1. The first period was “seven weeks”, 7x7, which is 49 years. This began with “...the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem...” until “...the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” This command was given by king Artaxerxes in 445 BC and it took 49 years until its fulfilment with the completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah. And in fact a further period of 483 years is also counted from the same initial command by Artaxerxes: “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks” (v25). Messiah was of course the promised one spoken of throughout the OT scriptures who we know as Jesus Christ. Here we have an exact prophecy given to Daniel as to when the Messiah would appear.
THREESCORE AND TWO WEEKS
2. The second period was “threescore and two weeks”, 62x7, which is 434 years. “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself” (v26). So from the completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah until Messiah being cut off would be 434 years. When we add the 49 years in the first part of the prophecy to these 434 years in the second part of the prophecy we get the 483 years. After this time slot Messiah was to be cut off, or killed, His blood would be shed. When calculated according to the Jewish year this brings us to 32 AD. This was when Jesus made His last journey into Jerusalem for the Passover which led to His crucifixion.
So this fulfils 483 years of the initial 490 years of prophecy. Only seven years are left. But two things were to happen at the end of the 483 years proving a break in time, one was immediate – the cutting off of the Messiah. Another was of an undisclosed period of time, “...and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (v26). This is concerning the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. This took place in 70 AD. The fact that this prophetic event is given after the fulfilment of the 483 years but prior to the final 7 years proves there is to be a break in time until the fulfilment of the last seven years.
3. The third period was “one week”, 1x7, or seven years. “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, and for the overspreading of abominations...” This last period of seven years has never yet been fulfilled in history. It is prophesied that it will be initiated by a very specific event. A prince or leader of the people who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Romans, will confirm a covenant with Daniel’s people in connection with Jerusalem for 7 years. For this to happen Israel would need to be back in their land, the temple rebuilt, blood sacrifices in operation, and the old Roman Empire revived with a new ten-man form of government overseeing it in connection with the seven hills of Rome.
When we see how accurate part 1 and part 2 of this prophecy is, and how exact the years predicted have already been then we can be in no doubt that this last 7 year period of future prophetic events is certain and sure to happen. The Book of Daniel in the OT and the Book of Revelation in the NT is dominated by giving the details and events connected to this future 7-year period of time prior to the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. As we watch the horizon of world politics, economics, religion, and world events it is obvious that this final period of time is fast approaching.
The Romans introduced the Julian calendar of calculating the year with 365 days. This was perfected in the Gregorian calendar which also used 365 days. But in the Bible a year is 360 days with an additional 24.7 days added to make up for time a bit like our leap year. This ancient gauge of charting time goes back to the beginning of civilization and is dictated by the moon. It is called a solar calendar. This is the time frame used by Noah, Abraham, Moses and Daniel in the OT as well as John in Revelation in the NT. In the Book of Revelation we are explicitly told that a period of 3.5 years is 42 months which is 1260 days. In our modern way of calculating 3.5 years it would be 1,278 days. This all needs to be taken into account in calculating the years in Daniel's prophecy within this brief post. For the sake of simplicity and clarity we have not gone into a long explanation of this.