“And he will make .” The “he” is the “ruler that will come” (Dan. 9:26) who is the little horn of Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, and 7:21, who will wage war against God’s people and prevail against them for 3½ years (Dan. 7:21, 25). We generally refer to this ruler as the Antichrist, and he will make a covenant of peace with Israel, but the fact that the text says “with many” shows that not all Israel will agree to the covenant. However, enough of the leadership will agree to it that the covenant will be made.
It is important to realize that Daniel 9:27 does not follow chronologically after Daniel 9:26, but is giving details that will occur during the time of the Antichrist. When Daniel 9:26 says, “the people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary,” that is a summary giving the end result of what will happen after Israel makes a covenant with the Antichrist, and some of the details of that covenant are given in Daniel 9:27. So Daniel 9:26-27 need to be read together and fit together to get the full picture of the situation.
“a firm covenant.” The making of the covenant starts the seven years of the Great Tribulation. This covenant is future, and from the scope of Scripture, we can see that it is the seven years of the Tribulation most clearly described in the book of Revelation. This is not a covenant made sometime in the past. There has never been a covenant between any great world ruler and Israel that was for, or only lasted for, just seven years. It is a future covenant and is between “many” in Israel and the Antichrist.
It is sometimes taught that the seven-year Great Tribulation starts with the Rapture of the Christian Church, but that is not true—there is no verse that says that. There is very good evidence for a pre-tribulation Rapture, but the Rapture is not the event that starts the countdown of the seven years of tribulation, the treaty between Israel and the Antichrist is. There is apparently a short time period between the Rapture and the covenant between the Antichrist and the leaders of Israel, but the length of that time period is never stated in Scripture.
“with the many.” It is important to notice that Daniel says “with the many” and not “with Israel.” This covenant will be after the Rapture of the Christian Church (see commentary on 2 Thess. 2:2), and will be made with many of the Jews in the Tribulation period, in keeping with Daniel 9:24, in which the angel says to Daniel that 70 weeks are determined for “your people” (the Jews) and “your holy city” (Jerusalem). Those many Jews will include the leaders in Israel, because for a covenant to be made and be effective for the Jews in general, that “many” would have to include the leaders of Israel even though all the Jews did not agree to it. The use of “the many” shows that there will be Jews who will not agree with making such a covenant, and it seems certain that most of those will be Jews who come to believe in Christ during the Tribulation period.
“for one week.” The prophetic “weeks” in Daniel are weeks of years, that is, seven years. This describes the duration of the Great Tribulation; seven years. The natural and supernatural disasters spoken of in the book of Revelation begin to unfold when or soon after the covenant is made between Israel and the Antichrist.
But in the middle of the “week,” in the middle of the seven years, thus after 3½ years, the Antichrist will begin to fully exercise his satanic power and oppress God’s people. For example, here in Daniel 9:27 we see he will cause sacrifices and offerings to God to cease being made. The last half of the Great Tribulation, the 3½ years when the Antichrist is fully exercising his power, will be very difficult for anyone who believes because believers will be relentlessly persecuted, and that time period is described in four different ways: half of the “week” of years, 42 months, 1260 days, and “a time, times, and half a time.” The description, “a time, times, and half a time” would not be clear if it were not for the other time periods that describe it, but because of those other descriptions, we can see the phrase means, “a time [a year], times [two years] and half a time [1/2 year] for a total of 3½ years.
The description “42 months” occurs in Revelation 13:4-5 and describes the time when the dragon, Satan, gives power to the “beast,” the Antichrist, for 42 months, which is 3½ years. That same time period is described in Daniel 7:25, which says believers will be handed over to the antichrist for “a time, times and half a time.”
But Israel will not be totally destroyed by Satan and his Antichrist. Revelation 12:6 says that during that time of persecution God protects Israel, which is portrayed as a woman, and the time of protection is given as 1260 days, and Revelation 12:14 shows that Israel is protected for “a time, times, and half a time,” and both those time periods are 3½ years.
“And on a wing of the Temple he will set up an abomination.” The Antichrist will set up a great abomination on a wing of the Temple in Jerusalem. For this understanding of the text, see the NIV84 (cp. HCSB; Douay-Rheims; NJB). The wording of the text in Daniel is obscure and debated, but thankfully it is somewhat clarified by Jesus Christ, because he spoke of the abomination that Daniel spoke about, pointed out that it was something that people could see, and that it would be in the Temple, the Holy Place (Matt. 24:15). This is an important verse for Christians today because it confirms that before the Second Coming of Christ and the Battle of Armageddon that the Jews will build a Temple in Jerusalem.
Interestingly, Matthew 24:15 also adds the phrase, “let the one reading understand.” It is possible that phrase about the wording in Daniel was added because the text was already being corrupted and the Hebrew text and the Septuagint that was available during Christ’s time already differed.
The word “abomination” is plural in the Hebrew text, but that is likely the plural of emphasis because it was going to be a great abomination, much like “blood” is pluralized to “bloods” in Genesis 4:10 because Cain’s murder of Abel was so heinous. Jesus certainly thought the “abomination” was singular when he spoke about it.
“that causes desolation.” The verb “desolation” is shamem (#08074 שָׁמֵם) and it occurs twice in Daniel 9:27 and is the same verb as in the last phrase of Daniel 9:26 (“Desolations are determined”). The specific “desolation” that is caused by whatever it is that the Antichrist sets in the Temple is not specified. However, because the Antichrist will rule over the world’s financial, military and religious systems, it would relate in some way to the “desolation” of God’s people who are tortured and killed under the reign of the Antichrist (cp. Dan. 7:21, 25; Rev. 13:7, 10; 14:12-13).
The Bible indicates that the majority of believers, but not all of them, will die or be killed during the Great Tribulation, and especially during the last half of it. That some believers will live through the Tribulation and Armageddon explains why, when Jesus conquers the earth and sets up his kingdom, there will still be believers, “sheep,” left on earth to enter his kingdom (Matt. 25:31-34). Also, Jesus himself said that some believers would survive the Great Tribulation (Matt. 16:28).
[For more on Jesus’ coming kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth. For more on the Sheep and Goat Judgment, see commentary on Matt. 25:32.]