Sunday, March 29, 2015
How Daniel's prophecy included Palm Sunday
Daniel 9:23-24 "At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. 24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, 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."
In today's post I want to give the reader a summary of one of, if not the most amazing prophecy in all the Bible - Daniel 9:23-27.1 It struck me that since today is Palm Sunday, Jesus' riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey was a matter of significant prophetic fulfillment. As we go through Daniel's prophecy, the reader will see how God orchestrated all of history to bring about Jesus' journey to the cross, and how He will orchestrate history to bring about Jesus' second coming.
A quick fly over of Daniel's seventy weeks - 3 main divisions
The prophet Daniel, writing some 600 or so years before Jesus' coming, speaks of God's Divine time table for Israel, prophecy and this world. The prophecy of Daniel 9:23-27, often termed "Daniel's seventy weeks", is regarded by many scholars to be the most amazing prophecy of God's Word.1 Daniel's prophecy reveals a 490 year period of time that constitutes God's Divine dealings with Israel in particular and the world in general. In all three particular divisions can be briefly noted about this prophecy:
1. Division #1 49 years (seven sevens) in Daniel 9:25. We know from secular history begins from Artaxerxes decree to rebuild Jerusalem on March 14, 445 b.c until its completion in 396 b.c. That first leg of the prophecy also roughly marks the end of the Old Testament era of Divine revelation, especially in Malachi.
2. Division #2 434 years (sixty two sevens) in Daniel 9:25. Again from a combination of predictive prophecy and secular historians we see Daniel speaking of the period of time extending between the testaments - the so-called "silent years". The "silent years" are called such because of God not revealing any new revelation nor inspiring any Bible books during that time. When the books of Malachi and Esther were finished, the Old Testament Canon closed. In this period of time (396 b.c to Jesus' days), four world empires arose and fell as predicted also by Daniel in his prophecies: Babylon-->Persia-->Greece-->Rome.
Whenever you add the 49 years (from 445 b.c-396 b.c) and 434 years (396 b.c. - 32 A.D) together, you arrive at a total of 483 years. Remarkably, Daniel's prophecy begins at the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in March 14, 445 b.c to Jesus' riding into Jerusalem on April 6, 32 A.D. Daniel 9:26 then predicts what is most likely the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on that same week! - "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing....". This particular part of the prophecy of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey was predicted in more detail in passages such as Zechariah 9:9. Christians today celebrate what is called "Palm Sunday" to commemorate this event of Jesus presenting Himself as King.
3. Division #3 The final "week" or seven years, i.e Daniel's seventieth week in Daniel 9:26b-27. This third division of Daniel's prophecy, thought the shortest portion in God's prophetic time clock, yet receives the most focus in the prophecies of scripture.
A more specific look at division #3 of the prophecy - Daniel's final 70th week or final seven years
As you look closer at the final "week" (seven years) of Daniel's prophecy, some details emerge. First of all, Daniel 9:26b gives a general statement about the final seven years of history - "and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined." In this general statement of Daniel's seventieth week in 9:26b we see six elements:
1. The people = The followers of the "prince"
2. The prince = He is coming and is different from the Messiah who was cut off - namely Jesus Christ.
3. The city = Jerusalem, the central city of the prophecy
4. The sanctuary = A temple that will exist in Jerusalem in this final seven year period. Most likely some sort of Jewish Temple built in the Tribulation period
5. Its end = the prophecy has an end point in mind, corresponding to the conclusion of God's prophetic 490 year period set for Israel in relationship to His judgment of the world
6. War = A final war will be waged with accompanying desolations or Divine judgments near the end of this seven year period of Daniel's seventieth week.
A very detailed look at the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel
Daniel 9:27 states - 27 "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” If we take the last three and one half years as the main focus of Daniel 9:27, we can note four elements of what is now a very detailed view of Daniel's seventieth week (seven years) and its latter half (3 1/2 years):
1. he - The Prince who comes and the same one spoken of in Daniel 9:26.
2. "firm covenant with the many for one week". The prince makes a peace covenant with the many, that is the Jews specifically and the world in general. The covenant is promised by the prince to last the entirety of the seven years spoken of by Daniel, however....
3. "middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice". Evidently there will be sacrifices occurring at this temple during this seven year period, however this prince will suddenly interrupt the ceremonies and break covenant with the people at the 3 1/2 year mark.
4. "will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed". The true character of this prince, called elsewhere in scripture "false Christ" (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:22); "the son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2); "anti-Christ" (1 John 2:18-19); "the beast" (Revelation 13-14), will blaspheme God and lead the whole world astray. 2 Thessalonians 2 summarizes the desolation spoken of here in Daniel, namely the true Christ, the Son of God, will destroy Anti-Christ, the prince, by the breath of His mouth.
Conclusions and applications
We have aimed to summarize what is perhaps the most amazing prophecy in the Bible - Daniel 9:23-27. First we noted its three main divisions which when added all together equal a 490 year period of time decreed by God for the Jewish people. Secondly, we noted how the prophecy focuses more closely on the third division, a final seven year period that has yet to occur and will include God's judgment on the world prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Thirdly we saw that the prophecy focuses even further on a figure called the Anti Christ who will make a covenant with the Jews for seven years, only to break that covenant mid-way and garner the wrath of God. Fourthly, we saw a few of the New Testament passages that utilize Daniel 9:23-27 in identifying this future archenemy of God's people and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The application of Daniel 9:23-27 is seen in two ways: first in how the passage describes the coming future judgment of God on this world, and how unbelievers need to believe and repent now. Secondly we see how accurate the scriptures are in their predictions and thirdly e see that God will keep His promises to His people the Jews, which of course means He will keep His promises to His people the church.
1. A very helpful chart to follow Daniel's prophecy can be found at http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/oldtesta/oldtes10.htm
2. A most recent example of this continuing trend is the current sermon series being preached by Dr. Robert Jeffress of 1st Baptist Dallas entitled: "The Perfect Ending", wherein He comments on Daniel 9:23-27.