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Israel's Future, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2024 4:00 am

Israel's Future, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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This is a consummate concept. Seventy weeks are determined. At the end of those seventy numbers in prophecy, the scroll with seven seals, the beast with ten horns and seven heads, the two witnesses, the remnant of the 144,000, and perhaps the most famous prophetic number of all, the number of the beast, 666. Well, one of the most well-known prophecies, and likely one of the most misunderstood, concerns the number seventy, the seventy weeks of Daniel. The question is, what do those weeks refer to?

Is that something in the past or the future? Can you really know what they refer to, and what does it mean for you today? John answers those questions as he continues his study titled, The Future of Israel, and here he is now with today's lesson. Daniel chapter nine. One of the great, exciting, prophetic portions of the Word of God. Daniel chapter nine. And we're looking in these days at verses 20 through 27, the last half of the great ninth chapter of Daniel.

Now, let me see if I can't give you an introduction that will help you to find your focus as we look again at this text. Jeremiah, the prophet, was a very special man. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. And Jeremiah's role was different than Daniel's, for Jeremiah lived before the children of Israel were taken into captivity. And his ministry was to warn them about the inevitability of that catastrophic judgment of God.

For if there was one thing that Israel cherished, it was its independence, its national existence, its autonomy, its personal identification as God's people. But Jeremiah came as a messenger of God to tell them that unless they repented from their sin, they would undergo divine judgment and they would be taken out of their land to become prisoners of a foreign nation. For years, Jeremiah warned them.

He warned them in what he said and he put on vivid living demonstrations, object lessons to show them what was coming. And through all the years of Jeremiah's ministry, nobody listened to him. Nobody heeded what he said.

They ignored him. They shoved him aside and finally threw him in a pit. But Jeremiah lived to see his prophecies come to pass. He lived to see the Babylonian siege that ended in the capture of the city of Jerusalem and the decimation of the nation.

He lived to see an unrepentant, rebellious, sinful people carried off into captivity. Now Jeremiah wrote of this captivity of this captivity and it provides for us a very important setting for the ninth chapter of Daniel. In Jeremiah chapter 25 verse 9, Jeremiah wrote this, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon my servant, God use Nebuchadnezzar, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about and will utterly destroy them and make them in horror and in hissing and perpetual desolations.

Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of millstones, and the light of the lamp, and this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon 70 years. In the 29th chapter of Jeremiah, this is repeated. Verse 10, For thus saith the Lord, After 70 years are accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you in causing you to return even unto this place.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil. And then verse 12, Then shall you call upon me and you shall go and pray unto me and I will hearken unto you and you shall seek me and find me when you shall search for me with all your heart and I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will turn away your captivity and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places to which I have driven you, saith the Lord, and I will bring you again into the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive. Now Jeremiah gives the prophecy of the Babylonian captivity and indicates it will last 70 years. First of all, in chapter 25 and then emphasizing not the captivity but the restoration 70 years later, he repeats the prophecy in chapter 29. Now with that in mind, look at the ninth chapter of Daniel and you will see how this all begins.

Verse 2, In the first year of his reign, that is the reign of Darius who was the king of the Medo-Persian empire in its first year. The first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years, that is the duration of the captivity concerning which the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet that he would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Now Daniel is reading Jeremiah. It isn't that Daniel for the first time discovers Jeremiah. He has known what Jeremiah prophesied. But now Daniel has been in captivity 68 or 69 years and he knows that he is very close to the time of the restoration. And no doubt he's familiar with the fact that Isaiah predicted that it would be Cyrus who would give the decree to return.

And I take it that Darius and Cyrus are the same individual, most likely Darius being a title and Cyrus being his proper name. And so he senses that the fulfillment of Isaiah's indication regarding Cyrus is possible. He knows that he himself has been in captivity for 68 or 69 years. And if God started counting the 70 with the first deportation, it has to be very near when the Lord is going to restore His people to His land. But he also knows that Jeremiah said it will be when the people turn their heart toward me and when the people seek me with all their heart and when the people turn back in a spiritual dimension.

And so immediately then in verse 3 of chapter 9, he sets his face to the Lord to seek by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes and he begins to confess his sin and the sins of his people. In other words, he knows there has to be a spiritual response that precipitates the end of the captivity. So Daniel is studying the prophecies to get his bearings regarding God's timetable.

Now may I say at this point that that's precisely what we're doing too. We're endeavoring to understand Daniel so we too can get our bearings prophetically, so we too can understand what is happening in the flow of history. And this is frankly a very good illustration of how to understand prophecy. I would just point out one thing that just hits me very hard here and that is that when Daniel read the term 70 years, what did he think that meant?

He thought it meant 70 years, didn't he? What amazes me as you read various and sundry Bible commentators is that when the Bible says 70 years, they immediately go into instant hocus-pocus and they invent all kinds of fantastic symbols, which were not the case in Daniel's mind. And I think it's interesting also that when Daniel found out what the prophetic scheme was, he didn't become a prophecy buff and put on his pajamas and sit on the roof.

He didn't just play fascination with prophecy. He got on his knees and began to confess his sin to get ready for what God was going to do. That's a proper response because God had given as far back as the 26th chapter of Leviticus the condition for blessing and the condition for blessing was confession of sin and obedience to God's standards. So Daniel prays and he prays from verse 3 to 19 and in verse 20 the answer comes.

And we already started it and we're just going to kind of move along. Tremendous text. Now, first of all, we mentioned there are three perspectives and three persons in this passage, verses 20 to 27. First is the circumstances of Daniel, then the coming of Gabriel, and finally the communication of God. Now we've already seen the circumstances of Daniel in verse 20. He was speaking and praying and confessing his sin and the sins of his people Israel. He was presenting his supplications before God and his concern was for the holy mountain of God, not for his own purposes and his own goals and his own projects, but for God's. And so he is communicating with God.

That is his circumstance at the moment. We then move secondly to the coming of Gabriel in verse 21. In the very process of Daniel being involved in prayer, Gabriel was there. Gabriel arrives, being caused to fly swiftly, the text says. It doesn't take angelic beings long to get from heaven to earth and he moved fast.

And he came with an answer, incredible answer. He said in the end of verse 23, therefore, understand the matter and consider the revelation. In other words, Gabriel says to Daniel, Daniel, don't miss this one.

You know, even the best of us can kind of tune in and tune out, can't we? Even the best of us come to times in our lives when we by our human weakness sort of miss great realities. May I say to you what Gabriel said to Daniel, don't miss this one. Now God knew that there could be even in a good man like Daniel a little bit of mind wandering and something so mind boggling as this prophecy that's about to come and he might get a little lost in the shuffle.

And so he says, if you get anything, please get this. You haven't learned it all yet, Daniel. Something to be said for humility that can still listen and still learn. Many of us need to be delivered from the false and fatal idea that we've already got it all. The Lord delivers me from that thought all the time. That brings me to the third point, the communication of God. Because in verse 24 to 27, you have the message that Gabriel brings from God. The circumstances of Daniel, he's praying. The coming of Gabriel dispatched from God with the answer. The communication of God, the most incredible prophecy regarding the history of Israel ever given in the Bible. And we began last time to look at it. Verse 24, 70 weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness and to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint a holy of holies is the literal rendering. Now, just by way of reminder, just by way of reminder, this is the overall perspective. Gabriel says, I have a prophecy.

A period of time called 70 weeks in the text is determined. And that word determined has to do with the sovereign, eternal plan of God. Comprehensively, does God control all future events? Literally, the Hebrew word means to cut off. It's as if God has just cut off or cut loose a 70-week period, pulled it right out of human history, and in that period He will accomplish His purposes with His people, Israel. Notice again in verse 24, it is not only determined by God, but it is determined by God upon thy people and upon thy holy city. That is referring to Daniel's people who were the Jews and Daniel's city which is Jerusalem. So it is a prophecy about the Jews and Jerusalem in contrast to the prophecies prior in the book of Daniel which were mainly dealing with the Gentile world powers. This one deals with Israel. And the purpose of it is all given there in verse 24. There is a six-fold purpose for this 70-week period. Three are positive and three are negative.

First are the negative ones. To finish the transgression, that is to restrain sin in principle. Secondly, to make an end of sins, plural. Not only to restrain firmly sin in principle, but to break the power of sin in specific. Not only the principle of sin, but the sins themselves. Thirdly, to make reconciliation, or literally, it is the word used in Genesis for the pitch that Noah put on his boat and what it means is to cover over iniquity, to be a covering for iniquity. And we know the covering for iniquity was nothing less than the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

So God has determined a 70-week period to do away with sin in general as a principle, sin in specific as an act, and to make reconciliation or covering or atonement for iniquity. And having dealt with sin, there are then three positive things. He will bring in everlasting righteousness. The word really means the righteousness of eternity, or the righteousness of the ages. Do you know that there is a righteousness of eternity? In other words, there is a true righteous standard. There is a righteousness in the mind of God that is the righteousness of eternity, but it's never been brought into the earth.

We function on a man-made system. The righteousness of the ages indicates that there are rules and standards of life that are right, and they've always been right, and they'll always be right, and they are God's standards, and they are not now in vogue in the world, but there will come a day when the 70 weeks are over that the world and all of man's forever will be controlled by eternal principles of justice and equity that Daniel calls the righteousness of the ages. Then the Lord will seal up the vision and prophecy. That is, it'll be the end of revelation. There'll be no more need for scriptural revelation or prophetic revelation. Isaiah 2 tells us that God will dwell in the presence of the earth and will be our teacher, and the nations will be brought before Him to learn.

God Himself will teach. And then finally, to anoint a holy of holies. There will be in the kingdom a building of a millennial temple, and that is going to be a marvelous thing.

Now, you get the picture. This is a consummate concept. Seventy weeks are determined. At the end of those 70 weeks, God will have totally dealt with sin and will totally bring in everlasting righteousness. It will come an end to revelation, and He will establish a kind of worship in a temple like the world has never known. And all of this, beloved, is referring, I believe, to the millennial kingdom and extends even on into the everlasting kingdom of Jesus Christ. What is it saying then?

Mark it. There is a 70-week period of time that runs all the way up to the end of man's day and the establishment of the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ. God has cut this period out. Now, there's a key to the whole thing. The first two words of verse 24, 70 weeks.

What are they? Well, the term for weeks, shabuah or shabuim in Hebrew, does not mean week. It means seven, seventy-sevens. It doesn't in itself identify days. It doesn't identify weeks. It doesn't identify months.

It doesn't identify years. It just means seventy-sevens. And so, whenever you see the term, you've got to get its meaning from the context or the verses around it. And I'm convinced, as are almost all, certainly all evangelical Bible scholars, that it refers to years. Not weeks of days, but weeks of years.

Why? Well, Daniel was already thinking in sevens of years. Verse 2, he was thinking of the 70 years prophecy. So he was thinking in terms of years.

And there's a sense in which I see a play on words here. Daniel is thinking, Lord, 70 years and it'll all be over. And God is saying to him, no, 70 times seven. Seventy-sevens?

You're not there yet. Oh, there will be a restoration to the land after the 70, but there's a lot more after that until all of sin is dealt with and everlasting righteousness is brought in. And so, I think he plays off of the very thought of the 70. And let me add another reason why I believe it refers to years. The Jews had the concept of weeks of years.

For example, the Sabbath rest of the land was to occur, according to Leviticus 25, 3 and 4, every seven years. In other words, there were six years where you worked your land, and the seventh year your land had to rest. And so they saw years in terms of weeks of seven. And after seven weeks of seven years, in the forty-ninth year came a year known as what? The Jubilee year.

And the land rested and all the estates returned to their original owners and all debts were forgiven and all slaves were freed. And so a multiple of this week of years was very familiar to the Jewish thinking. And may I add another thought? Another reason I believe it refers to years is because the only other time Daniel ever uses the term Shabbuah, or seven, he uses it in chapter 10, verses 2 and 3. And as he refers to it, in verse 2 it says three full weeks, and then in verse 3, three whole weeks. And what he uses there is the word for days. He uses it specifically for days in the Hebrew. And it's almost as if he puts the word days in reference to weeks in chapter 10 and leaves it out in chapter 9 so that you'll know there's a difference. But I think there's one other thought that's just amazing, just amazing in this prophecy.

Now think with me on this. Daniel knew this. Daniel knew that one of the reasons the children of Israel were taken into captivity, now mark this, one of them, there were several, but one of the reasons they were taken into captivity was that they had constantly violated that seventh year Sabbath. They had become greedy and self-indulgent and materialistic and they'd worked that land six years and instead of letting that seventh year rest to restore the land, they'd plow that land the seventh year and they kept doing it and kept doing it and kept doing it and they violated Sabbath year after Sabbath year after Sabbath year after Sabbath year. And that is one of the reasons that they were removed from the land because God wanted to give to His land its proper Sabbath rest.

You see? And if they wouldn't let the land rest when they were in it, then God would empty it of them and let it rest on His terms. And in 2 Chronicles 36, 21, it says, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, talking about the captivity, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths.

For as long as she lay desolate, she kept Sabbath to fulfill three score and ten years. How many is that? Seventy. Now listen, this is a tremendous truth. God says you're going to stay out of that land for 70 years.

You know why? They had violated how many Sabbaths? Seventy. They violated 70 Sabbaths. How many years would it take you to violate 70 Sabbaths? 490. It seems to be that the Spirit of God is telling us that just as they had violated the Sabbath for 490 years, so 490 more years would be determined upon their history.

Amazing. In their 800 years as a nation, they had violated 70 of their Sabbaths. And so God uses the same number of years violated as the basis of His future plan. And each year in captivity was for one seven-year period when the Sabbath was violated. Boy, God is very exacting, isn't He? That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary here on Grace to You.

His current study is called The Future of Israel. John, today you looked at a few passages that show that Daniel's 70 weeks actually refer to 70 groups of seven years, or 490 years. And the fact that you had to cross-reference other passages shows that the meaning of the 70 weeks is not going to be immediately apparent to the reader. So to the person who is wondering how to know whether a given passage should be taken literally or symbolically, what do you say?

What do you say? Well, first of all, it's normally going to be revealed in the context. By that I mean the book context, the chapter context, the immediate context of the text around it. It isn't hard to interpret the 70 weeks of Daniel if you're in the flow of the prophecy of Daniel and you understand exactly where it's going and what it's referring to.

So you have to kind of master the context of it. And I think this is important to mention, because there are people who just look at a Bible verse and think you can kind of pull it out of its context and make it mean what you want. No, that's unfair to Scripture. The Bible is a book and contains 66 books, and books have a beginning and an end and a middle and a progression. The second thing to say is, inevitably, a challenging interpretation like that will also have come to clarity from other scriptures. So you're looking at Daniel, you're looking at a prophetic passage, and you're looking at something like a seven-year period. Then you go to the book of Revelation and you find that specifically half of a seven-year period is mentioned—three and a half years, 42 months, 1260 days. So this is confirmation that this is an actual time stamp from Daniel that is half of which is reiterated in the second half of that seven-year period in the book of Revelation. So prophetic literature, I think to the surprise of some people, is really consistent, and that's because God is the author of all of it.

That's right, and thank you, John. Friend, to see for yourself how consistent God's Word is from start to finish, the MacArthur Study Bible can be a great help. Order your copy today. The Study Bible has detailed introductions to each book, more than 100 charts and maps, and most important, there are about 25,000 footnotes that explain the verses. It's an ideal resource for new believers and for seasoned saints. To order the MacArthur Study Bible, call 800-55-GRACE or shop online at GTY.org. And while you're at GTY.org, take advantage of the thousands of free Bible study tools there. You can read daily devotionals, you can watch video from John's conference appearances. You can also download more than 3,600 of John's sermons free of charge in MP3 and transcript format.

That includes John's current series, The Future of Israel. All that's at our website one more time, GTY.org. And if you're benefiting from this ministry, we'd love to hear from you. Your feedback is more important to us than you might imagine.

You can email your story to letters at GTY.org or send us a letter at GRACE2U, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Tune in tomorrow as John shows you a detailed prophecy about Israel that's already been fulfilled, building your confidence in God's Word and helping you share God's truth with others. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-07-10 05:54:51 / 2024-07-10 06:04:27 / 10

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