I am recovering from a bout of the flu and am not yet fit enough to write anything new. Hope this piece is a decent stop-gap.
In Daniel 9:24, Gabriel’s words are absolutely essential for a correct interpretation of the Seventy Weeks’ prophecy; the location of the last week especially. Gabriel says the entire period involves Daniel’s people and Jerusalem, and these referents are not to be swapped out with ecclesial ones There are then six particular things to be accomplished which are enumerated in the verse, things which are determined to occur. These are arranged with three negatives followed by three positives:
To finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. – Daniel 9:24
Can these six items be identified? It depends upon ones eschatological commitments. I think if we keep to the gradually emerging eschatology which I have been following in the Prophets until now all the data has to be understood in one way. Let me explain.
The first item concerns finishing “the transgression”. Daniel has been praying about it (9:4-14), and any reader, especially of the historical and prophetic books, is intimately aware of the problem. To finish the transgression of Israel could only end in the destruction or salvation of the Jews (e.g. Isa. 59:20-21). The making a complete “end of sins” is perhaps more inclusive, since not all sins are transgressions (pesa). This is best viewed as a curtailment of Israel’s historic waywardness, and invites the thought of a fresh start (Amos 9:8; Hos. 2; Mic. 7:14-20; Isa. 1:25-27; 62:1-7; Jer. 3:12-17). The third achievement is to “make reconciliation for iniquity”, which while accomplished at the Cross, here points more to the time of Israel’s attainment of that reconciliation. Even more, this recalls God’s stated intention to redeem His people (e.g. Jer. 30:11; 31:11-12; Ezek. 36:25-29). These three things tie in with the covenantal expectations raised by God in the prophets. As they stand they have not been fulfilled. Israel is still in sin.
The three positive achievements in 9:24 could not be more optimistic. What could be better than the introduction of “everlasting righteousness”? The first of the second set of achievements is “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” It is very difficult to imagine, even with the most sanguine imagination, how any phase of earth’s history so far qualifies for such a description. Again, this prediction is about Israel and Jerusalem in particular. As I stated in my comments on Jeremiah 31:31f. “in those places where righteousness and salvation are in view, the context is unwaveringly a New covenant eschatological context.” This is a rational understanding of the close of Daniel’s petition in 9:16-19. It is what is someday expected (e.g. Isa. 25:8-9; 51:11; 61:2b-3). The fifth thing Gabriel mentions is the sealing up of vision and prophecy. If it is right to link all the previous accomplishments to Israel’s New covenant era, then this is readily comprehended. Since this era is marked by the setting up of the earthly kingdom of the promised Messiah (e.g. Isa. 11:1-10; 32:1; Jer. 23:5-6; Dan. 7:13-14), when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9; cf. Jer. 31:34), there will be no need for prophets. This is lent support by a rather strange text in Zechariah.
It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, `You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the LORD.’ And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies.
And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. – Zechariah 13:3-4
At first sight this passage is disturbing. What righteous parent would think of killing their own son, even if he were acting the part of a prophet? But the passage hints at the blatant act of temerity of the son’s action, as if to don the mantle was a vicious blasphemy. If one fits this action into the kingdom age when the prophet’s function becomes obsolete because of the worldwide knowledge of God, then it would make good sense. Hence, to seal up visions and prophecy would certainly occur in the New covenant aeon as envisaged from an Old Testament perspective. (more…)