last message of mercy

(Daniel 9) When Was the Sanctuary Cleansed?

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Note: In order to gain a full understanding of this study, I urge you to read the previous lesson first.

In our previous couple of studies we learned that Daniel had a dream of a ram and goat which the angel Gabriel told him represented Medo-Persia and Greece. He then explained about the little horn Daniel saw who incorporated paganism into its worship system. Daniel then heard a time-period of 2,300 days in which the sanctuary would be cleansed. We saw that this cleansing of the sanctuary is connected to the judgment scene in Daniel chapter 7 and how this was all played out in the annual service on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). At the end of Daniel 8 we saw that Daniel does not understand the portion of the vision concerning the 2,300 days. The question now is, does Gabriel ever explain this portion of the vision to Daniel? Let’s turn to Daniel chapter 9 to find out.

The 70-Week Prophecy

In chapter 9 of the book of Daniel we see Daniel praying for the first 20 verses. That’s all he’s doing. He’s not seeing any visions. However, Daniel writes that while he was praying, Gabriel “whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning” came to him and said, “I have come to give thee skill and understanding” and then says, “consider the vision” (verses 20-23). What vision is Gabriel referring to? He must be referring to the vision Daniel had seen in chapter 8. He has now come to explain the 2,300 day prophecy, and he begins to explain this time-prophecy by giving Daniel a time-prophecy:

“Seventy  weeks  are  determined  upon thy people and upon thy holy  city,  to  finish  the transgression,  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 the Most Holy. 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.” (Daniel 9:24)

Gabriel begins by telling Daniel and his people (the Jews) that within 70 weeks they were to be in the presence of the Messiah. Now, keep in mind that we must use the “year for a day” principle that we’ve learned from part two of our study concerning the little horn. How many days are in 70 weeks? (70 weeks X 7 days = 490 days). Therefore, since a day equals a year in Bible prophecy, then the length of the time-period is a full 490 years. And remember, since Gabriel is explaining the 2,300 years of chapter 8, then we can conclude that these 490 years are part of the 2,300 years as well. Here’s a few examples of how we can know for sure that the 490 years are part of the 2,300 years:

1. First of all, remember verses 1 through 20 of chapter 9 records a prayer that Daniel is praying on behalf of the Jewish people. Daniel is not recording any prophetic visions. All he is doing is praying. Then we read in verse 21:

“Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation (offering).” What vision is Daniel referring to? Obviously he’s referring to his vision recorded in chapter 8! He hasn’t had any visions in chapter 9.

2. In the above verse Daniel uses the Hebrew word חָזוֹן (chazon) for the word “vision.” From a previous study we learned this word refers to the whole entire vision. Daniel simply states that the same angel (Gabriel) came to him again as he did during the vision recorded in chapter 8. Now notice what Daniel writes after Gabriel shows up this second time:

“And he (Gabriel) informed me (Daniel), and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications (prayers) the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” (Daniel 9:22, 23) 

Gabriel tells Daniel that he has come to give him “skill and understanding” regarding “the vision.” What vision? Daniel hasn’t had any visions in chapter 9. Obviously he has come to give him understanding for the vision recorded in chapter 8. But remember, he has previously explained most of that vision. The only part he did not explain, and the only part that Daniel said he still didn’t understand, is the part about the 2,300 days.

3. In the above verse in Daniel 9:23 Daniel uses the Hebrew word מַרְאֶה (mareh) for the word “vision.” This we have learned refers to a certain point of the vision. In this case the certain point of the vision connected with the word mareh is the part about the 2,300 days. Remember from chapter 8 Gabriel said, “and the vision (mareh) of the evening and the morning which was told is true.” (Daniel 8:26). Then Daniel said, “I was astonished at the vision (mareh) but none understood it.” (Daniel 8:27). Here in chapter 9 Gabriel says, “understand the matter, and consider the vision (mareh).” (Daniel 9:23). Clearly Gabriel was sent by God to help Daniel understand the prophecy concerning the 2,300 days (years).

4. As Gabriel begins to explain this time-prophecy he says, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” (Daniel 9:24). The Hebrew word Daniel uses for the word “determined” here is חָתַךְ (chathak) which literally means “to cut off” or to “decree.” Therefore, when Gabriel says that “seventy weeks are determined (chathak) upon thy people ...” he is saying that seventy-weeks (490 years) are “cut off” or “decreed” upon thy people. But what are the 490 years “cut off” from? Obviously they are cut off from a larger number, and in this case it is the 2,300 years.

With all this evidence we must conclude that the 2,300 years and the 490 years begin at the same time. But from what year do we begin to count the 490 years? Gabriel told Daniel. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and to build Jerusalem ...” (Daniel 9:25). Gabriel said that the time-period would begin when the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem was given. But when was that? 

There were three decrees which gave permission for the Jews to return home. The first one had to do with rebuilding the temple, and the restoration of the sacred vessels and temple worship. This decree was made by Cyrus in 537 B.C. and is recorded in Ezra 1:1-4. However, this decree says nothing about the restoration of Jerusalem or “the holy city” that Gabriel referred to so we cannot use this decree for the starting point. The second one was a renewal of the first decree made by Cyrus since there had been a hindrance of the work. This decree was made by Darius in 519 B.C. and is recorded in Ezra 6:7-12 and also does not include the holy city so we can’t use this one either. The third and final one made possible the setting up of a Hebrew state and local government. This decree was made by Artaxerxes in the Fall of 457 B.C. and is recorded in Ezra 7:11-26. Therefore, the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem is set at 457 B.C. Archaeology has proven this date.

“The key to the date of the decree is tied to Artaxerxes’ seventh year. Ezra 7:8 tells us that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. Under conditions of a forced march, the Babylonian army could cover the 400 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem in one month. Ezra had a large body of slow moving people with him, and it took them five months to cover the same distance. Fortunately, the dates for Artaxerxes’ reign are well known and historically secure. They are based on several sources … there are four main lines of evidence which guide us in  establishing  the  dates  for Artaxerxes’ reign - (1) the Greek historians, (2) Ptolemy’s Canon, (3) the Babylonian business tablets, and (4) the Elephantine papyri from Egypt. All four lines of evidence point to the same chronological conclusion: Xerxes died in 465 B.C., and Artaxerxes came to the throne in the latter part of that same year. Under the Persian and Babylonian system of counting regnal years, the remainder of the year in which a king died was considered to be year 0 of the new king who succeeded him. It was called the ‘accession year.’ The new king’s first official year began with the next new year which commenced in the spring. According to this reckoning, Artaxerxes’ seventh year began in the spring of 458 B.C. and ended in the spring of 457 B.C. Thus by the Persian calendar, Ezra would have begun his journey from Babylon in the spring of 458 B.C. and arrived in Jerusalem in the summer of that same year. The Jews, however, considered the new year to begin in the fall, according to the civil calendar by which they kept track of reigns of their kings and those of other nations … Thus by the Jewish civil calendar, Artaxerxes’ seventh year would have begun in the fall of 458 B.C. and  ended  in  the  fall of 457 B.C. By this reckoning, Ezra would have begun his journey to Jerusalem in the spring of 457 B.C., arriving there in the summer of the same year. Since  Ezra used a Jewish civil calendar, not the  Persian calendar, we should apply his date — 457 B.C.—to the decree Artaxerxes made regarding the rebuilding of  Jerusalem …” (William H. Shea, Daniel 7-12, pp. 64-66).

We now have a starting point for the 490 years. Now all one has to do is calculate 490 years from 457 B.C. and we will be able to tell when this time-period period came to a close. But before we do that let’s continue reading what Gabriel has to say. Gabriel said:

“... from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore (sixty) and two weeks” (Daniel 9:25)

We can see that the Messiah would arise after these “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” which equal 69 weeks (7 weeks + 62 weeks = 69 weeks). There are 483 days in 69 weeks, therefore, when we use the “year for a day” principle we come to a total of 483 years. 483 years after the decree to restore and build Jerusalem (457 B.C.) they would witness the rise of the promised Messiah. This brings us to the year of 27 A.D. (If you use a calculator it will add in a zero making it 26 A.D. However, we cannot add in the zero here therefore the correct date is 27 A.D.) 

What happened in 27 A.D.? Did the Messiah arrive? One day while Jesus was journeying through Samaria He became thirsty and came to Jacob’s well and sat down. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well and Jesus asked her for a drink. After giving Him a drink they became involved in a spiritual discussion. At the end of their discussion the woman stated her belief in the coming Messiah by saying, “I know that Messiah is coming … When He comes, He will tell us all things.” (John 4:25). After her statement Jesus plainly said to her, “I that speak unto thee am He.” (Verse 26). 

The word Messiah means “the Anointed One.” Jesus was officially anointed as the Messiah when John the Baptist baptized Him in the Jordan River. It was at this time when Jesus officially began His ministry. Luke writes that John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar (see Luke 3:1). Archaeology reveals that Tiberius became co-ruler of the provinces along with his father in 12 A.D. Since Luke states that John began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius’ rule, we now need to add these 15 years to the date 12 A.D. and we come to the year 27 A.D. — the very year the Messiah was anointed in the Jordan River. In fact, when Jesus began His ministry He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15; see also Galatians 4:4). What did Jesus mean when He said “the time is fulfilled?” Well, it was time for Daniel’s prophecy concerning the 69 weeks to be fulfilled.

The Messiah “Cut Off”

Daniel also stated that “after” the 69 weeks the “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself ...” (Daniel 9:26). The Hebrew word translated as “cut off” here is כָּרַת (karath) which carries the meaning of “be killed”, or “murdered.” The Messiah would be killed sometime after the 69 weeks (after 27 A.D.). Please notice that it is the people who cut off Christ from themselves and the city, and not God cutting them off:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I (Jesus) have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate (His presence is now absent). For I tell you that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

The phrase concerning Christ being cut off “but not for Himself” shows the translators’ preconceived idea of penal atonement. Most other Bibles give the proper translation as “and will have nothing.” Mankind would forsake Him and He would bear that iniquity.

The angel Gabriel told Daniel that:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, 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 the Most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)

Some commentators believe that Gabriel is telling Daniel that his people (the Jews) better shape up before the Messiah gets here, and they have a certain time to finish transgressing and to make an end of their sinning. This kind of teaching only promotes fear and force, which is not the way God works. Deadlines are an application of force to achieve an outcome for the one who controls the time. The pressure of a deadline which is combined with the threat of punishment or death is actually psychological abuse. Many refer to "a time of probation" which is a set time God gives us in order to behave, and if we are not good by the deadline, then we all "better watch out" because Jesus is coming to town! However, properly understood, we are the ones who close our own probation. God is forever merciful (Psalm 100:5; 107:1; 136:1; Ezra 3:11; Jeremiah 33:11), and so it is mankind who ends God's mercy by not accepting it. Once you become so hardened in your heart not to accept God's free forgiveness, there's nothing more that God can do, and thus you close the door of opportunity. Paul calls this condition in man "a reprobate mind" and "having their concience seared with a hot iron" (Romans 1:28; 1 Timothy 4:2). Remember, we are the ones who "cut off" Christ from ourselves. 

Others say that when the Messiah came, He finished the transgression and made an end of sins by dying on the cross, thus satisfying God’s justice and wrath. However, it is spoken of in the sense of mankind’s Rebellion (transgression) and sin coming to completeness, or to its fulness. In our previous study we learned that mankind has inherited a hostility towards God and His Son through sin. This hatred was manifested in all its fulness when man murdered Christ. Mankind’s rebellion and sin was “finished” and “ended” (came to its fullness) when we condemned and murdered the Son of God.

The apparent list Gabriel gives to Daniel is better explained as a sequential order of points for the purpose of completing what Daniel did not understand from chapter 8 (the cleansing of the sanctuary and the anointing of the Most Holy/the Holy of Holies).

Man’s Rebellion and sins will be brought to the full so that reconciliation (or, atonement) for iniquity can be made, and this will bring in everlasting righteousness (true justice/mercy). How does this work?

“Moreover the Law entered (privately into the heart/mind), that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20)

God permits our sins to abound (or come to the full) in order for us to be convicted of that sin. He does not do this to condemn us, but to reveal to us the proper diagnosis of our disease, so that we in turn seek His grace. Christ came into the world to reveal the true character of God our Father, and this caused our sin to abound by retaliating back and killing Him, thus bringing the rebellion and sin of mankind to it's fullness. When we realize that God gave His Son over to us and allowed Him to suffer the deadly results of our rebellion and hatred towards Him, we begin to fully see His love for us.

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His stripes (wounds) you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

He did not bear our sins in the sense of suffering God’s justice upon sinners instead of us. No, He bore our sinful rebellion and hatred towards Him by allowing us to kill Him without any form of retaliation against us. In the verse prior, Peter tells us how Christ bore our sins:

“When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but entrusted Himself to Him (His Father) who judges justly (because God’s justice isn’t about retaliation, threats and violence).” (1 Peter 2:23)

In seeing our rebellion and sin come to its fulness in the murder of the Son of God, we are to be convicted at the heart, turn to Him in repentance and accept His everlasting forgiveness, so we may live unto everlasting righteousness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The end-result of all this is to “seal up the vision and prophecy (of Daniel 8), and to anoint the most Holy (Holy of Holies).” It is the process in which God cleanses us (His temple/sanctuary). Take note of Gabriel's words concerning Jerusalem when he said, "the street and the wall shall be built again" (Daniel 9:25). In a previous study we learned that it would ultimatley be the Messiah (Jesus) who will build the true temple of God (Zechariah 6:12). I believe we can apply a dual application here concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Daniel says "the street shall be built again, and the wall." Isn't it strange that "street" is singular? Surely there were more than just one street built. What's even more interesting is the fact that the word "wall" here is the hebrew word חֲרוּץ (charuwts) which also carries the meaning of "gold." Here are a couple of examples:

"For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold (charuwts)." (Proverbs 3:14)

"Receive My instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold (charuwts)." (Proverbs 8:10)

So, now we have Jerusalem being rebuilt with a street (singular) and "gold." This sounds very similar to what we read in the book of Revelation:

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband ... And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street (singular) of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." (Revelation 21:1, 2, 21)

The fulfilling of this prophecy is therefore the building of the "new Jerusalem" which represents God's people being fully re-created into God's perfect image. 

"For you have not come to something that can be touched ... But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly and congregation (church) of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does." (Hebrews 12:18, 22-24)

We referred to this "heavenly Jerusalem" when we studied the 8th chapter of Daniel and saw that the little horn power attacked "the host of heaven" (Daniel 8:10). 

This cleansing process of how we are re-created anew, spoken of in Daniel 9, is also outlined by Jesus when He said:

“And when He (the Comforter/Holy Spirit of Christ) is come, He will reprove the world of sin (bring rebellion and sin to its fullness), and of righteousness (bring in everlasting righteousness), and of judgment (cleansing of the sanctuary/His people): Of sin, because they believe not on Me (thus we killed Him); Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more (so His Spirit can dwell in us individually); Of judgment (cleansing), because the prince of this world (Satan) is judged (found to be a liar and a murderer, who has misrepresented God’s true character).” (John 16:8-11)

Can you see the same process of how we are reconciled to God in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2?

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slainNow when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:22, 23, 37-39)

Seeing our rebellion towards God flourish to the point of killing His Son causes us to be pricked in the heart and thus brings reconciliation for iniquity. It is us who need to be reconciled to God, not the other way around. We are to pray as Job, “How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.” (Job 13:23). 

When Was the Messiah “cut off”?

Daniel states exactly when Christ would be cut off in verse 27 where he says:

“He (the Messiah) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation (offering) to cease." 

We see here that one week goes by after the Messiah is anointed. There are seven days in one week, therefore this time period is a full seven years. Daniel said the Messiah would be “cut off” and bring an end to sacrifice and oblation in the middle of that week (7 years). The middle of seven years is 3 ½ years and would bring us to the Spring of 31 A.D. — the very year Jesus was crucified.    

Confirming the Covenant

Daniel said that the Messiah would “confirm the covenant with many for one week.” The word “confirm” means to strengthen. Jesus would strengthen the everlasting covenant.

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” (Romans 15:8)

God’s everlasting covenant is that He will do for us that which is not in our power to do for ourselves. Just before God spoke His law from upon Mount Sinai, He met with Moses:

“And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3-6)

The word for “obey” here is שָׁמַע (shema) which means “hear” or “listen.” God was asking them to “hear” Him, thus putting all their trust into His power of grace. The biblical principle of “obedience” is to submit. We are to hear and to submit to God’s indwelling Spirit; “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).

However, after the Israelites hear these words, they respond by saying, “All that the LORD hath spoken WE will do.” (Exodus 19:8). Like Abraham of old, they fell into the mindset that they could perform what God had promised to do for them. In his distrust in God’s promise, Abraham tried to fulfill the promise of a son by having relations with Hagar. Even though a son was born through this union, he was not the son of the promise. Paul uses this story to illustrate the Old and New Covenants:

“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants …” (Galatians 4:22-24)

Most people view the two covenants as two long eras of time, the Old Covenant covering the time-period known as Law before the cross, while the New Covenant covering the time-period known as Grace after the cross. However, we see from the writings of Paul that Abraham experienced both covenants within his own lifespan. He experienced the Old Covenant while trying to fulfil what God had promised to do, but then experienced the New Covenant when he finally surrendered and “believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:2, 3). Therefore, the two Covenants are not two long eras of time, but two conditions or mindsets within the individual.

“It is supposed, by some, that once you have entered into the New Covenant you cannot fall back into the Old Covenant and if you did discover that you have had an Old Covenant experience, it would only prove that you never actually had a New Covenant experience in the first place. We can see from the life of Abraham that this assumption is not true. Abraham believed God and received the gift of Christ’s righteousness, only to find himself later exercising unbelief at the promises of God and have an Old Covenant experience concurrently. Oftentimes we are struck by a promise of God and believe it fully in faith, believing with all our heart it will come true. But as time passes and environmental circumstances change, or we are pressured by outside factors, fear and doubt can enter in, and our faith can falter. This is what happened to Abraham, and this is what happens to us. There is a time when both Hagar and Sarah lived with Abraham, when he was stuck in two minds, flipping back and forth between the two types of covenant experiences. This is the same for every man, who also “walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham” (Romans 4:12). The two covenants reveal what mankind’s and God’s character are really like. God never changes and therefore the promises of God in both covenant experiences are the same. Mankind, in his fallen state, has a vacillating character; he is the one who changes and the choice he makes determines which experience he will encounter, whether Old Covenant or New Covenant. Because mankind is, by virtue of his fallen and deceived nature, in league with Satan, his natural tendency is to want to do things himself and not rely upon God. This guarantees that mankind will always be in an Old Covenant relationship when he first begins his relationship with God. When man comes into a better understanding of God and his dependence upon Him becomes clearer, then he will begin to experience the New Covenant. We see then that the Old Covenant leads to the New Covenant, not because this is the will of God but because the mind of mankind always begins in a state of confusion and ignorance in relation to God [see, John 12:4]. When we trust in God’s promises to be fulfilled as He has promised, then we will experience true rest, for we will not worry about how these promises will be fulfilled. We will believe that what God has said He will also accomplish.

‘He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he [God] was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.’ (Romans 4:20-22).” (Ruben Olschewsky, Faith Journey, pp. 32, 33)

The Old Covenant condition is trying to fulfil God’s promises in your own way and causing self-inflicted pain and sorrow instead. The people in Christ’s day were stuck in this condition which Jesus desired to correct:

“Then said they unto Him (Jesus), What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:28)

In stating this, Jesus was teaching the way in which the covenant is confirmed (strengthened). When we submit ourselves to God’s promises, we allow Him to do the work in us and through us. Jesus confirmed the covenant by allowing His Father to work in and through Him:

“I (Jesus) can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear (shema), I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.” (John 5:30)

“Believest thou not that I (Jesus) am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” (John 14:10)

Paul states the reason for a New Covenant experience:

“But now hath He (Jesus) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon BETTER PROMISES. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For FINDING FAULT WITH THEM (the people), He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because THEY CONTINUED NOT IN MY COVENANT, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Hebrews 8:6-10)

The “better covenant” which is “established upon better promises” is the everlasting covenant. It is called “new”, not in the sense of time, but in the sense of quality, because it is based on God’s promises which are far better than ours. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Is loving one another really a “new” commandment in the sense of time? No. The Greek work for “new” here is καινός (kainos) which means, “previously unused, fresh, properly, new in quality (innovation), fresh in development or opportunity … new (especially in freshness; while neos [a totally different Greek word] is properly so with respect to age.” Kainos is the Greek word used in Hebrews 8:10 above referring to the “new” covenant.

Causing the Sacrifice and Oblation to Cease

Daniel said that, not only will the Messiah “confirm the covenant with many for one week” but “in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation (offering) to cease.” This is just what happened. Paul says:

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins … Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ [Psalm 40:6], (which are offered according to the law), then He (Christ) said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He (Christ) takes away the first (the blood of bulls and goats/animal sacrifices) that He may establish the second (the will of God/our sanctification). By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:4; 8-10)

It is often taught by Bible teachers that Daniel 9:27 is referring to the antichrist power who will make a covenant with the Jewish people for one week (meaning, 7 years), re-establishing the temple services, to only take away the sacrifices in the midst of the 7 years. But we have seen that it is the Messiah who would confirm both the covenant and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Paul above clearly says it is Jesus who “takes away” the animal offerings.

In our previous study we learned that God had never desired nor required animal offerings in order to forgive us (Psalm 40:6). God instituted the sacrificial system to reveal our faulty thinking and our faulty belief of penal atonement which demands the shedding of blood in order that forgiveness can be given. Out of His everlasting love, God gave His Son over to our pagan-influenced justice system for us to finally believe in His forgiveness. Causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease has nothing to do with a penalty being paid and God’s justice being satisfied. It’s talking about our faulty appeasement mindset ceasing. The death of Christ as a lamb led to the slaughter, would cause the sacrifice and oblation MINDSET to cease. We will bring no more blood into the sanctuary.

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My courts? … And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil.” (Isaiah 1:11, 12, 15, 16)

The 70 Weeks Come to a Close

After Jesus’ death in 31 A.D. the disciples labored heavily to reach the lost sheep of Israel and bring them back to the fold. However, exactly 3 ½ years after Jesus’ death there was a man named Stephen who pleaded with the highest religious leaders (known as the Sanhedrin) trying to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. In his speech he went through the history of the Jewish people and how God had been with them every step of the way. He began with Abraham and continues all the way up until king Solomon who built the temple (see, Acts 7:2-46). Then he continues his speech by lovingly convicting the religious leaders of conspiracy to crucify the Messiah. As a result of this, their sin came to the full and they dragged Stephen outside and stoned him to death (Acts 7:58). Just before his death Stephen looked up into heaven and had a prophetic vision and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man (Jesus) standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55, 56). It was God’s final plea to show them that Jesus was truly the long-awaited Messiah. But they still rejected it. This event happened in 34 A.D. exactly 490 years (70 prophetic weeks) from 457 B.C.

“The estimated date for Stephen’s martyrdom is based on the career of the apostle Paul. He [Paul] was still unconverted at Stephen’s death, since he stood by and held the coats of those who stoned him [Stephen] (Acts 7:58). A short time later [after Stephen’s death], Saul [Paul’s former name] left for Damascus to persecute Christians there. On the way to Damascus, he was converted from Saul the Pharisee to Paul the Christian apostle (9:1-9). If Paul’s conversion can be dated, the stoning of Stephen can also be dated within narrow limits. In Galatians 1, Paul gives some biographical details about his career as an apostle, referring especially to his visits to Jerusalem. He made only brief and infrequent visits to Jerusalem, and he gives us some chronological information about them. He says the first visit came three years after his conversion (Vs 18); the second occurred fourteen years after the first (2:1). Then shortly after his second visit to Jerusalem, Paul left on his second missionary journey, which took him to Corinth (Acts 18). While at Corinth, Paul appeared before the proconsul Gallio (Vs 12). So Paul would have stood before Gallio seventeen years following his conversion … From an inscription found in Corinth, we know that Gallio’s one-year proconsulship in Corinth occurred in A.D. 51. If seventeen years for Paul’s two visits to Jerusalem are subtracted from the date of Paul’s appearance before Gallio, then his conversion and Stephen’s stoning should be dated to A.D. 34. This date, A.D. 34, is the one New Testament scholars commonly favor for Stephen’s death and Paul’s conversion.” (William H. Shea, Daniel 7-12, pp. 68,69). 

During Jesus’ ministry He sent out His disciples to preach the gospel to the people. Before sending them out He said, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5, 6). At the beginning the disciples were not to go beyond the “the house of Israel” but later, as the disciples began to search out the lost sheep of Israel beyond the boarders of Jerusalem (which is called Diaspora), then the Gentiles began to be grafted into the everlasting covenant. Paul said this to a few disbelieving Jewish leaders:

“... It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you (Jews) first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46)

The Gentiles were now being grafted in among the covenant people. They were now, through adoption, a part of the “royal priesthood” and the “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9,10). They were NOT a separate sect of believers which replaced the Jews, but were grafted in among the believing Jews! 

All the promises that God gave to the nation of Israel were always based on the acceptance of Jesus. In Genesis 12:7 God is quoted as promising to Abraham, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Commenting on this, Paul wrote:

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘and to your Seed,’ WHO IS CHRIST ... For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus ... there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, their is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 26, 28, 29)

Paul says that the only way anyone can be considered Abraham’s seed is if we accept Jesus who is the true Seed of Abraham. In one discussion between the religious leaders and Jesus we read:

“I (Jesus) speak that which I have seen with My Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a Man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” (John 8:38-40)  

Jesus told them that, just because they were literal descendants of Abraham, it does not make them true children of Abraham. Jesus continues: “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.” (Verse 42). It’s all based upon Jesus! Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (Verse 56). If they were truly Abraham’s seed, they too would have rejoiced to see Him. 

We’ve already mentioned how they had rejected and “cut off” Jesus from themselves, resulting in their house being left unto them desolate. It was the Spirit of Christ being absent from their midst (by their own choice) that caused the destruction of Jerusalem.

“Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest My soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 6:8)

Destruction always comes when men grieve God’s Spirit:

“Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?” (Deuteronomy 31:17)

This reveals to us what God’s anger and wrath truly is – permitting destruction to fall on those who desire Him to depart. Scripture says God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). It is when we rebel against God that sin hides (clouds) God’s merciful face from us (Isaiah 59:2), causing us to think God is the enemy who is against us.

“In all their affliction He (Christ) was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed His holy Spirit: therefore (in their sinful confusion) He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.” (Isaiah 63:9, 10)

Sin causes mankind to perceive God as the enemy who is fighting against us, causing affliction and punishments to fall upon us. But this is the work of the true enemy – Satan. When God’s presence is grieved and no longer desired, God will not interfere with our free choice, but will allow the inherent consequences to play out.

“After the sixty-two weeks the Anointed One (Messiah) shall be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the Prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and its end shall be with a flood, and even to the end shall be war; desolations are determined. He shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, shall [wrath] be poured out on the desolate.” (Daniel 9:26, 27, World English Bible)

We have some interesting wording here for sure. The prophecy is all about “the Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25) who is cut off (murdered) by His own people using the arm of the Roman government. Daniel said the little horn power (Rome) would magnify himself “even to the Prince of the host” and would “stand up against the Prince of princes.” (Daniel 8:11, 25). Now here in Daniel 9:26 we read, “and the people of the Prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This is speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. How is it that the people of the Prince (Messiah) would destroy their own city? By their rejection of the Messiah, leaving their house desolate, they reaped the harvest of which their own hands had sown. As a result of their rejection, they were given over to the enemy’s hand.

When Israel of old rejected God as their King, He tearfully said, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. I will be thy King: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.” (Hosea 13:9-11). Again, God’s anger and wrath is revealed by giving them over to their own desires. He took away king Saul in his wrath by not preventing him to commit suicide (1 Chronicles 10:3-6). God’s wrath against Jerusalem was revealed by Him not preventing the city to be destroyed by the Romans, thus they had destroyed themselves. (For more info concerning God’s anger and wrath, see the Questions Concerning God’s Character section).

Luke quotes Jesus as saying:

“And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation of it is near. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains … For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled … for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24)

This prophecy was fulfilled exactly the way Jesus had said by the Romans. In August of 66 A.D. Cestius attacked Jerusalem and, for some unknown reason withdrew his troops. Then in 67 and 68 Vespasian attacked and subdued the city of Galilee and Judea. However, due to the death of the Emperor Nero, he delayed the attack of Jerusalem. As a result of this, the followers of Jesus remembered His warning and migrated to a town in Perea called Pella (see, Ecclesiastical History, by Eusebius).

Then in the Fall of 70 A.D. Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed by Vespasian’s son Titus, and not one Christian died! Like the story of Joseph, God in His great wisdom will even use pagan armies and kingdoms to achieve His redemptive purposes for good (Genesis 45:4-8; Ezekiel 29:19, 20).

Christ desperately tried to warn the Jewish nation of the flood of Romans that would overwhelm their city and destroy it. The Spirit of Christ was seeking to hold back Rome from doing its work of destruction under the inspiration of Satan, but when the Jews used Rome to seek to destroy Christ, they sealed their doom. As the Jews used the Romans to hang Christ on the cross, the Romans returned a generation later and hung tens of thousands of Jews on crosses after the same order.

“See the one who is pregnant with wickedness, who conceives destructive plans, and gives birth to harmful lies—he digs a pit and then falls into the hole he has made. He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head.” (Psalm 7:14-16, New English Translation)

Remember, Jesus had told the Jews, “If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” So, the Gentiles must remember that in order to be counted as Abraham’s seed we must also “do the works of Abraham.” Of Abraham we read, “Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My Laws.” (Genesis 26:5). The New Covenant does NOT nullify the Law as some teach, instead it magnifies it within the believer.

“Do we then nullify the Law by this faith [making the Law of no effect, overthrowing it]? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law [since it convicts us all of sin, pointing to the need for salvation].” (Romans 3:31; Amplified Bible, words in brackets in the original)

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” (Hebrews 8:10)

This is why the cleansing of the sanctuary at the end of the 2,300 years is connected to what Paul said concerning the second apartment ministry which is the work of “perfecting the conscience [and of] cleansing and renewing the inner man of the worshipper.” (Hebrews 9:9). The ministry of the cleansing of the sanctuary at the end of the 2,300 years will bring to full fruitage God’s promises He made to Abraham concerning His Seed (Messiah) and all those who become one (at-one-ment) with Him.

The Cleansing of the Sanctuary

Remember, Gabriel is not only describing a 490-year time-period, but is primarily explaining the 2,300-day prophecy (from which the 490 years are cut off). The 490 years and the 2,300 years begin at the same time. They both began in the Fall of 457 B.C. 

2,300 years after 457 B.C. brings us to the Fall of 1844 A.D. (remember not to add in the zero year). This falls right on schedule since we have previously learnt that the judgment (cleansing of the sanctuary) would not begin until after the 1,260-year reign of the little horn power (the papacy) which was from 538 A.D. to 1798 A.D. It was in 1844 A.D. when Christ began to cleanse the sanctuary (His people) from all the lies that Satan has used to deceive the whole world concerning God and His character.

We see the need for God’s sanctuary to be cleansed from abominations that are making our soul temple desolate in Ezekiel chapter 8:

“And He (God) brought me (Ezekiel) to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said He unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And He said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said He unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery (imagination, the way in which they perceive God)? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then He brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz (the pagan sun-god, born on December 25, who was worshipped on the sun-day). Then said He unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” (Ezekiel 8:7-16)

No wonder Paul warned of the iniquity that was already working in his day and that the man of sin (the spirit of the papacy) “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped” will “sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). This is why God is lovingly warning all of us that:

“… Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:2-4)

As people start to see through the lies that Satan has perpetrated, they will come out of Babylon (confusion) and into God’s marvelous light. The veil of misapprehension will be removed and we will see God as He truly is, and by beholding that lovely character we will all be changed into the same image:

“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory (character) of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:14-18)

God’s salvation plan will be complete and we will be transformed into His image as we were from the day we were created (Genesis 1:26, 27). We will be sealed in our foreheads (reasoning) with the name (character) of our heavenly Father (Revelation 7:1-4; 14:1); for we will be “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4). Not that we become divine, but that, like Christ who came in “the likeness of sinful flesh” yet filled with the divine nature from His Father, we too will be able to overcome every sin as we submit ourselves unto God’s Spirit.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.” (Titus 2:11, 12)

What the Father did in and through His only begotten Son, He will do in all those who submit and die to self. We will live on this earth in complete union with Him, allowing Him to lay our glory in the dust and permit Him to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. God will have a people upon the earth who will vindicate His honor by having respect to all of His commandments and the whole earth will be enlightened with God’s glory (character). (Revelation 18:1). Paul tells us the purpose of all this:

“The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom (character traits) of God should now be displayed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 3:10).

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ, which is the full display of our Father, shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own; for we will be ready for translation without seeing death.

“Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not been revealed until now what we are going to be, but we know that when He appears, we shall be in His likeness, and we shall see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

 

Next Study: Who Are the Seven Churches?

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