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God's Continuing Provision: Daniel and Ezekiel Daniel and Ezekiel Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #020 May 28, 2000 www.deanbibleministries.org
"Father, we do thank You that we live in this nation, this unique nation, with history in terms of the freedom we enjoy, the prosperity that we have been blessed with, the heritage that is ours both in terms of our secular history and the roots we have in our Judeo-Christian heritage. We thank You that we still have the freedom to teach Your Word openly, to speak freely, and to witness about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We thank You that we still can send out missionaries from our country to foreign shores to communicate the Gospel. We pray that You would continue to prosper us. Father, as we look at our nation now there are many things that we see that are going on that remind us of the dark days of Israel in the Old Testament. We see a return to paganism. We see the relativism that faces us in every direction. We see the horrible perversity that takes place in our country that affects our children and challenges those who are parents to guard diligently their children so that they can protect them from these influences. Father, we know that the only solution is Your Word; that there is not a political solution that can solve these problems. There is not an economic solution that can solve these problems. There is only a spiritual solution, which is a return to Your Word and to doctrinal principles in the life of the nation. And so Father, we pray that those who are believers who are positive to Your Word would be faithful as a witness. That as the pivot, as the remnant in this nation, that they would provide a strong turning point and a frame of reference or a blessing point for the remainder of the nation. Now Father, as we are here this morning to study Your Word, we pray that we would be challenged by the things that we study. That You would help us to understand how these things relate together in our understanding of the Old Testament. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen."
We continue our study of the Old Testament and today we are going to look at the future for Israel. We need to take a little time to review. We saw at the very beginning as we looked at Genesis 1:26-27 that the purpose was to be a vice-gerent of God over the earth. That term vice-gerent means that he is a designated representative of God to rule in God’s place over the creation. So man starts at a high point. This morning as I was driving in, and I mean early this morning, as I was driving in from the airport, I was trying to think through a new chart to try to pull this together. Man starts off at a high point when God creates him in Genesis 1:26-27. He is created in the image and likeness of God. This refers both to His immaterial make-up that man is in one sense theomorphic. That means he is a construction of God. He is created in the form that God would take, the best form possible that God could use to express Who and what He is. Now, what I mean by that is that God in His omniscience knew in eternity past that man would sin. That the creature would sin and He knew that to solve that sin problem He would take on, He would incarnate Himself in that creature as the highest form of His revelation. Therefore, He designed a creature, not just by happenstance, but He designed the creature in terms of His creature-likeness that is the highest possible or the best form, the best make-up both immaterially and materially for God to take in order to reveal who He is.
If there were a thousand other creatures, for example, we think of all the odd creatures that show up in science fiction movies. There may be a thousand or million different types of creatures our imagination could come up with, but God, of course, knew about all of those possibilities from eternity past and He created man to be the way he is because He knew He would eventually incarnate Himself as a man. So man had to be the best possible. If you were to take infinite God and bring Him down to a creaturely level, He is like man. That is what I mean by theomorphic. Man does not just look this way by chance. Every aspect of our being comes this way because God has designed it as the best way to eventually represent Himself. So “image” has the idea of not only the immaterial aspect, but also the representational idea. Man is designed to represent God. And of course, this is in perfect environment and man is to rule over the earth, but there is a fall. So we are going to draw this horizontal line here, just below the ‘x’ and that indicates the fall.
So man falls into sin, acquires a sin nature, and we will label this point “x” below the fall, and there is salvation there and redemption after the fall for Adam and Eve. But then we see that there is a deterioration and decline morally and spiritually down to the point of the Flood. And then there is in a relative sense an elevation because He sees the spiritual quality of Noah and his family. They are all believers; so they start off back up at this point where all the human beings on the earth right after the Flood are believers and positive. Then there is a further decline down to the Tower of Babel. God at that point judges the human race, scatters the race on the basis of languages, the diversity of languages. And he comes back up to start with one regenerate man, Abraham. So here we have Noah’s family at this high point, and Abraham’s family at this point, and God is going to work specifically through this one family to the entire nation. And the goal, of course, is that man is designed to rule the creation as God’s representative in His place. But because man is below the fall line and everything is affect by that, the entire history of the Bible is designed eventually to bring man back up above that line, to fulfill the creation-covenant mandate in Genesis 1:26-27.
So God calls out Abraham and through him He is going to have a special nation, the nation Israel. And that nation is going to be the priest nation and in some sense they are taking the place (of man) although every single individual human being is still image and is now (it is) specifically through this corporate being of the nation Israel that God is going to work. We saw that in Exodus 19:5-6a, which is a key verse (and the) central passage for understanding God’s redemptive purposes to the nation Israel. It says, “if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession in among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.” So we see in this the reference that “all the earth is Mine.” Under the sovereignty of God He is the God who is in control of history. He is in control of the nations and their destinies and there is this contractual relationship with man. We have to continuously go back to this covenant concept from Genesis 1:26-27.
God is the only God. If you look at all religions on the earth, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, whatever it may be, you look at all the religions on the earth and God, the God of Christianity, the God of the Bible, is the only God that enters into a legal contractual relationship with His creatures and every thing He does is within this framework of a legal contract. That is why the very concept of law is not based on relativism or whatever is socially pragmatic. It has to be based upon an absolute. Ultimately, if you are thinking in terms of the philosophy of law, that has to go back to the character of God. All law is grounded in God and it is grounded in that initial Creation Covenant concept that God, even with perfect creatures in the Garden, structured His relationship on the basis of law. That is why when you come over into the New Testament, when we start talking about the essential nature of salvation, we say it is not experience based, that justification is forensic; it is legal. Everything takes place in terms of its legal structure that God has established throughout history as the parameters for governing His relationships.
So Israel is called out to fulfill this task and we see that there is a decline and there are ups and downs all through the nation until finally they are taken out in divine discipline, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. They both go out under divine discipline and we will see that by the end of the southern kingdom, really 586 BC, they have deteriorated and their as pagan in their culture as the culture prior to the Flood and the culture at Babel. They’ve just rejected God and substituted idolatry, the phallic cult, and the fertility religions, and everything else. And then God is going to come in at the end of this; all of this is preparatory. We know that there are the dispensations, distinctives of the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of Israel, and the purpose here that God is showing is that man is completely incapable of meeting God’s absolute standards. That is why we have the Old Testament in one sense. God is demonstrating through His relationship with Israel and Israel’s response, without the Holy Spirit, without that level of divine help, that man is completely incapable of meeting God’s standards on his own. That is why the Law was given. We studied that in Romans 7 that the Law is given to reveal man’s inability not to give man a means by which we can keep a relationship with God.
So it is going to be at the Cross, the incarnation, when the Second Person of the Trinity becomes flesh, undiminished Deity takes on true humanity, that we now have the new Adam. Here was the first Adam and here is the Second Adam, and it is the Second Adam that is going to fulfill all of the divine requirements. At the Cross He pays the penalty for our sins, at the resurrection His Deity is validated and recognized and publicly pronounced by God and He ascends to heaven and He will return at the Second Coming and establish His kingdom and at that point the curse is rolled back almost completely. It is not fully reversed in the Millennium because those who are born, the Tribulation saints, who survive were still born with sin natures, but in terms of the environment, in terms of other factors, in terms of governmental rules, there will be perfect environment. Although those born in the Millennium will be born with a sin nature. But Jesus Christ as the Second Adam is perfect man and He is able as man then to fulfill the Creation Covenant. And so all of human history, in a sense, is God working step by step, age by age, demonstrating different truths about Himself to each dispensation and in the Church Age (He is) demonstrating that it is God who does everything, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, for the believer.
Taking man from the point of the fall to the point where there is a regenerate earth and a redeemed society under the head of the Davidic king, who was the perfect God-man, who then fulfills that function. That is what it is all about. It is in this procedure that God is then glorified and that is how the Old Testament fits in. Where we are in this study is that Israel has failed and Judah has failed. In 586 BC they are taken out in divine discipline and of course the major question that is facing the Jews at that time, that faces any people that go through a major catastrophe and period of extreme adversity, is “Is God still in control?” Is the God we worship; is He, really more powerful then these circumstances? Or the question they would be asking is “Is God really God or is the god of the Babylonians the true God and more powerful than Yahweh whom we worship?” So Daniel and Ezekiel are written in order to demonstrate this principle to the Jews and to give them renewed confidence and hope that there is a future for Israel. The promises that God made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant, the Palestinian Covenant (the real estate covenant) in the Davidic Covenant, are going to be eventually fulfilled. God will literally fulfill them; that is the nature of a covenant.
A covenant is a contract just like any contract that you and I enter into whether it is a contract for a loan or a contract to purchase a house, a car, or some other form of legal contract. Once the contract is signed, you’ve agreed on the terms and the meaning of the terms. And sometimes if you have a couple of corporations entering into an extensive agreement, and they might have a contract that is several hundreds pages in length, at the end of that contract you will find a glossary and in that glossary or lexicon they will list all the key terms that are in the contract and specifically define each term so there is no misunderstanding as to what the terms mean. So you can’t come in a year later or two years later and allegorize or turn the terms into figures of speech and say, well, let’s say a car payment; you’ve entered into an agreement to pay out the car in sixty months, and you say, well, month doesn’t really mean month; it means year. I just have to make my car payment on the first of every year. Now we know we can’t do that, but that is exactly what almost every theological system other than dispensationalism does with the Old Testament covenants. They try to come back and say Israel failed so God just dumped Israel and replaces them with the church; and so of fulfilling the terms literally and physically God is just going to apply them spiritually to the church. That is called allegorical interpretation. And that is all they are doing is saying God made a covenant now He goes back and redefines the terms. So that doesn’t work in the human realm and certainly wouldn’t work with God. If that was true then we’d have difficult time with the immutability of God.
Now as we come to the events that we were looking at in Daniel and Ezekiel we have to orient ourselves time wise. So we will look at the last five kings of Judah. Judah goes out under divine discipline in 586 BC. The last five kings, first of all Josiah, 630-609 BC. Josiah is a good king. There is a tremendous reformation that takes place under Josiah but it is more of a top down reformation. In other words it affects the upper levels of leadership. It is sort of a government induced reformation but at the grassroots level of the people they do not turn away from the Baal worship, the fertility cult, the Ashurim, and so there is still a tremendous amount of revisionism and pagan thought in the nation. Josiah is briefly succeeded by Jehoahaz who reigns for about three months in 609 BC and then he is taken out power and replaced by Jehoiakim who is the brother of Josiah who is on the throne from 609-597 BC. It is during his time that around 606 BC that you have the battle of 605 BC, the battle at Carchemish with Nebuchadnezzar. Carchemish is north of Israel. It is up in Syria and Pharaoh Necho and the Egyptians had basically become a dominate power for about a five or six year period from about 612-606 BC; and they are being challenged by the Babylonians who’ve been united and brought to power by Nabopolassar, who is the father of Nebuchadnezzar.
Nebuchadnezzar is the commander in chief of the army and he goes into battle with Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish and just devastates the Egyptian army and is at hot pursuit seizing the initiative as they flee southward down right through the middle of Judea. As he heads south he decides to take a few captives out of Jerusalem and it is at this time that he discovers that his father has died and that he has to get back to Babylon as fast as he can in order to secure the throne and secure his inheritance. So he takes with him a number of captives and these include Daniel and the three men. So turn with me to Daniel 1. We’ll just do a brief overview to catch the emphasis and importance of Daniel. Jehoiakim is the king at this time; and Jehoiakim tries to revolt against the Babylonian suzerain king and he is disciplined for that. He is finally taken out and is replaced by another son of Josiah, Jehoiachin, who reigns briefly and then he tries to rebel, he tries to get aid from the Egyptians against the Babylonians, and of course Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t like that. So Jehoiachin is removed and taken as a captive back to Babylon and another son of Josiah, Zedekiah, is placed on the throne and he just takes them further into paganism. He is on the throne from 597-586 BC when there was an invasion. There are three invasions by Nebuchadnezzar, 605 BC, 597 BC, and 586 BC. In 586 BC he destroys the temple and burns the city to the ground, removes everything, devastates Jerusalem, burns the fields, and just takes all of the upper classes captive into Babylon. So everybody is wondering is there really a future? Does God control history?
Turn over to Daniel 2. Last time when we looked at Daniel I answered several questions because Daniel is a prophetic book that is key to understanding the veracity of Scripture. There is a prediction in the Old Testament in Isaiah 44 that Cyrus would come. Now this is interesting because in Isaiah 44 that is 200 years earlier and specifically names who will eventually deliver the Jews out of their Babylonian captivity. Now last time we asked certain questions about Daniel. We asked when it was written? Was it written as the Bible claims during Daniel’s lifetime between 586-539 BC or 165 BC? We looked at various issues related to that and demonstrating from the language various aspects of internal evidence in the book that it was written when it was claimed to have been written. We saw the date of Daniel is important for three reasons:
1. The sovereignty of God is at stake. If this isn’t true then how do we know that God really controls history?
2. The nature of the Bible is under attack if it is true, if revelation and true prophecy is just written history. If Daniel wasn’t written until 165 BC then it is really history; it is not prophecy.
3. The issue of the Person of Jesus Christ is challenged. The reason we say that is because Jesus clearly affirms the historical veracity of Daniel and that Daniel was prophecy. So if Jesus is wrong and it wasn’t written until after the fact instead of before the fact, then Jesus was wrong and Jesus was not therefore perfect. So this is important.
We went through all the evidence for that last time looking at the manuscripts and the very real possibility that Daniel was written much earlier than 165 BC. It is possible that the oldest manuscript we have would go back to 200 BC. We saw that the language of the book, even though it includes Greek terms and Persian terms, is clearly understandable within the historical context of the period. That these words were in the language and there were certain terms that were fluid. If you go to Russia today you’ll find that many terms in Russian are borrowed from English. They were borrowed from the French during the time of Caspian the Great. They were borrowed from other European languages. The same was true in the ancient world that because of commerce many languages and loan words went from one culture to another. Greek words, Persian words, and so this is not an oddity and would not indicate a late date for the book.
4. The liberals claim there are numerous historical blunders and we identified a couple those and they really weren’t historical blunders. And then we began to look at the outline of the book in terms of the history or the prophecy that is there.
In Daniel 1:1-21 we have a history of the prophet Daniel. We learn who he is and how he comes to be in Babylon. In Daniel 2:1-7:28 the language shifts to mostly Aramaic and it is during this time that we have the great prophecies in the book of Daniel and they all relate to the Gentile kingdoms and nations. The third major division of the book goes back to Hebrew. The Aramaic is a Gentile language, so that is appropriate for describing and revealing information on the history of the Gentiles; and then the history of Israel returns to Hebrew. Look at Daniel 2. Daniel 2 is the great image that appears. Now I have used the word “image” several times. As soon as you see the word “image” in Scripture one thing that ought to come to your mind is man was created in the image and likeness of God. So when we come to Daniel 2 and we hear about this vision that Nebuchadnezzar has about the great statue that has the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron; one thing that should come to our mind (and it is in the form of a man.) One thing that should come to our mind is well does this have something to do with is God somehow relating this back to the image purpose of man? And I think that there is something there that God wants us to pay attention to, that man is failing to fulfill the image function and wants to assert himself in his own image.
If we contrast, we will do it a little bit. This is a chart. I don’t expect you to take down all of these details, but if you do a comparison between Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, which are the two major visions that Daniel has related to these kingdoms. (Overview of chart with statue) everything here is of valuable metal, gold, silver, bronze; and it becomes less valuable as you go from top to bottom on the image, which is going through history. Each kingdom is less powerful and less valuable is what God is saying. It comes down to the legs of iron and finally the feet that are a mix of iron and clay. Now what we see in this image is man’s kingdoms as man views them; that they are something of significance; they are something of value; man is something in his own eyes. In Daniel 7 these kingdoms are represented as beasts, a lion with the wings of an eagle, a bear raised on one side, a leopard with four heads, and then a horrible fourth beast who has iron teeth and claws of iron. Now this represents the kingdom of man as God sees the kingdom of man; that it has an essential bestial quality. It is violent; it is ugly; it is horrible; it is not of value!
So Daniel 2 reflects on these kingdoms as man sees them and Daniel 7 shows them in terms of their nature as God sees them. Now in Daniel 2 you have the statue with the head of gold that represents the Babylonian kingdom. So this first column here on the left is each individual aspect or part of the image. Then there is the description or interpretation in the second column. We will just skip over that. Don’t pay attention to that column for our purposes this morning. Then the middle column identifies each of these parts in terms of which empire they referred to. So the head of gold represents the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, which was taken out and destroyed by Cyrus in 539 BC when his armies invaded. That leads us to the second kingdom, represented in Daniel 2 with the breast and arms of silver. The arms indicate two different aspects. There was a combination kingdom of the Medes and the Persians and it was known because the Persians were dominate. The Persians had defeated the Medes. It was known as the Persian Empire. This lasted from 539-331 BC. It is under their auspice through Cyrus and later Artaxerxes command to Nehemiah to go back to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the Jews returned to the land and the temple is rebuilt and the fortifications around Jerusalem are restored.
Then the third element in the prophecy in the image refers to the belly and the thighs of bronze and this refers to the Greek empire from 331 BC down to 63 BC. The legs of iron represent ancient Rome, the feet of iron and clay. The iron represents certain elements of the earlier Roman Empire. The clay represents certain newer, weaker elements and this is the future Revived Roman Empire. This is laid out in Daniel 2 and this is given around 580 BC, somewhere in that time Daniel has this vision. So there is clear prophecy in Daniel. He prophesied the fall of the Babylonian Empire and each successive empire. Now when you come to Daniel 7 Daniel clarifies who some of these are. He does not do that in the interpretation of chapter two. In Daniel 2 they are just identified as first, second, third, and fourth kingdom, but in Daniel 7 they are identified as the Persian kingdom, Greek kingdom and Roman kingdom. Now when you get into Daniel 7 then you have the lion with the wings of an eagle represents the Babylonian kingdom; then the bear raised up on one side. This indicates one side is stronger than the other. That is the Persian Kingdom holding the three ribs would represent three major battles that the Persian Empire gained victory in which consolidated their empire and then there is the leopard with four heads and four wings on its back.
Now the leopard is Greece under Alexander the Great and when Alexander died the kingdom, his empire, was divided among his four generals. So there was the kingdom of Greece, the kingdom of Syria, the kingdom under Ptolemy down in Egypt, and the Persian area. So it was subdivided into four sections. That is why the leopard has four heads. That is the break-up of the Greek Empire into four sections. That is replaced by the fourth kingdom, which is characterized by iron teeth and claws of bronze. That again is Rome, and then the future Roman kingdom is represented by the ten kings and the ten horns on the goat. So that is comparing the prophecy of Daniel 2 with Daniel 7 and that lays out the history of the Gentile kingdoms and eventually they will be destroyed. When Daniel sees the image in Daniel 2, what happens is he explains the significance of this huge image that he sees in Daniel 2:34. He says to Nebuchadnezzar, “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.” So the kingdom of man is destroyed by this stone that is cut out without hands. In other words, it doesn’t come from a human source; it is a divine source. This, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ returning at the Second Advent, at Armageddon, and He destroys all of the human kingdoms and sets up His own kingdom in its place, the millennial kingdom. So that is the end of the history of Gentile kingdoms.
Now one of the most important prophecies in Daniel is in Daniel 9. So turn over a few chapters and let’s look at this. This is one of the most detailed and precise prophecies given in the Scriptures. Daniel has been meditating on Jeremiah, reading through the scrolls of Jeremiah, and in there he discovers that there are about seventy years decreed by God in relationship to Jerusalem. This is described in Daniel 2:9. Now the way this works out if you played with the numbers and it somehow doesn’t work; it works out in two ways, 605 BC is when the first captives were taken out of Jerusalem. The first group returns to the land in approximately 535-536 BC during that overlap period. So that is roughly your seventy years there, from the time they go out to the time they return. The primary reference for the seventy years is in relation to the temple. In 586 BC the nation goes out under divine discipline, the temple is destroyed, and it is in approximately 516 BC that they begin to lay the foundations for the temple. Now the temple isn’t completed for about 60 years because they are in rebellion. That is what Haggai is all about, the prophet Haggai is challenging people to put their focus back on doctrine and finish the job and this is a major issue.
This is why Ezra goes back under the first return in 536 BC and Nehemiah culminates the process at the end. We’ll get into a look at that post-exilic period when we wrap-up next time. But when you talk about the seventy years captivity this is the gap that you are talking about either in terms of seventy years from the first deportation to the first return, but primarily it is from the destruction of the temple in 586 BC to seventy years later when they began to lay the foundation for the temple in 516 BC. Now in Daniel 9 as Daniel has been praying to the Lord he realizes that the seventy years that have been decreed are just about up. They first went out in 605 BC and he can add up and he knows that it is in the Persian period, probably about 537 BC at this point. He says, Lord, if you have decreed this then there should be a return to the land. Look at Daniel 9:20, he says, “Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God,” which of course refers to the temple mount in Jerusalem. Daniel 9:21, “while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel,” this is the angel Gabriel, “whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.” So notice the detail he gives. He is not just isolated some kind of fuzzy mystical state. He is saying this happened at a particular point in time when I was praying about the time of the evening offering, about four or five o’clock in the afternoon. And “He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you,’ so we learn something about angels and how angels are used by God to answer prayer. “I have come to tell you for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Now when it talks about seventy weeks, in the Hebrew this is really seventy periods of seven. So you can multiply that out and that comes to 490 periods, whatever that is. Now we know that that has to be years because of several things that take place in the context.
Now what this tells us is that the first sixty nine of these seventy years relate to Christ’s first coming. This first 69 weeks relates to Christ’s first coming and the final week of years, which is seven years, relates to Christ’s second coming. The 70th week of Daniel’s 70 weeks, the final week of seven years relates to the great Tribulation called the time of Jacob’s trouble in the Old Testament and is designed to bring the most intense form of divine discipline on the nation Israel to bring them back to the gospel, and at the end of the Tribulation period Israel is regenerate. They turn as a nation to the Lord and all Israel is saved according to the Scriptures. So at that point all Israel enters into the millennium saved. Now there are six items that Daniel mentions in Daniel 9:24. He says there are seventy weeks that have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Now that will define who the prophecy is for. “Your people” would be Israel; “your holy city” would be Jerusalem. That gives us a specific time frame. There is a purpose for this. This is the divine plan:
1. “to finish the transgression,” which means to bring to an end; literally in the Hebrew it is bring to an end the transgression and that relates to the cross. On the cross Christ is going to bring all of this to an end with His payment for sin.
2. “to make an end of sin.” Now this is not to remove sin from human history and everything else. Ultimately that is fulfilled when Christ deals with everything at the Second Coming, when He destroys the Antichrist and establishes His kingdom.
3. “to make atonement for iniquity,” which is the death of Christ on the cross.
4. “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” That of course does not occur until Christ comes at the Second Coming, Second Advent, to inaugurate the millennial kingdom.
5. “To seal up vision and prophecy;” and that has the sense of bringing all prophecies to an end. So it is not just related to First Advent, but also to Second Advent prophecies and all the prophecies related to Israel will be fulfilled in this period of seventy weeks.
6. And finally, “to anoint the most holy place.”
I take it that is a reference to the millennial temple that Ezekiel refers to. “To anoint the most holy place”, which is the focal point of the worship of the nation during the millennial kingdom under the Davidic rule of Jesus Christ as The Messiah.
Now here is the framework, the outline, of the decree. At this point you have the decree to “restore:”
Daniel 9:25 states, “you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree.” Now this passage does not specify what decree that will be. “From the issuing of a decree” can be two things: to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
Until Messiah the Prince there will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks. So if you add those together that comes up to 69 weeks and that is this period right here, from the decree to restore until Messiah the Prince comes. Now we know from a study of history and from our knowledge that there were three different decrees related to the Jews going back to the land, that the one this is referring to is Artaxerxes decree that is referenced in Nehemiah 2:1-8, when Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah a command to go back to Jerusalem and finish the building process and finish the completion of the walls and the fortress and the fence. That is what is going on here in the passage. That there will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks in it, that is the city, will be built again with plaza and moat.
This refers to all the defensive structures around the city, even in times of distress. So it is not just the decree of Cyrus to go back to the land and start rebuilding the temple. It is not just another decree to send more people back. It is specifically this decree from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls and fortifications of Jerusalem. We know that that can be dated to March 5, 444 BC. From that time we can figure out (and we will go through the process in a minute) from that date we know that the terminate, the end point of those 69 weeks comes to March 30, AD 33, which is the date of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Luke 19. It is just three or four days later that Jesus is cut off. The Messiah is cut off, He is crucified, and at that point this 69 weeks terminates; there is a gap here. The Church Age begins and we don’t know how long that is going to last. But there is a separation of time between the 69th week and the 70th week because Israel rejected their Messiah.
Now let’s look at Daniel 9:26, “Then after the sixty-two weeks,” so there is the 7 and 62 weeks or after the 69th week, “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come,” now that is a reference to Rome. “The prince who is to come” is going to come out of the Revived Roman Empire, but this is the early empire, not the later empire. “The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary,” and that was fulfilled in AD 70 when the city and the temple were destroyed under Titus. “And its end will come with a flood.” That is not a literal water flood; that is just in terms of it is going to come quickly. “Even to the end there will be war, desolations are determined.”
Now Daniel 9:27 comes in at the end of the gap. It is going to talk about the “coming prince” in some undefined time in the future. “And he will make a firm covenant with the many.” “The many” there is a reference to Israel. He is the Antichrist, the prince who will come. “He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week.” It is this covenant, when the Antichrist signs this covenant; this is the starting point of that last 7 year period. It is not the Rapture of the church. This is what starts the seven-year period. It occurs after the Rapture. But there will probably be some transition period in here; it could be a few weeks. It could be as long as a few months. I don’t think it will be very long. If you go back and you look at all the other dispensations in history, there is always a little bit of a transition period and it is not real clear how long it is. For example, between the Cross and Pentecost you had 50 days of a transition period before the Holy Spirit comes. So there is a transitional period there between the Rapture and the signing of the peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel. “And he will make a covenant with the many for one week.” That means it will last for this seven-year period. And in the middle of the week, that is 3-½ years of this seven-year period, “he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
So what that is talking about is that halfway into this 7 year period the Antichrist is going to desecrate the temple. This is the Tribulation temple that is built. It is not a holy temple. It is an unholy temple because it is built by the Jews to reflect Judaism. They haven’t accepted the Lord, none of that has happened, but the temple has to be rebuilt by as least the mid-point of the Tribulation. Now it doesn’t have to be built in its entirety, it just has to be built enough to where it is functional. So they may not even start rebuilding the temple until just a few months before this event takes place. Now Herod’s temple, I can’t remember when they began rebuilding Herod’s temple, but I think it was around AD 5 or 6. But it still wasn’t complete in AD 70 when they destroyed it. So the temple doesn’t have to be completed in all of its dimensions and everything by the time. It just has to have an altar, a Holy of Holies, and an entry way where they will restore the sacrifice; of course this is all tribulation under a rebellious Israel. It is not until after the Messiah returns at the end of the seven-year period that a new temple, the millennial temple, which is a holy temple, will be built.
Now as we go through the computations for this we know that these years must be figured on the basis of 360 day years and not 365 and a quarter day years, which we have in our Gregorian calendar. We know this because in Daniel 9:27 it uses the term “half-week,” and “time, times and half a time.” Time is one year, times is two years + a half a time. So you have 1 + 2 + ½ = 3 ½. That is Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:14. Revelation 12:6 and Revelation11:3 describe this same period of three and a half years as one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Now if you start doing your computations and divide three and a half into 1,260 days we come up with a 360-day year. Revelation 11:2 and Revelation 13:5 use the phrase “forty-two months,” thus 42 months equals 1,260 days and that equal time, times and half a time plus half a week; therefore a month equals 30 days and a year equals 360 days. Now that is a lot of math for most of you this early in the morning, but that gives you the computation. So prophecy years, by comparing these passages, are 360-day years.
If we look at this in terms of Daniel’s computation, you take the 69 weeks and multiply that by seven periods; 69 × 7 = 483, then take 483 and multiply that by 360, we come out with 173,880 days. So from March 5th, 444 BC and you add 173,880 days, you come to March 30, AD 33, which is the date of Christ’s triumphal entry. Now as verification of this, if we take 444 BC to AD 33 you have 476 years. Now if you add 444 and 33 somebody out there is going to say, well that is 477, there is no zero. You’ve got to take the zero out. So that is 476 years. Multiply 476 years × 365 and 1/4 days = 173,855 days. Now you add to that the number of days from March 5th to March 30th, which is 25 days, and we come up with 173,880 days. So that once again confirms the figure. This is an extremely precise prophecy that is fulfilled down to the day. Jesus Christ enters on that day and it is just 4-5 days later that the Messiah is crucified. So there is true predictive prophecy in Daniel.
Now the purpose of Daniel was to give the people a prophetic hope. In Ezekiel the purpose is to explain the glories that will come. In the first part of Ezekiel you have prophesies of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem from Ezekiel 1 – Ezekiel 24. Then from Ezekiel 25 – Ezekiel 32 there are prophecies against all of the various Gentile nations and how God is going to bring them to judgment during this time, culminating in the battle of Armageddon. Then from Ezekiel 33 – Ezekiel 48 there are detailed prophecies given about Israel’s final restoration to the land and what things are going to look like in the millennial kingdom. This is a fascinating section to evaluate. Let’s just look at one section starting in Ezekiel 40 where there is a detailed description of worship in the Millennium. Now there are five distinct purposes given in this section for the millennial temple. Sometimes people say, well, why is there going to be a millennial temple or why is there this restoration of animal sacrifices? There are five reasons given in this section:
1. There is a restoration temple to demonstrate the holiness of God.
It is the holiness of God that has been challenged through all of man’s rebelliousness through all of the ages, and it is in this millennial temple that there is going to be the place of the Messiah, the presence of God on earth, and this will be where all of the nations will come to worship God. So there will be a demonstration through all of the sacrifices, through all of the pomp and circumstance, of God’s holiness.
2. It will provide a dwelling place for the divine glory.
In the early part of Ezekiel 4 we see the removal. He sees a vision where the Shekinah glory of God goes from the Holy Place, and it goes to the exterior of Jerusalem, and it goes to the mountains, and then it departs. God’s presence has left Jerusalem. The Shekinah glory never returned to the temple. When they rebuilt the temple under Zerubbabel at the return and under Ezra the glory of the LORD never returned. So if they had an Ark of the Covenant in the post-exilic temple it wasn’t associated with the Shekinah glory. It is not the physical wood box covered in gold that has value; it was that this was where God dwelt. And so from the Exodus up to the departure of the Shekinah glory in Ezekiel’s vision before the collapse of the kingdom of Judah, the presence of God was with the Ark of the Covenant. But once the Shekinah glory left it is just a box covered in gold. Don’t make it into some mystical magical thing like Spielberg did in Raiders of the Lost Ark. In and of itself it had powers that were there only because God was there. When David is transporting it into Jerusalem and the cart hits a bump and the wagon jostles and the man reaches out to stabilize it and dies instantly; it is because the Ark is still because the Ark is still the dwelling place of God and he had touched what he should not touch; and so he had to die instantly. But once the presence of God is gone it is just another box. So there is going to be a dwelling place for the divine glory.
3. There will be a place to perpetuate the memorial of sacrifice.
Now a lot of people have problems with the restoration of animal sacrifice; but if we think about it, when we come to the Millennial Kingdom which is perfect environment under the perfect rule of the Davidic King, there is going to be very little opportunity for overt sin on earth. You are not going to be able to go down to the places in the big cities and have a crime ridden streets and all kinds of other things going on and find all the drug dealers out, all the pimps and prostitutes, and everything else. That is not going to be anywhere on the earth. So in terms of the overtness of a sin and evil on the planet, that is going to be gone. So there is not going to be much evidence around for the horribleness of sin. So how are you going to remind the citizens of the kingdom who were born in the kingdom with a sin nature and who still need to be saved; how are you going to remind them of the horrible nature of sin? It is through this visible demonstration of the killing of the sacrificial animals daily that is going to give them this visible demonstration of the horror of sin. So that is the purpose of the restoration of sacrifice and it is a memorial for Israel. Just as the church has the memorial of the Lord’s Table there will be the memorial sacrifice for Israel.
4. It will provide a center for the divine government. This is where the throne of David will be in the temple.
5. It will provide a victory over the curse of sin because it is from this center point of the temple that Ezekiel sees a river flowing, and it is this living river that flows eastward into the Dead Sea and there is life-giving water and it is also a reminder and a picture of what will be in the eternal state when out of the throne of God there is a river flowing just as we had back in Eden and out of Eden one river flowed and then it split into four; so there this “river of life” motif and this imagery of the flowing of the water.
In Ezekiel 40-46 there are detailed descriptions given. We just don’t have time to go through it. But if you take the time and you read it is very precise. Let’s look at Ezekiel 40:5, “And behold, there was a wall on the outside of the temple all around, and in the man’s hand was a measuring rod of six cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one rod; and the height, one rod. Then he went to the gate which faced east, went up its steps and measured the threshold of the gate, one rod in width; and the other threshold was one rod in width. The guardroom was one rod long and one rod wide; and there were five cubits between the guardrooms.” You read through this and it is like reading a blueprint, the description of a blueprint. There is tremendous detail. This isn’t just some sort of a vague image or figurative expression or metaphor for the return of God. It is too precise. It gives you every single detail. You could go out and take this as a blueprint and build the temple.
Now this is one chart I pulled in from the Dallas Seminary’s Bible Knowledge Commentary (p. 1314).
As I read through I did not have the time this last week to handle all the interpretive problems in this, but this is basically the description of what things will look like in the millennial kingdom. What you have is in this area is the center of Israel. Apparently there is going to be a tremendous geophysical event after the return of the Lord that is going to elevate a plateau in the center part of Israel that is about 50 miles square according to one author. The figures differ because there is a lot of debate as to the exact length of the cubit and the rod in this. Everything from about 50 miles by 50 miles down to about 30 by 30 (miles), so somewhere in between. It is an enormous area and this blow-up here shows what the temple area will look like and the very center will be the temple and the measurements of that go from a quarter mile by a quarter mile to one mile by one mile. So once again there is a lot of debate and I don’t have the time to go through all the issues there. I am not sure I could resolve that in my own mind. But it is going to look something like this. There is the center point where the sanctuary is surrounded by the priest’s inheritance. The Levites have a portion in the top third of this area. In the south there is the city of Jerusalem in the center part and then there is land for the citizens to each side of the city. So the square area in the center that is the focal point of the temple is surrounded by the Prince’s portion land to the east and to the west, and then the tribes are given their inheritance and they are horizontal strip. There are horizontal parallel strips given to the tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Judah to the north. So this is what the millennial kingdom and the topography and the lay out of the land will be like at the restoration in the millennial kingdom.
So Ezekiel 40-48 describes what the Millennium is going to look like when the New Covenant is brought in and Israel is going to be restored to the land in their full glory with a new temple, with a new sacrificial system, with a new priesthood. All of which will be geared toward the memorization of what the Messiah did. So the point of Daniel and Ezekiel is to give God’s revelation to the people who are under this tremendous adversity. They are out of the land in discipline but God is still in control of history. The God who controls the broad sweep of history must also control the minutia of history. So even though they are under tremendous adversity, and even though you don’t have a clue how all of this is going to work out, you can know that in the end this is what God is doing in His plan and purpose in human history. So this is the message that comforted the Jews when they were out of the land during the exile and then they begin to return in 536 BC and we will look at the return in the post-exilic period in our final lesson on the Old Testament orientation next time.
"Father, we do thank You for Your work in history. You are a God who controls all events and that as we look out on our world today and there are so many uncertainties and so many things that threaten, from economic issues to war issues to political issues, we know that You are in control and You are bringing everything along to fit Your plan and Your purposes for the ultimate judgment of man and restoration of Your kingdom on the earth. Father, we pray that if there is anyone here this morning that is unsure of their eternal destiny, uncertain of their salvation, that they would take the opportunity now to make that certain. All of these things point to the coming of Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross for our sins. He paid the penalty so that salvation is not dependent upon who we are, what we do, what church we belong to or any other human factor, but is totally dependent upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Scripture says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Father, we pray that You would help us to remember the things we’ve studied, to be challenges and encouraged by these things, we pray in Jesus' Name, Amen."