You know, the Bible has a lot to say about words. The book of Proverbs tells us that a well turned word is like “apples of gold in pictures of silver” or that a “word spoken in due season” is a very good thing. In other places in the Bible it tells us how words can be used for evil means. For instance the book of James reminds us how dangerous our tongue can be and by implication the words it issues. James opines the paradox of how we use our tongue (words) to both bless God and then curse our fellow man who is made in the likeness of God.
Of all the words in the Bible there are some which are in a class by themselves. The words I’m talking about are those words which are spoken directly by YHWH the living God of the Bible. The apostle Peter tells us that “by the word of God the heavens were of old”. The book of Hebrews confirms this by saying that the “worlds were framed by the word of God.” Our understanding of the Word is brought full circle by the gospel of John in one of the most profound and far reaching explanations of the Word of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men….
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14
Two thousand years ago in the most selfless act ever recorded the Word became flesh in the person of Yeshua (Jesus), so that He, the living God of the Bible, might pay the righteous penalty for our sins. How unfathomable is that?
But I have a question for you. Okay, a couple of questions…
Did you know the Bible predicted when the Word would become flesh? It’s true, in Daniel chapter 9 we find the most important Messianic prophecy in the Bible, a prophecy which gives us a detailed blueprint for the countdown to the Messiah. Now here’s my second question. Did you know this countdown to the Messiah begins with a Word? Yes, that countdown begins with a very special word. Let’s take look:
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, Daniel 9:25
The above verse begins the most famous countdown in the Bible. Here it tells us that from a “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” there will be 7 “weeks” until the Messiah or as he is called by the apostle John, the Word.
I know many of you have read this verse over the years but let’s look at this so called “commandment” a little closer. Scholars have long proposed four commandments or decrees issued by kings of Persia as the starting point for this prophecy. Briefly they are as follows:
- The decree of Cyrus in 536 BC.
- The decree of Darius “the Great” Artaxerxes in 520 BC
- The decree of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus in 458 BC
- The decree of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus in 444 BC
Each of the above decrees have arguments for and against them being the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25, but all of them have one thing in common. They are issued by secular rulers of Persia. But there is more to this story.
The English word “commandment” in this text of Daniel 9 is the Hebrew word dabar. This Hebrew word is used 1439 times in the Bible and it means speech, word, or speaking. Did you know it is only used 20 times in the Bible as a “commandment”? The vast majority of the time the word dabar is used to reference the “Word” of YHWH, the living God of the Bible. Let me give you a few examples.
To start with, let’s look at Daniel 9. Dabar is used four times in Daniel 9 and the first three times it is clearly used to reference the Words of YHWH. The final usage of dabar is the famous passage of Daniel 9:25:
Daniel 9:2 the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word [dabar] of YHWH came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:12 And he [YHWH] hath confirmed his words [dabar], which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment [word / dabar] came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment [word / dabar] to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks,
In view of the fact that the word dabar is used three other times in Daniel 9 to refer to the spoken words of YHWH as well as hundreds of other times in the same manner throughout the Bible , don’t you think it is at least worth considering that the dabar of Daniel 9:25 also refers to the Words of YHWH? I’m mean aren’t we talking about the very prophecy in the Bible which tells us the precise time when Yeshua, the living Word, came to reconcile mankind to YHWH? How could a prophecy so important begin with anything less than the dabar or word of our Creator?
For those of you who are Bereans, I challenge you to search the Scriptures to see if you can find a “word to restore and build Jerusalem”. To me anyway, one of my greatest pleasures is searching the Scriptures for the treasures YHWH has left for us to find, so I won’t spoil your own treasure hunt by giving it away in this article. What I will do is give a couple of clues to start you on your way.
- First, this “word to restore and build Jerusalem” was given by YHWH directly to, not one, but two Old Testament prophets.
- Second, Ezra the Priest and Scribe mentions this “word” in a very specific context.
- Finally, this “word” can be accurately dated by Scriptural and secular means.
Happy treasure hunting!
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2
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