What is the significance of the 70 weeks Prophecy in Daniel 9? Did it have any significance with regards to Jesus Christ and the nation of Israel? Let's study the Word of God in the Bible to find the truth about this important prophecy.
Bible prophecy is an important part of our studying the Word of God. Finding Bible prophecy that has been fulfilled strengthens our faith in God Almighty. Lots of people have come to the faith through the many prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Christ Jesus, that were fulfilled in His life and death. Also, Bible prophecy for future events can prepare us, so that we can be ready for what will come.
2 Peter 1:19 ....'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.'
Revelation 1:3 ....'Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.' ...... Bible prophecy is a blessing from the LORD, so that we can be prepared for the times ahead and that our faith may be strengthened, when we see the prophecies being fulfilled. We must not brush aside Bible prophecy, thinking that it is not important. It's so sad that most Christians in the world do not take even a slight interest in prophecy, and yet it is a revelation from Christ Jesus as to what will take place. We all need to start heeding Peter's and John's words above.
The 70 Weeks of Daniel 9
So here we are going to focus on this incredible prophecy in Daniel 9 of the 70 weeks. This is an amazing prophecy, because it proves Jesus Christ to be the Messiah. Yet as with so much of God's Word, this prophecy has been abused and twisted and changed, which satan causes people to do, to deceive us and to take the focus off Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. The Roman Catholic Church, through Jesuit priests wrote counter interpretations to Bible Prophecy when the reformation pointed to them as 'Antichrist'. The Jesuits proposed that the final 7 years of this 70 week prophecy pointed to a future antichrist that would put an end to sacrifices in a rebuilt temple in Israel. This is where the teaching of the 7 years of tribulation before the Second Coming of Christ comes from. But it is a false interpretation to take our eyes of the Roman Catholic Church as antichrist and also to take our eyes off Jesus! These 'Left Behind' novels teach the same error, which is nothing but Jesuit futurism that needs to be left well alone! But here, we are not going to interpret this prophecy ourselves, we are going to let the Word of God interpret itself..... 2 Peter 1:20-21 ....'Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.'
The 70 weeks of Daniel are 70 continuous 'prophetic' weeks. They are not 70 weeks split into different chunks of time with gaps in between. Please let this Bible truth sink in..... The 70 weeks are continuous. How long is the 70 weeks? We will find this out later.
Daniel 9:2 ....'In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.' ..... Daniel had read the prophecies of Jeremiah and understood that the 70 years of captivity that Jeremiah prophesied about had come to an end and that the rebuilding of Jerusalem was to come next...... Jeremiah 25:11-12 ....'And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.' ...... Babylon had now fallen and the seventy years were finished.
Daniel 9:3-6 .....'And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.' ..... Daniel now comes before the LORD God in prayer and fasting. Take special note of how Daniel comes before God, because the church today needs to learn from Daniel in the way they approach God. If you study the Old Testament, you will see how the children of Israel kept falling away into sin and rebellion against God. This is why Daniel concentrated this prayer on confessing his and their sins and asking for forgiveness. The reason the children of Israel were taken into captivity was because they kept sinning against God.
Now during Daniel's prayer to God, the angel Gabriel came to Daniel to finish explaining a vision that he gave Daniel in chapter 8...... Daniel 9:20-22 ....'And whiles I was speaking, and 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; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.' ...... There is no other vision in Daniel 9, so the 'vision at the beginning' must be the one in chapter 8 of the 2300 days (a day = a year in prophecy), where at the end of the vision, Daniel fainted and became sick, and he did not understand the vision...... Daniel 8:27 ....'And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.'
So Gabriel had now come to Daniel to finish the vision and to give him understanding of it..... Daniel 9:22-23 ....'And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.'
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.' ..... God is giving his children a final chance to put an end to their sins. Israel were a chosen nation by God to take His Word to the world, but through their constant sin the Jews were not fulfilling the job God gave them. And now, God gives them this prophetic time of 70 weeks to put an end to their sin, otherwise they would no longer be the chosen nation.
How long is the 70 weeks? Well, we know in prophecy that a day equals a year ..... Ezekiel 4:6 ....'And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.' ....... Numbers 14:34 ....'After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.' .... So a day in prophecy is an actual year. Therefore, Daniels 70 weeks would calculate to 490 'prophetic' days, and then taking the day for a year rule, this would equate to an actual 490 years. Most scholars are in agreement that this time period is 490 years. So, Israel had 490 years to put an end to their sin and to remain as God's special chosen nation. If they failed, then they would no longer be that chosen nation.
So when did this 490 year period start? ...... Daniel 9:25 ....'Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem....' .... So it would start at the command to rebuild Jerusalem. Do we know when this was? By the mercy of God we do. This 490 years started when Artaxerxes issued the very decree in 457BC for the Israelites to return to and rebuild Jerusalem.... Ezra 7:13,20 ....'I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.' ..... Now, the rebuilding of Jerusalem had already started, when Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild it ..... Ezra 1:3 ....'Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.' ..... This was in 539 BC. But the rebuilding had come to a stop by force ..... Ezra 4:21,23 ....'Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.' ..... Now notice that King Artaxerxes forced them to stop UNTIL HE GAVE ANOTHER COMMAND TO START. This second command is the one where the 490 years start.
There is another reason why the 490 years has to start at Artaxerxes second command in 457BC, because this 490 year prophecy also reveals Jesus Christ as the Messiah..... 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.' .... This time period of 7 weeks and threescore and 2 weeks = 69 weeks, which is 483 days. And using the day to year rule in prophecy, we get 483 years. So, after 483 years after the decree to restore Jerusalem, Christ would be revealed as Messiah. Now if we take the first decree by Cyrus in 539 BC, we don't come to a date where Jesus was revealed. You see, 539 - 483 = 56BC .... This date has no relevance to Jesus. But if we take the second decree by Artaxerxes in 457BC then it fits perfectly.... 457 - 483 = AD27, the year Jesus was baptized. (Don't forget when calculating this, there is a year 0). Friend, that is an amazing prophecy right there, which reveals Jesus Christ as the Messiah! To confirm even more that we are to use the command of Artaxerxes in 457BC as a starting point, in Daniel 9:25 above, Gabriel says that there will be two time periods of 7 weeks and threescore and two weeks. 7 weeks = 49 years. From 457BC, 49 years would take us to 408BC. This is the date that the restoration of Jerusalem finished! Then we have the threescore and two weeks, which = 434 years. 408AD - 434 = AD27 .... Jesus' baptism!
Jesus confirms Himself, that this time period had been fulfilled...... Mark 1:9-15 ....'And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.'
So what else happens in this 70 weeks of Daniel? ...... Daniel 9:26-27 ....'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.' ..... So after the threescore and two weeks (434 years), after Christ's baptism, He shall be cut off. The words 'cut off' mean to be killed. This points to none other than Jesus' crucifixion. Notice that it says in the above prophecy in Daniel, that He would be cut off, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF. Who did Jesus die for? Himself? No, He died for you and me. Now the above verses go into even more detail, saying that He shall confirm the covenant with many for 1 week (7 years), and in the middle of those 7 years He would cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. So half of 7 years is 3.5 years. What happened 3.5 years after Jesus' baptism in AD27? His crucifixion! Exactly 3.5 years after His baptism, Jesus was crucified in the Spring of AD31, the veil of the temple tore in two, symbolizing that the 'sacrifices and oblations' (offerings) ceased.
So now we have the last 3.5 years. The Jews still had 3.5 years left to put an end to sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Notice that the covenant would be confirmed for 1 week (7 years). So the covenant would continue to be confirmed after Jesus' death on the cross. Who did this? The apostles did! .... Luke 24:46-47 ....'And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.' ..... So the apostles specifically targeted the Jewish nation during this last 3.5 years to give them a final chance to accept Jesus. So when did this 3.5 years end? After Stephen's speech of the gospel message to the Jewish leaders, they completely rejected Jesus by stoning Stephen in the Autumn of AD34, 3.5 years after Jesus died on the cross. ..... Acts 7:57-58 ....'Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.' ...... Jesus said many times 'If anyone has ears, let him hear', but the Jews 'stopped their ears' to the truth, and thus they sealed their doom, the 490 year prophecy of Daniel 9 had been fulfilled with the Jewish nation rejecting Jesus and thus they inturn were rejected by God as His chosen nation...... Acts 13:45-46 ....'But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.' ...... The Jews are no longer God's chosen people as prophesied by Daniel and the gospel message goes DIRECTLY to the Gentiles.
There was also another tragic prophecy contained in Daniels words ..... Daniel 9:26 ....'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.' ..... In AD70, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Army. See the following quote:
"In A.D.66 when Cestius came against the city, but unaccountably withdrew, the Christians discerned in this the sign foretold by Christ, and fled while 1,100,000 Jews are said to have been killed in the terrible siege in A.D. 70". -Eusebius, Church History, book 3, chap. 5
Remember that the 70 week prophecy or 70 x 7 time period was the time God gave His chosen nation, the Israelites, to end their sin and rebellion. So in effect, He would forgive them for 70 times 7. Now take a look at what Jesus said to Peter ....... Matthew 18:21-22 ....'Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.'
So the 70 weeks (490 years) of Daniel have been fulfilled, and the nation of Israel as told in this prophecy had until 70 times 7 (490 years) to end their sin. This did not happen as we know, and now the Jewish nation is no longer the special chosen nation of God, as Paul states:
Romans 2:28-29 .....'For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.'
Galatians 3:28-29 ....'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.' ..... A TRUE Jew today, is ANYONE who follows Jesus and worships Him in spirit and in truth.
This 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel is an amazing prophecy, that reveals Christ Jesus as the Messiah, and shows that there is no longer one chosen nation for God, but ALL who come to Him, whether Jew or Gentile are chosen and special to Him..... 1 Peter 2:9 ....'But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.'
Take time to study this prophecy a few times and allow it to sink in and let God open your eyes to the glorious truth of His Word.