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Seventy Weeks

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” (Daniel 9:24).

The first thing that I want you to notice is that this is a prophecy concerning something which cannot be changed. The weeks are “determined”—they are all set and fixed and planned by Almighty God. The second thing I want you to notice is that this seventy weeks deals with the people of Israel, “thy people,” and the city of Jerusalem,“thy holy city.”

Here God is saying that His dealings with the children of Israel, until the setting up of the millennial kingdom, will cover a period of seventy weeks. As it is put in verse 24, “seventy weeks … to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.” The word translated as “weeks” may be translated either as “sevens” or as “weeks.” We find in other passages of Scripture (i.e. Genesis 29:26,27) that a period of seven years can be called a week. With that in mind, notice that the seventy weeks make exactly four hundred and ninety years.

The seventy weeks are divided into three parts. The first section contains seven weeks, or forty-nine years. The second part covers sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years. That leaves the last week, the seventieth one, by itself: “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” (Daniel 9:25,26).

Now if you turn to Nehemiah 2:1, you will have the exact date given when the command to rebuild Jerusalem was made: “It came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king…” The record goes on to show how Nehemiah made a request of the king that he might be permitted to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple and the wall. History fixes the date of the twentieth year of Artaxerxes’ reign as 445 BC. It is also a matter of history that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple and all of the streets, took exactly forty-nine years, fulfilling the first division of the seventy weeks of Daniel.

Then, from that period on, we are told, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off.” History records how, four hundred and thirty-four years after the rebuilding of the Temple, the Messiah, which refers of course to the Lord Jesus Christ, was crucified. After the first sixty-nine weeks, the city of Jerusalem was to be destroyed and trodden under foot: “And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:26). This, too, is a matter of history. In 70 AD Titus, the Roman, swept down upon the land of Palestine and destroyed the city and the sanctuary, and carried away the rest of the children of Israel as captives into all the lands of the world.

Then God began to deal with the Church, calling out a Bride for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel, as it were, is sidetracked for the present until God resumes his dealings with them in the last of Daniel’s seventy weeks. All of this is corroborated by the rest of Scripture. We read, for instance, concerning the Antichrist: “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” (Daniel 9:27). Jesus has told us that this “abomination of desolation” will take place in the future Tribulation Period (Matthew 24:15). See Revelation 11-13 for more details about these times and events.

I trust that you will be able to see what God meant to reveal to Daniel. There are seventy weeks during which God will deal with Israel. The first sixty-nine expired at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the Rapture of the church, God will continue the last week, and this week we call the Tribulation Period. The last part of it, the last half of it, is called the Great Tribulation.

May I again ask you if you are ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ? If He should come today, would you be prepared to meet Him in the air?

—Condensed from Daniel the Prophet by M. R. DeHaan.