Counting the Years: Daniel 9:24-27 (Part 2)

Counting and naming all the multiplied trillions of stars is something that God has done (Psa. 147:4).  Known to God are the total number of hairs on all of our heads (Matt. 10:30). The detailed structure of the universe reflects mathematics everywhere which in turn points to intelligent design; that of our all-knowing Creator God. God is certainly the greatest mathematician of all.  So, we should not be surprised that when He speaks of numbers related to the future, that these numbers are precise and not vague abstractions which are left to our imaginations to decipher.  God sent Gabriel to Daniel to let him know that God was going to have 490 years of special dealing with the nation of Israel.  We continue our study of the “70 Weeks Prophecy.”

A Review of the Last Study.  There were three important interpretive truths found in Daniel 9:24. First, the prophecy is about Daniel’s people (Israel) and Daniel’s land (Israel), and not about the gentiles or the church.  Second, the “70 weeks” are actually “70 units of seven”, or 490.  The context points to this being 490 years.  Third, these 490 years have been carved out of the times of the gentiles, but when they are completed, God six specific goals will be accomplished.

God’s Six Goals for the 490 Years.   When the 490 years have come to a completion, six specific things will be accomplished. The first three goals were accomplished by Christ’s work on the cross.  However, these three goals (which relate to the New Covenant) have not yet been applied to the nation of Israel. The stated six goals are the subject of this article.

(1) THE TRANSGRESSION WILL BE FINISHED.  The first divine goal of the 490 years will be to bring to completion the transgression (Heb. pesha) of Israel.  This word “transgression” focuses on the deliberate rebellion and apostasy of Israel and it is declared that this will be brought to an end.  The definite article is used so that it is not just Israel’s rebellion generally in view, but the rebellion of the nation.  What must be in view here is Israel’s rebellion as it was manifested in their greatest rejection in the nation’s history; that of rejecting the Lord Jesus as their Messiah.  This is the rebellious act of Israel that will be brought to an end within the Seventy Weeks.

In order for the Messiah to return and for His kingdom to be established, Israel must turn in faith to Him. Jesus declared that the one thing that must be true before He would return is the change in Israel related to their view of Him.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. (Matt. 23:37-39)

 Israel’s rejection of their Messiah will be over and Israel will be restored.  This is integral to God’s overall plans for this earth.

(2) TO MAKE AN END OF SIN. In this goal of God, the idea appears to be that sin generally will be brought into judgment and forgiveness granted.  Israel, whose national life had been so characterized by its waywardness, will now live apart from sin. Their sins have been judged and they have been forgiven.  So the vain, purposeless life lived by Israel when they walked far from God will be over. There will be a new spirit in Israel, a new attitude towards sin and righteousness. This reality will be in place as the Seventy Weeks concludes.

(3) TO MAKE ATONEMENT FOR INIQUITY.  The third purpose of the Seventy Weeks is to deal with the sin issue by making atonement for it.  This is looking at the cross of Jesus Christ, since it is the only thing that takes care of sin.  It is the cross alone that makes it possible for anyone to be reconciled to God whether gentile or Israelite (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17-21). The great purpose of Daniel’s Seventieth week is to bring Israel to the point where they repent and embrace the salvation that is provided by their Messiah, Jesus. The complete payment for sin was in the past at the cross, but it will be in the future that the payment will be applied to Israel (cf. Zech. 12:10; 13:1; Isa. 59:20-21; Ezek. 36:25-27; Jer. 31:31-34).

(4) TO BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS.  The first three goals deal with the negative issue of sin and how sin, particularly Israel’s sin, will be dealt with and removed.  The next three goals relate to the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom, which was spoken of earlier by Daniel, in Daniel 2 and 7.

According to the Old Testament prophets, one of the marvelous characteristics of the Messiah’s kingdom is that of righteousness (cf. Isa. 11:2-5; Jer. 23:3-6). Righteousness, not sin, will prevail in the realm of mankind and therefore, in the nations of the earth. This will be a time unlike any other. There has never been in Israel, or anywhere else on earth since the fall, the domination of righteousness. While the believer is certainly to be considered “righteous” today because of justification, this goal of God finds it ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah’s kingdom when Daniel’s people will live righteously and Daniel’s land will be characterized by righteousness (cf. Isa.1:26; Jer. 33:14-16).  A time of righteousness is clearly in view in this passage.

One of the very real problems for those who see Christ’s kingdom being established at His first coming (amillennialism and postmillennialism) is the obvious absence of righteousness in the world today. If this “everlasting righteousness” came into the world at Christ’s first coming, where is it?  It is evident that the nations of the world are not affected by it. Unrighteousness is what characterizes this world as it remains under the domination of the “god of this world”, Satan.  The lack of righteousness in the world today speaks loudly against the notion that Christ established His kingdom at His first coming.

(5) TO SEAL UP VISION AND PROPHECY.  The term “seal up” “indicates a complete fulfillment of all prophecy”  coupled with the idea that there will be no additional prophetic information given. With the Lord Jesus present in all His glory, the forever kingdom of God established and the earth reclaimed from the usurper, Satan, prophecy is seen as completely fulfilled. Those who live at that time will recognize that all has been fulfilled. There will be no need for people to have prophetic visions or for God, who will then dwell among believers, to give revelation.

(6) TO ANOINT THE MOST HOLY.  While some have suggested that this refers to the anointing of the Lord Jesus, others have observed that the expression is never used of a person but rather it is the anointing of the Holy of Holies in the new millennial temple. The term being used is qodes qodasim which is frequently used in reference to the Holy of Holies.  It seems best to understand this anointing as the setting apart of the millennial temple for the ministry to which it was ordained.

These six goals simply have not, in some cases, been fully fulfilled; and in other cases, have not been fulfilled at all.  But these six specific goals that God Himself has made will be fulfilled and must be fulfilled.  The coming period of tribulation will bring all of these goals to a final and full completion.  The coming time of tribulation will indeed be the worst of times, but the best of times as well.  It is a comfort to believers today to realize that this world remains under the control of the sovereign God.  Men, nations and demons cannot derail God’s planned purposes.  And when the birth pains of the tribulation are over, then the kingdom of Messiah Jesus will be born; an incredible era characterized by righteousness, joy, peace and the very presence of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. Our best days, and earth’s best days, lie ahead of us.