RDean/Daniel Lesson 43
Daniel's Seventy Weeks; Israel's Two Regatherings – Daniel 9:26
We're going to continue our study of this significant prophecy, usually referred to as Daniel's seventy weeks or Daniel's seventieth week. And that is because of its central importance for understanding Biblical prophecy and dispensations, God's plan for Israel and I think it's also foundational because it shows that God has a future plan for Israel that that excludes the Church from that future plan for Israel. So that implies that there is no Church in Daniel's seventieth week. So this is a foundational prophecy for many reasons and therefore I'm taking some time to go through it and to deal with some of the implications that we find here.
Let's review the passage Daniel 9:24 "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place  So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat," actually that's trench or ditch and that has to do with the foundation for the wall, "even in times of distress.  Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.  And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abomination will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
Now let's review a couple things on Daniel 9:24-25. There are several problems of interpretation that have to be addressed in this passage. The first has to do with identifying what the term "seventy weeks" means. Literally in the Hebrew it is seventy periods of seven. So the next question is do those periods of seven indicate days, weeks, months, years, what are they and we said last time it is years; we know that from the context and we looked at some other passages to substantiate that. One of the most significant is that if you use months, days, or weeks nothing works out for anything so by logical extension it's years.
Secondly we have to understand what the six purposes were and ask the question have any of them been fulfilled. The answer was no they have not been fulfilled; they are all fulfilled at the end of the Tribulation period.
The third interpretation problem is to discern what the starting point is. For those of you who like to expand your vocabulary we'll learn a Latin phrase here and that is terminus a quo, that's how the scholars talk about that; most of us we just say the starting point and the end point. This is literally the time or the point from which, and then the other term is terminus ad quem, the point to which, and so you have a starting point and an end point for this 490 years and we need to discern and determine what that is.
Now the starting point of verse 25 tells us that we are able to understand this prophecy. "So you are to know and discern" Gabriel says to Daniel, which means that if Daniel is able to understand and interpret this passage then we are. If we're going to have any benefit at all from this passage or the Jews are going to have any benefit at all from this passage they're going to be able to accurately understand what the starting point is and what the end point is and what the breakdown is and everything that is included. So this is not one of those passages that people can just sort of fold their hands and say well, you know, that's just too complicated, we really don't know what's going to happen in history. Now for many years, many centuries people sort of had that view because of certain problems related to the calendar and that is in a sense the foruth interpretive problem and that is exactly what calendar is being used here. When we get down to verse 26-27 we'll have to answer the question: who is the prince who is to come? And then we have to answer the question: who confirms the covenant in verse 27 and to whom does the pronoun "he" refer? So those are six key questions we have to answer.
Last time we started looking at the breakdown of this in terms of the starting point. I said there were four basic decrees in ancient history that were candidates for this starting point. The first is Cyrus' decree in 538 BC for the Jews to return to the land and rebuild the temple. We said that doesn't work for two reasons: number one it fails because of the chronology, it comes out way too early for the Messiah, and nothing happened if you worked it out. Secondly, it was to rebuild, just to re-colonize the land, as it were, and they were authorized to rebuild the temple but that's not the point of verse 25, it is a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. And I said that has to do with the full development of Jerusalem as a functioning city, it's rebuilt plaza and mote, the term "plaza" refers to the open square, the market where business will be conducted so it refers to the economic life of Jerusalem, and then the term "moat" refers to the trench that would have to be cut in order to lay the foundation for the city wall, so that's a reference to the military defense of Jerusalem. So it has to do with the full orbed function of a city, almost a city state as it was at that time, which would be functioning economically and have military protection.
And one principle that is recognized by that statement is the principle of freedom through military victory, that God authorized the military in the ancient world and we know from our study of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Nehemiah that Nehemiah had to put together a ragtag militia in order to defend Jerusalem from the inhabitants of the land at that time who, at least in spirit, although not ethnically related, were comparable to the modern Palestinians, they wanted to do everything they could out of anti-Semitism to prevent the Jews from rebuilding Jerusalem. So current affairs are not any different, they're just another chapter in a long history of inhabitants in that region wanting to prevent Israel from having control of the city that God calls His Beloved City and the mount that is the temple mount, the mountain of God, and as I said, this is Mount Zion, it is the original site, Mount Moriah, where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac, God provided a substitute there. It is the place where Araunah had his threshing floor that David bought, where Solomon built the first temple and where the second temple is built, and where today stands the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa mosque and four other mosques on the temple mount in Jerusalem. And it's controlled by the Arabs, even though ultimate control of the temple mount goes to Israel. Israel took control, seized control in the 1967 war but they immediately turned back operational day to day control to the Arabs, though it's the Jews, the Israeli police that provide protection for the temple mount. It is the Israelis who keep Jews off the temple mount. It is the Israeli courts who continue to protect the sovereignty of the Arabs over the temple mount even though the Jews took control, seized control, when they defeated the Arab armies in 1967.
So there are a lot of interesting factors and implications of this prayer that Daniel has had and the timing here all relates as the Scripture says, "for your people and your holy city," verse 24, and then back in verse 20 we read that Daniel was praying for the "holy mountain of my God" and that is Mount Moriah, Mount Zion, the temple mount in Jerusalem. So we are to be able to discern certain things about this prophecy.
Now Cyrus' decree doesn't work, neither does the decree by Darius Hystaspes, now that's not the Darius we studied in Daniel, this is one of his descendants, mentioned in Ezra 6. The third decree is the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus which was given in 457 BC. That's the same Artaxerxes as the fourth decree which is in 444 BC but only is this final decree in 444 BC is the one that authorized Nehemiah, we find this in Nehemiah 2, that's the only decree that authorized a rebuilding of the city's fortifications and a completion of the city. So that is the candidate.
The decree to restore, we know from studying archeological records, and a number of studies have been done in the last century, the most famous and really the groundbreaking study was done by Sir Robert Anderson who was a former head of Scotland Yard and was a fine believer and student of Scripture, he discovered that it was this decree, and then he started working out the details. Now there were some calendar problems in his era; I don't want to get distracted by going into the calendar problems but throughout this whole study there's one little caveat and that is if our understanding of all of these dates based on secular chronology are correct, they could be off some but in the 20th century a lot of study was done, a lot of corrections were made. If you ever read Anderson's book you'll discover that he uses the date 445 BC. And it's interesting, if you read anything written before about 1960 the dates you discover are dates like…
I usually use the date 722 BC, you'll find 723 BC. I say 585 BC, you'll read 586 BC. You'll find this one year discrepancy and that's because in the early 60s a man by the name of Edwin Thiele wrote a complex, complicated book dealing with all the ancient chronological systems, called The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings and unlike most theologians and most liberal scholars and liberal theologians, he took the numbers in Scripture seriously but discovered that because we didn't understand certain schemes, certain ways in which they counted the reigns of kings the way they counted the ruling years, that our chronology was off so he refined chronology; everybody accepts his conclusions, liberal or conservative, and one of the consequences of that is that many dates got shifted by one year. That's why if you read anything that you'll see a slightly different number.
Now the decree to restore was given March 5, 444 BC and we know from Daniel 9:25 that this initial time period is broken into two. There are actually three time periods, there's a seven week time period, a sixty-two week time period, and a one week time period. 7 + 62 is 69 weeks to cover the first time period; there is no break, if you read the text it simply says there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, there's clearly no break between the two, they flow together but they do distinguish something and that is the first seven weeks, actually 49 yeas, was the period of disruption during which the city was rebuilt. So that first seven represents the period during which the city was being reconstructed and then the sixty-two weeks for a total of sixty-nine weeks. If we take those numbers and we multiply them out, 7 times 7 equals 49 years; 49 times 360 equals 17, 640 days or 48.3 years. So that takes us from 444 BC to 395 BC and that's the time period when they're reconstructing the temple.
Now why do we use 360 day years? This seems to be confusing for some people. Actually we know we have a 365¼ day year, that's how long it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun. Why do we use a 360 day year? Last time I went through the evidence from Genesis 7:11 and Genesis 8:3-4 that this seems to be the Biblical pattern back to the flood, and also in Revelation 11:2-3 and a number of other passages in Revelation it's clear by comparing the data that these are 360 day years. For example, Daniel 9:27 talks about the fact that this last week, the seventieth week is divided into two segments, that that's the same as his other phrase, time, times and a half a time which is mentioned in Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 12:14. This is equated to the chronology of 1260 days given in Revelation 12:6 and 11:3.
Furthermore, this same period is also referred to as a 42 month period in Revelation 11:2 and Revelation 13:5. Thus we come to the conclusion that if 42 months equals 1260 days, and that equals time, times and a half a time, that equals a half a week, therefore a month equals thirty days and 30 times 12 is 360 days. So we have a 360 day year.
Now why do we have a 360 day year? This is something interesting, just a little extra free information here. Most modern scholars look at the ancients and they say why do they have a 360 day year? They just weren't smart enough to figure out a calendar, and to a lot of people who don't know a whole lot that sounds like that might be an adequate explanation. The problem is that we're talking about the people who laid the foundations and built the pyramids; people who understood trigonometry and geometry. The ancient Egyptians were able to calculate to within a very close approximation the circumference of the earth. Now they didn't believe in a flat earth; they were able to, just on the basis of mathematical skills alone, calculate the circumference of the earth. We're talking about people who mapped the heavens, people who invented navigational systems; we're talking about people who were very advanced. The Persians invented algebra. You'll that in today's debate there's going to be a lot of discussion about the glorious era of the Arabs. Well, it's only glorious because they were transmitters of more ancient information and they rediscovered the algebra that was really invented by the Persians and the Babylonians.
They were mathematically astute. So how come they had a 360 day year. Just think about it; if you're 5¼ days short then in ten years you're going to be 52 days short; in 20 years you're going to be 104 days short and that means you're going to start doing your spring planting in the middle of August, in Connecticut; or if you're in Texas the middle of May, people in Texas don't understand that in Connecticut you can't plant until after Memorial Day; by Memorial Day their crops are burned up. So if you're off by five days in a matter of 10, 20, 30 years, in a matter of 50 or 60 years you are going to be celebrating Christmas in the middle of the summer. So it would seem that if you've got a couple of brain cells connected that you would recognize that your calendar system was off. They didn't do that, so you have really one of two options and the first option we just dismissed and that is that they were just ignorant.
The second option is no, they weren't ignorant, we're ignorant because perhaps something changed and there have been a few revolutionary thinkers, they're usually rejected by the status quo in the universities, but people like Velikovsky and some others who have taken at face value many of the ancient legends and stories and tried to put them together. The problem with Immanuel Velikovsky is that he was a secularist and an atheist and he's really trying to come up with just a naturalistic explanation for events like the Exodus, the miracles at the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, many other events that took place in the Bible, including Joshua's long day, the shadow that backs up the stairs in Hezekiah's day, he's trying to take those as being accurate and he's going to explain them through some kind of astronomical phenomena.
And I think he hit on something, something apparently did happen astronomically in about the 7th century BC. We have not only the episode recorded in 2 Kings of the shadow that Hezekiah was looking, he wanted a sign from God, God heard his prayer and so the shadow backs up, it comes down the stairs and then goes back up the stairs, indicating that there's some kind of reversal of solar movement. Also at that time there's an obscure reference in 2 Chronicles to the fact that during that same time period the Jews celebrated Passover in the middle of the second month instead of in the first month. Now Passover is set to be the 15th of Nisan which is the first month in the ceremonial calendar. So why would they violate it one year and celebrate Passover in the middle of the next month unless there's something happening chronologically that is changing things. And by the time you get into the period of the middle to late 6th century BC which is our time frame, 537 BC, then it seems like most of the ancient civilizations are beginning to make adjustments in their calendars from a 360 day year to a 365 day year.
It's also interesting that when the ancients developed the foundations for modern geometry and trigonometry, when they defined a circle they gave that circle 360 degrees, not 365 degrees because a complete circle would be the complete circumference of the path of the earth around the sun. So either they were making mistakes or there were some odd things going on astronomically that changed the calendar system on the earth. My simple point on this is when we come to Revelation everything is in a 360 year again and just being a little bit speculative, perhaps what happens, we know in the early seal judgments at the beginning of the Tribulation there are astronomical phenomena, there is a burning mountain that falls to the earth which could be an asteroid, there are things like that that happen, perhaps there will be during the Tribulation something else occur that puts the earth back on track to a 360 day year.
And all of this is just to show that God controls everything in the universe and even when you have doomsday scenario like we have in movies, like Armageddon and some of the other movies that have come along suggesting that if an asteroid hits the earth everything is going to all be over with, that apparently there were things like that that occurred in the ancient times and God controls history and protects planet earth. That just gives us tremendous comfort. So we've gone through the passages, we've seen the rationale for seventy weeks, that these years are 360 day years so when we calculate the seventy weeks we multiply 69 times 7 times 360, that comes to 173,880 days. From March 5, 444 BC you add 173,880 days and you arrive at March 30, AD 33 which is the Palm Sunday, the day of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, what we call Palm Sunday. It was not necessarily on Sunday. I think it's very likely it was on the Sabbath, on that Saturday.
Verification: 444 BC to AD 33, then you subtract 1 because there is no year zero when you go from BC to AD, that comes to 476 years. 444 plus 33 is 477, minus 1 is 476. You multiply 476 years times our calendar of 365¼ days and you come up with 173,855 days. There are 25 days between March 5th and March 30th, you add together and that totals 173,880 days. So now we've cross-checked. See, when you do this you realize the Bible calls upon every intellectual skill known to man including math.
So from the decree to restore to Messiah the Prince is 173,880 days and that ends of March 30th AD 33, Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then we read in verse 26, "After the sixty-two weeks Messiah will be cut off," and it's clear from the Hebrew word 'achar that this afterward, it is following; the sixty-nine weeks end and it is after that period, not during the period, not in the period, there are clear Hebrew prepositions for during and in, this is after that period, the Messiah is cut off. And then we're told if you look at verse 26, "after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. So two major events are said to take place after this period. They're not in the seventieth week; they're after the sixty-ninth week but the text itself says it's before the seventieth week. There's a clear textual break.
I'm making a point out of this because I want you to pay attention to the fact that I'm not coming along and imposing a chronological scheme or a gap here in the text; there is not a gap between the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks; the Scripture just clearly states that there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. But then we're told after the sixty-two weeks… and the entirety of verse 26 takes place before there's any mention of the beginning of the seventieth week. Now the reason I say that is we're living in an era where the views that we take on this are under attack and there are people who come along and say that's just old dispensationalism and they're just forcing that on the text. And that's coming out of the covenant theology school on prophecy known as amillennialism or postmillennialism, they're two different systems, both from Calvinism, but in recent years there's been a tremendous rise in popularity of a system called preterism.
Preterism is from the Latin word meaning past and their basic position is that all of these prophecies were simply references to Jerusalem's destruction in 70 AD, all of prophecy, all of Revelation, Matthew 24, all of that has been fulfilled, we're living in the kingdom. Now I know you didn't know that you were living in the millennium and the last time you saw a rattlesnake you didn't exactly want to put your hand down that rattlesnake den, even though the Scripture says the child will put his hand in a cobra den, you feel like that applies to rattlesnakes as well and copperheads, but when we look at this passage we see that we are justified in putting a gap between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week and we don't know how long a period that is. So far it's been over 2,000 years. But the sixty-two weeks, it says "after the sixty-two weeks" Messiah the Prince is cut off, and the people of the prince who is to come destroy the city and the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a reference to the temple. And that occurred under Titus in 70 AD when the Roman 10th legion destroyed, completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and left no stone unturned. So it was completely wiped out and Jews were removed from the land and Israel ceased to function as a nation.
Daniel 9:26 is going to talk about the coming prince; that coming prince is going to create an event called the abomination of desolation, desecrate the temple halfway through the Tribulation. Both of these events have to do with Israel, as the text says, "for your people and your holy city," it does not have to do with the Church, so as members of the Church, the body of Christ, believers during this age are not going to be present on the earth when this last week occurs. There will be a returned emphasis to Israel.
In Daniel 9:26 we have the first phrase, "after the sixty-two weeks," and then we have the second phrase which is "the Messiah will be cut off," and that is a reference to the cutting of Messiah, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at the First Advent. We're told here two things, that the Messiah will be cut off and secondly that he will "have nothing." So this passage looks at the Messiah in a political context, that He came to offer the kingdom to Israel but they rejected it so there is no kingdom. That's what "have nothing" means, that the Messiah at that point in history will not have political power, will not have a kingdom on the earth. Christianity, therefore, fulfills the prophecy of the Old Testament that we do not worship Jesus as a reigning king. That's something you have to watch out for; how many songs do you find in the hymnal that have to do with the king. Jesus may be the king sovereign of the universe, but He is not ruling as Messianic king and does not rule as Messianic king until He returns at the Second Coming as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Right not he is without kingdom. That's one of the problems with a lot of hymns, hymn writers usually don't know enough theology or else they have a bad theology and so they get caught up in this kind of a problem.
"After the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary," notice it does not say the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary, "the prince who is to come" refers to the antichrist, this is the one who in verse 27 "will make a firm covenant with the many for one week," it's interesting to note that the same word for prince that is used of the antichrist is the same word that is used to refer to Messiah the Prince in other passages and indicates his role as a substitute messiah. "The people of the prince who is to come are going to destroy the city and the sanctuary." Now we know from history that the people who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple were the Romans.
Now "the prince who is to come" is a prophetic term and that refers to the antichrist of the future, so if the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary were Romans, then that indicates that the prince who is to come is going to come out of the Roman Empire and that fits with the study that we had in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, especially Daniel 7:8 which talked about the antichrist is the little horn that came out of the fourth beast. So that indicates that the antichrist is not going to come out of Africa, he's not going to come out of Asia, he's not going to be an Arab, he's not going to come out of Islam, he is going to be a western European. Now that has some interesting implications for today because if you look at the statistic, Islam is the fastest growing religion, not only world wide but also in Europe. In fact, there are seven Moslems for every Christian in France, and it is rapidly taking over or passing the statistic for Roman Catholics in Europe. And if the trend continues it would seem that in another 20 or 30 years they would be able to accomplish what they failed to accomplish at the Battle of Tours in Vienna back during the Middle Ages, that is to take over Western Europe. In fact, thanks to our former President whose name I won't mention, we had the establishment a couple of years ago of the first Moslem nation in Western Europe, in the Balkans. So Islam has definitely got a toehold in Europe now, something they never had in the past. Charles Martel defeated them in the battle of Tours and then they were defeated in the early 1500s outside of Vienna.
It seems to me that if what Daniel records is going to take place that Islam is not going to be a powerful force at this time and the reason is as we're going to see next week when we get into verse 27 that there will be a nation Israel, in order for the antichrist, the prince who is to come, to have a covenant with them, there has to be a political entity, Israel. For him to desecrate the temple there has to be a temple. I don't see Arafat or the PLO or the Arab bloc today being really excited about giving up control of the temple mount but obviously they are going to do that. That suggests to me that something is going to happen to defang, to demilitarize and destabilize the Arabic bloc so that they are not a threat at the beginning of the Tribulation. And it's very possible that this war on terror and many of the events that are going on today could lead into a major war that destroys the power of the Arabs. That's just something that we will know when it occurs, we don't know how it will occur, there are many different scenarios that could bring that about but it seems to me that between now and the beginning of the Tribulation the Arabs have to be destroyed militarily so that these events can take place.
Verse 26 goes on to say "the people … will destroy the city and the sanctuary," so this indicates that western Europe, this western European block is going to be alive and well and militarily strong and under the leadership of the antichrist during the Tribulation. Then we read in the next phrase, "its end will come with a flood," now what are we talking about here. You have this neuter pronoun, "its," that refers back to the sanctuary, that is the nearest antecedent to the pronoun and a rule of grammar is whenever you have an indefinite pronoun it always refers to its nearest antecedent, and that would be "sanctuary" and/or "city." "…its end will come with a flood," that's referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD and the term "flood" has to do in Scripture…it is the Hebrew word sheteph and it refers in prophetic literature to military invasion, being overwhelmed by superior military force. It's used that way in Daniel 11:22 and again in Nahum 1:8 to describe the military defeat of the Assyrians, so when it says "its end will come with a flood" that indicates a massive military defeat.
And then it goes on to say… this isn't quite the end of Jerusalem, it says "even to the end," and I take it that the word "end" there refers to the end of history, "even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. The point is that Jerusalem will continuously be the focal point of war and that is true in history. For example, in 70 AD Titus and the Romans destroyed Israel, then again in 135 AD Hadrian re-conquered the city during the Bar Kokhba Rebellion and declared it to be a Gentile city and took all the Jews out of the city; again in 614 AD the Sassanids Empire which were the descendants of the Parthians and we would know it as Iran today, the Sassanids Empire defeated the Byzantine Empire and took control of Jerusalem. Then in 637 AD the Arabs took control and invaded from the south.
Then in 1517 AD the Turks, the Ottoman Turks took it over and Jerusalem became part of the Ottoman Empire and that's important because until World War I when the Ottoman Empire was allied with the Germans, until World War I Jerusalem and the area, the region we call Palestine, was part of the Ottoman Empire; the inhabitants were Arabs, they were not Palestinians, there was no Palestinian nation, there was no Palestinian state, there were no Palestinian people. There were Ottoman Turks and there were Arabs who were under the heel of the Ottoman Turks and the Arabs that lived there were no different from the Arabs that lived on the eastern side of the Jordan and no different from the Bedouin Arabs that lived down in Arabia.
In 1917 after World War I the British controlled Jerusalem under the leadership of General Allenby, and during that time from 1917 to the end of World War I until the end of World War II there were numerous uprisings by the Arab population there. Incidentally, in 1848 the Pittsburgh Dispatch reported that the population in Jerusalem was 40,000; 30,000 were Jews, about 9,000 were Christians and only less than 1,000 were Muslims. So that indicates that there's always been a strong dominant Jewish presence in Palestine. In fact the term Palestinian was a term that when applied to the Arabs in the early part of the 20th century was rejected because the Arabs 100 years ago thought the term Palestinian was a synonym for Jewish. So that area had a dominant Jewish population and was not deemed an Arab nation or an Arab country. In 1948 when Israel declared their independence, five Arab nations invaded and were defeated; again in 1967 the Arabs invaded and the Jews defeated them and at that time the Jews took control of Jerusalem, even though they gave part of it back to the Arabs and there have been numerous fights since then, including the present uprising.
Now all of these previous occupations of Jerusalem had been when Jerusalem was being ruled by another country. The Turks ruled it from Turkey; previous to that the Sassanids ruled it from Iran; the Arabs when they were in control they ruled Jerusalem from the south, there was never a local government in Israel ruling Jerusalem until 1967 when the Israeli government took it over from Jordan. Remember when Israel defeated the Arabs in 67, up to that point Jerusalem and the West Bank was part of Jordan. So when they were defeated they weren't defeating any Palestinians, Jordan's never recognized any Palestinians, all the time the West Bank was under the domination of Jordan there was never any movement to recognize an independent Palestinian people because face it, the Arabs who live on the west side of the Jordan are no different from the Arabs who live on the east side of the Jordan in the Hashemite kingdom of Transjordan. The same thing about the folks living down on the Gaza Strip, that was under the control of Egypt and when Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip there certainly was no movement. The Arabs had no desire to create a so-called independent Palestinian state. This is something that has been invented by the Arabs for the purpose of carrying out their nefarious schemes to destroy the nation Israel and no matter what anyone says, don't believe it.
In fact, the interesting thing is, I was watching several news shows recently and when I was in Houston late at night some of the talk shows and whenever any of the talk show hosts would start going through the information that I'm giving you this evening on the history of Israel, the Palestinians that they have on the show just go crazy, they just get angry and start yelling and screaming and they cannot stand to hear the truth. They may not even know the truth, they may be completely sincere in their beliefs because in all of the Arab countries the press is controlled and so all they ever hear is the lie that's put forth in all of the newspapers that are controlled by the Arab and Islamic press. So we have to pay attention to history and understand that some important things are happening.
Never in history, in all the years since 70 AD has Jerusalem been controlled by a local Jewish government until the 1967 War. So that raises the question, what does the Bible teach about the return of Israel to the land? Does the Bible teach that Israel will return to the land before the Tribulation? Now let me ask you a trivia question because I'm going to set you up; some of you know the answer to this but I'm using this to illustrate a point. Who was the first person crowned king over Israel? It was Abimelech, see what most of you hear is not the question; what most you heard was who was the first king God authorized or anointed to be king over Israel. That's what you heard; that's not what the question was.
As evangelicals we have a tendency when it comes to the future of Israel to only think about the return of saved Jews at the end of the Tribulation, so whenever we get into the Scriptures and we read anything about the Jews returning to the land it's like we have blinders on and we immediately think of the fact that the elect are going to be gathered from the four corners of the earth at the end of the Tribulation and all Israel will be saved. That's what everybody thinks of and we completely gloss over the fact that there must be an international return of Jews, not all Jews, but an international return of Jews to the land at the beginning of the Tribulation and that the Bible clearly teaches that. But there are evangelicals around who have a tremendous blind spot and will actually go so far to say that this nation, Israel today, has nothing to do with fulfilled prophecy or Biblical prophecy because they're unregenerate.
And what I hope to show you is that the Bible clearly teaches that there will be a return of unregenerate Jews to the land before the Tribulation and that is necessary. And the fact that this hasn't happened for 2,000 years suggests that it's not likely that they're going to be driven into the sea by the Palestinians and it will go another 2,000 years before the Tribulation takes place. Now I'm not date setting, I'm not saying the rapture is going to occur in this generation, that's a distortion of the Matthew 24 passage. I am not saying that the Tribulation is next year or next month or next decade but I am saying that the events that we are seeing since 1948 are significant prophetically.
Now that brings up another thing I want to put in here. I have said and continue to say that no Biblical prophecy is necessary…no Biblical prophecy is fulfilled before Jesus Christ comes at the rapture and that's true. However, that's different from saying that some Biblical prophecy might be fulfilled or begin to be fulfilled in the Church Age because it is setting the stage for what will take place after the rapture. And if there is going to be a nation Israel for the antichrist to sign a peace treaty with, a nation Israel to build a temple, a nation Israel to have a functioning priesthood during the Tribulation, then that nation, because if they've got a functioning priesthood and a functioning temple the conclusion is that they're not regenerate, that they've rejected the New Testament. If they believed the New Testament they wouldn't have a functioning priesthood, they wouldn't care about a temple. So it's obvious that the Scriptures imply that there will be a return of Jews to the land.
Now let's look at some passages. The main passage to look at is in Ezekiel 37:1, Ezekiel predicts a return of Israel in the vision that God gives Ezekiel of the dry bones. This is "dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones," that's the inspiration for that song back in the 50s. "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones," dead, dry, baked bones. Some have said that this was fully fulfilled in the ovens of Auschwitz when the bones were baked dry.  "Then he caused me to pass by them round about, and behold, there were very many I the open valley; and indeed, they were very dry.  And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered and said, O Lord God, You know.  Again he said unto me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD." The dry bones are a picture of Israel scattered throughout all the nations. They are dead as far as the nation goes and they are dead spiritually.
Ezekiel 37:5, "Thus says the Lord God unto these bones, Surely I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live.  I will put sinews upon you, and bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; then you shall know that I am the LORD."  So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied there was a noise, suddenly a rattling and the bones came together, bone to bone." There's no life here, notice it talked about breath, but there's no sinews, there's no flesh, there's no life, it's still dead, the dead bones are being gathered together. Verse 8, "Indeed, as I looked the sinews and flesh came upon them," that's the next stage when they are being put together. Some suggest that the scattering of the bones is Israel in dispersion. I think that's legitimate. Others say that the sinews connecting to the bones fits into the regathering of the nation today before the Tribulation and then as flesh is put on the bones and skin covers the body that that pictures Israel coming together nationally in the Tribulation and then breath into the body is the final conversion of Israel at the end of the Tribulation. I think in a general way that's fairly true.
Ezekiel 37:9, "Also he said to me, Prophesy to the breath, prophesy son of man, say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon the slain that they may live.  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath came into them, and the lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.  Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel," notice not just Judah but the entire nation, all Jews, "the whole house of Israel; they indeed say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost; and we ourselves are cut off." See, at that point they're regathered but there's no life, there's no hope.
Ezekiel 37:12, "Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will op en your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.  Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.  I will put My Spirit in you," now that terminology is New Covenant terminology, but they are returned to the land before the Spirit is put in them. That is important; there is a return to the land before there is regeneration.
Then Ezekiel 20:33, "As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out I shall be king over you." That indicates the wrath, that's a technical term for the Tribulation. Verse 34, "And I shall bring you out from the peoples, and gather you from the lands where you are scattered with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out." This regathering is in judgment; God would not be judging a regenerate Israel, so this is still Israel as unregenerate. Verse 35, "And I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I shall enter into judgment with you, face to face.  As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord.  And I shall make you pass under the rod, and I shall bring you into the bond of covenant.  And I shall purge from you the rebels," clearly this is looking at Israel as unregenerate, "I shall purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against me; I shall bring them out of the land where they sojourned, but they will not enter the land of Israel." Once again these verses in Ezekiel 20:33-38 make it clear that there is a regathering before Israel is saved.
Then in Ezekiel 22:18-22 we have the same message, "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me, all of them are bronze, and tin, and iron, and lead in the furnace," that means they are unsaved,  Therefore, thus says the Lord God: because all of you have become dross, therefore, behold, I am going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem," gathering them as unsaved.  As they gather silver, and bronze, and iron, and lead, and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I shall gather you in My anger," notice, "in My anger," it's in wrath, it is during or before the Tribulation, in judgment, "in My anger and in My wrath, and I shall lay you there, and melt you.  Yea, I shall gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath," that is the Tribulation, "and you will be melted in the midst of it.  As silver is melted in the furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you will know that I, the LORD, have poured out my wrath on you."
We'll come back and look at a few more passages, this is only the first part of the doctrine of what the Bible teaches about the return of Israel to the land and we will complete that and our study of Daniel next time.