BULLETIN ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE
THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL
RE PREDICTION OF
DEATH DATE OF THE MESSIAH, THEN TO COME,
NOW COME, AND TO RETURN
This prediction, given by God to Daniel, was
made over one half millenium
before its time came, and its words became precise history. Its topic centres in the most important event in the world, Christ and Him cut off.
See for more detail, if desired,
SMR pp. 886ff., Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 10,
Christ the Citadel Ch. 2
and Index (from Search in margin of Home Page,
which also has many more references to Daniel). On Daniel 11,
see Ch. 10 of Highway of Holiness.
When was the all-sufficient Saviour to die ?
Daniel had interpreted ROYAL dreams, been constant in faithfulness to God in a far country, to which he had been taken as cadet captive, had become elevated in the mind of his masters and both impressive and impactive, risking his life and showing vast superiority in function over all the wise men of the Babylonian Empire.
He had predicted both the order and nature of the empires which were to come in Chs. 7 and 8 as we see, and now in Ch. 9, comes the reference to the death of the Messiah. It is set in the form of a formula, derived in part from the then recent history of his nation. Empires, many, come and go in their torrid heat; Christ goes once and remains in power. The contrast is vast.
For 70 years, as predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (25), the chastened people of Israel were to be captives in Babylon, but then a conqueror by the name of Cyrus (as predicted long before this, by Isaiah in Chs. 44-45) would release them for their return to their homeland.
THE SEVENTY SEVENS
A QUO AND AD QUEM
Start and end
Using this '70', predictions were then given by the Lord to Daniel, in terms of sevens (not 'weeks', as Professor E.J. Young pointed out) and there would be 70 of these sevens before the things noted were accomplished. This all is in utter brevity set in Daniel 9:24-27. This time related to Israel and would suffice for Israel and Jerusalem, to
make an end of sin,
make reconciliation for iniquity,
bring in everlasting righteousness,
seal up the vision and prophecy
and anoint a holy of holies."
The two times of chief function are the start of the sevens, and its end. Once more with precision and brevity, we are told concerning these two features, called by many who deal with this matter, the terminus a quo and ad quem, from which and to which the sequence of sevens relates.
As to the former, it was to coincide with the command to rebuild the temple and the city, which as noted, would come from the new conquerors, who made Babylon passť! Theirs through Cyrus was a very liberal approach in this field of religion (cf. Daniel 1:1-4). As there quoted from his command, Cyrus believed that the Lord God of heaven had commissioned him,relative to building for their God "a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judea." Much help was to come to those "of all His people" wishing to participate in this project, a great permission to return within his words! It applied throughout all his kingdoms.
This however, epochal as it was, said nothing whatsoever of rebuilding the city, the terminus a quo; but it did set up the enterprise in its basis of royal command within the topic, authorised temple reconstruction, co-operation with and help for those thinking of the temple being rebuilt, and set a pattern which in due course would more easily be extended. It moved towards the terminus a quo, but did not reach it.
When was the FIRST intimation, then of a command to set to building a city as well ?
This would involve in due course a wall, but for normal defence and administrative headquarters, a definite administrative city for dispensing justice and so forth. This is found in Ezra 7:13-26. The rebuilding has been interrupted but now an imperial command comes forth in which the distinct additions are made to mere temple matters, so meeting the terminus a quo conditions, to be followed in the first case, by some 69 sevens.
Governors in the region were to understand that no tax would be levied on religious workers, that courts for the administration of justice would be set up, and Ezra himself would set up judges who would dispense law to "all the people who are in the region". To whom would he teach these laws ? both to all who knew these laws (to increase the acuity of their knowledge no doubt), and those who did not know them.
Here is a major judicial, educative and authoritarian base, not only to be set up by Ezra, but made operational with appropriate personnel "according to your God-given wisdom" .It is evident that Ezra has exceedingly impressed the Ruler who has accorded to him power both to institute, employ, teach and co-ordinate not only each phase, but all the phases, requiring a stable base.
Far from mere temple items is this. Indeed, in view of the nature of the duties, they would need quarters and protection, a city to empower and execute what the judiciary required, to enable this to be "executed speedily" according to the imperial mandate and command. Whatever is necessary is what is to be given by any relevant ruling authorities. Here then is the first fulfilment of the command as specified in the prediction through by the prophet Daniel.
As shown in Daniel 9:25, the street will be built and the wall, "in troublous times." In other words, those particulars will not be accomplished so easily, but they WILL come, and are simply the rest of the superstructure. However, these two items are NOT specified in the SIGN or signal that is to indicate the terminus a quo, for the seventy sevens.
THE SEVENTY SEVENS
THE ACTUAL DATES
As Professor Payne points out in his great work, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, p. 387, the date of the decree granted to Ezra is 458 B.C..
Now we come to the simple mathematical piece, in this interesting method of prediction, turning (significantly) the 70 years of exile as punishment, into 70 sevens of coming world history, covering the main features, thus not only Israel. 69 of these sevens would take us, as the text specifies,
to what ? To the Messiah to be cut off.
The figure is 69 times 7.
What is 483 years on from 458 AD ? It is 26 A.D. in terms of our dating system. That is the usual date assigned, in terms of all the evidence in the Bible and archeology, as the year when Jesus Christ began His Messianic ministry. Internal evidence of seasons in the Gospel indicates a ministry of some 3 and a half years.
Taking years and months into consideration, that indicates 30 AD for the death of the Messiah (by crucifixion, as in the prediction of Psalm 22).
This date is also indicated, for the ad quem time, by the fact that in these very verses of Daniel 9:24-27, we also gain the information concerning what happens "in the midst" , around the middle of the last seven (there were 70, and 69 were used up already as shown). Yes, there is one seven left: 69 gone, 1 to go. What then is the more specialised information concerning this ? It is in the midst of the last of the sevens, that the sacrifices are to cease; they will indeed be caused to cease.
Moreover, the people of the coming prince will destroy the city and the sanctuary, that is Jerusalem and the temple. That was done by the armies of Roman General Titus.
Now the last reference, in this text, to a singular person was in Daniel 9:26. It is to the Messiah, His being cut off. It flows on concerning Him, then, that He will confirm (the word in the text is NOT 'make' but 'confirm' as Professor E.J. Young insisted) a covenant; and the only one to confirm is that which was first given Israel and which repeatedly has been announced as coming up for a replacement with a "new covenant", for example in Jeremiah 31:31, in due time.
This is that new time. He confirms this, and in so doing, causes the sacrifices to cease to have validity, relevance, for they are de-authorised (cf. Isaiah 66:1ff.): they become as explained in Hebrews 8, "obsolete". This happening in the midst of the last of the predicted 70 sevens, some 3 and one half years, so takes us to 69 and one half sevens, with one half seven left for the residual times. Date-wise, we move from AD 26 to AD 30, in modern terms from the 69 and one half total so far.
THE MESSIANIC SALVATION
AMIDST THE DIRE DESOLATIONS
As to the coming prince, Young points out that it would be rather too ridiculous to try to make 'the people of the coming prince', followed by a reference to some as yet unmentioned single party without any explanation! It would be like speaking of the people of George Washington in the USA, and then in the same sweep of conversation referring to General Eisenhower in person, hundreds of years later, and one only person!
It is on the contrary a Messianic passage, and He, having confirmed the covenant for the rest of the 70 sevens, the predicted history, proceeds to the desolating of the corrupted quarters of the one who is represented by the 'pinnacle of evil', or more literally, 'the wing of abominations' in Daniel 9:27. This resembles the events as detailed in II Thessalonians 2:5-12
Everlasting righteousness however is also attained, as in the specifications in Daniel 9:24, as in the build up to the millenium (Revelation 20:4-6, Psalm 72), and the evil has one last effort as in Revelation, before the final desolations in the pit of fire, of its promoters (Revelation 20:7-10).
The return of Israel to its long appointed place after the murder of the Messiah is part of the prophecies, which will in the end all be fulfilled, sealed up, as with all the other specifics which are in them.
Now we see moreover the point of the importance that it is seventy SEVENS and not seventy weeks that are specified. The mathematical fact is that seven is the number of an item, and depending on what that item is, may be seven seconds, years, millenia or whatever the context specifies.
When the Messiah is put away, slain, mocked, nationally demarcated as a blasphemer, the simple sequence of seven years is disrupted, and as Christ declared, "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority." He wishes them to be ignorant of THIS time, and to be liable to His unexpected timing when He returns (Acts 1:7, Matthew 24:36-44). The size of the unit in the last item is specifically withheld, therefore, and apart from all else, for a very good reason!
The final extirpation of sin comes when the millenium ends with the devilish revolt when following obliterative judgment against the evil powers, there is found no place for the former heaven and earth (Revelation 20:10-11), and even these are destroyed (cf. Matthew 24:35, Luke 21:33, Mark 13:31, Isaiah 51:6, Psalm 102:25-28), II Peter 3 telling us the fiery disruptions and dispersal of their departure, as "the consummation which is determined" is poured out" (Daniel 9:27), and a "new heavens and a new earth" are founded quit of sin.
DANIEL, SEVENTY, SEVENS AND
A Supplement to the Brief Notes
Professor J. Barton Payne, in his Encyclopedia of Prophecy p. 371, gives the dates for a number of events
First, the date for the giving of Daniel 9 itself from the Lord is 538 BC, that for the terminus a quo*1 of the 70 sevens is 458, an extent of some 80 years, the date for Messiah is set at 30 AD (He is sited in the prophecy as "there is not to Him"), and this of course is in the time of the 4th Empire (the final one of Daniel 7, that proceeds towards the final end). It is notable in this context, that Daniel 11, for example, specifies the immense coverage of multitudinous international ways before only then moving abruptly to the end-time, "at the time of the end", which leads according to 9:24 specifications, into eternal and blessed righteousness with utter desolation of the antichrist .
Thus there is an option, in terms of language, in Daniel's reference to 70 sevens. It might be translated in 2 ways: 70 sevens or weeks, prima facie. Yet even so, it is written in an unusual grammatical order, so as to focus the 70, and this may have the meaning here noted. In other words, Jeremiah's prophecy that it would be 70 years that Israel would spend in exile in Babylon for its chronic sins, is now to be followed by another 70, one consisting this time, of sevens, not units, giving it, if taken invariantly, a maximum of 490 years. . This makes the Jeremiah parallel even more dramatic; obviously a profound coverage of world events in perspective is coming; and it comes!
It appears to be saying this: While we are on the topic of 70, as you have just experienced in Babylon, there is an entirely new 70 to be concerned about; in fact it comes in the format of 70 lots of 7 times. It is not limited to seven fixed units, as a week tends to be, for example. Not only is the immense stress on arithmetic kept in dealing with 7 sevens, 62 sevens, half a seven, the three and one half units case, but the simplicity of 70 which appears underscored, is explained. The units are mathematical, but not quantitatively expressed.
Thus it appears to preserve the outline intended, reveals basics, but keeps separate the end, which being hidden as to time, is contained in the final half, namely that that goes from 69 and one half sevens, to seventy sevens!
To fit the results noted in Daniel 9:24-25, into a mere 490 years, or static weeks of sevens, and 70 of them, would be far too complex and extensive; in fact, it would be ridiculous, like trying to fit furniture into a grasshopper! Indeed, we have 538 years to cover, just to reach the decease on earth of the Messiah, in the robust days of the Roman Empire, with the rest of its evil history yet to come over the centuries of its name and fame (cf. Daniel 2:36-45).
The translation 'week', for the components of the 70, is not thus suitable. It does not fit the scope and density of events over huge imperial period, that is involved. Hence we use the remarkable format with its emphasis, to adjust the end segment, and follow what Christ has to say about any attempt to proceed fast to the end! Invariant unit sevens likewise does not fit the context.
However, the sevens, the mere mathematical units provide an excellent fit for the purposes in much to reveal, and in some things to conceal. Thus, they may be extended and expanded quantitatively, in size, and this is done in the last one at the very end, till one half of the adjusted seven is symbol that covers what God as in Acts 1, concerning the end, has reason NOT to reveal. That limit is both explicit and dramatic, not only in Acts 1, but Matthew 24:36ff.. In v. 43-44, we find this:
"Therefore, you also be ready,
for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
The device thus exposes and it covers, as evidently divinely desired. It here resembles also that announcement at the outset in I Thessalonians 5.
Thus, in Daniel, what impelled to show the death date of the Messiah, now constrains NOT to disclose that of His return, which is specifically forbidden to be told, and hence even to be implied, by the Lord. Thus are all His purposes served in this ingenious device. Further, this makes it clear that the main feature is Christ and Him crucified (in terms of the Psalms in conjunction), and also that this is the central feature, the dominant event in the divine dealing with the mis-spent creation. The rest is relatively of minor importance: for after all, it is THIS Christ who saved THIS human race in THIS way, and without it, it becomes a gross, final and utter failure.
Thus, there is, after the provision in 9:24-27, just one half week left. It is a matter of 62 plus 7 plus one half "seven"*2, making 691/2 and leaving one half seven to cover all the rest of history to the judgment. Without change of quantity therefore in the sevens series, this would be ludicrously small, both historically and in terms of the biblical contexts for all the things which are predicted to happen, before the six objectives stated in Daniel 9:24 are actively fulfilled (after 70 sevens are finished).
Both in style, format and emphasis, consistency and comprehensiveness, 'sevens' is thus the term that fits. Changing its unit size is the pregnant procedure for achieving first the prediction, the most staggering over time in the Bible; second the raising of the importance of the crushing of Christ (and of course His resurrection, in context). The prediction is quite precise and awesomely apt, showing the divine oversight of history, and knowledge of it, even expressible in such an enterprise as that of the 70 sevens. Further, in the end of Daniel 9, we find the evil thrusting itself to the very end, till its desolation is complete, and other scriptures have much to say about this long interval. Daniel is dealing with empires in short-hand, with the due focus on what is essential.
In sum, the statement of Jesus Christ in Acts 1, that
"It is not for you to know times or seasons
which the Father has put in His own authority",
seals the matter at its source. The whole is accomplished in what is grandly a revelation by using a unit till the main area is covered, and then changing the size of the final unit in the series, and not here revealing what that change is*3. This terminates a series of further particulars in this revelation without breaching the format. As seen in the DNA by which our very physical lives are in one perspective actually run, the Lord is startlingly and amazingly clever. In this code for life, He is frequently using multi-function in mini-coverage of complex matters, the multi-purpose symbols according to need and facility, leaving our pride and pretensions desolate.
The Messiah, however is not desolate, but as shown in Daniel 2, in rule and reality becomes like a vast mountain imposing over the whole earth, as judgment completed, we proceed who love Him and trust in Him, to a new heavens and earth.
Detail on the Imperial Command of Ezra 7
Daniel's 70 7s Starting Point
Beyond the River Regional Commission for Jerusalem
*1 Those in this entire adjacent region are required to provide, commit to or concur with and not to obstruct the work commissioned through Ezra by the Ruler of the Medes and Persians at this point. It includes the settled establishment of education for these people, both of those knowledgeable in Jewish religious matters, and those not.
The authority vested in Ezra is such that those who refuse conformity are to be either
a) killed or
b) imprisoned or
c) stripped, suffering confiscation of goods or
d) subjected to banishment from the land altogether.
It is already clear that a centre to provide, administer, enforce this conformity or acceptance
is necessary, where order and power, organisation an knowledge may be kept and applied.
Those involved in the educational program must consent to observe these laws, thus ensuring no pockets of resistance, rebellion or partial rejection, no counter-revolution.
4) This requires quarters, living and organisational, military and educational: for those executing, administering and executing these imperial programs.
This includes judicial and establishment. facilities and power and
a headquarters site for military activities and presence.
That is the nature of the imperial edict.
In short, Jerusalem becomes not only a city, but a regional centre, and hence a considerable one in influence and power. In terms of Daniel 9:23-27, it is to be built, restored in place and position, with no small authority. Indeed, Ezra himself is to judge the region, for which purpose he is sent to Jerusalem. Such a deliverance after the humiliation of the exile and the losses, and the ruin of the city was a staggering reversal and restoration. The confidence in Ezra to built this seemed almost unbounded!
In simple terms then: Cyrus of the Empire of Medes and Persians, replacing Babylon, commissioned in detail the restoration of the temple, the one called Artaxerxes, commissioned the building of the city in place, importance and direct power, and later, as in Nehemiah, the ruler at that time, ordered the restoration of the walls. These were NOT part of of the a quo start of the 70 sevens, as in Daniel 9, but of the following period, which of course is precisely what happened. From this the 69 sevens took the prophesy to AD 26, the start of the ministry of the Lord Jesus as Messiah. The half seven was approximately the time of His ministry, bringing the date for his death to the 30 A.D. fulfilment.
Not only was the date what is the normal for His death, but the extent of time for the Ministry of the Messiah was included as a separate segment!
*2 "In the midst" ... Accordingly, after some three and one half years of ministry as Messiah, Christ makes the sacrificial system redundant, invalid and deleted by His own offering of Himself. Thus is He to "bring an end" to it. The Hebrew verb here resembles that in the noun for Sabbath, rest. The sacrificial system is brought to rest, no longer serviceable. This specialised additive to the 69 makes the prediction all the more remarkable.
*3 Indeed, in the book of Revelation, the half-seven motif appears as three and a half, 42 months, 1260 days with different applications but the same sort of symbol. Thus in Revelation 11, it covers the entire Church Age, while in Revelation 13, its referent is a portion of the antichrist climax. It thus appears in this kind of context, to become a general term to signify a definite period of tension with focus on evil impact. It can bring a sense of foreboding. This even more obscures any effort to put a figure on the end of the Age: the Lord in His word is very diligent!