There are two Christological interpretations regarding the fulfillment of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy as given in Daniel 9:24, which reads: “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.” The first interpretation is that the 70 weeks or 490 years were fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s First Advent (or shortly after). All six objectives or accomplishments in vs. 24 were met when Jesus died on the cross and was then resurrected. Many preterists and amillennialists belong to this camp. They ignore the fact that God’s six objectives pertain to Daniel’s people, Israel, and His holy city, Jerusalem, and infer them instead to the Church.
The second interpretation is that these six objectives were not met during Jesus’ death and resurrection and will be fulfilled during His Second Advent when He comes and sets up His Millennial Kingdom on the earth. This is the dispensational premillennial view which holds that the nation of Israel will be saved and restored to a place of preeminence in the millennium. Thus, Israel will have a special function of service in the millennium that is different from that of the Church. Daniel 9:24-27 lays out in a summary form a timetable of the events that will impact Israel and Jerusalem. There is no reference whatsoever to the church in this passage, although some commentators still imagine some reference to the church.
JESUS’ FIRST ADVENT FULFILLS THE SIX OBJECTIVES OF DANIEL 9:24
Those who adhere to the first interpretation are divided into two groups. They both believe the start (the terminus a quo) of the 70 weeks began in the seventh year of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:9), King of Persia when Ezra was sent to Jerusalem for the establishment and practice of the proper services at the Temple. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). There is a one-year difference between the two groups in regard to when the decree was given. Although both groups think the year AD 33 is the correct year for the end (terminus ad quem) of the 70 weeks, the exact dates are slightly different. Also, the year in which Jesus was crucified and resurrected is different as well.
The first group believes that there were exactly 490 solar years that transpired from the start of the prophecy, “That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem,” to the end of the prophecy “Until Messiah the Prince.” In this interpretation, the terminus a quo is Nisan 1, 3303 AM (anno mundi) on the Jewish calendar. The details of the decree are given in Ezra 7:11-26. According to scholar and commentator Rodger Young in his peer-review thesis, “The Theoretical Problem Presented by the Exactness of Daniel’s 70 Weeks,” the terminus a quo occurred on April 8, 458 BC on the Julian calendar, which was April 3, 458 BC on the Gregorian calendar.
The end or terminus ad quem of the 70 weeks occurred on Resurrection Day, Nisan 16, 3793 AM on the Jewish calendar or April 5, AD 33 on the Julian calendar. This would have been April 3, AD 33 on the Gregorian calendar. From April 3, AD 458 to April 3, AD 33 is exactly 490 solar years. According to Mr. Young, “Jesus’ resurrection was the act that vindicated His atoning sacrifice, a sacrifice that, according to Daniel 9:24 and 27, put an end to sin, atoned for iniquity, sealed up vision and prophecy, and put an end to the effectiveness (and eventually the practice) of the older covenant’s system of sacrifices and offerings.” Similarly, Humphrey Prideaux in his work, “Old and New Testament Connected,” says “All six objectives were accomplished in that great work of our salvation, which Christ our Lord undertook for us, and fully completed by his death and passion, and his resurrection from the dead.”
What about the terminus ad quem date for the 69 sevens? According to vs. 25, the end date of the 69 sevens is when the Messiah the Prince would appear. 483 years from 458 BC takes us to AD 26. But the only event of significance in the life of Christ remotely close to AD 26 is his baptism. However, in this case, AD 26 is 3.5 years before Jesus’ baptism and the start of his ministry in AD 29. Jesus is still a carpenter at this time. Daniel 9:26 specifies that the Messiah will be cut off AFTER the 69 weeks. It does not state that He is cut off during or in the midst of the 70th seven. AD 33 would be at the end of the 70th seven in this time frame. The two events that occur after the 70 sevens are the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, and war and desolations will occur until the decreed end.
Regarding Daniel 9:27, Mr. Young believes the “he,” is referring to Jesus, and the covenant with the many is referring to his sacrifice on the cross (and his subsequent resurrection) for mankind. He also believes the best translation for “in the middle/midst of the week” is “in a half of the week” or “ in one half of the week,” meaning it could occur anytime during the last seven years. He says, “consequently the Greek-speaking translators understood Daniel 9:27 as saying that a covenant would be confirmed and sacrifice and oblation would cease in one-half of Daniel’s 70th week, not in the middle of that week. The fulfillment of the prophecy in the half week (three and one-half years) of Christ’s ministry, the fall of AD 29 to the spring of AD 33, is a demonstration of the omniscience of God and the divine inspiration of His word. Within this half-week (the last half) the Messiah would, though cut off, bring in everlasting righteousness. If AD 33 is the terminus ad quem of the 70 weeks, the consequence is that Daniel’s 70th week follows immediately from the preceding 69 weeks.”
In Mr. Young’s view (and others), the sacrificial death of the Lamb of God accomplished the six objectives of vs. 24, including the anointing of the Most Holy. The Most Holy is Jesus and not the temple. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism by John. With this interpretation, there is no necessity of referring to the making of a covenant and putting an end to sacrifice to a future time, as these events regarding Jesus started in AD 26 and ended in AD 33. The only future event from the terminus ad quem is found in vs. 26. Mr. Young believes the people of the prince to come are the Romans under Titus who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.
Even though there is exactly 490 years duration between the start and end of these dates, there are still several questions that must be asked regarding this theory. Was the terminus a quo given by Artaxerxes in 458 BC the correct one? “Now this is the copy of the decree which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of the Lord and His statutes to Israel: Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace. And now I have issued a decree that any of the people of Israel and their priests and the Levites in my kingdom who are willing to go to Jerusalem, may go with you." (Ezra 7:11-13). It seems apparent that the first decree issued by Artaxerxes did not provide for the rebuilding of Jerusalem as Daniel 9:25 stipulates. The 458 BC decree was to re-establish the Mosaic law and teach it to the priests and citizens. Also, silver and gold were given for sacrificial animals and for refurbishing the temple.
The second group also believes the terminus a quo of the 70 sevens prophecy began with Artaxerxes’ first decree, only in the year 457 BC. Likewise, they believe the terminus ad quem was in AD 33. The “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” or 69 sevens of vs. 25 ended in AD 27 when Jesus was baptized by John, thus starting his ministry. However, in my opinion, that wasn't Jesus’ presentation to the nation as the Messiah (nor as Prince), but to the Father for approval. It was a transaction between the Son and the Father, and there's no indication that the people understood what happened at Jesus' baptism. Even John didn’t understand its significance, as he thought Jesus should have baptized him instead.
The keyword of the first part of vs. 26 is “after,” “after the sixty-two weeks (and seven weeks) Messiah shall be cut off.” In this scenario, 3.5 years after Jesus began his ministry, he was killed (cut off) by way of crucifixion in AD 30. However, this occurs in the middle of the 490th year. Those who hold to this view say the prophecy ended in AD 33 with the death of Stephen and the start of the apostleship of Paul. There is certainly no fulfillment of the last three and a half years as the six accomplishments of vs. 24 couldn’t be fulfilled with these Church-related events. The 70 sevens were for the Jews and Jerusalem and not the Church.
JESUS’ FIRST ADVENT DID NOT FULFILL THE SIX OBJECTIVES OF DANIEL 9:24
The second Christological interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy is that the six accomplishments of vs. 24 were not fulfilled during Jesus’ First Advent but will be fulfilled after His Second Advent when He returns to begin His millennial reign. Most conservative theologians believe in a literal interpretation of the events mentioned in these four verses in Daniel 9. Verse 24 is a comprehensive picture of the entire prophecy of seventy weeks or units of seven (seventy heptads, units of measure). Vs. 25 is fulfilled at the end of 69 sevens. Vs. 26 cover the events between the 69th and the 70th sevens. Vs. 27 outlines the conclusion punctuated by the 70th seven of seven years.
The decree of Daniel 9:25 is clear. The countdown of time will begin with “a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” The Hebrew word for decree is the common word “dâbâr” which means a “thing,” “word,” or “matter.” In this context, it has the force of an urgent and assertive statement or command. The text is specific that the countdown will start with “a word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” The decree involves the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, not the Temple. This is important since earlier edicts were issued in relation to the Temple, including the decree given by Artaxerxes in 458/457 BC, which included the establishment and practice of the proper services at the Temple. The word for decree in Ezra 7:13 is טְעֵם֒ (ṭə·‘êm), which is different than the word dabar (דָבָ֗ר (ḏā·ḇār) used in Daniel 9:25.
Only the decree given by Artaxerxes in 444/445 BC was for the purpose of restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem. There is a direct reference to the restoration of the city (Nehemiah 2:3-5) and of the city gates and walls (Nehemiah 2:3, 8). Artaxerxes, in his 20th year as king, wrote a letter (a word/dabar) to Asaph to give materials to be used specifically for the walls (2:8). The book of Nehemiah and Ezra 4:7-23 indicate that certainly the restoration of the walls was done in the most distressing circumstances, as prophesied by Daniel (Dan. 9:25).
The terminus ad quem year for the 69 weeks of Daniel 9:25 is debatable. The two main contenders are AD 27 and AD 33. The adherents to AD 27 believe that was the year of Jesus’ baptism and the start of his ministry. They believe he was crucified and resurrected “after” the 69 sevens in AD 30. All those who hold to this view believe that Tiberius Caesar’s rule began in AD 12 when he was made Co-Princeps or co-ruler with his step-father Augustus. Luke 3:1 says that John the Baptist began his ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, so 15 years from AD 12 would be AD 27.
Most modern conservative theologians reject Tiberius’ “reign” beginning in AD 12 and hold to the traditional view of AD 14 as the beginning of his reign. This was the year Augustus died and Tiberius’ sole reign began. 15 years from AD 14 would be AD 29, the year John began his ministry. Jesus began his ministry soon after. Three and a half years later he was crucified and resurrected in the year AD 33. I believe both verses 25 and 26 were fulfilled this year, so we will examine the time frame of 445/444 BC to AD 33 for the duration of Daniel’s 69 sevens.
Daniel 9:25 occurs when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as the Jew’s Prince (from the lineage of King David) presenting himself as King of Israel. This fulfilled the first part of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 (a dual reference prophecy). However, the religious elites and most of the people rejected him as their king. This occurred on Nisan 10, 3793 AM on the Jewish calendar or March 29, AD 33 on the Julian calendar. This amounts to only 476 solar years, but there are several theories as to why this should be considered 69 weeks or sevens. The most popular theory stipulates that the Bible authorizes the use of a “prophetic year” of 360 days. The 360 days are multiplied by 483 years and the computation comes out at AD 33. This theory was made famous by Sir Robert Anderson. The other theory on the duration of the 69 sevens can be found in my article, The Sixty-Nine Shemitah Years of Daniel's Seventy Weeks Prophecy (rev310.net).
Daniel 26a was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, 3793 AM, or April 2, AD 33. The destruction of the city and sanctuary in vs. 26b occurred after the 69 sevens, in AD 70. The prince who is to come is referring to the future Antichrist who will be from the lineage of the Roman troops who partook in the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple in AD 70. He will confirm a covenant with Israel and the many for seven years but about halfway through will break his covenant and stop the sacrifices and offerings in the newly rebuilt Jewish third temple. He will also erect an idol or sacrilegious object in the Holy of Holies. This is known as the abomination of desolation which is also mentioned in the New Testament, including Matthew 24:15-21, Mark 13:14-19, 2 Thess. 2:3-4, and Revelation 13:14-15. These last seven years will make up the last “seven” of Daniel’s 70-sevens prophecy. This last seven is also known as the Tribulation or Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
The last masculine noun in Daniel 9:26 is “the prince that shall come,” not the Messiah. The “he” in Daniel 9:27 is referring to the future Antichrist. This becomes clearer when we read what “he” does. We read that he causes the sacrifice and offering to cease and there will be an abomination of desolation in the temple. This same act is recorded in Daniel 12:11, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” Jesus did not cause sacrifices to cease but rather He was the ultimate sacrifice. According to Ezekiel 45-46, Isaiah 56:7, 66:20-23, Jeremiah 33:18, Zechariah 14:16-21, and Malachi 3:3-4 animal sacrifices and grain offerings will resume during the Millennium.
The “he” in Daniel 9:27 is referring to the “beast” mentioned earlier in Daniel 7:19-26. The beast/Antichrist is also the evil king mentioned in Daniel 11:36-45. Regarding Daniel 11, it’s interesting that the previous chapters of 21-34 are talking about Antiochus IV Epiphanes who committed the first act of abomination (Daniel 11:31) in 167 BC and is considered a type of antichrist. The reference to “the time of the end” in vs. 35 reveals the rest of the chapter is referring to the future Antichrist and his wicked exploits. “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done” (Daniel 11: 36). Compare the wording of the last part of Daniel 9:27: “Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate (desolator).”
Daniel’s 70 sevens prophecy is a dual reference prophecy. These prophecies scattered throughout the Old Testament contain references to both the first and second advent of the Lord in what appears to be a single event. These dual reference prophecies could only be determined as such after the first advent had already taken place. They were written in such a manner that was impossible to know beforehand that the Lord’s first advent would only partially fulfill them. The writers of these prophecies often switch from the first coming to the second coming in the middle of a sentence or in the very next sentence, as if they were one event. There are many examples of these dual reference prophecies throughout the Old Testament. For more examples, see The Resumption of Daniel’s 70th Week (rev310.net).
Most conservative theologians believe the 69 sevens are fulfilled during Jesus’ first advent and the last seven or 70th seven will be fulfilled during the time of His second advent. One of the main reasons I think Daniel 9:24-27 is a dual reference prophecy is that the six objectives of Daniel 9:24 were not met at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection (first advent). They will only be completely fulfilled during the time of Jesus’ millennial reign on the earth (second advent). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross made these six tasks possible but the "consummation" or complete fulfillment of these benefits will not be applied until He returns and Israel repents of their unbelief. Let’s briefly examine these six objectives or accomplishments for Israel and Jerusalem:
To finish or restrain transgression: Israel's rebellion as a nation will be finally restrained at the second advent of the Messiah when a remnant will turn to Him in faith and the nation’s transgression will be forgiven. The grammatical construction used here in Daniel 9:24 suggests that a specific transgression was intended and this seems to be a reference to the rebellion by Israel specifically against God and His Word (especially rejecting Jesus as their Messiah King). “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions, but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 37:22-23).
To put an end to sin: The idea of making an end to sin is to bring (Israel's) sins under full restraint as will occur when all Israel is saved at the end of the Tribulation punctuated by the return of the Messiah. Thus only redeemed, regenerated, born-again Jewish men and women will enter the Messianic Kingdom. Although they will not be perfect (they are not yet glorified), because they are all saved, they will demonstrate restraint of sins. The Spirit will give them the power to say "no" to sins. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written (per Micah 4:2): The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27).
To make atonement for iniquity: The Hebrew word for atonement is kapar and the derivative kippur or kippurim gives us "Yom Kippur" or the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a verb that has reference to sin and means to cover or make a covering. This clearly points to the crucifixion of Christ as the event that made atonement for Israel's (and all mankind's) iniquity. While the once and for all time sacrifice of the Lamb of God on Calvary is a past historical event, there will be a time in the future when the believing remnant of Israel will appropriate (by grace through faith) the finished work of Christ. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
To bring in everlasting righteousness: This was made possible by the death of Christ on the cross. However, the actual application of this to Israel nationally relates to the second coming of Christ. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 33:14-16). Righteousness is one of the greatest characteristics of the millennial kingdom, in contrast to previous dispensations. After the millennial kingdom, everlasting righteousness will never cease in the new heavens and earth. “But according to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
To seal up vision and prophecy: John Whitcomb explains that "Since Christ, in all His glory, will be present with His people, there will be no further need for visions and prophecies. Similarly, in the post-apostolic phase of church history, we have no further need of such ministries, possessing as we do the completed revelation of God in Holy Scripture. During the first half of the Seventieth Week of Daniel, two witnesses will prophesy to Israel. But all such prophetic ministries will end forever at our Lord's return to earth.” (Daniel, Everyman's Bible Commentary).
To anoint the Most Holy: The prophet Ezekiel records that the Temple will be rebuilt and this will occur during the time immediately following the second coming of Christ, commonly referred to as the Millennial when Messiah will reign for 1000 years on earth (Ezekiel 40-48). At the end of the 490 years, the holy of holies in the Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be anointed once again for God’s service. “And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you, The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; They shall ascend with acceptance on My altar, And I will glorify the house of My glory” (Isaiah 60:6-7).
In the next part, we will examine the new covenant, first mentioned in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:31 and elsewhere), and how it relates to Daniel’s 70 sevens prophecy.