As I think of Christianity today, I cannot help but think of consumerism. What can Christianity do for me? But really this is not the application of Christ’s example. I want to find a Christianity that actually includes the man for whom it is named. In all our religious pretending, where is Christ? I want a Christian experience that focuses on Jesus. Philippians 2 tells us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And Matthew 20:28 explains, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Notice Christ gave himself up, he emptied himself. And why? So that we (others) would benefit with eternal and abundant life. Christ did not die for us to constantly consider what is in it for me. Christ did not die for Christian consumerism. He died not for himself, but for us! And he gave himself up as an example of how to live – for others. If we actually follow his example then we will focus on him and other people. We will give ourselves up through Christ, for others not ourselves. I want to replace to the watered down, dirty, nasty, fake, tainted Christianity of consumerism for the all powerful, authentic, majestic, Spirit-filled, loving Christ. Let us not call ourselves by his name unless he is preeminent in our lives and how we live. Christianity is everywhere in our culture, but where is Christ?
Just as our consumerism can dictate our life, it can also affect our view of scripture. While all scripture is a revelation of our Lord Jesus, we can inadvertently focus on anything but him. Consider the awesome prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. This monumental portion of scripture focuses succinctly on Christ. And yet, I can image all the things that come into your mind when I even reference these verses. We think of anything except Christ. When we move our focus off Jesus we can unwittingly remove all power and authority from him. We are suddenly looking for an Antichrist, wondering how we will make the “great escape”, and how the latest theory fits together. And yet, where is Christ? What do these things have to do with him? Are we not concerning ourselves with “us” instead of Christ. I do not think anyone intends for this to happen, but it does. Let us not rob Christ of his wonder and majesty, let us meet him in these verses. For he is illuminated in every verse, his character is there to be discovered. Let’s meet him squarely where he is and expose his life changing truth. Starting with Daniel 9:24, what we find is a picture of Jesus Christ, our redemptive Savior.
Seventy weeks are decreed upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish and put an end to transgression, to seal up and make full the measure of sin, to purge away and make expiation and reconciliation for sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and prophet, and to anoint a Holy of Holies. Daniel 9:24
The fascinating thing about this prophesy is that it leaves little room for doubt about whom it speaks. This prophesy declares our Christ, and verse 24 above all. Ralph Woodrow in his book, Great Prophesies of the Bible, lists 12 concepts that verses 24-27 contain, but I honestly think the most profound are in verse 24. Below are 6 concepts, taken from verse 24, and all proclaim Christ’s redemptive work.
1) To finish and put an end to transgression – This is clearly referring to the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross. He put an end to transgression through the sacrifice of his righteous blood. And just as he states in John 19, “It is finished”, so it was. No longer would animal sacrifices be needed. Jesus put an end to sin and death.
2) To seal up and make full measure of sin – Christ has taken away our sins. The words “seal up” infer to take away, cover, or hide. John Gill in his commentary on this verse says, “ ‘to seal up sins’; which is expressive of the pardon of them procured by Christ; for things sealed are hid and covered, and so are sins forgiven”
3) To purge away and make expiation and reconciliation for sin – expiation means to remove guilt through the payment of the penalty (Holman Bible Dictionary). Christ has purged away our guilt by his precious blood and paid the price so that our Holy God can be in right relationship with His people. A price must be paid for sin so we can be reconciled to God and this prophesy is telling us that Christ is coming to do just that.
4) To bring in everlasting righteousness – So now the fullness of what Christ has done comes to us. We receive everlasting righteousness through Christ.
“he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:12-14
All sacrifices until Christ were of animals and temporary. Now, with Christ the ultimate shedding of blood has purified us and given us eternal redemption and righteousness. It is not temporary, but eternal. A once and for all atoning that never ends. We are eternally found righteous through Christ.
5) To seal up vision and prophesy and prophet – John Gill says of this phrase, “not to shut it up out of sight; rather to set a mark on it, by which it might be more clearly known; but to consummate and fulfil it: all prophecy is sealed up in Christ, and by him; he is the sum and substance of it; the visions and prophecies of the Old Testament relate to him, and have their accomplishment in him; some relate to his person and office; others to his coming into the world, the time, place, and manner of it; others to the great work of redemption and salvation he came about; and others to his miracles, sufferings, and death, and the glory that should follow; all which have been fulfilled: or, ‘to seal up the vision and prophet’”. All the prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Christ. He sealed them with his coming. There is no one else – Christ is the vision, the prophesy, and the prophet.
6) To anoint a Holy of Holies – some translations say, “to anoint the Most Holy”. Either way, it is clear this refers to Christ. However, there are some translations, such as the NIV, that use the words, “to anoint the most Holy Place”, which would imply Jerusalem or the temple. Looking to the experts we find our answer. Adam Clarke explains, “And to anoint the Most Holy, kodesh kodashim, “the Holy of holies.” mashach, to anoint, (from which comes mashiach, the Messiah, the anointed one,) signifies in general, to consecrate or appoint to some special office. Here it means the consecration or appointment of our blessed Lord, the Holy One of Israel, to be the Prophet, Priest, and King of mankind.” While John Wesley elucidates, “This alludes to his name Messiah and Christ, both which signify anointed. Christ was anointed at his first conception, and personal union, Luke 1:35. In his baptism, Matthew 3:17, to his three offices by the holy Ghost.” And finally I want to give the exposition by James Dixon from his commentary, “to anoint the most Holy (“place” has been added by some versions, not in the Hebrew. The term was applied most frequently to Persons.) This last phrase likely refers to the anointing of Christ as our Intercessor in the Holy of Holies in Heaven.”
It is obvious the whole of the verse is referring to Jesus. It lists out six actions that all refer to him. And this is my primary point. If we get sidetracked by the nuances in words that refer to a city or temple, then we can miss what the text is saying and to whom it is referring. I know this seems small, but as with many things — they start small and end up being a huge canyon. Christ is the focus of this prophesy, and he is found everywhere you turn in verse 24.
The preeminent theme of this prophecy is the coming of Jesus. The focus is the work of Christ and his salvation. Ralph Woodrow sums up the prophecy in this way, “The grand theme of the prophecy is Jesus Christ! Its great fulfillment shines forth from Calvary with glory and power! Its timing is perfect. Its words harmonious. Its message satisfies the soul.” Jesus is the theme and focus for all scripture. For he is the Most Holy and has come to seal up vision, prophecy, and prophet. Christ is the central theme of all the Bible and all prophecy. Let us not rob Christ of his wonder and majesty, but with reverence stand in awe of him and give him due honor. Christ and Christ alone!