Hi John and Doves,
In response to Pastor Bob’s rebuttal of my reply to Gary re Daniel 9:24, (27 April2014), I totally agree that context is most important when interpreting scripture; however the true context of this chapter is about Daniel’s despairing prayer to God; seeking an answer to Judah’s problems of sin – their unfaithfulness through their idolatry - and their disobedience against the Law and the Word of God through the prophets, resulting in their exile. This agonised prayer produced a surprisingly swift answer through the Angel Gabriel which is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. This passage has little to do with the desired Kingdom of God, but rather it is about resolving the dilemma of their exile from their land, the destruction of Jerusalem including the burning of their temple and consequently the destruction of the infrastructure that allowed sacrifices by which to seek forgiveness. In the greater portion of this chapter Daniel is asking God to forgive his and the nation’s sins and asking how God was going to resolve the situation, the remainder of the chapter gives God’s answer via Gabriel.
The actual background context of this passage can be found in Daniel 9:2-4, and Jeremiah 29 – 32.
“…I Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled…”
Here Daniel refers to the books of Jeremiah (namely – his letter chapter 29, and his book chapters 30-31) that Jeremiah had written and sent to the early captives in Babylon many years before; giving instructions about their conduct during their exile as well as the promise of their return to the land after 70 years, Cf Jeremiah 29:10, 25:11-12. However, Daniel (now an old man) also read in these books about a promised covenant that would be activated sometime after their exile period was complete, and it was this covenant that he referred to in his prayer when he referred to God “ who keeps His covenant”. This covenant is recorded in Jeremiah’s book chapter 31:31-34. A further instruction in Jeremiah’s letter was what galvanised Daniel into action to pray the way he did – Jeremiah 29:10-14 ->
“For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you…”
Since their seventy year exile was almost complete; Daniel prayed as instructed; God’s messenger Gabriel indicated that Daniel’s prayer was immediately noted in the heavenly sphere, and God replied giving not only the timetable for the restoration of Jerusalem, but also a timetable and further details regarding the promised New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34. This covenant would eventually take away their sins and cause the law to dwell in their hearts. This describes the New Covenant in the blood in Jesus Christ, Cf. Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20 and 1 Cor.11:25. Scriptural covenants always required the shedding of blood, and the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ leaves no room for any further sacrifices to be recognised by God. Whether Israel as a nation accepted it or not, God’s New Covenant stands complete: hundreds of thousands of individual Jews have come into Kingdom blessings because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no access to the Father through any other sacrifice than that of Jesus Christ. Any future building of a temple and practice of animal sacrifices are therefore of no value and a futile effort to assuage their sins. Therefore, in his prophecy after Messiah has been “cut off” Daniel 9:26-27 indicates that the city and sanctuary would again be destroyed; the sacrifice and offering would be brought to an end, and abominations will be directed against the site until the consummation.
This New Covenant was instigated through the Word of God through Jeremiah; its details were given by Gabriel and written down in Daniel 9:24. God’s six covenant promises were completely fulfilled by Jesus Christ during the 70 weeks’ time frame as is attested in the book of Hebrews.
I am attaching a chapter from my book, relevant to the confirmation of this 6-fold covenant in Hebrews -
Daniel 9 verse 24 – “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and your holy city,
to finish the transgression,
to make an end of sins,
to make reconciliation for iniquity
to bring in everlasting righteousness
to seal up the vision and prophecy,
and to anoint the Most Holy.”
Messiah’s 6-fold Mission –
To understand how the New Testament writers saw the fulfilment of this verse by Jesus Christ during his ministry, we will mainly consult the book of Hebrews with some reference to other New Testament books. Since some of the scriptures apply to one or two of the 6-fold requirements for Salvation, some of the verses have been repeated. Bolding and words in (brackets) are added.
1) To finish the transgression –
The people of Judah’s great need, according to the prayer offered by Daniel, was for their sanctuary in Jerusalem to be restored so that the sacrificial offerings for sin could again be instituted, thus providing a covering for their sins. However, all the High Priest could do under the old Covenant was to repeat the sacrifices, even while knowing that the animal sacrifices would not permanently remove their sin. The provisions outlined in verse 24 above, far exceed anything that the old covenant could achieve and New Testament writers quickly grasped the ramifications of the six-fold steps for their salvation, as revealed to Daniel.
The argument used in Hebrews (below) is that only Christ could - offered as the one spotless sacrifice for sin by his death - activate the new covenant and make it operational. As both mediator and sacrifice Christ could annul the Jews’ sinful transgressions (which were exposed by the previous Mosaic Covenant), thereby providing everlasting effectiveness over their sin by sanctifying them in Himself before their God. In effect, Jesus would pay the price necessary to redeem them (i.e., buy them back) from the penalty of sin (death) demanded under the old covenant of the law. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20)
“For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament (Covenant) there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”
Furthermore, although God “willed” the forgiveness of sin previously in the New Covenant described in Jeremiah 31:34b “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,” the new covenant could not become operational until it was ratified by Jesus’ death. Jesus’ sacrificial death, (according to the timetable in Daniel 9:26, i.e., after the 7 + 62 weeks of years), brought to an end the transgression under the old Covenant, and it was His own blood that was now sprinkled to purify the lives of believers in God’s sight.
2. To make an end of sins -
Since the Holy Place in the earthly Temple was a man-made shrine and only a copy of the true Temple in the heavenly realm, the High Priest’s sacrificial rituals were not sufficient to end sin. The mission fulfilled by Jesus Christ was to take the burden of sin upon Himself and cancel it out. Only the heavenly Man could do this and having completed the requirements for salvation, He was able to enter into the immediate presence of God; thus opening the way on our behalf.
“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another – He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
“…so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many…”
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity –
The fact that Christ came in sinless human form in the incarnation meant that He could act as the Great High Priest on behalf of mankind in the task of reconciliation. This was an act that shows God’s great love and mercy towards humanity. We no longer have to suffer the consequences for our sin and our guilt. From God’s perspective, it has been removed and Jesus has reconciled us back to God.
“Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation (KJV reads reconciliation) for the sins of the people.”
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness –
The work of Christ was completed with the release of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the repentant believers beginning on the Day of Pentecost. Christ is absolutely righteous and since He dwells within us by His Spirit, we too become righteous before God when we live by the Spirit.
“Flesh was the realm of sin; but in the case of believers God put that sphere of influence out of court, the death of the Son annulling the power of sin over saints completely and permanently. Man in Christ is free for ever from the law of sin and death. The just requirement of the law, a righteous life, is now accomplished not through the law (for it has failed) but through grace.” New Bible Commentary. [i]
2 Cor. 5:21
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Gal. 5:16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
5. To seal up the vision and prophecy –
Luke 24:27, 44
“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
“Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
Both of these statements by Jesus were made following his resurrection; the first being made to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the second to the disciples gathered in the upper room prior to his ascension. By referring to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms Jesus made it clear that all three parts of God’s word were included in the scope of His ministry on Earth.
God had earlier declared through Moses that there would be another true prophet, one like himself, a brother and a mediator, a true messenger and one who would reveal God’s word.
“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name I will require it of him.”
Verse 19 warns the people of Israel that those who ignore the words of this prophet will be called to account by God Himself. Although a long line of prophets from Samuel to Malachi possessed the characteristic of speaking for God; only in Christ was the prediction truly fulfilled. This prophetic statement and dire warning were repeated by Stephen in Acts 7:37, and by Peter in Acts 3:22-23
“For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
The final word of prophecy fulfilled by Jesus is found in the book of Revelation, where we read
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
Jesus, having delivered the final visions and prophecy from God to John via the angel messenger, John concludes his prophetic record by instructing and warning the reader in Rev. 22:18-19 that nothing was to be added to, or taken away from the prophecy, meaning it was perfect, whole and complete. This does not mean that its fulfilment is complete.
6. To anoint the most holy –
The final item in Daniel’s 6-fold requirements for Salvation is summed up by the writer to the Hebrews alluding to Jesus’ capability in officiating in the heavenly Holy of Holies on our behalf; in like manner as the Old Testament rituals were performed in the Jerusalem Temple by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another –“
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
This “new and living way” offers free access to God’s very presence through the veil of Christ’s flesh and the sprinkling of His blood. It was at the point of His death that the veil of the Jerusalem Temple was rent from the top to the bottom, thus indicating that the way was now open for all who believed in Him to approach God directly. Jesus actually likened himself to the Temple and the scriptures tell us that He ascended into the Holy of Holies in the “heavenly realm” immediately after his sacrificial death and resurrection to officiate there as both High Priest and Sacrifice.
As Jesus said in John 17:4
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”
On the cross He said – “It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
To complete this earthly ministry, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit (as promised) found a new “dwelling place” in the “body of Christ” i.e. the Church; composed of members from spiritual Israel, firstly Jewish members and then Gentile also. There are many other New Testament verses that one could bring to bear on the 6-fold purpose of the Messiah’s Salvation, but the ones mentioned will be sufficient. A thorough reading of Hebrews 7 – 10 will shed more light on the confirmation by Jesus of the six-fold salvation requirements of Daniel 9:24.
Jesus’ death fulfilled all of the requirements for salvation as can be seen from the scriptures listed above. God fulfilled His part of the promised six-part Covenant; all that anyone, Jew or Gentile has to do is receive it. It has been given totally by God’s grace.
The early Christians were all Jews. Many of them laid down their lives in response to their commitment to this 6-fold Covenant that we call “The Gospel”. This Gospel was preached exclusively to the Jews up until Stephen’s defence and death before the Jewish Council and leaders when they rejected the Gospel. It was after his death which concluded the 70th week that persecution broke out in Jerusalem. Gentile inclusion in the Gospel message did not begin until after that event, starting in the house of Cornelius. God kept to his promised period of 490 years, which included the 70th week Covenant, beginning with Jesus’ ministry in 27 A.D., his sacrificial death in 30 A.D. until Stephen’s death in 34 A.D. during which time the Kingdom of God/Gospel was preached only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Excerpt from my book -
Artaxerxes’ first decree, (458 B.C.) to restore Jerusalem is found in Ezra 7:13, 21 (and enlarged upon in Ezra 7:1-9). Until this decree was made, the people of Judaea had no governmental authority of their own. We learn that this particular group of exiles began to go up to Jerusalem from Babylon on the 1st of the first month (Nisan) 458/7 B.C., and arrived there on the 1st of the fifth month (Av). This was 139 years after the first captives (including Daniel) were deported to Babylon, 128 years after the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., 80 years after the first exiles returned to Judaea, and 58 years after the second Temple was completed in 516 B.C.
Ezra appears to have concentrated on setting up an autonomous judicial system of government, (Ezra 7:25), and was given sufficient funds by King Artaxerxes to accomplish all that needed to be done. The fact that Ezra had to appoint magistrates and judges, shows that the returning exiles were from a new generation, “children of the exile” whose lives had been lived solely in Babylonia and who had no first-hand knowledge of their parents’ or grandparents’ homeland. Even 58 years earlier, when the Temple was rebuilt, there were only a few “ancient men” among those who returned that were old enough to remember the Temple of Solomon.[ii] For the City, the people, and the Nation, their restoration under Ezra meant a whole new beginning. It was at this point (458 B.C.) that the Jewish Government was reinstituted in Jerusalem, and the City was restored as Capital of Judaea.[iii]
As we have seen, the 490 year period was to commence with “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem...”. The decree made on the 1st day of the 1st month in the 7th year of Artaxerxes (458 B.C.) is the one most closely associated with the time frame of Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks, and best fits the command to restore and build Jerusalem.
Taking 5 or 4 B.C.[iv] as the likely date of birth of Jesus Christ, and 27 A.D. as the likely date of his Baptism and commencement of ministry as the Messiah at 30 years of age; means that approximately 483/4 years had passed since Ezra was given Artaxerxes’ decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Therefore the complete time frame of the 490 year prophecy runs from 458/457 B.C. until 34 A.D., with the “Covenant” 70th week matching 27 – 34 A.D., which fits the historical record of Jesus’ ministry and the time which elapsed until Stephen’s death.
The New Testament book of Hebrews was written for the Jews, linking the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 with the 6-fold requirements for Salvation listed in Daniel 9:24 that were fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ. Hebrews quotes the Jeremiah covenant twice – Cf. Heb. 8:8 and 10:16 – which is precisely what Daniel was reading about and referred to in his prayer. The fact that the Jewish nation as a whole is still in blindness as a result of their denial of the new covenant of grace that God made for them, does not annul the reality of its existence, nor the efficacy of the Covenant. However, the God of Daniel is a covenant keeping God and all the promises made to the Jewish nation are still available and will eventually be fulfilled when the nation repents of that denial and finds salvation in Jesus Christ during the tribulation prior to the Millennial Kingdom.
Speaking to the Jews in his day, Jesus said in Matt. 23:36-24:1a
“Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house (i.e., the Temple) is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple…”
“It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…”
As you can see, I do not subscribe to replacement theology, nor do I subscribe to the “gap theory” in Daniel’s prophecy of 70 Weeks.
God bless you as you study His Word. EAR
[i] New Bible Commentary – London Inter-varsity Fellowship. 1961 Edition. Editor Prof. F. Davidson, Assisted by Rev. A.M. Stibbs and Rev. E.F. Kevan. The book of Romans. Joint authors - Francis Davidson, M.A., D.D., Bible Training Institute, Glasgow; and G.T. Thomson, M.A., D.D., University of Edinburgh p. 952
[ii] Ezra 3:11-12 “But many…who were ancient men that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice…”
[iii] Even today, Jerusalem is not seen to be the Capital of Israel by other Nations of the World. Foreign Embassies are located in Tel Aviv instead.
[iv] “The Star that Astonished the World” – Dr. Ernest L. Martin puts Jesus birthdate based on astronomical events at 4 or 3 B.C.