Milburn Cockrell (1941-2002)
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This book is a collection of four sermons that were published in the BEREA BAPTIST BANNER from January till April of 2001 by the late Milburn Cockrell. The PDF versions of those BANNER publications are available from the Berea Baptist Church website archive.
Cover design by Christopher Cockrell
Chapter One - The Purpose of the Seventy Weeks
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy" (Dan. 9:24).
The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, recorded in Daniel 9:24-27, has always been an important portion to students of the Scriptures. The views which men take in regard to this passage are legions. But in our generation there is renewed interest in this section of the Word due to events in the Middle East. An exposition of these verses are sorely needed in our generation. The Prophet Daniel had spent a long time in prayer, confession, and entreaty for his nation and the city of Jerusalem, which was at that time in ruin (Dan. 9:3-20). By reading the Prophet Jeremiah (Ch. 25:8-14; 29:10) he understood the Babylonian Captivity would last seventy years (Dan.9:1-2). The Jews were to remain in Babylon seventy years to repay for the seventy sabbatical years they stole from Jehovah (II Chron. 36:19-21).
Daniel was carried captive to Babylon in 605 B.C. The events of the ninth chapter happened in the first year of Darius the Mede (Dan. 9:1). This would have been about 535 B.C. The prophet knew he was near the end of the Babylonian Captivity. Soon his people would return to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-4; Zech. 1:12-17). It seems that Daniel believed the final restoration of his nation was about to be accomplished and the full covenant blessings realized. But on this point he was mistaken as seen from the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks given by the angel Gabriel.
The angel came to interrupt Daniel's prayer to give one of the most important prophecies in the Bible. Gabriel came to inform the prophetic statesman of what God had decreed before Israel enjoyed permanent restoration in her homeland. In the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks the angel related that Israel's seventy years in Babylon was a type of a longer dispersion which would last seven times as long.
Many are puzzled by the expression "seventy weeks," or "seventy sevens." Because "week" in English connotes "seven days" great confusion has resulted from the translators' use of the word "weeks." In the Hebrew it is the word sabua which means "seven." It does not tell us if it is seven days, weeks, months, or years. The context alone is to decide what is indicated by this word.
The Hebrew word merely expresses seven. Sometimes it is used of seven days (Lev. 23:15-16) and at other times of years (Lev. 25:8; Gen. 29:27-30). The question would naturally arise: what does it mean in Daniel 9:24? The context favors years, not days or months. Daniel had been meditating on the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity in the writings of Jeremiah.
Elder John Gill says on this expression: ". . .this space of seventy weeks is not to be understood of weeks or days; which is too short a time for the fulfillment of so many events as are mentioned; nor were they fulfilled within such a space of time; but of weeks of years. . ." Most other scholars agree with Gill, such as Hengstenberg, Seiss and Tregelles.
Even if you make the weeks to be seven days, you still cannot escape the thought of years. Often in the Bible a day stands for a year. In Numbers 14:34 it is written: "After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each DAY FOR A YEAR, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise." The Lord says in Ezekiel 4:6: "I have appointed thee each DAY FOR A YEAR." Thus I conclude that the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9:24 are a period of 490 years.
Daniel is told this period of time is "determined" by God for the accomplishment of certain events. Our God is a God of foreordination. He has a comprehensive plan in which future events are rendered certain. With our God "that that is determined shall be done" (Dan. 11:36). Peter referred to this as "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23).
"UPON THY PEOPLE AND THY HOLY CITY"
This period of 490 years has to do with Daniel's people, the Jews. In concerns the city of Jerusalem. The prophet had been praying for his nation and city (Dan. (9:2,12,16,19). These events are not determined upon scattered churches throughout the world. The church has no claim to some of the promises made to Israel. Any attempt to read the church into the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9:24 is a deliberate and premeditated effort to add to the sacred Scriptures. J. A. Seiss says: "It is the Jew and Jerusalem first, last and at all times, and what pertains to them" (Voices From Babylon, p. 240, 1879 edition).
Since the 490 years are determined upon the Jew in Jerusalem, we can see that this period of time is counted by God only when the Jews are in Jerusalem dwelling in their own land. The Jew in Jerusalem is God's time clock. The rise and fall of Gentile nations has no bearing on this chronology.
THE SIXFOLD PURPOSE
What is to be accomplished in the 490 years? According to Daniel 9:24 six different things are to be accomplished at the end of the 490 years. All six of them concern Daniel's people and Jerusalem, not the church. The first three are negative, speaking of undesirable matters to be removed, and the last three are positive, giving desirable things to be effected.
"TO FINISH THE TRANSGRESSION"
The first reason for the Seventy Weeks is "to finish the transgression" of Israel. The word "transgression" is single, not plural. This points to a special sin of Israel--the sin of rejecting their Messiah. This was a matter which was revealed to both Daniel (Ch.9:25) and Isaiah (Ch. 53:1-12).
When the Messiah came He was rejected by His own nation: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" ( John 1:11). The Jewish Sanhedrin delivered Jesus Christ to Pilate for crucifixion ( John 18:35) and said: "We have no king but Caesar" ( John 19:15). Jesus Christ told Pilate: "He that delivereth me unto thee hath the greater sin" ( John 19:11). The nation of Israel committed the greatest sin in the world, and they dared to cry: "His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matt. 27:25). How great was the sin when the nation of Israel "crucified the Lord of glory" (I Cor. 2:8) and "killed the Prince of life" (Acts 3:15).
Because of this terrible sin, Israel has been scattered among all the Gentile nations and endured untold suffering and hardships. This transgression of Israel is not yet finished, for she is still in a state of disfavor with God. It will not be finished until the end of the 490 years when they repent and turn to God (Deut. 30:1-10; Ezek. 36-37). "
"TO MAKE AN END OF SINS"
The second purpose is "to make an end of sins." "To make an end" means "to shut, close, seal." This word was used to indicate the closing of a state document or letter. This is the special sins of Daniel's people. The 490 years are required to clear the Jewish nation from their sins. There are some special sins of the Israelites, and there is a special sense in which Christ died "for that nation" ( John 11:51). The future regeneration of Israel rests upon the death of Christ at Calvary.
Sinning shall not cease among the Jews in Jerusalem until they are brought into the full enjoyment of the blessings of Christ's death--a blessing already enjoyed by believing Gentiles. Israel's full enjoyment awaits the visible return of Christ to Jerusalem. Romans 11:25-27 says: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."
"TO MAKE RECONCILIATION FOR INIQUITY"
The third aim is "to make reconciliation for iniquity." The word "reconciliation" means "to cover, to forgive, to expiate, to atone for, etc." This Christ did at the cross for elect Jews and Gentiles (II Cor. 5:19). While the provision was made at the cross, the actual experimental benefits to Israel in the main await the second coming of Christ. At the end of 490 years Israel will confess all of their sins and be reconciled unto God from all of their iniquities.
When Christ returns to the Mount of Olives the Jews in Jerusalem will mournfully receive their Messiah. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and THEY ALSO WHICH PIERCED HIM: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him" (Rev. 1:7). "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the TRIBES of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:30).
At the return of Christ the Jews in Jerusalem will with weeping claim their true Messiah. "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem. . .In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem FOR SIN and for uncleanness" (Zech. 12:10-11; 13:1).
The Prophet Isaiah wrote of this time: "Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth children" (Isa. 66:8).
"TO BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS"
The fourth goal of the 490 years is "to bring in everlasting righteousness," or as some translate "the righteousness of the ages." This points to the time when the kingdom of Heaven will be established in everlasting righteousness. This is the time when the rules of righteous conduct, proven to be right in all ages, will be universally observed. But this righteousness of the ages will not be brought in until the Seventy Weeks are terminated. Then the world will enjoy a reign of righteousness where God's standards of ethics and morals are in force.
In the Millennium Israel will receive the righteousness of God by faith ( Jer. 33:14-16) and live righteous lives before the Lord (Isa. 60:21). Christ's regime of righteousness will bring regeneration, righteousness, and restoration to the elect of Israel. The righteousness of God will be manifested in the King (Isa. 11:4-5; 32:1; Jer. 23:5-6).
"TO SEAL UP THE VISION AND PROPHECY"
The fifth idea is "to seal up the vision and prophecy" that concerns Israel which was spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. To seal up a matter is to complete or finish with it. This vision of the Seventy Weeks will be confirmed by the fulfillment of that predicted.
Visions and prophecies have almost without exception been confined to the nation of Israel. When Israel is regenerated and restored, they will not need any more vision or prophecy, for Christ in all His glory will be present with His people. At the termination of these by fulfillment, God will seal them up for preservation.
"TO ANOINT THE MOST HOLY"
The last intention of the 490 years is "to anoint the Most Holy," or literally "to consecrate a Holiness of holiness." The Amplified Old Testament translates it "to anoint a holy of holies." A marginal note in the American Standard Version of 1901 says "a most holy place." Rotherham gives it: "And anoint the holy of holies." The Hebrew is godesh haq-qudashim which points to "holy things or places." These are the words used many times in the Old Testament of the inner part of the tabernacle or temple. The most holy is a place, not a person. The term is used of the altar of burnt offering (Ex. 29:37; 40:10), the altar of incense (Ex. 30:10), the two altars with all the vessels of the sanctuary (Ezek. 43:12), and the whole new temple in the Millennium (Ezek. 45:3).
The prophecy in Daniel 9:24 concerns the anointing of a most holy place, or the holy of holies in the Millennial Temple (Ezek. 40-48). Christ, the One greater than Solomon, will build this temple: "Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: And he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" (Zech. 6:12-13). The erection of this temple is future, and it awaits the second coming of Christ to the earth (Zech. 14:1-21).
The Millennial Temple must never be confused with the church which is a spiritual temple of God (Eph. 2:20- 22), nor with the temple in the Old Testament times, nor with the temple the Jews are to construct in the tribulation period (Matt. 24:15; II Thess. 2:4; Rev. 11:1-2). Unless this distinction is made great confusion will result.
But what is meant by the anointing of the Millennial Temple? This anointing is the return of the Shekinah glory from the east. Ezekiel informs us: "Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. . .And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house" (Ezek. 43:1- 2,4-5). When the new holy of holies is anointed, God says: "I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever" (Ezek. 43:7, 9).
The sixfold purpose of the Seventy Weeks is still future to the nation of Israel. The first coming of Christ did not end the Seventy Weeks as amillennialists teach. Only sixty-nine weeks have elapsed as I shall show later in other articles to follow. One week or seven years is yet future and will end with the second coming of Christ to the Mount of Olives. The Seventieth Week must transpire before the righteousness of the ages can be brought in and the Jewish people converted as a nation.
Chapter Two - The Program of the Seventy Weeks
"Know therefore and understand, that 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: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times" (Dan. 9:25).
Most honest interpreters of God's Word admit that this is a very difficult portion of the Book of Daniel. Even an amillennialist like E. J. Young says, "The interpretation of these words is, to my mind, the most difficult point in this prophecy" (The Prophecy of Daniel, p. 204). Many amillennialists seek to avoid the difficulty here by spiritualizing the 490 years. Premillennialists contend for a literal fulfillment of the prophecy.
I believe that all would agree who hold to the literal view that before we can understand the Seventy Weeks that we must establish the starting and ending point. When did the 490 years commence? What date is the terminus of the Seventy Weeks? These questions and their answers are vital to understanding the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel.
THE THREEFOLD DIVISION
In the passage itself there is indicated a threefold division: "seven weeks" (49 years), "threescore and two weeks" (434 years), and "one week" (7 years). There must be two gaps in this time; otherwise, there is no need for this threefold division. There is to be 49 years and a gap. Then a period of 434 years and a gap, and finally a seven year period which ends the prophecy and brings to pass the sixfold purpose stated in Daniel 9:24.
THE STARTING POINT
The initial date of the 490 year period is "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem." But when was this decree issued for the restoration of the Jewish people to their homeland? This is a difficult question as there were four different decrees given in the Old Testament following the time of Daniel 9. Let us briefly look at all four of these.
THE FIRST DECREE
The first decree was given by Cyrus in 536 B.C. The Biblical account is found in II Chronicles 36:22-23: "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up." The same time is under consideration in Ezra 1:1-4.
There is no mention here of rebuilding Jerusalem but only of the temple. But in Isaiah 44:28 the prophet says: "That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." This indicates that Cyrus did issue an edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
This decree of Cyrus is given in Josephus' book of Antiquities of the Jews as follows: "I have given leave to as many of the Jews that dwell in my country to return to their own country, and to rebuild their city, and to build the temple of God at Jerusalem on the same place where it was before" (Book XI, Chap. I, Sec. 3). It would appear from Ezra 4:7, 11-16 that the Jews did repair the walls, but the work was brought to a standstill by the intervention of their enemies (Ezra 4:7-22). The work was hindered from going on till the time of the reign of Darius.
This decree has much to commend itself to us. First, the whole tenor of Daniel 9 would have led Daniel to assume that upon the completion of the Babylonian Captivity the 490 years would commence. The Babylonian Captivity ended in 536 B.C. when Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Second, the Bible suggests that the decree of Cyrus was a special act of God (II Chron. 36:22; Ezra 1:1-4; Isa. 44:28; 45:13). No such statements are recorded of the other decrees, although we can be sure that God was responsible for the other three (Prov. 21:1).
The great problem presented in this decree is that it is too far back to end at any point in the life of Jesus Christ. If it be the correct beginning point, then there is a grave error in our modern system of chronology. This may well be as we shall see later.
THE SECOND DECREE
The second decree was given in 519 B.C. by King Darius and is recorded in Ezra 6:1-12. This is a reaffirmation of the decree of Cyrus with penalties added to prevent interferences (Ezra 6:11-12). It concerned the rebuilding of the temple. Nothing is said of the rebuilding of the city.
THE THIRD DECREE
The third decree was that of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, given in 458 B.C. and recorded in Ezra 7:1- 22. It consisted of a letter giving Ezra permission to go up to Jerusalem and take with him some of the Levites. It also granted him authority to collect gold and silver to purchase animals for sacrifice in the temple and to draw on the king's treasures up to a stated amount. There is nothing in this decree which had any thing to do with the restoration of the city of Jerusalem.
THE FOURTH DECREE
This decree was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. in the twentieth year of his reign. Hanani and certain men from Jerusalem told Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, this message: "The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire" (Neh. 1:3). This drove the king's cupbearer to prayer and confession (Neh. 1:4-11).
The occasion of the decree is given in Nehemiah: "And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the CITY of the place of my fathers' sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the CITY of my fathers' sepulchers, that I may BUILD IT" (Neh. 2:1-5).
This decree primarily concerned the rebuilding of the city, not the temple. This command permitted the re-establishment of the Jewish nation, and its capital city. Josephus relates that Nehemiah called together the people of Jerusalem and made a speech to them upon his arrival. A part of the speech contains the following words: "You know, O Jews, that God hath kept our fathers, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in mind continually, and for the sake of their righteousness hath not left of the care of you. Indeed he hath assisted me in gaining this authority of the king to raise up our WALL, and finish what is wanting in the temple" (Book XI, Chap. V, Sec. 7).
To which decree does Daniel 9:25 have reference? It seems to me that Daniel himself gives the answer. Daniel's commandment concerns the rebuilding of Jerusalem, not the temple. This excludes the second and third decrees. The first decree primarily concerns the rebuilding of the temple with some rebuilding of the city, while in the fourth decree the primary stress is on rebuilding the city with little said of the temple. Therefore, it would appear that the fourth decree is the probable one to fit Daniel's prophecy.
Other facts tend to corroborate this date of 445 B.C. Daniel reveals that the command concerns the "streets" and "the wall." While there is mention of a wall in Ezra (Ch. 4:12-16; 5:3,8-9; 9:9), there are 31 references to the walls of Jerusalem in the Book of Nehemiah. Also in the book it is written: "So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days" (Neh. 6:15). Still again: "Now it came to pass, when the wall was BUILT. . ." (Neh. 7:1). The word "street" is mentioned 1 time in Ezra (Ch. 10:9) and 4 times in Nehemiah (Ch. 8:1,3,16).
The prophetic statesman mentions the city is to be rebuilt "in troublous times." The Jews experienced much through out all four of these decrees, but none as great as in the case of Nehemiah. Josephus says of this: "But now when the Ammonites, and Moabites, and Samaritans, and all that inhabited Celesyria, heard that the building went on apace, they took it heinously, and proceeded to lay snares for them, and to hinder their intentions. They also slew many of the Jews, and sought how they might destroy Nehemiah himself. . .And this TROUBLE he underwent for two years and four months; for in so long a time was the WALL BUILT, in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Xerxes, in the ninth month" (Book XI, Chap. 5, Sec. 8).
The most probable beginning point of the Seventy Weeks is the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus given in the presence of Nehemiah in 445 B.C. The Encyclopedia Britannica makes Artaxerxes accession to the throne as 465 B.C. and the 20th year would be 445 B.C. This seems to be a well-established historical date.
THE TERMINUS OF THE 483 YEARS
The prophecy of Daniel 9 makes the 69 weeks to reach "unto Messiah the Prince." But what period is this in the life of Christ? Is it His birth, or His baptism, or His triumphal entry, or His death, or His resurrection? Not all scholars can agree on the terminus of the 69th week.
There is a clue given in Daniel 9:25 which indicates the time referred to by the prophet. Note the words "unto Messiah the Prince." This is surely a reference to the time Christ manifested Himself to Israel as their Messiah and King. By the pen of Zechariah, Israel was told: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon the ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zech. 9:9). The Messiah and King would ride into Jerusalem on a colt. This was a sure sigh to them of the identity of the glorious Messiah and King of Israel.
The fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy is recorded in John's Gospel: "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt" ( John 12:12-15).
The fact that Jesus Christ at this time not only consented, but He also took steps to bring about His triumphal entry by commanding them to bring an ass (Matt. 21:1-3) strongly indicates this was a special day. Before He had requested that His Messiahship be kept quiet (Matt. 9:30; 12:16; 17:9). The Saviour on the occasion of the triumphal entry went so far as to say if the multitude ceased declaring His kingship the stones would cry out (Luke 19:39-40). Then this whole event must have been a very special day in the history of Christ's ministry on earth.
Luke gives this account with some additional details: "And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen: Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. . . .And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes" (Luke 19:35-38, 41-42).
Especially do we need to notice what He said in verse 42: "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace!" Joseph Rotherham, Kenneth Wuest, George Berry, and J. P. Green give "this thy day" as "in this day." The New English Bible has it "on this great day." What made this day so great was that Christ offered Himself to the Jews in Jerusalem as "the Messiah the Prince." This day was important because it marked the end of the 483 years of Daniel's prophecy.
The decree of King Artaxerxes was given in the month of Nisan (Neh. 2:1) and when Christ rode into Jerusalem it was the month of Nisan near the Passover ( John 12:1). Since I believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, I contend that from Nehemiah 2:1-8 unto Luke 19:35-45 was exactly 483 years to the day. I will for ever believe this even if all historical records speak to the contrary. God's Word is true for it is the words of Him Whom cannot lie. The 483 years foretold by Daniel proves that our God has indeed declared "the end from the beginning" (Isa. 46:10).
CAN WE COUNT THE TIME?
The time space between the dates should be 483 years to the day, unless man has erred in his system of reckoning time. But this is the problem. Man's chronology of this period has never been accurately determined. The almost universally received chronology of this time is dependent on the list of the kings and the number of years assigned to them in Ptolemy's Canon (A.D. 70-161). Ptolemy is the only authority that some appeal to for the chronology of this period.
But Ptolemy is contradicted (1) by the national traditions of Persia preserved in "Firdusi," (2) by the national tradition of the Jews preserved in the "Sedar Olam," (3) by the testimony of Josephus, (4) and by the conflicting evidences of such well-authenticated events as the Conference of Solon with Croesus. There seems to be good reason not to depend too much on Ptolemy's Canon.
I have not seen anyone who has been honest with the accepted chronology and made the time of the decree to some period in the life of Christ be exactly 483 years. Amillennialists evade the whole matter by making the number symbolical, which leaves room for much vain speculation. Premillennialists stick to the literal fulfillment, but they have a problem with the time element, using the accepted chronology.
Sir Robert Anderson counts this time from B.C. 445 to A. D. 32 as the 483 years. But his ending date is not according to the accepted chronology. Most would end according to modern scholarship at 30 A.D. A. C. Gaebelein and Alva McClain concur with Anderson. Clarence Larkin slightly disagrees with Anderson, claiming he is about 1 year and 5 days short of the 483 years. However, Larkin still comes out short of the 483 years, adding that there is an error in profane history.
David L. Cooper believes the starting point is the decree of Cyrus and the ending the crucifixion of Christ, but he has quite a problem in making his timetable work as it is about 90 years too long. He says the problem is an error in profane history. But perhaps the whole problem would be solved if he could show a 90 year time gap between the 49 years and the 434 years.
HOW WOULD WE COUNT THE TIME?
If we were going to try and count this time would we use the solar year or the Jewish year? Which calendar does God use in the Bible? The flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month (Gen. 7:11) and ended on the 17th day of the seventh month (Gen. 8:4). This is five months of 150 days (Gen. 7:24; 8:3), or 30 days to a month, or 360 days to a year. In Revelation there is mention of 42 months (Rev. 11:2) and the next verse counts it 1260 days (Rev. 11:3). The number 42 will go into 1260 30 times. This gives us a 30 day month. Thus in the Bible God uses the Jewish calendar which consists of 360 days. We would expect as much since the time in Daniel 9 concerns the Jews in Jerusalem.
The decree of King Artaxerxes was given in 445 B.C. Christ made His triumphal entry in A. D. 30. This is according to modern chronology. This is 475 solar years of 365 days. We must convert this to the Jewish years. When we multiply 475 years by 365 days, the number of days in a solar year, plus 115 days for leap years, we have 173,485 days. Then when we divide these days by 360, the number of days in the Jewish calendar, we have 481 years and 325 days. This is within two years of the time needed.
How do we account for this error? First, there are the best of reasons to believe that Ptolemy's Canon is inaccurate. Second, it may be due to my limited ability to count the time. Third, it may well be that in the next few years modern scholarship will uncover evidence which will show the time to be exactly 483 years. On this point more serious study is greatly needed.
I am convinced that this prophecy has a literal fulfillment as does all Bible prophecy. There are no errors in the Bible, not even in chronology. The believer has no choice but to be assured that it was exactly 483 years between the going forth of the decree and the triumphal entry of Christ. God's Word is true even when human histories are in error.
Chapter Three - The Parenthesis of the Seventy Weeks
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined" (Dan. 9:26).
Amillennialists hold that the Seventy Weeks followed in succession. They reject the thought of any gap in this period of time. To them the Seventy Weeks ended sometime during the life of Christ. Others, like myself, hold there is a parenthesis between the Sixty-Ninth Week and the Seventieth Week. Those who believe the first view hold to the continuous fulfillment theory, while we hold to the gap or parenthesis theory.
Generally, amillennialists argue against a gap between the Sixty-Ninth Week and the Seventieth Week by calling attention to the 430 years Abraham's descendants sojourned in Egypt (Gen. 15:13; Ex. 12:40; 3:17), the 40 years the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness (Num. 14:34), and the 70 years of Babylonian captivity which were fulfilled to a day. But they ignore the fact that there is no indication of a gap in any of these prophecies, yet the Seventy Weeks is given in three different time periods, 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week. Amillennialists have no explanation for the threefold division of the Seventy Weeks.
THE ERROR OF THE CONTINUOUS THEORY
Most amillennialists attempt to make the Seventy Weeks to end at Calvary. The fallacy of this continuous theory is seen from a number of things. First, Daniel 9:26-27 indicated the Messiah would be crucified after the Sixth-Ninth Week and before the confirmation of the covenant in the Seventieth Week. Second, the purpose of the Seventy Weeks were to be accomplished at the end of the whole period, not at a part of the period. Third, the Seventy Weeks were determined upon Daniel's people and Jerusalem, not the crucifixion of Christ. Fourth, two events predicated to happen between the last two weeks, the crucifixion (A.D. 30) and the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), required a period of at least 40 years. There is no way the four events of Daniel 9:26 can be crowded into the brief ministry of Christ on earth.
THE GAP THEORY VINDICATED
Those who hold to the parenthesis theory believe there is a great gap of time between the Sixty-Ninth Week and the Seventieth Week during which the four events predicted by the Prophet Daniel came to pass. Our basic arguments are as follows:
First, two gaps of time are indicated between the 49 years and 434 years and between the 434 years and the 7 years. Thus two parenthesis are indicated in Daniel's prophecy; otherwise, there is no reason for the threefold division of time. Between the Sixty- Ninth Week and the Seventieth Week is an indefinite period of time without any chronological bounds. This gap takes in the entire church age, a thing not revealed to the Old Testament saints. This period has already lasted over 1900 years. When the churches and the saints are removed from the earth by a pre-trib rapture, the Seventieth Week will begin and run its appointed course.
Second, a gap is demanded between the historical fulfillment of the two events of verse 26. The Messiah was cut off in A.D. 30 and the destruction of the temple occurred in A.D. 70. It would be utterly impossible to make the Seventieth Week, a period of 7 years, to be 40 years. Albert Einstein could never do that at his best state.
In an attempt to escape this problem the amillennialist either makes the Seventy Weeks highly symbolical numbers, or they say the Sixty-Nine Weeks were literally fulfilled while the Seventieth Week was an indefinite period. In the main the amillennial theory does not provide a literal interpretation of the text and its numerical chronology. It seeks to escape all theological difficulty by the spiritualization of the Scripture under consideration.
Third, the events of Daniel 9:24 are yet future to the nation of Israel. There has never yet been the national conversion of Israel, or the anointing of a new temple in Jerusalem. The literal fulfillment is still to occur, if the prophecy is to be fulfilled. Since the purpose of the Seventy Weeks has not been accomplished in the case of Daniel's people, there must yet remain the Seventieth Week.
Fourth, gaps are not uncommon in Old Testament prophecy, even when not indicated in the verse or context. In Psalm 2 the two advents of Christ are together, and in Isaiah 9:6 the two comings are together in one verse. There is no indication of a gap in Isaiah 9:6, but we know there is one of almost 2,000 years. The same may be said for Zechariah 9:9-10. The Old Testament prophets foretold "the sufferings of Christ" and some times in the same verse "the glory that should follow" (I Pet. 1:11).
Fifth, Christ spoke in the Olivet Discourse of "the abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15) being future and of it being associated with His return to earth. After giving the signs of the end of the age (Matt. 24:3- 14), He said: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)." Christ refers to the idol of the desolator mentioned in Daniel 9:27 which is to be set up in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
The Saviour continues: "Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:16-22).
Christ makes this time of unparalleled suffering to terminate by His second coming: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:29-30).
Christ did not apply Daniel 9:27 to His death at Calvary. He applied it to the time of "the great tribulation" just prior to "the coming of the Son of man" (Matt. 24:21, 27). Christ is putting a gap between the Sixty-Ninth and Seventieth Week, a gap which reached from His first advent all the way to His return to earth.
A LOOK AT THE GAP
What was to happen between the two gaps in the program of the Seventy Weeks? The walls of the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt during the first 49 years, but as to what would happen between the 49 years and 434 years we are not told by Daniel. However, Daniel 9:26 reveals four events which are to occur after the Sixty- Ninth Week and prior to the Seventieth Week. These four events strongly demand a gap in the time element of the Seventy Weeks, a time which takes in the time when the Jews are not in control of Jerusalem.
Daniel says: "After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off. . ." Please note that Daniel did not say: "In the middle of the Seventieth Week," or "At the end of the Seventieth Week." This cutting off of the Messiah was to happen after the elapse of the Sixty-Ninth Week, in the great parenthesis before the Seventieth Week. "After" does not mean immediately, but it denotes that which is to succeed (Gen. 15:14; 23:19; 25:26).
The word rendered "cut off" means "cut down." In Exodus 4:25 if refers to circumcision, and in other places to cutting of the head of a man (I Sam. 17:51; 31:9; II Sam. 20:22), or to cut off from the land of the living ( Jer. 11:19; 50:16), or the execution of the death penalty (Lev. 7:20), or the destruction of the wicked (Ps. 37:9). The general meaning is to cut off by physical death.
The anointed One or Messiah is our Lord Jesus Christ. He was cut off by His death upon the cross of Calvary (Isa. 53:8). The words, "but not for himself," may indicate the substitutionary aspect of the death of Christ. He died for the elect of God, for He had no sins of His own.
Some translated the Hebrew "shall have nothing," or "there was nothing to Him." This is nearer the meaning of the Hebrew text. This would mean Christ did not receive the kingdom of David promised to Him (Luke 1:30-33). Instead of receiving His throne, Christ was crucified and did not enjoy the glories of the Messianic Kingdom. He received no crown, except the crown of thorns. The Messiah was suddenly cut off by a violent death and so was the expectation of His disciples (Luke 24:21). This cutting off of the Messiah was all a part of God's eternal purpose, foretold hundreds of years before by Daniel the prophet.
THE COMING PRINCE
The next thing to claim our attention is the expression: ". . .the prince that shall come. . ." The prince is not the Messiah Who had already been called a Prince by Daniel (Dan. 9:25), but it is another prince to come after Christ is crucified. This coming prince's people would be the Romans; Christ was a Jew. This prince who would come after Christ is Antichrist. The Saviour spoke of him thusly: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" ( John 5:43).
This prince was not Antiochus, nor Titus Vespasianus, nor Herod the Great. The use of the words "people" and "prince that shall come" imply that neither Titus nor Herod could be the prince, for the words "shall come" mean the prince would come after the destruction of Jerusalem. This coming prince was well-known to Daniel as the Little Horn, the head of the revived Roman Empire (Dan. 7:7-8, 23-27).
JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE DESTROYED
Now observe the words: ". . .and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. . ." This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Roman legions under Titus Vespasianus. Caiaphas, the high priest, had foretold this event: "The Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" ( John 11:48). The Gentile invaders destroyed their place of worship and deprived them of what little share they had in the government. Since A.D. 70 the children of Israel has been "many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifices, and without an image, and with- out an ephod, and without teraphim" (Hos. 3:4). They have had no temple or nation. Jerusalem has been "trodden down of the Gentiles" and the Jews "led away captive into all nations" (Luke 21:24).
Jesus Christ ceased to recognize the Jewish temple as God's house after the events of Matthew 21. He said in Matthew 23:38: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." On the evening of the next day He looked over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and foretold its destruction: "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matt. 24:1-2).
This was literally fulfilled. Josephus says that Titus finally ordered the whole city and the sanctuary to be razed to its foundations, except three towers and part of the western wall, and that all the rest of the city wall "was so completely leveled with the ground that there was no longer anything to lead those who visited the spot to believe that it had ever been inhibited" (Wars of the Jews, Book VII, Chap. I, Sec. 1).
THE DESOLATION OF PALESTINE
The last expression reads in our Authorized Version: ". . .and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." The Septuagint reads: ". . .and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed he shall appoint the city of desolations." The Latin Vulgate renders it: ". . .after the end of the war desolation is determined." Prof. Stuart translates it: ". . .and unto the end shall be war, a decreed measure of desolations." Albert Barnes has it: ". . .and unto the end of the war desolations are decreed." A. C. Gaebelein gives it: ". . .and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end war, the desolation determined." Regardless of the rendering you may choose to accept, the meaning is the sudden destruction of Jerusalem and the decreed desolations upon her to the end.
This is exactly what happened in A.D. 70. The war the Romans waged with the Jews ended in the destruction of the city and temple and overthrew the whole Hebrew polity. No war was ever marked by more desolations.
In A.D. 70 Titus besieged Jerusalem a few days before the Passover. He had at his disposal four full legions plus numerous auxiliaries. For five months the Holy City held out against this force. At last the central fort-- Antonia, the Temple, and the Herodian Palace--were taken foot by foot. The temple lay in ruin and as many as a million Jews were killed or captured. The city was so razed that there remained nothing but three towers (Hippicus, Phasacl, Mariamne) and part of the west wall. These stood lonely against the hard sky in the midst of desolation.
The depth of the tragedy is seen in the bitter cry of the Talmud that "for seven years the Gentiles fertilized their vineyards with the blood of Israel without using manure" (Babylonian Talmud, Nashim VII, Gittin, 57a, Vol. XXI, 264-265).
Rabbi Joshua summarized the general feeling of the Jews: "Since the destruction of the temple there has been no day without some curse, the dew has not fallen to the good of the crops, and the taste of the fruit is gone."
No Jewish community of any size survived in Judea. The population was destroyed, deported, or reduced to utter destitution. The Jews endured to the fullest extent "the desolations determined" by Almighty God.
Under Hadrian the Romans began to refortify Jerusalem as a Gentile city and call it Colonia Aelia Capitolina. This name described it as a Roman colony. Under the leadership of Rabbi Akiba and Bar Kochba Palestine became the scene of a major challenge to Roman authority. Half-million Jews died as Severus Hadrian's general subdued the country city by city.
Finally everything Jewish was forbidden-- Sabbath observance, fasts and holy days, and the study of the Torah. Jews were forbidden even to enter the pagan city built on the site of Jerusalem. A temple was built where the former Jewish temples had stood on Mount Moriah and dedicated to the heathen god, Jupiter Capitolinus.
The name Aelia continued for several centuries. Constantine removed the ban against Jews entering the Holy City. In A.D. 614 the Persians under Chosroes II captured Jerusalem and massacred the inhabitants. From 637- 1517 the city alternated between the possession of Moslems and Christians, the Crusaders capturing it in A.D. 1099. Three times since that time has the city been in Christian hands and as many times fallen into the hands of the Moslems.
Jerusalem has been the scene of numerous wars since A.D. 70, for the whole Gentile age is a time of "wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6). The wars and desolations will continue into the Seventieth Week of Daniel. Revelation 11:2 reveals: "But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." There will be a war raging in Jerusalem when Christ comes back to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:1- 9). The desolating wars of Jerusalem will not terminate until the Millennium (Isa. 35:1; 55:13; Joel 2:24-26).
In 1897 the Zionist movement began. Scattered Jews began to seek a home in their ancient land. In May, 1948, Israel became a nation for the first time since A.D. 70. In 1967 she fought a war which gave her control of the city of Jerusalem for the first time in many centuries. Thus there are some good reasons to believe that God is getting ready to deal with Israel as a nation once again and to terminate the "times of the Gentiles."
You and I live near the end of the great parenthesis, or the gap covering the whole of the church age. Events in the Middle East point to the rapid commencement of the Seventieth Week of Daniel's prophecy. The revival of the ten nations out of the land area of the Old Roman Empire is fast in the making. Soon the coming Roman prince, the Antichrist, will appear to unite these ten nations and make a covenant with Israel. This second Antiochus will pollute their temple and fill their land with bloody desolations.
The rapture of the saints can occur at any moment. The words of Christ: "Behold, I come quickly," has emphasis today which will increase with tomorrow, until it ceases to be prophecy, and is seen actualized in the sight of them that look for Him.
Chapter Four - The Prince of the Seventy Weeks
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Dan. 9:27).
Having accounted for Sixty-Nine of the Seventy Weeks, the angel proceeds to take notice of the remaining Seventieth Week. In the final seven years some important events are to happen to the nation of Israel. As has been the case throughout the Seventy Weeks, this space of time concerns events, which involve the Jews in Jerusalem.
The interpretation of verse 27 of Daniel 9 is a very controversial one. The amillennialists and premillennialists are poles apart on what the meaning of this verse really is. Amillennialists spiritualize the Seventy Weeks and have no specific chronology in order to escape theological difficulties. At least one amillennialist, Philip Mauro, would make the Sixty-Nine weeks literal and one-half of the last week, but he has no fulfillment of the climax. In the main it may be said that the amillennial view does not provide for a literal fulfillment of the prophecy. Premillennialists believe in a literal fulfillment, which requires a future seven years, separated by a gap between the last two weeks.
The key to the whole passage is to determine for certain who the "he" is in this verse, for the "he" is the principle actor. Many amillennialists claim that the "he" refers to "Messiah the Prince" in verse 25. On the other hand, premillennialists hold it is the coming Roman Prince in verse 26. They believe another Caesar is to arise, a pseudo Christ, and an Antichrist.
Concerning the pronoun "he" Robert D. Culver says, "If the pronoun 'he' were present in the Hebrew a case might possibly be made for the introduction of an entirely new personality into the story at this point. However, there is no pronoun--only the third masculine singular form of the verb indicates that an antecedent is to be sought, and that of necessity in the preceding context. There is only one antecedent admissible, according to the accepted rule that the last preceding noun, which agrees in gender and number and agrees with the sense is the antecedent. This is unquestionably the naghidh habo, 'the coming prince' of verse 26 (Daniel In The Latter Days, p. 151).
In further confirmation of what Bro. Culver has said, I would point out some other things. First, the context reveals that the Messiah has been crucified and Jerusalem destroyed. Therefore, this person must be someone to come on the scene after these events. Second, the "he" in Daniel 9:27 cannot be the Lord Jesus Christ because the Saviour never did the things this person is said to do. Third, at least two amillennialists, Carl Keil and Herbert Leupold, concede the "he" is Antichrist.
"SHALL CONFIRM THE COVENANT WITH MANY"
Amillennialists make this the new covenant mentioned by Christ in Matthew 26:28. They claim this verse shows how Christ caused the Covenant of Grace to prevail. I affirm as strongly as they do that Jesus Christ by His obedience to the law of God did fulfill at Calvary His part of the Covenant of Grace. But I do not believe this is the covenant mentioned in our text.
I concede that the passage would better read from the Hebrew as they point out: "And he shall cause to prevail a covenant." But I am unable to see how this helps my amillennial friends. First, it removes "the" and replaces it with "a" which makes it a less probable reference to the Covenant of Grace. Second, it seems to go against the whole scheme of covenant theology. It seems to me they are saying the Covenant of Grace did not prevail until the death of Christ. But the covenant was made in eternity past and prevailed in the salvation of the Old Testament saints for 4,000 years before the death of Christ. If the covenant did not prevail during Old Testament times, then it is not the everlasting covenant of which the Bible speaks (Isa. 54:10; II Sam. 23:5; Heb. 13:20).
The makers of the covenant in Daniel 9:27 is the coming prince of verse 26: "The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." The prince in verse 26 is not called "Messiah the Prince" which was the title of Christ in verse 25, but he is called "the prince that shall come." The prince of verse 26 comes after Messiah the Prince has been crucified.
The destroyers of Jerusalem are called his people. History records that Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman people in A. D. 70. Hence it follows that the coming prince cannot be a Jew, for the Jews did not destroy the city of Jerusalem. The maker of this covenant is the Roman Prince to arise in the last stage of the Roman Empire before the coming of Christ to the earth. In no sense can the pagan Roman soldiers who razed Jerusalem be said to be Christ's people.
The Prophet Daniel had already mentioned this future emperor of the Roman Empire in chapter 7 of his book. In this chapter he saw the vision of the four beasts (Dan. 7:1-7), which represented four political empires to arise out of the earth (Dan. 7:17). The last of the four empires is Rome. The last beast (Rome) had ten horns and a little horn (Dan. 7:7). Daniel was told these ten horns were the "ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them" (Dan. 7:24). The Little Horn is a future strong man who will rule over ten kingdoms in the land area of the old Roman Empire. The rule of the Little Horn is terminated by the kingdom of Christ (Dan. 7:26-27).
The Little Horn's rule will be characterized by severe persecution of the saints: "And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (Dan. 7:25). The similarity between this verse and Daniel 9:27 is not accidental.
The Roman Prince severely persecutes the Jews and seeks to change times and laws which govern them as a people. This is to continue "until a time and times, and the dividing of time" --three and a half years. This is exactly the length of time the desolator is said to work in Daniel 9:27. Hence the "he" in Daniel 9:27 is the little horn of Daniel 7. He is the "king of fierce countenance" in Daniel 8 and the Wilful King in chapter 11. The covenant maker in Daniel 9:27 is Paul's "man of sin" (II Thess. 2:3) and John's future Antichrist (I John 2:18; Rev. 13:1-8).
The coming Roman Prince makes this covenant with Daniel's people as the context would indicate. It is not made with all Jews which live at that time, but with "many." This covenant is made with the apostate Jews. The King of fierce countenance "by peace shall destroy many" --the many unbelieving Jews with whom the covenant is confirmed (Dan. 8:25). There are many saved Jews who will not be a party to this covenant (Dan. 12:3, 10; Rev. 7:1-8).
What is the purpose of this covenant? Judging from the context, it must have something to do with the reactivation of the Mosaic sacrificial system in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. I say this because the Coming Prince causes a cessation of these after the first half of the Seventieth Week. Daniel speaks of this time in chapter 12:11. Christ speaks of a temple in Jerusalem before His second coming (Matt. 24:15-27). John and Paul speak of this temple (Rev. 11:1-2; II Thess. 2:4). Since the coming Prince stops the sacrifice and oblation, the covenant must have permitted these to be in operation before this action is taken.
We know from the prophecies of the Bible the Jews will be gathered back to their own land (Isa. 43:5-7; Jer. 16:14-15). In May of 1948 Israel became a nation. Today the Jew is back in Jerusalem. The repossession of their homeland has awakened a strong desire to revive their sacrificial form of worship. There is talk of a Great Synagogue and of showbread being baked. The Orthodox Jews in Israel are excited about finding a pure red heifer that would be acceptable in fulfilling requirements for purification in order to resume temple worship. Cohens and Levites are being trained and some are being subjected to DNA testing to see if they qualify for priestly and temple service. The Temple Institute is busy producing temple furnishings and musical instruments. Israel is being pressured by all nations in the United Nations to give away land for peace. This will make it easy for Jerusalem to be besieged by enemy armies. Hence we see the elementary stage of the revival of the Mosaic system is in sight in our generation.
These future plans of restored Israel face a very serious problem. On the very spot on which their old temple stood, there stands a Mohammedan mosque, a sacred place in the world to millions of Moslem people. The U.S. wants peace in the Middle East, and they would oppose the destruction of the mosque for a new Jewish temple for fear of war with the Arabs and Russia. Bible prophecy indicates a strong man will arise in the revived Roman Empire and enter into a covenant with many of the Jews which will permit the re-establishment of the Old Testament form of worship. This is the coming prince of Daniel 9:26-27.
If such a person should arise soon and offer Israel such a treaty, they would immediately accept it. It is their acceptance of such a treaty, which marks the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel. But when they agree to the terms of the treaty offered them by the Coming Prince, they will have made "a covenant with death" and an agreement with Hell (Isa. 28:15). After three and a half years they will discover it is a refuge of lies (Isa. 28:15). By the mouth of Isaiah the prophet the Lord has said to Israel: "And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it" (Isa. 28:18).
"FOR ONE WEEK"
Antichrist makes a one-week covenant with the apostate Jews. This is seven years of 360 days to a year, or the Seventieth Week of Daniel. The limitation of this covenant destroys the attempt of the amillennialists to make this the Covenant of Grace. In no sense can a seven-year covenant be made into an everlasting covenant. Such action is gross spiritualizing. It indicates a position adopted only because of extreme exegetical necessity and by those who are "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25).
Amillennialists cannot establish from the Scriptures anything, which remotely resembles a seven-year covenant, which Christ made with Israel while on the earth. The New Covenant in Matthew 26:28 was made with the church, not Israel. Daniel's covenant concerns the Jews in Jerusalem. The Seventy Weeks are determined on the Jews in Jerusalem. It was the Jews in Jerusalem who crucified Christ with the help of the Romans. It was the Jews in Jerusalem who suffered in the Roman invasion of A. D. 70, and it is the Jews in Jerusalem with whom the Coming Prince makes the seven-year covenant.
Men are a party to the covenant in Daniel 9:27, for it is made with "many" of Daniel's people. The covenant of Grace was not made with man, but it was made among the Trinity in eternity past. No elect man was a party to this great covenant since all were unborn at that time. The elect were the concern of the covenant, but the covenant was made by the Trinity with Christ as the covenant Head of the elect. Any covenant, which makes man a covenanting party is not the Covenant of Grace.
"AND IN THE MIDST OF THE WEEK HE SHALL CAUSE THE SACRIFICE AND THE OBLATION TO CEASE"
By "sacrifice and oblation" I understand the bloody and nonbloody sacrifices being offered in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. By the "midst of the week" I believe he means after three and a half years. The coming Roman Prince causes the Mosaic institutions to cease in the middle of the Seventieth Week. The three and half years are very significant. This is the precise duration of Antichrist power (Rev. 13:5). It is the duration of Israel's being miraculously fed (Rev. 12:6) and her protection from the face of the Serpent (Rev. 12:14). It is the duration of the down treading of Jerusalem by the Gentiles (Rev. 11:2). It is the exact time of the duration of the persecution by the Little Horn (Dan. 7:25).
There is a strong hint of the same period of time with a few days added in the duration of the abomination of desolation (Dan. 12:11). To this may be added the duration of the daily sacrifice and abomination of desolation (Dan. 8:13-14) and the duration from the setting up of the abomination to the hour of blessing (Dan. 12:11-12). It will take a better imagination than mine to assume that all of these things are accidental and without meaning.
Amillennialists apply these words to Christ destroying the Jewish sacrifice by His death. It is true that the death of Christ did cause the sacrifices to cease to be legitimate (Heb. 7:11; 8:13; 9:25-26), but He did not literally abolish them. They continued until A. D. 70. They ceased because the Roman soldiers destroyed the temple.
"AND FOR THE OVERSPREADING OF ABOMINATIONS HE SHALL MAKE IT DESOLATE, EVEN UNTIL THE CONSUMMATION"
The translation of these words is difficult as most Hebrew scholars freely admit. The marginal reading has it: "Upon the battlement shall be the idols of the desolator." The Septuagint gives it: "On the temple shall be the abomination of desolations." The Latin Vulgate renders it: "And there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation." The Septuagint and Vulgate seem to harmonize well with Christ's question of Daniel 9:27 as given in the Gospel of Matthew: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place" (Matt. 24:15).
This part of our verse reveals what causes the Mosaic system to cease in the tribulation temple. It is the erection of an idol in the holy place. This is the image of the Beast that the False Prophet causes men to worship under threat of death (Rev. 13:15; 20:4). The Apostle Paul says the Man of Sin shall sit "in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (II Thess. 2:4).
In the Bible an idol is called an abomination (I Kings 11:5-7). In most cases the word "abomination" means a false god in the Old Testament (Deut. 29:17; II Kings 23:13, 24; Isa. 66:3; Jer. 4:1; 7:30; 13:27; 32:34; Ezek. 5:11; 7:20; 20:7-8, 30; Hos. 9:10; Zech. 9:7). The Jews cannot worship Jehovah with an idol of Antichrist in their temple. Therefore, the worship will immediately cease and Israel will flee to the mountains (Mat. 24:16-24) and into the wilderness (Rev. 12:13- 17). Antichrist will declare war on these Jews (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5-7) and shall tread their holy city under foot (Rev. 11:1-2). This will be a time of universal anti-Semitism, the "time of Jacob's trouble" ( Jer. 30:7) and a time of great trouble to Daniel's people (Dan. 12:1).
Amillennialists make these words point to the Roman army in the destruction of Jerusalem and to their banner being put on some part of the temple. According to Josephus, the Roman soldiers did bring their ensigns and set them over against the eastern gate and offer sacrifices to them (Book VI, Chap. 6, Sec. 1). Amillennialists point out the fact that the siege lasted from spring of 67 A.D. to the autumn of A. D. 70.
I do not question that the events happened to which the amillennialists refer, but I do not see how these events fulfilled Daniel 9:27. First, it is strange to me how the "he" in this verse is Christ until they reach the setting up of an idol in the temple, then, suddenly and without any reason except to escape theological difficulty, the actors are the Roman soldiers. They are forced to make this change to avoid having Christ set up an idol in the Jewish temple. It is also strange to this writer that they have no difficulty in going back to verse 26 to get these Romans, but are totally unable to see the "he" goes back to the Coming Prince in verse 26.
Second, the Jews did not cease to offer sacrifices because the Romans sacrificed to their idols over against the eastern gate. The Romans did not offer their sacrifices in the holy place as it was still in the hands of the Jews until it fell in A. D. 70. If the sacrifices ceased to be offered during the siege, it was because they lacked animals, not because the Romans were in the temple area. The Romans did not desecrate the temple for three and a half years. It was desecrated only after it was taken in A. D. 70.
"AND THAT DETERMINED SHALL BE POURED UPON THE DESOLATE"
This last phrase is differently understood by scholars. The last word is translated by Tregelles "the causer of desolation," meaning the Antichrist. The marginal rendering is "desolator." If this be the correct rendering, then the reference is clearly to Antichrist and his destruction (Dan. 7:11; 11:45; II Thess. 2:8). This interpretation seems to be confirmed by the preceding words "he shall make it desolate." Most premillennialists hold this is the meaning. This may very well be the meaning that Daniel had in mind.
However, if we are to retain "the desolate" as our version has it, then the meaning would be Jerusalem, which has been reduced to desolations. The Septuagint renders it: "And at the end of the time an end shall be put to the desolation." The preceding verse in Daniel 9 mentions wars and desolations which are determined upon the city of Jerusalem to the end. In verse 27 "until the consummation" is better translated "until the full end." Thus verse 27 in its last part speaks of the termination of the desolation of Jerusalem. Its desolation will not end until the Seventy Weeks have run their course.
The "be poured" means "to overflow as rain water." What has God determined to pour upon Jerusalem? The answer is found in Zechariah 12:10: "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications." Then Zechariah goes on to tell of the conversion of Israel as a nation. Joel 2:28-3:21 has reference to this same time. In that day Jesus Christ will dwell in Jerusalem ( Joel 3:17) and "Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion" ( Joel 3:20-21). In connection with the out pouring of the Spirit upon Jerusalem and the peaceful reign of Christ there will be an end to the desolation of Jerusalem.
What shall be poured upon Jerusalem is what God has determined. Note verse 24 of Daniel 9 again: "Seventy weeks are DETERMINED upon thy people and UPON THEY HOLY CITY, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." The Jews in Jerusalem will enjoy the sixfold covenant blessing at the end of the Seventy Weeks. Israel as a nation will never know these blessings until that time.
The career of the final Antichrist will be short. A sovereign God has decreed that the series of his abominations, and desolating impieties are limited to three and a half years. When the Seventy Weeks have run their course, the transgression shall be ended, sin finally shut up, all former iniquity buried, an everlasting righteousness brought in, all sacred visions and prophecies vindicated and fulfilled, and a holy of holies installed. What a light the Seventy Weeks throws over the ages of time. Here is proof of the divine inspiration of the Bible and the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Why should men persist in disowning and rejecting Jesus Christ?
I can hear some critic saying, "No person ever came up with such an idea about Daniel 9:24-27 until John Darby (1800-1882) and C. I. Scofield (1843-1921) came on the scene." But this is untrue. Irenaeus (130-202), bishop of Lyons, connected Daniel 9:24-27 with Antichrist, and Irenaeus also believed when Antichrist's kingdom was overthrown the kingdom of Christ would be set up on earth.
He wrote: "The Lord also spoke as follows to those who did not believe in Him: 'I have come in my Father's name, and ye have not received Me: when another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive,' calling Antichrist 'the other,' because he is alienated from the Lord. This is also the unjust judge, whom the Lord mentioned as one 'who feared not God, neither regarded man,' to whom the widow fled in her forgetfulness of God,--that is, the earthly Jerusalem,-- to be avenged of her adversary. Which also he shall do in the time of his kingdom; he shall remove his kingdom into the (city), and shall sit in the temple of God, leading astray those who worship him, as if he were Christ. To this purpose Daniel says again: 'And he shall desolate the holy place; and sin has been given for a sacrifice, and righteousness been cast away in the earth, and he has been active (fecit), and gone on prosperously.' And the angel Gabriel, when explaining his vision, states with regard to this person: 'And towards the end of their kingdom a king of most fierce countenance shall arise, one understand (dark) questions, and exceedingly powerful, full of wonders; and he shall corrupt, direct, influence people likewise; and his yoke shall be directed as a wreath (round their neck); deceit shall be in his hand, and he shall be lifted up in his heart; he shall also ruin many by deceit, and lead many to perdition, bruising them in his hand like eggs.' And then he points out the time that his tyranny shall last, during which the saints shall be put to flight, they who offer a pure sacrifice unto God; 'And in the midst of the week,' he says, 'the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away, and the abomination of desolation (shall be brought) into the temple: even unto the consummation of the time shall the desolation be complete.' Now three years and six months constitute the half week" (Irenaeus Against Heresies, p. 554).
Hear him still again: "But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that 'many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'" (p. 560).
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726