Before leaving Daniel 9 I wanted to comment on Peter Gentry’s very recent article, as well as two others.  All three take Daniel 9:24-27 as messianic (i.e., that the “anointed one” who is “cut off” is indeed Jesus the Messiah), though they do not take all elements of the outworking of the 70 weeks the same way.

Gentry’s article was everything I’ve come to expect from anything Peter writes. It was clear, cogent, and thorough. Frankly, it’s the most coherent explanation I’ve read on Daniel 9:24-27. I’m quite glad that a reader brought it to our attention. All of you should give it a close read.

Before anyone says, “wait a minute Mike, Peter takes positions in the article with which  your previous posts have disagreed – what’s up?” What’s up is that you haven’t been paying attention (or I haven’t repeated it sufficiently!). I wasn’t taking any positions in my prior posts (none of them), only bringing to your attention the interpretive difficulties and ambiguities in the passage.

I’ll summarize how Peter handles the specific issues we’ve been chatting about below. In a nutshell, he sees Daniel 9:24-27 as entirely messianic – no antichrist is in view – and already fulfilled. Again, this is well presented and well-argued (that is, every element has exegetical support). What this means is that, for Peter, the passage is about Jesus, his first coming, his vicarious death, and the destruction of the temple that was Jesus’ body AND the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD.

Peter’s article covers every facet of Daniel 9:24-27, but if we zero in on how exactly he sees what’s going on in those verses, this is his most crucial note:

Verses 25-27 are not to be read in a linear manner according to the logic of prose in the western world based upon a Greek and Roman heritage. Instead, the approach in ancient Hebrew literature is to take up a topic and develop it from a particular perspective and then to stop and start anew, taking up the same theme again from another point of view. This approach is kaleidoscopic and recursive. . . First, v. 25 introduces the first period of seven weeks and the gap of sixty-two weeks to the climactic seventieth week. This last week is described twice in verses 26 and 27. Verses 26a and 27a describe the work of the Messiah in dying vicariously to uphold a covenant with many and deal decisively with sin, thus ending the sacrificial system. Verses 26b and 27b show that ironically, supreme sacrilege against the temple at this time will result in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. Thus verses 26-27 have an A-B-A´-B´ structure:

A 26a the beneficial work of the Messiah

B 26b ruin / spoliation of the city by his people and its desolation by war

A´ 27a the beneficial work of the Messiah

B´ 27b abominations resulting in destruction of the city by one causing desolation

KEY THOUGHT at this point. Gentry argues that since the 70th week is really about the ending of the ultimate exile (the spiritual exile) of Israel and its solution – the coming of the messiah), only the events in verse 24-27 that deal specifically with the messiah are to be viewed as occurring WITHIN the last seven year period.  Other events that are fallout from what happened with Jesus can (and he says do) happen outside the last seven year week.  This is essential for his view that vv. 24-27 (in places) deals with the fall of Jerusalem at the hand of the Romans. You’d have to read the whole article for how he builds this case. *This* is the key place where Peter has to do some presupposing / make some assumptions that are critical to his own view. The literary structuring above seems to support him, though some could argue that he is using his assumption to “create” the structure as opposed to deriving his from an intended authorial structure. The real question would be this: does Peter’s structuring make better sense than someone else’s – someone who would want to take Daniel 9:24-27 as a linear chronology from v. 25 through the end of v. 27?

Here is the interpretation that results from Peter’s approach (and which is supported by a number of other items throughout the 19 page article):

v. 25

The anointed one, the Leader = THE messiah, Jesus

v. 26a (“the beneficial work of the Messiah”)

Sometime after the 69th week ends, this same anointed one (messiah, Jesus) will be “cut off” but “not for himself” (= a vicarious death not for his own benefit, but for his people).

These events occur in the last seven (week).

v. 26b (“ruin / spoliation of the city by his people and its desolation by war”)

These events are NOT within the last seven year period, but follow sometime after (note that Jesus himself had the abomination being fulfilled yet future to his own ministry in Matt 24).

The people of this Leader (the messiah) will be responsible , in the same seven year period (years 27-34 AD), for despoiling the city and the sanctuary. In other words, the Jewish people bear the responsibility for the pollution of the sanctuary (Gentry mentions a specific historical circumstance here) and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

v. 27a (“the beneficial work of the Messiah”)

This same Leader (Jesus) will “uphold a covenant with the many” (Israel).  At the halfway point of the seven (between 27-34 AD) he will cause sacrifice and offering to cease – by virtue of his vicarious sacrifice (sacrifices are no longer necessary).

v. 27b (“abominations resulting in destruction of the city by one causing desolation”)

Again, these events are NOT within the last seven year period, but follow sometime after (note that Jesus himself had the abomination being fulfilled yet future to his own ministry in Matt 24).

The “abominations” refer to the sacrilege which resulted from the struggle for the control of Jerusalem in the first century prior to 70 AD and after Jesus’ crucifixion. Gentry writes:

The “war” to refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple by Vespasian / Titus (the “one causing desolation”). The “one causing desolation” (Titus) comes “on the wing of,” i.e., in connection with, those causing “abominations” (Jews), the one (i.e., people) being desolated. Jesus’ mention of the “abomination of desolation” in the Olivet Discourse supports this understanding since he is probably speaking of the sacrilege of John of Gischala as the “abomination” which forewarns of the impending “desolation” of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans.

In regard to an antichrist figure being the referent of v. 27, Gentry does a good job showing how the language used to support that from Daniel 7 and 8 confuses and interchanges the third and fourth kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7. His thoughts here are brief but, in my view, very damaging to an antichrist identification.

While I’m sure many readers will be quite enthusiastic about the way Peter establishes the messianic character of Daniel 9:24-27, they should fully realize what it means is he is correct:

  1. Jesus us the point of reference through the entirety of Dan 9:24-27 with respect to any mention of an anointed one and a prince (“leader”) – that means there is NO BAD GUY in the passage CONNECTED TO A 70TH WEEK. The “desolation” occurring in v. 27 refers to activity AFTER the 70 weeks prophecy is history.
  2. There is no future 70th week (which pre-tribbers identify with the Great Tribulation). The 70 weeks are over.
  3. If there is an antichrist figure, that idea cannot be argued or produced from Daniel 9:24-27. That means that all the looking forward (or reading a newspaper) for the signing of a covenant with Israel to start the 70th week and “term” of the antichrist is pointless.  There may be an antichrist, but he’d sneak up on you if you were looking for him to do things described in Daniel 9. You’d never see him coming.
  4. With no seven year tribulation pending, there’s no rapture pending, since all views of the rapture see it as logically having something to do with escaping a great tribulation or separating the Church from Israel. A post-tribber might be able to weasel his/her way into viability if Gentry is right, but it would prompt the obvious question: why do you need a rapture when the old historic premill view accounts for everything here? (Historic premillennialism is the view that there is no rapture and tribulation – there is just the return of Christ to set up a literal earthly kingdom; post-tribbers would add a rapture right before the second coming – so believers go up and come right back down – seems kind of pointless, especially if there is no 70th week to account for).

So, in a nutshell, Gentry’s view is quite workable with preterism (even full preterism), as well as what used to be called “historic premillennialism”.

Again, I highly recommend reading his article.

I also mentioned two other articles that defend a messianic view. These are both by J. Paul Tanner and appear in Dallas Seminary’s journal, BibSac. Obviously, the writer would need to be pre-trib and pre-mill if writing for Dallas on prophecy, though Tanner doesn’t really get into all that in his articles. His focus is the messianic nature of Daniel 9:24-27. His articles are:

“Is Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy Messianic?” Part 1 BibSac 166 (April-June 2009): 181-200

“Is Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy Messianic?” Part 2 BibSac 166 (July-September 2009): 319-335

Next up: presuppositions and the rapture — are you a splitter or a joiner? (I’ll leave you wonder what I mean by that for now).