Tag Archives: John MacArthur

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #2

One of Clarence Larkin's (1850-1924) memorable charts illustrating how to interpret the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 from a dispensationalist perspective.

One of Clarence Larkin’s (1850-1924) memorable charts illustrating how to interpret the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 from a dispensationalist perspective. Clarence Larkin’s charts were some of the most influential teaching tools in evangelical churches throughout the bulk of the 20th century (click on it for more detail — source clarencelarkincharts.com)

Here we take a closer look at Daniel 9:24-27, in this season of Advent, as we dig a little deeper into this famous prophecy of “Seventy Weeks.” I am surely no “Yoda” (read the first post in this series to get what I am saying), but let me guide you with some things to think about, and then point you towards other resources on the Internet that I think you will find helpful. First, let us read our text again, as it has a lot packed in here:

“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. Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuildJerusalem 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. 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. 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, NIV 2011).

 

Scratching your head a bit? Well, let’s start digging!

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Daniel’s Seventy Weeks #1

The angel Gabriel, from a 10 century icon, spoke to Daniel, with a mysterious vision of "Seventy Weeks." (credit: Uncut Mountain Supply)

The angel Gabriel, from a 10 century icon, spoke to Daniel, with a mysterious vision of “Seventy Weeks,” in Daniel 9:24-27 , that many say speaks of the coming time of the Christ (credit: Uncut Mountain Supply).

The season of Advent is a time when Christians look forward to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, in the period we celebrate at Christmas. Part of that time of preparation is spent considering Old Testament prophecy that looks forward to the coming of this Messiah. This Advent season, I want to tackle one of the more controversial passages of the Bible, that many say points hundreds of years in advance, with incredible accuracy, to the time of Jesus, the so-called “Seventy Weeks” prophecy of Daniel 9. Though not directly a “Christmas prophecy,” per se, nevertheless, some Christians believe that the “Seventy Weeks” of Daniel 9 is the most important prophecy about Jesus in the Bible. Have you ever heard of that before?

In churches that emphasize teaching on the “End Times,” the topic of Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” gets talked about a lot. On the other hand, there are other churches that tend to steer clear away from the “Seventy Weeks.” There is a good reason for all of this: Daniel 9 is loaded with mystery.

The “Seventy Weeks” prophecy in Daniel 9 is a significant, yet difficult, part of the Bible to  grasp. Throughout my life as a Christian, I have heard plenty about the “Seventy Weeks,” but to be honest, my eyes have tended to glaze over whenever someone starts to explain it. But over the past couple of years, or so, I finally decided that I needed to make a concerted effort to grasp what the fuss was all about.

I must warn you: This gets complicated. Like with any investment in something worthwhile, there is great reward, though it does require a good degree of concentration. Nevertheless, despite the challenges, it really is an amazing passage of the Bible.

I will try not to get too technical, but I would suggest that you grab a chair, pour yourself a beverage, and keep your thinking cap handy, as we embark on this series….
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So, When is a Day Not a Day?

For most of church history, Christians have generally considered the “days” of Genesis 1 to be normal, 24-hour periods. There was no serious challenge to this view until the age of modern science. But this does not mean that the “24-hour” view of the Genesis 1 “days” has always been held universally. There have been notable exceptions, namely from the 5th century Saint Augustine.

Nevertheless, there are some Christians today who make the argument that the six “days” of Genesis 1 must always mean “24-hours” each. Let me say up front that I stand with Saint Augustine on this one, that the exact meaning of the six “days” of Genesis is difficult to determine. Are they 24-hour periods or could they simply be long, indeterminate lengths of time? Saint Augustine did not know for sure, and neither do I. Saint Augustine was a lot smarter than I am, and he lived a long time before me, so I will put my lot in with him.

However, I do get greatly concerned when some insist that their view of a “24-hour” day is the only faithful way of reading the six “days” of Biblical Creation. This implies that the “24-hour” day view should be some test for Christian orthodoxy.  Anything that wavers from this is a compromise of Biblical authority. Thankfully, not everyone in the “Young Earth Creationist” camp takes this kind of rigid approach. But for those who do, this way of thinking is very harmful to the unity and testimony of the Body of Christ. So I would like to tackle one of the primary arguments used to defend this position, acknowledging that not everyone goes to such extremes with it.

But before I launch into that, it might be helpful to view the latest “Table Talk” session I had with our lead pastor, Travis Simone, during our Summer Bible Study series on Genesis 1-11. Notice how Travis makes the point that getting caught up in the details of how God created the world takes our focus away from the more important details pertinent to the Gospel. It is so easy to stumble over things like the exact meaning of”days,” that miss the main point of Genesis 1, namely that the God of the Bible is the Creator and that we as humans are created in His image:


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Lectio Divina: Spiritual Formation #3

Imagination. Is there such a thing as a godly imagination in the life of a believer in Christ?

Lectio divina: An ancient spiritual discipline of “divine reading” of Holy Scripture that is being revived among evangelicals today. Yet some Christians fear that such practices could be dangerous.

Over the course of my spiritual journey, I have often had trouble reading the Bible. Not only do I find some things difficult to understand from what the text is saying, I also have struggled with something closer to home. Does God still speak through the Bible to people today? Am I trying to read the Bible merely to gain information, or am I reading it to try to meet with God in a personal relationship?

It has been said that the ultimate objective of reading Scripture is not simply to know the Word of God. Instead, it is to get to know the God of the Word, to move beyond the Sacred Page to have an encounter with the supreme Author of the text.

Yet for some Christians, there is a danger associated with moving beyond the Sacred Page. There is a temptation, critics argue, even for Christians to view the reading of Scripture as some sort of talisman, a type of magic book where merely reading the words of the text will somehow subconsciously restore our soul. The imagination of the reader can easily get caught up in inventing one’s own private, personal interpretation, thereby introducing confusion between understanding our own thoughts and wishes and desires with God’s supreme and objective revelation that calls us to face reality.

The critics are right to have their concerns. I have sat through innumerable Bible studies where people have brought forward a cacophony of opinions of “what the Bible says and means to me.” I even have known people who simply opened up to some random page of the Bible, put their finger somewhere into the page, and then read that verse believing that God might speak to them through that verse. I remember opening up my Bible once to Genesis 41:46. There I read that “Joseph served in Pharoah’s court.” As I was struggling with my tennis game at the time, I could have easily mistaken the words of Scripture as God’s way of coaching me on my backhand, but I sincerely doubt that this would have been the proper use of Scripture!

These are some of the issues that we can encounter when we think about spiritual formation, particularly in terms of developing spiritual disciplines focusing around Scripture. One of the classic spiritual disciplines in this area is something called lectio divina. Some might even call lectio divina … dangerous…
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Podcasts for the Thinking Christian

Plumb LineJohn’ s recent post on William Lane Craig’s Defender Series of podcasts brought to mind that I should update my list of recommended podcasts for the thinking Christian (here is an earlier list John and I have discussed).  I do not have the time to read books as much as I would like, but the marvel of MP3 players is that I can download audio files and listen to them while I work in the yard or drive to and from work.

John’s suggestion of William Lane Craig as the “graduate school” for the next step following after Dick Woodward’s Mini Bible College is very appropriate. Dick was an amazing teacher who continues to impact the world through his unique ability to “put things on the bottom shelf” for people by exploring the basic contours of the Bible. Dr. Craig then makes it more in-depth in terms of helping you grasp and develop your own understanding of God (theology) founded on Scripture and then applied in terms of being able to offer a rational defense of the Christian faith (apologetics).

But just as there are fine and different academic graduate schools out there, there are different “graduate school” approaches to theology and apologetics. For example, Dr. Craig is probably one of the leading Christian apologists alive today, such that atheist Richard Dawkins awkwardly still refuses to debate him. But Dr. Craig is known for his “Middle Knowledge” approach to the issue of God’s sovereignty vs. free will. He is also known for his classical/evidentialist approach to apologetics.  Without digging too much into those things right now, let me just say that not everybody is totally with Dr. Craig on these issues. But, PLEASE, do not let that dissuade you from digging into William Lane Craig! He is awesome! It is just important to know that there are other approaches that Christians take to these issues. You might want to check out some of the other podcast resources available to get a flavor of what is out there. So here we go!

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