Daniel received some extraordinary information in a discussion with the messenger, Gabriel, while in a season of prayer. It was the first year of the reign of Darius. Parenthetically, this Darius happened to be the uncle of Cyrus, the one who was used of God to send the remnant back to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity. Daniel had been reading the prophecy in Jeremiah that gave the duration of the punishment as 70 years. Perhaps he also read the writings of Isaiah who specifically mentioned that Cyrus would be used of God to loose the loins of kings (remember that knee-knocking experience of Belshazzar in chapter 5?) and to rebuild Jerusalem. I had the mistaken impression that Darius was the man who defeated Belshazzar when actually it was his nephew, Cyrus the Persian, who was the general that brought the era of Babylonian domination to an end. Darius then ruled. Cyrus followed him.
As an old man, Daniel realized that the 70 years would be completed within the coming decade. The anticipation drove him to his knees in confession of national and personal sin. He also petitioned for the city of Jerusalem and for the temple there. Seeing the situation of the people must have made him wonder just how God would accomplish this promise!
Does God issue any commands?
- In Daniel's prayer he acknowledges that as a people they had broken God's commandments as recorded in the law of Moses.
- The commandment came from God at the beginning of Daniel's prayer for Gabriel to go to Daniel and explain coming events.
Does God make any promises?
- Many things would be accomplished within 70 "weeks" of years (70 x 7 = 490). These included finishing the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
- God promised that from the time of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until the time that the Messiah was cut off would be 69 weeks (69 x 7 = 483). This was accomplished as counted from the time of Nehemiah to the crucifixion. (The prophecy is further broken down. Part of it happened in the first 7 weeks (7 x 7) and the rest of it occurred in the latter 62 weeks (62 x 7). This leaves 1 week yet to be fulfilled when the prince of this world will make a covenant with Israel then will perform desolation in Jerusalem as mentioned in chapter 8. (7 x 1 = 7, which is the time that many describe as the Great Tribulation.)
Does this chapter teach anything about Jesus?
- Jesus is the Most Holy.
- Jesus is the Messiah that was cut off, but not for himself. (The disciples of Jesus must not have paid any attention to that whole being "cut off" part of Daniel's prophecy since they thought Jesus was going to establish the Kingdom during His first advent. That is why they kept asking Him, "Are you going to restore the kingdom now?" Or, "When exactly will it be then?" Remember that even on the road to Emmaus those disciples grieved that the man they thought to be the Messiah who would establish the kingdom had been recently crucified!)
- Jesus is the only way that transgression could be finished, that sins could be ended, that reconciliation between God and man could be accomplished, and that everlasting righteousness could be guaranteed.
Does this chapter teach anything about yet-future events?
- There is 1 "week" or 7 years yet to be fulfilled from Daniel's prophecy. It is the time when the prince (this is Satan, the prince of this world) will make a covenant with Israel. Midway through the week (3 1/2 years) he will break the covenant and will overspread Jerusalem with abominations that make it desolate until the consummation (of the world's history). This is confirmed by the book of Revelation. This precedes the introduction of New Jerusalem that comes down from Heaven to the New Earth adorned as a bride for her Husband.
Note: There is a great discussion in Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones' book The Chronology of the Old Testament as well as charts to show the reckoning of the 70 years of captivity as well as the 483 years between the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the year when the Messiah was "cut off" for the sins of others.