Dan 9: Daniel's vision of the 70 sevens: (1) Jeremiah's
prophecy of Jerusalem's restoration and Daniel's response (vv 1-3); (2) Daniel's
prayer of confession (vv 4-14); (3) Daniel's petition for restoration (vv
15-19); (4) God's response to Daniel's prayer (vv 20-23); (5) The revelation of
Israel's future in 70 sevens (vv 24-27).
THE FIRST YEAR OF DARIUS: Approx 538 BC, the first year
of the rule of Darius (or Cyrus) over the former Babylonian Empire (cp Ezra
1:1). This means that Belshazzar's feast (Dan 5) occurred between Dan 8 and Dan
9. Daniel's experience in the lions' den (Dan 6) happened either shortly before
or not long after the events recorded here.
THE SCRIPTURES: Daniel's "Bible" consisted of Jeremiah,
of course (vv 15,18), as well as Leviticus (v 7), Deuteronomy (v 4), Psalms (vv
9,16), Isaiah (v 11), and Ezekiel, a contemporary (v 12).
THE DESOLATION OF JERUSALEM WOULD LAST 70 YEARS: The
time period was revealed in Jer 36:23,28. This "desolation" had begun 606 BC
with the first Babylonian capture of Jerusalem, but the Temple had not been
destroyed until 586 BC. Daniel received this current vision about 67 years after
Nebuchadnezzar had deported the first group of exiles including himself, in 605
BC. So it looked as though the 70-year period was drawing to an end -- within
the next few years.
Notice that Daniel interpreted the 70 years of Jeremiah's
prediction as LITERAL years. His understanding of a literal fulfillment of
prophetic numbers gives an inspired direction as to how other such prophetic
time periods (eg, 42 months; 3 1/2 years; 1,260 days; 1,290 days; and 1,335
days) ought to be interpreted.
Overview: Daniel's attention was fixed on the period of 70
years which was coming to an end with the recent overthrow of the Babylonian
empire. Surely, he must have thought, this would be the beginning of the
reestablishment of the Kingdom of God, and perhaps even the time for the
appearance of Israel's Messiah.
But, in response to his prayer, Gabriel speaks not of these 70
years but of 70 "sevens" (vv 24-27). Would Daniel and others think that, when
the 70 years were finished, the kingdom would come very quickly, if not
immediately? If so, then the answer was a loud "No!" The kingdom would not come
after 70 years, but only after (at least!) 490 years. And if 490 years must pass
before some of the promises pertaining to the kingdom were fulfilled, then no
one should confuse Israel's soon return to their land with the commencement of
the kingdom. (At best, it was only a typical, and very imperfect,
The timing of the kingdom needed clarification, but so did the
nature of the kingdom. The kingdom of God would indeed begin, but not with the
return to the land of the people of Israel, nor with the rebuilding of the
temple. It would not even begin with the repentance of the nation of Israel.
Before the kingdom of God could come to the earth, there must be first a
solution to the great human dilemma of sin. This was the subject of the prophecy
of vv 24-27. And even that fulfillment (the atoning work of the Messiah), great
though it would be, would be merely the "first step" on the road to the true
Kingdom of God -- which was in fact to be considerably AFTER even the 490 years.
All this is implied in Gabriel's answer to Daniel's prayer.
No wonder that, as Daniel began to comprehend the great period
of time in front of him, before the fulfillment of all his hopes, he experienced
distress and depression and agitation.
However, God reminded Daniel that he would miss none of the
glories of that Kingdom -- even though it would commence long after he died. The
very last words of the prophecy of Daniel contain God's final reassurance to His
faithful servant: "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then
at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance" (Dan
12:13). Like a loving father to an eager child, anxious for a special day to
come, God speaks to Daniel: 'Don't worry. Go to sleep. I'll wake you up in
plenty of time. You won't miss anything.'
SO I TURNED TO THE LORD GOD AND PLEADED WITH HIM IN PRAYER
AND PETITION, IN FASTING, AND IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES: Jeremiah had revealed
that God would restore His people to their land when they prayed to Him
wholeheartedly (Jer 29:12-14). This revelation prompted Daniel to pray the
prayer that follows (vv 3-19). Daniel did not regard prayer as unnecessary in
view of the certainty of the prophecy's fulfillment. He viewed prayer properly
as one means that God uses to accomplish His will in human history (cp Dan
6:10). Through prayer we become partners with God in bringing His will to
fruition in the world. Daniel's behavior as well as his words expressed the
genuineness of his contrition.
I PRAYED TO THE LORD: "Daniel knew by reading the
prophecies of Jeremiah that the time of the Jerusalem captivity was about
finished. As a result of his knowledge Daniel began a very fervent and heartfelt
prayer asking for the forgiveness and restoration of his people. In time,
Daniel's prayer was answered and many Jews returned with Zerrubbabel and Ezra to
rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem during the reign of
"There is not much time left before Jesus Christ returns. That
means that it must be time for us to start praying. We must pray earnestly and
fervently with all our hearts for the return of Jesus Christ. It is our time now
to confess our sins, to repent and to plead for the restoration of God's people.
It is time to pray for Israel, that God will take away their blindness and
restore them. It is time now to pray for God's will to be done and for the earth
to be filled with his glory for ever and ever.
"So let us pray with all our hearts, as Daniel did. May God
answer our prayers and send Jesus back to make the earth a new and wonderful
place again" (RP).
Vv 5-14: in contrast to Yahweh's faithfulness to Israel,
Israel had been unfaithful to Him. The prophet identified with his people.
Personally he had been faithful to God. Yet since he was an Israelite he partook
of the blessings and curses that God sent Israel for her obedience and
disobedience (Deut 28:48-57,64-68).
When the prophets of Israel witnessed against the spiritual
abuses among their contemporaries, they did so while still continuing full
fellowship with those whom they denounced. More than this, the examples of Moses
(Exo 32:30-33), Daniel (Dan 9:5-14), Nehemiah (Neh 1:6,7), Jeremiah (Jer 3:25;
9:1), and Ezra (Ezr 9:6,7,13) show these men intimately associated with the
people whom they reprimanded, even so far as confessing the sins of the nation
as though they were their own. Here is the spirit of true fellowship, or
sharing, by which those most exercised against error bear the burdens of their
brethren, and strive with them as partners -- not outsiders -- to defeat the
enervating effects of sin.
Vv 15-19: Having laid a foundation for appeal in his
confession (vv 4-14), Daniel now proceeded to petition God to restore His people
to the Promised Land.
FOR YOUR SAKE, O LORD...: As God had righteously
brought discipline on Israel for her past sins, Daniel asked Him righteously to
bring restoration since He had promised it too. The answer would primarily
glorify God and secondarily bless His people.
WE DO NOT MAKE REQUESTS OF YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS,
BUT BECAUSE OF YOUR GREAT MERCY: Daniel appealed repeatedly for God to hear
and answer his prayer, not because the Israelites deserved it but because God is
compassionate (cp Exo 32:12,13). It is interesting that Daniel did not tell God
what to do. Instead he asked God to hear, to see, and to act. This is a humble
approach that does not dictate to God but leaves the answering up to Him.
GABRIEL, THE MAN I HAD SEEN IN THE EARLIER VISION:
Daniel again saw Gabriel, whom he had met previously (Dan 8:16). He was
obviously an angel. The description "the man Gabriel" is a play on words and
probably means "the servant, the strong one of the strong God." The Hebrew word
"ish" (man) often appears as a description of a servant (Leupold).
"Note that the term 'ha 'is' ('the man') does not signify
'man' in contradistinction to angels... in heaven; that would have been 'adam'
or 'enos' in Hebrew. It rather indicates that this mighty archangel had appeared
in a humanlike form and had spoken to Daniel intelligibly as one man speaks to
another [cf Luke 24:4; Acts 1:10]" (Archer).
ABOUT THE TIME OF THE EVENING SACRIFICE: Jesus kneels
in the evening shadows of Gethsemane; there he was "touched" by Gabriel at the
time of the evening sacrifice (Dan 9:21; Psa 141:2; Luk 22:43). See the prayer
of John 17.
Seventy seven-year periods totals 490 years. As Jerusalem was
suffering under the hand of Gentiles for 70 years (v 2), so the Jews and
Jerusalem would suffer under the hand of Gentiles for 490 years. "Your people"
and "your holy city" are obvious references to the Jews and Jerusalem (cf vv
7,11,20). They have nothing to do with the church, which is a distinct entity
from Israel (ie, 1Co 10:32). However as the following verses clarify, these will
not be uninterrupted years.
God had decreed these years. He had ordained them, and they
are as certain to come as anything else that God has foreordained. The purpose
for God decreeing this period is six-fold: (1) It will end rebellion
("transgression") against Him. (2) It will end human failure to obey God
("sin"). (3) It will provide time for atonement that will cover human
wickedness. (4) It will inaugurate a new society in which righteousness
prevails. (5) It will bring in the fulfillment of the vision that God has for
the earth ("vision and prophecy"). (6) It will result in the anointing of the
most holy, probably a reference to a new and more glorious "temple" -- whether
literal or spiritual.
God has already achieved some of these goals, specifically the
third one (with the death and resurrection of Christ), and to some extent the
first two (through the mediatorial work of the resurrected Christ). However, the
other goals have not yet seen fulfillment. Therefore it is reasonable to look
for a future fulfillment from our perspective in history. And this will surely
be fulfilled in the very near future, with the last great tribulations, leading
on the return of Christ to redeem His people Israel.
THE ISSUING OF THE DECREE TO RESTORE AND REBUILD
JERUSALEM: There are four decrees concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem
that Scripture records: (1) Cyrus' decree to rebuild the temple in 538 BC (2Ch
36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-4; 6:1-5). (2) Darius I's decree in 512 BC confirming Cyrus'
earlier one (Ezra 6:1,6-12). (3) Artaxerxes' decree in 457 BC (Ezra 7:11-26).
(4) Artaxerxes' decree authorizing Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 BC (Neh
2:1-8). The first two authorized the rebuilding of the temple, and the third
provided for animal sacrifices in the temple. The fourth one gave the Jews
permission to rebuild Jerusalem's walls, and it seems to be the one in view
here. If true, then the date 444 BC marks the beginning of this 490 year
UNTIL THE ANOINTED ONE, THE RULER, COMES, THERE WILL BE
SEVEN 'SEVENS', AND SIXTY-TWO 'SEVENS': Seven sevens plus sixty-two sevens
equals 483 years. Gabriel predicted that after 483 years [though not necessarily
IMMEDIATELY after! -- see the "middle" of the "seven" in v 27] Messiah would be
What happened after 49 years that justifies breaking this
period into two parts? Perhaps it was the end of the OT revelation through the
writing prophets. Another more probable view is that it took that long to clear
out all the debris from Jerusalem and to restore it fully as a thriving and
IT WILL BE REBUILT WITH STREETS AND A TRENCH, BUT IN TIMES
OF TROUBLE: In fulfillment of the 4th decree, approx 444 BC, the Jews
encountered stern opposition -- from the Arabs and Samaritans -- as they sought
to rebuild and refortify their ancient capital.
AFTER THE SIXTY-TWO 'SEVENS': That is, after (though
not necessarily IMMEDIATELY after!) 69 weeks, or 483 years -- since the 70
"sevens" are divided into, first, 7 "sevens", and then, 62 "sevens".
THE ANOINTED ONE WILL BE CUT OFF AND WILL HAVE NOTHING:
Or, "not for himself" -- ie, not for his own sins! The sacrifice of the Messiah,
for the sins of Israel.
THE PEOPLE OF THE RULER WHO WILL COME WILL DESTROY THE CITY
AND THE SANCTUARY. THE END WILL COME LIKE A FLOOD: WAR... DESOLATIONS: The
resultant destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, by Titus and the Roman
legions (and their Arab auxiliaries).
HE WILL CONFIRM A COVENANT WITH MANY FOR ONE 'SEVEN':
Who is this "he"? If it refers to "the Anointed One" of v 26, then this would
signify that, in the "middle of the [70th] seven" -- ie, after 3 1/2 years of
the final 7 -- Jesus would offer the sacrifice that would "confirm" God's
covenant with man. This would "put an end to sacrifice", because of the
once-for-all sacrifice of Christ (cp Heb 10:4,10, etc).
If, however, the "he" refers to "the ruler" of v 26, then this
would signify the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, thus putting an end
to sacrifice and offering in a very literal sense.
ON A WING OF THE TEMPLE HE WILL SET UP AN ABOMINATION THAT
CAUSES DESOLATION: It does not appear that this could be Christ at all.
Assuming it refers to the "ruler" of v 26, then the "abomination", in the first
instance, would be the continuing Roman presence in Jerusalem and on the Temple
Secondly, a continuing "abomination" would be the Dome of the
Rock, and the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount to this very day.
Thirdly, a final Last Days "abomination" would be the final, 3
1/2-year "desolation" of Jerusalem by its Arab conquerors, immediately before
the return of Christ in glory.
Possibly, some combination of all these three would fit the
UNTIL THE END THAT IS DECREED IS POURED OUT ON HIM [OR
IT]: This ought to be the final "end", involving the Second Coming -- which
would make the second and third suggestions above the more likely.