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Prophecy has got to be one of the most fascinating religious topics. Fulfilled prophecy is part of what gives the Bible credibility while other prophecies give us a glimpse into the future. One of my personal favorite prophecies is found in Daniel chapter 9. This is the 70 week prophecy that many like to split up to proclaim a 7 year tribulation.

The real beauty of this prophecy is the fact that it predicts the key dates of Christ's (Jesus') ministry.

70 weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city... Daniel 9:24 KJV

This verse provides the timeframe for the rest of the prophecy, 70 weeks. We know that in prophecy a day equals a year. This comes from two passages.

After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year... Numbers 14:34 KJV

and again

... I have appointed thee each day for a year. Ezekiel 4:6 KJV

So this makes the 70 year prophecy to be (after doing a little math) 490 years. So the next logical questions would be what is Daniel prophesying, and when does the prophecy start?

Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:... Daniel 9:25 KJV

This verse gives us both answers, Daniel is prophesying about the Messiah, and the starting point is the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem. From the command to restore Jerusalem it will be "seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks". A "score" is 20, so 3 "score" is 60. Add that to "seven weeks" and "two weeks" and you have 69 weeks, or, after replacing the 69 weeks with a day for a year, 483 years. Now you have to nail down the exact starting point.

In Ezra chapter 7, Artaxerxes makes a decree to in the seventh year of his reign to restore and build Jerusalem, and the temple. This decree was carried out in 457 BC. Here is our start. 483 years later takes us to AD 27, the start of Jesus' ministry. So exactly 69 weeks or 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem the Messiah came, Jesus started his ministry.

Daniel now finishes the prophecy with the last week in the 70 week prophecy.

And he 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

First question to answer is what is "the covenant"? The covenant that I can find that fits is Old Testament Covenant with Israel. After the Commandments were given on Mt. Sinai the Lord said:

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.... Exodus 19:5-6 KJV

So Israel was God's nation, when looking at the ministry of Jesus it follows through with this idea. Jesus, and after his death and the disciples until the death of Stephen, ministered to the Jews, "confirming the covenant". After the stoning of Stephen the disciples scattered ending their ministry to the Jews. Shortly thereafter Paul was converted and the Lord told said of him

...he is my chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15 KJV

thus ending the special ministry to the Jews. This took place at about AD 34. That would be the close of the seven year period, starting with the baptism of Jesus marking the beginning of his ministry and ending with the scattering of the disciples, and conversion of Paul, marking the end of the ministry to the Jews and the confirmation of the covenant.

So what happened in the midst of the week that caused cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease? 3 1/2 years after Jesus' ministry began he was crucified, 3 1/2 years later the disciples were scattered and the ministry was carried beyond the Jews, the crucifixion is the event in the "midst of the week".

The sacrificial system was setup as a symbol pointing toward Christ and his sacrifice. After Jesus was sacrificed there was no longer a need for a system pointing toward it, it was done away with. The tearing of the curtain in the temple (Matthew 27:51) at the death of Christ symbolized the end of the sacrificial system.

From what I have been able to understand, the 70 year prophecy of Daniel is an accurate and detailed prophecy of the life and mission of Christ. Some scholars take the last week (7 years) of the prophecy and say that it is speaking of seven years of tribulation at the end of the world, but this interpretation does not make any sense to me. Why would God place thousands of years in the middle of a prophetic timeline (between the 69th and 70th week)? It makes perfect sense though (and adds credibility to Jesus and the scriptures) to apply it to the mission of Christ.