Daniel's 70 Weeks - Understanding Prophecy
The difficulty with understanding Daniel's 70 weeks is that it can be translated in two ways. Remember, Daniel's book is sealed until the time of the end. Now as we are approaching that time we will see this book opened. It is important to note that none of the wicked shall understand, so when these prophecies unfold there is likely to be great opposition.
And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."
There are a total of 70 weeks (1 week = 7 years) determined for the Jews before Christ's second coming to establish His kingdom. There is no confusion here.
“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
Here is the confusing part.
“Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
In the original text, there are no periods and no commas. Now read the ESV translation.
Dan 9:25-26 (ESV)
Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
Notice, there is a period after 7 weeks. This translation makes it easier to understand. There are clearly two time periods being spoken of here. One consisting of 7 weeks and the other consisting of 62 weeks. I need to give Isaac Newton credit for being one of the first people to understand the separation of these two events. Let's read Isaac Newton's translation.
"Know also and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to cause to return and to build Jerusalem, unto the Anointed the Prince, shall be seven weeks. Yet threescore and two weeks shall it return, and the street be built and the wall; but in troublesome times : and after the threescore and two weeks, the Anointed shall be cut off, and it shall not be his ; but the people of a Prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary : and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war, desolations are determined." (Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, Chapter X, Sir Isaac Newton, Published 1733)
Most current bible scholars simply add the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks and say it's 69 weeks until the Messiah's first coming. Isaac Newton explains why this is wrong.
He believed we should not "restrain it to his first coming only, as Interpreters usually do. We avoid also the doing violence to the language of Daniel, by taking the seven weeks and sixty two weeks for one number. Had that been Daniel's meaning, he would have said sixty and nine weeks, and not seven weeks and sixty two weeks, a way of numb[e]ring used by no nation." (Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, Chapter X, Sir Isaac Newton, Published 1733)
Isaac Newton believed the 7 weeks referred to the second coming of Christ. He believed the Jews would eventually return to Jerusalem to fulfill the counting of 7 weeks. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be able to live long enough to see their return in June of 1967.
Newton was wrong in attributing the 7 weeks to the second coming of Christ. There is another anointed leader of God who is coming after the 7 weeks. Jesus comes back to setup His kingdom at the end of the 70 weeks.
Messiah cut off at 62 weeks
Notice very carefully in verse 26 that God only counted 62 weeks until Messiah was cut off.
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself."
Bible teachers say just add the 7 weeks to the 62 weeks and make 69 weeks. I don't understand why anyone would want to change what is written in the scriptures, but that is the common interpretation. However, scripturally we can see that God only counted 62 weeks until Messiah was cut off.
So what are the 7 weeks of Daniel?
How do we understand the 62 weeks?
Dan 9:25-26 (ESV)
Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.
We can understand from the text that Jerusalem will be rebuilt for 62 weeks (434 years). Then after those 62 weeks are over an anointed one (Jesus) will be cut off. When the building of Jerusalem was completed the people were to count 62 weeks. The text does not say they shall be rebuilding Jerusalem for 62 weeks, nor does it tell us to start counting when the rebuilding starts. It simply states that Jerusalem shall be built again for 62 weeks. If the Israelites had started counting when the building process was completed then they would have arrived at the date Jesus was cut off.