Can you prove Daniel 9 is about Jesus?
The word “prove” has a range of meaning. In a mathematics class or in a philosophy class it has the meaning of demonstrating with absolutely certainty that a particular proposition must be true. It is like proving the angles of an equilateral triangle are equal. In that sense we cannot prove that the prophecy in Daniel 9 is about Jesus. If we could ask the author himself if this was his intention we could come close to this, but even then, someone might argue that the author is not being honest.
Another sense of “prove” is one used, for example in a court room. A good standard for establishing that a verse has a particular interpretation or that a prophecy is fulfilled in a certain way is the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It is my strong opinion that we can prove in this second sense that Daniel 9:24-26 is about Jesus of Nazareth. First of all, there is the context of the vision, which is found in Daniel 9:1-3 in which Daniel pleaded with the Lord to answer his request to come and save his people. Of course, this does not point unequivocally to the death of Jesus in AD 30. In fact, Daniel was asking about God’s promise to save his people after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, as described in Jeremiah 25. However, if we move to Daniel 9:24-26. Here we see that salvation is indeed coming to Jerusalem, but that it will come seventy sevens after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This decree is found in Ezra 6. It was given in the seventh year of Persian king Artaxerxes, which is 458 BC. The seventy sevens are years, because Jeremiah was asking about years. Besides, given that Jesus died in Jerusalem almost exactly 490 years after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, the interpretation is more obvious. (By the way, there is the subtlety of the fact that the Messiah is to come to Jerusalem after seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. In other words the coming of the Messiah to save God’s people is during the last week, which is somewhere between 26 and 33 AD).
Let us move from the date of the fulfillment to the details of the prophecy. Daniel was told that at the time of the fulfillment of the seventy weeks, that God’s people would “finish transgression, put and end to sin, atone for wickedness, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up prophecy and anoint the Most Holy. The word anoint here is Messiach–messiah. According to the prophecy it is about one who will atone for sin and be anointed as Messiah. Later, in verse 25 this figure is called the Anointed One, the ruler. We are then told that this ruler will be put to death. If this is not a reference to the Messiah, then who is it a reference to? It strains credulity to assign this prophecy to anyone other than the Messiah. The fact that Jesus did indeed come to Jerusalem and die for sins during the last seventy weeks is the “kicker.” To me, the only to deny that this is about Jesus is to choose to do so before one considers the evidence.
So, it is my opinion that we can “prove” beyond a reasonable doubt that Daniel 9 is about Jesus of Nazareth, but, like I said, whether this is proved by the evidence depends on one’s definition of “proof.” To me, personally, it is a slam dunk.