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Lowell Brueckner

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The Seventy Weeks


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.”
Daniel 12:4

Chapter 9:20-27                                      The Seventy Weeks

20.  While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, 
21.  while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 
22.  He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, "O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 
23.  At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision. 

Daniel’s prayer has been conducted according to the Word of God, presented in the book of Jeremiah. The study of the Word goes hand in hand with prayer. I mentioned in my commentary over the first part of this chapter that Daniel prayed in the first person plural… we. One might conclude that his identification with the people was strictly national… he was praying, as a fellow Jew. Or possibly, he might be tempted to see Daniel as a bit sanctimonious, attempting to appear humble before God. Of course, we need to reject any such thoughts and see this man, acutely aware of his own sin. The order in the first verse of this lesson is, first of all, “my sin”, and then “the sin of my people Israel”. All genuine men of God walk in the light that reveals their own sin, before the sins of others.

Daniel was in the act of prayer, when the answer came; we might say that he prayed until the answer came. Gabriel, the angel who was named in chapter eight, when Daniel was in Susa in his vision, has returned. He appears as a man and yet, he is flying. He comes swiftly: When a person is praying in the will of God, with only the fulfillment of His purposes in mind, God is not only willing to answer, but He sends the answer swiftly. It may be worthwhile to mention, that the ways of heaven have always been superior to the ways of earth. Long before the jet age on earth, heaven messaged by “air mail”.

In prayer, Daniel was in the Spirit, involved with Zion, “the holy hill of my God”, and his time schedule is in tune with “the evening sacrifice”. Once Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the temple, the evening and morning sacrifices ceased, but Daniel’s thoughts were still in accordance with the way things God had ordained that they should be. The man of God cannot forget these things, because they find their fulfillment in Christ, the hope of Israel. The arrival of Gabriel corresponds with the ninth-hour whole burnt offering, which was the time of day, when Jesus cried with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. “Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God” (He.9:14). This is the answer to the sin problem, for which Daniel has interceded.

The heavenly messenger brought “insight and understanding” with him. Godly religion is not like the heathen religions that keep their devotees in ignorance. “I do not want you to be uninformed,” Paul said, “You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led” (1 Co.12:1,2). Christianity is not a playground for the ignorant. It is not an excuse for the lazy mind of the foolish, although manipulators would like to deceive them, because they find easy prey among the ignorant. The representatives of Rome tried to keep the Word of God out of the hands of their people, in general, so that they could hold them in subjection. To teach that a lack of understanding offers some kind of advantage is totally false. Gabriel brings understanding to Daniel, in order that he might relay it to the whole world in his day and in the ages to come. This is the will of God, as well as the will of His prophets and apostles.

Gabriel presents another important truth: God’s answer is sent out immediately at the onset of prayer. It comes on angel’s wings, swiftly and personally. (We will see another factor, concerning answers to prayer, that comes into play in the next chapter.) This truth is given for our encouragement in prayer and we need to keep it in mind constantly, don’t we?

Jesus gave great enlightenment to Nathanael at the beginning of his discipleship. He said, “Truly, truly (amen, amen), “I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (Jn.1:51). Christ was Jacob’s ladder, through Whom the communication between earth and heaven is possible. Angels ascend with the prayers of saints, who offer them in Jesus’ name, and they descend with the answer from the Throne Room. We see it in this passage, in the following chapter, and in the case of Zachariah (Lk.1:11,13), Cornelius (Ac.10:3-4) and in the prayer of the church for Peter (Ac.12:5,7). See also Revelation 8:3-5.   

Prayer is at the center of our relationship with God and is intimate communication between God and man. Gabriel brings Daniel a message, while he was alone, talking to God, which came straight from the Lord’s heart. Daniel, recognizing his sin and that of his people, has been pleading for mercy. Consequently, “A word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” The Lord wanted Daniel to be assured of His love for him.

The Bible is all about a love relationship with God. Abraham and Moses were particularly called friends of God and there is multiple evidence throughout the Old Testament of God’s personal love for individuals. In the New Testament, the apostle John, especially, conveys to his reader, the love that exists between the Father and the Son. He gives his own testimony, concerning that love, which was revealed to him. He showed us that Jesus desired friendship with his followers, called Lazarus our friend, and John made a special comment, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (Jn.11:5). Then, two chapters later, he remarks, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to perfection (eternally, or to the maximum… Jn.13:1)

24.  "Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 
25.  Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 
26.  And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 
27.  And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator." 

These four verses are some of the most crucial and startlingly accurate pro-phecies in all the Bible. They open a key to the book of Revelation. When Jesus made a remark about the “abomination of deso-lation” it seems to me most likely that it was Matthew, who inserted a comment, “Let the reader under-stand” (Mt.24:15). Gabriel has come to give insight and understanding, precisely, over this matter and the Lord has given it to Daniel, so that his readers also might understand. The Holy Spirit, who shows us things to come (Jn.16:13), expects that we should know the meaning of this portion. If you do not, after studying the next page or two, you should know. That is quite a hopeful prospect, don’t you think? 

Do you have a problem with the term seventy weeks? I will just simply state, that the Jews of the Old Testament did not. That is, in their literature they were familiar with using the term weeks, as applied to weeks of years, rather than weeks of days. Actually, the literal Hebrew word is not weeks, but sevens... so literally, we are dealing with seventy sevens. Notice, very similarly in Leviticus 25:8, concerning the Year of Jubilee: "You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years” (Lev.25:8). There are other texts that we could point to, but I think this one sufficiently clarifies the need to substitute years for days in our thinking. If not, just read this paragraph carefully again.

The prophecy basically concerns Daniel’s people and his holy city… that is, it is a prophecy concerning the Jews and Jerusalem. We may term it, “The Time of the Jews”. As Gentiles, it is a Jewish matter, into which we are engrafted. Because the Messiah is vitally involved, it holds great interest for us, as well. However, when Jesus began to speak about the abomination of desolation, He applied it strictly to the Jews. Notice, “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,” (Mt.24:16). This prophetic order is to be taken very literally and so are the verses that follow it.

These seventy sevens, or seventy times seven, 490 years, are divided into three unequal parts. The first is exactly as long as the period marked in Leviticus, seven times seven, or 49 years. The second is sixty-two times seven, or 434 years. Those two periods total 483 years, so we have left a third period, a single period of seven years, completing 490 years, or seventy times seven. Are you ready to continue?

Several things occur during this time, relating to the Jews, in answer to Daniel’s prayer for mercy and forgiveness. In the first place, it will serve “to finish the transgression (See v.11… it deals with the long trend of sin and disobedience in Israel), to put an end to sin (to finally and forever judge sin by the death of the Messiah), and to atone for iniquity (to cover sin through the blood of the Messiah)”. These three works were accomplished at the cross, but will not be fully applied to the Jewish nation until Christ returns. Then, righteousness will be ushered in and Israel will become a righteous nation. The vision and the prophets will come to their completion in total fulfillment of all prophecy. Finally, the third temple will be constructed and used, as a center or worship, during the Millennium.

These 490 years have a very definite starting point. “From the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem… there shall be seven weeks.” The beginning of the first 49 years is found in the book of Nehemiah, when he receives the kingly order to reconstruct Jerusalem, beginning with the walls, “in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes… the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me” (Neh.2:1-8). In our reckoning, it happened in March/April, 445 B.C.

God’s hand was very clearly and sovereignly in this matter, because it was leading to the time of the Messiah. After Jerusalem was reconstructed, Gabriel revealed, the second part of the time schedule would begin. It is the sixty-two times seven year period, or 434 years, and marks the end of the Old Testament, the interim period between Testaments and the beginning of the New Testament. The total of 483 years (49 + 434) take us precisely to March/April of 33 A.D.

So, it was a precise time schedule, which Jesus entered and understood, as He approached the cross. It was marked to the month and year. “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father” (Jn.13:1).The 483rd year, marked the death of the Messiah, the Anointed One. “After the sixty-two weeks (plus the prior seven weeks), an anointed one, shall be cut off.” He was identified already in verse 25 as an anointed one and a prince. He would not die a natural death, He would be cut off… He would be killed.

The second chapter of Luke marks 450 years into the 483-year time period and in the chapter, we find people awaiting Christ’s coming, although they didn’t know exactly, the time of His birth. Gabriel did not reveal that time to Daniel, nor is it revealed in any other prophecy. Gabriel came only to Mary to announce her instrumentality in His soon-coming birth and then, a few months into her pregnancy, he revealed it to Joseph. No one else knew beforehand.

We remember the story of Simeon and Anna, to be sure, but notice, when Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord, Anna began to “speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem (Lk.2:38). There was a people in Jerusalem in high expectation of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy! Perhaps, they had already been waiting for several years and with each passing year, they knew that His coming was that much closer. With only 33 more years until His death, it must be very close. Do you find this as astounding as I do?

So Simeon, Anna and this group of people that we find in the temple in Jerusalem 450 years after the order to rebuild Jerusalem, although they didn’t know the age of the Messiah at His death, they did know the month and year of His death. They understood that He would not fulfill a normal life span. Also, he would not establish His kingdom in Jerusalem at that time…  He “shall have nothing.” We have here absolute prophetic proof that the promised Messiah of Israel came and died in the First Century! I have heard at least one Jew testify that it was this prophecy that caused him to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was his Messiah.

“The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” The legs of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and that of the fourth beast in Daniel’s dream come into play at this time. You will see now how vital the prophecies of chapter two and seven are. The prince of the fourth beast (and the legs of the image) would invade Jerusalem, sometime after the death of the Messiah, and would destroy it, burning the sanctuary and putting the Jews to flight. They were scattered to the ends of the earth. This happened in 70 A.D. and, from that point until the 20th Century, the Jews were without a homeland.

Another very important matter took place in Jesus’ final week on this earth. The clock (the timer, if you will) given to Daniel that marked the Time of the Jews as 490 years, stopped after 483 years. It has not started again since. Instead, God opened the door specifically to the nations of the world, giving opportunity to all the non-Jewish people to find salvation. You will see how this process developed in the book of Acts. Jesus called it The Times of the Gentiles (Lc.11:24) and Paul spoke of the fulfillment of that time (Ro.11:25). You can also read Paul’s account of the Gentiles being ushered in, and also of the final restoration of the Jews, in which all Israel will be saved, in Romans 9 through 11.

The Roman general, Titus, brought total destruction to Jerusalem and its temple, like a flood. Jesus said, “There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Mt.24:2). He also declared, “Your house is left to you desolate” (Mt.23:38). He turned His Father’s house over to them for destruction and it was left desolate. Not only was the temple desolate, but all the city was left desolate by the Jews, and, in fact, they totally abandoned their homeland.

Verse 27 brings the 490-year period to a close, but, as we mentioned, after 483 years, the Lord opened the door to preach the gospel among all the nations. It has been taking place right up to the present day in 2018. At the beginning of the last seven years of the Jews, which could occur at any time, he, the prince of the final beast, will make a covenant with many of the Jews. He is the leader of Rome, the fourth empire, but he is not the same person, obviously, as in verse 26.  I tried to emphasize the oneness of the image in Daniel 2, precisely because of the pronoun he in this verse. It is the prince of all the composite world empires that have ever existed. It is the little horn on the fourth beast and the ruler of the feet of the image. He comes to the fore in the reformation of the Roman Empire, which will take place in the last days of this age, and he is the Antichrist.

He will make a strong, but deceitful, seven-year treaty that involves the Jews… for their final seven years… and in it they will restore their sacrificial system. Midway through the treaty, he will break the treaty and put an end to their sacrificial worship. He himself will take his seat in the temple and proclaim himself God (2 Tes.2:3-12). This act is the abomination of desolation. The temple is desolate, because he has desecrated it by blasphemous words and deeds (notice the similarity to the desolation caused by Antiochus Epiphanes). He will govern the entire world for those final 3½ years.

The end of the Antichrist is described here and in several other places, some of which we have already studied in chapter 2 and 7. In the last words of this chapter, Gabriel concludes… “until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”  In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul declares, “Whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” I think, we have already quoted twice Revelation 13:10 and in chapter 19:11-16,  John describes One on a white horse, called Faithful and True, the Word of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He also has a name, which only He Himself knows. He captured the beast and the false prophet and they were thrown alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev.19:20).


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