FUTURE OR FULFILLED ? (PART 2)
Having presented what we believe to be the true interpretation of
the 70th week prophecy, we will now examine the FUTURIST
interpretation. In order for the 70th week to be future, those
who hold this position insert a gigantic "gap" of about 2,000
years or so between the 69th and the 70th week. According to
this, the 70th week does not follow the 69th week in logical
Those who believe that the 70th week is future teach that the
confirming of the covenant for one "week" refers to a covenant
the Antichrist will make with the Jews. According to this inter-
pretation, the Antichrist will make a seven year agreement in
which he will allow the Jews to offer sacrifices in a rebuilt
Jewish temple at Jerusalem. But then in the middle of the week,
he will break this covenant and cause sacrifices to cease.
But does the prophecy ever mention or refer to Antichrist?
According to the futurist interpretation, the Antichrist is
referred to in Daniel 9:27. Let us look again at the prophecy.
Verse 26: "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself: and the
people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and
the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and
unto the end of the war desolations are determined."
Verse 27: "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:"
We notice that verse 27 begins with these words: "And he..."
To whom does the pronoun "he" refer? This is important. There is
not any way that "he" could refer to Antichrist, for the Anti-
Christ is nowhere mentioned in the context! The context does
mention a "prince" whose people would destroy the city and the
sanctuary. Since that destruction came in 70 A.D.as both sides
recognize - we see no reason to assume the "prince" is someone
who will live 2,000 years later.
But regardless of this, we know that the pronoun "he" is not to
be connected with the word "prince" in the expression "the people
of the prince", for the word "prince" is here the object of the
modifying clause "of the prince." A pronoun cannot properly
have as its antecedent the object of a modifying clause. This
point should be carefully noted.
From the very structure of the sentence we know that "he" cannot
be linked with the clause "the people of the prince that shall
come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Taking this into
consideration, there is only one person in the entire passage to
whom the pronoun "he" can be correctly connected and that is
MESSIAH! It is the Messiah who is the subject of the passage and
to whom "he" refers.
The essence of the passage, then, is this: "Messiah shall be cut
off... he shall confirm the covenant... he shall cause the
sacrifice and oblation to cease:" As we have seen, this was
fulfilled by Jesus Christ who confirmed the covenant and put an
end to sacrifices (in God's program) by himself becoming the
But let us suppose for a moment that "he" of verse 27 could be
connected to the word "prince" in the phrase "the people of the
prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary."
Would this in any way infer that this prince is an individual of
the future? Hardly; for it is well known that the people that
destroyed Jerusalem were the Roman armies under the direction of
Titus. Those who hold the futurist viewpoint, however, while
admitting that the "people" that destroyed Jerusalem were the
Roman armies in 70 A.D., must teach that the "prince" of those
people has not yet appeared! Thus they separate the "prince" from
his "people" by about 2,000 years.
Ironside, for example, says: "A prince is in view who is yet to
play a large part in prophecy. He, however, HAS NOT APPEARED YET,
but his people, that is, the Roman people, were used as a scourge
of God to punish Israel for their sins, and they destroyed
Jerusalem and the Temple:"
De Haan says: "The prince here mentioned is a prince who has NOT
Kelly says: "That prince has NEVER YET COME ... His people came
and destroyed the city and the sanctuary; but he himself is not
We have actually read dispensational books which quote the clause
"the prince that SHALL come", as though the use of the word
"shall" meant that the coming of this prince is still future! The
coming of the prince was future in Daniel's time, of course, but
so was the destruction of the city and sanctuary: "The people
of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the
sanctuary." How inconsistent to take a statement that was future
when written, and now - over 2,000 years later - assume that the
prophecy is yet future on the basis that the word "shall" appears
The passage does not say - as some imply - that the "people" were
to come at one time and their "prince" at a later time. The idea
is inconsistent on the surface. According to this awkward
interpretation, the "people" belonged to a prince who was not to
appear for about 2,000 years after the people themselves had
perished. How could the Roman armies of Titus possibly be
regarded as the people of a prince who has not even yet appeared?
How is it that the prince gets separated from his people by
Assuming that "he" of Daniel 9:27 refers to the Antichrist, those
who hold the futurist interpretation teach that he will make a
covenant with the Jews - an agreement which will allow them to
offer sacrifices in a rebuilt Jewish temple. But as Guinness has
well said: "Few would suppose that the notion has really NO SOLID
GROUND AT ALL IN SCRIPTURE, but is derived from an erroneous
interpretation of one single clause of one single text!"
Nevertheless, dispensational writings repeatedly make statements
about Antichrist, about his supposed covenant, about restored
sacrifices in a Jewish temple at Jerusalem, and then quote as the
proof text Daniel 9:27; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 9:27 -
over and over it is given as the reference for all kinds of
theories about the Antichrist and his supposed treaty with the
Jews! Take the following quotations for example:
"A treaty is proposed (Daniel 9:27)... the new Temple is set up,
and once more the Jewish people follow the statutes of the Old
Testament (Daniel 9:2;). But in the midst of the week, the
Antichrist proceeds at once to tear up the treaty, and to lay
plans to shed every drop of Jewish blood" (Orr, Antichrist,
Armageddon, the End of the World, pp. 22-24).
"Antichrist will guarantee the Jews seven years of peace (Daniel
9:27)" (Estep, Jacob's Trouble, p.26).
"He will make a treaty with the Jews, allowing them to... rebuild
their temple, and begin anew their Old Testament sacrifices
(Daniel 9:27)" (Rice, The Coming Kingdom of Christ, p.123).
"...Antichrist makes a covenant with the mass of apostate Jews.
Daniel 9:27. After three and a half years he breaks this
covenant... and sets up in the Holy of Holies of the renewed
temple, what is called... 'the abomination of desolation.' Daniel
9:27." (Boyd, ages and Dispensations, p.69).
"According to Daniel 9:27, Antichrist will be here for seven
years, for he makes a seven-year covenant with Israel, which will
be the last seven years of this age" (Dake's Annotated Reference
The fact is, Daniel 9:27 says nothing about the Antichrist, says
nothing about a covenant between the Antichrist and the Jews,
says nothing about a future rebuilt temple or future sacrifices!
There are over 280 references to "covenant" in the scriptures and
NOT ONE of them in any way introduces the idea of a covenant
being made between the Jews and the Antichrist. Yet to hear some
tell it, we might suppose that this theory of Antichrist making a
seven year covenant with the Jews is as much a Biblical fact as
God's covenant with Israel at Sinai!
Dispensational writers constantly use the word "MAKE" when
speaking about this supposed covenant between the Antichrist and
the Jews. Notice the following quotations: "This covenant the
Roman prince will MAKE with the many" (Gaebelein). 'Daniel's
'prince that shall come'... MAKES a covenant with 'many'...
permitting the restoration of the temple service "(Scofield).
"... when God takes up Israel again... a Roman prince will arise
who will MAKE a covenant with the nation for seven years"
"The Bible tells us that the Antichrist shall MAKE a covenant
with Israel." (Roberts).
"Antichrist will MAKE... a covenant with Israel." (Dake), etc.
This whole idea that Antichrist will MAKE a covenant with the
Jews is supposedly taught in Daniel 9:27. But where does Daniel
9:27 say anything about the Antichrist - or anyone else for that
matter! - "MAKING" a covenant? It is not there. The verse says
the covenant would be CONFIRMED, or (as some translate it), the
covenant would PREVAIL. Daniel 9:27 says nothing about a covenant
Nevertheless, once it is assumed that the Antichrist will MAKE a
covenant with the Jews, it is then taught that he will later
BREAK it. Dispensational writings time and time again talk about
how the Antichrist will MAKE and then BREAK his covenant? It
should be noticed, however, that neither term - MAKE or BREAK -
appears in the text!
Daniel 9:27 says: "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." Once a person has the idea
in mind that this verse is talking about Antichrist and that the
Antichrist will BREAK the covenant, then it is but another step
to assume something else that destroys the true meaning
altogether. Since sacrifices were to cease in the midst of the
week, it is assumed that the covenant has to do with animal
sacrifices in a rebuilt Jewish temple of the future! This is all
based on mere assumption.
The text says the covenant will be confirmed for a "week" - seven
years. Then mention is made of an event that will take place in
the MIDDLE of the seven years: sacrifice and oblation will cease.
THERE IS NO REASON WHATSOEVER TO ASSUME THAT THE SECOND EVENT IS
THE UNDOING OF THE FIRST. To assume this actually makes the two
statements contradictory. If the covenant is about allowing
animal sacrifices and if such sacrifices cease in the middle of
the week, then it is evident that the covenant would NOT prevail
for seven years!
It is only after a person has the idea in mind that the covenant
will be broken - which the text does NOT say - that any one would
ever conclude that the covenant has to do with restored
Briefly stated, the futurist position is that (1) Daniel 9:27
refers to the Antichrist, (2) the Antichrist will make a covenant
allowing the Jews to offer sacrifices, (3) he will break his
covenant, and (4) the prophecy of the 70th week is entirely
The truth of the matter is: (1) Antichrist is nowhere mentioned
in the passage, (2) nothing is said to indicate that a covenant
will be made concerning restored sacrifices, (3) nothing is said
about a covenant being broken, and (4) the 70th week is not
future, but has been fulfilled!
The covenant was to prevail with Daniel's people for the "week" -
seven years - which it did through Christ. In the midst of the
"week", Christ caused the sacrifice to cease in the divine
program by himself becoming the perfect sacrifice for sins for
Those who believe that the 70th week is yet future, however,
argue that the covenant of Daniel 9:27 cannot refer to the
covenant of Christ, for his covenant is an "everlasting
covenant", where as this covenant is only seven years in length.
But Daniel 9:27 does not say that the covenant is seven years in
length! What it does say is that the covenant would be confirmed
or prevail with the many of Daniel's people for the "week", that
is, seven years. It is not a matter of how long the covenant
itself would last, but how long the covenant would be CONFIRMED
The covenant of Christ is truly an everlasting covenant and for
seven years it was confirmed with "the many" of Daniel's people -
for three and a half years by Messiah, in person; then for three
and a half years by his disciples.
Those who hold the futurist interpretation do not apply the
expression "to anoint the most Holy" (verse 24) to Jesus Christ.
They believe this refers to the anointing of a holy place - a
future rebuilt Jewish temple. It is generally pointed out that
the term here translated "most Holy" appears 44 times in the
original scriptures and is used exclusively of things and places,
not of persons. However, in at least two passages it is used in
reference to consecrated persons: Lev.27:28,29; 1 Chron.23:13 RV.
But as Hewitt has well said: "Even if 'most Holy' were never used
of persons as such, it is doubtful if the Messianic
interpretation would be seriously weakened. For Jesus called his
body the 'temple' of God." (Hewitt, The Seer of Babylon - studies
in the book of Daniel, p.258).
"Destroy this temple", Jesus said, "and in three days I will
raise it up... He spake of his body" (John 2:19, 21). We believe
it was this "temple" that was anointed to bring about the purpose
of God in the earth. The very title "Christ" means "the anointed
one." And since we have plain scriptural testimony that at the
time of his manifestation to Israel he was anointed with the
Spirit, we believe he is the one referred to as the "most Holy"
in this prophecy.
Could a future rebuilt temple be more holy than Jesus? Surely
Jesus is greater than any temple that could ever be built by men.
Jesus himself said, "But I say unto you, that in this place is
one greater than the temple" (Mt.12:6).
Some have pointed out that the anointing of the "most holy" could
have reference to the church, since the church - which is now the
temple of the Holy Spirit (Eph.2:20-22) - was anointed with the
Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). But whether we think of Christ
himself as being anointed with the Spirit at Jordan, or his
spiritual body being anointed at Pentecost, there is no conflict
of meaning. Since we have definite scriptural proof that Christ
was anointed and so was his church - both within the time limits
specified - either interpretation would not be out of harmony
with the prophecy. But under no circumstances do we see any basis
for jerking this phrase "to anoint the most Holy" out of its
setting and applying it to a supposed future Jewish temple.
The fact is, no future temple can be found in the prophecy of
Daniel 9. The prophecy that was given to Daniel spoke of the
temple being restored, which it was. The prophecy also stated
that the temple would be completely destroyed, which it was.
Nothing is said about any other temple whatsoever. Nevertheless,
those who hold the futurist interpretation must fit another
temple, a future temple, an unmentioned temple, into their
Just why God would "anoint" a temple in which carnal sacrifices
would be offered in direct conflict with what was accomplished at
Calvary cannot be satisfactorily explained by those who hold the
All together there are six things in Daniel 9:24 that were to be
fulfilled in connection with the Seventieth Week: to finish
transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for
iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up
vision and prophecy, to anoint the most Holy. Those who hold the
futurist interpretation - that the 70th week is yet future and
that the anointing of the most holy refers to the anointing of a
future Jewish temple - tell us these six things have not been
Dake, for example, says: "The six events of verse 24 have not
been fulfilled." (Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, p.877; etc.).
The futurist teaching is that these things will happen during the
70th week which they believe is yet future?
H.A.Ironside, a noted dispensational writer,says these things
were not fulfilled because Israel did not accept the Messiah and
so God postponed the 70th week until a future time! "Israel did
not recognize their Messiah. They do not know him yet as their
sinbearer. Their transgression has not been finished. They do not
know anything yet of atonement for iniquity. Everlasting
righteousness has not been brought in. Vision and prophecy have
not been sealed up. The most Holy has not been anointed by the
return of the Shekinah. What then?... Between the sixty-ninth and
the seventieth weeks we have a Great Parenthes which has now
lasted over nineteen hundred years. The seventieth week has been
postponed by God himself who changes the times and the seasons
because of the transgression of the people... The moment Messiah
died on the cross, the prophetic clock stopped. There has not
been a tick upon that clock for nineteen centuries: (Ironside,
The Great Parenthesis, p.23).
According to this reasoning, the Jews did not recognize the
Messiah, do not know him yet as their sinbearer, do not know
anything of atonement, and so the 70th week had to be postponed.
The fact is that "many" Israelites did accept Christ, did
recognize him as their atonement and sinbearer. But whether the
nation of Israel accepted him or not, does not change the fact
that at Calvary the atonement was made! Since Christ did make
atonement at Calvary - and since Christians believe that Calvary
was a complete work - in what possible sense can these things be
fulfilled in some future period of time?
We agree with the words of George Murray: "It is not without
sorrow of heart, therefore, that we listen to men, whose
sincerity we do not question, emphasizing... that an end is not
made of sin, that everlasting righteousness is yet to be brought
in, and going so far as to attribute to a wicked Antichrist that
which our glorious Lord has brought about by His sacrifice on the
cross, the abolition of the oblation and sacrifice" Murray,
Millennial studies, pp. 104-105).
Probably the most glaring discrepancy to the futurist
interpretation of the 70th week is the way it requires a huge
"gap" between the 69th and 70th week. With all due kindness to
those who have taught and believed this, we feel that such a gap
is unscriptural, unfounded, and contradictory. We wonder how some
can so positively point out that the 69 weeks which measured unto
Messiah followed each other in logical order - but then jump over
about 2,000 years and place the 70th week at the end of the age.
All of the other "weeks" followed each other in sequence as
continuous, consecutive weeks.. No "gaps" are allowed between
Why then separate the 70th from the 69th week by a gap of 2,000
years? Since when doesn't 70 follow 69?
To teach that the prophecy could have such a "gap" is to teach
that we could also put gaps in other places and instead of the
prophecy counting unto Messiah - as it so wonderfully does! - it
could be applied to anyone, just depending on how many years we
might choose to put in a "gap"! Such methods would destroy the
very meaning and purpose for which this TIME - prophecy was
The "gap theory" is like telling a man who is about to make a
journey of 70 miles that he will find the first 69 miles con-
secutive miles but as he completes the 69th mile, he will find a
sign telling him that the 70th or last mile is about 2,000 miles
down the road!
Or suppose two men are leaving Los Angeles to drive to Chicago.
The one man asks the driver: "How far is it to Chicago?"
"Seventy miles", the driver answers. But after they drive 69
miles, they are far from Chicago. They are still in California,
"Didn't you tell me it was 70 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago?"
"Well, it is 70 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago", the driver
replies, "but there is a gap, a great parenthesis, of 2,000 miles
that I didn't tell you about. You see, the oedometer is set so
that it registers only the first 69 miles and then stops. When we
have driven another 2,000 miles and start the final mile into
Chicago, then it will start again and tick out the 70th mile!"
Or the gap theory has been likened to a man with a yardstick who
cut off the last inch and attached a piece of elastic between
the 35th and 36th inches. Then he could stretch the 36th inch out
as far as he wanted from the 35th inch. He could make it fit
about any length he wanted! But in so doing, he defeated the very
purpose for which the yardstick was intended! We believe the same
inconsistency is involved in the futurist practice of separating
the 70th week from the 69th week by a gap of 2,000 years or so.
There are three basic periods contained within the 70th week
prophecy. The first segment of seven "weeks" (49 years) was taken
up with the work of rebuilding Jerusalem; the next segment of
time, 62 "weeks" (434 years), was to reach unto Messiah; and the
final time period was one "week" (7 years). We have, then,
periods of 49 years, 434 years, and 7 years. Even the strongest
advocates of a "gap" between the 69th and 70th weeks do not
permit any gap between the 49 years and the 434 years. Kelly, for
example, states: "The first sixty-nine weeks ran without a break
... uninterrupted" (Kelly, Daniel's Seventy Weeks, pp. 17,20).
If no gap is allowed between the 49 years and the 434 years, why
should any be placed between the 434 years and the final 7 years?
The term "seventy weeks" is plural, but the Hebrew verb which is
translated "determined" is singular. The actual wording (though
it would be awkward to translate it this way into English) is
this: "Seventy weeks, IS [not are] determined/upon thy people and
upon thy holy city." BARNES says: "In regard to the construction
here - the singular verb with a plural noun... The true meaning
seems to be, that the seventy weeks are spoken of collectively as
denoting a period of time; that is: a period of seventy weeks is
determined. The prophecy, in the use of the singular verb, seems
to have contemplated the time, not as separate weeks, or as
particular portions, but as one period" (Barnes' notes on Daniel,
p.372). "The verb being in the singular number indicates the
unity or singleness of this entire period" (Lange Commentary,
Vol. on Daniel, p. 188). The fact that the 70 weeks were regarded
as a whole is surely evidence against the idea that a huge gap of
2,000 years was intended between the 69th and 70th week.
The seventy weeks prophecy was given to Daniel as something he
could "understand" (Dan.9:25). Daniel knew nothing of any gaps or
stopped clocks! The fact is that the 70th week followed the 69th
in logical order and the events of the 70th week have been
fulfilled perfectly and wonderfully!
The earliest record we have of anyone holding the belief that a
gap was intended between the 69th and 70th week is found in the
writings of Hippolytus. This was not until the third century.
Hippolytus is believed to be the first to advance this teaching!
However, the fact that Hippolytus held a gap theory can add
little weight to the present-day dispensational view, for his
interpretation was different in several ways. He thought that the
"weeks" measured from Cyrus to the birth of Christ. He figured
the gap would then extend until about 500 A.D., the date he set
for the Second Coming of Christ. His theory did not include the
now popular secret rapture idea, for he taught that the church
would suffer at the hands of the Antichrist. He believed the
Second Coming would bring about the destruction of Antichrist,
the resurrection of the dead, and the glorification of the saints
(Hippolytus was probably the first to fall into the error of
setting a date for the Second coming of Christ. The date 500 A.D.
was based on the 6,000 year principle and this in turn was based
on the erroneous Septuagint chronology which dated Christ's birth
as 5,500 years from the beginning) (Oh, indeed, history tells us
many silly and misguided people have tried to set dates for
Christ's return, usually based upon some fancy false
interpretation of a few verses or based upon very bad chronology
- Keith Hunt).
It was not until the rise of dispensationalism around 1830 and
since, however, that the present gap theory has been spread far
and wide - such being used in an attempt to support the secret
rapture theory. We have actually heard well meaning people argue
that there will have to be a "secret" rapture of the church seven
years before the end of the age, so Daniel's 70th week can be
fulfilled! The gap theory is often presented in such positive
tones that one might assume that it has all along been the
established view of Christians. This is not so.
Though often differing on DETAILS, especially in connection with
the chronology involved, the noted Christian leaders and
reformers through the centuries have taught that the 70 weeks
found complete fulfillment in connection with the first advent of
Christ. Africanus believed that the 70 weeks pertained to
Christ's first coming, "for in the saviour's time... are
transgressions abrogated, and sins brought to an end...
everlasting righteousness is preached." Methodius connected the
70th week with Christ's first advent. Polychronius spoke of
Christ confirming the covenant at the middle of the seventieth
week. Athanasius mentioned that the 70 weeks mark "both the
actual date, and the divine sojourn of the Saviour." He pointed
out that some might "be able to find excuses to put off what is
written to a future time. But what can they say to this... or can
they face it at all? Where not only is the Christ referred to,
but he... is declared to be not man simply, but Holy of
Eusebius placed the crucifixion in the midst of the 70th week and
speaks of the covenant as the gospel. Augustine believed the 70
week found fulfillment in Christ's first coming and did not
pertain to his second coming, for of that time no man knows the
day or hour.
Bede, in his The Explanation of the Apocalypse, the earliest
British exposition that is known, taught that the 70 weeks
pointed to Christ's first coming. John Wycliff said that "in the
last week of years our Jesus confirmed those things which he
promised the ancient fathers... when Christ preached and
Heinrich Bullinger counted the 70 weeks as reaching unto the
death of Christ. Luther linked the 70th week with the death of
Christ and stated that during the 70th week the gospel was preach
ed with power. Melanchthon figured that Jesus was crucified in
the midst of the 70th week, three and a half years after his
baptism. Calvin implied that the crucifixion occurred in the
of the 70th week, when the sacrifice and offering ended.
Ephraim Huit, writer of the first systematic exposition on Daniel
to appear in the American colonies, stated that "the last week
finishes the sacrifice of the Lord, and begins both the calling
of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews." Matthew Henry of
commentary fame regarded the 70 weeks as referring to Christ's
first coming, that during the final week the gospel was preached.
Adam Clarke wrote that "the whole of this prophecy ... has been
fulfilled to the very letter." Alexander Campbell summed it up
well in these words: "In the middle of the week he [Christ] was
to establish the New Institution... his ministry was three and a
half years, or the middle of one week; then he was cut off. And
in half a week, that is, three and a half years more Christianity
was sent to all nations. This completes the seventy weeks."
The fulfilled position has been the prevailing view of the Church
through the centuries.
Briefly now, let us notice how the two interpretations we have
discussed are in sharp contrast to each other. The futurist
position is that the 70th week is FUTURE; the fulfilled inter-
pretation is that these things are now HISTORY. The futurist
position is that ANTICHRIST will make a covenant with Israel; the
fulfilled position is that CHRIST has already confirmed the
covenant with Israel. The futurist position is that causing
sacrifices to cease will be the work of the DEVIL; the fulfilled
position is that the causing of sacrifices to cease refers to
Calvary and was the work of GOD. The futurist interpretation
requires a huge GAP; the fulfilled interpretation holds that the
weeks all followed each other in LOGICAL ORDER. The futurist
position has it that this prophecy includes a yet future RESTORED
TEMPLE; the fulfilled interpretation holds that the only temple
that was mentioned in the prophecy was one that was to be
TO BE CONTINUED