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

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