Good News for Jews
The Prophecy of Daniel 9
Good News for the Jewish People
Thousands of years ago, an angel gave the prophet Daniel a vision. The vision was so surprising it made Daniel sick—until the angel came again to explain it! The angel’s good news revealed God’s love and care for the Jewish people.
A Prophecy Postponed
Daniel was a young Jewish man in Judea when Nebuchadnezzar’s army took him captive, and he remained faithful to God in Babylon. Even when Jerusalem was destroyed, Daniel remained hopeful. He knew Jeremiah had prophesied that the exile would end in 70 years. But then Daniel received a vision that didn’t make sense. In it, an angel said that the sanctuary would be reconsecrated after 2300 days (Daniel 8:14). In Daniel’s mind, that meant rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Daniel knew that in prophetic time, one day equals a year (Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6). The angel confirmed that principle, saying the vision was for the distant future (Daniel 8:26). Something seemed dreadfully wrong. How did 70 years stretch to 2300 years?
As Daniel 8 ends, Daniel is sick for many days. He can’t understand this apparent contradiction in the prophecies. Why was the new prophetic timing so long? Daniel 8:27 says “I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.”
The Good News of the Prophecy
As Daniel 9 begins, Daniel earnestly searches the prophecies for answers. Jeremiah’s prophecies were clear. The Jewish people would return to their land after 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10).
As he thought about it, Daniel concluded that Israel’s sins must be so great that God had postponed their return. So he confessed his people’s sins in a passionate prayer for the people of Israel and for Jerusalem (Daniel 9:4-19).
Suddenly, in the middle of that prayer, an angel came to answer his petitions. Not only did the angel comfort him about Jerusalem, but he also gave Daniel good news for his people. Daniel had prayed for the forgiveness of Israel, and the angel told him how Israel would receive forgiveness through the coming of the Messiah.
Daniel 9 is good news because it declares the coming of the Messiah. It even gives the exact date of his coming!
In 70 weeks, the Almighty would:
- finish transgression
- put an end to sin
- atone for wickedness
- bring everlasting righteousness
- seal up the vision and prophecy
- and anoint the Holy of Holies (Daniel 9:24).
After 70 weeks or 490 years, God would send the "Mashiach-Nagid" (Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:25). All the generations since Adam and Eve had longed for the Messiah. What wonderful news for Israel!
Messiah Will Be Cut Off
This prophecy is not about what Israel has to do, but what the Messiah will do. It’s about what he will do through his ministry when the Light of God begins to reach the nations.
How would the Messiah accomplish all this? The Almighty wanted to teach Israel that forgiveness could be obtained only by death—the death of the sinner or of a substitute. The biblical story of the Akedah illustrates this lesson. Isaac, the son of Abraham, had to die, but at the last moment, God substituted a ram that died instead of him.
In the same way, Israel received forgiveness through the sacrifices in the temple. The animals took the place of the sinners. Those sacrifices were symbolic of the death of the Messiah for the sins of Israel (compare Isaiah 53).
Daniel 9:26-27 says that “the Anointed One [the Messiah-Nagid] will be put to death and will have nothing,” and that he “will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” By his death, the Messiah would take the place of the sinner, put an end to sin, bring in everlasting righteousness, and seal up the vision and the prophecy.
The End of the Prophecy
(For a visual representation of these next paragraphs, please see the chart on the final page.)
In prophetic time, the number of days means the number of years. When the angel said “seventy sevens” (Daniel 9:24), he meant 70 weeks. 70 prophetic weeks is 490 prophetic days, which equals 490 literal years. This 490-year period is then divided into three parts: 1) seven weeks or 49 years, 2) sixty-two weeks or 434 years, and 3) one week or seven years.
The Tanach records the decree by King Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 7) in 457 BCE. This date is the starting point for the 490-year journey to the Messiah’s baptism.
The first period of 49 years (seven weeks) was the direct answer to the prayer of Daniel. It announced the restoration of Jerusalem. “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25) until the restoration would be 49 years (457 BCE-408 BCE, see Ezra 7). And history records that it happened—just as prophesied.
The second period of 434 years (62 weeks) pointed to the anointing of the Messiah. “From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’” (408 BCE-27 CE; Daniel 9:25). Exactly on time, Yeshua was immersed in the mikveh of the Jordan River in 27 CE.
The last period of seven years (one week) closes the 490 years of the prophecy. It was a time of sealing a covenant (Daniel 9:27). In the middle of that seven years the Mashiach-Nagid would be cut off. Exactly as prophesied, Yeshua died at the hands of the Roman soldiers on Pesach 31 CE.
However, Yeshua did not remain dead. He was resurrected according to the prophecy (Isaiah 53:10). During the last half of the prophetic week (31 to 34 CE), he established a covenant with his disciples. This finished the 490 years.
In the year 34 CE the Jewish Pharisee Rabbi Shaul did Teshuva (repentance) and became a Shaliach (an apostle). He was sent to give the Light of God to the Gentiles, to fulfill the mission of Israel to be Or LaGoyim, a “light to the nations.”
What first seemed like terrible news to Daniel—so bad it made him sick for days—was now wonderful news for Israel.
Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.