Each of the gospel writers in the New Testament spends time discussing the entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem. It was a momentous moment. It was a time of great fulfillment, for many of the truths that the prophets had said about Messiah focused their fulfillment on that very day. John writes, in chapter 12, “On the next day, many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried ‘Hosanna: blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.’”
It was a day of celebration. It was a day of joy. It was a day of which the prophets had spoken, and for which the people had long waited: the arrival of the promised king. And we remember that day as we begin this very special week; but I wonder whether we really understand its significance. And so, to help us, let’s look back at the ninth chapter of Daniel. Turn in your Bible to Daniel chapter 9, and we’re going to look this morning at verses 20 to 27; a passage which I believe is the most amazing, complex, detailed, far-reaching prophecy ever given in the Scripture. A prophecy so miraculous that Sir Isaac Newton said, “We could stake the truth of Christianity on this one prophecy alone;” and I think he was right.
The Old Testament had much to say about the Messiah. Just the titles and the names given to Him in the Old Testament tell us a great deal. He is the Anointed of Psalm 2:2. He is the Branch of Zechariah 3:8. He is the Captain of Joshua 5:4, the Child of Isaiah 9:6. He is the Desire of Nations of Haggai 2:7. He is the Father of Eternity of Isaiah 9:6, again. He is the Foundation of Isaiah 28:16, the Fountain of Zechariah 13:1. Isaiah calls him, in chapter 60, verse 1, the Glory of God. Psalm 48:14 calls Him the Guide. He is the Holy One of Israel, spoken of in Isaiah 41:14. He is the Horn of Salvation of Psalm 18. He is Jehovah of Isaiah 26:4. He is the Judge of Micah 5:1.
He is the Law-Giver of Isaiah 33:22. He is the Messiah of Daniel 9. He is the Mighty God of Isaiah 9:6. He is the Purifier of Malachi 3:3. He is the Redeemer of Isaiah 60:16. He is the Refiner of Malachi 3:3, the Refuge of Isaiah 25:4. He is the Righteousness of Jeremiah 23:6, the Rock of Deuteronomy 32:15, the Rod of Isaiah 11:1. He is the Seed of the Woman of Genesis 3:15, the Servant of Isaiah 42. He is the Shepherd. He is Shiloh. He is the Son of Righteousness of Malachi 4:2. He is the Wonderful, the Counselor of Isaiah 9:6. Beyond all these titles and names, the prophets refer to Him as the Prince and the King. And I believe we see Him in sharp focus as the Prince and the King in this passage, where Daniel calls Him, in verse 25, the Messiah, the Prince.
The term beautiful, used of Saul when he was anointed king, used here of the one who would come as the son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, the Old Testament prophets, in seeing Him in many ways and through many titles, focus particularly on Him as King and Prince, for the word Messiah means anointed one. And Daniel, in this particular prophecy given him by the Spirit of God through the agency of the angel Gabriel, focuses on the kingliness, the princeliness of Jesus Christ. And I want us to look at this prophecy because it is a marked - it has, I should say, a marked relationship to what we know as Palm Sunday, or the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ. Now, let me give you a little bit of the background.
Judah had fallen into sin, and pursued it with a vengeance. The southern kingdom of the divided kingdom of Israel had followed in the same track as the northern kingdom had, and was headed for the same inevitable result: captivity and bondage. And the judgment of God had fallen, and by the time you come to Daniel’s life, the people of God have long been in Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar came, and conquered the land, and captured the city, and carried away the people as spoil. It was in that circumstance that Daniel rose to prominence. He was carried away in the first of three deportations, starting in 605 BC and ending in 586, and Daniel went in the 605 group.
He was one of the young leaders. He was one of the young nobles, one of the men with potential that they wanted to get over there and train in Babylonian culture. And you remember that they had a difficult time with him because he refused to abandon his commitment to God. But because of the stature of his character and the virtue of his soul, he had risen to become the prime minister of the country, even though he was a Jew, and a captive in the land. But by chapter 9, it is now 537 BC. They’ve been there a long time. Daniel is an old man. The Babylonian captivity has been deposed - I should say the Babylonian kingdom has been deposed, and in its place, the Medo-Persians reign.
So, Daniel has outlived the Babylonian Empire. He is now in the first year of the Medo-Persian Empire. It is being ruled by a man named Cyrus, who’s also known as Darius. And Daniel still is in a place of stature; he’s still in a place of high rank, in the midst of the Gentile culture. And as you approach the beginning of chapter 9, it tells us that it was, “In that first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans.” In the first year of his reign, Daniel was reading, and he was reading one of these scrolls, and it happened to be that he was reading Jeremiah. And as he was reading Jeremiah, he was reminded that the captivity of his people was to be a 70-year captivity, as it says there in verse 2; that Jerusalem was to be desolate for 70 years.
And depending on where God started counting, if, in fact, he started at the first deportation in 605, then Daniel knew it must be well-nigh the completion of the 70 years; and so beginning in verse 3, he launches into a prayer. And he prays that God would bring an end to the chastening, and that God would do as He promised in Jeremiah’s prophecy, make it 70 years and no more, and end it, and send them back. And his heart is filled with hope and anticipation for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, for the future of his people, and the future of the temple of God. For the people are still dispossessed; heathen people are still in their land, their holy city is a heap of rubble, and their temple is in utter ruins.
And so, in the first half of the chapter, he pours out his heart to God, and in the second half, he gets an answer that is astounding, to put it mildly. We’re going to look at the answer, beginning in verse 20, and let’s look at our text. And we’ll just sort out three key points to help us follow the flow. First, the circumstances of Daniel; the circumstances of Daniel. “And while 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; yea, while I was speaking in prayer” - and we’ll stop there. That’s the circumstance: prayer.
Not an unusual one for Daniel. You’ll remember that he was told by decree not to pray to anyone other than those prescribed for prayer in the Babylonian religion, and he would not bow to that. He threw open his window, as he always did, and prayed the way he always prayed, to the God he loved; and, as a result, was thrown in the lions’ den. You remember that. And so we’re not surprised to find him praying. And it is a masterful prayer. I think it is the greatest insight into the intercession of a saint of any prayer in the entire Old Testament. And it is summed up for us, in verse 20, with the use of four Hebrew verbs, each of which is used throughout the prayer in verses 3 to 19, and they’re all brought together in a summary fashion in verse 20. “While I was speaking” - that talks about the communion that prayer is. It’s talking, it’s communing, it’s sharing the heart, it’s fellowshipping with God.
“And confessing my sin” - and there’s the confessing aspect of prayer - “and the sin of my people Israel, presenting my supplication” - has to do with carrying to God the burden of the heart; and they’re all brought together in the verb praying. And so, we catch him in prayer, because he knows the time must be close to being over. He can sense that God is going to do something wonderful - because God always keeps His word - and take His people back, and that’s the burden of His heart. And he has no selfish desire. At the end of verse 20, it tells us that he was praying “for the holy hill of my God.” The holy hill probably has to do with the mount on which the temple sat; the mount on which the city sat; the place which was the beloved city of God, the glorious city of Jerusalem.
It was because it was God’s city, and because it was God’s people, and because it was God’s kingdom, and because it was God’s purpose, and God’s will, and God’s reputation that was at stake, that he prayed. In the end of verse 17, it was very clearly said that it was “for the Lord’s sake.” And then, in verse 19, “For Thine own sake, oh my God: for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.” The man’s prayer is basically set toward glorifying the holy name of God, and so it is a model of prayer. And so, we find him on his knees in prayer; and from the circumstances of Daniel, we move to the coming of Gabriel, the second main character in this portion of Scripture. It says, in verse 21, that, “While I was speaking in prayer” - and he had not yet finished his 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.”
That’s 3:00 in the afternoon, a time when the evening sacrifice was offered to God. A time when, back in the land of Israel when the temple was functioning, a lamb would have been slain for the sins of the people, and offered up as a sacrifice for sin to God. A fitting time to be confessing sin, and that’s the major portion of his prayer - his and the sins of his people. And so it’s a poignant time in the heart of a committed Jew, as he’s on his knees at the time he knows had been set aside in all the tradition of his youth for the remembrance of the need for sacrifice for sin. And he’s pouring out his sin and asking God’s forgiveness on his own behalf and the behalf of his people.
And it is at that very moment that Gabriel touches him. And Gabriel had to touch him, because he was so deep in prayer he needed to be roused. Now, you notice it calls him the man Gabriel. That is not to tell us that he is not an angel. He is, in fact, the angel Gabriel, but he came in the form of a man. He had appeared once to Daniel at the River Uli. And it links him up with that appearance where he is described in the form of a man. And that’s why it says it was the same Gabriel, as a man whom I had seen in a vision at the beginning. The word Gabriel ends with the name of God. In fact, El, E-L, has to do not only with God, but with God who is a strong God; and the first part of the name, some think has to do with servant, some think emphasizes strength.
And so if we want to combine them all, we’d probably get a good idea of who he was. He is the servant who is the strong angel of the strong God. And Gabriel is especially set apart as a messenger angel, for he is the one who announced to Zecharias the birth of the forerunner, John the Baptist. He is the one who announced to Mary the first of the Messiah Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. And here he comes to Daniel with an incredible message; and he touches him. Verse 22. “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, ‘O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.’” He says, “Daniel, I am come for one thing. To help you understand. To help you be able to think through with comprehension, what God has to say.” Verse 23. “At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth.”
I believe Gabriel is one of those hovering angels, like we see the seraphim hovering around the throne in Isaiah 6. And they’re hovering there, waiting till the commandment comes out of the throne, and as soon as the commandment comes, they’re dispatched. And “The commandment came,” he says, “When you began to pray.” There was no hesitation in heaven. “When you prayed, God commanded.” And he was caused to come swiftly. “And I am come to show you; for thou art greatly beloved” - oh, what a wonderful thing for that angel to tell to Daniel. I suppose that every one of us, as Christians, wish that we could have that kind of confirmation of how heaven feels about us. If ever you’ve struggled in your heart with doubts about whether God cares, it would be confirming to have Gabriel show up someday, just to announce how beloved we are in heaven. So, you can imagine the thrill of such to Daniel.
By the way, the Hebrew greatly beloved means man of desire, or one desired, or one precious. God moves fast for his beloved. No sooner did he begin to pray than heaven went into action and the angel flew with the answer. And so, at the end of verse 23, he says, “Therefore, since heaven is moved so fast on your behalf, understand the matter, and consider the vision.” Know what that means? “Pay attention. I’ve come a long way, and heaven has sent me as fast as possible, because you are a man of desire. You’re precious to God, and the commandment came out of the throne. Now listen to me, Daniel, and pay attention, and get the message.” Boy, it must be something important. And I stand here on behalf of Gabriel telling you the same thing: pay attention. This is a complex, and marvelous, and thrilling prophecy.
And so, the first character we meet is Daniel; we see the circumstances of Daniel. Then we meet another character. The character we secondly meet is Gabriel, and we hear from Gabriel as he comes. And now we meet the third main character, and we don’t even hear His name, but it’s Him all right: the communication of God, the communication of God. And from verses 24 to 27, God speaks profoundly; profoundly. Now, verse 24 is the key to everything, and I want you to follow as we look at the terms here. “Seventy weeks,” or better, 70 sevens, “are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” - stop there. You see, Daniel is saying, “Oh, God, when are You going to be done with my people? When are You going to bring them to rest, spiritually and physically? When are they going to get their land and their kingdom back?
“When are they going to be the people of God again? When is the worship going to be what it ought to be? When is the temple going to be what it ought to be, and the holy place, and the holy of holies? When, oh God? Is it near? It must be near. Oh God, forgive us our sins,” he’s been saying, “and cleanse us from our filthiness, and bring about Your glorious kingdom.” And so, he says, “Seventy sevens are determined upon thy people, Daniel, and thy holy city.” Now, the word determined is critical. It is a word that assumes a comprehensive plan, a plan of God. The word literally means to cut out, to cut out. And it’s as if you have the flow of history, and God just cuts out a section and removes it. God says through Gabriel, “I’m just going to cut out a section of history, and describe it for you. It’s determined as the section in which I will deal with the holy people, Israel, and the holy city, Jerusalem. Here is their history, cut out from the rest of the flow of eternity.”
Now, he says six things are going to be accomplished in this period; six things. First three are negative, and the second three are positive. Number one: in this special period cut out of time and eternity, in which God is going to deal with His people to accomplish His goals, the first thing He’s going to do in that period is “to finish the transgression” - literally to restrain firmly the transgression. In other words, going to bring sin under divine control. He’s going to bring sin under divine control. And I see sin in general there. Sin now runs rampant; it is free, as it almost seems to run beyond any kind of boundaries. But it’s going to be restrained, it’s going to be brought under divine control; and it’s going to be during this period God cuts out.
Secondly, to make an end of sins. And here you deal with sin in the specific, where the first one had to do with sin in general. He not only will restrain sin in general, bring it under divine control, but He will make an end of sins in specific. And that verb is used elsewhere in the Old Testament with a reference to judgment. He’s going to judge individual sins for their individual sins, as well as bring sin in general under divine control. And then thirdly, he is going to make reconciliation, or literally, kapar, he is going to cover iniquity. Now, all three of those, then, have to do with evil: transgression, sin, and iniquity. God is going to end that. God is going to bring that to its ending. He’s going to get rid of sin.
During this period of time, cut out and drawn out of history, God’s going to bring an end to sin, transgression and evil. And those are the very things that brought Israel into captivity in the first place. There’s a second three purposes in this period cut out of history. First, to bring in everlasting righteousness; that’s positive. Having done away with sin, He’s going to bring in literally the righteousness of the ages and ages; final righteousness, eternal righteousness. Secondly, “seal up the vision and prophecy” - and what that has to do with is the end of revelation; no more revelation. No more revelation, for the simple reason that we shall enter into an eternal righteousness, and we will know as we are known. We will have no more need for revelation. There won’t be any more visions, there won’t be any more prophecy.
And finally, “to anoint the most Holy.” Literally, the text says to anoint a holy of holies, and it probably has to do with the eternal state. The eternal holiness of the eternal new heaven and new earth, with its eternal Jerusalem, in which is an eternal temple, in which is an eternal holy of holies, in which is an eternal throne, on which sits an eternal God. All of which are eternally holy. It’s an incredible statement in one verse. He’s going to end sin and bring in eternal holiness, all in this little period cut out of history. And may I suggest to you that the first three of those, dealing with sin, were really done at the cross of Jesus Christ? That’s where sin was conquered. The fullness of that conquering, however, awaits the Second Coming, when the second three will be fulfilled.
Now, let’s look at the period involved. It says at the beginning of the verse, “70 sevens;” 70 sevens. It’s not the word for days or months or years. We can’t know what it means unless we look at the context. And I think the context clearly indicates to us that these are 70 sevens of years, or weeks of years; 7-year periods, not 7-day periods, for several reasons. Chapter 9, verse 2, Daniel is talking in terms of years. He even mentions 70 years there. And the Jews commonly also had weeks of years. Every seventh year was a Sabbath year, just like every seventh day was a Sabbath day, and so, they were used to weeks of years. And every seven sevens came to the 50th year, which was a Sabbath year, the Year of Jubilee. And by the way, the only other time Daniel uses the word sevens there, shabua, is in chapter 10, and there, he wants it to refer to days, so he uses the Hebrew word for days, to make sure we don’t miss.
But here he doesn’t use the word for day, and it seems clear that he has in mind years. And there’s one other reason why. In 2 Chronicles 36:21 - we don’t need to turn to it - the Jews, it says there, had been removed from the land, that the land might rest and might be restored for the Sabbath days - or the Sabbath years that it was violated. In other words, the Jews had not kept the Sabbath year to let the ground replenish itself. They had not fulfilled the Jubilee; they had violated the Sabbath years. In their greed, and their desire to make money, and to keep the land producing, and to live the life they way they wanted to, they ignored God, and they failed to keep the seventh year as a Sabbath year. And 2 Chronicles 36:21 indicates that God was going to make them pay, by getting them out of that land until every one of those Sabbath years could be restored.
And if they were out of that land for 70 years, then there were 70 Sabbath years that need to be restored. And if there are 70 Sabbath years that need to be restored, then they were 70 Sabbath years in a total number of years that must have equaled 490 years. So, for the period of 490 years, the Sabbath year had been desecrated in the mind of God, and they had to pay for every one of those Sabbath year desecrations by suffering 70 years in captivity. And because that was the basis of their captivity, the Lord says, “Now 70 more of those 7-year periods are determined upon you. I’m not done with you yet. There’s going to be 70 more” - and that means a period of 490 years. Now listen, this is a tremendous statement. God says, “Look, it’s going to be 490 years cut out of history, in which I will end sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness and holiness.”
Now, you say, “Boy, if we could figure out when that begins, we could figure out when it ends.” We don’t have to figure too hard; it’s in the next verse. Verse 25. “Know therefore and understand” - again, he reminds him, “Pay attention” - “that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” - that’s when it starts – “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Now, in the book of Ezra, you have three decrees for the rebuilding of the temple; three of them. There’s one in chapter 1, first 2 verses; there’s one in chapter 6, the first 5 verses; and one in chapter 7. None of those is the right one, because those were decrees to build the temple, not the city. But it says here, “From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem.”
Now, let me show you that decree - Nehemiah, chapter 2 and – listen - verse 1. “It came to pass” - it even tells us the date - “in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, wine was before him and I took up the wine.” You remember he was the wine-taster for the king, was Nehemiah. “And I gave it to the king. And I had been sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, ‘Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart.’ Then I was very much afraid, and said unto the king, ‘Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, lies waste, and its gates are consumed with fire?’
Then the king said unto me, ‘For what dost thou make request?’
So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, ‘If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it.’ And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) ‘For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?’ So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover I said to the king, ‘If it please the king, let letters be given to me to the governors beyond the river, that they may let me pass through till I come into Judah; and a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which is near to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into.’ And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”
There it was: Artaxerxes made the decree. Scholars tell us the month of Nisan - March; the day, no doubt the 14th; the year, 445 BC. That began the 490 years: 445 BC, March 14th. When does it end? When does the 490 years’ end? Look at verse 25 again. “From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto” - there’s the end - “the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three-score and two weeks.” Now, that’s only 69; there’s one week left out. That doesn’t come in till verse 27; we’ll get there in a minute. The first 69 weeks are indicated there. And notice they’re divided into two parts: seven weeks, and then 62. Why? “From the command to restore and rebuild unto the Messiah the Prince, seven weeks.”
And you say, “Well, what happened in those seven weeks?” Well, that’d take us to 396 BC, and it was during that first 49-year period that the city was rebuilt. It says there at the end of the verse. “The streets shall be built and the wall, even in troublous times.” You know how troublesome it was, don’t you?
Remember the story of Nehemiah trying to build the wall, and all the attacks, and all the enemies? But they did it, and by 396 it was done. And 396 marked the end of the ministry of Malachi, and the closing of the Old Testament Canon, so that first 49 years, 7 times 7, was very important for laying physical, spiritual foundations. The city was built and the Old Testament Canon was established.
And then comes the 62; the total of the 62 weeks and the 7 weeks, the 69 weeks, makes 483 years. And we’re still missing 7 years out of the 490. Now, let me give you another thought. These are years of 360 days. The ancient Biblical writers calculated the year on a 360-day calendar, rather than 365 like the pagans. And so, we have, then, in verse 25, 483 years of 360 days “unto Messiah the Prince.” Not Messiah the baby, not Messiah the child, not Messiah the preacher, not Messiah the One who dies, not Messiah Who rises, but Messiah Who is the Prince. The Anointed One, the Royal One, the Regal One, the Majestic One, the One who is the heir to the throne, mashiach nagid, the Anointed Prince.
So, it’ll be 483 years of 360 days. Now, the only way we can figure it out is we have to convert into our kind of years, with our kind of days, so we’ll just multiply to get how many days it would be. You multiply it out, and its 173,880 days. You say, “The Bible can’t be this specific.” Well, you’ll find out in a moment - 173,880 days. The decree comes on March 14th, 445 BC. Sir Robert Anderson, who particularly did monumental work on this prophecy of the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ, has identified, by looking at the Jewish calendars of Passovers and so forth, that the time in which Passover was held can be determined rather easily, at least through using his method.
And he finds, backing up from that, the triumphal entry of Jesus must have occurred on April 6, 32 A.D.; April 6, 32 A.D.; the month of Nisan. And so, all we need to do is calculate a little bit. If Daniel is correct, from March 14, 445 B.C., to April 6, 32 A.D., is going to be 173,880 days. Well, let’s think about it. From March 14, 445, to April 6, 32 A.D., is only 477 years and 24 days; so we’re a few years short. We have to deduct a year, because 1 B.C. and 1 A.D. is the same year, so we really have 476 years and 24 days. Now, we have to convert to our calendar of 365 days, so we multiply that all out, plus 24 days, and we get 173,764; and we’re still short. But we have leap year every four years. So, 476 divided by 4, gives us 119 leap years, so we add 119 more days to 173,664, and we get 173,883 days - 3 days too many.
You say, “Oh, close is good enough for me.” Close is not good enough for God. Sir Robert Anderson went to the Royal Observatory in England, and he found out that, according to their solar calculations, a year is 1/128 of a day longer on the calendar than a solar year; 1/128 of a day longer. So every 128 years, we have to lose a day. And if you’re dealing with 483 years, there’ll be 3 of those, so you drop those out. And you have 173,880 days, just exactly as the Word of God said. Now, it has been interesting. In recent years, Dr. Harold Hoehner has written a book called The Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. And when I heard that somebody else had done work on this, I was a little bit nervous to find out whether or not he would come up with the same answer.
So, Hoehner did his work - and I tell you this because it’s the truth, and you must know it so that you can understand the issue - he decided the that the first year of Artaxerxes had to be an accession year, so you couldn’t count it, so the decree had to happen March 5 of 444 B.C. so he moved it a year back - a year up, rather, going this way. He also calculated, from his New Testament studies - and he is the top of the list of New Testament study scholars and chronology - that the Lord was crucified on April 3, 33 A.D. So, he backed up from there to the triumphal entry, started calculating from March 5, 444, to his established date in 33 A.D., came up with exactly the same figure, 173,880 days - so either way.
Now, you say, “Was God accommodating these two things? If both are right, then the point is lost.” No, the point is not lost. Either one is right; the point is gained. The point is simply this: when Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem, this was not some would-be, self-styled Messiah, adlibbing His own festival, pulling off His own mob scene. This was One spoken of hundreds of years before, by the prophet Daniel. That’s not all. That’s not all. Look at verse 26. After the seven - the first seven – and then “the three-score and two” - that is, after the 69 weeks’ total - “shall Messiah be” - what? –“cut off.” In Hebrew, that means killed or destroyed; killed or destroyed. When’s it going to happen; during the 69 weeks? No. During the 70th week? No. Sixty-nine weeks ended; “and after.”
It is not a part of the 69 weeks, it is after. Now, that tells us, then, that between the 69 and 70th week, there’s what? There’s a gap of space, isn’t there? Because at the end of the 69, but before the 70th, which begins in verse 27, the Messiah is cut off - and it wasn’t long after the end of the 69 that He was cut off. He rode into the city, and the 69th week, or the final year of the 483, was culminated on the day that He rode into that city. And it was only a handful of days later that He was cut off; He was killed. Hard to imagine; the One who had come in fulfillment of the prophesies was killed by the ones He came to save. After all the years of expectation, He was executed, like a common criminal. But the angel told the message of God this way: He shall “be cut off, but not for Himself.” There’s nothing in it for Him, says the text.
Some see it as meaning there was no honor, there was no respect, there was no glory; His portion was nothingness. Some see it as saying, “But in His death, there was no reason. There was nothing in His life that should have caused Him to be executed.” Both are true. There was no glory there, there was no honor there, and He didn’t die because He needed to die. He died, but not for Himself; for whom? For us. The angel Gabriel is right on target, folks. He was executed for nothing He did, but for our sins, and never did receive the honor that He should have received as the king. So, after that, He’ll be cut off. And then “the people of the Prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end of it shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”
At the end of that 483-year period, when Jesus died on the cross, in either 32 or 33, the period was over. And then it says, after that, the city, the sanctuary will be destroyed with a flood - and it doesn’t mean a flood of water, it means a flood of soldiers - and a war will bring desolation. That’s part of what God has determined, also. Who’s going to lead this? We know who led it; the Romans - Titus, Vespasian, the Roman general. And it happened in 70 A.D. It wasn’t long after, not long at all. Less than 40 years later, the whole city was devastated. History tells us Titus attacked with Roman artillery, he smashed the walls. They caught everybody they could that was outside of the city, and mercenaries crucified as many as 500 a day, until there was a forest of people crucified all outside the city.
And the historians tell us that an unbearable stench hung over the countryside. A million died, 100,000 bodies were thrown out over the wall. The city was then sealed off, and the people left inside were starved, to the point where they actually ate their own children. And robbers ran through the streets, says Josephus, and stole the clothes off the dead bodies. I mean, they were just devastated, and the Romans did it. The Romans did it in 70, just as Daniel said they would. There’s one week loose; we gotta get it back. Let’s get it in verse 27. “And He” - now, wait a minute, stop right there. He? Who is he? Back in verse 26 - “The prince that shall come.”
It says that the people who destroyed the city were the people of the Prince that shall come. They were the Romans, we know that. So, there will be a prince coming of the Romans. There will be a prince to rise out of the Roman Empire, and it is that prince, that ruler, who comes out of the Roman Empire, who will “confirm the covenant with many for one week” - there’s the final week. Now, if you’ve gone through the rest of the book of Daniel, you know who that prince is; who is it? It’s Anti-Christ. It’s the willful king, it’s the little horn, it’s the false Messiah. And he rises out of the revived Roman Empire.
We see that in Daniel’s prophecy; how that at the end time, there will be a revival of the Roman Confederacy. We’re seeing it now in its formative stages in the European Common Market. It’ll have 10 nations. The Common Market now has 10 member nations, and they make up the area which once was the Roman Empire. And out of that, in the latter days, is going to rise the Anti-Christ, the prince, and he is going to make a covenant with the Jews for seven years. He’s going to be their protector. He’s going to come, perhaps to seal to them off, with protection from all the enemies that are constantly crouching on their borders. He’s going to allow them to rebuild their temple. He’s going to allow them to have a restored worship.
I received a letter in the mail yesterday from the Jerusalem Temple Foundation, asking me if I would write a letter to the leadership of the nation Israel, pleading with them to allow the Jews to rebuild their temple on the Holy Mount. They want it, and they want it badly. I even received a map of the whole layout of the place, and where they want to do it, and where they want to put it. And recently, some Jews went up there to claim that place, and they were all thrown in jail. There’s a tremendous desire for that, and I believe under this prince that shall come out of the revived Roman Empire to protect them, they will have the right to rebuild that; and they’ll start their sacrifices and they’ll start their worship up again, and everything will go well.
But notice verse 27, in the middle of the week, three and a half years in, “He will cause that sacrifice and oblation” – or offering” – “to stop.” He puts an end to their religion in this final seven-year period, and in its place, he brings what Daniel calls the “overspreading of abominations.” He makes desolate.
And this abomination is to come into the holy place, the holy of holies, where the Jews worship, and desecrate it. And we know what he does; all we have to do is read the book of Revelation to find out. Revelation 11 and Revelation 13 tells us that he puts up an idol, which calls the world to worship him. And, of course, this is an abomination. This is the abomination of desolation - Matthew 24 refers to it - and it kicks off what is known as the Great Tribulation.
And the latter half of that seven-year period is a holocaust like the world has never known, all set in motion by the Anti-Christ, as he kicks it off in the violation of Jewish worship in the temple. So, this is an incredible prophecy. It takes us to the end of the Old Testament canon, till the cities foundations are restored, and its wall built, and its temple functioning. And then it takes us to the end of the 483 years, when the Messiah comes in as the Prince. And then it takes us beyond that, to the cutting off of the Messiah, and beyond that, to the destruction of the city. And then way beyond that, to the time of the seven years known as the tribulation, and to the final half, known as the Great Tribulation, to the abomination of desolations, which keys the final holocaust of the world.
And that’s why at the end of verse 27, it says it takes us even “unto the consummation.” Until all that God has planned be “poured out on the desolate.” This begins with a decree of Artaxerxes, and ends in the final consummation. You say, “What happens at the consummation?” Look at the verb there at the end of verse 27: “that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” And that is the same term used back in verse 24, in the verb form “are determined,” and we’re right full cycle again. What was determined will be fulfilled. What was fulfilled, in verse 27, is what was determined, in verse 24. What was it? Finish the transgression. Make an end of sins. Make reconciliation. Bring in everlasting righteousness. Seal up the vision in prophecy, and anoint the holy of holies.
In other words, we’ve gone all the way to the culmination of history, the coming of Jesus Christ, the establishing of His kingdom, and on into the eternal heavens and earth. And Daniel prayed and said, “Lord, show me when Israel is going to be delivered and how.” And God takes him far beyond anything he ever dreamed, and shows him all the flow of history until the coming of Jesus Christ. Listen, the prophecy said that the Lord would come as a prince; He did, right on schedule to the very day. That He would be killed; He was. Not for Himself; that’s true. That the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed; they were. All of those things have come to pass with exactness. And the next thing is the covenant for the final week. We don’t know when it’s going to start, and that’s the mystery in the prophet’s revelation.
We’re in the gap between 69 and 70. We don’t know when it’s going to start. “No man knows the date or the hour.” But listen, if the rest of those already happened and we can verify them, we don’t need to doubt that the one left is going to happen. And when you look at the world around you, sometimes it seems as if you can hear the steps of Christ Himself. And so when we think about Palm Sunday, we look back not only to the time when Jesus came into the city as king - and we affirm Him as king. But we go way beyond that, and we go all the way back to Daniel, in the sixth century. And we find out that way back then, Daniel said it would be so. And Daniel also helps us to leap far beyond the triumphal entry, to the real triumphal entry of which that one in Jerusalem was only a taste.
When He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords, and brings an end to sin, and establishes everlasting righteousness, seals up all revelation, and anoints the holy of holies, and we go into the glorious kingdom forever and ever. What happened that we celebrate on this day is a taste of what will happen when He comes again. Only then there won’t be anything but judgment on those who reject; no mercy. But until that time, as we live between the 69th and the 70th year, we need to consider seriously what has been determined on human history, and where we fit. Peter put it this way: “Seeing all these things, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy living and Godliness?” There’s a picture of human history. It’s going that way, inevitably, inexorably. Will you be there to receive the King when He comes? Will you be there to be embraced into His kingdom? Or will you be cast out? That’s the question. And your faith in Jesus Christ now will determine your eternal destiny then. Let’s bow in prayer.
With John the Apostle, we say “even so, come Lord Jesus.” But there’s a taste of bitterness in our stomach when we think about the fact that when You come, then it’s too late for all of those who have rejected You. We pray, Lord, that You’ll work in the hearts of all who are here. For those that don’t know You maybe, may they see from the tremendous accuracy, explicitness of Scripture - may they see that You control history. And may they hear the word of the Psalmist who said, “Kiss the Son lest He be angry.” Father, we pray that no heart would reject Jesus Christ, who is the King. Oh, how fickle the crowd was; King, and a few days later, criminal. Hosanna, a few days later, “Crucify Him.”
We pray, Father, that everyone here might rightly respond to the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. For those of us who are Christians, may we have a great sense of the power of Scripture, a great affirmation of its truthfulness. And may we too want, as Peter said, to live holy and godly, and demonstrate that we love His appearing, and long for the day when we’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” May we live in the light of the coming of Christ, and may it be for us as it was for John, that this hope is a purifying hope.