Text: Read Daniel 9, especially verses 24-27

The Adult Bible Study (ABS) is currently in the final lap of her study on Systematic Theology. The latest meeting involved the study of Eschatology (the doctrine of the end times), dealing particularly with the Seventy Weeks of Daniel as recorded in Daniel chapter 9.

Daniel received this prophecy “in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the Chaldeans” (Dan. 9:1), which was 537 B.C. This was 69 years after Daniel was deported with the first wave of exiles to Babylon in 606 B.C.

As a man of faith, Daniel was an avid student of the Scriptures. His diligent study brought him to the Word of God that was given through his contemporary Jeremiah. “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jer. 25:11) “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” (Jer. 29:10) Just one more year before the promised return to Jerusalem! Indeed, one year later, Cyrus, the king of Persia would announce a decree allowing the children of Israel to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. God’s ordinances will always go according to plan.

Having understood the prophecy, Daniel immediately sought to intercede for the children of Israel. Why did he do so? Because he understood that their predicament was due to their rebellion against God. The exile was one of the curses that will accompany disobedience in Deuteronomy 28:64-68. Now that the Jews were about to return to Jerusalem, Daniel prayed that the Lord will be merciful to His people and forgive them of their sins. The return to Jerusalem must begin on a right footing – in all purity of heart and life. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

Interestingly, the Lord sent the angel Gabriel immediately, in response to the prayer of Daniel. The purpose of his mission was to give Daniel a greater understanding of what is to come for the Jews with respect to their salvation and restoration. The return to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile is just the beginning. There is still another 70 “weeks” in God’s prophetic calendar for the Jews! These seventy “weeks” is required for the atonement of the sins of God’s people, to fulfil the prophecies of Scriptures, and also for God’s holy temple to be rebuilt and anointed (Dan 9:24).

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of 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.  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: 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, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan. 9:24-27)

Now we must understand that the term “weeks” in verse 24 is the Hebrew word for “sevens” ( ;שִׁבְִׁעִׁיםshive’im). Thus, verse 24 can be rendered as “seventy sevens are determined”. Here, God was telling Daniel that it would take not just 70 years but a
prophetic 70 x 7 = 490 years for His salvation of Israel to be consummated.

The prophetic seventy weeks are divided into three sections:
7 x 7 = 49 years
62 x 7 = 434 years
1 x 7 = 7 years

Observe that the prophecy grouped the first two divisions as a pair. This indicates that while the events of the first and second divisions (i.e. 49 + 434 years) will proceed continuously, there is a break before the third division (1 x 7 years) will proceed.

The seventy weeks begun when the decree was issued to rebuild Jerusalem. This decree was issued by Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. It took 49 years for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. This accounts for the first division of 7 x 7 years.

After Jerusalem was rebuilt, there will be another 62 x 7 = 434 years before the Messiah will be cut off. Indeed, after 434 years, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross in A.D. 30. This was followed by the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later by General Titus.

The last 1 x 7 years deal with the events of Christ Second Coming. The final 70th week points to the Great Tribulation that will be suffered by the Jews. This last week will commence with the covenant of peace made by the Antichrist with the Jews. However, in the half-way point of the seven years (i.e. after 3.5 years), the Antichrist will break the covenant and wage war with Israel. This breaking of the covenant is done by stopping the sacrifice of the Jews and the desecration of the Holy Place (Matt. 24:15). Just like the Father of Lies, the Antichrist will not keep His Word!

We see the first two divisions of the seventy weeks already fulfilled in Christ first coming. Now if Christ first coming was indeed fulfilled, surely the events of the 7-week tribulation will surely be fulfilled. Why then are we laying treasures upon the earth, only for them to be swept up one day into the system of the Antichrist? May the Lord grant us discernment of these things.

Yours affectionately
Pastor Clement Chew