“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘seven’s, and sixty-two ‘sevens’… After the sixty-two ‘sevens’, the Anointed one will be put to death and will have nothing. “ Dan 9.25-26
I’m not at home right now (and more importantly, I’m away from my study Bible), so I can’t go into much detail in explaining the “sevens”, but the important thing here is this: God revealed to Daniel the precise timing of the Messiah’s (the Anointed One’s) arrival. Down to the precise year.
My favorite analogy for clarifying prophecy was given to me by my Bible Professor/Pastor in Florida. A prophet is given a vision from God, and he records what he sees. If I were to stand near the top of a mountain peak and look straight ahead, I might see what looks like a singular peak, but is in fact multiple mountaintops together. From my vantage point I cannot see any of the valleys in between, merely many mountaintops in one perception. It’s a similar situation in Daniel 9. Without transition, Daniel begins by speaking of Jesus’ coming years down the road, and within the same verse starts to proclaim the end of the world (v. 26b-27).
You can get into some pretty deep holes if you spend too much time tearing apart and stapling down end times prophecies, and I don’t think that’s the ultimate point here. The point is to realize that God knows, exactly. He knew before the world was created that we would rebel and require His intervention and salvation. He knew exactly when Jesus would enter time as a man to intercede for us. And He knows precisely when this world as we know it will be finished.
“You must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3.8-9
“’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’”
Not much to say for this one. Let the truth of who our God is wash over your heart and mind today: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
He has come. Merry Christmas.
“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Is 9.1-2
I have been so impressed with Isaiah this Advent; not only by the incredible magnitude of Messianic prophecy it contains, but with its powerful and broad-reaching revelations of God’s character. In yesterday’s passage in Isaiah 50, there was this beautiful two-verse conclusion: “Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”
At first reading, I was very confused; the people walking in darkness go off free, while those living in light are condemned? How does this match up with everything else I read in Scripture? But then I saw the key point: “all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches”. This is the same statement Jesus made in Mark, when he told the Pharisees (who proudly flaunted their own self-made torches), “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Obviously, the clear truth here is that those who find themselves healthy (or “in the light”) are merely deceiving themselves. Jesus came to shed light into the darkest places of us, but only those who recognize their deep depravity would welcome any such light in the first place.
My God, remind me that You are my only source of light. You are the author of Light in this world, the very source of it in the first place. Keep bringing me to my knees. Keep reminding me that I have not made any of this bright fire on my own. All the glory and credit is Yours.
“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4.6
“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy… the will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with a vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” Isaiah 35.1-6
Yesterday was a gift. The one small day in between two bigger events, I approached with wondering how to best refresh and relax in the time given. And God orchestrated it perfectly. I had friends with my, in my own space, all day long. Music was played, much laughter flowed, even Disney games and cat-naps showed themselves. And the icing on the cake was privilege of having a dear friend over for dinner. Whenever she and I get together, we are both so encouraged. Even though there’s an age gap of more than 20 years between us, life experiences have allowed us to understand the soul-deep struggles and heartaches within one another in a powerful way. One of the many things we discussed last night was the concept of joy. When I was in high school and things were very painful for me most of the time, I began to see how “consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds” could even be possible. As explained in the next verse in James 1, joy means that nothing is wasted. God sees my pain, He knows my pain, and He will make sure that none of it ends up for nothing.
That’s why I love verse 4 of today’s Advent reading. The only way I can be strong when I feel crushed, the only way I can be courageous in the face of gripping fear, my only hope for strength and steadiness is the promise that my God will come. Jesus is with my in my pain, He will be with me on the other side (if there even is one), and, even more gloriously, He is coming back to herald in the day when this will all be over. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus. Come quickly.
Great caravans of camels will come, from Midian and Ephah. They will come from Sheba, bringing gold and incense. People will tell the good news of what the Lord has done!” Isaiah 60.6
Today, my sister turns 20 years old, and so happy birthday Lauren. Here’s one of the weirdest Advent verses I could’ve come up with. 🙂
Last year I spoke about the Wise Men and my lovely theory about why they were so interested in this prophesied Messiah King and what would inspire them to leave everything they knew to follow a star, only to end up in Bethlehem at the feet of a young child.
The beautiful thing is God’s powerful hand seen in all aspects of the Nativity. A young virgin gets pregnant. Her fiancé sticks with her and claims his unusual family, with all its responsibilities. An empire-wide edict moves a paycheck-to-paycheck couple from their hometown to Jesus’ prophesied birthplace. And men from hundreds (perhaps thousands) of miles away drop everything to bring gifts finer than Mary or Joseph would’ve ever seen to offer in worship before their young Savior.
Gold for a king. Incense, burned in the Holy of Holies to symbolize God smelling the sweet prayers of his people, for the Great High Priest. Some of the very first worshippers to bow before Jesus were Gentiles, not Jews. Even his birth was a missional, Gospel opportunity.
“So they paid me thirty pieces of silver… ‘Throw it to the potter’ – the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.“ Zech 11.13
Not the happiest of verses for an Advent reading, but there is not joy in Christmas without the anticipation of Good Friday, and, even more so, of Easter. For the traditional price of a slave, Judas sold out his Rabbi, the man he outwardly claimed to pledge his whole life to. Not to mention his very Creator and God. 500 years before Jesus became man, God told his people that they would be rescued, by the means of utter betrayal.
If you interpret the idea of redemption as many Bible teachers do (“to redeem” meaning “to buy back from slavery”), Jesus being sold at a slaves price to his death, by which he frees us from slavery, gives a whole new light to the concept of Redemption.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you; He is [uncompromisingly] just and having salvation [triumphant and victorious], patient, meek, lowly, and riding upon a donkey, upon a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zech 9.9 (AMP)
My favorite part of this verse can be summed up in just one word: uncompromising (three cheers for the Amplified Bible!) Jesus decided to look traditional standards in the face and do something completely different: a king enters his own city in a triumphant procession on a barely broken colt. He maintained this same adamancy throughout that last week in Jerusalem, the only constant in a sea of change. He preached the same truth, spoke with the same voice, loved and served in the same heart, but the people, His people, compromised. They listened to the sound of double-sided leaders, and were too easily led astray.
The Lord revealed this idea of an unchanging, righteous standard to Amos: “Behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in his hand. The Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of my people, Israel.” (Amos 7.7-8) Jesus is the unchanging standard, our uncompromising righteousness. The Holy One of Israel.