Theoretically the end of the world could still be another 1,000 years or more away. Despite claims to the contrary, there appears to be nothing in scripture that says when it will happen. However, because some things leading up to the end are already starting to take shape, it is quite likely that the end is very near. And just because we cannot at this point say when the end will come, does not mean that we won't know until the last minute. In fact, there is a very precise countdown over the last seven years before Jesus returns; and there are certain things to look for as an indication that the countdown has begun.

These last seven years are referred to in Daniel's prophecies, but they are referred to more extensively in the prophecies of The Revelation. We will concentrate more on the details of what actually happens at that time in later chapters. But for now we will just discuss the significance of this missing "week".

Recall that the angel Gabriel spoke to Daniel concerning "seventy weeks" or 490 years. (Daniel 9:24) He said, "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your 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." But so far we have only considered sixty-nine of these seventy weeks, i.e. from 454 B.C. to 30 A.D.

The angel Gabriel had promised that by the end of the seventieth week everything would be apples for Daniel's people. Evil would be wiped out and "everlasting righteousness" would take its place. So if 483 years ended in 30 A.D., when Jesus was crucified, then all the problems of the world should have been pretty well fixed up seven years later, in 37 A.D. Was that what happened?
 
Far from it. The followers of Jesus Christ were persecuted and killed following his death and resurrection, and it was Daniel's own people who were doing it!

Just as a threat from God might be reversed if people repented, it seems that a promise might be reversed if people turned away from him. However, with a prophecy of this magnitude, you would think that God could have exercised his ability to look ahead and see what was going to happen, and said something to avoid confusion.

Closer examination shows that God did exactly that. He not only knew that Daniel's people would reject Christ, but he also knew that it would set in motion events that would significantly change the world thereafter. And we will show that the Seventy Weeks prophecy took all that into account when it was first written.  Long before he was crucified, Jesus Christ taught people that God wanted to do a new thing… something very big… something that would not be restricted by the limited political ambitions of the Jewish people.

Jesus was famous for commending such non-Jews as a Roman soldier and a Canaanite woman, for having greater faith than he had seen evidenced in any of the Chosen People (Israel). (Luke 7:9; Matthew 15:28) He told a Samaritan woman that a time was coming when it wouldn't matter whether a person worshipped in the holy city of Jerusalem or not, as long as their heart was right. (John 4:21) And then there is the famous story of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus uses a member of the despised, heretical cult of the Samaritans as an example of the kind of person that God is looking for.

Jesus also made disparaging comments about the Temple in Jerusalem, which seemed to be saying that he was more important than the Temple. (John 2:19-21) And it was for this that he was crucified. (Matthew 26:61) No wonder that his own people rejected him! Was this the Messiah who was supposed to unite all of Israel and lead them in establishing the rule of God over all the earth? Hardly!

What Jesus was doing was challenging Israel to lay down their petty limited vision of God in political terms, and to see him in universal spiritual terms. It is still difficult to get people to see that today, because the organisation which has followed Christ has become every bit as political as the Jews were. The institutional church today is more concerned with power and wealth than with the lifestyle and values of the poor carpenter's son who wandered around Israel 2000 years ago.

Daniel's "people" were a nation, a race, a religion all rolled up into one. But the Messiah was coming to reveal to the world that the Creator of the Universe was not limited to one nation, one race, or even one religion. He was able to look at the heart of each individual, and to judge that individual alone on the basis of his or her sincere, humble, believing, loving spirit. This new spiritual "kingdom" that Jesus called the "Kingdom of God" would find itself generally acting in opposition to (or "cut off" from) the kingdom of Israel, and, indeed, the various kingdoms of Christianity as well.

When Jesus died on the cross, he said, "It is finished!" and the Bible tells us that God himself tore the huge, thick curtain that hung in the temple as the last barrier between the people and the place where they presumed that God lived… the "holy of holies". (Matthew 27:50-51) Israel had cut off its Messiah, and God had miraculously cut off Israel. They were finished. In doing that, God effectively put an end to all organised religion as the criteria for determining whether a person is a child of God or not.

Let us read the rest of the prophecy about Christ's death: "After sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself. And the people of the prince that will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end of it will be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." (Daniel 9:26)

In 70 A.D. Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the Temple. To this day, Jews have not been able to offer animal sacrifices, because it can only be done in the one Temple, and in the one place (now occupied by a sacred Muslim mosque). Daniel 9:26 could be describing what happened in 70 A.D. The people (Roman armies) of the prince that will come (a future evil leader) destroyed the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (Temple). This is the military interpretation of the passage. But that did not take place until forty years after Jesus was executed.

We said earlier that prophecies are often written so as to say more than one thing at the same time. In Daniel 9:24-26 Christ is called "the Prince". So Christ is the "prince that will come". It is his people (early Christians) who destroyed the power of the Temple and the Holy City. There was no flood of water, neither in 30 A.D. nor in 70 A.D., but there was a flood of people who joined the Christian   Church on the Day of Pentecost, "seven weeks" (ironically) after Christ was crucified. Thousands were swept into this new movement, which then proceeded to change the world.

So Daniel 9:26 may be saying that the people (followers) of the Prince (or Messiah), had, by their faith, put an end to the so-called Chosen People, their Temple, and their Holy City. Daniel's people had cut themselves off by cutting off their Messiah; and the last week (or seven years) was thus, taken away from them.
 
But Daniel's prophecy continues in Daniel 9:27. "He will confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week, he will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
 
Here is a reference to the missing "week". Because the chosen people were "cut off" at the same time that their Messiah was "cut off" (by their own choice), the last week was put on hold. It has been on hold ever since 30 A.D. when Jesus Christ was crucified. But the visible people of God still have seven years of reign left.

What makes Christianity different from Judaism is that it is not a political organisation. It is an invisible, spiritual organisation, whose membership only God knows. This concept of "God's people" is more correct than that of political Israel (which is now only two of the twelve original tribes of Israel anyway, the others having been lost.)

But we are talking about two princes here – a good one and a bad one. We are talking about something that will put an end to sin and establish "eternal righteousness". Could both of these princes be planning to confirm a covenant with someone for one "week", or seven years, just before Jesus returns?
 
For the Jews, who want only to have their Temple back, and to be able to sacrifice animals for their sins, the "covenant" has to do with them as a nation, a race, and a religion. Their religion will not be complete until they have their Temple. This is the "old covenant" or what Christians call the "Old Testament".
 
For Christians there is a different covenant, paid for with the sacrificial blood of their perfect Lamb. It is not a covenant for a military kingdom, but a covenant for a spiritual kingdom. For 2,000 years we sincere believers have been isolated from each other. No visible organisation can ever claim to have been the kingdom of God on earth. Always there has been a mixture of weeds and wheat, sheep and goats, good and bad.
 
But for these last seven years, the "good guys" (i.e. the ones that God has personally examined and determined to be genuine, sincere servants, willing to do anything that he says), will be visibly united in one body consisting of twelve tribes.

In Revelation 7, God "seals" (or "confirms") 144,000 of his "servants". He organises them into tribes of 12,000 each. St. Paul taught that those who claim to be Jews (or more correctly, "children of Israel") through their physical relationship with Abraham are now no more children of Israel than are the Arabs.
(Galatians 4:22-28) "We," says Paul, referring to people who have accepted Jesus as God's Messiah, "are the true children of promise."

When the religious Jews make an agreement with the evil "prince" to get their Temple back, the true children of God will be organised by their prince into tribes. And he will do it by supernaturally communicating to each of us through his Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God has made the bodies of all true believers his Temple now. And when all these believers become visibly united, they will be the ultimate fulfilment of Daniel's "people", living out their final seven years on earth.

But will there be some outward sign that the last seven years have begun? Since the last seven years will be marked by an agreement to rebuild the Temple (or in some other way to allow animal sacrifices to resume) in Jerusalem, this is what people should be watching for. When animal sacrifices resume in Jerusalem, you will know that there are less than seven years left until the end.

Later we will look more closely at exactly what happens during those final seven years.

*Please check out the following videos for more information related to this chapter: "When Will the World End?",  and Suvivors Chap. #9 - The Countdown Begins

Appendix, Chapter 7

Luke 7:9. [about a Roman soldier] When Jesus heard these things, he ... said to the people that followed him, "I say to you, that I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."

Matthew 15:28. [to a Canaanite woman] Jesus ...said to her, "Oh woman, great is your faith. Be it unto you even as you will." And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

John 4:21, 23. (to a Samaritan woman) Jesus said, "Woman, believe me, the hour comes when you will neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father… The hour comes and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeks such to worship him."

John 2:19-21. Jesus said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Then said the Jews, "Forty-six years was this Temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days?" But he spoke of the temple of his body.

Matthew 26:61. [Jewish leaders] said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days'."

John 19:30. "When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost."

Matthew 27:50-51. "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost; and behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

Acts 2:41. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptised, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

Acts 4:4. "Many of them which heard the word believed, and the number of the men was about five thousand."

Revelation 7:2-4. "I heard the number of them which were sealed: There were sealed a hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Galatians 4:22-26, 28. "It is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. He who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh, but he of the freewoman was by promise. These things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai, which genders to bondage, which… answers to Jerusalem which is now and which is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all… Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."