Dispensationalism, Antichrist, and Daniel’s 70 Weeks
Get out your Bible and turn to Daniel 9:24-27. If the Antichrist is not actually found in this passage, dispensationalism unravels. While dispensationalists may have different systems to find the Antichrist in this passage, here’s one way that they interpret this:
Per Daniel 9:26 the prince (who was to come) that destroyed the city and sanctuary must be a future descendent of the Romans who destroyed the city and sanctuary in AD 70. It is merely ASSUMED that this person is the Antichrist. It is the Antichrist who, sometime in our future, will make (“confirm”) a covenant with Israel, and then break it 3 ½ years later. It is merely ASSUMED that the Abomination of Desolation happens to a future rebuilt temple. Jesus will return and rule the world from the new temple. There will be renewed animal sacrifices in this new temple.
There are so many problems with this scheme! Let us count the ways:
- There was only one temple, along with its destruction, in front of Daniel. It was Herod’s temple of the first century. Jesus told his followers that THEY would witness the Abomination of Desolation (i.e. the desecration of the temple) spoken of by Daniel (Matthew 24:15). The dispensational scheme ignores Jesus’ clear teaching about the timing of the Abomination of Desolation and destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2): It would occur while some of those in the first century were still alive (Matthew 23:34)―soon after Jerusalem was surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20).
- Scholars generally see the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7 as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The fifth kingdom is clearly the initiation of Christ’s kingdom as it is described as an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 2:44; 7:27). So, the prophetic story line of Daniel ends in the first century during the Roman empire and work of Christ.
- Notice a slight-of-hand. The dispensational scheme pushes the prince of 9:26 (who was to come) 2,000 years past what the text says. Daniel 9:26 is perfectly clear that the prince who was to come would destroy the city and sanctuary. The prince here had to be a first century figure, since that’s when the city and sanctuary were destroyed! Note that there are two princes mentioned in the text (9:25 and 9:26). The first one is clearly Messiah Jesus. And Acts 6:14 tells us that Jesus taught that He himself would destroy the city and temple. So, the second prince may have been Jesus. But it could also have been the Roman general Titus who was in command of the army that destroyed the city and temple. That makes sense because it was Titus (“he” of 9:27) that was directly responsible for the end to sacrifices and offerings when the temple came down in AD 70.
- The prince of 9:26 could not be the Antichrist. The Antichrist is not even mentioned in Daniel 9. To think so is reading something into the text that is not there. The inspired writer John insisted that the Antichrist (or at least his spirit) was ALREADY IN THE WORLD as he was writing (1 John 4:3). Since John insisted that THEY were ALREADY in the LAST HOUR (1 John 2:18), the imminency of the message precludes a far future fulfillment. To say that a bogeyman antichrist is still in our future is simply not biblical.
- The covenant with Israel most certainly references the change of the covenants leading to the new covenant in Christ. This is extensively discussed in the book of Hebrews, especially chapter 8. The old covenant was washed away in AD 70 when God judged old covenant Jerusalem. That’s when the temple was destroyed, and along with it the cessation forever of temple rituals and sacrifices. The priesthood also ended forever, as Jesus became our new high priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14). This marked the end of the old covenant allowing the new covenant in Jesus to flourish to its fullest (Hebrews 8:13).
- What about the 7-year tribulation? It’s no coincidence that the first half (3 ½ years) coincides precisely with the final assault on Jerusalem by the Romans under Vespasian and his son Titus―from February/March AD 67 to August/September AD 70 when the temple was demolished. The second half (also 3 ½ years) coincides with the second half of the Jewish-Roman War which ended when the Romans took the fortress of Masada in late AD 73 or early AD 74.
To explore this further, see my various related article in Section B of the list of All Articles.