On what basis do some commentators say the 70th week of Daniel 9:27 is still in the future? Why would the 70 week prophecy be broken down as 69 continuous weeks with the 70th week potentially some 2000 years detached from 69th week?
Good question. There are two reasons that many commentators delineate the first 69 “weeks” from the seventieth. First of all, because in the vision they are delineated, and second, because to do so fits history. Of course, the first reason is stronger than the second.
Here is what I mean. Although the messenger tells Daniel in Dan 9:24 that “seventy sevens” remain before the salvation of God’s people will be completed and their desolation would be ended (Daniel 9:2), he also says in Daniel 9:25 that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah comes to Jerusalem, there will be “seven sevens and sixty-two sevens.” Well, that is sixty-nine sevens! Apparently, if we are to take this prophecy in its precise sense, something happens DURING the seventieth week but before the prophecy is fully completed only at the end of the seventieth week.
The messenger tells Daniel that during the first sixty-nine weeks the temple will be rebuilt and there will be a time of great trouble. But after the sixth-ninth week (but presumably before the completion of the seventieth week), the Messiah will come to Jerusalem to “put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” Herod’s temple was begun in about 19 BC and was completed in about 63 AD, which fits the details of the prophecy.
Now, here are the historical facts which attend with this prophecy. The fact is that Artaxerxes gave a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem in his seventy year, as mentioned in Ezra 7:8-26. The seventh year of Artaxerxes was 458 BC, give or take a year. If so, then remembering that there was no year zero, the sixty-ninth week ended in 26 AD and the seventieth week ended in 33AD. Well, it just so happens that most scholars believe that Jesus was crucified in 30 AD, although some believe it may have been 29 AD. The fact is that the Messiah came to Jerusalem and fulfilled the prophecy with regard to putting an end to sin, etc. during the seventieth “week”—in fact right in the middle of the seventieth week, which fits the fact that the prophecy delineates the 69th from the 70th week.
This then naturally leads people to ask what happened at the end of the seventieth “week”? If we read Daniel 9:26-27 it tells us that after the Messiah is “cut off,” “The people of the ruler will come and destroy the city and sanctuary…. He will put an end to sacrifice and offering…. And he will set up the abomination of desolation on the wing of the temple.” I have proposed in my book, “Daniel, Prophet to the Nations” (www.ipibooks.com) that the end of the prophecy, and therefore the end of the seventieth “week” came when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans under Titus, at which point he destroyed the city and the temple and offered a pagan sacrifice on the temple site, in dramatic agreement with this prophecy, as was also foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-21, in which Jesus even tells us that the destruction of Jerusalem was prophesied by Daniel. Clearly, this is a reference to Daniel 9!
But here is the problem. The destruction of Jerusalem under the Romans happened in AD 70, not in AD 33, which would be the literal end of the 70th week. I propose that God stopped the clock for forty years before completing the destruction so as to give the Jews sufficient time to repent. This is a somewhat speculative explanation, but it fits the data and it does make a kind of sense, especially because the number 40 is symbolic throughout scripture of a time of waiting or preparing.
All this leads me to answering your question. Unfortunately, certain Bible commentators have tried to fit Daniel 9 into their premillennial interpretation. They have claimed, without cause in my opinion, that the waiting period between the coming of the Messiah and his death for our sins during the 70th week is still on-going and will be completed when Jesus comes back to reign again in Jerusalem. I discuss in my book on Daniel a number of reasons that this does not make sense, and I will not describe all of them here. Let it suffice to say that the events in Daniel 9 match the destruction of Jerusalem perfectly, and that Jesus himself tells us that the Abomination of Desolation of Daniel 9 is a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15-21). I choose to believe Jesus, not the purveyors of premillennialism which I believe is false teaching for many, many reasons.
So, in summary, the reason that interpreters tend to separate the first sixty-nine weeks from the seventieth is that Daniel 9 implies that there is a separation between them. How exactly to interpret this does raise some difficult questions, to be honest, but the interpretation that this involves some still-future coming of Jesus to Jerusalem to reign there is not supported anywhere in scripture, so I reject this speculation. I would say that it is not ridiculous to speculate that the seventieth week is still suspended, but it seems extremely unlikely to me because the events of Daniel 9:26-27 matches what happened in Jerusalem under the Roman general Titus perfectly.