Three Angels' Messages Part 29

            Thanks for joining us as we continue to explore the Three Angels’ Messages, found in Revelation 14. In the first angel’s message we find the phrase found “The hour of His judgment has come,” and we’ve been seeing how the prophecies of Daniel tell us when the pre-advent judgment began in heaven.
             Here’s a very simple way to think of how the Bible teaches us about the pre-advent judgment, which we know begins at the conclusion of the 2300 day/year prophecy. What have to do is connect three chapters within the book of Daniel in order to discover the beginning, and therefore, the end of this time period. Daniel 7 gives us a view of this heavenly judgment, but doesn’t tell us when it starts. Daniel 8 gives us a time period, but doesn’t tell us when it begins. Daniel 9 gives us a beginning point, as well as some helpful “markers” to confirm that we’re on the right track.
            We saw that Christ’s first coming, His anointing and sacrificial death were the featured parts of the 70-week (490-year) prophecy, events which are verifiable by history. But the devil worked feverishly to discredit the prophecy and deny its application to Jesus of Nazareth. When God’s people asked their teachers about Jesus being the Christ, they were given answers that denied Jesus the Christ. But that was only the devil’s first assault on the prophecy of Daniel 9 and the 70-weeks.
            In the last decades, we find that the devil again launched a direct assault against this amazing prophecy. Before this last century, the beautiful, harmonious and symmetrical understanding of the scope of the 70 “weeks” of Daniel was the “standard” interpretation accepted by virtually all the Protestants. But now an alternate interpretation has taken such deep root that it is embraced by almost all of Christianity, which means that the devil’s second attack against Daniel 9 has been even more effective than his first one!
            To set the stage for this inquiry, please note that while the Scriptures present a picture of the 70 weeks that is intact and whole, highlighting the mission of the Messiah in His sacrificial death and the tragic departure from the position of favor held by the Jewish nation, all of which nail down the certainty of the larger 2300-year prophecy, today a different analysis of this prophecy is given which radically shifts its contents and meaning. As shocking as it may seem, today it is taught by most theologians and assumed by most Christians that the last week of the seventy is separated from the other 69 weeks and shoved off until the end of time. However, there is absolutely no biblical justification for so doing! We ask, who put the scissors into the hands of these theologians?
            This is Satan’s second attack against Daniel 9. Because he knows that we are now living, since 1844 in “the hour of His judgment,” a truth made certain by the prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9, his special assault has been against those Scriptures which bring attention to this momentous event. By distorting the prophecy of the 70 weeks, the foundation for the 2300-year prophecy is eroded.
            Notice the pernicious errors that are thereby introduced. First, if you separate the last week from the others, you no longer have “70 weeks.” You have whatever would be the sum of the 69 weeks, plus those intervening weeks during the “gap,” followed by the last week at the end of the age. But the integrity and wholeness of the 70-week period is compromised and destroyed.
            By separating the last week from the other 69, the purpose of the 70 weeks, being allocated to the Jews in a special way (Gabriel said they were “determined for your people”) is demolished. This was to be a period of probation for the Jewish nation; a time for them to live up to the terms of the covenant and continue to be God’s special people. The parable of the vineyard recorded in Matthew 21:33-45 brings this into view with sobering reality. In the parable, Jesus reported that after abusing the prophets sent to them, “last of all” God sent to them His Son. That phrase “last of all” is profound! The coming of Jesus to this earth was Heaven’s last attempt to gain the allegiance of the Jewish nation. According to the parable, the “Stone” which they rejected was to become the chief Cornerstone and the “kingdom” would be taken from them and given to another “nation.”
            History tells us that they did indeed “kill the Son,” Who was sent to them “last of all.” The book of Acts clearly teaches that the Christian Church was raised up to be a witness to the risen Christ and His teachings. But how could God expect the Jewish nation to proclaim the truth of Jesus as the risen Messiah? They were the ones who cried for Him to be put to death on the cross! How could they proclaim the reality of His resurrection? They had bribed the soldiers to tell a lie about the empty tomb! God was obliged to set them aside and inaugurate another entity, the Christian Church, to herald the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Into this entity, individual Jews could be incorporated.
            It was regarding this transference of privilege that the Apostle Peter wrote when he alluded to the parable spoken by Jesus and said, “‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people, but are now the people of God.” I Peter 2:8-10.
            Consider this remarkable statement! In this passage, Peter quotes from (the LXX version of) Exodus 19:5, 6 and places the Christian Church figuratively at the foot of Mt. Sinai, receiving the covenant promise which places it in the position of privilege once occupied by the nation of Israel.
            Did other prophets speak to this transference of position and privilege? Yes! Did not John the Baptist warn the Jews, “Do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:9, 10.
            In anticipation of this removal of privilege Jesus uttered those solemn words, “Your house is left to you desolate.” Just the day before this, He had referred to the temple as “My house,” saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves’”! Matthew 21:13. Think of this! What an awesome transition, from the temple being “My house” on Monday to “Your house” which is left “desolate” on Tuesday of passion week! But the eye of Jesus could see the cross being raised; His ear could hear the tramp of the Roman armies coming to demolish Jerusalem. Judah, you did not know the day of your visitation!
            Paul spoke to this passing of the baton from Judah to the Christian Church. The apostle most certainly knew of the promises made to Israel, but he also understood that in God’s eyes, “Israel” was not so much a physical lineage issue, but an inward heart issue. The true “Israelite” is one who has had a conversion experience, just as when “Jacob” (the “cheater”) became “Israel” (the “overcomer”).
Did not Paul say, “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart.” Romans 2:28, 29. Didn’t he write, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. Thus the Bible teaches the probationary nature of Israel’s favored position and confirms the Christian Church as “spiritual Israel,” the entity to which Heaven looks to carry the torch of truth to the world.
            By removing the last week from the other 69, the incredibly important feature of the Jewish nation being on probation is destroyed and the historical evidence corroborating the prophecy provided by the transference of privilege from the Jewish nation to the Christian Church, illustrated clearly in the New Testament, is obliterated. One of the clearest way-markers testifying to the truthfulness of the larger vision is shattered.
            Another major way-marker, the death of the Messiah in the middle of that last week is uprooted. Prophecy said that in the middle of the week, “He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” The pronoun “He” in that verse points to Jesus. All the animal sacrifices offered throughout the Old Testament period beginning with the first one, when in Eden God “made tunics of skin and clothed” for the shamed Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21), found their fulfillment in the death of the “Lamb of God,” Jesus the Messiah. For some 4,000 years the blood of bulls and goats had typified the precious blood of Jesus, shed for our sins. To say that this event was one of the most important in history, and deserving a position of honor in the prophetic spotlight, would be a huge understatement. Christ’s death was the focus of the sanctuary service! It was indispensable to the plan of redemption! We would fully expect that it would be the subject of a major time prophecy.
            When Christ died on Calvary, the Lord Himself tore the curtain of the temple from top to bottom, signifying thereby that no longer were animal sacrifices necessary. Matthew 27:51. History records that precisely on time, Christ died on the cross for our sins, in the spring of A.D. 31, 3 ½ years after He began His ministry, in the middle of that last prophetic week of Daniel 9. Paul’s statement that “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4), is matched by his statement, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6. Jesus was born on time and He died on time, according to God’s time clock. These statements are significant!
            The force of the phrase “due time” in the passage from the book of Romans is from the Greek kairos, which means “appropriate, precise or fixed time.” There is nothing uncertain about the date of Christ’s death at all. Paul is saying, “At precisely the right time Christ died,” doubtless knowing the content of Daniel’s prophecy. The cross is planted securely in the middle of the 70th week of prophecy. But with the new view, this important way-marker on the prophetic time-line, Christ’s death in the middle of the 70th week, is removed. It is occupied by another! Amazing!
            Jesus’ role as the Sacrifice for sin is the centerpiece of the last week, occurring in the spring of A.D. 31, but the new interpretations rob Him of this spotlight. The greatest event in the history of the world, the miraculous and magnificent accomplishment of Christ’s death as given in the prophecy, is removed. His place is taken by another, an Antichrist. How ironic! Satan would do anything to remove Jesus from the prophetic focus and diminish the spectacular achievement of the cross. On the Mount of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about “His decease which He was about to accomplish.” Luke 9:31. The death of Jesus was just that, an accomplishment. Prophecy took the time to place the focus on this momentous event on the time-line, but modern interpretations place the spotlight on another, a usurper, instead.
            The devil attacked Daniel 9 not once, but twice! And lo, nearly the entire Christian world today views this prophecy, not as it was understood for most of the Christian era, indeed, more than 90% of the time since Calvary, not in the way that highlights the Messiah and provides stable and sure way-markers as evidence of the certainty of the 2300-year prophecy, but through a lens introduced only about a hundred years ago which alters and obscures the true intent of the prophecy. It’s like the Christian church is sitting in the eye doctor’s chair looking through his apparatus containing lenses that distort the picture of Bible truth.
            Along with this interpretation other errors have been introduced not known by Scripture, including the teaching of a rapture at the beginning of the last prophetic week of the 70, having been separated from the other 69 and positioned at the end of the age. The Bible makes it abundantly plain that Jesus’ coming will not be secret, but accompanied by the trumpet blast and the raising of the dead. His coming will not be a two-part event, with seven years elapsing between when the Church is taken away, and when the final end comes.
            Please pause carefully on this important point: the only time in the Scriptures that the word “rapture” (coming from the Greek ‘arpazo) is used in conjunction with the Second Coming is found in I Thessalonians 4:17 (translated “caught up”) which clearly places it in the context of the resurrection of the dead. Thus we can say that, whatever is taught regarding a “rapture” must be in harmony with Paul’s instruction in this passage. We can see that there will be nothing secret about it! His coming is an event which is visible, audible and most importantly climactic!
There will not be seven more years following the “rapture,” as the Bible teaches it. When Jesus comes in the clouds and we are “caught up” to meet Him, human life on this planet ends. It’s over. Paul writes about Christ’s parousia and says, “Then comes the end.” I Corinthians 15:24. Those thinking that there will be an additional seven-year period of time following this, during which decisions for God can be made, will be sadly mistaken. All of these doctrinal errors have come because of the attack of the devil against Daniel 9!
            It is up to us, as readers of the Scriptures, to “rightly divide” the Word of truth. Twisting, distorting or ignoring the plain teachings will lead to deception and destruction. Asking for the Spirit’s guidance, and faithfully placing scripture beside scripture in a way that leads to a harmonious interpretation, is the only safe way to study the Bible. God wants us to be saved in His eternal kingdom. The devil wants us to be lost. It’s up to us to faithfully study His Word to discover His truths and His plan. Please join us next time, as we continue our exploration of the Three Angels’ Messages.
           

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