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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks # 6

3. The fulfillment of the tremendous events in verse 24 cannot be found anywhere in known history.

Notice again what they are: "to finish the transgression" - "to make an end of sins" - "to make reconciliation for iniquity" - "to bring in everlasting righteousness" - "to seal up the vision and prophecy" - "to anoint a most holy place". And remember, two further things: first, all these great events have to do with the Jewish people; and, second, they are included within the reach of the Seventy Weeks' prophecy.

Now, if the whole Seventy Weeks are continuous, then, as we have already seen, the Seventieth Week must have ended not later than seven years after the crucifixion, or somewhere early in the Book of Acts. But the history of those years contains nothing that in any reasonable way corresponds with what Daniel saw at the end of the Seventy Weeks. Even if we should adopt the "spiritualizing" scheme of interpretation, still the bed is too short and the cover to narrow. Where in the history of Acts, for example, can you find any finishing of Jewish transgression or an ending of Jewish sins? On the contrary, the transgression of the chosen nation increases by leaps and bounds until the crisis comes in the twenty-eighth chapter, where the Apostle Paul turns definitely to the Gentiles. Or where in the period of the Acts can we find any "sealing up of vision and prophecy"? On the contrary, it is during this very period and beyond that we find the greatest loosing of "vision and prophecy" in all the history of revelation. But at the second coming of our Lord in glory, which will take place at the close of the Seventieth Week, vision and prophecy will no longer be needed. The Word of God Himself will be present invisible manifestation, and His law will go forth from Jerusalem.

4. An unseen gap in prophetic time is not at all an unusual phenomenon in Old Testament prophecy.

There are many instances outside of Daniel. The great Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 is an interesting example. "For unto us a Child is born" - the whole Christian world rejoices in the knowledge that this prophecy was fulfilled nineteen centuries ago. But read the next clause: "And the government shall be upon his shoulder." Here we have something still future. Between these two clauses of the same prophecy, separated only by a colon in the  English translation, there is a break in time which has already extended nineteen hundred years. There is another excellent example in Zechariah 9:9-10. The Messianic King is presented riding up to His city "upon a colt the foal of an ass." All believers know that this is fulfilled and past. Yet the next verse, without the slightest indication of any literary or chronological break, reads on: "And ... he shall speak peace unto the heathen, and his domination shall be from sea even to sea." Some day this will be done just as literally as the first. But between the two predictions there is the same great parenthesis of time.

One more example must suffice, attested by our Lord Himself. In Isaiah 61:1-2 there is a prophecy which reads as follows: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he that sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of  vengeance of our God." Out Lord Jesus must have been deeply interested in this great prophecy concerning Himself, for one day He came to Nazareth and stood up to read from this very passage in the synagogue. But rather strangely, when He had finished the clause, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," He closed the book and said, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:16-21). Now, the amazing thing is that He stopped at a comma (in the English Version). Why did He stop squarely in the middle of a sentence? The answer is that the next following clause, "And the day of vengeance of our God," was not to be fulfilled for over nineteen hundred years and is still future. By this one single act of His, our Lord as the infallible Interpreter laid down the principle of the "gap interpretation," apart from which the chronology of Old Testament prophecy is an insoluble enigma.

As a matter of fact, it is well known that there is often little or no time perspective in the visions of the Old Testament prophet. He saw events together on the screen of prophecy which in their fulfillment were often separated by centuries of time. This curious characteristic, so strange to Western minds, was in complete harmony with the Oriental mind, which was little concerned with a continuous chronology. As the late Dr. M. C. Kyle uses to tell his students, the Oriental was interested in the next important event, not in the time which might intervene. And the Bible is an Oriental book, humanly speaking. However, we do find the prophets themselves perplexed by this lack of time perspective. Peter tells us that after the prophets had written, they actually sat down and searched their own writings to find their meaning: "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Peter 1:11). Evidently the prophets saw clearly both the sufferings and glories of Christ. Furthermore, they had the order right - first, the sufferings; after that, the glories. But the one thing which was not clear to them was the time element - "what, or what manner of time."

Now, this is precisely the problem in the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. Daniel saw clearly the sufferings of Christ - Messiah is to be "cut off" after the Sixty-ninth Week but before the Seventieth Week. It is equally certain that Daniel saw also the glories of Christ - they are to be ushered in at the close of the Seventieth Week (9:24). But it seems quite evident that the intervening time problem was beyond the prophet's understanding, for this very problem is discussed briefly in 12:6-7 by the two angelic messengers, and Daniel confesses, "I heart but I understood not" (8). That this failure to understand was not due to any lack of spiritual discernment in the Prophet, but rather to the sovereign plan of God, is clear from the words of verse 9: "Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." This particular ultimatum does not apply to the entire Book of Daniel, as it is sometimes taught, but only to the time element surrounding the Seventieth Week of the prophecy. The "time of the end" will arrive with the beginning of the Seventieth Week, and then prophetic chronology will instantly become so crystal clear that only the "wicked" can possible misunderstand (11:10). But until the Seventieth Week begins, all attempts to fix prophetic dates must be only so much misspent labor. This point will be discussed more fully later.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 7)

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