The Bible Monthly vol 1
We now come to the concluding portion of the prophetic time decreed upon Daniel's people and city. Seven sevens and sixty-two sevens of years extended to the introduction of the Messiah, and his rejection by the people leaving one seven of years to be fulfilled. To this period the angel next refers.
It should be carefully noted at the outset of this part of the paper that during the whole of the seventy weeks the anomalous condition of the people in Daniel's day would remain. The nation of Israel would be Lo-Ammi throughout, disowned of Jehovah, while the sovereignty of the Gentiles over the Jews would also continue throughout. In conformity with this policy towards the nation the angel calls them, in speaking to Daniel, "thy people," and shews him that the answer to his prayer would be deferred; for the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple of God were to abide until the seventy weeks have expired.
The language of the angel Gabriel is much compressed, and is couched in general terms. There are in consequence some difficulties in the interpretation of the details of this part of the prophecy especially. But it seems clear that the following events are therein foretold to occur after the sixty-nine weeks and the cutting off of the Messiah :—
It may be appropriate to make a remark or two in connection with each of these heads.
THE PEOPLE OF THE COMING PRINCE.
(1) The event named to follow first after the cutting off of the Messiah the Prince is a further destruction of the city of Jerusalem and of the holy place by the people of the prince that shall come : " And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Now we have seen that the starting-point of Daniel's seventy weeks was the Persian edict to restore and to build Jerusalem. It is now revealed that after the sixty-nine weeks Jerusalem would again be destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar was the agent of its first destruction ; who would be the agent in the second case ?
This the word of the angel answers in precise terms—" the people of the prince that shall come." Who is this prince? Gabriel had previously announced the advent of Messiah the Prince and His untimely death. If Messiah were in view in the second clause, it would imply that the people of Messiah, that is, the Jews would destroy their own city and the sanctuary. This, however, cannot be the meaning, for no scripture ever suggests that the Jews will turn against the city of the sepulchres of their fathers. The prince that shall come, therefore, if not the Messiah nor indeed a Jew at all, will be a Gentile prince.
Since this destruction was to occur after the crucifixion of the Messiah, we must conclude that the people of that prince would be of the fourth empire, under whose jurisdiction and by whose civil authority the Lord Jesus was slain. It was indeed an act of righteous retribution that the Romans into whose hands the Jews delivered their Christ to be crucified should come and take away their place and nation (John xi. 48). The Lord Himself foresaw the imminent doom of the guilty city even as He offered Himself to them as the King of Zion. Weeping- at the prospect, He lamented, " If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day , the things which belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes. 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 xix. 41-44). The Lord spoke also on a subsequent occasion of the future demolition of the temple (Luke xxi. 5, 6).
The fulfilment of this clause of the prophecy seems to have been when Jerusalem was compassed by the armies of Titus, the Roman general, in A.D. 70, captured b y them, and burned.. This act is ascribed to the people of the coming prince, and not to the prince himself. It is therefore to be understood that the prince is a notable personage yet to come. He will be the head of the Roman empire when it is revived in its last days, and he is spoken of in other parts of the prophetic word under other descriptive titles. For instance, he is the beast whom John saw rising out of the sea (Rev. xiii. 1-10).
Here in Daniel no distinctive features of the prince are mentioned, but it is gathered that he will be eminent as such. He is not himself associated with the sack of Jerusalem, though his people are. As the great head of the. Gentile civil power he is a contrast with a 's well as an enemy to Jesus Christ who is the true Prince of the kings of the earth—the Prince of princes (Rev. i. 5; Dan. viii. '25).
(2) The angel spoke of the end, and of what would be' the character of the painful experiences of the Jews up to the end. " And the end thereof shall be with an overflow. and unto the end, war,—the desolations determined " or " the determined [portion] of desolations." The end would be with a flood, or overflow, and until the end war would continue and also the desolations which Daniel hoped might cease in his day.
The end refers to the close of the age which commenced with the supremacy of Nebuchadnezzar and which will go on so long as the Gentile rule remains in the ascendant and Israel is servant to the nations. Daniel, like every godly Jew of his day and of succeeding days, anxiously sought for light upon the termination of this servile condition. So the disciples asked the Lord, " What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered . . . then shall the end come " (Matt. xxiv. 3-14). And after His resurrection they said, " Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? " (Acts i. 6). In Daniel the phrase, " the time of the end," recurs noticeably (Dan, viii. 17; xi. 35, 40; xii. 4, 9). The end therefore means the conclusion of that period called elsewhere " the times of the Gentiles."
In the Revised Version we find the reading, " and his end shall be with a flood," making the end to refer to that of the coming prince (cf. xi. 15) instead of that of the period. Even if this rendering be accepted, the general result will be unal6tered, since the end of the seventy weeks will coincide with the destruction of the Roman prince, the beast who is destroyed with the false prophet by the Lord Himself as the Warrior King from heaven (Rev. xix. 20). But internal considerations appear to favour the translation given by J. N. D.
The end, however, will be accompanied by a flood or an overflow. This is a figure well-known in the prophets, and used to signify overwhelming destruction by invading hostile armies. See, for example. Isaiah viii. 7, -8; x. 22; xxviii. 2, 15 ; Jer. xlvii. 2 ; Dan. xi. 22, 26. It may also be allusive to the deluge of Noah's day, when , the overflowing flood of waters swept away the corrupt and the ungodly, and thus purified the world that then was. No doubt the overflow or flood mentioned by Gabriel has reference to the invasion of the holy land by the Assyrian, or the king of the north in the last days, and we learn therefore that the final deliverance of the Jews from their troubles will be deferred until this predicted invasion has been accomplished.
Until that time war will continue. This state corresponds with the warning by the Lord of the wars and rumours which will prevail until the end comes (Matt. xxiv. 3-14). Desolations upon the guilty city will also remain until the end. Their extent and their intensity are, however, fully pre-determined. The uttermost farthing of the great debt of the people must be paid, but nothing beyond this will be exacted from them.
THE COVENANT FOR ONE WEEK.
(3) The outlook indicated in verse 26 was as far as the end of the age and of the seventy weeks. The following verse relates to the final week of the series, immediately preceding the end, as it does. The angel first says, " And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week."
Who is the person now mentioned ? He confirms a covenant, or in the words of the R. V., makes a firm covenant, with the many. Only two persons are mentioned in this prophecy, viz.: (1) Messiah, the Prince, and (2) the prince whose people destroy Jerusalem. The person named cannot be the Messiah, since we nowhere read that the new covenant which He will introduce for the houses of Israel and Judah will be for one week only. On the contrary, His covenant will be an everlasting one (Jer. xxxi. 31-34 ; xxxii. 40). The easy natural interpretation of the passage is that the treaty-maker is the prince that shall come, that is, the future prince of the fourth or Roman empire who will grant facilities to the Jews for the re-establishment of their national worship, with protection from their adversaries, the term of this league or covenant to be for one week or for seven years.
This compact is to be made, not with the whole of the Jews, but with " the many," that is, with the majority of the people in contrast with the minority, or the " little flock." Reference to the many as distinct from the remnant of faithful ones is also made in xi. 33 and xii. 3.
It will be observed that the new translations do not support the rendering in the Authorised Version of " the covenant," which has led some to suppose Jeremiah's covenant is meant in the passage.
THE BREAK IN THE CONTINUITY OF THE WEEKS.
From the construction of this prophecy it is clear that an interval exists between the expiration of the sixty-nine weeks and the commencement of the last of the seventy. It ought to be no matter of surprise to us that the crucifixion of their Messiah by the Jews should be the occasion of a vast disturbance in the calendar of prophecy. Jews and Gentiles being alike guilty, God was pleased to exercise the sovereignty of His grace and call out a people for the heavenly kingdom of His Son. This is proceeding in the present interval of His long-suffering, the consummation of the earthly dispensations being deferred in consequence.
There has therefore been already a period of nearly two thousand years between, the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week. The delay is due to the awful sin of the Jews, although God has turned even this to account through the preaching of the gospel of His grace. Although deliverance seemed so near at the advent of the Messiah, the mighty work could not be wrought because of the unbelief and animosity of the nation. There was similar delay at the end of the seventy years of Babylon's supremacy when to Daniel deliverance seemed so near (ix. 2). The prophet was shown, however, that there must be postponement of this deliverance on account of the iniquity of the people. Accordingly while under Ezra and Nehemiah the temple was restored and the city rebuilt, the Jews still remained subservient to Gentile rule. They remained too the same stiff-necked and perverse generation; and this unchanged obduracy of the people was again proved when the Day-spring from on high visited them, for they even made use of the lawless hands of the Gentiles to which they themselves were in bondage to secure His crucifixion.
" If the Jews, and Jerusalem in that her day, had repented, all was ready for her re-establishment in glory. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could have been raised up, as Lazarus had been. But she knew not the day of her visitation, and the fulfilling of the seventy weeks, as well as the blessing that should follow had necessarily to be postponed. Through grace we know that God had yet more excellent thoughts and purposes, and that man's state was such that this could not have been, as the event proved."
There are other instances in scripture of unnamed intervals occurring between events named in juxtaposition. Thus, the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance are mentioned together by Isaiah (Isa. lxi. 2), but only one of the two is fulfilled (Luke iv. 19-21). So also Peter quotes the verse of the Psalm which states that the face of the Lord is against them that do evil (1 Pet. iii. 12), but he does not add the remainder of the verse which predicts summary vengeance upon them (Ps. xxxiv. 16). The latter clause has yet to be fulfilled.
THE FINAL WEEK.
As the commencement of the seventy weeks was to be marked by the issue of the edict to restore and build Jerusalem, so the commencement of the seventieth week will be marked by the alliance of the Roman prince with the Jews for their help and protection. Both of these acts of the Gentile rulers were outwardly of a friendly character towards the outcast people.
It has been thought by some that this final week will begin its course directly the church is removed at the rapture. If this were so, then the church being caught up to-day, the covenant would be signed with the prince of the revived Roman empire to-morrow. This is not possible, and is inconsistent with the series of preparatory judgments which are foretold in the Apocalypse (Rev. vi. etc.) as preceding the appearance of the beast which emerges from the sea (Rev. xiii.). The seal-judgments have no connexion with the events of Daniel's last week, except so far as they are prefatory to the coming of the head of the resuscitated Western empire. Then at his appearance the unbelieving mass of the Jews will be in their own land with a polity of their own, organized to the extent that they can enter into an agreement with this prince for their own, protection. Thus they will resume their subjection to that Gentile power under which they crucified their Messiah, that power which is now non-existent, but which will re-appear for the fulfilment of this prophecy.
There is good ground, therefore, for expecting an interval to occur between the translation of the church and the beginning of Daniel's seventieth week. As there was a transitional and uncounted period between the death of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem, so there may be a transitional and uncounted period between the rapture and the final week of the desolations of Jerusalem.
THE BREACH OF THE COVENANT.
(4) " And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease." The patronage of the Roman prince continues for three and a half years only, then he uses his authority over the Jews to forbid the offering of further sacrifice. From this clause we understand that the people will have returned to their own land and their ancient ritual restored. As these sacrifices will be offered and the feasts kept in unbelief, they will not be acceptable to Jehovah, and the people will in point of fact prepare themselves to receive the abominations of idolatry in a degree never known before, and thus ripen themselves for the unsparing judgments of the Lord.
The covenant with the head of the Roman empire appears to be referred to by the prophet Isaiah as a covenant with death and an agreement with hell (Isa. xxviii. 18). We gather from this prophecy that the covenant will be undertaken by the Jews for political reasons. They are in dread of a threatened incursion into their territory of the northern Assyrian power of that day. They seek therefore the protection of the Roman imperial power against the overflowing scourge, that is, the Eastern nations, who will then be massing against the Western. But the covenant will be disannulled by the Roman Prince, and in concert with Antichrist the nominal worship of God in Palestine will be proscribed?, and the abomination of desolation set up in the temple (Dan. xii. 11 ; Matt. xxiv. 15 ; Mark xiii. 14).
(5) The next clause presents difficulties of translation, although its general significance is undoubted. J. N. D. translated it, " Because of the protection of the abominations [there shall be] a desolator." In the R. V. we have, " Upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate."
The original word, translated " overspreading " in the A. V., is so rendered in that place alone. It signifies wing, which is often used figuratively for shelter or protection, such as a bird affords to its young (Ps. xvii. 8; xxxvi. 7; lvii. 1; lxi. 4; lxiii.7 ; xci. 4). This, as will be seen, is the sense given to the word by J. N. D.
The translation of the Revisers seems to convey the sense that as a bird is carried on its wings to its destination, so the desolator is brought to Jerusalem because of the abominations. This is true in itself, but perhaps is not the correct turn of the passage.
The abomination will be set up in the temple at Jerusalem under the power of the Roman beast and the Antichrist jointly, and men will be forced into idolatrous worship under the pain of death (Rev. xiii. 15). For idolatry of the very worst type will then be practised in the holy city under the auspices of the Roman 'prince that shall come and of the Antichrist or the false Messiah, that Jewish prince and prophet whom, coming in his own name, the Jews will accept. Because of this protection of abominations in Jerusalem, there shall be, said Gabriel, a desolator, that is one who makes desolate.
This desolator will be a foreign power used of God as a scourge upon the guilty city. It will be a descendant of an ancient enemy of the people, in the Assyrian king of the north (Dan. xi.), who will attack the " pleasant land " as the executor of the vengeance of God upon Jerusalem and the Jews. Pear of this power drove them three and a half years before to make an alliance with the Roman prince which will prove unavailing. Their " refuge of lies " will be swept away, and the waters will overflow their hiding-place.
It has been suggested that the clause might be translated, " Because of the protection by the abominations, there shall be a desolator " instead of, " Because of the protection of the abominations, etc."
The interpretation of the passage which has already been given is that on account of the shelter and encouragement of idolatry at Jerusalem by the Jews as the responsible religious power, and by the Romans as a power of civilization, God will send upon them a desolator, that is, another worldpower which will inflict desolation upon them, because of their protection of the abominations.
The alternative meaning suggested is that because the Jews will in that day forsake the protection afforded by the Lord God Almighty for that by the abomination, that is, the wing of Jehovah for the wing of the idol, God will send the desolator upon them. The desolation that will follow will show them how vain a thing it is to trust in the shelter of such a wing.
We invite our readers to consider both suggestions very carefully. Whatever is the exact nature of the sin, the desolator is the executor of God's providential judgment upon that sin.
(6) Again, as at the close of verse 26, the angel refers to the end, to that time to which Daniel with such eagerness looked forward, when the anger and fury of the Lord would be turned away from His city Jerusalem and His holy mountain : " Until the consumption [or, consummation], and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate."
The word rendered consumption, or consummation, is used elsewhere to express the execution of Divine judgments to the full. Thus we read in Isaiah, " For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, [only] a remnant of them shall return : the consumption determined shall overflow in righteousness. For a consumption, and [one] determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, accomplish in the midst of all the land " ; " I have heard from the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, a consumption, and lone] determined, upon the whole land " (Isa. x. 22, 23; xxviii. 22; J. N. D.). In Jeremiah the same word is translated " full end " in several passages (Jer. iv. 27; v. 10, 18; xxx. tit; xlvi. 28). The meaning of the prophecy is that the avenging judgments executed by the desolator will form the consummation or climax of God's governmental retribution.
At this point, the judgments decreed upon the nation will be entirely exhausted, although the nation itself will not be fully consumed. All that was fore-ordained will then have been poured out upon the desolate, that is, upon Jerusalem (see Isa. xi. 2; 1; liv. 1; lxii. 4).
Then the desolations of Zion will be finished, and that prophecy will be fulfilled which says to her, " Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken ; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate ; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the LORD delighteth in thee " (Isa. lxii. 4).