If you’ve known me any length of time you’ve probably received a phone call from me wanting to talk about God. I love to share the stories of things that He has done in my life. In my opinion, they are mighty miracles, too numerous to count and too unlikely to dismiss as coincidence. Being as this is the case, I feel absolutely compelled to speak to those I care about regarding God. After all, I know that one day we will all face eternity with Him or death without Him. Daily, it is my prayer that all those I know would not suffer separation from The One who brings all good things to the Earth. Over and again the Bible says to repent and trust in God. We must turn from all that He says is bad and be humble and honest enough to admit that He is the living God. He does know best and we do not. We need Him. This life is not about the daily worries and ins and outs of society. It is about preparing an unholy people to meet a Holy God and for that we cannot be ready without His Spirit dwelling within us.
My personal testimony is enough for me. But for those who don’t know me or that I am truly an honest woman who strives to not exaggerate, or in any way malign the truth, there is another source of God’s direction and revelation for us - scripture.
The other day I came across a prophecy that both astonished me and secured my hope. I don’t know why it’s not preached in every church and sang from the rooftops but I wish it were. I am well aware of the over 300 prophesies that point to and predict various aspects of the life of the Christ but this one tops them all. Written in the book of Daniel which was translated into Greek approximately 300 years before Christ was born, the exact time of The Messiah is predicted. This is what the prophecy says:
“A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One —comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times.
After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.” Daniel 9:24-27 NLT
Okay, I know at first glance this sounds vague and ambiguous but stay with me here. First of all, in the Old Testament there was something called a “week of years.” This can be found in both Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. In both of these God used days to represent years. In addition, the Hebrew word for week is “a time period of seven.” So, the prophecy in Daniel is referring to 70 sets of 7 years each - in other words 490 years total and specifically 483 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah.
The first set of 49 years (or seven sets of seven) refers to the time it will take to rebuild Jerusalem. Then in 62 sets of 7 years each after the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the Messiah will come. The verse in Daniel is clear that this is not just the rebuilding of the Temple as began in the book of Ezra - but a decree to actually restore Jerusalem, itself, with streets, a moat, etc. This happened in the book of Nehemiah 2:1-8, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia.
You remember Nehemiah was Artaxerxes’ cupbearer and when he (Nehemiah) learned about the disrepair of Jerusalem, that its wall had been destroyed and its streets were in ruins. Nehemiah prayed and fasted. Then, he went to the King and asked for help. King Artexerses issued a decree in 445 B.C. allowing and even personally providing to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”
So, how long was it after that decree until Jesus came into the picture? Seven weeks and 62 weeks or 7 sets of 7 years and 62 sets of 7 years otherwise known as 483 years. Historically, the decree is thought to have been issued on the first day of the Hebrew month of Nisan 445 B.C. This would correspond to March 14th on our calendar. (See explanation below.) Jesus first allowed the general public to recognize him as the Messiah when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey just days prior to his crucifixion. This was recorded in Matthew 21:5, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, 'Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey--riding on a donkey's colt.’" As he rode the people cried out, “Hosanna, Hosanna” or God with us. Jesus didn’t stop them. In fact, he said that if they didn’t cry out that even the rocks would declare Him as King. His time had come. This occurred on April 6th 32 A.D. which, using the Jewish custom of a 360-day year, is exactly 483 years to the day from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. In other words, there are 173,880 days from March 14th 445 B.C. until April 6th 32 A.D. using the Jewish 360 day year. This is explained in great detail at the bottom of the blog entry for those of you who are a bit nerdy like me :-)
So, what about the rest of the prophesy?
“After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.”
This is referring to Jesus being crucified, “appearing to have accomplished nothing.” Then, the final part of the statement, “a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple” was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.
I know it takes a little bit of thought, but there it is, in black and white. The exact time - to the day - of the Messiah. Wow! What a loving God we have to spell things out so clearly for us. I do hope you will take it. Research it for yourself. And start the conversation around your dinner table. How do we know Jesus REALLY was the Messiah?
Longer explanation for my nerdy friends (like me!)
Artaxerxes Longimanus became king of the Medo-Persian empire on July 465 B.C. The decree was given nine months into his 20th year which would have been in the Hebrew month of Nisan. This corresponds to March / April on our calendar. The day of the month was not specifically stated in the decree so this would mean, by Hebrew tradition, that it was given on the first day of the month (or March 14th).
So, how do we know that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on April 6th 32 A.D.? The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus was baptized during Caesar Tiberius' 15th year. Most scholars believe Jesus was baptized in the fall. So that would mean that Jesus was baptized in the fall of 28 A.D. Four passovers occurred during Jesus's ministry on Earth with the last of them being the day of His crucifixion in the year 32 A.D. Passover that year fell on April 10th, or the 14th day of Nisan according to the Hebrew calendar. This would make the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and first allowed the general public to declare Him as king was April 6th, 173,880 days after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.