Thursday, August 20, 2015

Daniel's 70 sevens (2)

Some Christians will have nothing to do with Bible prophecy, because, they say, they don't know how it will turn out. More about that in a minute.

In Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks (Dan 9:20 - 27) we said the "weeks" were weeks of years - periods of seven years. Sixty-nine weeks refers to the period from the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Neh 2:5 - 8) to the coming of the Messiah. That leaves one "week" - a period of seven years - still to account for.

There is obviously a gap between Messiah's death and verse 27. This is the church age, not mentioned for two reasons: first, the church was a mystery in the Old Testament; second, this prophecy refers to God's dealings with Israel (Dan 9:24). God dealt with Israel until Israel rejected their Messiah; He will begin to deal specifically with Israel again in verse 27 (Rom 11:25, 26).

Israel is not like other nations: Israel was chosen by God and God's promises to Israel not yet fulfilled are still to be fulfilled (Gen 17:7, 8; Jer 30:18 - 20; 31:10, 31-34; 33:20, 21, 25, 26; Ezek 36:34 - 38).

The Bible says that one of the first events to be fulfilled in the prophetic calendar is the rapture, when the church will be taken from the earth. Some Christians don't believe in a rapture: not believing in a rapture would be difficult in light of such Scriptures as 1 Thess 4:13 - 18 and 1 Cor 15:51 - 53. Some believe the rapture will occur at the end of time: this ignores the doctrine of imminence (Matt 24:42, 44; 25:13; Rom 13:11, 12; Heb 10: 37; Rev 22:20).

After this, a wicked world ruler will arise, generally known as the antichrist (1 John 2: 22). He will make a seven-year covenant with the Jews, but break the covenant half-way through. The remaining three-and-a-half years is the great tribulation, known as the time of Jacob's trouble, when the Jews will suffer as they have not suffered since the world began (J er 30:4 - 7; Dan 7:25; 12:7; Matt 24:21).

Hitler destroyed a third of world Jewry in the Holocaust. If we are to believe Zech 13:8, 9, during this period two thirds of the Jews will die. The remainder will come to faith in the Jewish Messiah (Rom 11:26, 27), heralding a millennium of peaceful reign on the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ cannot return to earth until the Jews are ready to receive Him (Hos 5:15; Matt 23:37 - 39).

So should Christians be concerned with Bible prophecy? The prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled so far have been fulfilled in exact detail. Can we not expect the same of the remainder?

The Bible gives us our knowledge of God and His dealings with men. It provides a wonderful history of Israel and the early church. But a quarter of the Bible refers to the future. We need it to make sense of the days in which we live and to understand how we should live in these days.

Of course we are expected to study Bible prophecy. That's what it's there for.

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