Daniel 9, Part 2, An Angel, An Anointing and 70 Weeks
Daniel 9:20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 "At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:
Daniel prayed and God answered. Even as Daniel was still in prayer Gabriel appears. “Understand the matter,” he says to Daniel. “Consider the vision.” What matter? What vision? Evidently the portion of the vision in chapter 8 that Daniel said he did not understand.
With this greeting, Gabriel immediately, without any further introduction, launches into the explanation.
Daniel 9:24 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.
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people.” A prophetic period of 70 week were measured off or set aside for the Jews. The word here translated “determined” has the meaning of being measured off from a larger whole. And the obvious larger whole from which the 70 weeks are being measured off is the 2300 days of Daniel 8 - the very part of the prophecy that Gabriel had left unexplained.
During these 70 weeks, or by its conclusion, a number of things were to be accomplished - all of which center around the ministry and sacrificial death of Jesus. Very briefly:
(1) The transgression was to be finished, or as it may also be translated, filled to the full. This the Jews did when they rejected and crucified Jesus. This statement recalls God’s remark concerning the Amorites in the days of Abraham. To Abram God had said:
Genesis 15:13 Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 "Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."
And interestingly the time represented by the 70 weeks is relatively close to the 400 years God had given to the Amorites. The 70 years of Babylonian captivity was nearing its end and God was about to give them a second chance. They would be allowed to return to Israel and rebuild their nation. But it was a time limited offer. If they were to follow in the footsteps of the Amorites who had been expelled from the land because of their sins, then they too would ultimately suffer the same fate. As the Bible says: “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).
(2) An end of sins (or sin offerings as it may also be translated) was to be made. This was brought about by the crucifixion. Jesus was the true sacrifice of which all the animal sacrifices of the sanctuary service was but type and shadow. The death of Jesus on the cross effectively ended the need for animal sacrifices - as signified by the tearing of the veil in the temple.
(3) Reconciliation for iniquity was to be provided. This Jesus did by his sacrificial death. In dying for us, he reconciled the world to God.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
(4) Everlasting righteousness was to be brought in. This is the Righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness, and His Righteousness is everlasting.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Psalm 119:142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
(5) The vision and the prophecy were to be sealed, or made sure. This prophecy is essentially the seal or sign of authenticity that Jesus is the Christ. In this prophecy God gives exact dates for key events in Christ’s life centuries in advance. This is a prophecy that literally makes or breaks Christianity.
(6) Anoint the most Holy. The word here translated “most Holy” is a word that is only used in reference to persons. And in this context it can only refer to Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. And these two words, Messiah and Christ, one Hebrew, the other Greek, simply mean “The Anointed One.” We will be taking a closer look at this anointing a little later in this study.
Daniel 9:25 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.
Here we are given a definite starting date for the 70 weeks, “the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem.” The Jews were at this time still in captivity, and Jerusalem and its temple lay in ruins. So just when did this command to restore and build Jerusalem go forth? We have four possible dates to choose from, but of the four, only one really meets the specifications of the prophecy as being a decree to restore and build Jerusalem.
The first is the 536 BC decree of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the temple. This decree referred only to the temple itself and did not give the Jews general permission to restore the city or for the restoration of the Jewish state. The rebuilding of the temple was stopped for a time by enemies of the Jews. The second was in 519 BC when Darius sent out another decree to allow the work of rebuilding the temple to continue.
In 444 BC Nehemiah sought and obtained permission to go to Jerusalem. When he arrived at Jerusalem, he found the work of rebuilding Jerusalem, specifically the work of rebuilding the walls, far enough along that he was able to finish them in only 52 days. This work of finishing the walls of Jerusalem is briefly mentioned in the last sentence of Daniel 9:25 where it says, “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” A reading of Nehemiah will give a good idea of what was meant by “troublous times.”
This leaves one last date to consider. One that comes after the first two decrees given for the rebuilding of the temple but before Nehemiah’s wall building trip to Jerusalem. This is the 457 BC decree given by Artaxerxes to Ezra. By the providence of God you have in your Bible, in the 7th chapter of Ezra, a complete copy of this decree. That is how important it was.
In 457 BC a decree was granted to Ezra by the Persian emperor Artaxerxes to go up to Jerusalem with as many people as were minded to go with him. The commission granted him an unlimited amount of money from the treasuries of the empire to beautify the house of God, to procure offerings for its service, and to do whatever else might seem good to him. It empowered him to ordain laws, set magistrates and judges, and execute punishment even unto death -- in other words, to restore the Jewish state, civil and ecclesiastical. It was 13 years after this that Nehemiah obtained his permission to go to Jerusalem, and once there was able to finish the wall in 52 days.
This gives us a starting date of 457 BC for the 70 weeks of Daniel 9. And if we really wanted to get picky, we would find that the decree was delivered to the people of Jerusalem, and finally put into effect in the autumn of that year.
From this date, we are told, there would be a period of “seven weeks and threescore and two weeks” (483 days) “unto the Messiah the Prince.” Obviously, we are not talking actual days here. In the Bible, as we have already seen earlier in this study, we find the general principal that one prophetic day equals one literal year. These 70 weeks of Daniel 9 are of this prophetic nature, and both Jewish and Christian commentators have understood the weeks of Daniel 9 as being weeks of years. The day-year principle of interpretation is most ancient.
And so a simple calculation (keeping in mind that there is no zero year, you go straight from 1 BC to 1 AD, no zero.) should show us the date of the Messiah’s appearance. And that date is 27 AD. So, according to this prophecy - the Messiah should have made his appearance in 27 AD. And that is just exactly what we find to be the case.
And you may be asking yourself, "27 AD? Why 27 AD? What's so important about 27 AD?" Well you will just have to keep reading to find out.
Now you may be asking, why 27 AD? What was so important about that date, and why if the prophecy points to the appearance of the Messiah does it not point to the date of His birth? The answer is simple. The prophecy said, “unto the Messiah the Prince.” Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning “the anointed one.” Thus the prophecy must point to the time of Jesus’ anointing, at which time He would have become the “Messiah.” Consider the following text:
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, 2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
Now would you like to hazard a guess as to what date the “fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” falls upon? If you guessed 27 AD go to the head of the class - you are right. And it is no coincidence that this date exactly coincides with the termination of the “7 weeks and three score and two weeks” of Daniel 9.
It was God who inspired Luke to so carefully date this particular chapter, and as far as I know it is the only chapter in the whole of the New Testament that is so carefully dated. And why did God see to it that this particular chapter was so carefully dated? Because of the prophecy in Daniel 9.
And so when we count off the prophetic period of “seven weeks and threescore and two weeks” beginning with the date of “the decree to restore and build Jerusalem” -- (which decree was providentially preserved in the Bible for our reference) -- we come to the year 27 AD, the very year given by Luke for the events of chapter 3 of his book.
And just exactly what happens in Luke chapter 3?
Luke 3:21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."
Note back in Daniel 9:24 that one of the things that would be accomplished before the 70 weeks were over was the anointing of the most Holy. The particular word used for “most Holy” here in Daniel, as we have already noted, is a word that always refers to a person, and in this case refers to the anointing of Jesus as the Messiah. The very meaning of the Hebrew “Messiah” and also of the Greek “Christ” is “the anointed one.” And Jesus is that anointed One.
But just exactly how was Jesus anointed?
Remember how at Jesus’ baptism “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.” This was his anointing. How do I come to that conclusion? Read Acts 10:37-38.
Acts 10:37 "that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
When, after His baptism, Jesus came up out of the water and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father said, “You are my beloved son,” that was the anointing. And it was that anointing that made Jesus the Messiah.
In Isaiah 61 we read of Jesus:
Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
And after His baptism, after His anointing by the Holy Spirit, Jesus takes up these very words written by Isaiah and declares them fulfilled.
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
And thus Jesus is “The Anointed One,” the Messiah, the Christ. Now take a look at this next text.
Mark 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
“The time is fulfilled.” What time is fulfilled? None other than the “seven weeks and threescore and two weeks” leading up to “the Messiah the Prince” of Daniel 9. Here Jesus was announcing that He was the promised Messiah, and that the 7 weeks and threescore and two weeks of Daniel 9 had reached their conclusion.
After the 69 Weeks
Going now to Daniel 9:26 we read:
Daniel 9:26 "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.
Note what this text says. It says that sometime after the threescore and two weeks, that is, sometime after the autumn of 27 AD, the Messiah was to be cut off. The word translated “cut off” here is a word used to describe a violent death, usually by execution. And so we can take this text to say that sometime after AD 27 the Messiah would be executed. The very next phrase is very interesting. The Messiah was to be executed, but it adds, “but not for himself.” Jesus did not die for Himself. He died for us. He died that we may have life. The point is, He did not die for Himself, but for others. His was an unselfish sacrifice on our behalf.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
In the last half of verse 26, another prince is introduced, a destroyer prince. While this may not be overtly obvious in the English, it is in the Hebrew. The entirety of the 70 weeks prophecy is presented in a Hebrew literary form known as a chiasm. When you diagram the chiasm this particular portion looks like this.
Messiah Prince cut off/executed (verse 26)
Destroyer Prince destroys the Sanctuary (and city) (verse 26)
Messiah Prince terminates the sacrifices (verse 27)
Destroyer Prince cut-off/executed (verse 27)
The word “prince” is often used in the Bible in symbolic portrayal of a prominent and powerful leader.
This destroyer prince comes sometime after AD 27 to destroy the city and the sanctuary. Regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple the last part of Daniel 9:26 reads: “The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.”
In prophetic symbolism waters represent “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” (Revelation 17:15). And consequently invading armies are often represented in symbol by floods.
And this is just exactly what Rome did. In the year 70 AD the Roman armies overflowed Judea like a flood. They besieged Jerusalem, and before it was all over they had burned the temple and the city to the ground - and so thoroughly was the temple destroyed, that history records that they plowed the ground on which it once stood.
Hosea 10:13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. 14 Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled.
Micah 3:10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. 12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
As Jesus said to His disciples: “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2)
The prophecy said “and till the end of the war desolations are determined.” And indeed so it was. The Roman’s war against the Jews was an especially brutal one.
The 70th Week
Daniel 9:27 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 on the winds of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate. NASB.]
Who is the “he” in the first part of this verse? Is it the Messiah Prince or the destroyer prince? The chiastic structure of this prophecy tells us that the “he” in the first half of this verse must refer to the Messiah Prince.
Messiah Prince cut off/executed (verse 26)
Destroyer Prince destroys the Sanctuary (and city) (verse 26)
Messiah Prince terminates the sacrifices (verse 27)
Destroyer Prince cut-off/executed (verse 27)
Verse 27 brings us into the last, 70th week of the 70 weeks determined upon the Jews. Here we find that “he,” the Messiah Prince, will confirm the covenant with many for one week -- BUT, also that in the middle of that 70th week he will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.
The 7 weeks and 62 weeks took us up to the autumn of AD 27. If you add half a week, 3 ½ years to that -- it takes you to the spring of AD 31. Now tell me, what event do Christians everywhere celebrate in the spring of each year? What happened in the spring of AD 31? Jesus was crucified, and with the death of Jesus all sacrifices effectively came to an end -- that is -- There was no longer any reason for them, they no longer had any meaning because Jesus was the One true Sacrifice - the reality of which all the others were mere shadows.
He was to cause the sacrifices and oblations to cease. These Jewish ordinances, pointing to the death of Jesus, could cease only at the cross. And they virtually did come to an end when the veil of the temple was torn in half from top to bottom when Christ died.
Matthew 27: 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
From that moment onward, forever, any other sacrifice would be but a mockery of Christ’s death. The sacrifices had served their purposes, but now Christ had come and He Himself has become our sacrifice. From this time onward forever, the rites and ceremonies of the sacrificial system would, and could never be anything but an empty shell, a hollow form.
This is the spring of AD 31. Three and a half years still remained of the 70 week period. Adding another three and a half years to the spring of AD 31 brings us to the autumn of 34 AD.
Now remember, the 70 weeks were determined upon the Jewish people. While Jesus yet lived, whenever He sent his disciples on missionary journeys, He sent only to the house of Israel, not to the Gentiles.
Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus it was to the house of Israel that the apostles preached. But all this was soon to change. As 34 AD approached amazing things began to happen. A man named Saul, a bitter and vicious persecutor of the Church had an encounter with God and became the apostle Paul. As he was later to tell the story:
Acts 22:21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Peter was on a house top in Joppa when a Centurion, a Roman soldier, was directed by an angel to send for him -- that the gospel might be preached to them. Peter was hesitant, for such a thing had never been done before - he, a Jew, preaching to a Gentile congregation in a Gentile house. But God had sent Peter a vision beforehand to prepare him for this.
Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them. … 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. 19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
Exactly on schedule, just as it was told to Daniel so many centuries before, the 70 weeks expired and the Gospel went out with great power to the Gentiles. But sadly for the Jews, as their 70 weeks expired, they still remained unrepentant, and never recognized their Savior.
So powerful and so compelling is this prophecy of Daniel 9 -- So exactly does it point to Jesus as the Messiah that long ago Jewish religious leaders forbid any Jew from ever making any attempt to calculate the date of this prophecy. Here in this prophecy is absolute proof positive that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.