The Hopeful Process

Introduction: Persevering.

Last week we talked about the pain and suffering we have all noticed in the world. I hope we all can acknowledge that something in our souls cries out, “This is not right!” So, I think the rest of the this text will encourage us to think about what helps us persevere through the pain and suffering of this world. In the midst of pain and suffering we all need something that will help us get out of bed in the morning. We all need something that will help us keep going. We all need a word, a thought, something that will give us HOPE.

 

In the movie Rogue One there is a powerful scene when the rebel alliance learns that the rumors they have heard about a plan for massive destruction are true. The emperor has created a weapon that can destroy entire planets. The discussion on how to respond is random and chaotic. It is one word, one thought, that causes the entire room to pause, to slow down and think, and that word is, “Rebellions are built on HOPE.” I think this is what Daniel 9 has for us today. I would summarize verses 25-27 as this…

 

Theme: There is a hopeful process in the midst of our pain and suffering.

 

1. Establishing A Hopeful Process—Daniel 9.25-26.

We were told last week that the “seventy weeks” in Daniel 9.24 more likely has to do with a series of years instead of a literal seventy weeks. We said this is a literary device used by the author to remind us of concepts we have learned from passages like Leviticus 25.8-17. Now what Daniel 9.25-26 show us is what the process of that seventy weeks will entail. Before we begin looking at this process lets consider a glorious affirmation God gave to Daniel that has now come to us. Daniel 9.25 begins with this phrase, “Know therefore and understand.” God has sent this message to Daniel because God wanted Daniel to know he is greatly loved, God has heard his pleas for mercy, and God wants Daniel know and understand. This message has come to us today for the same reasons. God has heard our pleas for mercy, God wants us to know we are greatly loved, and God wants us to know and understand.

 

Four Stages of the Process

The process will come in four stages. The FIRST stage of the process is through the coming of a “WORD.” So the question becomes, what word? What word went out or is coming out? There are numerous theories on this “word”, but I will give you the one I think is more likely. In order to understand the “word” I think it would be wise to explore what this word will do. From my reading of the text it seems like this “word” will restore and build Jerusalem—God’s holy city. Some people want to take this phrase and view it symbolically. They take this symbolism and think about it as an ultimate declaration. This means they believe this is statement about the restoration and building of God’s final city. While this can make sense because apocalyptic literature is extremely symbolic I do not believe that is what is being communicated here. I think this is about the “word” that went out from God through Cyrus in II Chronicles 36.22-23 and Ezra 1.1-4. When we examine those texts Cyrus says, “The LORD, the God of heaven…has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem.” In fact one scholar has noted that the word for “WORD” is similar to the word in Jeremiah 29 for “RESTORE.” So the first stage of the process is Cyrus rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Cyrus will do this during a troubled is way of saying he will do this in political unrest which we saw was previously prophesied in Daniel 7-8. So “WORD” that goes out is from Cyrus and the “ANOINTED ONE” would also be Cyrus.

 

The SECOND stage of the process is this “anointed one shall be cut off.” This will happen after 62 weeks. So, let’s first note that this is different season of time and not the same time as the process stage of the first part of the process. This could mean the “anointed one” here is not the same as the previous one. One could argue this is a descendent of the previous “anointed one.” That would mean it is the end of that anointed line. Others believe the anointed one being cut off is the murder of a high priest in 175 BC. While there is some truth to some of those, I believe God is significantly moving forward to another major event in history. Most Christians throughout church history have interpreted Daniel 9.26 as the “CHRIST” being cut off.

 

The THIRD stage of the process is found in phrase, “And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and sanctuary shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Most scholars believe this is the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. It would seem Jesus Himself spoke about this in Matthew 24:

 

“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”—Matthew 24.15-16

 

It is not difficult to see Jesus is quoting, possibly even interpreting, Daniel for us here. My one push back on this view is based on Christian tradition we have two significant books that come after 70 AD and they do not mention this at all. The Gospel of John and John’s Revelation are both written after 70 AD, and they do not mention the destruction of the temple at all. This would be extremely significant point for the book of Revelation since it is building on the book of Daniel. It seems likely to me that if this event happened he would have mentioned that. So while I am convinced the “anointed one” in Daniel 9.26 is the Christ I am not sure I agree that the temple’s destruction that is being talked about here is about what happened in 70 AD because Scripture would have told us. Why is the significant to Daniel and his audience? God is telling Daniel a desolator will come, and destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sacrificial system again. As soon as Daniel gets hope about his city being rebuilt and the sacrificial reinstalled he is then immediately told it will be destroyed again. This is God warning Daniel just because those things are reinstituted does not mean the process is complete. Daniel and his family are not to put their hope in the physical Temple and the city of Jerusalem, because something greater is coming.

 

The FINAL stage of the process is found the phrase, “Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war.” The phrase that clues us into this is, “Its end shall come with a flood.” The flood language should remind the reader of Genesis 6-9 in which we saw God purify the earth. Many people think of the flood as a total destruction when it is more about purification. The waters of the flood were about wiping away in the impurities of the earth. The final “flood” will be similar to the first in that it will purify the earth, but it will be different in that it will not be a flood of water but of fire. This fire will destroy many but also purify many:

 

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.—Matthew 13.40-43

 

This is the destruction of those who do not repent—those who will not turn to worship God instead of everything else. But for those who do repent and turn to worship their Creator the fire purifies them:

 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.—I Peter 1.6-7

 

2. Reaffirming The Process—Daniel 9.27.

What Daniel 9.27 does is reestablish the process. I believe we should read Daniel 9.25-26 and Daniel 9.27 as paralleling each other instead of reading them in a linear way. In order to help us all understand this I had the tech team put this on the screen for you:

Conclusion

Why is all of this important to know and understand? Well, because it is helpful to know and understand where we are in the process of God’s grand redemptive plan. There are stages of the process that have happened, but there are others that have not. This is what many theologians have called the theology of already-not yet. Our friendships, marriages, parenting, vocations, recreation, and so much more. There are times when we will see the power of God make significant breakthroughs in these areas, but there will also be times when we see sin and satan significantly damages these areas. So while we will see the kingdom come at times, we have not fully arrived in the kingdom yet. We must not forget we are a work in progress. Instead of fighting and clawing against each other we must not forget we are in the process. But we should also have hope in the process because God has promised, “until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator,” which means there is a decreed end. There will be a time when this will end, but it is not now. I do not know when that end is coming friends, but I do know is we can trust God and His promises. Why? Because of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is all the proof we need that God will accomplish His promises. The resurrection is the proof God has conquered sin, satan, and death. So let me close with this thought from the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:

 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.—I Corinthians 15.56-57