Daniel 9:25… “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”
In this passage the angel Gabriel is speaking to Daniel in the year 539 BC. God, through Gabriel, foretold the very day that Mark 1:1-6 speaks of, namely, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
His first order of business has to do with a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This is important because at the time of this prophecy Jerusalem and its Temple were in ruins. A decree would need to go out to restore and rebuild it. Such a decree was later made by the Persian king Artaxerxes on March 5, 444 BC. He sent Nehemiah to do so (Neh. 2:1-8). The Temple of God had already been restored by this time, completed in 516 BC under a man named Zerubbabel (Ezra 6:14-15). All that was needed for the Jews now, after coming home from their captivity due to their disobedience to God, was for their city to be restored. They now had that decree.
Notice that from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince there is a specific time frame given. This means that once the decree went out in 444 BC the countdown to the Messiah would begin. The passage says that there would be “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” These “weeks” in Hebrew are literally “sevens,” and from the context of the prophecy these “sevens” refer to weeks of years not weeks of days. So, seven-sevens equates to 49 years, and sixty-two sevens equates to 434 years – a total of 483 years. Translation: there would be 483 years from 444 BC, when decree went out to restore Jerusalem, to the time of Christ. This prophecy is important because it reveals that Jesus Christ is that promised Messiah.
History has proven Daniel to be a true prophet because his words were fulfilled. First of all Jerusalem was rebuilt with “plaza and moat” meaning that it was fully restored both inside and outside (“plaza” refers the inside of the city; “moat” refers to its defense system). The year it occurred was 395 BC – oddly enough fulfilling the first “seven weeks” (49 years after 444 BC) spoken of in the passage. As for “Messiah the Prince,” he came after the 62 weeks following the 7 weeks – a total of 483 years later! What makes it complicated is the fact that the Jewish year was only 360 days instead of our Julian calendar of 365 days. This problem is solved when the years are converted to days and counted down from the year 444 BC. The total number of days is 173,880 (483 x 360), and when they are counted down from 444 BC the date they come to is Sunday March 30, AD 33 (Palm Sunday)! This is the very day Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as Mark 11:1-11 says – five days before he was put to death by crucifixion.
Food for thought
While your head is spinning from all the numbers above consider one more thing. How much evidence is required for the world to understand that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, the second member of the Trinity, the Savior of the world – the Messiah, the Prince? Daniel’s prophecy leaves no doubt whatsoever that Jesus Christ is who he said he is in the Scriptures. The fact that Christ’s coming was told to Daniel in 539 BC right down to the specific day – and that he fulfilled it – is more than enough proof that Jesus is who he said he is. What an awesome prophecy to say the least! And what great proof it is to those who continually demand proof.
Jesus said, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:15). Children believe what they’re told because they’re not skeptical, and they’re easily molded. The prophecy of Daniel, however, proves that Jesus is in fact the Messiah, and telling children this isn’t brainwashing them – it’s Truth! And you can’t brainwash with the truth.
Mark 11:1-6… Now as they approached Jerusalem, near Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here soon.’” 4 So they went and found a colt tied at a door, outside in the street, and untied it. 5 Some people standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They replied as Jesus had told them, and the bystanders let them go.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he first came to Bethphage and Bethany one mile from the city. And he stopped to fulfill the OT Scriptures. Everything Jesus has done up to this point during his 3 ½ year ministry had led up to this day – the day Daniel 9:25 speaks of when the Messiah will be “cut off.” He approaches Jerusalem and goes to the Mount of Olives, an elevated hill right next to the city. As he looked out over the city he sent two disciples to a nearby village to fetch a colt that has never been ridden by which he will enter the city. Jesus instructed the two as to what they would find and what they should say to anyone who asked what they were doing.
In v. 4 the two disciples did as Jesus told them, and when they found the colt and untied it v. 5 says that they were indeed questioned as to what they were doing. But after responding the way Jesus told them to the colt was released to them. The owner was likely a follower of Jesus who was honored to help. Matthew 21:2 says that Jesus wanted a donkey and her colt – both of which were brought to him. The colt was what Jesus wanted, but it would not have cooperated without the presence of the mother donkey. Jesus in his omniscience knew just where these animals would be. For the owner to release these animals – even his colt having never been mounted – was a sign of respect and admiration toward Jesus whom he obviously knew.
Now there are significant reasons why these mundane details about a colt are written. First, they fulfill the Gen. 49:11 prophecy: “He will tender his donkey to the vine” (signifying great wealth, fertility, joy, & peace). Second, they fulfill the 500 year old prophecy of Zech. 9:9: “Rejoice greatly… your king is coming to you… victorious, humble and riding on a colt, the foal of a female donkey.” If Daniel’s prophecy wasn’t clear enough about the exact day the Messiah would stroll into town, Zechariah’s would solidify it with the King coming in on a colt – a young donkey. This was the same animal that King David had his son Solomon ride through town on when he became king (1 Kings 1:33). Though it was a lowly beast of burden in Jesus’ day, it signified that a king was coming into his kingdom, and this was Jesus’ way of not only fulfilling the prophecies about his coming but also that he was the king of the Jews. This action by Jesus would leave no doubt as to who he was. It did, however, leave questions as to what his plan was. For he didn’t set up his earthly kingdom then. That would await his second coming.
Food for Thought
Most of us like attention, and we want to be held in high esteem through the car we drive, our homes, education, etc. But the only attention worth seeking is God’s, and He has decreed that the greatest among us are servants – those who humble themselves. Look at the way Jesus came into the world. Though the King eternal, he came as a humble servant to die by crucifixion a the hands of the very people who killed him. If Jesus dubbed this as true greatness we too should put it to work. So put yourself and your cares aside today and reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for you. As the old hymn goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
Mark 11:7-11… Then they brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 Many spread their cloaks on the road and others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Both those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” 11 Then Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. And after looking around at everything, he went out to Bethany with the twelve since it was already late.
After doing what Jesus told them to do in fetching the donkey and colt, just imagine what the disciples thought when they strolled into the small village and found everything as Jesus told them they would – the colt, the donkey, and the owners who would question them. They brought the animals to Jesus and laid garments on the back of the colt for Jesus to sit. This is no small detail because Jesus had walked everywhere else around Palestine up to this point, so why else would he demand a colt in which to come into town? The answer was of course to fulfill the Zechariah 9:9 prophecy. If Jesus didn’t come in on a colt he wouldn’t have been the Messiah.
Verse 8 shows the ancient custom of spreading garments on the road for a monarch to ride over, a sign of respect for authority. John’s account of this reveals that the branches were from palm trees – a symbol of deliverance and joy. This coincides with Revelation 7:9 where a great multitude of people are bowing down before Jesus with palm branches as they worship him. The multitudes in v. 8 go before him as he rides in, and they are shouting a song of praise saying, “Hosanna.” This is a Hebrew word meaning “save now.” They were shouting for the “son of David” to “save now!” Their cries were filled with joy as their expectation of salvation through their Messiah who was now at hand. “Salvation in the highest!” was their cry, for this crowd was convinced that Jesus was going to Jerusalem to sit on David’s throne and overthrow the Romans. This was the same crowd that had witnessed Bartimaeus receive his sight.
Jerusalem at that time was starting to fill with hundreds of thousands of people because the annual Passover Feast was only days away, and most Jews came for this week-long feast. As they entered Jerusalem the day was coming to an end, and Jesus merely went to the temple in v. 11, looked around, and went back to Bethany where his home base was following a long day of travel from Jericho almost 18 miles away. As the Lord of the Temple, it appears that Jesus was inspecting it to determine if its intended purpose was being fulfilled – the true worship of the Creator. This was a quiet ending to day, but it’s merely the calm before the storm. For the next day Jesus would come back and shake things up in there where worship had turned to corruption.
Food for thought
Jesus turned out to be a huge disappointment to the masses who hailed him as their Messiah. The very same people who praised him were the ones who later crucified him. Jesus simply didn’t fulfill their expectations. They wanted a Messiah who conquered the Romans. Like the Twelve, their view of the Messiah was one of earthly power. But Jesus’ first coming was not in power but in humility. This fell short of the crowd’s expectations, so they rejected him.
Even today people tend to accept Jesus but later reject him out of disappointment. This often occurs because we don’t present Jesus according to truth. He’s offered today as a “cure all” and rejected when all isn’t cured. We must not only maintain our relationship with Christ during the difficult times of life, we must also present Jesus to others for who he really is. People have always rejected the truth in light of their own ideas of what they think the Messiah ought to be. But we must trust in Jesus today for who He really is – the humble Savior of the world.