Seventy Weeks

A Series on Daniel's Prophecy of Seventy Sevens: Part 4

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative | Inclination: promise | Seminary: none

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. (Dan 9:24)

When the angel Gabriel brings his message of "seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and holy city" (Dan 9:24), the time was allotted for six specific purposes.

1. To finish the transgression

Providing a nuance in the meaning of sin, transgression describes the action of overstepping the boundary of God's word. It is a distinction that God makes and indicates that guilt is more than just disobedience.

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." (Ex 34:5-7)

"To finish the transgression" is to bring to end this willful act of overstepping the limits of God's moral law and behaving in a profane manner.

2. To make an end of sin

With the same thought of "to finish the transgression", sin, which is the disobedience of God's word, will come to an end. Taken together, this suggests that human beings will be unable to sin!

For Old Testament Believers like Daniel, who were living under the Law of Moses, this was likely an inconceivable thought. For New Testament Believers, who are living under the New Covenant, how is this possible when Christians continue to sin?

3. To make atonement for iniquity

Many take the use of "atonement for iniquity" with a meaning of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for the expiation and propitiation of mankind's sin. However the Hebrew term here for the English translation of "atonement" is "kaphar," which places a greater emphasis on propitiation.

With this emphasis, "kaphar" speaks more of satisfying God's holy anger towards sin, and the use of "iniquity" adds to the meaning of sin the nuance of hatred towards God.

In the context of bringing an end to transgression and sin, there is the suggestion that this is only possible when the cause is removed. "Kaphar" points to the appeasement of God's total wrath and judgment of sin with the death of a sinful unrepentant human being and his complete removal from God's presence (Lev 26:1-33; Ezek 5:13).

4. To bring an everlasting righteousness

With the elimination of iniquity, transgression and sin, an everlasting righteousness is the result. This seems possible when only glorified human beings are present.

5. To seal up vision and prophecy

The Hebrew behind "to seal up" can be better understood as "to make an end." The sealing up of vision and prophecy meant that they would come to an end by the seventieth week. In reference to God's response to Daniel's appeal to His lovingkindness, the end of the 70th week would usher in God's Divine Kingdom and the fulfillment of His divine covenants (i.e. Abrahamic and its subsets the Land, King and New).

6. To anoint the most holy place

Anointing the Most Holy Place has its basis in Exodus 29:44-45 where God consecrates the Tabernacle; it is the space that is sanctified, set apart, and devoted to God.

In context of the 70 weeks, it is significant to recognize that the Temple exists before the Divine Millennial Kingdom. When considering that 70 weeks was allotted for six specific purposes, where five appear to occur in the 70th week, it appears likely that this anointing occurred in the last week as well. However, there is no explicit biblical evidence to support this interpretation.

Since the Jesus' triumphant arrival into Jerusalem on the last day of the 69th week (Dan 9:24-25), there is no historical evidence that all of the above purposes (particularly the complete cessation of transgression, sin, and iniquity), were achieved in the 7 years after this, including the consideration of Jesus Christ's resurrection and ascension. Thus, most scholars believe that there is a gap of time between the 69th and 70th week.

It is important to note that Daniel's prophecy indicates that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place after the 69th week (Dan 9:26). However, this reference does not prove that the 70th week was continuous, because Daniel refers to a person who "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" (Dan 9:27).

The book of Revelation offers a possible explanation for this gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel's prophecy. Midway through the book of Revelation and after the sixth trumpet, there is a break involving a strong angel with a little scroll / book. Observing a "strong" angel coming down from heaven and standing on earth holding a small scroll / book up towards heaven, the apostle John is instructed to take the book and eat it (Rev 10:1-11). By eating the scroll, the apostle John receives prophetic material in addition to what he sees (Rev 1:19).

Among the many things reported, the apostle John writes that the resurrection of Jesus (Rev 12:5) heralds the heavenly arrival of Jesus Christ the King and His authority to remove Satan and his angelic followers from the heavenly kingdom of God (Rev 12:7-11).

Now confined to earth, Satan was determined to persecute Believers (Rev 12:13), and in his narrative, the apostle John introduced the Antichrist (Rev 13:1 - Beast from the Sea). Of particular interest was that Satan gave the Antichrist his power, throne and great authority (Rev 13:2). This is remarkable, because nowhere else in the Bible is Satan portrayed as the one who gives "power (including supernatural – Rev 13:3-4), a throne, and great authority!"

As the Daniel's prophecy clearly demonstrated to Nebuchadnezzar, only God, the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, bestows authority and dominion on whomever He wishes (Dan 4:19-37).

Thus, God allowed Satan to empower the Antichrist.

Although in reality God indirectly controlled the Antichrist, the apostle Paul speaks of Satan's direct "restraint" of the Antichrist to the Thessalonians.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thess 2:3-10)

Because Daniel's prophecy of the 70th week begins with the emergence of the "one who makes desolate," the period between the 69th and 70th week is the time that elapses until Satan empowers the Antichrist (the Beast from the Sea).

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." (Dan 9:27)

With deep abiding love for God and concern for His people, Daniel appeals to God and His covenant promises as he attempts to understand Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 years. With deep love for Daniel, God affirms that His Kingdom will come after 70 weeks which will include the fulfillment of His covenant promises!!

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