[This is the text version of the video, “Daniel Chapter 9-a ‘The 69 Weeks’”.]
Because it changed my life. As I’ve mentioned before, I was an unbeliever but then, through a series of experiences, I came to faith in God. Later, when someone shared Daniel chapter 9 with me, I’d never seen anything like that. There’s nothing in this world can tell you, in advance, specifically, “This is going to happen and this is going to happen” and then it happens. But we have a God like that, the God of Abraham.
The first part of Daniel chapter 9 can be called “the 69 weeks” or perhaps more accurately, “the 69 sevens”. This chapter is concentrated. There’s a tremendous amount of information conveyed in very few words. In fact, there are really only 4 prophetic verses in the chapter and we’re going to look at the first 3 of those in this class. To start with, we need to know where we are in Daniel’s life and in the history of the Jews.
Daniel, as a young teenager, had been led away with some of the first captives that had been taken to Babylon from Jerusalem around 604 BC. Then, though a miraculous series of events, Daniel ended up telling Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, his dream, when the king couldn’t remember it.
But Daniel chapter 9 is near the end of Daniel’s life. In his 80’s now and has been working as a government official throughout his life. By this time, it’s not Babylon anymore; it’s the Medes and the Persians. So we’re looking at around 539 BC; the Jews are still in captivity, now under the Persians. Daniel chapter 9 starts like this.
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years which came by the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.“ (Daniel 9:1 & 2)
In our times, we look back to the prophecies of Daniel to see our future. But Daniel is looking back to a prophet before him. We’re finding Daniel reading the prophecies of Jeremiah. Here are the verses Daniel was reading, Jeremiah 29:10 through 13.
“For thus says the LORD, after seventy years are completed at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.” And then the next verse says, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.“
That’s a beautiful, comforting verse. God has their best interests in mind. So He’s thinking thoughts of peace and not of evil. Then verse 13 says,“And you shall seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.“
The prophet Jeremiah was perhaps around the age of Daniel’s parents. God had told Jeremiah many years before that Israel was going to be taken captive and carried away to Babylon. And they were going to be there for 70 years. That’s what it says in Jeremiah 29:10, the verse that Daniel was reading. Let’s look at that verse again.
“For thus says the LORD, after seventy years are completed at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.“
So Daniel understood by reading Jeremiah, “Our captivity is going to be for 70 years.” And do you know how long it had been? It had been around 68 years. So the same way we read Daniel and we go, “Oh my gosh! We’re in the endtime!” Daniel read Jeremiah and he felt almost the same way. “Oh my gosh! Two more years and that 70 year period is up!” So Daniel starts praying. God had told them, “And you shall seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.“ (Jeremiah 29:13)
So Daniel begins to seek God with all his heart. And he’s going to pour out his heart to God, in sackcloth and ashes as a sign of repentance and desperation. He’s praying for his people, he’s praying for his country, prophecy is just about to be fulfilled. This prayer is actually 16 verses long so maybe we can read the first three and last three verses.
“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession and said, ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your commandments and Your judgments.’“ (Daniel 9:3-5)
And the last 3 verses of the prayer were
“Now, O our God, hear the prayer of Your servant and his requests, and for the Lord’s sake, cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our ruins and the city which is called by Your name. For we do not present our prayers before You because of our righteousness but because of Your great mercies.O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, hear and act. Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.“ (Daniel 9:17-19)
Daniel was seeking God with all his heart. He was confessing his sins and the sins of his people. He was desperate for God to forgive, to heal, to answer the prayers of His people and to fulfill His prophetic Word. So we can go to verses 20 & 21.
“And while I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and presenting my cry before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yea, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening sacrifice. And he informed me and talked with me and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come to give you skill and understanding. At the beginning of your prayers the commandment went forth and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved.’“
There are not too many times in the Bible where an angel says that to someone, “You are greatly beloved”. In fact, this was said twice more to Daniel in Daniel chapter 10. Daniel must have been a really special person. He was greatly loved because he greatly loved the Lord.
“Therefore consider the matter and understand the vision:“
This has been our preparation for those 3 prophetic verses we’re going to be looking at in this class. There aren’t going to be any visions of beasts here, like in the earlier chapters. The angel Gabriel is going to give Daniel the straight Word of God. What if you tried to get the most important things in the history of the world for the next 2 or 3 thousand years into 3 or 4 verses? That’s what we’re going to have right here.
Sometimes when I teach this, I use the analogy of Algebra, where you have things like “X” plus “Y” equals 5. So “X” and “Y” are unknowns. At the beginning of this, there are going to be some “unknowns”. The challenge for you is going to be to try to not figure it out right away. Because we’re going to have to wait for it and we’re going to have to put it together. So if you don’t understand this right away, just wrap it up in a bundle of faith and put it on the shelf for the moment. Because we’re going to work on it and we’re going to find it out. So Gabriel was telling Daniel,
“…therefore consider the matter and understand the vision:” Verse 24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon 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, to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy.”
Now if you don’t watch out, you’re going to go, “Seventy weeks? Let’s see; 52 weeks in a year…” So you do your math and you get “a year and a half…that doesn’t make sense!” And you’d be right. But here’s the first thing you need to know. The English word week in the Hebrew is “shabua”.
That’s the Hebrew word for week. And in Hebrew that didn’t always mean 7 days. We have the word in English “a dozen”. It could be a dozen eggs, a dozen houses; it means 12. I’ll give you another example of this word shabua in the Bible. The most important verse in this chapter for people in our times is Daniel 9:27.
Our next class is mainly based around that verse. But an interesting cross reference is Genesis 29:27. Daniel 9:27 connecting with Genesis 29:27, interesting coincidence. It’s talking about Jacob, nearly 1500 years before Daniel. Jacob had to work 7 years for one wife, then 7 for the other wife; then 7 more years for the other things. Genesis 29:27 says, “Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you shall serve with me still another seven years.”
That’s another place in the Bible where the Hebrew word “shabau”, “a week”, is used as 7 years. So when it says “70 weeks”, it’s not talking about a year and a half. It’s talking about 70 sevens of years. If you do your math, you go 70 times 7 equals 490. Gabriel is telling Daniel that “70 weeks”, 490 years, are determined “To make an end of sins”, “to bring in everlasting righteousness”. (Daniel 9:24)
Do we have an end of sins right now in our world? No. Do we have everlasting righteousness right now in our world? No. Maybe in our hearts, we have the kingdom of God within us. But in this world we do not have an end of sins and we do not have everlasting righteousness. So already, from what we can tell so far, this 490 year period has not come to its conclusion, even up to our modern times.
But, we were reading about Daniel praying desperately because that 70 years prophecy of Jeremiah was just about due to be fulfilled. It was just about time for the Jews to be allowed to begin to return to the land they’d been driven from so many years before. But then, the angel Gabriel here seems to start talking about something different. Nothing about that prophecy but about a 490 year period “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” (Daniel 9:24)
What about that 70 years prophecy of Jeremiah, did it get fulfilled? Yes it did. Two years after this prophecy of Daniel 9, King Cyrus of Persia signed a proclamation allowing the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. And they began to do that in fulfillment of the 70 years prophecy which had been given to Jeremiah.
But it seems God had something else on His mind. Gabriel’s message here to Daniel was about something far, far greater and more important. Gabriel’s message was at the heart of God’s overall plan for all nations, the salvation of all peoples and the bringing in of God’s rule and reign on our very earth.
One thing about these verses, they’re so packed with significance that it’s difficult to make this into a somewhat brief class, especially for those studying this for the first time. There’s much here that could be explored and looked into which I’ll need to pass over for now in order to focus on the most important elements of this message from Gabriel to Daniel.
So Gabriel first gave the big picture “Seventy weeks are determined… to make an end of sins to bring in everlasting righteousness”. (Daniel 9:24) We’re told of “seventy weeks”, a period of 490 years. But then in the next verses, he begins to break those seventy 7’s of years into smaller periods. Verse 25 says
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublous times.“
The angel Gabriel is talking to Daniel somewhere in Persia, around 539 BC. At this time none of the Jews had even gone back to their homeland yet; they were all still captives. But as I was saying earlier, two years later, they were allowed to begin to return to Jerusalem. But that’s not what this “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25) is talking about.
The Jews who returned to Jerusalem back then went back to a city that was ruins. They were allowed to go back but they couldn’t really rebuild. Because in those days, to fortify a city, you had to get permission to do that. Because if you have built up a city, you can begin to defend yourself, you could be independent from the Persians.
So it was actually nearly 100 years after this time, when Nehemiah poured out his heart to king Artaxerxes of Persia about the sad condition of the Jews who’d returned to Jerusalem, that this commandment to restore and build Jerusalem took place, around 444 BC. That’s what Nehemiah 2:5 records when Nehemiah said,
“And I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I pray that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, so that I may build it.”
So let’s look at verse 25 again in that light. “Know therefore and understand that, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince,…“
I didn’t believe in God until I was nearly 21 years old. And the first time I read this and saw that it’s speaking specifically about “Messiah the Prince” in the Old Testament, I’ll tell you, I was really stunned. And I found that there are so many places, in the Old Testament, that specifically foretell a Messiah who would come. This is one of the most amazing ones right here.
“From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks…” (a week is seven years) 7 times 7 is 49 so 49 years “and 62 weeks”. Seven weeks plus 62 weeks equals 69 weeks which would amount to 483 years between “the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” and “Messiah the Prince.”
It’s almost hard to believe that the angel Gabriel, over 500 years before the birth of Jesus, gave an exceedingly specific prophecy to the prophet Daniel about a 483 year length of time before the arrival of “Messiah, the Prince.” But, you probably wonder, “Was it really exactly that length of time, 483 years?”
Let’s look at that. First, it’s beyond the scope of this video to present to you the many historical details of all this. There have been some amazing studies to find the exact year of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem”.
A book that has helped me in the study of all this was published in 1894, “The Coming Prince” by Sir Robert Anderson. Through much study, Robert Anderson found that the king that Nehemiah served, Artaxerxes, gave the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem in 444 BC.
But here’s a factor that changes that. Throughout the Bible and in ancient societies, a year was calculated as 360 days, not 365¼ as we know now. Here’s something Sir Isaac Newton, who was an ardent student of the prophecies of Daniel, wrote about this fact
“All nations, before the just length of the solar year was known, reckoned months by the course of the moon, and years by the return of winter and summer, spring and autumn. In making calendars for their festivals, they reckoned thirty days to a lunar month, and twelve lunar months to a year. From this comes the division of the path of the sun’s annual rotation into 360 degrees.”
Here’s a chart to show this.
The angel Gabriel said there would be “7 weeks” and “62 weeks”, 69 weeks or 483 years between “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” and “Messiah the Prince”. Historically between 444 BC and 33 AD there are 476 years. (Just to note: we go from 1 BC to 1 AD since there’s no year “0”.)
History says that 476 of our modern years past between these two periods. 476 years multiplied by 365¼ equals 173,859 days. So 483 years in the ancient world would equal the 476 years that modern history computes between these two key points in this prophecy.
This same thing can be seen in the book of Revelation. Talking about a future period in the endtime of 3½ years, the length of time is called “42 months” in chapters 11 and 13. But in several other places in Revelation, the same period is called “a thousand, two hundred and sixty days”.
A period of 42 months, mentioned twice between Revelation 11 and 13 and a similar period of 1260 days, also mentioned twice in those chapters. 42 months divided by 12 months equals 3½ years. And 1260 days, divided by a 360 day year equals 3½ years. These references in Revelation are talking about the same length of time reckoned with years being 360 days.
Let’s look at this all again from a larger view.
First we are told of “70 weeks”, 490 years, “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” Then within the 70 weeks, a period of 69 weeks, 483 years, from the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince. The 69 weeks are then broken down into periods of 49 years and 434 years. And it says, “the street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublous times.” And the beginning of verse 26 says, “And after sixty two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself…”
History shows that it took the Jews 49 years to complete the rebuilding of Jerusalem. In fact, around the time of that completion, about 400 BC, was when the last Jewish prophet, Malachi, received God’s Word for the people. After that, for the next 400 years, there were no more prophets. For believers back then, this part of the prophecy may have been a real beacon and light to their future. It could almost have been like a road sign, during a long desert crossing, that from the completion of the building of Jerusalem, there would be “62 weeks”, 434 years before the Messiah.
You can read the historical and prophetic books in the Bible from the time after the Jews had come back to Jerusalem and you never hear them saying that they were expecting the Messiah at any moment. But then, in New Testament times, there are repeated references to people who were expecting to see the Messiah in their lifetimes. Perhaps these verses from Daniel chapter 9 were talked about during that time. The Living Bible, says this in Luke chapter 3 verse 15 “Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and eager to know whether or not John [the Baptist] was He. This was the question of the hour and was being discussed everywhere.”
Many of us have heard about “the 3 kings of the east”, also called “the 3 wise men” who saw His star in the east at the time of Jesus’ birth and came to worship Him. These wise men, “the magi” or magicians of the east may have known of this prophecy in Daniel 9. We read in Daniel 2 that after Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar his dream, “Then the king promoted Daniel, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men [the magicians] of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:48) So it’s quite possible the 3 wise men from the east knew the time had come for the birth of the Messiah from this prophecy of the ancient chief of the wise men of Babylon, Daniel himself. They didn’t ask when the king of the Jews was to be born, just where.
But it even says, “And after sixty two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself…” (Daniel 9:26) We can look back at this and truly be at a loss for words. The prophecy says “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself“. The Messiah would be killed, but not for Himself. And for those of you who know the message of Christianity, you know that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus of Nazareth willingly went to his crucifixion. He was cut off, not for Himself or his sins (He didn’t have any) but to give His life as an offering and a ransom for many. You may not believe that. Certainly I didn’t at all. But then, what can we do with this prophecy? We can doubt it, we can dismiss it, we can wish it wasn’t there. But it is. Not in the Christian writings of the New Testament but in the Hebrew writings of the Old Testament.
But there’s still another equally amazing part to verse 26. Let’s read the full verse and focus on the last part, “And after 62 weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself, and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood. And unto the end of the war desolations shall be determined.”
Most of you watching this are not Jewish and this may not stand out to you. But for a Jewish person, especially one from those times back then, this would shock them very much. What they would notice is that Gabriel says here, that, after the Messiah shall be cut off, “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…” (Daniel 9:26)
At the time Gabriel gave this message in, 539 BC, Daniel and his people were in prayer and expectation that they’d be allowed to return to Jerusalem and hopefully to rebuild the city and even the Temple. But Gabriel is telling them that, at a future date, Jerusalem would be destroyed again. And the future Temple. “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…” (Daniel 9:26)
Did this actually occur in history? Yes it did. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem in 33 AD. In 70 AD, the Roman legions of Titus surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the sanctuary. Israel was effectively ended; over 1 million were killed and the Jews were scattered among all nations for nearly 1900 years. But when does the angel Gabriel say that this will happen? “After Messiah shall be cut off.“ (Daniel 9:26)
So, God has a foreknowledge of events in our world. God has a destiny foreordained for mankind and it’s going to be fulfilled. We individually have free choice and we’re responsible for our choices. But God has an overall design for mankind.
I’m going to go over this once more.
From 444 BC till 33 AD, from “the Commandment to build Jerusalem” until “Messiah shall be cut off” shall be “7 weeks” (49 prophetic years) and “62 weeks” (434 prophetic years) which make a total of 483 prophetic years. And it says, after the Messiah is cut off “the people of the prince that shall come [the Romans] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.“
We can look back and say, “Oh, yeah”. But who can do what we’ve just seen here? Nobody can do that, nobody. No religion, no philosopher, no scientist. Only the God of Abraham can so clearly and explicitly tell us the future. And He did it. It’s so powerful. It’s just unique. But you know what?
That’s only 69 weeks. The angel said, “70 weeks”
“Seventy weeks are determined …to bring in everlasting righteousness.” 69 weeks were fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus. So, there’s one “week” left. One last 7 year period is yet to be fulfilled in this prophecy in order to bring in God’s Kingdom on earth.
That’s what’s called “the 70th week” or “the Last 7 years” and that hasn’t happened yet. You could think, “Well, maybe 7 years after the death and resurrection of the Messiah, that would be the other 7 years and that would be the fulfillment, wouldn’t it?” But then, is that when there was an end of sins? A bringing in of everlasting righteousness.
One of the most famous things Jesus of Nazareth ever taught was when His disciples asked Him how they should pray. His answer to His disciples has come to be called, “the Lord’s prayer”. One of the first things taught in that prayer is that we should pray to God, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
We only have to look at history and our own times to know that isn’t how it has been or is now. We don’t have God’s Kingdom on earth right now. That last “week”, the last seven years of this prophecy is yet to come, yet to be fulfilled. That’s what the final verse in this chapter is about, verse 27
When He was asked by His disciples about His return to the earth, Jesus referred to things mentioned in Daniel 9:27 and other verses we’ve not yet read in Daniel. Our next class is going to be centered around Daniel 9:27 and those other verses. We’ll find that this verse is the crux, the keystone, fitting together so much of what we’ve read already in Daniel and what can be found in the book of Revelation. I’ve already started on the next video on this subject and I’m eagerly looking forward to sharing that with you soon, God bless you.