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“The interpretation of the revelation given to Daniel concerning the seventy weeks constitutes one of the determining factors in the whole system of prophecy. The attention given to it by all schools of interpretation, and the attacks upon the authenticity of the book itself combine to focus the white light of investigation upon it. The interpretation of this passage inevitably colors all other prophetic views, and a proper understanding of it is the sine qua non of any student of prophecy.” - Wolvoord
One might well argue that Daniel 9:24-27 is both the most complex and the most crucial text in either testament bearing on the subject of biblical prophecy. Its complexity is questioned only by those who have not studied it, or perhaps by those whose conclusions concerning its meaning were predetermined by unspoken theological commitments. That Daniel 9 is as crucial as I have suggested can hardly be denied. - Sam Storms
“I shall not occupy your time by attempting to fix the beginning and the end of the period intended by the seventy weeks, and the seven weeks and three-score and two weeks. That is a deep study, requiring much research and learning, and I conceive that the discussion of such a subject would be of no great practical use to us this Sabbath morning. You will be better nourished upon the Lord himself than upon times and seasons.” - Spurgeon
And THAT is why I’m willing to purchase and proudly wear T-shirts with a very large Spurgeon’s face on it!
Now, in all seriousness. I agree quite a bit with Spurgeon here. I confess that it was easy for me to get lost in the weeds of numbers and disagreements and chronologies when studying this. But keep this in mind, as we’ve been doing through our entire study of Daniel.
What was Daniel’s original intention? What was Gabriel’s intention when going to Daniel to deliver this prophesy as an answer to his prayer? More importantly, why did the Spirit of God inspire the text?
Was it really God’s desire that we could only know the meaning of this text by knowing the correct math? Not likely.
These words would have been a comfort to Daniel and his people, a people to whom Christ had not yet come. And they didn’t have any of the numbers or dates that we have today, and yet, these words came swiftly from the throne of God as an answer to Daniel’s prayer for his people.
2 Timothy 3:15 how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Saints, this is true of the text we are in today.
So let’s first just draw some insight and application from v20 to 23, then we will tackle the purpose of the 70 weeks.
Daniel’s prayer was heard and answered while the words were still in his mouth.
Psalm 139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
Matthew 6:8 your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
In this case God delivered his answer through Gabriel, the same Angel who would deliver the news about John the Baptist to Zechariah, and the news about Jesus to Mary 600 years from then.
Gabriel had some incredible tasks to fill!
The point here is that Gabriel was dispatched, when a word went out at the beginning of his pleas for mercy, and now he is there to give Daniel insight and understanding as to what will happen with Israel, and how God will fulfill His promise to them.
Look at v23, the second half… “I have come to tell you, for you are greatly loved.”
God’s Word to Daniel came out of His love for Daniel.
This is why God chooses to communicate with any of us. This is why God asks us to pray, and why he answers prayer. This is why God is mindful of us, or would even consider us in our lowly state…and it’s because He loves us.
Daniel has been in exile, he’s missed his people and family, there is no temple, there have been no sacrifices, he has served under wicked kings, and endured the hardship of waiting on the Lord to fulfill his word while he grows older and older. He’s been faithful to God.
Then he cries out to the Lord for mercy upon his people, and Gabriel swiftly flies to him to tell him what God is going to do, and what does he hear first? “Daniel, you are greatly loved!” Therefore consider the word and understand the vision, Daniel.
How often we try to consider all the details of our lives, and ask God for answers, and seek to figure out problems, and we fail to simply remember that He loves us.
Do you think for one second that Daniel was trying to push this aside so that he could get to the “good stuff”?
“Come on, Gabriel, give me the math! I want algorithms, I want equations and charts so I can figure this stuff out! “
No, no no.
An angel from Heaven just told him that he is greatly loved by God!
Let’s not diminish this from the context of what’s happening here.
This entire prophecy from Gabriel, delivered to Daniel, is a response to confessional and repentant prayer, and motivated by the love of the Father to rescue and redeem his people.
Church, you are greatly loved this morning. God sent his son for you. You who are weak and weary, God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness…and he loves you.
It is out of this that Gabriel’s words flow right into the next verse.
v24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
So here in v24 we have the purpose of the 70 weeks. That in that 70 sets of 7, that most have concluded means 70 sets of 70 years, that within that time these things would be accomplished.
Finish the transgression
Put an end to sin
Atone for iniquity
Bring in everlasting Righteousness
To seal of vision and prophecy
Anoint a most holy place
This is not the part of Daniel 9 that gets the most attention. It is the verses that follow - the division of the 7 weeks, the 62 weeks, and then the final week that the Angel describes. A total of 70 weeks.
v24 tells us that 70 weeks in total are predicted, and in that time those 6 things concerning the redemption of God’s people would be accomplished.
As for who’s decree to rebuild the temple marked the beginning of the 70 weeks, there is some? Cyrus, king of Persia fit’s the bill for me, but I’m certainly willing to be wrong on that.
Isaiah made this prophecy in...
Isaiah 44:28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ”
Then in Ezra 1:1-3 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.
For the sake of time, let me just rapid fire some things regarding my position on this whole thing.
I hold the view that the 70 weeks of years was accomplished in the coming of Jesus, his life, his cross, his resurrection, and then ultimately in the destruction and judgement of Jerusalem in 70 ad.
The first 69 weeks of the prophecy bring us to the point in history when Jesus arrives on the scene. That’s pretty much agreed on by all views.
The anointed one who would be cut off (v26 of Daniel 9), is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and the “cutting off” was His death for sinners.
The people of the prince to come are the gentile Roman people, who persecuted and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple - desecrating the temple with with it’s pagan images, killing over a million Jews with bodies piled even around the altar itself, and their commander entering and defiling the holy place.
Incredibly enough, these very gentiles would capture the heart of the apostle Paul and the early church as they preached a covenant of grace for all who would believe.
Another convincing reason to believe this all took place in the first century is Matthew 24.
Jesus told the disciples at that time,“When you see the abomination that brings desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel.”
Jesus said that His generation would see it…not our generation.
The strong covenant with many for a period one week, or 7 years, mentioned in v27, is popularly viewed as 7 a seven year peace treaty (covenant), and the tribulation period that comes after the rapture of the church, and before the second coming of Christ. Again, this necessitates a gap of a couple thousand years at least between the 69th and 70th week that Gabriel prophesied.
But is there a gap there when we read the text?
v25 and 26 tell us that for 69 weeks, or 483 years the Jews will have their temple and go through troubled times, but then after that time the anointed one will come, and ultimately be cut off - and soon after that, the city and sanctuary will be destroyed. Somewhere in the midst of this final week, sacrifices will end as well. That would be a 3-1/2 year period. Some scholars have viewed the Baptism of Jesus as the beginning of the final week, with the 3-1/2 years being the length of His ministry leading to his death, and the new covenant in His blood.
Again, there are many views - but I find a lot of consistency by looking at context, and I’m comfortable concluding that this prophesy was meant to tell Israel that within a 490 year period Jesus would come and bring an end to the greatest enemy, which is sin. His life would fulfill the requirement of God’s law, and his death would be the final sacrifice that would atone for those who put their trust in Him.
That’s my view, and I invite you to consider it as you read Scripture yourself. You may disagree, and that’s ok.
What we need to see is that the purpose of it all is clear to Daniel himself. These words came as a love letter to Daniel from God, and the comfort comes when we see what was meant to be accomplished.
Let’s briefly work through those 6 things that would be completed?
Finish the transgression
Put an end to sin
Atone for iniquity
Bring in everlasting Righteousness
To seal up vision and prophecy
Anoint a most holy (place)
Put this in front of a child who knows the slightest bit about the story of the Bible, and they’ll tell you who this is about.
Who accomplished these things, New City?
And, herein we find the glorious gospel in the book of Daniel once again.
Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
What was being fulfilled? All of the law and the prophets…and finally Christ would be crucified ; cut off - and by his death he would atone for sins and do away with the sacrificing of bulls and goats forever. And this is how he would seal up, or complete, both vision and prophecy.
Did he bring an end to sin?
John 1:29 “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
And for those who trust in him, he does that very thing.
How can a transgressor of the law of God be forgiven of sin and made right before God? His or her sins must be atoned for by a perfect sacrifice.
Hebrews 10:12-14 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
He did bring in everlasting righteousness.
When you and I look at the cross of Jesus, we are not called to DO something, but simply to be SATISFIED IN the righteous payment that he made. We are reminded, that because of His love, he comes TO the unrighteous, even to his enemies, and bids us come and receive him as Lord.
The temptation of the entire world is to try to be good enough, to only be satisfied when we’ve done enough, but we cannot do it. We only need to be satisfied in Jesus Christ and His love.
Years later we read these words of the prophet Simeon to the parents of Jesus at his dedication, finally satisfied to see the long awaited messiah. Luke 2:29-32 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
The right response to this deep topic is not to be precise with the numbers, but to consider and understand what Jesus has done. The right response is to rejoice in the Savior who greatly loved us and gave himself for us. To pray, because he hears us, and He knows the words before they even form on our tongues. And if God did what he said he would do in Jesus, can we not trust him for our lives, and the futures we so often fret over?
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