Daniel, the Temple and Christ

A while back I was in a discussion concerning the prophecies in Daniel chapters 8-9. The person I was debating, and who shall remain nameless, claimed that Daniel was delievering a prophecy of Christ, and of the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, and that we needed to assume a gap in time order to see this. Since this person cannot answer me here, as he remains nameless, I will use one of the sources he presented, “Daniels 70 Weeks” by Chuck Missler. But we’ll start by taking a look at Dan 9:24-27:

24 Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.

Missler mentiones that there is a connection between the seventy years of Jeremiah (Jer 25:11-14), and the seventy weeks of Daniel. As far as I recall, some scholars see this as an interpretation, or a midrash, on the prophecy of Jeremiah. Daniel 9 talks of seventy ‘sevens’ (cycles of sabbatical years, ie. cycles of seven years). These 70 x 7 years should then be 490 years. Now, according to Missler, there “appears to be a gap between the 69th week (verse 25) and the 70th week (verse 27).” Why is that? Primarily because he sees this text as a prophecy of Christ, primarily. He writes:

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah 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. (Daniel 9:26)

The sixty-two “weeks” follow the initial seven, so verse 26 deals with events after 69th week, but before the 70th. These events include the Messiah being killed and the city and sanctuary being destroyed.

As Jesus approached the city on the donkey, He also predicted the destruction of Jerusalem:

For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:43-44)

The Messiah was, of course, executed at the Crucifixion…”but not for Himself.”

The city and the sanctuary were destroyed 38 years later when the Roman legions under Titus Vespasian leveled the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, precisely as Daniel and Jesus had predicted. In fact, as one carefully examines Jesus’ specific words, it appears that He held them accountable to know this astonishing prophecy in Daniel 9! “Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

I think the problems with this idea is obvious. First, Missler purposefully translates the hebrew word mashiach as ‘Messiah.’ Now this word can be translated ‘Messiah,’ but the text doesn’t specify that is must. And because there is no definite article in the text, a better translation would be ‘an anointed one.’ Furthermore, there is nothing in the text to suggest that vv.26-27 is not referring to the same ‘week’ (that is, the same seven year period), namlely the 70th week. These verses state:

26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.

Missler reads this as representing two distinct things, but it seems much more reasonable to read v.27 as an additionan information, ‘filling in’ v.26. The main reason why Missler is doing this, is because he sees this text as a prophecy of Christ, primarily. And therefore he has to assume a ‘gap,’ because Christ was ‘cut off’ in approximately AD 30-33, while the temple was destroyed in AD 70. But there is another ‘solution’: The text is not necessarily a prophecy of Christ primarily, but only secondarily, derivately.

As we see above, Daniel 9 talks of seventy ‘sevens’ (cycles of sabbatical years, ie. cycles of seven year). These 70 x 7 years = 490 years, and can be divided thus:

  1. First, there will be 49 years (7×7), then an anointed one shall appear.
  2. For 434 years (62×7) the city shall stand, but times will be troubled.
  3. Then, after these 434 years, the annointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. A prince shall come and destroy the city and the sanctuary, and he shall make the covenant to be heavy for one week, seven years (7×1). He makes the covenant ‘heavier,’ i.e. harder to keep. In the middle of the week, after 3,5 years, the offerings shall cease in the temple. This is supposed to last the rest of the week, until the prince shall be destroyed.

The question now, is, what is the starting point of this prophecy? Let’s assume that it is the prophecy of Jeremiah. If one substitutes ‘high priest’ for ‘anointed one,’ this text is easy to understand: After the prophecy of Jeremiah there was 49 years until a new high priest was annointed. Then there were a long period of time (which could easily be symbolized by the 62 weeks). Then came the day when the King of the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, deposed the high priest (Onias III) and (after some time) desecrated the temple, removed the Jewish sacrifices, erected an altar for Zeus and persecuted orthodox Jews (ie. made their covenant heavy). All this before he was himself destroyed in the Maccabean revolt. And in pure joy over the cleansing of the temple, one can imaging people saying (Dan 9:24b):

to finish the transgression,
to put an end to sin,
and to atone for iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal both vision and prophet,
and to anoint a most holy place.

And this fits perfectly with Daniel 8. Here is vv. 8-14

8 Then the male goat grew exceedingly great; but at the height of its power, the great horn was broken, and in its place there came up four prominent horns toward the four winds of heaven. 9 Out of one of them came another horn, a little one, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land. 10 It grew as high as the host of heaven. It threw down to the earth some of the host and some of the stars, and trampled on them. 11 Even against the prince of the host it acted arrogantly; it took the regular burnt offering away from him and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. 12 Because of wickedness, the host was given over to it together with the regular burnt offering; it cast truth to the ground, and kept prospering in what it did. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one that spoke, “For how long is this vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled?” 14 And he answered him, “For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

I see this as a prophecy regarding Alexandre the Great. He died at the hight of his power, very young. After his death his kingdom was divided into four, one for each of his generals: the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Macedon (the four horns in the text). From one of these kingdoms (which grew to be relatively strong) the arose a king who attacked the sanctuary. I believe this interpetation of the text fits with the interpretation given by Gabriel in Dan 8:19-26:

19 He said, “Listen, and I will tell you what will take place later in the period of wrath; for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The male goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn between its eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 23 At the end of their rule, when the transgressions have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance shall arise, skilled in intrigue. 24 He shall grow strong in power, shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does. He shall destroy the powerful and the people of the holy ones. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall be great. Without warning he shall destroy many and shall even rise up against the Prince of princes. But he shall be broken, and not by human hands. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. As for you, seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

The vision points towards one king who shall come forth from one of the empires. I believe this king to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who reigned from approx. 175-164 BC). He was the king of Seleucid Empire, one of the four empires which came from the empire of Alexandre the Great. The two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings (Dan 8:14) is then literally two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, that is about 3,5 years, approx. the lenght of Antiochus’ desecration of the temple (167-164 BC). The expression in v. 14 that “the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state” refers then, as far as I am concerned, to the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC.

So all in all, I don’t think that the prophecy of Daniel 8-9 is primarily about Christ and the Antichrist, but about the Maccabeans and Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This is my interpretation. It can then refer to Christ, with Judas Maccabeus as a type, a shadow, of Christ himself.

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