Archive for the ‘love’ Category

THE TIME OF THE ABOMINATION SPOKEN BY DANIEL

 

Note to the reader: this article was posted recently, but given the chaotic political events of the past few weeks and a forthcoming event in the heavens, it deserves to be repeated and thoroughly digested because of its uniqueness. The posting does engage in date-setting, not with respect to the day or the hour, but only, as Scripturally-encouraged, the year, and perhaps secondarily the season. It may or may not represent truth; like its many predecessor attempts, it could well turn out to be a false alarm; if that turns out to be the case, I’ll be relieved and happy to continue pursuing the joys of a normal life. As a matter of fact, this will be the last posting for about three weeks, not because I’ll be going into hiding, but simply because my wife Carolyn and I will be vacationing.

An effort to understand where we are in time with respect to Jesus’ second advent is considered to be improper in some Christian circles. After all, Jesus Himself declared in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) that “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Pastors for centuries have used those words to justify their neglect of prophecy despite the fact that at least a fourth of the Bible is devoted to prophecy, and that in Matthew 24 and elsewhere, including Revelation, Jesus Himself provided us with some very detailed prophecies of end-time events. Moreover, Jesus also chastised the Pharisees regarding their indifference toward prophecies relating to their own times, saying in Matthew 16 “When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather; for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and overcast. O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?”

The bottom line is that although we may not have access to the specific day or hour of the end of the age, we are encouraged – no – commanded – to understand that approximate time, perhaps even to the year and month. Paul seconds this perception in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:

“But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as travails a woman with child, and they shall not escape.

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all children of light, and children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober-minded.”

Courageous Christian scholars like Hal Lindsey have taken those words to be marching orders, developing a view of end-time events and timing that is now accepted throughout the Christian community as standard. In that view, derived chiefly from Daniel 7 and 9, Matthew 24 and Revelation, the world will endure a seven-year Tribulation Period, the latter three and a half years of which will be the terrible Great Tribulation of widespread suffering and enormous destruction. A prime cause of this pain will be a general descent into ungodliness and rejection of God which will support the rise of a one-world government, including an economic system in which anybody who wishes to conduct a normal life will be required to worship the dark leader to come by accepting an electronic implant. In the light of Daniel 9:26, the world leader will have Roman roots. Christians will escape the brunt of this awful period through the pre-Tribulation Rapture, where they will meet Jesus Christ in the air.

More recently, Irvin Baxter has challenged some of these assumptions. Among these differences, Baxter views the Rapture as occurring at the end of the Tribulation, rather than at the beginning. Because the actual destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple was carried out by local Arab conscripts under the Roman leadership, Baxter interprets Daniel 9:26 as allowing for an antichrist out of the Mideast. Baxter may well have the edge on Lindsey (and a great many others) on both of these points.

Lindsey and Baxter agree on a seven-year Tribulation, in the midst of which the antichrist commits the Abomination of Desolation in the Jerusalem temple. For that reason, they hold to the expectation, as do virtually all other prophetic scholars, that a third temple will be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in order that an abomination may be committed against it.

The seven-year Tribulation and its midpoint deserve further clarification. The source of the generally-accepted view on how the Tribulation as its associated events fits into Bible eschatology is Daniel 9:27, in which the antichrist will confirm the covenant (interpreted as a peace treaty) with many for one week (of years); in the middle of the week he stops the temple sacrifice and initiates the Abomination of Desolation. Jesus Himself referred to this abomination in Matthew 24:15:

“When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever reads, let him understand), . . .”

There is a problem with the standard interpretation of this passage, and it is far from trivial. Since the beginning of the Christian era, the temple of God has been considered to be the Church, with its members indwelt by the Holy Spirit as did the Shekinah Glory indwell the Tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s Temple. Moreover, and of more immediate import to the present discussion, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock also occupy space on the Temple Mount. This occupation for a very long time has excluded the possibility of rebuilding the Jewish Temple on that site. The Islamic presence there, having taken place after Jesus spoke of Daniel in Matthew 24, is itself an abomination that attempts to glorify Islam over the God of Scripture, a situation which is as monstrous as imaginable to the followers of the Hebrew God. I find it difficult to understand why such an important event would have been overlooked by Bible scholars and not have been spoken of in Scripture.

After some reflection on this state of affairs, I have arrived at the rather obvious conclusion that this event was indeed spoken of in Scripture, being the very Abomination of Desolation noted by both Daniel and Jesus. The relevant account is Daniel 9:27:

“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.”

If indeed the mosque and the dome are the abominations, history records the start of their construction as 687 A.D. and their completion as 705/6 A.D. If indeed this construction represents the abomination of desolation, one of these dates would be an appropriate midpoint of the week spoken of by Daniel 9:27. The span of time involved would appear to be considerably longer than the present understanding of seven years. This assessment is confirmed in Daniel 12:11:

“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”

The temple was first destroyed by Nebudchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C., an event that was foremost in Daniel’s mind. There is a precedent in Ezekiel 4:4 and 5 for assigning a day for a year. Another precedent, borne out in the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:26 regarding the timing of Jesus’ first advent, is that a prophetic year consists of 360 days.

Given this information, the 1290-year interval between the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. and the abomination of desolation can be calculated in terms of actual time. Applying a conversion of prophetic to actual years to the 1290 figure results in 1272 actual years. Adding that to the time of the temple’s destruction in 586 B.C. one arrives at a date of 687 A.D. As noted above, this is precisely the date that construction, or the “setting up” began on the mosque and the dome. Whether or not it represents the midpoint of the week will be ascertained below.

That particular week begins with a different event, the confirmation of a covenant, commonly understood as the antichrist’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel. The duration of this “week” can be found in Revelation 11:1 and 2:

“And there was given me a reed like a rod; and the angel stood, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship in it. But the court, which is outside the temple, leave out, and measure it not, for it is given to the gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty two months.”

If the gentiles here are taken as the followers of Islam and the court outside the temple refers to that area occupied by the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, a time duration of forty two months would apply from the time that these structures were completed rather than begun, as then the Islamic structures would be in use. The projects were completed in 705/6 A.D.

A prophetic month has a duration of thirty days. Just as Daniel’s “weeks” were intended to represent “sevens” of years, so also may the “months” in this passage represent “thirties” of years. In that interpretation, forty two months is equivalent to 1260 years, which would be the midpoint of a 2520-year duration. (As a side point, it is interesting to note that 2520 years is equivalent to 360 weeks of years, or a prophetic year of weeks.) Looking backward 1260 prophetic years, or 1242 actual years according to the ratio of 360 to 365.25, from this “midpoint” of 705 A.D., one arrives at the date of 537 B.C. Is this date significant with respect to the confirmation of a covenant with Israel?

Yes, emphatically so. As described in the Book of Ezra, the Persian King Cyrus, as specifically foretold by the prophet Isaiah (Is 44:28) long before Cyrus’ birth, assumed control over Babylon seventy years after her captivity precisely as predicted by Jeremiah (Jer 25:12). Cyrus issued a decree permitting Israelites to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. Wikipedia and other sources place the subsequent Israelites’ return in confirmation of the decree, or covenant, at 537 B.C. Some Internet sources place the decree itself at that date.

Looking forward from this midpoint of 705/6 A.D., the corresponding interpretation of this passage in Revelation regarding the latter half of the “week” is that the Temple Mount is given to the gentiles for a duration of 1260 prophetic years, or 1242 actual years, from their completion in 705/6 A.D.

This leads to the year 1948 A.D., the year that Israel resumed as a nation. It would take another nineteen years for Israel to recapture the Temple Mount, but, like God’s promise to Caleb regarding the possession of Hebron, when Israel became a nation again, she clearly possessed God’s promise that the Temple Mount belonged to her as well.

In Daniel 12:12 another duration is listed, this one being considerably more optimistic:

“Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty five days.”

This duration is usually taken to include the 1290-day period noted in the previous verse. This interpretation is not necessary – it is just as likely that it refers to an entirely separate duration, consecutive rather than an extension. Assuming that to be the case, also assuming that the “days” represent prophetic years, a conversion from prophetic to actual results in the number 1316, which, when added to the completion date of the mosque and dome, results in the year 2021 A.D. Given the blessed nature of this date, it is possible that it represents the end of the Tribulation period, which would be the time of Jesus’ second advent.

But there’s other information to consider. Many prophecies have two fulfillments, one being of a long duration and the other being of a shorter time period. It is possible that this prophecy is one of them, wherein besides the long-term fulfillment noted above, the more common interpretation of a shorter, seven-year period at the very end will also come into play.

Suppose, in that context, the year 2021 A.D. does indeed represent the end of the seven-year Tribulation. The Great Tribulation, then, would begin three and a half years before that, or in the middle of 2017 to early-to-mid 2018. Interestingly, this would also be around the seventieth anniversary of Israel’s nationhood in 1948, and around the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 War in which Israel took back the Temple Mount. This anniversary could be immediately subsequent to a Jubilee Year for Israel, as there is a Jubilee after every forty-nine years, and the reclamation of the Temple Mount in 1967 would have been an excellent occasion for a Jubilee year.

It’s quite possible, almost probable, that the speculation made here will, like its numerous predecessors, fail to be fulfilled. But we do know one thing: it won’t take long to find out.

NAMING THE ANIMALS

 

In Genesis 2, God pronounces it not good that Adam should be without a mate. But before He proceeds to do something about it, He brings the animals of His Creation to Adam and asks him to name them. Then he forms Eve out of Adam’s rib.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help fit for him.

“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help fit for him.

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

This passage raises a number of questions, particularly in the sequence of events, but with other issues besides. Why did God insert the naming of the animals between His concern over Adam being alone and His forming of Eve? What was so important about Adam naming the animals? How could he possibly name all the animals, given the enormous diversity of life?

As to the first issue, the sequence of the Biblical narrative, I like best an answer picked off the Internet on the Creation Moments website: God was using the simple tool of names to teach Adam to communicate, a skill that he would then pass on to Eve, enabling them to bond through joint communication. That answer is appealing, as it would be a valid prerequisite to the event of bringing Adam and Eve together, much to be preferred to the two staring dumbly at each other and at a total loss for words.

This reason also answers in part the second issue, the importance of Adam naming the animals. But there are other important reasons other than helping Adam to communicate with Eve, one of which is that in having Adam name the animals, God was asserting that these creatures were fixed kinds, finished designs whose basic properties would remain intact throughout history. Thus, this episode in Adam’s life is a slap in the face to Darwin’s theory of evolution, which postulates that life is unceasingly undergoing change. In Darwin’s view, all life is in constant transition from one form to another, so that the animals we see now are simply snapshots in time of what may be very different in the future.

Noted biochemist Douglas Axe captures the essence of this contrast between God’s stability of form with Darwin’s corresponding instability in Chapter 6 of his book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms our Intuition that Life is Designed. There, under the heading “Life A La Darwin”, Axe speaks of the salmon and the Orca whale, each very different but “utterly committed to being what it is”. Life, as Axe sees it, magnificently represents completion of form, creatures living precisely as God designed them to live.

This stability of form leads to the next issue, the question as to how Adam could have named all the animals, even within his very long lifetime. If all kinds of life are stable as was asserted above, the very diversity of life would not only indicate that this variety existed at the time of Adam, but also would make his task extremely difficult. At this point I’ll make a statement that appears to directly contradict this supposed stability of life: there were a relatively few “kinds” of animals that Adam was asked to name; first they were limited to birds and the larger animals; second, these “kinds” were the much-fewer basic precursors whose offspring branched out after Noah’s Flood to the diversity we see today. But then one might say, “See? Animals aren’t stable in form at all!” But the post-Flood diversity has much more to do with designed-in adaptability than actual change corresponding to the evolutionary model. The difference is that God’s engine of change is His inclusion in DNA of pre-existing alternate design modifications, whereas Darwin’s “engine” is dumb, random variation.

Take, for instance, the dog. There exists today an enormous variety of dogs of varying shapes, sizes and attributes. But they’re all still dogs, having the wolf as a common ancestor. The DNA of the wolf is information-rich, capable of accommodating plans “B”, “C”, and so on according to environmental conditions or the human interference of breeding. Most common breeds today are the product of the intelligent operation of selective breeding, and some, but not all, of their features would quickly revert back to those of their common ancestor if they were to be divested of their human overseers and go into the wild. It is true the Mexican hairless creature would be in serious trouble in another ice age because some features such as length of hair might be incapable of reversion. But that would be due to DNA information loss arising from forced breeding.

PERFECTION IN IMPERFECTION

 

This chapter is a digression from the primary theme of this volume, but is included here because it is so closely related to the information regarding Jesus’ feedings of the multitudes.

Having finished the analysis of the feedings as described in the previous chapter, I was left with a sense of disappointment in the little deviations from what I had pictured as what would be an ideal description of the details. Things just didn’t come together as I would have wished. The missing company of eleven in the array of the five thousand, for example, gnawed at me. Why would God do that?

Then I remembered that Elijah had fed a hundred individuals with twenty loaves. Those hundred, in a 20 x 5 configuration, actually furnished the template for a company. If Elijah’s company were to be inserted into the missing slot in the array of five thousand, it would make a perfect rectangle. Did God actually intend to imply that this should be done? What was His point?

The point, I finally realized, may have been that the arrays were intended to be integrated together. Applying that factor to the problem with the array of the four thousand being at right angles to the first array, I was astonished at the figure that was emerging from the integration: the array of the four thousand, placed atop that of the five thousand, began to look like a familiar figure, but yet imperfect in itself.

At this point, it will be useful to explore the Scriptural meaning of bread, and of Peter’s role with respect to it. In John 21, the risen Jesus shares breakfast with His disciples, and then addresses Peter, asking him the same question three times:

“Peter, do you love Me?”

Peter responds each time by affirming his love for Him, to which Jesus follows with a command:

“Feed my sheep.”

Peter, not appreciating that Jesus was gifting him with a threefold pardon for his denying Jesus three times, responds to each question with increasing anxiety. With the coming of Pentecost ten days after Jesus has left the earth, Peter is filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, enabling him to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to feed His sheep. He does so, three significant times. The first time he preaches Jesus to the salvation of three thousand.

But Peter’s feeding is with the word, not the bread. Perhaps, with the doing, he came to understand John’s characterization of Jesus in Chapter One of his Gospel that Jesus is the Word in the flesh. Maybe he began, then, to appreciate Jesus’ words, recorded in John 6:30-35 and 51-58, that the Word is the spiritual equivalent of material bread, and that the bread Jesus gave the multitudes was only incidental to the Word.

“They said, therefore, to [Jesus], what sign do you show us, then, that we may see, and believe you? What do you work? Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

“Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. Then they said to him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes on me shall never thirst.”

“I am the living bread who came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

“The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.

“As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he who eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven, not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead; he who eats of this bread shall live forever.”

Appreciating that the bread of significance in Scripture is the immortal Word of God, Peter’s feeding of three thousand with the Word took on real importance, to the extent that it should be integrated into the figure that was being formed. Accordingly, the three thousand were encapsulated in an array of ten symbolic rows of companies of 100 by three columns.

When this was added atop the array for the four thousand, which itself was atop the array of five thousand, the resulting figure stood out as a cross.

But what about that extra little three-company array? The answer was found in Matthew 27:37, which declares that a sign was placed on the cross over his head that stated in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” The sign is called the titulus, and belongs with the cross.

In passing on this message of the sign of the cross in Jesus’ feedings, I encountered a person who pointed out to me that my assumption that all the baskets had the same size was false. The basket for the feeding of the five thousand, I was told, was a small handbasket, whereas the basket for the feeding of the four thousand was larger. The smaller handbasket would be appropriate for 5 loaves per basket, but the larger basket could hold more.

Actually I didn’t assume a common basket size; rather, I assumed that the leftovers from the feeding of the menfolk were of a common number of five per basket.

There were women and children in addition to the menfolk in both feeding events. According to Mark 7:31 the four thousand were fed near Decapolis on the south shore of the Sea of Galilee, while, according to Luke 9:10, the five thousand were fed near Bethsaida on the north shore, the implication being that the four thousand were mostly Gentile, while the five thousand were primarily Jewish. Further weight is given to this difference by the fact that the seven baskets of the four thousand correspond to the seven representative Churches that Jesus addressed in Revelation 1:20, while the twelve baskets of the five thousand match the twelve tribes of Israel.

Christianity is more inclusive of women than Judaism as suggested in Acts 2:16-18, and this difference supports the possibility that the larger baskets for the four thousand included the leftovers from the womenfolk as well as those for the men. Yet the contribution from the menfolk in each basket would have remained at five.

THE GOOD SEED

 

Matthew Chapter Thirteen begins with Jesus speaking the Parable of the Sower to a multitude of people from a boat. In that parable of seeds that represent people who hear the salvation-promising Word of God, only a portion of them are able to understand what they heard, bring it in fullness into their hearts, and maintain it through the tribulations and attractions of the material world. Jesus finishes this parable with an obscure reference to numbers, saying that these will bear fruit, some a hundredfold, others sixtyfold, and yet others thirtyfold. He places no difference in attributes or character among those who produce more fruit and those who produce less.

The only arithmetic relationship that I have found among these numbers that is both simple and meaningful is the partial sums of the arithmetic sequence

KMn=1 (n + (n+1) + (n+2) + (n+3) + . . .)

For the values K = 10 and M = 2, 3 and 4, the corresponding sums are 30, 60 and 100. I presented this pictorially in Part 5, Chapter 2 my book Family of God as four columns of people, where each column consisted of the number of people associated with a particular value of M, and where the top person in the first row bore fruit by passing the Word of God to those behind them, and, if there was an adjacent column, to the top person in the next column. In that pattern, the top person in the column would feed 30 people if there were two columns, 60 if there were three columns, and 100 if there were four columns. In such an arrangement, the amount of fruit that the top person in the first column would bear would be entirely dependent on the number of adjacent columns, which would be beyond his control, and, in fact, something he might not even know if he was able to perceive only his column and the next. I saw in this parable and the associated numbers an intimate connection between it and the accounts of Jesus’ feedings of the multitudes, as both processes resulted in manifold increases. In numerous places, especially in the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly equates bread and eating with Himself as the Word of God. When He was feeding the multitudes He also was delivering the Word of God. The expansion of bread in these acts may be seen as merely symbolic of how the word of God is multiplied through word-of-mouth distribution. In fact, the miraculous element of the feedings was simply the restoration of the broken pieces of bread to wholeness with their transfer from one hand to the next, which is symbolic of the indestructible nature of the Word of God as it is handed from mouth to ear.

If some reasonable assumptions are made beforehand, there is sufficient numerical information in Scripture to calculate the answers to the numbers missing in the feeding accounts and to establish patterns by which the multitudes would have been fed. A vital piece of information beyond the Gospel accounts of the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand is the account in 2 Kings 4 of Elijah feeding a hundred people with twenty loaves of bread; another piece of information is the account, in Acts 2, of Peter feeding three thousand with the Word of God.

Picturing the feedings to be a process within an orderly array of people breaking bread, retaining a portion and passing the other to neighbors, I established the following restraints and relationships, particularly the ones that Jesus reminded His disciples about in Mark 8:

For the feeding of the five thousand: 5 thousand, 5 starting loaves given to His disciples to distribute per Matthew 6, 12 baskets of remainders.

For the feeding of the four thousand: 4 thousand, 7 starting loaves given to His disciples to distribute, 7 baskets of remainders.

All the twelve apostles, and only the twelve apostles, would participate in the initial distribution of loaves; thus five apostles would distribute for the five thousand and seven apostles would distribute for the four thousand.

The apostles would give one loaf each to a single company nearest them.

The basic organization of the men would be in companies of 50 and 100 per Mark 6, where the companies, per Elijah’s feeding in 2 Kings 4, would be arranged in a pattern of 20 x 5 for a company of 100, and 10 x 5 for a company of 50.

The collection of leftover bread would be on the basis of individuals rather than companies; each person in the final position would hand his leftover to a collector with a basket.

Performing the required calculations, the relationships were used to solve first the number of remainders per basket from the menfolk. The resulting number of 5 supported the following details:

For the five thousand, there were 5 columns corresponding to the 5 loaves and 5 apostles participating in the initial distribution; the center column consisted of companies of 100; the four outside columns consisted of companies of 50, resulting in 60 columns of individuals and 12 baskets of remainders; there were 17 rows of companies, resulting in 85 rows of individuals and producing 5100 individuals; one company of 100 was subtracted from this array to produce an exact number of 5000 individuals.

For the four thousand, a solution demanded that the orientation of this array be at right angles to that of the five thousand, requiring a substitution of rows for columns. With that orientation, there were 7 rows corresponding to the 7 loaves and 7 apostles participating in the initial distribution; all companies were of 50, resulting in 35 rows of individuals and 7 baskets of remainders; there were 11 columns of companies, resulting in 110 columns of individuals and producing 385 individuals, and leaving a much smaller array of 150 individuals in 3 companies of 50.

These patterns weren’t perfect. Jesus’ two feeding events seemed to generate three arrays rather than two, the largest array had a missing piece, and two of the arrays were at right angles to each other.

Yet the derived numbers matched perfectly with the numbers given in the Gospel accounts, and the patterns described above were the only ones that did so.

I found that once the calculations established the patterns for the feedings, the math was not necessary to verify the satisfaction of all the information in the Gospel accounts. A mere visual inspection of the patterns is all that is needed to confirm that they correctly represent that information. The calculations are presented as appendices in Family of God. A verbal description of the feedings with figures is included in my book Marching to a Worthy Drummer as Appendix Two. A strictly verbal description also is given in my novel Cathy.

If there is nothing else to say about the results, it is their proof of the amazing self-consistency of Scripture, even down to the smallest details. Scripture, as the Word of God, is pure truth.

But there is more to say about the results. It turns out that there is a message in the very characteristics that are thought of as imperfections. That will be the topic of the next post.

SIX MILLENNIA OF MANKIND’S HISTORY

 

Like the number forty in Scripture, the number seven also appears often, and actually is the most prominent of numbers. The multiple associations of a day with a millennium as presented earlier in Chapters One, Two and Five of this Part suggests that God has taken seven days of Creation and stretched them out into seven thousand years of human history.

That in this stretching of a day of the Lord into a thousand years is clear from Psalm 90 and 2 Peter 3:8. Beyond those direct equations of days to millennia is God’s obvious equation of the first day to a millennium in Genesis 2:17:

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die.”

As P.J. Hanley remarked in Chapter Five his book The Seven Lost Keys of End-Time Prophecy, Adam died before the end of a millennium at the age of 930 years. In fact, no human has ever lived to be a thousand years old. Given that limitation of Adam’s life to just under a thousand years, the “day” intended by God in Genesis 2:17 must have been a millennium. Hanley also asserts that the association of a day with a thousand years of human history was a common interpretation among the Jewish prophets and rabbis.

Further confirmation of this is abundant: the four days of keeping the Passover Lamb; the four days Jesus waited to resurrect Lazarus; the fourth millennium that had passed before Jesus’ first advent; the third day after the fourth day that Jesus referred to multiple times regarding His return to earth, the third day after the fourth day that brought Jesus to the wedding at Cana in anticipation of His marriage to His Church; Hosea’s prophecy in Hosea 6:2 of the restoration of Israel after two days; and the final millennium specified in Revelation.

A number of ideas were spawned around the middle of the nineteenth century that had a large effect on our perception of Scripture. Many of these ideas arose from our successes in technology and science. Some of them attempted to toss God away as no longer necessary, while others displayed a growing awareness that the time of Jesus’ return to earth may be approaching.

The latter half of the nineteenth century produced two men of exceptional intellect, vision and devotion to God, and who possessed a glimpse of the closure of this age. Their names were Sir Edward Denny, who wrote The Seventy Weeks of Daniel in 1849 and Henry Grattan Guinness, who published The Approaching End of the Age in 1878. Both of them pictured human history as occupying six millennia prior to the return of Christ on earth with His Church for the final millennium of Revelation. Each of them constructed cyclic representations of the six millennia of human history, but on very different logical bases and with equally different numbers. Astonishingly, they ended up at the same place. Just as amazingly, they were complementary, one cycle displaying the prominence of the number twelve, and the other of the number seven.

The numbers twelve and seven are both Scripturally significant, one being associated with Israel and the other with the Church.

Israel had twelve tribes; Jesus had twelve apostles; when Jesus fed the five thousand, Luke 9:10 tells us that the event took place near Bethsaida on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, a locale consisting primarily of Jews; from that event there were twelve baskets of leftovers.

In Revelation 1 through 3, Jesus addressed seven Churches; according to Mark 7:31, the four thousand were fed near Decapolis on the south shore of Galilee, where Gentiles were the dominant group, as with the Church; from that event there were seven baskets of leftovers.

Taking his cue from Daniel 9:24, Sir Edward Denny split his seven millennia of human history into twelve periods of 490 years each.

“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 the prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

Daniel’s weeks were periods of seven years each; seventy of them amount to 490 years. A period of 490 years also can be derived from the Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Joshua. Exodus 12:40 and 41 is very specific regarding the length of the Israelites’ stay in Egypt:

“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”

After that 430-year duration, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, and then spent the next thirteen years, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, in conquering the Promised Land. These three durations add up to 483 years, or sixty-nine weeks of years. A final seven years is assumed for a period where the Israelites settled into their new home in peace. Denny himself constructed a 490 period somewhat differently, using the 430-year duration of the Israelites’ stay in Egypt as the final segment of that period.

Each 490-year interval of Denny’s cycles, consisting of seven seventy-year periods, also introduces the number seven into his system. His twelve cycles amount to five thousand eight hundred and eighty years, which seem to be rather random until one realizes that each period of 490 years also includes ten symbolic Jubilee years. If these are added together, they amount over the twelve cycles to one hundred twenty years. Adding these 120 years to the 5880 years yields a total of six thousand years, or six millennia of human history.

Henry Grattan Guinness constructed his cycles from an entirely different perspective. He noted from Genesis 25:7-11 that Abraham died at the age of one hundred seventy five years, during which some important events in his life, like the birth of Isaac, occurred at twenty-five year intervals. From that, Guinness perceived that Abraham’s lifetime, in seven cycles of twenty five years, might represent the entire six-thousand-year sweep of human history. Dividing six thousand by seven, he came up with a figure of 857 and a lot of numbers past the decimal place. But then he may have noted that in six millennia there would be 120 Jubilees. If he subtracted these 120 symbolic years from the six thousand, he would arrive at a number of 5880 years. In dividing that number by seven, he found that it came out exactly to 840 years, furnishing a firm basis for his seven cycles. Furthermore, if he divided the number 840 by seven again, he came up with the number of 120, or twelve times ten. Attempting next to expand the 25-year duration of each cycle to 840 years, he came up with the number of 33.6, which he discovered to be the lifetimes of both Adam and Jesus.

So Denny, with his grand cycle of twelves, and Guinness, with his grand cycle of sevens, managed to come up with the same numbers for the six-millennium duration of man on earth prior to the final millennium: 5880 actual years plus 120 symbolic Jubilee years. Associated with these cycles is a wealth of information yet untapped.

FORTY DAYS IN THE LIVES OF MOSES AND JESUS

 

After Moses’ return from the top of mount Sinai with the stone tablets upon which God had written the Ten Commandments, he found that the people had returned to worshiping a golden calf cast from jewelry. In his intense anger, he broke the tablets. In his mercy, God allowed him to return to the mountain, where God would inscribe a second set of tablets with the Ten Commandments. The episode is recorded in Exodus 34:1-10 and 27-29:

“And the Lord said to Moses, Hew you two tables of stone like the first; and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which you did break. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with you, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. And [Moses] hewed two tables of stone like the first; and he rose up early in the morning, and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and to the fourth generation.

“And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. And he said, If now I have found grace in your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray you, go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance. And [the Lord] said, Behold, I make a covenant: Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awe-inspiring thing that I will do with you.”

“And the Lord said to Moses, Write you these words; for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. And [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

Moses’ time spent on Mount Sinai had a prophetic element, as the forty days and forty nights of his stay on the mountain in the presence of the Lord pointed to Jesus Christ and the identical time which He spent in the wilderness as His first act after being baptized. The account is given in all the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). The following is Matthew’s version of the event, Matthew 3:16 and 17, and 4:1-11:

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went immediately out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But [Jesus] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up to the holy city, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you, and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test. Again, the devil took him up to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus to him, Begone, Satan; for it is written, You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him only shall you serve. Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.”

Shortly after this forty-day period of trial, Jesus started His ministry. The Gospels don’t mention the number of days that passed between the two events, so one cannot dogmatically assume that it was ten. Nevertheless, it is a possibility that fifty days passed from the time of Jesus’ baptism to the beginning of his active ministry.

If that is indeed the case, the pattern of forty plus ten days continues beyond Jesus. In John 12:26 and 14:12, Jesus indicates that His disciples will follow His lead:

“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.”

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to my Father.

In John 20:22, apparently on the day following His resurrection, Jesus breathes on His disciples, conferring on them the Holy Spirit. He remained with them for forty days. From the time of Jesus ascension until the Pentecost ten days later, the disciples didn’t appear to have responded to the indwelling Holy Spirit. Their power from God came at the Pentecost, as described in Acts 2. Could that forty-plus-ten-day period have been a time of testing and strengthening for the disciples, as it may have been for Jesus?

The number forty is common in Scripture. Moses communed with God with a backdrop of terrifying violence while Jesus as God communed with His Word with a backdrop of terrifying evil. Both of them fasted for the duration. God granted Nineveh through Jonah forty days to get its act together.

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years; both David and his son Solomon reigned as kings for forty years.

THE TEN PERIODS OF SMYRNA’S PERSECUTION

 

In Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 Jesus dictated messages to John regarding seven Churches located in what is now Turkey. At the time John was in exile on the Island of Patmos, having been banished there by the Roman emperor Domitian for placing his Christian belief above the worship of the emperor. John’s vision occurred toward the end of the first century, before John was released at Domitian’s death in A.D. 96.

These Churches are, in the sequence that Jesus presented them, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The messages generally followed the same seven elements: Church name, the name Jesus chose for Himself in addressing them, a commendation, a concern over a matter that needed correction, an exhortation, a promise to the overcomer, and a closing statement. The closing statement was identical for all seven Churches: He that hath an ear, listen. Two Churches were singled out for having no commendation: Sardis and Laodicea; another two Churches were singled out for having no concern: Smyrna and Philadelphia.

These seven Churches are variously identified as seven Churches representative of Christianity at the time that Jesus delivered the message, as well as Churches that typified the prevailing character of the Church over seven sequential eras of Christianity, and Churches representative of Christianity over the entire Christian era from the first Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ. In actuality, the views are not mutually exclusive; they all have some validity. Corresponding to the sequential view, Christian theologians have associated an identification and time period for each Church, as follows:

Ephesus: Apostolic, first through fourth centuries

Smyrna: Persecuted, first through fourth centuries

Pergamos: Heretical, first through fourth centuries

Thyratira: Post-Constantine, fifth through ninth centuries

Sardis: Medieval, tenth through sixteenth centuries

Philadelphia: Missionary, sixteenth through nineteenth centuries

Laodicea: End-Time, twentieth century to the return of Jesus Christ to earth

The specific message given to Smyrna is presented in Revelation 2:8-11:

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things say the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive. I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things that you shall suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried, and you shall have tribulation ten days; be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.”

Over the years many Christians have wondered what Jesus meant by the ten days of persecution. I favor the opinion given by John Foxe in Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World. During the time interval ranging from A.D. 64 under the reign of Nero to A.D. 313 under Diocletian, Foxe in Chapters 1 and 2 of his work identified ten separate periods when persecution was particularly violent and widespread, typically a result of the Christian refusal to worship the Roman emperor as god. During these and subsequent persecutions, Christians remained nonviolent, holding fast to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, particularly His Word in Matthew 5:43-48 regarding the treatment of enemies:

“You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy; but I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you. That you may be the children of your Father, who is in heaven; for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love them who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? Do not even the heathen so? Be you, therefore, perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect.”

In fact, as a rule Christians under persecution have, in the spirit of Titus 3:1, generally attempted to follow the dictates of the governments of which they have been subjects. It only has been under a direct conflict of loyalty between God and the government that Christians have practiced civil disobedience. An example of that is given in Acts 5:26-29:

“Then went the captain with the officers, and brought [the apostles] without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council; and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we strictly command you that you should not teach in [Jesus Christ’s] name? And, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered, and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Persecution typically is not unexpected in the Christian community, except, perhaps, in those Churches having the Laodicean character. Jesus Himself gave Christians plenty of warning about it, typical examples being given in Matthew 5:10-12 and John 15:18-20:

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.”

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of this world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

It is an interesting fact that the persecution of the early Christians didn’t harm the Church in the least, but rather helped it grow. It strengthened those Christians who held fast in its wake and in the scattering of those who fled, it served to propagate the Gospel to lands that otherwise would not have known of Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offered.

A summary of Foxe’s take on the ten “days” of Smyrna’s persecution is presented in the table below.

PERIOD DATES PERSECUTOR COMMENT

1 54-68 Nero Peter and Paul killed

2 95-96 Domitian John Exiled to Patmos

3 104-117 Trajan

4 161-180 Marcus Aurelius Polycarp martyred

5 200-211 Septimus Severus

6 235-237 Maximus

7 249-251 Decius

8 257-260 Valerian

9 270-275 Aurelian

10 303-313 Diocletian worst persecution

After Diocletian’s persecution, Constantine became Emperor of Rome and legitimized Christianity, which led to growing complacence thereafter, a condition that continued to worsen until the Reformation, of which Martin Luther played a major part. The persecutions that occurred during the Middle Ages were largely associated with the Catholic Inquisition. Modern persecutions are primarily the result of the Muslim hatred toward Christians and the attempt of morally weak governments to maintain an uneasy peace between themselves and the Muslim communities within their borders.