In this second part of my response to Not Afraid I’d like to counter an objection which involves the famous prophecy of the seventy sevens in Daniel, chapter 9:24-27. As you read the verses below please keep in mind that between verse 26 and verse 27 there is a gap of time that is coextensive with the current Church Age. Yes, that’s right. It’s a large gap of time, currently about 2,000 years. Not Afraid strongly objects to this interpretation. Understanding this gap of time is extremely important as I will point out in this post.
Daniel 9:24-27 (NIV) 24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
This passage prophesies several amazing things. It prophesies to the day when Jesus would enter Jerusalem shortly before His crucifixion (the triumphal entry). The prophecy was so accurate that liberal Bible interpreters concluded that it was written after the fact.
With this incredible fulfilled prophecy in the first part of this passage we have every reason to expect just as accurate and complete a fulfillment of the second part of the passage which deals with The Tribulation, The Great Tribulation, and the Antichrist.
(For a readable and scholarly overview of this prophecy of the seventy sevens please click here: https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v05-n01/the-messianic-time-table-according-to-daniel-the-prophet/ )
Now here is a perplexing question: Since this passage says nothing whatsoever about The Pretribulation Rapture (or any other rapture) why is Not Afraid so anxious to dismiss the literal interpretation of it which mandates a gap between the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven? One reason is so that The Tribulation can be interpreted as something that has already occurred, something that is not future to this present time. You see if there is no future Tribulation and Great Tribulation, then there is no Pretribulation Rapture. So this passage in Daniel is extremely important.
But there is something else too. The literal interpretation of this passage makes it crystal clear that this passage and the prophecies that it contains is for Israel and the Jewish people. This prophecy is not for the Church. Later when we focus on the purposes of The Tribulation you will see that in addition to using The Tribulation to save Israel God is also going to use The Tribulation to save a huge number of Gentile people, people who would otherwise perish for eternity.
Let’s now look at Daniel 9:24-27 beginning with the first part of verse 24:
(NIV) 24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city
Seven in this prophecy means seven years, therefore seventy sevens means 490 years. The angel Gabriel was sent by God to give and to explain this prophecy to Daniel in response to Daniel’s prayer.
Jeremiah the prophet foretold a 70 year captivity for the Jewish people in Babylon. Daniel, living in Babylon, realized that the 70 years would soon be over and he prayed to God asking for mercy and favor for the Jewish people. Gabriel told Daniel that more than 70 years would need to elapse before complete restoration of the Jewish Nation, Israel, would occur. In fact seventy sevens of years, 490 years, would have to occur before the complete fulfillment of the prophecy. We are told what the starting date of the 490 years is in Daniel 9:25:
(NIV) 25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’
The word that was given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem went out from King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah in 444 B.C.E.
The next part of the prophecy is about the Messiah. The Anointed One (the Messiah), the ruler, would come after seven sevens and sixty-two sevens for a total of sixty-nine sevens or 483 years. In fact the end of the 483 years was the very day of Yeshua’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem several days before His crucifixion.
The first part of Daniel 9:26 tells us that the crucifixion occurred after the sixty- ninth seven:
(NIV) 26a After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. (After the sixty-two sevens means after seven sevens plus sixty-two sevens, so after sixty-nine sevens or 483 years. See verse 25 above).
So far in this passage of Daniel we have seen nothing about the seventieth seven. The next time we see mention of a seven, one seven, is in Daniel 9:27. After this seven, no more sevens are mentioned. Therefore this seven is the seventieth seven.
Daniel 9:27 (NIV) 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
There is a gap, or parenthesis, between the end of the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven and this gap is crucial. So far, to date, this gap is about 2,000 years long.
Not Afraid states that there is not the slightest hint of a 2,000 year gap in Daniel 9. Here is the text of Not Afraid’s objection:
Is there the slightest hint of such a scenario in Daniel 9? Not at all. Is there any indication that the first 483 years are consecutive while the last seven years are separated by two millennia? Absolutely not. Why then do dispensationalists read the text in such a disjointed way? It is part of their interpretive grid, one which puts the entire Church age in a parenthetical category. Once the Church is removed from the scene, the clock begins ticking again, or, in this case, the counting of the weeks of years continues. In the end, a prophecy that clearly speaks of what would take place during the days of the Second Temple, which, again, was destroyed in AD 70, is now interpreted with reference to a future Temple, one not yet built. And all this without the slightest hint in the text.
It is true that non-dispensational interpreters might see some minor gaps between the three groups of years (49, 434, 7) perhaps allowing for several decades to unfold.
Brown, Michael L.. Not Afraid of the Antichrist (pp. 75-76). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
But it seems very clear that we are dealing with a period of 490 years, with minimal, if any, gaps. The idea that a whole age (the Church age, or the Dispensation of Grace) must be inserted between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week of years is a perfect illustration of how the pre-Trib reading of the Scripture must be imposed on the text rather than read out from the text.
Brown, Michael L.. Not Afraid of the Antichrist (p. 78). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
So, Not Afraid says “It is true that non-dispensational interpreters might see some minor gaps between the three groups of years (49, 434, 7) perhaps allowing for several decades to unfold.”
This is very interesting! The authors of Not Afraid are indeed non-dispensational interpreters and they admit that non-dispensational interpreters might see some “minor gaps” between the three groups of years. Do they include themselves? Not Afraid also states that this prophecy clearly speaks of what would take place during the days of the Second Temple which Not Afraid agrees was destroyed in 70 A.D. What would be the case if the seventieth seven ended in 70 A.D.? Would Not Afraid be OK with that scenario? Then the gap would be 30 years. Here is how I arrive at that: if the end of the sixty-ninth seven, when Yeshua made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was in 33 B.C.E., a date considered reasonable by many scholars, and if the end of the seventieth seven was in 70 A.D. then the seventieth seven would have started in 63 A.D. So, if this gap fits Not Afraid’s theory, i.e., if Not Afraid would accept that the last seven started in 63 B.C.E., then for Not Afraid there would be a 30 year gap. Would Not Afraid consider that a “minor gap”?
Did the gap end in 70 A.D. and did the seventieth seven in fact end nearly 2,000 years ago? Just where does that come from? It surely does not come from a literal interpretation of the Scriptures.
You will remember from the passage quoted above from Not Afraid that dispensationalists are said to read these Scriptures (Daniel 9:24-27) in a disjointed way. Let me requote the sentences for you:
Why then do dispensationalists read the text in such a disjointed way? It is part of their interpretive grid, one which puts the entire Church age in a parenthetical category. Once the Church is removed from the scene, the clock begins ticking again, or, in this case, the counting of the weeks of years continues.
So, is there no gap, or is there just a 30 year gap, or is there a gap that is still open after about 2,000 years? Which is it? How can we know?
We can know by taking the Scriptures literally. Many dispensationalists believe in the consistent literal interpretation of the Scriptures unless it is impossible to do so. This is also called the historico-grammatical approach. In my opinion, Dr. David L. Cooper said it best:
The Golden Rule of Interpretation
“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”
In the next post we will analyze Daniel 9:24-27 using The Golden Rule of Interpretation.
Thanks for sticking with me.