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TEXT: Daniel 9:20-27
SUBJECT: Eschatology #7: The Seventy Weeks
Today we'll move on in our once-a-month study of Eschatology or the Doctrine of Last Things. Much of what I've said so far has been contrary to what many fine people teach and firmly believe. The differences are real and significant, but we must not overstate them. In fact, all Christians agree on most things. We all believe that Jesus Christ is coming again and that He will raise the dead, judge the world, bring the saints to heaven and consign the sinners to hell. These are the major end-time doctrines.
It is only the fine print on which we differ. Will Christ come before the Millennium or after? Will the Rapture be in one stage of two? Is the Antichrist the Man of Sin or are they different persons? These things should be studied and discussed, but they should not divide us. We need open minds to hear out other believers and warm hearts to love them-even when they're wrong.
The title of today's sermon is The Seventy Weeks of Daniel. The words are taken from the 24th verse of Daniel 9. Not all believers understand the passage in the same way. We differ on what it refers to, and especially, when. But once again, we mustn't magnify the disagreement. All believers agree on the principal teachings of the chapter. We all say,
Our fight, therefore, is an argument at the dinner table, and not a nuclear war! Instead of carping on where others are wrong, I'll try to expound the verses as clearly as I can, keeping negative comments to a minimum.
So, let's get to it: The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.
What are the Seventy Weeks about? What are they for? What are they leading to? In other words, what's the subject of the paragraph?
This is where many fine people go wrong. They think the Seventy Weeks are about.the Seventy Weeks. Once they've got the timetable figured out, they have understood the passage.
But they haven't. For the Seventy Weeks are leading to something else. The word we're looking for is salvation.
The Lord's People are in exile and under the curse of God. They got there because of their sins. For generations, they despised the Law, persecuted the prophets, and set up idols in the Temple. After pleading with them for many years, the Lord's patience ran out, and He lowered the boom. A ferocious army was sent from Babylon. Three times it attacked Judah, and the last time, it took the capital, massacred the people, and burned the Temple to the ground. This took place between 606 and 587 BC.
Even though God was very angry with His People, He did not give up on them. Near the end of their captivity, He sent His angel to an old man, to Daniel the prophet, who had spent his whole adult life serving pagan kings.
The angel was Gabriel, the Lord's most trusted Messenger. The Word he has for Daniel is a happy one. Seventy weeks are determined:
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.
I cannot go into much detail now, but the six blessings are worth our careful study and long meditation. The Lord will
The Seventy Weeks were not revealed to Daniel so he could quarrel with Shadrach or split with Meshach, or vilify Abed-nego. Nor what he told of them so that he would speculate about the future, become hysterical, or start a new religion. God revealed them to Daniel to comfort the old man. The Lord was not through with His People. He would visit them again, and bring with Him all the blessings He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel are about the salvation of God's People!
THE SEVENTY WEEKS
The salvation will come to Israel at the end of seventy weeks. What are these weeks? Most scholars take them for weeks of years. In other words, one week equals seven years, and therefore, seventy weeks amount to seventy times seven or 490 years.
This brings up a question. Are the 490 years to be taken precisely or more loosely? If the events took place in 487 years, maybe, or 495, would the prophecy be a lie? Some say it would be. If it's not accurate to the day (or to the year at least), it is a false prophecy. I don't agree with them.
The people of that time were not fussy about their numbers. They often rounded them off, and when it suited them, they chose numbers for symbolic purposes. It is not their job to conform to our patterns of thought, but it is our job to understand the way they used numbers.
The great B.H. Carroll made the numbers fit perfectly. But reading him left me with the feeling that he fudged the facts to fit his theory. We have to be careful of that ourselves.
In any event, the seventy weeks are divided into three, unequal parts.
THE SEVEN WEEKS
First we have seven weeks. They start with The going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, v.25. Scholars have split on what command this was and who issued it. Some say Cyrus the Great, others say King Artaxerxes, and still others say it is the Lord who issued the decree.
I used to have a strong opinion, but now I don't. If Gabriel doesn't specify which order he has in mind, I won't weigh in with an opinion.
During these seven weeks (or 49 years), the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times, v.25. In other words, Jerusalem will be rebuilt. You can read the story in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. If you spend five minutes in the books, you'll see the time were troublesome, indeed. Enemies, traitors, poverty, famine, and more dogged them for years.
THE SIXTY TWO WEEKS
Next we have sixty two weeks (or 434 years). During this time, nothing much happens. If you know the history of Israel between the Old and New Testaments, you know a great many things happened! On the international front, Israel was ruled first by the Persians, but they fell. Then the Greeks took over the old Empire, including Israel. In 168 BC, the Jews rose up against the Greeks and freed themselves from foreign rule for a time. About 100 years later, the Romans came in and there was no resisting them.
A lot happened religiously as well. The parties we know in the New Testament were formed at this time: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Herodians. Speaking of Herod, he was made king and he ruled with great power-and brutality--for many years. He also redecorated the Temple and brought it back to some of its former glory.
These things would make the headlines of the day, but they were not important to God. They were not bringing in His Kingdom (as the Maccabees hoped) or hindering it, either, as Herod and his patrons believed.
434 years of pretty much nothing!
THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
Then we have the seventieth week, vv.26-27. If the former weeks were on the dull side, this one was the most exciting and eventful week in the history of the world!
What happened? Messiah [was] cut off! Who is the Messiah? It the Lord Jesus Christ. When was He cut off? About 30 AD. How was He cut off? By the crucifixion. Why was He cut off? Not for Himself. In other words, He was not crucified because He was a sinner because He was not a sinner. He died in the place of sinners. To borrow from Isaiah,
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we, like sheep, have gone astray,
We have turned, every one, to his own way,
And the LORD has laid on Him the
Iniquity of us all.
Note carefully: The Crucifixion occurred in the Seventieth Week. So? This means it is in our past and not in our future. The prophecy, therefore, is not predicting events in the modern world. It has nothing to do with the rebuilding of the Temple in our future or with the coming of a great dictator. The Temple could be rebuilt some day and history is full of Great Dictators, but they have nothing to do with the Seventieth Week of Daniel.
TWO LAST THINGS
Two other things need explaining. The first takes up most of v.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.
Who is this, he?
When I was a boy, I was told that he was the Antichrist or the Man of Sin, a great dictator who would rule the world for seven years. But if that's true, the Antichrist must also be a commando, because he has parachuted into the text! No Antichrist is mentioned here; no dictator. Daniel knows what an evil ruler is; he talks about them all over the place. But not here.
It must be the Antichrist--I was told--because he breaks the Covenant with Israel. But it doesn't say he breaks the covenant, but that he puts an end to sacrifice and offering. If the Antichrist does this, give us more Antichrists! For after the offering of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, all other sacrifices are an abomination to God!
The He is the Messiah, who doesn't break the Covenant, but He confirms [it] or makes it prevail (as the Hebrew says). What Covenant does He confirm or make effective? The New Covenant. How? By the sprinkling of blood-His own blood. This is what abolishes the sacrifices and offerings. This happens about three and one half years into the Last Week. Which corresponds to the time of our Lord's ministry and then His death.
What about the rest of the Seventieth Week? Read the Book of Acts and you'll see the Lord kept on striving in Israel for the next few years. Still reaching out for His People-not punishing them right away for His own murder at their hands, but still offering mercy.
The second loose end to tie up is the prince and His people, vv.26b, 27b,
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.And on the wing of abominations shall be the one who makes desolate, even until the consolation which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.
Who is the prince and who are his people? What do they destroy and when do they do it? And how?
The prince is not our Lord Jesus Christ. He's called that in v.25, but the next verse refers to someone else. Who? When I was a boy, I was told he was the Antichrist who would destroy the newly built Temple.
But this cannot be true because the Temple Daniel has in mind would be built in the first seven weeks or way back around 500 to 400 BC. This can be neither Hal Lindsey's Future Temple or Harold Camping's Spiritual Temple. It was the Temple Zerubabel and Joshua worked on. It would be destroyed by a prince-or to be more accurate-by his people.
Did this happen? Yes it did. In 70 AD. The prince was the Roman general, Titus. His men camped around Jerusalem for years before taking it. Soldiers living on c-rations and without their wives, get mighty frustrated. When they finaly broke through, they took out their frustrations on the unbelieving Jews.
It was the worst massacre in the history of the world. The Lord Himself called it the Great Tribulation. As for the desolation of the Temple, it occurred when the Romans set up their idols in the holy place. That made the Temple of God unclean, and made the worship of Israel impossible.
Unless they turn to their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
What do the Seventy Weeks of Daniel mean to us? They mean the Temple of God has been rebuilt. But it is not in Jerusalem. The Temple is our Lord Jesus Christ. In coming to Him, we have our sins forgiven. In coming to Him, we have our prayers answered. In coming to Him, we come to God.
Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
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