The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: S

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Seventy "sevens"

Literally, the phrase is "seventy sevens" -- no units are given. However, the only unit of measure which fits is years, as determined by the 7 sevens (49 years) plus 62 sevens (434 years) to the coming "of the anointed one", that is, Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Confirmation is found in the split of the seventieth "week" into two three and one-half-year periods.

["The 'seventy weeks' prophecy is usually regarded as the classic instance of 'a year for a day' in the understanding of prophetic time-periods. It is nothing of the sort, for the original phrase is not 'seventy weeks', but 'seventy sevens', the unit of time not being specified. (By contrast, Dan 10:2 has the literal word: 'weeks')" (WDan).]

"In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering" (Dan 9:27) -- this refers to the sacrifice of Christ. His death and resurrection, at the end of his ministry, terminated the first 3 1/2 years -- leaving a final 3 1/2-year period to complete the full "week" or "seven". See Lessons, 3 1/2 years and 1,260 / 1,290 / 1,335 days.)

The duration of Jesus' covenant with the faithful is said to be "a week", or better, "one seven" (v 27). But clearly, Jesus' covenant lasts more than seven literal years. The explanation is found in the "gap" or "discontinuity" of Daniel's prophecies, which was seen to be characteristic in Dan 2; 7; 8; and 11. Daniel goes from a first-century fulfillment to a "last days" fulfillment, from one verse to the next (eg Dan 8:22,23; 11:39,40), or even in the same verse (Dan 7:24, and here in Dan 9:27)! So from the beginning of his ministry (the first 3 1/2 years) to the time of his Return (the final 3 1/2), Jesus will keep covenant with his disciples.

The details in Dan 9:24 -- "to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, etc" -- can all be interpreted as applying to Jesus at both his first and second Coming.

The years between the first and second Coming are evidently ignored by Daniel. His prophecy seems to focus only on the critical events of Jesus' life dealing with the fulfillment of God's promises. In the first century, Jesus by his death and resurrection conquered sin, so as to confirm the promises (cp Rom 15:8; Acts 13:32,33). In the future, Jesus will judge the world, restore the Kingdom to Israel, and grant eternal life to the faithful, ie fulfill the promises (cp Acts 1:6,11; 3:19-21; Rev 11:18; 20:4; Dan 12:2,3). Relatively speaking, the time between the two Comings of Jesus is unimportant, and thus it is given little, if any, prophetic detail.

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