It is very easy to get real bogged down in doing a series like this one. So, I have decided that I’m going to shorten it. If I don’t, it will become a book. I do hope to at least hit the high spots so that I can at least make it clear why I believe so strongly in the Rapture of God’s people before the 7-year Great Tribulation commences.
This is probably a good place to give an explanation of Daniel’s 70 weeks found in Daniel 9: 20-27. Here is how it reads in the NIV starting at verse 24:
“Seventy sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 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. 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. He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven. In the middle of the seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Books have been written about this short passage, but the basics of what God told the great prophet Daniel can be laid out with a relatively simple and short explanation.
Daniel was in the middle of praying for the Jewish people when the angel Gabriel showed up partially in answer to Daniel’s daily praying, and also to pass along some information that God intended Daniel to record for future generations to read.
The first question generally asked, and maybe one of the most critical to answer has to do with what kind of a time period is being referred to here. There are numerous theories that have been taught over the years. It is really not as hard or complicated as many make it out to be. In the old King James version of the Bible, it says, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression…” As is shown above, the NIV says “seventy sevens”. This passage is literally speaking of 70 weeks of years, which adds up to a total of 490 years. It is rare in the Bible to find exact dates or years, but when it does, it has a special importance. When these things are fulfilled, it makes it pretty hard to say that God is not outside of our time bubble. Some might ask if there was any Biblical precedence to Daniel’s weeks of years, and there is. Both Genesis 29: 27, 28 and Leviticus 25:8 show this. These verses give clear reference to the understanding of a wek representing seven years and maintaining the same context.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is the fact that the Jewish calendar was built on a 360 day year, not our year of 365.25 days. This is especially important when deciphering how the seventy weeks of years prophecy works.
The first thing that one needs to establish is what the starting date is. There are different theories on which command to rebuild Jerusalem was the right one, whether it was the command to Ezra or Nehemiah. Ezra received a command to rebuild Jerusalem from both King Cyrus, and also King Artaxerxes (Ezra 1:1; Ezra 7:1). Nehemiah also received the command from Artaxerxes while he served the king as his cupbearer (Nehemiah 2:1-8). By examining the details of each command, it becomes apparent that the specific command mentioned by Gabriel was the one by King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah. This command was given about 20 years into his reign, which is around 445 BC.
Daniel 9:25 lays out a very specific timeline. First there is a 7 week period which we know is 49 years. Multiply this by 360 (since we’re converting to the Jewish 360 year), and divide by 365. What you get is 48.3 years. Now we need to do the same for the second time period, which is 62 weeks of years. What you get is 428.05 years.
Add these together and you will have the total time for the first 69 weeks of years in western time. It is 476.4 years. When you take AD 30, which was the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, and also the end of the 62 week portion of Daniel’s prophecy, start backing up in time by 428.05 years, we are brought back to 397 BC. Now back up an additional 48.3 years, we are brought back to 445 BC.
This is all important due to the specific statements made by Daniel. The first 7 week period was for the rebuilding decreed by King Artaxerxes. The second part which Daniel said was 62 weeks of years was to bring history to the time of the crucifixion. Verse 25 says, “…and after 62 weeks the Messiah shall be cut off but not for Himself…” When studying the usage of the words used, it can only be speaking of the crucifixion of Jesus.
There are many other details that I won’t take the time for now. I do want to mention that this prophecy speaks of three distinct divisions to Daniel’s 70 weeks of years. I have identified the first 7 weeks, and also the second period of 62 weeks. Each of the three time periods have a semicolon between them, making a purposeful distinction. As one continues with the 26th and 27th verse, it is learned that the city of Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed after the first 69 weeks are fulfilled. This happened in 70 AD. Josephus the historian says that the fury of the attack went beyond what Titus the general had intended; it in fact got clear out of control. As Jesus had said, every stone was brought down. One reason for this may have been because of the vast amount of gold which was inlaid into the stone.
As you read further though, the description shifts to the time of the end. The first comment that moves the focus from the destruction that happened in 70 AD is that there would be continual wars until the time of the end. History proves this out in great detail. Then it speaks of the “prince that shall come”, who will confirm a covenant with many “for one seven”. It is very important to see the significance of what is being said here. God promised 70 weeks of years of special dealings with his people Israel, and those 490 years, as it figures mathematically before transposing the numbers to match the Jewish calendar, have not been completed. To this date, 483 of these years have been fulfilled. The last seven have not yet started.
The last seven years of world history leading up to the physical return of the Messiah Jesus to set up His Kingdom, with its headquarters located in Jerusalem, (which by the way is also where Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple will be built), is called “The Day of the Lord”. This time period is also called the “Great Tribulation”, with the last 42 months specifically being labeled the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble”. The bulk of the Book of Revelation has to do with this seven year period of time. It is also spoken of by almost every other prophet that has his prophecies recorded in the Bible.
It just happens that the fulfillment of God’s promise of these last seven years of the original 490, is at the very same time as The Great Tribulation. What is significant, and must be recognized, is the fact that God has divided history up into dispensations. His dealings with the Church (which was a total mystery to the Old Testament saints, and His dealings with the seed of Abraham are totally separate from one another. God is using the Church today as a means of helping Israel in every way possible, including providing help to bring Jewish people back to their homeland—people that have prayed for two millennia, saying, “Next year in Jerusalem”. In the last few years lost Jewish tribes have been located all over the world, and every step possible is being taken to fly these people back to their homeland. Millions of dollars are being provided by Christian people everywhere, especially from the United States.
In following history, we find that once God had approached Abraham, his descendants, the Jewish people became the source of God’s good news for anyone that would hear and receive. Ancient Israel had many foreigners that integrated with them and became part of their nation. After Jesus was crucified and the New Testament Church was born, it was the Church that essentially took over carrying God’s good news of salvation to the world. In a very short time now, the New Testament Church will have finished what it was called to do. When that specific day comes, the Church, or Bride of Christ, will be pulled from the earth, brought into God’s Presence, and joined with its very much alive King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
Revelation 8 tells us that 144,000 Jewish evangelists are then sent out who will in a very short period of time cover the entire world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As soon as they have finished this task, they are brought into the presence of their King as well. Revelation 14 shows them in heaven. The task will then be handed over to the remnant of Jews that have had their eyes opened to where they recognize who their real Messiah was and is. Anyone that listens to their message in those horribly difficult days before Jesus’ literal return to the earth, will be added to the harvest of souls that God knew would come in from the very beginning.
Many have doubted the soon return of the Lord because the Bible speaks of the whole world having heard the message of Jesus Christ first. Even though most of the world has now heard, there are still areas that have not been reached. Here is something to remember though. We in this dispensation as God has laid history out, only have part of the job to accomplish. Yes, it is basically the missionary age that has spread the gospel all over the world, but the Church does not have the entire job of fulfilling this task. Much of it happens after the Church has been removed. The results of these 144,000 Jewish evangelists are enormous! They will be like 144,000 Billy Grahams, getting scattered all over the world, but with great power, not just in word, but by demonstrations of God’s power as well! The Bible says that they reach a large mass of people. At the time that they are ministering, all hell is breaking loose all around the globe. People are really scared, and they are wanting answers! At the time that they are preaching their message, there won’t be many questioning whether this is the terminal generation. I suspect that the bulk of their ministry is also before the antichrist puts the mark of the beast into play.
At this point I am going to leave the subject of the 70 weeks of years prophecy alone, even though I skimmed through it very quickly. There really is much more to it, but hopefully this has helped some understand this controversial passage of scripture in Daniel 9.
To Be Continued in Part 6