"WHAT IS PROPHESY AND CAN YOU TRUST IT?"

 

 

       PROPHECY IS A WORD ONE HEARS A LOT ABOUT THESE DAYS.  SO TODAY WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT PROPHESY, LOOK AT WHAT IT WAS IN HISTORY, HOW IT’S DONE AND HOW MUCH OF IT CAN WE REALLY TRUST. 

 

       ANYONE WHO WAS AROUND DURING THE 1960S OF THE LAST CENTURY MAY WELL REMEMBER THIS INTERNATIONAL HIT TUNE OF THOSE DAYS--LET'S HAVE A LISTEN (start playing instrumental music for Aquarius--DC reads the VOICEOVER)

 

              "When the moon is in the Seventh House,

               And Jupiter aligns with Mars,

               Then Peace will sweep the planet,

               And love will fill the stars!

               This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius,

               Aquarius‑‑

 

              The "dawning of the Age of Aquarius.." That great prophesy, first proclaimed nearly forty years ago, broke the news that leading astrologers around the world had announced that the great AGE had arrived.  The constellations of THE FAROFF stars had reached their PERFECT ALIGNMENT, so the world could expect an unprecedented time of HUMAN HISTORY, an Age characterized by LOVE, bROTHERHOOD and THE END OF ALL WAR.

 

       Hallelujah!  Who in their rights minds wouldn't welcome such an Age with all their hearts?  But what actually happened in the years immediately following the PUBLICIZING of that great celestial event?  First, the Vietnam War exploded into a bloodbath, three Arab nations attacked Israel, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, a million Cambodians were butchered in cold blood, terrorists murdered a dozen Israeli Olympic athletes IN THEIR DORMITORIES and murderous bombers BEGAN a campaign of blOWING INNOCENT passenger planes out of the sky. 

 

       THE fact WAS, there was no peace sweeping the planet and and there was no love filling the stars.  SO TO BE PERFECTLY FRANK AND TRUTHFUL, we must conclude that the Age of Aquarius was one prophesy that failed  miserably in its prediction of a NEW wonderful age of peace and tranquility.

 

       Out of curiosity I called a few astrologers to ask about this "Age of Aquarius" business.  I didn’t know any astrologers personally, so like everybody else searching for truth, I let my fingers do the walking.  AND THOSE FINGERS WALKED THROUGH the telephone Yellow Page DIRECTORY.

 

       I FOUND OUT that, under THE HEADING "Astrology" in the Los Angeles Yellow Pages, many of thOSE listings had a woman's name under it.  The others featured some gender-neutral business name, but when I dialed up theSE MORE AMORPHOUS numbers, I found that they, too, were run by a woman.  I don't know exactly what IF ANYTHING that PROVES, but I DO need to report what I found.

 

       When I asked these astrologers about the Age of Aquarius, to a woman they all made excuses.  "It's really not clear exactly WHEN the Aquarian Age began or even when it WILL begin IN THE FUTURE," they explained.

 

       "WHY SO?" I asked. 

 

       "it depends on how you reckon SIDEREAL time," THEY EXPLAINED.  "IT INVOLVES the positionS of the various astronomical configurations, which starting point you choose, HOW YOU READ THE INTERACTIONS OF THE PLANETS, and so forth and so on‑‑in any case, we all have our individual different systems." 

 

       One astrologer actually STATED that she didn't even believe there was such a thing as an Aquarian Age, based on her study of Babylonian belief SYSTEMS.  IF I MAY BE BOLD ENOUGH TO Sum up my brief research EXERCISE, I WOULD HAVE TO CONCLUDE That as a way of foretelling the future, astrology is NOT A VERY reliable TOOL.

 

       But that won't stop people from going to astrologers and paying good money for advice, readings and charts, even the wives of Presidents AND PRIME MINISTERS.  And it won’t erase those big headlines in the tabloid newspapers PROMOTING their latest PREDICTIONS OF WHICH MOVIE STAR WILL DIE OF CANCER AND HOW THE EARTH IS ABOUT TO BE DESTROYED BY A GIANT METEOR. 

 

       Let’s face THE TRUTH TOGETHER.  We human beings have aN INSATIABLE craving to peek around the corner of time TO see if we can't get a little preview of upcoming events.  because if we CAN ONLY know what WILL SHORTLY COME TO PASS, PERHAPS we'LL BE ABLE TO GAIN SOME advantage THROUGH our foreknowledge.  FOR EXAMPLE, If we know which horse will win the 3RD race THIS AFTERNOON, or which opportunities AND OFFERS are about to come our way, or even which disaster is lurking in our future, then we might be able to use that knowledge to PARAPHRASE the words of AN old song, AND SO eliminate the negatives and accentuate the positives. 

 

       From time immemorial, prophets and seers have been KEPT busY AND RICH predicting the future in every country and culture AROUND THE GLOBE--and mostly THEY'VE BEEN doing a PRETTY poor job at it.  

 

       In ancient Greece, INDIVIDUAL priests were associated with an ORACLE, WHICH WAS a place OR LOCATION THOUGHT to be divinely EMPOWERED, where the Greek gods CAME TO gave MYSTERIOUS messages to their prophets.  THESE PROPHETS then CAME FORTH to foretell the future BASED ON THESE GODLY REVELATIONS.  The Greeks believed that their various gods actually COMMUNICATED WITH theIR SPECIAL PRIESTS by MEANS OF SUCH oracles. 

 

       Some oracles were uttered by priests in a trance.  OTHERS INVOLVED DECIPHERING THE SOUNDS OF rustling leaves, and STILL OTHERS CAME TO priests STRETCHED OUT ON THEIR BACKS WHILE seeking visions. 

 

       Even at the height of their popularity, between the sixth and fifth centuries before Christ, it was widely understood by MOST ALL Greek citizens that these priests manipulated their so-called oracles to promote their own self‑interests and those of the particular god they WERE ASSOCIATED WITH, whether that god wERE Zeus, Apollo, Amon, ARTEMES. HERMES, OR Cumae.

 

       a famous example of this kind of self-serving prophesy OCCURRED when the emperor Croesus came to the Delphic oracle and asked him whether the gods were favorable to his seeking foreign expansion by going to war.  The priest was SUPERBLY CONFIDENT IN his REPLY. 

 

       "If you go to war, O Croesus," he intoned,  "I am assured by Apollo himself that you will surely succeed in destroying a great country."  Armed with this divine guarantee, Croesus promptly ORDERED the Greek armies into battle and, lo and behold, he did succeed in destroying a great country--in fac, HE  destroyed Greece ITSELF.

 

       The Romans also had their OMENS, which were simply natural events that gave them hints about the direction of future events.   Among the Romans, these omens or signs came to them IN a wide variety of FORMS which included tossing stones, casting of lots, INDUCING a trance, summoning up spirits and gazing into chunks of crystal.  The MOST COMMON omen AMONG THE ROMANS came in the form of a natural event, such as the sudden appearance of comets IN THE NIGHT SKY, or a suggestive shape in a flight of birds OR A CLOUD FORMATION.

 

       In today's modern societies, belief in omens still CAN BE FOUND in VARIOUS superstitions, such as unlucky days, lucky numbers, chance meetings, nightmares and warning dreams, fortune‑telling games like ouija boards AND TAROT CARDS, the messages FOUND in Chinese fortune cookies, or using the child's technique of sticking your finger in a book to find a lucky OR PORTENTUOUS word.

 

       In my own country, the United States, our own indigenous people we USED TO call "American Indians" BUT NOW REFER TO AS "NATIVE AMERICANS" were famous for their tribal prophets.  THESE VISION SEEKING SEERS resembled the great prophets of Israel because they went out on a limb and foretold definite AND DETAILED messages.  During the late 18th and 19th centuries, MOST ALL OF the Indian prophets foretold the regeneration of theIR NATION and their glorious recapture of all the lands stolen from them by the white man PROVIDED they fulfill one basic condition--every Indian HAD TO accept AND LIVE OUT the ideaL of Indian brotherhood. 

 

       EVERY Native-American prophet was connected to an Indian military leader, a chief whom he followed FAITHFULLY.  One such prophet SERVED the Delaware Tribe AND foretold the future for his Chief WHO WAS NAMED Pontiac.  another was the Shawnee Prophet who called the future for his Tribal Chief NAMED Tecumseh.        How accurate were these Native-American prophets? 

 

       One look at the historical record GIVES US the answer.  INSTEAD OF DRIVING the European settlers out of the North American continent, AS PREDICTED, TODAY those tribal Indians live on crowded  reservations, ruled by Europeans, ILL-EDUCATED AND POOR WITH their glory days long behind them.   DID THEIR PROPHETS THEN CEASE PROPHESYING?  NO, WHAT THEY DID WAS change THE MESSAGE OF theIR prophesies.  For over one hundred years now, they have been foreTELLING A TIME AHEAD, just on the horizon, when a great destruction will come upon all the world.  In this PROPHECY, they may VERY WELL prove more accurate than ever before.

 

       In the United States, we have people called "psychics" who claim to read the future.  One of America's MOST FAMOUS psychics was a lady named Jeanne Dixon, who performed regular readings for Hollywood stars, businessmen and even memberS of the U.S. Congress who came to her for advice and guidance. 

 

       Dixon wrote a series of books titled Jeanne Dixon Predicts The Future where she foretold what would happen during the year ahead.  How accurate was THIS JEANNE DIXON?  She was proven right about seven percent of the time.  That means she was wrong ninety‑three percent of the time, not really very good odds if you want to place any wagers OR BASE YOUR FUTURE on the outcome.

 

       A few years ago, an American television network BROADCAST a report where they checked up on five hundred predictions made that year by the most famous seers and psychics in the world.  Of these five hundred studied, how many do you think came TO PASS?  (PAUSE) Exactly twenty‑one!  That amounts to less than five percent accuracy.   

 

       Now I'd like to pose a Bible trivia question--How many mistakes were allowed for a Biblical prophet? (PAUSE)  Give up?  Then I'd like to read the answer to you from the Hebrew Scriptures in DEUTERONOMY 18, selected verses from verse 9 to 22--

                     

     "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.  There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,  or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.  For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.  You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 

 

"But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.'   And you may say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'   When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." 

                     

       So I’ll ask again--?  How many mistakes were allowed for a Biblical prophet?  None, zero, no not one!  And if he or she happened to be wrong even one time, the punishment was death!  So it's easy to understand why  there were not a whole lot of people appying for the job of prophet back in those days.

 

       The Apostle Peter, the fisherman who was chosen and inspired by God, wrote some very important words about Biblical prophesy.  We find these in the Book of 2 PETER 1:19‑21‑‑

 

       "And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.   But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 

 

       So when look at the Bible, how many different interpretations of prophesy can be true?  Only one!  No alternative interpretations are permissible.  Ah, you may say, but which interpretation is the right one?  ay, There’s the rub, right?  No, that's wrong!  The Biblical standard is clearly delineated in DEUTeronomy 13:1‑5‑‑

 

       "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,  and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,'  you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 

 

            "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.  But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you."

 

                            

        So the Bible clearly teaches that any interpretation of prophesy that turns God's people away from His eternally revealed Word, the bible, and any preacher or teacher that teaches from another holy book or another version of the Good News of the Messiah or who teaches another kind of Christ, the smartest move any believer or anybody else who fears god can make is to run away as fast as your feet can carry you.

 

       One thing we need to understand is that this Bible I hold in my hand is literally filled with predictions about future events.  In fact, at the time of its writing, about one‑third of the entire Bible was prophesy. 

 

       Now let me share something else with you.   Our Almighty God never does a single thing unless He has told us beforehand what He is going to do!   Isn’t that great?  that means that anyone and everyone who  places their trust in almighty God will walk through life with an untroubled soul and hope in their heart.  there should be no surprises for true believers, because the truth is--we have been told everything in advance of its happening!  isn't that great news?  Let me give you an example straight from the bible.

 

       When God was challenging the false pagan gods of Isaiah's day, the one and only God said in ISAIAH 41:21‑23:

             

       "Produce your cause.. bring forth your strong reasons.. show us what will happen.. declare to us things that will come.  Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods.  Indeed, you are nothing and your work is nothing.  He who chooses you is an abomination."  Now in the next page, in ISAIAH 42:9, God says‑‑"Behold, the former things are come to pass.  And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them!"

 

       It is the sole and unique glory of Almighty God, our All‑Knowing LORD and Creator, to "declare new things.. before they spring forth."  And in case anyone may have missed the point, He repeats in ISAIAH 46:9‑10‑‑"I am God, and there is none else.  I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My good pleasure.".

 

       Atheists, agnostics and modernists, and some folks who may even call themselves Christians, try to explain away the fact of fulfilled Bible prophesy.  They argue that all fulfilled Bible prophecies were in fact either merely accidental or simple coincidence.  That's a charge I'd like to disprove without any doubt right here and now.

 

       Let’s work through a little experiment together.  First, let's grant that a single prediction made in non-specific terms and seeming in a most general way to come to pass, that that kind of prophecy only gives the illusion of being a valid prophecy because it is so vague and therefore not provable. 

 

       So let’s make it really tough on ourselves.  Let us insist that a given prophecy reveal details of time and place, and that it must describe accompanying events of history, with names and characteristics of any specifically involved personalities--so if anyone claims that this kind of fulfilled prophecy is still just a coincidence or has come about by chance would seem to any fair-minded person as the desperate argument of a threatened soul.

 

       That's why pagan prophesies of old always limited their predictions to one or two specifics expressed in the most general and ambiguous terms.  In the entire span of human history, there is not a single example of future predictions expressed in unmistakeable language and recognizable detail that was ever fulfilled.  Major world religions in their sacred books may make claims for pretended miracles, but none of these‑‑or indeed any other religious writing in the entire history of the world‑‑has ever dared to frame detailed prophesies naming names, setting out time periods and geographical locations.  No other book, that is, except the Holy Bible!

 

       Let me give you a strong example of what I'm talking about.  The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, contains some 333 prophesies detailing the coming and fututue Messiah‑‑details such as where He would be born, His geneological lineage, His travels, life, struggles, rejection, death, resurrection and so on.  What are the odds that all these details would all fully fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth?  In other words, based strictly on the laws of probability, what are the chances that one man would completely meet every single detail of his life in these 333 details? 

 

       For example--at the dawning of the First Century A.D., there were about 1,300 towns and cities throughout Israel.  So, according to the laws of probability, the odds of Jesus being born in Bethlehem was one in thirteen hundred.  And to be true to the record, Bethlehem back in those days was just a village of a few hundred souls while most of the other towns and cities had thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of residents.  So the real odds against Jesus being born in Bethlehem was a lot greater than just one in thirteen hundred. 

 

       But for the sake of this experiment, let’s load the dice against against our own argument--instead of just one chance out of 1,300 hundred against Jesus being born in Bethlehem, let's reduce that to a ridiculous even up chance, that is just one out of two.  And let's use the same 50‑50 chance ratio for every other prophetic detail concering the Messiah, though of course they're astronomically greater.  I mean signs like His being born of a virgin mother, being raised in Nazareth, being from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of King David, from a humble family, that He would be called a Nazarene, carry name Jesuah or in the Greek “Jesus,” have His hands and feet pierced, would not rot in the grave but would be resurrected--and on and on for 333 details. 

 

       And let's prejudice our case even more.  Let’s reduce the number of Old testament prophesies about the Messiah to just fifty instead of the actual number of 333 prophesies.  What do you think is the mathematical probability of just those fifty prophesies being fulfilled by Jesus due to chance alone?  You don't have to use your calculators, I already have the answer.  The chances of those 50 prophesies being fulfilled by Jesus due to chance alone is--are you ready?--less than one out of one followed by fifteen zeroes.  That is, one chance out of one‑thousand trillion!

 

       And if that's not enough, let me add one more element to these fifty prophecies.  This is the most remarkable prophecy of all, one that is found in the book of Daniel.  This prophecy fixes the exact time when The Messiah would come.  If I can show you how that timetable was foretold and fulfilled, and you consider yourself a reasonable person, won't you have to admit that the probability of all these prophesies being just coincidence is totally preposterous?

 

       So let’s take a look at that prophesy of Daniel now.  It was delivered to Daniel by the angel Gabriel in the year 530 B.C.  Those of you who know the Bible will recall that the Babylonians under the great King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel and carried many of the Jews back to Babylon with them as slaves. 

 

       Daniel was a teenage boy when he was taken away, and he lived many years in babylon as an advisor to the king.  Then Nebuchadnezzar died and his son took the throne, only to lose it--and his head--when the Greeks and Persians conquered Babylon.  But Daniel stayed on and, even as an old man, continued to serve the new king Darius as a Hebrew slave in Babylonian captivity. 

 

       Now Daniel was an old man in his eighties when one day he was reading the Scrolls of Jeremiah and came across these verses in JEREMIAH 25--

 

     "Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Because you have not obeyed My words,  behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' declares the Lord, 'and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.  'Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.  'And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." 

 

       Searching further to see what would happen to the Jews after seventy years, Daniel read in JER.29:10: "For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place."

 

       God's word promised Israel that while Jerusalem would be desolate for seventy years (the Hebrew word Shebiym, derived from the root word meaning seven times 10).  After those 70 years, God promised He would restore His people to the holy city Jerusalem and back to the land of Israel.  Now Daniel knew how long he'd been in Babylon so, with some simple arithmetic, he figured out the seventy years were just about up.  That was really exciting news, so did he throw a party to celebrate?  Not at all, in fact, he did the opposite. 

 

       He stopped eating food, took off his fancy Chaldean clothes and put on itchy sackcloth, smeared his face with ashes and fell on his knees to pray.  He prayed that God would be true to His word and rebuild the Holy City of Jerusalem.  But even while Daniel was praying and confessing his sin and the sins of his Jewish people, the archangel Gabriel appeared. 

 

       Did he come to tell Daniel that God would keep His word about Jerusalem?  Not at all!  Even though God did cause a Jewish remnant to return to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem, He had no need to reassure Daniel about His faithfulness.  However we may be about breaking promises, God Almighty is always true to His word!  Actually, Gabriel didn't come to reassure Daniel, He was sent by God to reveal to Daniel exactly what God planned to do with His Jewish people from that time in Babylon over 400  years before Jesus clear up to the terrible events of the Last Days‑‑those Days, my friends, which we have even now entered in. 

 

       Let me read those verses setting out God's timetable in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9 :24. 

 

       "Seventy sevens have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to restrain the transgression, to seal off sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to close off visions and prophesies, and to anoint the most holy place," Gabriel told Daniel.

 

       "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven units of seven and sixty‑two units of seven; it will be rebuilt again, with streets and moat, even during times of distress.  Then, after sixty‑two units of seven the Messiah will be cut off and have no one, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

 

       First off, what does Gabriel mean by the term "seventy sevens” or “seventy units of seven?"  Some of your Bibles may read "weeks" but the actual Hebrew word used in Chapter 9 is shavu-onim which literally means "units of seven," which is like our use of the word "dozens" for units of twelve or "score" for units of twenty.  so the word shavuonim signifies periods of time in units of seven, and when we multiply it out, seventy times seven, we get 490. 

 

       But 490 what?  Days, weeks, months, years?  The Jews then and even today use a LUNAR calendar based on 360 days to the year, which they adjust by adding an extra month every six years.  But when the word “year” is used for prophecy, it means a strict span of 360 days.  So Daniel understood that Gabriel's seventy shavuonim or seventy sevens signified a period of 490 prophetic years. 

 

       This is a crucial number, my friends‑‑because that number of 490 gives us today, and the Jewish students of the Bible back then, a precise measure for knowing when the Jews could expect their promised Messiah.  Remember, this prophecy by Daniel was written down more than 500 years before the event!

 

       Let’s look again at Daniel 9: 24-26--The time periods given in verses 24‑26 are divided into two parts.  First, there are seven sevens (49 years) given for rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.  This is followed by a period of 62 sevens (or 434 years) from the time that the order is given to rebuild the holy city to the appearance of Messiah the Prince.  what is the starting point of this divine countdown?  it starts with a decree issued to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. 

 

       Please turn with me to the Book of Nehemiah, Chapter 2, verses 5‑8.        "And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.  And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 

 

       "Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;  And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." 

 

       so According to Nehemiah, that written permission was granted in the 20th reigning year of the Persian king Artaxerxes I, in the Hebrew month of Nissan.  Now that happens to be one of the best known dates in ancient history.  The Enyclopedia Brittanica, not exactly a fan of Bible prophecy, tells us that Artaxerxes took the throne in 465 B.C.  Therefore the 20th year of his reign would be 445 B.C.  Since no day is specifically cited, according to Jewish reckoning the date would be given as the first day of the month of Nissan.  if we translate that to the Gregorian calendar used today, we come to the date of March 14, 445 B.C.. 

 

       The Book of Nehemiah describes a series of delays in rebuilding the Jerusalem wall, caused mostly by enemy sieges and attacks.  So the first "seven units of seven," or forty‑nine years prophesied for the "street and the wall to be built again," were literally fulfilled in 396 B.C.

 

       The Roman historian Josephus recorded the troubles the returning Israelites experienced in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.  He wrote, “When the Ammonites and Moabites and Samaritans heard that the building went on apace, they took it heinously, and proceeded to lay snares for them, and to hinder their intentions.  They also slew many of the Jews, and sought how they might destroy Nehemiah himself by hiring foreigners to kill him.  But none of these things could deter Nehemiah from being diligent about the work.” 

 

       Joshephus describes how the workmen wore armor and carried swords at all times, with their shields a few feet away.  Then the historian concludes that after 49 troublesome and agonizing years, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls were completed in the year 396 B.C.--exactly as the angel Gabriel had told Daniel it would be!

      

       The prophesy also said it would be 69 sevens or 483 prophetic Hebrew years that would set the time for the appearance of "Messiah the Prince."   Starting at 445 B.C., since  a Jewish prophetic year is 360 days--we must multiply 360 times 483 years, which gives us 1 7 3 , 8 8 0 days. 

 

Our modern calendar is based on 365 days per year, plus a leap‑year day every four years.  So we need to divide 173,880 divided by 365, which gives us  476.384 years. 

 

       There were 116 leap‑year days, so 116 divided by 365 days per year =0.318 years.  Subtracting 0.318 years from 476.384 years = 476 years, 24 days.  when we Add 476 years, 24 days to March 14, 445 B.C., that brings us to 31 A.D.  But since only one year expired between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D. (there was no year zero) we must add one year more, which gives us to the date of April 6, 32 A.D. 

 

       The most recent Biblical scholarship tells us that April 6, 32 A.D. is the very day Jesus of Nazareth rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as he was proclaimed King of the Jews while the people shouted "Hosanna" and threw palm fronds at his feet.   Soon afterwards, the gospels tell us that Jesus was arrested and crucified, which further fulfilled Daniel's prophesy that after the "sixty‑two sevens, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself" (that is, not killed for any crimes he himself committed), which also fulfills ISAIAH’s prophesy in 53:8 which reads, “And He (the Messiah) was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.”

 

       With such remarkably precise time‑setting, why weren't the Israelites expecting Him en masse, everyone ready to honor His reign and embrace His kingdom?  That’s a good question and I'd like to suggest a few answers.

 

       First, there were no books back then as we know them, but only a relatively few copies of scrolls containing Books of the Old Testament.  With few exceptions, the common people were illiterate and therefore depended on religious leaders, rabbis and priests to read and quote to them what these officials wanted them to know. Hearing, not reading, and brethren, the preaching was very selective.

 

       We know that Jesus never pulled His punches about these religious leaders and the truth of the Scriptures, so most of them were not disposed to feel too kindly toward Him, let alone accept Him as "Messiah the Prince" fulfilling DAN:9:25.  They couldn't even see His signs and wonders, as spectacular as they were, as obvious fulfillments of the Messianic prophecies.  In short, many of the leaders were blinded by their own ambitions and prejudices.

 

       Another reason many did not accept Jesus had to do with Israel's historical status as a conquered nation.  Because Israel was living under the iron heel of Roman military occupation, their hearts yearned for a mighty "Triumphant Messiah" who would liberate them and restore the nation to its ancient glory.  Instead, they got the carpenter's son from Galilee, gentle, meek, longsuffering and without great wealth. 

 

       Most Old Testament prophecies prophesied the First Coming as the same event as the Second Coming, failing to take into account the two contrasting images of Messiah.  First, He is pictured as the "Suffering Meek Messiah" (in ISAIAH 52, 53; MICAH 5:1‑3; ZECHARIAH 13:10).  Then He becomes the "Triumphant Judging Messiah" described in ISAIAH 9, JOEL 2, AMOS 9, OBADIAH 15‑18, MICAH 4, 5:4‑15, HABAKKUK 3:13, ZEPHANIAH 3:14‑20, ZECHARIAH 9:9‑17, 12:1‑10, 13:1, and MALACHI 4. 

 

       Long before Jesus was born some rabbis did recognize these two contrasting portraits.  The Jewish Talmud (Sukkah 52, a, b) cites ZECH.12:10 as speaking of Messiah as the "pierced One."  and an ancient Yom Kippur prayer, read every year during the synogogue service, refers to Meshiach Tzidkenu (the Messiah our Righteousness) being "wounded for our transgressions." 

       that prayer, called oz m’lifnai b’raisheet reads as follows: “The Messiah our righteousness has turned from us.  We are alarmed, we have no one to justify us.  Our sins and the yoke of our transgressions he bore.  He was bruised for our iniquities.  He carried on his shoulders our sins.  With his stripes we are healed.  Almighty God, hasten the day that he might come to us anew; that we may hear from Mt. Lebanon a second time through the Messiah."

 

       Pre‑Christian era rabbis even gave these two Messiahs two different titles‑‑Moshiach ben Yosef, Messiah Son of Joseph, who would suffer and die; and Moshiach ben David, Messiah Son of David, who would conquer and rule.  Obviously, it was this second, the great military Messiah who triumphs over his enemies, that most appealed to the downtrodden Jews. 

 

       Clearly, Jesus did not fit their preconceived notions of a warrior‑king, rich and powerful, an obviously glorious son of David.  And when Jesus submitted meekly to the cross, after being humiliated, spat upon, beaten mercilessly, and mocked by both Jewish leaders and Romans alike, many Jews thought to themselves, "This cannot be the promised Messiah, for he has brought no peace or power."  They expected political peace, not spiritual grace.  Because of Daniel's timetable, however, Messianic fervor and expectancy continued to grip Jewish leaders and the nation throughout the 1st Century.

 

       A few Scriptures seem to allude to this expectancy.  LUKE 7:18‑23 tells how John the Baptist, who was a learned man, clearly expected Messiah the Prince to show Himself at precisely this time.  Why now?  I suggest it might possibly have been due to Daniel 9:25.  But Jesus did not answer John's disciples directly.  Instead, he answered by describing the signs and wonders He performed, all fulfillments of ISAIAH 35:5, 61:1, and Psalm 2:12, the blind given sight, the deaf hearing, the dumb speaking and the lame leaping. 

 

       Why didn't Jesus mention Daniel's prophesy as pointing to Himself?  I don't know, Scripture doesn't say. But I can suggest a few ideas as to why He never wanted to quote Daniel 9 directly.  Since Daniel's prophesy was evidently known to religiously educated people, Jesus had no need to spell it out.  It may even have seemed self‑serving for Him to do so.  Suppose He had said, "The prophet Daniel prophesied the Messiah would appear such and such a year, well here I am so I must be that One."  Do you think that would have made His case for acceptance?  I doubt it.  In fact, Jesus very rarely spelled out how He was fullfilling Messianic prophesies by citing Book, chapter and verse.  Instead, He lived, taught and fulfilled the prophesies by direct actions, a much more impressive method. 

 

       More to the point, Jesus' first ministry was centered on His work of redemption at the cross, when He shed His blood for all who believed in Him, that He was then--is now--and always will be--the Messiah.  He established His church as a called-out assembly of faith.  He wanted people to trust and believe in Him, not because He claimed fulfillment of prophesies or mathematical computations, but because of what people saw him do and say, the miracles and teachings they heard with their own ears and saw with their own eyes. 

 

       Finally, there’s an important point we need to make.  Let's not forget that a fairly good portion of the Jewish nation actually did accept Jesus as Messiah and Savior.   In fact, the early Church was exclusively Jewish until about 44 A.D. when Peter baptized the first Gentile, the Roman centurion Cornelius.  By the time the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by Titus, and the Jews driven out of the land in 70 A.D., fulfilling DAN.9:26, about ten percent of all the Israelites who went into exile were Jewish believers who composed the great majority of the entire Christian Church at that time.

 

       There are many people today, including many Christians, who scoff at discussions of prophecy and signs of His second coming.  Like those of Noah's day, who saw that poor soul building a boat in the middle of a city with no body of water nearby, many people today look at God's word and His timetable for human history as mere philosophy and religious fable useful for living a good life but not meant to be taken seriously.

 

       But let's be clear about this one thing.  There was a time a few thousand years ago when Christ's first coming was only a prophetic hope.  Now our very calendars testify that the Lord's first appearance has been an historic fact for over 2,000 years.  

 

       Even so, today His second coming has been a prophetic promise and hope for many many hundreds of years, but now the signs and prophetic events signal that the wonderful event will soon be here.  The same Bible that has so faithfully foretold everything in the past will, without the least shred of doubt, prove just as faithful for the future. 

 

       Today, we are witnesses to what is obviously an acceleration of the usual slow pace of history.  The Quickening, some call it.  We have seen world leaders with their arms around one another's shoulders proclaiming a New World Order in conjunction with an alliance of nations resurrected from the Roman Empire's Old World Order,  we've seen the Berlin wall fall to pieces, East and West Germany reunited, the Soviet empire shatter and fragment. Finally, though it will no doubt be a long, drawn‑out and painfully excrutiating process, Israel and its Moslem neighbors appear to be moving inexorably toward that long‑awaited peace treaty we are warned about in Scripture. 

 

       The key to all Bible prophesy is the nation Israel.  Israel is God's timeclock, chosen by Him to fulfill the prophecies and declare the signs that signal the Second appearance on planet earth of Jesus Christ, Lord of Lord and King of Kings.   And this time He’s not coming as the Lamb of God, meek and mild, but He’s coming as the Lion of Judah, to judge and punish a hypocritical, lying, cheating, immoral, wicked world that deserves worse than it gets from a merciful but perfectly just God.  So get ready--Jesus is coming back!  and soon!

 

       Shall we pray?

 

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