Where in Scripture is it revealed that we should expect an indefinite time gap between weeks 69 and 70?
This cannot be obtained from a straightforward reading of the text.
The gap is what can be called a necessary inference. As with many great truths of scripture, it is not based on one single, obvious text but the cumulative evidence of many verses, scattered here and there, forming a mystery that must be searched out.
What is clear and, as you say, “straightforward”, is that scripture puts the last half of Daniel’s 70th week as arriving at “the consummation / the end”. This end of the age, reaching to the end of the final tribulation, the destruction of the “beast” (Dan 7:11) / “little horn” (Dan 7:8: 8:9) / “vile person” (Dan 11:21) / “wilful king” (Dan 11:36), the deliverance of Daniel’s people, and the resurrection of the righteous dead (Dan 12:1-2) is the same “end” so prominently in view throughout the book of Daniel. There is great, I would say decisive evidence that the final 3 ½ years of this age is the last half of Daniel’s 70th week.
This final 3 1/2 years (the half week) of unequaled tribulation clearly begins with the taking away of the daily sacrifice. This removal of the sacrifice is coupled with the placing of the abomination of desolation by the Man of Lawlessness in the temple of God in Judea (This is seen by a careful comparison of Dan 9:27; 11:31, 36-37; 12:11; with Mt 24:15-16, 21; 2Thes 2:3-4).
This question becomes of supreme importance when we see that in Mt 24:15 Jesus instructs His disciples to read about this particular event in Daniel’s prophecy and to be careful to “understand” it. This is important because this is the specific sign that starts the great tribulation that ends in His return.
The decisive question then becomes: which of the two princes distinguished in Dan 9:25-26 stops the sacrifice in the middle of the week in Dan 9:27? If it is said to be Jesus stopping the sacrifice by the shedding of His blood, this argues for a spiritual cessation, since the sacrifice was not literally stopped but continued for some 37 more years until Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus. Also, Jesus did not confirm any covenant for only 7 years. And what kind of “end” was reached 3 1/2 years after the sacrifice was stopped?
Notice that in every other place in Daniel where the sacrifice is mentioned, it is always the wicked, self-exalting “little horn” / “vile person” / wilful king that takes it away (Dan 8:11; 11:31; 12:11). So, if Dan 9:27 is NOT the AC who starts the final 3.5 years of great tribulation (cf., Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21), then Dan 9:27 becomes a curious exception.
This would be to suppose that the sacrifice that is stopped 3.5 years before the end in Dan 9:27 is NOT the same sacrifice that is taken away 3.5 years before an entirely different “end” in Dan 12:1-2, 7, 11-13. In such a case, it becomes an entirely different and separate event in both time and circumstance, accomplished by different persons, and bringing about a different “end” that is not the same as the “end” mentioned in every other reference throughout the book.
If, on the other hand, the last half of the week begins WHEN the self exalting “prince that shall come” of Dan 9:26 stops the sacrifice and places the abomination (the event that brings on the final desolation of Jerusalem), then it follows that just as the 7 weeks, followed by the subsequent 62 weeks bring us to the cross (Messiah “cut off”; Dan 9:26 with Isa 53:8); in the same way, the 70th week is reserved to bring in the final seven years to fulfill the mystery of lawlessness in the revelation of the man of lawlessness, the event that Paul puts as necessarily preceding Christ’s return to gather together His elect (compare Mt 24:31 with 2Thes 2:1-4, 7-8).
So if the one who stops the sacrifice is indeed the prince that shall come of Dan 9:26 (the one who brings on the final desolation of Jerusalem), then this is indeed the second half of the week that ends with the destruction of the “desolator” at Christ’s return (Dan 7:11; 9:27; 2Thes 2:8). And since the one who stops the sacrifice is the same who confirms the covenant, it follows that as surely as the career of the AC does not immediately follow the 69th week, so surely the 70th week must be future.
Lastly, some of the goals that are reached by the 70 weeks concern Jerusalem and Daniel’s people in particular. Some of these were certainly NOT fulfilled seven years after the cross. The full balance of the six goals will, however, be gloriously fulfilled for the languishing Jews (“natural branches”) when the Deliverer comes (roars) out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Joel 3:16; Isa 59:20-21; Ro 11:26).
If this all sounds strange on first hearing, be patient, and pray for light and the Spirit to be your teacher, remembering too that the book of Daniel contains mysteries that were intended to remain closed up and “sealed” till the “time of the end”. These sealed mysteries are not automatic to Bible reading. They are precious, divinely guarded secrets designed to be revealed to babes while at the same time eluding human self reliance. They are grace given.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing:
but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.
There is so much more connected to this question. I wrote a little piece called, “The Glory of the Gap” where I give many examples throughout scripture where prophecies blend and combine events that prove in hindsight to be fulfilled at great distances apart. You’ll also recall that many messianic prophecies combined events that would be fulfilled at both His first and second comings.
Until the surprise discovery that the Messiah would come twice (Acts 3:18-21; 26:22-23), the gap would remain a mystery, even to the prophets, until the part that was fulfilled at Christ first coming opened to view the part that awaited His return. All would come to full, glorious light when the Spirit “sent down from heaven” would reveal the glory of the “the mystery of the gospel,” as fully foretold in the prophetic writings, but kept till the appointed time of revelation (Ro 16:25-26; 1Cor 2:7-8; Eph 6:19 with 1Pet 1:1-12).
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie