Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

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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THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION SPOKEN OF BY DANIEL

 

In His Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24, Jesus calls Daniel to mind in the following statement (24:15-22):

“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), then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe to those who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing their children in those days! But pray that your flight be in the winter, neither on the sabbath day; for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

Jesus went on from there to speak of signs of what is called the tribulation period and of the time directly following that. In this passage Jesus is considered by most theologians to be speaking of a seven-year time of terrible events detailed more thoroughly in the Book of Revelation that have a worldwide effect just before Jesus Christ comes either for (post-tribulation rapture) or with (pre-tribulation rapture) His Church.

Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of an abomination of desolation, and this passage is usually interpreted as being in lockstep with Matthew 24:15, describing the death of Jesus for our sakes, followed by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Antichrist in the middle of a seven-year tribulation period that is to be initiated by a peace treaty with Israel. After causing the normal sacrifice to stop, the Antichrist sets up the abomination of desolation.

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for 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 until 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 to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end of it will 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.”

The portion of this passage that deals with the timing of Jesus’ first advent was covered in an earlier chapter. Sixty nine weeks of years after the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Jesus appears in the flesh. Daniel tells us here that after Jesus’ crucifixion at the end of the sixty-nine week period, there will be a prince to come. This prince is usually interpreted as the Antichrist, whose people, according to Daniel, will destroy Jerusalem and the Temple again. This destruction is usually perceived as coming much earlier than the coming of the Antichrist, being the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple that occurred in 70 A.D.

Because the General who commanded the soldiers who destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. was the Roman Titus, the people of the Antichrist to come are usually thought of as being Romans as well, or as Europeans. I question this association, noting that the soldiers under Titus were local Arabs who were conscripted by Rome. This, to me, opens the door to a Muslim Antichrist. After the destruction of the temple, this prince, the Antichrist, will finally appear at a time yet in the future to confirm a covenant, usually interpreted as a peace treaty between Israel and its antagonistic neighbors. This event, it is commonly said, will initiate the beginning of the final seven-year fulfillment of the seventy weeks of which Gabriel instructed Daniel, which is separated from the previous sixty nine weeks by the Church Age. It is this seventieth seven-year period spoken of in Daniel 9:24, along with comparable passages in Revelation that speak of periods of three and a half years that has led Bible scholars to think of the tribulation period as consisting of seven years, with the Great Tribulation occurring at the latter half of that period. Whether or not there is to be a third temple built during the time of tribulation, and a consequent third destruction, is an open issue. Paul speaks of our bodies being temples of flesh; perhaps the Church, being an aggregate of such temples, will be the one that is involved in the Tribulation.

In Daniel 11:31 is another passage that appears to match what Jesus spoke of in His Olivet discourse.

“And forces shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.”

Because Jesus, being on earth five centuries after the birth of Daniel, spoke of Daniel’s Abomination of Desolation as being yet in the future, Bible scholars commonly interpret the passage from Daniel quoted above as also being a future event. But others, thinking back on history, see that this passage and the surrounding verses match quite well with an event that occurred after Daniel but before Jesus, at around 165 B.C. The villain in this precursor event is Antiochus Epiphanes, a brutal persecutor of the Jews and a type of the Antichrist to come. Antiochus did indeed invade the Temple in Jerusalem, stopped the normal sacrifice, and he sacrificed instead a pig on the altar there. A pig is considered by the Jews to be an unclean animal.

Actually, Daniel may have been speaking of both the precursor event and the follow-on event, yet in the future, spoken of by Jesus. The future event is almost universally anticipated as happening at the beginning of the latter three and a half years of an upcoming seven-year tribulation period just before the return of Christ to Earth.

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.

THE TIMING OF JESUS’ RETURN TO EARTH

 

This story involves the timing of the end of Jesus’ first advent as well as His second. The primary reason for addressing it now, however, is that it is closely related to the story in the previous chapter, which also dealt with the timing of Jesus first advent after the fourth millennium after Creation. In that discussion, a day was equated to a thousand years, as suggested in Psalm 90 and 2 Peter 3:8.

In this story, Jesus’ resurrection took place three days after His crucifixion. These “days”, of course, were actual twenty-four hour periods of time. All four Gospels describe that time, which was a fulfillment of Jonah’s prophetic journey inside a great fish, described in Jonah 1:17:

“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.”

In Matthew 12:40, Jesus Himself speaks in confirmation of this event’s prophetic significance:

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

This particular passage firmly places the event in the grave. It also suggests that its time duration was three full days and three full nights. Another passage that suggests that Jesus lay in the grave three full days is found in Mark 8:31. Here the implication of complete days is suggested by the word “after”.

“And [Jesus] began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and by the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

This point, that Jesus lay in the grave three complete days, is emphasized because there are other passages in the Bible that suggest otherwise, implying that one of these days might not be complete or, indeed, that what took place may have occurred at the very beginning of the third day. Such passages include Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, Mark 9:31, 10:34, 14:58, Luke 9:22, 13:37, 18:33, 14:46, and John 2:19. A typical passage, in a direct quote of Jesus, is presented in Mark 9:31:

“For he taught his disciples, and said to them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after he is killed, he shall rise the third day.”

Many attempts have been made to reconcile these conflicting statements, some quite clever, but all of them trying to demonstrate how a partial day can be considered to be a full day. These reconciliations may have merit. However, there may be a better answer, one that doesn’t involve conflict at all. In this alternate explanation, those passages that specify that Jesus lay in the grave three complete days apply to the actual three-day period when Jesus, like Jonah, lay entombed.

Those passages that hint of a partial third day may be describing an entirely different event: Jesus’ second advent on the third millennium after His first advent, when He returns for His Church. Revelation 20:4 also speaks of this millennial period, a thousand-year period where Jesus reigns on earth:

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Significantly, this millennium period would coincide with the third day of Christ after His first advent on the fourth day after Creation, in which it also would coincide with the seventh day after Creation, when God rested from His creative work. This association firmly supports the association made in Chapter 1 regarding the reason that Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead four days before resurrecting him. It may also impart a meaning to Jesus’ words in John 5:15-17 that is not generally appreciated:

“The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done those things on the sabbath day.

“But Jesus answered them, My Father worked hitherto, and I work.”

There is yet another passage in Scripture that firmly supports associations of days with millennia. In another suggestion that Jesus will return for His bride, the Church, on the third day after His resurrection, Bible scholar Dr. Scott Hahn has discovered that the first two Chapters of John’s Gospel speak of just that connection.

On page 34 of his book Hail, Holy Queen, Dr. Hahn notes that the Gospel of John begins with the Prologue, verses 1-18 of Chapter One, and a discussion regarding the identity of John the Baptist. Immediately following that, John opens the scene where Jesus meets the Baptist with the words “The next day . . .” If one takes the initial topic of the discussion as the first day, Dr. Hahn mused, then this passage in John 1:29 would speak of the second day reminiscent of the seven-day Creation period. Then verse 1:35 starts with “Again the next day . . .”, implying that this day where Jesus chooses Apostles represents the third day. Again in verse 1:43 John begins with the words “The day following . . .” suggesting that on this fourth day Jesus continues with his pick of Apostles, with Philip and Nathanael. Chapter One ends with that discussion.

Chapter 2 of John’s Gospel starts immediately with the words “And the third day . . .”, and proceeds to describe Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana, where He changed water into wine. The entire episode suggests the importance of this event in foretelling Jesus’ own marriage to His Church, as Paul declared in Ephesians 5:31 and 32. Dr. Hahn notes that after John wrote of this event, he stopped mentioning days. Dr. Hahn also notes that John couldn’t have been speaking of the third day, because the third day had already come and gone in John’s narrative. He reasoned that John was talking about the third day after the fourth day, which would have been the seventh day. This meshes perfectly with the accounts in Scripture (e.g. Revelation 19 through 21) where Jesus returns to earth with His bride, the Church, for a thousand-year of period of peace. This would be the seventh millennium of human history.

In Mark 9, Jesus told His disciples that there would be some who would see the kingdom of God come with power before they died, obviously referring to His second coming. The passage then goes on to describe Jesus’ transfiguration, which was a preview of that great event to come. Interestingly, verse 2 begins with “And after six days”. This, too, in connection with Jesus’ transfiguration, is an obvious reference to the end of six millennia of human history, the beginning of the millennium spoken of in revelation.