Daniel and Jeremiah were two righteous prophets of God who were fatefully linked together regarding events that occurred before, during, and after the desolations of Jerusalem and the first temple. Jeremiah became a prophet in Jerusalem in 627 BC. Daniel was taken captive during the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 605 BC and became a prophet of God a few years later. Most scholars believe they did not know each other personally. Jeremiah preached and prophesied to the Jews in Jerusalem, and Daniel prophesied from Babylon.
Daniel 9:2 says, “in the first year of his (Darius) reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
Before Daniel received his vision and prophecy concerning the 70 weeks/sevens, he was reading the books of Jeremiah and knew from the prophet’s word that the 70 years of Judah’s captivity in Babylon were about to expire. Some scholars believe Daniel also had access to the Torah (and maybe even Isaiah’s book) as well. Before we finish the rest of Daniel’s story, let’s go back in time and history and look at the life of Jeremiah and how he influenced Daniel with his word.
HISTORY OF JEREMIAH AND THE BOOK OF THE LAW
Jeremiah became a prophet in the 13th year of King Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2). Five years later, in 622 BC, the book of the law of Moses (the Torah) was found in the temple by Hilkiah the high priest (who was also the father of Jeremiah) when it was being repaired. The book evidently had been collecting cobwebs for about 74 years during the evil reigns of Manasseh and Amon, Josiah’s grandfather and father. The first thing Josiah did was to observe the Passover by making sacrifices according to the rituals of the book of the Law (Covenant).
“And there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a Passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 35:18).
Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, became king of Judah after his father’s death in 609 BC. His evil reign in Jerusalem lasted for only three months. Eliakim, or Jehoiakim, Josiah’s other son, became king of Judah after this, and his evil reign lasted for 11 years until 598 BC. His son, Jehoiachin, then became king of Judah. He was evil as well and only ruled until 597 BC when Nebuchadnezzar took him and many others captive during the second siege of Jerusalem.
“And he (king of Babylon) carried out all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house” (2 Kings 24:13).
This is when I believe the book of the law (Torah or Pentateuch), Jeremiah’s books, and probably others (such as Isaiah’s) were taken to Babylon where they remained even after the Persians conquered the Babylonians in 539 BC. They eventually found their way to Ezra after the exiles returned to Jerusalem to build the second temple. Mattaniah, or Zedekiah, was the last king of Judah and ruled from 597-586 BC.
Here are a few verses Jeremiah wrote that are partial quotes from the book of Deuteronomy, although Deuteronomy doesn’t mention a king by name.
“I will send Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment [shammah], and a hissing, and perpetual desolations” (Jeremiah 25:11).
Now compare that verse to Deuteronomy 28:37: “The Lord shall bring you, and your king which you shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known; and there shall you serve other gods, wood and stone. And you shall become an astonishment [shammah], a proverb, and a byword, among all nations wherever the Lord shall lead you.”
“Circumcise [mul] yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins [orlah] of your heart, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: or my fury will come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:4).
Now compare that verse to Deuteronomy 10:16: “Circumcise [mul] therefore the foreskin [orlah)] of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.”
I believe Jeremiah was definitely quoting specific verses from the book of Deuteronomy when he wrote his books in Jerusalem.
THE NEW COVENANT IN THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
When Christians think of the “new covenant” (first used in Matthew 26:28), we think of Jesus in the New Testament when He shed his holy blood for the remission of sins. This new covenant is available to both Jews and Gentiles who believe that the Lord Jesus is Christ. But did you know that the words “new covenant” were first mentioned in the Old Testament by Jeremiah in approximately 605 BC, about the same time he prophesied about Judah’s 70-year captivity? 605 BC was also the same year Daniel was taken captive by the Babylonians.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
According to these verses in Jeremiah, this is a different covenant than the old Mosaic covenant. It will replace the old covenant. This new covenant is also between the LORD and all twelve tribes of Israel. There is no mention of any other recipient in this prophecy by Jeremiah at this time. In this regard, it is similar to Daniel’s prophecy of 70 sevens.
The new covenant that Jeremiah prophesied about in Jeremiah 31:31 was first initiated when Jesus Christ shed his blood and died on the cross for the sins of mankind and was supernaturally confirmed when He was raised from the dead. Gotquestions.org describes the new covenant this way: “The New Covenant (or New Testament) is the promise that God makes with humanity that He will forgive sin and restore fellowship with those whose hearts are turned toward Him. Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant, and His death on the cross is the basis of the promise.”
This description is based largely on the scripture in the book of Hebrews. “For this reason, He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).
The new covenant replaces the old Mosaic covenant for those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God and our sin substitute. The old covenant’s blood sacrifices only atoned or covered up sin temporarily, while Jesus’ blood sacrifice forgives sin permanently for those who believe in Him. Jesus fulfilled the law so that a better covenant could be established with the faithful people of God.
The words “new covenant” or “new testament’ are found 11 times in the New Testament and once in the Old Testament. Jesus first uses the term when he shares the Passover meal with his disciples. This was the last Passover he would observe before his death the following day.
“As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29).
With this act, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, which we as believers re-enact when we take communion. “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:25-26).
Jeremiah prophesied about the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) more than six centuries before Jesus used it. Moses (Deuteronomy 30:1-6) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:22-37) also alluded to it. The author of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah:
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.”
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, Know the Lord for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. In that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:7-13).
Before the Church of Jesus Christ was established and the Holy Spirit was given, the new covenant was first offered to Israel, as the above verses stipulate. Jesus’ ministry and his first converts were all Jews.
“These twelve [disciples] Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Another example is found in Matthew 15:21-28. “And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, you son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came to him, saying, Send her away; for she cries after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not correct to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is your faith: be it unto you even as you will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
Daniel was a visionary (and a dreamer) in the truest sense of the word. He always received his word from the LORD in a dream or vision. “As for these four children [Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah], God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17).
Fourteen years before Daniel’s vision of Gabriel and the prophecy of the 70 sevens, he had a vision of four Gentile kingdoms that would dominate the world before God’s kingdom on earth was given dominion. In this vision, the fourth kingdom is taken over by a beast that is more dreadful than his counterparts. This beast speaks pompous words against the Most High and persecutes His saints until his dominion is taken away from him and he is destroyed. In Daniel’s vision, he sees the Ancient of Days (God, the Father) being approached by One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven.
“Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed…. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:14, 27).
Because of this vision, Daniel understood there was coming a Messiah that would establish his everlasting kingdom. He just didn’t know when. This Son of Man is none other than the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, who mostly referred to himself as “the Son of Man.” In 539 BC, Daniel the prophet was still in Babylon and was reading the books of Jeremiah. He read Jeremiah’s passage regarding the Branch of Righteousness in the 23rd chapter of Jeremiah.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Of course, Daniel also read Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the 70-year judgment against Israel. The reason for the judgment was given in Jeremiah 25:5-6:
“Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands, and I will not harm you.”
2 Chronicles 36:14 puts it this way: “Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the Lord which He had consecrated in Jerusalem.”
Apparently, Israel had failed to observe the land’s one-year-in-seven sabbath for 490 years, so the term of the Babylonian captivity was set at 70 years to make up the deficit. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 says, “And they that had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia. To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” This is a reference to Jeremiah’s 70 years of desolation prophesied in 25:11. “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
After reading Jeremiah’s books (and the book of the law) and realizing the 70 years of desolations and captivity were nearing completion, Daniel began to pray, asking God’s forgiveness for the sins of his people and pleading for the restoration of Jerusalem and Israel’s imminent return to their land. It was a genuinely righteous prayer and is found in Daniel 9:1-19. By praying fervently to God and asking for forgiveness of Israel’s corporate sins, Daniel was attempting to bring about the promise of national restoration found in Leviticus 26:40-45.
“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt— then I will remember My covenant with Jacob and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.
“The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes. Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But for their sake, I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”
In 539 BC, Daniel prayed for the 70-year Babylonian exile to end. On October 12, 539 BC, Cyrus II, the king of the Medes and Persia, conquered Babylon. In 538 BC, Cyrus proclaimed that the Jewish people could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. In 537 BC, more than 40,000 Jewish exiles returned to their homeland.
Before Daniel could finish his prayer of restoration for Israel, the Angel Gabriel appeared and gave him the prophecy of the 70 ‘sevens’ outlined in Daniel 9:24-27. This prophecy was a timeframe for when the Messiah would come and when He would establish His everlasting kingdom. It’s interesting that Gabriel mentions the end of the 70 sevens before he mentions the start. He informs Daniel how God will eventually bring about spiritual changes (by fulfilling the words of Jeremiah 4:4 – circumcision of the foreskins of their hearts) for the Jews to live in fellowship with the Messiah in His Kingdom. These are the six objectives of vs. 24 and can only occur when the Jews earnestly seek and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah King.
“I will not return again to My place until they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction, they will earnestly seek Me” (Hosea 5:15).
Then and only then will their transgression of unbelief against the Lord Jesus Christ be reconciled.
The starting point for the 70 sevens will be “when the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” (Note: It’s obvious they wouldn’t restore/rebuild Jerusalem without also rebuilding the temple. However, it’s not mentioned here).
There will be exactly 69 sevens from this starting point until the Jew’s Messiah Prince comes. (Note: Messiah means anointed one, and Prince is a reference to a future king).
However, after the 69 sevens, the Messiah Prince will be killed. This must have confused and disturbed Daniel greatly. After this catastrophic event, Gabriel then informs Daniel that “the people of the ruler that shall come will destroy Jerusalem and the temple” (a second destruction is prophesied here). Then there is a large gap of time between the 69th and 70th seven in which there will be wars and desolations. In vs. 27, the last (70th) seven is described. The ruler will put an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the seven years.
I would imagine Daniel is extremely perplexed by this time. However, I think, with the passage of time, Daniel probably thought back on all of his visions concerning these prophecies, compared them to one another, and gained some clarity on these monumental events to come.
For example, the “he” in Daniel 9:27 is the little horn of Daniel 7:8, who is destroyed by the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:11. The little horn, his kingdom, and his end are also discussed in Daniel 7:19-26. He is the evil king in Daniel 11:36-45. This same king (and 11th horn) puts an end to sacrifices and offerings in Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11. Both verses describe an abomination that causes desolation. Daniel 9:27 says the abomination of desolation will occur in the midst of the last seven years, and Daniel 12:11 says from the abomination of desolation until the time of the end of the 70th seven (and the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth) will be for 1,290 days.
Jesus also testifies to the future A.O.D., “When you therefore see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains. For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not happened since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved: but for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:15-16.21-22).
Daniel knew one thing for sure. The Messiah Prince of Daniel 9:24-25 (one like the Son of man – Daniel 7:13) would return after His death and establish his eternal kingdom on the earth. “There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). Daniel also knew that after his people had a change of heart (circumcision of the foreskin of the heart – Jeremiah 4:4), they would inherit the kingdom. “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).
In part III, we will finish by discussing the giving of the new covenant to the Gentiles and Jesus’ kingdom of God.