In Chapter Three we gave some rules to observe in studying a prophecy. We will now consider them with regard to the prophecies about the Seventy Weeks, to see if the pieces fit.

The first thing we said you should look at was the Literal Meaning of the prophecy. Did we try to make the Seventy Weeks prophecy say something that it was not saying? Or was our interpretation consistent with the literal meaning of the prophecy? Bear in mind that the literal meaning of a prophecy is almost always hidden, or made more obscure, through the use of terms which can have several different meanings. But hidden meanings aside, any theory must be consistent with at least one of the meanings.

As it happens, although the dates (with regard to the decree by Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, and the Messiah being cut off) are both objectively measurable, several other key words in the prophecy may have more than one possible meaning. In our interpretation, we discussed the two different possibilities with regard to the "prince that will come" (one being Christ, and the other being an evil leader whom we will eventually identify as the Antichrist), and we discussed the two different "covenants" (one for a Temple in Jerusalem, and the other for visible unity amongst all true believers). We suggested that there was truth in both of these interpretations, and both are at least partially consistent with the literal meaning.

We also commented on the term "cut off" and how it could have several meanings. It could mean that the Messiah would die, but it could also mean that the Messiah would be cut off from his people. Again we felt that both of these meanings could have been fulfilled at the same time.

The second test of a prophecy is whether or not it is consistent with Secular Events. Secular events can be helpful in determining which of several possible meanings is the correct one. As we now look back at history, Jesus of Nazareth was both killed and cut off from fellowship with his people, the Jews, in the year 30 A.D. If he was, in fact, the Messiah, these events bore out the authenticity of both of those interpretations.

The prophecy was also about Daniel's "people". The destruction of the sacred curtain in the Temple, at the time of Jesus' death, strongly supports the theory that his death signified the end of the Jews as "God's Chosen People".

Of course other people died in the same year Jesus was killed. So technically the prophecy could have been about someone besides Jesus of Nazareth. But whoever it was should have been killed, or in some way "cut off" in 30 A.D. Today, 2,000 years later, there can be no doubt that secular history has proven that this same Jesus has had the great influence that the Jews had hoped their Messiah would have. There was no one else alive around 30 A.D. who could possibly rival him as the person referred to in the prophecy.

With regard to the last seven years, which have not yet taken place (and which we have not yet studied in detail), it is a little harder to find evidence from secular events. However, anyone with intimate knowledge of Jewish ideology would know that events are taking place which could well lead to animal sacrifices resuming in Israel.

Israel as a nation longs desperately to rebuild its Temple. The fact that one of the most holy of all Muslim mosques (The Dome of the Rock) has been built on the sacred Jewish site where the Temple should be, poses a serious political dilemma. A number of years ago, a mentally disturbed Australian thought he could help God by blowing up the mosque; but he was apprehended and charged. In 1998, a conservative Jewish group made a public request for parents to donate their first-born male sons to them, to be trained and ritually prepared to act as priests if/when a new Temple is built. Over the years there have been a number of moves to re-establish animal sacrifices. One proposal for an ecumenical Temple involved three different temples in one: one for Muslims, one for Christians, and one for Jews, with all of them on the same sacred site. More bizarre plans call for tunnelling under the mosque and making a subterranean Temple directly beneath the Muslim mosque. One way or another, it appears to be only a matter of time before a Temple will be built and the old Temple covenant will be "confirmed".

The third thing to look for in understanding a prophecy is Spiritual Lessons. We have shown that everything about the Seventy Weeks prophecy seemed to be emphasising a contrast between political force and spiritual force, between national identity and individual faith, between worshipping buildings and worshipping the God in whose name the building was made, between serving earthly kings and kingdoms and serving a heavenly king and kingdom. It was because of their blindness to these lessons that people did not understand so many of the prophecies about Christ to begin with. And it is because people continue to miss the significance of these lessons that they continue to reject Christ today. The world is obsessed with political structures, whereas the Christian message is that there is no political structure in the world that can guarantee you spiritual peace or eternal salvation.

All of the lessons above are more or less parts of the same lesson, which is that God is looking for personal faith, and not organisational or national affiliation. As we study further prophecies, both in the book of Daniel and in The Revelation, we will see that this same general lesson comes up repeatedly.

Finally, a prophecy must be examined with regard to the Use of Code Words. We have already mentioned two terms (Prince, and Covenant) which were shown to have double meanings within this prophecy; but there are others.

Sometimes code words are used to hide the meaning of the prophecy. The Seventy Weeks prophecy started with a reference to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and it concluded with a reference to sacrifices in the Temple. For those who put their faith in the city and the building, these references may have given them some feeling of safety over the years, i.e. a belief that what really matters to God are things like the rebuilding of the holy city of Jerusalem and the resumption of ritual sacrifices in the Temple. Had they thought that the prophecy was actually threatening their Temple or their city, they might have removed it from their holy books long before it was fulfilled.

Code words often link one prophecy with other prophecies, so that they each reinforce the same truth. The words, "Jerusalem" and "Temple" are important concepts in prophecies that are found both in the Gospels and in The Revelation.

One of the saddest passages in the Bible comes from Matthew 23:37-38, where Jesus says: "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under wings, but you would not [let me]! Behold, your house is left to you desolate." He then said to his disciples, in reference to the Temple, "Do you see all these things? Truly I say to you, there shall not be left here one stone on another that shall not be thrown down!"

This statement, in Matthew 24:2, comes at the start of the longest continuous prophecy about the end of the world in all of the Gospels. Christ is saying that what lies ahead for the world as a whole, starts with desolation for Jerusalem and destruction for their beloved Temple.

The concept of a more spiritual Temple and a more spiritual Jerusalem was made more complete after the resurrection of Christ from the dead, when he sent his Holy Spirit to live inside of his followers. This experience enables believers to communicate directly with God, and to develop a direct link that does not depend on human institutions or mediators.

St. Paul says, "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit now?" (I Corinthians 6:19) Then in another place, he says, "Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Galatians 4:25-26)

In the Revelation, the concepts of a Temple in heaven (Revelation 11:1) and a city come down from heaven, called the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2), are also taught.
So the Seventy Weeks prophecy is saying much more than just that Jesus Christ was going to die in 30 A.D. It is one piece in a much bigger puzzle, and so far, in addition to being measurably accurate, it fits in neatly with the overall picture that God is trying to give us through Bible prophecy in general.

Appendix, Chapter 8

Matthew 23:37-24:3. "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You that kill the prophets and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord."  And Jesus went out and departed from the Temple. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the Temple, and Jesus said to them, "Don't you see all these things? Truly I say to you, there will not be left here one stone on another that will not be thrown down." And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?"

Revelation 11:1. "There was given me a reed like a rod, and the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the Temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein."

Revelation 11:18. "The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament. There were lightnings and voices and thunderings and an earthquake and great hail."

Revelation 21:2-3. "I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself shall be with them and be their God."

Revelation 21:10. "He carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God."

Revelation 21:14. "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

Revelation 21:22. 'I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it."

WARNING!

Faith in miracles and faith in prophecies won't save anyone. The only thing that will save you is faith in GOD.  So even though we have just shown you (in chapters 6-8) proof that the Bible accurately predicts the future, faith in God and a willingness to do what is right, should not depend on whether or not this prophecy is accurate, or even whether it exists.

Hopefully the prophecy will provide inspiration and encouragement to people who are finding it hard to have faith in today's world. But there is another prophecy that says the coming world leader will "think to change times", (Daniel 7:25) apparently as part of his "war on the saints".

The more that calendars change, the harder it will become to recognise the accuracy of the Seventy Weeks prophecy. And you can be pretty sure that the Antichrist will want to obliterate references to Christ's birth from the calendar when he comes to power. Watch for it!