What follows is a brief examination of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel from a Dispensational Premillennial perspective. I don’t often write about eschatology on this blog for a variety of reasons. First, it is understood that many good Christians disagree somewhat over the particulars of eschatology and I don’t want to be mistaken as being overly critical of opposing interpretations. And secondly, I don’t want anything I write to replace your private study. Eschatology can be a labor-intensive pursuit and nothing can replace your own heart-felt study of the Word. The following is meant simply as a guide to understanding the Seventy Weeks of Daniel. In my opinion, when seen from a Dispensational Premillennial perspective, the Seventy Weeks of Daniel is one of the most amazing prophecies in all of Scripture!
While deep in prayer, Daniel received the following vision from the angel Gabriel:
24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; 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. (Daniel 9:24-27)
In this passage it is important to remember that the word translated as “weeks” is the Hebrew word “shabu-im.” It can stand for a period of seven days or seven years. In this case, we talking about a period of seven years. Thus, 70 weeks = 490 years.
In verses 25-26, Gabriel reveals that from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, there will be a period of 7 weeks (49 years) and a period of 62 weeks (434 years) until the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is cut off. 49 years + 434 years = 483 years.
In Nehemiah 2:1-8, we learn it was King Artaxerxes (of Persia) that issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem at the request of Nehemiah. The text tells us this decree was issued in the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign and history teaches us that this places the decree in 445-444 B.C. Remember, in the vision of the seventy weeks, Gabriel revels there will be a 483 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem that the Messiah is cut off. If Artaxerxes issued this decree in 444 and we jump ahead 483 years, we arrive in 39 A.D. However, if adjust for the fact the ancient Jewish/Babylonian calendars followed years of 360 days rather than 365 days, we arrive in 33 A.D. Gabriel revealed that the Messiah would be cut off in 33 A.D. (verse 26). This is the precise year that most scholars place the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Clearly, Gabriel is referring to the crucifixion of Jesus that wouldn’t occur for another 483 years! Most conservative Biblical scholars acknowledge that Christ’s death on the cross occurred at the end of these 69 weeks (483 years) even if they differ somewhat in the chronology.
This places us at the end of the first 69 weeks (483 years) of Gabriel’s revelation to Daniel. It is important to understand there is a gap of time between the first 69 weeks (483 years) and the last week (7 years). This is essentially a gap between the Christ’s work on the cross and the Rapture. The gap represents a time period commonly called the Church Age.
The Final (70th) week of Daniel (The Tribulation)
The final week of Daniel will begin with the Rapture as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
It is at the Rapture that the Restrainer (Holy Spirit) who is currently holding back the beginning of the 70th week will be removed:
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
It is then that the seventieth week of Daniel as described by Gabriel will begin:
27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; 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.” (Daniel 9:27)
The “he” referenced in this passage is the “prince who is to come” (Daniel 9:26) also known as the antichrist. He will make a covenant with “the many” (Daniel’s people – the Jews – see v. 24) and will allow them to make sacrifices in a rebuilt temple until halfway through the final week (3 1/2 years or 42 months). This is described in Revelation 13:4-5:
4 they worshiped the dragon (Satan) because he gave his authority to the beast (antichrist); and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” 5 There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.
The antichrist is referred to by Paul in 2 Thessalonians as “the man of lawlessness” and the “son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). In fact, Paul describes the 70th week of Daniel:
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:3-9).
Paul is teaching that the second coming of Christ will not occur until after the 70th week of Daniel has played out. This seven-year period of tribulation will end when Christ returns to “… slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). This is the even described in Revelation chapter 19:
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16).
This brief study barely scratches the surface of Biblical eschatology. It is amazing, however, to see how different books of the Bible written hundreds of years apart by different authors all work together to provide us with a clear picture of the end times. The Seventy Weeks of Daniel when understood from a Dispensational Premillennial vantage point reveals just how amazingly accurate Biblical prophecy can be. Regardless of how you interpret the details concerning eschatology, the Seventy Weeks Daniel should serve to bolster you confidence in the accuracy and reliability of Scripture!