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  • Writer's pictureMichael Filipek

Who Is the "He" in Daniel 9:27? The Messiah, Titus Vespasian, or the Antichrist?

Updated: Jan 27


Titus Vespasian pillaging Jerusalem

Within the famed “seventy weeks prophecy“ found in Daniel 9:24-27 exists an often debated conundrum in Christian eschatology. This debate surrounds the mysterious shift between Verses 26 and 27, focusing on Verse 26’s reference to “the prince that shall come“ which is followed by Verse 27’s opening phrase “and he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.“ Does this pronoun “he“ refer to the Messiah, Titus Vespasian, or a future Antichrist figure?


Understanding Daniel's Prophecy


In order to begin to answer this question, we must understand more about this prophecy as a whole. The context concerns Daniel while he was in Babylon during the Babylonian exile of the Jews (605-536 BC). Daniel understood from reading Jeremiah’s prophecies that the exile would last for seventy years (Daniel 9:2; Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10). He recognized that Israel's national restoration depended on their national repentance (Jeremiah 29:10-14), so Daniel personally interceded for Israel in prayer. He prayed specifically for the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple, as they had been destroyed by the Babylonians (Daniel 9:3-19). Daniel apparently expected the immediate and complete fulfillment of Israel’s restoration with the conclusion of the seventy-year captivity. However, in these verses of Daniel 9, the future of the Jews and Jerusalem was shown to him by the angel Gabriel (who gave him the seventy weeks prophecy), revealing that Israel’s restoration would be progressive and only ultimately fulfilled at the time of the end (see also Daniel 12). Through this prophecy, God decreed that He would complete His Messianic redemption of the Jews and Jerusalem over the course of a seventy-week period (which as we now understand, includes both advents of Christ).


This prophecy in Daniel 9 describes seventy “sevens” (or weeks) of years – in other words, 490 years that would be designated for the Jews and Jerusalem in order to complete six key objectives related to this full Messianic redemption (essentially, to wrap up this age of human history and introduce the Messianic Kingdom).


Let’s begin by reading this passage in Daniel 9, beginning with Verse 24 and ending with the last verse of this chapter – Verse 27. We have added some parenthetical inserts in order to help you understand what each part of this prophecy is saying within the context of our topic here. We will then go over each verse in more detail to make sure it’s clear.


Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city [meaning the Jews and Jerusalem], 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 [basically meaning “to finish this age”]. Know 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 [7 + 62, equaling a total of 69 weeks, or 483 years since each week is 7 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks [in other words, after the 62 weeks that follow the 7 weeks, or put another way, after the entire 69 weeks, or 483 years] shall Messiah be cut off [this happened in 33 AD with the crucifixion of Christ], 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 [this happened in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem]. And he [the topic of this article] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [speaking of the final seventieth 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. -Daniel 9:24-27

In order for us to properly engage the issue of the mysterious “he“ in Verse 27 and how it relates to the “prince that shall come“ in Verse 26, a verse-by-verse analysis of this entire prophecy is in order. Due to the constraints of space and time in this article, we will attempt to reduce our summaries of the preceding verses to the bare basics. Let’s begin.


An Analysis of Verse 24


Seventy 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. -Daniel 9:24

Verse 24 makes it clear to us that seventy weeks of years (70 x 7, or 490 years) are designated by God for the future of the Jews and Jerusalem in order to complete six key objectives. Since these objectives were not explicitly defined for us, it leaves the interpreter to find a plausible explanation of what they point toward. We believe it is clear that they point towards the culmination of the major Biblical themes of this age – judgment of sin, atonement, forgiveness, and spiritual restoration. It is critical to recognize that all of these objectives have not yet been fully completed.


When we look at these themes while using the backdrop of Old and New Testament prophecy, it becomes clear that although some may have been fulfilled – or have begun being fulfilled – it is clear that in the ultimate sense, these events will be brought to complete fulfillment when Israel is brought to spiritual restoration and revival at the time of the Second Coming of Christ and the inauguration of the future Millennial Kingdom.


An Analysis of Verse 25


Know 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. -Daniel 9:25

As we pointed out earlier, we have a total of seventy weeks of years, or 490 years. However, Verse 25 focuses on the first sixty-nine weeks of years, separating them from the seventieth. It breaks them down into a first seven weeks of years followed immediately by sixty-two weeks of years (or threescore and two weeks), totaling sixty-nine. It tells us that these sixty-nine weeks of years would be a countdown that begins with a commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and culminates with the appearance of the Messiah to Israel. It’s a countdown to the arrival of the Messiah, or what Christians would call the “First Coming.”


In the our study entitled “The Daniel 9:25 Prophecy – An Exact Timeline For the Arrival Of The Messiah”, we conclusively proved in great detail that this sixty-nine week countdown began during the Hebrew month of Nisan in 444 BC with the decree of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 1 and 2), and ended on March 30th of 33 AD at the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Several days following His Triumphal Entry, He was then crucified on April 3rd – a key element which we will see anticipated in the next verse (Verse 26). So, we should recognize that the sixty-nine weeks have concluded long ago. If you have any doubts about this, or would like to understand the evidence for yourself, feel free to consult the aforementioned study.


An Analysis of Verse 26


And 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. -Daniel 9:26

Verse 26 discusses the events that occur after the completion of the sixty-nine weeks, which we said terminated on March 30th of 33 AD – the day of the Triumphal Entry, the day Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. So, as stated earlier, we should recognize that the sixty-nine weeks have concluded long ago. So, this verse discusses the events that would follow the termination of the sixty-ninth week. It says that after the sixty-nine total weeks, the Messiah would then be “cut off,” and that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed by a prince who would come. These events happened exactly as this prophecy predicts.


First, as we have shown in the aforementioned study, several days following the Triumphal Entry, Jesus (the Messiah) was cut off. The Triumphal Entry took place on Monday, ending the sixty-nine weeks, and then Jesus was crucified on Friday of that same week – in 33 AD.


Let’s briefly discuss this term “cut off” so there is no confusion. The Hebrew term for “cut off” here, is karath (Strong’s # H3772). This word literally means to be “cut off, cut down, or cut asunder,” and is often used to mean that one would be executed or killed. [1] Interestingly, this word also is used to imply the “cutting of a covenant,” in which two people would literally cut off a piece of animal flesh and pass between the pieces while making vows – as was done during the giving of the Abrahamic Covenant by God to Abraham in Genesis 15. [2]


Is there any word that better summarizes the work of Christ on the cross? He was “cut off” and rejected by His people, the Jews, and was then executed. But this act of laying down His life was the cornerstone upon which the New Covenant was based! So, there should be no confusion regarding this expression “cut off.” It means the Messiah would be executed after the conclusion of the sixty-nine weeks – which, as we have shown in our companion study, Christ was (four days – as we count – following His Triumphal Entry).


Second, Verse 26 then predicts that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed by a prince who would come. This was fulfilled precisely as spoken in this Verse, as the city and the sanctuary were indeed destroyed by a prince who would come about thirty-seven years later in 70 AD. Our knowledge of the history of this time is well-preserved and well-known. History records in detail the actions of the Roman prince and general, Titus Vespasian, who led the assault on Jerusalem and the Temple, destroying them in 70 AD. [3] For more information on this, feel free to consult our companion study entitled, “The Luke 19:43-44 Prophecy: The Destruction Of Jerusalem Foretold”.


During the Jewish rebellion against Rome in the late 60s AD, Titus’ father Vespasian, also formerly a general, had now become the emperor of Rome. He put Titus in charge of carrying out the assault on Jerusalem, which he accomplished in 70 AD – resulting in the massacre and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. [4] So, Titus Vespasian had just become a prince, since his father had just become the emperor – exactly as the prophetic text required.


And like the prophecy states, the end came for Jerusalem in its destruction in 70 AD, and following that, war continued with its desolations, as history has confirmed. The entire countryside was leveled, as recorded in the writings of Josephus, and beginning at that time, the Jewish people over the next century would be sent into a worldwide Diaspora. [5] The fulfillments of this prophetic verse are very clear.


At this point, we have discussed the first through sixty-ninth weeks, as well as the events that took place after the sixty-ninth week. We have not yet discussed a seventieth week.


An Analysis of Verse 27


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. -Daniel 9:27

Verse 27 seems to make an unusual jump to describing the beginning of the mysterious seventieth week, but gives no description of how the events following the sixty-nine weeks link into the seventieth. Our understanding of the previous verse is clear that the sixty-nine weeks were completed, and tells us of events that would occur after their completion – forcing us to recognize a gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. The sixty-nine weeks concluded on March 30th, 33 AD at the Triumphal Entry. Then after that, Jesus the Messiah was “cut off” four days later. Then still even further after that, the city and sanctuary were destroyed almost forty years later in 70 AD. So, any way you cut it, this passage mandates a gap of time following the sixty-nine weeks.


But when we look at Verse 27 and notice its description of the final seventieth week, the question is, when should we understand this final week to occur? Did it occur in 70 AD? Or, is it yet future? The only point of continuity or linkage with the previous verse is the use of the pronoun “he,” which would seem to refer back to the antecedent – “prince that shall come” in Verse 26.


We are told that a covenant will be confirmed (or enforced), which would appear to be the marker for the beginning of the final seventieth week – “and he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week”. We are then told of a marker that would appear to designate the middle of the seventieth week – “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…” There is often much confusion as to whether these events have already happened, or if we should understand them to be future events.


Does the "He" in Verse 27 Refer to the Messiah in Verse 25 or "the Prince That Shall Come" in Verse 26?


As mentioned at the outset, the identification of the pronoun “he” in this verse has been the topic of much debate. While some believe it refers to the “Messiah the Prince” originally mentioned in Verse 25, others believe it refers to the “prince that shall come” mentioned toward the end of Verse 26 (which we have already identified with Titus Vespasian). In normal laws of reference in language, a pronoun refers back to the last preceding person mentioned. In this case, the antecedent is “the prince that shall come” in Verse 26.


Those who instead argue that “he” means the Messiah face a number of difficulties. For example, if this is taken to mean Christ confirming the New Covenant (as some have suggested), it immediately runs into major problems, as the New Covenant is obviously longer than seven years in duration. Further, those who apply this to Christ often apply the first half of the final seven years to Jesus’s earthly ministry. However, doing that would overlap the seventieth week with the sixty-ninth week, which we showed in our companion study to have been still in progress until 33 AD. Further yet, there are no noteworthy events to designate as markers that would conclude the seventieth week if you applied this to the years following 33 AD.


Another eliminating factor for the “Messiah view“ is the reality that we know Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, not the Jewish people – and therefore the “he” in Verse 27 cannot refer to the “Messiah the Prince” in Verse 25. Dwight Pentecost, quoting Alva McClain, writes:


The expression "prince that shall come" cannot possibly refer to "Messiah the Prince" for the simple reason that it is "the people of the prince that shall come" who are to destroy Jerusalem after the death of Messiah. And since it is now a matter of history that Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Roman people, not by the Jewish people, it follows that "the prince that shall come" cannot be the Jewish Messiah… [6]

But the most problematic issue for a “Messiah view“ is probably the great number of parallel prophetic passages (to be mentioned shortly) that clearly identify the seventieth week as a future time period that terminates with the Second Coming of Christ – a period often called the Tribulation. Since the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ are clearly and obviously portrayed in scripture as future events, then this requires a futurist interpretation of this prophecy. This is the view that we of course embrace. So, we find that the better interpretation of the pronoun “he” is in reference to the “prince that shall come.”


How Can the "He" in Verse 27 Refer to the Future Antichrist if We Already Identified Him With Titus Vespasian?


The next obvious question becomes, if the pronoun “he” refers to “the prince that shall come,” who we already identified as Titus Vespasian, how can this prophecy be yet future, and how can it refer to the Antichrist? Let’s begin to explore the answer to this question.


Many interpreters (especially Preterists) have interpreted Verse 27 to have already been fulfilled in the first century AD with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Preterism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets the end times prophecies of the Bible as being events which have already been fulfilled in the past, mainly in the first century. [7] The term Preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning “past.” Preterism is directly opposed to futurism, which sees the end times prophecies as having a still-future fulfillment. Another typical aspect of Preterism is the belief that Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian Church following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. [8] In other words, this view falls into the camp of Replacement Theology, the idea that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s program.


Preterists generally attribute the complete fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 to the actions of Titus Vespasian and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Many Preterists have noted the similarities between the actions of Titus and the content of Verse 27 – “he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate.” Titus put an end to sacrifice and offering by destroying Jerusalem and the Temple. The Romans set up their pagan emblems on the eastern wing of the Temple and offered sacrifices to them. The Jewish/Roman historian Josephus, who was there, records all of this in The Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 6.3. [9]


At quick glance, and when isolating this passage from the rest of the Biblical commentary on the seventieth week, this interpretation may appear convincing. Yet, when we utilize a systematic, precise, literal reading of all of the parallel Biblical passages that also discuss the seventieth week, we find that this Preterist view is indefensible.


We must recognize that numerous future end times discourses in the New Testament were given based upon this template of Daniel 9:24-27. Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, Paul’s teaching on the eschatological “Day of the Lord” in 2 Thessalonians 2, and the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation 6-19 are all prime examples. Although we can't delve into an exploration of those in this article, any simple investigation will reveal that these passages all act as parallel or clarifying Biblical commentary on the events of the seventieth week, expounding upon this particular verse (Verse 27). Their plain, literal readings necessitate a future context of interpretation – meaning the events that Verse 27 describes cannot have found ultimate fulfillment in 70 AD, or any other time up until the present. These parallel prophecies, as well as other passages that clearly depict the seventieth week, describe it as a future end-times period that will involve the desecrating actions of the figure often called the Antichrist. The only Biblically coherent way to understand the seventieth week described here in Verse 27 is through the futurist interpretation.


But let’s focus our attention on the question we posed earlier. If the pronoun “he“ in Verse 27 refers to the “prince that shall come,“ who we already identified as Titus Vespasian in Verse 26, then how can this prophecy be yet future? In order to further answer this question, we need to make note of several key peculiarities that we repeatedly note in prophetic scripture.


First, we shouldn’t be surprised that between Verse 26 and Verse 27 exists a gap of time (if there is a significant gap here, then by that fact alone we cannot understand the “he“ in Verse 27 to refer to Titus Vespasian who is referred to in Verse 26). It is somewhat common in scripture for a prophecy to, in the course of a single line, or even in the space of a comma, jump from one fulfillment event to another, being hundreds or even thousands of years apart. We may refer to these as hidden intervals or gaps in prophecy.


This is a common occurrence in Bible prophecy, often due to the hidden nature of the Church Age in prophetic God’s program. In an earlier article, we discussed how the Church was a mystery entity hidden throughout the Old Testament. Some have illustrated this concept as a series of mountain peaks, separated by a valley that lay in between. The first mountain peak represents the events of the First Coming of the Messiah, and the next taller mountain peaks represent the events of the Second Coming and then the Millennial Kingdom that immediately follows. In between the first two peaks sits a valley encompassing the Church Age, which was below the line of vision for the prophets. They could see the mountain peaks in the distance, and from their view, they seemed to follow each other sequentially without gaps or interruptions. But from their vantage point, they couldn’t tell that between the mountains was a valley. In other words, they couldn’t know that there was a two thousand-or-more-year Church Age that separated the events they saw. All of these things were beneath their line of sight.


Their prophecies often discuss events fulfilled at Christ’s First Coming and seemingly flow right into events that will take place at His Second Coming (two prophetic “mountain peak” events). Through the benefit of hindsight, we can now see that they skip over the several thousand years we’ve experienced so far in the Church Age. If while initially reading them, you didn’t already know there was a mystery gap period (the Church Age) inserted in between, you’d think they were all continuous and uninterrupted prophecies.

The Mountain Peaks of Prophecy

A prime example of this is the clear gap between Zechariah 9:9 and 9:10. Verse 9 is a clear prophecy related to Jesus’ First Coming, describing His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem several days prior to His crucifixion. Verse 10 then immediately moves to a Second Coming context, prophetically describing the glorious return of Christ as the conquering Messiah who will defeat His enemies and establish His Millennial reign on earth.


Verse 9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Verse 10: And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. -Zechariah 9:9-10

From an Old Testament perspective prior to Christ, one would be hard-pressed to recognize a prophetic gap that separates these two verses. But by virtue of hindsight, the gap becomes clear. Between the events of Christ’s two comings lies the Church Age, a mystery intercalation in God’s program. Scholar Warren Wiersbe writes:


The entire age of the Church fits between Zechariah 9:9 and 9:10, just as it does between Isaiah 9:6 and 7 and after the comma in Isaiah 61:2. [10]

As Wiersbe notes, this prophetic gap is also obvious in Isaiah 9:6-7. Note how clearly the beginning of Verse 6 refers to the First Coming, but then immediately shifts to Second Coming events.


Verse 6: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Verse 7: Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. -Isaiah 9:6-7

Isaiah’s prophecy of a child being born and a son being given obviously refers to Jesus’ Incarnation at His First Coming. But then the passage immediately transitions to a Second Coming context in everything that follows. While Wiersbe suggests that the transition takes place between the two verses, we must point out that the government has never yet been upon Jesus’s shoulder. This will not take place until He establishes His earthly reign following His Second Coming. Jesus has also never been called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” by the Jewish nation to which He was sent and to whom this prophecy was given. This will not occur until all of Israel is brought to faith around the time of the Second Coming and establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Therefore, the gap is actually located in Verse 6 between the phrases “unto us a son is given” and “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.”


Verse 7 then continues to describe the establishment of Christ’s earthly reign in the Millennial Kingdom, which follows the Second Coming. So, again, without the benefit of hindsight, it would seem as if these prophecies flow together. But because we can look back on them with the clarity of New Testament revelation, it becomes obvious that a mystery time-gap separates them.


Wiersbe also mentions Isaiah 61:2, possibly the most classic example of this “hidden gap” phenomena in all of scripture. Jesus Christ Himself interpreted this for us in Luke 4:16-19. This passage records how at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus stood up in the synagogue when it was His turn to read, and opened to the book of the prophet Isaiah. He proceeded to read Isaiah 61:1-2, proclaiming His mission at His First Coming. He finishes with His mandate: “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” What you probably wouldn’t realize without going back to Isaiah to read the original prophecy, is that Jesus stopped reading right in the middle of the sentence! The rest reads, “and the day of vengeance of our God…”


Jesus stopped reading at the comma that preceded “and the day of vengeance of our God…” He left that last segment out. Why? Because we now understand that after that comma, the prophecy jumped from the time of the Messiah’s First Coming to some several thousand years or more into the future – past the present time in which we are now living, to the time of His Second Coming. The “day of vengeance” was not part of His mission during His First Coming, but it will be fulfilled at His Second Coming. So, in the original prophecy in Isaiah, we see that one comma separated several thousand years of history (to date), but this gap would have been unknown and undetectable to the original readers.


This is exactly what we also see happening in Daniel 9:26-27, as thousands of years separate the two verses – and yet, from a casual reading, they seem to flow together. This explains how the timing context of Verse 26 can involve the first century, while the timing context of Verse 27 can involve the future seventieth week.


But how can the personal context shift from Titus Vespasian in Verse 26 to the future Antichrist in Verse 27? If the “he” in Verse 27 refers back to the antecedent (Titus Vespasian, the prince that shall come) in Verse 26, then how can we say the Antichrist is meant? In scripture, there are also many examples of multiple reference prophecies. In these prophecies, it’s clear who the original subject is, but then at some point in the text, the prophecy clearly begins to transcend that local person and point to a person of far greater significance who will act as the ultimate fulfillment.


One example of a multiple reference prophecy is found in the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 28:12-19), which gives a description of someone called the King of Tyre. Although there was an actual historical person who was the King of Tyre, the description the Bible gives of this person at some point seems to go far beyond just describing this human leader. Though in context, Ezekiel was first speaking about the historical King of Tyre, at some point in the prophecy, he seemingly moved into the dateless past with a description of the original fall of Satan – the true power behind the earthly King of Tyre.


This also seems to be happening here in Daniel 9:26-27. Verse 26 obviously refers to the actions of Titus Vespasian, and yet we understand from the many other parallel prophetic passages in scripture that the events of Verse 27 are yet-future. And so, even though the pronoun “he” from Verse 26 is carried into Verse 27 without any obvious change in context, we understand from these other parallel supporting texts that the “he” in Verse 27 clearly transcends Titus – and instead, refers to the coming Antichrist in the eschatological seventieth week.


Furthermore, it is even possible that the events of Verse 27 as a whole do find a typological near-term fulfillment in the events of 70 AD. In other words, Titus Vespasian and the events of 70 AD may be in some ways a prophetic type (like a prototype) of the Antichrist and his future actions. And as usual with typology, the type is not identical in all ways to the antitype.


That is perfectly compatible with the futurist interpretation, as futurists recognize the routine usage of multiple-stage fulfillment or multiple-reference prophecies in scripture, as we just outlined. You may also hear many of these simply referred to as dual reference or near/far-term fulfillment prophecies. Sometimes the event being prophesied of ripples forward many times in history before it is ultimately fulfilled – but only the ultimate fulfillment event perfectly mirrors the Biblical description.


For instance, we find something similar in Daniel 11:31, another place in which the term abomination of desolation is referenced, which futurist scholars understand to have both near-term and far-term fulfillments. This is the essence of prophetic typology, and there is no limit to the number of types that can occur. It is often a reoccurring pattern that has the purpose of prefiguring an ultimate future far-term fulfillment event.


In the near-term sense, this passage (Daniel 11:31) refers to the events that took place in 167 BC, in which a Seleucid-Greek ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes erected an idol of Zeus in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem – and also sacrificed a pig on the altar. This historical abomination of desolation is the event that lead to the Maccabean Revolt, in which the Greeks were expelled from Judea, and the Temple was then cleansed and rededicated. This historical event is commemorated by the Jews each year at Hanukkah.


But in the far-term sense, this passage in Daniel 11 also appears to transcend this and find ultimate fulfillment in the actions of the Antichrist during the future seventieth week. This is made clear for us in many ways, but maybe most obviously in the fact that Jesus referenced this event in Matthew 24:15 and spoke of it in the future tense. In other words, He implied that this historical event would be recapitulated in a final abomination of desecration that will constitute the ultimate fulfillment.


Further yet, this future understanding is also confirmed in the fact that the Daniel 11 narrative (which flows into Daniel 12), like the Matthew 24 narrative, ends with the Second Coming of Christ. In other words, this chapter in Daniel is yet another example of a prophecy that begins to transcend the local near-term application and end with a far more significant and ultimate event that is clearly in the future. And like Daniel 9:26-27, you will find that Daniel 11 also skips over several thousand years of the Church Age, culminating in the Second Coming event described early in Chapter 12. This concept alone refutes the Preterist view that “all of this has already happened.” If it already happened, when did the Second Coming take place? Scripture is clear that these seventieth week events end with the Second Coming of Christ.


So, this prophecy of an abomination of desolation that we see described in Daniel 11:31 did describe an actual historical event that has occurred in the past, yet we also understand it to be a type or a shadow of an ultimate fulfillment yet to come. Like we said, this may also be the case in Daniel 9:27 with the actions of Titus Vespasian in 70 AD. But at most, they only act as a shadow (a prophetic “ripple“) of something yet-future that will occur in the seventieth week. And as is the case in many of these instances, the near-term fulfillment doesn’t perfectly fit the prophecy.


In other words, a shadow is hazy and indistinct. The actual object casting the shadow is detailed and well-defined. Even if we ignore the host of parallel passages necessitating an end times context, there are a number of other reasons why Daniel 9:27’s ultimate fulfillment could not have been found in the events of 70 AD. The most obvious reason is that the abomination of desolation refers most specifically to the desecrating action of a Gentile outsider erecting a false god in the Holy of Holies – and Titus did not do this. He did not even step foot into the Temple until it was already on fire and about to be destroyed. In fact, history records that Titus had actually ordered his men to preserve the Temple. Yet, due to their anger against the Jews, they disobeyed the order of their general and set fire to the Temple, destroying it and pillaging it of its gold. [11] The Jewish Encyclopedia records this ancient historical account, telling us:


One of the Roman soldiers, weary of fighting, threw a burning piece of wood into the Temple. In vain did Titus give orders to extinguish the flames; his voice was drowned in the uproar. Titus himself, impelled by curiosity, entered the Sanctuary, but the smoke forced him to withdraw; and thus the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem became associated with his name. [12]

So, in some ways you can make the argument that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was a type of an abomination of desolation event, and yet it doesn’t completely fit the bill regarding everything the Bible tells us about the ultimate and final desolation. Parallel prophetic passages in the Bible tell us that the ultimate future abomination of desolation will involve the Antichrist physically standing in the Holy of Holies claiming to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). It is therefore impossible to apply the full and ultimate fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 to Titus Vespasian and the events of 70 AD. At most, it can represent a partial near-term fulfillment or a type that will be ultimately fulfilled by the Antichrist in the future seventieth week – the Tribulation.


And so, although it can be confusing to read Daniel 9:26-27 in isolation and without the benefit of other clarifying parallel passages, we should not allow this to cause us to misinterpret the text as Preterists and others do. Along with the host of additional insights presented, we do also have the other clarifying passages that clearly detail this final week, and we must not view Daniel 9 in isolation. We must take into account the entire corpus of Biblical commentary on this subject before formulating our conclusion.


 

[1] James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Updated and Expanded Ed., Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007, p. 1517.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Kate Lohnes, article “Siege of Jerusalem, Jewish-Roman war [70 CE],” Aug. 29, 2018, Encyclopedia Britannica. (https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Jerusalem-70 - Retrieved 2/18/19)

[4] Guy Edward Farquhar Chilver, article “Vespasian, Roman emperor,” Sept. 22, 2022, Encyclopedia Britannica. (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Vespasian - Retrieved 2/18/19)

[5] Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, in Josephus, The Complete Works, trans. William Whiston, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998.

[6] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1964, pp. 249-250.

[7] Wikipedia contributors, “Preterism,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterism - Retrieved 2/25/19)

[8] Ibid.

[9] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, VI, 6.1, p. 891.

[10] Warren W. Wiersbe, “Zechariah” in The Bible Exposition Commentary: The Prophets, Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2002, pp. 447-476.

[11] Ray C. Stedman, “What’s This World Coming To?” (An expository study of Matthew 24-26, the Olivet Discourse). Palo Alto, CA: Discovery Publications, 1970, Ch. 1.

[12] Joseph Jacobs and Samuel Krauss, Jewish Encyclopedia, entry “Titus (full name, Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus)” JewishEncyclopedia.com. (http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14412-titus - Retrieved 11/3/20)


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