God is Judge Chapter 18

God is Judge

Chapter 18

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

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The Final Seven

 

Although the proposed hypothesis regards the simplest form of the chronology in Dan.9:24-27 as a periodization of heptads (with any further structuring being secondary), it is clear that the prophecy does delineate a final seven years. Therefore the prophecy consists of “Seventy Sevens” (70 x 7 years) with significant events occurring at many of the seventieth “Jubilees” culminating in a final “week” (unit of seven) or seven year period.  The final “week” is divided in half, with Daniel placing particular emphasis on a 1,260 day period (3½ years) at the very end (cf. Dan 12:7).  The NKJV renders the text as follows:

 

Daniel 9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

 

Daniel 9:27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.

 

The following alternative has already been suggested for 26a (see previous for footnotes):

 

26a) MT: And after {62} sevens an/the anointed will be cut off Th: even though there is no judgment against him.

 

The reading offered here speaks of the abrupt removal of the anointed after an indeterminate period of sevens – the cutting off was groundless, for, “there is nothing against him judicially” (Porteous). The problem that exercises interpreters is whether to regard the    Continued  ˃

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anointed in v. 26a as the same anointed as v. 25a. It has already been noted in a previous discussion that  whereas the MT discourages a single Messianic interpretation the Th, on the other hand, encourages interpreters to assume a single block of time and that vv. 25 and 26 referred to the same anointed one (the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac text and the other Greek versions follow the same route).  To add to the problem it should be noted that the text is deliberately allusive – is it an anointed or, a anointed, or the anointed, or the anointing (OG), or Christ (Vulgate)?  Arguments have been put forward for each of these choices.  Although Goldingay (1989:262) notes that nouns in Daniel are commonly anarthrous[1] Collins (1993:346) opts for “the anointed one” in his translation.

 

The text is deliberately allusive and interpreters should respect the ambiguity[2] as this divinely created “space” allows the prophecy flexibility – a “multivalency” that permits multiple applications; to the return under “an anointed” (Joshua) to the removal of “a anointed” (Onias) during the Antiochene crisis, but also to the trial, conviction and “cutting off” of the anointed one (Christ) after an indeterminate period of “sevens”.  The rejection of each anointed priest reaches a divinely ordained climax in the rejection of the Messiah (Greek Christ=anointed).

 

It is however, a mistake to regard the prophecy as having the crucifixion as focal point (as all important as that event is) – for the focus is the Sanctuary.  Jesus Christ and his saints form the new    Continued  ˃

 

[1] Goldingay gives the following examples: a vision, a prophet, a most sacred place [v. 24]; a word, an anointed, a leader, a square, a moat [v.25]; an anointed, a leader, a people [v. 26]; a covenant, a wing, an abomination, a conclusion, a desolate one [v.27]

[2] Goldingay (1993:267-8) observes that, “the passage [Dan. 9:24-27] refers to the Antiochene crisis. Yet its allusiveness justifies reapplication of the passage…..There is another aspect to the significance of Gabriel’s allusiveness. It accompanies an inclination to speak in the words of Scripture reapplied. Daniel is doing with Isaiah what subsequent exegetes do with Daniel”.

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temple. Therefore, this interpretation follows the lead offered by Christ himself, who regarded Daniel as referring to the desolation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. In this context the cessation of the sacrificial system (Dan. 9:27) refers to the cataclysmic events that ended the dispensation of the Law – the removal of the Second Temple.

 

Of course, the removal of the Second Temple and institutionalized worship is not unrelated to the sacrifice of Christ – but here is the rub - the removal of an alternative form of worship and the removal of the Jewish people and all their institutions from Palestine provided Christians with confirmation that they had a “better covenant” that would suffer no competition. Jesus is the place where the Father is worshipped in Spirit and Truth, it was no longer necessary to have a temple “made with hands” when a temple had been provided by the Holy Spirit.

 

The Last “Week”

 

At first glance the last “week” described in verses 26-27 seems to describe a singular event, namely, the destruction of the city (of Jerusalem) and the sanctuary. The additional information provided in v. 27 informs that at the beginning of the “week” a (the) covenant is confirmed (strengthened) and that in the middle of the “week” rebellion, corruption and desolation cause an end to temple sacrifice. These conditions prevail until the end of the “week” until the desolator is punished.  The NKJV indicates that the person who confirms the covenant in v. 27 is the same “prince who is to come” that destroys the city in the previous verse. The translation offered by Collins (1993:346) displays the same bias, no doubt influenced by the Antiochene crisis, but Goldingay (1989:226) offers a neutral translation:

 

26b) A leader to come will devastate a people, and its end will come with a flood.

 

27) A covenant will prevail for the multitude for one seven; “in the middle of the seven sacrifice and offering will cease, and upon a wing will be a desolating abomination: until a conclusion decreed overwhelms a desolate one”.

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The seven year period is clearly delineated by two periods of 3½ years. The first 3½ years is identified by Christ in the Olivet prophecy with the destruction of Jerusalem and the removal of the Second Temple.  Establishing the accuracy of Christ’s interpretation is simply a matter of historical verification – the reader is referred to the account of the 3½ year campaign waged by Vespasian.[3]  The desolation of the temple was not necessarily caused by the Roman incineration of the temple (which could be considered a cleansing act), but by the Jews themselves who polluted and desecrated the temple during their rebellion, so much so that Josephus (Jos. War 6.2.1) comments; “And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, - and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city? For they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen. And are not both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God, therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions”.

 

Josephus (Jos. War 6.4.5) also comments on the remarkable coincidence [sic] that has the Romans destroying the temple on the same day as Nebuchadnezzar centuries previously (the Romans probably chose the same day as a propitious date on which to fire the temple); “And now the fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages: it was the tenth day of the month Ab, upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon; although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them…” [4]

 

Interestingly, the NIB translates Christ’s warning in Matt. 24:15 as follows; “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11)    Continued  ˃

 

[3] See Appendix 1 Chapter 18: Chronology of the Jewish War, 66-70

[4] Josephus is careful to blame the Jews rather than the Romans for burning the temple – probably because he did not want to alienate his patrons

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spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand…”   In the NIB the causal link between abomination and subsequent desolation is emphasised. The root cause of the desolation is rebellion whether or not it resulted in the setting up of an “abomination” (idol).   Similarly, the term used in Dan. 8:13 by Gabriel (to describe the Antiochene crisis) is “desolating rebellion” rather than “desolating abomination.” Klein suggests that the numerical value of abomination ( שִׁקֻּץ =490) determined the preference in Dan. 9:27 for “desolating abomination” over “desolating rebellion”.[5]  The Romans fulfilled the prophecy literally by erecting and offering to their ensigns on the captured temple mount (Jos. War 6.6.1) but the city and the temple had been desecrated by the Jews themselves long before the final Roman desolation occurred. The conclusion so far is that in accordance with Daniel and with Christ’s interpretation – the city and the Second Temple were destroyed at the end of a horrific 3½ year campaign.[6]

 

The Final 3½ years

 

This leaves us to explain the final 3½ years and the “covenant” that spans the entire seven year period.  Is the “covenant” a reference to a divinely ordained covenant or to an agreement between two human parties?  History knows of no covenant reached between the Jews and the Romans during the revolt. The critical view understands the “covenant” in v. 27 as a reference to an alliance between Epiphanes and the Hellenizing Jews; “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us”. (1 Macc. 1:11) The half-week in this interpretation corresponds to the three and a half years (“a time, times, and a half time”) of Dan. 7:25. The allusiveness of the prophecy allows the possibility of an application to the Antiochene crisis and although negative associations with the desecration of the temple lead many scholars to accept this view, this exegesis regards the Antiochene crisis as a typical realization – with the desecration of the temple and    Continued  ˃

 

[5] G. Klein, “Uber  das Buch Daniel”, (Leiden: Brill,1904,239-241),240

[6] This does not preclude earlier applications of Daniel to the Antiochene crisis, which in many ways typified the crisis in 70

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removal of the daily holding as it were supra-historical, eschatological significance.  

 

In the context of Daniel’s prayer a reference is made to the “God who keeps covenant”[7] suggesting a link with the covenant that is “strengthened” in v. 27. The key phrase in Dan. 9:27 (“He shall confirm [strengthen] a covenant”) echoes the earlier statement by Daniel in 9:12 (“He has confirmed His words”) which speaks of God confirming his prophetic word to Jeremiah [Dan. 9:2 cf. Jer. 25:11] by bringing destruction against Jerusalem. In both cases the destruction of Jerusalem (and by extension the sanctuary) are connected with confirming both his “word” and his “covenant”.  However, “covenant” and “word” are not analogous[8] despite parallels in the contextual setting (destruction of Jerusalem in 586 and in 70). The “covenant” that the Daniel prophecy anticipates must be the “new covenant” also spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet (Jer. 31:31). The “new covenant” was established between Christ and his disciples at the last supper and received confirmation by God in the resurrection event. Nevertheless, in a national sense the “new covenant” was only    Continued  ˃

 

[7] Daniel 9:4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments”.

[8] The Greek Th of Dan. 9:12 (καὶ ἔστησεν τοὺς λόγους αὐτοῦ) employs the accusative masculine plural of logos (word) coupled with indicative aorist active 3rd person singular for establish (ἔστησεν) form of the verb histemi (ἵστημι), which is equivalent to the Hebrew dabar (rb'D)- being confirmed, or established quwm קוּם. However, the OG employs command, or ordinance (προστάγματα) in 9:12;καὶ ἔστησεν ἡμῖν τὰ προστάγματα.   The Th and OG of 9:27 are the same (καὶ δυναμώσει διαθήκην) with reference to strengthening (cf. the Pauline expression in Col 1:11 [δυνάμει δυναμούμενοι] strengthened with all might) the covenant (the accusative feminine singular form of diathēkē  [διαθήκη]). The Hebrew equivalent is from the prime root gâbar (גָּבַר); to be strong and beriyth (בְּרִית); covenant.

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“confirmed” (strengthened) when the “old covenant” was swept away with the destruction of the Second Temple. The opportunity for animal sacrifice had been completely removed; from henceforth it was only possible to worship God through Christ. This is the essence of the argument in Hebrews (c. AD 67) - Jesus the mediator of the “new covenant” warns the Jews “from heaven” that the Second Temple   (symbol of the old covenant) would be completely removed (Heb.12:24-27).[9]  The “new covenant” required a “new temple” where God is worshipped in Spirit and Truth.

 

The “strong (firm) covenant” relates to both of the half-week periods. This exegesis proposes that the first 3½ years ended with the destruction of the Second Temple and dispersal of the Jews.  By its very nature the prophecy was in abeyance until the Jews returned to the land. This means that the prophecy was interrupted for a period of at least 2,000 years until the return of the diaspora. The last 3½ years is therefore still in the future and is extensively described in Revelation as the 1,260 day period of witnessing. Sometimes the objection is raised that the prophecy does not allow for postponement, however, the prophecy has already encountered delays during the reigns of Cyrus and Darius, moreover, as noted by Price; “…both conservative and critical scholarship have agreed that Gabriel’s revelation to Daniel announced an extension of the seventy years of Jeremiah’s prophecy to seventy weeks of years. At the outset let us notice that this extension of the seventy years is itself an example of prophetic postponement, a fact    Continued  ˃

 

[9] See also 2 Peter 1:19; “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed (βεβαιότερον), which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”(NKJV). Note the context of 2 Peter (3:11) is the removal of the old dispensation; “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved” (i.e. all Jewish institutions including the temple). The only place where an analogous term “morning star” (day-star) occurs is in the book of Revelation (2:28; 22:16) suggesting that the prophetic word that Peter has in mind is the one issued by Jesus himself – of course this would require a pre-70 date for Revelation.

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often overlooked by opponents.”[10] As in the past, spiritual failure leads to postponement (cf. Num 14:34). Israel failed to recognize and accept their Messiah, therefore, the nation was removed in AD 70 after 3½ years of war.  The prophetic interruption continues until the last 3½ years of witnessing commences and the nation will only achieve ultimate restoration when repentance is displayed towards the Messiah.

 

The New Temple

 

This section of the exegesis will explore the last half-week of Daniel’s prophecy and clarify the “seven year covenant” that spans both half-weeks and is interrupted in the middle by a diaspora lasting approximately 2,000 years. From the very beginning the focus of the exegesis presented here has been on the centrality of the temple motif – in particular, temple desecration features as an eschatological motif in Daniel. A number of interpreters have suggested that the temple is the hinge on which Daniel’s view of history turns.[11]  Recent studies in Revelation have recognised the importance of the theme of the temple as an organizing principle for the spatial and temporal aspects of the apocalyptic visions in the book of Revelation.[12] Danielic thematic    Continued  ˃

 

[10] “Classical dispensational interpretation has always recognized that the New Testament revelation of two phases to the messianic advent has necessitated an interruption in the fulfilment of the restoration program unconditionally guaranteed to national Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-37)..”  Dr. Randall Price, The Prophetic Postponement in the Prophecy of Daniel 9:27 (part 1-3, Prophecy Ministries,1999: cited online June 2009); Access here

[11] Annie Jaubert, La Notion d’Alliance dans le Judaisme. Patristica Sorbonensia 6 (Paris: Seuil, 1963), pp. 82-85; Robert Hanhart, “Kriterien Geschichtlicher Warheit in der Makkabäerzeit,” Drei Studien zum Judentum in Theologische Existenz Heute 140 (Müchen: Kaiser, 1967), 14.

[12] John Ben-Daniel and Gloria Ben-Daniel provide references to Robert Briggs and A. Spatafora and A. Spatafora in a footnote relating to the Temple motif in Revelation. A. and A. Spatafora observe that, “All other studies and commentaries appear to analyse the individual recurrences, but they fail to see a relationship between them”—A. Spatafora and A. Spatafora, From the ‘Temple of God’ to God as the Temple: A Biblical Theological Study of the Temple in the Book of Revelation (Rome: Loyola Press, 1997), 7-9. Following an investigation of background sources, both these works confirm the importance of the Temple theme in the Apocalypse...... Margaret Baker also provides a wealth of information on the subject in her recent book (The Revelation of Jesus Christ). John Ben-Daniel and Gloria Ben-Daniel, The Apocalypse in the Light of the Temple: A New Approach to the Book of Revelation, (Beit Yochanan, 2003), 6-fn.9 [cited August 2010] @ Access here. Whittaker also notes the importance of Day of Atonement Liturgy to the trumpet section of Revelation. H. A. Whittaker, Revelation: A Biblical Approach, (Lichfield: Biblia, 1973), 104-105. R. A. Brigg, Jewish Temple Imagery in the Book of Revelation, (Studies in Biblical Literature; Vol. 10; New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999)

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continues in the book of Revelation with the dedication of a new temple which occurs during the final 3½ years:

 

And there was given to me a reed like a staff, saying, “Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship in it. And the court which is without the temple cast (ἔκβαλε) out, and measure it not; because it has been given up to the nations, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months”. (Rev. 11:1-2 DBY)

 

Bauckham observes; “This curious use of ἔκβαλε has never been explained, because its source in Daniel has not been recognised. The whole phrase is John’s translation of the last three words of Daniel 8.11: וְהֻשְׁלַךְ מְכֹון מִקְדָּשֹׁו  (literally: ‘and the place of his sanctuary was cast down/out’). John has taken the unique phrase מְכֹון מִקְדָּשֹׁו, which uses the rare (מְכֹון), to mean the court belonging to (i.e. outside) the temple building. שְׁלַךְ would mean ‘to cast down, to overthrow’ if it    Continued  ˃

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referred to the temple itself, but can hardly mean this if, as John supposes, it refers to the court of the temple. However, ‘to cast out’ (ἐκβάλλω) is an appropriate translation, because John assumes that the reason it has been ‘cast out’ is that the pagan nations have defiled it. They have removed the burnt offering (Daniel 8.11; 11.31; 12.11) and erected the idolatrous ‘transgression that makes desolate’ (11.31; 12.11), presumably in place of the altar of burnt-offering”.[13] Critical scholars suspect that the trampling by the nations in Rev. 11:1-2 and the witnessing in Rev. 11:3-14 are derived from different sources and therefore regard the two episodes as unrelated. However, Antoninus Siew notes that John employs a paratactic construction that results in a parallelism between vv.2 and 3:

 

parallelism

 

Structurally, this parallelism in the form of ABCDA’ B’C’D’ is impressive.[14] The analysis that Siew proposes supports our exegesis – namely, that the witnessing and measuring are simultaneous events that occur during gentile occupation of the land. Both the people and the temple (including the altar) are measured but the outer court (know as court of the Gentiles) is “cast out” indicating that we are not dealing     Continued  ˃

 

[13] Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation,(T&T Clark; Continuum Imprint, New York: London, 1993),270

[14]Antoninus King Wai Siew, War Between the Two Beasts And the Two Witnesses: A Chiastic Reading of Revelation 11.1-14.5, (T. & T. Clark, London: New York,2005),106

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with a literal temple. Bauckham concludes that (similar to the Antiochene crisis) the pagans have defiled the court, removed the burnt offering and defiled the altar. However, it is the daily witnessing (not the daily sacrifice) that is removed by murdering the two witnesses; the witnessing is in fact the process by which the temple (people) are measured and the altar is not defiled but “measured.” Hanukkah (Feast of Lights or Dedication) features as a background to temple restoration in Daniel, to the restoration under Haggai and Zechariah, to the dedication of the temple and altar during the Maccabean crisis[15] and to the birth of John the Baptist. It should therefore not surprise us to discover that “lamps” are associated with the dedication of the new “Temple” in Revelation:

 

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. (Rev. 11:4)

 

Psalm 30 has the superscription; “A Song at the dedication of the house of David” and is read at Hanukkah:

 

Psalm 30 Revelation 11
(1a) A Song at the dedication of the house (1b) Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there
(11b) You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness (3b) They will prophesy........ clothed in sackcloth
(3a)  O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave (12) And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here”
(1b) And have not let my foes rejoice over me (10) And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them
(12b) O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever (17) We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty

 

[15] See, Appendix 2 Chapter 18: Revelation 11 and the Maccabean crisis

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It is significant that Psalm 29 features as a background to the rainbow angel of Revelation chapter 10 and the seven thunders (loud voices) of Rev. 14.[16] The theme of Psalm 29 is the seven-fold voice (thunder) of Yahweh, who is enthroned on the storm clouds; “Yahweh sitteth upon the flood” (v.10). Thus, allusions to Psalm 29 and Psalm 30 are found throughout Revelation 10, 11 and 14. Daniel, Christ and Josephus all employ the metaphor of a flood to describe the Roman destruction in AD 70 and the term is also an appropriate description for the eschatological destruction;

 

Daniel:  “Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood”. (Dan. 9:26)

 

Josephus: “……the city would either be swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the country of Sodom perished by….for by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed”. (Jos. War 5.13.7)

 

Christ: “They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all”. (Lk 17:27)

 

2 Pet.3: 5-7: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and earth which are now, by the    Continued  ˃

 

[16] Siew (2005: 185,186) proposes a micro-chiasm, with Rev.11.1-2 and 14.1-5 forming an inclusio for the literary unit of 11.1-14.5. He understands the lexical terms ‘the temple of God’ and ‘the holy city’ in 11.1-2 as paralleling the phrase ‘Mount Zion’ in 14.1. To this we might add that the seven thunders of Rev.10:4 are paralleled by the loud voices of Rev.14 demonstrating cohesion in the literary unit.

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same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

 

Rev 10.1: I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

 

Rev 10.4: Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”[17]

 

[17] The “sealing up” of Rev.10:4 echoes the phrase, “to seal up the vision and the prophecy” found in Dan. 9:24 and “shut up the words, and seal the book” (Dan. 12:4) – taken together with the instruction “write them not” indicates that the seven thunders of Revelation remain unexplained (do not write down their meaning) rather than unrecorded. There is little point in “sealing” something that is not written down”.  Revelation 14 records seven “loud voices” (thunders) that announce judgements. “The thunder of his power who can understand?”(Job 26: 14); rabbinic tradition comments as follows: “When thunder goes forth in his full force, no creature can understand it. It is not written none understands, but who can understand? The intelligent ones they know his hints and thoughts”.(Gen. Rab. 12:1 – trans., Epstein, Babylonian Talmud)

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The apocalyptic imagery of Dan. 9, 10 and 12 informs the background to Rev. 10 and 11:

 

dan-rev

 

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The Flood and the Rainbow

 

So far our exegesis has identified the first half-week as the 3½ year “flood” that destroyed the temple in AD 70 and the second half-week as another 3½ year period characterised by trampling of the outer temple court (court of the Gentiles) while the inner sanctum is “measured” through the medium of the “daily” witnessing. It is during this seven year period (interrupted by the 2,000 year diaspora) that the covenant is confirmed (strengthened). Earlier it was indicated that the covenant was the “new covenant” spoken of by Jeremiah and established by Christ. The covenant is strengthened when Christ sends his Revelation to his servant John; “to show those things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev.1:1).  The first half-week of Daniel culminated in the destruction of the Second Temple – Christ had warned the Jews in the Olivet Prophecy but now he also warned them from heaven about imminent destruction; “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev.6:17) Despite the flood of destruction God would be merciful:

 

“In the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Hab.3: 2)

 

The mercy that God displays toward the nation is represented by the rainbow angel:

 

“And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Gen.9: 14-16)

 

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.    Continued  ˃

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And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. (Rev. 1:7)

 

The mighty angel has the rainbow sign of covenant mercy over his head.[18] Daniel specifically enquired; “How long shall the fulfilment of these wonders be?” (Dan. 12:6) and was told that, “when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” (Dan. 12:7)  John is informed that there would be no more delay the mystery of God would be finished. Significantly, the mighty angel describes divine omnipotence by citing from the covenant    Continued  ˃

 

[18] “Thy bow was made quite bare surely thou didst bend thy bow at seven thunders” (Hab.3: 9). The LXX has seven sceptres i.e., seven thunders. The reconstruction suggested here is from J. Ziegler (ed.) Duodecim Prophetae, 270 see also John Day (VT 29 [1979]:143-51)

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renewal found in Nehemiah 9:6.[19] In Revelation, God is the witness, not the subject of the oath and the source of the gesture is clearly Dan. 12: 7, even though in that passage the angel lifts both hands. In Deut. 32: 40 (LXX) and Rev.10: 5 alone, however, is the right hand raised as a gesture accompanying an oath. In the important passage in Deut.32: 40, the first line of verse 40 can be constructed as the second part of v.39, i.e., “and no one can deliver from my hand, for I lift up my hand to heaven. I swear: as I live forever…” The Deuteronomic passage (32:39-43) speaks of the divine ability to “kill and make alive” and render recompense to enemies but ends with the consoling words; “And will be merciful [20] unto this land, and to his people”. 

 

The circumlocution mighty or strong (ἰσχυρὸν) angel alludes to Gabriel (גּבְרִיאֵל), the strong (mighty) one of God who was sent to Daniel (Dan. 9:21) and who spoke to him of the strong (firm) covenant (Dan. 9:27).  Gabriel’s name is derived from the prime root gâbar (to be strong).  Hamilton observes that, “It is not certain whether the noun geber is derived from the verb gābar, “to be strong superior”, or the verb is derived from the noun” and notes that the phrase blessed (or cursed) is the man (geber) occurs frequently in wisdom statements.[21] This is significant because the mighty angel has his his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land indicating disfavour with Israel. The noun gebîr (גְּבִיר) occurs only in Isaac’s word of blessing – a blessing of domination; “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master (גְּבִיר) over your brethren, and let your mother’s    Continued  ˃

 

[19] You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it… (Neh.9:6). The renewal of the Abrahamic covenant in Nehemiah ch.9 is linked with the commencement of the heptads and the birth of Christ.

[20] KJV/DRA; will be merciful  NKJV ; provide atonement JPS; make expiation RSV; makes expiation YLT; hath pardoned

[21] Victor P. Hamilton, NIDOTTE vol 1, 816-7. See also, H. Kosmala, “The Term geber in the Old Testament and in the Scrolls, “SVT 17, 1969, 159-69.

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sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!” (Gen. 37:29).  Christ would be master (i.e. be strong) over his brethren and the gospel blessing would be extended to the gentiles. Although the second half-week will realize another destruction of Jerusalem God will show mercy and confirm his covenant for the last time by sending his two witnesses to measure up a new temple.

 

Conclusion

 

After delay during the reign of Cyrus and further delay during the prophetic ministries of Zechariah and Haggai (in the reign of Darius) – and after the false start of Nehemiah’s first mission – the prophetic clock started ticking anew at the end of Nehemiah’s second mission (423/4 BC)[22] – this is when all the elements were in place; temple, city and renewal of the Abrahamic covenant. The following 420 years takes us to the birth of Christ, who is the replacement for the temple, a further 70 years sees the start of the Jewish war and 3½ years later the Second Temple is removed as predicted in Daniel and referred to by Christ in the Olivet prophecy.  However, before the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 the Lord Jesus sent a comforting message to his servants and a last warning to the Jewish nation – the book of Revelation. The Jewish nation did not heed the warning from heaven and therefore no more delay was allowed; the “new covenant” was confirmed by removing the “old covenant.” However, the prophecy does not end at this point – it faces yet another, longer delay; a period of more than 2,000 years.  John is informed that the last 3½ years (the second half-week of Daniel) will see the measuring of those who worship in the temple (i.e. those who are in Christ, who is the Temple of God).

 

[22] Not discounting the historical distraction of a typical fulfilment in the Maccabean crisis. 2 Macc.1.18 et seq., which although legendary probably preserves historical material when it relates the miraculous relighting of the altar-fire by Nehemiah on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judas Maccabeus.

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The prophecy could only achieve realization with a national Jewish presence in the land, which is a relatively recent event. It occurs during a final period of desolation and foreign domination. But in wrath God will remember mercy. He sends two witnesses clothed in sackcloth because of the desolations caused by national spiritual blindness. The witnessing ministry mirrors the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and is the final confirmation of the “new covenant” before the establishment of the kingdom.  The temple of God is now complete and the Seventy Prophecy fulfilled:

 

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God”. (Rev. 21:2-3)

 

Of course, before the revelation of the New Jerusalem the witnesses are murdered by the beast and the last plagues are poured out on the anti-Christ.[23] Nevertheless, the Spirit witnessing in the last half-week of Daniel’s prophecy stands as the final confirmation of the “new covenant”.

 

Appendix 1 Chapter 18: Chronology of the Jewish War, 66-70

 

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus offers a consistent chronology of the Jewish War that started in 66 and culminated in the destruction    Continued  ˃

 

[23] Siew (2005:122) concludes; “We have demonstrated that the sounding of the seventh angel’s trumpet (11.15a) consists of the seven last bowls of plagues described in Rev.15-16 and as such is not to be equated with the kingdom announcement in 11.15b-18. In summary Rev. 11 depicts the events that will unfold within the last three and a half years (11.1-13) leading to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth (11.15-19)”.

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of the temple in 70. However, there is a problem. He uses the Macedonian names for the months, but does not say what he means. There are three possibilities:

 

  • He uses the normal Macedonian calendar, which we can corroborate with the calendar of Tyre or Antioch;
  • He uses Macedonian names for the Julian months of the Roman calendar (e.g., 1Panemus = 1 July);
  • He uses the Babylonian-Judaean lunar calendar (e.g., Artemisius = Iyar).

 

At first sight, it seems that Josephus used all systems but preferred the Roman one (which suggests that he had access to a Roman military source), except for the period before the legions arrived in Judaea and for Jewish liturgical dates. This looks like a plausible solution, but is in fact too simple, because it implies that the killing of the emperor Vitellius (20 December 69) was recorded by the Romans before it actually happened. See the following comparison table from Barbara Levick, Vespasian (1999 London), 40-42; with some some modifications made by Jona Lendering (with commentary) online [cited Aug. 2009] Access here  Preferred dates bold - certain dates underlined - religious festivals italics.

Reference Date Tyre Roman Jewish Event

66

         

JW, 2.284

Artemisius

19 May

-18 Jun

May

15 May-12 Jun

Beginning of rebellion

JW, 2.315

16 Artemisius

3 Jun

16 May

31 May

Unrest in Jerusalem

JW, 2.430

15 Lous

3 Sep

15 Aug

27 Aug

Antonia attacked

JW, 2.440

6 Gorpaeus

24 Sep

6 Sep

15 Sep

Palace besieged

JW, 2.515

15-23 Tishri

   

20-28 Sep

Festival of Tabernacles; Cestius in Lydda

JW, 2.528

30 Hyperberetaeus

16 Nov

20 Oct

9 Nov

XII Fulminata attacks

JW, 2.555

8 Dius

25 Nov

8 Nov

15 Nov

XII Fulminata defeated

67

         

JW, 3.142

17 Artemisius

4 Jun

17 May

21 May

Roman advance-guard at Jotapata

id.

21 Artemisius

8 Jun

21 May

24 May

Josephus at Jotapata

JW, 3.145

22 Artemisius

9 Jun

22 May

25 May

Vespasian arrives at Jotapata

JW, 3.282

20 Daesius

6 Jul

20 Jun

21 Jun

Roman attack repulsed

JW, 3.306

25 Daesius

13 Jul

25 Jun

26 Jun

Fall of Japha

JW, 3.315

28 Daesius

15 Jul

27 Jun

28 Jun

Fall of Gerizim

JW, 3.316

1 Panemus

20 Jul

1 Jul

2 Jul

Fall of Jotapata

JW, 3.409

4 Panemus

23 July

4 July

5 Jul

Vespasian at Ptolemais

JW, 3.542

8 Gorpaeus

26 Sep

8 Sep

6 Sep

Fall of Tarichaeae

JW, 4.69, 83

23 Hyperberetaeus

9 Nov

23 Oct

21 Oct

Fall of Gamala

68

         

JW, 4.413

4 Dystrus

21 Mar

4 Mar

26 Feb

Fall of Gadara

JW, 4.449

2 Daesius

20 Jun

2 Jun

24 May

Vespasian at Corea

JW, 4.450

3 Daesius

21 Jun

3 Jun

25 May

Vespasian at Jericho

69

         

JW, 4.550

5 Daesius

23 Jun

5 Jun

13 Jun

Vespasian invades Judaea

JW, 4.577

Xanthicus

18 Apr

-

18 May

Apr

12 Apr-10 May

Simon in Jerusalem

Tac., Hist. 2.79

-

-

3 Jul

-

Vespasian proclaimed emperor

JW, 4.654

3 Apellaeus

20 Dec

3 Dec

8 Dec

Death of  Vitellius

70

         

JW, 5.99

14 Xanthicus

1 May

14 Apr

14 Apr

Passover; John enters temple

JW, 5.133, 567

14 Xanthicus

1 May

14 Apr

14 Apr

Titus encamps against Psephinus

JW, 5.302

7 Artemisius

25 May

7 May

7 May

First wall taken

JW, 5.466

12 Artemisius

30 May

12 May

12 May

Siege works building

id.

29 Artemisius

15 Jun

29 May

29 May

Works finished

JW, 6.22

1 Panemus

20 Jul

1 July

28 Jun

Jewish rally

JW, 6.67

3 Panemus

22 Jul

3 July

30 Jun

Antonia attacked

JW, 6.68

5 Panemus

24 Jul

5 July

2 Jul

Antonia falls

JW, 6.94

17 Panemus

5 Aug

17 Jul

14 Jul

End of daily sacrifice

JW, 6.166

24 Panemus

12 Aug

24 Jul

21 Jul

Romans fire portico

JW, 6.177

27 Panemus

15 Aug

27 Jul

24 Jul

Western portico burns

JW, 6.220

8 Lous

27 Aug

8 Aug

4 Aug

Earthworks complete

JW, 6.236

9 Lous

28 Aug

9 Aug

5 Aug

Roman council of war

JW, 6.250

10 Lous

29 Aug

10 Aug

6 Aug

Temple burns

JW, 6.374

20 Lous

8 Sep

20 Aug

16 Aug

Siege of upper city

JW, 6.392

7 Gorpaeus

25 Sep

7 Sep

1 Sep

Upper city attacked

JW, 6.407

8 Gorpaeus

26 Sep

8 Sep

2 Sep

Fall of Jerusalem

74*

         

JW, 7.401

15 Xanthicus

3 May

15 Apr

31 Mar

Fall of Masada

 

* Flavius Josephus does not mention the year in which Masada fell. Most scholars have assumed 73, but archaeologists have discovered coins of that year on top of the rock. Therefore 74 is more plausible, although 73 cannot be ruled out.

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Appendix 2 Chapter 18: Revelation 11 and the Maccabean crisis

 

The Maccabean crisis is also helpful for understanding aspects of Revelation 11 and Revelation 14. Following Siew’s proposed micro-chiasm, he notes (2005:186 fn.14), “that the word-pair, ‘temple-Mount Zion’ is used constantly in 1 Maccabees. The mention of ‘Mount Zion’ together with the ‘temple’ or ‘sanctuary’ appears in 1 Macc.4.36-40 as follows;  ‘[v. 36] Then Judas and his brothers said, ‘See our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse  the sanctuary  and dedicate it’ [v.37] So all the army assembled and went up to  Mount Zion [v.38]. There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes spring up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins [v.39]. Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes [v. 40] and fell face down on the ground. And when the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.” The connections with Revelation 11 are obvious and Siew notes that the Maccabean army ascending Mount Zion to cleanse the temple parallels the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion in Rev. 14:1. When exhorting the readers to celebrate Hanukkah, Second Maccabees (2:16) recounts how the ark was hidden by Jeremiah only to be revealed in an eschatological vision: “Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Place might be gloriously sanctified. It is also related how Solomon in his wisdom offered a sacrifice at the dedication and the completion of the temple.” (2 Macc.2:8-9) Revelation 11 concludes with a vision of the ark; “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail”. (Rev.11:19)