Daniel Matson (26 Nov 2011)
"The 70 Weeks – What starts the 70th?"


 

The 70 Weeks – What starts the 70th?

 

Daniel Matson – November 23, 2011

 

This is part two of the 70th Week article first posted November 8, 2011 -- Daniel’s 70 Weeks - Rightly Dividing. This article explores an option concerning the 70th Week that does not fall into the two traditional camps of Futurism and Preterism.

This solution may be one of the reasons why both sides can never reconcile an interpretation on this passage.

 
 
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Daniel 9:27 KJV

And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
Daniel 9:27 NASB

The next event on the horizon in the 70 Weeks prophecy is the confirmation of a covenant with the many, which is Israel. Those who  believe that the 70th Week has been fulfilled, have long held that the “he” of Daniel 9:27 was Christ himself. They believe his public ministry of three and a half years fulfilled the first half of the week with his crucifixion ceasing the daily sacrifices. Though the time element may fit three and a half years, but as we have seen, the chronological sequence does not. The 69th Week must conclude just before Christ is “cut off” and not at the start of His public ministry.

To counter this view, Futurists have held that the “he” of Daniel 9:27 is the Antichrist.  Since the Antichrist has not come, it keeps the 70th Week in the future. This is the opposite of the Preterist view.  However, the chronology alone should keep this passage future. So if the “he” were Christ, then it still refers to the future. Whoever the “he” is, it should not impact the chronological sequence of Messiah first being crucified, then the destruction of Jerusalem, and then later the 70th Week can begin.

Most who have held to the futuristic view of this verse believe that the “he” is the future prince of the people (Romans) who destroyed the Temple. The use of “prince” in verse 26 is the nearest antecedent. Therefore, it is commonly held that the Antichrist makes or enforces a treaty for seven years with the Jews. It is then deducted that this treaty probably allows for the Jews to rebuild their Temple. The Antichrist then halts the Temple sacrifices mid-week and sets up the Abomination of Desolation to demand worship of himself as god. At the conclusion, Jesus rescues Israel and believers from the Antichrist.

However, what about the other option? It is possible that the “he” refers back to the main subject in verse 26, which is the Messiah himself. The nearest antecedent rule has its exceptions, if the context warrants it. However, by making Christ the “he” in Daniel 9:27, Christ would then be the confirmer of the covenant that continues seven years.  In light of Ezekiel 39:7-10, it would indeed seem to make more sense that Christ is the confirmer of the covenant with His people to restart the 70 weeks, as He saves Israel from this invasion found in Ezekiel.  Therefore, the burning of the weapons for seven years would be the parallel to the time of the 70th Week.

However, there is a problem with this view because then Christ would be the same “he” that stops the sacrifices in the middle of the seven years. Unless this shows His sovereign control, it is otherwise apparent that the Antichrist is the one who ceases the sacrifices and sets up the Abomination (Daniel 8:11, 12:11, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14) . However, the “one who causes desolation” is a separate subject than the “he” in the same verse. Some versions such as the NKJV and NASB show this distinction. In any regard there are multiple issues to any of the solutions. The thing to consider is that the original Hebrew does not contain the “he”. These are supplied in the English translations. It is interesting that the Septuagint Interlinear rendering does not show an attachment with a personality.  Here is its translation:

And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation. 
–Daniel 9:27  LXX Interlinear Translation,  Samuel Bagster and Sons, London, 1792

Therefore, with this translation, one is to look for the confirmation of Israel’s covenant for seven years and then the sacrifices are halted in what has to be a rebuilt temple in the middle of the seven years. Then it all comes to an end at the end of the seven years. There is then no attempt to identify any personality that may not be warranted in the first place. If we then let it mean only what it says, it then stands that other related biblical passages will shed light and provide the necessary understanding of this verse. The big issue is that the view the Antichrist enforces some covenant with Israel for seven years may simply have evaporated with this understanding.  Without that as an eschatological foundation, there are obvious ramifications, but it seems to solve many complications and problems.

It has always seemed strange that the 70th Week supposedly begins with the Antichrist confirming some covenant with Israel that has already been in place.  Why would he set up a covenant for seven years? But more importantly, why would Israel make a deal with the Antichrist at the relative same time as their awakening moment when God delivers them from the invading armies found in Ezekiel? Of course, that is if Ezekiel’s War commences the seven years. But it would seem to be so. It would also seem problematic to have the Antichrist confirming or strengthening God’s covenant with His people and how would that even be possible?

What it then comes down to is laying out the order of end time events in the Scriptural and logical sequence to ensure that it all fits together. At first there will be a summary of what the flow of events may be with this understanding, which then will be followed by the Scriptural references that seem to back it. Of course, new views must be handled with caution, but here we go.


The first event would be the Rapture/removal of the Church to end this parenthetical age. The second item that quickly happens is that the Islamic Confederacy found in Ezekiel and Psalm 83 sees the disappearance of the friends of Israel (Church) as an opportunity to destroy Israel. This then backfires as God delivers Israel and thereby wakes them up to realize why they had been scattered among the nations during the fullness of the Gentiles. This moment of deliverance is the confirmation or strengthening of God’s Covenant with Israel (the many) with seven more years until Messiah returns to establish the Kingdom. Israel then cleanses her land from the dead armies and then rebuilds the Temple, since the great earthquake of the invasion leveled all buildings. The world at this time will be in chaos after the Rapture and the removal of what was left of the former world powers (Russia, USA). Out of these ashes will arise the Ten Toes of Daniel, which are ten kingdoms from the former region of the Roman Empire. As depicted consistently by Daniel’s statue, five kings should be from the east and five kings from the west as fitting to the manner in which the empire was divided. It is not until after the establishment of the ten kings that the Antichrist can then come to power. The Antichrist then comes to full power in the middle of the seven years with his taking of Israel and his indwelling by Satan himself. In three and a half years, the Antichrist comes to his end with Jesus the Messiah’s return with his armies. Jesus then fulfills the 70 weeks prophecy and his kingdom then continues for 1,000 years.



The first event then has to be the Rapture of the Church. We are not destined for God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9) and it is a trial for those who will remain on the earth (Revelation 3:10). Jesus is coming again to take us into the “rooms” for our safety as the wrath then comes (John 14:1-3, Psalm 27:5, Isaiah 26:19-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).  The Rapture then completes the fullness of the Gentiles and then God will then once again work with Israel (Acts 15:13-18, Acts 28:25-29, Isaiah 6:9-12, Romans 11:25). Understanding the proper relationship of the Church to Israel is critical. The Church has been inserted between the 69th and 70th Weeks of Daniel. The Acts 15 passage makes it abundantly clear that this is indeed so:


And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.’”
 
Acts 15:13-17

With the Church then departed and protected in “her rooms”, the judgment then comes. It is then this period of a gap between the Rapture and the 70th Week that is crucial, but often difficult to understand. Most people believe the gap of time is non-existent since they erroneously believe the Rapture starts the Goth Week. Those who know the difference between the Rapture and the confirmation of a covenant, believe the gap is a relatively short time, but some, such as Arnold Fruchtenbaum, put the gap at three and a half years minimum. His theory is that the burning of the weapons for seven years needs to  be completed by the mid-point of the 70th Week since Israel flees to the wilderness at that time. The other benefit of holding to Fruchtenbaum’s view is that it gives proper time for the events to develop. However, as suggested in the summary of events, with the Antichrist not being the one who initiates the 70th Week, there will be ample political time for him to rise politically. After the Rapture, the issue is what exactly  is, and when is, the invasion into Israel.

This invasion into Israel after the Rapture is one of opportunity. As is easily demonstrated, the Islamic world has unsuccessfully tried but continues to plot the destruction of Israel. The amount of weaponry now stockpiled is staggering. All is left is for Iran to get “the bomb”. In Ezekiel’s War, the key to the timing is that this war comes after Israel has become a nation again and is dwelling confidently in the Land (Ezekiel 38:14). This is all true today (some say the word for “confidently’ means “peace”, but at what level of peace is enough? Until the surrounding Islamic armies are destroyed, it will remain the status quo.) We also know from Ezekiel that the ending of this war shows that God is once again working with Israel (Ezekiel 39:22) . In Micah 7, an invasion from the north is described as coming after the summer harvest and after the righteous have departed the land (Rapture). Micah then continues that now is Israel’s time of perplexity. Likewise, in Psalm 83, the invaders are said to have plotted against Israel and the “hidden ones”. Based on Psalm 27:5, Isaiah 26:19-21, Zephaniah 2:3, and John 14:1-3, “the hidden ones” are those who are protected by what is now known as the Rapture of the Church.


For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:5

Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.
Isaiah 26:19-21

Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD's anger.
Zephaniah 2:3

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee.
Psalm 83:1-5


Therefore, Psalm 83 and the Ezekiel War are at the same time due to the fact that they occur at this transitional time from the Church after it has departed and back to Israel being proved as God’s people and land. They are thus the same war even though the list of invaders in each passage is different. Psalm 83 describes those people close to Israel where Ezekiel mentions those at a distance (and Ezekiel even says his list is partial. Ezekiel 38:9).

Now there are those who see two separate wars, such as a Psalm 83 war prior to the war found in Ezekiel. However, as we have seen, the Psalm 83 war occurs after the removal of the “hidden ones” or known as the Rapture. Ezekiel’s War is also at the time Israel is renewed. The problem with creating separate wars here is that Ezekiel speaks that the war was foretold by other prophets (Ezekiel 38:17), and therefore, similar pieces found in the Old Testament must go together, otherwise Ezekiel is left in contradiction.  The passages that do fit, concern a war to rid the Middle East of Israel after they have been gathered in unbelief and just before God reveals himself (Ezekiel 38:16) through his deliverance of Israel, which is at the start of the 70th Week. We know that God saving Israel in Ezekiel is the first momentous occasion of God delivering Israel after their return to the land, but for Psalm 83 to be separate and prior to this war would mean that another deliverance would have to occur which would violate the significance of Ezekiel’s War. It must then be one war that they all lie in wait for the right moment to finish the job once the departure of the Church and friend of Israel has occurred.

Therefore, we have the Rapture, then the invasion, and the ending of the invasion by God to confirm His covenant with Israel. The confirmation of a covenant cannot also be with the Antichrist since the ten kingdoms can only be established after the Islamic Invasion, since their territories overlap. With a likely two month gap between a Feast of Trumpets Rapture and a 70th Week start day (2,520 days ahead of the Day of Atonement Second Coming) it will be hard pressed to fulfill all of these things within two months. It is more likely enough time to start and settle the war of Ezekiel.

As one analyzes the idea that the Antichrist starts the 70th Week, its only basis is found in the understanding of Daniel 9:27 that the “he” is the Antichrist. When one considers Paul’s scenario in 2 Thessalonians 2, the moment of confirmation of the Antichrist is him declaring himself to be God in the Temple–the Abomination of Desolation. This is the same message of Christ in the Olivet Discourse. The key event is the Antichrist in the middle of the 70th Week, with no seeming appropriate mention of a covenant with the Antichrist to start the seven years, but one would think it should be there, if that were the case. It is probably because that is what does not happen. What  happens is that Israel is delivered from the invasion and then begins her purpose again among the nations. The Antichrist then comes later and becomes known in the middle of the seven years through the Abomination of Desolation.  And this would be why Paul and Jesus stress the mid-point and not a beginning that has been commonly misunderstood. If Israel was to be deceived by the Antichrist from the beginning, would it not stand that there would be some level of concern found in other Scriptures? But they are not found.

This then changes the dynamic in yet another way that is consistent with Israel. At the start of the seven years, Israel is handed a victory by God, and the nation recognizes that reality. Instead of switching gears immediately to follow the Antichrist, the nation cleanses the land after the destruction and rebuilds her Temple under noble aspirations. Israel at this time has many that become saved and later the Antichrist forces his way into the Temple halfway through the 70th Week, just like Antiochus Epiphanes did as foreshadowed in Daniel 11. This means that the Antichrist’s power over Israel does not have to be in full swing until the middle of the Week. Many Jews then will not be deluded and many will heed Jesus’ warning to flee to the wilderness. Therefore, the dynamic is of Israel being targeted by the Antichrist, not one of Israel being complicit with him. This seems to be a more consistent view of the Tribulation. But like the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, there will by those who once conquered, will betray their people to save themselves.

If this view is correct, then the first half of the 70th Week is one of power restructuring. After the end of Ezekiel’s War, it will then give the needed time for the peoples of the former Roman Empire to regroup and establish the terrible Beast Empire, as seen by Daniel (Daniel 7:7-8). This Empire will rule the world before the Antichrist takes the reigns. Even for this to happen within three and a half years is quick for such a global shift after war and the inevitable economic meltdown. Though anything might be possible, it seems extreme to try and fit all of this into two months.

Of course, this view will receive criticism and maybe there is some aspect that was overlooked or could even be defended better. But it seems clear that while the Futurists have the chronology correct, the Preterists may be correct in understanding  that the covenant with many must refer back to the Abrahamic Land Covenant. As it stands, the two views are both incorrect with the Preterist position doing the most damage to the chronology of the 70th Week. But any view that does not measure up poses difficulties. The Preterist must butcher the chronology and flow to wedge it into the past and thereby the view fails altogether, as it must alter the literalness of the text into some allegory. The futurist gets the chronology mostly correct, but reducing the “covenant with many” to being with the Antichrist also alters the chronology prematurely in the flow of end time events. The Antichrist gains his power with the aid of Satan in the middle of the 70th Week. His terrible reign covers the last half of the 70th Week and is known as the Great Tribulation. This is why all the warnings by Jesus and the Prophets point to the Abomination that causes Desolation, because it is the start point concerning the Antichrist.

The start of the 70th Week is then better defended as starting with God strengthening His covenant with Israel after the removal of the grafted in vine of the Gentiles, known as the Church. The act of God delivering Israel from the surrounding nations would be such a strengthening. Thus the seven year clock begins with disaster coming in the middle of those seven years. But when that time runs out, God’s plan of salvation will become realized as the Messiah returns to rule the nations and restore the earth.