Excerpted from “Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks” Alva J. McClain (1940)
In concluding this discussion, one more question should be considered. Does the prophecy of Daniel shed any light at all upon the nature of our present age which lies between the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Weeks? The material is scarce but very significant. The rather amazing thing is that in all this vast chasm of over nineteen centuries, Daniel identifies clearly only two events: the death of Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem. Outside and beyond these two events, he mentions nothing. All the pomp and glory and boasted achievements of the so-called Christian era are passed over with complete silence. There is something very humbling about this silence, if we have eyes to see. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
But if the prophet mentions specifically only two events, he does not altogether ignore the general character of the age. Sweeping through our centuries of “progress” with the eye of divine inspiration, he sums up the whole period in two statements, very startling for their ominous brevity. The first is: “Unto the end shall be war.” And the second is: “Desolations are determined.” (see verse 26, A.R.V.). The first statement seems to declare the abysmal failure of unregenerate man apart from God, while the second affirms the decree of a sovereign God to permit failure and use it for His own wise and holy ends. From these two statements, we may learn some valuable lessons.
In the first place, there will be war on earth among men until the Lord returns. Of course, there are some modern prophets who think otherwise, but we shall do well to stick to Daniel in these matters. As a prophet, he has an established reputation. Over two thousand years ago Daniel said that “unto the end shall be war,” and no one can deny the accuracy of his prediction thus far. Any prophet who has been right for two thousand years is worth listening to. Let the other prophets establish their reputations before asking us to follow their prognostications. Of course, Daniel’s prophecy does not mean that all efforts against war in the present age are futile. It is a matter of common knowledge that some threatened wars have been stopped in the past, and doubtless others in the future can be stopped. Such efforts are worthwhile. But the point is, no matter how successful the nations may be in avoiding a war here and there, we are to remember that no permanent peace can come to this sinful world till the Prince of Peace comes down to earth again in glory. “Unto the end shall be war.” We may not like the prophecy; it may humble our rebellious pride; but God hath spoken.
The other lesson is still more important! The God of heaven is in control over the events of this sinful age of ours. If war continues to the end, bringing destruction and desolations, we are not to forget that these “desolations are determined.” Man is responsible for his failure, but man’s failure never takes God by surprise. What man does, God has determined. The present age, even at its worst, is not running out of control. An infinite God sits upon the throne of Providence, and He always has the last word in human history. And through all the mystery and confusion of human failure, the great providential formula holds good: “Ye meant evil…but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20, A.R.V.).
Words of Grace for Strength
McClain is of course speaking of the prophecy contained in Daniel 9:24-27, a short passage of Scripture that contains an enormously important prophecy for those who seek to gain an understanding of end time events. The passage, read in light of McClain’s discussion above brings both sobering truth and surpassing hope to all who read it, understand it, and believe it as truth, biblical truth. We do not know how long this present age will last before the culmination and completion of Daniel’s 70th week of prophecy, but we know it will be a hard road, it always has been and always will be.
The sobering truth of the passage is that humanity is both helpless and hopeless without Christ. Yes, we might make things better for a day or for a season, but the world’s slide toward despair and ultimate judgment will continue. Only those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ Jesus as their only means of salvation will be raptured out to be with Him before that final, terrible seven year period of tribulation begins. A war avoided here, a conflict stopped there may give brief respite, but temporary respite is all it will turn out to be. Mankind is incapable of anything else without Christ, the thing the world seems best at is planning and trying to implement its own demise.
The surpassing hope of the passage is our sovereign God is always in control and never caught up short. We cannot surprise Him, the world cannot sneak up on Him and overtake or overwhelm Him. We may grieve the Spirit with our actions or inactions, but we can never astound or catch God unawares or off-guard. He is ready and able to deal with the world at its worst, and willing to deal with it justly, and if the world would let Him, lovingly and mercifully. The gracious gift of His Son is offered to all who would accept Him.
Our strength comes from the fact that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Our strength comes from knowing no one can pry us from the grasp of the Lord once we have become His. Daniel, in his divinely inspired brevity has told us what will transpire, and who will triumph. This is our strength, our solace and our surety.
And all of it is in Christ, who is in us.