The Gap/Delay in the Seventy Weeks Before the (Entire) 70th Week

An assertion I receive regularly from visitors to my site is that I am wrong to believe that the Seventy Weeks of Daniel have a gap before the 70th week. They believe there is no precedent or rationale for this. Most of the people saying this believe the 70th week has already happened as part of their Preterist or Historicist view as opposed to the Futurism that my view would be categorized under. For example, here’s the latest email I have received along this vein:

I believe you are right about a lot of your insights to what the future holds for all of us. I too have spent years researching out bible prophecy and have come to some of the same conclusions. I could write a book on a lot of things I disagree with you but will leave it at only one problem with your view. Let’s talk about the tribulation period that many including yourself believe is from the book of Daniel 9:24-27. Nowhere in scripture is there a prophecy split in time. It is not biblical or logical. My belief is that the 70th week followed the 69th week just as the 2nd week followed the first week.

Why There Can and Must Be A Gap

My response to these arguments is as follows:

  1. It is often overlooked that the 70 weeks have natural divisions of 7, 62 and 1 weeks. This is ready-made for a gap if there need be. In other words, the 2nd week must immediately follow the first week, but it is no necessarily so that the 70th week immediately follows the 69th.
  2. There are gaps in the original periods of broken Sabbath years from which the 70 years of punishment and 70 years of restoration are derived. Thomas Ice has a good series on the 70 weeks that covers the gaps of years in part 4 about this. If there are gaps in the original source of the 70 weeks, then there can be a gap in the fulfillment of prophecy based on it.
  3. A gap is implied by how it says the Messiah will be cut off “after 62 weeks” (Dan 9:26). Many never slow down to ask why it does not say he is cut off “in the last week” or “in the 63rd week?” That would be more natural and confirm the theory that the final week immediately follows the 62nd/69th week. Instead this “after the 62nd week” phrase implies that the last week does not follow directly but instead a period that is not the 1 week or 63rd week does. In other words, a non-week gap period before the final week.

Given the above I see there is a precedent for a gap and the language of the Seventy Weeks prophecy also implies a gap after the 62nd/69th week. We have been in this gap period or delay between the 69th week and the 70th week ever since Jesus came and declared a Sabbath year and himself Messiah in Nazareth by claiming Isaiah 60:1 had been fulfilled by him. Thus, we’re awaiting the final “one”/70th week of the Seventy Weeks when most of what we read in Revelation is fulfilled including the literal 3½ year/42 month/1260 day Great Tribulation in the second half of that seven year period. After Wormwood comes.

Is the 70th Week Half Over?

A related question to this is how much of the 70th week is left to be fulfilled: All in its entirety (7 years) or only half (3½ years)? I think this question comes up because of a perfect storm of assumptions from a couple of commonly accepted teachings among Christians:

  1. The idea that Jesus had a 3½ year ministry instead of the 62 week ministry implied by Daniel’s “after 62 weeks he shall be cut off.”  The 62 weeks are a dual prophecy. Added to the 7 years before them, the 69 weeks come to the year Jesus announced himself as Messiah late in the Sabbath year of 28/29 AD. Then 62 weeks, on Passover of the year 30, he was cut off. As I said above, it would be improper to call that period when he died the 63rd/70th/final week as Scripture itself calls it a period “after 62 weeks” only. I think for a good reason, as explained above.
  2. The idea that the covenant of the final/70th week is the New Covenant made by Jesus through his death. However, the context points to the “coming prince” of the people who destroyed the temple (the Romans) as being the “he” who makes a seven year covenant cutting off the sacrifices in the middle (without breaking it or a “peace treaty” contrary to what is believed). Daniel 11:31-32 talks more about the person who cuts off the sacrifices and creates the abomination. He flatters and corrupts people. This is not Jesus, obviously. The end time Beast/Antichrist/King of the North (Dan 11:40-45) is the one who does this in the 70th week.

The 70th week is completely unfulfilled and yet future. The seven year pact made by the coming prince spans its entire period of exactly seven years. It is not already in effect and spanning 2000 years. When it happens there will be sacrifices again to be cut off and a temple for the prince to take over, defile with his abomination/image of the beast and make his headquarters (Dan 11:45) as he proves to the world he is God (2Th 2:4).

Daniel 9:27 Explained: Who Makes Which Covenant?

Jim B asked:

I feel Daniel 9:27 is one of the most troublesome passages in the Scriptures, not in and of itself, but because of the numerous different orderings of words that appear in the various translations. Further, the pronoun, “he” that appears twice in the verse lends even more confusion because most translations do not make clear whether the entire verse is in reference to Christ, the antichrist, or both.

First, notice three different readings in my possession of the third (last) clause:

  1. And for the overspreading of abominations…
  2. And on the wings of abominations….
  3. And on the wing of the temple….

#3 is particularly troublesome because it suggests that a statue of the antichrist will be placed on a “wing” or section of the temple. Is that what the verse is implying? But that is in no way implied in versions 1 & 2.

#2 is confusion because “wing” begins to sound metaphoric, eg. “On Wings of Song”

#1 makes absolutely no sense to me. “For” sounds like “because of” eg. “And because of the overspreading (maybe the translator means far-reaching) abominations…

But the confusion does not end there. The New King James makes a distinction in the first sentence of v.27 by giving the “he” a small h, implying that Daniel are referring to a human, probably antichrist. But then in the second clause NKJ states, “But in the middle of the week, ‘He’ shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering”. Now the capital H in “He” supports the theory that Christ (and not antichrist) fulfilled the first half of Daniel’s 70th week by ending the need for animal sacrifice with crucifixion. This, of course, would shoot full of holes the theory that antichrist will confirm a peace treaty with the Jews and then break it in the middle of the 70th week. But then we come against another perplexing question: why would Daniel  refer to the antichrist in the first clause of v.27, then jump to Jesus in the second clause, then jump back to antichrist in the third and last clause. hence:

  • “Then he (antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week;”
  • “But in the middle of the week He (Christ) shall bring an end to sacrifice and oblations;”
  • “And on the wing of abominations shall be “one” (antichrist?) who makes desolate…”

Has anyone who knows Hebrew actually gone back to examine the “he” of v.27 to see if there is some sort of distinction readily apparent in the text, similar to how we capitalize He in reference to Deity, and a small h in he for ordinary humans? This would go a long way to properly interpreting v.27 but, absent that, I’m afraid the controversy over a 3 1/2-year or 7-year tribulation will continue until Jesus returns.

Jim raises some great questions about confusion over the correct reading of what is considered possibly the most important prophetic verse in the entire Bible.

  1. Who do the three he‘s refer to here? Does one of them (capitalized in NKJV) refer to Christ?
  2. Which reading of the variations is correct: abominations or temple?
  3. And how long is that tribulation anyway?
  4. What is the covenant made about?

Does He refer to Messiah or Anti-messiah?

This question troubled me for some time after hearing Michael Rood propose that the Messiah is referred to here, not Antichrist, a perspective I had never heard before. After looking at it both ways I’m more confident on this verse than I ever would have been before.

The old idea that the one who confirms the covenant is Christ (with his New Covenant) does not fit the context. The last eligible antecedent to the three he’s in v.27 is “the prince of the people who shall come and destroy the temple” of v.26 referring to the coming Antichrist, not “the Messiah.” The covenant is naturally understood to last only seven years, a limit that certainly does not fit the New Covenant which will be perpetual (Jer 31:31ff). The doom pronounced on this person matches what is pronounced on the Little Horn of chapter 7 as well as the Beast thrown in the lake of fire in Revelation 19.

By the way, I do know enough Biblical Hebrew to explain the deal with the he’s. Not only does Hebrew not have capital letters, but in this passage the verb conjugation automatically implies the masculine singular, so there are no separate personal pronouns to capitalize here anyway. Whenever you see a capitalization of pronoun, take it with a grain of salt because it is the added interpretation of the translator who could be wrong–which is the case here.

Which Translation is Correct?

I always recommend people refer to and use multiple Bible versions rather than rely on one, especially if it’s the old King James which is in hard-to-understand Old English, and 400 years behind in scholarship and manuscript discoveries. The rub here is, as we see in Jim’s questions, that it may take a while before you have the discernment to decide which of the several possible readings is probably the right one and not be left more confused instead of more enlightened.

The reason for the great differences Jim noticed are due to manuscript variations. The Hebrew Masoretic Text (MS) gives us the obscure “wing/overspreading of abominations” (yes, plural abominations) while the Greek Septuagint (LXX) reads “wing of the temple.” The Greek New Testament more often follows the LXX reading than the MS. Here the LXX fits better with Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 which refer to Daniel’s abomination being “setup” or “standing” in the “Holy Place” or “where it should not.” If you go with the obscure Hebrew reading, it’s hard to say what it means, but neither does it clearly contradict the NT understanding of this being about something set up in the Temple.

What is the Abomination of Desolation?

The noun here for abomination is always used in connection with idolatry (TWOT). Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the type of the Antichrist prophesied in Daniel 11:31-32, setup a altar and statue of Zeus in the Temple during the time of the Maccabees when he outlawed the reading of the Torah. Not surprisingly, Revelation 13 indicates that there will be a statue of the Antichrist himself commanded by the False Prophet to be worshipped. If the Beast will be setting up his headquarters in the temple declaring himself to be God (1The 2:4) it would make sense for the statue of himself to be setup there at his headquarters, exactly where Daniel’s abomination of desolation is to be setup according to Jesus.

What, then, is the desolation? The desolation referred to would be the desecration of the altar that putting such a detestable idol near would cause, a destroying of its true purpose. After Antiochus IV was defeated by the Maccabees they had to have a rededication of the altar.

How Long Is the Great Tribulation?

The question of how long the Tribulation is does not depend on any of the above questions. See this article for how to determine that with high confidence: How Long is the Great Tribulation?

Publicized Peace Treaty With Israel or Secret Conspiracy?

By the way, the theory that antichrist will confirm a peace treaty with the Jews and then break it in the middle of the 70th week is just that, a theory, not much better supported than Evolution. There actually is no plain text verse to support this. On the contrary, there is a plain text passage indicating that “the many” who the Antichrist makes a treaty with are those ten rulers who will already be pulling the world’s strings behind the scenes and therefore have power to make him the world ruler:

Revelation 17:16-17 — 16 The 10 horns you saw, and the beast, will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, devour her flesh, and burn her up with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His plan by having one purpose, and to give their kingdom to the beast until God’s words are accomplished.

I am convinced that this is why Jesus never told us to “watch out for the seven year peace treaty between Israel and the Antichrist spoken of by Daniel because there shall be Great Tribulation 3½ years later!!” Instead he told us to watch for the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet as the sign the Tribulation was imminent (1290-1260 = 30 days later). The treaty that the Antichrist makes with “the many” (or “the mighty”,”the strong ones” as another possible rendering of the Hebrew HaRabim) by all indications looks to be a secret conspiracy to defeat (America) Mystery Babylon and then set up a one world government or New World Order in her place. If it’s a public treaty then why didn’t Jesus tell us to watch for it and thereby give us a very nice advance signpost? But if it’s secret Jesus would not have instructed us to watch for it knowing that we’d have to be an Illuminati, instead of his disciple, to be in on that signing meeting =).