Cycles in the History of Israel

Daniel’s 70 Weeks (490 years) gives a major clue that God determines and measures the redemptive history of Israel in Cycles of 490 years which equates to 70 Sabbatical Years.. In particular, it defines the last of these Cycles as running from the Ezra Decree to restore Jerusalem (458 BC) to Messiah’s sacrificial atoning Death and Resurrection (AD 33).

Matthew 18:21,22 implies there is something special about seventy times seven times:

Matthew 18:21  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

This passage links 490 with forgiveness. If this conclusion is correct, the Cycle of 490 years is a Forgiveness Cycle (seventy times seven years) as well as a Great Jubilee Cycle (ten jubilees 10 times 49 years). The concept of a Forgiveness Cycle and that of a Great Jubilee Cycle both symbolize God’s Mercy and Grace, so that we would expect these Great Forgiveness Cycles to start and end with great national events of forgiveness, release and restoration. And indeed God has intervened at these times in grace and power, forgiving the past, restoring the nation of Israeland giving them a new start. Thus a Great Jubilee would bring to an end the previous cycle of 490 years, and  open a new Cycle of 490 years.

Is this borne out in Israel’s history?


In the history of Israel, there were not one or two but four Great Jubilee Cycles! In other words, Israel had a national Jubilee every 490 years. Even those are not Biblical in the strictest sense since, with the exception of Daniel 9, they’re really a commentator’s observations on Scripture rather than Scripture itself.

The outpouring of grace at these times demonstrated God’s forgiveness of the past and His blessing for the future.

Thus God has structured time across Israel’s history with a demonstration of what He means by Jubilee: Forgiveness and full Salvation through the Blood of the Atoning Sacrifice (see Leviticus 25).

God set apart 4 distinct units of 490 years, and determined these 4 Great Jubilee Cycles to form the framework for Israel’s history. He fulfilled His purpose through these Cycles.

The Grace given at these key times were Sovereign interventions of God in Israel’s history, where He imparted His Grace and advanced  His Purposes. Each Cycle culminated in a Divine Intervention of Grace, took God’s Plan into its next major phase. Thus the very time structure of Israel’s history demonstrates God’s Sovereign Grace.

The 4 Great Jubilee Redemption Cycles of 490 years then appear to be:

  1. From the Birth of Abram to the Exodus (Israel’s first Great Jubilee).
  2. From the Exodus to the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple.
  3. From the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple to the Decree to Restore Jerusalem. At the close of these 490 years was a DECREE by the Persian Emperor Artaxerxes Restore Jerusalem (Ezra 7). In response to this Decree were the efforts of Ezra and Nehemiah to return and rebuild the City of Jerusalem and Israel’s national life. Thus at this Jubilee they were restored to make a fresh start as a nation.
  4.  Decree to Restore Jerusalem to the Death and Resurrection of Christ. This is the period described by Daniel’s 70 Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) This is the final cycle for Israel before Messiah comes to establish His Kingdom.

Any years when Israel was out of fellowship with God, when they were not under His Forgiveness, are not reckoned, and so are not included in the 490 Forgiveness years.

  • Thus from Abraham’s Birth to the Exodus is actually 505 years, but when you take off the 15 unreckoned years from Ishmael’s conception to Isaac’s Birth, that leaves 490 years.
  • From the Exodus to Solomon’s Temple is actually 621 years, but during the times of the Judges, for 131 years Israel was in Servitude to other nations due to sin: 621-131=490 years!
  • From the Temple to the Decree was 560 years, but for 70 years they were in Captivity in Babylon: 560 – 70 = 490!
  • From the Decree to Restore Jerusalem to the Death and Resurrection of the period described by Daniel’s 70 Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) This is the final cycle for Israel before Messiah comes to establish His Kingdom.



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