Before I go to today’s blog, I just noticed a mistake from my last blog which has now been corrected. I had said that Daniel had recalled the words of Isaiah concerning the 70 year exile, and it should have been Jeremiah. Somehow it slipped past my notice in my editing stage.
Going to today’s passage, we look at one of the most remarkable passages of prophesy. Many people discount the prophesies of Daniel concerning the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek Empires, insisting that it must have been written after the fact. This is an argument based on a disbelief in supernaturalism, however, not on fact. However, I think that this prophesy in Daniel alone, written well before the coming of Christ (the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek between the 3rd and 1st century B.C.), more than dispels that argument.
God told Daniel that there would be seventy sevens, that is seventy seven year periods in which,
- Transgression would be finished.
- Sin would be put an end to.
- Wickedness would be atoned for.
- Everlasting righteousness would be established.
- The vision and prophesy would be sealed up (that is, fulfilled).
- The most holy (that is, the new temple) would be anointed.
There are several interpretations for this and when the sevens start. I take the position that it starts when King Artaxerxes gave the command to adorn and strengthen the temple, as well as enforcing the Mosaic code in Ezra 7. Although the focus on this seems to be merely on the temple, it also seems from Ezra 9:9 that Ezra was also permitted to build up the city walls as well. As a result, Nehemiah was very disappointed to find out years later that this was never done.
In the first set of seven (49 years), we find that Jerusalem was rebuilt, but “in times of trouble.” Certainly, the Israelites would face much opposition in the rebuilding of their city and temple as noted in Ezra and Nehemiah. Also, I think you could qualify someone trying to annihilate your entire race as times of trouble as well (see Esther).
Then if you count off the next 62 sets of 7 (434 years), from the year the decree was made (457) and account for the fact that we skip immediately from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. (there is no year 0), we come out with a date of 27 A.D., the year the Messiah came (that is, he started his ministry). Then sometime after the 62 sevens, he was cut off. Literally, it means that he died. The NIV adds “and will have nothing,” which could possibly refer to the fact that all his supporters abandoned him. The King James puts it, “But not for himself,” which could refer to the fact that Jesus didn’t die for his own sins, but for ours.
However you interpret it, it was clearly at this time that sin was atoned for at this point by Jesus’ death on the cross.
Then the city of Jerusalem and the temple were both destroyed following this in A.D. 70.
The final seven years refers to the future when Antichrist comes. He’ll make a covenant with “the many” (that is, the Jews) and will allow them religious freedom to worship God as they please. Then in the middle of the seven, he’ll break the covenant and end the sacrifices and offerings, and set up an abomination that causes desolation. This will mirror in some way the same abomination that Antiochus committed during the Maccabean period. But then Antichrist will fall and be judged, at which time transgression and sin will come to an end, and everlasting righteousness will come. The new temple will be established (probably referring to temple in Ezekiel chapters 40-44) and all the prophesies will be fulfilled.
That’s a mouthful. But to me, it proves that God holds the future. If he could predict accurately the rise and fall of empires, the coming of his own Son, and the destruction of Jerusalem once again, I think we can bank on his prediction of the Antichrist and the coming of God’s kingdom thereafter.
So let us not worry so much about the future, terrible though things may get. Let us remember that God is in control, and all that he has promised will come to pass.