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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gleanings from Daniel [19]

danielsvisionGod Answers Prayer (Daniel 9:20-24)

I have come to Daniel chapter 9 and the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel. I provided a brief introduction to the particulars some may wish to visit in order to get an overview of the two basic interpretative approaches to the prophecy.

The first portion of Daniel 9 finds the prophet Daniel contemplating Jeremiah 25:11, 12 where Jeremiah spoke of Israel going into captivity for 70 years. Daniel realized those 70 years were coming to a completion and so was moved to pray on behalf of his people, specifically that Israel would experience a restoration. The one important note about Daniel's prayer: It is filled with Scripture. Daniel's mind is saturated in the promises and the certainty of God's revelation. His prayer confidently brings those revealed truths to God.

We considered Daniel's prayer, so now we turn our attention to the answer he receives. The answer comes in the revelation of God's continued purpose for Israel as spoken from the mouth of the angel Gabriel. The answer the angel supplies provides us with some of the most problematic verses in all of Scripture, verses 24-28. In fact, how one understands the unfolding of these verses shapes how one understands the unfolding of later, biblical prophecy, particularly Christ's words on the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation.

I. The Answer Delivered (20-23)

It is while Daniel is still making supplication to God that an answer to his prayer is sent. That word should be an encouragement, because it demonstrates how God cares for His saints. Note also that Daniel was confessing his sin. Meaning that Daniel was just like us with his personal struggles and temptations.

The Deliverer: While Daniel prayed, the angel Gabriel came. He is called a "man" because he came in the appearance of a man. Angels typically appear as men in the Bible, for example Genesis 19. Gabriel seems to be appointed as the chief angel for communication, especially Messianic revelation. For example, he appeared to Zechariah, John the Baptist's father and Mary the mother of Jesus in Luke 1.

He comes to Daniel to relay a message. Daniel says that Gabriel was "caused to fly swiftly." Some study Bibles may have a marginal note here in the text that reads, "wearied in my weariness." The Hebrew phrase, depending upon which stem of the Hebrew is used, can be rendered "to fly" or "to faint." The language suggests that it is the idea of weariness rather than swift flying. The point being that Gabriel came to Daniel at a point of extreme weariness during his fasting and praying.

The Message: Gabriel informs Daniel that he had been sent to "give Daniel understanding." The "skill to understand" carries the idea of imparting spiritual wisdom. The phrase speaks to the Spirit of God opening one's mind to understand spiritual truth. Additionally, Gabriel states he was dispatched at the moment of Daniel's praying. God, then, had anticipated Daniel's request before he even started praying.

II. The Answer Detailed (24)

Gabriel calls Daniel to consider the matter and understand the vision. This is what the vision is about:

Seventy weeks are determined. The answer centers around what the angel describes as 70 weeks, what could literally be translated as "seventy sevens." The question then is: seventy seven of what?

Seeing that Daniel was reading Jeremiah 25:11, 12 and possibly 29:10 ff., I believe what is in mind are the seven years from Sabbath rest to Sabbath rest the people of Israel were to give to the land as outlined in Leviticus 25. Consider for example Jeremiah 25:11, which states, And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. The desolation is related to the land. The only land that can be in mind here is the Promise Land of Israel. 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21 elaborates upon the concept of the 70 year captivity and the Sabbath years in Israel: And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath to fulfill seventy years.

I will discuss the Sabbath years in a later post, but for now, I believe it is clear that one "week" of years equates 7 years as it relates to the Sabbatical rest for the land. Hence, the seventy sevens would be 70 periods of 7 years, or equal 490 years.

These 490 years have been been determined or decreed. This particular word for "decreed" is only found here and it means "to cut, determine, divide." The idea for these "490" years is a determined, prophetic destiny. The question however is what exactly are these years determined for? The angel tells Daniel: for the people and the Holy City. It is at this point where the disagreement between various eschatological camps tends to begin when interpreting this passage.

Those of an amillennial/postmillennial perspective believe the greater understanding of "people and the Holy City" is all of God's redeemed throughout the history of redemption. What would be considered the "remnant" of believers. E.J Young is representative of this view when he writes in his commentary on Daniel,

It is true that the primary reference is to Israel after the flesh, and the historical Jerusalem, but since this very verse describes the Messianic work, it also refers to the true people of God, those who will benefit because of the things herein described.

But it is fairly clear from passages like Nehemiah 11:1, 18; Isaiah 48:2, 52:11, and even Matthew 4:5, that the "people and the Holy City" are the Jews and Jerusalem. A spiritual dimension pointing to a spiritual "remnant" transcending both the OT and the NT is not in view here. It is the Jews in captivity, the nation of Israel, and the real, geographical Jerusalem.

The purpose of the seventy sevens is further defined by six statements. The six statements are broken into two groups: The first group is made up of two word units in Hebrew. The second group, three word phrases. The first group has to do with Israel's sin, where as the second group has to do with God's righteousness.

The First Set:
1) To finish transgression: "Finish" has the meaning of "to end” or “accomplish". The word transgression is definite. It is THE transgression, thus a specific transgression. In this case, I believe Israel's rebellion against their covenant with God.

2) To put an end to sin: "To put an end to" means what it says, to end. What is ended is sin, or what is defined as revolting against authority. In the case of Israel, God's covenant authority over them.

3) To atone for wickedness: "to atone" simply has the idea of biblical atonement which is "to cover over wickedness" or iniquity.

The Second Set:
4) To bring in everlasting righteousness: Everlasting or eternal. In other words, never-ending righteousness.

5) To seal up vision and prophecy: "Seal up" means to "close a document." The idea could mean that it is the consummation of all divine revelation and prophecy. It closes because God has finished or fulfilled what was necessary to reveal His purposes.

6) To anoint the Most Holy: "Anoint" speaks of consecration. "The Most Holy” or what is understood as, the temple in Jerusalem. Some take this to mean when Jesus Christ finished the work on the Cross and founded the ministry of the NT Church. But Most Holy is reserved for the Temple, not a person.

Each of these infinitives answers exactly what Daniel prays in 9:5, 7. His prayer had to do with Israel's sin and God's righteousness. God's answers by providing a revelation of how He will accomplish His answer to Daniel as His purposes lead up to the coming of their Messiah, the ultimate deliverer from sin and rebellion.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Darrin said...

Fred-

Do you have typos in your post? "The answered delivered"? Also, how does Matthew 9:4 apply?

BTW, I think Nehemiah 11:1, 18; Isaiah 48:2, 52:11 are weak prooftexts that the people of God are strictly the Jews. Jerusalem is the holy city, but even in the OT, there were Gentiles considered to be people of God. For instance, Noah and Abraham are pre-Israel. Jesus pointed out two Gentiles to the Jews whose faith put the whole nation of Israel to shame, Luke 4:25-27.

Certainly the context of Daniel 9:24-27 lends itself to an interpretation of the rebuilding of the Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem. I just dislike dispensational exptrapolations for terms like "the people of God".

Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

4:58 PM, January 24, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks for the corrections. I had in mind Matthew 4:5, not 9:4. I am pulling from my handwritten notes, so I must have scribbled down the wrong passage.

You write,
I think Nehemiah 11:1, 18; Isaiah 48:2, 52:11 are weak prooftexts that the people of God are strictly the Jews.

Why? In the vision, who is the immediate referents to the "people and the Holy City?" Why would it be anything other than Israel and Jerusalem?

Continuing,
Certainly the context of Daniel 9:24-27 lends itself to an interpretation of the rebuilding of the Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem. I just dislike dispensational exptrapolations for terms like "the people of God".

My concern is with the text. Interpreting the "people of God" especially when it is coupled with the Holy City, as anything put what the text so plainly means is introducing a foreign element into the passage that is unwarranted. You may dislike "dispensational extrapolations" as you state, but if such a dislike lends itself to a point of view unsupported by the passage, you're bringing in baggage that will only become problematic.

6:47 PM, January 24, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

I have been studying the dating of these weeks do you agree with Hoehners work?

3:13 PM, February 05, 2011  

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