Series: Thru the Bible
Message: 70 weeks have been determined for your people Pt. 1
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70 weeks have been determined for your people Pt. 1
The first part of this chapter was dealing with the 70 year captivity of Israel to Babylon where they were physically exiled from their land.
Last week we saw how Daniel had consulted the prophetic scrolls from Jeremiah to determine this and that the 70 years began from the FIRST deportation from Judah and that under Cyrus the Great they would be allowed to return to their land and that he would largely fund the entire endeavor. His fear however, may have been that if Israel refused to return that God might multiply their captivity in accordance with Leviticus 26:27-28 which says,
“‘(27) If in spite of this you do not obey me but walk in hostility against me, (28) I will walk in hostile rage against you and I myself will also discipline you seven times on account of your sins.”
This would effectively have turned the 70 years into 490 years!
This “fear” on Daniel’s part is speculative – there is no way to know if this was part of his concern for he had also read in the scrolls of Jeremiah’s prophecies…
Jer. 25:11-14,“(11)This whole area will become a desolate wasteland. These nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years.’ (12) “‘But when the seventy years are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their sins. I will make the land of Babylon an everlasting ruin. I, the LORD, affirm it! (13) I will bring on that land everything that I said I would. I will bring on it everything that is written in this book. I will bring on it everything that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. (14) For many nations and great kings will make slaves of the king of Babylon and his nation too. I will repay them for all they have done!’”
Jer. 29:10-14,“(10) For the LORD says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland. (11) For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. (12) When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. (13) When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, (14) I will make myself available to you,’ says the LORD. ‘Then I will reverse your plight and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the LORD. ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’
As I told you last week, in this chapter the angel Gabriel (who Daniel refers to as a man) has TWO discussions with Daniel. One in which a rather direct answer was given to his natural prayer regarding Israel’s immediate captivity in Babylon. However there was a question BEHIND that question which I have been suggesting to you for weeks. It is one which Daniel himself would not have known how to formulate into a direct question, but it was clearly bothering him nonetheless.
You see God had baited Daniel by giving him supernatural ability to interpret dreams, and then gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream which directed Daniel’s attention into the distant future in which Israel’s status as God’s kingdom on earth seemed to always be in a weakened, if not defeated position. Even after their exile from their land was over, they would still be under the rule of the Medo-Persian Empire. In fact, all of the visions and dreams Daniel had seen placed future Israel in some sort of captivity and defeat.
All of this was deeply troubled Daniel, and he said as much after reviewing both the dream of Nebuchadnezzar as well as his own.
Dan 7:28, “This is the conclusion of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts troubled me greatly, and the color drained from my face. But I kept the matter to myself.”
Dan 8:27, “I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up and again carried out the king’s business. But I was astonished at the vision, and there was no one to explain it.”
All of these things were addressed in Daniel 9:1-23.
This week we are covering Daniel 9:24-27. A seemingly insignificant sliver of a chapter, but one that is extraordinary enough to spend our time with tonight.
The prophetic foresight of the Seventy Weeks
I believe these 4 verses are talked about, debated about, commented on and written about more than any other portion of the Old Testament.
They are often referred to as ‘the 70 weeks of Daniel‘, and surprisingly, as much as they are talked about, there really is a fair amount of general agreement from nearly all parties regarding their meaning and fulfillment. By “general” I do not mean to play down the large differences, but that nearly all parties definitely see this clearly pointing to Jesus as bringing in righteousness – however, the WHEN is the point of disagreement. We may be talking about the fulfillment of His earthly ministry, or His return for His church, or His millennial reign or at the very end of the age.
In my studies, much of these interpretations are focused more upon timing than on the events they represent.
SO MUCH focus is placed upon the meaning of the time periods Gabiel mentions and while the timing is clearly important, I do not think that it can be mentally worked through accurately until we can accurately tack down the events themselves.
We, at least potentially have an advantage over Daniel. Given the overarching importance of the coming of Messiah and His sacrifice and resurrection, it is more than likely that at least some of the events have already happened. So from our vantage point we can likely see with the crystal clarity that history provides, the events being described and THEN apply the math of the time periods offered by Gabriel counting back rather than attempting to count forward.
My point is this that those of us who have already come to faith in Christ know and rely upon the truthfulness and accuracy of scripture so we need to be less concerned over attempting to match up time periods and more caught up with the events they were to mark.
Like all other things in scripture the math will work itself out, if we allow our hearts to read and interpret scripture the way God had it recorded. As a revelation of His Own person and heart. In this relational context we are on good ground and solid footing for grappling with the timing of the events.
One thing we know, God almost always has more than one fulfillment to prophecy. This is NOT an escotological dodging of the bullet, but a proven fact. There is always a primary interpretation and those ALWAYS focus upon the person of Jesus. Not just sometimes – ALWAYS! Any additional menting is literal and accurate but secondary. ALWAYS!
2Peter 1:21 says, “For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.”
We know that the Spirit has been given to us to reveal Jesus and that in revealing Jesus we might come to know the Father. So the Spirit behind prophecy is always focused upon Jesus as Revelation 19:10 says –
“And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
This does not set aside the fact that God ordained prophecies to speak to literal events which were future events relative to the prophet who spoke them, but it does provide a focal point for what was revealed to Daniel.
So whatever our differences, it is possible that though there is only ONE PRIMARY interpretation of these verses, that there are also others as well. This is nearly 100% certain!
I like what G.P. Hugenberger wrote in a paper he put together on this topic.
His beginning words were these:
“Daniel 9:20-27 is widely regarded as one of the most difficult passages in the Bible.
Over the centuries scholars have proposed dozens of competing interpretations of these challenging verses, especially Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 “weeks.”
Although there are many differences in detail among these interpretations, virtually all of them can be grouped under three main approaches, each of which is defined by its understanding of when the last “week” takes place.
What we may call the “critical view” holds that Daniel’s 70th “week” refers to a 7-year span (a “week” of years) which took place 171-164 BC.
Those who favor the “Dispensational view” hold that the 70th “week” has not yet taken place since it refers to a 7-year period, called the “Great Tribulation, which will happen at the end of the Church Age.
Those who favor the “traditional view” hold that the 70th “week” includes the cross of Christ.
Although these notes favor the “Traditional” interpretation of Daniel 9 as most faithful to the biblical text, as well as to the facts of history, it is recognized that there are sincere well-informed Christians who hold each of the other views.
Given the challenges of these difficult verses in Daniel 9, honest disagreement over their interpretation should never be a cause for division in the Church of Jesus Christ.”
Let’s read them first and then we will work through them.
“(24) Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place.
(25) So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.
(26) Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction.
(27) He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of that week he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.”
So let’s take this slowly and advance our understanding of the events Gabriel is pointing to so that we might have a better chance and understanding the point and possibly even the timing…
“(24) Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place.”
WOW what an intro! Who can immediately tell both how significant this is and to what time general period it has to be pointing?
Can you see why, even though we as the body of Christ are SO divided on SO MANY issues we still find much to agree upon regarding these words and their fulfillment?
The phrase Seventy weeks have been determined – This is a phrase which greatly implies a judicial decision. God has adjudicated the case of His people – their future and the fulfillment of God’s greatest promises to this nation.
It seems unclear from the text alone whether it means ALL of this will happen AT this appointed time or that each of these things will have happened before this appointed time.
At this juncture looking at various translations will help us tack down their meaning. I believe the Homan, the KJV and the ESV cover the gambit of possible translations.
The Holman says it this way,
“(24) Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city–to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to wipe away injustice, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.”
The KJV and ESV have,
Daniel 9:24,“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”KJV
Daniel 9:24,“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”ESV
You can see the words are a little different and that plays a major role in influencing interpretation.
The events which will have taken place by the end of the 70 weeks are…
- Put an end to rebellion – bring the rebellion to an end – to finish the transgression
- To bring sin to completion – to put a stop to sin – to make an end of sins – to put an end to sin
- To atone for iniquity – to wipe away injustice – to make reconciliation for iniquity – to atone for iniquity
- To bring in perpetual righteousness – to bring in everlasting righteousness –
- To seal of the prophetic vision – to seal up vision and prophecy – to seal up the vision and prophecy – to seal both vision and prophet
- To anoint a most holy place – to anoint the most holy place – to anoint the most Holy – to anoint a most holy place
The differences are slight, but significant.
We will address them all in order.
Using the NET as our starting point.
- To put an end to rebellion
The NET has it as ‘an end to rebellion’ – as if ALL rebellion would cease.
The Holman has it ‘bring the rebellion to an end’ – with ther addition of the word “THE” it becomes clear that we are referring to a specific rebellion.
The KJV and the ESV both have ‘to finish the transgression’ – THAT is truly helpful.
If you look up this pivotal word, all three translations make sense and are in their own rights accurate. The problem is that communication is a tricky thing. You can be 100% accurate and still be vague or misleading.
Using the word transgression is the most literal and therefore, in this case to be preferred. The word transgression is a special word for sin. It means a violation against a known law. So the law is as much in focus here as sin is.
You may remember a very special passage in the New Testament which directly addresses both this example and the clarity this word offers.
It is found in Romans 5:12-14,
“(12) Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:– (13) for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come.”
Paul is explaining that sin which resulted in all expressions of death BEGAN with Adam’s transgression. Adam had been told NOT to eat of the tree and he willfully did it anyway. This was a willful violation of a known command of God. The consequences of such is death and that consequence continued to affect everyone from Adam to Moses even though until Moses there was no law to transgress.
You see Paul is saying that the knowledge of sin is what incurs guilt and sin on that level was not even possible since Adam until the law was given because since God told Adam not to eat the fruit, God had not spoken to mankind specifically and told them of His moral code so there was nothing specifically known to rebel against.
Sure mankind had an inner awareness of right and wrong, a general moral compass so to speak, but even that was fuzzy and open to interpretation by the individual.
Paul, again later in the same book of Romans said, “I was alive apart from the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” – Romans 7:9.
What does all of this have to do with Daniel and this first part of Gabriel’s explanation to him? Well it clarifies what is being rebelled against and what is therefore coming to an end.
You see, the NET translation says “put an end to rebellion” well that could mean anything! Rebellion could refer to wars or inward idolatry or Israel’s perpetual unfaithfulness since their start as a nation or the more general rebellion of all mankind since the fall.
The word transgression makes it clear what was being rebelled against.
This is not the more general rebellion of mankind, though it includes that, it is more specifically referring to the rebelling against the law.
THAT is significant!
To do this, one does not have to stop everyone or even anyone from sinning, one only needs to bring the law to an end or rather supplement it with something else.
If according to Luke the law was until John the Baptist and if according to the New Testament writers the law was fulfilled by Jesus and furthermore IS fulfilled in all who are His and who subsequently walk by the Spirit – then this first fulfillment is clearly made possible only in Christ! (Rom. 10:4; 8:4)
- To bring sin to completion – to put a stop to sin – to make an end of sins – to put an end to sin
The second statement in the NET was ‘bring sin to completion’.
The Holman has it ‘to put a stop to sin’.
The KJV has it ‘to make an end of sins’
The ESV both have ‘to put an end to sin’.
Again all are very similar, but the understanding of them can widely vary.
Most use the word ‘END’ in relation to sin. The word end literally means to seal. Like something locked up which could only be unlocked by the one who holds the key. That is also important!
As best as I have been able to determine, the word here for sin is in the singular. Again that has HUGE implications.
Not sins as in the varied and different manifestations of sin such as idolatry, lies, thief, sexual imputiry and such, but sin itself.
Sin in the singular is more focused upon the heart of man against the heart of God than it is with individual expressions of that heart.
Under the New Covenant “SIN” has been dealt with, even though we still have and commit individual actions of sins, SIN as a reality and a master of mankind has been nailed to the cross!
Rom. 6:1-18,“(1) What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? (2) Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (3) Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. (5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of His resurrection. (6) We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (7) (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.) (8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. (9) We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, He is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. (10) For the death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. (11) So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, (13) and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. (14) For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace. (15) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! (16) Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness? (17) But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, (18) and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.”
Gal. 3:19-29,“(19) Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary. (20) Now an intermediary is not for one party alone, but God is one. (21) Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. (22) But the scripture imprisoned everything under sin so that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe. (23) Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. (24) Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. (25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. (26) For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. (27) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.”
2Cor. 5:21, “God made the One Who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.”
And perhaps the one verse with touches on nearly all that Gabriel mentioned is 1Cor. 1:29&30,
“…no flesh should glory in His presence. But of God the Father you are in Christ Jesus, Who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—”
So sin has been ended or sealed up. Sin is often mentioned in scripture in close association with its wages – namely death or separation from God.
Revelation 1:12-18 tell us that it is Jesus Who holds the keys,
“(12) I turned to see Whose voice was speaking to me, and when I did so, I saw seven golden lampstands, (13) and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man. He was dressed in a robe extending down to His feet and He wore a wide golden belt around His chest. (14) His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and His eyes were like a fiery flame. (15) His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. (16) He held seven stars in His right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of His mouth. His face shone like the sun shining at full strength. (17) When I saw Him I fell down at His feet as though I were dead, but He placed His right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, (18) and the One Who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever – and I hold the keys of death and of Hades!”
Heb. 2:14-15,“(14) Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), (15) and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.”
This would seem to be THE way scripture represents sin as having been sealed up and brought to an end.
We will pick up here next week.