Summary: Part 8 in a series on the prophecies found in the book of Daniel. This part discusses the seventy weeks of chapter 9.
The Prophecies of Daniel
Part 8: The Purpose of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9)
We have reached week eight of our study of the prophecies given to the Old Testament prophet, Daniel. We have seen how God predicted the rule of the Gentile powers throughout history and we’ve seen the unveiling of the final world ruler, the Antichrist.
Last week we did an exciting teaching where we narrowed down the area of origin for this evil dictator. I showed you through visions the prophets Daniel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel experienced why I believe the Antichrist will come from the area of modern-day Syria, Lebanon, or northern Iraq. I also explained why I believe there is a very good chance that the Antichrist will come from among the Islamic religion. (If you missed this teaching there are copies of it on the vestibule table. I encourage you to pick one up.)
Today we are turning to chapter nine of the book of Daniel and the fourth vision given to the prophet concerning the Times of the Gentiles. With each successive vision God gives to Daniel He reveals more and more information about this time. While the first three visions we’ve studied have dealt with which Gentile nations are going to hold sway in the Middle East and in what order beginning with Babylon and ending with the second coming of Christ, the vision of chapter nine is going to take a different slant.
The vision of the seventy weeks found here still deals with the Times of the Gentiles like the other three visions did. But instead of looking at what will be happening among the Gentile nations during this time, it’s going to show us what will be occurring among and to the Jewish nation during the Times of the Gentiles.
This week we are going to be laying the groundwork for understanding this revelation. Next week we will get into dividing the seventy weeks up according to Scripture.
I. Daniel’s Confusion
So let’s begin by reading Daniel 9:1-3, “In the first year of Darius, son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom –  in the first year of his reign, I 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.  So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”
Then if we were to read on we would find that Daniel launches into a profound prayer for forgiveness for himself and his people, the Jews. The reason for Daniel’s prayer has to do with his confusion over timing in the visions that he had just received, and the visions that the prophet Jeremiah had received.
You see, Daniel was not only a prophet of God, but a student of prophecy as well. He read and did his best to understand the words of God that were given to other Jewish prophets. In these verses we see that Daniel had been studying the words of the prophet Jeremiah and what had been predicted about the length of the Jewish captivity in Babylon. And he became confused.
Let’s read what he read. Jeremiah 25:11 (NIV), “This whole country [Israel] will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations [Jews] will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV), “This is what the Lord says, ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you [the Jews] and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place [Jerusalem].’”
When God allowed the Jews to be taken captive by Babylon as a punishment for their disobedience, He gave these two prophecies to the exiles through the prophet Jeremiah. As we just read, God promised the Jews seventy years of exile before He would free them to return to their homeland and sacred city.
This is what Daniel was reading about and trying to understand. You see, in Daniel 9:1, it tells us that Daniel was reading these words in the first year of Darius the Mede’s rule over Babylon. The empire of Babylon had just been destroyed and the Medo-Persian Empire had taken over. It’s the first year of their reign, so we can date this chapter to 538 BC.
This is important because Daniel knew that the timing of the Jewish captivity began in 606 BC. That means he and his people were only two years away from completing the seventy years of captivity mentioned in the book of Jeremiah. He was probably excited and looking for the signs of their release.
But Daniel also knew from the visions that had just been recently given to him that the Jews were supposed to experience a prolonged time of dispersion and subjection to Gentile rulers. His visions showed the Jews under submission to four world empires before the restoration of their nation. And he knew that he was only living in the second one of those empires. He didn’t understand how two more empires could come and go within two years.