Israel and the Promised Land XII

January 6, 2011

Today’s post is going on to be on what I consider to be one of the strongest arguments in all of the Bible concerning Israel’s divinely-planned present-tense presence in the promised land.  It has to do with the amazing “70 weeks” prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.

The primary reasons I hold that Daniel 9 provides very strong backing for Israel’s land claim is that: 1)  the whole chapter is dealing with the issue of the land in the background; and 2) even today, the chapter’s great prophecy is still not completely fulfilled.  I will start with that background, then proceed from there.

The time is 539 BC and the it has been almost 70 years since the Jewish people had been exiled to Babylon by the Lord.  Since Daniel knew from the recent prophecies in Jeremiah 25 and 29 that the length of the exile was to be 70 years, Daniel prayed fervently for the restoration of Jerusalem, but he did so according to what was required in the restoration passages at the end of Leviticus 26 and in the early verses of Deuteronomy 30. 

In his passionately heartfelt prayer, everything speeds forward to Daniel’s repeated climactic petitions to the Lord:

– “… may Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain” (9:16)

– “Show Your favor to Your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake” (9:17)

 “Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name” (9:18)

– “My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because Your city and Your prople aree called by Your name” (9:19)

Also, from the beginning of the Lord’s answer to this prayer, it is crystal clear that God is not dodging the issue Daniel raised.  Verse 24 begins, “Seventy weeks (i.e., of years) are decreed about your people and your holy city” (HCSB).  Then, verse 25 continues with reference to “the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” 

At that point, things get a little confusing.  In verse 26, we find out that the rebuilt “city” and “sanctuary” (i.e., in the temple) just talked about in verses 24 and 25 will be destroyed again.  However, in verse 27, in the last chronological stage of the prophecy, the presence of the temple is again assumed.

What’s going on here?  Well, to make a long story very short, the predictions of verses 25 and 26 have clearly been fulfilled in history.  A second temple was built (being completed in 516 BC) and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in miraculous time under the leadership of Nehemiah.  Then, the temple and the city were destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

What is left?  The rebuilding of a future temple, which is referred to in Daniel 9:27.  When and how will that happen?  Biblically, we are not given that information, only the clear assumption that it will happen in God’s perfect timing.

What is the biblical basis of that “assumption?”  Three passages in the New Testament: Matthew 24:15 (in context); 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (in context) and Revelation 11:1-2, 8.

Matthew 24:15 refers to “the abomination of desolation” prophesied several times in Daniel.  It is standing in “the holy place,” which is the part of the Jewish temple immediately outside the holy of holies.  Because Matthew 24:21 speaks of “the great tribulation” at the end of the age, also prophesied in Daniel (see 12:1), then the reference in 24:15 must be assuming a temple at the end of the age.

In 2 Thessalonians, Paul’s reason for writing is largely to combat the false idea–spread by a previous letter falsely claiming to come from Paul–that the end-times Day of the Lord has already come (2:1-2).  Paul counters with two signs that must happen for the end-times events to be in motion.  One of those is the revealing of “the man of lawlessness” (v. 3; i.e., the end-times Antichrist figure), of whom this passage says “He exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God” (v. 4, HCSB).

The third passage is Revelation 11, particularly vv. 1-2, 8.  If the book is to be dated about AD 95-96–as is the traditional and majority opinion, contra Gary Burge’s view in his recent Jesus and the Land–and since “God’s santuary in heaven” is mentioned in 11:19 by contrast, then it appears that the wording “God’s sanctuary and altar” in 11:1 nust refer to a future temple, located in Jerusalem (where the two witnesses whose ministry is described in vv. 3-6 die in v. 7,  “where also their Lord was crucified” [v. 8, HCSB]).  For good measure, that identification would seem to be secured by the additional detail regarding the temple of “the courtyard outside the sanctuary” (v. 2, HCSB).

In my next post, I am going to shift gears entirely.  After reflecting over the Christmas-New Year’s period, I concluded that I have bitten off more than I thought when I started this series.  And, since I have at least one paper to write to give at the Southwest regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society at Dallas Seminary in mid-March, my time would be better invested by doing writing, section by section.

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One Response to “Israel and the Promised Land XII”

  1. Doug Cox said

    Perhaps there is another way to look at the temple, and city, of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks, which distinguishes between the earthly Jerusalem, and the heavenly one. Even if Daniel did not know about a heavenly city, the NT church did, and Peter said the prophets wrote “by the spirit of Christ which was in them.”

    So while Daniel said nothing explicit about a heavenly city, his prophetic time period of the 70 weeks nevertheless extends into the age when the heavenly city was established by Jesus. That is the NT era, the time of the church. So wouldn’t the times of Daniel’s prophecy apply to it?

    On the day of Pentecost, Peter said of Jesus: “being by the right hand of God exalted,” and, “God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ,” implying Jesus inherited the throne of David.

    I suggest, once Jesus ascended to heaven, the Jerusalem to which the prophetic times prophecy apply is the heavenly city, rather than the earthly one. Paul in Galatians 4 identified the earthly city with Hagar, who was cast out of Abraham’s household.

    Applying this approach, the first 69 weeks plus half the 70th week were fulfilled in terms of the earthly Jerusalem, but the last half-week of the prophecy applies to the heavenly city.

    Thus the time units that apply to the heavenly city may not be earth days, or earth months, or earth years. The numbers supplied by the angel to Daniel at the end of ch. 12, 1,290 days, and 1,335 days, don’t fit earthly time; that is, they are not precisely three and a half years, in any calendar, but seem to be made up in an ideal fashion, three and a half years of 12 and 13 months, where in each case the units of one year differ from the rest.

    Doug

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