Daniel 9:25? Oh, what cans of worms are opened! And each worm in each can is defended and promoted with a passion. In the end, they show us the futility of having a faith that relies on dates and on chronologies.
In the context of this passage, Daniel’s obsession is with the current state of his beloved temple in Jerusalem. He has been studying some manner of writing from Jeremiah, and in doing so, Daniel recognises that with the downfall of Babylon, God’s declaration regarding her 70 years of domination has come to an end. But nothing has happened in regards to the people returning or the temple being restored. Then he recognises that the promised return is contingent on the nation’s confession of its sin.
In the response to his confessional prayer, Daniel is told that these 70 years are to be multiplied. Although the people were now permitted to return, based on Daniel’s confession, God is still not satisfied with the nation as a whole. This is a message of despair for him and for the nation.
God gives them one more opportunity to mend their ways. (“To finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” [NIV])
Now to the “worms” I mentioned, with each one having its passionate proponent. If only life were simple! These are not in any particular order.
When was the book of Daniel written? Was it a product of the 2nd century BCE, following the supposed fulfilment of this prophecy?
Which “decree” is intended? Was it an utterance of Jeremiah, the edict by Cyrus or that of a later King?
If a future king is intended, which one?
Did the “decree/utterance” relate to the temple or to Jerusalem?
Why are the “seven ‘sevens’” and “sixty-two ‘sevens’” periods separated?
How do we reconcile the chronological relationship between Ezra and Nehemiah?
In which year did Ezra return to Jerusalem? (Differences in several decades are held by various proponents.)
Was Ezra a real person or a fictitious creation?
How can we know what was originally written or intended, given the impacts of subsequent redactors, each with their own – and as yet unknown – immediate agenda?
I am certain others can think of other issues that surround these verses.
We do not possess sufficient evidence that provides absolute objective proof.
As I said, this shows the futility of having a faith that relies on dates and on chronologies. It shows the futility of having a faith that relies on speculations regarding symbolisms in passages as in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation and the like.
Why don’t people want the simple faith in Christ as declared by the Apostle Paul? People look for secret messages, hidden meanings, and dates. Such is futility.
----------------------- While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill — while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.
He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.(Daniel 9:20-27, NIV)