Daniel’s Messianic Prophecy

Daniel 9:24-27 contains a prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel about when the Messiah would come. It counts off a specific number of years from the start of the restoration of Jerusalem after the exile. This implies the messiah comes sometime in the 1st century AD. For someone that believes in the Tanak but doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah, they must look at 1st-century Jerusalem and find another figure that matches the description of this prophecy.

Daniel 9:24 (NLT) “A period of seventy sets of seven [weeks] has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25 Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. 26 “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. 27 The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.”

In Dan 9:24-25 the word week is in reference to the yearly sabbath every 7 years (the shmita). So when it says there will be 70 sabbaths it means 490 years or 70×7. It mentions that the 490 will be divided into 3 parts: 7 sabbaths (49 years), 62 sabbaths (434 years), and one final sabbath (7 years), which is the “Tribulation” from the book of Revelation.

In verse 25 it says this time will start from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and this happened at the time of Artaxerxes I at around 444/445 B.C. according to Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:1-8). Jerusalem takes 7 sabbaths or 49 years to be rebuilt, then the 62 sabbaths (434 years) begin. And the 62 sabbaths end when Jesus comes, which was 483 years after Artaxerxes gives them permission to rebuild. 483 years after that is 39 AD when using the modern calendar system, but using ancient calendars is 31-32 AD. Many ancient calendars including ancient the Roman calendar used 360 days, and since John wrote the book of Revelations in the 1st century under Roman occupation, this would be his calendar system. So instead of counting using 365-day years which would add up to 39 AD. We count 483 sets of 360 days which is 173,880 days. When we convert that to a modern 365-day year calendar we get about 476 years, which from 444/445 BC would be 31/32 AD.

In Dan 9:26 it says the messiah is executed at the end of the 62 Sabbaths, which is 483 years after the Artaxerxes I rededication, around 31/32 AD. Then the clock stops, and it says there will be desolation in Israel until the end. That period starts with the crucifixion (of Jesus) and then the destruction of the Temple (destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD) and then many years of war and desolation (Byzantines, Ottomans, Crusades, WW2, reestablishment of Israel as a nation, and conflict with the Palestinians, etc). This desolation is for an unknown period of time within the prophecy itself.

After the age of the Gentiles, as Jesus calls it in Luke 21:24, the clock starts for the final 7 years (the tribulation) when the anti-Christ is revealed according to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4-5, and 2 Thess 2, and Jesus returns for his people. Dan 9:27 describes 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 which happens in the middle of the 7-year tribulation. The antichrist who made a treaty with Israel at the beginning of the tribulation reneges the treaty and desecrates the temple, calling himself a god. This is a repeat of what happened in the story of the Maccabean Revolt back around 167 BC with Antiochus IV, who called himself Epiphanes (God manifest) and put idols of greek gods in the Jerusalem Temple. Repeating events through history is nothing new. It’s just like 1 Peter 3:20 which says the last days will be like the days of Noah, suggesting the earth will see a level of sin equivalent to what happened before the flood. The events of Revelation can’t be locked to just the 1st century, since the sinless world of the new kingdom doesn’t exist yet, the world is still filled with sin and violence, so there must be an expectation of the fulfillment of the Messiah’s promise.

Interesting side note: It seems the Israelites sinned against God for 490 years (which is 70 sabbaths) from sometime after Solomon’s reign to the Exile. The Exile was 70 years and it seems that a specific amount of time was their punishment for violating the yearly sabbath according to Lev 26:30-35 and 2 Chron. 36:21. In other words, they owed God 70 years.

More on this subject:
Messianic Time Table According to Daniel
DTBM Sermon on Daniel 9
BSSSB – Daniel’s Prophecy
Wiki – Ancient 360-day Calendar Year