A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts: Part I: A History of the Times…And the Setup for Coming Attractions: | Part II: Events Prophesied…Prophecies Fulfilled.
… These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.
20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God;
21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy 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.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The Third Heaven
As Daniel prayed, the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared before him, offering comfort and understanding to Daniel’s troubled heart. Gabriel’s purpose was to bring an end to Daniel’s inner confusion by imparting to him a new revelation from God. The angel began his conversation by saying something you and I should want to hear more than any other phrase in our language: “For thou art greatly loved.” Daniel was concluding his prayer when he was surprised by joyous words from God.
To have a greater appreciation of this scenario, consider this: Gabriel had been in the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-3).
That’s billions of light years away-farther than our minds can grasp-and yet Gabriel now stands before Daniel, arriving in a flash-in nanoseconds.
The Significance of the Seventy Weeks
In this new revelation delivered by Gabriel, Daniel learned, sadly, that God would continue to punish Israel for at least seventy more sevens of years beyond the end of the Babylonian captivity-a number that gives us, as noted earlier, the only Old Testament prophecy that speaks of the precise hour of Messiah’s first coming. It’s fascinating that it was to be Gabriel who, several centuries later, would also deliver the good news of Messiah’s conception and birth to a young virgin by the name of Mary (Luke 1:26-3 8).
We now come to one the most important prophecies in all of Scripture-a prediction to be applied exclusively to Israel and to the holy city of Jerusalem.
First, let’s look at the meaning of the phrase, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people.“
The amount of actual time covered by this prophecy is 490 years-literally, seventy sevens. The question from scholars has always been, Are these 490 “units” of time years, days, months, or weeks? The math only works if these units are seen as “years.” So for this prophecy to be fulfilled, Messiah would have to arrive-for the first time- before the 490 “units” would end.
Remember that the 490 years began in 445 B.C.
Now this question:
What was the purpose of the 70 weeks of chastisement?
The Jews had a Sabbath day which they were to honor by law. They had the freedom to work for six days, and then rest on the Sabbath, just as God had patterned His work of creation. He created the world in six days (Genesis 1:31), and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2).
However, the Jews not only had sabbatical days on the seventh day of the week, but they also celebrated sabbatical years. According to Leviticus 25:1-7 they were to let their land lie fallow-unused, unplanted-every seventh year.
But in their greed they said in their hearts something to the effect, “This is not a very good deal for us. We’re going to lose money, so let’s not listen to God. We’ll go ahead and plow and plant and harvest on the seventh year, regardless of what God or the law tells us to do.“
God chastened the Jews by sending them into cruel bondage for the equivalent of seventy sabbatical years-a total of 490 years- according to the 360-day Jewish calendar.
Jeremiah predicted this judgment of seventy years falling on the Jews in Jeremiah 25:9-11 when he wrote:
Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
The die was now cast.
Israel would be punished during those seventy weeks (490 years)-a punishment that would be administered because of the following reasons (Daniel 9:24):
» “To finish the transgression.” As we’ve already noted, the Jews did not allow the land to rest for seventy sabbaticals-a 490 year period. Now when Messiah comes, He restores them to their land permanently. They were removed from the land as the transgression required, but now He returns to settle the debt, and provides for His people permanent restoration. Zechariah 13:1 says, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.“
» “To make an end of sins.” The corporate sins of the nation of Israel will come to an end at the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Jews, as all other people, have sinned, and their transgressions would be paid for by the blood of Jesus shed at Calvary. Because this provision has been made, Messiah comes to announce that the sin that brought all the judgment upon them has been removed (Hebrews 10:17).
» “To make reconciliation for iniquity.” During this seventy-week period, God has made redemption available through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
» “And to bring in everlasting righteousness.” This speaks of the return of Christ at the end of the 490 years. At this time He establishes His kingdom, returning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Finally, the world becomes a wonderful place, described in joyful terms in Isaiah 35:8: “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” This is what Revelation 21:27 speaks of when it refers to this holy city that hovers above the earth. It is a place of righteousness. Nothing can enter that defiles or makes the celestial city unholy. The message here is this: We cannot-and will not- have a perfect world until Jesus comes and binds Satan for a thousand years.
» “To seal up the vision and prophecy.” Daniel was instructed to seal the vision until the time of the end. Now-as you read these words-we are approaching that time, and for that reason we’re able to explain it, unseal it, and see its depth with Spirit-led understanding. I trust you are catching a glimpse of just how close we are to that great day. Until now- for centuries, actually-we have struggled to see through a darkened glass, but now the truth of Daniel’s vision is becoming clearer by the day. We are not at the final time yet, but we are getting very close. Then, once Messiah returns, prophecy will be forever finished because there will be nothing left to predict. The Son of Man-the radiant Lord Jesus Christ-will be in our midst, and all prophecy will be sealed permanently.
» “To anoint the most Holy.” This is a reference to Ezekiel chapters 4 1-46, where the prophet talks about the anointing of the Holy of Holies in the “millennial” temple. When the Lord Jesus returns, Yahweh the Father says, “I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). Just as God’s priests in the Old Testament and His servants in the New Testament were anointed for holy service, so Jesus Christ the Prince-the King of Kings- will be anointed for the centuries to come.
At this point I’m going to quote a verse that is the greatest prophecy ever recorded, proving that God alone could have written this book.
Because we now come to the exact day that is prophesied in these texts. Verse 25 reads, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.“
Let’s review the significance of this verse in the context of Nehemiah 2:1-8 where we learn that some of the Jews who had visited their homeland were disturbed because their nation was in such disarray. That’s why they requested that the city of Jerusalem-including the wall-be rebuilt. With that background, let’s consider Nehemiah 2:1 to investigate the chronology of dates mentioned. “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. . . .“
The Encyclopedia Britannica says this king came to power in 465 B.C. But now it’s Artaxerxes’ twentieth year of rule, which takes us down to 445 B.C.
Here’s the arithmetic: 465 minus 20 = 445 B.C. This is the month Nisan, but no date is given. That is not, however, an issue because Jewish custom tells us that whenever there is no date we are to assume it is always the first day. This means it is the first day of Nisan, 445 B.C. Translated into our modern calendar, that’s March 14, 445 B.C. That is the beginning point of the rebuilding of the wall and city of Jerusalem-a task that had to be completed in “seven weeks” or, literally, forty-nine years. And it happened right on schedule.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE