Daniel’s 70 Weeks – The Gap Theory

30May11

Though the Dispensational “Gap Theory” was reviewed in a previous post, it would do us a great service if we reviewed the basic idea and spend more time discussing the problems with the view. Remember in the previous post we noted that even leading Dispensationalist argue that the Daniel 70 week prophecy is the linchpin for the Dispensational model. The primary focus and necessary component of that model in the Gap theory.

It is necessary for the Dispensationalist to make the case that there is a gap of indeterminable time between the 69th and 70th weeks. Yhis “gap” is needed in order to create…

  • A Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church
  • A seven year tribulation
  • A rebuilt temple
  • The re-institution of the sacrificial system
  • The rise and rule of an Antichrist
  • A time of fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel

All of the above are exclusive to the Dispensational system and the Gap theory is the necessary component that allows for these events to take place. But before examining the Dispensational gap theory let us examine the different ways the time text of this passage has been interpreted throughout the centuries

There are basically two ways to interpret the time text of the 490 years in the Daniel 9 passage. The first is called the Consecutive Theory. The second is the aforementioned “Gap Theory.” The gap theory has two viewa, one the has been promoted by reformed theologians in some circles and by some Classical Premillennialist and the Dispensational Gap theory. The first of the two gap theories is also called the Covenantal Gap Theory. We will examine the Consecutive theory first.

First though, let us examine the passage in question and look at the time text and it’s stated divisions. I will place in bold the three different divisions of time.

24 ” Seventy weeks are determined…

For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 ” Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street[c] shall be built again, and the wall,[d]
Even in troublesome times.
26 ” And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.”

THE CONSECUTIVE THEORY

The consecutive theory is exactly what it sounds like. They proponents of this view argue that the natural and most literal interpretation of the 490 years is as one consecutive block of 490 years. The seven weeks and 62 weeks are consecutive by everyone’s consideration. These divisions (which will be discussed in great detail later) are more than likely the division of the time to rebuild the city and the time rebuilt the wall and the “silent” period from the end of the prophets until the ministry of Christ.

The consecutive  theory argues there is no break between the the seven and the 62 and then there is no break between the 62 and the one giving us a consecutive 70 weeks with no break in time and no gaps whatsoever. This is the natural reading of the passage as the very first words of the prophecy dictate. It states there 70 weeks are decreed. There is no warrant to assume these are 70 random weeks spread out over time. These weeks are consecutive just like the 70 years of captivity that they are patterned after (see previous post).

If one uses the decree of Artaxerxes I in 457 BC as the call to rebuild the city, then the first 483 takes us to roughly 27 AD which is probably the most accurate date for the beginning of Christ’s ministry since it is now believed that Jesus was actually born in 3 or 4 BC. This leaves the ministry of Christ taking up the first half of the last week. The implications of this will be dealt with later as the purpose of thios post is to deal with the timing aspect and the Gap Theory.

GAP THEORIES

Covenantal Gap

The Covenantal gap argues that there is a Gap of 40 years that goes from 30 AD – the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (see above) – and concludes with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Yhe covenantal gap is the time period given to the Jews to repent. This would be patterned after the Ninevites were given 40 days then God’s chosen people would be given 40 years, or a Biblical generation, to repent.

This gap is inserted in order to include the events of the destruction of the Temple and the city. We will see in a later post that this is not necessary.

Dispensational Gap

This is the most common gap theory. This theory postulates that with the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, the Messianic promises and the kingdom were postponed until some time in the future. This is needed so that the promises that were given to the Jews might be fulfilled and so that when Jesus does return it will be as the jews originally assumed, a warrior and king.

So as a result the church will be raptured and the tribulation description found here and in Matthew 24 will take place. It is believed that the entire 7 year time period – one week – has been pushed out of the current context and designated a future fulfillment time.

There are several problem with this theory as were discussed previously but will be reviewed here for your benefit.

  • There is nothing in the passage that allows for the postponement of the 70th week
  • There is no Biblical precedent for a gap to be placed into a prophetic passage with a time text
  • As discussed in the last post this does a great disservice to the proclamation of God’s Holy Word and the trustworthiness of His declarations
  • For a theological view that prides itself in using a literal hermeneutic it is odd that it refuses to take the time texts literally
  • This makes for some really long toes!

SOME REALLY LONG TOES

Daniel 2: 31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.

This popular prophetic passage is often used by Dispensationalist to describe the four kingdoms of the earth that stretch throughout time. Rather than having them end with the birth of God’s eternal kingdom, Dispensational argue for a “rebirth” of a kingdom when the postponed 70th week is realized. This includes the “rebirth” of the Roman Empire in our near future (European Union?). Since the 70th week includes the above mentioned nation then that nation must be reborn as well. This means that the toes “stretch out” over a very long period of time from the fall of the Roman Empire to it’s rebirth some time in our future. . Gary DeMar has described this theory jokingly (and quite accurately) as “silly putty exegesis!”

It will hopefully be clear there is no need to place a gap of any length during the 70 week prophecy. They are consecutive and without break. There is no need to take the events of the life of Christ and postpone them into some future that the author – and the Lord Himself – never intended.

Next we will begin to walk through the passage and you will hopefully note that a more consistant and biblical exegesis of the passage is possible and actual.

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4 Responses to “Daniel’s 70 Weeks – The Gap Theory”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    Man ALive!

    But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the END: MANY shall run to and fro, and KNOWLEDGE shall be increased. Daniel 12:4 KJV. emphasis added

    • 2 low5point

      Funny you bring up that verse. We will eventually address the question as to what “the end” may be in reference to in this context….some hints are in a previous post. but we are a ways away from that right now 🙂

  2. I’m glad that you pointed out two gap theories. It is a bit like ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ to criticize a dispensational gap and then propose a covenental one instead. But, as you say, the weeks are consecutive. I fully concur.

    • 4 low5point

      The only thing I believe helps the Covenantal Gap view is that, if there is to be a gap (though none is necessary), why must readers skip a gap of only 40 years to reach some gap of some 2,000 years? there is no necessity to miss the obvious fulfillment to gravitate toward a possible fulfillment. Exegetically, though, it really does make sense that the declaration of the destruction must clearly take place within the consecutive 490 weeks even if the fulfillment of that declaration is carried out later.


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