I hope you are filling your treasure chest! We found golden nuggets yesterday and we’ll add a few more today. Let’s jump back into our study of the 70 weeks of Daniel. Refresh your memory by reading Daniel 9:24-27. You will recall that this is God’s plan for the Jews, revealed to Daniel.
Here’s a nugget to begin today’s study: for 490 years prior to the Jewish captivity in Babylon, the Jews had violated Sabbath years. By God’s command, the land was to lay fallow every seventh year in order to be restored, but the Jews had disregarded those Sabbath years. Interesting, don’t you think, that captivity of the Jews in Babylon lasted 70 years! Indeed, the Lord God recouped those 70 lost Sabbath years, and then revealed a future 490 years!
So, let’s dig into those 490 years (70 weeks of years). When were those years to start? Daniel 9:25 tells us that the clock began ticking at the issue of a command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and that 69 weeks of years (1 week of years = 7 years) would pass before the cutting off of the Messiah. So, let’s explore four Biblical decrees and determine which decree Daniel is referring to in this verse.
- Decree #1: Read Ezra 1:1-4. Here, Cyrus, king of Persia, issued a decree to allow the rebuilding of the house of the Lord (the Temple) in Jerusalem. However, Daniel 9:25 says the decree would be to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (the city). In addition, this decree was issued in 536 BC. Remember, 69 weeks of years (483 years) are decreed before the cutting off of the Messiah. But 483 years beyond 536 BC is only 54 BC…at least half a century before Jesus’ birth, and roughly 80 years before the cutting off of the Messiah. Thus, this cannot be the decree Daniel refers to in Daniel 9:25.
- Decree #2: Read Ezra 6:6-12. Verse 1 tells us that King Darius issued this decree, and right away (verse 7), we find that this decree also refers to re-building the house of the Lord. Thus, again, we can disqualify this decree for that simple reason. In addition, this decree was given in 458 BC. 483 years later would put us at 25 AD. Close to “the cutting off of the Messiah,” but close doesn’t count in prophecy!
- Decree #3: Read Ezra 7:11-26. Okay, we’re getting close here…but is this decree that of Daniel 9:25? King Artaxerxes made this decree, but again, it is in regard to rebuilding “the house of their God,” rather than the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, we can rule out each of three decrees found in the book of Ezra.
- Decree #4: Read Nehemiah 2:1-8. Though there is not absolute agreement among all theologians, this decree seems to be the only one that fits the parameters. So, let’s take a closer look, and you determine for yourself!
Artaxerxes began his reign in 465 BC and verse 1 indicates that the decree was given in the month Nisan, in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes’ reign (445 BC). In 445 BC, the first of Nisan would have been March 14. The 490 year clock began ticking that day.
Remember that the Hebrew calendar year consisted of 360 days, and that 69 weeks of years (483 years) would pass before the cutting off of the Messiah. So let’s do the math.
483 years x 360 days = 173,880 days
Thus, in order for the prophecy to be accurate, the Messiah must be “cut off” 173,880 days after March 14, 445 BC…or April 6, 32 AD.
That is exactly the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. We call that “Palm Sunday,” a day that began in triumphant “Hosanna’s” for our Lord, but quickly turned into a plot to crucify Him. Indeed, He was “cut off,” just as Daniel prophesied!
As we know, the Jews are God’s chosen people, yet, according to Luke 19:41-42, this was their day…and they missed it. What a sad day for our Savior!
Dear friends, we have seen today that the first 69 weeks of years prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27 were fulfilled exactly to the day! If that is the case, will God cease to fulfill the 70th week exactly as prophesied? Rest assured…He will be just as faithful to fulfill the 70th week! But right now, God has pressed the “pause” button!
We’ll look at that prophetic pause between the 69th and 70th week tomorrow. See you then!