By O’Ceallaigh –
I originally wrote this in 2007 at the request of my Niece who was concerned about the Rapture and how it paralleled the Second Coming of Christ. The following is the result of my brief review of the subject. I thought it perhaps would be appropriate now inasmuch as there is a groundswell of hyperactivity zeroing in on September 23 of this year. Don’t be misled. Don’t be deceived. “What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Jesus, The Messiah Mark 13:37)
December 8, 2007
My Dear Niece:
I know it has been sometime since you asked a simple question and I gave you a simple answer regarding the “Rapture” after which I said I would give you a more complete report on the matter “when I have the time.” It seems that I never have the time. “We wrestle, not against flesh and blood…” and I think I know who is keeping me too busy to respond appropriately to one of my favorite nieces.
As I recall the question was “Is the Rapture true according to Scripture?” I answered, “The teaching of the Rapture (as currently being taught) is not scriptural.” That, of course, is an insufficient answer. You deserve more.
There is one caveat that I would set forth: In providing this, I am not trying to make you a proselyte. While I believe, wholeheartedly, in the teachings of the church, I also believe that the church has no ability to save. It is nothing more than a tool in the hand of a loving God for the dissemination of the gospel of Salvation by Grace through Faith, in Christ alone and the message of the three angels of Revelation 14.
In addition, inasmuch as there have been thousands of books written on the subject, I will not be able to address every concern or question that may arise here and would not be surprised if you have additional questions. Please don’t be afraid to ask! You will not embarrass me and neither do I want you to be embarrassed. Remember, the only foolish question is the one that is not asked!
All scripture quoted is from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted.
That being said, let’s begin.
THE RAPTURE, IN BRIEF
In brief, the Rapture, as taught, is the second coming (parusia) of Jesus when He steals in as a thief and snatches away the church. After this there are seven years for those who are “left behind” to get themselves ready for the final appearing and a thousand years of peace. These would include the Jews (because the times of the Gentiles are finally fulfilled). There are many things that happen during these seven years, including, but not limited to, the appearance of the antichrist, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, the re-commencement of the Sacrificial System. (At this point, I have to ask, “Was not the sacrifice of Jesus sufficient?) Notice this text:
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: Hebrews 10: 4,5 KJV
Also, during this period, the antichrist breaks the covenant with the people and destroys the temple and makes war with the remaining saints, etc.
What we want to do is examine some of the background of this theory and some of the textual proof used in an attempt to substantiate the doctrine.
However, I’m not one to begin by refutation. So, we will begin by examining what the Bible, the only rule of faith, teaches about the Parusia, the Second Coming of Christ.
THE PARUSIA, THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
Jesus came the first time as every Christian knows, as a child, born of Mary in Bethlehem. He lived His life in Nazareth until He went to the Jordan River to be Baptized of John the Baptist in 27 AD. (Luke 3:1-22) After that He began His ministry as the Messiah and preached and healed all manner of diseases for three and a half years. Then He was crucified and died for our sins and, accordingly, for our salvation. He then, about 40 days after His resurrection, ascended back into Heaven and began His High Priestly ministry for us. (More about that sometime).
Before he returned, in fact, on the Thursday evening before the Crucifixion, He met with His disciples for the “Last Supper.” In John 14:1-3 He declares His promise to come again.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. KJV
Here Jesus is stating His intent to return to get His disciples and, by extension, all who believe on Him through their teaching. When He was about to ascend back to Heaven, He gathered with the disciples on the mountain top and they again asked Him if He was going to return the Kingdom to Israel at this time. He said that it was not their concern but that they should tarry in Jerusalem and –
“…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 KJV
Then He rose effortlessly into the heavens in the clouds. The disciples were somewhat taken aback and when they came to their senses they looked and saw two angels standing with them. They told them that Jesus would return. Notice HOW they said He would return:
“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:10,11 KJV
What the disciples are told is that Jesus will return in bodily form, He will descend in the clouds and there will be angels with Him.
This appears to be supported by other scripture as well., We’ll look at a few:
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7 KJV
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,” Jude :14 (KJV)
“And prophesy also to these did the seventh from Adam — Enoch — saying, `Lo, the Lord did come in His saintly myriads,” Jude 14 (Young’s Literal Translation)
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (emphases mine) I Thessalonians 4:16,17
So, we see that Jesus will come back in the clouds, angels will be with Him and we will be caught up to meet Him in the air.
It’s just about here that someone says, “Yes, but, He comes as a thief in the night and ‘snatches away’ His church.”
Just a few verses beyond I Thessalonians 4 is this:
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” I Thessalonians 5:1,2
Well, it looks like that’s true, doesn’t it? I would guess that we would have to understand what it means. The question must be asked, “Does this mean that He will come secretly without anyone knowing it?” or does it mean that “He will come unexpectedly at a time when we least expect it?
When does the thief come? He comes when we least expect it. In fact, most thieves case the place or the target and then hit it when they have the least possible chance of being caught. Seldom does he come secretly in that no one knows he was there. In my work in insurance, I handled many burglaries. I can recall no instance when I had a case that was not left in a shambles – ransacked and destroyed.
Notice what Jesus said:
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:42 – 44 KJV
What He’s saying is that the thief comes in to break up the house and that we should watch so that this would not happen.* In further support, we should read just a little further in I Thessalonians 5. Look at verses 3 and 4.
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
I Thessalonians 5:3,4 KJV
Isn’t that surprising? What scripture is saying is that He will come as a thief to those who are in darkness but NOT to those who are NOT in darkness.
Notice Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3:
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:19 – 21 KJV
Supposedly, we as Christians are walking in the light! Therefore, His coming will not be to us as a thief in the night because we have been watching for Him. Matthew 24 again tells us “…as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt 24:37
Well, what was it like in the days of Noah? The next verse tells us the way Jesus saw it!
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe (Noah) entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:38,39
There are a couple of things to notice here. First is that the people before the flood, although steeped in probable debauchery (Genesis 6:5) , were going about living and doing the normal things – eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with any of them. We automatically think of the drinking part as they were all drunks and stumble bums. That is not the context of the scripture.
Then the second thing that is important: Although Noah preached to them 120 years, they chose not to respond – they continued their lives until the flood came and “took them all away.” We must note who it was that the flood took away. What the text says is that it was the people who were ignoring Noah’s preaching, the ones who were eating and drinking and going on with their lives, the ones who refused to enter the Ark that when the flood came, were “taken away.” It is simple logic to comprehend who was left. If the ones on the outside of the Ark were taken away, then it must have been the ones on the inside who were left.
I guess the next question would be “How were they left?” The obvious answer is that they were left alive. The others who refused the safety of the Ark died, or, in other words, were taken away and destroyed by the flood.
With that in mind, we really need to look at Matthew 24 again. This is where Jesus is addressing this same question. This is what He said:
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
A simple observation must be made. Who is taken and who is left? Jesus has just said, “As the days of Noah were, so shall it also be in coming of the Son of Man.” We have looked at that time and discovered that those who did not accept the way of salvation (the Ark) were taken and those in the Ark were left.
In the present case, one is taken and the other left. To be true to what Jesus has set forth for us, we would have to conclude that those who are taken are taken away and those “left behind” are left alive, accepting the salvation offered and stepping into eternity with the Lord at His coming.
There is reinforcement in the last two verses of Matthew 24. Notice:
“The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:50,51 KJV
It seems clear that those who reject Him are in deep trouble. They are not left here to be reclaimed by some extension of salvation or a supposed second chance. That does not appear to be scriptural in any sense of the word.
But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We are still looking at the Parusia or the Second coming of Jesus. We are in need of asking ourselves how it will take place? What will it be like on that day? Let’s look at just a few verses.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)
“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.” (Psalm 50:3)
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thess 4:16 -18)
With just these three we see that when Jesus returns there will be nothing secret about it.
It will be visible.
It will be Audible
It will be Powerful
The dead in Christ will come popping out of the ground
A fiery stream issues before Him.
The elements melt with fervent heat.
All these things will be dissolved.
There won’t be much “left behind.”
Once again I appeal to Matthew 24. Notice what Jesus says about the tribulation:
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Matthew 24:22
Simply reading this text, where are “the elect” during “the tribulation?” It seems quite obvious to conclude that they are here on this earth during that time of great trouble. It is for their sake that the time of the tribulation is shortened.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Matthew 24:23 – 28
Three times in the verses before (4, 5 and 11) Jesus is saying “don’t be deceived” “Take heed that no man deceive you” and many will be deceived. Do you think there will be deceptions at that time? Why, of course there will be. But, He says you don’t have to be deceived – I have told you before. (verse 25 above) It is quite obvious that He wants us to know. Do you remember 1 Thessalonians 5:
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (I Thessalonians 5:4-6)
We really have nothing to fear so long as we do not allow ourselves to be deceived.
Now before we leave the idea of Parusia, there is one more area that must be addressed. That is the Idea of “Caught Up” many times interpreted as “Snatched Away” or “Raptured.”
The word rapture doesn’t occur in scripture, at least as it is used in the present question, and, at least in the KJV. It is a word extrapolated from the phrase “caught up” which appears in I Thessalonians 4:17. You probably remember what that verse says.
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
In this verse it is indeed stated that the saints who are still alive when Jesus returns with all the noise, the shouts, the trumpet, the dead being raised – “will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” The phrase is from the Greek word Harpazo. I’m going to share the definition from the Biblical Lexical in the back of my Bible which is paralleled to Strongs Concordance. Notice what it says:
“To strip, spoil, snatch. Literally to seize upon with force, to rob; differing from klepto, to steal secretly. An open act of violence in contrast to cunning and secret thieving. …(Harpazo) is sometimes generally meaning to forcibly seize upon, to snatch away, or to take to oneself.”
This is indicating exactly what the scripture says. These, the living righteous and the resurrected dead are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Some would say they are “snatched out of Satan’s hand.” He has said “These are mine! They have sinned, some of them have died and they are mine! You can’t have them!” But in Jude verse 9 the Bible says, “Michael, the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses (the dead), durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 9) Simply put, He says, “Tough! I’m not going to argue with you! I’m taking him anyway!”
I would suppose that we should get to the Rapture, although we have actually been talking about it all along.
Notice what Webster’s 9th Collegiate Dictionary says:
- A state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion.
- A mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things.
- An expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion.
It is a simple thing to realize that each of these three definitions, the only three in the 9th Collegiate, are functions that occur between the ears, that is to say, in the mind rather than a physical or even tactical spiritual experience.
In all honesty, I also Googled the current Webster’s and found that the reference included what the word has come to be through either pejoration or amelioration as a matter of perspective. It has been used to refer to the appearing of Christ and “snatching away” of the church long enough so as to be included as a proper use of the word.
We have discussed briefly the idea of the thief, the disappearing of the saints and those who are “Left Behind.” The key to understanding this is from Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24. “As it was in the days of Noah…” Those who were taken, were taken from the living and perished in the waters of the Flood. Those who were left, remained and were safe in the Ark.
Likewise, in Chapter 24, the workers in the field, the mill and the two on the bed – the ones taken were taken to destruction. Remember, in Luke’s account of the same prophetic event, Jesus completes his lesson by saying, “One shall be taken and the other left.” Then the Disciples ask Him point blank, “Where, Lord?” And He tells them, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”
“I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (Luke 17:34 – 37)
In Revelation, the same buffet is pictured:
“And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;…And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 10:17 & 21 KJV)
So it appears clear that those who are not left alive are left dead and their bones are picked clean by the eagles (Greek: Buzzards, Birds of prey). They are not left here to be given another chance to accept the salvation that they have had a lifetime to accept and have chosen to reject. That brings up the Jewish nation, “God’s Chosen People”, but I will save that for another day so I’m not accused of writing a book.
THE GAP OF THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
This is a rather heavy discussion, but critical to the understanding of the thinking of the Rapture, the Tribulation and the antichrist.
THE 7O WEEKS OF DANIEL 9
Verse 24: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:24-27)
That’s the text from the KJV Bible. In it, there’s a lot of stuff and it has been interpreted in many different ways, one of which is that the final week of the 70 is detached and transported to the end of time where the antichrist is involved in making a covenant with God’s people who are “Left Behind” and with desecrating the Temple and stopping the sacrifices after three and a half years. This is a misapplication of Daniel’s prophecy. We’re going to try to let the Bible itself interpret it for us.
First of all, we are dealing with prophecy and all theologians worth their salt understand that a day represents a year in prophetic interpretation. If we can agree on that assumption we are ready to begin.
Gabriel, the angel has come to Daniel to show him the rest of the interpretation of the dream he had in Chapter 8. Gabriel told him much of that interpretation in the latter verses of Chapter 8 but Daniel got sick so Gabriel had to come back to finish his task.
“And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” (Daniel 8:27)
The vision had ended in Chapter 8 with the statement “Unto two thousand three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (8:14) Now, in Chapter 9:24, the angel begins with “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:27)
He’s saying that seventy weeks (day = year / 70 x 7 = 490 years) are set aside for your people, Israel and for your holy city, Jerusalem.
The word determined means “set aside”, “separated from” or “cut off from”. From what? The very thing that Gabriel is there to interpret for Daniel, namely, the vision of chapter 8 that he wasn’t able to complete, the vision of 2300 days. So we have to take 490 years from the main vision leaving 1810 years. (If my math is right) These 490 years are separated from the main vision specifically for Daniel’s people and City, basically, to get their act together as verse 24 indicates: “…to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
A look through Israel’s history tells on them for their constant rebellion toward God. Now God is giving them 490 years to straighten out. There is sooooo much more that can be said here, but, it becomes somewhat irrelevant to the issue of the day. Perhaps we can save that for another day.
What is important now is that we are given a starting point for the beginning of the 70 weeks. That point is in the next verse:
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9:25)
So the start point is “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.”
Remember, Israel has been captive in Babylon for several years now and Daniel has been asking when they would be coming home. Jerusalem lies in ruins and nobody is attempting to fix it. They seem to be destined to die in Babylon. Now, Daniel is told that there will be a decree to build the city again, undoubtedly preparatory to returning there.
In this start date theologians differ. Therein lies a conundrum inasmuch as if you start at the wrong date, you will ultimately end at the wrong date and, consequently, have the interpretation of the prophecy fall apart or, worse yet, be manipulated to “come close” to an hypothesis that “Might” work in explaining the misfit in the prophecy.
There are three main decrees in scripture for the “building “of Jerusalem.
- The first is found in Ezra and was made by Cyrus, King or Persia in his first year. (539 or 536 BCE, there is some discussion on this date)
- The second was made by Artaxerxes in his seventh year (457 BCE)
- The third was by Artaxerxes in his 20th year, or 13 years later in 444BCE.
We must look briefly at each of these to see if they fulfill the requirements of the prophecy. First, the requirements:
- There are subdivisions of the prophecy. The full 70 weeks is divided into three parts.
- 7 weeks; the time allotted to complete the work of restoration (49 years.)
- 62 weeks; reaching to “Messiah, the Prince”
- The 70th week concluding the time “determined for Daniel’s people (the Jewish People) and for Daniel’s “Holy City,” Jerusalem.
- After the second segment, the 62 (three-score and two) weeks, Messiah would be cut off, but not for himself, and, the city would be destroyed by “the people of the prince that shall come.”
- The Covenant will be confirmed by him for one week. In the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.
While there are other things in the text there is one that I would specifically suggest that we remember: that is the word desolation or desolations. Jesus talks about this very thing when He arrives on the scene.
Now, without going into a whole lot of detail, let’s see if the Bible will tell us what we need to know.
First of all, regarding the start time of the 70 week prophecy, we can discount the first decree dated 539 or 536 (one or the other makes no difference since the time line from neither reaches to the Messiah (536 – 483 [49 + 434 = 483 Years] comes to 53 BCE and Jesus was born in 4 BCE and began his ministry as the Messiah in 27 CE or AD) and the additional decree of Darius in 519 BCE for the same reason. It, too falls 32 years short of the entrance of Jesus on the scene and almost 60 years short of the anointing of the Messiah.
The second decree was given to Ezra by King Artaxerxes of Persia in the year 457 B.C. This decree is found in Ezra chapter 7.
The third was given to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes in his 20th year, 445/444 BC.
The “decree” given to Nehemiah, which many bible students use for the beginning date of this prophecy, was more the result of a request by Nehemiah, the King’s cupbearer, to go to Jerusalem to see how the work was progressing, (Nehemiah 2) and to repair a gate that had been burned and to repair breached walls.
Interestingly enough, this was apparently simply an oral agreement between the King and Nehemiah. There is no evidence that there was anything in writing (other than a letter of authority) much less a decree made. In addition, to fit the prophecy, it was to “Restore and to build” which connotes restoration not only of the temple and wall, but the civil structure as well. The purpose of the prophecy was to restore Jerusalem to its former status as the “Capital” city of the Jewish nation, still subject, nevertheless, to the realm of Persia. The time line of this “decree” reaches 483 years from 444 BC to about 40 AD, when nothing historically happened. 40 AD was significantly beyond the entrance of the Messiah on the scene as well. Some of the books suggest that this prophecy “begins in 445/444 BCE and extends 483 years (69 weeks) ending ‘very near’ to the Triumphal Entry of Jesus in the spring of 31 AD. But they miss even that event by several years and that isn’t the event that the prophecy refers to anyway. It states “to Messiah, the Prince” which refers to Jesus and the beginning of His ministry as the Messiah. Notably, at His baptism when the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended on Him and God proclaimed Him as His Beloved Son. The “Annointing!”
Accordingly, it doesn’t seem realistic to use this date as the start point.
The Second decree, however, was given in 457 BC in the fall of the year. This included much more than Nehemiah’s inspection tour and repair job. Notice what it says in part: (you need not read it all, but at least scan it.)
“ 12Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.
13I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
14Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;
15And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,
16And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:
17That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.
18And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.
19The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.
20And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house.
21And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,
22Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
23Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
24Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
25And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.
26And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.” Ezra 7
In scanning the above decree written by Artaxerxes, you readily see that a bunch of people went with Ezra and he had much wealth given him by the King. In addition, he was to reinstate the religion of Israel in Jerusalem and build the streets, Temple and walls and set magistrates and judges to rule and to judge the people according to their laws.
That sounds more like answering the call of the Prophecy, “…to restore and to build” Jerusalem. Well, let’s see if it works:
The decree was made and Ezra went to Jerusalem arriving there in the 5th month after a four month trip, all in the year 457 BCE. Do the math now and you will see that 483 years brings you to 27 AD, adding one year for the “0” year at the transition from BCE to CE or BC to AD. As we have already stated, 27 AD was the year that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan and was anointed by the Holy Spirit, was accepted of God as His Son and began His Messianic ministry.
But Daniel 9:26 says that “And after threescore and two weeks (the beginning of the last week, the 70th week) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.” If you know the story of Jesus in the Gospels, His ministry continued for three and a half years at which time He was arrested and crucified – for Himself? Not at all! NOT for Himself, but for us!
Now its getting interesting, isn’t it? But that’s not all!
Verse 27 says “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: (the last week of the seventy) and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease….”
Jesus died in the middle of the 70th week and the sacrifices ceased.
This is a watershed text. The whole of the interpretation rests here whether we have truth or deception. If truth, we have an entire system of truth which ends in an understanding of the whole of the plan of Salvation and the Parusia, or the 2nd Coming.
The he, we are told, in the 27th verse is said to be the antichrist. But the antichrist appears at the end of time! Therefore, this last week in the prophecy of Daniel 9 MUST be subjected to a “Gap Theory” and sent off down to the end of time, thus setting up the need for a Rapture, or a “snatching away” of God’s people (the church) before the Tribulation or the “Abomination that maketh desolate.”
However, looking at the verses above, there are four nouns in the verses: The Commandment; The Messiah; The People; and The City. Who or what does the pronoun “he” modify?
The only one that it can modify is the Messiah. It can’t be the city, the people or the commandment! And, it can’t be the prince! The prince is part of the prepositional phrase, “the people of the prince that shall come and destroy the city.” It is only logical, therefore, that “he” is not the prince that shall come. Why? Because the “he” is referring to one of the nouns, not the prepositional phrase, “of the prince.” The only other option is the Messiah! Let’s see if the Bible will tell us.
Once again verse 27 says “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,”
Notice what Paul says in Romans 15:8 “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (the Jews) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:”
So, it was Jesus that was to “confirm the covenant” (promises). It was NOT the antichrist after all!
Remember, Jesus began His Messianic ministry in the fall of 27 AD. He worked among the people for three and a half years (one half of seven, one half of a week). At the end of the three and a half years he was crucified as the sacrifice for us. The “Lamb of God” sacrificed on the Cross. At that very moment, the Curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (the symbolic Throne Room of God) in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So, what’s the significance?
In Israel the Sanctuary was the place where sacrifices were made to expunge sin from the people. They, if they sinned, would bring a lamb or other specified animal, bird or produce, and confess their sin and kill the lamb as a sacrifice. But now, Jesus has become that sacrifice by virtue of His sacrifice on the cross. The old legal laws and ordinances requiring the killing of lambs and the like were no longer needed because the true sacrifice had been made. (Note Hebrews 10:1-4)
1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
You see here that these people were always relying on the Messiah rather than bulls and goats! The animals were only a symbol of what was coming – Jesus the Paschal Lamb.
You probably remember the story of the Exodus when the last plague was about to fall on Egypt and Moses told the people to put blood on the doorpost. That was the “Passover” and the blood of the lamb would protect them from the destroying Angel. Such is the case with Jesus. The very weekend that He died on the Cross was the Passover weekend that year and the Priests and rulers of the nation hurried to get the body of Jesus off the Cross so they could go home and worship God and observe the Passover, one of the highest holy days of the year.
One more point – It was approaching the time of the evening sacrifice that He cried out “It is finished” and “gave up the Ghost.”
In summery, the 70 weeks were fulfilled to the very time of the year, the spring of the year – 31/2 years after His ministry began as the Messiah. Better than that, the sacrifice was made on the very weekend of the annual Passover feast. Even better than that, it occurred at or very close to the hour of the evening oblation or sacrifice as the sun was about to set!
I do not, in all good conscience, wish to guess at some other interpretation that falls “About or near, or perhaps close to” another event that has little, if anything to do with Jesus’ ministry as the Messiah. What we have seen is a perfect fulfillment of the 70 Weeks, thus far!
However, the prophecy said “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people…” There are still three and a half days of the seventieth week left! What about them?
In Acts chapter 1, Jesus is about to say good bye to the disciples and ascend into the clouds with the angels to return to Heaven. This is commonly called the Ascension. He tells them to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Notice Acts 1:8:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Notice the progression of the instruction: first they were to witness in Jerusalem, obviously to the Jews, Daniel’s people. Then they were to go into Judea and witness, again to the Jews. After Judea, they were to go to Samaria and witness to the Samaritans who were descendants of the Jews from the 10 Tribes of the Northern Kingdom commonly called Israel, as opposed to Judea. From there, they were to go into all the world. Well, that’s where you and I, the Gentiles, live and lived.
Interestingly enough, that is exactly what they did.
The first deacon, Stephen, was hauled in before the Sanhedrin under arrest for preaching the Gospel of Christ. He, after presenting his case was taken outside the city and stoned. Standing there and consenting to the procedure was a young man named Saul of Tarsus. After that episode, he was sent to Damascus to retrieve more of these Christians! And bring them back to Jerusalem for trial and probable execution. On the way he met Jesus on the road and was blinded. Saul, who became Paul. became the apostle to the Gentiles! It was 34 AD. “ Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people.” This was the end of the Seventy Weeks.
A Gap for the seventieth week? Hardly. Any Gap has to be manufactured and it still doesn’t fit the prophecy. When we’re dealing with eternal things, it had better work out according to scripture without supposition and guessing! If it does not, we need to look further!
I’m not sure I have made it clear, but when the gap theory is discounted, the whole system that builds to the Rapture falls apart like a house of cards. We find the Parusia is a Beautiful, audible, powerful visible coming to take us to the place He has prepared for us.
The enemy, however is a deceiver and his whole system of “religion” is based on deception. That’s why the first angel in Revelation 14:7 says, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” He would not have to have said that if all were worshipping the true God already. The sad reality is that they are not. They have been deceived into “worshipping” another called God or perhaps “Jesus” but it is a false Christ (Messiah) of whom Jesus warned us in Matthew 24.
There is good news, however! God still loves us and calls His people out of Babylon.
The last text for this dissertation! Revelation 18:1 – 4
1″And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
2″And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
3″For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
4″And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people.”
That tells me that some of HIS people are still in Babylon, whatever or wherever that is. Maybe we’ll talk about that later.
I sincerely hope I have neither bored you nor burdened you. If I have, it has only been because of my burden for you and all others who are really seeking.
Love to all
* Most emphases are mine for the obvious purpose of emphasis.