Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daniel Panel: The Gap Prophecy - Part 3

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We are continuing to share with you the opinions of 17 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Daniel. You should find these interviews fascinating and very informative. The interviews were conducted at a national Bible prophecy conference that was held in the Dallas, Texas area.

The second question is related to one of Daniel's most famous prophecies called the "Prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years" which is found in Daniel chapter 9. Beginning with verse 24, Daniel prophesies that six spiritual goals will be accomplished among the Jewish people during a period of 70 weeks of years, or 490 years. He then proceeds to divide the 490 years into three periods.

The first division is a seven week period or 49 years during which the Temple would be rebuilt. This would be followed by a period of 62 weeks of years, or 434 years, making a total of 483 years. The ending point of this second period of time would be the death of the Messiah. It just so happens that it was exactly 483 years from the time Artaxerxes the King of Persia issued an edict for the rebuilding of the Temple to the time when Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. This left one week of years, or seven years, of Daniel's prophecy to be accounted for and finally fulfilled.

So the question for our experts is this:

#2. Is there a time gap in Daniel's prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years?

Gary Fisher, Lion of Judah Ministries
In the book of Daniel in chapter 9, there are six things that will be accomplished by the end of the 70 Weeks of Daniel. First accomplished was to finish the transgression, second to make an end of sin, third to make atonement for iniquity, fourth to bring in everlasting righteousness, fifth to seal up vision and prophecy, and sixth to anoint the most holy place. The only way to believe that those have already been accomplished is to give ourselves over to the allegorical approach to Scripture.

Take number one, for example, to finish the transgression. This is talking about the Jewish transgression, because Daniel was writing to his people Israel. Has the transgression of the Jewish people ended? No. Make an end of sin, has that ended? No. Make atonement for iniquity? This is probably talking about the Feast of Atonement, but that's an upcoming event that Jesus Christ will personally supervise when He comes to the earth bringing everlasting righteousness. Nobody in their right mind would argue that we have everlasting righteousness today just looking at the world and the condition it is in. Seal up vision and prophecy? We can discuss that one. Anoint the most holy place? I believe that's a reference to Jerusalem receiving the King of King and Lord of Lords, which is Jesus. He'll anoint that Holy place and make Jerusalem the capital of the entire world.

These 70 weeks have not fully occurred yet if you demand their literal interpretation.

Gary Frazier, Discovery Worldwide Ministries
I absolutely believe that at the end of the 69th week of years as recorded in Daniel 9:24-27 there is a very clear gap. What happens textually is that we have the Messiah, the Anointed One, who is cut off. At that point in time, as the text continues we then can see clearly that there's going to be the fulfillment of the final 70th week.

When we look historically at this, we know that those events did not happen in the very near future following the time that Daniel wrote this. But more importantly, I think there's an obvious gap there simply because of the fact that during Daniel's day when God gave that vision to Daniel, He repeatedly speaks about the fact that this is about your people and about your city. This relates to the Jewish people. There was not a clear understanding then that there was going to be something called the ecclesia, the Church, the "called out ones." When the Church was born, that Church Age or that Age of Grace when the Gospel would be taken to the whole world, that was not something that the Jewish people could grasp at that particular time say 500 or so years before Jesus. I personally see a very clear gap there that facilitates the spread of the Gospel.

After the gap, ultimately the Tribulation period that we know is coming will be ushered in, and that's the final seven year period. I think a person who honestly sits down without a preconceived agenda and reads the book of Daniel literally as God intends will come away with a very clear understanding that there's very obviously a period of time between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel.

Randall Price, World of the Bible Ministries
Let's call the time between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel a gap, or a parenthesis, or intercalation. Some of the idea of a gap is in the grammar itself, allowing for it because Daniel says "after the 69 weeks."

Amillennialists want to put that 70th week immediately at the time of the Crucifixion leading up to the end of the Second Temple. The grammar doesn't say that. No, the text is very careful in the way it says this. In the Hebrew text there's something called athnach, which seems to make a break there so that you would see these things as quite different. These are interpretive notes that the rabbis put in.

From my perspective, when we look at the content of the text, it's very clear that what comes after this cannot be related to what goes before this, because we already have mentioned the prince who is related to the people who will destroy the Temple and the sanctuary. That is one text. Then it goes on to say that this one who is coming, who is related to them, is himself going to be involved in desecrating, not destroying the Temple, but desecrating the Temple and making a covenant. He then himself will be destroyed as a result of that act. None of that fits in past history. It certainly can't fit the time of the First Temple. It can't fit any history afterwards.

As futurists we are looking at Daniel 9 as a template, or a pattern, or even a paradigm you might say, for the Olivet Discourse fulfilled in the book of Revelation in chapter 6-19. It seems so clear that the 70th Week of Daniel is this prophetic time period that's mentioned by Jesus. He already says, "When you see (future) the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet," and that comes from Daniel 9:27, so that has to be fulfilled yet future from Jesus' time. The Apostle Paul uses the same language in 2 Thessalonians 2-4, and then Revelation 11:2 picks up the same language talking about forces who will desecrate for 3 1/2 years or 1,260 days the area outside the sanctuary. From that point of view, the desecration of the Temple cannot fit as part of the past history that Daniel is talking about. No, it has to be projected into the far future.

Tom McCall, Tom McCall Ministries
As matter of fact, I think there are two gaps. At the end of the 69 Weeks it says that the Messiah is cut off, though not for Himself. The people of the prince who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The Messiah came at the end of the 69 weeks and He died, and apparently the clock stopped there. Then in about 40 years, the next prophecy was fulfilled which was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Sanctuary. So, there's a little gap there of 40 years.

The next event to look at is the wicked prince. This prince comes and makes a treaty with the many, which presumably is Israel because the whole prophecy is about Jerusalem and Israel. The Antichrist makes this treaty for one week, that's seven years according to Daniel, and that's the beginning of the Tribulation.

So, there's a little gap between the Messiah being cut off and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And then after that, there's a long gap that has lasted 2,000 years before the Tribulation is kicked off with the signing of the agreement, or covenant, between the Antichrist and Israel. This is still yet in the future.

Nathan Jones, Lamb & Lion Ministries
When we read in Daniel 9, it talks about six accomplishments. When the 490 years Daniel is given ends, six things would have happened.

The first thing to happen is to finish the transgression. That means the people, the Jews, who have rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they have to finish the transgression of rejecting their own Messiah.

The second thing to happen is to make an end of sin. The end of sin is the end of rebellion against God. So, at the end of the 490 years, rebellion against God would have ended.

The third thing to happen is to make atonement for iniquity. There has to be a sacrifice for the sins of the people, and that's Jesus' death on the cross.

The fourth is to bring in everlasting righteousness. You have to have righteous people to have everlasting righteousness, and you have to have a righteous king, and that's only the Messiah as King.

The fifth accomplishment would be to seal up vision and prophecy. Prophecy had to finally be fulfilled. All the prophecies given to Daniel have to come to a conclusion at the end of those 490 years.

Finally, the sixth thing that has to happen deals with the anointing of the most holy place. The most holy place is the Temple. There has to be a genuine Temple, but we are talking about the Temple Jesus sets up at the Second Coming.

Right there in Daniel 9:24-27, we are given those things that must happen by the end of the 490 years. Those things haven't all come to fulfillment yet, so there's a gap in time between the 69th week of Daniel and the 70th week.

In the seventh part of this series on the book of Daniel, the members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will next answer the third question, "Are we finally understanding prophecies we've never understood before?"


William Struse said...

Good evening Dr. Reagan & Nathan,

In Part I of your series on the gap between the 69th & 70th week Dr. Reagan made the following statement:

"The strongest argument in behalf of that gap is that the six prophecies of Daniel 9 that were to be fulfilled among the Jewish people during the 490 year time period remain unfulfilled to this day."

In Part III you made the following comment regarding the 6 goals of Daniel 9:24:

"The third thing to happen is to make atonement for iniquity. There has to be a sacrifice for the sins of the people, and that's Jesus' death on the cross."

Could you explain your understanding of point #3 a little more thoroughly? It appears you and Dr. Reagan have a difference of opinion.

I agree with you regarding Yeshua making "atonement for iniquity." But if I understand Dr. Reagan and your interpretation of the final week then Yeshua could not have fulfilled any of the 6 points during his work at Calvary. How do you and Dr. Reagan reconcile your difference of opinion?

Warm Regards,
William Struse

Nathan Jones said...

Sorry, William, but going back to Dr. Reagan's answer, I'm not seeing where we are disagreeing.

Jesus died at the end of the 490 years, but his resurrection which makes atonement possible happened afterwards. Full atonement will be fulfilled once the numbers of 2 Peter 3:9 come in and the Second Coming occurs.

William Struse said...

Good afternoon Nathan,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions.

In your post above you said, “Jesus died at the end of the 490 years,” I assume that is a typo on your part and you meant to say at the end of 483 years.

Going back to Dr. Reagan’s original quote in part 2, I guess I am confused as to exactly where he places the death of Yeshua. In The Gap Prophecy – Part 2 he implies the death of Yeshua happened right at the end of the 483 years. In his book Man of Lawlessness he implies the death of Yeshua happened “after” the 483 years. In an article at RaptureReady entitled Daniels Seventy Weeks of Years, Dr. Reagan offers a “better solution”. Here he clearly states the Messiah was cut of “after” the 483 “years”. In this interpretation he has the 483 years ending in 27 AD at the start of Yeshua’s ministry. (This date for the start of Yeshua’s ministry I happen to agree with by the way.) Could you clarify exactly which interpretation you and Dr. Reagan currently hold?

Here is the root of my concern. Daniel 9:24 clearly states the 6 goals are fulfilled – during - the 70 week period. If the Messiah was “cut off” “after” the 62+7 weeks (as the texts clearly states) then any of 6 goals which Yeshua fulfilled had to have been fulfilled during the 70th week.

Dr. Reagan stated none of the 6 goals have been fulfilled. You stated the #3 has been fulfilled by “Jesus’ death on the cross”. I hope this better explains my perceived disagreement.

Warm Regards,
William Struse

Nathan Jones said...

Whoops, William, thanks for catching the typo. Jesus was cut off at 483 years, but His Second Coming will be at the end of the 490 years, with the Church Age gap in-between.

For a detailed answer to the starting point of the 70 weeks of years - "the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (Daniel 9:25), check out Dr. Reagan's article.

William Struse said...

Good evening Nathan,

Sorry for the delayed response. No problem on the typo. I’ve made more than my fair share.

Thank you for the link to Dr. Reagan’s article. That was the article I mentioned in my post above. I know you are not going to answer my question at this time so I will let it go, for now. :)

I’ve said it before but it is worth repeating here. I have nothing but respect for Dr. Reagan and you but someday these questions will have to be answered with a reasonable rendering of the Scriptural evidence. I will leave you with just a few thoughts concerning Dr. Reagan’s article for future consideration.

1. The “starting point” of the 70 weeks begins with a specific command “to restore and to build Jerusalem”. Ezra 7 at no point gives a date for decree given by “Artaxerxes” to Ezra. The date of Ezra’s journey is not the date of the decree.

2. In order to claim the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra 7 is the Persian king Longimanus a reasonable basis in the Scriptural record must be provided. No chronologist (that I am aware of) since the time of Ussher has been able to do so.

3. By placing the death and resurrection of Jesus outside the 70 weeks we rob this great Messianic prophecy of its glory. The angle of Rev. 19:10 said it best: “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Warm Regards,
William Struse