Seventy weeks of Daniel
(Daniel 9:20-27)

The interpretation of this prophecy has as its primary focus events associated with the First Advent of Christ and shortly thereafter. We reject the idea that the prophecy has to do with Antiochus IV, or the idea that it is associated with both the first and second advents of Christ with an instated time interval between the two (as espoused by Dispensationalists, who interject the New Testament church between the 69th and the 70th week).

Practically all students of the Bible understand the 70 weeks as representing 490 years. These so-called seventy weeks of years are then divided into three sub-units of 49 years (v.25); 434 years (62 weeks, v.26) and 7 years (1 week, v.27). These together are to be viewed as a continuous sequence with no (assumed) intervals between them.

The weeks start from the issuing of the command to have Jerusalem restored and rebuilt (v.25). This refers to the decree issued by Artaxerxes I in the first year of his reign, or 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:12-26). Forty-nine years later (408 B.C.) the streets and wall around Jerusalem had been completed (v.25).

Messiah the Prince refers obviously to Jesus Christ, though some have concluded that it refers to a future Antichrist. Linking the 49 years and the 434 years as a continuous sequence yields 483 years, to run from 457 A.D. to A.D. 27, or approximately the beginning of Christ's three-year public ministry.

The cutting off of the Messiah is to be understood as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The confirmation of the covenant refers to the fact that Christ, by his life, death and resurrection, confirmed God's covenant and inaugurated it in its final and lasting form.

Identifying the prince as Antichrist who will establish a covenant with Jewish people re-gathered in the land of Israel during a "tribulation period" (12:1; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14 are Scriptures misused to support this theory) is both speculatory and without basis, since the Antichrist - the Roman papacy - has already appeared (2 Thessalonians 2).

The Messiah is said to make an end of sacrifice, which refers to the termination of the Old Testament sacrificial system brought to an end by the death of Christ. The prophecy says absolutely nothing about a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and sacrifices offered there which Antichrist supposedly brings to a halt. This idea is pure eisegesis.

"One who makes desolate" describes the destruction the Jewish nation as a covenant nation of God (though a remnant remained, cf. Romans 11:1ff.).

Daniel 9 is certainly no easy prophecy; we are to be cautious and humble in its interpretation. But what is plain can be enjoyed and our faith can feed upon it. The passage refers to Jesus Christ, and it shows very clearly the continuity of the Scriptures and of the glorious and everlasting covenant.