In Pre-Wrath Dispensationalism, the rapture is not a secret event.

I wrote an article, Does “coming like a thief” in Revelation 16:15, support a secret rapture? In response, Yves Peloquin posted a comment to explain Pre-Wrath Dispensationalism. I converted that comment into this post. Yves wrote:

Some (maybe most) Dispensationalists believe that the church will be removed before the last 7 years. However, this view contradicts many Bible passages and it should be rejected.

But there is a group among the dispensationalists who believe in a more attractive interpretation: The Pre-Wrath view.  To the benefit of your readers, here is a brief summary of what Pre-wrath means:

The last 7 years are divided into two parts.

FIRST 3.5 YEARS

In the first part (3.5 years) a ‘beast’ will become prominent in the middle east. In that time, he will sign a 7 years covenant with Israel, allowing them to build the Temple and to sacrifice.

MIDDLE OF THAT SEVEN

But in the middle point of those 7 years, he will commit an abomination:

He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of that ‘seven’, he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation.” (Dan 9:27)

The abomination referred to here could be that the beast will pretend to be God himself (thus eliminating the need to sacrifice in the Temple). By doing that, the beast will seduce millions of people:

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Rev 13:7-8)

SECOND 3.5 YEARS

In the second half of the last seven years, the beast will put a mark on the people to separate those who believe in him from those who perceive that he is false. This will be the beginning of a period of wrath against true Christian (the great tribulation). I.e. a persecution (against those who don’t have the mark of the beast) that will be so intense that many ‘true’ Christians will die.

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matt 24:22 – NIV)

DAY OF THE LORD

Toward the end of that period of tribulation (near the end of the last seven years of Daniel), God will intervene (day of the Lord). The Day of the Lord is the wrath against those who have the mark of the Beast. 

DIFFERENCE WITH THE TRADITIONAL DISPENSATIONAL VIEW

Note the difference:

The tribulation is against those who don’t have the mark of the beast, these are the true Christians.

The Day of the Lord is against those who have the mark of the beast).

SIGNS IN THE SKY

The Day of the Lord will start with signs in the sky

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31).

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20).

Immediately after the distress [i.e. tribulation] of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.” (Matt 24:29-30)

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon  turned blood red” (Rev 6:12).

PRE-WRATH RAPTURE

Then God will gather his elects (the pre-wrath rapture: just before the end of the last 7 years of Daniel. It won’t be a secret event. The pre-wrath view stands on the position that the rapture will happen just before God starts pouring out the bowls of his wrath.

But at that time your people … will be delivered” (Dan 12:1).

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matt 24:31).

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16).

Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe” (Rev 14:15).  [I.E. brings the dead in Yeshua & those alive who don’t wear the mark of the beast.]

GOD’S WRATH

Then God will pour his wrath on the inhabitant of the earth (i.e. all those left on earth because they wear the mark of the beast):

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.'” (Rev 16:1)  

Yves P.

COMMENT BY ANDRIES

This Pre-wrath Dispensationalism seems like a fairly accurate interpretation of the events described in Revelation, by why do you try to force it to fit into Daniel 9’s last week? I still believe your interpretation of Daniel 9 is fundamentally flawed.  See Evaluation of the Four Major Interpretations of the 490 years of Daniel 9.

Articles in this series

(1) Introduction to the Dispensational interpretation
(2) When did the 490 years begin? 
(3) Is God’s or Satan’s covenant confirmed (9:27)?
(4) Who confirms the covenant; the Messiah or the prince?
(5) When are the last seven years?
(6) Other flaws in the Dispensational Interpretation
(7) When will Christ fulfill the goals in Daniel 9:24?

(8) Pre-wrath Dispensationalism

See also:

Summary of all Daniel 9 articles
Historical Messianic Interpretation

 

Who confirms the covenant 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 indicate 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 confirms 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 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.

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”) represents 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 the 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 the 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.

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

Is it God’s or Satan’s covenant that is confirmed in Daniel 9:27?

Ark of the CovenantIt is God’s covenant with Israel, for Daniel 9 follows the covenant pattern of Disobey – Exile – Repent – Covenant Renewal.  The 490 years, including the last seven, therefore are a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel.  This is confirmed by the phrase “confirm the covenant”  and by “the many”, with whom the covenant is confirmed, who are God’s people. 

Central Theme

Summary: God’s covenant with Israel is the backbone of the entire Daniel 9.  The covenant in 9:27 must therefore also be God’s covenant with Israel.

7 year covenantDispensationalism interprets the covenant in 9:27 as a covenant of an end time antichrist, but it is proposed here that it is God’s covenant with Israel because God’s covenant with Israel is the central theme throughout the entire Daniel 9.  This is explained in ‘The Covenant in Daniel 9‘, as well as in the previous article under the heading Prophetic Years, but this matter is critical for understanding Daniel 9.

Covenant with Israel in brief

God commanded Israel to allow the land to rest every seventh year (Leviticus. 25:1-2).  Israel was to work the land for six years (v3), but not on the seventh (v4).

God made this seven-year cycle part of the covenant by using it to count the number of years of exile (Lev. 26:35, 43).  Should Israel become unfaithful (Lev. 26:14-39), God will scatter them among the nations (Lev. 26:33) to allow the land to have its rest (v34, 43).  The period of exile would be equal to the number of years during which the land did not have its rest (v35, 43).

But if Israel confesses their sin (v40), God would renew His covenant with them (v42), that He might be their God (v45).

Daniel 9 follows this covenant pattern:

(1) The prophecy of Daniel 9 was received at the end of Israel’s exile of 70 years (Dan 9:2).  The exile was the covenant penalty for unfaithfulness: Israel was scattered to allow the land to have its rest (2Ch 36:21; Dan 9:11-13; cf. Lev. 25:2).

Daniel(2) In his prayer (9:4-19) Daniel confessed the justice of the sentence, Yahweh’s righteousness (9:7) and Israel’s guilt (9:5-11).  In this way, Daniel fulfilled the condition for covenant renewal after the exile (Leviticus 26:40-41).  On behalf of Israel, and he prayed for the renewal of Israel’s covenant privileges.

(3) The announcement “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city” (9:24) renewed God’s covenant with Israel in terms of Leviticus 26:42, 45, but limited to 490 years.

Conclusion

God’s covenant with Israel is, therefore, the central theme in the entire Daniel 9.  This implies that the promised 490 years is an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, and therefore that the last “one week” (9:27) is the final seven years of that time-limited renewed covenant.

Confirm the Covenant

Summary: The phrase “confirm the covenant” (9:27) 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 verse 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 His people.

The many

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).

The covenant in 9:27 is, therefore, God’s covenant with Israel.

Summary

Dispensationalism argues that the covenant in verse 27 is a new covenant made by an end-time Antichrist.  But it is God’s covenant with Israel, for the following reasons:

Central Theme – An analysis of the covenant in Leviticus 25-26 and of Daniel 9 shows that Daniel 9 follows the covenant pattern of Disobedience – Repentance – Covenant Renewal, and that the 490 years are a renewal of God’s covenant with Israel.

Confirm the Covenant – The phrase “confirm the covenant” (9:27 KJC) reflects the meaning of the verb gâbar.  It means that this covenant existed prior to the 70th week.

The manyThe many”, with whom the covenant is confirmed, most often refers to God’s people.

Of the six times that the word “covenant” appears in Daniel, it is four times explicitly God’s covenant with Israel.

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

WHEN did the 490 years (seventy weeks) begin and the first 483 end?

DispensationalismThis second article in the current series compares the time indications for the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9 to the Dispensational interpretation.  Dispensationalism takes the second decree of Artaxerxes (445/4 BC) as the one that restored Jerusalem.  But since this decree does not fit the time of Christ, Dispensationalism reduces the 483 years by about 7 years by interpreting these as 360-day years.  This brings us to Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which is then interpreted as the appearance of the Messiah, as predicted in 9:25.  Dispensationalism then assumes that God suspended His covenant with Israel at the Cross.

Decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem

9:25 reads:

from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem …” (NASB).

Seventy WeeksThe Seventy Weeks began with this decree.  As stated in the previous article, restore, in the original text, does not mean the same as rebuild.  Restore means to give the city back to its previous owner.

In the article Which decree four decrees by three different Persian kings over a period of about 90 years, are considered.

Cyrus:

King CyrusThe decree by Cyrus in 538/7 BC allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem and therefore to rebuild Jerusalem, but it did not restore Jerusalem to the nation to serve as their national capital.

Darius:

The decree by Darius I 520 BC simply confirmed Cyrus’ edict.    

Artaxerxes in 457 BC (Ezra 7:1-26):

As discussed in the article Which Decree, this decree, for the first time, granted autonomy of Judah.  It restored Jerusalem as judicial and executive capital to the nation.  In this decree, the king said, “Whoever does not obey the law of your God … must surely be punished by death …” The Persian king thereby made the Mosaic Law part of his own law, and granted authority to the Jews to govern themselves on the basis of the law of God.  It provides for a measure of judicial and civil autonomy unknown since the Babylonian desolation of Jerusalem and Judea about 130 years earlier.

A further indication that this is the decree intended by 9:25 is the fact that, if we add Seventy Weeks (490 years) to 457 BC, we come to the time of Christ.

Artaxerxes in 445/4 BC (Neh. 1-2):

Nehemiah, cupbearer to Artaxerxes IDispensationalism takes this as the decree that restored Jerusalem.  This decree, however, did not “restore” Jerusalem.  This decree only dealt with the physical construction of the city walls.  When Nehemiah asked for this decree, he did not even ask to rebuild the city.  He only asked for permission to go to Jerusalem (2:5) and for wood for the walls (2:8).  This decree was also too late to fit the time of Christ.

Dispensationalism claims that the second decree of Artaxerxes I for the first time authorized the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but that is also not true.  All four decrees above, by allowing the Jews to return to Judah and to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4; cf. Is. 45:1), implicitly allowed the Jews to rebuild their cities.  Please see the article ‘Which decree‘ for a fuller discussion.

Seventy Weeks – Prophetic Years

9:25 continues:

 “until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (9:25 NASB)

Dispensationalism prophetic yearsDispensationalism proposes that the Messiah Prince is Jesus Christ and that He would appear 7+62=69×7= 483 years after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (9:25), but 483 years from 445/4 BC brings us to about AD 40; far beyond the Cross.  Dispensationalism therefore proposes that the 483 years are “prophetic years” of 360 days each; not 365 days.  This gives a total of 173,880 days (483 x 360), which is equal to 476 solar years plus some days.  In this way the 483 years are shortened by 7 years to fit the actual historical time from Artaxerxes’ second decree to the crucifixion, assuming the crucifixion was in AD 33 or AD 32.

However, as discussed in The Covenant in Daniel 9, the covenant pattern forms the framework for the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9.  Since the covenant is based on Israel’s seven-year cycle, and since the Seventy Weeks are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, these must be literal years.  To explain:

Sabbath Years

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 the land had to rest (v4).  In this way, the years on the Jewish calendar were divided into sevens, where each seventh year is a Sabbath.

Warning of exile

Leviticus 26, which contains the covenant promises and warnings, warned Israel that it would be in exile for every Sabbath year not observed.  While they are in exile, the land will enjoy its rest.  The Sabbath years were therefore made part of the covenant threat of exile.

490 years of disobedience

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

Seventy Weeks renewed covenant

The prophecy of Daniel 9 therefore extended God’s covenant with Israel for a new cycle of Seventy Weeks, in which every seventh year will be a Sabbath year.  The Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 refer to these weeks of years, and therefore are literal solar years.

This confirms that the second decree of Artaxerxes does not fit the time of Christ.

Difference in dates

The second decree of Artaxerxes I is dated by most dispensationalists to 445 BC, but by some to 444 BC:

Interpreters that use March 14, 445 BC as the date of the decree (e.g. Sir Robert Anderson) count 173880 days to end on 6th April, AD 32 as the date for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Interpreters that use March 5, 444 BC as the date of the decree (e.g. Hoehner) count 173880 days to March 30, AD 33 as the date for the triumphal entry, and the crucifixion six days later on April 5, AD 33.

Dispensationalism sometimes claims that its calculations fit the historical events precisely, but the difference in the dates places doubt over such claims.

Triumphal entry

Daniel 9:25 reads:

from the issuing of a decree … until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks“.

In other words, the Messiah would appear 483 years after the decree.

In Dispensationalism the “Messiah the Prince” (the anointed in the KJV) is Jesus Christ and 9:25 refers to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem; 5 days before His crucifixion.  However, 9:25 refers to the appearance of the Messiah; not His disappearance.  It seems to say that the Messiah will commence His ministry at the end of the 69 weeks; not end His ministry.

Jesus baptizedJesus did not begin His ministry at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  He began His work as Messiah about three years earlier at His baptism, where He was “anointed” and introduced to Israel:

John the Baptist said, “so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water” (John 1:31).

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38).

God proclaimed this Anointed One to be His Son or King (Mark 1:9-11; cf. Ps. 2:6, 7) on the day of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist.

Covenant suspended at the Cross

As stated, in Dispensationalism the first 483 years came to an end at Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (a few days before His death), with the last seven years postponed to the end of the age.

However, Seventy Weeks (490 years) are promised by God as years of Jewish preference (“for your people and your holy city”), and the preference which Jews enjoyed continued after the Cross.

Early Church History

During the first few years after the Cross the Holy Spirit only came on Jews and the gospel was preached only to Jews.  The church consisted only of the “circumcised” (cf. 10:45; i.e. Jews) and they did not associate with the uncircumcised (Acts 10:34-35).  See Jerusalem Phase of the Early Church.

About three or four years after the Cross the Jews persecuted these Jewish Christians, commencing with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7; 8:1). See Judea and Samaria Phase of the Early Church.

Immediately following this persecution (Acts 10) Peter received his dream of the unclean beasts (Acts 10:19-20).  Up to that point in time these Christian Jews kept their distance from Gentiles, as all Jews did.  But through this vision God told him, and the church, to preach the gospel also to Gentiles (v34-35).  Simultaneously the Holy Spirit suddenly and powerfully led the Christians to take the gospel to the uncircumcised (non-Jews).  At that time the period of Jewish preference came to an end.

End of the Seventy Weeks

The prophecy does not mention any specific event for the end of the Seventy Weeks, but it is more or less obvious that the end of the Seventy Weeks is also the end of God’s covenant with Israel.  In other words, we should be able to identify some event in history that indicates the end of God’s covenant with Israel.  It is proposed here that the Seventy Weeks came to an end when the Holy Spirit led the Christians to take the gospel to non-Jews.

Stoning of StephenThis conclusion is supported by Stephen’s speech.  Both Daniel’s prayer and Stephen’s speech are based on God’s covenant with Israel.  While Daniel confessed the sins of his people and prayed for the mercy promised in the covenant, Stephen’s speech was an announcement of God’s judgment in terms of the covenant.  In other words, Stephen announced the end of the Seventy Weeks.

These three or four years after the Cross were, therefore, part of the 490 years.  Please see the article, Stoning of Stephen, for more detail.

Summary

Decree The 490 years began with “a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”.  Restore, in the original text, does not mean to rebuild.  Restore means to give the city back to its previous owner.  The decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC restored Jerusalem as judicial and executive capital to Israel.  This decree also fit the time of Christ.  Dispensationalism takes the second of Artaxerxes (445/4 BC) as the decree that restored Jerusalem.  But this decree only dealt with the physical construction of the city walls.  This decree also does not fit the time of Christ.

Prophetic Years The second decree of Artaxerxes does not fit the time of Christ.  Dispensationalism, therefore, reduces the first 483 years by about 7 years by interpreting these as “prophetic years” of 360 days each; rather than literal years of 365 days each.  However, the covenant pattern forms the framework for Daniel 9.  Since the covenant is based on Israel’s seven-year cycle, and since the 490 years are an extension of God’s covenant with Israel, these are literal years.

Difference in datesDifferent Dispensational interpretations use different years for Artaxerxes’s decree and for the Cross.  This raises some doubt over to the calculations.

Triumphal entryMessiah the Prince” will appear after 69 weeks (9:25).  In Dispensationalism this is His triumphal entry into Jerusalem; 5 days prior to His crucifixion.  But that was not His appearance; it was His disappearance.  Jesus began His work as Messiah about three years earlier at His baptism, where He was anointed and introduced to Israel.

Covenant suspended at the CrossDispensationalism assumes that God suspended His covenant with Israel at the Cross, but for three or four years after the Cross, when the Holy Spirit came with power on the disciples, the gospel was preached only to Jews.  This period of Jewish preference only came to an and when Stephen announced God’s judgment in terms of the covenant.  These three or four years after the Cross were, therefore, part of the 490 years.

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