What the Bible says about
Temple, Rebuilding the
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Ezra 1:1-2 states that Cyrus issued a decree to free the Jews in the first year of his reign over Babylon. Since Cyrus conquered Babylon on October 12, 539 BC, the first year of this reign was 539-538 BC. God through Isaiah, then, named him at least 143 years earlier. What God did through Cyrus also fulfills a prophecy made through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-14) sometime during the century following Isaiah's death. Ezra distinctly says that God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to perform this and that Cyrus claimed that God commanded him. Ezra 1:5 states that God also stirred the spirit of the Jews, Levites, and Benjamites to return to Jerusalem to build the Temple, confirming His sovereignty over the whole affair.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Five
God refers to both kingdoms here—the descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel as well as the southern kingdom of Judah. The return of Israel will be the larger migration because, aside from the 70-year captivity in Babylon, some of the descendants of Judah have always resided in the Promised Land. Today, the State of Israel is predominately made up of the descendants of Judah.
However, neither Israel nor Judah has truly possessed the land since the time of their respective captivities. Despite some of Judah having returned to the land, ever since the Babylonian captivity, she has only rarely and intermittently held sovereignty over it.
After Judah was taken into captivity, Babylon ruled the Promised Land under Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon later fell to the Medo-Persian Empire, which then became sovereign over Jerusalem and the Promised Land. Because of their vassal status, the Jewish captives that returned from Babylon had to ask permission from Cyrus and Darius, the Persian kings, to rebuild the wall and the Temple. The Jews enjoyed a measure of peace, but their freedom depended on the favor of the ruling Persian emperor.
After Alexander the Great conquered Medo-Persia, the Greeks became the new overseers of the Land of Promise. Jews under the Maccabees gained a measure of independence until Rome took control of the area. Thus, during the time of Christ, Jews lived in the land and even worshipped in the Second Temple, but they did not really possess the land because it was under Roman jurisdiction. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, notwithstanding some temporary Crusader holdings, the Promised Land has been under the sway of various Arab and Muslim nations—notably the Ottoman Empire—down to modern times.
Even now, the state of Israel does not control all of the land. Jerusalem is a divided city, and the Israelis have not dared claim all of the Temple Mount for themselves, because they know that it would result in an all-out war with the Muslims. Even though the Jews regained a considerable amount of land when it declared statehood in 1948, gaining even more during the Six Day War, the ownership is endlessly argued. Judah is not truly sovereign yet. It does not yet "possess" the land in the fullest sense of the word.
David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part One)
When Daniel prayed this, Judah had been scattered for about 70 years, and they were just about ready to go back to the Promised Land. God was just about ready to release them. Daniel was concerned due to what he saw in Babylon; it discomforted him. He likely saw some of the same conditions existing in Babylon that had caused the Jews to go into captivity in the first place almost 70 years before. His fears were justified because, when Ezra and Nehemiah went back to rebuild the Temple and then the wall around Jerusalem, very few Jews went back. In fact, it was such a small number by Ezra's count that he called a fast about it. He wanted to make sure that the people would be hidden on the way so that nobody would see them making the trip back to Judea and consider them "easy pickings."
When the church was finally begun in AD 31, Peter went to preach in Babylon because there was still such a large colony of Jews there. Indeed, they stayed in the world—in Babylon—and continued to multiply.
We can read between the lines of Daniel's prayer and understand that he was anxious over their return. Quite a number of commentators feel that this cannot be all Daniel prayed. Really, all that we have here is an outline of what he said, the high points. After praying it, Daniel went back to his office or to his home and jotted these things down so that they would be remembered. God undoubtedly inspired that. So we are actually seeing only the essence of what he said. He certainly went into a great deal more detail with God.
When we pray for repentance, we go into detail about things that we personally know about—especially those things that happen in our lives and perhaps those things that happen within God's work, of which we were aware. We do nothing about them then, but we certainly can ask God to forgive them.
Daniel begins by establishing between him and God that he, Daniel, understood that God is faithful. He keeps His covenant. He stands by Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. When something goes out of God's mouth, it does not come back to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). There are no "hollow threats" with God! Do we understand that? His faithfulness is one of the things that makes Him God. He can always be depended upon. He is Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). "For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6).
John W. Ritenbaugh
What is so amazing about the often neglected Seventy Weeks Prophecy is that, not only does it give us a clue to the day of Christ's death, it indicates the year of His death as well! Of course, it is not as simple as looking up a fact in an almanac, but enough information is available to discover the year very accurately.
From what Gabriel says in verse 25, the ending point is fairly plain: the revealing of the Messiah. But what is the starting point?
Historians know of at least four decrees made by the Persian emperors "to restore and build Jerusalem." Cyrus made one in 538 BC, Darius I made one in 520 BC and Artaxerxes I made two, one in 457 BC and one in 444 BC. Which one is the correct command?
All of them could fit the description in verse 25. All of them are concerned with restoring Jerusalem to its former function as the Jewish religious capital and trade center. But only one of them fits the time constraints, and this becomes clear when we work out the puzzle of the seventy weeks.
We have to do a little arithmetic to find the terminus for each of these decrees. The expression "seventy weeks" literally means "seventy sevens," and the year-for-a-day principle applies here (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:4-6). We must multiply seventy weeks times the seven years in a week of years, which equals 490 years. Gabriel, however, says it is only sixty-nine sevens "until Messiah the Prince." Thus, 69 x 7 = 483 years.
If we add 483 years to each of the dates of the decrees, what do we find? (Remember to add one year for crossing the non-existent year 0.)
- 538 BC + 483 years = 55 BC. No significant biblical event.
- 520 BC + 483 years = 37 BC. No significant biblical event.
- 457 BC + 483 years = AD 27. Jesus is baptized and begins His ministry.
- 444 BC + 483 years = AD 40. No significant biblical event.
God made it easy! We have only one choice!
Verses 26-27 are very specific that the Messiah would work for three and a half years, half of a week, before being "cut off." When we add three and a half years to AD 27, we find that Christ's ministry ended in AD 31, the year of His crucifixion and resurrection.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'
The starting point of the seventy weeks is stated in verse 25: a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. "The command" should be "a command." The Persian emperors made four decrees in all, so we have a choice of which one fits best with the facts. The only viable decree is the one made by Artaxerxes I in 457 BC. This is the return under Ezra the scribe (Ezra 7:1-10).
Gabriel splits the first sixty-nine weeks into seven weeks (forty-nine years) and sixty-two weeks (434 years). During the forty-nine years from 457 to 408 BC, Jerusalem was being rebuilt. After this time Jerusalem was a fully functioning trade center and fortress. This fulfills the prophecy exactly.
Adding the 434 years to 408 BC brings us to AD 27 (adding one year for passing over the non-existent year 0). During this year, John baptized Jesus and His ministry began. Luke records that "Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23). Taking Luke at his word, if Jesus was within a few months of His thirtieth birthday, His birth must have occurred in 4 BC.
Many Protestants, using a 360-day "prophetic" year and quite a bit of calculation, begin on Nisan 1, 444 BC, and end up on March 30, AD 33, the day (they say) of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His crucifixion. This fits neatly into their scheme, as the Passover in AD 33 occurred on a Friday, but they are two years off! Jeremiah's seventy years of captivity were seventy literal years, not 360-day years. Why should Gabriel's seventy weeks of years be anything else? Their method of calculation is contrived and confusing. They have forced the prophecy into conforming to their beliefs rather than following the simple sense of the Bible's words.
Besides, Christ was not proclaimed as the Messiah for the first time during His triumphal entry, but at His baptism. God the Father, not the people, publicly proclaimed Him to be the Messiah, "My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'
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