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Showing posts from May, 2020

Seventy Weeks - Commencement Date

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SYNOPSIS  –  The commencement of the “seventy weeks” is linked to the prophecy of Jeremiah about the Babylonian Captivity  –  Daniel 9:1-2 .  The prophecy of the “ seventy weeks ” in  Daniel  is one of the most perplexing and disputed passages in the Hebrew Bible. One of the few aspects on which there is a general agreement is the length of the prophetic period – That the “ seventy sevens ” equates to a period of 490 years. Beyond this, interpretations diverge on every aspect of the prophecy - ( Daniel 9:24-27 ). - [ Photo by Eliza Diamond on Unsplash ].

Seventy Weeks - The Final Week

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SYNOPSIS :   An analysis of the final week of the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy  – Daniel 9:26-27 . By  Eric Rothermel  on  Unsplash We now reach the end of the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy, its final or so-called seventieth “ week ” ( Daniel 9:26-27 ). This passage describes a set of events for which the preceding sixty-nine “weeks” have prepared. The text says  nothing about the destruction  of the city or the Temple. Instead, in this final “ week ,” the people of the city are “ corrupted ,” and the Sanctuary is defiled by the “ abomination that desolates .

First Sixty-Nine Weeks

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The first sixty-nine “weeks” lay the groundwork for the tumultuous events of the final or “seventieth week”  –  Daniel 9:25 .  Next, the angel described the first sixty-nine “ weeks ” of the  prophecy, but only briefly. As he declared at the start, “ seventy weeks are  divided  upon your people and upon your holy city .” After presenting the  redemption  that would be realized by the end of the prophecy, he described its three subdivisions of “ seven weeks ,” “ sixty-two weeks ,” and “ one week ,” presumably, consecutive periods of 49, 434, and 7 years [ Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash ].

Seventy Weeks - Prayer and Visitation

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Synopsis :  Daniel prays a collective prayer of repentance after contemplating a prophecy of Jeremiah  - Daniel 9:1-23 .  Photo by  Patrick Fore  on  Unsplash The “ first year ” of Darius the Mede locates the vision of the “Seventy Weeks” in approximately 538 to 537 B.C. This is the same period when Babylon fell to the “ kingdom of the Medes and Persians ,” as well as the release of the Jewish exiles from Babylon by the decree of Cyrus the Great (536 B.C. -  2 Chronicles 36:22-23 ,  Ezra 1:1-11 ).

Malevolent King

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Daniel received the interpretation of the ram, the goat, and of the “little horn,” the coming malevolent king  -  Daniel 8:15-27 .  In the vision of the “ four beasts from the sea ,” only the first “ beast ” could be identified with certainty, the “ winged lion ” that symbolized Babylon. But not one of the four “ kingdoms ” was identified by name. In contrast, in the interpretation of the “ ram and the goat ” two of them are identified by name – the kingdom of the “ Medes and Persians ” and that of “ Greece ” - [ Dark figure photo by  Alan Labisch  on  Unsplash ].

Desolating Transgression

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Daniel received a vision of a “ram” that was overthrown by a “goat” with a prominent horn, representing Greece  -  Daniel 8:1-14 .  In the third year of Belshazzar, Daniel received a vision of a “ ram"  and “ goat ,” with the ram representing the “ Medes and Persians ,” and the goat representing Greece and its first great king. The vision is followed by its interpretation by an angelic figure. The focus of the vision is the “ little horn ,” which symbolizes a malevolent king who would descend from Greece and persecute the saints - [ Photo by Fabrizio Conti on Unsplash ].

Four Beasts - Interpretation

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The vision of the fourth beast, its arrogant “little horn” and the war it waged on the saints is interpreted by an angelic being  -  Daniel 7:15-28 .  Daniel’s vision of the four beasts “ ascending from the sea ” concluded with a judgment scene. In it, the figure “ like a Son of Man ” approached the “ Ancient of Days ” to receive everlasting “ dominion .” His vision left Daniel confused and troubled, but an angel provided him with its interpretation.  The “ Son of Man ” represented the people of God destined to inherit the kingdom - [ Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash ].

Four Beastly Regimes - Vision

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In the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel saw a vision of four beastly creatures ascending from the chaotic sea  -  Daniel 7:1-8 .  Daniel received a vision in which he saw “ four beasts   ascending ” from the sea. The first half of the chapter describes the vision, the second half presents its  interpretation. The vision had  a fourfold structure, corresponding to the four parts of the “ great image ” seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his earlier dream, with its golden head, silver arms and breast, brass belly and thighs, and legs of iron and clay - [ Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash ].

Next Imperial Regime

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The rescue of Daniel from the ravenous lions demonstrated that Yahweh remained in firm control of history  –  Daniel 6:1-28 .  After the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, the new ruler of the province, “ Darius the Mede ,” appointed Daniel as his chief officer over the other civil servants that administered the region. This caused resentment among other officials, so a conspiracy was hatched to destroy the prophet, and trapped by his own words, Darius became ensnared in the very plot to destroy Daniel - [ Lions - Photo by  Jeff Lemond  on Unsplash ].

Head of Gold Shattered

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The last Babylonian ruler summoned Daniel to read the “handwriting on the wall” before the empire’s downfall  -  Daniel 5:1-31 .  The events recorded in the fifth chapter of  Daniel  occurred on the eve of the city’s conquest by the “ Medes and Persians .” That night, the king hosted  a feast “ for a thousand of his lords ” who “ tasted wine ” from the gold and silver vessels that had been looted from the Jerusalem Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar. And all while praising the false gods of the empire - [ Photo by Nagy Arnold on Unsplash ].

Downfall and Restoration

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The King has another troubling dream that leads to his downfall but only after his display of imperial hubris  -  Daniel 4:1-34 .  In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, and as before, one that only Daniel could interpret. Yahweh would remove the king from power until he learned, once again, that the “ Most-High God ” alone is sovereign over the affairs of men. The chapter begins and ends with the Babylonian ruler acknowledging the sovereignty of Yahweh - [ Photo by Jamil Kabar on Unsplash ].

Golden Image of the King

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Nebuchadnezzar implemented his dream by “setting up” a great golden image to glorify his majesty and sovereignty  -  Daniel 3:1-30 .  In chapter 3, the King expended great effort to make  his dream  a reality. He “ set up ” an enormous golden image that conformed to his vision of an everlasting kingdom. However, just as He did with the “ tower of Babel ” in the “ Land of Shinar ,” the “ Most-High God ” used a most unexpected “tool” to thwart the imperial designs of Nebuchadnezzar – His attempt to execute the lowly exiles from Judah - [ Augustus - Photo by  tommao wang  on Unsplash ].

Food Offered to Idols

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Daniel and his three Jewish companions refused to participate in the religious rituals of the Babylonian World-Power  –  Daniel 1:14 . Daniel was confronted with a predicament in the imperial court. If he consumed the food and drink provided by the king, it could cause his ritual defilement. Possibly, he and his Jewish companions wished to avoid eating meat classified as “ unclean .” More likely, the consumption of the “ king’s delicacies ” meant participation in the idolatrous religious rituals of Babylon - [ Augustus - Photo by Nemanja Peric on Unsplash ].

In the Imperical Court

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God gave the kingdom of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, but He also equipped Daniel and his companions for service in the court of Babylon .  In its opening paragraph,  Daniel  labels Babylon the “ land of Shinar ,” which links it to the “ tower of Babel ” in  Genesis . The Neo-Babylonian Empire had an ancient pedigree, and like his ancient forbears, Nebuchadnezzar had determined to unite all men under one language and one government, where all would render homage to his high image - [ Photo by  Bob Bowie  on Unsplash ].

Babel, Empire and Hubris

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Human presumption to empire is the legacy of the Tower of Babel, humanity’s first attempt at World-Power .  The ancient story of the Tower of Babel is reflected in  Daniel  when the ruler of the “ land of Shinar ,” Nebuchadnezzar, gathered all nations to pay homage to the great image that he had “ set up ” in the “ Plain of Dura .” His empire was not a new political entity, but the latest incarnation of the imperial effort that has been underway since the start of human civilization - [ Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash ].

Introduction to Daniel

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An introduction to the Book of Daniel with a brief overview of how the Book of Revelation applies it .  The  book of Daniel  is a well-structured literary work, not a collection of folk stories or random and unrelated visions. At the very beginning, the key themes of the book are presented in brief, then worked out in detail in the subsequent chapters, and each new vision builds on the preceding ones - [ Photo by Giammarco on Unsplash ].

Commencement of the Good News

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SYNOPSIS  -  The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus commenced the promised New Creation of God  –  Mark 1:1-3 .  The  gospel of Mar k provides no information about the birth or early life of Jesus. It opens quite simply with a declaration derived from the Hebrew Bible, one that provides a scriptural link to John the Baptist. This sets the stage for the  commencement of the messianic mission of Jesus Christ .

Demonstration of His Righteousness

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The “righteousness of God” refers to His faithfulness to His promises, and this is demonstrated in the salvation He has provided in Jesus .  In Romans, Paul stresses the “ righteousness of God ” revealed in the gospel, the “ power of God for salvation to everyone who believes .” And it is proclaimed throughout the earth to “ Jew and Greek ” alike. By the “ righteousness of God ,” he means  HIS  “righteousness,” God's faithfulness to provide salvation for His wayward creatures - [ Photo by  Joshua Earle  on Unsplash ].

Firstborn of the Dead

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To the Colossians, Paul emphasized the exalted position of Jesus that resulted from his death and resurrection  –  Colossians 1:18-19 .  In  Colossians , Paul stresses the exalted position of Jesus. Some members of the congregation were confused about Christ’s authority, especially regarding the spiritual powers that remain hostile to him and his people. Therefore, Paul reminds them of just how highly God has exalted the one who became the “ firstborn of the dead ” - [ Wild flowers photo by  Preston Browning  on Unsplash ].

Perfection in Resurrection

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Paul expressed his goal of going on to perfection, a process that will culminate in our physical resurrection when Jesus returns  –  Philippians 3:7-21 .  In the opening thanksgiving of his letter to the Philippians, Paul prepares his readers for a key theme of his letter – going on to “ perfection ” in Jesus. The promised bodily resurrection is necessary for their “ completion .” It is not optional but is an integral part of the future salvation they will receive when Jesus arrives in glory - [ Butterfly photo by  Justin DoCanto  on Unsplash ].

Meeting Jesus in the Air

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Paul reassured the Thessalonians regarding the participation of dead saints in the arrival of Jesus from heaven  –  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 .  In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reassured the congregation about the participation of fellow saints who die before the “ arrival ” of Jesus   in the glories of that day.   BOTH  dead and living saints will assemble to “ meet ” him, and thereafter both will be with him “ forevermore .” Dead believers will be resurrected, and together with those still alive, all will meet the Lord as he descends from heaven - [ Cloudscape - Photo by  Kaushik Panchal  on  Unsplash ].

Sorrow Not - Resurrection Hope

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Foundational to the hope of the church is the bodily resurrection of believers that will take place when Jesus arrives from heaven .  Paul’s description of the “ coming ” of Jesus in his first letter to the Thessalonians was written to comfort Christians concerning the fate of believers who die before that day. Disciples must not sorrow “ like the others ”  BECAUSE  dead Christians will be resurrected when the Lord " arrives ,” and both the living and newly raised believers will “ meet him ” as he descends from heaven - [ Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash ].

New Creation and His Advent

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The arrival of Jesus in glory will usher in the Day of the Lord, the final judgment, and the New Creation .  In his second epistle, Peter addressed the growing weariness and discouragement of some Christians due to the apparent “delay” in the promised “ coming ” of Jesus, an open door that false teachers and critics were exploiting. Instead of all the predicted terrestrial and cosmic upheaval, daily life was continuing as it always appeared to do [ Photo by  Jeremy Thomas  on  Unsplash ].

Beginning of the Creation of God

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Revelation looks forward to the reign of Jesus in the New Creation, a reality inaugurated by his Death and Resurrection .  In his letter to Laodicea, Jesus declared that he is the “ beginning of the creation of God ,” for, in his death and resurrection, he inaugurated the New Creation. In the same sentence, and in the present tense, he also is called the “ Amen ,  the faithful and true witness ,” appellations applied to him already in the book’s prologue  - [ Photo by  Mark Harpur  on Unsplash ].

Jurisdiction of the Law

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According to Galatians, the jurisdiction of the Torah reached its termination point with the arrival of Jesus - The “seed” of Abraham .  Responding to claims that Gentiles must be circumcised, Paul appealed to the experience of receiving the Spirit by the Galatians.  Did they receive the gift in response to a “ hearing of faith ” or “ from the works of the Law ?”  Having begun in the Spirit, why did they now seek “ to complete ” their faith on the basis of “ flesh ” by submitting to circumcision? - [ Photo by Nasser Eledroos on Unsplash ].

Incomparable New Covenant

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In his death, Jesus inaugurated the promised and vastly superior new covenant, rendering the old one obsolete .  According to  Hebrews , the “ word of the Son ” surpasses all past revelations “ spoken in the prophets .” He went beyond his predecessors, having “ achieved the purification of sins ,” and therefore, he “ sat down ” at the right hand of God and inherited “ all things .” And among other things, his exaltation signaled the commencement of the “ new covenant ” - [ Photo by  Denys Nevozhai  on  Unsplash ].

Life-Giving Spirit

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There is no life without the Spirit of God, for it is His Spirit that creates, animates, sustains, and restores all life, and now, only through Jesus . Jesus declared that “ the spirit  makes alive   [‘ quickens ’] … The words which I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life. ” His words echo the principle that life and “ spirit ” are inextricably linked. The “ flesh ” is not inherently evil, but it has no life without the Spirit. And the words of Christ are added into the mix, for there is no “ life ” found apart from them - [ Photo by Carlo Borella on Unsplash ].

Exaltation of the Lamb

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The enthronement of Jesus is based on his past death and resurrection, the immovable foundation of his present reign in Revelation .  The sacrifice and exaltation of Jesus are prominent in the book of  Revelation . God’s plan to redeem humanity through him is unveiled in its visions, and his death, resurrection, and enthronement are put into action. His sovereignty over the Cosmos is the result of his faithful obedience and sacrificial death - [ Photo by  Rod Long  on Unsplash ].

Lamb and King

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Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb began his messianic reign following his death and resurrection, and now he is shepherding the nations .  The  book of Revelation  assures beleaguered congregations that Jesus does reign and has events firmly under his control despite appearances and hostility from the surrounding society. His kingly authority is based on his past death and resurrection, and the latter marked the commencement of his reign from the messianic throne - [ Shepherd  Photo by Mita Park on Unsplash ].

Ruler of the Kings of the Earth

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Because of his “faithful witness,” Jesus reigns supreme over the kings of the earth and even over his vilest enemies .  At the start of  Revelation , Jesus is designated the “ ruler over the kings of the earth ,” and in the present tense. His absolute sovereignty is based on his sacrificial death and resurrection, and  NOT  on any hereditary rights, economic or military might. He is the anointed king appointed by Yahweh to reign from the “ throne of David ” - [ Photo by Marc Schulte on Unsplash ].

Jesus Reigns Now

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The reign of Jesus began with his exaltation to the messianic throne after his Death and Resurrection  –  Psalms 110:1 .  The New Testament links the enthronement of Jesus to his death and resurrection, using key messianic texts from the Hebrew Bible. He achieved the authority to rule because of his faithful obedience unto death. God vindicated His Son by raising him from the dead and seating him “ at His right hand ,” where he now reigns supreme over all things - [ Photo by  JESHOOTS.COM  on Unsplash ].

Why do the Nations Rage?

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In the New Testament, the conspiracy of the kings of the earth to destroy the Son is applied to the plot to slay Jesus  –  Psalm 2:1-6 .  The second Psalm is a key messianic prophecy that is applied to Jesus consistently in the New Testament. But precisely when were the predictions from the Psalm fulfilled? Has the Messiah been installed on the Throne of David, or is this prediction still waiting for a future fulfillment? What about the “ rage ” of the nations against Yahweh’s “ anointed one ”? - [ Stormy Sea Photo by  Barth Bailey  on Unsplash ].

Christ and Caesar

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Satan offered Jesus unlimited political power to achieve his messianic mission if only he accepted him as his overlord.  Satan tempted Jesus by offering him political power over “ all the kingdoms of the world ,” but he refused the offer. Instead of power and grandeur, he submitted to the way of the ‘ Suffering Servant .’ Arguably, the most startling detail of the encounter is that he did not dispute the Devil’s claim to have jurisdiction over the political systems of the world - [ Photo by  Nemanja Peric  on Unsplash ].

Preaching a Different Jesus

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Is Jesus the “slain Lamb,” or has he become the “roaring” Lion of Judah out to exact vengeance on his enemies?  When certain “ super-apostles ” began to undermine his teachings, Paul reminded the church that the “ serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness ,” and warned against anyone who came “ proclaiming another Jesus , whom we did not preach, or a different spirit, or a different gospel .” He pointed to the same Christ that he first proclaimed as the benchmark against which all other versions must be measured - [ Photo by  Sulthan Auliya  on  Unsplash ] .

Neither Jew Nor Greek

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Returning to the custodianship of the Law means rebuilding the wall between Jew and Gentile, but “you are all one in Christ - heirs of Abraham.”  In  Galatians , Paul portrays the Mosaic Law as the “ custodian ” or “ pedagogue ” that supervised Israel “ until  the seed came ,” and that “ seed ” was Jesus. In Greco-Roman society, the “ pedagogue ” was the slave with custodial and disciplinary authority over an underage child until he reached maturity, even though the custodian was a slave - [ Old Stone Wall - Photo by  Mick Haupt  on  Unsplash ].

Abraham and the New Covenant

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With the ascension of Jesus, the gift of the Spirit arrived with blessings for all believers - The “promise of Abraham.”  The “ promise of the Father ” is the gift of the Spirit, and the Apostle Paul linked it to the covenant promises given to Abraham that are now fulfilled in the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus. The bestowal of the Spirit marked the commencement of the messianic age, the era of fulfillment. Moreover, Gentile believers are now equal heirs of those promises - [ Photo by  Carlo Borella  on Unsplash ].

New Covenant - New Creation

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The promises to Abraham find their fulfillment in the New Covenant in Jesus and the New Creation .  The history of Israel includes examples of idolatry and national sins that culminated in her expulsion from the land. But all was not lost. Yahweh foresaw her fall and, from the beginning, determined to restore her and institute a New Covenant that included the nations of the earth. In the end, the New Creation would become the true inheritance of His people - [ Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash ].

Message of the Gospel

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The church is called to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God in every inhabited corner of the earth .  After his resurrection, Jesus declared that “ all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me;  therefore , go and make disciples of all nations .” During his ministry, the disciples were not to preach to the Gentiles, though he did so several times in anticipation of the opening of the gospel to the “ nations .” But initially, they were to proclaim it only to the “ lost sheep of Israel ” - [ Photo by  Damir Spanic  on Unsplash ].