Essentially, God has decreed 70 weeks of years, meaning 490 years (70 times 7) for Israel and the city of Jerusalem before the end will come. Bear in mind that these are lunar years (360 days a year) and not solar years (365.25 days a year), which we are more accustomed to. During these 70 weeks of years, God will deal with Israel’s sin and rebellion against His covenant, and He will turn the nation back to Him. At the same time, all the prophecies pertaining to Israel and the present world will be completely fulfilled.
At the Beginning & End of the First 69 Weeks
Daniel 9:25-26 (NASB) - "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
The countdown would begin on the day when the decree to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem was issued. This event happened 93 years later after Daniel was given the vision. A Persian king, Artaxerxes Longimanus, issued the decree for the Jews to rebuild the broken walls and their beloved city. Based on the date given in Nehemiah 2:1 (the month of Nisan on the twentieth year of Artaxerxes’ reign and assuming it falls on the first day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar),the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, United Kingdom, computed the date to be 14 March 445 B.C.
According to the prophecy, the 70 weeks of years are divided into 3 periods of 7 weeks, 62 weeks and the final 1 week.
At the end of 7 and 62 weeks, which is essentially 69 weeks, “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.” 69 weeks of years equal to 483 years(69 x 7) or 173,880 days (69 x 7 x 360). Using 14 March 445 B.C. as the start date, the date for the end of the 69 weeks of years works out to be 6 April A.D. 32.
Fascinatingly, this was the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and presented Himself to the Jews as their Messiah. However, the political and religious Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as the prophecy has indicated -- “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.” They executed Him on a cross. They cut Him down and cut Him off.
Barely 40 years later, “the people of the prince who is to come,” that is, the Roman armies under the command of Titus Vespasianus destroyed the temple and Jerusalem. The formidable Roman military force literally came in like a flood. As Jesus had also prophesied, “not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down” (Matthew 24:2). During the next few decades, the Romans continued to put down guerrilla attempts by small Jewish rebel groups until they banished all the Jews from the land.
The Church Age
After 69 weeks of years, the prophetic clock for Israel stopped ticking. The final one week of Daniel’s 70 weeks was suspended indefinitely. In a sense and prophetically speaking, Israel disappeared from the scene and the church emerged and took centre-stage since then until today. This period is known as the church age. It is also known as the time of the Gentiles. We are living in the church age.
The church is a mystery (Ephesians 5:32). The entity of the church was unknown to the Old Testament saints. No rabbis or scholars anticipated the emergence of the church.
The Final One Week
Daniel 9:27 (NASB) - "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
The church age straddles between verse 26 and verse 27. It will come to an end when God decides to rapture the church. On that day, our Lord Jesus will appear in the sky. There will be an element of surprise to it. it will be sudden and unexpected. Suddenly all the faithful Christians will be snatched up by Jesus and caught up to be with Him, and then brought to heaven (I Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4;15-17).
When this happens, the last one week (7 years) of Daniel’s 70 weeks of years will kick in. The prophetic clock for Israel, which has stopped for more than 2,000 years, will start ticking again. This is the 7-year tribulation period, which we read in the book of Revelation when God unleashes His wrath and judgement on the inhabitants of the earth.
God will finish His dealing with Israel in this last 7 years and then the end will come. It will be a terrible time of severe judgement for Israel. There will be wars and catastrophic disasters in Israel. This is the consequence of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah some 2,000 years ago.
Besides the rapture, another political event will also mark the beginning of the final one week of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy. The Anti-Christ will make a covenant with Israel and her enemies guaranteeing her peace and security. However, he will break the covenant and turn against Israel at the 3.5-year mark (“in the middle of the weeks”). He will also set up something sacrilegious, described as “the abomination of desolation” by Jesus (Matthew 24:15)in the rebuilt Jewish temple.
The good news is that finally all the remnants of Israel will be saved (Zechariah 12;10, 13:8-9; Romans 11:26).
At the end of 7 years of Tribulation, Christ Jesus will return to the earth with the armies of heaven, which includes the church (Revelation 19:7-8, 14). He will fight and utterly defeat the Anti-Christ (the beast) and the kings of the earth and all their armies that are gathered to fight Him and Israel (Revelation 19:19-21).
Notice that the church is not present during the 7-year Tribulation period. It is God’s appointed time to deal with Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the church, which has been raptured 7 years earlier, will return to the earth with Christ Jesus. The church will return as the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-8, 14, 17-18).
This amazing prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks points to the existence as well as the sovereignty of God over human affairs. God is in absolute control over the world and everything that is happening. He has sovereignly decreed the times for both Israel and the church, and the Jews and the Gentiles. He alone determines how this present age will end. Jesus is the Lord of history and the future.
Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua