70 x 7 question for serious Amillennials

Discussion in 'Revelation & Eschatology' started by RevZach, Feb 18, 2010.

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  1. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    I did a search and found a couple of closed threads about Dan 9 and the seventy sevens, but nothing that addressed my specific question...

    Okay, so most Amills (myself included) view the church age (i.e. the millennium) as being synonymous with the last half-a-seven (a.k.a. 42 months, a.k.a. 1260 days, a.k.a. "time, times, and half a time")...which makes the last half a seven decidedly non-literal.

    The problem is that the first 69½ sevens work out so perfectly when interpreted literally. An incredibly compelling case can be made that brings us from the decree to rebuild to the baptism of Our Lord in 69 "weeks of years," and then after a "half a seven," Christ is "cut off," or crucified. If this is just a coincidence (i.e. the prophecy is meant to be entirely non-literal), it is perhaps the HUGEST, most amazing coincidence in the history of amazing coincidences...and of course, God would be well aware of the coincidental nature of the prophecy (i.e. He knew just when he would send his Son to be born of a virgin, when Jesus would begin his ministry, and when he would die). If He did not want us to take those first 69½ sevens literally, why not give that particular prophecy at a less confusing time, when it isn't seemingly begging to be taken literally?

    Does anyone know of a paper/book/dissertation that makes a case for a literal 69½ sevens followed by a non-literal ½ seven? If you think about it, it's more plausible than a random, large "parenthesis" of indeterminite length shoved between weeks 69 and 70 (like the Dispensationalists have concocted). And, of course, it would make perfect sense that God would, in his sovereignty, STRETCH OUT that last period of human history before the judgment to show His unfathomable grace and leave wide the door of salvation until the full number of the elect come in.

    Any insight/feedback is appreciated.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree with your interpretation of the 69 1/2 weeks and am amil/postmil. Forgive my ignorance here, but why is it necessary to the amillennial perspective for the last half week to be the millennium/church age?
  3. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

  4. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hello Zach,

    You said,

    I haven’t time this morning to get my books down and cite from them, but I think what perplexes you is assuming the last week refers to the end of the age / the church age, rather than strictly in the time of Christ in the 1st century. Dan 9:27 goes,

    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.​

    After His ministry of approximately 3½ years into the last 7, by His atoning sacrifice He fulfilled the prophecy, which was “to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” (v. 24), and by this caused the temple sacrifices to cease (as effective before God). His disciples, in His name, continued to confirm the covenant with many for the remainder of the “week” (of years), and then the covenant blessing went out to the gentiles.

    The 3½ times / 42 months / 1,260 days of Revelation (and Dan 7:25; 12:7) are a different period of reckoning, and are indeed symbolic of a time of affliction and faithful testimony. The 3½ of Daniel 9 are not to be confused with the 3½ of Revelation, the first being approximately literal and the latter symbolic — and each referring to different times.
  5. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The multiplication of the 70 years by 7 was of course itself a sort of extension of the captivity/exile of the Jews because of the little repentance they showed while in captivity. See the earlier part of Daniel 9 where Daniel is praying for his people in the context of the 70 year captivity predicted by Jeremiah.

    The "Times of the Gentiles" i.e. the domination of Israel/Judah by Gentile powers then extends from the Babylonian Captivity, through the period of Medo-Persian power, Greek rule, into the period of Roman domination. But Christ says that it is to be extended still further (Luke 21:24) and He also does in the Book of Revelation (11:2).

    Since the true New Jerusalem of this interadventual period is the Church (consisting of Jews and Gentiles who believe and their children) there has been a long period from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem until now when the Times of the Gentile (unbelieving) domination of the True Israel of God has continued. It did not end in 1948 when a largely unbelieving ethnic Israel returned to Palestine, nor in 1967 when they retook Jerusalem.

    The Times of the Gentiles will continue until the World is largely converted to Christ.

    I suppose some amils maybe believe that the Times of the Gentiles will continue until the Eschaton (?)
  6. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    Apparently my original post was less than clear. I am not "perplexed" by anything in the passage. I am aware of a full Preterist view that sees the last "seven" as ending with the Gospel going out to the Gentiles. I reject this view for a number of reasons. As such, one cannot "confuse" the final 3½ years of Daniel 9 with the 3½ years of Revelation because they are the same period of time.

    At any rate, my intention was not to start a debate about eschatology, but rather to present my nuanced Amillennial view (which I have bumped into many times, but never seen laid out in an academic setting) and ask if anyone knew of any published works, particularly dissertations, defending this literal/non-literal interpretation.

    I've already read Kim Riddlbarger's excellent works on amillennialsim (and Hoekema's and Hedriksen's), but Riddlebarger's treatment of the Daniel 9 passage conveniently ignores the fact that the dates and years add up too perfectly to be a coincidence (just as Mr. Tallach above deals only with the symbolism present). I agree that the symbolism is primary and that the Jubilee picture is there, but there is more to it.

    So...having clarified, anyone know of a publication/article/etc. that lays this out? (I know of two works by progressive Dispensationalists that have a similar framework, but they give too much up to be useful to me).
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  7. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't think of any such amil treatment. But I don't know the literature well enough.

    If the first 70 years was extended because of the unbelief and ungodliness of Israel, may not the last 3 1/2 years be extended because of unbelief and ungodliness in the Church, the True Israel of God, as she moves from her childhood under Moses to greater maturity.

    Of course it goes without saying that none of this unbelief and ungodliness took God by surprise, or that these extensions of time involved God's hand being forced but reveal his graciousness in dealing with the Church, and, I alsio believe, the ethnic Jews (e.g. Romans 11).

    Richard Pratt deals with the extension of the 70 years in "When Shall These Things Be?" (on hyperpreterism, edited by Keith Mathison, P and R).
  8. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    As far as I can see it, a "perfect" working out of the dates conformable to a definite period of time working out to 486.5 yrs (or 490, etc.) requires that the exegete be considerably flexible in choosing his starting point or his ending point.

    Rather than reading the prophecy from front-to-back, and starting from the Bible and covenant-perspective, today's typical interpreter begins with the space of time between Daniel's day and Christ's (a "known quantity" derived from secular sources), and looks for the "right" gap--something on the order of finding the true position for a puzzle-piece.

    This, to me, is a flawed hermeneutical approach. The prophecy is given in the vicinity of 535BC, Christ was crucified sometime around AD30. That is 565 yrs, give or take a handful. Someone has to cut off 75 years, either from the point of "cutting off" (finding another end point) or from the time the angel gives Daniel the word of the Lord, which is near-at hand to Cyrus' decree (finding another start point).

    That choice, it appears obvious to me, ends up being arbitrary and convenient. On the other hand, if one questions the premise that the Sevens given are meant to be interpreted as just so many years (note the internal assumption: seven=week=year), nice and tight, he is not forced into coming up with alternative "commands to rebuild" or the "cutting off". The space of time given is intended to have figurative qualities, hence the obscure sort of language used to describe it. If "years" were precisely the gauge intended, why didn't the angel simply say so?

    Now then, please note I am not accusing anyone, who holds to a precise dating method for interpreting the space of time, of carelessness. I believe this desire, though overscrupulous in my opinion, is prompted by a fierce determination to be true to and careful with handling Scripture. But this is certainly one of those cases where people with equally ardent desires to be accurate still find themselves unpersuaded by the other side's conclusion.
  9. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks for that perspective, Bruce!


    I am the one perplexed here! Why the need for a non-literal last 3½ years? I am no “full-preterist”, and have always considered “the Gospel going out to the Gentiles” as in accord with the amil view. What makes that view unacceptable?

    What is the precise start point (terminus a quo) of the 70 7s you use?

    Pastor Bruce’s view of the figurative quality overall of the numbers involved does find support from some solid amil commentators on Daniel, such as E.J. Young.

    I am very interested in the chronology of the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy, and have consulted many commentators and also the Biblical chronologists (Ussher, Anstey, Mauro, Finegan, Moorman, Jones, etc) in the study of it.

    When you say,

    I don’t understand how you arrive at that. If you were Dispie I could understand, but you’re not. To the Jews (or the early Gentile Christians familiar with Jewish history) the mention of “3½ years” (or it's equivalents) would immediately connote periods of faithful testimony and intense persecution, calling to mind Elijah’s 3½ years and Jezebel’s hunting of the prophets, as well as Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ approximately 3½ years fiercely persecuting the faithful Jews, and also Christ’s 3½ year ministry as True Witness under increasing persecution ending in torture and death. In Revelation the number is co-opted and used symbolically.

    The final 3½ of Daniel’s prophecy doesn’t have those connotations, to my thinking, and I see no warrant linking it to Revelation. I hope you don’t mind my pursuing this – the subject is of great interest to me, and I am continually seeking light on it.
  10. Gesetveemet

    Gesetveemet Puritan Board Sophomore

  11. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    As to why the last 3½ years in Daniel 9 and the 1260 days/42 months/times, time, and half a time should be interrpeted as the same time period, I refer you to Kim Riddlebarger's answer to the same question (see link). Notice that Dr. Riddlebarger does not feel compelled to choose whether the 3.5 year period in Revelation should bring to mind Elijah's drought, Christ's ministry, Daniel 9, or a portion of a jubilee cycle. It's not an either/or. That's the beauty of inter-textuality. Unfortunately, he doesn't answer my question from the original post.

    Also, I couldn't disagree more with Rev. Buchanan re: determining the start date for the seventy weeks. Of the four possibilities, the one that best fits the context and language of Gabriel's message to Daniel is the one that has Christ's ministry beginning right as the seventieth seven begins. No extra 75 years in sight!
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    What happened in 457 BC (or therabouts) that started the "clock" rolling?

    One web-site says this must be the year that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem (and it is the arrival that is specified) to enforce a decree of Artaxerxes I Longimanus.

    Again, this requires not only a degree of speculation, but it also requires certain liberties with the language of Daniel, in my opinion. How does this "arrival for enforcement" correlate to what the angel says to Daniel?

    So, with repect, I would like to say that the decree still sounds like Cyrus' to me, and my view doesn't require me to be troubled either about a "missing" 75 years=weeks=sevens.

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2010
  13. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    With Bruce, I prefer to see the numerology as symbolic or ideal rather than literal. In support of this view I appeal to our Lord's withholding all right from the disciples to know the times and seasons which are set in God's purpose. The fact that these times are hidden in God's purpose presupposes that they are not a matter of revelation.
  14. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

  15. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    Ah, but we're talking about the New Testament, which interprets and fills out the old. We're talking about Daniel (sealed prophecy) in light of Revelation (in which the seals are broken and the contents of the scroll made known). Nothing in my interpretation conflicts in any way with Jesus' "withholding all right from the disciples to know the times and seasons."

    Calvin's commentary on Daniel supports my position here (or, rather, I agree with Calvin). What liberties does he take with the language?

    The decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7; 458 BC).

    Again, I had no intent (and still have no intent) of starting/carrying out a debate on these matters. It looks like my search will go on elsewhere. Luckily, a prof from seminary has sent me a couple promising links from ATLA.

    ---------- Post added at 10:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:30 PM ----------

    Thanks for the link, but check out this quote from the article (or, rather, outline):
    Talk about adding to the Gospel! Simply picking the wrong historical antecedent for an Old Testament prophecy is enough for a full-blown anathema! Good stuff...
  16. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    There was no New Testament as yet; it was still in process of accomplishment. The disciples were asking a question which essentially concerned Old Testament interpretation. The reply of our Lord is definitive.
  17. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I suppose once the fulfilment of a prophecy about the future has past, e.g. probably most of the 70 weeks, there should be more light on the subject for those of us looking at it with the benefit of hindsight (?)

    But with prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled e.g. the Conversion of the Jews, the end of the Papacy and other antichrists, worldwide conversion, the end of the unsanctified nation-state (presuming such things are to happen in history, and it's always just possible that amillennialism is more correct than postmillennialism) and the Second Advent, our Lord is warning us against that date-setting game, which has brought this whole area into direpute in the eyes of many, and sometimes sadly brought Christ's name into disrepute, along with other excesses in the area of eschatology.

    I was surprised to find - as pointed out to me by an auntie of mine - that John Brown of Haddington in his Bible Dictionary (Encyclopedia?) calculated the year when he believed the Jews would be converted, which from what I remember was supposed to be a few years from now. So I suppose otherwise sound men can get carried away with eschatalogical fervour, which is a danger.

    It's good of you to remind us of that text, Matthew.

    Here's one of the earlier mystical time threads:

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2010
  18. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    Sure, it's definitive, but it's not really relavent to the matter at hand. Jesus was forbidding (at least by implication) the setting of dates; He wasn't forbidding us from interpreting the New Testament (which is what we're doing here--interpreting the NT and looking at the OT through the lens of its fulfillment). In fact, since I hold to the position that the entire inter-advent period is described as 3 and a half years, one might consider that the polar opposite of "setting dates" or "knowing the day and hour" of Our Lord's return. To try and extend Jesus' words about the day and hour to mean we cannot understand the eschatological content of His revealed Word seems singularly unwarranted.
  19. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Dear Pastor Zach,
    I really don't want to challenge your position. I am glad you hold it in honor of the Lord and the clarity of his Word. My desire is simply to show that a different position may also be in fidelity to that Word.
    I'm sorry, but according to his Daniel Commentary, except for the fact that Calvin thinks that the years are "closer" to the literal time between Cyrus' decree and Christ's birth than the chonographers of his day could state it, he in no way adheres to such a fixed and exact enumeration of said years. He is most definite about Cyrus. Please read him on Dan.9:25.

    Calvin even states that the space of years is then extended, or drawn out, after the birth to the baptism.

    As for what liberties I think are taken, unless one separates the answer of the angel from the context of the prayer, I don't see how Daniel himself could have understood the angel's response as anything less than the imminent fulfillment of the end of captivity. The expectations were set by the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah: Cyrus was named and 70 years were determined. I do not believe that the faithful, living between Daniel and Christ, thought of Artaxerxes' decree or Ezra's return as "the" calendar-moment. Backwards-reading, in order to accurately time the decree in question, looks for all the world like a post hoc "selecting for accuracy."

    And, it is an open question whether AD30 or AD33 is the date of Jesus' crucifixion. If we try to decide which it was based on our prior decision on 457BC (relative to Ezra and Daniel) we are evidently hunting for a "solution," a gap for our "puzzle piece," in my opinion.

    Again, please understand that I respect your view, I only disagree with it. And I think the readers deserve to know that there is not simply "one single obvious" answer for the Bible-believer. It is possible for unbelievers to shake a Christian's confidence when they point out these and similar challenges to what has been presented as a slam-dunk, rationally-unquestionable solution.

    If this material was not meant to be read "woodenly" (as atheists and mockers usually treat the holy text), then their childish cavils end up having no effect on us whatsoever.

  20. RevZach

    RevZach Puritan Board Freshman

    I realize that Calvin starts with Cyrus, but he clearly views these years as literal, not symbolic, periods of time. As to the rest of your message, if I replied, I'd just be repeating myself.

    BTW, where is Central Lake?
  21. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Yes, allowing the three and a half years to be something other than a literal three and a half years is the polar opposite of setting dates. But one is left wondering how this can be done without a symbolic or idealist interpretation.
  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor


    Armourbearer points out in the above thread that when the mystical period is looked at from the point of view of the suffering Church in the desert, or whatever, it is expressed in days, namely 1,260 days. Periods of captivity are often counted down by prisoners in days. As armourbearer points out, the period of Smyrna's testing is expressed as ten days (Revelation 2:10), and Daniel's test was ten days (E.g. Daniel 1:12).

    A period that approximates to that number comes up in Daniel 12:11, as 1,290 days.

    The Church was 430 years in Egypt before the deliverer Moses came. Again, the Jews were 430 years without a prophet and in semi-exile from Malachi to Christ.

    The three great administrations or dispensations of Scripture are divided by 430 years:

    (a) The Patriarchal

    then 430 years

    (b) The Mosaic

    then 430 years

    (c) The Christian

    Apart from the fact that 3 X 430 = 1,290, what is the significance of these two periods of prophetic silence before Moses and before Christ being both 430 years?
  23. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    And I guess I have to say that the whole question ends up in a debate over the definition of "literal"? Of course, the period(s) in question is literal time. But clearly, Calvin is NOT concerned whether people can find "extra years" within the space between Cyrus and the birth, baptism, or death of Christ. Which is pretty much the position I've staked out. With Calvin, I'm not bothered by even a few extra decades of time, and he admits at least three of those (birth to baptism). So, symbols of time are not put at odds with the space of (literal) time, but they function symbolically, which does not demand a one-to-one correspondence.

    C.L. is way up there.
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