(Daniel 9:24-27, Ezra 4 & 7)
Introduction: Last week, after studying Daniel's prayer that his people to be returned to their home and their sanctuary rebuilt, we learned that Gabriel came immediately to give Daniel an answer. An answer straight from the throne of God! We could not help it - we "peeked" ahead a few verses to see what Gabriel had to tell Daniel. This week we will revisit those same verses and then try to understand what they mean. Let's dive in!
- Interpreting the Vision
- Read Daniel 9:24. "Seventy `sevens'" is an odd term. What do you think a "seven" means? ("Seven" would logically refer to a week. A week has seven days. Thus, Gabriel is speaking about 70 weeks.)
- How long is seventy weeks? (Seventy weeks would be about a year and a third (1 1/3).
- Read Daniel 9:25. Who do you think is the "Anointed One?" (See Acts 10:37-38. This refers to the Messiah - Jesus.)
- Considering that the general time frame is from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, to the time of Jesus, could we be talking about a little over one year? (No. Just as in Daniel 8, these 70 weeks are clearly symbolic(1 day = 1 year). Thus, 70 times 7 (490 days)most likely means 490 years. This strengthens our prior conclusion that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 symbolizes 2,300 years.)
- Consider again Daniel 9:24-25. What happens during this 490 years? (Time is given to the Jewish people and Jerusalem to "finish transgression, put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness and to bring in everlasting righteousness.")
- How could the Jewish people put an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness? (They could not. This provides further evidence that the "Anointed One" is Jesus. Jesus guaranteed the end of sin and eternal life for the righteous.)
- Daniel 9:24, according to Strong's, uses the Hebrew word "chathak" which means "to cut off." The NIV translates this "decreed" and the KJV translates it "determined." Does that make any sense to you? (Consider this modern application: The boss "cuts off" further discussion when he decides (determines or decrees) what to do. Look a little deeper at this because there is another angle. Since Gabriel is explaining to Daniel what the 2,300 day ( Daniel 8:14) prophecy of Daniel 8 means, we can reasonably understand the "70 weeks" prophecy to be a part of ("cut off") the 2,300 day prophecy.)
- Read Daniel 9:26. What does it mean for the Anointed One to be "cut off?" (Sounds like death. Compare Genesis 9:11 and the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:8.)
- Let's look more closely at the numbers that we see in Daniel 9:24-27. How many time periods do you see? (Three. The total, 490 years (70x7) is found in verse 24. The first division of this is 49 years ("seven sevens") and is found in verse 25. The second division is 434 years (62x7) is found in verses 25-26. The last division is seven years ("one 'seven'") and is found in verse 27. Together these add up to 490 years or seventy "sevens".)
- What happens during the 49 years? (It appears this refers to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.)
- What happens at the end of the 483 years (49+434)? (The Anointed One comes ( Daniel 9:25). While there were three decrees to rebuild Jerusalem, the various commentaries have relatively small differences in the starting dates. The SDA Bible Commentary pegs the decree to rebuild at 458/457 B.C. (Artaxerxes decree. See Ezra 7:1-26.) Starting with 457 B.C., the 483 years brings us to 27 A.D. - the year of Jesus' baptism and the beginning of His public ministry.)
- What happens during the seven years? ( Daniel 9:26 tells us that after the 483 years the Anointed One will be "cut off" and Daniel 9:27 tells us that the Anointed One will put an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the "seven." Continuing with our time-line from 457 B.C. to 27 A.D., an additional 3-4 years (middle of the seven) brings us to 31 A.D. - the year of Jesus' crucifixion. Gabriel's description makes sense because Jesus' crucifixion ended the need for the animal sacrifices in the rebuilt sanctuary in Jerusalem.)
- How do you understand ( Daniel 9:27)the "confirm[ing]" of the covenant for the rest of the "seven?" (In Matthew 21:43-45 Jesus predicts that the kingdom of God will be taken away from the Jewish officials who rejected Him and given to others - which, as we see in Acts, included Gentiles. The SDA Bible Commentary notes that 34 A.D. (7 years after 27 A.D.) marked the stoning of Stephen and the beginning of sharing the gospel with Gentiles. See Acts 7&8.)
- How do you understand the Daniel 9:26 reference to destroying the "city and the sanctuary?" (Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the rebuilt sanctuary in 70 A.D. This fits the description of the "ruler who will come." Psalms 79:1 predicts that the temple will be "defiled" by those who reduce Jerusalem to rubble - thus fitting the "abomination that causes desolation.)
- How would you feel if you were Daniel hearing this message from Gabriel? (Just as I hear good news, I then hear terrible news. The sanctuary will be rebuilt and then destroyed again! Worse, the Messiah will be "cut off and will have nothing!" Argghh!)
- Building the Reality
- Read Ezra 7:1 and Ezra 7:6-7. What do we learn about Ezra? (He is a Bible scholar and teacher.)
- What was his relationship to the King Artaxerxes? (He had the king's favor because the king gave him everything he asked.)
- What was his relationship to God? (He also enjoyed the favor of God.)
- Read Ezra 7:8 What you think that Ezra had asked of King Artaxerxes? (To go back to Jerusalem and rebuild.)
- Read Ezra 7:11-19. What do you think is being referred to in verse 19 when it says "all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple?" (I think these are the articles for worship in the temple that had been taken by the Babylonians when they destroyed the temple. The temple furnishings are being returned.)
- Read Ezra 7:20-23. Do these verses actually say that they are rebuilding the temple? (Not exactly. Verse 23 authorizes them to do "with diligence for the temple of the God of Heaven," "whatever the God of Heaven has prescribed." One commentary (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testament) commented that "the commission related exclusively to the rebuilding of the temple and not the walls" of the city.)
- Read Ezra 4:6-8 and Ezra 4:11-12. What is the complaint? (The Jews are rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.)
- Read Ezra 4:13-16. What is the argument that Rehum is making? (That if the Jews rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem, they will rebel, defend the place and not pay taxes.)
- How does this tend to show that Artaxerxes issued a decree to rebuild the temple, rather than the walls of Jerusalem? (It shows that the Jews had authority to come and rebuild. Further, it reinforces the idea that their authority was to rebuild the temple, God's sanctuary, and not rebuild the walls of the city. That is ostensibly why Rehum is complaining to the authorities about what is going on in the rebuilding.)
- What does this show us about the accuracy of Daniel's vision? (This shows that the first phase of what Daniel saw in vision is being fulfilled.)
- Read Ezra 4:17-21. Does Rehum win?
- What, exactly, is the result? (Read Ezra 4:24. The building is stopped. By the way, according to Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, the Darius referred to in Ezra 4:24 is NOT the Darius the Mede of Daniel 5, 6 and 9.)
- Notice what actually was stopped. Was Rehum telling the truth? ( Ezra 4:24 says they stopped work on the temple. Thus, it appears that Rehum might have been saying that they were unlawfully rebuilding the walls of the city in order to get the rebuilding of the temple stopped.)
- When you have been doing God's work, have you ever had people lie about you?
- How do you feel, thousands of years later, to read Gabriel's interpretation of the vision? (It gives me additional proof that: a) God is in charge of history; b) Jesus was the predicted Messiah; and, since Jesus came the first time just as prophesied, c) That God will keep His word for Jesus' Second Coming!)
- The dates that I have given are subject to debate. Do you think this makes any difference? (Assume that the precise dates of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, Jesus' public ministry and His crucifixion are subject to debate. Moving these dates around a little bit does not change the incredible accuracy of Daniel's vision. Instead of being caught up in a debate over precise years, we can take confidence in the big picture of the amazing timing and accuracy of this 70 Week prophecy.)
- Friend, there is a God who knows the future and who knows your future. Will you serve Him with confidence?
- Next week: 1844 Made Simple.