How to Reckon the Seventy Weeks
The Prophecy Stated…
The prophecy we’re considering is found in Daniel 9:24-27, and reads as follows: “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 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 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.” The entire chapter should be carefully read in connection with this study.
The Basis of the postponement Theory…
It must be quite obvious to any reverent student of the Word of God that no one should postpone or alter a prophecy without Scriptural grounds for doing so. We must remember that only Christ has the authority to institute a doctrine. Did Christ preach that His kingdom was postponed? Did He introduce a parenthesis? It’s not difficult to discover places where he challenged the authority of teaching that ran counter to His eternal purpose. He regulated the Mosaic teaching on divorce when abuses crept in. He interpreted the “eye for an eye” teaching as out of harmony with His doctrine of “love your enemies.” He scorned the Pharisaic interpretation of the Sabbath when it made a mockery out of His eternal purpose. Jesus did not hesitate to correct any misunderstanding that arose in connection with His true mission. But we look in vain for the least hint of a suggestion that he deviated in the slightest degree from the complete fulfillment of prophetic utterances relating to His kingdom.
Dispensationalists recognize the absence of any clear Scripture setting forth the postponement theory, so they liken the prophets to men standing on a Western plain gazing at the distant mountains. In the dim distance they could behold the rugged peaks, but could not discern the valleys that intervene between the far off ranges. These valleys, they maintain illustrate the interposition of the Church age between the two comings of Christ. “The Great Parenthesis.” (p. 12) We’d like to correct this plausible illustration regarding the prophets being likened to men on a Western plain. How, for instance, could Moses stand on the sea shore and write, “Let the waters under heaven be gathered into ONE place.” (Gen. 1:9) Certainly not by gazing over the expanse of that comparatively small body of water with which he was familiar. Nevertheless he enunciated a truth, which the most modern discoveries verify, namely that all the oceans of the world are joined together. The answer is inspiration. The prophets penetrated the future in a manner that could be likened to a bird’s eye view of the events to come in which nothing could possibly escape their view. They didn’t describe their own vision, but wrote what “Thus saith the Lord.” “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved of the Holy Ghost. (2 Pet. 1:21) Any suggestion that the prophets were mistaken is a reflection on the Holy Ghost.
Under a chapter heading entitled, “Further Instances of the Hidden Interval,” H. A. Ironside labors to introduce some evidence of the Church Age parenthesis that escaped the view of the prophets. We cite but two quotations to illustrate our point. Dan. 8:22, “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. (verse 23) And in the latter time of their kingdom …” Mr. Ironside contends that the Church Age intervenes between these two verses. Quoting from Dan. 11:35, “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed. (verse 36) And the king shall do according to his will …” Again, it is contended that the parenthesis intervenes between these two verses which are separated only by the conjunction ”and.” We readily grant the accuracy of Mr. Ironside’s comment, that the prophets could not possibly have realized any intervening event of such stupendous importance as the entire Church Age between the separate clauses of these sentences. We must also confess that we, too, fail to be convinced of the parenthesis on the basis of the vague and obscure evidence submitted.
The Prophecy Explained…
The prophecy we’re examining unequivocally declare that “Seventy weeks are determined,” Premillennialists contend that the seventieth week failed to materialize after the sixty-ninth and that it’s still future and that God’s clock stopped. For those who share their interpretation, God’s plan must be regarded as indeterminate and capable of various solutions. But for those who just look for God to do exactly what He said He would do, and do it precisely when He declared it would be done, there’s no problem at all. It all comes out “according to His determinate counsel and foreknowledge.” Even the Scofield R. B. suggests that prophetic time is not supposed to be indeterminate when it says, “That when Christ appeared to the Jewish people, the next thing in the order of revelation as it then stood, should have been the setting up of the Davidic kingdom.” (p.998) In other words the 70th week of prophecy arrived and should have been fulfilled, but since the events didn’t coincide with their views they contend that the prophecy itself failed, and boldly state that God substituted an alternate plan, which was unforeseen by Old Testament prophets. It’s our view: anything touching God’s eternal purpose should not be changed without authority from Christ Himself, and any suggestion of a change should be subjected to minute scrutiny by God’s children.
You’ll notice that the sixty-nine weeks are divided into two periods of events signified as seven weeks and threescore and two weeks. This sixty-nine week period, (literally 69 times 7, or 483 years) ended at the baptism of Jesus. This event marked the anointing and manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah. It was then the heavens opened and the Spirit descended upon Him as God spoke saying, ”This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) It was at this time that Jesus officially entered upon His duties and was publicly anointed as Messiah. Henceforth, He was Messiah the Prince.
The first seven weeks include the time from Daniel to Malachi. During this difficult time the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. Next we read, “And AFTER the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off.” The Messiah was, therefore, cut off in the seventieth week, because that week is “after” the 69th. The seventieth week included the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a matter of record that He was crucified (cut off) three and a half years after He began His ministry, i.e. “In the midst of the week.” This fact demands the detailed fulfillment of Dan. 9:24. It’s quite obvious that if the 70th week is future then the things prophesied therein must also be future. Conversely, if the events have come to pass we must concede that the week did come as and when God determined it should.
The Prophecy Was Fulfilled in Every Detail…
As we take up the various clauses of verse 24, we discover six things are predicted. We’ll examine each of them separately. (1) “To finish the transgression.” To what transgression did this prophecy refer? In order to understand it, we should read Luke 11:47-51. Therein Jesus told of the long list of crimes committed by the fathers against the prophets and ended by saying, “That their blood would be required of this generation.” A parallel passage is found in Matt. 23:29-32 of which vs. 32 says, “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers” The fathers killed the prophets, but the Jews whom Jesus spoke to killed the Messiah. In so doing, they finished their transgression, or filled up the measure of their fathers because no future transgression can equal the crucifixion. This terrible deed was committed in the seventieth week as prophesied by Daniel.
(2) “To make an end of sins.” The very purpose for which Christ came into the world was to make an end of sins. In Matt. 1:21 we read the familiar announcement of the angels. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.” The death of Christ, which occurred in the 70th week is what saves people from their sins and thus, for each believer it makes an end of sins.
(3) “To make reconciliation for iniquity.” This is the central theme of the prophecy. The Chaldean lexicon simply renders it, “To atone for sins.” That Christ came to make atonement for sins, we all admit. It’s imperative that the atonement should be made in the time determined by God, that is, in the 70th week. If the 70th week is still future, then, the atonement is also, for the atonement was the main event to take place in the 70th week. The death of Christ in the midst of the 70th week made atonement for our sins in accordance with the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.
(4) “To bring in everlasting righteousness.” The redemption of Christ does bring everlasting righteousness. Of course, it only applies to the believer, but that’s all He intended. His own words are, ”He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” (John 3:36)
(5) “To seal up the vision and prophecy.” This part of the prophecy can best be answered by quoting Heb. 1:1, 2, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the father by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” Christ is God’s last message to man. For over nineteen hundred years this seal has remained on vision and prophecy and we need expect no further addition until Jesus comes again on the judgment scene. God’s first message was through the prophets; His last is through His Son.
(6) “To anoint the most holy.” This anointing took place on the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament God met with His people in the “holy of holies” in the temple made with hands. The High Priest went in once each year to make atonement for the people. But after the Holy Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost He took up His habitation in the hearts of men, that is to say, in His Church, which is the body of Christ. In 1 Cor. 6:19, we read, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” This infilling of the Holy Ghost also took place in the 70th week in accordance with God’s plan.
You’ll notice that each one of the six predicted things came to pass exactly as prophesied. There’s absolutely no reference to the “Davidic Kingdom” or to any “national re-establishment of Israel as a nation in everlasting righteousness” mentioned in the passage whatsoever. These elements are introduced from the Talmud rather than the Scriptures. If we accept the interpretation of the Rabbis and premillennialists, then, we must place the 70th week in the mysterious future. But if we just take the events predicted in their natural sense, they all come to pass exactly in the predicted time, namely the 70th week.*
*Note: The original text from which “Seventy weeks are determined: is derived reads: “Seventy hebdomads are cut off.” The hebdomad was the Hebrew term for sevens and it applied to weeks of days as well as years. In this prophecy it is quite evident that it refers to years. The Jews had just completed 70 years captivity in Babylon and were looking forward to their return to Palestine. In prayer God revealed to Daniel that 70 times 7 years were determined to complete God’s dealings with Israel as a nation, that is to the consummation. Other renderings are: “Seventy hebdomands are insulated” or “set apart.” In each case it renders it impossible to extend beyond the period of 490 years without destroying it altogether. (See Pulpit Commentary Vol. 29, page 280)
Confirming The Covenant
Who Confirms the Covenant?
We now turn our attention to the covenant mentioned in Dan. 9:27, which reads as follows: “And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: Most premillennialists and all dispensationalists introduce “the anti-christ” into the prophecy at this point and contend that it’s he who will make a covenant with the Jews in Jerusalem during the 70th week in the future. The anti-christ is portrayed as a “prince, a king, as God and as Lucifer, as a beast and as a man.” (See Blackstone’s “Jesus is Coming,” pp. 108, 109) The only place in the Bible where anti-christ is mentioned is 1st and 2nd John. These books were written 600 years after Daniel. There’s no mention of anti-christ in Daniel at all, or for that matter, in the entire Old Testament. It seems inconsistent, therefore, to relate the pronoun “he” of Daniel 9:27 to anti-christ, who is first introduced 600 years later.
In our efforts to identify the one who ratified the covenant mentioned in Daniel, we wish to quote from H. A. Ironside’s book, “The Great Parenthesis,” as follows: “Strange is it that many have supposed it was Prince Messiah Himself who was to confirm a covenant for one week. But when did He ever make such a covenant? The blood of the covenant which He shed upon the cross is not to confirm a covenant for seven years, but it is the blood of the everlasting covenant.” (p. 25) It’s interesting to note that this writer does acknowledge that Christ ratified a covenant in the 70th week of prophecy. What he denies is, that the everlasting covenant, which came into effect through the cross, was in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. In consequence of this unfortunate and unwarranted application of the prophecy to a Jewish nationalistic re-establishment, the Dispensationalists refuse to acknowledge the covenant of Christ as fulfilling the prophecy, even though it does coincide with the prophetic time prescribed by Daniel.
From a grammatical standpoint the pronoun “he” must refer to its antecedent. It we do this, it will be immediately plain that it means the Messiah. This will be apparent if we quote the passage again from the 25th verse and connect up the main events pertaining to the Messiah and leave the portion pertaining to the “prince” to its proper place at the end of the chapter. Quote: “Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto MESSIAH the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks … and after the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off … and He, (the Messiah) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” You will notice, mention is made of seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks and last of all, one week. This accounts for all seventy. It’s after the sixty-ninth week that Messiah is cut off. That fact definitely places it in the seventieth week---that last remaining week of the prophecy. It was during this week that Christ did confirm His covenant with many according to Matt. 26:26-28. On this solemn occasion Christ instituted the most sacred of Christian ordinances, the Lord’s Supper, saying, “This is My blood of THE NEW TESWTAMENT (literally covenant), which is shed for MANY for the remission of sins.”
Conclusive Proof Links Christ With the Covenant…
The death of Christ very definitely instituted the New and Everlasting Covenant, and Christ emphatically confirmed that covenant with many during the three and a half years of His ministry on earth. Even the words of Daniel are almost identical with those of Matthew---“He shall confirm the covenant with many”---“this is My blood of the New Testament which is shed for many”
The evidence is very conclusive. There are 281 references to “covenant” in the Scriptures, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance. Not one of these references in any way introduces the idea of a covenant between the Jews and “the Anti-Christ.” There’s not a hint anywhere that such a covenant is suggested, intended, proposed or prophesied at any time. Concerning the covenant between the believers and the Messiah there are many scores of such references. They’re found in almost every book in the Bible. The reason is, because when the Jews broke the Old Covenant, (see Jer. 31:31-33) then, God purposed to make a new and everlasting covenant with His people. Consequently, all the prophets refer to it, and Daniel foretold that it would be ratified in the 70th week of his prophecy. (Cp. Heb. 8:7-10)
Even more convincing is the testimony supplied by the Hebrew word for Covenant used in the phrase, “He shall confirm the covenant.” The word for covenant is “Bereeth” according to the Pulpit Commentary; it’s spelled “berith” in Young’s Analytical Concordance. In the Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 29, p. 275, a lengthy exposition points out that “Bereeth” is only used in connection with a Divine Covenant. It’s never used to designate a “league” with any other power or force, but is always reserved to describe a covenant between God and man. For that reason the covenant can’t apply to anyone except the Messiah. It cannot possibly describe a covenant with “the Anti-Christ” or any political group, involving apostate Jews.
It’s further explained that when the covenant is confirmed the sacrifice and oblation ceases. The Massoretic text renders it: “And one week shall confirm a covenant to many, and in the middle of the week MY sacrifice and offering shall be taken away.” The use of the pronoun “my” removes all doubt concerning what sacrifice and oblation is meant. It was the Mosaic sacrifices, which God ordained and honored until the death of Christ. That’s the only sacrifice God could call “MY” sacrifice.
The death of Christ on Calvary DID institute the New and everlasting covenant and Christ Himself DID confirm that covenant with many during His earthly ministry. When Christ died on the cross the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom, thus signifying that the old sacrifices and oblations had ceased to have any spiritual or efficacious value. At best, they were but a shadow of good things to come, (Heb. 10:1), and when Christ died on the cross the “better covenant was established” (Heb. 8:6) The old covenant with its sacrifices and oblations became null and void immediately when Christ died, and in that sense, He caused them to cease.
We are bold to maintain the plain testimony of Scripture that the seventy weeks of Daniel are seventy consecutive weeks without a break and without any part failing to come to pass at the time and in the manner God determined. Since “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy,” (Rev. 19:10) we’re positive that the Messiah is the Person Daniel refers to when he says, “He shall confirm the Covenant.” In Rom. 15:8, it declares that, “Jesus Christ was a minister … to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” The only covenant in Bible prophecy is the Everlasting Covenant, the “Bereeth,” or Divine Covenant, which Christ did confirm in the 70th prophetic week, the one week of His public ministry, which culminated in His sacrificial death. His death and shed blood brought it into effect. (Heb.13:28)
God Cannot Fail…
It should be noted finally that the angel Gabriel made the announcement to Daniel. The Bible only mentions him on three occasions. He came to Daniel at the start of the 70 weeks and then he came to Zacharias and Mary to announce the birth of John the Baptist and the Messiah as the time of fulfillment drew near. Note also that the only date mentioned in the New Testament is found in Luke 3:1, 2, telling of the ruling hierarchy in both Jewish and Gentile states at that time, and signifying an impending event that would affect both Jews and Gentiles, i.e. the whole world. It was the year that Jesus was baptized; the year He was manifested to His people. It was the year He began to fulfill the promises made to the fathers---the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. Is it any wonder that the first evangels began their message by preaching “The Kingdom of God, saying the time is fulfilled?” What time was fulfilled? There was only one time to be fulfilled and that was the prophecy of Daniel. Just as Daniel “understood by books the number of years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah,” Dan.9:2, and therefore, knew the time had come for the Jews to return to Jerusalem, SO John the Baptist and Christ knew that the time specified by the angel Gabriel had been fulfilled. This set time was so certain and so determined by God that when Jesus was first attacked by His enemies He said, “My time is not yet come,” John 7:6, but in John 13:1 it says, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew His HOUR WAS COME.” (compare John 2:4;7:30;8:20;12:23;and 17:1)
God is never late. He never postpones His appointments. In the midst of the 70th week, the Messiah was cut off, and the entire prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. The remaining half of the week includes the time in which the gospel was proclaimed almost exclusively to the Jews. It ended with the death of Stephen and the conversion of Paul. After that, more and more Gentiles accepted Christ.
The covenant the Messiah confirmed in the 70th week was not limited in duration to seven years, but was brought into effect in the 70th week. The more ancient versions make this plain. The Massoretic text for instance, says, “One week shall confirm the covenant.” The reader has to choose between the plain teaching of Scripture and the interpretation given by Dispensational literature as to whether this prophecy came to pass of not. Commenting on the clauses of Dan. 9:24, H. A. Ironside says, “The fact is, they were not fulfilled. Israel did not recognize their Messiah.” But Jesus was their Messiah regardless of their failure to recognize Him, and that fulfilled the prophecy. Ironside says, “They do not know Him yet as their Sinbearer.” But He is their Sinbearer, not for them only, but for the sins of the whole world, and that is what Daniel prophesied. Quoting again, “Their transgression has not been finished.” What transgression is not finished, or what could add to the enormity of crucifying their Messiah? Quoting, “An end to sins for them has not been made.” To which we reply, “And thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Numerous Scriptures bear evidence to the fact that the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is God’s final offer to all mankind. For example Heb. 9:26, says, “But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” (John 1:12) This abundantly and conclusively fulfills Daniel’s prophecy. Lastly we quote, “Vision and prophecy have not been sealed up.” So far as the coming of Christ, the Messiah, is concerned, prophecy ended with Malachi. A silent waiting period of about 400 years was unbroken until the actual heralds of the Messiah began to proclaim that He was in their midst. We wish to reiterate our claim that God’s prophecy through Daniel did not fail, and that we regard it as a serious matter for anyone to suggest that it did. Truly, this is one of the most miraculous prophecies in the Bible, and when rightly understood it will strengthen our faith in all of God’s promises and will yield rich spiritual blessings as we meditate upon it.
The Great Tribulation
The Time of Tribulation Established…
We now come to a different phase of our enquiry, namely the great tribulation. Numerous books have been written about this dire event that have filled many minds with fearsome foreboding. Dispensationalists interpret this manifestation of Divine wrath as taking place in the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy still future. The Scofield R. B says, “From this time begins the great tribulation which runs its course during the last half of Daniel’s week, namely, three and one half years.” (p.918) As a corollary of the teaching the Jews are to be re-gathered in Palestine and make a covenant with the antichrist, which the church is to be raptured away previous to the bitter vials of tribulation visited on the inhabitants left on the earth. After the tribulation Christ is to set up His kingdom on earth with headquarters at Jerusalem and reign in splendor for 1000 years during which time the Jews are to be pre-eminent.
To support this teaching dispensationalists quote Daniel 12:1, which says, “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” If we can identify the time Daniel had in mind, it shouldn’t be difficult to recognize the trouble he predicted. A definite clue to the time is furnished in verse 8 of the same chapter. It reads as follows: “And when he shall have accomplished to SCATTER the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” This is rendered by Knox as, “Strength of God’s holy people must be broken utterly; when that is over, all is over and done.” Regardless of what trouble Daniel had reference to, it’s evident that it was not to end with a re-gathered Israel installed in supreme authority for any prescribed period of time, but on the contrary it was to end in dispersion and with their power utterly broken. Moreover, when the scattering of Israel was to take place, then all Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled. Naturally, this includes the 70th week. One scarcely needs to recall the tragic dispersion, which history records as having occurred in A. D. 70. Every detail mentioned by Daniel was minutely fulfilled when the Jews were driven from their land and scattered throughout the nations of the world.
Light From Other Bible Translations…
It’s been clearly established that the 70th week of Daniel came to pass as God determined during the life, death and resurrection of Christ, through which He ratified the everlasting covenant. Actually Daniel makes no mention of the word tribulation. He does speak of “The overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,” 9:27, but a careful reading of vv. 216, 27, will show that this desolation is not included in the 70 weeks, although it’s closely related to that event. “Be assured of this, and mark it well; a period of seven weeks must go by, and another period of sixty-two weeks, between the order to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of Christ as leader … Sixty-two weeks must pass before Christ is done to death; and the people will disown him and have none of him. [and they (the Jews) shall NO MORE be his people. Marginal reading.] High covenant he shall make before another week is done, and with folks a many; but when that week has run half its course, offering and burnt sacrifice shall be none.” (Knox Translation) This version of this particular passage serves to strengthen our conclusion that all 70 weeks are accounted for, and that Christ did make His covenant in the 70th week. After the prophecy that Christ is rejected and crucified, however, we read, “Then the army of an invading leader will destroy both city and sanctuary, so that his taking away will mean utter destruction; only a ruin is to be left when that war is ended … in the temple all shall be defilement and desolation.” (Knox) There can be no difficulty in identifying this desolation with the complete destruction that overwhelmed Jerusalem in A. D. 70, particularly in the light of Christ’s words, “Behold your house (the temple) is left unto you DESOLATE.” (Matt. 23:38 and Luke 13:35)
An Unmistakable Sign Given---What?
The prophecy of the tribulation is told in Matt. 24 in answer to this question asked by the disciples. “Tell us when shall these thing be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and the end of the world?” (vv. 3, 4. Jesus first warned His disciples not to be deceived. Then He said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand;) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains; let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; neither let him which is in the field turn back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Ch. 24:15-21)
In considering the words “Whoso readeth let him understand,” we conclude that what’s written isn’t meant to be obscure. For that reason we’re forced to take issue with the dispensationalists who assert that the abomination spoken of by Daniel “is an idol placed in the holy of holies of the temple during the reign of the anti-christ.” (See Blackstone p. 187) A little sober reflection, with the aid of the Word of God will dissipate any such private interpretation.
In the first place, the origin of this teaching is found in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees, 1:57, “On the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred and fort-fifth year, kin Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Judea round about.” Dispensationalists borrow this historic incident connected with Antiochus and maintain that it will be repeated in the future under anti-christ. The status referred to is that of Jupiter, which desecrated God’s altar during the reign of Antiochus. Many identify Antiochus as a type of anti-christ. The difficulty encountered here, however, is apparent when we remember that an idol in the holy of holies could not possibly serve as a warning to the people of Judea for they couldn’t SEE such a thing. Only the high priest was allowed in that shrine. Jesus spoke of something the people could see. Evidently it was something that couldn’t be mistaken when it came to pass. We submit the following evidence to support this contention.
The Tribulation prophecy is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. In Matthew, it’s written primarily for the Jews, who were familiar with the Old Testament prophecies and would, therefore, recognize the warning when it came to pass. That’s why Matthew say, “Whoso readeth let him understand.” For them, it was simply a case of fulfilled prophecy. The gospel of Luke was written especially for the Gentiles and they weren’t acquainted with prophecy. Therefore, when the disciples asked the same question about the tribulation in Luke 21:5-8, we find the answer given from verses 8-21 of which vv. 20, 21 are as follows: “And when ye shall SEE Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the DESOLATION thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in JUDEA flee to the mountains …”
Terrible Nature of the Destruction of Jerusalem…
It’s very apparent that a conquering army is a desolating instrument of judgment and that it can plainly be seen. History records the fact that when the armies of Rome led by the Roman PRINCE Titus, surrounded Jerusalem, the Christians living in Judea fled to the mountains and thus escaped annihilation. They were saved. Josephus, an eyewitness who recorded the history of the tragic war, records that when Jerusalem withstood the siege longer than Titus expected, that the Roman armies turned in desolating wrath upon Judea and wreaked fearful vengeance upon the inhabitants who remained there---but the Christians had gone. While Titus was carrying out this terrible mission in Judea, the Christians fled from Jerusalem, knowing from the words of Christ that judgment awaited that city also. Thus the Christians were “saved” out of it. The sign Christ gave them was one they could plainly see, or reading they could understand.
In order to escape the inevitable consequences of this conclusion the Scofield R. B. presents the entirely unwarranted inference that there are two destructions of Jerusalem, one of which took place in A. D. 70 and another in the supposedly future 70th week of Daniel. The words of Luke preclude this view for we read, “For these be the days of vengeance THAT ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN MAY BE FULFILLED.” (Luke 21:22) Of course if ALL things are fulfilled, it’s impossible to look for a future fulfillment of this prophecy. Even the Scofield R. B. makes it clear that the account in Luke describes the Roman conquest and the Bible says that even “fulfilled all things, which are written.”
It is also to be noted: this destruction was by a Roman prince, named Titus. Thus the armies of Titus were “The people of the prince that shall come.” (Dan 9:26) The punishment meted out by his armies is without parallel in history. Recorded by Josephus: during the siege he crucified Jews around Jerusalem until there was no room to put the crosses, or wood to make them with. After unbelievable slaughter, the entire surviving remnant of the nation was sole into slavery and have been a wandering people without a homeland. Truly it was the “Day of Jacob’s trouble.” Moreover, great as was the slaughter by the Romans, it’s recorded that more people perished within the city by the hands of rebels, suicides, anarchy and famine than by the hands of the enemy. The dead bodies, in some instances, were piled five feet deep in parts of the temple courts. Even Josephus, who was an unbeliever declared that it seemed to be the result of: “a judgment on the people.”
Is it any wonder that Christ gave His followers such explicit instructions to escape this terrible ordeal; how fitting His words that they pray “their flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath Day!” How natural that His loving heart should break into sobs as He beheld the city and wept over it because of its impending judgment. Even when He carried His cross, He said, “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.”
Doubtless this world will see tribulations in the future and certainly there’s a coming judgment. But the great tribulation spoken of by Matthew, Mark and Luke: foretold by Daniel, is unquestionably, a matter of history. It’s the fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses in Deut. 28:64, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other.” No word could have been more accurately fulfilled during the past 2000 years. And in support of the conclusion set forth above, we would point out the effect the vision had upon Daniel as told in Dan. 10:2, 3. It says, “In those days, I, Daniel, was in mourning three full weeks.” Manifestly, Daniel saw the destruction of his nation, rather than its re-establishment as a world power, and its tragic end was of such a nature as to cause Daniel to mourn three full weeks.
Forward to Chapters 7 thru 9