The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 concerns the coming reign of Messiah; it has been calculated by determining the 69 ‘weeks’ as 7 year periods that the initiation of the proclamation to rebuild Jerusalem (recorded in the book of Nehemiah) until the coming of Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills that span of time (in fact by certain calculations – assuming the biblical 360 day year the issuance of the proclamation may have been EXACTLY 69 weeks off 7 years (to the day) from the proclamation of Nehemiah until Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey).

These first 69 weeks are well established (at the least among Christians) to speak of the time between Jerusalem’s rebuild after the Babylonian captivity, and the coming of the Messiah.  However, there is some confusion about verse 27 which records the 70th week.  Most theologians of our day believe that this 70th week actually occurs in the future, and speaks – for much of the verse – about the antichrist.  Historically, this was not the case – that is, throughout Christian history the modern interpretation of Daniel 9:27 has NOT assumed it speaks of antichrist, however most who have been taught that todah cannot see it any other way.

In order to appropriately interpret verse 27, it must be noted what the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 specifically speaks of; looking at the context, this is not difficult because in verse 24 the angel Gabriel clearly declares the content of his prophecy to Daniel in verse 24.

‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.’

Let’s break this down some: ‘Seventy weeks are determined upon THY PEOPLE, and upon THY HOLY CITY,’ here Gabriel declares specifically both what, and whom this prophecy concerns; it is regarding:

  1. Daniel’s people: the Jews
  2. Daniel’s ‘holy city’ – the sacred city of the Jews: Jerusalem.

This should be very clear because in the broader context, Daniel has just been praying for the Jews, and the restoration of Jerusalem according to Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jer 29:10-14 (& 25:11 & 12).

According to Daniel’s understanding of Jeremiah’s prophecy, 70 years of punishment had been determined upon Jerusalem during which his people would be exiled to Babylon.  Those 7 decades had now finally come to completion, so Daniel obeyed the directive given in Jeremiah’s prophecy (see Jer 29:10-14), setting himself to pray and repent for the sins of his people.

It was upon Daniel’s believing, and obeying the Word of God by repenting and calling out to the Lord for salvation for his nation that Gabriel appeared and declared this prophecy to Daniel.  Daniel had understood the judgment of God upon his people, and Jerusalem to be a single70 year period (which was the correct interpretation of Jeremiah’s prophecy, which concerned the Babylonian captivity).

In this context Gabriel declares that there are yet ‘seventy weeks,’ or more accurately: ‘seventy sevens’ (the word for ‘week’ in Hebrew actually means a set of seven, not a week of days as it is understood in English) determined upon the Jews, and Jerusalem – yet these weeks, unlike Jeremiah’s week of decades, would be for the blessing, comfort, and consolation of the Jews, and Jerusalem – the coming of Messiah.

‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.’

Not only does Gabriel declare to what and to whom this prophecy is given, but he further goes on in the verse to declare that the seventy sevens are to accomplish.  This is of the utmost importance to interpreting verse 27, because the angel clearly declares what the fullness of this timeframe is supposed to fulfill.

The completion of the seventy sevens is to fulfill these things per the angel:

  1. to finish the transgression
  2. to make an end of sins
  3. to make reconciliation for iniquity
  4. to bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. to seal up the prophecy
  6. to anoint the most Holy

As stated, it is believed that verse 27 leaves speaking of the coming Messiah, and speaks, rather of the end days.  However, according to the angel who declared this prophecy, the whole of the timeframe is for the fulfillment of the 6 above things – ALL OF WHICH ARE EXPRESSLY FULFILLED IN MESSIAH’S FIRST COMING.  Gabriel did NOT here declare that this prophecy would speak of the last days, or of the coming antichrist.  Rather, the declaration is that the sets of seven which he is about to reveal will fulfill the coming of God’s salvation, and the beginning of Messiah’s reign.  Remember, this verse is the context under which the rest of the prophecy is made.

Without going into great detail on each of these 6 things, the first three are clearly fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming.  Jesus’ death and resurrection finished transgression, made an end of sins, and made reconciliation between us and God for our iniquity.

Not only so, but the death and resurrection bring us to everlasting righteousness.  For most Christians, these first four we need not go into great detail on to show that Christ fulfilled them at His first coming, because they are the basic tenants of the Christian Gospel.

The final two requirements are these:

5) to seal up the vision and prophecy – this, too, was fulfilled at Christ’s first coming for it was declared by Him that all the law and the prophets prophesied until John [the Baptist] (Matt 11:13); indeed, Christ fulfilled the law and the prophets, and in Him the Old Testament vision is complete.  The coming of the Messiah is the unfolding of a new dispensation in which God speaks to us directly through Christ (Heb 1:1 & 2).

6) To anoint the Most Holy – this actually was fulfilled at the beginning f Jesus’ earthly ministry at His first coming (Luke 4:18 & 19); but even if we assume that this anointing was AFTER His initial ministry began, it is certainly fulfilled (at the latest) in Acts 2, in which the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, anointing not only Christ, Himself, but His body: the True temple of God (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21, etc.).  Really, this declaration is the affirmation that Gabriel’s prophecy declares the fulfillment of the coming of Messiah (meaning: the Anointed One); this marks the beginning of the Messianic era: the era in which Christ is enthroned; the commencement of His reign.

Now, according to the angel, the full following prophecy (the full seventy sevens) speaks of the FIRST coming of Christ, the end of the Old Testament reign of prophecy, and the beginning f the Anointed One’s ministry.  By Gabriel’s applied pre-interpretation of the prophecy he is about to give, not only the first 69 weeks speak of the time between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the first coming of Messiah, but the final week also must speak of this first appearing – it cannot speak of a timeframe somewhere in the future according to the angel’s declaration of what the seventy sevens will fulfill.

In this context of Gabriel’s interpretation, let’s look at verse 27, and see whether there be any confusion about it:

‘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.’

According to this verse, Christ will ‘confirm’ or ‘establish’ His covenant with many for a week – obviously, the New Covenant was instated during the first coming of Christ, but here is the confusion many run into: ‘for one week.’  Wait?  Only for one week will the covenant be confirmed?  The first 69 ‘weeks’ were seven year periods that can mathematically be calculated to the time of Christ’s coming; does that mean that for only 7 years, the New Covenant will be affirmed?

Obviously not, because the New Covenant is still in place, and will be until the return of Christ.

Thus the first piece of confusion about the timing of this ‘week.’  Surely, this must mean something different than the first coming of Christ, because His covenant has been established and is in existence for 2,000 years!

By the content intrinsic in the verse, it cannot speak of a future event BECAUSE the verse is about the confirming of the New Covenant.  This could not speak of any other covenant than that which Christ established when He came: the New Covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20).  Gabriel’s description of the first 69 weeks all lead up to the first coming of Christ, and (as mentioned) can be calculated from the time of the exile to His entry into the earthly city of Jerusalem.  The culmination of His coming (and the culmination of His entry into Jerusalem) was the establishment of the New Covenant.

The ‘week,’ or set of seven that this verse speaks of is the timeframe in which the New Covenant is set in place, or affirmed – it is the very statement of the first sentence in the verse: ‘And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week‘ This week can’t be after the confirmation of the Messiah’s covenant; it cannot be a future, end time event.

But then… what could it mean that the covenant is confirmed for ‘one week’?  How could the timetable established validate that for a covenant which has now been in place for 2,000 years?

Remember the context of this passage – that the angel declared that seventy sevens were determined upon DANIEL’S people, and DANIEL’S holy city.  This verse is speaking of Jesus’ coming in the light of fulfilling His promise specifically to the Jews.  This verse does not speak of a FUTURE event, but Jesus Christ’s first coming in relation to His ministry specifically to the Jews.  The Messiah came to the Jews FIRST.

While the Messianic reign (established through the affirmation of the New Covenant) is now open to the Gentiles, in His earthly ministry, Christ declared that He came to the Jews FIRST; Gabriel had declared that this vision was pertaining to the coming of the Messiah’s reign as it was ‘determined’ upon the Jews, and upon Jerusalem.  Of course, this interpretation would NOT imply that salvation is only open to the Jews for a short ‘week’ of time, but rather, that the New Covenant would be specially presented and confirmed with the Jews for ‘one week.’  This actually fully confirms the ministry of Jesus while in the earth; while there was occasional ministry to seeking Gentiles, Jesus specifically declared that His EARTHLY MINISTRY WAS EXCLUSIVELY to the Jews (Matt 15:23); the even Paul, the apostle to the gentiles affirmed this, declaring that salvation was offered to the Jew FIRST (Rom 1:19).

Also, by application in the church the ministry to the Jews was first because it was not until late in the ministry of Paul that the Gospel began to be preached widespread to the Gentiles.  Christ was affirming His covenant to many of the Jews during that time as the angel declared to Daniel.

Now the remainder of the verse is where many remove from the context and begin to assume that the prophecy speaks of the end of the world, and of the antichrist.  The assumption is that the angel stops talking about Jesus mid-sentence right at the tail end of a prophecy that has been fully about the coming Messiah, and suddenly begins speaking of the antichrist.  (Again, this is not an historical interpretation, it seems to have developed early in the 19th century; commentary for this verse from the Geneva bible, for example, reveals that the Pilgrims of the 14th century believed verse 27 to speak of Christ’s first coming, just as the rest of the passage.)

We also assume that because the sacrifice and oblation are mentioned, that the earthly temple of Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the Jewish nation must, again, be operating under the Old Covenant which was in place in the time of Daniel (but which is expired in the light of the New Covenant (see Hebrews 8:8-13 (specifically v. 13)).  However, that conclusion would negate the first part of this verse which states that the New Covenant would be confirmed with the Jews (it also, in fact, negates the entirety of the New Covenant, and the purpose of Christ’s coming; if salvation could be obtained through the Old Covenant, there would no place have been sought for a new, and BETTER one – to revert to the Old Covenant would negate the Christian faith entirely (again: Heb 8:6-13)).

Let’s note that Gabriel does not give an indication after this first part of the verse (wherein Messiah confirms the New Covenant with the Jews) that he is speaking of someone different in the latter part of the same verse.  He begins the verse speaking of Messiah, and he ends the verse speaking of Messiah.  This must be the case not only because there is no reference to a subject change, but also because of the context of the prophecy, which the angel has already laid out.

But did Jesus fulfill the rest of the verse?  Let’s review what things are stated in the verse and consider if Christ fulfilled them:

  1. He shall confirm the covenant with many
  2. in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease
  3. for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate

Now, again, the first is clear – and it clearly speaks of the Messiah; the second two , however, seem to e of negative connotation that do not appear to comply with the establishment of Messiah’s reign… or do they?

In order to determine this we should first consider how this ‘week,’ or set of seven is different than the 69 which precede it.  According to the view that this week is set somewhere in the future, it is clearly counted apart from all the rest.  Even if this week is not set sometime in the future, the counting of this week does seem to be set apart from the rest; indeed it is the week which shows not the coming, but the initiation of the reigning of Messiah.

In the broader context of Daniel 9, we know that God had first determined 70 years of judgment upon Jerusalem.  In fact, Danie fist set his heart to pray because he understood from the book of Jeremiah the prophet that the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years.

It is possible that the vinal set of seven is another set, not of 7, but of 70 years.  If this is so, Gabriel’s declaration that the prophecy pertained only to the establishment of Christ’s reign is established as True, and holds within the timeframe of His coming, needing no additional un-counted time in the future.

Now we know that according to another of Jesus’ prophecies (and according to the historical events) that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 a.d.  (Jesus predicted the destruction in Matt 24:2) – 70 a.d. was approximately 70 years after the birth of Jesus Christ.

If the final set of seven is a 70 year period that commenced at the birth of Jesus Christ, then its culmination or fulfillment lines up perfectly with the final judgment of Jerusalem (which Jesus had predicted) that took place in 70 a.d.  It would also NOT contradict Gabriel’s interpretation of the prophecy in Daniel 9:24, NOR would it negate the New Covenant that Christ established FIRST with the Jews (both of which points ARE contradicted in the interpretation that this final week is in the end times, as I’ve pointed out).

Okay, 70 years as the final set of seven determined on Jerusalem… interesting thought, but are the second two points of the prophecy of Daniel 9:27 fulfilled within that same 70 year period?

Let’s consider the second point of the prophecy is this:

‘…in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.’  Now, the word ‘midst’ here literally means ‘middle,’ or quantitively: ‘half.’  So, halfway through the 70 years, did Jesus make the sacrifice and the oblation to cease?

The middle of a 70 year period would be 35 years.  By all historical accounts, Jesus was between 33, and 35 years of age when he was crucified, and raised.  I would say that that certainly constitutes the middle of a 70 year period which started approximately the year He was born.  When Jesus died, the New Covenant was established – an interesting thing happened when Christ died: the veil of the Jerusalem’s temple in two from top to bottom (Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).  By that work, God declared the use of the temple service to be void; He was no longer to be found in a temple made with hands (Heb 9:24-26).  No sacrifice, nor oblation could any longer cleanse one for service (Heb 10:1-10) in a temple in which God no longer dwelt.  Rather, from that time, we now have ‘…liberty to enter into the holiest [the True Most Holy Place] by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh’ (Heb 10:29 & 30)

Jesus Christ, the Lamb supplied by God – the ultimate sacrifice had been made; no other sacrifice could ever again be sufficient (Heb 10:14).  The sacrifice and oblation in place under the Old Covenant were, indeed, taken away by the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God (and it happened in the midst of the 70 year period, according to the prophecy).

How about the third prophecy in the verse?

‘For the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate.’

First off, what does the ‘it’ refer to here?  To interpret let’s go back, again, to the context: ‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon THY HOLY CITY to finish the transgression…’

The prophecy is about the times determined upon the city of Jerusalem – the holy city of the Jews.

So did Jesus make Jerusalem desolate?  As mentioned, the reckoning of this week ends in 70 a.d., the very year that Jerusalem was completely destroyed and the Jews dispersed throughout the earth for approximately 2000 years.

‘For the overspreading of abominations…’

When Jesus declared judgment on Jerusalem, He preceded His judgment by giving a list of abominations of the Sanhedrin (the ruling counselors of Jerusalem).  Matt 23:1-36; He finalizes His prophecy of judgment with these words:

Matt 23:37-39
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Jesus declared Jerusalem to be desolate.  70 years after His birth, the city was completely destroyed, according to both His word, and the word spoken by Gabriel in Daniel 9:27.

In another place Jesus declared that the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed because: ‘…they knew not the time of their visitation.’  (Luke 19:44)

The final week declared in Daniel 9:27 was not a week declaring Christ’s coming (for that was fulfilled in the first 69 weeks), rather it was the week of visitation: the generation of the life of Christ.