Why the separation between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth weeks of Daniel?
By Rev. Roger Best
We are introduced to the seventy weeks of Daniel in his book, chapter 9 and verse 24: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.” The Hebrew word translated “seventy weeks” is shabuim which simply means sevens. The word itself does not designate a definite period of time such as days, weeks, months, or years. The word literally means “besevened” and is a participle made up of seven parts. For this reason it often meant seven days of a week. It is also important to notice that the Hebrew people of Daniel’s day were familiar with the idea of weeks of years as well as weeks of days. Finally from the context of the passage itself, it is made very clear that Daniel is speaking about seventy periods of seven years each or four hundred and ninety years. In verse 25 we find the seventy weeks divided into two sections, seven periods (or forty-nine years) and sixty-two periods (or four hundred and thirty-four years): “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty two weeks; it will be built again with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.” Then in verse 27 we have one week (or seven years) mentioned: “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week . . .” So in all, the seventy weeks are divided into three sections: seven, sixty-two, and one.
As Gabriel speaks to Daniel in this passage, he says that the 490 years will be in reference to the Jewish people and the Jewish capital city, Jerusalem: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city . . .” (v. 24a). He then tells Daniel of six reasons for this time period. The first three are negative and speak of undesirable matters which will be removed, and the last three are desirable conditions which will be effected. Daniel is told that there will be a period of 483 years (seven weeks and sixty-two weeks) of Gentile domination beginning with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem and completed when “Messiah will be cut off and have nothing” (v.26a). That decree to rebuild was given in 445 B.C. by Artaxerxes Longimanus to Nehemiah as recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8. Studies have been done and it has been calculated that from the time of the decree to rebuild until the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, which we refer to as Palm Sunday, was 483 years or sixty-nine weeks. (As to the first section of seven weeks or 49 years, most Bible scholars agree that this is the time in which Jerusalem was rebuilt and reinhabited after the Babylonian captivity.) But there is yet one more week, and it is yet future.
This one week, a seven-year period, has yet to transpire. We know that to be true because Israel has not as yet received the fulfillment of the promises given to them, namely “everlasting righteousness.” “The divine King of Israel, the Word of God incarnate, ‘came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him (John 1:11).’ That rejection triggered Israel’s most terrible curse, the great scattering of her people throughout the world that began in A.D. 70. Most of Israel did not receive their King. Some of the Jewish religious leaders even accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan, ‘Beelzebub the prince of the devils’ – and by that act they committed the unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:24, 31). And because Israel rejected her Redeemer and King, Jesus Christ, God extended His kingdom to the Gentiles to make the nation of Israel jealous (Rom. 11:11). Therefore, from that time forward in His earthly ministry, Jesus began teaching the multitudes primarily in parables because, as He explained to the Twelve, ‘while seeing they [Israel] do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’ (Matt. 13:13)” (Robert Van Kampen, The Sign, page 92).
Because of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah and King, the clock stopped at the end of the 69 weeks. It is important to understand that God has not forgotten Israel and will not forsake them but will fulfill His promises to them. In Romans 11 God tells us, “But by their [Israel’s] transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous” (v. 11). Then in verse 23 He states, “And they [Israel] also, if they do not continue in their unbelief , will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again.” And then in verse 26 God gives the promise that “all Israel will be saved.” And so the gap or interlude between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week has given salvation to the Gentiles, in order to make Israel jealous. And there is a day coming when God will restart the clock for Israel and fulfill His promise of “everlasting righteous ” to them.
Even today God is preparing Israel for that time. Israel has returned to her land and became a nation in 1948 and took control of the city of Jerusalem in 1967. Israel today is in unbelief like the dry bones of Ezekiel 37, but God is not finished with her yet. Some day (and it could be soon) a world leader will sign or confirm a covenant with Israel to guarantee her peace, which is her overwhelming desire even today. The clock will be restarted and that last week of seven years will take place.