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THE THRUST TO THE END
The Messiah, Desolations, Dates and Dynamic of Resurrection
The marshalling yards of history in the prophetic spectrum have been shining into the darkness of this world, and giving light; but this is as little compared with that which is to come, the Messiah Himself. Even here, in the very intensity of His illumination, there is desolation; for when the disease is profound, and the love is illimitable, then the action to be taken is grievous indeed.
We move now into specialised developments, indeed more than that, to the core, centre, pith, heart and reality back of it all, to the Messiah and the thrust to the end, which for many is the beginning of life consummate, eternal life in its own special surrounds.
This then comes as the last item, initially, in our Development Series, and then moves to various applications, including that of Nehemiah, with Ezra, whose work is a practical prelude to the living Temple, Jesus Christ, but a specialised one, so that the symbol of Christ Himself, the Temple, itself desolate, is rebuilt, just as Christ, Messiah to be left derelict by man, is resurrected; just as indeed, His people, His body, are gifted with the same practical grace, at His coming.
7) The Profound Prophetic Harvest which Brought Abundance of Knowledge amidst the action.
Let us turn to Daniel 9 with happy expectation, therefore; for here we find Daniel, realising that the 70 year exile of Israel is about up*3A, that made by Jeremiah, seeking from God pardon and mercy, acknowledging folly and evil on the part of Israel, the justice of the exile but seeking the wonder of divine intervention in order, out of pure grace, to fulfil their restoration as promised.
In Daniel 9, now in Cyrus' day, that of a sovereign of amazing desire for the restoration of Israel, in the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, the second in Daniel's empire-list of Chs. 2 and 7, we come upon something rather different from salient sovereigns moving to insalubrious ends. Here as Daniel seeks, amid his vast and numerous, prophetic and personally practical dealings with empires, and yearns for Israel, he is given from the strategic wonder station of divine wisdom, as in a council of war, not only what he seeks. Beyond this, he is given a Messianic centre to it, and a scope of coverage of that Person's death, and its timing, that is another masterpiece of divine knowledge, unleashed like a herd of buffalos, to thrust into and over the ground of knowledge.
It is particularised for Israel, but focussed for the Messiah, the only hope of that nation, as of any other; and it is to Him we come in the fascinating account of the 70 7s, a period not of 70 years in exile, with its due terminus in restoration from Babylon to their homeland, but of 70 lots of 7 years. The unit of account is no longer one year, for it is 7. We have 7-fold groupings. Just as there were 70 single years to reach the due date for the restoration to Israel, after their captivity, so now there are 70 lots of 7 years, bundled up, to another event. What then is this event ?
It is Messiah the Prince, and His lot as we have noted, is to be deprived, unrecognised by the nation, indeea abhorred by it as forecast (Isaiah 49:7). What is to be done for Him, given to Him: why then, Israel when He comes, it has NOTHING for Him (Daniel 9:26).
In this Chapter 9, therefore, there is a certain desolatory aspect, not this time for Israel (as foreseen by Jeremiah in Chs. 9, 21, 25 and 29 for example, as in Ezekiel 21 so dramatically, and as experienced empathetically, as evinced in the Lamentations of Jeremiah), but for the Christ Himself. It is He who, not suffering for His own sins, as did Israel, came to bear theirs, that is, those of such as believed in Him (Isaiah 53:1, the remnant), whether Jew or Gentile (Isaiah 42:6). The case for the Messiah, the ultimate Jerusalem, tabernacle, Holy Place, foundation of God on earth, express image of His Person (Hebrews 1) is not here lavished, as was that for Jerusalem the city, as in Jeremiah's additive to his prophecy.
Here in Daniel, the record is most brief. In fact, in Daniel, it is a matter of TWO WORDS in the Hebrew. One indicates 'there is nothing' and the other, 'for him' or 'to him." In His domain, nothing is the attribution, the contribution, the praise of His people. He came to His own and they did not receive Him was the forecast, and the fact.
What then ? It is this. For Him, what regality was to be seen ? From the nation, nil, from the authorities in their high self-esteem and imposing and clashing partisan parties ? none. What was given, other than the love of thousands of hearts and the exhibition of a power only God has, the compassion towards myriads, the curing and raising of many! This the true regality, showing its quality, performing its wonders, for He IS wonderful! (Isaiah 9:6).
Yet what OFFICIAL regality is there ? When He came as in Matthew 21's account, duly seated on an ass's colt as foretold by Zechariah some half millenium before (9:6-7), and was praised even by children, the prophecy of Psalm 118 being used in His recognition, it seemed perhaps that there would be something for Him. However, within days, craft and deviousness, injustice and passion, lust for survival , made the madder by the exuberant exhibition of love and power in the raising of four days dead Lazarus, led to His slow assassination. Ironically, indeed, it was the defeat of death for Lazarus' that made the desire for their own survival the more cancerously compelling! The whole world will go after Him! they cried in a horror which the gas chambers and concentration camps could only show to have been misplaced. Had it done so, much better things would have been in store!
How intemperate can human nature become, how self-interested for itself, its own nation, its honour or its pride, when what is needed is necessary abasement before infinite majesty, and honest affiliation with the God of all comfort!
The death designed by these nationalistic religious mavericks, moreover, was not a matter of moments, but of hours.
Not this time by a bullet - as so greatly helped millions to their graves at World War I, at Sarajevo, not thus did he die.
It was an extended affair. Harassment overnight, arrest in effect for doing good and exhibiting the credentials of the Messiah, made by anti-empirical hatred, with fear a ground for slaying rather than worship, ludicrous examinations in which the role of fact was made accessory to foregone conclusions rather than being the lead to due assessment for the Messiahship, the ultimate in begging the question: these were the preliminaries. False accusations did not work, since witnesses were not well enough trained; but His confession, that He was indeed the Christ (cf. Mark 14:62), it was this that was used to nail Him.
It was as foretold, right down to the piercing and the hanging amidst mockery (Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 22), and the resulting resurrection (Psalm 16, cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25). The reason for His vicarious suffering had long before Daniel's day, been exhibited in penetrating detail, showing the amazing grace of God, so to act for sinful man, effective and functional for as many as trusted in Him, for what He there gave (Isaiah 53:1,5-6,10-11). Just as it is free (Isaiah 55), so it is freely refusable (John 3:19), and there is no positive accounting for rejection (II Corinthians 5:17-21, Matthew 20:28, Romans 8:32), known to God before all time, and indeed secured with knowledge (I Peter 2:8), despite the love of God, which harasses none into heaven!
After all, a multitude of cheques for one million dollars does not more good than one for one dollar, if it be not accepted. God who knows all, knows for whom they are made out, and the case of devils is not covered (Mark 14:20-21). Actual cover by the blood of Christ, conferment of the atonement, reception of the reconciliation (Romans 5:11), restoration to the image of Him who created us (Colossians 3:10), these are of the utmost in sacredness, intimate gifts, perfume to the soul, spiritual symphonies to the heart, rest for the head, comfort for the spirit, delight to contemplation of the issues of destiny. They are not thrown about; but the love of God is pressed continually, even where it is barrenly refused, and the gifts are desired, even when left in desolation of heart, by rejection (cf. Christ's weeping, and mordent grief that Jerusalem did not, even in that, her day, know the things which belonged to its peace - Luke 19:42ff.)!
Here, similarly, it was as it is, of no value was to BE a Jew if one does not believe the centrepiece of the Bible, Jesus Christ, or for that matter, to be anything else among mankind; it was to BELIEVE, whether Jew or not, that was the identification signal, signature and token of accord. If the nation (Isaiah 49:7) abhorred its God when He appeared as promised (Ezekiel 34, Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 7, 9, 32,40), this therefore did nothing one way or the other for the individual, each of whom had to respond (cf. Zechariah 12:10-13:1). God deals with sinners separately, one at a time (cf. Isaiah 44:3-5, Proverbs 1).
In the VERY ACT OF GIVING, even giving Himself, then, with unsearchable riches in store for man, in the signal solemnity of such as operation as that, yet did He receive NOTHING! (Daniel 9:26).
It is to this long announced desolation accorded to deity formatted as man, the very exact image of His person, to this in its detailed provisions and explanations, which Daniel comes. The summit of suffering and salvation is thus given two words.
THERE IS NOTHING FOR HIM.
|No regard, but as
for a criminal (Isaiah 53:9), no sceptre except a mock one,
|no blessing on the
head, but thorns, long and to pierce into the scalp and perhaps beyond,
|no robe but one of
|no clothes, since
they rather liked the seamless robe He had,
and soldiers in attendance at this acme both of awe and awfulness, drew for it with lots.
|No regal reception
did the nation mount - the unofficial parade having been silenced now,
from so few days before. Another carried the Cross of the lacerated Son of man,
and on it He was, as in custom it would seem, dumped into the ground,
so that the nails might bite their recognition of His flesh, withheld by His nation.
|Nothing ? No, nothing at all for Him.|
When was this to be ? After 69 sevens. This is treated in Christ the Citadel Ch. 2 from which conveniently we import here.
THE NEW TO FULFIL THE OLD: ON TIME
In fact, Daniel in his ninth chapter had predicted from the 6th century B.C., the date of the death of Christ, the Messiah, and His birth had to be according to this. You see this in Daniel 9:24-27, where the divine plan to “finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for the guilt and to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision and to consecrate the Holy of Holies”: will be implemented.
Indeed, he had predicted the length of His ministry as the Messiah (that is, ministry as Sent Saviour), at some 3 and one half years. Further again, priesthood - and Christ was the ultimate priest - required entry level was from 30 years of age; and Christ was about this age when He started (Luke 3:23). It all fits together with history as shown in SMR pp. 886ff., and Highway of Holiness Ch. 4, where a fascinating thing was done. Let us see this new thing, when it was dated by Daniel.
The prophet Daniel had been exiled with many Jews, when Jerusalem fell - indeed a little before that - and rising to prominence through the divine gift of prophecy, possessed in marked degree, and through his godly life, backed by the power of God (without which his career would have been but short!), he learned special features of the Lord’s vast plan. Invented and backed by God, this project of His will moved over history by vision, right to the end of the prophetic period.
Indeed, he was told as he prayed about the 70 year exile which God through Jeremiah (25-26) had predicted for Israel, one close to its end, that there was to be a most important period to come. Had Israel as predicted by the prophet Jeremiah, served a punishment in Babylon, exiled from their own land, for 70 years ? NOW this figure would be used as a basis for instruction on the very plans of God.
Now, it was not a span 70 years, as for that exile of Israel in Babylon, but of 70 times 7. The historical period in view would turn from being 70 times 1 to 70 times 7. This use of the exile (from which they were returned through Cyrus as foretold by name - Isaiah 44-45), shows the wisdom of God who speaks, and it is done, whether in creation or in regeneration of the human heart, as shown in II Corinthians 4:6, I John 5:11ff.. Thus its 70 years became an arithmetic base for history, an intriguing show.
A starting date for this span of history, had to be given. It would come, God showed Daniel (Daniel 9:24-26) from a command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Its administrative and physical power would be ordered by imperial authority to be restored.
THAT was fulfilled in the royal command of Artaxerxes, ruler of the ancient Persian Empire which was to come. THIS command is noted in Ezra 7:18,25-26, and it is dated at 458 B.C.. Here was the start of this vast period which focussed prediction of the death of the Messiah. He to be killed, this prince, Messiah, and the results would be colossal. No more could there be any defence, sanctity to the temple, whose Lord was slain: indeed city and temple were to be (as they were) destroyed and wars would continue. Evidently, the Messiah held the very power and place of God, and His removal lost all 9:27) Further, sacrifice would cease, for the ONE SACRIFICE that mattered had now been made!. It would cease, first in its point and then at all, with the loss of the temple. Such was the prediction; such was history to be at and following AD 70.
We have seen the starting date for the seventy sevens, and the result of the rejection of the Messiah. How did this date come ? It is found in Daniel 9:26. The seven-year periods are divided into section. First there is one of 7 of them, and then one of 62, totalling 69 of the sevens, or 483 years in all.
It was AFTER 69 of the sevens, that something happened. What was this ? It is found in 9:26: “Messiah shall be cut off, and there is nothing for Him.” That is a literal translation. E. J. Young, of Westminster Theological Seminary in my day, sets it out in this way: Nothing that belonged and was fitting for Him was given to Him. Instead the guilt of sin was all He obtained as He bore it.
He was CUT OFF. King ? so crucify Him. Prince ? so mock Him. Sent ? so give Him a good send-off from this world! The people laughed at Him: Let Him come down from the Cross, let God deliver Him, since He delighted in Him! But THIS was the sacrifice planned as in Isaiah 52-53. It helps Christians to realise that sometimes the worst done to and against them, the worst mockery, is part of their testimony, to have the half-witted nonsense vomited onto them, so that it might fall off, a picture of the wicked hearts of those who are dead in sins. Sometimes we must suffer in order to show the love of God, just as Christ did to take the sins of all who would come to Him. Love drives all of this.
So the Messiah was cut off, the most important person in the history of man on earth, the One anointed to bring history to its conclusion; and it was after 69 sevens. HOW LONG after that ?
Half-way through the next and last seven, sacrifice would be finished. HOW ? We have been following the central figure, the Messiah: there is one seven left, and in this, in its midst, He ends the sacrifice. Who else could do that ? Was it not ordered by God ? Yes it was, but what was ALSO ordered by God was this, that the Messiah would replace animal sacrifice, as in Isaiah 52-53, and 66:1-4. WHEN ? Why of course when HE DIED, to end sacrifice for sin. What follows ? it is this. The date of the death of the Messiah would therefore be 483 years from the JERUSALEM COMMAND, noted above, PLUS something like half a seven, or some 3 and one half years. Thus we have moved from the Messiah to the people of a coming prince, and then back to the singular, HE, and it is He who makes sacrifice to cease by BEING IT.
Let us calculate. From 458 to 1 A.D. is 458 years. We have to go another 25 years to make up the total of 483, for the 69 sevens. That is A.D. 26. It is another 31/2 years till His death. That makes it around 30 A.D. depending on months. It was then that His death in fact happened in precise fulfilment. From the word given by God to Daniel, 600 years before He acted to have Christ crucified for sin, the Lord who made time, acted like an engineer of history. He showed when that great action would occur. It did. God is always like that. Our very bodies are full of His commands in the DNA (matter does not make commands, it only keeps them). Our salvation is also in terms of His commands. The Lord is King over all the earth, and it is well to trust in Him.
What then have we found. It is this. In the divine authority, God would then bring an end to the daily sacrifices (Daniel 9:27), those set up for Israel. Why ? It was because at that time He was to become THE SACRIFICE in Himself, through His everlasting Word sent to do it (as in Isaiah 48:16, John 1:1, 8:58, Hebrews 1). THEREFORE if more sacrifices were attempted, this would be sin, blindness. Why ? It was because by then, Christ had FULFILLED all that sacrifice meant. First He deleted their need, and then the place for them. HE was the place!
To continue, as Israel did, would become a meaningless chatter, like a car engine which insists on going on for some time, even after you turn off the key. With the crucifixion of Christ, the rest of the prophesied period would become HIS, finishing whenever He should come, at the Father's will, as He made clear (Acts 1:7-8). The last half-seven would become a seven of the length CHRIST, cut off, would decide. Just as God wanted the world to know WHEN Christ would die, so He does NOT desire it to know just when He will return, as in Matthew 24:45ff., and Acts 1:7-8.
That, His return, after first calling for His own people for the celestial assemblage (Revelation 19:8), is a matter of intense and intensive light, felt as flaming vengeance by the godless, so long immune to truth, outrageous in dealings, fearless in mockery, faithless in life, as if exempt from God who made them, and needing nothing, and so giving nothing, even though He gave them their very selves1.
Yet this is far away from Daniel 9, as it ends, the cutting off of the Creator just rehearsed. Here is darkness and disorder for an unyielding world.
The desolatory dimness following cutting off of the Messiah is highly featured in Daniel, like a pit being focussed in a film. After the death, which was to be, as it was, in the vicinity of AD 30 in our present time scale, and was made specific, it is this desolation which follows in the spiritual realm, to be expressed over the last and enduring Empire, the fourth, the Roman. That, as stated, would be fragile, partly strong and partly broken, the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern version, the Holy Roman Empire, the Napoleonic reconstruction, the Hitler attempt, the Common Market, the European Union, so it moves to its end.
War upon war, million upon million lost in darkness and desolation, false christs, false prophets, secular crypto-religionists, worshipping powers that flit about like mosquitoes on parade, racial, humanist, derelictions of irrationality (cf. SMR Chs. 3, 10).
Yet before all this, not only the death for sin, that great clearing house for mankind, whatever remnant should come, was quite clear, portrayed in prophecy, effected in flesh, but its very date was given. Why was that done ? why such precision ? It was, not least so that the world might know that no future being, Muhammad, Pope, Man of Sin, Little Horn, would be relevant to salvation but only to its demise (cf. More Marvels ... Ch. 4, SMR pp. 911ff., 1032-1088H), that no one claiming to be "God Almighty on earth" or any such thing, to be above his brethren (Matthew 23:8-10) was to be tolerated in impositions of such kinds. The ONLY ONE who mattered, the Master, the Teacher, the Authority, it was ONE named Jesus Christ. There is one God and one Lord (Ephesians 4:4), and whatever seeks any of His perquisites merely betrays Him, misusing His name into the bargain.
At the spiritual level, there are two main features. One is the movement to the return of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:9ff.), the Lord of all, the Messiah, in all-covering power, majesty, dominion and might (as in Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Micah 7 with Isaiah 59); and the other is the dimness which those who INSIST on it, because they did not receive the transforming, totally contrasting light of the Messiah, have as their inheritance (cf. Isaiah 8:19-9:7). What HE came to provide is either received or not, nationally, personally, in family, in society.
Where not, there is an intensification over time of the dimness of anguish. Daniel 9:7 at its end, lets this gloom loom continuously therefore.
There may be, as there must, times when rampant evil can rejoice for season - as in 1939-1940 with Hitler, as in far longer centuries of the Inquisition (cf. Ancient Times, Modern Events Ch. 14); there are times of opportunity, as when the British Empire formally took on the Protestant domain for its national Church; and there are times of recidivism, as now for that same land, when there is almost no apparent limit to its decline of spirit, and we have even had one Home Secretary beginning to speak of radical evangelical Christians in terms of such ignorance and mockery as belittle belief for a little at least, as virtual if not actual terrorists!
That deserves thought and it is given it as in Appendix III of The Biblical Workman and What is the Chaff to the Wheat ? Ch. 5 and Deserts and Desserts ... Ch. 6. The name ? Blunkett! The terms used by the Home Secretary were these: that "far right evangelical Christians" are among those who would "take our lives because they reject our faith, and it applies equally from far right evangelical Christians, to extremists in the Islamic faith." The confusion of terms is made apparent in the Appendix III above, as in the other references, where the enormity of the confusion, the folly of the contradiction of reality in totality and the wild slanging of emotions in defilement of opposite truth, is made apparent.
This is mere exhibition of that sorry estate to which the once so great British Empire has been descending, just as the European Union has been quite dismissive, as shown in the issue of its Constitution so much debated, of any reference to its religious foundations, which apparently are now so illusory as to be unspeakable, whether this be for diplomatic reasons or for any other. In other words, there have been times and seasons of revival (cf. Acts 3:19ff.), and its reverse; of congratulation for the King of Kings in some nations, and the obverse side of the coin, with another head altogether on it; and there have been tests and opportunities. Some glimmer of what the light would mean in the nations has been assuredly found, but profundities of gloom accrue as these are left.
Thus in Daniel 9:27, we find the focus on the Messiah, to whom we recall THERE IS NOTHING, and that He will confirm covenant with many for one seven - that in the 70 lots of 7, this will occur in the last, for His coming is prior to that last, after 69 of the 70 sevens. In the midst of that last seven - His ministry was for three years and one half it appears from the Gospels - He is cut off. So it is written and so it was. The last part of the last seven, the Messianic seven, HIS, as He states so clearly in Acts 1, is not for public knowing. With HIM, the series ends, and from HIM will come the size of the final unit, the final one of the final seven.
As to His second coming, He declared, many would be taken by surprise. Its general features, yes, these He willingly gave (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5); but as to the precise time of His coming (Acts 1:7ff.), this was not available. Just as His death date, necessary to be disclosed, was sure prelude to His coming for salvation, in that He thus established the more securely yet, His identity on which all depends, so it would have been CONTRARY to His Messianic mission to disclose the date of His regal return. Had He done so, or had it so been ordered, then what surprise would there be for the thieves, misusing His property, for the squalid, corrupt in unspirituality and foremost in godless ministries! (Matthew 24:36-51). Indeed, what tenderness might evil show as it approached, instead of regaling itself in itself for itself, that its essential nature be displayed for ever before all!
If you will, one could break it up in this manner.
1) For identity of HIMSELF, the date of His death was given centuries in advance.
2) For identification of HIS PEOPLE, the time was withheld, to be provided, like a visa at a country border patrol post, and to be given on demand.
The time of the latter is at His coming, when one will be taken, one left as in Matthew 24; and His people will be abstracted from the dimness of the anguish, then mounting perceptibly in this world, by His coming (I Thessalonians 4). Some marvel that He so abstracts His own at that time from this earth; but it is like taking your children home from school during an epidemic. The school has its own ways and wards and nurses and whatever it fancies, and that is one domain. When the parent comes in a mobile car, designed to transport ELSEWHERE, then a new system arrives, which has new ways. Teachers no longer control it.
When the Lord comes to take His own people from a wilfully sick and treacherous world, having had its millenia to show itself and all its ways and 'options', this is to move them from one style of existence and authority, with the prince of this world (John 14:30), as insalubrious and abutting as usual, to another, with the Prince of Peace now made manifest. When He returns with them, judgment moves to impact, and glory to surge into this world (Habakkuk 2:14), so that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
The world needs and then gets its come-uppance, and His glory its vindication, as He comes with His saints to rule it (Revelation 20, Isaiah 11, Micah 7, Matthew 19:28ff.), before this universe departs, despatched, like an old building with rats in the basement, say in New York (Isaiah 51:6, II Peter 3); and it goes.
EZRA, NEHEMIAH and the NEW TEMPLE
Mark I and Mark II,
The Structure and the Sovereign
Before we leave Daniel, there is need for further reflection. Daniel was used progressively in sequenced prophesy, to show what is to be, in terms now arithmetically disposed in a pattern, now imperially disposed in illustrations whether statuesque or bestial, now in radically detailed historical overview of the squirmings of turmoiled power, leading to the end of the Age.
That is one side. Practical deliverance as he did so; that is another. Co-operation with his colleagues in the faith: this was a third, although he seems through eminent placement to have had to act alone in good faith, for much of his time. There is a fourth aspect.
Daniel was not impractical. When the 70 year exile was about up, as in Daniel 9, he was fasting and praying and gave expression to a vast prayer of contrition, sorrow for his nation and appeal to the mercies of God. Part of the answer was to provide outline not for a 70 year period, but for one of 'sevens', a time for centuries to come, with its spiritually select features impacted. But what of the actual return, there and then, of the exiled people to their land ?
This too, it occurred. Daniel, perhaps in his nineties, was not about to become a settler, a proto-kibbutznik if you will. He had his place and his presence to deploy in the imperial dynamics, in the name of the Lord. He had not cowered at his singularity of faith, but had used it to bring glory to God eminently. It was for younger people, like Ezra and Nehemiah to go.
It was indeed to come to be that during the day of Ezra, rebuilding the temple, that an imperial edict was found to give structure to Jerusalem and Judah in governmental rule (Ezra 7*4), and the time specified by Daniel in 9:25, thus started, like a clock for your oven, to call you by ringing when the meat is done. The time was started, that ended in the area of what is now A.D. 30, so that in the midst of this final 7, the extent of Christ's own ministry on this earth as Messiah being about 3 and one half years, He could be cut off, so that "there is nothing to Him"! The starting date, set at 457 B.C.*4 came to the conclusion in the Messiah, thus when Christ actually died, history confirming as always, what was foretold in the name of the Lord.
Before that, there were other features of the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. Staggering as it might have seemed when they were, as it were, quivering and shivering in Babylon, far from the warm fires of the homeland's hospitality, Jerusalem was to be restored and built by command, so arising from its devastation so poignantly described in Jeremiah's book of Lamentations (9:25). So much, indeed, would it be rebuilt that it would be just the place for setting its own Messiah at nought, as if the prodigality of mercy from the Lord which enabled IT to stand again, would be nicely and satisfactorily met by nullifying the gift of the Lord in human form! That would come, as it did; but in the meantime, in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, with the street and wall being raised in "troublous times", as Daniel forecast (9:25), there was work to be done. More, there was attestation to be made in history that 1) the place was restored and rebuilt and 2) that this in fact occurred in troublous times, with difficulty and travail.
Nothing could be clearer than the fact that this was laboriously fulfilled, in Ezra and Nehemiah, for if there was not sly endeavour to built with them, on the part of their enemies, as in the WCC failure to focus biblically on Christ, while offering a pasture for sheep (cf. SMR pp. 743ff.) and the UN non-failure to focus on mixtures of myths and marvels in a concoction that is near the ultimate religious cocktail, and just as intoxicating, there were other niceties. These ranged from appeal to fear, to enticement to compromise and connive, from slick relationships with religious officials, apt for commerce with religious enemies, to marriage where religion was ready for subversion.
However, amidst laborious times, it happened, it was rebuilt, just as Daniel foretold. The fact, the time (Jeremiah 25, Daniel 9), the terms and conditions, all went as predicted. It was a perfect example of the difficulties and travail which any good work of reformation and revival may face, when this world's wry works and those of decadent religionists mingle to jostle and to jibe, to harass and to 'help'!
Thus, just as the devil sought and wrought to defeat, deny or derail Daniel, and failed, so he tried hard to so likewise to Ezra and alter Nehemiah, as they rebuilt the domain and the Temple. The articulation of the matter had also been treated further back, by Isaiah in one of his runs through coming history, in the name of the Lord. Listen to the way in which the Lord, perhaps around 2 centuries earlier, foretold the very name of the monarch who would proclaim liberty for them to return. After all, had this command not been given imperially, the Jews in exile could scarcely mount a siege against Babylon, or make war on it from within!
God not only foretold the name and the national background of the one who would liberate them, but that he would do so freely. Let us examine the foretelling concerning the liberating King who would deliver Israel: Isaiah44:25-45:7, cf. 43:13ff..
That name ? It was Cyrus (Isaiah 44:25-45:7, esp. v.4 - the much famed 'Cyrus cylinder' of archeology, deals with his release of the Jews to their land and their worship). And he? a Prince of Medes (Isaiah 13:17) and Persians (Daniel 8:20).
Of Him, Isaiah foretells the following:
1) He is a mighty prince.
2) He is sealed and named, indeed, in advance by God, as a LIBERATOR.
3) His actions will result in the rebuilding of the temple (44:28),
which had been gutted with fire.
4) His progress when his time comes, will be irresistible by any power on earth (45:2, 46:11), because God wills it to be so.
5) Cyrus will perform this wonder on behalf of the people God has chosen, NOT FOR PRICE NOR FOR REWARD (45:13).
It is not sufficient for the Lord to articulate the name of their liberator WHEN His appointed time of exile was finished (the 70 years), or the lands with which he would be associated. He also speaks of his amazing strength and conquest, telling in advance that this is because of His own decisions concerning the matter. Nor does this linger as all: the Almighty further indicates that the restoration will be free, not a matter of gaining a stake. Indeed, as with all of the wonders, the great wonders of the Lord, it is of its own kind, neither starved of power nor of insight, of fact or of wisdom: it is all there, munificent from divine majesty, distinctive in savour, flavour and factuality.
As it was to be, so it was.
Cyrus is also mentioned in Daniel 10:1, just as Daniel nears the time of departure for his long-range coverage to the resurrection in 10-12.
"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
'I am the Lord, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
Who frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drives diviners mad;
Who turns wise men backward,
And makes their knowledge foolishness;
Who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers;
Who says to Jerusalem, "You shall be inhabited,"
To the cities of Judah, "You shall be built,"
And I will raise up her waste places;
Who says to the deep,
"Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers";
Who says of Cyrus, "He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,"
Saying to Jerusalem, .You shall be built,'
And to the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid.’
"Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
'For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
'I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.’
"Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the Lord, have created it."
Just as in Daniel, the Lord went to enormous pains to ensure that the progressive, sequential nature of world history, and its meaning and significance should be understood, with His spiritual surveillance in operation, attested by the constant precision of His announcements and the manner in which He disposed events, so in Isaiah here, He also takes pains.
Love is willing to take pains; and did so in Christ literally on the Cross. Sacrifice is not only in death but in life; and sacrificial living is therefore part of the meaning of life in Christ Jesus.
Let us then survey further the scene and situation from Isaiah, his time.
His work this time, as a scribe and prophet from the Lord, it is to make a highly specific prediction: When does he make it ? It is before the assault by Babylon on Israel (foretold in Isaiah 13-14, is so much as present. He tells of restoration to come from an exile to come wrought by a nation to act when its time comes. In this, Isaiah has the same sort of majestic spiritual sweep, indifferent to time, but locating things in it, as is seen in Daniel.
Here then in Isaiah 13-14, we find Babylon revealed as a coming oppressor of Israel, and a further datum arrives. As to that nation which will so assail Israel, the Lord reads in advance the death notice. Her own rampancy will be visited on her own head in utter and amazing, sustained destruction, while the Lord delivers His people (Isaiah 14:3ff.), God declares an outcome then, not only for Israel, but for Babylon who took Judah and ravished it, and to complete matters, the name of the King and the peoples concerned, in Israel's restoration and the fate of the ravisher.
When then ? Just as through Isaiah is given the restoration with rejoicing of Israel (Isaiah 14), so now a little later He extends the citation. He names both the empire and the particular King of that empire, who is to RESTORE Israel to its land. We find in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:21, that this is done. It is moreover characterised. It is to SHOW that the Lord is one, one only in wisdom and power, there is no other; and it is in His hand to control the empires, and dispose in the final account the events (Isaiah 45:6-7).
By such feats, the Lord shows not only His own wisdom and power, reliability and faithfulness, but the completely uncompetitive emptiness of all who try to secure a site for themselves in the spiritual sphere, as if they knew anything in any way comparable with the divine knowledge (Isaiah 44:25ff.). Indeed, it is as with knowledge in general: if you have it, it is relatively easy to act on it, and to show with perspective, principle and detail alike, how it fits, acts and eventuates. If you lack it, no amount of pretence will hide it, at least from any scientifically aligned, who take things seriously and not as a romantic adventure, as many seem today to regard religion, when it is not a means for murder, in all the frauds that abound as foretold by Christ (Matthew 24:24).
As He ended the flood (44:27), and such torrents, so He will bring blessing to Israel through just this King. There is a time for rebuke, but then in mercy look for the time of restoration! With Israel, the promises applied and the deliverance came. It was through the Medes (Isaiah 13:17) and Persians (Daniel 8:20), that this overthrow of Babylon is to be wrought. That both empire and king are named, for restoration of Israel, over a century before they had any need of restoration, not then having been seized, nor even in exile is part of the fluency of wisdom and the majesty of understanding when it is allied with the inviolability of power (Isaiah 43:27), attesting the place of free salvation (Isaiah 44:22-23, 45:22ff., 53-55). Indeed the very irresistibility of the power and the freedom of the liberation are in themselves symbolic in the political and national sphere, of what is available to all races, at the spiritual one, far more costly, necessary and beneficient.
What then do we find ? It is this. As in Daniel, so the Lord musters His mastery over history, and declares things to come (Isaiah 48:3-8, 41:21-24), desiring that man add this to the overwhelmingly obvious reality attesting God, and trust in Him, gaining His salvation (Isaiah 45:22-25).
Thus when the 70 years of Jeremiah-predicted exile were up, and Daniel sent up his prayer, gaining that masterful 70 lots of seven prophecy of Daniel 9, and soon all that followed, old as he was, in Daniel 10-12, there were not lacking means to implement the divine forecast. Cyrus, famous from the Cyrus cylinder, attesting his royal proclamation for Israel's return, did indeed send them back; they did indeed encounter as did Daniel, clamorous obstruction and guile, efforts to compromise their purity of heart and action before God, as seen both in Ezra and in Nehemiah.
Indeed, it was a privilege for aged Daniel, to see with his own eyes the dissolution of Babylon's power at last (Daniel 5), and to give out the interpretation to the sovereign in place at the time in the capital, the judgment of God. Thus was cleared the way for the new empire, to which would come the named King so that he might make the predicted free restoration of Israel. Yet the living of that restoration, like the Christian life, involved need for vigilance and vigour (cf. Ephesians 6:10-20). Its end is sure (Ephesians 1:11), but its way is challenging.
Ezra 4:1-12, shows one such obstruction and its removal. One must here emphasise the WCC type ploy: LET US BUILD WITH YOU! Never! To build you need bricks and mortar, if a brick house is in view, and both need to be right, not odd, some with drugs in them, some cracked, some dabbed with mortar without enough lime. Again and again we find it: DO NOT STAY in churches where the word of God is in any way compromised, where it is not final in its diction, pure without addition from man, or constraint from man's own commandments. In such churches, there is but one way to follow biblical admonition: Correct them or leave. Do not deprive the Lord's armies of their soldiers by lingering long, or with longing like Lot's wife, for their comforts, conveniences and popularity.
Ezra and Nehemiah, in attacking with small numbers a vast task in a hostile environment typify the very situation for Christians now, for they are a small percentage, but alas, vastly augmented by every sort of folly and mischief, just as met Ezra as seen in Ezra 4.
Let us build with you! they say (Ezra 4:2). Reply from authority: "You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus king of Persia, has commanded us." In our case, therefore, in the 21st century A.D., while the world deceives, the answer is not different, except for this, for it becomes at the end of it: "as King Christ king of all has commanded us."
Another attack, this time to make them stop building the temple (the more direct approach) is recorded in Ezra 4:8-24. The use of governments is always one way of wielding worldly power to prevent Christian building of the temple, the living temple of the Lord. Here it harassed and had some success; but those who exhorted were enabled to prevail, and at last the temple was built (Ezra 6:1`3ff).
Purifications indeed had to be made from within, as it was, as seen in Ezra 9-10. In Nehemiah it was no better, for you see the mockery in Nehemiah 4, another mode of attack as they built, one like that forecast in II Peter 3:3-5, as those who love an earth that just lopes along, without judgment and with the world in their hearts, protest volubly but blindly.
Again in Nehemiah 5, there has to be another purification, some oppressing others with adventitious gain: that was cleared up. Then in Nehemiah 6, there is the conspiracy against Nehemiah, to seek to play on fear, and on compromise by association with those enemies of God; but he put it aside. In Nehemiah 9 we find, as in Daniel 9, vast enterprise in confession of sin, and concentration on the word of God. Covenant was made (Nehemiah 10), and things proceeded, being built up (cf. Ephesians 2:19ff., 4:12-16).
As to the Temple, consider some of its phases.
The vision was built in revelation through Daniel in the exile (Daniel 9), fulfilling the vision of Jeremiah 25, for the time abroad before their return to their land. It was built in practical terms, in the Restoration, as leaders Ezra and Nehemiah worked. The Messiah then duly, as in Daniel 9:24ff., was desecrated, that living Temple (cf. Isaiah 4:6, 32:1-4), to fulfil sin's desolation more fully in His own (cf. Psalm 22, Matthew 26:46 cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), rising as guarantor of what is to come. In all this, every work is prepared in revelation, planted as prepared, and fulfilled as schematised from of old (cf. Hebrews 2, 7-10). The vision of Daniel then proceeds as above noted, through the desolations extended in such grave and sombre terms (Daniel 9:27ff.), as world history is built. It is made desolate in successive steps (Daniel 11), empire after empire and jangle of wars after wars, till the return of Christ and the resurrection.
His investiture is seen in Daniel 7 and His power to raise as He was raised, in Daniel 12, as in Isaiah 26:19, I Corinthians 15 and of course, through John 11, which was a prelude to the princely, priestly act to come in entire consummation of the will and wisdom of God (cf. I Corinthians 1, Zechariah 6:12). HIS temple, HIS body, Christ's, it is this which is raised as in Isaiah 26, I Corinthians 15:22, 50ff., I Corinthians 12:27.
For a time, this earth, at His appearing will be depopulated of its Christian body, for these, its members, are to re-appear with Him on home ground in heaven (Ephesians 2:6), as in Revelation 19, He who is Faithful and True, returns with them, this greater Nehemiah, with this greater because universal task for those who are His in all nations, to rule and vindicate righteousness before the world is swept away, like Autumn leaves, from the paths of holiness, which remain.
Then there is a place, a new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 20, Isaiah 65), found in the creative predictions of the Creator, whom to know is life eternal, whose company is incomparable, whose joy is full of glory and whose word is truth.
For more on Daniel, and exposition, see With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength, Chs. 2-10 (except 6).
FROM SMR p. 1082, we have the following on the actual date of Daniel's composition as the Spirit of Christ moved him (cf. I Peter 1:10-11, Matthew 24:14ff.). It has been slightly enlarged for this purpose. The Matthew reference occurs first.
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then he end will come.
"When you therefore see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand), then let them who are in Judaea flee into the mountains: let him who is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house; neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe to those who are with child, and to those who give suck in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the Winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
*4 DANIEL AS A DOCUMENT
Daniel is of course one more prophetic reference to the Messiah in His humiliation, which (9:26) corresponds with Jesus Christ whom the Jews reject as a nation; whereas the Book of Daniel is Jewish scripture. We may be sure they did not invent it in order to forward the acceptance of the Messiah whom they rejected! In turn, Christ, Matthew, refers to Daniel the prophet, and as Dead Sea Scrolls show, the Daniel text before Jesus Christ, God-as-man, has strong correlation with our own.
The Dead Sea Scroll date for the literature in one Daniel segment is around 120 B.C. - that is, the date of the COPYING of this particular MSS, according to Dupont-Somner in Aperçus Preliminaires: at the latest. This is based on paleography. R. Laird Harris, in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Vol. III, p. 296 notes that F.L. Cross, Professor at Harvard, sees a script from the Dead Sea material7 of Daniel not later than second century B.C.. R. K. Harrison in his Introduction to the Old Testament, refers on p. 1118 to the copies and fragments of Daniel at Qumran and declares:
''In the interests of objectivity it should be noted in passing that the Persian terms found in Daniel are specifically Old Persian words, that is to say, occurring within the history of the language to about 300 B.C..'' (Op. cit. p. 1126.)
They fit before that, then.
Harrison further points out that even a second century dating for Daniel is: absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumran, partly because there are no indications whatever that the sectaries compiled any of the Biblical manuscripts recovered from the site, and partly because there would, in the latter event, have been insufficient time for Maccabean compositions to be circulated, venerated, and accepted as canonical Scripture by a Maccabean sect.
Earlier therefore is the time for Daniel, evidentially.
Professor Gleason Archer in his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, in comparing the Daniel exhibits with those dated for the second century B.C., makes this note:
Any fair-minded investigator when faced with such an overwhelming body of objective data pointing to the temporal interval of centuries between the two bodies of literature must conclude that a second-century date for the book of Daniel is completely out of the question... The complete absence of Greek loan-words, apart from musical instruments of international currency... points unmistakably to a time of composition prior to the Alexandrian conquest.
He continues that only a 'dogma-ridden obscurantist can adhere' to so late a date as second century B.C., and even he 'must henceforth surrender all claim to intellectual respectability.'
Since all the parties move in the B.C. era for the writing of the MSS of Daniel, discovered at Qumran, and we are faced with hundreds of years prior to Christ's death, it becomes an academic exercise of great interest, but no necessity for our work to pursue it further.
Centuries before that death, God gave its date, and the prophecy cannot alight in history before this, nor find home except in the veneration granted to what is not only attested by archeology, but by the entire accuracy of all that has transpired since; for such things CAN come only from the God of all truth, who is able to transmit the future with all the candid accuracy and graphic force of newspaper accounts, whether of the Messiah to be sent, His reception by His people, or of any of the other matters which have come, like the fitful Roman Empire, enduring partly fragile, partly strong, to this day for its work in the finale.
Suffice to say that it is interesting to gain B.C. writings of Daniel nowadays in such volume, used so widely in that period. This is precisely what one would EXPECT, from a birth date for the book of Daniel, at the time stated within it, for Daniel the prophet.
Daniel is really an object lesson in prejudice: the number of aborted criticisms of it, that are interred with recent excavations of archeology, is truly startling. The book stands in all its untouchable dignity, sharply verified. The Jews did not make up a scripture of which none knew, and solemnly hoodwink the populace, scuttle their souls or blaspheme God for the purposes of religion. Daniel, like all prophets, had to make the grade on predictions (Deuteronomy 18). He has done so admirably, in a fashion far more spectacular in kind, than is the U.S. landing on the moon: for He predicted the date of the death, in human form, of that divinity who should rule over all nations for ever... hundreds of years before it happened.
As we see, his predictions from long before Christ's advent, concerning His death, represent perhaps the greatest detailed falsifiable prediction of all history, to the days of Christ... and THAT, says the examiner, should do! (See Ch. 9 supra, The Daniel File - esp. pp. 946, 940, 896-898.)
Two more points remain. The intemperate and reckless attacks made on this book, while information was less in archeology, is one more evidence of the truth of the scriptural precision of the analysis of men in Romans 1:19-21. Thus this negative anti-Biblical fury, now in vain, verifies the Bible. Professor Archer's language above, reflects the reluctance to cease the attack on the part the contra-Daniel assault force, which he, doubtless from experience, conceives. The author of this present work, indeed as a student, when - under express professorial challenge - duly, rationally and successfully maintaining the integrity of the book of Daniel, inherited revealing spectacles of fury and fabrication instead of logical answer. This evil was later justly to be deplored by a Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, even my reinstatement serving to stress the surging outrage.
In view of such assaults on it, how rock-like once more is the word of God shown to be. Oil of vitriol, indeed rancorous aqua regia is poured on it without effect. It just stays. In fact, Jeremiah 23:29 indeed shows that the word of God will 'BREAK ROCK'. It does.
Is not my word like a fire ? says the Lord; and like a hammer
that breaks the rock in pieces ?
For more on the ludicrous confusion concerning Daniel, by which some have even sought to teach students, in what must be one of the most ambitiously dogmatic pieces of mistaken enterprise in theology since the JW failure in date setting concerning 1914: see Highway of Holiness Ch. 8. Distortion of the word of God reminds one of the Cross of Christ; and this unscholarly misadventure has only one merit, that it is so wrong that it is like a song with a refrain to point out its errors.
See SMR pp. 886-899, Christ the Citadel Ch. 2 .