The Mystery of the “Seventy Weeks” in Daniel 9, Chapter XX
Gabriel the Messenger From God’s Throne (con’t.)
At the fullness of time this same Gabriel is sent as a Messenger from God. God suddenly comes to His temple by means of Gabriel at the time of the sacrifice (Mal. 3:1). The suddenness of his appearance to Zacharias reflects the suddenness with which the “Messenger of the Covenant,” the Lord Jesus, will come to Israel in order to usher in the Kingdom of heaven. Truly, when Jesus came in the flesh, the Kingdom was realized by His death and resurrection and by His glorious ascension. And the people were told that the kingdom of heaven was come, be it then unawares to blind unbelief (Matt. 12:28).
Be this as it may, the plain truth is that it is Gabriel who brings the grand message to Zacharias, the father of John, the forerunner of Christ. Principally John came to reconstitute all things in preparation for the King (Matt. 17:11, 12; Mark 9:11-13). John was the long-expected and foretold Elijah, who was to come (Is. 40:3-5; Matt. 3:3; Luke 3:4). This was the great subject of discussion even in the Jewish seminaries (John 1:19-24). He is the friend of the Bridegroom, this John; he must prepare the way, present the Messiah to Israel, and then go away from the scene of action and die like the greatest of the prophets (John 3:25-36). The very kingdom of heaven will suffer violence because of John’s preparatory labors, and the violent will take it by force (Matt. 11:12). Thus the power of the coming age is set aflame in the church, and men taste and see the power of this age to come. Believers taste and see that the Lord is good (I Peter 2:3; Psalm 34:8).
To bring this great announcement, Gabriel is the designated Messenger, the ministering spirit who stands before God (Heb. 1:14). No, Gabriel is not to sit at God’s right hand; he may not sit upon the throne, as do later Christ and all the saints, but he stands “before God,'” as His mighty messenger. He hastens to do God’s bidding! And men had better listen for their very life’s sake (Heb. 2:1-3).
We are, at this point, especially interested to show that Gabriel is the divinely appointed and designated angel to bring the Gospel-tidings of the fulfillment of the promises made in the Old Testament. And in both points of God’s wise dispensation Daniel must serve this role, whether it be at the time of Daniel, when the last fourteen generations of the holy, royal line is ushered in, or whether it be at the end of this designated period when Christ will be born from the Virgin. Forsoothe, any other angel could not bear the very meaningful name: Gabriel. The name Gabriel isGod is mighty! The Almighty God is nobly and ably represented in this Gabriel, who had power to lay his hand on a fainting Daniel to strengthen him (Dan. 8:18), and who can by his mighty word make Zacharias dumb for a very specially designated length of time (Luke 1:20). This Gabriel represents the God Who raises the dead to life, and Who calls the things that be not as if they were (Rom. 4:17). Surely the true seed of Abraham do not in hope against hope live and die in vain!
God Almighty sent His great angel!
Gabriel was a messenger sent forth to minister for them, who shall be the heirs of salvation. And Scripture emphasizes that this message is not only for the circumcision but also for the foreskin, to all who walk in the footprints of the faith of Abraham (Rom. 4:12). He who does not believe this does not believe all the prophetic Scriptures. For the elect, the believers out of both Jews and Greeks, those who are near and who are far off, shall all one day be the one new man in Christ, one fold and one Shepherd (John 10:16; Is. 56:8; Ez. 37:22; Eph. 2:11-22). Truly, Daniel’s message from Gabriel is not merely concerning the rebuilding of earthly Jerusalem, and the raising up again of the temple after the pattern of the Solomon’s temple; it refers to the far greater and more perfect temple which is to come, which shall indeed be filled with the glory of the Lord forever, the dwelling-place of God in the Spirit (Haggai 2:3-9; Eph. 2:17-22). Only such a message is the answer to Daniel’s imploring and supplication concerning “Jerusalem, thy holy mountain” and the “sanctuary that is desolate for the Lord’s sake” (Dan. 9:16ff.). Daniel knew full well that the return to the full-fledged priesthood after the order of Aaron could not perfect anything. There is no sacrifice in the Old Testament which could cleanse the conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:9, 14; Heb. 10:2, 22).
This makes for the urgency of Daniel’s prayer, that God may cause His face to shine upon His sanctuary which is desolate for the Lord’s sake. God has a greater and higher purpose in destroying the Old Testament temple, namely, that He may raise up the temple in three days to heavenly heights of glory in the better and true tabernacle, which shall be filled with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (John 2:19-22).
The Seventy Years as Represented in the “Seventy Sevens” Daniel 9:24
It ought to be quite obvious to the most careful and believing reader, that the angel Gabriel, speaking of the “seventy sevens” (weeks) does not merely refer to seventy “years” as did Jeremiah in his prophecy, and as referred to in the Chronicles (Jer. 25:11, 12; II Chron. 36:21). The years referred to and predicted by Jeremiah are literal calendar years, giving historical dates. Israel could mark these off on their calendar; it was a veritable countdown. Israel is definitely instructed by Jeremiah that they must prepare themselves to live in the foreign land of Babylon in hope of returning to the promised land after exactly seventy years. In the meantime they must submit to the “powers that be” in Babylon. It is well to study carefully that remarkable word of the LORD to Israel in Jer. 29:4-7. It is the divine directive for Israel’s life and preservation in Babylon, where they hang their harps upon the willows. Notice the following injunctions:
1. Build ye houses and dwell in them. Jer. 29:5
2. Plant gardens and eat the fruit of them. Jer. 29:5
3. Take wives and beget sons and daughters, take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye be increased there and not be diminished. Jer. 29:6
4. Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives. Jer. 29:7
5. And pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Here we see the work program, a program of hope for the church in the midst of the world. This was not merely the order of the day for Israel in Babylon, but such is the abiding principle for the life of the church in the midst of all nations (Rom. 13:1-8; I Peter 2:13-17; I Tim. 2:14). God ever has in mind the gathering of the church out of all nations. World history is church history! The safety of Israel in the midst of the world is that she sanctifies the LORD God in obeying His word. Thus she enters into the rest (Is. 8:12, 13; I Peter 3:15).
When we are dealing with actual historical times and circumstances, and of definite historical dates on a calendar, we can also have definite injunctions for the proper conduct of God’s people in these historical situations, appointed by God.
This is not the case with the “seventy sevens” of which Daniel speaks. He really makes the revelation of the Mystery of these “seventy sevens” in rather startling and arresting terms. And it should be noticed, that Jehovah through His messenger is truly ushering in the fulfillment of the Old Testament “lunar calendar,” which regulated the feasts and sabbath days in their prophetic intent and meaning. No other nation outside of Israel, the people of God, ever received such a calendar of “sevens.”
What is the reason for this?
The Scriptural meaning of the number “seven” is that it represents the perfection of the work of God, whether in creation or in recreation. We read in Genesis 2:1 that God finished His work of creation on the seventh day. This was the capstone of God’s creation work, sanctifying all things in His service (Heb. 4:4). Here is not the place to enter into the matter here cited from Genesis 2:1; we only refer to this to show the meaning of the term “seven.” It is the cornerstone of God’s dealings with His people in their life’s pattern, which must not be merely number “six,” which is the number of man, of this creation apart from God (Rev. 13:18). Six is the number of man. In its highest perfection of antichristian world-and-culture it is never more than six hundred sixty-six. However, seven is the perfection of the Covenant, of the tabernacle of God with man.
The Bible teaches very clearly and loudly that God will bring His people into the land of “rest,” a land of Sabbaths. Here in this land He will place His “name in the place of rest.” This is the place where God will “record my name” (Ex. 20:24). God will bring His people into His land of rest, a land of many sabbaths. The land must have its prescribed sabbaths, and Israel must enter into the rest of God, His perfected Covenant. God had designated that Israel must come to worship in the holy sanctuary, whether this would be the tabernacle at Shiloh or the temple in Jerusalem (Deut. 12:5, 11, 13). Hence, the entire life of Israel is regulated by the number “seven.” We notice this in the regular weekly sabbath on every “seventh day,” or in the special feastdays, the three appointed feasts of Passover, Feast of Harvests, and the feast of Tabernacles, which later was connected with the great day of Atonement. Even these were all on the principle of the number “seven.” The Passover was killed on the 14th day of the first month, which Passover feast was eaten on the 15th day. This was 2 x 7 = 14 plus 1. This is “seven” doubled to perfection, so that Israel could enter into the “first day” of the new week. This was true with respect to both the feast of the Passover and the feast of Tabernacles. It is on the basis of the number “seven” that a male child was circumcised on the “eighth day.” This eighth day was the first day of the first new week in the life of the male child. It symbolized that old things were passed away, that the perfection of the new had come (Gen. 17:12). There is no reason to doubt that it is for this reason that Christ arose on “the eighth day.” Ever the Sabbath of the New Testament fell on the eighth day. Do not we read of the appearances of Christ that He even appeared to the disciples (John 20:26). Our New Testament Sabbath is the first day of the new week; hence, it is that Christ arose on the eighth day, when viewed form the Old Testament perspective!