The prophet Ezekiel proclaimed the end of the line of the kings of Judah to his fellow exiles in Babylon. This was self-evident to his audience, as they knew that whoever was still alive of these kings and their children was also in exile with them. Nebuchadnezzar had ravaged Jerusalem, its walls, and its Temple, and there now seemed to be no future or hope left for the people or their former nation. They were powerless against this strongest of empires on earth.
But Ezekiel had one more message from the Lord: Israel would one day be restored under a new King, a Messiah who would reign forever and whose kingdom would be without limit. The failed former princes of Israel whose kingly line had almost continuously led the people away from God would be punished and stripped of their rights and authority. But a new, worthy Prince, also in the line of David, was coming to bring Israel’s restoration.
24 “Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: ‘Because you have made your guilt known, in that your offenses are uncovered, so that in all your deeds your sins are seen—because you have come to mind, you will be seized by the hand. 25 And you, slain, wicked one, the prince of Israel, whose day has come, in the time of the punishment of the end,’ 26 this is what the Lord God says: ‘Remove the turban and take off the crown; this will no longer be the same. Exalt that which is low, and humble that which is high. 27 Ruins, ruins, ruins, I will make it! This also will be no longer until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.’ Ezekiel 21:24-27 (NASB)
Jesus, the Messiah would come, and would also emphasize that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
But when will this Messiah come? How long would Israel have to wait?
Around the same time that the prophet Ezekiel was giving the Lord’s messages to the exiles in the countryside of Babylon, another prophet, Daniel, had been placed by God in Nebuchadnezzar’s temple. It was Daniel who was given a prophecy about when Messiah would come.
25 So you are to know and understand that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with streets and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. Daniel 9:25-26 (NASB)
Most Bible scholars interpret each of these “weeks” as a group of seven lunar years, with each week totaling seven times 360, or 2,520 days. Daniel’s time period of “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” adds up to the equivalent of 173,880 days. Using a modern calendar, this equals 476 years. Messiah would be coming almost five hundred years after the exile.
Daniel’s prophecy states that Messiah the Prince will come 476 years after the decree is given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Most Bible scholars link this event with the commission by King Artaxerxes for Nehemiah to return from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, which happened around 445 BC.
Thus, the prophecy foretells that Messiah the Prince will be coming around the time of Jesus’ ministry, 30 AD. It also tells us that Messiah will be “cut off”, or killed, which refers to Jesus’ crucifixion. Though Jesus was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, His physical reign as King on earth would not begin at this time. In the meantime, Jerusalem would also experience Daniel’s prophesied destruction, both the city and its sanctuary in the rebuilt Temple, during a siege by the Roman Titus in 70 AD.
What about today? Like many other prophets, Daniel tells us that Messiah will return one day to rule and reign, but only after a time of great trial that will cover the earth like a flood. After these seven years of tribulation, Daniel’s seventieth and final “week”, Jesus will return to fully restore Israel and establish it as the seat of a global kingdom of peace.
Although Jesus’ physical kingdom has not yet been set up on earth, His spiritual kingdom is alive and well here. He is inviting each one of us to join Him. When we surrender our will and our lives over to Him, we find that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. He has also promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Lord, we depend upon You for life and breath each moment of every day. Thank You for being there in love as we awoke this morning. Help us to walk in the Light with You today and to experience the goodness, joy, and forgiveness that You have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.