Wouldn’t it be cool if God gave us verifiable evidence that He has a plan? I think so. I mean, imagine if the creator of the universe was like, “hey, so uh, imma send my son down to save all ya’ll in exactly 476 years. Just sayin’.” I mean, that would be pretty awesome.
Alright, so I guess I tricked you. This actually happened… for real. God straight up told us, through prophecy in the Old Testament (Daniel 9), when Jesus was going to come. It’s not a fairy tale, I didn’t make it up, it’s real.
But, just saying it’s true doesn’t mean it is. So, I’m going to attempt to go through the prophecy in a detailed, concise way with this post.
Daniel 9: 24 (New International Version) “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 verse is saying this is a prophecy to end all prophecies. All sin is going to be paid for, what the whole Old Testament has been pointing to is finally coming. What has the Old Testament been talking about, though? The coming of Christ.
Micah 5:2 tells us that Jesus was going to be born in Bethlehem, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Isaiah 7:14 shows that Jesus’ mother will be a virgin, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
There is prophecy written before Jesus was born that describes His life. This is pretty cool stuff. Daniel 9 wraps it all up, telling us when Jesus is coming with precision.
Let’s look back up at Daniel 9: 24. What’s the deal with the “Seventy ‘sevens’” business? Before listening to this teaching, I had no idea. But, this type of language was actually common to the people of Daniel’s time. A “seven” means a Sabbath. In the Old Testament, a Sabbath is generally referred to in years (not weeks or days). This is shown in Leviticus 25: 4 “but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”
The main point is that a “seven” in Daniel’s context means seven years. Daniel 9:25 gives more detail, “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 is explaining when Jesus was to come! 7 ‘sevens’ plus 62 ‘sevens’ is 69. Each ‘seven’ is referring to sabbatical years (or seven years). So, we simply multiply 69 by 7 which leaves us with 483 years.
But, where do we start the clock? What date can we say is the first of the 483 years? There have been a few suggestions over time, but the only logical one is 444 B.C. In Daniel 9: 25, it says “the world goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem,” which means Jerusalem was in ruins and was beginning to be rebuilt. In Nehemiah 2: 5 it says, “…send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it,” which shows that Jerusalem was about to be rebuilt. The date of Nehemiah 2 is marked in verse 1, “And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes…” This isn’t just a made up dude, and this isn’t a made up date. Google search Artaxerxes and you’ll quickly find that his reign started in 465 B.C. So, his twentieth year would be 444 B.C.
Alright, we’re getting there. It’s really not that complicated. We already did the math from Daniel 9, which left us with 483 years. Now, we simply move the timeline starting at 444 B.C. 483 years ahead, giving us 39 A.D.
But actually, if we want a more precise date, we need to do a little bit more math. In Daniel’s time, people used the lunar calendar. Their months (and therefore, years) were based on the moon, which left them with a 360 day year. Presently we use solar years and have 365.25 days in a year. In order to be as exact as possible, let’s change our math to fit in with the 5 day difference in year measurements. Originally, we calculated 483 years. Multiply 483 years by 360 days to get 173,880 days total based on lunar years. Take those 173,880 days and divide by 365.25 days to get 476 solar years. To sum up, all we did was convert 483 lunar years to 476 solar years.
Let’s re-do the date we found, then. Starting from 444 B.C. and moving forward 476 years, we come to 32 A.D. But wait, there is still something wrong with this math. There is actually no such thing as “year zero.” Instead of going from 1 B.C. to 0 to 1 A.D., we go from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. To fix our math, then, all we have to do is add a year, which leaves us with a final answer of 33 A.D. Woah… wait a second… didn’t something happen in 33 A.D.? Yes! 33 A.D. is the best educated-estimate of when Jesus was arrested and killed on the cross!
How about we take a step back from this? It might seem a little complicated with all the math, but it really isn’t. I just wanted to be as detailed as possible. But think about what this means! Daniel 9 LITERALLY predicts Jesus’ crucifixion to the EXACT year!
What does this mean? It means that God has communicated with us, that He has not left us out to dry, that He cares. Seriously, this is HUGE. God has spoken to us through the Bible. As a believer in Christ, this kind of revelation further cements my faith and, frankly, gets me excited. If you are not a believer, this is what God is all about. Believing in God does not mean one forfeits all the conventional styles of inquiry. There is evidence out there.
P.S. I’m open to any kind of conversation regarding the topic, whether you agree or disagree with my conclusion.