The 70 Weeks of Daniel
As the 70-year Babylonian captivity was drawing to a close, God sends a messenger to tell Daniel there is yet another 490-year period left in Israel’s history in which He will specifically deal with His Chosen People, the Jews, and the Holy City, Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:1-2 says, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans — in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” NKJV
11 ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 ‘ Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation. NKJV
10 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. NKJV
Daniel’s captivity began in 605 B.C., and it was now 538 B.C, about 67 years after the initial fall of Jerusalem. Zechariah says the 70-year period began with the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C. (Zechariah 7:5). This means the time of the captivity was going to end in just a few years, probably in 516-515 B.C. The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was issued by Artaxerxes March 15, 445 B.C. (Nehemiah 1-2), and Jesus Christ was cut off 69 weeks (483 years) later.
Daniel 9:24-26 gives the only date prophesied ahead of time in the Bible—the coming of Messiah.
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. NKJV
Prior to the prophecy of verses 24-27, we see Daniel in fervent prayer, and the prayer is worthy of a separate study of its own. However, for the purpose of this article, we are focusing on the prophecy of verses 24-27, introduced first by verses 1 and 2.
While Daniel was praying, the angel Gabriel, appearing in the form of a man, appeared to him to give him this great prophecy that would cover many centuries, even though the total number of years with which the prophecy dealt were only 490. He introduced the prophecy with these words:
Daniel 9: 20-23
20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 “At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision: NKJV
Then Gabriel went on to say,
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.” NKJV
There are several things that must be noted about this prophecy, and the first of those is that it is a time specifically determined upon the Jewish people and Jerusalem. The words couldn’t be clearer, and any effort to make this prophecy apply to the Church is to pervert the meaning of the passage. God IS NOT finished in His dealings with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. No matter how hard many Replacement Theology teachers and Christians who follow them try to twist the Scriptures to say that God is finished with Jewish people because they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. They have suffered much because of that rejection, but God is slowly bringing them back to Himself. I have a number of earlier articles on this subject posted at this blog, which anyone can read to learn all the reasons why God is still dealing with the Jewish people and the nation of Israel as a whole. Today they are in their own land, mostly in unbelief, which the Scriptures predicted. Again, read my prior articles dealing with this subject for references, but one such reference is Ezekiel 36. Others include Isaiah 25-27. With that said, the 70th week of Daniel is a primarily Jewish time period of 7-years.
What had been the transgression and sin of Israel? Idolatry. Any cursory reading of the Old Testament will reveal that. Every time you turn around, the Israelites are worshiping false gods. And the one lesson the Jews have learned in 4,000 years of history is that YHWH God haters idols worse than He hates anything else because idolatry always leads to other sins, especially sexual immorality.
Then the passage at hand says 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. This accurately describes the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. In fact, in the Hebrew Bible Ezra and Nehemiah are one Book.
Verse 26 goes on to say, “And after the sixty-two weeks [of years] Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” This happened 483 years later to the day. Jesus Christ was cut off, or killed, but not for Himself. In other words, He died not because of anything He had done, but rather He died for us to bring us salvation. Then it says, “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.” The people who destroyed the Temple were the Romans under General Titus. The prince who is to come in this verse is the still future Antichrist. Verse 27 says this Antichrist, “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.” NKJV
This means the Antichrist will confirm a covenant with Israel and the Jews for 7-years, giving them the right to rebuild their Temple and make sacrifices, but he will break that covenant in the middle of that 7-year period. There is only one place in the world the Jews can make sacrifices and offerings, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and they must have a Temple rebuilt in order to make it legal in their system. However, when the Antichrist breaks the covenant in the middle, he sets up his image in the Temple and demands to be worshiped as God (Matthew 24:15; Mark: 13:14). And Jesus spoke of it as a future event.
People want to ask why there has been a break between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. This gap is the current Church Age, where the Church is God’s primary agent in the world, with Israel more or less in the background. However, when the Church is taken out of the world in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), Israel once again becomes God’s primary agent in the world, with Gentiles still being drawn to God too (Revelation 7:9-17). In fact, Jeremiah 30:7 calls this period of time “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Take special note of 1 Thessalonians 4:17—harpadzo means to snatch up, seize up, or catch up with great force, which is exactly what the word Rapture means, hence the class of birds called Raptors. And the Latin word from which we get the word rapture is in the Latin Vulgate.
So to summarize the 70th Week of Daniel in an outline, we see the following.
- The 70th Week of Daniel is the Great Tribulation period—7-years in duration, and based on the lunar calendar. That means each year has 360 days, rather than 365 like our solar calendar.
- The Great Tribulation is a time specified upon the Jewish people and Jerusalem and has nothing to do with the church.
- The 70th week of Daniel is the Great Tribulation (Dan. 9:1-2, 19-27).
- When Daniel wrote, the Jews were in Babylon, nearing the end of the 70-year captivity brought on by failure to let the land have its Sabbath every 7th year (Lev. 25:1-6; Dan. 9:1-2; Jer. 25:11; 50:33-34).
- The reason for the 70 weeks of years (7 x 70 = 490 years) is to complete the history of Israel. It is a time appointed for Daniel’s people, the Jewish people, and the Holy City, Jerusalem.
- Six things happen during the 70 weeks (Dan. 9:24-27):
- Finish transgression—the transgression of Israel was idolatry.
- Make an end of sins.
- Make reconciliation for iniquity (Israel: 70 weeks—For your people and for Your holy city).
- Bring in everlasting righteousness.
- Seal up the vision and prophecy.
- Anoint the Holy of Holies.
- The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was issued by Artaxerxes March 15, 445 B.C. (Nehemiah 1-2), and Jesus Christ was cut off 69 weeks (483 years) later.
- The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but the ultimate fulfillment of the “prince who is to come” is the Antichrist (Dan. 9:26-27).
- The “prince who is to come,” Antichrist, will make a covenant with the Jews for one week (7 years), but he will break it after 3 1/2 years and set up the image (“the abomination that makes desolate”) in the rebuilt temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14; Rev. 13).
- The Holy of Holies will be anointed when Jesus returns (Ezek. 40-48).
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