Series: Thru the Bible
Message: Gabriel’s enigma & the Father’s love
Gabriel’s enigma & the Father’s love
Last time we met, which was the week before Hurricane Ian, we covered Daniel 9:24-25a which read,
Dan. 9:24-27, “Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. (25) So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.”
We focused on WHEN the countdown would BEGIN. We did this to determine the date of the events mentioned. Once we discovered the date it would be an easy thing to discover what events took place which fit the prophecy. Of course the only thing which COULD answer to all the outcomes was the redemptive work of Messiah. But do the dates line up?
So we began our investigation by looking for Gabriel’s “issuing of the command” which he told Daniel about and which command would offer us our starting point.
We discovered only 4 candidates, and out of them only ONE which truly fit all that was said,
The fourth and final decree was issued by Artaxerxes I and was given to Nehemiah in 445B.C. and is recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-8. So we determined that the countdown had to begin in 445B.C.
That is where we pick up this week.
Now it seems like it would be a simple matter to count this out. The original statement was 70 sets of 7 years would pass….
- to finish the transgression – that is the dominion of the law
- to put an end to sin – that is to sin’s absolute power over man
- to wipe away evil, sins and injustice – that is to destroy sin in relation to the sinner and reconcile them to God.
- To bring in everlasting righteousness
However, Gabriel’s words in verse 24 was simply a preemptive summary statement which he builds upon in verse 25. In verse 25, Gabriel takes the 70 sets of 7 and divides them up into 7 sets of 7 years and 62 sets of 7 years and leaves the last set of 7 years unaddressed.
Just so you follow – we have 70 sets of 7 and in verse 25 only 7 sets and 62 sets are mentioned. That equals 69 sets leaving one last set of 7 years unaddressed.
Let’s read it again,
“(25) So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.”
So the way in which Gabriel is laying this out, there is a suggested gap between the time periods. In fact, it suggests 3 gaps which are most likely separated by time.
We know that the total years of the entire prophecy of 70 sets of 7 years adds up to 490 years.
Verse 25 addresses only the first 483 of those years.
- 7 x 7 = 49
- 62 x 7 = 434
- 49 + 434 = 483
- 483 – 490 = 7 remaining years.
So, starting our counting at 445B.C. at the issuing of the command from Artaxerxes I in the life of Nehemiah we will start counting out the first of the 483 years which is 7 sets of 7 years equalling 49 years. What happened 49 years after the issuing of the command to rebuild and restore?
Well if we were ONLY dealing with modern calendars it would be very simple. We would arrive at 396 B.C. and look around for events which fit the prediction.
We are NOT however, using the modern Gregorian Calendar nor even the semi-modern Julian Calendar. No – we are relegated to using the Jewish Calendar. As such there are several things which must be accounted for and rather than drag you through how to arrive at this yourself, I thought I’d fast track you there with simple explanations along the way.
First off, we have to remember that Israel’s calendar is a lunisolar calendar. To express just how this complicates things for us modern and yet, simpler thinkers I will quote from Wikipedia regarding the Israeli ancient calendar system.
“The Hebrew lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year and uses the 19-year Metonic cycle to bring it into line with the solar year, with the addition of an intercalary month every two or three years, for a total of seven times per 19 years. Even with this intercalation, the average Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 40 seconds than the current mean tropical year, so that every 216 years the Hebrew calendar will fall a day behind the current mean tropical year.”
In addition to this are sabbatical years and adjustments for keeping fall and summer festivals occurring in the fall and summer respectively.
All that notwithstanding, it is still completely possible to tack down the precise year!
Now my often referenced David Guzik, has a simplified outline of the later portion of this which I am going to use to make this as straightforward as possible.
However, the first portions of this – being the first 49 years, most scholars simply make a quick, unqualified statement and move on. I do not like doing that, but I did not have the time to invest in figuring it all out on my own either so I will simply build upon their statements.
This first period of 49 years (7 sets of 7 years) is clearly referring to the restoration and repairing of Jerusalem as is indicated in the statement of Gabriel. Now, if this was simply referring to the physical rebuilding of Jerusalem we have a problem because it is a matter of historical record that this was accomplished in 52 days.
Now, it is considered MOST likely that this rebuilding was preliminary – meaning it was patchwork which would make the city secure, but was not a finished work. This may very well be true, but it is unlikely that 49 years would be necessary to simply rebuild, especially with all of the resources being supplied for them.
I believe the key to this lies in the word restore. It is a Hebrew word meaning – to turn, to return, to go back, to do again, to change, to bring back, to reestablish.
So understanding that historically, God’s design is NEVER simply physical, His concerns are those of the heart. So this turning back and bringing back to a state of reestablishment would indicate social and moral reform as well.
The two major players involved in this effort were Nehemiah and Ezra, however, as one might expect, dating the ministries of these two men offers some minor challenges.
Ezra and Nehemiah were employed in restoring the sacred constitutions and civil establishments of the Jews.
Ezra 7:8 records that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the seventh year of king Artaxerxes.
Nehemiah 2:1-8:9 has Nehemiah arriving in Artaxerxes’ twentieth year.
This is only problematic because Nehemiah was said to arrive FIRST at the decree of Artaxerxes.
Now this problem is not all that difficult to address. Nehemiah served under Artaxerxes I whose administration lasted from 465-424 BC. This Artaxerxes, issued the command to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 B.C..
Ezra, on the other hand, was under Artaxerxes II, so that he arrived in 398 B.C.
There are arguments over this, but this has strong support since Nehemiah’s initial mission is to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and Ezra 9:9 notes that Ezra found the walls in place when he arrived. Also Nehemiah lists the returnees who came back with Zerubbabel, but he seemed to know nothing about the 5,000 or so who accompanied Ezra. This indicates that Nehemiah came first and Ezra second – both under different Artaxerxes.
Now this is the part I did not have time for – 445 B.C. – Ezra’s arrival at 398 B.C. is only 47 years. What I do not have is proof of how long Ezra did his reforming work, nor a correlation of the calendar which compensates for sabbatical years and seasonal adjustments. However, the vast majority of scholars are well satisfied that this was the time period, so for now, I have to assume that the other two years are in fact well accounted for.
One possible accounting for those missing 2 years is that the total fulfillment would not be complete until the beginning of the 400 years of silence – where there is no record (written or otherwise) of God speaking to His people. This time period would be the beginning of the most troublesome and faith-trying times Israel ever knew and therefore would fit the last portion of Gabriel’s statement of it occurring in “troublesome times”. From Nehemiah in 445 B.C. until the prophetic voice fell silent in Malachi which was in 396 B.C. – a total of 49 years!
Now we move onto the 7 sets of 62 “years” = 434 years
We need to understand a year in Jewish terms. Anderson sees a prophetic year as 360 days. This is based both on ancient history and on Rev. 11:2; Rev. 13:5; Rev. 11:3; Rev. 12:6 which indicate that 42 months (3 ½ years) are equal to 1,260 days.
So applying that to our 483 years, we have 483 years x 360 days = 173,880 days.
As we stated earlier, Artaxerxes I started his reign in 465 B.C. The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given on the first day of Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. In our calendar system (the Julian calendar) that date is March 14, 445 B.C. which we determined from Nehemiah 2:1 in which we read of the decree.
According to Luke 3:1b Jesus started His ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius. We know from history that Tiberius started his reign in 14 A.D., so Jesus’ ministry started in 29 A.D.
Anderson believes that Jesus celebrated four Passovers during His ministry, one each of the years He ministered. His first ministry Passover would have been in 29 A.D. and His final Passover in 32 A.D..
With the help of lunar charts, we can calculate the exact date of ancient Passovers, so it is possible to calculate the exact day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as April 6, 32 A.D.
From 445 B.C. to 32 A.D. there are 476 years on the Julian calendar (not 477 years, because there is no year zero).
476 years x 365 days = 173,740 days.
Daniel’s words however tell us it will be 173,880 days leaving a 140 day balance!
- Adjusting for the difference between March 14, which is the date Artaxerxes I issued the command and April 6, the date in which Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem occurred adds 24 days.
- Adjusting for leap years over a period of 476 years adds 116 days.
116 + 24 = 140 days
The total number of days from March 14, 445 B.C. to April 6, 32 A.D.
173,740 + 24 + 116 = 173,880 days
So the dating is precise between the decree of Artaxerxes I and the arrival of Messiah the Prince.
Jesus said to the Jews of this very day: “If you had known, even you, especially IN THIS YOUR DAY, the things that make for your peace!” (Luke 19:42) and David said of this day in Psalm 118:24 : “THIS IS THE DAY which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
So we now know the WHO, WHAT & WHEN of the first portion of the prophecy. It is Jesus!
You might say,
“Well, that’s terrific… but I thought that the 483 yeast pointed to when the dominion of the law and sin would end, when sin would be destroyed in relation to the sinner and an everlasting righteousness would be brought in. That would be at the resurrection of Jesus, so the counting is off by several days!”
See, I knew that is what you were thinking!
Well, verses 24 and 25 are not islands unto themselves. Let’s go on to verse 26 and see how that sets this right!
“(26) Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing.”
So the counting was until Messiah was seen as prince – NOT when He ws cut off.
When did that happen? On the DAY of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem!
AFTER that He was cut off!
The wording “cut off” is a Biblical term sometimes used to describe execution as in Genesis 9:11 and Exodus 31:14. Messiah would be cut off for the sake of others, not for Himself!
What we just covered were the 69 sets of 7 years. So what of the last seven years?
We’ll cover that next week!