Sunday, January 17, 2016

Seventy Years of Captivity

Why did God, through Jeremiah, decree 70 years of Babylonian captivity for His people, as Daniel learned in Daniel 9:2?

According to Leviticus 26:34, 35 and 2 Chronicles 36:21, the length of the captivity was to allow the land to enjoy all the sabbath-rest years it had not been allowed during Israel’s years of apostasy.

How many years of apostasy would it take to miss 70 sabbath-rest years? Every seventh year was to be a rest year for the land (Leviticus 25:4). In addition, on every 50th year (Leviticus 25:10, 11), called the jubilee, the land was to rest as well. That 50th year was actually the first year of the next 49-year cycle.

With 8 sabbath-rest years (7 sabbatical years plus 1 jubilee year) to be observed for every jubilee cycle of 49 years, it would mathematically take at least 8.75 jubilee cycles, or 428.75 years, to accumulate 70 sabbath-rest years. The period of apostasy would have to be fewer than 434.875 years (which is 8.875 jubilee cycles), because that would produce 71 sabbath-rest years. So for them to have missed exactly 70 Sabbath-rest years, their period of apostasy had to last somewhere in the range from 429 to 434 years.

Do we have a record of how many years of apostasy God’s people experienced? We do. In Ezekiel 4:4-6, the prophet was told to lie on his left side and bear the iniquity of the house of Israel 390 days. Then he was to lie on his right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days. “For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity” (v. 5). “I have appointed thee each day for a year” (v. 6). Thus the total period of the iniquity of Israel and Judah combined was 430 years. That would have resulted in exactly 70 sabbath-rest years that they ignored. Those untaken years of rest were now to be given to the land. God’s people would be exiled to Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10).

This can be calculated in more than one way. For example, the ratio of Sabbath-rest years to regular years (8 to 49) is 1 to 6.125. Apply that ratio to the 430 years and round it to the nearest whole year:  430 ÷ 6.125 = 70.2 = 70 years.

Another way is to see the 8 sabbath-rest years per 49-year jubilee cycle as 16.3265306% of the time. The formula would then look like this:  430 x 0.163265306 = 70.2 = 70 years.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Early Medo-Persian Bible Chronology

The seventy years predicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; Jeremiah 29:10) for the Babylonian captivity of the Jews extended from the taking of the first Jewish captives in 605 B.C. until 536 B.C. when the first group of Jews returned to Jerusalem. The Jews used inclusive reckoning, meaning that they included both the beginning and ending years in their count. It looks like Cyrus made his decree (Ezra 1:1-3) just before the close of his first year of reign according to the Jewish civil calendar. The earliest the Jews could leave would have been the following spring. Here is a suggested timeline of a few of the final years of Daniel's ministry. To keep it fairly simple, I have not defined accession years for Darius or Cyrus, using only the designations found in the Bible.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Place of a Modern Prophet

What is the gift of prophecy?

“If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” Numbers 12:6

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11, 12

A prophet's scope of impact:
  • The writings of some prophets have been nearly universally available (Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul).
  • The availability of some prophetic writings has been limited (1 Chronicles 29:29; Colossians 4:16).
  • Some prophets produced no prophetic writings (Enoch, Elijah, Elisha).
  • Many prophets existed of whom we know little or nothing (1 Samuel 10:5).

What is the difference between a prophet in the Bible and a prophet today?

A modern prophet:
  1. As always, must be tested by the standard of the previous prophetic writings.
    • 1 Corinthians 14:32; Isaiah 8:20
    • Jesus Himself was tested — John 1:45; Luke 24:44
    • Paul was tested — Acts 17:10, 11
  2. Has a limited scope of impact, compared to canonical prophets.
  3. Lacks universal recognition.
    • 1 Corinthians 14:22
  4. Presents no new truths.
      Ecclesiastes 1:9; 3:15
  5. The message of a non-canonical prophet has the same authority as that of canonical prophets.
    • Nathan — 2 Samuel 12
    • Huldah — 2 Chronicles 34:20-28
    • Micaiah — 1 Kings 22

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Established, Strengthened, and Settled

"You know what the three R's are," I recently asked a student.

"Sure," she replied, "Reading, Writing, and Rather not do it!"

Well, in true education, the Christian life, we have what I call the three S's.

"Stablish, Strengthen, Settle." 1 Peter 5:10

Established, Strengthened, and Settled. This three-word expression is used in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 546. The context has to do with our need to be thoroughly grounded in the truth. But these words also beautifully summarize the three phases of Christian experience. We are established in Christ at our conversion. Our walk with the Lord is to strengthen that experience. And the final phase, which I call crystallization, is when we have become so settled in Christ that we cannot be moved.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Daniel 11

Interest in Daniel 11 is growing. This includes a desire to understand the last six verses of the chapter. New views have emerged in recent times and Bible students are divided in their interpretations. Having been a part of this discussion for the past few years, and being familiar with the arguments on each side, I have come to the conclusion that the Seventh-day Adventist church was led by God in its early days to a correct understanding of this important prophetic chapter.

Here are some resources that relate to this subject:

The Time of the End (March 2016 presentation that explains Daniel 11:40-45 and more)

Daniel 11:45 and the Middle East Crisis

The Kings of the North and South

The West in Daniel 11

The Eastern Question

A Revitalized Prophecy (July 2015 campmeeting presentation with slides; 50 minutes)

A Revitalized Prophecy (Audio recording of my 2015 campmeeting presentation)

Of Those Who Reinterpret the Prophecies

Daniel's Climaxes