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Archive for Jews

Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

Dr. Alva J. McClain, a renowned Bible teacher of the past, came to faith in Jesus Christ because he understood the very passage that we are considering. I have a copy of his little book, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, written in 1940.

Let’s continue in Daniel 9! Remember, Israel was experiencing the 5th cycle of discipline in Babylon for 70 years. They had failed to let their crops rest. They were now going home. Daniel is asking God for info concerning the Jews and Jerusalem. God sent Gabriel to give the answer. Gabriel told Daniel that 490 years had been determined on Israel to accomplish the six things mentioned in our last post.

We continue!  “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times” (Dan. 9:25). Where do we find such a command that begins this prophecy? Israel had been in the foreign land of Babylon for seventy years. They knew that the time for their departure to go home was drawing near. They awaited a command from the reigning king for permission to return and rebuild their own city.  

In the month of Nisan during the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes (Persia), Nehemiah asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the ruined city of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1–3). One of the best-defined dates in ancient history is the date of the reign of Artaxerxes. Britannica Encyclopedia begins Artaxerxes’s reign at 465 BC, so the twentieth year would be 445 BC. When no day is given, it is assumed to be the first day of the month. So, the first day of Nisan would be equivalent to the fourteenth day of March on our Western calendar. On March 14, 445 BC, Artaxerxes issued a decree that Nehemiah could go and rebuild Jerusalem. This date punches the clock for the beginning of our prophecy.

Daniel said that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince comes would be seven weeks (7×7 = 49 years) and sixty-two weeks (62×7 = 434); 434+49=483 years.  This would be seven weeks (49 years) to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, the street and the walls, and 62 weeks (434 more years) for Messiah to come. “Messiah the Prince” is obviously speaking of Jesus Christ. From the giving of the command until Jesus Christ would come, there would be 483 years (69 x 7=483 years). We are seven years short of the 490 years.

A Jewish calendar was 360 days. If you multiply 360 days times 483 years, you get 173,880 days. What was the exact date 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC? It was April 6, 32. What happened on that date? That is the day that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The Jews could have known this date. They could have done the math just like we have. Jesus said, “If you had known, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).  

Using our calendar, if you add the days of the prophecy from 445 BC to AD 32, you get 476 years. Then if you multiply 476 years times 365 days (our days per year), you will get 173,740 days, which is 140 days short. But if 116 days are added for the leap years (parts of days lost by the sun time added every four years) and then the days from March 14 to April 6 (twenty-four days), you get exactly 173,880 days. Amazing!  

The prophecy continues. “After the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26). After the 483 years, three things are going to happen.

(1) The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. “Cut off” is carath, as in cut off in death. This is speaking of the crucifixion. Again, had the Jews studied the Old Testament, they could have calculated the exact time that Messiah was to die. They could have numbered three days past His march into Jerusalem on the donkey which would have been April 9 A.D. 32.

(2) The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Two different princes are mentioned in this prophecy: Messiah the Prince and the prince who is to come. “The prince who is to come” is not speaking of the Messiah. His prophecy has already been fulfilled. How do we know what people it is speaking of? We know it is speaking of the Romans because in 70 A.D. the Romans, led by Titus Vespasian, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Therefore, we know that the people of the prince that will come are Romans. Therefore, we can know that the prince that is to come (Antichrist) will come out of the Roman empire.

We will look at number 3 next time! Stay safe and stay tuned.

God’s Passion for Jerusalem

God is passionate for Zion (Jerusalem) with great passion. Christ’s throne will one day be located in Jerusalem. He will return to Jerusalem and dwell in its midst. Jerusalem will be called the city of truth, the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain (Zech. 8:1-3). Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem. There will come a time when ten men from every language of the nations will grab the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you [to Jerusalem]” (Zech. 8:22-23). How incredible is that?

The book of Isaiah, written 500 years before Christ, states that there is coming a time when peace will reign over this earth. Isaiah described a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace yet to come who will bear all the responsibility of governing this world.  This was simply not true during Jesus’s first coming. There was no peace on earth and goodwill toward men during His life – like that being spoken of here. There is coming a time when the King will sit upon the throne of David and rule over His kingdom. Every conflict will end in swift and fair judgment, and justice will prevail (Isa. 9:6–7).  

Micah wrote, “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills [the highest mountain on earth] and peoples shall flow into it. Many nations shall come and say let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Jerusalem the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off” (Micah 4:1–3a). The time is coming when the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed. Why? Because Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously (Isa. 24:21–23). Notice how often “Jerusalem” is mentioned!

It is true that believers today are saved by God’s magnificence grace, apart from the works of the law (Gal. 2:21; 3:21). We live our Christian lives by grace and not by the works of the law (Col. 2:6; Titus 2:11–12). But God has never abrogated or done away with His Law given at Mount Sinai some three thousand years ago (Ex. 19–20). Also, God’s laws instituted at creation—laws concerning marriage, one man for one woman for life (Gen. 2:24), and the killing of another human being (Gen. 9:6), and honoring the Sabbath (Gen. 2:1–3)—have been imposed by Him from the beginning and have never changed. These laws have everything to do with the coming of a child and His reign upon an earthly kingdom.

Speaking of this child we turn to history written some 500 years before Christ. God had sent Isaiah to Ahaz, the king of Judah, to tell him that Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, had plotted against him – to tear a hole in the wall protecting Jerusalem and set up a king for themselves. Isaiah told Ahaz that the plot against him would not stand. He told Ahaz to ask for a sign from God that the plan would fail. Ahaz refused! Isaiah’s response is often used (at Christmas) but seldom explained. He told this king that God Himself would give him a sign. He said that a virgin would conceive and bear a Son and call His name Immanuel (Isa. 7:14).

God predicted that an evil king would come against Jerusalem to destroy it. This one is called, “the Assyrian.” Note as you read the following passages, the definite article “the,” as in “the Assyrian.” It is speaking of a special person (Isa. 10:24; Isa. 14:25; Isa. 19:23; Isa. 52:4; Hos. 11:5; Micah 5:5-6). Isaiah told Ahaz that victory will lie in the hands of a virgin born child. Amazing! “The Assyrian” speaks of the Antichrist who will come against Jerusalem.

With that in mind, fast forward and hear the words of the Messiah. He was going away to prepare a place for his disciples and return (Jn. 14:1-3). They knew that He had promised to come back. Now visualize a magnificent gold-plated temple that took Herod some 70 years to complete. It was beautiful beyond description. The morning sun reflecting off it was so bright one would have to shield their eyes. The disciples called our Lord’s attention to it.

Jesus jarred them by telling them that the temple was going to be completely destroyed (Matt. 24:2; Mk. 13:2) What?  This provoked many questions but one that was special. What shall be the sign (notice again the definite article) of your coming (the one overwhelming can’t miss sign). Jesus’ answer is so very important! He said “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place. Whoever reads let him understand” (Matt. 24:15). Ponder this! The Assyrian mentioned above, and this abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, are one and the same person. In fact, this person goes by many names as we will see. The sign here must take us back to words spoken by Daniel – and it will.  Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

Five Cycles of Judgment

A missionary friend to the Jews in Miami reminded me often that if I ever lost my way in charting the future to watch Israel. These words still reverberate in my mind today. They have not gone away – nor have the Jews.  God promised blessings on an obedient Jewish nation. He said that if they walked in His statutes and kept His commands, He would give rain for their crops and their land, and trees would produce in abundance. They would have plenty of food. He also promised that they would live in peace with their enemies. No animals would harm them, and their enemies would run from them. Further, God said that He would set His tabernacle in their midst and that He would be their God and they would be His people (Lev. 26:1–13).

Then, as we often see in God’s word, a contrast is marked out by the little word “but.” God used this word to warn the Jews that if they turned their backs on Him again, He would judge accordingly. God would put in play five cycles of discipline, each worse than the previous one (Lev. 26:14–33). First Cycle: loss of health, pain, inability to raise crops, lost battles, lost freedom (vs.15–17). Second Cycle: He would bring on them seven times the punishment of the first cycle plus there would be no rain, therefore no crops (vs.18–20). Third Cycle: seven times the punishment of the first two cycles, plus the invasion of wild beasts taking the lives of children and livestock (vs. 21–22). Fourth Cycle: seven times the punishment of the previous cycles, plus being delivered into enemy hands and famine (vs. 23–26). Fifth Cycle: seven times the punishment of the above, as well as cannibalism, high places and altars destroyed, cities laid waste, land becoming desolate, and Jews scattered throughout the world (vs. 27–33). 

Once again, the Jews broke God’s covenant. Rather than casting them away, God put them through the five cycles of discipline. In 70 A.D., they entered the fifth cycle when the Roman emperor Titus Vaspacius laid siege to the city of Jerusalem, starved them out, and burned their temple. Thousands of Jews died, many from hunger, and others cannibalized their own children. Horrible! Incredibly, God had predicted this very event (Lev. 26:29).

God told them that He would scatter them among the nations. They would always live in panic mode. No group of people have been more hated than the Jews (remember the Holocaust). He said that they would be so stressed at times that the sound of a shaking leaf would scare them (Lev. 26:36). These familiar words from their Messiah must ring in our ears.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:38).

As He left  the temple, His disciples reminded Him of the beauty of the temple. The King shocked them when He told them that the temple was going to be destroyed – burned (happened in 70 A.D.). Not one stone would be left on the other (Luke 21:6). The Romans searched for the melted gold that had flowed down through the stones. They pulled apart every stone looking for it. Amazing!

The disciples asked, “When will these things happen?” (Matt. 24:3). Our Lord had already said that the things of which He spoke would come upon this generation (Matt. 23:36; Mark 13:30; Lk. 21:32). By using this expression many times, Christ did not necessarily mean the generation he was speaking to – but the generation that would be alive when these things happen. Just a casual reading will tell you this.

As with many prophesies, there is a short-range and a long-range fulfillment. Jesus was reading from the book of Isaiah. In the middle of Isaiah 61:2, He separated “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” and the “day of vengeance of our God”. The reason? There would be many years between the two events (Luke 4:19; Isa. 61:2). The first fulfillment was during Jesus’ first coming. He will fulfill the last part when He comes again (2 Thess. 1:6-10). The long-range fulfillment is marked by our Lord’s words,  “For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matt. 23:36–39)  This future event will happen when the King rides into Jerusalem, not on a donkey, but on a white horse and not to wear a crown of thorns but a royal crown of the King (Rev. 1:7; Rev. 19:11-16; Zech. 14:1-11). The Jews remain under the fifth cycle of discipline. It will end with a very intense seven years of tribulation (Matt. 24: 9-14; Rev. 5-19; Dan. 9:24-27). God will cause the Jews to pass through the fires of judgment in order to purge them of their rebellion and purify them, thus preparing them for the coming of their Messiah (Mal. 3:1–3; Zech. 13:9). Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

 

God Never Breaks a Promise

God is a God of grace. He understands our failures and makes allowances for them (1 Jn. 1:8-9).  Our High Priest, who was tempted in all points as we are – yet without sin, always makes intercession for us before the Father (Heb. 4:14-16). Our salvation is secure. We are God’s purchased possession forever sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise until we are taken to be with Him (Eph. 1:13-14). We should know that “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).

Well, what about Israel? Could the Jews ever do anything, anything, that would cause God to break His promise to them? I am speaking of national Israel. I do not mean the bride of Christ, the church. I do not mean spiritual Israel. I mean literal Israel, those who are members of the twelve tribes of Jacob. Is there any real hope for Israel as a nation today? Is there any chance that God’s promise to Abraham – sealed in blood – concerning the land that stretches from the Nile River all the way to the Euphrates, will ever happen (Gen. 15:18-21)?  

As mentioned earlier, Israel has never possessed this land in its totality – never.  But I digress! It is always good to check the fine print of any important document. It is in the fine print that important truths are often found. That is especially true when it is the fine print of God’s Word. Many jewels of truth are encased deep inside the large, seemingly complicated text of Old Testament scripture. It is within the deep waters of many words that beautiful gems often surface. Every word matters.

This is especially true when delving into what some have called the Palestinian Covenant. The beginning of this covenant was clearly stated by Moses in his writing of the second law, Deuteronomy. “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb” (Deut. 29:1). Notice the words “covenant” and “besides the covenant.” These words are not written in red or highlighted in any way in my Bible, but they are extremely important.

Moses was clearly saying that this covenant was a different covenant. It was not the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). It was a covenant made in addition to the original covenant God made with Israel at Sinai (Ex. 20). Horeb is just another word for Sinai. This covenant teaches us clearly that God is truly a God of the second chance. Through this agreement, God was giving the Jews another chance to do the right thing with His law and with the land.  

The Jews actually broke the covenant made with the nation (the Ten Commandments) even before God had finished giving it to Moses on the mountain (Ex. 32:6). For this reason, God made them wander in the desert for forty years. He later restored them to the land and gave them this new agreement. Moses asked Israel to remember their past, how they were enslaved by the pharaohs in Egypt for 400 years. He reminded them of their sin and all the trials and wonders that their eyes had seen. He asked them to recall the forty years in the desert. Their clothes and shoes did not wear out. A miracle!  They did not eat bread or have strong drink, but they survived. When faced with powerful enemies, they came out victorious (Deut. 29:2–8).

Moses said that once again, they were all standing before God: the leaders, the elders, the children, the wives, and all the servants. Why were they all standing there? Because they were once again entering into a covenant with God: “That you may enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today, that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Deut. 29:9).

God had not gone back on His word, but Israel had. God’s desire was to make them a people for Himself, just as He had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The mention of their names reveals that this covenant was permanently tied to the original promise that was given to the fathers. It is one thing for a human to swear to tell the truth; it is another for God to swear to tell the truth. God swore an oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He will never go back on His word. God carefully reminded those standing before Him that day that this covenant was not being made just with them but with all those who would come after them. The Jews even to this day that are scattered throughout the world are those who would come after them. It never ends until God ends it (Deut. 29:9–15). Stay safe and stay tuned.

Until the Fulness of the Gentiles Comes In

You recall that I highlighted a very important parable in Luke 19 given by the Lord Jesus just days away from His cross (Luke 19:11-28). The reason for the parable was that the people (Jews) thought that the kingdom of God would appear immediately. This was not true.  The parable concerned a Nobleman that went away to receive a kingdom and return. He gave money to ten of his servants, told them to invest the money energized by the words “Do Business Until I Return.” We linked this parable to Christ’s ascension from the Mount of Olives and His giving gifts to men to invest during this age of the church – which is now (Ephesians 4:11-16).

What was to become of Israel during this time? It is not by chance that the Lord Jesus answered this very question with another parable in Luke 20 (right next door). The context is the same as the parable in Luke 19. The Lord Jesus was days away from the cross. His words could be the words of the dying Lamb of God. “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again, he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again, he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” And when the people heard it they said, “Certainly not!” Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone’? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (Luke 20:8-18).

This parable answers the question concerning the action of Israel before the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and has come to pass in detail.  God’s kingdom at first was given to Israel (God’s vineyard) to bring forth fruit pleasing to God. They constantly dropped the ball. They beat and killed God’s prophets sent to them (Lk. 20:9-12). In the end God sent His only begotten Son to them. Surely, they would respect Him!

The King came and presented the kingdom to the Jews (Matthew 5-7). The leaders in Israel responded, “Here is the Heir, let’s kill Him and the inheritance will be ours” (Lk 20:14; Matt. 11-12). The leaders in Israel rejected their King and helped to kill God’s Son (John 1:11). What will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.

The truth of this came to pass exactly as it was given. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., and the Jews were dispersed throughout the world. Dispersed, that is, until they were given a homeland in Palestine (the Balfour Declaration of 1917, fulfilled April 20, 1948). God’s kingdom has now been removed from the nation of Israel and given to another – the church! The vast number of Jews are now scattered throughout the world – and blindedto their true worth to God. They will remain blinded in part (partial) until (until what)? (Rom. 11:25). This blindness is partial because some Jews are responding to the gospel and placing their faith in their Messiah today.  This will continue “until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in – the last Gentile is joined to the body of Christ (Rom. 11:25).

Jesus spoke of the very same event. He said that Jerusalem would fall by the edge of the sword and be trampled by the Gentiles (70 A.D.) “until.” (Luke 21:24). Jesus used the time word. Until what? Until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Wow! Until the last Gentile is added to the body of Christ. Until Jerusalem and the temple are no longer trampled down by the Gentiles. When this happens, the times of the Gentiles will end, the King will come again, and God will once again turn His attention to the Jews to fulfill His promises to David. God is a covenant keeping God. He never goes back on His word. Amazing! Stay safe and stay tuned.