The following, copyrighted material, is an edited excerpt from my upcoming book Jesus’ Coming: In the Glory of the Father.
On Sunday night, June 30, I debated Thomas Ice. The topic was the Great Commission and whether it has been fulfilled, or will be fulfilled. Ice insisted that the Great Commission awaits fulfillment during the so-called future Seven Year Tribulation period, that will, according to the millennial posit, be the final week of Daniel’s Seventy Week countdown. Discussion of the proposed gap between the 69th and 70th week took up much of the rest of the program. The significance of the gap theory to the millennial view will be seen in Ice’s quote, included below.
In our debate, it was more than obvious that Ice had no answer to this material. He either ignored what I said, or went off on a tangent unrelated to my argumentation. In debating, that is a sure sign that you cannot deal with the argument. In my book, I have much more material on the so-called gap theory, but am posting only a small portion of what I used in the debate here. Lord willing, and funds permitting, that book will be published this year.
Thomas Ice, (and most millennialists), says, "I believe the Scriptures teach that Israel could have obtained her much sought after Messianic kingdom by recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. We all know the sad reality–the Jews rejected Jesus. As a result, the kingdom is no longer near[i] but postponed, awaiting Jewish belief, which will occur at the end of the Tribulation."[ii] However, this view contradicts Ice’s own view of a gap between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week.
The end of Daniel’s countdown, the end of the 70th week, would bring in the everlasting kingdom of God, "The close of the Seventy Sevens must coincide with the end of the present order of things and the beginning of the Coming or Millennial Age."[iii] Millennialists feel the need for a postponed prophetic clock, i.e. a gap in the countdown of the 69th and 70th week, however, because according to the millennialists, Jesus did not establish the kingdom due to the Jewish rejection. Ice says, "There can be no pre-tribulational rapture, great tribulation, or rebuilt temple without a gap." (Internet article, #1) In other words, no gap, no pre-tribulational millennialism! Ice goes to great length to prove "there are textual reasons for a gap of time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week!"[iv]
According to Ice, the first 69 weeks of Daniel ended "March 30th, A.D. 33," and we are still awaiting the restarting of the prophetic clock. However, Jesus most assuredly was looking forward to the end of the 70th week, because his message was, "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Mark 1:15). Surely, no one knew the countdown of Daniel’s weeks better than Jesus. He knew that the kingdom was to come at the end of the 70th week, did He not? If Jesus knew the kingdom was to come at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, and if he said "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (literally, ïhas drawn near’), then most assuredly the end of the 70th week of Daniel was at hand! If Jesus knew that there was to be a 2000 year gap between the 69th and the 70th week, he was out of line to say "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Ice says that had the Jews not rejected Jesus, he would have established the kingdom. However, this cannot be true. If there is a gap in the text of Daniel 9, of so far 2000 years, between the 69th and 70th week, then if Jesus would have established the kingdom at his first coming, that gap of Daniel 9 would have been violated! In other words, if it is true that Daniel 9 contains a divinely mandated gap between the 69th and 70th week, then Daniel’s prophecy would have failed if Jesus would have established the kingdom when he came.
What is so fascinating about all this is that Ice’s partner, Tim LaHaye, speaking of God’s purpose to establish the kingdom says, "The future is settled, and not open to change."[v] Was the future settled when Daniel made his prediction? If so, then to reiterate our original point above, there either was or was not a gap, "fixed" into God’s schema. Thus, if there was a gap, fixed into the future of Daniel 9, Jesus surely knew of it, and his offer of the kingdom was a violation of that gap! Further, as just noted, if a gap was fixed, then the Jews could not have accepted the offer of the kingdom had they wanted to. Yet, contrary to this, Ice says Jesus did offer the kingdom, and it was near when he said it was, and he would have established the kingdom had the Jews not rejected him!
Put another way, if the "future is fixed and not subject to change" as LaHaye says, then if there is a gap in Daniel, then there is no such thing as a postponement of the kingdom, because it was not supposed to be established when Jesus came. Of course, as we have seen, this violates Jesus’ legitimate offer of the kingdom. However, if there was not a gap fixed into schema of Daniel, then Jesus’ offer of the kingdom was real, the time was right, and his intent to establish the kingdom was not "subject to change!"
The millennialist cannot have it both ways. Either the kingdom was objectively near in the first century as Jesus (and Ice!), said it was, but if this is true, then there could not have been a prophesied gap between the 69th and 70th week. Or, if there was a divinely ordained gap in Daniel 9, then the kingdom was not postponed, as Ice says it was. However, if there was a divinely ordained gap in Daniel’s prediction, then Jesus had no right to ignore that gap and claim that the establishment of the kingdom, posited for the end of the 70th week, was near.
Let us summarize the choices and implications in regard to the possibility of a gap:
There either is, or, is not a gap, (we will not include here our discussion of the implications of whether there was not a gap), of 2000 years, in the text of Daniel 9:24-27, between the 69th and 70th week.
If there is a gap, of (at least) 2000 yrs, in the text of Daniel 9, then: Jesus either did or did not know about it.
If there is a gap, of 2000 years, in Daniel 9, and, if Jesus knew, then when he announced the nearness of the kingdom, (i.e. the end of the 70th week), he was purposely giving the wrong impression to his audience, or, he did not know how long the gap was to be.
If there is a gap in Daniel 9, and Jesus knew of it, he should have known that he could not truthfully offer the kingdom to Israel! If there is a gap of 2000 years, and Jesus knew of it, then he had to know that the kingdom was not near, and he could not truthfully offer Israel the fulfillment of her hope.
If there is a gap in Daniel 9, then, even if Jesus did offer the kingdom, Israel could not accept that offer, because the prophecy of the kingdom was not truly for Jesus’ generation! Remember, LaHaye says the future is fixed, and not open to change! Thus, if there is a gap, this means that Israel’s rejection was foreknown, and of course it was. However, this being the case, then it was not possible for Israel to accept the kingdom offer. The problem here is that the millennialists insist that Jesus did honestly offer the kingdom to Israel, and Israel could have accepted it!
If there is a gap in Daniel 9, and Jesus knew, but did not know how long it was supposed to be, his knowledge of Daniel’s prophecy is impugned. Yet, for Jesus to say that the end of the 70th week was near, demands that he thought he knew what Daniel actually predicted. If he thought he knew, but didn’t, clearly, this impugns his Deity. Jesus clearly claimed to know what time it was.
One thing is certain beyond doubt, Jesus knew the prophecy of Daniel better than anyone. Therefore, his declaration that the establishment of the kingdom was near, is the divine interpretation of the time of the 70th week. And, since he said "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven has drawn near" this can only mean that there was not a 2000 year gap in the text of Daniel 9:24-27. And this in turn can only mean one thing, to cite Thomas Ice again: "There can be no pre-tribulational rapture, great tribulation, or rebuilt temple without a gap." In other words, no gap, no pre-tribulational millennialism. It is clear that Jesus did not think there was a gap in Daniel’s prophecy, therefore, there is no pre-tribulational millennialism!
The issue involves the Deity of Jesus. If there was a long temporal gap in Daniel, and Jesus knew it, but presented a message that indicated that the terminus a quem, i.e. the end of the vision, was at hand, then he lied to his contemporaries, and violated the text of Daniel’s prediction. This impugns his Deity. On the other hand, if there is a gap in Daniel’s prediction, as posited by Ice, and Jesus did not know about it, this impugns his Deity. The only way to maintain the inspiration and Deity of Jesus is to admit that he was right to declare that the kingdom, and thus, the end of Daniel’s 70 weeks, was truly near in the first century, and that God kept His word and established the kingdom.
In my estimation, the millennial posit of a postponed kingdom, due to the Jewish rejection, is one of the greatest theological tragedies of all time. To suggest that God, in His omniscience, looked down the stream of time, chose what He thought was "just the right time" (Romans 5:6; Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 2:6, etc.), sent His Son to establish the Kingdom, only to discover that it could not be done because of the Jewish recalcitrance, most assuredly calls His omniscience into question. However, as my friend John Anderson says, "ïOOPS!’ is one word that is not in God’s vocabulary!" The kingdom was not postponed. God kept His word.
[i]. It is important to note that Ice says "the kingdom is no longer near." This can only mean that when Jesus said "the kingdom of heaven has drawn near" that this meant it was objectively near. This is an important admission by Ice, for he goes to great length in other writings to convince his readers that the time indicators of scripture do not indicate time at all!! However, if Jesus actually meant that the kingdom was near when he said "the kingdom of heaven has drawn near" then Ice cannot logically deny that the inspired writers meant that the parousia was actually near when they wrote "the parousia has drawn near."
[iii]. Thomas Ice is, as I write this, writing a series of articles on Daniel 9:24f, posted on the Internet. There are currently three articles. The articles can be found at: <www.according2prophecy.org/seventy-weeks-pt1.html>
The quote cited here is from part #1, p. 2.