PP9: Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 2)

This is now the ninth post 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:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/

We then turned to a discussion of the internal evidence for an early date. In Part 1 we discussed the inclusion of Jerusalem, the temple, Babylon the Great, and a great city in the book of Revelation. Part 2 dealt with the seven kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-10 and the identity of the beast of the book of Revelation. Part 3 addressed Nero’s persecution of the saints and his prophesied demise.  Part 4 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:

[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/

We are now examining the 70-Week Prophecy given to Daniel through the angel Gabriel, in two parts. In the first part, we began to discover that the historical view did not focus on a future Antichrist, but rather the focus was on Jesus the Messiah. That post can be found here:

[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/

In this second part we will continue that discovery. We will also consider the meanings behind some of the language used in this prophecy, and whether or not there is meant to be any gap at all between the 69th and 70th weeks.

Adam Maarschalk


Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 2)

Some Preterists believe that the “end to sacrifice and offering” took place in another sense when the temple (the place of sacrifices and offerings) was destroyed in 70 AD. Tertullian (160-220 AD), for example, writing about Jerusalem’s destruction, said, “Therefore, when these times also were completed, and the Jews subdued, there afterwards ceased in that place ‘libations and sacrifices,’ which thenceforward have not been able to be in that place celebrated [because the temple is gone]” (An Answer to the Jews, Chapter VIII—Of Jerusalem’s Destruction).[1]

Besides Clement and Tertullian, others who viewed Jesus as the “he” of verse 27 include John Wycliffe (1324-1384), Martin Luther (1483-1546), John Calvin (1509-1564), and Isaac Newton (1643-1727).[2] Calvin, for example, said:

For [Daniel] then said, Christ shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and shall cause the sacrifices and oblation to cease. Afterwards, the abomination that stupifieth shall be added, and desolation or stupor, and then death will distill, says he, upon the astonished or stupefied one. The angel, therefore, there treats of the perpetual devastation of the Temple. So in this passage, without doubt, he treats of the period after the destruction of the Temple; there could be no hope of restoration, as the law with all its ceremonies would then arrive at its termination. With this view Christ quotes this passage in Matthew 24, while he admonishes his hearers diligently to attend to it… Without the slightest doubt, this prophecy was fulfilled when the city was captured and overthrown, and the temple utterly destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. This satisfactorily explains the events here predicted (Todd Dennis [9], 2009).

Any gap then, according to this view, was not a 2000-year gap between weeks 69 and 70, but a roughly 37-year gap between Christ’s ascension and the 3.5 year period of great tribulation leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD (spoken of in verse 26b and 27b).[3] This is said to have been foreseen in Isaiah 61:2, especially as Jesus chose to quote it in Luke 4:18-19. On the surface there seems to be no gap in Isaiah’s statement, but Jesus alluded to one when He stopped after stating that He had come to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The part He didn’t quote then (“and the day of vengeance of our God”) He later referred to at the end of His ministry when He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near…for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written…For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people…” (Luke 21:20-24). The nearly 40-year gap then served the purpose of giving Israel a generation within which to repent.

In this way Isaiah 61:2 and Daniel 9:27 refer to the same two time periods, separated by the same gap, i.e. the acceptable year of the Lord (the 3.5 year-ministry of Jesus) and the day of vengeance (the 3.5 year-siege on Jerusalem leading up to its destruction, what Jesus called “great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21). Therefore, the first half of the 70th week (3.5 years) established the New Covenant, and the second half of the 70th week (3.5 years) a generation later confirmed the New Covenant by completely abolishing the Old Covenant temple system. The kingdom of God, already established in heaven when Jesus ascended and being lived out among those who followed Christ, was then fully established on earth and given to the saints (Daniel 7:27). It was taken from national Israel and given to the Church, the people whom Jesus said would produce its fruits (See the ‘Parable of the Tenants’ in Matthew 21:33-45).

Some see no gap at all, contending that the last half of the 70th week was fulfilled during the 3.5 years following Jesus’ ascension (31-34 AD). In this view the Jews were given priority in hearing the gospel, but Philip’s evangelistic trip to Samaria in 34 AD marked a time when the gospel began in earnest to go to non-Jews.[4] The “wing of abominations” then refers to the fact that after Christ’s work on the cross, every temple sacrifice was abominable and a rejection of Christ. These abominations continued for 40 years until, finding that Israel would not repent, the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. This last statement reflects Calvin’s view when, referring to the phrase “wing of abominations,” he said,

I have no hesitation in referring this language of the angel to that profanation of the Temple which happened after the manifestation of Christ, when sacrifices ceased, and the shadows of the law were abolished. From the time, therefore, at which the sacrifice really ceased to be offered; this refers to the period at which Christ by his advent should abolish the shadows of the law, thus making all offering of sacrifices to God totally valueless… God’s wrath followed the profanation of the Temple. The Jews never anticipated the final cessation of their ceremonies, and always boasted in their peculiar external worship, and unless God had openly demonstrated it before their eyes, they would never have renounced their sacrifices and rites as mere shadowy representations. Hence Jerusalem and their Temple were exposed to the vengeance of the Gentiles.

It’s difficult to see from Calvin’s quote whether or not he believed there was a generation-long gap between the first and second halves of the 70th week. For the Preterist, the idea of a gap or no gap likely depends upon whether Daniel 9:27b is thought to fulfill the last half of this week or is simply related to the final week. That is, there is no gap if what is stated in Daniel 9:27b falls outside of the 490-year timeline (Daniel 9:25-27a), but is closely related to (and is an implication of) what occurs in the final week. Ralph Woodrow looks to the fact that the seventy weeks were “decreed about [Daniel’s] people” (verse 24a) as proof enough that there is no gap and offers up an explanation for how the final half of the 70th week concerned the people of Israel:

The first half of the “week”, the time of our Lord’s ministry, was definitely directed toward ISRAEL. But what about the second half—the final three and a half years of the prophecy—was it also linked with Israel? Did the disciples continue to preach for the duration of the remaining three and a half years (as Christ’s representatives) especially to Daniel’s people—to Israel? Yes, they did! Jesus had told the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15; Mt.28:19; Acts 1:8), YET—and this is significant—after Christ ascended, the disciples still at first preached only to Israel! Why? We know of only one prophecy which would indicate that this was to be the course followed. It is the prophecy of the 70 weeks which implied that after the death of Messiah there would still be three and a half years that pertained to Israel!

Bearing this in mind, we can now understand at least one reason why the gospel went “to the Jew first” and then later to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). Peter preached shortly after Pentecost: “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant… unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:25, 26). “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you” (Acts 13:46).

In person, Christ came to Israel during the first half of the “week”—three and a half years. Through the disciples—for the three and a half years that remained—his message still went to Israel, “the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mk. 16:20). In a very real sense of the word, the ministry of the disciples was a continuation of the ministry of Christ.Then came the conversion of Cornelius which completely changed the missionary outreach, outlook, and ministry of the church. Though the New Testament does not give an exact date when this happened, apparently the time for special exclusive blessing upon Daniel’s people had drawn to a close. The gospel which had gone first to the Jews was now to take its full mission—to be preached to all people of all nations!

This time of changeover was marked by a number of supernatural events. Cornelius received a heavenly visitation. An angel appeared to him and told him to call for Peter “who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14). God showed Peter a vision which caused him to know that the gospel was now to go to the Gentiles and not to Israelites only. All of these things were timed perfectly—showing that God’s hand was accomplishing a definite purpose. Returning to Jerusalem, Peter explained what had happened. “When they heard these things, they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life’ “(Acts 11:18).

The following chart illustrates the no-gap viewpoint[5]:


This graphic illustrates the same idea:

Daniel's 70 Weeks

Source: Kevin Jogin (Discussionbook.com)

Zev Vilnay (1973) tells of a Jewish tradition supporting the truth that Christ’s death made the Jewish sacrificial system invalid. Under Mosaic Law a scapegoat, symbolically carrying Israel’s sin, would be driven out into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, at which time a crimson wool thread tied to the temple would supernaturally turn white. During the last 40 years of the temple’s existence, however, according to numerous Jewish sources, this thread never turned white (pp. 115-116). If this tradition is true, it demonstrates the truth that from the time of Jesus’ death the sacrifices and offerings of the temple did nothing to atone for Israel’s sin.

James B. Jordan (1988) says the imagery behind the phrase “wing of abominations” probably goes back to Numbers 14:37-41 where all Israelites “throughout their generations” were to wear blue tassels on the wings (corners) of their garments to remind them to stay on the path of holiness. An apostate Israel, though, he says would naturally not have “wings of holiness” but would be symbolically marked by “wings of abominations” (cf. Matthew 23:38, where Jesus said Jerusalem was a house left desolate).[6] Considering then what happened leading up to 70 AD, especially with the installation of a false high priest in 67 AD, Jordan suggests that Daniel 9:27b can be viewed in this way: “And on the wing of abominations [apostate Judaism and priesthood] will come one who makes desolate [the apostate High Priest], even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate [at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70].”

Aside from Clement, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, and Newton, others who taught that Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy is already fulfilled (gap or no gap) include the following:

[1] Origen (185-254 AD): “The weeks of years, also, which the prophet Daniel had predicted, extending to the leadership of Christ, have been fulfilled.” [2] Eusebius (314 AD): “When the captivity of the Jewish people at Babylon was near its end, the Archangel Gabriel [told Daniel that Jerusalem would] be destroyed, and that after the second capture and siege it will no longer have God for its guardian, but will remain desolate, with the worship of the Mosaic Law taken away from it, and another new Covenant with humanity introduced in its place… ‘For ending disobedience, and for completing transgression [Daniel 9:24].’ I think that our Saviour’s words to the Jews, ‘Ye have filled up the measure of your fathers [Matthew 23:32],’ are parallel to this… [T]here follows the prophecy of the new Covenant announced by our Saviour. So when all the intermediate matter between the seven and the sixty-two weeks is finished, there is added, ‘And he will confirm a Covenant with many one week,’ and in half the week the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away, and on the Holy Place shall come the abomination of desolation, and until the fullness of time fullness shall be given to the desolation. Let us consider how this was fulfilled.” [3] Augustine (354-430 AD): “Daniel’s weeks…had to be completed afterwards in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testifies that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when Jerusalem was overthrown.” [4] Theodoret (430 AD): “And so [begins] the last [70th] week at the baptism of Christ.” [5] William Hales (1747-1831): “During this one week, which ended about A.D. 34 (about the martyrdom of Stephen,) a new covenant was established with many of the Jews, of every class; in the midst of which the Temple sacrifice was virtually abrogated by the all-sufficient sacrifice of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the [repentant and believing] world” (Todd Dennis [14], 2009).

[1] Sam Storms, Meredith Kline, and others believe that the final week is not a literal seven years. The first half, they say, extends from Christ’s ascension until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The second half extends from 70 AD until Christ’s Second Coming. This is based in part by combining Daniel’s prophecy with the details in the sign of the woman and dragon in Revelation 12:5-6.

[2] An interesting analysis of the 70-Weeks prophecy, drawing parallels between the numbers used in this prophecy to identical numbers found in periods of Israel’s redemptive history, can be found here. For instance, 62 weeks after the Israelites received the Law at Mount Sinai, that generation was deemed unworthy to enter the Promised Land. In Daniel’s prophecy, it was 62 prophetic weeks (62 x 7 = 434) after Ezra reinstated the Law that Israel rejected its Messiah. “Both events led to the destruction—within 40 years—of the faithless generation.”

[3] Regarding verses 26 and 27, Sam Storms (2006) makes the helpful point that they “are not relating events that are sequential (i.e., A B C D) but rather parallel (i.e., A B A B).” In other words, Christ is spoken of in the beginning of verse 26 and again in the beginning of verse 27 (Sam Storms affirms that the “he” there speaks of Christ). Likewise, the Roman Empire, which presided over Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD, is spoken of in the latter parts of both verse 26 and 27. The Dispensational view is that 70 AD is spoken of in verse 26b, but that the world has not yet seen the desolations spoken of in verse 27b.

[4] Philip was only one of many who were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, preaching the word, as a result of the great persecution which arose the day Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 8:1-5). This viewpoint sees the 490 years as literal and without interruption, after which (unlike in typical Dispensationalist thought) the Israelites would cease to be God’s chosen people. Instead, Jews and Gentiles alike could only be saved on an individual basis, making up the Church in which there is no Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:28; cf. Acts 10:45, 11:18, 13:46, 14:27, 15:9, 18:6, 22:20-22).

[5] This chart is based on the idea that Artaxerxes, in his 7th year (Ezra 7:7), made a detailed decree allowing Jerusalem to be rebuilt and restored (Ezra 7:11-28). This occurred in the year 457 BC, according to Ptolemy’s chronological system. However, Philip Mauro (Todd Dennis [21], 2009), who believed that there is no gap in Daniel’s 70 Week-prophecy, wrote in 1921 that Ptolemy’s system was one of guesswork when it came to the period between Cyrus and Alexander. He points out that Martin Anstey’s Bible Chronology, published in 1913, shows that Ptolemy assigned to the Persian Empire a period that was about 80 years too long. The decree, in any case, spoken of in Daniel 9:25, came from Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28-45:13; II Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-3). Mauro therefore cautions against preferring “the guesses of a heathen astronomer (who had no means of knowing the facts which occurred over five hundred years before his time) to the evidence of Scripture” (Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, pages 5-9). One source (whose Historicist conclusions I don’t agree with) makes the following note, apparently based on the dates given by Ptolemy:

– There were actually four commands issued that can be located in scripture and must be considered:

(1) Ezra 1:1-14, 1st year of Cyrus, dated to 537 B.C.
(2) Ezra 6:1-12, 2nd year of Darius dated to 520 B.C.
(3) Ezra 7:1-27, 7th year of Artaxerxes dated to 457 B.C.
(4) Neh 2:1-8, 20th year of Artaxerxes dated to 444 B.C.

Ezra 1 537 B.C. 54 B.C. 47 B.C.
Ezra 6 520 B.C. 37 B.C. 30 B.C.
Ezra 7 457 B.C. 27 A.D. 34 A.D.
Neh 2 444 B.C. 40 A.D. 47 A.D.

Chart Source

[6] Note that Jesus referred to Jerusalem as “your house” (speaking to the Jewish people), instead of “My house.”