The Vision Of The Prophet Daniel - The Messianic Timetable


by Joseph Hunting

The revelation given to Daniel in the ninth chapter towers like Mt. Everest among the peaks of prophecy in all Scripture. Even though Daniel bore the heavy responsibilities of administering the affairs of state of the greatest kingdom on earth at that time, he found time to study the prophecies made by Jeremiah regarding the seventy-year captivity of his people.

Realizing that the seventy years were drawing to a close Daniel set his "face towards the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes." Like Moses and Samuel before him Daniel sought Divine forgiveness for the sins of Israel that had brought about the captivity. His prayer (9:4-19) is one of the greatest intercessory prayers in the Bible.

The Angel Gabriel's Blueprint

It was while Daniel was in prayer that the angel Gabriel gave him the blueprint for the course of history, which included the time element for the establishment of the Messianic era, the time of the Messiah's coming, and His death, together with the events that would terminate this age.

Firstly Gabriel outlined a period of seventy sevens (not weeks as in some translations): "Seventy sevens are determined for your people (Israel) and for your holy city, (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up visions and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy (place) " (9:24).

Thus, within the specified time-slot of 490 years (seventy sevens) Israel and Jerusalem would undergo the spiritual transformation prophesied by Gabriel. We may well ask, "During which 490 years of Israel's history did all seven parts of the prophecy come to pass?"

But Gabriel had more to explain to Daniel: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times."

There are two time periods that occur UNTO the Messiah the Prince. The first is seven sevens, during which period Jerusalem would be rebuilt "in troublesome times" as Ezra and Nehemiah record, and sixty-two sevens: 49 plus 434 adds up to 483 years.

The crucial point of this prophecy is to discover the date when a specific commandment was given "to restore and build Jerusalem." In the year 536 Cyrus gave the commandment "to build him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah" because "the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing" (Ezra 1:2,1).

Cyrus ordered the rebuilding of the Temple, whereas the decree referred to by Gabriel was for the rebuilding of the city, and it was made by Artaxerxes in the twentieth year of his reign when he acceded to Nehemiah's plea to go "to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it" (Nehemiah 2:5), about 444 B.C.

Thus the Messiah was scheduled to make His appearance within the period from the giving of Artaxerxes' decree to the 483 year time limit given by Gabriel. And there is only one person who fulfilled all that Moses and the prophets had written of Him during that specific period of time.

Gabriel went on to inform Daniel that "after the sixty-two sevens the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself." We note that there is no date given for His death. It was "after" His scheduled first coming.

Also within the scope of the 490 years Gabriel announced that there would arise a "prince" from the people who would "destroy the city and the sanctuary", the people being the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple some 500 odd years later. This infamous "prince" then confirms a covenant with Israel for one seven (seven years), "but in the middle of the seven he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering."

It is fascinating to realize that this last seven years concluded the total of 490 years that Gabriel announced at the beginning of his message to Daniel. We might be excused for asking "But what of the fulfilment of the seven point program mentioned earlier: "to finish transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, to anoint the Most Holy", as some 2500 years have run their course in the meantime?

As there is no apparent gap between the 483 years and the 490 years, and as nearly 2000 years have elapsed since the Messiah's first advent, the following gives an account of missing prophetic years when Israel has been out of fellowship with God because of their sin and disobedience.

Missing Prophetic Years

In the Scriptures we have an example of missing prophetic years in 1 Kings 6:1 where it is stated that 480 years elapsed from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon's reign. In actual fact the total number of years during this period amounted to 573 years, detailed as follows:-

40 wilderness years Acts 13:18

450 years under judges Acts 13:20

40 years under Saul Acts 13:21

40 years under David 1 Kings 2:11

3 years under Solomon 1 Kings 6:1

This totals 573 years which is 93 years more than the period stated in 1 Kings 6:1.

However, Israel was punished five times for sin between the Exodus and Solomon's reign:-

8 years under the king of Mesopotamia Judges 3:8

18 years under the king of Moab Judges 3:14

20 years under the king of Canaan Judges 4:2,3

7 years under the Midianites Judges 6:1

40 years under the Philistines Judges 13:1

This totals 93 years which are apparently not reckoned in the period stated in 1 Kings 6:1.

The missing 93 years listed in the references from the book of Judges are the precise number of years to make up the seeming discrepancy regarding the 480 years stated in 1 Kings 6:1. It is clear that the prophetic clock stopped each time Israel was out of fellowship with God.

Can it be that even although "the common people heard him gladly" and "they came to him from every quarter", the rulers' rejection of Yeshua as the Messiah before Pilate and His subsequent death stopped the prophetic clock at the precise termination of the 483 years after the commandment was given "to restore and build Jerusalem"?

And does the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple followed by nineteen centuries of homelessness and wandering, persecution and hatred add weight to the explanation of the missing years? There can be no other valid reason.

What of the "prince" who "shall confirm a covenant with many for one seven"? Bible scholars identify this "prince" as the Beast or Antichrist who is mentioned in the book of Revelation as an arch-deceiver.

We could speculate about the covenant he will make with the people of Israel, and probably the rebuilding of the Temple could be an ingredient in this covenant, as it is prophesied: "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . . then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:15,21), but only time will reveal all.

As this has not yet happened it is evident that the last seven years of Gabriel's prophecy are still future. When those years run their course Gabriel's prophecy will have come to pass and Israel will lead the world into the first millennium of the period of "everlasting righteousness."