Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Verse of the Week: Daniel 9:25

Verse of the Week Commentary: Daniel 9:25

(The majority of the footnotes are from the Ryrie Study Bible. They are footnotes in his Bible that provides further enlightenment on Scripture passages quoted in our discussion.)

“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. Daniel 9:25

You are to know- The angels urge Daniel to take note and be aware of the exact calculations involved, for it proves that God’s prophetic word will be fulfilled to the day!

Decree- Literally, “word” and may be rendered “commission” or “commandment.”

Decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem- The seventy sevens begins with this decree, the commandment of Artaxerxes Longimanus given in 445 BC, after the request of his servant, Nehemiah:

And I said to the king, “if it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:5

Figure 1Artaxerxes I at Naqsh-e Rostam
     Earlier, Cyrus had authorized the rebuilding of the temple in 538 BC:

22 Now in the first year[1] of Cyrus king of Persia- in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah- the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!” 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23

Figure 2Cyrus the Great

The decree was to fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy that after seventy years Jews would be to return to the land. This decree related only to the Temple and says nothing of the restoring and rebuilding the city. The 490 years were not to begin until a royal commandment was given to rebuild the Holy City.

Another decree was issued by Darius the Mede in 519 BC. We read in Ezra:

“And now, if it pleases the king let a search be conducted in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, if it be that a decree was issued by Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send to us his decision concerning this matter.” Ezra 5:17

Then King Darius issued a decree, and search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon. Ezra 6:1

Permission was sought be the Jews to return and rebuild the Temple was questioned by those in opposition, so a search was made of the treasure house which also held the official state documents. He found a parchment upon which Cyrus had recorded the first decree seventeen years previously. Therefore, Darius made his own decree to show he favored the first decree.

A third decree was recorded in Ezra:

11 Now this is the copy of the decree[2] which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of the Lord and His statutes to Israel.
12 “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace. And now
13 I have issued a decree that any of the people of Israel and their priests and the Levites in my kingdom who are willing to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. Ezra 7:11-13

This permitted the Jewish priests and Levites to return to Jerusalem for the reinstitution of Temple services. It also provided for funds to be drawn from the Persian treasure to finance the project, including animal sacrifices. The emphasis of this decree lay in the adorning and strengthening the temple at Jerusalem. But his third decree, like the two preceding it, concerned only the Temple.

Old Testament history gives us only one decree to rebuild the Jerusalem walls and that is recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8. The event began:

And it came about in the month Nisan [March] in the twentieth [445] year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. Nehemiah 2:1

                The king was probably more afraid that Nehemiah’s health was bothering him, possibly a poisoned winecup, and therefore the king was in danger. But he asked “why” Nehemiah responded:

And I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my father’s tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” Nehemiah 2:3

                Nehemiah requested time off to go and rebuild the city of Jerusalem which the king granted. Then armed with letters:

7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters[3] be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they might allow me to pass through until I come to Judah,
8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress[4] which is by the temple, for the wall of the city, and for the house[5] to which I will go.” And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me. Nehemiah 2:7-8

                The date happens to be one of the best-known dates in ancient history. The Encyclopedia Britannica set the date of Artaxerxes accession at 465 BC, and his 20th year would be 445 BC. The first of Nisan would be March 14, 445 BC. This is the starting point of Daniel’s 70-week prophecy. Dr. Alva J. McClain wrote:

“For those who believe in biblical inspiration and the genuineness of predictive prophecy, it will be no surprise to learn that the date fixed by Nehemiah happens to be one of the best known dates in ancient history. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica, certainly not biased in favor of prophecy, sets the date of Artaxerxes accession as 465 BC; and therefore his twentieth year would be 445 BC; the month was Nisan, and since no day was given, according to Jewish custom the date would be understood as the first. Hence in our calendar the date would be March 14, 445 BC. Here we have the beginning of the Seventy Weeks.”

To calculate the END of the 69-week prophecy, we should the number to DAYS. The formula is:

69 “weeks” x 7 years x 360 days= 173,880 (Jewish calendars were lunar, 30 days per month x 12 months.

Counting from March 14, 445 BC, and continuing 173,880 days, bring us to April 6, 32 AD.

Starting point: 3/14 445 BC
Ending points: 4/06 32 AD

Jewish Calculation:
69 x 7 x 360= 173,880 days

Western Calculation:
476 years x 365 days-= 173,740
Total leap years= 116 days
3/14-4/06= 24 days
Sum Total: 173,880 days

                Another way of calculating this ending point is through the western calendar system. Sir Robert Anderson, for many years head of England’s Scotland Yard, in his classic The Coming Prince, made an intricate study of this subject and concluded that April 6, 32 AD was the exact date on which Christ-fulfilling Messianic prophecy- entered Jerusalem on the foal of an ass and offered Himself to the nation as their Messiah and King. As it is record in Zechariah:

                                     [6]Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
                                                Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
                                                Behold, your king is coming to you;
                                                He is[7] just and endowed with salvation,
                                                Humble, and mounted on a donkey.
                                                Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.[8] Zechariah 9:9

                Although Christ had on several occasions forbidden His disciples to thus acclaim Him, now He rebuked the Pharisees for protesting the acclaim of the people saying:

And He answered and said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stone will cry out!” Luke 19:40

Thus, the 173,880 days of the 69-weeks prophecy actually ran their course to the very day!

Messiah the Prince- This is NOT an allusion to Antiochus Epiphanes or the Antichrist. This is Jesus Christ Himself.

With plaza and moat- The public square and moat were rebuilt by the time the first 7 weeks (49 years) were completed. This expresses the completeness of the restoration of the city. Including the places of resort and the thoroughfares leading to them.

Even in times of distress- Gabriel prophesied the construction would take place in troublesome times (and for the Jews is there any time that is not troublesome). Both Ezra and Nehemiah recorded the great trials experienced in their books. Josephus wrote of the troubles the builders encountered:

“When the Ammonites, and Moabites, and Samaritans…heard that the building went on apace, they took it heinously, and proceeded to lay snares for them, and to hinder their intentions. They also slew many of the Jews, and sought how they might destroy Nehemiah himself, by hiring some foreigners to kill him. They also put the Jews in fear, and disturbed them, and spread abroad rumors, as if many nations were ready to make an expedition against them, by which means they were harassed, and almost left off the building. But none of these things could deter Nehemiah from being diligent about the work.”

Josephus continued to write that Nehemiah made the workmen labor while wearing their armor. They always had to wear their swords with the shields within a few feet. A trumpeter was stationed every five hundred feet around the city to sound the alarm if there were attacking enemies. Finally, after forty-nine troublesome and agonizing years, the rebuilding of the city and the wall was completed in the year 396 BC, or seven prophetic weeks, just as Gabriel told Daniel. This left sixty-three weeks to be fulfilled.

Next week: Daniel 9:26

[1] In the first year. I.e., the first year that Cyrus was ruler of the conquered Babylonian Empire (538, though he had been king of Persia since 559). Verses 22-23 (identical to Ezra 1:1-2) lead the reader directly to the continuing historical account in the book of Ezra.
[2] Artaxerxes’ letter (through v. 26) extended generous support to the Jews, a small price to pay for peace in that part of his empire (v. 23).
[3] These letters in vv. 7-9, granted concessions to Nehemiah, form the decree of Daniel 9:25.
[4] The fortress protected the Temple.
[5] The house. I.e., the governors house. Nehemiah was also given an armed escort (Nehemiah 2:9)
[6] This great prophecy was fulfilled completely at the first advent of Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:4-5).
[7] In contrast to Alexander, Messiah:
1.       Is just
2.       Brings salvation
3.       And is humble.

[8] Foal of a donkey. I.e., the son of a she-ass.

Psalm 7

A verse-by-verse study of Psalm 7. Confidence in God's deliverance. God will deliver His own and not leave them to their own devices.

Psalm 7

Revelation 13

A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 13. John records new light on the Antichrist and the False Prophet.

Revelation 13:1-5

Revelation 13:6-18

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Psalm 6

 A verse-by-verse study of Psalm 6. In the first penitential Psalm David cry's out to God for deliverance from enemies that have been sent to chastise him.

Psalm 6

Verse of the Week: Daniel 9:24

Verse of the Week: Daniel 9:24

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, to anoint the most holy place. Daniel 9:24

(The majority of the footnotes are from the Ryrie Study Bible. They are footnotes in his Bible that gives further enlightenment on Scripture passages related to our topic.)

About 20 years ago I was fired for the second, and last time ever, from a job. While I spent the next 9 months looking for work, I utilized most of my time reading, studying, and exegeting the Scriptures. I discovered a great love for the Book of Daniel. Though the entire Bible is one delight upon delight, there was something about Daniel that I kept coming back to.

I began to comb through commentaries and histories of Babylon to get a better understanding of what the Book of Daniel was conveying and to get a better sense of what the captives Jews were going through in that foreign land. What you have in this writing is one small part of that study (at this point my notebook on Daniel is between 550-600 pages). My biggest mistake is not keeping a record of the men I studied and through their writings put together the document I have. It is to them I am indebted for such masterful words and insights. This is the work of piecing together what many premilliennial theologians and historians have written concerning the Book of Daniel.

Over the next few weeks we will examine Daniel 9:24-27, one verse each week.

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, to anoint the most holy place. Daniel 9:24

Seventy weeks- Literally, seventy sevens, but obviously years are meant since Daniel had been thinking of the years of captivity of in verse 2:

in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books  the number of years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:2

Furthermore, we can decipher from chapter 10 when weeks should be properly interpreted as a 7-day period:

  2 In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks.
          3 I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment            at all, until the entire three weeks were completed. Daniel 10:2-3

We know that Daniel would not be able to mourn for three years.  and most likely did not do without good food for three years.

This period of 490 concerns the Jews and Jerusalem. When considering time-ratio basis in Scripture we must be incredibly careful to keep it in its proper context. It is only used in relation to Israel. It is never used to account for time when concerning the Gentiles.

The English word weeks is misleading as the Hebrew is actually plural of the word for seven, without specifying it as days, months, or years. Instead of seventy weeks, the phrase should be seventy sevens. But even this still leaves the actual time period that we use to calculate what the 490 consists of.

Seventy Weeks or Years

1) Common usage of the word “shabua” was for years. If days were meant the phrase “of days” would be added.
2) The context deals with years, not days. Daniel had bee thinking about the 70 years Babylonians Captivity.
3) Such captivity had actually been based on the Jewish violation of the Sabbatical year:

to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.

The land was to be given a rest from planting every 7 years. For 490 years the Israelites ignored this command. Now God would receive back his 70 missing years.

4) The Sabbatical year had been violated for 490 years, or 70 x 7 years. Appropriately, God was starting another era of the same time frame for the Jews.
5) If it were “days,” the entire time period would be a mere 490 days or a little more than 1 years. This obviously would not cover the rebuilding the and then destruction of the city wall and the events of verse 24.
6) This period of 490 years was not to begin immediately. If so, then it would have ended in 46 BC, long before the birth of the promised Messiah; and certainly, the kingdom did not appear on this date.

While we use a 12-unit calendar, God uses a “70-unit” calendar for the Jews. The purpose of God’s 70-week program for His people is sevenfold-

1. -to finish the transgression
2. -to make an end of sins
3. -to make reconciliation for iniquity
4. -to bring in everlasting righteousness
5. -to seal up the vision
6. -to seal up prophecy
7. -to anoint the most holy

All of the above descriptions are that of blessings and promises for the Nation of Israel under the Messiah. Under God’s plan 70 weeks would transpire for the Jews to end their sin and apostasy, bring in everlasting righteousness and perfectly fulfill all vision and prophecy. Jerusalem will be rebuilt, Israel will be restored, and the Messiah will reign on earth.

In considering the meaning of the seven things which Gabriel prophesied, we must keep in mind that according to v. 24, they concern:

I. Israel as a race
II. The holy city Jerusalem
III. The land of Israel
IV. The temple
V. The Messiah

This prophecy is Jewish from beginning to end. The Gentiles are not even referred to in an indirect way and the dispensation of grace (the church age) is completely hidden from the reader. The only reference to a Gentile appears to be the reference to the antichrist.

The entire time frame of 70 weeks is subdivided into three periods:

1) 7 weeks- 49 years
2) 62 weeks- 434 years
3) 1 week- 7 years

Your people- The Jews. To make this equivalent to the church composed of both Jews and Gentiles is to read into the passage something foreign to the whole thinking of Daniel. Daniel was a very wise man, a very godly man, but the concept of Jew and Gentile in one body was completely foreign to him.

The church has no relation to the city nor to the promises given specifically to Israel relating to their restoration and repossession of the land.

Your holy city- Jerusalem

Finish the transgression- To end the apostasy of the Jews. The transgressions of Israel against the law and the commandments of God, their disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant, will be brought about when Christ returns to rule on David’s throne:

          24 “According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with                    them, and I hid My face from them.”’”
          25 Therefore thus says the LORD GOD, “Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have              mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I shall be jealous for My holy name. Ezekiel 39:24-25

Finally, the rebellion and transgressions against God which have been in existence since the Fall in the Garden of Eden will come to an end for the Jewish people. Some have claimed this to be fulfilled at the crucifixion of Christ, but we can plainly see that after the cross and resurrection and ascension and infilling of the Holy Spirit, we have not had an end to man’s iniquity or rebellion on earth.

Made an end of sin- May mean either to atone for sin or to seal up sin in the send of judging it finally. Typically, the end of sin is when the sinner accepts Jesus Christ as the One who died for sin. Sin is a term that refers to missing the mark or true goal of life and implies immorality of a more general sort, rather than the revolt against authority implied by the previous clause.

The sin mentioned by Gabriel meant the sins of Israel. Israel, as a nation, has not up to this time accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah; therefore, the nation as a whole continues in sin. With the Jew back in the land today in accordance with the plan and purpose of God, a Jew who dies without Christ is eternally separated from God, the same as a gentile. But for the Jews, the end of the penalty of sin will come when Christ comes again in His Second Coming. We read in Romans:

26 and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it written,

Israel will be saved in two spheres. First, they will have corporately accepted Christ as Savior. All Israel will be spiritually saved by virtue of their faith in Christ. Secondly, they will have been physically saved when Christ returns to face antichrist and his armies and will utterly crush them. Israel will be saved when Jesus Christ appears to the nation in all His glory.

The words of Ezekiel offer great illumination into this part of God’s program with Israel:

“And they will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or, with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 37:23

A wonderful promise that can only come to fulfillment when Jesus returns.

Make atonement for iniquity- This refers to the death of Christ on the cross, and event that ushered in the final stage of human history before the establishment of Daniel’s fifth kingdom:

          35 “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same                  time, and became life chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away            so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great                      mountain and filled the whole earth.
          44 “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never              be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left another people; it will crush and put an end to              these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Daniel 2:35, 44

This is the future millennial kingdom that Jesus Christ will reign over. The shed blood of Christ is the basis for Israel’s future forgiveness:

           “And I will pour out on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of               grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will             mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him,  like the             bitter weeping over a first-born. Zechariah 12:10

And as we discussed earlier in Romans 11:26-27 Christ will return and save all Israel.
Iniquity means wickedness and a sinful condition- lost in sin. We read in Isaiah:

2 But He was pieced through  for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being  fell upon Him,
And by His scouring we are healed.
3 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us have turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of all
To fall on Him. Isaiah 53:5-6

You can to the vacation resort of Eliat or the nightclubs in Tel Aviv, and you will find the moral conditions in Israel are about the same as they are in the United States. But when Jesus Christ returns as King of Israel and the law goes forth from Jerusalem, the iniquity of Israel will be a thing of the past as it is taken away. Every living Jew will look upon whom they pierced and mourn for Him as the only Son. As promised, they will become a kingdom of priests for God to all the world.

          5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead,  and the ruler of the v              kings on the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sin by His blood,
          6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and            the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
          7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those              who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.                          Revelation 1:5-7

Atonement comes from the Hebrew word kipper, when used in relation to sin it means to “cover,” “to wipe out,” to “make…as harmless, non-existent, or inoperative, to annul (so far as God’s notice or regard is concerned), to withdraw from God’s sight.” Along with the attached ideas of reinstating in His favor, freeing from sin, and restoring to holiness.

To bring in everlasting righteousness- In the millennial kingdom of the Messiah:

5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD.
“When I shall raise up for David, a righteous Branch,
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
6 “In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called,
The LORD our righteousness.’ Jeremiah 23:5-6

This clearly indicates an order of society in which righteousness, justice, and conformity to the standards of Scripture will prevail on earth, rather than the temporary periods of upright government that have occasionally occurred in world history till now.

No individual, including the Jew, has any righteousness of his own. The only righteousness that man can attain is that righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ, and this is an imputed righteousness. Righteousness shall prevail over all Israel when Jesus Christ is received as Messiah and His kingdom is inaugurated.

This will place the Jewish nation in normal relations with God and will set human life in accord with Jehovah’s perfect will in Jesus Christ. This shall never be interrupted for the Jewish people but will endure for all ages.

Seal up vision and prophecy- To set God’s seal of fulfillment on all the prophecies concerning the Jewish people and Jerusalem. This does not the particular vision and prophecy which Gabriel delivers to Daniel. It means all visions and all prophecies related in the Bible. All the prophecies in the Bible were revealed to the Israelites and all prophecy is sealed up in Israel. Daniel was commanded to seal up the book of his prophecy until the time of the end, meaning when the Jews began to return to the land. And only when the Jews began to return to their land did men begin to understand the prophecies that applied to the last days.

Gentile ministers today expound the prophecies that were given to the Jews, but the time is coming when Christ returns that the gift of prophecy and visions will again be sealed up in God’s covenant people. We read in Joel:

  27 “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the LORD your God
And there is no other;
And My people will never be put to shame.
28 “And it will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions, Joel 2:27-28

This fulfillment goes beyond the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ; it must include His enthronement on the throne of David as the supreme ruler of the earth.

Certain Christian churches and movements today claim God is now pouring out His Spirit on all the world, and they claim Joel gives them power to prophesy and see visions. This is a flagrant and abominable distortion of God’s Word.

Anoint the most holy place- The anointing of the Holy of Holies in the millennial Temple, to which much attention is given in Ezekiel 40-44. This anointing of the Most Holy, or Holy of Holies, means the sanctification of the Temple with the presence of the Messiah. This will not occur until the Lord comes to His Millennial Temple. We read of this glorious event in Ezekiel:

  1 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east;
          2 and behold, the glory of the God Israel was coming form the way of the east. And His voice              was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.
          3 And it was like the appearance of the vision, which I saw,  like the vision which I saw when              He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river                    Chebar; and I fell on my face.
          4 And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the                  east.
          5 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the              LORD filled the house. Ezekiel 43:1-5

All of these things Daniel prayed for Israel will be fulfilled when Israel looks upon the One whom the nation nailed to a cross almost two thousand years ago and receives Him as Messiah.

Some have taught that this is a reference to the anointing of Christ. However, the phrase qodes qadasim nowhere in Scripture refers to a person.

All of these cannot be accomplished until the 70 weeks, 490 years, have been completed. As we look at Israel today, twenty-five hundred years after Gabriel gave this prophecy, there has been a remnant that has returned, though still small in number. But the Temple has not been rebuilt, Israel continues in her transgressions, and while Israel has astounded the world with miraculous military victories, medical inventions, agricultural miracles, the Jews are not a witness for God to the nations and we see no Messiah on the throne of David on Mt. Zion. Some amillennials and postmillennials believe Gabriel made a mistake. No mistake was made. Gabriel delivered a message just as God gave it to him and it will be fulfilled. We are informed in Romans:

          and being fully assured that what He has promised, he was able also to perform. Romans 4:21

God never promises anything that He is not able to accomplish.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Revelation 12

A verse-by-verse study of Revelation 12.  John sees the beginning of great signs on earth and heaven with the woman, her child, the beast, Michael and his angels, and Satan's attempt to destroy the nation of Israel.

Revelation 12:1-4

Revelation 12:5-11

Revelation 12:12-17

2 Peter 2:14-22