|A345 : by Tony Garland |
Yes, this is indeed how Gabriel’s words to Daniel indeed appear to come across.
I think one of the messages of how the prophecy seems reversed in the sense of the order in which it describes great blessings before negative predictions is this: because of human sin, great suffering is often required on the path by which God eventually brings tremendous blessing.
A lot of history and pain is wrapped up in some of the phrases, for example: "to finish the transgression" — especially when one considers how blind and hard-hearted Israel (and by extension, humanity) can be. Mankind seems dedicated to remaining in transgression.
In the case of Israel, God will be using a historically unique period of time—the time of greatest suffering ever for Israel (Dan 12:1,7; Jer. 30:7,24; Hos. 5:15 cf. Deu. 4:30)—to turn the hard-hearts of the nation to recognize their Messiah, Jesus.
So, it appears, in the face of human stubbornness and propensity to reject God, the path to eventual blessing runs straight through intense tribulation.
Consider what Daniel's thoughts might have been upon hearing the answer to his intercession!
Here he is in Babylon, miles and miles from the city of the King, Jerusalem—which has lain in ruins for nearly 70 years. Alas, Gabriel reveals that Daniel's sought-after desire, the rebuilding and restoration of Jerusalem, will indeed come to fruition (Dan. 9:25) . . . only to be destroyed once again in response to Messiah being cut off (Dan. 9:26)! How bitter-sweet!
If the people's rebellion against God which had led to the Babylonian captivity wasn't enough, now Gabriel reveals that although the city will be rebuilt again—it will ultimately be for naught because Israel is headed for an even bigger historical disaster than the idolatry that led them to Babylon in captivity: the rejection and crucifixion of their own promised Messiah!
One can only wonder how Ezra, Nehemiah, and others must have felt in their efforts rebuilding the city at the end of the Babylonian captivity if the full sense of Gabriel's words to Daniel had been understood: all their effort was destined to be undone in a subsequent destruction!
In many ways, this prophecy of the 70 weeks for Israel and Jerusalem is, in miniature form, a model of God's working with the world-at large. As we see from the book of Revelation, the ultimate blessings and peace of the new heavens and earth only come after enormous upheaval, destruction, and suffering—still to come. The dawn of the millennial morning only arrives after the darkest part of the night has passed.
This pattern of darkness and suffering on the road to blessing is not something God desires, but a measure of the inability and unwillingness of humanity to take the path of wisdom and blessing rather than the path of disobedience (2Chr. 24:19; Ne. 9:30; Isa. 28:12; 42:24; Jer. 13:11; 1Cor. 2:8).
We are blessed by a God Who refuses to leave us to our rebellious ways and cares enough about the world and His chosen nation to literally drag us kicking and screaming across the finish line to a dawn of restoration and peace!
Praise His Holy Name!!!