GOD’S CLOCK AND CALENDAR
Lord, the world stage belongs to You.
Read DANIEL 9:20–27
The Seventy “Sevens”
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:
24 “Seventy ‘sevens’[a] are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish[b] transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.[c]
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One,[d] the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.[e] The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’[f] In the middle of the ‘seven’[g] he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple[h] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.[i]”[j]
a Daniel 9:24 Or ‘weeks’; also in verses 25 and 26
b Daniel 9:24 Or restrain
c Daniel 9:24 Or the most holy One
d Daniel 9:25 Or an anointed one; also in verse 26
e Daniel 9:26 Or death and will have no one; or death, but not for himself
f Daniel 9:27 Or ‘week’
g Daniel 9:27 Or ‘week’
h Daniel 9:27 Septuagint and Theodotion; Hebrew wing
i Daniel 9:27 Or it
j Daniel 9:27 Or And one who causes desolation will come upon the wing of the abominable temple, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolated city
New International Version (NIV)
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The Lord says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come… My purpose will stand” (Isa. 46:10).
In answer to his prayers, Daniel receives a prophetic interpretation of history, brought by Gabriel, who arrives “about the time of the evening sacrifice” (21). There was of course no evening sacrifice in Babylon, nor in Jerusalem since the temple had been destroyed about fifty years previously. Daniel is still working on “Jerusalem time” (Dale Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, 124), setting his watch by God’s timetable, which prepares things effectively for God’s calendar in verses 24–27.
Gabriel’s message goes beyond the seventy years of exile: it entails “seventy ‘sevens’” (24) and their subdivisions (25–27). Many conflicting attempts have been made to correlate these with historical dates; the “Anointed One” (or “Messiah”; 25), the “ruler who will come” (26) and the “abomination” (27) have likewise been variously identified. Perhaps these oracles can be applied to several historical situations. For example, the “abomination that causes desolation” could be applied to Antiochus’s desecration of the temple in 167 B.C. and also to a later event predicted by Jesus (Matt. 24:15). These words of Jesus could perhaps be applied both to the Roman sacking of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and to events nearer to Jesus’ return. The practical application for Christians, whatever our historical setting, is that God’s clock is ticking, the pages of his calendar are turning, and ultimately we will see his purposes fulfilled in world history, possibly in our lifetime.
Before hearing the complexities of the oracle of the “sevens,” Daniel is privileged to hear from God that he is “highly esteemed” (23), or “greatly beloved” (NRSV). In the complicated and challenging scenarios on the world stage and in our own experience of life, our primary need is to hear this too. Many Christians have found that, when they give time in prayer for God to speak, what he says first is “You are deeply loved” (Dale Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, 123,125).
What “insight and understanding” (22) have you gained from Daniel chapters 1–9? How will these affect your life?
Lord, give me understanding regarding some of the deeper things of God, especially in prophetic statements and how they will unfold.