The Apostle Paul said:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good… (Romans 13:1-4)
Likewise, Peter said:
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
But this is only when they’re godly right? We don’t have to submit to ungodly authority. After all, rulers are to punish evil and praise good – so whenever they aren’t following the Bible, we don’t have to follow them!
No, you still have to obey the government or you bring judgment on yourself.
Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:2)
Daniel said that God removes kings and sets them up… even tyrants such as Nebuchadnezzar!
He removes kings and sets up kings. (Daniel 2:21)
Jesus told Pilate
“You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11)
And Pilate was a guy who liked to kill Jews in the temple just to show them he could!
Government is a blessing from God. Because without it, things would be a whole lot worse. God also uses government to bring about His judgment. We are to obey our rulers because God said so. We pay taxes out of obedience, because that’s how He made government to run.
He is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (Romans 13:4-6)
Now, if that authority tells you to renounce your faith or be silent, follow the Apostles’ example and keep preaching Christ!
We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to those things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:29-32)
It’s the will of God that we should submit to earthly authority (even though you won’t always agree with the government), putting to silence the talk of foolish people who would otherwise paint us as law breakers.
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people… Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
The Bible says to pray for our governors, not rebel against them…
First of all then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
… that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, Godly and dignified in every way, when we understand the text.
1 Timothy 2 begins:
First of all then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Hang-on now! prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who are in high positions?? So, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Dictators, Governors, Chiefs of State, Cabinet Members, Congress…we’re supposed to pray for them and thank God for them?
Yes. Well, that’s what the Bible says.
Not just because it’s good for us, but especially because it pleases God.
This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
In Jeremiah 29:1-28, Israel had been exiled to the Babylonians because of their sin. But, through the Prophet Jeremiah, God assured them that He would not annihilate them. Rather, they needed to pray for the welfare of their captors, work the land and be successful, be fruitful and multiply their families, and watch out for false teachers in the meantime, who would not be spared judgment.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat of their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
God would indeed deliver His people as He promised He would do.
The Apostle Paul, writing to his servant Timothy, says that same thing still applies:
We are exiles in this world. Pray for those who are of this world, especially rulers, realizing that everyone needs to hear the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We, too, must watch out for false teachers who will not escape the wrath of God – nor will those who follow them.
Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
And, just like He did in Israel, God will save all whom He means to save and lead them to a knowledge of the truth. Not one of His people will be lost!
… when we understand the text.
Following Jesus can be a treacherous path of trying to change the world, as we see it, and running straight into the truth that we are, indeed, the one with the problem. We need deliverance from:
Think about this:
In the beginning of Luke 19 – the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus.
(Raise your hand if you just started to sing “Zaccheaus was a wee little man, a wee little man, a wee little man was he!”)
Jesus is in Jericho and a crowd has gathered. The crooked tax collector Zaccheaus was there. He can’t see over the crowd so he climbs up a tree to see Jesus. In the middle of that crowd – which likely would have included more than a fair share of holy or influential or important or preferred or religious people – Jesus heads right for that tree and calls out to that guy – the one who is a social and religious outcast, ridiculously perched up in the branches – to come on down because Jesus wants to go to that guy’s house for supper.
Huh? How do I explain that to my religious friends?
I mean, honestly.
Of course, everyone in the crowd gets quite indignant, muttering among themselves about how Jesus is now the guest of a sinner. Not only did the guy betray his religion, Zacchaeus has betrayed his people, his nation, colluding with the powers that be for his own gain and oppressing the very people who were supposed to be his people.
Or how about the story of the town harlot of Samaria? The infamous, “Woman at the Well”? (John 4:1-42) The longest conversation recorded of Jesus and one person was with this woman who had five husbands, and was with a guy she wasn’t married too when Jesus approached her.
There is our Jesus, sitting by a well…in forbidden Samaria.
Does anyone else see the humor in this story?
The town slut, (or Ho, Hussy, Loose, Sinner, etc. (as she would be called today) approaches Him.
Isn’t she hopeless and an embarrassment? And openly living in sin, (deep breath)!
Plus, Jesus, as a Jew, was not even supposed to be in Samaria, let alone talk to a woman, for heaven’s sake!!
We hate that woman! Don’t we? We can’t be seen talking to her.
Imagine if Jesus was in our world right now in the flesh, and he heads right over to someone who cooperated with and benefitted from oppression of innocent people, someone who had traded integrity for political power, someone we distrust, someone who we feel is dangerous, someone who stole from people in a socially acceptable and governmentally blessed way, someone who took the very religious or national identity that we cherished and basically stomped all over it for his own gain.
I can think of a few already, but I won’t mention names.
Ugh. We hate that guy.
Don’t we? I mean aren’t we supposed to keep ourselves clean by dissing those who are not living up to our standards as we interpret them?
Would we be murmuring and complaining and wondering about this Teacher who apparently had missed the important parts of the very Law he claims to teach.
Never mind He really came to fulfill the law Himself.
We don’t hang around with people like that, Jesus. (Insert whine)
Don’t you know? Good people wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like that.
Just like we don’t hang around with women who are caught in the act of adultery, or fornication, and….
Get it together, Jesus.
And, hey, news flash, we certainly don’t go to the personal home of a corrupt politician for a bite to eat or the apartment of the town prostitute for a cup of tea.
But Jesus does it anyway.
Jesus seems not to care about our who-is-in and who-is-out line in the sand. He doesn’t seem to care about what we think about all the wrong folks hanging around with him.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law but while also revealing the Love behind the Law, and the inadequacy of it, he came to replace the real love of a real God for their people.
Jesus came because God so loved the world. After all, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in the book of John, it was because God so loved the world that Jesus came to us.
Jesus came, not to condemn the world but to save the world.
…Including the guy we would rather see condemned, to be honest.
How can we miss this?
Now take note of this fact: because of an encounter with Jesus, Zaccheaus turns around gives half of everything away. He is so moved by Jesus, he vows to pay back anyone he has cheated four times the amount he stole.
The Samaritan woman?
Oh, she just became the first woman evangelist telling the whole town about Jesus.
Wild, reckless love for a man who was like no one they ever met.
They both were not just fulfilling the letter of the Law, they were repenting into the heart of Love Himself.
Looks like the presence of Jesus transforms everyone…even those of us who think we have it all together.
Zaccheaus was lost, Jesus sought him out, and in this moment of repentance – which was so much more than just money or position – he’s reoriented to the Kingdom of God. The woman at the well discovered that her bucket could only be filled with Jesus, not a multitude of lost men.
Now that is something to get excited about!
The time is now.
We’d rather another day, another house, another time, another kind of sinner. Don’t bother us with the now.
But today is the day for the wrong guy…or the wrong woman.
It’s perhaps telling, where we see ourselves in that story.
Are we the crowd, resentful and muttering because we think THAT PERSON shouldn’t be included because they aren’t righteous enough or holy enough or good enough or acceptable enough or just enough?
We have our sort of people we want to keep out.
Sure, we’re okay with this kind of sinner being included –but not that kind.
But over and over, Jesus picks the wrong person in our eyes.
He even picks you, and me!
Or perhaps we see ourselves more in the one who everyone else wants to keep out.
“Today, today, today, I’m coming to your house.”
And all we can do is receive Jesus with such joy and relief.
And our own sin – everything that damages us and damages our relationship with God and damages our relationships with one another – is over!
We stop putting God into a box of our own self righteous rules and let Him do what He came to do.
…Love on all of us and see lives transformed.
So we turn everything in our lives upside down and inside out to be with Jesus, to be Him extended to everyone…not just those we think won’t contaminate us.
…To cooperate in making all things right, today.
Romans 12:2 says,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Many Bible websites and apps have said this is one of the most looked up Bible verses on the web. The way it usually gets interpreted is like this: Don’t be like anyone else or who the world wants you to be. Be who God made you to be!
That’s all well and good; but when this verse is taken by itself, “who God made you to be” is typically “who you want to be.” And “God’s will for your life” is really “your will for your life.” After all, God’s will is for you to be happy, right?
God’s will for you is that you would be sanctified, abstain from sexual immorality, control your own body, grow in holiness, and give thanks to God in all circumstances.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Which, by the way, that happens to be Romans 12:1,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Paul previously spent the first 11 chapters of Romans explaining the mercies of God into giving up His Son. Jesus died for us so we are to live for Him – holy and acceptable to God and this is worship.
So you must consider yourselves dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
Present yourselves then to God as those who have been brought from death to life… (Romans 6:13)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
To be holy means to be set apart. Don’t think like the world thinks. Have the mind of Christ. Then we’re able to know God’s will as revealed in His Word, the Bible.
Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Mark 8:33)
“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to teach him?
But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:5)
Being transformed in Christ, we desire to worship God in a way that is good and acceptable and perfect…
… when we understand the text.
Should we invite unbelievers to church?
Sure! Why not? Church should be a place where anyone who comes through the doors will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed!
The Scripture says, “The wages of sin is death! But the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 6:23)
May this message be preached from every pulpit! But, we need to understand unbelievers are not part of the Church.
In Romans 8:9, Paul said:
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.
The church is the Body of Christ. Whoever is not of Christ is not part of His Body.
Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. (Ephesians 5:23)
Don’t let an unbeliever get comfortable. They need to be convicted.
We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Though they’re in the doors, they’re still outside the Church until they repent of their sin and are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus.
And don’t use gimmicks to get them there. What you win them with is what you win them to.
For the one who sows to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)
Not one soul has ever come to Christ through pop music or door prizes. Give them the Word of God.
What’s more important than inviting unbelievers is going to unbelievers.
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
This is evangelism.
How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
But they’ve not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he’s heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14-17)
So yes, invite your unbelieving friend to church; AND take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the rest of the unbelieving world…
… when we understand the text.
What is God’s will for your life? Well the Bible says:
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Not the answer you were looking for?
That’s probably because what you actually want is to have your fortune told.
Many ask about the will of God as though it’s the Christian equivalent of ”wishing upon a star”. When they talk about God’s will for their life, what they’re probably talking about is the hopes and dreams they have and it’s God’s will for them to have him.
But the Bible isn’t going to tell you:
For those kinds of questions, the Bible says wisdom is found in an abundance of counselors.
Where there’s no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
Ephesians 5:15-17 says this:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Now understanding the will of the Lord doesn’t mean what He’s going to reveal to you in a vision or a dream or some false prophet trying to con you. It’s understanding what He’s already revealed in His Word.
Know what the Word of God says and how to apply it, and it will make you wise.
The Bible also says:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
So what is God’s will for your life?
That you praise Him in all circumstances and that you live holy lives in Christ Jesus according to His Word, the Bible…
… when we understand the text.
Colossians 1:15 says that:
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Now, there are many we’ve interpreted, “firstborn of all creation,” to mean that Jesus is the first being created by God.
The Mormons teach He is the literal offspring of “Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother” (also, literally the brother of Satan).
The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is the Archangel Michael.
However, the very next verse says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15-16)
So, since Jesus is the Creator of all things, He Himself cannot be a created being because if He was created, He can’t be the Creator of all things.
Jesus, the Son of God, is eternal and uncaused – one with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God.
John 1:18 says:
No one has ever seen God; the only God who is at the Father’s side (that would be Jesus Christ) He has made Him known.
1 John 5:20 says:
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Paul says in Titus 2;13 that He is our God and Savior.
Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ… (Titus 2:13)
In Isaiah 43:10, God says:
“Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.”
So, Jesus, who is God, is eternal with no beginning and no end from everlasting to everlasting.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. (Psalm 90:2)
So, what does it mean to say Jesus is the firstborn of all creation? It’s just another way of saying that all things belong to Him. The Father has given Him all the rights of a firstborn Son.
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. (John 3:35)
Everything that belongs to God the Father belongs to the Son of God, the true God of the Bible…
… when we understand the text.
It’s often said that because Judaism, Islam, Mormonism and Christianity share a common historical heritage in Abraham, they all worship the same God.
No, they don’t.
While Judaism, Islam and Christianity are all monotheistic, Mormonism is not. Mormons believe in many gods and that they will become gods themselves. They might worship a version of Jesus, but he’s like a bad fiction version. He’s not the Jesus of the Bible.
Separating Christianity from Judaism is a bit different.
Both share the Old Testament and a common ethic, referring to Judeo-Christian values. But where Christianity and Judaism separate is at Christ. Orthodox Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. And He had some pretty harsh words for them:
If God were your father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and you’re will is to do your father’s desires. (John 8:39-47)
So if someone does not know Christ, the son of God, then he is not a worshiper of the true God.
No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)
This also eliminates Islam, since Muslims consider it blasphemy to claim that God has a son.
“O People of the scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and his word which he directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from him. So believe in Allah and his messengers. And do not say “Trinity”; desist, it is better for you. Indeed Allah is but one God. Exalted is he above having a son. (Qur’an 4:171)
However, the Bible tells us that whoever does not have the Son
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:35-36)
Jews, Muslims, and Mormons need to hear the Gospel. No one gets to God except through Jesus Christ.
My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and ht Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
Only those given to Jesus by the Father worship the true God… when we understand the text.
(Many of the Bible stories and verses we think we know, we don’t! When We Understand the Text is an internet-based video ministry committed to righting some of the wrong understanding of scripture, all while advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check out more at WWUTT.com!)
You talk about a collision of conflicting emotions, welcome to Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into His beloved city of Jerusalem.
As you will hear in this PODCAST, all of this emotional turmoil will come to a climax as Jesus paused during His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, gazed longingly at breathtaking panorama, and then suddenly sang this song of lament:
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41-42)
This your day.
The obvious question: What was it about this day that caused Jesus to refer to it with such a pointed specificity?
This was, of course, the day on which Jesus chose to make His return to the Holy City, and thus to trigger all of tumultuous events of His turbulent last week. It was, as you may know, the final Sunday before Passover that year, what we call Palm Sunday. This because the people gathered in their thousands, and waved palm branches all along the route of Jesus’ ride on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem.
I cannot help but to think that the words of Psalm 137 echoed through Jesus’ mind and heart as He rode into the city:
“If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”
Jerusalem: Jesus’ beloved city indeed. Let there be no doubt that Jerusalem was, and is, and ever shall be Jesus’ highest joy. Which makes His weeping — His crying convulsively — over the Holy City on this her day all the more poignant, all the more powerfully emotional.
Now, I need you to focus on one important fact that overshadows this entire week: Jesus’ thoughts were focused like a laser beam on one particular book of the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament): the prophetic book of Daniel. How do I know this? Because on the Tuesday of this final week, a mere 48 hours after this Palm Sunday, Jesus will give to His disciples His grand and glorious Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24 – 25, and rivaled in its beauty and majesty only by the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 – 7.
That signature sermon was delivered on the Mount of the Beatitudes in Galilee. This final sermon or discourse was delivered on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem.
In that discourse, Jesus laid out for His disciples and for us the sweeping panorama of the End Times, and all that will lead up to His glorious return. The so-called Signs of Times.
We will, of course, break it down in allof its majestic splendor when we get to that Tuesday in the coming weeks.
What I need for you to note now is what Jesus said right in the middle of that discourse, the interpretive key both for that sermon and for this moment in His Triumphal Entry:
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel let the reader understand.” (Matthew 24:15)
Note Jesus’ unmistakable reference to Daniel 9:24-27.
Now listen carefully: The Triumphal Entry sets in motion the beginnings of the fulfillment of this great prophecy in Daniel 9, what many call “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.”
Allow me to read to you the prophecy in full, and then we’ll talk about it.
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:24-27)
What does this prophesy have to do with Palm Sunday? More than you might think.
Okay, first let’s talk about the “seventy sevens”. We’re talking about seventy periods of seven years each, equating to 490 years. The Biblical writers, going back to Geneses 1 often thought of time as measured in periods of seven. The Creation Story was recorded to take seven days. In Leviticus 25:3-7, we read about a Sabbath Year
3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. 6 Whatever the land yields during the Sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
And there are so many other examples of the Biblical writers dividing time into eras of seven. Sometimes it was seven days. Sometimes it was seven years. The context always determines which, and the context of Daniel’s prophesy in Daniel 9:24-27 clearly describes seven year periods.
Another thing to understand is that Daniel’s vision in chapter nine is a direct response to his prayer just before the vision he received. You see, the Babylonians had come in and absolutely desolated the land. They destroyed the Temple and left Jerusalem in a pile of rubble. Those who were not sold into slavery or brutally killed by the Babylonians – young men like Daniel – were taken in exile to Babylon. While in Babylon, Daniel happened to be reading Jeremiah’s prophesy that the captivity was to last for 70 years. At this point, Daniel was an elderly man and he did the math, realizing that the 70 years was just about up and the return of the exiles to Jerusalem might be at hand. Then, while Daniel was praying, he had an incredible visitor:
21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision… (Daniel 9:21-23)
This vision is the one described in verses 24-27 and is an overview of the rest of human history, including Daniel’s day to the End of Days, including our day.
Gabriel told Daniel that there would be a defining event, and the occasion of that event will start God’s prophetic clock. And once that clock starts, human history as we know it has 490 years left.
Now, many people look at this and say, “Wait a minute! More than 490 years have come and gone since Daniel’s prophesy. What happened?”
Well, looking at Gabriel’s message, the clock hasn’t started yet:
From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem… (Daniel 9:25)
In other words, there is going to be a decree that Jerusalem and the Temple will be rebuilt. Once that decree is issued, then the clock will start.
Now, historically and as far as lining up with the Biblical text, Dr. Alva McClain seems to make the most sense in his explanation of what this event will be.
This decree was actually recorded in Nehemiah 2:1-9,
In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes…
…The king said to me, “What is it you want?”…
and I answered the king… “send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it…may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
That’s the date of the decree.
Now I’ll spare you all the mathematical computations, but when you factor in the differences between our Gregorian calendar and its leap years with the Jewish lunar calendar, the date of this decree is narrowed down to March 14, 445 BC. That’s when the clock was started, and the 490 year countdown began.
You see, when Gabriel gave Daniel this vision, Gabriel said:
From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (March 14, 445 BC) until the Anointed One, the ruler (Jesus Christ, the Messiah), comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’
That portion of verses 25 and 26 is what makes this unnecessarily complicated. It would have been a lot easier if Gabriel would have simply said, “There will be 69 sets of seven years each, instead of dividing them into a group of seven “sevens” and a separate group of 62 “sevens”.
But, with the benefit of historical records, we can see WHY Gabriel delivered the message in this fashion. You see it took “seven ‘sevens’” or 49 years for Israel to finish restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem after the decree went out on March 14, 445 BC. Now, on top of those 49 years, the prophesy says there would be 434 years (or sixty-two “sevens”) after the Holy City’s completion before the Anointed One would come!
So, let’s rewind just a bit:
Daniel was in exile in Babylon. Jerusalem was destroyed and laid in rubble. Gabriel appeared to him and said that a decree will go out to rebuild and restore the city, it will take 49 years to rebuild it and then 434 years later, the Anointed One, the ruler will come and present Himself as their promised Messiah, totaling 483 years from the decree. Historical records show that this very decree was signed and sent out on March 14, 445 BC.
When we add 483 Jewish Lunar years to that date, we arrive at April 6 of 32 AD. Everything points to this very day being the very first Palm Sunday – the exact day of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem when He formally presented Himself as Messiah to the people of Israel.
This is why He stopped and wept over the city saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
Jesus knew that this was the day that Daniel had told them about. He knew, but he also knew that they were blind to it. He knew that this day they welcomed Him as King, but six days later, they would crucify Him as a criminal. He also knew what was about to befall Israel, as He continued:
43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:43-44)
They should have known the date that Daniel’s vision prophesied, and nearly 40 years later, this prophesy that Jesus told came true as well, when the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and leveled it to the ground.
BUT, there is yet another set of “sevens” mentioned in Daniel’s vision.
What’s up with that?
26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
So, here’s the deal. When the decree went out to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 BC, God started the clock. When Jesus said “It is finished” and died on the cross, God temporarily stopped the clock. And the prophetic clock of Daniel 9 is stopped still, today. And it will remain paused, indefinitely, until God starts it again.
You and I are now living in this great “pause of time”.
This raises an important question: When will God restart the clock?
Because once He does, there will only be seven years left of humanity as we know it.
What we do know is that sometime during this “pause”, there will be an historic event, which you and I should have our eyes and ears peeled for. It’s an event that was never prophesied or mentioned in the Old Testament. It’s unique to the New Testament, so much so that Paul used a very precise word to describe it – a musterion (from which we get our English word “mystery”).
Paul revealed this mystery and many of us today refer to this musterion as The Rapture of the Church.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Then, in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2), he writes that after the Rapture, when all of the Believers are taken away from the planet, a very charismatic leader will rise and do a lot of incredible things real fast. Daniel called this man a ruler. Paul referred to him as a “man of lawlessness”. John described him as the anti-Christ… and the beast.
Jesus was the first ruler Daniel prophesied about, and this antithesis to Jesus is the second ruler to come. Jesus is God incarnate. This man will be Satan incarnate.
This is who Daniel prophesied about in the remainder of his vision:
The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:26-27)
This last verse of this passage (verse 27) is critical. It means that God started His prophetic clock with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, He stopped the clock temporarily with the death of His Son, and He will start it again with the signing of yet another decree – a covenant.
With this covenant, this ruler, this anti-Christ will achieve what, up to this future point of human history has never been achievable. He will accomplish what no other world leader has been able to accomplish. He will negotiate a peace treaty that will bring peace throughout the Middle East, including to Israel and all her neighbors, bringing safety and security to Jews the world over.
This treaty will come with three provisions. And, let me tell you, once these three provisions fall into place, it’s game on!
Here are the three provisions:
The key to this is that the moment this agreement is made, God will start the clock again and humanity will have a precious seven years left.
The Bible calls this seven-year stint the Tribulation because it will be a time of great suffering. However, for the first 3½ years, there will be no tribulation or suffering at all. The earth will see worldwide peace during that time. The anti-Christ will unite the world politically, militarily, economically, and even spiritually under a single religion. It will be worldwide utopia for three-and-a-half years. But then, this will happen:
In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
This “abomination that causes desolation” will be himself. He, himself, will walk into the Holy of Holies, sit upon the Ark of the Covenant in the newly constructed temple and proclaim himself to be almighty god. And, according to Revelation 13:8, the entire world will unite together in the worship of Satan as god.
That’s when what the Bible calls “The Great Tribulation” will begin, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
What is that end? It’s when he will be cast into the lake of fire where he will be tormented day and night forever – the lake of fire that Jesus said, in Matthew 25:41, was prepared for the devil and his angels.
So, halfway through that final seven years, literally all the forces of hell will break out across the earth.
But at the end of that seven year period, this will happen:
Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)
And, according to Philippians 2, this will also happen:
…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)
This will happen all because when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, something did not happen. The people did not recognize the time of God’s coming to them.
Yet, He will return and everyone will recognize Him and every knee will bow before Him.
How I long for that day to happen!
The Apostle John turned out to be quite the lyricist. One could almost sing some of his melodious verses. In fact, many of us have.
As you will hear in this PODCAST, John wasn’t a scholar, not by any stretch of imagination. Quite unlike the Apostle Paul, for example.
John engaged in virtually no complex doctrinal discussions involving the nuances of theology, the kinds of stuff in which Paul reveled.
John’s Greek is so simplistic that 1 John is invariably the first book every 1st-year Greek student translates.
John was a passionate soul, one who wrote far more emotionally than he did academically.
Consequently, John had the uncanny ability to relate to us all on such a visceral level that you get the sense that he understood exactly what it’s like to be us — fragile, fearful, human.
When their paths first crossed, Jesus met a rather unremarkable, uneducated fisherman from the provincial little town of Bethsaida. Yet, by the time Jesus got done with him, John became a prolific author (with one Gospel, three letters, and his magnum opus, the majestic book of Revelation to his literary credit).
John was the only one of the twelve who stayed with Jesus on that fateful day of the crucifixion. So devoted was he to Jesus, that with one of His last, dying breaths, Jesus committed the care of His dearly beloved mom, Mary, to John.
It was John who went from being known as a “Son of Thunder” for his uncontrollable temper, to the “Apostle whom Jesus loved,” as John so referred to himself because he could not get over that fact that Jesus saw in him someone who could be loved.
Among his other glistening credentials, John was for a time the pastor of little family of faith in Ephesus. John was arrested, charged with being a leader of a Christ-following community, sentenced, and subsequently banished to penal colony on island of Patmos.
Separated he now was — by the Aegean Sea — from the people he so loved, his modest little flock in Ephesus. Which explains why, when John was allowed to see the splendors of Heaven, the very first description he wrote was so curiously cryptic to us, but not to him. Just a fragment of a verse that spoke volumes to John: “There was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).
Anyway, John was eventually released from Patmos. He then apparently became reunited with several people from his former congregation in Ephesus.
Much to John’s delight, many of his former flock had continued in his absence to follow Christ faithfully, and to raise their children to follow Christ. This brought John such enormous joy, as you can imagine, that he wrote this in 2 John: “How happy I was to meet some of your children and to find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.”
“To find them living according to the truth.” Nothing brings more joy to a parent’s heart than that.
Likewise, there is nothing that brings to a parent more grief and heartache than to watch his or her child reject the truth they so love, and the God whom they so cherish.
That same anguish of soul floods the heart of every spouse whose husband or wife rejects truth, the family’s faith, the one true God. Just as it does anyone who watches helplessly as a beloved friend, relative, whomever, reject the truth.
The gallons of tears shed. The many sleepless nights spent worrying, agonizing, questioning, praying.
Our unnerving lament, written in a minor key, that invariably results from the knowledge that the thing we hold most dear they ridicule with contemptuous disdain.
The ever-present, nagging thought that perhaps if I had only said more, or said less; tried harder, or didn’t try so hard; or hadn’t succumbed to my own weaknesses and hypocrisies. Maybe then I could have successfully passed onto my children a godly heritage one generation to the next.
And then, of course, there are those self-righteous parents whose own children are thriving in the faith. And they never seem to let you forget that you failed where they succeeded, causing us yet all the more guilt, shame, heartache, and heartbreak.
Just ask the mother of Zacchaeus. She was an admirable woman of simply Jewish faith. We know this because names, in Biblical times, were never chosen casually. No one ever chose a name simply because it sounded “cute”. No, names were chosen out of a parent’s highest aspirations for their children.
So, by naming their son Zacchaeus, it is evident that these particular parents had a deep and abiding Jewish faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
You see, Zacchaeus means “purity born of innocence”. Unlike, say… Mary or John, Zacchaeus was a relatively rare name.
Zacchaeus was evidently raised in Sabbath School and knew his Torah. Yet, he chose to reject the Torah – much, I am sure, to the sorrow of his parents, as he grew up, moved to the “resort town” of Jericho, and worked as a loathed tax collector for the hated and vicious Romans.
We read about Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-2
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
Did you catch that? Zacchaeus was not just a ruthless tax collector… he was Jericho’s CHIEF tax collector!
That’s a long way off from someone who is “purity born of innocence”. You see, when his fellow Jews could not pay their taxes (extortion money, really)… it was common for the chief tax collector to seize their land, their possessions… even their daughters for sex trafficking. He was not just a tax collector, but a pimp.
Which explains the people’s reaction to him in Luke 19:
3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name.“Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. (Luke 19:3-6)
I mean, think about the most disgusting, loathsome person you have ever known. Try to imagine any parent’s greatest fear of the one singular sin that their son or daughter could ever possibly commit… the one trespass that they might pray vehemently that God would protect them against…
THAT SINNER IS THIS GUY, ZACCHAEUS!
Yet, upon seeing Jesus… this guy repented! He sincerely and authentically repented.
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” (Luke 19:8)
Now, as I mentioned earlier, Zacchaeus knew his Torah. Therefore he knew that genuine repentance is so much more than simply saying a “get out of jail” prayer. He knew that it was a complete change of heart that would result in a change of life. He also knew what the Torah says about making things right with those he had cheated.
He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged. (Numbers 5:7)
Under Torah law, restitution is required to the sum of 120%. Yet this man, Zacchaeus was so broken and so aware of the separation that he had caused between himself and God’s will for his life, he volunteered for Jesus – without even being asked – to give away half of his wealth to those in need and to find every person he had robbed and give back to them not 120%, but 400% of the amount he cheated them.
And, undoubtedly, this would result in him losing his job altogether.
This was indeed a changed heart that resulted in a changed life.
Another way to apply this to all of our lives is what we read in James 2:24,
So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. We are not SAVED by our good works. Our good works are merely the RESULTS of us being saved.
And what was the result of Zacchaeus’ repentance?
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:9)
Now, keep this in mind: Zacchaeus’ wrongdoings were perfectly legal under Roman law. But, they completely went against God’s will and His Biblical law. And whenever there might be a conflict between governmental law and Biblical law, Biblical law always trumps governmental law.
But, Luke’s story about the interaction between Zacchaeus and Jesus – in fact the theme of the entire New Testament – didn’t end there.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Jesus sought out Zacchaeus, and quite soon He would die on a cross in order to save Zacchaeus… and all of us as well.
And Jesus is seeking and saving those who are lost still today! He shuns no one. No one is beyond repentance and unredeemable.
I sometimes wonder if Zacchaeus’ parents ever lost hope for their son. But I know that Jesus never did. Just as I know that Jesus never loses hope for anyone who has gone off the rails today in the 21st century. And since Jesus never loses hope, neither should we.