In various issues of Thy Kingdom Come over the past few months, I have highlighted prophecies concerning the Second Advent, most particularly the prophecies of Daniel 12, Lazarus, Ezekiel 47: 3-4 and the Lord’s Great Week. All these prophecies suggest that this particular moment in time might be the most momentous period of history.
Yet, the Lord’s Return is an event still to come so it’s natural that any interpretation of prophecy is still suspect. After all, in each of the previous prophecies, it is still interpretation. It begs the question, “Is there a similar type prophecy, yet one that is fulfilled, that we might view to determine whether Second Advent prophecies are credible. Of course, there is, it is the Prophecy of the First Advent, carefully laid out by the Lord God Almighty in the Book of Daniel. If we can determine that this prophecy unfolded as God intended, then we should be able to look at Second Advent prophecies and anticipate without a shadow of a doubt that they will also come to pass exactly as He intends.
The prophet Daniel was among the first captives taken to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Nation of Judah in 604 BC. Through prophecies he was divinely inspired to record we have gained much insight into God’s Plan for the world in the last days of this age. One evening in prayer, Daniel received a visit from the Angel Gabriel through a vision and this most critical of all prophecies was imparted to him.
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end to 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” (Daniel 9: 24)
Seventy weeks! It is a very explicit time frame pronounced upon the Nation of Judah. We know that seventy weeks is 490 days (70 x 7) and if we apply the conversion formula of Ezekiel 4: 6, “I have appointed thee each day for a year,” the seventy weeks converts to exactly 490 years. The prophecy began when the remnant of the House or Nation of Judah (the Jews) were permitted to return from Babylon to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The seventy weeks ended when the Lord Jesus Christ took the Kingdom of God from the Jews and gave it to the Birthright tribe of Joseph. Before proceeding further, it is important to realize that this particular passage also set out a six-point program that Jesus Christ the Messiah would accomplish. Space doesn’t permit comment on this program but Howard Rand’s “Documentary Studies,” is recommended for the interested reader.
Once the timing and six-point plan had been revealed to Daniel, God made him aware of the various planks of the plan.
“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; 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 the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9: 25-27)
The reader will note that the seventy weeks is split into three different time periods. First, seven weeks or 49 years was to be spent re-building the city of Jerusalem, which Nebuchadnezzar totally destroyed along with the temple in his final assault against Jerusalem in 586 BC. Second, the Jews (a small percentage of the Judahites, Benjamites & Levites) were to spend 62 weeks or 434 years awaiting the Messiah. Thirdly, the Messiah would walk among them. His mandate was to cover a period of one week or seven years (known as Daniel’s seventieth week). In the middle of the week, a significant event was to occur.
It is at this point where opinions diverge. Most theologians teach that God’s clock stopped at the end of the 69th week and the 70th week is still to come. According to them, it begins with the Rapture, that the the Anti-Christ makes a covenant with the Jews (the innocent Jews are fooled) after three and a half years and the week ends with the return of Christ. Others suggest that the crucifixion occurred mid-week (or after 3½ years into the 70th week) and believe the other 3½ years is to be fulfilled at the end of the age, immediately before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some believe that the 3½ years expired with the stoning of Stephen and the exodus of the Apostles from Palestine to teach the lost sheep of the House of Israel. When Christian writer Stephen Jones outlined his interpretation of the 70th week, it seemed to solve the mystery of the 70th week, at least as far as I am concerned, and after a short study, I concluded as well that the 70th week was played out in its entirity in Christ’s Life, Death and Resurrection. Thanks to the work of Mr. Jones, much of the balance of this study is possible.
To begin, we must determine two dates. Firstly, we need to know the date of the “going forth of the commandment to restore” referred to in Daniel 9: 10. Secondly, we need to determine beyond a doubt the year Jesus Christ was born. Surprisingly, both of these dates are easily determined through a short study of Bible passages and secular history.
The Encyclopedia Britannica reveals that Artaxerxes I of Persia ruled from 465 BC to 425 BC. He is the king who gave the “going forth of the commandment to restore.” Ezra 7: 6-7 tells us that Ezra received this command in the seventh year of this King’s reign. Therefore, simple arithmetic demonstrates that Ezra departed Babylon with his 49,000 Judahites, Benjamites and Levites (the Jews) in 458 BC. Determination of this date then makes it easy to determine the end of the 483 years mentioned above and in Daniel 9: 25, that is, the 7 weeks (49 years) plus the 62 weeks (434 years).
- So, beginning at 458 BC, when Artaxerxes 1st of Persia issues edict permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild and await the Messiah, we go forward 69 weeks or 483 years and arrive at 26 Ad, the end of the 69th week of the prophecy and the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week.
As an aside, Daniel 9: 25 refers to the re-building taking place in troublesome times and it might be well to briefly note how this prophecy was fulfilled. After the Persian Empire (the conquerors of Babylon who freed the Jews) fell, times were not easy for the young Jewish nation. They not only faced much persecution because of their religion (Judaism), but, they often found their country in between opposing armies and thus becoming the battleground. The Greeks conquered them in 175 BC, plundered their temple and vilified Judaism in an effort to convert them to their own false religion. That oppression lasted for nine years and brought on what is known as the “Macabee” wars, bringing forth a short period of independence. Jewish wars with neighbours during this period at least bore some fruit. They conquered Idumea, home of Esau’s dependents, and forced them to accept Judaism. Also, many more of their neighbours converted through fear of the Jews. Presumably, this means many of the peoples formally known as Philistines, Canaanites, Hittites, Ammonites, Moabites and Samaritans. Still, a little more than sixty years before the birth of Christ, the Romans conquered the Jews and formed the province of Judea. Armed with this knowledge, it must be emphasized that all the residents of the Judean territory, regardless of their actual nationality, became known as Judeans or Jews. They were certainly not all Israelites. (Refer to Josephus “Antiquities of the Jews” and Esther 8: 17).
Many Christians believe that after 3½ years from the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week, Christ was crucified. Yet, this simply does not fit the numerical pattern nor does it conform to Daniel 9: 27, which suggests the Messiah will confirm the covenant for one week. Knowing this and the date the 483 years ended, that is 26 AD, it makes more sense to look at the 3 ½ years to the midst of the week as follows:
- So from 26 AD, the beginning of the 70th week, we go forward 3½ years to 29 AD when John the Baptist baptized the Lord Jesus Christ.
Obviously some proof has to be put forth to demonstrate that the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized in 29 AD. Also, it is at this point in this thesis that the year of Christ’s Birth must be determined. As far as the Baptism fitting the prophecy of Daniel 9: 27 is concerned, Mr. Jones believes that it was at the point when God had effectively caused the “sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” It had to be finalized on the Cross, for as the Apostle Paul stated, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2: 14). Still, through the Baptism, God took the first step to eliminate the Law of Ordinances, or the sacrifice of animals as sin offerings. Ironically, most theologians today believe it was the total Laws of God nailed to the Cross and by preaching this false doctrine, have been very instrumental for the deteriorating state of our present day lack of values. “Woe to the shepherd” should be clearly in mind for all such teachers.
Many Bible scholars see Daniel’s seventieth week beginning at 26 or 27 AD, at least the 69th week completing. However, they also have him being baptized at that time and this, according to the Scriptures and secular history, is numerically impossible. For a clearer understanding, the following facts, again detailed by Christian writer Stephen Jones, will be presented in point form.
- Luke 1: 36 reveals that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was six months pregnant when Jesus was conceived. This means John must have been roughly six months older than Jesus and would have begun his ministry at the accepted age of 30, approximately six months before Jesus Christ.
- Luke 3: 1-3 clearly tells us that John the Baptist began his ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor of Rome. Tiberius began his reign on August 19, 14 AD. The Encyclopedia Britannica confirms that Tiberius’ predecessor, Augustus Caesar, died on that date. There is other evidence of this critical date, such as coins that were minted in Tiberius’ honour. In any event, the fifteenth year from 14 AD is clearly 29 AD.
- Luke 3: 23 states that when Jesus was baptized, he was 30 years of age. This was fall, 29 AD and working backward, taking the cross over year into consideration, then his birth must have taken place sometime in the fall, 2 BC. Sadly, we celebrate His Birth on December 25th, which is an adoption of a pagan holiday. In reality, Christ was likely born in late September or early October 2 BC. In any event, 2 BC is truly important to keep in mind as we look at the prophecies concerning His Second Advent.
- The Book of St. John demonstrates that the ministry of Jesus Christ covered a period of 3½ years, that He attended three Passover celebrations and at the 4th, was crucified.
These facts demonstrate that we should be able to look at the dating of Daniel’s prophecy as follows:
- Adding the 15 years of Luke 3: 1-3 to 14 AD, when Roman Caesar Tiberius began his reign, we come to 29 AD when John the Baptist turned 30 and began his Ministry. Remember, he had to be 30 to become a priest.
- John the Baptist began his Ministry in the spring of 29 AD when he was 30 so we can go back 30 years and find he must have been born in spring 2 BC.
- 2 BC, the year of Christ’s birth (born approximately 6 months after John the Baptist), means that He too turned 30 in 29 AD and at that point was baptized by John the Baptist.
- Taking Fall 29 AD and the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan as the beginning of Christ’s Ministry and adding the remaining 3½ years, we come to 33 AD when Christ was crucified.
- Finally, adding the seven weeks or 490 years to 458 BC when the Jewish nation was born with the edict of Artaxerxes I and their return to Jerusalem entrusted with God’s earthly Kingdom takes us to 33 AD when Jesus told the Jews the Kingdom would be taken from them. This happened at His Crucifixion and at the end of Daniel’s seventy weeks.
There is another aspect to this prophecy that must be considered. Mr. Jones further points that just before his vision, Daniel was praying to God for forgiveness for his people (the Jews) and for Jerusalem (Daniel 9: 4-19). So, in making the prophecy, which has become known as “Daniel’s seventy weeks”, Daniel was effectively prophesying the end of the Jewish nation and Jerusalem, because God knew they would not accept the Messiah. At this juncture, it is significant to know that notwithstanding that the bulk of Israel was making its way across Asia and Europe, the Jews were still in possession of the Temple, the Laws of God codified by Moses at Sinai and the symbols of the Kingdom. Indeed, the Kingdom was entrusted to the remnant of Judah that returned from Babylonian captivity over five centuries earlier. Jesus changed all this when he declared, “Therefore say I unto you, (the Jews) The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21: 43). This took place upon his crucifixion.
Christ also told them that, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23: 38). Bible scholars all agree that the number “40” is a most significant one. It is often used in the Scriptures in association with periods of probation, trial and chastisement. It’s like a test period but in this case, the Jews failed the test.
- Adding the 40 years to 30 AD when John the Baptist was beheaded we arrive at 70 AD when the Roman legions under the command of Titus began the invasion of Jerusalem to put down Jewish rebellion and the Romans totally destroyed the city and temple.
- Adding exactly 40 years to 33 AD when Christ was crucified, we arrive at 73 AD when the Jews of Massada committed suicide on Passover.
On His way to His Crucifixion, when a number of women were mourning for Him, Christ turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23: 28). Obviously, He was referring to the Roman invasion where over one million Jews were killed and 90,000 deported as slaves. The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived during the time of Christ, recorded much of what is known of the tragedy. Stephen Jones perhaps summed it up best when he said, “So ended the Judahite nation, a victim of the Death Angel. They had rejected the blood of the Lamb of God. They had rejected the rulership of Joshua (Jesus), clinging instead to Moses (the Law). And so, even as Moses died 40 years after that first Passover, so also did the Judahite nation die after the True Passover of the Cross.”
What is important is that the timing of the Plan for the First Advent was exact. It should be, because God is exact. Therefore, when we look to prophecies dealing with the Second Advent, we can be sure they will also take place on time as well. In a vision, after which God showed the prophet Habakkuk end times events, God said, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”