This definite prediction as to the exact TIME of the coming of the Messiah is one of the most wonderful prophecies in the entire Bible. It establishes the date of the Messiah’s advent almost five hundred years before He came. Here is the prediction:
“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, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. 9:25-26).
The date of the “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” was the decree by Artaxerxes in 444 B.C., which granted the Jews permission to return to Israel and rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1-8).
The Hebrew word translated as “weeks” in the Scripture quoted above (Dan. 9:25-26) means “sevens” or “heptads,” and is used to mean seven years, as when Jacob served his weeks for his wives: seven years, one week, for Leah, and seven years, one week, for Rachel11 (Gen. 29:27-28, Lev. 25:8). In other words, the “seventy sevens” that are prophetically determined for Israel and the holy city, with specified events (Dan. 9:24), are a period of 490 years.
This period is divided into three sections.
The first is seven “weeks,” or seven sevens of years—the 49 years the prophet allotted for the rebuilding of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra and those associated with them (see the books of Nehemiah and Ezra). History tells us it took 49 years to do this rebuilding.
The second period is 62 “weeks,” or 434 years, which would bring the time to the MESSIAH.
The third period, the 70th “week,” is a period of seven years some time after the coming of the Messiah.
We now are especially interested in the period “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” to “Messiah the Prince,” which is a total of 483 years. Sir Robert Anderson, in his book The Coming Prince, figured it out and gave the world his findings.
Anderson starts with March 14, 444 B.C., the date of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, and ends with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (which he believes is when all Israel became aware of Christ’s Messiahship. He believes it to be the official presentation of the Messiah as “Prince” to Israel [Matt. 21:1-9, Zech. 9:9]). After careful investigation and consultation with noted astronomers, he gives these startling findings: “From 444 B.C. to 32 A.D. is 476 years; 476 X 365 is 173,740 days; from March 14 to April 6 (the day of Christ’s triumphal entry) is 24 days, add 116 days for leap years (for a year to be a leap year, it must be exactly divisible by four, unless the year ends in two zeros, in which case then it must be divisible by 400), and you get a total of 173,880 days. Since the prophetic year of the Bible is always 360 days, the 69 ‘sevens’ of this prophecy in Daniel (69 X 7 X 360) is 173,880 days! And so the time given by Daniel from the ‘commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem’ to ‘Messiah the Prince’ comes out perfectly—to the very day!” (Anderson).
This is a genuine prophecy, as detailed as a road map, with no taint of ambiguity. It is also a prediction that has been proven to be true. This is a sign that points unerringly to JESUS OF NAZARETH, “Messiah the Prince,” who was “cut off” but not for Himself. When Jesus began His public ministry, He said significantly, “The TIME is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). The Messiah had to be born at some time; it might have been in any century, or in any year; but with absolute certainty the exact year and the very month of a notable event in His life was foretold.
This wonderful prophecy was given in the prophetic Word so that all might know the Messiah when He came. The accuracy of prediction is minute; the fulfillment is exact. One mistake would be fatal—but all is in perfect agreement: Jesus of Nazareth fulfills ALL the specifications as to His lineage, His birthplace, and the time of His birth. And is it not most remarkable that within a generation of Christ’s sufferings on the cross the temple was destroyed, the Jewish priesthood ceased to exist, the sacrifices were no longer offered, the Jews’ genealogical records were destroyed, the Jews’ city was destroyed, and the people of Israel were driven out of their land, sold into slavery, and dispersed to the four corners of the earth? Since those dreadful national judgments fell on Israel it has been utterly impossible for a “Messiah” to come with proper “credentials,” credentials such as the Old Testament demands and credentials such as Jesus of Nazareth presented.