Daniel’s 490 Years and the Coming of King Messiah
By John McTernan
Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
Daniel 9:25 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.”
Daniel 9:26 “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.”
Daniel 9:27 “And 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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Because Israel failed to repent of the sin which caused the captivity, the law called for an additional 490 years of punishment. This prophecy involved exactly 490 years or the period of time that Israel should have been punished. This 490 period can be looked at as probationary time.
The people were allowed back in the land and Israel was again formed; however, the people did receive punishment as the kingdom was taken away. Additionally, for approximately 2500 years, from 586 BC until 1948, the nation was under the authority of a foreign power. Israel never again had a king from the messianic line of David to sit and rule.
In Daniel 9:24, the time frame for the prophecy was set for 70 weeks. The Hebrew word for week, shabuwa, literally means seven. The context determines whether it means weeks of a month or it could mean seven of years. The context of Daniel 9 determines it meant seven of years or 70×7 (weeks of years) which would equal 490 years.
The 490 years also perfectly matches the period of time for the additional punishment under the law of Moses. The idea that this Hebrew word for week could mean seven years can be seen when Jacob was taking a wife. He was tricked into marrying Leah, but he actually wanted to marry Rachel her sister. He was then told he would have to work one week (shabuwa) for Rachel which actually was seven years. Jacob agreed to work for the seven years, and he was given Rachel to marry.
The Scriptures to show this follow:
Genesis 29:26-28 – “And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.”
The underlying factor of this prophecy is that Israel was given 490 years to deal with the sin of the nation and prepare for the coming of King Messiah. The prophecy would start with the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Messiah, the prince, would come exactly 483 years (69 weeks) after the command was given.
Then the Messiah would be cut off or killed for others. After the 69 weeks, King Messiah would be killed, and Jerusalem and the temple would once again be destroyed and made desolate. There would be wars and desolations of Jerusalem for an unspecified period of time and then the end would come. This prophecy allows for the exact time for the first coming of King Messiah to be determined.
Daniel separated the 70th week, the last seven years, from the previous 69 weeks. The 70th week was specially separated from all the other years. This prophecy gives conclusive proof that only Jesus of Nazareth can be Israel ’s King Messiah, the Savior of mankind.
The Problem of Sin
Daniel 9:24 – “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
The prophecy starts with the problem of sin. Man’s sin has to be addressed before King Messiah can rule over His world-wide kingdom. All of man’s rebellion was touched in this verse which includes transgressions, sins and iniquities. The people would have to come face to face with their rebellion against God and be cleansed of these transgressions, sins and iniquities. God made it clear that sin would not be tolerated under King Messiah’s rule.
Ezekiel chapters 40-48 covers the period when King Messiah reigns from His temple in Jerusalem . God makes it very clear that during this period of time He will not tolerate the sin that was done during the kings of Judah . The end of this sin was a prerequisite for the Messiah to rule from Jerusalem . Sin has to be dealt with before King Messiah can rule over the nations:
Ezekiel 43:7 “And he (The LORD) said unto me (Ezekiel), Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. (9) Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.”
The law clearly shows Israel how to be clean before the LORD. On the Day of Atonement after all the rituals were completed, Israel would be clean before the holy God of Israel. To deal with the transgression, sin and iniquity, the law specifies that first the offenders must repent of the sin and then realize that the death and atoning blood of an innocent animal was needed to pay the penalty for these sins.
The people first must repent or as the Bible states, “ye shall afflict your souls” over their iniquities, transgressions and sins. Without the affliction of the soul, the rituals would have no meaning. It would take repentance of sin and the death of an animal with the atoning blood to pay the price for sin. In doing this before the holy God of Israel, the people were made clean.
Leviticus 16:31 “It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.”
Leviticus 16:30 “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.”
Next, the high priest performed one sacrifice that was in two phases. Two goats were used in this sacrifice. The first was killed, and its blood was brought into the holy place of the temple and sprinkled on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. The Bible states the presence of the holy God of Israel hovered just over the Ark.
Exodus 25:22 “And there I (God) will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
The blood was brought before the very presence of God. This was to make an atonement for the sin of the people that affected God’s temple. This ritual showed clearly that people could not pay the penalty for their iniquity, transgression and sin which was death. God provided His way of reconciliation for the people’s sin, as an animal died in their place.
Leviticus 16:15 “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, … and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: (16) And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.”
In the second part of this process, the high priest laid his hands on the remaining goat and confessed over the goat all the iniquities, transgressions and sins of the people. The goat was then taken out from the temple into the desert to die. This goat also atoned for all the sin of the people. God’s way to deal with sin was clear. First, the person was to afflict their soul and then believe an innocent animal died in their place for the sin. The death and shed blood brought atonement from the sin.
Leviticus 16:21-22 – “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”
God gave Israel 490 years to prepare for the coming of King Messiah by applying the law of Moses’ method of dealing with sin. Their heart was to be repentant before God, and they were to see the need that they could not atone for their own sin. They needed an atoning death and shed blood to pay the price for their sin. This would prepare the people for the ministry of King Messiah to reconcile the people with the holy God of Israel.
To Bring in Everlasting Righteousness
This prophecy directly connected the problem of sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness. There is only one source of everlasting righteousness, and that is King Messiah. The Lord Jesus was God’s righteousness. The Messiah and His kingdom will be the source of everlasting righteousness. He will reign forever in righteousness.
Jeremiah 23:5 – “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. (6) In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
When the Messiah rules over the nations from Jerusalem , the city will reflect His righteousness. King Messiah is called the righteous Branch of David, and Jerusalem will show this by being referred to as, “The LORD our righteousness.” Because the Messiah is located in Jerusalem , the city will mirror His righteousness.
Jeremiah 33:15 – “In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. (16) In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.”
Everything about King Messiah is righteous. When He is reigning as King, He will actually be called the LORD our righteousness. When He is reigning on Mount Zion in Jerusalem , the city will be called, “The LORD our righteousness.” He will judge the nations in righteousness. The Lord Jesus is the righteousness of God.
Isaiah 11:4 – “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
Isaiah 42:6 – “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;”
1 Corinthians 1:30 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”
When the prophecy of Daniel chapter nine mentioned bringing in everlasting righteousness, it was speaking of receiving the Messiah and His kingdom. He alone is righteous and is to be received by the people. The entrance of everlasting righteousness connects directly with the people facing their sin because the problem of man’s sin must be addressed before King Messiah can reign over the nations in righteousness.
Unto Messiah the Prince
Daniel 9:25 “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.”
The Bible gives the exact time reference when the people will be required to bring in the everlasting righteousness. The everlasting righteousness is of course King Messiah or as He is addressed, “Messiah the Prince.”
The time for the revealing of the Messiah will be 69 weeks or 483 years from the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The key to this prophecy is the command to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem . The prophecy starts with the rebuilding of the city including the street and walls. The time clock or countdown to King Messiah starts with this command. This Scripture is very clear that it is not the command to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem , but the city itself commences the countdown.
The focus of Daniel’s prayer had been the desolation of Jerusalem and that God would end the judgment and restore the people to the land and Jerusalem . Daniel’s prayer actually made reference to the “desolation of Jerusalem.” The 70 years were in reference to destruction of Jerusalem.
God honored Daniel’s prayer and used Jerusalem as the catalyst for identifying the exact time King Messiah would be revealed to Israel. Jerusalem plays a critical part in determining the timing of Messiah’s coming. Remember, it is not the rebuilding of the temple which is critical, but the actual decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem which is the key to this time frame.
The 69 weeks, or 483 years, were broken in two segments. The first is seven weeks or 49 years while the second is 62 weeks or 434 years. There is a very important reason that God divided the 483 years for the coming of the Messiah into two sections. The first section is divided into 49 years to get the people ready for the coming of King Messiah. The end of every 49 years was a Jubilee year. The seventh Sabbath rest (7×7=49 years) of the land was a Jubilee year. Thus the 50th year was a special Sabbath rest of the land.
Leviticus 25:8 “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine  years . (11) A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.”
It is important to realize that God uses cycles of seven years or weeks of years in dealing with Israel and counting time. The Seventy weeks or 490 year prophecy of Daniel that began with the decree to restore and build Jerusalem is a continuation of seven-year cycles that included the Sabbath rest of the land. God did not end these Sabbath cycles when Israel returned to the land. However, He made it clear they would continue until the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecy.