Daniel 9:24, Counting down to the Messiah, I of III

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.

//Today’s topic stems from N. T. Wright’s new book, How God Became King. Daniel actually says “Seventy weeks” in his prophecy, but most people (such as the NIV translation quoted above) recognize this to mean seventy times seven (490) years. That’s how long it will take, according to Daniel, before the Messiah arrives and sets things right.

Today’s readers may recognize seven as a sort of special number, but it meant far more to Bible readers in Daniel’s day. The seventh day is the Sabbath. The seventh year is a sabbatical year. Every seven-times-seven years is declared a jubilee; slaves are freed, land sold off by the family is restored to its original owner, everything returns to the way it belongs.

Daniel’s promise sounds very much like a jubilee of jubilees! Wait four hundred ninety years, says Daniel, and God will set things right once and for all!

Now, let’s carry this topic a little further than Wright does. If we count 490 years from the date the Jews returned from exile and began rebuilding the temple according to the decree of Artaxerxes (457 BCE) we arrive at the year 33 CE … the year many believe Jesus died. Pretty amazing, huh?

We’ll look at this from another angle tomorrow, and see if it’s really as amazing as it appears.

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