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Daniel: ‘Know and Understand’

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the message presented in Louisville, KY at the 2019 Kentucky-Indiana Fellowship)

 

     Bro. R. H. Boll wrote in his ‘Notes and personal thoughts’ regarding Daniel chapter nine the following: “One of the best ways to pray is by pleading God’s promises to him.  Prayer is not the means of wresting from the hands of God that which he is unwilling to give, but rather of obtaining from him what he has promised, and what he wants us to have, and is glad to bestow.”

     So, Daniel, a man of consistent, fervent prayer, pleaded to God what he had promised the exiled Jews.  From Daniel chapter 9 verses 1 thru 3: “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years.
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

     Let’s consider together a few key points:

     One would expect that if one prays for the fulfillment of a promise of God revealed, recorded and preserved in scripture that it would come to pass rather automatically.

     Consider again from the words of R. H. Boll: “But was there any indication that such a thing was about to come to pass?  None at all thus far – no stir, no movement, no edict, in fact, no visible prospect.  But far more depressing to Daniel was the fact that there was no evidence of any spiritual preparation among the people.  For God’s predictions are not fulfilled in a mechanical sort of way.  They are always conditioned.”

     In connection with the Lord’s promise in Jeremiah 29:10 “to bring you back to this place.”  Also included are the Lord’s words in Jeremiah 29:12ff, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and will bring you back from captivity.”

     However, there were none calling upon the name, none sought the LORD.  No supplications pleaded to the LORD for his fulfilling his promise.  Their hearts were far from him; most of the Jews were content to remain in Babylon.  Could the promised return take place under such circumstances?

     Therefore, we have the manner of Daniel’s prayer, pleading in fasting, sackcloth and ashes.  Daniel would intercede for Israel.  He laid himself out to pray for them.  Daniel became their representative and intercessor in penitence and humble supplication.

     Today, when we as Christians plead the promise of God, we know that what we are pleading is in the will of God as revealed in scripture.  But are God’s promises automatic?

     Consider from First Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

     This is a promise to Christians dealing with temptation to sin.  God will do his part, but it is also conditional on our part to seek and find the ‘way out’ of the temptation that God has provided.  It’s not automatic.

     In Daniel’s case while he was still pleading and petitioning God, someone came to provide him with God’s insight and understanding.  Daniel 9:20-23 “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill — while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:”

     Verse 20 says in part “my request to the Lord my God, for his holy hill.”  Would be Mt. Zion, that God would restore Jerusalem.

     Verse 21 says in part “about the time of the evening sacrifice.”  Even though the temple was destroyed so that sacrifices could not be offered, Daniel still observed that worship time which would have been the second lamb of two offered daily, this one at 3 PM, a common time also for prayer.

     Verse 22 says in part “insight and understanding.”  Although Daniel did not refer to it in his prayer in Daniel 9:4-19, he possibly was concerned about God’s program for Israel going forward, even beyond the time of the Jews return to their father’s land to restore their nation, their capitol, and their temple.  (Jeremiah’s prophecy had revealed God’s plan for Israel only up to the end of the 70-year Babylonian captivity.)

     So, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal his program for his people until its consummation in the covenanted kingdom on a restored earth under Israel’s Messiah-King.

     Verse 23 says in part “an answer was given…for you are highly esteemed.”  Just as God answered Daniel’s prayer, and even added more insight and understanding; so, when we pray sincerely and in God’s will, God desires to answer our prayers according to what he knows we need.  Daniel’s faithful life of prayer, worship and holiness caused him to be highly esteemed which should be the desire of our hearts also.

     Let’s consider God’s program of ‘Seventy Sevens’ for Israel.  Daniel 9:24-27 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, 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 Place.
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

     It was not just 70 years as Daniel may have thought or hoped but instead ‘seventy sevens’ of years or 490 years into the future of Daniel’s time.

     John MacArthur, a fine expositor of scripture writes: “The time spans from the Persian Artaxerxes decree to rebuild Jerusalem, about 445 BC to Messiah’s kingdom.  This panorama includes:

  1. 7 ‘sevens’ or 49 years, possibly closing Nehemiah’s career in the rebuilding of Jerusalem as well as the end of the ministry of Malachi and the close of the Old Testament.
  2. 62 ‘sevens’ or 434 more years for total of 483 years to the first advent or coming of Messiah. This was fulfilled at the triumphal entry on 10 Aviv, AD 30.  Then the Messiah will be ‘put to death.’
  3. The final 7 years or 70th seven is of the time of the final antichrist which corresponds to Daniel 9:27 “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’”

     This prophecy, it should be noted, is concerned not with world history or church history but with the history of Israel and the city of Jerusalem in particular.  By the time these 490 years run their course, God will have completed six things for Israel.  The first three have to do with sin, and the second three with the kingdom.  The basis for the first three was provided in the work of Christ on the cross, but all six will be realized by Israel at the second coming of Christ.

     Let’s consider these six particulars revealed in Daniel 9:24: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, 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 Place.”

  1. “to finish transgression”. At the end of the 490 years God will finish the transgression of Israel.  The Hebrew verb ‘to finish’ means ‘to bring something to an end,’ Israel’s sin of disobedience will be brought to an end at Messiah’s second coming when she repents and turns to Jesus of Nazareth in faith as her Messiah and Savior.  Then she will be restored to all her land and be blessed, in answer to Daniel’s prayer fully.  Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice on the cross has made possible his future ‘finishing’ of Israel’s transgression.
  2. “to put an end to sin’. Here meaning to judge Israel’s sin in particular with finality.  The Hebrew verb has the idea of sealing up.  This emphasized that Israel’s sin which had gone unpunished would be punished, in or through Jesus Christ, her substitute, who would bear the sins of the world on the cross.  At Christ’s second coming he will remove Israel’s sin.  Ezekiel 37:23 “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them.  They will be my people, and I will be their God,” 
  3. “to atone for wickedness”. The verb ‘to atone’ means to cover. This too relates to God’s final atonement of Israel, when she repents in faith at Christ’s second coming to this earth, as the provision for that atonement has already been made at the cross.  Zechariah 13:1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitant of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”  This yet future day for the final righteous remnant of Israel will be her ultimate: ‘Day of Atonement.’  Being propitiated, that is satisfied by Christ’s blood.  God can atone for or cover Israel’s sin.

These last three relate to righteousness and the coming kingdom.

  1. “to bring in everlasting righteousness:” God being satisfied by the atoning sacrifice of is Christ; God will bring in everlasting righteousness. This in particular refers to Daniel’s people, Israel, who will radically be changed from apostasy to righteousness in the sight of God.  Isaiah 60:21 “Then will all your people be righteous, and they will possess the land forever.  They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.”
  2. “to seal up vision and prophecy.” All that God through the prophets said he would do in fulfilling his covenant with Israel will be fully realized.  Until they are fulfilled, prophecies are ‘unsealed.’  Once sealed, no more revelation will be needed; upon completion by total fulfillment, Israel will be truly blessed by God.
  3. “anoint the most holy”. God will anoint the most holy.  This may refer to the dedication of the most holy place in the coming millennial temple described in Ezekiel chapters 41 thru 46.  Or it may refer to the Holy One: Christ.  That is to the enthronement of Messiah King “the Anointed One” as King of kings and Lord of lords to reign in the millennial age to come.

     These (6) accomplishments of God anticipate the establishment of Israel’s covenanted millennial kingdom, her ‘golden age’ under the authority of her promised King.  These (6) summarize God’s whole program to bring the nation Israel the blessings God promised through his covenants.  Namely his:

     Consider a few key points as we look closer at Daniel 9:25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”

     The 70 ‘sevens’ would begin with “the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”  This decree referred to in Daniel 9:25 was actually the 4th made by Persian rulers in reference to the Jews.  It was issued by Artaxerxes on March 5th 444 BC (or 445 BC) as described in Nehemiah 2:1-8 “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so, I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.”

     This 4th decree alone specifically granted the Jews permission to rebuild Jerusalem and its city walls, therefore, this decree formed the beginning of the seventy ‘sevens’ or 490-year panorama of God’s program for Israel.

     Verse 25 “until the Anointed One, the Ruler (or Prince).”  The goal of the prophecy is the appearance of the Anointed One, the Ruler whom is Messiah himself, Jesus our Lord.  This encompasses: Verse 25 “there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two sevens.

Brother R. H. Boll writes: “So far as the prophecy shows these ‘seven plus sixty-two’ that is ‘69’ weeks or sevens run continuously.  Here then we have a time-measure of 483 years (69 x 7) from the 20th year of Artuxerxes to Christ.  Barring all disputed dates, whatever reckoning be adopted, 483 years brings us very close to the  time of Christ, so close in fact, that we must conclude that  (the dates and the reckoning granted as correct) the 483 years would have to come out exactly; which has been found to be the case.

     The 69 weeks (that is sevens of years) then bring us to the time of Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  No mention of the remaining week, the 70th, follows immediately after this.  The count is interrupted at the 69th week.”

     Let’s look closer at Daniel 9:26. “After the sixty-two sevens’, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.”  That is after 434 years that extend up to the introduction of the Messiah to the nation of Israel at is triumphal entry to Jerusalem, just before he was then cut off, that is crucified.

     According to Daniel 9:26 ‘the Anointed One’ was not ‘cut off’ in the 70th seven; he was cut off after the 7 and 62 sevens had run their course.  Another thing that is to happen after the 69 sevens is according to Daniel 9:26B “The people of the Ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary”.  This refers to Imperial Romans utter destruction of the nation, Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.  But the 70th seven is not yet mentioned.

     The interval between the 69 sevens and the 70th seven was anticipated by Christ when he prophesied the establishing of his church in Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

     Christ predicted the setting aside of Israel in Matthew 21:42-43 “Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone the builder rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’  Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’”  Therefore, the present church age is the interval between the 69th and 70th sevens.

     Amillennialists teach that Christ’s first coming ministry was in the 70th ‘seven’, that there is no interval between the 69th and 70th sevens, and that the six actions predicted in Daniel 9:24 are all being fulfilled today in the church.  This view, however, ignores that Daniel 9:26 says ‘after the 62 ‘sevens’, not in the 70th seven, also overlooks that Christ’s ministry on earth was 3 ½ years, not seven, and ignores the fact that that God’s six actions in Daniel 9:24 pertain to Daniel’s people Israel and his Holy City Jerusalem, not the church.

     So, what about the 70th seven?  That brings us to Daniel 9:27. That says in part “He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven.”  The logical and grammatical antecedent of “he” is the ruler who will ‘come and will destroy the city and the sanctuary’ in Daniel 9:26. Therefore, “he” is a Roman ruler, as the one in AD 70.

  1. H. Boll writes: “A latter-time prince (American Standard Version) or ruler (New International Version) of the ancient people, the world empire that had destroyed the city and the sanctuary, would make a treaty (firm covenant) with many (the greater multitude of the Jews) for one week (or seven years). This last-mentioned week or seven is bound to be the last, the 70th, for it is the only other week mentioned after the 69th

     In the midst of this week (at 3 ½ years) that Roman prince, or ruler, would take away the sacrifice and the oblation, or offering.  A distinctly hostile act, in which the covenant he had made with them for one week (7 years) is broken.  This is followed by the advent of one who in verse 27 “maketh desolate, who shall come ‘on the wing of abominations’”.  As in the prophetic utterance of Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—”.  Given by the Lord Jesus Christ.  From then on to the end of the 70th week (or seven) it is according to verse 27 “war, desolations”, and wrath poured out upon the people of Israel and Jerusalem, their city.

     Only two events of the long interim between the 69th week (or seven) and the 70th are named: the one, which occurred right after the close of the 69th week: “the Anointed One was cut off,”  the other, “the destruction of the city and the sanctuary, “which occurred 40 years later.  From then on all is blank till that evil one comes upon the scene.  Israel is seen at that point as renationalized, her temple rebuilt, the sacrifices resumed.  That Roman prince, or ruler, that shall come will make a 7-year pact with the majority of the people, guaranteeing them peace and safety for the period of seven years.  But in the midst of the week, or seven, at 3 ½ years that pact is treacherously broken.  Israel is plunged into the Great Tribulation, which lasts for 3 ½ years.  A ‘time, times, and half a time’, the day of ‘Jacob’s Trouble,’ which shall end in their final deliverance when the 70th week, or seven, is ended.  This is corroborated by the Old Testament prophets; also, in Christ’s Olivet sermon in Matthew 24 and in Revelation.”

     Regarding Daniel 9:26, Amillennialists teach that the “ruler” that refers to the “he” in verse 27 was General Titus, leader of the Roman legions and that therefore, all of Daniel 9:27 has already been fulfilled in AD 70 as past history.

     Look carefully at Daniel 9:26, it does not say the ruler but instead “the people of the ruler”, that is Romans.  Moreover, Titus made no covenant with many or with any Jews.

     The argument is also made that the Romans entered the temple before completely destroying it (putting an end to sacrifice and offerings) with their military poles and ceremonial insignia, elements of their pagan religion including to Jews the ceremoniously unclean insignia of the Roman Eagle.  ‘an abomination that causes desolation.’

     But did Titus have as in Daniel 9:27 (New International Version) ‘the end that is decreed poured out on him.’  That is God’s wrath?  No Titus and his legions were victorious, and he went on to become Emperor of the Roman Empire.

     What scripture prophesies of the evil one is actually widespread.  For example:

     These and other prophecies, for example, Revelation 13 fit this yet future final Antichrist, a beast of a man empowered by Satan.

     As Bible-believing Christians seeking to know and understand the whole counsel of God may we do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  Prophecy can be an effective witness tool to introduce people to ‘The Prophet.’

 

                 David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10