THE CONNEXION BETWEEN THE SANCTUARY CYCLE AND THE "SEVENTY WEEKS,"
OR 490 YEARS, EXTENDING FROM THE PERSIAN RESTORATION ERA TO THE ERA OF
"MESSIAH THE PRINCE."
BEFORE passing from the consideration of this sanctuary cycle, we must indicate some links of connexion between it and the celebrated prophecy of seventy weeks, which have, we believe, never before been pointed out. They possess, however, the highest interest, both as confirming the view that chronological prophecy deals with eras rather than with years, and as showing that there is a fulness and an exactitude of chronological prediction in this prophecy of the "seventy weeks" which is not generally recognised, making its inspiration more evident than ever. The facts to which we are about to call attention confirm also, if confirmation be needed, the importance of the six dates which we have indicated as starting-points of the sanctuary cycle.
We mentioned above that two of the starting-points of the twenty-three centuries of the sanctuary cycle (#Da 8.) are the same as those of the seventy weeks (#Dan 9). The following diagram shows that the chronological correspondence between the two prophecies is more full and exact than this. The prophecy of the sanctuary cycle indicates, as we have seen, four other starting-points in addition to the decrees of Artaxerxes; and we have considered the various years of close as measured from all six.
If now we take all these six dates as starting-points for the seventy weeks to "Messiah the Prince," what do we find? That not only do the dates of the two decrees of Artaxerxes lead up, as is generally recognised, to the ministry and death of Christ, but that the analogy extends farther and is even more complete, affording a fresh proof that there is more in these sacred predictions than lies on the surface, more than is actually stated, and that they are adapted to history and to astronomy, in a way that is marvellous in its delicate complexity, and Divine in its absolute accuracy.
The prophecy of the seventy weeks was given at the close of the Babylonish captivity of seventy years. It announced that a week of such captivity periods, or seventy weeks of years, that is 490 years, would elapse to "Messiah the Prince." It foretold, besides, certain events which would follow the cutting off of Messiah, the fall of Jerusalem and the desolation of Judaea; but to these latter events it did not attach any chronological statement, it did not seem to intimate when they would take place, further than that they would follow the cutting off of Messiah.
Moreover, the prophecy did not indicate any date for the birth of Messiah, but only for that of His "cutting off," or death; that supreme event, which was to make reconciliation for iniquity and bring in everlasting righteousness, is distinctly assigned to the middle of the last week; and, as we have shown, [p. 54.] it actually occurred exactly 69« weeks of years, or 486« lunar years, from the Nehemiah date, B.C. 444.
The six different commencing dates to which we have been led by the study of the sanctuary cycle extend, it will be observed, over an interval of eighty-five years in the fifth century before Christ. Now the following diagram shows that the corresponding terminal period, after the lapse of seventy weeks, or 490 years, included, not only the death of "Messiah the Prince," doubly indicated both by lunar and solar measures, but also the date of His birth, [We have elsewhere demonstrated that the most probable date of the nativity is B.C.. 6, and not, as commonly supposed, B.C. 4. See "Approaching End of the Age," p. 519.] and that of the Jewish war which led to the siege of Jerusalem and the desolation of the land, and that of the close of the Messianic and apostolic era, and of the canon of Scripture.
B.C. B.C. Xerxes 480-1 490 lunar years (475 solar) 6 The nativity.
B.C. A.D. Ezra 457 (49 yrs) 490 solar years 34 The cross.
Nehemiah 444 490 lunar years (475 solar) 33 The cross
Artaxerxes 425 490 solar years. 66 The Jewish war.
End of 49 years, 408 490 lunar years. 68 Ezra . . .
End of 49 years, Nehemiah.. 395 490 solar years. 96 Patmos.
Hence this wonderful period of seventy weeks did actually measure, from the different termini a quo in the Persian restoration era, the interval-
1. To the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem;
2. To the very day when Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us;
3. To that terrible Roman war, which fulfilled the predictions of the judgment which should fall on the Jews in consequence of their rejection of Messiah. "The people of the prince that shall come "-that is, the Roman soldiery of Titus-" 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. . . . Even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." The Jewish war began in May, A.D. 66, and it terminated in A.D. 70, with the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple.
4. To the close of the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian, which was also the close of the Messianic era-the date of the last appearance of Christ in glory to one of His apostles, the date of the giving of the apocalyptic visions to the last of the apostles, and thus of the close of the New Testament and of the entire canon of Scripture.
That the year A.D. 95-6 is the true date of these events is capable of most satisfactory proof. Domitian reigned from AD. 81 to A.D. 96. It was in the year previous to his death that his severe persecution of the Christians took place, in the course of which he banished the Apostle John to Patmos. The fact is expressly asserted by almost contemporary testimony; for Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp, who was himself the disciple of John, writing shortly after this date, says that the visions of the Apocalypse "were seen no very long time ago, but almost in our age, towards the end of the reign of Domitian."
" The varied historical evidence which has been inquired into all concurs to confirm the date originally and expressly assigned by Irenaeus to the Apocalypse, as seen and written at the close of the reign of Domitian; that is, near the end of the year 95 or beginning of 96. Accordingly, the great majority of the most approved ecclesiastical historians and Biblical critics, alike Roman Catholic and Protestant, French, German, and English,-writers who have had no bias on the point in question, one way or the other, from any particular cherished theory of apocalyptic interpretation; for example, Dupin, Bossuet, Tillemont, Le Clere, Turretin, Spanheim, Basnage, Lamps, Mosheim, Mill, Whitby, Larduer, Mimer, Tomline, Burton, etc., etc.,-have alike adopted it; to whom I am happy to add the living names of the German ecclesiastical historian Gieseler, and of our own learned chronologist, Mr. Clinton. We may, I am persuaded, depend on its correctness with an unhesitating and implicit confidence as on the truth of almost any of the lesser facts recorded in history. And I must say it seems to me most surprising that respectable and learned commentators should have spent their time and labour in building up apocalyptic expositions that rest wholly and only on the sandy foundation of an earlier Neronic date."-Elliott: "Horæ Apocalyptica," vol. i., pp. 45, 46.
Thus, not only was the cutting off of Messiah the Prince separated hy 490 years to a day from the Nehemiah decree "to restore and to build Jerusalem," but the whole Messianic era-from the birth of Christ, B.C. 6, to His last appearance to John in Patmos in A.D. 95-was similarly separated from the whole Persian restoration era. The different years of crisis which form starting-points in this latter are answered by events of supreme importance in the Messianic era; and the close of the Old Testament history is separated by "seventy weeks" from the close of the New.
This hidden yet exact analogy is all the more interesting because the clue to it is found, not in the prophecy of the seventy weeks, but in that of the cleansing of the sanctuary.
Now when we remember that the former prediction was given in the first year of Darius, that is to say, 600 years before the closing event which it indicates, the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; when we note that it does not profess to give its chronological point at all,-its exactitude and comprehensiveness are surely a new and eloquent testimony to the Divine inspiration of the book of Daniel, and a fresh encouragement closely to scan and deeply to ponder the sacred chronological predictions of Scripture.