Tag Archives: dispensationalism

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #5

The primary traditional alternative to the more modern, dispensationalist reading of Daniel 9:24-27

A more traditional alternative to the more modern, dispensationalist reading of Daniel 9:24-27.  (Image credit: sdru.org)

If you have been following this series of blog posts (#1, #2, #3, and #4), you will know that the “Seventy Weeks” of Daniel 9:24-27 makes for a very demanding study. So, as we are getting very near to Christmas, I need to wrap this blog series up, even with all of the loose ends still out there.

Thankfully, neither your salvation, nor mine, hangs in the balance with getting Daniel 9:24-27 exactly right. For example, no central doctrine of the faith is at stake, as you ponder the mysterious meaning of Scripture phrases like “the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (verse 26). But the study is well worth the effort, as it will spur you on in learning more about Biblical prophecy, just as it has done for me.

At one point in my studies, over the past two years in this passage, I ran into the following statement by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of Britain’s most brilliant and popular expositors of the 20th century. Lloyd-Jones lived in an era when many Christians tended to be very dogmatic in their particular interpretation of Daniel 9. His comments on the debate over Daniel 9’s “Seventy Weeks” are worth savoring:

I am simply trying to put before you some of the various ideas and type of interpretation, while indicating, as anyone who is concerned to teach the Scriptures must do, the interpretation that most commends itself to my mind and to my understanding. I shall continue to repeat this because it seems to me to be the most important point I can make in connection with this whole subject. If I can somehow shake the glibness and the dogmatism that has characterised this matter I shall be most pleased, and I thank God that there are signs and indications that people are prepared to consider this matter anew. It may well betoken a period of blessing in the history of the Church.” (Great Doctrines of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, The Church and the Last Things, page 119).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones has the right perspective. We are not talking about the deity of Christ, or salvation alone through Jesus, here. OKAY??? I may hold (and you may hold) to a different interpretation of a difficult passage like Daniel 9. Hopefully, believers can discuss this matter with clarity and charity towards one another, by studying the Scriptures anew. Continue reading


Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #4

Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) is remembered by many Bible students today for his contribution to the interpretation of the book of Daniel. However, in the 19th century he was also known as a high ranking official at Scotland Yard, the second Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police.

Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) is remembered by many Bible students today for his contribution to the interpretation of the book of Daniel. However, in the 19th century he was also known as a high ranking official at Scotland Yard, the second Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police.

Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” prophecy, as found in Daniel 9:24-27 is often regarded as the key text for understanding the prophecy perspective held by advocates of dispensationalism, as made popular by books and movies associated with Tim Lahaye’s Left Behind. Yet as we noted in a previous post in this series, this passage from Daniel plays actually a limited and somewhat obscure role in the New Testament, especially when compared to passages such as Psalm 110, which is quoted or alluded to some thirty times in the New Testament, as we sought to exposit earlier a few years ago on Veracity.

As I have been digging into the interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27, for nearly two years, inspired by the “astronomical” work of my friend, Ken Petzinger, I have been learning that the controversies surrounding these four verses of the Bible are fascinatingly complex. In this post, I want to lay aside some of the Bible interpretation issues aside, and focus instead on some questions of history:

So, where did the “dispensationalist” approach to Daniel 9:24-27 come from? Why is it that the prophecy of the “Seventy Weeks” has become so important in the minds of so many Christians, over the past hundred or so years?
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Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #3

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD -- a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

The Roman army under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple, by the year 70 AD. Does this catastrophic event in the first century offer any insight into understanding the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27?  
(a painting by David Roberts, 1796-1849).

Up to this point in this series ( post #1, post #2), we have been exploring the dispensationalist approach to the “Seventy Weeks” of Daniel 9:24-27. Let us jump into the text again, first:

“Seventy weeks are decreed about 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. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people 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. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator” (Daniel 9:24-27 ESV).

So, is the dispensationalist reading of this passage the best way to understand the text?

Let us explore some of the issues in this blog post. Different Bible interpreters over the years have looked at Daniel 9 in very different ways. When you examine each approach, you learn that there are some ambiguities in the text that force the interpreter to make some assumptions as to how a particular ambiguity in the text might be resolved.

So, what are these ambiguities? Have you ever heard of Hank Hanegraaff, known in radio-land as the “Bible Answer Man?” Continue reading


Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #2

One of Clarence Larkin's (1850-1924) memorable charts illustrating how to interpret the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 from a dispensationalist perspective.

One of Clarence Larkin’s (1850-1924) memorable charts illustrating how to interpret the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 from a dispensationalist perspective. Clarence Larkin’s charts were some of the most influential teaching tools in evangelical churches throughout the bulk of the 20th century (click on it for more detail — source clarencelarkincharts.com)

Here we take a closer look at Daniel 9:24-27, in this season of Advent, as we dig a little deeper into this famous prophecy of “Seventy Weeks.” I am surely no “Yoda” (read the first post in this series to get what I am saying), but let me guide you with some things to think about, and then point you towards other resources on the Internet that I think you will find helpful. First, let us read our text again, as it has a lot packed in here:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuildJerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:24-27, NIV 2011).

 

Scratching your head a bit? Well, let’s start digging!

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Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #1

The angel Gabriel, from a 10 century icon, spoke to Daniel, with a mysterious vision of "Seventy Weeks." (credit: Uncut Mountain Supply)

The angel Gabriel, from a 10 century icon, spoke to Daniel, with a mysterious vision of “Seventy Weeks,” in Daniel 9:24-27 , that many say speaks of the coming time of the Christ (credit: Uncut Mountain Supply).

The season of Advent is a time when Christians look forward to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, in the period we celebrate at Christmas. Part of that time of preparation is spent considering Old Testament prophecy that looks forward to the coming of this Messiah. This Advent season, I want to tackle one of the more controversial passages of the Bible, that many say points hundreds of years in advance, with incredible accuracy, to the time of Jesus, the so-called “Seventy Weeks” prophecy of Daniel 9. Though not directly a “Christmas prophecy,” per se, nevertheless, some Christians believe that the “Seventy Weeks” of Daniel 9 is the most important prophecy about Jesus in the Bible. Have you ever heard of that before?

In churches that emphasize teaching on the “End Times,” the topic of Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” gets talked about a lot. On the other hand, there are other churches that tend to steer clear away from the “Seventy Weeks.” There is a good reason for all of this: Daniel 9 is loaded with mystery.

The “Seventy Weeks” prophecy in Daniel 9 is a significant, yet difficult, part of the Bible to  grasp. Throughout my life as a Christian, I have heard plenty about the “Seventy Weeks,” but to be honest, my eyes have tended to glaze over whenever someone starts to explain it. But over the past couple of years, or so, I finally decided that I needed to make a concerted effort to grasp what the fuss was all about.

I must warn you: This gets complicated. Like with any investment in something worthwhile, there is great reward, though it does require a good degree of concentration. Nevertheless, despite the challenges, it really is an amazing passage of the Bible.

I will try not to get too technical, but I would suggest that you grab a chair, pour yourself a beverage, and keep your thinking cap handy, as we embark on this series….
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