Bible Study on Daniel 9- The Truth About the 70-Week Prophecy
by Steve Sterling 11/23/2011 / Prophecy
The 70 weeks mentioned in Daniel 9:24-27 is actually a part of an explanation of the vision of chapter 8. It is difficult to relate to what was explained in that passage without referring back to the vision that prompted that explanation. This particular vision is about the ram, the he goat, and the little horn. It is almost laughable to see the futile attempts by some prophecy students to disassociate chapter 8 from 9 and expect the latter to make sense.
That there is an inseparable connection between the vision of chapter 8 and the explanation in chapter 9 is clearly evident in the following verse:
"At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision." Dan. 9:23 (KJV)
What vision was Daniel asked to consider? The fact that the vision of chapter 8 is the one that immediately precedes this occasion is enough evidence that this verse is speaking the vision of the ram, the he goat, and the little horn. Therefore, we will do a summary exploration of chapter 8 as a first step in our attempt to find out what the explanation in chapter 9 is trying to convey.
First, Daniel saw a two-horned ram conquering and doing according to his will, after which a he goat with a great horn between his eyes was seen flying from the western end. According to the vision, the he goat, with great violence, ran into the ram with his notable horn and none could deliver the ram out of his hand. After this the prophet saw that when the great horn was at the peak of its strength, it was broken and in its place four horns came up.
Then as the scene unfolds, the prophet saw the emergence of a little horn out of one of the four horns. Based on the description given, this was an all conquering power, whose intent seems to go beyond that of his predecessors. His activities appear to be directed against the God of heaven, His temple, and His people. Here is the explanation of the vision that the angel gave to Daniel:
The two-horned ram are the kings of the Medes and Persians
The he goat with the notable horn is the king of Greece (the notable horn is the first king)
The four horns are four Grecian kings that shall reign in the great horn's stead
The little horn is the king of fierce countenance who will rise in the last days
From the account of the vision and its explanation, it appears that the focus of attention is on the little horn. It can hardly be denied that more details have been given about this little-horn king and his activities than what is said about the other kings.
After the prophet Daniel ended his account of the vision, he shifted attention to a question that was asked by one angel in a conversation with another saying, "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? Dan. 8:13 (last part).
The vision of the "transgression of desolation" is the same vision of the ram, he goat, and little horn. Thus, the question that is asked is seeking an answer as to the period of time that this vision is to encompass. Because the vision started out with the ram, we can be certain that the fulfillment of this prophecy will begin with the Medes and Persians. Here is the answerer from the angel to whom the question was directed:
"Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Dan. 8:14 (KJV)
Knowing what the vision entails and the many centuries that it spans, this 2300-day period could not be treated as a literal time span. Otherwise, you will be forced to conclude that the succession of kingdoms between the Medes and the Persians and the divided Grecian empire is a little more than six years! And we all know that that is obviously not correct. The actual length of the period of 2300 days will become clear when we get to the discussion of chapter 9.
From what is discussed so far we need to bear in mind that Daniel had already gotten an explanation of the vision as he saw it. Based on what is outlined above the prophet got the meaning of who the ram is, the meaning of the he goat, the four horns, and the little horn. However, Daniel seems to still have a problem understanding something about this vision. This was evident in the following verse:
"And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it." Dan. 8:27
What is it that Daniel still did not understand? What about the vision that caused him to be astonished? From what was said in the second verse of chapter 9 we can get an idea what was on the prophet's mind. Speaking of his efforts to get some answers concerning the prophecy, here is what he said:
"I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
It must have been about some time period that the prophet was puzzled about why he recalled the 70- year period of Jerusalem's desolation. Therefore, it must have been the 2300 days that Daniel was concerned about, which is why the 70-week explanation in the last four verses becomes necessary. Here is what it is about.
Verse 24 started out by saying, "seventy weeks are determined". This expression in the Hebrew means seventy weeks are 'cut off'. If this is so, then it must mean that it is being cut off from a longer period, and the only other period we can point to is the 2300 days. Since it is quite obvious, and even conventional with most theologians and prophecy students, that the 70 weeks are, in fact, seven years in each week, then the 2300 days are, in effect, 2300 years.
In order for us to arrive at the exact dates for each event to take place during the 70 weeks, it is necessary for us to find the starting point of this period. According to the scriptures, it started from "the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem". From the records of history, this command was given in the year 457BC by Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Using this date as a starting point, the following conclusions are deduced:
The rebuilding of Jerusalem was completed in seven weeks (49 years)- 408BC
The coming of the Messiah- Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit in 27AD, 62 weeks later (See Lk 4:17, 18)
The Messiah was cut off in the midst of the week (3 years later) and caused sacrifices to cease- After the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was rented in twain in 31AD (signifying an end to sacrifice- see Mark 15:38)
At the end of the next half of the week (3 years later), the Jews sealed their rejection of the Messiah by stoning Steven to death- As a result, they were rejected as a nation and the gospel went to the Gentiles in 34AD (Acts. 7:57-60; 18:6).
Thus the 70 weeks prophetic period began in 457BC and terminated in 34AD. A free book covering in detail the subject of the 70 weeks and the 2300 days can be downloaded at my website.
In our Bible study on Daniel, we can clearly see an undeniable correlation between chapters 8 and 9. This goes to show the importance of scripture comparison and that a failure to coordinate the parallel prophecies will only lead to unreasonable assumptions and speculations that only mystify rather than enlighten.