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I understand that the Old Testament prophecies many different things about the Messiah who was to come, including the virgin birth, His suffering, His resurrection, etc.

However, is there anything in the Old Testament that indicates the time in history in which He would come, or is it just "some time in the future"?

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I'm afraid I don't have the time to delve into detail, but hopefully another person will elaborate on Daniel 9:24-27. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 12 '12 at 21:46

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Yes. Daniel, who wrote during the Babylonian Empire prophesied that Messiah would come after four succesive Kingdoms. One which had already existed, the Babylonian, would be taken over by the Persian, then the Persian taken over by the Greek. The Greek then taken over by the Roman, then Messiah overthrowing the Roman. This is not just a Christian re-interpretation but an actual Jewish expectation that Messiah would overturn the Roman Empire. Of course the common Jewish expectation was that Messiah would lead by sword, not by conversion to an 'invisible' kingdom, but nevertheless, both traditional Jewish and Christian interpretation of Daniel Chapter 7 puts Messiah after the formation of the Roman Empire.

A wiki article on the four beasts of Daniel has it right:

The following interpretation is a traditional view of Jewish and Christian Historicists, Futurists, Dispensationalists, Partial Preterists, and other futuristic Jewish and Christian hybrids, as well as certain Messianic Jews, who typically believe that the kingdoms in Daniel (with variations) are:

  • Neo-Babylonian Empire
  • Medo-Persian Empire
  • Macedonian Empire of Alexander and his successors to the Ptolomaic and Seleucid Empires together, and
  • Roman Empire, with other implications to come later.

This was the scheme described by Jerome in his Commentary on Daniel.[7] Within this framework there are numerous variations.

Yet this is not all. Many respectable theologians believe that Daniel was more particular in foretelling the time of the coming of Christ than ever any prophet had been before. In Daniel 9 of his prophecy, it is foretold that it should be '70 weeks', i.e. 70 weeks of years, or 70 times 7 years, or 490 years, from the decree to rebuild and restore the state of the Jews till the Messiah should be crucified. There is much calculation by various people to argue that this was the very year that Christ died dated from the commission granted to Ezra by Artaxerxes in Ezra 7. Naturally this is fairly complicated to prove and there would be much debate about the details.

However this exactness to the precise year does not appear to have provided any Rabbinic traditions to expect Messiah at the time of Christ exactly, rather according to the Jewish historian Alfred Edersheim there was many guesses from around 4000 years after the Creation to around 729 A.D. based on an extended view of a five monarchy prediction where after Rome somehow Ishmael was added without any scriptural warrant. Yet even in this confusion and speculation some interesting Rabbinic opinions can be found concerning Daniel. First around the time of Messiah as predicted by Daniel some thought that the second temple would be destroyed which is surprisingly accurate considering.

Dan. 9:24. In (The Talmudic Tractate Nazir, on the Nasirate. 32 b) it is noted that this referred to the time when the second Temple was to be destroyed. So also in Yalkut vol. ii. p. 79 d, lines 16 &c. from the bottom. (Edersheim, A. (1896). Vol. 2: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (P734)

Second, a kind of disappearance and reappearance of Messiah was thought of. Although not seen as 3 days in the grave a 45 day disappearance is again a pretty good guess:

Dan. 12:11, 12. These two verses receive a peculiar Messianic interpretation, and that by the authority of the Rabbis. For it is argued that, as Moses, the first Redeemer, appeared, and was withdrawn for a time, and then reappeared, so would the second Redeemer; and the interval between His disappearance and reappearance is calculated at 45 days, arrived at by deducting the 1,290 days of the cessation of the sacrifice (Dan. 12:11) from the 1,335 days of Dan. 12:12 (Midr. on Ruth 2:14, ed. Warsh. p. 43 b). (Edersheim, A. (1896). Vol. 2: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (P734).

These predictions are all quite remarkable and they shows us how precise and speculative those were who pondered them, yet somehwat accurate still. Also it should give us pause to consider how miraculous that these prophecies did predict events which arguably occured. Of course after the fact we are able to see the predictions more clearly but that is partly the purpose of prophecy, to prove that events which have occurred were clearly predicted by an omniscient God.

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The prophecy commonly known as "Daniel's 70 Weeks" may be the most precise prediction of the time of Messiah:

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

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.

Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:24-27 NASB

Weeks

The Hebrew word that is translated "weeks" is more literally translated as "seven". Consequently, it should not be automatically translated as a 7 day period. For various reasons, many scholars interpret this to be referring to years. If this is so, then 70 "sevens" would indicate a time span of 490 years in which the prophecy will be fulfilled.

Specific Prophecies

It is important to note the fullness of the prophecy. All of these things would be fulfilled within the 490 years, albeit not all at the same time:

  1. Finish transgression
  2. Put an end to sin
  3. Atone for iniquity
  4. Bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. Seal both vision and prophet
  6. Anoint a most holy place.

The 490 Years Begins

The 490 year time period begins from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Artaxerxes issued such a decree in 445 B.C. (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

The Cutting Off of the Messiah

The prophecy proclaims that after a total of 69 sevens (the 7 sevens and 62 sevens), Messiah will come and will be cut off. (Some translate Messiah as an anointed one rather than transliterating the Hebrew word itself.) Seven times Sixty-Nine equals 483 years. However, the Jews did not employ our modern solar calendar, so adjusting 483 years to our modern calendar gives us 476 years and 24 days. So -445 B.C. + 476 years equals 31 A.D., then add one year (since there wasn't a year zero), and you get 32 A.D. This is, of course, the time in history when Jesus was crucified. In His crucifixion, He atoned for iniquity as the prophecy foretold.

Other Parts of the Prophecy

It is important to remember that all of the prophecies mentioned were to be completed in 490 years and not after just 483 years, when the Messiah was to be cut off. There are varying opinions on how the 70th seven is fulfilled. At the end of that time, the remaining prophecies will be fulfilled.

The destroying of the city and the sanctuary (the Temple) did occur in 70 A.D., as was prophesied: "after the sixty-two weeks... the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.

(NOTE: There are some who compute the years a bit differently, but they all arrive at dates between 27 A.D. and 33 A.D. Some start at 457 B.C. Nonetheless, the cutting off of Messiah falls in the narrow range in which we know Jesus was actually crucified.)

For further reading:

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The Scriptures pretty much don't seem to give absolute dates (i.e. in 3000 years this will happen), but rather times in relation to specific events. Although some could interpret the 7 days of Creation to represent 7000 years which the last 1000 could mean the 100 year reign.

Check out these for further thoughts:

Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
14  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Mark 13:30 (NKJV)
30  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

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