Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #4

Daniel was concerned about the fate of his people and the holy city, Jerusalem. He understood from Jeremiah that the seventy years of Babylonian exile was nearing its end. He prayed a passionate prayer for himself and his nation, confessing his and the nation’s sins (Daniel 9:3-19). God speedily answered his prayer and added information about the future state of his nation.

Daniel was told that it was decreed “to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy” (Dan. 9:24). In addition to six things decreed upon the people and city at the end of his second period of time (69 weeks), other things would occur: 1) the anointed one would be cut off and have nothing; 2) the people of the prince would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary; 3) he would make a firm covenant with many for one week; 4) in the middle of the week he would cause the sacrifice and oblations to cease; and, 5) upon the wings of desolation would come one that makes desolate, and wrath would be poured out upon the desolate. For comments of these latter five items see the previous article of this series.

The first of these items is to “finish transgressions.” The word “finish” carries the sense of “to restrain.” Not only does one find uncertainly among denominational commentaries of the meaning of the expression, but brethren have various views about what is meant by “finish transgression” too. Robert Harkrider believes the prophet has in mind the ending of the law of Moses which had been transgressed by Israel (Revelation, p. 331) which, whether this is what is meant by the phrase “finish transgression” or not, is certainly true. Homer Hailey understood the phrase to mean that the sacrifice of Jesus would restrain sin among those who have been “born again” (Commentary on Daniel, p. 187). Dan King, in his commentary on Daniel in Truth Commentaries, page 615, writes “clearly the prophecy has as its fulfillment that which was accomplished at the cross of Christ.” Whatever the precise meaning of the phrase, there would be no “finishing transgressions” without the sacrifice of Jesus.

The second of things decreed was “the end of sin.” The prophet certainly does not mean that sin would be abrogated, but there is permanent forgiveness of sins which can come only through the blood of Jesus. Jeremiah prophesied of such a day “for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin will I remember no more” (Jer. 31:34). The phrase “the end of sin” could very well refer to the fact that up until the cross there had been no permanent forgiveness of sins. The Hebrew writer spoke of the continual offering for sins and said, “Else would they not have ceased to be offered? Because the worshipper, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance of sin year for year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:2-4). When the blood of Christ is applied, that is the end of sin. Never again will the sinner be confronted with that sin, but until the sacrifice of Jesus was offered, there was a yearly remembrance of past sins.

The prophet spoke of a third thing decreed for God’s people which was “to make reconciliation for iniquity.” Transgression, sin, and iniquity are synonyms of the action of disregarding God’s law. But while transgression, sin, or iniquity place the transgressor as one who has trampled the law of his Creator under his feet, it has also produced spiritual death and alienation from God. Isaiah wrote, “Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that he cannot hear, but your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid his face from you so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Consider one more reference to the sacrifice of Jesus: “For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:19-20).

With an end to sin and reconciliation effected for our iniquities through Jesus’s blood, it follows that “everlasting righteousness” has been brought in. Righteousness is the state of being justified and when sin is hidden and one is reconciled to God, “everlasting righteousness” has been brought about.

During the final week it was also decreed “to seal up vision and prophecy.” Daniel looked to the fulfillment and confirmation of Old Testament prophecies but particularly those of which he wrote in Daniel 9:24-27. By the end of the seventieth week all things Daniel had prophesied had come true. Since there is no definite article before “vision” and “prophecy,” all Old Testament prophecies were to be fulfilled. Today we look to Old Testament prophecy, not for something to be fulfilled in the future, but to something which confirms the veracity of God’s word by its fulfillment.

Finally, during the seventieth week, it was decreed “to anoint the most holy.” Places, things, and people were anointed in the Old Testament era. Since in the last five things that were to happen “the anointed one, the prince” would cut off, and that anointed one is called the “prince” (referring to Jesus), then anointing the “most holy” refers to Jesus. Peter said Jesus was anointed with power and went about doing good (Acts 10:38). But Jesus was anointed with power and authority when He ascended back to His Father after His resurrection. God made Him “both Lord and Christ” and set Him at His right hand (Acts 2:36). Jesus is now King of kings. He is Lord of lords. He is Most Holy of all holies.

Jim McDonald