Looking for a gap in Daniel 9:24-27 is another prophetic distraction. This gap is used to twist Daniel's vision to justify the belief that there will be a seven year tribulation, just prior to Christ’s second coming. Those with this view see the passage as a description of the activities of the anti-christ. Careful study will show that it is really a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. "to finish the transgression". The Jews filled up their cup of iniquity by condemning Jesus to death. The transgressions of the nation were filled up.
The seventy "sevens" are seventy weeks of years. The expression describes a period lasting 490 years (70x7). The starting point is given in verse 25. Daniel is told that the seventy "sevens" will begin "from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem". This decree was issued by Artaxerxes King of Persia in the time of Nehemiah (Neh 2:1-9), so it would have been issued in about 445 B.C.
Six events are decreed for the seventy "sevens". They were all fulfilled through the ministry of Jesus. It is generally believed that Jesus was crucified soon after A.D. 30, so his ministry falls at the end of the seventy "sevens". The six events decreed are:
"to finish the transgression". The Jews filled up their cup of iniquity by condemning Jesus to death. The transgressions of the nation were filled up.
A number of events are specified for the last "seven" (Dan 9:26,27). A number of commentators say that a seven year tribulation just before the second coming is being described. To support this view, they put in a gap between sixty-ninth and the seventieth "week", which coincides with the church age. This allows them to place the events of the last week thousands of years after the events of the earlier "weeks". There is no justification for this. Daniel makes no mention of a gap, and there is no precedent for one in any other part of the Bible. An examination of the events described shows that they all occurred within about 500 years of the decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. This is what we would expect from the statement that seventy "sevens" were decreed.
Four events are decreed for the last "seven" (vv.26,27)
- "The Annointed one will be cut off and will have nothing". This is a description of the death of Jesus. His life was "cut off". At his death he was deserted by all his disciples, and left with 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 to the end and desolations have been decreed". This very vividly describes the destruction of Jerusalem. The people of the ruler was the Roman army. They destroyed the city and the temple. There was war to the end, which came like a flood of terrible desolation.
- "He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’, but in the middle of that ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering". The person referred to here is not the coming ruler, who would destroy the city, but the Messiah mentioned in verse 26. Jesus established a covenant which has brought salvation to great numbers of people. During the last "seven" which covered his whole life, from birth to ascension, Jesus confirmed a covenant which would last for ever. The effect of the new covenant is to put an end to sacrifices and offerings. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus makes them unnecessary.
- "and one who causes desolation will come on the wings of abominations until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolate". This is a more literal translation than is usually given. Misleading translations have caused a lot of misunderstanding about this verse. The subject of this verse, the one who makes desolate, is not the one who made the covenant, but the Roman ruler, who would destroy Jerusalem. His coming was an abomination for the Jewish people. The desolation is not poured out on a person, but on those who are desolate. The Jews were a desolate people once they had rejected the Messiah. Jesus was referring to this when he told them that their house would be left desolate (Matt 23:38).
The vision is not a description of the manoeuvrings of the anti-christ or a tribulation that is yet to come. It is a description of the ministry of Jesus, his rejection by the Jews, and their consequent destruction.