Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. has discussed the dispensational interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy in a series of blog posts. In Dispensationalism’s difficulty with Daniel he points out that dispensational theology is dependent upon its position on the 70 weeks, which introduces uncertainty because Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy is notoriously difficult to interpret.
Isaiah wrote about making a highway in the wilderness, and mountains being made low.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Interpreting the encoded message of prophecy correctly reveals the glory of God. In Isaiah’s prophecy the mountains are symbols of the prophecies and promises of scripture. Those who investigate Bible prophecy are a lot like explorers or mountaineers seeking a way through unexplored, rugged country.
In the 8th of his 15 arguments against the idea that Christ reigns upon the throne of David now, in this article, George Zeller asserts that “literal interpretation is to be preferred.” He wrote:
The New Testament describes God’s covenant with the church as an everlasting covenant. The covenant is like an agreement to enter into a marriage, where Christ is the groom, and the church is the bride. This everlasting covenant is mentioned in Hebrews.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Read more…
Daniel 12:5-6 describes two angels, one on each side of a river, and another one, clothed in linen, who stood upon the waters of the river. In the New Testament, Jesus is described walking upon the water of the sea of Galilee. Linen clothing is connected with the righteousness of the saints, given to them by Christ, in Revelation 19:8. Perhaps, Christ is the one who Daniel saw standing on the water, clothed in linen.
The message given in Daniel 12:7 is connected with the river mentioned in the previous two verses. Perhaps there is a connection between this river and other rivers that are mentioned in other prophecies. The river in Ezekiel 47 is spiritual in nature, and represents the message of the gospel, and the Spirit, that flows from the temple of God into the desert towards the sea throughout the present age. Daniel’s prophecy is about the duration of the present age. Read more…
In Acts, Luke mentions a river near the city of Philippi, “where prayer was wont to be made.” [Acts 16:13] In the course of any river, there are likely to be places which are scenic, and peaceful. Rivers in any country may picture the spiritual ideas depicted in the prophetic rivers mentioned in Psalm 46:4, Isaiah 33:21, Ezekiel 47, Joel 3:18, the rivers of living waters in Zechariah 14:8, and the river in Revelation 22:1-2. The mountains of prophecy are similar; the ideas of majestic heights, and landmarks, and durability, are characteristic of mountains anywhere, and are not limited to the mountains and hills of Palestine.
Some commentators, however, suppose that the rivers described in Ezekiel 47 and Zechariah 14 are literal rivers that will exist in Palestine in the future. They miss the spiritual reality that those rivers represent. The spiritual rivers flowing from God’s throne exist in the present age, and their benefits are available now. The claim that literal rivers will flow from the earthly Jerusalem, or another temple yet to be built there, IMO, is nonsense. And, such claims lead to contradictions when the various prophecies about those rivers are compared.
Barry E. Horner is the author of “Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged.”  In his book, Horner discussed views about the land promise developed by scholars such as O. Palmer Robertson, Colin Chapman, N. T. Wright, Stephen Sizer, Peter Walker, and Steve Motyer, who have written books and articles on New Testament teaching about the Palestine conflict and the land promise. They each concluded that Jewish possession of Palestine is not something that Scripture teaches Christians to support, as the land of Canaan promised to Abraham belonged to the shadows and types of the Old Testament, and those promises are fulfilled by the spiritual realities of the Gospel. Their conclusions may have varied somewhat in detail, but they agreed that claims of so-called Christian Zionism are false. Read more…
A quotation from a recent book by Greg Nichols on how the promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their progeny is viewed from the point of view of Covenant Theology was posted recently at this blog.  Nichols wrote: Read more…
The prophecy of Isaiah 2:1-4 says that the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established in the tops of the mountains. An article by Dr. Seth Erlandsson discusses this and several other prophecies about changes in the promised land, and applies them to the church.  Erlandsson relates these prophecies to the new covenant, and to the new Jerusalem. In Isaiah 2:2, all nations flow to the mountain of the Lord; many will seek to learn about God’s word at Jerusalem.
William Kelly (1820-1906) was an early dispensationalist and a friend of John N. Darby. He published many books on prophecy promoting dispensationalism. He viewed the Israel of prophecy as meaning the Jews, rather than the Church. Jerusalem meant the earthly city. In centuries of scholarly investigation, no plausible figurative interpretation of the cleaving of the mount of Olives, and the displacement of the two halves of the mountain towards the north and towards the south, as described in Zechariah 14:4-5, had appeared. Perhaps Kelly was comforted by this. He assumed that surely, that prophecy must be a literal one, and could only refer to literal earth movements yet to occur, at Christ’s coming.
Zechariah chapter 11 tells how the prophet took two staves, and named one of them Beauty, and the other Bands. Beauty represented God’s covenant; Bands represented the unity of Israel and Judah. Then the prophet cut each of them up into pieces. He said: “And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. … And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. … Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.” [Zechariah 11:7, 10, 14]
When the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, he told them that if they had faith as a grain of mustard seed, they could say to a sycamine tree, that was nearby, “Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea,” and it would obey them. Then he explained that a servant who does merely what is required is unprofitable.
The covenant that Christ confirms with his church includes the fulfillment of all the prophecies about the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. One of these prophecies, in Zechariah 14, says that he will stand upon the mount of Olives, and that the saints will flee to a valley that forms when the mount of Olives splits, and half of the mountain goes north, and half of it goes towards the south.
The prophet Ezekiel made several references to the mount of Olives, some explicit, and some implied. He said the glory of the Lord went from the midst of Jerusalem and stood upon the mount of Olives. [Ezekiel 11:23] Later, he said the glory of the Lord came by way of the east, and filled the house of the Lord. [Ezekiel 43:5] The river which flowed from out of the temple was only ankle deep, near the city of Jerusalem, but it became a river that was too deep to cross about a mile to the east, which is the site of the mount of Olives. [Ezekiel 47:5]
The crucial message of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks is about the coming of the promised Messiah, the king who inherits the throne of David in Jerusalem. Daniel’s prophecy specified the time when Christ would appear, after the first two sections, of seven weeks, and sixty two weeks. The first section was initiated by the decree of Cyrus, that allowed Jews to return from the exile in Babylon, given near the time of Daniel’s prophecy, in the first years of Darius, about 538 BC. Counting from this start date, seven weeks of leap years (with 13 months) spans 133 years; 7 x 62 is 434 years; the first two sections of the prophecy span 567 years, which would be fulfilled in 28 AD, during the ministry of Jesus.
The covenant that is confirmed for one week, in Daniel 9:27, is especially significant, since in one week, all of God’s creative work is accomplished. God worked six days, and rested the seventh, which is a pattern for the entire plan of creation. The seventh day represents the promised rest, for which the saints labor to enter. [Hebrews 4:11]
Preterism and dispensationalism insist that the covenant mentioned in Daniel 9:27, that is to be confirmed for one week, is one that is limited to seven literal years. Both theories deny that the prophecy that “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” could possibly refer to the covenant that Christ confirms with Christians throughout the church age, referring to the promises of the gospel.
When the writing appeared on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast, the wise men of Babylon failed to explain it. None of their theories were successful. Similarly attempts by dispensationalists to explain the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel are defective and unconvincing. Typically, their theories invoke major gaps in a time prophecy, which seems absurd. Time has no gaps! They invoke a gap between the end of the 70 years of exile in Babylon and the start of the 70 weeks, and another one between the 69th and the 70th week. A typical dispensationalist interpretation of the 70 weeks is illustrated in the timeline below.
The 70 weeks prophecy has to do with building the holy city. The start date for the 70 weeks prophecy is the decree of Cyrus, in 538 BC, as that decree initiated the return of the Jews, and the rebuilding of the temple, and the settlement of Jews in Jerusalem again. Beginning the 70 weeks with the decree of Cyrus, leads to a plausible interpretation, and a remarkably accurate prediction of the appearance of Christ, as illustrated in the chart below.
Jesus asked his disciples to remember his covenant by sharing a cup of wine. In the image below, the wine cup is a symbol for the period of time when he fulfills that covenant. The various numbers provided in the prophecies of Daniel and in Revelation, that represent the time remaining in the age of the church, are the labels on the four glasses in the image.