THE DESOLATIONS AND RESTORATION OF JUDAH
The southern kingdom of Judah was invaded by the Babylonians three times. They are known as the desolations of Judah. The first invasion (and captivity) was in 605 BC (2 Kings 24:1-2). The second invasion (and captivity) was in 597 BC (2 Kings 24:10-16). The third and final invasion was in 588 BC (2 Kings 25:1-21) and lasted until 586 BC when most of the children of Israel were carried away into captivity by the Babylonians. The desolations of the Jews and their later regathering and restoration by the LORD lasted for approximately 70 years. Their restoration was connected to the land and their holy temple.
In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, conquered Babylon. In 538 BC he issued a decree that the Jewish people could return to Judah and build a new temple in Jerusalem. This fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah, who named Cyrus as the one who would carry out God’s purpose for Israel, “It is said of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, You shalt be built; and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid” (Isaiah 44:28), and of Jeremiah, who prophesied a return to the Promised Land after 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 2 Chronicles 36:22).
The second temple’s construction began in 536/535 BC. From 605 BC (first desolation) to 535 BC is 70 years. The work on the temple stopped in 530 BC and didn’t resume until 520 BC. From 597 BC (second desolation) to 527 BC (third year of non-work on temple) is 70 years. The temple was finished in 516 BC and its dedication occurred in the same year. From 586 BC (third desolation) to 516 BC is 70 years.
Ezra 6:17 says the descendants of the captivity celebrated the dedication of the second temple by offering 700 animals (one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs) for sacrifices, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. This was the first time in 70 years that sacrifices were made in a temple in Jerusalem. The Feast of Passover was celebrated on Nisan 14, 516 BC, 40 days after the second temple was dedicated, and they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy. The second temple stood for 585 years until it was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, nearly 200 years longer than the first temple.
Regarding the books that David had in his possession, it is clear from Daniel 9:2 that he had Jeremiah’s books in his possession. By his knowledge of the law of Moses (Daniel 9:11-13), I believe he also had a copy of the Torah. As I mentioned before, I think these books were taken from the temple in Jerusalem during the second Babylonian invasion in 597 BC when the temple of the LORD was looted and 10,000 Jews were taken captive, including all the princes and the best of the soldiers. Ezekiel was taken in this invasion as well. Daniel and his three friends had been taken captive previously in the first invasion of 605 BC.
DANIEL’S 69TH WEEK - JESUS’ TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
After Jesus (Messiah the Prince of Daniel 9:25) was rejected as the king of the Jews during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21), he did three prophetic things regarding the nation of Israel: He cleansed the temple. He withered the fig tree (representing Israel). He then told the chief priests and the Pharisees a couple of parables regarding disobedience and wickedness. Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures (quoting Psalm 118:22-23)? The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:42-44). This nation is the “Christian nation,” consisting of both Gentiles and Jews.
Luke’s version of the triumphal entry is slightly different. The crowd shouted out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, Teacher, rebuke Your disciples. But He answered and said to them, I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:37-40).
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44). Evidently, by this statement, the Jews (chief priests and the Pharisees) should have known when their Messiah was scheduled to appear by calculating the 69 sevens of Daniel 9:25. Jesus then confirmed what Daniel had prophesied in vs. 26 regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. For their apostasy regarding the Messiahship of Jesus and their part in his death, the physical kingdom of God (on earth) would be delayed and the curses of Leviticus 26:31-33 would come upon the people of Israel.
After Jesus was resurrected, he appeared to his disciples and came and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-19).
THE NEW COVENANT IS GIVEN TO THE GENTILES
Even after the Jews had witnessed the miracles of Jesus and witnessed his resurrection most of them still did not accept him as their Messiah king. The new covenant that was originally given to Israel was now available to Gentiles as well. All who accepted Jesus for who he said He was (the Son of God) and for what he did (shed his blood and died as the sacrificial Lamb of God) would have their sins forgiven and have eternal life and fellowship with God. All believers would be given the Holy Spirit as a “down payment” for their eternal reward. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon the faithful Church (both Gentiles and Jews) began the spiritual Kingdom of God on the earth. However, the physical Kingdom of God/Jesus will not be realized until Jesus returns the second time as LORD of LORDS and KING of KINGS.
The apostles slowly began to understand the Gentiles were now also beneficiaries of the new covenant. During the Jerusalem Council, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:7-11).
James, then said, “Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written (per Amos 9:11-12): After this, I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things. Known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:14-18).
In Romans 11, Paul writes about how Israel’s rejection is not final. “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” (Romans 11:11-12). “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27).
This prophecy was not fulfilled during Jesus’ first advent. It could have been if the Jews had accepted him as their Messiah King but of course, they didn’t. Daniel’s 70 sevens prophecy is a dual reference prophecy. Just as Zechariah’s prophecy regarding the coming King in chapter 9 is a dual reference prophecy, so is Daniel’s prophecy. Verse 9 in Zechariah 9 prophecies of Jesus’ first advent and is the event mentioned in Daniel 9:25. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:10-17 are prophetic events that will only occur when Jesus establishes His physical millennial kingdom. “His dominion shall be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).
Jesus fulfills the first 69 sevens during his first advent by initiating the new covenant. Then there is a gap of time between the first and second advents (1990 years so far). In this gap of time, the Holy Spirit indwelt Church is representing the Kingdom of God on earth spiritually until Jesus returns. Did you know the phrase “kingdom of God” is mentioned 70 times, only in the New Testament? Coincidence? It’s possible I suppose. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is mentioned 33 times, only in the book of Matthew. Of course, they are referring to the same thing, Jesus’ kingdom on earth. After the Holy Spirit-filled Church is removed by the Rapture, the last seven years of Daniel’s 70 sevens prophecy will finally be fulfilled. After “Jacob’s trouble” (the Tribulation) ends, Jesus will return (second advent) and establish His millennial kingdom of God, completely fulfilling the six objectives for Israel and Jerusalem mentioned in Daniel 9:24.
Only when Jesus is ruling and reigning as king of Israel will all Israel (remnant Messianic Jews) be saved and their sins removed. All twelve tribes of the children of Israel will be represented. Their transgression against God’s word and Jesus’ Messiaship will be eradicated and righteousness will be the result. Iniquity and sin will no longer be prevalent but will be “sealed up.” Israel’s national sin will be firmly restrained, or brought to completion. There will be no need for vision and prophecy as all prophecy will have been fulfilled and Jesus, who knows the end from the beginning, will be ever-present. Ezekiel’s temple will be built and anointed by the High Priest Himself, Jesus Christ.
A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION
God’s original plan for the children of Israel was given to Moses on Mount Sinai when He made his “conditional” covenant (Mosaic) with them. “Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”(Exodus 19:3-6).
Of course, we know how this turned out when they finally entered the Promised Land. The LORD knew the inhabitants of Canaan were too entrenched in their idol-worshipping ways to ever accept Yahweh as God, so Israel was to destroy them and take their land. But after this, Israel was supposed to be an influence for Yahweh and teach His commandments to the surrounding nations. Instead, they disobeyed the LORD and married the heathen women in direct disobedience to the Lord’s commandments. The idol-worshipping women influenced Jewish men to worship their false gods. The twelve tribes of Israel disobeyed God and did not destroy all of the inhabitants of Canaan, and were corrupted by their evil ways, just as Moses predicted.
After Moses, Joshua lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. After Joshua died, they were led by judges for approximately 326 years. Then they had three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon that reigned over all 12 tribes of Israel for a total of 120 years. After King Solomon died, the 12 tribes broke up into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom, Israel, lasted from 930 BC to 722 BC until the Assyrians conquered them. Israel had 20 kings in their 208-year history and they were all evil. The southern kingdom, Judah, lasted from 930 to 586 BC. They had 19 kings and 1 queen in their 344-year history and only about half a dozen of them would be considered “good.” For 820 years, the children of Israel were in the Promised Land (until the final captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC), they didn’t exactly live up to being “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Sheshbazzar led 40,000 Jewish exiles back to their homeland in 537 BC. From this point in time, until the Messiah Jesus came, the Jews were under the control of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. The Jews stayed in the land until AD 135 when Simon ben Kosiba (Bar Kokhba) led an unsuccessful revolt against Rome. He was killed and his troops were completely decimated. The entire population of Judah was deported and replaced with Gentiles. From 537 BC to AD 135 is 671 years. During this time Israel once again did not live up to God’s plan for them to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This could have occurred if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their Messiah king during His first advent, but God, knowing the end from the beginning, had a bigger plan. Not only Israel but all nations and peoples will be represented (by accepting the new covenant) in the Kingdom of God when Jesus Christ returns to establish His theocratic kingdom. The Jews will then, finally, be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to the entire world.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31: 33-34 and Hebrews 8:10-12). “In that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).
So, regarding the basic question we asked in part 1: Did Jesus’ first advent fulfill the six objectives (for the Jewish people and Jerusalem) of Daniel 9:24? I believe Jesus’ first advent began the new covenant which allowed for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and allowed for the remission of sins on a permanent basis. All believers would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is when the spiritual Kingdom of God began, but it did not fulfill all of the objectives of Daniel 9:24. Yes, the first advent provided reconciliation for sin and iniquity but it did not “make an end of sins” as the religious non-Messianic Jews are still observing the Mosaic covenant. They atone for their iniquity by observing the rituals of Yom Kippur every year instead of inviting Jesus Christ into their lives as the Redeemer. The non-Messianic Jews have not finished their transgression of unbelief against Jesus, as it is prevalent. Certainly, everlasting righteousness hasn’t occurred, nor has all vision and prophecy been fulfilled. A third temple in Jerusalem has not been built nor has a high priest anointed it. All of these objectives for the Jews will only be fulfilled after Jesus’ second advent.
THE RESTORATION OF THE MOSAIC COVENANT TO THE START OF THE NEW COVENANT
Although Rodger Young’s reckoning of Artaxerxes’ decree in 458 BC to Jesus’ resurrection in AD 33 is for 490 years, I don’t believe these are the 70 sevens of Daniel’s prophecy. However, I do believe they are consequential as they cover the time from a restoration of the Law of the Mosaic covenant to the beginning of the new covenant. We know from the Bible that 490 is a number that represents spiritual completeness. It is a multiple of 7 (spiritual perfection and finality) and 10 (ordinal completeness). The word ‘seven’ (and its compounds sevens, seventh, sevenfold) is used, by my reckoning, 490 times in the Bible. 490 years would be the equivalent of 10 Jubilee cycles (49 x 10), or (7 x 7 x 10), or (70 x 7). See https://www.raptureready.com/2018/11/09/seven-gods-perfect-numbers-part-3-randy-nettles/ for more information.
The starting point of these 490 years began with Ezra’s return to Jerusalem in 458 BC to “teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” with regard to the Law of Moses (Mosaic covenant) and to install magistrates and judges. They were also to purchase the necessary animals and grain for sacrifices and offerings. In other words, the decree by Artaxerxes was to restore the Mosaic covenant in the newly built second temple. The end date, resurrection day in AD 33, was when the “new covenant” was confirmed after the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ shedding His holy blood on the cross. The end of Jesus’ first advent on the earth was the start of the new covenant. From that point on, the Holy Spirit would indwell the temple (body) of all believers in Jesus Christ.
Mr. Young and I do agree on AD 33 being the year for Christ’s crucifixion. As I mentioned before, the 445/444 BC decree by Artaxerxes is more in line with my reckoning for the terminus a quo “to restore and build Jerusalem” for Daniel’s 70 sevens. I believe the term “Messiah the Prince” is referring to Jesus’ entering the city as prophesied by Zechariah and not when he was baptized. Jesus was cut-off four days later fulfilling Daniel 9:26a. The destruction of the city and sanctuary in vs. 26b is a short-term fulfillment that occurs 37 years later in AD 70. Mr. Young believes vs. 27 is referring to Jesus’ fulfilling the 70th seven with His crucifixion and resurrection in AD 33, thus bringing an end to sacrifice and offering. My belief is that vs. 27 is in reference to the 70th seven that still has not occurred but will be fulfilled by the “prince to come” (of the people that destroyed the temple in AD 70), otherwise known as the Antichrist. He will bring an end to sacrifices and offerings during the middle portion of the last seven years before Jesus returns at the second advent and destroys him and his minions. He will then establish the Kingdom of God and will bring in everlasting righteousness.
ISRAEL AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH
“Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”
“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:21-28).
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. One more time!