LESSON THREE * PART 1
DANIEL'S 490 YEARS
Now get your Bible and let us prove from Scripture just how unique this Book really is, and how miraculous and so interesting to study. We need go go back to Daniel Chapter 9 for a while. It's a portion of Scripture that is almost impossible to exhaust. And if you ever want to be student of prophecy, this is one of the places you have to start. Because this is the foundation of all the rest of end-time events.
Here is the prophecy in time of a 490 year period, in which God is going to bring Israel all the way from their coming out of the Babylonian captivity, to the coming of Christ to the Nation of Israel, as we know happened in the Book of Matthew. But here in Daniel Chapter 9, it is broken down into three distinct areas of time. We will start at verse 25. And this is clear language. Does God want us to be in a fog on these things? No! The command here is to know these things. Not to be waffling, and not to be carried around on every wind of doctrine. But we can study and know.
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince..."
Now watch that word Prince. Notice it is capitalized. So this Prince is the Prince of peace. the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings Remember the Babylonians in 606 B.C. came and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and took the holy things and the people back to Babylon. That was the beginning of the "Times of the Gentiles." We know they were in captivity there for 70 years as prophesied by Jeremiah. I know this is a little review. So 536 B.C. is the end of the 70 years, when Ezra will be the leader of the Jews to come back to Jerusalem not to build the city, but the Temple. They had to have their Temple worship under the system of law given to Moses. Now you notice in verse 25 it does not refer to Ezra's commandment to rebuild the Temple, but it refers to another commandment to rebuild the city and the walls. So now we have another element of time and it's in history. And we find it in Nehemiah Chapter 2. Now this is the commandment that Daniel is referring to in Daniel 9:25. Now here is how chronologers arrive at these various times. Look at what it says:
"And it came to pass in the month Nisan (April), in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king (now archaeologists as well as ancient history, have given us a pretty close date of when the twentieth year of Artaxerxes really was. It was in the area of 454 B.C. So in 454 B.C. is the when Nehemiah Chapter 2 comes on the scene. Now let's read on.), that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king...."
Nehemiah was the king's servant and was still under that 70 years of captivity. By this time, Babylon has fallen, and the Medes and Persians are running the empire. So rather than being in the palace in Babylon, they are at the palace in Shushan on the Tigress River. Now verse 2.
"Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid."
Kings back then didn't have much concern for human rights. Anything could turn them off and they would just say, "Kill him, he is of no use to anyone." So Nehemiah was rightfully fearful.
"And said unto the king, Let the king live forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city (Jerusalem), the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?"
Now that all took place when king Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem back in 606 B.C. So it has been laying waste all these years. So the city in most part was still in shambles.
"Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request?" Nehemiah was a spiritual man, and so even there as he stands before that pagan king, what does he do? He prays silently. And here again comes this whole idea of prayer. Do you have to be some place on your knees in order for God to hear? Why, no! Prayer is something that we can accomplish anywhere and anytime, even as Nehemiah would not have dared to pray out loud before that king. So he prayed silently from the heart. "So I prayed to the God of heaven." As he was praying silently, he speaks to the king:
"And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it."
Come back to Daniel Chapter 9. This is the time factor then. The only reason we are doing this is to show you that all of this took place explicit in a time factor. That is the beauty of prophecy. That God is in such control of the whole business of human history. He can prophecy these things in time and fulfill it in time. So back to verse 25:
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem (Nehemiah Chapter 2) unto the Messiah the Prince (Christ's first coming) shall be seven weeks,"
As I said before, this 490 years is divided into 3 segments. Right here is one of them. And it will be seven weeks. These are sevens of years. So seven weeks of years is how many years? 49. So from 454 B.C. subtracting 49 should leave us at 405 B.C. Now we are down to 405 B.C. Historically, this is the year that Ezra's Temple is finally finished. Now that is over 100 years of rebuilding that Temple. We refer to this Temple as the second Temple. The first one was the one King Solomon built. We American's wouldn't stand still for something that took that long would we? They had been working on the Temple from 536 B.C. till 405 B.C. when the Temple was dedicated. Now that is the seven years of that verse Let's read on), the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."
Now if you will go on and read the Book of Nehemiah, you will notice that as they rebuilt the city wall, and began to construct the gates, there was much opposition from the Arabs at that time (no different than it is today). The Arabs gave these Jews so much trouble trying to keep them from accomplishing what they were trying to do, Nehemiah finally says (I believe it is in Chapter 6) that the workers had to work with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. But they got it done. Now in verse 26:
"After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,..."
Now that is how many? That is another sixty-two weeks, and that is 434 years. So adding that 434 years with the previous 49 years in verse 25, you have 483 years total, and that brings you to 29 A.D., when Christ was crucified. So from the commandment given to Nehemiah to rebuild the city until Christ was crucified was 483 years. Do you see that I'm trying to show how accurate the Scripture is. I always give people leeway. I'm not saying it had to be just exactly so many years. Because a lot of things come into play when you start dealing in chronology. Always remember that a Biblical year is 360 days. In other words 12 thirty-day months. That is real handy except we have a problem and what is it? We have 365 days and a fraction in every year. So what did the Jews do? Every few years they would correct their calendar and make up for those 5 days. We do it with an extra day every so often, and then every 4 years we have a leap year. Now if you will put a pencil to it or calculate it over a period of 483 years those extra 5 plus days can be quite a period of time. So I don't get dogmatic and say this is the exact number. But I think you can see already that Scripture is so close, that over the long haul there is very little difference.
So the prophecy was exact again in this instance. But remember in verse 24, it wasn't 483 years but, instead, 490 years that was prophesied on the Nation of Israel. Now we still lack 7 years for it to be complete and we know now that it must be completed on this side of the Cross. And remember what I have been stressing for the past several lessons. There is nothing in the Old Testament, or even in the Gospels, or even in the early chapters of Acts that indicates there will be 1900 plus years between this and the end of the seven years. Not a hint. So we have to look at it coming out of the Old Testament as they saw it. And that was the 483 years the crucifixion, and then the Tribulation. Now lets read on with verse 26:
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself (Paul tells us He died for us): and the people of the prince (notice it is a small letter "p." So it is not the same prince that is up in verse 25. So who is the small letter prince? The Anti-christ. It's the counterfeit christ that we know is going to come on the scene. As far as I can tell, there is no indication of the man of sin, the Anti-christ, anywhere else in Scripture except here in Daniel. Jesus refers to him in Matthew 24, Paul describes him in II Thessalonians Chapter 2. And other than that we know nothing of the Anti-christ till we get to the Book of Revelation. But Daniel is revealing that this seven-year period is also going to be attended by an individual, a man. A prince that shall come. A lesser than God. Let's read on) that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;..."
We know Babylon destroyed the first Temple. Now what empire was responsible for destroying the second Temple? The Romans. Go back to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. How many empires were there? There were four. The head of gold was Babylon. The chest of silver was the Medes and Persians. The belly of brass was the Greeks. And the legs and feet were the Romans. Also remember on the timeline from 606 B.C. until the Cross, all of these empires had come on the scene and had been replaced by the preceding empire. So remember the Roman Empire was responsible for destroying the second Temple. And this little prince will come from that same empire and become the Anti-christ. So this is where we get the whole concept that the Anti-christ will come from some place out of the geography area of the old Roman Empire.
Now the Old Testament doesn't give us a hint that Rome would fall, disappear and come back. We have to read that between the lines. But when I teach this whole concept that the Roman Empire ended between 300-400 AD and now it is coming on the scene again as the Europe Community over there, we see all the makings of a revived Roman Empire. Even though there have been several hundred years that have passed, how long is that to our God? A snap of the finger. It's just like it never happened. So this is the concept you must look at. The Scripture looks at the whole picture. And the Church Age was placed in there without any mention whatsoever in the Old Testament. And the Old Testament goes right on as if the same empire that destroyed the second Temple is on the scene for the Anti-christ, because a 1000 years with the Lord is like a day. And the same empire that destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem after Christ, is the same empire that is going to bring forth the Anti-christ. But we don't won't to put the cart before the horse; let's keep everything in order.
Now as we come down to the end of verse 26, this prince that shall come out of the Roman Empire (a revived one now), and his appearance until the end of time as we know it, is going to be nothing but trouble. It is going to be war and desolation. Now that is the seven-year period that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24, where there will be a flood of prophets claiming to be the Christ. Then in Matthew 24, He will bring us up to the mid-point of the Tribulation and he will refer to verse 27 of Daniel. In verse 27, Daniel introduces us to the man who will again kick God's time clock into gear. And those seven years will begin to roll.