Daniel’s 70th week prophecy (Daniel Chapter 9) reads as such:
26 And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: and the people that shall deny him shall not be his. And a people with their leader that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week: and in the half of the week the victim and the sacrifice shall fall: and there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation: and the desolation shall continue even to the consummation, and to the end.
This passage is explicitly referred to by Jesus in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24:15). Yet, many believed that this passage had already been fulfilled in 167 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes placed a bust of Zeus Olympius in the Jerusalem temple. Daniel 12:11 calls it by the same Greek term that Jesus uses, rendered “Desolating abomination”. This is why it is so crucial to rely on the Old Testament based on the LXX to identify the best translation of the passage.
This passage was believed to have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes as recorded in 1 Maccabees 1:57:
57 On the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred and forty-fifth year, king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Juda round about:
Yet, Jesus is pointing to it as a future (from His vantage point) event. and the interpretive case can be clearly made in two different ways.
In the first way, verses 26 and 27 are both describing the same flow of actions, with different points of emphasis.
26 And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain:
(First action, fulfilled in April of 33 AD )
and the people that shall deny him shall not be his.
(Jews are no longer the chosen people of God, from the moment Jesus died, the veil in the temple was rent and the Old Covenant ended)
And a people with their leader that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation.
(War, resulting in the final culmination of the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. The people= The Romans, the leader= Titus)
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week:
(Here, HE refers back to Christ as the over arching subject of the discourse and the Covenant refers-of course- to the New Covenant)
and in the half of the week the victim and the sacrifice shall fall:
(Jesus- the victim and the Sacrifice fall. That is, after 3 1/2 years of ministry)
and there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation: and the desolation shall continue even to the consummation, and to the end.
(The abominations begin with Caligula [37 AD] and continue right up to the end. In this context, “The end” refers to the end of Jerusalem in 70 AD. )
In the second method of interpretation, we see things in a more futuist view. This view speculates a stopping of the prophetic stopwatch (Their terminology, not mine). This occurs right in the middle of verse 26, after ”the people who deny Him shall not be His”, and begining with ” and the people with a leader shall come”. “The people”= Gog and Magog, “The leader”= Antichrist.
In their interpretation, the people who shall not be His are His and the 70th week is actually like the 280th+ week because it occurs no earlier than our imminent future. This interpretation makes Daniel a liar. Worse, it makes Jesus a liar as well.
Matthew 24: 34 Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
This is why understanding context is so very important. Context allows us to understand the structure of the Olivet discourse of Matthew Chapter 24.
The chapter is divided up this way.
V1-2 Jesus fortells the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
V3- Disciples ask 3 questions; A) When will the temple be destroyed? B) What is the sign of His returning? C) When is the end of the world?
V4-36 First question is answered.
V37-50 Second Question answered.
V51 Third Question answered.
When you understand this context, you don’t fall in the (understandable) trap of reading verses 4-36 as End times verses. These verses are very easy to interpret if you remove the context of verses 1-3. Yet, it is impossible to escape the fact that the disciples start their questions relating to the fate of those particular temple buildings that they and Jesus were actually looking at- and not a future temple.
The obvious objection to this is the supernatural signs as related in verses 29-31. Yet, when you read the words of the Prophet Josephus, you realize that these were also fulfilled. In fact, this is one of the downfalls of “The Bible alone” approach to prophecy. In the 3rd verse of the 5th Chapter of his work Antiquities, Josephus proves- beyond a doubt- that Matthew Chapter 24:4-36 was fulfilled in the first century. He does so in life-like color:
Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them.
Thus there was a star (20) resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, (21) [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour.
This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.
Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner
(22) [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again.
This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them.
Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenonappeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.
Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by
night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform
their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”
But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, (23) began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!”
Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good
words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.
(This Jesus is not to be confused with Jesus Christ who died 33 years before)
Those who continue to insist that Daniel’s 70th week has been fulfilled, do so against the plain evidence.