The prophecy has a Poetic Pattern in which the focus alternates between two foci; Jerusalem and the Messiah. The prophecy is therefore not given in a strict chronological sequence. In this pattern, it is Jesus who confirms the covenant for seven years in Daniel 9:27.
One fundamental issue in the interpretation of Daniel 9 is that God’s covenant with Israel is the main theme of the entire chapter, binding Daniel’s prayer and the prophecy together. This was discussed above (Historical Messianic Interpretation). Another fundamental issue is the Poetic Pattern of the prophecy. This is discussed in more detail in Poetic pattern and Chiasm, but is summarized below:
The Daniel 9 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 an 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.
But perhaps the most important pattern in the prophecy is the way in which the focus jumps 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 prophecy is, therefore, a form of poetic parallelism in which Jerusalem and the Messiah are the two foci. These two foci stand in cause-effect relationships; the city is rebuilt to receive the Messiah, but it is again destroyed because it did not receive the Messiah.
The first implication of the Poetic Pattern is that the events in Daniel 9 are not given in strict chronological sequence. The following examples confirm this conclusion:
The rebuilding of the city (25c) is mentioned after the appearance of the Messiah (25b), while the city was rebuilt four hundred years before the Messiah.
The prince causes sacrifices to cease in Daniel 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 Daniel 9:27.
Implications for Daniel 9:27
The further implication is that Daniel 9:27 continues this pattern:
Since verse 26 ends with a reference to Jerusalem, the first part of Daniel 9;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 who is cut off in verse 26.
Similarly, the destruction in the last part of Daniel 9:27 should refer to Jerusalem.
See Poetic Pattern and Chiasm in Daniel 9 for a further discussion.
It is God’s Covenant with Israel.
The covenant in Daniel 9:27 is God’s covenant with Israel, for the following reasons:
(1) God’s covenant with Israel is the central theme throughout the entire Daniel 9, as discussed above and as explained in The Covenant in Daniel 9.
(2) Also as discussed above, the full 490 years are God’s renewed covenant with Israel. The “one week” in Daniel 9:27 is the last seven years of that covenant.
(3) The phrase “confirm the covenant” (9:27 KJV) means that this covenant existed prior to the 70th week. Then it can only be God’s covenant with Israel.
The verb translated “make a firm” in the NASB is “gâbar”. Strong’s short definition of this word is “prevailed”. Of the 25 times this word appears in the OT, it is 14 times translated as ‘prevail’. The evidence of the usage of gâbar in the Bible (“The covenant of the Seventieth Week” by Meredith G. Kline) indicates that Daniel 9:27 has in view the enforcing of a covenant previously granted. It is not a verb for the initial making of a covenant. It should, therefore, be translated as “make firm a covenant”, and not as “make a firm covenant”. The KJV translates it as “confirm the covenant” and Young’s Literal Translation reads “strengthening a covenant”. “Confirm” and “strengthen” imply a covenant that existed prior to the last seven years. If so, it can only refer to God’s faithful fulfillment of the covenant He has given to Israel.
(4) “The many”, with whom the covenant is confirmed, most often refers to God’s people. For instance:
“The Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities“ (Isa 53:11)
“Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days” (Dan 11:33; See also Dan 11:39; 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 must be God’s covenant.
For these reasons, the seven-year covenant in 9:27 is still God’s covenant with Israel.
Articles in this series
(1) The traditional interpretation of Daniel 9 is Historical-Messianic, in which the 490 years is an extension of God’s covenant with Israel.
(2) The 490 years began with Artaxerxes’ decree. The first 483 years ended with the arrival of the Messiah, namely His baptism in the 15th year of Emperor Tiberius. – CURRENT ARTICLE
(3) The Messiah who is cut off is our Lord Jesus Christ. The people who destroy the city are the Romans. The prince in Daniel 9:26 is a supernatural force controlling that Empire.
(4) The prophecy’s Poetic Pattern alternates between Jerusalem and the Messiah. In this pattern, Jesus confirms the covenant in Daniel 9:27. – CURRENT ARTICLE
(5) Jesus confirmed God’s covenant for the Seven Last Years by His personal preaching and by sending His disciples to Israel ONLY for a few years after His death.
(6) Daniel 9 promises atonement for sin (9:24) through the killing of the messiah (v26), while he will put a stop to sacrifice (9:27). In light of the New Testament, this messiah is Jesus Christ.
(7) The Poetic Pattern and the repetition of ideas from verse 26 identify the “complete destruction” in Daniel 9:27c as the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
(8) The key message of Daniel 9 is that the Messiah will appear within 500 years after Jerusalem is given back to the Jews; before Jerusalem is destroyed in AD 70.
See also, the Summary of all Daniel 9 articles, including the Dispensational Interpretation of Daniel 9. Another series identifies the Antichrist in the other prophecies of Daniel.