Robert Jeffress - The Most Amazing Prophecy In The Bible
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. We're continuing our in-depth study of the book of Daniel. And today, we're going to venture into Daniel chapter 9, a passage that, I believe, contains the most remarkable prophecy in all of scripture. More than 500 hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Daniel predicted the year, the month and the day that Jesus would be presented as Messiah in Jerusalem. This prophecy also gives us clarity about where our world is headed in the future. We're pulling back the curtain on the most amazing prophecy in the Bible on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Daniel 9 probably is the clearest outline ever written about where we are heading as a world: where we are: where we are heading and how we should live in light of that truth. You know, any time God gives us a revelation about the future, as he does in this book - any time God tells us about the future, it is not to scratch our itch for a prophetic understanding. The reason God gives us knowledge about the future is so that we can live our lives in a way that's pleasing to him. Today we're going to look at what I believe is the most amazing prophecy of all of the prophecies in scripture. If you have your Bibles turn to Daniel 9.
Now, the setting for Daniel's vision is found in verses 1 and 2, "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans". Now we're told when this vision took place. It took place when Darius, the first Persian ruler was king. Remember it was Darius who had had Daniel thrown into the lion's den when he wouldn't bow down before Darius and worshiped Jehovah instead. And it was after that deliverance that Darius saw that God's hand was on Daniel and he raised him up and made him one of the three commissioners in Babylon. And after that time God gave Daniel this vision. Look at verse 2, "In the first year of Darius' reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years".
Now, Jeremiah had written 100 years before this, Jeremiah had prophesied exactly how long this captivity would be. It would be 70 years. Now, when Daniel was in the first year of Darius' reign, 67 of those years had already passed. And so Daniel consulted the scripture. He said there are 70 years, Daniel thought there were only 3 more years to go and then I am home-free. I'll be allowed to go back into Jerusalem. But Daniel wasn't satisfied just to know that there was going to be an immediate fulfillment of the prophecy. He wanted to know what God was going to do with Israel, because he is so concerned about Israel and the reputation of God. And so he prays this prayer in verses 3-19. We find in this prayer some components of effective praying. First of all, notice it was a sincere prayer. Look at verse 3, "So I gave my attention to the Lord". Underline that, "I gave my attention to the Lord".
You know what that means? It means Daniel folded up his newspaper, turned off the television set, laid down his smartphone, and he got serious about praying. God blesses the prayers of those who pray intently. In fact, it was so intent notice what he does. He said he accompanied his prayer and supplications with fasting.. He put on sackcloth. That was a coarse garment that you put on. It wasn't for God's benefit. It was for Daniel's benefit to remind him of his spiritual poverty. Sprinkled himself with ashes: that was a way of showing mourning over your sin and over your condition. He prayed sincerely. He gave attention to the Lord.
Secondly, notice it was a searching prayer. Look at verse 5, he said to God, "God, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from your commandments and ordinances". Daniel understood that before he prayed and asked God for something, he needed to confess his own sin. That says something to us: before we launch into our give me, give me, give me, give me, give me: we need to take time to acknowledge our sinfulness before God. You know, to me what's interesting is: did you know that Daniel is the only major Old Testament character who has no major sin that is recorded in scripture? No polygamy: no adultery: no murder - none of those things that you ascribed to these other great men of faith in the Bible. Daniel had no major sin, but he knew he was still sinful. The fact is the closer you get to God, the more aware you are of your own sinfulness. Daniel realized he needed God's forgiveness, he and the nation as a whole, so he confessed his sin.
And thirdly, it was a specific prayer. Look at verses 16-17, "O Lord, in accordance with all your righteous acts, let now your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem". Remember Jerusalem was an ash heap: it was a rubble: the temple had been destroyed 70 years earlier. "Turn away your wrath against Jerusalem, your holy mountain: because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a reproach to all those around us".
The heathen were laughing at the Israelites. They were laughing at the God of the Israelites for his failure to keep his promise and make Israel a great nation. Verse 17, "So now, our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplications, and for your sake", not my sake God, "For your sake, o Lord, let your face shine on your desolate sanctuary". Look at verse 19, "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For your own sake, o my God, do not delay, because your city and your people are called by your name".
You see, God's reputation was on the line here. God had promised an everlasting covenant with Israel and now it looked like that covenant had been broken. And because of that the God of Israel was being blasphemed. He said: that's why God I want you to act. I want you to restore Israel just as you promised: to rebuild your sanctuary. God would you please do this? That was the prayer Daniel prayed. And God answered that prayer in a way far more than Daniel experienced God's answer to the prayer, he showed Daniel not just what he was going to do in the short term, but he revealed to Daniel God's entire plan for Israel until the end of time. And in that plan we find God's plans for all the nations of the world and for people like you and I.
So, let's look at the answer to prayer, the revelation of Daniel's vision. Look at, first of all, God's messenger that came to deliver the answer, the vision to Daniel about what would happen to Daniel and the nation of Israel. Look at verse 21, "While I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering". The vision came through the angel Gabriel. Remember he and Michael are the only angels that are actually named, other than Lucifer the fallen angel who became satan. But it was Gabriel who was the instrument by which this vision came. And now we find the message itself, the vision of what God was going to do not just in the short term, but ultimately for Israel.
Now, look at verse 24, we're going to get a vision of all of God's plan for Israel. Verse 24, "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city". Now that word "Weeks" is an unfortunate English translation, because that's not what it says in the Hebrew text. Some editor just put that in there. You know what the word translated "Weeks" actually means? It means "Sevens". Literally what Gabriel said to Daniel was: "Seventy sevens had been decreed for your people and your holy city".
Now, I want you to imagine that God has a stopwatch, ok. And on that stopwatch it starts at 490 and it's going to count down. What God was saying to Daniel was in the next 490 years, over a period of 490 years I'm going to complete my plan for Israel and the entire world. And notice what he says here in verse 24, he says specifically in these 490 years, 6 things are going to be accomplished.
First of all, to finish the transgression: that is an end to Israel's belief and apostasy.
Secondly, he says in verse 24, during that time to make an end of sin. That means an end of the sacrificial system that the Jews had observed.
Number three, during that time there will be an atonement made for iniquity. That word "Atonement" is the Hebrew word that is used to describe the pitch that was placed on Noah's ark to keep the water out. Of course that was a picture of the blood of Jesus Christ by which our sins are atoned. They are covered over by the blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, during these 490 years there would be an atonement made for sins. That's obviously a reference to the death of Christ the Messiah.
Number four, during this time to bring an everlasting righteousness. That's a reference to the second coming of Christ. Isaiah 9, when he sets up his perfect kingdom in the world through the millennium.
Number five, to seal up the vision in the prophecy. That is, at the end of these 490 years there'll no longer be a need for visions and prophecy - everything will have been fulfilled.
Number six, to anoint the most holy place. What was the most holy place to the Jews? It was the temple. Of course now the temple was in shambles, but this prophecy said over the next 490 years this temple is going to be built and it's going to be anointed as a holy place.
Now stay with me. What God is saying is: in 490 years I'm going to fulfill all of these prophecies. Some of these prophecies were fulfilled immediately when Israel returned from exile. Some of them were fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, but some of them are still future to be fulfilled when Christ returns again. Now, alright, I want you to put your spiritual scuba gear on, ok. Because we're going to actually go into now these 490 years. Look at verse 25 with me, "So you are to know and discern that from the beginning of the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks".
Now here is the question: when did that happen? Did you know we know exactly when that happened? We know the month, we know the day, we know the year from extra-biblical history. It happened on March 14, 445 B.C. See the fact is, earlier it was Cyrus who authorized the rebuilding of the temple: that happened in 538 B.C., but that's not what Gabriel said. He said: when the decree goes forth to rebuild the City of Jerusalem. That happened about 80 years later. And it happened on March 14, 445 B.C. It was under the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus, he is the one who issued the decree that allowed the Jews to leave Babylon and return to rebuild the City of Jerusalem.
Now, notice what Gabriel said: from the time that happens until Messiah the Prince - there will be a period of 62 weeks of years, 434 years plus the previous 49 years. Now the easy way to remember this is what is 7 + 62, class? 69. Sixty-nine 7's or 69 weeks of years that is 483 years. He says: from the time this decree is issued, and it would happen in 445 B.C., until the time of Messiah the Prince there will be 483 years that will have counted down on this stopwatch. Now, when was Messiah the Prince? Stay with me on this? Because when you go through the calendar and understand what happened, we know that the decree was issued on the first of Nisan or March 14, 445 B.C. And we know that Messiah the Prince was presented on April 2, 32 A.D. We call it palm Sunday but between that time that the decree was issued until that day, palm Sunday, was exactly to the date 483 years.
Now that is amazing! That Daniel writing 500 years before the case could look down the corridor of history and see both of events taking place and it happened to the very day God had predicted. I think that is why when Jesus was making his triumphal entry-and remember when the Jews had rejected him he cried over Jerusalem. And the passage we just read this morning in Luke 19:42 he said, "If you had known in this day even you the things which make for peace but now they have been hidden from your eyes". To Jesus there was something significant about this day. What was significant was it was the day Daniel had prophesied about 550 years before the fact.
Now, let's look at this chart here. Daniel said that from the time the decree is issued until Messiah the Prince is presented 483 years will have elapsed. There are seven years left for God to accomplish his purpose for Israel and the world. And there is an interval in between that first four hundred and eighty-three years and the final seven years. God has stopped that stopwatch. We are living in the time of the church when gentiles can be saved. The church age will end with the rapture of the church when we're taken to be with the Lord in heaven. And when that happens guess what happens. God presses that stop watch for those final seven remaining years that God has left to deal with Israel. It's that final seven years that is talked about in the Bible as Daniel's 70th week. Sometimes we call it the Great Tribulation. Sometimes it's called the time of Jacob's distress. But all of it is referring to that final seven years on God's stopwatch-the final seven years that will begin with the rapture of the church.
Now, look at verse 27. "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week or seven years". But in the middle of the week what will he do? "He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering, and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate even until a complete destruction one that is decreed is poured out on one who makes desolate". The Bible says in Daniel. Jesus said it in Matthew 24. John said it in Revelation that half-way through that seven year period antichrist will turn against Israel. He will turn against the people of God. He will break that peace covenant, and for the final three and half years of earth's history there will be an unbelievable persecution of God's people: the Jews and Christian gentiles alike. It's a persecution like no one has seen before. The Great Tribulation.
Jesus spoke of it in Matthew 24. Remember what he said talking about the end times: the events that would be followed by his second coming. He wasn't speaking about past history. He was looking to something that was future and surrounded his return. Matthew 24:15-16, he said, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place let the reader understand then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. For then there will be a Great Tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now nor ever will".
I want you to notice something here. It is Jesus who said the book of Daniel hasn't been fulfilled yet. There is still prophecy yet to be fulfilled. And it won't be fulfilled in 38 years from now when Titus destroys this city. No. The events Daniel spoke about are ultimately referring to the events that will precede my second coming. That's what Jesus Christ himself said. There is going to be a time of persecution like believers have never experienced who are here during that time. And only then, only when God has finished those seven years, only when that stopwatch is counted down to the final year will Christ return and set up his everlasting kingdom. That is Daniel's 70th week. That is the time of Jacob's trouble that the Bible prophesies about.
Let me share with you today in closing two practical principles that come from Daniel chapter nine. Principle number one: God has a plan for your life. God has a plan for your life. He had a plan of his people Israel. And by the way it was a plan that was big enough to include Israel's rejection of Christ, their crucifixion of the Messiah. It was big enough to include the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and everyone who followed him. It is a plan big enough to even include the antichrist. God had a plan for Israel. God has a plan for you as well. And God's plan for your life-this is so encouraging to me-is big enough not only to include the mistreatment by other people against you just like people mistreated the Jews.
God's plan for your life includes the mistreatment, the unfair, unjust mistreatment you receive. God's plan is also big enough to include your mistakes and your sins against God. Just like God's plan for Israel was big enough to include Israel's rebellion against God. God is able to take all of those things and work them together to accomplish his plan for your life. God has a plan for us.
Second truth I see in this passage is: God has a timetable for accomplishing his plan. God has a timetable for accomplishing his plan in your life. And by the way his timetable is usually different from ours. Have you noticed that? When God said to Israel: now, I have 490 years on my time table for you. And everything was going along just as God planned for the first 483 years. Then God hits that pause button. He goes over here for 2,000 plus years and is doing something else. Israel feels forsaken. They're not forsaken. God hasn't forgotten about his promise. At just the right time he will finish the plan, but he's going to do it according to his time - not ours. The same thing is true for you.
I believe I'm talking to some of you this morning who think God has given up on you. That he's over doing something else, that he's forgotten all about you. No he hasn't. He has a plan and he has a time table for accomplishing that plan. And it's a plan you can trust in. Ladies and gentlemen, when we place our hand in God's hand: we commit to following him, obeying him, trusting in his plan and his timetable: we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.