Daniel 9: The 70 Weeks

Daniel 9 is a short interlude that gives prophecies about the timing of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the coming of the Messiah, and the time period at the end of the age. As with the previous vision, there was a period of time from the last vision that he recorded. In this case, about a year had passed since the last one as chapter 9 starts by stating that the vision happened in the first year of Darius.

Prayer and confession

In Daniel 9:3-19, Daniel prays for forgiveness for himself and his people for not following God's requirements for His people and thus finding themselves in captivity to the Babylonian empire, and now the Medes and Persians. Since there had been a war between the Babylonian empire and the kingdoms of the Medes and Persians, the Jews in captivity were probably expecting God to intervene on their behalf at any time. They had been in captivity for their appointed time.

Gabriel comes and speaks to Daniel, giving him understanding of several upcoming periods of history. He describes a period of 70 weeks - or literally 70 7's. I'll summarize some of Dake's notes on this subject. He gets a hearty endorsement from me for his work in prophecy in particular. It was the main reason I chose his Bible commentary when looking for a study bible.

The 70 weeks dissected

I'm going to quote some parts of Dake's notes verbatim, and summarize some other sections

There are 14 main parts to this prophecy. Without a clear understanding of them many other prophecies cannot be fully understood.
  1. Meaning of the 70 weeks.

    The phrase 70 weeks literally means 70 sevens (Heb. for week is shabua, seven)

    70 sevens of years because:

  2. Division of the 70 weeks or 70 sevens. They are divided into 3 main periods:
  3. The weeks concern thy people (Daniel's people) and thy holy city (Daniel's native city, Jerusalem). They don't concern the church at all. It came into existence after the 69th week, and will be raptured before the 70th.
  4. Since they concern both the people and Jerusalem, then the time that Israel is scattered abroad is not significant to this prophecy.
  5. The six things left to be done in the 70 weeks
  6. There were 3 decrees for the restoration of Jerusalem. The first came during the reign of Cyrus. Darius I confirmed the decree. Artaxerxes issued the 3rd decree to Nehemiah to restore and build Jerusalem which took 49 years. The 3rd decree was 94 years after the first.
  7. The crucifixion of the Messiah was to be 62 sevens or 434 years after the restoration of Jerusalem.
  8. The people of the prince that shall come (v 26). This refers to the Romans who fulfilled this prophecy of the destruction of the city and temple and brought the desolation of v 26. This was fulfilled in 70 A.D.
  9. The prince that shall come (v 26). This refers to the Antichrist who will come from the Roman Empire territory, that is, the Grecian portion, and from the people who destroyed the city and temple of Israel in 70 A.D.
  10. The church age - the great interval between the 69th and 70th weeks. This period was not seen by the prophets, but it is clear here that certain things were to happen between the crucifixion of the Messiah and the Antichrist who makes the 7-year covenant with Israel in the later days
  11. There are 12 great events listed between the 69th and 70th week. Of these, the creation of the nation of Israel, their control of Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the temple are of paramount importance for timing future events. The temple restoration has had some bumpy starts. The temple mount was taken by the IDF in 1967 and prayer was established, but the Israeli government gave control to the Muslim Wakf who immediately banned Jewish prayer there. In 1987 the Temple Institute is founded which starts making the vessels that will be needed for the temple. In 2001, the Muslim Wakf declares that there never was a first or second temple and destroys archaeological evidence on the mount. Jews are once again allowed to return to the mount in 2003. You can't see what is going on in the current history of the world and not be convinced that the end times are very near. Other primary events to watch for are the unification at some level of 10 kingdoms, the rising of the Antichrist, his 7 year pact with Israel, and the rapture of the church. The tribulation period that we will be covering in much of Revelation runs simultaneously with the last week of Daniel's vision - the last seven years of the age.
  12. The church age we are living in comes between the 69th week and this last 70th week. The church doesn't play any part in the fulfillment of this prophecy. Nevertheless, if you haven't accepted Christ as your Savior, I urge you to take this opportunity to do so. The times, they are a changing.
  13. The Antichrist makes a non-aggression pact with Israel. During this time, in the first 3 1/2 years of the 70th week, the Antichrist will gain power over the remaining 7 kingdoms (or 6 if you maintain that he will come from one of the original 10).
  14. At the middle of the 70th week he breaks his covenant with Israel, enters and takes over Palestine, and makes the Jewish temple his capital building. He will then do away with all Jewish sacrifices in the temple and set himself and his image up in the temple to be worshiped. This continues for the last of the 3 1/2 years (2,300 evenings and mornings).
  15. Two witnesses will rise up and testify of God and prophecy of what is to come for a period of 1,260 days. There will be plagues caused by these two witnesses (Enoch and Elijah) and they will have divine protection, being able to reverse any attack and consume with fire from their mouths (again showing the power of the Word of the Lord that Elijah had good practice with).
  16. During the remaining 3 1/2 years, the great tribulation will be poured out via the vial judgments, and will end with the defeat of the Antichrist and destruction at Armageddon.

Conclusions

This has given a bit of interpretation about the first three visions. We will cover Daniel 10 and most of 11 in the next lesson. In the last Daniel lesson, we'll take the portions of the Antichrist's reign from Daniel 11 and finish Daniel 12.

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Dake excerpt taken from Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, © 1961, 1963 by Finis Jennings Dake, and is reproduced on our web site with permission from representatives of Dake Publishing.