Prophecy of the Magi|
Greatest Prophecy Ever Told
Many of us know the traditional story of the Magi, or Kings of the East, who came to celebrate and give gifts to the newborn baby king in Bethlehem.
But, many of us do not know that the same angel Gabriel who told the virgin Mary and Zechariah about the births of Jesus and John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-38), also announced the specific date of the Messiah's Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem 500 years before it happened! The Old Testament prophet, Daniel, one of the earlier Magi from centuries before, received this incredible prophecy from the angel Gabriel around 500 B.C. (See Daniel 8:15-26, 9:21-27).
Dead Sea Scrolls Corroborate Ancient Dating of Daniel
One question that often comes up: How do we know for sure that the book of Daniel was written hundreds of years before Christ?
1. In 1947 the book of Daniel was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Sophisticated dating techniques such as Radiocarbon dating, paleography and orthography prove those ancient documents were written centuries before Christ appeared on earth.
2. Daniel's book, originally penned in Hebrew and Aramaic, had already been translated into the Greek Septuagint version nearly three centuries before the birth of Jesus.
3. Jesus Himself affirmed Daniel as a prophet in Matthew 24:15. While scholars might quibble about writing styles or historical dates, few of us would argue with our Lord.
The ancient dating of Daniel is a solid fact.
Daniel - Chief of the Magi
Missler notes that "one of the titles given to Daniel was Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi…Daniel apparently entrusted a messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a 'star') to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment" (2003, 2).
Centuries later the apostle Luke wrote, "wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him" (2:1-3).
Those wise men coming to worship the baby, descended from Daniel's ancient Persian sect. They knew exactly when the Messiah King would enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, 32 A.D.
Let's briefly explore how and why. But, be sure to examine the references for yourself.
Most Astonishing Prophecy in World History
Living six centuries before Christ's birth, Daniel penned the angel Gabriel's prophecy in 537 B.C. He meticulously wrote that the arrival of the Jewish Messiah would occur exactly 173,880 days from the time a legal decree would be given to the Jews to completely rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25).
History records that this specific decree was actually declared by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 B.C.! (Sir Robt. Anderson  1957, 121; Nehemiah 2:1-20).
When we carefully examine the time between March 14, 445 B.C. and A.D. 32 and remember to include 360-day Jewish years and leap years, we discover that it is exactly 173,880 days! It comprised a total of 490 years - written in a Hebrew idiom as "weeks of years" determining when the Anointed One would appear (Dan. 9:25-26).
Perhaps the prophecy is stated most clearly in the New Living Translation:
"Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler - the Anointed One - comes. …After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed…" (Daniel 9:25a - 9:26:a).
This is when Jesus traveled to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, 32 A.D., for the last time. But, the Wise Men were tipped-off to arrive in Bethlehem thirty-two years earlier due to prophecies like Micah 5:2 and the spectacular, miraculous nature of the star precisely locating the infant.
No other prophecy in world history matches this one. This Christmas season we joyously celebrate the birth of our Messiah knowing that He alone fulfilled the greatest prophecy ever told.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
"For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given: and
the government shall be
upon His shoulder: and His
name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, The
Mighty God, The Everlasting
Father, The Prince of Peace."
Anderson, Sir Robert. 1954. The Coming Prince. 10th. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel. [Orig. pub. 1895].
MacArthur, John. 1978. Who were the wise men? (Transcript). Available from gty.org.
Missler, Chuck. 2003. Who were the Magi? http://www.khouse.org/articles/2003/497/print/
…2002. Daniel 9. In: Missler, Learn the Bible in 24 hours.
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 108-112; 185.
Morris, Henry M. When they saw the star. Institute for Creation Research. Available from: www.icr.org.
Zukeran, Patrick. The Dead Sea Scrolls shed light on the accuracy of our Bible. Available from: www.probe.org.
(Valorie Emilio holds an MA in history from UCLA focusing upon Christian origins).