Truth, Understanding, Insight

Times Appointed Part 3

21st September 2023, hej


1) Daniel 9: Times to the first Coming of Messiah

To understand how times work we can look at Daniel's prophecy to the first coming of Messiah, which has been fulfilled.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to (1) restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: (2) the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off. (Daniel 9:24-26)

There are four time periods. One overall of 70 weeks, 2 dated from the going forth of the commandment and another of 62 weeks. In real time 70 weeks is a little over a year. Clearly this prophecy was for longer, therefore, a 'week' could mean a prophetic week. If this is the case, on a day for a year, a principle established in Ezekiel 4:6, 70 weeks is 490 years. There are two dates given to start the time periods, from Ezra's work in the 7th of Artaxerxes (approx 457BC) and Nehemiah's in the 20th of Artaxerxes (444BC). Adding 490 to these dates and allowing for the loss of 4 years at the change of the Common Era(CE), comes to either 29 or 42AD. The first is too early, actually pre-dating the crucifixion and the second is too late. The 7 +62 (69) week period ends in 22 or 35AD. Neither are precise, leading people to question the date of Artaxerxes. However, though dates before 1000 BC are uncertain, by the time of the Romans and Greeks there are cross checks, and dating is more reliable.

There is another solution which comes from understanding the origin of the 'day for a year' principle. Whereas the people were to keep the Sabbath every seventh day, the Land was to keep the Sabbath every seventh year, called shmita. There are two scales: the first is a 24 hour day (one revolution of the earth) for the people, the second is a year (one revolution around the sun) for the land.

Jewish days of the week are labelled one to seven, where 'Sabbath' means 7th day. The Jews also labelled their years from one to seven, with the 7th year called 'Shmita'.

To a Jew, the 70 weeks for the holy city or the land refers to 70 Shmita 'weeks'. Israel in modern times keeps the 7th year. The seventh year is a specific year. The last was in 2007/8. If this year is tracked back, allowing for the lost 4 years at C.E., there is only one Shmita 'week' of 7 years between the first decree of Artaxerxes with the 7th year finishing in the very year before the second decree in the 20th year of Artaxerxes.

The Shmita year cycle as calculated back to the time of Ezra

In Daniel's prophecy, there are 2 events: (1) restore and to build Jerusalem, (2) the street and the wall. The first decree of Artaxerxes given to Ezra in 457BC was to restore and build Jerusalem (1). Whereas Cyrus way back in 537BC gave a decree to build the temple, Artaxerxes in 457BC supports a return to establish Jerusalem as a Jewish city with priesthood and government. Ezra brings the key people and materials and they complete the temple and the services (Ezra 8). He begins reforms (Ezra 9-10). There is then a 7th year in 453/2BC. Now the temple is completed, what are they doing and what is their concern? From Ezra we learn they are building a wall,

yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. (Ezra 9:9)

An examination of Nehemiah shows that by the 20th of Artaxerxes they were attempting to build the walls but were in trouble. He was told,

The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.(Nehemiah 1:3)

Note the present tense and the fact that Nehemiah wept. Why would he weep if it was as it had always been? He would weep though, if they had attempted to build the wall and others were hindering it. When Nehemiah turns up they are already at work building and Nehemiah writes that he secretly inspects their very poor progress,

And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.(Nehemiah 2:16)

The reason for the poor progress in building the walls, was a well organised opposition, that may have actively knocked down the work,

Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall (Nehemiah 4:3)

They later “conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it” (Neh 4:8). As a result Nehemiah organises an armed watch over the work that prevents an attack.

The 2nd Decree from Artaxerxes is specifically, as the sequence in Daniel's prophecy requires, for the building of the walls and street gates {event (2) p27 above}. At this time there were “troublous times” which also is exactly as Daniel's prophecy requires.

The dating for the start of the prophecy of 70 weeks (and the 7 weeks) is the Shmita 'week' after the first decree, the 'week' of 453/2BC that ends in the “troublous times”. The end of the 70 weeks is then in 33/34AD and relates to the end of the Apostles work in Jerusalem, to Stephen's death, and the beginning of Paul's work. Daniel's prophecy states,

He (Messiah) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,(Daniel 9:27)

As 7+62 is 69, the 'one week' is clearly the 70th week. Taking the shmita weeks from the first after Ezra's Decree, the 69th ends and the 70th week begins in 26/27AD. If, as most agree Yeshua was born in 4BC, then his ministry, when he begins to be about 30 (Luke 3:23) begins in September/October 27AD at the end of a 7th year. This fits perfectly, as at the end of every 7th year the release of debtors is proclaimed (Deuteronomy 15:1-10) and also servants (Jeremiah 34:13-14) and Yeshua proclaims at the beginning of his ministry,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.(Luke 4:18-19)

They had made the Sabbath for both people and the land a ritual, and Yeshua had come to remind them of the 'acceptable' sacrifice (Isaiah 58:5, 61:2, Jeremiah 6:20). The use of the word 'year' fits with it being the end of a Sabbath, or 7th year. The ministry and parables are full of references to sowing and then harvest, which fits with the renewed sowing that comes after a 7th year. The midst of the 'one week' would then be 3.5 years later at Passover 31AD when with Yeshua's death and resurrection, sacrifice is required no longer.

Counting Shmita weeks is precise, and is logical. By why 7 weeks and 62 weeks not just 69, and why 62 weeks twice?

A clue is given as at Yeshua's birth they were waiting for him (Luke 2:38). There is no other time period but Daniel's given. They must have counted weeks and known to expect him. One of the 62 weeks relates to the coming, the second to the week he was cut off. The second 62 weeks is specifically to the cutting off. But the first is linked to the coming and is also linked to the finish of the wall in 'troublous times'.

And the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

The completion of the wall was in the 32nd of Axtaxerxes (Nehemiah 13:6) and this year is also a 7th year (432/1BC). Counting from this 'week', 62 weeks ends in 5/4BC, after which Yeshua is born. In diagram

Diagram of the weeks (of years) ending in the Sabbath (Shmita) year.

(Note there are 4 years missing at AD in the common dating 452BC-33AD is 490 years)

But what was so special about the 7 'weeks' (49 years)? It is possible this refers to Ezra's ministry. This idea has no scripture to support it, but the canon of inspired books was finished and compiled about this time, and it traditionally is attributed to Ezra. I also note that Daniel is told,

he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: (Daniel 9:27)

One week is seven days. Seven weeks for 'one week' of weeks. There may be a double application, with Ezra also confirming the covenant made with Moses and the worship set out by David. This was not a work of a few years. The Bible shows him working at least until the dedication of the wall in the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah 12 ends with a comment:

all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters (Nehemiah 12:47).

As Ezra wrote this, it shows they strictly followed the law all the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Historians admit not much is known of their later life. A date for Nehemiah's death of 413BC was found, and a tradition that states Ezra lived for 120 years, which suggests the 7 weeks to 404/3BC is possible (though it cannot be proven).