The Expository Files

The Messiah and Jerusalem: The Amazing Prophecy of Daniel

Daniel 9:24-27

Jesus had died. He had been “cut off from he land of the living.” On the third day, He was raised back up to life. On the following forty days, He met with His apostles to help them in understanding how the events that they had witnessed had been prophesied and how that His rejection, death, burial and resurrection were a fulfillment of these ancient prophecies. There were over 300 prophecies written from 400 to 1,000 years previous to His coming. All of them were fulfilled.

One of the most remarkable (to me, at least) of these prophecies is one made by Daniel. "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. o you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing 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." (Daniel 9:24-27).

The Historical Context
The nation of Judah had fallen away from God. Jeremiah had foretold that God would withhold His blessings and protection, and that Judah would be conquered and taken into captivity which would last for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10). This was later fulfilled when Babylon conquered Judah and took them into captivity, the first deportation according to history took place in 605 B.C. and the return in 535 B.C. Daniel himself was one of the young men taken into captivity and lived to see the the return commence under Darius (Daniel 9:2).

70 years fulfilled a Divine pattern. The Law of Moses had commanded that every 7th year be a “sabbatical year.” This Law of God had been neglected for most of Israel's history, so the Lord decreed that they would spend one year in captivity for every sabbatical year they had failed to keep as a nation. They had missed 70 sabbatical years during their 490 years as a nation.

But also, this 490 year figure not only looked back into time, it also looked forward. The Messiah would come and “make atonement for iniquity” in 70 units of seven, referred to in the context as “weeks” but the word means a unit of seven. In this case, it would not be 7 days but 7 years (Daniel 9:24; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:20,21; Leviticus 25:3,4).

The time of Daniel's prophecy can be precisely pin pointed due to the mention of Darius beginning his reign (Daniel 9:1,2). This would make it 538 B.C. The angel Gabriel assures Daniel that not only will he see the return from captivity, but also gives much more far reaching information concerning the coming of the Messiah another five centuries in the future.

The Messiah and His Mission
The prophecy states forth the primary mission of the Messiah, and gives several particulars in addition to a very precise timing of the event:

1) He would come and deal with the problem of sin. (9:24). Note three different phrases used in the prophecy; “to finish the transgression”; “to make an end of sin”; “to make atonement for iniquity.” Jesus introduced a system by His own blood through which one can be washed from his sins and held accountable for them no longer as well as continue to be forgiven as one walks by faith and seeks forgiveness by repentance.

2) He would bring in everlasting righteousness. (9:24). Jesus enacted heaven's plan to make sinners righteous by grace through faith (Romans 1:16,17; 3:21-26).

3) He would seal up the vision (9:24). This means to bring to completion; to close or finish. With the coming of Jesus and His new covenant, Divine revelation was completed. With the generation who were alive during Jesus' life, we see the last living prophets and prophetesses. With those men and women and the messages given through them, prophecy would cease. (Hebrews 1:1,2; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

4) He would anoint the Holy Place. (9:24). Jesus is the Messiah (Hebrew), or Christ (Greek). Both of these words mean “anointed one.” When Jesus ascended into heaven, He entered the true, spiritual Holy Place where He lives and intercedes for us (Hebrews 9:11,12).

5) He will make a firm covenant with many. (9:27). His covenant is the New Testament, ratified by His death (Hebrews 8:6).

6) He will bring OT sacrifices to an end. (9:27). He did this by offering Himself as our only perfect sin offering, thus fulfilling the Law and taking that system out of the way. (Hebrews 7:18,19; 24,25).

The Prophetic Chronology
Daniel's prophecy itself indicates when it will be fulfilled. It tells us of the beginning point, the duration period, and the fulfilling event.

The beginning point (9:25). The edict to rebuild Jerusalem is where we begin the 490 year count down to the Messiah. There were actually three such edicts issued, so we'll have to figure out which one.

The duration period (9:24). 70 weeks. Again, the term “week” means “unit of seven” and could refer to seven days, weeks, months or years. Since the looking back covered 490 years, then it is reasonable to do the same looking forward.

The fulfilling event (9:26). This would be the 'cutting off of the Messiah.” This refers to His death. This will happen in the middle of the final “unit of seven” or 486 1/2 years in the future.

In 457 B.C. Ezra led a group back to rebuild Jerusalem by the King's edict (Ezra 7:6,7; 9:9). To this beginning point. Add the above 486 1/2 years and we come to 30 A.D. which is the date of the crucifixion! Following this, as punishment for putting the Messiah to death, Jerusalem would be destroyed. This, too, was accomplished by the Roman armies led by ''the prince who is to come” (this would be Titus who would take his father's place as emperor) exactly as Daniel had said (cf. Matthew 24:15; 34). After a siege, Jerusalem was burned and the sanctuary was completely destroyed. But Jesus had already ascended back to heaven to serve in the new sanctuary. Our hope is in Him!

Based on article by Wayne Jackson;
Reason & Revelation; 1997

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 11.12; December 2004