What someone does with the 70 weeks given to Daniel will shape one’s entire view of Eschatology. It is the foundational verse whereby all else hinges. The big question is what is left to be fulfilled? There are those who say it has all been fulfilled and that it was accomplished in the generation of the Disciples. Then there are some who believe the 70th week, or a portion of it, is yet future. But what is the proper interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27?
24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
25 So you are to know and discern that 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 Then 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. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” NASB
The purpose of the 70 Weeks is found in verse 24 and it is to delineate the time given to the Jews and Jerusalem to accomplish the plan of God through the Messiah. It is the time to bring salvation and seal up what has long been foretold–the restoration and rule of the Messiah from the city of Jerusalem itself. Therefore, the view that holds to the fulfillment of the entire 70 Weeks by AD 70 fails this initial test. Jesus did come and die on the cross, but He ascended to Heaven and we still await His return to come judge the world and set up the promised earthly kingdom. If the 70 Weeks have been fulfilled, then all prophecy should be sealed up, but many events have simply not yet occurred.
Of course, there is a work around to this problem and that is to redefine what Christ’s rule or the fulfillment of prophecy looks like. This reduces the 1,000 years of rule on earth as promised in Revelation 20 to the allegory of spiritual rule from heaven. It also must take any literal understanding of prophecy and wedge it into 70 AD, which is ludicrous. But without the rules of straight textual interpretation, there is simply nothing left to stand on other than the fancies and imaginations of men. The better understanding comes down to understanding what the writers of the Bible wrote as they wrote it in plain terms.
Clearly, according to Acts 1, Jesus ascended to Heaven and we still await His return to bring the kingdom. In the meantime we are gifted with the Spirit and we have all become part of the Church. The gentiles have been grafted into the Olive Tree. Therefore, we currently sit between the 69th and 70th Week awaiting the “fullness of the Gentiles”.
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written. “The deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
This squares with Daniel’s prophecy because once the clock ran out at 7 weeks and 62 weeks (483 years of 360 day years) from Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls in 445 BC, Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday 32 AD because the Jews had missed seeing the appointed time. Four days later, Jesus was indeed “cut off, but not for himself”. Jesus was then raised from the dead and then shortly ascended to Heaven with the establishment of the Church at Pentecost. The next remaining item to be fulfilled after the 69 weeks was the destruction of the Temple, which came 38 years later in 70 AD and demonstrated a necessary gap between the 69th and 70th weeks.
Those who argue that Daniel’s 70 Weeks should be kept intact in a block of 490 years have a problem. When the 69 weeks ended, if the 70th and final week were to immediately follow or any portion, the destruction of the Temple 38 years later does not then fit into their understanding of the prophecy (unless it is allegorized away). It is simple math. To remain mathematically consistent, according to their understanding, it leaves only one week (seven years) left in which to fulfill all of the items by 39 AD. But it is easily seen that 38 years between those events cannot fit within seven years. It is simply ludicrous. There has to be a gap after the 69th week.
The crucifixion and the destruction of the Temple did occur after the 69 weeks of years ended in 32 AD. Jesus was cut off, but the destruction of the Temple would come later just as Jesus foretold. Daniel 9:26 is fulfilled after the 69th week with the 70th week still future. This is the plain reading without doing any mental gymnastics or new math. Below is the passage diagrammed:
Another important thing to consider is Jesus’ understanding of the coming time as laid out in the Olivet Discourse. Here many people get confused with the Destruction of Jerusalem and the End Time. In Luke 21:12, Jesus says that before the signs of the end, the following things must happen first. Luke 21:12-23 then describes the Destruction of Jerusalem. Luke 21:24 then points out that Israel will be led away captive into all the nations until the Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. As Jesus then continues, the Times of the Gentiles are ended when the Son of Man, Jesus, returns to establish the Kingdom. This is the Kingdom of Stone as depicted in Daniel 2 that ends the period of Gentile rule.
To break it down then, Jesus describes the destruction of Jerusalem with Israel being taken captive into all the nations. This event must happen before all of the others in the Discourse. Therefore, these things must occur before the Abomination of Desolation Jesus mentions that is found in Daniel 9:27. The sign to move out of Jerusalem before it was destroyed in 70 AD was the surrounding of the Roman armies. The Abomination of Desolation is not the same thing as the Destruction of Jerusalem. It is part of the events that occur in the still future and the warning to Israel is different. They are not to look for the armies surrounding them, but rather to the the setting up of the Abomination on the wing of the Temple itself. This has not happened since it requires a rebuilt Temple to be in place. The important thing to note here is that Jesus delineates two separate events–the Destruction of Jerusalem and then later his Second Coming. With the temple being destroyed in the first event, the second event cannot be fulfilled until the Temple is rebuilt again. This is all solved by accepting a gap, a fullness of the Gentiles gap, between the 69th and 70th Weeks.
So here we are in the 21st Century with some of the nation of Israel returned to their land as their own state and the world is fairly preoccupied about it. Even the world seems to get the importance of this gathering when much of the Church does not. Maybe it is because the ruler of this present world knows all too well what is about to come, which is the loss of his rule and hence, the panic has already started. Even current events cannot hide the fact that Israel is important in the days to come, because it fits what must come as found in the 70th Week of Daniel and many of the Bible prophecies.
The point that must be driven home is that the 69 Weeks are fulfilled and that the remaining seven years are still future. There is a clear division of time that is represented by the Church and once the Church is removed, then the events of Daniel 9 are free to resume. But for the 70th Week to begin, the covenant with many, which is Israel, must be confirmed–but by who?