In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes, Daniel understood by books, and apparently especially by the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the number of the years of Israel’s exile would be seventy, and that they were about to reach their end. This Ahasuerus mentioned in the first verse is not the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, for that one is well known in history under the name of Xerxes; he was the descendant of Cyrus king of Persia, and he ascended the throne of Persia in 485 B.C., more than 50 years after the events of this chapter. The Darius of our chapter is the same one who threw Daniel into the lions’ den. This has to be so, for in 536 B.C. Cyrus issued the edict to the Jews to go back to Jerusalem and build there the house of God (Ezra 1:1-4), while the Darius of chapter 6 in Daniel ascended the throne in 538 B.C., two years before the seventy years of Israel’s captivity came to an end; we are plainly told in the opening verses of our chapter that that date had arrived.
It is wonderful to see that, though Daniel was no mean prophet himself, he had yet read the then-existing prophecies of the Word of God, written by Jeremiah and possibly other writers, for II Chronicles 36:20, 21 also speaks of this period of seventy years spent in Babylon.
Having read the Word (v. 2), Daniel then prays (vv. 3-19). Reading and meditation on God’s Word always leads to prayer and confession too, because we realize our many sins and failures in His sight. Daniel’s passionate prayer, confession, and pleadings for God’s mercy are so stirring that we quote the whole of this outpouring of the soul of this great man of God:
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
We listen with holy awe to Daniel’s confession of the sins of the people with which he fully identifies himself; he acknowledges their refusal to listen to God as He pleaded with them through the prophets, and he admits that God is right in His dealings with them and that they were wrong. He beseeches God to show them mercy, closing his prayer with earnest pleas for His pardoning mercy. He confesses sins of which he, himself, could hardly have been guilty, for he was a very young lad when carried into Babylon. He was apparently a very godly lad at that, and his whole long life had been lived these 70 years past to the glory of God, in communion with Him. One cannot but feel what a magnificent type of Christ this man is. Christ was absolutely sinless, yet He, too, confessed the sins of men as His own. He speaks of “my” sins and “my” foolishness (Psalm 38:4, 5). We read in II Corinthians 5:19 that He did not impute our trespasses unto us; nay, He charged Himself with our sins. Daniel in our chapter breathes this blessed spirit of Christ.
If God is to act for His name, then His fury must be turned away from His city Jerusalem, for, in regard to the nation of Israel, Jerusalem is the only city on earth that bore His name. Just as Jerusalem was God’s choice for Israel in the past, so it will be in the future, as we read, for instance, in Zechariah 2:12, “And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.” Zechariah 14:16-21 expatiates on this same theme, for we read, “And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain” (v. 17).
Twice over Daniel tells us that it was while he was yet speaking that the answer came from God (vv. 20, 21). Is there not a suggestion here that a deep sense of failure and confession thereof to God brings a ready answer from Him? Daniel was not “saying” a prayer; he was in dead earnest and in deep agony of soul. There may be another reason why the answer came so quickly: Daniel’s confession, I believe, is a foreshadow of the future repentance of Israel and their turning back to God in the coming day of their tribulation, and then, too, the deliverance will come immediately.
The angel Gabriel came to Daniel while he was yet on his knees, so to speak. It took the heavenly messenger only a few moments to travel all the way from the throne of God in the highest heaven down to earth; quite thrilling, isn’t it? He came to give Daniel (and us) a very unique revelation, contained in the last verses of this chapter. Our chapter divides into these two sections—prayer (vv. 1-19), and prophecy (vv. 24-27).
This pregnant, prophetic unfolding of the future of Israel is perhaps the most important one we have in regard to the future of Israel and the world. The great events spoken of in the final verses of this chapter are detailed in the book of Revelation. The seven-year period of our text is an enlightening confirmation of the truth unveiled in the book of Revelation, and therein lies, as I see it, the great value of this closing portion of Daniel 9. John in the book of Revelation is not telling us anything new or radically different, but he confirms the same truth found here in Daniel 9 in embryo. Here is a clearer translation of verses 24-27:
Seventy weeks are apportioned out upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to cover iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal the vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. The street and the wall shall be built again, even in troublous times. And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end war desolations are determined.
And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and because of the protection of abominations there shall be a desolator, even until the consummation, and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolator.
There is no need to establish the fact that these seventy “sevens” (as the Hebrew word reads) imply seventy times seven years, or a total of 490 years. History has proven that clearly. Before we consider the things which those 490 years deal with, let us stop to consider for a moment this period of 490 years. You will remember there is another 490 years mentioned in the Old Testament, in connection with Israel’s history. We read in Leviticus 25:4 that God had ordered that the land in Israel was to be given a complete whole year of rest every seven years, called the “sabbatical” year. But the people in their greed had ignored this command, but had continued to extract crops from the soil without this period of relief. It is for that reason they were carried to Babylon, as we read, “And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” (II Chron, 36:20, 21).
Seventy sabbatical years—one for every seven years—tells us that for a total of seventy times seven, or 490 years, they had robbed the land and disobeyed God. Those were the 490 years of the past; the ones in Daniel 9 are the 490 years of the future (most of these are past now too). Both of these periods of 490 years have to do with the land of Israel. For 490 years the land had no rest in the past; for the 490 years of our chapter the people are to have no rest. These 490 years, we are told, would be troublous times for Israel, and how well history has borne this out. They never had it easy again after their return from the exile in Babylon. The most troubled time of all is to come during these last seven years of our text, which are still future—Israel’s tribulation that lies ahead. All their past from the time Cyrus issued the edict to return to the land has been one of sorrow and trouble. Think of the oppression of the Syrian rulers during the time of the Maccabees, later their oppression under the Roman heel, their dreadful woes in A.D. 70 when driven out of their land, and, alas, the worst is yet to come, as the book of Revelation demonstrates.
This leads me to think of another 490 in Scripture. You may read about it in Matthew 18:22. When Peter asked how many times one should forgive his brother, Jesus answered him, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven,” or 490 times. I don’t think I am imagining that this 490 has some reference to the other two. The two of the Old Testament speak of God’s hand of judgment on His people; this 490 times for forgiveness would have us know that His forgiving grace matches His hand of chastening. Israel shall yet know His tender compassion and restoring mercy.
Six things were to be accomplished during those 490 years: (1) to finish the transgression; (2) to make an end of sin; (3) to cover iniquity; (4) to bring in the righteousness of the ages; (5) to seal the vision and the prophet; (6) to anoint the Holy of holies. In interpreting these things we know that Christ has died; divine righteousness has been provided for the sinner. The event itself has taken place, but as far as the bearing of this on the nation of Israel we should say that none of these six things has happened yet. (1) This prophecy has them in view and, as far as Israel is concerned, their transgression has not yet been taken away. (2) Their sins are still upon them. (3) Though Christ has made atonement, Israel is still blinded in unbelief and unconverted. (4) The righteousness of the ages is not come. (This world is full of unrighteousness; the righteousness of the ages looks to the millennial reign of Christ.) (5) The vision is still a sealed message to Israel. (6) The Holy of holies is not yet anointed, for the simple reason that there is at present no such thing—the temple on Mount Zion has not yet been built, but it will be. Thus these six things for Israel are all still in the future, though the atoning work on which they rest—the death of Christ upon the Cross—has been a matter of history these 1900 years.
These 70 weeks, or 490 years, are divided in our text into three portions. One was to last 7 weeks, or 49 years, the second portion, 69 weeks, or 434 years, and then the final one week, or seven years. The first period began at the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem, which history has plainly established was issued in 445 B.C., and the Bible tells us by whom, as we shall see in a moment. This decree has no reference to the edict given by Cyrus the Persian, as recorded in Ezra 1:1-4:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (he is the God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
This had to do with the rebuilding of the temple, not with the city of Jerusalem, which is the subject of the decree in our chapter. The act by Cyrus had been foretold by Isaiah the prophet perhaps 200 years or so before this king came on the scene. God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isa. 44:28). This proclamation by Cyrus is recorded in II Chronicles 36:22, 23 as follows:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
The above is repeated, as we saw already, in the opening verses of the book of Ezra, and repeated in a similar manner in Ezra 5:13-15. This temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius the king (Ezra 6:15). The decree by Cyrus to rebuild the temple was given in 536 B.C.; for that was the first year of his reign, while the decree to rebuild the city (not the temple) was given in 445 B.C. by Artaxerxes, or 91 years after Cyrus’ proclamation. What about these 91 years between these two proclamations? For many years this puzzled me, for we know from Nehemiah 2:1 that Nehemiah was sent by Axtaxerxes to rebuild the city in the twentieth year of the reign of that monarch. History confirms that Artaxerxes began to reign in 465 B.C., so that the twentieth year of his rule brings us to 445 B.C., the year the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem was given, to which Daniel 9:25 refers. We know from the book of Nehemiah (chapter 2) that this commandment to rebuild Jerusalem was given to Nehemiah himself. Now in the book of Nehemiah (8:9) we see Ezra and Nehemiah in the land of Israel together, yet Ezra had gone back to the land 91 years before—in 536 B.C., under Cyrus’ permission. How could these two, 91 years apart, be in the land at the same time? I say this puzzled me for many years until I began to do a little checking and found out my blunder. And the blunder was that I had always taken for granted that Ezra came to the land when Cyrus issued his edict, because he writes all about it in his book, even giving the names of all those who went back to the land at that time. But I found out I was wrong in that assumption; I learned the lesson never to assume anything when it concerns the Word of God. Ezra himself tells us when he returned to the land; he did not go with the first group for the simple reason he had not been born yet at that time; he did not go until 78 years later. In Ezra 7:6, 7 he reveals that he went back in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, the same king who gave Nehemiah permission to return to re- build Jerusalem. The seventh year of Artaxerxes was the year 458 B.C., for this Artaxerxes began to reign in 465 B.C. Since the decree to rebuild the temple was issued by Cyrus in 536 B.C. and Ezra did not go to the land until 458 B.C., Ezra went back 78 years after those whom he mentions in the opening of his book. Ezra wasn’t there at the time of the opening chapters of his book (he wasn’t born yet), though he was used of God to record those events. This taught me the lesson not to take things for granted. You will notice in reading Ezra that his name is never mentioned in the first six chapters (he was not there), but in chapter 7 he tells us that he then went up from Babylon in 458 B.C., 78 years later. And Nehemiah tells us that he went in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, or 13 years after Ezra did, who tells us he went in the seventh year of that same king. Ezra went to Jerusalem 78 years after Cyrus’ decree; Nehemiah went 13 years later, or 91 years altogether.
There are three periods of time totalling 91 years between the two decrees (the one to rebuild the temple, the other to restore the city), and these periods are defined for us in Ezra and Nehemiah. First, many went back under Cyrus’ edict in 536 B.C. They rebuilt the temple, and Ezra tells us (6:15) they finished the job in the sixth year of Darius; this was 516 B.C., or 20 years after they started building. Second, as we have seen already, Ezra went to Jerusalem in 458 B.C., or 58 years after the temple had been finished. Third, Nehemiah came in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, or 13 years after Ezra did; adding 20 to 58 to 13 brings 91 years, or the total between Cyrus’ order and that of Artaxerxes.
Now let us say again that the command to rebuild and restore Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25) was given by Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. and was given to Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1). After the end of the 70 years of captivity in Babylon, when Cyrus issued his decree, apparently only comparatively few went back; most of the Jews stayed in the land of Babylon including the ancestors of Ezra and Nehemiah. We see this same thing today. Now when many Jews have gone back to the land of Israel, vastly more stay in the land of their adoption, wherever that might be (millions in the United States). They seem perfectly content to do so; it was so then. The whole book of Esther is set in the land of Babylon long years after the 70-year exile had ended. The Ahasuerus of Esther 1:1 is the Xerxes of history, who began his reign (c. 485 B.C.) more than 50 years after the 70-year exile had ended.
The seven sevens, or 49 years, first mentioned in our text cover the years (and more) in which Nehemiah and others were rebuilding the city. This is described in detail by Nehemiah in his book. Our text says those were troublous times, as Nehemiah tells us. The Jews were harassed by the enemy without and by the discouragement and dullness of the Jews within (Ezra 9; 10; Nehemiah).
This first period is followed by 62 times seven years, or 434 years, making, with the first 49 years, a total of 483 years. Verse 26 of our chapter shows that these 483 years, beginning in 445 B.C., ended at the Cross of Christ, when Messiah was cut off. Sir Robert Anderson has shown conclusively the accuracy of this prediction, for those 483 years exactly reached to the death of Christ. The decree in 445 B.C. was given in the month Nisan (Neh. 2:1), which is our month of March. Luke 3:1 shows that our Lord began His public ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, well known in historical records as coming into power in A.D. 14, so that the fifteenth year of his reign would be A.D. 29, the year of the first passover of our Lord’s public life. His crucifixion took place on the fourth passover of His ministry, which brings us to A.D. 32. In accordance with Jewish customs our Lord went up to Jerusalem on the eighth of Nisan, which fell that year on Friday. Having spent the sabbath at Bethany, He entered the holy city the following day. The Julian date of that tenth of Nisan was Sunday, the sixth of April, A.D. 32. Between March 14 of 445 B.C. and April 6, A.D. 32, there are exactly, to the very day, 173,880 days. Changing these into years of 360 days, as the Jews reckon, we have 483 years, as foretold by Daniel in our chapter (vv. 25, 26). The Lord entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, April 6, which brings the date of His resurrection on the next Lord’s day, April 13. Today Easter is celebrated on various days, but the actual, factual date of our Lord’s resurrection is on the Lord’s day, April 13.
These statistics are convincing and clearly established by those who have checked historical data. It is enough for us ordinary Christians to know that our wonderworking God knew and told all this hundreds of years before it was to come to pass. We are, by these facts, absolutely sure that the Jesus who hung upon the Cross and rose from the tomb on the Lord’s day, April 13, is the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
And now verse 26, after recording the death of Christ, gives us further facts concerning what awaited the Jews—facts which are now history but the accuracy of which again proves this book to be the word of the living God. Verse 26 tells us about the nation of Israel, about their land, their city, their temple, and their sufferings. The Lord Himself prophesied that “they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The chief priests and Pharisees in their blindness had foretold the same things saying, “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:48). They did not leave Him alone, yet these very things still happened. Our text prophesied these things. Jerusalem and the temple were to be destroyed, as happened in A.D. 70 under Titus. Tens of thousands of Jews were massacred and the rest carried captive into all nations, and Israel for many centuries ceased to be a nation. This, we know now, was done by the Roman power, called in our verse “the people of the prince that shall come.” Our Lord Himself warned of this coming catastrophe, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:1, 2).
The Seventieth Week—The Future Seven Years
The prince that shall come (v. 26) will make a covenant with many in Israel for those final seven years. Since we know the people of this “prince” are the Romans, it will mean that there will again be a Roman power in the future and that its ruler will make a treaty with Israel (v. 27). There is nothing even in the faintest degree in Scripture to suggest any such thing in the past, so this final seven years is future. There could not have been a covenant with Israel for the simple reason that there has been no Israel as a nation for centuries. The book of Revelation enlarges, in no uncertain terms, on those coming seven years. There is thus an intermission here of at least 1900 years between verses 26 and 27. Verse 26 treats of Israel’s destruction by the Roman power (now in the past) when their temple and their city were destroyed; verse 27 talks of Israel’s alliance with the Romans in the future. This interval of some 1900 years is ignored here (because God is writing concerning Israel and not about the church), but it does exist between these two verses. It is the period in which we live, when God is gathering out of the world a body of believers known as His church, composed of those Jews and Gentiles who accept Christ as their Savior. Any number of scriptures in the Bible suggest this “parenthesis” of this day of grace. In Romans 11:25 and 26 we learn, for instance, that while blindness in part has afflicted Israel, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” God is gathering to take home to glory a vast number of believers to Himself, whose home and inheritance is heaven, while the earth is Israel’s future home. When the church is complete, Israel will again be taken up by our Lord; the Deliverer will come to them. It is that final, future dealing of God with Israel that Daniel 9:27 has in view.
The future Roman leader (we have repeatedly mentioned him as the “beast” of Rev. 13) will make a league with Israel, the nation which is now already and will be then in their own land. No doubt the treaty is made for political purposes, probably for Israel’s protection from the many hostile powers surrounding that little country. He makes this covenant, not with all the people, but with the many, because godly Jews will refuse to have anything to do with this blaspheming apostate (Rev. 13:5). In the midst of this seven-year covenant, the Roman dictator will show his true colors and will force idolatrous worship on Israel and will cause to cease the worship of the true God (v. 27). This will lead to the fierce and deadly persecution of the Jews—their great tribulation. That this ruler causes the sacrifices to cease shows that the temple in Jerusalem must have been rebuilt at this time (II Thess. 2:4; Rev. 11:1, 2). Bitter persecution will break loose on those who refuse to worship the image of the beast (Rev. 13). He makes war with the saints (again let us say, this means the Jewish saints, for the church—God’s heavenly saints—have been caught up to glory before this). His power, during those years of persecution, is to last three and a half years (Rev. 13:5; Rev. 11:2, 3, 9). These three and a half years are the years of the great tribulation, so frequently mentioned in the book of Revelation. We see those same three and a half years in chapter 12 of Revelation. The woman persecuted for that length of time (Rev. 12:14) is Israel, for the opening verses of that chapter show this. She gave birth to the Savior, and she is hounded for the last three and a half years by Satan, who has been cast out of heaven in the middle of this last week of Daniel, at the very time this Roman ruler sets up the image in the temple for worship. Satan, in his madness, uses this “beast” as a tool to demand divine worship for himself. There is no doubt it is he who urges the Roman “beast” to break his league with Israel, and to kill those who refuse to bow to his will.
Our Lord speaks of this same tribulation to start at the beginning of those last three and a half years, for He says that when the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stands in the holy place it is time to flee (Matt. 24:15, 16). Now Daniel 9:27 shows that this abomination is not set up until the middle of the seven-year period of Israel’s future. The Lord Jesus speaks of that time of bitter woe when He says (Matt. 10) that His disciples would be persecuted in that day, and that those (His messengers) with the message that the kingdom of Christ was at hand should not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man has come. The coming of the Son of Man takes place in the last days, so here in Matthew 10 our Lord describes the day of Israel’s tribulation just before their Lord shall come in power and glory to deliver them.
Yes, Daniel speaks of a period of tragic horror for Israel (and in a large measure affecting the whole world too) for three and a half years. It makes me think of two other periods of time which lasted three and a half years, as given in the Bible: (1) The three and a half years of famine in Elijah’s day (Jas. 5:17). (2) The three and a half years of our Lord’s public ministry. I cannot help but feel there is a distinct analogy here in relation to the three and a half years of the great tribulation. Note that both of these times ended at the Cross. Elijah reared up an altar at the end of that fearful time of God’s judgment, and that altar certainly typifies the Cross of Christ. At the end of our Lord’s three and a half years of ministry there stood His Cross. Elijah’s three and a half years of ministry was one of judgment; our Lord’s was a ministry of grace. Both of these features will be prominent during the three and a half years of the great tribulation. To many it will result in the outpouring of God’s judgment upon them; to many others it will mean eternal salvation, for many will be saved during those years as the gospel of the kingdom will be preached by the Jewish messengers. That double result—salvation for some and judgment for others—is seen so graphically in the other two periods. At the close of the period of judgment in Elijah’s day the nation turned to God in repentance as Elijah reared up the altar (typifying the Cross); at the close of the ministry of grace on the part of our blessed Lord, the people turned from Him and crucified Him. The Cross stood for Israel’s salvation in Elijah’s day, for Israel’s damnation in our Lord’s day. The same two-fold result will occur during the tribulation. And the central feature in each of these three periods is the Cross of Christ. In the day of Israel’s restoration to the worship of Jehovah (Elijah’s day) stood the Cross; at the end of Christ’s ministry stood the Cross; and at the end of the tribulation once more is seen the Cross, for Israel shall look on Him Whom they pierced (at the Cross) and shall in deep repentance be restored to Him and be saved through the merits of His precious blood shed on that Cross. For the ungodly then, as now, that Cross will be their eternal doom, and the three and a half years of “another chance here on earth” will end in their eternal perdition. On account of the abominations there shall be a desolator. On account of Israel’s apostasy God will send a scourge against them in their land. We have previously looked at him as the man with the fierce countenance—the king of the north—who will invade the land, of whom we will hear more at the close of chapter 11. He will continue until the end (the consummation in v. 27) and then the judgment of God will fall on this desolator—this northern power of Israel’s future day. We shall hear more of this later. No dates are given in Scripture for all this; it is not for us to know “the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7).