Posts Tagged ‘Godhead’

JESUS’ RIDE TO DESTINY

 

Daniel had foretold the appearance of the Messiah around five hundred years earlier in his famous prophecy of the seventy weeks. In Daniel 9:25, the angel Gabriel tells Daniel that from the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince would be a total of sixty nine “weeks” of years, or 483 prophetic years, which amounts to 173,880 days. When that very day arrived 483 prophetic years from Artaxerxes’ command to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 B.C., Jesus presented Himself at Jerusalem as King and Savior. The event is recorded in Matthew 21:1-11, the first three verses of which describe Jesus’ acquisition of two asses for His journey into Jerusalem:

“And when they drew near to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying to them, Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her; loose them and bring them to me. And if any man say anything to you, you shall say, The Lord has need of them, and immediately he will send them.”

It has been said that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass to show His humble nature. But He was following the lead of King Solomon as well, who also came on a mule to receive his kingship over Israel. That earlier event is described in 1 Kings 1:33,38 and 39:

“The king [David] also said to them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon, my son, to ride upon my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon . . .So Zadok, the priest, and Nathan, the prophet, and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon King David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok, the priest, took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save King Solomon.”

Around the middle of the nine hundred or so years between Solomon and Jesus, the prophet Zechariah in verse 9:9 predicted this very event, where Jesus would follow Solomon’s lead in riding a lowly animal to be crowned King of Israel.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King comes to you, he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.”

The foretelling of this event is one of a large number of prophecies in which the Holy Spirit, through the writings of obedient humans, displayed the character of the Jesus to come. In this case, Jesus showed His humble nature, but also acknowledged His rightful Kingship over Israel and His believers throughout history.

Elsewhere in Scripture the Gospels affirm that Jesus also acknowledged His Godhood and the importance that He placed in the Spiritual domain as opposed to the material world. In John 8, for example, Jesus identified Himself as God of Abraham who also had spoken to Moses in the burning bush:

“Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I AM.”

Notice here how the Pharisees were so fixated on the material world that they couldn’t comprehend Jesus’ pre-existence in the spiritual domain. Yet, through His healing acts, Jesus demonstrated how thoroughly He controlled the material world, showing man that the spiritual world is of far greater significance than the material domain. Jesus constantly told His disciples that a greater life awaits them out of this world that we find ourselves in, a domain that is worthy of a greater allegiance than our material world. Jesus brings this point home in John 17 as He prays to His heavenly Father:

“And now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

THE TIMING OF THE WISE MEN’S VISIT TO JESUS

 

This discussion of the timing of the Wise Mens’ visit to Jesus includes a reconciliation between the alleged inconsistency between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in their accounts of Jesus’ birth.

At first glance, the story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew appears to conflict with the account given in the Gospel of Luke. The event, in Matthew’s account, is accompanied by violence against the young males in Bethlehem, danger for Jesus, and the flight of Jesus’ family into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Luke, on the other hand, presents a peaceful scenario surrounding the birth of Jesus.

According to Matthew 2:1-16:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And when they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet [Micah in Micah 5:2], And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of you shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, enquired of them diligently about what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they left him; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Keep in mind two items from the above account: first, to enquire diligently is to ask for details. The details were such that Herod must have suspected that Jesus was up to two years old at the time of the Wise Men’s visit.

Second, the wise men came into Jesus’ house, not the manger. Both of these facts point to the visit of the Wise Men having taken place at some time after His birth.

The corresponding account of the event of Jesus’ birth from Luke’s perspective is presented in Chapter 2 of his gospel:

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told to them.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

Luke’s account, unlike that of Matthew’s, paints a peaceful scenario, one in which the family of Jesus makes an uneventful return from Bethlehem, one that includes the presentation of Jesus to the Lord at Jerusalem. But Mary also had to wait until her purification was completed before Jesus was presented at the temple. The Mosaic law that specifies the post-birth purification is given in Leviticus 12:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If a woman has conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying thirty three days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are fulfilled.”

According to this purification rite, Mary had to wait at least forty one days, and possibly longer, depending on her health, before presenting Jesus to the temple. During this time, there is no suggestion in Luke’s account of any violence or effort of Herod’s attempt on Jesus’ life. Rather, in harmony with the details of Matthew’s account, this peaceful interlude points to the likelihood that the visit of the Wise Men didn’t occur until after Mary’s purification period, and possibly years after.

The distance that the Wise Men had to travel after seeing the star in their homeland also suggests a lengthy time duration between their first sight of the star and their arrival at Bethlehem, which would place their arrival well after Jesus’ birth. But why would the Wise Men associate that star with the birth of Jesus? Bible scholar Hal Lindsey has suggested that the Wise Men were members of a cadre of Persian mystics whose Chaldean forbears had access to the teachings of Daniel during his captivity in Babylon. The information imparted to them by Daniel may well have included the prophecy of seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24-27, which would have given the Wise Men an understanding with virtually pinpoint accuracy of when Jesus would appear. When the star appeared to them, its timing must have identified it with Jesus as well as pointing to the direction of Jesus’ birth from their location.

The Wise Mens’ wisdom consisted in their faith in Daniel’s prophecy and their diligence in observing the sky for confirmation and direction.

THE IMPORTANCE OF JONAH

 

The book of Jonah in the Old Testament is tiny, occupying but one or two pages in the Bible. Because his story is so short, Jonah is often mistaken for the most minor of prophets, interesting to us only for his adventure with the fish where he gets swallowed alive and comes out of it still living. But if this is true, why did Jesus refer to him several times in a way that makes Jonah out to be a pretty important person? As a matter of fact, Jesus seems to puff him up out of all proportion to anything that Jonah might have done to deserve this honor. But then, we already appreciate that the Word of God is far deeper than we might see from a quick reading of it.

At first, the story of Jonah makes him out to be anything but noble. Jonah had run away from God after He had told him to preach to the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent of their wickedness. He went aboard a boat that was going in the opposite direction from where God told him to go.

“But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them . But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, What are you about, O sleeper? Arise, call upon your God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we don’t die.

“And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us draw straws, that we may know who is responsible for this evil. So they drew straws, and Jonah got the short straw. Then they said to him, Tell us, we ask you, why this evil is upon us; What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?

“And he said to them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.

“Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said to him, Why have you done this? . . .Then said they to him, What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

And he said to them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm to you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. . .So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

. . .Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. . .”

When Jonah was expelled from the fish he went on to serve the Lord by preaching to the Ninevites. From the king on down they heeded his words, so that to him was attributed the saved souls of the entire city (which now is overlain by the city of Mosul, in Iraq).

The reason for Jesus’ promotion of Jonah to the ranks of the great prophets is that Jonah was allowed to represent the sacrificial Jesus who willingly laid down his life for his fellow man. In being swallowed by the sea creature and eventually being vomited out, Jonah also represented the Jesus who descended into the claustrophobic grave for three days and was resurrected.

Jesus recognized Jonah’s contribution to His nature and purpose by the most intimate of methods: He re-enacted the essence of Jonah’s Old Testament drama in the New Testament, and by so doing notified His disciples that He, too, must die and descend into the grave for three days and three nights. The account is given in the eighth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:

“And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we’re about to die.

“And he said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

As a side point, there are several accounts, some as recent as the past century, in which whalers have been swallowed whole by their quarry and emerged alive through the ordeal, some having been trapped for several days. In one of the modern events of this nature as related in a Readers’ Digest story, the seaman was blinded by the gastric juices and remained an albino for the rest of his life. But he lived.

In John 21:15-17, after Jesus’ resurrection, He forgave His disciple Peter three times for the three times Peter denied Him. In this instance, Jesus again refers to the prophet Jonah, this time applying the name to Peter.

“So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these? He said to him, Yea, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? He said to him, Yea, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Do you love me? And he said to him, Lord, you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.”

Peter eventually must have figured out that instead of grieving over Jesus’ repetitive commands, he should have been very grateful, for in commanding Peter three times to feed His sheep, Jesus was also forgiving him three times, once each for Peter’s three denials of Him. As described in Acts, Peter did indeed go on to feed Jesus’ sheep three times: in the first incident, given in Acts 2 Peter brought three thousand people to salvation in Jesus; in the second, described in Acts 3, Peter saves five thousand; and in the third, according to Acts 10, Peter through the conversion of the Italian Cornelius, extends salvation to the entire Gentile community.

Why did Jesus label Peter as the son of Jonah? Probably because, like Jonah, Peter feared the anger of those around him if he were to try to fulfill what God wanted to do with him. In Jonah’s case, God had told him to preach repentance to the citizens of Nineveh. Jonah tried to duck out of this responsibility by boarding ship and sailing away as far as he could from that business. In Peter’s case, he tried to distance himself from Jesus in the face of the crowd’s clamor for Jesus’ punishment and death. Both Jonah and Peter eventually mustered the courage to complete God’s tasks for them, at considerable risk to their lives. Peter himself was eventually crucified for his commitment to the risen Jesus but by then, of course, he had the comfort and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As another side note, Nineveh’s repentance lasted only a little over a century. The city’s debauchery eventually grew to such an awful extreme that God was moved to destroy it through the armies of Nebudchadnezzar in 612 B.C. This sad event was foretold by the prophet Nahum in the book of that name in the Bible. Eerily, this book reads like a modern news account of trends in the United States and God’s response to them.

THE TIME OF THE ABOMINATION IN DANIEL

 

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 end-time prophecies, 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 Arab antichrist. I agree with Baxter 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 this view 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), . . .”

The problem with that is that since the beginning of the Christian era, the temple of God has been considered 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. Their 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. 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 come to the 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 deslate.”

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. This would be the midpoint of the week spoken of by Daniel. 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 began on the mosque and dome, and represents the midpoint of the week in Daniel 9:27.

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 Revelation11:1 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 structure were built. 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. The beginning of this “week” would be 555 B.C., the date at which Balshazzar of the famed handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5) became co-regent of Babylon.

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 706 A.D.

This leads to the year 1948 A.D., the year that Israel resumed as a nation.

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.

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DANIEL’S PROPHECY OF JESUS’ FIRST ADVENT

 

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel an amazing wealth of prophetic information in response to his supplication to the Lord. More remarkable yet is that it is encapsulated in a mere four verses: Daniel 9:24-27:

“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.

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

“And after sixty 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 of it shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined.

“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.”

Not only is there an abundance of information in those four verses, but some of that prophetic information already has been fulfilled. The timing of its fulfillment is of astonishing accuracy. Of particular interest in this regard is the second of these four verses, Daniel 9:25, which foretells when Jesus will appear in His first advent. This event, which was to take place about five hundred years after the prophecy was written, occurred just as foretold, even to the very day that Jesus made His triumphal entry on an ass into Jerusalem.

As a side note, Jesus’ riding on an ass re-enacted Solomon’s riding on a similar animal to be crowned King over Israel. The account is given in 1 Kings 1:38:

“So Zadok, the priest, and Nathan, the prophet, and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon King David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok, the priest, took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save King Solomon.”

Moreover, Jesus’ entry on an ass was specifically foretold in Zechariah 9:9 by that prophet:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King comes to you; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.”

But it was Daniel who had captured the event’s timing. According to verse 9:25, there would be a time interval of sixty nine weeks from a certain event to Jesus’ appearance. There is no coded equivalence here. A week is simply a group of seven units of time. Here, it is obvious from the prophecy’s fulfillment that the unit of time that Daniel was writing of is a year, which is usually understood to be a prophetic year of 360 days’ duration. A week in this prophecy, therefore, is a time interval of seven prophetic years.

The event that was to start the prophetic time interval was a commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The commandment that matches that event was a decree issued by Persian King Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. This event is detailed in the Book of Nehemiah. The situation is summarized in Nehemiah Chapter 2:

“And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, the king, that wine was before him; and I took up the wine, and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. Wherefore, the king said unto me, Why is your countenance sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very much afraid. And said to the king, Let the king live forever. Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ supulchers, lies waste, and its gates are consumed with fire? Then the king said to me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to God of heave. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would send me unto Judah, to the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it. And the king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? And when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.”

The walls were rebuilt in troublous times indeed; in Nehemiah’s account, the workers had to have their weapons ready at hand as they worked. The rebuilding project took 49 prophetic years (the first 7 weeks of Daniel 9:25).

Including the additional 62 weeks (434 prophetic years) prophesied in Daniel 9:25, the 69-week time to Messiah from Artaxerxes’ decree was 173,880 days, (the product of 483 and 360), which agrees with astonishing precision with the estimated date of April 6, 32 A.D. for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

For the person who wishes to delve deeper into this prophecy, further details can be obtained by Googling “Jesus’ triumphal entry 69 weeks after Artaxerxes’ decree”.

It is important to keep in mind that the decree of Artaxerxes was made after the decree of Cyrus to end the seventy-year captivity of Judah. The decree of Cyrus was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and is covered in the Book of Ezra, while the decree of Artaxerxes, as described in Daniel 9:25, was to rebuild the city of Jerusalem itself and is covered in the Book of Nehemiah.

JESUS’ RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS

 

Chapter 11:1-44 of John’s Gospel describes the event of Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus.

“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister, Martha. (It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore, his sisters sent to him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not for death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified by it.

“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard, therefore, that he was sick, he remained another two days in the same place where he was. Then, after that, he said to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.”

Jesus’ disciples thought at first that Lazarus was merely asleep. They questioned Him as to why, if that were the case, he needed to go to him, along a route they knew was dangerous for him. Jesus responded directly by telling them that Lazarus was dead. He followed that with an enigmatic statement:

“And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that you may believe; nevertheless, let us go to him.”

By the time that Jesus got to Lazarus’ place, he had already been dead for four days. When Martha and Mary complained about His delay in getting to Lazarus, He reassured them that Lazarus would rise again. Then He made the following statement:

“I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believes in me, though he was dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

When Jesus saw Mary weeping along with Lazarus’ friends, He asked where Lazarus had been laid, and wept along with them. The friends marveled at this demonstration of Jesus’ love for Lazarus. When Jesus came to the cave where Lazarus was, He asked that the covering stone be removed. Martha responded with horror, reminding Jesus that after four days, Lazarus would have the stench of death. At this, Jesus reminded her that if she would believe, she would see the glory of God. When the covering stone was removed, Jesus lifted up His eyes and, for the sake of the belief of the onlookers, thanked His Father for hearing Him. With that, He commanded Lazarus,

“Lazarus, come forth.”

Lazarus responded to this command by stepping alive out of the cave, still in his graveclothes.

On the surface, this story is worthwhile for demonstrating Jesus’ compassion toward Lazarus, and for His supernatural ability to perform a resurrection. But the story prods us to look for a deeper significance, in the odd circumstance of Jesus waiting for another two days before performing the resurrection. Surely He knew how Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ close friends would be grieving, and that his loitering around would serve to prolong their suffering. It would almost seem that Jesus was rather indifferent to the whole business, a thought that clashes with the fact that Jesus made a hazardous journey to reach Lazarus, and that He wept, and that He did perform the resurrection.

The apparent contradictions of motive in the story point out that something else is in play here – that the resurrection was a far more important event than simply reviving Lazarus. Jesus was actually prophesying His own resurrection. Sense can be made that He waited until Lazarus was dead four days before resurrecting him only if there is a significance to the period of four days that is associated with this prophecy.

Verse 4 of Psalm 90 gives us an interesting clue as to what that significance might be.

“For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

If this was the only passage that presented a specific relationship among specific periods of time, one might be tempted to dismiss the association as reading too much into the verse. But there is another verse, 2 Peter 3:8, that describes that same relationship:

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Moreover, the implication of Jesus raising Lazarus after the fourth day is not the only association of four days with Jesus’ appearance. There is an even more basic one, the Passover that pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God. The Passover event, as described in Exodus 12, includes a significant four-day period in verses 3 and 6 just before the killing of the lamb:

“Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house . . . And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”

Here is that same time period, when the lamb has been kept until after the fourth day, after which he was killed. Jesus as the Lamb of God was crucified after the fourth millennium from Creation.

Furthermore, God in Scripture makes other precise relationships among time periods, as in Ezekiel 4:6, where the following sentence may be found:

“I have appointed you each day for a year.”

In the sense of a day for a thousand years, Jesus came to Earth on the Fourth Day since Creation, confirming that His birth in the midst of a seven-millennium history of man of itself was a prophecy of His own resurrection.

It also confirms God’s use of time equivalence in Scripture.

JESUS QUOTES THE PROPHET ISAIAH

 

The prophet Isaiah, who lived in the eighth century B.C., is a prominent source of Old Testament prophecies that address the Jesus to come. Among these prophecies is the passage in Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet describes Jesus as being born of a virgin, and the passage in Isaiah 9:1 and 2, where Isaiah claims that Jesus will come from Galilee. Because so many of his prophecies depict such accurate facts about Jesus, some would-be Bible scholars attempted to claim that the Book of Isaiah was written after Jesus’ first advent. This claim was shown to be false by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the documents of which were dated to before Christ and which contained the complete Book of Isaiah.

Jesus also quoted passages of Isaiah, confirming their truth. Isaiah 61:1-2a reads as follows:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the

Lord . . .”

Jesus, in Luke 4:16-21, is quoted as saying essentially the same words as Isaiah. And well He should, as He was reading from a scroll.

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet, Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has 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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

“And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

But what adds authority to Jesus’ words is that in quoting Isaiah, He didn’t finish the entire verse, the rest of which reads:

“. . .and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Isaiah goes on to describe the blessings with which God will endow the nation of Israel.

Why did Jesus break off Isaiah’s prophecy in mid-sentence? Because in the synagogue He was describing just what He would accomplish regarding Isaiah’s prophecy in His first advent. The remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy was related to Jesus’ Second Coming, as foretold in the Book of Revelation.

Another passage of Isaiah that was quoted by Jesus is in Isaiah 6:9 and 10:

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see you indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and are converted, and be healed.”

Jesus often spoke of the necessity of having eyes to see and ears to hear what He is teaching. In Mark 4:12, He quotes Isaiah 6:9 and 10 almost verbatim:

“That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

These passages seem to say that God gives a saving knowledge of Him to some people but denies it to others. Is this what He’s really saying? There is another passage, in Matthew 11:25-27 that seems so say just that.

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes.

“All things are delivered to me by my Father, and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, but the Son, and Him to whomever the Son will reveal Him.”

Why would God deny knowledge of Him to some, as this passage clearly states? In Matthew 13:11-16, Jesus repeats this denial, and gives us an answer as to why, with a commentary similar to that in His Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25).

“[Jesus] answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

“For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has.

“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, By hearing, you shall hear and shall not understand, and seeing, you shall see and not perceive; for this people’s heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”

What Jesus was saying is that some people are so full of selfishness and pride and so caught up in the secular, material world that they don’t think of God as even relevant to their lives. They cannot understand, primarily because they don’t want to. Paul picked up on this failing of secular-minded people in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them who believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Gentiles seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but to them who are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.