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Reflections on Jerusalem and its Wall

Daniel 9:24-27, the prophecy given by Gabriel to Daniel

questions and comments below

note: the word translated 'weeks' is, in the Hebrew 'shebuah,' meaning 'seven, especially of years.'

"Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconcilliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there is seven weeks and 62 weeks; the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the 62 weeks Messiah will be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince who is yet to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood and until the end wars and desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the overspreading of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation which is determined, and that shall be poured out on the desolator."

 

This passage in Daniel 9 talks about the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. It was stated that from the time of the giving of the command to restore and rebuild unto the coming of Messiah was to be a period of 69 sets of 7 years or 483 years. These years were Babylonian years of 360 days. This is also the length of the prophetic year as given in Revelation. Thus 483 prophetic years of 360 days is the same as 476.057 years of 365.25 days. That is 476 years and 21 days of our customary years.  Either way you count the years, it equals 173,880 days.

In the case of the Jerusalem wall's first rebuilding (by Nehemiah) and Christ's first coming, the Command was given on the 1st Nisan  (5th March) in 444 BC in Nehemiah 2:1 ff. When 173,880 days are added to that date, the period ends on 10th Nisan (March 30th) 33 AD. This was the Palm Sunday when Jesus presented Himself as Messiah. Jesus said that the stones in the Jerusalem wall, which Nehemiah had placed there in his building program, would cry out that He was Messiah if He silenced His disciples as the authorities demanded. The Crucifixion occurred a few days later on 14th Nisan (3rd April) 33 AD. In other words, the prophecy was fulfilled to the very day.

The full period of 69 sets of 7 years were split into two sets; one set was 7 periods of 7 years and the other was 62 periods of 7 years. The 7 periods of 7 years in this instance ended about 395 BC which marked the final prophetic message to the Jews from Malachi. After that there was the second set of 62 periods of 7 years during which there was no prophetic voice, which lasted for just over 427 actual years. The prophecy also stated that the Wall would be built in troubled times. The Jews were continually harassed by the surrounding nations which were trying to stop the rebuilding. So the prophecy was, again, literally fulfilled.

There will also be a final period of 7 years, the 70th in the sequence, which begins with the false Messiah signing a Covenant with Israel for 7 years to bring peace to the Middle east. That final 7 years is known as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" (Old Testament) or the "Tribulation, the Great One" (New Testament) as Israel suffers terribly in those 7 years. Thus there is a time gap between the 69th period of 7 years and the 70th period of 7 years. It is usual to say this time gap represents the "Times of the Gentiles" or the "Church Age" which is closed by the Rapture, the catching away of the Christians to meet Messiah in the air. Once that event has occurred, the 70th period of 7 years can begin.

There may be a second part to the Daniel prophecy quoted above. Because there are two comings of Messiah, this prophecy might be like some others that have a two-fold fulfillment. This is suggested by Gabriel's words to Daniel since he said Messiah was coming to "make an end of sin and make reconciliation for iniquity". This Messiah did at His First Coming by making atonement for our sins by His death on the cross. But Gabriel also said that, in the context of the Wall of Jerusalem being built that there would be a time "to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and anoint the Most Holy." This has not yet happened. So this may relate directly to His Second Coming, and there may well be a two-fold fulfillment involved. If this is true, the following may be important:

In the sixteenth century, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent ruled the Ottoman (a Muslim) Empire.  The Ottoman Empire included Turkey, the Middle East, and some of southern Europe.  In 1517 the Ottoman Turks under Suleiman’s father, Selim I, gained control over Jerusalem. Suleiman, however, respected the Jewish people and made a Jew, the Duke of Naxos, his Foreign Affairs Minister. Over 15 years after his accession, Suleiman records that he was troubled by a series of dreams.  In these dreams he was being chased by lions who seemed intent on devouring him.  In one dream he finally stopped running and faced the lions, asking what he should do to save his life.  He was told he should build the wall of Jerusalem.  Wondering about this, he asked the only deity he knew, the Muslim Allah, for guidance.  The response came in a dream which was recorded as follows:

“... the Prophet appeared to him in a ‘blessed night’ and told him: ‘Oh, Sulaiman, you will have the rulership for forty-six years and will make many conquests. Your offspring will not die out to the end of time. My kindness will always extend to you. You should spend these spoils on embellishing Mecca and Medina, and for the fortification of the citadel of Jerusalem, in order to repulse the unbelievers, when they attempt to take possession of Jerusalem during the reigns of your followers. You should also embellish its sanctuary with water basins and offer annual money gifts to the Dervishes there, and also embellish the Rock of Allah and rebuild Jerusalem.’ Such being the order of the Prophet, Sulaiman Khan rose at once from his sleep and sent from his spoils one thousand purses to Medina and another thousand purses to Jerusalem (Auld and Hillenbrand 2000 p.353).”

Notice that the terms of the arrangement were that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt, along with the Wall or fortifications, and that water dispensers or basins or fountains were to be provided. The wall that Suleiman built is the wall which currently surrounds Old Jerusalem, and the Lions Gate commemorates the lions in his dream. If the first rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls in Nehemiah's time testified to the first coming of Messiah and was still standing when Jesus rode in on the donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, then perhaps the second rebuilding of the Wall might announce a similar prophetic program relating to the Second Coming of Christ.  Here is what I have been able to ascertain.

The building period for the Wall is generally given as being from 1535/1536 until the end of 1541 or beginning of 1542; that is a total of 7 years. It seems that the 4 fountains or water dispensers or basins were built first. This was, presumably, so that the workers on the wall could be refreshed and have an assured supply of water for the Wall’s construction. The various dates are as follows:

The fountain (or Sabil) on the SW side of the Jaffa Gate - 29th June 1536.
The fountain 10 meters West of St. Stephen's Gate (Lion's Gate) - 29th June 1536.
The fountain Sabil al Wad - 14th December 1536.
The fountain or Sabil at the Al Nazir Gate - February 12th, 1537.
The North Wall - 1537.
Jaffa Gate - 1538.
Damascus Gate - 1538.
Lion's Gate - 1538-1539.
Herod's Gate - 1539.
South Wall - 1540.
Completion of construction - end 1541.

The Scripture says that "from the going forth of the command to build ... unto the coming of Messiah". The only command that I can find recorded is the following, which was placed on two of the fountains (Sabil); the one at the Jaffa Gate and the other at the Lion's gate. Here is the Command:

"He has ordered the construction of this blessed Sabil, our Master, the Sultan, the greatest Prince and the honourable Hakan, who rules the necks of the nations, the Sultan of the lands of Rum, the Arabs and Persians (ajams), the Sultan Süleyman, son of the Sultan Selim Khan, may Allah perpetuate his reign and his sultanate, on the date of 10th of Month Muharram the sacred in the year 943 (29 June 1536)."

Whether or not this command, which was posted on the fountains, was earlier in time than the command to build the Wall, or restore the city, we do not know. The wording of Instructions to Suleiman in the dream quoted above, and his response, suggests the two might be the same; but the fountains had to be built first before work could start on the Wall.

The question is then asked about the break-down of the 69 periods of 7 years into 7 periods of 7 and 62 periods of 7. Furthermore there is Gabriel's comment that the wall would be built "in troublous times." These were indeed troublous times for Suleiman as he was engaged in the Ottoman-Safavid War from 1532-1555 which involved the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (Iran). In the midst of this, there were several expeditions to trouble spots in Europe. However, in a special way, there was also trouble for the Jewish people with the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition focusing on them especially at that time. Suleiman provided sanctuary in his Kingdom for those Jews wishing to escape from these troubles. The 7 periods of 7 years from the going forth of the Command to build ended around 1585 -1590 depending on just when the precise command was given. At the end of that period, in 1588, the Spanish Armada was destroyed, the Inquisition ceased, and the intense Jewish persecution came to an end.

Given this history, there is another item of interest. If, instead of 7 periods of 7 years and 62 periods of 7 years, we take it the other way around and have, first the 62 periods of 7 years, THEN the 7 periods of 7 years, a remarkable circumstance occurs. The 62 multiplied by 7 gives 434 years of 360 days, which is 427.76 ordinary years. It is noted that the 4 gates which have been dated were built sometime during the period 1538-1539. In particular, the construction of the Lion's Gate specifically spanned that period. (It is of interest to note that it was that gate which Israeli paratroopers stormed on 7th June 1967 and regained the Old city of Jerusalem.) What is even more surprising is that, going back 427.76 ordinary years from then, we end up with a date in 1539. That would then leave a period of 7 times 7 years of 360 days or 48.3 actual years from June 1967 to the completion of the prophecy. In that case, the completion of the prophecy, and the full stretch of 69 periods of 7 years, would end near October 2015. Alternatively, if the Command was given for the wall and city to be re-built at the same time as the fountains in 1536, then the full period ends near July 2012. The completion of the Wall in 1541 gives an end date of 2018.

Whichever way it works, we appear to be on the edge of a crucial period in God's Program for Israel and the Church. For the Church, the close of these 69 periods of 7 years may refer to Messiah coming at the Rapture to catch away the genuine Christians to be with Himself. Following this event, the final or 70th period of 7 years, which may be reflected in the 7 years taken to complete the Wall, is Scripturally known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble, or the Tribulation. This comes with the Antichrist signing of the 7 year covenant with Israel to bring peace to the Middle East. The events of Revelation chapters 6 to 20 are fulfilled at this time. At the end of these final 7 years, there is the battle of Armageddon at which Messiah returns with the Christians from heaven and the resurrected Tribulation believers, and sets up His earthly rule for 1000 years. The city of Jerusalem is His capital and Israel his chosen people, while the Christians who returned with Him and the resurrected Tribulation believers are His administrators in maintaining His Kingdom around the world (ref: Luke 19:11-19).

                                                                 
*** Barry Setterfield -- 2011, 2012

Questions and Comments:

From a reader: I have been described as an "End-time Enthusiast" (polite version) and I also hold strongly to the view that God's Chosen People Israel have been and are still a major player both in the political arena and very much so in the end times and so I welcome any subject or discussion that deals with all things eschatological especially when it concerns Israel.

Your reflections attachment I read with great interest and not without prayerful consideration regarding it's contents, especially as you are making direct references to dreams (and interpretations thereof) concerning a devout Muslim. This in itself caused me some concern and I was tempted to stop when I reached that point. I continued but the problem that stays with me is that the Bible is very clear in stating that ONLY God can and should be the one to interpret dreams. Joseph and Daniel spring to mind here.

The 2nd paragraph left me at the starting blocks as I had never come across this information put in this way, so I shall accept your interpretation here.

I agree totally with the time frames of "Daniel's Seventy Weeks". This is quite well known and generally accepted by pre-millennial end-time believers, certainly here where I live in the UK. I think there is too much biblical evidence to the contrary  for mid or post millennialists to continue to hold to their view.

If you've asked me what I think concerning the relationship between the Gabriel's words to Daniel, the building and re-building of the gates and the wall in Jerusalem, I shall have to seek the knowledge of my other learned friends and come back to you. As I have stated, the dreams of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent may have a bearing but I remain extremely cautious in this respect. You probably know very well that Muhammed said he received wisdom from  "God" via Gabriel but we know who he was actually listening to! However, saying all that, I have read your study many times now and it does indeed make chronological sense so I am not dismissing it. More than that though, if the Rapture date is indeed somewhere near to July this year then we have very little time and our evangelism should be increased to maximum.

(Although we cannot know the "Day and the Hour" of Christ's return, some years ago I tried to calculate the year by assuming a generation to be 70 years, adding this on to the "springing forth of the Olive branch (return of Israel)" (1948) and deducting 7 years for the Rapture. This gave me late 2011 but alas we are still here.) 

Barry's response:

Many thanks for your comments; they are appreciated, and we understand your concern. It may have been better to just say that Suleiman the Magnificent had ordered the Walls to be rebuilt, and left it at that. However, we have given you the full historical perspective on the matter.

As far as Suleiman the Magnificent is concerned and his dreams, I think you need to appreciate that God can use anyone or anything to achieve His purposes; He is not limited to using only the righteous. If He were, then Judah should never have been punished by the Babylonians or the Romans for their shortcomings. This was the problem that the prophet Habakkuk had. In chapter 1 he states that iniquity and violence abounds in Judah and God appears to do nothing. God replies to him that He is going to act through the Chaldeans, that "bitter and hasty nation." Habakkuk is horrified. In 1:13 he protests and says "Lord, you are of purer eyes than to behold evil...How can you hold your tongue when the wicked [nation - Babylonia] devours one [nation - Judah] which is more righteous than he is?" etc. "I will stand on my watchtower and see what He will say to me." The Lord in the following chapter makes it clear that He understands very well what Babylonia is like "Behold, he is proud; his soul is not upright in him." But the prophet, the just - he shall live by faith. God goes on to state that the Babylonians will chastise Judah, but God is eventually going to punish the Babylonians for their wickedness, using another nation [Media-Persia as it turns out]. In response, Habakkuk, with his eyes now open to some of God's ways says in amazement in 2:20 "But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silent before Him!" 

So, in our case, the LORD has used this heathen king, Suleiman the Magnificent, to achieve His purposes. And note something else. Suleiman had a love for the Jewish people, even though he was a Muslim. He provided sanctuary for them from the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal. He took a Jew who had escaped from there, made him the Duke of Naxos, and appointed him as Foreign Minister in his court. This Jew held daily readings from the Tenach, the Old Testament, in Suleiman's court with Suleiman's full permission. So if any Muslim ruler was worthy of being used by God, this one was. Again, God is not limited.

I trust that this allays some of your concerns and opens up a broader view of the way that the Almighty can act. We have run this document on the Walls of Jerusalem past several competent Bible scholars and leaders of Biblical organizations, and received only positive feedback. All have agreed that it looks to be a legitimate proposition. One stated that he had wished he had thought of it himself...!

 

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