In previous blog posts we have looked at the seventy weeks (of years) of Daniel (mainly from Daniel 9:24). Here in this post and in the next two posts we will be studying verses 25 through 27. In these verses we have laid out so clearly before us a timeline of the entire seventy week period (490 years)—and it also includes a large gap of time that is not part of the seventy weeks. Verse 25 tells us when the seventy week period begins and when week sixty-nine ends. Verse 26, as we will explain, gives us key events that come as a gap of time between the end of the sixty-ninth week and the beginning of the seventieth week. Last, verse 27 describes key events in the seventieth week—which is the great Tribulation period.
Our study for this post will be from Daniel 9:25.
So 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.
As we approach this study we are to understand that this passage has important details that require close inspection. For this reason, Gabriel tells Daniel, “you are to know and discern.” Going on, this verse tells us that the sixty nine weeks spans “from the issuing of a decree” to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince. We will discuss the beginning point first—at the issuing of the decree. It would seem that this would be clear; however, it is not, since there are three decrees to choose from: The decree of Cyrus in 537 B. C. (Ezra 1:2-4), the decree of Artaxerxes in 458 B. C. (Ezra 7:11-26), and the decree of Artaxerxes in 444B. C. (Nehemiah 2:5-8, 17, 18).
If we take a literal approach to the passage, as we should, we must choose the third in our list, in 444 B. C., because it is the decree that has to do with the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem; the other two have to do with the rebuilding of the temple. But of course there are some non-literalists who insist on choosing one of the other two decrees, simply because it fits better with their theology and their timeline. (I am speaking mainly of Preterists such as Gary DeMar and Kenneth Gentry, who believe that most of prophecy ended in A. D. 70—that even the book of Revelation is mostly history.) We must not let these people confuse us with their theology. We should instead let the Bible guide us, endeavoring always to interpret it carefully to see what it really says.
It is so clear that the decree in 444 B. C. by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah (recorded for us in Nehemiah 2:5-6, 17, 18) is the correct one; for it is the one dealing with the building of the city of Jerusalem, starting with its walls. Moreover, we have the evidence right here in this verse, which says that the street and the wall shall be built again “even in times of distress.” And this is in fact the situation surrounding this third decree. The builders of the wall were constantly being harassed and mocked by enemies all around them; and because they were so much in danger, even those who worked had to carry weapons to protect themselves (Neh. 4:16-18).
The sixty-nine week period ends at “Messiah the Prince.” This is of course the Jewish Messiah, Jesus the Christ. The only question is does the sixty-nine week period end at His birth, or death, or at some other time during His life? Well, if you calculate the years (483 years) from the decree given to Nehemiah on March 5, 444 B. C., you will come to March 30, A. D. 33, which not surprisingly is the very day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This makes sense because this is the day He presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah and King.
Now I have to admit that I didn’t make these calculations myself. But there are two very proficient scholars who have made them: Sir Robert Anderson and Harold Hoehner. I trust their work. They made adjustments that the normal person wouldn’t think to make. Hoehner also gave a reason why the beginning date should be 444 B. C. and not 445 B. C., as most people agree on. I will not go into their calculations in this book; however, you can find them on Thomas Ice’s web site.
The last thing I will make note of from this verse is that the sixty-nine week period is divided into seven weeks and sixty two weeks (49 years and 434 years). The first seven weeks no doubt marks the time it took to restore and rebuild the walls and the city of Jerusalem. It also marks the close of the Old Testament.
The next sixty-two weeks (434 years) follows consecutively after the seven weeks (49 years) and ends with “Messiah the Prince”—Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is particularly interesting to me that out of the 483 years that God is directly dealing with Israel, this 434 year period is by far the greatest segment of time, yet during this time we have no prophetic word from God. In fact, the first 400 years of time, up to Christ’s birth, has been called the silent years.
We do know, however, that all during this time God was not sleeping. He was directing world events in order to prepare Israel for what He had planned for them. Therefore, as prophesied in the book of Daniel, three world kingdoms arose, following after the world kingdom of Babylon—Medo-Persia (539-332 B. C.), Greece (332-63 B. C.), and Rome (63 B. C. to A. D. 476)—and God sovereignly used these empires, and even the cruelty of their leaders, to effect Israel’s eventual salvation and to train them for the work that He would have them do.
Accordingly, during this time, though greatly oppressed and persecuted, many who were gifted saw the need to devote themselves to the study of the Old Testament, and therefore Scribes and Rabbis arose who were considered to be authorities on the interpretation of the scriptures. Also, during this time many synagogues were erected wherever the Jews were living in exile, and they became not only places of refuge but of worship and education.
Now we know that much of Jewish religious education did nothing but build up their pride and self-righteousness; however, a few were truly righteous. One was the apostle Paul (after his conversion); from Paul, who was a very educated Pharisee, came much of our New Testament.
Copyright © 2014 by Stephen Nielsen