Did Daniel 9 Predict the Coming of Jesus or Antiochus Epiphanes?
An Comparative Examination of Isaiah 40 and Daniel 9- And Examination of Antiochus Epiphanes
On FaceBook, the claim is being made by some former preterists that Daniel 9 is not Messianic. It did not foretell the death of Jesus to put away sin (Hebrews 9:26). It has nothing to do with Jesus! To say that this is stunning is an understatement.
While I do not hold the testimony of the early church fathers as final and definitive proof of anything, those who are espousing this non-Messianic application of Daniel 9 normally do place tremendous emphasis on the views of the “historical church” and have stated, based on the early writings, that full preterism is unorthodox, and therefore wrong. The irony here is that in the Patristic writings, the idea is almost universally held that Daniel 9 was Messianic! The view that the 70 weeks ended in AD 70 is widespread. How do these former preterists react to this? They simply wave their hand at it, lightly dismissing it as irrelevant, all the while condemning preterists for denying the testimony of the early fathers!
The denial of the Messianic application of Daniel 9 is amazing since Daniel foretold the death of Messiah in the midst of the seventieth week, the Atonement, the taking away of Israel’s sin, the sealing of vision and prophet, the catastrophic end of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple and the arrival of the World of Righteousness. I would note here that the elements of Daniel 9 are common elements of other prophecies that are freely admitted to be Messianic, e.g. Isaiah 51-56 for instance. So, that raises the question, if the elements of Daniel are the common elements in prophecies that are admitted to be Messianic, then upon what basis does one deny that Daniel 9 was Messianic? The purpose of this brief series of articles is to examine a few of those other key Messianic prophecies and their connection with Daniel 9. Of course, similarity of language does not prove identification. But, as we will see, the passages that we will examine are not just similar sounding, they are in fact identical to Daniel 9, thus negating the Antiochan claim.
It is important to note that John the Baptizer and Jesus both announced that Jesus had come when “the time” was fulfilled– when the appointed, designated time (kairos) was fulfilled. As F. F. Bruce said of the words “the time is fulfilled” in Mark 1:15: “These words express, among other things, the assurance that an ardently desired new order, long since foretold and awaited. was now on the point of realization.” He goes ahead to connect those statements with Daniel’s prophecy. (F. F. Bruce, The Time is Fulfilled, (Exeter, Paternoster Press, 1978)15).
What “time” – what designated time had been appointed for the work of Messiah? Well, Daniel 9 foretold, that within the seventy weeks, Messiah would die, not for himself, the Atonement would be made, sin would be removed, and everlasting righteousness would come in. (I am not commenting at the moment on the “finishing of the transgressions.” I hope to do that later). So, Daniel designated a time to accomplish the very things that Jesus came to do, and, he came at the designated time. But, we are supposed to ignore this.
Just as Daniel spoke of these things, Jesus – the Messiah of God – died to make the Atonement, to take away sin. He came at the end of the age. He came to fulfill the law and the prophets (which is related to “seal vision and prophet”). He was to come the second time to bring that Old Covenant world to its appointed- catastrophic- end! He would, at his parousia, bring in the world of everlasting righteousness that was foretold by the OT prophets (2 Peter 3:13).! Yet, according to the former preterists, we are not supposed to see any connection to Daniel 9!
What I want to do at this point is to investigate the motif of the taking away of Israel’s sin, as Daniel foretold. The taking away of Israel’s sin would be accomplished within and no later than the seventy weeks. What we will do is to examine three (perhaps more) texts besides Daniel 9, that foretold the taking away of Israel’s sin.
✔ We will show that each of these texts was Messianic.
✔ We will show that what they foretold was time restricted in fulfillment to the first century, and specifically, the coming of the Lord in judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem / Israel for shedding the blood of the righteous martyrs.
✔ We will demonstrate that Daniel’s prophecy foretold the identical thing that these prophecies predicted.
In establishing that those prophecies – all written prior to Daniel – foretold the catastrophic and climactic events of the first century, we will have established that Daniel 9 was, of necessity, Messianic and that his prophecy also foretold the soteriological and eschatological work of Christ, that was consummated at his end of the age coming in AD 70– Matthew 24:29-34.
The first OT prophecy to be examined is Isaiah 40:1-12: “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.”
In this great prophecy, YHVH foretold the time when Israel’s sin would be removed at the coming of the Lord in judgment of Israel and the arrival of the righteous kingdom (v. 10-12).
The Voice in the Wilderness would herald that Day of the Lord when Israel’s sin would be taken away (Isaiah 40:3).
John the Baptizer was, of course, that promised Voice. He came preparing for the coming of the Lord in judgment and the arrival of the kingdom. He said that the Day of the Lord was near – “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near”; “His winnowing fork is in his hand”; “The axe is already at the root” (Matthew 3:2/ 10-12). He promised the forgiveness of sin- the taking away of sin.
Side Bar: John was also The Messenger of Malachi 3:1-6 and Elijah of Malachi 4, which means that he was to prepare for the coming of the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord in the judgment of the Temple (Malachi 3:1-3) when no man could stand before Him. Why is this coming of the Lord in the judgment of the Old Covenant Temple, not the same judgment of the Temple in Daniel? Daniel anticipated the utter destruction of the Temple, Malachi foretold the yet future to him judgment of the Temple. One thing is for sure, the coming of the Lord in judgment of the Temple of Malachi was not the coming of Antiochus Epiphanes (BC 175-164), since it would be the Day of the Lord presaged by The Messenger, i.e. John the Baptizer (Mark 1:1-3). I will not explore that here, but, see my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27 for a fuller discussion.
Undeniably then, Isaiah 40 with its prediction of the coming of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom to take away Israel’s sin was Messianic. That is how John applied that prophecy – he was the Voice! Jesus said John was the Voice. It is how Mark applied it (Mark 1:1-2). So, in Isaiah 40 we find a Messianic prophecy of the taking away of Israel’s sin at the coming of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom.
John was the Voice announcing the forgiveness of sin, the impending judgment of Judah and the arrival of the kingdom. That meant that the taking away of Israel’s sin was a Messianic promise, and due to the temporal constraints in the Gospels, was to be fulfilled soon.
Notice that in Daniel we find the promise of the taking away of Israel’s sin. We have the time of the judgment of Jerusalem. We have the promise of the coming in of everlasting righteousness- which is the arrival of the New Creation– the Kingdom. (One has the right to ask if the kingdom came in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, establishing everlasting righteousness? To suggest that it did, would be nothing less than desperation. Did the Maccabees – in the time of Antiochus – restore Torah observance? Yes. Did they establish the kingdom in everlasting righteousness? Hardly).
If Isaiah 40 is the background for Daniel 9, (and many scholars believe that it is),
since Isaiah 40 foretold the ministry of John presaging the AD 70 coming of Christ in judgment, the kingdom, and the taking away of Israel’s sin at that Day of the Lord,
It must be true that Daniel 9 foretold that same Day of Salvation – the taking away of Israel’s sin at the arrival of the world of everlasting righteousness in AD 70. (Again, I discuss the connections between Isaiah 40 and Daniel 9 in detail in my “Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27.” The connections are incredible).
Unless it can be definitively proven that the taking away of Israel’s sin foretold in Isaiah 40 is totally unrelated to the taking away of Israel’s sin in Daniel 9, that means that Daniel 9 is Messianic. And that falsifies the claims of those denying the Messianic application of Daniel.
The constituent elements in both passages – not to mention Malachi 3 & 4 – are identical. To compound this problem, the advocates of the view that Daniel 9 foretold Antiochus Epiphanes cannot point to the time and the manner of the taking away of Israel’s sin in the days of Antiochus. As a matter of fact, in the FaceBook exchange, I posed the following questions: (Keep in mind that in the Antiochan view, Onias III, (BC 185-171) the High Priest of Jerusalem, is supposedly the “messiah” of Daniel 9:26 that died in the middle of the seventieth week. In light of that identification, Onias should have been the one to make the Atonement, to take away sin and to bring in the everlasting righteousness).
With that in mind, I posed the following questions in the FaceBook discussions:
Did Onias make the Atonement?
Did Onias take away Israel’s sin?
Did Onias bring in the world of everlasting righteousness – which by the way – both Paul (Galatians 5:5 and Peter (2 Peter 3:13) and John (Revelation 21-22) were still anticipating in the first century – in fulfillment of OT prophecies?
As of the posting of this article, I have received no response to the questions above.
We have the right to ask who did these things? Who made the promised Atonement? Who put an end to sin? Who brought about the reconciliation? Since only a high priest could make the sacrifices for the Atonement, to take away sin, etc., then those references in Daniel 9 demand that a priest, a High Priest, had to accomplish those things. But, to reiterate, chronologically that could not have been Onias, even though he was a high priest! Thus, if (since) Onias did not do what Daniel 9:24 predicted, he is not the messiah of Daniel!
I raise these questions above because as just noted, it is claimed that Onias III is the messiah, the prince, of Daniel 9:26. But, there are some facts that are being ignored in this suggestion.
✔ The fact is that Onias was murdered in BC 171, having fled Jerusalem to escape the wrath of Epiphanes.
Here is what that means:
✔ He did not re-dedicate the Temple after its defilement by Antiochus in BC 168! (Onias died three years before Antiochus even defiled the temple!)
✔ He did not “take away sin” by his actions.
✔ He did not “make the Atonement.”
✔ He did not establish everlasting righteousness.
✔ He did not anoint the Most Holy (Place)!
(He did not fulfill other aspects of Daniel 9:24 but we will leave that for another time, perhaps).
Chronologically, and historically, Onias III simply could not be the prince that would accomplish the elements of Daniel 9:24. (Of course, Jesus, the Great High Priest, did come to put away sin, to make the Atonement and bring in everlasting righteousness, thus fulfilling the OT prophecies, but, that supposedly has nothing to do with Daniel – or so we are being told!)
Onias was certainly respected for resisting the Hellenizing of Antiochus, and for resisting the plundering of the Temple treasures by the king, Seleucus Philopator. However, he was not the priest that was in charge of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus, (having died three years earlier). It is anachronistic to suggest that he was the one that made the Atonement, took away sin, made the reconciliation and brought in everlasting righteousness! That “honor” should have been placed on Judas, son of Mattathias, who cleansed the temple after the city was retaken by Mattathias in BC 164. But, that is untenable and there is nothing in Daniel 9 to suggest or allow for that identification. The math does not work either.
According to Daniel 9:26 the messiah in view (supposedly Onias III) would be cut off in the middle of the week – the seventieth week. This demands that the middle of the seventieth week was in BC 171. That only leaves 3 ½ years for the duration and expiration of the seventy weeks. There are severe problems here, as already suggested. Here is a brief time line:
✙ Onias was murdered in BC 171– three years before Antiochus defiled the temple! Again, this was supposedly in the middle of the seventieth week.
✙ Antiochus defiled the temple in BC 168.
✙ Judas Maccabeus cleansed the temple in BC 164. That is seven years after the death of Onias, and thus, 3 ½ years after the end of the seventieth week.
This time line, accepted by virtually all historians, falsifies the claim that Onias was the messiah of Daniel 9 -thus, falsifying the Antiochan application of Daniel 9. Now, perhaps I have completely missed it, but, I have not read anyone that has suggested that Judas Maccabeus was the messiah of Daniel 9:26. The chronology of that suggestion would simply not fit anyway.
Not only that, there is only one prince, one messiah involved in Daniel 9:26 who would accomplish the Atonement, the putting away of sin, etc.. But, since Onias cannot be the prince that accomplished these things, that means that another prince / messiah had to do it. But once again, Judas cannot have been that prince due to the chronology of the text. Even if one posits Judas as the one to make the Atonement, that demands that we find two messiahs in Daniel 9– in fact, it may, on the traditional reading, demand three messiahs!
1. You have the people of the prince that was to come who would destroy the city and sanctuary. We are told that this had to be Antiochus as the first prince.
2. Then, you have the messiah that would be cut off in the middle of the week. We are told that this was Onias, but, as we have seen, he did not accomplish the things listed in Daniel 9:24!
3. But then, we have to have a priest, a High Priest, to accomplish the tenets of Daniel 9:24. But remember, chronologically, that does not work, because Judas – although he was a priest – cleansed the temple seven years after Onias, and 3 ½ years after the expiration of the seventy weeks! But, he did not make the Atonement for sin, or put away sin, or bring in everlasting righteousness as demanded by the text of Daniel 9.
To summarize at the risk of redunancy, the problems (just a few of the problems) with the Antiochan suggestion, here is what we have:
1. Antiochus did not “destroy the city and the sanctuary” in an overwhelming flood, as the text of Daniel 9:26-27 demands. Incidentally, the language of the overwhelming flood, is never used of anything other than total destruction. (CF. Isaiah 24:18f). The language springs (pun intended) from the Noachic flood, and thus, to suggest that any kind of partial destruction of the city, the people and the temple is in view is a violation of that “flood” imagery.
2. Onias did not make the Atonement, take away sin, or bring in everlasting righteousness, as the text demands. (By the way, Sam Frost, former preterist, posited Onias II as the messiah to be cut off in Daniel 9:26. But that must be a typological error. Onias the II was not a righteous person by any stretch of the imagination and he is not the Onias that was murdered by Menalaus. Furthermore, Onias II died in BC 181, which does not in any way fit Frost’s proposed chronology of Daniel 9).
3. Onias III died before the Temple was ever defiled by Antiochus. That means that he did not cleanse the Temple, did not make Atonement for the Temple, did not bring in everlasting righteousness, as demanded by the text of Daniel 9. How does Onias, fleeing the temple, and being murdered in the desert, equate to making the Atonement, taking away sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness?
4. Judas Maccabeus did cleanse the temple, but, his actions lie outside the seventieth week, and the text is emphatic that the events of Daniel 9:24 were to occur within that divinely ordained period.
5. As a final thought, the end of the seventieth week is the overwhelming destruction of the city and the sanctuary. That demands that the end of the seventy week countdown was in BC 168. But, that too destroys the Antiochan application.
Antiochus assaulted the city and desecrated the temple in BC 168. That has an appearance of agreeing with an Oniad messiah, since that desecration was 3 ½ after the death of Onias. But in reality it does not help since if the seventy weeks ended in the attack on the city, as the text demands, then there is no place for the making of the Atonement, the taking away of sin and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness prior to BC 168! As we have seen, Onias did not do that! He died before that desecration! Where and when, then, in this scenario, are the glorious things of Daniel 9:24 accomplished? The seventy weeks, in this scenario, ends, not with the glorification and salvation of God’s people, but with the desecration of the temple and the defeat of the people! The end of the seventy weeks is horror, shame, defeat and desecration!
So, what we have in the connections between Isaiah 40, the ministry of John the Baptizer as The Voice, and Daniel 9 is that they all spoke of the same thing– the taking away of Israel’s sin at the coming of the Lord in judgment of Israel. Isaiah 40 is patently Messianic. Thus, if Isaiah and Daniel 9 speak of the same thing– the taking away of Israel’s sin at the time of her judgment, then this serves as powerful proof that Daniel 9 is Messianic. And if Daniel 9 is Messianic, the futurist views of the former preterists falls to the ground.
Furthermore, our brief examination of the proposal that Onias III was the messiah to be cut off has shown that he does not match the criteria of the text. While it is sometimes claimed that there is a perfect correspondence between Daniel 9 and Onias, that simply is not true. Onias was “run out of town” by Antiochus. He was murdered and did not even finish his course as a High Priest. Again, he did not do what Daniel 9 demands.
In our next installment, I will take a look at another amazing prophecy – a Messianic prophecy – of the taking away of Israel’s sin. That prophecy matches Daniel 9 to a “T.” Stay tuned!
Be sure to get a copy of my book, Seventy Weeks Are Determined…For the Resurrection. This book proves that Daniel 9 foretold the time and the work of Jesus, including the eschatological resurrection!