Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Prophecies of Daniel - Is the End Near ? Session 5 Prayer and Prediction Cont'd

The Sistine Chapel; Ceiling Frescos after 
Restoration, the Prophet Daniel.  Found on Pinterest
The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is involved in a study of chapters 7-12 of the book of Daniel. In light of all the things that are going on in the Middle East today many Christians and others are wondering if these things are fulfillment of prophecy and a sign that the end is near. It is not my intent to prove or disprove what people are saying about whether these things are the fulfillment of prophecy or not. My goal is to equip you through study so you can make your own determinations.


Last week, in Session 4, we studied Daniel’s prayer after reading this in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 25:8-12 (NKJV)8  "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Because you have not heard My words,9  behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the LORD, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.10  Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.11  And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.12  'Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the LORD; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation.  

In his prayer he, on behalf of the nation of Israel and himself:

  • Recognized God’s sovereignty
  • Confessed their sins
  • Asked for forgiveness
  • Recalled God’s promises

We agreed that this also a great model for our prayers.

Finishing up Chapter 9 the Prediction Part

Today we are going to talk about the answer to that prayer which comes by way of Gabriel coming to him.  

Daniel 9:20-23 (NKJV)20  Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God,21  yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.22  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.23  At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:
I believe that the vision he’s talking about is the one back in chapter 8 of the two beasts the ram and the goat with the big horn that breaks off and becomes 4 hours one of which severely persecutes Daniel's people who we concluded was  Antiochus IV. He desecrated the temple and stopped the sacrifices for a time. There's more to the vision as we will find out from Gabriel.
1.   Gabriel mentions six things that will happen for the people of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem within seventy "sevens" (usually interpreted as 490 years; see Leviticus 25:8-24 for an explanation of a sabbatical year). What do you think these things mean individually and collectively?

Daniel 9:24 (NKJV)24  "Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.

These six things were answers to Daniel’s prayers. Daniel was praying for his people. They had done wrong things and God had punished them and was going to restore them to their land and through Gabriel he was telling Daniel what his people would go through in the future.

 Here are the six things as identified in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary:

(1) To finish the transgression. To complete the kind of transgressions that Daniel had been confessing for his people.  They were to come to an end. We know however that has not happened yet.

(2) To make an end of sins. The Hebrew means, to seal up, to put an end to. Look at Revelation 20:1-3 to get a sense of what it means to seal up, to put an end to.  

Revelation 20:1-3 (NKJV)1  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.2  He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3  and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.  

This is the sealing of Satan's prison to restrain him for a while.  That’s what the Hebrew word translated as "to make an end of" is.  This has not happened yet either. 

(3) To make reconciliation for iniquity That happened for the believers on Calvary, but not the nation of natural nation of Israel unless individuals have accepted Jesus as the Messiah and have become born again.  

The first three items of accomplishment are negative (transgressions, sins, iniquity). The remaining three are positive:

(4) To bring in everlasting righteousness.  This happened for the the believer through Christ.  

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  

Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NKJV)33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

(5) To seal up the vision and prophecy The word in Hebrew is actually prophet not prophecy.  When the people stop sinning, there won’t be the need for prophets or prophecy with it’s words of discipline.   

Remember in our study on spiritual gifts a characteristic of a person with this gift was the focus is on correcting behavior and applying biblical truth to culturally sensitive issues. These people identify and try to correct deception and sin. They often seem blunt and opinionated. Generally they can cause one to be uncomfortable.   

The prophets in the old testament talked about what was going to happen if the nation of Isreal and its leaders  did not stop it’s disobedience and sin.   This has not happened yet.

(6) To anoint the most Holy  This creates some problems in interpretation because it appears to be talking about the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary in the temple.  That appears to conflict with what it says in Hebrews and Colossians. 

Hebrews 7:27 (NKJV)27  who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Colossians 2:14-17 (NKJV)14  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.16  So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17  which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Perhaps it is referring to the heavenly temple 

Revelation 11:19 (NKJV) 19  Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

So we will just have to wait to see what the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy means.  I’m pretty sure to Daniel it meant the inner sanctuary of the earthly temple because that's the only temple of the God of the Hebrews that he knew anything about and this vision was for the future of Daniel's people. Remember when we started this study we said the first seven chapters deal with primarily Gentile nations their character, relations, succession, and destiny.  Chapters
8-12 deal with The Hebrew nation, its relation to Gentile dominion, and its future in the plan of God

2. The 490-year clock begins with a "decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem".  This probably refers to either Cyrus's decree to rebuild the temple in 539 B.C.  or Artaxerxes' decree to rebuild the city in 444 B.C.  In your opinion, which of these decrees best fits? Explain.

Daniel 9:26 (NKJV)26  "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.  

Cyrus's decree - Ezra 1:1-4 (HCSB)1  In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The LORD put it into the mind of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and ⌊to put it⌋ in writing:2  This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah.3  Whoever is among His people, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.4  Let every survivor, wherever he lives, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem.”  

Artaxerxes' decree - Nehemiah 2:1-10 (HCSB)1  During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence,2  so the king said to me, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression.” I was overwhelmed with fear3  and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”4  Then the king asked me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven5  and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.”6  The king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me.7  I also said to the king: “If it pleases the king, let me have letters ⌊written⌋ to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that they will grant me ⌊safe⌋ passage until I reach Judah.8  And ⌊let me have⌋ a letter ⌊written⌋ to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to rebuild the gates of the temple’s fortress, the city wall, and the home where I will live.” The king granted my ⌊requests⌋, for I was graciously strengthened by my God.9  I went to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent officers of the infantry and cavalry with me.10  When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard that someone had come to seek the well-being of the Israelites, they were greatly displeased.  

3. Gabriel states that once the decree is issued, there will be seven "sevens" and sixty-two "sevens", or sevens of years so 7 x7 = 49 and 7 x 62=434 or a total of 483 years  until the Anointed One comes and is "cut off" (Daniel 9:25-26). 

Those who take the earlier date for the decree usually interpret the 483 years symbolically. They simply refer to an unspecified period of time until the Messiah comes and all is restored.  So these people are looking at the second advent.

This is the date that I prefer.

Those who take the later date for the decree note that 483 years after 444 B.C. is A.D. 33, the date of Christ's triumphal entry, into Jerusalem.

Josh McDowell in his book "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict" (great book by the way) takes information from a Christian scholar named J.D. Wilson to establish this date. It is based on the following"

Nehemiah identifies the year as the 20th year of King Artaxerxes. King Artaxerxes ascended the throne in 465 B.C. so 444 B.C. would have been his 20th year. 

4. Which of these interpretations do you prefer, and why?
It really doesn't matter. What matters is that it prophecy says that after the 483 years the "Anointed One" (the Messiah, Jesus) would come and then be "cut off". We know that he came and at the end of his earthly ministry was crucified, or "cut off"
5. Daniel 9:26 states that "the people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in A.D. 70.

Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, oil on canvas, 1867. Depicting the destruction and looting of the Second Temple by the Roman army.

According to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary this is what happens between the 69th week and before the final week, the 70th one.  It is agreed by almost all evangelical interpreters that these two events, the cutting off of the Messiah (Anointed One) and the destruction of the sanctuary refer to the crucifixion of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These two events were separated by a period of nearly forty years (29-70 a.d.). Yet, in the literary order of the passage, they are both after the sixty-ninth week and before the final "one week" mentioned in the next verse. Thus the very syntax, grammar, and word-meaning indicate a gap in the succession of the seventy weeks.

Here are the reasons there is an apparent gap between the weeks.  Again according to Wycliffe:

Other important reasons for supposing a gap here are: (1) Jesus placed the culminating week, with its "abomination" in the times of final Antichrist, just before His second advent (Matthew 24:15 (NKJV) "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),). (2) Daniel 7:25 (NKJV)
(He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.), which describes what appear to be the very same events as those of Daniel 9:27 (NKJV) (Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."), the seventieth week, is certainly a prophecy of the times of final Antichrist. (3) The period of three and one-half times or years (the second half-week of v. 27) is often mentioned elsewhere in Scripture and always in an eschatological setting (Rev 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14). (4) The six things to be accomplished in the seventy weeks, which we talked about earlier, equire the second advent of Christ, and the restoration and conversion of Israel.

I realize that this is a little difficult to follow but the more you study the more you will be able to follow along and understand. This is the best explanation that I have been able to find so far in my study.

6.   According to Daniel 9:27, how would you describe the course of events during the final "seven," or period of seven years?

Daniel 9:27 (NKJV)27  Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."

The language (higbîr, from gābar, "be strong") does not signify confirmation of a covenant but causation of a firm covenant. And he shall cause to prevail is an excellent translation.

The he, in the verse would be the wicked "prince" of verse 26. He could be Antiochus IV or as is most probable Nero because the people Gabriel is talking about here are the Hebrews,  and in the future the he would be the Antichrist.  

It appears that the covenant is to be made between Antichrist and Israel when the Jews are back in their homeland in the last days. Or is is it spiritual Israel or the church?  The exact nature of the covenant is unknown. The evil and destructive events described in the remainder of verse 27 should be interpreted as summary information concerning the end;

Daniel 12:1 (NKJV)1  "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (NKJV)1  Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,2  not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.  

Revelations chapters 13 and 14.

7. The evil Roman ruler has been prefigured by such people as Antiochus IV and the Emperor Nero who destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD.  But the New Testament speaks of his coming as still future.  How do you react to the possibility of this wicked world ruler arising in our generation?

Let’s go back to here for our answer to that question. We should not be shaken, or troubled, or deceived.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NKJV)1  Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,2  not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.3  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,4  who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  

8. What does Daniel 9 offer you (if anything) in the face of such a possibility?

That the Antichrist may well come and with influence and some apparent success but he will not prevail because to summarize what Gabriel said in verse 24 ;

At the end of that time, some important things would happen.
God would stop evil and bad things.
God would forgive people although they have done wrong things.
God would start a good time that would last for always.
God had told his *prophets what would happen in the future. These things would happen as God had promised.
God would make a very holy place. We do not understand what this sentence means. It might mean that a very holy person would come.

Next Week 

Daniel has another vision. Read about it in Chapter 10 and well dig into it next Sunday.

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