By: Jay Dyer
One’s philosophy of history is determined by one’s worldview – and most people do not even consider their own philosophy of history, or even whether there is such a thing. Never the less, everyone has a philosophy history (and a philosophy overall), whether they know it or not. As we have seen in many apologetic and theological articles and talks, out basic worldview presuppositions determine the rest of our philosophy, with faulty presuppositions conflicting with true and leading to disastrous conclusions. In this life, all of our worldviews are bound to be an admixture of some degree of error and falsehood, yet by God’s illumination we can have a coherent philosophy of history based ultimately on the principles outlined in revelation.
The unique nature of the biblical worldview is seen in many ways, but one of the foremost is the revealed doctrine of creation ex nihilo, or out of nothing: “I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise.” (2 Macc. 7:28). In fact, Hebrews even describes creation ex nihilo as a dogmatic fact of divine faith, based on revelation, not some Thomistic “natural revelation:” “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3) Thus, in the Orthodox conception, history is not flux or chaos, but is guided by divine providence through successive aeons towards a terminus. There is therefore a beginning, middle and endpoint to the relative state of things presently under the temporary limitations of time, but which are, in the eschaton, destined for transfiguration. For us time is not an evil, nor is it a prison complex from which we must escape in some Platonic release, but rather a probationary period that still retains many of the goods God intended for mankind, yet short of the full communion and theosis with Him that is available both now and in the eschaton:
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:1-5)
With the doctrine of creation, there is nothing incoherent or contradictory about the doctrine of the resurrection and transfiguration of this world into eternity – “dead matter” is rendered meaningless and gnosticism in all forms is rejected. The goodness of the kosmos is grounded in the goodness of the God who spoke it into existence out of nothing. In all other world religions, cults and sects, the almost universal tendency is to relegate the meaning of “creation” into incoherence by positing a “god” who works with pre-existing or eternal matter, prima materia, which are impressed with form by this “Great Architect.” While it is true God is an Architect, He is also the God who calls into being the things which are not (Rom. 4:17). In Romans 4, this point is made about the connection between ex nihilo creation, the existence of a child in the womb and the resurrection. All are possible because nothing is impossible with God (Mt. 19:26).
In the Orthodox perspective resurrection was the goal for creation all along. It was not a secondary notion or Plan B like the Scofield dispensational heresy, but God’s purpose from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Incarnation and theosis and the movement from grace to grace would have occurred with or without the Fall of Man. This is in stark contrast to the Roman Catholic Thomist formulation which holds the Incarnation of Christ could have come in any form, including none whatsoever, had God willed it. In that scheme, “super added grace” was added to Adam’s human nature, and then taken away when he fell. As a result, the Augustinian and Thomistic traditions have seen grace and nature as inherently in dialectical tension, with the will of man at a certain point needing an override, in Thomistic and Augustinian terms, “efficacious grace” – necessary due to the natural inclination to sin. It is not our purpose here to delve into this topic (which I have discussed in other articles), but for a philosophy of history its relevance lies in the erroneous conception of Eden in the Latin tradition.
Man in the prelapsarian state in the West is the same as in Pelagianism, where nature and person are identified so as to virtually identify the two. When man fell, his entire nature required an efficacious grace that equates to monergism. Just as St. Maximos argued with Pyrrhus, so all Western theologians retain the same doctrine of anthropological confusion which requires mon-energism in salvation due to erroneous presuppositions concerning (echoing Pyrrhus). The root was due to Pyrrhus making will a property of person, not nature. Hence, heresy in Christology inevitably leads to heresy in soteriology and thus also heresy in eschatology (as we will see). The argument of Pyrrhus was that will is a property of person because the God-man had only one energy in which to overcome the defect of our nature. Throughout the disputation, as St. Maximos shows, the faulty assumption is that the natural will and energy of man are in dialectical tension with with natural will and energy of God.
Since Christ came to conquer that divide, Pyrrhus argued there must have been one will and operation in Christ. The error here is manifold and Calvinists would do well to hearken – the solution is simple. The will of man after the fall was not damaged to the degree in which all of Adam’s seed participate in his guilt, nor is will an inherently defective faculty that is itself sinful (as all Augustinians and Calvinists tend to think). The will of man retained its natural energy, but lacked the power and ability of divine life and energy. In Christ the human will is deified and raised, and by partaking of Him, our human will and energy is deified and raised, with no admixture or confusion. Theosis is thus necessarily and only a participation in the divine operations or energies, and never a participation in anything else, be it “created grace” or the divine ousia.
Furthermore, St. Maximos posits the absurdity of saying will is a property of person, as it confuses both theology and anthropology, meaning God thus has three wills and Christ one will. Man’s will in this scheme is also smushed into his nature, making it a determined vehicle of either sin or virtue. All heterodox errors are based on the confusion of nature and person – in both God and man, as St. John of Damascus said. If the heterodox saw this, there theological confusion would disappear, as would their anthropological confusion, and by extension, so would their errors in relation to creation, Genesis and Eden. Sadly, the loss of Orthodox Triadology led to the loss of a coherent, revealed anthropology and the West unanimously adopted a dialectical dichotomy of man = body + soul.
This stupid doctrine abandons the nous, the divine faculty God endowed man with for knowing Him directly, and attempts to replace it with various intellectual salves and augmentations such as rationalism and nowadays transhumanism. As a result, the West gradually equated the essence of what it is to be “man” with pure intellect. Since the transcendent was removed due to the heresy of absolute divine simplicity which leads directly to atheism, the rest of the western system of thought was equally as deformed, leaving man a meaningless product of purposeless “natural forces” guiding him to a meaningless complexity where he might merge with techne. Ironically, this false gospel is the exact inverse of the promise of theosis, with man attempting by natural means to mimic the biblical promise of deification in Christ. Sadly, the loss of man’s heart in the teaching of the West (nous), the reseting place of God which is preeminent over man’s logic (though not in dialectical tension with it), led directly to the misplacement of man’s logic and intellect as supreme.
Yet man is a finite being, lost upon the infinite waves of an infinite meaningless universe has no telos beyond his own lusts, which are short-lived (in this asinine worldview). In the place of the call of man back to God, a false technological Gospel promises to give eternal life through iPods. Not only is this laughable and ridiculous, the reality is much different, as whatever technological advances come, they will certainly not be offered by the elite to the peasantry. We live in an era of some of the most vile, corrupt, psychopathic leaders in human history – only an utter fool would trust their false promises. This false technological “god” constitutes the chief idol of our day, and as we will see, this is especially relevant to the Book of Daniel. Before we look at Daniel, it is important to understand creation, Genesis and Eden as man’s divine beginning, and that as a result of this very real starting point in time, there is necessarily also a middle point and a terminus of time (before time is raised into the eschaton of eternity).
For us, history has a definite meaning due to this beginning, middle and end, which means our philosophy of history comes pre-interpreted. Certainly no one would argue the biblical texts solve all mysteries for us, but what we proclaim is the uniqueness and unicity of history based precisely around our revelation and the subsequent covenants found in Scripture. Each covenant builds upon the next, widening and expanding the scope of the covenant, and revealing more about the Logos Himself, who is the summation and telos, the Alpha and Omega, of all facts and events, as well as the future-history to come. Thus, the secret of history is bound up with revelation and the mystery of Christ and His kingdom, and just as there is a revealed anthropology and soteriology, so also there is a revealed create-ology (my new word) and philosophy of history.
Without this theological understanding, history is a meaningless and insoluble riddle where man doesn’t even know what the right questions to ask might be. Indeed, the wisdom of this world is continually made foolishness, especially when it comes to the childish fantasies of ideas like Darwinism or naturalism – which is why these clowns never engage in a serious debate on the topic with someone like myself. It is not that I am so intelligent – it is truly due to the fact that divine wisdom cannot be refuted – the fool (not the rational man) has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ (Ps. 14:1) Atheism is made foolish on its own grounds because it is self-refuting and contrary to the possibility of man possessing knowledge whatsoever.
For us, history is not one damn thing after another, but a series of events guided providentially by an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Personal God. This fact also sets our worldview over against the many pagan conceptions as much as creation ex nihilo does. For pagan conceptions, the world is a place ruled ultimately by fate – not even the gods can control the destinies of all, and when it comes to the kosmos as a whole, the ultimate force in the universe is an impersonal fatalism or chaos. Thus, for paganism, ultimate reality is fundamentally impersonal as it is for the naturalist – and both are therefore at root atheistic. Ironically, Darwinism is a secular attempt at a grand philosophy of history – despite their likely denial of this fact. Darwinism is a wild speculation about man’s supposed purely naturalistic origins, as well as an attempt to purely naturalize the phenomenon of death.
For Orthodoxy, death is the enemy – and in no way natural or normalized. St. Paul characterizes death and the devil, who has the power of death, as the enemies of God and the Church. In the resurrection and in the eternal state, death will be destroyed in finality, and this includes the power of death in both its spiritual and natural sense – both are results of the Fall and both are repaired in the Incarnation, Death, Descent and Ascent of Christ. As a result, the entire kosmos is made to participate in that resurrection (Rom. 8), though the mode of one’s experience of that state will depend on one’s life here (and thus the final judgment).
In fact, it is only with an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God that a unified approach to history even makes sense. If any aspect of time and history were outside the purview of God’s Providence then in that world chance and chaos would be the true god – and “god” no longer omniscient, etc. Since all reality is contained and sustained by the Divine Mind and the logoi of all beings and all events are summed up in one Logos, history has a definite meaning and purpose. The movement of history also becomes salvific, with absolutely no conception of seeking for some Platonic stasis, freed from all movement. Indeed, with the Incarnation God enters into time and space and sanctifies it, making it again His footstool in an immanent way, especially after Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit (which is a kind of re-Creation).
This is not to say God was ever literally banished from creation, but rather that Adam’s Fall resulted in a mode of being in which reality was severed from its true potential for a time period of trial and testing, with death entering the picture as an enemy, yet one which served as a chastisement and tutor for rebellious man. For us, death is the last enemy to be destroyed as Eden becomes restored in a new heavens and new earth (1 Cor. 15:26, 54, Apoc. 22). Indeed, the regaining of Eden is precisely the reason the final chapter of St. John’s Apocalypse describes the Heavenly Jerusalem (the Church) with all Edenic symbolism and imagery – this is also why our churches and Temples contain many images of Eden. In fact, the Church itself is the New Eden.
In searching for an accessible example of the biblical philosophy of history, none better can be found than Daniel. Prophesying at the point of the captivity of the Israelites in Babylon (4 King. 25), Daniel is spoken of as exceedingly gifted in interpreting dreams and visions (Dan. 1:17). In fact, the Book of Daniel itself is a revelation of the biblical philosophy of history, focusing on successive empires, their downfalls, and the coming erection of a divine kingdom of God under the last of these empires (Rome), that will never fall. The scope of this essay will not be to comment on the entire Book, nor to posit solutions to some admittedly difficult passages, but rather to draw upon the clearer, more evident predictions of the coming Messiah and His kingdom, the Church.
Recruited by King Nebuchadnezzar to receive full education and serve in his house (Dan. 1), Daniel and his companions obtain a favorable name by their skill in various arts, including the interpretation of dreams and prophecies. Troubled by a dream he cannot explain, the prophet Daniel describes the vision and its interpretation as a giant idol of a man with 4 sections, the head being gold, the breast being silver and the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay mixed. As I have argued in this essay, the pagan soothsayers and sorcerers of the Court failed to give a coherent meaning to the dream, and by extension to history, precisely because they lacked revelation and the Spirit which Daniel possessed:
“7 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets…” (Dan. 2)
Daniel understood history concerns man’s redemption, following upon the doctrine of Creation, while the soothsayers of the Court presumably posited some form of the perennial tradition of paganism or pantheism, as it continues with us today in Darwinism, the occult or various forms of paganism and atheism. Thus we see the power our philosophy has over all occult forms of worship and meaning which devolve into superstition and slavery, leaving man the slave of natural forces and creation, rather than its master, made in God’s image. Just as Daniel was given the secret meaning of history and the successive rise and falls of world empires (Dan. 2:20-23), so we too have this secret with the fullness of revelation in Christ, whom Daniel clearly predicts. We read in Daniel 2:
31 “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
The usage of the idol for the image of successive world empires is appropriate as all pagan empires were built upon the dogma of idolatry and ultimately of Satanic inspiration. As we have seen, the nations were under the dominion of the fallen angels, enslaved to the worship of idols and demons (Ps. 96:5, 1 Cor. 10:20, Dt. 32:17) until the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom. In fact, Apoc. 20:3 specifically outlines the binding of Satan through the preaching of the Gospel throughout the nations, restraining his deception (which historically has been largely done through various forms of idolatry (Romans 1, Wisdom 1-2 – and Wisdom 1-2 is the perfect description of the folly of naturalistic materialism).
36 “This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
What is fascinating about this passage is the essence of the prediction surrounds the erection of a new kind of kingdom that is not like the previous (idolatrous, man-centered) empires. Nebuchadnezzar, even as a pagan ruler, is given his dominion and power by the divine providence of the True God, whom He doesn’t even know. This dominion, though temporal, is limited to a certain future date when new empires will arise, culminating in a fourth which will see the erection of a new, non-human kingdom, in that it is hewn without human hands. Pagan empires, like Freemasons today, erect their palaces on the foundation cornerstone, formed in nature and chiseled by the hand of man. This kingdom, however, will not be created by man, because the foundation stone is none other than the God-man Himself, the Lord of History:
43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”
Thus, the image represents the head of gold as Babylon, the silver chest as Persia, the stomach and thighs of copper Alexander the Great and the Greeks and the last the Roman Empire, under which we will later learn from Daniel the Messiah will be born (Daniel 7, 9). We can also see Jesus’ numerous references to Daniel as predictions and confirmations of His own ministry, origins and mysterious purpose. In Matt. 21:42 Jesus explains He is the Stone the builders (Jews) rejected and St. Paul describes Him as the Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), as well as the King of the Kingdom which even Hades cannot break (Matt. 16:17-19). We also learn this kingdom not only remains in the face of the onslaught of Hades and the demonic, but it will even consume all others, overtaking the world. As with many prophecies I covered in my talk on Isaiah, though it may seem strange and impossible to us the Church could encompass all nations and emerge victorious, it would have seemed just as impossible in Isaiah’s day that the nations of the world would worship the God of Israel – and yet millennia later, they do.
Likewise, the prophecies of Scripture many times over assure us the Church will eventually overtake the world, with the majority of the planet accepting Orthodox Christianity – even to the farthest isles. Many will laugh at this claim, but many laughed at Isaiah in his day – yet nowadays no one laughs at Isaiah. I’ll go even further, and explain that Romans 11 predicts the Jews will eventually convert (as many fathers also held), which will lead to the conversion of the world. This will also anger many, but St. Paul’s prediction is not overly mysterious – he clearly predicts numerous times the unbelief will (in God’s time) come to an end and it will be “like life from the dead.”
Note, of course, this has nothing to do with Tim LaHaye or John Hagee nonsense – St. Paul describes the Church as the true Israel (Gal. 4, 6:16) based, not on biological descent, but in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and all the prophets, membership in the one covenant is through faith in Christ and being grafted into the Orthodox Church. Perhaps rather than “replacement theology,” continuation theology is more helpful, as we are all members of the same covenant in Christ, from Adam to Abraham to Paul to now – and that covenant is the same as the kingdom, which is the Church.
As I mentioned in the Isaiah talk, not even the most rabid liberal textual “scholar” dates the text of Daniel after the appearance of Christ. Like Isaiah, in Daniel we have the prediction of a coming kingdom that will eventually be global in scope, specifically erected under the time of the last kingdom (later the last beast in Dan. 7). Contrary to the idiocy and stupidity of evangelicalism, these successive empires culminate in the First Advent of the Messiahunder the Roman Empire, and contain no ad hoc“pause” or random interlude of 2,000 years toward some last days epoch of “Russian nukes” or whatever nonsense evangelicals are duped into believing by Israeli lobbyists (who also mock the same evangelicals they concoct these endless “end times” comic book tales for).
Only evangelicals could be so foolish as to deny one of the strongest proofs for the FirstAdvent of the Messiah in order to idiotically transfer these fulfilled prophecies into some future nuclear Antichrist disaster saga starring Kirk Cameron that will never happen, thus spreading confusion and the cancelling out of so many profound fulfilled prophecies! See my premillennial heresy article here. In any case, more than once Daniel predicts during the fourth empire the Messiah and His kingdom arrive – no one dates Daniel in the post-Christian era (that I am aware of). So how did Daniel know the Messiah would come and the Church would be erected under the days of the Roman Empire? We believe Daniel existed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, 605-530 B.C., while the most liberal unbelieving “scholars” date Daniel to the 2nd Century B.C. In either case, Daniel is making amazing predictions in the vein of Isaiah, yet going even further than Isaiah by predicting the date of the coming of the Messiah (as we will see in Dan. 9). Keep in mind no one dates Daniel after the time of Christ – so how did Daniel know what would happen under Rome?
Ancient of Days
7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.
Vision of the Ancient of Days
“I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;
A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.
11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
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 the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
23 “Thus he said:
‘The fourth beast shall be
A fourth kingdom on earth,
Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,
And shall devour the whole earth,
Trample it and break it in pieces.
The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.
‘But the court shall be seated,
And they shall take away his dominion,
To consume and destroy it forever.
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.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’
The fourfold structure here is the same as with Daniel 2, where we see the fourth being Rome (again) and under which the Messiah ascends and takes his reign in the same imagery St. John uses to describe Christ in the Apocalypse (Apoc. 4:2-6, 5;11, 20;12). We also see (like the vision in the Fiery Furnace) a kind of theophany where there is a clear distinction of Persons. The Son of Man ascends and approaches the Ancient of Days and takes his throne. The New Testament many times explains Jesus begins His reign precisely at His ascension (and not in some future millennium) – See Acts 2:16-36, especially verse 34. Sitting at God’s right hand, the Incarnate and Ascended Messiah is presently making His enemies His footstool – through His kingdom, the Church.
Psalm 110:1 (109:1 LXX) is thus mirrored in the description here in Daniel 7, where the Son of Man (the same Theophany of the fiery furnace in Dan. 3:92) appears in the midst of Daniel and his companions. The main point in my analysis is the text describes the state of affairs at the First Advent of the Messiah and His Ascension, not some last days dominion yet to be awarded, but a present reality. The Kingdom here is the exact same one as Daniel 2, which all Christians locate as the First Advent, and the same is obviously true here of the Son of Man clearly being said to ascend and begin His reign (verse 13). Jesus does not receive His dominion at the end of time, but when He ascended in human nature.
It is out of the scope of this paper to look at what the Apocalypse is referring to, but the immediate context is 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. Daniel is describing the same time frame as St. John, with St. John living under and writing about the fourth and final Beast, Rome and Nero, the great persecutor. The abomination of desolation here is mirrored by Antiochus (1 Macc. 1-2, Ptolemy in 3 Macc., and Nero in St. John’s Apocalypse). Indeed, reading the three Maccabees Books in concert with Luke 21 and with a proper understanding of partial-preterism, much becomes clear (you need the Orthodox Study Bible for this). Regardless of the specifics which can be dealt with in a more comprehensive way, what is clear is St. John and Daniel are describing the same periods – one in which the Messiah appeared, ascended and was given dominion and a Kingdom which will never fail. Daniel 7, like chapter 2, is even more detailed image of the coming of the Church using rabid beast imagery (also like St. John) to describe the empire under which Jesus would not only come, but also under which He would also ascend!
“24 Seventy weeks have been determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out the iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy. 25 And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the Prince seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment for him: and He shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince that is coming: they shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed he shall appoint to desolations. 27 And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple the abomination of desolations; and at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation.” (Dan. 9)
The mysterious 70 weeks passage of Daniel 9 has mystified many, but here we will stick to the obvious. The passage predicts a period of weeks of weeks (sevens) that the Archangel Gabriel reveals to Daniel, laying out the time of the rebuilding of the Temple to the coming of the Messiah. Here the Orthodox is again at an advantage with the inclusion of 2 Ezra 7 giving a rough timing of the decree to rebuild to Temple (circa 458 B.C.). The time period from 2 Ezra to the crucifixion is thus about 490 years, showing Daniel specifically refers to the cutting off of the Messiah the Prince, as well as to the end of the sacrificial offerings of the Temple ministry. Not only does this line up perfectly with the events of the First Advent, it also describes the end of the levitical system through the Roman destruction of the Temple, which Jesus also predicted in Luke 21 and Matthew 24.
Daniel contains not only a prediction of the coming and ascent of the Messiah, but also of His Divinity (Chpt. 7), death and atonement, even to the specific time in which the death would occur, coinciding with the ending of the sacrificial system (since Jesus is the fulfillment of the types of the animal offerings)! In fact, the descriptions of Daniel 9 are exactly what the Book of Hebrews describes concerning the meaning of the Messiah’s ministry and His fulfillment of Mosaic typology. The prophet Daniel not only gives us a notion of God’s sovereignty within history and a coherent philosophy of history, he gives us an account of the central actions of history relating to the work of the Messiah within history – the Son of Man and the Son of God, come to put an end to sins and bring in everlasting righteousness. History is therefore covenantal and relates directly to the Orthodox Church as the one covenant of God within history.