Our Lord’s ministry covered 3 ½ years, ending with his crucifixion, at the time of the Passover, in the spring of A.D. 33. In this he exactly fulfilled the prophecy concerning the remaining or last week (seven years) of promised favor, which says: “AFTER (7 and 62) sixty-nine weeks shall Messiah be cut off [“be slain”, Douay translation] but not for himself, in the midst of the week [the remaining 70th] he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.”
The sacrifices which were offered according to the Law there ceased; not that animals, incense, etc., were not offered thereafter by the priest, for they continued to be offered year by year, but rather that they were no longer accepted by God, and were in no sense sacrifices for sin. The true sacrifice having come, our Lord Jesus having “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9:26) God could no longer recognize other offerings as sacrifices, nor any necessity for them.
Understand this here and now Christ most certainly did put away sin, THE SIN, by the sacrifice of himself. Remember that we ALL have been condemned to death under the ONE SIN committed by father Adam. “…Just as through ONE MAN sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12) That is to say that we by heredity inherited not only the sin of our father Adam, but we also inherited the just penalty, death. We are not so much condemned because of our own sins, which are predominantly do to the fall and to heredity, as we are for the sins of our father Adam.
“For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation [to all]” Rom 5:16; Jer 31:29
The sin of the world is the sin of Adam, for “in him all have sinned.” This left man “without strength,” but “in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” The sin made mankind “enemies,” and we were “reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” “God laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa 53:6). And he “bore our sins on his own body on the tree (the cross)” 1 Pet 2:24.
“For as by one man’s disobedience ALL were made sinners, so also by one man’s obedience many shall be made righteous.” Rom 5:19
However even though the sin of Adam (Adamic sin) has been fully paid for, the merit of Christ sacrifice has yet to have been applied to the world, why? Because God has seen it expedient to allow sin to continue, this in order that the Church class, the body of Christ, may be fully tested and tried. If sin and all its adversities had been removed at the beginning of the Gospel, how could the church have been properly developed?
There, at the cross, Messiah, who had been sacrificing himself for 3 ½ years, finished the work (John 19:30) and thus “made an end of sin,” made full and complete reconciliation toward God for the iniquity of men, thus bringing to all mankind an everlasting justification from sin, (even though delayed for a time) instead of the typical yearly justification, accomplished by the types for the typical people, Israel. The death of Messiah was also the “seal”, the guarantee of the fulfillment, of all the visions and prophecies of coming blessings, and “times of restitution of all things, which God had spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21) Those promises, BOTH the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant, were secured, made sure, with “his own precious blood” (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25), which speak of better things for us than the blood of bulls and goats, even everlasting justification and putting away of sin, to all those who receive him.
And in the remainder or latter half of this 70th or last week of Jewish favor, 3 ½ years, beginning with Pentecost, his followers, “the most holy” of that nation, were anointed with the Holy Spirit of God, as Messiah had been at the close of the 69th week.
Thus were fulfilled the statements of Verse 24 of this prophecy: “Seventy weeks are determined [set apart] upon THY PEOPLE and upon thy holy city, (a) to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, (b) and to seal up the vision and prophecy, (c) and to anoint the most holy (i.e. the Israelites indeed)”.
The prophecy did not show that this entire work would be deferred until the last “week”, when Messiah would be present; and doubtless they understood it to imply great moral reform on their part, which would prepare them for Messiah, and the anointing under him of their nation as the “most holy” people, to bless the world in general.
They had not learned by centuries of experience that THEY were powerless to put away sin and make reconciliation for iniquity, and that it would require a perfect ransom-sacrifice to accomplish this great work of blotting out sin and justifying the condemned. On the other hand, Daniel’s prophecy, while showing that Messiah would be cut off [die] in the midst of the last week, did not show that the mass of his people would be UNHOLY and therefore cast off, as they were, in the midst of that week. (Matt 23:38)
Another prophet had said, “He shall finish the work and CUT IT SHORT in righteousness [justly]”, (because the bulk of that nation were unfit to receive him) and all was finished in the half week (3 ½ years of Jesus’ ministry, except the anointing of the most holy.
The Last Half of the 70th Week of Daniel
What of the balance of the 70th week, the 3 ½ years of it which extended beyond the cross? Did God promise to set aside seventy weeks of favor upon Israel, and really give them but sixty-nine and a half? At first glance it has this appearance, especially when we recall that it was just five days before his death “in the midst of the week” that Jesus wept over their city and gave them up, saying, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” But not so: God knew the end from the beginning; and when he promised 70 weeks, he meant it. Hence we must look for favor upon that people for three and a half years after the crucifixion; notwithstanding they were left desolate nationally.
That the Israelites as a nation were not fit to be recipients of the chief or spiritual favor (nor of the earthly favor either) was demonstrated by their rejection of Messiah, as God had foreseen and foretold; hence it was profitless to them to continue their national testing beyond the midst of their 70th week, and it was cut short there, when they were left “desolate”, rejected from favor.
During the remaining portion (three and a half years) of their period, the favor was INCREASED, though confined to the “remnant,” the most holy, the purest or fittest, which alone it could benefit. (Isa 10:22, 23 also compare Rom 9:28). The increase of favor consisted in the fact that it gave to that remnant three and a half years of exclusive attention and ministration, under the increased advantages of the spirit dispensation, which, beginning with the disciples at Pentecost, reached probably all the ripe wheat of that nation, during that period of special favor. See Acts 2:41 and 4:4 for the results of the first few days.
It was for this reason that, though Jesus had tasted death for all, and the Gospel was to be proclaimed to all, yet his instructions to his disciples were that they BEGIN AT JERUSALEM. Nor were they to leave that special work, or offer the favor of the new dispensation (the Gospel Age) to any others, until the three and a half years of PROMISED FAVOR TO ISRAEL were fulfilled, until God specially sent it to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. (Acts 10)
The exact date of the conversion of Cornelius, chronologist can only guess at; and hence it is variously estimated as having occurred from A.D. 37 to 40; but in view of this marked prophecy which we are now considering, we doubt not that it was in the autumn of A.D. 36; for there the 70 weeks, or 490 years, of favor upon Israel ended. Since their exclusive favor ended there, most appropriately should sending the gospel to the Gentiles mark it. Israelites were not deprived of the gospel after that, but were treated the same as the Gentiles, though prejudice no doubt placed the remainder in a less favorable position. The “most holy” being already chosen out, the gospel was no longer confined to them exclusively, but was open to every creature having an ear to hear.
After the 70 weeks came the distress and trouble mentioned in the latter clauses of Verses 26 and 27. The Roman prince came, and did destroy the city and the Temple, an, “like a flood”, he left behind him terrible waste and destruction. And Messiah, whom they rejected, has permitted various evils to befall that people ever since, and will continue to permit them “until the consummation,” until they shall have had enough, until he shall say, “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.” (Isa 40:2) Meantime THAT IS DETERMINED shall be poured upon that desolate one (or cast off people) till her cup be full of sorrow, until that day when they shall say, “Bless is he that comes in the name of the Lord.” That day of Israel’s deliverance is now dawning, thank God; and though their desolation and distress are not yet at an end, each hour hastens the time when their prejudice-blinded minds shall see out of obscurity him whom they have pierced, and when they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, (Zech 12:10).