Daniel 9:20-27 (Part 2) – What’s Important About Biblical Prophecy (And It’s Not All About the United States)!

Posted: June 25, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 9:20-27 (Part 2)

Gabriel’s Message about the Anointed One

Have you ever had a person in your life that thinks of themselves as more well-known than they really are? These are the people that see a local celebrity on television and claim that they are friends with that person. They make these claims because they know that you will never verify whether it is true or not. We have all known people like that. There have been books about the lies we tell ourselves so much that we sadly believe them such as the classic work, Death of a Salesman. There has been someone in your life that you have encountered that has so deluded themselves and their importance in life that they believe the lies that they tell. We are often that way when it comes to the prophecies in the Bible. In America, we think of ourselves as the greatest nation on earth, militarily, economically, athletically, socially, you name it. With the king of the hill complex that we have, we often interject the United States into biblical prophecy. Although there may be a role for the United States in the end times, it may not be in the way that we self-importantly place ourselves in it. By the end times, we may not even be a world power anymore, maybe we will. Who knows? The Bible is silent when it comes to a nation that the divinely inspired human writers would not even have known about or even could have conceptualized in their mind at the time. Therefore, we have to be careful “in reading too much USA into biblical prophecy”. Of course, we are a people of the future that the Bible speaks of for certain but like I said for there to be specific role for a future nation called the United States of America may be like the person who believes he knows celebrities when he really doesn’t – projecting our own self-importance onto the reality of the world around us.

 

Having said all that, let us look at what Gabriel’s message means. Let’s read what is said in this passage:

 

20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

 

24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

 

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

 

The first thing that we have to do is to determine what the length of time is in Gabriel’s message. Gabriel states that these things will be accomplished in 70 weeks. Sometimes, there are troubles in translating Hebrew into English. Hebrew is a much more compact language than English and the same word in Hebrew can have varied meanings depending on the context in which they are used. In English, we have some of that but not to the extent of the Hebrew language, particularly in the Biblical era. In the Old Testament times, we know of 8,000 different Hebrew words that were used in the Old Testament books. Compare that to the English language which had eclipsed 1,000,000 total words in our language by 2010. Thus, English has become a language of specific words for specific situations whereas the Hebrew language (though it has eclipsed 45,000 words by 2010) of the Bible and its 8,000 different words relies heavily on context for one to understand the meaning of a word. Having said all that, the first clue we have is that weeks are years. For it is Daniel’s prayer here in this chapter that occurs 70 years after the conquering of Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies. Further, according to www.gracebibleny.com, in their post http://gracebibleny.org/understanding_vision_daniel_92027,

 

“…the reason for the 70 years of desolation in Jerusalem is because this was the number of Sabbatical years that they had violated (2 Chronicles 36:21 cf. Leviticus 26:34), and 70 Sabbatical years would take 490 years to accumulate which in turn corresponds to seventy “weeks” of years here in Daniel 9:24. Third, the many things that Gabriel states would have to be accomplished during this period of time would take longer than what would be provided by units of 490 days, weeks (about 9 ½ years) or months (nearly 41 years). This would include not only the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem, but also the coming of Messiah, His being cut off and the city and the sanctuary destroyed again. Fourth, we live many centuries after many of these events have occurred and it is confirmed that this is referring to weeks of years.”

 

 

Thus, it is fairly certain in scholarly circles that the meaning of the “weeks” is simply a reference to units of time passage and in this case, years is the logical conclusion.

 

As this vision and Daniel’s prayer are very specific to the Jewish people, we must be careful not to put too much future casting into this vision. It is clear that none of this vision can offer any reading into about the United States. Further, it would be difficult to interject the Christian church into it. This is a vision for the Jewish people about the future of the nation of Israel as it was known in the biblical era. Then, in the second half of v. 26, the broad future of the end of time is prophesied. Vv. 26-27 do not give specifics about the future with the long-ranging prophecy of a prince (who we can conclude from Revelation that it is the Anti-Christ) at the end of all time who will also defile the Temple in Jerusalem or the remains thereof.

 

Gabriel’s words in this passage through the first half of v. 26 are very specific about the nation of Israel. All of the transgressions, and working out of sin and repentance, all must occur before Jerusalem is restored but Gabriel promises that it will happen. Through repentance, Israel will be restored. Once the results of their wickedness and rebellion against have all worked themselves out Israel will be restored. Once they have paid the price for wickedness and have atoned for their sins, Jerusalem will become a holy city once again. As we know, from other exilic books in the Old Testament, Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland beginning in 538 BC and the temple was rebuilt around 457 BC under the watchful eye of Artaxerxes, the next named ruler after Cyrus. In Nehemiah, we know that the whole city had been rebuilt by 445 BC.

 

Gabriel also gives warning too that the future would again involve destruction because of Israel’s inability to recognize Jesus as the Messiah which occurred with utter brutality under the Romans in 70AD. Then, Gabriel projects far into the future. There will be wars and destruction throughout history until the time of the end. In this future period is where we are now. There is no mention of the United States other than we are a people of the future who will be a part of the wars and desolations that will occur after the final destruction of biblical Israel in 70AD. We are a part of the future. We may not see ourselves the arising of the Anti-Christ but it will happen in the period of the future that we are in – anything that happens after the final destruction of biblical Israel in 70AD. To say that America will play a prominent role in the end times is a bit presumptious because we don’t know when the Rapture and Tribulation noted here and in Revelation will occur. It may be 2 years from now, 20 years from now or 200 or even 2,000 years from now. We just don’t know. To project ourselves as a country into these prophecies is a bit self-important.

 

The only thing that we do know for sure from biblical prophecy is that there will be an end to the world as we know it at some point in the future that could happen tomorrow or 20,000 tomorrows from now. We must not read ourselves into these prophecies as if the end is upon us but we must live prepared lives. We must not be constantly looking for signs of the end times, but rather live lives that are reflective of our Savior Jesus Christ. Instead of seeking signs of the end times, we should have urgency for evangelizing those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. If there is anything that we can take away from end times prophecies is that only the Father knows when it will happen and we must have urgency to bring people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ before we reach the end of our lives or the end of the world as we know it. So, let’s spend more time on that rather than conjecturing what the role of the United States will be in the end times. We should just know that the end could happen at any time and we must take seriously the role we play as Christians to make disciples of all nations before the final judgment time comes upon us. Stop trying to calculate time frames. Stop trying to determine if Obama is the Anti-Christ and start living with urgency for evangelism.

 

Amen and Amen.

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