Daniel’s Seventieth Week Is Yet Future
My series which dealt with Preterism focused mainly on the Olivet Discourse. There are events that we must concede were fulfilled in A.D. 70 if we are to be fair about the whole debate. But there are other events which simply have not been fulfilled in the way that the epistles further revealed that they would be fulfilled.
But now I’d like to go back to Daniel chapter 9 to discuss why I continue to call myself a Futurist. Every eschatology student must have a good grasp of the vision of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. The background (before Gabriel reveals that there will be seventy weeks, or seventy "sevens") is that Daniel has come to a revelation by reading the prophecies of Jeremiah which state that Jerusalem would lay desolate for only seventy years. These prophecies are found in Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10 (read in context) and are mentioned in II Chronicles 36:21 and Ezra 1:1. So Daniel finds himself smack in the middle of the intersection of fulfilled prophecy. Daniel reads the prophecy that after the 70 years have been accomplished that Babylon would be punished, then sees that it has been fulfilled as Belshazzar is slain. Daniel chapter 9 occurs during the first year of Darius the Mede. So Daniel has witnessed Babylon’s punishment for her sins against Israel signifying that the 70 years of desolation has come to an end, see also Daniel 5. What next?
Daniel understood that unless His nation repented as a whole, that the kingdom would not be restored to Israel. So Daniel does what we find many of the prophets doing. He begins confessing the sins of His people on their behalf. While most of His prayer is describing the ways in which Israel has transgressed the law of Moses, there is one item of supplication toward the end of his prayer. Daniel asks that God would cause His face to shine upon His sanctuary which was presently desolate. Does Daniel believe that by His confession that perhaps the rest of the nation will repent and believe? Does Daniel think that God may restore the Shekinah glory to the temple?
Whatever the case, we should remember that it had been revealed to Daniel previous to this, that there would be a period of time in which the Medo-Persian Empire would rule. This was the empire which had just defeated Babylon. Then Daniel also knew of two other empires which would follow this one. Then during the fourth empire, ten kings would appear. So it is safe to say that if Daniel would think back on what had already been revealed to him, he would know that there was much more to be fulfilled before the kingdom was given into the hands of the saints. Whether or not Daniel equated the temple worship being restored with the establishment of the reign of the Son of Man remains to be seen.
With that in mind, the angel Gabriel expresses a love for Daniel and a personal interest that he be able to understand with great detail the events which would follow in the immediate future. Gabriel outlines seventy "sevens" during which time God would "wrap it all up", so to speak. My study is not going to be exhaustive, but to focus on the reasons why the Preterist view is in error is saying that Daniel’s seventieth week has been completely fulfilled, or partially fulfilled. Before going any further, please read Daniel 9:24-27.
The first segment is seven "sevens" and sixty two "sevens". Gabriel links these two together and so do I. Why didn’t Gabriel just say sixty nine "sevens"? Some believe in a gap. I point toward the reestablishment of the Sabbath year calendar as outlined in the law of Moses. Whatever the case, at the beginning of the sixty nine "sevens" we have a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. At the end of the sixty nine "sevens" we have Messiah. I’m not going to debate decrees or a possible gap. Let’s just keep it simple for the sake of refuting Preterism. There was a decree to rebuild Jerusalem, then over the course of a period of time which included 483 years on this prophetic timetable, Messiah did appear. The sixty nine "sevens" are sevens of years as the background of the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah makes perfect sense.
Here’s the refutation of the Preterist view.
Daniel’s seventy weeks concerns the city of Jerusalem. The city would be rebuilt during the sixty nine "sevens". Messiah would be cut off after that time and the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed along with the sanctuary. The agent responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary is known as the people of the prince that shall come. So immediately after the sixty nine "sevens", we have a period of time where there will be a Jerusalem which is once again desolate. But didn’t God promise that these seventy weeks were for the purpose of bringing all of this to an end? True. But we still have one seven year period to go. Conclusion: After the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., the seventy weeks could not have been fulfilled since God had not brought the desolation of Jerusalem to an end.
The sixty nine "sevens" do not mention that the temple will be rebuilt, which is odd since that was one of the main points in Daniel’s prayer. However, it is assumed that the sanctuary will be standing at the time of Messiah since just after Messiah’s death, the sanctuary is destroyed once again. So we can safely assume that during the sixty nine "sevens" that the sanctuary will be rebuilt even if it doesn’t specify. After the sanctuary and city of Jerusalem are destroyed, there is another seven year period during which the sanctuary must be intact once again. There is no mention of the sanctuary being rebuilt after it is destroyed shortly after Messiah’s death, but there was no mention of it being rebuilt during the sixty nine "sevens" either. Yet we know it would happen since the prophecy assumes it will be there, and fulfilled prophecy tells us that it was rebuilt.
So without knowing the end of the story, we can safely conclude just by studying this passage, that during the sixty nine "sevens", the sanctuary will be rebuilt, then destroyed after Messiah’s death, then when the last seven year period begins, it must have been rebuilt by that time again in order for the events of Daniel 9:27 to occur. During that seven year period, the sacrifices are put to a stop and we have the mention of the term abomination making desolate. This would remind us of Daniel 8:11-13 which requires that the sanctuary be involved. This terminology will be further explained in Daniel 11:31 but that hasn’t been given yet at this point in the prophecy. Note: Those who want to spiritualize the abomination of desolation are missing one of the original points of the vision of Daniel’s seventy weeks. The subject matter is the sanctuary in Jerusalem.
Who is the prince in the phrase "the people of the prince that shall come"? There is Messiah the Prince which is mentioned, but the prophecy states that Messiah will be cut off. So in the context of Gabriel’s prophecy, Messiah would be no more. Plus, how could Messiah, whose destiny is to rule from Jerusalem, be responsible for bringing devastation and destruction upon Jerusalem and the sanctuary? Instead, let us remember that Daniel has already had a vision which would lay out a sequence of 4 empires, ten kings during the final empire, then a little horn or king would appear among the ten kings. This king of fierce countenance would be responsible for persecuting the saints. While not acknowledging the presence of this "prince" in verse 26, the people of this prince are present to destroy Jerusalem and the sanctuary. Let me safely conclude that the people of the fourth empire would be the ones responsible for the destruction shortly after Messiah’s death. Then if we take the wording at face value which states, "the people of the prince that shall come", we can conclude that the prince would come shortly after the destruction of the sanctuary and holy city. At the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, he is still the prince who shall come. You follow?
So the sixty nine weeks, or 483 years, is a time period which is clearly defined. It begins with a decree and ends with Messiah’s death. After Messiah’s death, there are events of destruction and the mention of an ongoing war which will have continuous desolation throughout. But when we come to that final seven year period, the sanctuary must have been rebuilt.
Who makes the covenant in verse 27? It has been supposed by many Preterists that it is Messiah making an everlasting covenant at the beginning of this seven year period. This would allow Daniel’s seventieth week (or at least the first three and one half years of it) to have been fulfilled in the first century A.D. But this covenant that is made is only confirmed for one "seven". Messiah’s covenant is eternal. The same "he" who makes the covenant, also causes the sacrifice to cease, and commits a desolation because of an abomination. The language used here is congruous with descriptions of the little horn of Daniel 7:8, 20, 24, the little horn of Daniel 8:9-14, the king of fierce countenance of Daniel 8:23-25, and later we shall see similarities with the king of the time of the end in Daniel 11:36-45. The little horn of Daniel 8:9-14 takes away the daily sacrifice. During his time, the sanctuary is trodden underfoot. He also commits the transgression of desolation. We have to remember that we cannot separate Daniel’s vision of seventy weeks from the other prophecies in the book of Daniel. They are all interrelated. There is one ominous end times figure who is an evil king overshadowing all of these prophecies, including this bogus covenant in Daniel 9:27.
Let us also remember that in the context of Gabriel’s prophecy, Messiah is now dead. There is no resurrection prophesied here. Messiah dies, destruction comes upon Jerusalem, then later someone makes a covenant. The covenant is not connected in any way with Messiah’s death according to the structure of the prophecy.
The main point of this study is to prove that the original language of the prophecy assumed a gap in between the sixty nine weeks and the seventieth week. Nowhere does the prophecy state or even assume that they are contiguous. There must be a time following Messiah’s death for the destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. At that time only the people of the evil prince to come are present, and not the evil prince himself. There is an ongoing war which will be characterized by desolations. Then the little horn, the king of fierce countenance, however you want to term him, he confirms a covenant with many for that final seven year period. But in the midst of this time, he causes the sacrifices to be stopped, and initiates the abomination of desolation.
I grow weary of Dispensationalists who just assume this point in prophecy and never get around to proving their case. They play the "hidden church age" card, insisting that the prophetic time clock has officially stopped. I also wanted to address this issue since some may think that I hold to Preterism just because I point to 70 A.D. fulfillment for certain events in the Olivet Discourse. I will mention that the destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary that we just read about occurred in 70 A.D. So a portion of Daniel’s prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks is Preterist in the sense that it is in the past. But Daniel’s seventieth week, that final seven year period, remains entirely future. I welcome rebuttals to this post.
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