A CHRISTOTELIC VIEW OF DANIEL 9:24-27: PRT 6

A CHRISTOTELIC VIEW OF DANIEL 9:24-27:

-PART 6-

THE PARALLELS OF THE ‘SEVENS’

When Daniel 9:24-27 is understood as set forth in chapters four through nine of this work, multiple internal parallelisms begin to come into focus. The first and second sections will respectively highlight the parallel messiahs and the parallel Babylon’s within the seventy ‘sevens.’ The third subdivision will feature an analysis of the parallel emancipations, while the fourth will examine the parallel baptisms within the prophecy. The fifth segment will consider the parallel peoples, cities, temples, and lands between the two redemptive-historical eras which the prophecy spans.

 

Parallel Messiahs

 

When the terminus a quo of the seventy ‘sevens’ is understood to be Cyrus’ decree in 538 B.C., it becomes readily apparent that Daniel 9:24-27 refers to two messiahs, one implicitly and the other explicitly. Daniel 9:25 explicitly mentions the Lord Jesus Christ as “Messiah the Prince” (מָשִׁיהַ נָגִיד – māšîaḥ nāgîd): “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.” The other messiah to which the prophecy implicitly refers is Cyrus of Persia. Consider Isaiah 45:1: “Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed [or His messiah] ( לִמְשִׁיחוֹ  – limšȋḥô), whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him, and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut.” Thus, Cyrus is a messiah, who typologically parallels Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

 

Parallel Babylons

In addition to the two messiahs, Daniel 9:24-27 implies two Babylons which typologically parallel one another. The first Babylon is the literal, earthly city which Cyrus of Persia overthrew in 539 B.C. by diverting the Euphrates allowing his soldiers to infiltrate the city’s elaborate defenses. Isaiah 44:27 seems to make reference to Cyrus’ method of infiltration: “It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up!’ and I will make your rivers dry.” Bruce Waltke states: “Herodotus records that Cyrus diverted the waters of the Euphrates into a swamp and found open the water gates under Babylon’s wall, which are closed in war to divert the river into a defensive moat around the city.”[1] The second Babylon is the satanic world system which Revelation 18:2 calls “Babylon the Great.” This Babylon will be overthrown by Christ when He returns to defeat His enemies, execute the resurrection, judge mankind, and usher in the eternal state (cf. Rev 18:1-24). In fact, Revelation 16:12 describes Christ’s sudden and decisive overthrow of ‘Babylon the World’ using ‘Cyrus’ language: “And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east.” Gregory Beale notes:

 

The woe of the sixth bowl is depicted according to the description of God’s judgment of Babylon and Israel’s restoration, which itself was patterned after the drying up of the Red Sea at the exodus (cf. Exod. 14:21-22 with Isa. 11:15; 44:27; 50:2; 51:20; cf. also Josh. 3:16; 4:23). The OT prophesies that this judgment would include the drying up of the Euphrates River (Isa. 11:15; 44:27; Jer. 50:38; 51:36; CF. Zech. 10:11). The prophecy was fulfilled by Cyrus, who diverted the waters of the Euphrates (cf. Isa. 44:27-28). This allowed his army to cross the now shallow waters of the river, enter the city unexpectedly, and defeat the Babylonians (Herodotus, Hist. 1.190-191; Xenophon, Cyr. 7.5.1-36 [see also Tg. Jer. 51:36, 41-44; 4Q169 Frags. 1+2, 3-9). Against this background, it can be seen that the battle in Revelation will end in the absolute destruction of all the opponents of God.[2]

 

Just as Cyrus’ diverting of the waters of the Euphrates enabled the Persian monarch to quickly invade and overthrow the city of Babylon, Christ’s conquest of “Babylon the Great” (Rev 18:2), that is to say, the satanic world system, will be sudden, unexpected, decisive, and absolute.

 

Parallel Emancipations

The physical emancipation of captive Israel by Cyrus in 538 B.C. parallels the spiritual emancipation of God’s people by Christ Jesus in 30 A.D. Concerning Cyrus, Yahweh declares in Isaiah 45:13:  “I have aroused him [Cyrus] in righteousness, and I will make all his ways smooth; he [Cyrus] will build My city, and will let My exiles go free, without any payment or reward.” Cyrus’ decree physically liberated the Jews from Babylonian Captivity allowing them to return home to the Promised Land to rebuild Jerusalem and its Temple (Dan 9:25; cf. Isa 44:28). In a parallel manner, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection leveled the decisive deathblow against sin, inaugurating the spiritual liberation of God’s people from the dominion of sin and death (Dan 9:24). That being said, the creation remains in the corrupting bondage of sin. Believers are still affected by their fallen nature. Sin still rules over the unbelieving mass of mankind. However, this spiritual emancipation or exodus, which was inaugurated at the cross, will be consummated when Christ returns to judge sin, defeat His enemies, and rescue His people.

 

Parallel Baptisms

Moreover, Daniel 9:24-27 implies two baptisms which typologically parallel one another. Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River initiated not only the first half of the seventieth ‘seven’ but also His earthly ministry of three and one-half literal years. When Christ was baptized by John, He was subsequently anointed with the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16 declares: “And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him.” This unique, milestone event fulfilled Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; 2to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” In a parallel fashion, Spirit Baptism at Pentecost (and its apostolic extensions) not only formed the Church but also initiated the Church’s earthly ministry of three and one-half symbolic years, which signify the entire interadvent period (i.e. the New Covenant age). Recall that three and one-half symbolizes a limited period of persecution or hardship in the Scriptures, which both Christ’s earthly ministry and the New Covenant age constitute. Also recall that the Church’s ministry in the interadvent period parallels/recapitulates Christ’s earthly ministry; thus, both ministries are described as lasting three and one-half years. The Church’s baptism not only parallels but also recapitulates (i.e. repeats) Christ’s anointing with the Holy Spirit at His baptism in the Jordan River.

 

Parallel Covenant Eras

The Seventy Weeks Prophecy begins with the following words in Daniel 9:24: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Classical Dispensationalists understand the seventy ‘sevens’ to pertain entirely to Israel and the earthly city of Jerusalem.[3] However, this understanding does not take into account the significant redemptive historical shift between the Old and New Covenant eras. The initial sixty-nine and one-half ‘sevens’ of Daniel 9:24-27 transpired while the Old/Mosaic Covenant remained in effect. The nation of Israel, comprised of both believing and unbelieving Jews, constituted God’s covenant people under the Old Covenant. Additionally, the Old Covenant corresponded to the earthly city of Jerusalem (Gal 4:25), the earthly temple in Jerusalem, and the earthly land of Israel. However, when the Lord Jesus Christ was “cut off” (Dan 9:26a) in the middle of the seventieth ‘seven,’ the Old Covenant came to its God-ordained end and was replaced by the New Covenant. The Church, which is comprised of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles, subsequently became God’s covenant people under the New Covenant. In contradistinction to the Mosaic Covenant, the New Covenant corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem (Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22-24). While the Tabernacle/Temple was the sanctuary in the Old Covenant era, the temples of the New Covenant are the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church, and the individual believer. Finally, the earthly land of Israel in the Old Covenant is replaced in the New Covenant by the inaugurated fulfillment of true rest in Christ for believers (Heb 4:9) and the new heavens and new earth (Rom 8:19-23; 2 Peter 3:10-13). In the final half week of the prophecy, the phrase “your people and your holy city” takes on a new meaning after Christ’s crucifixion and the redemptive-historical transition from Old Covenant to New Covenant. As stated in Chapter 3, Spirit Baptism, like Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, was retroactive reaching back to include all Old Testament saints into the Church, the Body of Christ. Thus, although Daniel lived while the Old Covenant was in force, he was retroactively incorporated into the Body of Christ when the Holy Spirit was poured out at the Pentecost event in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19.

 

CONCLUSION

Truly, the Seventy Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most profound prophecies in the entire Bible. Many have sought to interpret this messianic prophecy. Although elements of each interpretation are to be commended, apparently no one interpretation is entirely correct. A Christotelic hermeneutic is an essential tool to correctly interpret Scripture, and failure to consistently employ such a hermeneutic will inevitably result in a less accurate interpretation of God’s Word. To reiterate, a Christotelic hermeneutic views the Lord Jesus Christ as the ultimate goal or end of God’s Word and seeks to consistently interpret all Scripture in view of this great truth. The conclusion of this work is that, the consistent use of a Christotelic hermeneutic demonstrates that the Seventy Weeks prophecy foretells the coming and crucifixion of the Messiah, the establishment of the New Covenant, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the ultimate or eternal Jubilee.

 

Daniel 9:24-27 through the Eyes
of a Classical Dispensationalist

“Seventy [literal] weeks have been decreed for your people [Israel] and your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness [i.e. establish millennial kingdom], to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place [i.e. a millennial temple]. 25So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree [Artaxerxes IV’s decree] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [i.e. Jesus Christ] there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks [483 literal years]; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26Then after the sixty-two weeks [in the temporal gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks] the Messiah will be cut off [Christ’s crucifixion] and have nothing, and the people [i.e. Romans] of the prince [i.e. Antichrist] 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. 27And he will make a firm covenant [i.e. future treaty between the Antichrist and Israel] with the many [unbelieving Israel or Israel’s leadership] for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering [i.e. Antichrist breaks the treaty]; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate [i.e. a reference to the idol that the Antichrist will place in a Tribulation Temple], even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate [i.e. the Antichrist is destroyed at Armageddon].”

 

The Context of Daniel 9:24-27

 

 To rightly interpret Daniel 9:24-27 requires a correct understanding of its context. The prophecy of the seventy ‘sevens’ occupies the center of the chiastic structure which arranges the greater part (8:1 to 12:4) of the second half of Daniel. This chiasm strongly confirms the theological validity of and necessity for a Christotelic hermeneutic. The historical context of Daniel 9:24-27 is Jerusalem’s desolation which lasted seventy symbolic years. These symbolic years possess at least four levels of meaning: 1) the number seventy is symbolic of Yahweh’s divine judgment against Israel for failing to fulfill her covenantal obligations; 2) the seventy years of Jeremiah 29:10 likely symbolize the complete period of time in which Babylon dominated the Ancient Near East; 3) the seventy years are clearly connected to the Sabbath, the covenantal sign of the Mosaic Covenant; and 4) the seventy years of desolation must be understood in light of the sabbatical cycles outlined in the Law of Moses (cf. Lev 25-26). Furthermore, Daniel 9:24-27 is frequently interpreted apart from rightly understanding its local context: the prophet’s prayer in verses three through nineteen. As Daniel’s prayer indicates, Gabriel’s answer must concern Yahweh’s renewal and fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant. In fact, the parallel structure of Daniel 9:26-27 follows a covenantal format, detailing the ultimate blessings and fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant (26a, 27a) along with its covenantal curses (26b, 27b). Any understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 that does not take this fact into account will interpret the prophecy apart from its local context in Daniel’s prayer. Moreover, Gabriel is the angelic herald of the Messiah. Thus, Gabriel’s presence indicates that “Messiah the Prince” in Daniel 9:25 must be the Lord Jesus Christ not Cyrus of Persia, not an anointed high priest, and not a governor of Judea.

 

The Seventy ‘Sevens’ and Their Purpose

The seventy ‘sevens’ are four hundred-ninety symbolic years which constitute ten jubilee cycles after which comes the Ultimate Jubilee, that is to say, the eternal state. The jubilee year was typological of this final end-time Jubilee. In the traditional jubilee year, the land experienced a year-long Sabbath rest, the land reverted to its original owners, all debts were canceled, and all slaves/indentured servants were freed. In the Ultimate Jubilee, believers experience the inaugurated fulfillment of true rest in Christ (Heb 4:9), the new heavens and new earth will be given to believers (Rom 8:19-23; 2 Peter 3:10-13), the debt of sin will be completely dealt with, and believers will be completely freed from the slavery of sin. The six goals of the seventy ‘sevens’ in Daniel 9:24 cannot be fully understood apart from the already-not yet principle. In other words, each of these prophetic purposes was inaugurated by Christ at His First Coming but awaits its full consummation at His glorious return. The first three prophetic goals focus on removal of sin: “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity.” The second three prophetic goals focus on the restoration of righteousness: “to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Regarding the three segments of the seventy ‘sevens,’ the seven ‘sevens’ symbolize the complete period from the decree of Cyrus the Great to the complete restoration of the city of Jerusalem, while the sixty-two ‘sevens’ symbolize the complete period between Jerusalem’s restoration and the coming of Messiah the Prince.

 

Messiah the Prince

The central figure of Daniel 9:24-27 is the individual designated as “Messiah the Prince,” who can only refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, the true king of Israel. A Christotelic understanding of the prophecy hinges on the recognition of a parallelism of specification in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven. 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 (i.e. ‘the covenant with the many’), and render the Levitical sacrifices wholly obsolete – in effect, ending them. 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. Additionally, the verb הִגְבִּיר  (higbȋr – derived from gābar) which begins Daniel 9:27 favors the view that the ‘covenant with the many’ is the New Covenant confirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ. 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.” In other words, Yahweh “the Mighty God” is the One who through His Son the Messiah strengthens the ‘covenant with the many.’ Furthermore, the final ‘seven’ begins with Christ’s earthly ministry and spans the entire New Covenant Age until His glorious return. Since three and one-half symbolizes a limited period of persecution/ hardship (which both Christ’s earthly ministry and the New Covenant age constitute) and since the Church’s ministry in the interadvent period parallels/recapitulates Christ’s earthly ministry, the first half of the seventieth ‘seven’ corresponds to Christ’s earthly ministry of three and one-half literal years, while the second half symbolizes the entire New Covenant age.

 

The Destruction of Jerusalem

The second halves of vv. 26 and 27 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. Messiah the Prince is most likely the ‘coming prince’ of Daniel 9:26b for three reasons: the grammatical rule of previous reference, the biblical use of nāgîd (i.e. prince) versus melek (i.e. king), and other messianic clues found throughout the Book of Daniel (e.g. Dan 7:13; 8:25). If the Lord Jesus Christ is the ‘coming prince,’ then the Jewish people are the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary (Dan 9:26b). Thus, the historical record as seen in Josephus’ writings confirms that the Jewish people spoiled the city and the sanctuary themselves. Furthermore, Josephus’ horrific depiction of the fall of Jerusalem reads virtually verbatim from Deuteronomy 28:49-62 and Leviticus 26:30-33, passages which relate the covenantal curses of the Mosaic Covenant. Although the encirclement of Jerusalem by Rome’s legions (Luke 21: 20-24) is not itself the abomination of desolation, it indicated that Jerusalem’s desolation had come near. Even though it is difficult to precisely identify the abomination of desolation, it is clear that it relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., not the Antichrist in a future seven-year Tribulation.

 

The Ultimate Jubilee

 

The seventy ‘sevens’ are ten symbolic jubilee cycles (except for the first half of the seventieth week) which are not only immediately followed by but also typological of the Ultimate Jubilee (i.e. the eternal state – the new heavens and new earth). In the traditional jubilee year, the land experienced a year-long Sabbath rest, the land reverted to its original owners, all debts were canceled, and all slaves/indentured servants were freed. In the Ultimate Jubilee, believers experience the inaugurated fulfillment of true rest in Christ (Heb 4:9), the new heavens and new earth will be given to believers (Rom 8:19-23; 2 Peter 3:10-13), the debt of sin will be completely dealt with, and believers will be completely freed from the slavery and corruption of sin. The Ultimate Jubilee was inaugurated in Christ’s earthly ministry (Luke 4:16-21) and will be consummated when Christ returns in glory. How do we know this? First, the symbolism of the eschatological trumpet, which is connected to be the jubilee year and Christ’s Second Coming, demonstrates that the Ultimate Jubilee is consummated at Christ’s Second Coming. Second, the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants are fulfilled typologically in their ultimate sense. To put it differently, the ‘near’ fulfillments of these covenants in the Old Testament are typological of their ‘ultimate’ fulfillments in the New Covenant Age and Ultimate Jubilee. Third, Romans 8:19-23 is a powerful passage which not only details the cosmic restoration of the final jubilee. Fourth, just as the seventy ‘sevens’ began with Israel’s exodus from Babylon orchestrated by the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C., they end with a massive, end-time ingathering of believing ethnic Jews in conjunction with Christ’s glorious return.

 

The Parallels of the ‘Sevens’

 

When Daniel 9:24-27 is understood in this manner, multiple internal parallelisms begin to come into focus. When the terminus a quo of the seventy ‘sevens’ is understood to be Cyrus’ decree in 538 B.C., it becomes readily apparent that Daniel 9:24-27 refers to two messiahs, one implicitly (i.e. Cyrus) and the other explicitly (i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ). In addition to the two messiahs, Daniel 9:24-27 implies two Babylons which typologically parallel one another: the literal, earthly city which Cyrus of Persia overthrew in 539 B.C. and the satanic world system known as “Babylon the Great” (Rev 18:2) which Christ will overthrow at His glorious return. Moreover, the physical emancipation of captive Israel by Cyrus in 538 B.C. parallels the spiritual emancipation of God’s people by Christ Jesus in 30 A.D. Furthermore, Daniel 9:24-27 implies two baptisms which typologically parallel one another: the Church’s baptism not only parallels but also recapitulates (i.e. repeats) Christ’s anointing with the Holy Spirit at His baptism in the Jordan River. Finally, the seventy ‘sevens’ spans two covenantal eras, the Old Covenant age and the New Covenant era, which parallel one another with regard to their covenant peoples, covenant cities, covenant temples, and covenant lands.

 

Daniel 9:24-27 as Described
in This Work

“Seventy [symbolic] weeks [except for the first half of the final seven] have been decreed for your people [in Old Covenant: Israel; in New Covenant: Church] and your holy city [in Old Covenant: earthly Jerusalem; in New Covenant: heavenly Jerusalem], 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 [Jesus Christ and the Church]. 25So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree [Cyrus’ decree] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [i.e. Jesus Christ] there will be seven [symbolic] weeks and sixty-two [symbolic] weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26Then after the sixty-two [symbolic] weeks [in the seventieth seven] the Messiah [i.e. Jesus Christ] will be cut off [i.e. crucified] and have nothing, and the people [i.e. the Jews] of the prince [i.e. Jesus Christ] who is to come will destroy [i.e. 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 [i.e. Jerusalem will be destroyed]. 27And he [i.e. Jesus Christ] will make a firm covenant [i.e. the New Covenant] with the many [i.e. the elect] – one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering [i.e. by His death, Christ ended the Levitical sacrifices]; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate [i.e. after the Jews spoiled the Jerusalem and its temple, the Romans would destroy both], even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”


[1]Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 844.

[2]Gregory K. Beale and Sean M. McDonough, “Revelation,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. Gregory K. Beale and Donald A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 1135. See also Gregory K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 828.

[3]See Alva J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1940; reprint, 1969, 2007), 12; John F. Walvoord, “Is the Seventieth Week of Daniel Future?” BSac 101:401 (Jan 44): 30.

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