As promised in my last blog article, over the next several weeks, we are going to look at the influence Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks prophecy has had on the teachings of some of today’s respected prophecy teachers. I want to make it clear up front that these articles, though critical, are not meant to be disrespectful. None of us have all the answers and when discussing Bible prophecy a great deal of humility is required.
I decided to start this series by looking at Chuck Missler’s interpretation of Daniel 9. The reason, I start with Mr. Missler’s interpretation of the 70 Weeks, is because this is the predominately held view today and it will be most familiar to a majority of my readers. Mr. Missler is a respected prophecy teacher and I have enjoyed and learned from reading his material over the years.
Mr. Missler bases his interpretation of Daniel 9 on the work of the great Christian scholar Sir Robert Anderson. Here are some foundational points of Mr. Missler’s and Anderson’s interpretation:
- The 70 Weeks begins with a “commandment” in the year 445 BC.
- The 70 Weeks are based upon a 360 day “prophetic” reckoning of time.
- The first 69 Weeks have been fulfilled and the 70th week is yet future.
- The focus of the prophecy is national Israel and Jerusalem.
As I’ve emphasized before the prophecy of Daniel 9 has profoundly influenced our view of “end times”. As such it is incumbent upon us as stewards of YHWH’s word to ensure we have our understanding based upon rock solid Biblical truth. With this focus in mind let’s first look at how important Daniel 9 is to Mr. Missler’s view of Bible prophecy. The following quotes come from Mr. Missler’s book Daniel’s 70 Weeks: Profiles in Prophecy, Kindle edition. All quotes from Mr. Missler’s book will be highlighted in green. Bold headings are my own:
The Importance of Daniel 9
“Daniel 9 is probably one of the most pivotal chapters in the entire Bible for understanding end-time prophecy. That may seem like an exaggeration, but after seeing what’s packed into this chapter it will be easier to understand why that perspective is held by so many.” (Kindle Locations 13-15).
“Gabriel proceeds to give Daniel the most astonishing four verses in the entire Bible: 24, 25, 26, and 27.” (Kindle Location 113).
In the following quotes Mr. Missler explains some of the areas Daniel 9 influences his eschatological world view.
Daniel 9 and the Abomination of Desolation
“Jesus identifies Daniel as a prophet, and He does something even more. He points to the very passage that we’re studying in Daniel 9 by referring to this abomination of desolation.” (Kindle Locations 71-73)
Daniel 9 and the Timing of the Rapture
“So when does the Rapture take place? There are those who believe the Rapture of the Church takes place at the end; that the Church does go through the Great Tribulation. People who hold that view usually do not know anything about Daniel 9. Their view doesn’t fit Daniel’s scenario.” (Kindle Locations 885-887)
Daniel 9 and the Day of Vengeance
“Is that “day of vengeance” going to be fulfilled? Absolutely, it will happen. Has it been fulfilled yet? No, that comma has lasted some 2,000 years. So we can say with confidence that the interval between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks is implied here.”(Kindle Locations 552-554).
Daniel 9 and the anti-Christ
“Who is the “he” mentioned in this verse? The previous verse mentions both the Messiah, as well as “the prince that shall come.” This is very simple grammar; what’s the antecedent? It’s “the prince that shall come.” Some people try to say this “he” is the Messiah, but that doesn’t actually fit the text and creates other problems. This is not the Messiah. “The prince that shall come” will enforce the covenant with the many; that’s his role with Israel for this final “week” in the prophecy. Understand, though, he is the bad guy; he’s not a savior.” (Kindle Locations 634-638).
Daniel 9 and the Great Tribulation
“The Great Tribulation The 70th week is defined by a seven year covenant being enforced by the world leader. In the middle of that “week,” in the middle of that seven year period, he erects an image to be worshipped in the Holy of Holies.” (Kindle Locations 704-707).
Daniel 9 and the Second Coming of Christ
“The seventieth week is defined by the antichrist enforcing a covenant. In the middle of that period, he erects the abomination of desolation, which is the trigger for the Jews to flee Jerusalem. From there to the end is the Great Tribulation, which culminates with the battle of Armageddon where Jesus intercedes. That is His second coming, and then He sets up His millennial reign.” (Kindle Locations 882-884).
Daniel 9 and the Book of Revelation
“The tribulation begins when the scroll is unsealed and, of course, the seventieth week is then detailed from chapter six through chapter nineteen in the book of Revelation.” (Kindle Locations 970-971).
Daniel 9 and the Bible’s Calendar
“360 Day Calendars The Bible always deals in 360 day years. Sir Robert Anderson noted that fact, and that led to the unraveling of this verse, Daniel 9: 25. In Genesis 7-8, a year consists of 12 thirty-day months. It sounds very peculiar, but the books of Daniel and Revelation deal with this too. So from Genesis to Revelation, for certain purposes at least, we’re dealing in 360 day years. As we investigate this further, it’s very puzzling because all the ancient civilizations had calendars based on 360 day calendars.” (Kindle Locations 332-342).
Daniel 9 and the History of Persia
“Some Bibles have a footnote saying there were three different decrees, or commandments, which could qualify as the one referred to in this verse. That’s wrong— there are actually four decrees: Cyrus in 537 B.C. (Ezra 1: 2-4) Darius in 522 B.C. (Ezra 6: 8) Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. (Ezra 7) Artaxerxes’ second decree in 445 B.C. (Nehemiah 2) There is a difference between the book of Ezra and the book of Nehemiah. The book of Ezra is the chronicle of Cyrus freeing the Jews to go home and build their temple. They struggle, and they struggle, and they struggle to build their temple, and that’s what Ezra is all about. They don’t get very far because they can’t protect themselves. That sets the stage for Nehemiah. Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the king, Artaxerxes. In 458 B.C., Artaxerxes issues a decree that’s useful, but we’re interested in the later one, the fourth one, in 445 B.C. It’s recorded in three different places in Nehemiah 2. This decree stands out because it is the only one of the four decrees that deals with the city of Jerusalem. The other three are dealing only with the Temple.” (Kindle Locations 294-305)
Daniel 9 and the Year of the Messiah’s Ministry
“So we have the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem with the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 B.C. The triumphal entry occurred on April 6, 32 A.D. If we take the number of years, adding the number of days between March 14 and April 6, then go through the leap-year calculations, we will be following the steps in Sir Robert Anderson’s book The Coming Prince, re-published in 1994. The heart of it is that the number of days between the decree that triggered the calculation and the triumphal entry that concludes it is 173,880 days.” (Kindle Locations 417-421).
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I think above quotes demonstrate how influential Daniel 9 is to Mr. Missler’s eschatology. Obviously, in this blog article, we can’t look at each of the above points in any real detail so instead we will look at two of the claims above because of their foundational importance. The claims we will be looking at are the starting point of Daniel 9 and the measure “time” used to calculate the prophecy. Without these two basic truth claims it is impossible to prove (using Daniel 9) that Yeshua was the Messiah promised in the Scripture. So in keeping with a Berean spirit for which Mr. Missler is so well known, let’s look a little deeper in these claims to see their merit in the Biblical record.
Mr. Missler makes the following claim about the Persian decrees which scholars have long held as a fulfillment of Daniel 9:25:
“Some Bibles have a footnote saying there were three different decrees, or commandments, which could qualify as the one referred to in this verse. That’s wrong— there are actually four decrees…” (Kindle Locations 294-305)
For clarity’s sake, here is the Biblical text of Daniel 9:25. It is this “commandment” of Daniel 9:25 for which scholars have tried to pair a historical Persian decree as noted by Mr. Missler above.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment [dabar] to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks,… Daniel 9:25a
Although Mr. Missler is closer to the truth than those who only believe there are three decrees, he too is mistaken because there are not just four decrees, there are five. The fifth decree was given by YHWH and witnessed by Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezra. In fact a close look at the Biblical record shows that this decree by YHWH was in reality the focal point of the Jewish people’s efforts to rebuild Jerusalem. In the passage below Ezra references this “commandment” of YHWH.
And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and [even] Artaxerxes king of Persia. Ezra 6:14
On a related note “commandment” found in Daniel 9:25 is the Hebrew word dabar and it simply means “word”. Dabar is used over 1400 times in the Old Testament and the vast majority of the time it is used to refer to the dabar or “word” of YHWH. Dabar is used four times in Daniel 9 and of those, three of them clearly refer to the “word” of YHWH. Surprisingly few scholars even consider the dabar of Daniel 9:25 as a possible work of YHWH but a close examination of the second temple era shows the dabar of Daniel 9:25 does indeed refer to the “word” of YHWH. Here take a look at the use of dabar found in Daniel 9.
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word [dabar] of YHWH came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Daniel 9:2
And he hath confirmed his words [dabar], which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. Daniel 9:12
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment [dabar] came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Daniel 9:23
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment [dabar] to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks,… Daniel 9:25a
Knowing nothing else about the prophecy of Daniel 9 shouldn’t our inclination be to first consider the “word” of YHWH as the starting point to the greatest Messianic prophecy in the Bible? Lest you think I’m picking on Mr. Missler I encourage you to pick up any book commentary written about Daniel 9. You’ll be hard pressed to find any serious consideration given to the subject. In my opinion that is a very serious oversight which has profound implications for our understanding of Daniel 9. If you want to learn more about the Divine word to restore and build Jerusalem I deal with the subject more fully in my book Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy. As always, Subscribers to my blog may download the book for free. For those who do not wish to subscribe you can visit my Amazon author page here: Author Page
The 20th Year of Artaxerxes
Mr. Missler goes on to identify a specific starting point for one of his four Persian decrees.
“So we have the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem with the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 B.C. (Kindle Locations 417-421).
As reflected in the quote above Mr. Missler, like many of his respected peers, claims the decree given to Nehemiah in 445 B.C. by an unnamed “Artaxerxes”, as recorded in the book of Nehemiah, is the “commandment to restore and build” of Daniel 9:25.
Unfortunately, Sir Robert Anderson who popularized this belief based his claim upon the unsubstantiated claim of the great Christian historian Rawlinson. I quote Rawlinson as found on p. 71 of Anderson’s The Coming Prince:
“Artaxerxes I reigned forty years, from 465 to 425. He is mentioned by Herodotus once (6. 98), by Thucydides frequently. Both writers were his contemporaries. There is every reason to believe that he was the king who sent Ezra and Nehemiah to Jerusalem, and sanctioned the restoration of the fortifications.”—RAWLINSON, Herodotus, vol. 4, p. 217.
I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me the sum total of their proof is “there is every reason to believe” then I get just a little bit uncomfortable. You see, Rawlinson’s opinion is the sum of Anderson’s proof for his belief that the unnamed “Artaxerxes” of Ezra and Nehemiah is the Persian king Longimanus. In other words, Sir Robert Anderson’s starting point in the year 445 BC is completely without documented Biblical proof. It is merely a working assumption which seems to fit the evidence. Did you know the Bible also uses the title “Artaxerxes” to refer to other Persian kings as well?
Here is the sum of the matter. Contrary to Sir Robert Anderson’s and Mr. Missler’s well-meaning assumptions about Artaxerxes, all available Biblical evidence shows that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. What this means is that Sir Robert Anderson and Mr. Missler are using a starting point for the prophecy of Daniel 9 which is nearly 60 years too late in the second temple era. Considering the pivotal importance Mr. Missler places on the prophecy of Daniel 9, as we saw in the quotes above, every, and I mean every, eschatological assumption which is based upon Sir Robert Anderson’s theory must be reexamined in a critical light. As Bereans the evidence, or in this case the lack thereof, demands our scrutiny.
The Bible’s 360 day Prophetic Year
In the following quote Mr. Missler goes on to identify Sir Robert Anderson’s famous prophetic year as the Biblical measure of time used in the prophecy of 70 Weeks:
“The Bible always deals in 360 day years. Sir Robert Anderson noted that fact, and that led to the unraveling of this verse, Daniel 9: 25. In Genesis 7-8, a year consists of 12 thirty-day months. It sounds very peculiar, but the books of Daniel and Revelation deal with this too. So from Genesis to Revelation, for certain purposes at least, we’re dealing in 360 day years. As we investigate this further, it’s very puzzling because all the ancient civilizations had calendars based on 360 day calendars.” (Kindle Locations 332-342).
In the above quote Mr. Missler, again like many of his respected peers, believes a special 360 day prophetic year should be used when interpreting prophetic passages of the Bible, especially when it comes to interpreting Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks. I’ve dealt with this claim in great detail in Books I & II of the Prophecy and Patterns series but briefly I’ll explain why a 360 day prophetic year is problematic as a measure of prophetic time.
First of all, Mr. Missler’s statement above is not accurate because Ezekiel’s 13th month and Yeshua’s death and resurrection prove that during the second temple era the Biblical calendar was not 360 days in length.
The Bible’s Lunar/Solar Calendar
For context sake it should be noted that a 360 day prophetic year, as described by Mr. Missler, requires both the lunar and solar cycle to be in exact synchronicity. In other words, according to Mr. Missler, the solar cycle at some point in the past had to be exactly 360 days in length and the lunar cycle exactly 30 days in length.
Mr. Missler is correct that there is abundant evidence that many ancient cultures used a 360 day / 12 month calendar. But it is equally apparent from ancient history that these calendars where lunar based and most understood the necessity of a 5 day intercalation, also known as “five days over the year”, in order to reconcile these lunar calendars with the solar cycle of 365.24 days.. Those who did not intercalate their calendars to account for the five missing days had calendar months which moved through the seasons much like the Islamic calendar today.
Believe it or not there is substantial evidence that the solar cycle has remained relatively constant for much if not all of recorded history. The Egyptian Sothic cycle, the Egyptian cubit, Stonehenge, and the Great Pyramid are just a few of the more notable historical records and monuments which testify that the ancients understood the solar year to be 365.24 (or 365.25 in some cases) days in length. These examples span over 4500 years of history and testify to a relatively stable 365.24 day solar cycle.
Remember Genesis 1:14-16 and Exodus 12 shows that the Biblical calendar includes both the sun (solar cycle) and the moon (lunar cycle).That means both cycles must be accounted for in a Biblical reckoning of time.
What we do know conclusively is that during the second temple era up to the present time the Bible’s calendar has been based upon a 365.24 day solar cycle and a 29.53 day lunar cycle and unless the missing days of the lunar cycle are accounted for the lunar side of the calendar would wander through the seasons just like the Islamic calendar of today. Additional proof that the Bible did not use a 360 day lunar calendar is found in the book of Ezekiel where we find evidence of a 13th or intercalary month. For more on this see Prophecies and Patterns Book I & II or my blog article entitled Ezekiel’s 13th Month.
As a final example of the problematic nature of a 360 wandering lunar calendar we need look no further than Bible’s religious calendar in use during Yeshua’s life and ministry. You see most prophecy teachers, including Mr. Missler, would agree that Yeshua fulfilled the Bible’s prophetic spring holy days of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. They would mostly likely also agree that these fulfillments were accomplished using a Biblical calendar which is based upon a 365.24 day solar year and a 29.53 day lunar month with a intercalated 13th month.
Further, most would also agree that at some future date Yeshua will fulfill the remaining prophetic holy days of Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles). It is rather incongruent to believe Yeshua at his second coming will fulfilled the second half of the Biblical holy days using a different measure of Biblical time than He did at His first. This is especially true in light of the fact that for at least 4500 years the solar cycle has remained relatively constant at 365.24 days in length.
As we draw closer to the return of Yeshua it becomes especially important to ensure that our understanding of the Bible’s prophetic record is based upon solid Biblical facts. The above points are just a few of the many which show Sir Robert Anderson’s interpretation of Daniel 9 does not meet Mr. Missler’s own standard of Biblical proof. As you saw in the quotes above there is hardly any aspect of eschatology which Daniel 9 does not in some way influence. It’s time to address these important issues.
I want to stress once more that this article was not meant to be a personal attack on Mr. Missler. As he has testified to in the past, none of us has all the answers. My hope is this article serves as constructive criticism which will help us all see the issue more clearly in the days ahead. I end this article with an appropriate quote from Mr. Missler which calls each of us to be Bereans:
“How do we protect ourselves from being deceived? There are all kinds of people spreading all kinds of viewpoints. But which are correct? We discern the truth by diligence, and by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Our ultimate refuge is always the whole counsel of God. Any particular perspective must be consistent with what we find in the Bible.” (Location 48, Daniel’s 70 Weeks by Chuck Missler)
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Next time we will look at the influence of Daniel 9 on the teachings of Alan Kurschner and his pre-wrath view of eschatology.
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In the meantime if you would like to learn more about the Daniel 9 and the Messianic symbolism of the Bible you can subscribe to my blog below and then download a free digital copy of my book on Daniel 9. If you do not want to subscribe you will also find my books at my Amazon author page here: William Struse