Daniel’s 70 Weeks Ended in 33 A.D.

            I was brought up a good dispensationalist, as many others were. I read many theories attempting to explain the timing of Daniel’s 70 weeks. When I finally read Adam Rutherford’s book, Bible Chronology, as part of my study of timing, I began to see how my beliefs were not based on viable historical data. I began to see that key dates had been manipulated to make it turn out according to biased understanding. It began to dawn on me that we needed to adjust our understanding to fit the facts, not adjust the facts to fit our understanding of the Bible.

            In other words, prophecies should be understood in light of how they were actually fulfilled in history. History is fulfilled prophecy.

            The plain fact of history is that Daniel’s 70 weeks (490 years) began in 458 B.C. with the decree of Artaxerxes I, and it ended 490 years later in 33 A.D. with the crucifixion of Jesus. In other words, the crucifixion occurred at the end of the 70 weeks, not in the middle of the final “week,” as I had been taught. So let us take a closer look at Daniel 9:24-27 now in the light of the history already presented.

24 Seventy weeks [i.e., 70 rest year cycles, or 490 years] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [i.e., 7 rest year cycles, or 49 years] and threescore and two weeks [62 x 7 = 434 years]… 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off. . . 27 And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. . .
            It is not our intention to do a complete study on this subject, as that would take an entire book in itself. The question we must resolve here is the meaning of verses 26 and 27. The Messiah was to be “cut off” sometime after the 62-week period. Daniel’s three time periods are as follows:
(1)  Seven Weeks

(2)  Sixty-Two Weeks

(3)  One Week
      458 B.C. - 409 B.C.

409 B.C. -  26 A.D.

  26 A.D. -  33 A.D.
            Daniel’s prophecy tells us that “the sacrifice and the oblation” would cease in the midst of the final week of years (26-33 A.D.). This turns out to be the fall of 29 A.D., specifically, the Day of Atonement of that year, when Jesus presented Himself to John for baptism.

            We usually assume that the crucifixion ended the Old Testament sacrificial system, and most certainly, it did mark the full end of sacrifice insofar as the Christian is concerned. The priests continued sacrificing in the Temple for another 40 years, until the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Thus, it is obvious that Daniel’s prophecy spoke only from God’s perspective about the efficacy of those sacrifices and oblations. No sacrifice after Jesus’ presentations had any relevance to the sin question. The midst of Daniel’s 70th week marks the time of Jesus’ baptism, when He presented Himself as the true Goat. Jesus later presented Himself as the true Lamb at Passover of 33 A.D., marking the end of Daniel’s 70 weeks.

            These are the two great days in which Jesus presented Himself to the Father as the Sacrifice for sin. The first was a legal death, when He “died” by means of baptism. The second was His actual death on the Cross.

            There are two great works of Christ to be considered here, not just one. Those who understand the law of the two goats (Lev. 16) and compare it with the law of the two doves needed to cleanse the lepers (Lev. 14) will understand how this works. Both the first goat and the first dove were killed; while the second goat and the second dove were released alive. The first was a death work; the second a living work. These form the basic foundation of the two works of Christ in His two “comings.”

            Jesus came the first time to die, and we are expected to “die with Him” daily. He comes the second time alive, that we who have died with Him might also live with Him.

            But while these things are all very important for our overall understanding, we must limit ourselves to a discussion of Daniel’s 70 weeks. Jesus was “cut off” after the 62-week period, as Daniel 9:26 indicates. This cutting off actually worked out in two stages: His baptism, and His crucifixion. I believe that this is why Daniel’s prophecy is worded the way it is. Daniel does not say that He would be cut off in the midst of the 70th week. It merely says He would be “cut off” after the 62-week period, i.e., after 26 A.D. Thus, He must be “cut off” during the final week of years, 26 - 33 A.D.

            So the Messiah was indeed cut off, but it took place in two stages: the first at the beginning of His ministry in the fall of 29 A.D.; the second at Passover of 33 A.D.

            Nonetheless, Daniel 9:27 talks about this final week and pinpoints the midst of this week as the time when the sacrifice and oblation cease. History shows that God was talking about His baptism, not the crucifixion. In the eyes of God, the sacrifices and oblations (at least those performed on the Day of Atonement) became irrelevant at that point, for now the True Goat had been presented to God.

            The fact that the Temple priests continued to offer sacrifices and oblations long after this date is of no consequence to us. It is not what men do, but what God accepts that is important. Sacrifices would not actually cease for many years, but in the eyes of God, that era had ended in 29 A.D. Hebrews 9:12-14 says,

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
            The usual theory is that “the clock stopped,” either at the beginning of the 70th week or in the middle of it, and will be resumed at some point in the future. These views become irrelevant, once we see that Jesus was indeed crucified at the full end of the 490-year period. Jesus’ baptism in the midst of the week did not stop any time clocks. Furthermore, Daniel 9:27 is not talking about an “antichrist” who will put a stop to modern Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem at some future point. It is talking about what happened at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus is the One who put an end to the sacrificial system. And Jesus is the One who confirmed the New Covenant with many during that week from 26-33 A.D.

            Nearly the entire concept of modern Dispensationalism is based upon a faulty knowledge of history. The beginning points of Daniel’s 70 weeks are manipulated without regard to actual Persian history that is conclusively established by astronomy. The dates are manipulated in order to make Jesus’ crucifixion date fit their view of prophecy. They have Him crucified in the middle of the 70th week, in order to “stop the clock” and push the final week or half-week into the future. To make matters worse, the view then mandates the re-establishment of animal sacrifices on the old Temple site, as if God would have any regard for them. This view tramples on the blood of Christ and makes void His Sacrifice. Christians have no business dabbling in such a view. My tolerance for other viewpoints is greater than average, but not when they begin to undermine the blood of Jesus and its effectiveness for sin. This is basic to Christianity itself.

            Modern Dispensationalism also does not understand the concept of Blessed Time. They seldom relate it to Jesus’ statement to Peter in Matthew 18:21-22 about forgiving “seventy times seven” times. We can hardly blame them for not knowing how the principle of Blessed Time works, because this appears to be a new understanding not revealed in the past. Yet it is clear now that Blessed Time, as well as Judged Time and Cursed Time, are all cycles of forgiveness—grace periods, during which time God “forgives,” withholding judgment for sin. Once we understand this, we can see that the purpose of the 70 weeks of Daniel was to bring us to the Cross, when God called the world into the Divine Courtroom and reckoned the account for the whole world. The whole world was found carrying an insurmountable debt to sin; but that entire debt was placed upon Jesus Christ, who paid it in full by His death on the Cross. If He had done this before the end of the seventy weeks (such as in the middle of the final week), He would have violated His own principle of Blessed Time, when judgment is deferred by grace 490 times. Thus, Jesus’ statement to Peter lays down an important principle that is not only a moral command to us, but also a prophetic law that God Himself reveals to us by personal example.

by Stephen E. Jones
God's Kingdom Ministries