Is there a time gap in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years? Find out as Dr. David Reagan interviews a panel of Bible prophecy experts on television’s “Christ in Prophecy.”
Last aired on September 22, 2013.
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Dr. Reagan: I recently had the opportunity to sit down with 16 Bible prophecy experts and discuss with them the book of Daniel. One of my questions related to Daniel’s famous prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years. Specifically, I asked them if they believe there is a time gap in that prophecy, and, if so, why? Stay tuned for their answers.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy.
Last week we began a series of programs about the book of Daniel. I announced that in each program I will be interviewing 16 Bible prophecy experts. The question I asked them last week had to do with the validity of the book. I asked them that question because the book of Daniel has been savagely attacked by theological liberals as containing fake prophecies. The reason they call them fake is because the prophecies that have thus far been fulfilled in history have been fulfilled so precisely and accurately. When I asked our experts what they thought of these attacks, they pointed out that they are understandable when you consider the fact that theological liberals do not believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Rather, they consider it to be Man’s search for God, and therefore they reject the very idea of predictive prophecy. After all folks, if they were to admit that the Bible contains accurate prophecies about the future, they would have to admit that it came from God. Our experts provided many other defenses of the validity of the book of Daniel, including the fact that Jesus Himself accepted the book as valid and quoted from it. If you missed last week’s program, you can view it on our website at lamblion.com.
Now this week we’re going to take a look at one of Daniel’s most famous prophecies. It is called the prophecy of “The 70 Weeks of Years.” And for those of you who may not be familiar with this prophecy which is found in Daniel chapter 9, let me just present you a very brief overview of it. Beginning with verse 24, Daniel prophesies that six spiritual goals will be accomplished among the Jewish people during a period of 70 weeks of years, or 490 years. He then proceeds to divide the 490 years into three periods.
The first is a 7 week period of 49 years during which the Temple would be rebuilt. This would be followed by a period of 62 weeks of years, or 434 years, making a total of 483 years. The ending point of this second period of time would be the death of the Messiah. It just so happens that it was exactly 483 years from the time Artaxerxes, the King of Persia, issued an edict for the rebuilding of the Temple, to the time when Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. This left one week of years, or 7 years of Daniel’s prophecy to be fulfilled. And our question for this session with our prophecy experts is whether or not that 7 years was fulfilled immediately after the first 483 years of the prophecy, or is there a time gap in the prophecy that we are still in today?
Here’s why the question is so important. Those who hold to the Amillennial viewpoint claim that the remaining 7 weeks were fulfilled immediately after the death of Jesus because they believe God has no purpose left for the Jews. Those who hold to a Pre-millennial view of Bible prophecy argue there is a time gap in the prophecy and that the last 7 years of the prophecy will be fulfilled in the end times during the 7 years of the Great Tribulation when God will focus once again on the Jewish people and save a great remnant of them. So, is there a gap in Daniel’s prophecy, or not? Let’s go to our experts.
Al Gist: Yes, there is definitely a gap, it was not immediate consecutive slots of time. You know Daniel’s 70 weeks was explained to him that it would come in three segments of time. There would be 7 weeks of years followed by 62 weeks of years, and finally 1 week of years. And in Daniel 9:25-26 he says that that 70 weeks would begin with the going forth of the decree for the Jews to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. And that the first two segments that would be the 7 weeks, and 62 weeks, the first 69 weeks would end when Messiah is cut off, or at the crucifixion. Now if there was no break then obviously the next 7 years, the final 7 years of that 70 weeks of Daniel would have had to follow immediately after the crucifixion. But then Daniel goes on to say in the very next verse, verse 27 that in that last 7 years it would be initiated by a covenant that will be confirmed by the Antichrist with many of the Jewish people. And obviously that did not happen the Antichrist is still the futuristic character as far being on the scene of politics that we can recognize, and so there had to be a time gap. Another thing is in verse 24 it says to Daniel, “70 week are determined upon thy people.” This is a determined time, it’s not an actual time. When you look at a football game there are 4 quarters of 15 minutes each that’s the determined time, but it’s certainly not the actual time of the game which would be for maybe 2 or 3 hours. Why is that? Well because there are breaks in there, there are times out and half-time and so forth. And when God dealt with that first 69 weeks of Daniel He stopped His clock so to speak and turned His attention away from dealing with Daniel’s people to turn to the Gentile nations of the world. And we entered into that wonderful period in history in which we are still living in called the Church Age or the Age of Grace. And in this time period God is gathering out from among the population of the world a very peculiar group of people, a special group called the Church or the Bride of Christ. And we don’t know when the last person is going to be saved and enter into the body of Christ, but I can tell you that when that last person is saved and the Bride is complete the Groom is going to come for His Bride, and that’s the Rapture of the Church. That will be the conclusion of that gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel. Then God will complete those 70 weeks that He said He had determined upon Daniel’s people with that last 1 week of time, that last 7 years which we refer to as the Tribulation. And so that is the overall view of the 70 weeks of Daniel, and we are living in that gap period if you will the Church Age right now between the 69th and the 70th week of Daniel.
Andy Woods: Well again I do believe there is a gap. And again I am going to go right back to Jesus because Jesus quoted Daniel 9:27 in Matthew 24:15 and that’s in the context of the future because just a couple verses later He talks about a time of unparalleled distress coming upon the world. He talks about His coming as the sign in the sky verses 27 & 28 so I believe there is a gap. And one of the main reasons I do is because Jesus believed there’s a gap. And if it kept running consecutively then all of the events mentioned in Daniel 9:24 concerning Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city there are six clauses there, they basically speak of the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel. All of those things would be a reality today, but we don’t see Israel today spiritually restored. She’s been brought back to the land, but she’s not yet in belief. So there is obviously some kind of suspension in that prophecy, there’s a gap there.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum: Well just exegetically it divides the seventy “sevens” into three categories. First of all seven “sevens” or 49 years in which the time Jerusalem will be rebuilt. And then it goes on then there will be another 62 “sevens” for a total of 483 before the Messiah arrives. It does not apply any break or gap of time between the first subdivisions and the second subdivision, but then he doesn’t go directly to the third subdivision, the last 7 years. He says, “After the sixty-second 7 three things happen: (1) Messiah’s killed, which happened around AD 30, AD 33; (2) Jerusalem would be destroyed along with the Temple that is AD 70; followed by a long period of wars and desolations. After the long period of wars and desolation then comes the last 7, that begins with one event the signing of the 7 year covenant between Israel and the Antichrist which triggers the last 7 years. So purely for exegetical reasons does a gap of time between the sixty-ninth 7 and the seventy 7. So I believe that for those exegetical reasons.
Daymond Duck: There is a gap. The 69 weeks and the 70th week of prophecy. Now Daniel clearly tells us in Daniel 9:24-26 that 69 weeks have already literally been fulfilled. The starting point for the 69 weeks is in Nehemiah 2. Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem, counting from 444 BC when that event happened all the way to the year 30-31 AD; Jesus comes down the Mount of Olives riding on a donkey thus fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, the following day He is crucified, that ended the 69 weeks of prophecy. Daniel tells us in chapter 9:25 that after the 69 weeks of prophecy Messiah is cut off, that refers to the death penalty, crucifixion. Now 69 weeks have already literally been fulfilled. There is one week Dave that is still future and that is a future 7 year period of tribulation to come upon this world. So we see that Gap between the 69 weeks and the start of Daniel’s 70th week of prophecy. Well what officially begins that 7 year count down? Daniel 9:27 tells us this, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall perform the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate even to the consummation, and that determine shall be poured out upon the desolate.” So the Rapture does not begin the Tribulation period, it is when this Antichrist confirms a 7 year peace covenant with the nation of Israel, that will begin the final 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. So what is that gap of time? It’s the Church Age, from Pentecost up to now, trumpet sounds we’re taken out of here at the Rapture. Somewhere down the line that Antichrist comes on the scene, confirms that covenant with Israel- the start of Daniel’s final 7 year countdown.
Don McGee: There is no question in my mind that there is a gap in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks of years. And I believe the Daniel sequence of events and historical facts prove that. For example Daniel said 7 weeks of years would pass, and then he said 62 weeks of years would pass. And then he said that Messiah, the Prince would appear and be cut off, but not for Himself. Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and He was crucified about 32 or 33 AD depending upon which dates you accept, whose dates you accept. And then the next thing that Daniel said, he said that the people of the prince shall come, the people of the Antichrist, the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. Well that happened in about 70 AD. So you got a gap right there between 32 and 33 AD when Jesus made His triumphal entry and was crucified in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed and that kind of thing. But that Gap is longer than that because you look at the next thing that Daniel said, he skipped down to the time of the end and he mentioned the fact that the Antichrist would sign a covenant with many, he would confirm a covenant is the Bible word, with many for a period of one week of years. So you’ve got a gap there. And then there’s one other thing I think that indicates a gap, he talked about the Temple being destroyed and that happened in 70 AD and then it has to be rebuilt by the middle of the Tribulation period. So you need a gap or a time factor in there between the destruction of the temple and the rebuilding of the temple so the Antichrist can stop the animal sacrifices and things like that. So to me it’s just a sure thing, there is a gap and the sequence of events and the historical facts verify it.
Don Perkins: The gap exists between the 69th and the 70th week. And there is a reason for that gap. There was a question in the minds of the Old Testament prophets about how God was going to incorporate the Gentiles into the family of God. Paul addressed this is Ephesians chapters 2 and 3 very, very clearly. At the rejection of Messiah and beginning with the day of Pentecost we have what is commonly called the Age of Grace, or the Church Age, or the Dispensation of the Church. At the beginning the Church was almost exclusively Jewish, that soon changed with the spreading of the Gospel. As a result of that Gentiles became the dominant culture within the Church. And it was through the avenue of this gap, this Church Age that the Gentiles were brought into fellowship with God. Now Paul was very clear about this at the time when the last Gentile enters into the body of Christ, not is saved, but enters into the body of Christ, God is going to end that dispensation, or this dispensation called the Church Age with the return of Jesus to take the Church out of the world. Soon after that event with the signing of a treaty of some kind brokered by Antichrist that last week of years will begin and that is going to end with the Second Coming of Jesus. So there is a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of years and the purpose of that gap is to include the Gentiles into the promises that God made to humanity.
Ed Hindson: Yeah, absolutely because if you take the 69 “sevens” as 483 years from the decree to rebuild the city until the death of the Messiah, it clearly says in that passage, the Messiah will be cut off or killed. That He is going to die for others, not for Himself. And that was clearly fulfilled in the death of Christ. So the 483 years definitely lapsed right on time, right on schedule with the prophecy. The question is what do you do with the final 7 years? 70th 7, the shavoia is the Hebrew term, the epitaph of 7 years, when does that come to pass? Well after Jesus died on the cross, 7 years later all of prophecy had not been fulfilled. All of this had not come to pass, even the destruction of the Temple was 40 years later, not 7 years later. So it is obvious to most people that 7 years is yet to be fulfilled in the future, in the time of tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble. Since all the rest of the passages are about the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. If the first 69 “sevens” are about the history of the Jew, why would not the 70th 7 be about the history of the Jews as well? It is really as though God’s time clock starts ticking with the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to go and rebuilt the city. And for 483 years that clock ticks, ticks, ticks, ticks, and stops at the death of Christ. The gap is that God is now dealing in the Church Age with Gentiles as well as Jews. This was unforeseen in the Old Testament and it’s not part of the prophecy to the nation of Israel because they are going to be scattered during this time. When Israel returns to the land and the stage is set as it is today, once the Rapture occurs and the Church Age has come to an end I believe the clock starts ticking again and the final 7 years tick off as we go through the time of tribulation to the triumphal return of Christ.
Gary Fisher: In the book of Daniel in chapter 9 there are six things that would be accomplished by the 70 weeks of Daniel: (1) was finish the transgression, (2) make an end of sin, (3) make atonement for iniquity, (4) bring in everlasting righteousness, (5) seal up vision and prophecy and (6) anoint the most holy place. The only way to believe that those have already been accomplished is to give ourselves to the allegorical approach to Scripture. Take number one for example finish the transgression this is talking about the Jewish transgression because Daniel was writing to his people Israel. So has the transgression of the Jewish people ended? No. Make an end of sin, has that ended? No. Make atonement for iniquity, this is probably talking about the Feast of Atonement so that is an upcoming event that Jesus Christ will personally supervise when He comes to the earth bringing everlasting righteousness. Nobody in their right mind would argue that we have everlasting righteousness today just looking at the world and the condition of it. Seal up vision and prophecy, we can discuss that one. And anoint the most holy place I believe is a reference to Jerusalem receiving the King of King and Lord of Lords, Jesus. And anoint that Holy place is the capital of the entire world. Those 70 weeks have not occurred yet if you demand on their literal interpretation.
Gary Frazier: Well I absolutely believe that at the end of the 69th week of years as recorded in Daniel 9:24-27 there is a very clear gap because what happens textually is that we have the Messiah, the Anointed One who is cut off. At that point in time as the text continues we then can see clearly that there is going to be the fulfillment of the final 70th week. Now as we look historically we know that those things did not happen in the very near future following the time that Daniel wrote this. But more importantly I think there is an obvious gap there simply because the fact that in Daniels day when God gave that vision to Daniel he repeatedly speaks about the fact that this is about your people and about your city. And this relates to the Jewish people. And there was not a clear understanding that there was going to be something called the Ecclesia, the Church, the called out ones. And when the Church was born that Church Age, or that Age of Grace when the Gospel would be taken to the whole world that was not something that the Jewish people could grasp at that particular time 500 or so years before Jesus. So I personally see a very clear gap there that facilitates the spread of the Gospel. And that then ultimately ushers in as well the Tribulation period that we know is coming and that is the final 7 year period. And I think a person who honestly sits down without a preconceived agenda and reads the book of Daniel, literally as God intends will come away with a very clear understanding that there is a very obvious period of time here.
Randall Price: Yeah well we call it a gap, or a parenthesis, or intercalation or something like this, some of it is the grammar itself, it allows for it because it says, “after the 69 weeks.” Now Amillennialists want to put that 70th week immediately at the time of the crucifixion leading up to the end of the Second Temple. The grammar doesn’t say that and it is very I think careful in the way it says it. In the Hebrew text there is something called “athnach” which seems to make a break there so that you would see these things as quite different. And I think these are interpretive things that the Rabbis put in. From my perspective we look at the content of the text it is very clear that what comes after this cannot be related to what goes before this because we already have mentioned the prince who is related to the people who will destroy the Temple and the sanctuary that is one text. Then it goes on to say that this one who is coming, who is related to them is himself going to be involved in desecrating, not destroying the Temple but desecrating upon the Temple and making a covenant. And then himself being destroyed as a result of that act. Well none of that fits past history, can’t fit the time of the First Temple, it can’t fit that history then any history after that is open to us. And as futurists we are looking at Daniel 9 as a template, or a pattern or even a paradigm you might say for the Olivet Discourse in the book of Revelation in chapter 6-19. And it seems so clear that the 70th week of Daniel is this prophetic time period that’s mentioned by Jesus. He already says, “When you see (future) the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet,” and that comes from Daniel 9:27 so that has to be future from his time. And then Paul uses the same language 2 Thessalonians 2-4 and then Revelation 11:2 picks up the same language talking about forces who will desecrate for 3 ½ years or 1,250 days the area outside the sanctuary which is left out. So I think from that point of view it can’t fit as part of the past history that Daniel is talking about, it has to be projected into the far future.
Tom McCall: As matter of fact I think there are 2 gaps. At the end of the 69 weeks it says that the Messiah is cut off, not for himself. And the people of the Prince who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Well the Messiah came at the end of the 69 weeks and He died and apparently the clock stopped there. And then in about 40 years the next prophecy was fulfilled which was the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. So there is a little gap there of 40 years. And then the next thing is the wicked prince, the prince that comes makes a treaty with the many, presumably with Israel because the whole prophecy is about Jerusalem and Israel, for 1 week, that is 7 years, and that is the beginning of the Tribulation. So there is a little gap between the Messiah being cut off and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And then after that there is a long gap that has lasted 2,000 years before the Tribulation is kicked off with the signing of the agreement, the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel still in the yet future.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I think it has become very clear that our panel of experts strongly believes there is a time gap in Daniel’s prophecy for a number of reasons. And you know I personally agree with them, and I believe we are still in that time gap today. It is called the Church Age. And when that Age soon comes to an end, it will be followed by the final 7 years of Daniel’s prophecy in the form of the Tribulation.
I also believe that Gary Fisher touched on the strongest argument in behalf of that gap when he pointed out that six prophecies were to be fulfilled among the Jewish people during the 490 year time period, and they remain unfulfilled to this day. My colleague, Nathan Jones, presented this argument very clearly in his response.
Nathan Jones: Now as you read on in chapter 9 it talks about 6 accomplishments that when the 490 years end six things would happen: (1) Finish the transgression, now that means the people, the Jews, have rejected Jesus as the Messiah and they had to finish that transgression of rejecting their own Messiah. (2) It says to make an end of sin; the end of sin is the end of rebellion against God. So at the end of the 490 years rebellion against God would end. (3) Make atonement for iniquity there had to be a sacrifice for the sins of the people, and that’s Jesus, that’s Jesus’ death on the cross. (4) Bring in everlasting righteousness. Everlasting, you have to have righteous people to have righteousness and you have to have a righteous king, and that’s the Messiah being King. (5) It also says that the accomplishment would be to seal up vision and prophecy. Prophecy had to finally be fulfilled, all the prophecies in the Bible have to come to a conclusion at that point. (6) Anoint the most holy place. The most holy place being the Temple. There had to be a genuine Temple and we are talking about the Temple of the Second Coming. So right there in Daniel 9:24-27 it is giving those things that happened, and those things haven’t all come to fulfillment yet.
Dr. Reagan: Well, folks, that’s our program for this week. Next week, the Lord willing, we will continue with this prophetic forum about the book of Daniel. I hope you will be back with us. Until then, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries, saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our Redemption is drawing near.”
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