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Sunday, July 28, 2019

posted Jul 28, 2019, 6:38 PM by Site Administrator

TO FINISH TRANSGRESSION, TO PUT AN END TO SIN, TO BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Daniel 9:1-27

Key Verse 9:24

 

Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 

 

First, “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive!” (1-19). Look at verses 1 and 2. In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), that was 539 B.C., Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. What great revelation it was! The captivity would last seventy years, and the collapse of the Babylonian Empire was the sign that the seventy years were soon going to be over. Now they would return to their homeland. It was an amazing moment for Daniel. At the same time, it was God’s confirmation that He was not angry with the Israel people forever, even though he punished them for their sins; it was God’s confirmation that God’s plan for them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation had not changed; instead, he was refining them so that He could work with them for his glorious purpose continually. It was God’s revelation given to Daniel through the Scriptures. Strengthened by this revelation, he turned to God and started his prayer struggle for His love and forgiveness decisively. 

 

Look at verses 3 and 4. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands.” 

 

 In his prayer, he calls God, “the great and awesome God.” In what sense did Daniel call God, the great and awesome God? He says, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands.” God is the great and awesome God because He keeps his covenant. It is really amazing that even though God is the Almighty and even though he is the Sovereign Lord, meaning that He has perfect freedom to do whatever he wants, he binds and limits Himself to the terms and conditions of the covenant he makes with his people and does everything according to its terms and conditions. Simply, with this covenant, the Almighty Creator God comes to have the code of conduct, limiting his power and freedom completely. For this, our God is the great and awesome God. 

 

It is really amazing that God offers his covenant to us; he is willing to bind himself to the terms and conditions of the covenant and limit His freedom and power. Usually, we humans are very hesitant to accept his covenant, for the fear of losing too much of our own human freedom and human rights. We calculate so much, measuring all the cons and pros; but actually, what can we possibly lose when we jump into a binding contract with God? Surely, nothing, because we are nothing and there is nothing we do well, except sinning; what we have produced in the world are sins, wickedness, destruction, shame and misery. Actually, it is God who should be hesitant to offer his covenant to us, because he will be bound and limited to the terms and conditions of his covenant with us. But He offers us his covenant, willing to restrict and limit His freedom and power as the Almighty God; our God is great and awesome. In our terms, our God is the Bomb; he is cool; it is really cool to have a binding contract with God who is cool.  

 

The other reason why he is the great and awesome God is because he is the God of love. In verse 4, Daniel describes God’s covenant as “the covenant of love.” Many people consider God’s covenant, or simply God’s calling “a restriction of their human freedom.” During the time of Malachi the prophet, Israel people felt exactly that same way, saying, “It is futile to serve God.”(Mal 3:14) They felt really tedious about all the rules and regulations; they felt restricted of their human freedom. They felt confined; it was an insult at God. So, God rebuked them about it, saying, “You have said harsh things against me.” At this, those who feared the Lord, realized what sin they had committed against God; they talked with each other in repentance. Then, Malachi 3:16 reads: “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”  

 

In Daniel’s eyes, God’s covenant was the covenant of love; God’s covenant is an expression of his love for us, and its terms and conditions reflect His love for us very well; the terms and conditions of God’s covenant enable us to express our love for Him. What did God want his covenant people to do by giving them so many laws and regulations, 613 laws? God says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut 6:5) Actually, the real author of this book was God. So, he was like saying to all his people, “Love me with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” We feel really shy to say to anyone, “Love me,” even between husband and wife, even though that's what exactly we want. But God openly and publicly shouts to all his covenant people to love him. Then, in the New Testament, our God Jesus shouts loud and clear, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Our God is indeed shockingly romantic and powerfully romantic. 

 

All the terms and conditions of God's covenant, the requirements of God's covenant are there to help us love God with all our heart, soul and strength. Let’s just check out some of them. “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.” “Circumcise your human desire.” “Send off Ishmael.” “Sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering to me.” In the New Testament, God came to the world in a human form, and made his point utmost clear, saying, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:37,38) “Go, sell everything you have, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me.” “Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” All these terms and conditions of God’s covenant show God’s burning passion for us to be in the hot and passionate love relationship with Him. God’s covenant is the covenant of love.  

 

Daniel says that God keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands. This expression defines who are God’s covenant people. God’s covenant people are those who love God and thereby keep his commands. Only those who love God obey God’s commands; they are the ones who live according to God’s will and purpose. Loving God by obeying his commands, by living according to His will and purpose is not easy; often, we have to deny our own desires and dreams; often, we have deep sorrows to let go of our dreams or to be misunderstood by our own beloved family whom we love. But we bear all such difficulties and obey God’s commands because we love Him more than all other things. In Daniel’s eyes, such people are God’s covenant people. That was Daniel’s understanding of God’s covenant people in the Old Testament. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (Jn 14:15) “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (Jn 14:21) He also says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching... He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (Jn 14:23,24) The Old Testament and the New Testament say the same thing. Live as God’s covenant people by loving God and thereby, obeying His commands.  

 

In verses 7 through 14, Daniel talks about God’s characters that were revealed in dealing with the Israel’s people. In verse 7, Daniel says, “Lord, you are righteous. And in verse 14, he says, “The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.” Daniel’s point was: Our God is righteous, yet, we have not obeyed him, and as a result, God did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us. We must remember that our God is righteous, and in view of his righteous character, we must do what is right before him. So comes the Christian’s good life. But so many people have ignored this, and did whatever they wanted, and as a result, their lives have been destroyed, and there are pains and sorrows, misery and emptiness, and they cry on people’s shoulders, saying, “I don’t know why my life is so hard like this.” Our God is righteous, so do what is right, and certainly, you will be accepted.

 

In verse 9, Daniel says, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving.” Israel was destroyed and so many people were killed, and the survivors were taken to captivity in Babylon, all because of their sins. Yet, in such a terrible judgment, in such a great tragedy and misery, Daniel saw God’s merciful and forgiving character. He found that God had not dealt with them according to their deeds, but according to God’s mercy for them. Our God is merciful and forgiving – this is his character or his nature that naturally, He has a tendency of being merciful and forgiving; that’s why he has not dealt with us according to our sins, but according to his great mercy; that’s why whenever we come to Him in repentance, even at the slightest hint of repentance, God is willing to forgive our sins, forget about our wrongdoings and pours out his love on us. Today, let’s remember that our God is righteous, and thereby, struggle to do what is right. Today, let’s remember that our God is merciful and forgiving, therefore, there is hope for everyone, even the worst sinner in the world. 

 

Verses 17 through 19 are Daniel’s request. Here, he pours out his anguished heart for Jerusalem, the temple and his people Israel. You may have some serious prayer topics. With the same anguished heart for ourselves and for those whom we care, let’s read these verses together: 

 

"Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name."

 

Second, “To finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness” (20-27). Look at verses 20 through 23. While Daniel was still praying, Gabriel, the man Daniel had seen in the earlier vision, came to him in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice, and said to him, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:” It seemed that Daniel had been praying for all day long, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes. And for the whole day, there was no response yet; it seemed that no answer was coming; but that's not the case; even if no response appeared yet, actually, the answer was given, as soon as he began to pray. Just it took some time for the answer to be delivered to him. Often, we are discouraged because it seems that our prayers are not heard for there is no visible change of the situation; but that's not the case. In most cases, our prayers are answered already, but it takes time until God's answers to our prayers appear to us or delivered to us. It is shipped, but the delivery date is some days later. Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:24)

 

What was God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer? Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together:

24“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 

 

Daniel’s prayer topic was for the forgiveness of the sin of his people Israel and that God might restore them quickly. But the answer God brought was far bigger than that; God would not just forgive their sins one more time, but God was planning to finish mankind’s sin problem once for all; God showed him that he was secretly planning to put an end to the human sin problem. Our God is an awesome God who does far more than we imagine or pray for. When God puts an end to sin once for all, then, no more sin problem will bother mankind, and no more wickedness will be found among people, and all people will live in everlasting righteousness – then, there will be no more sacrifice, or no more heart-aching, no more mourning or no more regret; instead, we will live in the bright light of God. This was God’s secret plan of completing his redemption work, and because of Daniel’s earnest prayer, God decided to share this secret plan with him. When Daniel sought God sincerely, and prayed wholeheartedly, God accepted him as his coworker and revealed his plan to him. Indeed, Daniel was esteemed highly. Surely, God honors those who honor him.

 

“Seventy “sevens” were decreed.” Here, “sevens” originally meant “a week,” because one week had seven days, then, when it was extended to a bigger concept, it became “seven years.” It does not mean that seventy “sevens” refer to 490 years, but seventy seven year units. With these seventy units of seven years, God was going to operate the world history and complete his world redemption plan, finishing transgression, putting an end to sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness. Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 

 

The starting point of this entire seventy “sevens” was the time when a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was issued. Among 39 books of the Old Testament, the book of Ezra talks about rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem after Cyrus the king of Persia issued a decree in 538 B.C., for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. At his decree, 42,360 Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple by 516 B.C. In the year 586 B.C., the temple was destroyed, and it was rebuilt in 516 B.C, thus fulfilling God’s prophecy of 70 years’ Babylonian exile through the prophet Jeremiah. But the starting point of seventy “sevens” was not the decree to rebuild the temple, but Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem. The book of Nehemiah talks about this. Nehemiah 2:1 specifies the month and the year when the decree was issued, saying, “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C).” The twentieth year of King Artaxerxes was 444 B.C. So, this year was the starting point of seventy “sevens.”

 

God divides seventy “seven year periods” into three parts – seven “sevens” and sixty two “sevens,” and one “sevens.” So, the first segment of time was seven “sevens,” 49 years, starting from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, 444 B.C., to 395 B.C. This was the time when the returned Jews rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. And with thanks and joy, remembering God’s grace of bringing them back to Jerusalem, they loved God and served Him wholeheartedly. It was a new beginning with a new heart’s dedication to God

 

Then, the second sixty two “sevens” (434 years) began, starting from 395 B.C., and coming to the year 39 A.D. When we use Babylonian Lunar calendar, 360 days as a year, then, it becomes about 32 or 33 A.D. What God showed Daniel in 539 B.C., was that around 30 to 40 A.D, the Christ, the Anointed One would be cut off to fulfill his perfect redemption plan, to finish transgression, and to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, and to bring in everlasting righteousness; it was the climax of God’s redemption history. The passage says that during this period of sixty two “sevens,” Jerusalem would expand with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. This time covers the period between Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament and Matthew’s gospel, the first book of the New Testament. It is called, “the inter-testamental period.” During this long period of time, the Jews were under many Empires - the Persians, Greeks, Syrians, and Romans, and while the world history was fluctuating around Israel, while powerful empires rose and waned, this small country Israel maneuvered – it must have been very difficult time for Israel; indeed, it was times of trouble. During this time, there was no monarchy, no king; instead, the high priest had judicial power, and he was the governor in that area – the position of worldly political power and divine religious power combined. Soon, it was a corrupt position. When Antiochus IV Epiphanes became king of the Seleucid Empire in 175 B.C., Jason, one of the priests, who was pro-Greek, went to him and purchased the position with money, and with a promise to pay him continually. Then, two years later, he sent his officer, Menelaus to Antiochus to pay money; but Menelaus took an opportunity; he outbid Jason, offering more money to Antiochus for the license to be the high priest. Antiochus accepted this offer, proclaiming him as the high priest; by the way, Menelaus was not a descendant of Aaron, but a Benjamite. In this way, priesthood was corrupt, and these worldly minded priests occupied all high and important positions in Israel; they were rich; and these priests became the Sadducees, denying all spiritual things such the kingdom of heaven, angels, resurrection and eternal life. When the mainstream temple worship was so corrupt like this, some people pursued a devout life by themselves; among them were the Pharisees who struggled to live a righteous life by keeping the laws absolutely; there were also some people who left the mundane world and lived in the caves around the Dead Sea; there, they dedicated themselves to copying the Bible, reading spiritual books such as Apocrypha, praying and fasting – they were the Essenes. Also, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the temple and stopped the temple worship service,  the priestly family of Mattathias started the resistance movement in Israel – they were called “Maccabbes,” which means, “hammer” the nick name given to Mattathias’ son, Judah – Judah Maccabee, and eventually, they overthrew the Syrian rule, and rededicated the temple to God; thus, the Jewish Feast of Dedication, Hanukah began, and also, the Hasmonean Dynasty in Israel (140-37 B.C.) They were of the Levites, not of David. Then, after the Hasmonean Dynasty came the Herod’s dynasty (37 B.C-92 A.D). Herod was not even a Jew, but an Idumean. In order to justify his kingship in Israel, Herod married a descendant of the Hasmonean Dynasty, Miriamne, and had the only heir of the Hasmonean Dynasty drowned in his palace. During this period of time, the cultures, lifestyles and political environment that we see in the gospels were being developed. When the Anointed One Jesus Christ came to Israel, he quickly gained great popularity and was recognized as a devout servant of God. Then, those long time established leaders – the Pharisees, the Sadduccees, and the Herodians felt threatened; they hated him and challenged him with many questions, and eventually they killed him; thus, the Anointed one was cut off in Israel, and God’s prophecy was fulfilled. This sixty two “sevens” were the time of preparation for the Messiah to come and do God’s work and be crucified on the cross to pay the price of sins as an atoning sacrifice so that God’s eternal righteousness could be brought into the human world. It was the preparation time for the Messiah's coming and death.

 

 Look at verse 26b. Gabriel said to Daniel, “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Within one generation after the Messiah was cut off, Roman general Titus came with the Roman soldiers and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. Daniel was so concerned about Jerusalem and the temple being rebuilt; he thought that in that way, God’s name would be honored. But God’s message showed him that ultimately, God’s redemption plan was not about a certain city like Jerusalem or a gorgeous building like the temple; God’s redemption plan was not limited by such things; even though they would be destroyed, God’s redemption plan would continue, but not through the Jews, but through the Gentiles. It would be the time of the Gentiles when God’s grace was given to the non-Jewish people and they would serve God’s salvation work to the ends of the earth. But while God’s salvation work goes on through the Gentiles, how would the world go? Gabriel says, “The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” It is really shocking that God describes about 2000 years’ world history from the Christ until now as the continuation of wars. I checked out the number of wars since 1 A.D., and considering the First World War or the Second World War as just one war, and counting only big ones, there have been more than 1,200 wars listed in the Wikipedia. Actually, this number is way too small; one country, which I know, alone, had more than 500 wars in her history, but in this list, only a few of them were counted. When we think about how God sees the world history, we can really see that surely the history is about the wars – with wars, things change and develop, and the history advances. What a terrible world we live; we are living in a war zone; surely, it is not a place for us to settle down and try to enjoy an easy life; you don’t want to build your home in a war zone. God’s view of the world shows that this world is not our home; our true hope is in the kingdom of heaven, and we are waiting for it anxiously. 

 

Now seven “sevens” and sixty two “sevens” in total sixty nine “sevens” were over with the death of Jesus, the Anointed One, and we are living in the time waiting for the last one “seven.” When will be the last one seven? Look at verse 27. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Here, “He” refers to the Antichrist, and the final one seven refers to the seven years’ covenant the Antichrist and the Jews will have, and with this final seven, God’s redemption plan to finish transgression, to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness for all those who believe in Jesus will be completed. So, some day, when you see on the news that a political leader has an agreement with the Jews for seven years’ covenant or cooperation, know that he is the Antichrist, and that the end has come very near; when you see that news, wake up, prepare yourself for the coming of Jesus Christ in glory; your salvation is near. Then, during the second half of the covenant for three and a half years, the Antichrist will change his mind and start persecuting the Jews. At that time, those who are in Judea, should not think about the temple, but flee to the mountains, to the places God has prepared for them. And if anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go; if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This requires patient endurance on the part of the saints. Many will give up their faith to secure their life on earth a little longer. Also, many people will be purified through this persecution and prove themselves faithful. Those who stand firm to the end will be saved. 

 

We are very thankful for God who planned the perfect redemption for all people and proceeded it until now. We are enjoying the benefits of God’s hard work – Jesus Christ is the Anointed One who was cut off to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness; he offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for sinners like you and me so that even wicked people may be forgiven of their sins and acquire everlasting righteousness; we are indeed eternally grateful to God who planned and proceeded it; we are thankful to our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One who offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for us. Because of him, we are here today, enjoying this new life and struggling to do something great for God. Also when we think about God’s plan of completing his redemption work with seventy “sevens,” we can see that it is really the last days; we are just waiting for the last and final one seven to occur and be completed. It is the time for us to wake up from all our spiritual slumber and participate in God’s redemption work wholeheartedly on our campuses. 

 

One Word:The Anointed One Was Cut Off To Bring In Everlasting Righteousness

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