Dominoes Falling (5)

Dispensationalism Goes Down

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 5: How Are We to Understand the Book of Revelation?

Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Does Daniel’s Seventieth Week Relate to the Book of Revelation?’

The 70th Week in Context

24Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.25Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26And 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. 27And he shall confirm a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator” (Daniel 9:24-27).

Introduction

Dispensationalists like Rhodes assign the 70th week, that is a 7 year period that is prophesied in the book of Daniel, to a time in Israel’s’ future that they interpret will occur only after the Church has left the earth. They, therefore, place the 70th week within the multiple chapters of Revelation that they have likewise allocated to such a period.

In my previous post, Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1, I contend that Futurists have wrongly aligned Revelation to a future beyond the Church age, when, in fact, it has everything to do with the Church. Now, in this post I will show that though the 70th week was a prophecy specifically given to Israel concerning a 7 year period in their future, it was realized when Jesus, their Messiah, died, rose and ascended in the middle of the week.

By the end of the article it will be clear that Daniel’s 70th week is about the simultaneous end of God’s Covenant with His people and the inauguration of a New Covenant with them in Christ, bringing about the Church age. Consequently, it will be clear that like Revelation, it too has nothing to do with some distant future for Israel that Futurists will have you believe.

The Intention of the 70 Weeks

Firstly, the 70th week forms part of a prophecy about 70 weeks and the intention of the entire 70 weeks is stated up front in verse 24. Consequently, because the 70th week is part of the 70 weeks, its purpose is included too. Consider:

“70 weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”

  • “70 weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city”

It’s about Daniel’s people, the Jews and Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem.

  • “to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin and to atone for iniquity”

Jesus finished the transgression by taking all mankind’s sin – ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross’ (1 Pet 2:24). In so doing Jesus satisfied the Law’s requirement for their transgression by baring their sins and iniquities. When dying Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). ‘He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2).

  • “to bring in everlasting righteousness”

Consider ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor 5:21) and ‘For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’ (Heb 8:12).

  • “to seal both vision and prophet”

to completely satisfy what was prophesied through Daniel’s vision.

  • “and to anoint a most holy place”

The anointing of the Spirit is within believers, God’s new Holy Place. Consider, ‘But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and … his anointing teaches you about everything’ (1 John 2:27).

It’s obvious that the purpose of the 70 weeks was entirely satisfied through Jesus Christ’s ministry through the cross on behalf of His people. Therefore, the 70th week, which is part of the 70 weeks, has to do with His ministry.

The Structure of the 70 Weeks

The 70 weeks are divided into 3 series of weeks as follows: 7 weeks followed by 62 weeks followed by 1 week.

A judgment principle of a year for every day as in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:4-6 was used. In this way 70 weeks = 70 x 7days = 490 years.

Each series of weeks has particular related activities:

  • 7 weeks = 7 x 7 = 49 years: “From the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks.”
  • 62 weeks = 62 x 7 = 434 years: “Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.”
  • 1 week = 1 x 7 = 7 years: “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. And he shall confirm a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

The plain understanding has a single unit of 70 weeks divided into 3 parts. Consider:

7 weeks (49 years) – refers to a period of 49 years between getting a word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to an anointed one (no doubt to allow or lead them in that endeavor).

62 weeks (434 years) – refers to a 434 year period of being established as a city, yet “in a troubled time”.

7 weeks (7 years) – refers to a 7 year period “after the sixty-two weeks”

  • in which “an anointed one” is “cut off”,
  • over which He confirms “a strong covenant”
  • and in the middle of which He and puts “an end to sacrifice and offering.”

Inserting any time within the 70 weeks makes the plain understanding of 70 weeks redundant (unless of course the text speaks of such an insertion, which it plainly doesn’t). But, that’s precisely what Dispensationalists would have you believe. They maintain that after the 69th week God suspended completing the 70 week program concerning Israel, delaying the 70th week. However, the text clearly states that “after the sixty-two weeks (which is the 69th week), an anointed one shall be cut off”. Clearly, “after” the 69th week is the 70th week.

The delay, Dispensationalists say, is an interlude in God’s working with Israel, now being filled with almost two thousand years of Church history. However, there is clearly no interval mentioned anywhere in the text concerning the 70 weeks. It’s therefore especially ludicrous to believe that the decreed 490 year period has an inserted 2000 year period.

They believe that God has suspended His governing of Israel as a nation because of their national rejection of Christ. While this is true, it is not according to their construct of the 70 weeks. Furthermore, they maintain that this suspension is temporary and that God will once again restore His direct governance of Israel. This is where the views depart once again, because the 70 weeks makes no mention of this.

From Nation to Spiritual Nation

Instead, the 70 weeks leads to a New Covenant for Daniel’s people (and whosoever believes) that is no longer is about God’s governance of a natural nation in their land, but concerns God the governing of a spiritual nation regardless of where they are. Jesus, who confirmed the covenant, said, “…the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24).

This bizarre insertion of a so-called separate Church age not only makes a mockery of interpreting the intention and structure of the 70 weeks, it’s clearly a slap in the face of the Messiah’s purpose for His people. Furthermore, it discards the fact that a huge remnant of Israel believed at the time of the apostles and that many have continued to come to faith ever since. (For more see The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel).

The 70th Week

26 “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.”

  • “after the 62 weeks” implies it’s in the 70th week.
  • “anointed one” – Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) means anointed one.
  • “cut off” – Consider this prophecy concerning Jesus: ‘For he was cut off out of the land of the living’ (Isaiah 53:8).
  • “shall have nothing” – He was rejected, even stripped of his clothes.

27And he shall confirm a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.

  • “he shall confirm a strong covenant” – Jesus “is the mediator of a better covenant” (Heb 8:6).
  • “for one week” –
  • “for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering” – 31/2 years into His ministry Jesus ‘entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption’ (Heb 9:12) and putting an end to the need for sacrifice and offering.

Dispensationalists believe that the making of ‘a strong covenant’ and the putting of ‘an end to sacrifice and offering’ in Daniel 9:27 refers to a future Antichrist instead of to Christ. However, didn’t the Messiah institute a ‘better covenant’ and end the need for sacrifice and offering by dying ‘once for all’? Sadly, their interpretation of the 70 week period has no mention of the Messiah’s work on the cross. Surely, the single most significant event in Israel’s history would have been included in the 70 weeks!

From Old to New

In the final week of the 70 weeks God, through the Messiah, ends the Old Covenant and at the same time establishes a ‘better covenant with better promises.’ However, many rejected Him and, as a result, Israel for the most part missed receiving the kingdom of God. This was preempted by Jesus when He said to those who were rejecting Him, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

Israel as a nation failed to produce fruit, rejected their Messiah and were cut off, however, it is not as though they were forsaken. A remnant of Jewish believers repented and became part of His new people, His Church that produces fruit. Also, any who had been cut off could be grafted in again if they repented. Only now it wasn’t to the old physical promises that relate to this world, but to better spiritual promises and promises of a New Heaven and New Earth.

There was only ever a remnant of faith in Israel. As Paul says, not all Israel is Israel. And, even the wholesale national rejection of their Messiah did not stop God’s purposes, for a remnant of Israel has continued to believe and the promises and covenants remain available to those who might still repent.

God’s working with Israel was not suspended temporarily after 69 weeks for their rejection of the Messiah as Dispensationalists contend. Instead, they have been invited into the New Covenant that was instituted by their Messiah in the 70th week. The fact that only a remnant have believed is as it’s always been. As Paul explained, a ‘partial hardening has come upon Israel’.

Desolation Beyond the 70 weeks

The description of the 70th week completes the full description of an uninterrupted 490 year period over 3 phases. Throughout the text there is no indication of any time period to be inserted within the 70 weeks (490 years) so as to delay any part of it. However, while that deals with Futurist claims for an interlude, there is an interchange of text in the final 3 verses describing the 70th week that includes information of desolation beyond the 70th week.

A description of the Messiah being cut off in the final 70th week and of the covenant He will make is described in interchange with a final desolation of the Temple. No doubt this is because the outcome of Messiah’s cutting off and strong covenant had a direct effect on the necessity of the Temple.

This, however, is not the same as inserting a time period within the actual 70 weeks, but is simply a reference to a time period outside of the 70 weeks that is being referred to because of its connection to the 70 weeks.

Here’s The Interchange:

A: And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.

B: 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.

A: And he shall confirm a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.

B: And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator”

The outcome of the 70 weeks is that Christ ended the Old Covenant and instituted the New. In relation to that the Temple’s desolation was to occur, however, this would be outside of the completed and uninterrupted 70 weeks (490 years). In the middle of the final 70th week Jesus predicted it too, warning His disciples and citing Daniel saying, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination of desolation,’ described by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains (Matt 24:15-16).

Futurist’s Squeeze and Sever

Rather than seeing the Church as God’s intended extension and outcome of Israel’s promises, Dispensationalists keep Israel and the Church distinct. This, along with a completely different understanding of the characters and happenings in the 70th week, requires Dispensationalists to squeeze 2000 years of Church history between the 69th and 70th weeks.

As I have outlined previously, Dispensationalists do the same when it comes to the description of the fourth beast. Between the beast and its horns they maintain that there is a great separation of time. Yet, by doing this they completely sever the intended unity of what is pictured and the immediacy of the timing that was meant. (See The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?).

The severing off of the 70th week from the 70 weeks, and of the horns from the beast, along with the squeezing in of the Church age, so as to maintain a future outcome for Israel, is extreme eisegesis, laughable and sad. Especially sad is that Bible seminaries and colleges have doctors in theology who actually teach this. Let alone the million dollar industry of selling books on this subject!

This idea of a delayed period of 1 week is further fueled by misunderstandings and manipulations of other texts. For example, futurists have a false understanding of Romans 11, presuming that the text implies that the Jews have a future after the time of the Gentiles. For more on that you can read Jewish Salvation.

In Conclusion

By disconnecting the 70th week from the first 69 weeks, Dispensationalists throw any reasonable interpretation of the intention and structure of the 70 weeks under the bus. This is clearly a big delusion and a sham of an interpretation, because the plain understanding is that the three series of weeks follow immediately after one another. Any idea that the decreed 70 weeks is disconnected at any point is simply abusive interpretation of the intended unity of the 70 weeks.

As for Revelation, it has to do with the Church’s existence in the knowledge of Jesus Christ at her side as she faces various troubles in this world. Daniel’s 70th week, on the other hand, has to do with the Old Covenant being satisfied and the Church’s beginnings through Israel’s Messiah, Jesus, in a New Covenant. So, Revelation and the 70th week are not directly related to each other.

More importantly, in the light of this debate, Revelation and the 70th week have nothing to do with Israel’s future as a nation governed by God. Sadly, Futurists miss the intention of the 70 weeks for the Jewish people, and, in so doing, fail to see that the Messiah’s Church is Israel’s destiny.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
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