Some Thoughts on Bible Prophecy

Recorded History: Our Free Will Choices and Hidden Design

Click here to go to our timeline after 453 BC

Click here to go to song at end

"The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward."
Winston Churchill - speaking at The Royal College of Physicians in London. March 2nd 1944.

And in the words of Hugo Dyson, in the company of JRR Tolkien and persuading CS Lewis, "yes, Christianity was a myth (a story), but it was a myth which was, literally, true." Lewis, an avowed atheist, acknowledged "he was the most reluctant convert in all England", when he knelt down and admitted that God was God.

Now, a preamble. In Proverbs 16:9, the scriptures say A person's heart plans their walk (their way), but the Lord fixes their step. In this verse, the mystery of "free will" meets the mystery of the "planned universe", this space-time continuum that we inhabit. Only the one who inhabits eternity - the vanishing point, time out of mind - has perfect foreknowledge and input. When, and if, people reach the age of understanding, they then have freedom (in their souls) and talents (in their bodies) to weave plans for their lives however they may do it. And inside their hearts, every person does this, some doing it better than others. But the extent of the outcomes of those plans is inevitably fixed by the Lord, based on wisdom recorded and revealed via the scriptures.

These words were common understanding in the ancient world (as reflected in the book of Job). However, when it then came to reasons why bad things and good things were happening everywhere, it regularly resulted in simplistic, short-term, negative, proud judgments (or any mixture of the four). See this account of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:24-32. As we grow, our hearts become deeply complex, diverse (and oftentimes perverse) in their functioning and none of us can be sure of accuracy when we independently (i.e. "Lone Ranger" style) engage in these judgments. As a result, this statement that the Lord is continually "fixing each step" is one now greatly resisted in today's pressured rationalistic society. Or what's worse, made into an excuse for passivity — for "opting out" of the planning process altogether. See Esther 4:13-14.

Based on the first chapter of Genesis, and the beliefs of many physicists working in the science of quantum theory, this outline carries the following suppositions:

1. The universe, matter, space is not infinite in scope.
2. Time is also not infinite in scope. Click here for some thoughts on this subject.
3. So, both have a "start".
4. And both have a "distance", "six" days (from the perspective of "God").
5. And with the "seventh" day comes "rest" and "refreshing" (see Exodus 31:17 with Peter's words confirming this in Acts 3:19).

And outside the construct of time, all plans (large and small) have been foreseen and foreplanned for (which includes the fixing of their scope).

The mystery, beyond comprehension, is that God delays judgment on our perversity, working through each individual conscience, in His mercy seeking to draw us to Himself - and from that eternal viewpoint, that we engage with Him in association with others, in partnership through prayer followed by action, that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. For Him and for us, there is just one inward choice that (on this side of eternity) truly counts, foreknowledge of which is known only by Him: "What will you do with Jesus?" He is God's son. He has been marked out to be the coming ruler over this (currently) perverse world. Yes, though we do not (yet) see Him, He is alive. And so, we all must answer the question. If we do not hear it - or, what's worse, respond to it in humility in this life, then certainly we will hear it in the next one. "Behold, I place in Zion a Stone-of-stumbling and a Rock-of -offence, and everyone believing on (trusting) Him to be a secure foundation will not be put to shame (from being in a hurry/being under pressure)." (Paul, in Romans 9:33, quoting Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16).

Yes, for every individual, if that choice were made for them, then it were no longer free. Let us continue:

Luke 21: Verses 20-33

(Luke, a physician, lived in the first century AD and spent much time with Paul the apostle, and, it is believed, communicated with Mary the mother of Jesus)

Just before his crucifixion in March 31 AD, Christ spoke of the coming siege and destruction of Jerusalem (verses 20-23), encouraging his listeners to be ready to flee to the mountains. Due to a required need for speed, he warned against being pregnant, or having young children.

And in 66 AD, the simmering disquiet indeed became a full-blown war. The Roman general Cestius surrounded Jerusalem but was unable to take it, and retreated. Many Christians, remembering Jesus's words, immediately took the opportunity to leave. The Roman emperor, Nero, sent an army under his able general Vespasian with instructions to crush the rebellion.

Vespasian arrived in Antioch in the early spring of 67 AD and rapidly brought Galilee under control. Over the next 3 years there was now great tribulation for the Jews. Under three rival leaders, Eleazar ben Simon, John of Gischala and Simon bar Giora, the so-called "three shepherds" of Zechariah 11:8, numerous thieves and murderers calling themselves zealots, saviours, deliverers made their way into Jerusalem. Click here for a summarized account by the Jewish historian, Josephus. To quote from him "robber Zealots took refuge in the Temple and fortified it more strongly than before. They allotted as high priest one Phanias, a coarse and clownish rustic, utterly ignorant of the priestly duties, who when decked in the robes of office caused great derision. This sport and pastime for the Zealots caused the more religious people to shed tears of grief and shame; and the citizens, unable to endure such insolence rose in great numbers to avenge the outrage on the sacred rites. Thus a fierce civil war broke out (in Jerusalem) in which very many were slain."

In 68 AD, Nero committed suicide and the following year Vespasian returned to Rome to become emperor, leaving his son Titus responsible for ending this war in Judaea.

The fortieth year of Jesus's prophecy, between April - September 70 AD, now saw the siege of Jerusalem with its accompanying famine. And following the fall of the city and the burning of the temple, Josephus recorded "Then the Romans brought their ensigns (banners) into the temple (area) and set them over against (a fragment of) the eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them (in worship - but bringing yet further desecration to the temple) and there did they praise Titus with the greatest acclamations of joy". Titus made a speech to the Jews, and offered them terms of mercy. The Jews would not accept these terms. And so, within the month the whole city was destroyed. Josephus records that during the period of the siege possibly over one million Jews perished, with 97,000 Jews captured and taken to Rome including Simon bar Giora and John of Gischala. Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, as there is "no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own God".

As a sidenote, the Christians' departure/forsaking of Jerusalem and Gischala's insolent bedecking of Phanias in the High Priestly garments in the Temple in Jerusalem while Nero reigned in Rome, certainly brought to mind Paul's prophecy in II Thessalonians 2:3-4, "First a departure or forsaking — then the man of sin — setting himself in the temple of God, exhibiting himself as God". But the outcome of Phanias's 3 years did not bring Christ's return, as so often happens in scripture, it was a foretaste of something that is yet to occur.

65 years later many more Jews were then slaughtered by the Roman army during Hadrian's reign in 135 AD after starting a rebellion while following a man they believed was their messiah: Bar Kokhba. Hadrian subsequently renamed the land Syria Palaestina (in memory of their old enemies the Philistines).

Click here to read a full account of Jerusalem's history over the past 2000 years.

Verse 24 tells how Gentiles -the outside nations (not Israel)- would occupy Jerusalem for a fixed period of time, which as we now see has lasted until very recently. In the late 1800s, Jews began returning in large numbers to the land of Israel.

Israel, who had been named Jacob by his father, was the son of Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham. Abraham was a Hebrew, of Semitic descent. He had migrated into the area shortly after 2000 BC, though in Genesis 15:13 he was told that his descendants would be foreigners, suffering 400 years of mocking and affliction. This is then recorded as starting in the year Isaac was weaned at the age of five until the exact same year Moses led them all as a free nation out of Egypt. Joshua had then led them back into the land - declaring it the land of Israel.

But in the late 1800s, the land, to everyone who wasn't a Jew, was of course the land of Palestine, a region of Syria and under the cruel (but collapsing) Ottoman empire in Turkey who had ruled the area since 1517. Many of the inhabitants (mostly the poorer ones) were happy to see the Jews. Others (often, the more politically and commercially connected ones) were not.

Palestine (or land of the Philistines) derives from the Hebrew word for "roll" or "wallow" i.e. shifting position on the ground. And historically, the Philistines are first mentioned in Genesis 10:14 as migrating from Mizraim - Egypt.

But, back to modern times, the rain started falling (according to historical records much more than it had), enabling the land to flourish with crops. In 1917, during the First World War, Jerusalem was taken by British and ANZAC troops, ending exactly 400 years of Turkish rule. The Balfour Declaration now declared the British government's support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine, with the condition that nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights of existing communities there. In return, England looked for the support of the Jewish community (in America) in the war against Germany.

In September 1922, the British government presented a memorandum to the League of Nations stating that Transjordan (i.e. "the area across the Jordan river" on the east) would be excluded from all provisions dealing with Jewish settlement. From that point onwards, Britain administered the part west of the Jordan as Palestine, and the part east of the Jordan as Transjordan. Technically they remained one mandate but most official documents referred to them as if they were two separate mandates. Transjordan remained under British control until 1946.

On May 14 1948, following a United Nations recommendation, the British mandate over Palestine ended and David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the re-creation of the state of Israel, with he becoming its first Prime Minister. The United Nations had recommended that Jerusalem come under an "international" regime, and that there also be a separate state for Palestine. The boundaries the Jews (at the time) accepted, but the Arab countries did not. Instead, insisting on a single "United State of Palestine", they vowed they would drive the Jewish nation (as such) into the sea.

And so there has been ongoing conflict. Within the year, Jerusalem had become a divided city with Israel controlling the west, and Jordan controlling the east.

In 1967 (following the six day war), the whole city of Jerusalem came under Israeli control. In many ways this was the fulfillment of those words in verse 24, though there has obviously been contention with the Palestinians over the gradual Israeli confiscation/purchasing of 90% of their land in east Jerusalem. Also, the site of the original temple of Solomon, the traditional site of Abraham's offering up of Isaac and now called the Temple Mount, is an area sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Though for quite different reasons. Many Muslims, particularly the local ones, believe Mohammed spoke of a time in 621 AD when he, while sleeping on a carpet, had (whether in fact or vision) come by night on a winged horse from Arabia into the area, temporarily visited/ascended to heaven, and then been made aware that he was the final and greatest prophet. In 691 AD the Muslims completed the construction of the Dome of the Rock to commemorate that event. Muslims regularly come now to worship at the Al Aqsa mosque that is part of this area, with Israeli police currently seeking to ensure no disruption by Jewish or Palestinian demonstrators.

Back to these scriptures. Verses 25-26 then speaks of natural calamities (on a level that I do not yet think we see).

Verse 27 specifically declares Christ's physical return (in his resurrected body, something of which we currently can have little understanding).

Daniel 9: Verses 24-27

(Prophecies by Daniel, a Jewish prophet living in Babylon, around 500 BC)

In Verse 24 Seventy weeks (literally "sevens" as the number seven is the Hebrew word translated as "week") was decreed for the nation of Israel.

In Verse 25 the time would start when the decree was issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem from its previous destruction by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This decree came from Cyrus in 453 BC. The rebuilding of the city, its streets and moats would take 7 sevens and then there would be a period of 62 sevens until the coming of The Anointed One (translated from the Hebrew scriptures as The Messiah and from Greek as The Christ). Jesus rode into Jerusalem in 31 AD. The people knew of Daniel's prophecies and knew how to count. Needless to say, the excitement was real. John the Baptist, the man recognized as the prophet in Jesus's era, had pointed out Jesus as the one for whom they were waiting. Jesus had performed mighty miracles of healing and providing for people's needs, the likes of which the people had never seen. When Jesus's disciple Peter declared that Jesus was the Christ, and in fact the Son of the living God, Jesus replied that this truth had been revealed to Peter by Jesus's personal father in the heavens (i.e. eternity). For, as was recorded in the Gospels, Jesus had no natural human father, his birth via Mary was through a miraculous action of the Holy Spirit. All of this led to heightened expectation amongst them all of what Jesus would achieve. However, Jesus asked them not to talk of this, yet, as through the hatred of men, he was about to be killed, but in three days would come back to life - never to die again.

And indeed, Jesus provoked terrible anger and focus from the entire Jewish heirarchy by exposing the hypocrisy, the pretentiousness, calling it leaven (yeast). Yeast reacts with sugar - God's sweet presence (like honey) - turning it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. In other words, hypocrisy makes a person (and those surrounding him / her) drunk, out of touch with the truth, and full of hot air. And in reaction to this exposure, their leadership organized for Jesus to be horrifically executed by the Roman government the first day of the Passover feast, a week when the priests would offer up additional daily offerings for the nation — see Numbers 28:17-26 .

Returning to Daniel, he indeed foretold that at the end of 62 sevens, the Christ would be cut off (as in a separation, the ending of a marriage contract), but not on his side - Verse 26 KJV. And, as it now would appear, the time line then stopped with Israel (as a nation) cutting themselves off from their relationship with God - and everyone else. As recorded above, the city and temple were shortly afterwards destroyed (obviously, outside the time line) by the people of a coming leader, with ongoing ruin occurring until the war comes to an end.

Then, many welcome and apparently obtain the coming leader's covering and protection, as it were in a remarriage. In so doing their divorce from Christ becomes irrevocable. And the time line recommences (Verse 27). At the start of the 70th seven, the coming leader confirms the covenant with the many. But in the middle of the seven (ie after three and a half years), the contract is broken with great damage. And with great damage being meted out to the damager.

Our history since 453BC

Based on Daniel Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 and Josephus Book XI

Firstly, some background regarding Cyrus (or in Persian ko'-resh): According to Josephus, Cyrus was the nephew of Darius the Mede, and, according to the Greek historian Xenophon, the grandson of Astyages (referred to in scripture as Ahasuerus in Daniel 9:1 and also in Ezra 4:6). Note, according to Josephus, Astyages is not the same Ahasuerus who later married Esther, see below. This Astyages, son of Cyaxeres, was the last great King of Media. His sister married Nebuchadnezzar, the one for whom Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Again according to Xenophon, Astyages had a son, Cyaxares II, and according to Josephus, this was Darius, and a daughter, Mandane, who became wife to Cambyses I of Persia. Mandane and Cambyses' son thus became Cyrus the Great. Cyrus married his cousin, daughter of his uncle Darius, binding the familial ties even closer.

Having formed this alliance with Darius, the records show that the Medes and Persians dried up the waters of the Euphrates and were able to steal quietly under the walls of Babylon and into the city while the king and his nobles were having a feast. Belshazzar was this king, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar through his mother the queen, and first-born son of her husband, an obscure now adopted son of Nebuchadnezzar named Nabonidus. It was the night of Daniel's prophecy in 465 BC when Belshazzar was slain and Darius the Mede received the kingdom (as from God). Josephus tells us that Darius next took Daniel from Babylon into Media. Daniel 8:1 indicates it was to the city of Shushan, modern day Susa, which is where he made Daniel senior administrator, much to the other administrators' disgust. And in Babylon, according to old Jewish sources, Darius's father, Astyages, reigned until his death. According to the Nabonidus chronicle Nabonidus spent those next ten years in exile in Arabia, while Cyrus was defeating King Croesus and his army who had come out against him in Lydia.

And so we come to 453 BC. It is to be the end of 70 years of Jewish captivity. Astyages has died in Babylon, and Darius in Susa gets no further mention. Nabonidus, ex-king of Babylon, brings his army to fight Cyrus at the Battle of Opis, is defeated, and Cyrus enters Babylon to a triumphal welcome. It is to be the first year of his reign, and with Daniel in Cyrus's court, the decree goes out that all the Jews are free to return to Jerusalem to build the Lord's house.

Now, let us go to the prophecy in Daniel 11.

In Verse 2, following the current ruler Cyrus, there would be three more kings in Persia, with the fourth one being a great and wealthy ruler who would stir up his kingdom against the coming kingdom of Greece.

And in studying Josephus's records/Wikipedia we find the names of these next four kings:

1. Artaxerxes in Ezra 4 (called Cambyses II) circa 444 BC. According to Josephus, he was the son of Cyrus the Great. He reigned six years, followed by one year with no recognized ruler.

2. Darius in Ezra 5 & 6 (Darius I) circa 437 BC. The son of Hystaspes, a leading noble in Cyrus's court. His second year in 436-435 BC came 70 years after the burning of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. Now, with the prophets Haggai and Zechariah in Jerusalem encouraging the people, Darius discovered Cyrus's decree in Astyages' original capital of Ecbatana (modern day Hamadan) and authorized that the rebuilding of the temple continue without obstruction. See Zechariah 1:1-12, Ezra 4:24 and Ezra 6:2.

In line with the prophecy in Zechariah 5, he authorized a universal coinage with minting occurring also in Ecbatana.
At a military level, restored order following the Ionian Revolt, but suffered defeat at the Battle of Marathon while endeavouring to restore the unpopular deposed ruler of Athens, Hippias (circa 430 BC).
Click here for Amyntas I and here for Amyntas III with both names most likely the same man. He was appointed as Darius's vassal in Macedonia and became father of Philip and grandfather of Alexander the Great. Coins were issued with this man's image.

3. Artaxerxes in Ezra 7 and Nehemiah (called Xerxes I/ Artaxerxes I) circa 423 BC, with both names most likely the same man. According to Josephus, the son of Darius I. It was in this king's 20th year (49 years from Cyrus's decree) that Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls. See Daniel 9:25. And according to Nehemiah 13:6 he reigned at least 32 years.

4. Ahasuerus pronounced akh-ash-vay-rosh according to the Hebrew (most likely Artaxerxes II) circa 390 BC. The renowned ruler who married Esther in the book of Esther - the last recorded historical writings in the Old Testament. According to Josephus, the son of Artaxerxes I.

The alternative names that were used in Scripture are simply titles of great authority in the Persian language. The omission of their personal names emphasises this authority (the "planned universe" principle) which is absolutely fixed by God. It is similar to the omission of each of the Pharaohs' personal names in the books of Genesis and Exodus. Authority and power can be seen, but, like God himself, can be very hard to personalise. Can in fact be seen as being quite vicious and brutal. However, you will see its fruit (whether it be good or evil, involving mercy or judgment).

The stirring up of the kingdom against Greece by this fourth king is an apparent reference to the famous Battle of Thermopylae with our understanding of that war coming chiefly from the "Father of History" Herodotus, a somewhat one sided account. Awkwardly, the bulk of Persian records were destroyed by Alexander the Great when he captured Persia.

Incidentally this account by Daniel indicates the battle occurred around 380 BC, 100 years later than the year (480 BC) normally allotted to it, the Jewish calendar and Josephus showed a shorter time span for this Persian empire as well. It also meant Herodotus lived 100 years later than the period (484 BC - 425 BC) normally allotted to him, and thus when Alexander's teacher Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) refers to Herodotus as a historian — and there appear no personal references to Herodotus's name prior to this — Aristotle was speaking of him as a contemporary. So the battle had followed a sortie by the Greek mercenary/historian Xenophon on Persian soil against Artaxerxes II (click here to read Xenophon's account).

But Greece portraying Persia as the political bully who had "started this first" is a patriotic ploy often used by scoundrels to whip people up. And economically, it was a difficult time for Greece. Dionysius, ruler of Syracuse in Sicily, had around 400BC devalued the silver drachma by causing all the coins in the city to be reminted, stamping at two-drachmae each one-drachma coin. Other Greek cities, facing default, were starting to issue the very first bronze coins due to a shortage of silver.

Click here for a brief Greek history with Wikipedia hyperlinks, from Solon and his democratic reforms up to Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great (356 BC - 323 BC) — Daniel 11: 3-4

Daniel declares the coming of a mighty ruler - whom we now know to be Alexander the Great. He defeated Darius, the last king of Persia, but died while still young at the age of 33, in Babylon, with both of his children killed before adulthood. He therefore had no grandchildren to contest the throne.

His empire now divided to the "four winds of heaven", initially Egypt in the south (under Ptolemy) followed by Syria in the north (under Seleucus). In the east, ancient Persia became the Parthian empire following a revolt against the Seleucids in 247 BC, while the west saw the gradual but steady rise of Rome.

But initially, Judaea found itself ruled by:
 

  1. Ptolemy I 323 BC - 283 BC Close companion of Alexander from childhood. Reigned over Judaea as "king of the south" — note "south" in Hebrew is the word "Negev" meaning "parched, thirsty land". Egypt had the city to which Alexander's body had been brought - Alexandria, becoming a popular tourist destination, growing in wealth and size. One of his generals, Seleucus I, now became northern ruler over Persia, Babylon, Syria and part of Asia Minor. In 312 BC he founded Seleucia on the Tigris below modern Baghdad as his eastern capital. It soon replaced Babylon as the main center for east-west commerce through the valley. As he expanded, in 300 BC he founded Antioch in Syria as his western capital, naming it after his father, Antiochus, a name that means "stubborn, resistant". As the city from which his descendants now reigned, it was to become the third largest city in the Roman empire after Rome and Alexandria. Daniel 11:5
     
  2. Ptolemy II 283 BC - 246 BC About 282 BC, desiring to augment his father's massive library, commissioned a translation of the Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) into Greek - now rapidly becoming the spoken language throughout the entire region. With an ongoing promotion by his own son, all the other books in the Hebrew Scriptures were then similarly translated into Greek - forming a translation that became known as the Septuagint. This became the basis for Scriptures spoken outside of synagogues in communities, and later on the early church everywhere. Click here for further details. In 250 BC Ptolemy II gave his daughter, Berenice, to Antiochus II, the "king of the north" in marriage. However, the Syrian king's first wife caused her husband to be poisoned in order that her son may inherit the throne, and Berenice and her nurses were all killed, Ptolemy II also dying about this time. Daniel 11:6
     
  3. Ptolemy III 246 BC - 222 BC In great anger, Berenice's brother inflicted a massive defeat on Syria. Daniel 11:7-9
     
  4. Ptolemy IV 221 BC - 205 BC was the next king but the focus of power was now shifting to Antiochus III in Syria. Following victories in the east in 221 - 220 BC, his campaigns in Judaea in 219 - 218 BC carried him right to the borders of Egypt. Ptolemy then scored a major victory at the Battle of Raphia in 217 BC forcing Antiochus to withdraw. However, Ptolemy was unable to subdue his own people and during his reign much of Egypt broke away. Daniel 11:10-12
     
  5. Ptolemy V 204 BC - 181 BC was only five years old when his father died and, under a series of regents, the kingdom was paralyzed. In 202 BC, Antiochus attacked again, supported by warrior Jews in Jerusalem including Simon the high priest. However they were defeated by the Egyptian general Scopas. Daniel 11:13-14
     
  6. Antiochus III 223 BC - 187 BC finally captured Judaea at the Battle of Panium in 198 BC. Reigned over Judaea as "king of the north" — interestingly "north" in Hebrew literally means "hidden place" or "unknown darkness". In a peace treaty in 195 BC, Antiochus promised his eight year old daughter Cleopatra I to Ptolemy V who was then fourteen — they married two years later. Antiochus was hoping, unsuccessfully as it turned out, that she would bring all Egypt under his control. Then, after refusing negotiations with the Roman politician Flaminius not to invade Greece in 192 BC, he was decisively defeated by the Romans at Thermopylae, then Magnesia (near Pergamon) and in the Treaty of Apamea in 188 BC, Syria was saddled with a huge war debt. Daniel 11:15-19
     
  7. Seleucus IV 187 BC - 175 BC Hearing that there was massive wealth in the temple in Jerusalem, sent his minister Heliodorus to raid it in 178 BC.

    Although the high priest, Onias, insisted the entrusted funds were limited — mainly donations for widows and orphans — Heliodorus persisted in his task. According to II Maccabees ch. 3, an angel on horseback followed by two other angels thereupon struck him to the point of death. His friends begged Onias to pray for him, and Onias, conscious that the Jews would be blamed if he died, prayed to God and Heliodorus revived. Three years later Seleucus died in a palace conspiracy, apparently also involving Heliodorus. Daniel 11:20
     

  8. Antiochus IV 175 BC - 164 BC By various intrigues, Seleucus's younger brother, Antiochus became king. He had been held hostage by the Romans in 188 BC as part of the Treaty of Apamea, then in 178 BC was exchanged for his nephew, the son and heir of Seleucus. Antiochus now ousted Heliodorus, and took the throne peacefully as co-regent on behalf of Seleucus's second son (an infant). A few years later this second son was murdered.

    Back in Jerusalem Jason, Onias's brother, had undermined him and become high priest following a successful bribe and business offer to Antiochus for rights to build a gymnasium and youth brothels, and to enrol men as citizens of Antioch.

    In 171 BC Antiochus appointed Menelaus, a Benjaminite as high priest, following his offer of increased tribute.

    In 169 BC, while Antiochus was engaged in a war in Egypt, a false rumour arose in Jerusalem that he, Antiochus, had been killed. Jason now gathered 1000 men, attacked and took the city killing many, but was then driven out. Antiochus meanwhile had gained the upper hand in Egypt due to their infighting, but had been unable to arrange a credible treaty involving Alexandria. Hearing about Jason and thinking Judaea was in revolt, he now slaughtered and enslaved many Jews and then with Menelaus acting as a guide, plundered the temple.

    In 168 BC he led another attack on Alexandria, also sending a fleet to capture Cyprus (Chittim). Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador, a man he knew, named Gaius Popillius Laenas, who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around him and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate". Weighing his options, Antiochus wisely decided to withdraw. Daniel 11:21-30

    In his anger and humiliation Antiochus now cancelled the Jewish treaty, sending Apollonius his chief collector of tribute into Jerusalem with armed troops. He entered peacefully then massacred all the grown men, enslaving the women and children while plundering and burning the city. It was midway through 168 BC and all Jewish practices (which included circumcision, and services in the temple — the offering of daily sacrifices) would be stopped for the next 3½ years. A fortress was built on the site of Solomon's palace, on the western hill overlooking the temple where the plunder could be stored, guarded by a Syro-Macedonian garrison. On the 15th day of Kislev (about December), he erected a statue of Zeu Pater / Jupiter as it is called in Roman mythology, and offered sacrifices to it 10 days later. Numerous Jews treacherously came over to his side. Daniel 11:31-32

Around this time the Sadducees, a party influenced by the Greek emphasis on rationalism and provable facts (and with an insistence on "an eye for an eye"), came strongly on to the scene. To counter their anti-supernatural teachings, the Pharisees, who amongst other matters taught on living as a good person now, the reality of angels, each person's spirit, the after-life, the coming Christ - Messiah, and the future resurrection of our bodies, also gained considerable influence.

The second half of verse 32 refers initially at least to the Maccabees, a priestly Jewish family who led the people in revolt against the Syrian army and three years later, gained relief within the temple area. Finally in 132 BC, an armistice with Syria was achieved. Only for a short time however, as the Roman general Pompey next conquered them in 63 BC.

Still, their dedication and renewal of the Temple services on the 25th day of Kislev back in 165 BC became an annual celebration — the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah — a festival that ended on its 8th day. Its timing was to neatly correspond with the season we now know as Christmas week celebrating Jesus, the Light of the world, born in the temple of his body —traditionally— on the 25th day of December in 2 BC in the 3rd year of the 194th Olympiad, circumcized —the Jewish sign of dedication to God— and named Jesus on his 8th day. It was New Year's Day 1 BC the first day of CE (our Common Era) as there is no year zero. See too John 10:22-30.

Meanwhile Verses 33-35 refer to the continual war on and persecution of God's people for many days until the end. Though the people stumble in this persecution, it would refine them (as metal is refined in the heat), and at that time a little help would be there to help them. But many would also join themselves to them with smooth talking.

Verses 36 - 45 refer to the coming king of the north, the one who will set himself up in total opposition to the true God, defeating Egypt, and establishing his palace in the holy mountain — Zion, in Jerusalem.

Chapter 12 verse 1 speaks of Michael, a great ruling angel, standing on behalf of Daniel's people as warfare occurs in the unseen spiritual realm. The time will be uniquely troublingly tight, with a certain group of people escaping the trouble (as if by a smooth slipperiness). Then a major resurrection of people's bodies (Verses 2 - 4) for reward and judgment. Note - once again this passage reflects ideas of which we currently have little understanding.

Micah Chapter 4

(Micah, a Jewish prophet living in Israel, lived in the years 700-600 BC)

He prophesied regarding the reign of Christ

Verse 3: Swords (literally in the Hebrew - that which parches - a drought) will be beaten in to ploughshares (that which hoes the ground).

Verse 5: All the people will walk in the name of his god (literally - strong one), but we (Israel) will walk in the name of the Lord our God, or as Christians believe him to be: Jesus - in Hebrew Y'hoshua or in English - The Lord our Saviour. As a son is the reflection of his father, Jesus is the Son of God, the one who has been made humanly visible from the invisible, indivisible, trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Indivisible, because God is Love.

This concept of the Holy Trinity is most difficult to grasp humanly speaking. It does not mean we should try to see them as three separate gods or as one mixture of God, but they are three persons in total relationship harmony - One God. Our closest parallel to understanding this in human terms is that of a husband and wife in the self-denying relationship of marriage - as two persons find themselves working out their becoming "an item" - "one couple" - while remaining two persons. This harmony, this being one, can be viewed, but cannot be fully comprehended. Another analogy is that of the human body, where some parts naturally choose to suffer in order that weaker parts may be protected or restored. Christians are called to have the same degree of harmony through the ongoing empowering that comes with the ever-present Holy Spirit.

But, back to these verses, that Jesus is the one being referred to in Verse 5 is borne out in Micah 5:2 "He will be born in Bethlehem - the one who has been around from eternity". Eternal is a word closely associated with God's special name, the self-Existent one, sometimes translated as Yahweh or Jehovah or Lord from the Hebrew scriptures. It reflects God's impersonal timelessness. Well, David (Israel's well-loved king) was born in Bethlehem. And Jesus (well-loved friend and Saviour-rescuer of people worldwide) was also born there. Now view the attached link to see the convoluted process over thousands of years, under no one person or group's control, by which our modern calendar came in to being, culminating in its use worldwide over the past 100 years. Through the year number, in countless business and legal transactions, our calendar stamps the year of his coming into the world - this space-time continuum; (and don't the other religions and philosophies grimace - or try to ignore it as irrelevant).

Note, too, Micah 5:1, the people are called to gather together for this man, the Judge of Israel - but one whom enemy soldiers would strike in the face with a rod - see Matthew 27:30 with Isaiah 52:14 also speaking of his startling disfigurement - as it says, gather together in troops while the enemy leader is setting up a siege against them. Unfortunately for many people in Israel, this was not the Roman siege of 70 AD. This would appear to be a coming war.

But when it comes to "Last Day" arguments, we should all be mindful of the last words recorded that Christ spoke to his followers while on earth: "It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father has set within his own authority. But you will receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be of me witnesses, in both Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:7-8

And Paul's words: "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. And if anyone thinks they've got the full picture on anything, they have known nothing — not yet — as they ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one has been known by Him." 1 Cor 8:1-3

Christ's free offer of covering and protection as in a marriage betrothal (being the Saviour and life-giving Spirit) to all those on the earth who will receive him, with all of its responsibilities (towards him) and wonderful benefits, also carries the specific intention of provoking the nation of Israel (his originally intended bride) with a competitive spur (or stimulus) (Romans 11:11).

To quote from two recent movies:
Trinity: This Abrahams. What do you know about him?
Caius: Repton chap. Jewish. … Academically sound. Arrogant. Defensive to the point of pugnacity.
Trinity: Mm. As they invariably are.
Caius: Yet possessing a keen sense of duty and loyalty.
Trinity: Do they say he can run?
Caius: Like the wind.
Master of Trinity and Master of Caius in the 1981 movie "Chariots of Fire"

Julianne: In the beginning it was mostly this prior claim, he belonged to me. But now, when I'm with him, he's just so wonderful. How come I never knew that when I could have had him?
George: It's amazing, the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.
Julie Roberts and Rupert Everett in the 1997 movie "My Best Friend's Wedding"

Romans 11: Verses 25 - 26(a)

Paul, a missionary in the first century AD, wrote these words in a letter to the Christians in Rome:

For I would not, brothers, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own conceits (clever in your plans for yourselves) that a hardening in part has befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles (yourselves and others) has come in (visually, this is like a net being filled with fish); and so (in this way - after that) all Israel shall be saved.

Paul's words act as a real brake on anyone with their own particular empire (whether it's individually or collectively, massive sized group, denomination, city, nation, world religion or whatever) becoming, as they view their own perceived accomplishments, a "big fish".

That just ends up separating them from the other fish, and gradually separates the group or the person or whatever from the anointing - the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. As Peter Cosgrove, recently the Chief of the Defence Force in Australia, says "the only thing that separates high office from low office is you've got further to fall off the pedestal".

It would appear God's focus is yet to return totally to the nation of Israel (that's the time and place that really will become "BIG"). He does have a fixed number of Gentiles in mind:- but all we can know is that it is a very large number. This inevitably involves those entwined mysteries of "free will" and "planned universe". In love, God is not willing that any should permanently perish (by totally and knowingly rejecting his son's offer).

During this time, this "infilling of Gentiles", in 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul said that he didn't want to end up becoming "unapproved", a "reject", a "castaway", as a result of something becoming a particular problem for him. He was a Pharisee, and knew what it was like to be full of pride. He uses a very graphic phrase that, like an athlete, a boxer, "the blow (or buffet) I give my body is just below the eye" - i.e. - my body's going down, and "I then take charge of my body - it is now my servant". Principles of self denial. It seems both humorous and serious at the same time (and personal and necessary).

Note, too, Jacob's wrestling with the man/angel/God (Genesis 32: 24-32), he did not give up, when his hip was disabled his body went down, but he clung on, and would not let go until the blessing came. And the blessing did come. No longer would he be called Jacob, a name that means "rip off merchant", but he received a new name, Israel, a "prince with God" for he was now one who had prevailed. "Become imitators of me as I also am of Christ - the Anointed one", Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 - As his healing anointing has rubbed off on me as I follow him, so - Draw close - Imitate me - enabling that anointing to rub off me on to you.

"The better the poet (performer), the more he imitates, and the more he imitates the less he speaks like a poet (playing a part-hypocrisy)" Tasso on Aristotle's Poetics XXIV, 1562.

With regards to this issue, Jews, Muslims, in fact most people today believe Jesus to have been a very good man, a prophet, but eventually (and sadly) he departed this life, and that was that. They accept his humanity, but totally reject Paul's beliefs with regard to his divinity, his being Lord and healing Saviour, as recorded in the New Testament. Paul's beliefs are strange, complicated, blasphemous, and/or out of date. This story of Jesus physically returning to Earth is simply childish, a Deus ex Machina as the Greeks might have said. Paul, incidentally, would be astounded at his own fame today. Hundreds of millions of people know of his beliefs, even if many don't accept them. He has to have been the most famous Benjaminite ever born, descended as he was from the tribe of Benjamin.

Interestingly, in Genesis 44: 33-34, we see Judah, broken, yet courageous and a man of his word. Joseph, ruler in Egypt, has just demanded that Judah's half-brother Benjamin remain behind in Egypt as his slave. Joseph's heart had doubtless been devastated / broken by the betrayal that had come from his half-brothers, separating him the past 22 years from his father and his natural brother Benjamin. But then, out of love for their father Israel (who has a passionate love for Benjamin the youngest son), Judah seeks from this strange foreign leader permission to take Benjamin's place. He would be living the rest of his life as the man's slave, maybe not a very long life, separated forever from his family. He really was taking on a sentence of death.

As the song says "I will go down with this ship". But this was no grand gesture. Rather, somewhat like the thief on the cross, he felt that the penalty was justly his. It had been his call to guarantee the safety of Benjamin to his father. Accordingly, how could he now, through self-interest, save his own life, and watch his father have a heart attack (or whatever)? He would not watch Israel die. He was just going to cop it sweet. And, in the end, not even once will genuine love be driven off course.

With this heartfelt connection back to his father, Joseph, choking with tears, sends everyone (except these brothers) out of the room, and now reveals himself as their other younger brother, alive, and master of the world (under Pharaoh). But he is going to serve them.

The parallel is amazing. The Jews (who take their name from Judah), though they have been taught all their lives that Jesus was a good, but is now a dead prophet, still, out of love for their father God, a certain number will have no time for this leader coming onto the world stage. He will attract worship and devotion everywhere and his intention will be to wipe out any who will not respond to him in this way. Yes, a latter day Hitler (but many times worse). People's hypocrisy will be clearly visible. And so Jew will break with Jew, and only Jews who reject this coming leader will be seen by the Lord to be truly Israel - to be reunited again as in a marriage contract.

And these people will pray, in humility and, as mentioned before, love for their Father God they will seek to take the place of that youngest brother, that latter day Benjaminite, Paul. On their face before the Lord, just as Paul heard those words "Paul, Paul, why do you persecute me", they too will have the revelation of the Lord Jesus - "They will look upon the one they have pierced, and they will grieve as one grieves for an only son, in bitterness, as one is in bitterness for a firstborn" - Zechariah 12: 7-12. But, He is about to serve them. And what a time that will be.

In the meantime, to summarize

Yes, come, Lord Jesus.

Links: Our Calendar   800 Horsemen   Neighborhood Bully   Jewish Calendar  Evening/Morning Day One

Sing, O Daughter of Zion (Zephaniah 3:14-15, 19-20 KJV)

Sing, O daughter of Zion
Shout, O Israel
Be glad and rejoice with all the heart
O daughter of Jerusalem

The Lord has taken away all thy judgments
He has cast out thine enemy
The king of Israel, the Lord
Is in the midst of thee

Sing, O daughter of Zion
Shout, O Israel
Be glad and rejoice with all the heart
O daughter of Jerusalem

At that time I will undo all that afflict thee
And I will save her that halts
And gather her that was driven out
And get them praise and fame
In the land where they've been put to shame
Says the Lord

And at that time I will bring you again
Even in the time that I gather you
For I will make you a name and a praise among all people
When I turn back your captivity before your eyes
Your eyes, says the Lord

Sing, O daughter of Zion
Shout, O Israel
Be glad and rejoice with all the heart
O daughter of Jerusalem

Song recorded by Jim McCrystal. Used by permission.

Click here to open the song in a separate window.

 

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