by Jerry Shugart
The Gap in Daniel's 70 Weeks
Thomas Ice, the founder of the Pre-Trib Research Center, writes that "I think that sound biblical exegesis of Daniel 9:24-27 must lead to an understanding that the seventieth week is separated from the first sixty-nine weeks of years because of Israel's failure to accept Jesus as their promised Messiah. Therefore, God has postponed the final week of years until the start of the seven-year tribulation. In the mean time, the New Testament teaches us that the church age will intervene during the postponement of Israel's final week of years" [emphasis added] (Thomas Ice, Why a Gap in Daniels's 70 Weeks).
It is clearly seen that the events which make up the 70 weeks are in regard to the LORD's dealing with the nation of Israel. And during that time the nation is described this way:
"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deut.7:6).
But as Ice says, the Church age intervenes during the postponement of Israel's final week of years. And during the church age the only special people of the LORD are those in the body of Christ and in the Body these is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal.3:27-28).
Ryrie understands that in "time" the LORD can only be dealing with either the nation of Israel or the Body of Christ but not both:
"That God is continuing His work of redemption in calling out a people for His name in the church, the Body of Christ, we gladly affirm, but we also insist that this Body of Christ is distinct from any previous body of redeemed people in its nature, characteristics, time, and promises" [emphasis added] (Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 131).
Let us look at the end of the 69th week and the events of the 70th week in Dainiel's prophecy:
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Dan.9:26-27).
After the 69th week was accomplished the Lord Jesus was put to death and the events of the first 69 weeks were fulfilled. Before His death the disciples asked the Lord Jesus, "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Mt.24:3). In reply He spoke of Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks, and warned that the setting up of the abomination of despolations in the holy place would precede the great tribulation and the signs in the sky which would follow immediately upon that tribulation:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains...For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be....Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mt.24:15-16,21,29).
These events are describing the events of the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy and there is no evidence at all that these events happened in the first century or since. Therefore, dispenpensationalists have always maintained that these events remain in the future. So traditional dispensationalists understand that the prophetic era ceased to run shortly after the end of the 69th week when the promised Messiah was put to death at the Cross and that the 70th week will be fulfilled in the future. That "gap" in prophetic time clock is the same as the parenthesis or intercalation of which Ryrie spoke of when he wrote that "Classic dispensationalism used the words 'parenthesis' or 'intercalation' to describe the distinctiveness of the church in relation to God's program for Israel" [emphasis added] (Ryrie, Dispensationalism [Chicago: Moody Press, 1995], 134).
That is why Ryrie says that the events of the Church age are not found in the Old Testament:
"Dispensational premillennialism has insisted that the mystery is something unrevealed in the Old Testament (though now revealed) in order to demonstrate the distinctiveness of the church from Israel and to emphasize its unique place in God's program for this age...this whole age with its program was not revealed in the Old Testament, but constitutes a new program and a new line of revelation in this
present age" [emphasis added] (Ryrie, "The Mystery in Ephesians 3," Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan. 1966).
When the divine purpose is in regard to Israel it will be through the agency of the "nation" of Israel whereby the Gentiles will brought to salvation and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. When He walked the earth He said the following:
"Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews"" (Jn.4:22).
He also said the following about the Jews:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mt.5:14-16).
According to the OT it would be through the agency of the "nation" of Israel that Gentiles will obtain the knowledge of the LORD:
""Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor" (Isa.55:5; NIV).,/p>
However, during the Church age the Gentiles are being brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus through the agency of the members of the Body of Christ (2 Cor.5:18-21). Today Gentile salvation is being accomplished as a result of the fall of Israel:
"I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" (Ro.11:11-12).
These two ways which the Bible reveals about Gentile salvation are mutually exclusive. If the Gentiles are being saved as a result of the agency of the members of the Body of Christ then it is certain that they are not being saved as a result of the agency of the nation of Israel. With that in mind we can understand what Chafer wrote here in "bold" is correct:
""But for the Church intercalation -- which was wholly unforeseen and is wholly unrelated to any divine purpose which precedes it or which follows it. In fact, the new, hitherto unrevealed purpose of God in the outcalling of a heavenly people from Jews and Gentiles is so divergent with respect to the divine purpose toward Israel, which purpose preceded it and will yet follow it, that the term parenthetical, commonly employed to describe the new age-purpose, is inaccurate. A parenthetical portion sustains some direct or indirect relation to that which goes before or that which follows; but the present age-purpose is not thus related and therefore is more properly termed an intercalation" [emphasis added] (Chafer, Systematic Theology, 4:41; 5:348-349).
In a study written by Lloyd Thomas we read the following:
"E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913) is one source of the false idea that absence of the definite article ('the') from the term Holy Spirit in the New Testament in its original language means that it is not the person of the Holy Spirit Himself but merely a function or action of the Spirit that is referred to." (Thomas, The Greek Definite Article and the Holy Spirit of God)
Here Lloyd Thomas calls Bullinger's idea about the definite article "false." We will now examine the reasons for this belief.
A Scientific Approach
Here Lloyd Thomas says that we should use a "scientific approach" in our efforts to determine the truth in regard to the definite article as used in the first century:
"A scientific approach to this issue would not have focused on the definite article with special regard to the Holy Spirit, but the use of the definite article with regard to any noun in the common Greek of the first century. That language, as the common people of that time understood it, is the real issue!"
Dr. John F. Walvoord, the second President of Dallas Theological Seminary, discusses the presence or the absence of the definite article before the Greek noun translated "law":
"It is obvious that there must be some meaning to the use of the article or its absence, particularly when we observe careful distinction often in the same verse of Scripture. It is the writer's contention that the article when used has some significance, and when it is not used there must be some reason for its absence. He (Paul) therefore concludes in 3:20 that 'by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.' As the 'law' includes both Jews and Gentiles in this summary, it is clear that it has the general meaning of any moral law" [emphasis added] (Walvoord, "Law in the Epistle to the Romans," Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan., 1937, [Vol. 94, #373], 17,21).
As Walvoord says, at Romans 3:20 the word "law" applies to both Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, any translation which renders the passage as "the law" is in error because the Gentiles were never given "the law" (Ro.2:14). The correct translation is "law," and in this case "law" includes both those who are under "the law" as well as those who have the law written on their hearts, that law to which the conscience bears witness (Ro.2:15).
So we can see that a scientific approach confirms the fact that the use of the definite article or its absence can indeed determine the meaning of the Greek word translated "law." Therefore, the same principle can also be in force when it comes to the presence or absence of the definite article before the Greek words translated "holy spirit."
Loyd Thomas did not address the following mis-translation:
"And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Jn.20:22; NIV).
It is impossible that this translation is correct. That is because in the following passage the Lord Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would not be sent until He departed to be with the Father and He had not yet departed to be with the Father when He said those words:
"But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you" (Jn.16:5-7).
It is impossible that they had received "the Holy Spirit" because the Lord Jesus had not yet departed to be with the Father when He spoke the words at John 20:22. Therefore the correct translation of John 20:22 is as follows:
"And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive holy spirit'" (Jn.20:22).
The correct translation of Acts 1:4-5 is as follows:
"And, being foregathered, He charges them not to be departing from Jerusalem, but to be remaining about for the promise of the Father, 'which you hear of Me, seeing that John, indeed, baptizes in water, yet you shall be baptized in holy spirit after not many of these days'" (Acts 1:4-5; CLV).