Issue 82 Winter 2007
greetings in the wonderful name of Jesus, the only Saviour of the
world. We were richly blessed at our annual Prophecy Conference
at the end of January, which we combined with a Friday night Shabbat
meal & a meeting on Sunday morning. We thank very warmly all
who supported these events by their presence & prayers. This
issue of Trumpet Sounds is sent to you at a very exciting &
challenging time, when the world [and Britain’s] situation is
changing radically & threateningly. It includes Philip Wren's
stimulating & refreshing article on the timescale of Daniel's
prophecy, based on the ideas of Isaac Newton, and has important
reflections on the coming of the Antichrist.
The Laki Eruption 1783
The Democrats at Prayer
The 49 Years
The Laki Eruption 1783 – BBC Horizon 19th January 2007 [PW]
"This said week, and the two prior to it, more poison fell from the sky than words can describe: ash, volcanic hairs, rain full of sulfur and salt peter, all of it mixed with sand. The snouts, nostrils, and feet of livestock grazing or walking on the grass turned bright yellow and raw. All water went tepid and light blue in colour and gravel slides turned grey. All the earth's plants burned, withered and turned grey, one after another, as the fire increases and neared the settlements."
Rev. Jón Steingrímsson, Fires of the Earth: The Laki Eruption, 1783-1784
The eruptions at the Laki Craters began on 8 June, 1783, and continued for eight months. An estimated 122 megatonnes of sulphur dioxide were released, along with smaller amounts of other gases, from explosive fissures and vents and from lava flows. In Iceland alone, some 9,000 people - about a quarter of the population - were killed. But the massive discharge from beneath the Earth also fumigated many parts of Europe with volcanic gases and airborne particles. One such account from Lincoln published in Gentleman's Magazine, July 1783, reads: "A thick, hot vapour had for several days before filled up the valley... so that both the Sun and Moon appeared like heated brick-bars."
The BBC documentary focused on the affect the eruption had on Britain. Records indicate higher than average death tolls for the period during which the toxic clouds covered the sky. Many thousands of deaths in Britain can be attributed to the Laki eruption, making it one of this country’s worst natural disasters.
What would it be like if not one but many such eruptions were to occur at the same time. The affect will surely be as foreseen by the prophet Joel. "And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” Joel 2:30–31
Isaiah predicts such a disturbance in the earth’s crust before the coming of the Lord.
The earth is broken asunder, The earth is split through, The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard, And it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again. Isaiah 24:19 - 20
This verse in Isaiah implies that just before the Lord returns there will be not just one but many similar eruptions. The earth will shake from the volcanic activity. The ground will tremble and in many places the earth’s crust will split open releasing vast amounts of ash dust and gas, obscuring the sun and reducing daylight. Man who thinks that he has tamed nature will be powerless to halt such a global catastrophe. God sends such judgements for a purpose. The following verse in Joel declares; "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered; Joel 2: 32
The Democrats at Prayer [PW]
On the 4th February 2007 the prayers given at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting were led by Husham Al-Husainy, imam of the Karbalaa Islamic Education Centre, a shiite mosque in Dearborn, Mich. The following is a transcript of his prayer.
“In the name of God the most merciful, the most compassionate. We thank you, God, to bless us among your creations. We thank you, God, to make us as a great nation. We thank you God, to send us your messages through our father Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Muhammad. Through you, God, we unite. So guide us to the right path, the path of the people you bless, not the path of the people you doom. Help us God to liberate and fill this earth with justice and peace and love and equality. And help us to stop the war and violence, and oppression and occupation. Amen”.
It hardly needs to be said whom the imam had in mind as the people God blesses. Christians and Jews come into the second category; they are the ones who are doomed.
The 49 Years [PW]
Context is essential to the understanding of scripture. Yet sometimes a passage becomes so familiar that it is necessary to isolate part of it in order to take an objective look at what it is saying. This is particularly true of the verse below.
“Know, then, and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, to Messiah Ruler, (shall be) seven sevens; and sixty-two sevens; and she will be rebuilt and restored with street and wall, but in troubled times”. Daniel 9:25
The context of the above verse is the prophecy of seventy periods of seven years given to Daniel. This in turn needs to be read in the context of Daniel seeking the interpretation of the prophecies of seventy years conquest, exile and desolation given to Jeremiah. The outworking of Jeremiah’s prophecies cover three overlapping but different periods. The empire of Babylon lasted 70 years (610/9 to 539 BC), the exile of the Jews lasted 70 years (606/5 to 536 BC) and the desolation of the temple lasted 70 years (585 to 515 BC from the destruction of Solomon’s Temple to the dedication of the second Temple). This provides a guide to the understanding of the later prophecy of the seventy sevens.
(Note: to the Jew of Daniel’s time the dividing time into periods of seven years was as natural as thinking in decades is to us. The setting aside of the seventh year as a sabbatical year was part of the law. Lev 25:1-7).
The reason for isolating this verse is that almost universally it has been interpreted in a particular way. In this sentence a period of time is mentioned; seven sevens and sixty two sevens. The seven and sixty two are normally added together to arrive at a period of sixty nine sevens which is one seven short of the seventy sevens referred to at the start of the prophecy. Interpreters then focus on the missing period of seven years. Volumes have been written on the significance of this seventieth seven of Daniel.
A Seventieth Week?
But should we be looking at the seven years, which are not mentioned, or the periods, which are mentioned? And do the periods have to tie in exactly with the 490 years prophesied in the preceding verse? The periods, which are mentioned, are “seven sevens; and sixty two sevens”. Sir Isaac Newton in his study on the book of Daniel concluded that this is a very odd way of describing sixty-nine sevens if that was ever the intention. He being probably the world's greatest ever mathematician could not think of any numbering system which would express a period of sixty-nine sevens in this way.
If sixty nine sevens were in mind, the only justification for dividing the period would be that there was a distinct recognizable division in the history of the period into seven times seven years and sixty two times seven years. However although I have read various attempted explanations none is satisfactory. In reality history does not divide in this way.
Sir Isaac Newton put forward a simple solution to the problem. These periods are not to be added together to create a period of sixty-nine years. They are to be understood as two separate periods. One period will last sixty two times seven years, which equals 434 years. The other will last seven times seven years, which equals 49 years. In his study on Daniel, Sir Isaac shows that even at the time of the exile in Babylon the Jews were expecting two returns to Jerusalem. He saw no reason why this should not be reflected in this prophecy.
The modern Hebrew scriptures support the treating of these as two separate periods. Hebrew fell out of use as spoken language in the period after the Jews were expelled from the land of Israel. In order to preserve the traditionally understood meaning of the scriptures the rabbis added punctuation and vowel points to the text. In this instance they added a punctuation mark between the seven sevens and the sixty-two sevens. This is the equivalent to a semicolon in English punctuation. The punctuation confirms that the Jews understood that two separate periods were in mind.
These two periods, one of 434 years and the other of 49 years, both start with the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Once the period is complete the Messiah the Prince will come.
The 490 Years
The 490 (70x7) years in verse 24 started in 458/7 when Ezra re-established the civil and religious administration of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11 – 26). This administration restored Jerusalem to the status of a city. That period was completed 490 years later in 33/4 AD. We now come to a complication in the interpretation of the significance of this date. The complication lies in there being different opinions as to when Jesus was crucified. Either Jesus was crucified in 34 AD therefore the 490 years was completed in His death on the cross. Or He was crucified in 31 AD which would conform to “in the middle of the week He will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (verse 29). Note: 33/4 AD was a Sabbatical year as was 458/7 BC. Crucifixion at Nisan AD 31 would have put Jesus’ death at the mid point of a Sabbatical year which corresponds to Daniel 9: 27, “in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;”. Jesus brought to an end the need for sacrifice and offering with His death on the cross.
The 434 years
As with the prophecies of Jeremiah we are dealing with separate periods which may overlap but have different start and completion dates. By adopting this approach many problems which lead to the interpretative contortions of other commentators evaporate.
It is widely agreed that the first decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given in 444 BC when Nehemiah received a commission to return and restore Jerusalem. (Note: 444 BC also began a Sabbatical year). Moving forward in time 434 (63x7) years brings us to 10 BC. At first this may seem a meaningless date that has no relationship to the first coming of Christ. But that is the point. The prophecy is not revealing when the Messiah will come. It is stating that the Messiah will not come until a period of 434 years has elapsed.
The purpose is to warn that the Messiah is not to be expected before the completion of this period. It is given to guard against the acceptance of a false claimant to the title. The Father would not reveal the exact time of the birth of His beloved Son. At His birth the Son was vulnerable. The radiance of the Father’s glory was contained within one tiny baby. It is interesting that to this day we do not know the date of Jesus’ birth. There are those who put forward arguments for dating His birth in each year of the decade spanning 10 BC to 1 BC.
The 49 Years
Jesus made clear that He would return. The other part of this prophecy foreshadows the second coming. It states that before He comes again there will be another restoration of Jerusalem. Following the second decree to restore the city there will be a period of 49 years (7x7) before the Messiah comes. This is not to say that the Messiah will come exactly at the end of this period. The Father has not revealed the day or hour.
The period of seven sevens is given before the sixty two sevens due to its having greater significance. There must be a reason for scripture to specify a period before the Messiah will return. The most likely reason is that the prophecy was given as a warning. The book of Daniel warns of two evil people who will cause immense suffering to the Jews. The first of these people is described in Daniel 8 and also 11 verses 21 to 36. We recognise Antiochus Epiphanes as the fulfilment of these prophecies. Antiochus arose during the first period of 434 years.
Therefore it seems likely that the second person of which the prophecies of Daniel warn will arise during the second period of 49 years. The little horn of Daniel 7, and 11: 36 to 45, who utters boastful and blasphemous words and makes desolate, will come. It is important to keep in focus that the later prophecies of Daniel were given primarily to the Jews. Jesus confirmed this when He warned people to flee Jerusalem when this evil man comes.
Did this period start in 1967 when the Jews recovered the old city of Jerusalem? The only decree at that time to re-establish Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel came from the government of Israel - does that count? Previously the UN resolution of 1947 had specifically excluded Jerusalem from Jewish sovereignty. And now it seems inconceivable that the world would ever agree to accept Jewish claims to Jerusalem. In any case to look for another decree would place the return of the Lord too far into the future. I believe it was a divine decree which brought the Jews back to Jerusalem in 1967. The world had become so evil and full of violence that God decided to bring the present age to an end. The years following 1967 have certainly been a time of distress. It has even been necessary to build a wall around Jerusalem. If that was the date of the second restoration of Jerusalem and if this interpretation is correct; we can expect the Antichrist to appear before 2016. We will do well to remain alert and prepared so that we will stand in the evil day that is coming on the world.
One thing [KK]
We live in an age where massive forces compete for our attention - the pace of life is faster & faster, every day we have to make choices because we have only a limited amount of time available to us.
What help & advice does the bible give us on what our priorities should be? A number of texts that speak of 'one thing' give us an idea of God's priorities.
The first is Joshua's conclusion: 'not one thing has failed of all the Lord's promises'. What God has promised provides a sound basis for our priorities.
I can make a promise and fully intend to keep it, but circumstances may change and I am not able to fulfil what I have promised. When God makes a promise, there is never any possibility that He will not deliver. He made a promise to Abraham that took twenty years to fulfil; as he & Sarah were getting older & older, 'he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead but he did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God but was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able to perform'.
Joshua is nearing the end of a momentous life: he had come out of Egypt as a young man - and had been Moses' right hand man during the long years in the wilderness; he was the man chosen by the Lord to succeed Moses and was one of the two who made it to the promised land. He saw the occupation of the land, and after all the turmoils, the rebellions, the ups & downs, of a very eventful life he was able to testify from his experiences - God is faithful to his promises. This means that in making your plans, remember God's faithfulness to his word.
The next 'one thing' is David's heart cry in Psalm 27; 'one thing I seek'; like Joshua he had a very eventful life, of major successes and disastrous defeats. This psalm was written at a time when you would have supposed his mind was on his enemies. He had any number of these. There was Saul who sought his life, Doeg who betrayed him, Ahithophel his best friend who went over to his enemies, the Philistines who wanted revenge on him...yet here it is not his enemies or the danger he was in that was on his mind.
Here we see his heart - and remember he was described as a man after God's own heart. One thing I seek - to dwell in the Lord's house to feast on the Lord's beauty. That was enough for him! What do you go for? What one thing motivates what you do?
We should have our minds always focussed on heavenly things - God judges us not so much by what we achieve but by our motives; what is the desire of our hearts? He may have set his heart on any number of good things - repose, safety, peace. He has set his heart on the pearl of great price. Communion and fellowship with the Lord should be our highest priority.
One master passion in the breast
Like Aaron's serpent swallows up the rest.
The object of his desire is the beauty of the Lord, & as God is spirit His beauty is spiritual and unfading. Like a rainbow His beauty is made up of many individual colours, but all are combined in one harmonious whole. At one time any one aspect may be especially significant to us; His holiness, His majesty, His sovereign power, His grace, His mercy - but the phrase the beauty of the Lord contains the all. As Andrew Gray writes - It never deceives, never fades, never loses its power, never disappoints.
We move into the New Testament for the other priorities. Once a rich young man came running to Jesus and knelt before Him. He was an attractive person, and his question shows one side of him - 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus refers him to part of the Mosaic law; he replies confidently - All these I have observed from my youth. Matt adds at this point 'what lack I yet?'. He was aware that try as he might, he still had no assurance of eternal life.
Jesus looks on him with genuine affection; but He puts his finger on the vital point - 'one thing you lack'. He points to the one thing that is holding him back; not his wealth but his dependence on it! Ask the Lord if there isn't one thing that is keeping you from the Lord's best - some one thing that you must have as well as Jesus - your possessions, your family, your job, anything.
Next we look at the lovely story of Jesus' visit to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Martha is a wonderful example of service to the Lord; when you have an important guest, you naturally want to have everything perfect; as head of the household Martha naturally wants everything to be just so, and she works to make Jesus' visit special for Him.
But it all takes over, and her preparations don't go to plan. We see a glimpse of reality here - this is a real family. In her frustration she sees her sister Mary sitting idly at Jesus' feet. It annoys her that Mary is not helping in the kitchen; she interrupts Jesus' teaching with a complaint about her. Jesus replies with a gentle rebuke; you are anxious and troubled about many things: one thing is needful. Jesus tells her that Mary, in listening to Him, has chosen the one thing that is needed. It is more important to hear what He says than to do things for Him. That is a massive truth for us to learn.
Two final texts tell us the one thing to know, and one thing to do.
The healing of the man blind from birth is one of John's signs of Jesus' claim to be Messiah. As with other healings, this one gets him into trouble because it took place on the sabbath.
The man is called before the temple authorities to explain what has happened to him. They refuse to accept his testimony; according to their reasoning, Jesus was not of God because He did not keep the sabbath. He was a sinner. The man replies with a startling affirmation. 'Whether He is a sinner I do not know; one thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see'.
My spiritual dad used to say; the person who has had an experience of the Lord always has the advantage over one who's only got an argument.
In these days of spiritual doubt and darkness, there never was a greater need for personal testimony - the world is crying out for people with a genuine testimony of what God has done. Thomas Carlyle the great Victorian man of letters once observed to a friend 'what this parish needs is someone who knows God other than by hearsay.' People who can say 'one thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see.'
The last text comes from Philippians; Paul is at the close of an eventful life, in which he had experienced the extremes of persecution & success. The list of his sufferings for the Lord is impressive, unparalleled by any of the servants of God in scripture. From prison in Rome, he writes to comfort the saints at Philippi. It was clearly a church for which he had a great affection; he thanks God whenever he remembers them. He had been responsible for the beginning of it in its prison, when Paul & Silas were delivered by an earthquake.
Unlike most of his other letters there is nothing to correct or rebuke. His conclusion after all that he has been through is 'my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus'. He could testify in this way because God had always met his.
But he also includes a verse in ch 3:13 'one thing I do'; what do you think a man in prison would have in mind at the end of his life? His highest priority must surely have been to be released from prison and end his days in freedom. What we read is quite different.
‘Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus'. As one version reads it 'I reach out to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me'. An example to us all, no matter what our age or circumstances. We forget the past; refuse to be trapped by what has happened, which we can't alter. Don't live in the past, Paul advises us - reach out to what God has for us in the future.
Not one thing has failed, says Joshua
One thing I seek says David
One thing you lack Jesus tells a wealth-obsessed young man
One thing is necessary says Jesus to a distraught Martha
One thing I know, says the man born blind
One thing I do says Paul in prison
A final 'one thing' - that Peter warns us about in his second letter. One thing we must not forget - with the Lord one day is a thousand years. What he is telling us is that God is not like us - and we should not make God in our image. Isaiah tells us that God does not act or think like us.
Where’s your soul? [KK]
Lord Soper the Methodist minister who used to speak on Sunday afternoons at Speakers’ Corner in London [a last bastion of free speech in this country] was once asked - ‘Dr Soper, where’s your soul?' He replied at once ‘where the music is in the organ!'
Tapes or CDs of the meetings can be obtained from KK for £5 [inc postage & packing].
|Trumpet Sounds is sent free to all who request it: we leave it to the Lord to supply our needs.|