In this little series we have been looking forward to the coming of God’s Kingdom here on earth, but before we get to what that might look like, we have been taking a journey through the book of Daniel at the dreams, visions, and prophecies contained therein.
In Part Two we looked specifically at the vision of the ram and the goat, which the interpretation of provided us with a key for understanding the identity of two of the kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, as well as both of Daniel’s visions. In this part we will look at something which is neither dream nor vision but, instead, is the direct word of God, albeit spoken through one of His chief messengers, the angel Gabri’el.
Incidentally, a brief word on angels, although only two angels are actually mentioned by name in the entire Bible (this may suprise you – many esoteric teachings claim to know the names of other angels but it is all speculation), there are simply millions of them. The two that are mentioned are Gabri’el and Micha’el. You may wonder why I punctuate their names like this with an apostrophe. The apostrophe denotes to whom they belong – in both cases, they belong to God, hence the suffix of ‘el, which is a compacted version of one of the titles of God, Elohim. Gabri’el is literally Man of God – Gaber’Elohim, whilst Micha’el is literally Who is Like God? – Mika’Elohim.
What makes Daniel’s next encounter with an angel different from what we had described previously is that Daniel (Judgement Belongs to God – Dani’Elohim) wasn’t asking for wisdom or understanding to something he had already seen. Instead, he was simply praying. Well, perhaps not simply praying. Daniel was actually pleading for the nation of Isra’el (Contends with God – Yisra’Elohim) after finding the scroll of the prophet Jeremiah. Contained within the scroll was God’s judgement upon the nation of Isra’el which Jeremiah had delivered over seventy years previously and which the Hebrews chose to ignore. When Daniel read the scroll (you can find what he read in Jeremiah chapter 25), he realized that the seventy years of Babylonian captivity was actually up, and so he set about pleading with God to bring about their release. I won’t publish Daniel’s prayer here – you can read it for yourself in Daniel 9:4-19. I only mention it now because it adds some context to what followed. Please take note – praying in this way isn’t some formula for getting a message or prophecy from God.
Whilst Daniel was still in prayer Gabri’el appeared before him and explained that he had been sent to help Daniel understand what was to follow. Daniel hadn’t asked for anything other than for God to act upon His promise. Here’s what Gabri’el said to Daniel:
“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.
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, and after sixty two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the prince of the people who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and until the end of the war desolations are determined.
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.” [Daniel 9:24-27 NKJV]
Right, there is a lot to get through here so let’s break it down and see if we can unravel all the nonsense that has been added to this speech of Gabri’el.
The first point which needs to be made, which will help to understand it clearly, is where our translation reads the word ‘week‘, it comes from the Hebrew word ‘shabua‘, which means period of seven. Now, it can mean seven days, but it can also mean seven months or seven years. It is likely that when Daniel heard these words that he had no real idea of what the ‘period of seven’ was actually referring to. Remember, he had just been praying about the people of Isra’el being restored to Jerusalem and suddenly there is Gabri’el telling him that a command will be going forth which will start the process of restoring the city of Jerusalem. However, with the benefit of the passing of time, we are able to understand exactly what the period of seven refers to because we can identify the command to rebuild Jerusalem from the book of Nehemiah, which shows us that the ‘seventy weeks’ are actually seventy weeks (or sevens) of years.
So, the first paragraph tells us that God has determined a total of 490 years, that is seventy lots of seven years, for the following items to be completed:
- To finish transgression (not completed).
- To make an end of sins (not completed).
- To make reconciliation for iniquity (completed).
- To bring in everlasting righteousness (not completed).
- To seal up vision and prophecy (not completed).
- To anoint the Most Holy (completed).
Let’s work through them in order so that we can be sure of their meaning.
- To Finish Transgression – Remember that this is Gabri’el giving a message from God, Himself. The use of the word transgression doesn’t mean sin – that is covered in the next line. The Hebrew word from which we get transgression is pasha, which actually means to rebel. To rebel implies that there is something to rebel against. In the context of Isra’el this line is saying that these seventy weeks of years have been determined by God to allow Isra’el to get all their rebelling done. It doesn’t mean that God is going to stop all rebellion, but rather that there is a limit to the amount of time in which Isra’el will continue to rebel against Yehovah. The prophecies of Isaiah show that God had pronounced over Isra’el, because of their stubborn hearts and their unwillingness to walk in His ways, that they would be ever seeing but not perceiving, and ever hearing but not understanding (See Isaiah 6:9). Before the end of the seventy weeks of years, this spiritual blindness and deafness will be lifted from them, giving them the ability to cease their rebellion and start to act upon God’s word once more.
- To Make An End Of Sins – Whilst transgressions relate to Isra’el’s response to what God has said, sins are the result of what happened in the Garden of Eden, when all men became sinful. During the final part of the seventy weeks of years, when Yeshua returns to Jerusalem, He will do away with sin. Now, this is a difficult prospect to grasp because we know from the book of Revelation that the sinful nature of man will continue for the thousand year reign before the judgement of the world is complete. Whilst I have no desire to intellectualize or explain the process that might take place, here’s how my little brain gets its way around the issues: In the Garden, when there was no sin, before Adam and Eve ate from the tree and realized that they were naked, I like to think that they couldn’t see their fleshy bodies, only their spiritual ones. What happened when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is that the death which God had warned them of if they did was, in fact, a spiritual death. At that moment their perfect spiritual bodies died and faded from their view and they were no longer able to see into the spiritual or heavenly realm. They noticed their fleshy bodies for the first time and realized that they were naked. Over the course of time, the more mankind has sinned, the more he has become fleshy. When salvation comes to us and we are converted, at that moment we are spiritually reborn. When Yeshua returns, those who know Him will be able to ‘see’ both the earthly physical realm and the spiritual realm. Sin only exists in the flesh. It is the flesh that is sinful. When He returns, Yeshua will put an end to sins by converting us into spiritual beings. For those of us who are alive when He returns, once we are converted, we will have no need for our fleshy bodies. For those who are already dead in Christ, they will rise with their new spiritual bodies. There is no place for sin in His coming Kingdom. If there is no flesh, then no sin can exist.
- To Make Reconciliation For Iniquity – It is clear from all of Christ’s teaching, the Old Testament prophets, and the teaching that followed from the apostles, that Yeshua’s sacrifice on the cross reconciled all men to God. That is to say that the punishment that was due to each of us for our past sins, or iniquities, was taken by Him. This means that men are no longer estranged from God because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, but are now reconciled to Him through the cross. This also means that because all men are now reconciled to God, it is not their sins upon which they will be judged, but rather their response to the good news of the cross. You will notice that whilst this line of the prophecy is fulfilled, the line which preceded it, as well as the line which follows it are yet to be fulfilled. This shows that the nature of prophecy is exactly what God wants it to be and rarely follows the kind of chronology that man expects.
- To Bring In Everlasting Righteousness – In chapter 31 of Jeremiah we see the nature of the New Covenant. Clearly, we are not in the New Covenant as of yet. There exists, in this current age, two types of righteousness – self-righteousness, which men like to think they can achieve by strict observance of rules and traditions; or true righteousness which can only come from God. This true righteousness is given by God only when we exercise true faith in Him. However, that is currently achieved by us believing, even though we cannot see. When the Christ returns, we will all see Him and therefore righteousness will flow freely from His throne of grace because we will all believe. There will be no more doubt.
- To Seal Up Vision And Prophecy – When all of God’s purposes are achieved in the seventy weeks of years, He will close the book on vision and prophecy. It will have no further purpose. Vision and prophecy has been the method by which God has spoken to His people at times. This particular purpose of the seventy weeks of years has been partly fulfilled – see Hebrew 1:1. However, whilst there will be no new visions and prophecies regarding the Christ, we can expect either in the days leading up to His return, and in the final days before the thousand year reign, He will pour our His Spirit on ‘all flesh’ just as the prophecy in Joel chapter two suggests. What happened in Acts chapter two was just a sample of what is to come before His kingdom is established fully upon the earth.
- To Anoint The Most Holy – The name Christ is the Greek word for anointed. It literally means to smear with oil. This brings us to the Old Testament practice we see in the books of Samuel when the priest anoints David as king by smearing him with oil. Clearly, the symbolism found in that act points to the coming of Yeshua. Oil is used as symbolism for the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. Yeshua’s anointing took place when the Holy Spirit settled upon Him after His baptism by John. The Hebrew word for anointed is Mashiyach, from which we get the word Messiah.
That covers the purposes of the seventy weeks of years. Now we can look at some of the timings for these things. The benefit of hindsight has enabled us to calculate several key events and tie them in the prophecy. Daniel, however, had no idea about the timescale over which Gabri’el was talking.
The command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem we can find clearly in the book of Nehemiah. We know that Daniel was visited by Gabri’el in 539 BC but it was another 93 years before work started on rebuilding the city. Now, we mustn’t get confused about this because the Temple was rebuilt first but the prophecy from Gabri’el was clear – the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. You can find the record of the rebuilding of the Temple in the books of Zechariah, Haggai, and in parts of Ezra.
In 446 BC, whilst in the service of the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, Nehemiah was prompted by God to ask to be released to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. The king obliged and even paid for the work. This is the starting point for Gabri’el’s time line. Now, there is some difficulty to overcome when dealing with ‘years’ from a Hebrew perspective – these are lunar years which are spoken of. A lunar year is (basically) calculated on a 360 day cycle, not a 365 day cycle. Gabri’el splits the seventy weeks of years into three sections. The first is ‘seven sevens’, that is 7 x 7 years which equals 49 years. Then there is a period of ‘sixty-two sevens’, which is 434 years. And finally, there is to be a final ‘seven’ which is yet to be fulfilled and is often referred to as Jacob’s Trouble or the Great Tribulation.
We know that the first ‘seven’ refers to the period of time between 446 and 397 BC, when Nehemiah was sent to rebuild Jerusalem. The ‘sixty-two sevens’ refer to the period from the dedication of the Temple and the reading of the Law by Ezra which took place in 396 BC and runs up until the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on what people wrongly refer to as Palm Sunday (it was actually a Saturday but I won’t get into that here. Read Lost in Translation). How do we know? Because if we strip it down from lunar years into days we get 17,640 days for the first ‘seven’, and 156,240 for the ‘sixty-two sevens’, which gives us a total of 173,880 days which we know have been fulfilled. The first ‘seven’ was covered in the 49 years between 446 and 397 BC. The ‘sixty-two sevens’ started on “the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius” (Ezra 6:15). Oddly enough, if you take that date of 1st March 397 BC as the starting point and count forward 156,240 days, you come to Nisan 10 (April 2nd, AD 33), which was four days before Passover that year and the day on which Christ rode into Jerusalem. My point is this – the Hebrews could add up too. They knew when to expect the coming Messiah from the prophecy in Daniel chapter nine. On that day, that very day, they were expecting the Messiah. That is why Yeshua was welcomed by everyone when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Their coming king. The prophecy said that from the command to restore Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince there would be a total of 173,880 days. That is exactly how long it was from Nehemiah being given permission until Yeshua presented Himself at the Temple for inspection on the very day in which the lambs were inspected four days before the Passover! God is always exact.
The prophecy continues by saying that after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off, which was clearly fulfilled in His crucifixion. The line that follows shows that He acted selflessly in being sacrificed. Then we have a very misunderstood line, one which has led to the myth that the anti-Christ will come from Rome.
The line says:
“And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
Because it was under the rule of the Roman Emperor Titus that Jerusalem was razed to the ground in AD 70, speculation has long grown that the ‘prince who is to come‘ (in other words, the anti-Christ) will also be a Roman. However, knowing what we know now about the identity of the beasts, or kingdoms to come, we can safely rule out Rome as being the seat of the anti-Christ.
This means that the destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple, which took place in AD 70 was not to be the final time such dreadful events are scheduled to take place. A third temple will have to be built in order for it to be destroyed and the events predicted in both Daniel and Revelation regarding the ‘abomination that causes desolation‘ are fulfilled. The lines of the prophecy help us to understand how the building of a third temple, which may appear an impossibility in today’s political climate, might be achieved.
“The he (the anti-Christ) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week (of years); but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” (My brackets)
This covenant is likely to be a Middle East Peace Deal. Part of that deal will allow the Hebrews to build a third temple on Temple Mount. This is really important. The anti-Christ will not only fool the Hebrews into thinking that the peace deal he offers will last, but he will also fool Hebrews and Christians alike into believing that his counterfeit religion is the true faith.
It is worth noting, at this point, that Judaism and Christianity are not the only two monotheistic faiths who have their own eschatology. Islam also has prophecy for the end times. Islam teaches that at the end their Madhi – their messiah, will appear with great signs and wonders and reveal that both the Hebrews and the Christians got it wrong. Their Madhi will reveal Allah as the one true god. In fact, when you look closely at the Muslim eschatology, you can’t help but noticing that the Madhi is described in many of the same ways as the Bible describes the anti-Christ. We will cover this subject in greater detail in the next part of this series. For now, know this – what lies ahead, in the fulfilment of the Seventy Weeks prophecy, is the greatest work of deception that the world will ever see. Hebrews will be convinced that the Madhi is Elijah or the Mashiyach; Christians will accept him as a returned Christ. Peace will reign in the entire Levant region which will add strength to the deception, and then, the anti-Christ will set about the time of Jacob’s trouble. He will round up the nation of Isra’el and either sell them into slavery or kill them completely. Jerusalem will be laid waste and the third temple destroyed. At the end, at the very end, when all realized the extent of the deception, the nation of Isra’el will call upon the name of Yehovah. He will respond by sending His salvation. His salvation can only be found in the person of Yeshua, the Messiah.
Until next time.