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The Greatest Gift: Part V


Dr Grant C Richison
Daniel 9:24-27
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daniel lived in troubled times; his people were in exile in Babylon. After almost 70 years of bondage in a foreign land, Daniel read the prophecy of Jeremiah. He was startled to find that Jeremiah had prophesied Israel’s captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10-14). Moreover, he discovered Israel would return to Palestine at the end of the 70 years! This discovery caused Daniel to confess his sins. Revival came into his life (Daniel 9:3-19).
At the end of chapter 9 Daniel tells about his “seventy sevens” vision–a prediction of the time of the first coming of Christ. God has a comprehensive plan for Israel. “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city” (9:24). These sevens are years. Seventy weeks are 490 years. Daniel received encouragement and certainty from this vision. After the privations of the captivity, God was bringing Israel home, and Daniel received hope.
“from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem”
Only one decree (command) is possible here. The decree to rebuild Jerusalem came in the month of Nisan in King Artaxerxes’ twentieth year (Nehemiah 2:1-8). Jewish custom was that if no day is given concerning a royal decree in the month of Nisan, then the first day of the month applies. As the Talmud puts it, “The first day of the month Nisan is the New Year for the computation of the reign of kings and for festivals.” The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England calculated this to be March 14, 445 B.C. Note that Daniel was given this prophecy about 100 years before that decree would come.
“Until Messiah the Prince”
This is a very clear definition that the prophecy concerns the coming of Christ.
“There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”
Daniel prophesies the number of years that would pass before the Messiah would come. Seven plus 62 adds up to 69 weeks of years, or a total of 483 years. In biblical times, years were measured as exactly 360 days in length. Exactly 483 biblical years later, on Palm Sunday, Jesus would triumphantly ride into Jerusalem.
“The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times”
At the time Daniel wrote these words Jerusalem lay in ruins. He describes a rebuilt city and troublesome times. Times would indeed be troublesome under Roman occupation. In A.D. 70 the walls of Jerusalem would again be destroyed and to this day have not yet been restored. This narrows the time of the coming Messiah to a very distinct period in history, between the finished rebuilding under the leadership of Nehemiah and the destruction of the city by the Romans in A.D. 70.
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself”
Christ’s crucifixion about A.D. 30 allows for the fulfillment of the prophecy in the prescribed time. Just one week after He rode into Jerusalem, with a great crowd lining the street waving palm branches and declaring Him the Messiah (Luke 19:36-38), Jesus Christ was cut off on a Roman cross. He died not for Himself, but that God’s plan would be fulfilled. Christ gave Himself up to save mankind–so that anyone who would turn to Him could be saved. Of all the outstanding religious teachers Judaism had, Christ is the only One who could possibly fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. (One seven-year period remains–the seven-year tribulation period yet to come.)
“And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
Daniel continues by describing the destruction of Jerusalem. The “people of the prince who is to come” refers to the fact that the Antichrist of the future will arise out of a rebuilt Roman empire. In A.D. 70, Roman emperor Titus marched into Jerusalem destroying the city and the temple.
Thus in a time when Daniel and his people were harassed and troubled by their captives in a strange land, the prophet could find strength in God’s promise of the coming Messiah.
Daniel 9 is just one of over 400 fulfilled prophecies of the first coming of Christ. The statistical possibilities in that staggers the imagination! There is no explanation of that except God’s sovereign control of history.
God sovereignly controls the events, not only of Christ’s life, but of ours.
We can rest in God’s management both of the universe and of our lives (1 Peter 5:7).