Holding to Jesus in Prophecy
I’m glad you’re here with us today, because we are going through a significant passage of scripture, a very difficult passage of scripture. I would, in fact, probably tell you it’s probably the most difficult passage I think I’ve ever taught on, not because I don’t understand this passage, or I think I know what this passage is saying. It’s because there’s such a gamut of understanding what this passage is talking about.
In Christianity, I want us to know there are certain things that I think our faith invokes us and requires us to stand on and give no leniency in when it comes to the gospel, the Godhead, the deity of Christ, inerrancy of scripture. Those are just pillars to our faith, in which define what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
When it comes to the area of eschatology, which we’re about to look at, I will tell you I was much bolder in my initial years of coming to know Christ than what I am today. What I’ve learned about eschatology over the years is that while I hold a view of eschatology, I think it’s significant in the way I interpret scripture, I don’t alienate myself from other brothers and sisters in Christ because they may have a different eschatological stand.
So here’s what I’m going to do today. While we hold to an eschatological view as a church, one of the things that I want to do today is I’m just going to walk through this passage of scripture, show you where the complexity rests, why it’s not an easy issue to just kind of bat an eye at, solve it, and then just go with it.
One of the things I don’t want you to do today is for me to tell you what I believe, you just embrace that, accept it, and move on with life. I think we would be better served as a church to see where the struggles are in this passage, and then you dive into scripture, and we start talking together about it, which is we’re getting ready to jump into connection groups.
I think that’s far more healthier than just taking what someone tells you to believe, anyway. That’s what I want to do. I want to just kind of show you the important parts of this passage today, then I want to throw a bunch of noodles against the wall, we’ll see what sticks, and then I want to back away from that and remind us of what’s significant. Okay?
As we start this passage, I’m going to just lay out for us where we are with Daniel, and I want to say it this way. I think it’s important that our heart be inclined to worship, and worship is such a powerful word, but I think a word that we just kind of flippantly use in Christianity. For example, when we talk about worship, oftentimes we think about the music portion of a service or a gathering of God’s people, and the person that leads that music is our worship leader, which, that’s fine, fine title, whatever, but I just don’t want us to divorce worship from everything we do as human beings in this world, meaning when we open God’s Word, we’re still worshiping.
Worshiping isn’t about us trying to catch God, because I don’t think God goes anywhere. I think it’s us in scripture that’s described as lost, and so it’s us turning to the Lord, having strength from Him. That’s what worship’s about. God doesn’t go places, we do, and worship is finally turning to the Lord and engaging our heart in Him. God’s not lost, we get lost, and so that’s what I think is happening in the life of Daniel here, is that Daniel understands God.
You remember in Daniel 9:4, when we were praying to this, what Daniel’s doing in this passage, he’s praying to covenantal God, which is saying faithful, promise-fulfilling God. In the context of this prayer, he’s acknowledging that his people are the ones that turned to God. His prayer in Daniel 9 is one of repentance and turning to covenantal, faithful God.
When we worship today, we’re not trying to trick God into showing up, right? God’s already here. What we want to do is our hearts to be inclined to embrace what God desires for us as we surrender ourselves to Him. That’s what this passage in Daniel 9 is about. We’re seeing Daniel as he interacts with the Lord on this journey in adversity. Not that God is going anywhere, God’s people have.
Daniel, in fact, I think in this struggle feels a certain way. He’s walking through the struggle like, “God, where are you?” He’s claiming these promises. Lord, I know you’re faithful, covenantal God who has proclaimed himself to us. Understanding God this way becomes highly important, because the promises of God rest on the faithfulness of God. In Deuteronomy 31:6, God says to the people, “God will not fail you or forsake you,” because he’s faithful. He’s not going anywhere.
On the backdrop of this identity of God that Daniel prays in Daniel 9. We know one of the things that Daniel is provoked to prayer about is as having read the Prophet of Jeremiah. That’s what Daniel 9 has told us, that Daniel was reading Jeremiah in the first few verses in Jeremiah 25:11, it tells God’s people that they’re going to go into captivity for 70 years. 70 years they’re going to be in captivity, because they have broken the sabbatical law and letting the land rest on the seventh year, they’re not supposed to grow any crops. They’ve broken that law, and so God’s bringing in the punishment for as many years as they broke that law, which is 70 years.
Seeing God, being a faithful, covenant-fulfilling God, Daniel takes this promise and cries out to God in the midst of this promise for God to answer, and God does. In the midst of the tension which Daniel faced, Daniel sought God and found Him faithful. I want to circle back to Deuteronomy 31 on why it’s significant to us in just a minute, but when God reveals this promise to Daniel of His faithfulness, He does it in the form of prophesy.
Daniel 9:24-27, He’s saying, “Daniel, you’ve invoked or you’ve prayed to covenantal, faithful God, and I’m going to show you I’m faithful in fulfilling that 70-year promise.” He takes Daniel even from the strength of what he needs for today in fulfilling that 70-year promise, Daniel’s now to the end of that 70-year in captivity, not only is He going to give him the strength for today, but He’s also putting the hope for tomorrow.
This is how God is just going to blow his mind and everything that He’s going to do for His people. The way God demonstrates this is through prophesy. Now, this prophesy is probably the most highly contested section of prophesy in scripture, which is crazy because theologians will also call this the backbone of prophesy. I just want to say if this is the backbone of prophesy, it needs to be a really flexible backbone, because there are so many interpretations that people have tried to apply to this.
In fact, Jerome was an early church father in the 5th century, 4th to 5th century. Jerome gave us the Latin Vulgate, which was the translation of the Bible for 1,100 years. Jerome was a significant church father, and he wrote a commentary on Daniel. When he got to Daniel 9, he said there are nine views, in his day, over what Daniel 9 is saying. He just presented all nine and was just done with it.
In the 400 AD there are nine views, and now we’ve had over 1,600 more years of history, you can imagine the different lenses people have looked at this passage and brilliant minds, great theologians have gone through this section of scripture and they’ve walked away on different sides of interpretation of this passage. I just want us to be aware of that when we go through this, because this I think should temper our attitude. Not only just the way history has looked at this passage, but even how Daniel has looked at the prophetic passages that he’s received.
Daniel 8, at the end of Daniel 8, when Daniel’s received a prophesy from God, he then gives the interpretation. God gives him the interpretation of the prophesy and in Daniel 8:27, he then sulks because he says there’s no one here to explain it to me. It’s like Daniel, you got the prophesy, then you got the interpretation, and then you’re saying no one can interpret this for you.
In Daniel 12, God gives him another prophesy and Daniel asks Him some questions for some detail and understanding and God says, “Well, it’s not to be completely revealed yet.” God clouds even His own prophesy in a little bit of mystery. We get to the New Testament, for example, Peter. When Peter is writing, at one point he writes about the Apostle Paul and he talks about Paul’s Epistles being difficult to understand.
Now, I say all that to say I’m not Daniel. I’m not Paul. I’m not Peter. When I approach prophesy, I want to temper it with my attitude. I sort of like Winston Churchill’s approach where he said this. “I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it’s a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.” If I could put a million bucks on who won last year’s Super Bowl, right, you’ll look like a genius.
When you study prophesy, especially Old Testament, you think about all the prophetic statements about the coming of Jesus in the Old Testament and they missed it. No one got Jesus’ first coming right. I don’t want to be so arrogant as to tell you that I’ve got everything dogmatically figured out about his second coming, which is why I would rather just provoke you with some thoughts that inspire you to dig into scripture and to look some of this stuff up.
By the way, if you’re taking notes, you want to write this down. Daniel 9:24-27. This prophetic passage is important. I think that same section of scripture, if you want to dig deeper and especially in Revelation 11 to 13, I would look at Matthew 24 to 25. I’m not going to have time to go through all that with you. If I want to throw out more for you 1 Thessalonians 4 to 5, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. I mean, it goes on and on. Pick up some Isaiah, read anything after chapter 39. All of this has something to do with what’s happening in this section of scripture. There’s a lot to cover.
By the way, if I’m sharing this with you and my head just implodes while I’m on stage, I’ve been in this so deep for weeks now. It feels like it could happen. I’ve got to get some of what’s in me out so you can see this, but the attitude we take I think is very important to this text of scripture. In fact, one of the verses of the Bible that I often think about before I teach, James 3:1, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brothers, knowing that as such will incur a stricter judgment.”
If any of you guys pass by me in Huntington, what in the world? That’s where I’m from. If any of you pass by me in Huntington, or heaven [inaudible 00:10:28]. If any of you pass by me in heaven and you see anything else being chastised for the stricter judgment, throw me a bone and help me out here. Be like, “Nathaniel, try to teach with humility and walk us through God’s word,” and he understands there are some judgment here, so I don’t want to just flippantly tell you things, all right? I also don’t want to be so cowardly that I’m not willing to tell you things. Does that make sense?
I feel like I want to stand for truth and I want to be clear in passages of scripture and I want to inspire us to study God’s word ourselves. I don’t want to be your sole resource in looking at truth. I want us to understand that God gives us the spirit to illuminate this truth to all of us. In that same context, I understand there’s some responsibility that I still need to teach the truth and I don’t want to be judged either way. I want to walk faithfully. There’s humility with it.
Then God’s also giving this statement to Daniel in the form of prophesy. I think it’s worth to think about what is prophesy. The word prophesy really has two definitions, it’s forth-telling and foretelling. It’s forth-telling, it’s just a proclamation of the truth, and it’s foretelling about predictions of the future. I get a little leery when we get into that arena, just because I feel like so many people have abused what it is that the title prophet means.
Scripture tries to temper this so that we are cautious in the way that we teach truth. In fact, in Deuteronomy 13 and Deuteronomy 18, there’s two statements about those that carry the office of the prophet in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 13 it says this, that … I’ll just read it and I’ll tell you, “The prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God.”
What he’s saying in Deuteronomy 13, if someone comes to you and says they’re a prophet and their prophesy comes true but they teach you something that contradicts God, stone them. That’s what Deuteronomy tells them in the Old Testament. While the prophesy may come true, he taught you to go after false gods. That’s how Paul starts Galatians over the course of the gospel. Galatians is all about the purity of the gospel, and he says if someone comes to you, even an angel teaching you something that’s different from the gospel that you know, let that angel be accursed or let that person be accursed.
I mean, so sacred is truth. That’s what the highlight is of Deuteronomy 13, not that someone dies, but so sacred is the truth that your desire should be more consistent with that than to just be appealed by some guy who randomly predicted something that happened. In Deuteronomy 18, it says this, “But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”
He’s saying if a prophet comes and he tries to predict something and it doesn’t come true, kill him. But the point is that the ultimate thought is the sacredness of what truth is and the humility we should walk with in declaring it. If I were to give like one broad theme of what prophesy is about and what it should be about, it’s not just about predicting something. But Hebrews 1 tells it like this, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets, in many portions and in many ways,” so he’s saying long ago, God spoke to the prophets, right? Different ways, but he spoke to the prophets long ago. In verse 2, “In these last days, He’s spoken to us in His son.”
What it’s saying, in this passage, is that all of prophesy, its intention, its purpose is to culminate in the identity of Jesus. When you think about prophesy and what are prophets about, the picture of what a prophet wants to do is to show us holistically how everything finds itself aligning under Christ. When you read about the prophets in the Old Testament, or even this prophetic passage in Daniel 9:24-27, when we get to the end of this, it calls us to make much of Jesus. If we don’t, we miss what prophesy is about.
Prophesy is not about getting your eschatology charts out and predicting everything. Prophesy is about the greatness of Christ. I try to do this, if ministry and God gives me time on this earth just to proclaim His name, if there’s something I could just beat into the ground, it’s the identity of the Old Testament and that everything God established in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the culmination of Christ and what he accomplished for us.
I say this to us over and over, and I will not stop, okay? Every picture in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of Jesus, the temple, the law, the priest, the sacrifice, the Sabbath, all of it is Jesus. If you think about what Jesus said when he arrives on the scene, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest,” in Matthew 11. That word rest is the word Sabbath. Jesus is the ultimate rest. That Saturday Sabbath for the Jews was a picture of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill and rest in him.
They built the temple in the Old Testament. Jesus comes and says, “Destroy the temple, in three days, I will rebuild it.” Jesus becomes that temple, when he’s crucified, paid in full, the veil is torn. Jesus is the fulfillment of the temple. When Jesus comes and is baptized, John the Baptist, John 1:29 says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb that was slaughtered. The past becomes the picture of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill.
Jesus is the fulfillment of all of those things. When he’s saying in Hebrews 1:1-2, “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” he’s helping us to identify all of these prophetic statements ultimately point to Jesus. It’s not about showing how great you are in predicting anything. The point is to magnify Christ.
When it comes to the idea of prophesy, a couple of things. One, I think it’s important to test it with scripture. Does it align with what God’s word says? Two, how does it point to Jesus? What, if any, does it have anything to do with Christ? For Daniel, that’s what he’s driving to here. Not that God had gone anywhere, but that the people had. So what does he do? He falls on his knees before a covenantally, faithful God and he prays, “God, you promised in 70 years, this captivity would be over.”
God not only fulfills the 70 years and Daniel and for the Jews, but He also looks forward and He give them an even greater promise. He gives them strength for today, hope for tomorrow, in a way that it should inspire us to seek God just as Daniel, because our seeking of God isn’t because we’re impressive, but because of who He is. In fact, when God starts to answer Daniel’s prayer, He pulls back the curtain on the 70 years, but He also looks forth ahead to this.
It’s kind of like answering this question. Like Miss America, which I don’t watch, but you know the cliché question that they ask Miss America, “If you had one wish, and you could wave the wand in the air, what would you want?” Then she knocks it out of the park and wins the crown when she just simply says, “World peace,” right? Then everything goes well. [inaudible 00:17:49] she’s perfect. She wants world peace.
When you get to Daniel 9:24, it’s as if God is saying to Daniel, “Daniel, not only am I going to fulfill 70 man, but you’re dreaming small here. I want you to think about all the culmination of everything that’s going to find its fulfillment in me.” He says this, not only is it 70 years, but 70 weeks, which is 70 sevens weeks of seven days. Interpreters say this is 70 sevens or 70 weeks, which is 70 times seven.
“70 times seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish the transgressions, to make an end of sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophesy and to anoint the most holy place.” 70 times seven is literally 490 years. He’s saying to Daniel, “Daniel, not only is the 70 going to be fulfilled, but I’m going to show you the scope of history over the next 490 years, and this is what’s going to be accomplished.”
God lists six things in which He will accomplish for His people within the context of this passage. For us, when you look at the text of Daniel 9:24-27, I think verse 24 is the theme. This is the mega idea. When New Testament writers think about what Jesus fulfills in his coming and dying on the cross, it’s the allusion to this verse that expands the New Testament. This verse is the highlight of this passage.
Now, verse 25 and on, he explains in more detail how that’s going to work itself out. That’s where interpreters start having different opinions, but in verse 24, this is what covenantal God does for His people, “To finish the transgressions, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.”
What does it mean? Finish transgressions is to stop rebellion. Put an end of sin is the sin that destroys our souls. To atone for wickedness is this at-one-ment, to bring peace or shalom in our sin, find division, in our relationship with God and destruction. He atones or makes peace with that so that our souls, and he says, can have everlasting righteousness, which is a future eternal hope that rests in God, both now and forever, as we trust in Him.
Then he says this, just like we read in Hebrews 1:1-2, to seal up vision and prophesy, to take the culmination of all of these things and show us how it identifies itself in this covenant fulfilling God who will sacrifice himself for us. Then it goes on to anoint the most holy place. In your translations of scripture, like the one I have on the screen, I didn’t italicize the word place, but the translation has it that way. If you look within the context of your Bible, most likely the very last word in verse 24 is going to be italicized.
The reason it’s italicized is because interpreters infer this word, meaning in the Hebrew text there is no word for place. What the interpreters did is that it doesn’t make sense to just say, “And to anoint the most holy.” They look at it this and they say, “Holy what? What’s it talking about?” So translators in the context look at the remaining verses and find that most commonly at least in some translations they’ll say, well it’s mostly talking about locations and places, so therefore, it’s most likely meaning holy place. They infer the word place, but to let you know they’re inferring the word place, they italicize it. But place is not in the original text.
This is why I think it’s important, because I think it’s a mistranslation, because when you look in verse 24, what you see is everything that Jesus is going to accomplish for us. Then all of a sudden the last part of the verse they start talking about a place. I don’t think that’s what it’s saying for us at all.
I think what it’s saying is this is what Jesus is going to do. He’s making end of sin, he’s making an atonement for iniquity, he’s bringing an everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophesy, and he’s being anointed as the most holy one, not place. It’s not talking about place. It’s talking about a person.
In fact, when you read the New Testament, it reads that way. Let me just share this with you, Peter in John 6:69, Peter is talking to Jesus. Listen to what Peter says, “We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” In Mark 1:24, even the unclean spirits cry out to Jesus, “Have you come to destroy us? I know you are the Most Holy One of God.” It’s identifying Jesus as fulfilling this role, not place but person.
When you look in the New Testament, the writers continually refer back to this type of identity in Jesus and what he fulfills for us. Listen to this, Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.” Colossians 1:20, “Through him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” Hebrews 2:17, “He had to become like His brothers and sisters in every respect, so that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service to God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.”
Covenantal God fulfilling his covenantal promises, going all the way back to Genesis 3, Genesis 15. I talked about this last week, the difference between what a contract is and the covenant contract obligates to people to fulfill. But when God established His covenant in Genesis 15, with Abraham He told him, through him He would bless all nations.
He has Abraham set up this covenantal scene where God’s going to make a covenant with Abraham and Abraham has to sacrifice an animal. He puts them in two because this was a common tradition to cut an animal in two, and individuals would pass through that in their covenantal agreement with one another and as if to say may what happen to this animal happen to us if we break this covenant. Rather than Abraham walk through, God causes Abraham to fall asleep and God alone walks through.
This covenantal promise that God establishes in Daniel 9:24 was not because of our goodness, but because of His. Then in verse 25, 26, 27, he then explains to Daniel exactly how this is going to look, but this is also where interpreters have a challenge in understanding exactly what’s taking place. This is what he says, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”
This is what they do. They take the 70 weeks now and they divide it into three sections, seven weeks, 62 weeks, and one week. Seven weeks being 49 years, 62 weeks being 434 years, and then one week being seven years. They divide this up for a grand total of 490 years. God’s looking down the scope and saying over the scope of 490 years, this is what’s going to happen. He says from the time of issuing decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and 62 weeks.
Let me give you some thoughts to consider here. Daniel is carried into captivity 606. Babylonians continue to go against Jerusalem until about 585, so about 20 years transpire on this siege. Cyrus issues his decree to return, that the Jews can return in 536 and the temple is built in 515. When you study the history of what took place here, God promised 70 years of captivity. Well, 606, Daniel and the first wave of people were taken captive, 536 they were allowed to return. In 585, the last wave of captivity took place, 515, the temple is built.
Either way you look at that, there’s 70 years that transpire. But then God says from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and 62 weeks. What he’s saying to us is 49 years plus 434 years. What does that look like? This is where interpreters start coming up with all kinds of things.
If you historically look at it, there’s a gamut of different views of how this looks. Some people think that this 490 years cycle started when Cyrus gave his decree in 536 and that the reason it breaks up the seven weeks and the 62 weeks is because there’s gaps in between these time periods. Some people think that the clock for 490 years started in 515 when the temple was built in Jerusalem. That’s when Cyrus gave the decree for the building of the temple, and then they went and they built it.
In 458, Artaxerxes then gives a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. What happened was the Jews when they’re told to go to the promised land, were able to build the temple but they had a hard time reestablishing the city of Jerusalem. The reason is when people conquered civilizations, what they would do is they would send in different people groups into that conquered area. What it did was it gave them insurance that that group that was conquered would never rise back up because their identity gets lost in the mark of all the other civilizations that drowned out that empire that used to exist.
They’d go in and conquer to ensure that empire that was conquered would never rise up again. They would allow the people from the empire that conquered them to move in, and it would diminish the value system of which that empire had before it was conquered. When the Jews go back to Jerusalem, that’s what they encountered. They built the temple, and they tried to rebuild Jerusalem, but these people groups around them start inflicting trouble on them.
Finally, Artaxerxes in 458 issues a decree that they can rebuild the city, and Ezra the priest shows up into the city for the reestablishment. So an anointed one goes into this place and I think if you follow the timeline from 458, you can add 483 years until the coming of Jesus. I think that timeline almost fits perfectly or does fit the arrival of Christ.
Now, I’ll let you know some of us may have been taught in our lives that Jesus came, he was 30 when he started his ministry, 33 when he died, and so you do the math in your head and be like, well there’s BC and AD and so Jesus came at zero. He started his ministry in AD 30, and died when he was 33, which would be good if the calendar was right.
I think historically, we’ve been taught now that the starting of the calendar was wrong. The Gregorian calendar we use today isn’t accurate. It was established by a monk in the 1200s and he got the dating wrong. That’s somewhere between three to four years. Most likely Jesus’ ministry started in AD 26, Jesus was crucified in AD 30. That’s where most theologians and historians teach today.
If you go to 450 BC and you add up to the AD 26, you see that Jesus and these 490 years begins his ministry. By the way, I should add for you that there is no zero. BC 1 doesn’t go to then BC AD 0, AD 1. History timeline actually goes BC 1 AD 1. There is no zero, okay? So 490 years transpire from I think Artaxerxes, who’s given the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. That’s exactly what this prophesy says, to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks.
Now I want to tell, I’m going to give you just noodles on the wall. Ready? People debate first, when this started, when this clock started. They may not even all agree that Artaxerxes was it. That’s okay, they could all be wrong. I’m just kidding. Artaxerxes is just the view I told you, but then the Messiah the Prince, people debate who this Messiah the Prince is because it says there will be seven weeks, and then 62 weeks.
They’re saying that this Messiah the Prince will come. Some people say this Messiah the Prince will come for this seven week period. Now who is that? They’ll look at their clock of history and they’ll say, well, Ezra seems to fit that because he was anointed and priests were anointed, and the word Messiah isn’t capitalized in the Hebrew. It could be lower case messiah, so it could be Ezra. That makes sense since he was anointed.
Others will read it and say, “Well, it says, ‘Until the Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and 62 weeks,’ so this is actually talking about Jesus, because he’s referred in the scripture as the Messiah and the Prince.” So they say, you combine the seven weeks and the 62 weeks, 483 years so it’s saying from the rebuilding of Jerusalem from 458, so all of those weeks combined, it equals the arrival of Jesus in 26 AD.
Two interpretations there, “It will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.” This is what it’s saying in the last part of this verse that when the Jews go back to Jerusalem, it isn’t always going to be easy. You talk about this plaza and moat. Moat is a little difficult to translate, because this is the only time in the Hebrew text the word moat is used. I personally would think it would be awesome if they rebuilt Jerusalem and there’s this giant castle door that comes down on a moat with alligators inside. That’s not what this means.
When they go back to Jerusalem, you see that they establish these plazas or roadways and they built these aqua docks. These aqua docks channeled the water in and out of the city, even in times of distress. You look over the span of 483 years and you see that while the Jews are operating in Jerusalem, they continue to be conquered by civilizations, starting with Alexander the Great until the Ptolemy’s, the Seleucus, where Antiochus Epiphanes came from, and then finally the Romans. Always under this distress.
So then when you get to verse 26, it gets more complicated. Ready? “Then after the 62 weeks, the Messiah will be cut off.” After Jesus’ ministry, when his ministry starts, 26, he’s going to be cut off. Now, people ask this question, when it talks about the Messiah being cut off, there’s still one week left. Is it during the week or is it cut off at the end of 62 weeks, but before the seven weeks start?
Either way, right at this verse it’s saying, “After the 62 weeks for sure, maybe in the seven weeks,” hold onto that, “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end will come with a flood, and even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” Some people translate it like this, the Messiah is cut off. Who cuts him off? Well, we know there’s an antichrist. Antichrist is against Jesus. Revelations talks about antichrist, therefore, it must be an antichrist.
He cuts the Messiah off. That’s when it comes to this passage, “The people of the prince who was to come will destroy the city,” it’s talking about the antichrist as being that prince, “and the sanctuary, and its end will come with a flood, and even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” Sounds a lot like the antichrist.
Other people look at this passage and say this, verse 25 was talking about the Messiah. All of verse 25 is talking about the Messiah the Prince, seven weeks and 62 weeks. Therefore, verse 26, “then after the 62 weeks, this Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. The people of the prince,” talking about Jesus, “who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Jesus was cut off and he is that prince that’s being referenced to. “His end will come with a flood even to the end there will be war, and desolations are determined.”
You can look at history and see that there is tribulation. God told His people, there will be tribulation. We’re all not excluded from tribulation. Then in verse 27, “And he will make a firm covenant with many for one week.” Now, some people will say verse 26 is talking about Jesus, some people will say halfway through the verse it starts talking about the antichrist. This is where it becomes even more important, because the word he, who’s he talking about? “And he will make a firm covenant with many for one week.”
Normal interpretation, Hebrew interpretation would tell us whoever is being discussed in the second half of verse 26 would be who the he is referencing in verse 27. If you say the second half of verse 26 is the antichrist, well the normal interpretation for verse 27 will then be to say that the he is referring to the antichrist. If your he is referring to Jesus, in the first half of the verse, and then you say it’s the antichrist in the second half of the verse, then you’ve got to explain why the verse 27 then refers back to Jesus rather than the antichrist. Does that make sense? Probably not, because for history it hasn’t.
Here’s what it’s saying, the Messiah or the antichrist, after 62 weeks will be cut off, and then there will be destruction. Verse 27, “He will make a firm covenant with many for one week.” Some people teach this to be the antichrist, and that’s where people get the interpretation of the seven-year tribulation, or some people say Jesus’ ministry only was in this described as one week, but in the middle of that week, Jesus was cut off and Jesus is the only one that makes a covenant.
Antichrist is the one that makes covenants with us. God is the one that makes the covenant. In the middle of that, Jesus is cut off. When you look at Jesus, his ministry lasts for three and a half weeks. Flip a coin, right? “But in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering.” Well, the one antichrist type figure could have done that, by destroying the temple and taking out Jesus, or Jesus himself did that by renting the veil. When Jesus said it was finished, the veil was torn, the presence of God no longer dwelled in the temple. What makes the temple of the temple is God’s presence.
God told you that now you are the temple of God, because God’s presence dwells within you. So it can work either way. By the way, if you think verse 27 is talking about the antichrist, I think it’s important to know that in history, in 70 AD, a Roman general named Titus went into Jerusalem and he destroyed the temple. The only thing that remains today over 2000 years later that exists from that temple is a retaining wall called the Western Wall. Some people refer to it as a wailing wall, but I think the most appropriate name to say is the Western Wall. That’s the only thing that remains.
Then it says, “Abominations will come one who makes desolate,” and they desecrated the temple, “even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” It’s saying that it was made desolate and then there will be an ending decreed on that desolator. At the very end, I think everyone agrees that it’s talking about the antichrist, that there will be an ending to this antichrist, but the promise for us, what does all that mean?
I hope when you look at this, you understand when people get dogmatic about prophesy, it’s not easy. It’s not a matter of snapping your fingers and telling you this is what it means and laying everything out for somebody. I think even Daniel had adversity in understanding this stuff. Even Peter said that about Paul in his language that he wrote. To arrogantly just say, “Fine, this is what it means. Everyone believe and accept it,” I think it does a disservice.
I think you should be challenged by this. I think you should be inspired to dig a little deeper in this stuff and not just use this as an excuse to remain ignorant that God gave us prophesy for a reason. But also I want us to know that while we look at the detail of how God lays this out, there are certain thoughts that should override all of it. What I mean is verse 24, because what we’re praying to in this passage is covenantal faithful God.
Let me just give you a few things to stand on in this verse. You just plant your heels in. One of the things I think that’s significant for us to understand is that in the context of this promise, the Messiah is told to come before the destruction of the temple. There are people groups today still waiting on the Messiah, like Jews by and large are waiting on this Messiah or the Messiah will arrive. One of the things that we can look to prophetically to know he’s already come is there is no temple.
The promise for him to fulfill is that the Messiah will come before the temple is destroyed, and if the temple has been destroyed for almost 2000 years, it is indicating to us that quite possibly the Messiah arrived before the destruction of the temple. This universal thought is everything that God promises in verse 24 is fulfilled in the fact that Jesus would have had to have come before this temple was destroyed. The other thing is this, that God is in control. He didn’t go anywhere. He didn’t go anywhere.
God not only fulfills the 70 years that He’s fixated on for the moment, but He also just says man, look at this. Jesus, if you follow the Artaxerxes’ prophesy in 458 to the arrival of Jesus in 26 AD, God is declaring the exact arrival of the Messiah. When you think about how in control God is, when Daniel is looking around the chaos around him, wondering where God is, God is saying, “I’m right here. I’m right here.” Covenantal faithful God.
In verse 24, who removes the wickedness and makes the atonement and satisfies the wrath of God and justifies us in Him and eradicates sin and brings us peace and everlasting righteousness. Why does that become important? Because it has everything to do with the volatility of His promises. It has everything to do with where you rest yourself today. Verse 24, Daniel is leaning in to covenantally faithful God. He knows his people are broken. He knows we’re not perfect. He knows they need rescued and is looking for this God to deliver.
What does that mean for you? It means not only does Daniel 9:24 become important as a promise that’s fulfilled for you, but on the back of Daniel 9:24 rests every promise God ever gives to you. What I mean is because Jesus sufficiently satisfied the Holy God and his sacrifice for your sin. He’s able to fulfill every promise.
When you read things like Deuteronomy 31:6, “God will not fail you or forsake you,” or you read promises like Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” or when you read promises like Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:39, “What shall separate me from the love that’s in Christ Jesus?” I could go on and on. “He became sin who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. “In Christ, all things become new. Old things have passed away,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Every promise in the Bible rests on this significant promise of this covenantal, faithful fulfilling God. This is why it becomes most important. I’m not perfect, and you’re not perfect, and sometimes we look at those promises and we say to ourselves, “God, why would you love me? God, why would you want me? I’m not as good as them,” or, “God, I’ve messed up again.” In our internal nature, we move away from God. God’s not moving away from us. We move away from God because we say to ourselves, “God, why would you want me?”
The answer is, it’s not because of you. If the reason you can hold to the promise for God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” isn’t because of you. It’s because of Him. It’s because his life demonstrated in Genesis 15, Abraham fall asleep. I’m walking through this because I’m establishing this for you regardless of you. Then you see the profound thought of what Daniel is saying and his prayer to this covenant to God, how important it is to understand God this way.
We look at this promise that God’s not just saying 70 years, but 490 years. He’s fulfilling this and it’s not just for Daniel. It’s for all of us so that in the midst of our failures, we could all turn to God and realize, “God, I’ve failed, I’ve failed and I don’t deserve your love, and I’m not worthy of your love, but it’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s your covenantal faithfulness.”
I can hold that promise not because I’m great. I hold that promise because you are. I have hope today not because of me, I have hope today because of you. In my failures, I have a God I can hold onto that loves me in that. But here’s the good part, guys. Not only is this a promise to say God takes care of your past, but it’s also a promise to say God also gives you a future.
It’s strength for the moment and a hope for tomorrow. It’s to say when you walk away from understanding what covenantal faithful God is, you don’t just say God took care of my past, but you get to hold your head up high, not because you shaped your identity in yourself to begin with, but you shaped everything you are in Him because He has rescued you.
That’s what makes verse 24 so powerful. That’s why I say in the scope of prophesy, while you may break out your eschatological charts and try to predict everything, if you don’t drive back to Jesus, you fail in the purpose of prophesy because this has everything to do with the promise that jesus ultimately wants to accomplish for you. I feel like I should spike a football.
I love what John Newton said. John Newton was a slave trader, radically transformed his life for an amazing grace. At the end of his life he said this, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is an even greater Savior.” Do you see how in the midst of a cultural collision, Daniel was able to find a place to rest, and a strength to endure, a hope for his life?
Do you see within the context of your own life if you were in the middle of failing, if you’ve blown out sometimes in the past, if you know that you’re going to do it again, how God allows you to come to him, [inaudible 00:45:05] yourself. Jesus did that for you. But when you understand how radically transforming that love is, what compels you to do anything for God in this world isn’t that you owe God or that you hope to get God to turn towards you. It’s that God has already come for you, and that love is so inspiring in the heart of our lives that all that we want to do back to that God is sing His praise and live for His glory in this world.
It’s not about this obligation, but a covenantal love that taught us a depth of such goodness and grace that inspires our own heart to reciprocate with such love in this world, for a king who loves us so dearly, and so sacrificially that we can cling to these promises even in the midst of our mess, while holding to hope for tomorrow.