The Seventy Weeks of Daniel - Part 11
By Thomas Ice
My previous installment concluded the textual examination of Daniel 9:24-27. However, there are still other issues to deal with in relation to the passage and the postponement of the seventieth week from the first sixty-nine. These final articles will deal will a few concluding issues.
Critics of a Time Gap
Those who do not think that the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 have a literal and chronologically precise fulfillment are opposed to the postponement of the seventieth week as a yet future time of seven years. Examples of such criticism can be found by those within the Reconstructionist movement, holding to a form of preterist postmillennialism. Gary DeMar complains:
Placing a gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 "must be fixed" because of the system created by dispensationalists, not because the Bible mentions anything about a gap. . . . dispensationalists force the Bible to comply to an already developed system that insists that these events cannot be describing first-century events.
Fellow preterist, Dr. Ken Gentry echoes DeMar's refrain in the following:
An overriding concern of the prophecy, in distinction to all other Messianic prophecies is that it is specifically designed to be a measuring time-frame. . . . If there were gaps between the units, the whole idea of measurement in the "seventy weeks" would vanish. An elastic yardstick is a worthless measure. None of the other prophecies brought forward as illustrations of a gap claim to be a measure of time.
Dr. Gentry is right about one thing, that the Daniel 9 passage is the only Messianic prophecy that specifically deals with chronology or the time element. While I believe that I have shown that the passage itself requires a chronological postponement between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of years, it is also supported by other Messianic passages which are not specifically time oriented, but clearly do refer to distinct time-periods: Christ's first coming and his second coming.
If anyone believes in the two comings of Christ, and both DeMar and Gentry do, then they also believe in a gap of time between the first and second coming of Christ. I want to show how this fits into a clear biblical pattern that in turn lends support to the notion of a gap of time in Daniel 9:24-27.
The Two Phases of Christ's Career
It is obvious from the Bible that if you view the ministry or career of Christ in its entirety, then it is composed of two parts or phases. The first phase encompasses the first coming of Jesus two thousand years ago, while the second phase will consist of His second coming some time in the future. Yet many Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah commingled their descriptions of both phases of Christ into a single passage, without distinguishing between the two comings or phases of His earthly career.
It is commonly understood today that the Jews of the first century did not understand that these Old Testament prophecies spoke of a single Messiah who would come twice-once in humiliation, then again in glorious exaltation. We have learned that many Jews of Christ's day thought that there would be two different Messiahs-Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David. Messiah ben Joseph would be one who suffers and dies, but is immediately followed by Messiah ben David, who reigns in glory. The reality of Scripture is that there is but one Messiah-Jesus of Nazareth-who comes twice. This means that there is a gap of time between the two comings.
Even though preterists like DeMar and Gentry belittle a gap of time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of Daniel 9:24-27, they are driven to believe in a gap of time between the two comings. DeMar and Gentry even believe in a gap, so far, of almost 2,000 years. Yet this time-gap is not explicitly stated in Scripture. So how can DeMar and Gentry hold to something like a gap of time that not explicitly stated in Scripture? Because the only possible implication that can be deduced from the facts of Christ's two comings is that there is a time-gap between the two events. In like manner, such a time-gap must also follow from the fact that Christ has a career that is two-phased.
Why is this important to our study of the seventy weeks of Daniel? It is important, because as Gentry noted above, "An overriding concern of the prophecy, in distinction to all other Messianic prophecies is that it is specifically designed to be a measuring time-frame." True, so true, Dr. Gentry. Yet, you believe in a gap of time between the two comings of Christ, even though it is not specifically stated in the Bible. In the same way, I would argue that all other Messianic passages that speak of the two aspects or phases of the career of Messiah also must imply that they are fulfilled at the two comings of Christ, . . . with a gap of time in between. This means that there are many similar passages that speak in a single statement of items that encompass both phases of Christ's career-the first and second advents. However, as Dr. Gentry has noted, only the Daniel 9:24-27 passage deals specifically with measuring time. This explains why the Daniel passage is the only Messianic text that deals specifically with a time frame. However, a significant number of other Messianic passages have something in common with the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. They all speak of components of Christ's career that will take place in the two phases of His two advents. Only the Daniel text speaks of time factors.
Two-Phased Messianic Passages
This means that it is legitimate to argue for a gap of time from the other Messianic passages that also include, in a single passage, the two elements of Christ's career. Dr. Randall Price makes note of the way Scripture uses time gaps and provides a list of passages that fit into this category in the following statement:
The revelation of a prophetic postponement in the fulfillment of the eschatological aspect of the messianic program is in harmony with numerous passages in the Old Testament that reveal the two advents of Christ (e.g. Gen. 49:10-12; Deut. 18:16; 2 Sam. 7:13-16; Isa. 9:1-7; 11:1-2, 11; 52:13-59:21; 61:1-11, cf. Luke 4:16-19; 7:22; Joel 2:28, cf. Acts 2:17; Zeph. 2:13-3:20; Zech. 9:9-10; Mic. 5:2-15; Ps. 2:7-8, cf. Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Ps. 22:1-32; 34:14, 16; Mal. 3:1-3; 4:5-6; 53:10-11).
Perhaps the most well-known example of the kind of prophecy about which I speak is found in Christ's reading of Isaiah 61:1-2 as recorded in Luke 4:16-30. The passage reads as follows:
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; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,
Tim LaHaye and I have a chart diagramming this passage in our new book called Charting the End Times. We say concerning this passage:
Now when Jesus read the prophecies about Himself in Isaiah 61, why did He stop at the beginning of verse 2? Because He was announcing the reasons for His first coming and because He was to "proclaim the acceptable year of Jehovah's favor" (kjv). That's a reference to the church age, often called the age of grace, a time when sinners can freely call on the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13). Jesus stopped at the words, "and the day of vengeance of our God," which speaks of the Tribulation period, mentioned by the Hebrew prophets as "the day of wrath" and "the time of Jacob's trouble," and by Jeremiah as "a day of vengeance" (46:10). That's because the purpose of His first coming was to announce the period of grace and salvation we are living in, not the time of judgment that is yet to come.
Another example of what some have called "double reference" is found in Zechariah 9:9-10. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says concerning double reference:
This rule should not be confused with another rule often called Double Fulfillment. This author does not accept the validity of the principle of double fulfillment. This law states that one passage may have a near and a far view; hence, in a way, it may be fulfilled twice. . . . This author, however, does not believe that there is such a thing as double fulfillment. A single passage can refer to one thing only, and if it is prophecy, it can have only one fulfillment unless the text itself states that it can have many fulfillments. The law of double reference differs from the law of double fulfillment in that the former states that while two events are blended into one picture, one part of the passage refers to one event and the other part of the passage to the second event. This is the case in Zechariah 9;9-10.
In the same context we see that verse nine refers to Christ's first coming:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Verse ten is a reference only to Christ's second coming as follows:
And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
In the Zechariah passage, there has to be a gap of time between the fulfillment of the verse nine that relates to Messiah's first coming two thousand years ago, and His second advent, which is still a yet future event. Even though no time factor is explicitly stated in the text, because of the specific nature of the events described in the two verses, a gap of time is required to coordinate the fulfillment of this prophecy with the events of history.
The point that I am making in this article, relating to the seventy weeks of Daniel prophecy, is that it is not unreasonable to find implied time gaps in a significant number of Messianic passages in the Old Testament. I am not saying that this proves that there is in fact a gap in Daniel 9:24-27, I believe that I have demonstrated that in the earlier installments in this series. I think that this article demonstrates that it is not unreasonable to expect a Messianic passage that requires a time-gap between the fulfillment of all events prophesied in that passage. This supports our literal interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27. Maranatha!