Chapters 9--12 contain some of the most detailed prophecies in the Bible, most of which have already been fulfilled. Even though chapter 9 was included in yesterday's reading, I would like to devote a portion of today's comments on it, since an understanding of Daniel's 70 weeks is basic to Bible prophecy.
This chapter deals with two different periods of time as relating to the Jews. Verses 1-19 refer to the 70 years of captivity. Daniel was a great student of the Scriptures, particularly those prophecies relating to the destiny of his people. He was now 90 years old and, while reading from the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord caused him to see that His people would be in Babylon for 70 years. It is important to note here that God does not give His people visions and dreams when He can teach them through His Word. Since today His Holy Spirit teaches us through His Word, we must beware of any new revelation.
Daniel saw in his reading that the 70 years of captivity were about to come to a close. Babylon invaded Palestine and began its siege in 606 b.c., and Daniel had an understanding of the prophecy in the year 539 or 538 b.c. Therefore, there were only about two years remaining in the 70 years promised in Jeremiah.
In the first part of chapter 9 we see Daniel's prayer for Jerusalem. Here is another lesson each of us can apply to our daily living. The Word of God and prayer always go together. Daniel did not boast about his insight into God's Word; in fact, he did not even preach a sermon. But he did go to his knees in prayer.
The "70 weeks" is generally understood to mean 70 weeks of years. That is, 70 sevens of years, or seven times 70 years, which is 490 years. It was as though the angel was saying, "The captivity had been 70 years; the period between the captivity and the coming of the Messiah will be seven times that long." The date from which the 70 weeks was to be counted was the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (verse 25). There were three decrees issued by Persian kings for this purpose--in 536 b.c., 457 b.c., and 444 b.c. The principal one was in 457 b.c.
The 70 weeks are subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and one week (verses 25 and 27). It is difficult to see the application of the "seven weeks"; but the 69 weeks, including the seven, equal 483 days, that is, on the year-day theory (Ezekiel 4:6), which is the commonly accepted interpretation of 483 years. This 483 years is the period between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and the coming of the "Anointed One" (verse 25). The degree to rebuild Jerusalem, as noted above, was 457 b.c. Adding 483 years to 457 b.c., brings us to a.d. 26, the very year that Jesus was baptized and began His public ministry. This is a remarkable fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, even to the year.
The final week of seven years constitutes the climax of Jewish history prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. It is divided into two half- periods (three and one-half years each). During the first half the prince (world ruler, little horn) or chapter 7:8,24,25, will make a covenant with the Jews, who are restored in Palestine, with a renewing of Temple worship. In the middle of the week the covenant will be broken--worship for the Jews ceases (II Thessalonians 2:3,4) and the time of Great Tribulation begins. The advent of Christ, the Messiah, consummates this period of desolation, bringing everlasting righteousness to Israel, and judgment upon the prince and his hosts (Revelation 19:20).
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