The Daniel Prophecy:
Seventy Weeks to a Cleaner You

The Daniel prophecy is one of the few messianic prophecies in which a specific timeframe is attached to the crucifixion of Christ.  After being raised from the dead, we find Jesus meeting with His disciples where He explains that all the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him have been fulfilled.  

Luke 24.44,45:  “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

All the prophecies concerning Jesus that we read about in the Old Testament have all been fulfilled.  One such prophecy we find in the book of Daniel known as the Daniel prophecy or the seventy-weeks prophecy.

Let’s give some thought to this prophecy and look carefully at the context in which this prophecy is found.  We will then give some thought to the meaning behind the prophecy and how it has been fulfilled.

The Historical Context of the Daniel Prophecy

Where are we in history as we read the Daniel prophecy?  Let’s answer that question by turning to a passage in the book of Jeremiah. 

Jeremiah 29.10:  “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”

The nation of Judah was commanded by God to observe not just the Sabbath day, but also the Sabbath year.  Every seventh year the nation of Judah was not to plant any seeds or harvest any crops.  This would be the year that the land would rest and have a chance to recover the nutrients from the soil that would be lost from years of farming. 

Judah had failed to observe this commandment for the last 490 years.  God punished Judah by raising up the Babylonian nation to destroy the city of Jerusalem and bring the nation of Judah back to Babylon as slaves.

The duration of this slavery would be equal to the number of years the land was neglected.  In 490 years, the nation of Judah failed to observe the Sabbath year 70 times.  Thus their captivity would last 70 years.  The events recorded in the book of Daniel took place during these 70 years of captivity. 

During this captivity, the Babylonian kingdom fell to the alliance of the Medes and Persians.  The new Medo-Persian Empire was ruled by King Darius.  

When you come to the Daniel prophecy in chapter 9, you read about Daniel as he reflects upon this 70 years spoken of by Jeremiah.

Daniel 9.1,2:  “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans —  in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

Darius was made king over the Chaldeans.  The Babylonians were also known as the Chaldeans.  It was during this time that Daniel reflected upon the prophecy of Jeremiah and read that their captivity was to last for seventy years.  In this reflection, Daniel calculated that the captivity was almost finished. 

In fact, it would be King Darius who would give the order to free the Jews and allow them to go back to Jerusalem.  Having realized that the captivity was almost over, Daniel fell down on his knees and offered a prayer to God. 

Daniel 9.3:  "Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”

In Daniel 9.4-19 we read the contents of this prayer as Daniel acknowledges the sin of the nation.

  • “sinned and committed iniquity”  (v. 5)
  • “neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets”  (v. 6)
  • “have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws”  (v. 10)
  • “departed so as not to obey Your voice”  (v. 11)
  • “have done wickedly”  (v. 15)

As Daniel was praying with heartfelt sorrow and seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God, the angel Gabriel came to Daniel and revealed to him a prophetic vision that we call the Daniel prophecy.

Here is a man who is a captured slave in Babylon.  He is mourning over the sin of Israel and pleading to God for forgiveness.  He is hoping for the opportunity to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and the temple. 

God responds by sending the angel Gabriel who tells Daniel that restoration would come.   However, the real hope would not be in the rebuilding of the temple but in the salvation that would come through the Messiah.

Seventy Weeks in the Daniel Prophecy

Let’s give some thought to the Daniel prophecy itself.  Reading this prophetic vision, the angel Gabriel sets before Daniel a chronology of events.  These events take place over the course of seventy weeks.

Each day represents a year.  That means that seventy weeks is 490 days which translates into 490 years.  Seventy weeks works out to be 490 years. 

  • The Jews were slaves in Babylon because of 490 years of past neglect.  
  • This prophetic vision now looks forward to 490 years in the future.  

Let's see what God had told His angel Gabriel to reveal to Daniel.  What or Who was coming in 490 years?  

Daniel 9.24:   “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.”

The angel Gabriel tells Daniel that within the time frame of approximately 490 years something wonderful was going to happen.  A system would be put into place where you and I could be cleansed of our sins.  It would be seventy weeks to a cleaner you.  This is described in six specific ways.

1.  To Finish Transgressions.

The concept of transgression means to literally fight against God.  Without Jesus, you and I are the enemies of God.  Because of our past decisions we have shaken our fist at God in defiance of His laws.  Because of Jesus and His sacrifice, the enmity that exists between God and man is put to an end  (Rom. 5.10).  This is what the Daniel prophecy said was coming.  

2.  To Make an End of Sins.

The apostle John defines sin as breaking God’s commands  (1 John 3.4).  God gave man and law to follow.  We took that law and broke His commandments.  The consequences of our sin is spiritual death.  Because of Jesus and the blood that He shed, we can be cleansed of our sin. This is not a prediction of a sin no longer existing, but a prediction that a system would be put in place that would enable our sins to be removed.  The Daniel prophecy said this was coming.

3.  To Make Reconciliation for Iniquity.

Iniquity carries the idea of being filthy before God.  You and I have made bad choices and as a result have become filthy before God.  We have been corrupted by our own stubbornness and neglect of God’s laws.  This filth has caused our relationship with God to be severed.  Because of Jesus and His mercy and grace, the filth can be cleansed and our relationship with God can be reconciled.  The Daniel prophecy said this was coming.

4.  To Bring In Everlasting Righteousness.      

Righteousness is a state in which you and I are right.  There would come a time when a system would be put into place that would make us right with God, and enable us to remain in a state of being right with God.  That system is Christianity put into effect by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Daniel prophecy revealed by Gabriel told him when mankind can expect the coming of Christ and the spreading of the gospel  (Rom. 1.16,17).

5.  To Seal Up Vision and Prophecy.

Literally, the idea is that those visions and prophecies concerning Christ would all come to pass.  Contained in the Law of Moses, the psalms, and the prophets, are more than 300 prophecies all concerning Jesus Christ.  After Jesus is resurrected, He meets with His disciples and explains to them how all the prophecies concerning Him in the Law, the psalms, and prophets have been fulfilled  (Luke 24.44,45).  The Daniel prophecy tells of a time when all these Old Testament visions and prophecies concerning Christ would be fulfilled, and thus come to an end.

6.  To Anoint the Holy One.

The word “Messiah” literally means, “the Anointed One.”  There would come a time when Jesus would be born, and as the Messiah, the Anointed One, would free humankind from their sin.  Again, the Daniel prophecy points to Jesus. 

The angel Gabriel then gives Daniel some time markers to know when these incredible events would take place.  He starts by giving them a beginning point for which to determine when Jesus would accomplish all that was mentioned in verse 24. 

Daniel 9.25:  “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.”

Now we have a beginning.  The clock would start when the command would be given to the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  When you turn to Ezra 1.1-4, you will read of this command given by King Cyrus of the Medo-Persian Empire. 

But wait a minute.  We have these seventy weeks broken down into three distinct periods.  The first two periods are mentioned in the above verse.  Look at the verse again…

Daniel 9.25:  “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.”

The first period would be 49 years  (7 weeks is 49 days and each day represents a year).  It would be during this time that the Jews would go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the city.  Notice that verse 25 says that “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.”  This was in answer to Daniel’s prayer back in Daniel 9.16.

When you turn to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, you will read about the process of their rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and the many attempts of their enemies to hinder their efforts.

The second period would be 434 years  (62 weeks is 434 years).  If you add 434 years to the 49 years, you come to the baptism of Christ in which He begins His ministry  (Luke 3.21-23).  Keep in mind that His ministry was three and a half years.  That will come into play in a moment.

If you take the first seven weeks and add the next 62 weeks that gives me a total of 69 weeks.  That leaves one more week remaining or more specifically seven more years.  But what would happen in that remaining week?  Gabriel explains...

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. 

If you just read these verses, you probably read right over it.  There is an important observation that needs to be made.  Notice how the beginning of verse 26 is worded.  “And after the sixty two weeks.”  Gabriel did not refer to the last week.  He phrased in more generally.  The idea is that sometime after the 62 weeks, or sometime after 483 years, something was going to happen.  What was going to happen?  In this Daniel prophecy, Gabriel mentions two specific events. 

  • The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.
  • The city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary (temple) would be destroyed.

When would these things take place?  It would happen sometime after the 483 years.  Do we have anything more specific?  Yes!

Remember that the seventy weeks or 490 years was divided into three segments. 

  • The first seven weeks (49 years)
  • The next sixty-two weeks (434 years)
  • The last week (7 years)

It is this last week or last seven years that Gabriel mentions in the last verse of this prophecy. 

Daniel 9.27:  “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one weekBut in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.  And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”

In the middle of the last week or in three and a half years the Messiah would be cut off.  In other words, He would be crucified.  In the middle of the last week or in three and a half years, the system of sacrifices under the Law of Moses would be put to an end.  How interesting that Paul wrote that the end of sacrifices took place officially at the death of Christ  (Col. 2.13).

What about the destruction of Jerusalem?  Remember the non-specific language in the Daniel prophecy?  Sometime after the 62 weeks, Jesus would be crucified, and the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed.  He then gets specific about the crucifixion of Christ.  He mentions the middle of the last week which works out to be three and a half years after He begins His ministry. 

However, he does not get specific about the destruction of Jerusalem.  He does give us a clue.  At the end of the verse he mentions the abomination of desolation.  This is the same prediction that Jesus made in Matthew 24.  History records that when the Romans invaded Jerusalem, they went into the sanctuary, emptied it of the Holy items, and replaced it with their idols.  Thus you have what is referred to as the abomination of desolation.  This took place in 70 A.D. – after the 62 weeks of Gabriel’s prophecy. 

The Bible is precise when it comes to dates and times.  The vision that Daniel received from Gabriel was fulfilled in perfect detail as Jesus began His ministry exactly when it was prophesied, and He was put to death three and a half years later.  The prophecy is fulfilled.

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