The 70 Weeks of Daniel Briefly Explained
We find the prophecy which is commonly called The Seventy Weeks of Daniel in the Book of Daniel 9:24-27. Read the chapter from the beginning to better understand the context.
Daniel 9:24 (the angel Gabriel is speaking to Daniel): “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.”
It’s obvious that these things are at the center of God’s heart. They were chief concerns of Daniel who was a righteous man after God’s own heart. Daniel was jealous for God’s name to be glorified, for the truth of His Word to be vindicated, and for righteousness to prevail in the earth through the Messiah whom Daniel knew God hoped for, and knew God had promised would come through the Jewish nation, to provide redemption and salvation to mankind.
Daniel 9:25: “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 (62 weeks): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
A week in this context is a period of seven years. This is generally acknowledged. The very nature of what is spoken requires that weeks be understood in this way.
Daniel 9:25 is implying that from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem there would be 483 years until the Messiah (69 times 7= 483). This would be a period of 49 years of rebuilding Jerusalem, from which afterwards the city would not be destroyed until after the Messiah had come, even in the many tumultuous times that Jerusalem went through over that 483 year period. After the city was fully rebuilt over the course of 49 years, there would be 444 more years until the Messiah. It is clear that there will be 483 straight years until the Messiah from the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
A big question is, Which commandment to rebuild Jerusalem is Daniel 9:25 referring to? If it is referring to the edict or decree of Cyrus, the Persian King who conquered Babylon in 539 and gave the decree the same year (recorded in 2 Chronicles 36 and Ezra 1), then that would mean the Messiah would have to appear about 55 BC. Anyone who wants to claim then that Daniel 9:25 is referring to Cyrus’ decree has to have a Messiah who was known publicly in the 50s BC. Cyrus’ decree concerned the rebuilding of the Temple in Judah and the permission to do this. It wasn’t really about rebuilding the city in general.
The same could be said of Darius I’s decree which is recorded in Ezra chapter six. It was really an affirmation of what King Cyrus had commanded after the Temple’s building had been interfered with (which you could read about earlier in the Book of Ezra). This decree was given early in Darius I’s reign since we see in Ezra 6 that the Temple was finished in the sixth year of his reign. Darius I’s reign began in 522 BC. If this were the decree spoken of in Daniel 9:25, then that would put the Messiah’s arrival on the scene in the 30s BC.
This decree must refer to either to the letter to Ezra by the Persian King Artaxerxes 1 (also known as Artaxerxes Longimanus) which is recorded in Ezra chapter 7 in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign. Or, it could refer to the sending of Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem by the same Artaxerxes in the twentieth year of his reign (recorded in Nehemiah chapter 2). This king’s reign began in 465 BC. This would make these two decrees to have occurred about 458/457 and 445/444 BC respectively. Even though the second is more directly about the building of Jerusalem, I think it is also implied in its context in Nehemiah chapter 2 that the city should have already been built, even in the King’s estimation, and not lying waste like Nehemiah knew it to be. To say that the building of Jerusalem is implied in the Ezra 7 decree does not seem like a stretch as you read that chapter carefully.
If we take the decree of Ezra chapter seven that was given in 457 BC, and we add 483 years to that, then that takes us to AD 26 or AD 27, when it is reasonable to believe that Jesus appeared on the scene and was publicly declared the Messiah at His baptism by John the Baptist. If we go with the second decree, then that would put Jesus’ baptism at AD 39 or AD 40. Given the second Temple’s destruction in AD 70, and God’s common use of periods of 40 involving testing, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would have been born in 5 BC (understand that the historians who tried to place a date on His birth in dividing time were probably off, and they were probably a little too late in estimating when His birth took place). It also makes sense that He was publicly baptized in 26 or 27 AD at 30 years old (remember no year zero, so someone born in 5 BC would be 5 years old in AD 1), crucified at 33 and a half in AD 30, and then the Temple was destroyed 40 years later in AD 70 after the Jewish nation had 40 years to get in line with its Rightful King.
Daniel 9:26: “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.”
After, but not necessarily immediately after the 483 year period ends, the Messiah would clearly be rejected and suffer the death penalty, but not due to His own guilt.
If you refer back to Daniel chapter 2 and Daniel chapter seven, it is clear enough that the last great world empire (of those spoken of in these chapters) is in some measure a revival of the world empire which came before that (the fourth kingdom spoken of in Daniel chapter 2). That fourth kingdom has clearly been revealed to be the Roman Empire. I am not saying I know this with utter certainty, but it makes sense that the prince that shall come is the antichrist who is in some way a product of the Roman Empire, at the very least because his kingdom is in some form a revival of the Roman Empire in some way.
We know that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, so even if the prince that shall come is an antichrist figure to yet come afterwards, it would still be appropriate to refer to the Romans of the Roman Empire as “the people of the prince that shall come.” The Romans surely did destroy the city and the sanctuary (that is, Jerusalem and its Temple). Though to my knowledge neither Josephus (the historian who wrote the most about the Jewish- Roman wars) nor any other historian recorded an actual major flood involved in the destruction of Jerusalem (in terms of a flood of water), calamities happened to the Jews at this time in great numbers and with great severity. To speak of multiple and/or exceedingly great calamities as a flood is indeed something which the inspired writers of the Bible often did directly or indirectly. The Jews were left desolate by God as objects of His wrath at this time, and afterwards in the land as well until the Jewish-Roman wars ended with a mass slaughter and destruction of the Jews left in the land when the false Messiah Simon Bar Kohkba’s army was massively crushed by the Romans and Jerusalem was even plowed to the ground around AD 135.
Daniel 9:27: “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.”
Some think that “he” in Daniel 9:27 refers to Jesus Christ Himself, saying that Jesus’ public ministry was the first half of the 70th week. They say Jesus broke the Old Covenant and initiated the New Covenant by His death after three and a half years of public ministry. I think there are a lot of problems with that view. I won’t say all of those, but I’ll say that Jesus sure did not cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease immediately after His death (see our study on the Error of Judaizing and the study about Thoughts on the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day, and Judaizing).
God slowly removed Christians from partaking in Temple worship, first through the events related to Cornelius and the Acts 15 council whereby He removed the requirement that gentiles be circumcised and convert to Judaism in order to be Christians. And later, by removing the Jewish Christians from Temple worship by fleeing Rome during the Roman siege (which is its own incredible story) and through the destruction of the Temple itself. But it’s clear in the Bible that there was a time indeed when being a faithful Christian for some involved practicing Judaism (with a renewed perspective and deeper understanding of the why behind the Jewish rituals prescribed in the Law of Moses). The Mosaic rituals were always intended to be done out of a living faith towards God. They were never intended as a means of justification in themselves, though many Jews wrongly took them that way throughout time. This is a key reason many Jews missed Jesus Christ whom these rituals pointed to; and to do these rituals when God has told you to stop them is to take them this way (even though the Judaizers typically don’t admit to this).
I see evidence in Revelation of a rebuilt Temple near the end of the age and a 3.5 year tribulation period which is preceded by a 3.5 year period of (false, misleading) peace. I believe that this describes Daniel’s 70th week as described in Daniel 9:27.
In a sense, this abomination of desolation happened between Daniel and Jesus with the Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century BC. To say Antiochus Epiphanes was a type, a precursor, and a forerunner of this prince spoken of in Daniel 9:27 seems obvious (Antiochus Epiphanes indeed took away the daily Temple sacrifice and offered a pig to the Greek God Zeus in the Temple at Jerusalem). The Apostle Paul spoke of someone of this nature yet coming in 2 Thessalonians chapter two (well after Antiochus Epiphanes had died).
The beast of Revelation, as well as the timeframe of his rule, especially the picture you get as you read Revelation chapters 11 to 13, corresponds harmoniously to the wicked ruler spoken of in 2 Thessalonians chapter two. I can’t conclude that Daniel 9:27, at least in its ultimate fulfillment, is speaking of anyone else.
It seems reasonable to conclude that this wicked ruler will make a covenant with the Jews and let them rebuild the Temple (which the Jews will be rebuilding for rebellious reasons). There will be about three and a half years of deceptive peace, and then this wicked ruler will turn against the Jews and command sacrifices to himself instead until he is destroyed after about three and a half years of this going on.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-10: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand (the Apostle Paul did not want the first century Christians to think that Jesus might come back at any second). Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity (anomia; lawlessness) doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
The end of this wicked adversary of the true God, as well as the fact that his power will be related to Rome, is spoken of in Revelation 17:9-14.
Revelation 17:9-14: “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition (eternal damnation). And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
I exhort everyone listening to make sure that they are with the Lamb who is in truth the Lord of lords and King of kings. Love the truth of His Word by choosing to follow it (without self-imposed conditions, unto suffering and blood as need be). Walk in the Word’s promises which are ultimately intended to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight (consider the goals of the righteous which we looked at in Daniel 9:24). Know that Christ is faithful to those who answer His call and walk in the terms of His covenant by keeping His commandments and trusting in His promises with patience and perseverance (not turning back). Those who depart from His Lordship (His holy authority) forfeit the help and deliverance that each of us need in the things which matter most, and which are available to those who surrender to Jesus Christ in truth. He offers a great salvation. Just look at the lengths went to prepare mankind for this and inform mankind of this. That ought to give us an idea of what is actually at stake.
Aaron’s email is: [email protected]