“I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” (Jer. 31:36 NLT)
“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4)
Studying God’s prophecies in the book of Daniel (and in other prophetic books) about His plans for the future good of Israel (and the good future for all believers) can build our faith in the assurance of His Word (many have already come true and all will come true) and give us an eternal perspective so we can live our daily lives for what really matters. No one exemplifies the futility of living for this world rather than for God’s purposes more than King Solomon who said: “I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Eccl. 1:14) But he learned the lesson and warns all of us not to do likewise and concludes his book with words of wisdom: “Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Eccl. 12:13-14) As C. S. Lewis says, the more heavenly-minded we are the more earthly good we will be, for Christ’s sake, which is the only thing that matters: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Gal. 5:6)
The amazing prophecy seen in just four verses in Daniel 9:24-27 gives us absolute confidence in God’s Word and can give us hope and motivation to faithfully serve our Lord to the end as exemplified by the life of Daniel. Let’s look in more detail at this prophecy. “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 (“until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes”; Jesus’ triumphal entry) 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 (“the Anointed One will be killed”) and have nothing (“appearing to have accomplished 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 (3 ½ years into the middle of the Tribulation) 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.”
There are varying views on exactly what is meant regarding these six events. The following interpretation is found in The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Walvoord & Zuck; pp.1361, 1362. By the time these 490 years have run their course God will have completed six things for Israel. The first three have to do with sin and the second three with the Kingdom (Millennial). The basis for first three was provided in the work of Christ on the cross but all six will be realized by Israel at the Second Advent of Christ. (My comment: This refers to the remaining remnant of national Israel which turns to Christ as Savior. Zech. 13:8-9; Rom.11:26)
“Seventy weeks (heptads – of years; 70 x 7 = 490 years) have been decreed for your people (Israel) and your holy city (Jerusalem)” (V.24) Daniel had read Jeremiah’s prophecy (Chapters 25, 29) and thought the seventy years of bondage and oppression for Israel was about to end and God showed him that their Divine discipline would continue for 490 years (plus all the years of the church age, 2,000 years plus). In verses 25-27 we see that the prophecy divided up this 490-year period into three time periods: 1) seven weeks of years (49) covers the time from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (not just the temple) until it was completed (dates shown below); 2) the sixty-two weeks of years (434) cover the period from the completion of rebuilding Jerusalem until Jesus’ triumphal entry; (dates below). 3) The final seven-year period is the Tribulation period after the church age ends (Rapture of the church). The church age was/is a gap between the first 483 years (49 + 434) and the last seven years to total up to 490 years. Prophecies would often cover both the first and second coming of Christ, sometimes in the same verse and the prophet would not know the distinction between the two (e.g., Isa. 9:6; also see Isa. 61:1-2). Let’s look at each of these three divisions of years.
1) The first seven weeks of years (49 years) covers the time period from *March 14, 445 (See Nehemiah 2:1-8) to 396 B. C. This is the decree to rebuild the city (not just the temple) and its completion date. (*Commentators disagree on the date of the decree. Some use March 5, 444 B.C. to 395 B. C.)
2) The second division of sixty-two weeks (434 years) began in either 396 or 395 B. C. (the completion of rebuilding Jerusalem) and continues until Jesus’ triumphal entry (v. 25) and then His death (cut off/killed v. 26). So the first seven weeks of years (49 years) + the sixty-two weeks of years (434 years) = 483 years. Jesus’ triumphal entry occurred in either April 6, 32 A. D. or March 30, 33 A. D. And depending on the start date used (see in #1) they both end up with the exact same number of days between the date of the decree and Jesus’ triumphal entry (either April 6, 32 A. D. or March 30, 33 A. D.) of 173,880 days. (See http://endtimepilgrim.org/70wks6.htm; http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/27-26/israels-future-part-3; http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2008/1190/print/; http://fountainvalley.purposeware.com/media/podcasts/1289.pdf
“And (Jesus will) have nothing” (“appearing to have accomplished nothing”). After this statement we know from the gospels that Jesus arose on the third day, walked with the disciples for 40 days, then ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit, and the church was born 50 days later at Pentecost. Now the next verse takes us to 70 A. D. and into the 2,000 years plus of the church age: “and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This speaks of Titus (a prince of Rome who also foreshadows Antichrist from the revived Roman Empire). “And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” National Israel’s Divine discipline has continued from their first captivity in Babylon until today and will continue until the end of the Tribulation when the remnant of the nation will turn to Jesus as Savior and King. (Romans 11:26; Zech. 12-14)
Jesus wept over His Jewish people when He realized they had not grasped what Daniel prophesied 483 years earlier about the day He would present Himself to His people as the long-awaited Messiah and King: “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)
3) The final division of seven years is seen in verse 27: “And he (the Antichrist) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (of years –the seven years of Tribulation; Titus did not make a covenant with Israel nor did the six events seen in verse 24 occur at this time), but in the middle of the week (the second half of the Tribulation) he (Antichrist) will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations (and as a climax to all his terrible deeds), will come one (Antichrist) who makes desolate (desecrates the temple by setting up an image of himself as god), even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate (until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.)”
Dispensational Premillennialism (a complete distinction between Israel and the church) – This literal interpretation of Daniel fits with a literal interpretation of the book of Revelation 6-19 and the pre-tribulation Rapture of the church, the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (when God’s wrath is poured out on unbelieving Israel in the Tribulation and on all unbelieving Gentiles who worship Antichrist) and also speaks of the Millennial Kingdom (seen in Daniel 7:7-8, 19-27 and Revelation 20). “But then news from the east and the north will alarm him (Antichrist), and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. He will stop between the glorious holy mountain (Jerusalem) and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him. At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation (Israel), will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence (possibly the final judgments, bowl judgments, in the Tribulation). But at that time every one of your people (Jews) whose name is written in the book will be rescued.” (Dan. 11:44-12:1) (Also see Zech. 13:8-9; Rom. 11:26)
[“Daniel was written to encourage the exiled Jews by revealing God’s sovereign program for Israel during and after the period of Gentile domination. The Times of the Gentiles began with the Babylonian captivity, and Israel would suffer under Gentile powers for many years. But this period is not permanent, and a time will come when God will establish the messianic (Millennial) Kingdom which will last forever. Daniel repeatedly emphasizes the sovereignty and power of God over human affairs. “The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (4:25b). The God who directs the forces of history has not deserted His people. They must continue to trust in Him, because His promises of preservation and ultimate restoration are as sure as the coming of the Messiah.” ] Wilkinson, Bruce ; Boa, Kenneth: Talk Thru the Bible. Nashville : T. Nelson, 1983, S. 222
Amos prophesies about the Millennial Kingdom: “In that day I will restore the fallen house of David. I will repair its damaged walls. From the ruins I will rebuild it and restore its former glory. And Israel will possess what is left of Edom and all the nations I have called to be mine. The LORD has spoken, and he will do these things. “The time will come,” says the LORD, “when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested. Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine! I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again. They will plant vineyards and gardens; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.” (Amos 9:11-15)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. Studying God’s prophecies in the book of Daniel (and in other prophetic books) about His plans for the future good of Israel (and the good future for all believers) can build our faith in the assurance of His Word (many have already come true and all will come true) and give us an eternal perspective so we can live our daily lives for what really matters. Contrast Daniel to King Solomon from the verses above in Ecclesiastes. What can we learn from Daniel’s good example and Solomon’s bad example?
2. As C. S. Lewis says, the more heavenly minded we are the more earthly good we will be (for Christ’s sake) which is the only thing that matters: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Gal. 5:6) Read I John 2:15-17 in the translation above and also John 9:4 and discuss how and why we can and should become more “heavenly-minded.”
3. “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:1-3) How have people in the past and people today failed to bless Israel and may even curse Israel?
4. “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.” (Joel 3:1-3) How does this apply to us today, both politically and personally?
5. “Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD. Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.” (Isa. 62:6-7) So how are we to pray for Jerusalem/Israel?
6. Of what significance is the existence of the nation Israel in the world today and how can knowing God’s sure and good future for them inspire and encourage us?