Daniel’s 70th Week: History or Future?
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This study will examine various views about the timing of Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy and whether we should view it as historically fulfilled entirely or not. In reality it is just the final week of seven years that is the focus of this study as both preterists and futurists would agree at this point that the first 69 weeks of 483 years has been fulfilled in its entirety. It is the question of the final seven years that needs to be addressed. That being said, there is some wordplay including other verses in these views so I will include the passages in each view with comments for timing of the subjects.
I am coming to this study with several conclusions that came from both the more wholistic study of Daniel 9 and the more focused study of Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy. If you have not read through those studies, I would highly advise that you do so first.
70th Week Fully Historical
There are many variances even within each of these views so I'm sure I will have missed many aspects or find little detail about them. These views all place the 70 weeks in their entirety as being complete, meaning the scope of the 70 weeks is fulfilled. They will typically tie historical events to that of prophecy so there are clearly variations of interpretation to my view above that will be highlighted here.
167 BC: Antiochus IV Epiphanes & Maccabees
Given the timing of this view, they don't recognize Yeshua as the Messiah as He had not yet arrived. Variations of this view are taken by some critical scholars, Jews, and others who must find a way for this not to point to Yeshua. The word messiah, H4899 - mâshîyach, simply means anointed, a consecrated king, priest, or saint. As such there are a couple of options presented for this anointed prince, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC) because he was God's instrument of judgement, or Onias III, because he was the High Priest (?-175 BC) who was murdered.
167 BC Counterpoints:
30 AD: Yeshua's Ministry, Death, & End of Gospel to the Jews
30 AD Counterpoints:
70 AD: Jewish Revolt, Destruction of Jerusalem & Temple, & Masada
The above translation comes from WilliamL, who holds a historical view of Daniel 9:27.
70 AD Counterpoints:
Full Historical Counterpoints:
There are several counterpoints that apply to all the full historical fulfillment theories. I'll mention here instead of restating them multiple times above.
Yeshua prophesied that the end would be the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet. We know because this is stated to be after the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations. Thereore, “the end” coming is tied to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. The Gospel had most certainly not been preached in all the world to fulfill this order of prophecy.
As we've seen up to modern times it certainly has been. So what if this is not the verse in Daniel Christ meant? Only six times in scripture is some form of abomination of desolation used, two times by Yeshua referring to Daniel and four times in Daniel. While all six are tied to the abomination of desolation, only four mentions exist in the book of Daniel:
I would posit the fact that Daniel 12:1,11 are tied to the same unparalleled tribulation Yeshua spoke of in the Olivet Discourse at the end, that it is indeed yet future. Matthew 24:15-11, Mark 13:14-17, Jeremiah 30:4-7, Daniel 12:1
That leaves this passage in Daniel as the final related verse in Daniel, which is tied to God's dealing with Israel and Jerusalem. If Daniel 9:27 was historically fulfilled that means Daniel's prayer to understand Israel and Jerusalem's future ended in 73/4 AD, yet we know from other passages that God is not done with Israel. Jeremiah 31:35-37
If the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24 was done in Christ, why are the events of this final week taking place after the Messiah was cut off in 30 AD? Why would an abomination of desolation, rarely used in prophecy, suddenly be introducing another event unrelated to either of the two primary mentions?
Finish the Transgression
The specific context of this prophecy given to Daniel is determined upon Israel and Jerusalem. Daniel 9:24 The rebellion and sin of Israel as a nation has always been their adultery in going after other gods, which in the context of Christ's first coming was their lack of acceptance and obedience to the promised Messiah they rejected at that time. So the transgression will be over after the remnant of Israel calls upon the name of the Lord, accepting Yeshua as their Messiah. Yeshua said that this would be when Israel would see Him again. Matthew 23:37-39
The end of the 69th week came at the beginning of Yeshua's ministry in 27 AD. 2½ years later Yeshua was crucified on Passover in 30 AD. Just before this, He declared Israel's blindness. Luke 19:41-44 | Romans 11:1-11 | 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 This blindness is to last until the fulness of the Gentiles. Romans 11:25-27
The fact that the nation of Israel is still blinded and has not accepted Yeshua points to the transgression remaining unfinished and this 70th week being yet unfulfilled.
Seal Up Vision and Prophecy
Part of the scope of the 70 weeks prophecy was “to seal up the vision and prophecy.” To seal up is H2856, that is make an end, mark, seal (up), stop. Whether one takes that to mean all prophecy is fulfilled or that no more prophecy would be given in the context of Israel and Jerusalem within the scope of that 70 weeks can be debated. Domitian was emperor of Rome from 81 to 96 AD. Eusebius records the winners of the Greek Olympiads and the ascention of the emperors.
“ The Greek Olympiads
Irenaeus, while writing about having restraint in identifying the antichrist, mentioned off-hand that John beheld the apocalyptic vision toward the end of Domitian's reign.
“We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.” | Irenaeus (130-202 AD) wrote in Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 30)
This means that John received Revelation between 81 and 96 AD, at least 11 years after 70 AD, but if toward the end of Domitian's reign, likely longer. That John was banished to the island of Patmos by Domitian is further confirmed from his writing.
“ Domitian, having shown great cruelty toward many, and having unjustly put to death no small number of well-born and notable men at Rome, and having without cause exiled and confiscated the property of a great many other illustrious men, finally became a successor of Nero in his hatred and enmity toward God. He [Domitian] was in fact the second that stirred up a persecution against us, although his father Vespasian had undertaken nothing prejudicial to us.
“But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, voted that Domitian's honors should be cancelled, and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them. It was at this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition.” | Church History (Book 3, Chapter 20:10-11), Eusebius (260-339 AD)
This is clearly a prophetic vision of the future and therefore within the scope of the 70 weeks prophecy. This means that after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD the vision and prophecy was not sealed up and finished as there was both more vision and prophecy to be given and fulfilled.
These church fathers were not attempting to make a point about when John's revelation was, they were sidebars to the content they were writing. As chuch fathers that close to the time it happened, I would expect they would know the timing of the apocalyptic vision of John on the island of Patmos. I know this is not enough for everyone, but it is for me. However, there are more that build on these less directly in the references section below.
Unfulfilled Prophecy and 3½ Years
There are unparalleled prophetic events that are tied to the abomination of desolation and 3½ years. These, in turn, are related to other prophecy that has clearly not happened historically. It shouldn't be forgotten that Daniel 9:27 is the only mention of this seven year prophetic time period and that dividing it in the midst is 3½ years.
Recalling that John's vision of Revelation took place after 81 AD, which would mean it is intended to be future to all suggested historical fulfillments.
70th Week Partially Historical
I only know of one particular view in this area that is covered below. In general this holds that the week is divided into two parts and a gap exists between the fulfillment of the first 3½ and the second 3½ years.
30 AD & Future: Yeshua's Ministry, Death, Gap, & AoD Future
This view uses the poetic form of Hebraic Antithetical Parallelism to rearrange and uncover the true meaning of the verses.
Arranging such that A1 and A2 are speaking of the same thing and B1 and B2 are as well, we can see that this idea of antithetical parallelism associastes A1 (the Messiah's arrival and death) with A2 (him confirming a covenant with many for one week and bringing an end to sacrifice and offering in the midst of that week). It then also associates B1 (the people of the prince to come destroying the city and sanctuary) with B2 (on the wing of abominations is one who makes desolate). So A relates the verses to Messiah and B relates the verses to the destroyer.
With the first 69 weeks ending in fall of 27 AD, it is assumed that the 70th final week starts when the first 69 weeks end. In a normal reading of the 70 weeks prophecy, this wouldn't make sense because it is after the 69 weeks that both the Messiah is cut off and the city and temple are destroyed.
However, if you read it in this poetic style and scramble the verses, it says that Messiah's ministry began with a confirmation of the covenant for seven years and in the midst of that seven years be cut off. This strengthening of the covenant is therefore related to the New Covenant. Matthew 26:28 Because we know Christ's sacrifice was the eternal atonenement for sin to them that believe, the effectiveness of the sacrifice and offering was nullified and effectively stopped.
Similarly, the people of a future prince destroy the city and temple in 70 AD, yet the last part of verse 27 remains yet future and will begin with the abomination of desolation performed by the prince that is to come whose people destroyed the city and sanctuary in 70 AD.
“What good is understanding this prophecy? First, on chronological grounds, it destroys three of false Christianity's holidays surrounding Jesus: Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. Second, it puts Christ's ministry and the founding of the church in their proper historical context, helping explain and vindicate the Bible. Third, it enhances our understanding of prophecy, and helps us to watch for the correct world events as the end draws closer. Christ gave us the true signs of His coming, so we do not have to look for the false sign of Antichrist's treaty with the Jews.” | 'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...' by Richard T. Ritenbaugh, Forerunner, "Prophecy Watch," December 1994
70th Week Fully Future
Much more detail is covered in the study of Daniel 9 and the more focused study of Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy, but I would like to present my futurist interpretation of this prophecy in the same format as above. For more detail, check those studies out.
My interpretation is that the final 70th week is entirely future, but could begin at any time. There are several reasons for this I have covered above in looking at the historical perspectives, but a big reason is that a plain reading of the prophecy fits with the rest of scripture in every way I've looked at it. I'm open to having missed something, but if the plain reading makes sense and does not contradict other prophecy, and even confirms it, then that is always my default position.
The historical nature of the first 69 weeks goes from the combination of the command to restore and build Jerusalem and Israel starting to follow the Law again, when Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fall of 457 BC, after the Babylonian exile. It extends to be the fall of 27 AD when Yeshua began His ministry. Over the next 2½ years He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and fulfilled many prophecies and prophesied many new ones. As depicted in the titles of the Old and New Testaments, He came to make a new Covenant with mankind, forgiveness of sin, not reminders of it. His Law written on our hearts and distilled down to loving God and your neighbor as yourself, representing all the law and the prophets, the shadows of love.
Yeshua was then cut off on 14 Nisan, April 5, 30 AD, 2½ years after His “arrival” starting His ministry thereby fitting the prophecy that it was after the 69 weeks that Messiah would be cut off, but not for Himself. I actually came to the conclusion of the 30 AD crucifixion separate from anything related to Daniel's 70 weeks, from scripture, history, and lunar cycles tied to the Hebrew calendar.
40½ years later, on 9 Av, August 5, 70 AD, Yeshua's prophesied destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, Matthew 23:37-39 | Luke 13:32-35 | Luke 19:41-44, was accomplished by Titus and the Roman army and it's mercenaries. This culminated in the last Jewish resistance committing suicide before the Roman army breached the gates at Masada 986 days later on the last day of Pesach Seder (Unleavened Bread) 18 Nisan, April 16, 73 AD. At the end of the Jewish-Roman war, the Jewish people were decimated and disbursed throughout the world for the next several millennia until the 19th and 20th centuries as they began to return to the land before and after the establishment of the State of Israel on 5 Iyyar, May 14, 1948.
Following these events there is no seven year period that fits the description of the last verse. However, the clear exact day prophecies tied to the end that has not yet come, and showing the same period of time as half of seven years, should be sufficient to tie the 70th week to a future time and disconnected from the historical fulfillment of the previous verses. (See Daniel 12:5-11, Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:5) Since Daniel 9:27 is the only mention of this prophetic seven year period, and Yeshua referred to Daniel when speaking of the arrival of the end at the abomination of desolation, it seems clear to me that a plain reading is the best reading. It is, however, not the only reading and so we'll examine some of the theories that either hold a fully historical or partial historical fulfillment of the 70th week of Daniel.
It has been symbolized to mean the stopping of the daily was accomplished by Christ on the cross in 30 AD and the remainder of the week was completed up to the conversion of Paul and the Gospel going to the Gentiles, thereby fulfilling the Gospel first going to the Jews and moving to the Gentiles after their blindness. This necessitates that “he” is defined as Yeshua and the language “for the overspreading of abominations he shall make desolate” as referring to Yeshua. I don’t see a way to symbolize away the contradition that Christ would overspread abominations given that the whole idea is that abominations are detestible to God.
The other view is that the first 3½ years referred to Christ’s ministry the same as the complete historical 30 AD view, but a pause happened at the cross and the abomination of desolation will be yet future and instead of the whole seven years being future, only the last 3½ years will be. While I could accept a pause between stopping the daily and the abomination of desolation, as with the other view, I have issue with the language that Christ’s death and resurrection stopped the daily. Symbolically it accomplished the fulfillment of what was foreshadowed in the sacrifices God commanded of Israel and the veil was rent symbolizing there was no longer a separation of man and God through Christ. However, the daily was not literally stopped and for the next 40 years until the destruction of the temple it continued. Furthermore, it was never possible that any of the sacrificial system atoned for sin, but was just a foreshadow. Hebrews 10 While His death and resurrection took away the first offered by the Law to establish the second offered by His blood, this also necessitates that it is Yeshua who strengthened an existing covenant for just 7 years, which does not fit with the eternal covenant that He established anew, not a strengthening of the Mosaic Covenant.
These also both assume a 3½ year ministry of Christ. The views I’ve seen on this seem to center around mentions of 3 Passovers that Yeshua went to. However, the last one was the one in which He was crucified, which would only mean a 2½ year ministry going just off this. I don’t believe there is enough evidence I’m aware of to define the length of this period.
There is also a historical fulfilled perspective that the whole of it was completed in 70 AD, from the time Vespasian arrives in Ptolemais to begin his campaign in Israel in April 67 AD to the 9th of Av in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed, the abomination of desolation. It then continues until April 16, 73 AD when Masada was breached and the last of the Jewish rebellion ended, effectively ending the campaign against Israel by Rome. The historical events do not fit with the precision of the exact day prophecies as we’ve seen already fulfilled in the 2,300 evenings and mornings in Daniel 8 or even just the first part of the 70 weeks.
Then there is the more common future view where the first 69 weeks were fulfilled up to the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry when He officially “arrived” as the Messiah. Then a gap exists until some future point where the events of the verse will unfold. This gap is necessitated by the events surrounding the time Yeshua is pointing to Daniel for. These have not yet occurred and since Yeshua prophesied Israel’s blindness and her destruction just before His crucifixion, it would seem this gap is necessary. Matthew 23:37-39 | Luke 13:34-35
Of course there are some valid points to all these views and there’s a lot of varied interpretations to get to the points. Daniel 9:24 defines the scope of this prophecy in somewhat general terms, which allows for varied interpretations. My take is that Yeshua points to Daniel regarding a very specific event that would be an unmistakable sign to God’s people that the end has arrived. This event would be the final warning for those in Judea to flee. Daniel mentions the abomination of desolation in different ways four times in scripture, this being one of them. This can’t be a historical mention because the historical event was over 190 years before Christ and this is placed after the Messiah.
Using extremely similar language and tying the stopping of the daily and the abomination of desolation in all four cases seems an obvious correlation being given by the Holy Spirit to us through Daniel’s dreams and visions. The unparalleled tribulation did not happen in 30 or 70 AD at the crucifixion and neither did the events Christ depicted as following the unparalleled tribulation where God’s wrath is poured out after the sixth seal. For this reason primarily, I place the whole of the 70th week as a future time period. We aren’t given much in the way of events for the first half of it, although like others I have some theories about it related to the first and third seals.
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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.