Daniel’s 70 Weeks – Desolations are Decreed

24May11

As we now progress in this popular and quite often misunderstood prophetic passage, we turn our attention to verse 26 of Daniel chapter 9. Here we will examine the prophecy concerning the coming of Christ and the His death. This will also be one of the most difficult sections to deal with for the same reasons as posed previously

  • Our preconceptions as to what actions we attribute to Christ
  • The popular view’s impact on our preconceptions
  • The language usage of the author
  • The difference between events and decrees

Hopefully by the end of this post we will have addressed these issue and more and will at least shed more light on this potentially dark and difficult passage.

Dan 9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.

Hopefully the most obvious portion of the passage should jump out at you. Sometime after the 69th week (7 plus 62) the Messiah will be cut off. This most naturally would mean that during the 70th week since the 70th would naturally follow the 69th as we have previously discussed.

The term used for “cut off” should best be understood as “violently killed.” As shown in a previous post the 70th week begins with the baptism of Jesus Christ and the beginning of His ministry. This would place the cutting off at the halfway point of the 70th week, correlating historically with the 3 ½ year ministry of Jesus. This is important and will help us tie together and understand verse 27 when we get to it in the next post. But for now understand that the violent death and “cutting off” also denotes a separation of sort, which would make sense given the nature of Christ’s death was not only physical punishment but also the momentary loss of perfect and eternal relationship with the father.

Now comes by far the most difficult part of the entire passage. Here we have a description of the eventual destruction of the city and the sanctuary. This is accomplished through the work of the Prince who is to come. There is where many, especially Dispensationalist make a transfer of the subject of the passage from Jesus, the Messiah to some antichrist character represented as the prince.

The problem is that nowhere in the passage does the author introduce a new character. The previous usage of the term “prince” is in conjunction with the Messiah and there is no reason here to make a leap to another character, especially since we have the picture in Matthew of Jesus coming in judgment against the city and Temple (which we will get to when we return to the Olivet Discourse).

To make the leap mid sentence to a new character is simply not called for and a poor exegesis of scripture. One of the scariest and most frustrating results of the Dispensational interpretation is that it takes the holy work of the Lord Jesus Christ and applies those actions to some antichrist! It actually turns the entire passage upside down and forces it to say what it never intended. There are two major points here.

Remember in our discussion of the context of the Olivet Discourse we discovered that though jesus declares a judgment of desolation against the people and the temple, those judgments are not handed out until a generation later. Here is the same pattern. Though the desolations are decreed with the framework of the 490 years, the actual punishment events take place a generation later, or after the 490 years are complete. The point of this verse is the same as Matthew 23 in a sense; the desolations are determined because of the actions of those in Jesus’ midst and for the same reason, the cutting off of the Messiah.

Please note closely that Jesus condemns the Pharisees and declares that they would face the punishment of all of the blood of all of the saints because they kill the Lord of Glory. Here in Daniel the same picture is painted that as a result of the killing (cutting off) of the Messiah, the Prince will come and destroy them. Again, the term used for Jesus in this passage is Messiah the Prince. There is again no warrant to make a shift.

Matt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate.

But many will complain that it is not in the nature or action of God to use a pagan nation to dole out his punishment. They are offended at the thought that Jesus would be seen as leading (as the Prince) this pagan, evil army to destroy the city and the Temple. But is this a problem Biblically speaking?

Please take note of the following actions done by evil men or nations and discover for yourself exactly who the Bible says was the actual perpetrator of the events. A little study will show that all of the following events were said to have been orchestrated and led by God!

  • Destruction of Egypt
  • Destruction of Edom
  • Death of Saul
  • Destruction/Defeat of Babylon
  • Destruction/Defeat of Judah
  • Destruction/Defeat of Israel
  • Death of Jesus – Acts 2

Every single act listed above was said to be done by the hand and a work of God even though in our reality we saw the actual work being done by human hands. There is no difference here. We should expect that the punishment handed out by God on behalf of His Son would include His being intimately involved with the punishment. This picture of judgment meted out by God and done through the work and actions of man is no new thing!

In conclusion it is important to remember that this passage is messianic in nature and not only is there any warrant for making a transition is characters, it does a major disservice to the work of Christ to label His actions as ones being performed by an antichrist!

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