“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing …”Daniel 9:25-26
In my last post, I demonstrated how the LORD has decreed 70 weeks of years — or 490 years — to accomplish His prophetic purposes through His people Israel. When revealing the vision to Daniel, the angel Gabriel makes notable divisions in the weeks, which is why most scholars and Bible students interpret the 70 weeks as broken into defined periods of time, not as one continuous interval.
Now within the Christian community, there are many different interpretations of how these divisions are to be understood. Most preterists believe that all 70 weeks have been fulfilled in the past, culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Many futurists also disagree about the interpretation of these divisions, especially in how they are connected to the first advent of Christ. One easily can get lost in the weeds when trying to determine how to calculate years using solar, lunar, or sabbatical measurements and so on.
Granted, this prophecy creates some challenges, and my aim in this post is not to be too technical but simply to explain how I interpret the divisions of the 70 weeks. More than anything, my goal is bring God glory for the precision of His prophetic word!
StartING the Clock
The Issuing of the Decree to Rebuild Jerusalem
Daniel received this vision roughly 100 years prior to the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Biblical historians have identified several candidates for which decree was in view for this prophecy, but only one decree fits the description. The decree of Persian King Artaxerxes (circa 445-444 B.C.) is the only one that specifically called for the rebuilding of the city Jerusalem and its walls. This decree is connected to the ministry of Nehemiah.
So the prophetic clock started when King Artaxerxes gave the command to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 B.C. Gabriel did reveal to Daniel that there would be a division of seven weeks = 49 years = and then another division of 62 weeks = or 434 years.
Many have debated what the first division of 49 years signifies. Some believe it refers to the amount of time required by Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. Others suggest it is connected to the close of prophetic ministry of the Old Testament.
Either way, to simplify the first part of this prophecy, the clock began at the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, which triggered the start of 483 prophetic years (49+434=483).
What matters most is that Gabriel gave Daniel a precise timeline for the arrival of the Messiah the Prince. In other words, the long-anticipated Messiah of Israel was predicted to come 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
That is an amazingly precise prediction, and that is precisely what happened.
The Coming of Messiah the Prince
“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”Daniel 9:25
As God would have it, the ministry of Yeshua of Nazareth, the Messiah, culminated precisely 483 years after the giving of the decree by Artaxerxes. Most calculations place the exact date of fulfillment at the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
- The decree from Artaxerxes as recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8,17-18 given on March 5, 444 B.C.
- 483 sabbatical years (the first 69 weeks) were fulfilled to the day on March 30, A.D. 33, the date of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (This is 476 years according to the Julian Calendar). Jesus was crucified four days later on April 3, A.D. 33.
Critical scholars and many Jewish scholars scoff at this amazing prophecy because of its accuracy. But one obvious observation remains, if Daniel’s prophecy is correct — which it is! — then the Messiah of Israel should have been revealed somewhere around 30 A.D. Is it mere coincidence that Jesus of Nazareth began His public ministry precisely at this time? If not Jesus, then what other possible candidate fulfills this prophecy?
Daniel’s prophecy most likely explains why there was such a universal expectation for the Messiah when Jesus arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, many of the Jews were expecting the conquering King to deliver Israel from the oppression of the pagan Roman Empire.
But had the Jews simply read Daniel’s prophecy a little closer, they would have learned that not only would Messiah come at this time, but also that He would be cut off — dying not for Himself.
THE STOP WATCH HAS BEEN PAUSED
Messiah will be Cut Off
“After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.“Daniel 9:26 — NIV
Daniel’s prophecy is clear that the advent of Messiah would result in His death. As the King James Version says, “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.” There is no clearer prophecy in all of Scripture that describes the coming ministry and tragic death of Messiah. Only Jesus Christ fits the profile and fulfills this prophecy. No other figure in the history of the nation of Israel even comes close.
In my next post, I will address the “people of the prince to come,” and I will demonstrate how the “prince” to come is in reference to the Antichrist because of his connection to the abomination of desolation. But for now, I do hold the interpretation that the prophetic clock was put on hold at the death of Christ, which means the final 7 years — Daniel’s 70th Week — is yet future.
Here are my top reasons why I believe this last week has not yet been fulfilled.
- The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ initiated the times of the Gentiles, as the LORD expanded His reach and extended His saving grace to all nations through the redemptive work of Christ. I have written extensively about this unique “summer” season of grace — read here. The Great Commission will continue until the full measure of the Gentiles is complete [see Luke 21:20-24, Romans 11:25-26]. At that time, the LORD will redirect His attention exclusively to the redemption and restoration of His people Israel.
- Jesus and Paul referred to this prophecy in Daniel and the abomination of desolation as the sign of the end of the age, which is yet future. [see Matthew 24:15-29 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8]
- The 70th week is a 7 year period, and Daniel is told that the Antichrist will cause the sacrifices to cease and set up the abomination of desolation in the “middle of the week.”
- There are multiple prophetic passages that designate 3.5 years as the period of time that Antichrist (little horn) will have authority and God’s people will be persecuted. This timeframe is also given as 1,260 or 1,290 days [Daniel 12:11, Revelation 12:6], 42 months [Revelation 13:5], or times, time, and half a time [Daniel 7:25, Revelation 12:14]. Obviously 3.5 is half of 7 years, so I believe that the final prophetic week — the last 7 years — is yet future and will mark the definite end of the age.
Next time I will investigate how Daniel’s 70 weeks relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and how the people of the prince to come may not be who you think.
Until then — Maranatha!