- Lesson 11 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Faith Under Fire” focuses on Daniel 9:23-27.
The 490 in this passage is symbolic, because it represents a complete release from evil for God’s people. While every interpreter sees symbolism in the number, many interpreters also believe the 490 years are to be taken as literal calendar years. These interpreters, however, face a maze of options, making the actual dates involved difficult to pinpoint. Put another way, the literal interpreters do not even come close to agreeing on a starting point and, thus, ending point of the 490 years, as there are many choices for the starting date—and ending date—of the period.
The dates are less than certain. And “fixing” the calculation seems confusing at best and manipulating the math at worst. Therefore, it seems best to see the numbers as symbolic, the ultimate Jubilee covering the period from 538 B.C.—the date of Cyrus’ decree that the Jews may return to the land—until the second coming of Christ, when all is accomplished for Christ’s kingdom. Old Testament scholar John Goldingay summarizes it best: “… the attempt to interpret as chronology figures that are not amenable to any consistently literal interpretation may be misguided… .” None of the literal interpretations are completely convincing, and the fact that Old Testament scholars themselves cannot agree should lead everyone to humility in approaching the passage. Literal or symbolic, however, the 490 years represents the accomplishment of Christ’s kingdom—all that matters in the end.
God will take care of it all
The reason that the ultimate Jubilee is celebrated is because God will accomplish all that needs to be accomplished during the seventy sabbaticals (490-year period). These accomplishments are described as (a) the finishing of transgression; (b) the end of sin; (c) the atonement for iniquity; (d) the bringing of everlasting righteousness; (e) the sealing up of vision and prophecy; and (f) the anointment of the most holy (v. 24).
The first three actions describe the eradication of evil. They recall the content of Daniel’s prayer, where he used multiple words to acknowledge Israel’s sin before God—sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, rebelled and turned aside from the commandments (v.5). God’s answer, communicated through Gabriel, is that God will take care of the sin, as atonement will be accomplished. The last three actions are positive in their culmination of everlasting righteousness, the approval of prophecy (seal of approval), and the anointing of “the holy,” either a place (the temple) or a person (the Messiah).
Taken together, “vision and prophecy” is most likely a reference to “prophetic vision.” So, Gabriel was revealing to Daniel how Jeremiah’s words (Jeremiah 25:11-12) ultimately would be “sealed” or “confirmed.” “To anoint the holy” (literally holy of holies) is likely a reference to a person and not a place. It could be translated “most holy one.” In fact, no anointing is ever reported of Solomon’s temple nor the temple rebuilt under Ezra.
Remember, Jesus is, by definition, the “Anointed One” (Messiah or Christ). He is, in fact, anointed as both priest and king (cf. Zechariah 6:13; Psalm 110:4; Matthew 27:11; Hebrews 4:14-15; 5:6). Jesus, moreover, was the true temple, one that would be torn down (crucifixion) and rebuilt in three days (resurrection, John 2:18-22; cf. Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58). The early temple is a foreshadowing of Jesus, the true temple, as he ultimately becomes the locus of God’s presence, glory, revelation and the ultimate source of sacrifice.
Based on commentary written by Howard Batson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Amarillo, as condensed by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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