Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Sevens. (Daniel 9:24-27)

by Helen van Huyssteen Bosman

Daniel the Prophet!’’ None can have a higher title to the name, for thus the Messiah spoke of him (Matthew 24.15). Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”—but Daniel, like the ‘beloved disciple” in Messianic times—beheld in visions, and faithfully recorded what he saw.

The great prediction of the seventy weeks was a message delivered to him by an angel, who spoke to him as a man to a man. A stranger to prophets fare and prophets garb, he lived in the luxury of an Eastern court and was, next to the king, the foremost person in the greatest Empire of antiquity. The following was revealed to Daniel by the Angel Gabriel, while he was praying and confessing the sins of his people:

24 "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.

25 Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven `sevens,' and sixty-two `sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
26 After the sixty-two `sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off 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.

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.' In the middle of the `seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolator”

This prophecy is the most important Messianic prophecy in the Bible because it gives specific timetables for the two comings of the Messiah. The First Coming, as Son of Joseph (Mashiach Ben Josef), occurred exactly 483 years after "the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem," and the Second Coming, as Son of David (Mashiach Ben David) will occur exactly seven years after the "ruler who will come" confirms "a covenant with many." From the context of this prophecy, as well as other prophecies from Daniel, Paul, Jesus and Revelation, we know that this covenant, or treaty, will be one that concerns Israel and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel do several important things.

*  First, they completely demolish the growing belief that Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be the Messiah. Of course he claimed to be the Messiah! Riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and encouraging the crowd embrace Him as their King was entirely Messianic. Zechariah 9:9
*  Second, the fact that Jesus entered Jerusalem on the very specific day that was predicted by Daniel is proof that Jesus not only claimed that He was the Messiah, but he in fact was and is the Messiah, the Saviour of the human race.
*  Third, the fact that there is a final week, a final seven year period that is unfulfilled in Daniel's prophecy, helps to illuminate the context of the catastrophic judgements that will befall the earth as predicted in Revelation.

This final seven year period is divided precisely in half by an event known as the Abomination of Desolation. It is predicted by Daniel and also by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-21. Jesus refers to this prophecy in the book of Daniel and says that when the Abomination is set up the world would experience the worst time of trouble that it has ever seen. The words of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and the predictions in Revelation 13 combine with the words of Jesus and Daniel to make it clear that the Abomination of Desolation will be an image, or an idol of the Antichrist, which will be set up in the Holy Place of a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The setting up of the Abomination divides the final seven year period into two halves of exactly three and a half years each.

These time periods are referred to throughout Daniel and Revelation as either "a time, times and half a time," "42 months," or "1260 days." From these references we know that the prophetic year of the Bible is exactly 360 days long, and that Jesus Christ will return exactly 2,520 days (7 x 360) after the final seven year period begins


Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks


A.  The Introduction: Daniel 9:24

"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy

We need to understand that the Hebrew word that is translated here as "sevens" is the word shavua. This word means a period of seven, either seven days or seven years. Many translations simply interpret it as "week." The Jews observed a seven-day week, resting on the seventh day Sabbath, and they were also required to observe a seven-year week, where every seventh year they allowed the fields to lie fallow in order for the ground to regain its nutrients. In the context of this prophecy we can be sure that the "sevens" described here are yearly "sevens" and not daily "sevens." In other words, this prophecy encompasses Seventy Weeks of years or 490 years.   Another important thing to note about this prophecy is that it applies to Daniel's people and the Holy city. From this we know that everything about this prophecy refers to the Jews and Jerusalem.

The last thing to learn from this verse is that the prophecy ends when six things take place:

1.   transgression for the Jews will finish
2.   sin for the Jews will end,
3.   the Jews will atone for wickedness (repent),
4.   everlasting righteousness will be brought in,
5.   vision and prophecy will conclude and,
6.   the Most Holy Place of the Temple will be anointed.

All six of these things will happen at the Second Coming of the Messiah. The important conclusion to be made from this prophecy is that Jesus Christ will return at the end of the Seventy Weeks.

B.  The Timing of Messiah's First Coming: Daniel 9:25

"Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven `sevens,' and sixty-two `sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble."

According to this prophecy  (7 + 62)  X 7 = 483 years would elapse between two specific dates:

•    First date: The day that Judah in Babylonian captivity was officially permitted to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. The countdown would begin on this date
•    Final date: The day Messiah would be revealed as a Prince, a ruler. Jewish Davidic kings entered the city riding on the back of a colt. The countdown would stop at this date.

Just after the 69 sevens had elapsed, Daniel 9:26 states,  mashiach  yikaret w,ein lo - Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself. The Hebrew word translated as “cut off” has the root form of karat, and is used for “cutting a covenant”, a ritual which involved the death of the sacrificial animal (See Genesis 15:10, 18) Note that Daniel 9:26 states that mashiach nagid-Messiah the Prince—will be cut off and that his death would not be for Himself, but by implication, for others. The Messiah that will see death, will be the same Messiah that will rule as Prince, the nagid.

The prophecy also implies that the death of Messiah the Prince would occur before the destruction of the second Temple.

C.  The Countdown Date

Now we have to determine when the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, was issued. Persian rulers issued four decrees in reference to Judah (the Jews) in their empire.

The decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus fulfilled the description predicted by Daniel. Fortunately for us the exact date of this event was given as being in the month of Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes' reign. When the day of the month is not given in Jewish chronologies, then it can be assumed that the first day is meant. The 1st of Nisan, in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon corresponds to March 14, 445 BC.  Sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years later, the Messiah would come.

How long are the years? Mankind has used hundreds of different ways to calculate the passing of the years, and all of them are different. To calculate this prophecy we need to turn to the Bible and find out how the biblical prophetic calendar was laid out. From Genesis 7:11, 24, 8:3-4, Revelation 12:6, 14 and other texts we know that the Bible uses a simple calendar of 360 days per year. With this in mind we can be more precise and find out the exact day that the Messiah was predicted to come.

360 days times 69 years give us 173,880 days. If we add that number to March 14, 445BC we come to April 6, 32AD. This calculation has been verified by many unbiased sources including the British Royal Observatory of Greenwich, England.

"Comes" to where? The Messiah was predicted to "come" exactly 173,880 days after the command to rebuild Jerusalem. The entire prophecy is focused on the Jews and Jerusalem, so we can conclude that the Messiah would "come" to Jerusalem. Furthermore, he is referred to as "the Anointed One, the ruler" so from this we know that he would come as a ruler or King. The prophet Zechariah predicted the manner in which this would take place saying, "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey..." (Zechariah 9:9).

According to Luke 3:1, Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, who was crowned Emperor on August 19, 14AD. The year from August 19, 28AD to August 19, 29AD was Tiberius' fifteenth year. Jesus was believed to have been baptized in the fall season, which would have been the fall of 28AD. Jesus’ ministry lasted for 3½ years and he was crucified in the spring of 32AD on the eve of Passover. In 32AD Passover fell on April 11. April 6 would have been the Sunday we now commonly celebrate as Palm Sunday.  This was the day, April 6, 32 AD, that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey claiming to be the Messiah. As Jesus was entering the Holy City the crowd cried out, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38).

This was the first time that Jesus publicly acknowledged that He was the Messiah. Previously He had privately revealed this to His disciples (Matthew 16:13-20), and His entire ministry was focused on presenting proof of His Messiahship to the religious leaders but the triumphal entry was the first time that Jesus publicly claimed to be the Messiah to the city of Jerusalem and to the nation of Israel as a whole. Significant to notice that between Zechariah 9:9 and Zechariah 9:10 lies the whole of the period known as the "Church Age."   Verse 10 speaks of the Messianic Kingdom, and the rule of Messiah (see also Dan 2:44)

Jesus had many faithful followers who recognized and proclaimed Him as the Messiah, but the leaders of Israel, and thus the nation as a whole, had not recognised Him. That is why before He entered the city He looked out upon it and wept saying,   "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." (Luke 19:42). Notice that Jesus referred to a specific day. It was the very day that Daniel's prophecy was fulfilled.

Then Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (verse 43) saying that this would happen, "because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation," (verse 44). Daniel's prophecy is the only prophecy that pinpoints the exact time of Messiah's first coming. (And also the second coming as we would see later.)

Even Jewish rabbis have commented on this fact. One, Moses Abraham Levi, wrote, "I have examined and searched all the Holy Scriptures and have not found the time for the coming of Messiah clearly fixed, except in the words of Gabriel to the prophet Daniel, which are written in the 9th chapter of the prophecy of Daniel."

It is important to understand that this prophecy was written down about 2500 years ago around 535 BC. In  November 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves  at Quamran. This collection of scrolls contained numerous copies of every book in the Old Testament except Esther. These scrolls were hidden in caves to protect them from the Roman armies which devastated Israel in 70 AD. They were protected from decay (for almost 1900 years) by the dry weather of the Dead Sea area and because they were kept in sealed clay jars. This collection of scrolls contained eight copies of the book of Daniel which date to at least the first century AD and palaeographers have established their age as no later than 125 BC.

It is often claimed that the Bible is unreliable and that it has been rewritten, changed and lost in translation over the centuries. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that this claim, as far as the Old Testament is concerned, is false. The Dead Sea scrolls can be seen today in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, in the Shrine of the Book.

C.  The Gap in the Prophecy: Daniel 9:26

"After the sixty-two `sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off 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."

The first 69 weeks end (7 weeks and then 62 weeks) after the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem. The 70th Week begins in verse 27 when the future Ruler makes a covenant with Israel. Daniel 9:26 describes what happens in the interval between the end of the 69 weeks and the start of the 70th.
First of all, it is predicted that the Messiah would be "cut off" or killed... After the death of the Messiah, then the city and the Temple would be destroyed, and the end would come (temporarily) for the nation of Israel, and the land would become desolate.

The destruction of the city and the Temple occurred in 70 AD at the hands of the Roman army. After a couple more Jewish revolts the nation of Israel ceased to be a formal entity and the people were forcibly evicted from their lands and dispersed throughout the world. This is termed as the scattering of the people in the Diaspora. The Romans are “the people of the ruler who will come," and it is the "ruler who will come" in the future, who is the subject of the next and final verse of this prophecy.

It is very important to realize that this entire prophecy contains a very long gap in time, between verses 26 and 27, which has now lasted for almost 2000 years.

D.   The Timing of Messiah's Second Coming: Daniel 9:27

"He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolator

This verse could also be entitled, "The Final Seven Years of Mankind's Rebellion," because this is where it culminates. The "He" at the start of this verse is the future "Ruler" of the last verse. The gap ends and the prophecy begins again when the Ruler "confirms a covenant with many..."

This is a treaty that will allow the rebuilding of the Jewish temple and the renewal of their ancient practice of animal sacrifices. We know this because in the middle of this seven year period he "will put an end to sacrifice and offering." The Antichrist orders that this be done (Daniel 8:11-12, 11:31) but I believe that it is his agent, the False Prophet, who actually carries this out. After the False Prophet forcibly stops the temple sacrifices, he sets up the "abomination of desolation" in the temple. This is an image of the Antichrist which the False Prophet is also shown setting up in Revelation 13:14-15.

Jesus gives a warning to the Jews who see this happen in Matthew 24:15-21, "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation' spoken of through the prophet Daniel --let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak... For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equalled again."

They are told very explicitly to immediately flee from Jerusalem, because it is after this point when the Antichrist has the authority to persecute all who resist his Satanic New World Order as shown in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:5-7.

E. Conclusion

The Seventieth Week of Daniel is probably the most documented time period among all the unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. Many scholars refer to it as The Seven Year Tribulation, but this is incorrect. Actually the Tribulation begins on earth immediately after the Rapture when the earth is hit with many major catastrophes. There is an unknown amount of time between the Rapture and the "covenant with many."  This covenant will be the countdown which begins the seven year period of the Tribulation.

Several prophesied events take place during this week of which only an outline pertaining to the scripture reference in Dan 9:24-27 will be mentioned.

a.    The rebuilt Temple, future sacrifices, and the Abomination of Desolation ( details not included in this study)
b.    The 70 of Daniel: This begins when the False Prophet "confirms a covenant with many." This is understood to be a document or treaty with "many", including the Jewish people, which will allow for the rebuilding of the Temple and the renewal of their practice of animal sacrifice. In the middle of this “week” the False Prophet, under orders from the Antichrist, will stop the animal sacrifices and set up the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple. There are seven other texts which confirm the fact that a new Temple will be built, that the sacrifices will be abolished and that the Abomination of Desolation will be set up.

1. Daniel 8:11-12, speaking of the Antichrist,  “It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was cast to the ground.

2. Daniel 11:31 "His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."

3. Matthew 24:15-21  "So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains… For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equalled again.”

4. Mark 13:14-19  "When you see `the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains… because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now--and never to be equalled again.

5. 2 Thessalonians 2:4  "He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."

6. Revelation 11:1-2  The 42 months is another reference to the last three and a half years when the Antichrist makes Jerusalem his capital (Daniel 11:45).

7. The Abomination of Desolation is defined further in Revelation 13:14-15
He ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
Catha absolute rule of the Antichrist in the last three and a half years

Day 1 is the day that the Antichrist "confirms a covenant with many." It is the first day of the 70th Week. The Second Coming will occur on day 2520. This is exactly seven prophetic (360-day) years after the beginning of the 70th Week (7 years X 360 days = 2520 days)

Day 1260 is the middle of the Week. On this day the False Prophet will abolish the sacrifices and set up the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple. From this point on, for 3½ years, the Antichrist will have power over the entire earth, (save for the desert refuge of Daniel 11:41 and Revelation 12:6,14.  It is here where the woman (Israel) will be protected and fed by God Himself for 1260 days.)

The fact of his absolute rule is confirmed by two texts:

Daniel 7:25  "He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time" (Revelation 13:5)
"The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months." (Dan 7.25)

D.  Jews who flee the Antichrist will be protected


There will be many Jews living in Israel who heed the warning of Jesus in Matthew 24:15-21 and Mark 13:14-19 and flee out of Jerusalem when the Abomination of Desolation is set up by the False Prophet. God will protect those who flee for the entire last half of the 70th Week. This is shown by three texts:

Daniel 11:41, (this is a description of the mountainous desert to the east of Jerusalem. This is where the Jews will flee.)

Revelation 12:6  "Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand."
Revelation 12:14  "The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."

Other significant events also take place during the seven year period-but are not included in the scope of this prophecy of the First and Second coming of Messiah


Prophecy in Definition


Biblical Prophecy in its Hebraic Scriptural context as written in the Old Testament, is not a simple matter of linear prediction. These prophecies are all bi-focal: Historical events, as well as eschatological events are in the prophetic focus. The historical situation is a pattern (tavnit) of the eschatological events that will take place in the days of the coming of the Messiah, in the Day of the Lord (Yom YHWH). All Scriptural history is unfulfilled prophecy, and all Scriptural prophecy is unfulfilled salvation history. Hebraic prophecy is in essence, prediction by pattern.  What has happened before, is a foreshadow of what will happen again. Fulfilled prophecy is our only safe guide in studying unfulfilled prophecy.

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is the science of the interpretation of Scripture; exegesis is applied hermeneutics. Exegesis is not a linear process, but a recursive process; there is a hermeneutical circle:

1. Doctrine is based on grammar-in-context of Scripture, in the original languages. The whole can only be understood from the parts. Every aspect of the revelation should be taken into account in formulating doctrine. Analysis must precede synthesis.

2. Scripture is an organic unity because its primary Author is the Almighty who inspired men by the Ruach ha Qodesh (Holy Spirit). Therefore every portion of Scripture should be understood in the light of the entire revelation. Although the whole should be built up of the individual parts, these parts can only be understood in the light of the whole. Analysis presupposes a synthesis.

Hermeneutical principles should be arrived at by an inductive study of how the authors of the New Testament were led by the Holy Spirit to use the Old Testament.  Rigorous, devout and humble study is called for before making any conclusions.

The communication principle of Hermeneutics tells us that we will never comprehend the full scope of the message of Scripture unless we understand it in its original context and its full intent. Historical-grammatical exegesis should be followed by the interpretation of every passage in the light of the entire canon. Why is this valid and imperative? Because the Almighty is the primary Author of Scripture, and because the level of inspiration and internal consistency of Scripture is profound and radical.

It is also important to realise that, although Scripture should be understood in its original setting, the life-world of the ancient original audience, it does not limit or put a ceiling on the scope of Scripture Because of the Almighty as Author of all Scripture, a passage written 3000 years ago may speak in precise detail of the coming of the Messiah. The primary Author is not caught in time: His desire is that we should know Him, and therefore he has structured Scripture and all of Jewish history to teach us about the Footsteps of the Messiah (Psalm 89:51)


Historical - Grammatical Exegesis


Scripture should be understood by historical–grammatical exegesis, which should be followed by putting the passage being studied, in context of all scripture relating to the subject matter. Nothing besides Scripture references are ever accepted as valid exegesis - anything else besides Scripture leads to eisegesis (reading into Scripture what we want to have to fit our pet doctrines!

Every book, text, paragraph and word or letter in Scripture is from the Almighty. (2 Tim.3:16) Scripture is infallible, but should be understood in its original setting. We should "make the journey" back 2000 years in the past and look at the Messiah with the expectations, concepts, vocabulary, and life-world of Him and His disciples. If not - we may miss much of what is being communicated. We should understand the culture, festivals, their Temple worship, Hebraisms etc. The Almighty gave them their culture, wedding practices, and much more, to communicate with man, and to set examples ( patterns) which we can follow (see Romans 9:4-5).

Conclusion

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary,usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages - and axiomatic and fundamental truths - clearly indicate otherwise.”  Footsteps of the Messiah by Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Literature

1.  Footsteps of the Messiah - Arnold Fruchtenbaum
2.  The Coming of King Messiah -  Johann van Rooyen
3.  The Coming Prince - Sir Robert Anderson
4.  The Hebrew Roots of Romans - Joseph Shulam
5.  Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth - Christine Walker
6.  The Ten Kingdoms - Sir Isaac Newton
7.  Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible - Spiros Zodhiates