The Answer

Sovereignty in Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Last week we looked at Daniel’s prayer. I was a prayer of confession given to God in preparation for the end of the 70 year captivity.
Daniel is either in his late 70s or early 80s during this time. In his stately prayer he articulates Judah’s sin and includes himself in the confession. When he did that, he underscored the connectional aspect of the covenant community, a connection The Elect continues to enjoy.
Notice Judah’s sin:
We have sinned; the Hebrew word hattaimplies going the wrong way a headlong trek away from God; done wrong: awôn implies perversion, a lifestyle which is not pleasing to God, summed up in the English ‘we have done wrong’. We have been wicked is the word rasa and implies guilt and thus deserved punishment; we have rebelled: marad is a word which implies rebellion against a legitimate sovereign. We have turned away: sur is the regular word for apostasy. Israel had been comprehensively faithless to the covenant. This could only be healed by a comprehensive turning back to God which involved a wholehearted turning back to the Word of God.[1]
We also discovered that Christ answers these destructive patterns with His faithfulness:
Because of Christ:
God’s anger was turned from us and onto Christ (1 John 4:10, ESV)
We are called children of God; once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy: (1 Peter 2:9–10, ESV)
God’s face continually shines on us… “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…” (1 John 3:1–4, ESV)
This morning we will discover God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer.
Before we get to the answer, let me say that Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most contested passages in the bible. We sent you an addendum with the outline that summarizes four views concerning this passage. In my sermon you will discover that I agree with the one particular view, with the exception of what it says about the last week. I provided as a tool that can assist you in your own study.
I publish my sermons on Faithlife. If you are reading this sermon on the Faithlife sermons, the addendum appears at the end of this written copy.
I invite you to turn in your bibles to your text, Daniel 9:20-27.
Shall we pray?
Almighty God and Loving Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for speaking through Daniel this morning. As we consider this text, we also pray you speak to us through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to see Christ in this text.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

I. The Answer (Daniel 9:20-23)

One of the first things we notice is the answer is on the way before Daniel finishes his prayer.
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God,” (Daniel 9:20, ESV)
As one commentator put it, “[t]his underlines the sovereignty of God and refutes any idea that Daniel’s prayer may have forced his hand. Yet the prayer was necessary because without it Daniel would not have been spiritually ready to receive the answer.[2]
God’s answer was not formed through Daniel’s prayer. God decided to communicate his sovereign acts within the occasion of Daniel’s prayer.
God sends his special messenger. You may have noticed in one of my last sermons, I incorrectly identified the two named angels as Gabriel and Daniel. They are actually Gabriel and Michael.
We know this about Gabriel. He appears only a few times in Scripture; ministering to Daniel in chapters 8 and here in chapter 9; and finally, when he announced the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in Luke 1:19, 26-33.[3]
God reserves Gabriel for special occasions. This occasion is to point Daniel to a deliverance that far exceeds release from their present captivity. Gabriel announces release from spiritual captivity.
Notice what Gabriel says to Daniel.
He came to give Daniel insight and understanding.
When you look at Daniel 1:17, we learn that Daniel already had “understanding in all visions and dreams”. We discover though that for the visions of the four beasts and the Ram and the Goat he needed help with the interpretation.
We know that these dreams occurred later in Daniel’s life and caused him to be troubled.
There’s no explanation why Daniel was able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar’s dreams not these. What matters is the care God showed Daniel. God did not shame Daniel because he couldn’t understand, he sent Gabriel to provide comfort and encouragement.
Notice the special message Gabriel gave Daniel, “you are greatly loved”.
The text is not clear on every thing that is happening in Daniel’s life, but because chapters 8 and 6 are during the same time period, we know:
1. Daniel is one of 120 leaders in the kingdom and the others were jealous of him.
2. Daniel was sentence to death due to his efforts to remain faithful in prayer.
In the midst of all these, Gabriel reminds Daniel that in spite of all these things, he is greatly loved.
How many times have we thought that when things are going well, we are enjoying the benefits of God’s love? And when things are not going well, God’s love for us is not as strong?
Gabriel teaches us that God’s love is not depended on circumstance, but on his character.
Now, let’s turn to the 70 weeks and the Anointed.

II. The Anointed (Daniel 9:24-27)

You will recognize in my prayer that I have a bias to the way I see this text. My bias is because of two reasons:
I believe this was one of the texts that Luke referred to when he said Jesus was speaking to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27, ESV)
I think verse 24 points to Jesus; “finish the transgression, put an end to sin, etc.”
Since I’ve already provided the supplemental information, let me briefly outline what I think about these 70 weeks.
I think they are not symbolic. I think they are unified. There is no gap between the 69 and 70th week.
I think the events begin because of one anointed and concludes through the ministry of another anointed one.
The first seven sevens (49 years) begin with the command to rebuild the temple. This event was started because Cyrus, the first anointed was used by God to begin the process.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lordby the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lordhis God be with him. Let him go up.’ ”” (2 Chronicles 36:22–23, ESV)
And concludes, 49 years later with the completion of the construction of the Temple.
The next 62 years extends from the completion of the second temple to Christ’s baptism.
The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition b. Commencement of Jesus’ Ministry

If Jesus was born in the spring or summer of 5 BC and was baptized in the summer or autumn of AD 29, he would have been around 33 years of age.

The last seven years refer to the passion week culminating on the death of Jesus Christ. I think the Hebrew words translated “make a strong covenant” means “confirm a covenant” which Christ did when he instituted the LORD’s supper.
I think it is significant that Gabriel came at the time of the evening sacrifice. There was no temple so there was no offer of sacrifice. Yet as one commentary puts it, “ the realities behind these sacrifices remained and, more profoundly” [4] this points to an the ultimate sacrifice which Christ will offer.
I think the outcome of what is to occur within these 70 weeks describes the ultimate deliverance that Christ brings.
All of these point to a finished act, some of which are not actually finished. This is not a problem from a biblical perspective, the already and not yet is a part of our salvation. For example: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29–30, ESV)
We are justified, but our glorification will occur later. However, in verse 30, it is so certain it is as if we are already glorified.
Finish the transgression.
The finish of transgression is found in the Second Adam whose ended the curse of the first transgression. Romans 5:14-21
Put an end to sin.
Christ through his death has started the process that will culminate in the final end of sin at his second return, listen to 1 Corinthians 15: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:22–26, ESV)
Bring in everlasting righteousness.
Christ, the is the mediator of the new covenant. Hebrews 9 reads: “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:11–15, ESV)
Anoint a most holy place.
I think this refers to what Christ indicated when he said “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise this “ (John 2:19). Jesus was referring to the sanctifying effect of his resurrection, a point the disciples got after he was raised from the dead.
I think Paul makes this point when he identifies the new anointed temple: “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV)
Or when Paul spoke against divisions in the church he said: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17, ESV)
When we sang “Rescue” we said:
“You are not hidden There's never been a moment You were forgotten You are not hopeless Though you have been broken Your innocence stolen
I hear you whisper underneath your breath I hear your SOS, your SOS
I will send out an army to find you In the middle of the darkest night It's true, I will rescue you”[5]
I remind you, you are still loved by God. Because of this love, God has rescued us through the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ!
Shall we pray?
Almighty God and Loving Father, with the Apostle John we are amazed that we are called children of God. Let what we’ve heard this morning encourage us to live in a way worthy of your calling in our lives. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Here are the four views:
1. They are literal years extending through the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to this view, the “sevens” or “weeks” are made up of seven years each, resulting in a total period of 490 years (seventy times seven). The “decree” (or “word”) of v. 25 is said to allude to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the seventy years of captivity (Jer 25:1, 11) that was delivered in 605 b.c.26 Although the text begins the seventy sevens with this “decree,” those who hold this view inconsistently hold that the “sevens” commence in 586 b.c., the date of Jerusalem’s fall (in order to make the timetable work correctly).27 The termination of the sevens is understood to be the end of Antiochus’s persecution (either the cleansing of the temple in 164 b.c. or Antiochus’s death in 163 b.c.28), at which time the kingdom of God supposedly would come upon the earth, an event that obviously did not take place. Although this period of time is far short of 490 years, about sixty-five years, Montgomery declares, “We can meet this objection only by surmising a chronological miscalculation on the part of the writer.”29
Daniel divided the seventy sevens into three groups, seven sevens, sixty-two sevens, and a final seven. The first seven sevens was supposed to extend from Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 539/538 b.c., the time of Babylon’s fall, the release of the Jewish exiles by Cyrus, and the anointed one, who most consider to be Joshua the high priest (associated with Zerubbabel, the civil leader at the return; cf. Ezra 2:2; 3:2; 5:2; Zech 3:1; 6:11).30
The next sixty-two sevens encompass the time from Joshua to the death of another “Anointed One,” the high priest Onias III (170 b.c.).31 Antiochus’s persecution is the subject of the last seven, a period that extended from 170–163 b.c.32Yet Antiochus did not stop the sacrifice for a full three and one-half years (half of the seven; 9:27) but for only a little more than three years.
None of the variations of this view really satisfy the requirements of the biblical text. The “decree” to rebuild Jerusalem would most logically refer to a decree of a king, not Jeremiah’s prophecy, which does not speak of rebuilding p 254 the city (acknowledged by Towner)33 but simply announces that the captivity will last seventy years. According to this view, the total number of years in the seventy sevens is incorrect. It is difficult to believe that the writer could have been so historically uninformed that he would lose track of over half a century (sixty-seven years). An interpretation that creates a historical inaccuracy should be rejected, at least if another reasonable one can be found. This view also understands that the writer of this passage mistakenly predicted the coming of the Lord in his day, alleged to be the time of Antiochus IV.
2. The “seventy sevens” are symbolic periods of time ending in the first century a.d. Young holds that the first period of seven sevens extends from Cyrus’s decree allowing the return of the Jewish exiles in 538 the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, approximately 440–400 b.c. The next sixty-two sevens stretch from about 400 b.c. until the first advent of Christ; the last seven continues from the first advent until an unspecified point sometime after Christ’s earthly ministry but before the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70.34
This view presents several problems. (1) A “seven” is best interpreted to represent seven years, not an indefinite period of time (see discussion of the p 255 term “seven” at 9:24). (2) The sevens vary greatly in length within each period. For example, in the first period (538–400 b.c.) each of the seven sevens are about twenty years in duration, whereas in the second period (400 b.c. to first century a.d.) each of the sixty-two sevens is only about six years in length. Even if the sevens are symbolic, we would expect them to be fairly similar in length. (3) Young places the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d.70 (v. 26) after (rather than during) the seventy sevens. Yet v. 26 seems to place Jerusalem’s destruction after the sixty-nine weeks but before the seventieth week in v. 27. (4) Only a strained interpretation of v. 24 sees its complete fulfillment in Christ’s first advent.35
3. They are symbolic periods of time ending at Christ’s second coming. Keil,36 Leupold,37 and others espouse an alternative symbolic view. The seventy sevens are a prophecy of church history (both the Old Testament and the New Testament church) from Cyrus’s decree in 538 b.c. until the return of Christ at the end of the age.
According to this interpretation, the first seven sevens extend from Cyrus’s decree in 538 b.c.until the coming of Christ (the Anointed One) in the first century a.d., a period of about 550 years.38The next sixty-two sevens span the time from Christ to the persecution of the church by the Antichrist at the end of the age. During this time (at least two thousand years), the city (spiritual Jerusalem, the church) will be built even “in times of trouble.”39
Events in vv. 26 and 27 occur in the last seven.40“The Anointed One p 256 will be cut off and have nothing” does not mean that the Messiah will be put to death but speaks of the attack upon Christ and his church at the end when Christ will have “lost His place and function as the Maschiach.”41 Leupold expresses it this way, “As far as the world is concerned, Messiah shall be a dead issue.”42The “ruler” (vv. 26–27) is the Antichrist,43 who will destroy the city and sanctuary (spiritual Jerusalem and the temple of God, i.e., the church) and stop all organized worship.44 Leupold remarks that the visible aspects of the church (“organized religion and worship as offered by the church of the Lord”) “shall be destroyed and with them the influence of the Christ that we now still know and feel to be abroad in the earth.”45 These conditions will continue until judgment is poured out upon the Antichrist at the coming of the Lord.
There are a number of problems with this view. (1) It is extremely subjective and varies greatly from other interpretations. (2) A glaring problem is the inconsistency of interpreting literally the building of the city as it relates to Cyrus’s decree but figuratively the building of the city as the church (spiritual Jerusalem) later in the same verse (v. 25).46(3) Another significant deficiency is the idea that Christ and his church will be defeated during the last days. According to Scripture (e.g., Matt 24:14; Rev 11:1ff.), Christ will always have his witnesses, and huge numbers of persons will receive the gospel message in the period just prior to Christ’s return. (4) The sevens are more unevenly distributed here than in the previously noted version of the symbolic view. In the first group of sevens, each seven would cover a period of almost eighty years (538 the first century a.d.). The second period contains sevens of over thirty years each (first century a.d. to at least the present), and the length of the final seven is unknown.
Baldwin also understands the seventy sevens to be symbolic periods that extend from Cyrus’s decree to the second coming of Christ, but like Young she believes the p 257 sixty-nine sevens conclude with the first coming of Christ,47 which is a far better interpretation than that of Leupold and Keil. But the final seven extends from the first century until the end, which results in one seven lasting up to two thousand years, rendering the sevens even more disproportionate than those of Keil or Young. Even with this latter problem, Baldwin’s view is the best of the symbolic interpretations since the first sixty-nine sevens appear clearly to conclude during Christ’s first advent and the final seven is terminated by his second advent.
4. They are literal years ending with Christ’s second coming. This view agrees with the first that the sevens are literal seven-year periods totaling 490 years. The first seven sevens (forty-nine years) commence with a command to rebuild Jerusalem (either the decree to Ezra in 458 b.c. or the decree to Nehemiah in 445 b.c.) and terminate with the completion of the work of Ezra and Nehemiah about forty-nine years later (either ca. 409 b.c. or ca. 396 b.c.). The next sixty-two sevens (434 years) extend from the end of the first group of sevens to Christ’s first coming (either his baptism in a.d. 26 or Christ’s presentation of himself to the people as Messiah on Palm Sunday in a.d. 32/33).
After the coming of the Messiah, he was rejected by Israel; and the time of the Gentiles began, which is not counted in the “seventy sevens.” Just as God focused his attention on the Jewish people for about two thousand years, these past two thousand years his attention has been focused on the Gentiles. However, just as many Gentiles were saved during the Old Testament period, in this present age there are many Jewish believers. At the end of the present age, God will again deal with Israel in a special manner, and the final seven will begin.
During the last seven, which immediately precedes Christ’s second advent, there will be a terrible time of tribulation for Israel and the world. God will use this trial to bring Israel and countless others to saving faith. At that time the majority of the people in Israel will acknowledge Jesus as the promised Messiah, repent, and be saved (cf. Rom 11:25–29; Zech 12:10–13:1). The final seven (seven years) will be terminated by Christ’s second coming and the establishment of his earthly kingdom, which will last a thousand years. Christ’s reign will, of course, continue beyond the millennium into the eternal state. This last approach seems to be the most exegetically viable alternative.[6]
[1]Bob Fyall, Daniel: A Tale of Two Cities, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 135. [2]Bob Fyall, Daniel: A Tale of Two Cities, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 141. [3]Thomas J. Shepherd, The Westminster Bible Dictionary (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1880), 211. [4]Bob Fyall, Daniel: A Tale of Two Cities, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 141–142. [5]Daigle, Lauren “Rescue” from the album Look of Child released 2018. 26 Cf. Montgomery, Daniel, 378, 391–92. 27 While following the above approach, Montgomery acknowledges its inconsistency (Daniel, 392). Charles also allows that the date should in reality be either 604 [605] b.c. or 596 [597] b.c., the dates of Jeremiah’s two prophecies, but claims the author of Daniel, nevertheless, takes 586 b.c. as his starting point (Daniel, 196). 28 164 b.c., Montgomery, Daniel, 394; 163 b.c., Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, 250. 29 Montgomery, Daniel, 393; cf. Porteous, Daniel, 141; Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, 250. Lacocque attempts to solve the problem of the missing sixty-five years by posing a concurrent method of calculation (Daniel, 178, 195ff.). His explanation is unconvincing, and it is plain from the text that the seventy sevens run consecutively, not concurrently. 30 Montgomery says that three candidates for this anointed one have been proposed: Cyrus, Zerubbabel, and Joshua the high priest. He favors the latter identification (Daniel, 379, 392; also Porteous, Daniel, 142; Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, 251; Heaton, Daniel, 213). A serious problem with any of these three identifications is that according to the best understanding of the text, the “Anointed One” of v. 25 comes after a total of sixty-nine sevens (seven plus sixty-two sevens), not after the first seven sevens. Montgomery appeals to the Masoretic punctuation for support (Daniel, 379; also Keil, Daniel, 350, 356. The NRSV is one of the few translations to follow the Masoretic accentuation, but this cannot be definitive, for as Baldwin points out, the accentuation was not “part of the original text” (Daniel, 170). Keil acknowledges that this accentuation only reflects the Masoretic interpretation and notes that the use of the athnach“in and of itself decides nothing, since the Atnach does not always separate clauses, but frequently also shows only the point of rest within a clause” (Daniel, 356). Young correctly remarks that even if the Masoretic pointing is retained, it may only mean that the phrases “seven sevens” and “and sixty and two sevens” were not to be connected (Daniel, 205). Goldingay suggests that the MT “might be antimessianic” at this point (Daniel, 229). Furthermore, the rebuilding of Jerusalem is in view in the latter part of v. 25, not its continuance as Montgomery thinks (Daniel, 380), for it makes little sense to say that Jerusalem would be continually built over a period of 434 years (sixty-two sevens; cf. Goldingay, Daniel, 229). The last part of the verse also contains the fulfillment of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem that is given at the first of the verse. It is a historically correct description of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which was substantially complete by ca. 400 b.c. (cf. Nehemiah). See the argument by W. H. Shea based on the poetic structure of Dan 9:24–26a that the “Anointed One” of v. 25 comes after a total of sixty-nine sevens (“Poetic Relations of the Time Periods in Dan 9:25,” AUSS 18 [1980]: 59–63). 31 So Montgomery, Daniel, 381, 393; Porteous, Daniel, 141; Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, 252; Heaton, Daniel, 214; Goldingay, Daniel, 262. 32 Cf. Montgomery, Daniel, 393–94. 33 Towner, Daniel, 143. 34 Young, Daniel, 203ff. esp. 220–21. R. J. Rushdoony, a modern postmillennialist, also holds this view (Thy Kingdom Come [Fairfax, Va: Thoburn, 1978], 65–66). C. Boutflower (In and around the Book of Daniel [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1977], 168–170) takes basically the same approach as Young, but he begins the weeks with the decree of Artaxerxes I in 457 (Daniel, 185). A novel (but unconvincing) approach is that of D. H. Lurie, who begins the sevens with 538 b.c., as does Young, but takes the sevens to be multiples of seven years. These multiples may vary. For example, a seven may be fourteen years or seven years. In this manner he calculates that the first sixty-nine sevens ran from 538 6 b.c., the year in which he believes that Christ was born. The final seven is composed of ten years each, a total of seventy years, and extends from 6 a.d. 65, one year before the Jewish war against Rome began (“A New Interpretation of Daniel’s ‘Sevens’ and the Chronology of the Seventy ‘Sevens,’ ” JETS 33 [1990]: 303–9). 35 K. L. Barker, “Evidence from Daniel,” in A Case for Premillennialism, ed. D. K. Campbell and L. L. Townsend (Chicago: Moody, 1992), 143–46. 36 Keil, Daniel, 336ff., esp. 373ff. 37 Leupold, Daniel, 417ff. 38 A serious problem with this interpretation is that the best understanding of the text indicates that sixty-nine sevens, not seven sevens, will pass between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of the Anointed One. See further discussion in relation to the first view. 39 Cf. Leupold, Daniel, 424–25. 40 Cf. Keil, Daniel, 374. 41 Keil, Daniel, 360–62. 42 Leupold, Daniel, 427. 43 Keil, Daniel, 362. 44 Ibid., 360. 45 Leupold, Daniel, 428, 433. 46 Cf. Keil, Daniel, 352–53, 359. 47 Baldwin, Daniel, 168–72, 176–77. [6]Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 253–257.
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