More comments on 2nd Thess. 2:3-8


A lot of the following is familiar to Preterists but I think it is helpful to go over this again for the benefit of others.

3, Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

The falling away is none other than the apostasy that was prophesied elsewhere in the Bible. But consider that the very term implies a lapse from a higher position. It assumes persons who profess adherence to true religion and then deliberately move away from that position.

It also assumes an era of greater knowledge of the Truth. And that was exactly the case in in the first century. Christ Himself ministered and then His Apostles- and then their disciples – demonstrated and carried His message throughout the Empire. But the same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay. And this Potters clay was soon to be shattered.

This is when the “Last Days” came about. “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” 2nd Timothy 3:5. They “profess to know God but in works they deny Him…” Titus 1:16

Those who turned from this unique witness were sinning against much greater knowledge than any other generation would be privileged with. There was not only a clearer message but there was also attesting miracles. This is why we could not be living in the “last days”.

Moreover the term has a special significance for Covenant Israel, Deuteronomy 33. Thie process of a judicial hardening of the Jewish despisers of the Truth was also revealed in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 6:9-13.

4, Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

The self-deification of the Caesars, Nero especially, is well-known so this may refer to that or, if the actual Temple in Jerusalem, not speaking spiritually, then Eleazar ben Ananias or John of Gischala would fit better.

5, Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

I believe that Paul, like John in his writing of Revelation, was guarded in his mentioning of certain powerful persons lest it leads to arrests of any of his readership. So maybe this is why Paul just refers to what he had earlier told them personally.

6, And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7, For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

There are two or three good historical candidates for the Man of Sin. There is no need to imagine a future candidate. Either Nero or Eleazar ben Ananias would fit the bill. A third would be John of Gischala. The “restrainer” would not be the Holy Spirit, as some futurists imagine, but human connections that kept these men from the full expression of their evil character. In the case of Nero it would be his wife (AD 59), his mother, Octavia (AD 62), or his advisors like Seneca. The “taking away” is ultimately what Nero did, when he had the greater opportunity, to those who hindered him.

More on this topic can be found in Ed Steven’s excellent “Final Decade Before the End”

  1. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming

The character of Nero at the beginning was not obviously evil. His life reminds me of what my old pastor said about King Joash: “His piety died when his preacher died.” With the absence of Seneca (whom he pressured into suicide) and his wife and mother (both murdered) he was free to reveal his evil nature.

But he was destroyed by the “brightness of [Christ’s] coming”. I think that the comment from James Stuart Russell in page 84 of his “Parousia” makes perfect sense:

The Lord is to slay him with the breath of his mouth, and to destroy him with the appearance of his coming. In this significant expression we have a note of the time when the man of sin is destined to perish, marked with singular exactitude. It is the coming of the Lord, the Parousia, which is to be the signal of his destruction; yet not the full – splendour of that event so much as the first appearance or dawn of it.”

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The Once and Future Man of Sin

I hope to write more on what I called the unities of Thessalonians using passages from elsewhere to further show that the Resurrection from the dead along with the Rapture was (past tense) a unique one-time event, not something in two stages nor something wholly in the future.

But first it might be good to get the Man of Sin (MoS) out of the way. The MoS is both a necessary and helpful boogeyman for futurist theologians. It is necessary because if they assume that the Second Coming of Christ is still future then the Man of Sin, “the Antichrist” (sic) is too. It is helpful because it is an ever-useful tool for all kinds of merchandising. Plus, using a phrase from my Preacher Boys class, “It preaches!”

But a piece of bad doctrine, like a bad apple in a basket, does not keep its badness to itself. Soon other apples deteriorate.

It is the same with bad eschatology. If you think that the Second Coming, Antichrist, Tribulation – the whole show – are still future you overlook entirely other interpretations. You overlook or downplay the bad guys (1st-century Jews) and replace them others who had nothing to do with these passages (the Papacy or, according to some futurists, Islam).

Case in point is the following passage, 2nd Thess. 2:3-8:

3, ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4, Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5, Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6, And now ye know what withholdeth2 that he might be revealed in his time.
7, For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8, And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:”

More later…

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Four Unities Prove 1st Century Rapture: Good News for all Christians

1 Thess. 4:13 – 18

13, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15, For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17, Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18, Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

By making a big deal out of “unity” I am just underscoring that this is one single, tremendous event, that happens to both groups of believers: The dead in Christ, waiting in Hades and the living saints. The more we dwell on this point the clearer the picture becomes.

It is not something that happened in an (ethnically and geographically) limited way in AD 70 but with the Main Event still in the future (as some futurists and Partial-Preterists believe).

Neither can this profound event have happened and yet having the surviving saints of the time still physically on the Earth, unchanged and still unrescued from ongoing tribulation. Aside from proofs that I will get to below that this is impossible we have the express words of Jesus (Matt. 24:22) that “ unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved“. The “cutting short” is the Rapture.

Neither is it a mere positional change for living believers from that time onward (per Max King Preterists). A careful study of these unities show that is a Scriptural and logical impossibility.

Unity of Time: One event.

“the dead in Christ shall rise first: , Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them”

Although there are technically two stages of the event here they must necessarily have happened almost simultaneously.

Unity of Action

Same passage: “rise first“, “caught up together

What happened to the dead is what happened to the living. However different the two groups started from the same event brings them together.

Problem for the futurist: The dead in Christ must still be in the ground, or in Hades, if their scenario is to be believed. Yet Scripture foretold that this event would happen in that first-century generation.

Unity of Essence (And for this one I need to go to other passages)

Although the two groups were quite different prior to the Rapture, only the living saints being still physical, both groups are now made fit for eternity.

“Flesh and blood cannot enter into the Kingdom of God“, I Cor. 15:50

“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Matt. 22:30

“We shall be like Him” 1st John 3:2


And how shall we be like Him: As He was “in the days of His flesh” (Heb. 5:7) or as He prayed to return to in John 17:5?

Now, if we believe the Max King version of Preterism, we have two groups who are quite different, however they might concede this change on those who were in Hades the King Preterists have believers who are still quite physical. So they are forced to make the change here of the surviving Christians merely positional. Or they emphasize the ongoing nature of the change, as Christians die they are translated into their new life and presence with Christ. Well, that is true, but these passages are not speaking of Christians throughout the ages. They are speaking of – and to – Christians of that time.

Unity of Place – in the clouds, with Christ forever – NOT on Earth.

We have the two groups both in one place. They are first in the clouds. Note: This is very important. The saints on the Earth are in the clouds. No longer making footprints on the Earth. A mere positional in the living saints just does not satisfy the text here.

They are with Christ forever. And we will join them when we die. The proof for that is in plenty of other passages.

I welcome any comments and feedback on this post. I do not pretend to have all the answers on this. Experience has taught me that hastily stated dogmatic positions can quickly be regretted. The Internet is really good for reality checking. But also for iron sharpening iron, which is what I hope this is.

Comforting Truth

When I first wrote the earlier post I was annoyed to see that verse 18 was bolded and in a much larger font. I do not know how that happened but I am glad now that it did. I left it as it is. What better emphasis than that last verse!?

This passage, rightly understood, has plenty of comfort.

For first century Christians it proved that their faith in those numerous and specific promises of relief and reward from Christ and His Apostles was well-placed.

For us it is also an assurance of our reward and relief. The faith is the same. So is the Object.

“All the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.” 2 Cor. 1:20

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The Four Unities of 1st Thessalonians 4

I Thess 4: Four Unities

13, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15, For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17, Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18, Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

I think Aristotle wrote also about unities in his Poetics, but I am referring to four different unities altogether, much more important, having to do with the Rapture and the union of living believers with those who had died in Christ. Studying this as we see it in Thessalonians is very important because it shows clearly the nature of the Rapture.

It also shows why both the modern futurist view of the rapture and the Max King variant of Preterism overlook (and I am being kind) key points of doctrine found in this chapter.

The four unities are unity of time, action, essence, and place.

More later.

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Rethinking Thessalonians

I have been reading and rereading – and rerereading – the Thessalonian epistles for a couple of weeks now. This still fairly new understanding of the rapture has prompted in me a desire to re-examine this most important set of epistles.

As time permits – no, let me be honest 🙂 – as I start again on right priorities I want to write a few observations here. You all are most welcome to chime in. I admit that I have been sidetracked by events in the US as well as here in Mexico.

For now I just want to look at this, 1 Thess. 2:13

“13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. “

This is not necessarily an eschatological note but the verse above reminded me of when I became a Christian at 21 just before I went into the US Air Force. I was reading a New Testament in Rhein Main AFB, Germany, waiting for tomorrows flight to Lackland in Texas. The rest of the new recruits were playing card but I was on my cot just reading the Bible and thinking, “Wow! These are the very words of God!” It was all new to me, but the Holy Spirit brought about such a spirit of awe and thankfulness that I still remember these 45 years later.

Maybe that was a foundation that enabled me to never be totally satisfied with dispensationalism, even though I floundered in it for decades.

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Rethinking Don Preston’s Corporate Resurrection

If there was no physical translating of the living saints on AD70, as Preston et al insist, then we have some troublesome scenarios. But first a little background.

The Nature of the Rapture

I believe that both dispensational futurists and many preterists have misconceptions concerning the rapture. Most futurists are mistaken in both the timing (that it is still future) and the nature of it (that it will be grave-emptying worldwide event). But many preterists, also, err on the other extreme. They imagine that it will be a postionally change for Christians – and it certainly will be that! – yet leaving the believers still on Earth after that event. That last part is a serious misreading of Scripture, just as erroneous as that of futurists. This teaching comes from well-known authors Don K. Preston, Rod Bell, and others. But it does not come from Christ or His inspired Apostles.

Elsewhere in my articles I have shown from Scripture the true nature of the rapture, how it was a once for all event that released the faithful believers who had died in Christ and, at the same time, gave sudden relief to those who were still living, both going up to meet Christ in the air.

Sometimes it helps to nail a point down by way of illustration. In this article I am going to flesh out three scenarios there not only fictitious, but could never be true. The purpose is to show just how this imagined raptureless eschatology of Preston et al would have played out. Hopefully the reader will see that their eschatology would have been a profound disappointment, an egregious cheat on the hopes of the suffering saints.

Imagine there are three Christians. All three are alive on Earth at the time of the Parousia: Joseph of Jerusalem, Miriam of Rome, and Javier of Hispania (Spain).

1. Joseph of Jerusalem. He is one of many who was part of the church in Jerusalem, having been converted when hearing the preaching of Peter when he was a teenager. He was grieved for decades with the spiritual downturn he witnessed in his city, just like Lot was. He was present when Herod Agrippa gave a sobering speech about the futiity of fighting Rome. Events worsened in the land of Judea and dissatisfaction with Roman rule becomes outright rebellion. And when Joseph sees how the priests polluted the Temple he remembers the words of Jesus, Mark 13:14, to flee to the mountains. He takes his family with him and does just that. They find safe haven in Pella1 and are joyfully waiting for Christ’s promised return. What a relief to be free of both their bellicose countrymen and the Romans! At first dubious, his wife and two daughters are convinced and become Christians as well. Their place in Pella is not as good as their house in Jerusalem, but they had to leave it behind, as well as most of their belongings. But they consoled themselves on the reward that surely must come soon.

What happened after AD 70. See the first footnote below. Not only were these Christians taken out of harms way (per Don Preston’s view) but harm came to them. Read the eyewitness account of Josephus below.

2. Miriam of Rome. In the market she noticed an odd-looking man with bad eyes. She avoided him just to be safe. But she is surprised when she sees him again in their meeting (of all places!) with fellow believers. And she is struck by his depth of wisdom and knowledge of the Law and the Prophets. Who IS this man? She felt that he must be a true believer. She was especially impressed when his letter was read after he had left. What wonderful promises that Messiah would be coming soon and that he would give us relief from our enemies and the hardships of this world. She had a hard time making a living and now her young son was seriously ill. She clung to the promises she heard preached. “No more tears!” And that her husband who died last year would also see His return!

But none of this happened. Hardships continued. Christ did not come. At least, not that she could tell. Her life was even harder. Her son died and now she was a widow. Where is Christ? So many promises she heard and not one fulfilled!

3. Javier of Hispania lives on the very fringes of the Roman Empire, on the Atlantic coast of what is now Northern Spain. He was a sailor by trade, now retired. As a young man he had worked in various docks in Rome. In one of these voyages he had met a Spanish lady whose friend had returned years ago from Jerusalem. She told Javier everything her friend had told her, about Jesus of Nazareth and of the miracles she had personally seen. After long discussions and her insistence that a time is coming soon when He will return to judge the world Javier is overwhelmed by this testimony. He has a deep conviction that this must be true. Javier becomes a Christian. He returns to his own town where, as far as he knows, he is the only one who believes in Christ. What loneliness! His wife and, after a while, even his two children make fun of his odd belief in this Jewish god. Though he is grieved by their disbelief he continues to pray for them, knowing that the Day when Christ returns must surely be very close.

But after a decade and then another decade goes by he wonders where he went wrong.

NOTES

1. Eusebius’s Church History (3.5.3)

2. It is wishful fiction on the part of reconstructionists like Bargil Pixner who maintain that the Christian Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and start building a physical Church of Zion. Much more convincing is the eyewitness report of someone who actually lived through these times and many of these events, Josephus. What would have happened to our fictional Joseph of Jerusalem and his family? Read the eighteenth chapter of Josephus’s War of the Jews.


“The Calamities And Slaughters That Came Upon The Jews.

Now the people of Cesarea had slain the Jews that were among them on the very same day and hour [when the soldiers were slain], which one would think must have come to pass by the direction of Providence; insomuch that in one hour’s time above twenty thousand Jews were killed, and all Cesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them in bonds to the galleys. Upon which stroke that the Jews received at Cesarea, the whole nation was greatly enraged; so they divided themselves into several parties, and laid waste the villages of the Syrians, and their neighboring cities, Philadelphia, and Sebonitis, and Gerasa, and Pella, and Scythopolis, and after them Gadara, and Hippos; and falling upon Gaulonitis, some cities they destroyed there, and some they set on fire, and then went to Kedasa, belonging to the Tyrians, and to Ptolemais, and to Gaba, and to Cesarea; nor was either Sebaste [Samaria] or Askelon able to oppose the violence with which they were attacked; and when they had burnt these to the ground; they entirely demolished Anthedon and Gaza; many also of the villages that were about every one of those cities were plundered, and an immense slaughter was made of the men who were caught in them.

3. Mark 13:20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Notice carefully that the only thing saving the elect still on the Earth is that those days were cut short. Those who escaped to places like Pella, according to this verse, would not have survived even in their hiding place. As Josephus reported, there were no safe zones. They were only saved by the days being cut short. And how were they cut short? By the rapture! And how were they saved from the destruction that would still go on for many months? They were no longer on the Earth!

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SIX PROMISES OF CHRIST TO HIS PEOPLE: DANIEL 9:24



There may well be more interpretations than there are weeks to this prophecy of Daniel 9:24– 27. While many different views have been around for a number of centuries the consensus of orthodox Christianity, until recent times at least, has almost always agreed that the fulfillment of these six promises were to be achieved through the Messiah, and that they were fulfilled during the century of Christ’s life on earth.

This interpretation, long held by most of the early Church Fathers as well as the reformers, has now become a minority view in this last century and a half. I will leave it to others to address the errors of this modern view in the world. (note 1) – and there are a lot of them – this article will examine the text itself. Hopefully I will convince the thoughtful reader, open Bible before him or her, of the treasure that we have before us. When the text is put in it’s right setting as one of the clearest and most encouraging promises concerning Christ, “the Author and Finisher of our faith”, the lesser view will (this is my prayer) be shown for what it is: an unintentional dishonoring of Christ and a blurring of that wonderful truth of the one people of God. To know this passage and to meditate on it’s truths can’t help but strengthen our faith and magnify our Redeemer. God’s people are constantly in need of the Living Waters and of the Balm of Gilead. But the modern Dispensational interpretation takes this away and trades it for superficially pleasing fictions that have little to do with Christ. This Balm of Gilead – at least some of it’s particular comfort – is by them hermeneutically sealed up from the saints, Jews and Gentiles alike who know Jesus, for whom it is divinely intended (note 2). May God open our eyes to His wonderful provisions!

Here is the text that we need to study:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish [“restrain”] the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

“Seventy weeks” = one unit = 490 years. This was dealt with earlier. If I can convince you what the six foretold events here are, and to Whom they refer, the timing will take care of itself.

“your people”, “your holy city”. The ones and the place Daniel prayed for, the Jews and Jerusalem. And yet “people” has a wider significance (Matt. 1:21, Rom. 9:26, 2nd Cor. 6:16, 1st Pet. 2:9- 10) as sure as Abraham is called “father of many people” and as sure as Japheth will dwell in the tents of Shem.

Christ is said to have done 6 things for His people (including us, since we are also part of the Israel of God and are sharers in their promises – Galatians 3:16; 6:16; 2nd Cor. 1:20):

1. Restrain transgression.
2. Make an end for sins.
3. Make reconciliation for iniquity.
4. Bring in everlasting righteousness.
5. Seal up the vision and prophecy.
6. Anoint the Most Holy (Christ is the “Most Holy”).


The last three events especially relate to Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. But more on that later.

1. RESTRAIN TRANSGRESSION
Strong’s Concordance says this:

{3607} kala’, kaw-law’; a primitive root; to restrict, by act (hold back or in) or word (prohibit): finish, forbid, keep (back), refrain, restrain, retain, shut up, be stayed, withhold.

But hold that thought. I seriously wonder where that “finish” comes from. A better source is Gesenius’s “Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament”. He makes no reference to the “finish” or “end” definition of KALA. Unfortunately, I have this book only in hard copy, so you will have to take my word for it : )

I did a search of the word on a Bible CD and came up with 17 occurrences from the Old Testament. As far as I know, these are the only uses of this word, KALA. A closer examination will reveal that none of them suggest the use of “finish” or “put an end to”. The fact that that usage is insisted on in Daniel 9:24 – and nowhere else – makes me strongly suspect that Procrustean exegesis is going on, reading -into- the text to protect a system (eisegesis – the dreaded “Icy-Jesus”). In all other uses of the word (see below), it is translated by, “restrained”, “refrained”, “retained”, “withhold”, “forbid”, “shut up”, “stayed” (KJV for “held back”). The rendition at Dan. 9:24 is the sole oddball rendition. A study of the various cognates to this word (in Hebrew – and even in other languages) make the case even stronger. BTW, the “shut up” or “hemmed in” aspect shows up in words like “carcel” (jail) & “incarcerated” .

Old Testament uses of the word KALA are noted at the end of this article:


2. MAKE AN END OF SINS
Many of us here remember the first Gulf War and the televised images of oil wells in the Gulf region burning almost out of control. The smoke from the burning could be seen clearly from space. I say “almost” out of control, because, though it took awhile, every one of those fires was extinguished.

“Gosh, thanks for the history lesson, Tom. What does this have to do with Daniel 9:24?”

The point is this: The method used to extinguish those fires illustrates the first and second of these prophesied events:

1. First the fires had to be capped. It would be ridiculous to put out fires while they were still being fed at the source, while fuel was still pouring out. So the firefighters stopped the fire, by means of a momentary explosion, arrested the pouring out of fuel (both liquid and oxygen). They then capped the well before it could re-ignite.

This is what Jesus did. First he took care of sin (singular) at its source. As far as we are concerned, He capped sin. This is the principle of sin, and Satan as the arch Fire-Starter. In Christ’s perfect life, death on the Cross and resurrection we have the strong man overcome by the Stronger Man (Mark 3:27, Luke 11:21– 22), Satan bound (Rev. 20:1- 3). He triumphed openly over him by the Cross (Col. 2:13- 15). This is that “shutting up” (KALA) of transgression.

2. Then the individual fires (plural) could be put out. The Gulf War firefighters may not have used foam, but I will use it for this part of the illustration, since it fits the Hebrew word used here fairly well. CHATHAM (KJV “make an end of”) really means “to cover up” – and because it is covered up, to hide from view. (Song of Sol. 4:12 is a good example). This is where God casts our sins behind His back because of Christ’s death for us. This happened only at Calvary and will never be repeated.

I suspect that, like in the previous clause, a definition is read into the words, and not drawn out of the words. And, like in the previous clause, the assumption is that this clause (“make an end of sins”) is referring to the end times, and not to the times of Christ, since clearly, sin has not been made an end of. No, that is true: Sin still exists to afflict, at times, the best of Christians – yet they are covered up. That is why the saint doesn’t lose his salvation by an act of sin. For that matter, that is also why Old Testament saints like David did not lose theirs.

John Owen says this about this part of Daniel 9:24:

“And the most proper sense of the word [CHATHAM] is “to cover or conceal,” and thence “seal,” because thereby a thing is hidden…Now, to hide sin or transgression, in the Old Testament, is to pardon it, to forgive it. As, then, the former expression (KALA) respected the stop that was put to the power and progress of sin by the grace of the gospel, as Titus 2:11, 12, so does this the pardon and removal of the guilt of it by the mercy proclaimed and tendered in the gospel.”

RESTRAINED, BUT NOT FINISHED
“Seventy weeks are determined for your people, and for your holy city, to shut up [restrain] the transgression,…”

Like I wrote above, “KALA” is never rendered “to finish” or “put an end to”, except (dubiously, I contend) here in Daniel 9:24. It should rather be translated “shut up”, “restrained”, etc. I also listed all of the occurrences of the word in the previous post, so I won’t repeat them here.

RESTRAINING TRANSGRESSION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
This prophesied event is seen in the New Testament. Whether what is being restrained in the following passages is sin or Satan, the one who had enslaved us by sin, these passages are all speaking of the same time, that time when Christ freed us on the Cross and restrained transgression. Sin is not totally destroyed, neither is Satan. Yet his power has been broken by the Cross.

Each of the verses below illustrate, I believe, the foretold restraining of Dan. 9:24. The exact word in each verse that describes that event I have rendered in ALLCAPS:

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might RENDER POWERLESS him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” (Hebrews 2:14)

“And you know what RESTRAINS him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now RESTRAINS will do so until he is taken out of the way.” (2nd Thess. 2:6- 7)

“Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first BINDS the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matt. 12:29)

“But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed But when someone stronger than he attacks him and OVERPOWERS him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.” (Luke 11:20– 22)

(This verse does not have the “restrain” aspect. However the cross-reference above it – clearly the same event – does.)

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a GREAT CHAIN in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and BOUND HIM for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and SHUT IT and SEALED IT OVER HIM, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” (Rev. 20:1- 3)

3. MAKE RECONCILIATION FOR INIQUITY
We now come to the third event of Christ’s ministry for His people. We are told in this passage that He will come “to make reconciliation for iniquity”. This reconciliation had occurred at the cross. This is when reconciliation was first effected, by the perfect life and sinless death of the God-man, Christ Jesus, the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God. Because there was (is) no blemish in His sacrifice, or fault in His life of demonstrated holiness, we too, who believe in Christ’s sacrifice for us, are totally accepted in Christ (Eph. 1:6).

“Reconciliation” means to “hide”, “cover” or “pardon”. This is what God does with our sins in view of Christ’s payment for them. It is not as though, strictly speaking they cease to exist. (That day will come. Wonderful thought!) We are pardoned because of the peace attained for us by Christ (Eph. 2:14- 22; especially verses 13- 17). Christ is our peace. Matthew Henry writes: “He is not only the peace-maker, but the peace. He is the atonement.”

He is our reconciliation, our ongoing means of acceptance with God. This prophesied reconciliation is not only found here in Dan. 9, but was promised as far back as Genesis 3:15, when our first parents were first encouraged with the good news of a coming Savior.

Where else do we read of this reconciliation that we have through Christ Jesus? Here are just some of the many verses that could be quoted:

Ro 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Think of it! How greatly this doctrine magnifies Jesus Christ, our great High Priest! Approaching the altar as the Priest without blemish He presented the perfect sacrifice – Himself! Who among the godliest of the Old Testament Priests could have foreseen that they were, in their persons and vocation, types of such an astounding act of God? Christ is the High Priest who puts an end to all other priests – and to the Levitical priesthood altogether. Jesus Christ was at the same time “Priest of the most high God” (Heb. 7:1), “holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners” (verse 26) and the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), both sacrificer and sacrifice.

The next phrase (“bring in everlasting righteousness”) is a positive statement of what is here stated negatively. The two phrases go together. In fact, some see these next three events as being chiastic to the first three. A chiasm is an inverted structure that God’s Word often uses, as in ABCCBA. I am not sure, however, if there is a chiasm here.

GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE FINAL THREE EVENTS
These last three prophesied events confirm the Messiah as Priest, Prophet and King:


1. His Priesthood is shown by his bringing in everlasting righteousness. He did this by living a righteous – perfect – life, and by being the spotless Lamb, sacrificed for our sin. His death, as well as His life, pleads for us. As Wesley well put it:

“Five bleeding wounds He bears,
Sustained on Calvary.
They pour effectual prayers.
They strongly plead for me,”.

What has this to do with “everlasting righteousness”? Everything. It is at the Cross that Christ is able to be, as our Perfect Priest 2, “both just and justifier of him who has faith in Jesus” (Romans). In Christ we are declared righteous by imputation so that we can be increasingly righteous in experience. This is having “Christ formed in us”.

2. His office as Prophet is shown by his sealing up of vision and prophecy. God spoke before to us in various ways, but from the time of the unveiling of the Gospel He has now spoken to us through the Son. Christ is the Prophet who puts an end to all prophets and prophecy (Heb. 1:1- 2).

3. His Kingship is shown by his anointing of the Most Holy. Some versions imply that the anointing is of the most holy PLACE, yet that word is not in the original. Textually, either “place” or “person” is a possible recipient of “anoint”. Scripturally, I believe the case is much stronger for a person, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ .

Now let us look at these last three events in more individual detail:

4. BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS
The next phrase (“bring in everlasting righteousness”) is the first of three positive statements. The first three events prophesied in Daniel were largely negative, that is, a taking care of a negative situation – our sin. For God to do His work, He must first rectify the mess we have made. This reminds us of God’s mission for the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 1:10):

“See, I have this day set you [speaking to the prophet] …
To root out and to pull down,
To destroy and to throw down.
To build and to plant.”

Now we get into God’s building up (edification, edifice) through Jesus Christ. This bringing in of “everlasting righteousness” is nothing less than the new life that we have in Christ Jesus. “Not having our own righteousness”. This is the righteousness that the Holy Spirit convinces the saints ( and saints-to-be) of (John 16:10). Sadly, very many of the Jews had missed (and still miss) the glory of this righteousness, having held onto their own works-righteousness (Rom. 10:3- 4). There are many passages in the Old testament (especially in Isaiah) that promise this righteousness to come to God’s people. Below is just one of many, Isaiah 56:1:

“Thus says the LORD, Keep judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.”

Isaiah 45:17:

“But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.”

The “everlasting salvation” here is this same everlasting righteousness. The “Israel” here is not national Israel, but the true “Israel of God” (Gal. 5:16, Rom. 2:28- 29; 11:26- 27), redeemed people of both Jews and Gentiles.

Romans 5 is a rich source of information of this righteousness that is the possession of all saints. Since we are reconciled by His death (vs. 10) we are likewise saved by His life. We now reign in life because of the gift of God’s grace, applying Christ’s righteousness to us (vs. 17ff). Not only this, but we also are enabled to actively work out Christ’s righteousness in our lives (Romans 6:13-23, Phil. 2:12- 13, Rev. 19:8). All saints are perfectly righteous positionally, yet we are far from perfect experientially. To be sure, I believe we will always have faults up until the last day of our lives, yet every true saint will grow in grace. God does not have any still-born children.

There are very many other passages that beautifully elaborate this righteousness we have in Christ: 2nd Cor. 5:20- 21; John 6:40; Phil. 3:9, etc.  

5. SEAL UP VISION AND PROPHECY
These last two events (sealing up and anointing) are perhaps the most controversial of all, not only as to the timing but as to the respective meanings. But if we keep in mind that these events, like the previous four, must have been fulfilled within the “seventy weeks” we will already have eliminated many wrong interpretations. We will know, for instance, that sealing up the vision and prophecy can Not mean, like at least some dispensationalists insist, that the everything prophesied has to come to fulfillment. Yet we know of some predicted events that are clearly in the future (like 1st Cor. 15:28, when all things will be subject to the Son and, then, the Son will be subject to the Father, “that God may be all in all”).

Understanding also that there should be no separation between the three components of the 70 weeks (7 + 42 + 1) directs us to find the fulfillment for this prophecy in the first century.

OK, so much for what the phrase does not mean. What does it mean? First of all it should be mentioned that the actual phrase is “to seal up the vision and prophet”. Let us take a look at this “seal up” (“chatam”), and how Scripture uses the term. Here is a representative sampling of the twenty plus uses of the Hebrew term:

“So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.” (1st Kings 21:8)

“And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.” (Neh. 9:38)

“Write also for the Jews, as it pleases you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.” (Esther 8:8)

“Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” (Isaiah 8:16. See also 29:9- 16 below)

“Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, says the LORD.” (Jer. 32:44)

“But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan. 12:4. See also verse 9)

Even though Daniel uses this same term in the twelfth chapter it seems that the usage is not exactly parallel. The sealing of 12:4 is one that Daniel himself is able to do. And the sealing of 12:9 is already accomplished at the time of the writing of Daniel (“the words are – present tense – closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”) Yet the “sealing up” (back to 9:24) of “vision and prophet” is clearly part of God’s grand purpose for His people. As such, this sealing up is tied to the Messianic promise, in line with rest of this prophecy. It may, or may not, be significant that “seal” (“chatam”) is similar in sound (and cognate to?) the “determine” (“chatach”) of Dan. 9:24.

So what does “seal” mean here? It is one of Daniel 9‘s many covenant-related words (see Neh. 9:38) . It means also to shut up, to “seal up”. Consequently, it has come to mean “to finish” (see Gesenius) It has to do with authority and ownership (1st Kings 21:8, Jer. 32:44). When God uses this word, however, we are speaking of His sovereignty and lordship over His own. I believe Paul had this in mind when her wrote 2nd Tim. 2:19 and Eph. 1:13. The NT word “seal” or “sealed” is related to “chatam” in its application. (This needs to be studied out more carefully). For the believer (whether true Israel or Christian of the NT or our time) the sealing is a sign of God’s ownership of us, and of His protection of us (2nd Cor. 1:22, Eph. 4:30, Rev. 7:3: 9:4).

The sealing up of vision and prophet is both a blessing and a curse, depending on the recipient. Consider Isaiah 29:9– 16). I know this is a long passage, but it is very helpful in showing us what the “sealing up” means for those who do not “take care how they hear” the Word of God:

Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed “(chatam”), which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed (“chatam”) :

And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?


This is the sealing up. And an awesome, sobering truth it is too. We must all take care how we hear. There are many now, just as then, who thought they they were “standing on the promises” but who are merely “sitting in the premises”. This sealing up turns out to be two-edged sword. Because all of the promises in the OT had to do with Christ, in some way or other, once Christ came All those who persistently reject – or put off – obedience to the Truth they know make themselves prone to the judicial hardness of that same Word that could save them. The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. “Take heed how you hear”. The overwhelming majority of Jews, when their promised Messiah came, didn’t recognize Him because he didn’t conform to their carnal and blind idea of what the Messiah should be like. So, by the 1st century, the vision and prophecy was sealed up. It had done its work. The “Annas” and “Simeons” – the receptive few – were benefited by promises. But “the rest were blinded”. I believe also that, since prophecy in the OT was to point the way to Christ, the “sealing up” of “vision” and “prophet” means also that, since Christ, the Last Great Prophet, had come, there was no need for other prophecy. God spoke “in many portions and in many ways” through prophets in the past. But He now speaks to us through the Son (See Hebrews 1:1– 2). It may very well be that the “prophet” of Daniel 9:24 is the very same “Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:18 and Heb. 1:2, namely Jesus Christ. The “sealing up” (“finish”) of Christ, would then be the completion of His work on the cross, when He cried, “It is finished!”.  

6. ANOINT THE MOST HOLY
This anointing spoken of in Daniel 9:24 is the anointing of the Christ in the New Testament. Though there are references to His followers anointing Him, the primary application is to the Father 5. The physical temple ceased to be a factor in prophecy when Christ died on the Cross:

“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matt. 27:50)

God did here what we have all with items of lesser importance: When we are done with it, we tear it in half. But God’s temple was replaced with a better one:

“…having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. By a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.” ! (Heb. 10:19).

Our Temple is Jesus. To be more precise, we who are in Christ Jesus are part of His temple, the body of Christ.

WHY IS ALL THIS IMPORTANT?

Hopefully I have shown, having gone through all of the six prophesied actions of the Messiah in Daniel 9:24, that these were all fulfilled in the time of Christ’s first coming. To understand that these all relate to Calvary is to gain greater insight into what Christ has done for us, His elect. It actually magnifies Christ and encourages faith in Him. It not only proves that we will be, but that we already ARE overcomers through Him and in Him. The more these truths sink in, the more you will see the alternate view (a supposed future fulfillment of some or all of these events) as a cheat and a great devaluing of Messiah’s redemption on the Cross.

The people that the writer of Hebrews speaks of are those same people of God that Daniel prays for in Dan. 9. The more we go over these verses in Daniel 9:24 ff., the more we will see how the New testament has the cross-references that enable us to make sense of them. We have no desire of, nor need for, “newspaper theology” when it comes to parsing out this passage. By nailing down the New Testament fulfillment, we make more sure the present application to us: We can rest that much more securely in our salvation in Christ.


::::::::::::::: Notes ::::::::::::::::::::

1. Suggested line of study: Consult a modern dispensational work, like Ryrie’s or LaHaye’s Study Bibles, or one of Lindsey’s books, and find out which of these six prophesied events -they- say await fulfillment (or at least Full-fulfillment). It is interesting to see how they are quite willing to see some of these as having been fulfilled at the time of Christ’s first coming and yet others still awaiting future fulfillment. But wouldn’t it make more sense to see all of these as having been fulfilled at the same era – the time of Christ’s earthly generation? I have often wondered which came first (like the chicken and egg conundrum), the need for a severed (still to come) seventieth week or the inability of recognizing the spiritual unity of the one people of God? See the separate article entitled “What is the Root Error of Modern Dispensationalism?”

2. The Talmud, being more spiritually astute than many modern Christians – and definitely than most modern Jews – teaches that all the prophecies of the prophets related to the Messiah. The Talmud would agree here with Paul that “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen” (1st Cor. 1:20).

3. The best source for studying out the priesthood of Christ is the book of Hebrews. Every chapter from the 2nd to the 10th has at least one reference to the priesthood of Christ, and what this means for the believer. That would be a study in itself. Here are some verses from Hebrews that speak of Christ the High Priest: 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; :5:1, 5, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 26; 8:1-3; 9:7, 11, 25; 10:21; 13:11.

4. This belief that the text refers to the Messiah, as opposed to His Temple, was shared, interestingly, by many Jews throughout history. Nachmanides wrote: “This holy of the holies is the Messiah, who is sanctified from among the sons of David.” The irony is that modern dispensationalists are at odds with this understanding of Jewish scholars, even while at the same time underscoring their interpretation as being God’s plan for the Jews.

5. Anointing of Christ in the New Testament is primarily from God, secondarily from humans (Luke 7:38, 46; John 11:2; 12:3, etc.). See also these verses:

Lu 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Joh 1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. (= the Anointed One)

Ac 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

Ac 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Heb 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
 

6.


Here are the Old Testament uses of the word KALA:

Ge 8:2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;

Ge 23:6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.

Ex 36:6 And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.

Nu 11:28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

1Sa 6:10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:

1Sa 25:33 And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.

Ps 40:9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.

Ps 40:11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

Ps 88:8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

Ps 119:101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

Ec 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

Isa 43:6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

Jer 32:2 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.

Jer 32:3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;

Eze 31:15 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when he went down to the grave I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him.

Da 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Hag 1:10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

Tom Riggle

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A Puzzle Piece Falls in Place

Every once in a while some major piece of the Bible puzzle seems to come into place, and it is always exciting when it does. This is what had happened to me with Daniel 9. But please don’t mistake candor for bluster, as if my epiphany is your truth . Your mileage may vary. I am just explaining how I felt when these pieces came into place.

For a long time, although being clear on the sixfold Messianic fulfilment during the 1st century (see article below), and on the events of AD 70, what eluded me was the starting point of this prophetical time. I was led to unwarranted assumptions by a number of writers.


CITY, NOT TEMPLE
Most of these writers trained me – and maybe you? – to look in the wrong direction. The focus was on the temple, and who gets credit for initiating the temple decree that supposedly started the countdown of the 70 weeks. Moreover, adding to the confusion, I hadn’t stopped to really study the Daniel passage first of all. Daniel 9:25never mentions a temple, but the city, Jerusalem. The temple isn’t mentioned until verse 26. As far as the timing is concerned, the temple is actually irrelevant.

QUICK SUMMARY
Here is Daniel 9:24 – 27, with emphasis and a few brief interspersed notes added:

24. Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.


The seventy weeks come out to 490 years, “seventy sevens”. This period of time is determined (“cut off” *) for Daniel’s people and the holy city. It is important to note that in this summary of the very purpose no mention of the temple. The anointing of the “Most Holy” is a reference to the Person of Messiah, not the temple (More on this later).

25. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.


Here we learn when the period starts; from the beginning of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. But whose command, Cyrus (536 BC), Darius, or Artaxerxes (454 BC)? Later I will try to show why Artaxerxes is the only likely candidate, and why 454BC (with some “slop factor” either way) is the date that fits. The “troublous times” (tribulation) is sufficiently attested to in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah (and Esther, according to some). The builders of the holy city faced enemies both within and without; opposition, infiltration, accommodation, etc. Just like today for those who are part of the City of Zion.

This period totalling 69 weeks (483 years) brings us to AD 29, the very beginning of Messiah’s ministry!

26. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the Prince** that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.


Christ is not cut off precisely at the end of the 69th week. We are only told that it is after it. More precise information comes in the following verse. What we do learn from this is that He will be cut off not for His own sins (“not for Himself”). And, once again, in the last part of the verse we have subsequent events foretold that are not fixed in relation to the end of this period, only that they come afterward. But all of these events are “determined”, just as the duration of the 490 years is “determined”.

27. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.


This is perhaps the most misinterpreted prophetical verse in the Bible, the error being helped along by many modern translators who, by using distinguishing lowercase, or by footnotes, identify this confirmer and “breaker” of the covenant be Antichrist.


Actually, this passage is purely Christ.
He is the Confirmer of the Covenant, “This is the New Covenant in my blood”.
He causes the sacrifices to cease by His own righteous and God-satisfying once-for-all offering. When He said “It is finished” it was finished.

Since this article is mostly about the timing of the 490 years I will just keep myself to this summary of the other verses for now. I already mentioned that article (below, “Six Promises of Christ for His People”) that goes into much greater detail into these six blessings from Messiah.

Getting back to the timing issue:

IS THIS PASSAGE ABOUT 490 YEARS AT ALL, OR SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT?
First, a certain credibility issue for the prophecy as a whole needs to be dealt with. The interpretation has been raised that this whole prophecy has nothing to do with a time period, or that 490 years, at least are not meant, but an indefinite period. The best way to answer this is to consider the context. This very chapter begins with Daniel “understanding by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem”. Jeremiah had written about the length of this captivity in Jer. 25:9-12. Was this a definite period? Of course it was.

Now why did Daniel just at that time begin to understand, to have a burden and to pray for his people? I believe it was partly from having just witnessed the Medes overcome the Chaldeans. Having read Isaiah’s prophecies (Isaiah 44:24-28:2) and putting together Jeremiah’s passage with that, he would have recognized Cyrus and the Medes as divinely appointed instruments of delivery. Cyrus, after all, was prophesied of by actual name, long before he ever existed. And Daniel’s recent adventure with Belshazzar on the last night of the Chaldean Empire was bound to have reminded him of as he read Jeremiah 25. That very passage that speaks of seventy actual years of captivity in Babylon (do we spiritualize these too?) then goes on to describe delivery from Babylon. Notice the details: After seventy years “I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation”, v. 12. God had said, moreover, to Jeremiah to take the wine cup from His hand and give it to the nations and make them drink, 15- 17. This was typified by Belshazzar at his wine party. He thought he was just drinking from Jewish cups, but He was actually drinking from the wine of God.

Daniel actually witnessed all this in very recent memory. So as all these pieces came together he knew that surely the time for, not only the Jew’s release, but their return to the land must be at hand. This motivated him to pray. Then Gabriel came to him with his answer and consolation. Now what kind of consolation would it have been to Daniel and for his people if the promised deliverance was not in definite years? They had suffered real shame and affliction, deserved though it was, for a definite period. Should not the consolation also be definite? Yes, much of what is promised is spiritual, but relief from this predicament has to also be physical, since that is the world we live in.

I didn’t meant to write this much on this, but I believe it is easy to fall into two traps. Either we make things too literal, or altogether literal; or we make things too spiritual (allegorical, actually) or altogether spiritual.

ARTAXERXES I AND THE ONLY DECREE THAT FITS
Artaxerxes the first is also called Longimanus, for supposedly having hands that touch his knees when he stands erect! (according to Adam Clarke. But Ussher maintains that he had one hand longer than the other.) But more importantly he was the one who issued the decree for those returning to the land to restore and rebuild the holy city.

Why then do so many Christian books make such a fanfare of the decree of Cyrus, as if he is the only one who could have fulfilled this? Honestly, I just don’t know, other than to say that no other options were being taught. Because if you read Cyrus’s proclamation, and then read Daniel 9:25 (see above), you should know that this can’t have been the decree spoken of. There was no mention of the temple. And Cyrus’s edict is all about building the temple. Eliminating Cyrus as the starting point of the 490 years shouldn’t even be hard **.

The second two decrees that are seriously considered are both from the same man, Artaxerxes Longimanus. the last one, the one we speaking of, being in 454 BC. This is the one that fits the chronology and the parameters.

More on Daniel 9:24-27
Here is the point where we should be somewhat wary of the surmises by people like Sir Andersen who, out of mathematical necessity, convert Jewish years into 360 days each in order to have the near-endpoint of the prophecy, the 69th week, end up in the years of Christ’s incarnate life. This gives him a credible endpoint, though using incredible means (as if the Jews of the day did not have their intercalary corrections). Once again, this is fallacious: Were the seventy years of captivity based on 360 days (Seventy years of 360 days each)? No, of course not. Neither are these 490 years.


454 BC IS THE BEST DATE THAT FITS – BOTH WAYS
Why does this fit? More to come later, as well as why 454 BC should be preferred over 444 BC.

Footnotes:
* I am especially indebted to Kim Riddlebarger for cluing me in on the pervasive covenant terminology used in our passage. “Determined” translates the Hebrew term which is the same root used to describe “cut a covenant”. However I don’t see all the supposed covenantal details that Riddlebarger sees in other parts of the Old Testament.

** The version which I quoted left “prince” uncapitalized, as if it was not the Prince of the verse just previous. But this is unwarranted, as I have explained at length in the other article, Six Promises to His People.

*** Many modern Christians – on this point at least – have a common viewpoint with those Jews who disregard Jesus as being their Christ. Both groups – though for different reasons – make much of the physical temple, and are looking for a future temple. Looking for a future, physical temple slights the present, spiritual one; and the present reality of the city of Zion, “whose builder and maker is God”.  

Tom Riggle
Original article from 2005

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History of an Error: Wrong dates can lead to Bad Theology

This post is helpful background to understanding a certain error that has crept into modern eschatology. A seemingly trivial point actually has profound Christological application. But before we get to the application, the error has to be corrected.

They don’t usually. But in the case of Archbishop William Ussher and his dates that did happen. Or at least, let us say, it needlessly obfuscated an already complicated problem. However, as we shall see, the original obfuscation started happening thousands of years before Ussher.

But first the more recent error: In 1701, thanks to a well-meaning scholar, Church of England’s Bishop William Lloyd, the English Bible began to be side-noted with dates. These dates were based on Ussher’s chronology of a half-century earlier. Throughout the Bible Lloyd faithfully followed Ussher dates – – – except where he didn’t. Case in point is the passage that describes, as I had earlier written, the permission that starts the 70 weeks of Daniel 9. This is Nehemiah 2. Ussher sets this permission that Artaxerxes grants to Nehemiah as 454BC. However Lloyd sets the date at 445BC.

This error has both a Fruit and a Root.
The fruit is that more recent Bible editions – most famously, that of C.I. Scofield – followed this innovation of Lloyd’s. And many other reference Bibles and authors have since followed Scofield’s lead. This date is now the most common one put forth for the permission in Nehemiah 2. The result is that, given the math …

490 – 445 – 1 = 44 AD,

or, shaving off the last week,

482 – 445 – 1 = 36 AD,

the end point is clearly beyond the usually accepted time for Christ’s earthly ministry.

This needlessly causes scholars to look elsewhere for the starting point of the seventy weeks; usually either Ezra 7 (same king, earlier date) or Ezra 1 (earlier king, Cyrus, much earlier date).

The ones who settle on Cyrus are then forced to part what God has joined together – the seventy weeks – contrary to any Scriptural example or precept. This is where the unscriptural gap is introduced, and stop-watch chronology. Sir Robert Anderson, knowing that the math did not add up, added an innovation of his own: a 360-day year! Though the Jews did use months of 30 days, never do we read of a whole year of 360 days, and especiallly not larger spans of time entirely made up of these artificial – and fictional – units of time. But Anderson needed to tweak the dates to finesse the endpoint to the time of Christ’s earthly ministry.

The Root came much earlier.
I wrote “needlessly” above because that is exactly what all this is. This brings me back to the original, root mistake that happened well over two thousand years ago.

Once again we have a very careful historian, like Ussher. And once again we have a later generation of less careful historians covering up the tracks of the first; to the point where the testimony of the first – Thucydides, a contemporary of the actual events he writes – is discounted, or even forgotten, in the shuffle of time.

The importance of all this – and of the previous article – is that the Seventy Weeks prophecy has all been fulfilled in the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. No further fulfillment is looked for.

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We Know so Little about God

But we use big words as if we didn’t (know so little).

Every statement from us about Christ is bound to be an understatement (because of verses like Isa. 55:9). Even if we have the words right (and that is usually when we are closest to just using Scripture) we still understate in the sense that we don’t really understand the concepts we use of God.

I am not yet speaking about God, but of the words themselves. Words, in the final analysis, are pitiful instruments to tell of the wonderful truths of God – or many other things in this life. Very often, whether in some other branch of knowledge or in theology, we use words, not to come to grips with something hard to understand – but to make it go away. We do this with a semblance of “having tackled the problem”.

We give a name to the strange force of electricity. We tag it and bag it with eleven letters and neatly slot it away from our consciousness. But what is this electricity? Really?

Gravity?

Music?

Color?

Photosynthesis?

Such knowledge is too wonderful for us.

Eternity?

I have a chart, for instance, I have used both in teaching at church and at the school to show that we don’t really fathom what is involved by glibly saying God is infinite. The demonstration works like this: I first ask them a “stupid” question, as one of my students might have categorized it: “How many infinities are there?” They almost invariably say “one”.

Then I draw an X/Y chart on the board, showing, first of all, how there is an infinite number of positive numbers from zero to infinity. This is a no-brainer.

Then I draw another line from zero backwards to negative infinity. Heads start scratching here – the more insightful ones. This, after all, is another infinite set, and we have only drawn two lines! I can then show them that there seems to be ( I stay away from the indicative mode at this point. I want conclusions to come from them, or not at all) an infinite number of sets.

We have an infinity of all odd numbers,

Of all even numbers,

Of all multiples of, say, 8

And this can go on, well, ad infinitum, each set trailing off into its own domain of infinity. All separate yet, so it seemed at first, equal. An infinite number of infinities! I finally end my demonstration with putting a large circle around the whole chart, saying that this represents all that we can fathom about infinity.

Then I write a large “G” in front. And a large “D” at the other end, spelling “GOD”. This spells out the truth that God is bigger than we can ever imagine. (I have since found out that my “discovery” has long been made by a mathematician of two centuries ago, George Cantor, and that there is a whole branch of math called “set theory”.) We say God is “infinite”. But we are saying much more than we can comprehend.

How is God infinite?

Infinite in time: Eternality. Moses said of Him (Psalm 90:2) “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.” (“everlasting to everlasting”= Eternal). Only God is truly eternal. Though Christians have eternal life, it is only so from this time forward, not backward. See also Deut. 32:40; 1st Tim. 6:16.Infinite in Knowledge: Omniscient: (“all-knowing”).Psalm 139 describes this and the following two aspects of God (omnipotent and omnipresence). Verses 1- 6 refer to omniscience. Also Psa. 147:4- 5.

Everything God planned, He did from eternity past.

He knows the future because His will is done in it and His wisdom and omnipotence brings it about.

Infinite in Power: Omnipotent: (“All-powerful”) “El Shaddai”. This is God’s total ability to achieve His perfect will. “Is anything too hard for God?” (Jer. 32:17, 27)

Infinite in Space (Immensity): Omnipresent: He is everywhere. Psalm 139:7- 12.God fills every part of space with His whole Being! “Do I not fill heaven and Earth?”: I Kings 8:27. See also Isa. 66:1, Jer. 23:23- 24.This is not pantheism. God is everywhere, but He is not everything. “Immensity” means not just that God is everywhere, but that He is surely present in every place.

All of God is in the room in which you, my friend, are reading these words, wherever you are. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,Even there Your hand shall lead me,And Your right hand shall hold me. – Psalm 139:7-10

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