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Did the Bible really predict the coming of the Messiah before it happened? To answer that question William Struse takes you on a Biblical adventure in search of the promised Messiah. Of all the prophetic texts in the Bible, and by some counts there are over 2000, there is only one prophecy which gives a specific datable timeline for the coming of the Messiah. That prophecy found in the 9th chapter of the book of Daniel is commonly called Daniel’s 70 Weeks.
Did you know?
1. The prophecy of 70 Weeks gives the date for the birth the Messiah.
2. The prophecy also tells of the Messiah’s death and his resurrection.
3. The prophecy warns of the destruction of Jerusalem and its desolation.
4. The prophecy confirms the “covenant and mercy” promised to Abraham and his descendants, the Jewish people.
In a world where some question the Jewish people’s ancestral rights to the land of Israel, the prophecy of 70 Weeks proves mathematically that Continue reading
“Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah . . . This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which YHWH God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of YHWH his God upon him . . . And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.”
So far we’ve looked at two of the four decrees that scholars have postulated might be the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25. Now we turn our attention to the last two. This, unfortunately, is where modern scholarship takes a detour from a reasonable reading of the biblical chronological record. I’ll do my best to explain, but first, let’s take a look at the verses used as the basis for this next decree to be considered the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25. I’ve abridged parts of this passage for clarity’s sake. It’s well worth your time to read the passage in its entirety, for it is the basis for one of the biggest and most influential chronological errors scholars have made about the biblical record. Continue reading
“And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.”
It could be argued that Persia’s power and influence reached its zenith during the reign of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes. Darius played a central role in the Jewish people’s reestablishment of Jerusalem and the temple service. By his sixth year of rule the Second Temple, the very heart of Jerusalem, was completed, nearly sixteen years after permission to build it had first been given by Cyrus.
Darius was the third Persian ruler after Cyrus the Great. Cyrus died in 530 BC, and his son Cambyses II ruled for eight years. For a short period after Cambyses’s death, Bardis the Magian usurper (aka Smerdis) ruled. This imposter, by some accounts, was a double for Cambyses II’s murdered brother. When Cambyses died, Bardis, who was already impersonating the brother of Cambyses II, took the game to a whole new level and assumed the throne as Artaxerxes of Persia. After ruling for less than a year, he was deposed by Darius ‘the Great’, son of Hystaspes, also known historically as Artaxerxes (Ezra 6:14. See also Ussher, Annals of the World, page 126, section 1015.)
Trouble in the Promised Land
To understand the decree given by Darius ‘the Great’, we need to back up a bit and give a little history of the Jewish people’s efforts to Continue reading
“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”
We begin our search for the “commandment” of Daniel 9:25 with Cyrus the Great of Persia, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. It is believed by some scholars that it was Cyrus’s viceroy or general, Darius the Median, who is mentioned in Daniel 5:31. If you recall, this Darius conquered Babylon on that infamous night when Belshazzar, king of Babylon, asked Daniel to Continue reading
“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.”
In Part I we found an ancient man named Daniel in a passionate prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem and YHWH’s desolate sanctuary. Acknowledging his and his people’s unrighteousness, Daniel admits the righteousness of YHWH’s anger. Nevertheless, he pleads with YHWH to forgive them and remember the covenant He made with Moses and Abraham. In answer to Daniel’s prayer, YHWH sends the angel Gabriel to reveal the future of Daniel’s people and the city of Jerusalem as it relates to their sins and transgressions, a future that is summarized in the six goals of Daniel 9:24. So begins the great countdown to the Messiah, the Prince.
The Word to Restore and Build
I don’t know about you, but if I’ve read Daniel 9:25 once, I’ve read it a hundred times. But I never gave much thought to the word “commandment”: “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks.” As it turns out, I should have!
The English word “commandment,” as it comes to us in Daniel 9:25, is a translation of the Hebrew word dabar. It means speech, word, speaking, utterance, etc. Of the 1439 times the word dabar is used in the KJV of the Bible, it is only translated as “commandment” twenty times. Today most scholars Continue reading
Part I of this book explored the 70 weeks prophecy within the panoramic context of YHWH’s plan to reconcile all mankind to Himself through Yeshua, the Messiah promised in the Scripture. That context included a look at the covenant of Daniel 9:4, which we traced back to Moses, Abraham, and ultimately the garden of Eden and mankind’s original sin.
Now, with this foundational perspective firmly fixed in our minds, we will take a closer look at the blueprints for this great prophecy and see if we can get a clearer picture of what YHWH intended when He sent the angel Gabriel with this incredible prophetic message of a coming Messiah.
As a high-school-educated plumber, I don’t have the ability or the desire to dazzle you with fancy arguments. What I can offer is what I hope is a reasonable and common-sense look at the passage and the evidence for how we should interpret it that seeks to see the prophecy through its Second Temple era context. This context matters deeply, because this period in biblical history is where the countdown to the Messiah originates. It is the events described in the books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah that provide us with an accurate date in history upon which to calculate the 70 weeks prophecy—and see where (and to whom) Continue reading
“Seventy weeks [shabuwa] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” Daniel 9:24a
I have no idea what an angelic visitation would be like, but I can imagine it would be a truly amazing experience. We learn in Daniel 9:23 that at the very beginning of Daniel’s supplications to YHWH, the angel Gabriel was dispatched with the prophecy of 70 weeks (shabuwa) in part because Daniel was “greatly beloved” of YHWH. Can you imagine what it would be like to hear that? Wow!
In any case, Gabriel begins his explanation of this wonderful prophecy by summarizing a series of events that will transpire during this 70 week period.
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. (Daniel 9:24)
Before we look at the prophesied events during this 70 week period, it is important to briefly explain the word “weeks” in a little more detail. As used in the text of Daniel 9 quoted above, the word “weeks” is actually Continue reading
“O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. Daniel 9:16–19
After Daniel reminds YHWH of His covenant and mercy in Daniel 9:4, he proceeds to list Judah’s and Israel’s sins and iniquities from the time of the exodus to his present day. Daniel humbly acknowledges that YHWH’s wrath and judgments are righteous and deserved and that YHWH must keep His word.
For context’s sake, I once again remind you to keep in mind Daniel’s personal circumstances. He had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar nearly 70 Continue reading
“And I prayed unto YHWH 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.” (Daniel 9:4)
Those with an interest in Bible prophecy are likely familiar with the infamous “covenant” mentioned in Daniel 9:27. By far the majority of scholars today believe the covenant found in Daniel 9:27 is to be made or confirmed with Israel by some yet-future evil world leader, and it is this covenant that will set in motion the final seven years of this age—aka “the Great Tribulation”— before the Messiah Yeshua returns to reign on this earth.
But how many of you are familiar with the covenant of Daniel 9:4? Arguably, it is this first covenant mentioned Continue reading
“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.” Daniel 9:24
The book of Genesis tells us of what is arguably the single greatest tragedy in mankind’s history. It records mankind’s first sin and how, as a result, our ancestors were cursed with death and cast out of Eden. But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Mankind is not left without hope of a future restoration and reconciliation with our Creator. Before Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, our Creator, YHWH, promised them that someday their “seed” would triumph over Continue reading
As promised in my last blog article, over the next several weeks, we are going to look at the influence Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks prophecy has had on the teachings of some of today’s respected prophecy teachers. I want to make it clear up front that these articles, though critical, are not meant to be disrespectful. None of us have all the answers and when discussing Bible prophecy a great deal of humility is required.
I decided to start this series by looking at Chuck Missler’s interpretation of Daniel 9. The reason, I start with Mr. Missler’s interpretation of the 70 Weeks, is because this is the predominately held view today and it will be most familiar to a majority of my readers. Mr. Missler is a respected prophecy teacher and I have enjoyed and learned from reading his material over the years. Continue reading