Seventy weeks are determined - This is a most important prophecy, and has given rise to a variety of opinions relative to the proper mode of explanation; but the chief difficulty, if not the only one, is to find out the time from which these seventy weeks should be dated. What is here said by the angel is not a direct answer to Daniel's prayer. He prays to know when the seventy weeks of the captivity are to end. Gabriel shows him that there are seventy weeks determined relative to a redemption from another sort of captivity, which shall commence with the going forth of the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and shall terminate with the death of Messiah the Prince, and the total abolition of the Jewish sacrifices. In the four following verses he enters into the particulars of this most important determination, and leaves them with Daniel for his comfort, who has left them to the Church of God for the confirmation of its faith, and a testimony to the truth of Divine revelation. They contain the fullest confirmation of Christianity, and a complete refutation of the Jewish cavils and blasphemies on this subject.
Of all the writers I have consulted on this most noble prophecy, Dean Prideaux appears to me the most clear and satisfactory. I shall therefore follow his method in my explanation, and often borrow his words.
Seventy weeks are determined - The Jews had Sabbatic years, Leviticus 25:8, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years. The seventy weeks therefore here spoken of amount to four hundred and ninety years.
In Daniel 9:24; there are six events mentioned which should be the consequences of the incarnation of our Lord: -
II. To make an end of sins; rather חטאות ולהתם ulehathem chataoth, "to make an end of sin-offerings," which our Lord did when he offered his spotless soul and body on the cross once for all.
III. To make reconciliation (ולכפר ulechapper, "to make atonement or expiation") for iniquity; which he did by the once offering up of himself.
IV. To bring in everlasting righteousness, עלמים צדק tsedek olamim, that is, "the righteousness, or righteous One, of ages;" that person who had been the object of the faith of mankind, and the subject of the predictions of the prophets through all the ages of the world.
V. To seal up (ולחתם velachtom, "to finish or complete") the vision and prophecy; that is, to put an end to the necessity of any farther revelations, by completing the canon of Scripture, and fulfilling the prophecies which related to his person, sacrifice, and the glory that should follow.
VI. And to anoint the Most Holy, קדשים קדש kodesh kodashim, "the Holy of holies." משיח mashach, to anoint, (from which comes משיח mashiach, the Messiah, the anointed one), signifies in general, to consecrate or appoint to some special office. Here it means the consecration or appointment of our blessed Lord, the Holy One of Israel, to be the Prophet, Priest, and King of mankind.
Seventy weeks are determined - Here commences the celebrated prophecy of the seventy weeks - a portion of Scripture Which has excited as much attention, and led to as great a variety of interpretation, as perhaps any other. Of this passage, Professor Stuart (“Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy,” p. 104) remarks, “It would require a volume of considerable magnitude even to give a history of the ever-varying and contradictory opinions of critics respecting this “locus vexatissimus; “and perhaps a still larger one to establish an exegesis which would stand. I am fully of opinion, that no interpretation as yet published will stand the test of thorough grammatico-historical criticism; and that a candid, and searching, and thorough “critique” here is still a “desideratum.” May some expositor, fully adequate to the task, speedily appear!” After these remarks of this eminent Biblical scholar, it is with no great confidence of success that I enter on the exposition of the passage.
Yet, perhaps, though “all” difficulties may not be removed, and though I cannot hope to contribute anything “new” in the exposition of the passage, something may be written which may relieve it of some of the perplexities attending it, and which may tend to show that its author was under the influence of Divine inspiration. The passage may be properly divided into two parts. The first, in Daniel 9:24, contains a “general” statement of what would occur in the time specified - the seventy weeks; the second, Daniel 9:25-27, contains a “particular” statement of the manner in which that would be accomplished. In this statement, the whole time of the seventy weeks is broken up into three smaller portions of seven, sixty-two, and one - designating evidently some important epochs or periods Daniel 9:25, and the last one week is again subdivided in such a way, that, while it is said that the whole work of the Messiah in confirming the covenant would occupy the entire week, yet that he would be cut off in the middle of the week, Daniel 9:27.
In the “general” statement Daniel 9:24 it is said that there was a definite time - seventy weeks - during which the subject of the prediction would be accomplished; that is, during which all that was to be done in reference to the holy city, or in the holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, etc., would be effected. The things specified in this verse are “what was to be done,” as detailed more particularly in the subsequent verses. The design in this verse seems to have been to furnish a “general” statement of what was to occur in regard to the holy city - of that city which had been selected for the peculiar purpose of being a place where an atonement was to be made for human transgression. It is quite clear that when Daniel set apart this period for prayer, and engaged in this solemn act of devotion, his design was not to inquire into the ultimate events which would occur in Jerusalem, but merely to pray that the purpose of God, as predicted by Jeremiah, respecting the captivity of the nation, and the rebuilding of the city and temple, might be accomplished. God took occasion from this, however, not only to give an implied assurance about the accomplishment of these purposes, but also to state in a remarkable manner the “whole” ultimate design respecting the holy city, and the great event which was ever onward to characterize it among the cities of the world. In the consideration of the whole passage Daniel 9:24-27, it will be proper, first, to examine into the literal meaning of the words and phrases, and then to inquire into the fulfillment.
Seventy weeks - שׁבעים שׁבעים shâbu‛ı̂ym shı̂b‛ı̂ym Vulgate, Septuaginta hebdomades. So Theodotion, Ἑβδομήκοντα ἑβδομάδες Hebdomēkonta hebdomades Prof. Stuart (“Hints,” p. 82) renders this “seventy sevens;” that is, seventy times seven years: on the ground that the word denoting “weeks” in the Hebrew is not שׁבעים shâbu‛ı̂ym but שׁבעות shâbu‛ôth “The form which is used here,” says he, “which is a regular masculine plural, is no doubt purposely chosen to designate the plural of seven; and with great propriety here, inasmuch as there are many sevens which are to be joined together in one common sum. Daniel had been meditating on the close of the seventy “years” of Hebrew exile, and the angel now discloses to him a new period of “seventy times seven,” in which still more important events are to take place. Seventy sevens, or (to use the Greek phraseology), “seventy heptades,” are determined upon thy people.
Heptades of what? Of days, or of years? No one can doubt what the answer is. Daniel had been making diligent search respecting the seventy “years;” and, in such a connection, nothing but seventy heptades of years could be reasonably supposed to be meant by the angel.” The inquiry about the “gender” of the word, of which so much has been said (Hengstenberg, “Chris.” ii. 297), does not seem to be very important, since the same result is reached whether it be rendered “seventy sevens,” or “seventy weeks.” In the former ease, as proposed by Prof. Stuart, it means seventy sevens of “years,” or 490 years; in the other, seventy “weeks” of years; that is, as a “week of years” is seven years, seventy such weeks, or as before, 490 years. The usual and proper meaning of the word used here, however - שׁבוּע shâbûa‛a is a “seven,” ἐβδομάς hebdomas i. e., a week. - Gesenius, “Lexicon” From the “examples” where the word occurs it would seem that the masculine or the feminine forms were used indiscriminately.
The word occurs only in the following passages, in all of which it is rendered “week,” or “weeks,” except in Ezekiel 45:21, where it is rendered “seven,” to wit, days. In the following passages the word occurs in the masculine form plural, Daniel 9:24-26; Daniel 10:2-3; in the following in the feminine form plural, Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:9-10, Deuteronomy 16:16; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Jeremiah 5:24; Ezekiel 45:21; and in the following in the singular number, common gender, rendered “week,” Genesis 29:27-28, and in the dual masculine in Leviticus 12:5, rendered “two weeks.” From these passages it is evident that nothing certain can be determined about the meaning of the word from its gender. It would seem to denote “weeks,” periods of seven days - “hebdomads” - in either form, and is doubtless so used here. The fair translation would be, weeks seventy are determined; that is, seventy times seven days, or four hundred and ninety “days.” But it may be asked here, whether this is to be taken literally, as denoting four hundred and ninety days? If not, in what sense is it to be understood? and why do we understand it in a different sense? It is clear that it must be explained literally as denoting four hundred and ninety “days,” or that these days must stand for years, and that the period is four hundred and ninety “years.” That this latter is the true interpretation, as it has been held by all commentators, is apparent from the following considerations:
(a) This is not uncommon in the prophetic writings. See the notes at Daniel 7:24-28. (See also Editor‘s Preface to volume on Revelation.)
(b) Daniel had been making inquiry respecting the seventy “years,” and it is natural to suppose that the answer of the angel would have respect to “years” also; and, thus understood, the answer would have met the inquiry pertinently - “ not seventy years, but a week of years - seven times seventy years.” Compare Matthew 18:21-22. “In such a connection, nothing but seventy heptades of years could be reasonably supposed to be meant by the angel.” - Prof. Stuart‘s “Hints,” etc., p. 82.
(c) Years, as Prof. Stuart remarks, are the measure of all considerable periods of time. When the angel speaks, then, in reference to certain events, and declares that they are to take place during “seventy heptades,” it is a matter of course to suppose that he means years.
(d) The circumstances of the case demand this interpretation. Daniel was seeking comfort in view of the fact that the city and temple had been desolate now for a period of seventy years. The angel comes to bring him consolation, and to give him assurances about the rebuilding of the city, and the great events that were to occur there. But what consolation would it be to be told that the city would indeed be rebuilt, and that it would continue seventy ordinary weeks - that is, a little more than a year, before a new destruction would come upon it? It cannot well be doubted, then, that by the time here designated, the angel meant to refer to a period of four hundred and ninety years; and if it be asked why this number was not literally and exactly specified in so many words, instead of choosing a mode of designation comparatively so obscure, it may be replied,
(1) that the number “seventy” was employed by Daniel as the time respecting which he was making inquiry, and that there was a propriety that there should be a reference to that fact in the reply of the angel - “one” number seventy had been fulfilled in the desolations of the city, there would be “another” number seventy in the events yet to occur;
(2) this is in the usual prophetic style, where there is, as Hengstenberg remarks (“Chris.” ii. 299), often a “concealed definiteness.” It is usual to designate numbers in this way.
(3) The term was sufficiently clear to be understood, or is, at all events, made clear by the result. There is no reason to doubt that Daniel would so understand it, or that it would be so interpreted, as fixing in the minds of the Jewish people the period when the Messiah was about to appear. The meaning then is, that there would be a period of four hundred and ninety years, during which the city, after the order of the rebuilding should go forth Daniel 9:25, until the entire consummation of the great object for which it should be rebuilt: and that then the purpose would be accomplished, and it would be given up to a greater ruin. There was to be this long period in which most important transactions were to occur in the city.
Are determined - The word used here (נחתך nechettak from חתך châtak ) occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. It properly means, according to Gesenius, to cut off, to divide; and hence, to deterinine, to destine, to appoint. Theodotion renders it, sunetmeetheesan - are cut off, decided, defined. The Vulgate renders it, “abbreviate sunt.” Luther, “Sind bestimmet” - are determined. The meaning would seem to be, that this portion of time - the seventy weeks - was “cut off” from the whole of duration, or cut out of it, as it were, and set by itself for a definite purpose. It does not mean that it was cut off from the time which the city would naturally stand, or that this time was “abbreviated,” but that a portion of time - to wit, four hundred and ninety years - was designated or appointed with reference to the city, to accomplish the great and important object which is immediately specified. A certain, definite period was fixed on, and when this was past, the promised Messiah would come. In regard to the construction here - the singular verb with a plural noun, see Hengstenberg, “Christ. in, loc.” The true meaning seems to be, that the seventy weeks are spoken of “collectively,” as denoting a period of time; that is, a period of seventy weeks is determined. The prophet, in the use of the singular verb, seems to have contemplated the time, not as separate weeks, or as particular portions, but as one period.
Upon thy people - The Jewish people; the nation to which Daniel belonged. This allusion is made because he was inquiring about the close of their exile, and their restoration to their own land.
And upon thy holy city - Jerusalem, usually called the holy city, because it was the place where the worship of God was celebrated, Isaiah 52:1; Nehemiah 11:1, Nehemiah 11:18; Matthew 27:53. It is called “thy holy city” - the city of Daniel, because he was here making special inquiry respecting it, and because he was one of the Hebrew people, and the city was the capital of their nation. As one of that nation, it could be called “his.” It was then, indeed, in ruins, but it was to be rebuilt, and it was proper to speak of it as if it were then a city. The meaning of “upon thy people and city” (על ‛al ) is, “respecting” or “concerning.” The purpose respecting the seventy weeks “pertains” to thy people and city; or there is an important period of four hundred and seventy years determined on, or designated, respecting that people and city.
To finish the transgression - The angel proceeds to state what was the object to be accomplished in this purpose, or what would occur during that period. The first thing, “to finish the transgression.” The margin is, “restrain.” The Vulgate renders it, ut consummetur proevaricatio. Theodotion, τοῦ συντελεσθῆναι ἁμαρτίαν tou suntelesthēnai hamartian - to finish sin. Thompson renders this, “to finish sin-offerings.” The difference between the marginal reading (“restrain”) and the text (“finish”) arises from a doubt as to the meaning of the original word. The common reading of the text is כלא kallē' but in 39 Codices examined by Kennicott, it is כלה . The reading in the text is undoubtedly the correct one, but still there is not absolute certainty as to the signification of the word, whether it means to “finish” or to “restrain.” The proper meaning of the word in the common reading of the text (כלא kâlâ' ) is, to shut up, confine, restrain - as it is rendered in the margin.
The meaning of the other word found in many manuscripts (כלה kâlâh ) is, to be completed, finished, closed - and in Piel, the form used here, to complete, to finish - as it is translated in the common version. Gesenius (“Lexicon”) supposes that the word here is “for” - כלה kallēh - meaning to finish or complete. Hengstenberg, who is followed in this view by Lengerke, supposes that the meaning is to “shut up transgression,” and that the true reading is that in the text - כלא - though as that word is not used in Piel, and as the Masoretes had some doubts as to the derivation of the word, they gave to it not its appropriate “pointing” in this place - which would have been כלא keloh - but the pointing of the other word (כלה kalēh ) in the margin. According to Hengstenberg, the sense here of “shutting up” is derived from the general notion of “restraining” or “hindering,” belonging to the word; and he supposes that this will best accord with the other words in this member of the verse - “to cover,” and “to seal up.”
The idea according to him is, that “sin, which hitherto lay naked and open before the eyes of a righteous God, is now by his mercy shut up, sealed, and covered, so that it can no more be regarded as existing - a figurative description of the forgiveness of sin.” So Lengerke renders it, “Ura einzuschliessen (den) Abfall.” Bertholdt, “Bis der Frevel vollbracht.” It seems most probable that the true idea here is that denoted in the margin, and that the sense is not that of “finishing,” but that of “restraining, closing, shutting up,” etc. So it is rendered by Prof. Stuart - “to restrain transgression.” - “Com. on Daniel, in loc.” The word is used in this sense of “shutting up,” or “restraining,” in several places in the Bible: 1 Samuel 6:10, “and shut up their calves at home;” Jeremiah 32:3, “Zedekiah had shut him up;” Psalm 88:8, “I am shut up, and I cannot come forth;” Jeremiah 32:2, “Jeremiah the prophet was shut up.”
The sense of “shutting up,” or “restraining,” accords better with the connection than that of “finishing.” The reference of the whole passage is undoubtedly to the Messiah, and to what would be done sometime during the “seventy weeks;” and the meaning here is, not that he would “finish transgression” - which would not be true in any proper sense, but that he would do a work which would “restrain” iniquity in the world, or, more strictly, which would “shut it up” - enclose it - as in a prison, so that it would no more go forth and prevail. The effect would be that which occurs when one is shut up in prison, and no longer goes at large. There would be a restraining power and influence which would check the progress of sin. This does not, I apprehend, refer to the particular transgressions for which the Jewish people had suffered in their long captivity, but sin (הפשׁע hapesha‛ ) in general - the sin of the world.
There would be an influence which would restrain and curb it, or which would shut it up so that it would no longer reign and roam at large over the earth. It is true that this might not have been so understood by Daniel at the time, for the “language” is so general that it “might” have suggested the idea that it referred to the sins of the Jewish people. This language, if there had been no farther explanation of it, might have suggested the idea that in the time specified - seventy weeks - there would be some process - some punishment - some Divine discipline - by which the iniquities of that people, or their propensity to sin, for which this long captivity had come upon them, would be cohibited, or restrained. But the language is not such as necessarily to confine the interpretation to that, and the subsequent statements, and the actual fulfillment in the work of the Messiah, lead us to understand this in a much higher sense, as having reference to sin in general, and as designed to refer to some work that would ultimately be an effectual check on sin, and which would tend to cohibit, or restrain it altogether in the world. Thus understood, the language will well describe the work of the Redeemer - that work which, through the sacrifice made on the cross, is adapted and designed to restrain sin altogether.
And to make an end of sins - Margin, “to seal up.” The difference here in the text and the margin arises from a difference in the readings in the Hebrew. The common reading in the text is חתם châthēm - from חתם châtham - “to seal, to seal up.” But the Hebrew marginal reading is a different word - התם hâthēm from תמם tâmam - “to complete, to perfect, to finish.” The “pointing” in the text in the word חתם châtēm is not the proper pointing of that word, which would have been חתם chetom but the Masoretes, as is not unfrequently the case, gave to the word in the text the pointing of another word which they placed in the margin. The marginal reading is found in fifty-five manuscripts (Lengerke), but the weight of authority is decidedly in favor of the common reading in the Hebrew text - “to seal,” and not to “finish,” as it is in our translation.
The marginal reading, “to finish,” was doubtless substituted by some transcribers, or rather “suggested” by the Masoretes, because it seemed to convey a better signification to say that “sin would be finished,” than to say that it would be “sealed.” The Vulgate has followed the reading in the margin - et finem accipiat peccatum; Theodotion has followed the other reading, σφραγίας ἁμαρτίας sphragisai hamartias Luther also has it, “to seal.” Coverdale, “that sin may have an end.” The true rendering is, doubtless, “to seal sin;” and the idea is that of removing it from sight; to remove it from view. “The expression is taken,” says Lengerke, “from the custom of sealing up those things which one lays aside and conceals.” Thus in Job 9:7, “And sealeth up the stars;” that is, he so shuts them up in the heavens as to prevent their shining - so as to hide them from the view. They are concealed, hidden, made close - as the contents of a letter or package are sealed, indicating that no one is to examine them.
See the note at that passage. So also in Job 37:7, referring to winter, it is said, “He sealeth up the hand of every man, that all men may know his work.” That is, in the winter, when the snow is on the ground, when the streams are frozen, the labors of the farmer must cease. The hands can no more be used in ordinary toil. Every man is prevented from going abroad to his accustomed labor, and is, as it were, “sealed up” in his dwelling. Compare Jeremiah 32:11, Jeremiah 32:14; Isaiah 29:11; Genesis 6:14; and hence, to cover over sin; that is, to atone for it, pardon it, forgive it. It is the word which is commonly used with reference to atonement or expiation, and seems to have been so understood by our translators. It does not necessarily refer to the means by which sin is covered over, etc., by an atonement, but is often used in the general sense of “to pardon or forgive.” Compare the notes at Isaiah 6:7, and more fully. See the notes at Isaiah 43:3. Here there is no necessary allusion to the atonement which the Messiah would make in order to cover over sin; that is, the word is of so general a character in its signification that it does not necessarily imply this, but it is the word which would naturally be used on the supposition that it had such a reference. As a matter of fact, undoubtedly, the means by which this was to be done was by the atonement, and that was referred to by the Spirit of inspiration, but this is not essentially implied in the meaning of the word. In whatever way that should be done, this word would be properly used as expressing it. The Latin Vulgate renders thus, et deleatur iniquitas. Theodotion, ἀπαλεῖψαι τὰς ἀδικίας apaleipsai tas adikias - “to wipe out iniquities.” Luther, “to reconcile for transgression.” Here are three things specified, therefore, in regard to sin, which would be done. Sin would be
These expressions, though not of the nature of a climax, are intensive, and show that the great work referred to pertained to sin, and would be designed to remove it. Its bearing would be on human transgression; on the way by which it might be pardoned; on the methods by which it would be removed from the view, and be kept from rising up to condemn and destroy. Such expressions would undoubtedly lead the mind to look forward to some method which was to be disclosed by which sin could be consistently pardoned and removed. In the remainder of the verse, there are three additional things which would be done as necessary to complete the work: -
To bring in everlasting righteousness;
To seal up the vision and prophecy; and
To anoint the Most Holy.
And to bring in everlasting righteousness - The phrase “to bring in” - literally, “to cause to come” - refers to some direct agency by which that righteousness would be introduced into the world. It would be such an agency as would cause it to exist; or as would establish it in the world. The “mode” of doing this is not indeed here specified, and, so far as the “word” used here is concerned, it would be applicable to any method by which this would be done - whether by making an atonement; or by setting an example; or by persuasion; or by placing the subject of morals on a better foundation; or by the administration of a just government; or in any other way. The term is of the most general character, and its exact force here can be learned only by the subsequently revealed facts as to the way by which this would be accomplished. The essential idea in the language is, that this would be “introduced” by the Messiah; that is, that he would be its author.
The word “righteousness” here also (צדק tsedeq ) is of a general character. The fair meaning would be, that some method would be introduced by which men would become “righteous.” In the former part of the verse, the reference was to “sin” - to the fact of its existence - to the manner in which it would be disposed of - to the truth that it would be coerced, sealed up, covered over. Here the statement is, that, in contradistinction from that, a method would be introduced by which man would become, in fact, righteous and holy. But the “word” implies nothing as to the method by which this would be done. Whether it would be by a new mode of justification, or by an influence that would make men personally holy - whether this was to be as the result of example, or instruction, or an atoning sacrifice - is not necessarily implied in the use of this word. That, as in the cases already referred to, could be learned only by subsequent develop. ments.
It would be, doubtless, understood that there was a reference to the Messiah - for that is specified in the next verse; and it would be inferred from this word that, under him, righteousness would reign, or that men would be righteous, but nothing could be argued from it as to the methods by which it would be done. It is hardly necessary to add, that, in the prophets, it is constantly said that righteousness would characterize the Messiah and his times; that he would come to make men righteous, and to set up a kingdom of righteousness in the earth. Yet the exact mode in which it was to be done would be, of course, more fully explained when the Messiah should himself actually appear. The word “everlasting” is used here to denote that the righteousness would be permanent and perpetual. In reference to the method of becoming righteous, it would be unchanging - the standing method ever onward by which men would become holy; in reference to the individuals who should become righteous under this system, it would be a righteousness which would continue forever.
This is the characteristic which is everywhere given of the righteousness which would be introduced by the Messiah. Thus in Isaiah 51:6-8: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” So Isaiah 45:17: “But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end.”
Compare Jeremiah 31:3. The language used in the passage before us, moreover, is such as could not properly be applied to anything but that righteousness which the Messiah would introduce. It could not be used in reference to the temporal prosperity of the Jews on their return to the holy land, nor to such righteousness as the nation had in former times. The fair and proper meaning of the term is, that it would be “eternal” - what would “endure forever” - עלמים צדק tsedeq ‛olâmı̂ym It would place righteousness on a permanent and enduring foundation; introduce that which would endure through all changes, and exist when the heavens would be no more. In the plan itself there would be no change; in the righteousness which anyone would possess under that system there would be perpetual duration - it would exist forever and ever. This is the nature of that righteousness by which men are now justified; this is what all who are interested in the scheme of redemption actually possess. The “way” in which this “everlasting righteousness” would be introduced is not stated here, but is reserved for future revelations. Probably all that the words would convey to Daniel would be, that there would be some method disclosed by which men would become righteous, and that this would not be temporary or changing, but would be permanent and eternal. It is not improper that “we” should understand it, as it is explained by the subsequent revelations in the New Testament, as to the method by which sinners are justified before God.
And to seal up the vision and prophecy - Margin, as in the Hebrew, “prophet.” The evident meaning, however, here is “prophecy.” The word seal is found, as already explained, in the former part of the verse - “to seal up sins.” The word “vision” (for its meaning, see the notes at Isaiah 1:1) need not be understood as referring particularly to the visions seen by Daniel, but should be understood, like the word “prophecy” or “prophet” here, in a general sense - as denoting all the visions seen by the prophets - the series of visions relating to the future, which had been made known to the prophets. The idea seems to be that they would at that time be all “sealed,” in the sense that they would be closed or shut up - no longer open matters - but that the fulfillment would, as it were, close them up forever. Till that time they would be open for penusal and study; then they would be closed up as a sealed volume which one does not read, but which contains matter hidden from the view.
Compare the notes at Isaiah 8:16: “Bind up the testimony; seal the law among my disciples.” See also Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:4. In Isaiah Isaiah 8:16 the meaning is, that the prophecy was complete, and the direction was given to bind it up, or roll it up like a volume, and to seal it. In Daniel 8:26, the meaning is, seal up the prophecy, or make a permanent record of it, that when it is fulfilled, the event may be compared with the prophecy, and it may be seen that the one corresponds with the other. In the passage before us, Gesenius (“Lexicon”) renders it, “to complete, to finish” - meaning that the prophecies would be fulfilled. Hengstenberg supposes that it means, that “as soon as the fulfillment takes place, the prophecy, although it retains, in other respects, its great importance, reaches the end of its destination, in so far as the view of believers, who stand in need of consolation and encouragement, is no longer directed to it, to the future prosperity, but to what has appeared.”
Lengerke supposes that it means to confirm, corroborate, ratify - bekraftigen, bestatigen; that is, “the eternal righteousness will be given to the pious, and the predictions of the prophets will be confirmed and fulfilled.” To seal, says he, has also the idea of confirming, since the contents of a writing are secured or made fast by a seal. After all, perhaps, the very idea here is, that of “making fast,” as a lock or seal does - for, as is well known, a seal was often used by the ancients where a lock is with us; and the sense may be, that, as a seal or lock made fast and secure the contents of a writing or a book, so the event, when the prophecy was fulfilled, would make it “fast” and “secure.” It would be, as it were, locking it up, or sealing it, forever. It would determine all that seemed to be undetermined about it; settle all that seemed to be indefinite, and leave it no longer uncertain what was meant. According to this interpretation the meaning would be, that the prophecies would be sealed up or settled by the coming of the Messiah. The prophecies terminated on him (compare Revelation 19:10); they would find their fulfillment in him; they would be completed in him - and might then be regarded as closed and consummated - as a book that is fully written and is sealed up. All the prophecies, and all the visions, had a reference more or less direct to the coming of the Messiah, and when he should appear they might be regarded as complete. The spirit of prophecy would cease, and the facts would confirm and seal all that had been written.
And to anoint the Most Holy - There has been great variety in the interpretation of this expression. The word rendered “anoint” - משׁח meshocha - infinitive from משׁח mâshach (from the word Messiah, Daniel 9:25), means, properly, to strike or draw the hand over anything; to spread over with anything, to smear, to paint, to anoint. It is commonly used with reference to a sacred rite, to anoint, or consecrate by unction, or anointing to any office or use; as, e. g., a priest, Exodus 28:41; Exodus 40:15; a prophet, 1 Kings 19:16; Isaiah 61:1; a king, 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 15:1; 2 Samuel 2:4; 1 Kings 1:34. So it is used to denote the consecration of a stone or column as a future sacred place, Genesis 31:13; or vases and vessels as consecrated to God, Exodus 40:9, Exodus 40:11; Leviticus 8:11; Numbers 7:1. The word would then denote a setting apart to a sacred use, or consecrating a person or place as holy. Oil, or an unguent, prepared according to a specified rule, was commonly employed for this purpose, but the word may be used in a figurative sense - as denoting to set apart or consecrate in any way “without” the use of oil - as in the case of the Messiah. So far as this word, therefore, is concerned, what is here referred to may have occurred without the literal use of oil, by any act of consecration or dedication to a holy use.
The phrase, “the Most Holy” (קדשׁים קדשׁ qôdesh qādāshı̂ym ) has been very variously interpreted. By some it has been understood to apply literally to the most holy place - the holy of holies, in the temple; by others to the whole temple, regarded as holy; by others to Jerusalem at large as a holy place; and by others, as Hengstenberg, to the Christian church as “a” holy place. By some the thing here referred to is supposed to have been the consecration of the most holy place after the rebuilding of the temple; by others the consecration of the whole temple; by others the consecration of the temple and city by the presence of the Messiah, and by others the consecration of the Christian church, by his presence. The phrase properly means “holy of holies,” or most holy. It is applied often in the Scriptures to the “inner sanctuary,” or the portion of the tabernacle and temple containing the ark of the covenant, the two tables of stone, etc.
See the notes at Matthew 21:12. The phrase occurs in the following places in the Scripture: Exodus 26:33-34; Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:29, Exodus 30:36; Exodus 40:10; Leviticus 2:3, Leviticus 2:10, “et al.” - in all, in about twenty-eight places. See the “Englishman‘s Hebrew Concordance.” It is not necessarily limited to the inner sanctuary of the temple, but may be applied to the whole house, or to anything that was consecrated to God in a manner peculiarly sacred. In a large sense, possibly it might apply to Jerusalem, though I am not aware that it ever occurs in this sense in the Scriptures, and in a figurative sense it might be applied undoubtedly, as Hengstenberg supposes, to the Christian church, though it is certain that it is not elsewhere thus used. In regard to the meaning of the expression - an important and difficult one, as is admitted by all - there are five principal opinions which it may be well to notice. The truth will be found in one of them.
(1) That it refers to the consecration by oil or anointing of the temple, that would be rebuilt after the captivity, by Zerubbabel and Joshua. This was the opinion of Michaelis and Jahn. But to this opinion there are insuperable objections:
(a) That, according to the uniform tradition of the Jews, the holy oil was wanting in the second temple. In the case of the first temple there might have been a literal anointing, though there is no evidence of that, as there was of the anointing of the vessels of the tabernacle, Exodus 30:22, etc. But in the second temple there is every evidence that there can be, that there was no literal anointing.
(b) The “time” here referred to is a fatal objection to this opinion. The period is seventy weeks of years, or four hundred and ninety years. This cannot be doubted (see the notes at the first part of the verse) to be the period referred to; but it is absurd to suppose that the consecration of the new temple would be deferred for so long a time, and there is not the slightest evidence that it was. This opinion, therefore, cannot be entertained.
(2) The second opinion is, that it refers to the re-consecration and cleansing of the temple after the abominations of Antiochus Epiphanes. See the notes at Daniel 8:14. But this opinion is liable substantially to the same objections as the other. The cleansing of the temple, or of the sanctuary, as it is said in Daniel 8:14, did “not” occur four hundred and ninety years after the order to rebuild the temple Daniel 9:25, but at a much earlier period. By no art of construction, if the period here referred to is four hundred and ninety years, can it be made to apply to the re-dedication of the temple after Antiochus had defiled it.
(3) Others have supposed that this refers to the Messiah himself, and that the meaning is, that he, who was most holy, would then be consecrated or anointed as the Messiah. It is probable, as Hengstenberg (“Christ.” ii. 321,322) has shown, that the Greek translators thus understood it, but it is a sufficient objection to this that the phrase, though occurring many times in the Scriptures, is never applied to “persons,” unless this be an instance. Its uniform and proper application is to “things,” or “places,” and it is undoubtedly so to be understood in this place.
(4) Hengstenberg supposes (pp. 325-328) that it refers to the Christian church as “a” holy place, or “the New Temple of the Lord,” “the Church of the New covenant,” as consecrated and supplied with the gifts of the Spirit. But it is a sufficient refutation of this opinion that the phrase is nowhere else so used; that it has in the Old Testament a settled meaning as referring to the tabernacle or the temple; that it is nowhere employed to denote a collection of “people,” anymore than an individual person - an idea which Hengstenberg himself expressly rejects (p. 322); and that there is no proper sense in which it can be said that the Christian church is “anointed.” The language is undoubtedly to be understood as referring to some “place” that was to be thus consecrated, and the uniform Hebrew usage would lead to the supposition that there is reference, in some sense, to the temple at Jerusalem.
(5) It seems to me, therefore, that the obvious and fair interpretation is, to refer it to the temple - as the holy place of God; his peculiar abode on earth. Strictly and properly speaking, the phrase would apply to the inner room of the temple - the sanctuary properly so called (see the notes at Hebrews 9:2); but it might he applied to the whole temple as consecrated to the service of God. If it be asked, then, what anointing or consecration is referred to here, the reply, as it seems to me, is, not that it was then to be set apart anew, or to be dedicated; not that it was literally to be anointed with the consecrating oil, but that it was to be consecrated in the highest and best sense by the presence of the Messiah - that by his coming there was to be a higher and more solemn consecration of the temple to the real purpose for which it was erected than had occurred at any time. It was reared as a holy place; it would become eminently holy by the presence of him who would come as the anointed of God, and his coming to it would accomplish the purpose for which it was erected, and with reference to which all the rites observed there had been ordained, and then, this work having been accomplished, the temple, and all the rites pertaining to it, would pass away.
In confirmation of this view, it may be remarked, that there are repeated allusions to the coming of the Messiah to the second temple, reared after the return from the captivity - as that which would give a peculiar sacredness to the temple, and which would cause it to surpass in glory all its ancient splendor. So in Haggai 2:7, Haggai 2:9: “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. - The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” So Malachi 3:1-2: “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner‘s fire, and like fullers‘ soap,” etc.
Compare Matthew 12:6: “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” Using the word “anoint,” therefore, as denoting to consecrate, to render holy, to set apart to a sacred use, and the phrase “holy of holies” to designate the temple as such, it seems to me most probable that the reference here is to the highest consecration which could be made of the temple in the estimation of a Hebrew, or, in fact, the presence of the Messiah, as giving a sacredness to that edifice which nothing else did give or could give, and, therefore, as meeting all the proper force of the language used here. On the supposition that it was designed that there should be a reference to this event, this would be such language as would have been not unnaturally employed by a Hebrew prophet. And if it be so, this may be regarded as the probable meaning of the passage. In this sense, the temple which was to be reared again, and about which Daniel felt so solicitous, would receive its highest, its truest consecration, as connected with an event which was to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and the prophecy.
(D) Simultaneously with this event, as the result of this, we are to anticipate such a spread of truth and righteousness, and such a reign of the saints on the earth, as would be properly symbolized by the coming of the Son of man to the ancient of days to receive the kingdom, Daniel 7:13-14. As shown in the interpretation of those verses, this does not necessarily imply that there would be any visible appearing of the Son of man, or any personal reign (see the note at these verses), but there would be such a making over of the kingdom to the Son of man and to the saints as would be properly symbolized by such a representation. That is, there would be great changes; there would be a rapid progress of the truth; there would be a spread of the gospel; there would be a change in the governments of the world, so that the power would pass into the hands of the righteous, and they would in fact rule. From that time the “saints” would receive the kingdom, and the affairs of the world would be put on a new footing. From that period it might be said that the reign of the saints would commence; that is, there would be such changes in this respect that that would constitute an epoch in the history of the world - the proper beginning of the reign of the saints on the earth - the setting up of the new and final dominion in the world. If there should be such changes - such marked progress - such facilities for the spread of truth - such new methods of propagating it - and such certain success attending it, all opposition giving way, and persecution ceasing, as would properly constitute an epoch or era in the world‘s history, which would be connected with the conversion of the world to God, this would fairly meet the interpretation of this prophecy; this occurring, all would have taken place which could be fairly shown to be implied in the vision.
(E) We are to expect a reign of righteousness on the earth. On the character of what we are fairly to expect from the words of the prophecy, see the notes at Daniel 7:14. The prophecy authorizes us to anticipate a time when there shall be a general prevalence of true religion; when the power in the world shall be in the hands of good men - of men fearing God; when the Divine laws shall be obeyed - being acknowledged as the laws that are to control men; when the civil institutions of the world shall be pervaded by religion, and moulded by it; when there shall be no hinderance to the free exercise of religion, and when in fact the reigning power on the earth shall be the kingdom which the Messiah shall set up. There is nothing more certain in the future than such a period, and to that all things are tending. Such a period would fulfill all that is fairly implied in this wonderful prophecy, and to that faith and hope should calmly and confidently look forward. For that they who love their God and their race should labor and pray; and by the certain assurance that such a period will come, we should be cheered amidst all the moral darkness that exists in the world, and in all that now discourages us in our endeavors to do good.
Such are the first words the angel utters to Daniel, toward imparting to him that instruction which he came to give. Why does he thus abruptly introduce a period of time? We must again refer to the vision of chapter 8. We have seen that Daniel, at the close of that chapter, says that he did not understand the vision. Some portions of that vision were at the time very clearly explained. It could not have been these portions which he did not understand. We therefore inquire what it was which Daniel did not understand, or, in other words, what part of the vision was there left unexplained. In that vision four prominent things are brought to view: (1) The Ram; (2) The He-goat; (3) The Little Horn; (4) The period of the 2300 days. The symbols of the ram, the he-goat, and the little horn were explained. Nothing, however, was said respecting the time. This must therefore have been the point which he did not understand; and as without this the other portions of the vision were of no avail, he could well say, while the application of this period was left in obscurity, that he did not understand the vision.DAR 191.2
If this view of the subject is correct, we should naturally expect, when the angel completed his explanation of the vision, that he would commence with the very point which had been omitted; namely, the time. And this we find to be true in fact. After citing Danielâs attention back to the former vision in the most direct and emphatic manner, and assuring him that he had now come forth to give him understanding in the matter, he commences upon the very point there omitted, and says, âSeventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.âDAR 191.3
But how does this language show any connection with the 2300 days, or throw any light upon that period? We answer: The language cannot be intelligibly referred to anything else; for the word here rendered determined signifies âcut off;â and there is no period from which the seventy weeks could be cut off but the 2300 days of the previous vision. How direct and natural, then, is the connection. Danielâs attention is fixed upon the 2300 days, which he did not understand, by the angelâs directing him to the former vision; and he says, âSeventy weeks are cut off.â Cut off from what? â The 2300 days, most assuredly.DAR 192.1
Proof may be called for that the word rendered determined signifies to cut off. An abundance can be given. The Hebrew word thus translated is ?????????, nehhtak. This word Gesenius, in his Hebrew Lexicon, defines as follows: âProperly, to cut off; tropically, to divide; and so to determine, to decree.â In the Chaldeo-Rabbinic Dictionary of Stockius, the word nehhtak is thus defined: âScidit, abscidit, conscidit, inscidit, exscidit â to cut, to cut away, to cut in pieces, to cut or engrave, to cut off.â Mercerus, in his Thesaurus, furnishes a specimen of Rabbinical usage in the phrase, hhatikah shel basar, âa piece of flesh,â or, âa cut of flesh.â He translates the word, as it occurs in Daniel 9:24, by praecisa est, is cut off. In the literal version of Arias Montanus it is translated âdecisa est,â is cut off; in the marginal reading, which is grammatically correct, it is rendered by the plural, âdecisae sunt,â are cut off. In the Latin version of Junius and Tremellius, nehhtak (the passive of hhathak) is rendered âdecisae sunt,â are cut off. Again, in Theodotionâs Greek version of Daniel (which is the version used in the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, as being the most faithful), it is rendered by ???????????? (sunetmethesan), were cut off; and in the Venetian copy by ????????? (tetmentai), have been cut.â The idea of cutting off is preserved in the Vulgate, where the phrase is âabbreviatae sunt,â are shortened.DAR 192.2
âThus Chaldaic and Rabbinical authority, and that of the earliest versions, the Septuagint and Vulgate, give the single signification of cutting off, to this verb.âDAR 192.3
âHengstenberg, who enters into a critical examination of the original text, says: âBut the very use of the word, which does not elsewhere occur, while others much more frequently used, were at hand if Daniel had wished to express the idea of determination, and of which he has elsewhere, and even in this portion availed himself, seems to argue that the word stands from regard to its original meaning, and represents the seventy weeks in contrast with a determination of time (en platei) as a period cut off from subsequent duration, and accurately limited.ââ â Christology of the Old Testament, Vol. II, p. 301. Washington, 1839.DAR 193.1
Why, then, it may be asked, did our translators render the word determined, when it so obviously means cut off? The answer is, They doubtless overlooked the connection between the eighth and ninth chapters, and considering it improper to render it cut off, when nothing was given from which the seventy weeks could be cut off, they gave the word its tropical instead of its literal meaning. But, as we have seen, the construction, the context, and the connection require the literal meaning, and render any other inadmissible.DAR 193.2
Seventy weeks, then, or 490 days of the 2300, were cut off upon, or allotted to, Jerusalem and the Jews; and the events which were to be consummated within that period are briefly stated. The transgression was to be finished; that is, the Jewish people were to fill up the cup of their iniquity, which they did in the rejection and crucifixion of Christ. An end of sins, or of sin-offerings, was to be made. This took place when the great offering was made on Calvary. Reconciliation for iniquity was to be provided. This was made by the sacrificial death of the Son of God. Everlasting righteousness was to be brought in; the righteousness which our Lord manifested in his sinless life. The vision and the prophecy were to be sealed up, or made sure. By the events given to transpire in the seventy weeks, the prophecy is tested. By this the application of the whole vision is determined. If the events of this period are accurately fulfilled, the prophecy is of God, and will all be accomplished; and if these seventy weeks are fulfilled as weeks of years, then the 2300 days, of which these are a part, are so many years. Thus the events of the seventy weeks furnish a key to the whole vision. And the âmost holyâ was to be anointed; the most holy of the heavenly sanctuary. In the examination of the sanctuary, on chapter 8:14, we saw that a time came when the earthly sanctuary gave place to the heavenly, and the priestly ministration was transferred to that. Before the ministration in the sanctuary commenced, the sanctuary and all the holy vessels were to be anointed. Exodus 40:9, 10. The last event, therefore, of the seventy weeks, here brought to view, is the anointing of the heavenly tabernacle, or the opening of the ministration there. Thus this first division of the 2300 days brings us to the commencement of the service in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, as the whole period brings us to the commencement of the service in the second apartment, or most holy place, of that sanctuary.DAR 193.3
The argument must now be considered conclusive that the ninth chapter of Daniel explains the eighth, and that the seventy weeks are a part of the 2300 days; and with a few extracts from the writings of others we will leave this point.DAR 194.1
The Advent Shield in 1844 said: âDAR 194.2
âWe call attention to one fact which shows that there is a necessary âconnectionâ between the seventy weeks of the ninth chapter, and something else which precedes or follows it, called âthe vision.â It is found in the 24th verse: âSeventy weeks are determined [are cut off] upon thy people, ... to seal up the vision,â etc. Now there are hut two significations to the phrase âseal up.â They are, first, âto make secret,â and second, âto make sure.â We care not now in which of these significations the phrase is supposed to be used. That is not the point now before us. Let the signification be what it may, it shows that the prediction of the seventy weeks necessarily relates to something else beyond itself, called âthe vision,â in reference to which it performs this work, âto seal up.â To talk of its sealing up itself is as much of an absurdity as to suppose that Josephus was so much afraid of the Romans that he refrained from telling the world that he thought the fourth kingdom of Daniel was âthe kingdom of the Greeks.â It is no more proper to say that the ninth chapter of Daniel âis complete in itself,â than it would be to say that a map which was designed to show the relation of Massachusetts to the United States, referred to nothing but Massachusetts. It is no more complete in itself than a bond given in security for a note, or some other document to which it refers, is complete in itself; and we doubt if there is a schoolboy of fourteen years in the land, of ordinary capacity, who would not, on reading the ninth chapter, with an understanding of the clause before us, decide that it referred to something distinct from itself, called the vision. What vision it is, there is no difficulty in determining. It naturally and obviously refers to the vision which was not fully explained to Daniel, and to which Gabriel calls his attention in the preceding verse, â the vision of the 8th chapter. Daniel tells us that Gabriel was commanded to make him understand that vision (8:16). This was not fully done at that interview connected with the vision; he is therefore sent to give Daniel the needed âskill and understanding,â â to explain its âmeaningâ by communicating to him the prediction of the seventy weeks.âDAR 194.3
âWe claim that the ninth of Daniel is an appendix to the eighth, and that the seventy weeks and the 2300 days, or years, commence together. Our opponents deny this.â â Signs of the Times, 1843.DAR 195.1
âThe grand principle involved in the interpretation of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, is that the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24 are the first 490 days of the 2300 of the eighth chapter.â â Advent Shield, p. 49.DAR 195.2
âIf the connection between the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 and the 2300 days of Daniel 8 does not exist, the whole system is shaken to its foundation; if it does exist, as we suppose, the system must stand.â â Harmony of the Prophetic Chronology, p. 33.DAR 195.3
Says the learned Dr. Hales, in commenting upon the seventy weeks, âThis chronological prophecy was evidently designed to explain the foregoing vision, especially in its chronological part of the 2300 days.â â Chronology, Vol. II, p. 517.DAR 195.4
“I set my face unto the Lord God,” the prophet declared, “to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.” Verses 3, 4. Though Daniel had long been in the service of God, and had been spoken of by heaven as “greatly beloved,” yet he now appeared before God as a sinner, urging the great need of the people he loved. His prayer was eloquent in its simplicity, and intensely earnest. Hear him pleading: PK 555.1
“O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. PK 555.2
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee.... PK 555.3
“To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.” “O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. PK 555.4Read in context »
But he was greeted with the joyful assurance: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” DA 98.1
Zacharias well knew how to Abraham in his old age a child was given because he believed Him faithful who had promised. But for a moment the aged priest turns his thought to the weakness of humanity. He forgets that what God has promised, He is able to perform. What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”! Luke 1:38. DA 98.2
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. DA 98.3
To the question of Zacharias, the angel said, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Five hundred years before, Gabriel had made known to Daniel the prophetic period which was to extend to the coming of Christ. The knowledge that the end of this period was near had moved Zacharias to pray for the Messiah's advent. Now the very messenger through whom the prophecy was given had come to announce its fulfillment. DA 98.4Read in context »
The burden of Christ's preaching was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Thus the gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The “time” which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. “Seventy weeks,” said the angel, “are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Daniel 9:24. A day in prophecy stands for a year. See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6. The seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days, represent four hundred and ninety years. A starting point for this period is given: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks,” sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. Daniel 9:25. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, as completed by the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (see Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 9, margin), went into effect in the autumn of B. C. 457. From this time four hundred and eighty-three years extend to the autumn of A. D. 27. According to the prophecy, this period was to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. In A. D. 27, Jesus at His baptism received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and soon afterward began His ministry. Then the message was proclaimed. “The time is fulfilled.” DA 233.1
Then, said the angel, “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years].” For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself; and afterward by the apostles. “In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A. D. 31, Christ the true sacrifice was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease. DA 233.2
The one week—seven years—ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel; the disciples who were scattered abroad by persecution “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4); and shortly after, Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. DA 233.3Read in context »
With a new and deeper earnestness, Miller continued the examination of the prophecies, whole nights as well as days being devoted to the study of what now appeared of such stupendous importance and all-absorbing interest. In the eighth chapter of Daniel he could find no clue to the starting point of the 2300 days; the angel Gabriel, though commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, gave him only a partial explanation. As the terrible persecution to befall the church was unfolded to the prophet's vision, physical strength gave way. He could endure no more, and the angel left him for a time. Daniel “fainted, and was sick certain days.” “And I was astonished at the vision,” he says, “but none understood it.” GC 325.1
Yet God had bidden His messenger: “Make this man to understand the vision.” That commission must be fulfilled. In obedience to it, the angel, some time afterward, returned to Daniel, saying: “I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding;” “therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” Daniel 8:27, 16; 9:22, 23, 25-27. There was one important point in the vision of chapter 8 which had been left unexplained, namely, that relating to time—the period of the 2300 days; therefore the angel, in resuming his explanation, dwells chiefly upon the subject of time: GC 325.2Read in context »
Then the work will move forward with solidity and double strength. A new efficiency will be imparted to the workers in every line. Men will learn of the reconciliation from iniquity which the Messiah has brought in through His sacrifice. The last message of warning and salvation will be given with mighty power. The earth will be lightened with the glory of God, and it will be ours to witness the soon coming, in power and glory, of our Lord and Saviour.—Letter 58, 1902. MM 185.1Read in context »
In the prophecy of Daniel it was recorded of Christ that He shall “make reconciliation for iniquity, and ... bring in everlasting righteousness” (Daniel 9:24). Every soul may say: “By His perfect obedience He has satisfied the claims of the law, and my only hope is found in looking to Him as my substitute and surety, who obeyed the law perfectly for me. By faith in His merits I am free from the condemnation of the law. He clothes me with His righteousness, which answers all the demands of the law. I am complete in Him who brings in everlasting righteousness. He presents me to God in the spotless garment of which no thread was woven by any human agent. All is of Christ, and all the glory, honor, and majesty are to be given to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” 1SM 396.1
Many think that they must wait for a special impulse in order that they may come to Christ; but it is necessary only to come in sincerity of purpose, deciding to accept the offers of mercy and grace that have been extended to us. We are to say: “Christ died to save me. The Lord's desire is that I should be saved, and I will come to Jesus just as I am without delay. I will venture upon the promise. As Christ draws me, I will respond.” The apostle says, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10). No one can believe with the heart unto righteousness, and obtain justification by faith, while continuing the practice of those things which the Word of God forbids, or while neglecting any known duty. 1SM 396.2Read in context »
The man of sin has instituted a false sabbath, and the professed Christian world has adopted this child of the papacy, refusing to obey God. Thus Satan leads men and women in a direction opposite to the city of refuge; and by the multitudes who follow him, it is demonstrated that Adam and Eve are not the only ones who have accepted the words of the wily foe. 4BC 1172.1
The enemy of all good has turned the signpost round, so that it points to the path of disobedience as the path of happiness. He has insulted Jehovah by refusing to obey a “Thus saith the Lord.” He has thought to change times and laws (The Review and Herald, April 17, 1900). 4BC 1172.2Read in context »
When called to enter new fields, workers thus trained will go forth as representatives of the Saviour, fitted for usefulness in His service, capable of imparting to others, by precept and example, a knowledge of the truth for this time. The goodly fabric of character wrought out through divine power will receive light and glory from heaven, and will stand before the world as a witness pointing to the throne of the living God. 7T 149.1
Then the work will move forward with solidity and redoubled strength. To the workers in every line will be imparted a new efficiency. The publications sent forth as God's messengers will bear the signet of the Eternal. Rays of light from the sanctuary above will attend the precious truths they bear. As never before, they will have power to awaken in souls a conviction of sin, to create a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, to beget a lively solicitude for the things that will never pass away. Men will learn of the reconciliation for iniquity and of the everlasting righteousness which the Messiah has brought in through His sacrifice. Many will be brought to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God, and will stand with God's people to welcome the soon coming, in power and glory, of our Lord and Saviour. 7T 149.2Read in context »
Sacred Truth Dishonored by Excitement—We need to be thoughtful and still, and to contemplate the truths of revelation. Excitement is not favorable to growth in grace, to true purity and sanctification of the Spirit. Ev 612.1
God wants us to deal with sacred truth. This alone will convince the gainsayer. Calm, sensible labor must be put forth.... Ev 612.2
God calls upon His people to walk with sobriety and holy consistency. They should be very careful not to misrepresent and dishonor the holy doctrines of truth by strange performances, by confusion and tumult. By this unbelievers are led to think that Seventh-day Adventists are a set of fanatics. Thus prejudice is created that prevents souls from receiving the message for this time. When believers speak the truth as it is in Jesus, they reveal a holy, sensible calm, not a storm of confusion.—Manuscript 76a, 1901. Ev 612.3
False Teachers Misplace Prophecy—In our day as in Christ's day, there may be a misreading and misinterpreting of the Scriptures. If the Jews had studied the Scriptures with earnest, prayerful hearts, their searching would have been rewarded with a true knowledge of the time, and not only the time, but also the manner of Christ's appearing. They would not have ascribed the glorious second appearing of Christ to His first advent. They had the testimony of Daniel; they had the testimony of Isaiah and the other prophets; they had the teachings of Moses; and here was Christ in their very midst, and still they were searching the Scriptures for evidence in regard to His coming. And they were doing unto Christ the very things that had been prophesied they would do. They were so blinded they knew not what they were doing. Ev 612.4Read in context »
At the time of Christ's first advent the priests and scribes of the Holy City, to whom were entrusted the oracles of God, might have discerned the signs of the times and proclaimed the coming of the Promised One. The prophecy of Micah designated His birthplace; Daniel specified the time of His advent. Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:25. God committed these prophecies to the Jewish leaders; they were without excuse if they did not know and declare to the people that the Messiah's coming was at hand. Their ignorance was the result of sinful neglect. The Jews were building monuments for the slain prophets of God, while by their deference to the great men of earth they were paying homage to the servants of Satan. Absorbed in their ambitious strife for place and power among men, they lost sight of the divine honors proffered them by the King of heaven. GC 313.1
With profound and reverent interest the elders of Israel should have been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of the greatest event in the world's history—the coming of the Son of God to accomplish the redemption of man. All the people should have been watching and waiting that they might be among the first to welcome the world's Redeemer. But, lo, at Bethlehem two weary travelers from the hills of Nazareth traverse the whole length of the narrow street to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking a place of rest and shelter for the night. No doors are open to receive them. In a wretched hovel prepared for cattle, they at last find refuge, and there the Saviour of the world is born. GC 313.2
Heavenly angels had seen the glory which the Son of God shared with the Father before the world was, and they had looked forward with intense interest to His appearing on earth as an event fraught with the greatest joy to all people. Angels were appointed to carry the glad tidings to those who were prepared to receive it and who would joyfully make it known to the inhabitants of the earth. Christ had stooped to take upon Himself man's nature; He was to bear an infinite weight of woe as He should make His soul an offering for sin; yet angels desired that even in His humiliation the Son of the Highest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befitting His character. Would the great men of earth assemble at Israel's capital to greet His coming? Would legions of angels present Him to the expectant company? GC 313.3Read in context »
These and other scriptures clearly proved to Miller's mind that the events which were generally expected to take place before the coming of Christ, such as the universal reign of peace and the setting up of the kingdom of God upon the earth, were to be subsequent to the second advent. Furthermore, all the signs of the times and the condition of the world corresponded to the prophetic description of the last days. He was forced to the conclusion, from the study of Scripture alone, that the period allotted for the continuance of the earth in its present state was about to close. GC 323.1
“Another kind of evidence that vitally affected my mind,” he says, “was the chronology of the Scriptures.... I found that predicted events, which had been fulfilled in the past, often occurred within a given time. The one hundred and twenty years to the flood (Genesis 6:3); the seven days that were to precede it, with forty days of predicted rain (Genesis 7:4); the four hundred years of the sojourn of Abraham's seed (Genesis 15:13); the three days of the butler's and baker's dreams (Genesis 40:12-20); the seven years of Pharaoh's (Genesis 41:28-54); the forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34); the three and a half years of famine (1 Kings 17:1) [see Luke 4:25;] ... the seventy years’ captivity (Jeremiah 25:11); Nebuchadnezzar's seven times (Daniel 4:13-16); and the seven weeks, threescore and two weeks, and the one week, making seventy weeks, determined upon the Jews (Daniel 9:24-27),—the events limited by these times were all once only a matter of prophecy, and were fulfilled in accordance with the predictions.”—Bliss, pages 74, 75. GC 323.2Read in context »
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.... Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.... And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” GC 326.1
The angel had been sent to Daniel for the express purpose of explaining to him the point which he had failed to understand in the vision of the eighth chapter, the statement relative to time—“unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” After bidding Daniel “understand the matter, and consider the vision,” the very first words of the angel are: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.” The word here translated “determined” literally signifies “cut off.” Seventy weeks, representing 490 years, are declared by the angel to be cut off, as specially pertaining to the Jews. But from what were they cut off? As the 2300 days was the only period of time mentioned in chapter 8, it must be the period from which the seventy weeks were cut off; the seventy weeks must therefore be a part of the 2300 days, and the two periods must begin together. The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting point for the great period of the 2300 days would be ascertained. GC 326.2
In the seventh chapter of Ezra the decree is found. Verses 12-26. In its completest form it was issued by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, 457 B.C. But in Ezra 6:14 the house of the Lord at Jerusalem is said to have been built “according to the commandment [“decree,” margin] of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” These three kings, in originating, reaffirming, and completing the decree, brought it to the perfection required by the prophecy to mark the beginning of the 2300 years. Taking 457 B.C., the time when the decree was completed, as the date of the commandment, every specification of the prophecy concerning the seventy weeks was seen to have been fulfilled. GC 326.3Read in context »
Christ Himself had sent them forth with the message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15. That message was based on the prophecy of Daniel 9. The sixty-nine weeks were declared by the angel to extend to “the Messiah the Prince,” and with high hopes and joyful anticipations the disciples looked forward to the establishment of Messiah's kingdom at Jerusalem to rule over the whole earth. GC 345.1
They preached the message which Christ had committed to them, though they themselves misapprehended its meaning. While their announcement was founded on Daniel 9:25, they did not see, in the next verse of the same chapter, that Messiah was to be cut off. From their very birth their hearts had been set upon the anticipated glory of an earthly empire, and this blinded their understanding alike to the specifications of the prophecy and to the words of Christ. GC 345.2
They performed their duty in presenting to the Jewish nation the invitation of mercy, and then, at the very time when they expected to see their Lord ascend the throne of David, they beheld Him seized as a malefactor, scourged, derided, and condemned, and lifted up on the cross of Calvary. What despair and anguish wrung the hearts of those disciples during the days while their Lord was sleeping in the tomb! GC 345.3Read in context »
The experience of the disciples who preached the “gospel of the kingdom” at the first advent of Christ, had its counterpart in the experience of those who proclaimed the message of His second advent. As the disciples went out preaching, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand,” so Miller and his associates proclaimed that the longest and last prophetic period brought to view in the Bible was about to expire, that the judgment was at hand, and the everlasting kingdom was to be ushered in. The preaching of the disciples in regard to time was based on the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. The message given by Miller and his associates announced the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, of which the seventy weeks form a part. The preaching of each was based upon the fulfillment of a different portion of the same great prophetic period. GC 351.1
Like the first disciples, William Miller and his associates did not, themselves, fully comprehend the import of the message which they bore. Errors that had been long established in the church prevented them from arriving at a correct interpretation of an important point in the prophecy. Therefore, though they proclaimed the message which God had committed to them to be given to the world, yet through a misapprehension of its meaning they suffered disappointment. GC 351.2Read in context »
It suits the policy of Satan that men should retain the forms of religion if but the spirit of vital godliness is lacking. After their rejection of the gospel, the Jews continued zealously to maintain their ancient rites, they rigorously preserved their national exclusiveness, while they themselves could not but admit that the presence of God was no longer manifest among them. The prophecy of Daniel pointed so unmistakably to the time of Messiah's coming, and so directly foretold His death, that they discouraged its study, and finally the rabbis pronounced a curse on all who should attempt a computation of the time. In blindness and impenitence the people of Israel during succeeding centuries have stood, indifferent to the gracious offers of salvation, unmindful of the blessings of the gospel, a solemn and fearful warning of the danger of rejecting light from heaven. GC 378.1
Wherever the cause exists, the same results will follow. He who deliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes with his inclinations will finally lose the power to distinguish between truth and error. The understanding becomes darkened, the conscience callous, the heart hardened, and the soul is separated from God. Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness; faith and love grow cold, and estrangement and dissension enter. Church members center their interests and energies in worldly pursuits, and sinners become hardened in their impenitence. GC 378.2Read in context »
The fact that a few fanatics worked their way into the ranks of Adventists is no more reason to decide that the movement was not of God than was the presence of fanatics and deceivers in the church in Paul's or Luther's day a sufficient excuse for condemning their work. Let the people of God arouse out of sleep and begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation; let them search the Scriptures to learn the truth as it is in Jesus; let them make an entire consecration to God, and evidence will not be wanting that Satan is still active and vigilant. With all possible deception he will manifest his power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm. GC 398.1
It was not the proclamation of the second advent that caused fanaticism and division. These appeared in the summer of 1844, when Adventists were in a state of doubt and perplexity concerning their real position. The preaching of the first angel's message and of the “midnight cry” tended directly to repress fanaticism and dissension. Those who participated in these solemn movements were in harmony; their hearts were filled with love for one another and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human influence, and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan. GC 398.2
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.” Matthew 25:5-7. In the summer of 1844, midway between the time when it had been first thought that the 2300 days would end, and the autumn of the same year, to which it was afterward found that they extended, the message was proclaimed in the very words of Scripture: “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!” GC 398.3
That which led to this movement was the discovery that the decree of Artaxerxes for the restoration of Jerusalem, which formed the starting point for the period of the 2300 days, went into effect in the autumn of the year 457 B.C., and not at the beginning of the year, as had been formerly believed. Reckoning from the autumn of 457, the 2300 years terminate in the autumn of 1844. (See Appendix note for page 329.) GC 398.4Read in context »
To accept this conclusion was to renounce the former reckoning of the prophetic periods. The 2300 days had been found to begin when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration and building of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C. Taking this as the starting point, there was perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25-27. Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2300 years, were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One; and Christ's baptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit, A.D. 27, exactly fulfilled the specification. In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah was to be cut off. Three and a half years after His baptism, Christ was crucified, in the spring of A.D. 31. The seventy weeks, or 490 years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration of this period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, A.D. 34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 years would remain. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. “Then,” said the angel, “shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” All the preceding specifications of the prophecy had been unquestionably fulfilled at the time appointed. GC 410.1
With this reckoning, all was clear and harmonious, except that it was not seen that any event answering to the cleansing of the sanctuary had taken place in 1844. To deny that the days ended at that time was to involve the whole question in confusion, and to renounce positions which had been established by unmistakable fulfillments of prophecy. GC 410.2
But God had led His people in the great advent movement; His power and glory had attended the work, and He would not permit it to end in darkness and disappointment, to be reproached as a false and fanatical excitement. He would not leave His word involved in doubt and uncertainty. Though many abandoned their former reckoning of the prophetic periods and denied the correctness of the movement based thereon, others were unwilling to renounce points of faith and experience that were sustained by the Scriptures and by the witness of the Spirit of God. They believed that they had adopted sound principles of interpretation in their study of the prophecies, and that it was their duty to hold fast the truths already gained, and to continue the same course of Biblical research. With earnest prayer they reviewed their position and studied the Scriptures to discover their mistake. As they could see no error in their reckoning of the prophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subject of the sanctuary. GC 410.3Read in context »
“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousness, but for Thy great mercies. PK 556.1
“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God: for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.” Verses 4-9, 16-19. PK 556.2
Heaven was bending low to hear the earnest supplication of the prophet. Even before he had finished his plea for pardon and restoration, the mighty Gabriel again appeared to him, and called his attention to the vision he had seen prior to the fall of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar. And then the angel outlined before him in detail the period of the seventy weeks, which was to begin at the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” Verse 25. PK 556.3
Daniel's prayer had been offered “in the first year of Darius” (verse 1), the Median monarch whose general, Cyrus, had wrested from Babylonia the scepter of universal rule. The reign of Darius was honored of God. To him was sent the angel Gabriel, “to confirm and to strengthen him.” Daniel 11:1. Upon his death, within about two years of the fall of Babylon, Cyrus succeeded to the throne, and the beginning of his reign marked the completion of the seventy years since the first company of Hebrews had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar from their Judean home to Babylon. PK 556.4Read in context »
Thus, through patriarchs and prophets, as well as through types and symbols, God spoke to the world concerning the coming of a Deliverer from sin. A long line of inspired prophecy pointed to the advent of “the Desire of all nations.” Haggai 2:7. Even the very place of His birth and the time of His appearance were minutely specified. PK 697.4
The Son of David must be born in David's city. Out of Bethlehem, said the prophet, “shall He come forth ... that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. PK 697.5Read in context »