The major interpretations all understand the Daniel 9 prophecy to be literal while the other prophecies in Daniel are symbolic. But in the Consistent Symbolical Interpretation, the Daniel 9 prophecy is also symbolic.
“Jerusalem” is symbolically understood as the church. Also, the numerical figures in 9:24-27 do not define precise periods of time, but are symbolic:
The first division of 7 weeks begins with the edict of Cyrus in AD 538 and ends with the first advent of Christ.
The second division of 62 weeks is the period of the Christian church; from the First to the Second Advent. It extends from the construction of Jerusalem—interpreted as “spiritual Jerusalem,” which is the church—down to the final consummation at the end of time.
The third division of one week is the last period of history—the time of tribulation caused by the anti-Christ. The objective of the anti-Christ is to destroy “the city and the sanctuary;” that is, the church. It causes the visible church to disappear for a time. This period begins with the advent of the anti-Christ and ends with his defeat at the Second Advent of Christ.
The consistent symbolical interpretation emphasizes generalities rather than details in history and interpretation.
This interpretation has some serious shortcomings:
The time periods overlap: The third division is made a part of the second division. The one week occurs in the closing portion of the second era.
Daniel’s prayer was motivated by his desire to learn when the desolation of Jerusalem—the symbol of his nation—will end. If Gabriel gave him a prophecy in which the periods of time are merely vague symbols of future dispensations, then Daniel did not receive an answer. Daniel 9:25a is specially formulated as a reference to a particular time:
“from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks“
The numbers 62, 1 and 3½ are not typical symbols in apocalyptic literature.
Jerusalem is the literal city. There is no exegetical evidence anywhere in the book of Daniel to support the view that Jerusalem should stand for anything other than the actual city of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem of 9:2 and 9:16 is the literal capital city of the Israelites. The “inhabitants of Jerusalem” in 9:7 are physical Israelites. The “city” in 9:18 can only be the physical city of ancient Israel. Accordingly, the “holy city” of 9:24 and the Jerusalem of 9:25 cannot refer to anything other than that to which the reader constantly has been pointed.
Why no eternal kingdom? If the 70 weeks end with the defeat of the anti-Christ, why does the prophecy not say anything about the eternal kingdom, as the other prophecies in Daniel do (7:13-14, 27; 12:1-3)? Why does the Daniel 9 prophecy rather end in the accumulation of desolations?
These weighty objections have drawn few interpreters in recent years to adopt the consistent symbolical interpretation.
Articles in this series
1. Summary of all Daniel 9 articles
3. When will the Messiah Appear? – Discussion of punctuation
4. Daniel 9 does not describe the same crisis
as the other prophecies in Daniel.
5. Where do we find Jeremiah’s 70 years in history?
6. With which decree do the 490 years begin?
7. Daniel’s prayer is part of the prophecy.
8. Daniel 9 extends God’s covenant with Israel.
9. Who confirms the covenant in week 70?
10. What is the real sequence of events?
11. The 490 years came to an end when they stoned Stephen.
12. Nehemiah gives context to Daniel 9.
13. List of articles
Four interpretations of Daniel 9
Consistent Symbolical Interpretation
Dispensationalism and Daniel 9
Historical Messianic Interpretation