The Olivet Discourse explains Daniel’s 70 Weeks

Why did the disciples ask the question that launched Jesus’s Olivet Discourse? Might it be that the Olivet Discourse explains Daniel’s 70 Weeks?

Starting Too Late

As Christians we tend to start reading our doctrinal passages too late. We tend to miss important context that explains what is going on.  This is definitely the case with the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24 – 25). We usually start reading and interpreting with the question that the disciples asked Jesus that prompted the sermon.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)

But what prompted this question? Why did the disciples start out by asking Jesus eschatological questions only a day or so before the crucifixion? To understand this, we must look back a couple chapters in Matthew.

The Parables

In Matt. 21, we read the account of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first day (Sunday) of Holy Week. Upon entering the city, Jesus went to the Temple and threw out the money changers. On the following morning, Jesus returned to the city and was accosted by the Jewish authorities asking him under whose authority he did this (cleansed the Temple). Jesus replied with a number of parables.

Two of these parables were based in part on Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy – and a particular verse from that prophecy:

Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. (Dan. 9:26)

Two things were prophesied to happen after the arrival of Messiah. He was to be “cut-off” (killed) and the Temple and city were to be destroyed.

In the Parable of the Land Owner (Matt 21:33-44), Jesus told how the unrighteous vineyard workers killed the son of owner (Messiah is cut-off). Jesus appealed to Daniel again (Dan. 2:35) and explained how he was the stone that would crush and pulverize:

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a [m]people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust. (Matt. 21:43-44)

In this way, Jesus was alluding to the destruction that was to come on the city and Temple. However, in the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt. 22:1-14), Jesus became more specific about the destruction of the city:

The rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.  But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. (Matt. 22:6-7)

Pay particular notice that the destruction in BOTH parables comes from the hand of the King or Jesus (the stone). Most biblical scholars stress Rome’s involvement in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. However, these parables make it clear that Rome was only the instrument by which GOD destroyed the city. The armies were HIS ARMIES.

Woe to the Pharisees and Scribes

Jesus then called down eight “woes” on the Pharisees (Matt. 23:1-36 ), calling them out as hypocrites. Jesus then pronounced judgment on them:

Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matt. 23: 34-36)

Notice, Jesus didn’t say God the Father was sending the prophets, wise men, and scribes (the Apostles and disciples), he said HE was doing it. Then finally, Jesus left the temple desolate. God left the building.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Matt. 23:37-39)

“Desolate” is another very specific word from Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy:

The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. (Dan. 9:26)

The Disciples Respond

As Jesus walked away from the Temple, the disciples were obviously shocked and dismayed. Rather than Jesus being proclaimed king and Messiah by the Jewish Authorities, Jesus had had a knock-down war of words with them from which there was no going back. Matthew’s Gospel tells us they pointed out the stones of the Temple to Jesus.  In Luke, the Gospel is more specific:

Some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts. (Luke 21:5)

You can almost hear the disciples begging Jesus to take back what he had just done. “But the Temple is so beautiful!” they might have said. Jesus ended that discussion abruptly:

And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matt. 24:2)

The disciples minds were obviously again take back to Dan. 9:26a which prophesied the destruction of the Temple. I am sure that when they returned to the Mount of Olives where they were staying,  they began to put two and two together. “This must be the prophesied destruction Daniel spoke of.”  This realization then led to the disciples’ question that we looked at in the beginning of this post.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)

The Olivet Discourse Explains Daniel’s 70 Weeks

But how can be absolutely sure this is what the disciple’s were asking about? For one, why else would the disciples tie the destruction of the Temple to the end of the age? Wouldn’t that understanding only have come from the Book of Daniel and the 70 Weeks Prophecy?

Second, the disciples question contains a very unusual Greek word, synteleia, which means “consumation,” or when all the parts come together. This is the word that most Bibles translate as “end” as in the “end of the age.” I bet you won’t be surprised to learn that it is found in Dan. 9:27 of the LXX Septuagint text where Gabriel tells Daniel that these things (in the 70th Week) will take place at the synteleia of time, or the consummation of time or the end of time.

So when the disciples asked this question, they were in essence asking, “When will the consummation of the ages that Daniel spoke of in the 70 Weeks Prophecy happen?”

What was Jesus’s answer and will it surprise or even shock you?

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This teaching comes from my newest book, 70 Times 7: Daniel’s Mysterious Countdown and the Church’s Heroic Future. The answer to those last questions and the revealing of dozens and dozens of other eschatological discoveries are waiting for you there.

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4 thoughts on “The Olivet Discourse explains Daniel’s 70 Weeks”

  1. Nelson, I just ordered your book and can’t wait to read it. I, too, do not think that there is a “peace treaty”, from my reading of the text, but I look forward to learning what you have to say about it.

  2. Nelson: Here is hoping for a success for your book release and distribution. I don’t think that that Roman armies were God’s armies but were rather God’s (temporary representatives to accomplish God’s will) for a season of time.

    In Revelation 17:12-13 speaks of 10 end-times kings who will give their power and authority to the beast.

    Later, in Revelation 18:8 we see that the ten kings and the beast are part of a team that the Lord allows to be raised up with John the Apostle writing in Revelation 17:8b “….And the will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.” speaking of the ten kings and the beast’s actions toward “Mystery Babylon”. Yet, it is the Beast or man o sin and the false prophet who are thrown into the lake of fire apparently without appearing before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgement.

    I have a sense here that the Lord will use whomever He wills to accomplish His purposes. It is not necessarily the one’s we might choose, but, are the instrument God chooses.

    1. You are absolutely correct Joseph that the Roman armies were used by God just as he used the Babylonian armies to do his bidding in the first destruction of the Temple. When the book comes out I invite you to read Chapter Seven and find out why the Jews and the Arabs were complicit in the city and temple’s destruction as well. The primary driver however, was the Lord himself, permitting and yes, even more than that, sanctioning the destruction.

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