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.”
As we begin part 3 of Why The Pretribulation Rapture is Sound Doctrine: A Response to Not Afraid Of The Antichrist, Why We Don’t Believe In A Pretribulation Rapture by Michael L. Brown and Craig S. Keener, we are going to take another look at Daniel 9:24-27 because this passage is perhaps unequaled as a major key to understanding prophecy. Literal exposition of this passage shows the presence of a gap in time between the end of the sixty-ninth seven and the start of the seventieth seven (between verse 26 and verse 27). The gap is equivalent to the Church Age which we live in and is now nearly 2,000 years in duration. The seventieth seven is the seven year Tribulation which concludes the Church Age and leads to the return of Messiah to earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom.
Regarding this gap Not Afraid has this to say:
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.
If the seventieth seven has already occurred, as Not Afraid strongly implies, then there is no future seven year Tribulation and there can be no Pretribulation Rapture.
At this point I’d like to introduce you to dispensationalism and The Golden Rule of Interpretation. Not Afraid blames dispensationalism for the large gap which Not Afraid sees no evidence for. Classic dispensationalists consistently interpret the Scriptures literally unless a verse or passage taken literally does not make sense. 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.”
When one interprets the Scriptures using this rule he or she will clearly see that Israel and the Church are two distinct entities throughout the Scriptures both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Seeing Israel and the Church as two separate entities helps one to see why there is a gap between the 69th and 70th seven, why the Scriptures mandate a Pretribulation Rapture of the Church, and why there is going to be a Tribulation and a Time of Jacob’s Trouble for the nation of Israel.
There is no better passage of Scripture to show the value of this golden rule than Daniel 9:24-27. Using this rule of interpretation we will see several key facts:
1. That this prophecy is for Israel, not the Church:
Daniel 9:24 (NASB) “Seventy sevens have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. (Italics added.)
2. This prophecy lists six purposes of The Tribulation which are for Israel and not for the Church. I’ve changed the formatting of Daniel 9:24 to make it easier to see these six purposes and my comments on them(in italics):
Daniel 9:24 (NASB) “Seventy sevens have been decreed for your people and your holy city,
- to finish the transgression,
- For Israel to end her rebellion against God. This will not occur until Israel accepts Yeshua as her Messiah.
- to make an end of sin,
- For Israel to completely stop practicing or walking in sin. This cannot occur until all the people in the Nation of Israel accept Yeshua as their Messiah.
- to make atonement for iniquity,
- This has not occurred yet for the Nation of Israel and will not occur until the Nation as a whole acknowledges and accepts Yeshua as her Messiah.
- to bring in everlasting righteousness,
- This will not occur until Yeshua returns to earth and sets up His Millennial Kingdom.
- to seal up vision and prophecy and
- Since seventy sevens are required for this, and since this is addressed to Daniel, a Jew and a leader of the Jewish people in Babylon, I think this has to mean the completion of Old Testament prophecy. This has not yet occurred.
- to anoint the most holy place.
- This Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, cannot be anointed until the fourth Temple, the Millennial Temple, is built. This has not occurred yet.
The six things decreed for the Jewish people in verse 26, and the prophecies of verse 27 have not occurred yet.
The text is clear. The sixty-ninth seven has ended and the seventieth seven has not started yet, so there must be a gap between the sixty-ninth seven and the seventieth seven and as of today that gap is still ongoing.
3. What additional things can we learn from literal interpretation of verses 26 and 27?
26a (NIV) After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. (Remember that after the sixty-two sevens means after the seven sevens plus the sixty-two sevens for a total of sixty-nine sevens.)
So, again, the Messiah was put to death, crucified, AFTER the sixty-ninth seven but BEFORE the seventieth seven. What else has happened so far in this interval between the 69th and 70th sevens?
Let’s look at the rest of verse 26:
26b (NIV) 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.
Notice that there is still no mention of the 70th seven. Who is the ruler who is to come? He cannot be Messiah, the Anointed One, the ruler mentioned in verse 25. Messiah or His people would not destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple). So there are two rulers named in verses 25 and 26. What clues are we given in this passage of Scripture to help us identify the ruler who is to come? We are told that a certain people, better translated in this context as a nation, will destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple). This is clearly after the Messiah is cut off so it is after the completion of the 69th seven. Do we know if this has already occurred and if it has do we know when? Yes, it did occur and we know when! The Roman Nation in response to what is known as the first Jewish revolt destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple completing this in 70 AD. This is a well attested fact of history. In fact, this war ended with a flood, a catastrophe. Jerusalem and the Temple were desolated.
Does the Bible talk about this catastrophic fall of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD? Yes, it does! It is part of what is often called the Olivet Discourse. This discourse is given in all three synoptic gospels. The discourse is nearly the same in Matthew and Mark (Matthew 24 and Mark 13) but it is different in Luke. Only Luke tells us about the catastrophe that occurred in 70 AD. Let’s look at the verses in Luke that are applicable.
Luke 21:20-24 (NASB) “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
This passage describes the desolation of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jewish people worldwide (all the nations). This fits best with what happened in 70 AD at the hands of the Romans and the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish Nation that followed. This desolation of Jerusalem and the Temple is not mentioned in Matthew or Mark.
Please note carefully that the ruler who is to come has not come yet. He will be the leader of the nation that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. The people that did this in 70 AD were the Romans and their Nation was Rome, the Roman Empire. So the ruler who is to come will be the leader of the Roman empire. He will make a covenant with the Jewish people for one seven. That one seven is a seven of years, i.e., a 7 year period. This is Daniel’s 70th seven and it is still future to the present time! The ruler who is to come will make a firm covenant with the Jewish people for 7 years. This has to be future to the present time because such a covenant has never been made. Not all of the Jewish people will agree to this covenant but the Jewish leaders and the many (many Jewish people, probably the majority of them) will agree. This 7 year period is none other than The Tribulation. How do we know that? Because In the middle of the seven, that is half-way through the 7 year period, this Roman leader will break the covenant, he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering, and he will set up the abomination of desolation that happens after three and one-half years signaling the beginning of The Great Tribulation as none other than Jesus Himself taught:
Matthew 24:21 (NASB) 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
Someone will probably say there is no Roman Empire at the present time so how can the ruler who is to come be the leader of the Roman Empire? The answer is that the Roman Empire is going to be revived. If the first part of the prophecy has occurred with exact fulfillment:
- Messiah the Prince came at the end of the sixty-ninth seven.
- After the sixty-ninth seven, Messiah was killed (crucified)
- After the sixty-ninth seven, in 70 AD, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.
- After the sixty-ninth seven, also in 70 AD, the Jewish people were dispersed into all nations (Luke 21:24).
We can expect the same for the second part:
- The leader of a revived Roman Empire will make a 7 year covenant with Israel.
- In the middle of that 7 year period the leader of the revived Roman empire will break the covenant, will stop sacrifice and grain offerings at the Temple and will set up the abomination that causes desolation setting himself up in the Temple as God, to be worshipped as God. This leader of the revived Roman Empire is none other than the Antichrist.
- A complete destruction is poured out on this agent of Satan, the Antichrist.
Some, including the authors of Not Afraid, will also ask where in the Bible does God say that a third Temple is rebuilt? Before I answer that question, you need to know that there are four temples in the Scriptures. The first was Solomon’s Temple. The second was the Temple built by Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity; this temple was later remodeled and enlarged by Herod and it was destroyed in 70 AD. The third Temple is the one alluded to in our current passage (Daniel 9:24-27); it is sometimes referred to as the Tribulation Temple. It is the one that Orthodox Jews are getting ready to build at the present time in Jerusalem and it is the one in which the Antichrist sets up the abomination of desolation. I can only conclude that it is destroyed at the end of The Great Tribulation. The fourth Temple, the Millennial Temple, will be set up by the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom as described in Ezekiel.
There are four places in the Scriptures where the Tribulation Temple is clearly referred to:
Daniel 9:27 (NASB) 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
Because the verse says “he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” we must conclude that there is a Temple and an altar for sacrifices and offerings.
And regarding the part of this verse that refers to “on the wing of abominations” we should note that the Septuagint translates wing as in the temple (from a New English Translation of the Septuagint: This electronic edition contains the masters of the second printing of A New English Translation of the Septuagint, as published by Oxford University Press in 2009, including corrections and emendations made in the second printing (2009) and corrections and emendations made in June 2014).
Also the NIV translators use temple instead of wing:
(NIV) 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.
Matthew 24:15 (NASB) 15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
Standing in the holy place requires that a Jewish Temple be present. This can be none other than the Tribulation Temple.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NASB) 1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
The man of lawlessness ……. takes his seat in the temple of God. Again, the temple in this passage can be none other than the Tribulation Temple. Ezekiel’s Temple is the Millennial Temple. No man of lawlessness will ever take his seat in that Temple.
Revelation 11:1-2 (NASB) 1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
Again, the temple referred to in this passage cannot be the Millennial Temple. The Millennium has not arrived yet at this point in the book of Revelation. In fact this passage references The Time of Jacob’s Trouble which is The Great Tribulation. It is forty-two months in duration, three and one-half years. The temple here is the Tribulation Temple, the Third Temple.
To sum up, The Tribulation, or Daniel’s 70th seven,is going to occur in the future and it will last seven years. The Great Tribulation, also called The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, which is the second half of The Tribulation, will last three and one-half years. The Tribulation commences with the covenant agreed to by Israel and the Antichrist at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th seven. In the middle of this 70th seven or 7 year period, the abomination of desolation occurs and that begins The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the second half of The Tribulation.
God gave us rational minds and the principles of logic and He expects us to use deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning as appropriate to interpret passages of Scripture that are not immediately clear on their face. This is not limited to The Pretribulational Rapture and The Tribulation. Other doctrines that require this approach are a young earth, the assurance of salvation, and the doctrine of the Triunity of God. And as in a court room when a person is being tried for a crime many pieces of circumstantial evidence must often be pieced together to reach a conclusion that is true beyond a reasonable doubt.
My thesis in this response to Not Afraid is that The Pretribulation Rapture can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
But we’re still not done. There is much more evidence. In the next post we will try to finish our discussion of The Tribulation and move on to other aspects of proving The Pretribulation Rapture beyond a reasonable doubt.
Thanks for staying tuned.