It has long been recognized by innumerable Jews and Christians that the amazing prophecy given in Daniel 9:24–27 deals with the time of the coming of the Messiah. Yet despite this consensus, coming to agreement about precisely how to understand this passage has been an elusive goal. God inspired Daniel to record the prophecy in such a way that it appears to have been written with purposeful ambiguity, preventing its meaning from being understood for centuries. This should not surprise us, for the Lord Himself said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time" (Dan. 12:9, NASB). Yet at the same time, He intimated that a time would come when the words would be unsealed and understood. ABR staff member Richard Lanser heads up this project, having a conviction that the completion of the New Testament canon, together with the great advances in understanding both Scripture and the historical background of the Bible in the past century, have set the stage for this unsealing.
The goal of this project is to take a whole-Bible, plain-sense, biblical history-sensitive approach to the prophecies in Scripture generally, but most specifically those in the book of Daniel. By this approach we aim to demonstrate there is a single correct interpretation of the "Seventy Weeks" prophecy in Daniel 9:24–27. When this interpretation is identified, it will demonstrate the God-directed inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures by its perfect correspondence with the life of Christ. It will also provide a larger framework for us to understand Messianic chronology found in both fulfilled and yet-unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. This chronology includes, but is not limited to, the dates of the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, Herodian chronology, and the pattern of the sabbatical years of the Jews since the return from the Babylonian Captivity under Ezra. Once these things are confidently determined exegetically and with awareness of events in biblical history, we will be in a position to properly understand the prophecy of the "Seventy Weeks" of Daniel 9:24–27 without reading into it unjustified personal interpretations. We expect these insights to be possible because God has tied all of Scripture into a seamless whole, where one part interprets another, and in addition has preserved information from ancient history which allows key anchor points to be identified.
A framework will first be established in which to place the prophecies found in the book of Daniel. This will be done by performing a close reading of every prophetic book in both Testaments, including the book of Revelation, seeking to understand how they relate to and clarify each other. From this study will be obtained a broad yet detailed picture of what Scripture reveals about Messianic chronology. A "straightforward" grammatical-historical interpretive approach (taking the plain sense of Scripture as the best sense) will be adopted in developing this framework. The material derived from this study will be compiled in a document which will hopefully become the basis for a future book. An Excel spreadsheet will then be created from the compiled data, into which individually-verifiable facts will be placed so their interrelationships become apparent. Once this framework has been set up, it will facilitate the evaluation of proposed chronologies of the Crucifixion and the Herodian period promoted by various scholars, particularly their exegesis of Scriptures important to their views and their interpretations of details in the writings of Josephus and other sources of ancient history, to see if their interpretations hold up to close scrutiny.
Once the prophecy of Daniel 9:24–27 is fully investigated, it is hoped we will be in a position to develop a fuller view of Messianic chronology extending to the second coming of Christ, one that avoids the extremes to which less comprehensive approaches are prone and have unfortunately beset the study of eschatology for centuries.