Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Know God, Part Seven: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, "Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding...
A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 
Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler --the Anointed One --comes... After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven..." Daniel 9:21-22,24-27
These "sets of seven" can be interpreted as 7-year periods. The seven sets plus sixty-two sets would give you a total of 69 sets, or a total of 483 years. Gabriel tells Daniel that this is the amount of time that will pass from the command to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One comes. And this is exactly how much time passed between these two events. In 444 B.C., Artaxerxes gave the decree for the Jews to "restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (Dan 9:25, Neh 2:5-8). Then, 483 years later, in 33 A.D., Jesus Christ was crucified, "appearing to have accomplished nothing" as Daniel 9:26 puts it, and then rose from the dead.

But what happened to the 70th set of seven? There is a break in the timeline given in this scripture. Throughout the Bible, when prophecies are given, they almost always have both an immediate application and a future application. Often times, a prophet will speak of the events that are coming soon, and then fast forward to the time of the day of the Lord. This is exactly what happens here. As Gabriel is explaining to Daniel about the command that is about to be given and the time that will pass until their savior comes, he then jumps forward to the end times. The timeline breaks after Christ's death and resurrection, and the church age is inserted. When the church age comes to an end, or the "fullness of the Gentiles" as we discussed in the last post, the timeline will continue and the seventieth set of seven will be fulfilled. This last set of seven is the seven years of the tribulation. And during this time, God will supernaturally preserve and protect Israel, a covenant that will be visible to all after one prophesied event in particular takes place: the war of Gog and Magog. Let's take a look at the detailed account of this future event from Ezekiel 38.
Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: Gog, I am your enemy! I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army... Persia, Ethiopia, and Lybia will join you, too, with all their weapons. Gomer and all its armies will also join you, along with the armies of Beth-togarmah from the distant north, and many others. Ezek. 38:3-6
Notice God says that he will "put hooks in [their] jaws to lead [them] out." It is important to remember that, as always, God is in control. He sets up rulers and tears them down. Just as Christ seemed helpless and hopeless in his death, Israel will appear to be overcome by her enemies and facing certain annihilation. But just as Christ's death was prophesied and necessary, resulting in his resurrection and ultimate salvation of the world, this blow against Israel will only appear to be devastating and hopeless; God is going to dumbfound the world through this incredible plan of redemption for his people.
Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies --a vast and awesome army --will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud. Ezek. 38:7-9
There are some key points from these verses as well as from Daniel that help create a setting for this event to take place: "The ruler will make a treaty with the people for one set of seven." Dan. 9:27 The antichrist is going to set up a peace treaty with Israel, but this will only be the calm before the storm. Israel "will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands." The wars that Israel has been experiencing and the stirrings that are happening in the middle east are the precursor to this time of "peace" that is about to come.
You will say, 'Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence! I will go to those formerly desolate cities that are now filled with people who have returned from exile in many nations. I will capture vast amounts of plunder, for the people are rich with livestock and other possessions now. They think the world revolves around them!' Ezek. 38:11-12
Never before in history has this description of Israel been accurate. The Israel described here is lush, plentiful, full of its own people, and has the eyes of the world focused intently upon it. For the first time in the history of the world, this picture of what Israel will look like before its attack is fully tangible.

So, who's involved in all of this? Bible scholars generally agree that the regions described in these verses are modern day Russia and Iran as well as many of the surrounding countries. The Bible predicts a Russion-Iranian alliance that will come against Israel. Such an alliance would not have been conceivable until recent years. The scriptures indicate that many of the surrounding countries will join in on the attack. Israel will be completely alone. No one will come to her rescue. What about the United States? The Bible doesn't make mention of any other nation, near or far, coming to her aid. Will the U.S. be powerless to help? Will they be able to help but unwilling for political reasons? There's no way of knowing why this country won't step in, but we can be absolutely certain that it won't.

But the events that will ensue will be a wake-up call to Israel and to the world that these are his chosen people, and he will not stand by and watch their destruction:
But this is what the Sovereign Lord says: When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over! In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day. All living things --the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the animals of the field, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people on earth --will quake in terror at my presence. Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth. I will summon the sword against you on all the hills of Israel, says the Sovereign Lord. Your men will turn their swords against each other. I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur! Ezek. 38:17-22
An attack is going to come against Israel, and God is going to supernaturally intervene in a way unlike anything this world has seen since the days of the prophets. There will be no mistaking the hand behind the actions. I encourage you to read all of chapter 38 and also chapter 39 to get a full picture of the brutal destruction that is going to take place. Read and understand that the Lord is going to stand up for his people, and know that he is just as eager and willing to fight for you if you love him and obey his commands.
In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Ezek. 38:23
This verse right here embodies the very reason for the attack, the reason for God's thwarting of it, the reason for every other event that will follow, and the reason why it is vital to study and proclaim these prophecies: to demonstrate God's greatness and holiness, and to make Him known, so that the whole world might know that he is God. And that is my hope in sharing these scriptures with you. It is my prayer that if you are reading this and you do not know the Lord, that you would make a decision now, so that you might avoid the events that are coming. It is my prayer that this blog and others like it would be an available resource for those who reject Christ now and are left behind to face these tribulations, that when they see these events begin to take place, they would remember these warnings and know the purpose of the events happening around them. And it is my prayer that if you are reading this and you do know the Lord, that you would be faithful to share this information with the people in your life, so that no one is left uninformed of the very real consequences that await them should they remain stubborn in their rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord of their life.

It is also my hope and prayer that in learning specifically about this one event, we would remember that the God we serve is not a "Christian" God as we like to think of him. He is the God of the Jews. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The messiah that came is the one that was promised to the Jews. The fact that they failed to recognize him does not diminish or change the fact that he is their God. As believers in Christ, we have been merely grafted into the family.
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes --the Jew first and also the Gentile. Rom. 1:16
We cannot forsake the fact that our God has made some radical promises to the Jewish people and he intends to fulfill them in his perfect time. This is a god who keeps his promises. And this is a god who is violently jealous for his people, the people of Israel. We would do well to not stand against that. This is something to take into consideration as we take part in politics and even economics. Do our actions, our prayers, our words and thoughts stand in biblical unison with the view that God holds for the Jewish people, or do they oppose it? Are we more concerned with being politically correct than biblically correct? And do we consider silence on the matter a valid response? If we are not for him, we are against him. There is no middle ground. A bystander who observes a bully tormenting a victim and does nothing to stop it is just as guilty as the bully himself. We must pray for Israel. And we must bless her in real and tangible ways.
I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. Genesis 12:3
*Previous posts in this series can be found here.

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