The Coming Masih: In Signs of ‘Seven’

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.

 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 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 year444 BC (20th year of Artaxerxes)
Length of time476 solar years
Expected arrival in Western Calendar(-444 + 476 + 1) (‘+1’ because there is no 0 AD) = 33
Expected year33 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

Surah al-ahzab (Surah 33 – The Combined Forces) gives solutions for a common human situation – what to call someone when we do not know their name.

Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of God. But if ye know not their father’s (names, call them) your Brothers in faith, or your maulas. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surah al-ahzab 33:5)

This reminds us that human knowledge is limited – we often do not even know the names of the people around us.  Surah An-Najm (Surah 53 – The Star) discusses some idols common in the time of the Prophet Mohamed PBUH (Lat, ‘Uzza, and Manat) declaring:

These are nothing but names which ye have devised,- ye and your fathers,- for which God has sent down no authority (whatever). They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire!- Even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord! (Surah AN-Najm 53:23)

The names for the false gods were devised by mere people.  These ayat give a guideline for separating out false worship from the true.  Since we sometimes do not even know the names of the people around us, humans certainly cannot know the name of a prophet coming in the far future.  If the name of the Masih is given far ahead of time this would be a sign that this is a true plan of Allah’s and not one from something false.  We look here at how the name of the Branch is prophesied.

The Sign in a Name

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. Watch 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 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 the results of sin.  So the major obstacle holding back the coming of God’s Kingdom is us. If Allah set up his new Kingdom right now none of us could enter it because our sin would ruin that Kingdom as much as it ruins kingdoms today. 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 clues in the messages of Zabur were given so that those who were seeking His 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 how this plan of Allah would happen. 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
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)

The dynasty of Dawud (PBUH)- now a shoot emerges from the dead stump
The dynasty of Dawud (PBUH)- now a shoot emerges from the dead stump

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 destruction 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

(Do not confuse this Zechariah with Zakariyah the father of Yahya/John the Baptist. The 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-start 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 called 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.

The Coming Kingdom

The last Surah in the Quran, Surah An-Nas (114 – The Mankind) states that

Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, The King (or Ruler) of Mankind, (Surah An-Nas 114:1-2)

Allah is the Sovereign or King of Mankind.  If He is a King then there must be a Kingdom.  What is the Kingdom of God like? Surah al-Kawthar (Surah 108 – The Abundance) gives an answer.

To thee have We granted the Fount (of Abundance). (Surah al-Kawthar 108:1)

Since The King grants Abundance, His Kingdom must have in abundance.  But what kind of abundance?  It was revealed to the prophets of Zabur.

The prophet Isaiah (pbuh) had prophesied the coming Son of the Virgin which was fulfilled in the birth of Isa al Masih (pbuh) hundreds of years later. However, other prophecies in Zabur also predicted a coming time of peace and blessing.

In the History of the Israelites, the prophet and King Dawud (pbuh) was the first of a line of kings established by Allah to rule from Jerusalem. However, after Kings Dawud and Suleiman (pbut) most of the Kings were wicked. So living in their kingdom then was like living under the rule of the many dictators today; there was war and fighting between people and between nations – just like today; there was corruption and exploitation of the rich over the poor – just like today; there was death and misery all around – just like today. But the prophets of Zabur said that one day – in the future – a new rule would be established. This would be a Kingdom with justice, mercy, love, and peace.  The prophet Isaiah (pbuh) predicted how life would be in this rule.

He (Allah) will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation nor will they train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4)

No more war! This certainly is not true of our world today. But even more than peace between people, the prophecies even predict a change in natural ecology.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child will put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

This certainly has never taken place (yet). But the prophecies extend even further to lifespans and personal security.

“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat … my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox…” says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:20-25)

Security, peace, immediate answer of prayers… None of these prophecies have happened – yet. But they have been Spoken and Written down. Many think that there is perhaps some mistake in these hopeful prophecies – but the literal fulfillment of the Sign of the Virgin’s Son should make us take these prophecies seriously – and watch for their fulfillment.

The Kingdom of God

If we reflect we can understand why they have not occurred yet. These prophecies were declared in the context of the Kingdom of God – the rule of God in lives and affairs of people. Read another prophecy on the coming Kingdom of God

All you have made will praise you O LORD; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your Kingdom and speak of your might. So that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving towards all He has made. (Psalms 145:10-14)

This was a message given by the King and prophet Dawud (pbuh) around 1000 BC (see link here when Dawud & prophets of Zabur lived). This prophecy foresees a Day when, the Kingdom of God will rule. This Kingdom will have glory and splendor, and it will not be temporary like human kingdoms – it will be everlasting. This has not been brought about yet and that is why we have not yet seen these other prophecies of peace come about – because this peace comes with the Kingdom of God.

Another prophet in the Zabur, Daniel (pbuh) who lived about 550 BC in Babylon as part of the Israelite exile there, explained further how this Kingdom would be established.

When Daniel (pbuh) lived
When Prophet Daniel (pbuh) lived compared to other prophets of Zabur

Daniel (pbuh) interpreted dreams sent by Allah to the Babylonian king to prophesy the future unfolding of kingdoms through history. Here is how Daniel interpreted a dream of this king of Babylon.

… The God of heaven has given you (i.e. king of Babylon in 550 BC) dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. …After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—…so it will crush and break all the others. … In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands…. Daniel 2: 36-45

This kingdom starts out small (‘a rock cut out of a mountain’) but will eventually rule forever, like the prophecy from Dawud (pbuh) above. So why is Allah establishing His Kingdom so slowly? Why is it taking so long? Why has it not come about yet? When you think about it, all kingdoms have the following components:

  • A King or ruler
  • Citizens
  • A Constitution or Law
  • Nature

So for example, in Canada, where I live, as a Kingdom. Canada has a ruler – which today is Justin Trudeau our elected Prime Minister. Canada has citizens – of which I am one. Canada also has a constitution or law which determines the rights and responsibilities of all its citizens. Canada also has a nature, in this case it is located in a certain part of the earth which gives it a certain physical size, climate, natural resources etc. All countries and Kingdoms, past and present, have these four components.

You and I are invited to the Kingdom of God

This is also true of the Kingdom of God. We have already seen from the prophecies above that this Kingdom will have a special Nature (glorious and everlasting) and a Constitution (of peace, fairness, harmony in nature etc.). It is the other two components that make the Kingdom of God possible: its King and its citizens. We look at the King in the next article. In the meantime you may want to ask yourself if you would want to be a citizen in this Kingdom of God. Here is how the prophet Isaiah (pbuh), through his message, invites all people who would want to be citizens in This Kingdom.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! … without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David… Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:1-6)

Allah is inviting all those who are ‘thirsty’ for this Kingdom to come to it, and the love given to the ancient king Dawud (pbuh) will also be extended to all those who come for it. If you have an invitation to come to something that means you do not yet have it.  But the fact that Allah invites us, means that He wants us to become citizens in His Kingdom and live in this rule of peace. So at this point we have many questions of ‘how’ and ‘when’ regarding the coming of this Kingdom which we will continue to look at in further articles about the Zabur.  But there is one question that only you can answer: ‘Do I want to be in this Kingdom?’