When we think of Christmas, we don't usually think about fulfilled prophecy - but that's precisely what we're celebrating this time of the year! The greatest miracle in the history of mankind was not when man stepped off of earth and walked on the moon; it was when God stepped out of Heaven to walk on this earth! Jesus is Emmanuel - "God with us."
In my last post, I talked about the different Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament. If you missed it, you can click here. But today, I'm going to share what is my favorite prophecy that Jesus fulfilled. It still blows my mind! That's why I call this prophecy, "God's drop the mic" moment! It simply couldn't have been stated any plainer or made any more precise.
Some scholars have suggested that this prophecy is the single greatest defense to the divine inspiration of Scripture because it states precisely when the Messiah would come to earth. Sir Isaac Newton said that we can stake the entire truth of Christianity on this one prophecy alone.
It's kinda deep, so let me walk you through it step-by-step. Put your "thinking cap" on and grab your calculators and watch how this divine narrative unfolds right before your eyes.
It takes place in Daniel chapter 9 - five centuries before Christ. In a vision that Gabriel gives to Daniel, the Bible says, "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city..." (Daniel 9:24). Let's stop right there and explain something. When the Bible talks about "seventy weeks" it's actually referring to what some translations call "seventy sevens." The Jewish people commonly referred to "weeks of years" meaning a group of seven years. In the same way that we refer to a group of ten years as a "decade;" the Jewish people would refer to a group of seven years as a "week of years." Seven is "God's perfect number" so the Israelites would often count by 7's to refer to both time and amount. Got it? Okay... let's keep moving...
"Seventy weeks are determined...to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy..." (Daniel 9:24). That's exactly the purpose of why God came to this earth through the person of Jesus - to fulfill those things!
Now we get to Daniel 9:25, which is one of the most amazing verses in the entire Bible: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times."
Let's break it down...
It says that "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem" -- this one event sets God's divine stopwatch in motion! We know exactly what date this is because the Book of Nehemiah tells us. It happened "During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes" (Neh. 2:1) when the King granted Nehemiah and the people permission to go back and restore and rebuild Jerusalem. That's March 14th, 445 BC on our calendar. So we have the exact date that the first part of this prophecy was fulfilled. Between that command and the coming of the Messiah - there are two timespans given that give us additional and precise markers on the calendar of history: "seven weeks and sixty-two weeks."
We know that it took "seven weeks" or 49 years (7 x 7) to not just rebuild the wall but to get the city up and running to where it was fully operational. The word for "street" in Daniel's prophecy literally means "public square." It represented the fact that the marketplace was fully operational. So it took 49 years to fully rebuild the city.
Now we're left with "sixty-two weeks" of years -- that's another 434 years. Now understand that Jewish and Babylonian calendars had a 360 day year which would make this a total of 173,880. So it's exactly 173,880 days until "Messiah the Prince." In Hebrew it's actually Meshiach Nagid or "The Messiah the King." (Nagid is first used of King Saul).
During the life and ministry of Jesus, there were several occasions in which the people attempted to promote Him as their Kingly Messiah - but he carefully stated, "my hour has not yet come."
Then one day he rides into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey (fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9). The people began laying down palm branches before Him and crying out with a loud voice saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!" (Luke 19:28-38). This first Palm Sunday occurred on April 6th of 32, A.D. This was the one and only occassion when Jesus presented Himself as King.
So when we examine the period between March 14th, 445 BC and April 6, 32 AD (using the Jewish calendar and correcting for leap years), we discover that it is 173,880 days EXACTLY...to the very day! It happened precisely as the prophecy said. Not a day before. Not a day after. The exact day!
But wait... there's more. The prophecy also states that after this date the "Messiah would be cut off" (a Jewish euphemism for execution) which happened that very same week as Jesus was crucified. It also states how the city of Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed. This too took place 38 years later when Roman legions under Titus Vespasian "came in like a flood" and leveled the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 - precisely as the Bible had predicted!
As we celebrate Jesus' birth this weekend, share with your family and friends the true miracle of the incarnation! Christmas is the most incredible demonstration of just who Jesus really is! And this specific prophecy is truly God's "drop the mic" moment in human history!