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Daniel’s 70 weeks FAQ

Does the 70 weeks prophecy apply to the church?
Which commandment began the 70 weeks?
Is the 70 weeks prophecy connected to Leviticus 26?
How do the 70 weeks “seal up the vision and prophecy”?
Why are there three sections in the 70 weeks?
When did the ministry of Jesus begin?
When did the ministry of Jesus end?
What covenant is confirmed for one week?
Did sacrifices cease in the midst of the week?
Was Jesus crucified in the 70th week?
What about gaps in the 70 weeks?
What is the flood at the end?
What war continues to the end?
What does the “wing” represent in verse 27?
What holy city has become desolate?
How does the 70 weeks prophecy relate to the gospel?
Is the last half of the 70th week a long period of time?

Does the 70 weeks prophecy apply to the church?

The decree of Cyrus about the year 538 BC allowed the Jews to return from their exile in Babylon and built the second temple. When the work was completed, sacrifices were resumed. Jews dwelling in Jerusalem and the surrounding country repaired the city wall, as described in Daniel 9:25: “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” The first two sections of the prophecy, at least, were fulfilled upon the earthly city of Jerusalem. Daniel 9:25 seems to apply to the earthly city of Jerusalem, but the final week is set apart from the rest, and events that would occur in that last week are described in verses 26-27. They include several things that may apply to the heavenly city, the church.

In Daniel’s prayer for Jerusalem, which is the prelude to the prophecy of the 70 weeks, he referred to “thy holy mountain,” and “the holy mountain of my God.” Thus, the holy city to which the 70 weeks prophecy applies, is God’s “holy mountain,” which is a symbol of the kingdom of God. [Daniel 2:35]

Isaiah said that in the last days, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.” [Isaiah 2:2] This is said of Jerusalem, and mount Zion.

In the New Testament, Jerusalem is raised up, and is “exalted above the hills,” as it is located in heaven. The church is the heavenly Jerusalem, which Paul called “the mother of us all.” All of the 70 weeks of Daniel apply to Jerusalem; the first 69 weeks span the time until Christ appeared. The time of his ministry also applies to the earthly city, which represents Israel. But when Jesus ascended to heaven, the holy city was raised up to heaven, as Isaiah’s prophecy foretold. The period since then, the last half of the 70th week, applies to the heavenly city, the church. See: Ye are come unto mount Sion.

Which commandment began the 70 weeks?

The commandment to build Jerusalem mentioned in Daniel 9:24, is foretold in Isaiah 44:28; it applies not merely to the earthly city, but to the heavenly one too. Isaiah alluded to Christ, when he wrote of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” This prophecy is similar to Jeremiah 30:9, and Ezekiel 37:25, and other prophecies where David is named in the place of the Messiah, but here Cyrus is the one who is anointed. The verse describes what Jesus is doing in the present age. He is building his church, which is the holy city that John saw coming down from heaven in a vision. The commandment that applies in the 70 weeks prophecy is the one given by Cyrus in 538 BC.

Is the 70 weeks prophecy connected to Leviticus 26?

Daniel prayed, “Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.” [Daniel 9:11]

Leviticus 26 described four periods of “seven times.” Daniel acknowledged in his prayer that these had begun; the 70 years exile in Babylon that Jeremiah had foretold could be the first, and three more periods of “seven times” remained. Daniel probably wondered about the three periods of “seven times” that were yet to come.

How do the 70 weeks “seal up the vision and prophecy”?

One of the purposes for the 70 weeks prophecy was to “seal up the vision and prophecy.” [Daniel 9:24] In another prophecy Daniel was told, “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” [Daniel 12:9]

The full meaning of the 70 weeks prophecy was to be is sealed up or hidden until the end time. There are several constraints and tests that a true interpretation would have to satisfy. For example, applying the entire 70 weeks to the earthly Jerusalem exclusively is unsatisfactory, since in the New Testament Jerusalem is raised up to heaven. [Hebrews 12:22-23]

Interpretations that apply the 70 weeks to the earthly city alone fail, as there is a portion of it that applies to the heavenly one. Other pitfalls are assuming the units are the same in each of the three sections; starting with the wrong decree; inserting a gap or claiming the entire 70 weeks are already fulfilled; failing to relate the 70 weeks to the 70 years of Jeremiah’s prophecy; failing to relate the 70 weeks to the four seven times periods of Leviticus 26; mistaking Christ for Antichrist. Daniel says that the sacrifices and offerings were taken away in the midst of the last week; many schemes fail because they put the events of 70 AD outside the scope of the 70 weeks. See: How were Daniel’s prophecies sealed?

Why are there three sections in the 70 weeks?

If the units were the same for all 70 weeks, the time to the appearance of the Messiah would not be given in two distinct numbers, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Saying sixty-nine is simpler. But because the period is given in two parts, the first seven weeks may differ from the rest. The units of each section are distinct.

Another reason for the three sections is that these three sections correspond to the last three of four periods of seven times in Leviticus 26; Daniel referred to that chapter when he said that the curse of the law of Moses had been poured out upon Israel. [Daniel 9:11] That identifies the first seven times of Leviticus 26 with the captivity in Babylon. There remained three more periods of seven times, and they correspond to the three sections of the 70 weeks.

Leviticus 26 Daniel 9 Dates
First 7 times (vs. 18) exile in Babylon (vs. 11) ended with decree of Cyrus 538 BC
Second 7 times (vs. 21) 7 weeks (49 leap years of 13 months) 133 years
538 BC – 405 BC
Third 7 times (vs. 24) 62 weeks 434 years
405 BC – 28 AD
Fourth 7 times (vs. 28) 1 week 3 ½ year ministry of Jesus
27 AD – 30 AD
time, times and a half
1,335 days
1,290 days
1260 days
42 monthsthe whole age of the church

The units of the first section of 7 weeks are not the same as the units in the second section; if they were the same, why not say “sixty-nine weeks” for the period until the Messiah appeared, instead of saying “seven weeks,” and “sixty two weeks”?

The time span for the first two sections does not work out properly, unless the units in the sections are interpreted distinctly. For the first seven weeks, I suggest, the units are leap years, of 13 months. The first section is seven weeks of leap years, each week consisting of 19 years, as there are 235 lunar months in 19 years. The whole period of the first seven weeks is 133 years, which includes 49 leap years.

The second section of 62 weeks is 434 years, as these are 62 sabbatical cycles. With this scheme, the first two sections are 567 years, and counting from the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, they end in 28 AD, early in the ministry of Jesus. The final, 70th week is the 3 ½ year ministry of Jesus, plus the “time, times and a half,” which represents the whole age of the church. See: The nature of the seventy sevens.

When did the ministry of Jesus begin?

Several facts need to be considered, when determining the date of Jesus’ ministry. First, the gospel of John mentions a statement by the Jews about the construction of Herod’s temple. They said, “Forty and six years was this temple in building,” in John 2:20, which shows that the first passover of the ministry of Jesus was no later than 27 AD, because Herod began construction of the Jerusalem temple in 19 BC, in the 18th year of his reign.

Luke says Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry. His birth occurred before the death of Herod, which was associated with an eclipse of the moon. Two dates have been proposed for the eclipse, 4 BC and 1 BC.

Luke states that the ministry of John the Baptist began in the 15th year of Tiberius. Jesus probably began his ministry a few months later. The 15th year of Tiberius could be the year 27 AD, as before the death of Augustus in 14 AD, Tiberius was given equal power with Augustus, as co-ruler.

Adam Clarke stated, “Augustus associated Tiberius with himself, in the full government of the empire; or, as Velleius Paterculus expresses it, ut cequum eijus in omnibus provinciis extratibutque esset, quam erat ipsi; ‘that he might have equal power with himself in all the provinces, and in all the armies of the empire.'” Clark gave as the date 11 AD, but according to Jack Finegan, it occurred in 12 AD. [Handbook of Biblical Chronology. 1998] If Luke counted the years of joint rule, the 15th year of Tiberius may have been 26 AD, or 27 AD.

When did the ministry of Jesus end?

Jesus was crucified in 30 AD. Two possible dates could agree with the crucifixion date in the last part of the week, 30 AD and 33 AD. The crucifixion must have occurred in the last part of the week, for the empty tomb on the first day of the week when Jesus was resurrected. The duration of ministry is thought to be three years and a half, which possibly includes the ministry of John the Baptist.

Three passovers are mentioned in the Gospel of John, in 2:13, 6:4, and 11:35.

What covenant is confirmed for one week?

Daniel said “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week;” what covenant was it? Daniel refers to the covenant in his prayer in verse 4.

In Malachi 3:1, Christ is referred to as “the messenger of the covenant.” Jesus applied this prophecy to himself in Matthew 11:10.

Paul said, “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” [Romans 15:8] By “the circumcision,” Paul alludes to the saints, who are circumcised “without hands.” [Colossians 2:11, Philippians 3:3]

When Jesus ascended to heaven, Jerusalem was also raised up. John refers to Jerusalem as the “bride of the Lamb.” The new covenant is one that Jesus confirms with his disciples. Paul said, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” [1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NIV]

Notice that this sacrament was to continue “until he comes.” John refers to the heavenly Jerusalem as the “bride of the Lamb.” The church is being prepared for a future marriage. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I have espoused you to one husband,” and said that he was concerned lest their minds had been “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” His objective was to present them “as a chaste virgin to Christ.” [2 Corinthians 11:2-3]

The new covenant corresponds to the betrothal of a spouse. It is like a commitment to a future marriage. The seven years that Jacob served his uncle for Rachel foreshadowed the seventieth week.

All of the 70 weeks, except the last half-week, are fulfilled in terms of earthly units, of years, seven year cycles, and weeks of leap years. But the last half-week applies to the heavenly city, where units of time are not literal earth years, or earth days, but they are figurative, and symbolic, rather than literal, earthly units.

The final “time, times and a half” represents the entire age of the church in which Christ continues to confirm the covenant with many. See: The acceptable year of the Lord; The covenant confirmed in the 70th weekDispensationalism and the one week covenant; What covenant is meant in Daniel 9:27?

Did sacrifices cease in the midst of the week?

Temple sacrifices and oblations would have ceased on or before 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed. If the last week spans the period from the start of the ministry of Jesus to the end of the age, the destruction of Jerusalem could have occurred “in the midst of the week” as suggested by Daniel 9:27.

The statement that the sacrifices and oblations ended “in the midst of the week” discredits other interpretations. In the typical preterist view, the 70 weeks are supposed to be 490 years; the ministry of Jesus fulfilled the first two sections of 69 weeks, and the last week expired seven years later. Some separate the 1260 days from the 70 weeks, and apply it to the period ending in 70 AD, but none, that I am aware of, put the destruction of Jerusalem “in the midst” of the 70th week.

Futurists and dispensationalists claim that the 70th week is yet future. In that case, how could events of 70 AD, when sacrifices and oblations ceased, have occurred in the midst of the last week? It is plain that Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled, but they deny it occurred in the 70th week! They are embarrassed by the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in 70 AD. They postulate a revival of temple sacrifices in a future 7 year tribulation, and the cessation of those rituals in the midst of the week, allegedly when Antichrist breaks his seven year covenant! How strange.

Was Jesus crucified in the 70th week?

According to dispensationalism, a gap, or parenthesis in so-called prophetic time went into effect after the 69th week of the prophecy, which according to the calculations of dispensationalists, occurred in the ministry of Jesus, shortly before the crucifixion. The theory puts 70th week in the distant future. This doctrine implies that the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection, his ascent to heaven, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the whole of the history of the New Testament church, were outside the scope of the 70 weeks, and occurred in the alleged “gap.” But this idea contradicts the stated purpose of the 70 weeks. The crucifixion, which takes away the sins of mankind, was among the things to be accomplished within the 70 weeks. Daniel 9:24 says the 70 weeks were “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity.” Therefore, the notion of a gap is false.

What about gaps in the 70 weeks?

The three sections of the 70 weeks correspond to the last three of the four periods of seven times in Leviticus 26; in the fourth period, God will remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he will remember the land, and he will be reconciled to Israel. The link between Daniel’s prophecy and this chapter precludes any gaps in the 70 weeks, as a gap requires a lapse in the curse, and a temporary reconciliation between God and his people, which of course cannot occur. Prophecy shows that the reconciliation between God and his people will be forever. See: Why the gap before the 70 weeks?

What is the flood at the end?

The flood, mentioned in verse 26, is an information flood of flawed interpretations and misinformation, that engulfs the whole world, and which has swept Christians away in its torrent. This is the same as the “flood from the mouth of the serpent” in Revelation 12:15. See: The river of water from the mouth of the serpent.

What war continues to the end?

Spiritual warfare is depicted in Revelation 12:7; Michael and his angels war against the dragon.

Paul said “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:11-12]

The “high places” Paul refers to suggests he meant the same spiritual struggle in the church for the truth that John described. Battles about theological truth, and about the interpretation of prophecy, have been waged among Christians for centuries.

This sort of warfare, and the saints taking possession of their promised spiritual inheritance, is foretold by Daniel’s prophecy, “War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” [Daniel 9:26, NIV] The desolations are those in the church, rather than conditions in the earthly Jerusalem. See: Spiritual warfare in Revelation 12:7.

What does the “wing” represent in verse 27?

Some translations refer to a “wing of abominations” in verse 27. The symbolic meaning of a wing is suggested by other prophecies that refer to wings. The kingdom of Babylon is represented by a lion with eagle’s wings in Daniel 7:4. But the wings were plucked off.

Nebuchadnezzar’s successor forgot the lessons that his father had been taught by God. [Daniel 5:18-23]

A divine revelation that was given to the king Nebuchadnezzar, in a dream, was interpreted by Daniel, as described in Daniel 2. In his dream, the king saw a great image, and a stone that was cut out of a mountain without hands, which struck the image on its feet. The stone grew to a mountain, and filled the entire earth. Daniel interpreted the stone as a kingdom, that would be set up by God.

The king of Babylon was represented by a great eagle, in a prophecy of Ezekiel. [Ezekiel 17:2-5; 11-13]

In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, the third beast, a leopard with four heads, had four wings of a fowl on its back. In this prophecy, the wings of a fowl contrast with those of the eagle on the first beast, and seem to depict an inferior sort of wing. The Hellenistic kingdoms were characterized by pagan superstition. Evidently the worship of the Olympian deities, and the pagan philosophy of that age were depicted by the wings of a fowl, as being a much inferior condition, compared to the understanding and wisdom given to king Nebuchadnezzar. Such inferior “wings” represent false prophets, and false teachings.

The wing of abominations in Daniel 9:27 probably represent corrupt doctrine and flawed interpretations of prophecy that have contributed to the church’s desolation. See: Does John interpret Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy?

What holy city has become desolate?

The church is the holy city that has become desolate, because Christians are scattered among tens of thousands of denominations.

The desolation of the church, which is limited to “a time, times and a half,” is accomplished by the little horn of the beast in Daniel 7; its eyes like the eyes of a man picture a human viewpoint, that contrasts with the divine one. Its influence was present early in the church’s history, in the lifetime of John, as he said that the spirit of antichrist was prevalent, and that this was evidence of the “last time.” [1 John 2:18] Daniel’s prophecy says, at “the consummation,” at the end of the age, something will be “poured upon the desolate.” When the Spirit is “poured” on the saints, delusions and flawed interpretations are discredited. See: On the seven times and 1,260 days.

How does the 70 weeks prophecy relate to the gospel?

Answering this question about the prophecy is a key to its proper interpretation. The apostle Peter said, speaking of the gospel, “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” [1 Peter 1:10]

In the next verse, he said the prophets searched and wondered about “what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

There is probably no better example of a prophecy to which Peter’s comments apply, than Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy. It is a prophecy that foretells the precise time of the appearance of Christ, who is the one who brought the gospel to light. And it also specifies the events that followed his crucifixion and resurrection, all of which are included in the last half-week.

One of the most significant of the events included in the 70 weeks is “to anoint the most Holy.” [Daniel 9:24] Some claim that this refers to the Spirit coming upon Jesus at his baptism, or to the Spirit coming to the church at Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven. But it also alludes, I believe, to the holy place in the tabernacle in the wilderness, or to the temple, which were types of the Christian Church.

In the last half of the 70th week, which is the “time, times and a half” mentioned in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7, and which is symbolic of the whole Church age, Christ has been building his Church. At the end of this period, several Scriptures suggest that the holy Spirit will be poured out on the Church. For example, the three and a half years of famine in the days of Elijah were terminated by a great rain on mount Carmel, and the destruction of 450 prophets of Baal. This suggests that an outpouring of the Spirit and of God’s word at the end of the “time, times and a half.” This also corresponds to the time when the “little horn” ceases to dominate the saints. [Dan. 7:25] The resurrection of the dead bodies of the two witnesses after they lie in the street for three days and a half, [Rev. 11:11] also supports this.

There are various readings of the last part of Daniel 9:27, some suggesting there is something poured on one being made desolate, and others suggesting that a destruction is poured out on the one who causes the desolation. The NASB says, “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.” An alternate reading is: “and upon a wing of abominations is one bringing desolation and until an end and what is decided gushes out on the one being desolated.” [Peter J. Gentry. Daniel's Seventy Weeks and the New Exodus. SBJT 14.1 (2010): 26-44.]

The latter reading would indicate the anointing of the Spirit of God will be poured upon the church, which has been made desolate.

Is the last half of the 70th week a long period of time?

In human terms the last half of the 70th week seems to be greatly stretched but in the plan of salvation, Christ is building his church and preparing his bride, which like Jacob’s seven years of toil for his bride Rachel, “seem like but a few days.”

Genesis 29:20
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

The time units in the biblical expressions employed for last half of the 70th week are not those of real, earthly years, but they fit the mysterious pattern of “a time, times and a half.” This is because together with the time of the earthy ministry of Jesus they make “seven times,” which is the final seven times of Leviticus 26, when God remembers his covenant and is reconciled to his people.

1,335 days = 12×30 + 2x13x30 + 13×30/2
1,290 days = 13×30 + 2x12x30 + 12×30/2
1,260 days = 12×30 + 2x12x30 + 12×30/2
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