The Backbone of Prophecy

Posted on September 25, 2017

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By David Ettinger

The Final Seven Years
hebrew-textThe Bible teaches that this era of human history is quickly heading toward a very specific and climactic seven-year period of time. This final seven years will include the rise of the Antichrist, the martyring of God’s people, the rapture of the Church, the return of Christ, and His wrath poured out on the world, and is mistakenly referred to as “the Tribulation period,” a term not found in the Bible. More accurately, this seven-year timeframe should be called “the Seventieth Week of the Book of Daniel.” This expression is derived from Daniel Chapter 9, verses 24-27, which is also known as “the backbone of prophecy.”

Let’s examine these amazing four verses. (Books have been written about this topic, but in this “drive-by” analysis, I will be brief, just touching the basics. Further study on your part is suggested.)

Verse 24
The speaker is the angel Gabriel, and he is delivering this message concerning Israel to the aged prophet Daniel.

“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 Place.”

The term “sevens” refers to weeks of years, therefore, one “seven” equals seven years. Seventy “sevens” equals 490 years, and this is the time frame we are looking at. Gabriel is telling Daniel that Israel has 490 years to, basically, “get its spiritual act together.” Each of the six directives to be accomplished during this time has its own particular meaning, and space prohibits me from explaining each one, though a good commentary will fill you in. The important thing to grasp here is the 70 “sevens,” or 490 years.

Verse 25

lucky number 7 seven represents good fortune

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out 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.”

This verse indicates the starting point of the 490 years: “… the time when the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem …” This commandment occurs in Nehemiah 2:5-8 on March 5, 444 B.C. From this point on, we see that the 490 “weeks” are divided into 7 weeks (49 years), and 62 weeks (434 years), which gives us 483 years. The final “week” (7 years) is left hanging for now, giving us 69 weeks. (We are still awaiting the 70th “seven”.)

The original language indicates that the term, “It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble” actually follows “seven ‘sevens’,” which is 49 years. So, doing the math (49 years after  the original decree in 444 B.C.), history shows us that in 396 B.C., the public square and public moats of Jerusalem were completed, hence the fulfillment of the “seven weeks.”

Now we have 62 weeks, which is 434 years. This takes us to April 6, A.D. 32. The calculations are extremely difficult here because we’re dealing with a lunar (360-day) calendar rather than our Gregorian (365-day) calendar, plus the transition from B.C. to A.D. Difficult stuff! In his book The Coming Prince, Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) calculates the 483 years to the day.

Verse 26
 “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”

heaven crossThe phrase “the Anointed One will be put to death” obviously refers to Jesus’ crucifixion on April 6, A.D. 32. The phrase “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” refers BOTH to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Roman General Titus in A.D. 70, and to a future ruler. The phrase “The end will come like a flood” refers to both the already-fulfilled event of A.D.70 and to the end-times.

The twofold nature of prophetic scripture – both “near” and “far” fulfillment – is common, therefore it is no surprise that a single portion of prophetic scripture can include multiple timeframes of fulfillment.

Verse 27
“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

blue eyeThe “He” referred to here goes back to verse 26, “the ruler who will come.” This ruler, who will come at the end of the age – the final “seven” (7 years) of the 70 “sevens” – will be the Antichrist. He will make a seven-year peace agreement with the nation of Israel. However, in the middle of the seven years, he will turn against Israel and persecute her (Daniel 11:36-45). This final 3½ years will be “the Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21), or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). This will be a time of wickedness and destruction unequaled in the annals of human history.

The Antichrist will mark his betrayal of Israel by setting up “an abomination” (possibly a statue of himself) in the temple Israel will build at the beginning of the seven-year period. However, the Antichrist will not have the final word. As noted by the words “until the end that is decreed is poured out on him,” Jesus will return and destroy him (see Revelation 20:7-10).

Whew!
I know there is a lot here, and my goal is to whet your whistle. Obviously, books have been written on this subject, but for now, though, I offer you the article “The Backbone of Prophecy” by Marv Rosenthal, renowned Bible teacher (and my boss here at Zion’s Hope), which he wrote in the May-June 2014 issue of our magazine Zion’s Fire. Here is the link.

May God bless you in your effort to sort out biblical prophecy, and, more importantly, that what you learn will draw you closer to our glorious Savior!

For related topics, read my blogs, “A Brief Look at the Day of the Lord,” “A Powerful Indicator that Christ’s Return is Near,” “The Year God’s End-Times Clock Began Ticking,” “Wrongly Interpreting ‘A Thief in the Night,” and “What You Need to Know About the Antichrist.”

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