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Daniel 9: Humble prayer and explanation of 70 weeks

March 23, 2010 2 comments

After far┬átoo many days, I spent time this morning getting back into reading God’s Word. It was a glass of ice-cold, freshly-brewed tea. When I think of my own struggles walking with God and why it seems so hard for Christians to stay on the path of righteousness, the answer to “why?” is simple: they either neglected or misinterpreted the Bible and got out of fellowship with God. From there, the many other problems surfaced.

This chapter covers events that took place during the reign of Darius, meaning we can close the door on Belshazzar and his Reign of Error. During his study time, Daniel studied the Hebrew prophets. Troubled by the mention of 70 weeks God had previously spoken about to the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel prayed for understanding. He wanted to understand what Jeremiah meant when he wrote “Seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

There are two things I find interesting: One, that Daniel would have access to the writings of the prophets (for some odd reason, I’d always assumed they’d been left behind in Jerusalem). I suspect it was either smuggled or Daniel was able to use his influence to have a copy brought from back home. Or perhaps he’d built up such a stellar reputation that he was able to study the sacred writings without interference.

Second, his prayer. Here’s a prophet who had lots of political power and had no doubt become a respected person with his ability to understand and interpret dreams. As we learned earlier in this book, Daniel’s reputation, both personal and professional, was impeccable. Yet his prayer suggested great humility on his part. His prayer was somewhat of a historical record of Israel’s continued disobedience towards God. He recalled all the blessings and mercies and how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them their own home.

And so, he prayed for God to help him understand the 70 weeks. God sent the angel Gabriel to reveal the interpretation.

In verse 24, Gabriel told Daniel the 70 weeks are meant to complete the transgression of the people, end the sins and to “make reconciliation for iniquity” along with ushering in eternal righteousness, “seal[ing] up the vision and prophecy” and bringing honor to God.

Here’s one chart that “explains” the 70 weeks.

Again, my understanding is from a lay perspective, but it looks like the 70 weeks apply to several future times. One, the return to and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. Two, Jesus’ crucifixion and, three, the end times. Gabriel said the end would be with a flood, and that the Messiah would cause sacrifices and oblation to discontinue. This sounds like something that has not happened yet.

Some say 70 weeks could actually represent hundreds of years. Who knows for sure.

Here’s another chart. Same basic idea, different layout.

Perhaps the next time I read Daniel 9 in a year or so, I’ll have more to add.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981. He had a reassurance of salvation in 1984 and has actually been baptized twice–first in 1981 and then in 1990 for his reassurance of salvation. Whenever Satan tries to remind Richard of his past, Richard gladly likes to tell Satan, “Hey, Satan, don’t you have an eternity in the lake of fire to get ready for?”. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Please, Don't Be Left Behind

March 28, 2009 Leave a comment

By Richard Zowie

Note: This column originally appeared in Saworship.com.

A few years ago I began reading the Left Behind series and soon found myself immersed in it. It took me about six months (my wife, the voracious reader, took much less time), but I was able to go from Left Behind to Glorious Appearing. And then, once they came out, I also read the prequels: The Rising, The Regime and The Rapture.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about End Time prophecies. Soon, the final Left Behind book, Kingdom Come, will be published. Eternally gone are Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia and the false prophet Leon Fortunato. Now, in this final book in the series, we are in the Millennial Kingdom. I’ve often wondered how people who live in the curse-free environment of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ-without having the devil to try to plant corrupt thoughts in their hearts-could possibly decide that they want nothing to do with Jesus or His eternal love. And soon, I’ll find out.

We don’t know when the rapture will take place, but for premillennialists like me, it is imminent. Many theologians and eschatologists tell us that there are no prophecies left to be fulfilled and that the second return of Jesus is the next event on God’s “calendar”. When I look out into the world and see the persecution of Christians in places like China, the Middle East and elsewhere and think of how our government in America is slowly getting more and more hostile toward Christianity, I often find myself thinking of those words spoken in the book of R evelation by the Apostle John: “even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

Assuming the rapture happens in my lifetime (I turned 34 in February), there is a good chance that myself and all other Saworship contributors and staff members will be gone once that moment comes. There’s also a decent chance that this Website might even be read by some left behind. Perhaps some of them may even try to use this site to reach those who are seeking the truth in the Great Tribulation – an event that terrifies me even though I’ll never have to experience it.

Who will be left behind? I suspect there will be four types of people:

The Immediates – Those who were witnessed to, weren’t quite Christians or knew a lot about Christianity but were still undecided in their lives. When the rapture happens, they’ll instantly see-perhaps to a great deal of initial sadness-that their Christian friends had been right. The rapture is the final evidence they’ll need, and as soon as it happens, they receive Christ as their personal savior.

The Open-minded – Those who will eventually get saved, but it takes more evidence of things being fulfilled in scripture and more witnessing. Or perhaps some will be skeptics that God has to further work on. This is the group of people I find myself praying about even now. Deep in their hearts, they might know the right way, but it takes some convincing. However, there lies an underlying problem: the farther along they go without a decision despite all the events of Revelation transpiring (such as the “peace treaty” with Israel, the Two Witnesses, the Trumpet and Vial judgments), the better chance there is of their hearts hardening. A person who chooses not to make a decision for Christ despite all the strong evidence happening around them not only will run out of excuses and opportunities, but they might get to a point where God will give up trying to reach them. They may even be faced with the point-of-no-return decision: accept Christ or take the mark of the Antichrist.

The Hardened – Those who decided before the rapture that they wanted nothing to do with Christ and eternal life. This might be the staunch skeptic who will endlessly try to rationalize every supernatural eschatological event with some scientific theory. It might also be someone who believes in God and knows Revelation is true but has no desire to submit their lives to Him or admit they’re a sinner. It may also be persons who, when they see the rapture take place, might realize to their eternal horror that they have rejected God’s call for salvation so many times that their heart is immovably hardened.

The Ominous – Those who are part of Satan’s final plans and know exactly what’s going on. This might include those who are associated with the soon-to-be Antichrist, along with the False Prophet.

This brings up a question: will the rapture happen in this lifetime?

Some say yes for these reasons:
* No other prophecies have to be fulfilled.

* Man is getting more and more evil, and surely God will soon decide He’s had enough.

* There’s talk of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, a certain sign that Jesus will soon return for His church.

* As bad as the world is, surely we have reached the time yet where things are as spiritually bad as they were in Noah’s time.

Some say no for these reasons:
* There are approximately 3,000 language groups that still don’t have so much as the New Testament in their own language; surely God will tarry until the Gospel has been spread to all parts of the earth.

* God is giving the lost as many opportunities to receive Him as possible.

* All the “signs” that point to Jesus’ soon return mean little considering that time is irrelevant to God. A day is like a thousand years to God, and a thousand years are like a day.

* As bad as the world is, surely we haven’t reached the time yet where things are as spiritually bad as they were in Noah’s time. After all, didn’t Apostle Paul believe that the end of the world would happen in his lifetime of almost two thousand years ago?

What do I think? I don’t know. All I know for sure is that the rapture is imminent. It could happen now (as of the posting of this column, we’re in 2009), as you’re reading this column, or it could happen in the year 9073 -7,064 years into the future. We know that God is very patient and that time means nothing to him. For now, I think the correct thing to do is to not focus too much on waiting for the rapture and instead busy ourselves with the things of God. It’s our job to evangelize and encourage as much as possible and to leave enough of our work behind so that those left behind will have ample reasons to get saved.

This brings up the final question, and one that is perhaps the most asked and debated in eschatology:

Who will the Antichrist be?

In the Left Behind series, the Antichrist is Nicolae Carpathia. He’s the smooth, suave and highly-deceptive Romanian businessman and politician. He has left a long list, void of any paper trails, of people he’s murdered to get to where he is.

I have only one incontrovertible observation about who the Antichrist will be: it’s not me.

Otherwise, I don’t want to look out into the world and speculate. Over the years, countless observers suggested the following: Adolf Hitler, Richard Nixon, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and so on. Jerry B. Jenkins, who co-authored the Left Behind series with Tim LaHaye, made this observation on the Left Behind website: We wouldn’t speculate on who the Antichrist is. Because while we feel Christ could return any day, God, in his mercy could wait one more day, which in his economy of time is a thousand years.”

With that, the Antichrist could already be a young businessman. He could still be in college or high school. Perhaps he’s only a teenager, a toddler or even a newborn.

Or maybe his great-great-great-great-great grandfather is still only a young teenager.

Here are some things about the future Antichrist that I suspect:

* He will be very handsome and athletic. I think he’ll be very robust, around six-feet tall or more and excel at several sports. In our society (and probably in a future society), image is indeed everything. Many women will gravitate toward him.

* He will be extremely intelligent, perhaps fluent in several languages (especially if he’s European, where there are many official state languages). Academics will be easy for him, as would post-graduate work and any type of project he sets his mind to. He might be trained as an attorney or businessman. Or perhaps even as a theologian.

* He will be an excellent public speaker. Words will roll effortlessly off his tongue, whether it’s his native language or a language he just learned a few years prior. He’ll have little or no need for notes when speaking at a lectern, even if it’s under the glaring pressure of speaking on live television in front of billions of people.

* He will be very charming, and he’ll always seem to be in a good, gentle mood (in public, at least). I suspect he will be an excellent “people person.” Once the initial shock of the rapture dies down, he’ll soon emerge as the answer to the world’s tough problems. Even those who receive Christ or are well on their way to that may at first be pulled back by him. Or perhaps they’ll instantly recognize it. The Bible describes Satan as the Angel of Light, and this trait will be shared by the Antichrist as well.

* Finally, he’ll have a monstrous ego like the world has never seen. If his ego were a planet, then the Solar System’s largest planet, Jupiter, by comparison, would be just a tiny one-mile diameter asteroid. Everything is all about him, and heaven help the person who tries to tell him otherwise. Perhaps it won’t be recognized at first because of his manipulative skills, but eventually it will. Whereas one of Jesus’ greatest human attributes was His humility, the Antichrist will do his best to mimic this for his own personal gain. The Antichrist will be convinced that one day he will be in charge of the planet and will be the eternal object of worship. What he doesn’t know, or refuses to acknowledge, is that he’s merely the biggest pawn in the twilight of the final battle between Satan and God.

Where the Antichrist will originate is anyone’s guess. Some people think he’ll come out of Israel or be of Jewish origin-the ultimate counterfeit to the humble Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Perhaps he’ll be European. Maybe even American.

All I know for certain is that I’m thankful that I received Christ 25 years ago and won’t have to be here for the end times. For those who haven’t received Christ yet, I implore you to search Saworship.com to learn more about how you can receive Christ. And for those who might be reading this after the rapture has taken place, please, please, don’t delay in coming to Christ.