Year 3 Day 37
Read - Daniel 9v24-27
Message - Scott Woodburn
Today's devotion is a two-parter which by the grace of God we'll finish on Saturday. The passage before us is a tricky one and worth taking our time over. Gabriel has been sent by God to answer Daniel's prayer. The seventy years of exile are nearly over and so Daniel prayed that the Lord would restore His people to their home in Judah. In response the Lord told Daniel about a coming "seventy weeks".
How are we to understand this seventy week period? Let's break it down. Remember that seven is the number denoting perfection in Scripture. The Lord created in six days and then rested on the seventh. The Holy Spirit is called the seven-fold spirit of God. Seven equals perfection. Often in Scripture we also see numbers multiplied by ten. Ten is seen as a full number and so when Peter asked if we should forgive seven times, Jesus replied "seventy times seven" or in other words, seven times ten times seven.
So what about the seventy weeks? Seven times ten gives seventy and there are seven days in a week. Daniel is therefore told about a period of time which will last four hundred and ninety days. Many see this as a literal prediction of four hundred and ninety days (some even argue for four hundred and ninety years) but I respectfully disagree. This is a symbolic number just as Christ's word to Peter was symbolic - we are to forgive much more than four hundred and ninety times!
Daniel is being taught about a perfect and complete period of time which amazingly will run from the exile's return to Jerusalem to the second coming of Christ. Can I prove that? I think so. Gabriel tells Daniel that during this period of seventy weeks six things must take place "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." (v24) Christ does this work at Calvary and will bring everything to completion at His return. So Daniel's prayer is answered in a local and then a universal fashion. God tells him that the exile is coming to an end but it is only a small part of an even greater return from exile. The small story is part of a massive picture. Just as the Jewish exiles would return to Jerusalem, so too will Christian exiles one day see heaven.
The seventy weeks are made up of three periods. Firstly, there will be seven weeks. This period began when the word went out to restore Jerusalem in 538BC at the command of king Cyrus. Ezra therefore was the promised prince who led the people to rebuild the temple and renew sacrifices to the Lord.
The second period was for sixty-two weeks and began with the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem and ended with the first coming of Christ. It was a troubled time (v25) with Jerusalem under the boot of many enemies including Antiochus and then the Romans. But a light would shine again with the arrival of Christ. Jesus was the anointed one who was to be cut off and have nothing (v26). Christ was cut off for our sake, He was left with nothing - forsaken by His friends and by God. Then in 70AD the Romans stamped out a Jewish rebellion and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. It is this event that was foretold by Gabriel in these verses.
The angelic messenger would say "The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." (v26) which spoke of the Roman soldiers under Titus who turned Jerusalem upside-down. Since those days the temple has not been rebuilt. As the Romans rampaged through Jerusalem there were indeed "desolations" with blood flowing down the streets and even cannibalism among the starving people.
There is one more week spoken of in this chapter and by the grace of God we'll consider the final week on Saturday.
Daniel had prayed for God's mercy and for a return to Jerusalem. What the Lord gave him was an even grander explanation of world events and history. Nothing is out of God's control. He is not surprised by anything and He knows when a bird falls out of a tree. He has declared the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. Do not tremble in these dark days for our God remains absolutely sovereign over all and He is working out His plan for the redemption of His exiled people.
"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2)
Q40 What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience? The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.