It has been shown that Daniel’s seventy weeks divided into seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week could not have literally been 490 years (a “year for a day” which would equal 70 x 7 or 490). This would have covered the time of the beginning of the first seven weeks (Cyrus’ edict allowing the Jews to return to Judea) to the final week (the destruction of Jerusalem A.D. 70). This stretch of time would amount to at least 600 years.
Instead, the division of the seventy weeks into three groups of years (7, 62, 1) were periods of time, complete in themselves. The first period (seven weeks), extended from about 536 B.C. to Nehemiah’s completion of Jerusalem’s walls (444 B.C.). The second period (sixty-two weeks) extended from the completion of Jerusalem’s walls to the advent of the Messiah. The third period of time extended from the Messiah to the destruction of Jerusalem (one week). Daniel was shown that Judah would cease as a nation (70 A.D.) but not as a people.
While today all of Daniel’s prophecies are important, the final week is of greatest interest to us because we are impacted by its events. The passage of singular importance to us reads, “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy … and after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary … desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wings of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate …” (Dan. 9:24-27). We will pass over verse 24 but will return to it for a final article. Our attention in this article will be the concluding verses of the chapter. Dan. 9:25-27 tell us that in that final week the “anointed one” shall be cut off and have nothing; the prince of the people shall come and destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end thereof shall be with a flood; “he” shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; in the midst of the week he will cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; that on the wings of abominations will one come that makes desolate, even to the full end; and, wrath will be poured out on the desolate or possibly on him who makes desolate — as a variant reading from the NIV indicates.
Look at these six items which were destined to occur 600 or more years after this vision was given to Daniel. First, “the anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.” Looking back to Daniel 9:24, one of seven things decreed for the city was that during the final week, the “most holy” was to be anointed: A statement many believe refers to Christ. We believe that conclusion is correct. This harmonizes with verse 25 which describes the period of the sixty-two weeks as extending from the completion of Jerusalem’s walls until “the anointed one, the prince” will come. This is a clear reference to the Messiah, the “anointed one,” and correlates with verse 26 which says that the “anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing.”
Thus, if the Messiah is the “anointed one” which He is, then why is not the expression “to anoint the most holy” a reference to Him who has “been anointed”? In v. 26 where it is said that “the anointed shall be cut off and shall have nothing,” the fulfillment of this was found in the crucifixion of Jesus and His penniless state, a final draining and emptying of Himself (cp. Phil. 2:4-6). He had “no place to lay his head” (Lk. 9:57). Peter got a shekel from a fish’s mouth so he could pay the tax for both him and Jesus. His disciples all “forsook him and fled” when He was arrested (Matt. 26:56). The soldiers divided his garments among themselves and He had to be buried in a borrowed tomb. Truly He was “cut off and had nothing.” During this “week” the “people of the prince shall come and shall destroy the city and the sanctuary,” telling beforehand the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (70 A.D.).
Daniel’s words (“He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week”) points to the work of Christ in His sanctifying a “new covenant” by His blood, something also foretold by prophets before. Jeremiah had written, “Behold, the days cometh, saith the Lord, when I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers …” (Jer. 31:31; cp. Heb. 8:7-12). Jesus made a firm (something that will stand) covenant with many (not all would receive Him) for one week. In “the midst of the week” He will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. The “he” refers to “the anointed one,” Christ. With the destruction of the temple, no more sacrifices could be offered. But Jesus, by His sufficient sacrifice, made future offerings for sin unnecessary. Animal blood is ineffective in removing sin (Heb. 10:4), and the blood of Jesus can permanently remove all sin (1 Pet. 1:18).
Finally, Daniel said, “Desolations are determined.” Jesus told what this desolation was: Matthew and Mark refer to Jerusalem’s destruction by Daniel (Matt. 24:1; Mk. 13:14), and Luke identifies that “abomination of desolation” as “Jerusalem compassed by armies” (21:21-22). If the variant reading of the NIV in Dan. 9:27 is correct (“one who causes desolation will place abominations on a wing of the temple until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”), then not only did Daniel prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem, but the destruction of that one who brought about that destruction. Perhaps that reading is correct, but whether so or not, the statement is true: The Roman Empire was destined to be overthrown by God.