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70 Weeks Prophecy (Part 6) - Dan 9:25 (Part A)

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2. Dan 9:25 - "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."

A. The 70 weeks are broken down into seven weeks and 62 weeks with one week remaining.
i. The first seven weeks cover the time when the city was rebuilt.
ii. The middle 62 week cover the time from the completion of city and temple until the coming of Christ.
iii. The last week covers the time of the ministry of Christ and the destruction of the city and temple.
iv. This vision presents the future history of Jerusalem from its restoration to its destruction.

B. These seventy weeks are to be counted sequentially, one week following immediately upon the one that preceded it.
i. 70 weeks means exactly what it says: 70 weeks.

ii. This stands in glaring contrast to the interpretation placed upon the 70 weeks by Premillennial Dispensationalists who maintain that the 70th week has not yet begun.
a. They maintain that between the 69th and 70th week is the present “church-age.”
b. They assert that the 70th week will begin when the “church-age” ends at the rapture of the church.
c. During the 70th week they maintain the following events will occur:
(i) The antichrist will arise.
(ii) Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel for 7 years allowing them to restore the animal sacrifices in the temple.
(iii) After 3½ years antichrist will break this covenant with Israel.
(iv) During the remaining 3½ years of the 70th week the antichrist will sit in the temple showing himself to be God.
(v) Israel will go through the great tribulation during the last 3½ years of the 70th week.
(vi) The 70th week will end with the return of Christ in glory to set up a kingdom where He will reign on a throne in Jerusalem over the earth for a 1000 years. It will be a time characterized by peace and prosperity on earth.

d. This system of interpretation overlooks the fact that every detail of this vision was clearly fulfilled by 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed.
e. This system also sidesteps the centrality of the first coming of Christ in fulfillment of this vision.

f. The fallacy of this gap theory can be exposed by comparing the 70 weeks to the 70 years mentioned in the beginning of chapter 9.
(i) The chapter begins with Daniel understanding that "he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem" (Dan 9:2).
(ii) Had there been an undetermined gap of years between the 69th and 70th year of Israel’s captivity, Daniel would have had no foundation upon which to base his prayer and expectation.
(iii) “We have no other way of describing and limiting a period of time than by stating the number of time-units (hours, days, months, or years) contained therein. It is therefore a necessary law of language that the time-units be understood as being connected together without a break.” (Philip Mauro, Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, p. 94)
g. These 70 weeks were determined upon Daniel’s people and city. If there is an indeterminate length of time between the 69th and 70th week, then the time is not determined!

C. 69 weeks (7 + 62) or 483 years (69 x 7) would reach from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince.
i. Jesus officially became Messiah or Christ at His baptism since that is when He was anointed (see Section III, 1, J, ii).
ii. He is called the Prince because Messiah is the seed of David (Mat 22:42) and thus the heir to the throne of David (2Sa 7:12-13; Luk 1:31-33).
a. Prince - A sovereign ruler; a monarch, a king.
b. This promised seed of David that would be king is the Lord’s anointed and thus the Lord’s Messiah or Christ (Psa 89:3-4, 19-29).

D. The beginning point of the 70 weeks is given in Dan 9:25.

E. The going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem began the timeline of the 70 weeks.
i. There is much debate over which decree to build Jerusalem is referred to in Dan 9:25.
a. Some think it refers to the decree in the first year of Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Ezr 1:1-3).
b. Others think it is the decree in the second year of Darius granting full license to the Jews to continue building the temple after the work had been suspended because of their enemies (Ezr 6:6-12).
c. Others think it is the decree in the seventh year of Artaxerxes to beautify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (Ezr 7:11-27).
d. Others think it is the decree in the twentieth year of Artaxerses Longanimus authorizing Nehemiah to rebuild the city and the wall of Jersualem (Neh 2:1-8).
ii. The decrees of Cyrus and Artaxerses Longanimus are the two which are most commonly held to be the beginning of the 70 weeks and therefore will be the ones that I focus on in this study.

F. The decree of Artaxerses Longanimus in Neh 2.

i. I do not believe that the decree referenced in Dan 9:25 is the decree of Artaxerses Longanimus in Neh 2.
a. The main reason people hold to this position is because they follow the chronology of Ptolemy who was an Egyptian chronologer and historian who lived in the 2nd century AD.
b. Using the chronology of Ptolemy makes the era of the Persian Empire about 80 years too long and makes it impossible for the decree of Cyrus to be the decree referenced in Dan 9:25 because the 483 years would run out long before any point in the life of Christ.
c. Those that base their chronology on Ptolemy's work therefore have to go looking for another decree by another king many years later to make it fit which is why they end up using the decree of Artaxerses Longanimus in Neh 2.
d. I do not believe that the chronology of Ptolemy should be used.
e. Here is a lengthy quote by Philip Mauro from his book The Wonders of Bible Chronology which gives reasons for rejecting Ptolemy's chronology.
(i) "Furthermore, it has become quite clear to us that the differences of opinion, to which we have referred, have arisen altogether from the fact that some of our able and painstaking chronologers and expositors have adopted the mistaken estimates of Ptolemy as the foundation of their systems of dates, instead of grounding themselves upon the chronology of the Bible itself. Having committed themselves to a chronological scheme which makes the era of the Persian Empire about 80 years too long, they have been compelled to construe the statements of Scripture in such wise as to force them into agreement with that scheme; and inasmuch as the measure of 483 years from the first year of Cyrus would, if Ptolemy's table be accepted, come short, by many years, of any event in the lifetime of Christ, one must either abandon that table, or else must search for a decree of a Persian king, many years nearer to Christ, to serve as the starting point of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel. The trouble, therefore, is not that there is any uncertainty in the Scriptures, but that expositors have turned aside from the Scriptures, and have accepted for the 500 years immediately preceding the coming of Christ, a defective chronology based upon heathen traditions.

"In another place we have discussed at considerable length the many interesting questions that have arisen concerning the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, so we shall not go extensively into that subject here. It is appropriate, however, that the main reasons for the conclusions we have reached should be set forth with sufficient fullness to enable the readers of this book to examine them in the light of Scripture.

"Our main conclusions are:

"First, that the canon of Ptolemy is untrustworthy as a basis for a system of chronology, its statements being not authenticated in any way; and that, therefore, it should be rejected as unworthy of our confidence, even if it did not come into conflict with the statements of Scripture;

"Second, that "the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem," from which the prophetic period of Seventy Weeks began to run (Daniel 9:25), was the decree of Cyrus the Great, referred to in Ezra 1:1-4;

"Third, that the 483-year period of Daniel 9:25, reaching "unto the Messiah, the Prince," ended at the baptism of our Lord, in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, when He was thirty years of age.

"In chapter two of this book we have pointed out that Ptolemy was not a contemporary historian of the events of the Persian Empire, whose chronology he attempts to set forth, but flourished more than six centuries after that Empire began. Therefore he cannot be accepted as an authority for the events of that period. Nor does he claim that he had access to any records contemporary with those events. We have also pointed out that, not only are the chronological statements of Ptolemy entirely uncorroborated, but they are contradicted by authorities which are more entitled to confidence than he. Thus, whereas Ptolemy estimates that there were ten Persian kings in all, Josephus, an earlier writer and one who has a stronger claim upon our confidence, gives only six. Moreover, this agrees much better with the statement of the angel to Daniel, in the 3rd year of Cyrus, that there were yet four kings of Persia to stand up, the fourth being plainly identified as the great and wealthy Xerxes, whose expedition against "the realm of Grecia" ended, as is known from secular history, so disastrously. Those who accept the canon of Ptolemy must believe there were eight kings between Cyrus and Xerxes, the last of the Persian kings, and must accept the length of years which Ptolemy assigns to their respective reigns, and which he figures out to be a total of 205 years. In contrast with Ptolemy's estimates, the Jewish and Persian traditions make the period of the Persian Empire a period of 52 years (Anstey p. 232). We do not accept the estimates of Josephus any more than those of Ptolemy, and have no need of either; but the statements of the former do serve to show that those of the latter are not to be relied upon.

"Further Anstey says:

"There are no contemporary chronological records whatever to fix the dates of any of the Persian monarchs after Darius Hystaspes. The clay tablets of Babylon fix the chronology, for the reigns of Cyrus, Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes; but they do not determine the date of any subsequent Persian king. The dates which have reached us, and which are now generally received as historical, are a late compilation made in the 2nd century A. D. and found in Ptolemy's canon. They rest upon the calculations or guesses made by Eratosthenes, and certain vague, floating traditions, in accordance with which the period of the Persian empire was mapped out as a period of 205 years."" (Philip Mauro, The Wonders of Bible Chronology, p. 105-107)

f. For the reasons just given I reject the chronology of Ptolemy which is the basis of the belief that the decree in Neh 2 began the 70 weeks.

g. The following are Biblical reasons why I reject the Artaxerses Longanimus decree theory.

h. Nehemiah oversaw the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and its wall after it had been built in the days of Ezra many years earlier (Ezr 4:12; Ezr 9:9) and was then apparently subsequently damaged afterward. He did not oversee the original rebuilding of the city that was done in the days of Ezra.
(i) When Nehemiah inquired about the Jews who had left Babylon over 30 years earlier to return to Jerusalem he was told that they were in great affliction and that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and the gates were burned with fire (Neh 1:1-3).
(ii) When Nehemiah heard these things he wept, mourned for days, fasted, and prayed (Neh 1:4).
(iii) If this description of the broken down and burned wall of Jerusalem was referring to the destruction of the wall by the Babylonians more than 100 years earlier, Nehemiah's reaction would not make sense.
1. Nehemiah would have known about the Babylonian destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its wall for his entire life (2Ch 36:19).
2. Nehemiah had not been sad in the presence of the king prior to hearing the news (Neh 2:1).
3. Therefore, the breaking down of the wall and the burning of the gates which was reported to him must have happened to the rebuilt wall after it was built in the days of Ezra during the "troublous times" (Dan 9:25).
4. Finding out about this for the first time would have been good reason for the intense sorrow that Nehemiah felt when it was reported to him.

(iv) Furthermore, most of the work done on the wall by Nehemiah was repair work (Neh 3:4-14, 16-32).
1. Repair v. - 1. trans. a. To adorn, ornament. (last usage in 1483) 2. To restore (a composite thing, structure, etc.) to good condition by renewal or replacement of decayed or damaged parts, or by refixing what has given way; to mend.
2. The wall of Jerusalem was completely leveled to the ground by the Babylonians (Psa 137:7).
a. Rase v. - 1. trans. To scratch or tear with something sharp; to cut, slit, or slash (esp. the skin or clothing). 5. To demolish, to level with the ground; to raze.
b. Therefore, there would have been no standing walls to repair after the Babylonian destruction.
3. The people in Ezra's day "set up the walls" of Jerusalem (Ezr 4:12), but were never said to repair them.
4. It is true that the temple was said to be "set up" and "repaired" by Ezra (Ezr 9:9), but that was not said of the wall.
5. Nehemiah was said to have "repaired" the gates and "set up" the doors thereof (Neh 3:6, 13-15).
6. It appears that Nehemiah repaired the breaches of the wall (Neh 4:7; Neh 6:1) and finished it after it was built by Ezra and afterwards was subsequently damaged by the enemies of the Jews who didn't want it built.

ii. It is for the reasons just given, and for ones that follow, that I do not believe that the decree of Artaxerses Longanimus was the decree that began the 70 weeks timeline.