Monday Morning Prophecy #7 – The Timing of the Messiah’s Birth

Wayne —  June 1, 2009 — 2 Comments

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This morning’s Monday Morning Prophecy is a little bit different.  Last week, we looked at the prophecy that the Messiah would be called from the womb. This morning we will look at a couple of Old Testament passages which generally indicate the timing of the coming of the Messiah.  While neither verse indicates that exact date the Messiah would come, they both provide some general framework for the approximate timing.  Let’s have a look at the first verse from Malachi 3:1:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.  [Malachi 3:1]

This verse indicates that the Messiah would visit the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem.  That temple was destroyed by the Roman General Titus in 70 A.D.  Accordingly, this verse indicates that the Messiah had to be born before the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. or he would not have been able to visit the temple before it’s destruction.  Furthermore, John 2 (amongst other passages) tells us that Jesus did indeed visit his temple:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”  [John 2:13-18]

The second prophecy is one of the more famous prophecies in the entire Bible.  Its specificity is amazing.  Many scholars believe that it prophecies the timing of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (recounted in Matthew 12, Mark 11, Luke 19 and John 12) perhaps to the very day!  We will deal with that aspect of the prophecy when we get to that event in Jesus’ ministry.  Whether or not the prophecy provides the exact day of the triumphal entry, it certainly gives us some idea regarding the timing of the coming Messiah’s birth.  Let’s have a look at the Old Testament prophecy from Daniel 9:

“He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision. “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.”  [Daniel 9:22-26]

We will look further at this prophecy in a future Monday Morning Prophecy, but in terms of the timing of the Messiah’s birth, you must understand that that “weeks” referred to in the prophecy are actually groupings (“weeks”) of seven years.  So, the first 7 weeks equates to 49 years (7 weeks times 7 years each).  The following 69 weeks equates to 483 years (69 weeks time 7 years each).   So, this prophecy tells us that “from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem,” the Messiah would come in 483 years.  The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes, King of Persia in 457 B.C.  So, Daniel’s prophecy indicates the coming of the Messiah would be 483 years later, or 27 A.D..  Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry which lasted 3 years.  The date predicted by this prophecy 27 A.D. minus 30 years equates to 4 B.C. as the time of Jesus’ birth.  There are other dates and theories related to this prophecy sometimes using a different date for the decree to rebuild Jerusalem or pointing to the triumphal entry rather than the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  There is also debate over the exact year of Jesus’ birth.  Regardless of the interpretation, all dates point to the right around the time of Jesus’ birth for the coming of the Messiah.  We will not know the exact interpretation of this prophecy until we get to heaven, but even in its ambiguity it clearly points to the time of Jesus as the time the Messiah would be made known.  Amazing!

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Image courtesy of Abby Reed
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