The Prophecy - Daniel 9:24-27 - Daniel's 70 Weeks
Old Testament Prophecy
24) Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
25) So you are to know and discern 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 plaza 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.
27) And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
Desolations are Determined - Decreed: It is God who decrees and determines the amount of destruction.(1) Although God decreed the desolation that came upon Israel including the destruction of the Second Temple, it is only for a limited time.
There is a reversal now with Jews being re-gathered from the four corners of the world setting the stage for the return of the Messiah. After His return, with no more wars, a true peace lasting 1,000 years and the King of all Kings to rule over the entire area, this land will become the exact opposite of desolate. The splendor of another Temple to worship at in Jerusalem will exist on the Temple Mount.
God is sovereign and either causes or allows all things to happen.
How long the desolation is to occur we are not sure. Today, there are areas of Israel that are growing back as God re-gathers Israel back home. But we do know what it was like to visit there 140 years ago.
Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in 1867, shortly before the commencement of modern Jewish resettlement, and described it as “a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent, mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action.” According to the careful population figures of the Ottoman Empire, in 1882 (at the very beginning of the modern, organized Jewish immigration back to the ancestral home), the total population of land between the Jordan and the Sea was less than 250,000 – in an area that today supports ten million people, Israelis and Palestinians.
This Is What Mark Twain Wrote:
Which all of us will freely grant. But it truly is "monotonous and uninviting," and there is no sufficient reason for describing it as being otherwise.
Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee sleep in the midst of a vast stretch of hill and plain wherein the eye rests upon no pleasant tint, no striking object, no soft picture dreaming in a purple haze or mottled with the shadows of the clouds. Every outline is harsh, every feature is distinct, there is no perspective--distance works no enchantment here. It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land.
Small shreds and patches of it must be very beautiful in the full flush of spring, however, and all the more beautiful by contrast with the far- reaching desolation that surrounds them on every side. I would like much to see the fringes of the Jordan in spring-time, and Shechem, Esdraelon, Ajalon and the borders of Galilee--but even then these spots would seem mere toy gardens set at wide intervals in the waste of a limitless desolation.
Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists--over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead-- about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye.
Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.
Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land?(2)
Till after the final war waged by the Messianic King and the war of Gog and Magog, desolation is decreed for the city (Rashi) (3)
Desolation Of Israel As A People:
Desolation may also include the Jewish people themselves both inside and outside of the land. Not only were around 1 million Jews killed in A.D. 70 but another 500,000 were killed in A.D.132-134. Also another 100,000 were killed in Bavaria and Austria in A.D.1298, along with 400,000 more killed during the Russian-Polish-Swedish war in 1648-1658. Still yet millions more died in the Holocaust at the hands of Nazi Germany between 1935 and 1945.
Here are some links that have been created to help move around inside of the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy.
Other links of interest include:
1). Pter-Contesse, Ren. Ellington, John: A Handbook on the Book of Daniel. New York : United Bible Societies, 1993 (UBS Handbook Series; Helps for Translators), S. 256
2). Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad Chapter LVI. (http://twain.thefreelibrary.com/The-Innocents-Abroad/52-1)
3). ArtScroll Tanach Series on Daniel p.264.