Getting Ready:


Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

One of the most remarkable passages of Scripture in the Old Testament is the 9th chapter of the book of Daniel. This passage and the prophetic word it contains from the angel Gabriel establishes the framework for all that God is going to do to bring about His purposes and plan for the world.

The year was 538 BC, 68 years after Judah was conquered and the first year of the new Medo-Persian rule. Daniel was now an old man. He was a faithful student of the scriptures and knew that Jeremiah had prophesied that the judgment would last 70 years. Daniel set his heart to pray for the fulfillment of that prophetic word given by Jeremiah.

While he was still praying, God sent the angel Gabriel “to give you skill and understanding” (9:22). What Gabriel told Daniel was one of the most incredible prophetic utterances of the entire Bible and forms the foundation on which all end time prophecies are built. The prophecy that Gabriel delivered has four distinct parts.

The first part gives a general overview and purpose of the message:

Seventy weeks [lit. sevens] 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. (Dan 9:23, 24)

Unlike almost all the prophetic messages, this one was delivered directly from the mouth of the chief messenger of God Himself, and its primary purpose was so that Daniel, and by extension, we could understand.

The opening of Gabriel’s message mentions an overall time frame of “seventy weeks”, or more literally, “seventy sevens”. In the Hebrew the word translated as “weeks” or “sevens” is shabuwa`, which is often used in the same manner as we would use the word “decade” in English. Thus it is quite reasonable to consider that the time period indicated by Gabriel is seventy times seven years, or 490 years.

This word is specifically for Daniel’s people, i.e. the Jews, and at the end of this period of time God will have accomplished a six-fold purpose for Israel.

Secondly, the prophecy marks the beginning of the seventy weeks and details the events of the first 69 of those weeks:

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. (Dan 9:25)

The starting point is the issuance of the command to rebuild Jerusalem. A careful examination of the scriptures leads one to conclude that this command was issued to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes in the 20th year of his rule (Neh 2:1). More specifically it was issued in the Jewish month of Nisan, and the year was 445 BCE.

The ending point of the 69 weeks (“seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”), or 483 years, is the time that the Messiah will be revealed to Israel. It is my firm conviction that there was a time when Jesus publicly declared, before all the leaders and almost the entire nation of Israel, that He was the Messiah. It was the event that many now celebrate as Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey in fulfillment of the prophetic word of Zechariah. The evidence suggests that this triumphant entry into Jerusalem was planned ahead by Jesus for the purpose of revealing himself to the people, and it occurred six days prior to Passover.

I have done a careful analysis of the dates of these events and have concluded that this prophecy, delivered by Gabriel, was fulfilled to the day! This is not a coincidence. I believe that God gave us specific times and events that we could confirm so that we could believe that He is in control.

The third part of the prophecy tells of an interlude of time between the close of the 69 weeks and the beginning of the 70th week:

And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself;
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. (Dan 9:26)

It is not clear how long this interlude is, but it starts with the Messiah being “cut off”, i.e. killed, and continues until “the end of the war”. In between, Jerusalem (“the city”) and the Temple (“the sanctuary”) will be destroyed.

Jesus was killed six days after He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The final part of the prophecy is the 70th week of years:

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.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even unto the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate. (Dan 9:27)

This week begins with a treaty (“covenant”) negotiated by a world leader that ends “the war” and brings apparent peace to Israel. But this treaty also marks the beginning of the countdown to the return of Jesus.

(There is not sufficient space here for all the details. To learn more this is discussed in the book The Coming Day of the Lord)

(From a newsletter dated January 2002)


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