How does an amillennialist interpret Daniel 9:24-27?

Daniel 9:24-27 is apocalyptic literature that uses figurative language to predict the nature, timing and consequences of Christ’s work at His first coming.

Daniel 9:24-27

Daniel was written for the Israelites who had been living as captives in Babylon for almost seventy years. It was about 540 BC and it looked as if the Babylonian gods had defeated the God of Israel and the Israel of God. Eighty-two-year-old Daniel wrote to correct this false impression. The structure of the book is:

  • Chapters 1-6: Faithful living in evil times (historical narratives about Daniel’s godly life in Babylon)
  • Chapters 7-12: Forward looking in evil times (dreams and visions about the future)

One day, as Daniel was reading the prophecy of Jeremiah about a seventy-year exile for Israel (Jeremiah 25:8-11; 29:10-14), the angel Gabriel appeared to him with a message about another seventy. In effect, Gabriel said, “Daniel,you’ve been thinking about the seventy years of exile for God’s people. Well that’s not the only seventy in God’s program for Jerusalem. In seventy periods of seven, Jerusalem will witness even greater things.”

is apocalyptic literature…

Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation are full of apocalyptic language, characterized by symbolism, visions, allegories, parables, and symbolic actions. Usually there is a sharp distinction between the heavenly and earthly spheres. The literature takes a pessimistic view of the earthly sphere, and usually centers hope in the heavenly realm, from which salvation will come.

that uses figurative language…

The Bible uses “seven” as a figure of perfection, and “ten” as a figure of completion. Therefore, Daniel’s “seventy sevens” is a perfect and complete period of time. Just as forgiving seventy times seven is a figure for complete and perfect forgiveness, so Daniel’s “seventy sevens” is the “decreed” period in which the greatest work of God is brought to complete perfection.

to predict the nature…of Christ’s work at His first coming.

Daniel portrays this greatest work of God, Christ’s redemption, with three negatives and three positives (Daniel 9:24).

The negatives are:

  • To finish the transgression: Sin will brought under control so that it no longer reigns to the same extent.
  • To make an end of (lit. seal up) sins: Sin will be securely locked up.
  • To make reconciliation for (lit. cover) iniquity: When sin is covered it is atoned for.

The positives are:

  • To bring in everlasting righteousness: God will being in a righteousness from without, eternal in origin and duration.
  • To seal up (lit. authenticate) the vision and prophecy: God’s Word will be accredited and attested by these events.
  • To anoint the Most Holy: God will qualify and enable His Son, the “Holy of Holies” for his central role and huge responsibilities in this great work of redemption.

…to predict the timing…of Christ’s work at His first coming

Daniel divides the “seventy sevens” into three divisions (vv. 25-27):

7 sevens: A medium period of time (@ 460 to 410 BC) which began when Artarxerxes gave the command to rebuild Jerusalem. Daniel describes this as “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” This restoration and rebuilding occurred under Ezra and Nehemiah.

62 sevens: A much longer period of time (@ 410 BC to 30 AD) which began with Jerusalem rebuilt and restored, and finished with Christ’s first coming and, more specifically, with the beginning of His public ministry.

1 seven: A relatively short period of time (@ 30 AD) which began with Christ’s first coming (especially the beginning of His public ministry) and included His life, death and resurrection.

…and to predict the consequences of Christ’s work at His first coming.

After 7 + 62 sevens (69 sevens), or in the middle of the seventieth seven, “Messiah will be cut off” (v. 26), a phrase used both for death and for ratifying a covenant. This “cutting off” will be for the benefit of others, “not for himself,” and it will “confirm the covenant with many.”

The covenant of grace, as revealed through the covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, and as further prophesied by Jeremiah, will be fulfilled by the Messiah.

In the middle of the seventieth seven, Messiah will cause the whole temple worship to cease, to be rendered unnecessary by His death and resurrection (v. 27).

The temple sacrifices did not actually cease until Jerusalem was desolated by Titus in 70 AD, but that was really just the outward manifestation of what had already happened in God’s eyes. In God’s eyes, Christ’s death rendered the sacrificial system unnecessary and over.

So, although the Jews continued to reject Christ’s sacrifice and offer animal sacrifices, God viewed this as “the overspreading of abominations” (v. 27) for which He would punish them with desolation. “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be with a flood” (Daniel 9:26).

Daniel 9:24-27 is apocalyptic literature that uses figurative language to predict the nature, timing and consequences of Christ’s work at His first coming.

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  • Brandon M

    Hi Dr. Murray.

    I have a question.

    First, a bit of background. I had a well-known proponent of classic dispensationalism as my OT professor a few years ago. When we came to the Daniel 9 passage, he tried to make the case that the first 69 weeks were completed in succession and the last week (the 70th) has not yet begun.

    I remember thinking that there was nothing in the text which warrants a delay of the 70th week, since it’s clear the first 69 came successively without any gaps (or extensions).

    So I decided to have a little fun with my prof and told him that he didn’t believe in a “literal fulfillment” of the 70 weeks prophecy, since there was an indefinite amount of time occurring before the start of the 70th week. (I could only take his jabs at amillennialism for so long :)

    Sorry for the detour; but this brings to my question.

    Has the entirety of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy been fulfilled? Have the 70 weeks come to an end with Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension?

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    • David Murray

      Yes, I would say so.

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  • Matthew Abate

    Good morning Dr. Murray,

    Your post is clear and concise. I’m largely sympathetic toward this interpretation. I think what helped me see the viability of this reading was the JETS article by the late J. Barton Payne. One thing that has been a head-scratcher for me is Dan. 9:27.

    When the text says, “he confirmed or made a firm covenant with the many for one week,” I’ve had a tough time with the 2nd half: “with the many for one week.” In my mind, the prepositional phrase “for one week” seems to confine this covenant to a finite time period.

    Now, I understand this covenant to be the New one, which Hebrews 13 characterizes as the “blood of the eternal covenant.” If Dan. 9:27 has the New Covenant in view or even the theological covenant of grace, then it seems contradictory to Hebrews and even other Old Testament declarations of the covenant as found in Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 36 & 37.

    Is the “for one week” phrase restrictive? Or does the original Hebrew allow for reading it as within one week?”

    • David Murray

      Good questions Matthew. The Hebrew does not have any preposition with the phrase “one week.” In other words, it literally says, “He shall confirm a covenant for many one week.” Therefore it would allow a translation that would align with your suggestion or something similar.

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  • http://www.prophecysociety.org/ Dan Bruce

    Dr. Murray, my exposition of Daniel 9:24-27 is considerably different from the one you have posted here. For one thing, the “seventy weeks” are 70 Feast of Weeks, the first seven aligned with the Feasts of Weeks in the seven-year sabbath cycle from 42 BCE to 36 BCE. The sixty-two Feasts of Weeks run from 35 BCE to 27 CE. The seventieth week ends with the Feast of Weeks in 28 CE, and that year between 27 CE and 28 CE includes the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of his public ministry to Israel. You can check out my exposition at http://www.prophecysociety.org/PDF/HITO_FREE.pdf (it’s a free download of my book HE IS THE ONE in PDF format). I hope you will check it out.