Daniel 9 – God’s Timing is so Perfect
“. . . Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.” – Isaiah 45:21
Introduction to God’s Timing
Some of the chapters in the book of Daniel are not in chronological order. For example, Daniel 7 occurred chronologically before Daniel 6. This point is mentioned because the prayer recorded in Daniel 9 occurred during the year that Daniel was sent to the lions’ den (Daniel 6). Even though the prayer recorded in Daniel 9 was left unfinished because of Gabriel’s unexpected visit, it was included in the book of Daniel for at least two reasons: First, the Bible tells us that God sent an answer to Daniel while he was praying. This information assures us that God hears the prayers of His children and He responds according to His infinite wisdom. Second, this special prayer has been preserved in the Bible because of its amazing content. Daniel states many profound truths in his prayer that everyone should thoughtfully consider.
The story in Daniel 9 occurred during 538 B.C. and Daniel knew the seventy years of captivity were drawing to a close. He was deeply concerned about Israel’s release from captivity and was anxious to fulfill whatever role the Lord might want him to play. So, Daniel turned to the Lord with humility, fasting and prayer. “In the first year of Darius the [grand] son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” (Daniel 9:1-3, KJV, insertion mine)
Commentary on Part I
Consider some of the concerns and concepts that must have been in Daniel’s mind before he began to pray:
- Daniel knew that God had set the descendants of Abraham apart from other nations for a glorious purpose. (Exodus 19:4-6; Isaiah 42:6)
- Daniel knew why his people were captives in Babylon.
- Daniel knew that Israel’s deliverance would have to be “an Act of God.”
- Daniel knew that God kept vigil, and He would not forget His promise to free His people from captivity. (Exodus 12:42)
- Daniel knew that God had set a date for the release of His people and “the Friday year” of 536/5 B.C. was the seventieth year of captivity.
- Daniel believed he had been placed in a high administrative position to somehow facilitate the release of his people, but he did not know what to do.
Now that some of Daniel’s concerns have been identified, carefully examine Daniel’s confession and prayer:
“And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces [shame and embarrassment], as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
“Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” (Daniel 9:4-13, KJV, insertion mine)
Commentary on Part II
Daniel’s fasting and prayer must have been motivated by three factors. First, fasting is something we can do when we want God to consider the intensity of our heart’s desire. Second, Daniel humiliated (embarrassed) himself with sackcloth and ashes to show God that he was willing to do anything God wanted him to do to facilitate the release of his people. Third, Daniel knew about Solomon’s prayer, which the Lord confirmed by sending fire from Heaven when Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon prayed: “When they [Israel] sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin – and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.” (2 Chronicles 6:36-39, insertion mine)
Given the content and eloquent language in Daniel’s prayer, it is possible that Daniel prepared this prayer for a specific worship service. It is also possible that he prepared this prayer to meet one of the conditions required for deliverance! Notice what the Lord had said when He gave the covenant to Israel at Sinai: “[If you rebel against me] You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers’ sins they will waste away. But, if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers – their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies – then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:38-42, italics and insertion mine)
Daniel’s prayer indicates that he well understood the terms and conditions of the covenant between Israel and God. Daniel acknowledged that God had afflicted Israel with a curse as the covenant stipulated. Daniel knew that Israel deserved captivity because of rebellion. Daniel justified God’s righteous actions and he openly confessed that Israel had insulted God. He prayed, “. . . therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him [the Lord our God].” (Daniel 9:11)
The curse which God placed on Israel is difficult for some people to understand, so some background information may prove helpful. God made a unilateral covenant (a one-sided unconditional covenant) with Abraham. God promised Abraham that a) all nations would be blessed through him, b) his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, and c) they would inherit a specific parcel of land. At the Exodus, God made a bilateral (a two-sided or mutually agreed upon) conditional covenant with Israel, and it may be summarized with these words: “If you will be my people, I will be your God.” (Leviticus 26:12) However, “if you choose to love other gods and rebel against my laws, I will destroy you.” (Leviticus 26:14-39) Bible history indicates that God destroyed Israel several times. The Bible indicates that God began destroying Israel with the first generation that came out of Egypt. The first generation was put to death in the wilderness because of rebellion!
The nation of Israel could uphold their end of the bilateral covenant only if a majority in Israel loved and obeyed the Lord. Moses knew this was a crucial point. In his farewell address to the second generation of Israel – the generation that entered the Promised Land – he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) He also wrote, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18) According to Jesus, these two commandments were the greatest commandments spoken by Moses. (Matthew 22:36-40)
It has been said in this book that God’s treatment of Israel is a mirror reflecting how He deals with all nations. The inverse of this statement is also true. Israel’s treatment of God is a mirror reflecting how the human race treats God. The carnal nature of individual Jews made Israel’s corporate behavior rebellious and ungrateful. A grateful company of slaves was willing and eager to enter into a covenant with God at the base of Mt. Sinai. However, forty days later, they were dancing around a golden calf. After two years, this same group of people became so rebellious that God refused to allow them to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 14) God confined that generation to the wilderness for forty years so that all of the adults (except Caleb and Joshua) would die without receiving what had been promised to them. (Hebrews 3:10,11) This is a crucial point. Many people have wondered, “Why did God deal so harshly with Israel? Would it have been easier for Him to abandon Israel and start over with another nation? This almost happened. God almost destroyed Israel when they bowed down and worshiped the golden calf in the shadow of Mt. Sinai, but Moses interceded. (Exodus 32:10) Consider God’s love. From the beginning, God foreknew the offspring of Abraham would fail, so why did He enter into a covenant with them? This is a profound point: God does not treat us on the basis of what He knows the outcome will be. Instead, God deals with His subjects on the basis of love. God loved Abraham and He did everything a heart of love could do to accomplish His plans through Abraham’s children. God wisely put “a destruction clause” into His bilateral (two-sided) conditional covenant with the offspring of Abraham because God had made a unilateral covenant (one-sided non-conditional) with Abraham. In other words, God unconditionally promised the patriarch Abraham that his descendants would inherit a specific parcel of land. God foreknew that Abraham’s offspring would rebel against Him time after time, and the only way He could fulfill everything He promised to Abraham was through a provision in the covenant that would provide for rebels to be destroyed! Every time God destroyed Israel, He started over with a remnant. When Israel rejected Messiah, God did not abandon Israel and turn to the Gentiles. God redefined Israel by making Gentile believers in Christ the heirs of Abraham! (Galatians 3:28,29; Ephesians 2) By doing this, God will be able to fulfill the unconditional covenant He gave to Abraham!
Blessings and Curses
God’s bilateral covenant with Israel was conditional. The covenant began with “If you will be my people, I will be your God.” To motivate Israel to be faithful to the covenant between them, God put an important balance between blessings and curses in the covenant. This balance mirrors the two options from which mankind can choose. Our first option is to love God, submit to His laws and enjoy His presence, favor and blessings. Our second option is to rebel against God and experience the pleasures of sin for a short season and suffer the consequences of sin and destruction. (Leviticus 25; Deuteronomy 28; Ezekiel 18; Romans 8) These are the only options available to mankind, because everything in the universe belongs to God. People who wish to live forever in God’s kingdom cannot live in rebellion against God because God will not tolerate rebellion in His house. God cast Lucifer and a third of the angels out of Heaven because of rebellion, and God cast Israel out of His favor for the same reason. (Ezekiel 28:17; Revelation 12:7-9; Matthew 23:38) Consider God’s words to Israel: “Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.” (Leviticus 25:18) “If in spite of this [a series of punitive judgments] you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.” (Leviticus 26:27,28)
God has demonstrated through Israel’s long history that perfect laws cannot change a rebellious heart. (Romans 8:7) God blessed Israel with His magnificent laws and promised them every material benefit if they would follow Him, but unfortunately, God’s generosity did not cure their rebellion. Instead of becoming a conduit through which God’s blessings could flow to all the nations around them, Israel selfishly appropriated God’s blessings to themselves. However, we should not condemn Israel too harshly because every nation has followed the same path! Remember, Israel’s treatment of God is a mirror reflecting how mankind treats God. A carnal heart can change. The carnal heart can even do “a good deed” every now and then, but good deeds do not transform the carnal heart into the type of heart that God wants. The root problem with the carnal heart is that it cannot love God and others as much as it loves itself. Believe it or not, selfishness and rebellion against God are genetic! Human beings are born with a carnal nature. This is why everyone who wants to be a part of God’s kingdom must be born again. All sinners can receive a new heart if they surrender to God’s will. The carnal heart is self-seeking; therefore, we cannot joyfully submit to God’s will until we surrender to His will. If we surrender daily to go, to be and to do all as God directs, He will do something within us that we cannot do for ourselves. God will transform our selfish hearts into selfless hearts through the power of His Spirit. A loving heart does not think less of itself, it thinks more of others than itself. The born-again experience does not occur in groups of people; it occurs within the heart of one individual at a time. Because most people in Israel did not experience the new birth, the nation of Israel corporately failed to reach the glorious potential which God offered. Israel’s history indicates that most people in Israel were constantly rebellious toward God at any given time. Israel destroyed the prophets God sent, and ultimately, God destroyed His temple and His city along with two-thirds of His people. Then He put the survivors in Babylonian exile for seventy years. (Ezekiel 5:11,12)
This Land Is My Land
Few Christians today understand this point: “. . . [The Lord said to Israel] the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Leviticus 25:23, insertion mine) Many people believe that God’s promise to Abraham is still binding, and they believe that modern Israel is entitled to the land that was inhabited by the Palestinians for the past few centuries. This is not true! God did not grant Canaan to Israel without conditions. (Leviticus 18; Deuteronomy 28) In fact, the same requirements hold true for all nations. God owns all of Earth. He created the continents, and through the blood of Christ, He purchased humanity back to Himself. (Romans 5:18) God allows nations to occupy a parcel of land for as long as that nation upholds principles of righteousness. (Acts 17:26) When rebellion within a nation becomes so great that there is no recovery, God cauterizes the malignancy of sin by sending destruction to that nation. He overthrows offending governments and slows the degenerate process of sin by killing off most, if not all, of its inhabitants. God turns the land over to another nation and the process starts over. King Nebuchadnezzar thought Babylon was an invincible city, but Babylon became decadent and rebellious, so God opened the city gates giving the city and the land to the Medes and Persians in a single night. (Daniel 5)
The prayer of Daniel continues: “Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” (Daniel 9:14-19, KJV)
Commentary on Part III
Daniel’s prayer and Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17 are the best examples of intercessory prayer in the Bible. Prayer coming from a contrite heart always gains an audience with God. (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:2) “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” (Proverbs 15:8)
The Bible indicates that God answers the prayers of a humble petitioner in one of three ways: “Yes, No or Wait.” (Psalm 66:18; 1 John 1:9; Hebrews 5:7) If, in His omniscient wisdom, God says “No” or “Wait,” He knows the consternation His decision will bring, so God sends peace in the middle of the storm if we are willing to receive it. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) At best, this world offers a peace that is temporal and fleeting. The carnal nature is at peace when everything is going according to its will, but a new disturbance can rise out of nowhere and ruin its peace in a heartbeat. Jesus offers a different type of peace than the world can give. His peace transcends the anxieties of life. (Isaiah 26:3) When God’s peace rests on us, we have joy and we cease worrying – knowing that He is in control. Of course, this does not mean that God’s decisions will necessarily be what we think is best; rather, God’s peace comes from knowing that He will make the best of the situation. Daniel went peacefully to the lions’ den and his three friends went peacefully to the fiery furnace. They were concerned, but they had peace about their decision. We find and receive God’s peace “which passes all understanding” when we submit to the wisdom and plans of a sovereign God. Faith in God is not easy to maintain. Israel’s history proves this. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill [or mountain] – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding [into the earlier vision]. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the [earlier] vision:” (Daniel 9:20-23, italics and insertions mine.)
Commentary on Part IV
The appearance of the angel Gabriel suddenly interrupted Daniel’s prayer. Gabriel and Daniel first met during the vision recorded in Daniel 8. So, “the vision” mentioned in verse 21 refers to the vision of the ram, goat, and horn power which occurred about twelve years earlier, in 550 B.C. When Gabriel appeared, he said, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” Daniel’s prayer takes about three minutes to read out loud. Since Gabriel flew to Daniel’s location with an answer as soon as he began to pray, we have to conclude that we are not far away from our Father’s ear. (For comparison, it takes about eight minutes for light to travel from the Sun to Earth.)
Gabriel’s remarks to Daniel total less than 250 words and the casual Bible student will find them to be cryptic and obscure. Although Gabriel’s words were few, they are packed with meaning. Since many people do not understand the architecture of Daniel (which was sealed up until the time of the end) or how the Jubilee Calendar works, many expositors have distorted and manipulated Gabriel’s words so that millions of Christians anticipate a series of prophetic events that will never occur. This is a horrible tragedy in the making. Bible prophecy is about to unfold in a way that is contrary to the views of millions of people, and when many Christians are disappointed, they will feel very bitter towards God and their religious leaders who mislead them.
Gabriel said “an answer” was given when Daniel began to pray, so what was Daniel’s question? A personal question had churned within Daniel’s heart for twelve years. Daniel wanted to understand the previous vision, because he was told during the vision of Daniel 8 that God’s people would be destroyed by the horn power from the north. This information was contrary to everything Daniel believed about Israel’s destiny. Remember Daniel’s mindset before he began to pray? (See my earlier commentary on Part I.) Daniel knew that God had selected the descendants of Abraham from among the nations of Earth to be trustees of the everlasting gospel. Daniel also understood that God had chosen Israel to be a light for the Gentiles. Israel was to show the world the way to God. Even more, Daniel knew that God had promised Abraham that his children would be as numerous as the stars of the sky when God established His kingdom on Earth. However, Daniel was disturbed that Israel was not included in any of the previous visions! Nothing was included about Israel in the visions of Daniel 2 or Daniel 7, and Daniel 8 indicates that God’s people would be destroyed by the horn power: “He [the horn power] will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.” (Daniel 8:24)
Daniel was a devout Jew and he had absorbed a very strong prophetic paradigm as he grew up. In Daniel’s mind there was no question that his people would play a prominent role when God set up His kingdom on Earth. Jewish culture instilled this prophetic destiny in every child from birth and Daniel was no exception. Daniel believed the Jewish nation would be exalted among the nations of the world as a kingdom of priests. (Exodus 19:3-7) However, reality produced a stark contrast in Daniel’s mind. Israel was not a kingdom of priests. Israel was once again a nation of prisoners in a foreign land, and to make matters worse, there was no reference in his previous visions to a glorious role for the Jews. In fact, it was the other way around. Daniel learned the horn would destroy “the holy people.” This information greatly distressed the elder statesman.
God is so wise in everything He does. He solved two problems with one action when He sent Gabriel to Daniel. First, God gave Daniel the information he wanted, although “the answer” was not what Daniel had hoped to hear. Second, God ordained that Gabriel’s words would be published so that future generations would know about His plans for Israel. God wanted Israel to know that His plans were much more inclusive than merely allowing the Jews to inhabit Jerusalem again. God wanted Israel to know that their restoration was deliberate and conditional. Israel would be given one last chance to accomplish the mission and purpose for which He had called them out of Egyptian slavery, and now, Babylonian captivity.
Gabriel said, “I have now come to give you insight and understanding [into the earlier vision]. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the [earlier] vision.” (Daniel 9:22-23, insertions mine) When Gabriel began to speak, the angel said nothing about Daniel’s prayer, that is, the imminent fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy and the release of Israel from Babylon. This is interesting because deliverance from Babylon was the focus of Daniel’s prayer. Instead of presenting details about deliverance from Babylon, Gabriel presented a sequence of events that integrated the nation of Israel into the earlier vision of Daniel 8. This sequence of events spans 527 years (457 B.C. – A.D. 70), and this span of time began during the time of the ram which Daniel saw in the previous vision. (Daniel 8)
Plan A – Plan B
In essence, Gabriel revealed “Plan B.” God had a back-up plan for Israel because Israel had irreparably ruined “Plan A” which was God’s original plan for the nation. A new generation of Jews were about to be freed from captivity to do God’s will. It is interesting to note how deliverance from Babylon parallels Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The first generation had to die because of rebellion before God could start with a new generation. According to Gabriel, God had much more planned for Israel than merely returning the Jews to Jerusalem. God wanted to establish His eternal kingdom on Earth within 500 years! This could be accomplished if Israel fulfilled certain terms and conditions. Consider the following paraphrase of Gabriel’s words (Daniel 9:24-27):
- Seventy weeks of probationary time are determined upon Israel to: a) finish the years allotted for sin on Earth, b) to bring in atonement for sin and establish everlasting righteousness, c) to seal up this vision and its predictions so that its contents might not be known, and d) to anoint the Messiah.
- From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah begins His ministry, there will be one Jubilee cycle of 49 years plus 62 weeks (434 years) for a total of 483 years.
- In the middle of the seventieth week, Messiah will be rejected by His people and be put to death. The execution of Messiah will confirm the unilateral covenant of salvation which God gave to Adam and Eve, and Messiah will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings required since the fall of Adam and Eve.
- After Jerusalem and the temple are rebuilt, they will be totally destroyed again because of rebellion.
- Wars and desolations have been decreed upon the Jews and Jerusalem until the end of time.
- The destroyer, Lucifer, will continue his deadly work until the end of time.
Gabriel’s statements are not difficult to understand if a person has a working knowledge of three subjects: 1) God’s use of unilateral and bilateral covenants with Adam and Eve, and Abraham and his descendants; 2) the operation of God’s Jubilee Calendar; and 3) what history reveals about the timing of Christ’s ministry on Earth. When these three matters are properly understood, the events predicted by Gabriel were fulfilled with a precision that is astonishing! Even more, history confirms the alignment of these events within the prophetic matrix that began unfolding in Daniel 2. (Note: A study on unilateral and bilateral covenants is found in Chapters 7 and 8 of my companion volume, Jesus, The Alpha and The Omega. A study on the operation of the Jubilee Calendar is found in my reference paper, Great Clocks from God.)
Now that we have some ideas about Gabriel’s comments, let us examine Gabriel’s six statements in detail:
Gabriel said, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24, KJV) Many Christians have heard about Daniel’s seventy weeks, but few have heard the truth about the seventy weeks. Many scholars claim that sixty-nine of the seventy weeks occurred long ago, but the seventieth week is still to come. This theory forces a large gap of many centuries between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week. It will be demonstrated that this gap is artificial and contrived. Inserting a gap of many centuries between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week is like inserting a gap of many days between Wednesday and Thursday. The continuum of time cannot be broken. The seventy weeks are seventy consecutive weeks. Before we complete this chapter, we will see that Jesus Himself confirms the seventy weeks are 490 consecutive years.
What Is a Week?
What did Gabriel mean when he said, “seventy weeks?” Why did God choose to measure time in weeks and not in years? God’s choice of words, as in “seventy weeks” is highly important but poorly understood because of a property called synchrony.
When God created the world, He established four great “clocks” for measuring time. The first clock was called a “day,” and the synchrony of a day is set at sundown. A day begins and ends at sundown. The second clock was called a “month,” and the synchrony of a month is set by a new moon. A month begins and ends with a new moon. The third clock was called a “year,” and the synchrony of a year is determined by the first new moon on or after the Spring Equinox. The fourth clock was a perpetual cycle of seven days called a “week,” and the synchrony of each week begins with the first day and ends with the seventh day. The first day of the week is always Sunday and the seventh day of the week is Saturday or God’s Sabbath of rest. In biblical terms, a week is not Wednesday through Tuesday. Wednesday through Tuesday is seven days, but not a week. A week is a perpetual cycle of time that remains aligned (or synchronous) with the seven days of Creation. (See Chart 6.1)
About 2,500 years after Creation, God added three more clocks to the four established at Creation. God imposed all seven clocks on Israel at the time of the Exodus so that Israel could accurately track the passage of time and seasons, and observe His feasts at the appointed time. (Exodus 12) The fifth clock was a “week of seven months.” The sixth clock was a “week of seven years,” and the seventh clock was a “week of seven weeks” or forty-nine years. The operation and synchrony of these seven clocks is marvelous. These clocks enabled the ancient Jews to measure the passage of time, and today they allow us to understand something about God’s larger timing and plans for Earth.
Seven Clocks from God
1. Day – sundown to sundown
2. Month – new moon to new moon
3. Year – first new moon on or after the Spring Equinox
4. Week – Sunday through Sabbath
5. Week of seven months – synchronized with the month of Nisan
6. Week of seven years – synchronized with the year of the Exodus
7. Week of seven weeks – synchronized with the year of the Exodus
When properly understood, these seven clocks produce a self-correcting calendar which remains properly coordinated with the Sun, moon and the four seasons. A self-correcting calendar is not a small feat when considering the complexity of measuring time via planetary motion. When Israel used God’s clocks, their measurement of time was never off by more than one day in any given month. If they happen to miscalculate the arrival of a new month, the error was easily corrected at the beginning of the following month.
You may have noticed that the three clocks God gave to Israel were based on a template of Creation’s weekly cycle. Because the weekly cycle was a template, the weekly cycle can be used to represent different periods of time by changing the scale of time. For example, a week of days and a week of years follow the same template, but the scale of time changes from days to years. Each clock has a special synchrony, that is, a specific alignment. For example, the weekly cycle is reset every Sunday because the Creation of the world began on Sunday. Similarly, “a week of seven years” aligns with “the Sunday year” of the Exodus (when this clock began to operate). “A week of seven weeks,” which amounts to forty-nine years, aligns with the Sunday year of the Exodus. (Leviticus 25:8) (See Charts 6.1-4.) We will discover that an understanding of these clocks and their synchrony is critical to understanding why God said, “seventy weeks.”
The Importance of Synchrony
Because each week starts and stops in perpetual alignment with Creation’s week, the weekly cycle has “synchrony” or alignment. God has placed great significance on the synchrony of the weekly cycles because the observance of His seventh-day Sabbath is tied to Creation. For example, God withheld manna on the seventh day of the week for forty years in the wilderness to ensure that everyone in Israel knew which day of the week aligned with His Sabbath rest at Creation. (Exodus 16)
Humanity cannot survive without knowing the synchrony of time. The alignment of the Sun with Earth determines the timing of our seasons. Certain crops are planted in the spring because they require a specific number of days of sunlight without frost, while other crops are planted in fall and winter because these plants need the rain and weather conditions necessary for survival during that time. If the human race did not know about the synchrony of the seasons, we would soon starve! If synchrony did not exist, one person could say that it was 4:35 p.m. on January 5, and at the same time, another person could say it was 2:21 a.m. on September 3 and no one could reasonably dispute either claim. For a person to know the time as well as the seasons, he must know about the rotation of Earth, the orbit of the moon around Earth, and the orbit of Earth around the Sun. For a clock to have practical value, it has to synchronize (and stay synchronized) with planetary motion. Otherwise, the information provided by a mechanical clock would mean nothing. Without synchrony, time cannot be measured. When we say this is year A.D. 2003, what do we mean? We mean it has been 2003 years since the birth of Christ (although this is not actually the case, but that’s another story). In other words, the Julian/Gregorian calendar is theoretically synchronized with the birth of Christ. When everyone uses the same synchrony of time, everyone knows that a 1954 Corvette is an antique car! With the importance of synchrony in mind, let us examine the three clocks that God created and gave to Israel at the time of the Exodus.
A Week of Seven Months
When God mandated that Israel observe six festivals during the course of a year, He gave them a religious calendar indicating when these feasts were to take place. This religious calendar consisted of a week of seven months (Nisan through Tishri). This religious year should not be confused with a full year of twelve months. (Exodus 23:16) Rather, Israel’s religious year is similar to a “school year,” which lasts for nine or ten months. During the religious year, God required Israel to observe six festivals. For example, Passover was observed on the fifteenth day of the first month and the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. (See Chart 6.2.) Understand that a religious year did not consist of any seven months. The religious year began on New Year’s Day (Nisan 1), and New Year’s Day was determined by the first new moon on or after the Spring Equinox. The religious year ended (depending on the position of the moon) six or seven days after the Feast of Tabernacles ended. At the time of the Exodus, the Jews often referred to months by number, although they sometimes used Canaanite names for the months. (Exodus 13:4) Centuries later, the Jews adopted Babylonian names for the months of the year. Therefore, Bible writers sometimes call the first month of the year Nisan which is taken from the Babylonian name Nisanu. (Nehemiah 2:1) The synchrony of Nisan 1 with the first new moon on or after the Spring Equinox forces Passover to occur in the spring and the Day of Atonement to occur in the fall of the year.
A Week of Seven Years
The week of seven years was based on the weekly template, too. Remember, synchrony does not allow a week to start and stop at random times. Likewise, a week of seven years cannot start with just any given year. The Sabbath year (the seventh year) was just as holy to the Lord (Leviticus 25:4) as was the seventh-day Sabbath. (Exodus 20:8-11; Jeremiah 34:13-17) Sabbath years were determined by counting from the year of the Exodus. Because the Jews were required to observe the feasts, they managed to keep track of time. (1 Kings 6:1) The Old and New Testaments demonstrate a perfect synchrony of Sabbatical years. (Isaiah 37:30; Jeremiah 34:14; Nehemiah 8:2,3; Deuteronomy 31:10,11; Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 3:1) At the beginning of the Sabbath year, God required all slaves to be set free and the land was to lay fallow and rest. (See Chart 6.3.)
A Week of Seven Weeks
A week of seven weeks equals forty-nine years. Study Chart 6.4 and notice how a week of weeks represents forty-nine years. (Leviticus 25:8) This calendar is called the Jubilee Calendar because the “year of Jubilee” was a special Sabbatical year that occurred after each forty-nine year cycle ended. The year of Jubilee was counted as the fiftieth year of the outgoing Jubilee cycle, but it was also counted as the first year of the incoming Jubilee cycle. (See Chart 6.4) Thus, the year of Jubilee always fell on a “Sunday” year. It may seem strange that the fiftieth year of the old Jubilee cycle and the first year of the new Jubilee cycle were the same year. This problem vanishes when one realizes this method of counting time parallels the count of days for the feast of Pentecost. The fiftieth day always fell on the first day of the week. (Leviticus 23:15,16) In other words, the only difference is that the count for Pentecost is in days and the count for the year of Jubilee is in years. The weekly template remains the same.
The Bible mentions one year of Jubilee. It took place during the fifteenth year (702 B.C.) of Hezekiah. (Isaiah 36:1; 37:30, see also 2 Kings 19:29) The year of Jubilee was consecrated on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement (near the end of the religious year). Consecration was delayed until the Day of Atonement because this gave the Israelites six full months into the year of Jubilee to make sure all property was returned to its rightful owner before the Day of Atonement took place.
The beauty of understanding the synchrony of these clocks begins to appear when one realizes that all Sabbath years and Jubilee years – forward and backward – can be easily calculated once a known year is located. For the sake of comparison, one could say that it is easy to calculate paydays – both past and future – when one knows what day of the week payday occurs and how often payday occurs! Synchrony makes this type of calculation possible.
Look at Chart 6.4 and count off nine years beginning with the Exodus year. You should see a Tuesday year, 1428 B.C. Now count off ten weeks of years from the Exodus year. What year falls in the middle of the tenth week? (1371 B.C.) Bear in mind, the ten weeks shown on Chart 6.4 are not part of the seventy weeks that Gabriel spoke about. Rather, these weeks mark the beginning of the “weekly clock” which God initiated at the Exodus. As we continue to examine the synchrony of time, it will become apparent that inserting a gap of time between days, weeks or years is impossible! When one year ends, another year begins. When one week of seven years ends, another week of seven years begins! When one Jubilee cycle of forty-nine years ends, a new Jubilee cycle begins! If these cycles are broken, the synchrony of the weekly cycle is destroyed and, without synchrony, time cannot be measured.
Why Seventy Weeks?
Gabriel said, “Seventy weeks are determined. . . .” Why did God deliberately choose the number “seventy weeks” as a measure of time in Daniel 9:24? We know that God is deliberate and purposeful in everything He does. He could have said, “Four hundred ninety years are determined upon your people. . . .” Instead, God chose to use the term “weeks” as the measurement of time in Daniel 9 instead of “years,” because weeks have a synchrony that years do not have! We know that God initiated weeks of years at the Exodus because He required the land to lay fallow during the Sabbath year! This fact produces a key point: The seventy weeks of Daniel 9 cannot begin with just any year. God used the word “weeks” because the seventy weeks began with a Sunday year which aligns with the year of the Exodus. Remember, a week of days always begins with Sunday and a week of seven years always begins with a Sunday year and ends with a Sabbatical year. When God determined “seventy weeks” of years on Israel, He gave Israel a tremendous hint to identify the specific decree that would start the seventy weeks! Gabriel’s words were not intended to be mysterious or secret! Review Chart 6.4 again and notice that a week of years always begins with a Sunday year and that “weeks of years” are always synchronous with the year of the Exodus.
When God sentenced Israel into captivity in Babylon, He did it for a specific period of time. “This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:11) It is interesting that God said seventy years in Jeremiah’s prophecy instead of saying ten weeks. (Ten weeks of seven years equals seventy years.) God’s use of “years” instead of “weeks” in Jeremiah’s prophecy reflects the fact that the Babylonian captivity did not start in a Sunday year. The seventy years of Babylonian captivity began in 605 B.C., which is a Sabbath year! Therefore, the seventy years in Babylon cannot be called ten weeks of years. This feature, incidentally, unlocks a mystery about the 2,300 days in Daniel 8:14. The 2,300 days (or evenings and mornings) amount to 328 weeks plus five days (counting inclusively). Even though the 2,300 evenings and mornings began at the same time as the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 (the decree of Artaxerxes in the Sunday year of 457 B.C.), the 2,300 days are expressed in units of days instead of units of weeks because it takes 2,303 days to make 329 weeks! Since 2,300 days do not equal 329 weeks, God described this time-period using days.
In Chapter 1, remember that seven appears to be God’s signature: there are seven days of the week, seven continents, seven colors in the rainbow, seven churches in Revelation, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, etc. If seven is God’s signature, then seventy (ten times seven) must have prominence, too. I believe the number seventy suggests the fullness of God’s patience with rebellion. For example, God waited until Israel had violated seventy Sabbath years before sending them into Babylonian captivity. The violation of seventy Sabbath years explains why the captivity in Babylon lasted seventy years. (Leviticus 26:34,25; 2 Chronicles 36:21) Likewise, the seventy weeks granted to Israel in Daniel 9 reflect the limits of God’s patience with Israel’s rebellion. This makes me wonder if there is also a correlation to man’s life being approximately seventy years. (Psalm 90:10)
You may recall the following text: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21,22) This verse is not translated as it should be. When Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus did not respond with a numerical count (70 x 7 = 490), Jesus responded with a much larger concept, the idea of seventy sevens. To the Jewish mind, seventy sevens referred to the seventy weeks of unmerited grace given to Israel in Daniel 9. Jesus told Peter that he was to forgive his brother as God had forgiven Israel! In other words, forgiveness was not a numerical total, it was an attitude.
God’s signature of seven and the number ten have an important relationship throughout the Bible. For example, God deliberately put the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. (10/7) This annual event on the tenth day of the seventh month marked the end of mercy in the camp of Israel. All sins had to be transferred to the temple before the Day of Atonement arrived. Because everyone knew when the Day of Atonement occurred, every Israelite knew the limits of God’s mercy, and it ended with the arrival of the tenth day of the seventh month.
The great red dragon in Revelation 12 has ten horns and seven heads. (10/7) The dragon-like beast (or composite beast) in Revelation 13 also has ten horns and seven heads. (10/7) This strange anatomy indicates the fullness of rebellion against God during the Great Tribulation! The seven heads represent seven false religions of the world, and the ten horns represent ten kings who will rule with the Antichrist for a short period of time. (Revelation 17:12)
One more point about the number seventy should be considered: The duration of sin appears to last for seventy centuries or a week of seven millenniums. (7/10) If this is true, the one thousand years of Revelation 20 could be a Sabbatical rest from sin for planet Earth. God will destroy sin with fire at the end of seventy centuries. God foreknew how long He would allow sin to exist – even before sin began. My study has convinced me that the number seventy indicates the limits of God’s patience with rebellion, and this is why Gabriel told Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined upon your people. . . .” With this vision, God put the nation of Israel on notice that His patience with them as a nation was limited to seventy more weeks, beginning with a specific decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem that would occur during a Sunday year.
Seventy Weeks Make a Statement
When He defined the probationary time for the Jews as “seventy weeks,” God informed the Jews of three things: First, God acknowledged the presence and operation of the weekly cycle of years that He had established at the time of the Exodus. (Leviticus 25:1-4) Weeks of years did not suddenly begin during or after the Babylonian captivity. Second, when God said, “Seventy weeks are determined. . . ,” He forced the decree and the first year of the seventy weeks to align with a Sunday year, because a week of years always begins with a Sunday year! Last, when God indicated that Messiah would cause sacrifices and offerings to cease in the middle of the seventieth week, He affirmed that His calendar would continue to operate after Jesus died on the cross. This is a key point that many people overlook: God’s calendar could not cease to operate when Jesus died because He died in the middle of the seventieth week! If the week of years ended at the cross, as many scholars claim, then the seventy-weeks prophecy would have been stated as a 69 ½-weeks prophecy, not as a seventy-week prophecy!
Work with Me!
I call God’s objectives for the seventy weeks “Plan B.” Israel was in captivity because it had ruined “Plan A.” If the new Israel cooperated with God, He would bring an end to sin and establish His kingdom on Earth at the end of the seventy weeks. If Israel failed to cooperate, God promised to destroy Jerusalem and displace Israel with a “new” Israel, starting over again. One might call the next plan, “Plan C.” Remember Gabriel’s words: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24, KJV) The objectives presented in this verse are very similar to the objectives God gave Israel (“Plan A”) before entering the Promised Land, but the essential difference is timing. In Daniel 9:24, God declared that He was ready to bring in everlasting righteousness within 490 years of a particular decree! Talk about excitement! Of course, God’s objectives could only be met if Israel allowed the Holy Spirit to have dominion in the hearts of the majority of its citizens. God said, “Work with me and see what I will do through you!” If Israel had cooperated with Him, God would have accomplished four amazing things:
- The nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem would have risen from its ashes and flourished above all nations as an example of God’s redemption. (God gave numerous prophecies about Israel’s restoration and prominent role to Daniel’s contemporary, Ezekiel. If Israel had cooperated with God, the prophecies of Ezekiel would have been fulfilled. This is a key point that will be discussed further at the end of this chapter, because this point is connected to the 2,300-days prophecy.) Israel’s redemption and release from captivity were to be a pattern of salvation, giving hope to all nations of the world that God would redeem everyone and free them from the captivity of sin and rebellion if they loved Him. The exciting news which God gave to Daniel was that all this could occur within seventy weeks of years. Think of it! God had allotted the remaining time for sin and rebellion on Earth to be a mere 490 years, but only if Israel cooperated! It is such a tragedy to discover that each generation in Israel cared less and less about this amazing opportunity as the 490 years rolled by.
- God promised to send His Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, and offer Him up for sin within 490 years. The Savior of the world would appear, and He would die in the middle year of the seventieth week. Afterwards, Jesus would usher in everlasting righteousness, but only if Israel cooperated.
- If Israel cooperated with God, they would have the privilege of anointing “The Most Holy.” The term, “anointing the most holy,” is a Hebraic concept that refers to anointing the most holy officer in Israel, the high priest. (Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 8:30) Even though Israel had long anticipated the birth of Messiah (the word Messiah means the Anointed One), God told Israel they would have the privilege of anointing the Messiah! Tragically, He came unto His own and His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11) So, the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus at His baptism. (Mark 1:10; Luke 4:18)
- The fourth objective was an amazing promise. If Israel cooperated, God promised to seal up this vision and all the other prophecies in the book of Daniel, because these prophecies would not come to pass. In other words, if the new Israel cooperated with God so that “Plan B” could be fulfilled, the course of human history would unfold as promised under the original plan. This is a very important point to understand. Once implemented, Daniel’s prophecies become unconditional. This means they are not subject to man’s cooperation to be fulfilled. The Rock in Daniel 2 will hit the ten kings and destroy them. The little horn power of Daniel 7 would appear and persecute the saints. The goat would overrun the ram in Daniel 8, etc. The point is that if the new Israel cooperated with God, He would seal up these visions and prophecies given to Daniel, and their contents would never be known or implemented. Notice what God is doing. God spoke to Ezekiel at the same time He spoke to Daniel, and God promised a grand and glorious future for Israel if they would cooperate with Him. The prophecies of Ezekiel were conditional. Israel would be marvelously blessed if they chose to cooperate with God. However, if Israel did not cooperate, then Daniel’s visions and prophecies would be fulfilled. You must see this larger picture of what God is doing to appreciate the contrasting messages that God sent to Daniel and Ezekiel.
Always Starting Over
These four objectives have profound significance, because they show God’s intentions if Israel would cooperate with Him. The prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and other prophets pointed to a grand fulfillment of “Plan A.” Unfortunately, Israel did not cooperate. Therefore, God destroyed His temple, people and city. After seventy years in Babylon, God offered a new Israel “Plan B,” promising to fulfill it within 490 years! It is hard to believe, but the new Israel failed, too. They rejected God and they rejected God’s Son. (Luke 20:9-19; John 1; Romans 9-11) Therefore, God destroyed His temple, people and city a final time in A.D. 70. (There’s another seventy – A.D. 70!) Mercifully, God started again with “Plan C.” Under this plan, God redefined Israel. Israel includes anyone who will believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2, Galatians 3) Under “Plan C” there is a new covenant that is even better than the former covenant.
If I were to identify the primary reason for so much prophetic confusion among Christians today, it would have to be this: Scholars are still trying to figure out ways for God to fulfill the many Old Testament prophecies that belong to “Plan A” and “Plan B.” However, these scholars are wasting their efforts because God has implemented “Plan C.” Instead of looking forward to a rebuilt temple in old Jerusalem, we should be looking forward to the New Jerusalem that comes from God out of Heaven. The exciting news is that there will be no temple in the New Jerusalem because the Father and the Lamb will be among their people. (Revelation 21:2,22) Think about this: If Israel had cooperated with God during the 490 years, there would have been no need for a Second Coming. Nowhere in the Old Testament, other than in the book of Daniel, is there a mention of a Second Coming. Instead, God would have established His kingdom on Earth at the end of the 490 years! Sin would have ended and everlasting righteousness would have begun.
Back to Gabriel’s Statements, Numbers 2 and 3
“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.” (Daniel 9:25)
Four decrees were issued for the restoration of Jerusalem. Cyrus gave the first decree in the Friday year of 536 B.C. (Ezra 1) Darius gave the second decree in the Monday year of 519 B.C. (Ezra 6) Artexerxes gave the third and fourth decrees in the Sunday year of 457 and the Sabbath year of 444 B.C. (Ezra 7 and Nehemiah 2, respectively) Remember that God used the word “weeks” instead of years to indicate the synchrony for this all important decree with His weekly cycle of years established at the Exodus. In verse 25, Gabriel adds another specification that identifies which of the four decrees God will use to count off the seventy weeks: “From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘weeks’ and sixty-two ‘weeks. . . .’” With these words, Gabriel points to the public ministry of Messiah. Gabriel used seven weeks and sixty-two weeks to highlight the all important synchrony of a decree that would occur in a Sunday year and at the beginning of a Jubilee cycle of seven weeks. (See Chart 6.5) By separating the 69 weeks into two smaller pieces – the first of which was a Jubilee cycle, God was doing everything He could to help Israel identify the right decree. Notice how this works: In verse 24, God points to a decree that occurs on a Sunday year by using the words “seventy weeks.” (Weeks always begin with a Sunday year.) In verse 25, God indicates the decree will occur at the beginning of “seven weeks” or 49 years. A seven-week cycle is a Jubilee cycle of forty-nine years and it always begins with a Sunday year. Only one of the four decrees meets this specification. The decree in 457 B.C. occurred in a Sunday year, which also happens to start a new cycle of seven weeks (Jubilee cycle). Incidently, if 457 B.C. is a Jubilee year, so is 702 B.C., the only Jubilee year mentioned in the Bible. (Isaiah 37:30) God used language so plain that wise men from Ur figured it out! However, the religious leaders in Jerusalem never did figure it out. Religion can be so blinding.
My reference paper, Great Clocks from God, discusses the year of the Exodus (1437 B.C.) and many other issues that accompany this topic. For this study, just consider the possibility that 457 B.C. is a Sunday year and 457 B.C. is the first year of a Jubilee cycle. From the Bible we learn that on or about the very first day of the very first month of the year of Jubilee (Nisan 1), King Artaxerxes issued a decree providing for the refurbishing of Jerusalem and its temple. (Ezra 7) We also know that Ezra left Babylon with the decree in his hand on Nisan 12, the twelfth day of the first month! (Ezra 8:31)
Look at Chart 6.5 and count off the “seven weeks” which Gabriel mentioned (457 – 409 B.C.). Notice that first week of the “sixty-two weeks” Gabriel mentioned began with 408 B.C., and if this chart extended long enough, the 69th week would end with the Sabbath year of A.D. 26. Notice that 457 B.C. is both a Sunday year and a Year of Jubilee. (Remember, the Year of Jubilee is the fiftieth year of the old Jubilee cycle, and it is also the first year of the new Jubilee cycle.) None of the other decrees to restore and rebuild Jerusalem can satisfy the synchrony that God indicates in Daniel 9. Therefore, none of the other decrees can meet the “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” requirement that Gabriel specified. If this information does not convince the reader, history proves these three decrees cannot meet the Daniel 9 specifications either. Here’s how:
If 457 B.C. is the correct decree and it marks the beginning of the seventy weeks, then we should expect the appearing of Messiah “seven and sixty-two weeks later” (69 x 7 = 483 years), in the Sunday year of A.D. 27. History precisely confirms this to be the case! Jesus waited until His thirtieth birthday, which occurred in the Fall of A.D. 27., to begin His ministry. Notice how Luke documents the year of Jesus’ baptism: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene. . . . The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.” (Luke 3:1,15) Have you wondered why people thought John the Baptist might be the Christ? I believe some people were expecting Christ because they knew that 483 years had lapsed since the decree of Artaxerxes. The year had come for the Messiah to appear and John the Baptist, a forerunner of Messiah, was attracting a lot of attention because the power of the Holy Spirit rested on him. (Luke 1:17) Within this context Luke wrote, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. . . .” (Luke 3:21-23)
Tiberius and A.D. 27
Some scholars claim that the fifteenth year of Tiberius cannot be A.D. 27., but it was the fifteenth year for the Jews! The Romans did not date Caesar’s rule with regnal years. Rather, the official count of years in Roman service was determined by the years Tiberius held tribunician power. Therefore, A.D. 27 would have been the 33rd or 34th year of Tiberius’ tribunician power (Tiberius was granted power as a member of the tribune in 6 B.C.). I raise this point because Luke dates the fifteenth year of Tiberius according to Jewish tradition, not Roman tradition. The fifteenth year of Tiberius, according to Jewish tradition, began in the fall of A.D. 27. Here’s how:
History says that on August 19, A.D. 14, Augustus died. Tiberius maneuvered the Senate for a few weeks and did not allow it to name him emperor for almost a month. On September 17, A.D. 14, Tiberius became the emperor of Rome at age 56. Because this is what history says, we find that Luke follows the Jewish tradition of inclusive dating. This means Luke counted the ascension year of Tiberius as “year 1,” even though the ascension year was just a few days in length before a new civil year began on Tishri 1. Josephus also followed this practice when he dated the reigns of the Herods. (Antiquities xv. 5.2; xvii. 8.1) The Mishnah further confirms this method of Jewish regnal reckoning. (Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1.1)
During the time of Christ, the Jews observed a fall-to-fall civil calendar. The first month of this calendar was the seventh month of their religious year. It was called Tishri. Therefore, Tiberius ascended to the throne on September 17, A.D. 14, during a Jewish civil year that ended about a month later (October 12, A.D. 14.) So, Luke counted September 17 to October 12 as “year 1” because Tiberius, counting inclusively, ascended to the throne that year. Therefore, the Jews regarded the following civil year Tishri 1 to Tishri 1 (October 12, A.D. 14 to October 3, A.D. 15), as the second year of Tiberius’ reign. (See Chart 6.6.)
Luke’s Account: The Reign of Tiberius Caesar
Year 2 = A.D. 14/15 (Tishri 1 to Tishri 1)
Year 3 = A.D. 15/16 (Tishri 1 to Tishri 1)
Year 4 = A.D. 16/17 Etc.
Year 5 = A.D. 17/18
Year 6 = A.D. 18/19
Year 7 = A.D. 19/20
Year 8 = A.D. 20/21
Year 9 = A.D. 21/22
Year 10 = A.D. 22/23
Year 11 = A.D. 23/24
Year 12 = A.D. 24/25
Year 13 = A.D. 25/26
Year 14 = A.D. 26/27
Year 15 = A.D. 27/28
Chart 6.6 shows Tishri 1 to Tishri 1 (October 19, A.D. 27 through November 6, A.D. 28) as the 15th year of Tiberius. According to Roman dating, Jewish reckoning and Luke’s report, Jesus was baptized in the fall of A.D. 27, sometime after Tishri 1. (The length of Christ’s public ministry on Earth was almost 32 months.) Just as Gabriel predicted, Jesus arrived at the banks of the Jordan River where John baptized Him. Jesus began His public ministry in the Sunday year of A.D. 27, which is the first year of the seventieth week! This is not the end of the story. Two additional facts from history confirm this synchrony of the Jubilee Calendar. In short, God’s timing is astonishing.
The Wise Men
The story of Jesus’ birth includes a surprising visit by the Magi from the East. Many people do not realize the Magi were careful students of prophecy. Scholars believe they were clergymen from Ur, in the province of Babylon. Evidently, they had discovered and deeply studied Daniel’s writings, as well as other books of the Old Testament. The Magi understood that priests and kings in Israel were typically thirty years of age when they ascended to authority. (Numbers 4; Genesis 41:46; 1 Samuel 13:1; 2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Chronicles 23:3) Using this information, they determined when the sixty-nine weeks would end. Then, they subtracted thirty years from that calculation to determine the year of Messiah’s birth. When they saw the star appear in the heavens, they knew it was a sign from God.
Think about it. Their round-trip journey to see baby Jesus required them to travel more than a thousand miles over a period of a year. The intensity of their desire to see the Messiah was obvious. Their lavish gifts for baby Jesus reveals a love for God that few Jews could understand. (The gifts from the Magi financially sustained Mary, Joseph and Jesus during their exile in Egypt when they escaped Herod’s decree to kill all baby boys less than two years of age.) Wise men do not go to these extremes on a whim. Like Simeon and Anna (the elderly prophets of Israel who longed to see Messiah before they died), the wise men longed to see the Savior of the world with their own eyes. Their visit was a powerful affirmation that the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. is the correct decree for starting the 483-year countdown. Consider their question to King Herod: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2) They were not questioning whether the king of the Jews had been born. They were wanting to know where He had been born. Perhaps they did not have access to Micah’s writings. If they did, they could have gone directly to Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) Their presence in Jerusalem at just the right time suggests they understood Daniel 9, since no other prophecy in the Bible pinpoints the time of Messiah’s birth.
How could mere “Gentiles” from a distant land be better informed on the timing of Messiah’s appearing than Jewish scholars? How did the Samaritan woman at the well know Messiah’s coming was near. She anticipated the appearing of the Messiah because she said: “. . . I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming . . . when he comes, he will explain everything to us.” (John 4:25) The answer is simple. Centuries earlier, the Lord had said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Unfortunately, Jewish scholars were not looking for Jesus. They were caught up in their tiny world of pseudo-scholarship. They had nit-picked the Word of God into so many senseless pieces, they could no longer see the big picture. Even though the religious leaders discussed and debated the prophecies of Daniel between themselves, they could not understand Gabriel’s words. Ironically, the same situation appears to be true today. Scholars still twist and distort Gabriel’s words. Unfortunately, they have led millions of people to anticipate a non-existent pre-tribulation rapture by tampering with the seventy weeks.
Jesus Died in the Middle of the Seventieth Week!
God’s timing is incredibly perfect. Let us review the facts. First, 457 B.C. aligns with the weekly cycle of years that began operating at the Exodus in 1437 B.C. Second, 457 B.C. aligns with the forty-nine year Jubilee cycles that began operating at the Exodus. Third, Messiah appeared sixty-nine weeks after 457 B.C., in A.D. 27, to be baptized by John the Baptist. Fourth, 457 B.C. was affirmed by the wise men shortly after Jesus was born. The fifth and best proof that the 457 B.C. decree is the one indicated in Daniel 9, is the timing of Jesus’ death. Basically, Jesus began His ministry on time and He died on time. The death of Jesus not only confirms the synchrony of the Jubilee Calendar, it also confirms the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. to be the right decree. Paul was aware of this phenomenon: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law . . . You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Galatians 4:4; Romans 5:6, italics mine)
Gabriel’s Statement Number 3
Gabriel said, “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. . . . He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the [last] ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” (Daniel 9:26,27, insertion mine) Look ahead to Chart 6.7. Notice how A.D. 30 is located in the middle of the seventieth week of years. Of course, Christians have no question that Jesus confirmed the covenant that God first gave to Adam and Eve, as well as Abraham and his descendants. There should be no doubt in any mind that He put an end to animal sacrifices and ceremonial offerings when He died on the cross. (Colossians 2) Yet, very few Christians realize that Daniel predicted Jesus’ death and Jesus fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy when he died in the middle of the seventieth week!
Look again at Chart 6.7. Counting from the decree of Artaxerxes, notice that A.D. 30 is in the middle of the seventieth week. Notice also that A.D. 30 occurs in the middle of the 210th week counting from the Exodus in 1437 B.C. Notice that the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 began at the beginning of the 141st week (or 987 years) since the Exodus, and also notice that the seventieth week terminates 210 weeks of years, which is exactly thirty Jubilee cycles since the Exodus.
Counting Weeks from the Exodus (1437 B.C.) and the Decree of Artaxerxes (457 B.C.)
Proving A.D. 30 is the Year of Christ’s Death
Daniel 9:27 says, “. . . In the middle of the ‘seven’ [or week] he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” Gabriel said that Jesus would die in the middle year of the seventieth week. (See Chart 6.7.) Since we know that Jesus died at the time of Passover (John 12), and since there is widely accepted astronomical data for A.D. 30 that is accurate to within two hours, there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable debate that Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 7, A.D. 30. (There is another signature seven in April 7!) If we allow Bible history and the synchrony of God’s Great Clocks to resolve the question of the time of His death, all of the data presented in the Gospels concerning Christ’s passion week harmoniously fits together. In fact, A.D. 30 exclusively satisfies the synchrony required by all seven clocks which the Creator devised! A.D. 30 is the only year during which all of the events described in Scripture could have occurred.
How Israel Measured Time
The Jews normally measured time inclusively. Any part of a year, month or day counted as a whole unit. Remember how Tiberius came to power about two months before Tishri 1 (the beginning of a new Jewish civil year), but Luke counted those two months as a whole year. (Luke 3:1) Similarly, if someone came to your home on Tuesday and left on Wednesday, the ancients would measure the time your guest visited in your home to be two days and two nights – Tuesday and Wednesday – even though the actual time was less than twenty-four hours. Because a day consists of a dark portion and a light portion, any part of two days was called “two days and two nights.” This inclusive method for measuring time explains how Jesus could be dead for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40), even though the Bible says the Father resurrected Jesus on – not after – the third day (Acts 10:40), which was Sunday, the first day of the week. (John 20:1-5) Using inclusive reckoning, Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights: Friday, Sabbath and Sunday. However, He was slain on Friday afternoon, rested in the Tomb on Sabbath and resurrected on Sunday. The number of hours that Jesus was dead was less than forty hours (two hours on Friday afternoon, twenty-four hours on Sabbath and ten to twelve hours on Sunday). The timing of this matter can be demonstrated beyond the point of reasonable controversy!
One more point about inclusive measurement of time. Eighteen prophetic time periods are in Daniel and Revelation’s seventeen prophecies, and from God’s perspective, all of them use inclusive reckoning. The decree by Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. occurs during the first year of the seventy weeks; therefore, the year of the decree is included in the count of 490 years. (See Chart 6.7.) The time period of forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness was measured with inclusive reckoning. (Deuteronomy 2:14; Numbers 14:34) The three days allotted to Pharaoh’s cupbearer was measured with inclusive reckoning. (Genesis 40:12,13)
One Moon – Two Months
History says the Jews abandoned God’s “new moon” synchrony for determining the beginning of a new month. In its place, they adopted the Babylonian method of sighting the first crescent of a new moon to determine the beginning of a month. Even today, Jews and Moslems continue the practice of sighting a new moon to determine the beginning of a religious month. God’s synchrony for starting a new month is based on calculation, not observation. A new moon occurs when the moon crosses an imaginary line between Earth and the Sun. Since a new moon cannot be seen (the moon is between Earth and the Sun), the time of conjunction has to be calculated. Calculation of a new moon is not difficult. (See Numbers 28:14; 1 Samuel 20:24-27; Isaiah 66:23.) Of course, when two different methods for starting a given month are used, there are two different results. The difference between these two methods is usually two days. The sighting of the new crescent of a moon occurs in Jerusalem anywhere between sixteen to forty hours after conjunction. Because there are two methods for starting a new month (thus, two calendars) in the New Testament, there is confusion about the timing of Christ’s death.
The Bible indicates that Jesus and His disciples (and other Jews) observed Passover according to the “new moon” calendar, even though the nation of Israel observed its corporate Passover according to the Babylonian method for starting a new month. (Mark 14; John 13) Since the moon determines the first day of the month for both groups of people, the position of the moon plays an important role in determining the date for Passover. God commanded the Passover lamb to be slain on Nisan 14 as the day was ending, and after roasting the lamb for a few hours, it was to be eaten at midnight on the fifteenth day of the first month. The Lord passed over Egypt at midnight on the fifteenth of Nisan. (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:5,6; Numbers 28:16,17; Luke 22:1-8) Therefore, any attempt to determine a date and time for the death of Jesus has to address the astronomical position of a new moon for Nisan 1, as well as the first sighting of the crescent of a new moon.
After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews often observed two Feasts of Passover in the same month. This conflict (and many other contradictory issues) gave the Romans another reason to mock the Jews. Even as late as the fourth century A.D., the emperor Constantine used the competing observance of two Passovers to prove that Christians should not depend upon the Jews to determine the correct time for Passover (the observance of Easter was determined by the time for Passover in those days). Notice his denigrating comments: “We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Savior has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course; and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast [of Easter at the proper time]. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Savior, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusions may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for in their blindness and repugnance to all improvement, they frequently celebrate two Passovers in the same year.” (Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib iii., 18-20, insertions mine)
Two Passovers in One Week!
When Jesus came to Earth, He came to declare the truth on many issues which the Jews had distorted. The presence of two calendars (and two Passovers) in Israel solves an interesting mystery, namely, how Jesus could observe Passover at its appointed time with His disciples in the upper room (on Nisan 15 – Mark 14:14-16), and within the same year, also die at the time of the national Passover which took place on Nisan 15 (John 19:14-31)! The solution to this mystery is quite simple. Jesus and His disciples observed Passover in the upper room according to God’s synchrony for the month (new moon to new moon), but Jesus died on the cross according to the Babylonian method of starting a new month (the sighting of the first crescent of a new moon)! Since the observance of two calendars was a common part of Jewish life, Gospel writers do not specifically mention that two conflicting calendars existed. For two thousand years, this silence has caused a lot of controversy over the day and date of Christ’s death. I hope the following explanation eliminates the confusion surrounding the time of Christ’s death.
Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon, April 7, A.D. 30, which is the precise year required by Daniel 9! Even though most Christians accept A.D. 30 as the year of Christ’s death, few understand that it is in the middle of the seventieth week and even fewer understand how this date is determined.
Solar and lunar tables posted at the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) website offer astronomical data covering the years Jesus was on Earth. This data has been carefully verified by several astronomers through the years and is accurate to within one or two hours. The dates and times from the USNO are given in Universal Time. Notice the date of the equinox and the time of conjunction for years A.D. 29-31, especially notice the days of the week:
A.D. 29 Vernal Equinox: Tuesday, March 22, 4 p.m.
According to the dates and times published by the USNO, a new moon occurred on the same night as the Equinox in A.D. 30. (Jerusalem local time for the new moon was 8 p.m. and for the Equinox, midnight.) Since a new moon and the Equinox occurred on the same day, a new month and a new year began on Wednesday night, March 22, Universal Time. Converting Universal Time to Bible Time: Wednesday night, March 22 becomes Thursday, March 23 and Nisan 1. This translation is necessary because a day in God’s calendar begins at sundown. (Genesis 1; Leviticus 23:32) Notice in the New Moon calendar (Chart 6.8) that New Year’s day (Nisan 1) occurred on Thursday and Passover (Nisan 15) occurred on a Thursday in A.D. 30.
New Moon Calendar
Jesus Ate Passover Thursday Night (April 6), Nisan 15, A.D. 30
If Jesus and His disciples observed Passover according to the new moon calendar, Chart 6.8 indicates that Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover together on Thursday night at midnight. (Remember, in God’s calendar the night precedes the light.) We know that God required the Jews to slay the Passover lamb near sundown on Nisan 14. (Exodus 12:6) In this case, the disciples killed the paschal lamb about sundown on Wednesday afternoon and they roasted it until about midnight on Thursday, Nisan 15. Jesus and His disciples then celebrated the Passover, for it was at midnight that the Lord passed over Egypt. (Exodus 11:4) Take a few moments and study the Passion Week Outline. Notice how each of the gospel writers describe the course of events in their order:
The Passion Week Calendar
C=Creation Calendar B = Babylonian Calendar
(Observed by Jesus) (Observed by the Jews)
Nisan 11, 9 Sunday night
– Jesus arrived in Bethany (John 12:1)
Nisan 12, 10 Monday night
– Mary washed Jesus’ feet at Simon’s house (Mark 14:1)
– Jesus went to the temple, publicly rebukes the leaders of Israel (Matt 23)
– Jesus went to Mount of Olives – predicted end of Jerusalem and world (Matt 24,25)
– Judas went to the chief priests offering to condemn Jesus (Mark 14:10, Luke 22:1)
– Chief priests held meeting to accept the offer of Judas to condemn Jesus (Matt 26:3-5)
Nisan 13, 11 Tuesday night
– Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey
Nisan 14,12 Wednesday night
– Disciples made preparations for Passover meal (Mark 14:12, Matt 26:17)
Nisan 15, 13 Thursday night
– Jesus ate Passover at midnight with disciples (Mark 14:17,18)
– Jesus predicted His betrayal (Matt 26:20,21)
– Jesus eager to eat this Passover before He suffered (Luke 22:15)
April 6, A.D. 30
– Judas left room after midnight meal to betray
Jesus (John 13:30)
– At daybreak, they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives (Matt 26:30)
– Jesus spent all day talking to the disciples. (John 13:36-16:33)
– Jesus predicted the scattering of the disciples (Matt 26:31,32)
– Jesus prayed for His disciples. (John 17)
Nisan 16,14 Friday night
– Jesus took Peter, James and John into Gethsemane. (Matt 26:36)
– Jesus betrayed and arrested . (Luke 22:44-47)
– Peter denied knowing Jesus. (Luke 22:60,61)
– Jesus taken before the chief priests and elders. (Luke 22:66, Matt 27:1)
– Jesus taken to Caiaphas then to Pilate.
– Jesus taken to Herod and sent back to Pilate. (Luke 23:7,12)
– Pilate offered to release a prisoner to Jews for goodwill. (John 18:39)
– Jesus crucified about the third hour. (9 am)
April 7, A.D. 30
– Darkness covered the land from noon to 3 pm. (Mark 15:33, 34)
– Jesus died about the ninth hour. (3 pm)
– Jesus’ body was not prepared because Sabbath was so close. (Luke 23:55)
– Jews asked Pilate to have the bodies removed for Passover (John 19:31)
Nisan 17,15 Sabbath night
– National Passover feast eaten at midnight.
– Disciples mourned, chief priests worried that Jesus’ body might be stolen.
– Chief priests asked Pilate to seal the tomb to prevent theft. (Matt 27:62)
Nisan 18,16 Sunday night
– Disciples hid for fear of Jewish leaders.
– Mary and Mary go to the tomb near sunrise. Empty! (Mark 16:1)
– Afternoon: Jesus walked with Cleopas and a friend to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13)
Mark 14:16 clearly indicates that Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples before going to His death. The sequence of events went like this: Jesus ate the Passover on Thursday night. On Thursday (the light part of Thursday follows the night part of Thursday) Jesus spent the day with His disciples on the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:26) As Friday night settled upon them, Jesus and three disciples went into the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mark 14:32) Jesus was arrested that night while in the garden. His trial began that night and lasted until morning on Friday. He was crucified about 9 a.m. and died around 3 p.m. (Mark 15:25, 34) About the time Jesus expired, the Jews celebrated the slaying of the national Passover lamb at the temple, and to their astonishment, the veil was torn from top to bottom by unseen hands. The Jews hurried home from the temple to kill their own Passover lambs so that they could observe the feast at midnight (Nisan 15). Remember, Sabbath night comes before Sabbath light, so the Jews ate Passover on Sabbath night (or Friday night).
The Bible does not indicate anything unusual about Jesus eating Passover or beginning the Feast of Unleavened Bread at a time that was not in harmony with the national Passover. (Compare Matthew 26:17 with Mark 14:12.) The Bible also does not offer any justification for killing the Passover lamb on late Wednesday afternoon and eating the Passover on Thursday night, even though the national Passover lamb was killed two days later on Friday. This silence is for two reasons. First, the dating of the Passover was a common conflict, one of many conflicts among religious sects in Israel; therefore, a discussion about the presence of two calendars is not included in the gospels. Second, the gospel writers did not attempt to include for our understanding everything that was common knowledge in their day. However, with a little background investigation, we find that John dated the Passion week of Jesus with the Babylonian Calendar (John 12) and Mark used the new moon calendar. (Mark 14) This explains why there is an apparent conflict between some of the things Mark and John wrote. Once we understand which calendar they are using, the writings of Mark and John are in perfect harmony.
The Bible clearly indicates two Passovers were celebrated during the year that Jesus was crucified. It would be blasphemous to assert the Creator did not know the true time for Passover. Actually, Jesus’ actions affirm what is Truth, for He is the Truth. (John 14:6) Jesus correctly observed Passover with His disciples in the upper room on Thursday night, the 15th day of Nisan – using God’s synchrony for determining monthly cycles (conjunction). The Creator’s actions perfectly synchronize with the instructions that Moses recorded in Exodus 12. The timing of the new moon (the USNO tables) and the testimony of the gospel writers confirm it!
History reveals the Jewish nation synchronized Nisan 1, with the sighting of the first crescent of a new moon at the time of Christ . (Incidently, this practice has not changed since the time of Christ.) Depending on the visibility afforded by weather and the position of the Sun and the orbit of the moon, the first sighting of the crescent of a new moon in Jerusalem occurs between sixteen and forty hours after conjunction. Since it is impossible to precisely determine when the crescent of a new moon was sighted in A.D. 30, we have to let Bible facts help put the pieces together. The following facts help to determine the correct date: 1) since the sighting of the new moon crescent usually occurs two days after a new moon; 2) since Jesus was arrested on the night after He ate the Passover with His disciples; and 3) since the Jews observed Nisan 15 on a seventh-day Sabbath the year of Christ’s death (John 19:14-31), these facts indicate Nisan 1 (using the Babylonian calendar) had to occur on Sabbath (March 25), and the death of Jesus occurred on Nisan 14, which was Friday, April 7.
Jesus Was Crucified Friday (April 7), Nisan 14, A.D. 30
The Lamb of God died on the cross about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon (April 7) and was buried before sundown because a special Sabbath was about to begin. Special or high Sabbaths occurred when two Sabbath rests coincided. When required feasts like the Passover occurred on a seventh-day Sabbath, a “high Sabbath” occurred. (John 19:31) In summary, we know the following facts: 1) We know the astronomical positions of the Sun and moon for A.D. 30; 2) We know that Jesus properly observed the Passover using God’s new moon reckoning for the beginning of a month; 3) We know that Jesus rested in the tomb over Sabbath and rose on the first day of the week (John 20:1; Acts 10:40); and 4) We know that A.D. 30 occurred in the middle of the seventieth week. This information leads to a solid conclusion: Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 7, A.D. 30 (Nisan 14). The actions of Jesus (such as eating Passover with His disciples) and the astronomical positions of the Sun and moon are two witnesses that confirm the truth. No wiggle room is left. A.D. 30 is the only year during the seventieth week that will satisfy all the necessary specifications.
The Seventy Weeks Nailed Down
If A.D. 30 is the year of Christ’s death, the seventy weeks prophecy has no wiggle room left in it. There is amazing harmony from several sides. Consider the following:
- The seventy weeks have to begin with a Sunday year because a week of years always begins with a Sunday year. The synchrony of the week of years from the year of the Exodus and A.D. 30 proves that 457 B.C. is a Sunday year.
- The seventy weeks have to begin with a Year of Jubilee because of the specification of “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” The synchrony of Jubilee cycles from the year of the Exodus confirms that 457 B.C. is a year of Jubilee, and according to Luke 3, Jesus began His ministry 483 years later, in the Sunday year of the seventieth week, A.D. 27.
- The appearance of the wise men at the birth of Jesus affirms their understanding of the sixty-nine weeks mentioned in Daniel 9. No other prophecy in the Bible points to the time of Christ’s birth.
- According to Luke 1:17, John the Baptist began his ministry before Jesus appeared. The baptism of Messiah occurred during the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, which is A.D. 27 – which is the first year of the seventieth week.
- The Jublilee calendar and the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. forces A.D. 30 to be the middle year of the seventieth week – Jesus died at just the right time.
- The astronomical position of the Sun and moon in A.D. 30 confirms that Jesus and His disciples ate Passover at the correct time according to God’s calendar.
- The actions of the Jews and their use of the moon’s first crescent method is consistent with the course of events described in the four gospels. Jesus was crucified on the day when the national Passover lamb was slaughtered, Friday, April 7, A.D. 30.
- Constantine refers to the fact that Jews frequently observed two Passovers in the same year and used this anomaly to prevent Christians from depending on the Jews to set the date of Easter.
- The writers of the four gospels are in perfect harmony on the timing of these events.
When these nine points are woven together, all wiggle room concerning the timing of the seventieth week is eliminated. No other time frame can meet or satisfy the prophetic or astronomical synchrony required for the seventieth week. The overwhelming abundance of harmonious facts supports the conclusion that the seventieth week occurred from Spring A.D. 27 to Spring A.D. 34.
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
Notice what Luke says about the first days of Christ’s public ministry in A.D. 27: “He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:16-21, italics mine) Some people twist these words to mean A.D. 27 is a year of Jubilee. They claim Jesus expressed the idea of freedom from slavery in this passage because the first year of His ministry was a year of Jubilee. The trouble with this argument is that slaves were not set free in the year of Jubilee. Slaves were to be set free at the end of each Friday year. (Exodus 21:2; Jeremiah 34:13-16) Because God required slaves to be set free at the end of Friday years, there were no slaves at the beginning of a Jubilee year (the fiftieth year). Furthermore, if A.D. 27 were a year of Jubilee or even a Sabbatical year, then several dating changes would be required which history and prophecy do not support. The astronomical data for A.D. 30, plus the harmony of the gospels, plus the count of years established in Old Testament prophecy makes an airtight case. The words of Jesus in Luke 4 are to be understood within the context that “the year of the Lord’s favor” is the first year of the seventieth week! The prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Jesus spoke these words. Messiah had appeared!
Time Is Constant
Time on Earth has been constant since Creation. Therefore, the positions of the Sun and moon can be calculated over long spans of time. Any deviation from this constant requires massive changes in planetary physics. Time is a steady and unbroken continuum, and any tampering with dates will distort everything forward and backward in time. In Luke 3, we find that Jesus was baptized in A.D. 27, and in Luke 4, He began His ministry with the declaration recorded in verses 16-21. The expression “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” that Jesus used indicates that He, God in the flesh, had come from Heaven to usher in the kingdom of God, if Israel was willing.
Back to Gabriel’s Statements, Numbers 4 – 6
Given the amount of information examined so far, I may need to remind you that we are still studying Daniel 9. Gabriel’s comments to Daniel were brief, but they were full of meaning! Earlier in this chapter, I paraphrased Gabriel’s remarks to Daniel as six statements. Now that the purpose of the seventy weeks has been examined (Statement 1), and the timing of Messiah’s ministry and death during the seventieth week has been examined (Statements 2 and 3), Gabriel’s final statements about Israel are very sad. Israel could have done so well. Israel could have sealed up this segment of the vision and prophecy, but it failed to cooperate with God. Gabriel predicted:
4. After they are rebuilt, Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed again.
5. Wars and desolations have been decreed upon the Jews and Jerusalem.
6. The Destroyer will continue his deadly work until the end of time.
Consider this text: “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” (Daniel 9:26) This verse says several things about Jesus and Jerusalem. Verse 26 predicts that Messiah will be rejected and disowned (cut off from Israel, as in having no inheritance). Then, Gabriel told Daniel that Jerusalem and the rebuilt temple will be destroyed again by “the people of the ruler who will come . . . .” About six hundred years later, Jesus Himself predicted the second temple would be destroyed when He said to His disciples, ” ‘Do you see all these things [pointing toward Jerusalem and the temple]?’ he asked. ‘I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’ “ (Matthew 24:2, insertion mine) The Romans fulfilled this prophecy in A.D. 70. When they broke through the walls of Jerusalem, a soldier threw a firebrand into the temple complex. Thousands of Jews had sealed themselves in the temple thinking that God would not allow His holy temple to be destroyed. They were wrong. Fire quickly ignited the cedar that generously adorned the edifice. To escape the fire the Jews threw open the huge temple doors. As they ran to escape the fire, the Romans slaughtered them. So many Jews were killed that day that history says blood flowed down the temple steps like a river. Because of the intense heat from the fire, millions of dollars in gold ornamentation, utensils and goldware melted and the liquid metal flowed into the cracks of the stones used to construct the temple. To recover the gold, Roman soldiers literally pulled the temple apart – stone by stone.
Another interesting point is found in Gabriel’s choice of words. He said, “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary . . . .” Why did Gabriel say, “The people of the ruler. . . .”? These words have a context and meaning that need to be understood. In the previous verse, Gabriel said, “. . . From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes. . . .” Did you notice that the Anointed One (Messiah) is called a “ruler.” Gabriel elevated the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 to that of a divine decree issued by “the ruler,” Jesus Christ Himself. The Romans were sent to destroy Jerusalem by One who overrules. The Romans were unwitting servants of God, just like the Babylonians had been unwitting servants of God (Jeremiah 25:9) when they destroyed Jerusalem the first time. If Israel had cooperated with God, the world would have enjoyed a glorious outcome when Jesus came to Earth! The kingdom of God would have been established. Israel would have been a kingdom of priests, the head of all nations and not the tail. Unfortunately, Israel refused to accept Messiah and submit to His truth. Therefore, “the Ruler” rejected them again (Matthew 23:37,38), and in A.D. 70, He destroyed Jerusalem.
The expression, “The end will come like a flood. . . .” accurately portrays Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem. The Romans literally carried away everything of value as a flood carries away everything in its path. In ancient times, the most destructive force known to the human race was a flood of water. A pent-up wall of snow-melt descending down a mountain ravine in the spring was an even more devastating force than fire! Such a flood could remove huge stone walls and bury cities in mud and debris, making recovery impossible or impractical. (Hosea 5:10; Isaiah 59:19; Isaiah 8:6,7) Gabriel’s words were fulfilled in A.D. 70, when the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple came like a devastating flood.
Gabriel said, “War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed [upon Jerusalem].” (Insertion mine) The history of the city of Jerusalem since A.D. 70 has been one of war and bloodshed, and this will continue until the end of time. Contrary to every human effort, Jerusalem has not been at peace and it will never be peaceful. Jerusalem is not the city of God. Two cultures and religions cannot inhabit the same space and be at peace. Men may negotiate a temporary cease-fire, and Lucifer may establish his throne in Jerusalem when he appears on Earth, but there will be no lasting peace and safety in Jerusalem. God has decreed it.
Gabriel said, “. . . And on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (Daniel 9:27, NASB, insertion mine) The last portion of verse 27 is hard to translate smoothly into English. This explains why we find such diverse wording in different translations of the Bible. After reviewing several respected translations, I have chosen to use the New American Standard Bible for this particular verse, because the ideas expressed in this translation are easier to understand. Gabriel predicts an unseen destroyer [Lucifer] will continue to cause desolations long after Jerusalem is destroyed. His rage against God’s people will not end until God’s wrath is poured out upon him. You may recall from Daniel 8, that the stern-faced king will eventually become visible. When he appears, he will destroy everything in his wake, even the holy people. Daniel 8 also assures us that this ruler will be brought to his end, but not by human power.
A great tragedy is predicted in Gabriel’s last three statements. These statements are compelling and sobering because Israel’s disaster could have been diverted. Jesus cried, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37,38) John summarized Israel’s rebellion and their rejection of Messiah in one verse when he wrote, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11)
The 2,300 Evenings and Mornings
One final issue has to be addressed before closing this study on Daniel 9. In fact, the timing of the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 cannot be established without first understanding the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. Let us revisit our examination of the 2,300 evenings and mornings by asking two questions: Does God interpret the 2,300 days as 2,300 days or 2,300 years, and when do they start? These are valid questions and they deserve careful answers.
The 2,300 days in Daniel 8:14 share some similarity with the time, times and half a time (1,260 years) mentioned in Daniel 7:25, because neither of these time-periods is given a starting date. This is not a big problem because both time-periods have a definite length and end with an event that can be identified. So, we can calculate backwards from the event at the end to a starting date. Evidently, God did not give a starting event in either of these prophecies because the information in Daniel was sealed up until the time of the end. To be blunt about it, the generation that really needs to understand Daniel and Revelation is the generation that will experience the closing events of Earth’s history. Given this emphasis on the final generation, the following steps have led me to conclude that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 represent 2,300 years. Furthermore, I conclude they began at the same time as the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 (457 B.C.).
Daniel wrote, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision [Daniel 8], came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the [earlier] vision:’ “ (Daniel 9:20-23, insertion mine) Daniel identifies Gabriel as the “man” he had seen in his earlier vision. (See Daniel 8:16-19.) Gabriel told Daniel that he had come to give Daniel insight and understanding into the [earlier] vision. Which vision? The previous vision given to Daniel is recorded in Daniel 8. This is the vision where Daniel met Gabriel. It does not make sense for Gabriel to say, “I have just been sent to you to give you insight and understanding about a vision that does yet not exist.” Gabriel’s remarks indicate that Daniel 9 is intimately connected to Daniel 8, which suggests there is a relationship between the 2,300 days in Daniel 8 and the seventy weeks in Daniel 9.
Notice the words of Gabriel: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people. . . .” (Daniel 9:24, italics mine) The Hebrew word translated decreed (NIV) or determined (KJV) comes from the Hebrew word chathak which means “to cut off” or “to determine by separation.” This Hebrew word is used once in the Bible so by itself, it cannot resolve many questions. However, it does make an important contribution to our understanding of the seventy weeks. The word indicates that a smaller period of time (seventy weeks) is “cut off” or “separated” from a larger unit of time (2,300 years). This may sound too simple, but the following process is very important. The Jubilee calendar forces seventy weeks to represent 490 years, and the Jubilee Calendar forces the 2,300 days to represent 2,300 years. Therefore, the short time-period of seventy weeks are cut off from the larger time-period of the 2,300 days. In other words, the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 are “separated” from the 2,300 years given in the “earlier vision” of Daniel 8.
Gabriel was sent to Daniel in the first vision to explain the ram, goat and horn power (Daniel 8) and Gabriel was sent to Daniel in the second vision with “an answer” for Daniel’s question. Daniel wanted to know how Israel fit into God’s larger picture. The details presented in Daniel 9 concern the nation of Israel and they belong within the larger prophecy of Daniel 8. Since the decree to restore Jerusalem and rebuild the temple in Daniel 9 (457 B.C.) was issued during the time of the kingdom of the ram in Daniel 8 (538-331 B.C.), there is a solid link between the timing of Daniel 8 and Daniel 9.
Here is an illustration showing how the word chathak functions in this context: Suppose your son asks if he can go play with the kids next door. You notice the trash can in the kitchen is full, so you say, “You can go play for one hour, but your hour includes taking out the trash.” In this illustration, the time required to take out the trash is “cut off” or separated out of the hour allotted with the kids next door – and we know that in such a situation, the trash will probably disappear in the twinkling of an eye.
Of course, the word chathak does not tell us if the seventy weeks are separated from the beginning or the end of the 2,300 years, but the word indicates the seventy weeks are “cut off” from the 2,300 years because there is no other time-period in Daniel 8. More will be said about starting both time periods with the decree of Artaxerxes (457 B.C.) in a moment.
The 2,300 days have to be interpreted as 2,300 years for two reasons: First, Rule Four (mentioned at the end of Chapter 1) requires days to be translated as years during the operation of the Jubilee Calendar. Second, if seventy weeks amount to 490 years – using the scale of a day for a year, then the 2,300 days have to use the same scale and represent years as well, because a person cannot separate 490 years from 2,300 literal days (about six years and four months). However, it is possible to “cut off” 490 years from 2,300 years. If the seventy weeks are “cut off” from the 2,300 years, this forces the 2,300 years into the operation of the Jubilee Calendar! Interpreting the 2,300 days as 2,300 years is consistent with Rule Four, which states, “God reckons apocalyptic time in two ways: (a) a day for a year, and (b) as literal time. The presence or absence of the Jubilee Calendar determines how God measures time.”
The Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 “Cut Off”
from the 2,300 Days of Daniel 8:14
Sometimes, an answer to a prophetic question can be given with few words. However, there are segments of Bible prophecy that require a lot of background information before an answer will make much sense. The timing of the 2,300 years is such an issue. We have examined a lot of details in this study, and it is possible to miss seeing the forest when studying a tree. In this light, the following observation is offered for your consideration. Remember, that the book of Daniel contains a set of non-conditional prophecies. In other words, everything given to Daniel is an outline of God’s pre-determined plans for Earth. For example, God determined that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians and Medo-Persia would fall to the Greeks, and it was predicted the saints would be handed over to the little horn power for 1,260 years, etc. All of the predicted events in Daniel are non-conditional.
While Daniel was receiving visions of non-conditional events, Ezekiel was receiving a series of conditional visions from God. The visions given to Ezekiel are very different than the visions given to Daniel. The visions given to Ezekiel were conditional. Ezekiel is in Babylon just like Daniel, but God told this prophet that 1) He destroyed Jerusalem and the temple because Israel violated Plan A. However, God also told Ezekiel that He has a redemptive plan for Israel (Plan B). The fulfillment of Plan B requires Israel’s full cooperation. God will give Israel one more chance to accomplish all that He wanted! Looking at the visions given to both prophets, we find that God places two conditions on Plan B. First, the time allotted is seventy weeks – counting from the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. Second, Plan B can be accomplished only if a majority of people in Israel experience the miracle of being born again. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
Consider the contrast between Daniel’s prophecies and Ezekiel’s prophecies. God told Daniel what would be if Israel failed to cooperate. God told Ezekiel what would be if Israel cooperated. The point is that God cuts off seventy weeks from the 2,300 years to give Israel a chance to terminate (seal up) Daniel’s visions and prophecy! If Israel had cooperated with God, the prophecies of Daniel would not have come to pass. The prophecies of Daniel would have remained a secret forever. We have seen God do this before. If Israel had cooperated with God at the time of the Exodus, the first generation would not have had to die in the wilderness. God was willing to put the children of Israel in the Promised Land within two years of leaving Egypt!
When the 2,300 years are seen in this light, it makes sense that a benevolent God would cut off seventy weeks from the beginning of a longer prophecy to allow time for Israel to cooperate. Even though God told Daniel that Israel would fail and that the city and the temple would be destroyed again, God was willing to give Israel one more chance. What a patient God! What a wonderful Savior! It is so amazing to realize that God does not treat us according to His perfect foreknowledge. He compassionately treats us according to His marvelous love. When we begin to see these elements of God’s character unfold from prophecy, we know we are on the right track.
Because God is the architect of Bible prophecy, perfect harmony is found in the sum of all the parts. Remember, none of the seventeen prophecies in Daniel and Revelation stand alone. Each prophecy contributes something very important to a much larger picture that spans many centuries. The seventy weeks in Daniel 9 are not isolated from the prophecies in Daniel 2, 7, 8 and elsewhere! Each of the seventeen prophecies reveals a piece of the big picture. God is the designer of this great matrix, which means the outcome will be harmonious. Each prophecy requires the others to be present, and in turn, supports those around it. I have often remarked, “A person has to understand the whole thing before he can appreciate anything!”
At the end of Chapter 1, I wrote that a person needs to have a working knowledge of four rules before all of the pieces in both Daniel and Revelation will come together and align harmoniously. Misplacing 2.3 millennia (2,300 years), or even 2,300 days, can create problems that cannot be solved later on. This point was demonstrated in our study on Antiochus IV. If we follow valid rules, the sum of all the prophetic parts will produce one harmonious truth. The most compelling reason for interpreting the 2,300 days as 2,300 years and beginning this time-period with the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 is the harmony that it produces. Of course, it takes awhile to discover and understand this harmony because there is no substitute for knowledge and understanding. Carefully read the following statements and refer to Chart 6.11 to see if you can identify the timing of each statement:
- (Find 457 B.C. in the Daniel 9 row.) The decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. marks the beginning of the seventy weeks. Notice that this event begins during the time of the ram, which was discussed in Daniel 8.
- (Find 457 B.C. in the Daniel 8 row.) If the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 are interpreted as 2,300 years, the seventy weeks can be “cut off” from this larger time period. Even though the Bible does not explicitly say the seventy weeks are cut off from the beginning of the 2,300 years, the matrix resolves this question. Daniel viewed the cleansing of Heaven’s temple. (Daniel 7:9,10) We know this event has to occur after 1798, when the Ancient of Days took His seat. Even though we have not examined the seven seals of Revelation, the opening of the third seal harmoniously aligns with 1844. The 2,300 years began in the Spring of 457 B.C. and they terminated in the Spring of 1844. Jesus began cleansing Heaven’s temple in the Spring of 1844.
- (Find the end of the seventy weeks in the Daniel 9 row.) The public ministry of Jesus (A.D. 27-30) affirms the location of the seventieth week and the accuracy of the 457 B.C. decree. According to Daniel 9, Jesus died in the middle of the seventieth week. The synchrony of the Sun and moon, and the presence of two different calendars in Israel harmoniously align, and altogether they confirm the date of His death, April 7, A.D. 30. The certainty of 457 B.C. as a starting date for the seventy weeks also insures the certainty of the termination of the 2,300 years in 1844.
- (Locate 1798 in the Daniel 7 row.) The little horn of Daniel 7 persecuted the saints for 1,260 years. As predicted, the persecution of the saints ended in 1798 because the Ancient of Days issued a judgment (a restraining order) on behalf of the saints from His throne in Heaven. (Daniel 7:21,22) This event in Heaven is directly linked with the fall of the papacy on Earth. Generals Waller and Berthier captured the pope and placed him in exile in February 1798. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church’s control over Europe was almost fatally wounded. (Daniel 7:26) Since the signing of the Lateran treaty on February 11, 1929, this fatal wound has been healing. (Revelation 13:1-3)
- (Find 1798 in the Daniel 7 row.) Jesus was found worthy to receive Earth as His kingdom in 1798. (Daniel 7:13,14)
- (Find 1798 in the Revelation 6 row.) Even though the seven seals of Revelation have not been examined, the following statement is presented to help you see an ever-widening matrix. In Revelation 4-6, Jesus was found worthy to receive the book sealed with seven seals in 1798. Jesus began opening the seals. He opened the third seal in 1844. As a result, people on Earth came to understand the cleansing of Heaven’s temple. Christ’s judgment bar has been underway since 1844. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
- (Find 1844 in the Daniel 8 row.) At the end of the 2,300 years, in the spring of 1844, Jesus began going through the books of record and passing judgment on those who have died. Jesus is judging the dead to see who will live in His kingdom. If a person is found to be rebellious, Jesus assigns the guilt of the sinner upon his own head. If a person is found to be submissive to the Holy Spirit, the sinner’s guilt is assigned to Lucifer, the scapegoat. Ultimately, Heaven’s temple will be cleansed of sin when the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 sounds. (Revelation 15:7,8)
- Find 1844 in the Revelation 6 row.) The world’s inhabitants began to hear about the cleansing of Heaven’s temple because the third seal was opened in 1844. The fourth seal will open soon. It will happen suddenly and unexpectedly. When it does, the Great Tribulation and the judgment of the living begins.
Relationships between Daniel 7, Daniel 8, Daniel 9 and Revelation 6
This chapter has covered many issues. Although this has been an involved study, hopefully you can see how the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 and the 2,300 years of Daniel 8 have been fulfilled. God’s timing is perfect. Because of God’s generous grace to Israel (the offer of Plan B), the seventy weeks were “cut off” from the 2,300 years. God was willing to abort all of the visions given to Daniel if Israel would cooperate with Him. Unfortunately, Israel did not cooperate with God and the “rebuilt” Jerusalem and temple were totally destroyed in A.D. 70. We could say that “Plan C” is now underway, and in the Spring of 1844, the cleansing process of Heaven’s temple began. This means that Jesus is currently going through the Books of Record to determine who will live in His coming kingdom. Very soon, Jesus will turn His attention to judging the living in a sequence of events known as the Great Tribulation.
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