Seventy Weeks III

We left off last time talking about the decree of Daniel 9:27 and we noted that that decree was issued by the Persian King Cyrus concerning the rebuilding of the Temple. This is the Temple that became known as the Second Temple or Herod’s Temple, and it was the Temple that was standing in the time of Christ.

We see that this decree is part of the seventy weeks, which speaks of the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:24-27). Here is 9:25 – “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.” That means from Persian King Cyrus’ decree until Messiah the Prince (the first advent of Christ) was sixty-nine weeks (seven weeks and sixty-two weeks).

This should be pretty straight forward – if you are objective and you view the written word, in this case, the written Word of God, through the eyes of the author. That is the correct and proper way. What is the author, in this case, God, through His angel Gabriel, saying to Daniel?

The Scriptures give us a lot of information; it’s up to us to show ourselves approved workmen, rightly dividing the word of truth. The information we need is provided. What we see is this: Cyrus, as we said, issued the initial decree (Ezra 1:1-4; see also 5:13). There was opposition to the Temple’s rebuilding and King Artaxerxes ordered it stopped (4:17-22) until King Darius ordered it to be resumed (4:24). But that wasn’t good enough for those in opposition because Darius was challenged to find the initial decree by Cyrus – which they did (5:17-6:2), and which we referenced last time (6:3).

That is what the angel Gabriel was talking about in the seventy weeks prophecy that was given to Daniel (Daniel 9:25). This was all happening during the transition from Babylonian to Medo-Persian rule. In the background was the kingdom of Greece, whom the Persians were already warring with, and the rising Roman Kingdom, which was already established in Daniel’s time in 510BC, making for a very interesting time of transition. The Romans would eventually declare their Empire in 27BC.

This is an interesting and important time period, one which would become known as Hellenization (which is the Greek influence on the Jews), and the reason why the New Testament was written in Greek and the Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint).

So, the initial decree of Daniel 9:24 was that of Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. But there was a second decree – one of complete destruction that would be poured out on the one who makes desolate (Daniel 9:27). History affords us the luxury of determining that Gabriel was clearly talking about what Antiochus Epiphanes did in 167BC. That was still ~400 years in the future to Daniel. The question is, what satisfies the last half of 9:27 – about a decreed destruction?

Now, to be sure, there were quite a few decrees issued. In fact, Ezra 6:14b sums it up nicely: “And they finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” As we see, there were decrees from Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, according to the command of the God of Israel. Is a command of God not a decree? Greater, even, than the decree of man?

This is where we come back to Jesus’ prophecy. The Lord prophesied what He did in the way He did, invoking Daniel’s name. Is that not also a decree? He said,  “For then there will be ‘a great tribulation,’ such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will,” the Lord said (Matthew 24:21). Daniel had wailed, “For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem” (9:12b).

Similarities? Do they not both make “limitless” or “immeasurable” – infinite pronouncements? “Under the whole heaven” “There has not been done anything,” said Daniel. “Such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will,” said Jesus. This is not a mere exaggeration, nor hyperbole. This is Daniel, the prophet of God, a man of high esteem. And Jesus, the Son of God, God the Son. No, this is significant, and it is all about Jerusalem.

“And on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate,” Gabriel told Daniel (Daniel 9:27b). “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” said Jesus (Matthew 24:15). They weren’t talking about the same exact event that occurred at one particular time, they were talking about similar events which occurred at two different times. And both of these occurred subsequent to the first time, which had occurred prior to when Gabriel gave the seventy weeks prophecy to Daniel, i.e. when Babylon did it.

So you see, those whom Jesus was talking to would have known what He was talking about because they, and their ancestors, had seen it before – twice! First by the Chaldeans, then by Antiochus. This (what the Romans did in 70AD), would make it the third time. That which the angel Gabriel was talking about in Daniel 9:27 could be construed to be either what Antiochus or Titus did, or both – but could he have been looking past both of those events to a time still in our future? That would be ludicrous.

Now, consider the fact that all of what we have said was about God’s holy city, Jerusalem, and His Temple, and the fact that the city would be destroyed for – the third time and the Temple for the second. But this time was an even more significant event, because this era, this age – was the age – the age the disciples asked Jesus about in Matthew 24:3 – it was that generation which would see all these things that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 23:36 and 24:34, and it was the age which was coming to an end – the age of the Old Covenantal sacrifice system – the age of what we know as the Old Testament – and it was growing old and was ready to disappear (Hebrews 8:13). And it did disappear.

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