Revelation is built on the foundation of the prophecies of Daniel.  An incorrect interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies inevitably distorts Revelation’s prophecies. Dispensationalism puts the last 19 chapters of Revelation in the final seven years of Daniel 9, which are interpreted as the final seven years before the return of Christ.  But this article has shown that those seven years describe the Messiah-events 2000 years ago.

NEXTHistorical Messianic Interpretation
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TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles
TO: General Table of Contents

Who confirms the covenant and put an end to sacrifice in Daniel 9:27; the Messiah or the prince?

It is either the Messiah that is killed or the prince who destroys Jerusalem.  The Poetic Pattern and the messianic nature of the prophecy indicates that it is the Messiah.  He is also the dominant figure in the previous verse, and as argued in the previous article, it is God’s covenant with Israel.  It cannot be the prince, for he is a supernatural being.

Verse 26 refers to two people: the Messiah that is “cut off” and “the prince that shall come”.  Verse 27 continues with a “he”:

“… he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease”

This article identifies of the “he” in verse 27.  Dispensationalism argues that “he” refers to the prince whose people destroyed the city in AD 70, and that this prince will reign during the last seven years before the return of Christ.

Poetic Pattern

Summary: The Poetic Pattern of the prophecy indicates that “he” in verse 27, who confirm the covenant for seven years, is the same as the Messiah who is cut off in verse 26.

Parallelism

parallelismThe prophecy in Daniel 9 uses much parallelism, where two related words or phrases are used together to emphasize a point, for instance:

Insight with understanding (v22);
Give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision (v23);
Your people and your holy city (v24);
To finish the transgression, to make an end of sin (v24);
Know and discern (v25);
Restore and rebuild (v25);
Seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (v26);
The city and the sanctuary (v26); and
Sacrifice and grain offering.

We also find this repetition of thought in two adjacent verses:

I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding” (v22) and
I have come to tell you” (v23)

Two foci

Jesus in JerusalemBut perhaps the most important pattern in the prophecy is the way in which the focus shifts repeatedly back and forth between the two foci; Jerusalem and the Messiah:

25: from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem;
until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26: after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
27: he shall confirm the covenant …; and … cause the sacrifice … to cease … he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation …

Verses 25 and 26 explicitly shift the focus four times between Jerusalem and the Messiah.  The implication is that verse 27 continues this pattern.  Since verse 26 ends with a reference to Jerusalem, the first part of verse 27, describing the “he” who confirms the covenant for seven years, but “cause the sacrifice … to cease” in the middle of that week, should be the Messiah.

Similarly, the destruction in the last part of verse 27 should refer to Jerusalem.  Also see Daniel 9: Chronological sequence for a further discussion.

Messiah is the Dominant Figure

Summary: The dominant figure in verse 26 and in the entire prophecy is the “Messiah”.  He is therefore the appropriate antecedent for “he” in verse 27.

The prince whose people destroy the city is the last person mentioned in verse 26.  Dispensationalism therefore proposes that the “he” in verse 27 refers to this prince.

However, the “prince that shall come” is not the subject of that clause in verse 26.  It reads “people of the prince”, not “the prince of the people”.   The “prince” in verse 26 is a subordinate figure.  The dominant figure in the entire prophecy and in verse 26 is the “Messiah“.  The Messiah should therefore be preferred as the antecedent for the “he” in verse 27.

Supernatural Being

Summary: The prince in 9:26 is a supernatural being, representing the Roman nation, while the “he” of verse 27 is a human being, and therefore cannot refer to a supernatural being.  The proper antecedent for “he” is therefore the Messiah.

The prince in verse 26 is described as “the prince who is to come”.  A few verses later we read of a prince of Greece who also is “to come”:

Michael the archangel“I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; … the prince of Greece is about to come.  … Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.” (10:20, 21; see also 12:1)

Since this is a supernatural being that is speaking here (10:16, 18), the princes against whom he fights, and the prince Michael who stands with him, are also supernatural beings.  The NASB, quoted above, calls them “forces”. They are not human beings.  Each of the princes (of Persia, of Greece and “Michael your prince”) represent a nation.  Michael is the prince of the nation of Israel (12:1).

Since both the “prince of Greece” and the prince of Rome are “to come” (10:20; 9:26), it is implied that the prince of Rome in 9:26 is also a supernatural being.  The “he” in verse 27, who is a human being, therefore cannot refer back to the prince in verse 26.

Messianic Prophecy

Summary: According to Daniel 9 this world’s sin problem would be solved by the killing of the messiah, while an end will be made to the sacrificial system.  In the light of the New Testament these refer to Jesus, and the “he”, who makes an end to the sacrificial system, is the Messiah.

Daniel 9:27 indicates:

… in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering

antichrist last seven years

In Dispensationalism this is the work of the Antichrist during the seven years prior to the return of Christ.  He will destroy the sanctuary and its services.

In Dispensationalism the first 7+62 weeks (483 years) came to an end the Sunday prior to the Cross, while the 70th week is still in our future.  The Cross therefore does not fall within the 490 years and none of the goals set for the 490 years, as listed in verse 24, have been fulfilled through the Cross, but will only be fulfilled at the end of the future 70th week.

Context

However, this “put a stop to sacrifice” must be understood within its context:

make atonement for iniquityVerse 24 lists six goals to be attained through Daniel’s people during the 490 years, including “to make atonement for iniquity” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”.

The goals must be fulfilled through seven events listed in 9:25-26, including the appearance (v25) and the killing of the Messiah (v26).

Verse 27, saying that a stop will be put to sacrifices in the middle of the final seven years, is the core and purpose of the 490 years.

The prophecy of Daniel 9 therefore implies that this world’s sin problem would be solved (9:24) through the appearance (v25) and killing of the messiah (v26), while “sacrifice and grain offering” will be stopped (9:27).

Fulfilled in Jesus

In the light of New Testament, this describes Jesus Christ:

He was “Jesus the Messiah” (Matt 1:1, cf. 1:16, 17; 2:4; John 1:41, 4:25).

He was killed.

He solved the sin problem of the world.  Through His death, He fulfilled the goals in verse 24 “to make atonement for iniquity” (John 1:29; Matt. 26:28; Hebr. 7:27, 9:26-28; Hebr. 9:12; 10:10, 12, 14) and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Heb. 9:12; Rom. 5:10, 11; Col. 1:20; 2Co 5:19; Col 1:22; Rom 5:18; John 3:17; Col 1:19-20).

His death caused sacrifice to cease.  Christ’s death did not cause the Jewish sacrifices to cease immediately.  The Jewish sacrifices continued until the destruction of Jerusalem forty years later.  But these sacrifices pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of Lamb of God.  When Jesus—the Lamb of God—died, He fulfilled the significance of those sacrifices.  The Jewish sacrifices were consequently terminated at the death of Christ in the sense of its loss of meaning.

The letter to the Hebrews states this explicitly.  When Jesus ascended to heaven and became High Priest (Heb. 6:20), the law changed (Heb. 7:12), including the sacrificial system (Heb. 7:19; 8:4; 9:22).  Jesus set “aside the first [sacrifices and offerings] to establish the second” (Heb. 10:9).  (See also Heb. 8:13 and Eph. 2:15.)  In this way His death caused “sacrifice and the oblation (NASB: grain offering) to cease” (Daniel 9:27).

Conclusion

The Daniel 9 prophecy is therefore thoroughly messianic in nature.  In this context the statement that “he will put a stop to sacrifice” in verse 27 must be understood as referring to the sacrifice at the Cross which made an end to all other sacrifices.  The “he” therefore refers to the Messiah.  To allocate verse 27 to an end time antichrist does injustice to the overall gist of the prophecy.

pierced through for our transgressionsThe prophecy, received 500 years before the cross, discloses a most profound aspect of the Messiah’s mission, namely that His death would be the true sacrifice for sin.  As also disclosed by Isaiah 53, He was “pierced through for our transgressions”.  This is not only another proof of the existence of the supernatural, but also it tells us much about the nature of the universe.  God knows where we are.  He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins.  We cannot understand why and how, for His thoughts are as high above our thoughts as the stars are above the earth, but it is wonderful to understand that the Source of all power and love feels this way about us; undeserving sinners.

Repetition

But then questions may arise:

If the termination of the sacrifices and the killing of the messiah is the same event, why is the one described as “after the 62 sevens”, (9:26) and the other as in the “midst of” the last seven (9:27)?

And why is the destruction of Jerusalem mentioned between the killing of the Messiah and the stop that is made to sacrifices?

The answer to this question is found in the repetition (parallelism) of the prophecy, as described above in the section dealing with the poetic structure.  Since the prophecy so often repeats concepts, the repetition of the events of verse 26 by verse 27 is almost to be expected.  The prophecy consists of three divisions; each providing information relative to a different period of time:

490 yearsVerse 24 announces the 490 years and sets the goals for that period.
483 years – Verses 25 and 26 describe events relative to the first 483 years, including the killing of the Messiah and the consequential destruction of the city after the end of the 483 years.
Final 7 years – Verse 27 describes the same events, but relative to the final seven years.

Summary

The previous verse identifies two options; the Messiah that is “cut off” and “the prince that shall come”.  The previous article found that it is God’s covenant.  It must therefore be the Messiah.  In this article:

Poetic Pattern – The prophecy has a poetic pattern which shifts repeatedly back and forth between Jerusalem and the Messiah.  In this pattern the “he” is the Messiah.

Dominant Figure – The dominant figure in verse 26 and in the entire prophecy is the “Messiah”.  He is therefore the appropriate antecedent for “he” in verse 27.

Supernatural Being – Comparison with the princes in Daniel 10 shows that the prince in 9:26 is a supernatural being, representing the Roman nation, while the “he” of verse 27 is a human being, and therefore cannot refer to a supernatural being.

Messianic Prophecy – The purpose of the events predicted by the prophecy is to solve this world’s sin problem (v24) through the killing of the messiah (v26), while an end will be made to the sacrificial system (v27).  This is a prediction of Christ’s mission.  Since the Lamb of God caused sacrifices to cease, the “he”, who makes an end to the sacrificial system, is the Messiah.

NEXT:  Is the last week the last seven years before Christ returns?  Dispensationalism claims it is.  However, the desolations in the last part of verse 27 is the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, also described by verse 26.  This is indicated by the Poetic Pattern and the repetition of words.  The last week, described earlier in verse 27, must therefore be prior to AD 70.

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TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles

Dispensationalism and the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9; An introduction

DispensationalismDaniel 9 allows Jerusalem a further 70 cycles of 7 years each—490 years—to achieve 6 goals.  The prophecy therefore promises that Jerusalem would be restored to Israel to serve as their executive capital.  The city is rebuilt constructed to receive the Messiah, but it is again destroyed because it did not receive the Messiah.  In Dispensationalism the last seven years are the seven last years before the Return of Christ, when the antichrist rule.  In the traditional interpretations the last seven years revolves around the Cross. 

Articles

This is the first article in a series on the Dispensational Interpretation of Daniel 9:

(1) Introduction to Dispensationalism and Daniel 9: Overview of the text of Daniel 9 and of the Dispensational interpretation
(2) Time indications in Daniel 9: When was the decree issued, when did the Messiah appear and when did God suspend His covenant with the Jews?
(3) Whose covenant is confirmed in Daniel 9:27; God’s covenant with Israel or the devil’s?
(4) Who confirms the covenant for seven years; the Messiah or the prince?
(5) Is the last week the last seven years before Christ returns?
(6) Dispensationalism Daniel 9 and the Antichrist: Other inconsistencies compared to the text
(7) When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?

Origin

John Nelson DarbyEvangelical Christians today extensively hold to the Dispensationalism view on eschatology, in spite of its relatively recent origin.  Dispensationalism is often linked with the teachings on prophecy by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)—from the 1830s on—and the Plymouth Brethren of Ireland.  Scofield (1843-1921) of the United States was influenced by Darby and presented the view of seven dispensations from Eden to the new creation in the notes of the widely used Scofield Reference Bible.

Overview of the Prophecy

Daniel the prophetsDaniel received the Daniel 9 prophecy in the year 538 BC.  At that time the Jewish nation was in Babylon in captivity, and Jerusalem and the temple were in ruins.  Daniel prayed for Jerusalem (9:16), the sanctuary (9:17) and for his people (9:19).  While still praying, the angel Gabriel appeared to him (9:21) and gave him the extremely compact and powerful prophecy contained in verses 24 to 27:

Verse 24

The prophecy commences with the announcement that 70 weeks have been decreed for Israel and for its capital city, Jerusalem, to achieve 6 goals:

Seventy WeeksSeventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to
   finish the transgression, and
   make an end of sins, and   
   make reconciliation for iniquity, and
   bring in everlasting righteousness, and
   seal up the vision and prophecy, and to 
   anoint the most Holy. (KJV)

Israel’s calendar followed a seven-year cycle in which every seventh year was a Sabbath for the land (Lev. 25).  The 70 weeks are 70 of those seven-year cycles, and consequently equal to 490 years.

The remaining three verses describe the events through which the six goals above were to be achieved.

Verse 25

This verse indicates when the 490 years start:

So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to Rebuild Jerusalem Jerusalem

To identify this decree, it is important to distinguish between “restore” and “rebuild”.  “Restore” in the original text means to give the city back to its previous owner.  “Restore” does not include the idea of rebuilding.  Jerusalem was the judicial and executive capital of the Israeli people.  To restore Jerusalem means that it will be returned to the Jews to serve as their capital from which they would rule their whole nation, according to their own laws as a theocentric society.

Verse 25 continues to say that the Messiah Prince would appear 69 sevens (483 years) after that decree:

from the issuing of a decree … until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (NASB).

Verse 25 concludes by adding that the rebuilding of Jerusalem would be “in troublous times”.

Verse 26

This verse shifts the focus back to the Messiah.  While verse 25 indicated that the Messiah will appear at the end of the first 483 years, verse 26 states that he would be cut off “after” the 69 sevens.

Verse 26 then again diverts the focus to Jerusalem, stating that it will be destroyed again.  Since 70 weeks have been decreed for Jerusalem, it must be this destroyed after the end of the 70 weeks.

The CrossIt is important to note how the prophecy repeatedly jumps back and forth between Jerusalem and the Messiah.  Verses 25 and 26 switch four time from the one to the other.  As discussed in the article Poetry and Chiasm in Daniel 9, the prophecy of Daniel 9 is a form of poetic parallelism in which Jerusalem and the Messiah are the two foci.  These two foci stand in cause-effect relationships; the city is rebuilt to receive the Messiah, but it is again destroyed because it did not receive the Messiah.

Verse 27

The first part of verse 27 focuses on the final seven years:

And he shall with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (9:27 KJV)

The only event during the first 483 years is “restore and rebuild Jerusalem”.  The death of the Messiah, the “confirm the covenant” and the “cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (9:27) all happen during the final seven years.  These final seven years therefore are the core and the real purpose of the 490 years.  The first 483 years merely serve to locate the last seven years in time.

The last part of verse 27 describes unspecified destruction.

Conclusion

Daniel 9 is very different from the other prophecies in Daniel.  Daniel 9 is literal and only deals with Israel and the 490 years.  The other prophecies are symbolic and deal with all nations and with all time.

Dispensationalism: interpretation in brief

In Dispensationalism:

The 490 years start with the second decree of Artaxerxes I (Neh. 1-2), who gave Nehemiah permission to repair Jerusalem.

The first 483 years end with Jesus’ triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

The 490 years are not viewed as continuous, but a huge “paren­thesis” or “gap” is inserted between the first 483 years and the final seven years.  The entire “church age” is a gap during which the prophetic clock has stopped ticking.

The seven years are the final seven years before the Return of Christ, commencing with the rapture of the church.  The rapture includes the resurrection of dead saints and the translation of living saints.  They will secretly be removed from the earth.

Confirm the covenantDuring the 70th week the antichrist will arise; a revived Roman empire whose prince will oppress the Jews and bring upon the world a 3½ year tribulation during the latter half of the seven years.

Traditional Interpretation

There is not much difference between Dispensationalism and the traditional Protestant interpretations of the first 483 years.  Both start the 490 years with a decree of Artaxerxes and both end the first 483 years in the time of Christ.  The major difference is with respect to the final seven years. In the traditional interpretation:

From a decree to restore – The 490 years began with Artaxerxes’ first decree in 458/7 BC.

Baptism of Jesus ChristUntil Messiah the Prince – 483 literal years later the Messiah appeared at His baptism in AD 26/27.  This was also the beginning of the final seven years.

Sacrifice cease – 3½ years later, in the midst of the final seven years, Jesus was killed, causing “the sacrifice and the oblation to cease”.  These sacrifices pointing forward to His death and lost their purpose and meaning when He died.

Last seven yearsConfirmed – Jesus Christ confirmed God’s covenant with Israel during the final seven years:

First through His personal preaching for 3½ years before His death;

Then, for a further 3½ years after His death, by sending His disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit to Israel only.  In those 3½ years the church consisted only of Jews and it still adhered to all Old Testament laws.  It was a sect of Judaism.  See Early Church.

The End – God’s 490-year covenant with Israel came to an end 3½ years after His death, when Israel rejected Him by persecuting His Spirit-filled disciples.  After this the gospel was suddenly redirected from Jews only to all people.

Jerusalem destroyed – Since 490 years were decreed for Jerusalem (v24), Jerusalem was not destroyed during those 490 years, but only in 70 AD.

Importance of Daniel 9 in Dispensationalism

The importance of the Seventy Weeks prophecy for Dispensationalism can hardly be exaggerated.  Dispensationalism often appeals to Daniel 9 as the clear proof that the entire Church Age is a parenthesis in the prophetic program which is found between verses 26 and 27 of Daniel 9.  The other schools of Christian thought on eschatology are able to survive even when their views of Daniel 9 are proven false, but Dispensationalism eschatology stands or fall on its interpretation of Daniel 9.

Summary

Daniel 9 goalsDaniel 9 sets 6 goals for Israel.

For this purpose it grants Jerusalem a 70 weeks.  Israel’s calendar was divided into groups of seven-years, where every seventh year was a Sabbath.  The 70 weeks are 70 of those seven-year cycles, and consequently equal to 490 years.

Jerusalem was to be restored.  “Restore” does not mean rebuilding.  In the original text to restore means that Jerusalem will be returned to the Jews to serve as their capital to rule the whole nation.

The prophecy repeatedly jumps back and forth between Jerusalem and the Messiah.  The prophecy of Daniel 9 is poetic parallelism in which Jerusalem and the Messiah are the two foci.  The city is restored and rebuilt to receive the Messiah, but it is again destroyed because it did not receive the Messiah.

The final seven years are the core and the real purpose of the 490 years.  The first 483 years merely serve to locate the last seven years in time.

Daniel 9 is very different from the other prophecies in Daniel.  Daniel 9 is literal and only deals with Israel and the 490 years.  The other prophecies are symbolic and deal with all nations and with all time.

In Dispensationalism the first 483 years end with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but the last week is the final seven years before the Return of Christ, when the antichrist will bring upon the world a 3½ year tribulation.

There is not much difference between Dispensationalism and the traditional Protestant interpretations of the first 483 years.  Both start the 490 years with a decree of Artaxerxes and both end the first 483 years in the time of Christ.  The major difference is with respect to the final seven years. In the traditional interpretation the final seven years include the 3½ years that Jesus preached in person and the 3½ years after His death, when He preached through His Holy Spirit to Israel only.

Dispensationalism is highly dependent on its interpretation of Daniel 9.  If the dispensational interpretation is Daniel is proven false, the entire Dispensational scheme collapses.

NEXT:   Time indications in Daniel 9: When was the decree issued?  Are these 490 years of 360 days each?  When did the Messiah appear and when did God suspend His covenant with the Jews?  The last seven years, which are the core of the prophecy, is identified by these time indications.

TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles

Who is the he who will confirm the covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week put a stop to sacrifice?

Who will confirm the covenant?  The possible antecedents are the Messiah and the prince.  Consider the central role of the covenant, the Poetic Pattern and the repetition in Daniel 9.  Who is the Dominant Figure in Daniel 9?  What is a prince of a nation in Daniel?  Did the Messiah Jesus put an end to sacrifices?

He

Verses 26 and 27 read:

Daniel 9:2726 … after 62 weeks shall Messiah be cut off … and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city … 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease

The purpose of this article is to identify of the “he” in verse 27.  Dispensationalism assumes that the events in verses 25 to 27 are in chronological order.  Consequently the final seven years mentioned in verse 27 are placed in time after the destruction of Jerusalem in verse 26.  Since this destruction is dated to 70 AD, the firm covenant of the 70th week (v 27) follows after AD 70.

This would necessitate a gap between the first 483 years and the final seven years.
This would also mean that “he”, who confirms the covenant for that final week, cannot be Jesus Christ, because Jesus was killed at least 40 years earlier.

Since “he” is not the Messiah, Dispensationalism argues that “he” refers to the prince whose people destroyed the city in AD 70 (v26).  It should then logically follow that “he” was the Roman Caesar in 70 AD, and that the last week be identified as the time around 70 AD.  But as already stated, Dispensationalism proposes that this prince will reign during the last seven years before the return of Christ.

The text will now be analyzed to evaluate these arguments:

Covenant

Ark of the CovenantGod’s covenant with Israel is the central theme in the entire Daniel 9.  The covenant in 9:27 must therefore also be God’s covenant, and it must therefore be the Messiah who confirms it.

Dispensationalism interprets the covenant in 9:27 as a covenant with an end time antichrist, but it is proposed here that this is God’s covenant with Israel, as indicated by the following:

God’s covenant with Israel included the following:

The land must have a Sabbath rest every seventh year (Leviticus. 25:1-2).  Israel was to work the land for six years (v3), but not on the seventh (v4).  God made this seven year chronological cycle part of the covenant by using it to count the number of years of exile (Lev. 26:35, 43).  Should Israel become unfaithful (Lev. 26:14-39) God will scatter them among the nations (Lev. 26:33) to allow the land to have its rest (v34, 43).  The period of exile would be equal to the number of years during which the land did not have its rest (v35, 43).  But if Israel confesses their sin (v40), God would renew His covenant with them (v42), that He might be their God (v45).

Daniel 9 follows this covenant pattern:

(1) The prophecy of Daniel 9 was received at the end of Israel’s exile of 70 years (Dan 9:2), which was the covenant penalty for unfaithfulness: Israel was scattered to allow the land to have its rest (2Ch 36:21; Dan 9:11-13; cf. Lev. 25:2).

(2) In his prayer (9:4-19) Daniel confessed the justice of the sentence, the Yahweh’s righteousness (9:7) and Israel’s guilt (9:5-11).  In this way Daniel fulfilled the condition for covenant renewal after exile (Leviticus 26:40-41) on behalf of Israel; Daniel prayed for the renewal of Israel’s covenant privileges.

(3) The announcement “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city” (9:24) renewed God’s covenant with Israel in terms of Leviticus 26:42, 45, but limited to 490 years.

God’s covenant with Israel is therefore the central theme in the entire Daniel 9.  Dispensationalism interprets the covenant in 9:27 as a covenant with an end time antichrist, but the covenant theme implies it is God’s covenant with Israel.  The promised 490 years is an extension of God’s covenant with Israel.  The “one week” (9:27) is the final seven years of that time-limited renewed covenant.  It must therefore be the Messiah who confirm the covenant.  Also see Daniel 9: The Covenant is the theme for a further discussion.

Confirm the Covenant

The word “confirm” (9:27) in the phrase “confirm the covenant means that this covenant existed prior to the 70th week.  Then it can only be God covenant with Israel, and it must be the Messiah who will confirm the covenant.

The verb that is translated as “make” in the NASB of 9:27 is translated as “confirm” in the KJV; “he will confirm the covenant with the many for one week”.  The word in the original text means to “confirm”, as translated by the KJV.  It is an existing covenant that is confirmed.  It is not a verb for the initial making of a new covenant as in the dispensational interpretation where a future antichrist will enter into some pact at the beginning of the last seven years.

The many

The many”, with whom the covenant in 9:27 is made, most often refer to God’s people.  For instance, “the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.” (Isa 53:11; see also Dan 11:33, 39; 12:3; Matt. 26:28; Hebr. 9:26-28; Rom 5:15, 19; 1Co 10:33)  If the covenant is confirmed with God’s people, it cannot be confirmed by an antichrist.  It must be confirmed by the Messiah.

Poetic Pattern

The parallelism of the Poetic Pattern of the entire prophecy indicates that “he” in verse 27, who confirm the covenant for seven years, is the same as the Messiah that is cut off in verse 26.

The prophecy uses much parallelism, where two related words or phrases are used together to emphasize a point, for instance:

Insight with understanding (v22);
Give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision (v23);
Your people and your holy city (v24);
To finish the transgression, to make an end of sin (v24);
Know and discern (v25);
Restore and rebuild (v25);
Seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (v26);
The city and the sanctuary (v26); and
Sacrifice and grain offering.

This repetition of thought is also found in two adjacent verses:

I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding” (v22) and
I have come to tell you” (v23)

Perhaps the most important pattern in the prophecy is the way in which the focus shifts repeatedly back and forth between the two foci: Jerusalem and the Messiah:

25: from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem;
until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26: after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,
and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
27: he shall confirm the covenant …; and … cause the sacrifice … to cease
… he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation …

Verses 25 and 26 explicitly shift the focus four times between Jerusalem and the Messiah.  The implication is that verse 27 continues this pattern.  Since verse 26 ends with a reference to Jerusalem, the first part of verse 27, which describes the “he” who confirms the covenant for seven years, must be the Messiah.  Similarly, the destruction in the last part of verse 27 should refer to Jerusalem.  Also see Daniel 9: Chronological sequence for a further discussion.

Chiasm

The events in the Daniel 9 prophecy form a chiasm (see Daniel 9: Chronological sequence).  A chiasm is a literary structure in which the last item corresponds to the first, and the second to last item corresponds to the second, etc.  In the Daniel 9 chiasm the “he” of 9:27 corresponds to the Messiah.

Dominant Figure

The dominant figure in the entire prophecy and in verse 26 is the “Messiah”.  He is therefore the appropriate antecedent for “he” in verse 27.

Dispensationalism proposes that the “he” in verse 27 refers to the prince whose people destroy the city in verse 26 because this prince is the last person mentioned in verse 26.  However, the “prince that shall come” is not the subject of that clause in verse 26.  It reads “people of the prince”, not “the prince of the people”.   The “prince” in verse 26 is a subordinate figure.  The dominant figure in the entire prophecy and in verse 26 is the “Messiah“.  Based on this, the Messiah should be preferred as the antecedent of the “he” in verse 27.

Supernatural Being

The prince in 9:26 is a supernatural being, representing the Roman nation, while the “he” of verse 27 is a human being, and therefore cannot refer to a supernatural being.  Therefore the proper antecedent for “he” is the Messiah.

The prince in verse 26 is described as “the prince who is to come”.  In Daniel chapter 10 we read of a prince of Greece that is to come:

“I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; … the prince of Greece is about to come.  … Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.” (10:20, 21; see also 12:1)

Since it is a supernatural being that is speaking here (10:16, 18), the three princes whom he mentions are also supernatural beings.  The NASB, quoted above, interprets them also as “forces”. They are not human beings.  Each of the princes (of Persia, of Greece and “Michael your prince”) represent a nation.  Michael can be called the prince of Israel (12:1).

This implies that the prince of 9:26 is also a supernatural being that represents a nation; in this case the Roman nation.  The “he” in verse 27, who is a human being, therefore cannot refer back to the prince in verse 26.

End Sacrifice

Lamb of GodAccording to Daniel 9 this world’s sin problem would be solved by the killing of the messiah (v26), while an end will be made to the sacrificial system (v27).  In the light of the New Testament these refer to Jesus.  The “he”, who makes an end to the sacrificial system, therefore is the Messiah.

Daniel 9:27 indicates:

… in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering

To understand what the termination of sacrifices means requires an understanding of how it relates to the other aspects of the prophecy:

Verse 24 lists six goals to be attained through Daniel’s people during the 490 years, including “to make atonement for iniquity” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”.

The major events of verses 25 and 26 are the appearance (v25) and the killing of the Messiah (v26).

Verse 27 focuses on the final seven years, which are the climax of the 490 years, and says that an end will be put to sacrifices in the middle of those seven years.

The prophecy of Daniel 9 implies that this world’s sin problem would be solved (9:24) through the appearance (v25) and killing of the messiah (v26), while “sacrifice and grain offering” will be stopped (9:27).  In the light of New Testament, this is a description of Jesus Christ:

He was “Jesus the Messiah” (Matt 1:1, cf. 1:16, 17; 2:4; John 1:41, 4:25).

He was killed.

He solved the sin problem of the world.  Through His death, He fulfilled the goals in verse 24 “to make atonement for iniquity” (John 1:29; Matt. 26:28; Hebr. 7:27, 9:26-28; Hebr. 9:12; 10:10, 12, 14) and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Heb. 9:12; Rom. 5:10, 11; Col. 1:20; 2Co 5:19; Col 1:22; Rom 5:18; John 3:17; Col 1:19-20).

His death also caused sacrifice to cease.  Jewish sacrifices continued until the destruction of Jerusalem forty years after Christ’s death, but these sacrifices pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of Lamb of God.  When Jesus—the Lamb of God—died, He fulfilled the significance of those sacrifices.  The Jewish sacrifices were consequently terminated at the death of Christ in the sense of its loss of meaning.  When Jesus ascended to heaven and became High Priest (Hebr. 6:20), the law changed (Hebr. 7:12), including the sacrificial system (Hebr. 7:19; 8:4; 9:22).  Jesus set “aside the first [sacrifices and offerings] to establish the second” (Hebr. 10:9).  (See also Hebr. 8:13; Eph. 2:15.)  In this way His death caused “sacrifice and the oblation (NASB: grain offering) to cease” (9:27).

Daniel 9 is therefore thoroughly a messianic prophecy and the termination of sacrifices in verse 27 refers to the sacrifice that ended all other sacrifices.  The “he” therefore refers to the Messiah.

Above seven reasons were given why “he” in 9:27 is the Messiah:

(1) God’s covenant is the central theme of the entire Daniel 9.
(2) He will confirm an existing covenant.
(3) The many, with whom the covenant is confirmed, are God’s people.
(4) The Poetic Pattern indicates that he is the Messiah.
(5) The Messiah is the dominant figure in the previous verse.
(6) The prince in the previous verse is a supernatural being.
(7) Daniel 9 is thoroughly messianic.

Below reasons are provided why “he” is not an end-time Roman tyrant.

Desolation Repeated

The desolation in verse 27 is a repeat of the destruction of Jerusalem in verse 26.  The covenant in verse 27 is therefore confirmed prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  It cannot be an end-time covenant.

The last past of verse 27 describes desolation and a complete destruction:

NASB: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

KJV:and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate

Dispensationalism interprets this complex statement as the physical destruction of the sanctuary and its services by an antichrist in the middle of the last seven years.  However, this statement repeats the main words and concepts from the last part of verse 26, which describes the destruction of Jerusalem.   The last part of verse 26 reads as follows:

and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (9:26; KJV)

(See Desolation in 27b in the complete article.)  This implies that 27b also describes the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

In the parallelism of the prophecy, the destruction is mentioned twice, with the description of the final seven years in-between.  Those final seven years must therefore be limited to the time prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  It cannot describe an end time antichrist.

Since the end that is made of sacrifices in 27a further explains the killing of the Messiah in 26a, the entire verse 27 therefore repeats verse 26 (NASB):

A: Messiah B: Jerusalem
26 Messiah cut off after the sixty-two weeks people … will destroy the city
27 he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week … in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction

To understand this repetition requires a high level view of the prophecy.  It consists of three divisions; each provides information from the perspective of a different period of time:

(24) Verse 24 sets the goals for that entire period of 490 years.

(25-26) Verses 25 and 26 describe events, including the killing of the Messiah and, consequently, the destruction of the city after the end of the 483 years, from the perspective of the first 483 years.

(27) Verse 27 describes these same events, but from the perspective of the final seven years.

Roman Prince

How can the Roman Empire be revived 1500 years after it ceased to exist?

The people that destroyed the city (9:26) in AD 70 were the Romans.  Their “prince” must therefore be the prince of the Roman Empire.  In Dispensationalism the “he” in verse 27 is this Roman Prince that will rule in the final years before the return of Christ.  This means that the Roman Empire must exist during those final years.  How can the Roman Empire be revived 1500 years after it ceased to exist?  And how can one claim that the Roman Empire of ancient history was the people of an end time antichrist if the people and their prince live 2000 years apart?

Seventy weeks decreed

Since the 490 years have been determined for the city of Daniel’s people, the sanctuary and its services will not be destroyed during the 490 years, but only after the end of the 490 years.  The last seven of the 490 years therefore cannot be the end of the age.

Summary

“He” in 9:27 is the Messiah because:

God’s covenant with Israel is the central theme in the entire Daniel 9.  The covenant in 9:27 must therefore also be God’s covenant, and it must therefore be the Messiah who confirm the covenant.

The word “confirm” (9:27) means that this covenant existed prior to the 70th week.  Then it can only be God’s covenant with Israel, and it must be the Messiah that confirms it.

The parallelism of the Poetic Pattern of the entire prophecy indicates that “he” in verse 27, who confirm the covenant for seven years, is the same as the Messiah that is cut off in verse 26.

The dominant figure in the entire prophecy and in verse 26 is the “Messiah”.  He is therefore the appropriate antecedent for “he” in verse 27.

The prince in 9:26 is a supernatural being who represents the Roman nation, while the “he” of verse 27 is a human being, and therefore cannot refer to a supernatural being.  Therefore the proper antecedent for “he” is the Messiah.

According to Daniel 9 this world’s sin problem would be solved by the killing of the messiah (v26), and an end will be made to the sacrificial system (v27).  In the light of the New Testament the end is made of the sacrificial system by the Lamb of God.  The “he” therefore is the Messiah.

 “He” in 9:27 cannot be an end-time despot, because:

The desolation in verse 27 is a repeat of the destruction of Jerusalem in verse 26.  The covenant in verse 27 is therefore confirmed prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  It cannot be an end-time covenant.

How can the Roman Empire be revived 1500 years after it ceased to exist?

Seventy WeeksSince the 490 years have been determined for the city of Daniel’s people, the sanctuary and its services will not be destroyed during the 490 years, but only after the end of the 490 years.  The last seven of the 490 years therefore cannot be the end of the age.

Other articles on Daniel 9:

Full article:  70 Weeks decreed for Israel
With which decree does the 490 years begin?
When does the Messiah Appear?
Is this the same crisis as the other prophecies in Daniel?
The Prayer and Prophecy form a unit
Daniel 9: The Covenant theme.
When did the 490 years end?:  Stoning of Stephen
Daniel 9: Summary
Critique of the Dispensational interpretation
The Consistent Symbolical Interpretation
Critical Interpretation of the 490 years promised by Daniel 9