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A POSSIBLE UNDERSTANDING FOR THE YEAR OF THE LORD'S RETURN

by Jacques More

As an Evangelical I firmly believe in the inspiration of scripture and, in the letter of James, the first chapter(1), we are encouraged if we lack wisdom to ask God and He is happy to give to those who ask believing they will receive.

One day, I was considering Daniel Chapter Nine and the seventy weeks mentioned by the angel(2), speaking about the Lord's coming, the Messiah.

Folk interested in prophecy have often realised that the seventy weeks in Daniel stand for seventy times seven because a week in the Hebrew is 'a sevens', 'shabua', and the angel does not mention seventy sevens of days he just mentions 'seventy sevens'. Seventy times seven makes 490 and from the moment that the command is given to rebuild (eg. the walls of) Jerusalem the prince will come(3). And it is within 490 years from the moment in time when the command was given that we know of, until the year of the crucifixion (see below and notes for more details). There is of course discrepancies, allowance to be given, for A.D. 0 is not the actual year of the Lord's birth, it being 4 B.C. or even 7 B.C. as some others argue, and also as to whether 454 B.C. is the actual year of the decree(4). But it is generally recognised that this prophecy in Daniel shows the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah (in terms of time scale).

But, there are about six things in all which the angel mentioned in Daniel 9:24 to occur: one of those is 'To seal up vision and prophecy'. I understand this in similar terms to Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 wherein prophecy will remain until the Lord's return, 'when that which is perfect has come' and then there will be no more need for vision and prophecy. In Bible prophecy it is common to find passages relating to Jesus' first coming and those relating to the second intermingled with each other. So of the things mentioned by the angel in 9:24 some have only been partly fulfilled and one can be clearly seen as wholly accomplished: 'to make reconciliation for iniquity' which I see as referring to the work of Jesus' shed blood - the Atonement. But, part of the fulfilment incurs the event of the Second Coming and so, referring to my first paragraph above, I was asking the Lord for wisdom, for understanding: seventy sevens of what? Of years for the First Coming, but of what for the Second?

My attention was drawn to the context of Daniel being given the vision of the angel:

In the beginning of Daniel Nine we find Daniel reading the book of Jeremiah(5). Now, Daniel was in exile from his homeland Israel along with the rest of his people. The whole exile was due to the wickedness of Israel and Judah and involved their being taken captive to Babylon. Daniel read in Jeremiah how the Lord had decreed seventy years of exile. And the years of exile were recognised as one year away from the land of Israel, for the people of Israel, for every year of Sabbath when the land did not get its rest. And when we look at the Pentateuch and Chronicles we see the year of the Sabbath was a year of rest the land could have/should have had after every six years of being tilled and producing a harvest(6). In the seventh year it was to be allowed to lay fallow and to rest.

But for 490 years they didn't do that, they disobeyed, they didn't take to heart the practise. So for every set of seven years there was one year of exile(7). For every one set of seven years that the Sabbath was not given to the land (6 + 1), when there was no ceasing of work in order to give the land rest, there was a year of exile. Since there was seventy years of exile, that makes the whole exile represent 490 years.

This being the context, when the angel talked to Daniel and said that there shall be 'seventy sevens' and when we think of seventy (times) sevens of years we can, now looking back on what has actually occurred, look at the Lord's First Coming (as mentioned), but in the context of the years of exile and what they represented and the fact that this was the context in which the angel spoke to Daniel we find 490 made up from 70 sevens, of sevens (i.e. a set of years which normally includes a sabbath for the land): we find 490 times seven gives us the year round about A.D. 2976(8).

If we allow for the possible discrepancy as to when the command was given of 454 B.C., for the year of the Lord's birth (from which we have the calendar begun which we use today), and so on, we can reasonably expect from this reasoning for the Lord's return to be occurring in the second half of the 30th century A.D.

It is of further interest to note that when we consider the inspiration of scripture and the genealogies contained therein and the reality that God's Word is pure and has been tried seven times(9), then we can also have faith in the reality that it is round about 4000 B.C. that the creation occurred. And when we put these two things together A.D. 3000 added to 4000 B.C. we then have a span of 7000 years as given for mankind to have its own rule on earth without the King of Kings at its head. To me it does seem to make a lot of sense.

And when I consider the many prophecies which are not yet fulfilled: the Antichrist, who is a person, as revealed by John in his letters for he says there are 'many antichrists'(10) and he is not talking about Bodies of institutions of one form or another, but actual individual people, for he says 'they went out from us, but they were not of us'. So that when we consider The Antichrist, The Son of Perdition, Jesus himself having called Judas Iscariot the son of perdition(11), it is talking about an individual person rising up. And we find that this person hasn't yet come to power. Scripture points to him coming out of the Middle East, Assyria, for the Lord mentions how he will beat Assyria on his mountains(12). And how it is out of the final empire, the 'Roman empire' which ruled over North Africa, the Middle East, and many other countries including Spain, France, England that there would then be Ten involved States in that region(13).

I think a lot of those are long term things. And also there is to be the rebuilding of the temple and all that entails(14)... Considering the Lord Jesus' words 'of that day and hour no one knows'(15), when mentioned to me, I then say: 'well in view of the accuracy of scripture, in its inspiration, it means he hasn't given us the means to know the day nor the hour, but he has probably given us the means to know the month and the year'. We can see the month from the book of Zechariah where it is seen that once the Lord has returned a feast is celebrated every year(16). This is interesting since the religious feasts, celebrated in the Mosaic law by the Jewish nation have a counterpart in the New Testament.

For example during the Lord's first coming: the Passover was when the crucifixion occurred and, Pentecost was the giving of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Tabernacles, as celebrated in Zechariah, makes sense as a counterpart with the second coming. And so round about September/October time would be a reasonable and realistic view to have for the month, the period of time when the Lord Returns as this is the time for this feast.

WHAT NOW:
What is essential and necessary for us to do is to recognise that we are going to be judged, we are going to have to give account of what we have done with the assets, talents, the responsibilities we have been given: 'For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required'(17). And in the right sense, in the right way, we need to have our mind occupied with the task in hand given us by the living God. To give freely as we have freely received(18), to go out and make disciples(19), to teach, to share our lives with those around us as God himself has shared his life with us: Jesus Christ, our Lord and saviour, who will return and take his throne over all for ever. Amen.

NOTES:
(1) James 1:5-6; (2) Daniel 9:24-27; (3) 9:25 (70 X 7 = 490, but Verse 25 mentions [7 X 7] + [62 X 7] = [69 X 7] which omits One 7s = 483); (4) The 'command to restore and build Jerusalem' (not the rebuilding of the Temple) as mentioned in Verse 25 is shown us in Nehemiah 2:1 and chapter, 'as the 20th year of the reign of King Artaxerxes'. This is 473 or 474 B.C. making the command 453 or 454 B.C. I understand it like Tregelles [page 100-101 TREGELLES ON DANIEL published by The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony 1965 Seventh Edition], add 483 and we have A.D. 29-30, the year understood of the crucifixion given Jesus' birth as 4 B.C.; (5) Daniel 9:1-3, Jeremiah 25:12, 27:22, 29:10; (6) 2 Chronicles 36:21, Leviticus 25:3-4; (7) Leviticus 26:34-35; (8) 490 X 7 = 3430 years. Take away 454 as per note 4. we are then left with A.D. 2976; (9) Psalm 12:6; (10) 1 John 2:18-19; (11) John 17:12 'the' son of perdition in the context of Jesus' words, but not in terms of end time prophecy. Paul calls The Antichrist by this name in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; (12) Isaiah 14:25; (13) Daniel 2:40-43, 7:7-8, 7:23-24 et al. cf. NOT FOR A FEW CENTURIES - writing in Spring 1998; (14) cf. HOW SOON IS JESUS' RETURN?; (15) Matthew 24:36; (16) Zechariah 14:16, (12:10 etc. for context) I am indebted to J. David Pawson for this thinking from a teaching series on tape carried out in East London; (17) Luke 12:48; (18) Matthew 10:8; (19) Matthew 28:19.


Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from the New King James Version

© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.

© copyright Jacques More 1999. All Rights Reserved.

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