The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
The seventy weeks of Daniel is a famous period of time that most consider to be a prophetic. There is a theory that the rapture and tribulation take place on Daniel’s 70th week. First let’s look at the passage in Daniel:
Daniel 9:24-27 – Seventy weeks are determined for thy people, and for thy holy city, to shut up the transgression, and to seal up sins, and to cover iniquity, and to bring in righteousness age-during, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies. And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till Messiah the Leader [is] seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even the distress of the times. And after the sixty and two weeks, cut off is Messiah, and the city and the holy place are not his, the Leader who hath come doth destroy the people; and its end [is] with a flood, and till the end [is] war, determined [are] desolations. And he hath strengthened a covenant with many – one week, and [in] the midst of the week he causeth sacrifice and present to cease, and by the wing of abominations he is making desolate, even till the consummation, and that which is determined is poured on the desolate one. (YLT)
Each week of Daniel represents seven years. Why? Look at this verse:
Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter having come near to him, said, Sir, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him – till seven times? Jesus saith to him, I do not say to thee till seven times, but till seventy times seven. (YLT)
This is a pretty famous verse because it tells us that God forgives us more than we can even forgive each other. Jesus tells Peter than he should forgive 70x7 = 490 times. Why does Jesus pick this number? Is it just random? Why doesn’t He just say infinite times? He chooses this number because it represents forgiveness and grace. Remember the year of Jubilee occurs every 49 years. Ten Jubilee cycles is 49x10 = 490 years. Jubilee also represents forgiveness and grace, as everything is restored. So the seventy weeks of Daniel is also 70x7 = 490 years.
The next question is when does Daniel’s seventy weeks start? Daniel says that it starts when a decree is made to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. When does this happen? Look in Ezra:
Ezra 7:11-25 – And this [is] a copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a scribe of the words of the commands of Jehovah, and of His statutes on Israel: Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a perfect scribe of the law of the God of heaven, and at such a time: By me hath been made a decree that every one who is willing, in my kingdom, of the people of Israel and of its priests and Levites, to go to Jerusalem with thee, doth go; because that from the king and his seven counselors thou art sent, to inquire concerning Judah and concerning Jerusalem, with the law of God that [is] in thy hand, and to carry silver and gold that the king and his counselors willingly offered to the God of Israel, whose tabernacle [is] in Jerusalem, […] appoint magistrates and judges who may be judges to all the people beyond the river, to all knowing the law of the thy God, and he who hat not know ye cause to know; (YLT)
In Ezra, King Artaxerxes I issued a degree to Ezra to rebuild Jerusalem. Artaxerxes granted Ezra silver and gold and also told him to appoint magistrates and judges. What year was this? From sources including Ptolemy’s Canon, the Babylonian business tablets, and the Elephantine papyri from Egypt we know the previous king Xerxes was killed in December 465 B.C. Ezra 7:8 says that Artaxerxes made this decree in the fifth month, in the seventh year of his reign. Seven years after 465 B.C. would be 458 B.C. However, because the Jewish calendar starts years in the spring, this would make it 457 B.C., in August, according to our calendar. Therefore, the end of Daniel’s seventy weeks is 490 years from then which is 33 A.D.; the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This makes sense because Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice to pay for our sins, and 490 represents grace and forgiveness.
Finally, let me explain the last week of Daniel. In verse 27, Daniel says that in the middle of the final week, sacrifices and offerings will cease. This would be 29 A.D. This year is when Jesus was baptized by John and when He began his ministry. Sacrifices and offerings cease in God’s eyes at this time because Jesus was baptized, and He is the true Lamb of sacrifice. In contrast, the tribulation theory takes Daniel 9:27 and divides the seven years into two parts, a lesser tribulation, and a greater tribulation. This is also where the mid-tribulation rapture theory comes from.
So overall, the tribulation theory does not fit with Daniel’s seventy weeks. The tribulation theory says that the first sixty-nine weeks represents 445 B.C. to 32 A.D., followed by a 2,000 year gap, and finally the last week is the tribulation. This big problem with this theory is that it calculates a year as 360 days instead of a standard 365 days. For more on this, see my article on Calendars. Also, the 2,000 year gap does not fit with the Age of Tabernacles, nor The Barley Overcomers, both of which I already discussed in my other articles.
457 B.C. – decree of Artaxerxes I, beginning of Daniel’s 70 weeks
408 B.C. – Jerusalem rebuilt, 7 weeks
29 A.D. – baptism of Jesus, 69 weeks
33 A.D. – Jesus’ death and resurrection, end of Daniel’s 70 weeks
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