George C. Lubbers is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The Mystery of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9
“IT IS FINISHED” TO THE UTTERMOST—con’t.
It is really quite noteworthy that the Hebrew infinitivelecallee = to shut, restrain, finish is translated with the Aorist infinitive in the Septuagint. The Piel degree in the Hebrew suggests that this transgression was finished very, very much! The Aorist infinitive expresses completed action, pointedly completed action. The great transgression which was perpetrated by the one man in Adam, and as this passed on as sin and guilt and corruption to all men, was all taken away once and for all at the end of the ages by one man, Jesus Christ. The infinitive construct here looks at this mediatorial, sacrificial work as one which in its totality was “a finishing oftransgression.” The definite article in the Hebrew underscores the blessed and grand fact that this was the well-known, central transgression which had to be removed by Christ in such a way that, if by the trespass of the one, death reigned by the one, much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:12-21).
At this point it may be of benefit for a proper understanding of the entire verse to notice the grammatical construction (verse 24).
We must then observe that we have here placed before us six different infinitives. These are translated from the Hebrew as follows:
1. “To finish the transgression”
2. “To make an end (seal) of sins”
3. “To make reconciliation (to purge away) for iniquity”
4. “To bring in everlasting righteousness”
5. “To seal up vision and prophecy”
6. “and to anoint the most holy”
Quite obviously we are here dealing with the two aspects of Christ’s work and of our salvation. It is the removal from sin and guilt and granting us the free gift of righteousness and life. Hence, the first three infinitives refer to the removal of guilt and sin in Christ’s atoning suffering and death, and the latter three refer to Christ’s work as the living Savior in glory. Here we have the glad truth that if we have been saved, while we were legally enemies, by the death of God’s Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved in His life (Rom. 5:10). Furthermore, we should also notice that in the first three infinitives there is a certain broadening and expansion of thought. The most basic concept is “The Transgression.” It is the very conscious transgression of the commandment of God. The next speaks of “sins.” These are the sins which are all implied in the transgression. And in the term “iniquity” we see the sinfulness of sins and of the transgression. God’s law is very wide. Here we see the fulfillment of the law of God in its length and breadth, height and depth. And hence we see what it means that Christ, having loved us, loved us even unto the end (John 13:1). Behold, the manner of the love of God. God has divinely commended His own love to us when we were yet sinners!
But there is more here!
When we look carefully at the last three infinitives we see that here we get a glimpse of the power of grace. We see somewhat what it implies that we are no longer “under law” but “under grace.” For here we see what it means that we receive from the fullness of Christ grace for grace. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth became through Jesus Christ (John 1:16). Here Gabriel tells it to a trembling and thankful Daniel: “To bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy” (Dan. 9:24).
Choice words of life and comfort for God’s weary saints, looking for the city (Psalm 107:33-36)! Daniel hears the fulfillment of the oft sung Poet: “He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and watersprings into a thirsty ground . . . .” Yes, but also: “he turneth a wilderness into a pool of water” (II Kings 3:17). And here he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city of habitation.” Ah, who can forget this city of which the people sang at the Red Sea, the Song of Moses, “Thou wilt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, the place, O Jehovah, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, the sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. Jehovah shall reign for ever and ever”? Yes, this is the city and the sanctuary which Abraham saw from afar and rejoiced, the city whose Builder and Maker is God!
In the spotlight of the prophetic word, which shines like a beacon-light across the ages of the Old Testament history, Daniel sees Calvary; he sees the dying Christ hanging on the accursed tree. There he hangs, the Man of sorrows. There the veil was rent, and the Holy Spirit proclaims clearly and strongly that the way into the most Holy is opened! Amen!
Yes, it is all fully finished.
Let us see this step by step. Each stone is laid very carefully here in the text. Let him that reads understand. Thus speaks Jesus while upon the earth in His utter humiliation in this dark hour at the doorstep of Calvary. He sees the utter desolation of the earthly Jerusalem to bring in forever, by one sacrifice, the heavenly and the better city.
Secondly, He “came to make an end of sins.” Seventy weeks are determined upon God’s people and upon the holy city. In the seventieth “seven” this last and only Cornerstone shall be laid in Christ’s blood. Yes, He came to save His people from their sins. His name is JESUS, the MESSIAH. The infinitive (verbal) “lechatheem” means: to set the seal upon sins. He will so remove them that it has the seal of God’s approval. Sins are no more upon the statute books of God against us. God does not reckon them any longer to our account. He sees no sin in us any more, nor iniquity in Jacob. And no Balaam or any of all the hosts of hell can any longer accuse us properly in God’s court. Jesus seems to allude to this when He says in John 5:27, “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.” The Messiah is sealed in God’s appointment and anointment! No man can defrock Jesus, nor make His work and word void, Amen! And notice the plural “sins.” One thinks here of the well-known words of I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Yes, Christ is the Lamb of God, Who carries away the sin of the world, the one great “world-sin,” so to speak. But He does so in such a way that each of our “sins” is sealed in His blood as blotted out forever, so that He may come the second time “without sin” to them that wait for Him unto salvation (Heb. 9:28)!
The third matter, the third duty to which the Messiah is appointed of God is “to make reconciliation for iniquity.” Here we are brought into the very holy of holies of the Old Testament typical sanctuary. Here we stand in the great feast of atonement when the high priest went into the most holy place, not without blood. Here we are reminded of the two goats, which were used to signify this typical reconciliation from sin, and the sprinkling of the blood upon the mercy-seat. It was sprinkled on the mercy-seat. It was sprinkled on the mercy-seat above the tables on the law. Here mercy and justice kissed each other. The verb which is in the infinitive form (a verbal) really means: to cover. When sin is covered, it is not “put under the rug” but it is covered before the eyes of a holy and just God, so that these sins are forever, removed, and the sinner, the guilty, damn-worthy sinner is justified before God. It means to restore into the favor of God, the sinner, who once stood in the pristine beauty of being able to have the right to be God’s servant. Thus man was created. He did not need to attempt to hide from God. He could have boldness to talk with God, as a son—to God, the Father of all creation. But he fell. He became legallyan enemy of God; he is accounted an enemy. He “dying he must die” in the just judgment of God, until full and complete satisfaction for sin has been brought. And when “sin is covered” it means that the sin is so paid, that God no longer sees it as sin which must be punished as an offending of the highest majesty of God!
For the sin which must be covered is what the text calls “iniquity.” This means that the sinner acts crookedly. It is a breaking of the justice of God. The noun “iniquity” as the translation of “awoon” occurs some 218 times in the Old Testament. When the sinner comes to heart-felt sorrow for his sins by the enlightening and quickening grace, which makes his refractory will pliable and willing, then he confesses the iniquity of his sins (Psalm 32:5)! Hear David speak of this in the well-known penitential Psalm, the fifty-third: “According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions; wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” O, the sinfulness of both adultery and murder! Yes, murder to attempt to cover up before men the sin of adultery! Yes, David learned from and by the law the sinfulness of sin (Rom. 7:13). Notice some very striking usages of the term “iniquity” in Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 59:2; Isaiah 53:5, 6, 11. Did the Lord not cause the iniquity of us all to be the ground for the bruising of the Christ at Gethsemane and at Calvary?
And now Gabriel tells Daniel of the dying Christ to come. As we said earlier, the spotlight of prophecy shines very brightly in a dark and dismal situation in Israel’s history and sorry state. Behold, the morning-star is seen arising!
But here and here only we are given the real answer to Daniel’s deep cry for God to look down upon His holy city. Was this not the cry of every child of God when he left the temple in the Old Testament? But, O when they hang their harps upon the willows, and when they cannot sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. This is very painful. What a passionate plea of a Daniel who must have joined in with the weeping Israel, “Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” Yes, let Edom say, “rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof” (Ps. 137:6, 7). But God hears the prayer of the righteous man, Daniel, which cries, “O Lord, hear, O Lord do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name.”
And the Son, the Messiah said: Behold, I come to do thy will, O God! I long with great longing for that moment at Calvary. There I will cry and cry until it is “finished.” Amen.