THE SEVENTY WEEKS
This is one of the most amazing prophecies in the Bible. It predicted the very day that Jesus was declared to be “Messiah the King.” There are two basic interpretations, both agree that it predicts the time of Jesus’ first coming, the Futurist interpretation states that the prophecy is yet to be completed, but the Fulfilled interpretation believes that it was completely fulfilled within a few years of Jesus’ life on earth. Aspects of both interpretations will be examined, but the Futurist interpretation is the one that will be shown to be the correct view.
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.
This prophecy predicts the following events, some to the very day.
Written circa 520 BC
1. A command would be made to rebuild Jerusalem.
Fulfilled March of 445 BC.
2. The rebuilding would take place and the walls would be rebuilt.
Fulfilled October 445 BC
3. The rebuilding would take place during a time of trouble.
Fulfilled August-October 445 BC
4. There would be a period of 48 years (7 weeks of years) and a second period of 476 years (62 weeks of years).
Fulfilled 445 BC to 398 BC, and 398 BC to 32 AD
5. Messiah the prince would come after the end of these two time periods.
Fulfilled April 6th 32 AD
6. The Messiah would be killed.
Fulfilled April 10th 32 AD
7. Both the city and the temple would be destroyed.
Fulfilled 70 AD
The discussion here will focus mainly on the things that have already been fulfilled to demonstrate the fact and accuracy of Bible prophecy. The last week, or the 70th week will be looked at briefly when necessary, but since it is tied in with the last days and the book of Revelation, it won’t be discussed here in any detail.
WHEN WAS THE PROPHECY WRITTEN?
First, when was Daniel written? It was written in the latter half of the sixth century BC and probably finished sometime around 520 BC. Five hundred and fifty years before one of the major points in its fulfillment began. Some say that Daniel was written around 165 BC, but since the fulfillment of this prophecy took place almost 200 years after that, it demonstrates that the 165 BC date is incorrect. See <a href=”http://www.evidentcreation.com/PRS-Who.html”>Who Wrote the Bible </a>for a complete answer to this. Also see <a href=”http://www.evidentcreation.com/PRS-Proph.html”>Why Bible Prophecy is Genuine</a>.
WHO and WHAT IS THE PROPHECY ABOUT
There are two specific groups mentioned and two specific people mentioned in this prophecy.
The first group is “thy people”, i.e. Daniel’s people, or the Jews. The second group is “the people of the prince that shall come” They are said to destroy the city and the sanctuary, that is, Jerusalem and the Temple. The Roman’s destroyed the city and the temple in 70 AD, so the people of the prince that shall come are the Roman’s, or less specifically, the Gentiles.
The individuals mentioned in this prophecy are the Messiah, and the prince that shall come. Some think that these are the same person, but this would mean that the Jews and the Romans are the same people groups, a very obvious contradiction. The prince that shall come is well known in our modern times as the Anti-Christ.
The prophecy centers around one location, the city of Jerusalem. The events described in the prophecy relate first to the Jews and then to the city and the temple.
THE STARTING DATE (Danial 9:25)
Start Date 1. THE COMMANDMENT (9:25)
The starting date for the time period in the prophecy is marked by “the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem.” There was only one commandment to restore and build Jerusalem during the time period between 520 BC and the time of Jesus’ ministry. This occurred in March of 445 BC.
Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
Nehemiah had the “word” of the king. The word translated “words” in Nehemiah 2:18 is “dabar” the same word translated “commandment” in Daniel 9:25. This was the commandment.
The incorrect commandment
Those who adhere to the Fulfilled view can’t use the date of 445 BC so they attempt to make the date earlier. Some use the commandment of Artaxerxes given sometime in 458 or 457 BC (the exact date is unknown) to refurbish the temple. The details of this can be found in Ezra chapter 7. There is no mention of the rebuilding of the city in this decree, or any mention of the city walls. Jehovah’s Witnesses take another approach altogether. They simply rewrite history so that the decree given to Nehemiah was given ten years earlier in 455, and they hope nobody checks it out.
Start Date 2. THE WALLS SHALL BE BUILT (9:25)
Nehemiah records that the walls were completed, on October 2nd 445 BC after 52 days of construction.(Neh 6:15) None of the other decrees record a command or any construction of the walls. In fact some years before the temple restoration decree was given, Artaxerxes gave a command that no building of the walls should be done until another decree was made to do so. (Ezra 4:21-23). From that time the walls lay in ruins until the decree to Nehemiah. Had they been rebuilt 10 years earlier, as the Fulfilled view states, they would not still have been in ruins in Nehemiah’s time.
Start Date 3. THE TROUBLOUS TIMES (9:25)
While what constitutes trouble can be very loosely defined, again the rebuilding under Nehemiah is the only time trouble is recorded during any construction. Numerous threats were made, and plots were made to attack Jerusalem. Nehemiah had men posted at the weak points in the walls with spears and bows, the people working on the walls even carried weapons. (See Nehemiah 2:19, 4:1-23, 6:1-14)
The commandment given to Nehemiah in March of 445 BC is the only commandment that has all the conditions to mark the start of the prophecy. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, in which the walls were built, during a time of trouble. Nisan 1st 445 BC works out to be March 14th on our calendar.
THE TIMING OF THE PROPHECY
Timing 1. 70 WEEKS
What does it mean by seventy weeks? The Hebrew word translated “weeks” simply means seven time periods, it can be seven days, seven weeks or seven years. You can find all these references used in the Bible. Periods of seven weeks of years can be found in Genesis 29:20-21 and Genesis 29:26-30. Pentecost was also called the feast of weeks because it occurred seven weeks after Passover, or seven periods of seven weeks. The seventy weeks in this prophecy are seventy weeks of years, or 490 years.
Timing 2. HOW LONG WAS THE YEAR?
We naturally assume that a year is 365 days long. But that is not always the case, even now leap years have 366 days. The problem is that calendars in ancient times and even today do not sync perfectly with the orbit of the earth. In ancient times however there were numerous calendars and many ways of making the calendar sync with the actual year. The Bible does not use a 365 day year, but a 360 day year in prophecy, and if you try to use a 365 day calendar with prophecy it doesn’t work. Some do attempt to do this, which causes the dates to be off by as much as 10 years and consequently causes them to make many other adjustments.
Timing 3. THE TIME PERIODS
The prophecy divides the 70 weeks into 3 periods, 7 weeks, 62 (threescore and two) weeks and 1 week.
7 WEEKS = 49 years (48 years, 3 ½ months on our calendar) ending in 398 BC
62 WEEKS = 434 years (427 years 9 months on our calendar) ending in April of 32 AD
1 WEEK = 7 years or 6 years 10 ¾ months on our calendar, yet to be fulfilled.*
*The Futurist view holds that the last week of years has yet to be fulfilled, and that a gap exists between the 69th week and the 70th. The Fulfilled view, using different dates has the prophecy being completely fulfilled in the year 34 AD, and uses other dates for all the time periods, consequently having to rewrite some history and add some things to the prophecy while interpreting others symbolically to make it fit.
THE LIFE OF JESUS
There is only one date given in the Bible by which we can fix an exact date for the time in which Jesus lived. That is given in Luke 3:1
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
The fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar began on August 19th 28 AD. This date is well established. So we know that Jesus began his ministry in the Fall of 28 AD and was crucified 3 ½ years later in the spring of 32 AD.
But there is a problem. If you look at the literature the life of Jesus is actually dated all over the place, with his ministry beginning anywhere from 26 AD to 30 AD. Why is this? Because all the other dates are based on something that we cannot fix on the calendar, usually the death of Herod. The death of Herod cannot be established with any certainty and has been dated at different times ranging from 4 BC to 1 BC. Most scholars currently favor 4 BC. The other dates usually have something to do with trying to make the Seventy weeks fit into a predetermined doctrine. The details of all this will not be discussed here. They are not relevant because we have a fixed date in time that works exactly with the Futurist interpretation, which requires no manipulation of dates or guesswork, the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar.
One thing to keep in mind, is that the Bible is correct on all counts of what it does say about Jesus’ birth and early life. We are told that Herod died sometime after the birth of Jesus, and at that time a taxation had taken place, which it had, and that Cyrenius was governor of Syria, which he was. The fact that we cannot establish exact dates does not deter in any way from the accuracy of the Bible, or the fulfillment of this prophecy.
There are many things that this prophecy addresses, and many of them have not been fulfilled. The idea that those things that do not seem to be fulfilled, were fulfilled symbolically is not really satisfying, for the details of the prophecy were not symbolic, but point to real events and real dates.
These are the things that the prophecy specifies would take place: finish the transgression, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up the vision and prophecy and anoint the most Holy. We also have the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, the coming of Messiah the Prince, the Messiah shall be cut off, the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, the prince shall confirm the covenant with many for seven years and after 3 ½ years he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.
Clearly some of these things have already occurred, such as the reconciliation of iniquity, the restoration of Jerusalem, the coming of the Messiah, his cutting off, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Others such as bringing in everlasting righteousness, making of a seven year covenant, and causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease, have not yet occurred. This is why many believe that the last week of the prophecy is separated by a gap of unknown length, the first 69 weeks of the prophecy being fulfilled with the last week yet to be fulfilled. They believe that this week is described in detail in the book of Revelation. The idea that gaps exist in prophetic statements does have scriptural support. In Luke chapter four Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1-2 and stops in the middle of the sentence.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Jesus then said “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. Isaiah 61:2 says this “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” The passage continues describing more events that have yet to be fulfilled. Those who believe the Fulfilled view, reject the idea that a gap could exist and attempt to have the prophecy completed by the year 34 AD and believe that the book of Revelation has been mostly fulfilled over the last 2000 years. Why? The Fulfilled view force fits prophecy into history in an attempt to justify the doctrine that claims the Church has taken the place of Israel. But this is a misinterpretation of scripture.
THE FULFILLMENT OF THE 69 WEEKS
Fulfillment 1: The restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the walls.
The commandment was given in the month of Nisan 445 BC, (March 14th on our calendar) by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah. The walls were completed on October 2nd of 445 BC, during a time of intense opposition.
Fulfillment 2: The seven weeks and the sixty two weeks, or 48 years, 3 ½ months.
These two periods, the first being about 48 years, 3 months, the second being a little over 428 years and the total time being 476 years, 4 ½ months are the length of time until the coming of Messiah the Prince. There is however no specific event that marks the end of the first period. So why the division that would have occurred in 398 BC? The prophecy itself does not specify why the division exists.
The Fulfilled view, which puts the end of the first period in 406-407 BC attempts to tie it to the end of the Governorship of Nehemiah, or the celebration of a jubilee. But why would this prophecy have a division for events that don’t seem to have any real significance with the rest of the prophecy?
The fact is that something very significant ceased to happen. From the time of Samuel until around 398 BC God had been speaking through prophets to the nation Israel. The prophet Malachi’s ministry ended around 398 BC, the exact date is unknown. From that time until John the Baptist, God would not speak to Israel through a prophet. From 398 BC to 28 AD there was no prophet. This is the last thing Malachi wrote.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
In the spring of 28AD John the Baptist, the last prophet that would be sent by God, the one who proclaimed the Messiah was soon to come, began baptizing in the river Jordan. One of whom Jesus later said:
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The 7 weeks marks the time Israel had remaining in which God would speak through a prophet. The 62 weeks is the period between Malachi and John the Baptist. Or the Old and New Testament
Fulfillment 3: Unto Messiah the Prince.
There are several events which have been interpreted as the end of the 69th week. The Baptism of Jesus, the Triumphal Entry and the Cross have all been said to be the event that brought the 69th week to a close. The baptism does not fit with the chronology unless you attempt to manipulate the historical dates; it also does not fulfill the phrase “Messiah the Prince” as we shall see. The cross seems to fit the dates, but it does not fit the phrase “Messiah the Prince” either.
If you are familiar with the Gospels you realize that Jesus often avoided being known as the Messiah, and avoided being made “king.” The term “Messiah the Prince” can actually be translated “the Anointed King.” And there was only one day in Jesus’ entire ministry that he not only allowed himself to be called “Messiah and King,” by the public, but he orchestrated it.
According to the prophecy the 69th week ended in the spring of 32 AD. Specifically, if you do the calculations, on Sunday April 6th, 32 AD. This event, that marked the end of the 69th week is found in all four gospels. Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-16. We refer to it as Palm Sunday, it was the day where Jesus caused himself to be called “Messiah the Prince”. Jesus deliberately fulfilled, Zechariah 9:9 which stated that the king would come riding a donkey. The crowds fulfilled part of Psalm 118, in which they declared Jesus the King and Messiah. Jesus declared that this was the day of their visitation, as stated both in Psalm 118 and Daniel Chapter 9. The final week of Jesus’ life was marked by the fulfillment of multiple prophesies, too numerous to go into in this discussion. This day alone Jesus fulfilled Daniel 9:25, Psalm 118, Zechariah 9:9 and Exodus 12:3
Jesus had the donkey brought to him. He had chosen the day. He even declared to the Pharisees, who understood the crowd was calling him the Messiah and King, that if the crowd had not done their part, the stones would cry out. This was the day. The day that had been declared to Daniel over five centuries before.
Fulfillment 4: The Messiah cut off, but not for himself.
Jesus was crucified 4 days later, not for himself, but for us.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
1 Peter 2:21-24
Fulfillment 5: The Destruction of the city and sanctuary.
This occurred in 70 AD when the Roman’s laid siege to the city of Jerusalem, and eventually pulled the temple apart to retrieve the gold that had seeped into the stones when it had caught on fire. By 135 AD the area Israel had once occupied was renamed Syria-Palestina by the Romans.
THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
The final week has yet to be fulfilled. When this prophecy was written in 520 BC Israel had not been a sovereign nation for over 80 years. It continued to be under gentile rule, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans, just as the Bible had predicted. During these time periods the Jews had spread out across Asia, Europe and Africa, and finally ceased having any control over the land, just as the Bible had predicted. But, in 1948 Israel was once again sovereign nation, after 2600 years of gentile rule. This event occurred in the very year that the Bible had predicted. In 1967 it regained control of Jerusalem which it will need to rebuild the temple. This event also occurred the very year the Bible had predicted.
The stage for the fulfillment of the final week has been being set over the last century and a half. All the pieces seem to be in place. Here is a brief outline of some of the events that will occur. A leader will arise from the European super state, and make a seven year treaty with the nation of Israel. After 3 ½ years of relative peace, he will break the covenant and cause the sacrifices and worship in the newly built temple to cease. Culminating with what we might refer to as World War III.
The details of last days events can be found throughout the Bible. The book of Revelation, chapters 6-19 is a detail of what will occur during the 70th week of Daniel.
PREDICTING THE SECOND COMING.
But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Jesus himself said no one would know the day and hour, i.e. the time of his return. Many people have attempted to predict when Jesus would return, even though Jesus himself said no one would know. The fact that the Bible clearly predicted the exact date of his first coming and gave many details to demonstrate it as fact, should tell us that if Jesus said no one would know, then no one would know.
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3