A report on the interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27
This report may be read as an addition to my earlier document – “The Rapture“.
In particular, we’ll look at who is referred to in “he shall confirm the covenant” in Daniel 9:27.
Daniel 9:24-27 – 24Seventy 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. 25Know 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. 26And 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. 27And 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 question has been asked: Who does the “he” in Vs 27 refer to?
“he” is a pronoun and can only make sense if we know who “he” refers to. This is known as the antecedent (usually a noun but can be an event or occurrence) which comes before it. Some say the antecedent of “he” is “the Messiah the Prince” of Daniel 9:25, and others say that it is “the prince that shall come” of Daniel 9:26 (which is then determined to be (a) the Roman leader in 70 AD – either Titus or Vespasian – or (b) the antichrist of a future tribulation period). A few say that it could represent “the people of the prince” (Daniel 9:26), but grammatically this is incorrect. Grammatically the most acceptable antecedent is generally the noun which most closely precedes it (that is, “the prince” of Daniel 9:26).
[“the Messiah” (of Daniel 9:25) would normally only be acceptable if it were impossible or illogical for “the prince” of Daniel 9:26 to be the antecedent.]
After some research, I have determined that if Daniel 9:27 refers to tribulation end times, then “he” must apply to the antichrist (note “the Gentiles”) during the 2nd half of the tribulation as per Revelation 11:1-2 and following. This would place the beginning of this 3½ year period at the middle of this final 7-year period.
The antichrist is “the prince (leader; ruler; captain; prince) that shall come” in Vs 26, and he will come from the people who will destroy the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, that is, the Romans. While the Messiah is also named as the Prince (Daniel 9:25), the key to this is that this prince (the “he” of Daniel 9:27) will cause the sacrifices and oblations (at the temple) to cease. The antichrist has to cause their sacrifices to cease so he can set himself up in the place of worship 3½ years before the final build-up to Armageddon and the 2nd coming of Christ the Messiah. Some say that it is Christ who, with His death and resurrection, causes sacrifices to cease, but, as I will explain further on, this is not logical and lacks consistency with the context.
Jesus said (Matthew 24:15-16) that when the Jews saw the abomination of desolation as spoken of by Daniel in Vs 27 above to flee for their very lives. This is also spoken of in Revelation 12:14 where Israel flees to the wilderness where she is kept fed and safe for 3½ years away from the serpent (who is satan through his antichrist). This is the same period (42 months = 3½ years) that the antichrist (of the Gentiles) sets himself up in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:2), and the 2 witnesses are in the streets of Jerusalem for 1260 days (again equal to 3½ years) (Revelation Ch 11:3).
There is no inconsistency in this if “he” is interpreted as the antichrist. He will be a future prince of the Romans who destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD. He will make a covenant with Israel for 7 years (their final week of years), and in the middle of this week of years he will set himself up to be worshipped (and causing temple sacrifices to cease as a result). The 7 years arises from the 70 weeks of years on Israel’s timeline, at the end of which God will “upon thy people and upon thy holy city …. 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.” (Daniel 9:24) The Messiah would be cut off after 69 weeks of years (= 483 years) with one more week of years left on Israel’s timeline. It is this final 7-year period that so many argue over. It is for this week of years that “he” in Daniel 9:27 makes a covenant with God’s people. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27).
It has been claimed that “covenant” (see Daniel 9:27) is something that God only makes with His people, and therefore “he” must be the Messiah. However, not all covenants are made between God and His people. The word translated as “covenant” means covenant, alliance, pledge (between men, or between God and man). It has also been translated as “league” (Joshua 9:6) and “confederacy” (Obadiah 1:7). It can be a covenant made between man and man: Thus they (Abraham and Abimelech) made a covenant at Beer–sheba: (Genesis 21:32).
If “he” is the Messiah who makes the covenant in Daniel 9:27, then why does Daniel 11:22 clearly depict an evil person (such as the antichrist) as “the prince of the covenant”? And, if a covenant is only between God and His people, then why is “the prince of the covenant” here clearly an evil person?
Daniel 11:21-23 – 21And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. 22And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. 23And after the league [made] with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
It is likely that “the prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11:22 refers to the prince who makes a covenant with God’s people in Daniel 9:27, and the context in Daniel 11:22 definitely cannot accept the Messiah there!
However, the following (which may be talking about that same “prince of the covenant”) is clearly referring to the context of Daniel 9:27, and the “the abomination of desolation” that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:15.
Daniel 11:31 – And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily [sacrifice], and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
And then there’s Daniel 12:11 (And from the time [that] the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, [there shall be] a thousand two hundred and ninety days.) where once again we read of the abomination of desolation occurring 1290 days before the end. This would represent 1260 days (3½ years) plus an extra 30 days. If the end is Armageddon and the 2nd coming of the Messiah (a logical conclusion), then it can be interpreted as the 42 months of the antichrist in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:2), the 1260 days of the 2 witnesses in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:3), and the 3½ years of Israel exiled to the wilderness for her safety (Revelation 12:14). Then Israel is back in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:13) for the earthquake, and the 2nd woe ends and the 3rd and final woe is upon them (Revelation 11:14). That permits a maximum of 30 days from the end of the antichrist’s rule in Jerusalem, building up to Armageddon and the defeat of satan and his antichrist and their followers = 1290 days. See Revelation 16 for a description of the 3rd woe (the 7 vials / bowls of the wrath of God poured out).
So why do so many commentaries claim that “he” (of Daniel 9:27) is the Messiah? Especially when consistency demands someone else such as the antichrist?
Note that until around 1900 all “acceptable” commentaries were amillennial or preterist; thus Revelation and Daniel were seen as a matter of history. This includes preterism which generally teaches that most prophecy was fulfilled in the past, and particularly that most of Revelation (including the tribulation and even the 2nd coming) was fulfilled during the 1st century.
The final events of the redemptive drama came to pass in the first century within the apostles’ generation (before A.D. 70). Christ’s kingdom is here now. Paradise has been restored in Christ (for our afterlife in heaven above). Christ has conquered all His enemies and has given us His Eternal Kingdom, “of the increase of which there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). (https://www.preterist.org/about-us/what-is-preterist-view/)
In general, all “acceptable” commentaries before 1900 saw the major prophetical events as past history; this included those that were either calvinist or had strong tendencies toward calvinist teachings. Other views were not considered acceptable. It was only after it looked like Israel might return to her land that people started to seriously consider an end-times involving a genuine Israel who would then go into the millennium with her Messiah. Calvinist amillennialist teachings continued to be held by non-evangelical denominations such as the Presbyterians, but others such as the Baptists (not Particular Baptists or Primitive Baptists) put pressure on the traditional calvinist historical view such that some calvinist groups then grudgingly accepted a tribulation and millennium yet to come, claiming that it was the elect church that went into the millennium in the name of Israel, but not Israel herself.
Thus calvinism today has ended up with 2 main views of the tribulation and millennium:
(a) the tribulation is in the past (often with the catholic church as mystery Babylon and the pope as the antichrist), with a spiritual millennium not experienced in our physical world (thus amillennial, not a millennium).
In Amillenarism there are two main variations: perfect Amillenarism (the first resurrection has already happened) and imperfect Amillenarism (the first resurrection will happen simultaneously with the second one). The common denominator for all amillenaristic views is the denial of the Kingdom of the righteous on earth before the general resurrection. (Wikipedia)
Many taught that each of the 1260 days of the antichrist represents a year of papal rule of the church. They often described the woman (mystery Babylon) as the antichrist riding the beast who sits on 7 hills (= Rome or the catholic church).
or (b) the tribulation and millennium are the yet-to-come end-times where Israel is replaced by the elect church.
A few of these will even teach a rapture, but either 3½ years before the 2nd coming, or immediately following Armageddon, returning with Christ at His 2nd coming. More on this further down.
Either way, Israel is to be considered dead and buried in the past! Thus, in both cases, calvinists have to teach that the genuine Israel’s future is non-existent; she rejected God (but that involves free will) or God ordained that Israel should reject Him (more acceptable to the calvinist teaching of no free will). And so, in calvinist teaching, if prophecy is yet to be fulfilled, then the elect church has replaced Israel for the future eternity. Thus calvinists (and those of like belief) teach that genuine Israel has already ceased to exist in her own right and cannot be resurrected again.
Therefore, with such beliefs, prophecy in Daniel has to be interpreted accordingly. For some commentaries, Daniel 9:27 was said to have been fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes (~166 BC) with the abomination in the temple (he sacrificed a sow-pig in the temple) and that this caused the temple sacrifices and oblations to cease. But this is impossible to fit in with other aspects of the prophecies. For others, the desolation and ceasing of sacrifices refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, naming either Titus (the leader of the Roman army that destroyed Jerusalem) or Vespasian (who was the Roman emperor in 70 AD).
But most who hold to a belief that Israel is past (“dead and buried”!) have to interpret Daniel 9:27 as a past event, or at least partly in the past.
(a) Most seem to tie in the ceasing of the sacrifices and oblations with the crucifixion, it being after 3½ years of Christ’s ministry and then, for some, adding the final 3½ years after the crucifixion (or resurrection) before Israel was finally rejected by God in favour of the elect church. The ceasing of sacrifices and oblations is then the result of Jesus’ new covenant, thus outlawing the old temple sacrificial covenant (see the book of Hebrews). This denies genuine Israel a special place in God’s future eternity. And it is difficult to equate the cutting off of the Messiah after the 69th week of years with the crucifixion in the middle of the final (70th) week of years.
(b) There are others who teach that the 3½ years of Jesus’ ministry until the crucifixion was the 1st half of that week, but the final 3½ years was held off until the destruction of the temple in 70 AD causing sacrifices to cease and making Israel desolate with the Jewish diaspora (the great dispersion of the Jews for around 2 millennia).
(c) And it is apparent that yet others teach that the final 3½ years remains in the future, the 3½ years of antichrist rule in Jerusalem before the build-up to Armageddon and the 2nd coming (with the elect church taking Israel’s place in this future event) It is also apparent that this is the basis for many believing that the rapture will occur 3½ years before the 2nd coming, and not 7 years before. But if genuine Israel does return for their final week of years in the future, then the church will be raptured before that event. (Romans 11:25-27 – 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
As already stated, there is a big problem, though, with a crucifixion in the middle of the last week of years when it says in Daniel 9:26 that the Messiah will be cut off after the 69th week of years (and not during the final week of years). And, if genuine Israel does return for her final 7-year period, then all three of these above views are incorrect!
One website (https://www.whitehorsemedia.com/daniel-927b-explained/) tries to boast that most reputable commentaries agree with him, that the crucifixion was in the middle of the final week of years. He says, “This position not only fits the context of Daniel 9:24-27, the facts of history, and New Testament evidence (see Romans 15:8 and Matthew 26:28), but is the position of the majority of well-respected older Bible commentaries that have not been affected by modern Futurism (see the commentaries of Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Fausett and Brown, Adam Clarke, etc).” …. “27) And he [Christ] shall confirm the [new] covenant with many for one week [the last 7-year period of Daniel 9:24]: and in the midst of the week [after 3 ½ years of holy ministry] he [Christ] shall cause [by His death on the cross] the sacrifice [of the Jewish Temple] and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations [of the Jewish leaders who instigated Christ’s death] he [Christ] shall make it [the Temple] desolate [Christ’s death ultimately finished the Temple service], even until the consummation [which occurred 40 years later when the Roman armies led by Titus finally burned the Temple to the ground and killed approximately one million Jews. See War of the Jews by Josephus], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate [the Jewish nation and its Temple in 70 A.D.].” So therefore the biblical teaching with the most support is voted most truthful? The people in Jeremiah’s day obviously didn’t work to this plan!
Benson’s commentary says that the 3½ years applies to the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth etc. “The first half week of Daniel is from the beginning of Christ’s first preaching”. He says that Christ was crucified at the midpoint of the 7 years, causing the sacrifices to cease by covenant (according to Hebrews). He says, “When Christ, in the MIDST of the week, offered his own body, that great sacrifice for the expiation of sin, to reconcile sinners to God; by that most holy and acceptable victim, he completed and abolished all the typical sacrifices of the law.”
Barnes says, “The true fulfillment, it seems to me, is to be found in the bearing of the work of the Saviour on the Hebrew people – the ancient covenant people of God – for about the period of seven years after he entered on his work. Then the particular relation of his work to the Jewish people ceased.”
Pulpit commentary says, “The midst of the week. On the ordinary Christian interpretation, this applies to the crucifixion of our Lord, which took place, according to the received calculation, during the fourth year after his baptism by John, and the consequent opening of his ministry. Hitzig and many critical commentators see a reference in the half-week to the time, times, and half a time, and they identify that with the time during which Antiochus had set up the heathen altar in the temple.”
Others such as Ellicott, Matthew Henry have similar views. Matthew Poole (with others) says that the ceasing of sacrifices was in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed.
Cambridge (who interprets “he” as an antichrist) says, “The subject is naturally the ‘prince’ just named (Daniel 9:26). If the text be sound, the allusion will be to the manner in which Antiochus found apostate Jews ready to cooperate with him in his efforts to extirpate their religion” …. “and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and meal-offering to cease] alluding to the suspension of the Temple services by Antiochus from the 15th of Chisleu, b.c. 168, to the 25th of Chisleu, b.c. 165”
Meyer (reformed, probably Lutheran) does admit that if Daniel 9:27 refers to a future covenant between the antichrist and Israel, then “he” must be the antichrist.
He says, “It is more natural to understand the passage as describing here Christ’s finished work, and thus we avoid impairing the definiteness of the prophecy by indefinitely prolonging it. “The prince that shall come” seems to refer to the Roman emperor, Vespasian, whose people destroyed Jerusalem. But many think that Daniel 9:27 refers to a future compact between Antichrist and the Jews, previous to their conversion.”
Most older commentaries accept the calvinist or preterist view of end-times prophecy which also has to accept that Israel’s timeline ended in the past in order for the elect church to be God’s people for the eternal future. Thus it is convenient for them to have Israel’s final week of years completed in the past; therefore they have to teach that the Messiah is “he” in Daniel 9:27, even though there are many inconsistencies with this teaching (such as the antichrist clearly being a future personage). However, calvinism does the same with all its doctrines; inconsistencies abound, but as long as people do not check things out for themselves, the calvinist heresies will thrive. So, find commentaries that teach a future end-times that is genuine Israel’s final week of 7 years, and then see if they also teach that “he” in Daniel 9:27 is the Messiah. There shouldn’t be any at all, for how can the Messiah make a covenant with His people in the middle of the tribulation week and cause sacrifices and oblations to cease unless He has already reinstated those sacrifices by this 7-year covenant with Israel (and the book of Hebrews clearly denies that their Messiah would reinstate temple sacrifices after declaring that His sacrifice was the final and only one – Hebrews 10:9-10).
And there is a definite link between the ceasing of sacrifices and the setting up of the abomination of desolation (Eg Daniel 9:27; 11:22; 12:11). This is especially if “he” (which occurs 3 times in Daniel 9:27) refers to the same person each time – and it is reasonably certain that it does! So how can the Messiah cause sacrifices to cease and also set up the abomination of desolation that He talked about in Matthew 24:15-16? (15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:)
Truly the calvinist teaching for Daniel 9:27 raises more questions than it answers (which is actually zero!).
There are some non-calvinist interpretations that acknowledge Israel’s future as God’s people, also teaching that “he” in Daniel 9:27 is the antichrist.
The antichrist will make a covenant with God’s people, Israel, and will certainly present himself as their Christ, their Messiah, and many will believe his lies. He will indeed be “the prince of the covenant” (Daniel 11:22). His people (the Gentiles) shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily [sacrifice], and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. (Daniel 11:31)
And from the time [that] the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up (both by the antichrist), [there shall be] a thousand two hundred and ninety days (3½ years + a 30-day lead-up to Armageddon and 2nd coming). (Daniel 12:11)