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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks # 7

5. As the final argument in favor of the Gap interpretation, I offer the testimony of our Lord Himself to show that the Seventieth Week is still future.

Verse 27 of the prophecy contains a most peculiar expression: "Upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate." The Hebrew is confessedly difficult. Luther rendered it, "Upon the wings stands the abomination of desolation." The same general expression occurs also in Daniel 12:11; "the abomination that maketh desolate." Without attempting here to fix its precise meaning, the thing we should notice is that Daniel connects it with the stopping of the daily sacrifice, which takes place in the middle of the Seventieth Week. Let the reader keep this fact clearly in mind and turn to Matthew, chapter 24, where our Lord refers to the same thing. In verse 15, He warns His Jewish hearers to flee from their houses to the mountains, "When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place." The reason for this warning is indicated in verse 21: "For then shall be great tribulation." But they are not to be utterly disheartened, for "immediately after the tribulation of those days ... they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (29-30).

Now, the argument is very simple and clear: Whatever the "abomination of desolation" may be, there can be no doubt that Daniel put it exactly in the middle of the Seventieth Week, while our Lord placed it at "the end," just before His second coming in glory. Therefore, the Seventieth Week must also come at the end of the present age jut prior to Christ's coming in glory. This is the interpretation of Christ Himself, and it should settle the matter. Our Lord has not yet come in glory; the Seventieth Week is still future; and there is a great parenthesis of time between the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Weeks of the prophecy. Thus far we are on solid ground.

If we see clearly and accept the existence of this great parenthesis of unreckoned time between the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Weeks, and understand that the Seventieth Week is still future, we shall be  effectively guarded against some of the dangers which constantly beset the interpreter of prophecy.

First, we shall be kept from the confusion and despair which are so common even among devout scholars when they come to the Seventieth Week and attempt to unravel the chronology of events beyond the First Advent of our Lord. The late Dr. Nathaniel West has well summed up the situation: "The effort to connect it (the Seventieth Week) immediately with the Sixty-ninth has led to results in exegesis both amazing and amusing. Never was the hopelessness of any task more thoroughly evinced than here." The great Hengstenberg insisted upon a literal fulfillment of the Seventy Weeks, yet when he comes to the last one, he confesses that "their terminal point is a vanishing one." Stanley Leathes frankly admits in his reply to the critical Kuenen: "Chronology fails as to the last Week." And Pusey says, "We have not the chronological data to fix it." So completely did many of the greatest Biblical scholars lose their way in utter disagreement that Bosanquet rightly observed: "Every fresh interpretation only adds to the force of our conviction that some radical error lies at the foundation of all our Christian interpretations, and, till it is discovered, the Seventy Weeks of Daniel will remain unexplained and inexplicable to the comprehension of every unprejudiced inquirer." This "radical error" was the failure to see the great interval of time between the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Weeks. Delitzsch stated clearly the general principle which was needed by the interpreters when he said, "All prophecy is complex; that is, it sees together what history outrolls as separate: and all  prophecy is apotelesmatic; that is, it sees close behind the nearest-coming, epoch-making turn in history, the summit of the End." But along with the others, Delitzsch failed to apply this true principle to the Seventieth Week.

Second, this important principle of interpretation explains why the whole of our present age, so great in many respects, is passed over by the prophets with comparative silence. And it constantly keeps us on our guard against attempting to find things in Old Testament prophecy which are not there. I need not rehearse here the extravagant fancies into which men have been led by their failure to see and apply the principle of the Prophetic Parenthesis, thus often bringing the study of prophecy into disrepute.

In the third place, if we see this principle and understand that the Seventieth Week lies in the future, we shall be saved from that popular but pernicious fallacy which assumes that God is finished with the nation of Israel. "Seventy Weeks are determined upon thy people," said the angel to Daniel, and if the last week is yet future, there is still a place for Israel in the divine plan. In fact, the whole plan will be consummated in that final week. And the error of putting the Seventieth Week in immediate connection with the Sixty-ninth has undoubtedly made no small contribution to the erroneous theories of both Post-millennialism and Amillenialism.

Fourth, the acceptance of the Gap interpretation of the Seventieth Week makes utterly impossible all date-setting schemes for the present age and for the second coming of our Lord, since the entire parenthesis of time between the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Weeks is both unrevealed and elastic from the human standpoint. Every scheme of date-setting requires for its basis a continuous prophetic chronology covering the present age. Without this, the date-setters are helpless. And according to the Gap principle, there can be no such chronology. Only an omniscient God could have given such a continuous chronology, and He for good and wise reasons did not give it. Therefore, we need not waste any time even discussing the possibility of setting a date for the Lord's return. It simply cannot be done. And I, for one, am glad that this is so. The Blessed Hope that the Lord may return for His church at any moment would be destroyed if the date-setters should ever succeed. But there is no danger. Once the last week of Daniel begins its course, it will be possible for the "wise" to set some accurate dates. But the church will have been taken up at that time.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 8 - "The Seventieth Week")

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