Foreordained Before the Foundation of the World
Today’s Text: Zechariah 9:9
HOLY WEEK: Palm Sunday
Christians reflecting on Holy Week connect Bible prophecy with God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Specifically on Palm Sunday, the dramatic fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy leaps off the pages of the Bible.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Our Lord riding into Jerusalem began a climactic week that was choreographed in every detail. The events taking place after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem set the stage for the most profound moment of earth’s history.
Daniel the prophet precisely identified this set time. Five centuries earlier, the angel Gabriel had appeared to him outlining 70 weeks of years that would eventuate Messiah’s presence in Jerusalem during Passover week. Gabriel told Daniel:
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.
And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:25-26).
Recorded in the prophecy of Daniel, Gabriel outlined 70 weeks—each comprised of seven lunar years—that pertain to Israel’s future in relation to the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. The Old Testament documents that in the month Nisan of 445 B.C., Artaxerxes commissioned Nehemiah to rebuild the devastated city and wall surrounding Jerusalem.
The king of Persia’s edict inaugurated the prophetic timetable Gabriel had outlined to Daniel almost a century earlier (Neh. 2:8; 13-15). The first seven weeks of lunar years or a total of 49 years predicted by Daniel correlate to the time required for rebuilding the desolated city of Jerusalem (v. 25). The subsequent 62 seven-year cycles add another 434 years to the equation totaling 483 years or 69 weeks of years.
Gabriel informed Daniel that at the end of this time period, Messiah would be “cut off” or killed (v. 26). Accordingly, the 69th week of years ended in Nisan (March/April) around A.D. 32.
The Hebrew Scriptures present a cohesive prophetic outline. The prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah converged at the set time when Jesus publically identified Himself by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Dan. 9:26; Zech. 9:9).
The apostle Peter documented the prophetic significance in the affirmation, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Pet. 1:20).
Thronged by multitudes crying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley and passed through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem on His way to the Temple Mount. The Lord’s actions infuriated His enemies who became even more adamant in their determination to stop Him.
Jesus’ indignation at the commercial atmosphere in the Temple precincts intensified the tension when He overturned tables using a handmade whip to drive vendors and their livestock from the courtyard (Psa. 69:9 cf. Jn. 2:17).
When Jesus returned to Jerusalem the next morning, antagonistic groups were on the scene to challenge him. These were not chance encounters.
The Herodians along with some of the chief priests were the first to question Jesus. Their goal was to force Him to take an incriminating stand on the hot-button issue of taxes being paid to Rome (Mt. 22:15-22). Then, the Sadducees tried to stump Him with a question concerning the resurrection (v. 23-33). The Pharisees concluded with a disingenuous question regarding the Torah (v. 34-40).
It is significant that Jesus was tested at the very time lambs were inspected for defects or flaws prior to Passover. His responses caused the interrogators to marvel. His teaching astonished the crowds gathered to witness the exchanges (vv. 22, 33, 46). Ultimately, no one was able to find fault. Yet, enemies conspired to destroy Him. Before the end of the week, Daniel’s prophecy would be realized. He would be “cut off” (Dan. 9:26 cf. Lk. 19:47).
Despite every indication via His teaching, miracles and arrival in Jerusalem precisely as prophesied, the religious elite chose to ignore His credentials. In the attempt to silence Him, the stage was set for the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy (v.26).
The final week of Jesus’ ministry was central in God’s redemptive program. It was not a fluke. Every detail of every encounter was part of the plan. The outcome of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was a set time (Mt. 16:21).
Six months earlier, Jesus had begun preparing His disciples for the reality that when they arrived in Jerusalem for Passover, He would, “suffer many things . . . and be killed” (v. 21). The plan did not end with His spectacular entrance to Jerusalem surrounded by thronging crowds shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and the words of the 118th Psalm, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Christians recognize the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem as undeniable verification of Messiahship—He was the Christ. Jesus entered the city, however, knowing full well what awaited Him. He would give His life as meticulously revealed through the Hebrew prophets fulfilling God’s predetermined plan of redemption (1 Pet.1:17-21).
As we focus attention on the events describing Jesus’ final week of ministry, be reminded that God is truly awesome in His ability to arrange every detail to accomplish His purposes (Isa. 55:11). Beginning with His entrance into Jerusalem, everything Jesus experienced during His final week of ministry was foreordained as a set time in God’s redemptive plan.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2018, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
For more information about Palm Sunday, use the links to access related material:
1) Les vendeurs chassés du Temple (The Merchants Chased from the Temple). By James Tissot. [Public domain; No known copyright restrictions] via the Brooklyn Museum – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios