Daniel 036 – God of the Gaps

Dr. Andy Woods | Sep 24, 2017 | Daniel 9:24-27 | Daniel

Andy Woods

God Of The Gaps

9-24-17      Daniel 9:24-27          Lesson 36

Let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9 and verse 24.  I want to thank Gabe Morris for filling in last week.  I trust you enjoyed his teaching on the very important Book of Jude.  Here we are in the Book of Daniel and we find ourselves really in Daniel 9; the year, you might want to keep a mental note of this, I made reference to this before, is 538 B.C.  when Daniel receives this vision that we call the Seventy Weeks Prophecy.   It’s found in Daniel 9:24-27.  It is a prophecy that’s so significant, not only in terms of proving that the Bible is God’s Word but also in terms of giving someone a blueprint for the end times, that I’m walking through this prophecy very, very slowly.  In fact, the bulletin for this morning says Daniel 10 and if you were in a normal well-adjusted church you would be in Daniel 10 by now.  But the reality of the situation is we probably won’t be in Daniel 10 for at least this morning and at least next week because there is so much here for us in terms of guarding our minds against confusion about the end that we need to just take our time and see what the Holy Spirit is revealing.

I’ve taught this prophecy a number of times and the best approach I know, in terms of how to handle it, is to break it down into basically ten parts; each point will build on the prior point.  So these points are logically arranged and if you will mentally track with me through these ten points  you’re going to walk away with a great blessing from God.

Number 1, proof that the Bible is God’s Word beyond any shadow of a doubt.  And number 2,  you’re going to have something that most Christians don’t have, a blueprint for the end times.  There’s a lot of confusions out there about the end times.  For example, did you know that according to some people the rapture was supposed to occur yesterday?  So obviously that would be what?  A false prediction.  And then we had the blood moons theory which told us that the end times was supposed to happen in 2014.  Then there was the Mayan calendar, the rapture was supposed to happen in 2012.  And then there was Harold Camping, he came along and said the rapture is going to happen in 1994 and then he discovered he was wrong so he came out with the sequel, the rapture is going to happen, the end times rather is going to happen in 2011.  And some of my students in 2011 were asking me what do you think about this 2011 view and I said wait here just for a moment, and I went up to my office and got Harold Camping’s book, called the end times in 1994.  So if he’s wrong about 1994 he’s probably going to be wrong about 2011.

And then before that was a man named Edgar Whisenant and he basically said 88 Reasons Why Jesus is Coming Back in 1988.   Then 1988 came and went and he came out with a sequel, surprisingly, 89 Reasons Why Jesus Christ is Coming Back in 1989.   And he sold 4.5 million copies.  And then we hit 1990 he retired to his cabin in the wilderness and we haven’t heard from him since.  And then you go back to 1844, you have the Millerites going out and living in the hillside waiting for Jesus because they were convinced the Bible teaches that the end time is going to take place in 1844.  And on and on we could go with this confusion and speculation and sensationalism.

And the reason people are confused about this is they’ve never really learned the fundamentals. The great coach of the Green Bay Packers, when they lost a game, Lombardi walked into the locker room after a big loss and he held up a football and he said, gentleman, this is a football.  In other words, we’re going to start with the fundamentals.  And the Seventy Weeks Prophecy is just that; it’s the fundamentals.  And if you don’t understand the fundamentals it’s hard to do multiplication and addition and subtraction when you can’t count  yet.  It’s hard to write a sentence or a paragraph when you don’t know the alphabet.  And a lot of people are pontificating about the end times but they’ve never really submitted themselves to learning the fundamentals.  The Seventy Weeks Prophecy is the fundamentals.

So fact number 1, the prophecy concerns the nation of Israel.  Daniel 9:24, Gabriel speaking to Daniel, for “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city…” the whole thing revolves around Israel and the city of Jerusalem; it has nothing to do with the Second Baptist of Houston or First Baptist of Houston, or Thirty-Fifth Baptist of Houston; it’s not a prophecy that pertains to the age of the church that we’re living in now.  The prophecy pertains to the nation of Israel.

Fact number 2, it concerns a stopwatch of 490 years.  Daniel was told that seventy sevens or 490 years are determined.  God, in Daniel 9, gives Daniel a stopwatch and like every good stopwatch it has three buttons on it: a start button, a pause button and a stop button.

That takes us to fact number 3, each year of the prophecy consists of 360 day years.  And I’ve shown you mathematically how that works out. God, when He deals in judgment, whether it be at the beginning of the Bible, through the flood, or the end of the Bible, through the Great Tribulation Period, thinks in 360 day years.

Fact number 4 is when the prophecy finally lapses and all 490  years have taken place what can we expect to happen?  Daniel 9:24 gives us six things; we’ve gone through those six things in detail.  [“to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.”]  But these six things speak of the political and spiritual restoration of the nation of Israel, something that even in our time period hasn’t transpired yet.  Israel has been regathered in unbelief but she has been restored politically but not yet spiritually.  And yet by the time you get to the end of this prophecy you can expect both to have happened, the political restoration of Israel as well as her spiritual restoration.

Fact number 5 is when did this prophecy start to run?  When did the divine finger touch the start button?  And I tried to show you from Daniel 9:25 what I think is the correct date.   It’s “from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”  [Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”]  The moment that decree was entered into, almost a hundred years after Daniel had died, is the moment the divine finger touched the start button and the 490 years began to elapse.  I’ve shown you very carefully that I think that decree is mentioned in Nehemiah 2.  Nehemiah 2 took place in the month of Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, and when you study that out it comes out to March 5, 444BC.

That took us to fact number 6 and this is where we were at last time.  Once the divine finger hits the start button the clock is going to run for 483 years and it will stop exactly on Palm Sunday.  It says this in Daniel 9:25, from that decree until Messiah, the  Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”  which comes out to sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, and how many days per  year?  360, which takes you to a total of 173,880 days.  And I’ve labored to show you that mathematically that is exactly what happened; there is exactly 173,880 days or 483 years, or 69 sevens between Nehemiah 2 and when Jesus showed up on Palm Sunday.  [Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress”]

And it’s interesting that when you study that it makes so much sense of New Testament data and why certain things are happening the way they happened in the New Testament, why Jesus held His generation accountable for knowing the times and the seasons, for example.

And the last time I was with you we finished with this question:  If the first sixty-nine weeks were fulfilled literally, then the remaining week likely will be fulfilled literally.  Why would God change horses in midstream and allow His Word to be fulfilled to the exact day in the first 483 years but just kind leave up to chance the final seven years?  So there are, on this clock, from our perspective in the year 2017 seven years left unfulfilled.

Now this takes us to fact number 7 and this is where we’re going to be spending our time today.  In between the end of the year 483, which happened on Palm Sunday, but before the beginning of year 484, or before the beginning of the final seven years of the prophecy there is a gap of time; the time is not determined.  And that’s why I’ve entitled this message the God of the Gaps.  Unless you under­stand that there’s a gap in between verse 26 of the prophecy and the beginning of verse 27, you don’t really understand what God is doing in the present nor do you really understand what the function is of the church.  So much of the church throughout her history has tried to take Israel’s place and yet a careful study of this prophecy reveals that we are not Israel, we have not taken Israel’s place.  In fact, there are a final seven years left on Israel’s clock and in this great gap of time, which I’m going to try to convince you this morning, is here in this prophecy; God is doing something completely unique in this age called the church age.

So the divine finger touched the start button in Nehemiah 2 and the clock ran to the exact day on Palm Sunday and then the divine finger hit the pause button and for the last 2,000 years that divine finger continues to be on that pause button, waiting for a specific point in time in which the divine finger will hit the start button again and the clock will finally reach its allotted conclusion.  And until that time happens we are living in this age called the gap.

Now here’s another chart that sort of pictures it; the decree, Nehemiah 2, takes you to Palm Sunday, then there’s a pause in the action and God right now is doing something completely different in the age of the church.  And yet we know, and we’ll be studying a little bit this week and mostly next week that there are seven years left.  More on that later.

Now when I talk like this and I talk about a gap of time in this prophecy that could last as much as 2,000 years or more you’re basically scoffed at from all corners.  Theologians, Bible readers, Bible interpreters, simply don’t believe such a gap exists.  Here’s a quote from Steven Walvoord and he writes this:  “Much of the Christian world is now locked in a fierce debate about whether Jesus will return for His church before the seven years (the pre-tribulation view), in the midst of the seven years (the mid-tribulation view), or at the end of the seven years (the post-tribulation view). Yet by far the most explosive question, which few seem to be asking, should be ‘is an in time ‘seven-year period of great tribulation’ really the correct interpretation of Daniel 9:27 in the first place?’ Historically, protestant scholars have not applied Daniel 9:27 to a future period of tribulation at all! Neither have they applied the ‘he’” (the “he” mentioned at the beginning of verse 27) “to the antichrist! Rather, they applied it to Jesus Christ.”  [Steve Wohlberg, Exploding the Israel Deception: A Jewish Believer Exposes False Prophecies About Israel, the Temple, and Armageddon (Roseville, CA: Amazing Facts, 1998), 43]

And what he is saying is ignore this interpretation that there’s a gap or a pause in the action in between verse 26 and verse 27.  He basically is arguing that verse 27 is in the past; there is no future antichrist, there is no future tribulation period, there is no future seven years on Daniel’s clock.  And I want you to believe something at Sugar Land Bible Church, not just because I say it’s true; I want  you to believe something because the evidence points in that direction.  And what I want to briefly share with you this morning are six reasons why indeed this gap of time exists.

So reason number 1 is this: At the conclusion of year 483 but before the beginning of the year 484 two events must take place.  Two events must transpire and when you understand what those two events are  you can very clearly see that there’s got to be some sort of pause in the action, the pause beginning on Palm Sunday.

What’s the first thing that has to happen?  Number 1, the Messiah must be crucified.  Take a look if you could at Daniel 9:26,  it says this, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,” when it talks about the Messiah being cut off it talks about Him coming to the nation of Israel, presenting His Messianic credentials to the nation of Israel and being rejected by that nation; that rejection was ratified ultimately in the crucifixion, happening a short time after Palm Sunday.  And you’ll notice that in verse 25, the verse we covered last time, it refers to Jesus as Messiah the Prince.  Why is He called Messiah the Prince instead of Messiah the King?  He is called Messiah the Prince because He was never received as King by his own nation.  Had the nation of Israel enthroned Christ then He would have been the King.  But right now He is not reigning as King, He is not functioning as King, that role will take place once the final seven  years of the prophecy elapse but right now He is not reigning as King.  He is at the right hand of the Father in heaven, not seated on the earth on David’s throne in regal fashion, an office that He will occupy as King once Israel is in repentance.  Right now He’s at the Father’s right hand functioning as high priest after the order of who?  Melchizedek!

The second thing that has to happen before God can put His finger on the start button is there has to be the holocaust of A.D. 70.  A.D. 70 was a terrible time in history but keep in mind that that event happened almost four decades after Palm Sunday indicating in this prophecy some sort of pause.  Notice, if you will, the rest of verse 26, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,” and then it goes on and it says, “and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”

What is this exactly predicting here?  It’s predicting a terrible event in Jewish history called A.D. 70, when the Romans, about 40 years after the time Christ left the earth, came and destroyed the city and the sanctuary; over a million Hebrews lost their lives in this event.  This is the outworking of the covenant that God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai.  In that covenant there are blessings and cursings, Deuteronomy 28.  The cursings are of a very severe nature.  They outline for Israel the cycles of discipline that she would experience as a result of disobedience to God.  These are cycles of discipline that the nation has experienced many times: 722 B.C. the Assyrians were used by God to discipline Israel.  586 B.C. the Babylonians were used by God to discipline the southern kingdom.  And now here we go again.  As  Yogi Berra said, it’s Déjà vu all over again.  And no here come the Romans, A.D.  70, the outworking of the cycles of discipline.

This is why Jesus acts the way He does and says the things He says on Palm Sunday when He presented His Messianic credentials to the nation.  Notice, if you will, Luke 19:41-44.  It says, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,”  why is He weeping?  Because He knows what Daniel predicted; His rejection and the terrible events 40 years later of A.D.70.  Verse 42, “saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!”  In other words, the kingdom was here and you could have had it.  “But now they have been hidden from your eyes. [43] For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side.”

That is exactly what the Romans did to the Jews in A.D. 70.  We know this from the great first century historian Josephus, they built an embankment around the city of Jerusalem so that you could not escape, you could not get out even if you wanted to.  And verse 44 says, “and they will level you to the ground and your children within you,” Josephus talks about the horrors of this time period when Roman soldiers actually tore open the wombs of pregnant Jewish women and strangled to death the child that was inside of them  Jesus here is giving an eerie description prophetically of that time period.  And then it says this, “and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Daniel here, all the way back in what year is it?  538, is making a reference to the temple that the Romans would destroy.  There are in Jewish history four temples: one past from Daniel’s perspective, three future.  And in this vision he makes reference to all three temples yet future.  The temple he is speaking of here in verse 26 is the second temple which was rebuilt by the returnees and ultimately destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.  Daniel is seeing that second temple coming into existence; he’s seeing it destroyed and he’s seeing it prophetically before it even existed.  The year, as we have said, is 538 B.C.  That temple would not be rebuilt until 515 B.C.

And what did Jesus say?  Not one stone will be left upon another.  And you can go to the city of Jerusalem today and you can go to the temple mount and you can see a pile of rocks where the temple once stood; the rocks not being on top of each other but being disassembled.  Why is that?  Because the temple caught on fire in A.D. 70; the gold, Josephus tells us, melted and oozed down between the bricks and stones of the temple.  And what did the gold do there?  It dried there.  And what did the greedy Roman soldiers do to get their hands on that dry gold?  They disassembled the temple stone by stone, brick by brick, which is exactly what Jesus said would happen.  And that’s why on Palm Sunday Jesus is weeping, because He understands the cycles of discipline and He understands the outworking of Daniel’s prophecies.

If those two events, Messiah’s crucifixion and the A.D. holocaust had to happen before God can restart the prophecies, the latter event happening 40 years after Palm Sunday, there’s got to be some kind of pause in the action.  If this prophecy had just kept on running it would have been fulfilled seven years after Palm Sunday and yet that’s impossible because A.D. 70 has to occur first.

The second reason for the gap is this:  The six prophecies mentioned in Daniel 9:24, if the prophecy had kept running concurrently, would have been fulfilled seven years after Palm Sunday.  Remember fact number four?  Six prophecies will be fulfilled when the clock reaches the end of year 490.  Daniel, in Daniel 9:24 lists those six prophecies.  [Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.”]

We’ve gone through those six prophecies in great detail and you can summarize them as the political and spiritual restoration of the nation of Israel.  Can I ask you a simple question?  Was the nation of Israel politically and spiritually restored seven years after Palm Sunday?  Of course not; even today as we talk, although the Jews have been regathered in unbelief the nation is not in spiritual restoration, she has not been regenerated and so this is further proof that at some point this prophecy was put on hold and continues to be on hold even to the present hour.

The third reason why I believe that there is a gap indicated in this prophecy is Jesus Himself believed the gap was there.  Now would you not agree with me that at the end of the day Jesus is a pretty good person to agree with?  Daniel 9:27 is quoted, by Christ, over in what is called the Olivet Discourse.  I once made the mistake of asking my students why do we call this the Olivet Discourse?  And one student raised their hand and says well, that’s because we get all of it at the same time… and that would be a wrong answer.  We call it the Olivet Discourse because Jesus gave this discourse on the Mount of Olives.  It’s a tremendous treatment, Matthew 24, about the seven year tribulation period.  And right in the midst of this discourse Jesus, the world’s best interpreter of the Bible, says this: “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand).”

What is He quoting here?  He’s quoting from verse 27, the part of the prophecy that we believe is yet future.  And when you study the Olivet Discourse what you’ll discover is Jesus is talking about the end of the age.  For example, in Matthew 24:21-22 He talks about a time of distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now, never to be equaled again.  [Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. [22] Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”]  He’s obviously talking about not Hurricane Harvey, as bad as that was, but a time  of unparalleled distress, the likes of which the world has never seen.

In Matthew 24:29-30 He talks there about His own return, the sign from heaven.  [Matthew 24:29, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  [30]  And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. [31] And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”]

And  my point is simply this: when Jesus alluded to, or when Jesus Himself made reference to the part of the prophecy which hasn’t elapsed yet, the final seven years of the prophecy contained in Daniel 9:27, He took that prophecy and He put it into the distant future.  He never indicated that it was going to be fulfilled in His lifetime. He indicated that it was going to be fulfilled in the events of the great tribulation and the events surrounding His return.  You’ll find the Apostle Paul taking this prophecy and putting it into the future as well in 2 Thessalonians 2.  In the Book of Revelation, chapter 11 it mentions the different halves of the final seven  year period and you’ll notice that they occur when two witnesses show up and perform great signs and wonders, events that have never happened, events that will take place in the distant future.  And so the Book of Revelation, chapter 11 puts this prophecy in the distant future.

You see this gap idea is not something we made up; it’s not something that we invented.  It is something that God incarnate Himself believed in.   And by the way, before I leave Matthew 24 can I bring this little parenthetical insertion to your attention?  When Jesus quotes the seventy weeks prophecy, the last week of it, He makes this statement, or perhaps it was added later by Matthew, we’re not entirely sure, but it says this: “Let the reader understand.”  In other words, God gave the seventy weeks prophecy not to confuse people but He gave that prophecy so that they could understand it.  And I find that very interesting because what people tell us today is the 70 weeks prophecy is so complicated that no one can  understand it.  And  yet what does Jesus say here?  “Let the reader understand.”  It is true that this prophecy is not the easiest part of the Bible to be understood but with a little bit of work and understanding the fundamentals of Bible prophecy I believe any Christian can understand this prophetic truth.

This takes us really to a fourth reason why I am convinced that there is a gap in between verse 26 and verse 27 of Daniel 9.  In other words, the distance between the end of verse 26 and the beginning of verse 27 is a gap of probably 2,000 years or more.  Why am I convinced that this is true?  For a very simple reason; Daniel 9:27, when you understand it and when you read it, has never been fulfilled.  The devil is always in the what?  The details.

What does Daniel 9:27 say?  “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”   This, as I’ll be sharing with you in this series, is a prophecy about the future seven year tribulation period.  It is the part of the prophecy that has not elapsed yet because God has not put His finger back on the start button.

But if you don’t hold to that view what are you stuck with?  You’ve got to find some location for this prophecy in the past.  So people look at this phrase here, “he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week.” He will make a covenant with the Jewish people for seven years in other words.  And people say well, that’s Jesus; Jesus entered into a covenant with the Jewish people back in the first century.  But may I just say to you that that is a wrong interpretation.  What Jesus did, particularly in the Upper Room is refer to covenants that God already made with Israel, whether it be the land covenant, going back to the time of Moses, the Davidic Covenant, going back to the time of David, or the New Covenant going back to the time of Jeremiah.  Jesus never made some kind of new covenant; these covenants have already been made.  He referenced covenants, put it this way, that were already on the books.

But then the verse goes on and it says, “but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;” the person that makes the covenant betrays the covenant, betrays the Jews by telling them that they can’t offer sacrifices any more in their temple.  Can I ask you a basic question?  Did Jesus ever make and break and double-cross in the process a covenant with the Jewish people?  Not only did He not make a covenant with the Jewish people but He never double crossed them and broke the covenant either.

And it’s amazing how suddenly everybody gets real spiritual about their interpretation and they say well, Pastor Woods, Brother Woods, it says He will put a stop to sacrifice and offering and don’t you know in the Book of Hebrews when Jesus died on that cross He put an end to the need for animal sacrifices.  And people become very spiritual at this point in their interpretation.  But let me tell you something; Jesus, when you interpret this literally, never put an end to sacrifice and offering. He did in a spiritual sense according to the Book of Hebrews but not in a literal sense.  How do I know that?  I know that because when Jesus left the earth the temple continued to function with its sacrifices for forty years.  Jesus never put an end to sacrifice and grain offering as is demanded by this prophecy.

And it’s interesting to me that people want to interpret this spiritually or allegorically but they sure don’t do that in Daniel 8.  Daniel 8 makes a prophecy about a man that we have studied, Antiochus Epiphanes, he showed up during the intertestamental time period and it’s a prophecy that he would put an end to sacrifices in the Jewish temple and historically that’s exactly what happened.  It was fulfilled very literally.  And if that is fulfilled very literally in Daniel 8 then I would say what is said here in Daniel 9 will happen very literally as well.  There will come a man on the scene who will make a covenant with the Jewish people, he will break that covenant halfway through the seven year tribulation period by telling the Hebrews or the Jews no more sacrifices in the temple.

My point is simply this folks; even if you’re having a difficulty with some of this detail, Daniel 9:27 has never been fulfilled, if you care about details.  Daniel 9:27 also goes on and it says of this desolater, “a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  What the prophecy says is that the end of the seven year time period, the man who has made the covenant and broken the covenant, the judgment of God is going to be poured out on him.  We clearly see that in prophecies about the destruction of the antichrist, where he is thrown into the Lake of Fire, Revelation 19:20.  [Revelation 19:20, “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”]

He is overthrown by the breath of Christ’s mouth and the spender of His coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.  [2 Thessalonians 2:8, “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.”]  And yet people, when they can’t the prophecy to fit their theory they start to fudge on the detail.  And what they say is well, this prophecy is really about Titus of Rome; Titus of Rome came and he sacked Jerusalem, he destroyed the Jewish temple in A.D. 70 and that’s who this prophecy is talking about.

And let me explain just for a moment why that dog will not hunt.  (That’s a Toussaint-ism, one of my professors, “that dog won’t hunt” in honor of homecoming of a couple of weeks ago.)  Why will that dog not hunt exactly?   This dog will not hunt because when Titus of Rome sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70 the historian, Josephus, tells us that Titus of Rome went back to Rome and lived the rest of his life in prosperity and in imperial splendor.  The end was never poured out on Titus of Rome the way it will be poured out on the antichrist at the end of the tribulation period.  As hard as people try to put this in the past the details of the text simply will not allow it.

This takes us to a fifth reason for a gap here.  The reality of the situation is prophetic gaps are common in Scripture.  And what we like to use to describe this is the two mountains in the distance.  You’re looking at two mountains in the distance many times when you study prophecy.  Many times the mountain that’s furthest away is raised slightly above the mountain that’s nearest to you.  And the only thing you can see is those two mountaintops.  What can you not see?  The valley between the mountains.  And this is what the Holy Spirit has done for us with many, many prophecies; the Holy Spirit has given us these two mountains in the distance but He has not divulged the valley between the mountains.

That’s what I believe is happening here in Daniel 9:26-27.  And if you’re a careful student of God’s Word you’ll pick up on this right away.  For example, at Christmas time you’ll have probably, on your Christmas card, many of these verses.  One of them is Zechariah 9:9, “…your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  Now is that prophecy, Zechariah 9:9 the first coming or second coming.  [Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”]

It’s first coming; you read about it in the Gospels, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey, and we’re comfortable with that.  Well, what about verse 10, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off.  And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”   Is verse 10 talking about the first coming or the second coming?  Quite obviously it’s talking about the second coming.  Well, what about the action and everything that’s supposed to happen between verses 9 and 10?  The Holy Spirit didn’t reveal that.  He didn’t reveal the valley, what He revealed is the two mountains in the distance.  That’s all that’s happening here in Daniel 9:26-27.

How about this prophecy; you all know it well.  Isaiah 9:6-7, it says, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;” now is that the first coming or the second coming?  It’s got to be the first coming or we’re going to ruin a lot of Christmas card businesses out of business, aren’t we?  Well what about the rest of the verse, “And the government will rest on His shoulders; [and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”  Verse 27 goes on and it says, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore….”  Is the rest of the verse about the first coming or the second coming?  It’s talking about the second coming and yet what does the Holy Spirit do?  He gave both of them in a back to back fashion without revealing the great gap between those two events; without revealing the valley between the two mountains.

Notice Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners;  [2] To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”  Great prophecy; have you ever studied how Jesus Himself interpreted this prophecy?

Luke 4:16-21 says this:  “And He” that’s Jesus, “came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. [17] And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,” now this is before there were chapter divisions in the Bible, this is before we had the Ryrie Study Bible, this is before we had Bible tabs and tables of contents, and Jesus knew the prophet Isaiah so well that He could unroll the scroll and point to the exact place that was relevant in His ministry.  And at this point Jesus starts to quote the prophecy from Isaiah that we just read,  [18] “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.   HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,  TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,  [19] TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”’  And then He stops reading.  Verse 20 says, “And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  [21] And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”’

So far so good until you focus on not what Jesus said but what Jesus left out.  He left out a clause; He never quoted this part at the end, “the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.  [Isaiah 61:2]  In other words, Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth quotes Isaiah 61:1, half of verse 2, and then He stops reading.  Now why didn’t Jesus finish the verse?  Because of the principle of the gap; He said “Today the Scripture has been fulfilled in  your hearing.”  He’s only quoting those parts of the verse that deal with His First coming ministry.  He leaves out, by design and by intention and by omission the part of the prophecy that concerns the future.  Jesus interpreted Isaiah according to the principle of the gap and yet when you read Isaiah 61:1-2 at first reading it doesn’t give you any hint that there’s a gap, and yet it’s there.  Two mountains in the distance, not seeing the valley in between!

We’ve run into several gaps in the Book of Daniel.  Remember the giant statue of Daniel 2?  There was a gap in between the ankles and the feet.  The gap is right there in the middle of the verses, Daniel 2:40-41.  If you want a similar gap you’ll find one in Daniel 7:7, right in the middle of the verse.    [Daniel 2:40-41, “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. [41] In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.”  Daniel 7:7, “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”]

It deals with prophecies related to the past and it also deals with prophecies related to the future empire of the antichrist without disclosing the vast time period between these prophetic events.

We’re coming up to a major gap, we may get there before the rapture, I’m hoping we will, right there in between Daniel 11:35 and Daniel 11:36;  right in the middle of the chapter Daniel stops talking about Antiochus of the past and the whole subject matter switches to a future antichrist without giving the reader any hint that there’s a pause or a gap in the action.  [Daniel 11:35, “Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.  [36] Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.”]

Now I want you to put yourself in the position of Isaiah and Daniel, or Ezekiel, or Zechariah, and see how frustrating this is to them.  On one end of the stick the Holy Spirit gives a prophecy about a suffering Messiah and on the other end of the stick the Holy Spirit gives a prophecy about a ruling and reigning Messiah.  Poor Isaiah, and Daniel and Ezekiel and Zechariah are saying Lord, which is it?  But we, through hindsight, which is 20/20, can see that some prophecies relate to the sufferings of Jesus and then other prophecies relate to the ruling and reigning of Jesus in His second coming.  And yet the prophets themselves didn’t see as clearly as we do.

This is why Peter, in 1 Peter 1:10-11 says this: “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, [11] seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”

Poor Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah were confused about their own prophecies because they didn’t understand the principle of the gap that we in the age of the church, in the year 2017, can look back and see was there all along.  So isn’t it interesting that little old me and little old you, just by virtue of the time period that we’re living in, can understand Daniel’s prophecies better than Daniel.  We can understand Isaiah’s prophecies better than Isaiah.  We can understand Zechariah’s prophecies better than Zechariah because we can sort out the mail and say wait a minute, this relates to His first coming, this over here at the end of the age of the church, when the church age is over, relates to the second coming.

My point is simply this; this prophetic gap which everybody  challenges in Daniel 9 is very common elsewhere in the Scripture.  And let me give you, if I could, one more reason for this gap because many people give you the impression that we just made this gap up.  The fact of the matter is some of the earliest church fathers believed that this gap was here.

Here’s a citation from Hippolytus, a church father, who lived at the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, A.D. and he makes a statement very early on in church history about the final week in Daniel’s prophecy and he says this:  “For when threescore and two weeks are fulfilled and Christ has come, the gospel is preached in every place, the times being then accomplished, there will remain only one week.”  Let me read that again.  “…there will remain only one week.”  What week is he talking about?  He’s obviously talking about the final week of years, the seven year tribulation period, spoken of in Daniel 9:27. [Daniel 9:27, “Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]   He says there will remain only one week, the last, in which Elijah will appear and Enoch in the midst of the abomination of desolation will be manifest, and then he begins to talk about the antichrist.

Now I could quibble with him a little bit on this, he’s talking about the two witnesses in Revelation 11; he thinks one is Elisha, the other one is Enoch.  I happen to think that one of them is Elijah and the other one is Moses, but that’s all right, we won’t split hairs on that.  It probably isn’t something to start a new church over.  But notice that Hippolytus took the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy and he himself, going all the way back to the second and the third century A.D. put that prophecy into the distant future, just like Christ did related to the two witnesses in Revelation 11 and the antichrist.

In fact, if you’re a researcher there’s a fascinating article by Louis Knowles called The Interpretation of The Seventy Weeks Prophecy in the Early Church Fathers published in a very Reformed journal, 1945, the Westminster Theological Journal, and they go through church father after church father after church father very early on in church history that took Daniel 9:27 and said no, that verse was not fulfilled seven years after Palm Sunday, it is something yet future.

So you put these six facts together and what you begin to see is you have very solid evidence for the fact that there is a gap of time in between verse 26 and verse 27 of Daniel’s prophecy.  In other words, the prophecy started in Nehemiah 2 and ran to the exact day, Palm Sunday, and then God put His finger on the pause button.  That finger has been on the pause button for 2,000 years; we are still awaiting  the final seven years of the prophecy to elapse.

Why would I foist on you such a crazy interpretation?  Six reasons.  Number 1, there have to be two events between verse 26 and verse 27, the cutting off of the Messiah and the A.D. 70 holocaust.  So there’s got to be some kind of gap in there.  Number 2, if the prophecy had kept running concurrently Israel would be regenerated seven years after Palm Sunday; that never  happened.  It still hasn’t happened.  Number 3, Jesus, the greatest interpreter of the Bible, took Daniel 9:27 and put it into the distant future.  Number 4, Daniel 9:27 has never been fulfilled historically; the only way to make it become some kind of historical fulfillment is to fudge the details.  Number 5, prophetic gaps are common, very common, elsewhere in the Scripture so why wouldn’t it occur here in Daniel 9?  And number six, the earliest church fathers themselves indicated a gap.

Do you want to know what time period you’re living in?  You’re living in a gap!  You’re living in a gap of time when God has put Israel on the shelf, put her under discipline, put her in “time out,” if I can use that vernacular, and we’re living in this gap of time called the age of the church, after Israel has been put under discipline but before God is going to put His hand on Israel again in the future and restore His program and His purposes to her.  Between those two events is a pause, an interlude, a gap of time.  Sometimes that gap of time is referred to as the church age.

Well, in this gap of time what shall we be doing?  We have three basic purposes.  Here they come, from my professor Robert Lightner, more importantly from the Book of Ephesians.  Our purpose is, number one, glorify God, Ephesians 3:21.  [Ephesians 3:21, “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”]  Number two, to edify the saints, hopefully that’s happening through this pulpit ministry and through our various Sunday School classes and so forth.  And then number three, we’re not just to sit, soak and sour, we’re supposed to take the fortification we receive in church, the edification that we receive in church and get out of the four walls and become healthy sheep and guess what healthy sheep do?  They reproduce.

Our calling is global evangelization fulfillment of the great commission.  You can see the Scripture verses where all of those purposes are derived.   We are not the nation of Israel, we have never been the nation of Israel.  God has a past purpose and a future purpose for Israel but we’re living in an interlude between those two things.  We’re living in a gap of time called the age of the church.  It started probably, not probably, definitely in Acts 2.  And as we’ll be studying it will conclude with the rapture.

The church, listen to me very carefully, is not plan B.  Many people criticize our view by saying well, what you’re teaching is God made a mistake, okay, what am I going to do, poor God says, wringing His hands as they’re sweating and perspiring, My chosen people wouldn’t enthrone My Son, I know, as an afterthought I’ll just create the church.  And yet the Book of Ephesians, describing the church, chapter 3, verse 11, clearly says, “This was in accordance with the” what purpose, “eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This gap of time is something that had never been disclosed in the Old Testament prophets but it was something that God always knew, and in fact, planned would happen.  God knew that the clock would stop on Palm Sunday; He knew that the clock would start its final seven years at some future point.  And He also knew what He was going to do in that gap, and so that’s where we come in; this is the age of time that we’re living in and this is so important to understand because if you don’t understand where you came from and you don’t understand where you’re going then you don’t understand your identity in the present.

Now some of you are saying wait a minute, Pastor, let me do some math here; 490 years, 483 years have elapsed, that leaves how many years?  Seven years; seven years are yet future; can you tell me a little something about those seven years.  And the answer is yes, but you have to come back next week to find out about it.

But I trust that you have enjoyed this tour through the seventy weeks prophecy; we’re not done yet, we’re not out of the woods yet, if you don’t mind me using that analogy.  But some of you could be here today and you don’t even know how you fit in because you’re not related to Christ personally.  And the first step in the door is the gospel.  The gospel is called good news because Jesus did all of the work in our place; His sacrificial death, His bodily resurrection from the dead; He suffered and absorbed the wrath of a holy God in His body in our place.  He rose from the dead to indicate exactly who He claimed to be and He leaves us with a simple responsibility to trust, not in what we do for ourselves, not in what man does for us, but we trust exclusively in what Jesus has done.

And the moment the lost sinner exercises faith and places their hope, confidence, trust, and reliance and dependence for the future and for the safekeeping of their soul and for the forgiveness of sins exclusively into this man Jesus Christ is the moment the lost sinner is saved.  And God does this tremendous work where He takes us, at the point of faith and identifies us with His body, the church, and we become part of this great work of God that God has been doing for the last 2,000 years in this gap called grace in this age of the church.

And so some of you, perhaps here or viewing online, listening online, as the Spirit of God convicts you, as the Spirit of God places you under conviction, you have an opportunity, even as I’m speaking, in the quietness of your own mind, in the quietness of your own heart to trust in what Jesus has done.  The Spirit of God has come into the world to convict the world of their need to do this so they could become part of God’s great building project, called the church, in the present age.  You can trust the Lord right now without having to walk an aisle, join a church, give money, make vows.  It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord when  you trust in what He has done.  And if it’s something that you need more explanation about I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray:  Father, we’re grateful for Your truth and Your Word and how it speaks to the past and the future, but more importantly it tells us what we are doing and why we exist in the present.  We have a special place in the outworking of Your purposes.  I pray that Sugar Land Bible Church would press into that purpose and people as individuals would press into that purpose this week.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said…..