Daniel 9 begins with the prophet meditating on what God told Jeremiah regarding Israel’s captivity in Babylon (9:1–2). He understood that the 70 years of captivity in Babylon was nearing its end. Yet, thirteen years earlier the vision he saw in chapter 8 foretold yet more trouble for Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple.
Daniel’s inability to make sense of these two seemingly conflicting truths from God moved him to pray (9:3–19). In response to his prayer Gabriel revealed to Daniel clarifying information regarding these future troubles of Israel (9:20–27).
First, Gabriel revealed the time involved, “seventy weeks.” Literally “seventy units of seven,” this means the same as seventy times seven or 490. Thus, 490 units of time are “decreed.” But how much time is this?
The prophecy declares that the Messiah would be present in Israel before the 490 time units would end (9:25). The Messiah would not be present within 490 days, months, or weeks after that time. Thus, “weeks” refers to units of seven years.
Some additional reasons why “seventy weeks” means 490 years—(1) In 10:2 Daniel specified weekdays. If days were meant in 9:24–27, he could have said so. (2) 490 days is meaningless in this context; 490 years fits the context well. (3) Daniel had been thinking of God’s dealings with Israel in terms of years (9:2), and thus “years” would be the most natural understanding.
Next, Gabriel says that this prophecy specifically involves Israel (“your people”) and Jerusalem (“your holy city,” 9:24), and identifies six actions—
(1) “Finish the transgression,” refers to the Jews’ rebellion against God’s rule. Israel would not stop its rebellion against God’s rule until these 490 years ended. Other Scriptures show that Israel will not repent, turn to God, and be saved until the Second Coming of Christ at the end of these 490 years (Zech 12:10–13:1; Rom 11:25–27). Israel’s restoration, which Daniel prayed for, will ultimately be fulfilled.
(2) “Make an end of sin”—this speaks of the degree which transgression is “finished.” Sin will be “put to an end.”
(3) “Make atonement for iniquity”—final atonement for sin was made by Jesus Christ on the cross, but this atonement is only applied to individuals as they believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah and Savior.
These first three actions were accomplished in principle by Christ on the cross, but their historical fulfillment with reference to Jews will occur only when they turn to Christ (Jer 31:33–34; Ezek 37:23; Zech 13:1). Don’t forget who this prophecy involves—Israel!
(4)“Bring in everlasting righteousness”—literally, this is “to bring in righteousness of ages,” and refers to the righteous character of the Messiah’s rule after the completion of the seventy weeks (Isa 11:1–5; 53:11; 23:5–6; Jer 33:15–18).
(5) “Seal up vision and prophecy”—upon the completion of the seventy weeks all prophecy will be fulfilled, so the functions of revelation and prophecy will no longer be needed and thus will cease.
(6) “Anoint the most holy place”—“anoint” means to consecrate to religious service. The Temple will be consecrated for worshipping God after the end of the seventy weeks (Ezek 41–46).
Gabriel told Daniel that from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah there would be “sixty-nine weeks,” 483 years (9:25). The decree refers to Artaxerxes’ decree in 445 B.C. (Neh 2:1–8).
At the end of the 69 weeks the Messiah would come but be “cut off,” meaning he would suffer a violent death (9:26; cf. Lev 7:20, 21, 25, 27; cf. 1 Sam 17:51; Obad 9; Nah 3:15). Jerusalem and the Temple would then be destroyed (9:26, “the city and the sanctuary”).
Although Gabriel had just said Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt (9:25), he then reveals that it would yet be destroyed again. This would help Daniel understand why the vision he saw in chapter 8 involved more suffering for Israel—God would chasten Israel for rejecting the Messiah at His first coming.
The degree of Jerusalem’s (“its,” 9:26) destruction is said to “come with a flood,” “war,” and “desolations,” all indicating extensive destruction. History indicates that this event took place by the Romans in 70 A.D. in response to the Jewish revolt.
As the actions of 9:24 have not occurred and require both Christ’s first and Second Coming, there is a gap of time of unknown duration (no one knows the hour of His coming, Matt 24:36). Jesus said that the abomination prophesied in 9:27 will not happen until shortly before His Second Coming (Matt 24:15–21, 29–31). Additionally, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70 A.D., not 39 A.D. (which would have happened if the 70th week followed immediately after the 69th). Last, it is not unusual for biblical prophecies to contain gaps of time (Isa 9:6; 61:1–3; Zech 9:9–10).
The context makes clear that “the people of the prince who is to come” (9:26) does not refer to the Messiah. The Messiah was not a Roman, nor did the Romans claim the Messiah as their Prince. As well, the Messiah never made a 7 year covenant (9:27).
The closest previous reference is the Roman Prince (Antichrist) of verse 26. This “prince”—the coming Antichrist—will enforce a “one week” (7 year) covenant with Israel; cause Jewish worship to cease half-way through that 7 year covenant; demand exclusive worship; and persecute Israel (9:27).
To Summarize and Conclude—
- Gabriel thus helps Daniel see that God will restore Israel at the end of the 70 year captivity, but Israel also has additional chastening that it must endure (9:26–27).
- Note that in this prophecy the time of Messiah’s first coming was definitely made known (483 years), but the establishment of His kingdom is not—there is a gap of unrevealed time between the 69th (Christ’s first coming) and 70th weeks (Christ’s Second Coming). No one knows when Christ will return.
- This revelation sets forth the time-table of God’s future plan for Israel. All prophecy must be understood in light of this prophecy.
I (Pastor Greenfield) want to use the “Pastor’s Pen” articles to teach and encourage you regarding areas of your life and our church. Indeed, these two areas should not be separated from each other—the NT always views a Christian as part of (“member”) a local church. The main point of this article by Pastor Morris addresses a key aspect of how our church operates; I also hope you’ll be challenged to come to prayer meeting!
How many churches still have a Prayer Meeting during the week? I am referring to a church-wide assembly where believers of all ages meet to review prayer needs and then pray about those needs.
Prayer Meeting has been replaced by a “mid-week service”, children’s ministry, teen ministry, singles ministry, and other activities. Some beneficial programs have perhaps unintentionally split our churches into separate mini-churches, and prayer meeting is often viewed as a lesser ministry, if not explicitly but by omission and substitution. For example, look at many churches’ weekly schedule. You will find prominently listed several different activities for all age groups. Conspicuously absent is any mention of a prayer meeting.
I find it curious that many lament the many divisions in Fundamental Christianity, yet don’t realize that we are adding to the division by some of our ministries. Although the better age-specific ministries attempt to teach the concept and practice of praying and do an excellent job of teaching the Bible to youth, the problem I have noticed is that younger Christians do not know how to worship and pray with Christians who are not of their age group, if they even pray that much with those who are of their age group.
Additionally, some youth-oriented programs emphasize activity and “high-energy” to such an extent that when these youth reach the point of joining the adults in worship, these youth are bored with the worship service. Therefore the adults feel pressure to make the service more “interesting” with jazzier music, drama, a “worship band”, and other entertainment. I have noticed that when families visit our church, their teenage children rarely sing. In fact, even the adults rarely sing. This lack of singing seems to have very little to do with the type of music and more with the “entertainment mentality” that permeates Christian ministry.
Adults, teens, and children are motivated about attending exciting and fun ministries, but are strangely less excited and motivated about attending a simple prayer meeting. What does that tell us about ourselves and our churches? What are we really teaching the next generation?
Teenagers, and even young children, need to be entertained less and learn how to pray by watching and listening to adults pray. Yes, I know that youth-oriented programs have prayer times with the youth. And that emphasis is certainly beneficial. But those prayer times are with others of their own age, which of course is appropriate. Praying with people who are the same age as yourself is helpful. But we also need to pray with people who are older than we are. All of us can benefit from the years of praying experience which older believers bring to prayer time. And older Christians need the experience of praying with those who are younger than they are. Praying with younger believers can give a freshness to our own praying and help us understand their needs.
I suspect that one reason churches have shifted to more activity during the week and less prayer time is the desire to “reach” young people with the gospel and increase numerical attendance. This is certainly a worthwhile goal. But should we sacrifice prayer meeting in order to accomplish this goal?
The next generation of Christians will not know how to pray nor have the same desire to pray as previous generations because we have emphasized activities over prayer time. The future Christian church will be weaker and unprepared for the difficult times ahead.
Yes, many Fundamental churches have large attendance for these mid-week activities. And these ministries have their place. But are we so focused on achieving large numbers and “reaching” young people that we have forgotten one very important ministry: all of us praying together?
As we lament our culture’s rapid movement away from Biblical morality and influence, I find it strange that our churches are praying less. As individuals and small groups have their prayer time, the time for the entire church to pray together is disappearing. The very time we need our churches praying is the very time our churches are not praying.
Accessed at http://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2014/02/05/a-plea-for-prayer-meeting/, February 7, 2014.
God made you so that you would glorify him with your entire life. He gave you a mind to think like him; emotions, desires, and affections to long for and appreciate what he does; and a will to consciously choose those things that he would choose. Your thoughts, desires, affections, actions, and plans should be thoroughly Christ-like (see for example, 1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17, 23; 1 Pet 4:11; Rev 4:11).
You don’t have to figure out on your own how exactly to glorify God with your life—he has told you in the Bible! If you’re not a Christian, God’s will for you right now is to glorify Him by repenting of your sin and self-righteousness and trust in Christ alone.
If you are a Christian, God’s will for you is to always be like Jesus Christ, regardless of your age or gender, roles or responsibilities (Rom 8:29). Growing more like Christ and less like this world doesn’t happen overnight—it is a lifetime effort! As you grow in your understanding of what is involved in living like Christ, setting specific goals can really help you with this.
A goal is an end or target that you work towards. Remember, everything you do should glorify God; you learn what glorifies God in the Bible; Christians glorify God by living thoroughly Christ-like lives; so every “goal” must aim toward being like Jesus Christ.
If you’re a member of Orwell Bible Church, our church covenant helpfully spells out the “basics” of what it means to be a Christian. Use this as a starting point to evaluate your life—if there are areas you know that growth and change are needed, set some goals to grow more like Christ in that area (see below for examples).
Always remember that you don’t have the strength and ability in yourself to grow more like Christ—rely on the Lord, continually ask him for help, and share some of your goals with other church members so they can encourage and pray for you.
Also remember that growing more like Christ doesn’t happen automatically—you must discipline yourself to “consider the members of your earthly body as dead” and to “put on” the various characteristics and qualities of Jesus Christ (Col 3:5–17). Remember what Jesus said—“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Some Suggested Goals Based on OBC’s Church Covenant
- Use our Daily Devotional every day to help with daily Bible reading and prayer
- Pray and plan to share the gospel in some way with at least one person a week
- Attend more weekly services regularly
- Take your wife out on a “date” once a week
- Have family devotions
- Have your neighbors over for dinner or coffee
- Help an elderly neighbor with something
- Ask Pastor what to study to learn Christian doctrine better
- Memorize passages from our doctrinal statement
- Take weekly sermon notes and study/apply them on Sunday afternoons
- Be at Lord’s Supper every month
- Pray daily for fellow church members
- Sit by a different church member every week during our fellowship lunch
- Increase your giving
- Memorize passages about the “tongue”
- Study all the “one another” passages in the NT
- “Touch” a church member once a week by a phone call, letter, email, or personal visit
- Study every passage of our church covenant, writing down how each one teaches the point in the covenant