Monday, December 14, 2020

December 14 Daniel's Astonishing Prophecy About the Timing of Messiah's Arrival

Reason #14 The Prophecy About Messiah in Daniel 9

Daniel’s prophecy about the time of Jesus’ death is a stunning example of supernatural predictive prophecy.

The seven-year-block-of-time is one of the unique institutions of ancient Jewish culture, and it serves as the backbone of Daniel’s miraculous dating of the crucifixion of Jesus, long before it occurred.  In place of our modern practice of crop rotation to prevent the depletion of nutrients in agricultural soil, the Jewish law stipulated a “sabbath year of rest to the land” after every six years of planting and harvesting (Leviticus 25:2-5). Rabbis took the persistent violation of this agricultural “week” to be the reason behind the 70-year-long judgment of the Babylonian captivity “until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths” (2 Chronicles 36:16-21). This, of course, has special significance for Daniel’s prophecy since it was presented in the setting of Babylonian captivity.

It was also the ancient tradition of Jewish law to release all debt-servants in the seventh year of their bondage after completing six years of servitude (Deuteronomy 15:12). Even more importantly, the ancient Jewish tradition of Jubilee required an entire year of celebration after the completion of every 49 ordinary years—after every seven “sabbaths of years, seven times seven years” (Leviticus 25:8-11).

This seven-year unit of time in ancient Judaism is embedded in the remarkable prophecy of “weeks” in Daniel 9:24-27. Daniel promised that “Messiah” would be “cut off” (the biblical terminology for both shunning and execution) after 69 of these seven-year blocks of time, that is, after 483 years. The time, Daniel says, “unto Messiah the prince shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…and after the sixty-two weeks [69 altogether] shall Messiah be cut off.”

Daniel instructed his followers to begin counting the 483 years leading up to Messiah’s rejection as soon as they saw the issuing of “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (v.25). As articles in any standard encyclopedia will confirm, this would have happened in either 444 or 445 B.C.*, the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes I, when Nehemiah was commissioned to return to Jerusalem to rebuild “the city of my fathers” (Nehemiah 2:1, 5, 8).

We may also take for granted that Daniel followed the normal Jewish and Babylonian calendars for years containing only 360 days, rather than 365 days, as was the custom in both ancient Israel and Babylon (cf. Genesis 7:11 and 8:3-4).

By beginning with Nehemiah’s decree in 444 or 445 B.C., and counting 483 years, each year containing 360 days, we arrive at 31 or 32 A.D. as the date for when Messiah should be “cut off.” Interestingly, as Nehemiah’s decree occurred in the month of Nisan, the Passover month, our arithmetic also happens to point us to Messiah’s execution in the Passover season of that year.

So there we have it. According to Daniel’s prophecy, we should be able to locate in history a Jewish man, with messianic associations, who was publically executed in Jerusalem, around 31 or 32 A.D., during the Passover season. This person, says Daniel, would be the true messiah.

Daniel’s prophecy about the time of Jesus’ death is a stunning example of supernatural predictive prophecy.

*Note: There is agreement that Artaxerxes I began his reign in 465 B.C., but we don’t know if “the twentieth year” of his reign should include the partial first year of his reign (making the twentieth year in 445 B.C.), or whether the calculation should begin with his first full year of reign (making the twentieth year in 444 B.C.).


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