Gabriel relays the next few steps in God’s plan to Daniel (Daniel 9). In hindsight, we can see that it covers the rest of the Old Covenant, and introduces a shift in focus for the plan. The plan is expressed figuratively in terms of “weeks of years,” featuring the number 7—the number of perfection and completion. The plan unfolds across 70 “weeks of years,” which is the same as saying 70 times 7 or 490 years.
The prophecy is broken down into three time periods. The first period consists of seven weeks of years (7 x 7 = 49 years) for rebuilding the Temple destroyed by the Babylonians. Remember, Gabriel has already told Daniel that the proclamation to do just that has already gone forth. The second period consists of sixty-two weeks of years (62 x 7 = 434 years) waiting for the Messiah—God’s Anointed One, Jesus Christ. The third period consists of one “week of years” or 7 years.
Included in the prophecy is a divine to-do list. It is what shall be accomplished in order to fulfill God’s plan for His people: (1) To finish their transgressions; (2) to make an end of their sins; (3) to make reconciliation for their iniquities; (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness; (5) to seal up vision and prophecy; and (6) to anoint the Most Holy Place.
Gabriel ends his timely message with these prophetic words: “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate” (Dan. 9:26-27).
The Chronos Lesson: Even a quick reading of the to-do list shows us that only Jesus Christ, God incarnate, could complete those tasks. It becomes even more obvious when you study the Hebrew words used in the prophecy. They speak of such things as bringing a Sabbath rest to the sacrifices and securing a covenant of grace for many. Does that sound like the work of Someone we know? Also, this is the only place in the Old Testament where the title of Messiah is used directly. It is equivalent to the Greek word Christ, which also refers to God’s Anointed One.
The first two time periods of the prophecy are history; they have already come to pass. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the Jews returning to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple (which was still in place in Jesus’ time). The exact timing given for this event is confirmed in secular history as well. Likewise, both the Bible and secular history document that Jesus appeared as the Messiah—marked by His baptism at 30 years of age—exactly 434 years after that marker.
The final 70th Week of years (or 7 years) is the pivotal time period of the prophecy. The prophecy foretold that Christ would be cut-off in the middle of the 70th Week. Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted for 3½ years, which is the first half of the pivotal week. When Jesus first came to His people, they rejected Him. The people of the Prince—the Jews—shouted to have Barabbas released instead, and Jesus crucified.
As a result of this infraction, the prophecy was paused. Hosea foretold that it would be paused for two great Days and would involve the nation of Israel being torn and stricken. This 2,000-year period is called the time of Jacob’s trouble in Scripture. We know it as the Diaspora, when the Jewish people were scattered across the nations and endured persecution (the anti-Semitism that we still see in our own time). It will come to an end when the Jewish remnant finally accept Jesus as the Messiah. As we know, that happens when Christ returns at the rapture.
This two-Day time-out, when the “natural branch” of Israel was cut off from the Vine, is likewise part of God’s mystery-plan. It allowed for the “wild branch” of the Gentiles to be grafted into the Vine (Romans 11). This is what we call the 2,000 years of the Church Age.
This means the last half of the final 70th Week of the prophecy still remains to be fulfilled (3½ years). Some of the divine to-do list was completed with Christ’s first coming. The rest of the list will be completed when He comes again, during the last Day of God’s prophetic Week. When the Jewish remnant finally declare, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord,” they will finally experience the “thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Our resurrection at the rapture will trigger their acceptance.
This timely portrayal of the end-times may surprise some believers because it does not match what they have been taught by previous generations who misinterpreted this crucial prophecy. They added to it—never a good thing to do to God’s Word—by wrongly inserting another prince (the Antichrist). To do so, they had to redefine a term Jesus used in His teaching on the rapture—the tribulation—in order to fit their own timetable. These people may want to reconsider how that approach worked for Nebuchadnezzar!
If you’re still confused, bear with us. It will become clearer as we continue our journey through God’s Word, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.