THE PROPHECY FULFILLED
EVENTS OF THE "SEVENTY WEEKS" AND END OF THE 2300 YEARS
The angel explained to Daniel the events of the seventy weeks allotted to Jerusalem and its people "to finish the transgression." Seven weeks and threescore and two weeks (69 weeks) of the seventy were to reach to the Messiah. The angel's words were:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression.... 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 [69 weeks, or 483 days]." Dan. 9:24, 25.
The sixty-nine weeks, symbolic time, are 483 years, which were to reach from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince.
The Time of the Messiah's Coming
The commandment of Artaxerxes to restore and build Jerusalem, as we have seen, went forth in 457 b.c. Reckoning from that date, 483 full years bring us to A.D. 27, when, according to the prophecy, the Messiah should appear.
Messiah means "anointed." The anointing of Jesus, and His manifestation as the Anointed One, was at His baptism:
"Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matt. 3:16, 17.
Thus Jesus was anointed as the Messiah (see Acts 10:38), and John proclaimed: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29.
When did this baptism and anointing take place? The Gospel of Luke supplies the historical facts for fixing the year:
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea," etc. Luke 3:1-3.
Tiberius followed Augustus, who died in A.D. 14. But before the latter's death, Tiberius was associated with him on the throne. Some modern historians date this appointment of Tiberius as Cæsar from A.D. 13; but the "History of Rome," by Dion Cassius, a Roman senator, born in the second century, shows, under events of A.D. 12, that Augustus recognized Tiberius as holding the imperial dignity at that time. (Book 56, chap. 26.) Again, Dr. Philip Schaff says:
"There are coins from Antioch in Syria of the date A.U. 765 [A.D. 12], with the head of Tiberius and the inscription, Kaisar, Sebastos (Augustus)."—"History of the Christian Church," Vol. I, p. 120, footnote.
These coins from Syria bear certain witness that the first year of Tiberius should be counted from A.D. 12. Therefore "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar" would be A.D. 27, just 483 years from the going forth of the commandment to restore Jerusalem. The prophecy of the sixty-nine weeks was fulfilled—the Messiah had come.
Confirming the Covenant
But "one week" of the seventy remained—seven years. Of the Messiah's work during this time the angel said:
"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." Dan. 9:27.
Christ's death upon the cross made "the sacrifice and the oblation to cease," so far as their appointed force was concerned. After three years and a half of ministry, "in the midst" of this seven-year period, the prophetic week, the Messiah was lifted up on Calvary. For centuries the sure word of prophecy had pointed to this supreme hour in the working out of the plan of salvation. When the time was fulfilled, the promise of God was fulfilled also, and the divine Sacrifice was offered.
"Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
All our sins on Thee were laid;
By Almighty Love anointed,
Thou redemption's price hast paid.
All Thy people are forgiven
Through the virtue of Thy blood;
Opened is the gate of heaven,
Peace is made 'twixt man and God."
With the offering of the great Sacrifice, all the typical offerings ceased to have significance. The veil of the temple was rent when the Lamb of God expired upon the cross,—sign to all that He had caused "the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
The Messiah was to "confirm the covenant with many for one week," filling out the seventy weeks allotted in God's merciful patience especially to the people of the Jews. Three and a half years of Christ's personal ministry on earth had been devoted to the chosen people. Now, after His ascension, He was still, in the persons of His disciples, to press the gospel of the new covenant especially upon the Jewish people—"to the Jew first," and "beginning at Jerusalem."
This last seven-year period, beginning in A.D. 27, ended in A.D. 34. By that time the opposition of the Jews was becoming exceedingly bitter. As a people they were rejecting again the divine invitation extended by the risen Christ through His witnesses. About A.D. 34 Stephen was martyred. The same council that, against all evidence, had rejected the Messiah, again rejected the appeal of the Holy Ghost shining visibly on Stephen's countenance.
The believers in Jerusalem were driven out by persecution; and "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." Acts 8:4. The Gentiles gave heed in Samaria, and the Ethiopian received the gospel on the road to Gaza. The gospel message had fairly passed the boundaries of Jerusalem and was on its way to the "uttermost parts of the earth."
Though the seventy weeks cut off upon the Jewish people and upon the holy city had ended, to the world's end the gospel of Christ's salvation is for that people as well as for all other nations.
The Ending of the 2300 Years
It must not be forgotten that the angel was explaining to Daniel the vision and prophecy of the long prophetic period that was to reach to the cleansing of the sanctuary at the time of the end.
These events of the first seventy weeks of that period were "to seal up the vision and prophecy." Dan. 9:24. The shedding of the blood of the divine Sacrifice "to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness," set Heaven's seal to the vision. As surely as the great Offering had been made, so surely the cleansing of the sanctuary would be accomplished by the ministry of our High Priest in heaven.
And the exact fulfilment of the time schedule for this first portion of the prophetic period, set seal to the declaration that when the full 2300 years should run out, the closing ministry of Christ would surely begin in the heavenly sanctuary.
From 457 b.c., when the commandment of Artaxerxes to restore Jerusalem went forth, the measuring line of the 2300 years reaches to the year A.D. 1844. In that year the time of the prophecy came. Then the cleansing of the sanctuary was to begin.
The prophet John, in the Revelation, beheld the opening of this last phase of the ministry of Christ in the most holy place of the temple of God. "The temple of God was opened in heaven," he says, "and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament." Rev. 11:19. The prophet heard voices saying, "The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged." Verse 18.
Again we must quote Daniel's description of the opening of this ministry in the most holy place of the heavenly temple. He saw thrones of judgment set up. He saw the moving throne of the Almighty, with its wheels of naming glory, take its position for the final work of our High Priest in the holy of holies above:
"I beheld till the thrones were cast down [placed], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." Dan. 7:9, 10.
This was the scene enacted in the heavenly temple when the year 1844 brought the judgment hour. Then began in heaven the work of the investigative judgment, or the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, during which the case of every individual will come in review before God.
When that work of investigation is finished, the ministry of Christ for sin will end, human probation will close, and our Lord will quickly come as King of kings and Lord of lords, to gather His redeemed, while all sinners will be destroyed by "the brightness of His coming." 2 Thess. 2:8.
In the vision of Daniel 8, as the great apostasy was seen warring against God's truth, the question was asked, "How long shall be the vision,... to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot?" The answer was, in effect, In 1844 the cleansing of the sanctuary will begin in heaven,—the hour of God's judgment, that will give God's answer to sin and apostasy.
We are living in the great antitypical day of atonement, for which all heaven has been waiting. The end is at hand. And while that work is proceeding in heaven above, the Lord proclaims a special message on earth, lifting up again truths long trodden underfoot, and calling men to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
How Shall We Stand?
"For the hour of His judgment is come."
"The judgment is set, the books have been opened;
How shall we stand in that great day
When every thought, and word, and action,
God, the righteous Judge, shall weigh?
"The work is begun with those who are sleeping,
Soon will the living here be tried,
Out of the books of God's remembrance,
His decision to abide.
"O, how shall we stand that moment of searching,
When all our sins those books reveal?
When from that court, each case decided,
Shall be granted no appeal?"