The Determined Time
Daniel's Seventy Weeks
In Two Parts
He Shall Confirm the Covenant
“27a And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week”
Here we have the first mention of the final week, the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy, which follows immediately after the 69th week. I know what some of you might be thinking.
A small boy was standing in front of his class at school demonstrating his mastery of counting to 100. He was tooling along with the numbers, "67-68-69", then he stopped. The teacher asked him why he stopped at 69? He replied, "My daddy is a dispensational preacher and he told me there is a gap between 69 and 70. So I was just giving it a gap." The teacher responded, "Child, there is no gap between 69 and 70. I think your daddy might have been playing a trick on you."
If you've been taught there's a gap between the 69th and 70th week, someone has played a trick on you.
"No! There's a gap, there's got to be a gap! What have you done with my gap!?"
To be honest, I didn't do anything with it, because it never existed except in the minds of men who had an agenda to propogate. You see without the gap between the 69th and 70th weeks, dispensationalism as a system, will breathe its last breath. There is nothing in this passage of Daniel that hints at a gap between the 7 sevens and the 62 sevens, or the 69 sevens(7+62) and the final seven.
I'm sorry but it is just not there. If you can be honest with yourself and the text in question, you will see that it just doesn't exist. If you are seeing it, then you are doing some good old eisegesis, instead of what you should be doing, Biblical exegesis. So, let's continue, shall we?
Who is the “he” that shall confirm the covenant with many? It can only be the one person who is spoken of, the Messiah Prince, Jesus the Christ. What covenant is He to confirm? The Hebrew word translated, “confirm” is the word, "gabar", which means, to prevail, have strength, be strong, be powerful, be mighty, be great. In this case here, it means to “confirm, to give strength in covenant.”
What covenant did Jesus confirm and give strength to?
Even though a strong argument can be made for the confirming being applied to the Old Covenant, it will become obvious that the covenant confirmed, or made strong by the Messiah Prince was the New Covenant which was inagurated by His Blood. As pointed out in the writing entitled, Our Covenant Man, Jesus Himself is the strength and foundation of the New Covenant.
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;”
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
The Lord whom they seek, is the Messenger of the Covenant.
“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.”
What does it mean that Jesus is “made a surety” of a better covenant?
The word surety (greek, engous) is a legal term used in contracts. It means guarantee. It points to one who accepts the legal obligation for the performance or payment of a legal action, on the behalf of another. Jesus, as the Engous, the guarantee, takes upon himself the performance and payment of the legal obligation required by the covenant.
It is in this sense that He makes or confirms the New Covenant, by being the guarantee of a better, literally a “stronger” covenant, based upon better, or stronger blood. In the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer emphasizes how much Better the New Covenant is than the Old. The word "better" is found 13 times in Hebrews, suggesting one of its main themes.
We have here the witness of Scripture, that Jesus, the Messiah Prince, is made “a covenant for the people” (Isa. 42:6). He is the “messenger of the covenant” (Malachi 3:1 - messenger means representative), who is the Lord Himself.
He is the One who came to fill up what was lacking in the Law and the Prophets. What was lacking in the Law and the Prophets, but obedience and fulfillment? He fulfilled the Law by being the Perfectly Obedient Israelite.
Because of His Obedience and Sacrifice, He has become the guarantor of a better and stronger covenant, the eternal covenant in His Blood.
Notice the text of Daniel states that He would "confirm the covenant with many for one week," not that the covenant would last for one week. It is the confirming of the covenant that would occur for one week (7 years). The "Messenger of the covenant" appeared at the beginning of the final week, was cut off in the midst of it, and this 'cutting off' was the cause of 'making the sacrifice and the oblation to cease'.
There is no event given that would mark the end of this week. However, when we look at the record given in Acts, it would appear to fit that the stoning of Stephen would have occurred about 3 years after the cutting off of the Messiah. The stoning of Stephen would have been a public witness to how the gospel witness was rejected by those who were not counted among "the many."
Cause The Sacrifice to Cease
“27b in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease”
In the midst or middle of this 70th and final week, He, the Messiah Prince, shall cause “the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” How did He do this? Did He go into the temple and forcibly make them stop the sacrificial offerings? No, but he did so by His own perfect sacrifice. His own sacrifice on the cross made the temple sacrifices forever useless and obsolete.
In Hebrew 8:13, the writer states,
“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
He points to the fact that at the time of writing, the first covenant was considered decaying and waxing old, on the verge of disappearing.
One other point should be made about this phrase in verse 27. The verb, which is “he shall cause . . . to cease,” is in the Imperfect Mood. So what does this mean?
A verb in the Imperfect Mood denotes an action that has starting point, and will finish its action in the progress of time. This points to the death of Jesus as the starting point of the sacrifices and oblations being caused to cease. [Remember the veil of the temple being torn in two at Jesus' death, opening the way of access to God?] This is due to the fact that the death of Jesus satisfies the legal requirements of the Levitical offerings. However, they obliviously continued to be offered up in the temple, only fully ceasing when the temple was destroyed in AD 70.
Is there any evidence of Jesus’ death being the cause of this cessation? Yes, indeed there is. From the testimony given in rabbinic literature, we have some very compelling evidences that the death of Jesus was the initial starting point of the sacrifices and oblations be stopped. [I should point out I don't usually trust rabbinic literature much at all, however, in the very few instances when they actually give witness, even unknowingly, to the validity of Messiah's claims, then it is worth noting.]
What is this evidence? Glad you asked.
"Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open.”(Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p.156-157) This information is taken from the rabbis' Talmud, Yoma 39b.
Four things began to occur forty years before the Jerusalem temple was destroyed, which occurred in AD 70. This would place the starting point for these four events in AD 30. This also happened to be the year of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah Prince.
These four events as given, are these:
- The western lamp in the temple went out and would not stay lit.
- The lot cast for the Lord always came up in the left hand of the high priest.
- The crimson thread hung on the door of the temple did not turn white.
- The temple doors would open every night of their own accord.
Could it be a coincidence that all four of these things began to occur in the same year, AD 30? If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you.
1. The western lamp in the temple went out and would not stay lit.
The lampstand in the holy place of the temple, had seven bowls or ‘lamps’, each able to hold oil for lighting the interior of the Holy Place. The Western Lamp, or the lamp on the western most end of the lampstand, was always to remain lit, much like what we call an “eternal flame”. Every day the other lamps were lit from the flame of this western lamp.
However, beginning in AD 30, regardless of the efforts of the priests, they could not keep the western lamp lit. The constant light of the western lamp represented the presence of God among his people. The light going out indicated that the glory of God had departed. The temple had become “Icabod”.
2. The lot cast for the Lord always came up in the left hand of the high priest.
On the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the high priest would cast lots in choosing between the two goats used for offering of the scapegoat. Each lot was a different color, a black stone and a white stone. The white stone was inscribed with the name of the Lord and the black stone the name Azazel.
The goat chosen for the Lord was sacrificed, the other goat for Azazel was sent into the wilderness, bearing the sins of the people. Beginning in AD 30, the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand of the high priest, which was considered a bad omen. The chance of this happening every year for 40 years is astronomical. Your odds of winning the lottery are much better than the odds of this happening.
3. The crimson thread hung on the door of the temple did not turn white.
In conjunction with this miracle of the lot, the high priest would also tie a piece of scarlet cloth to the horn of the scapegoat, before it was sent away.
It was believed, that if the Lord had forgiven the nation of its sins, the scarlet cloth would turn white, according to Isaiah 1:18. A piece of the scarlet cloth that was tied to the horn of the goat, was taken and attached to the door of the temple. This way all could see when the scarlet cloth would turn white, signifying the offering had been accepted.
However, beginning with the Yom Kippur service in AD 30, and for the next 40 years, the scarlet cloth never turned white, signifying the sacrifices offered on Yom Kippur was not accepted by God, and their sins remained.
4. The temple doors would open every night of their own accord.
This particular miracle has more to do with the coming destruction of the temple than the ceasing of the sacrifices. However, it still speaks to the sacrifices being no longer needed.
Beginning in AD 30, every night the temple doors would swing wide open.
These were extremely huge, gold-plaited doors, which required 20 strong men to open and close them. Some of the common folks thought this was a good omen, but the more informed rabbis knew that it was an omen of the temple’s destruction.
"Said Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai to the Temple, 'O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. For it has been said, 'Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars'" (Zechariah 11:1) (Sota 6:3).
The weight of evidence that the 'he' who would cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease can be none other than Jesus the Messiah, is beyond dispute. There is no other person or explanation that fits the Biblical and historical evidence.
The idea that this prophecy speaks of some future antichrist that will cause the Jews to cease their sacrifices in a newly built temple, which remains to be seen if God will allow it, is nothing but pure hollywood. The Jews have tried twice before to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem, but both times they were stopped dead in their tracks. Will they be stopped again? Only God knows.
Overspreading of Abominations
27c “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
"the overspreading of abominations" - ‘overspreading’ refers to a bird spreading its wings, or the spread of an army encampment. The idea behind it is to cover completely, from one end to another. The base word literally means to be thrust into a corner. The idea seems to be that abominations will be spread out and stuffed into every corner of the city and temple. It is a most remarkable description of Jerusalem at the time of its demise. Every nook and cranny of the city was filled with abominations.
To recount the 'abominations' committed by the people in the holy city and the temple would be quite an extensive list. However, I will enumerate just a brief list to show how far the abominations spread out and filled every corner.
- Of course, the first and foremost abomination was the denial, rejection and crucifixion of their own Messiah, the Prince of Life. This alone would be sufficient.
- Those who adopted and followed the pharisaic traditions, committed the abomination of setting the Word of God aside and making it void in the lives of the people. Men's traditions became more important than the Word of God.
- During the seige and the war itself, the city for a great period was divided into three camps, each under the leadership of rebels who distained God, His prophets and their fellow Jews.
- The temple itself was filled with the blood of its own citizens. Josephus describes this bloodshed in so very many places. Here are just a few.
- Concerning the rebels, Josephus said, "these men rushed upon these holy places in their armor, that were otherwise unapproachable, and that while their hands were yet warm with the blood of their own people which they had shed; nay, they proceeded to such great transgressions."[Wars 6.2.3]
- Titus himself said,"Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this temple? and why do you pollute this holy house with the blood of both foreigners and Jews themselves?" [Wars 6.2.4
- "Now round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another, as at the steps going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies that were slain above [on the altar] fell down." (Wars 6.4.6)
- Speaking of when the Romans gained access to much of the city and began to go house to house, "When they were come to the houses to plunder them, they found in them entire families of dead men, and the upper rooms full of dead corpses, that is, of such as died by the famine;" [Wars 6.8.5]
- To show the extent of the abominable barbarity that the people had been reduced to, Josephus recounts the story of a noble woman, who cooked and ate her own son. [Wars 6.3.4] This was foretold by Moses in Deut. 28:56-57.
This is just a small sampling of some of the horrors, desecrations and abominations that had spread to every corner of the city and the temple. This is not even mentioning the murdering of the high priest, the rebels dressing as women and committing acts of "intolerable uncleanness."
Because of this abomination-filled city, “he shall make it desolate.” Again, the “he” can only be the Messiah Prince. He will make it desolate, even unto its consummation. ‘Consummation’ here means complete destruction, consumption, annihilation.
In His last visit to the temple, before His death, did He not say, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Because Jerusalem and its people have become filled to the brim with abominations, He will make it desolate even to its complete destruction and annihilation. This was perfectly fulfilled in AD 70, which Josephus also testifies to this extreme destruction.
80 year Error
If you've made it this far in this study on Daniel 9, thank you. However, we have come to the point where you might be looking for the exit. Why?
Because it should be apparent that if we hold to the decree of Cyrus as the starting point for the 490 years of the prophecy, we are not going to reach the time of the appearing of Messiah. That is, not according to the accepted chronology. Today's accepted chronology is based upon the work, or should I say, the best guesswork of one man, Ptolemy. More on him in a moment.
Cyrus' decree was given in the first year of his sole reign, which is universally accepted as 536 BC. So when we do the math, we are only going to reach to the year 53 BC.
536 BC - 483 years(69 sevens of years) = 53 BC.
According to the prophecy, the span of time from the decree given by Cyrus to the public manifestation of the Messiah Prince, is to be 483 years (69 sevens of years). We know from other historical markers given in the gospels, that Jesus made himself known to Israel in the fall of AD 26. So we are off by some 80 years.
So you can see the problem.
We have two ways of dealing with this problem.
- Leave it alone and let it stand. The prophecy states from the "going forth of the commandment" to the Messiah the Prince would be a total of 69 sevens. So the Messiah could manifest Himself at any point after 53 BC. This would leave us with a gap of only about 80 years, which is far better than one of 2,000+ years. However, since there is no hint in the text of a gap between any of the three sets of seven(s) [seven sevens, sixty-two sevens, one seven], then another solution must be sought.
- The real solution to this problem is to reconsider the chronology that is used to begin with. In the very detailed and thorough work of Rev. Anstey entitled, The Romance of Bible Chronolgy, he has shown that there is an 80-82 year error in the modern chronology used for reckoning the weeks of Daniel 9.
The present chronology used to count the weeks of Daniel comes from the second century AD astromoner, Ptolemy. Appearently Ptolemy was such an excellent astromoner, that his model for understanding the cosmos was gospel until the Capernicus' model replaced it in the 16th century. At this point, Ptolemy's cosmic model was shelved, but his chronology lived on. So what is the problem with his chronology?
As I understand it, history can be a tricky thing. In order to establish it, you need documentation. The history down to the Persian King, Darius Hystaspes, can be pretty well established. However, the period between his rule of the Persian empire and the time of Alexander the Great's defeat of the Persians, is quite murky. In fact, Anstey notes that the Persians themselves,"have no records of the period, these having been all swept away by the Greek and Mohammedan Invasions."(p.24)
One might asked about the Jewish reckoning of the Persian period. You might think that they would be careful to record such a time, since much of their history is tied up in this period. Well, you would be wrong. It is known that the present Jewish calendar is missing 240 years or more. That is a pretty good chunk of time not to account for. Besides, when is comes to the Persian period, Jewish tradition only assigns 52 years from the 1st year of Cyrus to Alexandar the Great (p.24). Ptolemy has assigned 205 years, "But if we take the account given in Nehemiah, and the years specified by the prophet Daniel, we shall find that the Persian Empire continued for a period of 123 years." (ibid) The difference between Ptolemy's count and that of the Scriptural record is 82 years (205-123=82 / 80 years counting exclusively).
If we accept the public appearance of Jesus the Messiah as being in AD 26, which I believe there is strong and sufficient evidence for, our count will go something like this.
AD 26 - 483 years (7 sevens + 62 sevens) = 457 BC for the 1st year of Cyrus, instead of the accepted 536 BC, a difference of 80 years.
456 BC - 123 years for Persian empire (Anstey's count) = 333 BC (to Alexander).
I realize that all this flies in the face of the accepted chronology, depending as it does on Ptolemy's Canon. However, each person must answer one simple question. "Do I accept the chronological record of the Inspired Scriptures or will I rely upon the record and guesswork of a heathen astronomoner? You will have to answer that one for yourself. I have made my choice.
Disclaimer: Although I don't agree with every conclusion that Anstey makes, the work of his chronology is excellent work. On this page, I have barely scratched the surface of all the evidence he gives for the error of Ptolemy's Canon. This is why you must investigate the matter for yourself. You can order a hard copy of Anstey's The Romance of Bible Chronology through Amazon.
Putting It All Together
God had determined [cut out, marked off] a period of Seventy sevens of time [490 years] for "thy people and thy holy city". This period of 490 years was cut out of time to accomplish some very specific things.
- to finish the transgression
- to make an end of sins
- to make reconciliation for iniquity
- to bring in everlasting righteousness
- to seal up the vision and prophecy
- to anoint the most Holy
The period of 490 years that had been "cut out/marked off" out of time, had a beginning point and a termination point. The beginning point was "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem." If one accepts the witness of God, this commandment can be none other than that given by Cyrus, King of Persia, for the reasons already stated here.
From the time the commandment was issued to the public appearance of the Messiah Prince, was to be a total of 69 weeks of years, or 483 years.
from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
Then after the 62 weeks of years had expired, the Messiah would be killed in a violent manner, "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself." He was not cut off for His own sin or fault, but "for the transgression of my people was he stricken." [Isaiah 53:8]
During the final seven years (which is the final seven of the Seventy), “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week”. Again, many have tried to make this "he" a future antichrist. However, for all the reasons given here, the only individual in view here is the Messiah Prince, mentioned in verse 25. The prince signified in the "people of the prince", and the "he" who confirms the covenant is one and the same with the Messiah Prince who is cut off for the transgressions of His people.
This same One, in the midst of the week, "shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” It is by the cutting off of the Messiah Prince, Jesus of Nazareth, the sacrifices and oblations are caused to cease, i.e., no longer are they needed to speak to man's sins, for He has addressed the issue in finality. As the writer of Hebrews stated, "now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Here he states that Jesus appeared "in the end of the world [age]." The Messiah Prince appeared at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrificing of Himself. What age did He appear at the end of? The age determined upon "thy people and thy city", the 490 years. The Messiah Prince was to appear after a total of 69 of the 70 weeks. In any method of counting, that is at the end of the determined period.
In AD 70, forty years after His cutting off, the sacrifices and oblations also ceased with finality. There were several signs noted in the rabbinical writings that the sacrifices were no longer accepted by God, during the forty years previous to the temple's destruction [See Here].
Not only were the sacrifices and oblations finished, but also the city and temple were doomed to destruction because of “the overspreading of abominations.” As it is described in Revelation, Jerusalem had become "the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
After the cutting off of the Messiah for the transgressions of His people, the next prophetic event is “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Notice it is the people of the coming prince that is responsible for the destroying of the city and the temple, not the prince himself. In the context of this prophetic word, the prince here can be none other than the Messiah Prince who appeared after the 62 weeks of years and was then cut off. Therefore the people of the prince can be none other than the Jews themselves. Reasons for this are found here.
Because Jerusalem and its inhabitants had spread abominations into every corner, "he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." Again, the "he" spoke of here is the Messiah Prince. We know that historically, it was the Romans who were the ultimate avenue through which God destroyed the city and the temple. However, we must see that it was God's right hand, the Messiah Prince, who was the real commander of those Roman troops. Titus himself stated that they would have never been able to take the city had not God been assisting them to do so.
He shall make it (the city and temple) desolate, even to its consummation (complete destruction), and that which has been determined shall be poured out upon it (the desolate).