Historical-Messianic Interpretation of Daniel 9; The 490 years are 70 seven-year cycles, where every seventh was a Sabbath Year.

Sabbath YearsThe Historical-Messianic interpretation is the traditional understanding of Daniel 9.  In this interpretation the 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, which was based on Israel’s Sabbath Year cycle.  Jesus confirmed God’s covenant with Israel during the last seven of the 490 years. 

This interpretation is called Messianic because it understands the Messiah to be the one who confirms the covenant for the seven last years.  It is called historical because the full 490 years is interpreted as past history.

Daniel 9 has been understood in such way ever since the early church.  It is only in the recent centuries that Dispensationalism and Liberal Criticism have become the dominant views.

Below the Daniel 9 prophecy is explained from the Historical-Messianic perspective. The explanation will be phrase by phrase.

For discussions of the other interpretations of Daniel 9, see:

Dispensationalism
Critical Interpretation
Consistent Symbolical Interpretation

24a Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city (9:24)

Gabriel appears to DanielThese were Gabriel’s opening words.

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

By implication, these seventy weeks have decreed by God, for Gabriel brought this message from God (9:22).

Your people and your holy city” refer to Israel and Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the capital and symbol of the Jewish nation.

Covenant in Daniel 9

This concept is fundamental to understanding many things in this prophecy.  It also helps to explain the Seventy Weeks.  It is discussed in The Covenant in Daniel 9, but explained briefly below:

Sabbath Year

In Leviticus 25 God commanded Israel to allow the land to rest every seventh year (v2), similar to the weekly Sabbath day of rest.  Israel had to work the land for six years (v3), but in the seventh year was a Sabbath Year; the land had to rest (v4).  In this way the years on the Jewish calendar were divided into sevens, with each seventh is a Sabbath Year.

Covenant Exile Pattern

Leviticus 26 contains the covenant promises and warnings.  It states:

Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai

(1) Should Israel become unfaithful (Lev. 26:14-39);
(2) It will go in exile.  God will scatter them among the nations (Lev. 26:33).
(3) If Israel in exile (Lev. 26:41, 44) “confess their iniquity” (v40);
(4)Then I will remember My covenant … with Abraham” (v42) “that I might be their God” (v45).  God would renew His covenant with them

The Covenant Exile Pattern is therefore (1) Disobedience – (2) Exile – (3) Confession – (4) Covenant Renewal.

Leviticus 26 furthermore uses the seven-year cycle to count the number of years of exile (Lev. 26:34-35, 43).  Israel would be in exile for every Sabbath Year not observed.  While they are in exile, the land will enjoy its rest.  The Sabbath Year cycle was therefore made part of the covenant threat of exile. 

490 years of disobedience prior to exile

Jeremiah prophesied that Israel would be in exile for 70 years.  On the basis of Leviticus 26 we know that each of Jeremiah’s 70 years of exile was a Sabbath year.  This is confirmed by 2 Chronicles 36:21. Each of the 70 years therefore represent 7 years of disobedience.  Consequently, the 70 years represent the equivalent of Seventy Weeks (490 years) of disobedience, prior to the exile.

Daniel 9 follows this covenant pattern:

(1) This prophecy was received at a time when Jerusalem was in ruins and Israel in exile (9:2, 7).  The exile was the covenant penalty for disobedience: 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 guilt of His people (9:5-11, 15-16), acknowledged the exile as the covenant penalty for disobedience (9:11-13), acknowledged that God had acted fairly (9:7, 14), but also prayed for the promise of covenant renewal after exile (9:4).  He prayed for “Your city and Your people” (9:19, 16-17).  In this way Daniel fulfilled the condition for covenant renewal after exile (Leviticus 26:40-41).  On behalf of Israel, and he prayed for the renewal of Israel’s covenant privileges.

(3) This context means that, when Gabriel brought God’s answer, namely that “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city”, that this is a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel in terms of Leviticus 26:42, 45, for a new cycle of Seventy Weeks.

Implications

The important implications are:

(a) The covenant pattern forms the framework that binds together Daniel’s prayer in the first part of the chapter 9 and the prophecy at the end of it.  God’s covenant with Israel is the central theme in the entire Daniel 9.

(b) The 490 years promised by Daniel 9 are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel.

(c) The covenant that is confirmed during the “one week” (9:27) is the final seven years of God’s time-limited renewed covenant with Israel.

(d) God’s covenant with Israel comes to an end at the end of the Seventy Weeks of years.

(e) Since Daniel 9’s 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, and since the Sabbath year cycle is part of this covenant, every seventh year will be a Sabbath year.  This means that these are 490 literal years, not prophetic years, as in Dispensationalism.

Six goals

make atonement for iniquity
To make atonement for iniquity

Verse 24 lists 6 goals for the 490 years, namely, to:

Finish the transgression, to make an end of sin
Make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness
Seal up vision and prophecy
And to anoint the most holy place

These goals are discussed in When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?  However, the reader is advised to first read the explanation of verses 25 to 27 before reading the analysis of the goals.

NEXT: Daniel 9:25 Decree to Restore

Dispensationalism Daniel 9 and the Antichrist: Inconsistencies compared to the text

Various other differences between the text and the Dispensationalism may be identified, such as:
– That Jerusalem will be rebuilt twice,
– That the Antichrist breaks his own covenant,
– That the sanctuary will be destroyed during the 490 years decreed for it,
– That the last week will end with the return of Christ,
– That the goals in 9:24 have not been fulfilled by the Cross and
– That Jerusalem is awarded a total of 1490 years. 

Rebuild again

The prophecy of Daniel 9 was given while Jerusalem and the temple were in ruins.  The prophecy promises that Jerusalem will be rebuilt (9:25), but it also warns that Jerusalem will be destroyed again (9:26).  This was fulfilled with the rebuilding of Jerusalem a few hundred years before Christ and its destruction in 70 AD.

rebuild the templeBut Dispensationalism requires the sanctuary to be rebuilt a second time in the future, and the sacrificial system to be revived.  However:

The prophecy explicitly promises only one rebuilding of the city and the sanctuary.  There is not the least bit of evidence in the text for a second rebuilding, or that sacrifices will be resumed.  If the temple was to be rebuilt after the destruction of verse 26, the prophecy would have explicitly stated this, given that it is so clear about the rebuilding in verse 25.

Since the sacrificial system has been abolished 2000 years ago, there can never be a valid return to the old covenant and its earthly temple worship.  Christ, the Antitype, has terminated once for all the “shadow” and inaugurated a “better covenant” that offers His righteousness as the everlasting righteousness (see Hebr. 7:22; cf. chap. 10:12; Rom. 3:22, 25).  That is the very meaning of the statement “in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (9:27).

The reinstatement of the sacrifices stems from the assumption that Daniel 9 covers the same ground as the other prophecies of Daniel, but this is not a valid assumption:  Daniel 9 is a literal prophecy, dealing with Israel only, and with the 490 years only.  The other prophecies in Daniel are symbolic and deal with all nations and with all time.

Breaks his covenant

Breaks his covenantIn Dispensationalism the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel after 3½ years, but according to 9:27 the covenant is confirmed for the full seven years.

Destroyed in the middle of the last week

In Dispensationalism the sanctuary will be destroyed in the middle of the last week, when “he will put a stop to sacrifice”.  However, since the full 490 years have been determined for the city of Daniel’s people (9:24), the sanctuary and its services will not be destroyed during the 490 years, but only at or after the end of the 490 years.

Return of Christ

Armies of Heaven
Return of Christ

Dispensationalism maintains that the last seven years end with the return of Christ, but the prophecy in no way indicates the return of Christ.  If the 490 years are to end with Christ’s return, would verse 27 not end with a description of His glorious return, as the other prophecies in Daniel do?  In contrast the Daniel 9 prophecy ends in the accumulation of desolations and chaos.

Goals fulfilled

Daniel 9:24 lists 6 goals to be achieved by the events of the 70 sevens, including:

to make an end of sin
to make atonement for iniquity” and
to bring in everlasting righteousness”.

triumphal entry into JerusalemIn Dispensationalism the 69th week ends a few days before the death of Christ, namely at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, while the 70th week still lies in our future.  Consequently, the 70 weeks do not include the death of Christ, and the goals in 9:24 have not been fulfilled by the Cross.  Dispensationalism proposes that these goals will be fulfilled at the end of the last seven years, with the return of Christ.

But this proposal denies Israel its responsibility and denies the 490 years their purpose.  The goals in 9:24 were set for Israel to achieve, and Israel was given 490 years to accomplish those goals.  In other words, these goals were to be achieved during the 490 years, through Daniel’s people.

Since the final seven years is the core of the 490 years, these goals are particularly achieved by the events of the last seven years, as described by the first part of verse 27:

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

In Dispensationalism this describes the work of an end time Antichrist.  An Antichrist will certainly not fulfill the wonderful goals of verse 24.

Daniel did not pray for a messiah of for the goals in verse 24.  He prayed for Jerusalem.  But the prophecy includes the Messiah and the goals because that was Jerusalem’s purpose.  Jerusalem was to be rebuilt and 490 years were allocated to it to receive the Messiah, and through the Messiah to realize the goals.  The Messiah was the means and the goals were the end.  To remove these goals from Israel and Jerusalem is to remove the reason for Israel’s election.

Millennium

The complex dispensational view with respect to the sacrificial system is as follows:

Stopped by the Babylonian captivity (prior to receiving the prophecy)
Re-introduced when the sanctuary is rebuilt, as predicted by 9:25;
Stopped when the sanctuary is destroyed, as predicted by 9:26;
Re-introduced in the beginning of the last seven years (not explicitly in the prophecy);
Stopped by the Antichrist in the middle of the last seven years (assuming this is what 9:27 refers to);
Re-introduced at the end of the 70th week, at the visible return of Christ, after which the sacrificial system and the Jewish period will be continued for one thousand years. (No mention of this in the prophecy)

Dispensationalism postulates the Millennium as a period of Jewish dominance.  This allocates to the Jews not only 490 years, but 490 years plus the millennium; in total 1490 years.  But 70 weeks have been determined for the city of “your people” (9:24).  In other words, sacrifices will not be continued beyond the 70 weeks.

A strange aspect of Dispensationalism is the proposal that sin will continue for 1000 years after the return of Christ.  This is inconsistent with the goal “to make an end of sin” (9:24).

Two completely separate and unrelated prophecies

To postpone the last seven years to the end of the age destroys the simple unity of the prophecy.  It divides the prophecy into two completely separate and unrelated prophecies:

One about Christ 2000 years ago, and
One about some future Antichrist.

The last seven years are the core of the prophecy, but Dispensationalism allocates those seven years to the Antichrist.  This converts a prophecy about the Christ into a prophecy about the Antichrist.

Summary

Rebuild again – The prophecy promises that Jerusalem will be rebuilt, which happened before the time of Christ, but Dispensationalism requires the sanctuary to be rebuilt a second time, namely during the last seven years before Christ Returns.

Breaks his covenantIn Dispensationalism the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel after 3½ years, but according to 9:27 the covenant is confirmed for the full seven years.

Destroyed in the middle of the last weekIn Dispensationalism the sanctuary will be destroyed in the middle of the last week, but since the full 490 years have been determined for the city, the sanctuary will not be destroyed during the 490 years.

Return of Christ – Dispensationalism maintains that the last week ends with the return of Christ, but according to the prophecy the last week ends in chaos.

Goals fulfilledIn Dispensationalism the goals in 9:24 have not been fulfilled by the Cross, but will be fulfilled at the end of the last seven years, with the return of Christ.  This proposal denies the 70 sevens their purpose.  The goals in 9:24 were given to Israel to fulfill, and Israel was given 490 years to fulfill those goals.

MillenniumThe prophecy promised that sacrifices will be revived when Jerusalem is rebuilt, but also predicts that the sacrifices will be stopped.  In contrast, the complex Dispensational view proposes that the sacrifices will be stopped three times and again revived three times; the last time at the beginning of the Millennium.  But there can never be a valid return to the old covenant and its earthly temple worship.

By picturing the Millennium as a period for Jewish dominance, Dispensationalism awards the Jews a total of 1490 years.

Two completely separate and unrelated propheciesTo postpone the last seven years of final crisis to the end of the age divides the prophecy it into two completely separate and unrelated prophecies; One about Christ 2000 years ago, and one about some future Antichrist.

NEXT:   When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?  The seventh and last article explains why the six goals in verse 24 have not been all fulfilled at the time of Christ.

When is the last week of Daniel 9:27? Is it the last seven years prior to Christ’s return?

Last seven yearsIn Dispensationalism the last week is the last seven years before Christ returns.  However, the Poetic Pattern and the repetition of words indicate that the desolations in verse 27 are the same as the destruction of Jerusalem in verse 26.  This happened in AD 70.  The last week, described earlier in verse 27, must therefore be prior to AD 70.  To propel the last seven years into the distant future defeats the purpose of the 483 years and converts this prophecy about the Christ into a prophecy about the antichrist.

Jesus and the Abomination of Desolation

Jesus teachingJesus said:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) …” (Mat. 24:15)

Here Jesus by name refers to Daniel and to the “abomination of desolation”.  This phrase is used a number of times in Daniel.  This phrase is not used in Daniel 9 in that format, but the last part of verse 27 does refer to desolation and abominations:

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” (NASB)

An abomination is some grave sin.  A desolation is a destruction.

Dispensationalism claims:

(1) That our Lord in Matthew 24:15 placed the “abomination of desolation” at ‘the end,’ just before His second coming in glory (Matthew 24:15, 21, 29, 30).
(2) That the “Abomination of Desolation” is the stop that will be put to sacrifice “in the middle of the week” (9:27).
(3) Therefore, that “he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” at the end of the age; just prior to Christ’s return.

Abomination of DesolationHowever, Jesus, in Matthew 24:15, did not put the “abomination of desolation” at the end of the age, as the Dispensationalism claims.  To the contrary, He linked it to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  The parallel statement is Luke 21:20-23 (compare Mat 24:16-19).  Luke, writing to Gentiles, who were not familiar with the book of Daniel, interpreted Jesus’ reference to the abomination of desolation as the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem.  See Little Apocalypse.

Chronological Sequence

The question in this section relates to the chronological sequence of the destruction of the Jerusalem in 9:26 and the last seven years in verse 27.

Daniel's propheciesVerses 26 and 27 read:

26 … 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

Notice the “he” used twice in verse 27.

Dispensationalism

The destruction of the city in 9:26 is dated to 70 AD.  Dispensationalism assumes that the events in verses 25 to 27 are presented in chronological sequence.  Consequently, since the last seven years (9:27) is mentioned after the destruction of Jerusalem (9:26), the last seven years follow after AD 70.  Since the first 483 years came to an end at the time of Christ, this necessitates a gap between the first 483 years and the last seven years.

Jerusalem destroyed
Jerusalem destroyed

It would also mean that the “he” of 9:27 cannot be the Messiah, for the Messiah died about four decades earlier.  The only remaining option is that “he” refers to the prince whose people destroyed the city in AD 70 (9:26).  It should logically follow that “he” is to the Roman Caesar in 70 AD, and that the last week is the time around 70 AD.  But, as already stated, Dispensationalism proposes that the Roman Empire will be revived in the years just prior to Christ’s return and that “he” (9:27) is the Roman Caesar at that time.

Not in strict chronological sequence

These proposals may be disputed in a number of ways:

parallelismFirstly, because of the poetic parallelism, as discussed in the previous article, the assumption of a strict chronological sequence is incorrect.  The following examples confirm that the prophecy is not presented in chronological sequence:

The rebuilding of the city (25c) is mentioned after the appearance of the anointed one (25b), while the city was rebuilt four hundred years before the Anointed.

The prince causes sacrifices to cease (9:27) after the sanctuary is destroyed (9:26).  But if the sanctuary is destroyed there does not remain a sacrificial system that can be ceased.

Since 70 weeks have been determined for the city of “your people” (9:24), the destruction of the city and the sanctuary in verse 26 must occur after the end of the 70 weeks, and therefore after the 70th week of verse 27.

Desolations Repeated

Summary: The last part of verse 27 describes the destruction of Jerusalem.  The covenant in verse 27 is therefore confirmed prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. 

Roman Empire Destroyed

The question in this section is what the last part of verse 27 refers to.  This verse describes undefined abominations 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

Notice the difference in the final words of the two translations:

In the KJV translation desolations are poured on the desolated one which, in the context, seems to refer to the city Jerusalem, which is destroyed in verse 26.

In the NASB translation desolations are poured out on a desolator which, in the context, refers to the people who destroy the city (9:26).  The NASB hereby introduces a concept not mentioned by the previous verses.

Dispensationalism uses the NASB-type translation to argue as follows:

(1) The last part of 9:27 refers to the destruction of the Roman Empire.
(2) Since the Roman Empire was not destroyed in Christ’s time, it must be in our future.
(3) Since 9:27 describes the last seven of the 490 years, the last seven years must be in our future today.

Dispensationalism further proposes that the Roman Empire will be revived in those last seven years, to be destroyed again at Christ’s return at the end of those last seven years.

Discussion

However, since different translations present 9:27 differently, we must assume that this verse may be translated in more than one way.  We should not rely too much on a specific translation.

Secondly, according to the literary analysis of the text, the desolation in the last past of 9:27 refers to the destruction of the city, some 40 years after Christ’s death.  See Poetic Pattern in the previous article or the article Chronological sequence in Daniel 9.

Desolations repeated

Furthermore, the last part of 9:27 repeats the main words and concepts from the last part of verse 26, which describes the destruction of Jerusalem.  Below verses 26 and 27 are compared:

MESSIAH CITY
26 Then 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 And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; 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.”

Note the key phrases from verse 26 that are repeated in verse 27:

Both verses refer to desolations (Strong number H8074) that are decreed (Strong number H2782).  The NASB in v26 reads “desolations are determined” and in v27 “desolate … one that is decreed”.

Both verses use water as symbol of the force of destruction.  In verse 26 desolations will come with a flood, while they are poured out in verse 27.

Both verses include the concept of completion.  Verse 26 refers to the end (of the city) (NASB).  Verse 27 similarly refers to a “complete destruction” (NASB), which is another way of expressing the end of the thing that is destroyed.

Destruction JerusalemDispensationalism associates the desolation in verse 27 with an end time despot, but the similarity between the last parts of verses 26 and 27 implies that they refer to the same event, which is identified by verse 26 as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  The last part of verse 27 does not deal with the destruction of the Roman Empire.

Conclusions

Above Matthew 24:15 is discussed.  If we do make the assumption that Jesus in Matthew 24:15 referred to Daniel 9:27, as Dispensationalism does, then Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:15 confirms that the last part of 9:27 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

In the parallelism of the prophecy, the destruction is mentioned twice, with the description of the last seven years in-between.  Those last 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.

The Daniel 9 prophecy promises the reconstruction of Jerusalem to receive the Messiah, but it also predicts that Jerusalem will be destroyed as a consequence of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah.  The destruction of Jerusalem is an integral part of the Messiah-events of 2000 years ago.

Entire 9:26 repeated

The previous article concluded that it is the Messiah who dies in 9:26a, who confirms the covenant for the last seven years and who puts a stop to sacrifices in 9:27a.  Since we have now shown that the last part of 9:27 repeats the last part of 9:26, it follows that the entire verse 27 is a repeat of 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 appreciate 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 last seven years.

What does the last part of 9:27 mean?

9:27c reads “On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate” (NASB).  In other words, a desolator will arrive shortly after (on the wing of) abominations.  A desolator is a person; a destroyer.  An abomination is some repulsive sin.  The desolator in 9:27 is therefore a person who arrives after some repulsive sin to make “desolate, even until a complete destruction”.

The Cross
The Cross of Christ

In the context the repulsive sin is Israel’s rejection, first of its Messiah and later of the Holy Spirit.  The desolation refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans 40 years later.

Above three arguments used by Dispensationalism, to show that there is a gap of 2000 years or more between the first 69 weeks and the 70th week, are discussed and opposed.  Other arguments against such a gap include:

Revived Roman Prince

The Romans destroyed the city (9:26) in AD 70.  Their “prince” must therefore be the Roman Caesar.  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.  But 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?

It is to the contrary proposed here that, since the prince in verse 26 is the Roman Caesar, and since no known ruler of the Roman Empire ever confirmed a covenant with the Jews for seven years, that this prince cannot be the “he” in verse 27.

Defeats the purpose

The only event during the initial 483 years is the construction of the city.  But the prophecy predicts significant events for the last seven years.  The covenant is confirmed for the last seven years and the sacrifices are caused to cease in the middle of those last seven years.  The last seven years are therefore the core and purpose of the 490 years.   The only purpose of the first 483 years is to foretell the timing of the last seven years.  Hence, to dislodge that last seven years from the previous 483 years and to propel it into the distant future is to defeat the purpose of the 483 years.

No indication of a gap

The wording of the text of Daniel in no way indicates a break or gap.  There appears to be no valid reason, or defensible ground, for separating the 70th week from the previous 69.

To postpone the last seven years of final crisis to the end of the age is a form of exegesis without a precedent in all prophetic exposition.

It destroys the simple unity of the prophecy and divides it into two completely separate and unrelated prophecies; one about Christ 2000 years ago, and one about some future antichrist.  Dispensationalism places most of the prophecies in book of Revelation in the last seven years.  Because of this emphasis that is placed by Dispensationalism on the last seven years this prophecy about the Christ is effectively converted into a prophecy about the antichrist.

Summary

A major issue in this article is to identify the desolations in the last part of verse 27.  In this article it is argues that this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  It then follows that the last week, described earlier in verse 27, must have been prior to AD 70:

Abomination of Desolation Jesus spoke about the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24:15.  The parallel verses in Luke 21:20-23 indicates that He referred to the Roman armies that surrounded Jerusalem in AD 70.  Since the phrase “abomination of desolation” could possibly be linked to the last part of Daniel 9:27, it is possible that the desolations in that verse might refer to the events of AD 70.

Desolations Repeated – The last part of verse 26 describes the destruction of Jerusalem.  The Poetic Pattern of the prophecy indicates that the destruction in verse 27 refers to the same event.  This is confirmed by the repetition of words and concepts from the last part of verse 26 in verse 27.

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

Other arguments against such a gap include:

ChronologicalChronological Sequence The destruction of the Jerusalem is mentioned in 9:26 and the last seven years in verse 27.  Dispensationalism uses this to argue for a gap, but the prophecy is not given in strict chronological sequence, as implied by the poetic parallelism and as confirmed by examples from the prophecy.

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

Defeats the purpose The only purpose of the first 483 years is to foretell the timing of the last seven years.  Hence, to dislodge that last seven years from the previous 483 years and to propel it into the distant future is to defeat the purpose of the 483 years.

No indication of a gap The wording of the text of Daniel in no way indicates a break or gap.

Previous articles – The previous articles already concluded that it is the Messiah that works in those last week and that He confirms God’s covenant with Israel.  The last week therefore cannot be the time of an end-time antichrist.

Conclusion

The last part of 9:27 links desolations (destruction) to abominations (severe sin).  The repulsive sin is here understood to be Israel’s rejection its Messiah.  The desolation refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans 40 years later.

Dispensationalism converts this prophecy about the Christ into a prophecy about the Antichrist.

NEXT:   Dispensationalism Daniel 9 and the Antichrist: Inconsistencies compared to the text  Various other differences between the text and the Dispensational interpretation are identified, such as that Jerusalem will be rebuilt twice, while the prophecy promises only one rebuilding.

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.