One of the most amazing prophecies in the Bible, and of special importance to Seventh-day Adventists, is the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. Based on these verses and others, especially Daniel 8, our pioneers discovered the truth about the heavenly sanctuary, which Ellen White called “the foundation and central pillar of our faith.” To void the 70-week prophecy is, then, to void the justification for our existence.
Though heavy-laden with history and theology, the 70-week prophecy itself, just the numbers, is quite simple.
It starts out with, well, 70 weeks. The angel Gabriel says that “seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city” (Dan. 9:24, NKJV).
So, it begins with 70 weeks, 490 days.
Gabriel then says that “from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (verse 25).
So, seven weeks plus 62 weeks comes to 69 weeks, or 483 days. Thus, 69 of the 70 weeks are immediately accounted for. Plus, this gives us the starting point of the 70 weeks.
All that remains is one week, the last, the seventieth.
That week immediately appears in the next verse, when Gabriel says, “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself” (verse 26).
After what 62 weeks? The 62 weeks of the previous verse, which follow the seven weeks. Thus, after the seven weeks and the 62 weeks, that is, after 69 weeks, the Messiah will be “cut off.” And because only one week remains in the prophecy, this verse is referring to the seventieth week, the last seven days.
This final week is depicted again: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering” (verse 27).
In the midst of the last week, or in three and a half days, the “sacrifice and offerings” will cease.
So, to review.
We have the 70 weeks.
Then 69 of the 70 are immediately depicted; only one week, the last week, or the last seven days, remains.
Then three and a half days through the last week “the sacrifice and the oblation” will cease (verse 27, KJV).
What does this all mean?
First, the command to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem,” its starting point, was in 457 B.C, one of the firmest dates in biblical antiquity. (Years ago, Desmond Ford wrote a long article dissing 457, giving all the various and sundry reasons why he thought that 457 B.C. couldn’t be right. The date that he chose instead was—458 B.C., a difference of six months.)
So from 457 B.C to the “Messiah the prince,” Jesus, was how long? The text said 69 weeks, 483 days, or about one year and four months. That length, of course, can’t be correct, because it would have the Messiah, Jesus, coming almost half a millennium before He did. But if one applies the day-year principle, the 69 weeks, or 483 days, becomes 483 years, which brings us to A.D. 27, the year that Jesus was baptized. The ministry of Jesus Himself proves the validity of the day-year principle.
All that remains, then, is the last week, or the last seven years. In the midst of the week, or three and half years later, which comes to A.D. 31, “the sacrifice and the oblations” are brought to an end. At the death of Jesus, that is, when the Messiah was “cut off” in A.D. 31, the veil in the temple was torn apart, from top to bottom(Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38), signifying the end of the purpose of the sacrifice and oblations because what they all pointed to, the death of Jesus, had been fulfilled.
Meanwhile, it said that He, the Messiah, will confirm a covenant “with many for one week” (verse 27), the last week, which ended in 34 A.D. with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7) and the gospel now going to Gentiles as well as Jews.
So in short, there are 70 “weeks.” Sixty-nine of the 70 bring us to Jesus. The last week remains; in the midst of that week, or three and half “days,” Jesus is crucified,” then the prophecy ends.
Simple, based on Jesus, and crucial to us as a church.
Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His latest book, Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity, is available from Pacific Press.
1) Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 409.
2) Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.