Sir Isaac Newton called it “the foundation stone of the Christian religion,
Sir Isaac Newton called it “the foundation stone of the Christian religion,” this not-so-easy-to-decipher prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. It’s connected, “determined” or “cut off” in biblical terminology, from a much more extensive prophecy in Daniel 8 which includes a symbolic ram, goat, little horn and 2300 prophetic days or literal years. The angel Gabriel had explained to Daniel what the ram, goat and little horn stood for, and informed Daniel that the 2300 days/years would reach “to the time of the end.” Then after Daniel’s extended prayer in chapter 9, Gabriel returned to explain to Daniel how the 2300 year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 would be initiated by a series of events that would occur over a period of 70 sevens, or 70 weeks (a period understood by many Protestant scholars through the centuries as 490 years). It’s this 490-year prophecy that Newton was so excited about.
Daniel 9:25 revealed that this 490-year prophetic period would commence with the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. At the time this prophecy was given (6th century B.C.), Jerusalem lay in ruins and the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. Then in 457 B.C., the third in a series of Persian decrees allowing Jerusalem to be restored was issued, and the 490-year prophecy began to be fulfilled.
Daniel 9:25-26 indicates that 7 prophetic weeks (during which Jerusalem was rebuilt) plus 69 prophetic weeks (which added together computes to 483 prophetic weeks or 483 literal years) after 457 B.C., the Messiah the Prince, that is, God’s anointed One, would come. When that’s figured out mathematically, it works out to 27 A.D. (456½ + 26½ = 483). What is absolutely fascinating about this is that there is only one year in the life of Jesus to which the Bible assigns a date, and that is the year of His baptism, when He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, became the Messiah and began his ministry: according to Luke 3:1, 21-23, this occurred in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, or 27 A.D., exactly as had been prophesied in Daniel’s prophecy given over 500 years earlier!
In Daniel 9:27 the focus shifts to the final seven to fulfill the prophecy. And here the drama intensifies. The focus of that final week is on what happened when Jesus came in the middle of it: “In the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering” (NKJV). Verse 26 adds that “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” Based on the number of annual Passovers Jesus attended after His baptism, scholars near unanimously agree that His ministry lasted for 3½ years (which reaches to the middle of that final prophetic 7 year period), and then He was crucified, “cut off,” “but not for Himself” (because He died not for His own sins of which He had none, but for ours). And His death for us “brought an end to [the animal] sacrifice[s] and offering[s]” which had pointed forward to His death. It all happened just as it had been prophesied. Newton believed that this prophecy, which foretold over 500 years in advance the very time when Jesus would be baptized and crucified for our redemption, was proof positive that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied by the Old Testament.
Cataclysmic consequences for our world resulted when Jesus came in the middle of the final week of that prophecy. But then, cataclysmic consequences always occur when Jesus comes in the middle of anything, or anyone.