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Daniel’s 70th Week: A Prophetic Dilemma! May 24, 2010

Posted by Henry in Eschatology & End Times.
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In looking at the prophesy of Daniel’s 70 Weeks as recorded in Daniel 9 several problems arises from the point of view of modern eschatology. However, I will only highlight the main ones here for now. Whilst Daniel was praying and making supplications the angel Gabriel appeared unto him and explained a few things to him concerning the future of Israel. Gabriel told Daniel (see Daniel 9:23) that from the beginning of his supplication a “commandment came forth” and that it was this commandment which he came to show to Daniel and this can be see from verse 24 onwards. Gabriel told Daniel 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 (or 69 weeks). In terms of understanding Bible prophecy we understand a week to be a week of years or 7 years to be precise. Therefore what Gabriel is saying is that there shall be 483 years (69 multiplied by 7) from between the time of the commandment to rebuild the Temple unto Messiah. If we recall that at the time of Daniels supplication the time period we are dealing with was the first year of Darius’ reign. Therefore according to Gabriel the commandment went forth during the first year of Darius’ reign. According to Daniel 5:30, Darius began reigning when he was 62 years old, and according to other historical records he died in 486 BCE, when he was about 64 years of age. So then we can see that from the first year of Darius’ reign (circa 488 BCE) through to the time of Christ’s birth is approximately 483 years (or 69 weeks). [According to some historical sources Jesus was born around 4 BCE]

 We are then told however that after 62 weeks were accomplished Messiah would be “cut off” but not for Himself. We could assume here that this is a reference to Christ being crucified and ascending to Heaven after which time the people of a prince that shall come will destroy the city and the temple in a war which results in the desolation of Jerusalem. We are then told in verse 27 that the prince that shall come will confirm a covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week shall cause the oblation and sacrifice to cease leading to the overspreading of abominations which makes the place desolate until the time of the consummation. It is assumed that this week is the 70th and last week of the allotted 70 weeks which was appointed for Israel to make an end of sins and to bring in everlasting righteousness. The first major problem here therefore is that whilst we can clearly count the years of the first 69 weeks where does the 70th week come in? Yet Bible scholars confidently declare that the 70th week marks the last 7 years of the age (the tribulation period) before Jesus Christ returns to earth (or the rapture). Usually we look at a block of time as a continuous period and in this instance there is nothing to suggest that the clock stops at 69 weeks and then we add in the 70th week thousands of years later. Yet if scholars are to make their interpretations fit then that is exactly what they are saying. Could there be another explanation for the 70th week or another method for counting the years? I must admit that I do not have the answers here but this is no less intriguing. Some interpreters further claim that the 70th week was fulfilled when Titus sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D but again there is a problem here going by the week of years method if the period is meant to be continuous.

 There is a further problem which resides in how one reconciles verse26 into the whole equation. According to verse 26, Messiah will be cut off after three score and two weeks. Does this mean that after the first 69 weeks which takes us up to the birth of Messiah, He would then continue for three score and two weeks and then be “cut off”? If this were the case then on the basis of the week of years we would be saying that Jesus lived for 62 434 years instead of the approximate 33 and 1/2 years (assuming that the scriptures refer to His birth and subsequent death). Whatever the case may be I have no doubt that the prophecy interpreters do not have it completely worked out.

This post has been edited to correct the year of Darius’ reign. I subtracted two years from the year of Darius’ reign instead of adding. I have also added in the approximate year of Christ’s birth in order to reflect how the 69 weeks (483 years) is arrived at.

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Comments»

1. Paul Bortolazzo - May 24, 2010

Hi Henry,
“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.” (Dan. 9:24)

Gabriel tells Daniel God has decreed a chastisement of the Jewish people by her Gentile enemies for seventy weeks. One week represents seven years (70×7=490 years). One year equals 360 days (Rev. 11:2-3). At the end of this seventy week chastisement, the Most Holy will physically return and take away the sins of Israel. (Chart-The Seventy Weeks of Daniel)

Now let’s review the events Gabriel gave Daniel in the order they take place.

1. In Daniel 9:26, the angel predicted the very day the Messiah was killed. From the order to rebuild Jerusalem to His death was 69 weeks. At the end of 483 years of Gentile domination, Jesus was crucified on Passover (Mat. 26:1-2). On that day, 69 of the 70 weeks were fulfilled.
2. In A.D. 70, Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the sanctuary (Jer. 52:13-30, Dan. 9:26, Mat. 24:1-2). Because of their rejection of the Messiah, the Jewish people were scattered among the nations (Neh. 1:8). This was called the Great Diaspora (Deut. 28:64-65).
3. The 70th week of Daniel will begin when a world leader (Antichrist) confirms a seven year covenant with Israel and her Muslim neighbors (Dan. 9:27a). For the first half of the 70th week the Jewish people will be living in peace (Ezek. 38:11).
4. In the middle of the 70th week, the one who makes desolate will break this covenant by invading an unsuspecting Jerusalem with his armies (Dan. 9:27, Matthew 24:15, Luke 21:20, Ezekiel 38:1-12).
5. The final event Gabriel predicted involves the Holy One (Messiah) returning at the end of the 70th week. From the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Neh. 2:5), the Jewish people will suffer seventy weeks of Gentile domination (Dan. 9:24). Once the 70th week ends, the Messiah will come back and save Israel (Rom. 11:25-27, Rev. 10:1-7).

So why is understanding this vision Gabriel gave Daniel so important? Earlier we studied the events making up the second coming of Christ: the Son of Man coming in the clouds, the Messiah physically returning to earth, the Word of God appearing in heaven, and the Lamb of God descending inside the New Jerusalem. (Chart-The Second Coming of Christ) Each one is connected with the seven year period called the 70th week of Daniel.

2. Don McAllister - May 24, 2010

Hello Henry,

If I may Henry, the reason that your timing is off regarding the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, is because the decree did not go out during the reign of Darius. Gabriel simply gave Daniel a prophecy stating that, when the decree went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, that would be the starting point of the seventy, sevens or 490 years, but the decree did not go out at that time. If you want to read where the decree was issued, then please go and read the book of Nehemiah. For it was the report from Hanani, Nehemia’s fellow Israelite, that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates burned with fire. It was during the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia where the issuing of the decree took place, which according to the time line was about 446 B.C., which fits perfectly with the anointed one being cut off.

Also, in regards to the end of the sixty nine ‘sevens’ when the anointed one would be cut off (Christ Crucified), God did pause his dealings with Israel at that point and focused on building the church, which is currently still in process. Once God has completed the church, then the resurrection and catching away of the church will take place and then God will pick up where he left off in his dealings with Israel and the rest of the world during that last seven years.

Furthermore, this event could not have possibly already taken place, because the last seven year period is related to that beast, the antichrist and his setting up of the abomination of desolation, leading up to the return of Jesus to set up his millennial kingdom. The mention of the beast, this last day ruler going to his destruction, is in regards to when Jesus returns and has him thrown into the lake of fire. When Jesus returns to the earth to begin his millennial kingdom, this will bring an end to human government and the beginning of Christs. This is demonstrated in Daniel regarding Nebuchadnezzer’s statue, when the rock cut out of the mountain without human hands falls on the feet of the statue, which represents all of the world ruling kingdoms from beginning to end. The statue crumbles on the threshing floor and is blown away like chaff by a summer wind, which represents the end of human government. That last seven year period is just ahead and coming quickly. I hope this clears some things up for you.

Yours in Christ

3. Henry - May 25, 2010

Hi Paul,

What you have presented is pretty much the same interpretations which I refer to in my write-up. I am not necessarily saying that this interpretation is wrong but it poses several problems.

In point 1 of your response you asserted that there was 69 weeks from the time of the commandment to rebuild the temple through to Christ death. Please show me how you count the years and what your starting point is.

With regards to points 3 and 5, you clearly infer that the 70th week will begin at some future time and you said that Israel would suffer Gentile domination for 70 weeks starting from the commandment to rebuild the Temple. So how can you count 70 weeks (or 490 years) from the date of the commandment going forth through to the last 7 years of this Age? If 69 weeks takes us up to Christ’s death around 33 A.D, weren’t the Jews still being dominated by the Gentiles through to 70 A.D and even through to the present day? So consequently the Jews have been dominated by the Gentiles for much more than 490 years. Please note that I am not questioning the accuracy or integrity of scriptures here but rather our interpretation of it. Whichever way you look at it there are problems with the traditional interpretations of this prophecy.

4. Henry - May 25, 2010

Hello Don,

The truth is that when I first studied this issue I found out that the original decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple was issued by King Cyrus (the Great) who preceded Darius. If you look at the Book of Ezra and chapter 1 you will note that the word of the Lord came to Cyrus via the prophet Jeremiah to build God’s house. Hence Cyrus is regarded in scripture (Isa 45:1) as God’s anointed one. However, I had problems with the dating because if you started the dating from Cyrus’ decree the dating does not fit. What you will note from Ezra 5 though is that a dispute arose when the governors Tatnai and Shetharboznai approached Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the prophets etc to ask them who gave them the authority to rebuild the temple and the wall. So they wrote a letter to Darius the king that men were rebuilding Jerusalem and that the men told them Cyrus the king had made the decree in the first year of his reign. So they asked Darius in the letter to search the palace treasury to see if there is a record of the decree by Cyrus. Ezra Chapter 6 therefore records that the search was made by Darius and he found the decree and instructed Tatnai to uphold Cyrus’ decree and let the house of God be built.

You will also find in Ezra chapter 4 that a similar scenario was played out whereby trouble-makers who opposed the building of the city and the temple wrote to King Artaxerxes for him to stop the building work and he commanded the work to stop. Verse 24 of Ezra 4 states that the building worked stopped until the second year of Darius king of Persia’s reign.

So then Cyrus made the first decree and Darius made another decree after the building work had already begun and stopped. Other rulers may have made further decrees concerning the building work but I do not see any basis for dating the time of the start of the 69 weeks from their decrees. The primary reason I say this is that Gabriel told Daniel that, “at the beginning of thy supplication the commandment came forth” and we know from verse 1 and 2 of Daniel 9 that the time period in question was the first year of Darius’ reign.

If anything we should have stated the dating process from Cyrus’ decree which was over 500 years before Christ’s birth but this wouldn’t fit would it? Whichever way you look at it there are problems in the interpretation. How could God have stopped His dealings with Israel after 69 weeks yet Titus came and destroyed Jerusalem and scatter the Jews some thirty-odd years after Christ ascended?

5. Henry - July 8, 2010

Don,
I have reviewed this topic and I will make one concession. Indeed if we are to arrive at 483 years to Messiah then it would be more appropriate to start the dating from Artaxerxes decree. However the 483 years would lead to the start of His ministry rather than His crucifixion at the end of the 483 years. The scripture does say after the 62 weeks (plus the previous 7) messiah would be cut off. “After” cannot mean on the last day of the 62 (or 69) weeks.


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