Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Promise

What may seem like a dry and lifeless biblical prophecy actually thrills the soul. In the heart of the apocalyptic book of Daniel, we read one of the most beautiful predictions and assurances of the Gospel anywhere. “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city,” the angel Gabriel declares to Daniel (9:24), “To finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”

And then, in amazing accuracy, Gabriel pinpoints the exact year that Christ would begin His ministry on earth: “Know . . . that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” Interestingly, there is only one place in all of the Bible that gives any date to anything in Christ’s life, and that is when He is baptized and effectively begins his ministry (see Luke 3:1). And, amazingly, that this date seems to have been in AD 27—some 483 years after the “command” went forth to rebuild Jerusalem.

But then there’s more: Gabriel says that the Messiah would confirm the covenant with His people for one week (seven years), and that in the middle of that week (or three and a half years), he would bring an “end to sacrifice and offering.” And, sure enough, after three and a half years of ministry on earth, Christ brought an end to the sacrifices by sacrificing Himself. And then the veil of the temple was torn in two, showing that the temple sacrifices were no longer valid.

So what’s the point? Isn’t this just an academic exercise?

Well, two things. First, it confirms our belief that the Bible is more than a typical book. Indeed, it is a supernatural book. I have heard of many people who have come to Christ because of fulfilled prophecy—and this prophecy in Daniel 9 is one of the most faith-affirming/confirming prophecies there is. And because it is a supernatural book we can have confidence in it.

Second: it also shows us that Christ and Him crucified is at the very center of prophecy. Indeed, Christ and Him crucified is at the very center of our hope and joy and faith. He is the answer to our problems, fears, and anxieties. This prophecy was given to a bunch of people in exile. And their only hope was the coming Messiah.

So, too, with us.

And maybe we will ponder this more tomorrow!

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