Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Daniel 9 (The Seventy Weeks - part one)

The seventy weeks of Daniel are the fount of much debate about eschatology. Many solutions have been offered, but most are speculative and difficult to prove. I am not going to offer a comprehensive answer, but I do want touch on a few issues over the next couple of posts.

The seventy weeks comes from the first portion of Daniel 9:24.

“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city.”

The angel Gabriel is delivering a message to Daniel. He says, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and your holy city.”

“Your people” obviously refers to Israel. “Your holy city” obviously refers to Jerusalem. Gabriel is saying that something is going to happen to Israel and Jerusalem in “seventy weeks.”

If we take “seventy weeks” in a wooden sense, then Gabriel is saying that something is going to happen in one year and four months. However, most understand that Gabriel is referring to a much longer period of time.

The Hebrew word for weeks actually means “seven.” Thus, seventy weeks could be translated seventy-sevens. This is referring to seventy groups of seven, which would be 490. Most scholars understand that Gabriel is speaking of years. Something is going to happen in 490 years.

Unfortunately, Dispensationalists do not take this literally. They argue that the 490 years are not consecutive. That is, they assert that after 483 years, then God is going to “stop the clock” for an undisclosed period of time, and then “re-start the clock” for the final seven years at some point in the future.

However, this violates literal, normal, rational communicative principles. No one speaks like this.

If I tell my wife that I’ll be home in ten minutes, only to arrive two hours later, I could not escape by saying, “I was not including the time I stopped by a bar to watch the basketball game.”