The Seventy Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27
Biblical Prophecy Studies
The Prophet Daniel's Look To The Future!
The vision in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel, verses 24 through 27, has long been an intriguing mystery. It is an important prophecy, with ramifications in the birth, life, ministry, and death of the Messiah of Israel. If Yahshua can be shown to have correctly fulfilled that prophecy, then He is truly without question the Son of Elohim and Savior of the World, and not an impostor as atheists and doubters have claimed.
BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS
This period is seventy prophetic weeks of seven years each (total of 490 years), and begins in Daniel 9:24 with “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem .” Confusion has been caused because two different commands of King Artaxerxes Longimanus of Persia were given: First, in his 7th regnal year, a command of restoration “of the house of thy Elohim” (Ezra 7:7-23) in 458 BC, a date attested even by the (Futurist) Scofield Reference Bible in its note to Daniel 9:25 . Later, a second command was issued by Artaxerxes in his 20th year (Nehemiah 2:1-8) thirteen years later, to rebuild “the wall of the city,” in 445 BC. Historicists use the first command, assuming that the rebuilding of the temple also implied the rebuilding of a city of homes for the workers and worshippers to live in. Futurists insist on the later command.
A major problem scholars see with Futurism is in fitting the dates to modern archaeological findings. The Futurist view was conceived a century ago, when archaeology was not as far advanced, and therefore Scofield stated at that time, “In the present state of biblical chronology the date of the [second] decree of Artaxerxes cannot be unanswerably fixed farther than to say that it was issued between 454 to 444 BC.” (Note to Dan. 9:25). Some holding the Futurist position, however, have assumed a date of 455 BC for Artaxerxes’ second decree, because this would carry the first 69 weeks to the (supposed) date of the death of Messiah (dated incorrectly as 29 AD), leaving the 70th week to roam free after a parenthesis of unknown duration. But scholarship has now proven the date of the second decree to be ten years later, in 445 B.C. A leading Futurist scholar, John Walvoord states, “Most scholars, whether conservative or liberal, accordingly, accept the 445 B.C. date for Nehemiah’s [second] decree.” (Daniel, Key to Prophetic Revelation, p. 227) Adding on 69 weeks (483 years) to this corrected date would place the death of Christ in 39 AD, an obvious impossibility! Since modern archeology has torpedoed their original date structure, and they need a rationale for the 70th week to be cut off by itself in the future, Futurists are now resorting to “quite complicated” lunar and ‘prophetic year’ arguments which are “impossible to restate simply,” according to Walvoord. (ibid., page 228) For the Futurist system to hold, they must show that exactly 69 prophetic weeks, or 483 years, intervened between the second command of Artaxerxes and the crucifixion of Messiah. That they have not been able to do, despite complicated and nearly incomprehensible schemes using widely varying calendars. Walvoord summarizes their dilemma by saying, “The best explanation of the time when the sixty-nine sevens ended is that it occurred shortly before the death of Christ....” (ibid., p. 228; emphasis ours) But this simply defeats their argument, for it indicates that at least part of the final prophetic week took place before the crucifixion of Yahshua, and therefore the 70th week is not entirely future! Due to these inherent problems, the Futurist argument has lost some of its appeal in recent years.
In contrast, differences in the two Historicist schools concern the date of the first decree (Spring of 458 BC, or Fall of 457 BC), and whether the end of sacrifices as a means of salvation occurred at Messiah’s crucifixion (Classical Historicist), or earlier at His baptism (Kingdom-Covenant). The latter view states that there was no chance that Messiah would fail in His mission once He was consecrated to Elohim’s service by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Thereafter, belief in Yahshua was effective in miracles, healing, and forgiveness of sin during the full 3-1/2 years of His earthly ministry, even though the atonement itself had not yet taken place. In Elohim’s eyes, the oblation ceased in importance, because the real “Sin-Bearer” had arrived and was announced to the world by the Holy Spirit, replacing the Old Testament type. (See John 1:29-34)
The chart below outlines the three main interpretations of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy. The three milestones on which these systems differ are the date of the command of Artaxerxes (the beginning of the prophecy), the date of the birth of Messiah, and the ending date for the Seventy Weeks.
THE BIRTH OF MESSIAH
It has long been accepted that the date of Messiah’s incarnation was incorrectly determined in the year 525 by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus, who chose the now common 4 BC. More recent scholarship, however, gives convincing evidence that Yahshua was born in September, 2 B.C. (see tract, “The Year Of Messiah’s Birth,” for historical and Biblical proof of the 2 B.C. date.) Additional evidence indicates that the Feast of Trumpets, September 29, 2 BC, may be the correct date. It is generally known that the date traditionally assigned to the birth of Yahshua, December 25, was actually a pre-Christian holiday related to the pagan “winter solstice,” or changing of the seasons. The 2 BC date fits the chronology of the Kingdom-Covenant prophetic view, while 4 BC is used by both Futurism and Classical Historicism.
ENDING OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS
A major problem with the Classical Historicist view has been that it can give no logical end point to the Seventy Weeks. By placing the baptism of Messiah at 69 prophetic weeks, and the crucifixion at 69-1/2 weeks, there is nothing left in the life of Yahshua to assign to the ending of the 70 weeks itself. A common explanation is that the stoning of Stephen, although the date is unknown, may have ended the prophecy. Others suggest that Peter’s vision in Acts 10 was the end-point. But none of these makes logical sense if the 70 weeks prophecy was centered in the life and ministry of the Messiah, not Stephen or Peter. And this is in fact what the prophecy assures us in Daniel chapter 9.
The exact date of the crucifixion of Yashua has been a matter of debate for centuries. For many years, dates ranging between 29 and 31 AD have been common. John F. Walvoord states, “There has been a tendency, however, in recent New Testament chronology to consider the possibility of a later date for the death of Christ.” [ibid, p. 228] Specifically, the work of Biblical chronologists and historians such as Dr. Adam Rutherford and Dr. Stephen Jones has given strong support for a date of 33 AD. (See “Secrets of Time in Prophecy” by Stephen E. Jones, for a fuller discussion of the dating of Messiah’s birth and death.) Only the Kingdom-Covenant interpretation, based on a crucifixion of 33 A.D., accounts for an exact 490 year block of time to complete the atonement for sin, exactly as Daniel 9:24 states.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS PROPHECY:
The three prophetic systems discussed herein are all ultimately based on differing interpretations of Daniel’s Seventy Prophetic Week vision. More importantly, our understanding of the coming of Messiah and His Kingdom (both in nature and timing) are also dependent on this great Old Testament prophecy - and proclaiming the Kingdom of Elohim is the heart of the Gospel!
Following is a verse-by-verse comparison chart, showing how each of the three prophetic systems (Futurist, Classical Historicist, and Kingdom-Covenant) interprets the prophecy in Daniel chapter nine.
A VERSE BY VERSE EXPLANATION OF DANIEL 9:24-27:
Overview of 70 Weeks
Atonement and End to Sin takes place in 70 prophetic Weeks; fulfilled by Messiah’s death for sin.
Futurist: Only 67.5 to 69 Weeks needed
Classic: Only 69.5 Weeks needed
Kingdom: Full 70 Weeks, exactly as prophesied
69 Week period itself
Time from Decree of Artaxerxes to Messiah is 69 prophetic Weeks, or 483 years; terminal date is apparently not a specific event.
Futurist: 455 BC to 29 AD fits; but accurate 2nd decree dates 445 BC to 39 AD ends beyond Yahshua
Classic: 457 BC to 27 AD fits prophecy
Kingdom: 458 BC to 26 AD fits prophecy
After 69 Week period
After 69 Weeks, the Messiah is Cut Off; terminal is apparently not a specific date beyond 69 Weeks.
Futurist: 67.5- 69 Weeks, or a later time gap (?)
Classic: 3.5 years after 69 Weeks
Kingdom: 7 years after 69 Weeks
Middle of 70th Week
An end to ritual Sacrifice and Oblation as a means of covering sin. (Replaced by belief in Yahshua) Compare with the “atonement for sin” (verse 24), which took place at the end of the 70 Weeks.
Futurist: Fulfilled by an unknown "Anti-Christ" who persecutes the Jews at some indecisive date in the far-off future, after a “removal” of the church.
Classic: Fulfilled by Messiah’s Crucifixion
Kingdom: Fulfilled by Messiah’s Baptism and Consecration to Elohim.