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Daniel (2010)

70 Weeks

Daniel 9

Lesson audio

Note:  the audio for this lesson is missing the first 15 minutes due to technical error.

The ninth chapter of the book of Daniel introduces us to the concept of the 70 weeks. As we shall see, these are broken down into specific periods. For those time frames we can see much of prophecy fulfilled and speculate on what is to come.

Preparing for Prayer

First things first: Daniel's prayer is instructed by his reading of the Scripture. In particular he has been reading the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, before told that the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years. This is an example of praying in God's will. If you want to be in God's will, you need to be in God's Word.

You will see below that Daniel pays attention. Note the phrase.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans-- in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,

(Daniel 9:1-4 NASB)

We see signs of Daniel's attention in two things:

  • Fasting, which is the denial of the body for the benefit of the spirit.
  • Sack cloth and ashes, which publicly proclaim that Daniel is in mourning for the sins of his people.
A prayer of

We may point out three characteristics of this prayer:

  • First, it is the prayer of a man to completely trusts in God. Jeremiah says 70 years; thus it shall be.
  • This is also a prayer of national repentance. This may seem strange to Christians in America, who are taught that individuals are all that counts. But we belong to a society, and therefore we have some responsibility for it.
  • It is a prayer of intercession. He is standing between the people of Israel and Almighty God.
Principles

As we read through this prayer, we will see certain principles which are completely contained therein:

  • The constant comparison between man and God.
  • The open confession of the national sins.
  • A plea which is based upon the character of God, not upon the desires of men.

High Prayer

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. "Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. "Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. "Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. "To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. "Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. "As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. "Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. "And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have been wicked.

(Daniel 9:4-15 NASB)

The character of God

If you read the passage in detail, you will discover certain characteristics of God which should be remembered in any prayer. Specifically:

  • God is great and awesome. We are so accustomed to Jesus in the phone booth with me that we forget the holy, awesome, sovereign God.
  • He keeps his covenant of love. First, this implies that he is one who keeps his word. Second he does so by means of the covenant. Recall that covenant is not the same thing as contract, but in fact its terms are given by God and therefore eternal. Finally, it is a covenant of love. Love is the very nature of God.
  • God is righteous. Indeed, it is the divine dilemma that God is both love and righteousness. This dilemma will not be finally solved until the Cross.
  • As part of his character of love, he is merciful and forgiving. It is upon that aspect of his character that Daniel will base his prayer.
Confession

Daniel's prayer begins with confession. He acknowledges these facts:

  • First, the nation has sinned and done wrong. There is no attempt to provide excuses just the admission of guilt.
  • The nation has been wicked and rebelled. Note that the rebellion implies the existence of righteous authority. In other words, Israel knew that what they were doing was wrong and in defiance of God.
  • They did not listen. In many ways God tempted to warn them. First, he gave them Moses and the Law. This was done in a most spectacular manner; you would think they might remember it. They didn't. So God sent them prophets, both to those in authority and to the common man. They did not listen to them either.

As a result, Daniel says that they are "covered with shame." It is an interesting phrase. I wonder how many Americans today look at this nation's ongoing rate of abortion and just shrug their shoulders. Does no one feel ashamed to live in a society where over 1 million innocent babies are slaughtered every year? Shame is essential to repentance, national or otherwise.

Result

Finally, Daniel makes it clear that the reason the Jews are him the position they are in is that they have defied the living God. It's their own stupid fault, as my mother used to say. And what mess are they in?

  • To begin with they are scattered throughout the nations of the world. This is an interesting parallel to what is happens the Jews since the time of Christ. It appears that God keeps his word even over thousands of years.
  • The judgments that God gave them in the law indeed happened to them.
  • In particular, Jerusalem and the Temple both have been destroyed. To the Jew, there is no greater disaster possible.

Petition

"O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. "So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. "O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name."

(Daniel 9:16-19 NASB)

We may now see Daniel's petitions. Just what does the man ask?

  • He begins by asking that God turn away from his anger and wrath. God is justifiably angry with the people of Israel; it is essential that this anger be deflected before any request can be made.
  • That said, his main request is for the restoration of the city of Jerusalem. In place in this is the resurrection of the Temple as well.
Why should God grant this request?

Daniel now gives us the reasons why God should grant this request:

  • God is righteous. In accordance with his commandments and laws he has dispersed the Jews throughout the area. But in that same commandments and law he tells them that if they repent and call upon his name he will restore them to the city of Jerusalem.
  • God is merciful. One must remember that mercy is dependent upon the existence of justice. You cannot be merciful to the prisoner at the bar until said prisoner has been convicted. But once there is a conviction, the righteous Judge may be merciful as is seen fit.
  • Perhaps most important: God will do it for the sake of his holy name. The Jews are his people; for those around them it is important to know that God is sovereign. In their state of disgrace this cannot possibly be clear. Therefore God will protect his reputation and be merciful at the same time.

We may now see the unusual answer to this prayer.

The vision of the weeks

Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. "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. "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. "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. "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, 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. "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."

(Daniel 9:20-27 NASB)

It is convenient to note that the 70 weeks referenced here can be divided into three time periods.

  • First, there is a period of seven weeks. Almost all commentators consider this a period of seven weeks of years, or 49 years. Virtually all commentators hold this to be the period during which Ezra and Nehemiah rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. Much ink has flowed over exactly when these dates must have happened; for our purposes it is sufficient to say this is the time in which Jerusalem was rebuilt.
  • Next comes the 62 weeks. Again most commentators are in agreement that this timeframe stretches from the completion of Jerusalem and the Temple to the time of Christ. The usual endpoint of the 62 weeks is the crucifixion; however there are various other schemes. The important thing for us is that the indeed the Messiah comes and is "cut " at this time.
  • Finally, there is the 70th week. This will take some more time.
Predecessor events

It is clear from history that the 70th week did not occur immediately after the time of Christ. We need to know when this week is going to begin; and the Scripture has given us a certain signs:

  • The Messiah will be "cut off.” This is generally taken to mean that Christ did not come into his earthly kingdom at this time. To be cut off usually implies that you have no children. This is a fact about Jesus Christ.
  • Next, the city and temple will be destroyed.
  • The people who will do this are the people of the "prince who is to come." We know from history that in A.D. 70 the Romans sacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. We also know that this was not the end of history. So most scholars conclude that we must look elsewhere for the 70th week of Daniel.
Signs of the end

Daniel also tells us that the end will come with a flood. This is usually taken in a metaphoric sense; you can ask Noah why. On the other hand we have no shortage of wars to fulfill that part of the prophecy.

The signal event is something that is called "the abomination of desolation." This has already been associated with another conqueror, Antiochus Epiphanes. But Jesus refers to this event in the future tense in Matthew 24. Therefore we should be looking for something like this as a sign that the end is near.

This has some interesting implications. For those who take the Scripture more literally, it means that the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt. Those who follow this view point to the directions for the construction of the millennial Temple given in the book of Ezekiel. Their view is that the Antichrist, whoever that might be, will strike a deal with many people and keep it for 3 1/2 years. Comparing this with other Scriptures, they conclude that this will be a time of tribulation, followed by the time of great tribulation. One thing is certain: the abomination of desolation, what ever that might be, is yet to come, clear to see, and the sign of just who is the Antichrist.

But take heart: just as this horror is prophesied, so also is prophesied the destruction of the Antichrist. Prophecy may be difficult to understand, and there are many theories about what prophecy means, but some things are easy to know. You see, we've read the back of the book. We know how it all turns out. Let me give you a hint: God wins.

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