The interpretation of Daniel 9 is critical for the interpretation of the book of Revelation. The following articles explain Daniel 9:
This article summarizes all the articles below. It may be easier to start with this summary and then to revert to the more detailed articles when required. The first articles are general in nature. The last articles discuss the four different interpretations; the Liberal, Symbolic, Dispensational, and Messianic interpretations.
Daniel received the prophecy at a time when Israel was in captivity and Jerusalem in ruins. The prophecy gave Israel seventy weeks of years (490 years) to fulfill six goals, including to solve the sin problem for the whole human race. Particularly, the crisis of the final seven years are interpreted very differently by the different schools of thought, including as:
- Antiochus IV, 168 years before Christ (liberal),
- Jesus Christ in the first century AD (traditional), or
- An end-time Antichrist (Dispensationalism).
The 490 years begin with a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Dan 9:25). To restore a city means to return all rights to the previous owner. To restore a capital city, such as Jerusalem, means to give the nation the right to rule itself from the city. This article evaluates five possible decrees in terms of (1) did it “restore” the city, (2) did it allow the city to be rebuilt, and (3) does it fit the time of Christ?
GOD EXTENDED HIS COVENANT
This article shows that the covenant pattern (disobey – exile – repent – covenant renewal) is the framework that unites Daniel’s prayer and the prophecy. Through his prayer, Daniel appealed to God to renew His covenant. Consequently, with the 70-weeks prophecy, God extended His covenant with Israel.
END OF THE 490 YEARS
God’s covenant with Israel did not come to an end at Christ’s death. The end of the covenant came two to four years later when Israel, by stoning Stephen, rejected the Holy Spirit. At that time, Jesus stood to announce the end of the covenant.
WHO CONFIRMS WHAT COVENANT?
In Daniel 9:27, who confirms what covenant with whom during the last 7 years? In Dispensationalism, an end-time Antichrist will make a covenant with many during the seven years before Christ returns. This article shows that it is God’s covenant with Israel and that Jesus Christ confirmed it through His 3½ years of personal ministry plus, after His death, 3½ years of His ministry through the Holy Spirit.
THE DESTRUCTION OF VERSE 27
What is destroyed in Daniel 9:27? In some translations, a desolator will be destroyed. In others, it is the desolated one. The context, including the poetic pattern, the chiasm, and the repetition of concepts, provides the answer.
Daniel 9 mentions the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 first (v26) and then the “firm covenant” of the 70th week (v27) but the prophecy does not list events in chronological sequence. The poetic pattern shows that the prophecy alternates between two foci; Jerusalem and the Messiah. The Jerusalem-events are in chronological sequence. So also, the Messiah-events. But the poetic pattern and the chiasm show that verse 27 repeats verse 26.
DID CHRIST FULFILL THE GOALS?
Daniel 9:24 sets 6 goals for the 490 years. These goals are important because, in the correct interpretation of the events described in the later verses, these events will fulfill these goals. In the traditional interpretation, they were fulfilled through Christ’s life and death. Dispensationalism claims that only His return will fulfill these goals.
WHEN WILL THE MESSIAH APPEAR?
Daniel 9 promises both 490 years and a messiah. Due to different assumptions about punctuation, in some translations, a messiah appears at the end of the first 49 years. In others, the messiah appears only after the first 483 years. The article provides reasons why there is no messiah after the first 49 years.
The prophecies in Daniel 2, 7, 8, and 11 predict the same crisis, namely the Antichrist persecuting God’s people. But the prophecy of the 490 years in Daniel 9 is very different from those other prophecies. For example, while Daniel 9 deals with Israel specifically, and with the 490 years allocated to her, the other prophecies deal with all nations and all time from ancient Babylon to the return of Christ. Daniel 9, therefore, does not describe the same crisis as the other prophecies in Daniel. This conclusion argues against the critical and dispensational interpretations for, in those interpretations, Daniel 9:27 also describes the Antichrist.
PRAYER AND PROPHECY
Daniel 9 has two parts; Daniel’s prayer, and the vision which Daniel received while still praying. These two parts form a unit: Through Jeremiah, God promised to restore Jerusalem after 70 years. After Babylon fell, Daniel prayed for the fulfillment of the promise. Through the 70 weeks prophecy, God assured Daniel that He will.
Daniel was written in the sixth century BC but contains explicit and accurate predictions of later empires. Since liberal scholars do not accept that accurate predictions of the future are possible. They propose that Daniel was written after the events it seems to predict, namely during the reign of Antiochus IV. But then they have to explain the 490 years in terms of the history up to that point in time and their explanation breaks down under investigation.
CONSISTENT SYMBOLIC INTERPRETATION
Except for Daniel 9, all Daniel’s prophecies are symbolic. But in the Consistent Symbolical view, Daniel 9 prophecy is also symbolic. Jerusalem, for example, is understood to symbolize the church. But this interpretation has some serious shortcomings.
An evaluation of the Dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9. For example, when did the 490 years begin and the first 483 end? Who confirms what covenant during the seven last years? What is destroyed in verse 27? When are the goals fulfilled?
In Pre-Wrath Dispensationalism, the church will NOT be removed before the last 7 years but will suffer tribulation during the second half of the last seven years. God will gather (rapture) them just before the end of the last 7 years of Daniel 9. Then all those left on earth will have the mark of the beast and, on the Day of the Lord, God will pour his wrath on them.
JEREMIAH’S 70 YEARS
Through Jeremiah, God revealed that He will restore Israel to Jerusalem after 70 years. That prediction caused Daniel to pray (Dan 9:2). The 70 years, therefore, set the stage for Daniel’s prayer and for the subsequent prophecy. Where do the 70 years fit in history?
This is a summary of the book of Nehemiah. This book provides important context for Daniel’s prophecies. Judea was completely destroyed by the Babylonians. But, through Nehemiah and others, God effectively gave Israel a new beginning.
This article discusses Jewish views and surveys the interpretations of 12 Christian writers of the first four centuries. The purpose is to determine how their views compared to those of modern interpreters. It shows that there was a strong consensus among the early church fathers that Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy was fulfilled in Christ.