"Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression,
to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place."
Daniel 9:24 ESV
How accurate does a prediction of Scripture have to be to give conclusive evidence that the Bible is supernatural? If you've been here for our study in Daniel this summer then you've already seen an incredible example of perfect accuracy in the prediction of empires that would follow Babylon. History now proves what the angel Gabriel told Daniel in a vision was spot on. The Medopersian empire did rise up and conquer Babylon. And the Greeks subsequently conquered the Persians. Incredible! So incredible, in fact, that many people now doubt that Daniel is authentic. In other words, many people now challenge the dating of Daniel and assert that it must have been written after the rise of the Greeks. This, of course, is based on the faulty bias that the supernatural doesn't exist and therefore Daniel couldn't have actually known the future events of world history. As a result, these same doubters place the writing of Daniel somewhere in the 2nd century B.C., long after the Persians and the Greeks had risen to power. If you've rejected the supernatural nature of the Bible then this is a nice solution to the problem of evidence to the contrary. Now, setting aside the overwhelming evidence that Daniel was written exactly when it plainly claims to have been written about dreams and visions that happened exactly when they are reported to have happened, there is another prediction in Daniel that can't be so easily dismissed in this way. The late dating of Daniel doesn't deal with a much more incredible prediction. The prediction of the coming of Messiah, "the anointed one", found in Daniel 9:24-26.
Because of the incredible intricacy of this prediction, I wanted to take the time to unpack and explain it's symbolism and interpretation.
We begin with a very specific time-frame:
24 "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. Daniel 9:24 NASB
"Weeks" is literally "sevens" which means 7 years
The first thing to understand is that "seventy weeks" is actually 490 years. We interpret this meaning here because of several key sources of context. Beginning all the way back in Leviticus 25, God established that 7-year periods would be significant. It began with the setting aside a year of rest once every seven years (Leviticus 25:4). Then God prescribed that after "7 weeks of years" the nation was to celebrate a year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8). Both of these are obviously in view to Daniel and God when in answer to Daniel's prayer for the restoration of Israel that God says "Seventy sevens" have been decreed. After all, it was Israel's failure to celebrate the Sabbath year 70 times in a row, a period of 490 years, that led to their 70 year captivity (see Jeremiah 25:11). So God establishes that it will be a period of exactly the same amount of time that Israel lived in disobedience as the amount of time involved in the restoration God predicts.
The seventy weeks is divided into 3 segments
The next thing we need to see from the prediction is that God gives Daniel the time frame in three segments. A 7 week chunk followed by a 62 week chunk, capped off by a 1 week chunk. It is what is predicted to happen after the first two segments that is my focus for today.
"25So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing..." Daniel 9:25-26b NASB
What is going to happen after seven weeks and sixty-two weeks or 49 years and 434 years? "Messiah the Prince" will come. Wow! That's a bold prediction. God tells Daniel that Israel's Messiah will come in 483 years. 483 years from when? "from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem."
When did the decree go out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem? The Scriptures record 3 different decrees given by Persian kings. The first was by King Cyrus in Ezra 1:1-4. But this was a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, not the city itself. The Second was a decree by Artexerxes in Ezra 7:11-26. This wasn't a decree to rebuild Jerusalem either. The final decree is found in Nehemiah 2 and is in response to Nehemiah's request to rebuild the city:
"If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight,
that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it...
and the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me."
Nehemiah 2:5, 8b
The prophetic clock started March 14th, 445B.C.
We know that this decree went out on March 14th, 445 B.C. Which means that if we start on this date and add 483 years we should find the exact date that Jesus came. Unfortunately, doing this actually takes a bit of work. The first thing we have to determine is how many days are in one of these years that God is predicting. Throughout the Bible, especially in prophecy, a 360 day year is used. You can see this especially in Revelation where 42 months is presented as equivalent to 1260 days is equivalent to 3 and a half years. This can only be the case if a year is 360 days. So, if we use a 360 day year then we can find the number of days pretty easily. It's 483 years times 360 days for a grand total of 173,880 days. It's at this point that the work of Sir Robert Anderson becomes incredibly important. This brother in Christ took the time to painstakingly determine where on our calendar that 173,880 days lands. His conclusion? First of all, he accommodated for our calendar which has 365 days per year instead of 360. Then he added a day every four years for a leap year. Then, he added three days to accommodate for the 1/128 day shortage per year even with leap year. After that he subtracted a year to recognize that the time between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D. is only a year, not two. His That brought Sir Robert Anderson to April 6th, 32 A.D. Several sources point to that day as the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and proclaimed:
"Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation." Luke 19:42-44
The prophetic clock stopped on April 6th, 32 A.D. a.k.a. "Palm Sunday"
For His Glory,