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of a jubilee, and begin and end with actions proper for a jubilee, and of the highest nature for which a jubilee can be kept; and that since the commandment to return and to build Jerusalem precedes the Messiah, the Prince, forty-nine years, it may, perhaps, come forth, not from the Jews themselves, but from some other kingdom friendly to them, and precede their return from captivity, and give occasion to it; and, lastly, that this building of Jerusalem and the waste places of Judah is predicted in Micah, vii. 11; Amos, ix. 11, 14; Ezek. xxxvi. 33, 35, 36, 38; Isaiah, liv. 3, 11, 12; lv. 12; lxi. 4; lxv. 18, 21, 22; and Tobit, xiv. 5; and that the return from captivity and coming of the Messiah and his kingdom are described in Daniel, vii.; Rev. xix.; Acts, i.; Matt. xxiv.; Joel, iii. ; Ezek. xxxvi.; xxxvii.; Isaiah, lx.; lxii.; lxiii.; Ixv.; and lxvi.; and many other places of Scripture. The manner I know not. Let time be the interpreter.”
I continue Newton's translation and exposition.
« Yet threescore and two weeks shall it return, and the street shall be built and the wall, but in troublesome times : and after the threescore and two weeks the MESSIAH shall be cut off, and it shall not be his; but the people of a Prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
Having foretold both comings of Christ, and dated the last from their returning and building Jerusalem, to prevent the applying that to the building Jerusalem by Nehemiah, he distinguishes this from that, by saying, that from this period to the Anointed shall be, not seven weeks, but threescore and two weeks, and this not in prosperous, but in troublesome times; and at the end of these weeks, the Messiah shall not be the Prince of the Jews, but be cut off; and Jerusalem not be his, but the
city and sanctuary be destroyed.” Sir Isaac Newton dates these sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirtyfour years, from the coming of Nehemiah to Jerusalem to the birth of Christ.!
“ And the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading' of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate,"--or, on the wing or pinnacle of the temple shall be the desolating abominations, even until the consummation and that determined be poured upon
The confirming of the covenant with many is generally referred to the ministry of Christ and his apostles, by which means a remnant of Jews, according to the election of grace, were called out of a nation doomed to speedy destruction, “ because they knew not the time of their visitation.” In the midst of this period,—the day of grace, as it were, to the Jewish church,—which seems to have included our Lord's personal ministry, and the efficient period of the ministry of the apostles “ to them of the circumcision :" in the midst of this period, the death of the Redeemer fulfilled and so caused to cease the daily oblation of the Jewish temple, the shadow of good things to come. Many interpreters, however, with Mr. Lowth, suppose the week to terminate with the death of Christ, and translate, " in the last part of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease." These interpreters include the
See Sir Isaac Newton, p. 135.
ministry of John the Baptist in the week of the covenant, and suppose his ministry to have lasted three years and a half.
The destruction by the Roman armies is next foretold, and is couched in language very similar to a former prophecy of Isaiah :
A remnant shall be restored by him,
And it is remarkable that, as has been already observed, the earlier fathers interpreted," the making of the covenant for one week,” and “ the causing the oblation and sacrifice to cease," of future transactions in the last triumph of Antichrist. And this will, perhaps, receive some countenance from Isaiah, xxxii. 7, 8, 9. “He hath broken the covenant - he hath despised the cities.”
The reader will not fail to discover some analogy between this and the last prophecy, in respect of the mysterious dates annexed to them. In the prophecy before us, an event, which is clearly designated as being the finishing of our redemption in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is foretold to come to pass after seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years. The epocha from whence these four hundred and ninety. years were to be dated, though it seems to be marked by “the going forth of a decree to restore Jerusalem,” could not be clearly ascertained so as to remove all uncertainty, till the wonderful era had transpired.
The pious Israelites that waited for the appearing of the Messiah would naturally first have fixed upon the date
of the vision, B. C. 550. But the year 60 before Christ, which is four hundred and ninety years from that date, would show no appearance of the accomplishment of their hopes.
Their thoughts would next, with confidence, fix on the celebrated edict of Cyrus for the return of the captives from Babylon, and the rebuilding of their temple. This edict went forth in the year B. C. 536. This would have fixed their expectation on the year B. C. 46.
That anxious hope not realized, they would next look to the year B. C. 30, which completed seventy weeks from a second edict to rebuild Jerusalem, issued in the year 520. But still, as many as “ looked for redemption in Jerusalem” were again doomed to be disappointed. The Spirit of prophecy, as the event has shown, meant to date the seventy weeks from a subsequent epocha, from the royal decree, sixty years later still, which Ezra carried into execution B. C. 457, or 8.
And it is interesting to remember, that all these dates must have exercised the faith and expectations of Anna and Simeon, so celebrated in the Gospel story: and we seem to discern a peculiar kindness in the revelation made to the latter, “ That he should not see death till he had seen the Lord's Christ."
It is most probable he had expected the coming of the Messiah in connexion with the year 60, and again in 46 B. C.; and having seen that pass in vain, and the year 30 too, must now have begun to despair, indeed, that he should ever live to see “ the consolation of Israel.”
So they, perhaps, who are now endeavouring from the same word of prophecy, to make out the dates respecting the second advent, which the church is generally convinced must be near approaching, may several times be disappointed in their calculations, though built on the best grounded conjectures. But though he seem to tarry, we are bid to wait for him; and there is a blessing for him whom, when he cometh, his Lord shall find waiting. The description of his faithful people is, that they “ are not in darkness, that that day should overtake them as a thief,” which is most encouraging to the students of prophecy.
The Last Prophecy of Daniel. It now remains to consider the last prophecy contained in the book of Daniel. This is not, as the former prophecies are, revealed in vision; but is a plain narration made to Daniel by an angelic being, commissioned by the WORD OF God to show to him “ what is written in the Scriptures of truth :"
14. “ Now I am come,” says the angel, “ to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days."
It falls not within my design to follow the angel while he traces, in the subsequent history of Persia and Grecia, those events which would most concern the welfare of the remnant of Israel, situated, as they were, in the midst between the two most powerful kingdoms established by the successors of Alexander, Syria on the north, and Egypt on the south. The design of the present work will only permit us to take up the narrative where it introduces the interference of the fourth, or Roman empire: because, as we have before learned, in