Three Angels' Messages Part 27

            Welcome back, and thanks for joining us in our study of the Three Angels’ Messages, found in Revelation 14. We’ve been looking at the phrase found in the message of the first angel, “The hour of His judgment has come,” and seeing how the prophecies of Daniel tell us when the critical element of the pre-advent judgment began in heaven.
             Just to review, we need to connect three chapters within the book of Daniel in order to discover the beginning, and therefore, the end of this time period. Daniel 7 gives us a view of this heavenly judgment, but doesn’t tell us when it starts. Daniel 8 gives us a time period, but doesn’t tell us when it begins. Daniel 9 gives us a beginning point, as well as some helpful “markers” to confirm that we’re on the right track.
We’ve seen that there are definite “connecting links” that tie Daniel 8 and 9 together. For example, in his address to Daniel, the angel linked this visit with the former by saying, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplication the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.” Daniel 9:23. There being no intervening vision, Gabriel must be referring to the vision of chapter 8, concerning which Daniel had unresolved issues.
The material presented by the angel appears in a very organized, literary form, with the latter part of verse 24 comprising three couplets discussing goals to be accomplished within the 70 weeks. Then Gabriel subdivides the period of 70 weeks, or 490 literal years, into three parts, with specific fulfillments attached to each segment. There is a period of 7 weeks (49 literal years) followed by another section of 62 weeks (434 literal years) ending with one prophetic week, or seven years, making a total of 490 years. The respective dates attached to these segments, based on the inception date of 457 B.C. are 408 B.C. for the first 7 weeks, 27 A.D. for the 69 weeks, and 34 A.D. for the entire whole of 70 weeks. Gabriel’s explanation is highly poetic, utilizing an “envelope” device, beginning with the restoration of Jerusalem at the beginning of the 70 “weeks” and ending with its destruction after the 490 years. Within the explanatory material there are literary chiasms which must be understood in order to avoid confusion.
            At the conclusion of the first section, the 7 weeks, the rebuilding process would be finished. “Know therefore and understand, 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; The street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublesome times.” Daniel 9:25. As before mentioned, the wall-building project under the able leadership of Nehemiah was completed well within the allotted time, as the seven “weeks” or 49 literal years would reach to 408 B.C.
             At the conclusion of the 69 weeks (7 weeks plus 62 weeks), “Messiah the Prince” would appear, an obvious reference to Jesus the Christ. The word “messiah” comes from the Hebrew word signifying “anointed one,” and designates those who were commissioned for work, including prophets, priests and kings. Jesus is the consummate expression of all three of those offices. The Greek word for “anointed one” is the root for the word “Christ;” therefore to say “Jesus Christ” is to say “Jesus the anointed One,” or “Jesus the Messiah.”
            It’s important to note that anointing was done as a person was about to begin their work. Thus the date mentioned by Gabriel on this prophetic calendar refers not to the birth of Jesus, but to the beginning of His ministry, when He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Right on schedule, in the “fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1), Jesus was baptized by John in the year A.D. 27. (Note that when chronologists originally plotted the B.C./A.D. time-line, they failed to insert a “zero” year. They went from 1 B.C. directly to 1 A.D. Therefore one more year must be added to make up for the error, and so the 69 weeks, or 483 years brings us from 457 B.C. to 27 A.D., and not 26 A.D.) When He was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove, signifying His being anointed for His task. Matthew 3:16. Peter referred to this in his sermon to Cornelius saying, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, Who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:38.
            In Nazareth as He started His work, Jesus quoted from Isaiah’s prophecy, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Isaiah 61:1. After reading from the scroll, Jesus said to the astonished audience, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21. Remember, the anointing of Christ signaled the beginning of His work in A.D. 27, not His birth. This occurred right on schedule, in perfect timing with the prophetic clock.
            “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” In the poetry structure employed (ABab), the explanation toggles between focusing on different subjects. Two examples are found in verses 24-27. There is a one represented in verse 25 and the first part of verse 26, and one that is in verse 26 together with verse 27. The first part of verse 26, “After sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself,” comprises the final part of the first set as well as the first part of the second one.
            We see this format followed in the presentation of the time of the 7 weeks (A) then the time of the 62 weeks (B), which in turn is followed by the explanation of what happens at the conclusion of the 7 weeks (a), and then what happens after the conclusion of the 62 weeks (b). That analysis explains the order in which things are set forth in verse 25 and the first part of 26. Perfect harmony is exhibited when it is seen this way.
            Notice how this same formulation is employed in verses 26 and 27, in which the mission and purpose of Messiah the Prince, Jesus Christ, is contrasted with the “prince of the people,” that is, the Roman leader who destroyed Jerusalem because of their failure to live up to the Covenant obligations. In each verse, the first part refers to Messiah the Prince, and the second part of each verse refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies after the conclusion of the 490 years.  In the middle of that last week He, the Messiah, would be “cut off, but for Himself.”
            This language unmistakably points to the atonement made by Jesus on the cross of Calvary, which took place 3 ½ years after He began His ministry. It was not for His sins that He died, but for ours. Thus He was “cut off, but not for Himself.” By the way, the term “cut off” signifies much more than merely dying. In the language of the Old Testament this verb meant to be “disinherited, disenfranchised, abandoned and rejected.” All of these things Jesus experienced as He died for our sins, and cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46. Since these 70 weeks pertained to the Jewish people in a special way, at the close of the 70 week period, the probation of the Jewish nation would come to a close.
            All of this is important because the historical events which terminate each section are things that take place on earth and can be seen. They are open and visible. These will provide helpful way-markers to foster confidence that the prophecy in its entirety is trustworthy, because the event at the conclusion of the larger 2300 year prophecy has to do with something that does not take place on earth but in heaven, and therefore is not seen by man. The first angel cries out, “The hour of His judgment has come.” Since this event, portrayed by Daniel, takes place in heaven and is unseen by human eye, how are we to know that it has commenced? The accurate fulfillments of the events foretold within the three segments will confirm the veracity of the larger vision and the event toward which it points, though it is invisible to us. “By the mouth two or three witnesses, every word shall be established.” II Corinthians 13:1.
            One of the specified purposes of this shorter 490 year period was to “seal up vision and prophecy.” The force of the verb “seal up” means to “confirm or authenticate.” Graciously, God provided visible evidence which can be measured, to testify to the truth of the event foretold by the larger vision which takes place in heaven, the beginning of the cleansing of the sanctuary. The completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the appearance of the Messiah and His sacrificial death and the close of the 490 years leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 are all events which can be verified by history, giving us confidence that the event at the terminus of the larger 2300 year period likewise met its fulfillment, though unseen by man.
            Putting all this together, we can know for certainty that one of the last things on God’s great timetable, the investigative judgment, began in the year 1844. The good news for us that Christ is our Advocate, and defends our case in this heavenly judgment. He has never lost a case! His atonement is perfect; His mediation is flawless, and His success is assured. Therefore, having accepted His gracious gift of salvation, we can be free of guilt and fear, knowing that we are safely protected in the powerful and loving arms of Jesus Christ!