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Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy

The Old Testament gives us a contrasting prophetic picture of both the first and the second coming of Christ. In His first coming He was a suffering servant, but in His second coming He will be a conquering King. Most Jews of the first century rejected Christ because they wanted Him to be a conquering King during His first coming who would free them from Roman occupation and restore the sovereignty they lost in 586 BC. On the day that Jesus presented Himself as the King of Israel, rather than riding into Jerusalem on a white horse with the armies of heaven, He road into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11) and shortly thereafter the religious leaders of the Jews "plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him" (Matthew 26:4).

Luke 19:41-44 describes Jesus on His final entry to Jerusalem: "Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes...'" During His first coming Jesus came to establish spiritual peace not political peace. He then said, "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another." (v. 43-44) This prophecy was fulfilled 30 years later when the Roman Emperor Titus and his army destroyed Jerusalem along with the Jewish temple there, leaving only the temple foundation which remains at the heart of Jerusalem to this day.

Jesus went on to say why Jerusalem would be destroyed once again: "because you did not know the time of your visitation." (v.44) This statement is most likely a reference to Daniel's "70 Weeks" prophecy, which identified when Christ would appear – "the time of your visitation." After Israel was conquered and Jerusalem destroyed in 586 BC, God revealed to the prophet Daniel that the decree to "restore and build Jerusalem" would begin a prophetic time clock that would count down for 69 "weeks of years" and then Christ would be "cut off." (Daniel 9:24-26) This decree was given to Nehemiah "in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes" (Nehemiah 2:1), which scholars have identified as March 14, 445 BC. On Jewish calendars a "week of years" is 7 years and a prophetic year is 360 days. The following chart shows how this prophecy identified the probable day that Christ road into Jerusalem, presenting Himself as the King of Israel, and was rejected ("cut off"), remembered today as Palm Sunday. To identify the year or decade would be amazing, let alone the exact day, 483 years before it happened!

daniel's 70 weeks prophecy illustration

According to both the Old and New Testament, Israel as a nation will embrace Jesus Christ as their Messiah during the 70th "week of years" of Daniel's prophecy. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah recorded God's words about this profound change in Israel: "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn... They will call on My name, and I will answer them..." (Zechariah 12:10-14:11). The apostle Paul wrote, "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles [non-Jews] has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'" (Romans 11:25-27)

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When the apostle Paul suffered persecution and stood on trial for being a Christian, he explained that he wasn't inventing some new religion; but rather he was simply preaching the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: "Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: 'Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.'" (Acts 24:10-14)

The apostle Paul's preaching simply echoed that of Christ: "Then He [Jesus on the day of His resurrection] said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses [the Law] and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:25-27)

Before Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem, He told His disciples, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man [another name for the Son of God] will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again." (Luke 18:31-33)

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