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CHAPTER XII THE COURSE AND EVENTS OF DANIEL’S SEVENTY WEEKS

by R. H. Boll

RHBollFrom R. H. Boll’s Study of Daniel

There is justifiable prejudice against time calculations. Many seem to have overlooked or forgotten the Savior’s word, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36); and that He said to His disciples: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:7.)

This restriction, however, does not apply to all the prophecies. In some instances God Himself specified certain time-measures. For example, to Abraham He said, “. . . your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. . . . Then in the fourth generation they will return here.” (Genesis 15:13-16.) Clearly He meant for Abraham and his descendants to know this and count on it.

So likewise, Daniel “observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” (Daniel 9:2.) Then, in answer to his supplication it was further revealed to him that “seventy sevens” had been decreed upon his people and on his holy city, from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem unto the full attainment of the promises to Israel, given in [36] Daniel 9:24. Sixty-nine of these weeks (as shown in the preceding lesson) lead directly to “the anointed one, the prince”; and after those sixty-nine weeks (it is said) the Anointed One is to be “cut off, and have nothing.”

It has already been pointed out that on any reckoning, whether the beginning date were the edict of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1f.) or the commission to Ezra by King Artaxerxes (Ezra 7), or that to Nehemiah, by the same king, about 13 years later–and whatever sort of year is counted, whether our common solar year, or the “prophetic year” of 360 days–by any calculation this time-prophecy brings us somewhere near the time of Christ, so near that if Jesus were not the Christ, then the true Christ must have lived at about the time of Jesus of Nazareth. This fact all but demonstrates the divine inspiration of Daniel’s prophecy, and the Messiahship of Jesus.

We would like, however, to see this count of the 69 sevens (483 years) traced more accurately. Some very interesting attempts at this have been made. The one difficulty is our inability to determine exact dates. But, granting that the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah was the Persian king who is known to history as “Artaxerxes Longimanus,” the twentieth year of his reign (Nehemiah 2) was 445 B. C. (This date is conceded on all hands.)

If, further, we grant the date of Christ’s death to have been A. D. 32 (the date accepted by many students of chronology)–then the way is clear to the acceptance of the calculation given by Sir Robert Anderson in his volume entitled “The Coming Prince.” According to his presentation of the facts:

The 1st day of the month Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes fell upon March 14, B. C. 445. (This date which marks the starting point for the reckoning of the seventy weeks, was calculated for the author by the Astronomer Royal of Greenwich Observatory.)

The 10th day of Nisan of the Passion Week (the date of Christ’s triumphal entry) was April 6th, A. D. 32.

The intervening period between these two dates is 476 years and 24 days.

Add to this the additional days of the 119 leap-years, the result is 173,880 days.

Now 69 sevens of prophetic years (483 years of 360 days each) from the edict of Artaxerxes to Christ’s “triumphal entry” (i. e., to Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:25) is exactly 173,880 days.

This is close calculation, perhaps as simple and satisfactory as any count that can be made. But it is not wholly free from objection. Some dispute that the Artaxerxes who gave the edict to build and restore Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2) was “Artaxerxes Longimanus;” and in that case the 20th year of Artaxerxes would not be 445 B. C. Also the date of Christ’s birth and death have not been ascertained to absolute certainty. Some accept the date of B. C. 1; most authorities accept B. C. 4 as the correct year of Christ’s birth. Also, we do not know for certain that Christ’s ministry was just three and a half years–it probably was according to best inferences; but it is not certain. Therefore we cannot know absolutely whether A. D. 29 or 30 or 32 was the year of Christ’s death. So, because of our inability to fix the exact dates, we must be content with approximate reckoning. However, Sir Robert Anderson’s close and careful calculation would serve to show, even with our imperfect knowledge, how narrow the margin of error may be, and how very close to the death of Christ that 69th week takes us. And that is sufficient for our present purpose.

*     *     *

The count of seventy weeks as shown in the preceding lesson stops at the 69th week. The last, the 70th, week is not immediately mentioned. Only we are told that after the sixty-ninth week the “Messiah will be cut off and have nothing” and that the people of a certain “prince who is to come” would destroy the city and the sanctuary. It is not said that either of these two events would take place in the 70th week. (The latter of course could not have, for forty years elapsed between the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem.) When the 70th week at last is mentioned, it is in connection with that “prince who is to come.” When the 70th seven breaks that ruler is come. It is he (and grammatically there is no other antecedent) that makes a firm covenant with many for one week–the last week of the 70, evidently. Who is this “prince”? Some think it was Titus, leader of the Roman legions that destroyed Jerusalem in A. D. 70. But it is not said that that ruler should destroy the city but that “the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” (9:26). That plainly identifies “the prince who who is to come” as Roman, for it was the Roman people that destroyed the city. Moreover, Titus made no covenant with many, or with any, of the Jews.

Again, not a few have taken the position that “the prince who is to come” is Christ.

When or where did Christ ever make “a firm covenant with the many for one week”? [37]

But it is this Roman prince of the last days, who will make a firm covenant with many in that final week, a covenant for seven years (9:27). The setting sees the Jews, (many at least) in their land, their city rebuilt (after its destruction after the 69th week) their temple also, and worshipping in their temple after the manner of their fathers, enjoying safety under that seven-year covenant. But a crisis occurs in the middle of the week–clearly a breach of the covenant: that ruler stops sacrifice and oblation. Simultaneously the “abomination of desolation” comes in. (See also Daniel 11:31; 12:11.) Thenceforth, and to the final limit–the “end” determined (the end of the remaining half-week 3½years)–“shall be poured out upon the desolate.” (ASV)

*     *     *

But here we get a side-light from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In His great prophetic sermon (Matthew 24) He touches upon this prophecy of Daniel in the following words:

“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15, 16.)

We find three references to an “abomination of desolation” in Daniel: here (9:27), and, more explicitly, in Daniel 11:31 and 12:11. An “abomination” is simply an idol. (See 1 Kings 11:5-7; also Exodus 8:26, the Egyptians’ calf.) The wicked king Antiochus Epiphanes (as related in the apocryphal books of the Maccabees, 1 Maccabees 1:54, 59, and 6:7) set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar of the temple in Jerusalem; and “they did sacrifice upon the idol-altar which was upon the altar of God.” This happened more than a century before Christ.

The thing our Lord pointed to was in the future, and is still future. Briefly He tells His disciples that when the “abomination of desolation” of which Daniel spoke, should be seen in the holy place, swift and instant flight from the environs of Jerusalem and Judah only could save anyone; for that would be the signal of a tribulation the like of which the world has never seen, nor ever shall see again. But immediately after that tribulation the “sign of the Son of Man” should be seen in heaven, and they would see Him coming in power and glory. (Matthew 24:15-31.)

The “abomination of desolation” then is the tocsin of the Great Tribulation.

To return now to the 70th week–in the middle of that last week, the “prince who is to come” will stop the temple service, and then, “on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate.” As we read later, in Daniel 12:11: “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up.” Upon the heels of this, according to Christ’s prophecy, follows the great tribulation.

This tallies perfectly with what is told us elsewhere. The last half of that seventieth week is that “time, times, and half a time” during which the fourth beast (or its “little horn”) shall rage, persecuting Daniel’s people, the “saints of the Most High,” in Daniel 7:25. And, again, this is the same period as the “42 months” of the beasts’ unchecked authority in Revelation 13:5. So likewise, the time of trouble “such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” “would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.” Out of this terrible, unparalleled trouble the faithful remnant of Israel shall be delivered. (Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 30:7.) Then, by the judgment of God, shall the “beast” be destroyed and the sovereignty over all the earth shall be given “to the people of the saints of the Highest One” “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” (Daniel 7:21, 22, 27.)

This is the grand terminus of the seventy weeks. Not by a process of general growth and progress, but by a catastrophic event at the close of the seventieth week shall the six-fold consummation of Israel’s hope (Daniel 9:24) be reached, and the great promises upon Daniel’s people and their holy city be fulfilled. This glorious goal was envisioned by Moses and the prophets. They foresaw the day when Israel, redeemed by their Messiah, a regenerated, cleansed, holy and righteous nation, shall have entered into the inheritance of all her wondrous promises, and shall be settled forever in the peace of her holy city (then purified and glorified, Isaiah 4), and His sanctuary shall be in the midst of her for evermore. (Ezekiel 37:26, 27.) [38]

SPECIAL NOTES AND PERSONAL THOUGHTS

Not seventy years but Seventy Sevens! Why so long? Why have the saints pleaded in vain through the centuries, “Make haste, O God!” and “Make no tarrying, O my God”? (KJV) Like the poor widow that came often to the hard old judge, saying, “Grant me justice against my adversary,” the people of God have come to Him for help against the tyranny of evil. (Luke 18:1-8.) Has God not heard their cry? Fear not–those fruitless prayers have been heard. They have their sure bearing upon the final outcome. “Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.”

“Yet saints their watch are keeping:
Their cry goes up, How long?
And soon the night of weeping,
Shall be the morn of song.”

 

I will stand on my guard post,
said the inquiring prophet of old,
“And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
Then the LORD answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
                                                                       (Habakkuk 2:1-3.)

Why does God wait? The delay was strange then; it is even stranger now. Why do the wicked triumph? Why do God’s people suffer?

All power is yours, O God. “Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down . . . To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence!” (Isaiah 64:1, 2.) Are not all things ready? See, the whole creation groans as in the pains of childbirth; and we also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:22, 23). All things wait your coming, Lord!

Come then, and added to thy many crowns,
Receive yet one–the crown of all the earth;
Thou who alone art worthy!”

Why He waits. Never one moment needlessly. He has His great good reasons, and we shall see them in that day when His purpose is completed. In the mean while we have His word of assurance and comfort:

   “For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for         calamity to

give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11.)

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.

For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18.)

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for

any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9.)

The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.” So it came to pass. In less than a week after his triumphal entry, He was crucified. And truly He “had nothing.” For all His faithful service He had nothing to show. His disciples forsook Him and fled. One denied Him, one betrayed Him, all left Him. The enemies stripped Him of His garments and cast lots upon them. He hung upon the cross until His life-blood had ebbed away. Then He had nothing more than He could give, and the poor body hung limp and lifeless upon the tree. Such was the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (how poor!) that we through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9.) [39]

 

The course of the Seventy Sevens may be presented to the eye in this simple diagram

.

Daniel picture for Sept WandW

(1) The starting point: “From the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”
(2) Seven weeks marked off.
(3) Sixty-two more weeks. This brings us to the Messiah–the Anointed One, the Christ.
(4) After the sixty-ninth week: the Messiah is cut off–(the Christ is crucified).
(5) After the sixty-ninth week (40 years after Christ’s crucifixion): the City and the Temple destroyed.
(6) The Seventieth week, divided into two periods of 3½ years each.
(7) At the end of the Seventieth week: The consummation described in Daniel 9:24.

[LOD3R 36-40]                                        Robert H. Boll: Lessons on Daniel, 3rd Edition, Revised (2000)

Except where otherwise indicated,
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,
1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995.
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

 

PREVIOUS & FOLLOWING LESSONS FROM BRO. BOLL’S LESSONS ON THE BOOK OF DANIEL ARE IN PRECEDING AND WILL BE IN FUTURE MONTHLY EDITIONS OF WORDandWORK.




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