Daniel 9:25-26; Sixty-Nine Sevens ~ 20220918 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
09/18_Daniel 09:25-26; Understanding the Sixty-Nine Sevens; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220918_dan09_25-26.mp3
We have been listening in on Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9. He had been reading the prophecies of Jeremiah that predicted 70 years of captivity because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord. Daniel was looking at how long he had been in Babylon, and the fact that Babylonian kingdom had fallen to the Medo-Persians as signals that this time was coming to a close. So he sought the Lord in prayer, confessing his sins and the sins of his people that sent them into captivity in the first place, asking for God to be merciful and to defend the honor of his great name which was being slandered among the nations. He asked that God would once more make his face shine on his holy city and his temple. Daniel’s prayer was interrupted by Gabriel, with this word from the Lord to him.
Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, ...
We need to keep in mind that this prophecy is primarily about the Jewish people, their city and their temple. That is what Daniel was asking about, and that is what the answer he was given says that it is about. It is God’s decree ‘about your people and your holy city.’
Daniel was asking God to turn away his anger and wrath from his holy city Jerusalem, and once again make his face shine on his sanctuary, which is desolate.
Daniel understood that Jeremiah’s prophesied 70 year captivity was coming to a close. But he is given an expansive prophecy of 70 times 7, of a coming 490 years. A much longer period of time, but a period of time that will bring about monumental accomplishments, dealing once for all with the root problems that brought about the captivity they were in, fulfilling the promises of the greater context of Jeremiah’s prophecy, changing the hearts of the people to seek the Lord (29:13), a coming Prince and Ruler who would draw near to God (30:9, 21), a new covenant that would be written on the hearts of his people (31:31-34).
Six things will be accomplished; three negative and three positive.
Daniel 9:24 ...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.
This is massive. To finally and forever deal with our transgression, iniquity and sin. To bring us a righteousness that is permanent, to fulfill all the prophecies, to re-establish the Jerusalem temple.
Daniel is admonished to know and understand what the messenger is telling him. This is not unknowable. It is straightforward. Daniel is expected to get this.
Daniel 9:25 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.”
Essentials vs. Non-essentials
Before we dive in to the details, there’s something we need to keep in mind. There is difference of opinion within the Christian church on how to understand this passage, and that’s OK. All Christians rightly called by that name agree on the essential truths of Christianity, that there is only one sovereign God eternally existing in the three distinct persons of Father, Son and Spirit, that God the Son became human in the person of Jesus, died on a cross as a substitute for the sins of all who would put their trust in him, and he is coming back again for all who love him. Who God is, who Jesus is, and what is the good news of how we can be right with God and enjoy relationship with him forever, these are the essentials on which all who follow Jesus agree. There are plenty of secondary issues we can disagree on, we can argue about, and at the end of the day it is important for us to affirm that we are brothers and sisters, united by a common faith in the greatest news that God loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son to die for our sins so that all who depend on him him will not suffer the punishment we deserve but instead enjoy unending life with him.
Unfulfilled Prophecy and Future Fulfillment
Scholars and students of the Bible do not agree on how to understand this prophecy, as well as many other portions of Scripture that foretell future events, which is a good indicator that they have not been completely fulfilled yet. As they say ‘hindsight is 20/20’. Many prophecies have parallels in historical events, but not all the details fit precisely, so we await a future fulfillment that will demonstrate that ‘every word of God proves true’ (Prov.30:5). It is important to approach with appropriate patience and humility when we study a passage over which there is much disagreement.
Starting Point of the Seventy Sevens
Daniel 9:25 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, ...
Daniel is instructed to know and understand. The starting point of the seventy sevens is given, from which he should be able to know and understand when to expect Messiah the Prince.
But this is where it is gets difficult. Just like Daniel seeking to understand Jeremiah’s prophecy, there was a question of the starting point of that prophecy. Was it the first deportation of the nobility in 605 BC, of which Daniel and his friends were a part; or was it the mass deportation that happened when Jehoiachin surrendered in March of 597 BC; or was it August of 586 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar finally laid waste rebellious Jerusalem and destroyed its temple? If it was the first, they are almost there; if the last, they have almost two more decades to wait.
For Daniel’s prophecy, we also have at least three options. In the same year that Daniel prayed, (538 BC) Cyrus, as prophesied by Isaiah, decreed the return of the captives to Jerusalem, and authorized the return of the treasures of the temple taken by Nebuchadnezzar. This decree is recorded in Ezra 1. Over 42,000 people returned under Zerubbabel. The temple was finally completed in 516 BC
But 80 years after the decree of Cyrus, in 458 BC Artaxerxes I made the decree recorded in Ezra 7 which pledged support of the temple and authorized Ezra the scribe and any priests, Levites, or other people of Israel to return to Jerusalem. Ezra was to teach the people God’s law and appoint leaders who knew God’s law.
Then 13 years later, Artaxerxes I issued another decree, this time to Nehemiah in 445 BC, recorded in Nehemiah 2:5-8. The temple had been rebuilt and was functioning to some extent, but the walls of the city were in ruins, the gates were burned, and the people were oppressed by their neighbors. The king granted to Nehemiah authority to rebuild the gates and the walls of the city.
The prophecy given to Daniel stated the beginning point as ‘from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.’ Cyrus’ decree was specifically to ‘rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem’, and he authorized ‘everyone whose spirit God has stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the LORD.’ Implicit in this would be permission for them to settle there and carry on the work of building and then serving in the temple.
Ezra was commissioned primarily to teach the people God’s law and to appoint godly leadership.
The decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah explicitly authorized the rebuilding of the city with its walls and gates.
Punctuating the Sentence
Daniel 9:25 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.
The beginning point is the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and the end point is Messiah the Prince. There is an issue of punctuation in this verse; the ESV following the RSV insert a full stop and a ‘then’ after the seven weeks; this would imply that the anointed one or Messiah will come after the first seven weeks. Most other translations indicate that the seven weeks and the sixty two weeks are a combined period after which Messiah comes. The NASB reads this way:
NASB(95): 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.
If it is right to understand the weeks as weeks of years, the ESV punctuation would indicate that the anointed prince comes after the first 49 years, and that the city either takes another 434 years to be build, or that it lasts for 434 years. This would also imply that the anointed one of verse 26 who is cut off after the 434 years is different than the coming anointed prince of verse 25.
If we follow the NASB punctuation, Messiah the Prince comes after 49 + 434 years or 483 years, and then that same anointed one is cut off shortly after his coming. The reason for separating the 483 years into 49 and 434 is not stated, although likely the first 49 years relate to the rebuilding of the city, with squares and moat, but in troubled times. The books of Ezra-Nehemiah detail the hostility toward rebuilding from the surrounding peoples.
Details of Dates
Sir Robert Anderson, an investigator at London’s Scotland Yard published his computations in 1895. Starting from the decree to Nehemiah in 445 BC and using the Jewish lunar calendar of 30 day months, the 483 years concluded on April 6, AD 32, the very day Anderson argues Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed as King of Israel. When confronted by the religious leaders, Jesus said that ‘if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’ Then he wept over Jerusalem, lamenting “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Lk.19:38-44). Most scholars today question AD 32 as the date of the crucifixion, arguing that AD 30 or 33 are more likely dates. Anderson’s calculations are still quite impressive, and some have attempted to adjust them based on more current information.
Others take the decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra in 458 BC as the starting point and adding 483 land on AD 26, the likely year of Jesus’ anointing with the Holy Spirit at his baptism.
The fact that scholars today still disagree on the exact date of Christ’s crucifixion demonstrates that we simply don’t have enough precise knowledge of ancient chronologies to be dogmatic about which date is correct, but we can be confident that ‘every word of God proves true’.
Messiah Cut Off
It is impressive that Daniel was given information that over a coming 49 years the temple and the city Jerusalem would be rebuilt. It is astounding that 500 years before the event, Daniel was given a word from the Lord about the time until the coming of Messiah the Prince, but after his coming he would be cut off and have nothing.
Isaiah, even earlier (c740BC), prophesied about this coming one:
Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14 As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— ...
Isaiah 53:2 ...he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Messiah the Prince shall be high and lifted up, exalted. But he shall be cut off out of the land of the living, and have nothing. No form or majesty, no beauty; no voice, no justice – three times he was declared innocent and still they demanded his crucifixion; no followers – they all fled; no clothing – the soldiers gambled over his last earthly possession. No grave – he was laid in a borrowed tomb. He had nothing. He was cut off out of the land of the living. He was even cut off from his relationship with the Father, cut off because of my sins, cut off for me. Jesus was cut off so that I could be reconciled to God.
2022.09.18 Sermon Notes
Daniel 9:25-26; Understanding the Sixty-Nine Sevens
Unity in Essentials vs. non-essentials
Philippians 1:27; Jude 1:3; Romans 14:1
Every word of God proves true
Starting pont of Jeremiah’s Seventy years?
605 BC Nebuchadnezzar takes choice captives
597 BC Jehoiachin surrendered;10,000 deported
586 BC Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem and temple
Starting pont of the Seventy Sevens?
538 BC Decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:2-4)
458 BC Artaxerxes I to Ezra (Ezra 7:11-26)
445 BC Artaxerxes I to Nehemiah (Neh.2:5-8)
Punctuating the Sentence (v.25)
ESV: ...there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it...
NASB: ...there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it...
...until Messiah the Prince
Baptism AD 26?
Triumphal Entry AD 30, 32, 33?
and after ...Messiah cut off and have nothing
Isaiah 52:13-14; 53:2-9
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org