Prayer and Prophecy

Posted: March 9, 2017 in Daniel, Uncategorized

Daniel 9, “Prayer and Prophecy”

God’s word is always true…always.  What God promises, God performs.  Unlike men & women, there is no promise of God He does not keep.

This is something that would ring true to Daniel in Chapter 9.  He comes across a promise of God in Scripture, and presents a heart-felt prayer to God in regards to it.  Miraculously, God sends an immediate response back to Daniel, giving him a prophecy of events yet to come.  Things that were no doubt incredible, but just as true as any other promise God ever made.

Daniel 9

  • Daniel’s prayer for his nation (1-19)
  • Setting (1-2)

1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

  • Date: 539-538BC – many years after the previously recorded dream in Chapter 8 (551-550BC).  Daniel would have been over 80 years old at the time, having seen much drama in the kingdom of Babylon.  This would have been shortly after the infamous night when Daniel literally read the writing on the wall (Dan 5:25-28), and the city of Babylon fell in a single night to the empire of the Medes & Persians.  Cyrus sat enthroned as the high king over the entire empire, but Darius the Mede had been made king over Babylon (“the Chaldeans”).  Most likely, Daniel had not yet encountered the persecution of his colleagues that saw him cast into the den of lions – the Jewish prophet was still getting settled among his new Gentile king. 
  • As he did, Daniel looked around and understood the times.  It ought to come as no surprise that he was a student of the Scriptures, and he came to a prophecy that stuck out to him.  Jeremiah 25:11–12, "(11) And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (12) ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation."  To Daniel, this was real life – coming true right before his eyes.  The king of Babylon had been punished, so what comes next?  Restoration.  70 years had been ordained for Israel’s punishment.  50 years had passed since the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon (587BC), so the time was right for people to start making preparations. 
    • We could say much the same thing about the days in which we live.  Scripture is coming true right before our eyes, and we also need to make our preparations!  The nation of Israel is alive and well (if not yet believing in Jesus as Messiah) – the Church has spread into every corner of the world – our culture reflects the depraved state expected of the end-times.  All these things and more tell us that God’s plan for this age is soon coming to an end.  We need to expect Jesus’ call at any moment.  We need to make our preparations now…there’s not a moment to lose!
  • Worth noting: Lord.  The covenant name of God (YHWH, יְהוָה ) has not been used at all in the book of Daniel to this point, and is not used past Chapter 9.  This is the only chapter in which it is seen at all.  Thus, it stands out like a flashing siren light.  Attention is being called, but to what?  God’s name is used in reference to God’s covenant.  In his prayer, Daniel would be falling back upon the covenant promises of God, so in his address to the Lord, he uses the name of God which is most appropriate: the one under which God made His covenant promises to His people.
  • Confession (3-15)

3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

  • Daniel’s humility is striking.  He prepared himself physically and spiritually to seek the Lord in prayer.  The “fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” were not ritual to him (Daniel wasn’t engaging in Lent); these were honest expressions of his humility and contrition before God.  Keep in mind that this was something he would have had to prepare to do over time.  Although people sometimes call it “fasting” when they skip a single meal, that’s not really the picture.  How many meals Daniel skipped is unknown, but it’s certain he didn’t rush headlong into prayer.  He prepared his heart, mind, and body to seek the Lord in sincere faith.
    • Do we have to do likewise with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes?  No.  Again, this isn’t ritual – it was a culturally appropriate expression of humility.  Do what is culturally appropriate here.  Fasting is not bad, as long as it isn’t ritualistic.  The overall idea is one of preparation & intention.  We prepare ourselves for other important meetings – why not prepare ourselves for a meeting with God?  Especially when it was something so important as national repentance – this made perfect sense for Daniel (and us).

4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,

  • Daniel will enter into much confession in a moment, but notice how he begins: with praise.  His prayer starts with a focus upon the greatness of God.  The Lord is awesome – faithful – merciful in His covenant promises – showing love and favor to His people.  Daniel was about to recount the deserved judgment of God that Israel had received – it was worth remembering the goodness of God first.  The judgment of God is always couched within His goodness…especially in regards to His people.  He never disciplines His children because it brings Him joy; like any father, our Heavenly Father does it because it is necessary.  He wants the best for us, and that means disciplining us when we deserve it.
  • And Israel definitely deserved it!  Vs. 5…

5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.

  • Notice the plural 1st person “we.”  Daniel doesn’t exempt himself from any of this.  He’s confessing on behalf of his nation, and includes himself as a part of it.  Had he personally engaged in wickedness?  No.  Daniel certainly wasn’t sinless and perfect, but he hadn’t participated in the sins of his fathers that led to this point.  Regardless, Daniel was a Jew & child of Israel.  As a nation, they shared in the same sin & same punishment, so Daniel confesses as a Jew on behalf of other Jews.
    • Sometimes we have to do something similar in regards to our nation, or even the church as a whole.  We may not have personally engaged in the sin of abortion, or the sexualizing of our culture, but we are still a part of a people who have.  Most of them will never confess that sin to God, so it’s up to us to do so.
  • Notice the lack of excuses.  Israel had ignored God’s repeated outreaches, and Israel had no reason for her disobedience.  It was outright wickedness & rebellion, and Daniel labels it as such.
    • Stop making excuses for sin!  When you’ve rebelled, admit it and move on.  That’s what confession is: agreeing with God that sin is sin.  Our problem is that we want to justify our actions, when they cannot be justified.  What we want (justification) can only come through the grace of God.  We cannot justify ourselves; that’s what God promises in Christ.  So confess your sin, and receive the justification you cannot invent on your own.

7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

  • Israel had earned their own shame.  They had been unfaithful, and as a result they had been cast out of the Promised Land, and spread to countries all around the known world.  They had lost their blessings, and even the Gentiles knew them as the disgraced people of God.

8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.

  • Shame belonged to Israel, but “mercy and forgiveness” belonged to God.  Daniel never forgets God’s goodness and love.  God is a righteous King, but He is also a loving Father.  That is simply who He is & who He has always been.  Daniel understood his nation could always fall upon the mercies of God, not seeking anything they deserved, but asking for God and His grace.

10 We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.

  • How many ways had Israel disobeyed the Lord?  They ignored His voice, His laws, His prophets, and more.  They had truly earned their punishment.  Moses warned the people what would happen in their disobedience, and it all came upon them, to the letter.  To read the curses detailed in Deuteronomy 28 is to read the horrors of the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests centuries in advance.  The nation of Israel knew what awaited their disobedience – they chose to ignore it.
    • We’re no better.  We know that the wages of sin is death, and yet we do it anyway.  We give ourselves over to the very things for which our Lord Jesus died, and then wonder why we experience the consequences we do.

12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.

  • Question: Is this an example of holy exaggeration?  Had no other nation experienced what Jerusalem experienced?  Historically speaking, many other nations besides Israel and Judah were conquered by other empires.  That’s how the Assyrian and Babylonian empires grew, by definition – they conquered other peoples.  How then, could Daniel claim some sort of unique suffering among the Hebrews?  Because no other nation had been allowed that fate specifically for their violation of a covenant made with Almighty God.  That’s what Israel had: a covenant with the Creator God…and they wasted it – they despised it.  Thus they experienced loss like no other nation could ever know.

13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.

  • After all this time, what was most needed among the Jews had not yet been done: repentance.  That’s astounding, when we think about it.  50 years had gone by, and had no one repented?  Surely some individuals did, but the nation as a whole had not.  They could have been seeking the Lord’s face from the very moment they went into captivity, but instead they twiddled their thumb and wasted time.
  • As Christians, our sin does not cause us to lose our salvation, but it does cause a break in our fellowship.  Unconfessed sin creates a block between us and our Heavenly Father.  We miss out on the joy He desires for us – we miss out on His voice through the Scriptures and prayer – we miss out on the abundance of life that is promised us in Christ Jesus.  Why would we continue in such a state?  What is it that stops us from confession & repentance?  When sin rears its ugly head in your life, deal with it!  1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

14 Therefore the LORD has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

  • God is righteous, even (and especially) in His judgment.  If God didn’t judge sin according to His word, how could He be trusted to forgive sin according to His word?
  • Daniel concludes the confession with a reminder of God’s past deliverance of Israel.  God had freed His people from Egyptian slavery, and made them His own special people.  And how had they repaid Him?  Through wicked sinfulness.
    • This may be harsh, but it’s the truth.  Confession hurts, but it’s the truth.  And it’s the only way cleansing comes.
  • Supplication (16-19)

16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.

  • God’s anger had been turned against Israel: His people, His city, His mountain.  This is what they deserved.
  • Why should God turn away His wrath?  Reason #1: According to His “righteousness.”  God is the righteous God.  He promised 70 years would be enough, so 70 years needed to be sufficient.  God would not break His word.

17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.

  • Reason #2: For the Lord’s “sake.”  For His own reputation and fame, it was good for God to look again upon His people.  God would be praised for His goodness.  For God’s own glory, He could shower His mercy upon His desolate people.

18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.

  • Reason #3: Because of His “great mercies” – His intense compassions.  IOW, because of His marvelous great love.  God has no reason to hear us or pay attention to us at all, apart from His love.  But praise God, that is exactly who He is: a God of love!

19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

  • Pleas for action.  Multiple imperatives pleading with God for His help.  If God didn’t act, His own people would be lost.
  • Question: Did Daniel doubt God would help?  No.  Daniel knew the promise of Scripture, and those promises are what prompted his prayer in the first place.  But Daniel also recognized Israel’s dependency.  God would act according to His word, no matter what – but God also desired Israel’s repentance.  Thus, if no one else would, Daniel would give it.  God’s heart for His people was always repentance… Deuteronomy 30:1–3, "(1) “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, (2) and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, (3) that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you."  This is what God desired to do for His people!  God wants to see people love Him, worship Him, and be saved.  (God wants it from us, too!)
  • Prophecy of 70 weeks (20-27)
  • The messenger (20-23)

20 Now while I was speaking, 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 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.

  • Sometimes we wait for an answer to prayer; other times it comes quickly.  Daniel didn’t have to wait at all!  While he was still “speaking, praying, and confessing” to God, God sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel with an answer.
  • There’s a bit of question over the words “being caused to fly swiftly” – other translations say, “my extreme weariness.”  The Hebrew is difficult to translate here, as two different verbs could take the form of what is in the text.  Either Daniel is really weary, or Gabriel was sent really fast.  Each scenario is possible, and neither affect the meaning of the overall text.  God saw Daniel in his need & sent His quick help.
  • FYI – when did Gabriel come? “About the time of the evening offering.”  Obviously there was no Jerusalem temple at the time, thus there was no priest sacrificing an evening offering to the Lord God.  Apparently, Daniel was praying during the hour this would have taken place, if it was going on, probably a part of Daniel’s normal prayer tradition.  In a real sense, Daniel was offering something to the Lord: confession.  As David wrote: Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise."  Give to the Lord what it is He desires: your humble heart!

22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:

  • Gabriel came with a purpose: to give Daniel the “skill to understand” the plan of God.  God viewed Daniel as one of His “greatly beloved” – he was precious in the sight of God, as a true treasure.  Thus God wanted His prophet to know His will.  The Father had heard Daniel’s prayer, and His will was already set in motion.  God had revealed many things to Daniel in the past about the future of other nations – now God would reveal to Daniel some very specific things about the Hebrew nation.
  • The message (24-27)

24 “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.

  • First things first: “seventy weeks” doesn’t necessarily equal 70 weeks.  Although we emphasize that proper interpretation of the Bible needs to be done literally, it doesn’t mean that the correct interpretation is always the most literally rigid.  Proper Bible interpretation is done according to the grammatical, historical, and literal contexts.  This means that when the language calls for symbolism, we need to recognize it is, otherwise we’ll miss the meaning entirely.  For instance, when Jesus calls Himself the “door” of the sheepfold (Jn 10:7,9), He isn’t literally calling Himself a piece of wood hanging upon hinges – it’s a metaphor, and needs to be recognized as such.  A symbolic interpretation can be the correct interpretation when that is the literal/grammatical meaning of the text.  That is true here, in this particular case.  A “week” here is not a 7-day period, but a 7-year period.  How can we tell?
    • First, look at the immediate context.  This prophecy comes to Daniel in response to his prayer of confession in regards to the 70 years of captivity faced by the Jews.  He recognized that this time period would soon come to a close, and he appeals to the Lord God.  There is a parallel between Daniel’s circumstance and Gabriel’s answer.
    • Second, look at the cultural context.  Hebrews thought in terms of sevens, as that was the number of completion (based on the completed week of Creation, with God resting on the 7th day).  Every 7th day was a Sabbath rest.  Every 7th year was supposed to be a Sabbath year.  The very reason the Babylonian captivity was to last 70 years was because they had missed the corresponding number of Sabbath years (years of Jubilee).  A variant translation here could easily be “Seventy sevens / Seventy periods of seven are determined…”  The natural thought for the original audience (Daniel) would have been weeks; not days.
    • Third, look at the historical context & fulfillment.  Even if there was confusion from Daniel’s point of view (which is unlikely), history proves it to be years & not days.  70 periods of 7 days is only 490 days (1.3 years) – which wasn’t even enough time for Israel to finish out its 70 year captivity.  The same is true for 490 weeks of 7 days each (3,430 days, 9.5 years).  Gabriel prophesies of a time that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and the Messiah will appear.  The only possible interpretation that fits the historical fulfillment is seventy seven-year periods, or 490 years.
    • Why is this so important?  Because it underscores the accuracy of God’s word.  If our interpretations of prophecy need to be rewritten to force it to fit our particular point-of-view, then Scripture doesn’t mean anything.  Either Scripture is the authority, or we are.  If it is the authority, then it will be accurate because it is the word of God…and it is!  Our job when reading and interpreting the Bible is not to look for what meaning pops into our head, or look for what it means to us; it’s to look at what it means, period.  We look for God’s interpretation to God’s original audience, and then (and only then!) look for any personal application that might exist to us.  In this particular case, the accuracy of the prophecy here speaks directly to the incarnation and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus.  It points directly to the gospel ministry…it’s important that we get this one right!
  • All that said, those 70 “weeks” apply to something.  What is it?  The nation of Israel.  “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city.”  God wasn’t done with Israel – not by a longshot!  And in reference to Daniel’s prayer regarding the 70 years of captivity, God (through Gabriel) tells him of another 70 on the way: the 70 weeks specifically set aside in God’s eternal plan concerning Israel.  Right off the bat, there is good news: (1) There is still a people, and (2) There is still a city.  At the time of Daniel’s prayer, he could have affirmed that his people still existed, but there definitely wasn’t a city.  In God’s plan, there was.  His mercy towards Israel was alive and well, and there was a plan God had for them in the future & in their once-and-future capital city.
  • Regarding God’s plan for His people, there would certainly be hard times to come (as was already referenced in Chapter 8 & would be said again at the end of Chapter 9) – but the ultimate outcome was wonderful.  The “transgressions…sins…[and] iniquity” of Israel would come to an end, and they would truly be reconciled with their God.  Currently, the nation was experiencing 70 years of captivity until that punishment would come to an end, but sadly, the rebellion of Israel would not stop.  They would engage in far more egregious sin than their repeated idolatry when they eventually rejected their Messiah.  That sin would need to be dealt with in order for them to be eternally reconciled to God, and that’s what this prophecy was all about.  God promised there would be a day when there would be “everlasting righteousness” and when the “Most Holy” (the Holy of Holies in the temple) would be finally & eternally anointed.  God looks forward to the day that His chosen people will worship Him in truth during the Millennial Kingdom, as they are reconciled to Him through the work of Messiah Jesus.
    • As Gentile Christians, what should be our response to the plan of God concerning Israel?  Joy!  Part of our reason for being (raison d’etre) as the Church is to provoke the Jews to jealousy regarding our relationship to God the Father (Rom 11:14).  They are supposed to see us & wonder why we have a wonderful loving relationship with the Father, and they do not.  They’re supposed to wonder why they continually struggle against God, never finding their fulfillment in their rituals.  Right now, they are blind – but they won’t always be that way.  Eventually, all Israel will come to faith in Jesus & be saved (Rom 11:26).  That’s a wonderful promise, and one in which we can rejoice!  Our God is good – gloriously so!  None of His promises will ever fail.  Neither His promises to us, nor to Israel – He is always faithful, and always good.  

25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

  • Follow the timeline: 70 weeks were promised, but 69 of them are described first.  7 + 62 = 69.  That time period is described starting at “the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince.”  At the time Gabriel spoke to Daniel, the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins.  From the time of that rebuilding until the time the Messiah appeared would be 69 of the 70 weeks.  How exactly this is to be interpreted is highly debated.
    • Some see this as the time period between the initial restoration to Israel, and the first abomination of desolation that takes place under the reign of the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes.  There are several problems with this point of view. (1) None of the letters from the Persian kings who communicated with the Jews led by Zerubabbel give permission to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem; they just give permission for the Jews to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. (2) The prophecy is clear that the terminus of the 69 weeks (483 years) is the appearance of “Messiah the Prince.”  In no way does Antiochus Epiphanes fit that description.
    • Some see this as the time period beginning with the permission given from Artaxerxes of Persia to Ezra to restore the temple in Jerusalem and also to set up magistrates and judges over the people of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:24).  If that took place in 457BC, that ends in the year 27AD, an incredibly close approximation to the ministry of Christ (provided that 365 day years are used in the calculation).  Yet again, there is the problem of no exact command given to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, though Ezra seems to have thought it to be included in his mandate (Ezra 9:9).
    • Others see this as the period stretching from the command given to Nehemiah stretching precisely to Palm Sunday, when Jesus presented Himself in the Jerusalem temple.  Nehemiah received his mandate in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes (446BC), and his specific goal was to rebuild the city and repair the wall – exactly according to the prophecy given to Daniel.  Date-wise, this works out precisely if the 69 “weeks” (7-year periods) are calculated according to 360-day years.  Although this is debated, there is precedent to it in the Scripture regarding the reckoning of the global flood (five months = 150 days, Gen 7:11, 8:4), as well as follow-up in the book of Revelation which counts months according to a 30-day schedule (360 days per year).  If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture (as we should!), then this very possibly takes us from March 14, 445BC to April 6, 32AD: the very climax of Jesus’ ministry. 
  • The Messiah would appear, but “troublesome times” were promised.  How so?  Gabriel goes on to explain…

26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

  • The 62 weeks referenced is the 62 weeks following the initial 7 weeks (as mentioned in vs. 25).  Thus 69 weeks are completed, and “Messiah shall be cut off.”  The word for “cut off” in this grammatical context could be rendered as “be sentenced to death.”  Truly, that applies to Jesus in amazingly accurate ways!  He was sentenced to death, not on His own account, but for ours – but even so, He had nothing.  Think of it from Daniel’s point-of-view.  This was the long awaited Messiah – the Anointed Son of David.  This was the King who was to rule over Israel forever.  How could He be cut off and receive nothing?  How would this be possible?  The kingdom of Israel would come – but not in the ways in which the Jews expected.  The Messiah would indeed come in power and glory – something already seen by Daniel years earlier, as recorded in Chapter 7.  Daniel 7:13–14, "(13) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. (14) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed."  That was the Messiah that Daniel (and the other Jews) expected.  That was the Son of David & Son of God coming in power & might & glory to rule forever.  How could the Messiah of Chapter 7 be reconciled with the Messiah of Chapter 9?
    • What was a mystery to Daniel at the time is plain to us today.  It is through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and His future 2nd coming.  The Jews expected the Messiah to come once, whereas God always planned that He would come twice.  Jesus’ first coming was to atone for sins; His second coming is to rule as King.
  • If it seems like the prophecy is interrupted, it is…and this is why.  69 weeks had to pass, and then there is a glaring interruption with something completely unexpected by the Jews.  The city that had been commanded to be rebuilt is once again destroyed, as is the sanctuary, and many desolations & trials are predicted for the Jewish people.  What happens in this meantime?  The Church age.  In 70AD the Romans came into Jerusalem, destroying it, exactly as Gabriel said to Daniel, and (as has been seen through the previous visions of Daniel) the Roman empire is that which eventually gives rise to Antichrist, labeled here as “the prince who is to come.
  • What will this future prince do?  First, his arrival institutes the final 70th week of Israel: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.”  69 prophetic weeks have passed, with only one remaining, and this is it.  That this “prince” (Antichrist) confirms a covenant means that he creates a treaty or agreement “with many.”  Who the “many” are is not expressly mentioned, but considering the context is that of Israel’s 70th week, it seems likely that the covenant is with Israel.  How could this be?!  How could Israel agree to a covenant relationship with Antichrist?  Keep in mind that evil doesn’t always appear evil at first.  Evil doesn’t always show up wearing a black hat and an eyepatch (pick your caricature of choice).  Paul writing to the Corinthians said that even Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).  Evil can appear quite appealing at first – it’s not until it sinks its hooks in us that we see it for what it is.  Regarding Israel, it does not seem impossible that Antichrist will create a peace treaty with the Jews – something which the Israelis (and the rest of the world) have sought for decades, unsuccessfully.  It is plausible that at some point in the future a charismatic leader arises, having ancient roots in the old Roman empire, and negotiates peace between Israel and the Palestinians & other surrounding Muslim nations.  That sort of covenant would be incredibly appealing to Israel, no matter who it was that arranged it!
  • Yet the peace will not last.  “In the middle of the week,” everything changes.  3.5 years into a 7 year covenant, Antichrist the prince turns upon Israel, bringing “an end to sacrifice and offering.”  There will be terrible event that is described as the abomination of desolations, which not only is the cause for great trial, but is the final accelerating factor towards the end.  Keep in mind Daniel has already received a prophecy concerning the mid-week timing of this event: Daniel 8:13–14, "(13) Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?” (14) And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”"  As we saw last time, this likely refers to 1150 days, considering both morning & evening sacrifices needed to be counted – and that takes the interpretation right to the midway point of the 70th week.  This terrible event was the capstone – it was the crucial sign for which Israel was to watch.  When this took place, they could know the time was at hand for the final desolations and (ultimately) the glorious return of the Messiah with all of the power and glory of God.  And if there were any doubt this is still the future event for which the Jews are to watch, we need go no further than the Lord Jesus, who specifically referenced this prophecy telling the Jews to flee Jerusalem when it happened.  Matthew 24:15–16, "(15) “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), (16) “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."  Something terrible was coming in the 70th week – but something far better was to follow at its conclusion: Christ Jesus!

Was God done with His people?  Absolutely not!  Yes, they had sinned terribly against Him and earned the punishment they received.  Yes, it was right for Daniel to confess their sin, pouring his heart out to God on their behalf.  But that doesn’t mean God had forever turned away from Israel – far from it!  God had promised their restoration to the land, and He would deliver.  He is always good to His word!

That was true in the past, it is true in the present, and will continue to be true in the future.  God is always good to His word.  What He has promised, He will fulfill…to the very letter.  He promised to send the Messiah, and He did – and Jesus died as the sin sacrifice for all mankind.  Today, we live in the age where we can freely partake of Jesus’ sacrifice and be counted as the people of God.  But soon, the plan of God will return to His original chosen people of Israel as He takes them into times terrible trial.  As harsh as these things will be, they will not be done in vain.  Eventually, all Israel will come to faith in Jesus as Messiah, finally seeing Him for who He is…and giving Him glory.

How do we know?  Because God promised it.  What God promises, God performs.  His word never returns void.

Trust the promises of God!  Rejoice with Israel for God’s promises towards them, and give praise to God for the promises you currently experience in Christ.  Where there is sin, confess it wholeheartedly – where there is doubt, give it over to Jesus.  Believe His promises of love, mercy, and forgiveness…He can be trusted!

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