“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.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.’ The Lord said to me: ‘What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.” Deut 18.15-18
This prophecy was most clearly fulfilled at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17). Jesus reveals more of his true nature to his closest disciples, conversing side by side with Elijah, their greatest prophet, and Moses, their greatest teacher. In this moment, Jesus showed himself to be the Great Prophet (the One who speaks the Word of God to his people) and the Great Teacher (the One who reveals the heart of God in a way that can be understood).
At Mount Horeb, the Israelites begged God for an alternative. When faced with his holiness and power, they feared for their lives and asked for a distance between themselves and God through an emissary. Little did they know that over 1,000 years later, that emissary would come. Only He was not one to allow for comfortable distance between a holy God and unholy mankind. On the contrary. He is the Great Reconciler, the only One who could fully unite the world with their Creator.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, and the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting the people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5. 17-21
“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
“Listen to me, you islands, hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name, He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.’ And now the Lord says – he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength – he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49. 1-3, 5-6
Israel was born to be a nation of missionaries. As seen God’s promise to patriarch, “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him” (Gen 18.18), God chose this people to be his shining light to the world. A people set apart by God to emulate his character, to reveal his blessings, to proclaim his truth and love the world. But they failed. Rather than emulating his heart, they took the Law and followed the letter while missing the point. They became so consumed in their own sin and rebellion that they ended up looking just like the world.
Enter Jesus. The Creator God become incarnate flesh, Yeshua was set apart before conception to be God’s holy servant, perfect in obedience and love. He is the Light of the World, shining God’s truth and character to Jew and Gentile.
Ultimately, the nation of Israel shows us one thing: we all need Jesus. We are all equally/completely broken; it is so easy for me to take God’s calling made clear in the scriptures and turn it into some pious act of discipline to become proud, “following” the letter and missing the point. Jesus came as the Great Missionary, gathering for himself a people from every part of the world to call to his heart. From Nazareth all the way to Kenai, Alaska. And even farther…
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.
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.