Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Daniel's 70th Week

Understanding what is known as “Daniel's 70th Week” is very important to the study of end-times Bible prophecy (a.k.a. "eschatology"). I have, therefore, written this article to make the concept as clear as possible, to help others understand it and to encourage people to share it with others when appropriate.  So let's get started...

In Daniel chapter 9 the prophet Daniel explains that he has read Jeremiah's words that Jerusalem would be restored after seventy years of captivity by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 29:10).  Thus, Daniel's expectation was that the Jews would be back in Jerusalem—yet Daniel was still in Babylon and Jerusalem was still desolate.  Daniel, realizing something was very wrong, then says, “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” (Daniel 9:3)  The passage goes on to provide the details of Daniel's earnest prayer, wherein he intercedes for the Jewish people and confesses their sins.  He explains how they have ignored the words of the prophets, disobeyed the Lord, and are covered in shame; yet he requests that God give them mercy, not because they are worthy, but because God is a loving and merciful God.  Daniel 9:4-19 presents a wonderful prayer we all should be familiar with for both prophetic and personal reasons.

The remaining part of Daniel 9 is extremely important to end-times prophecy and provides perhaps the strongest support for a Pre-Trib Rapture.  As Dr. Grant Jeffrey explains, Daniel’s vision of the seventy weeks stands out as one of the greatest prophecies ever given by God to man.1  The reason it is so important is that it provides us with a true understanding of the purpose of the tribulation: namely that it is a time God set aside to deal with the Jewish people—not the Church.  It also gives us further evidence that the Bible should most often be interpreted literally  (something I'll discuss later in this article).  We read some very revealing words in Daniel 9:24-27, wherein the angel Gabriel explains to Daniel God's plan to deal with the Jews:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.  After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.  He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

First, we must understand that we are to take these time periods literally (as opposed to thinking they are just “general” symbols of time) because Daniel did so when understanding Jeremiah's prophecy earlier in the chapter.  That is, Daniel realized that Jeremiah's prophecy was that Jerusalem was supposed to be restored within 70 years.  Because it had not yet happened, Daniel was very distressed and began to pray (as explained earlier).  While still in prayer the angel Gabriel came to Daniel and explained that God heard his prayer and would give Israel another chance, extending the time in which they must wait by sevenfold: which, not coincidentally, is 70 x 7 and also what Jesus said about how often we are to forgive one another (Matthew 18:21-22).

As we understand in the Jewish context that the 'seven' being referred to is 7 years, we can see that Daniel was told that there would be 7 “sevens” and then 62 “sevens”, resulting in 69 “sevens”.  As we further understand that the Jewish calendar (as well as many other ancient calendars) had 360 days per year, we can calculate the exact time between when the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued and the Anointed One, the ruler, came to fulfill His destiny.  It computes to exactly 173,880 days: (7 years + 62 years) x 7 unit years x 360 days/year.  Today we can see yet another example of how God's Word is absolutely amazing and accurate, for we find that there were precisely 173,880 days between the decree that was issued to rebuild Jerusalem (issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 B.C.) until Jesus rode into Jerusalem on April 6, A.D. 32.  Unlike when Jesus previously declared “My hour has not yet come”, Jesus made a deliberate and triumphal entry into Jerusalem on that specific date (Luke 19:28-40). 2

Thus far we have a vivid account of the first 69 weeks of the 70 weeks, but we are left with a final week (7 years) not yet accounted for.  That final week, known as “Daniel's 70th Week, is the time in which God will deal with the Jewish people once and for all, which will also be during the end times.  In fact, He is going to bend the Jewish people to their knees: in Matthew 23:39 Jesus said to them, “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' ˮ

You may be asking, “What period are we in now?ˮ  The answer is that we are in the “Church Ageˮ, a time between the first 69 weeks and the final 70th week.

Not only can we understand that important concept by noting the obvious gap between those two periods when we read Daniel 9, but it is also supported elsewhere in scripture...

Paul explains in Romans 9, 10, and 11 God's view of Israel in a historic, current, and future context, respectively.  Paul’s words in Romans 11:22-25 clearly supports God’s inclusion of both Jews and Gentiles in His plan of salvation.  Consider Paul's inspired words to the Gentiles:

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.  And if they (the Jews) do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
Note that the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as the Messiah offered salvation to the rest of the world (Gentiles).  It was all part of a profound and gracious plan God had laid out since the beginning of time!  Please also be sure to note the last sentence, which explains that God has a predetermined number of Gentiles who will be saved before He sets in motion end-times events that will turn Israel back to Him

We can also return to Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which we celebrate as Palm Sunday.  As noted earlier, the full implication of that day is missed by many people.  We often are provided with the most obvious when we study Palm Sunday, which is Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  However, as we continue to read in Zechariah, we learn that there are also end-times prophecy implications because what is described in the next verse has clearly not been fulfilled yet, I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.  His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:10, emphasis added)

Another place in scripture where we can study to help understand the “Church Age ˮ is Luke 4:16-21, where we come upon a very interesting scene:
He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.  The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.ˮ
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

What makes that scene so profound is that when we actually turn to the Isaiah passage Jesus read, we learn that He stopped reading in the middle of a sentence.  The remaining part of that passage says “and the day of vengeance of our God...ˮ (Isaiah 61:2), which is describing God's wrath in the tribulation, and God's restoration of Israel afterward (Isaiah 61:3-11).  The Church has been living in that prophetic “pauseˮ for almost 2,000 years; but that pause will soon resume once the Church has been removed via the Rapture!  3

The idea of Daniel's 70th Week being for the Jewish people is echoed in Jeremiah 30:7, where we learn the period is called a time of trouble for Jacobˮ (not coincidentally, Jacob was renamed Israelˮ in Genesis 32:28).  Also, the book of Revelation from chapter 4 on (after the Seven Churches are addressed in chapters 2 and 3) is rich with Jewish terminology as the tribulation events are described, which further helps us understand the Jewish purpose for the tribulation.  Consequently, Daniel's 70th Week offers us one of the strongest areas we can turn to for support of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.  It also offers us guidance about hermeneutics (and translating the Bible literally when the plain sense makes sense).

As I conclude this study of Daniel's 70th Week, I leave you with these word of Jesus, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). 

Are You Ready?

1. Grant Jeffrey, Countdown to the Apocalypse, (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2008), 121-22.
2. Chuck Missler, Prophecy 20/20, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 47.

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  1. So the lack of mentioning the church = pre-tribulation? The church is not mentioned in many of the books in the New Testament, so based on the idea documented above there was no church then either.

    Just b/c something is not mentioned does not make it not there. Many Christians defend the Gospels in this manner. One of the Gospel writers includes details that another one didn't. Does that make it wrong or it was not there? No. I agree Daniel says the 70 Weeks are for the Jews, but that does not equal pre-tribulation in any way.

  2. Why would anyone want to believe in anything other than a pre-trib rapture? It is our blessed hope! We are to pray that we are to pray as the Bible says in Luke 21:36:"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." I am watching and so eager for His return!

  3. Dawn said it well. Daniel's 70th Week helps explain the concept of why the Church is not pictured relative to the wherever the tribulation is discussed in scripture. We can also see many other places in scripture that point us to our "Blessed Hope", which would be no hope at all if we were to think that it would be living through the tribulation events described to us in the Bible. For more details, see "Reasons for a Pre-Trib Rapture" under the December 2010 blog entries.