The Coming Masih: In Signs of ‘Seven’

As we have explored the prophets we have been learning that though they were sometimes separated from one another by hundreds of years – so they could not humanly coordinate their prophecies with each other – yet their prophecies developed a central theme of the coming Masih (= Christ). We saw that the prophet Isaiah (PBUH) had used the Sign of the Branch from a stump, and then the prophet Zechariah (PBUH) had prophesied that this Branch would have the name Hebrew name Yhowshuwa, which in Greek was Iesous, which is Jesus in English and Isa in Arabic. Yes, the very name of the Masih (= Christ) was prophesied 500 years before Isa al Masih – Jesus (PBUH)– ever lived. This prophecy is written down in the Book of the Jews, (not in the Injil), which is still read and accepted – but not understood – by the Jews.

The Prophet Daniel

We now come to the prophet Daniel (PBUH). He lived in the exile in Babylon and was a powerful official in the Babylonian and Persian governments – as well as a prophet. The timeline below shows where the prophet Daniel (pbuh) lived in the history of the prophets.

The Prophets Daniel & Nehemiah shown in timeline with other prophets of Zabur

The Prophets Daniel & Nehemiah shown in timeline with other prophets of Zabur

 

In his book, the prophet Daniel (PBUH), receives a message from the angel Gabriel (Jabril). Daniel and Mary, the mother of Jesus (Isa – PBUH), are the only ones in the whole Bible (al kitab) to have messages given by Gabriel. So we should pay particular attention to this message. The angel Gabriel (Jabril) told him that:

Gabriel … came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice… and said to me, “…Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.  After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. (Daniel 9:21-26)

We see that this is a prophecy of the coming of the ‘Anointed One’ (= Christ = Masih as we saw here). The angel Gabriel gave a timetable of when the Masih was to come. Gabriel said there would be a counting down that would begin with ‘the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem’. Though Daniel was given this message (around the year 537 BC) he did not live to see the start of this count-down.

The Issuing of the Decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem

In fact it was Nehemiah, who lived almost one hundred years after Daniel (PBUH), that saw the start of this countdown. He was the cup-bearer to the Persian Emperor Artaxerxes and thus lived in Susa which is in present-day Iran. See when he lived in the timeline above.  He tells us in his book that

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, … The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven,  and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”…

I also said to him, “… And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.  So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters…

I went to Jerusalem, … (Nehemiah 2:1-11)

This records the “issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” that Daniel had prophesied would one day come. And we see that it occurred in the 20th year of the Persian Emperor Artaxerxes, who is well-known in history as starting his reign in 465 BC. Thus his 20th year would place this decree in the year 444 BC. Gabriel had sent a message to the prophet Daniel (PBUH) and given a sign for the start of the countdown. Almost a hundred years later, the Persian Emperor, not knowing about this prophecy of Daniel, issues this decree – setting in motion the countdown that had been written would bring the Anointed One – the Masih.

The mysterious Sevens

The message of Gabriel given to the prophet Daniel indicated that it would take “seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’” and then the Masih would be revealed. So what is a ‘Seven’?  In the Taurat of Musa (PBUH) , there was a cycle of seven of years. Every 7th year the land was to rest from agriculture so that the soil could replenish its nutrients. So a ‘Seven’ is a 7-year cycle. With that in mind we see that from the issuing of the decree the countdown would come in two parts. The first part was ‘seven sevens’ or seven 7-year periods. This, 7*7=49 years, was the time it took to rebuild Jerusalem. This was followed by sixty-two sevens, so the total countdown was 7*7 + 62*7 = 483 years. In other words, from the issuing of the decree of Artaxerxes, there would be 483 years until the Masih was revealed.

360-day year

We have to make one little calendar adjustment. As many nations did in ancient times, the Jews used a year-length that was 360 days long. There are different ways to designate the length of a ‘year’ in a calendar. The western one (based on solar revolution) is 365.24 days long, and the Muslim one is 354 days (based on cycles of moon), and one that Daniel used was half-way at 360 days long. So 483 ‘360-day’ years is 483*360/365.24 = 476 solar years.

The Arrival of the Masih predicted to the year

With this information we can calculate when the Masih was supposed to come. We will go from the ‘BC’ era to the ‘AD’ era and there is only 1 year from 1BC – 1AD (There is no ‘zero’ year). The information for this calculation is summarized in the table

Start year 444 BC (20th year of Artaxerxes)
Length of time 476 solar years
Expected arrival in Western Calendar (-444 + 476 + 1) (‘+1’ because there is no 0 AD) = 33
Expected year 33 AD

Jesus of Nazareth came to Jerusalem riding on a donkey in what has become the well-known celebration of Palm Sunday. That day he announced himself and rode into Jerusalem as their Masih. The year was 33 AD.

The prophets Daniel and Nehemiah, though they did not know each other since they lived 100 years apart, were coordinated by Allah to receive prophecies and set in motion the countdown that would reveal the Masih. And about 570 years after the prophet Daniel received his message from Gabriel, Isa entered Jerusalem as the Masih. That is a very remarkable prophecy and precise fulfillment. Along with the prediction of the name of the Masih given by the prophet Zechariah, these prophets form a truly amazing group of predictions so that all those who want to know can see the plan of Allah unfold.

But if these prophecies of Zabur are so remarkable, and they are written in the Jewish Book – not the Injil – why do the Jews not accept Isa as the Masih? It is in their book! It should be obvious we think, especially with such precise and remarkably fulfilled predictions. It is in understanding why the Jews do not accept Isa as the Masih that we learn some further remarkable things about the coming of this One foretold by the prophets. We look at this question in the next article.

The Sign of The Branch: Coming Masih named

We have seen in the recent articles about the Zabur that Allah had promised a Coming Kingdom. This Kingdom would be different from human kingdoms. Look at the news today and see what happens in human kingdoms. Fighting, corruption, atrocities, killings, the strong exploiting the weak – this happens in all human kingdoms whether they be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or secular Western ones. The big problem in all these kingdoms is that we who live in them have a restless thirst as we saw with Prophet Jeremiah (PBUH) which leads us to sin and so many of these problems in all their various descriptions (i.e. corruption, killings, sexual harassments etc.) are really just the visible effects of sin so the major obstacle holding back the coming of this Kingdom is us. If Allah set up his new Kingdom right away none of us could enter it because our sin would ruin that Kingdom as much as we ruin the current kingdoms. Jeremiah (PBUH) also prophesied the day when Allah would set up a New Covenant. This Covenant would be new because it would be written in our hearts rather than on tablets of stone like the Law of Musa was. It would change us from the inside-out to make us fit to be citizens of this Kingdom.

How was this going to be done? The plan of Allah was like a hidden treasure. But a few clues in the messages of the prophets of Zabur were given so that those who were seeking this Kingdom would understand, but the rest who were not interested would remain ignorant. We look at these messages now. The plan centered on the coming Masih (which as we saw here = Messiah = Christ). We have seen already in the Psalms of Zabur (inspired by King Dawud) that the predicted Masih had to come from the line of King Dawud (see here to review this).

The Prophet Isaiah about the Tree, the Stump … and The Branch

The Prophet Isaiah (PBUH) revealed that this plan of Allah would happen in a roundabout way. Isaiah’s book in Zabur was written during the period of the Dawud/David’s Royal dynasty (ca 1000 – 600 BC). When it was written (750 BC) the dynasty and the entire Israelite kingdom was corrupt – due to the thirst of their hearts.

When Isaiah lived

Historical Timeline of Prophet Isaiah (PBUH) with some other prophets in Zabur

The dynasty of Dawud – like a Tree

Isaiah (PBUH) was inspired to write a plea for the Israelites to return to Allah and to the practice and spirit of the Law of Musa. Isaiah also knew that this repentance and return would not happen and so he predicted that the Israelite nation would be destroyed and the royal dynasty would be shattered. We saw here how this happened. In his prophesy he used a metaphor or image of the dynasty being like a great tree that would soon be cut down and only a stump would remain. This happened around 600 BC when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and since that time no descendant of King David/Dawud has ever ruled in Jerusalem.

The Tree – cut down

But along with all these prophecies of coming destruction in his book, came this special message:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Jesse was the father of King David/Dawud, and thus the root of his Dynasty. The ‘stump of Jesse’ was therefore a prophecy of the coming shattering and ending of the dynasty of kings from David/Dawud. But Isaiah, being a prophet, also saw past this time and predicted that though the stump (line of Kings) would look dead, it would not be totally so. One day in the future a shoot, known as the Branch, would emerge from that same stump he declared. This Branch is called a ‘him’ so Isaiah is prophesying about a coming man from the line of David. This man would have such qualities of wisdom, power, and knowledge it could only be from the very Spirit of God resting on him. Now remember how we saw that the Masih was also prophesied to come from the line of David – this was most important. The Branch and the Masih both from David/Dawud? Could this be two titles for the same coming person? Let’s keep exploring through the Zabur.

The Prophet Jeremiah … about the Branch

The prophet Jeremiah (PBUH), coming 150 years after Isaiah, when the dynasty of David was actually being cut down before his very eyes wrote:

The Prophet Jeremiah shown in Timeline with other Prophets of Zabur

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD our Righteousness”. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

Jeremiah (PBUH) directly continues from the Branch prophecy started by prophet Isaiah (PBUH) 150 years earlier. The Branch will be a King. We saw that the Masih was also to be a King. The similarity between the Masih and the Branch is growing.

The Prophet Zechariah … names The Branch

The prophet Zechariah (PBUH) continues the messages for us. He lived 520 BC, just after the Jewish people returned back to Jerusalem from their first expulsion into Babylon, but while they were being ruled by the Persians.

The Prophet Zechariah in Timeline with other prophets of Zabur

(Please do not confuse this Zechariah with Zakariyah the father of Yahya/John the Baptist. It is the same name but this prophet Zechariah lived 500 years before Zakariyah and in fact Zakariyah is named after this Zechariah, just like today there are many people named Mohamed and they are so named after the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)). At that time (520 BC) the Jewish people were working to rebuild their destroyed temple and re-institute the sacrifices of Harun (PBUH), brother of Musa (PBUH). The descendant of Harun who was the High Priest (and only a descendant of Harun could be a High Priest) at the time of the Prophet Zechariah was Joshua. So in that time (about 520 BC) Zechariah was the prophet and Joshua was the High Priest. Here is what Allah – through Zechariah – declared about the High Priest Joshua:

‘”Listen O High Priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. See the stone I have set in front of Joshua!” …, says the LORD Almighty, “and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day”.’ (Zechariah 3:8-9)

The Branch! Again! But this time he is also called ‘my servant’. And in some way the High Priest Joshua is symbolic of this coming Branch. The High Priest Joshua is thus a Sign. But in what way? And what does it mean that in ‘a single day’ the sins will be removed by the LORD (“I will remove…”)? We continue on in Zechariah and learn something astounding.

‘The word of the LORD came to me: “… [about] the high priest Joshua. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says, ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch … ’’ (Zechariah 6:9-10)

Notice that Joshua, his very name, is the name of the Branch. Remember what we learned about transliterations and translations of Hebrew into English. We read ‘Joshua’ here because we read an English translation. But what is the original name in Hebrew? The figure below tells us.

Joshua = Jesus because both are transliterations from same Hebrew name

Going from Quadrant 1 -> 3 (like we did in understanding where the title ‘Messiah’ or ‘Masih’ came from) we see that the name ‘Joshua’ is transliterated from the Hebrew name ‘Yhowshuwa’. This name is transliterated to ‘Joshua’ when the Old Testament is translated into English. Also remember that the Taurat/Zabur was translated into Greek around 250 BC. This is Quadrant 1 -> 2. These translators also transliterated the Hebrew name ‘Yhowshuwa’ when they translated the Old Testament into Greek. Their Greek transliteration was Iesous. Thus ‘Yhowshuwa’ of the Hebrew Old Testament was called Iesous in the Greek Old Testament. When the Greek New Testament is translated into English the name Iesous transliterates to ‘Jesus’. In other words, just like Masih=Messiah=Christ=Anointed One,

‘Yhowshuwa’ = Iesous = Joshua = Jesus (= Isa)

In the same way that the name Muhammad = محمد, Joshua = Jesus. What is amazing, which everyone deserves to know, is that 500 years before Isa al Masih, the Prophet of the Injil ever lived, it was predicted by the prophet Zechariah that the name of the Branch would be Jesus (or Isa – the transliteration from Arabic). Jesus (or Isa) is the Branch! The Branch and the Masih (or Christ) are two titles for the same person! But why would he need two different titles? What was he going to do that was so important? The prophets of Zabur now explain further in greater detail – in our next article on the Zabur.