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The Clocks of Prophecy


The Clocks of Prophecy
Daniel 9:20-27
This is the best passage in the entire book of Daniel that has to do with the matter of prophecy. We're looking at what I'm calling "The Clocks of Prophecy." It is a fascinating passage of scripture.
Just to connect with what has gone on previously in the opening verses of the chapter, in the beginning verses of the ninth chapter of Daniel, Daniel is having his devotion. It is a time when he has been reading the Word of God; in particular, the book of Jeremiah. On the basis of what he read in the book of Jeremiah, he came to understand that the time for the captivity of the children of Israel was almost completed. God had predicted there would be 70 years of captivity. Now he's at the conclusion of this time.
So moved and so stirred is Daniel by this that he begins to pray. He prays one of the great prayers in all of the Bible. It is a great prayer of confession. Evidently, Daniel started his devotions that morning; and yet though he was a very busy man, an official position in the government, Daniel continued his prayer all day long even until the afternoon.
Notice that Daniel says that he was praying until the time of the evening oblation, verse 21. The evening oblation is a reference to 3:00 in the afternoon. It is also a reference to the Jewish religious calendar and the various ceremonies that the Jewish people conducted. Keep in mind, Daniel is in Babylon, and yet all of these years, evidently, Daniel is keeping time according to the time of his people the Jews and their religious calendar. 
His body was in Babylon, but his mind and heart were in Jerusalem.
The Bible tells us that is exactly the way you and I ought to live. We are living in this world, and yet the Bible says we actually belong to heaven. This world is not our home. We're just passing through. Our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. Though we are living in this world, we are always to keep our minds on another world.
Daniel is talking to the Lord. The Lord sends the angel Gabriel to Daniel and lets him know that God is getting ready to reveal to him a prophecy that has to do in particular with his own people, the nation of Israel. In this revelation that God is going to give Daniel, we have one of the great prophetic passages in all of the Bible. 
In fact, it has been referred to as the backbone of prophecy. It is the template that is used to help us understand what the Bible has to say about Bible prophecy. If you will focus and really get hold of what I'm going to share with you, it will give you that template that will help you understand God's prophetic plan for His own people, the children of Israel; and it will help you understand how you and I fit into the plan of God.
I. The Particulars of the Prophecy.
I'm going to talk about this prophecy of the 70 weeks. I want to begin by talking about the particulars of this prophecy. You will notice in verse 24 that he says specifically, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city." He says 70 weeks. The week means seven. 
It is clearly understood, and there is no debate on this matter at all that when Daniel makes reference to 70 weeks, 70 sevens, the weeks have to do with a period of seven years in duration. The week is not a week of days. It is a week of years. God lays out a particular statement about the 70 weeks. It is 70 weeks of seven years each. When you take 70 and multiply it by seven you have a period of 490 years. That's the amount of time that's going to transpire in this particular prophecy. That's very, very important.
He says in this particular prophecy that it has to do with "thy people," that is Daniel's people, and "upon thy holy city." This lets us know that the prophecy has to do with the nation of Israel. The Jews were Daniel's people. When he talks about the holy city, he is talking about the city of Jerusalem. This is a prophecy that is going to have to do with the nation of Israel; and it going to have to do with their holy city, the city of Jerusalem. Those are the items we are going to deal with.
II. The Purposes of the Seventy Weeks.
Secondly, he sets before us the purposes of these 70 weeks. Beginning in verse 24 in the middle of the verse he gives six different purposes for this period of 490 years. The first three hang together and the last three hang together. The first three of these purposes have to with God's redemptive purposes concerning sin. The final three have to do with God's restorative purposes, and they have to do with the matter of righteousness. 
In verse 24 it says that seventy weeks are "determined." That word means is sure. It's just as sure as it can be. Number 1, Upon the children of Israel and upon Jerusalem, to finish the transgression. Here will be a period of time that will finish the transgression. He is referring to the great transgression of the children of Israel. The great transgression of the children of Israel is the rejection of their Savior, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is always "the" transgression. The greatest sin anybody can ever commit is to refuse to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Regardless of what you have done, if you reject the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no other atonement for sin. There is no other provision for your sin. The transgression is to refuse to accept what Jesus did on the cross for you.
Number 2, he says to make an end of sins. In other words, during this period of time God is going to fully settle the sin question. 
Number 3, he says also to make reconciliation for iniquity. During this period of time God is going to make reconciliation concerning the sin question. We know that is exactly what Jesus did when He died on the cross. When Jesus came to the river of Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, the Bible says that John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." When Jesus died on the cross He made reconciliation for iniquity. Christ died for the sins of the whole world. 
In I Timothy 4, verse 10, I want to show you the scope of the death of the Lord Jesus on Calvary. It says in the latter part of the verse, "Who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." You will notice that particularly He is the Savior of all men, which means that He made reconciliation for iniquity. He died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. 
That's why I have the privilege of standing in this pulpit and every time I preach of saying to the people, "Christ died for your sins." It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. It doesn't matter how far gone you think you are or how hopeless you may be. I can tell you Christ died for you. He is the Savior of all men. He is your Savior.
Not only do we see that potentially He is the Savior of the world, but we see actually He is the Savior of those who believe. This means you must receive personally by faith what Jesus did on the cross for your sins. Those are the purposes that have to do with the sin questions. Redemptive purposes.
In Daniel 9, verse 24, we see the last three purposes. These have to do with matters of righteousness.
First, he says to bring in everlasting righteousness. He's says that there will come a time when God will bring righteousness to this earth. It is looking beyond the cross and into the future. It is looking to the time of the millennium when the Bible says there will be righteousness on this earth. During that thousand year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth, righteousness will reign as well. 
Sometimes we get very distraught about what's going on in our world, and we get upset about what's going on in government. We get disturbed at it all and well we should. But one of these days, Jesus is going to come back, and He's going to rule and reign on the earth; and when He does, righteousness shall fill the earth as the rivers are filled with the waters and the waters of the sea. He is going to bring in everlasting righteousness.
Number 2, He is going to seal up the vision and prophecy. During this 490-year period of time, God is going to complete prophecy as it relates to the nation of Israel. Much of the prophecy in the Bible has to do in particular with God's chosen people Israel. He says during this period of the 70 weeks God will make an end. He will seal up the vision and prophecy. 
The sixth purpose is to "anoint the most Holy." That is a reference to the most holy place, the temple. I did a study some months ago in the book of Ezekiel. In the latter chapters of the book of Ezekiel, chapters 41 and following, we're told that during the millennium there is going to be a millennial temple built. This millennial temple is going to have a holy place. The Bible says that holy place is going to be anointed and the Savior, the Messiah Himself, is going to dwell in that holy place. We see here the purposes of the 70 weeks.
III. The Period of the Seventy Weeks
In verses 25 through 27 I want to talk to you about the periods of the 70 weeks. These 490 years are going to be divided into three distinct, separate periods of time.   Each one of them will have to do with prophecies related to the nation of Israel. I want to divide these periods up.
In verse 25 he talks about the period of trouble. In verse 25 he says, "Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times." There is going to be a period of trouble. 
God predicted to Daniel that the children of Israel would be released from their captivity and they would be allowed to go back to the city of Jerusalem and rebuild their city and the city wall again. We know just exactly when that took place. We know that it was a 49-year period of time when that reconstruction project was done back in the land of Israel. We know that it took place in 445 B.C. That's a matter of history. 
We know that the beginning, the commandment, of that was the decree of Artaxerxes I who was the king of Persia. When that decree was given a clock begin to tick. It was the clock of Israel. It was God's prophetic plan for the nation of Israel from the time of Daniel all the way to the end time. The first period is a 49-year period of time, seven weeks, according to Daniel.
During this time the children of Israel would go back and they would rebuild their city and their wall. We have the account of that in the book of Ezra and in the book of Nehemiah. We know that it was a period of trouble. We know over the time when there was great difficulty, Nehemiah and the people who worked with him encountered all kinds of opposition. People did everything they could to disturb and hinder and block the work. 
But God was at work. When God says it's going to be a certain way, nobody can stop it. When God declares and decrees that something is going to come to pass, all the devils of hell can't stop the plan of God. There was first of all that period of trouble. Seven weeks, 49 years.
In verse 26 there is a second period of time. The clock of Israel is ticking. This is God's prophetic clock for Israel. One seven year period has gone by, 49 years. Now another 62-week period is going to go by, 434 years. It is the period of tragedy. In verse 26 it says, "And after threescore and two weeks." That is 69 weeks. We've had one week of seven weeks. We've had 49 years. Now we've got 62 weeks, 434 years. When you put them all together you have 483 years. Four hundred and eighty three years from the time the children of Israel went back to their land and rebuilt Jerusalem, 69 prophetic weeks would pass. 
In verse 26 it says, "After the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah." That's the Christ. When Jesus is referred to as the Christ, that's a New Testament was of saying the Old Testament Messiah, the predicted Savior of the world. 
It says at the end of that period of time, 62 weeks and seven weeks, 69 weeks, the Messiah shall be cut off. This is a direct prediction of the death of Jesus on the cross. He will be cut off.
There was a man named Sir Robert Anderson who wrote a book a number of years ago entitled The Coming Prince. Sir Robert Anderson took all of these historical dates and prophecies of the book of Daniel and all of the decrees that were given to send the people back at particular times. He computed and calculated all that time. 
From 445 B.C. when the Jews were sent back until the time that Jesus Christ was carried out to the cross of Calvary, the very day that Jesus Christ died on the cross, to the day was 483 years. Just exactly like God said in the Bible. Marvelous prophesy of God! 
He will be cut off. On that day the Lord Jesus Christ died. It says that He will be cut off but not for Himself. This means that Jesus was not dying for Himself. I talked about the sinlessness of Jesus last Wednesday night and the virgin birth of Jesus the Wednesday night before that. I have demonstrated to you according to the teachings of the Bible that Jesus had no sin for which He Himself had to die. 
Romans 6, verse 23, says, "For the wages of sin is death." Jesus had not to pay any wages for His own sins because Jesus Christ was the sinless, spotless Son of God. When He died on the cross it was not for Himself! If Jesus didn't die for Himself, whom did He die for? For you and me. Isn't it marvelous that Jesus died on that old cross for you and me? 
It says in verse 26 that after the death of Jesus on that cross, not for Himself, that the people of the prince that shall come, that's not Jesus. This is another prince that will come, who will destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end thereof will be like a flood and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. Here is a prediction all the way back to the time of Daniel of what would take place historically after the death of the Messiah. 
We have been watching this clock of Israel. It has gone through the first 49-year period, seven years. It has now gone through the next period, the 62 weeks, 434 years. Now the clock of Israel stops. When Israel rejected the Messiah, God's prophetic clock for Israel stopped. 
Some things began to take place and another clock began to tick. What's that clock? I'll get back to that. It says that the people of the prince that shall come, that is the Romans, will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Jesus predicted that would happen. He predicted that the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed and that the city of Jerusalem would be taken by foreign power. We know what happened. 
In A.D. 70, Titus, the Roman general, besieged the city of Jerusalem. When the time came they, Titus and his Roman army, invaded the city of Jerusalem, and slaughtered Jews by the millions. He came into the city and destroyed it, but he gave orders that the temple was not to be destroyed. But a soldier of Titus threw a torch, and when he did all of the tapestry and cloth and magnificent materials in the temple caught on fire. 
The temple began to burn. As it began to burn, all the magnificent gold melted and went down into the stones of the Temple. The greedy Roman soldiers pulled up the stones in order to recapture the gold. There was not a stone left upon one another in that particular time.
In Luke 19 Jesus predicted this. We have the closing days and hours of the life of the Lord. He comes to the city, and we see one of the three times in the Bible that Jesus weeps. In verse 41 it says, "And when he was come near, he beheld the city (Jerusalem), and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day (What day? 
The day that they could have received their Messiah), the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hidden from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies (the Romans) shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." That's what Jesus predicted. That's what Daniel predicted. That is exactly what took place. God's clock of Israel stopped.
Between verse 26 and 27 another clock begins to tick and move. There is what I call a strange parentheses in scripture. Sometimes you will find this in the Bible. You will find gaps in scripture. Something takes place between the verses. Daniel didn't see it. None of the Old Testament prophets ever saw it. Another age began to move. 
Another period of God's work with a particular group of people began to take place. It is called the Age of Grace. It is called the Age of the Church. After the Jewish people rejected their Messiah, the door of opportunity was opened up for the Gentiles. The opportunity was for them to receive Christ as their Savior. The Old Testament prophets never saw it.
In Acts 14, verse 27, it says, "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles." When the Jews rejected and the clock stopped, God turned to the Gentiles and the clock of the church began to tick.
In Acts 15, verse 14, it says, "Simeon hath declared how God first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name." All these centuries since that time the clock of grace has been ticking. The clock of the church has been ticking. The opportunity for people to be saved is here. You and I have had the opportunity to be saved because of the plan of God for the church. 
In Ephesians 3, I want to show you what the Bible says about the fact that Daniel and these Old Testament prophets didn't see the church. I'm going to show you why and how God revealed it. In verse 5 it says, "Which in other ages (the Old Testament age) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."
 What is the mystery that was not revealed? What is it that Daniel and the Old Testament prophets didn't see? 
Look at verse 6, "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body (that's the church), and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." In verse 9 it says, "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." This clock ticking is the mystery and the age of grace. 
Israel has gone through 483 years of its prophecy. Israel has gone through 69 weeks of the prophecy of Daniel. This clock is ticking. You say, "When is this clock going to stop ticking?" One of these days the Lord Jesus Christ is going to descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God.
Dead believers are going to be raised, and living believers are going to be transformed and changed and raptured and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The church is going to be raptured out of this world; and when they do, the clock of the church and the clock of the opportunity of grace will be all over. It will be too late for anybody to be saved who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. 
Then the clock of Israel is going to begin to tick again. This brings us to verse 27, the third period of these 70 weeks of Daniel. Sixty-nine weeks have already gone by and 483 years have already gone by, but now the clock of Israel begins to tick again. In verse 27 it tells us what's going to happen. "And he (Who?  The prince that shall come, the antichrist) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week." How many years is that? Seven years. Sixty-nine weeks have already taken place. That's history. 
One more week to come. That's prophecy. It's coming in the future. Four hundred eighty three years of the history of Israel and God's prophetic time is all over. Seven more years. God's clock begins to tick, and it will begin when the antichrist will make a covenant with the Jewish people. It will be a covenant of peace. 
Every day of our life we deal with the problem of the Middle Eastern situation. We deal with the conflict of the Arabs and the Jews. There seems to be no solution and no end for it. World leaders don't have a clue that the Bible predicts that the time will come when the antichrist will solve the Middle Eastern problem.
The antichrist will sign a covenant, a peace treaty, with the Jewish people. He will allow them to rebuild their temple. The Jewish people will accept this because their leaders will be blind to their own scriptures. It says that he will confirm the covenant with many for one week. 
A seven-year peace treaty. Everybody says, "Oh, wonderful. We have finally brought peace to the Middle East." It says in the midst of the week, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the seven years. If you take seven years and divide it into two, you have three and a half years. That helps us understand the book of the Revelation. 
In the book of the Revelation 11, verse 2, it talks about 42 months. That's three and a half years. You also read in Revelation 12, verse 6, that it talks about 1,260 days. How much is that? That's three and a half years. 
You will also find in Revelation 12, verse 14, that it talks about a time, a times, and a half of time. How long is that? Three and a half years.
For three and half years it will seem that there will be peace, but right in the middle of that time it says that he will cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. He will send out the word that there will be no more sacrifices in the Temple. "For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate." In other words, something will happen in that temple that will be known as the abomination of desolation.
In Matthew 24 we see exactly what the Bible predicts is going to happen. Verse 15 says, "When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (Daniel 9:27)." In II Thessalonians 2 it gets very specific. 
In verse 3 it talks about the coming of the antichrist. He is called the man of sin, the son of perdition. In verse 4 it tells us what he will do. It says, "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
In Revelation we have the final scripture that connects the dots. In chapter 13 we are told about the beast out of the sea. That's another picture of the antichrist. We are told that he derives his power by the power of the devil himself. 
In Revelation 13, verse 14, it says, "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast." 
Verse 15 says, "And he hath power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." The abomination of desolation. Daniel told us about it hundreds of years ago.
Look back at Daniel 9, verse 27. The abomination will come and then it says, "And that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." That is saying that God will consume the antichrist, and God will fulfill His prophetic purposes for the nation of Israel and His redemptive plan for all of the ages. God gave it to a dear old man of God who lived for the Lord all of his life.
Jesus Christ fulfilled everything the Bible said He would do. Everything God said is going to happen in that 70 weeks of Daniel is going to be fulfilled in the future. If God keeps His word like that, He'll keep His word to you. He'll meet the needs of your life. He'll help you through the problems you're going through right now. If you need a personal Savior, Jesus Christ will forgive you of your sins and come into your life, and I have the authority and the surety of the Word of God to tell you that that is true.
Let's bow our heads and pray.
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