Many times in the Qur’an, we see that Allah uses cycles in seven. For example, Surah at-Talaq (Surah 65 – The Divorce) states
God is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number. Through the midst of them (all) descends His Command: that ye may know that God has power over all things, and that God comprehends, all things in (His) Knowledge. (Surah at-Talaq 65:12)
And Surah An-Naba (Surah 78 – The Tidings) says
And (have We not) built over you the seven firmaments, (Surah An-Naba 78:12)
It should not surprise us then that the timing of the coming of the Masih was also given in sevens, as we see below.
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.
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.
We have to make one little calendar adjustment. As many nations did in ancient times, the prophets 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.