“And after the sixty-two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.”Daniel 9:26
The prophecy of 70 weeks revealed to Daniel is one of the most amazingly accurate and critically important passages in all of Scripture. There is a reason the Lord Jesus specifically referred to Daniel’s prophecy when teaching about the last days and the great tribulation [Matthew 24:15]. Jesus wants us to read and understand Daniel’s prophecy as the foundational text for the end times.
As I’ve demonstrated in my last several posts, Daniel’s 70 weeks = or 490 years = provides a precise timeline not only for when the Messiah would first be revealed and then “cut off,” but also for the determined end of this present age that will transpire over the final week — or 7 years.
With that being said, this prophecy also warns us about another “prince” to come, who is God’s central adversary during this final 7-year period. As noted, there is tremendous debate within the believing community and the arena of scholarly critics about the identity of this “prince.” I will share my interpretation in a moment, but before then, let us simply state how Daniel identifies this prince.
- The prince to come will either make, confirm, or strengthen a covenant with “many” for one week — 7 years
- The prince to come will lead an invasion and trample the city Jerusalem
- The prince to come will cause the offerings and sacrifices in the Temple to cease at the MID POINT of the week (3 1/2 year mark)
- The prince to come will destroy/desecrate the sanctuary — the holy Temple
- The prince to come shall set up the abomination that causes desolation in the Temple
- The prince (desolator) to come will himself be judged and will become desolate in the end
What about 70 A.D.?
One of the biggest areas of controversy surrounding the 70 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy is concerning the Roman invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The preterists — those who believe most if not all of Old Testament prophecy already has been fulfilled in history past — would point to the destruction of Jerusalem as the culmination and fulfillment of the 70 weeks.
This unfortunate interpretation rips the redemptive element of the Day of the LORD away from the Scriptures and ignores God’s promises to restore the fortunes of Jacob and reestablish the Kingdom of Israel in the end. Preterism reinforces the dangerous teaching of replacement theology, which suggests that the LORD divorced and fully rejected Israel in 70 A.D. and replaced her with the “church.” I have many other reasons for rejecting the preterist perspective but will save that for another day.
Furthermore, many dispensational prophecy teachers consider the “people of the prince who is to come” to be the Romans, since it was a Roman legion under Titus that laid siege to Jerusalem and burned the city to the ground. The Roman connection in 70 A.D. is the reason why many believe the final Antichrist — the prince to come — will emerge from Rome or a revived Roman Empire.
I also reject this interpretation for many reasons, which you can read in this earlier post.
Like most prophetic passages, Daniel 9:26 most certainly could have the Roman invasion of 70 A.D. in view as a partial fulfillment and prophetic prefigurement of the final invasion of Israel at the hand of the Antichrist. In other words, 70 A.D. merely was shadow of what is to come.
If you need more than my words, however, let’s hear what Jesus has to say about this future invasion of the “prince to come.” Jesus clearly places the final invasion of Jerusalem as one of most obvious signs that will precede His return in power in glory!
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”Luke 21:20-28
Jesus makes the direct connection here to Daniel’s prophecy. Wars and desolations are decreed to the end, until the determined end is poured out on the Antichrist [see Daniel 9:26-27]. Jesus is describing the final, future desolation of Jerusalem — the days of vengeance to fulfill ALL THAT IS WRITTEN!
Antichrist was not revealed in 70 A.D., nor did the Lord Jesus return in power and glory from heaven. The events of 70 A.D., therefore, cannot be the ultimate fulfillment of Daniel 9 or Luke 21.
Who were the People of the Prince To COME?
Finally, I would like to revisit fascinating historical testimony of what happened in 70 A.D. that actually identifies the “people” of the prince who is to come.
It is easy to assume that because Rome was the conquering empire in power during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, it must have been an army of Italians, or Europeans, who leveled the city and burned the temple to the ground. But history reveals a different story altogether. Rome conquered many different provinces and people groups during its expansion and was forced to recruit these “provincials” to man their armies.
By the time of A.D. 70, Italian soldiers were reserved for the elite Pretorian Guard, but the rest of Rome’s armies consisted of people from various other ethnic groups on the fringes of the empire. The “provincialization” of the army was true for all of the Roman legions of this time period, and this specifically was the case with regard to the Eastern legions that were used to attack Jerusalem.
Author Joel Richardson points out that the Roman legions had been stationed in Judea, Syria and Egypt and that there was also “a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews” who accompanied the soldiers. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus confirms this.
“Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen and footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand”(Flavius Josephus, The Complete Works of Josephus, The Wars of the Jews or The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, Book III, Chapter 4, Paragraph 20).
History reveals that over 55,000 soldiers during the siege of Jerusalem were of Middle Eastern descent. As Richardson has said, “that would mean that there was a maximum of one Western European soldier to every eleven Middle Eastern soldiers. Eleven to one! Yet in all likelihood, the ratio was much higher; perhaps closer to twenty to one.”
Furthermore, according to Josephus, it was not the Roman General Titus who ordered the destruction of the Temple, but rather the Middle Eastern provincials under his command who determined to exact their hatred on the Jews. As a matter of fact, these provincial soldiers directly disobeyed the orders of Rome in burning down the temple.
“Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet he saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire…yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also…And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation”(Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 4).
Based on the historical record, we must determine that the “people of the prince to come” spoken of by the prophet Daniel were not Italians from Europe, but rather they were Syrians, Egyptians, and Arabians — provincial soldiers under Roman command — who hated the Jews and delighted in destroying their most holy city. Once we have an accurate view of history, Daniel 9:26 makes complete sense and fits perfectly into the greater Biblical narrative.
The ethnic people groups who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 are the same people groups who are surrounding Israel today in Muslim majority nations. It only stands to reason that the Antichrist will establish his 10 king coalition from these Muslim nations and revive the ancient Islamic Caliphate of the Ottoman Empire. The stage is set and the pieces are in place for the right leader to unite these nations under the same evil spirit of antichrist that already is at work in the world.