Many have set out to explain the seventy weeks recorded in the book of Daniel. It seemed good to me, as well, to pen down a few words in respect to this great Messianic prophecy. Especially due to the tremendous errors men have made to make this prophecy something that suits their fantasies, even though it is not what God purposed. My intention is to give the sense of the text while keeping to the context of the book and remaining in harmony with the rest of the Bible.
Here is the text:
Daniel 9:24 "Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
26 "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."
Observe the context. Verses 20-23 tell us that this entire prophecy is God's answer to the prayer of Daniel in verses 3-19. Therefore it is crucial to identify the subject of Daniel's prayer in order to understand God's answer. The chapter begins by identifying the year of Daniel's prayer, it is the first year of Darius the Mede, which is the exact year that the Babylonians lost their power to the Persians and Medes, and soon (within the year) Cyrus would release the Jews from their captivity in Babylonia (538 B.C.). Daniel knew that this was about to happen because he understood the prophecy in Jeremiah 25:11- 12 and 29:10, where God said He'd release His people from captivity in 70 years, and Daniel saw that it had been exactly 70 years. Therefore, he makes a petition to the God of heaven. Within his prayer, he confesses many times the sins of the Jews in rejecting God and His law, and he pleads for forgiveness. The impression Daniel gives in the prayer is that he is uncertain of what will become of the Jews, and whether they will be able to continue in the precepts of God. The LORD responds by way of a vision. Note that every vision so far in the book has been figurative/symbolic, and this vision will be no different. God's answer is that 70 weeks are determined for both the Jews and their holy city, Jerusalem. Within this time, wonderful things will happen, but at the end of the 70 weeks the Jews and their city will face great destruction. First, what does 70 weeks mean? Many men have tried and failed to exchange 70 weeks with 490 days and then proceed to make 490 days into a literal 490 years. But to this day, no man has ever been able to accurately fit the events of verses 24-27 into exactly 490 years. The 70 weeks should never be made into a literal time period. So, what is the symbolism of 70 weeks? 70 weeks is in resemblance of the 70 years addressed in the beginning of the chapter. The idea is that the Jews had just faced one 70 and now they must complete another 70. This time it is 70 weeks, but the vision is not about weeks it's about 7's! There are 7 days in a week, so 70 weeks is SEVENTY SEVENS! Why all these 7's? Is not the number 7 used often in the scriptures to symbolically refer to times when God has accomplished certain purposes? For example, God accomplished His purposes of the creation of the world and thus rested the 7th day. Or more generally, 7 can refer simply to completion, fullness, or perfection. Such as in Gen. 4:24, where vengeance is "seventy and sevenfold," i.e. completely avenged. Or when Jesus spoke of forgiving others not once but "seventy times seven," i.e. forgive to the fullness. So, the point being made in Daniel 9:24 is that God has just completed one period of time for His people (the 70 years of captivity), but He tells Daniel that there are more 7's to come, i.e. more periods of time where God will accomplish His purpose fully in regard to the Jewish people. Such as their return to Jerusalem, the coming of the Messiah, and the destruction of Jerusalem in the 70th year of the 1st Century. Thus, this vision completely answers Daniel's concerns about the future of the Jewish state. Proceeding further into the text, verse 24 identifies six important events that God will accomplish upon the Jews within the seventy sevens. (1). "finish the transgression." During this period the wickedness of the Jews and their rejection of God's truths will reach its limit; their cup of transgressions will overflow and God will judge them, see Matthew 23:32-39. (2). "make an end of sins." There will be the opportunity for man to put away his sins and be washed from them, see Hebrews 10:12. (3). "make reconciliation for iniquity." Men will be reconciled back to a relationship with God once iniquities are put away, see Romans 5:10. (4). "bring in everlasting righteousness." Of necessity, only the coming of the Christ and the sealing of a New Covenant with His blood would bring "everlasting righteousness," see 1 Corinthians 1:30. (5). "seal up the vision and prophecy." God's revelation of His words will be completed within the seventy sevens, see Hebrews 1:1- 3; Jude 3. (6). "anoint the most Holy." Within this period the Messiah and heir to the throne of God will be crowned with glory, honor, and power, see Hebrews 1:8-9. Notice how all these things are fulfilled in full within the New Testament writings. Therefore, we can conclude that the 70 weeks are completely accomplished before the end of the 1st Century. Anyone who believes otherwise is guilty of being in disharmony with the New Testament text. The next words we read in the prophecy is "know therefore and understand." Daniel is admonished to take care in understanding what is about to be revealed, for the angel is about to breakdown the 70 weeks into specific details. In verses 25-27, the 70 weeks are divided into 3 sections: (1). Seven Sevens. (2). Sixty-two Sevens, and (3). One Seven. In examining the events that are said to take place in these sections, it seems evident that the division of the seventy sevens correspond to significant events of the Jews that will occur through three periods or divisions of time: (1). 7 weeks during the Persian Empire. (2). 62 weeks during the Macedonian Empire. (3). 1 week during the Roman Empire. Note again that these are not literal numbers, but are there to properly divide the 70 weeks into 3 sections. The first division is stated in verse 25, "That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixtytwo weeks" The first event that God reveals to Daniel is a command that will be issued to restore Jerusalem, this was fulfilled by God through Cyrus the Mede, see 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4. Verse 25 also says of Jerusalem: "the street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times." We can see these things fulfilled along with all the "troublesome times" in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These events of re-establishing Jerusalem account for 7 of the 70 weeks, leaving us with 63 weeks to go. All the events that occur within the first "7 weeks" are fulfilled during the Persian Empire. This completes the first of three sections. The next section encompasses a figurative 62 weeks after the previous 7 weeks. The only event reported here that will happen within this period is that the Messiah will come to the earth and become flesh (fulfilled in Luke 2:11). He is also called here "the Prince," suggesting that He is an Heir to a throne (Acts 2:30). No other events are mentioned here within the 62 week period, however God will address this period exclusively in Daniel 11, where the age of the Macedonian Empire and the "400 years of silence" are dealt with in tremendous detail. We have now reached the age of the 1st Century and the reign of the Romans, this concludes the 2nd section of the prophecy. The 3rd and last section begins in verse 26, "after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself." That is, at the beginning of week 70, the Christ would be rejected by the Jewish people and they would cut him off from the living, he would face a horrible death upon a cross and would be buried in a tomb with a large stone covering. And the text states that His death was "not for Himself." He was innocent and not guilty or worthy to be crucified, but he still died, not for himself, but for others, for the sake of sinful men, for the sake of eternal salvation! The text continues "the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Historically, we know for certain who "the people of the prince" are. For the people who destroyed the city of Jerusalem (we know that's the city referred to here because of the context of Daniel's prayer and God's answer) and the temple are the Romans, and therefore the prince in this verse is General Titus who was heir to the throne of his father Vespasian, Emperor of Rome. It was Titus who led the siege and sack of Jerusalem. He did this after the Messiah was cut off, in the year 70 A.D. One may wonder why this would happen, and why is this mentioned after it is stated that the Messiah would be cut off? The answer lies in the fact that He was cut off. The Jews had rejected their own Savior that they had waited so long for. They were a wicked people and they faced the judgment of God because of their denial of God's law. More about this will come shortly. It was still within the 70th week of the prophecy that the Messiah "confirms a covenant with many." Yes, this is after He was cut off, and yes, this means He arose from the dead. But what is this covenant? It could be the New Covenant, or more in line with the context, Christ confirms the warning of the Old Covenant, which declared to the Jews that God would come in judgment upon them if they broke the covenant and went astray. They had broken the covenant, but even more, they had rejected the Savior! Therefore, Christ, using the Roman army as His instrument, brought a fiery judgment upon the Jewish state in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:29-31). "In the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering." During this "war" (as verse 26 identifies it). Christ will put a stop to the offerings and sacrifices that were performed in the temple at Jerusalem. How does he stop these practices exactly? He destroys the place where these things were performed and makes it a place of desolation. Not only that, but He destroys the people who perform such services. Thus, in that way He put a complete end to these things. After all, this is the 70th week in the prophecy, and the seventieth seven, these numbers suggest that God's purpose with the Jews will be fully accomplished and finished at the end of this last seven. "And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate" Once again God identifies who he will use to carry out His will against the Jews, i.e. the Romans. Jesus also testifies of this fact (Luke 21:20, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14). "The wing of abominations" illustrates the coming of the Roman army to Jerusalem. They will come swooping to snatch up their prey (the Jews) as with the wings of the abominable vulture or eagle (compare with Matthew 24:28). "Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate." These birds (the Romans) will continue to prey until nothing is left (the consummation). The 3rd section ends, and the Jewish commonwealth is finished. Daniel and the Jews had finish 70 years of God's will in captivity, but God showed by the seventy sevens that His will would not be fully accomplished for them until the Messiah came, who will put an end to the old law and all its offices and sacrifices, and bring judgment upon the Judeans who rejected their Savior most vehemently. Thus the prophecy of the 70 weeks was satisfied in the 70th year of the 1st Century A.D.
-by Tanner Campbell