THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Dan. 9:27).
We come now to the last verse of the prophecy, which verse is of surpassing interest and importance. It has to do specifically with the seventieth week of the prophecy. The expiration of 69 weeks brought us "unto Christ," but not to His crucifixion, nor to that which is the great subject of all prophecy, "the sufferings of the Christ" (I Pet. 1:11). Particularly it should be kept in mind that the six things of Daniel 9:24 depended for their accomplishing upon His atoning death, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven. All these events were "after the threescore and two weeks."
When Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ in glory oil the Mount of Transfiguration, they "spake of His exodus which He should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Lu. 9:31). His "exodus" or "way out" of this world was the consummation of the purposes of God, the climax of all prophecy, the supreme event of all the ages. Thereby he accomplished eternal redemption, opened a fountain for sin and for uncleanness, scaled the everlasting covenant, and set aside forever the sacrifices appointed by the law.
The first part of Daniel 9:27, quoted at the head of this chapter, is quite clear except for the words "for one week," which will be explained later oil. The meaning of the clause (apart from those three words) is, we believe, easily discerned in the light of the New Testament scriptures. "To confirm" the new covenant (Jer. 31:31- 34; Heb. 8:6-13, and 10:1-18), that is, to make it sure, was the great purpose
for which the Son of God came into the world in the body of flesh prepared for Him (Heb. 10:5). Moreover, it was by His death as a sacrifice for sin that lie displaced and abolished the sacrifices of the law, thus causing them "to cease." God had had "no pleasure" in these because they "could never take away sins," whereas "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, "making "His soul an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:10).
If we take the pronoun "He" as relating to "the Messiah" mentioned in the preceding verse, then we find in the New Testament scriptures a perfect fulfilment of the passage, and a fulfilment, moreover, which is set forth in the most conspicuous way. That pronoun must, in our opinion, be taken as referring to Christ, because (a) the prophecy is all about Christ, and this is the climax of it; (b) Titus did not make any covenant with the Jews; (e) there is not a word in Scripture about any future "prince" making a covenant with them. Other reasons in support of this conclusion will appear later on. But the foregoing are sufficient.
There are three points in the passage we are now studying, and each of them is completely fulfilled in the inspired accounts of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ given in the New Testament. Those three points are: (1) confirming the covenant with many; (2) what happened in the midst of the week; (3) causing the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. We will briefly examine these three points in order.
1. Confirming the covenant with many. We ignore for the present the words "for one week," which words would seem to limit the duration of the "covenant" to the short period of seven years. It will suffice for now to say that there is no preposition "for" in the text, and that the words "one week" do not refer to the duration of the covenant, but to the time when it was confirmed; for that covenant was confirmed by the shedding of the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14-20) in "the one week," the last of the seventy which had been "determined." This will be clearly shown later on.
As to the fulfilment of this important feature of the prophecy we have a clear announcement from the Lord's own lips. For when, in the institution of His memorial supper, He gave the cup to His disciples, he uttered these significant words, "This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for many for the remission of sills" (Matt. 26:28). In these words we find four things which agree with the prophecy: 1st, "the One" who was to confirm the covenant, Christ; 2d, "the covenant" itself; 3rd, that which "confirmed" the covenant, the blood of Christ; 4th, those who receive the benefits of the covenant, the "many." The identification is complete; for the words correspond perfectly with those of the prophecy, "He shall confirm the covenant with many." There could not be a more perfect agreement.
It is to be noted in this connection that the prominent feature of the new covenant is the forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 10:1- 18). Hence the significance of the Lord's words, "for the remission of sins." His mission in coining into the world was to "save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). That is the prominent feature of His gospel (Lu. 24:47; Acts 10:43).
It is further to be noted that, although the promise of the New Covenant was made to the entire "house of Israel and house of Judah," not all of them entered into its benefits. Those who rejected Christ were "destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23). They were, as branches, "broken off" (Rom. 11:17). We see then the accuracy of Scripture in the words of the prophecy "with many," and those of the Lord Jesus "shed for many."
This use of the word "many" is found in other like scriptures. Thus, in a similar prophecy it is written: "My righteous Servant shall justify many" (Isa. 53:11). Again, "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God,, (1,11. 1:16). This was said by the same heavenly messenger, Gabriel, when he announced to Zacharias the birth of it son. And yet again- this time from the lips of Simeon- "This Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel" (Lu. 2:34). And yet once more, in the words of the Lord Jesus, "For the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). In each of these scriptures the word "many" applies to those who receive by faith the benefits of the New Covenant which Christ made sure by the shedding of His blood upon the Cross.
2. In the midst of the week. These words are important in helping to identify the fulfilment of the prophecy. Considering the supreme importance of the death of Christ, upon which depended not only the six predictions of verse 24, but all the purposes of God; and considering also that the prophecy gives the time when the Lord's ministry as "the Messiah" was to begin, we should expect to find in it a statement when His ministry was to end by His being "cut off." This information is given in the words "in the midst of the week"' that is the seventieth week. The expiration of 69 weeks brought us "unto the Messiah." Only "one week" of the seventy remained; and in the midst of that last week He was crucified.
We have here (as already indicated) a valuable means of checking up our conclusions and testing their correctness. For, as has been often pointed out since very early times, the Gospel of John contains information by which it appears that the ministry of Christ lasted three and a half years. In fact Eusebius, a Christian writer of the fourth century, is quoted as saying: "It is recorded in history that the whole time of our Saviour's teaching and working miracles was three years and a half, which is half a week. This, John the evangelist will represent (i. e. will make known) to those who critically attend to his Gospel.
Thus the length of our Lord's ministry, as disclosed by the Gospel of John (half a week), strikingly confirms the prophecy, which gives 69 weeks unto the beginning of the Lord's ministry, and fixes the ending thereof "in the midst of the week" following.
3. He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. No one will dispute that, when Christ suffered and died on the Cross, thus offering "one sacrifice for sins forever," he then and there caused the sacrifice, and oblations of the law to cease as a divine appointment. Even when in full vigor they were but the shadows of that perfect and all sufficient sacrifice which he, as the Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world, which was to offer in due time. Hence they were completely displaced when Christ, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God.
Neither can there be any question that the removal of those sacrifices (which could never take away sins) was a great thing in the eyes of God, a thing so great and wellpleasing to Him, to warrant its having a prominent place in this grand Messianic prophecy. In proof of this important point we direct the attention of our readers to Hebrews, chapters 8, 9 and 10. In those chapters the Spirit of God puts before us in great detail, and with solemn emphasis, the setting aside of the Old Covenant, with all that related to it, the "worldly sanctuary," the priesthood, the "ordinances of divine service," and particularly those many sacrifices (by which a remembrance of sins was made every year); and he puts before us also the confirming of the New Covenant, with its heavenly sanctuary, its spiritual priesthood, its sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, all based upon the atonement of Christ. The great subject of this part of Hebrews, as of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, is the Cross.
Chapter 10 of Hebrews dwells largely upon the sacrifices which were "offered by the law," emphasizing the imperfection and insufficiency thereof to purge the conscience of the offerers, and declaring that, for that reason, God had no pleasure in therein. It was because of this ("wherefore") that the Son of God said, "Lo I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, 0 God" (v. 7). This relates the passage directly to the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, which has for its subject the coming of Christ into the world and the purpose for which He came. How full of significance then, and how conclusive for the object of our present study, are the words which follow!
"Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, 0 God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second" (Heb. 10:8, 9).
This is the climax of the whole matter. "He taketh away" those sacrifices and oblations wherein God had no pleasure! What perfect agreement with the words of the prophecy, "He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease"! And when we find, both in the prophecy (Dan. 9:27) and in Hebrews 10, that this setting aside of the sacrifices of the law is connected directly with the confirming of the New Covenant, we are compelled to conclude that the passage in Hebrews is the inspired record of the fulfilment of this Prophecy.
We ask careful attention to the fact that in Hebrews 10:12 it is expressly stated that Christ took away the sacrifices of the law when He offered Himself as the "one sacrifice for sins forever," ere he "sat down on the right hand of God." Those sacrifices, therefore, ceased to exist in God's contemplation from the moment Christ died. From that moment God regards no longer the sacrifices of the law. It is impossible, therefore, that the words "he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease" could refer to any event subsequent to the crucifixion of Christ. To this we purpose to return. But at this point we would simply raise the question, where shall we look for a fulfilment of the prophecy, if we reject that recorded in Hebrews 10:9 ?
"FOR ONE WEEK"
We come now to the words "for one week" (Dan. 9:27), which have been the means of leading astray sonic who have undertaken to explain this prophecy.
Manifestly those words are utterly inconsistent with the view that the covenant spoken of is the New Covenant, since that is "everlasting" (Heb. 13:20). But it is hardly conceivable that any covenant - particularly one of such importance as to have a prominent place in this prophecy -would be confirmed for such a brief term as seven years Even if we suppose, as some do (though with no proof whatever to support them), that the prophecy refers to some agreement which the supposed "prince" of the future will supposedly make with "many" Jews, permitting them to resume the long abolished sacrifices of the law, can we conceive that such a covenant would be limited to the insignificant term of seven years?
In view of the difficulty presented by the words "for one week," we consulted a Hebrew scholar, asking him if there were any preposition "for" in the original text, or anything to imply it. His reply was that there is no "for" in the text, nor anything to imply it. This information removed the chief difficulty; but it left still unsettled the meaning to be given to the words "one week." That further information, however, was supplied by the same Hebrew scholar (formerly a Jewish Rabbis but now a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ), who gave us the English rendering of the Septuagint Version of Daniel 9:27. This Septuagint Version is a translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, made nearly three hundred years before the birth of Christ. It has a claim on our acceptance as an authoritative version, because our Lord and His apostles frequently quoted from it.
Particularly do we ask attention to the fact that when our Lord, in His prophecy on Mt. Olivet, quoted from the latter part of Daniel 9:27, He used the words of the Septuagint version, namely, "the abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15). Therefore We have a special Warrant for following the sense of the Septuagint. We give the English translation of the entire verse as it appears in the Septuagint.
"And one week shall establish the covenant with many; and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drinkoffering shall be taken away; and upon the temple shall be the abomination of desolation; and at the end of the time (the age) an end shall be put to the desolation."
From this wording the meaning of the first clause is easily grasped. It is a common form of speech to say for example, "the year 1776 established the independence of the American colonies"; "the year 1918 restored Alsace and Lorraine to France," &c., which is a figurative way of saying that such or such an event took place at the time specified. This form of expression is used when it is desired to call special attention to the year, or other period, in which a certain event occurred. So here, the previous verses having accounted for 69 of the total of 70 weeks, it was most appropriate to emphasize that last week; and especially so for the reason that the last week was not only to fulfil the six predictions of verse 24) but it was to be the climax of all the ages.
The sense of the passage then is this: That the one remaining week would witness the confirming of the covenant (which could only mean the promised New Covenant) with the many; and that, in the midst of that last week, Christ would cause the entire system of sacrifices appointed by the law to cease, by the offering of himself in the all-sufficient sacrifice for sins.
This gives to the last week of the seventy the importance it should have, and which the prophecy as a whole demands, seeing that all the predictions of verse 24 depend upon the events of that last week. On the other hand, to make this last Week refer to a paltry bargain between antichrist (or a supposed Roman prince) and some - apostate Jews of the future, for the renewal (and that for a space of only seven years) of those sacrifices which God has long ago abolished forever, is to intrude into this great scripture a matter of trifling importance, utterly foreign to the subject in hand. and to bring the entire prophecy to an absurdly lame and impotent conclusion.
"MY SACRIFICES AND DRINK-OFFERING"
In further elucidation of the sense of verse 27 we would call special attention to the words of the Septuagint Version, "my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away." Before the death of Christ the sacrifices of the law were God's. But he Would never call His the sacrifices which apostate Jews might institute under agreement with antichrist. This we deem to be conclusive.
Subsequently to the first appearance of these papers we have had access to Dr. Win. M. Taylor's excellent book entitled Daniel The Beloved, in which the above rendering of verse 27 is confirmed. Dr. Taylor gives Dr. Cowle's version of Chat verse, as follows: "One seven shall make the covenant effective to many. The middle of the seven shall make sacrifice and offerings to cease," etc.
We quote also from Dr. Taylor's comments, which afford confirmation of the conclusions we had already reached:
"It is well known by those acquainted with chronology that Christ was born four years earlier than the first of the era which we call by His name. Therefore, at the year 26 A. D. our Lord would be - really thirty years of age; and we know (Lu. 3:23) that His baptism, or public manifestation to the people, took place when He 'began to be about thirty years of age.'
"Further, at the end of half a seven of years, or in the middle of the heptad, Messiah, according to this prediction, was to cause the sacrifice and offerings to cease. Now, if we suppose this to refer to the fact that Christ's death, being a real and proper sacrifice for sin, virtually abolished all those under the law, which were only typical, we have here a date harmonizing with that of the Crucifixion. It is as near as possible demonstrable from the Gospel by John that our Saviour's public ministry lasted three years and it half (see Robinson's Harmony of the Gospels, Appendix); and this is corroborated by the parable of the barren fig tree (Lu. 13:69) which seems to indicate that three years of special privilege to the Jews had run their course, and that a fourth, or a portion of a fourth, was to be given them. Here again, therefore, we have a coincidence of date between the prediction and the history.
"The exposition we have given of this section of Daniel's prediction, find of the manner of its fulfillment is fitted to stir the heart even of the most indifferent. For myself, I feel awed by the sense of the nearness of God, which comes over me when I read these verses and when I remember how they have been confirmed by the events of which Calvary was the scene. God is in this history of a truth. But let us not forget that it differs from ordinary history only that here we are permitted to read out of the Book of Divine purpose and prescience; whereas in other cases that record is hidden from our eyes. God is in, all history as really and as much as he was in this. How solemn, yet how reassuring also is the thought !"
In view of all this, we would ask, how call any sober minded expositor of the Scriptures set aside the perfect and heart-satisfying fulfilment of this wonderful prophecy, so clearly to be seen in "the events of which Calvary was the scene," and propose instead a contrived fulfilment, in a supposed covenant (whereof the Scriptures say not a word) between antichrist and the Jewish people of the last days, relating to the imagined revival of the long abolished sacrifices of the law?
Therefore we conclude that the modern interpretation which takes Christ and the Cross out of the last verse of the prophecy, where it reaches its climax, and puts antichrist and his imaginary doings into it, does violence to the Scripture and serious wrong to the people of God.