As was already mentioned, the ancient prophets saw the Great Tribulation as an event that follows immediately after the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple (sanctuary). In other words, it is as though the "prophetic clock" stopped after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. What is the actual place of Israel before God, and what is the purpose of God to be fulfilled soon for this nation? Romans 11:11-32 describes how "blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved." This passage shows how God "stopped" in His treatment with Israel as a nation to deal with the Gentiles, and so bring forth the church. Then, at the end time, when the church is caught up out of this world (raptured), God will return to His dealing with Israel to fulfill His promise that "all Israel will be saved" (although we will see that only a remnant will be saved). This work of God will be accomplished during and at the end of the Great Tribulation, bringing them to the blessing of the millennial kingdom, where Jesus, the son of David, will reign one thousand years as King.
Daniel 9:20-27 speaks about the time God has chosen to fulfill His purpose with the people of Israel, not the church. Figure 2 shows the events related to the "70 weeks" prophecy. This period of 70 weeks began in the time of King Artaxerxes, king of Persia. The Daniel 9:24 passage is full of details, as follow:
1. Seventy weeks are determined
God established a specific time to accomplish this prophecy. This means that everything mentioned in this prophecy takes place over the span of 70 weeks (which is actually 490 years, as we will see it later).
2. For your people and for your holy city
The prophecy is addressed to "your people" (Israel) and to "your holy city" (Jerusalem), excluding the church. Also, Daniel 10:14 says, "Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."
3. To finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation (expiation) for iniquity
We know that Israel rejected Christ, and from that time the nation has lived in sin, as any other nation. On the other hand, it is also true that God has not abandoned Israel, although she has sinned. The remnant will be saved. "‘Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.' For thus says the Lord: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them'" (Jeremiah 32:37-42). "For Israel is not forsaken (has not become a widow), nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel" (Jeremiah 51:5).
4. Bring in everlasting righteousness
This is the promise for Israel: "For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her), and your land Beulah (bride); for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married" (Isaiah 62:1-4). Also Isaiah 1:26-27 says, "I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with justice and her penitents with righteousness."
5. To seal up vision and prophecy
This means to fulfill the vision and prophecy. God is faithful and He will do it.
6. To anoint the Most Holy
This is the day when the Lord Jesus will come to reign in His kingdom for one thousand years. The remnant of Israel and the saved people of other nations will worship the Lord and will honor Him as King and Messiah. "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16).
As we mentioned before, this prophecy will be accomplished without reference to the period of the church, that is, from the destruction of the city and the temple until the time of the beginning of the Great Tribulation. This time of the church was hidden to the people of Israel who lived before the time of Christ.
Daniel 9:25-27 says, "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."
Let us examine the meaning of the 70 weeks. In Genesis 29:27-28 the scriptures show the correlation: "Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years. Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week..." In Ezekiel 4:4-6 there is also another instance, "...forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year." So, 70 weeks = 490 days = 490 years.
The prophecy says that the starting point is "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem, the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times." This was accomplished in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes (around 445 B.C.), when there was a decree to rebuild the city, including the walls and its doors (Nehemiah 1:3, 2:1-8). By this we understand that the count of the 70 weeks (490 years) began at the year 445 B.C. (see Figures 1 & 2).
According to Daniel's prophecy, from the command to restore and build Jerusalem until the death of the Messiah there will be 69 weeks (483 years). The prophet Daniel divides these 69 weeks into two parts: seven weeks (49 years) that lasted until the restoration of Jerusalem, and 62 additional weeks (434 years) from the restoration until the death of the Messiah ("And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off"). We know from history that all these events have already been fulfilled.
Daniel prophesied that "the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (Daniel 9:26), which would have to occur after the death of the Messiah. Here does not say that the prince would come to destroy, but that the people of the prince who is to come (in the future) would destroy the city and the sanctuary. This "people" is the Roman Empire, which governed in Judea in the time of Jesus. As we stated before, in the year 70 A.D. this part of the prophecy was totally fulfilled, when the Roman Empire destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. This event was of great importance, since it was the last event to happen before the coming of the judgment, the Great Tribulation, over Israel and all other nations. Jesus also predicted this event of destruction; see references: Matthew 23:37-38, 24:1-2 and Luke 19:43-44.
The prophecy mentions "the prince who is to come," and he has not yet come. The Antichrist is this prince, who shall govern over all the earth in the time of the Great Tribulation. He will use a people with Roman roots, which is the European Union (EU), as his best ally.
The last part of the prophecy to be fulfilled is verse 9:27: "Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week (seven years); but in the middle of the week (three years and a half) he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate." This is the last week or last seven years of the prophecy, which correspond to the seven years of the Great Tribulation. Figure 3 – Division of Years in the Great Tribulation shows the different periods of time within the seven years of the Great Tribulation and the events that will occur.
This "prince who is to come," the Antichrist, will be a wise person who comes as a great leader, as part of his first strategy. At the beginning he will not come openly as "the messiah," but as a very charismatic worldwide leader. He will receive that special ability and power from the devil, as is stated in Daniel 8:23-25, "In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart..." Also Revelation 13:2 says, "Now the beast (Antichrist) which I saw... The dragon (Satan) gave him his power, his throne, and great authority." The Antichrist will be a despicable and deceiving leader that will blaspheme God and deceive all the nations.
The first strategy of the Antichrist will be to bring peace among all nations, especially between Jews and Arabs. In Daniel 11:24 says, "He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province..." This action of this evil prince is described also with the appearance of the first white horse in Revelation 6:2. This apparent peace will last for only the first three and a half years of the seven-year period of the Great Tribulation (see Figure 3). At the middle of the "week," the Antichrist will take off his mask of a good leader, and will come with all his forces to destroy and kill all the nations, especially the people of Israel (see Daniel 11:21-24). The other three horses in Revelation 6 show what will happen from the middle of the "week" until the end of the Great Tribulation. The so-called peace will end. "For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
The Antichrist is so abominable that he will present himself as God: "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away (apostasy) comes first, and the man of sin (Antichrist) is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Mark 13:14 also speaks about this: "So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." "The coming of the lawless one (iniquitous) is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9). The scriptures describe this time as the "time of Jacob's trouble (distress)" and "great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."
But the end of this vile leader will come on the earth, because the Lord "shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever" (Daniel 7:26). Also, Daniel 8:25 says, "...He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means."