One of the most compelling prophecies of the Bible is found in Daniel 9:24-26. There the prophet predicts that from the time of the command to rebuild Jerusalem (after Israel’s exile in Babylon) 69 “sevens” would pass before the Messiah came and was “cut off, but not for himself.”
Then Daniel says that the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (temple) will be destroyed.
Even the roughest calculations show that, if the 69 “sevens” are years, then from the command of the Persian king Cyrus in around 445 BC, 483 years (69 x7) would put the coming of Messiah, and his death (“cut off but not for himself”) in the time frame of Jesus.
40 years later (70 AD) Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans. (Picture is of model of Jerusalem and first century Temple on grounds of the Israel Museum).
Daniel’s predictions were so amazing that for a long time doubtful scholars claimed that his prophecy must have been faked after the fact of Jesus life. But the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls showed otherwise.
So why don’t more people know about Daniel’s prophecy? There seem to be a couple of reasons. One is that there are two dimensions to Daniel’s prophecy. One is chronological. The other is “eschatological” (dealing with futuristic end time scenarios). Since the doctrine of the end times is very controversial, whether there are yet to be fulfilled dimensions of Daniel’s prophecy is fiercely debated among Christian “camps”. Many therefore see Daniel’s prophecy as being very difficult and subject to much controversy.
But the “prophetic arguments” are no reason to ignore the huge issue of whether, by Daniel’s calculations, Messiah had to arrive within the period of Jesus’ life, and before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
There is, however, another reason why Daniel’s prophecy has not gotten more attention. I found it recently while reading Dr. Floyd Jones “Chronology of the Old Testament”. After dealing with the powerful chronological aspects of Daniel’s prediction, and even the fact that by this chronology, Israel was given 40 years to accept Jesus as their Messiah before Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, Jones calls attention to an apparent cover-up (or huge mistake) by Rabbinic scholars.
In an Appendix titled “Why Jewish Dating is Different”, Jones deals with the fact that since the second century, the “Book of the Order of the world” (Seder Olam Rabbah) has ignored 165 years of history. He concludes that the reason for this discrepancy was to alter the Jewish national chronology so as to make Daniel’s prediction point to the second century Simon Bar Kokhba rather than to Jesus of Nazareth. (Wikipedia has a good summary of Simon Bar Kokhba who was recognized by some in his day as the Messiah)
Jones supports his conclusion by quoting a present day Jewish scholar who expresses amazement that “saintly men of truth… left out completely from our annals a period of 165 years and to correct all data and historic tables in such a fashion that the subsequent chronological gap could escape being noticed by countless generations”… (Simon Schwab, “Comparative Jewish Chronology”).
Seems to me that Daniel’s prophecy regarding the time of the appearance and death of the Messiah is too important for us not to be aware of.
To see more about Daniel’s prophecy, you can find our Discovery Series booklet, The Daniel Papers, online at this link.