Daniel 9:1-2, 24-26
Imagine you’re sitting on your couch, watching television and there’s a knock at the door. You go to the door and you look out your front porch and there’s a guy standing there, and he says, ‘Hi my name’s Jim. I’m your new neighbor. We’re having a cookout. We just moved in. We are three houses down and we’re having a cookout this Friday; just wanted to invite you to come over and hang out with us, party with us, what do you think?’ In that situation you wouldn’t ask to see photo ID that this guy’s name is really Jim. You wouldn’t demand to see his last three years of tax returns. You wouldn’t be taking fingerprints or asking for references to show that his name really is Jim, that he really does live three houses down from you. No, because he’s really not asking that much from you. You would be inclined to be like, ‘sounds good, maybe see you Friday.’ You go and you sit back down. There's another knock at the door, you look out on your porch again and there’s a different guy standing there. He goes, ‘uh sir, my name is Officer Jim. I’m with the county Police Department. I'm going to have to ask you to put on these handcuffs and get in my car, I’m going to have to take you downtown to answer a few questions.’ Now this is a case where there’s a little more risk. I'm less inclined to trust this officer Jim than I was neighbor Jim. I’d want to see some identification. I’d want to see a police badge, a badge number. I’d want to look out there and see if there’s a real genuine police car sitting there, and not a 1984 Dodge Charger. I take a look at those handcuffs and I say are those real handcuffs? I’d want to see some verification, some credentials if I’m going to put on some handcuffs and get in a guy's car with him and go wherever he wants to take me.
Now imagine this scenario: you open your door and now there’s another guy standing there, and he says, ‘hi my name is Jesus Christ. I’m fully God. I was here before the world was created; in fact, the world was created by and through me. I died for your sins. I rose from the dead. I'm coming back one day, to make this whole world new. I want to forgive you. I want to give you eternal life. I want you to come with me and you can rule the world with me. Put your trust in me alone,’ he says. Now that’s a case where I’d really want to see some credentials. I’d want to see some identification. I’d want to see some evidence that this guy is really who he says he is. Either this is the greatest man who has ever lived, offering me the greatest thing I could ever be offered, or it’s a hoax. It’s a fraud. And I should slam the door in his face. Well, God knows there’s a lot of false saviors and a lot of false religions walking around door-to-door claiming to be The Way. And so, that’s why he has given us Bible prophecy, among other things, as possibly the greatest evidence he has given us for the truths of his word and specifically for his son Jesus Christ.
Norman Geisler says there’s 191 Old Testament prophecies predicting the Messiah. He says if even 48 of those are true (a quarter of those) the odds of one person fulfilling 48 would be one and 10 to the 157th power. God says, ‘I have given you predictive prophecy in my word especially related to my son because I want you to know this is from me. This is too important: you need credentials, you need evidence, you need some identification.’ He says in Isaiah 41,
“Present the case for your idols,” says the Lord. “Let them show what they can do…Let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen. Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us.
That’s a problem of idols, they can’t do anything.
But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves.
He says about idols and all false religions. He goes on in Isaiah 46, he says,
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done.
Well tonight we get to study what’s probably my favorite prophecy in the Bible, Daniel 9. One of the greatest prophecies predicting the coming of Jesus Christ as the Savior, what he would do, that he will be killed, and it predicts it to the very year, 33 CE. Let's take a look at what Daniel has to say. And by the way, there’s some numbers tonight, it’s a little complicated. We’re going to have to do some math. In fact, I’ll need someone with a phone with a calculator here down in front. Anyone want to be my volunteer to check my math on this? Brad, all right, good. But all this math is going to be worth it, okay? You got to hang in here. Daniel writes in Daniel 9:1, (this is the fourth vision he gets in his lifetime, that we know of, the fourth of five telling the future). He says,
It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.
We’re in about 539 BC, the Medes have just conquered the Babylonians. Daniel has been in Babylon. He was taken there as a teenager, as a prisoner of war. He's been there for almost 70 years at this point. He’s an old man by now; he’s in his mid-80s and he’s reading his Bible, this is how this whole thing starts, he’s reading his Bible and he’s praying that day and he says,
During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the Lord, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet,
He’s reading the book of Jeremiah. Daniel, when he was a boy growing up in Jerusalem, he probably heard the preaching of Jeremiah on the streets of the city. People knew in Jeremiah’s day that he was a prophet, that he was speaking the word of the Lord, and now Daniel had a collection of Jeremiah's writings that he viewed as scripture in his own day. He’s reading these prophecies and he says he was reading in Jeremiah,
that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.
Jerusalem had been conquered and torn to the ground by the Babylonians. The temple, the city, everything was a disaster and he was reading that Jeremiah the prophet predicted this desolation. In Jeremiah 29:10 we have this prophecy from Jeremiah. He says,
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.”
He said, after 70 years I’m bringing you back. Daniel is thinking, ‘it’s been about seventy years, do we get to go back? Is God going to restore?’ He didn't symbolize these numbers or spiritualize, he viewed it as 70 literal years and then something big is going to happen. Why did they get taken into exile?
Why did Jerusalem have to lie desolate for 70 years? Because they never really followed God‘s law. God said, ‘I’m going to leave you in this land I’ve given you, I’m going to protect you, I’m going to keep you safe, you just need to be faithful to me, follow the commands I’ve laid down in my word.’ The people never really did. And it went on for so long, after so many warnings, after so many temporary disciplines, God finally said, ‘you guys are out of here, for a time until you can come back and maybe you’ll appreciate it and maybe you’ll be a little more likely to listen when you come back to this land.’
Now why did the exile last 70 years? That's another interesting question. It was tied to one particular law that was used to calculate this apparently, which was known as the Sabbath Years. You see, what God said was in Leviticus 25 there was supposed to be a Sabbath rest for the land. People were supposed to get a Sabbath off every week, one day of every seven, but it was also supposed to be one year of every seven years. It was rest for the people, but it was also rest for the land. They’re supposed to not plant anything, just let the fields lie fallow. They can go out and pick whatever sprung out that year, but they were supposed to trust God to provide for them. Today we know this is good agricultural practice, crop rotation, letting fields lie fallow periodically. Back then, God knew that too, but it was also supposed to be an act of trust in him. Well, every seventh year they were supposed to take a sabbath year off. Apparently, they had skipped 70 sabbath years. It had been 420 years, maybe since the time of King David. They skipped for 420 years! It looks like they never really followed this law. We have no evidence, if they ever followed this. And so, God was finally like, ‘all right we’re taking them all at once.’ It’s like you don’t use your vacation time and then just like you’re done alright? You’re out for 70 years. It was a vacation they were supposed to take, and they wouldn’t do it! So, it became an exile instead and God sends them off to Babylon. Jerusalem was lying desolate, but God promised, ‘I’m going to send you back after seventy years’ and Daniel believed that promise. Sure enough, that’s exactly what God did. The Sabbath year law and the exile of 70 years, these are connected to one another in a passage like 2 Chronicles 36. It says,
So the message of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled [the one we just read]. The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate until the seventy years were fulfilled.
You can see it very clearly all coming together there. There is no smoke and mirrors here, God sent them away and now God is going to bring him back.
And so, Daniel starts praying. As you see in this prophecy, he’s getting excited about Bible prophecy being fulfilled in his day. It’s very exciting when you see that. And so, he starts asking God, what is the future going to be? God where are we headed? Are we going back, and what next? And so, he’s got this awesome prayer for about 20 verses in Daniel 9 that we don’t have time to get into tonight, but you should read that. He gets to the end of this prayer and then God sends an angel to show him what will happen next. And in Daniel 9:24 we see this incredible prophecy begin. It’s only 2 1/2 versus that we are going to look at tonight. He says,
Seventy ‘sevens’ have been decreed for your people and your holy city.
The Jews and Jerusalem are the people and the holy city. Seventy ‘sevens’ for what? It’s a period of time. That will give you time 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.
Now it’s a little hard to tell exactly what each of these things are referring to, but it sure doesn’t seem like some of them are fulfilled yet even today. Bringing in everlasting righteousness, making an end of sin, I see sin all of the time. I see lots of problems in this world, this sounds like it’s talking about the Kingdom of God, that the Messiah, the savior is going to come back and set up. And in fact, these 70 ‘sevens,’ that’s exactly what they predict. They predict a period of time lasting all the way up to the end of human history. And tonight, we’re going to look at the first 69 of these. Next week we will look at the 70th ‘seven’ which is still in the future.
Tonight, we’ll look at 69 of these ‘sevens’ which are already fulfilled. He says,
So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [We know who he is right?] There will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’; it will be built again, with streets and strong defenses, even in times of distress.
A period of time is being predicted here, these ‘sevens’ are probably ‘sevens of years.’ That’s what we were just reading about earlier in Daniel 9 right? Those Sabbath years, those seven-year periods. They just finished a 490-year-period right? And now he’s predicting another 70 times ‘seven’ year period. There’s a future 490 he’s predicting.
He's predicting that Jerusalem will be rebuilt. It was desolate. ‘Not only am I going to send you back,’ God says, ‘but it’s going to be rebuilt, the temple is going to be rebuilt, and the defenses around the city.’ Sometimes they’d send exiles back and they could rebuild parts of their city, but they weren’t allowed to rebuild their wall. It was such a pain to attack a city with a big wall around it. You might sit there for years waiting to starve the people out until you can finally get in there and take them again if they rebelled. But God says, ‘even the defenses are going to be rebuilt, the streets are going to be rebuilt, this is going to be Jerusalem again.’
There’s going to be a decree for the rebuilding of the walls, the defenses of the city and then from that point forward that’s when the clock starts.
There will be 7 plus 62 seven-year periods (so 69 seven-year periods) until Messiah, the prince, the promised one, the Savior we see throughout the Old Testament comes. Then it says,
after those last 62 sevens,
What will happen after ‘Messiah the Prince’ arrives? The Jews are well aware of this. He was going to set up his kingdom, he was going to put an end to all evil. It’s the eternal kingdom of God. Remember that passage we read last week in Daniel 7? Daniel had this vision and he says,
I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world…His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.
Yeah! King Messiah! The days of glory will truly begin at that point. They knew what to expect when Messiah the Prince came up and that’s exactly where Daniel 9 goes off script and throws them a curveball. He says,
after the sixty-two ‘sevens’ [What will happen?] the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing
That's not supposed to happen. What about that city and temple we just rebuilt in the earlier part of the prophecy?
and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
What?! If we look at the coming of Jesus Christ, what we have here is really one of the mysteries buried in the prophecies of the Old Testament that become clear in the New Testament. There are predictions of this Messiah reigning powerfully and conquering all evil and setting up an eternal kingdom. But then you’ve got these predictions of this suffering servant, coming and suffering and even dying as a guilt offering, The Old Testament was not clear about this on purpose; that the Messiah would come once to die for sin and then again to do all the other stuff. He had to come and die for sins otherwise there would be nobody who could be in his eternal kingdom because only the righteous get in. And nobody is righteous, no not one, we have to have his forgiveness to be allowed into his kingdom and he had to die for us because justice had to be served. So, Jesus came in 33 CE. He died, he was cut off, he rose from the dead and rose to heaven. But just a few decades after that, the Romans (that’s the people of the prince) come. Remember the Antichrist we saw last week would come out of the Roman stock? The people, the Romans, would destroy the city and the sanctuary. That’s exactly what happened in 70 A.D. Now, the question is, do the numbers work out? It would be pretty nice if it did. You can see why this would be such an incredible Bible prophecy, and what we have here is too. It's the only prophecy that I know of, in the Old Testament, that ties the Messiah directly to his death. But it’s kind of a strange and confusing one unless you know how to interpret it. Let's go back through and let’s take a look at this prophecy.
So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
Remember this is our starting point,
until Messiah the Prince
That’s our end point.
There will be 7 ‘sevens’ and 62 ‘sevens’
So that’s the amount of time from the starting point to the endpoint.
The Starting Point: The Decree
Again, no funny business here I’m just reading right out of the text. Here we learn a little more about that decree because there are multiple decrees related to Jerusalem.
It will be built again with streets with strong defenses and even in times of distress.
So, what do we have for the starting point? The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem with streets and strong defenses even in times of distress. This is not just ‘go back and rebuild the temple’ or even just a general ‘go back.’ It’s explicitly authorizing and okaying the rebuilding of the city, including the defenses. So that would be a significant step forward here. Now there are three decrees in Scripture related to Jerusalem that sent the Jews back, that authorized various things related to the building of the temple. In Ezra 6 there are two of them and in Ezra 7 there’s a third recorded for us. The thing is, all these refer to the rebuilding of the temple and they say nothing about Jerusalem defenses. This is very important so these can’t be the decrees. These are in the 500/400s BCE. However, there is a fourth decree in Nehemiah chapter 2 that is a very nice match for the decree that we’ve got here in Daniel. It is going to be 100 years after the time of Daniel that this decree is going to happen. I'd like to read Nehemiah 2:1-8. Nehemiah was a Jew, who is also in Persia because the Persians took over the Babylonians and he’s working for the King and he says,
Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign
Who is this King Artaxerxes? This is important, he’s a guy who we know from history, there’s no debate about this. This King (Artaxerxes Longimanus is what they call him), Longimanus is Latin for ‘a long hand.’ His right hand apparently was longer than his left one and he became known for this. I don’t know how this would’ve looked. Nehemiah says,
I was serving the king his wine.
He was Artaxerxes’ cupbearer. This was the guy that was the first line of defense if they tried to poison the king. If the poison was in the wine, the cupbearer, he’d just hang out next to the king and whenever the king was going to have some wine, he’d just take a drink of it first. It was like his drinking buddy. And then he’d just kind of wait, and if the cupbearer didn’t die then the king will drink the rest of it. And if the cupbearer did die, they’d go get a new cupbearer. Pretty good job, hard to get life insurance. So, Nehemiah is hanging out there with King Artaxerxes and the king would take a pretty good interest in his cupbearer because his own life depended on it. Nehemiah is so bummed out in this passage about what he’s just realizing about Jerusalem (it’s still in ruins) and he’s been praying about this for a long time.
And the king asked me [Nehemiah], “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
This shows that the decree couldn’t have happened before now because the city and gates are still in ruins! They haven’t been rebuilt up until this point 100 years later. And,
The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it pleases the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” I also said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River
Interesting, letters related to the rebuilding of the city. He said these letters should say,
‘Let Nehemiah travel safely through territories on his way to Jerusalem.’
And he says, while you’re writing letters how about,
one address to Asaph, manager of the king force, instructing him to give me timber.
to make beams for the gates of the temple fortress and the city walls and a house for myself.
Gate, walls, fortress, letters, Daniel 9 bells should be going off right now. And the king said yeah!!!
He granted these requests because the gracious hand of God was on me.
The starting point, the time this decree was given, is the month of Nissan during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes reign. When was this? Do we know about this guy? Yes, we do. Artaxerxes I of Persia. Here’s the Wikipedia article he reigned 465 to 424 BC this is not a controversial point!
Forty years as King of Persia. 465 BC is the year he ascended to the throne. They usually started counting at the first full year as king and so his first full year would’ve been 464 and so -464BCE +20 years what do we got?
-444 BCE ! Right! So Nissan, the month of Nissan of his 20th year would be March 444 BCE. That’s a starting point for our decree right? We have our timeline here, the command to rebuild Jerusalem, until the prince Messiah comes, 444BC that’s where we are beginning. Our little math equation.
He divides it into two chunks here. 7 ‘sevens’ and 62 ‘sevens.’ It doesn’t tell us what happens in between the 7 and the 62. Maybe that’s when they completely, finally, got all the rubbish and rubble out of Jerusalem and everything completely rebuilt. They had a rough going there early when they were under attack while they were building. That’s why it says, ‘under times of distress it’s going to be rebuilt.’ But there are 7 ‘sevens’ and then 62 ‘sevens.’
Well, the 7 ‘sevens’ are 7x7. For 62 ‘sevens’ you have to multiply 62x7 so let’s see.
-444+483 = 39.
All right, 39 CE, well it’s pretty close to 33 CE right? I mean, let’s give a hand for Bible prophecy. Hold on, I forgot something. My egocentric western mind has just assumed that everyone counts years the same way that I do. You guys, probably noticed, that right? You’re multicultural. 483 years is our interval. Is it possible they counted years differently than us? Is it possible that anyone in the world would do anything differently than 21st century America does it? Actually yeah.
Solar vs Lunar Calendar
Today in Jerusalem, for example, a multicultural city, if you went up to someone on the street and asked them what day it was one person might say, ‘well it’s 11 December in the year 2017.’ That will be the person on the solar calendar, the Gregorian calendar. The calendar that we didn’t even adopt until the 1750s. This is sort of a new thing even for us, this calendar that we know today and love.
Someone else thought might say, ‘No! It's the 23rd of Kislev 5778 A.M. (Anno Mundi). This will be someone on the Jewish calendar, the Hebrew calendar that uses a lunar calendar, which is inserting a lunar leap month every couple of years because a lunar calendar is shorter than solar calendar.
Someone else might say, ‘No! It’s not the ninth month or the twelfth month, it’s the third month. It’s Rabi Al-Awwal, 1439 A.H. (Anno Hegirae). That would be someone using the Islamic calendar, which also has a different starting point and uses lunar months. But they don’t do the leap month, so their seasons slowly move as the years go by to correspond with different months.
Other people measure things differently than us. Did you ever go to Canada and look at the speed limit signs? Like sweet 110! It is actually 50 miles an hour. But it’s Canada, what would they do if they give you a ticket. It’s not like they’re going to extradite you. Anyway, I’m not giving any legal advice here. The point is, different people count things differently, and in this case, ancient Jews were on a different calendar, as were the Babylonians. The ancient Jews based their months off the cycles of the moon, which put a normal month at 30 days. A normal month. Every few years they added a leap month to keep the seasons where they should be.
And so, Bible prophecies we find use 30-day months and 360-day years. They don’t know where the leap months are going to be, they are calculating in advance. When they say years, they mean 360 days a year. For example, here is Revelation 11:2 (I mentioned last week), says,
They’ll trample the holy city for 42 months
The very next verse referring to the very same time period says,
They will prophesy during these 1260 days.
42 months on our calendar would not be 1260 days. This calendar though, the one the prophets were thinking in terms of, the month was 30 days. So, we have it right here in scripture. There are other places in scripture like this. It’s not the only one. That links the month to 30 days. There are also ones that say 3 1/2 years equals 42 months equals 1260 days.
Which means, we’ve got to convert Daniel’s 483 years into years that we can make some sense of because all of our history has been laid out on our dating system and not theirs.
483 (lunar) years x 360 days.
Divide by 365.25 days (the number of days in a solar year) and that gives us 476.06 (solar) years.
32 CE is pretty close, right? I mean, off by one.
You know what? There’s one other thing we should probably do. We should understand how number lines work. Timelines don’t have zero years, number lines do, like if you're going with whole numbers.
For example, if you have a number line, you might go -3, -2, -1,0,1,2,3. But if you’re counting years, it will look like this: 3BCE, 2 BCE, 1 B.C.E. and then you’re immediately in 1CE, 2CE, 3CE, 4 CE.
So, you can see when we’re moving from BCE to CE we have to add one.
Notice how the years are one higher than the number line down there? What that means is we’ve got:
-444 BCE+476 years+1 for crossing over from BCE to the common era and that gives us?
33 CE! Which is actually the best date for the crucifixion of Christ. In fact, if you started in the month of Nissan, March of 444 BCE and you went 476.06 years in the future where you'd be is at the end of March 33 CE, which is the best date we’ve got for the Sunday that Jesus rode into Jerusalem to present himself as the king of his city, Palm Sunday. And less than a week later they had him hanging on a cross. A couple days after that he had risen from the dead.
What we have here in Daniel 9, believe it or not, it’s a passage that predicts the coming of Christ, over 500 years ahead of time. To the year, some say even to the month, it predicts a decree that didn’t even exist yet, and it predicts a time span from that decree, to the coming of the Messiah, not to mention the death of the Messiah and the destruction of the temple shortly thereafter.
The date for the decree is accepted by all. I know that if you’re like me you’re sort of skeptical. You’re like, ‘where the holes in this? There’s no way this is true.’
Well, there is not where to give on the starting point. The dates of Artaxerxes reign, you read it right there in the encyclopedia. You read it right there out of scripture. This decree from the Nehemiah 2 passage in 444 BCE is what we’re working with here.
The pre-Christian date of Daniel cannot be denied. Some of you may be like, ‘well maybe the Christians made up this prophecy after the fact!’ No, Daniel was written long before the time of Christ. The Septuagint, (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), at the very, very, very, latest it could possibly have been finished was 132 BCE. It was started in the third century BCE. We’ve got the Dead Sea Scrolls, unbelievable find in the desert of Qumran. We’ve got eight copies of Daniel scrolls, the oldest dating to 100 BCE. There are portions of Daniel 9 in it and we’ve got two commentaries on Daniel 9, the oldest of which dates to 146 BCE. Plus, the Jews of Jesus’s day referred to Daniel, Jesus referred to Daniel, and the Jews still have Daniel in their bibles, they have this passage in their bibles. They would not be motivated to help the Christians out by giving them one. You can’t deny the pre-Christian date of Daniel.
What if Jesus read Daniel 9 and was like, ‘I’m going to fulfill this prophecy,’ is that possible? No. First of all, there’s a lot of other prophecy that he couldn’t have fulfilled and this one wasn’t exactly under his control. There are a lot of other actors here in this game. But think about this, why would Jesus want to fake this one? He’s like, ‘OK guys here’s what we’re going to do we’re going to go to Jerusalem, I’m going to get myself arrested, be stripped, flogged, crucified and dead. What do you think? All so I can fulfill the Daniel 9 prophecy. No. I mean if you want to fake something, he would’ve just ignored the suffering servant passages, because they didn’t really know how those fit with the Messiah passages, it would’ve gotten very different route. No, Jesus faking it, think about it for a minute, it’s not reasonable.
Maybe Jesus died and then the disciples were like let’s make it like this is the Daniel 9 prophecy fulfillment and then we’ll get rich and famous and we’ll start a new religion. Is that possible? The disciples wrote the New Testament, right? And the answer to that is also, ‘no way is that possible.’ Let me give you a couple of reasons why. For one, why would they create a lie that would bring them persecution and death? They’re going to go to their graves for their testimony about Christ! What do they have to gain by that? They would have recanted long before they were tortured to death.
Another point that we might not realize is they didn’t have enough chronological information to fake this. They didn’t use our system of years back then. BC was not BC. It’s not like they were like, ‘Man, I wonder what’s going to happen in zero year? It’s 4 BC!” No, they just knew it was the third year of Claudius Cesar, it was the fourth year of the reign of Tiberius. That’s how they dated things. The way we can look back is because we have vast historical records from different cultures, different peoples, all over the world. Sometimes they would interact with one another. Like they are both record this battle that they had and then you’ll see different connection points between different cultures and other cultures. So, you could link things together that way. What was very important to them were solar and lunar eclipses. If the eclipse happened, they thought the gods were trying to tell them something so they would make sure to record that. So you have all this history across the world. The lunar eclipse at 1419 BCE. Well, astronomers are geniuses and they can go back and can tell you the minute that eclipse occurred for this culture. So, we’ve got these hard dates all over the world throughout history, histories is linking up with one another. That’s how we can come up with a pretty good history of civilization. The disciples didn’t have any of that. They, in their era, they sort of knew the Daniel 9 prophecy should be coming about at some point. We read Jews and Romans talking about this, but they thought it may be something to do with the Romans, they really couldn’t figure it out. Maybe partly because of the dying Messiah part.
If the disciples faked it, why don’t they ever refer to Daniel 9 in any of their writings? If they’re going to that much trouble to fake this thing, don’t you think they’d be plastering this all over the pages of the New Testament? They never mention it. The closest you get is Jesus on Palm Sunday when they say, ‘Tell your disciples to stop saying you’re the Messiah’ and Jesus says, ‘If they are quiet, the very rocks themselves with cry out. Jerusalem you did not recognize the time of your visitation.’ That’s the closest you get. The earliest church father that even and discusses it Irenaeus in 80 AD.
The enemies of Christianity and the Christians really couldn’t figure this out in their day, which leads me to think this prophecy wasn’t for them, it was for us, so we could look back and see through additional information that we’ve got. We’re further from the events but we’ve got more information and we can see God showing you some credentials, showing you some identification, some proof, some evidence, that Jesus is the Christ.
Even without the New Testament we get pretty close on this. Let’s just let’s just take the New Testament off the table. We have Daniel 9 and we have secular historians that hated Christianity, what can we learn? What about Tacitus and his annals? He’s talking about when Rome burned and people were mad at Nero because the city burned down and so he had to come up with a scapegoat and Tacitus says,
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.
He is not even a Christian or even a Christian sympathizer. But he says,
Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,
Tacitus Annals 15:44.
His opinion is that, ‘this guy can’t be legit because he was crucified.’ Crucifixion was the extreme penalty, they didn’t even want to say the word ‘crucifixion,’ it was so gross. There are two chronological indicators here. Tiberius died in 37 CE and Pontius Pilate only ruled from 26-36 CE. There is only a 10-year window. Only a couple of the Fridays in that window were even Passovers. There are only a few options. Even without the New Testament we are on the green here, we are inches from the hole, but not in the hole. Tacitus goes on and says that they thought they had it taken down but then,
and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular…
Tacitus Annals 15:44.
Again, you can see he’s not a Christian or a pro-Christian, he is just giving some incidental history. But what it does for us, it shows that Christ was crucified somewhere in this ten-year period and Daniel 9 lands us right in the middle of that period and predicts that he will be killed, too. You’ve got to have an explanation for this.
Who is Jesus Christ?
I’ve shown this to people and some of them are really excited about it, and others are like, ‘yeah I’ll have to get back to thinking about that at some point’ and then they never do. The question you have to answer is, who is Jesus Christ? He is showing you his credentials and he’s making some pretty bold claims. He says in John 5,
You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (John 5:39-40)
Jesus says, ‘Why don’t you come to me? There are scriptures that point to me and you’re missing them.’ He says,
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. (John 6:35)
Do you hunger? Christ offers satisfaction. He says,
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” (John 7:38)
He says, ‘I will quench your thirst. I will make you a spring of water bubbling up to eternal life,’ that’s a bold claim. He says,
I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life. (John 8:12)
I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes me will live, even after dying. (John 11:25).
Are you afraid of death? Jesus Christ is the answer. He’s the only one who can lead you out to the other side of the grave.
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the father except through me. (John 14:6).
He’s the only way, a bold claim, but he’s a guy who’s got the credentials to back it up.
The crucifixion of Christ and his trial the night before his death; they had beaten him, they were pounding him with questions, they wanted to get him to say, ‘I am the Christ’ so that they could have enough grounds to charge him with blasphemy and kill him. So, they say,
“If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on ‘The Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’” (Luke 22:67-69)
Do you recognize that as the passage we did last week in Daniel 7? The coming of the Son of Man to set up his eternal kingdom. Their response? They killed him and nailed him to a cross.
Are you willing to listen? Are you willing to listen to the evidence that is here? It’s not the only one, there’s a lot more but this is a good one, a really good one.
Are you willing to listen to Jesus who is calling out? He is standing there at the door. Why not ask God for the rest of the evidence tonight? He is knocking on that door, he is standing there, he is showing you his credentials, he has made some claims, will you let him in? Will you open the door of your heart and let him in and receive eternal life? That’s his offer tonight.