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What the Bible says about Prophecy, Seventy Weeks
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 9:24-27

The prophecy was given to Daniel by the cherub Gabriel late in the prophet's life. It was 538 BC, and the decree from Cyrus that the Jews could return to Judah had already been made or was about to be made. Earlier in chapter 9, Daniel had prayed, asking God for forgiveness of Israel's sins. The reason behind his prayer, though he does not specifically ask the question, is, "How long until You redeem us? When will Messiah come?" The Seventy Weeks Prophecy is God's reply.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:24-27

These four verses are not only prophecy, but they are also poetry. A poet can take a bit of license, especially with form. Hebrew poets (and angelic ones) are no different, and one of their favorite devices was contrast. They would take subject A and contrast it with subject B, as in Proverbs 15:18: "A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention."

Gabriel does the same with this prophecy. It is composed of two similar contrasts that we will label A1/B1/A2/B2. Verses 25-26a = A1. Verse 26b = B1. Verse 27a = A2. Verse 27b = B2. The verses below are formatted this way to help in understanding the prophecy. This is very important because if it is not heeded, one will credit Antichrist with things that should be credited to the true Messiah.

Introduction: 24 Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.

A1: 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. 26a And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;

B1: 26b and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.

A2: 27a Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.

B2: 27b And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:24

This verse introduces the prophecy. Basically, Gabriel says that, within the seventy weeks, all of these things - the whole plan of God - will be fulfilled. "Weeks" is the Hebrew word shabua, meaning "sevens." In his prayer, Daniel mentions Jeremiah's prophecy of seventy years of captivity (verse 2), but Gabriel says it will not be just seventy years but seventy times seven years.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:24-27

What good is understanding the Seventy Weeks Prophecy? First, on chronological grounds, it destroys three of false Christianity's holidays surrounding Jesus: Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. Second, it puts Christ's ministry and the founding of the church in their proper historical context, helping explain and vindicate the Bible. Third, it enhances our understanding of prophecy and helps us to watch for the correct world events as the end draws closer. Christ gave us the true signs of His coming, so we do not have to look for the false sign of Antichrist's treaty with the Jews.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:24-27

Seventy Weeks Prophecy
(Daniel 9:24-27)
Decree and Year Leader(s) of Return Year of Messiah's Appearance
[Decree Year + 483 Years (7 days/week x 69 weeks)]
Significant Biblical Event
Of Cyrus in
538 BC
Sheshbazzar
(Ezra 1:1-11)
Zerubbabel
(Ezra 2:1)
55 BC None
Of Darius in
520 BC
No Return
Work Resumed on Temple
(Ezra 5-6)
37 BC None
Of Artaxerxes I in
457 BC
Ezra
(Ezra 7:1-10)
AD 27 Jesus' Baptism
Beginning of Christ's Ministry
Of Artaxerxes I in
444 BC
Nehemiah
(Nehemiah 2:4-11)
AD 40 None

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:24

The Seventy Weeks prophecy foretells a national cleansing. It is God's assurance that He will intervene to lift Israel out of her degenerate spiritual state. The word translated “reconciliation” is the same one translated as “atonement”—kaphar—throughout Leviticus 16. Nearly everything mentioned in the prophecy relates to the Day of Atonement and what is typified in Leviticus 16 regarding the cleansing and removal of sin. Even the Most Holy Place receives attention (see Daniel 8:14).

In other words, the fulfillment of the Seventy Weeks prophecy closely intertwines with the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. It is for “your people and for your holy city”—for removing the guilt of Israel and Jerusalem, representative of all the land promised to Abraham.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Four)

Daniel 9:25-27

What is so amazing about the often neglected Seventy Weeks Prophecy is that, not only does it give us a clue to the day of Christ's death, it indicates the year of His death as well! Of course, it is not as simple as looking up a fact in an almanac, but enough information is available to discover the year very accurately.

From what Gabriel says in verse 25, the ending point is fairly plain: the revealing of the Messiah. But what is the starting point?

Historians know of at least four decrees made by the Persian emperors "to restore and build Jerusalem." Cyrus made one in 538 BC, Darius I made one in 520 BC and Artaxerxes I made two, one in 457 BC and one in 444 BC. Which one is the correct command?

All of them could fit the description in verse 25. All of them are concerned with restoring Jerusalem to its former function as the Jewish religious capital and trade center. But only one of them fits the time constraints, and this becomes clear when we work out the puzzle of the seventy weeks.

We have to do a little arithmetic to find the terminus for each of these decrees. The expression "seventy weeks" literally means "seventy sevens," and the year-for-a-day principle applies here (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:4-6). We must multiply seventy weeks times the seven years in a week of years, which equals 490 years. Gabriel, however, says it is only sixty-nine sevens "until Messiah the Prince." Thus, 69 x 7 = 483 years.

If we add 483 years to each of the dates of the decrees, what do we find? (Remember to add one year for crossing the non-existent year 0.)

  • 538 BC + 483 years = 55 BC. No significant biblical event.
  • 520 BC + 483 years = 37 BC. No significant biblical event.
  • 457 BC + 483 years = AD 27. Jesus is baptized and begins His ministry.
  • 444 BC + 483 years = AD 40. No significant biblical event.

God made it easy! We have only one choice!

Verses 26-27 are very specific that the Messiah would work for three and a half years, half of a week, before being "cut off." When we add three and a half years to AD 27, we find that Christ's ministry ended in AD 31, the year of His crucifixion and resurrection.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'

Daniel 9:25

The starting point of the seventy weeks is stated in verse 25: a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. "The command" should be "a command." The Persian emperors made four decrees in all, so we have a choice of which one fits best with the facts. The only viable decree is the one made by Artaxerxes I in 457 BC. This is the return under Ezra the scribe (Ezra 7:1-10).

Gabriel splits the first sixty-nine weeks into seven weeks (forty-nine years) and sixty-two weeks (434 years). During the forty-nine years from 457 to 408 BC, Jerusalem was being rebuilt. After this time Jerusalem was a fully functioning trade center and fortress. This fulfills the prophecy exactly.

Adding the 434 years to 408 BC brings us to AD 27 (adding one year for passing over the non-existent year 0). During this year, John baptized Jesus and His ministry began. Luke records that "Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23). Taking Luke at his word, if Jesus was within a few months of His thirtieth birthday, His birth must have occurred in 4 BC.

Many Protestants, using a 360-day "prophetic" year and quite a bit of calculation, begin on Nisan 1, 444 BC, and end up on March 30, AD 33, the day (they say) of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His crucifixion. This fits neatly into their scheme, as the Passover in AD 33 occurred on a Friday, but they are two years off! Jeremiah's seventy years of captivity were seventy literal years, not 360-day years. Why should Gabriel's seventy weeks of years be anything else? Their method of calculation is contrived and confusing. They have forced the prophecy into conforming to their beliefs rather than following the simple sense of the Bible's words.

Besides, Christ was not proclaimed as the Messiah for the first time during His triumphal entry, but at His baptism. God the Father, not the people, publicly proclaimed Him to be the Messiah, "My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:27

Protestants try to ascribe the covenant of verse 27 to the Antichrist because "he," they say, refers to "the prince who is to come." But this cannot be! Remember the poetic organization! The key is the word "many." It is literally "the many," and whenever it is used in the Old Testament, it refers to either the covenant people Israel or to the saints, that is, true believers. Jesus says in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Christ makes the covenant, not Antichrist!

Confirm means "strengthen" or "make firm"—almost to the point of being unbreakable. This helps substantiate its reference to the New Covenant, an everlasting covenant that strengthened the basic requirements of the Old Covenant. Significantly, when Christ in the Olivet Prophecy gives His disciples the signs of the end, He does not mention a covenant or treaty to be enacted between the Antichrist and the Jews, Christians, saints, or anyone! He does mention both of the events Gabriel mentions here: the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24:2) and the abomination of desolation (verse 15).

What about the final three and a half years of the seventieth week? They have yet to be fulfilled, but Gabriel leaves us hanging regarding when they occur. He does not mention them. When could they be fulfilled?

  • The seventieth week has been completely fulfilled by the three and a half year ministry of Christ. This seems to be the least likely of these options.
  • Christ will complete His ministry in the first three and a half years after His return, before Satan is locked in the bottomless pit. But the Bible does not indicate that any time elapses between His return and Satan's binding in Revelation 19 and 20.
  • They are the years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, during which Christ will complete His ministry through the Two Witnesses and/or to the church in the Place of Safety. Again, this is only speculation—although Paul's training in Arabia may provide a precedent (Galatians 1:11-18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Daniel 9:27

This may be the most abused verse on the subject of the end times, and it is a linchpin in the Pre-tribulation Rapture theory: "Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering." "He" in this verse refers to Messiah, not Antichrist, for the main subject of this section is Messiah.

Protestants, referring to Isaiah 28:15 and "a covenant with death," say that the Antichrist makes a peace treaty for one week—seven years—with the Jews. But this makes no sense! Why would the Beast "destroy the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary" (Daniel 9:26), and "then . . . confirm a covenant . . . for one week" (verse 27) with the vanquished Jews? The timing is wrong! Verses 26-27a speak of events that occurred in the first century.

It makes more sense to attribute this covenant to our Savior. He was "cut off, but not for Himself" (verse 26a) by His redemptive death in AD 31. He had spent 3½ years "confirm[ing] a covenant [the New Covenant] with many," and "in the middle of the week He [brought] an end to sacrifice and offering" (verse 27a) by the sacrifice of His perfect life. This simply restates what is said in verse 26a.

If this is the case, the whole idea of seven years of tribulation vanishes.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 




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