Now, this morning, as we talk about the beginning of Passion Week, we’re going to talk about our Lord’s entry into the city of Jerusalem. We read from Matthew chapter 21; and I’m not going to go back to that chapter, but we’re going to back up a little bit and go to the Old Testament and look at what was being fulfilled on that day. And I already pointed out, just reading it and praying with you over that passage, that there were at least three or more prophecies that were fulfilled that Matthew records, fulfilled by the entry of our Lord into Jerusalem: one having to do with the riding on the colt, the other having to do with the praise of children, and another, the hosannas to the son of David. That tells us that the event itself was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and that just looks at some of the very simple factors of that day: the praise of children, the praise of the people, and the animal our Lord rode on. There was much, more prophetic fulfillment going on on that day than just those things that are mentioned by Matthew.
And by the way, it was probably on a Monday rather than a Sunday, if we do the chronology correctly. Monday would be the day that our Lord entered into the city of Jerusalem. I don’t mind celebrating that on a Sunday; I don’t mind celebrating that every day, for that matter. But it was likely on a Monday, and it was on that Monday that the words of Zechariah chapter 9, verse 9 were fulfilled, the Lord riding on the colt of a donkey. It was then that the Hallels from Psalm 113 to 118 were proclaimed over Him, when the people said, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the kingdom of our father David who comes” – or that comes – “in the name of the Lord.” All of those were fulfilling Hallel Psalms or expressions of those psalms, the psalms of ascent that the people proclaimed when they ascended to worship in the temple.
But today I want to go back to a different prophecy, a far more complicated and complex prophecy than any of those. As wondrous as they all are, this one is going to be a test of your ability to pay attention. If you have adult ADD you may check out many times. This might be a test as to whether you need to be treated for that, because it’s going to tax your brain. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I did make it in the first service, and no one fainted that I could at least see.
Now look, hundreds of prophecies fill the Old Testament concerning Messiah. There are dozens and dozens and dozens, too many to be named of names of the Messiah that are given in the Old Testament and the New Testament. And there are a myriad of prophecies. Somebody has calculated that there could well be as many as twelve hundred prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture, many of them, of course, in the Old Testament.
There is a lot that we know about the Lord’s coming the first time from the Old Testament, and the second time from both the Old and the New Testament. We know that those things prophesied regarding His first coming all came to pass, so we can be certain that those things prophesied for His second coming will also all come to pass, because Scripture is authored by the same one single author the Spirit of God. But though there are many prophecies, I want to draw your attention to one particular prophecy. Sir Isaac Newton once wrote that we could stake the truth of Christianity on this prophecy alone. It is a powerful complex prophecy, and it’s found in the ninth chapter of Daniel; so if you’ll turn back to your Old Testament and to Daniel chapter 9. Let me give you a little bit of background before I read the text to you.
Now you do remember that the children of Israel had been taken into captivity. They had been taken into captivity in three deportations starting in 605 B.C., another one in 596 B.C., and then in 586 B.C., the third deportation. That deportation was conducted by the Babylonians, the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar was the conqueror of the southern kingdom of Israel. The kingdom had split into the north and the south. The northern kingdom called Israel had gone into captivity. In 722 They had been captive by the Assyrians, and the people were dispersed throughout the world.
The southern kingdom survived until the Babylonian conquest under the king named Nebuchadnezzar. This like the captivity or the desolation of the northern kingdom was a judgment of God. God was judging them for their apostacy, their rebellion, their disobedience, their sin; and God used the Babylonians to be the judge.
Now among the captivity there were many who are familiar to us who were taken into captivity. Ezekiel would be one of them. Daniel would be another, along with his three friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we know from the fiery furnace. But basically the Babylonians came and they sacked the city of Jerusalem. They destroyed the city of Jerusalem, tore down the walls, and reduced the temple – which was, of course, the most precious building in the land – to rubble. The destruction of the temple had taken place, Jews were carried off, and the worst of all possible scenarios, they are now captive to pagans in a foreign land. They hang their harps on the willow trees; they have no song to sing. They are miserable in their captivity. They are used like any captives would be by a conquering nation for servile duties and responsibilities.
But even in the midst of that, one of them rose in prominence because of his abilities and because of his virtue and because of his character, and that was Daniel; and in the Babylonian Empire, he rose to become the Prime Minister. A Jew, a captive Jew became Prime Minister of the Babylonian kingdom. He lived to the end of the Babylonian kingdom, and it transitioned into the Medo-Persian kingdom. That was a second great world power to encompass Israel. Daniel deals with four of them back in chapter 2 and chapter 7: the Babylonian kingdom followed by the Medo-Persian kingdom, followed by the Greek kingdom, followed by the Roman kingdom. Those four great world kingdoms are identified by Daniel in his prophecy. Daniel himself has lived to the first year of the Medo-Persian kingdom, and that’s how Daniel 9 begins.
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans.” So the Medes replaced the Chaldeans, or the Babylonians. This is the new kingdom. This is the first year of the Medo-Persian Empire under Cyrus – Darius is a title, Cyrus was his name.
And Daniel still ranks high in Gentile culture. He has been captive for seventy years, for seventy years. That’s a very important number, because God had told Jeremiah that he would take his people captive at the hands of the Babylonians for seventy years. God had said it would be a seventy-year captivity.
Why seventy years? Because for many, many years, the people of Israel had been disobedient to God’s commands to them back in the Pentateuch to let the land rest every seven years, let the land rest and rejuvenate itself. They had ignored that. They had plowed right through those sabbatical years for the land to rest, and so the seventy-year captivity was God’s way of giving the land the rest that the people had failed to give it. And so, God accumulated all the years that they had not given the land rest and made that the number of years for the captivity. He told the prophet Jeremiah that it would be a seventy-year captivity.
As we begin the book of Daniel the children of Israel are in captivity. They are in depression. They are sad and sorrowful they are under foreign rule. They are being taught the paganism that dominated that culture. Their land is now in the possession of heathen people, their holy city is a heap, and their temple is rubble. Daniel is concerned about this.
And Daniel is a man of prayer, as we know. Earlier in the book of Daniel we find out that he had a habit of praying three times a day: morning, and in the midday, and again in the evening. Always prayed on his knees, and always prayed facing Jerusalem. He did this daily, he was a man of consistent devotion to prayer. So we’re not surprised to find in chapter 9 that Daniel begins to pray again.
But now there’s something new: he realizes that because of the calendar, the seventy years is nearly done. It’s time for God to act and take His people back to the land. This is brought to mind, because in verse 2 of chapter 9, you look at it: “In the first year of the reign of Darius,” – or Cyrus – “I, Daniel, observed in the books” – that is, in the book of Jeremiah – “the number of years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.”
So he’s looking at a seventy-year period saying, “Hey, we’ve been here seventy years; it’s time the Lord should relieve us and take us back to rebuild our city and rebuild our nation and rebuild our beloved temple.” So he begins to pray. And he prays, starting in verse 4 all the down to verse 19, and it’s a prayer that God will restore His people. But it is primarily a prayer of confession.
“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.” And he goes on like this in this penitential prayer, praying really that God would forgive His people, calling out to God to grant forgiveness to His wayward, sinful, and up to this point, impenitent people.
The prayer goes on and goes on through all those verses down to verse 19. And then we pick up the text at verse 20, and we read this: “Now 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 on behalf of the holy mountain of my God,” that sets the circumstances of Daniel. He is in the middle of this prayer, and it is going on, and on, and it looks like there’s not any near end for Daniel.
He is physically weary because this prayer has involved deprivation. He has prayed all the while and while pouring out his heart, verse 3 says, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. He had nothing to eat. We don’t know how long this went on. This is probably a cryptic representation of the prayer and not the whole prayer. And we know he was a man who could pray a long time, that was the pattern of his life.
So the first thing we see here is the circumstances of Daniel; he sees the scenario for his people. Now understand this: this is the covenant people Israel to whom all the promises of God were given. All of the promises of God were to come to and through Israel to the rest of the world. But Israel is no longer essentially a nation. They no longer have land; they no longer have a capital city; they no longer have a temple, which was the focal point of their worship. And it is that temple that is basically referred to, at the end of verse 20, as “the holy mountain of my God,” because that temple sat on Mount Zion. So they have literally been decimated and reduced to nonexistence.
Daniel wants to understand how this fits into the plan of God. After all, Israel is God’s chosen people; and many, many promises have been given to Israel, long before they were taken into captivity, about a great and wonderful future of blessing, starting with the promise to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. So Daniel is trying to figure out exactly what is going on in God’s plan. His prayer is profoundly agonizing for him, because he’s living in the midst of the distress that is true of the entire people of Israel. Again he is praying for “the holy mountain of my God,” Mount Zion, Jerusalem, the temple area, and with it the whole nation. “God, what is Your plan?” So the first character we meet in the prophecy in verse 20 is Daniel, and that is his circumstance.
Now, immediately in verse 21 we meet another very important person in this incredible prophecy by the name of Gabriel. So we start with the circumstances of Daniel, and then we go moving quickly to the arrival or the coming of Gabriel. Verse 21: “While I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.”
Now, we know that Gabriel is an angel and he is a messenger angel. It was Gabriel that came to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist. It was Gabriel who came to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus Christ. Gabriel is the messenger angel; and we know he’s an angel.
Why then does Daniel refer to him as “the man Gabriel”? The answer is back in chapter 8, verse 15, the previous time that Daniel had seen Gabriel: “I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man. And I heard the voice of a man” – so here is someone who looks like a man and has a voice like a man, and this occurs – “between the banks of the river Ulai, and he called out and said, ‘Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.’” Daniel says, “Gabriel, give me, this man, an understanding of the vision.” The point I’m making is that Gabriel, when he did appear, appeared there as a man; and that is why in verse 21 Daniel says, “Then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously,” – back in chapter 8 – “came to me in my extreme weariness.”
I want you to notice that the time that Gabriel came is very interesting time – these are little notes that the Holy Spirit puts in the Scripture that adds some richness for us: “at the time of the evening offering.” Morning and evening offerings were given at the temple in Israel. There was no more temple; there was no more functioning priesthood; there were no more sacrifices. But Daniel knew it was that time when it normally would have taken place, and that would be 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
Three o’clock in the afternoon was exactly the time when the lambs would be slaughtered in the evening sacrifice. So it is precisely at the hour when normally the lambs would be sacrificed on the altar in the temple for the sins of the people that Daniel is pouring out his heart in prayer for the forgiveness of his people and their restoration to the land. Daniel is praying for divine forgiveness at the very hour when God had established a time for sacrifice is a picture of forgiveness that would eventually come to be fulfilled in the Lamb of God, the Messiah. So the timing is remarkably rich.
So Daniel is praying, and Gabriel shows up right at that very time of the evening sacrifice. We now have met Daniel, and we now have met Gabriel, and we come then, thirdly, to the third very important person in this account, and that’s God; and God speaks through Gabriel. We have then not only Daniel’s circumstance, Gabriel’s coming, but God’s communication. And this is incredibly important. It is so important that we hear the words of Gabriel in verse 22: “He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding.’” Some people think this is a difficult prophecy to understand, when, in fact, it is intended to give understanding and insight.
So Gabriel says, “I’ve come to give you insight and understanding. I’ve come forth from heaven, from the presence of God.” Verse 23: “At the beginning of your supplications, when you started to pray, the command was issued. God dispatched me to bring you the answer. At the very moment that you began to pray, God dispatched me to bring you the answer,” which is to say Daniel was praying on schedule. It was time for the answer when it was time for Daniel to pray. He prayed in response to what he saw in Scripture.
The seventy years was up; and God knew the time was up, and God acted immediately. Apparently it took a little bit of time for Gabriel to make his way to Daniel. That’s not surprising, because we have other occasions in the prophets where God sends angels who are withheld by demons in conflict in the air, if you will, in the supernatural world. But finally Gabriel arrives and he says, “Daniel, I’m here to tell you, and to give you insight and understanding, and I’m doing it because you are highly esteemed.” Literally, in Hebrew, “You’re a man of desires. You’re a desirable man. You’re a respected man. You’re a precious man. You have integrity, spiritual integrity. So give heed, so listen to what I have to say to the message and gain understanding of the vision.”
He reiterates essentially – does Daniel – in this text twice, that “Gabriel came to give insight and understanding,” verse 22; and then again, “that he came to give a message that you need to heed and give you understanding of the vision.” This is to make things clear, not difficult. Now at the same time, it is a complex prophecy, and it’s going to take your attention to understand the incredible reality that is here.
Now, I want you to understand that this prophecy relates to the people of God. It relates to the city of Jerusalem, to the temple, and the people of God. If you come to verse 24, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” The angel Gabriel is going to give to Daniel the future history of Israel, the future history of Israel. The future history of Israel is the future history of Jerusalem, and involves even the future of the temple. So this is incredibly rich revelation.
Now let’s look at the communication from God, starting in verse 24: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
Amazing prophecy. It requires a whole lot more detail than I’m able to give you in the few minutes that we have remaining this morning, but I’m going to give you enough so that you see the power of this prophecy.
Now, let’s start with the typical questions: what, who, why. What is the prophecy saying? Let’s go back to verse 24: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Literally in Hebrew: seventy sevens, seventy sevens of years. These are weeks of years. So seventy times seven would be four hundred and ninety years. Four hundred and ninety years of history are decreed by God for the people of Israel and the holy city, seventy weeks of years.
Now, notice the word “decreed.” It literally is a word that means “to cut out.” God has literally spliced out of history a four hundred and ninety-year period of history, to bring Israel to His final destiny, the destiny that He Himself has predetermined. God has spliced out a chunk of history to complete His plan for Israel. Again, not a week of days, but a week of years is in view here. And in these four hundred and ninety years God will fully restore Israel, that’s the idea. God will fully restore Israel, not just taking them back to the land to rebuild the temple soon after the time of this prayer, but this is going all the way to the end at the full and complete and final restoration of Israel; in other words, the time when God brings salvation to the nation Israel. How do we know that? Look at the six things God is going to accomplish at the end of the four hundred and ninety years. Here they come.
One, “to finish the transgression.” He doesn’t say, “to finish transgressions,” “the transgression.” What is the dominant transgression that has characterized Israel? Apostacy, unbelief, rejection of the true God, idolatry. Throughout all of Israel’s history, even to this very day, the nation rejects God in rejecting the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. So what you have here is a prophecy of four hundred and ninety years until God brings Israel’s apostacy to an end.
The prophet Zechariah writes about this specifically. Turn to Zechariah chapter 12, and I’m going to move a little quickly here. This will help you pay attention. Verse 10, Zechariah 12:10, looking into the future: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
In the future God is going to pour out on the house of David, the people of Israel, on them, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace. God’s going to give them grace and repentance; and they’re going to look at Christ and say, “We have killed the Messiah.”
Looking back over all the annals of history, they will mourn for Him; for He was God’s only Son. “In that day great mourning in Jerusalem,” – and it goes on to say – “every family will mourn.” Mentions them by name all the way down to verse 14. “All the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.”
All of Israel mourning and mourning and mourning that they have rejected Christ since way back when He first came. But in that future day when God gives them a spirit of grace and supplication, and they repent, and look on the one that they pierced and mourn for Him as the only Son of God. “In that day a fountain” – chapter 13, verse 1 – “will be opened for the house of David, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and impurity. It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, they will no longer be remembered. I will also remove the prophets” – false prophets – “and the unclean spirit from the land.” It is a day of Israel’s salvation.
Down in verse 9 at the end, “They will say, ‘The Lord is my God. The Lord is my God.’” So the first thing that’s going to happen at the end of four hundred and ninety years is Israel’s apostacy is over. They repent, they are given grace, and they are saved.
Go back to the twenty-fourth verse again. Not only is there going to be the finish of the transgression, but the next objective, “to make an end of sin,” literally means “to bring judgment on sin with finality, to bring judgment on sin with finality.” And that also is in Zechariah in the very same section, chapter 13: “It’ll come about in all the land,” declares the Lord – two parts in it – “will be cut off and perish.” Two out of three Jews who do not believe will be judge, the third will be left. “I’ll bring them through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, test them as gold is tested. They’ll call on My name, I’ll answer them. I’ll say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” That’s the salvation of Israel, and with that salvation of Israel comes judgment on those who reject.
So to finish the transgression, to bring judgment on sin, thirdly, to bring or make an atonement for iniquity, to cover sin. At that time God will cover their sin. This is a true and efficacious covering provided for by the death of Jesus Christ who was the atonement that God accepted. Amazing, amazing prophecy: the end of Israel’s apostacy, the judgment of those who don’t believe, and the provision of the sacrifice of Christ who atoned for His people applied to Israel. All three refer to a final dealing with the nation Israel and their sin, the very sin that led to captivity and led to all the subsequent disasters that have been the history of Israel, even to this very day.
Three negatives that have to do with sin, then immediately there are three positives that have to do with righteousness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to bring in everlasting righteousness. When sin is dealt with the Lord will then bring in everlasting righteousness, not only robing those who believe in His righteousness, but bring in everlasting righteousness. And by the way, the reason it’s called everlasting righteousness is because that’s the only kind of righteousness God has. He doesn’t have temporary righteousness. Psalm 119:142 says, “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.” So God is going to bring eternal righteousness to those who believe. Back in verse 7 of chapter 9, “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us shame.” Well, in that day righteousness will belong to the people of Israel who believe in the Messiah.
Listen to Jeremiah 23:5 and 6, similar emphasis: “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;” – that’s Messiah – “and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’” That’s a reminder that if we have any righteousness it is His righteousness imputed to us.
So what a prophecy. To the very end the salvation of Israel. Their sin is dealt with, and they are granted everlasting righteousness. At the same time, number five in the list, to seal up vision and prophecy; that is, to bring an end to revelation, to bring an end to revelation.
You say, “Well, I thought revelation was already finished. We have the Old Testament, we have the New Testament. ‘You’re not to add anything to either of these, or shall be added the plagues that are written in it.’ That’s how the New Testament ends. Isn’t revelation complete?”
No. The revelation of Scripture is complete, but there is promised more revelation in the future. Joel 2, the prophet says that there will be in the end times prophecy again and visions again. And that’s picked up in the book of Acts as well on the day of Pentecost. So there will be further revelations through prophets and visions in the end times. But those will end, and then that will end along with the New Testament and the Old Testament, the end of all divine revelation will come.
And then one final objective, to anoint the most holy place. Thirty-nine times the most holy place is referred to in the Old Testament; every time it means the temple, every time. What that says is that when the Lord comes back and brings salvation to Israel and sets up His kingdom there’s going to be a temple. Yes, there’s going to be a temple in the millennial kingdom. That temple is described for us.
Turn back to Ezekiel chapter 40 – not too far back into Ezekiel from Daniel – chapter 40. It’s one of the most amazing portions of Scripture for its detail. It details every minute aspect of the building of the temple that our Lord will dwell in in the millennial kingdom in the future. This is a vision given to Ezekiel, verse 2 of chapter 40: “He brought me into the land of Israel, set me on a very high mountain, and there was a structure there like a city.” And it turns out that structure is the millennial temple. And the details go on in chapter 40 and chapter 41, details, minute details like a schematic as to how this is to be built.
Then in chapter 43, verse 1, “He led me to the gate,” – in the vision – “the gate facing toward the east.” And here’s what happens: once the millennial temple is built, once it’s in place, “Then the glory of the God of Israel is coming from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions which were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.” This is the millennial temple. In the thousand-year reign of Christ He will dwell in the temple in full glory.
If you go back earlier into Ezekiel 8 to 11, the glory departs. You have a picture of the desecrated idolatrous temple of Jewish history, and you have a dramatic picture of the glory of the Lord going up over the doorway and out of the temple and out over the mountains and beyond the mountains, and Ichabod is written on Israel historically, the glory has departed. Not only had the glory departed, the temple was destroyed. But someday the Lord will come back, there will be a temple to the specifications laid out in Ezekiel, and the Lord will dwell there again.
So you have the promise of everlasting righteousness dominating not only the Jews but the whole world. You have the end of divine revelation; you don’t need it anymore. Why? Because the Lord is present. And then you have Him dwelling in glory in the millennial temple. Staggering, staggering description of the end of history, particularly looking at the people of Israel: their future salvation, their future judgment on the rebels, their future righteousness, their future communion with the returning Christ who sets up His kingdom and dwells in a renewed, rebuilt temple.
This is what Paul was looking at in Romans 11:26 when he said, “So all Israel will be saved.” Future salvation of Israel. So God through Gabriel is saying to Daniel, “I have not forsaken My people.” And that’s the message of Romans 11. God has given gifts and callings that are without repentance, they’re irrevocable. The Savior will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. Israel will be saved in the future. Romans 11 says they are elect, they are beloved, they are called.
Who is going to do this? Who is going to bring this great salvation to Israel and this righteous kingdom and this holy temple? Who is going to do this? Verse 25 tells us: “So you are to know and discern” – again reminding us that this is for us to understand – “that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince.”
That’s who will do it, Messiah the Prince. They all knew Messiah, son of David, the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head. They all knew the prophet who would come, the Righteous Branch. There were so many Old Testament names for Him. It’s the Messiah the Prince, that’s the only place that particular title appears in all of the Old Testament. Many times He’s called Messiah. At least one other time He’s called Prince. In Isaiah 55:4 Prince and Commander. But this is the only time He’s identified as Messiah the Prince, or Messiah the King, or Messiah the Ruler. It’ll be the Messiah who will do this. When the Messiah comes He will bring with Him the salvation of Israel in the establishment of a righteous kingdom.
When will this happen? Well, it’ll happen seventy times seven, it’ll happen four hundred and ninety years down the road. The Messiah will come after four hundred and ninety years and do all of this. “Well, how do we know when the four hundred and ninety years start? If we knew when the four hundred and ninety years start we might know where they end. If this is actually four hundred and ninety years. So can we know when it starts?” Go back to verse 25.
Yes, “You are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” Hmm. We know when it starts: with the issuing of a decree to rebuild and to rebuild Jerusalem. That’s when it starts.
Do we know anything about such a decree? Absolutely. It’s recorded in Nehemiah 2:1 to 8. The decree was made by Artaxerxes, king of the Medo-Persian kingdom. The year was 445 B.C. Artaxerxes made a decree under the influence of God for the people to rebuild their city 445 B.C., the first of Nisan, or about March 14th – even the day was known. That’s a starting point for four hundred and ninety years of history until Messiah does all of this for Israel.
But as we look at verse 25 we see something changes here. Jerusalem will be restored, it will be rebuilt. At the end of the verse it says it’ll have a plaza and a moat, even in times of distress. It doesn’t mean that Jerusalem’s going to be trouble-free when it’s rebuilt. When Artaxerxes made the decree it didn’t mean that Jerusalem was going to be free and clear from stress; there was even distress in the effort to built it. But it will have a defense – that’s with plaza and moat. It’ll have a city – in the inside that’s the plaza – it’ll have a moat or a wall to protect it.
But it also says Messiah will come seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Seven weeks after this is forty-nine years later. Forty-nine years later is 396 B.C., possibly the closing of Nehemiah’s career, the rebuilding of that second temple after they went back, the end of the ministry of Malachi; so the close of the Old Testament Canon. Forty-nine years from then all of that would take place. Sixty-two weeks later, or sixty-two times seven is four hundred and thirty-four years later, the Messiah the Prince will come. Total of forty-nine years and four hundred and thirty-four years. Four hundred and eighty-three years from now the Messiah will come.
There’s a week missing, right? But that’s what the prophecy is from heaven, four hundred and eighty-three years from the decree which was 445 B.C. If you count those years as the Jews counted them – three hundred and sixty days, not three hundred and sixty-five days, and feeding in the leap years – four hundred and eighty-three years later is the very year that Jesus entered Jerusalem to begin the Passover Week. The best established date is Nisan 10, 30 A.D.
Some have calculated it down to days: one hundred and seventy three thousand eight hundred and eighty days. There are a couple of different approaches to the math, but both of them come to the same conclusion that it comes down to the very time when Jesus entered Jerusalem. That’s why it was so important for Daniel to understand this, “because now you’ll know when your Messiah shows up. It’s not going to be two hundred years from now, or four hundred years from now, or eight hundred years from now; it’s going to be four hundred and eighty-three years from now from the decree He’s going to come back. You need to understand this.”
And through the centuries there must have been many Jews who did. And like Daniel reading Jeremiah and saying, “Hey, the seventy years is up,” I wonder how many Jews were reading Daniel and saying, “Hey, the four hundred and eighty-three years is up.” Maybe Simeon and Anna.
But then the message from God says this in verse 26: “Then after the sixty-two weeks” – the seven and sixty-two, sixty-nine, four hundred and eighty-three years – “Messiah will be” – what? – “cut off and have nothing.” The Messiah will be cut off? Means “to kill,” “to execute.” Used in the Old Testament Leviticus chapter 7, Proverbs 2, Psalm 37 for an official death penalty: execution. The Messiah will receive the death penalty and be executed. And He came into the city on Nisan 10, 30 A.D. – that’s the right, correct date; many think it is – and before the week was even over He was executed. This is a prophecy of the crucifixion.
They should have known. They should have known when He came into the city that He was the real Messiah, because the time was exact. They should have known that when He was crucified He was the true Messiah, because that’s exactly what the prophecy said would happen. And they should have known even more than that, certainly we should know more, because it tells us who killed Him. It tells us that the people of the Prince who is to come did it, the ones who will destroy the city and the sanctuary. So the Messiah is cut off, and it adds, “And He will have nothing.”
“Well, what do you mean, ‘He will have nothing’?” Some think no guilt. Some think no honor. Some think no acceptance. Some think no defenders. All are true; maybe that’s why it says He’ll have nothing. You could say there was nothing in it for Him, it was all for us. He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Who did this to Him? The people that did it to Him are the people of the Prince who is to come. Who are the people of the Prince who is to come? The ones who will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, who destroyed Jerusalem? The Romans. The Romans massacred hundreds of thousands of people, plundered nine hundred and eight-five towns across the land of Israel. Massive bloodletting.
So the Messiah comes four hundred and eighty-three years later, which is the year that Jesus came into Jerusalem, and maybe even the day. And immediately He is executed, and He’s executed by the people who will soon destroy Jerusalem, which is exactly what they did forty years later.
But it says something more about them. They are a people of the prince who is to come. Who is the prince who is to come? The prince who is to come is described in verse 27. He is the one who in the future will make a firm covenant with the many for one week. Now we find our missing week. The prince who is to come, He is some prince from the Roman system.
You say, “You mean Rome is coming back in the future?” Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 both say there will be a final form of the revived Roman Empire at the end of human history, and that the prince is the Antichrist who leads that system, four world systems: Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman. And a form of the Roman – which means centered where the Roman Empire was centered in the continent of Europe – will come a great leader, the Antichrist. It even says in the book of Revelation that he’s associated with a city with seven hills, in a coalition, no doubt, with the Roman religious system, this prince that will come, this Antichrist. And he will make a firm covenant with many; he will make a firm covenant with Israel for a week.
Israel’s going to beleaguered and besieged when that happens. They’re going to need protection and help. They’re going to want to have freedom to worship. They’re even going to want to have a temple that they can go to. And this Antichrist, this Roman Antichrist in the future is going to make a protective covenant with them to make sure they’re free to do what they want to do. That week is yet to come. It can’t come until the prince comes. It can’t come until he makes the covenant.
And there’s something else in verse 27: “In the middle of the week” – in the middle of that final seven-year period, which the Bible calls the tribulation, in the middle of that seven-year period – “he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate. On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate.” Someone will come into the temple in an abominable way and make desolation of the temple and the sacrifice. Daniel refers to that as the abomination of desolations in chapter 11, verse 31; and our Lord predicted it in Matthew 24:15, in the future the abomination of desolations.
Here’s what happens. Toward the end of human history the Jews are under persecution. They make a pact with the Antichrist who’s head of this massive world global power centered in what was once great Roman occupied Europe, partnering with the false religious system of Rome. He will become the protector of the Jews for half the seven years, in the middle. Revelation even says forty-two months in – that’s exactly half of seven years. It says it twice. It says that first period is called a time, times and half a time. A time is one, times is two, and half a time: three-and-a-half. The Bible is explicit about this.
There’s a future seven-year period to come led by Antichrist. He will come in and he will establish himself as the only one to be worshiped in the world. He will shut down Jewish worship, he will desecrate and abominate the temple; and with that all hell breaks loose on earth; and then all heaven breaks loose as well, as God begins the judgments of the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls in the book of Revelation. What starts in Revelation chapter 6 and runs all the way to chapter 19 the return of Christ are the horrible judgments of that time period. This Antichrist will come to an end, according to the book of Revelation, when Jesus comes back, when Jesus comes back.
So, four hundred and eighty-three years, right on schedule, one week in the future; we’re in the gap in-between. God told us exactly when Jesus would come the first time into the city; He doesn’t tell us when He’s coming the second time, right? Jesus said, “It’s not for you to know.”
We’re living in the mystery. It’s not seen in the Old Testament, the church age. We’re in that mystery. This church age will end when the Lord snatches His church out, and then begins the seven-year tribulation. And in it comes the salvation of Israel, and after it comes the establishment of the reign and rule of Christ in His millennial kingdom; and His reign and rule will last forever, as will His righteousness.
The abomination of desolations is an interesting thing to think about; you can look at all the various places it’s used in Scripture. It’s some kind of wholesale devastation of the worship that’s going on in the temple, sacrilegious, blasphemous, as Antichrist demands that the entire world worship him. Then God will bring war, desolation. End of verse 27, “complete destruction, that is decreed, poured out on the one who makes desolate.” That is to say, He’ll destroy the Antichrist and everybody who’s a part of his kingdom, and they’ll be sent to the lake of fire.
That’s the history of Israel. All this massive redemptive history is prophecy, and it’s all triggered when Jesus walks into the city of Jerusalem. If that’s on schedule, believe me, the rest is on schedule, right? As far as the people of Israel were concerned, their hallelujahs were hollow, an empty pretense of praise. Their words were true, but their hearts were not. That’s still true for many. But there will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord.
Father, we thank You for the overwhelming richness of Your Word; it’s a stunning thing to encounter it in all its fullness. We’re so blessed and so grateful that we can understand and discern and know these things. But seeing we know these things, what manner of persons ought we to be? We know where history is going, it’s all laid out for us. It’s not confusing, it’s not difficult; it’s written so that we can understand and discern and take heed. May we know where history is going. It’s headed downward to the ultimate reign of the final Antichrist, and judgment that is incomprehensible, the likes of which the world has never imagined. And then the return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His saints for believers still left on earth to set up His millennial reign, and then His eternal rule in the new heaven and the new earth.
This is history: the first part, right on schedule; so will the second part be. We knew the very time He would come the first time; we don’t know that now. You haven’t told us, because that would terrify us, or it would make us indifferent. We need to live in every moment as if our Lord were to come in the next. And that is why the rapture of the church is a signless event.
We know, Lord Jesus, You could come at any moment and trigger the final week. I pray, Lord, that You will draw sinners to Yourself. Save them even today and even through hearing this message, for Your glory we pray. Amen.