“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
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.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Is 53.3-6
I praise God that he is “familiar with pain”. A man of suffering, my Great High Priest knows my heartache firsthand, not just because he created me, but because he experienced it himself. But Jesus is not only familiar with my trials and sufferings; he is deeply acquainted with the pain caused by my own hand. Like the people of Israel in the book of Judges, so often I live my life with no king, doing whatever seems right in my own eyes. He takes the pain that I can’t control and the pain I deserve for myself…. And by his wounds, I am healed.
Praise You, Jesus.
“’Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.’” Is 42.1-4
A woman in my church has asked me to put together my testimony to share as part of the next women’s retreat, and whenever I look back on the 21+ years I’ve lived so far, one of the very first things that comes to mind is one of my favorite truth’s about God: Hesed, the love that will not let me go. I see the Lord’s Hesed everywhere in my life; in the fact that after being accepted into nursing school I have successfully finished the third of four semesters (of the hardest scholastic challenge I’ve ever faced); in the blessing of having a beautiful studio apartment provided for me for the past 1.5 years, made affordable by the enduring love of consistently self-sacrificing friends; in the ever-deepening friendship that’s developing between my best friend/sister and I. And I see it in this Advent passage as well. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice… he will not falter or be discouraged… So often, so so often I have felt like an island. Distant. Helpless. Too far away for hope of contact, much less intervention. But He is Hesed, and He is my source of hope.
“Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Messiah (“Mashiach”) in Hebrew and Christ (“Christos” in Greek) means “Anointed one”. And in this passage originally from Isaiah 61.1-3, we see that Jesus was the anointed one 700 years before he sat down and taught in his hometown synagogue. The Sovereign Lord planned our salvation before the foundation of the world.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Eph 1.3-6