In a previous post titled “Why Seven Year Tribulation?” I addressed the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9 and why it doesn’t apply to a supposed seven year tribulation period. I even included a chart in that article to illustrate how it relates to the ministry and covenant of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Here, I want to share a little more about the understanding of the term “covenant” and the Administrator of that covenant in Daniel 9:27 that “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.”
In the pre-trib dispensational doctrine, it is taught that the “he” in Daniel 9:27 is the Antichrist. The only problem with this is there is nothing in the text or context that mentions or alludes to the Antichrist. That is an unfortunate eisegetical interpretation that reads into the text rather than an exegetical interpretation that reads what is actually in the text.
Applying the prophecy to the Antichrist and some type of covenant that he makes and breaks half way into a seven year tribulation period is not only eisegetical but it is not a long held doctrine in the Christian church.
In his 1712 famous Bible commentary, Matthew Henry applied Daniel 9:27 to Jesus Christ, not to an Antichrist. He said, “By offering himself a sacrifice once and for all he [Jesus] shall put an end to all the Levitical sacrifices.”
Adam Clarke, in his well-known 1825 Bible commentary, stated that Daniel 9:27’s “term of seven years” is a reference that Jesus Himself would “confirm or ratify the new covenant with mankind.”
In the 1871 Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown’s A Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible stated “He shall confirm the covenant—Christ. The confirmation of the covenant is assigned to Him.”
An 1846 Presbyterian published commentary on this topic titled Christ and Antichrist stated on Daniel 9:27 that “sometime during the remaining seven, he [the Messiah] was to die as a sacrifice for sin, and thus bring in everlasting righteousness. Here are allusions to events so palpable, that one would think, the people among whom they occurred, could not possibly have misapplied the prophecy.”
The focus of the prophecy here in Daniel 9 is the Messiah and His covenant, not an Antichrist figure and theories of what may happen in the final years of earth’s history. Another reason that this is easy to see in this chapter is the use of the term “covenant.”
The term covenant is a Messianic when you trace it through the Old Testament and into the New Testament. God presents his covenant with His people beginning in Genesis 3:15, then the Noahic covenant, than the Abrahamic covenant, the covenant at Mount Sinai, and the Apostle Paul states that “the covenant…was confirmed before of God in Christ” (Galatians 3:17).
Hebrews 9:15 reminds us that Jesus confirmed the new covenant on Calvary, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (NIV).
Jesus Christ came as the Messiah “to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8). When Daniel 9:27 uses the term “the covenant” it does so because it is not referencing any unspecified agreement or treaty, but it is speaking to the new covenant administered by Jesus Himself.
When Jesus spoke in Matthew 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (NIV) He likely knew He was closely quoting Daniel 9:27 that “he shall confirm the covenant with many.”
I realize that many decent Christians hold to the pre-trib position of eschatology and see Daniel 9 as teaching about the Antichrist during a seven year tribulation. I also realize that those who do so have taken a big-picture view without consideration of the details.
My challenge to every Bible student of the pre-trib position would be keep studying the details. If you want a place to start, visit my Dispensationalism vs Historicism page and find some posts where I’ve tackled some of the inconsistencies of overlooked details.