July 20, 2009

Prophecy-minded Christians all over the Earth sometimes engage in a fierce debate about whether Jesus will return for His Church before the seven years of tribulation (which is called the "Pre-tribulation" view), in the middle of the seven years (the Mid-tribulation view), or at the end of the seven years (the Post-tribulation view).  Yet by far the most explosive question too few seem to be asking is: "Is an end-time 'seven-year period of tribulation' really the correct interpretation of Daniel 9:27 in the first place?"

In 1945, after months of agonizing deliberations, U.S. President Harry Truman finally issued the order to drop two atomic bombs on Japan in an attempt to end World War II.  On August 6, the "Little Boy" fell on Hiroshima.  Three days later, the "Fat Man" was released over Nagasaki.  Approximately 130,000 people were instantly vaporized.  Many heated discussions have occurred as to whether or not it was the right thing to drop those bombs.  One thing is fore sure, in the minds of those who made that fearful decision, they believe it was for the ultimate good of America.

Well, my readers, I think it is for the benefit of Christians everywhere that God's bomb of truth should now be released over what I call, "The 70th week of Daniel Delusion."

We have seen what the King James translation of Daniel 9:27 was in the previous lesson.  Let me translate it here from the original Hebrew as we would speak in English today:

He will confirm {enforce} a covenant with many for one seven {week}.  In the middle of the seven {week} he will put an end to sacrifice and grain offering; and on a wing of detestable things {abominations} comes one who causes horror {makes desolate}, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolate one.

This may shock you, but historically, the vast majority of well-respected Bible scholars have not applied Daniel 9:27 to a seven-year period of tribulation at all.  Neither have they interpreted the third person pronoun "He" are referring to a future Mr. Diabolical.  Instead, they applied it to Jesus Christ!

In the 18th century, about 70 years before the first mention of a tribulation by Margaret McDonald, John Darby and their followers, Matthew Henry, a world famous Bible commentator and scholar said: "By offering himself a sacrifice one and for all, Jesus shall put an end to all the Levitical sacrifices."  Thus, Mr. Henry applied Daniel 9:27 to Christ, not the Antichrist.  Another famous commentary of the early 19th century written by British Methodist scholar Adam Clarke says that during Daniel 9:27's "term of seven years," Jesus Himself would "confirm or ratify the new covenant with mankind."  Even renown scholars of the 20th century have identified the one who confirms or enforces a new covenant is Christ and he did this in the middle of the week.  The confirmation of the New Covenant is assigned to Him.

Here is one more statement from a book called, Christ and Antichrist, published in 1846 by the Presbyterian Board of Publication. On page 2 under "Recommendations," we find endorsements from many Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist ministers, including an official representative of the newly formed Southern Baptist Convention.  Commenting on the final week of Daniel 9:27 is found these words:

...sometime during the remaining seven, He [the Messiah] was to die as a sacrifice for sin, and thus bring in "everlasting righteousness."  Here are allusions to events so palpable, that one would think, the people among whom they occurred, could not possibly have misapplied the prophecy.

This being the case, let me bring the following ten points to provide logical and convincing evidence that Daniel's famous 70th week has no application to any future seven-year tribulation at all.  Keep in mind, this great prophetic period was definitely fulfilled two thousand years ago!

  1. The entire prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 covers a period of "seventy weeks."  Logic requires that "seventy weeks" refers to one consecutive block of time, in other words, to seventy straight sequential weeks.  The truth is, there is no example in the Bible of a state time period starting, stopping, and then starting again.  All biblical references to time are consecutive: 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4), 400 years in Egypt (Genesis 15:13), 70 years of captivity (Daniel 9:2), etc.  In Daniel's prophecy, the "seventy weeks" were to begin during the rule of Persia (after that kingdom destroyed Babylon and let the Israelites go back to Israel (c. 475 BC) and continue to the time of Christ.

  2. Logic also requires that the 70th week follow immediately after the 69th week.  If it doesn't then it cannot properly be called the 70th week.

  3. It is illogical to insert a 2,000 year gap between the 69th and 70th week.  No hint of a gap is found in the prophecy itself.  There is no gap between the first seven weeks and the following sixty-two weeks, so why insert one between the 69th and 70th week.  To explain this further, if you were to tell your child to be in bed in 70 minutes, you obviously would mean 70 consecutive minutes.  What if five hours later your fully awake child said, "But Dad, I know 69 minutes have passed, but the 70th minute hasn't started yet!"?  I believe that after receiving an appropriate punishment, he would be swiftly sent to bed.

  4. Daniel 9:27 says nothing about a seven-year period of "tribulation," a "rebuilt" Jewish temple, or any "Antichrist."

  5. The stated focus of this prophecy is the Messiah, not the Antichrist.  After the Messiah is "cut off" (referring to Christ's death), Daniel 9:26 says, And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.  In the past, this has consistently applied to the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple by Roman armies in A.D. 70.

  6. In verse 27, we read the words "He shall confirm the covenant."  Paul said "the covenant" was "confirmed before by God in Christ" (Galatians 3:17).  Jesus came "to confirm the promises made to the fathers" (Romans 15:8).  The "covenant" mentioned in verse 27 is the New Covenant.  Nowhere in the Bible does the Antichrist make, confirm or break a covenant with anyone.  The word "covenant" is Messianic, and always applied to the Messiah, not the Antichrist.

  7. The words "He will confirm a covenant with many" is reinforced in when Jesus said, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many...(Matthew 26:28).  It appears that Jesus is using Daniel 9:27 to show its fulfillment!

  8. The words "In the middle of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offerings" refers to the end of Jesus' three-and-a-half year ministry .  It was then that He died on the cross - "in the midst of the week, that is "in the middle of the seven years,"  At the exact moment of His death, Matthew said "the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom..." (Matthew 27:51).  This act of God signified that all animal sacrifices at that moment ceased to be of any value.  Why?  Because the Perfect Sacrifice had been offered!

  9. The words "On a wing of abominations comes one who makes desolate" was in Jesus' mind when he used the phrase "The abomination of desolation" in Matthew 24:15.  He applies this event to the time when His followers were to flee from Jerusalem before the destruction of the second temple in A.D. 70.  In a parallel text to Matthew 24:15, Jesus told His disciples, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies [Roman armies], then know that its desolation is near (Luke 21:20).  The disciples did "see" those very events.  Because of the "abominations" of the Pharisees, Jesus told them, "See!  Your house is left to you desolate" (Matthew 23:38).  Thus Daniel's statement in Daniel 9:27 about Jerusalem becoming "desolate" was fulfilled in A.D. 70, not to be fulfilled in the future.

  10. Daniel said that the 70-week prophecy specifically applied to the Jewish people (see 9:24).  During the period of Christ's public ministry of three-and-a-half years, the Master's focus was largely upon "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6).  After His resurrection and then for another three-and-a-half years, His disciples preached mostly to Jews (see Acts 1-6).  After that second three-and-a-half year period in A.D. 34, the bold Stephen was stoned to death by the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 7).  This infamous deed marked the then-ruling Jewish leaders' final, official rejection of the gospel of Christ.  Then the gospel went to the Samaritans and to the Gentiles.  In Acts 9, Saul is converted to Christ and would become the "Apostle to the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13).  In Acts 10, God gave Peter a vision revealing it was now time to preach to the Gentiles.  Thus approximately three-a-and-half years after the crucifixion - and the end of the 70-week prophecy given for the Jewish people - the gospel shifted to the Gentiles exactly as predicted in Daniel's prophecy!

This is evidence which is overwhelming against today's Left Behind theories.  Point by point the events of Daniel's 70th week have been fulfilled in the past.  Those eight words found in Daniel 9:27 - confirm ... covenant ... many ... midst ... sacrifice ... cease {end} ... abominations ... desolate all find their perfect fulfillment in Jesus Christ and early Christian history.

The entire "seven-year period of tribulation" theory is an end time delusion, a massive mega-myth.  It may even go down in history as the "greatest evangelical misinterpretation of all time."  It's a fact that there is no text in the Bible which teaches a "seven-year tribulation."  If you hunt for it, you'll end up like Ponce de Leon searching for the mystical Fountain of Youth, but never finding it.

I think the current debate and tremendous confusion over Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation or Post-tribulation is really a smoke screen of the enemy to hide the real issue.  What could the real issue be?  In the weeks to come I will discuss what the Revelation teaches about Israel, Babylon the Great and Armageddon.  Next week, we'll take a closer look at the Antichrist and find out what is fact and what is fiction.

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