By Rev. Bill Lee-Warner
The year was approximately 539 BC. The 70 year exile to Babylon was about complete as Daniel had discerned from reading Jeremiah’s prophecy (cf. Dan. 9:2). He was in prayer about the future of his people because it was their sin and transgression towards God that had sent them into exile. While in prayer, Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel who had been sent by God to give him “insight and understanding” (Dan. 9:22) regarding a “70 week” program for his people and his holy city (Dan. 9:24-25). Upon completion of the 70th week, Israel’s “transgression” would be finished, her “sin” ended and her “iniquity” would be atoned for.
Four questions to be asked regarding Daniel’s 70 Weeks are: (1) When did the 70 week program begin? (2) How long is “70 Weeks”? (3) Where is Israel now in that program? and, (4) What does Israel’s return to her ancient homeland mean for the church? Let’s look at these four questions because they have direct implication for believers today.
1. When did the 70 week program begin?
Gabriel clearly told Daniel that the 70 week program would begin when a decree was issued to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem…” (Dan. 9:25). It is important to note that the decree was to restore and rebuild “Jerusalem”. When that event took place, the countdown had begun.
Sir Robert Anderson, in his monumental work, The Coming Prince, has detailed for us when that decree was given and by whom. Here is a summary of his investigative research:
“The edict spoken of was issued by Artaxerxes Longimanus (a Persian King) in the 20th year of his reign. (Neh. 2:1,5) The date can be computed via the Jewish calendar which has been closely regulated since the first paschal observance in Egypt, as well as the computation of the Astronomer Royal of England, who calculated the issuing of the decree of Artaxerxes to be on the 14th of March, 445 BC. According to the Jewish calendar, that decree was on the 1st of Nisan.”
2. How long is “70 Weeks”?
In the original Hebrew, “70 weeks” translates from the expression, “seventy sevens”. The reference could mean days, weeks, months, years, virtually anything. Daniel was told, “after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, …” Seven plus sixty-two is sixty-nine. Gabriel said the Messiah would be cut off after the 69th week. By calculating when the decree was given and counting to when Christ presented Himself to the nation as her Messiah on Palm Sunday, the following summary from Sir Robert Anderson’s book gives us a clear understanding that a “week” equals seven prophetic years:
|1st of Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes||March 14th, 445 BC|
|Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday||April 6th, 32 AD|
|The intervening period||476 years and 24 days|
|476 years x 365 days a year||173,740 days|
|Add (March 14 to April 6, both inclusive)||+ 24 days|
|Add for leap years||+ 116 days|
|Total Number of days||= 173,880 days|
|A prophetic year (biblically) is understood to be 360 days|
|69 weeks of 360 prophetic-day years (or 69x7x360)||= 173, 880 days|
173,880 days = 483 prophetic years – to the day! Therefore, a “week” is understood to be seven prophetic years of 360 days. See also Genesis 29:27 – 28.
3. Where is Israel now in the “70 Week” program?
After Christ presented Himself to Israel as her Messiah on Palm Sunday and was subsequently “cut off”, a nearly 2,000 year gap ensued. When Christ was “cut off”, the time clock was effectively stopped. Then, in May of 1948, Israel was once again back in the land. That was significant because she had to be back in the land before the prophecy to Daniel (9:24-27) could be fulfilled. God had dealt with Israel as a nation up to the time when Messiah was cut off. He does so again when He resumes the program with Israel for the 70th week, the final seven years.
The re-emerging of Israel as a nation among the nations of the world after nearly 2,000 years was essential before the 70th week could begin and before Christ could return for the second coming. Then, when Israel regained control over her ancient city, Jerusalem, in 1967, that nailed down the final preparations for the possibility of the 70th week. Why? Because the prophecy to Daniel was for “your people and your holy city” (9:24). With Israel back in the land, growing tired of the constant conflict of terrorism and Palestinian and world pressure, and looking for a real solution to peace, she is more ready now than ever before to sign a covenant with some power with the political and military resources to guarantee the peace she so desperately desires. One day, perhaps soon, she’ll sign the covenant spoken of in Daniel 9:27 and Isaiah 28:15, 18. When that happens, the 70th Week will have begun.
4. What does Israel’s return to her ancient homeland mean for believers?
Today, more than at any time in the last 2,000 years, the church can well expect the fulfillment of Daniel’s “70th week” prophecy. With world conditions rapidly building to a point of readiness for the events of the 70th week, the church more than ever needs to get her spiritual house in order. With a plethora of prophetic teaching arising today, much of which is not biblically supportable, the believer needs to be a Berean (Acts 17:11) more than ever. With the potential beginning of the 70th Week at hand, it behooves the believer to know and understand what God has indeed said regarding the second coming of Christ. If the over 300 prophecies of His first coming were fulfilled literally, surely the prophecies of His second coming will be literal as well! This is a time for believers to know and understand what God has clearly said about the return of His Son.
Will He come for His church (Bride) before the 70th Week begins? Will He come at the end of the 70th Week? Will he come sometime during the 70th Week? A face-value reading of the Scripture clearly reveals that Christ comes sometime during the second half of the 70th Week. Jesus taught that in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24). Paul taught that in his writings (cf. 1 Thes. 4 and 5; 2 Thes. 2). Jesus taught that in Revelation 6 – 8.
Is Daniel’s “70 Week” prophecy nearly completed? Yes. The first sixty-nine prophetic years are now history and the 70th Week could begin virtually overnight.