Seven Times Prophecy

The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

King Nebuchadnezzar had made the kingdom of Judah a tributary and carried off the nobility of Judah back to his capital Babylon. It was here, as an exiled Jew, that Daniel was chosen to be a prophet of God. In the book of Daniel we read how he became also a trusted advisor of King Nebuchadnezzar. In Chapter 4 of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar relays a dream that he had, and the events surrounding it:

Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: "May your peace abound!
"It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
"How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation.
(Daniel 4:1-3, New American Standard Bible)

At the outset, we see that King Nebuchadnezzar realises the real issue at play here, that everyone on earth should realise that the Most High God is the true sovereign over all, and that his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

Nebuchadnezzar next relays his dream to Daniel and asks for his interpretation:

'Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the midst of the earth and its height was great.
'The tree grew large and became strong
And its height reached to the sky,
And it was visible to the end of the whole earth.
'Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
(Daniel 4:10-12, New American Standard Bible)

In the first part of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar beheld a large tree which provided abundance for all.

'I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.
'He shouted out and spoke as follows:
"Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit;
Let the beasts flee from under it
And the birds from its branches.
Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground,
But with a band of iron and bronze around it
In the new grass of the field;
And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
"Let his mind be changed from that of a man
And let a beast's mind be given to him,
And let seven periods of time pass over him.
"This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers
And the decision is a command of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind,
And bestows it on whom He wishes
And sets over it the lowliest of men."
(Daniel 4:13-17, New American Standard Bible)

In the second part of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar sees that the tree is chopped down, but the stump is left so that after "seven periods of time" pass, the tree can grow again.

Next Daniel interprets the vision for the King:

'The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged—
it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth.
(Daniel 4:20-22, New American Standard Bible)

So the tree stands for Nebuchadnezzar, he being the ruler of a mighty world empire at the time.

'In that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, "Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,"
this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:
that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.
'And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.
(Daniel 4:23-26, New American Standard Bible)

Daniel explains that Nebuchadnezzar himself will be "cut down" and dwell with the beasts of the field, for seven periods of time, until he recognises that the Most High is the real ruler of mankind, and that he gives rulership of mankind to whomever he wishes.

Daniel tells us:

"All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king… he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws." (Daniel 4:28,33 New American Standard Bible)

So Nebuchadnezzar was "cut down" and lived like an animal for seven periods of time. After this time had ended though, he came to a realisation:

"But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'
(Daniel 4:34,35, New American Standard Bible)

After he came to this realisation, he was restored to his former majesty.

The Greater Fulfillment of the Dream

The prophecies of the Old Testament often had dual fulfillments. How do we find out what the greater fulfillment of this prophecy is? We have a number of clues to help us.

The theme of the Bible: The coming of the "one to whom it belongs"

On his deathbed Jacob, the Patriarch of Israel, called his twelve sons before him and gave them all some last words. When he directed his words to Judah he said:

"The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor." (Genesis 49:10, New Living Translation)

This prophecy indicated that it would be a person descended from Judah that would rule over God's people, and be the one whom would eventually rule the whole world. We know that this person to whom rulership belongs is none other than Jesus. When Jesus came to earth though, he fulfilled many prophecies, yet he did not fulfill prophecies relating to his bringing in God's kingdom, as the Israelites expected their Messiah to do. When would he usher in God's kingdom? When would he become the "one who all nations will honor"?

Examing the words of the prophets can help us. Another prophet who existed at the same time as Daniel, and resided also in Babylon, gave a prophecy that was remarkably similar to Daniel's:

'Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,
Planted by the waters;
It was fruitful and full of branches
Because of abundant waters.
'And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers,
And its height was raised above the clouds
So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.
'But it was plucked up in fury;
It was cast down to the ground;
And the east wind dried up its fruit
Its strong branch was torn off
So that it withered;
The fire consumed it.
(Ezekiel 19:10-12, New American Standard Bible)

Here Ezekiel is giving a prophecy to the Princes of Israel that are in captivity in Babylon. He explains to them that Jerusalem had been "fruitful and full of branches" and "its height was raised above theclouds", but due to its disobedience to God, would be "cast down to the ground." Notice the similarity between Ezekiel's tree and Nebuchadnezzar's tree in Daniel:

Ezekiel: "And its height was raised above the clouds"
Daniel: "And its height reached to the sky"

Ezekiel: "So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches."
Daniel: "And it was visible to the end of the whole earth."

Ezekiel: "It was fruitful and full of branches"
Daniel: "Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant"

The similarities are amazing! Now take a look at another propechy of Ezekiel regarding the coming devastation of Jerusalem:

“O you corrupt and wicked prince of Israel, your final day of reckoning is here! This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Take off your jeweled crown, for the old order changes. Now the lowly will be exalted, and the mighty will be brought down. Destruction! Destruction! I will surely destroy the kingdom. And it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it. Then I will hand it over to him. (Ezekiel 21:25-27, New Living Translation)

Jerusalem, the once great tree, will be cut down. Once it is devastated, there will be now King appointed by God until the one whom has the right, the Messiah, Jesus Christ comes, then God will hand it over to him. Ezekiel has yet another prophecy about God installing Jesus as King:

Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
"On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.
"All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it." (Ezekiel 17:22-24, New American Standard Bible)

Notice againt the similarities between this prophecy and Daniel Chapter 4.

Ezekiel: "All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish."
Daniel: "In order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men."

God will restore his kingdom to again make it a "high tree" via his Messiah. But as we noted before, Jesus did not restore God's kingdom when he came to earth. The Jews expected that he would do this while he was on earth1, even his own disciples thought that he would restore the kingdom after his resurrection:

When they had gathered together they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6, New American Bible)

So when would Jesus restore the kingdom? Again we can look at the prophecy in Daniel Chapter 4. Every one of Daniel's prophecies end with the Messiah restoring the Kingdom, so no doubt this one does too, especially after seeing how the dream of Nebuchadnezzar compares with Ezekiel's prophecies of kingdom restoration.

Seven times

Based on what we have seen, Daniel's tree represents God's sovereignty over the entire earth2. While the Israelites had God's favour, the King who ruled from Jerusalem represented God's sovereignty3. In 607 B.C.E., after centuries of disobedience to God, Jerusalem was captured and destroyed by Babylon, and King Zedekiah, as God's representative on earth, lost his power. Since that time, there has been no Jewish king ruling. From this time on, God would have no representative on earth until Jesus restored the kingdom, and Jerusalem would be in a lowly state, ruled over by the nations.

So the tree was cut down in 607 B.C.E., when would God restore it? After seven times. How long are these seven times? The Bible itself gives us an answer:

Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
(Revelation 12:6,14 New American Standard Bible)

Revelation shows us that three and a half times (a time + two times + half a time) equals 1260 days (or 360 days per "time", which was the number of days in a Hebrew year). So logically if 1,260 days equals 3.5 times, then 7 times equals 2,520 days.

Does this mean 2,520 literal days (or 7 years) after Jerusalem's destruction that the kingdom would be restored? No, it could not be literal days because 7 years after Jerusalem's destruction nothing happened. The kingdom was not restored. In fact Jesus indicated when he was on earth that these seven times that Jerusalem would be ruled over by the nations (or the Gentiles) were still continuing and would continue into the future:

"They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24, New American Standard Bible)

There is another Biblical principle that is often used in interpreting prophecies, and that is the "day for a year" principle. For example when Ezekiel had to prophesy how long it would be until the destruction of Jerusalem, he was told:

"You shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. (Ezekiel 4:6, New American Standard Bible)

Also, the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for forty years after spending forty days spying out the Promised Land but rebelling against God and not entering into it4.

So if we count 2,520 years from 607 B.C.E, that brings us to 1914 C.E (or A.D.), the year when Christ begins to rule as a representative of God's sovereignty.

UNDER CONTSTRUCTION

Everything below this line is notes only, that may be used in the future of this article

Say what?

I did not see Jesus be enthroned as King in Jerusalem in 1914! Obviously the Gentile Times could not have ended in 1914. Or could they?


Commentators agree that this scripture here refers to the Jesus, the Messiah, the one whom all the nations shall honor. Notice that Jesu

God's chosen people had been the Israelite nation, but as we know, they continuously disobeyed God and were sent into exile in Babylon for their sins and their capital Jerusalem was destroyed. In relation to this, God's prophet Ezekiel said:

“O you corrupt and wicked prince of Israel, your final day of reckoning is here! This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Take off your jeweled crown, for the old order changes. Now the lowly will be exalted, and the mighty will be brought down. Destruction! Destruction! I will surely destroy the kingdom. And it will not be restored until the one appears who has the right to judge it. Then I will hand it over to him. (Ezekiel 21:25-27, New Living Translation)

God here was saying that Jerusalem's destruction will be brought down, and the kingdom will not be restored until the "one appears who has the right", and then God will hand it over to him. A prophet who was a contempary of Ezekiel was Daniel, who was called by King Nebuchadnezzar to explain a dream that he had. This is what Nebuchadnezzar exlained to him:

Jesus' prophecy

"They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24, New American Standard Bible)

Ezekiel's prophecy

Ezekiel 19
Lament for the Princes of Israel
1"As for you, take up a (A)lamentation for the (B)princes of Israel
2and say,
'What was your mother?
A lioness among lions!
She lay down among young lions,
She reared her cubs.
3'When she brought up one of her cubs,
He became a lion,
And he learned to tear his prey;
He devoured men.
4'Then nations heard about him;
He was captured in their pit,
And they (C)brought him with hooks
To the land of Egypt.
5'When she saw, as she waited,
That her hope was lost,
She took another of her cubs
And made him a young lion.
6'And he (D)walked about among the lions;
He became a young lion,
He learned to tear his prey;
He devoured men.
7'He destroyed their fortified towers
And laid waste their cities;
And the land and its fullness were appalled
Because of the sound of his roaring.
8'Then (E)nations set against him
On every side from their provinces,
And they spread their net over him;
He was captured in their pit.
9'(F)They put him in a cage with hooks
And (G)brought him to the king of Babylon;
They brought him in hunting nets
So that his voice would be heard no more
On the mountains of Israel.
10'Your mother was (H)like a vine in your vineyard,
Planted by the waters;
It was fruitful and full of branches
Because of abundant waters.
11'And it had (I)strong branches fit for scepters of rulers,
And its (J)height was raised above the clouds
So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.
12'But it was (K)plucked up in fury;
It was (L)cast down to the ground;
And the (M)east wind dried up its fruit
Its (N)strong branch was torn off
So that it withered;
The fire consumed it.
13'And now it is planted in the (O)wilderness,
In a dry and thirsty land.
14'And (P)fire has gone out from its branch;
It has consumed its shoots and fruit,
So that there is not in it a strong branch,
A scepter to rule.'"
This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.

Isa 6:11

every prophecy of Daniel (except Chapter 9) concludes with Jesus arriving in God's kingdom - 2, 7, 8, 12

Ezek. 17:22-24 The unbelief of man shall not make the promise of God of none effect. The parable of a tree, used in the threatening, is here presented in the promise. It appears only applicable to Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah of God. The kingdom of Satan, which has borne so long, so large a sway, shall be broken, and the kingdom of Christ, which was looked upon with contempt, shall be established. Blessed be God, our Redeemer is seen even by the ends of the earth. We may find refuge from the wrath to come, and from every enemy and danger, under his shadow; and believers are fruitful in him. (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible, <http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhcc.xxvii.xvii.html?scrBook=Ezek&scrCh=17-17&scrV=0-0#xxvii.xvii-p0.1>)

22. The highest branch - Of the royal seed; of the highest branch that is heir to the throne; namely, the Messiah. An high mountain - Upon mount Zion. Eminent - Not for outward splendour, but for spiritual advantages.
23. In the mountain - In Jerusalem. All fowl - All nations. In the shadow - There they shall find peace and safety.
24. The trees - The great ones on earth. The high tree - The kingdom of Babylon, which was brought low indeed, when overthrown by Darius and Cyrus. (Wesley's Notes on the Bible, Chapter 17, <http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.ii.xxvii.xviii.ii.html>

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