Daniel 9:27: Antecedent of “He:” Messiah the Prince or the Prince that Shall Come?
The epic Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Years as given to the Prophet Daniel by the Angel Gabriel (Daniel 9:24-27) has been a bone of contention between Historicists and Futurists for centuries. That contention devolves upon one singular question: do we read the prophecy literally or do we not read it literally. Indeed, to be literal or not to be literal, that is the question.
Now, the great hermeneutic of Bible-reading is to understand the passage before you in its literal, natural meaning. This is how the Lord Jesus Christ—the incarnate Word of God—understood the Scriptures (the written Word of God); so should we. Neither the student nor the scholar are ever permitted to redefine any word or phrase thereby departing from its historical, natural meaning unless addressing figurative language, such as a parable or a vision. Yet, such figurative language is explained or defined in the immediate text or by a parallel passage in the Word of God further preventing the Bible-reader from inventing his own “private interpretation” of the word, phrase of passage under study. In keeping to this rule of literal reading (for what is to keep in check the minds of men if all are permitted to redefine the very words of God!), we shall address this all-important prophecy. As to its specific importance, the Angel Gabriel’s words compose a prophecy cited by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:15); a prophecy partially fulfilled by Himself in his open declaration as “Messiah the Prince” (Matthew 21:1-9) in accordance with Zechariah 9:9; a prophecy serving as the key foundation for understanding the literal fulfillment of Revelation 6 through 19.
The two camps (to the exclusion of the Jesuitical Preterists) attempting to explain this Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Years are the futurist camp and the historicist camp. The futurist camp is the oldest dating back to the First Century Church; the historicist camp is of recent development generally championed by the Protestant Reformers during the 16th Century. This point does not validate either position as the “oldest and therefore the best” argument is used by Satan as the foundation for his design of overthrowing the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures translated into the series of English Bibles born out of the Protestant Reformation. For, the “oldest and therefore the best” argument is employed by the Jesuits and their agents to seduce the Child of God away from the Scriptures of the Reformation into accepting “the oldest and therefore the best Greek manuscripts,” which manuscripts are pro-Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, thereby returning the “heretics” (“separated brethren” as of Vatican II) to the fold of Rome. Rather, we are confined to the rule of the great hermeneutic when somberly addressing this keystone of Old Testament prophecies “given by inspiration of God,” preserved down to this day, and translated into our epic English Reformation Bible, the AV1611 in its present edition of 1769.
Now to specifics: the futurist position maintains the 70th Week of Daniel—the last seven-year period of the prophecy—is yet future, yet to culminate in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The historicist position claims the last seven-year period of the prophecy has been fulfilled by Christ at his First Coming. Futurists believe there is a gap of time between the 69th and 70th Week of Years, a gap of time that began the day after Christ declared himself “Messiah the Prince” on 10 Nisan (April 6), 32 AD, which gap of time continues to this day. Historicists believe there is no gap of time between the 69th and 70th Weeks of Years, that the prophecy has been entirely fulfilled in its six specifics given in Daniel 9:24.
It is the position of your Editor that the historicist position is untenable for one most important reason: it denies the literal reading of the prophecy! It violates our first great hermeneutic—the literal reading of the Word of God as taught to us by the living Word of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! Our first example illustrating the departure from our paramount rule of understanding the Scriptures is the date on which historicists assign the issuing the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem as foretold in Daniel 9:25:
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto 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.”
There is only one commandment given to restore and to build Jerusalem (not the commandment to rebuild the Temple as first decreed by Cyrus) subsequent to the giving of this prophecy. That command is found in Nehemiah 2:1-6, and in no other place in the Old Testament. That command was given on the first day of the Hebrew New Year, the first of Nisan, in the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia. That date, as proven by Sir Robert Anderson in his epic work, The Coming Prince, was March 14, 445 BC. But to simplify the matter for this discussion, the command to rebuild the city of Jerusalem—not the Temple—was given in 445 BC. There is no other year any such commandment was issued according to the testimony of the Hebrew Scriptures.
On the other hand, historicists believe the commandment for the restoration of Jerusalem was given in 457 BC and cite Ezra 7:12-26. In this lengthy decree of King Artaxerxes, given in the seventh year of his reign that began in 465 BC, only the building of “the house of God” is addressed. See Ezra 7:16, 17, 19, 20, 23 and 24. Ezra then praises God for this decree and concludes in verse 27:
“Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.”
No mention throughout the entire text is made of the building of the city of Jerusalem—None! But the historicist, in his attempt to prove his preconceived notion that the prophet’s Seventy Weeks of Years—490 years—has been fulfilled, Suggests that there was a coordinate, implied command to rebuild the city. (Satan’s doctrine of implied powers has not only destroyed the intent of the writers of the U.S. Constitution, but has also, in this instance, rendered the Word of God of none effect!) The historicist has departed from the literal reading of the Scripture (even as the American Supreme Court has departed from the literal reading and intent of the Constitution!), especially when we have one singular, clear commandment to rebuild Jerusalem recorded in the second chapter of Nehemiah. Without a solid date for the issuing of that all-important commandment to rebuild Jerusalem, our understanding of Daniel’s prophecy is incomprehendable! Such is the first and foremost dilemma the historicist must address, but only if he violates our first great hermeneutic—the literal reading of the Bible. Sadly, this is exactly what the historicist has done: he has assigned a date for the rebuilding of Jerusalem that is premised upon a lie—his lie—that Ezra was given that commandment, not Nehemiah!
The second dilemma, nearly as significant as the first, in which the historicist is trapped is found in Daniel 9:27:
“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.”
The historicist maintains that, according to English grammar, the “he” of verse 27 refers to “Messiah” and not “the prince that shall come” of verse 26 which reads:
“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.”
In light of other coordinate Scriptures the “he” of verse 27 cannot refer to “Messiah,” the Hebrew/Jewish/Israelite seed of David. Daniel goes on to further speak of this same “he” in Daniel 12:11-12:
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”
How are we to understand this time when the abomination that maketh desolate is set up in the Hebrew Temple as foretold by Daniel in two specific places, Daniel 9:27 and 12:11? How are we to comprehend this event that precedes national blessing to the Jew who survives the subsequent 1290 plus 45 days after this event? The Lord Jesus Christ gives us His answer. We read in Matthew 24:15, 21-22, 29-30;
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth, let him understand: . . .
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. . . .
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
According to Christ there is only one “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the Prophet. Thus, this singular event, this “abomination of desolation” of Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11, is the same event perpetrated by the same man, the “he” of Daniel 9:27 (who, by the way, is the same “he” of Daniel 11:45, the same “he” of Daniel 12:7).
Further, how can “he” of verse 27 refer to “Messiah” when Messiah has been “cut off,” killed? There is no mention of the resurrection of Messiah in this text. Thus, if the “he” of verse 27 is referring to the slain Messiah, how can the slain Messiah confirm a covenant for seven years?
Further, according to Christ, as He answers the question of his Jewish disciples as to the sign of his Second coming to earth and the end of the world (or rather “age” and not the physical destruction of the world), in the days of this singular “abomination of desolation” as foretold by Daniel:
1. There shall be great tribulation to the extent that there has never been such a time in the history of the world, and that if not shortened, no flesh—man, beast, bird or fowl— would survive (Matthew 24:21-22).
2. After that terrible tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven and subsequently the Son of man comes back to earth in “the clouds of heaven” in great power and glory in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14, Christ referring to this very verse when put under oath by the High Priest (Matthew 26:64).
If we are to read the Bible literally and examine general recorded history, NONE of these events have occurred. And it is during the days of these events that the “abomination of desolation” is set up as stated by Daniel the Prophet.
Further, since these two events listed above are yet future, the setting up of “the abomination of desolation” is also yet future, for it is in the days of this desolation of the future Holy Place–-the Third Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem (which, if Daniel 9:27 is to be literally fulfilled, must be erected since the Second Temple has been destroyed as per Daniel 9:26)—that the Lord Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming in answer to the questions of His Jewish Apostles (Matthew 24:3)!
Therefore, the individual, the “he” of Daniel 9:27, that sets up “the abomination of desolation” in the Third Hebrew Temple, causing the temple sacrifices to cease, is yet to come. This same man, the “he” who confirms an existing covenant for seven years, breaks this covenant, and sets up the “abomination of desolation” in the holy place. In all the gospel records, did Jesus Christ confirm an existing covenant with many nations, including Israel, for seven years? Did Christ then break that covenant, and then desolate the Hebrew Temple? Would Christ even do such things, thereby becoming a covenant-breaker and another Antiochus Epiphanes IV who erected an image of himself in the Second Temple? Did Jesus the Christ, who openly claimed via a public event to be the Messiah of Israel according to Zechariah 9:9, ever cause the temple sacrifices to cease? They continued for another 38 years until Titus’ Roman Legions destroyed not only the Temple but the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD! Clearly, Jesus the Messiah never confirmed an existing covenant with Israel and the nations for seven years, nor did He break that covenant, nor did he cause the Temple sacrifices to cease, nor did he erect an idol in the Hebrew Temple, this idol being the “abomination of desolation.”
Clearly, the “he” of Daniel 9:27 is not the “Messiah” of verse 26. Rather, the “he” (in light of the verses given above) is referring to its nearest antecedent, “the prince that shall come,” within the same verse. The people of this prince who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its sanctuary (the Temple) were Roman legions. Thus, this “prince that shall come” is Roman, whom your Editor declares to be the final Papal Roman Caesar—the Pope of Rome—who confirms this preexisting, international covenant for seven years in fulfillment of Daniel 9:27. As to this ongoing controversy as to which antecedent noun the pronoun “he” is referring to—the Hebrew “Messiah” or the Roman “prince that shall come”—, a noted theologian, Dr. H. C. Thiessen writes:
“If the sixty-nine weeks take us to the Cross of Christ [actually, Christ’s declaration of his Messiah-ship on Palm Sunday—EJP], then the seventieth week must come after the Cross. But here we note first of all that there is an interval between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth weeks. Tregelles says:
‘At the cutting off of Messiah, the recognition ends; then comes the interval, and the time is again taken up for one week at the close’ (Remarks on the Book of Daniel, p. 10).
“During this interval ‘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 even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined’ (Dan. 9:26).
“This points definitely to the coming of the Romans under Titus and their destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred in A.D. 70. Concerning the words, ‘the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined,’ Ironside says:
‘These words briefly describe the history of Palestine from the coming of the Roman armies under Titus to the present time. Jerusalem, and Palestine as a whole, have been trodden down of all nations, and shall be, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”‘ (Lectures on the Book of Daniel, p. 167).
“Then we note that the city and the sanctuary shall be destroyed by the people of the prince that shall come, not by the prince himself. As we have seen, these people are the Romans, who fulfilled this prophecy in A.D. 70. The prince comes to the fore in v. 27. The verse reads as follows:
‘And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.’
“There is, however, considerable difference of opinion as to what is the antecedent of the pronoun ‘he.’ Most commentators think it is ‘the Anointed One,’ in the first part of v. 26; some, taking the pronoun as a neuter, ‘it,’ think it is the ‘week,’ as if the ‘week’ would confirm the covenant with the many. But how, we would ask, can the reference be to Christ when we have just been introduced to the Roman prince? It seems necessary to make the pronoun refer to him [which conclusion sustains the established rule of English grammar, a pronoun referring to its nearest antecedent—EJP].
“Furthermore, when did Christ make a firm covenant with many Jews for one week; and how can it be said of Him that ‘in the midst of the week’ He caused ‘the sacrifices and oblations to cease,’ when the temple sacrifices continued for about forty years after Christ’s death on the Cross? It would seem absurd to refer the pronoun to the ‘week.’ How can a ‘week’ make firm a covenant and then break it in the midst of itself? It is more natural to refer the pronoun ‘he’ to the prince mentioned in the last part of v. 26, namely, the Roman prince; however not to Vespasian, Roman emperor from A.D. 69-79, nor to his son and successor, Titus, who ruled from A.D. 79-81. Neither of these made and broke such a covenant with the Jews; and Titus lived only two years after his accession to the throne. The reference is to a Roman prince who shall come after the long interval of the last half of verse 26, which has already lasted 1,900 years; and the last week is still future. Tregelles takes the pronoun ‘he’ of v. 27 to refer to the ‘prince that shall come’ of v. 26, and says:
‘The prince who shall come is the last head of the Roman power, the person concerning whom Daniel had received so much previous instruction’ (op. cit., 105).—Bibliotheca Sacra, 1935, XCII, 48-50* [Emphasis added]
*Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), Vol. IV of VIII, pp. 348-349.
In conclusion, the pronoun “he” of Daniel 9:27 is none other than “the prince that shall come” of verse 26. This coming prince, during whose reign the Lord Jesus Christ will physically return to Jerusalem, is Roman. For his Roman legions (though composed of foreigners, specifically the 10th Legion) destroyed both Jerusalem and the Second Temple in A.D. 70. This coming Roman prince will be as much of a Roman Caesar as were his predecessors. And since the title of “Pontifex Maximus”–that name of blasphemy—was transferred from Roman Emperor Gratian to Bishop of Rome Damasus I, EVERY POPE OF ROME has been a Roman Emperor, a Roman Caesar, the King of Rome and foremost Prince of the Roman Papacy ruling an international, geopolitical empire since no later than A.D. 606.
Therefore, according to this wonderful prophecy, there is a coming Roman Papal Caesar who will be the last and final Pope of Rome. He will confirm a preexisting, international covenant that will bring a temporary peace to Israel. This peace will protect the Third Hebrew temple and its priests, they offering sacrifices and oblations according to the law of Moses. This final King of Rome will be slain and rise from the dead to be the Man-Beast of Revelation 13:1-10, 18. Upon rising from the dead, the risen Pope, possessed by Satan to be the Antichrist/Man-Beast, will go to Jerusalem, break the covenant he previously confirmed, and there demand to be worshipped as God, his Jewish False Prophet erecting an image of the risen, Roman Man-Beast inside the Hebrew Temple. At this time he ends all Hebrew worship and service at the Third Hebrew Temple, the erecting of the image of himself being “the abomination of desolation” as warned by the Lord Jesus Christ, He referring to the same abomination of desolation as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet. At this time, mid-week of the seven-year period, the risen Roman Pope turned Satan-possessed, Antichrist/ Man-Beast will rule the world for 42 literal months. Indeed, the “he” of Daniel 9:27 is “the prince that shall come,” the final Roman Papal Caesar turned Antichrist/Man-Beast, to be cast alive into the Lake of Fire by the risen and returning Lord Jesus Christ at his glorious Second Coming (Revelation 19:20)!
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