Langenburg Evangelical Fellowship

Lifting Up Christ, Transformed by His Love; Serving Others

Langenburg Evangelical Fellowship - a small church in southern Saskatchewan which promotes authentic worship of God, is Christ-centered, and holds the Bible as being divinely inspired and authoritative.

 

Sundays
9:45 - Pre-Service Prayer
10:30 am - Worship Service (includes Sunday School for the children)

August 5, 2018
Daniel 9:1-19
The Effective, Fervent Prayer of a Righteous Man
Pastor Bryan Watson

Good morning. Let’s open our sermon time with a word of prayer:

Our scripture passage for this morning is Daniel 9:1-19. We’re going to go through and unpack this passage one verse at a time. But first, I need to set the stage a little bit for what I am about to speak about.

Daniel Chapter 9 is actually made up of two distinct parts. The first part, which we are going to look at today, is Daniel’s prayer for Israel. Daniel realizes that their time of captivity is nearly over, and as he takes a close look at his people, the Jews who were taken to Babylon, he realizes that they are not ready; that their hearts still aren’t right, and he prays one of the most profound prayers seen in all of scripture. It is a marvelous prayer, like the Old Testament’s version of Christ’s prayer in John 17. I think it’s unfortunate that many Bible teachers skim over Daniel’s prayer because they are in a race to get to the second part of Daniel 9, which is one of the most profound prophecies in all of scripture! I’ve heard scholars refer to the prophecy of verses 22-27 as the “swamp” of Biblical prophecy, where you can get bogged down and eaten by the alligators, if you will. But that’s the exciting, juicy part, and so that’s where scholars and preachers want to spend their time. And in doing so, they undervalue one of the greatest scripture passages that I have ever read: Daniel’s prayer in verses 1-19. This is especially true if you understand the context of the world events that Daniel is witnessing as he says this prayer. So, I’m going to resist the temptation to go straight for the juicy steak, and instead, we are going to spend our time this morning savoring the salad and the vegetables of this very weighty scriptural feast called Daniel Chapter 9.

An interesting personal observation is that the longer I study Daniel, and the better I understand it, the more I find myself relating to what Daniel is going through. Having read and studied Daniel’s prayer many times since I started this journey through Daniel, and especially since I started preparing this message, I can tell you that there has been a sense of heaviness, or a spiritual burden, if you will, that has been bothering me since I started this in earnest. It’s been a heaviness of heart that can’t really be explained in words, other than that I felt my spirit crying out with Daniel for the fallen state of his people, except that in my case, I am looking at our apostate Western Christian culture, our apathetic country, and my own disobedience and rebellion. And I am moved to repent, and confess, and fall on His mercy. I thank God that I have the privilege of looking to the Cross! It’s my prayer today that I can convey some of this to you in a way that makes this passage make sense. So let’s begin.

1 - In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—

So Daniel sets the stage for us in that it is the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, who, as we learned earlier, was the proxy king set on the throne by Cyrus the Great, the Persian King who recently conquered Babylon. It’s 539 or 538 BC, and Darius, who was one of Cyrus’ generals, had only recently overthrown Babylon without even firing a shot on the night of Belshazzar’s drunken feast; the night of the Handwriting on the Wall. It’s unclear at the time of Daniel’s prayer whether or not he had already experienced the Lions’ Den, as it is still the first year of Darius’ reign. So maybe the lions’ den incident had already happened, or maybe it was still yet to happen. The scripture isn’t clear on that point.

We know through our previous studies that Daniel was a very intelligent. He was a young Noble from Judah when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar at age 15. He was very well educated in Babylon, even rising to the position of Prime Minister of the nation as a captive! He could speak multiple languages and had the ability to interpret dreams and visions. And he always remained faithful to his God, even preferring to be eaten alive by lions than to give up his devotion to prayer.

Given those character traits, I think it’s safe to assume that Daniel was also well versed in the Hebrew scriptures of the day. For certain, Daniel would have been familiar with the book of Isaiah. Approximately 200 years earlier Isaiah prophesied about Cyrus the Great in, the following passages:

Isaiah 44:28 - Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” ’

And

Isaiah 45:1,4 - “Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have [a]held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:

4 For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.

Quite honestly, that probably didn’t make a lot of sense to people 200 years earlier. Perhaps Isaiah himself even wondered about this message that he was told to write. But imagine what must have been going through Daniel’s mind, as the Prime Minister of Babylon, seeing this foreign power rising up with a young leader by name of Cyrus… the very name that Daniel would have known from reading a 200 year old scroll from Isaiah. What must Daniel have thought as he was given the vision of the Bear, the Medo-Persians, taking over from the Lion, the Babylonians, coupled with his knowledge of Isaiah’s writings about Cyrus being the one to free the Jews and allow the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Imagine his excitement as the Medo-Persian army under the rule of a king named Cyrus encamped around the walls of Babylon while Belshazzar drank the night away, defiling the holy temple treasures of God. He must have barely been able to contain himself when Belshazzar summoned him to interpret the writing on the wall.

And so Daniel, in this first year of the reign of Darius, and by extension, Cyrus, is well aware that God is moving in the history of Jews. And so he prays…

Verse 2 - in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Here we have Daniel, faithful student of God’s Word that he is, meticulously studying the writings of Jeremiah. You may recall from my first sermon in this series on Daniel, that I had mentioned that Jeremiah would have been at the height of his preaching as a prophet when Daniel was still a boy. We know that after the initial wave of captives had been taken to Babylon, Jeremiah, before he was kidnapped and taken to Egypt, sent a letter to them from Jerusalem. We know this because we read in Jeremiah 29:1, “Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.”

So Daniel is reading from this letter some 67 years after the captivity began and the letter was written. How many times he would have read these words, I don’t know. I can well imagine that the scroll upon which it was written was well worn and faded by now. But let me read for you now some of the words of this letter that Daniel would have been reading. Perhaps they will sound familiar to you:

Jeremiah 29:10-14, “10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”

Isn’t it amazing how scripture fits together? How many times have I read that passage in Jeremiah without recognizing that it was a letter to the captives in Babylon, and that Daniel himself read it and was motivated by it to offer up one of the greatest prayers in history?

Based on this passage, Daniel understands that Jeremiah prophesied that the captivity would last for 70 years. Daniel does the math and realizes that they are approximately 67 years into the 70-year captivity decreed by God, and since he was already faithful to prayer, Daniel heeds Jeremiah’s call to seek the Lord in prayer, and so we continue with verse 3:

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”

Daniel knew in his heart that the Jews weren’t ready in their hearts to return. And so he fervently intercedes for his people. This wasn’t just a flippant prayer, as in, “I’ll pray for you and all that stuff,” and then he never does it. No, Daniel fasts, and clothes himself in sackcloth and ashes, and he prepares to repent on behalf of his people.

Verses 4-6 - And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.

Daniel begins his prayer to God with adoration and confession. Daniel recognizes God’s power, and acknowledges God’s character of being a covenant keeper, and being merciful to those who obey Him. Daniel confesses that Israel, and by extension, Judah, have been disobedient and rebellious. He includes himself in the confession of guilt, using the pronoun “we” several times, interceding for his people and recognizes that the Jews as a whole, including himself, have rebelled.

This view of the apostasy and rebellion of the Jews is supported by 2 Chronicles 36:15-17, 15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand.

With the guilt of Israel in mind, Daniel continues his prayer.

Verses 7-12 - 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.

Daniel recognized that the curses of Deuteronomy 28 had come upon the Jews because of their wicked rebellion. The chickens finally came home to roost. One thing we know about God is that He always keeps His promises. For those of us who have made Christ our Lord and Saviour, we can take comfort in that. For those who have not made Christ their Saviour, the fact that God keeps His promises should be cause for great concern.

Continuing his prayer, Daniel says in verses 13-15…

Verses 13-15 - 13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary says it best: “It was more important for God to retain His integrity and uphold His moral law than for His guilty people to escape the consequences of their infidelity. Had God not fulfilled His word of judgment, little credence could be placed in His word of grace.”[ CITATION Bar94 \l 1033 ]

Verses 16-19 - 16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake [a]cause Your face to shine on [b]Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 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 do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

Daniel acknowledges that it is because of the sin of the people down through generation after generation that Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Jewish people themselves are in this bleak situation. He readily points out that by their own merit they cannot be saved, because they have no merit to point to. Instead, it is entirely by God’s mercy that they can be redeemed, and it is for God’s own glory that they should be redeemed. “For Your own sake,” says Daniel. “For the city which is called by Your name, and for the people which are called by Your name.” Daniel’s concern is for God’s glory and the reputation of God’s name. I think that this is what praying in God’s will means. Daniel did not want pagan nations to look upon the ruins of Jerusalem and the plight of the Jews and conclude that God either didn’t exist, didn’t care, or wasn’t powerful enough to look after them. He knew through the prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah that God desired to return His people to the land He had promised them. And Daniel knew that the time was near, but that the people would not be ready, willing, or able unless the Lord empowered them to be so.

In my next message in this series, which will cover the remainder of Chapter 9, we will see whether or not God heard Daniel’s prayer, and if He did, what did He do about it? But I’ll give you a hint: the title of my sermon is taken directly from James 5:16b – “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” That should give you a clue as to whether or not God gave a response to Daniel.

But as for this passage that we have studied this morning, what is the relevance to us today?

First, we are to be active participants in God’s work, through prayer and intercession. Lehman Strauss, in his book, “The Prophecies of Daniel”, writes “There are three significant ninth chapters in the Old Testament, all of them containing a prayer of a similar nature: Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9. In each instance a servant of God was on his knees before the Word of God, earnestly interceding for the people of God. The Old Testament prophets did not sit in a passive state waiting for a revelation from God through a dream, a vision or a voice. They… spent time in prayer searching for the message and meaning of prophecy.”

Second, we are to understand that God keeps His promises. As I have already mentioned, in Deuteronomy Chapter 2, God clearly laid out to his people the blessings for obedience, and the curses for disobedience. In Deuteronomy 30:19, Moses says to the people, ”‘I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;’”

Over the course of generations, the people made the wrong choice, and God was faithful and just to deal with them accordingly. Yet multiple times in the Old Testament, we read that God is slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and that is why generations went by before God finally sent His people into exile.

And today, we have the choice of believing another of God’s promises, from John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We know that God keeps His promises… which promises will He keep for you? Life, through faith in Christ? Or exile and separation from God forever? If you would like to be certain of God’s promise of life to you, then come and see me after the service. I’d love to have a chance to speak with you.

Third, we are to spend time diligently seeking truth through the reading of God’s Word. Daniel was as faithful to the attention to scripture as he was to prayer, and that is why he recognized the times that he was living in. Through Isaiah, he knew that Cyrus would come to power and free the Jews. Through Jeremiah, he knew that it would be a 70-year captivity, and that it was almost over.

Are we reading the Bible? And if we are, are we just skimming the words on the page while we are thinking about what’s for dinner? This is God’s message to us. If the Queen of England made a personal long distance call to you, would you take the call? Would you listen to what she had to say? If you had a handwritten letter to you from Winston Churchill, would you read it? Would you have parts of it memorized? Listen, we have a handwritten letter to us from the God of the Universe, the Creator of Your DNA! What good does it do if it’s collecting dust on a shelf, or hidden in a drawer somewhere? Bring it out and read it. If you have trouble understanding it, come and ask me or Pastor Dennis, and we’ll help you get the help you need to understand it. If you don’t have a Bible, but would like one, come and speak with me. I’ll make sure you get one. But don’t miss out on this message to you. It is the roadmap to Salvation; the Recipe for Life!

Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

August 19, 2018
Daniel 9:20-27
The Math Problem of the Ages:  Daniel's Algebra Lesson
Pastor Bryan Watson

Good morning. Our scripture passage for this morning is Daniel 9:20-27. As I’ve done before, I’m going to go through this passage one verse at a time. But before we do that, I would like us to go to the Lord in prayer. Let’s pray.

I’ve called this message, “The Math Problem of the Ages: Daniel’s Algebra Lesson”. This passage of Daniel covers a prophecy that is made up of 7 sevens, 62 sevens, and 1 seven, for a total of 70 sevens. Hence, the math problem of the ages. And since the science of Algebra actually originated with the Babylonians, I thought the title was very fitting!

The last time I was up here, I spoke from the first part of Daniel, chapter 9, in which Daniel prays and intercedes for the Jewish people, and the nation of Israel. Daniel realized that the end of the captivity was nearly over as prophesied by Jeremiah and Isaiah, and so he was praying to God for forgiveness and guidance for the people.

Before we get into the text, there’s something I want to say about this passage. There are several differing views on the interpretation of this prophecy, which all seem to have some merit. There are scholars whom I respect and admire very much, who differ with each other regarding this passage.

So, I have decided that while I may touch briefly on the different views, I am not going to confuse the issue by simply giving you a bunch of different viewpoints and leaving it there. I will tell you what I believe, and give you evidence for why I believe it. And I have confidence that God will clarify it for us as time goes on. That is why I reserve the right to modify my view as I learn more, and as history unfolds.

It’s kind of like the debate I saw when we first moved back to this area. Should cabbage rolls be made large with ground beef and tomato sauce, or tiny with sour cabbage and rice? The Great Cabbage Roll War has waged on since our Grandmas wore pig tails. But while we differ on what makes a cabbage roll great, we can all agree that cabbage rolls are good, and in that, find unity. It’s not like mincemeat at all. Mincemeat is clearly poison to the tongue and needs to be avoided.

The point I am trying to make is that no matter which view of prophecy we hold to, the key is to be ready for Christ’s return, or own last day, and we can all agree that faith in Christ and obedience to His teachings is the only way to do that.

So with that, let’s unpack this passage verse by verse.

20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God,

For context, we are reminded that Daniel is still actually in prayer at this time. He has not finished, and yet something is about to happen.

21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.

We see a couple of interesting things in this verse. First, Gabriel came in answer to Daniel’s prayer while Daniel was still praying. Gabriel flew swiftly. God hears our prayers immediately and it was a matter of urgency for Gabriel to arrive on the scene with an answer for Daniel.

The second thing we notice about this verse is that Gabriel appears to Daniel at the time of the evening sacrifice. How would Daniel know this? Daniel is almost 90 years old, and he hadn’t seen an evening sacrifice since he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar when he was 15 years old! But Daniel was faithful in prayer and obedience, even in a pagan foreign land, praying towards Jerusalem 3 times a day for over 70 years. His faithfulness reminded him of the sacrifices for all those decades.

22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.

Some scholars have assumed that Daniel did not understand the prophecy, but I think they are wrong. Here is a highly intelligent and capable, faithful servant, who is given a direct message from God by the hand of an archangel, who specifically says, “I have come to give you skill to understand,” and scholars think that Daniel didn’t understand? Is God a liar? Is an archangel incapable of fulfilling the instruction of his God? Daniel understood. It is we who have problems with wisdom and understanding. Not Daniel.

23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:

Gabriel calls Daniel “greatly beloved.” Only one other person was referred to like that: the Apostle John. It’s probably no coincidence that both men received major prophetic visions.

At the very beginning of Daniel’s prayer, God gave the command to provide the answer. But we shouldn’t be surprised by that. In Matthew 6:8, Jesus tells His disciples, “8 ‘… your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.’”

Daniel is commanded to “consider the matter.” He is told to spend time thinking about it. Studying it. Understanding it. Exactly the things we should be doing with our Bibles!

24 “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city,
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.

The prophecy specifically relates to the Jews and Jerusalem. In the original Hebrew, the word used refers to a group of seven. So, seventy “sevens” are determined. In English, it has been translated to “weeks”. Seventy “weeks” are determined. Most scholars agree that this means seventy “weeks of years” or seventy “groups of seven years” which equates to 490 years for the prophecy.

God lists 6 things that must be completed before the prophecy is considered complete, which most scholars ascribe to the end of history. The first three regard cleansing from sin. The last three regard bringing in righteousness. Let’s look at these things:

 

  1. To Finish the Transgression

Personally, I believe that this work was completed at the Cross. Prophesying about the first coming of Christ, Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions…” (ESV). Isaiah 53:8 tell us, “For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.” When Christ does a work, it is complete. For all those who have put their faith in Christ, the transgression is finished. However, because the prophecy was specifically directed to Daniel’s people (Israel), and Israel as a nation rejected Him, many scholars believe that regarding this first item, while the work was completed at the Cross, the fulfillment won’t be completed until the Second Coming of Christ, and the nation of Israel acknowledges Christ as the Messiah.

 

  1. To Make an End of Sins

If you look around at the world today, it’s obvious that sin still occurs. Once glance at the nightly news confirms that. Even our own lives consist of a daily pattern of sin, repentance, and forgiveness. To me, the repentance and the forgiveness are what lead me to believe that this, too was completed by Christ at the Cross. In Matthew 1:21, the angel says to Joseph, “21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Isaiah 53:5 says that “…He was crushed for our iniquities…”

Hebrews 9:26 says, 26 …but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

His death paid the complete price for our sins, if we accept that and make Him the Lord of our life. Again, while scholars agree that Christ completed this work at the Cross, many scholars believe that this second item won’t be completed until the Second Coming of Christ, and the nation of Israel acknowledges Christ as the Messiah.

 

  1. To Make Reconciliation for Iniquity

The words “sin” and “iniquity” are used interchangeably among many translations of the Bible. Looking again at Isaiah 53:5, we read, “…He was crushed for our iniquities…”

Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 4:22, The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no longer send you into captivity…

Romans 5:10 says, 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Yet again, in a repeating pattern, scholars agree that Christ completed this work at the Cross, yet many scholars believe that this third item won’t be completed until the Second Coming of Christ, and the nation of Israel acknowledges Christ as the Messiah.

 

  1. To Bring In Everlasting Righteousness

This is a clear reference to Christ’s second coming. Although righteousness was made possible by Christ’s death at Calvary, establishing everlasting righteousness on earth is made possible only when Christ establishes Himself as King Jesus at His second coming.

Isaiah 51:6 says - Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.

And 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

And Jeremiah 23:5-6 - 5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

 

  1. To Seal Up the Vision and Prophecy

When I was researching this statement, I discovered that a lot of faithful men who are smarter than I am didn’t really know what to do with this statement. At first, I was bothered by that, but I soon felt relief knowing that I was in good company.

I believe that the best interpretation for this statement is that it refers to the perfect completion of all messianic prophecies, in the person of Jesus Christ. And even then, this statement itself is a twofold prophecy. First, Christ’s work as Saviour was complete at the Cross.

While Jesus was still on the Cross, John 19:28-30 says, “28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

In Luke 24:44-45, After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and said to them, 44 “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

Second, Christ’s work as Lord and King will be complete at the end of history, and the ushering in of eternity.

In Revelation 21, the Apostle John sees a prophecy of a new heaven and a new earth. Beginning in verse 5 we read, 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End…”
 

  1. To Anoint The Most Holy

Again, scholars are divided on whether this refers to a temple, such as will be found in the New Jerusalem at the end of history, or whether it refers to Christ. I believe that the best interpretation as that this refers to the glorified Christ.

In Luke 4:17-21, Jesus is in the synagogue. We read, “17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”


20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

In Hebrews 1:8-9, we read what is actually a direct quote from Psalm 45:6-7. 8 But to the Son He says:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

All 6 of these things need to be accomplished in their entirety before the seventy weeks are completed.

25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

Verse 25 refers to a total of 69 weeks, broken into two segments. 7 weeks, and 62 weeks. Remember, the word that is translated “weeks” is actually “groups of seven”, so this actually refers to 7 groups of 7 years (49 years) and 62 groups of 7 years (434 years), for a total of 483 years.

The time period begins with the command to restore and build Jerusalem, and ends with “Messiah the Prince.”

There were actually 4 decrees concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple:

  1. Cyrus in 538 BC (Ezra 1:1-4) (Temple only)

  2. Darius in 517 BC (Ezra 6:1-12) (Temple only)

  3. Artaxerxes in 458 BC (Temple only)

  4. Artaxerxes in 445 BC (Nehemiah 1:1-4) (Temple and city)

Nehemiah states that this last decree occurred in the month of Nisan. Converting to our modern calendar, we a date of approximately March 14, 445 BC as the approximate date of the decree to build Jerusalem and the temple.

The first group of seven “weeks of years” or 49 years, likely resulted in the completion of this construction work. And if you recall from Brendon Galger’s sermons on Nehemiah, you will recall that the rebuilding wasn’t without difficulty. It happened in “troublesome times.”

The second part of this time period is the 62 “weeks of years” or 434 years, until “Messiah the Prince.” This is a clear reference to Jesus. The reference to “Messiah the Prince” fits best with Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as identified in Zechariah 9:9 9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

So this total of “7 weeks and 62 weeks” or “49 years and 434 years” takes us from March, 445 BC to April, 32 AD. I don’t know if these dates are 100% perfect, but they align extremely well with what we know about the approximate time of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; 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.

  • Messiah shall be cut off. This is a clear reference to Christ’s crucifixion. Isaiah 53:8 says, “8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.”

  • And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. This is referring to a future destruction of the city and sanctuary… not the one that happened under Nebuchadnezzar. But we have the gift of history. Who destroyed the city and the sanctuary? The Romans did in 70 AD. “The prince who is to come” is a reference to the coming Antichrist. And if the Romans are the people of the “prince who is to come” then we can deduce that the Antichrist will come from a revived Roman Empire, which is consistent with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue in Daniel 2, and Daniel’s own vision of the four beasts in Daniel 7.

  • The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. This statement bears a striking resemblance to Christ’s Olivet Discourse, where Jesus is talking about the signs of the end of the age. For example, in Matthew 24:7-8, we read “7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

    • This all happens after the 69th week, but before the 70th week. Most scholars agree that there is a pause, a gap of time of unknown length, between the 69th and 70th weeks of this prophecy. This is commonly called the “Church Age” and is the time period that we are living in now. We do not know with certainty when the Church Age will end and the 70th week will begin. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:42, “42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

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. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

The most commonly accepted interpretation of this verse is that the “he” refers to the “coming prince”, or the Antichrist. This evil world ruler will form an agreement with Israel for “one week”, or 7 years. The first half of this 7 year period will be relatively peaceful, but half-way through, the Antichrist will do something to bring an end to the Jewish practice of sacrifice and offering. Most likely, he will defile some future Jewish temple, similar to the way Antiochus Epiphanes did in Daniel 8. In Matthew 24:15-16, Jesus Himself said, 15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

So, what does all this mean for us today?

  1. Be Ready. If we are truly living in the Church Age between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel’s prophecy, then we truly don’t know when the 70th week will begin. We need to always be ready for Christ’s return. It’s worth repeating. Matthew 24:42, “42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

  2. Be Hopeful. We know that in the end, God wins. Biblical prophecy has proven itself correct time and time again. One day, Christ will rule and reign forever.

  3. Be Confident. As David Jeremiah says, “When we don’t fear tomorrow, we can confidence today. The hearts of many are failing because they don’t know God’s prophetic story.”

  4. Share the Good News. People today are full of despair when they watch the nightly news. “What is this world coming to?” they ask, because the don’t know. But we do know. And we can give them hope in the One Who holds the whole world in His hands.  Amen. 

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