The Old Testament

Concordia Self Study CommentaryI started out last April 4 to try and work my way through blogging about the Bible. The whole thing. From Creation to the very end in Revelation. Wherever possible, I introduced anything I know about how science and archeology are in agreement with the Bible.

I finished the Old Testament on March 3rd last week with Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.

new-answers-book-1Regarding Creation, I drew heavily from Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1. Ken is the founder of The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, both in Kentucky just over the river from Cincinnati. His whole ministry is based on the importance of Genesis and taking it as the truth.

DNA Pirates CoverI also made use of DNA: Pirates of the Sacred Spiral by Leonard Horowitz. His book is not directly about Creation, but there are some interesting scientific facts contained in it that shed some light on the Creation account in Genesis. The book is out of print, but is still in high demand. My used copy cost me about $60, and it was a bargain! I’ve seen mint copies going for as high as $200! Horowitz is an accomplished scientist who is also a Christian. You can find talks by him on YouTube.

Exodus CaseI relied almost completely on The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Moller in discussing the Book of Exodus. Dr. Moller is a research biologist with the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. He used his scientific skills to test the hypothesis that The Exodus happened exactly as related in the Biblical book of Exodus. He investigated a number of archeologic finds that precisely mirror the Biblical account. He is thorough, and does an excellent job of distinguishing between facts and theories.

The Mystery of the ShemitahThe last signal event of the Old Testament is the Babylonian Exile. Rabbi Jonathon Kahn’s two books, The Mystery of the Shemitah and The Harbinger both provided me with some great background material regarding the Shemitah and its direct importance to the Babylonian Exile. The main thrust of his books is dealing with the religious implications of our own 9/11, but they both gave me an awakening regarding this virtually unknown observance commanded by God. Most simply, the Shemitah is to years what the Sabbath is to days. It occurs every 7 years.

This is what determined Israel’s time in Babylon: 70 years. That’s one year for every Shemitah Israel neglected. There were other things that helped bring on that punishment too, but the Shemitah is the pivotal factor.

In fact, the Babylonian Exile occupies the decided majority of the Old Testament. Out of the 39 Old Testament books, 17 are about the Babylonian Exile! The prophets are ALL related to the Exile, whether prophesying and warning the Israelites about it or trying to guide them through it. All of the prophets speak of punishment, but they also point to the ultimate victory God had in mind with Jesus.

agents-of-babylon-2The Book of Daniel is a pretty tough book to understand without a very good knowledge of languages and ancient history.  Fortunately, I was introduced to Agents of Babylon by Dr. David Jeremiah.  I essentially wrote an entire series on Daniel based on that book.  I highly recommend it!

Daniel is a preview of world history until the end of time as it intersects with the history of Israel.  There are several important prophecies that help us understand revelation, starting with King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the Colossus.

With the Old Testament finished, the New testament looms. I am not completely sure how to treat it at this point, so I’ll beg for some patience. It isn’t structured quite the same as the Old Testament. There is no grand arc of history as there was in the Old Testament. Everything in it happened within a few years. While the books of the Old testament span about 6000 years, the New Testament books cover less the 100.

In the meantime, I invite you to go back to the beginning on April 4, 2018 with Creation – Let There Be Light, if you haven’t been with me the whole time.

Thank you very much for visiting and giving me a read. I hope you find what I do here useful!  Look for a very short contemplation every morning on a daily Bible verse too.

In Christ, Jeff

Daniel – Last Talk With the Angels

agents-of-babylon-2Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.   Daniel 12:7

Daniel asked one last question of the angel who was in the air above the Tigris River where Daniel stood: “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” Verse 7 above is his answer.

First, while not specified in scripture, this would seem to be Gabriel. Daniel had met him earlier on the banks of the Tigris. Gabriel is, after all, a messenger angel. I had thought perhaps it might be Jesus, who seems to have shown Himself pre-incarnate in the Old Testament. However, the angel’s gesture toward heavens would be more in line with an angel, so we’re back to Gabriel.

In ancient times, raising one hand toward heaven indicated the seriousness of what the person said. The angel raised both hands and swore by God the words he said. He said that the fulfillment will be “for a time, times, and half a time.”

A “time” equals one unit, “times” equals two, and “half a time” equals, of course, half a unit. So the time of the atrocities of the Antichrist will be three and one half years. Recall that the Antichrist will make a pact of peace with Israel for seven years, but he will renege on that treaty halfway in.

Revelation, which expands upon Daniel’s prophecies, cites in chapter six verse two of a 42 month period during which the holy city will be trod underfoot. Rev 12:6 and 14 speak of the woman who fled into the wilderness for 1200 plus three score days; 1260. That equals 3.5 prophetic years of 360 days per year. Rev 13:5 declares the length of time the Antichrist will hold sway as 42 months; 3.5 years.

The last part of Gabriel’s prophecy is that the dire events would last as long as it takes “the power of the holy people” to be shattered, for the Jews to be broken.

Daniel wanted to know more, but Gabriel told him simply that it was not for him to know, but for those who would live in those times. Daniel was left, however, the assurance of the Jews ultimate, glorious future after the Tribulation.

I found one last note in Dr. David Jeremiah’s summary chapter regarding a phrase many might know:

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

My interpretation along with many others was that this is happening now with the internet; knowledge is increasing although wisdom is not. Dr. Jeremiah’s interpretation is based on his understanding of Jewish idioms. The phrase refers to the idea of people eyes going back and forth, studying the written word. People will be reading and rereading the Bible and the prophecies of Daniel when things start to happen and people can recognize prophecy being fulfilled. That is the increase in knowledge referred to. This makes good sense, because it is the last part of the sentence, which instructs Daniel to “shut up” or preserve the words of prophecy for future understanding.

Much has been written about the number of the Beast; 666. Speculations abound. People focus on it, because they don’t have the understanding of all prophecy. It is comforting to know that there will be such unmistakable signs as described in the prophecies Daniel received. Perhaps understanding “666” will help those who can understand it have an earlier warning than the signs revealed in Daniel.

Like Daniel, we can rest easy, knowing that all will end well. We will be able to prepare physically when we start seeing things happen. We’ve been given good warning.

Meanwhile, we must continue to live our lives as Jesus commanded, loving God with all our being and our neighbors as ourselves as we watch for the signs to come as Jesus warned in Mathew 24.

Daniel – The Conclusion, Part 1

agents-of-babylon-2At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.  And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.    Daniel 12:1

Thus begins chapter 12 and the prophecy of Israel’s deliverance.  Michael, as noted previously in this series, is the angel noted for his fighting abilities.  Events culminate with Michael’s final victory over Satan as recorded in Revelation 12:7-9.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan still had access to heaven and God.  We know this from Job 1:6.

god satan talk job

God & Satan Discuss Job

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.

This was the beginning of the discussion about Job.  The main point for our purposes now is that Satan had not yet been cast out of heaven.  He was still allowed in despite his treachery.  Michael is “let off the chain” to cast out Satan and his own forever.

This is the beginning of the Great Tribulation on earth as that great dragon unleashes his frustration and fury upon the world, Israel in particular.  The prophet Zechariah says,

“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your [a]spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

Jeremiah echoes this with his own prophecy:

tribulation“For thus says the Lord: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, Of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.’”    30:5-7

Note that both times Israel is assured of salvation.  Daniel agrees with this when he foretells that many of those buried in the earth will rise, some to eternal life and some to eternal contempt.  It will all be a matter of who they had chosen in life.

Dr. David Jeremiah writes in his Agents of Babylon, “God will use the Tribulation to sift the faithful Jews from those who are unfaithful.  Those left will be a righteous nation that will reign with Him for 1000 years in His kingdom on earth.”

Among the faithful will be “the wise.”

Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.    Daniel 12:3

Dr. Jeremiah points out that the Hebrew term in this context describes teachers and interprets it as those who rise up during the Tribulation to instruct and encourage and strengthen God’s people through that unspeakable horror.  Those who bravely do this job have their own reward from God!

As we draw closer to those end times we can be thankful that God has begun to open the minds of people to see what Daniel wrote about.  We likely know more now about what Daniel wrote than he himself!  We have factual history to draw on while Daniel could only describe an unfamiliar future involving cultures and even technologies that were beyond his ability to describe.

I want to say at this time that Dr. Jeremiah has given us his interpretation of the Book of Daniel and more.  Some might disagree with his writings, but I find his message to ring true.  He makes solid connections with ancient history and other Biblical writings, allowing scripture to interpret scripture, which is the gold standard.

NEXT – Daniel’s final discussion with Angels

Daniel and His Last Vision

agents-of-babylon-2Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand…Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”    Daniel 10:12, 14

This final vision adds to Daniel’s previous vision of the Colossus.  To quote from Agents of Babylon by Dr. David Jeremiah, it…

…deals with the rise and fall of empires, with alliances and intrigues, with the marching of armies, with imperial ambitions and palace plots.

Let’s take a look at the kings who so precisely fit the prophecy Daniel received.

cyrus-the-greatAHASUERUS – Also known to us as Xerxes, the king who warred with Sparta and the stand of 300 Spartans at the Hot Gates.  Daniel 11:2 predicted “Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.”

He was the king at the time of Esther.  That biblical book tells us that he reigned over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia.

alexander_statue1ALEXANDER – Introduced as the goat which would defeat the ram in an earlier prophecy.  Daniel 11:3 foretells “A mighty king shall arise, who will rule with great dominion and do according to his will.”  He eventually would control the entire known world from Europe to India.  Accomplished all of it by age 32; certainly a man of great dominion who did whatever he willed.

History records that he wept in his tent when he had accomplished all, because there were “no more worlds to conquer.”  He became a drunk and carouser.  His death at such a young age is a mystery, although theories include dying of acute alcoholism.

Daniel 11:4 predicts that his kingdom would be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, “but not among his posterity.”  Indeed, there were only two blood relatives who could have inherited his empire; a retarded brother and an illegitimate son.  Both were murdered within months of Alexander’s death.  His kingdom was split between his four generals.

Only Egypt and Syria rose to prominence, with Syria north of Israel and Egypt to the south.

antiochus iiiANTIOCHUS THE GREAT/THE THIRD – He gave his daughter, Cleopatra, aged 11 to Ptolemy’s son Ptolemy IV in a gambit to have her as his inside agent and help him defeat Egypt.  That didn’t work out when Cleopatra sided with her husband against her father.

Antiochus tried to attack Egypt, but was turned back by the Roman army.  When he returned home he tried to steal the treasures of his own temple to Jupiter, sufficiently enraging his own people against him that they murdered him.  His body was never found.  Consider how well this fulfills the prophecy in Daniel 11:18-19:

After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

Antiochus-EpiphaniesANTIOCHIS EPIPHANUS – We learned of him earlier.  It was he who set up the original abomination of desolation, which is the pattern after which the Antichrist will act.  Daniel 11:21 predicts him thusly:

And in his place (Antiochus III) shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

Antiochus Epiphanes did indeed finagle his way into power with bribes.  He then stirred up war with the kingdom to the south, Egypt.  When he lost that conflict, he took out his rage on Israel, raping and murdering woman and slaughtering their children on sight.  He then erected a statue of Zeus on their temple and defiled it with a pig sacrifice, throwing its blood all over the inside of the temple…the original abomination of desolation.

THE ANTICHRIST – The four kings above have come and gone.  The last is yet to come.  Earlier prophecy in Daniel describes who is.  This last prophecy tells us what he does;

  • He does whatever he wants
  • He elevates himself as a god above all other gods.
  • He will deliberately and pointedly blaspheme the one, true God.
  • He will disregard all religion.
  • He will be focused on his own military.
  • He will attack other countries.
  • He will repulse attacks against him and defeat his enemies early on.
  • He will accumulate much wealth.
  • He will eventually be defeated, not by men, and no one will help him.

There will be a great world war, which God will end before all humanity is destroyed.  Then will begin Jesus’ 1000 year reign.

I am amazed how well these historical figures fulfilled Daniel’s vision!  I also find this so comforting!  I’ve lived most of my life believing that there’s just no way to tell when Jesus will come again.  Indeed, no one knows the day or hour, but Daniel gives us the signs to discern the “season” of world events.  We have a map to tell us where we’re going.

It’s called The Book of Daniel.

Daniel and the Archangel

Please accept my apologies for not posting any articles over this past weekend.  I had whatever nasty bug has been going around and was in no shape to write!  I might have just given you several paragraphs of typos!

Thank you for your patience and staying with me!

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agents-of-babylon-2“Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”    Daniel 10:12-14

Daniel had seen a vision which he did not understand other than the news was very bad!  He prayed for understanding and suffered under the weight of the horror he had witnessed.  The archangel finally appeared with the words above.

Princes are what angels are usually called in the Bible, whether fallen and demonic or still faithful to the great, true God.  The (demonic) prince of Persia tangled him up for three weeks – the same amount of time Daniel had suffered, waiting for a reply from God.

Enoch-Sakach-Ph-D-9780934917056First, this passage indicates that the world is divided geographically amongst the fallen princes.  The Book of Enoch agrees with this reading.  It describes the “Fallen Watchers” who look over the earth. Watchers are a class of angel created to, well, watch.  They were to keep tabs on earth and report to God, managing their territory.  The fallen Watchers maintain their territories, only now they work for Satan and do their best to feed us to that “roaring lion” who seeks to devour us.

Briefly, the Book of Enoch is not scriptural.  It is viewed by some as being historical.  I’ve read it several times and haven’t seen anything that seems to disagree with Scripture.  One big reason I’m willing to consider its content is that it is one of the documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  If you want to read my short series on the Book of Enoch, start here.

This episode also teaches us that there are different classes of angels.  The angel that visited Daniel, while not named in this chapter, gives every indication of being Gabriel, who first came in an earlier chapter.  Even his greeting to Daniel is the same.  He’s an archangel and the only one in scripture so called.  The title means the one who is first and foremost.

michael fighting lucifer bronzeI’ll call Michael a “warrior” angel.  His Biblical appearances usually involve fighting and protecting.  Daniel 10 names him both as “one of the chief princes” and “your (Daniel’s) prince.”  The latter indicates that Michael is dedicated to Daniel and his people, the Israelites.  Again, we see a separation of responsibilities and roles.  Some are divided by job type, some by geography, and some by who they look after.

This makes sense when we consider God gives a role to every one of His creatures.  Men and women have their respective roles.  Each animal plays a part in the web of life on earth.

Another thing to take away from this is that God does indeed answers our prayers!  We just don’t always see the answers as soon as we like.  Perhaps God decides to make us wait.  Perhaps He sends an angel to our side to do what needs done, but that angel can be delayed as was Gabriel.

Which brings us to the very real point that there is a spiritual war going on all around us all of the time!  I’ve mentioned this before, and it certainly bears repeating.  Christianity is not all sunshine and fields of flowers.  Sometimes hard work needs to be done.  Jesus did more than anyone.  Michael had to come to Gabriel’s aid to release him to Daniel.  Even then, Michael had his hands full and needed Gabriel’s quick return to help him!

We’re in a war, my friends.  We need to be well-read in the battle plan otherwise known as the Bible!  Otherwise we simply make ourselves helpless before Satan’s demons.  We God’s angels at a disadvantage we aren’t tuned in well enough to at least practice a little self-defense.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

NEXT TIME – Gabriel explains the vision.

Daniel – The Conclusion of Chapter 9

agents-of-babylon-2“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that [e]it is near—at the doors!    Mathew 24:32-33

The last article about the metrics of Daniel’s prophecy is best reviewed and summarized by the diagram below.  The biggest thing to remember is that “weeks” in our English translations is a bad translation of the Hebrew word which is literally “sevens.”  Knowing that will help reading the diagram immensely!

daniels prophecy diagramLet’s next remind ourselves of the six events Gabriel said would happen in Israel’s time:

Messiah Prince was cut off   This is certainly what happened on the Cross.  He was indeed cut off, having nothing.  He even endured complete separation from His Father in our place – “My God, My God!  Why have You forsaken Me?”

The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple  This happened in AD 70, forty years after the Crucifixion.  Four Roman legions came to do the job.  The general in charge, Titus Vespasian, gave orders to leave the Temple alone, but the story goes that an over-excited soldier threw a torch inside, igniting the curtains.  The story continues that the soldiers, having heard of the stories of the riches there, literally left no stone unturned, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy.

The man of sin  The Antichrist will come into the world.

The Antichrist will “confirm a covenant with many for one week.”  Daniel 9:27  He will make a treaty with Israel that is supposed to be good for seven years.  This is the key to understanding when the current “unreckoned time” ends and the Tribulation is at hand.  Recall that “week” is “sevens”, meaning seven years.  Gabriel warns that

He will break the treaty midweek  That is, he will break the treaty midweek, or after three and a half years.  The next three and a half years will be the Great Tribulation that Jesus described in Mathew 24:21 and that is described in detail in Revelation chapters 4-19.

The Abomination of Desolation  This is the final desecration of Jerusalem in the manner of Antiochus Epiphanes but worse.

Let’s see Mathew 24 for what Jesus tells us about that time:

abomination of desolation15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

After that, Jesus returns for the 1000 year reign.  We won’t know exactly when that will happen, but we have the signs to watch for, and Jesus indeed warned us to watch!

The last sentence of verse 22 above is very important for those who think they will be “raptured out” and not have to face the tribulation.  The days would not have to be shortened for the elects sake, if they were already gone!  When the Tribulation starts, and the people who believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture are still here, I am sure their faith will be sorely tested as they wonder why they aren’t gone!

There are a few things we can take from all of this.  Number one is that we can rest assured that God is in control!  Having seen how some of Daniel’s prophecies have already come true, we can calm ourselves knowing how things will play out right until Jesus comes again!

Number two is that we need to get ready now!  NOW!!  If anyone thinks that have time and will start getting themselves squared away when the Antichrist becomes apparent, they are being foolish.  First, how do they know they won’t die somehow before then?  Second, the Tribulation will be of world-ending violence, cut short for the sake of the elect.  Even the prepared faithful wouldn’t survive without God’s intervention.  Accept Jesus now and spend this time increasing your strength in His Word!!

Finally, do we want our friends and family to enter into that time unprepared?  Do we want to give them the same chance to survive the Antichrist that we’ve been given?  What can you do to help them?

Prayer is the first order of business before anything else, for none of us can do anything outside of God’s power.  Live your life and let the light of God shine through you.  That is a better witness than words, although words are useful.  No one will hear your words, if your action don’t earn the right for their attention!

These are the signs we’ve been given so that we can watch as Jesus said:

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!

Daniel – The Metrics of the Prophecy

agents-of-babylon-2Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.   Daniel 9:24

As noted in the last article, measuring time can be confusing, because the prophetic calendar referenced in Daniel’s time was a lunar calendar of 360 days. We now use a solar calendar of 365 days. Calendars and the length of the year has been a huge point of controversy over the eons. Add to that the translation problem involving the Hebrew word that translates literally as “sevens” but was translated into English as “weeks.”

There’s a lot to wade through in trying to understand Daniel! I’m just thankful for Dr. David Jeremiah’s work in unravelling the confusion in his Agents of Babylon!

So the seventy weeks in the verse above is actually “seventy sevens” or 490 years. He tells Daniel that those years of the prophecy begin with the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. If we can get the start date right, we have something to go on.

cyrus-the-great

Cyrus the Great

There were four decrees made regarding the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. First – Cyrus gave a decree in 538 BC to rebuild the Temple. This is recorded in Ezra 1:1-4 and 5:13-17. This decree, however, is only for the Temple and not the city. Ezra 6:1-12 records the decree of Darius issuing the second orders to rebuild the Temple, but only the Temple. Artaxerxes also issued a decree to rebuild the Temple only in 458 BC.

There is the fourth, also issued by Artaxerxes and pertains to Jerusalem and the Temple. Nehemiah 1:1-4 and 2:1-8 record the decree, and Nehemiah 2:1 tells us the exact date it was given:

“…in the month of Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes the king.”

According to Dr. Alva J. McClain quoted by Dr. Jeremiah;

“The date fixed by Nehemiah happens to be one of the best-known dates in ancient history. Even the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica…sets the date of Artaxerxes accession as 465 BC; and therefore his twentieth years would be 445 BC. The month was Nisan, and since no date is given, according to Jewish custom the date would be understood as the first.”

Nisan 1, 445 BC converts to our calendar as March 14, 445 BC, and is then the date of the command to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem” per Daniel 9:25.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;

Messiah the Prince is a Hebrew phrase that means “the anointed One, the Ruler,” which obviously refers to Jesus. But to what point in Jesus’ life does the prophecy refer; his birth, his death?

triumphal entryThe event that seems to make the most sense is Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem when He is presented to the Jews as the Messiah. Recall the palm branches that were laid on the road before him, an honor accorded kings. Even riding on a donkey into a city was a royal act. Indeed Zechariah 9:9 foretold a day when their king would enter Jerusalem “on a donkey.”

Again, Dr. Alva J. McClain explains it:

“The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks has an immense evidential value as a witness to the truth of Scripture…Only an omniscient God could have foretold over five hundred years in advance the very day on which the Messiah would ride into Jerusalem and present Himself as the ‘Prince’ of Israel.”

So how have scholars done the math? The “Weeks” (sevens) indicate years. The length of the prophetic year is 360 days. Those prophetic years began on March 14, 445 BC. Gabriel spoke of 69 weeks of years or 69 times 7. Multiply by that by 360 days per year, and the math looks like this:

69 X 7 X 360 = 173,880 (days)

Recall that Gabriel doesn’t come right out and say “69 weeks,” but makes a division of first 7 weeks and then 62 weeks. He told Daniel that the first seven weeks (49 years) was the time during which Jerusalem would be rebuilt “even in troublesome times.” Jerusalem was indeed rebuilt, including the restoration of the Temple, in 49 years. Those weeks – and the rebuilding finished in 396 BC.

After that come the 62 remaining weeks (434 years) after which the “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

In other words, Jesus was rejected – and crucified – by his own. After that, as Jesus Himself predicted, Jerusalem would be destroyed (by Rome) with not one stone left on another. As John put it in his Gospel, chapter 1, verse 11, “(He) came to His own, and His own knew Him not.”

That was the close of the 69th week, but remember that there would by seventy weeks “…determined for your people and for your holy city.”

That begins what some have come to call unreckoned time. According to Dr. Jeremiah;

“God reckons time with the Jews only when He is dealing with them nationally, and that won’t occur again until the Tribulation period, or the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy.”

We have been in that unreckoned time for over 2000 years now. That can be a hard thing to understand, because Gabriel’s prophecy to Daniel seems to have everything running together. Dr. Jeremiah give us an example of how Scripture can often put together more than one prophetic event in one sentence, irrespective of how separated in time they might be.

Isaiah 9:6 tells us “Unto us a Child is born, unto a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.”

Jesus has come to us, having been born, but remember He ruled nothing while on earth. The second prophecy in that one verse has not yet come true, and it will not until Jesus’ second coming.

NEXT – The conclusion to Daniel chapter 9.

Daniel – Seventy Weeks, Part 2

agents-of-babylon-2Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity,… Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.   Daniel 9, selected verses

Here we meet the first problem in understanding Daniel – language. Where our English bibles read “weeks,” the Hebrew word is literally “sevens.” Weeks in essentially a misinterpretation that has stood for a long time. In this case, we can know that Gabriel is talking about sevens of years, because we know that the Babylonian Captivity lasted 70 years. 70 weeks becomes 70 sevens or 490 years. That’s the period of time that Israel remained unobservant and unrepentant regarding the 70 Shemitah years, which came every seven years.

Week

They couldn’t figure out how to translate the Hebrew for “Sevens”, so…they used “weeks.”

Another consideration is that the prophetic years are 360 days, not 365. They kept a calendar of twelve, 30-day months. An example of this is in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 wherein a three and a half year period is counted as 1260 days; 1260 divided by 3.5 equals 360.

Next we must remember that the prophecy is for Israel and the city of Jerusalem, not Gentiles. Gabriel says very plainly that is about Daniel’s people and Israel:

Seventy weeks (sevens) are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.   Daniel 9:24

Again, “seventy weeks” is better translated as “seventy sevens or 490.” It also just occurred to me as I write this that Jesus told his disciples that they are not to forgive others just 7 times, but 70 times 7. I can’t help wondering if that wasn’t deliberate to tap their memories of the Babylonian exile.

Gabriel lists six events for the prophecy. Three are bad news and three are good news. Dr. Jeremiah notes that some scholars think that all six events were fulfilled on the cross. Those same scholars believe that God has no future plans for the Children of Israel, and I can recall a pastor I knew who openly told us that Israel is no longer God’s special people, that they had fulfilled their purpose as a race in producing Jesus.

A careful reading of Isaiah 60 will give the lie to that, as he prophesizes Israel’s dominance and the kingdoms of the world paying honor to her at the end of time.

Gabriel to DanielSo let’s look at those six events:

1 – “To finish the transgression” Transgressions were not finished at the cross; they were forgiven. In other words sinning continues to this day and even flourishes. The prophecy speaks of a time when transgression are checked and no longer flourish, although sin will still be present.

2 – “To make an end of sins” Simply, sin will be no more…literally. This is what is described in Christ’s Millennial Reign as described in Revelation. Ezekiel also has the same prophecy in chapter 37: “They shall not defile themselves anymore…with any of their transgressions.”

3 – “To make reconciliation for iniquity” This refers to Jesus’ atonement on the cross, but Israel won’t realize the effect of this atonement until the end of the seventy “weeks.”

4 – “To bring in everlasting righteousness” Obviously, Jesus’ sacrifice provides redemption of all sins. But remember that this prophecy is regarding Israel alone. Gabriel told Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city.” “Your people” are Daniel’s people, which are the Children of Israel. In the same vein, “your holy city” refers to Jerusalem. The everlasting righteousness Gabriel speaks of is “…when Israel as a nation…as a nation…(makes) appropriation at Christ’s second coming in power.” Leon Wood quoted in Agents of Babylon.

5 – “To seal up vision and prophecy” The prophecies are to be sealed up/preserved for the future generations that will see the prophecies coming true and can understand Gabriel’s words. Recall that Daniel asked the meaning of what he was being told, and this was Gabriel’s answer.

6 – “to anoint the Most Holy” The term “Most Holy” never refers to a person in the Bible. It refers solely to the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. This this phrase would be better understood to us as to have the temple built and dedicated. Ezekial was shown this Temple to come by God, and he records it in Ezekiel chapters 41-46. This new Temple will be something beyond the previous two Temples.

Dr. David Jeremiah tells us that all six of these events must be experienced by the nation of Israel and that they will happen at the end of the 490 years of Daniel’s prophecy.

NEXT – Measuring out the 70 “weeks”

Daniel – Seventy Weeks, Part 1

 

My apologies for missing last Sunday morning.  I am honestly challenged by the material in Agents of Babylon and summarizing it for you.  Hopefully, I’ll keep up better this week!

agents-of-babylon-2Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity,… Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.   Daniel 9, selected verses

The Seventy Weeks Prophecy is considered the backbone of all prophecy. It has been called a prophecy without parallel in all of scripture. Isaac Newton held that the truth of Christianity could be staked just on this one prophecy. Clarence Larkin wrote that “Daniel draws the outline…Jesus roughs in the picture in His Olivet Discourse, and John fills in the details in the book of Revelation.”

This prophecy, delivered by Gabriel, comes after Daniel’s great prayer, considered to be one of the most outstanding in the Old testament (Daniel 9:4-19). We know that this episode happened in 538 B.C., about 67 years after the Israelites were carried off to Babylon. Daniel had read Jeremiah’s prophecy that their exile would last 70 years (see 70 weeks in the verse above) and realized the time of their return to Jerusalem was near.

Daniel SackclothDaniel prayed in repentance in sackcloth and ashes, because he wanted to ensure Israel would not re-anger God. It is significant that two thirds of Daniel 9 is the prayer of confession with only a few verses at the end as the prophecy from Gabriel. Those verses, however, paint a timetable of events for the end of human history!

Daniel read Jeremiah’s prophecy that “You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you…when you reach for Me with all your heart.”

Daniel knew his people and that they were not all righteous. He prayed more earnestly than he ever had, hoping, if you will, to take up the slack to ensure their restoration.

Recall that the 70 years’ exile were the result of 70 missed Shemitah’s over 490 years.   What’s interesting in Daniel 9 is that he was praying about those last 490 years in repentance. God gave him a look at the next 490 years! Five hundred years after Daniel, Gabriel would return with another message to a virgin named Mary!

NEXT – Translation problem

Daniel – Antiochus & the Antichrist

agents-of-babylon-2And in the latter time of their kingdom, when transgressions have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes.   Daniel 8:23

This is the verse where Daniel leaves behind what we know as history and ventures into the end times before the Tribulation. Jesus us tells us clearly in Mathew 24 that the end times will be like those days of Noah before the Flood. It was a time when sin reached its fullness. Daniel describes the same sort of scenario without mentioning the Flood. The Bible often speaks of times becoming fulfilled or when the sins of a people had reached their peak; it was time for judgment.

When the world is most sinful is when the Antichrist will come. Earth will be Godless with most people not knowing the Bible or the God who inspired it. It will be the perfect time for a great deceiver, the Antichrist, to come and lead a spiritually defenseless population astray.

Dr. David Jeremiah quotes Mark Hitchcock: “There are more than 100 passages of scripture that describe the…Antichrist. God doesn’t want us to be preoccupied with this individual in an unhealthy, unbalanced way, but clearly God wants us to know some things about this coming prince of darkness.”

Other authors have made the same point in studying evil to a point. Just as doctors study disease so they can deal with it, so must a healthy Christian study evil to the extent that she can recognize and cope with it.

Dr. Jeremiah cites eight characteristics that will define this evil man.

HE WILL HAVE A DYNAMIC PERSONALITY. “…a king will arrive having fierce features.” He will be bold, brave, daring, arrogant, and magnetic to a world without Jesus. People who have not been schooled in Jesus’ humility and servant attitude will have found their hero.

HE WILL BE DEMONIC IN HIS PROGRAM. “Sinister schemes” can be translated literally as “dark sayings.” This could be both occult abilities and the ability to solve the problems of the day, quite possibly through his demonic/occult powers.

Johnny Ramirez

Johnny Ramirez – From Satan to Jesus

HE WILL HAVE DEVILISH POWER. Antiochus was so thoroughly evil that he likely had a connection with Satan. This is not necessarily the same as being possessed. I would invite you to look up Johnny Ramirez on YouTube. He is a former Satanist-turned-Christian. He was extremely powerful in the devil, but he was not possessed. The Antichrist may well be possessed just as Antiochus may have been. Both were and will have close ties to Satan, drawing on his power!

HE WILL BE DESTRUCTIVE IN HIS PERSECUTION. Recall that Antiochus killed and enslaved tens of thousands of Jews. What will the Antichrist be capable of as a world leader? Daniel 8:24 says, “He shall destroy fearfully…and also the holy temple” just as Antiochus did. Jesus echoes this in Mathew 24: “Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved…”

HE WILL BE DECEITFUL IN HIS PRACTICES. “Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper.” Antiochus was the same. He entered Jerusalem offering peace, completely throwing them off. He then unleashed his army to destroy the city and its people.

“He (the Antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering…” Daniel 9:27

This is seven days referring seven years, which makes sense. He uses the first three and a half years to gain trust by allowing religious freedom – something you can’t do in just three and a half days. He then shows his true colors and creates abominations as did Antiochus. Paul also describes this in his second letter to the Thessalonians:

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved” (2:9-10)

Again, it is those who have not received the Word that will be deceived and destroyed. Those who are strong in the Word will be able to resist and avoid ultimate destruction.

Antichrist

No name, no time, but a good description

HE WILL BE DEFIANT IN HIS PROFESSION. “He shall exalt himself in his heart…He shall even rise against the Prince of princes (Jesus).” Daniel 8:25

Antiochus had coins minted with his name by which we even know him today: Antiochus Theos Epiphanes, or “Antiochus, God Manifest.” He set himself up as God! Paul also tells us in Thessalonians 2 that the Antichrist will sit “…as God in the temple of God.”

HE WILL BE DEFEATED. The Antichrist will not be brought down by political insurgents or guerilla warfare. Daniel write that “He shall be broken without human means.” God will take of this one Himself!

HE WILL BE DESTINED TO PUNISHMENT. Antiochus vowed to turn Jerusalem into one big cemetery when the Jews threw his image of Jupiter out of the Temple. Before he could get there he was mysteriously overcome by a rotting disease, eaten alive by ulcers and worms. Dr. Jeremiah notes that “…the stench from his own body was so vile that even he couldn’t stand the smell.”

Daniel received these visions and asked God about them, but he was told to simply “put them up” for future generations. In other words, it wasn’t for Daniel to understand. It was for future generations to understand when the times are ready.

The lives of the apostles were guided by their knowledge of these end times even though they didn’t know when they would come. All they knew was that these bad times were on the way, and it was their job to prepare their churches with Jesus saving grace and forewarning of just how bad things would get. They wanted their charges to be prepared so they wouldn’t collapse under the pressure of those end times.

That is how we need to run our lives too! We certainly don’t want friends and family to suffer an eternal fate! We need to share the Gospel with as many as we can reach, plant those seeds, and pray for the growth!