Daniel 9

Daniel 9

Daniel 9:1-3 Daniel received this vision “in the first year of Darius,” which means the events of Belshazzar’s feast in chapter 5 occurred between the visions of chapters 8 and 9. These verses show that Daniel studied Scripture which led and guided him in prayer. He saw the prophecies of Jeremiah as Scripture, even though Jeremiah had died only a few decades earlier. We this same behavior in Peter’s appraisal of Paul’s writing in 2 Peter 3:15-16 comparing his letters to the rest of Scripture.  As Daniel studied Jeremiah 25:11-13, he saw that God had appointed a period of seventy years for the captivity of Israel.

Daniel wondered when the seventy years began, and when they would they end. Daniel 9:1 took place in 538 B.C (“the first year of Darius son of Xerxes), Jerusalem fell a little less than fifty years earlier in 587 B.C. and the destruction of the temple in 586. Daniel’s captivity began in 604 B.C. so, In view of the recent collapse of the Babylonian Empire Daniel begins praying to seek the Lord for insight into what will happen to Israel. In his prayer and the benevolent attitude of Cyrus he reminds God of His promise that Israel will only be in captivity seventy years in the Jeremiah passages he had just read. He asks the Lord God to reckon those years from the year of his own exile and to seek God for restoration of Israel back to the Land. Daniel also knew of the prophecies regarding King Cyrus that were revealed to Isaiah during Manasseh’s reign, in Isaiah 44:2845:1-2. It had to have stunned Daniel when he learned of Cyrus’ rise to power and conquest of Babylon and seeing those prophecies being fulfilled. Considering that Daniel sought the Lord to move Cyrus’ heart to fulfill His promise to let the Jewish people to return to the Land. Fasting, sackcloth,’ and ‘ashes’ were aspects of ritual mourning in the Bible but were also signs of humility and repentance.  

Daniel 9:4-6 Daniel knew as did Nehemiah that Israel did not deserve God’s blessing or even his mercy. They had time and time again committed spiritual adultery and initially God separated Himself from Israel as described in Isaiah 1 and Isaiah 50:1-2.  God divorced the Northern tribes of Israel but because of His unconditional covenant with David, he did not divorce them Jer. 3:8. Their persistent disobedience to the covenant, through their idolatry, immorality, and killing of the prophets forced God to bring His discipline as outlined in the covenant at Sinai (Leviticus 26:39-45Deuteronomy 28:45-63). The only hope for Daniel and his kinsmen was their repentance and appeal to God. His prayer was that God would be glorified through the riches of his mercy and grace by forgiving His people and fulfilling his promise to restore them Jeremiah 29:10.  Daniel appeals to His Word as the focus of his prayer of intercession. He prays back to God His Word and promises by calling Him the great, awesome, faithful, promise-keeping God who never forsakes those who love and obey him. Daniel was certain of God’s love and His care for his people. “We have sinned and done wrong, we have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” He identifies with his kinsmen by confessing that he and his people had rejected the Lord and His Word.

Daniel 9:7-11 – Daniel acknowledges God’s righteous judgment on His people and their humiliation before the nations. When Israel came out of Egypt the Nations feared the God of Israel and the people whose God was the Lord in Josh 2:9-11. We see their shame echoed in the words of Ezek 36:16-36. God promised them military success so long as they remained faithful to him (Deuteronomy 28:7) then they would experience the respect of all the nations around them (Deuteronomy 28:10). But now the maledictions of Deuteronomy 28:14-67 came upon them. We can see this unfold when King Josiah died at Megiddo (609 B.C.) described in 2 Chronicles 35:20, the nation met with defeat by the Egyptians and then the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city, and all its inhabitants were killed or exiled as slaves.

What made their disgrace even more dishonorable was their ingratitude toward their compassionate, forgiving God whose pardon and mercy they rejected. But in Deuteronomy God promised restoration after their sin and judgment when they repented of their sins. Then the Lord would gather them again to the land (Deuteronomy 30:2-3), which was Daniel’s hope and prayer.

Daniel 9:12-14 To Daniel it was more important for God to retain his integrity and uphold his requirements for His holy people than for them to escape the consequences of their unfaithfulness. If God did not fulfill his word of judgment, how could there be any hope in His promises of grace to those who would repent and turn back to Him. If a nation like Israel who had been the recipients of God’s truth could fall into idolatry and immorality and think that they were above His discipline, why should anyone obey the Lord or believe in him?  The Fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the removal of the nation from the Land all served to vindicate the holiness and righteousness of God and demonstrate to all that God kept His Word. As Israel’s spokesman and intercessor, Daniel did not offer to God either defense or excuse for the guilt of his people. He freely admitted that they had only been punished, as they deserved. He did not plea for an acquittal of Israel’s guilt, nor did he seek God to remove their collective shame.

Daniel 9:15-19 Daniel went on to appeal to God’s mercy for Israel and the place where God dwelt as a testimony, in Jerusalem (v 16). He based his appeal on God’s honor and glory. “For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary” (v 17). Like Moses in his prayer after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:12-13), Daniel’s main concern was for God’s reputation in the eyes of the world. If the Lord allowed his sanctuary and holy city to lie permanently in ruins and his people forever in exile, then who among the nations would believe that the God of the Bible was the true and holy Lord over all? That, in Daniel’s mind, was the worst thing about Jerusalem’s fall and captivity. That the nations would conclude that it was because of God’s inability to protect his people against the gods of Babylon that Israel had fallen and been driven out of the Land.

With God’s promise to pardon and restore his repentant people, Daniel sought to press the Lord as hard as he could for an early return of the Jews to the Land so that the revived people of God might restore a testimony of the one true God of the universe. It was on that basis that Daniel was heard and soon received his answer through Gabriel who had come to him earlier.

Daniel 9:20-23 Gabriel comes to Daniel again to reveal God’s will to him even before he had finished praying. The angel appears as a man similar to the appearance of angels in Luke 24:4 and again in Acts 1:10. Incredible things such as this happen to those who seek the Lord and faithfully serve Him.

Gabriel responded to his prayer at the time of the evening sacrifice which was at sundown. Since there was no Temple Daniel could not offer his sacrifice there but our prayers Rev. 8:3 and surrendering our bodies Rom. 12:1-2 and a broken spirit and a contrite heart Psalm 51:17 are some of the sacrifices of God we can offer to the Lord as Daniel did.  God was with His servants in exile, just as He is with us.  Daniel had continued his prayers till late afternoon. To this day the orthodox Jewish community continue to pray at the times of the morning and evening sacrifices. So, in response God sent Gabriel to Daniel to encourage him.

Daniel 9:24 Through Gabriel God reveals that over a period of “seventy sevens” God would accomplish his plan of national and spiritual redemption for Israel. “Weeks” is literally “sevens,” and can refer to a week of days (Gen. 29:27) or to a week of years (Lev. 25:8). The seventy “weeks” are 490 years divided into three sections. During that period six great things would be accomplished by God concerning the Holy City and for God’s covenant people. The first three relate to the removal of sin; the second three to the restoration of righteousness.

1. “to finish transgression” as in bringing to an end. This points to Israel’s rebellion against God and the covenant and the discipline of their dispersion to all nations of the world. This will be completed within the seventy weeks. The restoration of Israel that Daniel sought in his prayer will ultimately have its fulfillment in this. At the end of this period man’s “transgression” or “rebellion” against God will end. This would be brought about by the kingdom of God on earth. This is the answer to the Lord’s prayer of God’s will on earth will be as it is in heaven. Jesus initiated the church age through which righteousness would be possible for the nations apart from the Law and yet complementing God’s Law. His atonement did not bring in everlasting righteousness but set the stage for His second coming to earth when He will righteously judge the earth who have rejected the simple message of the Gospel. Then after judging the world the millennial kingdom of Messiah will begin.

2. The second thing will be “to put an end to sin.” This will be accomplished by God’s Spirit transforming the hearts of men who will be left after the judgment as Isaiah 11:9-10 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious.

3. The third achievement is “to atone for wickedness,” which certainly points to the Crucifixion on Passover that ushered in the final stage of human history before the establishment of the kingdom on earth. As Peter affirmed at Pentecost, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people’ ” (Acts 2:16-17). This implies that the “last days” began at the inauguration of the NT church at Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost occurred just seven weeks after the Resurrection, which followed the Crucifixion on the Holy day of First Fruits. The Crucifixion was the atonement that made possible the establishment of the new order, the church of the redeemed, and the establishment of the coming millennial kingdom.

4. The fourth achievement is “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (ṣeḏeq ʿōlāmîm, “righteousness of ages”). This clearly indicates an order of society in which righteousness, justice, and conformity to the standards of Scripture will prevail on earth, rather than the temporary periods of upright government that have occasionally occurred in world history till now. The first fruits of this will begin at the second coming of Yeshua to the earth and establishment of the millennial Kingdom.

5. The fifth achievement will be the fulfillment of the vision and “the prophecy,” which serves as the grand and central goal of God’s plan for the ages—that final stage of human history when the Son of Man receives “authority, glory and sovereign power” (Daniel 7:14) so that all nations and races will serve him. This fulfillment surely goes beyond the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus; it includes his enthronement on the throne of David as supreme Ruler over all the earth.

6. The final goal to be achieved at the end of the seventy weeks is the anointing of “the most holy” (kadosh kadoshim). This is likely not a reference to the anointing of Jesus (as some writers have suggested) because kadosh kadoshim occurs nowhere else in Scripture where it refers to a person. Here the anointing of the “most holy” refers to the consecration of the temple of the Lord, a reference to the millennial temple, which is spoken of in great detail in Ezekiel 40-44.

These six goals of Daniel 9:24 is to understand the purpose of the seventy weeks If all six goals were in fact attained by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus and the establishment of the early church seven years after his death, then it might be fair to assume that the entire 490 years of the seventy weeks were to be understood as running consecutively and coming to a close in A.D. 37. But since all or most of the six goals has yet to be fulfilled, it follows that the seventieth week will find its fulfillment in the last seven years before Jesus’s return to earth as the millennial King.

Daniel 9:25-26 “From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (messiah), the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens, and sixty-two ‘sevens.” Daniel was to “know” the main facts of this prophecy, but he likely did not understand it. Daniel later confessed that he did not understand every aspect of what had been revealed to him (Dan. 12:8), although the assurance of God’s purposes must have comforted him. The history of the interpretation of these verses confirms the fact that this prophecy is difficult and requires spiritual discernment.

The key to the interpretation of the entire passage is found in the phrase “from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.” The question of the date on which the seventy sevens begin, is most important in interpreting the prophecy and in understanding its fulfillment. The commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem is decreed in Nehemiah 2:1-6. In 445 B.C. King Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem. Nehemiah asked permission to go because he had heard that “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire” (Neh. 1:3). Nehemiah specifically asked permission to go to “Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it” (2:5). This is the first and only royal decree granting permission to “restore and build Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:25).

The first 69 sevens are broken into two sections. The first section is seven weeks of years or 49 years. It is during this time that the city of Jerusalem will be “rebuilt with squares and a moat, but in a time of trouble.” V 26 tells us that at the end of 69 weeks the Messiah will appear, be cut off and have nothing. This lines up with the three years of ministry by Yeshua. Beginning with Nehemiah’s decree and the building of the wall, it took a whole generation to clear out all the debris in Jerusalem and restore it as a thriving city. This is likely what is referred to in the fulfillment of the forty-nine years, since Nehemiah said the city’s streets were so filled with debris that they were impassible in places. That this was accomplished in “a troubled time” is described in the book of Nehemiah.

The 62 “sevens” (434 years) bring us forward to the time of Yeshua. “The anointed one” is a reference to Yeshua, who was “cut off” by His death on the cross. The verb “to cut off” means “to destroy, to kill,” as in Genesis 9:11; Deuteronomy 20:20; Jeremiah 11:19; and Psalm 37:9.

The word “anointed” was used of priests (Lev. 4:3, 5); Saul (1 Sam. 12:1-3; 24:5-6); David (2 Sam. 22:51; 23:1); the kings of Israel (1 Sam. 2:10; Lam. 4:20); Cyrus (Isa. 45:1); and of the future Messiah who was to come from the line of David (Ps. 2:2; 132:17-18). It refers to the oil poured over the heads of those anointed setting them apart to their responsibility before God. Ultimately, the word came to refer to the future king from the line of David who would fulfill all of God’s promises to Israel which Yeshua will accomplish in his first and then His second coming. Gangel writes in his commentary:

The key here is to take the text of Daniel 9:25 literally and conclude that rebuilding the temple is not the same as rebuilding Jerusalem. Once we get over that hurdle, we are inclined to the date of 445 B.C. issued by Artaxerxes Longimanus and carried out by Nehemiah. So we begin at approximately 445 B.C. Now our passage requires us to fix the ending point of the first two units—until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes. Some have tried to design an exacting calendar to pinpoint the very month of the crucifixion, but the text seems to be less specific. Surely this refers to the first advent of Christ, so we know that it would fall somewhere between 4 B.C. and A.D. 33. This is not to say that Christ was thirty-seven years old when he was crucified, simply that the normally accepted boundaries of Jesus’ birth and death adopt those numbers.[1]

It seems best to understand that Daniel identifies the 69th week ended on the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem just prior to His being “cut off. That entrance was the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, when He presented Himself to the nation of Israel as their Messiah. If Israel would have accepted Him perhaps the Kingdom could have come, but God knew they wouldn’t and so his rejection and death set the stage for His second coming. So the first two parts ran 483 years beginning on March 5, 445 B.C. to March 30, A.D. 33. Jesus was not “cut off” in the 70th “seven”, but instead at the end of the 69th week. When He died the clock stopped and it began a long pause called the church age. Which officially began at Pentecost and will continue until the rapture of the church. God has been dealing with a heavenly Israel made up of Jews and Gentiles who are a people not of this world, in the world but not of the world. The Kingdom is now but not yet. This is a time when God is at work through the church in calling people from all the nations. But when the times of the Gentiles is complete God will once again begin dealing with Israel and that time will begin with the rapture of the church and which will be the beginning of the time of Jacob’s troubles (Jeremiah 30:7).

Those who are amillennial teach that when Jesus came his ministry was in the 70th “week,” and that there was no interval between the 69th and 70th “sevens,” and that the six actions predicted in Daniel 9:24 are being fulfilled today in the church. This view ignores that Daniel 9:26 says after the 62 weeks, not in the 70th week”. Jesus’ ministry on earth was 3 ½ half years in length, not seven, the six actions relate to Daniel’s “people” (Israel) and His “Holy City” (Jerusalem), not the church.

Daniel 9:27 This verse reveals a portion of the events unveils what will occur in the 70th seven years. This 7-year period begins after the Rapture. This week will culminate with the return of Jesus back to the earth to redeem Israel, judge the nations, and to receive His earthly throne. This period is known as the “Great Tribulation” from Jesus’ prophetic word in Matthew 24:21.

The great tribulation will end with the confirming of the covenant God made with Israel. This covenant is described as “with the many”, that is, with Daniel’s people, the nation Israel. “The ruler who will come” mentioned in Daniel 9:26 is the “he” mentioned in Daniel 9:27. He is the future ruler who will be the head of the fourth empire called the “little horn” of the fourth beast, in Daniel 7:8. This “little horn” is the Antichrist.

The covenant he will make will be a covenant guaranteeing peace and safety to Israel. Israel in our generation has made repeated deals with the Palestinians and through them, the entire Arab world, to try secure peace. In that day Israel will be intimidated into making a deal with the head of the revived Roman Empire which will be a commonwealth of nations. In brokering this covenant, this ruler will pose as a prince of peace, and Israel will accept his authority. But then in the middle of the seven years, he will break the covenant. According to Daniel 11:45, he will move his rule to Israel. He will then end sacrifices and offerings which suggests that Israel will have rebuilt the Temple and instituted sacrifices and offerings as part of the covenant it made with the “little horn”.

After the covenant is signed this ruler will gain worldwide political power, and cause the world to worship him (2 Thessalonians 2:4Revelation 13:8). To do this he will bring a syncretistic religion to the world that will incorporate all the positives of world religions. He will declare himself to be Israel’s messiah and king, which Israel will reject. At that point he will then turn against Israel and become her destroyer. Jesus referred to this incident in Matthew 24:15. In Revelation 13:14-15 we learn that the false prophet will set up an image to this ruler and that Israel and the nations will be forced to worship it. But then his end will come “the decreed end is poured out on the desolator”. The Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire when Yeshua finishes His work of establishing His rule and reign on earth (Revelation 19:20Daniel 7:11, 26). This covenant could not have been made or confirmed by Jesus at His first coming, as taught by those who don’t believe in a future millennium, because first of all His ministry did not last seven years secondly when He died on the cross God eliminated the ministry of the Temple for atonement which is the subject of the Book of Hebrew and finally His death and resurrection did not set up “the abomination that causes desolation” (Matthew 24:15).

The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel at the beginning of the second half of the 70th “seven,” this is what is being referred to in words of Daniel and Revelation “a time, times, and half a time” (Daniel 7:2512:7Revelation 12:14). The fact that this is the same as the three and one-half years, which in equated with the 1,260 days of Revelation 11:312:6 and with 42 months in Revelation 11:213:5. In the Jewish calendar each month has 30 days and each year 360 days to account the shortfall, so seasons remain consistent there is a leap month when needed. Zechariah 12-14 complements Daniel and Revelation concerning the events of the end of the great tribulation. 

[1] Kenneth Gangel, Daniel, ed. Max Anders, vol. 18, Holman Old Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 267.

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