The Timing of the Saviour’s Death – Daniel 9:20-27

 
Why is this scripture one of the most important in all the Word of God? Because this gives us one of the key pieces to the jig saw puzzle of prophetic chronology, and because it opens up some of the secrets of other passages.

First let’s reset the ground rules for Bible interpretation. What is the first rule of Hermeneutics? To interpret the Bible as literally as possible. Sometimes we can’t, but we must purpose to look there first. This is without a doubt the primary reason that there are errors made when interpreting prophesy. Second, we are reminded by the word “determined” that the things of prophecy are guaranteed. The Lord is not making educated guesses about future events. He’s not suggesting that “IF” certain criteria are reached “THEN” certain other things will transpire. Another important rule to remember is that as nations go, Israel comes first. Especially is this true in this prophesy. Unless there is statement that a certain scripture is a prophecy about Egypt, then its not about Egypt. For example, the things in this chapter are not about the United States, except incidentally. If we can get these thing straight then we can move on.

Verse 24 gives to us the six objectives of this particular prophesy.
First, what is described in this scripture, were designed to bring the transgression of Israel to a conclusion. This is not talking about “a” transgression or “some” of the transgressions of Israel, but “the” transgression. What is Israel’s great transgression? I think that we can conclude that it was the sin that always plagued Israel in some degree: Idolatry. That nation was born out of idolatry, and it carried the dirt and dust of Egypt where ever it went. Almost immediately Israel was giving its gold earings toward the construction of the golden calf. And they called that calf “Jehovah.” The sin of Israel was their hypocritical use of the name Jehovah, without following through. And when the real Jehovah arrived on the scene, Israel was not willing to acknowledge His presence. “He came unto his own and his own received him not.” Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, one day he was overlooking Jerusalem; what did he say? “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth….” How often did Israel stone the prophets of God, and how often she try to stone the Saviour? But when the fullness of time was come, they actually did cruelly take and murder their Messiah. And, as we know, their hatred of the Lord has not come to an end as yet. But the things described in this prophecy shall bring that to a conclusion.

Second, the purpose of these things is to make an end of “SINS” – related to the first. And the only way that this can be accomplished is through regeneration. The Lord will take away their stony heart and give to them a heart of flesh. As a general rule, the average Israelite is still in his sins; circumcised in the flesh, but not in the heart.

Third, the Lord will make reconciliation for sin. Wasn’t there reconciliation for sin made through years of atonement sacrifices? Only by illustration and proxy. Actual reconciliation was accomplished at Calvary – where the Lord JESUS died. And millions of souls have been redeemed by the Lord’s grace through that sacrifice. As a general rule, few of Israel are among them. But there is a day coming when Israel, as a nation, shall be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. There will be a nation born in a day – Isaiah 66:8 – and it will not be the United States of America. They will look on Him whom THEY pierced, and they shall mourn. Zechariah 12:10.

The fourth purpose of the events prophesied here will be to bring in Everlasting Righteousness. Some people think that this is talking about the first coming of the Saviour. No, this is a reference to the Millennial kingdom of Christ, established at the Second Coming.

The fifth purpose is to seal up the vision and prophecy for a future unveiling. There is a sense in which this sealed vision is STILL sealed. For example, Israel still hasn’t figured out that their Messiah has arrived. But it is also true that it was sealed for 500 years until the time of the Incarnation of the Lord. A few in Israel began to understand at that time. And then from that time on, more and more could see it, until we come to this day. I am not saying that we, who are saved, are particularly smart. But the Lord has revealed more to us, and we are closer to conclusion of these things than ever before. As a rule these are more clear to us than to most preachers a hundred years ago.

And the last purpose is to anoint the Most Holy. There are a number of ways to interpret this: This might be the anointing of the Messiah, but this is unlikely due to the fact “Most Holly” is neuter. This must be the anointing of a new Holy of Holies. This is the anointing much like the Tabernacle of the Temple of Solomon.

Generally speaking none of these six things have been completely fulfilled.

What does this passage mean when it speaks of “weeks?”
The definition of the common word “week” refers to the time between Sunday and Sunday. But of course Daniel wasn’t written in English and his definition may have been different from ours. The original word translated “week” simply means “seven” – Seven of anything. Literally, v. 24 says “Seven sevens are determined by God.” But are they hours, days, months, moons, seconds, years or apples and oranges?

To us, the word “weeks” is referring to a set of seven days. But not always: Remember the trick that Laban played on Jacob? Genesis 29:16-30 clearly shows us that the definition of a “week” can be 7 years. Another thought about the relationship of days and years is seen in Numbers 14:32-34. “But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.”

If we tried to force this prophecy to talk about a series of 7 day periods, it doesn’t make any sense. “If the literal sense makes sense, look for no other sense.” But in this case it doesn’t make sense at all; we’ve got to look elsewhere.

So what is the length time 70 x 7 – 490? Not only does Genesis 29 suggest it, but by using real history, we can see that it’s talking about weeks of years. It’s talking about 490 years, minus the 7 last years.

It would be 483 years until the beginning of the conclusion of this prophesy.

So at what point did the 70 weeks begin?
Verse 25: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” What is meant by the words “commandment to restore and to build?”

Is this starting point easy to pinpoint? No. There were four decrees regarding the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1-3 describes an edict issued in the last year Cyrus 536 B.C. and only involved the Temple. In Ezra 6, Darius reaffirmed what Cyrus commanded; this was in 519 B.C. Ezra 7:11-22 describes Artaxerxes grant to Ezra to return to Jerusalem, this was in 457 B.C. But then in Nehemiah 2:1-8, the 20th year of Artaxerxes, another decree was issued – 445 or 444 B.C.

What was Daniel told that would take place at the end of 69 “weeks”?
Messiah shall be cut off. Is there any doubt about who Daniel understood the Messiah to be? What do the words “cut off” mean?

Sir Robert Anderson is considered by many people to be the expert on Daniel 9. Anderson reminds us that Israel used a lunar calendar instead of a solar calendar. What is the difference between them? (Several days.) Anderson began with the date of March 14, 444 BC as the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem. Then he counted Hebrew days which equal those 69 weeks and arrived at April 6, 32 A.D.

Of course, as Biblicists we are not so much concerned with Anderson’s computations, as we are with the declarations of the scriptures. The details of Anderson’s logic and math are open to some criticism. But without any doubt history certainly puts the crucifixion into the box that Daniel describes.

And there is one other prophecy which corroborates Daniel’s statement and Jesus’ fulfillment.
Genesis 49:1-10 – “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.” Verse 8 – “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”

What does the word “shiloh” mean? ( Peace.) I doubt that the sons of Jacob really understood what their father was saying, but we have a bit more information. Who is the Prince of Peace?

What is a sceptre? Who was the first human king in Israel? Of what tribe was he? Was it the perfect will of God that Israel have a king? Saul was replaced by whom? Of what tribe was that second king? Was that second king any more the choice of God than the first? Although Israel didn’t always have a king after that point, all of her God-anointed kings came from the tribe Judah, until the nation ceased to be a nation. Even though Babylon destroyed Judah and took her people captive, they remained very much attached. But when Titus about 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, destroyed Jerusalem, Israel has not only ceased to be a nation, but Judah has never held the royal sceptre again, except through Christ in Glory.

Daniel said that the Messiah would be cut off about the year 32 AD. As far as we can determine that was the year in which Jesus died. And according to Genesis 49, Judah would own the sceptre of Israel until Shiloh arrived. Shiloh arrived in the Person of Christ Jesus.

The Bible prophesied the time of Messiah’s birth and death. Jesus fulfilled those prophesies.