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In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. Daniel 9:1-2

In the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, Daniel understood from the prophecy of Jeremiah that the Babylonian captivity of the people of the Southern Kingdom would last 70 years.

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10

One of the main reasons that the city of Jerusalem was desolated and the nation of Judah taken into captivity by Babylon was the punishment meted out for disobedience of God’s chosen people to follow His decrees and therefore violate His covenant.

But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Leviticus 25:4

Not only were the people to have a seventh day Sabbath rest, but the land was to have a seventh year Sabbath when the land was to lie fallow and not be worked.

“If in spite of this 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

In an effort to bring His people to repentance, the LORD would punish them by causing their crops to fail, strike them with sickness and allow their enemies to defeat them in battle. But if they still did not turn from their wicked ways, He would punish them seven times over.

I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it. Leviticus 26:32-35

For 490 years the people of God failed to observe the seventh year Sabbath of the land. A Sabbatical Year was to occur once every seven years. Two Sabbatical years were to be observed in 14 years; therefore, the land would experience seventy Sabbath rests after four hundred and ninety years. The land of the tribe of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were desolate for seventy years so that the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths they lived in it.

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3

Daniel was made aware that the time of the captivity of his people was nearing completion. The Babylonians had been overthrown by the Medes and the Persians and the seventy years of Jerusalem’s desolation was coming to an end. It is 539 B.C. and the Jews have been in captivity for 66 years since 605 B.C. This would mean that four years were left before they could return to their homeland.

Therefore Daniel garbed in sackcloth and ashes, (a sign of mourning and humility), pleads before the LORD (Yehovah) his God.

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, Daniel 9:4

Daniel begins his prayer with adoration. He recognizes that the LORD is faithful to keep His covenant.

we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:5-6

even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 14:14

Although righteous Daniel had risked his life by refusing to defile himself by eating King Nebuchadnezzar’s food, and had been thrown into a lion’s den for worshipping the God of Israel, he confesses that “we” have been wicked and rebelled. In humility, Daniel identifies himself with his people and their sinful acts.

“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

“Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Daniel 9:7-15

Daniel not only confesses the sins of his people and of their leadership, but also acknowledges the righteousness of God in punishing them for their transgression of the Law of Moses.

Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” Daniel 9:16-19

After a time of expressing his humility, offering adoration and praise, confessing his sins and the sins of his people, Daniel petitions the LORD our God to act in mercy and turn away His anger for the sake of His city and His people that bear His name.

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, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. Daniel 9:20-21

Daniel had an earlier vision of a ram with two horns and a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes which shattered the ram’s horns and trampled on it. The angel Gabriel had interpreted the vision explaining that the two-horned ram Daniel saw represented the kings of Media and Persia while the shaggy goat was the king of Greece.

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, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision: Daniel 9:22-23

While Daniel was still praying, he received an immediate answer to his prayer.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

Righteous Daniel was esteemed for his integrity of character and his devotion to the LORD his God.

“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 Place. Daniel 9:24

Seventy “sevens,” also translated as seventy “weeks,” is understood to mean seventy times “seven years” or 490 years. The Jews were in captivity in Babylon for seventy years for failing to give the land rest. They did not observe the regulation concerning the sabbatical year to take place every seven years. The desolation of their land for seventy years gave the land seventy consecutive years of rest. Had they observed this regulation, it would have taken 490 years for the land to receive seventy sabbatical years of rest.

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out 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

The seventy sevens start with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. There would be seven “sevens” or forty-nine years until Jerusalem would be rebuilt with plazas and moat. There would be opposition to challenge the rebuilding. The second set of sevens is sixty-two, which totals to 434 years. This would make a total of 483 years until the Anointed One, the Messiah would come.

The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was granted by King Artaxerxes:

King Artaxerxes, in the seventh year of his reign (457 B.C.), authorized Ezra the priest and scribe, and all who wished to join him, to go to Jerusalem. It was Ezra’s desire to instruct the Jews in the laws of God. Artaxerxes granted him large amounts of silver and gold to furnish the temple, and gave instruction that his treasurers on that side of the river should provide whatever was needed to beautify the Lord’s house.

In the decree, Artaxerxes commanded Ezra to, “…appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them. Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.”       Ezra 7:25-26.

Ezra left Babylon on the first day of the first month of Artaxerxes’ seventh year, and arrived in Jerusalem exactly four months later on the first day of the fifth month (Ezra 7:7-9). Three days later the gifts brought from Babylon were registered in the temple treasury, and sacrifices were offered to God (Ezra 8:32-35). Either at that time or shortly thereafter, “They also delivered the king’s orders to the royal satraps and to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, who then gave assistance to the people and to the house of God” Ezra 8:36.

Sometime later, officials from the surrounding nations wrote a letter of skepticism to Artaxerxes, saying, “The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations” (Ezra 4:12). They went on to say that if the king would check the history of Jerusalem, he would find that it was a rebellious city which would not submit to Babylonian rule, and that is why it was destroyed. If it were allowed to be rebuilt, the king would have the same problems again (Ezra 4:13-16).

Artaxerxes checked the records, and discovered that old Jerusalem had indeed made insurrection, rebellion and sedition against kings. So he issued a new command that the work of building should stop until he gave further word (Ezra 4:17-22).

Further word was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus when he issued a second decree on March 5, 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 2:1-8). On that occasion Artaxerxes granted the Jews specific authorization to rebuild Jerusalem’s city walls. This decree is the one referred to in Daniel 9:25.

Using the 444 B.C. date and a prophetic year of 360 days the following calculations can be made:

483 prophetic years is equal to 173,880 days (360 days X 483 years = 173,880 days). Going forward in time (the year 0 is skipped) from March 4, 444 B.C. (Nehemiah. 2:1-8) 483 prophetic years would bring you out around March 30, A.D.33 which could easily be the date of the Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem found in Matthew 21. This would then be followed by His crucifixion on April 3rd A.D. 33.

After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death 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

After the reconstruction of Jerusalem in the first seven “sevens” (forty-nine years), another “sixty-two sevens” (434 years) would pass. Then two momentous events would take place. First, the “Anointed One” would come then he would be “cut off.” Apparently his coming would be immediately at the end of the sixty-nine sevens.

“The Messiah will be cut off,” is an obvious a referral to the crucifixion of Christ. Thus, it means that Jesus’ death would have taken place in the last year of the 69th week.

In the year 66 AD the Jews of Judea rebelled against their Roman masters. In response, the Emperor Nero dispatched an army under the generalship of Vespasian to restore order. By the year 68, resistance in the northern part of the province had been eradicated and the Romans turned their full attention to the subjugation of Jerusalem. That same year, the Emperor Nero died by his own hand, creating a power vacuum in Rome. In the resultant chaos, Vespasian was declared Emperor and returned to the Imperial City. It fell to his son, Titus, to lead the remaining army in the assault on Jerusalem.

The Roman legions surrounded the city and began to slowly squeeze the life out of the Jewish stronghold. By the year 70, the attackers had breached Jerusalem’s outer walls and began a systematic ransacking of the city. The assault culminated in the burning and destruction of the Temple that served as the center of Judaism.

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 at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:27

There is a gap of time between the crucifixion and the fulfillment of the final seven years of the prophecy concerning the seventy sevens. Verse 27 of Daniel 9 says that he will confirm a covenant for one seven (seven years). Jesus instituted the New Covenant in His blood before His crucifixion. After the prophecy of the Anointed One being cut off (the death of the Messiah) and the destruction of Jerusalem, he that confirms a covenant with many is the Antichrist. The seven year period is the time of the Great Tribulation.

There are clear precedents for having a gap of time in the fulfillment of aspects of Bible prophecy; especially Messianic prophecies.

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. Isaiah 7:10-16

This prophecy had an immediate fulfillment concerning King Ahaz but also had an ultimate fulfillment later concerning the miraculous sign of the virgin birth. There was a gap of over 700 years between the initial fulfillment and final fulfillment of this prophecy.

…and 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 proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free, 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. Luke 4:17-20

Again, a prophecy uttered by Isaiah will have a large gap of time between an initial and an ultimate fulfillment. Jesus, who is quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2, dramatically stops in the middle of verse 2.

..and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, Isaiah 61:2b

Jesus’ First Advent fulfills the first half of the verse as the suffering servant Messiah coming lowly on the colt of a donkey bringing salvation. But it will be 2,000 years later until the Second Coming when Jesus returns as the King Messiah riding on a white horse. Again there is a clear gap of time in the midst of a verse of prophecy.

’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:27b

This passage of Scripture parallels time periods prophesied in the book of Revelation. One seven is a period of seven years or week of years. In the middle of the seven or halfway through the seven year period is three and one half (3½) years.

The one who sets up an abomination (an idol or image of himself), that causes desolation (the chosen people who refuse to bow down to an idol then flee the temple and the city of Jerusalem), will establish a covenant (an accord or pact), with the Jewish people for a period of time (seven years). This charismatic leader (the Antichrist), violates the agreement halfway through (3½ years after the signing), and sets up his own image to be worshipped (Rev 13:15). The second half of Daniel’s 70th week (the 70th seven – the week of years or 7 year period at the end of the age), is a time of great persecution (Rev 12:17; 13:7), or distress for the Elect (the church, body of Christ, the set apart people of God).

I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. Revelation 15:1

The end that is decreed upon the Antichrist and his followers is the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth at the 7th trumpet. At the sounding of the last trumpet the church will be raptured and taken up to heaven while the seven bowl judgments are poured out on those who have taken the mark of the beast.