Daniel's Seventy Weeks, a Summary
By Al Stoner
This a very marvelous portion of Scripture teaching us many things about God, about Christ, about the nature of the gospel, and about the people of God. The notes that we used for our discussion are as follows:
Daniel 9:24 "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.
1. These are the words of the man (the angel) Gabriel, having been sent from God in response to Daniel's prayer and supplication, recorded at the beginning of this chapter.
2. These words are in response to prayers that were prayed according to the will of God (cf. Ezek. 36:37; Rom. 8:27; Jas. 4:3). Daniel understood by books (Jeremiah's prophecy) that the time of the captivity had come to its determined end, and so he gave himself to prayer regarding the matter. God promised and Daniel prayed and watched in prayer for the fulfillment of the promise.
3. The communication of these words to Daniel was an instantaneous response from the throne of God. "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth", Gabriel said. It was not after Daniel begged and pleaded with God, but at the beginning of his supplication, that the commandment went forth. Let those whose hearts are perfect towards God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be encouraged that God often responds in this manner.
4. The words tell us something about God Himself (what He is like in His character and Person, what He is presently engaged in, how He responds to godly men and to their prayers, how His eternal purpose reaches into the affairs of men.) The affairs of men, from one perspective, are but a stage for the enactment and outworking of God's purpose in Christ. We often see masses of men going about their daily business. Who knows but that God is at work somewhere there in the midst?
5. The words teach us that God has a special regard for a particular people and for a particular place. In former times it was the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the place was the Jerusalem, which now is (in the realm of the seen). Now the people are those who are in Christ, and the place is the Jerusalem which is above, or the heavenly places.
6. Israel was approaching the end of the seventy year captivity, which Daniel was very much aware of, but now God is speaking about "seventy weeks". The captivity seemed like such a long time, but the "seventy weeks", though it is actually seven times longer (7 X 70 = 490 years), seems like a relatively short time. And from the perspective of eternity, it is. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Pet. 3:8). "For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night" (Ps. 90:4).
7. Seventy weeks are determined. Determined is a word which speaks of God acting in accordance with His own Person and purpose. Determining is characteristic of the way that God acts. He is ever at work (cf. Jn. 5:17), further implementing His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. He is not looking for things to do, as is the case oftentimes with men, but He is looking for perfect hearts, in order that He might show Himself strong in their behalf (cf. II Chr. 16:9; Ps. 34:15; I Pet. 3:12). Wherever hearts are imperfect towards Him, men are in danger of being used for an evil purpose and being held accountable for it. Consider the following examples: The death of the Lord Jesus Christ came by "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Though evil men conspired to slay Him with wicked hands, yet from the higher perspective, it was "to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 2:28). (See also Dan. 9:26-27 where desolations were determined of God.
8. In Daniel's prayer and confession of Israel's sin, he confessed to the Lord that, "all Israel have transgressed Thy law" (v. 11). He confessed to God, "we have sinned against" God (vv. 8, 11). He was "confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel" (v. 4). He also confessed "the iniquities of our fathers" (v. 16, also v. 13; v. 5, iniquity). Trespassed and the acknowledgement of wickedness were words also words that Daniel employed in his prayer.
9. Transgression speaks of an express violation of God's commandments. Sin speaks of missing the mark, of coming short of the glory of God. Iniquity speaks of injustice, wickedness, and that which is not right in the sight of God.
10. He was confessing the sins of "the men of Judah", and "the inhabitants of Jerusalem", and "all Israel" (v. 7). He was confessing the sins of "our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land" (v. 6).
11. There were times in the past, such as in the case of Moses, when the sins of the people were confessed (Exod. 32:31-35), when severe judgment still followed.
12. In former times God had responded to sins by judging it and punishing it (and He still does). In Israel, and in the nations round about, it is as if a pattern had been established: men were sinning, and God was punishing. Men were transgressing, and God was judging. Men were committing iniquity, and God was reserving unto judgment. The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full (Gen. 15). Speaking of wicked men and false teachers, "whose judgment lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not". If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
13. God has not changed, He does not change, and He cannot change. "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal. 3:6), "therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." He has not changed, but He is working "a new thing in the earth" (Jer. 31:22), something that He had purposed from the foundation of the world.
14. The Lord Jesus Christ is "a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev, 13:8). This very fact demanded that there be a new development in the outworking of God's eternal purpose. And there was, praise God, when the fulness of the time was come.
15. Now, instead of punishing the transgression, God speaks of "finishing" it, putting an end to it. Now, instead of judging sins, He speaks of making an end of them. Now instead of iniquities running their course of separating men from God (Isa. 59:1-2), God speaks of making reconciliation for them. This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!
16. Now God speaks of bringing in everlasting righteousness, that commodity which men were so desperately bereft of in their own persons. Abraham, Moses, and David were all very much aware of this prominent part of God's character: His righteousness. But in many respects they considered this as observers, and not partakers. But now instead of the Lord affirming that He is righteous, or apprising men of their unrighteousness, the Lord God was, and is bringing in everlasting righteousness. He was bringing it in. He throughout all eternity was known as the righteous Lord, and the righteous God, but now He was bringing it in to be imparted to believing men and women.
17. Anointing the most holy One and the most holy place. The anointing of the Most Holy One refers to the anointing of the Lord Jesus as High Priest over the house of God, and of good things to come. Also regarding the most holy place, "the heavenly things themselves" had to be readied for redeemed personalities to dwell there (cf. Heb. 9:23-24).
18. The Lord Jesus Christ was, and is, the embodiment of this marvelous revelation given to Daniel. As He walked about, in the days of His flesh, the finishing of the transgression, the making an end of sins, the making reconciliation for iniquity, the bringing in of everlasting righteousness was all embodied in who He was and what He did. And as Sister Karen Sankowski (from our local assembly) aptly observed, the Lord Jesus presently is, and ever continues to be, the embodiment of these things.
19. The world to come will have as its foundational elements these essential things which were accomplished in and by the Lord Jesus Christ.
20. Even now, we have the first fruits of the Spirit and are given to taste of these things in measure.