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The 70-Week Prophecy
Publish date: Apr 21, 2009
Summary: The ancient 70-week prophecy of Daniel proves without a doubt that Jesus was the Messiah.
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May the bones of the hands and the bones of the fingers decay and decompose, of him who turns the pages of the book of Daniel, to find out the time of Daniel 9:24-27, and may his memory rot from off the face of the earth forever.i
The 70-week prophecy, the greatest proof of Jesus as the Messiah, is found in these verses. They predict the time of the Messiah's anointing, putting the issue beyond doubt.
Let us unravel the prophecy by allowing Scripture to be its own expositor.
The Day-Year Principle
Prophecies are couched in symbolic language that needs to be unraveled before the meaning of the words can be understood. Prophetic time is used as a symbol to be interpreted in the light of Scripture.
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 (Numbers 14:34 NKJV).
I have appointed thee each day for a year (Ezekiel 4:6).
These two texts provide the key—the day-year principle. This principle takes prophetic days and converts them to actual years. Applying this principle to the 70-week prophecy will show that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.
Six Messianic Tasks
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy (Daniel 9:24).
“Thy people” were God’s chosen people Israel. Seventy weeks resolves into 490 days. Applying the day-year principle, 490 days become 490 years.
The 490 years were appointed to the Jewish nation for these six reasons found in Daniel 9:24:
1. to finish the transgression
2. to make an end of sins
3. to make reconciliation for iniquity
4. to bring in everlasting righteousness
5. to seal up vision and prophecy
6. to anoint the most Holy
These six issues could only be fulfilled in and through the Messiah. Who else could make reconciliation for iniquity or bring in everlasting righteousness?
Jesus Fulfills the Prophecy
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Daniel 9:25-27).
The angel gives a breakdown of the 70 weeks as follows:
7 weeks of years for rebuilding of Jerusalem (verse 25)
62 weeks of years to the Messiah (verses 25-26)
1 week of years to the close of the period (verse 27)
The calculations are shown in the graph below:
The 2300-day prophecy, of which the 70-week prophecy is a small part, was to begin at the command that effected the restoration of Jerusalem. This command went forth under King Artaxerxes Longimanus in the year 457 BC (Ezra 7:12-13).ii
From this starting point, we can determine all the other time markers of the prophecy. Seven weeks were allotted for the restoration of Jerusalem. True to the prophecy, Jerusalem was rebuilt 49 years after 457 BC, which was 408 BC.
Seven weeks (49 day-years) for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and another threescore and two weeks (62 weeks or 434 day-years) brings us to "the Messiah the Prince." Beginning in 457 BC and applying the day-year principle, we can determine the passing of 483 years from 457 BC which brings us to 27 AD (allowing for the conversion from BC to AD being one extra year).
In 27 AD, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit on the occasion of His baptism which marked the beginning of His ministry (Luke 3:21-23). This baptism marked the event in Daniel’s prophecy “unto the Messiah the Prince.” When Christ proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled” (Mark 1:15), He was referring to this part of the prophecy.iiiThe end of the prophecy is 34 AD, 7 day-years after the baptism:
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease (Daniel 9:27).
Christ would confirm the covenant made with Israel for one prophetic week (7 years), but oblation (offerings) would cease in the middle of the week (3 ½ years after 27 AD). This mid-point brings us to 31 AD—the year Christ was crucified. It was at His death that he put an end to the system of offerings practiced by Israel for so many years.
Some modern interpretations confuse the 70-week prophecy by applying it to the Antichrist, who (according to this interpretation) would arrive at the end of the Christian dispensation some time in the future.
However, the prophecy in Daniel 9:26-27 has a chiastic structure, and if this is taken into account, the apparent confusion in its literary style is eliminated:
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The chiastic structure is as follows:
* a. Messiah destroyed
* b. Sanctuary destroyed
* b1. Sacrifice terminated
* a1. Ruler destroyed
Verse 27 has an additional chiasm: “he—week—week—he,” again emphasizing the role of the Messiah. It can thus be said that the destruction of the Messiah caused "the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." The Messiah would also confirm His covenant with God’s people by His sacrificial death “in the midst of the week.”
John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and Isaac Newton all connect the 70th week with the Messiah. When Christ cried “It is finished,” the priests were officiating in the temple. It was the hour of the evening sacrifice, and as the Passover lamb representing Christ was about to be slain, “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51).
After Christ died, rose again, and ascended to heaven, there were still 3 ½ day-years remaining in the prophecy. These ended in 34 AD with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:59-8:4). At that time the Gospel was given to the Gentiles by individual ambassadors from every nation. Paul, the very one who consented to the stoning of Stephen, became the apostle to the Gentile world. Israel ceased to be the recipient and channel of God’s truth.
Updated April 2009.
i. Talmudic Law, p.978, Section 2, Line 28. We have, as yet, been unable locate this specific source for the reader. We have however found other sources with similar sentiments. See These Rabbinic Curse Examples.
ii. Rev. Stanley Leathes, Old Testament Prophecy—Its Witness as a Record of Divine Foreknowledge (1880).
iii. Rev. Joseph Tanner, Daniel and the Revelation.
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