“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
Seventy weeks — or literally seventy sevens, is seven times the 70 years that the Jews spent in captivity in Babylon. It is not necessary to find a historical event to match anything that happened beyond the year when Jesus was crucified. In fact, the prophecy of Daniel does not describe in detail any specific event at the end of the seventieth week, but focuses rather on an event to take place the “middle of the week” (Daniel 9:27). This event is the crucifixion of Jesus, when Messiah shall be “cut off” (Daniel 9:26).
Does the Fourth Vision of Daniel 9 include the events leading up to AD 70 and the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem?
Yes, Daniel 9 refers to this catastrophic event in the history of the Jews.
Daniel 9:27 — “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
In the midst of the week, or, in the middle of the week — Christ preached from AD 27 to 30 and then by His sacrifice on the cross He fulfilled the sacrificial requirements of the Law.
In the 1800s, dispensationalists, such as C.I. Scofield, invented the idea of the seventieth week of Daniel extending until our day. It was necessary to their system since Daniel gives a 490 year period extending from the time of Ezra until the coming of Christ. Yet dispensationalists wanted in effect to have their cake and eat it too. Since their system interprets much of Daniel, Matthew 24 and Revelation as yet to take place, they needed to imagine a “gap” in the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week.
The overspreading of abominations — This most likely refers to the “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15) or the bringing of ensigns and standards of the pagan Romans into the Temple by the Roman general Titus. Daniel gives seventy weeks – a 490 year time period – in order for the sacrificial mission of the Messiah to be fulfilled.
“And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate” (Daniel 9:27).
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11).
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place” (Matthew 24:15).
This could also refer to the profanation of the Temple by Jews who rejected the Messiah and called for His crucifixion. However, Jesus refers to both Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11 in the Mount Olivet Discourse as an event to take place within a “generation” (Matthew 24:34) after His time on earth. A biblical generation is usually thought to be a 40 year time period (cf. Deuteronomy 29:5,22). Titus, the Roman general, profaned the sanctuary of the Temple and completely destroyed it by AD 70.
Daniel 9:27 does not indicate that this “abomination of desolation” must occur in the middle of the seventieth week. The Temple sacrifices were made ineffectual by Christ’s death on the cross in AD 30. The “middle of the week” points to the time when Christ would cause the sacrifices to cease by being “cut off” (Daniel 9:26). However, the sacrifices did not literally cease until the Romans destroyed the Temple 40 years later in AD 70. Then the Temple sacrifices were made “desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Are the “1290 days” of Daniel 12:11 part of the seventy weeks?
The Messiah was “cut off” (Daniel 9:26). This means that Jesus was crucified. Here the dispensationalist view agrees with preterism. But the dispensationalist conflates the “middle of the week” (Daniel 9:27) with the “1290 days” (Daniel 12:11), which are both roughly three-and-half years. Then the dispensationalist sees a remaining week of years as taking place in the far distant future when the Antichrist will “confirm a covenant in the middle of the week” with the revived nation-state of Israel. Thus a verse that is meant to apply to the Messiah is misinterpreted to predict a future Antichrist figure and a future seven year tribulation.
The preterist solution is that the “abomination that causes desolation” (Daniel 9:27, 12:11; Matthew 24:15) refers to the destruction of the Temple in the generation of the Messiah. However, the razing of the Temple did not come at the end of the seventieth week – 490 years after 457 BC – but rather in AD 70.
Daniel’s purpose was to point to the time when the Messiah would be “cut off” – “in the middle of the [70th] week” – or in AD 30 – at which time the Temple sacrifices would become ineffectual. According to the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Jews of the first century were implored to accept the “once for all” sacrifice of the Messiah (Hebrews 10:10). As more Jews were converted over time, the sacrifices in the Temple would have gradually ceased. However, the rejection of the Messiah by the majority of Jews after AD 30 was the cause of Jerusalem’s utter destruction 40 years later.
Even until the consummation — This refers to the actual cessation of the sacrifices caused by the destruction of the Temple. Jesus in fact, made the sacrifices in the Temple ineffectual in AD 30. However, the continuing sacrifices coupled with the unbelief of the Jews led to the “abomination that causes desolation.” The destruction of the Temple was the final effect.
That determined shall be poured upon the desolate — This refers to the declaration of Jesus in Matthew 24:34 that “this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” The Temple would be destroyed before “this generation” should pass away. A period of 40 years, or a biblical generation, was determined until the wrath of God was to be poured out upon the Temple at Jerusalem causing the sacrifices to become “desolate” in visible reality.
If the 490 years also refers to the time when the Temple would be destroyed, then this leaves a gap of an extra 36 years that does not fit into the 490 year timeline. Some preterists have taught that Stephen’s sermon to the Jews in Acts 7 and his resulting martyrdom occurred at the end of the 490 year time period after the death of Christ. Thus the time period from the Passover of AD 30 to Stephen’s martyrdom in AD 34 represented the second part of the seventieth week. I personally find this view to be a strained conjecture. Stephen’s sermon is simply irrelevant to Daniel’s prophecy and nowhere are we given the exact year of his death.
Since Jesus gave a specific 40 year prediction concerning the destruction of the Temple – the Mount Olivet Discourse in AD 30 to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 – we do not need to search for a solution to the supposed problem of a “missing part of the seventieth week.”
Does this mean Jesus ministered for exactly three-and-a-half years?
It should be noted that Jesus is portrayed as having participated in three Passover celebrations in the Gospels. If He began His public ministry in the fall of AD 27, then the Passovers in 28, 29 and 30 would fulfill those references. The last Passover when Jesus was crucified was the “middle of the week.” However, it is not the “middle” in the sense of an exact center point bisecting a line. Although it is popularly taught on the basis of Daniel 9:27 that Jesus’ public ministry lasted exactly three-and-a-half years, I do not hold the view that the “middle” means the exact center. In fact, the three Passovers recorded in the Gospels only necessitate the length of Jesus’ ministry to be around two-and-a-half years, not three-and-half.
The end of the 3.5 years seems to me to be at the salvation of Cornelius and with the invitation to eat seafood and pork vision. Seems that the while thing must have really been over at that point.