Daniel’s Seventieth Week
March 12th, 1972 @ 8:15 AM
DANIEL’S SEVENTIETH WEEK
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-12-72 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled Daniel’s Seventieth Week. Now our reading of the text is in the last chapter, in the last verses of the ninth chapter of Daniel. I shall begin at verse 24, which is the introduction to the marvelous millennial reign of Christ, and then follow through the revelation, through the death of the Lord, to the destruction of the holy city and temple, the week of the tribulation; and then we begin the exposition. Daniel 9:24:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself:
And that was the message last Sunday, The Death of Messiah;
Then, the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Daniel had been reading the prophet Jeremiah, especially chapters 25 and 29, and there he became aware of the prophecy that after seventy years the exiles in Babylon would be permitted to return home; God would visit His covenant people [Jeremiah 25:11-14, 29:10-14]. Daniel, having been taken captive in 605 BC, and the year now being 536 BC, Daniel learned that the seventy years would soon be finished [Jeremiah 29:10-14]. So he gave himself to prayer and intercession. He covered himself in sackcloth. He sat in ashes, and he importuned God for the fulfillment of that prophecy by Jeremiah [Daniel 9:2-19]. And while Daniel was praying with intense appeal and importunity, there was sent to him the angel Gabriel from heaven [Daniel 9:20-21].
And the angel revealed to Daniel what is possibly the most significant revelation to be found in all of the Bible, the revelation of the seventy weeks; that is, the revelation that seventy heptads, seventy sevens, literally, would encompass the entire judgment of God upon Israel, at which time of the end, after the seventy heptads, after the seventy weeks of years, the millennial reign of Christ would come, and the consummation of history would find its ultimate end, and it would comprise the climax of Jewish history [Daniel 9:24-27].
As we look at the prophecy there is given a terminus a quo, a time of the beginning of the seventy heptads, and there is a terminus ad quem, a time of the ending of those seventy heptads [Daniel 9:24-25]. The time of the beginning, he says, is the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [Daniel 9:25]. And the time of the ending is the millennial reign of Christ [Daniel 9:25].
And between those two great events, the decree to build Jerusalem [Daniel 9:24-27], and the final denouement of the age and the millennial reign of Christ [Revelation 20:6], is to be seventy heptads, four hundred ninety years [Daniel 9:24-27]. Let us look, therefore, at those four hundred ninety years, those seventy heptads. They are divided into three parts, and they begin with the decree to build Jerusalem [Daniel 9:24-27].
We must therefore find that terminus a quo, that commencing date, which is the decree to rebuild Jerusalem [Daniel 9:25]. There are four of them that we find in the Scriptures, in this Babylonian captivity. The first decree is found in the first chapter of Ezra and is the decree, the edict, of Cyrus in 536 BC, which decree allowed the people to return home and to build their temple [Ezra 1:1-3]. But it is just that, and it is nothing but that; and that is all that the exiles attempted. So that’s not the decree. That decree is to build the temple. The second edict we find in the sixth chapter of Ezra, which is the decree of Darius Hystaspes, the Persian king [Ezra 6:1-12]. But here again, that edict is but a confirmation of the decree of Darius’s predecessor, Cyrus, and has to do just with the rebuilding of the temple.
A third edict we find in the seventh chapter of the Book of Ezra, this time given by Artaxerxes Ι Longimanus, in the seventh year of his reign [Ezra 7:1-26]. But here again, as you read the whole seventh chapter of Ezra, you will find that it concerns the temple and nothing else.
We find this terminus a quo, this beginning date [Daniel 9:24-25], in the second chapter of Nehemiah. There in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus, there is an edict that is given to Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and to rebuild the city [Nehemiah 2:1-6]. The date of that return and the commencing of the rebuilding of the city is expressly and minutely stated [Nehemiah 2:1]. It began on the first day of the first Jewish New Year, the first day of Nisan. The work, Nehemiah said, was completed before the Feast of Tabernacles, the seventh month of that year, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes I [Nehemiah 5:14, 8:2]. That day is the fourteenth of March, in 445 BC [Nehemiah 8:14, 18, 9:1]. This is the beginning of the four hundred ninety years, the seven heptads [Daniel 9:24-25], that are to intervene between the time that God gave the commandment through Artaxerxes to rebuild the city [Nehemiah 2:1-6], and the time of the millennial reign of our Lord [Revelation 20:6].
We look at these seventy heptads that begin with that commandment to restore Jerusalem in 445 BC [Daniel 9:25], and they are divided into three parts. There are seven weeks, seven heptads, in which time the wall will be rebuilt and the city will be reconstructed [Daniel 9:25]. Now the Scripture here does not say it, nor does it even intimate it, but it is interesting to see that in that period of forty-nine years, from 445 BC to 396 BC, in that period of time the prophecy ended, the last prophet Malachi had delivered his message, and the Old Testament canon was completed.
The second heptads, the second group numbers sixty-two [Daniel 9:25-26]; that is four hundred thirty-four years. And this is the time between the rebuilding of the city, for the first time now, under Nehemiah, the city has gates and ramparts, it is a real city, between the date of the construction of the city to the coming of Christ the Messiah, is four hundred thirty-four years [Daniel 9:26]. That is, from 396 to  AD; and that period ends with the death of Christ [Daniel 9:26], and a little later the destruction of the city and the sanctuary by the Romans [Matthew 24:2].
Then you have a last heptad, a last seven years, that is separate and apart [Daniel 9:26]. And that seven years ends with the millennial kingdom of Christ [Revelation 20:6]. When I read the prophecy, immediately I am confronted as you are, with the astonishing revelation that when the sixty-nine heptads, when the four hundred eighty-three years are done [Daniel 9:25-26], then comes that final week, the final seven years [Daniel 9:27], that ends in the millennial reign of Christ [Revelation 20:6]. But that didn’t come to pass.
At the end of this final week, seven years after the death of the Messiah [Daniel 9:26-27], there’s no millennial kingdom, there’s no reign of Christ on earth [Revelation 20:6]. There must be something to the prophecy that we must read and understand. What is it? Now, the answer to that is very simple and very plain. Between the sixty-ninth heptad and the beginning of the seventieth heptad, before that last and final week, there is a great interlude [Daniel 9:26-27]. There is a great intermission. This is the age of the church, and the age of grace, which was a secret kept in the heart of God until it was revealed to the apostles [Ephesians 3:3-10]. That is, the prophets of the Old Testament never saw the church. They never saw the age of grace. They never saw the body of Christ. There is no reference in the Old Testament to the church, to the age of grace, because God kept it in His heart as a secret until He revealed it to His holy apostles [Ephesians 3:5].
I haven’t time to read the passage, but in the third chapter of Ephesians you will find Paul expiating upon that in detail [Ephesians 3:1-11]. The Old Testament prophets never saw the church; it was never revealed to them [Ephesians 3:5]. The prophets of the Old Testament and the prophecies of the Old Covenant have to do with the chosen people, the chosen covenant family of God, the Hebrew nation, and with them and them alone in their relation to the Gentile world [Exodus 33:16; Leviticus 20:24; 1 Kings 8:53].
When therefore, you see people who are finding the church in the Old Testament, you immediately fall into gross and illimitable confusion; and the Bible and its prophetic message become a jigsaw puzzle that has no ultimate design, aim, end, or purpose. The Bible becomes inexplicable.
Do you remember the admonition of the apostle Paul to his young son, Timothy, in the ministry? “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2 Timothy 2:15]; and if we do not do that, the Bible becomes in itself an enigma wrapped up in a mystery.
I want to show this to you: you see that beautiful Bible I hold in my hand? I preach out of this King James Version of the Bible. Now, up here at the top, the editors have written captions; and in all of your Bibles you’ll find them. Up here at the top, the editor has written captions. All right, I turn to the Book of Isaiah, and this is the caption I read at the top: “The church comforted with God’s promises.” Now I’ll read it again, “The church comforted with God’s promises.” Then when I look at the text, this is what I read, “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine” [Isaiah 43:1]. Why, up here he says “The church comforted with God’s promises,” but when I read the Bible, it is addressed to Jacob and to Israel [Isaiah 43:1].
All right, I turn through Isaiah again, and I read the same caption, “The church comforted with God’s promises.” But when I read the text, this is what it said, “Yet now hear, O Jacob My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob My servant, and thou, Jesurun,” which is a pet name for Israel, “and thou Jesurun, whom I have chosen” [Isaiah 44:1-2].
The Bible becomes inexplicable. Here they say, it’s addressed to the church; but when I read it, it is addressed to Israel. You can’t understand the Bible, nor does it have any design, meaning, if you don’t “rightly divide the word of truth” [2 Timothy 2:15]. The church is not in the Old Testament, the prophets did not see it. Paul expressly says that the church “was a secret kept in the heart of God, until He revealed it to His apostles through Christ the Lord” [Ephesians 3:3-10].
Now there are three things that you can do about the promises that God made to Israel in the Old Testament, and they are multitudinous, they are endless. There are three things you can do with them. One: you can do like many of the expositors of the Bible do. They look upon those promises as fictional. “It is Hebrew poetry and wishful thinking, and has no basis in actual fact or reality, now or in the future.” That’s one way you can deal with the promises of God to Israel in the Old Covenant, in the old Bible, in the Old Testament. All right, there’s a second thing you can do with them: you can take all of those promises that are written in the Old Testament, and you can say that Israel forfeited her rights before God and her privileges and prerogatives when she rejected Christ the Messiah, and now all of those promises pertain to the church of the Gentiles. That’s what the editor of this Bible did out of which I preach. He took the promises that were made to Israel, and he applied them all to the church of the Gentiles.
Or, there is a third thing that you can do: you can say God doesn’t lie, nor does He mislead His people [Numbers 23:19]. And you can say that every syllable and every word that God promised to His covenant people He will safely, and surely, and assuredly keep! Not a promise that God made to Israel will fall to the ground! But there is coming a day, there is coming a time, there is coming an era when every one of those prophecies God will faithfully fulfill. And that is the meaning of the prophecy of Daniel! In this final week, in this final heptad [Daniel 9:26-27], in this final seven years God will faithfully perform every one of those prophecies that He made to His chosen people. And the reason that Daniel set that week apart, put it down here at the end, was, he did not know that between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week was this great hiatus, this dispensation of the church, of the period of grace, because, he being a Hebrew prophet, it was hid from his eyes. And the fact of it was a secret that was kept in the heart of God until the Lord revealed it to His holy apostles [Ephesians 3:5-10].
Is the Lord done then with the Jewish nation and with the Jewish people? Is He? What do the Scriptures say? What do the prophets say? And what do the apostles say? Now let’s briefly go through one or two or three things about that.
One: Paul begins the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans with this word, this question, “Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. God hath not cast away the people whom He foreknew” [Romans 11:1-2]. He begins the chapter with that. Then the rest of the chapter says that someday God is going to graft back into the olive tree its natural branches; that is, the Hebrew nation [Romans 11:23-24]. “And so all Israel will be saved” [Romans 11:26].
When I turn to the Old Testament, I find that the promises that are made to Israel are unconditional, and fervent, and intense. Listen to just some of them for a moment. Spare me your heart and ears for just a moment, for there’s not anything more vital in the interpretation of the Bible than the understanding of this vision that Gabriel brought from heaven to Daniel [Daniel 9:21]. Now look at some of these words from the Old Covenant, from the Old Testament, addressed to Israel.
Look at this one in Jeremiah:
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee:
though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee”—
Israel will be a nation before God forever and forever. Look at it again—
Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar: The Lord of hosts is His name.
Now look, “If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord,” if there’s not any more day, if there’s not any more night, and the sea isn’t contained in its great ocean bed, “if those ordinances depart from before Me, then, saith the Lord, so also the seed of Israel shall cease from being a nation before Me forever” [Jeremiah 31:36]. As long as there is day, God says, and as long as there is night, God says, “Israel will be a nation before Me.”
I turn again, in the Old Testament covenant:
Thus saith the Lord: If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night,
and that there should not be day and night, then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant,
that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne.
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, “Considerest thou not what this people hath spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, He hath even cast them off?” “We are ruined, we are destroyed”[Jeremiah 33:24], those people said when the days of the terrible captivity came. Then the Lord replies,
Thus saith the Lord, If My covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: But I am going to cause the captivity to return, and I will have mercy on them.
Now can God lie? Does God through His holy prophets mislead His people? [Numbers 23:19].
There is an end to the ruin of Jacob, and the destruction of Israel, and the waste of their land and of their people. I read just one other––bear with me––here in the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah:
Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, and the joy of the generations.
Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and thou shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am the Savior, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
For brass I will bring gold, for iron I will bring silver, for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.
And then it goes on to describe the millennial glory of Israel [Isaiah 60:18-22].
Is not that what we have found in history, just exactly what God has written here in His Word? What I read on the pages of the story of mankind, what I read in the papers today is exactly what I read in the holy pages of the Bible. The children of Israel were carried away into exile in Babylon. They were there almost three generations before the edict of Cyrus in 536 BC [Ezra 6:3].
But their hearts were still in the holy city, and in the Holy Land, and in the holy sanctuary; and their yearnings were toward Jerusalem, even as Daniel typically opened his windows and prayed toward the holy city [Daniel 6:10]. And when God scattered them in 70 AD over the face of the earth, and they were buried among the nations of the Gentiles, were they assimilated?
Sometimes hated, sometimes persecuted, sometimes unto death, murdered by millions even in our generation, yet they have remained a distinct nation without a king, without a government, without a country, through the centuries and the centuries, like the Gulf Stream they remain separate and apart. And God has a great purpose for them. He says so in the Holy Scriptures.
The Jewish people are like quicksilver. They’re like mercury dashed upon the earth, and the drops scattered all over. But someday, God will gather the bright drops and restore them to their land and restore them to their holy city. And the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy we see before our very eyes today. And thus it is that the apostle Paul writes that “there is coming a time when all Israel shall be saved,” which is one of the strangest and most inexplicable verses in the Bible, Romans 11:26.
Now let me come briefly and summarily to the seventieth week of Daniel, the last heptad. He describes this; he describes this as being a time of great tribulation:
The end shall be with a flood, and war is determined.
And he, this prince, 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, and there shall be abominations and desolations.
What does that refer to? This seventieth week of Daniel [Daniel 9:26-27] is the great tribulation that precedes the millennial coming of our Lord. It lasts seven years. The seventieth week of Daniel [Daniel 9:26-27], is Revelation 4 through Revelation 19 [Revelation 4:1-19:21]. And it ends in the battle of Armageddon, the great holocaust of the nations of the earth [Revelation 19:13-16, 19:17-21].
“The prince that comes” [Daniel 9:26], refers to the final Antichrist––and I’ll not review that because I preached a whole sermon on that Sunday a week ago––the prince that shall come in that seventieth week [Daniel 9:26-27], that last great week, is the final and ultimate Antichrist. He will come as a prince of peace, as the savior of the world; leading all the nations of the earth out of their chaos and economic frustration and debilitation and destruction and ruin [Daniel 9:26]. He’ll be the soter, the savior of the world; and the whole world will accept him [Daniel 9:27], because it is in such agony of despair, nationally, internationally. Now, this final dictator makes a covenant with the Jewish people, and they receive him as the other nations do [Daniel 9:27]. He promises them their return to the Holy Land. He promises them peace in the Holy Land. He promises them their rebuilt temple.
And for three and a half years this ultimate and final dictator, who is the ruler of the whole world, the nations of the earth, the united nations of the earth, give to him the leadership of all of their economic, political, military, social, cultural policies; all of it is in him. And he makes this covenant with the Jewish people. And for three and a half years they are there in their land in peace and prosperity [Daniel 9:27]. But in the midst of that week, in the middle of that week [Daniel 9:27], he shows his true colors.
He is Satan’s final masterpiece, and he breaks the covenant with the Jewish people, and he sets himself up in the holy sanctuary as God. And Paul delineates this in the second chapter of the second Thessalonian letter [2 Thessalonians 2:4]; and he causes the sacrifice and the oblation to cease [Daniel 9:27]. He destroys the worship of God in the temple, in the sanctuary at Jerusalem, and immediately the whole world is plunged into that, what the Greek of the New Testament in the seventh chapter of Revelation that you read, he thlipsis he megale, ”the tribulation, the great” [Revelation 7:14]. And we haven’t time to enter into that. But at the end of that great tribulation, which is the seventieth week of Daniel, this last heptad [Daniel 9:26-27], at the end of that seventieth week, which ends in the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 19:17-21], the great denouement of the age comes, Christ appears in glory, and we begin the millennial reign [Revelation 20:1-6].
How does the millennial reign begin? This is the revelation in Daniel. I read it. This is the consummation of Jewish history, and this is the conversion of the Jewish people, [Daniel 9:24]:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, 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, and to anoint the Most Holy.
That is a description of the millennial coming and reign of Christ. At the end of that seventieth week, when the last Gentile has been saved, Paul says in Romans 11:25, that “darkness, a veil, has covered the heart, blindness of Israel, until the pleroma of the Gentiles be come in.” Pleroma, that’s a simple Greek word meaning “the full number” [Romans 11:25].
When the full number of the Gentiles has come in, when the last one to be saved comes down that aisle, when the last one, when the last Gentile has accepted Christ as his Savior, “When the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, then all Israel shall be saved” [Revelation 11:25-26]. The end of the seventieth week [Daniel 9:27], the denouement of the age, then God begins with His Jewish people. And he describes that day, “to seal up the vision and the prophecy” [Daniel 9:24], that is, it’s all done, it’s finished, and the seal has been placed on the volume. It’s over.
“And to anoint the Most Holy” [Daniel 9:24], that could be Israel receiving their Messiah in His throne room, bowing before His grace and His presence. Or, I think it refers to––and this is the actual Hebrew of it––“And to anoint the Most Holy One” [Daniel 9:24]. Some say it means “the Most Holy Place”; whichever way, it is the same. The prophecy of the Bible is that at the end time, Israel will receive her Messiah.
That is expressly stated, and delineated, and described in the prophet Zechariah, chapters 12, 13, and 14. When the Lord comes back, He shall appear to His people. The nation Israel, they will all be gathered at that time in Palestine, in Israel, in their sacred Holy Land, and in their sacred home. And the Lord will appear to them, and there will be a great mourning as there was at Hadad-rimmon, that is, up there in Megiddo [Zechariah 12:11] at the death of good King Josiah.
“And they will mourn when they look upon Him whom they have pierced” [Zechariah 12:10]. All of this is in Zechariah. And they will receive Him, and He will be their King, and they shall be His people forever and ever [Zechariah 13:9]. They shall share with us, the church of the Gentiles, the body of Christ; they shall share with us the glories of the millennial kingdom.
Is that peculiar or strange? Not at all. Didn’t the Lord appear personally to James His brother [1 Corinthians 15:7], and to His other brethren, Joseph and Simon? Didn’t the Lord appear to them personally, and win them to Himself before He went to glory? Didn’t He? And didn’t the Lord appear personally to Saul on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:1-5], when Saul said, “He was ektroma, one born out of due time, that is, he was an abortion before the time” [1 Corinthians 15:8]. Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad?
It’s the most glorious prospect that mind could imagine, that the Lord will appear to His chosen people and win them to Himself, and that they shall share with us in that millennial reign of Christ. And aren’t you glad that in His grace and mercy that extended to James, that extended to Joseph and Simon and Jude, that extended to the apostle Paul, to Saul of Tarsus, aren’t you glad, and it extended to us?
As Paul wrote in the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians, that we, we Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of the promises in Christ by the gospel; we’re chosen too [Ephesians 3:6-10]. We’re loved too. We’re blessed too. And all of us are to be one with Christ and His brethren and His people in the millennial kingdom; live, and reign, and worship before Him forever and forever [Revelation 22:3-5].
Oh, the depths and the height of the infinite mercy and goodness of God, as the Lord extends to us His love, forgiveness, and salvation! To you, to us, it is ours. Take it! Live in it! Rejoice in it! Be encouraged by it! Die in that faith [Ephesians 2:8]. Be resurrected in that glory [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. Reign with Christ forever and ever [Revelation 22:5].
Our time is far spent. We sing our hymn of appeal. In this balcony round, somebody you, on this lower floor, a family or a couple you, as the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, as God shall say the word of invitation, come. On the first note of that first stanza, into that aisle and down here to the front, “Here I am, pastor, I make it now.” Into that aisle, on this lower floor, “Here’s my hand, preacher, I give my heart to God. I’m answering the Lord’s appeal today.” As the Spirit shall say the word, come [Revelation 22:17]. Make it now, do it now, while we stand and while we sing.