The Seventieth Week of Daniel

“Seventy weeks (sevens) are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy one … He will confirm a covenant with many (one week). In the middle of the week he will put and end to sacrifice and offering. And one who causes desolation will come …”. (Daniel 9:24,26)

Dispensational teaching claims that the six things to be accomplished in the seventieth week of Daniel have been decreed for Israel and that it is obvious that not one of them has yet been accomplished. ‘Everlasting righteousness’ is often used as an example of one of these six things, citing the present condition of the earthly city of Jerusalem as proof that this promise has obviously not been fulfilled.

However, looking to the condition of the earthly city of Jerusalem for evidence that none of the six things decreed have as yet been accomplished, is inappropriate and extremely misleading and unwittingly detracts from the very essence of the gospel. As these six prophetic promises go to the very heart of the gospel I felt constrained to respond, citing the testimony of scripture to show how these things have been accomplished through the cross.

The notion that none of the six things have been accomplished for Israel gives rise to the so-called “gap theory” which suggests that Daniel’s ‘seventy sevens’ have been interupted, and that we should still expect these things to be fulfilled some time in the indeterminate future, when the last of the seventy ‘weeks’ will take place. (It is worth noting that a prophetic timeline comprising ‘seventy sevens’ – i.e. four hundred and ninety years – is quite meaningless if an undetermined period of two thousand years or more can be arbitrarily inserted between the definite start and end of that period.)

The Lord said that he would make a new covenant with Israel (Jer. 31:31). At the last supper Jesus said that the cup represented the blood of the new covenant, which was poured out for many (Mat. 26:28) – the covenant put into effect by the shedding of his blood on the cross. By this covenant, all six things decreed for Israel were indeed accomplished – as I will shortly demonstrate from scripture – and this constitutes the good news proclaimed in the New Testament.

‘He shall make a covenent with many (one week),’ thus refers to the covenant made in Messiah’s blood, and not to a mythical covenant that the anti-Christ will supposedly make with the Jewish people in a reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem – before that Temple and city are once again destroyed.

The ‘gap theory’ implies that the six things decreed for Israel will be accomplished by some other means than through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross in his first coming. Dispensationalism teaches that the fulfilment of these things remains a future hope and that this period of preaching the gospel is but a parenthesis (or gap) until the last of the “seventy weeks” is to be counted. Let us briefly consider these six things:

1. To finish the transgression

The original transgression of Adam resulted in the exile from the Garden of Eden and in death. The Good News is that Jesus has indeed put an end to that transgression through his death on the cross and men may now be reconciled to God through Christ, the promised Redeemer.

ROMANS 5:12-21: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2. To put an end to sin

Since the disobedience of Adam, the Scriptures declare that the whole world is a prisoner of sin (Galatians 3:22). The Good News is that through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, those who believe may be set free from the power of sin.

MATTHEW 1:21: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.

GALATIANS 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (or sinful nature).

HEBREWS 9:26 But as it is, he (Jesus Christ) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away (put an end to) sin by the sacrifice of himself.

ROMANS 8:1-4: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

3. To atone for wickedness

The blood of animals that were once offered to make atonement for people’s sins were offered annually under the old covenant in order to serve as a reminder of sin until such time that the Lord himself would make atonement for the sins of the whole world (including those of Israel). The Good News is that Jesus Christ has made atonement for wickedness.

ROMANS 3:25: God presented him (Jesus Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.

1JOHN 2:2 He (Jesus Christ) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1JOHN 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

4. To bring in everlasting righteousness

No one could attain righteousness in spite of their knowledge of the Law because people were sinful by nature. The Good News is that through faith in Jesus Christ we are made righteous (put right with God) by faith in the finished work of the cross and by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit working within us.

ROMANS 1:17: For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last (i.e. everlasting righteousness), just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

ROMANS 3:21-22: But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

5. To seal up vision and prophecy

The Good News is that God’s promise to Abraham, that all nations will be blessed through his Seed, (i.e. Jesus Christ), has now become a present reality. The Good News is that in Jesus Christ, the Law and the prophets have found their complete fulfilment. (Dispensationalism erroneously assigns separate prophetic promises to Israel and the church). Gentiles have become one body with faithful Israel and sharers together in God’s promises (see Ephesians chapter 2).

REVELATION 19:10: …the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

2 CORINTHIANS 1:20-22: …no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

HEBREWS 1:1: In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

EPHESIANS 3:2-6: Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

6. To anoint the most holy

The anointing was associated with the kings and priests and also with the Most Holy Place of the Temple.

The Good News is that according to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and 8:14, the God of Israel became a sanctuary (temple) and made His dwelling among His people, no longer in the temple built with stones, but in the person of Jesus Christ and after his ascent in the temple of his anointed disciples who have become living stones built together as a holy temple in the Lord (see Ephesians 2:21).

JOHN 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

LUKE 4:14-21: Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

It was written by Daniel that the Messiah would come after 483 years of the decree of King Cyrus (sixty-nine ‘sevens’ are four-hundred-and-eighty years). After Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit he ministered for three-and-a-half years, and in the middle of the last ‘seven’, i.e. the seventieth ‘seven’, he made the new covenant in his blood and accomplished all of the six things that had been prophesied. This is the Good News. To suggest that the seventieth ‘seven’ is yet to come and that Christ will only then accomplish these six things, is to completely negate everything that he has already accomplished through the cross!

The suggestion that Christ will only bring in everlasting righteousness, make atonement for wickedness, put an end to sin, and that God will only anoint the most holy, sometime in the future (for Israel) – also implies that there is good news ahead for unbelieving Israel, which amounts to proclaiming other good news apart from that which was proclaimed by the apostles concerning Israel and the salvation of the nations! (cf. Gal. 1:8.) This also suggests that the good news is in fact for the Jew last and not first.

It is a fact of history that the gospel was firstly proclaimed in Jerusalem to the lost sheep of Israel before it extended to the ends of the earth.

Soon after that, the people of the prince to come (being the Roman general Titus) destroyed the city and the sanctuary. It was for the desolations perpetrated by the Jews within that temple, that the end was poured out on the desolate – in accordance with Daniel 9:27.

I have dealt with this subject in detail in the bookJerusalem – Peace or Desolation?  published and distributed by “Messianic Good News” tel. 2711 875 2094.