Inconsistencies between Daniel 9 and the Antichrist interpretation thereof.

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 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 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 of 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 divide the prophecy into two completely separate and unrelated prophecies; One about Christ 2000 years ago, and one about some future Antichrist.

Articles in this series

This series discusses the Dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9 and includes the following:

(1) Introduction to Dispensationalism and Daniel 9: Overview of the text of Daniel 9 and of the Dispensational interpretation
(2) WHEN: When did the 490 years begin? When was the decree issued, when did the Messiah appear and when did God suspend His covenant with the Jews?
(3) WHAT: Is it God’s or Satan’s covenant that is confirmed in Daniel 9:27?
(4) WHO: Who confirms that covenant for seven years; the Messiah or the prince?
(5) When are the last seven years?  Are they the last seven years before Christ returns?
(6) Other inconsistencies between the text and the Dispensational Interpretation
(7) When will Christ fulfill the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years?

See also, the Summary of all Daniel 9 articles, including the Historical Messianic Interpretation

The 490 years, promised to Israel, ended at the stoning of Stephen.

Peter preaching at PentecostExcerpt: In the first few years after Jesus died, the gospel was preached only to Jews. The Christian Jews continued to live like Jews.  Christianity was a sect of Judaism with headquarters in Jerusalem.  Two to four years after the Cross commenced, the Jewish persecution of the Jewish Christians, began with the stoning of Stephen. This was the end of God’s covenant with Israel, and also the end of the 490 years promised by Daniel 9.

Sect of Judaism

The first seven chapters of Acts do not mention non-Jews. In those first few years after Jesus’s death the gospel was preached only to the “circumcised” (Acts 10:45 – i.e. Jews). Christians continued to live practically like Jews.  Christianity existed as a sect of Judaism and the dramatic acts of the young church were confined to Jerusalem.  This is evidenced by the following:

Jerusalem

Jesus explicitly told the apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4).

Pentecost

PentecostThe apostles and other believers received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost when Jews from every nation were gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 2:10, 5).  This implies that God chose that place and time to give the apostles the opportunity to preach repentance to the Jews.  Peter preached to the gathered Jews to repent (Acts 2:38) and on that day 3000 were added to the church (Acts 2:41, cf. 5:11).

Healing at the Temple

Peter preaching at the templeIn Acts 3 God gave Peter to heal a lame man at the temple (Acts 3:2, 7). This implies that God chose this place for the healing to give Peter the opportunity to preach the gospel at the temple.  All the people gathered around Peter and the apostles, full of amazement (Acts 3:11).  Peter urged them to “repent, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19).  Many believed, and the church grew to 5000 men (Acts 4:4).

Go again to the Temple

After the apostles were jailed (Acts 5:18), an angel released them and told them to go and speak to the people in the temple (Acts 5:20).  They preached every day in the temple (Acts 5:42).

Israel was forgiven

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter told the Jews that Jesus had been exalted by God “to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

Peter’s vision 

Peter dreaming unclean animalsA few years after the cross God gave Peter the vision of unclean animals (Acts 10:19-20) to convince him to accompany “without misgivings” the uncircumcised men which Cornelius sent. Many people suppose that that vision was about what Christians are allowed to eat, but when Peter arrived at Cornelius, he interpreted his vision himself.  He said, “God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean” (Acts 10:28).  Peter also declared “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35).  This implies that Peter previously thought that God was partial to the Jews. He previously thought that non-Jews were unholy or unclean.  The fact that God had to give Peter this vision confirms that disciples and other believers did not associate with the “uncircumcised” in the first few years after the cross.

Holy Spirit on Gentiles

Cornelius receives the Holy SpiritA number of the circumcised Christians went with Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:23, 45). While Peter was speaking to the uncircumcised Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, the Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 10:44, cf. v45) and they spoke in tongues (Acts 10:45). This amazed the “circumcised” that came with Peter (Acts 10:45).  The fact that they were amazed again shows that this was the first time that uncircumcised people received the Holy Spirit.

Back in Jerusalem

When “the circumcised” in Judea heard about these things, they took issue with Peter (Acts 11:2), asking why he went to uncircumcised men and ate with them (Acts 11:3). After Peter explained what happened, they declared: “God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). This again confirms that, prior to this point in history, the believers did not associate with the uncircumcised, which means that the gospel was focused exclusively on the circumcised.

A series of articles is available that explains the history of the early church in more detail. See Early Church Table of Contents‘.

Stoning of Stephen:
A turning point in history

In Acts 6 the gospel still focuses on the circumcised:

The word of God kept on spreading;
and the number of the disciples
continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem,
and a great many of the priests
were becoming obedient to the faith
” (Acts 6:7). 

But in Acts 10 God, by giving Peter the vision, redirects the gospel to non-Jews.

Stoning of StephenMost of the intermediate verses describe the persecution of the believers, starting with the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 (Acts 8:1) and ended with the conversion of Paul (Acts 9:31). This shift in gospel focus was therefore caused by the persecution of God’s Spirit-filled people.

The stoning of Stephen was a turning point in the history of the early church:

Prior to that, the church functioned as part of Judaism, Christians lived practically as Jews and the church was confined to Jerusalem.

Through the persecution, which followed after his death, God dispersed the believers. This reversed Jesus’s instruction to His followers to stay in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4).  The church was expelled from Judaism and Jerusalem. The Christian message was taken to the Gentile world. As was their habit previously, the fleeing believers at first took the message only to Jews (Acts 11:19).  But the Holy Spirit steered the gospel towards the non-Jews, particularly through the conversion of Paul; the apostle to the Gentiles.

Dating the stoning of Stephen

The dating of Stephen’s death is entirely dependent on the date of Paul’s conversion. Merrill C. Tenney, in his book “New Testament Times” (Inter-Varsity Press, 1967, chapter 7), gives 30 AD at the most probable year for the crucifixion and 32/33 as the most probable date for the stoning of Stephen and the conversion of Paul. R. Jewett (A Chronology of Paul’s Life (Philadelphia, 1979), pp. 1-2.) dates Paul’s conversion to AD 34. Since this should at the most months after the stoning of Stephen, the Stoning of Stephen could be as late as 34 AD.  Stephen, therefore, died about 2 to 4 years after the Cross.

End of the 490 years

As argued in the article Confirm the covenant, the Seventy Weeks (490 years) come to an end when the Messiah no longer maintains His covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27). Since the gospel went to Jews only during the first few years after the Cross, God’s covenant with the Jews did not come to an end at the Cross. But since God suddenly redirected the gospel away from the Jews to all people, a few years after the cross, this must be the end of the Seventy Weeks.

It also seems appropriate that Israel would seal the termination of the covenant with the rejection and persecution of the people to whom God gave His Holy Spirit, just as they persecuted Jesus a few years before.

This conclusion also fits the time specifications exactly. There was 483 years from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (see Which Decree) to the inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry at His baptism, as required by the prophecy. 3½ years later, He offered Himself as the Lamb of God, “putting a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (Dan 9:27). Another 3½ years later, at the end of the 490 years, the covenant with Israel came to an end.

490 yearsTherefore, God’s covenant with Israel ended two to four years after the Cross.

Stephen announced
the end of the covenant.

In an earlier article (The Covenant in Daniel 9) it was shown that the entire Daniel 9 is based on the covenant God made with Israel.  Stephen’s speech was similarly based on the covenant. While Daniel confessed the sins of his people and prayed for the mercies of the covenant, Stephen’s speech was a pronouncement of God’s judgment in terms of the covenant.

In contrast to Peter sometime earlier (cf. Acts 4:8-12), Stephen made no effort to defend himself. In contrast to other speeches in Acts, Stephen did not call his hearers to repentance. Rather, he cites God’s mighty acts on behalf of His people in the past—keeping His side of the covenant. Then he lists the failures of the Jewish people—explaining that the Jewish people did not keep their side of the covenant. After his long recital of Israel’s history, he announced his verdict:

You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it” (Acts 7:51- 53).

Jesus stood in judgment

Stephen then “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). The Bible consistently says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God (Luke 22:69; Heb 8:1-2; 10:12; cf. Col 3:1; Rom 8:34; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Mark 16:19; 1 Peter 3:22). But Stephen saw Him standing. It is therefore proposed that Jesus stood in judgment and that Stephen was the conduit through which Jesus’ judgment was announced on the Jewish nation. Stephen brought to the Jewish leaders not only another one of God’s covenant lawsuits but the final one.

Israel is no longer
the covenant people

The period of privilege for the Jews did not end at the Cross. After Christ’s death, God offered them the last opportunity. But they failed (Acts 7:53). The seventy weeks which God decreed for Israel have come to an end. They were now no longer the people of the covenant.  The change in Stephen’s speech of the pronoun from “our” (Acts 7:11, 19, 38, 44 and 45) to “your fathers” (Acts 7:51) means more than a simple breakage in Stephen’s solidarity with his audience. It also implies the definitive end of the covenant God made with Israel.

Jew First

The gospel … is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).

The covenant which God made with Israel was not synonymous with salvation. The purpose of the covenant was to take God’s salvation to the entire world (cf. Genesis 12:1-3). God elected Israel for Himself and conferred to them a series of privileges, such as the multiplication of their seed, the gift of the land, and His own presence in blessing and protection, in order to enable them to be the channel for His blessing to all other nations. Thus the covenant must be understood in terms of mission.

So to state that the Jews are no longer the people of the covenant does not mean that God has rejected them (cf. Romans 11:1–10).  Rather, God has chosen another method to execute His missionary plan.  God’s covenant with Israel was established on a corporate basis—i.e., it involved the entire nation as an entity. The end of the covenant with Israel does not imply the end of God’s interest in the Jews as individuals.  Because of this, the gospel was still preached to them even after the stoning of Stephen (cf. Acts 28:17-28) (92).  But the privilege of being “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) was no longer theirs. The people of the covenant are now not defined by bloodline, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26-29; cf. Romans 11:25-32).

In his last moments, Stephen prayed: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60). These words were much more than a prayer.  They were the genuine expression of God’s will in relation to the Jews. “If they do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again” (Rom 11:23).

What if Israel accepted the Messiah?

What would have happened if Israel accepted the message brought by the Holy Spirit?  It would have proclaimed “the excellencies of Him” to the entire world in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the goals for the seventy weeks would have been attained:

Finish the transgression,
Make an end of sin,
Make atonement for iniquity,
Bring in everlasting righteousness,
Seal up vision and prophecy and
Anoint the most holy place.

For more on this controversial subject, please see the series of articles on the return of Christ, concluding with Why did He Not Return in the First Century as He promised?.

Articles in this series

1.   Summary of all Daniel 9 articles
2.   Introduction
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
     Liberal-critical interpretation

     Consistent Symbolical Interpretation
     Dispensationalism and Daniel 9
     Historical Messianic Interpretation