Sir Isaac Newton called it “the foundation stone of the Christian religion,December 22nd, 2009
Sir Isaac Newton called it “the foundation stone of the Christian religion,” this not-so-easy-to-decipher prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. It’s connected, “determined” or “cut off” in biblical terminology, from a much more extensive prophecy in Daniel 8 which includes a symbolic ram, goat, little horn and 2300 prophetic days or literal years. The angel Gabriel had explained to Daniel what the ram, goat and little horn stood for, and informed Daniel that the 2300 days/years would reach “to the time of the end.” Then after Daniel’s extended prayer in chapter 9, Gabriel returned to explain to Daniel how the 2300 year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 would be initiated by a series of events that would occur over a period of 70 sevens, or 70 weeks (a period understood by many Protestant scholars through the centuries as 490 years). It’s this 490-year prophecy that Newton was so excited about.
Daniel 9:25 revealed that this 490-year prophetic period would commence with the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. At the time this prophecy was given (6th century B.C.), Jerusalem lay in ruins and the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. Then in 457 B.C., the third in a series of Persian decrees allowing Jerusalem to be restored was issued, and the 490-year prophecy began to be fulfilled.
Daniel 9:25-26 indicates that 7 prophetic weeks (during which Jerusalem was rebuilt) plus 69 prophetic weeks (which added together computes to 483 prophetic weeks or 483 literal years) after 457 B.C., the Messiah the Prince, that is, God’s anointed One, would come. When that’s figured out mathematically, it works out to 27 A.D. (456½ + 26½ = 483). What is absolutely fascinating about this is that there is only one year in the life of Jesus to which the Bible assigns a date, and that is the year of His baptism, when He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, became the Messiah and began his ministry: according to Luke 3:1, 21-23, this occurred in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, or 27 A.D., exactly as had been prophesied in Daniel’s prophecy given over 500 years earlier!
In Daniel 9:27 the focus shifts to the final seven to fulfill the prophecy. And here the drama intensifies. The focus of that final week is on what happened when Jesus came in the middle of it: “In the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering” (NKJV). Verse 26 adds that “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” Based on the number of annual Passovers Jesus attended after His baptism, scholars near unanimously agree that His ministry lasted for 3½ years (which reaches to the middle of that final prophetic 7 year period), and then He was crucified, “cut off,” “but not for Himself” (because He died not for His own sins of which He had none, but for ours). And His death for us “brought an end to [the animal] sacrifice[s] and offering[s]” which had pointed forward to His death. It all happened just as it had been prophesied. Newton believed that this prophecy, which foretold over 500 years in advance the very time when Jesus would be baptized and crucified for our redemption, was proof positive that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied by the Old Testament.
Cataclysmic consequences for our world resulted when Jesus came in the middle of the final week of that prophecy. But then, cataclysmic consequences always occur when Jesus comes in the middle of anything, or anyone.
Boy—even our Santas are in trouble.December 7th, 2009
Boy—even our Santas are in trouble. At its recent conference in Philadelphia, the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (that really is their name!) declared that their priority this Christmas is not keeping their long white facial growth curly and clean. Their number one concern is H1N1. Come to think of it—that’d be your chief concern and mine, wouldn’t it—given all the little runny-nosed tikes sitting upon your rotund lap and cheerfully coughing and sneezing straight into your cherry-cheeked face! So for this Christmas our department store, WalMart and city mall Santa Clauses have requested that they be given national priority for the swine flu vaccine. And who can counter their logic? “After all, you wouldn’t want us passing on the last kid’s nasty swine flu virus to your little cherub, now would you?”
But then again, maybe it’s not such a bad idea—being contagious at Christmas time. Can you think of a more opportune season for your contagious faith to spread to others—the others at your office Christmas party, or the others next door where you live, or the others you’ll be sitting beside for that plane ride across the country? Turns out Christmas is a glorious time to be contagious for Jesus.
And if you need a Christmas precedent for going contagious over him, how about that eighty-four year old widow prophetess named Anna. “She was very old . . . . [but] she gave thanks to God and spoke about the [Christ] child to all” (Luke 2:36-38). Because when you’re infected with joy over the promised Savior, it’s OK to spread that contagion to all who will listen to you. Just like Anna.
So this Christmas here’s your H1N1 checklist: remember to wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, go easy on the sweets, take along some Kleenex and grab a handful of Happiness Digest’s in our pamphlet racks by the entrances to our church. Don’t go to church at Pioneer? Then stop by your local Christian bookstore and buy some colorful pamphlets that you can contagiously spread all along your way through this joyful holiday. Catching the H1N1 can be deadly. But catching the contagious truth about Jesus will save the life of the one you infect. So go and spread him . . . with “great joy!”