Alva J. McClain Picture

Alva J. McClain

1888-1968

Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

Founder and First President
Grace Theological Seminary

Why Read This Book

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Old Testament prophecy in general does not get so specific as to predict names and dates. However, it does contain two or three absolutely remarkable predictions. One of them is the prediction by Isaiah, ca. 700 B.C., that "Cyrus" will issue the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (Isa. 44:24-28). This prophecy was over 100 years before Cyrus was even born. But with little doubt, Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks in 9:24-27 is the most spectacular of all. The prophecy predicts that the number of years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah will be 490 years. This perhaps partially explains why at the time of the birth of Jesus many devout Jews like Simeon were "waiting for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25).

In 1940 Dr. Alva J. McClain, a dispensational scholar of the highest order, published a short book on Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks. It has become a classic. It presents (1) the evidence for and against the three possible "decrees" to which 9:24 might refer, (2) the evidence for a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks, and finally (3) the calculations showing that the 69th week ends at some point during the life of Christ.

The next column summarizes the important features of Daniel's prophecy, with which almost all premillenarians would agree. It also cites some of the less important points on which I might disagree with Dr. McClain. However, despite these few points, his work remains a classic, and we are pleased to reproduce it here.

This is a reprint of a classic booklet by Dr. McClain. The division of the booklet into an Introduction and three parts is followed here. Three footnotes in Part I point to an appendix at the end of the booklet, and one footnote in Part III also points to that appendix. All this material is still present. We simply split the appendix and put its relevant sections at the end of Part I and the rest at the end of Part III. Therefore, the footnotes in Part I that refer to the "appendix" refer to the appendix at the end of Part I. Similarly for Part III.

No modifications of any kind have been made to the text. Our reprint is exactly what Dr. McClain wrote. We did add one footnote, but that footnote is clearly marked as an editorial comment by me.

Concerning the positions taken by Dr. McClain in this book, we generally agree with his overall view.

  • The 70 "weeks" are weeks of years and equal 490 years.
  • The 69 "weeks" cover the period of time from the "decree" to the first advent of "Messiah the Prince."
  • There is a gap between the 69th and 70th week that roughly equals the interadvent period.
  • The 70th week is the seven-year tribulation period during which the Antichrist is active.
  • At the end of the 70th week, the Messiah returns, destroys the Antichrist, and sets up the Messianic (millennial) kingdom.

The above summary of Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks represents the essence of the prophecy. Both Dr. McClain and I would agree on these points. On the following less important points, I take the view of Dr. Gleason Archer, Daniel, in Expositor's Bible Commentary (1985).

  • Dr. Archer takes the years to be solar years of 365 days; Dr. McClain takes them to be lunar years of 360 days.
  • Dr. Archer takes the decree to be that of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C.; Dr. McClain takes it to be that of Artaxerxes in 445 B.C.
  • Dr. Archer believes calculations can be made to the nearest year; Dr. McClain follows Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince (1894), and makes calculations to the nearest day.

On Dr. Archer's view, the first 69 weeks, 483 years, takes us precisely to A.D. 27, the beginning of Christ's ministry, assuming the more likely date of A.D. 30 for his crucifixion rather than Dr. McClain's date of A.D. 32.

Dr. McClain also takes this opportunity to argue for a pretribulational rapture. I argue for a posttribulational rapture. However, the rapture debate has little influence on the interpretation of Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks.

Introduction

Introduction

Part I

The First Sixty-nine Weeks and The Coming of the Messianic Prince

Part II

The Parenthesis of Time Between the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Weeks

Part III

The Seventieth Week and The Coming of the Roman Prince

Chart

This is the two-page chart of Daniel's Seventy Weeks scanned from the book.

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