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Prophetic Postponement in the Prophecy of Daniel 9:27 Part #2
According To Prophecy Ministries & Evangelist Perkins, brings you articles from some of his colleagues in Bible Prophecy. He has also included the email addresses of the authors at the bottom of their articles, please email the authors and let them know what you think of their articles".
By: Dr. Randall Price

"Classical dispensational interpretation has always recognized that the New Testament revelation of two phases to the messianic advent has necessitated an interruption in the fulfillment of the restoration program unconditionally guaranteed to national Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-37).."

Continued from Part #1

required the 490 years of this prophecy to complete the sins committed in addition to the violation of the sabbatical law (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21). Other Jewish commentators such as Rashi and Metzudos, held that this referred to a period following the 490 years (which they believed ended with the destruction of the Second Temple), “the last exile whose purpose it will be to terminate [i.e., to atone for] transgression.57 Thus, according to rabbinic tradition, the return to Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the city and Temple, did not historically fulfill this goal, but it awaits a consummation at the end of time. This final atonement, while based on the past work of the Messiah, will be effected for the national remnant of Israel only in the future (Zechariah 12:10; 13:1; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 37:23; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Isaiah 59:20-21, et. al.).58 It is significant that in the year that the “Seventy Weeks Prophecy” was given, Cyrus freed the Jews, ending their foreign captivity and their unavoidable contact with idolatry and desecration. Although a remnant did return to Judah, idolatry and transgression continued (cf. Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 9:2), and in fact was climaxed in the time of Jesus by the Nation’s rejection of His messiahship (cf. Acts 7:51-52). This action alone, revealed that this prophetic goal for Israel was yet unfulilled.

The final three goals appear distinctly eschatological, as some non-canonical apocalyptic parallels suggest.59 The phrase “everlasting righteousness” (or better, “vindication”)60 may have in view a theodicial “age of righteousness” (cf. Isaiah 1:26; 11:2-5; 32:17; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-18) that resolves the theological scandal (note 9:15-16) of the former age characterized by “the rebellion” (i.e., Israel’s rejection of the Messiah). Therefore, this age will be a vindication of God’s promise to national Israel (Ezekiel 36:17-23), a reversal of her condition and fortunes with respect to Messiah, hence a “messianic age” or Messianic Kingdom.61 This eschatological restoration may also be intended in the goal “to seal up the prophetic vision,” which probably has the fulfillment (thus, “confirmation,” the best sense for the verb) of Jeremiah’s prophecy in view.62 However, the determining phrase is the final one: “to anoint the Holy of Holies.” Rabbinic interpretation refers this to the Third Temple, since Tosefta Sotah 13:2 records that the Second Temple had not been anointed. This goal is specifically related to the consecration of the chamber which housed the the Ark of the Covenant, whose presence sanctified the Temple by virtue the Shekinah (the Divine Presence). Since neither of these were present in the Second Temple, according to Yoma 21b, rabbinic tradition held that the Ark will be revealed by the Messianic king, who will also build the Third Temple (cf. Zechariah 6:12). In the Dead Sea document known as the Temple Scroll it was held that when the legitimate Third Temple is consecrated the Ark of the Covenant will again be present (11Q19 7:10-12). A similar view may be implied in Ezekiel 43:1-7 (cf. Jeremiah 3:16-17).

The Structural Divisions of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy

The crucial issue for interpreters of this prophecy is the resolution of the structural divisions of the seventy weeks. As we have earlier noted, both conservative and critical scholarship have agreed that Gabriel’s revelation to Daniel announced an extension of the seventy years of Jeremiah’s prophecy to seventy weeks of years. At the outset let us notice that this extension of the seventy years is itself an example of prophetic postponement, a fact often overlooked by opponents of a temporal parenthesis within the seventy weeks. If then we have a postponement of the restoration promised Jeremiah until after the seventy years (because of the past spiritual condition of the exiles, cf. Daniel 9:5-14; Jeremiah 14:21-23; Esther), can we not allow for a further postponement of the fulfillment of the restoration until after the seventieth week (in view of the present spiritual condition of the remnant, cf. Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah), not to mention those who remained in the Diaspora?63 In this light, Grelot argues that the 490 years were a “probationary period,” granted to Israel to complete the process of restoration from desolation.64 Though a partial Judean restoration was effected on the physical level during this period(the rebuilding of the Temple and the City), Israel failed in its spiritual obligation to recognize and accept their Messiah. Thus, the period of desolation was continued (to the present with the A.D. 70 destruction), and ultimate restoration (which depends upon repentance toward Messiah) was further postponed until the events of the seventieth week could be realized historically. Let us now proceed to the support for this view from the structural divisions of verses 25-27.

Principal Interpretive Problems

The major interpretive questions concern (1) the division of the “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” of verse 25, (2) the placement of the events they describe (the building of the City, the appearance of the Messiah) as occurring prior to the conclusion of these weeks, and (3) the discernment of an interval in fulfillment between the sixty-ninth (verse 26) and seventieth week (verse 27). The first part of the problem is whether the division of the seven and sixty-two weeks should be understood as one unit of sixty-nine weeks or divided into two separate sections, and then whether the events should be placed in the first section of seven weeks or in the second section of sixty-two weeks. The second part of the problem is whether the sevenieth week follows immediately after the sixty-ninth week or if it should be treated separately with respect to postponement and future chronological fulfillment.

The Question of the Division of the Seven and Sixty-two Weeks

The resolution of the question of the division for the “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” depends in part on the matter of the Masoretic accentuation.65 The Masoretes placed a disjunctive accent (athnach) under the word “seven,” which might indicate that they interpreted the two sections as separate divisions. If so, three distinct periods of time are marked off, and the punctuation would imply the appearance of an “anointed” (masiah) at the end of both the seven and the sixty-two week periods (usually the former is Cyrus and the latter a different ruler or Christ).66 There are, however, formidable reasons for rejecting the masoretic accent at this point.

First, masoretic accents are simply interpretive opinions concerning the text, and should be weighed as one would any other commentary.67 In this regard, the opinions of the masoretes are often questionable, as logical division is disreguarded for other metrical concerns.68 One such an objection concerning the use of the athnach in this context appears nearby, in verse 24, where it appears beneath the word “everlasting” and seems to divide the six infinitives as three negatives + one positive + two positives. However, the structure of the goals is more symmetrical with a division of three negatives + three positives.69 In addition, the fact that this rabbinic commentary spans a period to a milenia after Christ, when the Jewish/Christian disputations were well advanced, invites the suspicion of an anti-Christian bias, especially in such a famous messianic apologetic text as Daniel 9.70 Indeed, if one accepts the athnach as legitimate here, the christological interpretation of the passage is in put in doubt.71

Second, earlier textual traditions (Greek - LXX Theodotion, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) testify to an ancient reading that combines the numerical elements seven and sixty-two to equal one unit (i.e., sixty-nine).72 These versions may well preserve a pre-masoretic reading of the text or an early Jewish or Christian oral tradition concerning the seventy weeks.

Third, if the athnach is retained, the logic of the passage is complicated. For instance, it would appear that it took the entire period of the sixty-two weeks (434 years) was required to build the plaza and the moat (verse 25), and that the “anointed one” (verse 26) appears after the seven weeks (49 years), but is not killed until after the sixty-two weeks (434 years later)!73 Of course, this later event could be possible if two different “anointed” were intended, however, the chiastic structure of the passage argues for only one “anointed.”74

Fourth, William Shea contends that his analysis of the poetic form of Daniel 9:24-27, on the basis of syllable and metrical count, demands that the units of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks be one epoch of time. Any other arrangement would disrupt the structural parallelism and poetic balance of the passage.75

Therefore, it seems preferable to accept the alternative to the Masoretic accentuation dividing the seven and the sixty-two weeks, i.e., sixty-nine weeks, and to place the events as follows: the first unit of seven weeks (49 years) comprises the period of the rebuilding of the Temple and the City (verse 25a); the second unit of sixty-two weeks (434 years) is the time period prior to the coming of the Messiah (verse 25b). After the sixty-two weeks He is killed and the Temple and the City are destroyed in A.D. 70 (verse 26).76 The final third unit of one week (7 years) comprises the period of the covenant (the first half of the 7 years), its violation with the desecration of the Temple (the midpoint of the 7 years), and the final destruction of the Desecrator (the last half of the seven years), verse 27.77

The Question of the Division Between the Sixty-Ninth and Seventieth Week

The second problem, which directly concerns the apotelesmatic interpretation, is whether there is justification for a temporal interval after the sixty-ninth week, constituting a prophetic postponement in fulfillment of the events of the sevenieth week.78 Lest the concept of postponement be construed as alien to the book at this point, let it be remembered that Gabriel has already announced a postponement of Jeremiah’s seventy year fulfillment in Daniel’s seventy weeks of years. All commentators accept this postponement - it is simply a question of the length of time. Moreover, temporal intervals have already appeared in chapters 2, 7, 8, and will again in chapter 11. In this light, one might expect to find a similar occurrence in chapter 9.

It has been argued that if there was no division between the seven and sixty-two weeks that there should not be one between the sixty-ninth and sevenieth week. We have noted, however, that the sixty-ninth week has already been set off as a distinct unit comprised of the seven and sixty-two weeks. This would imply in itself that the events of the seventieth week are to be treated separately. Further, the events in verse 26: “the cutting off of Messiah,” and of people of the prince,” are stated to occur after the sixty-nine weeks. If this was intended to occur in the seventieth week, the text would have read here “during” or “in the midst of” (cf. Daniel’s use of hetzi , “in the middle of,” verse 27). This language implies that these events precede the sevenieth week, but do not immediately follow the sixty-ninth. Therefore, a temporal interval separates the two.79 It is also important to note that the opening word of verse 27 (higbbir, “confirm”) is prefixed by the waw consecutive, a grammatical connective which indicates a close consequential relationship to a preceeding verb. This use indicates that the events of verse 27 are subsequent to those of verse 26.

Jesus’ Description of the Parenthetical Period

Jesus’ interpretation of the order of the events of the seventieth week in the context of prophetic history appears to confirm this understanding. In Matthew 24:7-14 it is predicted that persecution, suffering, and wars would continue to the end of the age, climaxing in a time of unparalleled distress, verses 21-22 (i.e., “the time of Jacob’s distress,” cf. Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7). Only after these events does Jesus make reference to Daniel 9:27 (verse 15) concerning the signal event of this time of tribulation, “the desolating abomination.” If the seventy weeks were to run sequentially, without interruption, then why does Jesus place this intervening period before the fulfilment of the events of the seventieth week? The text of Matthew in particular reveals that Jesus’ preview of the future was to answer His disciple’s questions concerning His [second] coming, and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Jesus’ here explains why His coming is necessary (for divine intervention and national repentance, verses 27-31; cf. Zechariah 12:9-10) and when it will occur (“after the tribulation of those days”, verse 29). According to Matthew,80 the events described in the period prior to the Messianic advent could not have been fulfilled in A.D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem, since these events usher in and terminate with the coming of Christ.81 It is often asked what justification dispensationalists have for stretching out the seventy weeks to two thousand years. If we can appreciate the length of time required for the fulfillment of these events predicted by Jesus for this intervening period, we have the answer.

Temple Desecration in Daniel as an Eschatological Motif

An analysis of the concept of Temple desecration and restoration, especially in relation to the use of the phrase “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 9:27) in the Synoptic Gospels, reveals that only an eschatological interpretation of these events are possible.82 A number of interpreters have suggested that the Temple is the hinge on which Daniel’s view of history turns.83 The era of the four world kingdoms, as well as Daniel’s career, begins in the time of the Babylonians, who destroyed the First Temple. The restoration of the Second Temple in the Persian period (or even Herod’s expansion in the Roman period) was not significant enough to be regarded as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Janssen argues that Daniel treats the Second Temple as insignificant, and looks to an eschatological restoration of the Solomonic Temple as the culmination of history.84 This would find support in intertestamental Judaism which viewed the post-exilic period as a temporary lapse in salvation history, and held that its fulfillment would come in the eschatological age with an idealized restoration of pre-exilic Israel, in accordance with the covenantal promises.

We would disagree with Janssen that Daniel thought of the Second Temple as insignificant, since his own anticipation and prayer was for its restoration and consecration, however, we would agree that Daniel does connect the Temple with the eschatological age in 9:27 (cf. 8:14), since its desecration and destruction (verse 26) required a resolution (i.e., restoration and re-consecration), which subsequent history following the order of the sixty-nine weeks also revealed. If during the seventieth week (verse 27) the Temple is desecrated by a cessation of the sacrificial system, and this follows the destruction of the Second Temple after the sixty-ninth week, logic necessitates that during an intervening period a Third Temple was rebuilt.85 It is also possible to discern a causal relationship between Temple desecration and messianic advent based on the desecration/restoration pattern: The desecration of the First Temple brought a prediction of messianic advent (Daniel 9:24), and Messiah came during the time of the Second Temple to bring the promised restoration to the Temple (still desecrated at this time).86 In the future, the desecration of the Tribulation Temple (Daniel 9:27) will bring back the Messiah to restoration the Temple to its Millennial design (cf. Ezekiel 37:25-28; 40-48).87 This relationship may partially explain the reason why in the Olivet Discourse “the abomination of desolation” is the pivotal event from which events hasten toward the second advent.

Parenthetical Postponement and the Chiastic Structure

Some object that the events in verse 27 are parallel to those in verse 26 because of the chiastic structure, and therefore only the Second Temple in is view. However, chiasm is simply a literary device recognizing the inversion of associated words or ideas, and does not by itself govern the timing of the fulfillment of the events expressed.88 In literary terms there may be parallelism, but this does not require that the historical events described be continuous without interruption. For instance, “the prince” (dygn) in verse 26 is qualified as one “who is to come,” i.e., one who was previously introduced to Daniel’s audience in 7:8, 23-24 as being from the fourth kingdom - Rome. This identification is confirmed in this verse by his association with the people who destroyed the Second Temple, i.e., the Romans. The reference to this “prince” at his coming must be made with the “he” of verse 27a, because it is the nearest antecedant, and the basic idea is the same - he will desecrate the Temple (cf. 7:25). However, historically, no known Roman leader ever “made a covenant”89 with the Jewish leaders (harabim, “the many”) for seven years, and so this awaits future fulfillment when the seventieth week commences.

Postponement and Chronological Fulfillment

It has been our contention that postponement does not affect the continuity of measured events, since the measured time allotted to Israel has been interruped by a different measurement of time allotted to the Gentiles. If we do not understand the chronological reckoning in this sense, those who posit an A.D. 70 fulfillment must still contend with at least a forty-three year interval of time (the crucifixion and destruction of Jerusalem) that is directly indicated as having occurred after the sixty-ninth week but prior to the seventieth week. Furthermore, those who hold to an A.D. 70 fulfillment have to explain the final clause of versre 27: “namely that which is determined shall be poured out on the desolator,” (i.e., the appointed destruction of the Desolator).90 This predicted judgment for the one who desecrates and attempts to destroy the holy Temple and holy city, accords with an element in desecration motifs which have the Lord announcing the punishment of His instruments of judgment for their arrogance and self-actuated intent to destroy what is holy. Such an end was decreed for the Assyrian invaders (Isaiah 10:23-26), and was repeated in more detail in Daniel 11:36, a text which displays both the arrogance (verses 36-38) and aggression (verse 39) of the desolator.91

Of greater significance is Jeremiah’s prophecy, which declared that Israel’s oppressor, Babylon, would be punished at the conclusion of the seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12). If Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy has taken this for a model, and if there was no postponement for the events, we would expect to see those who desolated the City and Temple in Daniel 9:26-27 also immediately punished. However, if this is applied to the Romans in their crushing the Jewish Revolt in A.D. 70, then how was the Roman empire punished at this point, since the fall of the empire itself was still several hundred years away?92

We could add to these chronological factors the critical observation that the six-fold goal of verse 24 was not fulfilled immediately after the sixty-ninth week, but instead verse 26 indicated that both the City and the Temple would be destroyed, followed by a determined period of desolations. This was all to be accomplished before the last week of the seventieth week in verse 27. It is not until the completion of the seventieth week that we find an implication toward fulfillment of the goals.93

The Influence of Danelic Postponement on New Testament Eschatology

Jesus’ citations from Daniel in His prophetic discourse, along with those of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah, suggest that He and His disciples understood their message as a continuation of the biblical prophets, and that they were evaluating their generation, and modeling their messages, in accordance with these prophecies. This is especially noticable in their eschatological discourses. For instance, Jesus’ “cleansing of the Temple” pericope has for its background Jeremiah’s Temple sermon, and it is in this context that Jesus makes his predictions about the destruction of the City and the Temple. The Olivet discourse likewise contains a striking resemblance to the prophetic judgment passages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. If these are then linked with the citation from Daniel, we see a pattern of dependence upon collections of prophetic texts that were themselves dependent upon one another. Indeed, the only way a first-century audience could have understood the meaning of Jesus’ warning of “the abomination of desolation” of Daniel 9:27 (since it is left unexplained by Daniel and Jesus), was from a comparative study of the terms in the desecration motifs used by the other prophetic writers.

The Seventieth Week and the Structure of the Olivet Discourse

The confirmation of the postponement of the seventieth week and of a prophetic period of history involving further exile and persecution for the Jewish people, is made by a comparison of the sequence of events presented in the synoptic eschatological discourses, the eschatological treatise on the Temple Desecrator in 2 Thessalonians 2:4-5, and especially the structure of the book of Revelation. John McClean has demonstrated the structural impact of Daniel’s seventy weeks, and particularly the concept of the abomination of desolation on each of the synoptic gospels and the Johannine Apocalypse. He found that eight literary motifs from Daniel correlated with the synoptics, and that each gospel could be divided into three prophetic sections corresponding to Daniel 9:27.94 These three divisions are:

(1) First half of the Seventieth Week: Preliminary Signs of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:5-14; Mark 13:5-13; Luke 21:8-19), (2) Midpoint of the Seventieth Week: The Major Sign of the bomination of Desolation and the Destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15-28; Mark 13:14-23; Luke 21:20-24), and (3) Second half of the Seventieth Week: Eschatological Fulfillment with the Coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28).

The consideration of the order of these events in light of the Danielic prophetic structure suggested by the use of Daniel 9:27 in Matthew and Mark, show a marked influence, if not dependence, upon the Seventy Weeks Prophecy. Let us further consider the corroboration of events between Daniel 9, the Olivet Discourse, and the book of Revelation.

The Seventieth Week and the Structure of the Apocalypse

McClean’s analysis of the book of Revelation95 reveals that the structure of the judgment section (chapters 4-19) contains linguistic and thematic parallels with the synoptics that reflect an amplification of the synoptic eschatological discourses. Chapter 6:1-11 (the first five seals) was found to be the midpoint in the seventieth week, and to correlate directly with the preliminary signs of the synoptics. Further, Revelation 7-19 was demonstrated to be an expansion of the synoptic gospels within the framework of Daniel 9:27. This is particularly evident in John’s incorporation of the three-and-a-half years division of the seventieth week, and the development of the abomination of desolation motif through the various beasts of chapters 12, 13, and 17. Finally, the third section (the Great Tribulation), of Revelation’s six major sections,96 develops into four sub-sections (4:1-5:14; 6:1-17; 8:1-18:24; 19:1-21) shaped by the seal, trumpet, and bowl septet judgments. These septet judgments are structured according to the seventieth week:

(1) The First half of the Week: (Daniel 9:27a): The Seal Judgments (4:1-6:17), Synoptic Correlation: The Preliminary Signs (Matthew 24:4-14; Mark 13:4-13; Luke 21:8-19), (2) The Second half of the Week: (Daniel 9:2b1):The Trumpet Judgments (7:1-13:18), Synoptic Correlation: The Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15-28; Mark13:14-23; Luke 21:20-24), (3) The Final Days (Daniel 9:27b2): The Bowl Judgments (14:1- 19:21), Synoptic Correlation: The Parousia and Close of End Times (Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28).

It may be seen, therefore, that Daniel 9 has significantly informed the sequence and motif selection of the individual synoptic accounts of the Olivet Discourse, and in part shaped the genre, motifs, language, and generally all of the structure of the book of Revelation.

Additional Examples of Parenthetical Postponement

Old Testament prophetic texts are replete with examples of statements in which a partial fulfillment can be discerned in history, but complete, or ultimate fulfillment, awaits a future, ideal, time, usually the eschaton. Passages traditionally classified as apotelesmatic are those which include a near historical fulfillment, and a far “Day of the Lord” fulfillment in the same context. We may refer to these as eschatological “Day of the Lord” postponement. Examples of this type are: Obadiah 1-14 (far fulfillment), 15-21 (near fulfillment); Joel 2:1, 11 (near), 2:31 (far); Isaiah 13:6 (near), 13:9 (far); Zephaniah 1:7 (near), 1:14 (far).

Old Testament messsianic Texts also reveal (in the light of the New Testament revelation) a distinction between an historical (first advent) and eschatological (second advent). We may refer to these as eschatological messianic postponement. Examples of this type are: Isaiah 9:1-2 (historical), 9:3-5 (eschatological), 9:6 (historical, cf. Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79), 9:7 (eschatological); 52:13-55:13 (historical), 56:1-8 (eschatological); 59:16 (historical), 59:17-21 (eschatological); 61:1-2a (historical - in light of Luke 4:16-19; cf. 7:22), 61:2b-11 (eschatological); Zechariah 9:9 (historical), 9:10 (eschatological); Isaiah 11:1-2 (historical), 11:11 (eschatological); Joel 2:28 (in light of Acts 2:17); Micah 5:2-3a (historical), 5:3b-15 (eschatological); Psalm 22:1-21 (historical), 22:22-32 (eschatological); Psalm 34:14 (historical), 34:16 (eschatological); Malachi 3:1 (historical), 3:2-3 (eschatological), 4:5 (historical), 4:6 (eschatological); cf. also as eschatological messianic Genesis 49:10 (historical), 49:11-12 (eschatological); Deuteronomy 18:16a (historical), 18:16b (eschatological); 2 Samuel 7:15 (historical), 7:13, 16 (eschatological); Zephaniah 2:13-3:7 (historical), 3:8-20 (eschatological); Psalm 2:7 (historical, cf. Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5), 2:8 (eschatological); Isaiah 53:10a, 11 (historical), 53:10b, 12 (eschatological).

I believe that many of the desecration/restoration motif texts in the Prophets may also bear this distinction, with a partial (near) fulfillment in the return to the Land and the rebuilding of the Temple and City, and an ultimate/eschatological (far) fulfillment in national Israel’s regathering and rebuilding of the Temple at the end time.


Parenthetical postponement is a distinct tenent of classical dispensational interpretation. It is not a creation of this system prompted by its view of separate programs for Israel and the Church, but the observation that such distinctions were made in New Testament eschatological texts, employing Old Testament messianic and restoration passages.98 Such observation then prompted the recognition of separate programs for Israel and the Church and their development systematically. In this study we have sought to provide biblical and interpretive arguments in support of the apotelesmatic approach. The following summary represents some of our conclusions:

(1) The present physical domination of Gentile powers, and the present spiritual program of the Church, require that the literal historical fulfillment of national Israel’s physical ascendancy and spiritual revival be postponed until a future age.

(2) The evidence for this prophetic postponement (apotelesmatic interpretation) is not restricted to any one text, but is a characteristic of messianic and “Day of the Lord” prophetic texts. It may be further supported by the restoration motifs of the prophets which have not seen complete fulfillment in any subsequent age.

(3) Although prophetic postponement is not exclusive to Daniel 9:26-27, this text serves as a model text for this phenomena in light of its use in the synoptic gospels, the Thessalonian espistle, and the book of Revelation.

(4) Parenthetical postponement is demonstrated in New Testament eschatological texts through the structuring of the Olivet Discourse and the Judgment section of the Apocalypse by Daniel 9:27.

(5) The New Testament further demonstrates the acceptance of prophetic postponement through its continuation of the Old Testament restoration promises to national Israel (e.g. Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:25-31). The Second Advent of Christ is seen to be uniquely associated with the fulfillment of these promises (e.g., Matthew 24:30-31; Acts 1:6-7; 3:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).


* This article appeared in an abbreviated form as chapter 7 of the book Issues in Dispensationalism. eds. W.R. Willis and J.R. Master (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pp. 132-165. The reader is referred to this chapter for charts and diagrams which could not be reproduced here.


1Concerning the apocalyptic hope of Israel’s restoration, D.S. Russell, The Method & Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1964), 265 writes: “What we find in the prophetic wrtings is a future hope of a coming kingdom bound up, more often than not, with the restoration of David’s line. This was essentially a picture of an earthly kingdom, political in character, nationalistic in outlook and military in expression.”

2While these exact expressions appear only here in the New Testament and have no direct precedent in the LXX, parallel ideas of the Messianic era do exist in the Jewish apocalyptic literature (cf. for “times of refreshing”: 4 Ezra 7:91, 95; 11:46; 2 Baruch 73-74; 1 Enoch 96:3; and for “the period of restoration of all things”: 4 Ezra 7:75; 13:26-29; 1 Enoch 45:5; 51:4). The context of Acts 3, which equates both terms with one event, requires an analagous interpretation. The term anapsuxis (“refreshing”) is commonly used by Luke to refer to “the expectation of the time of salvation as relief following aflictions” (e.g., Luke 21:7-19, 28, 36; Acts 9:16; 14:22), and therefore this conection with kairoi (“times”) and apo prosopou tou kuriou (“from the presence of the Lord”) may refer to the deliverance of the Jewish remnant from Gentile domination and resultant persecution (ultimately effected at the end of the Tribulation period) by the advent of Messiah. In this respect it is analogous to anesis (“relief”) in 2 Thessalonians 1:7; cf. J. Kremer, “anapsuxis,” Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Eds. Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 1:95. The term apokatastasis (“restoration”) is derived from the verb apokathistemi (“to restore [to an earlier condition]”), used in Acts 1:6 for “restoring the kingdom to Israel,” and in Matthew 17:11 and Mark 9:12 (cf. Malachi 4:5) of Elijah’s coming to “restore all things.” Parallel expressions of this period of “restoration” in the New Testament (though broader in scope) may be found in Jesus’ use of “the regeneration” (palinenesia) in Matthew 19:28 and Paul’s description of the future age of redemption in Romans 8:18-23, cf. F.F. Bruce, “Eschatology in Acts,” in Eschatology and the New Testament: Essays in Honor of George Beasley-Murray. Ed. W. Hulit Gloer (Massachutes: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988), 61-63.

3Cf. for discussion Albrecht Oepke, “apokathistemi,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 1:388.

4Purpose is here indicated by conjunctive hopos + an and the aorist subjunctive. This construction governs both purpose clauses “that your sins may be wiped away” and “that He may send the Christ …” and in the UBS3 text keeps them together in one verse (verse 20), cf. English as verses 19-20.

5The usual sense of telos as “end” or “goal” may here have the more technical idea of “the consummation that comes to prophecies when they are fulfilled” (Luke 22:37), cf. Arndt & Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (The University of Chicago Press, 1957), 819.1. Therefore, with the prefix apo, which basically has the connotation of “separation from something,” the idea is of a delay or interruption in the completion of the prophetic program.

6This school of eschatological dualism, which teaches an “‘already” (inaugurated) - ‘not yet’ (consummated) continuum of the new age of salvation, presently realized but awaiting its full and final manifestation in the future,” argues for an “already inaugrated eschaton” that is “experienced provisionally,” cf. Don N. Howell, Jr., “Pauline Eschatological Dualism and its Resulting Tensions,” Trinity Journal 14:1 (Spring, 1993), 3, 7-8. The problem, as I see it, is not one of a greater continuity/discontinuity between Israel and the Church, but of the literal fulfillment of a promise or prediction with respect to its original referent. The messianic era belongs to Israel as a distinct fulfillment of its destiny in accordance with the Abrahamic Covenant , i.e., to be a conduit of blessing to the Gentile nations (Genesis 12:2-3), whereas the Church is the body of Messiah fulfilling a unique destiny that is irrespective of the distinction between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:4-10). Although analogous language is used to describe the character of the Church (or the individual saint), e.g., Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9-10, it does not require a partial sense of fulfillment by the Church of the ultimate promise to Israel. For further discussion, cf. Paul D. Feinberg, “Hermeneutics of Discontinuity,” Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments: Essays in Honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. Ed. John S. Feinberg (Illinois: Crossway Books, 1988), 109-128.

7E.g., Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation: A Study of the Last Two Visions of Daniel, and of the Olivet Discourse of the Lord Jesus Christ (Swengel: Bible Truth Depot, 1944), 97.

8The verb anastrepso is used of an actual return. Luke did not use it in his gospel, but he did use it previously in Acts 5:22 of officers who physically “went back.” Thus, Luke most likely has in view a literal bodily return of the Lord (the speaker in Amos 9), which was clearly his understanding (cf. Acts 1:11).

9This passage was apparently chosen by Christ because, as F.F. Bruce has noted it may have been the earliest interpretation of the Servant of the Lord, New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1973), 90. Such a connection was made by the Qumran interpreters, for in 11QMelchizedek Isaiah 52:7 and 61:1f are linked together, cf. A.S. van der Woude, “11Q Melchizedek and the New Testament,” New Testament Studies 12 (1965), 66, 301-326.

10Cf. Mishnah, tractate Soferim 12:7 wherein it is stated that it was required that the reader complete three verses of text at the minimum. Even if one could argue that this tradition may not have been in effect in the time of Christ, His abbreviation of the verse is still unusual and begs explanation.

11The “acceptable year of the Lord,” or “the year of YHWH’s favor,” refers to the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10; cf. Isaiah 49:8). The word “freedom” (deror) in verse 1 is the technical word for the restoration invoved in this Jubilary year, in this case most likely the end of the Babylonian captivity. Much has been written in an attempt to see Daniel’s seventy weeks reflecting a Julibary fulfillment in Christ, however, the prophetic understanding of this “release” is not spiritual redemption, but is tied to the Land of Israel and its theocratic government, which will resume in the Millennium.

12Joachim Jeremias, Jesus Promise to the Nations (London, 1958), 38.

13Robert B. Sloan, The Favorable Year of the Lord: A Study of Jubilary Theology in the Gospel of Luke (Austin: Schola Press, 1977), 173.

14The preterist interpretation of the events of the Olivet Discourse and the Apocalypse depends in part upon finding “the day(s) of vengence” (cf. Luke 21:22) fulfillment in A.D. 70, cf. David Chilton Days of Vengence. (Tyler: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990).

15For a detailed discussion of the dispensational interpretation of the Seventy Weeks, cf. Frederick Holtzman, “A Re-examination of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel” (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1974), George W. Shunk, “The Seventieth Week of Daniel” (Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1953), or the major dispensational commentaries (Archer, Cooper, Culver, McClain, Feinberg,Walvoord, Whitcomb, Wood, etc.).

16The normal biblical usage of shavua’ is “week” (of days), as is attested by every appearance of the noun by itself in Tanach (Genesis 29:27, 28; Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 12:5; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9 (2x), 10, 16; II Chronicles 8:13; Jeremiah 5:24; Ezekiel 45:21). However, an exception to this use is thought to be found in Daniel, where shavua’ can mean “week” of years . This usage is found in the apocalyptic literature (e.g., the “Apocalypse of Weeks,” I Enoch 91-104), however, it may have precedent in Daniel, since much of I Enoch draws its thematic material from Daniel, cf. Eugene E. Carpenter, “The Eschatology of Daniel Compared with the Eschatology of Selected Intertestamental Documents” (Ph.D. dissertation: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1978), 274,-275, 287. Whitcomb has demonstrated the validity of this usage on the basis of analogous Hebrew usage, comparative chronology, and the prophetic context, cf. John C. Whitcomb, “Daniel’s Great Seventy-Weeks Prophecy: An Exegetical Insight,” Grace Theological Journal 2:2 (Fall, 1981): 259-263. He argues first on the basis of analogous Hebrew usage that shavua’ may be compared to asor, usually translated “ten days,” but in Psalm 33:2; 92:4 [English, verse 3]; 144:9 must be translated “ten strings” or “ten-stringed instrument.” This indicates that asor means literally a “decad” or “unit of ten,” and that the distinction in numerical measure must be derived from the context. In like manner, shavua’ literally means a “heptad”, or “unit of seven,” and has no intrinsic reference to time periods of any sort. Support for this may be seen in three appearances of shavua’ with yamim (“days”), the addition indicating that shavua’ alone was not sufficient to show that a period of seven days was meant (cf. Ezekiel 45:21; Daniel 10:2, 3). The fact that two of these three combinations occur in Daniel 10, immediately following the ““Seventy Weeks Prophecy”,” may be a signal to the reader that a different sense ofshavua’ now intended. He next demonstrates based on comparative chronology that if the Seventy Weeks Prophecy refers to weeks (sevens) of years, then shavu’im shive’im indicates a time-span of “seventy sevens” of years, or 490 years (70x7 years). The comparative chronology for this determination are those given in the biblical texts which explain the duration of the captivity as a sevenfold judgment based on the covenantal stipulation of exilic curse in Leviticus 26:34-35, 43; cf. 25:2-5 (Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10 and II Chronicles 36:21). The time period given in these explanatory passages for the violation of Levitical sabbath-rest years is 490 years, cf. Robert C. Newman, “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and the Old Testament Sabbath-Year Cycle,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 16 (1973): 229-234. Since Daniel was studying Jeremiah to determine the conclusion of the captivity, and there he learned that 490 years of sabbath-rest violations had resulted in 70 years of punishment (captivity), would not the announcement of another corresponding period of “seventy sevens” be 490 years, rather than 490 days? Certainly the announcement of another destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, only a year and a half after the end of the Exile could have been of little comfort, and of course, the Persian period texts reveal that the city was not rebuilt within this period of time. Whitcomb further argues from the context of biblical prophecy that in Daniel 7:25; 12:7 we read the prediction of a wicked person who will commit abominable acts “for a time, times, and half a time.” This phrase is also used in Revelation 12:14, cf. verse 6 where it is paralleled with the phrase “one thousand two hundred and sixty days,” (cf. also Revelation 11:3). This same period is mentioned in Revelation 11:2; 13:5 as being “forty [and] two months.” Thus, “a time, times, and half a time,” according to the New Testament apocalypse, = 1,260 days = 42 months, or in other words = “a year and two years and a half a year” (31/2 years). We have a similar measurement of time given in Daniel 9:27 as “one week” … “half or middle of the week.” If we interpret shavua’ as a “week of years,” then shavua’ ‘echad (“one week”) = 7 years, and hetzi hashavua’ (“half of the week”) = 31/2 years, which agrees with the New Testament interpretation of the phrase.

17This is one interpretation of the phrase ‘eyn lo (“will have nothing”); an alternate translation is “not for Himself,” meaning that the Messiah’s death was either not for Himself; i.e., it was substitutionary (for others), or that He was innocent (i.e., there was no guilt or criminal reason for His death). The former interpretation strengthens the eschatological argument, but the latter does not detract from it.

18Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: The Folly of Trying to Predict When Christ Will Return (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), 175.

19DeMar’s citation is from Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation (Michigan: Andrews University Press, 1983), 170. LaRondelle, however, only stated that “the importance of the seventy-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 is widely admitted,” and then cited McClain. DeMar, however, has made LaRondelle’s statement of “importance” one of preeminence.

20Alva J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 6.

21The belief that Daniel’s prophecy provided information as to the precise time of prediction was no doubt a significant factor in the timing of the war with Rome in AD 66, since the 70 years of wrath in Daniel 9:3, which figured prominently in the Qumran War Scroll, could have been interpreted as the period between the first outbreak of revolutionary activity in 4 BC (the time of Herod’s death, and possibly also of Jesus’ birth) and the final uprising in AD 66.

22Cf. Pasquale De Santo, “A Study of Jewish Eschatology with Special Reference to the Final Conflict” (Ph.D. dissertation: Duke University, 1957), 356, has shown parallels in the Jewish apocalyptic literature to

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