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Was He The Messiah?

His Claims

The High Priest asked Him,…‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed ?’And Jesus said, ‘I am; and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’ Mark 14:61-62

The Claims of Others

He [Andrew] first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). John 1:41 NKJV

The Old Testament Messianic Prophecies

According to the authorities, there are more than 300 references to the Messiah in the Old Testament, and these were written over a 1500-year period. Some sceptics object to the use of these prophecies as support for Christ’s Messiahship, claiming that they were written at or after the time of Jesus. Here something important must be borne in mind. Conservative scholars estimate that the last Old Testament book was written around 450 B.C. But those claiming a later date cannot possibly push that date closer than about 250 B.C. – the reason for this being the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was completed during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C). This is an historical fact and it places a span of at least 250 years between the Old Testament predictions and their fulfilment in Christ.

In his interesting book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell lists 60 Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament. It would be impossible to discuss all sixty in depth during this brief synopsis, but we can single out a few for closer examination:

1. The Virgin Birth

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name lmmanuel. Isaiah 7:14

And Joseph… kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son: and he called His name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18, 24-25 NASB

2. Bethlehem

But thou Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2

…Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea… Matthew 2:1

3. Ministry of Miracles

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped… Isaiah 35:5-6

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages

…healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Matthew 9:35

4. Into Jerusalem On a Donkey

…Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey … Zechariah 9:9 NASB

And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it ….

Luke 19:35 NASB

It is estimated that 29 of the prophecies concerning the Messiah were written by a variety of different men over at least five centuries ‑ and fulfilled in one 24‑hour period of his life.

5. Betrayed By a Friend

Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

Psalm 41:9 NASB

… Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

Matthew 10:4 NASB

6. 30 Pieces of Silver AND 7. Potter’s Field

So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

Zechariah 11:13 NASB

And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and they with the money bought

the Potter’s Field. Matthew 27:5-7 NASB

8. Attitude Under Accusation

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not

open his mouth; Isaiah 53:7 NASB

And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer.

Matthew 27:12 NASB

9. He Was Physically Abused

But He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities and by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NASB

Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified. Matthew 27:26 NASB

10. Hands and Feet Pierced

…They pierced my hands and my feet.

Psalm 22:16 NASB

they crucified Him… Luke 23:33 NASB

11. Crucified With Thieves

…He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors,… Isaiah 53:12 NASB

At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one

on the right and one on the left. Matthew 27:38 NASB

12. Garments Parted and Lots Cast

They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:18 NASB

The soldiers … took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier, and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. They said ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be … ’ John 19:23-24 NASB

13. Offered Vinegar

They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21 NASB

…they gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

Matthew 27:34 NASB

14. No Bones Broken

He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Psalm 34:20 NASB

… but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.

John 19:33 NASB

15. Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb

And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death. Isaiah 53:9

… there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph… And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb Matthew 27:57-60 NASB

Some have suggested that these prophecies were accidentally or coincidentally fulfilled by Jesus. According to the science of prob- ability, the chance of any one human being up until the present fulfill- ing a selection of just eight of these prophecies (including the one on crucifixion) is one in a hundred thousand million million.

The Seventy Week Prophecy

Of the many prophecies concerning the Messiah, there is one prophecy that puts the issue beyond doubt, and that is the prophecy in Daniel 8 and 9 that predicts the time of the anointing of the Messiah.

The seventy week prophecy of Daniel 9 is the most astounding messianic prophecy in Scripture. So accurately does it predict the time of and the events surrounding the coming of the Messiah, that Jewish scholars have, over the centuries, attempted to limit its relevance, and have even ventured to place a curse on any individual who should at- tempt to number the days of the prophecy. The seventy week prophecy was given to Daniel as an explanation and expansion of the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8, and the two prophecies are thus linked to each other. For the purpose of this discussion, we will limit ourselves to the messianic time prophecy and not consider the whole of the prophecy of Daniel 8. Briefly, Daniel 8 deals with the suppression by earthly powers of God’s people and truth pertaining to salvation. The sanctu- ary mentioned in this prophecy is a reference to the earthly sanctuary and the services conducted therein, which in turn served as a model to illustrate the plan of salvation. The cleansing of the sanctuary formed part of the annual services of the Israelites and finds a greater applica- tion in the final cleansing of the record of sin (see An Advocate for Our Time). Let us consider the time prophecies of the seventy week period and sanctuary.

For two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:14 NKJV

Here we have a specific time prophecy, and it is thus essential that we understand the principles pertaining to the unravelling of pro- phetic time. As with all prophecy, the soundest principle would be to allow Scripture to be its own expositor.

Prophecies are couched in symbolic language, and the sym- bols used need to be unravelled before the meaning of the words can be understood. Prophetic time is also used as a symbol, which needs to be interpreted in the light of Scripture. The key is to be found in two texts:

According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, even forty days, for each day for a year even forty years… Numbers 14:34

…I have appointed thee each day for a year.

Ezekiel 4:6

The day-year principle has been applied by scholars throughout the ages. Medieval Catholic scholars paralleled the Jewish Year-Day reckoning. In 1190, Joachim of Floris, Calabria, Italy applied the year-day principle to prophetic time. In the thirteenth century, Joachimite schol- ars in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany similarly applied the year-day principle to the 2300 days. In 1440, the Roman Catholic theologian, Nicholas Crebs of Cusa, said the following about the 2300 days:

resolving a day into a year according to the unfolding made to Ezekiel.3

The soundness of the day-year principle as an exegetic tool is best demonstrated in its application. Whenever it is applied, the meaning of the prophecies falls into place, and apparent anomalies are resolved. This will become clearer as we delve deeper into prophecy in the fol- lowing chapters.

Applying the principle to the 70-week prophecy will show that only Jesus of Nazareth could be the long-awaited Messiah.

The Prophecy Unravelled

Daniel did not understand the vision pertaining to the 2300 days.

I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up and did the King’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it. Daniel 8: 27

After studying the words of Jeremiah the prophet, Daniel was given insight into the vision:

Whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning being caused to fly swiftly, touched me and he informed me I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding

for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

Daniel 9:21-23

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people…

Daniel 9:24

Thy people were God’s chosen people Israel of old. Seventy weeks resolved into days would be 70 weeks x 7 = 490 days. Applying the day-year prin- ciple, 490 days become 490 years. The word determined means allotted, decreed, or cut off. The Latin Vulgate uses the word abbreviore, – to cut short. Hence the “70 weeks of years” (as it reads in RSV) or 490 years were to be cut off from a longer time period i.e. the 2300 day-years. John Tillinghast, who died in 1655, was the first to assert the 70 weeks of years were to be a lesser epoch within the larger period of the 2300 years.

Four hundred ninety years were appointed the Jewish nation to:

1. finish the transgression
2. make an end of sins
3. make reconciliation for iniquity
4. bring in everlasting righteousness
5. seal up vision and prophecy
6. anoint the Most Holy. Daniel 9:24 NKJV

These six issues are messianic issues, which could only be fulfilled in and through the Messiah. Who else could make reconciliation for iniquity or bring in everlasting righteousness?

Johan P. Petri, who died in 1792 and was a reformed pastor of Seckbach, Germany, began the 70 weeks and 2300 days synchronously. A look at the following diagram shows the 70 weeks cut off from the 2300 days.

The Beginning of the 70 Weeks and 2300 Days

After the angel states the 70 weeks, he gives a breakdown of the 70 weeks as follows:

a) 7 weeks of years for rebuilding of Jerusalem (verse 25)

b) 62 weeks of years to the Messiah (verses 25, 26)

c) 1 week of years to the close of the period (verse 27)

Total 70 “weeks determined upon thy people.”

These are the entire 70 weeks of the prophecy. But when did they begin? Daniel gives the answer very clearly:

Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks. Daniel 9:25

“From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” is when the prophecy of the 2300 days begins.

The final commandment effecting the restoration of Jerusalem went forth under King Artaxerxes Longimanus in the year 457 B.C.4 Excerpts from Ezra chapter 7 clarify the point. The king declared:

I make a decree that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. Ezra 7:7, 12, 13

With the commencement date 457 B.C. before us, it is possible to de- termine the succeeding dates and events. Seven weeks were allotted for the restoration of Jerusalem.

7 weeks x 7 days per week = 49 days or years

True to the prophecy, Jerusalem was rebuilt 49 years after 457 B.C. which was 408 B.C.

“Unto Messiah the Prince”

Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks. Daniel 9:25

Seven weeks (49 days) for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and another three score and two weeks (62 weeks or 434 days) brings us to Messiah the Prince. Beginning in 457 B.C., and applying the day for a year principle, we must determine the date after the passing of 483 years (49 + 434), which would bring us to 27 A.D., allowing for the conversion from

B.C. to A.D. being one extra year. This year is the most historic year in Christendom, and Luke in Luke 3:1-3 clearly pinpoints the events of that year. These verses refer to the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (which is known to be 27 A.D.) in which the following persons held office: Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas, and Caiaphas, and at which time John the Baptist was baptizing. Figure 1.2 portrays the calculations:

The 69 weeks (483 years) bring us “unto Messiah the Prince”. According to John 1:41, Messiah means “the Christ” and this in turn means the “Anointed One”. According to the Scriptures, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit on the occasion of His baptism.

…it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened. Luke 3:21-23

The baptism of Christ for His ministry marked the event in the prophecy “unto Messiah the Prince”. When Christ proclaimed, The time is fulfilled” (Mark 1:15), He referred to this part of the prophecy.5

How incredibly accurate! Precisely on time, Jesus is anointed and begins His ministry:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Luke 4:17

The Last Prophetic Seventieth Week

If 27 A.D. marks the end of the 69 weeks, then 34 A.D. would mark the end of the 70 weeks allotted to Israel. When we resolve the weeks into years, we arrive at the same date. For instance, 483 years ended in 27 A.D., so likewise 490 years would end seven years later, namely 34 A.D. (See Figure 1.2).

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week, He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease… Daniel 9:27

The personal pronoun “He” refers to the Messiah already mentioned in Daniel 9:25-26. He, that is the Messiah, the Christ, will confirm the covenant made with Israel for one prophetic week, being 7 years. (1 week = 7 days or years) But the verse says, in addition, that oblation (offering) is to cease.

The middle of the prophetic seven years would be 3½ years after 27 A.D. when Christ was baptized as already seen. This would bring us to 31 A.D. We have to look for an epochal event in 31 A.D. All Christendom recognizes 31 A.D. as the year when Christ was crucified. (See Figure 1.3 next page)

Some modern prophetic interpretations confuse the issue per- taining to the 70th week, and even destroy the unity of the 70-week prophecy, by transporting this week into the future, and applying its content to the antichrist, who (according to this interpretation), would arrive at the end of the Christian dispensation some time in the future. Daniel 9:26-27 has a chiastic structure, and if this is taken into account, then the apparent confusion pertaining to its literary style is eliminated.

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself….

This portion of verse 26 sets the stage for the events pertaining to the seventieth week. After the 62 weeks (7 + 62 = 69th week), thus after the 69th week or in the seventieth week the Messiah would be cut off or put to death, but not for Himself (for us).

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, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war, desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week, He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Daniel 9:26-27

The chiasm is as follows:

a. Messiah destroyed
b. sanctuary destroyed
b1. sacrifice terminated
a1. ruler destroyed

Verse 27 has an additional chiasm: “He…week…. week. He”, again

emphasizing the role of the Messiah. In summary, it can thus be said that the destruction of the Messiah will bring an end to the sacrificial system (reaching its fulfilment in Him). He (the Messiah), would also confirm His covenant with God’s people by His sacrificial death in the middle of the week (3½ years after A.D. 27), the precise time of Christ’s death.

The verses also bring out the conflict between Christ and Satan who by means of his agents will combat Christianity till the end of time. The promise is, however, that the final victory belongs to Christ, and that the desolator will receive his due punishment at the end of time.

He shall cause the sacrifice to cease.

By Christ’s death on the cross He caused, or brought about, the cessa- tion of the sacrificial system which pointed forward to Him. Paul states this more clearly,

…For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.

1 Corinthians 5:7

Since the Passover pointed to Christ, it was now fulfilled in His death. Paul says in fact, the whole system of sacrifices was blotted out:

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. Colossians 2:14

When the loud cry, “It is finished,” came from the lips of Christ, the priests were officiating in the temple. It was the hour of the evening sacrifice, and as the Passover lamb representing Christ was about to be slain,

…the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake and the rocks rent. Matthew 27:51

The sacrificial system had ended with the crucifixion of Christ.

The curtain separating the two apartments of the temple was torn in

two from top to bottom, indicating divine action. The sacrifices were finished; Christ had caused the sacrifice to cease.

A host of reformers including John Wycliffe, Martin Luther and even the scientist Isaac Newton connect the seventieth week with the Messiah. The balance of the 7-year period ended in 34 A.D. with the stoning of Stephen (See Acts 7:59 – 8:4). This date, 34 A.D., marked the end of the 70 weeks, or 490 years apportioned to Israel,

…to finish the transgression to make reconciliation

for iniquity. Daniel 9:24

From then, the gospel was to go to the Gentiles (or the world) by individual ambassadors from every nation; and Paul, the very one who consented to the stoning of Stephen, became the apostle to the Gentile world. Israel ceased to be the depository of God’s truth. Going back to our opening verse, Daniel 8:14, “Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” we note the close of the 2300-year period from 457 B.C. would be 1844 A.D. (See figure 1.4) The cleansing of the sanctuary will be dealt with in the chapter A Stone to Rest Your Head.

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