by Bill Nugent
The Old Testament contains over 300 prophecies of the birth, life, teachings, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Messiah. (“Messiah” is synonymous with “Christ.”) One such prophecy which consists of a precise prediction of the time that Jesus would die is contained in the book of Daniel.
Daniel the Jewish prophet was captured by the Babylonians around the time that the Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Daniel was taken to Babylon and there he wrote his book which survives in the Old Testament to this day.
In Daniel 9:21 Daniel wrote that Gabriel appeared to him and gave him a prophecy regarding a time period of 490 years. It would be a time period marked out by seventy periods of seven years each. We measure years in decades but the ancient Hebrews measured years in septads (or weeks of years).
In the prophecy given by Gabriel to Daniel it is revealed that after the decree is issued to rebuild Jerusalem there would be 70 weeks (70 x 7 = 490 years) in which certain events would take place and that after the 69th week (or septad) the Messiah would be “cut off.” The term “cut off” is an ancient euphemism for “killed.” Hence, a very clear time frame for the coming and death of Messiah is given.
I will now quote the relevant portion of this prophecy from a Jewish Bible: The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text (Jewish Publication Society of America; Philadelphia). The wording in this traditional Jewish Bible seems to conceal that the passage refers to the Messiah but even this unsympathetic translation can’t obscure its true meaning.
Here is the passage with my comments interspersed within it:“Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, . . .(Messiah died for our sins so that we can receive forgiveness and begin to live righteously)
. . . and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem . . . (According to Bible scholars, the word to rebuild Jerusalem was given by King Artaxerxes on the first day of the month of Nisan , 444 BC, see Nehemiah 2:1-8)
. . . unto one anointed, a prince, . . . (the Hebrew word rendered “one anointed” is “Mashiyach” which is usually anglicized to “Messiah” and the fact that the Jewish Bible renders it “one anointed” rather than “Messiah” is perhaps to conceal that this passage is referring to the Messiah who, as we shall see, was to have come by the early part of the first century AD and Jesus of Nazareth certainly fits into that time frame!!!)
. . . shall be seven weeks; and for three score and two weeks, . . .(total of 69 weeks of years or 483 years) . . . it shall be built again, (Jerusalem shall be built again, it had been destroyed in 586 BC) with plaza and moat, but in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one . . . (again “Anointed one” is the word “Mashiyach” in the original Hebrew!!!)
. . . be cut off…” (“cut off” is an expression meaning death, i.e., the death of Messiah the Prince a.k.a. Jesus of Nazareth!)
H. W. Hoehner, in his book Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ has calculated the time period of the 69 septads (weeks) which is 483 years (lunar calendar, 360 days in each year) which comes to 173,880 days from Nisan 1, 444 BC and comes to the conclusion that on Nisan 10 (March 30) of 33 AD Jesus the Messiah made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (See Josh McDowell’s book A Ready Defense pp. 57-59.)
On April 3, 33 AD Jesus was crucified or “cut off” (Daniel 9:26). His death brought forgiveness of sins because Jesus in His suffering and death endured the wrath of God in our place. Thus He made an end of sins and brought in everlasting righteousness. We’ve discussed 69 of the 70 weeks; the 70th week has its own dramatic fulfillment which is beyond the scope of this article.
The resurrection and ascension of Jesus are prophesied in other passages of the Old Testament. The second coming of Jesus the Messiah is prophesied in several passages in the Old Testament including a very dramatic unfolding of events leading up to it recorded in the book of Zechariah chapters 12, 13 and 14.
Prophesies and fulfillments such as these are not seen in any other writings of any other world religion. The Bible alone is the holy book that is inspired of God and reveals God’s loving forgiveness and mercy through Christ who came to redeem us.