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(Based on a Bible study by Dr. Derek Morris)

          In Daniel 9:3-6, Daniel was praying about his people, and asking God when they were to be delivered from captivity.  The angel Gabriel was sent by God to respond to Daniel’s prayer.  Daniel 9:23: “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:

           Daniel 9 records no vision, only a prayer. So which vision is Gabriel referring to here? The vision of the 2300 day prophecy, recorded in Daniel 8.  (The specific Hebrew word for vision used here in Daniel 9:23, mareh, is the same word used for vision in Daniel chapter 8, when the holy one asked, “How long will the vision be?” And the answer was given, “Unto 2300 days, and then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”)

            Listen to Gabriel’s message, starting in Daniel 9:24. “Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.”  Seventy weeks, or literally “seventy sevens” are determined for your people. That’s 490. And it’s obviously not 490 days, a year and a few months, but a time prophecy of 490 years. The prophet Ezekiel, a contemporary of Daniel, records this year-day principle in Ezekiel 4:6 ("I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year.").

              When does this time prophecy begin?  Look at Daniel 9:25. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.” 

              History records that there were three decrees that went forth in connection with the return of the children of Israel from Babylonian exile: The decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, the decree of Darius I in 519 BC, which simply confirmed the decree of Cyrus, and the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC. And as one scholar has observed, the fact that three decrees were needed suggests that the final decree is the one that really counted.  Ezra considered them all part of one decree: in Ezra 6:14, we read, “they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

               The angel Gabriel tells Daniel that “from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince shall be 7 weeks and 62 weeks”. That’s a total of 483 days of time prophecy, or 483 years.   Add 483 years from the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BC and it takes you to AD 27, the exact year that Jesus was anointed by the Spirit at His baptism and began His ministry as Messiah. The word Messiah means “anointed,” and Christ’s ministry began right on time, in AD 27.

               Gabriel goes on to say that sometime after AD 27, Messiah would be cut off. That’s a very strong expression in Hebrew. It implies a violent end.  Listen to Gabriel’s words in Daniel 9:26-27: “After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven’.  In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” 

                  In the middle of that final week, or final seven years of the 490 year prophecy, the Messiah would bring an end to sacrifice and offering.   He would do that by laying down His life, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

                  It happened just as predicted. Three and a half years after his baptism in AD 27, Jesus died on the cross in the Spring of AD 31. He caused an end to sacrifice and offering. He died once and for all. No more need for lambs, goats or bulls. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God.   He paid the price for our sin. He was wounded for our transgressions, and by His wounds, we are healed.

               The 490 years determined for Daniel’s people, the Jews, ended in AD 34.  Following the martyrdom of Stephen the deacon, and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, (who became the apostle Paul) the gospel was taken to the Gentiles.  Individual Jews who accept Jesus as their Saviour are included in the “Israel of God,” but the nation of Israel has run out of time.

              Every detail of the prophecy of the 490 years was fulfilled in detail, just as the angel Gabriel foretold. But we need to go back to Daniel 9:23-24, because Gabriel’s assignment is to help Daniel to understand the whole vision, the mareh of the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel chapter 8.

              How does the testimony of Gabriel in Daniel chapter 9 unlock the prophecy of Daniel chapter 8? The answer is found in a key word in Daniel 9:24. The angel Gabriel tells Daniel, “Seventy sevens, (that is four hundred and ninety years), are DETERMINED for your people.”  The Hebrew word translated “determined”, chathak, is only used this one time in the Hebrew Scriptures.  So how do we know what it means?  Several meanings are given by translators, but this Hebrew word is used frequently outside of the Bible.   Ancient Rabbis used this word as meaning “to amputate,” or “to cut off.”

            What is the 490 cut off from? The 2300 days of the vision of Daniel 8 that Gabriel has come to help Daniel understand!  The 490 year prophecy that applies to Daniel and his people is cut off from the beginning of the 2300 year prophecy.

               If you add 2300 years to 457 BC, you come to AD 1844. That’s when the work of cleansing the sanctuary would begin.   In the great spiritual awakening of the 1800’s in America, there were some Christians who came to study the details of this prophecy.  They came to the conclusion that this great time prophecy of the 2300 days would be fulfilled in 1844. To be more specific, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in 1844, which was October 22, 1844.

            One of those Christians in that great spiritual awakening was a man by the name of William Miller.  Where William Miller made a mistake was in his understanding of what would happen in 1844. Miller assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary was a cleansing of the earth by fire.  That must mean, Miller concluded, that Jesus would return in glory in 1844. Well, obviously Miller, and other devoted followers of Jesus who held to that interpretation were greatly disappointed.  Jesus did not return in glory in 1844. It was indeed a Great Disappointment.

             What really was to occur, starting in 1844 at the end of the great time prophecy of Daniel 8? The sanctuary was to be cleansed. The work of judgment was to begin in heaven and the final reckoning of sin was to commence, just as it did when the earthly sanctuary was cleansed in the Old Testament.  The earthly sanctuary was a pattern, or type, of the heavenly sanctuary which was “made without hands,” (Hebrews 9:11).

              How long will that time of judgment continue?  We don’t know.  But this we do know: we’re almost home!  Soon the declaration will be heard, “It is finished!”  Revelation 22:11-12: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

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