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YOU DON'T HAVE TO RUN: HE IS ALWAYS THERE
TILL THE END OF THE AGE:
THEN JUDGMENT LOOMS
Christ the Citadel and the Celestial Regality
OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST
AND THE GOD WHO MADE TIME,
AND SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO WITNESS WHAT IS BEYOND IT,
AND TO MAKE A WAY FREELY OPEN TO HIMSELF
Recently, an Indian friend asked many questions concerning Jesus Christ, the eternal word of God, in whom he had just believed. As we moved from his energetic questioning, topic by topic, it occurred to me that one thing that might help, would be this. Since the Lord went to all the trouble of making a highly fascinating, very clear date prediction for the death date for the Saviour, the Messiah to bear the sin of many, then if he could understand this, he would be proofed against silly claims, without test, made by many who invent religious ideas, combining them with political lusts or fantasies, tribal ones or psychological aspirations. Many want some sort of a prince or messiah or leader: as Spaak of Common Market fame declared it, Give us one to lead, and be he God or devil, we will follow him! That makes the danger clear.
It is as with many a real need: substitutes abound on the part of the deluded and sharpsters alike. The simple fact that the Bible frequently warns against what is PREDICTED to come, not only Christ as Ruler, but antichrist as prelude, seeking indeed as an advanced Hitler or Mao, to rule ALL (not to mention the Islamic terrorist variety), this makes it necessary for all sincere and alert people to CHECK. In this, as in all, the Bible provides more than sufficient evidence. While the entire case of vast (cf. SMR and other multi-volume publications on this site) , this is one pocket to be checked and so we proceed.
With God, it is ALL THE MORE necessary to TEST.
The Bible says: TEST ALL THINGS. It is a signal from the God who made man and HENCE minds, that He is open to test. It is no disrespect to check that it IS God who speaks. The Bible, as shown on this site many times in many fashions, is uniquely open to multiple constant testings, and the death date of the Messiah is both central, pivotal and clear, given hundred
ds of years before it happened. It seemed good to make it very easy to follow, for someone with a foreign language, with English, but not as his native tongue, and with a religion new to him. It may be that the written presentation (which went with an oral one as well) will be helpful to some.
Christ is NEW on the historical scene, but OLD and indeed ETERNAL before His role on earth (Philippians 2), and His ways do NOT CHANGE (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102:28, Habakkuk 3:6). It is He who was and is Lord (Isaiah 45:22-23, Philippians 2:7-10). When God arrived in infant form, therefore, what a transformation, what an education just to consider it! He did not do it lightly or without vast preliminary prediction in many prophets. Indeed, when He DID come, why it was in the FULNESS of times (Galatians 4:4), but far more than that. This NEW thing was timed from of old.
THE NEW TO FULFIL THE OLD: ON TIME
In fact, Daniel in his ninth chapter had predicted from the 6th century B.C., the date of the death of Christ, the Messiah, and His birth had to be according to this. You see this in Daniel 9:24-27, where the divine plan to “finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for the guilt and to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision and to consecrate the Holy of Holies”: will be implemented.
Indeed, he had predicted the length of His ministry as the Messiah (that is, ministry as Sent Saviour), at some 3 and one half years. Further again, priesthood - and Christ was the ultimate priest - required entry level was from 30 years of age; and Christ was about this age when He started (Luke 3:23). It all fits together with history as shown in SMR pp. 886ff., and Highway of Holiness Ch. 4, where a fascinating thing was done. Let us see this new thing, when it was dated by Daniel.
The prophet Daniel had been exiled with many Jews, when Jerusalem fell - indeed a little before that - and rising to prominence through the divine gift of prophecy, possessed in marked degree, and through his godly life, backed by the power of God (without which his career would have been but short!), he learned special features of the Lord’s vast plan. Invented and backed by God, this project of His will moved over history by vision, right to the end of the prophetic period.
Indeed, he was told as he prayed about the 70 year exile which God through Jeremiah (25-26) had predicted for Israel, one close to its end, that there was to be a most important period to come. Had Israel as predicted by the prophet Jeremiah, served a punishment in Babylon, exiled from their own land, for 70 years ? NOW this figure would be used as a basis for instruction on the very plans of God.
Now, it was not a span 70 years, as for that exile of Israel in Babylon, but of 70 times 7. The historical period in view would turn from being 70 times 1 to 70 times 7. This use of the exile (from which they were returned through Cyrus as foretold by name - Isaiah 44-45), shows the wisdom of God who speaks, and it is done, whether in creation or in regeneration of the human heart, as shown in II Corinthians 4:6, I John 5:11ff.. Thus its 70 years became an arithmetic base for history, an intriguing show.
A starting date for this span of history, had to be given. It would come, God showed Daniel (Daniel 9:24-26) from a command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Its administrative and physical power would be ordered by imperial authority to be restored.
THAT was fulfilled in the royal command of Artaxerxes, ruler of the ancient Persian Empire which was to come. THIS command is noted in Ezra 7:18,25-26, and it is dated at 458 B.C.. Here was the start of this vast period which focussed prediction of the death of the Messiah. He to be killed, this prince, Messiah, and the results would be colossal. No more could there be any defence, sanctity to the temple, whose Lord was slain: indeed city and temple were to be (as they were) destroyed and wars would continue. Evidently, the Messiah held the very power and place of God, and His removal lost all 9:27) Further, sacrifice would cease, for the ONE SACRIFICE that mattered had now been made!. It would cease, first in its point and then at all, with the loss of the temple. Such was the prediction; such was history to be at and following AD 70.
We have seen the starting date for the seventy sevens, and the result of the rejection of the Messiah. How did this date come ? It is found in Daniel 9:26. The seven-year periods are divided into section. First there is one of 7 of them, and then one of 62, totalling 69 of the sevens, or 483 years in all.
It was AFTER 69 of the sevens, that something happened. What was this ? It is found in 9:26: “Messiah shall be cut off, and there is nothing for Him.” That is a literal translation. E. J. Young, of Westminster Theological Seminary in my day, sets it out in this way: Nothing that belonged and was fitting for Him was given to Him. Instead the guilt of sin was all He obtained as He bore it.
He was CUT OFF. King ? so crucify Him. Prince ? so mock Him. Sent ? so give Him a good send-off from this world! The people laughed at Him: Let Him come down from the Cross, let God deliver Him, since He delighted in Him! But THIS was the sacrifice planned as in Isaiah 52-53. It helps Christians to realise that sometimes the worst done to and against them, the worst mockery, is part of their testimony, to have the half-witted nonsense vomited onto them, so that it might fall off, a picture of the wicked hearts of those who are dead in sins. Sometimes we must suffer in order to show the love of God, just as Christ did to take the sins of all who would come to Him. Love drives all of this.
So the Messiah was cut off, the most important person in the history of man on earth, the One anointed to bring history to its conclusion; and it was after 69 sevens. HOW LONG after that ?
Half-way through the next and last seven, sacrifice would be finished. HOW ? We have been following the central figure, the Messiah: there is one seven left, and in this, in its midst, He ends the sacrifice. Who else could do that ? Was it not ordered by God ? Yes it was, but what was ALSO ordered by God was this, that the Messiah would replace animal sacrifice, as in Isaiah 52-53, and 66:1-4. WHEN ? Why of course when HE DIED, to end sacrifice for sin. What follows ? it is this. The date of the death of the Messiah would therefore be 483 years from the JERUSALEM COMMAND, noted above, PLUS something like half a seven, or some 3 and one half years. Thus we have moved from the Messiah to the people of a coming prince, and then back to the singular, HE, and it is He who makes sacrifice to cease by BEING IT.
Let us calculate. From 458 to 1 A.D. is 458 years. We have to go another 25 years to make up the total of 483, for the 69 sevens. That is A.D. 26. It is another 31/2 years till His death. That makes it around 30 A.D. depending on months. It was then that His death in fact happened in precise fulfilment. From the word given by God to Daniel, 600 years before He acted to have Christ crucified for sin, the Lord who made time, acted like an engineer of history. He showed when that great action would occur. It did. God is always like that. Our very bodies are full of His commands in the DNA (matter does not make commands, it only keeps them). Our salvation is also in terms of His commands. The Lord is King over all the earth, and it is well to trust in Him.
What then have we found. It is this. In the divine authority, God would then bring an end to the daily sacrifices (Daniel 9:27), those set up for Israel. Why ? It was because at that time He was to become THE SACRIFICE in Himself, through His everlasting Word sent to do it (as in Isaiah 48:16, John 1:1, 8:58, Hebrews 1). THEREFORE if more sacrifices were attempted, this would be sin, blindness. Why ? It was because by then, Christ had FULFILLED all that sacrifice meant. First He deleted their need, and then the place for them. HE was the place!
To continue, as Israel did, would become a meaningless chatter, like a car engine which insists on going on for some time, even after you turn off the key. With the crucifixion of Christ, the rest of the prophesied period would become HIS, finishing whenever He should come, at the Father's will, as He made clear (Acts 1:7-8). The last half-seven would become a seven of the length CHRIST, cut off, would decide. Just as God wanted the world to know WHEN Christ would die, so He does NOT desire it to know just when He will return, as in Matthew 24:45ff., and Acts 1:7-8.
Seeking to end the work of God, Israel the nation would find no end till He pleased, whose visit they ruptured: thus the last section of the final seven would last at His pleasure, whether in reference to tens of years, hundreds or more. THEN He would return to rule and at length to judge (Acts 17:31). ]
What however of the period following the cessation of the sacrifices at the death of the Messiah ?
Until that time, the power of God by His Spirit was to be - as it was - accorded to His people to implement His will (Luke 24:49, Matthew 28:19-20). The time of His return would be kept from man, while some would be unfaithful servants, hypocrites. That Return, the Second Coming of Christ, would come as a surprise (as in I Thessalonians 5). Unexpected by many (Matthew 24:36ff., I Thessalonians 5, Acts 1:7-8), it would come as a calamity to their faithlessness. Indeed, when the time for His rule arrived, many would mourn (Revelation 1:7) rather than rejoice. Light has that effect: some who hide in darkness, it dazzles; some it enlightens.
What however was to happen to Israel when it DID continue the sacrifices in the Temple, anyway, because they DID not receive the Messiah, but instead cut Him off ?
Continuing the Temple rites, they fidgeted without saving faith. This rebelliousness continued right up till AD 70, and what happened at that date, when a whole new generation had grown up, children becoming men ? THEN, as they did not heed the warning of Luke 19:42ff., just as Christ had predicted, with mourning sadness, so their treasured temple and city were ruthlessly destroyed by the Roman Empire’s soldiers. Stone from stone (Matthew 24), the temple would be, as it was, taken down. THEY took down the Messiah; God took down their now useless temple.
In fact, this temple was later to be replaced by a Moslem mosque, a mockery of their failure to receive the end of sacrifices with the death of Him who is first and last, Jesus Christ. If Israel as a nation were to INSIST on rejecting the Saviour, then in the very midst of their city of Jerusalem, there would be a mosque of another rebellious people, likewise rejecting the Lord. There it sits to this day, rebuke to their lack of faith in Him as a nation. Other false worship foci mislead more millions in many nations, while this world comes closer and closer to the very sad judgment which earlier met Israel in A.D. 70! (cf. Matthew 24:25ff.). What had struck one nation, judgment where mercy was laughed at, this in effect, would come to strike all peoples. As in Israel then, SOME were saved, so in this world, SOME would be saved; but these would be the exceptions.
THE BEGINNING WITH AN END WHICH TERMINATES SIN, BUT NOT LIFE
The destruction of the Temple in Israel, then, was not the end of a NEW beginning, but the beginning of the COMING END. The next major port of call, after
(1) the world-wide
spread of the Gospel of His atoning death and glorious resurrection,
which thrills every Christian heart, with its account of the body that moved
and was raised from the dead, and
(2) the power of
His Spirit to spread the news
of His divine saving action throughout the world:
it is HIS RETURN.
This waits like an actor, for the call to enter the stage. Jerusalem's recovery by Israel means this is now quite close (Luke 21:24 cf. Zechariah 12 -13). It is here that the celestial regality shines in its full force, for the given date having been for salvation through redemption and vicarious suffering, the return is the restoration to rule (as in Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Psalm 2, 110). The entire coverage of the empires, first to the fourth, however, by the word of God in itself shows that the citadel in Christ, the scope for the word of God to survey and IN DETAIL determine in advance all that will be, so REQUIRING total knowledge, for any one point of deviation would affect many.
There is a saying: Christ was born to die; but this misses much. Born also to DECLARE the name of the Lord IN PERSON, to DEFINE the glory of God as a man, DISTINGUISHING deity from humanity as a human expositor, He used the power of God without restraint (John 3:33-34) to show the world that the format of man, so far from being meaningless or a muddle, is as the Lord in the Bible has declared. The kingdom that will endure, it is His, and the Lamb is the Light (Revelation 21-22).
Man is made in the image of God. Christ, fresh from divine eternity (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45, 102, John 8:58, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 12:10) was born in due course to die for and with sin, even that of all who are His, weeping for the recalcitrant (Matthew 23:37), offering what the knowledgeable and the sharp, the acute and the self-serving among men, NEVER understand: eternal life.
In the end, the empires gone, it is as it is written:
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever” - Revelation 11:15.