Nearly 500 years before Jesus was born, Daniel the prophet was carefully studying prophecy and praying for His people Israel.
And he got excited because he was one of the exiles in that 70-year captivity in Babylon. He realized prophecy predicted that captivity would come to an end in about five years. “Wow! We Jews get to go back to Jerusalem. God’s about to set us free!”
As Daniel was speaking to God in prayer, thanking Him for this revelation, the angel Gabriel came,
<Daniel 9:22, 23>
“And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand...for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision...”
Notice, we have a prophet,
God’s giving Daniel a vision, a new prophecy,
Gabriel told Daniel “I’ve got good news and bad news. First, the bad news. Another crisis is coming:”
<Daniel 9:24>
“Seventy weeks are determined for your people...”
Your Jewish nation, Daniel, has 70 weeks to get their act together, or God says I’m through with them! Finis. Over. Kaput.”
Daniel’s heart stops cold. Why, Gabriel?
<Daniel 9:24>
“...For your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression; to make an end of sins; to make reconciliation for iniquity; to bring in everlasting righteousness; seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”
Daniel was troubled. The vision haunted him for days and weeks. He didn’t understand it. Stayed up nights thinking about it. It wasn’t clear.
You see, Daniel knew that in prophecy when you compute apocalyptic prophetic time, one prophetic day stands for one literal year! That’s how prophetic time works. Daniel knew about Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34 which spell it out,
<Ezekiel 4:6> (KJV)
“I have appointed thee each day for a year.”
“First of all,” says Gabriel to Daniel, a prophet, “in this prophecy there’s a prophetic period of 490 literal years (70 prophetic weeks) for the Jews to get with it. 490 literal years are measured off for the Jews. To repent. Be saved as a nation of Israel. This is a special period of grace for the Jewish nation.
But then, a crisis is coming, big time!
But Daniel, here’s the good news! I want you to notice that during this 490-year period some great things are going to take place. Some special events leading up to Messiah!”
“Really?” “That’s right! Daniel, during this long time prophecy all these rites and ceremonies and blood sacrifices will be brought to an end. Now pay attention, Daniel.
This is the greatest prophecy God has ever given, Daniel. Four specific events leading up to Ground Zero, Calvary!
I’m going to tell you exactly the year when Messiah comes, exactly when He will officially begin His ministry; how long it will be; even when He will die! (down to the year, month, day and hour!) And much, much more, Daniel!”
“Wow! Thought Daniel. “Well, when does this prophecy start? When’s the beginning date? I’d like to know, so I can start computing when all these things will happen.”
Gabriel says to Daniel in verse 25, “Now listen, it just takes a little bit of simple arithmetic. You can start figuring this prophecy and all its finer details from the time of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”
<Daniel 9:25>
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.”
“Oh,” says Daniel. “Sure enough!” Jerusalem was in ruins at this time. Daniel and the Jews are captive prisoners in Babylon. Gabriel says, “get out your stopwatch Daniel when a decree is made to rebuild Jerusalem.”
“All right!” says Daniel. “Can’t miss that!” This is like “WordPerfect for Dummies.”
We find that decree recorded in the book of Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 7, 9, 13 – in fact, the Jews wrote it everywhere so nobody would miss it!
<Ezra 7:7, 13>
“ the seventh year of Artaxerxes the King... (King of Persia – on such and such a day and month) “I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel...of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem...”
History tells us the decree of King Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem was issued in the year 457 B.C. In fact, in the Fall of 457 B.C. (The year, month and very day are given).
The angel says, “Get out your pencil, Daniel. This prophecy is so simple an 8th grader can figure it out. The beginning date of this long 490-year period is when this decree is issued: 457 B.C.”
“Daniel. Put it down. But notice, now there are several amazing subdivisions in this 490-year period. Write these down. 457 B.C. starts the clock ticking! But the first thing to happen? Rebuild the city!”
<Daniel 9:25>
“ restore and to build Jerusalem...shall be seven weeks...the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.”
Seven weeks is 49 prophetic days – but we want actual years, so that’s 49 years for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Bingo! Brings you
Down to 408 B.C. Do the math. History tells us that date’s correct. Artaxerxes Longimanus completed the work.
Now, Daniel, from 457 B.C. this prophecy is to reach to Messiah, the Anointed One, verse 25,
<Daniel 9:25>
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty two weeks...” [69]
Doing a little math, that’s 483 days/years. 483 years after Artaxerxes’ decree brings us down to A.D. 27, the year Messiah should officially appear.
What happened that year? Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the book of Acts all tell us that year, the 15th reigning year of Tiberius Caesar, John the Baptist was baptizing in the River Jordan.
And Jesus came and asked to be baptized in the Jordan River. Anoint Me, John. “Now?” John asks. “Now. The prophetic clock has struck!”
<Mark 1:15>
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.”
John replies,
<John 1:29>
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
People, this is Messiah! Showing up right on schedule!
Luke pinpoints this very year Jesus was anointed – at his baptism – the Fall of A.D. 27.
<Luke 3:1, 21, 22> (KJV)
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar...and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.’”
God anointed Jesus “Messiah,” or “anointed One,” there at His baptism. Paul states:
<Acts 10:38>
“...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost.”
In the Fall of 27 A.D. – and that’s important.
Because it fulfills the 483-year prophecy – to the very month! Just an accident? Why wasn’t Jesus baptized in the spring or the summer of that year? Just happenstance? No friend. The prophecy said Messiah would be anointed exactly at that time – not Buddha. Not Confucius. Not Mohammed. This was no coincidence. Because it proves Jesus was indeed who He claimed to be! Messiah!
Christ preached everywhere He went,
<Mark 1:15>
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
My whole life is based on prophecies!
But hold on. There’s more. It really gets beautiful and wonderfully technical to the milli-second. In fact, my favorite part of the prophecy. The Jews still had another seven years to get with it, right? From Christ’s baptism in A.D. 27 clear up to A.D. 34. For seven more years after the Savior entered His ministry in A.D. 27, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews. For three and one half years by Christ Himself; and afterward by the apostles.
But look! Something else happens first – before the Jewish nation falls apart in A.D. 34, Daniel 9:26-27 says in the midst of the week,
<Daniel 9:26>
“Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.”
For others! He’d be killed. Look closely at what happens right smack in the middle of this last 7 years, Verse 27
<Daniel 9:27>
“And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease...”
In other words, exactly three and one-half years after Jesus’ baptism, by sacrificing Himself half way through this “week,” He’d bring an end to the entire sacrificial system of the Jewish Old Testament!
Count it out with me. Use your fingers. From the fall of A.D. 27 to 28, 29, 30. Then 1/2 a year: fall, winter, to Spring of A.D. 31! When is Easter? In Spring!
Prophecy was fulfilled exactly! History tells us it was Passover in 31 A.D. exactly 3 1/2 years after His baptism. In the middle of this prophetic week, Jesus died as the perfect Lamb of God. He the true sacrifice offered on Calvary was, “cut off.” Killed. Hung upon a cross, scripture tells us, on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month. (Equivalent to our Easter time).
You remember what happened that day?
Mark records it was Passover in Jerusalem; and just as the priest in the temple was about to slay the lamb on the altar, suddenly “the veil in the temple (6” thick) was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” by an unseen hand!
In horror, the High Priest dropped his knife, all those people now for the very first time see into the Most Holy Place – which only the High Priest was ever supposed to see.
It was worthless now. It meant nothing. Why? It all came to an end at the cross. For at that very moment, Jesus hung on Calvary and cried out,
<John 19:30>
“ is finished...”
The Bible said
Jesus would be crucified when the Passover Lamb was slain three o’clock in the afternoon of the 14th day of the first month in A.D. 31. on the month, day, the very hour and even the very second the lamb in the temple was slain. Meeting the specifications of prophecy in every detail.
Time had come for the rites and ceremonies of the Old Testament to cease. No more sacrifices to show faith in a coming Savior.
Messiah Changed the World! What a prophecy! Fantastic because no other person in history could have fulfilled it.
But the prophecy isn’t ended. Three and one-half more years were measured off ending in 34 A.D. Three and one-half more years for the Jewish nation to straighten out, to accept Jesus and the message of the Disciples. But the Jews never did. The disciples tried to win them. But the Jewish nation officially rejected their message. Finally when they stoned Stephen to death in A.D. 34 they sealed their doom. Their rejection of the gospel. Stephen became the first martyr of the Christian church, and the prophetic clock struck again! Right on time. 490 years. The Jews had broken the camel’s back. The last straw. Persecuting Messiah’s church! So God sent word because they rejected Him as a nation, He finally had to reject them. And the disciples, under intense persecution, were scattered and...
<Acts 8:4>
“...went everywhere preaching the word.”
Preaching the Gospel now to the Gentile world. If God couldn’t use the Jews, God would use Gentiles to proclaim His truth and formulate His church.
We know this actually happened. Acts 13:46 gives the CNN News report from Antioch when the Jewish Taliban fiercely opposed the apostles:
<Acts 13:46>
Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.’”
Ending the 490-year prophecy of Daniel. End of the Jewish theocracy. Jesus said in Luke 13:7,
<Luke 13:7>
“Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down...”
The Jews are useless as a nation. They are obstructing the Plan of Salvation.
That’s why shortly after A.D. 34 the Jewish nation and Jerusalem was totally sacked, destroyed and leveled by the Roman armies in 70 A.D. Just like Daniel 9:26 foretold. Just like Jesus foretold in Matthew 8:12
<Matthew 8:12> (KJV)
“...the children of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.”
You see, friend, the 70-week prophecy is not only correct. It’s accurate to the very moment of time. Every little subdivision met complete fulfillment in history. Proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah foretold in Scripture. Jesus began His ministry and accomplished His death at the very times specified in prophecy. Who else could it be? No one. Not Confucius, Buddha. Jesus!
Notice! We see it again. A technique of God. The consistency of God. A prophet makes a time prediction at the end of which another prophet raises up to form a movement - a nucleus of people. They lead that remnant through the time of crisis and on into a new epoch. Our God is the same. He is predictable. He doesn’t change. And in the last days of this earth’s history there’s one more prophecy we don’t have time for tonight – of tremendous global and cosmic interest that follows the same pattern. It’s the final prophecy that leads out a people in final jeopardy...this time into the epoch of eternal life. You don’t want to miss that message!