The Great Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
We last considered the reasons for the Babylonian captivity and the times involved; now we will focus on Chapter 9 and the prophecy of the seventy weeks.
The scene in Babylon had changed completely, the Babylonian Empire had suffered the judgment predicted by God’s prophets and now the city was part of the Medo-Persian Empire under the leadership of Darius.
Daniel, at around 83 years of age, had earned the respect of Darius and was again in a high leadership position in Babylon. Despite Daniel’s incredible favor from God as a man and a prophet not all revelation was given to him.
Daniel Makes a Discovery in the Book of Jeremiah
We learn in Daniel 9:2, “in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.”
To me it is interesting to think that as I read Jeremiah 25:11 I am reading the same message that Daniel read so many years ago. It is also interesting to consider that not all revelation was given to this great prophet of God and that even he had to read the words of the prophet Jeremiah to discover a vital truth, the time frame of the captivity.
Then what did Daniel do? He prayed a wonderful intercessory pray to God for the people of Israel. What did God do by way of response? He sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel with one of the most amazing revelations given in the Old Testament, the prophecy of the seventy weeks. I believe I can safely say that is an extraordinary answer to prayer.
As you will recall I mentioned earlier that God had previously given two periods of 490 years to Israel. It was Israel’s failure in the second 490 years to observe the seventh year Sabbath that precipitated the 70 years Babylonian captivity.
A Third Period of 490 Years
Now God was telling Israel through the prophet Daniel that He would give Israel yet another, final set of 490 years to accomplish specific goals which are enumerated in verse 24, “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.”
In verses 25-27 the timeframe is given, “”Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
This timeframe has an unusual feature; it is divided into two parts; a period of 483 years, (7×7=49 weeks, and 7×62=434 weeks totaling 483 weeks) and a final period of 7 years. The event that stops the countdown at 483 weeks is the cutting off of “the Anointed One.”
Another key point is the starting point of the 490 year clock and that is given in verse 25 where we are told, “ the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” will be the trigger that starts that clock ticking. So now we have the starting and stopping points of the 483 years, the decree to rebuild and the cutting off of the Anointed One.
How does that fit into history and what does it have to do with the Lord Jesus Christ? We will discuss those amazing points in the next blog.