Despite the best effort of critics to challenge the authorship and re-date the Old Testament book of Daniel to something written after the events that were prophesied in the book, the conclusion of one of the most careful and educated theologians I’ve ever known – Dr. Thomas Howe – says in his 700+ page commentary on Daniel: “There has not been an argument that has offered a reasonable alternative to the traditional view that Daniel, of the 6th century BC, is the author of this book.”
It’s no wonder that skeptics want to challenge the book of Daniel. Its astonishingly accurate prophesies about the rise of various empires and political leaders such as Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanes are enough to give a heart attack to anyone who attempts to rest comfortably in their anti-supernatural worldview. If there is a book in the Bible that more than stands up to the poorly thought out atheistic challenge of, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’, it’s Daniel.
In my opinion, the most noteworthy section of Daniel is a set of four verses in chapter nine. The prophecy Daniel received at that point summed up the most important headlining events for the world that were yet to come. At the time, the predictions were hundreds of years in the future.
Today, we can look back and see how the first three were precisely fulfilled down to the letter, which leads to the reasonable conclusion that the last verse will be as well. Let’s take a quick jet tour through these four verses that sum up the world’s future from God’s perspective.
The First Verse
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy” (Daniel 9:24).
The first verse lays out the general landscape of the prophecy and timetable. There are three things to notice in this verse.
First, the timetable is “Seventy sevens” or 490 years. While some translations use “weeks” as the word for “sevens”, the literal Hebrew word is ‘sevens’, and nearly all Biblical commentators – whether conservative or liberal – agree that 490 years is the amount of time being discussed.
Second, the prophecy specifically targets the Jewish people and their city, Jerusalem (“for your people and your holy city”). However, don’t misunderstand – these predictions also greatly impact the entire human race.
Third, there are six things that will be accomplished in this 490-year timeframe, three of which are bad in character and the other three good:
-to finish transgression
-to put an end to sin
-to atone for wickedness
-to bring in everlasting righteousness
-to seal up vision and prophecy
-anoint the most holy
The next three verses offer more detail about what is to come.
The Second Verse
“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble” (Daniel 9:25).
The second verse provides insight into what starts the 490-year clock ticking and breaks that same 490-year period up into distinct segments of time. The initiation of everything begins with “the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”.
While historians cite four decrees made by various rulers in reference to the Jews / Jerusalem, only one fits with the verse’s description to totally rebuild the city and its accompanying infrastructure – the one made by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 5, 444 BC, and described by Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1-8).
There are two divisions of timing referenced in the verse: seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’ that equate to 49 and 434 years, and total 483 years. The first 49 years may very well reference the total time to restore Jerusalem while the subsequent 434 years run up “until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes”.
Who is the “Anointed One”? In his commentary on Daniel, Dwight Pentecost does the math between the issuing of Artaxerxes’ decree and the ending of the total 483 years and convincingly shows that the end point is March AD 33.
Not coincidentally, at that time a Jewish carpenter named Jesus was entering Jerusalem on a donkey and allowing Himself to be publicly proclaimed for the first time as the Messiah (Zech. 9:9; Mark 11).
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Robin Schumacher