The 70 Weeks of Daniel
The ninth chapter of the book of Daniel contains one of the most outstanding prophecies in the Bible, as it deals with both the first and second comings of Jesus Christ.
The chapter opens with Daniel praying fervently on behalf of his people, the Israelites, who at that time (about 538 BC) were relocated captives of the Persian Empire. The archangel Gabriel appears and informs Daniel that he has come to give Daniel "skill and understanding." Then Gabriel tells Daniel to "understand the matter, and consider the vision."
Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up [fulfill] vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy [Jesus] (Daniel 9:24).
The Hebrew word translated "weeks" in the King James Bible and some other versions is shabuwa, which literally means "seven." Strong's Greek/Hebrew Dictionary gives this definition: "literal, sevened, i.e. a week (specifically, of years)." So these 70 weeks are actually 70 times 7 years. Some modern versions of the Bible state this "70 weeks" in simplest terms: 490 years. As we read the rest of the prophecy and understand its fulfillment, it becomes obvious that "7 years" is the correct interpretation of "week" in this passage.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [Jesus], there shall be seven weeks [49 years] and sixty-two weeks [434 years]; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself" (Daniel 9:25-26a).
Eighty-five years after Daniel received this prophecy, in 453 BC, Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king of Persia, gave his trusted Jewish servant Nehemiah permission to go to Judah to restore the fortunes of his people. Artaxerxes appointed Nehemiah governor of the province and gave him authority to rebuild the city walls (Nehemiah 2:1-9). This was the "command to restore and build Jerusalem." Several other proclamations were made by Persian kings to release the Jews from captivity and let them return to Israel to rebuild the temple, but the principal proclamation to rebuild the city of Jerusalem itself was made by Artaxerxes I in 453 BC.
According to the prophecy, from the time of that proclamation until the Messiah would be "cut off" would be 69 times 7 years, or 483 years. Counting from 453 BC, this brings us to 30 AD--the exact year that Jesus Christ was crucified!
It is also significant that the total number of years is given in two figures: 7 "weeks" (49 years) and 62 "weeks" (434 years) because it took 49 years to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and from the time that work was completed until Jesus was "cut off" was 434 years.
The prophet Isaiah, writing in about 700 BC, explains how it would be that the Messiah would be cut off [killed], but not for Himself: "For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. ... When You make His soul an offering for sin. ... My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:8,10-11). Jesus died for us, to atone for the sins of the whole world, not because He Himself was guilty of any sin or crime.
Returning to Daniel's revelation, the angel continues:
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 (Daniel 9:26b).
Forty years after Jesus was crucified, in 70 AD, the Roman legions under general (and future emperor) Titus--a "flood of ungodly men" (Psalm 18:4)--burned Jerusalem and took the Temple apart stone by stone to get the gold leaf that had melted and run into the cracks, just as Jesus had prophesied of the Temple in 30 AD: "Not one stone shall be left here upon another" (Matthew 24:1-2).
There seems to be a discrepancy, however, between the figures given in Daniel 9:24 (490 years) and the verse that immediately follows (483 years). Where are the missing 7 years?
One pivotal clause in verse 24 was not fulfilled when Jesus was crucified: "to bring in everlasting righteousness." One look at the world today and it is obvious that everlasting righteousness has not arrived. When Jesus died on the cross He made "an end to sin" for those who believe and receive Him as their Savior, but everlasting righteousness will not reign on earth until after Jesus returns, beginning with His initial 1,000-year reign known as the Millennium. The last of the 70 "weeks" of Daniel, the last 7 years (also known as the 70th week), is yet to be fulfilled, and will be soon
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 [offering] 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 (Daniel 9:27 KJV).
The word "he" refers to "the prince who is to come" (verse 26), and since the Antichrist is also referred to as "the prince of the covenant" in Daniel 11:22, we know that the "he" in this verse is the Antichrist.
What is a "covenant"?--It's a pact, a solemn agreement. The signing of this covenant will mark the start of the Antichrist's seven-year reign and the last seven years before Jesus returns.
This covenant is mentioned several other times in the Scriptures. Because it is called a "holy covenant" in Daniel 11:28,30, it appears to be some sort of religious pact, at least in part--quite possibly one that tackles the thorny issue of religious coexistence between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and by which Jerusalem will be declared an international city with free and equal access guaranteed to people of all faiths. It appears that this will also clear the way for the Jews to finally be able to rebuild their Temple on Jerusalem's Mount Moriah and reinstitute animal sacrifices on its altar.
But in the "midst of the week"--or three and a half years into the seven-year covenant period--the Antichrist will renege on the agreement:
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate (Daniel 11:31 KJV).
This is a key Scripture because it tells us that at this point, three and a half years after confirming the seven-year covenant, the Antichrist will forcibly enter the Jewish Temple (the "sanctuary of strength"), which would have to have been built by then, as it does not exist now. He will put an end to the daily sacrifice and place in the Temple area something called the "abomination of desolation."
Over 500 years after Daniel gave this prophecy, Jesus referred to it in His dissertation on the signs of His second coming and of the end of the world as we know it:
When you see the "abomination of desolation," spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place [the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem] ... then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:15,21).
So what exactly is this "abomination of desolation"?--Jesus said we would see it "standing" in the Jewish Temple. Daniel 11:31 says the Antichrist's forces will "place" it there. Daniel 12:11 says that it will be "set up." We find out in the book of Revelation that the abomination of desolation is an image of the Antichrist himself (Revelation 13:15), who the Bible also refers to as "the Beast" (Revelation 13:1-7).
The Antichrist's chief aide, the "false prophet," will be behind the making of this image, which will be able to "speak" and somehow have power to cause those who refuse to worship it to be killed (Revelation 13:11-15). This power will be through the electronic monetary system that the Antichrist government will enact. People will be forced to submit to and worship the Antichrist, because under this system no one will be able to buy or sell without a personal account number, the "mark of the Beast," in their right hands or foreheads (Revelation 13:16-18). But some will refuse to worship the Antichrist or receive his mark, and the Lord will take care of them (Revelation 12:6,14).
Back to Daniel 9:27: The Antichrist will rule "even until the consummation." The Hebrew word that is translated "consummation" here comes from the root kalah, which can mean either "complete" or "consume, destroy utterly." It is unclear which meaning is intended--whether it refers to the last aspect of the prophecy being fulfilled or the utter destruction of the Antichrist and his forces--but both fit because they happen at the same time. The prophecy will be completed and the Antichrist destroyed shortly after the second coming of Christ, in the wrath of God and the Battle of Armageddon. Verse 27 continues: "and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." The wrath of God will be poured upon the Antichrist and his followers, but meanwhile God's saved children will be safely home in Heaven, enjoying the marriage feast of the Lamb, who is Jesus (Daniel 12:11-12; Revelation 14:9-10; chapters 15-16; 19).
The first 69 "weeks" happened just as Daniel's prophecy said they would. We have no reason to doubt that the last "week"--the last seven years before Jesus' return to earth--will not also happen as predicted here in this amazing passage.
Are you ready for Jesus' return? If not, you'd better get ready. Things are really moving! Take Jesus now!
Originally published in: Activated Magazine Online - www.activated.org