Sunday, April 17, 2005


Daniel in the Lion's Plan

Since the whole crux of the matter is Jesus, Him being at the center of our Gospel, maybe the starting place should be Daniel. Huh? The Seventy Sevens has been referred to as the “backbone of biblical prophecy”. An amazing prophet, Daniel was given a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in his lifetime. Jeremiah 19:10 foretold Israel’s captivity in Babylon and put a number on it—seventy years. Hello…I thought we were talking about Jesus? Well yeah. Soon. Before I forget, this is not from Christianity is Jewish. Most of this info comes from Walvoord’s Every Prophecy in the Bible. Back to Daniel. Sixty-seven years after the prophecy of Babylonian captivity, Daniel read Jeremiah’s writings and began praying for the return of his people to their homeland. (Dan. 9) Seventy prophetic years (360 days/yr.) was cut slightly short (the captivity lasted from 605 BC-538-37 BC) possibly because of Daniel’s prayer of submission, confession, and petition. Daniel was then given Messianic prophecy, the Jesus part, and end-time prophecy. Gabriel came to Daniel while he was still in prayer, to tell him of the “Seventy Sevens”. Conservative scholars mostly agree that this means 490 years. What will happen in those years? Daniel 9:24 says:
1)”To finish transgression”
2)”to put an end to sin”
3)”to atone for wickedness”
4)”to bring in everlasting righteousness”
5)”to seal up vision and prophecy”
6)”to anoint the Most Holy”
Some could be considered fulfilled already. Jesus died on the cross to atone for wickedness. The book of prophecy has been sealed in the completion of the Bible. Nothing is to be added (or taken away). Some of these visions, we painfully know, are not completed. Sin has not ended and the ‘Most Holy’ has yet to have His Temple place, a throne. What these six things all have in common is that they are the Almighty God’s plan for His Creation. The setup was completed. Israel had been given the chance to freely follow God and they had failed.
Where does the 490 years begin? “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’.” Problem: there were four separate decrees before the rebuilding of Jerusalem actually got going all the way to completion! Three rulers had to give it a push! The first decree given by Cyrus in 538 BC (at the release of the Jewish peoples) didn’t make it happen. (2Chron. 36:20-23) Cyrus is one of three people named in prophecy before they were born, by the way. (Isaiah 44:24-28) Jesus is another. Maybe we’ll learn the third later. A second decree of Darius, confirming the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 6:6-12) and the decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11-26) didn’t bring on a new Jerusalem. Not until a second decree from Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1-8) and the miraculous date of 444 BC were the city and city wall rebuilt. Why so special is this? It marks the perfect beginning of the Seventy Sevens or 490yrs. Daniel's prophecy covers this time of rebuilding in Nehemiah through all history to the New Heaven, New Earth and the New, Eternal Jerusalem. (Rev. 21 and 22)
How can we know the decree is the beginning of the Seventy Sevens? Because Daniel gives us a date for when “the Messiah is cut off”. (Dan. 9:26) It’s after sixty-two sevens.

Artaxerxes' decree seems a little strange to me compared to the much more significant times that would have served as a better starting point to most readers during that period. Cyrus seems more reasonable to me, but he doesn't lead to the results you want if you insist that it must be a literal 490 years.

Of course, there is reason not to take it literally. It's clearly symbolic as 70 times 7, which isn't meant literally the only place it occurs in the NT, which is on the lips of Jesus. Also, 7 is symbolic of completion, and 49 is the Jubilee year. That doesn't mean it's purely symbolic, but it's reason not to insist that it be taken literally as if it's denying the authority of scripture to take it purely symbolically.

One possible interpretation is that the 70 years until restoration are surpassed spritually by 70 times 7 years of spiritual restoration, a 70 that's greater than any other 70. Therefore, the last week of the 70, which turns out not to be a literal week either, is the fulfillment of all biblical promises in the Messiah.
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