Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2- Preparation, Prayer, Prophecy, And The Plan

December 2, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Daniel 9:1-11:1; 1 John 2:18-3:6;
Psalm 121:1-8; Proverbs 28:27-28

Daniel 9:1-11:1

We've been getting to know Daniel for the past days and we have learned that as a teenager he was set aside by the king of Babylon to be an adviser to the king because he was good looking and intelligent.  As we have watched this man grow, we have also seen that he is wise and chosen by God for important work.  Today, we get some insight into how Daniel became so wise.  We see that his gift of intelligence is exercised by reading and studying God's Word. 


As our reading begins, Daniel has been studying the Word of God.  Remember that one of the main jobs of God's chosen people, the Jews, was to provide the Holy Scriptures to the world.  It is through the nation of Israel that God's story is revealed.  Daniel is a man of faith, who understands that in order to realize God's purposes for all of mankind and all of history, he must study the Scriptures.  Today, he has been studying the writings of the prophet Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah's prophecy, Daniel sees that the Israelites were to be in captivity for seventy years.  You may remember that we are told in 2 Chronicles 36:21 that Israel would go into captivity for seventy years in order to give the land the Sabbath rests that the Jews neglected to give it for 490 years.  The seventy is 7 sets of 70 year periods.  God had commanded that every seventh year, the Jews were to allow the land to lay fallow and not plant it.  This mirrored God's rest day in creation and foreshadows the rest from work to please God that we receive in Christ. They had neglected the Sabbath rests of the land and the Year of Jubilee, which was to be celebrated every 50th year.


Daniel is making connections with regards to what this all means for the Israelites.  He is prompted to pray fervently for Israel to be forgiven of their sins, for himself to be forgiven of his personal sins, and for God to resolve His relationship with Israel after this time of captivity and restore the city of Jerusalem, send the Messiah, solve the problem of sin in the world, and set up his earthly kingdom.  Wow.  Daniel believes that God's punishment for Israel's disobedience and rejection has been completed in this seventy year period. Studying God's Word leads to fervent prayer for God to act upon His promises.  Is this true of you when you study God's Word?


His fervent prayer results in an immediate visit from the angel Gabriel.  God needs to clarify for Daniel that the seventy years of captivity is not the end of Israel's time of punishment and indignation.  There is actually going to be seventy sevens before the end of the story.  Israel's future earthly kingdom will not come until a much longer period of history has passed.  Daniel is much loved by God.  This amazing man of faith is given the keys to the future.  He is told details about the kingdoms that will rule during this time of the Gentiles.  He is told that the Messiah will die and appear to have not accomplished anything.  He is told that a vicious world leader, who is an Antichrist, will make the Temple desolate during a time of great suffering for the Jews and the inhabitants of the earth, and after these things, Christ will return and set up his earthly kingdom and create a kingdom that will last forever.  Amazing.  Let's look at some details.

The Plan:

In Daniel 9:24, Daniel is given the information that for the Jews (your people and the holy city) there will be seventy sets of seven before the following things are accomplished:
  • The rebellion is put down. This refers to Israel's rebellion against her God.
  • Put an end to sin. The national sins of Israel will be over.
  • Guilt for sin is atoned for. This is for Israel and Gentiles, through the death of Jesus.
  • Everlasting righteousness is received. Jesus returns to set up the earthly kingdom for the Jews.
  • This prophetic vision will be confirmed. All Scriptural prophecies fulfilled at this time.
  • The Most Holy Place will be anointed. God will dwell in the Holy of Holies in a restored Temple see Ezekiel 41-46
Daniel was hoping that the Messiah would enter the rebuilt Jerusalem after the seventy year captivity and the end of sin on earth would be realized through the Jewish Messiah, who would save all of Israel.  Daniel is about to learn that God has a broader plan.

Specifically, Daniel is told that seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven must pass from the time that a decree that Jerusalem be rebuilt is issued to when the Anointed One of Israel comes (verse 25).  Mathematically, that is 7 X 69 = 483 years. Let's talk about this.  The Jewish prophetic calendar was based on a 30 day month and a 360 day year.  This prophecy deals in segments of 7 year periods.  This is what the "sevens" is referring to.  In the year 445 B.C., Artaxerxes (during the 20th year of his reign, see Neh. 2:1-8) decreed that the city of Jerusalem be rebuilt.  Please note that there were a number of decrees that were given to have the Jews leave captivity and return to Jerusalem for rebuilding, but this second decree by Artaxerxes fits the calendar of prophecy that Daniel is given. 

With this decree, the first set of seven sevens takes us 49 years into the future to 397 B.C.  This would be where the Old Testament writings end with the book of Malachi and would fulfill the prophecy that  Jerusalem would be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, but under perilous times.  There were very perilous times for the Jews right up until the end of the Old Testament writing and even in the intertestamental years.  From Malachi to the time that Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey for His triumphal entry there will have been 62 sets of seven years or 434 more years.  So from the time that Jerusalem is rebuilt to the time that the Messiah enters Jerusalem is going to be 434 more years. This is a total of 483 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the arrival of the Jewish Messiah, also called the Anointed One.

One more way to look at it is that Daniel is given a look at the seventy weeks that make up the times of the Gentiles.  God is allowing Daniel to see that Israel's punishment is not finished with just the seventy years of captivity in Assyria and Babylon.  The prior dreams and visions of the metallic statue and the beasts that come forth from the sea laid out the story of the Gentile nations that would rule the earth until the Messiah comes back to set up an earthly kingdom for the Jews.  This vision of the seventy weeks explains the precise time that the Messiah will come for the first time.  The first 69 weeks (sets of seven years) strictly deals with Jerusalem being rebuilt and the Messiah coming to earth for the first time. 

Let's look at what Daniel is told about what happens once the Messiah comes.  In verse 26, Daniel is told that after that period of 483 years, the Anointed One is killed and appears to have accomplished nothing.  There you have it, folks!  The Jewish people were warned in advance that their Messiah would be killed the first time he came to earth. Daniel is told that a ruler will rise up and destroy the city of Jerusalem after the Messiah is killed.  This was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when Titus, the Roman, sacked Jerusalem.  We are now into the 70th seven or the 70th week of Daniel.  Some say that there is a gap of an unknown period of time before this last set of seven years occurs. What is a mystery to Daniel, the Jews, and to all of the earth's inhabitants is the knowledge about how long before the 70th week is going to occur. The 70th week is the 7 years of the Great Tribulation.  This Great Tribulation is the 70th seven/week that ushers in the Messiah's second coming.

The prophecy skips forward in time and in verses 26 and 27 Daniel is told about the last three years of the Great Tribulation and is given a description of the Antichrist's dealings and deception with the nation of Israel. Here are some specifics:
  • The end will come with a flood, and war, and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end.
  • He (the Antichrist/world leader at the time) will make a treaty with the people (Israel) for one set of seven (seven year period).
  • But after half the time (3 1/2 years),  as a climax to all of his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler.
Daniel is being shown that the Antichrist will make a deal with Israel for the seven year period of the Great Tribulation that he reneges on after 3 1/2 years.  He sets up an idol of himself in the restored Temple and requires that all people on earth worship him.  We will study this further in the book of Revelation.  This is allowed by God for a time as part of the indignation and punishment of the nation of Israel, but in the end, God will put an end to this defiler and restore the nation of Israel, as promised to the prophets of old.

Another Vision:

Daniel had a vision that came to him after he had spent three weeks in mourning.  He was aware of God's future plans of hardship and trial for his people.  In this vision, Daniel sees Christ, himself. Christ comes to warn Daniel about war.  Not just war on earth, but the heavenly wars that will go on to bring about God's kingdom on earth.  This vision is reminiscent of Paul's Damascus road experience. Daniel has companions with him, but they do not see Christ. When Daniel sees Christ, he faints. Daniel is revived and is told that he is greatly loved by God and that he must stand up and listen. He is also told to not fear and to be strong.

The next section is quite remarkable because this part of the vision explains to Daniel that there is a hierarchy of angels, who participate in warfare that goes on between evil angels/demons and good angels.  Daniel learns that the nation of Israel has an archangel assigned for their protection whose name is Michael.  Here is the hierarchy of the angelic realm as described by the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians 6:12:
  • Thrones- archangels like Michael and Gabriel
  • Dominions- are cherubim and seraphim
  • Principalities, which are the generals of the hosts of angels
  • Powers- they are the privates or low ranking angels and serve as guardian angels (Hebrews 1:4)
God's angels are organized and Satan's fallen angels are also organized.  These two groups are in constant warfare over the souls of men, and specifically, over the survival of the nation of Israel.

Daniel learns that there has been spiritual warfare between God's angels and the powerful demon angels, who are called the princes of Persia and Greece.  These princes of Persia and Greece are warrior demons, who spiritually influence the unbelievers of earth dominating during the "times of the Gentiles" in human history. Christ tells Daniel that he has relied on the help of Michael, Israel's archangel, to get through and get this message to Daniel.  What an amazing revelation.  Preincarnate Jesus is seen in the book of Exodus and in the book of Joshua fighting as the Commander for Israel as they approach the Promised Land.  Here we see that Jesus fights in heaven for the preservation of Israel during the "times of the Gentiles," prior to his coming to earth. It should not surprise us that Jesus chooses to work in cooperation with the arch angel Michael to preserve the nation of Israel.  Jesus works in cooperation with his Church on earth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring salvation to individuals.  Jesus fights for the preservation of his holy ones throughout history. He works through you and me to draw people to himself.  This is the nature of our God.  He is relational.  He is a team player.  He is the author of community. He is a warrior for our souls.  He is the Commander and Chief of the universe.

We will read more from this message to Daniel tomorrow.

What do you make of all of this?  God is busy controlling the unseen forces in the universe and rolling forth His Story on earth.  Does this surprise you? 

1 John 2:18-3:6

John tells his listeners that the last hour is here.  Well, we just learned from Daniel that the last hour or the interlude before the final seven years is a long period of time.  John is correct in what he has said.  John confirms that the Church has been informed that the Antichrist is coming.  He also confirms that many antichrists exists and an antichrist is any person whose spirit rejects Jesus as Lord.

Believers are to remain faithful to the truth, even during this last period of earth's history.  Because the Holy Spirit is inside of the believer in Christ, the believer has a constant teacher of truth within themselves. Christ is returning to the earth again and John encourages believers to fellowship with Christ, so that they can have courage in the face of seeing the Lord and not feel shame in his presence.

God loves us so much that He considers us His children. John looks forward to seeing Christ as he really is at his second coming.  This is the vision that Daniel saw, Christ as he really is. Scripture promises that one day, we will be like him.

Is the Story starting to make sense to you?

Psalm 121:1-8

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life.

Proverbs 28:27-28

Care for the poor.  This is God's heart.

What are you noticing?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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