Why Study Eschatology?
In order to understand the plan of God for the coming days, it is essential to approach it with the proper paradigm. For instance, if I do not believe fire exists, why would I build a fire station and fire trucks? If I do not believe that people die, why would I purchase life insurance? If I do not believe that God’s Word is true, why would I receive Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior? If I do not believe that Jesus returns only once at the end of the great tribulation, why would I prepare?
I am doing a series of blogs adapted from my book “Kingdom Government and the Promise of Sheep Nations”. It gets straight to the point on how I believe the timeline of the last days will play out in a general sense. My view can be summarized as historic pre-millennialism meaning that I reject the notion of a pre-tribulation rapture. I believe it is essential to define what we believe about the Lord’s plan for the last days. It is a very simple issue in my mind. If people do not believe there is problem, why are they going to search for a solution? It only makes sense to spend our time solving the problems that we have. Why waste time and energy developing solutions to problems that we do not believe exist? However, when problems do exist, and we are convinced they do not exist, we are deceived. Deception leaves us, along with our families, in a compromised position. I believe that planning on a pre-tribulation rapture will leave many in a compromised position, but if they are going to abandon this perspective, they will need evidence. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6) In my first book Noah’s Ark and the End of Days, I devoted nearly one hundred pages to systematically dissecting end-time events in order to bring understanding and context. What will follow in a series of blogs will be a brief overview of what was introduced, revised and interwoven with new material. Today, I will be discussing a well debated passage of scripture, Daniel’s 70 weeks.
Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy
The end-time timeline revolves around Israel and the Jews. A large portion of our understanding is based on a passage of scripture known as Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy. In this passage, a timeline is given to Daniel regarding the future of His people—the Jewish people. The first sixty nine “weeks” of this prophecy deal strictly with the Jewish people, much of it occurring before the birth of Jesus. Just like the first sixty nine weeks of this prophecy, Daniel’s seventieth week also deals entirely with the Jewish people. However, we will find that the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week and the great tribulation occupy the same three and one half year period. For future reference, three and one half prophetic years are composed of forty two months each having exactly thirty days. What is Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy?
“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. 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. 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. 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.” (Daniel 9:24-27)
Briefly summarized, the word translated “weeks” is the Aramaic word shabuwa, which literally means “sevened” and is understood by virtually all biblical scholars to denote sets of seven years. Seventy sets of seven prophetic year periods are appointed to the Jewish people according to this passage. We know that it is referring to the Jewish people because the prophet Daniel is told that these weeks are appointed for “his people.” Daniel was Jewish, so “his people” are the Jewish people. This also means that this prophecy is appointed for the city of Jerusalem, since that would be considered his “holy city”. At that time years were measured in three hundred and sixty day cycles, thus prophetic years are three hundred and sixty days. Today, we use a Gregorian calendar based on 365 day cycles with an extra day added every four years. The passage continues with a list of qualifications that signal the end of this period of time. The fulfillment of these qualifications will lead us into the millennial rule. We will now break this down verse by verse. As you will see, I have inserted commentary in brackets to help with understanding.
“Seventy weeks [70 sevened = 490 years] are determined upon thy people [Jews] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem], 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 [usher in the millennial rule].” (Daniel 9:24)
This prophecy began well after Cyrus ended the seventy year captivity of the Jews during Daniel’s lifetime. The seventy year captivity was declared by Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 25:11). This prophecy we call Daniel’s seventy weeks actually came as a result of Daniel’s intercession for his people because he understood by “the books” that the seventy year captivity of the Jews were up (Daniel 9:2). Although it is not recorded by Daniel, King Cyrus ended the Jewish captivity at that time. He also commanded the rebuilding of the house of God, but there was no follow through (Ezra 6:3). The succession of world rulers was as follows: Cyrus was succeeded by Cambyses, who was succeeded by Smerdis, who was succeeded by Darius (not Darius the Mede of Daniel 5:31 but another Darius), who was succeeded by Xerxes, who was succeeded by his son Artaxerxes. The first sixty nine sets of seven years or 173,880 days began on the equivalent of our March 14, 445 BC when king Artaxerxes reaffirmed the decision of Cyrus and again commanded the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8)1 . This becomes our point of reference because at this command the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple actually took place.
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [King Artaxerxes] unto the Messiah the Prince [Jesus] shall be seven weeks [7 sevened = 49 years], and threescore and two weeks [62 sevened = 434 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times [see the book of Nehemiah].” (Daniel 9:25) The scripture above mentions that there are seven weeks and sixty two weeks between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and Jesus. This is where we get the sixty nine weeks of the prophecy (62 weeks +7 weeks = 69 weeks). Due to the precise nature of this prophecy, in that the numbers are so specific, it can only be interpreted in light of actual historical events. The first sixty nine weeks ended on the equivalent of our April 6, 32 AD. This is the very day Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, being acknowledged openly as the Messiah for the first time by the Jews (Luke 19:40)2 . Thus the first sixty nine weeks, according to Daniel 9:25, would have seen their conclusion on this date.
The exact number of days between March 14, 445 BC and April 6, 32 AD is 173,880 days. The following equation was beautifully constructed by Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman in their book Alien Encounters. It takes into account 365 day Gregorian calendar days and our dates of equivalency.
445 BC – 32 AD (476 x 365) = 173,740
March 14 – April 6 = 24
Leap Years = + 116
Total days = 173,880 3
As we can see from this equation, the timeline of this prophecy was fulfilled to the very day! You will notice that the next verse begins with the phrase “and after threescore and two weeks.” Please keep in mind that “seven weeks” precede the “threescore and two weeks.” Therefore, the events it goes on to describe essentially occur after the first sixty nine weeks. In other words, they happen after April 6, 32 AD which is the day that Jesus is acknowledged openly as the Messiah. “And after threescore and two weeks [62 sevened] shall Messiah be cut off [Jesus crucified], 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 [figurative of the assault on Jerusalem in 70 AD], and unto the end of the war [destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD] desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:26)
It was after the first sixty nine weeks of prophetic years (or 173,880 days) that Jesus was crucified for all flesh. He did not die for Himself because He needed no savior. It was also after the first sixty nine weeks of prophetic years that Jerusalem was destroyed. This is in response to the prophecy that “the people of the prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. This shifts our attention from Messiah to the “prince to come” (representative of an antichrist). The word “flood” in verse 26 comes from the Aramaic word “sheteph” meaning a deluge literally or figuratively. In this case, it was used to figuratively describe the assault on Jerusalem, and rightly so. The assault on Jerusalem was severe and devastating and at the end of the war, the armies of Rome descended upon Jerusalem as a flood. The Roman general Titus not only destroyed the city in 70 AD, but also the temple. The historical accounts are graphic and sorrowing. Not one stone of the temple was left standing upon another (Mark 13:2). Verse 27 will move us into the events surrounding the seventieth “week”.
“And he [antichrist, man of sin, son of perdition] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seventieth sevened, 7 years]: and in the midst of the week [3½ sevened = 42 months = 1,260 days] he [antichrist] shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease [occurring in the third temple in Jerusalem], and for the overspreading of abominations [reference to the abomination of desolation] he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation [Return of Christ], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate [Bowls of God’s wrath].” (Daniel 9:27)
The beginning of the “seventieth week” occurs when the final antichrist “he” signs a covenant with “many.” How do we know that the “he” in this verse refers to the final antichrist? We know this by cross-referencing passages such as: 1 John 2:18, Daniel 7:8, Daniel 8:9, Daniel 11:21-45, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, and Revelation 13:1-5. These passages contain overlapping information that adds to our understanding of who this is and what he will do. Apart from cross-referencing Scripture, we have to keep in mind that the transition from messiah to “the prince that shall come” was made in the previous verse. This puts our view on an antichrist figure. In Daniel 9:27, our view of the antichrist figure is expanded beyond the parameters of what was fulfilled by Titus (or any other type of antichrist throughout history) and into qualities that can only be associate with an antichrist figure that is yet to come. Who is the “many?” The entire passage in Daniel 9:24-27 is declared to concern Daniel’s people (Israel), so it follows that this “many” is most likely the nation of Israel. It may include other nations as well. This means that the final antichrist or beast will already be on earth before the final “week” begins. This idea is important to for us grasp. The period defined as Daniel’s seventieth week has no bearing on the actual amount of time the final antichrist may be present on the earth. Understanding the seventieth “week” has admittedly caused division within the body of Christ. It seems as though there are as many timelines dealing with the events housed by this time period as there are researchers and teachers talking about it. Without attacking other perspectives, I will do my best to present a clear, simple and logical explanation of the issue in the next blog, where I will unpack my thoughts on “The Gap.”