This is the 4th installment of our Bible study on the 70 weeks of Daniel. Because this last part was so long, I decided to break it up into two shorter articles instead of one much longer one. However, before we begin this next to final part, let’s take time to do a brief recap of all that we have learned, because all of it is vital to our understanding of end-time prophecy.
The entire scenario of prophetic events is like a giant, cosmic jigsaw puzzle that has hundreds of thousands of intricate pieces, some large and easy to recognize, and some very small with their correct placement within the puzzle not easily discerned. In order to be able to put all of the pieces together in their proper place and time, we must start with a few ground rules of Bible study.
First, we must realize that prophecy runs throughout all of scripture in both Old and New Testaments from the first prophecy given in Genesis 3:15 to the end of the book of Revelation, and all in between. Therefore, we will need to traverse the whole counsel of God – both testaments, realizing that what is concealed within the Old Testament is revealed within the New.
Second, we must make and maintain the clear distinctions of each dispensation and keep clear the distinction between Israel and the Church. We must learn to discern WHO is being addressed in any book or passage (Israel or the Church), and we must determine in what timeframe each book or passage is placed – i.e. WHERE on God’s timeline of history does any book or passage occur? This is what the Bible means by “rightly dividing” the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Each of these prophetic puzzle pieces must be put into their proper places within God’s timeline and must be read and understood within their proper context. The study of God’s plan for the ages spans millennia, divided by God into differing dispensations (differing administrations) along God’s timeline. God’s plan encompasses both history past and history future – history that has been written in advance and recorded in the Bible – the supernaturally authored book given to mankind by God Himself.
This book is comprised of the whole counsel of scripture – the fully complete canon of scripture containing both Testaments, old and new, which make up the Bible. The Bible was penned by 40 different men over a period of 1,600 years, but it is God Himself who is its author. These chosen men, God’s amanuenses, wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
God’s plans encompasses the entire history of the world from creation up until the end of the Millennial Kingdom when Time itself, as a created construct, is abolished and merges into eternity, into what will at the end of the Millennial Age become the eternal “now.”
As we conclude this series, we will be looking at the two entities through whom God has revealed Himself to a lost world:
The first entity is the nation of Israel (ethnic Jews), whose story is recorded in the entirety of the Old Testament from mid Genesis onward up until the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, recorded in the first three gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (The gospel of John was a sort of transition book bridging the gap between the ending of the old covenant and hinting at the coming of the new covenant, with the coming birth of the Church in Acts 2.)
The second entity is the Church – a called-out body of believers made up of BOTH Jews and Gentiles who, upon each individual’s salvation, is born again into ONE new body as believers in Christ. The recounting of the beginning of the Church begins with her birth on Pentecost AFTER Jesus’ death, burial, bodily resurrection and ascension back to Heaven (beginning in Acts chapter 2 and all throughout the New Testament, particularly the books and letters penned by the Apostle Paul, whom God appointed as the “Apostle to the Gentiles.”
We will be looking at the divergent destinies of both of these people groups – national Israel (the Jewish people) and the Church (one new body comprised of BOTH Jews and Gentiles who are believers in Jesus as their Savior, according to the scriptures).
One of these groups is promised an EARTHLY kingdom tied to the LAND promised to them, along with the city of Jerusalem in particular (Israel). The other group is not a nation of this earth, but is an entity promised a heavenly kingdom not of this earth, but rather whose citizenship is in heaven (the Church). They are two very distinct and separate groups.
In the previous 3-part series of our study on Daniel chapter 9, we have seen how God revealed to Daniel incredibly precise and very detailed prophecies concerning the times that He has appointed for the Jewish people (national Israel).
We learned that God has specific plans for the Hebrew people, and that His plans have spanned not just centuries, but millennia.
We learned in Daniel chapter 9 that God appointed 490 years or 70 “weeks” of years to accomplish His plans and purpose for the land of Israel and the Jewish people.
We also learned that 483 of those 490 prophesied years have already passed and have already been fulfilled down to the very day that Jesus presented Himself to Israel as her Messiah whom she, Israel, rejected. (69 “weeks” constitutes 483 years.)
As predicted in Daniel 9:26, the Messiah (Jesus) was indeed “cut off” – killed. This rejection of their Messiah by Israel then STOPPED the further progression of the 70 “weeks” (or heptads – groups of sevens) at 69 “weeks” (483 years), one “week” (7 years) SHORT of the full 70 “weeks” appointed to Israel.
For nearly 2,000 years now after Calvary, we in the Dispensation of Grace have been living in a sort of parenthesis of time called the Church Age. This intermediate dispensation in which we are now living began at Pentecost (recorded in Acts chapter 2). It will end with the removal of the Church in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; Revelation 4:1).
After the removal of the Church from the earth via the rapture, God’s focus will once again return to national Israel in order to complete her final 70th “week” of years that have been placed on hold, as it were, for nearly 2,000 years. With all of this in mind, let us prepare to finish our study.
As stated, after the removal of the Church, God’s focus will again return to Israel in order for God to accomplish these things:
(1) to judge the nation of Israel
(2) to finish their transgressions
(3) to make an end to their sins
(4) to rescue the remaining Jews from certain annihilation from the Antichrist (1/3 of whom God will bring THROUGH The Tribulation (Zechariah 13:8-9)
(5) to save the city of Jerusalem
(6) to bring all remaining Jews (⅓ of all Israel) who will come to believe in their true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the Kingdom that Jesus will inaugurate on a rescued and renovated earth returned to its pre-fall condition.
This 70th “week” will truly be “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” also known in scripture as “The Tribulation,” “The Hour of Temptation (testing),” and “the Day of the Lord.”
(Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Revelation 3:10; 12:13-16).
**Note: This particular series of lessons has focused exclusively on the land of Israel and the Jewish people within the context of Daniel 9. The Jews are the focus of this prophecy. As we have seen, the Church is to be distinguished from Israel. Once the Church is removed, God’s focus will return to Israel. However during this 7-year timeframe, God is going to deal with ALL of sinful humanity as well.
As great as God’s judgment will be during this time, even in the midst of judgment God will still extend, for a time, His great mercy. There will still be opportunities for the lost to come to Christ during the Tribulation, even after the rapture of the Church has taken place. Those who come to Christ during this time will be a great number from every kindred, nation, tribe and tongue.
There will be a great ingathering of souls into Heaven during this last seven years. However, the vast majority of those who will be saved during this time will also be martyred for their faith. These future believers WILL be saved – they WILL be believers in Christ, but they will NOT be part of the Church – the body/Bride of Christ. The Church will already have been in Heaven BEFORE the event of the confirmation of the covenant occurs.
The brokering of this covenant is the event that actually begins the last seven years of The Tribulation.
The ones who will become believers DURING the Tribulation are known as Tribulation Saints, or Tribulation believers. Only a very few (relatively speaking) of these Tribulation Saints will make it through the entire seven years alive. The majority of them will die during this time, with most being martyred because of their new-found faith (Revelation 6:9-11 & 7:9-17).
This is why it is imperative that all who are willing (both Jews and Gentiles) should come to belief in Christ for salvation now, while there is yet time, to become a part of the body of Christ during this current Age of Grace.
In the last installment, part 5 of this study of Daniel chapter 9, we will conclude with a look at what will be the destinies of both the nation of Israel and the Church during this last 7-year period of time under the fallen regime of Lucifer’s (Satan’s) usurpation of this world. In part 5, we will conclude this series by looking into the New Testament book of Matthew 24 where this same 7-year period of time is addressed by Jesus Himself in what is known as the Olivet Discourse, so stay tuned.