Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 4

Daniel 9

Tom Pennington  •  December 8, 2019
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Well in God's providence, we come tonight to a passage that figures prominently into our celebration of Christmas. As I mentioned this morning in our study of Luke 2, when we come to Daniel 9, we see, not only to what family the Messiah will be born, as we discovered in other places, not only where He will be born, as we see in Micah's prophecy, but here in Daniel 9 we discover when He would be born and live. Really, a remarkable, remarkable prophecy that we come to tonight. One of the most astounding passages in all of the Scripture and certainly in the Old Testament. Because in Daniel 9, God reveals to us a sweeping, prophetic timeline of Israel's history, from the time of Daniel until the very end of the age.

Now, as we've noted in the messages before, this chapter really divides into two basic parts. In verses 1 to 19, you have a prayer for the end of Israel's captivity as Daniel, the prophet, lifts up his voice and says, "God bring this captivity to an end!" But in verses 20 to 27, you have a vision of the rest of Israel's history. Daniel first records God's immediate answer to his prayer in the arrival of Gabriel, in verses 20 to 23, and then in verses 24 to 27, he unlocks for us God's future plan in the vision of the seventy weeks.

Let's read this prophecy together, this vision of the seventy weeks, beginning in Daniel 9:24. You follow along as I read. "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 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 and have 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 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."

Now as we discovered last time, of the four views of this passage, the best interpretation is that seventy weeks are literal years that end with Christ's second coming. The seventy weeks are literal seven year periods of time totaling 490 years; that's seventy weeks times nine makes 490. Now the first sixty-nine weeks cover the key events in God's dealing with the Jewish people from Daniel's time until Messiah comes. Then of course, as you know, the Jews rejected their Messiah in the first century and there was a gap that began; a gap in this prophecy between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week, as we'll see tonight. The seventieth week will come yet in the future and during that final week of seven years, there will be tribulation - for Israel, for the entire world. At the end of that seventieth week, Messiah will come for a second time and establish His earthly kingdom where He will reign for a thousand years with His throne in Jerusalem.

Now tonight, we need to go back, then, with that overview and work our way through, in detail, through this amazing prophecy. So let's do that together. Here is God's future plan for His people in this vision of the seventy weeks. Gabriel begins by revealing the length of this prophecy. Notice verse 24 - "Seventy weeks have been decreed...". The Hebrew for "have been decreed" implies that this time has been cut out and set by itself for a specific purpose and the prophecy covers seventy weeks. In reality, the word "week" is not in the Hebrew text. A literal translation of the Hebrew is "seventy sevens". Seventy sevens. They could be units of either days or years, but the context demands that these seventy weeks be seventy units of seven years each or 490 years.

Why do I say the context demands that? For several reasons. First of all, the view that these sevens are symbolic and represent indefinite periods of time - as we discovered last time there are several views that take this approach - that view doesn't follow a normal, literal hermeneutic. It's not how you would interpret any other literature. If Daniel meant indefinite periods of time, why use specific numbers like "seven", "sixty-two", "one"? And if they are symbolic, then the periods of time should, at least, be proportionate to the length represented, but that's not how they're interpreted. If you take a symbolic view, you'll find that they have some of the times being very short and some of them being very long - there's, frankly, no rhyme or reason. Seven can't represent a short time and a long time in the same verse. That's illogical and certainly outside of normal interpretation.

Another reason is, they have be years here, is Daniel has been thinking about years - verses one and two. He's concerned about how many years and, specifically, he's been thinking about why there had to be seventy years of captivity. As I pointed out to you Leviticus 20. Excuse me, Leviticus 25:4 demanded that every seventh year was to be like a sabbath in Israel, where the land was to be, allowed to lie dormant. In 2 Chronicles 36:21 you find an explicit statement that God punished Israel for not observing those sabbath years and He put them in captivity for seventy years because they had ignored seventy sabbath years. So for 490 years, they had failed to observe the sabbatical year. That was followed by seventy years of exile. That is now followed by a prophecy about another 490 years of Israel's history; you see the continuity.

There's a third [fourth] reason these must seventy units of seven years and that is the Jews were familiar with only two cycles of seven - and that is the weekly sabbath, in which you had days, and the sabbatical years in which you had years. If you try to make these "sevens" days (490 days), the math simply doesn't fit; doesn't fit the timeframe, here, it only works with years. So the length of the prophecy, then, is seventy units of seven years which equals 490 years.

Now the next thing Gabriel explain to us, after the touching on the length of the prophecy, is the focus of this prophecy. Notice verse 24 again. "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and for your holy city." Daniel had just prayed about both of those. Go back to verse 19. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city [Jerusalem] and Your people [Israel] are called by Your name." So he's just prayed about the people of God and the city of God and, in response, Gabriel tells Daniel that the focus of this prophecy is on those two things. It's on the city of Jerusalem and it's about the Jewish people.

Thirdly [Fourthly], Gabriel lays out the goals behind this prophecy. He tells us in verse 24, that God has six great goals that He intends to accomplish during these seventy weeks or 490 years. These goals will not be completely fulfilled until the end of human history and the inauguration of the kingdom of God. But it is during this time that God is working to accomplish these goals.

First goal is "to finish the transgression", verse 24 says. "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city", number one, "to finish the transgression...". To finish simply means to destroy, to end, to wipe out. And transgression is one of the three key Hebrew words for sin. It is a willful act of disobedience; rebellion against God's authority. It's interesting too, in Hebrew, transgression is definite - has a definiteness to it - perhaps referring to Israel's long pattern of rebellion that Daniel has just prayed about back in verses 8-11. So the events of the seventy weeks will end Israel's, specifically, and mankind's, generally, long rebellion against God.

Secondly, "to make an end of sin"; literally to end or stop sin. And sin here is another of those three Hebrew words for sin, and this word is a general word that just means to fall short of God's standard. So the events that will take place during these seventy weeks will judge sin once and for all, and bring it to its end.

A third goal that God has during this period of time is "to make atonement for iniquity". Here's the third Hebrew word for sin, this word iniquity. The root idea behind the Hebrew word is twistedness or perversion. It can refer to an act of sin as twistedness or the guilt you incur for committing that act or the punishment for the guilt for committing that act. Here, the implication is clearly the guilt that we have before God when we sin. "To make atonement" is the normal Old Testament word, "to atone". It means, literally, "to cover". It describes the symbolic act. You remember in the worship in the temple of sprinkling blood over the mercy seat and the result of that blood on the mercy seat covered sin from God's view. That was the idea. And in covering that sin, came forgiveness. God didn't see it anymore because of the blood. So notice, the first goal is transgression will be finished. The second goal, sin will end. And both of those are accomplished through the third goal, through the atonement made, as we know, by Christ on the cross for sin's guilt; His blood offered as a covering for sin. That's the message of Hebrews 10, right? He was the ultimate covering for sin. God found a way to forgive sin without compromising His own righteousness, through the sacrifice of His Son.

Now notice those first three goals deal with sin, but the next three deal with righteousness. Number four is "to bring in everlasting righteousness". "To bring" is, literally, "to cause to come". Messiah will bring righteousness to Israel. And this righteousness is an eternal, everlasting righteousness. That means that it has to be both the imputed righteousness of justification, whereby we are declared righteous before God by the work of Jesus Christ, as well as a real, personal righteousness that follows after we have been justified. So Israel as a whole then, will receive both justification and sanctification. She will become a holy nation and righteousness will fill the earth forever. Remember in the new earth it's described as a place in which righteousness is at home. I love that expression. There's righteousness in this world. Look around you. God's people carry righteousness with them, both imputed righteousness and real, personal righteousness, as we grow in likeness to Jesus Christ. But it's not at home here. But there's a day when it will be at home and we will be at home. To bring in everlasting righteousness.

Number five, "to seal up vision and prophecy". The idea here is, once a vision or a prophecy has been completed and its purpose accomplished, it's no longer an operation. It can be sealed up. It can be put away. We can paraphrase it like this - visions and prophecies will all be wrapped up. God will fulfill all He has prophesied regarding Daniel's people and the holy city. As one author puts it, it will be closed and consummated as a book that is fully written and sealed up. God's going to bring it all to fruition - everything He promised, everything He said.

And then finally, "to anoint the most holy place". In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, kings, and others were anointed to set them apart for service, as well as things were anointed to set them apart for service. The idea behind the anointing was to set them apart, to consecrate them to God. Something here is being consecrated to God. Literally, the Hebrew says, to anoint or to set apart; consecrate to God the holy of holies. Some have tried to interpret this expression as referring to the person of Jesus Christ, that He is the holy place. A-millennialists, particularly, like to apply this phrase to Christ because they don't believe a temple will ever be built and that's the only other real alternative. But this expression "holy of holies", is used about forty times in the Old Testament and thirty-nine of times it refers to the holy of holies in the temple and there's no reason here to believe otherwise. What you have in this final goal is a promise, by God, that there will be a future temple. It's the millennial temple described by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 40-48.

So, the first three of these purposes were fulfilled, in principle, at Christ's first coming, but await the second coming to be totally and completely fulfilled. And the last three, will be accomplished at His second coming. Those are the six goals that Gabriel says God is out to accomplish during these seventy weeks.

Now, that brings us to the details of this prophecy and that is the heart of this section in verses 25-27, the details of this prophecy. The prophecy specifically describes several periods of time, and I want you to see these unfold with me - these periods of time. So let's begin, then, to look at the details of the prophecy by considering the sixty-nine weeks from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah comes - that's the first period of time marked out in this prophecy.

Look at verse 25. "So you are to know and discern". Gabriel tells Daniel that God wanted him both to know and to understand this prophetic timeline. And then he goes on to say, "you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks". Notice, first of all, that this seventy weeks begins with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Now that immediately brings a question mark and a difficulty because there were actually three decrees that dealt with the restoration of Jerusalem. Which one is Daniel referring to here? Let me give you the three and then we will consider it. First of all, there a was a decree in the year 538 BC. This was the decree of Cyrus. You can read about it in Ezra 1:2-4 as well as 6:3-5. This decree cannot be the one that Gabriel means. Why? Because the calculations don't work. The 483 years he talks about runs out before Christ came. So we know that's not the starting place. But there are two others that are possible. A second is the decree in the year 458 BC. It was the decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra recorded in Ezra 7. And the third possibility, and again, these second two are very real possibilities, is the year 445 BC and it was the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah, recorded in Nehemiah 2:5-8 as well as in 17 and 18.

So, when you look at these decrees and you do the math, because we know when Christ came, alright? When you do the math, then, either of these last two are possible as we'll see. I'll show you how the math works out in just a moment. So, he goes on - verse 25 - "from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince..." Messiah means, as I think you know, the anointed one. It's the same as Christos or Christ in the New Testament. And it's added just for clarification that He is the Prince. Back in chapter 8:25 He's called "The Prince of princes". Implied here in verse 25 - don't miss it - is the fact that the Messiah would come. This is a promise that Messiah would come.

Now Gabriel then divides these first sixty-nine weeks or sixty-nine periods of seven years into two distinct groups. Look at verse 25 again. From the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be, one, "seven weeks", and here's the second group, "and sixty-two weeks". Now since he chooses not to just say sixty-nine weeks but he breaks it down into seven weeks and sixty-two weeks separately, there must be some sort of a natural division of this sixty-nine into a seven week period and into a sixty-two week period. So let's consider these together.

These sixty-nine weeks are broken down, first of all, into seven weeks, that is, seven weeks of seven years are forty-nine years. Now notice how he puts in verse 25, "from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress." Now follow along here. You gotta keep your thinking hat on with me. "It will be built again" - there's God's promise. But, it will be built again with plaza. The word plaza literally means a wide place - could be a street, could be a marketplace, could be a public square. And with a moat. Now when you see that word, you immediately think Medieval castle. Don't think a ditch filled with water. The Hebrew word here is a trench. It's a trench cut, in Jerusalem's case, into the rock to increase the exterior height of the walls. If you had an ancient city, you wanted your walls to be as high as possible. There were two ways to make them high. One was to build them high and keep stacking bricks on top of each other until it was higher - which, of course, happened in Jerusalem. The other way was to lower the ground, at the base of the wall, outside the wall. And that happened as well. And that's what's described here by this word moat. The city, notice, would be rebuilt, the verse says, "in times of distress". You can read about that in Nehemiah. It means there would be serious opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem - Nehemiah 4, Nehemiah 6. You can read about this times of distress - this incredible opposition that came against the building. Now these forty-nine years, these seven weeks of seven years or forty-nine years, ends with one of two places depending on which starting point you have. It may be that it completes with Ezra's work. If the decree was Ezra's decree in 458, then you subtract forty-nine years, this forty-nine year period ended in 409 BC. Or it might be, if you start with the decree made in the time of Nehemiah, it might be when he completes his rebuilding, and that would be the year 445, when the decree was made, minus forty-nine years and you're at 396 BC. Could be either of those and I'll come back to that in a moment; deal with that and hopefully clarify that a little more. So you have this first seven week period or forty-nine years and it has to do with the rebuilding of the city.

Then you have a second group of weeks mentioned in verse 25; it's sixty-two weeks of seven years. That equals 434 years. Now this second group of weeks extends from the end of the seven weeks to the first coming of the Messiah. Again, depending on which decree you start with, the sixty-nine weeks end at a different place. Let me give you the two options. First of all, if it has to do with the decree made in the time of Ezra in 458 BC, you subtract your forty-nine years you're at 409 BC. Then you subtract from 409, the 434 years, and guess where it lands you? 26 AD. And 26 AD - those who take this view would argue - was when Christ was baptized. That's when He was anointed. That's when He became the anointed one, anointed by the Spirit at His baptism for His ministry, as recorded in Matthew 3:16. Those who hold to this view usually date the crucifixion in 30 AD - which I do by the way. I believe, and I think there are arguments that can be made for Jesus being baptized in 26 and being then killed in the year 30. That's a different argument for a different time. If you're curious, you can go listen to the six messages I did on the survey of the New Testament, or an aerial view of the New Testament. I dealt with that in more detail. So one possibility is the sixty-nine weeks end at Christ's baptism in 26 AD.

The second option, if you start with the decree made in the time of Nehemiah, or 445 BC, you subtract your forty-nine years, the first seven weeks, and you land at 396 BC. Then you subtract the sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, and you land, guess where? At 38 AD. And you're going, "Wait a minute. That's too late! Well what do they do with that?" Those who take this view argue that if you change the years to 360-day years, rather than 365-day years, you land, not in 38 AD, but in 33 AD and they say that's when the Triumphal Entry occurred. Those who support this view argue that most cultures, at the time of Daniel and the time these things were written, calculated years based on a 360-day year. One proponent of this view, Anderson, Sir Robert Anderson, has the 483 years terminating at the Triumphal Entry in the year 32 AD. A more recent view is that of Harold Hoehner who was a professor down at DTS. He argues that it ended with the Triumphal Entry in 33 AD.

Now look at those two options. Let me just tell you, bluntly, that there is absolutely no way to determine which of those two options is certain. Either of them is possible. But I don't want you to miss the major point. Don't get lost in the weeds. Get the big picture. If you start with either of these decrees, the decree made in the time of Ezra or the decree made in the time of Nehemiah, the sixty-nine weeks or 483 years end during the ministry of Jesus Christ. The point I want you to get, and I was making even this morning, is that Jesus of Nazareth was born at the right time to perfectly fulfill this biblical prophecy about the time that Messiah would come. He is infinitely qualified to be the Messiah in every regard including even this meticulous prophecy about when Messiah would come.

Now a second detail that is revealed to us. We've seen the sixty-nine weeks from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah comes. The second detail recorded for us is after the sixty-nine weeks. What's going to happen after the sixty-nine weeks? First of all, Messiah will be killed. Look at verse 26. "Then" - and don't miss this word - "after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing..." So, after those sixty-nine weeks are over altogether - the seven and the sixty-two - after those sixty-nine weeks are over, Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. Notice it does not say immediately after. So both of the options I showed you work whether it was at Jesus' baptism, and He was put to death three and a half years later, or whether it was at His triumphal entry, and He's put to death a week later. Either one of those works. It just says after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off. To be cut off means that He would be killed. You see that expression used in passages like Genesis 9:11, Exodus 31:14, and so forth to indicate death. He would be killed. He would be put to death. And He would have nothing. That's a fascinating expression. It means that the time of His death, He would not have a kingdom. The fulfillment of the Messianic kingdom would not occur at His first coming. That becomes clear even in this prophecy. And like Isaiah 53, Daniel is here predicting the death of the Messiah. You remember how Isaiah prophesied of it. Couple hundred years before Daniel, Isaiah 53:8 says of Messiah, "..He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?" Or take Isaiah 53:12, "Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death." So Daniel agrees with Isaiah and says Messiah will be killed. He will be cut off.

But another thing will happen after the sixty-nine weeks. Not only will Messiah be killed, but Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed. Verse 26 goes on to say, "..and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." Now Gabriel, remember, has already explained in the previous verse that the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity and now He says, "Oh sorry, by the way, it's going to be destroyed again". And it's going to be destroyed again, notice, by "the people of the prince who is to come". Now this prince, who is to come, is not Christ but he's one who comes for the purpose of destruction. This is referring to the Antichrist. But it's not the Antichrist, here, who is going to destroy the city at this time but, notice, it's "the people of the prince who is to come". You remember we learned back in chapter 2 and in chapter 7, that out of the Roman empire would eventually come this prince, this person we refer to as the Antichrist; out of a revived Roman empire. So here Gabriel is saying that the people from which Antichrist would come, that is, out of the Roman empire. The Roman empire would destroy the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. This was fulfilled, of course, by Titus and his legions in 70 AD.

Verse 26 goes to say, "And its end will come with a flood". That's a powerful word picture of the overwhelming of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman legions in 70 AD. The Roman general, Titus, began his assault on Jerusalem in March of 70 AD with four Roman legions inside the city of Jerusalem. There are conflicting reports. Tacitus tells us there were 600,000 Jews. Josephus tells us there were a million that we trapped inside the city. Regardless, it was a very large number. Eventually, most of those people were killed by Rome. Rome had one basic policy. When you rebelled, that rebellion must be utterly crushed; hence, the iron in the images we saw in chapter 2 and in chapter 7. Why? Because (or in chapter 2 rather in the beast, the fierce beast in chapter 7). Why? Because they wanted to stamp out all rebellion. And if they allowed any, it invited others. And so, when they came, they came with devastation. Eventually, many of these Jewish people would be killed and a 100,000 of them would be captured, and many of that 100,000 would die in the Coliseum, and in other arenas across the Roman empire.

Stedman writes this, "During the long siege [of Jerusalem in 70 AD] a terrible famine raged in the city and the bodies of the inhabitants were literally stacked like cordwood in the streets. Mothers ate their children to preserve their own strength. The toll of Jewish suffering was horrible but they would not surrender the city...When at last the walls were breached Titus tried to preserve the Temple by giving orders to his soldiers not to destroy or burn it. But the anger of the soldiers against the Jews was so intense that, maddened by the resistance they encountered, they disobeyed the order of their general and set fire to the Temple. There were great quantities of gold and silver there which had been placed in the Temple for safekeeping. This melted and ran down between the rocks and into the cracks of the stones. When the soldiers captured the Temple area, in their greed to obtain this gold and silver they took long bars and pried apart the massive stones. Thus, quite literally, not one stone was left standing upon another. The Temple itself was totally destroyed, though the wall supporting the area upon which the Temple was built was left partially intact and a portion of it remains to this day, called the Western Wall." Or as it's often referred to "The Wailing Wall" - as some of us saw just a few weeks ago. So, after the sixty-nine weeks, you have Messiah killed and you have Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed.

That brings us to the third detail of this prophecy. It's what happens from the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, until, what's called "the end" in verse 26. Notice, "even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined." Now, let me just tell you, there are two possible ways to take the end of verse 26. Some say it refers to the Roman destruction in 70 AD and only to the Roman destruction. In other words, till the very end of their destruction of the city, there was war and then desolation. That's possible. Another view, and the one I'm inclined to take, is that is refers prophetically to the period from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of this age. And, Daniel says until the end, there will be wars and desolations that will constantly affect the people of Israel; and this is certainly a reality.

Now that brings us to the final detail that's revealed here and that's Daniel's seventieth week. Verse 27, "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week 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." Now our threefold division in this passage becomes very important. You have seven weeks, or 49 years till the rebuilding of the city. Then you have sixty-two weeks, or 434 weeks until Messiah. Now how many weeks is that? How many weeks so far? Sixty-nine weeks or 483 years. Daniel said, from the rebuilding of the city to Messiah being cut off, there would be sixty-nine weeks and then he describes some things that happen after those two things that describe that happen after those sixty-nine weeks. But what happened to the seventieth week? Well verse 27 introduces us to it. There's one week left. When is this one, final week of seven years? That's a key question to this passage.

Let me tell you that there are only three options regarding this famous seventieth week. Here are your choices. Choice number one is that the seventieth week began immediately after the sixty-ninth week. I mean that seems logical, right? There's a problem with that, however. If you take this approach, the events of verse 27 are not connected to any great event. The seventieth week just sort of fizzles out seven years after Christ. And there's nothing that's marked there; certainly nothing that verse 27 describes.

A second approach is to say this. The seventieth week is not seven literal years but rather is symbolic of a period of time. And there are two views with this sort of symbolic approach. First of all, the seventieth week is symbolic, some would say, of the time from Christ until 70 AD. Again, the math doesn't work, right? It's not the right period of time but they would say that's the time marked out. This is what is called the preterist view; whether it's partial or full preterist I'm not going to take time now to go into that. Some of you are familiar with that. But, this is one view. The second symbolic view is that the seventieth week is symbolic of the time from Christ all the way until the second coming. This is the normal, covenantal view. What's the problem here? Well this view is seriously flawed because it requires changing from literal years, for the first sixty-nine weeks which they would all argue, to symbolism with the last week in the same verse and for no obvious reason. Again, you would never do that with any other document. That's absolutely capricious. And so, this view doesn't hold.

The third view is that seventieth week will be seven literal years at some point in the future. And, I would argue, that this is the view that makes the most sense. Why would I argue that? Well, let me give you some arguments. The seventieth week is future for these reasons and I'm not going to spend a lot of time on them. I'm just going to list them. But you can go back, think it through, and develop it as well.

Number one, because the six goals back in chapter 9:24, were not all fulfilled during Christ's first coming. That means, there has to be time for those goals to be completed; for them to be finished. We have certainly not experienced everlasting righteousness among God's people. Remember the prophecy is about Israel and the city.

Number two; second reason I would say this, is because Messiah's death and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem did not occur during the sixty-ninth week, but after. That's explicitly what verse 26 says. The natural implication of that there is a gap between week sixty-nine and week seventy. Now such gaps are not uncommon in prophecy. I mean, remember, when Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue in Nazareth, He stopped halfway through a verse and there was a huge time gap between the first part of the verse and the second part of the verse. So this is not uncommon in biblical prophecy.

A third reason is the person who confirms the covenant, in verse 27, can't be Christ. There's somebody in verse 27 who confirms and breaks the covenant. Well guess what? Christ didn't confirm a covenant during His first appearing and He didn't break a covenant during His first appearing.

Number four. The abomination of desolation that's described in verse 27 hasn't happened yet. It hasn't happened because Jesus says, in Matthew 24:15, that it would come immediately before His second coming. And so, it didn't happen in the time of Christ and didn't happen in 70 AD because that wasn't immediately before His second coming.

Number five. The person in verse 27, whoever that is, corresponds with the person described in Revelation 12 and 13 who has not yet appeared and who has not yet been judged as described in Revelation 19.

And a final reason I would give you is this. If the sixty-nine weeks, the first sixty-nine weeks, end with Messiah's first coming and the seventieth week ends with the second coming, then there has to be a gap. So Daniel's seventieth week is still future.

After 483 years, after the first sixty-nine weeks, at some point during the ministry of Jesus our Lord, Israel's prophetic clock stopped ticking; shortly after their rejection of the Messiah - their putting Him to death, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, the Jews scattered. But there is a seven-year period in the future, when the events of verse 27 will unfold and God will finish His plan for the people of Israel. Let's look at it together. Here is this future seven-year period. Verse 27 says, "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week..." Now the "he" here cannot be Christ. The closest antecedent for the pronoun "he" is back in verse 26, the prince who will come. In addition, this person must come just before Christ's second coming. That's how it's described in Matthew 24. In fact, turn to Matthew 24. Let me just show you this, so you don't take my word for it. Matthew 24 and notice verse 15. This is the Olivet Discourse; Jesus talking about the future. And He says, verse 15, "...when you see the abomination of desolation" - that's a quote from verse 27 of Daniel 9 - "which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down..." In other words, there's urgency. You need to act. Verse 21, "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will." Verse 29, "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." You see the lock step of Jesus' logic here. He says, when you see this abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel in Daniel 9:27, then run because great tribulation is about to unfold and then, following that great tribulation the Son of Man will come.

So back in Daniel 9, the "he" of verse 27 is the prince who will come of verse 26, the Antichrist, and the little horn that we already met back in chapter 7. It's the same person. In New Testament prophecy we meet this person as well. I'm not going to take you there because we'll meet this guy again later in Daniel. But in 2 Thessalonians 3, excuse me, 2:3 and following we hear about this man; the man of lawlessness, the man of sin. And we meet him again in Revelation 13:1-10. So in our text, verse 27, Gabriel says that the Antichrist - don't miss this - there's coming a week in Israel's history, seven years still in the future, and Antichrist will make a covenant with the many. That's undoubtedly a reference to Israel. And the terms for this treaty, or this covenant, will be for one week or for seven years. Verse 27 goes on to say, "but in the middle of the week". What's the middle of seven years? Three and a half. "...in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering". He'll make a covenant for seven years with the people of God, with Israel. But at the end of three and a half years, he will terminate that agreement and demand an end of all worship in the Temple.

But that's not all. Verse 27 goes on to say, "...and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate". It's an awkward expression. Literally, it reads this way - "in the middle of the seven, he will put an end to sacrifice and offering and on the wing of abominations of desolation". Now if you're familiar with Daniel, if you were here when we worked our way through it, you recognized that expression "abomination of desolation". It's a phrase that was used in chapter 11, or that's already been used, it'll be used in chapter 11:31 of what Antiochus Epiphanes did at the Temple; back in his day, before Christ. But this is not about Antiochus. Because, remember, in Matthew 24 Jesus said this prophecy was still future in His day. So this verse is about the Antichrist. Antichrist will be the ultimate expression of what Antiochus did. He will pollute the Temple by placing a statue on an altar of himself that create, what is described here in Hebrew as the overspreading of desolation. Here's how it's described in 2 Thessalonians 2 [3]. In fact, turn there with me. Again, I want you to see this. 2 Thessalonians 2 and look at verse 3. Paul writes, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come" - that is the day of the Lord - "will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction." And notice how he's described. This is another expression, another description of Antichrist - "...who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." There's the abomination that has wings, that pollutes, and desolates, and destroys the holy place of God like no other.

Now go back to Daniel 9. Verse 27 says, he's going to do this. Antichrist is going to pollute and desolate. Notice verse 27, "even until a complete destruction". From the middle of the week, or at three and a half years in that final week of Israel's history, he will make the Temple desolate by his idolatry; by worship of himself. But he will face complete destruction, notice that, at the end of those seventy weeks; until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, that is God's already determined it's going to happen this way. Until it is poured out on the one who makes desolate. In other words, Antichrist, himself, will be destroyed.

Go back to chapter 7, verse 25. Here's how it read there. "He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." Again, three and a half years. But the court, God's court, will sit for judgment and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Or listen to 2 Thessalonians 2:8, "Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming." Here's how it's described in Revelation 19:19-20, "And I saw the beast" - that's Antichrist - "and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse" - that is our Lord - "and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet ... and these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone." That's what Daniel's talking about, "even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on" Antichrist himself. The one who makes desolate, who pollutes the Temple of God; who exalts himself as God; who demands worship.

So understand this. This final week of Israel's history, seven years, is the tribulation period. The tribulation begins with the revelation of the Antichrist and his covenant with Israel; supposedly a seven year treaty. But at the midpoint of those seven years, Antichrist will break that covenant. He'll unleash countless atrocities against the people of God and for three and a half years, the second half of those seven years, it will be a period of incredible destruction; a period called the Great Tribulation. And at the end of that final week, the seventieth week of Daniel, Christ will return in glory. What an amazing prophecy!

I want you just to be aware of what we've learned in Daniel 9. Think about what is prophesied in this paragraph. First of all, it's prophesied that Messiah would come for 483 years after the decree to rebuild the city, which is exactly during the time of our Lord's ministry. Secondly, it's prophesied that Messiah would be killed. He would be cut off. Thirdly, it's prophesied that since He will eventually return and destroy Antichrist, Messiah would be raised to life again; He had to be. He's cut off and yet He shows up again. And then, you find the prophecy in this paragraph that the city of Jerusalem and Temple would be destroyed again, after the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and the time of Titus in 70 AD. Fifthly, you see at the end of the age, an evil ruler will arise who will persecute God's people. Number six, the Messiah will return and destroy that ruler and establish His own kingdom as prophesied in chapter 2, chapter 7. And then number seven, during the time these seventy weeks of prophecy unfold, God will accomplish all of the magnificent goals that He outlined in verse 24.

How do you respond to all of this? Well, let me encourage you to respond in three ways. Number one. Be courageous because of God's power. God is sovereign. He is in control of history. Don't be afraid of what might come. He is on His throne. He has mapped out history and it's going to happen exactly according to His plan; exactly as He chooses. Secondly, be confident in God's plan. He will accomplish all of His purpose. All of these things that are outlined here, those goals, they will be fulfilled. He will bring an everlasting righteousness. He's already made atonement for sin. He will bring sin to a conclusion. And He will bring an everlasting righteousness, and He will establish the reign of His Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. And then finally, be patient for God's timing. He will take back this earth from the usurper. He will pour out His wrath on His enemies. He will crush those who have set themselves against Him. And He will keep His promises to Israel and to us. So trust and obey.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You, that You have not treated us as slaves. But You have treated us as sons and You have told us, You've brought us into Your intimate circle. And You have told us what You are doing in the world. Father, we thank You that You've given us Your plan. Forgive us for our fear. Forgive us for our anxiety, for our worry. Forgive us for being caught up in the news headlines. Father, help us to trust You and live lives of long-term faithfulness and obedience, as we await the outworking of Your plan. Thank You for our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who has redeemed us from sin, and one day will return to take us to Himself. Help us to be faithful until that day. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen!