The crucial message of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks is about the coming of the promised Messiah, the king who inherits the throne of David in Jerusalem. Daniel’s prophecy specified the time when Christ would appear, after the first two sections, of seven weeks, and sixty two weeks. The first section was initiated by the decree of Cyrus, that allowed Jews to return from the exile in Babylon, given near the time of Daniel’s prophecy, in the first years of Darius, about 538 BC. Counting from this start date, seven weeks of leap years (with 13 months) spans 133 years; 7 x 62 is 434 years; the first two sections of the prophecy span 567 years, which would be fulfilled in 28 AD, during the ministry of Jesus.
The future of the holy city, Jerusalem, is the subject of the 70 weeks prophecy. Daniel’s prayer shows that he was concerned about the fate of the city, and the temple, and about how God’s promises concerning Jerusalem would be fulfilled. Jerusalem had been desolate for about seventy years, which were almost at an end. Daniel said, “O LORD, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain.” [Daniel 9:16] The “holy mountain” of God is the kingdom foretold in the vision of Daniel chapter 2, where Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great image is interpreted by Daniel. In the vision, a stone is cut from a mountain without hands, and it smites the image on the feet, and destroys it. The stone becomes a mountain, that fills the earth. Daniel said that this mountain represents God’s kingdom.
Isaiah said that the mountain of the Lord’s house would be raised up, above the hills: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” [Isaiah 2:2]
In the New Testament, Jerusalem is raised up to heaven. Paul said, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” [Galatians 4:26] And Hebrews 12:22-23 says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem … To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.”
When Jesus ascended to heaven, after his resurrection, the holy city Jerusalem was also raised up. Jesus called Jerusalem “the city of the great King.” [Matthew 5:35] In the present age, God is building the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the church. Jesus represents the kingdom, which consists of those who follow him. Christians are part of the heavenly kingdom, and the people of the covenant, which is a promise similar to a betrothal, where Christ is the groom. In the seventy weeks prophecy, the main focus is upon the Messiah, and what he accomplishes. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city … from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks … And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself … And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” [Daniel 9:24-27]
Each of the above statements pertain to Christ, and his work of confirming his covenant with his church, during the seventieth week. The seventieth week is not a literal seven years; the first half-week was the earthly ministry of Jesus, and of John the Baptist. John began his ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, and Jesus began his several months later. The last half of the seventieth week is symbolic, and represents the entire church age. It can be identified with the “time, times and a half” mentioned in Daniel 7:25, 12:7, and Revelation 12:14.
In Daniel 12:1, during a time of great trouble, Michael, “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people” stands up, and all those whose names are in the book of life are delivered. “And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” The link connecting “thy people” in Daniel’s prophecies, and “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” in Hebrews, is that in each case, their names are “written in heaven.” Daniel’s people are the saints, not ethnic Jews who deny the gospel. The saints are those whose names are in the book of life. In Daniel 9:24, “thy people” refers to the saints; “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” Thus, Daniel’s people, who are to be delivered, are identified with the saints, and the New Testament church, which is the heavenly Jerusalem. There is a continuity between the faithful people of the Old Covenant period, and the saints in the New Testament era, who have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. Paul described the church as a temple, whose foundation includes the prophets, and apostles, and Jesus is the chief corner stone. [Ephesians 2:20]
What are the saints to be delivered from? The prophecy of Daniel 7 indicates that the saints are dominated by the “little horn” for “a time, times and a half.” The horn “thinks to change times and laws.” Misinterpreting the message of Daniel’s time prophecies is one of the main functions of the little horn, which represents a human point of view. It is described as having “eyes like the eyes of a man.” The human viewpoint opposes the divine one, and it is also opposed to God’s holy covenant. The natural mind is unwilling to enter into God’s covenant. And false teachers try to lure Christians from God’s covenant, by saying it does not apply to Christians today; it is for only a literal seven years; if is a covenant between the Jews and Antichrist; it was only for Jews in the first century, etc. These are some of the doctrines of the “little horn.”
At the end of the time, times and a half, those whose names are written in the book of life are delivered, and Michael stands up. This prophecy links to Revelation 12, which also mentions Michael, and the “time, times and a half.” In Revelation 12 there is war in heaven, and eventually, the dragon is cast out. The saints, represented by the woman who flees to the wilderness, overcome him. They overcome “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”
The great war has to do, in part, with the prophecy of the 70 weeks, and how the “covenant” in verse 27 is understood. The theories of preterism and dispensationalism say that it is in effect for only a literal seven years, which is incorrect, I think, as the prophecy says “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one seven,” not necessarily seven years. It does not mean a literal seven years. Seven years is no more specified by “one week,” than a week of seven days.
The apostle Peter showed this principle about prophecy when he wrote, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The times of prophecy, especially those which apply to the heavenly Jerusalem, are symbolic, rather than literal.
The phrase “one week” in Daniel 9:27 corresponds to “seven times,” specifically the last of four periods of seven times in Leviticus 26, when God says he will “remember his covenant” with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Paul called the promise given to Abraham the gospel. [Galatians 3:8]
In the 70th week, Christ, the “messenger of the covenant,” confirms his covenant with many; Paul said, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” [Romans 15:8] This seems to allude to Daniel 9:27, where Christ will “confirm the covenant with many for one week.” Theories that deny that the final half of the seventieth week are symbolic, and represent the whole age of the church, misunderstand, and undermine the message of Daniel, IMO. The great prince, Michael, mentioned in Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 12:7, fights against the false interpretations, which have seduced many Christians.
The graphic below illustrates the prophecy of the 70 weeks, and the
duration of the Jewish temples, and the time of the church, when the
heavenly Jerusalem is built. In the seventieth week, Jesus confirms his
covenant with his church. Those whose names are written in the book of
life are delivered, in the midst of a time of trouble.
Jewish temples, the 70 weeks, and the church
Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
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