The Book of DANIEL
James J. Barker


Lesson 16
DANIEL’S VISION OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS

Text: DANIEL 9:20-27


INTRODUCTION:


  1. Daniel 9:1-20 deals with Daniel's prayer. While Daniel was praying, the answer was already on the way by means of the angel Gabriel (9:20, 21).
  2. Verse 20 suggests that the angel Gabriel was sent at the very beginning of Daniel's prayer.
  3. Verse 21 says the angel Gabriel touched Daniel "about the time of the evening oblation." John Walvoord says, "It is obvious that the prayer of Daniel recorded here is only a summary of the actual oral prayer which probably was lengthy and culminated at the time of the evening sacrifice" (Daniel, The Key to Prophetic Revelation).
  4. Gabriel told Daniel that the purpose of his coming was to give him "skill in understanding” (9:22).
  5. Gabriel referred to Daniel as “greatly beloved” (9:23), and told him he came to show Daniel what was necessary to understand the vision of the seventy weeks described in verses 24 — 27.
  6. Daniel's seventieth week (still future) will be what is commonly referred to as the seven-year tribulation period.
  7. Many students of the Bible are familiar with the term "great tribulation." Our Lord said in Matthew 24:21, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
  8. In Revelation 7:14, one of the four and twenty elders said to the apostle John, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
  9. I believe the Lord will return before the tribulation for His saints, and return after the tribulation with His saints.
  10. Many people do not understand why the tribulation period will last for seven years, or why the second half is usually described as the "great tribulation."
  11. The Scofield Study Bible has a lengthy article about the great tribulation on page 1337. Scofield says, The elements of the tribulation are:
  1. The cruel reign of the "beast out of the sea" (Rev. 13:1) who at the beginning of the three and a half years, will break his covenant with the Jews (by virtue of which they will have re-established the temple worship (Daniel 9:27) and show himself in the temple, demanding that he be worshipped as God (Matthew 24:15; II Thess. 2:4).
  2. The active interposition of Satan "having great wrath" (Rev. 12:12) who gives his power to the Beast (Rev. 13:4, 5).
  3. The unprecedented activity of demons (Rev. 9:2, 11) and
  4. the terrible "bowl" (vial) judgments of Revelation 16.
  1. The most important prophecy in the book of Daniel is Daniel 9:24-27. This passage is the key to understanding all Bible prophecy.

 

I. THE MEANING HERE OF "WEEKS" (DAN. 9:24).

  1. Daniel is told by the angel Gabriel, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people (Israel) and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem)…" (Dan. 9:24).
  2. The Hebrew word, translated "weeks" is shabua (sha-boo-ah), and it means "seven." Gabriel literally was saying, "Seventy sevens are determined upon thy people."
  3. The Hebrews thought in terms of seven, much like we think in terms of ten. {Ten pennies is a dime; ten dimes are a dollar; ten years are a decade; ten decades are a century, etc.}
  4. But the Hebrews thought in terms of seven. Every seventh year was a sabbath rest year (Lev. 25:1-7).
  5. Seven sevens (49 years) brought them to their year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12).
  6. Daniel 9:2 says Daniel "understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
  7. Jeremiah 25:11 says, "And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years."
  8. Jeremiah 29:10 says, "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place."
  9. The seventy-year captivity is also mentioned in II Chron. 36:21 and Zech. 1:12).
  10. Daniel understood that the Sabbatic years had been violated for 70 cycles (Dan. 9:1, 2; cf. Lev. 26:34, 35).
  11. God’s sovereign objective could not possibly be accomplished in 490 days. It would have to be 490 years.
  12. The "prince that shall come," i.e. the antichrist (Dan. 9:26, 27; cf. Dan. 7:20-26), will break his covenant with Israel in the midst of the 70th week.
  13. This final 3½ year period is referred to in Scripture as the "great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:13, 14; cf. Rev. 12:6, 14; 13:5; Dan. 7:25; 12:7).
  14. The Hebrew word shabua, translated "weeks" in Dan. 9:24, is found in only one other passage in the book of Daniel (cf. 10:2, 3). Here the context demands weeks of days, for it is unlikely that Daniel would have mourned and fasted for 21 years! Furthermore, the Hebrew word yamin (days) is added to "weeks" so that it literally says, "three weeks of days" (21days).
  15. It is the context which determines whether it is weeks of days or years (cf. Gen. 29:27-30).
  16. It would be virtually impossible "to build Jerusalem" (Dan. 9:25) and then see it destroyed again (9:26) within 490 days. Keep in mind these 70 weeks must include the crucifixion of Christ, as well as the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD (Dan. 9:24, 26).

 

II. THE BEGINNING OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS (DAN. 9:25).

  1. We can pinpoint the beginning of the 70 weeks – "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem" (9:25).
  2. There were four commandments given by Persian rulers in reference to the Jewish nation, but it was the last one that Daniel is referring to here.
  3. There was a decree made by Cyrus in 538 BC (II Chron. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13). Notice that permission was only given to rebuild the temple, not the city (II Chron.36:23; Ezra 1:3; 5:13).
  4. But Dan. 9:25 says, "to restore and to build Jerusalem."
  5. There was a decree made by Darius in 512 BC (Ezra 6:1-12), which confirmed the decree made by King Cyrus. Again, this decree only deals with the building of the temple (Ezra 6:5, 7, 8, 12).
  6. The decree by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 BC (Ezra 7:7-28) provided finances for the temple. It does not mention rebuilding the city (Ezra 7:27).
  7. There was a second decree made by Artaxerxes in 445 BC (Neh. 2:1-8), which granted permission for the Jews to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Daniel’s 70 weeks extend from this point.
  8. The first 69 weeks stretch from this point (445 BC) to the day our Lord entered Jerusalem before His crucifixion (Luke 19:37-42; Zech. 9:9).
  9. The 69 sevens equal 483 years of 360 days. Jewish calendars had only 360 days in the year (12 months of 30 days). Furthermore, the prophecy was given to Daniel in Babylon and the Babylonian calendar also had 360 days (12 times 30).
  10. The Old Testament also teaches a 360-day calendar. The flood began on the 17th day of the second month (Gen. 7:11). And the flood ended on the 17th day of the seventh month (Gen. 8:4). That means the flood lasted exactly five months. We are told it was 150 days (Gen. 7:24; 8:3). Therefore, each month in their calendar had 30 days.

 

III. THE GAP BETWEEN THE 69th AND THE 70th WEEK (9:26).

  1. We have already determined that the "weeks" referred to here are weeks of years, not weeks of days. And we have determined that the seventy weeks commenced with the decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes, which gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city.
  2. According to Sir Robert Anderson and other scholars, this would be in 445 BC.
  3. Now by studying this carefully, we can see that 69 weeks have already passed but the seventieth week has yet to begin.
  4. Scofield’s notes are helpful here. "The seventy weeks are divided…" (p. 914, 915).
  5. A proper understanding of this prophecy will help us to avoid many of the mistakes others are making concerning the timing of the rapture.
  6. In Daniel 9:25, we see that Daniel divides the 70 weeks. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem (445 BC) unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks…" (i.e., 69 weeks).
  7. This means that one week is left. God stopped the time clock and one week remains. Daniel’s 70th week will be the seven-year tribulation period.
  8. It is obvious that there must be an indeterminate space of time after the 69th week because in 9:26, Daniel says, "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." This was fulfilled in 70 AD by Titus, the Roman general.
  9. Not only does it indicate that there is a big gap between the 69th and 70th week, but it also indicates that "the prince that shall come" (i.e., the antichrist) will be from the same people as Titus, the Roman general. This means the antichrist will probably arise from the revived Roman empire.

 

IV. OTHER "GAPS" IN BIBLE PROPHECY

  1. Some people have objected to this method of interpretation, claiming that putting such a gap between the 69th and 70th week is unwarranted. But actually, this is seen often in Bible prophecy.
  2. God reckons time with the Jews only when He is dealing with them nationally. Let us look at a few other examples of this.
  3. In Luke 4:16-21, we see that our Lord was in a synagogue reading from the prophet Isaiah (cf. Isa. 61:1, 2). But notice that He stopped in the middle of Isa. 61:2. The end of verse 2 deals with the second coming of Christ, and there is a big gap between the two comings.
  4. Isaiah 9:6, 7 has reference to both comings.
  5. So does Luke 1:31-33.
  6. Later on, the apostles recognized that God’s program with Israel was in abeyance while the Lord "first did visit the Gentiles," and after the church age would "return and rebuild again the tabernacle of David" (Acts 15:14-17).
  7. Peter quoted Psalm 34:16 but left out the prophetic portion – "to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth" (I Peter 3:12).
  8. Our Lord anticipated this gap (sometimes called "the great parenthesis") when He warned the Jews of the "abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15). He said this would mark the "great tribulation" preceding His second coming (Matt. 24:21-28).

 

V. EVENTS THAT FOLLOW THE 69th WEEK

  1. Two events are recorded after the first 69 weeks of Daniel 9. First, we see that the Messiah shall "be cut off, but not for Himself" (9:26). Messiah means "anointed one," i.e. the Christ.
  2. This is the great theme of both the Old and the New Testament (cf. Isaiah 53). Our Lord said, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).
  3. The second prophecy to be fulfilled after the first 69 weeks concerns the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army under Titus (Dan. 9:26).
  4. Our Lord predicted this as the judgment of God because of their rejection of their Messiah (Matt. 22:7; 24:1, 2).
  5. Both our Lord in His Olivet Discourse, and Daniel here in chapter 9 connect the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD with the future tribulation.

 

VI. THE BEGINNING OF THE 70th WEEK

  1. Daniel 9:25 and 26 have been fulfilled. Verse 27 awaits fulfillment.
  2. The "he" in Daniel 9:27 is the antichrist. The direct antecedent is the "prince that shall come" in verse 26.
  3. Israel has rejected their true Messiah but soon they will embrace the false messiah. Our Lord said to the Jews, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (John 5:43).
  4. He will be a phony man of peace (Dan. 8:25; I Thess. 5:3; Rev. 6:2).
  5. "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week…" (Dan. 9:27). This is the peace treaty that Israel, the Arabs, the United Nations, and the United States are trying to put together. No one has been able to pull it off but the antichrist will. And when he does, Daniel’s 70th week (the tribulation) will begin.
  6. "And in the midst of the week (three and a half years), he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…" (9:27).
  7. Antiochus Epiphanes was a type of the coming antichrist. He slaughtered a pig in the temple and offered it up to Zeus (Dan. 11:31).
  8. The apostle Paul says that the "man of sin" will "exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (II Thess. 2:3, 4).
  9. By comparing Paul’s prophecy with Daniel 9:27 (and others), it appears that halfway through Daniel’s 70th week, the antichrist will double-cross the Jews and he will defile the temple.
  10. Martin Luther and many other Protestants taught that Paul was predicting the rise of the papacy. This interpretation seems very unlikely. First of all, the pope does not call himself "God" but the "vicar of Christ."
  11. Secondly, he does not sit in the temple of God, but sits in the Vatican. It is possible that as the end-time apostasy gets worse, the pope could fulfill these prophecies but it seems more likely that he is the second beast of Revelation 13 (the false prophet).
  12. Back to Daniel’s prophecy: "He shall make it desolate" (9:27; cf. Matt. 24:15).
  13. The Jews will accept the antichrist as their saviour and will think they are entering the millennial kingdom. Unsaved Gentiles will think their "new age" has finally arrived, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, a utopia on earth – no more Christians, no more Bibles, people can do whatever they please, etc.
  14. But alas, the Bible says, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them" (I Thess. 5:3).
  15. It will be "a day of darkness and of gloominess" (Joel 2:2).

 

CONCLUSION:


  1. We know that the events described in Dan. 9:24-26 have been fulfilled.
  2. And since they have been literally fulfilled, we can expect the prophecies in Daniel 9:27 to be literally fulfilled as well.
  3. These will culminate at "the consummation" (Dan. 9:27), i.e. the second coming of Christ. Are you ready?


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