And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 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. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. Daniel 9:20-27
It was more than five hundred years before Jesus was born. The seventy years of exile, for the Jews, to Babylon was about complete, as Daniel had discerned from reading Jeremiah's prophecy. He was in prayer about the future of his people because it was their sin and transgression towards God that had sent them into exile in the first place. While in prayer, Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel who had been sent by God to give him "skill (insight) and understanding" regarding a "seventy week" program for his people and his holy city. Daniel was told that upon completion of the seventieth week, Israel's "transgression" would be finished, her "sin" ended and her "iniquity" would reconciled.
Did the "seventy week" program ever begin.and if it did when did it start? How long is this mysterious period of time called "seventy weeks"? Is today's modern Israel still in that "program"? Does Israel's return to her ancient homeland mean anything to us as believers today?
Gabriel plainly told Daniel that the start of the seventy week program would begin when a decree was issued to "restore and rebuild Jerusalem". When that event took place, the countdown to "seventy weeks" had commenced.
According to historical accounts, including the Bible, someone made that decree, long ago. Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was a Persian king, in the 20th year of his reign, issued the edict that started the clock ticking.
And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, and said unto the king, let the king live forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchers, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, for what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, if it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchers, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, the queen also sitting by him, for how long shall thy journey be? And when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Nehemiah 2:1-6
The date of this decree can be computed via the Jewish calendar, which has been closely regulated since the first Passover observance in Egypt, as well as the computation of the Astronomer Royal of England, who calculated the issuing of the decree of Artaxerxes to be on the 14th of March, 445 BC. According to the Jewish calendar, that decree was on the 1st day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar.
In the original Hebrew, "70 weeks" translates from the expression, "seventy sevens". The reference could mean days, weeks, months, years, in fact, virtually anything. Daniel is told that the time from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince would be sixty-nine weeks. When would Jesus be called Messiah the Prince? Was Jesus ever proclaimed to be King or Messiah?
And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying, go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, why do ye loose him? Thus shall ye say unto him, because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:28-40
Jesus was proclaimed Messiah the Prince! We remember it every year on Palm Sunday. Was Jesus' ride through Jerusalem that day a matter of chance?
By calculating when the decree was given and counting to when Christ presented Himself to the nation as her Messiah on Palm Sunday we see the following: