This is now the eighth part in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. The first segment included the Title Page, Outline, Introduction, and a brief introduction to Partial-Preterism. The second segment consisted of the References page, and the third segment was a discussion of the external evidence for an early date for the writing of the book of Revelation. These segments can be found here:
We then turned to a discussion of the internal evidence for an early date. In Part 4 we discussed the inclusion of Jerusalem, the temple, Babylon the Great, and “a great city” in the book of Revelation. Part 5 dealt with the seven kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-10 and the identity of the beast of the book of Revelation. Part 6 addressed Nero’s persecution of the saints and his prophesied demise. Part 7 spoke of the worship of Nero and the worship of his image even after his death. We also saw that the language used by John strongly indicates the relevance of the entire book of Revelation to the first-century Christians who were alive when he wrote this book. These posts can be found here: [Part 4], [Part 5], [Part 6], and [Part 7].
We will now examine the 70-Week Prophecy given to Daniel through the angel Gabriel, in two parts. In this first part, we will begin to discover that the historical view did not focus on a future Antichrist, but rather the focus was Jesus the Messiah.
Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 1)
Earlier we saw that Clement’s statement regarding John’s banishment to Patmos makes it difficult to determine when he believes the book of Revelation was written. However, there is no doubt that he saw in the events of the Roman/Jewish War the fulfillment of the final week of Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). Dispensationalist Futurists hold that this final week (seven years) is still unfulfilled, and that the book of Revelation foretells the events which will take place during those seven years. Clement saw it differently:
From the captivity at Babylon, which took place in the time of Jeremiah the prophet, was fulfilled what was spoken by Daniel the prophet as follows: [Here he quotes Daniel 9:24-27 in its entirety.] …And Christ our Lord, “the Holy of Holies,” having come and fulfilled the vision and the prophecy, was anointed in His flesh by the Holy Spirit of His Father. In those “sixty and two weeks,” as the prophet said, and “in the one week,” was He Lord. The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius [were also taken away]. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place. And that such are the facts of the case, is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said (Puritan Lad, 2008).
In his mind, Clement may or may not have tied the final week of Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy to the book of Revelation, as is often done by Dispensationalists and non-Dispensationalists alike. If he did, though, then by definition he was an advocate for Revelation’s early authorship, i.e. before 70 AD, because he clearly taught that Daniel 9:24-27 was entirely fulfilled by the end of the Roman/Jewish War. In any case, his view of Daniel 9 was certainly Preterist and, as we will see, so also was his view of Matthew 24 and other passages thought by Futurists to be unfulfilled.
It can be noted that nowhere in the book of Revelation is a 7-year period indicated, but a period of 3.5 years can be seen. The basis for a future 7-year Tribulation period within Dispensational thought is taken only from Daniel’s 70-Weeks prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. Sam Storms (2006) speaks of the importance of this passage to Dispensationalist and Futurist theology when he says, “One could conceivably make an argument that apart from the dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9, these and related prophetic doctrines would lack substantial biblical sanction.”
The final week (i.e. seven years) will be initiated, Dispensationalists say, when the Antichrist makes a covenant with Israel. This is the current popular interpretation of verse 27, which states: “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering…”). For this to happen, we are also told, the Jerusalem temple must be rebuilt and the sacrifices and offerings resumed. John Hagee, Benny Hinn, and others are willing to raise millions of dollars to see this happen, despite the blasphemous nature of such a venture in light of Christ’s work on the cross and also what happened in 70 AD.
This viewpoint does not appear to be the historic one. A number of the early church writers (like Clement) and also some of the reformers, in fact, did not see the “he” of verse 27 as referring to the Antichrist, but they insisted that this was a reference to Jesus. The covenant in view, then, was the New Covenant, made with many (Matthew 26:28, Mark 10:45, Mark 14:24). The first half of the final week was fulfilled in Jesus’ 3.5 year earthly ministry. The “end to sacrifice and offering” was achieved by Christ’s work on the cross, which was the ultimate sacrifice. Philip Mauro, a brilliant lawyer who spent years on the bar of the US Supreme Court, spoke of the centrality of Christ’s work on the cross in Daniel’s 70-Weeks prophecy in his 1921 book, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation:
No one will dispute that, when Christ suffered and died on the Cross, thus offering “one sacrifice for sins forever,” he then and there caused the sacrifice, and oblations of the law to cease as a divine appointment… Neither can there be any question that the removal of those sacrifices (which could never take away sins) was a great thing in the eyes of God, a thing so great and well-pleasing to Him, to warrant its having a prominent place in this grand Messianic prophecy. In proof of this important point we direct the attention of our readers to Hebrews, chapters 8, 9 and 10… The great subject of this part of Hebrews, as of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, is the Cross… And when we find, both in the prophecy (Daniel 9:27) and in Hebrews 10, that this setting aside of the sacrifices of the law is connected directly with the confirming of the New Covenant, we are compelled to conclude that the passage in Hebrews is the inspired record of the fulfillment of this Prophecy… This gives to the last week of the seventy the importance it should have, and which the prophecy as a whole demands, seeing that all the predictions of verse 24 depend upon the events of that last week. On the other hand, to make this last Week refer to a paltry bargain between Antichrist (or a supposed Roman prince) and some apostate Jews of the future, for the renewal (and that for a space of only seven years) of those sacrifices which God has long ago abolished forever, is to intrude into this great scripture a matter of trifling importance, utterly foreign to the subject in hand and to bring the entire prophecy to an absurdly lame and impotent conclusion (pages 30-32, emphasis added; Todd Dennis , 2009).
Ralph Woodrow in 1971 pointed out the significance of Christ’s ministry being 3.5 years long, in relation to the prophecy in Daniel 9:27a (Todd Dennis , 2009). He notes that Augustine and Eusebius recognized that Daniel had defined the exact length of Christ’s ministry, with Eusebius saying, “Now the whole period of our Saviour’s teaching and working of miracles is said to have been three-and-a-half years, which is half a week. John the evangelist, in his Gospel makes this clear to the attentive [by the mention of four Passovers during His ministry; John 2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 13:1].”
Understanding this, we can now see real significance in certain New Testament statements which also speak of a definite established time at which Jesus would die. For example, we read: “They sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). In John 2:4, Jesus said, “Mine hour is not yet come.” On another occasion, he said, “My time is not yet come” (John 7:6). Then just prior to his betrayal and death, he said, “My time is at hand” (Mt. 26:18), and finally, ‘”the hour is come” (John 17:1; Mt. 26:45).
These and other verses clearly show that there was a definite time in the plan of God when Jesus would die. He came to fulfill the scriptures, and there is only one Old Testament scripture which predicted the time of his death—the prophecy which stated that Messiah would be cut off in the midst of the 70th week—at the close of three and a half years of ministry! How perfectly the prophecy was fulfilled in Christ!
But those who say that the confirming of the covenant and causing sacrifices to cease in the midst of the 70th week refers to a future Antichrist, completely destroy this beautiful fulfillment and are at a complete loss to show where in the Old Testament the time of our Lord’s death was predicted.
The prophecy of Daniel 9 stated that Messiah would confirm the covenant (or would cause the covenant to prevail) with many of Daniel’s people for the “week” or seven years. We ask then, when Christ came, was his ministry directed in a special way to Daniel’s people —to “Israel ” (Dan. 9:20)? Yes!
A good article on the subject of Daniel’s 70th Week, which I didn’t reference here, is this one by Peter Cohen of Messianic Good News. Cohen focuses on how this prophecy concerned Christ’s incarnational ministry and work on the cross during His first coming, and notes the implications of saying that what Daniel prophesied will yet be fulfilled through some means other than the cross.
A chiasm is a literary structure long recognized as a way to emphasize ideas or concepts by placing them into a symmetric pattern, as they are recorded in a given literary work. Where they appear in the Bible, some have referred to them as the “fingerprints of God.” The chiastic structure of Daniel 9:25-27 is very interesting, as it makes clear that the Messiah is the “he” who confirms the covenant. William H. Shea, a historicist, notes the following chiasm in Frank Holbrook’s work*, “The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy“:
Another helpful chiasm of this same passage, including verse 24, can be seen here. It is shown as follows: