The Seventy "Weeks" of Daniel (Daniel Sermon 14 of 17)

The Seventy "Weeks" of Daniel (Daniel Sermon 14 of 17)

March 25, 2001 | Andrew Davis
God's Purpose for the World, Return of Christ

I. Our Meticulous God

When I was a student at MIT, I worked in the carpentry shop. And there were many carpenters there of various skill levels, but the best ones were from Europe. They had come over... This one man, in particular, was an Italian man. And he used to, after making a day's worth of shelves for offices and doors and all that kind of boring thing, which I'm sure was no challenge to his amazing skill, then after hours he would use the equipment to build furniture for relatives or to sell. And he was especially good at inlaying wood... You know, two different shades of wood putting it in there. And the way he would work, it was amazing. I used to love just watching what he would do with the chisels. It was all handmade things. And he would just carve and just fit each piece of wood in, then just buff it until there was... It just felt like silk. It was amazing to watch the meticulous approach that he took to his work. And what that means is he was attentive to detail. He was meticulous. He was careful. But he's nothing compared to our God. Amen.

Meticulous as Creator

Our God is a meticulous God. That means he gives careful attention to detail. And as I come to our passage today, Daniel 9:20-27, I see more evidence of that meticulous nature of God. Our God is meticulous. He is carefully attentive to detail. It's woven into the creation around us. He was meticulous as a creator. Do you realize that the atomic nucleus is exactly balanced? The proton just a little bit more massive than the neutron, or else life itself would be impossible. The solar system. If the earth were just 1% closer to the sun, or 1% further away, life would be impossible on this planet. Meticulously arranged. God is a meticulous creator.

Meticulous as Provider

He's also meticulous as a provider. He's created trillions of life-forms on this earth and feeds them every day. Now some of you are good at administration, but I can't imagine that kind of provision, every day providing for those things that he's made. It says in Psalm 145, "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." From the little plankton, all the way up to the huge whale that eats the plankton, it's all been meticulously arranged. Our God is a meticulous provider.

Meticulous as Protector

He's also meticulous as protector of his people. He's a meticulous Good Shepherd. He leaves the 99 on the hills and goes to look for the one that wandered off. Most of us would be satisfied with 99%. That's not a bad grade. Our God is not that way. And so, it says, in John chapter 6, "This is the will of him who sent me that I shall lose none of all he has given me, but shall raise them up at the last day." Aren't you glad that he's meticulously watching over you and doesn't let you just wander off? "Oh, well. My statistics are pretty good. I've still got most of them." But he goes and leaves those that are still there and goes and gets you and brings you back. He's a meticulous protector.

Meticulous as Judge

He's also a meticulous judge, is he not? Well, what did we learn from Daniel, chapter 7? The court was seated and the books were opened. And what's in the books? Well, Jesus told us that you'll have to give an account for every careless word you have spoken. So the books are full of a meticulous account of everything you have ever said or done. And so, we need a meticulous salvation, don't we? Every sin atoned for, every transgression covered. He's a meticulous judge.

Meticulous as Prophet

He's also a meticulous prophet, Careful attention to detail. I don't have time to go into all the detail and the prophecy from the tiny little town where Jesus would be born, Micah 5:2, Bethlehem, up to the exact way that Jesus would die. "They have pierced my hands and my feet," Psalm 22. And the fact that there'd be a little pot of wine vinegar at the foot of the cross for him to taste, Psalm 69 verse 21. And the fact that Judas would betray him with 30 pieces of silver, Zechariah 11. Meticulous detail.

Well, does that kind of meticulous detail extend to the actual time of Jesus' first arrival on earth? The beginning of his ministry. Could it be that God laid out in prophetic perspective exactly when Jesus would come to redeem Israel? Could it be that this passage that we're going to study this morning is what Peter meant when he said in 1 Peter 1:10 and following, "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care trying to find out the time... " Stop right there. "The time and the circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow." The time? Is that actually in there? Can we figure out when Jesus was to come? Is it in the Old Testament? I, actually, don't think it can be found anywhere else but the passage I'm preaching on today.

I believe that God did predict the coming of Jesus Christ, down to the time. And that's what we're going to focus on today. Our God is a meticulous God. And my goal, today, is that you understand the beauty of this passage, that you may see, not so much the exact working out of the decrees and the timeline and the history. That's interesting. But that you may know what kind of salvation has covered you completely. What kind of salvation it is that's going to bring you all the way into the presence of God. You can't see him in the face now. You wouldn't survive. But God has big plans for you, and he's got it all worked out. And if you trust in Jesus Christ, this meticulous, this careful God will bring you all the way right into his presence. So that's what I want you to see in this. But there's some details along the way. And this passage has crushed me with all there is to say.

I don't have time to go into all the details, so some of the things that I've learned in this passage we're going to be discussing tonight. Alright, we're going to take a break from our study in Proverbs and I'm going to take some of the details and move it over. It'd be well worth your time to come tonight and listen to that. But today, I want to focus on the four major aspects of this prophecy. There are four of them. Number one is the specific details about what Jesus Christ would accomplish when he came. There's a six-fold unfolding of what Jesus would accomplish. Number two is the prediction about when Jesus would come. The 70 weeks, at the end of the 69 weeks, we'll try to figure that out. Number three, a specific prediction about the destruction of Jerusalem after it was rebuilt after Daniel's time, that Jerusalem would be destroyed again. And then number four a prediction, I believe, about the anti-Christ in the final seven years of history in this world. And so that's quite a challenge to lay out before us in half an hour, isn't it? So I'm going to take off my watch and I'm going to lay it down here, I'm not going to look at it again. But I'm going to put it down here, and then we're going to do what we can with this passage.

Why don't you read along with me in Daniel 9:20-27.

"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill, while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision. Seventy sevens [or weeks] are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this. From the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the anointed one, the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens [or weeks] and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two sevens, the anointed one will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood. War will continue until the end and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven, or week. In the middle of the week, he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.'"

II. The “Experts” Disagree

Now, as we come to this passage, I have to be honest with you that the experts disagree about this passage. People are all over the map and why? Because this is an extraordinary passage. There's all kinds of things, and wherever God gets extraordinary in his word, Satan brings people to bring division and distress and trouble so that we're not really sure what it's saying. And that's true here as well. But there's just different ways to approach this. And therefore, some of what I'm going to say is more certain than other things. I am absolutely certain that verse 24 is talking about Jesus Christ and the atoning sacrifice is a sacrifice that he offered and the full accomplishment of the end of sin. There's no doubt in my mind about that at all. I am a little less certain about the sixty-nine weeks and the decree, but I'm fairly certain about that.

I'm a little more certain about the same level, about the destruction of Jerusalem, and about the anti-Christ a little less. That's how it works. But I'd like to explain to you, we don't have time to give all the varying details and the different approaches, so we're just going to kind of go with mine today. And this evening, I'll talk about some of the other views and the other ways to look at this passage. Fair enough? Unless you want to stay 'til 2:00 or 3:00, we could do it all right now, but... Well, alright, but we'll do it this way.

III. Context: Daniel’s Prayer, Gabriel’s Answer (vs. 20-23)

Alright, let's start with the context, verses 20-23. The context is Daniel's prayer. Remember last week that we looked at Daniel's prayer, verses 1-19, and Daniel came before God because there was a specific thing that happened. Daniel unrolled the scroll of Jeremiah and read in there a specific prophecy that the desolation of Jerusalem would last for seventy years, and at the end of that seventy years, God would restore the people to the promised land and Jerusalem would be rebuilt.

And so as he read that and counted off the time that he'd been in there, Daniel, now an old man in his 80s, maybe even later, fell to praying. He said, "God has made it clear what he's going to do," and rather than just sit back, as some of us would say, "Well, God, you're going to do what you're going to do anyway, what do you need me for?" Not at all. He was motivated to pray. The very certainty of the scripture motivated him to pray. And so he got down on his knees and said, "God, do the very thing that you promised to do. Bring the people back, restore Jerusalem." And in the middle of all that, he couldn't help but confess his own sinfulness and the sinfulness of his people that had brought on that desolation.

Jeremiah the prophet had warned about it. He said the people of God were breaking the commandments of God. They were breaking the covenant and therefore, God was going to bring the covenant punishments on them, the desolation of Jerusalem. And so if you were to see Lamentations 1, 1 and 3, it says Jeremiah... Just envision him sitting looking out, perhaps on the Mount of Olives looking down over the city. A smoldering heap of ruins, the walls destroyed, the temple destroyed, it's all ruined. And this is what he says. "How desolate lies the city once so full of people. After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile." So the desolation of Jerusalem, the emptiness of it. This was to be God's holy, set apart city, and now it's desolate, a smoldering ruin. And how it must have brought grief to the weeping prophet, the prophet Jeremiah.

And it brought grief to Daniel many years later as well, and so he fell to praying, and he was confessing sin and just fasting and seeking God and asking that he might please fulfill the promise that he'd made and bring the Jews back to the promised land. And so he's praying. In verse 20 he says, "While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill," that's Mount Zion, that's Jerusalem, he's praying for his people, and he's praying for Jerusalem, and you need to keep that in mind. I don't think you'll interpret this passage properly if you don't keep that in mind. He's praying for his people and for Jerusalem.

Verse 21, "While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man [he calls him a man, but we know he's an angel] I had seen in the earlier vision came to me," it says either "in swift flight" or "in the time of extreme weariness," difficult Hebrew, "About the time of the evening sacrifice." So Gabriel is dispatched, he's sent from heaven. You know Gabriel. We meet him in Luke chapter 1. Gabriel is the one who stood in the altar of incense, and announced to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son in her old age, John the Baptist. And then later on at that time, he went to Mary, the Virgin Mary, and announced to Mary that she would have a son, though she was a virgin and she would be carrying the very son of God. And so, Gabriel is an angel to whom it has been committed these important messages.

The word angel, by the way, in the Greek, angelos means messenger. And so, they're given these messages and so Gabriel is coming. Now, I don't like that translation in swift flight. It imagines that he's flying down, the Hebrew won't bear that, I think. It really looks more like a sense of weariness. So it could be that Daniel was in extreme weariness after all his prayer. So at just the right time, when he's just about worn out, Gabriel appears. Don't stop praying too soon, keep praying, keep praying until God answers and that's what he does, he just, he lingers, he waits in his prayer, and he keeps praying. And then, Gabriel shows up.

Now, the last time that you were praying, did you have an angel come and give you the answer? [chuckle] What would that be like? And so he's startled by the appearance and he's already seen Gabriel. It's not the first time we've met him, we met him back in the Alexander the Great chapter, he was the one that gave the information about Alexander. And so, here's Gabriel again, to give an even more astounding answer and this what he says in verse 22, "He instructed me and said to me, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you insights and understanding. As soon as you began to pray an answer was given.'" Isn't that interesting. Right away the answer is given, you just haven't heard it yet. And God held it back until the right time.

Now, in chapter 10, we're going to see something of a spiritual struggle and some warfare in the heavenly realms over that. We're going to talk about that. But right now the answer had been given right away, and now I'm here, alright. And he says, "An answer was given for which I have come to tell you," and then he says, "For you are highly esteemed." Now, I'm going to preach more fully on that next week, because he says it again in chapter 10 and there's too much this week, to go into this, but I would like to set in front of you a yearning, a hunger and a thirst that this be the thing you live for that you be highly esteemed by God. That God look at your life work and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That God be pleased with you, that that be the goal of your life that you be highly esteemed.

We'll talk about this more, but this is extraordinary. That God would say this about a human being, you are highly esteemed. And therefore he says, "Consider the message and understand the vision." To summarize the context, Daniel is praying to God intensely about the fate of his people, the Jews, and Jerusalem. Remember how he used to get down on his knees three times a day, he used to open the shutters and face where? Where would he face? Jerusalem, he's facing Jerusalem and so his mind is focused on his people and the holy city. And so the answer's going to come regarding that.

IV. The Six-Fold Purpose of the Seventy Weeks (vs. 24)

Now, in verse 24, we get into the seventy weeks. Now, in verse 24, we have the six-fold purpose of the seventy weeks. There's a reason for the seventy weeks and what are they. It says in verse 24, "Seventy sevens" or weeks we can just stop right there and say that the Hebrew literally says sevens, but that's the common word for week or weeks, okay. And almost every conservative commentator agrees that this is talking about seven-year periods, just like Jacob served a seven-year period for Rachel. Got Leah at the end of that and then had to do it again, for Rachel, the one he loves. So there's a stretch of seven weeks or seven years and then seven years, so I believe we're talking about years here.

"Seventy sevens [of years, therefore a total 490 years] are decreed for your people and your Holy City." And here he lists these things. First of all, notice they're decreed for your people and your Holy City, we're focused on what? Jerusalem and the Jews, that's the zeroing in of this, okay. You want to know what's going to happen to Jerusalem, Daniel, you want to know what's going to happen to your people. I'm going to answer you. Seventy weeks are decreed for six things, look at what it says. Three of them are negative, and three positive. 1) "To finish transgression," 2) "To put an end of sin," and 3) "To atone for wickedness."

So this is a full covering, a full provision for the sins of the Jews. If you read Daniel's prayer, 1-19, it's just... He almost can't get through a verse without mentioning his sinfulness and that of his people. He's just overwhelmed with a sense of wickedness before God and this is the way it is, the holier you are, the more you walk with God, the more you'll feel this to be true of yourself. Don't expect the opposite. You're going to feel yourself to be broken before God and sinful, because that's just how holy God is. It's when you're far from God that you don't feel that. And so if today you don't feel your sense of sinfulness before God, even if forgiven through Christ, even if forgiven, completely covered, still a sense like Daniel did of unworthiness to be in the presence of God, then you're far from God. You must repent and come close to him, because God is holy, God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all, and so he's confessing sin, and so, this is glorious good news. We're going to have a full provision for all sin. Read these things like they're promises for you.

I know you're not Jewish, most of you anyway, and that you're not concerned or intensely wondering what's going to happen to Jerusalem the way Daniel was. But this reads for you as well, because there is one atoning sacrifice for all the world, not more than one, but only one, Jesus Christ. And this is what it says, "To finish transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for wickedness." Now, the Jews tend to think of their sacrificial system, they did back then, the sacrificial system as the way that sin could be atoned for. With the temple having been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, how could sin be atoned for? This was a problem. And remember what Daniel just said a moment ago, he said that Gabriel came to him, when? At the time of the evening sacrifice.

Well, is there an evening sacrifice in the exile? No, there's no temple. But he remembers, he remembers the morning sacrifice, the evening sacrifice. He's still on that timetable, that sense of the sacrificial system. And it had been given by God. God invented it as a picture for the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world, Jesus Christ. And so what he's saying here is that there's going to be a full provision for sin. Daniel, you are so concerned about your sin? Good, well, you should be. Because that's the problem. That's why the city is desolate. Well, seventy weeks are decreed to finish it all. To finish sin, to finish transgression, make an end of sin and make an atonement for iniquity. The blood of bulls and goats could never take away human sin. You know that, don't you? What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

And so there's a full complete provision atoning for sin, and then he says to bring in everlasting righteousness. Oh, everlasting righteousness, not temporary righteousness. And to my conservative pre millennial friends, not thousand-year righteousness, but everlasting righteousness. This is not the millennial kingdom. This is eternal righteousness before God, and nothing can be done for that but the blood of Jesus Christ, the cleansing. What does it say in Romans 1:16-17, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. First for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel, a righteousness from God has been revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last. Just as it is written, the righteous will live by faith."

Are you clothed in that righteousness, the Gospel righteousness of Jesus Christ? It is not yours, it's a robe that Jesus offers to you. Put it on by faith. Everlasting righteousness. And then it says to seal up vision and prophecy. All vision and all prophecy centers on the person of Jesus Christ, doesn't it? He's the center of it all, it all revolves around Jesus. It says in the Book of Revelation that the spirit of prophecy is a testimony about Christ. And so it's all zeroed in on Jesus, and so there's going to be a fulfillment of all vision and prophecy. It's all going to be fulfilled. Do you remember when Jesus went to Nazareth and preached and they read a passage from Isaiah and he said, "Today in your hearing, this scripture is," what? "Fulfilled." To seal it up.

And so Jesus came to fulfill and to seal up vision and prophecy, and then finally to anoint the most holy. The Hebrew says a most holy thing or perhaps even the Holy of Holies. To anoint the Holy of Holies. Now, this could be several things. It could be, if it's A, most holy thing, it could be the anointing of Jesus Christ, because when Jesus preached in Nazareth, he said, from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." So he is the Anointed One, he's the Messiah. But I don't think that's what this means. Neither do I think it's referring to the Millennial Temple, the anointing of a Holy of Holies in the Millennial Temple. I don't know why we need a temple. The Book of Hebrews ends that. There's now a spiritual temple, and therefore, I think it's probably the spiritual, heavenly Holy of Holies.

It's a big theme in the Book of Hebrews. Do you realize the temple itself was a pattern of a heavenly one? It was an imitation of a heavenly one, and therefore when it was finished, we don't need it anymore. And so therefore, in Hebrews 9:11-12, it says, "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle," or temple. He went into a spiritual, heavenly temple "that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of bulls and goats, but he entered the most holy place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." So what happened is, when they built the tabernacle, got it all ready, they had to anoint it, didn't they? With, not oil, but with blood for sacrifice.

Jesus went and anointed the heavenly tabernacle with what? With his own blood, once for all that we might have eternal redemption. Yeah, verse 24, that's a sermon in itself, isn't it? We haven't even gotten to the seventy weeks, but that's what Jesus came to accomplish. Okay, but when, when would it be? Now we get to the sparkly stuff. I actually this... Well, I just preached the spiritual center of it. You don't need anything more than this, because this is full provision for your sins as well. If you're a sinner, you're going to find your salvation in verse 24 of Daniel 9. It's right here. There's no other salvation, there's no other name under heaven given a man by which we must be saved. You will give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. Hebrews 9:24 tells us that.

V. The Unfolding of the Seventy Weeks: Messiah Comes!! (vs. 25-26)

Okay, you want to know what's the date? Alright, I want to know, it's in here, okay. And it says, "Know and understand this. From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One... " As far as I can tell this is the only place in the Old Testament that the word Messiah is used, Anointed One, of Christ. It speaks of Cyrus as God's Anointed One in a different way, but this is the Messiah now, this is the Christ. Okay, "From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes there will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble." So God decrees, now, it's interesting, he says 70 weeks have been decreed, verse 24.

The Hebrew literally says, "seventy weeks have been divided out for you." That's the literal translation. So he's going to parcel out these 70 weeks. And that comes important because it comes 7, 62, and 1, doesn't it? No matter what you do with it, you're dealing with 7, 62, and then 1. At the end of the 69 weeks, the Messiah's cut off, and then we've got this one last week. It's divided out in a certain way. So first, from the time of the decree, we'll talk about that in a minute, until the Anointed One, the Messiah, comes, there will be 7 weeks and 62. 7 plus 62 equals 69. Alright, so we got 69 weeks. But why does he divide 7 and 62? Well, realize, the decree, which I believe, and we'll talk about this more this evening if you're interested.

The decree that best fits this is Artaxerxes the First's decree in 457 BC. There are other options, and we'll talk about that this evening if you're willing. But this one's the best one. Now, he measures out the seven weeks and then the sixty-two from that degree. Now, what is prophesied? Look across verse 25 and 26, and we can just kind of gather together all the things that the prophecy says are going to happen. There will be a decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, number one. Number two, Jerusalem will be rebuilt with its streets and its walls and a moat or a trench of some sort. 69 weeks after that decree, the Anointed One, the ruler, will come. That's Jesus. That ruler will be... I mean, sorry, the Anointed One, will be cut off, I think that means killed, doesn't that make sense? Cut off, but not for himself, for any transgression of his own.

Or it could read, Hebrew-wise it could read that he will have nothing, cut off and have nothing, none of the glory or honor, perhaps, that he deserves. And then there will be another ruler who will come, and the people of that ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary again. Rubble again. And then, during the time when the temple is destroyed, war will come like a flood until the measured out desolations have been completed. That's verse 25 and 26. We haven't even gotten to verse 27 yet, alright? That's a huge bunch of prophecy right there, isn't it? Well, let's see, did history fulfill the prophecy, did it work out?

Well, we don't know exactly how long the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem took. But it says here seven weeks of years, so that would be 49 years. And so, from the issuing of the decree, which was 457 to about 408 BC, Jerusalem was rebuilt. Now, only God knows when he thinks, "There, it's done." But we knew that was during the time of Nehemiah, remember? And it says it will be rebuilt during time of trouble. Do you remember what was in Nehemiah's hands? One in each hand, what did he have? He had a sword in one hand and what did he have in the other hand? Trowel to do the building. Why the sword in the one hand? It was a time of trouble. And so he rebuilt it. Fulfilled. Alright, from 408 BC on, we've got these 62 weeks.

Now, you all have your bulletins there, don't you? I've given you a little chart. Someone once said, "If you can't chart it, don't believe it," especially when it comes to eschatology. Well, I don't think that's true, but I think it's helpful for you to look at the timeline now here. We've got 457 BC to 408 BC, and then we've got sixty-two weeks left. 62 times 7 is 434, is it? So we've got 434 years from 408 BC, and that brings us to 27 AD. Now, if you're doing the calculation you wonder how do we end up with the extra year, you subtract it out as it should have gone to 26? The reason is there's no zero year from BC to AD. We skip over zero. So on a numerical line, there'd be a zero there, but on the timeline, there's no zero year.

So we go from 1 BC to 1 AD. And so we end up with 27 AD. Did anything happen in 27 AD? Well, yeah, Jesus came. He began his ministry that year. How do we know that? Well, we don't know it for sure. Realize these kind of dates and chronologies aren't in the Bible. We kind of have to look outside of them. But we know that Jesus was born when Herod the Great was king. Herod the Great died in 4 BC. It says from Luke chapter 3 that Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry. That puts us at 27 AD. You see what I'm saying? Right at that time. And then this has been corroborated by other ways, so that's a good estimation. Be amazed. The time is right there. And you say, "Now, listen. You worked backwards. You went and tried to find some decree and see if you could make it work and all that kind of thing."

Well, yes, we did work backwards, and frankly, I think it was given for that purpose. If you were to read 1 Peter 1 again, it says there it was revealed to them that "they were not serving themselves, but you," future generations who look backward. We couldn't have looked ahead and predicted it, but we can look backward and see it. There were only three decrees, and we can choose one of them, and guess what? One of them works out perfectly. Be amazed. Our God is a meticulous God who knows the end from the beginning. And he has testified to you through faith in Christ that you're going to Heaven. Praise God, if you have faith in Christ.

VI. The Interruption of the Seventy Weeks: One Desolation After Another (26-27)

Alright, so, now we have an interruption in the seventy weeks, verse 26 and 27. Remember it said in verse 24, seventy weeks are divided out for your people. So we've got the seven weeks and the sixty-two. Any of you can figure out that 7 plus 62 doesn't equal 70, it equals 69. But we have from verse 24 that it's going to take a full seventy weeks to finish the transgression of the people of God and to restore Jerusalem completely. And so therefore we have an interruption, don't we? It says after the sixty-ninth week, doesn't say when, but after the sixty-ninth week, the Messiah will be cut off and we'll have nothing.

We don't know how far after, but I think it was three years after. Three years after, he was cut off, he died. Why stop at 69? Well, this is the so-called parentheses or gap, and I think it's right because there's got to be a gap anyway. There's already a gap between when Jesus dies and when Jerusalem is destroyed. But I think that gap has extended out now 2000 years. This is what Jesus called the times of the Gentiles, when the Gentiles are trampling the city of Jerusalem one after the other. And when Gentile people like you and me are getting saved, to believe in a Jewish God, believe in Jewish scriptures, are reading Jewish prophets like Daniel and claiming the name of a son of David, Jesus Christ, as our Savior. We are the Gentiles who are getting grafted into a Jewish tree. Romans 11, this is the times of the Gentile. So there's this extending period out between the 69th and the 70th week.

And it's a time of desolation for the people of God, the Jews. It's a time of emptiness. Remember what we said when Jeremiah looked out over the city, Lamentations 1:1, he said, "How desolate lies the city, once so full of people." Daniel, you know, you're praying and praying for your city and your people that it wouldn't be desolate anymore, but you know something? Even if the city gets rebuilt, it will be desolate if they don't understand who I am.

And so there are two desolations, I believe, in this passage. The first is the desolation spiritually of the Jews when they rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah, when they cut him off from the people, when they killed him. That's the first desolation. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41 following, and he says, "Because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you," this is your time of desolation. And Jesus said so beautifully... We're going to talk about this more tonight. He's in the temple and he's teaching in the temple, and the scribes and the Pharisees are standing there opposing him and hating him. They've seen all his miracles, but they don't understand that the spirit of God has anointed him to do this, and so they reject him, and Jesus issues seven woes on them. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. Woe to you, woe to you, woe to you," seven times.

Do you think the number's an accident? It's a seven-fold woe in the house of Israel. And then he finishes up with this. He says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often I've longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not. Look, your house is left to you desolate." It brings hairs in the back of my neck. "Your house is left desolate, for I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." And what's the next thing that Jesus did? He walked out of the temple, never to return.

And just at that moment, the disciples came up to him and they said, "Master, what incredible stones. What a beautiful building. Isn't this incredible?" Oh, bad timing. Bad timing. I mean, did they not understand? No, they did not understand what the desolation of that house meant. And Jesus looked and he said, "You see all these things? Not one stone here will be left on another. Every one will be thrown down." Well, that's prophesied right here in Daniel, isn't it? The sanctuary is going to be destroyed. Look what it says. It says in verse 26, "The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and... " The what? "The sanctuary." The temple." It's been predicted. Jesus knew Daniel.

Jesus inspired Daniel to write this, and so he said, "I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another. Every one will be thrown down." Well, they're obviously very distressed about this. They really figured the temple was going to have a big part in Jesus' kingdom and so they didn't understand, and so they come to him on the Mount of Olives, and they said, "Tell us when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" And then we get the great Olivet Discourse. We'll talk more tonight. There isn't time. But in the middle of it, Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation, doesn't he? This is the second desolation now in this passage.

Not only is there a spiritual desolation of rejecting Jesus, there's a physical desolation of what's going to happen to Jerusalem, and this is what he says. Luke 21, we write this down. It's not in your outlook, I mean your pamphlet, but this is what it says. Luke 21:20-24, "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near." Wow, the consistency of Scripture. Desolation number two, armies surrounding Jerusalem. Well, what armies surrounded Jerusalem? Well, 70 AD, the Romans came. The emperor Vespasian had about enough of these Jews. I mean, just enough is enough with the zealots and all that, enough is enough. And so, he sent four legions plus some other auxiliaries, about 80,000 men, and they surrounded Jerusalem, and Jerusalem's tough to take. It's a hard city to conquer.

But he surrounds them, and after a holdout and after a fight, finally the city is destroyed. And according to Josephus, approximately 1.1 million Jews perished during the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Now, think about that: 1.1 million by sword, famine, and plague. That's a ton of dead people. And Jesus speaking to the Christians said, "When you see the abomination of desolation, spoken through the prophet Daniel,  "So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."

Pray that it may... The flight may not take place on the Sabbath. Pray that you may not be pregnant or nursing at the time. "Run, run, run," he says, because it's a time of slaughter. And so, they did run. The Christians actually escaped to a place called Pella and they sat out the siege of Jerusalem there and they were spared because they believed Jesus' words. The Jews stayed and they were wiped out, and the temple was destroyed, physical desolation, physical desolation, and the times of the Gentiles openly was revealed.

The Romans trampled Jerusalem until 637 AD. And what happened in 637 AD? The Muslims took over and they trampled Jerusalem. About 50 years after the Muslims took over, they built a shrine there, a place where Abraham was said to have sacrificed Isaac. Probably it's true. It's called the Dome of the Rock. Have you ever seen it? It's still there right on the Temple site, and it goes right on today. The Gentiles continue to trample. You say, "Well, the Muslims had it until World War I, the Ottoman Empire, right? Then the British took over. The British had it until the end of World War II. And then, who did they give it to?" Well, the Jews kind of. But remember a man is not a Jew if he's only one outwardly nor a circumcision really out and physical. A man is a Jew if he's one inwardly, so it's kind of a secular state over there, isn't it?

Okay, but we'll give it the Jews there, but are they in charge of Jerusalem? Do you remember what Colin Powell said about this on March 7, 2001? Talk about relevant. He said it's the policy of the Bush administration to regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. How did that go over among the League of Arab nations? There was a hue and cry. Do you remember that? Do you read the newspaper? Alright. I mean, it was huge. Absolutely, they rejected that. Why? Because that's a Muslim holy site. They don't want the Jews in charge of Jerusalem. And so, no, it's still not free. Jerusalem's not been redeemed. It's not free. It's still the time of the Gentiles. They don't have control. Alright. Well, we brought you up to the sixty-nine weeks.

VII. The Completion of the Seventy Weeks: The Final Desolation (vs. 27)

What about that final seventieth week? Look down at verse 27. "He will confirm a covenant with many for one week. In the middle of the week, he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." Now, who are we talking about here? Well, the ruler who is to come, in verse 26. He's going to put an end to sacrifice. Now, some commentators, conservative ones, who love the Lord, say this was fulfilled when the Romans destroyed the temple. But I don't think so. Because the 70 weeks are... The purpose of the entire 70 weeks, as stated back in verse 24, to put an end to transgression for the people of God, the Jews, and for Jerusalem. Has that happened? No. The Jews have not as a nation turned to their Messiah. Will they? Yes. Romans 11 says, "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the gentiles has come in. Then all Israel will be saved. As it is written, 'The deliverer will come from Zion. He will turn godlessness from Jacob. And this is the covenant I will make with them when I take away their sins.'" That has not been fulfilled yet. Paul looked on it as yet future. The seventy weeks have not been completed. So we're waiting for a seven-year period, and we believe, we call this the tribulation time when this man of sin, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:4, will "set himself up in God's temple proclaiming himself to be God," he'll put an end to sacrifice and offering, and he will defile it by accepting worship. As a human being accepting worship as God.

And that'll go on for a while, three and a half years, exactly. Verse 27, "Until the end that is decreed has been poured out on him." And what is that? Nothing other than the second coming of Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 tells us, "The lawless one," that's the antichrist, "will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth." And how perfect is that? He created heaven and earth with the breath of his mouth. And then he'll just say, "Your time is over. You're finished." And it's over, just like that. It's done. And then Jesus Christ returns.

Well, obviously, there's lots of details we have not covered. There's lots of things, but do you see the scope and the grandeur of this passage? Do you see in verse 24 the total and complete... The author of Hebrews calls it the "great salvation" that God has provided for our sins? Do you see in verses 25 and 26?

Secondly, the time of the coming of Jesus laid out beautifully? Remarkably. Do you see, also, in those verses, the destruction of Jerusalem, even after it had been rebuilt a second time. And then do you see, finally, the final seven-year period, in which the antichrist will come and follow in the footsteps of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Romans, the abomination of desolation, all of it is there.

VIII. Applications

Well, so what? What does this do? What does this do for me? Does this help me to be a better father, a better husband, or a better wife, a better worker? Well, one thing's for sure. God has carefully figured this thing out, hasn't he? He's looked over this whole thing. And he's laid out much of it, not all of it, but much of it in his word. You can rely on the promises that God has made, because he is a meticulously careful God. And if you find your salvation in a God like this, he will never let you go. You will most certainly be saved. He will leave that 99 on the hills. As often as you wander, he will bring you back if you truly trust in him.

But now, can I urge you, don't wander? What caused the desolation of Jerusalem, but rejection of God? Rejection of his ways. Sin. Sin brings desolation, sin brings desolation. And for those who have never been redeemed through faith in Christ, it brings the ultimate desolation: Eternity in hell apart from God. May you not find that desolation, but rather, may you understand what Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly." Why don't you close with me in prayer?

Other Sermons in This Series