Challenging Covenantalism: The Future Of Israel According To Daniel.
We have been considering the false claims of Covenant Theology. The assertions are summarized as follows:
- God made a covenant with Adam.
- God made a covenant with the elect.
- God made a covenant with Christ.
- Israel, as a national entity, is subsumed by the church, the true Israel.
- All of history will be consummated into the eternal state apart from a Millennial Reign of Christ.
- All of Scripture, but primarily the prophetic portions, are subject to a “type and shadows” hermeneutic.
- The actual covenants of Scripture, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New mostly, are simply expressions of the asserted Covenant of Redemption and, therefore, are of lesser importance.
These assertions, as demonstrated beforehand, are false. The assertions are based primarily upon a contrived philosophical belief system using passages of Scripture shaped the way they want. I am glad that Covenantalists support the dire need for sound hermeneutics. I just wish they would extend that to these issues.
At this point, I want to take a bit of a break and work on a subject that will be helpful to our discussion concerning the future of Israel. It also ties the covenants discussed beforehand together. Further, this discussion will demonstrate for us a hermeneutic that is sound and supported by the Lord Himself.
We are going to discuss Daniel’s Seventy Weeks’ vision as interpreted to him by Gabriel. The passage is found in Daniel 9:24-27. This little section is so very intense in its information and intense in its implications, that it deserves treatment in this discussion. It concerns God’s timetable for Daniel’s “people and [his] holy city” (Daniel 9:24).
24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week 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 the one who makes desolate.”
Daniel is in Babylon. He has been there since the first deportation to Babylon in 605 B.C (Daniel 1:1). Daniel was approximately 15 years old when deported. He would go on to become learned in the literature and language of the Chaldeans (1:4) along with his friends. After three years of education in the Babylonian culture, they would become personal servants to the King Nebuchadnezzar (1:5).
In the first year of King Darius’ reign, Daniel had the Torah and other portions of the OT writings before him, including the writings of Jeremiah, who prophesied just prior to and during the initial years of the siege of Babylon (see Jeremiah 25:3; 32:24ff) against Jerusalem. Daniel, being broken over the condition of his people and his city, goes back to the books of the Law in order to understand what will happen with Israel. He notices in Jeremiah that the judgment of God is for seventy years-one year for each Sabbath-year they refused to follow (Daniel 9:2; cf. Jeremiah 25:11,12; 34:12-17). Calculating from the original siege 70 years, he realizes that framework of time is coming to an end. The year of Nebuchadnezzar’s first siege was 605 B.C. Seventy years from that arrives at 535 B.C. Daniel wrote this prophecy in 539 B.C. (see 9:1-2). Thus, he was nearing the end of the seventy years’ exile to Babylon. It is also historically accepted that Daniel died just before the return of the exiles. Thus, he prays to God concerning his sins and those of his people Israel. They have sinned, committed iniquity, and acted wickedly (9:5). He asks that God forgive them and consider their desolate condition (9:16-18). For His name’s sake, Daniel begs that God take action for the restoration of His people and His city (9:19). In the midst of his prayer, Gabriel attends to Daniel and teaches him what God will do with His people and His holy city.
This prophecy gives us the comprehensive picture of the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. It is vast, detailed, and accurate. Gabriel says, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Remember, Daniel’s prayer was concerning God’s people and holy city (9:19). So, in response to that concern of this saint, God gives him understanding about the decree. This decree is about Israel, the nation, and the holy city, Jerusalem. It is not related to the Gentiles specifically. However, as we determined with the covenants, what happens to the nation of Israel alters the entire planet.
One note here concerning hermeneutics of this passage. Just like Daniel could read the prophet Jeremiah and understand “seventy years” as “seventy years” and not seventy ages of time or some indeterminable amount of time, so we too must see these numbers in Daniel 9:24-27 as exactly what the natural reading of the text demands-literal, plain, precise, non-figurative language.
Israel is in exile because they refused to keep the Sabbath Year. It was a part of the Law that Israel would take a year off from farming every seven years in order to refresh the land (Leviticus 25:1-8). Israel refused to do this at least 70 times during their 860 years of existence (Exodus from Egypt, 1446 B.C. to Babylonian captivity/destruction of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.). Because of this, Israel would be in exile to make up for the 70 years that they worked instead of resting from their labors (Jeremiah 34:12-17). The issue was the Sabbath-Year rest. That same motif is used in verses 24-27 as well. Before the exile, the cycle of Sabbath-Year rest was used for calculating their punishment. Post-exile, the Sabbath-Year rest would also be used to communicate their future. So, seventy “sevens,” or “periods of sevens” is in view here. Specifically, seventy periods of seven-year cycles corroborating with the Sabbath-Year rest of the Law. Further, the use of the Sabbath-Year rest as a judgment was spoken of in the Law of Moses. Moses taught in Leviticus 26:34-35
34 ‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
35 ‘All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.
Thus, it is completely natural to consider these as seventy cycles of seven-year periods of the Sabbath-Year instruction.
Further, at the end of the 490 years, six things will happen:
- “To finish the transgression”: to complete the ordained transgressions of Israel.
- “To make and end of sin”: to stop sin.
- “To make atonement for iniquity”: to ultimately atone for Israel’s iniquity.
- “To bring in everlasting righteousness”: to introduce the righteousness of eternity.
- “To seal up vision and prophecy”: to end these components of God’s plan.
- “To anoint the most holy place”: to install the most holy permanently.
Thus, the seventy sevens equaling 490 years will exist from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. At the end of such time, all six of these magnificent actions will be introduced. Obviously, that has not happened yet. We are still waiting.
Next time, we will discover more specifics about the starting point of this 490 year period and what will happen during.