Contending For The Faith

January 31, 2009

Daniel 9: Israel’s Future

The second half of Daniel 9, the answer to his prayer, is contained in seven important verses, Daniel 9:20-27, and here I review the three sermons MacArthur preached, “Israel’s Future.”   Here are part 1, part 2, and part 3.

MacArthur focuses on three features and three main characters:

  • The Circumstances of Daniel
  • The Coming of Gabriel
  • The Communication of God

First, Daniel and his circumstances: he was praying, a very strong, fervent prayer, as described in the first 19 verses and the previous sermon set.

Second, the coming of Gabriel: he is an angel, though he comes in the form of a man, and his name literally means “The strong one of God” from the hebrew words gabar “the strong one” and el “God.” Gabriel also appeared in other important situations: to Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary to announce the birth of the Messiah. God wants Daniel to know that His message is a high-priority one, sent by Gabriel personally; this information also connects the events with Gabriel in chapter 8, Gabriel’s previous visit to Daniel.

Third comes the communication, the prophecy in verses 24 to 27, a well-known prophecy about 70 weeks. Daniel had been praying about the ending of 70 years of captivity, and God responds that there is much more to come, not just 70 years but 70 times 7 years. An interesting side note here regarding scripture: when Daniel read the term “seventy years” in Jeremiah’s writings, he thought it actually meant seventy years. As MacArthur points out, so many Bible commentators and when the Bible says seventy years, “they immediately go into instant hocus-pocus and they invent all kinds of fantastic symbols which were not the case in Daniel’s mind.

Now for a summary of the prophecy: the entire prophecy has to do with Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city, the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.

Two different princes are mentioned: “Messiah the Prince” in verse 25, and “the prince that shall come” in verse 26 — the first is Christ, the next one is antichrist.

The entire time period involved is exactly specified as 70 weeks, which are divided into three sections: the first seven weeks, then 62 weeks, and a last week.

Verse 24 is important, as it tells the purpose of these 70 weeks in God’s redemptive plan. Six purposes are described, of which the first three are negative — finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity. The following three purposes are positive: to bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint a Holy of Holies. The prophecy for the 70 weeks goes from Daniel’s time to the end. The first three purposes point to Christ’s work on the cross; the last three purposes go beyond the cross to the kingdom, which lets us know there’s a time gap.

These seventy weeks are “determined” for God’s sovereign eternal plan. The Hebrew word literally means “to cut off,” and so “it’s as if God has just cut off or cut loose a seventy-week period, pulled it right out of human history and in that period He will accomplish His purposes with His people Israel.” These weeks are determined by God, and determined by God “upon thy people and upon thy holy city.”

MacArthur gives reasons for stating that the years are according to the Jewish calendar, 360 day years (see previous blog entry “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks“). Parallel texts in Revelation say that the great Tribulation will last 42 months (Rev. 13) and specifically, 1260 days (Rev. 12:6), and 1260 days means you have to be using 360 day years.

In the third part of this series, MacArthur looks more closely at verses 26 and 27. We note from the text that Messiah is cut off, killed, AFTER the 69 weeks, not during it. Then come more events AFTER the 69 weeks; “the people of the prince that shall come” describes the antichrist (the prince or ruler that shall come), and the people of the prince are Romans, who “will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This part refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Romans. Then, “War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” The gap continues, and then, verse 27, “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” We know there’s a time gap before the 70th week, though we don’t know how long it lasts — only that it ends when antichrist comes to confirm a covenant with Israel. As MacArthur relates, the book of Revelation gives us additional information not disclosed here in Daniel, describing the same time period. Additional texts describing the antichrist and the great Tribulation include Revelation 13: 4-5, also 2 Thess. 2.

January 30, 2009

NCT: New Covenant Theology

Filed under: Bible Study,doctrine — Lynda O @ 1:10 pm
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Recently I listened to the set of Master’s Seminary audio lectures series on NCT, or New Covenant Theology, and found these to be very helpful in understanding the difference between NCT, covenant theology, and moderate dispensationalism.

I had heard of NCT, through my local church Sunday School classes over a year ago — though at the time I did not comprehend the greater issues involved — but this series explains the overall material very well. Though I had heard bits and pieces before, my knowledge of Covenant Theology was sketchy at best, and here for the first time I got the basics of what Covenant Theology teaches — and what NCT refutes: the three Covenants of “Covenant Theology”:

  • Covenant of Works — between God and Adam, before the Fall
  • Covenant of Grace — between God and the elect, beginning after the Fall and manifested in the other biblical covenants
  • Covenant of Redemption — between the members of the Trinity, the God-head, in eternity past

NCT rightly rejects these three covenants, as they are not actual covenants as scripture uses the term. However, NCT falls short of the mark by not coming all the way to dispensationalism, instead trying to come up with a third way to approach scripture and interpretation. Significantly, NCT limits the New Covenant to only passages in the New Testament, beginning with the book of Acts, ignoring the important New Covenant passages in Jeremiah 31 and 33. NCT stresses the discontinuity to an extent that can be taken too far, as when it concludes that the Old Covenant was made with an unbelieving nation that only served as a model or type for the later, believing church. Their hermeneutic of starting with the New Testament and then reading it back into the Old, is flawed and overlooks important revelation. (Even when it comes to the New Testament, NCT puts too much emphasis on Hebrews while ignoring Romans, since Romans too would give them more of a problem regarding the truth of national Israel.) Related to this is the idea, expressed at least by some in NCT, that Old Covenant Israelites didn’t have enough revelation to be saved or really understand God’s plan; God’s word was hidden too much for them to figure it out. Yet a look at scripture shows that, instead, they did have enough revelation. Jesus’ response to Nicodemus shows that Nicodemus, as a teacher, should have known and understood these things. Job, from very early history, probably the time of the patriarchs, showed great understanding. Paul, as described in Acts, explained that what he believed was nothing more than the hope of their fathers (again, the Old Covenant believers). Overall, the very notion of regarding the New Testament as better because it is newer, and rejecting the Old Testament on its own basis because it is older and more “primitive,” smacks of evolutionary humanistic thought rather than the biblical, historical reality regarding ancient mankind.

Richard Mayhue, in his session (last in the series) about NCT and Futuristic Premillennialism, notes that the NCT group is not being consistent in its study, and challenges them to come all the way out from Covenantalism. As he notes, only one NCT proponent has done so, Fred Zaspel. (See links to Fred’s great articles, on my “Great Reading Material” page.) He also gives seven major reasons to believe in Futuristic Premillennialism. I’ve come across most of these points before, but here they are listed together:

  1. Start with the hermeneutic (literal-grammatical-historical) as a presupposition, rather than starting with a theology as a presupposition.                       
  2. Exegetical integrity, as illustrated by how we handle Revelation 20.  
        Basic hermeneutical rules: 
  1. Numbers should be accepted at face value (conveying mathematical quantity), unless there’s substantial evidence to warrant another conclusion.
  2. Point 1 is especially true when dealing with numbers referring to time.
  3. Never in Bible is “year” used with a numerical adjective when it doesn’t refer to actual period of time that it mathematically represents
  4. The number 1000 is not used elsewhere in Bible with a symbolic sense. (Critics will certainly point to certain passages in Psalms, Jobs, etc. that use the word thousand, but the context here is conveying the idea of long amounts of time, as compared to our lifetime, not a mathematical or time reference)

3.  Identities of Israel and the Church are distinct in New Testament. Scripture gives no hint of supersessionism. 

  1. In the book of Acts, the word Israel or its related term Israelite appears 20 times; Church appears 19 times. In each case, Israel always refers to the nation, ethnic Israel. The terms are never switched or used as synonymous
  2. The Church is never called Israel in the New Testament. Israel is never called the Church in the Old Testament.
  3. In Revelation chapters 1 through 3, ecclesia (church) is used 18 times. This term is never used again in the later chapters of Revelation, and the terms are never confused in the subsequent chapters, in passages dealing with Israel.

4.   The preservation of Israel as a race of people and as a nation is very, very significant in history. 

Again we must consider the two passages in Jeremiah, relating to the New Covenant and its relation to the Jewish nation:
Jeremiah 31: 35-37 (NAS)

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 33: 19-26 (NAS)

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 20″Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, 21then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22’As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'” 23And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24″Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the LORD chose, He has rejected them’? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight. 25″Thus says the LORD, ‘If My covenant [for] day and night [stand] not, [and] the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, 26then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.'”

5.  The Abrahamic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant are unconditional covenants. They are unilateral, eternal, and unconditional. Only the Mosaic covenant was conditional, and only it was superceded by the New Covenant.

6.  All other eschatology systems propose this order: Christ reigns, then He comes. Yet what is the order in scripture? Answer: Christ comes, then He reigns.

7.  Dozens of Old Testament passages promise a physical, earthly kingdom, a king, land, prominence of Israel. These passages are scattered throughout the major and minor prophets, and they cannot be spiritualized or dismissed, or said to be abrogated and done away with.

Here I note for myself, if ever I can come across a MacArthur Study Bible, to look at page 1287 (in Amos 9), which has a list of these passages.

January 29, 2009

Psalm 2, Eschatology, and Expository Preaching

Filed under: Bible Study,eschatology,Phil Johnson — Lynda O @ 12:15 pm
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The local pastor has often said that he learned a lot of his theology by encountering bad theology, through the process of learning how to refute it. He observed this in reference to someone in the Church of Christ, and proper understanding of  salvation. In my own spiritual journey, I find how true this is — though in my case, with the local pastor’s own bad/weak theology.  As I consider the words of scripture, and compare the local pastor to the teaching of more-learned pastors, I too can come to a better understanding of God’s word and recognize truth and error.

The most recent incident involves Psalm 2, a fairly short Psalm packed with lots of detail, the first of several Messianic psalms. After hearing some of the local pastor’s session through this Psalm at a recent Wednesday evening service, I listened to Phil Johnson’s sermon on this very Psalm, “The Rage of the Heathen Against a Sovereign God,” for good contrast. Interestingly enough, Phil began this sermon by commenting that he only had a half-day that Saturday to prepare a sermon, and thus he broke from his regular study series to do a shorter passage, and these are the times he often preaches from the Psalms. Then he delivered an excellent, expository verse-by-verse sermon, with great insights. Johnson notes the division of the Psalm into four sections: the words of the nation, followed by verses spoken by God in each of the three persons, a trinitarian Psalm in a sense. In this Psalm Johnson describes the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Christ, and properly addresses God’s sense of humor as a scornful derision, one that is not just humor for its own sake but that shows God’s sovereignty and scorn / pity towards the lost. He presents the fulfillment of the verses which apply to Christ’s crucifixion, and relates the present-day reality of lost man raging against God, something he experiences regularly with his blog and the hateful, blasphemous emails he receives from the “Internet infidels.” God’s sovereignty over mankind, as well as God’s mercy, that the very ones who rage against Him and hate Him, will be brought in to become His people, also come out in this sermon.

Contrast this with the typical pattern of the local pastor (and no doubt this applies to many local church pastors as well; so few pastors can really preach and teach at the level of Phil Johnson, John MacArthur, and others I’ve come to appreciate from the Master’s Seminary), a rambling that quickly goes off course, even way into left field in the pastor’s continual push for his preterist / amill eschatology — a preaching style that tends to gloss over the details of what a given text is saying, to casually say that it means one thing, when a careful exegesis of the text itself and in light of all other biblical texts, shows that that is NOT what the text is saying. This preaching, now that I can spot all the flaws, is in a way humorous (except that it can mislead others, alas) and certainly provides extra topic material, for blog entries as well as for further study of the real texts. Here, for instance, I learned that the pastor thinks the harlot woman in Revelation 17 is Israel; he stated his certainty on that point, though without giving further details or exegesis to prove that assertion.  Considering that he also believes that Daniel’s 70th week was completed in the 1st century, and holds to the NCT (New Covenant Theology) construct that the church is the real Israel, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — though again, this is a big leap from supposedly teaching about Psalm 2. This view completely misses the point of the events in Revelation — the Great Tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s trouble” also spoken of in Old Testament passages. He noted his uncertainty about Revelation 17 being a future event (using the word “if”), and maintains Israel in a permanently apostate condition, completely missing the fact of what Revelation is about, how God is going to bring great trouble on national Israel and save a large number of them. He mentioned the creature with ten horns and seven heads, but without any reference to the parallel passages in Daniel, which also help set the context of the scenes in Revelation.  More could be said here, but this gives the general idea — and again reminds me why I often tune him out and read good Bible teaching instead.

Yet I can be thankful even for the bad teaching, in that it prompts me to look into a matter for myself — to find better material available online, such as the great expository, verse-by-verse preaching of the truly biblical preachers.

January 27, 2009

Daniel 9: Elements of True Prayer

Filed under: Bible Study,Daniel,John MacArthur — Lynda O @ 1:00 pm
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Daniel chapter 9 consists of two major parts: Daniel’s prayer, and the answer. For study of this great chapter in Daniel, I’m looking at John MacArthur’s sermon series “Elements of True Prayer” for the first part of the chapter, Daniel’s prayer. Here are the links to the sermons: part1, part2, and part3.

First we consider the biblical context: the prayer is about 70 years, the answer is regarding 70 weeks of years. The prayer is for restoration, and the answer tells of the ultimate restoration in the coming of Messiah. When looking at Daniel 9, we need to look at both the prayer and the prophecy. As MacArthur says, “Prophecy is important, but it cannot substitute for prayer.”

The historical setting is the first year of King Darius, at the beginning of the Medo-Persian empire. Daniel is now over 80 years old, and along with his fellow Jews has lived most of his life in captivity. The Jews in exile had brought scrolls of the Old Testament writings with them and compiled them together. Daniel had a set of these books, including the books of Jeremiah (Jeremiah and Lamentations). Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 comes as a response to reading Jeremiah’s prophecy about the 70 years, since he knows the end of that period of time is fast approaching. Daniel didn’t know when the 70 years had begun, but he himself had been in captivity close to 70 years now. Actually, as history shows us, the 70 years really would not end for another 20 years, since it did not begin until the temple’s destruction in 586 B.C.; and though at this time Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild the temple, very few went back, and the work to rebuild was slow for many years.

The main point of the prayer passage, though, is a look at intercessory prayer, and here we note the spiritual context: Daniel shows humility (verse 3), confession and reverence (verse 4), a proper attitude of prayer.

Here, from Daniel’s prayer, are eight principles to remember, regarding the nature of true intercessory prayer.

1. Prayer is in response to the Word of God.

“unless we understand the word of God, we do not understand the purposes and the plans of God in order to govern and guide our prayers. ”

2. Prayer is grounded in God’s will

“If God has a purpose, His people identify with His will”

3. Prayer is characterized by fervency. Verse 3 tells us that Daniel “fixed his gaze on the Lord God.” He fasted, without food, in sackcloth an dashes, all cultural indicators of humility. Verse 20 indicates he’s been praying for a long time, so that Gabriel has to touch him to let him know he’s there.

4. Prayer is realized in self-denial. Verse 4: “I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.” Understand that you don’t belong in the presence of God.

5. Prayer is identified with God’s people. Daniel says “we” throughout the prayer, identifying himself with others, with his fellow Israelites.

6. Prayer is strengthened in confession.

7. Prayer is dependent on God’s character. In verse 4 he prays “O Lord, the great and awesome God.”

8. Prayer consummates in God’s glory. Daniel says in verse 19, “Your people have become a reproach to You.” In other words, don’t do it for us, do it for You. Don’t do what you promised because of us, but do it for Your sake, for Your great name and Your reputation.

January 20, 2009

Daniel 8: False Messiahs

Daniel 8: False Messiahs

John MacArthur has three sermons for the text of Daniel 8, “False Messiahs.”   Here are part 1, part 2, and part 3

A basic outline for this chapter is: the big horn, the little horn, and the final horn. The first two are types of antichrist, historical figures now long past but future to Daniel, who would show some of the attributes of the final antichrist, as precursors to the future wicked one. The big horn is Alexander the Great, and shows antichrist’s power; the little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes, and shows antichrist’s character.

In the New Testament, John writes of the antichrist yet to come, and thus points back to Daniel’s prophecy. Paul also teaches about the antichrist, in his writings to the Thessalonians about the coming lawless one. Jesus also tells about this figure, in the Olivet Discourse. The source of all New Testament material about the antichrist is Daniel’s prophecy, which describes this figure in great detail, and in chapter 8 gives us two precursors as examples.

Daniel has a threefold purpose: to the Jews of his day, to prepare them for coming persecution; also, to warn the Jews of his day to not be confused by the trend of history — the fact that the Gentiles are going to rule the world from this point forward. Thirdly, Daniel “always comes to the Kingdom,” to let us know that, no matter how bad things get, God’s Kingdom will prevail.

Now to the text, and here we must remember that Daniel is writing this before it happens, during the time of the Babylonian empire. The ram with two horns represents the Medo-Persian kingdom. Interestingly, history tells us that the Medo-Persian empire actually used the symbol of a ram.

MacArthur: “Ammianus Marcellinus who is a fourth century historian, states this: “On all the rulers of Persia or the Medo-Persian Empire…they bore a ram, or the head of a ram, on some part of their garments or some part of their armor. Especially when they went to battle.” Marcellinus says that, “When a Persian general or a Persian monarch stepped in front of his troops for a battle, he represented a ram somewhere on his attire.” In the signs of the Zodiac, which come, of course, from the occult, the sign of the Ram, Aries, has always been connected with Persia…Other historians tell us that the guardian spirit of the Persian kingdom appeared under the form of a ram with clean feet and sharp hooves. The ram, then, in ancient times, symbolized Persia, the Persian Empire.”

The second horn, which comes up after the first horn and is taller, represents the power of the Persians finally taking supremacy over the Medes, in the person of Cyrus. Cyrus became a very powerful ruler, a tyrannical dictator, who “became great” as verse 4 describes. MacArthur:

“When Cyrus set up the Medo-Persian Empire, he was a absolute tyrant…an absolute tyrant. Tyrannical dictatorship. So the rapid progress of Cyrus in just ten years, from 549 to 539, he conquered the world. And it is suggested by this ram in front of Daniel in his vision. And, of course, in the process, at the end of verse 4, it says, “He became great.” A better way to translate that Hebrew phrase is he magnified himself. He magnified himself. Cyrus was characterized by two things: self-will, he did what he wanted; and pride.”

 

Verse 5 describes a goat (some translations, “hegoat”) with a notable horn between his eyes. Daniel 8, verses 20 and 21 give us the interpretation of both the ram and the goat — the goat is the Greek empire, with Alexander the Great (the first king) as the notable horn. Isaiah 14:9 also references hegoats, as an expression referring to leaders or chiefs. The goat comes from the west, at incredible speed so that it covers the face of the earth and never touches the ground, showing the incredible speed at which the Greek Empire, under Alexander the Great, conquered a vast amount of territory. Daniel 7, the previous chapter, describes the Greek empire as a winged leopard, also noting the great speed and agility.

As Daniel 8:8 describes, “the hegoat grew very great, and when he was strong, the great horn was broken.” The text goes on to describe the kingdom being divided into four parts. The working out of this prophecy is also interesting. Alexander the Great was at his high point when he suddenly died, defeated by his own sinfulness. Then, the kingdom divided into four parts did not happen immediately, but was the end result after 22 years. As MacArthur explains:

“In Alexander’s place came up four new leaders. That’s what the Bible says will happen. Couple hundred years before it happened. And that’s exactly what happened. When Alexander died, his empire was divided among four generals. Remember? Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. And what does it say? “Toward the four winds.” Cassander took the west. That was Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus took the north, Thrace, Bithynia, and Asia Minor. Seleucus too the east, Syria, Babylonia and east. And Ptolemy took the south, Egypt, Israel, Arabia. You wanna know what fascinates me? You say, “Well, it just all fell into place, ’cause all he had was four generals.” It took 22 years…22 years of the most incredible intrigues and the most unbelievable historical events until those things were divided into four. Twenty-two years after Alexander died, they finally got those four divisions, and those were 22 years of subterfuge and infighting among all the generals of Alexander that finally ended up with four. And there was a fifth who hung onto the last, named Antigonus. But at the very last, he was defeated and shoved out, and there were four.”

MacArthur also shares a great poem, contrasting Alexander the Great and Jesus, from Charles Ross Weede:

“Jesus and Alexander died at 33. One lived and died for self; one died for you and me. The Greek died on a throne; the Jew died on a cross. One’s life a triumph seemed; the other but a loss. One led vast armies forth; the other walked alone. One shed a whole world’s blood; the other gave His own. One won the world in life and lost it all in death; the other lost His life to win the whole world’s faith. Jesus and Alexander died at 33. One died in Babylon, and on at Calgary. One gained all for self; and one Himself He gave. One conquered every tongue; the other every grave. The one made himself God; the other made Himself less. The one lived but to blast; the other but to bless. When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords; but Jesus died to live forever Lord of Lords. Jesus and Alexander died at 33. The Greek made all men slaves; the Jew made all men free. One built a throne on blood; the other built on love. The one was born of earth; the other from above. One won all this earth, to lose all earth and heaven. The other gave up all, that all to Him be given…And then this final statement…The Greek forever died; the Jew forever lives. Jesus and Alexander died at 33.”

Now to the little horn: Antiochus Epiphanes, who was the eighth ruler of the Seleucid dynasty, who ruled from 175 to 164 B.C. — another 150 years past Alexander the Great, hundreds of years after Daniel’s life. Daniel 8 tells us that this horn rises from littleness — Antiochus was a usurper with no right to the throne. The rightful heir was a hostage, and Antiochus by flattery took the position, and called himself Epiphanes — the people called him Epimanes (the maniac). The Seleucids controlled the east part of the original Greek Empire, and the Ptolemys controlled the south (Egypt), with Israel as a buffer area, right in the middle of the conflict between the two powers.

Horns on animals in scripture are always the symbol of power and dominion. The little horn of chapter 8 is different from the little horn of chapter 7; both describe a horn that starts out small, yet referring to two different people. The little horn in chapter 7 comes from the Roman Empire, whereas the one in chapter 8 comes from the Greek Empire. The chapter 7 little horn is the antichrist, and the chapter 8 little horn prefigures the antichrist and, as commentators generally agree, is Antiochus. In the third sermon, MacArthur described the specific atrocities committed by Antiochus against the people of Israel.

Of particular interest, note the specific dates and numbers given in this prophecy. The Bible tells us that the antichrist will only last 1250 days (3 1/2 years), and in Matthew 24 Jesus tells us that if it lasted any longer, on one would be saved — antichrist’s time is limited. Antichrist will be far worse than Antiochus, who was given a longer period of time: 2300 days (verse 14). Note this from MacArthur, how this prophecy actually played out:

Now, people, when the Bible starts getting that specific, that is really amazing. The Bible says there’ll be 2300 days in which Antiochus will oppress the Jews. Historical data is rather unavailable at this point. We can’t really tell the precise point at which this horrible holocaust began. But, now listen, and this is what’s fascinating. We do know when the closing of the 2300 days came, because it says the closing will be the sanctuary cleansed. On December 25th, 165 BC, under the leadership of one of the Maccabees, Judas Maccabeus, the great leader of that family who led the revolution against Antiochus, came in and cleansed the temple. December 25th, 165 BC.

So you start with December 25th, 165 BC, and go backwards how many days? Twenty three hundred days, and you figure back. You wind up at September 6th, 171 BC. September 6th, 171 BC. That, then, would be the date when some event occurred that was sufficient enough to mark the beginning of Antiochus’ anti-Jewish atrocities. Now, September 6th, 171, we don’t have any record of what happened on that day. But I’ll tell you one thing, something did happen, because God knows his numbers. And just to confirm that, listen to this. Though the nature of the event is not known, history is very clear about this. The Jewish atrocities began in 171 BC. That’s very clear from history…Until 171, say the historians, there was peace between Antiochus and the Jews. The pious high priest, a good man by the name of Onias III, was removed from office. Jason…who bribed Antiochus for the position, was put in the place of the true high priest. The anger of the Jews became stirred. That is the righteous Jews, and though the revolution didn’t break out for a while, the thing began to fester that eventually led to that revolution.

And then 2300 days from September 6th, the temple was cleansed as the Maccabeans won their battle against Antiochus. Now, you get a little idea of the history of this individual by looking at verses 9 to 14. … Antiochus was such a maniac that he imprinted on the coins…and by the way, you might be interested to know we found 126 coins. I say “we,” speaking of archeologists. Have found 126 coins with this on them: “Theos Antiochus Theos Epiphenes,” which means Antiochus, God manifest. What a picture of antichrist who comes as the false god.

 

 

 God’s word never ceases to amaze — even to the literal fulfillment of prophecies, and prophecies which involve numbers. We can look at the near-term prophecies of Daniel and realize they were right, and thus can trust that the future prophecy will also be fulfilled. So much for all those skeptics who say that “all numbers in Revelation are used symbolically.” Nonsense. As I’ve learned through continual study, the book of Revelation is a very Jewish book, with many references to prophecies in Daniel, also things in Ezekiel and Zechariah. This study of Daniel helps to connect the dots and fill in the pieces, as one major part of God’s progressive revelation, which began in the Old Testament

January 8, 2009

The Coming Kingdom of Christ: the Chronology

Continuing now with MacArthur’s sermons through Daniel 7 (part 2 and part 3), now comes the chronology of the kingdom.

Chapter 7 is one long vision, with three segments: first, the four beasts that rise out of the sea; second, the Ancient of Days on the throne; and third, Christ being given His kingdom as He comes in glory. Though of course we don’t know any specific dates for when Christ’s Kingdom will come, we can know these points:

The Kingdom of Christ follows the final kingdom of the nations

Christ returns after the four great world empires, described in the first seven verses: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Daniel sees these as four beasts, rather ugly creatures, since he sees things from God’s perspective. Contrast this with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in chapter 2, in which the four kingdoms are described in very beautiful, attractive language — a statue with gold, silver, and bronze: Nebuchadnezzar as a pagan saw the kingdoms of men in a positive way.

The Kingdom of Christ follows the final form of the final kingdom of the nations.

The final form of the final kingdom will be some form of Rome. Rome died a long time ago, yet we still have many vestiges of the Roman system today: our legal system, our culture, even our language has some derivatives from Rome’s language. Daniel 7, verse 7, tells us that the final form will have ten horns. John MacArthur, from this message in 1980, believes this will be some type of European Union, a ten-nation confederacy, and saw significance in the forming of the European economic union. I’ve heard other preachers (more recently) say it will come out of the Middle East, which after all was also part of the Roman Empire.  Again, we don’t know the details, but can only speculate, yet it will somehow be a revived form of the Roman Empire, in the general Middle East / European part of the world.

Here as in many places of Daniel, we find parallel descriptions, with more details, in the book of Revelation. Revelation 13 describes a beast with ten horns and seven heads, and one of the heads was dead and came to life again.

The Kingdom of Christ follows the final ruler of the final form of the final kingdom of the nations

Verses 8, 20, and 24 tell us that one particular king arises from the ten:

MacArthur: Verse 8, Daniel 7, “I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before which there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Verse 20, “And of the ten horns that were in its head, and of the other which came up and before whom three fell, even of that horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more…stout says the authorized…than its fellows.” Again commenting on this little horn that rises. Verse 24, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are the ten kings that shall arise.” That’s the final form of the final kingdom. “But out of that final form shall arise after them another, diverse from the first, and subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change the times and the laws; and they shall be given unto his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time… there is a constant comment that there’s going to rise a king out of the ten. He will subdue three others. He will take over and rule, and he will do various and sundry things. Now, this is a prediction of what we call in Daniel 7 “the little horn.” But he is none other than the antichristHere, among all the uncertainty as to the details, we can discern a few specific traits: he starts out small, a little horn, and apparently becomes larger, more “stout” as one translation renders it, in verse 20 — meaning abundant in size, rank, such as a captain or a chief. Antichrist is clearly a political genius: an individual so subtle that he gradually rises up the political ladder, without an upheaval or revolution. He conquers without fighting. Revelation 6 further describes this, a rider on a horse, with a bow but not arrows. He is also an intellectual genius: “eyes like the eyes of a man (verse 8), which refer to insight, knowledge, shrewdness and cleverness, someone who is able to solve the world problems, who will be able to bring peace to the Middle East as another passage describes. Antichrist will also be a great orator (verse 8, a mouth speaking great things), paralleled in Revelation 13:5, as well as a military genius. MacArthur: “Once he rises to his place peaceably, once he obtains his kingdom by flattery, then the holocaust begins.” He’ll also be a commercial genius, able to solve economic problems (Revelation 18). Also he will be a religious genius — someone who has charisma, who passes himself off as a great religious leader, and (verse 25) speaks boastfully against the Most High God. Fortunately, as we see at the end of verse 25, his time will be limited, to 3 1/2 years.

The Kingdom of Christ follows the final ruler, and the final form, and the final kingdom, only after the final persecution by that final ruler.

Verse 21 describes a persecution by the final ruler, against the saints. Zechariah 13:8-9 describes this terrible persecution also, in which the antichrist kills 2/3 of the Jews, and literally conquers Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-2). Revelation 13:5-10 also describes this time, including a great persecution, and that many saints will be killed.

The Kingdom of Christ follows a divine judgment for the great persecution by the final ruler of the final phase of the final kingdom of the nations.

In verses 9 and 10, the Ancient of Days took His throne, and the books were opened. Verse 9 describes “His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.” Fire here speaks of His authority, and is associated with judgment, as described also in Psalm 97:3. Ezekiel 1 also describes God as wheels of flaming fire. Revelation 1 has a similar description, of God the Son, to show that the same description is applied to both God the Father (in Daniel 7) and God the Son (Revelation 1) — the amazing truth of the trinity, how they are described because, though distinct persons, they are of the same essence.

January 7, 2009

Daniel 7: The Coming Kingdom of Christ

Filed under: Bible Study,Daniel,John MacArthur — Lynda O @ 7:53 am
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For study of Daniel chapter 7 I look again to John MacArthur’s sermons — a three-part message called “The Coming Kingdom of Christ.” 

Here are links to part1, part2, and part3

This chapter begins the second half of the book of Daniel. After giving a narrative history of the political events of Daniel’s life, from the beginning of captivity in Babylon, to the beginning of the reign of Darius near the end of Daniel’s life, this section involves prophetic revelation from God to Daniel, during the years described in the preceding narrative. We have seen one prophecy, in chapter 2, but that was given to Nebuchadnezzar and reflects his Gentile perspective. Here, Daniel himself receives the prophecies, of which chapter 7 is the overview of all history — from Daniel’s time to the end, Christ’s return; chapters 8 through 12 reveal more of the details. Also of note, all of the visions in this section come after Nebuchadnezzar’s death: the first two visions during the reign of Belshazzar, and the next two visions during the early years of Darius the Mede. The Babylonian empire was stable under its great ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, but after him the empire declined rapidly, and so in this time of turmoil and confusion God reveals more of His plan to Daniel and subsequently his Jewish readers.

The major theme of chapter 7 is the coming of the King, and the establishment of His eternal kingdom. Three aspects of the kingdom, brought out in this chapter, are the coronation of the King, the character of the kingdom, and the chronology of the kingdom.  (Here I’m going to review the first two parts, leaving the chronology for a later blog update.)

The coronation is described in verses 9, and 13 – 14. As MacArthur says, this is the crucial moment, the greatest event in all of God’s time and eternity: the coronation of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. This is not new revelation within the Old Testament, though — the earliest reference can be found in Genesis 49, the promise the one will come named Shiloh (meaning: the one whose right it is), to take the scepter, which belongs to a king. In 2 Samuel 7 we learn of God’s promise, that David’s son will build a house for God. MacArthur: “‘And beyond Solomon, I will send a greater than Solomon, a greater than David. I will send one who will establish a kingdom and it will be forever, and forever, and forever.’ So even then, the promise had been made that the Messiah would come and establish a kingdom.”Several psalms picture the King and His coronation, includings Psalms 2, 45, 72, and 110. Zechariah 9 also describes the coronation of the king.

Daniel 7 describes the “Ancient of Days” and another figure, “one like a son of man” — references to the Father, and the Son, Jesus Christ. As MacArthur points out, Jesus often applied this title to Himself, in direct reference to Daniel’s prophecy.  Interestingly enough, Jesus specifically uses this title when He is referring to His second coming. The scene here in Daniel 7 describes the Ancient of Days (God the Father) giving the kingdom to the son.

Now to the character of the kingdom:  MacArthur describes this with five key words that describe what His kingdom will be like: authority, honor, kingdom, saints, and duration. Verse 14 describes Christ’s absolute authority, and honor. Christ will have complete control, and He will be honored. This world has plenty of dictators who have absolute authority, but the people chafe under their rule; Christ will be honored. Same as MacArthur says — yes I get weary of Christ being dishonored; believers can identify with the saints under the altar in Revelation 6, who cry out “How long, oh Lord?”

The third word, kingdom, emphasizes the structure of His government. The context of Daniel 7 and its statements indicates that Christ will literally reign on earth. MacArthur says it well:

The kingdom is a word that speaks of the structure of His government. ‘Shall be given unto Him a governmental structure.’ In other words — This is very important. The kingdom is not simply some spiritual entity. There are some who say, well, the kingdom is just the rule of Christ in the hearts of believers. It’s just a spiritual thing. … the context of Daniel is a series of statements about how the earth will literally be ruled. There will be four gentile world powers and then the kingdom of Christ. And I believe the context demands an earthly literal kingdom of Christ. I think it’s more than that. I think he’s talking about an eternal kingdom. But the first element of that kingdom is to be that millennial earthly kingdom. The contrast you see in all of the vision of Daniel is between the earthly empires of men and the earthly empire of Christ. I think we’re gonna see a real literal kingdom on this earth.

 

Saints — verse 18 — the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever-yes, for ever and ever.

The word saints is used in scripture to refer to all believers — the angels, Old Testament believers, the apostles, the tribulation saints, and us believers in the New Testament church age.

The kingdom’s duration is forever, a wonderful promise, described in verses 14, 18 and again in verse 27.

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