By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
One of the greatest evidences that the Bible is the Word of God comes from prophecy and fulfillment.
Several times in the Old Testament, God’s Prophets challenged the prophets of the false gods to prove their credentials. Time after time, the Prophets challenged the pagans to show the future as evidence that their “gods” were truly Divine:
Isaiah 41:21-24-21 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. 22 “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. 23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together. 24 Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.
Isaiah 42:9-Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Isaiah 44:6-7-6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. 7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them.
Isaiah 45:21-Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me.
In this article, we are going to notice one of the most profound prophecies in the Word of God: the seventy weeks of Daniel.
At three different times, the people of Judah had been taken captive to the land of Babylon: in the years 606, 597, and 586 B.C. Daniel was one of the young captives taken in 606.
However, God was faithful to His people; and even when the trials of life were ready to destroy the saints, the Lord was with them.
God had decreed that the people of Israel would be in captivity for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10); and in 538 B.C., Daniel (recognizing that the time was near for his people to return to their land) began to pray for the Hebrews.
For 21 days, he intercedes to the Lord for the Hebrews (Daniel 10:13); and then the angel Gabriel brings a message to him.
The angel tells Daniel about the coming of the Messiah. He declares:
Daniel 9:24-27-24 “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 “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.
26 “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. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
Let’s carefully examine this prophecy.
The Meaning Of “Weeks” Or “Sevens”
The text tells us that there is a period of seventy “weeks” or “sevens.”
What does this mean?
Often when God speaks of national judgment and prophecy in the Scriptures, a “day” is used to stand for a “year.”
For example, when the people of Israel were condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years, it was in direct relationship to how the spies had spent forty days in the land. We are told:
Numbers 14:34-According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.
Later, the Prophet Ezekiel (who was contemporary with Daniel and Jeremiah) received instruction to lie on his side for several days.
Why did God command him to do this?
Ezekiel 4:6-And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.
Thus, Daniel (understanding the symbolic significance of “a day for a year” formula in the Prophetic Scriptures) would have understood that this was a prophecy of 490 years.
Josh McDowell provides some very important relevant information regarding the duration of these events as well:
“1. The Hebrew word for “week” is shabua and literally means a “seven.” (We should disassociate any English concept of week with the concept intended by Gabriel.) Then, in Hebrew, the idea of 70 weeks is “seventy sevens.” 2. The Jews were familiar with a “seven” of both days and years. “It was, in certain respects, even more important.” 22/13 3. Leviticus 25:2-4 illustrates the above fact. Leviticus 25:8 shows that there was a multiple of a week of years. Remembering what has been said previously, there are several reasons for believing that the 70 weeks mentioned in Daniel are 70 sevens of years. 1. Daniel had been thinking in terms of years and multiples of seven earlier in the chapter (Daniel 9:1,2). 2. Daniel knew that the Babylonian captivity was based on violation of the Sabbatic year, and since they were in captivity for 70 years, evidently the Sabbatic year was violated 490 years (Leviticus 26:32-35; II Chronicles 36:21 and Daniel 9:24). 3. The context is consistent and makes sense when we understand the 70 weeks as years. 4. Shabua is found in Daniel 10:2,3. Context demands it to mean “weeks” of days. It is literally “three sevens of days.” If Daniel meant days in 9:24-27, why don’t we find the same form of expression as that in chapter 10? Obviously, years are meant in chapter 9.” (Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Volume One-Historical Evidences For The Christian Faith, 171 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers)
The Ultimate Focus Of The Prophecy
The angel makes it clear to Daniel that the primary reason for the prophecy is to instruct the people regarding the arrival of the Messiah.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Prophets of God had looked forward to the day when the Anointed Prince of God would arrive and deliver people from sin. It has been estimated that there are between one hundred to four hundred prophecies in the Old Testament regarding this Chosen One of God.
While some people in our day and age would rather believe there was no personal Messiah promised (usually because they do not want to accept that Jesus is the Messiah), the evidence from the Scriptures (as well as from the ancient Rabbinic commentaries on the Scriptures) confirm that the expectation was quite high for the Lord to send His Prince:
“But though the name is of later origin, the idea of a personal Messiah runs through the Old Testament. It is the natural outcome of the prophetic future hope….The ideal king to whom Isaiah looks forward will be a scion of the stock of Jesse, on whom will rest the spirit of God as a spirit of wisdom, valor, and religion, and who will rule in the fear of God, his loins girt with righteousness and faithfulness (xi. 1-3a, 5). He will not engage in war or in the conquest of nations; the paraphernalia of war will be destroyed (ix. 4); his sole concern will be to establish justice among his people (ix. 6b; xi. 3b, 4)….As evidence that in the Roman period the Messianic hope had become universal among the Jews may be adduced: (1) Jesus’ conviction that he was the Messiah, a conviction inspired in him by the current belief in a Messiah, as is shown by the fact that on his entry into Jerusalem the populace hailed him as such; (2) the testimony of Josephus (” B. J.” vi. 5, § 4), Tacitus (” Hist.” v. 13), and Suetonius (Vespasian, iv.) regarding the Messianic belief of the Jewish people at that time; (3) the fact that even in Philo’s picture of the future, in spite of its moralistic tendency, the Messianic king has a place (comp. “De Præmiis et Pœnis,” § 16). It may be noted in this connection that the “Prayer for the Coming of the Messiah,” as the version of it given both in the Babylonian and in the Palestinian recensions of the Shemoneh ‘Esreh shows (see Nos. 14 and 15 respectively), can not have become an integral part of the daily prayers later than the time immediately following the destruction of the Temple, for in that period the “Shemoneh ‘Esreh” received its present form. Hillel’s assertion (Sanh. 98b) that there would be no future Messiah for Israel since the latter had had its Messiah in the days of Hezekiah, can have no weight as a contrary argument, as Hillel lived in the reign of Herod the Great, at the beginning of the period which marks the development of the popular belief in the Messiah.” (Cyrus Adler, The Messiah In The Jewish Tradition, 33-173 (Kindle Edition); New York; Funk and Wagnalls)
Now, the Prophet Daniel will be told about the work of the Messiah, as well as when He will arrive.
The Work Of The Messiah
The Prophet is told several things regarding the work of the Messiah.
For starters, he is informed that the Messiah will arrive personally, at the appointed time, and that He will be “cut off” not for Himself, but for the people (Daniel 9:26).
The terminology “cut off” is interesting. Throughout the Old Testament, the phrase “cut off” had reference to one who was disgraced from the community, and who was usually killed (Exodus 12:15, 19; 30:33; Leviticus 7:20-21).
The text specifies that the Messiah would not be put to death for any personal wrongdoing (“not for Himself”), implying that He was killed for the wrongdoing of others (notice how this harmonizes with Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22).
This also harmonizes with the teaching that the Messiah will finish transgression, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24).
The idea of bringing a complete halt to the power of sin, and of completely reconciling mankind back to God (literally, “making friends again”) would be one of the most important works of the Messiah. Truly, the Messiah would bring in “everlasting righteousness!”
His Advent would also bring in the sealing of vision and prophecy, meaning that His Coming would gradually bring a complete cessation of miraculous revelation. This happened with the Coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:8-10), and was testified to by the second century century Christians after the completion of and general acceptance of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The phrase “to anoint the Most Holy” had reference to the coronation of a king. This was fulfilled when Jesus ascended to Heaven in the presence of several witnesses (Acts 1:9-11) and received His kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14).
Finally, the Messiah would bring an end to the Old Testament Law with its’ various sacrifices and offerings (Daniel 9:25).
The Divisions Of The Prophecy
Daniel is told that the 490 years are divided into three time-frames:
A period of 7 weeks (, 7×7=49 years);
A period of 62 weeks (62×7=434 years);
A period of 1 week (1×7=7 years).
The reasons for this threefold division of the 70 weeks will become apparent further in our study.
Now notice exactly WHEN the text says that the Messiah will emerge:
Daniel 9:25-“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 Messiah would arrive at the end of the 63rd week, I.e., 483 years from the starting point of the prophecy, and before the commencement of the final week.
The Starting Point Of The Prophecy
The starting point of the prophecy is said to commence when there is a command given to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25).
Notice that the text specifies that the command to restore and build Jerusalem will include the command to rebuild the city walls (Daniel 9:25).
Just as the Jews were captured at three different times, so they were returned to their land at three different times:
A Group Returned In 536 (Led By Zerubbabel)
A Group Returned In 457 (Led By Ezra)
A Group Returned In 444 (Led By
Now, which of these returns marked the starting point of the prophecy?
The answer lies in remembering that the commission for the return included the command to rebuild the temple walls (Daniel 9:25).
What was Zerubbabel commissioned to rebuild when he returned?
2 Chronicles 36:23-Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!
Zerubbabel was commanded to rebuild the Temple. There is no mention of his being ordered to rebuild the city walls.
Likewise, when we read from Nehemiah, we learn that he is exceedingly depressed and sorrowful as he hears that the city walls are not yet rebuilt in his day:
Nehemiah 1:4-So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Now, it was common knowledge that Jerusalem had been destroyed decades earlier in the siege of king Nebuchadnezzar; yet Nehemiah’s response shows that he is grieved that the walls had not yet been rebuilt.
This implies that Nehemiah knew that someone had been ordered to build the walls, and that he was saddened when he heard that this had not yet been accomplished.
As Archer points out:
“The third decree is to be inferred from the granting of Nehemiah’s request by Artaxerxes I in 446 B.C., as recorded in Nehemiah 2: 5–8. His request was “Send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then we read, “So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time [for my return to his palace]” (NASB). The king also granted him a requisition of timber for the gates and walls of the city. It should be noted that when Nehemiah first heard from his brother Hanani that the walls of Jerusalem had not already been rebuilt, he was bitterly disappointed and depressed—as if he had previously supposed that they had been rebuilt (Neh. 1: 1–4). This strongly suggests that there had already been a previous decree authorizing the rebuilding of those city walls. Such an earlier decree is found in connection with Ezra’s group that returned to Jerusalem in 457, the seventh year of Artaxerxes I.” (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., The New International Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties: Informed Answers To Your Most Troublesome Questions, 7614-7628 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Finally, please notice that Ezra is the only one who was actually commissioned to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, including the walls:
Ezra 9:9-For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
Thus, this prophecy began with the
commission given to Ezra, in 457 B.C.
Doing The Math
Starting with the year 457 B.C., we subtract the first division of the seventy weeks: 49 years. 457 minus 49 brings us to the year 408 B.C.
This is significant in that some Hebrew scholars believe that this was when the last Book of the Old Testament (Malachi) was written, and the Old Testament canon was completed.
From 408 B.C., we subtract the next section of weeks (434 years). Since we add a year to the count (because there is no year zero), what do we come up with? 408-434 brings us to the year A.D. 27.
Remember that Daniel had been told that when this point arrived (i.e., the 63rd week), the Messiah would arrive.
What happened in the year 27?
Archer again tells us:
“If, then, the decree of 457 granted to Ezra himself is taken as the terminus a quo for the commencement of the 69 heptads, or 483 years, we come out to the precise year of the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah (or Christ): 483 minus 457 comes out to A.D. 26. But since a year is gained in passing from 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 (there being no such year as zero), it actually comes out to A.D. 27. It is generally agreed that Christ was crucified in A.D. 30, after a ministry of a little more than three years. This means His baptism and initial ministry must have taken place in A.D. 27—a most remarkable exactitude in the fulfillment of such an ancient prophecy. Only God could have predicted the coming of His Son with such amazing precision; it defies all rationalistic explanation.” (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., The New International Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties: Informed Answers To Your Most Troublesome Questions, 7639-7653 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Daniel’s prophecy provides an exact calendar for the Jewish people of when the Messiah would arrive!
Confirming The Covenant During The Final Week
We are taught about the final ‘week’ of seven years. Beginning at the 63rd week (or the 483rd year since the beginning of the prophecy in 457), we are told that the Messiah will “confirm the covenant” for the last week.
While Christ’s New Covenant was not established until He died on the cross (Hebrews 9:16-17), Jesus started teaching about it while He was alive.
Luke 16:16-The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
Yet notice that the text says that in the midst of the week, the Messiah would be cut off, even as He brings an end to the sacrificial Law of Moses (Daniel 9:26-27).
The “middle” of the week would be 3 1/2 years.
Isn’t it fascinating that 3 1/2 years into His ministry, Jesus was crucified (Luke 3:23)?
Furthermore, the Bible makes it clear that when Jesus died at Calvary, He “brought an end” to the Law of Moses with all of its’ animal sacrifices and regulations (Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 7:4; Hebrews 10:9-10).
However, it is also worth pointing out that the text says the Messiah would confirm the covenant for the full seven years.
But if the Messiah was to be killed halfway through the final week, how could He continue to confirm the covenant?
The only way would be if He came back to life AFTER His death (which is exactly what He did-1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
As such, there is contained within this Scripture the prophecy of the Messiah’s death, as well as His resurrection from the dead.
The Prince To Come
Daniel is also told that the city of Jerusalem would again be destroyed, and that the determination to destroy the city would be made within the seventy weeks.
Now, please notice: Daniel does not say that the city would be destroyed DURING the seventy weeks; but rather, he is told that the DETERMINATION that the city would be destroyed is made during the seventy weeks.
“It should be pointed out that the prophecy does not say that the city would be destroyed within the span of the one week. Rather, it says that within that week the destruction of the city was determined. One could hardly read verses 26 and 27 without recalling our Lord’s words: ‘Behold, your house is left unto you desolate’ (Mt. 23:38).” (Roy Deaver, ‘Matthew Twenty-Four,’ in Wendell Winkler, Premillennialism: True Or False? 109; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Winkler Publications Inc.).
We read in the prophecy that there would be a terrible leader who would destroy the city of Jerusalem. Further, the destruction of the city would involve the “abomination of desolation.”
Daniel 9:27-Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
An “abomination” had reference especially to a religious evil. The word “desolation” meant something which was left empty or destroyed.
Thus, this religious desecration would bring about the destruction.
Do we know what the abomination of desolation is?
Fortunately, Jesus makes it very clear.
While the Lord was describing the judgment of Jerusalem for its’ sins (Matthew 23:36-24:34), He instructed His followers to watch for this “abomination of desolation:”
Matthew 24:15-Therefore when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
Mark 13:14-So when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Luke makes it absolutely clear what this abomination of desolation is:
Luke 21:20-But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
The “abomination of desolation” had reference to the armies of the Roman Empire.
In the year 70 A.D., these armies stood where they should not have (i.e., within the city of Jerusalem and the Temple), and brought about the destruction of the Jewish economy and system.
The prophecy of the seventy weeks of Daniel speaks to us of the inspiration of the Word of God, and reveals an incredible and staggering depth of wisdom from the eternal Creator.
This prophecy points towards the Messiah of God Who sacrificed everything to reopen the doorway of friendship between the holy God and fallen man.
How conclusive are the evidences that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?
Former atheist Ralph Muncaster examines thirty of the prophecies of the Messiah and mathematically works out the odds of just these thirty coming to pass randomly:
“The cumulative probability of all these prophecies randomly coming true in one person would be 1 chance in 10110. This would be like winning about 16 lotteries in a row. Even if a skeptic were to substantially reduce some of the above estimates, the result would still be deemed impossible. For example, let’s very conservatively assume the above estimates are off by a factor of a trillion trillion! This would still result in the “impossible odds” of all prophecies coming true in one man-Jesus-of one chance in 1086! How remote are these odds? They would still be like taking all of the matter in the entire universe (that is, one billion billion stars and solar systems) and breaking it all down into subatomic particles, and randomly selecting one marked electron! Truly the prophecies made about Jesus in the Old Testament alone verify the Bible’s claims about him, and his claims about himself.” (Ralph Muncaster, Examine The Evidence: Exploring The Case For Christianity, 355; Eugene Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)
Friends, the Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus Christ is His Son!
The God of Heaven loves you so very much that He sent His own precious Son to die on the cross of Calvary to pay for the debt of your sins (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9). Jesus came to the world, ready to sacrifice Himself to save you from eternal Hell (John 10:17-18; 2 Corinthians 8:9). He died for us, was buried, and arose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
He invites believers to repent of their sins and to be baptized into Him for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-38). Why not obey His invitation today? If you are a child of God who has left the Lord in sin-why not come back to Him by repenting of sin and praying to Him (1 John 1:9; Revelation 3:20)? Your brethren stand ready to assist you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.