The Fulfillment of the 70th Week
Many of the prophecies relating to the time when the Lord Jesus Christ will return are prefaced with the phrase, "In that day":
However, there is a dispute as the the meaning of the phrase "in that day". Preterist Philip Mauro says:
"The expression 'in that day' occurs about twenty times in the book of Zechariah; and, as a judicious commentator says, 'It is a synonym for the great Messianic hope.' 'In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleaness,' we understand clearly that he is foretelling the cross of Christ " [emphasis mine] (Mauro, The Hope of Israel, Chapter 2).
The preterists teach that the prophecies preceded by the phrase "in that day" are already fulfilled or are now being fulfilled. Mauro continues, saying, "Enough has been said, however, to make evident that the prophecies of Zechariah referred to above, and hence other prophecies of like character as well, relate to things spiritual and and have their fulfillment in this present era of grace" [emphasis mine] (Ibid.).
"After This I Will Return"
In order to put an end to the controversy once and for all let us look at another prophecy "of like character":
"In that day will I raise up again the tabernacle of David that is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up...That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who does all these things." (Septuigant; Amos 9:11-12).
Even though I have already addressed the meaning of this verse previously in the section entitled "After This I Will Return" I will repeat some of the things said earlier. According to Mauro this verse must also refer to events that have already happened. However, the Apostle James did not believe that these verses were fulfilled at the Cross. He quotes this prophecy of Amos, and replaces the words "in that day" with His own words which tell us when he thought this prophecy would be fulfilled, saying:
"After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (Acts15:16).
The prophecy of Amos is in regard to when the Lord Jesus will return. Despite James' clear words the preterists still cannot understand what James said. Preterist Dr. Kenneth Gentry, says:
"Other passages illustrating how the Church fulfills prophecies regarding Israel are found in the New Testament. Citing Amos 9:11-12, James says God is rebuilding the tabernacle of David through the calling of the Gentiles" [emphasis mine] (Gentry,He Shall Have Dominion, Acts 15:15ff)."
James never said that "God is rebuilding the tabernacle of David through the calling of the Gentiles". Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Dr. Gentry the church is fulfilling this prophecy despite the fact that the Lord Jesus has not yet returned.
The Great Tribulation
According to James the prophecies in the ninth chapter of Amos are in regard to events that will take place after the return of the Lord Jesus. Amos shows that the Jews will return to the land and will no more be pulled up out of their land (Amos 9:15). In Zechariah we read:
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness" (Zech.8:7,8).
Then we see events that will take place during the "great tribulation": "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem .all the nations of the earth be gathered together against it" (Zech.12:23).
It is at this time when the Lord Jesus will return and triumph over the nations who will come against Jerusalem and save the nation of Israel at the time of her greatest peril:
"In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem" (Zech.12:8,9).
Believers will be "delivered" at the time of the great tribulation:
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book" (Dan.12:1).
This explains how the days of the "great tribulation" will be shortened: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Mt.24:21,22).
Fulfillment of the Seventieth Week
After the children of Israel are saved then we read of the blessings which will descend upon David's people (the children of Israel) and upon his city (Jerusalem):
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy" (Dan. 9:24).
1.) "to finish the transgression " Let us consider the following translation:
"A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to put down rebellion " (Dan. 9:24; NLT).
That will begin during the "great tribulation" when the "rebels" and them who "transgress against" the Lord will be purged:
"And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD" (Ez. 20:37,38).
This is also called the "time of Jacob's trouble" : "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more enslave them" (Jer. 30:7,8).
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God" (Zech.13:8,9).
2.) "and to make an end of sins " The word "sin" basically means "lawlessness":
"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness" (1Jn.3:4; NASB).
The "end of sins" in regard to Israel will happen when the nation receives the "spirit of grace":
"In that day I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications" (Zech.12:9,10).
"For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my ordinances, and do them" (Ez.36:24,27).
3.) "To make reconciliation for iniquity " The Hebrew word translated "reconciliation" is kaphar, and in other places in the OT it is translated "atonement":
"For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD" (Lev.16:30).
We can see this will happen "in that day", the time when the Lord Jesus will return to save Israel from her enemies:
"In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech.13:1).
4.) "and to bring in everlasting righteousness ." This is in regard to the fact that the Lord Jesus will be in the midst of Israel "for evermore":
"And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore" (Ez.37:25,26).
Only in this way will the nation of Israel enjoy "everlasting righteousness": "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth" (Ps.119:142).
5.) "to seal up the vision and prophecy " The word translated "seal up" carries the idea of "completion". Harry Bultema writes: "A scroll was not complete until it was completely filled. Thus this sealing of a scroll became a symbol of fulfillment (Isa.8:16)" (Bultema,Commentary on Daniel [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1988], 283).
At the end of the 70th week the vision and prophecy of Daniel concerning the Seventy weeks will be complete.
6.) "and to anoint the most Holy." In the section entitled "The Rebuilt Temple" I quoted Leon Wood saying that "The phrase 'holy of holies' (qodesh qadash"m) occurs, either with or without the article, thirty-nine times in the Old Testament, always in reference to the Tabernacle or Temple or to the holy articles used in them." and that "since the phrase is used without the article, reference must be to a complex of that Temple, rather than its most holy place" (Wood, A Commentary on Daniel [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973], 250).
The Temple complex that will be annointed at the end of the 70 weeks must refer to the "Temple of God" which will be defiled in the middle of the 70th week:
" and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2Thess.2:3,4).