The 70th Week of Daniel

The prophet Daniel said more specific things about the end times than any other Old Testament prophet. One of the most profound prophecies in all of scripture must be his “70 weeks” prophecy in Daniel chapter 9. In this article, we’ll review this prophecy, explain why its 70th week pertains to the end times, and how it relates to Revelation.

The Context of the “70 Weeks” Prophecy

Daniel was one of the several thousand Jews taken captive to Babylon. While there, he read Jeremiah’s earlier prophecy that the captivity would last 70 years (Jer 25:11-12). This prompted the prayer of confession and supplication on behalf of Israel that we see at the beginning of chapter 9 in the book of Daniel.

During his prayer, Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel, who said “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding” (Dan 9:20-23). The angel then proceeded to give Daniel the remarkable “70 weeks” prophecy found in Dan 9:24-27.

There is no small amount of disagreement over how this prophecy should be understood. It is written in a very terse manner which is by no means simple, so it must be parsed with great care. However, I believe that there is an understanding of this prophecy that succeeds in: (1) doing justice to the text, (2) fitting well with history as it has unfolded, and (3) working in harmony with the overall prophecy of the end times presented in scripture, as well as the understanding of Revelation as presented here (described in Revelation Overview).

Prophecy: Opening Statement

24“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place”.

The prophecy begins with this introduction that summarizes all of the things that God will accomplish as this prophecy is fulfilled. This prophecy (like most Old Testament prophecies) speaks about things that concern Jewish people and Jerusalem (your people and your holy city), although (again, like most prophecies) it is highly impactful to all people.

We see the word “weeks” in this passage, but we must remember that this is an English translation from Hebrew, and that meanings don’t alway translate perfectly. While the English word “week” always means “a period of seven days”, the Hebrew word is actually less specific because it only means “a period of seven”. Some translations (e.g. NIV, NLT, GWT) address this difference in meaning by using the word “sevens” instead of “weeks”.

I agree with the majority of theologians who believe that the word “weeks” (or “sevens“) used here should be understood as “periods of seven years“. While this may seem odd to most English speakers, it isn’t unusual in the Biblical context because Israel observed cycles of seven years as well as cycles of seven days (e.g. Gen 29:20, Gen 41:27, Lev 25:8, Deut 15:12, Deut 31:10, Judg 6:1, 2 Chron 36:21).

Furthermore, in this particular prophetic context, I believe these “years” are best understood as Biblical years. As discussed in Biblical Years, this refers to a “year” that has exactly 360 days, and (equivalently) twelve “Biblical months” that each have exactly 30 days. The 360 day year is preferred in order to be consistent with other related prophecies that refer to a specific number of days, months, or years (Dan 12:11, Rev 11:2,3, Rev 12:6,14, Dan 7:25).

The list of things to be accomplished in these 70 “weeks of years” include the following:

  • to finish the transgression,
  • to make an end of sin,
  • to make atonement for iniquity,
  • to bring in everlasting righteousness,
  • to seal up vision and prophecy and
  • to anoint the most holy place

A Christian should recognize that these are all things Christ would accomplish — in part at his first coming, and in fullness at his second coming.

Prophecy: The First 69 Weeks

25“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

To summarize, this prophecy foretells three things:

  1. There will be first event, which is a decree issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, including the plaza and moat even in times of distress. Different translations seem to differ regarding what will be rebuilt (e.g. street, wall, moat, rampart, broad place, and plaza).
  2. There will be a second event, which is the arrival of Messiah the Prince.
  3. The time between these two events will be 69 “weeks” (i.e. seven weeks and sixty-two weeks). As mentioned above, this is best understood is 69 cycles of seven Biblical years. The total number of Biblical years is calculated simply as 69 (weeks of years) x 7 (years per “week”), which is 483 Biblical years. To express this in terms of days, we multiply 483 (Biblical years) x 360 (days per Biblical year), which is 173,880 days. To convert this to our more familiar solar years, we just divide the 173,880 days by 365.2422 (the average number of days per solar year). The result is approximately 476 years.

How did this prophecy work out? Many years after this prophecy was made, there were some different decrees issued by Persian kings to rebuild parts of Jerusalem. However, the one decree that stands out as a referencing the city and its defenses (e.g. wall, moat, rampart) is the decree of Artaxerxes(1) described in Nehemiah 2:1-8. This decree given by king Artaxerxes is dated (by our modern calendar) in 444 BC.

Therefore, according to Daniel’s prophecy, the appearance of the Messiah would occur about 476 years after this decree, which (accounting for the absence of a “year zero”) indicates a date in the year 33 AD. Amazingly, the year 33 AD may be well-argued(2) as the final year in the life of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah the Prince according to Christian doctrine.

Side note #1: That the prophecy divides the 69 weeks into seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks is interesting. Possibly, it is broken up this way because the first seven weeks (which would be 49 Biblical years) would easily encompass the prophesied rebuilding of Jerusalem, perhaps even to include the conclusion of the Old Testament. Thus, at the end of those 49 years, everything was in place for the first coming of the Messiah. In any case, the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks are presented in an additive way, which indicates that they form a contiguous series of sixty-nine weeks.

Side note #2: Some commentators argue that regular solar years (based on the Jewish calendar) are to be preferred over the 360-day years. They also point out that if solar years are used in conjunction with an earlier decree by king Artaxerxes dated 457 BC, then the prophecy still identifies a time in the life of Jesus Christ (around 27 AD, possibly the start of His earthy ministry). My point in mentioning this alternative view is that (1) it is plausible, and (2) it really doesn’t change much in terms of eschatology.

This portion of the prophecy is astounding by itself because (1) it foretold the decree of Artaxerxes, and (2) it foretold a time centuries later that confirms Jesus as the Messiah. And yet, it becomes more astounding still, as we’ll see in the following verses.

The next two verses (Dan 9:26 and Dan 9:27) are so lengthy and detailed that, for the sake of discussion, I shall divide each of them into three segments labeled a, b, and c.

(9:26a)  “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,

Parsing this segment of the prophecy, we find the following:

  • It says that the Messiah will be cut off, which is a Jewish euphemism for being killed (e.g. Gen 9:11, Gen 17:14, Ex 12:15, Lev 7:20-27, Num 15:30). Thus, Daniel prophesied that the Jewish Messiah would be killed. This was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified.
  • Note that the prophecy says he will be cut off after the sixty-two weeks. The “sixty-two weeks” will (according to verse 25) identify a time when the Messiah is on the earth. The word “after” tells us that the killing of the Messiah is a separate event subsequent to the completion of the sixty-two weeks. This is an important detail.
  • The phrase shown here as and have nothing is translated and argued different ways. The Hebrew word from which it comes conveys the idea of “nothingness”, and so I think the translation used here is good.

What does it mean when it says the Messiah will “have nothing“?

I believe the answer comes simply by remembering who Jesus was: The promised Messiah, the Son of God, and the heir to David’s throne. The statement that he was cut off with nothing appropriately emphasizes all that he gave up as his life ended on the cross. He willingly postponed all of the glory that was due to him on earth for the sake of saving sinners. Paul wrote about this in Phil 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Prophecy: The Prince Who is to Come

(9:26b)  and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood;

There are some important terms here that must be identified in context.

  • What is the “city and the sanctuary“?
    The city could only be Jerusalem (the city referred to at the start of this prophecy in verse 24).  The sanctuary must then be the temple in Jerusalem. However, in Daniel’s day, Jerusalem and the temple had already been destroyed by Babylon. This prophecy must be referring to a later rebuilt Jerusalem and the second temple. That is, it refers to the destruction of the city and temple that will have been rebuilt as a result of the decrees issued by Persian kings, including the decree of Artaxerxes referenced by verse 25.
  • Who is the “prince who is to come“?
    Is this the same “prince” mentioned in verse 25 (that is, the Messiah himself) or is this some other ruler/prince? This question will be addressed later, after we have gathered more context.
  • Who are the “people” of the prince who is to come?
    This question is also best answered later when we discuss the identity of the prince, but it is important to notice that it will be the people of the prince who destroy Jerusalem and the temple — and not necessarily the prince himself. In fact, it’s not even necessary for this prince to be directly involved with the destruction of the temple at all. This is also discussed later.
  • The phrase “its end” refers back to the destruction of the city and the sanctuary just mentioned, that is, Jerusalem and the second temple.
  • The phrase “come with (or preferably come like) a flood” thus describes the destruction of the city and sanctuary as sudden and devastating, resulting from a massive invading force. This certainly agrees with the fulfillment of the prophecy, which occurred when Jerusalem was sacked and the second temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 AD.

(9:26c) even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined”

We have more phrases that need clarification:

  • The phrase “even to the end there will be war” seems to extend way beyond the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  • The final phrase is “desolations are determined” (several other translations say desolations are decreed). This also seems to be part of what extends “to the end”. It’s unlikely that this refers only to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Since desolations is plural and they are qualified as something decreed, it’s best to understand that they include at least one more future desolation which must take place. Indeed, such a future desolation is mentioned in the following verse.

Prophecy: The 70th Week

In this final verse, we finally come to the 70th week, which is the primary topic of this article. Again, I divide it into three segments, and the first segment of verse 27 is as follows:

(9:27a)  “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week

Parsing this segment, we have:

  • The pronoun “he” should be taken as a reference to the nearest preceding male mentioned. In this case, it specifies the prince who is to come stated in verse 26. Again, the identity of this prince will be discussed below.
  • Since we have already seen the first 69 weeks, this reference to “one week” must be the 70th and final week of the prophecy which began in verse 24. As explained earlier, this “week” is best understood to be a seven-year period. It’s worth noting that it is introduced bluntly as “one week“, with no specific wording (such as after or and) to relate it to the prior 69 (or 7+62) weeks.
  • It appears that this seven-year period begins with a “firm covenant with the many“. Given the broader context that this a prophecy to the Jewish people, this is best understood as some sort of promise (e.g. treaty) involving Israel, either with or arranged by the prince who is to come. As such, it would likely involve (1) potential adversaries who agree to a mutually beneficial peace, or (2) a strong ally who agrees to provide protection. In either case, this firm covenant will be agreed to and welcomed by Israel.

(9:27b)  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

There are several clarifications to be parsed from this text:

  • The word “he” again refers back to the prince who is to come mentioned in verse 26 who will make a covenant with the many (per verse 27a).
  • Here the text mentions “the middle of week“, which is the midpoint of the 70th week. This midpoint divides this seven-year period into two consecutive periods, each lasting 3 1/2 Biblical years. Since the covenant was for seven years, this event after only 3 1/2 years appears to be a breaking of that covenant, indicating a deception or betrayal perpetrated by the prince who is to come.
  • At this midpoint, the prince who is to come shall “stop the sacrifice and grain offering“. The mention of the sacrifice and grain offering refers to activities within the Jewish temple. This hints that there will be a temple in Jerusalem at the time this prophecy is fulfilled. Also, this action certainly should be seen as an aggression against Israel. In fact, this action is very similar to the aggression carried out by Antiochus Epiphanes IV in 167 BC, which was also foretold in detail by Daniel (e.g. Dan 11:31). This similarity is no accident.
  • Besides stopping the temple activities, it says this: “on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate“. The phrase “on the wing” is sometimes translated as an “overspreading” (KJV) or “climax” (NLT), which I believe correctly conveys the idea that this event will stand out as extreme. This extreme action shall be a decreed desolation, which will in some sense bring about ruin. The association between abominations and (its resulting) desolation is seen elsewhere in scripture, and sometimes such events are called an “abomination of desolation” (Ezek 33:29, Dan 11:31, Dan 12:11, Matt 24:15). The identity of the one who makes desolate is discussed in the next verse segment (9:27c) below.

Jesus taught that there would be an “abomination of desolation” event that will take place in the end times (Matt 24:15-16). I’ll explain shortly why I believe that verse 27b above is the first mention of this future abomination. Daniel also mentioned this same future abomination of desolation in Dan 12:11, “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”

(9:27c)  “even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Now we parse the final part of Daniel’s prophecy:

  • This tells us that “the one who makes desolate” shall himself face a “complete destruction“.  Although the passage doesn’t identify the “one who makes desolate“, the immediate context, the related scriptures, and the parallel with Antiochus Epiphanes IV indicates that is the same ruler who stops the temple activities. From this, we can conclude that the prince who is to come is the one who makes desolate, and it is he who shall face complete destruction. This understanding works in harmony with all other prophecies concerning the end times.
  • The destruction of this person has “been decreed“. The implication is that this is no ordinary event in the course of human history. It is an event that shapes the fulfillment of God’s revealed plans on the earth.

The Timing of the 70th Week

There are a number of sticky questions related to the timing of the 70th week.

  1. Why is this final 70th week presented separately from the first 69 weeks?
  2. If the first 69 weeks pertain to prophecy fulfilled about 2000 years ago, why does this 70th week describe things that were not fulfilled back then — and in fact have not yet been fulfilled at all (such as the seven-year covenant, the breaking of that covenant after 3 1/2 years, the subsequent stopping of sacrifices, the abomination of desolation, and the significant “decreed” destruction of that ruler)?
  3. The death of the Messiah occurs after the completion of the first 69 weeks (see verse 26b above), which implies that his death must have taken place during (or after) the 70th week. But if that is the case, why is his death mentioned before the 70th week?
  4. If we add the full 70 weeks (i.e. 490 Biblical years) to the date of the decree of Artaxerxes, we arrive at a date near 40 AD. However, the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple didn’t happen until 70 AD — about 30 years later. So why is the destruction of Jerusalem included in this “70 Weeks” prophecy at all? And why is it specifically mentioned before the discussion of the 70th week?
  5. The list of things to be accomplished by the 70 weeks included “to make an end of sin” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan 9:24). However, the world is still a sinful place. The end of sin and the everlasting righteousness doesn’t happen until Christ begins His reign on earth in the end times (2 Pet 3:13, Rev 21:26-27). How then can these things be part of the 70 weeks?

I believe that there is one fairly simple explanation that answers all of these sticky questions in a scripturally defensible way: Specifically, that the first 69 weeks are contiguous (uninterrupted) — but the 70th week itself is not part of the contiguous sequence. Rather, there is a “time gap” between the 69th and 70th weeks. In fact, the 70th week is prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled, which means that we are currently still in that “time gap”.

Now, the very reasonable objection to this explanation is that normally, if someone says “70 weeks are given to accomplish something”, we should naturally understand this to be 70 contiguous weeks. Sound interpretation calls for us to adopt the most natural understanding, unless the context indicates otherwise.

In this case, I believe that the context actually does indicate otherwise, for the following reasons:

  • First, we shall soon see that time following the midpoint of the 70th week is the “time, times, and half a time” referenced in Daniel 7. However, scripture makes it clear that this time, times and half a time period includes the great tribulation, the return of Christ and the setting up of his kingdom on earth (Dan 7:13,14, Rev 12:14). This means that the latter part of the 70th week is in the end times, and therefore the entire 70th week must also be in the end times. Below, I will discuss the association between the 70th week and  the future “time, times, and half a time”.
  • Second, as the sticky questions above demonstrate, interpreting the 70 weeks as contiguous simply doesn’t make sense. As such, we should not settle for that interpretation, but rather seek another justifiable interpretation. The proposed time gap may be justified by observing the difference in how the 70 weeks of this prophecy are expressed as three periods. The first two periods (7 weeks and 62 weeks) are combined with “and“, indicating that they are to be summed into 69 consecutive weeks. However the third period is simply introduced (in verse 27) as “one week“, without wording that would require continuity with the first 69 weeks. This “one week” may thus be the 70th week for which prophesy is given without being the 70th in series. Below, we’ll see how the proposed time gap resolves all the sticky questions above.

Answering the sticky questions: Please notice that this proposed “time gap model” provides simple and complete answers for each of those otherwise unanswerable sticky questions above:

  1. Why is this final 70th week presented separately from the first 69 weeks?
    Answer: Because they are very separate. There is a large time gap between them.
  2. If the first 69 weeks pertain to prophecy fulfilled about 2000 years ago, why does this 70th week describe things that were not fulfilled back then — and in fact have not yet been fulfilled at all (such as the seven-year covenant, the breaking of that covenant after 3 1/2 years, the subsequent stopping of sacrifices, the abomination of desolation, and the significant “decreed” destruction of that ruler)?
    Answer: The 70th week prophecy describes things that are still in the future. We are currently in that time gap, awaiting the fulfillment of those things.
  3. The death of the Messiah occurs after the completion of the first 69 weeks (see verse 26b above), which implies that his death must have taken place during (or after) the 70th week. But if that is the case, why is his death mentioned before the 70th week?
    Answer: The death of the Messiah can be after the first 69 weeks and yet before the 70th week, because it occurred during the time gap between the 69th and 70th weeks.
  4. If we add the full 70 weeks (i.e. 490 Biblical years) to the date of the decree of Artaxerxes, we arrive at a date near 40 AD. However, the destruction of Jerusalem didn’t happen until 70 AD — about 30 years later. So why is the destruction of Jerusalem included in this “70 Weeks” prophecy at all? And why is it specifically mentioned before the discussion of the 70th week?
    Answer: The destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple can fit exactly where it is in this prophecy because 70 AD is within this time gap, which is before the 70th week.
  5. The list of things to be accomplished by the 70 weeks included “to make an end of sin” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan 9:24). However, the world is still a sinful place. The end of sin and the everlasting righteousness doesn’t happen until Christ beings His reign on earth in the end times (2 Pet 3:13, Rev 21:26-27). How then can these things be part of the 70 weeks?
    Answer: The 70th week will begin after the time gap, and it will encompass the end times up to the beginning of Christ’s reign on earth. At that time he will destroy sin and set up His eternal kingdom of righteousness, just as the prophecy states.

Diagram of 70 Weeks Prophecy

The diagram below illustrates how the prophecy is interpreted, including the implied time gap between the 69th and 70th weeks.

With this approach, all of the key components of Daniel’s “70 Weeks” prophecy are consistent with (1) the known historical record, (2) the observation that the events and wicked king described by the 70th week have not happened yet, and (3) all other prophetic scripture pertaining to the end times.

Chart of the 70 Weeks of Daniel

Daniel’s “70 Weeks” Prophecy (Dan 9:24-27)

Side note: Regarding the proposed “gap” between the 69th and 70th weeks, some commentators who hold to a certain dispensational theological view explain the gap as the initiation of the “church age”. In this view, the church has replaced Israel as God’s people, and this event causes the 70 weeks prophecy for Israel to be “suspended” until the end times.

I personally don’t hold to this view, because I don’t believe that Israel has lost its distinction among nations as “God’s chosen”, nor do I see the “suspension” as a defensible concept. I do accept the proposed gap simply because it’s clear to me that the 70th week must be in the end times, and I do believe that the prophecy is worded such that it the 70th week may be noncontiguous with the first 69 weeks.

Who is the Prince to Come and Who are His People?

In verse 26b we read this: “and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary“.

This mentions a “prince who is to come“, although it is rather indirect because the verse is not actually talking about the prince, but rather the people of the prince. As mentioned earlier, this indirectness allows that the prince himself was not necessarily involved with the destruction of the city and sanctuary — only his people were. To take this point further, it is entirely possible that this prince was not even alive when the city and sanctuary were destroyed!

The only thing that is really required by verse 26b is that this prince and these people share a common descent. This can be seen most easily seen by observing the similarity to the opening of Daniel’s prophecy in verse 24, where the angel said to Daniel “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people“. This is equivalent to saying, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for the people of Daniel“. Either way, it refers to Israelites, the people with whom Daniel shares a common descent, and it does not require that Daniel must be alive when the prophecy is fulfilled (and indeed, he wasn’t). The same can be said for the people of the prince in verse 26b: those people and that prince must have a common descent, but they don’t need to be alive on earth at the same time.

So, who are “the people” of the prince who is to come? We know the answer to this because we know from history that Jerusalem and the second temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.  So, since it says the people destroyed the city and sanctuary, those people must be the Romans.

Since we know that those people and the prince have a common descent, we may conclude that the prince who is to come is also of Roman descent.

Side note: Some commentators believe that the prince who is to come refers back to the same prince mentioned in the previous verse, namely, Messiah the Prince. At first glance, this seems like a natural reading of the text. They argue that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was ultimately directed by Jesus the Messiah in order to punish Israel for having rejected Him as their Messiah. However, there are serious problems with this thinking:

    • If this were the case, why does the prophecy emphasize the “people of the prince“?  Are the Romans somehow distinguished as Christ’s people?
    • The first prince (Messiah) was “cut off” (killed). This itself makes it natural to see this second prince as someone different from the first.
    • The other prophecies concerning this prince who is to come are incongruent with Christ.  Specifically:
      Christ would not make a seven-year covenant with Israel and then break it at the midpoint.
      – Christ would not set up an abomination of desolation.
      – There is certainly no decree that Christ will completely destroyed!

Clearly this prince cannot be Messiah the Prince.

Knowing that the “people of the prince who is to come” refers to the Romans, we can now work on the identify of the prince himself.

Side note: Some commentators conclude that this prince to come is Titus, the Roman commander who led the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, this again fails to notice the deliberate distinction made between the people and the prince. If the prince to come was intended to be Titus, it would be unnecessary to mention “the people” at all. It could simply say “and the prince who is to come will destroy the city…“.

Throughout scripture, when a ruler commands his people (e.g. armies) do take some action, that action is generally ascribed to that ruler himself. There are many examples of this, e.g. Gen 14:5, Ex 14:8, 1 Sam 13:4, 2 Sam 8:1, Ezra 1:7, 2 Kings 18:9, 2 Kings 23:19, Ezra 5:12, Jer 21:2, Dan 1:1, Dan 7:25.

In fact, we see a good example of this in the very next verse (Dan 9:27), where it says that this same ruler will stop the sacrifices and grain offerings. We should understand this to mean that he will command the forces under his control to take this action, rather than insist that he will do this action himself. Therefore, it’s very unlikely that verse 26 would bother to specify that the destruction of the city and sanctuary was carried out by “the people” of the prince if it were not absolutely necessary and meaningful to do so.

Titus also does not fit the full prophecy, e.g. the seven-year covenant or the breaking of that covenant at the midpoint. Finally, the death of Titus (due to fever in 81 AD) simply made his brother Domitian the next emperor, and he continued to persecute Jews and Christians. The death of Titus could hardly constitute the decreed complete destruction poured out upon him, as prophesied in Dan 9:27.

So Titus cannot be the prince who is to come (although he may be a foreshadowing of this prince in the same sense the Antiochus Epiphanes IV foreshadows that prince).

We are looking for a prince who is to come who satisfies all of the qualities that this prophecy ascribes to him, which actually gives us a rather detailed list of requirements. Specifically:

  1. This prince must be some earthly king (i.e. ruler) who is of Roman descent (according to verse 26b, as discussed above).
  2. This prince will make a seven-year covenant with Israel but break it. This implies that the prince will be deceptive.
  3. This prince will turn against Israel at the midpoint of the seven-year period. This means that the prince will oppose God’s people for 3 1/2 years following the midpoint.
  4. This prince will defile the temple with an abomination of desolation. This makes it clear that the prince will stand in opposition to God.
  5. There is a decree that this prince shall be completely destroyed. This indicates this prince is a wicked person of great significance to God’s revealed plans on earth.

If we search the scriptures for a ruler who fits these descriptions, we will find exactly one person who satisfies all of these requirements, and we don’t have to search very far. Daniel had already described him just two chapters earlier. In chapter 7, the prophet described an epic vision involving four beasts that symbolized consecutive kingdoms that would arise on the earth. It is not difficult to see that those four kingdoms are (1) Babylon, (2) Persia, (3) Greece, and (4) Rome. But then chapter 7 goes on to prophesy concerning a powerful and wicked king in the end times.

Below, we see that this wicked king mentioned in chapter 7 satisfies all of the requirements stated above, in order for him to be the prince who is to come mentioned here in chapter 9.

  1. The king who descends from Rome — In Daniel 7, the prophecy concerning the fourth beast (which is Rome) mentions “ten horns“, and they are explained in Dan 7:23-24: “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth [Rome], which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.  ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another [king] will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.” —  Notice that we see ten kings who descend from Rome, and one king is singled out from among them. (Dan 7:8 makes it clear that this one king came up from among the ten.)
  2. The deceptive king — This attribute is not explicitly stated in Daniel 7.  However, the proof that this king is deceptive comes from the fact that Daniel makes a strong parallel between this king and another king described in chapter 11, as follows:
    – “a despicable person will arise, on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred, but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue” (Dan 11:21).
    – “After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception” (Dan 11:23).
    – “he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time” (Dan 11:24)
    – “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation” (Dan 11:31)
    – “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Dan 11:32)
    – “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done” (Dan 11:36)
    Note that this chapter 11 prophecy of the despicable king was accurately fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes IV.  Also, the phrase “exalt and magnify himself” corresponds to this king found in chapter 7 who “utters great boasts” (Dan 7:8).
  3. The king who opposes God’s people for 3 1/2 years following the midpoint — Dan 7:25 says that this king shall: “wear down the saints of the Highest One, … and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time” — This phrase “time, times, and half a time” refers exactly to the 3 1/2 year period following the midpoint(3).
  4. The king who stands in opposition to God — Dan 7:25 also adds this about that king: “He will speak out against the Most High” — The “Most High“, of course, refers to God.
  5. The king whose destruction is decreed — Dan 7:26 shows how this king comes to an end: “But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever” — Thus this wicked king’s destruction is decreed, and the decree (judgment) comes from God (Dan 7:9,22). Then, Dan 7:27 goes on to say that the destruction of this wicked ruler will be followed by the eternal righteous kingdom of God on earth, making it clear that this wicked ruler will appear in the end times.

There can be no doubt that the prince who is to come, mentioned in the 70th week of Daniel, is the very same person as the king who emerged as the “little horn” among the ten horns discussed in chapter 7 of Daniel.

Relation to New Testament Prophecy

It should be rather plain that the things spoken of in the 70th week of Daniel have not been fulfilled yet. As future prophecy, it stands to reason that there would be corresponding prophecy in the New Testament. That is, we should expect to see that the New Testament prophecies concerning the end times describe the same events and that same wicked king that Daniel described in the 70th week.

Indeed, the New Testament does include such prophecy. Some New Testament prophecies match so closely to Daniel’s prophecy that there can be no doubt that they are speaking about the exact same things. For example:

Dan 9:27b and Dan 7:25 speak about the wicked king who reigns for 3 1/2 years, during which time he boasts, speaks out against the Most High, and persecutes the saints.

In the New Testament, we see this in Rev 13:5-7, “5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” (Note that “42 months” is 3 1/2 years.)

Interestingly, Rev 12:14 even uses the same “time, times, and half a time” expression that Daniel used to describe the period when the saints are conquered (Dan 7:25): “But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent“. This makes it obvious that Daniel and Revelation are discussing the exact same period of the end times.

However, in Revelation, this “time, times, and half a time” represents the protection of Israel (the woman). As discussed in The Final Restoration of Israel, the Old Testament prophets foretold that God would protect Israel in the end times. What we see then, is that in the end times, there will be two groups who stand for God:

(1) Israel, who will have a remnant protected by God for the period following the midpoint of the 70th week, and
(2) The “saints” who will be conquered for holding to the Word of God for 42 months following the midpoint (Rev 13:5). This second group called “saints” will be Christians (Rev 12:11).

Dan 9:27b and Dan 12:4 speak about an event called the abomination of desolation being carried out in the temple by that wicked king in the middle of the 70th week, which starts the persecutions.

In the New Testament, we see this in Matt 24:15-21, “15“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17“Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18“Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20“But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.“.

Also, 2 Thes 2:4, “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.“.

Dan 9:27c and 7:26 tell us that the wicked king will meet his decreed destruction.

In the New Testament, we see this in Rev 17:11, “The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction“.

We also have 2 Thes 2:3, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction“.

Dan 7:9-11 and 7:27 tells us that as the wicked king is destroyed, a court of judges on thrones will sit and judge the dead, and God will set up his eternal and righteous kingdom upon the earth and the saints will reign with Him.

In the New Testament, we see this in Rev 19:20, “But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur“.

The above passage is followed shortly by Rev 20:4 “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years“.

The fact that these prophecies match up so well confirms that they are describing the very same things. Not surprisingly, most of the matching prophecies are found in the book of Revelation, which is the Bible’s most detailed account of the end times.

Knowing that Revelation is describing the same things, we can proceed confidently through Revelation, using Daniel’s prophecy as a guide to interpret what it says. Furthermore, our understanding of Revelation helps to confirm our understanding of Daniel. Specifically, we see that the wicked ruler described in the 70th week of Daniel must be the wicked ruler of the end times, who we call the Antichrist.

As mentioned in Revelation Overview, the 70th week of Daniel matches up very well with the seven-sealed scroll of Rev 5:1, and its associated seal events starting in chapter 6. The persecution in the second half of the 70th week matches with the martyrdom in the fifth seal event, and the decreed destruction of the wicked ruler matches with the coming wrath described in the sixth seal event.

Footnotes

(1) The Decree Referenced by Daniel

Several commentators argue that the “decree” mentioned in verse 25 refers one of the other decrees issued by a Persian king. There were four such decrees:

(1) Cyrus’ decree in 538 BC (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13)
(2) Darius I (522-486) in 520 BC (Ezra 6:1, 6-12)
(3) Artaxerxes Longimanus (464-424) in 457 BC (Ezra 7:11-26)
(4) Artaxerxes Longimanus (464-424) in 444 BC (Neh. 2:1-8)

For example, if using the earlier decree from Artaxerxes dated in 457 BC, one would calculate the time of the Messiah’s appearing by adding the 483 years (either Biblical or solar years) to 457 BC. This would indicate that the Messiah would be on earth in either 20 AD (if using Biblical years) or 27 AD (if using solar years). Of course, Jesus was on earth for both of these dates.

I tend to prefer the using the 444 BC decree, because:

(1) It best fits the emphasis on rebuilding the city’s defenses, and the book of Nehemiah explains that the rebuilding authorized by by this decree was carried out during times of distress, as the prophecy states (Neh 2:19, Neh 4:7,8,16-18, Neh 5:1, Neh 6:16).
(2) It was the final such decree (completing the set of decrees to restore Jerusalem).
(3) It requires the use of Biblical years, which make much more sense in this context.
(4) The terminal date in 33 AD is known to agree with the account of Christ’s crucifixion occurring on a Friday at the time of the Jewish Passover.
(5) The fact that it appears to reference the year of His death seems appropriate, since His death was the sacrifice that accomplished some of the things Daniel said would be accomplished within these 70 weeks (Dan 9:24).

However, it is noteworthy that either decree succeeds in pointing to the lifetime of Jesus, which is a remarkable feat regardless of which decree you prefer.

(2) The Accuracy of the 69 weeks prophecy

Some commentators have calculated that Daniel’s prophecy of 69 weeks is accurate down to a specific day in the life of Christ. Some say it points to the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, some say it’s the day He was baptized, and others say it was the day of His transfiguration. Some have even carried out this calculation by counting seconds!

It’s possible that some of these claims have merit, but it’s also possible such efforts are examples of over-reaching. That is, these commentators may be trying to force the Bible to say a bit more than what can really be solidly supported scripturally. They may feel that if this prophecy can be shown to be super-accurate, then it would be much more convincing.

The problem is that over-reaching actually makes the prophecy less convincing. These efforts to be super-accurate (1) make the prophecy more difficult to explain, and (2) worse, it invites some credible rebuttals, giving the impression that the whole prophecy is disputable.

I believe it’s best to settle for an interpretation that is relatively simple and completely indisputable:

The prophet Daniel wrote a prophecy that identified a period of time when the Messiah would be on the earth. The period he identified was centuries after his own lifetime, and it indeed coincided with the relatively short lifetime of Jesus Christ, our Messiah. This prophecy is easily accurate to the nearest seven-year cycle, which is the unit of measurement that Daniel used. Daniel also foretold that the Messiah would be killed, which is true of Jesus. He also happened to foretell that there would be a decree to rebuild the defenses of Jerusalem, which was fulfilled in 444 BC. He also happened to foretell the destruction of that rebuilt Jerusalem and its second temple, which was fulfilled in 70 AD.

This clear prophecy, stated without extra embellishments, is entirely remarkable enough to be impactful to anyone who is seriously looking for evidence that the Bible is God’s word.

(3) Time, Times, and Half a Time

This curious expression is a somewhat wordy way of referring to the period of time following the abomination of desolation, which at the middle of the seven-year period that we call the 70th week of Daniel. As such, we may understand that its name expresses 3 1/2 years (“time” is 1, “times” is 2, and “half a time” is 1/2, and they all add up to 3 1/2).

But it’s only natural to wonder why God chose to express it this way. Below are some reasons:

    • God is giving this period of time a unique title which distinguishes it as a special time unto the Lord. This isn’t just any 3 1/2 year period and it isn’t simply the second part of Daniel’s 70th week. Rather, by virtue of receiving this title, it becomes one of three apocalyptic time periods defined by the Bible, namely: (1) The 70th week of Daniel, (2) the Time, Times, and Half a Time, and (3) the Day of the LORD.
    • It establishes a unique reference to this time period. This means that if we see this same “time, times and half a time” reference elsewhere in the Bible, we can be sure that it is speaking about this exact same period of time (which might not be true if the was merely called 1,260 days or 42 months). For example, we see this phrase used in Rev 12:14, so we know that Revelation is describing the same period that Daniel described.
    • It’s actual duration must be defined by its context. The title is intended to convey the numerical value of 3 1/2, which in turn should be understood as half of seven. Dan 12:11 informs us that this “time, times, and half a time” period (identified in Dan 12:7) is the second half of the final seven year period because it follows the stopping of sacrifices at the midpoint. Dan 12:11 also states that it’s precise duration will be 1290 days (or 3 1/2 Biblical years plus one additional Biblical month). This time is uniquely related to Israel’s experience in the end times.
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