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A Messianic Prophecy

Here is an interesting prophecy concerning the Messiah found in Daniel 9:24-27.

"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.

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. 

Let's just see what this actually tells us.

Seventy Weeks

Here we are given definite times here for these things to occur. Are they literal weeks ? Obviously they can not be because 70 literal weeks after the rebuilding of Jerusalem the Messiah had not come. Now some may like to apply the principles of prophetic interpretation known as futurism, developed by cardinals Belaman and Rivera, and put all of this into some future time. We, however, would like to present the true interpretation of this prophecy as believed by the early Christian church. Unfortunately it as been lost sight of in more recent times.

How do we interpret these time periods? Well, itís rather simple. You see the Lord tells us clearly how he deals with prophetic and symbolic time periods; A day for a year.

"For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." Eze 4:5,6

"After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise." Num 14:34
The Hebrew for "seventy weeks" is shabuim shibim. The word shibim is seventy, but the word shabuim is understood by Hebrew scholars to mean "a period of seven years." All devout orthodox commentators translate this word shabuim, - shmitoth. A Shmitah is "a period of seven years." While the English translations of the Hebrew Old Testament by Jewish scholars render the word shabuim shibim as "seventy weeks," it is clear that these weeks are prophetic rather than weeks of seven literal days. (see Num 14:34; Eze 4:6) Rabbi Isaac Leeser, who translated the Old Testament into English, is in accord with this prophetic interpretation of shabuim shibim. He says:

"Ancient Jewish writers thought that the second temple stood four hundred and twenty years, which, with the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, make four hundred and ninety years." (Note 47, Lesser's comments on his Old Testament translation.)

The comment of this famous rabbi on these two Hebrew words is agreed to by Hebrew scholars. These words of Lesser indicate that Jewish writers believe the year day method to be the correct way to reckon the seventy weeks, but they failed to take note of the angel's words that the period "to Messiah the Prince" is to be reckoned "from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem." Dan 9:25. The commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem went forth in 457 BC and at that time began the seventy weeks. F.C. Gilbert's Messiah in His Sanctuary.

So that when the Lord said a day, He meant a year. When he says a week, it then must be seven years. So we will use this principle: A day for a year.

Now in verse 24 we are therefore told that Israel and Jerusalem has been given 70 weeks = 70x7 days = 490 days = 490 years in order to :

  • finish the transgression,
  • make an end of sins,
  • make reconciliation for iniquity,
  • bring in everlasting righteousness,
  • seal up the vision and prophecy,
  • anoint the most Holy.

An End of Sins

When it says here to make an end of sins, the Hebrew word used is 'chattath' (sorry no ASCII Hebrew) this word can either mean sin or sin offering. Lev 4:3 is an example of this uses when it says "Let him bring for his sin ...a young bullock... for his sin offering." The same word 'chattath' is used in both occasions.

In this period of 490 years in Jerusalem there would be an end made to the system of sin offerings, a reconciliation for iniquity would be effected, everlasting righteousness would be effected and the most Holy would be anointed. This last point is interesting because Messiah means the anointed one. The point about sealing up the vision and prophecy is linked to a wider prophecy concerning Dan 8.

Now when was all this to happen? How can we determine a starting time for all of this to happen. Verse 25 tells us that the time would start from the going forth of the command to rebuild Jerusalem. The 70 weeks are also further subdivided into periods of 7 and 62 and the remaining week.

We see that seven weeks are allotted to the restoration of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the street and the wall. From this point 62 weeks are measured off so that at the end of this total period 69 weeks have elapsed and we are to see the manifestation of the Messiah the Prince. In the midst of this 69th week we are told that (verse 27) the Messiah would be cut off and thereby cause the sacrifice to end.

Rebuild Jerusalem

When did the 70 weeks commence ? There are 3 degrees which were issued to restore Jerusalem.

  1. Cyrus 536 B.C. To Restore the temple
  2. Darius 519 B.C. Reaffirmation of Cyrus' degree
  3. Artaxerxes 457 B.C. Complete Restoration of national economy and sovereignty.

Of the three, the one under which the wall and street was built according to the prophecy was that of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. Now how do we know this is the correct date ? Well this is probably the surest date in Scripture. This work was accomplished by Ezra.

"This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king." Ezra 7:6-8

"And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment." Ezra 7:26

The Seventh year of Artaxerxes was 457 B.C. Now we have mentioned that 7 weeks or 7x7 = 49 years were allocated to the rebuilding of the wall and street. We find that the last act of restoration is recorded in Neh 13:23... and this occurred exactly 49 years after the work had been first begun by Ezra.

Messiah the Prince

Now 69 weeks = 69x7 = 483 years were to extend to Messiah the Prince. Dating from 457 B.C. the period ends in 27 A.D. (remember to skip year 0)

It is interesting to note the event that occurred at this time. The anointing of Jesus Christ.

"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Luke 3:21,22

After this Jesus himself "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled." Mark 1:14-15. The Messiah had come and with His own lips He announced the termination of that period of the prophecy. How is it that He also knew the time of His death ? The prophecy also foretold this event.

Now the Messiah was to confirm the covenant with many for one week in the midst of which He would cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. How would this occur? It occurred when He was "cut off but not of himself."

"He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken." Isaiah 53:8

At His death, sacrifices for sin ended: He was the sacrificial lamb.

When was this to occur ? In the midst of the last week or 3.5 years after the 69th week. 3.5+27 = 31 A.D. the date of the Crucifixion. We know that Christ attended 3 Passovers. In fact, this date (31 A.D.) can be proven historically.

"Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; " Matt 27:50,51

Obviously the tearing of the veil signified the end of the sacrificial system.

So that we see that Christ brought about a reconciliation for iniquity, through His atoning sacrifice and simultaneously brought in everlasting righteousness to all those who would accept His righteousness in place of theirs. Obviously the most Holy, the Messiah himself was anointed by the Father and the Holy Spirit at His baptism at the hands of John. The fulfillment of this prophecy is complete in every detail.

The prophecy also elaborates on the future of Israel after their foretold rejection of the Messiah. The destruction and desolation of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D.70 by the Romans. But that is another study.

"And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe." John 14:29


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