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Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)


We come now to the purpose of this prophecy. The angel, Gabriel, revealed to Daniel that 70 weeks, or 490 years, would elapse and then Messiah would come. This is not a matter of conjecture on our part; it is specifically stated by Gabriel in verse 25:


Know therefore and understand, 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; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.


Gabriel divides the 70 weeks into three periods. In verse 25, periods of 7 weeks and 62 weeks are mentioned and in verse 27 it is said that Messiah shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, for a total of 70 weeks. That the prophecy concerns Messiah is seen from the use of the title, Gabriel’s reference to Messiah as the Most Holy and the “He” in verse 27.




The previous prophecies in Daniel relate to the world-wide empires relevant to the land of the Jews, it is necessary to identify where this prophecy will take place and who will be affected by it. Gabriel tells Daniel the prophecy affects “your people and for your holy city.”

The “your people” of whom Gabriel speaks are the Jews, the nation to which Daniel belonged. Reference is made to them because they are the people through whom Messiah will enter the world. But of more relevance is the fact that Daniel had been praying about the 70 years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah and had asked God to intercede for his people, the Jews.

The “your holy city” is Jerusalem. It was Daniel’s home before the captivity. The reason it is mentioned here is because, in verse 1, he had been studying and praying “that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel was one of the Jews and Jerusalem was their capitol city; it was also the location of the temple and the center of the Jewish faith. However, more is involved than just the restoration of Jerusalem; Jerusalem will be the place where the following events concerning Messiah will take place.




Having made it clear the prophecy concerns Messiah, Gabriel gives Daniel a list of six things that will happen in Jerusalem at the end of the 490 years. In this chapter we will look at the first three.


To Finish the Transgression


In looking through the list, this first action sounds very much like the second action: to make an end of sins; but it is not the same. The word translated “transgression” is the Hebrew word peh-shah, meaning to rebel, transgress, or revolt. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament[1] explains:


The fundamental idea of the root is a breach of relationships, civil or religious, between two parties. . . . The acts of transgression, i.e. going beyond the limits of God’s laws, have impact on inner attitudes which create deceitfulness or a distorted love for this “independence” from God. It may dull one’s knowledge of the right; and be a rigid refusal to accept correction. . . . Not only does peh-shah create a gulf between God and man, it generates distortions within himself, i.e. a tendency to hide his actions, deceitfulness, illness, a love for strife, and a sense of defilement.


Peh-shah, transgression, conveys the same concept as what theologians call “original sin.” It is the spiritual state of mankind after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Apostle Paul expressed the same thing in 1 Timothy 2:14 where he writes that they “fell into transgression.” It is original sin, this transgression, that separates fallen mankind from God making all people born into the world spiritually dead. Fortunately, this rebellion can be put to an end and people restored to a right relationship with God. The Theological Wordbook explains how this rebellion can be ended:


As far as God is concerned, there are two ways the rebellion may be ended: it may be ended with punishment or a renewal of the relationship. . . . Before God can actually grant his pardon, man is called upon to act with a warning attached and that man must personally repudiate his rebellion and the idolatry that was an integral part of it.


In Gabriel’s words, Messiah comes to finish the transgression, or as explained to us in the Theological Wordbook, to restore the relationship. How did Messiah accomplish this task in His coming?

When John the Baptist saw Jesus he told his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) The Jews were used to the sacrifices of the temple, which made possible the forgiveness of their sins. Messiah came to make atonement for sin and to carry it away in reality, whereas the animal sacrifices only dealt with sin in a ceremonial way. Also, the animal sacrifices dealt only with the sins of the Jewish people; Messiah would carry away the sin of the world—the sin of all races and all peoples.


To Make and End of Sins.


This expression sounds like the forgiveness of sins or some kind of sanctification, but the actual meaning is to make an end of sin-offerings. The Theological Wordbook says in explaining this expression: “Man can only deal with sin through the sacrificial offering coupled with confession and turning from sin to God.” Messiah, Christ, came and by the offering of Himself made an end of sin offerings. The writer of the Book of Hebrews at length draws the parallel between the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and the work of Christ.


For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. . . . then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:1–4, 9–10, 12–14).


But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Hebrews 7:24–27).


Under the Law of Moses, sin sacrifices were offered continually. Christ, as our high priest and the sin sacrifice, put an end to all the sacrifices of the Law when He offered Himself once for all on the cross of Calvary. Adam Clarke comments on this:


For himself he offered no sacrifice; and the apostle gives the reason—he needed none, because he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners: and for the people he offered himself once for all, when he expired upon the cross, It has been very properly remarked, that the sacrifice offered by Christ differed in four essential respects from those, offered by the Jewish priests: 1. He offered no sacrifice for himself, but only for the people. 2. He did not offer that sacrifice annually, but once for all. 3. The sacrifice which he offered was not of calves and goats, but of himself. 4. This sacrifice he offered, not for one people, but for the whole human race; for he tasted death for every man.


To Make Reconciliation for Iniquity.


The literal meaning of this statement is to make atonement for iniquity. The word translated reconciliation is the Hebrew word kaw-for, meaning to cover, to placate or cancel. The Theological Wordbook explains the meaning of this word:


It means “to atone by offering a substitute.” . . . The verb is always used in connection with the removal of sin or defilement . . . It seems clear that this word aptly illustrates the theology of reconciliation in the OT. The life of the sacrificial animal specifically symbolized by its blood was required in exchange for the life of the worshipper. Sacrifice of animals in OT theology was not merely an expression of thanks to the deity by a cattle raising people. It was the symbolic expression of innocent life given for guilty life.


Kaw-for is used 27 times in reference to the mercy seat, that gorgeous golden lid that covered the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. In the New Testament, the concept of reconciliation and the mercy seat is conveyed by the Greek word hil-as-mos, translated by the English word propitiation.

The prophecy of the 70 weeks informs us that Christ comes to make propitiation, reconciliation, for iniquity. Iniquity means more than just sin, sin can be forgiven. Iniquity in Hebrew is the word aw-vone, which means sin with its consequence. The “wages of sin is death;” (Romans 6:24) forgiveness alone cannot suspend the death penalty; mankind is in need or more than just forgiveness, we need acquittal. The word acquittal means to be relieved from a charge of fault or crime, to be pronounced not guilty. It means essentially the same as the theological word justify. Does Christ justify us from sin and its consequence? If so, how? The Apostle Paul succinctly says yes to both questions in Romans 3:24–25:


. . . being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed . . .


We are justified, acquitted of sin and its consequence, because the blood of Christ is a propitiation. Paul reinforces, not just the forgiveness, but the release from the consequence of sin in Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”




There are three more things that will happen with the coming of Messiah, which will be addressed in the next chapter. Up to the time of Daniel the concept of Messiah was somewhat obscure in the Jewish religion. He is alluded to in the Garden of Eden after the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. He is included in God’s promises to Abraham, David, and the pre-exilic prophets, but He a much more robust personage after the return of the Israelites from Babylon.

By the time of the Roman Empire, the Jews had a great longing for Messiah, but their concept of Messiah was far different from that revealed in the prophecy of the 70 weeks.  At the time of Christ the Jews were looking for a literal, military deliverer who would throw off Roman rule and reestablish a literal kingdom on earth. Many modern Christians are still looking for a literal kingdom on earth.

The Messiah revealed in prophecy is far different. He came to take away the sin of the world; He came to put an end to continual sin sacrifices by the sacrifice of Himself; and, He was the mercy seat that would reconcile to God those who would accept His work of atonement.


[1] Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; editors R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke; Moody Press: Chicago, IL; 1980.