Book: The Appointed Times of Jesus the Messiah
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How Daniel’s Seventy-Week Prophecy Pinpoints the
Appointed Time of the Messiah’s Coming

The second of the “appointed times” of Jesus the Messiah relates to His ministry—to its beginning and to His anointing. Pinpointing exactly when Jesus began His ministry will confirm once again that God has planned Jesus’ all-important role around the festival seasons—or God’s “appointed times.” The key to establishing the beginning of Jesus’ ministry lies in understanding Daniel’s mysterious 70-week prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27). This prophecy places Jesus’ anointing and the beginning of His ministry in the fall of 26 AD. In fact, as we will see, Daniel’s prophecy points to the fall festival season—and specifically the Day of Atonement—as the time Jesus’ ministry began. As will also be demonstrated, Jesus intentionally declined to announce the fact that He was the Messiah at the onset of His ministry. Rather, He waited until the late spring festival of Pentecost to publicly reveal His identity as God’s Anointed. Why the delay? The answer is astonishing!

The 70-week prophecy of Daniel chapter nine has intrigued scholars and sages down through the centuries. A succession of differing views and interpretations of this prophecy can be found in historical writings dating back to antiquity. Verses 20-23 introduce the prophecy:

“And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, came to me, about the time of the evening sacrifice. And he made me to understand, and talked with me, and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the word went forth, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the word, and understand the vision.’ ”

These words of Gabriel show that the 70-week prophecy was given to impart understanding to Daniel. This was not a prophecy to remain “sealed” until the end of the age (Dan. 12:9-10). In fact, its fulfillment would begin to take place in that very year. The following verses in Daniel nine describe the sequence of events that would come to pass during its fulfillment. Note that these events are all centered at Jerusalem and the Temple. Verses 24-27:

Seventy weeks are decreed upon your people and upon your holy city to finish the transgression and to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, to Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks. It shall be built again with streets and the wall, even in troublous times. And after sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. But his end shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease, and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate even until the consummation. And the fully determined end which is decreed shall be poured out upon the desolator.”

In verse 24, the 70-week prophecy is summed up as a whole. The following verses describe the division of the 70 weeks into three distinct periods: seven weeks, 62 weeks and one week. The words “weeks” and “week” in these verses are translated from the Hebrew shabua, which is a unit of time composed of seven years. These units of time, known today as heptads, were used by ancient Israel to calculate the sabbatical years. The use of shabua in the Hebrew text signifies that the 70 weeks are not literal weeks of seven daysduration, but are each composed of seven years. Thus, the three divisions of weeks in the prophecy add up to a total of 490 years. Since the structure of the Hebrew text divides the 70-week prophecy into three distinct periods, each segment is to be considered separately. As we will see, the three periods are separated from each other by intervening years. This division is conveyed by the Hebrew verbs. Moreover, the historical fulfillment of the first two periods (of 7 weeks and 62 weeks) establishes that idea as factual. Indeed, when these divisions with the intervening years between them are ignored, and the 70 weeks are considered as a continuous, single unit, it becomes impossible to reconcile the prophecy’s fulfillment with history.

As verse 24 states, the 490 years are “decreed” in order for specific events to take place in the city of Jerusalem in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The Hebrew verb translated as “decreed” may also be rendered as “determined” (KJV) or “divided.” In modern terminology, this verb might be translated as “marked out.” The basic meaning is that these prophetic “weeks” are time periods of years “marked out” or set apart by God in the course of history. Thus, it becomes clear that the 70-weeks prophecy deals with periods of time that have been appointed and decreed by God. Indeed, the prophecy points to one of the key “appointed times” in Jesus’ life and work—His anointing and the beginning of His ministry as the Messiah. Of the three divisions of time that make up the 70-week prophecy, the first two—the 7 weeks and the 62 weeks—are relevant to Jesus’ ministry and anointing. The final heptad, the one week, relates to future end-time events.

Period One: Seven Weeks, or 49 Years—539 BC to 490 BC

The first period—of seven weeks, or 49 years—was prophesied to begin with “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” That proclamation was issued by Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, the same year Daniel received the vision. The vision of the 70 weeks announced the intervention of God to bring a remnant of Judah back to their land to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple and to dwell again in the land. All these events were necessary in order for the birth of the Messiah to take place in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets (Isa. 9:6-7; Micah 5:2).

The book of Ezra begins with a description of the proclamation of Cyrus, which marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the first division of the 70-week prophecy. In his account of Cyrus’ decree, Ezra focuses on the rebuilding of the Temple. As a descendant of the high priests, his principle concerns were the preservation of the law of God and the restoration of the Temple service. In reading the account in Ezra chapter one, it is important to remember that the decree also included the restoration of the city of Jerusalem, as noted by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 44:28).

“And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the Word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah [Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10] might he fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. And He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel—He is the God Who is in Jerusalem” ’ ” (Ezra 1:1-3).

The first year of Cyrus II (the Great) by Persian reckoning was 539 BC. That same year, Cyrus appointed Zerubbabel governor of Judah and commissioned him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. The materials that were needed were ordered upon his arrival in Jerusalem, and the laying of the foundation began in the spring of 538 BC. The prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah show that Zerubbabel was still serving as governor of Judah in 515 BC when the Temple was completed (Hag. 1:1, 14; 2:1-4; Zech. 4:9).

The scriptural accounts show that Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to succeed Zerubbabel as governor of Judea. Nehemiah’s governorship actually ran from 502 BC to 490 BC. As the end of Nehemiah’s governorship approached, the Temple was in service and the city was protected by a secure wall, but the restoration of Jerusalem was not yet complete. The houses that were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and his army had not been rebuilt. Nehemiah chapter seven describes the condition of Jerusalem. “And the city was large and great, but the people in it were few, and the houses not built” (verse 4).

When those who were selected to dwell in Jerusalem had built their houses, the restoration of the city was complete. This event was the final act in the fulfillment of Cyrus’ proclamation as prophesied by Isaiah. “[I am the LORD] Who makes the word of His servant sure, and makes good the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, ‘She shall have people;’… Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall do all My pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built;” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid” ’ ” (Isa. 44:26, 28).

When Nehemiah returned to the king of Persia at the end of his governorship in 490 BC, the first division of the 70-week prophecy was complete. The fulfillment of the “seven weeks” (seven heptads, which equates to 7 x 7 years, or 49 years) had begun in 539 BC with Cyrus’ decree and had ended in 490 BC when Nehemiah’s governorship ended—exactly 49 years.

The Fulfillment of the 49 Years — 539 BC - 490 BC


With the fulfillment of the “seven weeks,” the physical stage was set for the appearing of the Messiah. But problems of corruption and complacency soon developed in the priesthood. In fact, twelve years after the completion of the first division of the prophecy—in 478 BC—Ezra made a final journey to Jerusalem to deal primarily with such problems. The second part of the prophecy—the 62 weeks or 434 years—was to begin the countdown to the appearing of the Messiah. As we will see, this key time period would begin in the fall of 409 BC and end in the fall of 26 AD with the beginning of Jesus Christ’s ministry.

Meanwhile, God sent the final Old Testament prophet, Malachi, to deal with problems in the priesthood and deliver prophecies concerning the Messiah. Moreover, the tiny nation of Judah would undergo tremendous cultural and religious changes in the interim period known as the time “between the Testaments”—from the close of the age of the prophets (with Malachi being the last) to the work of John the Baptist, as the messenger who would herald the coming of the Messiah as foretold of by Malachi (Mal. 3:1).

The Book of Malachi and John the Baptist

God’s warnings to His people—and especially the priests who had violated His laws—are recorded in the book of Malachi, which pronounced a curse upon those who failed to take heed and repent of their evil ways (Mal. 1:6-8; 2:1-3).

Although the book of Malachi is dated to the 400s BC, there is no historical record of the specific year that it was written. In fact, there is sound scriptural basis for concluding that the book of Malachi was written in 409 BC and marked the beginning of the 62 weeks division (434 years)— the second part of the 70-week prophecy.

Since the book of Malachi contains a prophecy of the ministry of John the Baptist, which took place at the end of the 434 years (26 AD), it is fitting that God would inspire it to be written at the beginning of the 434 years, in 409 BC. The title of the book itself points to the work of John the Baptist as the one who would herald the promised Messiah. The name Malachi means “My messenger.” The book begins with a call to repentance and ends with the prophecy of the messenger who would come in the spirit of Elijah to turn the hearts of the people back to their God. The Messiah Himself declared that this prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist (Matt. 17:12-13).

There is additional support in Scripture for dating the prophecy of Malachi to the beginning of the 62 weeks. Malachi’s prophecy was, in effect, a decree from God: “Behold, I will send My messenger…” (Mal. 3:1). As this decree was fulfilled at the end of the 62 weeks, a parallel is established with the fulfillment of the first segment of the 70 weeks (the seven weeks or 49 years), which began with a decree and ended with the fulfillment of that decree. This parallelism is illustrated below.

First segment: The seven weeks began with the decree of Cyrus and ended with the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Nehemiah, which completed the fulfillment of the decree.

Second segment: The 62 weeks began with the decree of God in the book of Malachi—“Behold, I will send My messenger”—and ended with its fulfillment through the ministry of John the Baptist and the appearance of the Messiah.

The book of Malachi reveals that the time span between the end of the seven weeks in 490 BC and the beginning of the 62 weeks in 409 BC was a period of increasing corruption within the priesthood after it was restored by Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra’s visit to Jerusalem in 478 BC had helped to reinforce and complete the reforms that Nehemiah had begun, but the repentance of the people at that time did not end the pattern of disobedience that had stained the history of the house of Israel and the house of Judah since their Exodus from Egypt.

Malachi’s message is directed to a priesthood that had lost its reverence for God and defiled His altar by sacrificing diseased and defective animals (Mal. 1:6-8, 12-14). This is the decadent condition that moved God to issue His warnings in the book of Malachi at the beginning of the 62 weeks. The failure of the priests and the people to heed these warnings and repent led God to forsake His Temple in Jerusalem and allow the city to be overrun by foreign armies several times during the 62 weeks, or 434 years, which extended from 409 BC to 26 AD.

Indeed, the first division of 49 years was a period of restoration after 70 years of desolation; but the second division of 434 years was a period of judgment marked by invasion and foreign domination after the people and the priests fell back into sin.

Period Two: 62 Weeks, or 434 Years—409 BC to 26 AD
Ends with “the Appointed Time” of Jesus’ Anointing
And the Beginning of His Ministry

Since the 70-week prophecy declares that the 62-week period ends with the coming of the Messiah—“to Messiah the Prince”—we can establish the beginning of the 62 weeks (or 434 years) by counting backwards from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Moreover, pinpointing the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is also simply a matter of counting backwards 3 and 1/2 years from the date of His crucifixion in 30 AD—a key historical marker. This brings us to the fall of 26 AD.

However, many biblical scholars and theologians teach that the 62 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy ended in 27 AD. This chronology is based on counting backward 3 and 1/2 years from a crucifixion in the spring of 31 AD. However, a crucifixion in 31 AD is contradicted by the Gospel accounts and by the intercalary cycle of the Calculated Hebrew Calendar (CHC). The Gospel writers reveal that the Passover day, Nisan 14 (CHC), fell on Wednesday in the year that Christ was crucified; but according to the CHC, the Passover of 31 AD fell on Monday, which eliminates any possibility that the crucifixion occurred in that year. The only years during Christ’s ministry in which the Passover fell on Wednesday were 27 AD and 30 AD. Since 27 AD was in the early phase of His ministry, it is excluded as a possibility, leaving 30 AD as the only historically valid date for the crucifixion. Other scriptural and historical records confirm that the Passover of 30 AD fell on Wednesday, April 5, according to the Roman Julian Calendar.

In addition to the error of dating the crucifixion to 31AD, some commit a second error in calculating the 62 weeks. Instead of counting backward from the crucifixion to the beginning of Christ’s ministry, they include the 3 and 1/2 years of His ministry as part of the 62 weeks and reckon the end of the 62 weeks to the Passover day—the date of His crucifixion—in the spring of the year.

But in reckoning the 62-week segment to end in the spring at the Passover (the 14th day of the first month, Nisan, CHC) with the crucifixion of the Messiah, they overlook the fact that each week of Daniel’s prophecy is a 7-year Sabbatical cycle (heptad). Thus, in each heptad the 7th year is a land Sabbath. Since land Sabbaths are declared on the Day of Atonement (the 10th day of the 7th month, Tishri, CHC) in the fall of the year, this means that Daniel’s weeksmust run from fall to fall. Consequently, the Hebrew text and the CHC absolutely rule out any reckoning of the 62 weeks to end in the spring of the year.

Furthermore, the prophecy in Daniel nine states that the Messiah would be cut offAFTER the 62 weeks—not during (verse 26). The Hebrew preposition that is translated “after” does not allow the “cutting off” to be included as part of the 62 weeks.

Below is an illustration of the meaning of this Hebrew proposition as diagrammed by Waltke in An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. The line and the space between the circle and the preposition represent a space of time between the preposition and its object, ruling out any link between the ending of the 62 weeks and Messiah’s being “cut off,” which occurred after 62 weeks.

Jesus’ Ministry Began in the Fall of 26 AD
At the Beginning of a Jubilee Year

In addition to the above evidence from the Hebrew text, the prophecy states that the 62 weeks would end with “the coming of an anointed one” (see Owens, Dan. 9:25)—not with His being “cut off.” Furthermore, every Sabbatical year begins on the 10th day of the 7th month, which is the Day of Atonement, and is reckoned from Atonement to Atonement. The 62-week segment of the 70-week prophecy ended on the Day of Atonement in 26 AD and ended the Sabbatical year which ran from 25/26 AD. It was also the end of 49 years (seven Sabbatical years). Thus, the next year—26/27 AD, from Atonement to Atonement—was the 50th year, or a Jubilee year (Lev. 25:8-13). This was the first year of Jesus’ ministry. In fact, Christ’s ministry was a Jubilee ministry proclaiming release from sin and Satan. Hence, His ministry had to commence at the beginning of a Jubilee year on the Day of Atonement—“the appointed time” for the Messiah to come, according to Daniel 9:25.

Additional supporting evidence for Jesus’ ministry starting in the fall of 26 AD is found in the Gospel of John, which records the words of the Jews at the time of the first Passover of Christ’s ministry. During this Passover season, the Jews stated that the Temple had been 46 years in building (John 2:20). Thus, we can determine the date of this Passover—and the first year of Christ’s ministry—by counting from the year that the building of the Temple began.

Josephus records that the building of the Temple was begun during the 18th year of Herod’s reign: “And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign [that is, the 18th in Jerusalem, but the 21st year from his coronation in Rome] … undertook a very great work, that is to build of himself the temple of God” (Ant., 15:11:1).

The 18th year of Herod’s reign in Jerusalem, which was the first year of building the Temple, was from the summer of 20 BC to the summer of 19 BC. Counting forward, the 46th year of building was from the summer of 26 AD to the summer of 27 AD. The only Passover that occurred during this period of time was the Passover of 27 AD. Thus, scriptural and historical records place the first Passover of Christ’s ministry in the spring of 27 AD. Since His ministry began in the fall of the year, we can firmly establish that it began in the autumn of 26 AD.

Although a Jubilee year begins in the fall on the Day of Atonement, Jesus did not publicly announce Himself as the Anointed One until well after the Jubilee year had begun. Rather, this proclamation coincided with His public reading of the prophecy of Isaiah 61 at the synagogue in Nazareth during the Jubilee year 26/27 AD:

“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and according to His custom, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. And there was given Him the book of the prophet Isaiah; and when He had unrolled the scroll, He found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; for this reason, He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal those who are brokenhearted, [He has sent Me] to proclaim pardon to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, [He has sent Me] to send forth in deliverance those who have been crushed, [He has sent Me] to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And after rolling up the scroll and delivering it to the attendant, He sat down; and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He began to say to them, ‘Today, this scripture is being fulfilled in your ears’ ” (Luke 4:16-21).

Some scholars speculate that this particular Sabbath was the Day of Atonement, because the Jubilee year is reckoned from Atonement to Atonement. However, in verse 16, the Greek words translated, “the Sabbath day” actually reveal that this particular Sabbath was neither a regular weekly Sabbath nor the Day of Atonement. The phrase en te hemera toon sabbatoon is literally translated “on the day of the Sabbaths” or “on the day of the weeks.” The only Sabbath day called the day of the Sabbathsor the day of the weeksis the annual holy day of Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks).

Since the Jubilee year is reckoned fall to fall (from Atonement to Atonement), why did Jesus wait until Pentecost in the spring to make this proclamation? Why didn’t He make this announcement on the Day of Atonement—at the beginning of His ministry—instead of Pentecost? The answers to these questions are found when we examine Jesus’ anointing and the beginning of His ministry. As we will see, Jesus did, indeed, commence His ministry in the fall of 26 AD, on the Day of Atonement—at the appointed time—the very day that began the Jubilee year of 26/27 AD (the 10th day of the 7th month, Tishri, CHC; on the Julian Roman Calendar, it was Wednesday, September 11, 26 AD). But He waited until Pentecost to announce that He was the Messiah because of the special meaning attached to that holy day.

From the Gospel accounts, it is clear that Jesus’ ministry did not begin in Galilee on the day of Pentecost in the spring of 27 AD. Rather, it actually began in the fall of 26 AD, at the beginning of the Jubilee year, after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist:

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and You come to me?’ Then Jesus answered and said to him, ‘You must permit it at this time; for in this manner it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him to be baptized.

“And after He was baptized, Jesus came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him. And lo, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, the Beloved, in Whom I have great delight’ ” (Matt. 3:13-17).

John the Baptist further testifies concerning Jesus’ baptism: “I myself beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon Him. And I did not know Him before; but He Who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon Whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, He is the one Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:32-35). Since Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit from conception, His baptism and receiving of the Holy Spirit as described in this passage was His anointing by God the Father as the prophesied Messiah of Daniel nine.

The Scriptures do not disclose the exact date Jesus was baptized. However, from the context of the Gospel accounts we can determine that it took place in the fall of 26 AD, just before the Day of Atonement, the day which began the Jubilee year of 26/27 AD.

Immediately after Jesus was baptized by John, He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to face Satan the devil and to be tempted by him for 40 days—the number of severe trial (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). Although the Gospel accounts do not designate the specific date, Satan’s 40- day temptation of Jesus must have begun on the Day of Atonement—the fast day. That Day of Atonement brought an end to the second segment of 62 weeks, totaling 434 years, and simultaneously began the first day of Jesus’ ministry. Furthermore, that day of Atonement began a 50th year, a Jubilee year—the exact appointed time,to the very day, for the Messiah to begin His ministry. Thus, there is no question that Jesus’ extended 40-day fast and temptation was the fulfillment of “the appointed time” for the Messiah to begin His ministry. The first thing Jesus Christ had to do—as God manifested in the flesh, the true Messiah of God—was to spiritually overcome Satan the devil.

Jesus’ baptism and anointing with the Holy Spirit, 40-day fast and temptation were the key events that marked the actual beginning of His ministry. That Day of Atonement, which began the Jubilee year of 26/27 AD, was the beginning of the first year of Jesus’ ministry, thus fulfilling—to the very day—the prophecy of the decreed or “appointed” time the Messiah would come: “Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, to [unto] Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks [the first segment of 49 years], and sixty-two weeks [the second segment of 434 years]” (Dan. 9:25).

The Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke give the appearance that Jesus went into Galilee after recovering from His 40-day fast. However, that was not the case. The Gospel of John, chapters 1-4, records the chronology of events after Jesus’ baptism and 40-day temptation until He and His disciples came to Nazareth, where He announced that He was the Messiah of God. We will summarize the sequence of those events concerning the first part of His ministry.

In John chapter one, verses 35-52, Jesus first meets some of His disciples. Chapter two covers the marriage in Cana and the miracle of turning water into wine, verses 1-12. Next, Jesus first shows Himself at the Temple in Jerusalem during the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, 27 AD—casting out the money changers and performing miracles, verses 13- 25. This fulfilled Malachi 3:1, “ ‘Behold, I will send My messenger and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, Whom you seek, SHALL SUDDENLY COME TO HIS TEMPLE, even the Messenger of the covenant, in Whom you delight. Behold He comes, says the LORD of hosts.’ ” Yet, when Jesus suddenly came to His Temple, He did not declare Himself to be the Messiah.

The chronology continues in chapter three with Nicodemus the Pharisee coming to Jesus by night, verses 1-13; Jesus teaches, verses 14-24; John the Baptist testifies of Jesus, verses 25-34; and, John was not yet in prison, verse 34. In chapter four, Jesus and the disciples go to Samaria; Jesus talks to a woman at a well and teaches the people, verses 1-42.

After that, Jesus and the disciples depart from Samaria and return to Galilee, verses 43-54. (The Gospel of Luke records that John was put into prison while Jesus and His disciples were in Samaria—Luke 3:19-20.) Finally, they returned to Galilee where Jesus began “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark 1:14-15).

Jesus and His disciples later traveled to Nazareth. There, on the day of Pentecost, “the day of the weeks,” Jesus entered the synagogue to make His public declaration that He was the Messiah—the Anointed One of God—by reading from a prophecy of Isaiah 61: “ ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; for this reason, He has anointed Me [as the Messiah] to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal those who are brokenhearted, to proclaim pardon to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth in deliverance those who have been crushed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [a Jubilee year].’ And after rolling up the scroll and delivering it to the attendant, He sat down; and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He began to say to them, Today, this scripture is being fulfilled in your ears’ ” (Luke 4:18-21). Thus, His announcement was made public—and they should have known Who He was: THE MESSIAH OF GOD.

Jesus Announced He was the Messiah
On the Day of Pentecost

Since Jesus was being tempted by Satan, beginning on the Day of Atonement—which actually began the Jubilee year—He was not able to publicly announce His anointing as Messiah at that time. However, He did make that proclamation during the Jubilee year on the day of Pentecost. But why did He wait until then to do so? Why didn’t He make His announcement during the Passover-Unleavened Bread feast when He was in Jerusalem at the Temple? The answers to these questions are found in the unique way the day of Pentecost is determined or counted, plus the New Testament meaning of that special feast day.

First: Pentecost is like a mini-jubilee because it is reckoned by counting 50 days beginning with the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (or the first day of the week), which is the first day of the 50-day count. The first day is the wave sheaf offering day, when the special sheaf of the “first of the firstfruits” is waved by the priest to be accepted by the Lord. Then the harvest of the barley and wheat would begin. After seven complete weeks (or 49 days) with each week ending on a weekly Sabbath, the feast of Pentecost is the next day, the 50th day—and signifies the end of the firstfruit grain harvest (Lev. 23:10-21). The Jubilee year is similarly reckoned by counting seven sabbatical years, or 49 years, plus one year, which equals 50 years. The 50th year is the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:8-13).

Second: After Jesus’ resurrection from the grave toward the end of the weekly Sabbath (see Chapter Five), the chronology of the Gospels shows that on the morning of the next day—the wave sheaf offering day, the first day of the count toward Pentecost—Jesus ascended into heaven to be accepted by God the Father as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 20:17). As the firstborn from the dead (Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:18), Jesus fulfilled another key “appointed time” as the first of the firstfruits resurrected from the dead (I Cor. 15:12-23). After being accepted by God the Father, He returned later that same day and showed Himself to His disciples (John 20:19-21; Luke 24:36-48). Jesus continued to teach them and reveal Himself to them for an additional 40 days. Then, on the 40th day, He ascended into heaven for the second and final time (Acts 1:1-11). Thus, Jesus began His ministry with a 40-day fast and temptation by Satan, and, after His resurrection, He finished with a 40-day ministry of personally appearing to the disciples, teaching them of God’s way.

Third: On the Day of Pentecost, 30 AD, God sent the Holy Spirit, the power of God, upon the apostles and disciples; immediately they began preaching the truth about the resurrected Jesus Christ at the Temple in Jerusalem. Peter proclaimed repentance, baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament shows that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit—with belief in the Gospel and full faith in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ—that people can be released from being held captive by Satan the devil and sin, just as Jesus proclaimed on that day of Pentecost in Nazareth in 27 AD. Thus, on the spiritual mini-jubilee of Pentecost, during the Jubilee year that began Jesus’ ministry, He declared that He was the prophesied Christ—the appointed Messiah of God.

Fourth: The New Testament teaches that those true believers who have received the Holy Spirit and die in the faith, or are alive when Jesus returns, will be harvested as the spiritual firstfruits to God the Father on the Day of Pentecost by the power of the resurrection (James 1:18; Rev. 14:14- 16; I Thess. 4:13-18; I Cor. 15:20-23, 49-54). As resurrected, immortal spirit beings—sons and daughters of God—those in the first resurrection will be totally free from the body of flesh, sin and Satan the devil—an everlasting spiritual Jubilee indeed!

Jesus made His proclamation that He was the Messiah sent from God on the day of Pentecost because He was pointing toward the final result of conversion and salvation. Salvation for the firstfruits will be completed at “the appointed time” of the first resurrection—on the Day of Pentecost when Christ returns. Thus, Jesus declared Himself to be the Messiah on the spiritual Jubilee of Pentecost, during the Jubilee year that began on the Day of Atonement (which ended the second segment of 62 weeks or 434 years).

This was an official proclamation that the Messiah had come—why? —“to preach the gospel.” There is abundant evidence proving that the coming of the Anointed One is directly linked to the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Since Jesus Christ, the Anointed One of Isaiah 61, is also the Anointed One of Daniel nine, it is evident that the 62 weeks ended on the Day of Atonement in the fall of 26 AD—which began a Jubilee year.

As each of the 62 weeks was a heptad composed of seven sabbatical years, this division of Daniel’s prophecy extended over a period of 434 years (62 x 7 = 434). Counting backward from the fall of 26 AD, we can determine that the 434 years began in the fall of 409 BC. (Since there is no year zero, one year must be subtracted when calculating from AD to BC.)

Why a Jubilee Year?

It is significant that Jesus began to reveal Himself as the Messiah during a jubilee year. The scriptural passage which He selected for His opening message in the synagogue at Nazareth has traditionally been reserved by the Jews to be read in the synagogues on the Day of Atonement, and to this day is acknowledged to be a direct reference to the proclamation of a jubilee. However, Jesus read this passage on the Day of Pentecost—a mini-jubilee within a jubilee year. In Appendix Four of his publication The Star of Bethlehem, Dr. Ernest L. Martin emphasizes the obvious connection of Luke 4:16 with the jubilee year: “These terms that Jesus was using in His discourse at the synagogue at Nazareth were those associated with Sabbatical Years (and with the Jubilee which was a type of Sabbatical Year)….”

Dr. Ernest Martin also discusses the Jubilee in his book The Teachings of Pentecost:

“Back in Leviticus 25 we read of the Jubilee. It is most interesting to read what would happen every 50th year: ‘And you shall number seven sabbaths of years unto you, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto you forty and nine years. Then shall you cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land’ (Leviticus 25:8-9).

“Immediately someone would say this is the Day of Atonement, this is not Pentecost. You would be correct…. What is this year of Jubilee all about…? ‘And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and you shall return every man unto his possession, and you shall return every man unto his family’ (Leviticus 25:10).”

Jesus’ reading of Isaiah’s prophecy includes the words “to set at liberty” and “the acceptable year of the Lord”—both of which are direct references to a Jubilee. The exegete Albert Vanhoye wrote the following about Luke 4:16 in an essay titled The Jubilee Year in the Gospel of Luke, in which he dogmatically states that Jesus was proclaiming a jubilee:

Saint Luke is not the only evangelist who records Jesus’ visit to Nazareth “where he had been brought up” (Luke 4:16). Saint Mark and Saint Matthew also refer to this episode, although without mentioning the name of the town, referred to simply as “his home town” (Mark 6:1; Matt. 13:54). There are, however, several differences between the story told by Luke and those of Mark and Matthew. We have already implicitly indicated one, when we observed that Luke is the only one who gives the contents of Jesus’ preaching. The other two evangelists limit themselves to saying that Jesus “began to teach in the synagogue” (Mark 6:2; cf. Matt. 13:54); but they do not say what he taught. Luke, on the other hand, tells how Jesus “stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord has been given to me…!” (Luke 4:16-18; Isa. 61:1). Very significantly, the last line of Isaiah read by Jesus says: “to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor” (Luke 4:19; Isa. 61:2), and immediately afterwards Jesus’ message was a declaration that precisely “this text” was being fulfilled on that day. The expression of Isaiah 61:2, “year of the Lord’s favor,” clearly refers to the prescriptions in the Book of Leviticus on the jubilee year (Lev. 25:10-13). Therefore at Nazareth, Jesus was proclaiming a Jubilee year.

Historical records in the works of Josephus provide additional evidence that Jesus’ ministry began during a Jubilee. In Book XIV, Chapter XV, Paragraph 14, Josephus states that Herod’s attack on Jerusalem took place in the third year after his coronation at Rome:

When the rigour of winter was over, Herod removed his army, and came near to Jerusalem, and pitched his camp hard by the city. Now this was the third year since he had been made king at Rome; and as he removed his camp, and came near that part of the wall where it could be most easily assaulted, he pitched that camp before the temple, intending to make his attacks in the same manner as did Pompey. So he encompassed the place with three bulwarks, and erected towers, and employed a great many hands about the work, and cut down the trees that were round about the city; and when he had appointed proper persons to oversee the works, even while the army lay before the city, he himself went to Samaria, to complete his marriage, and to take to wife the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus; for he had betrothed her already, as I have before related.

The Romans made Herod king of Jerusalem in 40 BC. By Roman count “the third year since he [Herod] had been made king at Rome” was 38 BC. In Book XV, Chapter 1, Paragraph 2, Josephus reveals that the battle for Jerusalem occurred in the spring of a sabbatical year:

At this time Herod, now he had got Jerusalem under his power, carried off all the royal ornaments, and spoiled the wealthy men of what they had gotten; and when, by these means, he had heaped together a great quantity of silver and gold, he gave it all to Antony, and his friends that were about him. He also slew forty-five of the principal men of Antigonus’s party, and set guards at the gates of the city, that nothing might be carried out together with their dead bodies. They also searched the dead, and whatever was found, either of silver or gold, or other treasure, it was carried to the king; nor was there any end of the miseries he brought upon them; and this distress was in part occasioned by the covetousness of the prince regent, who was still in want of more, and in part by the sabbatic year, which was still going on, and forced the country to lie still uncultivated, since we are forbidden to sow our land in that year.

The events discussed by Josephus occurred in the spring of 38 BC, a sabbatical year that began on Atonement of 39 BC and extended to Atonement of 38 BC. A study of sabbatical cycles from Herod’s battle for Jerusalem down to the ministry of Christ will demonstrate that 25/26 AD was a sabbatical year (See next page). This chronology adds historical support to the scriptural evidence in Luke 4:16-18 that the following year, 26/27 AD, which was the first year of Jesus’ ministry, was a 50th year Jubilee. It was “the appointed time” for the Messiah to appear—fulfilling the 62 weeks division of the prophecy of Daniel nine to the exact day!

The Gospel accounts reveal that throughout Jesus’ ministry He experienced far more persecution from the Jewish religious leaders than from the Roman authorities. In fact, the laws of Rome prevented the Jewish officials of His day from putting Him to death. To accomplish their purpose, the Jews brought false charges of political crimes against Him, knowing that Rome imposed the death penalty for such crimes. They succeeded in convincing the Roman authorities of His guilt by hiring false witnesses to testify against Him. Their evil plot led to His crucifixion on the Passover day in 30 AD.

As we will see in the next chapter, the crucifixion of Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel 9:26 that the Messiah would be cut offafter the completion of the 62 weeks. Thus, Daniel’s prophecy sets the stage for the next “appointed time” of the Messiah—His preordained death by crucifixion for the sins of all mankind.