Daniel's 70 Weeks: Part 2
Aug 11, 2006
In Part One I wrote that Daniel's 70 weeks had two starting points: 458 and 445 B.C. To identify these dates correctly is critically important in order to know the end points properly.
These dates are the 7th and the 20th years of Artaxerxes. See Ezra 7:8 and Neh. 2:1. In order to understand the fulfillment of Scripture, we have no choice but to look at historical records outside the Bible. When we do, we find that these important dates are established by lunar eclipses in the reign of Darius the Persian, who reigned 36 years from 521-486 B.C.
Ptolemy, an Egyptian astronomer recorded many years ago that there was a lunar eclipse in the 20th year of Darius and another in his 31st year. Well, modern astronomers can pinpoint those eclipses easily. They occurred on Nov. 19, 502 B.C. and April 25, 491 B.C. This establishes by a double witness the years of the reign of Darius the Persian.
Once we know this, history shows that his successor, Xerxes, reigned 21 years from 485 to 465 B.C.
Artaxerxes then took the throne, and his first year was reckoned by the Persians as 464 B.C. Thus, his 7th year was 458 B.C., and his 20th year was 445 B.C. The vast majority of historians are in agreement with this. Thus, the 70th week of Daniel fell from 26-33 A.D. when Jesus ministered and was finally crucified.
It is my contention that Jesus was crucified in 33 A.D. Again, this has been the date that most historians have agreed when He was crucified. Many in the past century, however, have argued against this, because they have some doctrinal position to maintain. But if we look purely at the history and find out what happened, and then if we interpret Scripture accordingly with no biblical position to maintain at all costs, this is the simple truth--Jesus was crucified at the END of Daniel's 70 weeks.
The greatest objection to this comes from those who believe that Jesus had to be crucified in the MIDDLE of Daniel's 70th week--that is, in the year 29 or 30 A.D. This view is based upon Dan. 9:26 and 27, where we are told that "after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off." By this statement, if taken literally, He would have to have been crucified in 26 A.D., but this is much too early according to New Testament chronology, which I will discuss later.
Dan. 9:27 also says "And He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering."
Here again, modern Bible teachers confuse people by telling us that "he" refers not to Christ to but to an Antichrist that will arise at the end of the age. But there is no historical, grammatical, or even biblical reason to make this the Antichrist. The fact is, Jesus was the Sacrifice, and, when presented, He put an end to the need for all other sacrifice.
He presented Himself to John for baptism precisely in the midst of the 70th week of Daniel. John identified Him as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). As New Testament chronology shows, Jesus was baptized shortly after His 30th birthday in September of 29 A.D. This was precisely the middle of Daniel's 70th week.
There are two events that were supremely important. First, Jesus' baptism in the middle of the week; and secondly, Jesus' crucifixion at the end of the week.
I once assumed that Jesus had to be crucified in the middle of the 70th week. But when I studied the actual history, I found that this was not so. At the same time, I discovered that He could NOT have been crucified before the completion of the 490 years in 33 A.D., because that would have violatled the purpose of a 490-year period.
In Matt. 18:21 Peter asked Jesus, ". . . How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
Jesus responded with, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." That is, 490 times.
In my early years, this only had a superficial meaning to me. But when I began to study the Jubilees and cycles of time, I found that Jesus was giving us the underlying purpose of Daniel's 70 weeks. It was a forgiveness (grace) cycle. The nation was forgiven once a year on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest killed a goat and brought its blood into the Most Holy Place to atone for the sins that had accumulated under the altar during the previous year.
God forgave the nation once a year. So how long would it take before God's obligation to forgive ended? Well, 490 years, of course. Hence, Jesus immediately told Peter a parable explaining this principle in Matt. 18:23-35. It begins,
"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents."
In other words, this illustrates the principle of forgiving 490 times, and then bringing the slaves, or servants, into accountability to settle the debts. All sin is reckoned as a debt in Scripture, and so a number of Jesus' parables reflect this.
In the case of the crucifixion, it occurred after the nation had been forgiven 490 times (years). Only then did the King settle the debt of the whole world at the cross. This is the purpose of Daniel's 70 weeks. This principle would have been violated, if Jesus had been crucified early, say, after 486 or 487 years (the middle of the week).
This is why the crucifixion happened in 33 A.D., not in 30 A.D. Jesus presented Himself to John for baptism in September of 29 on the Day of Atonement, which was ten days after His 30th birthday (Feast of Trumpets). In doing so, He was making the statement: I am the true Goat that covers the sin of the nation on this day. I am the fulfillment of this Sacrifice and all others as well.
If you read the account of His baptism in Matthew 3 and Luke 3, what did Jesus do immediately AFTER His baptism? Matt. 4:1 says,
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."
He did this in order to fulfill the other half of the prophecy of the Day of Atonement. The instructions for this day are given in Leviticus 16.
" (7) And he [the high priest] shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. (8) And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat [lit. for Azazel, 'the satyr, or the devil']."
Jesus fulfilled both goats. The first was to be killed to atone for the sins of the people. Jesus presented Himself as that Goat to John, the priest, and then He was led into the wilderness to be tried by the devil, even as the second goat was led into the wilderness "for Azazel."
The actual historical events tells us how to interpret the type and shadow of the Old Testament in regard to these goats. His baptism was His LEGAL death, followed later by His ACTUAL death on the cross. But as the second goat, Jesus had to be led into the wilderness, as we read in Lev. 16:21,
"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel . . . and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness."
Who was this "man" who led Jesus into the wilderness? It was ultimately fulfilled by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 4:1), who released Him in the wilderness.
This tells us that Jesus fulfilled the Day of Atonement at His baptism in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel.
This is the second part of a series titled "Daniel's 70 Weeks." To view all parts, click the link below.