A CHRISTOTELIC VIEW OF DANIEL 9:24-27 (Part 2)

A CHRISTOTELIC VIEW OF Daniel 9:24-27

PART 2

 Parallel Verses

A Christotelic understanding of the Seventy Weeks prophecy hinges on the recognition of a parallelism of specification in Daniel 9:26-27. Frederic Bush states that in this type of parallelism “succeeding lines give the specifics of their predecessors.”[1] The two verses can each be broken down into two halves, half “A” and half “B.” When placed side by side, it is clear that each half of verse twenty-seven specifies additional information about its corresponding half in verse twenty-six. Using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) version of Daniel 9:26-27, I have broken down the verses into the aforementioned pattern:

  • (26–A) Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah [māšîaḥ] will be cut off and have nothing,
  • (26–B) And the people of the prince [nāgîd] who is to come will destroy [or spoil] 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–A) 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
  • (27–B) 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.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones also argues for such a parallel structure:

In other words, there is a parallel between verses 26 and 27. There are two sections to verse 26, and two sections to verse 27. In the first half of verse 26 we are told about the Messiah being cut off and having nothing, and in connection with that, there is a terrible flood, and the war with all its desolation which literally did take place in AD 70. And there is an exact repetition of the same two things in verse 27. First of all, the Messiah Himself confirming and ratifying the covenant and by His death putting an end to the sacrifices, and then in the second half the desolation and the war and the destruction which took place. And it all literally happened in AD 70.[2]

This chapter’s subsequent sections will attempt to establish that ‘verse 26–A’ corresponds to ‘verse 27–A’ and that ‘verse 26–B’ parallels ‘verse 27–B.’

The covenantal arrangement of the two verses favors a parallel structure. As Daniel’s prayer (9:3-19) intimates, the covenant which is “confirmed” (9:27) must directly relate to the eschatological fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant. The first halves of verses twenty-six and twenty-seven detail the ultimate blessings and fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant. The Lord Jesus would be “cut off” for His people after the sixty-ninth ‘seven’ in the middle of the final week. However, by His death, Christ would fulfill the Mosaic Covenant, establish the New Covenant, and permanently end the Levitical sacrifices. The second halves of the verses detail the covenantal curses of the Mosaic Covenant. Because of the Jews’ rejection of Christ and continuing transgression of the Mosaic Covenant, Yahweh would raise up the Romans who would destroy Jerusalem with its Temple in A.D. 70.

 

The Covenant with ‘the Many’

The covenantal nature of Daniel’s prayer (Dan 9:3-19) demands that the ‘covenant with the many’ (Dan 9:27) directly relate to the fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant. When the parallel structure of Daniel 9:26-27 is appropriately considered, it becomes quickly apparent that the covenant with the many (Dan 9:27a) is none other than the New Covenant. Why? Christ’s atoning death and the subsequent establishment of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-33; Luke 22:20) constitute the eschatological fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant. Furthermore, a Christotelic hermeneutic strongly favors this interpretation.

One Week

The phrase “for one week” which appears in most of the prominent English translations of Daniel 9:27, as in the NASB (“he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week’), is an inaccurate translation and has been “the means of leading astray some who have undertaken to explain this prophecy.”[3] Why? No preposition is prefixed to or modifies אֶחָד שָׁבוּע  (šāvûa‘ ’ehād – “one week”) in the Hebrew Text, and Philip Mauro rightly states there is nothing “to imply it.” [4] Furthermore, since the first halves of verses twenty-six and twenty-seven are parallel to one another, the Messiah is cut off after the first sixty-nine ‘sevens’ (i.e. in the seventieth ‘seven’) and through His death ratifies the “covenant with the many,” that is, the New Covenant. Thus, the context and structure of Daniel 9:26-27 grants interpretative preference to the view that the Messiah strengthens a covenant with the many during, not for, the one week.

 

Kārat Běrȋt – To Cut a Covenant

The strong concentration of covenantal language in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven favors the interpretation that the Messiah confirms the New Covenant. In the Old Testament, arguably the most common phrase used for the forging of a covenant was ‘kārat běrȋt’ (בְּרִית כָּרַת) which literally means ‘to cut (kārat, כָּרַת) a covenant (běrȋt, בְּרִית).’[5] This Hebraic term describes the institution of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 15:18), the Mosaic/Old Covenant (Exod 34:27; Deut 5:2; Jer 34:13), the Davidic Covenant (Ps 89:3), and the New Covenant (Isa 55:3; Jer 31:31; 32:40; Ezek 34:25). These words also appear in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven! Kārat occurs in verse 26a: “Messiah will be cut off [יִכָּרֵת  – yikkāret] and have nothing;” běrȋt appears in verse 27a: “he will make firm a covenant [בְּרִית  – běrȋt] with the many for one week.”

If the parallelism of specification between these two verses is not taken into account, one might well conclude that the two words are unrelated to each other in this particular context. However, the first half of verse twenty-six describes the Messiah as being cut off and parallels the first half of verse twenty-seven, which describes the strengthening of a ‘covenant with the many.’ Thus, the angel Gabriel is telling Daniel that the Messiah by being cut off will strengthen a covenant with the many during the seventieth week. It is also noteworthy that covenant in Daniel 9:27a is not accompanied by the definite article (“the”). This parallels the language of Jeremiah 31:31, where no definite article accompanies new covenant: “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’” Such language may serve as an additional indicator that the ‘covenant with the many’ of Daniel 9:27a refers to the New Covenant.

 

The Identity of ‘the Many’

The New Testament, as well as the Old Testament, clearly identifies “the many” of Daniel 9:27 as believers, not “apostate Jews” as many Classical Dispensationalists claim.[6] For example, the Book of Daniel itself understands “the many” as righteous saints in at least three other passages (Dan 11:33; 12:2-3, 10). Furthermore, Isaiah 53, which portrays the Lord Jesus as the ‘Suffering Servant,’ states not only that Christ “was cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa 53:8) but also that “by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many (Isa 53:11) [emphasis mine]. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “the many” (לָרַבִּים lārabbȋm() in Isaiah 53:11(and Dan 11:33; 12:2-3, 10) is the same word translated “the many” (לָרַבִּים lārabbȋm() in Daniel 9:27a. But, more importantly how does the New Testament use the phrase “the many?” The most crucial passage in determining the identity of “the many” is Matthew 26:28, where the Lord Jesus declared, “For this is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” [emphasis mine]. It is no coincidence that Jesus utilizes Daniel’s phraseology in Matthew 26:28; His word choice indicates that He was in fact quoting Daniel 9:27!

A comparative analysis of the Septuagint (Greek) text of Daniel 9:27 with the Greek text of Matthew 26:28 lends further evidence that Jesus quoted Daniel 9:27a. The Septuagint text of Daniel 9:27 and the Greek text of Matthew 26:28 use the same words for both “covenant” (Daniel: ἡ διαθήκη / Matthew: της διαθήκης) and “many” (Daniel: πολλούς / Matthew: πολλων). However, the New Testament does not stop there. The parallel passage of Matthew 26:28 in Luke’s Gospel (22:20) sheds even more light on the identity of “the many.” In Luke 22:20, Jesus says “this cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” [emphasis mine]. Luke clearly identifies the “the covenant” of Matthew 26:28 as “the new covenant,” and the “many” as “you,” which refers in its immediate context to Jesus’ disciples but ultimately to all New Covenant believers. Thus, “the many” in Daniel 9:27a can refer to none but believers.

 

He Will Confirm a Covenant

The verb הִגְבִּיר (higbȋr) which begins Daniel 9:27a also favors the view that the ‘covenant with the many’ is the New Covenant confirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ. This Hebrew word is derived from the verb גָּבַר (gābar) which means to “be strong” or “be mighty.”[7] In its Hiphil or causative stem (as in Daniel 9:27a), it means ‘to cause to be strong,’ ‘to cause to be mighty,’ ‘to strengthen,’ or ‘to confirm.’ Kim Riddlebarger states that “the use of this word is another serious blow to the dispensational interpretation that verse 27 is referring to the antichrist and an entirely different covenant from that implied by the use of karat in verse 26.”[8] Isaiah’s use of gābar is exceedingly helpful in determining the verb’s meaning in Daniel 9:27: Isaiah refers to Yahweh twice (Isa 9:5; 10:21) as אֵל גִּבּוֹר (’ēl gibbôr), meaning “Mighty God” or “God of Strength.” Kline comments:

Particularly significant for the meaning of higbir in Daniel 9:27 is the use of gibbor in Isaiah 9 and 10. Isaiah identified the Messiah, the Son of David, as “the mighty God” of the covenant formula by declaring His name to be ‘el gibbor (Isa. 9:5, [6]). Then in Isaiah 10 this messianic ’el gibbor is mentioned again in the very passage from which Daniel 9:27 derives its thought and wording alike (see verses 21-23). Isaiah spoke there of God’s mighty messianic fulfillment of covenant blessing and curse: a remnant of Jacob would return unto ’el gibbor, but in overflooding (sotep) judicial righteousness the annihilation (kalah) that was determined (neherasah) would befall the land. Daniel 9:26b, 27 echoes Isaiah’s prophecy: the covenant would be made to prevail (higbir), as a blessing for the many who were the faithful remnant, but as a curse in the form of the determined annihilation (kalah weneherasah) which would be poured out on the abominations of apostate Israel like a flood (setep). The unmistakable dependence of Daniel 9:27 on Isaiah 10:21 ff. points directly to the ’el gibbor of Isaiah 10:21 as the inspiration for the higbir of Daniel 9:27. This confirms the conclusions that the subject of higbir is not antichrist or any other than the anointed one whose name is ‘el gibbor and that the object of higbir, the covenant made to prevail, is the redemptive covenant sealed by the reconciling blood of Christ [i.e. the New Covenant].[9]

In other words, Yahweh “the Mighty God” is the One who through His Son the Messiah strengthens the ‘covenant with the many.’ Furthermore, there is a significant wordplay which occurs with gābar in Daniel 9. Recall that Gabriel is the angelic messenger who communicates the prophecy to Daniel the prophet. In Hebrew, the name Gabriel (גַּבְרִיאֵל) is itself derived from gābar and can mean “man of Ēl,”[10] “man of God,”[11] or “strong man of God.”[12] Consider the fact that the angel whose name means “strong man of God” delivers a message to Daniel from Yahweh “the Mighty God” or “the God of Strength.” How, therefore, can higbȋr refer to anyone but Yahweh’s Messiah? In short, it cannot.

 

 


[1]William S. Lasor, David A. Hubbard, and Frederic W. Bush. Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 234. Mark Futato calls this type of parallelism synthetic: “Synthetic parallelism refers to those many lines wherein the second colon does not really say the same thing again in either different or opposite words, but simply adds new information to the first colon.” Futato, Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2007), 38. See also Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 27.

[2]Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible, Volume III:  The Church and the Last Things (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2003), 135. See Sinclair B. Ferguson, Daniel, in vol. 21 of The Preacher’s Commentary Series, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 187; and Keith Intrater and Daniel Juster, Israel, the Church, and the Last Days (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2003), 232.

[3]Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1975), 85.

[4]Ibid.

[5]See BDB, 136, 503; HALOT, 48, 165; and R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 128, 456-57.

[6]Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1989), 774.

[7]HALOT, 54. See also BDB, 149; Gesenius, 156; and Harris, Archer, and Waltke, Theological Wordbook, 148.

[8]Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker

Publishing Group, 2007), 155.

[9]Meredith G Kline, “The Covenant of the Seventieth Week,” in The Law and the Prophets: Old

Testament Studies in Honor of Oswald T. Allis (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), 8-9.

[10]BDB, 150.

[11]Gesenius, 156.

[12]John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1272.

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