It was God’s purpose from the beginning that His mercies and righteousness would extend to the entire human race. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He intended that they should be a shining light to the nations around them. Although He selected Israel as His chosen people, they were to be an example to the nations around them as to the justice and righteousness of God’s government. They were to show the world what happens when you trust in God and give Him full control. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Before We Begin
Dear Lord, as we study your word, please give us wisdom and understanding that we can know what is your truth for us. Amen.
From Captivity Back to Captivity
As you follow the story of the Israelites from the time of the Exodus for the next few hundred years, you see a people that constantly fall away from God’s principals and go into idol worship. There were times that God punished them and they returned to worshipping Him, but each time they fell away until God finally let them be taken into captivity.
After Moses died and Joshua led the people into Canaan, the promised land, they were told to completely eradicate the heathens in Canaan. Now this sounds pretty radical but because of the immoral practices and the idolatry, God knew that if any of the heathen were left, they would pollute the Israelites. Israel did not follow God’s commands and as a result put themselves on a path to leave His worship. Satan used the heathens in the land to break down the sanctuary services and entice the Israelites into the practices of the surrounding peoples. Instead of sacrificing to God, they began to sacrifice to idols.
In time, the Israelites, wanting to be more like the nations around them, chose a human king instead of God to lead them. For a while, Israel was united under the kings Saul, David and Solomon. After Solomon, The twelve tribes of Israel split into ten tribes in the Kingdom of Israel, and two tribes in the Kingdom of Judah.
The Kingdom of Israel, was to the north and broke away from the worship of God. After a series of kings, murdering each other, and ruling in an evil manner, God allowed the Assyrians to take The Kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 B.C.
In the south, The Kingdom of Judah fared better. They also fell away from God, but at times, some of the kings would bring the people back to God. The sanctuary or temple that Solomon had built in Jerusalem, was a magnificent and very expensive structure and continuing services at the temple reminded the people about God. However, over time, the temple fell into disrepair and the people turned to their idols. Finally, God had enough and allowed the Kingdom of Judah to be captured by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C and again in 597 B.C. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed and all the gold and silver vessels were taken to Babylon.
It’s interesting to note that even with all their apostasy and idolatry, God still called the Israelites His people. The purpose of God in allowing His people be taken into captivity was to remind them that He was God and that if they would turn back to Him, He would save them. God is amazing, even when we fall away from Him, he still tries to bring us back. Notice, He doesn’t force us, but He puts us in situations where we remember that there is a God and He wants us back.
Although God continues to call us back to Him, there is a limit beyond which He will not go. God’s patience was beginning to run out on His people. They were to be a light to the heathen nations around them, but they had failed miserably. So God set a timetable and He let His people know.
The Prophet Daniel
God provided His people with the prophet Daniel. We looked at some of his visions previously but let’s focus on one particular aspect of the vision in Daniel 8. Read Daniel 8:14, 27. When Daniel saw the vision and the time period of 2300 days, he got sick. Daniel was aware of the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:12 stating that the Israelites would be in Babylonian captivity for 70 years, and that 70 years would soon be up. Daniel was also aware of prophetic time periods. He knew that when God said days, it really meant years (Ezekiel 4:6). So now Daniel is expecting the Israelites to be released in the near future but God is giving him a time period way beyond the 70 years of Jeremiah. No wonder he got sick.
The Seventy Weeks
Daniel is so upset in chapter eight that he prays to God in chapter 9. About halfway through the chapter, Daniel records that the angel Gabriel comes to explain the vision of chapter 8. Read Daniel 9:20-27.
Dan 9:20 And whiles 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 for the holy mountain of my God; 21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being
caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. 23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.25 Know therefore and understand, that from the go46 ing forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Gabriel explains that the 70 weeks are part of a larger time frame of which only one is mentioned, that of the 2,300 days. The 70 weeks, or 490 years,
represents the time frame given to the Israelites to fulfill their duty as God has outlined it. In verse 24, God tells Daniel that if they do not change their ways, God will cut them off as His people. They have 490 years to quit sinning, to repent of their sins and to become righteous. The 490 years start when there is a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Some years after Medo-Persia conquered Babylon, they began to favor the Israelite captives and King Cyrus made a decree to allow the captive to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4). As the rebuilding progressed, enemies of the Israelites wrote to the new king, Darius, to complain. Darius searched and found the old decree, and renewed it (Ezra 6:1-12) and rebuilding continued. The enemies continued to harass the Israelites and a new king is on the throne in Persia, King Artaxerxes. Ezra finds favor with the king and in B.C 457, King Artaxerxes issues a decree giving full autonomy to the Israelites at Jerusalem (Ezra 7:12-26). It is this decree that starts the 490 year time period.
The Seventy Weeks Broken Down
Daniel 9:25 gives a time period of 69 weeks or 483 years from the
time the decree is issued till Messiah the prince appears. Verse 26 tells us that after that the Messiah will be killed and that Satan will then destroy the city and the sanctuary. Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple demolished in 70 A.D. Verse 27 gives us a little more detail about the Messiah. He will confirm the covenant for one week (7 days = 7 years), but the sacrifices will cease in the middle of the week (3 1/2 Years). Let’s look at this in detail. The Messiah will appear 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 457 B.C. 483 - 457=27 No, the arithmetic is not wrong. When you go from B.C. to A.D, there is no “0” year so you need to add “1”. The Messiah was to show up in A.D. 27, which is when Jesus was baptized in the fall. He continued His ministry for three and a half years until the spring of A.D. 31, when He was crucified. Three and a half years later, in A.D 34, Stephen was stoned. This signified the final rejection of the Messiah by the Jews. At this point in time, the gospel began to be preached to the Gentiles.
The Death of Jesus
Jesus hung on the cross until the ninth hour, when He died. The ninth hour was the “twilight” hour in Jewish time, or 3 PM in our time. The evening sacrifice was always killed at the ninth hour, and Jesus died right on time’ for the sacrificial offering. You can read of the events that happened at that time in Matthew 27:45-51; Mark 15:32-38; Luke 23:44-46. At the death of Jesus, you will note that the veil in the temple was torn in two by unseen hands. This was happening just as the evening sacrificial lamb was to be slain. The veil separated the Holy place from the Most Holy place. The tearing of the veil represented that God had departed the temple. The sacrificial services given to Moses no longer applied because the True Lamb had been slain. From this point on, the Jewish sacrificial system was no longer valid. The services, the festivals, the celebration Sabbaths were useless. The real sacrifice that they had pointed to, had just been finished. The earthly sanctuary services were now to be transferred to the heavenly sanctuary, with Jesus as our high priest.
The Significance of the 70 Weeks
The end of the seventy week prophecy signified two major shifts in the fight between God and Satan; the end of literal Israel and the beginning of Spiritual Israel, and, the end of the earthly sanctuary services and the beginning of the heavenly sanctuary services.
Literal Israel had rejected the Messiah, AS A PEOPLE. God had given them a message to give to the world and they not only hoarded the message, they also killed the subject of the message. The rejection of the Messiah as a nation did not disqualify the Jewish people individually from salvation, It also meant that the Jewish nation was no longer the bearer of the message and that the message was to go to all nations and tribes and peoples. (Matthew 28:19; Revelation 7:9)
Soon after the rejection of the Messiah, Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple was totally demolished. There was no more earthly sanctuary for Satan to fight against. The death and resurrection of Jesus had put an end to the earthly services but a beginning to the heavenly sanctuary services.
Romans 8:34 tells us that He is interceding for us in heaven. Hebrews 8:1 and 10:12 tell us that He is at the right hand of God as our high priest. So, Jesus is performing in the heavenly sanctuary, the same kind of duties that the earthly priests did in the earthly sanctuary. The major difference is that they did it with blood of lambs, while He does it with His blood.
We need to keep this in mind as we continue our studies . The sanctuary services did not end, they were transferred. Satan knows this and he is using everything in his power to divert our knowledge from the heavenly sanctuary and Christ’s intervention on our behalf.
Daniel was given a vision spanning 2300 years
1. The time period was to start in 457 B.C.
2. The first 490 years were to be given to the Jews
3. At the end of 483 years, Jesus was baptized and started His ministry
4. At the end of 3 1/2 years He was killed
5. 3 1/2 years later in A.D. 34, Stephen was stoned. This was the end of the 490 years and the end of literal Israel as the people of God
How Does This Show The Love Of God?
God NEVER gives up. If one method doesn’t work, He tries another. First He tried to work with Adam and Eve and their offspring. When the world was continually evil, He started all over again with Noah. Then He selected Abraham and his offspring, For over 1500 years, God kept pleading with His people. Finally He gave them an ultimatum. He even told them ahead of time when their time would be up. They still didn’t listen. Now He gives all of us a chance. Let’s not blow it.
God’s timetable won’t be interrupted. The end is coming soon and He wants us all to be ready. He really wants us to live with Him. The alternative is not pretty.
Wikipedia has a couple of articles that give you alternate viewpoints. When you read these articles, I suggest that you pray for wisdom and knowledge, and that the Holy Spirit will direct you to know what is the truth. Satan is fighting so hard for control of our minds today that we need to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you are honest in your searching, God will show you His truth. It may not happen all at once, but the more you study, the more God will open the truth to your mind.
Prophecy of Seventy Weeks