The Seventy Weeks

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans- 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. (Daniel 9:1-2 ESV)

One of the worst parts about expounding scripture while not allowing “what men say” to influence that exposition is that there will always be some people who are “offended” or in disagreement with the analysis. I desire to offend no one. I deeply desire to be of use to my Lord in bringing His people into agreement about what His Word says. Therefore, I will continue to simply exposit scripture. As we have moved through Daniel I have tried very hard to look at extra-biblical sources only when necessary. I am very well aware that Daniel 9 is a hot button with some people. However, we must proceed.

Daniel was a very godly man. He was taken to Babylon before Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed Jerusalem. He was a youth who came into the King’s service as his “Prime Minister” because in him was found an excellent spirit. Daniel survived the Babylonian Kings who followed Nebuchadnezzar into the reign of Cyrus the first King of the Medo-Persian Empire. Daniel had a copy of Jeremiah’s prophecy about how long Jerusalem was to remain desolate. He read the part that we call Jeremiah 25:1-14. We will concentrate on vv8-14.

8 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.” (Jeremiah 25:8-14 ESV)

In this passage we read why God allowed the Judeans to go into captivity and that there would be a definite timetable for a restoration of city and nation. The prophecy says that Jerusalem will be desolate and the sons will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. After the seventy years are complete God will punish Babylon. Daniel would have also read Jeremiah 29, which is Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon exhorting them to not rebel, but serve their masters. In v10 we read, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” Daniel was a very sagacious man. He knew His God and believed Him. He knew that the time was nearing for the seventy years to end and also the Persians had conquered the Babylonians.

Daniel was probably in his eighties or even older here. He was not a young man. However, he was a godly man who served His God day and night. His heart yearned for Jerusalem and the restoration of the temple worship. Then he prayed.

3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (Daniel 9:3-19 ESV)

Notice that Daniel humbly comes before the Lord God his maker confessing the sins of the people and agreeing with God that they deserved far worse than they got. Then he prayed for God to turn aside His anger and wrath from the people and Jerusalem appealing not to their own merit but to God’s great mercy. Notice also how he pleaded with God to pay attention and act. He asked Him to not to Delay for His own sake. How often do we pray to God in a wimpy sort of way refusing to plead with Him over things like this? It is not wrong to pray for God to do something for His sake and great name as Daniel did here. Then Daniel got his answer.

20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision. (Daniel 9:20-23 ESV)

Does God answer prayer? Does God love His people? Does God want us to pray in order to know Him and His ways? Yes, yes, and yes! Notice that God greatly loves Daniel. Why is that? Some translations render that statement by Gabriel as, “you are highly esteemed!” It should be deeply ingrained in each of God’s people to serve Him as Daniel did. Those who walk through this life as Spirit-led believers are in this group. Yes, God loves His people, but those who are highly esteemed and used by Him for His glory are those who seek nothing from this life except His glory. Those living like this can take all sorts of abuse and even not seek to “be right” in every discussion, but they will come at others as lions for the sake of their Lord’s glory. Notice also how soon God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer was sent to him. God sent it at the beginning of his pleas for MERCY! He did not demand anything from God for self. He simply wanted to know the truth and for God to be merciful to His people.

24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (Daniel 9:24-27 ESV)

For us to understand this prophecy or vision given to Daniel by Gabriel from God in answer to his prayer for mercy, we must look at some historical data.

605 B.C. – Jeremiah’s prediction of Judah’s captivity. Daniel and others were deported to Babylon after this.

587 B.C. – God’s Word came to Jeremiah promising the rebuilding or re-inhabiting of Jerusalem.

586 B.C. – Jerusalem fell, the first temple was destroyed and most of the remaining Jews were taken to Babylon.

558 B.C. – Cyrus the Great became King of Persia and partnered with Media.

539 B.C. – Cyrus’ general, Gobryas, attacked the Babylonians

538 B.C. – Gobryas defeats Babylon, kills Belshazzar, Daniel received the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy and Cyrus decrees to end Jewish captivity.

536 B.C. – Foundations of the second temple were laid, thus ending the 70 year captivity (605 B.C. to 536 B.C.)

458 B.C. – Artaxerxes’ decrees to rebuild temple.

445 B.C. – Artaxerxes’ decrees to rebuild Jerusalem.

6? B.C. – 33? A.D. Life of Christ

A.D. 70 – Roman General Titus destroys Jerusalem and the temple.

Along with these important dates we must also take a look at the “coming prince” mentioned in v26. This mercurial person is mentioned here in Daniel and in the New Testament. Here are a few cross-references about this coming prince from Daniel 9 (coming prince), 2 Thessalonians 2 (man of sin) and Revelation 13 (the beast from the sea).

Characteristics         Prince         Man of Sin         Beast
Makes Blasphemy
In Temple                     X                     X                     X

Makes Idol                    X                                             X

Demands Worship                               X                      X

Succeeds in Deceiving
With Signs                                             X                     X

Reign of Terror             X                                             X

Empowered by
Satan                                                      X                     X

3 1/2 Year Reign           X                                             X

Persecutes Saints          X                     X                     X

World Ruler             (implied)               X                     X

Destroyed by
Christ at His
Coming                     (implied)               X                      X

The Hebrew term “seven” (shabua’) is used six times in Daniel 9:24-27. In every usage outside of this passage it always indicates a definite period of seven. Gabriel tells Daniel that the period of the prophecy is for seventy “sevens.” Nearly all Biblical Scholars believe this is referring to seventy periods of seven years. Here is the breakdown of what Gabriel told Daniel about the Seventy Weeks. The first period is for Seven sevens v25. These 49 years will begin with a “word to restore and build Jerusalem.” It will end with the coming of an anointed one, a prince. Following this period will be Sixty-two sevens. This is made up of 434 years. During this period the temple and city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt in troubled times. At the end of this period, an anointed one shall be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy Jerusalem and the temple. Then there is another Seven, 7 years, where the prince who is to come will make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. The Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Jesus Christ will take place.

There is a reason for the three separate groups of seven. We cannot jam them together demanding that they be concurrent. No, God separated them into these three groups for a reason. Let’s look at v25 again.

25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. (Daniel 9:25 ESV)

We must determine who sends out the word to restore and build Jerusalem. The time period from that moment to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. That is 49 years. The Hebrew for the “going out of the word” is “dabar.” This is simply a command, not necessarily a royal decree. It comes from someone with the authority to make it happen though. Also, we must not jump to the conclusion that the “anointed one” spoken of here is the Messiah. Scripture speaks of many other “anointed ones.” For instance God called Cyrus himself “His anointed.” When did Cyrus become king of Medo-Persia? That took place in 538 B.C. If we go back 49 years from that date we come to 587 B.C. Look at the chart above. That was when God’s Word came to Jeremiah promising the rebuilding or re-inhabiting of Jerusalem. Who has more authority than God? Then the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem is from God and took place in 587 B.C. through the prophet Jeremiah. 49 years later, Cyrus, God’s anointed, comes to power. This completes the Seven Sevens.

The Sixty-Two Sevens equals 434 years. We cannot simply start counting those years from the end of the Seven Sevens (538 B.C.). The only predictive event for this group of years is, “after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off.” It does not say how long after. There must be a time gap between the seven sevens and the sixty-two sevens, but how long? From this we see that the 490 years are made up of three sets of years that encompass a much longer span of time. What historical events would mark the beginning and ending of the sixty-two sevens then? From the text it would seem that the beginning of the rebuilding of the city walls of Jerusalem would be a good candidate for the beginning event. When was that? Nehemiah requested to go and rebuild the walls in April of 444 B.C. According to Josephus he then went to Babylon to seek volunteers from among the Jews to go with him. He also had to obtain building materials. Josephus tells us that he arrived in Jerusalem in the 25th year of Artaxerxes. That would be 440 B.C. If we then add 434 years to that date we get 6 B.C. Many scholars believe that his is probably the time of the birth of Christ because Herod the Great died in 4 B.C.

So far we have the seven sevens beginning with God’s word to Jeremiah and ending with the crowning of Cyrus the Great. Then there is a gap until 440 B.C. for the beginning of the sixty-two sevens which began with Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem. It ended with the birth of Christ in 6 B.C. These dates are firm and the alignment of the events with the number of years in these first two groups of sevens is too exact to be dismissed lightly.

In v26 we have a summary of what the people of the prince who is to come do to Israel and Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Josephus describes this in horrible detail. Needless to say, the end for Jerusalem came like a flood. However, what about the final seven? We already know that there is a gap between the first seven sevens and the sixty-two sevens. The final seven of the seventy takes place in the future to us. The prince who is to come is the lawless one and the Beast from the sea. In v27 we see that he makes a strong covenant with many for one week. That week is the last seven. Here is a simplistic breakdown of this seven. The first 3 1/2 years will be made up of a covenant between the prince who is to come and Israel. At the end of the 3 1/2 years, he commits the abomination of desolation. This reveals who he is to those who have discernment. Then in the next 3 1/2 years the great tribulation falls upon the world. It is ended with the return of Christ.

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39 thoughts on “The Seventy Weeks

  1. “Does God answer prayer? Does God love His people? Does God want us to pray in order to know Him and His ways? Yes, yes, and yes!”

    God does answer prayer that is in His will and God’s answer may not be quite what we expect.

    The Lord has given me vivid answers to my prayers and humbled me with His power. I am humbled that the Lord hears this speck of dust in this vast universe – and my Lord is much bigger than the universe, – He made the universe!

    I cannot pray but thank my Lord for His bountious grace to me.

    Ro 8:26-27

  2. My Dear Brother ,

    Sadly , I can see you are a victim of ” Dispensational Delusion” like I was for 32 years . Please read Kim Riddlebarger’s Excellent Book on the Proper Understanding of the WHOLE BIBLE ! ” A Case for Amillennialism ” will set you straight just like the REFORMERS Understanding of God’s Big Picture . When will the Contemporary Church finally UNDERSTAND that the CHURCH IS ISRAEL NOW !!! Not that imposter nation in the Mideast . This isn’t ” Replacement Theology” IT IS “FULFILLMENT THEOLOGY” !!! Why continue to walk through life falling for ALL the False Doctrine from the Left-Behind Hucksters ???

    Randy in Scottsdale

  3. Mike – nice work expounding that passage. Sounds like a very consistent approach, as you have been striving for.

  4. Randy,

    I have Kim’s book and I am not a Dispensationalist. I despise what it has done to the church. Where in this exposit of scripture have I done anything dispensationalist?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Randy,

    Why should Mike read Riddlebarger’s book when he is reading the Bible. I have never read the Left Behind books but I have come to the same understanding as Mike by reading my Bible.

  6. Randy,
    I must humbly rebuke you, anytime anyone tells me to read a mans book to understand the Bible a huge red flag goes up. I am a Christian who was saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. I claim no other title like baptist or dispensationalist or any other ist or ism. I am a sinner who was saved by Christ’s finished work on the cross and his resurrection. That being said, I do hold to certain views that are common to dispensationalism, that I feel God led me to through prayer and the reading of His precious word. As far as Mike goes, I know through his previous posts he does not agree with dispensationalism and most people who post here do not as well. Even though our prophecy views differ, I visit this site because I realize that the Lord is using Mike, and Mike is truly devoted to prayerfully studying God’s word. I humbly ask everyone to remember that “dispensationalism” is a huge umbrella with many different view points. So if you encountered a dispensationalist in the past who twisted the scriptures in the past, he/she does not represent everyone whos biblical views may line up the term “dispensationalism”.
    But once again, all I claim is Christ Crucified, Risen, and coming again. All glory, honor, praise, thanksgiving, power and dominion be given to our Lord.

    In Christ,
    Derrick

  7. Derrick,

    Well said brother!

    My argument isn’t with most dispensationalists, but the “progressive dispensationalists” do get me upset because of their teaching of multiple ways of salvation. Other than that, I believe we need to be grounded in God’s Word alone. What men say can never take precedence over His Word.
    In Christ
    Mike Ratliff

  8. Randy,
    Just one question, do you believe that the “body of Christ” in Pauls epistles and the “bride of Christ” in John’s Revelations are the same. I also want to humbly apologize if I was to harsh in the previous email. What a mighty God we serve! How blessed we are that we have the freedom to discuss these issues without persecution. Let’s all pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world who do not share the same freedoms we have and are suffering and being persecuted for their faith in our sovereign Lord.

    In Christ,
    Derrick

  9. Mike,
    Yeah, the progressive dispensationalists have done much damage. All thanks be to God for giving us the ability to clearly discern that salvation is only through Christ our Lord, with no ability or works of our own, but the gift of God, through his calling. Once again brother, I thank the Lord for the way he is using you according to His will. What a priviledge to know Christ!!

    In Him,
    Derrick

  10. Derrick,

    Yes, that is what we should be doing, fellowshipping in Christ. As you said, what a priviledge it is to know Him and what a joy it is to rejoice in Him together. Thank you for the encouragement!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. The reformers were not primarily concerned with eschatology – they were most concerned with soteriology and restoring the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Aside from the fact that they had grown up in an anti-semitic culture and under a religion with an explicitly anti-semitic view of Scripture (Roman Catholicism) and thus were likely to agree with the popular assumption of replacement theology, they were also wholly focused on fighting for the truth of the gospel. Eschatology was at best an aside to them – a topic that if they considered at all, they generally just allowed the (false) teachings of Roman Catholicism to continue along uncontested as that was not their focus.

    See you can misunderstand or not even know about God’s promises to Israel and still be saved. You can’t be saved if you don’t know Jesus Christ and receive the salvation that is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (to the glory of God alone, and as only given in the Bible).

    So while it’s easy to get all up in arms and say, “But Mike if you read X book and believe Y treatise even though it is completely unfounded Scripturally, you’ll be better off than Z rest!”, you can’t argue the reformers as an example of a strong eschatological reference, as it’s simply not a topic they spent a great deal of time studying, and you must remember to keep eschatology in its place.

    Certainly you do not want to find yourself opposite God by being an anti-semite, persecuting the Jews, or standing against Israel, but if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ who out of ignorance does so, at worst you’ll just be that much more humbled when you stand before the throne and still receive His commendation and are welcomed into the presence of your Master anyway. ;)

    God is a gracious and forgiving God and that is why I try not to get too up in arms about eschatology myself even though I have some passion about it. Sure there is a danger that poor or erroneous eschatology can place a Christian opposite God as regards Israel and the Jews, but I believe God is gracious enough to either illuminate the truth to that person or to watch over them in spite of themselves.

    Since it is a topic Randy appears very passionate about, I would recommend for Randy to listen to John MacArthur’s plenary session at the Shepherd’s Conference this year where he lays out the case that in fact the reformers, were they alive today and studying eschatology would (especially in light of the historic events of the last century related to the Jews) most assuredly be pre-millennialists.

  12. Nice study Mike, but is the ESV the best rendition of the Hebrew in vs. 25. It seems to be in the minority with KJV, NKJV, and NAS all wording it that the seven and sixty two weeks occur with the going forth of the commandment as the first bookend, and Messiah the Prince as the final bookend.

    It seems with this rendition that the actual commandment by Cyrus seems to be what was prophesied of as the initial event that kicks off the seventy sevens. Of what use would be a prophecy of something that had already occurred? The context seems to indicate events that will shortly begin to facilitate the goals of vs. 24.

    If we take this “past prophecy” approach about the going forth of the commandment, why not go back to Isaiah’s prophecy in 44:26-45:4 and track down that date? That would actually be the original prophecy that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and the amazing thing was that at the time Jerusalem was still standing.

    Good study, I’m just not sure we can see the seventy weeks as already in progress when Gabe gave the prophecy to Daniel based on your post.

    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
    -The Orange Mailman

  13. Mailman,

    But I was not using the ESV for my study. :-) That is the Hebrew words that I used. Also, to make the scenario “fit” that you used then you have to play games with the dates like using 360 day years, etc.. Whereas between Jeremiah’s prophecy, which Daniel was reading at that moment he was praying, and the crowning of Cyrus is EXACTLY 49 years, which is the first group of sevens.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  14. Good study Mike :-) I was open to listening to amillennialism. I discussed it at length with a man who seems to me to be a dear Christian. I was open to discussing it because of a statement in Peter and a few other things. However, I found through scripture alone that I cannot believe in amillennialism. I made a chart for myself with three columns. One for the current age, one for the millenial age, and one for the eternal age. Often times two columns will have a similarity and the third column will be completely opposite. Example current age we have a sea, millenial age we have a sea, eternal age no sea/ current age life span may reach 100 but we are considered old, millenial age if we die at 100 we are considered young, eternal age we live forever no death. While there are similarities to each of the ages there are very distinct differences. These differences give us the knowledge as to what age we live in now. Currently we do not allow our children to play in a vipers nest nor has this ever happened, not even in the garden (as children were not born yet), but in the millenium children play with vipers! Currently Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We are not in the millenium. The first resurrection is a general resurrection for everyone whose name is written in the book and like Jesus’s resurrection, it will be bodily. My fear for those who are amillenial is that if they believe we are in a millenium of sorts now (possibly the last part of the millenium where satan has been released) that when the anti-christ and false prophet call down fire from heaven the amillenialists may believe that this is God ushering in the eternal age and destoying the ungodly with fire from heaven (which will happen at the end of the millenium). This will be easy to believe if you do not have your order of Christ’s return in order or a biblical understanding of the age orders. I have also noticed that amillenialist like to say that the millenium is only mentioned one place in the bible and then seem to ignore it. The fact is it is mentioned in Revelation 6 times very close together. We are not supposed to add to or take away from Revelation or we will be cursed. We cannot ignore that there will be a thousand year period (millenium), or that Christ will rule bodily on the earth. We need to study our bibles with much prayer.

    Love in Christ,
    Rachel

  15. Rachel,

    The amillennialist allegorises all “prophecy.” Where there are cases we must do that, there are also many cases where we shouldn’t. There seems to be two camps very widely separated. In one camp you have the extreme Dispensationalists and at the opposiste extreme you have the Amillenialists . If we have learned anything in our digging in the Bible isn’t it that the truth is somewhere in the middle? As I dig into the Bible with the help of everyone commenting on these posts, but primarily with God’s help, I have found that we shouldn’t overburnden God’s people with elaborate scenarios that are completley from our suppositions. We must simply state the truth literally where we can. Where it is allegorical or symbolic then we should state that.

    You are right. We must study our Bibles with much prayer.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  16. Mike,

    I agree completely. Some things are symbolic, some things are straight forward. The bible is absolute truth and not everthing is hidden or we would have no absolutes to go by. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to understand the truth of His Word. Once we know the truth, we cannot go back to not knowing. We should not burden God’s people with elaborate scenarios. However, once we do see something and know it is truth, we should not hide it. I am reminded of the reformers. We can all be comforted that the elect will not be deceived period. God is good! Amen.

    Love in Christ,
    Rachel

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  18. On the other hand, Randy, I would recommend you stick with Kim Riddlebarger’s book and just see what John MacArthur had to say on the subject at the Shepherd’s conference. It costs a few bucks but helps to see how faulty dispensationalism is. He doesn’t claim to be a dispensationalist but instead a premillennialist, however, because he feels that God has a special purpose for the natural nation of Israel which is separate from the “Church” he is a dispensationalist. His theology on the end times is faulty and an unbiblical which completely surprised me since most of his other sermons are pretty good, however, he isn’t as extremely mainline of a dispensationalist like Charles Ryrie and Lewis Chafer etc. Dispensationalism effects not only End Times doctrine but your doctrine from beginning to end….here is a post of I what I mean.

    http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/06/dispensationalism_and_the_ecli_1.php

    Mike, this is hard stuff to go through but worth it. God bless you in your studies and teachings! You’re in my prayers!

  19. Rachel: You’re right, I forgot about the danger amillennialists face from the AntiChrist because they will be swayed to believe it is the real Christ since they think they’re already in some sort of millennial reign of Christ. Sad. We can pray for them though.

    And while Dr. MacArthur isn’t perfect, and though I disagree with some of his eschatology (particularly regarding the rapture), at least he has a solid grasp of premillennialism, which is the only Biblical approach to eschatology one can arrive at when using an consistent hermeneutic and not playing games with spiritualizing passages the way amillennialists do. Even a-mill authors agree on that point – that if you maintain a consistent hermeneutic in your exegesis, you will develop a premillennial interpretation of the eschatology in Scripture.

  20. And a fair warning: You will likely uncover a level of gnosticism/enlightenment theology in the amillennial camp if you try to debate eschatology with them. This because it generally requires someone who believes they have extra revelation or superior intellect that has allowed them to decide when they should take a deviant approach to their interpretation of Scripture, instead of remaining consistent in their exegesis.

    We all must be careful: When you stray from taking God’s Word at face value, you are straying from believing Him at his word or that He is capable of fulfilling his prophecies literally, and that opens up the door to error and deception because you are doing as Sarah did in the OT when she, through lack of faith, tried to “help God out” by offering her maidservant Hagar to Abraham, thinking she was providing a way to help God fulfill his promise to give them an heir to the promise. We see the dire result of her faithless act even today in Islam and the constant fraternal struggle of Isaac/Ishmael, Jacob/Esau with the Jews/Muslims today. The consequences of our sins of unbelief can be dire indeed. Let us be careful not to think too little of our great God and believe in his sovereign ability to act as He has said He will.

  21. Sarah,
    I sadly say you don’t even understand what dispensationalism means. If your gonna rail against it so vehemently use scripture not some website where the man relates his “experience” to one very shallow dispensational view.
    Mike,
    One question, if you see that 69 of Daniel’s seventy weeks have already come to pass, and that the 70th week will be the tribulation. Realizing that the 70 weeks are prophesized for Israel, how do you think that those today that are saved are Israel. Why the 2000 year gap? If we are Israel there should have been many more weeks prophesized for Israel.
    Next question, I still would like to know if you differentiate between the “bride of Christ” and the”body of Christ”.
    If my tone was in any way harsh, I apologize. All glory, honor and praise to our Lord!
    In Christ,
    Derrick

  22. Actually, Wake, dispensationalism didn’t come about until the 1800′s so it’s a relatively new doctrine…I would have to call new truth an old lie. I am amill and I don’t believe in any revelation outside of the Bible and the way that I interpret Scripture is the way it’s been done by 2000yrs of reformed believers.

    Derrick,
    I have my own website concerning dispensationalism at http://sjonee.wordpress.com/ which uses Scripture. I haven’t written on it for awhile as I’m taking a well earned break. I just thought his post was a good short overview on how dispenationalism effects one’s doctrine through and through. I certainly won’t start a debate here on Mike’s peaceful site. I should have kept my mouth shut in the first place.

  23. Derrick,
    Who is redeemed by the blood of Christ? Whoever that is is the bride of Christ. How did people become “saved” in the Old Testament? How did they come to “know God?” We must remember that YHWH, Yaweh, is the creator who is the Son who is Christ. He is the I Am of Moses and the Word of John. Abraham was justified by faith. He believed God and it was accounted to Him as Righteousness. How did you get saved? Wasn’t it the same way? Abraham believed the promises of God. You believed the promises of God fulfilled in Christ. The only difference between O.T. and N.T. saints is that we know that our redemption is through the blood of Christ. But it was Christ’s blood through which Abraham was justified as well. My theology is Covenant Theology. I see the line of believers going back to Adam and extending into the future to the end of time. I see no break in (spiritual) Israel and the (invisible) Church. I see different covenants though. The Old Covenant was fulfilled in Christ and replaced with the New Covenant. However, there was no replacing of the Abrahamic Covenant with Israel. I believe that New Testament saints are the body of Christ while the bride of Christ are all believers. That may sound weird and I am open to correction on this because I am still working this out. That is why I can’t answer your question about the gap…yet. However, I do believe that the gap is “This Age” which started with the coming of Christ and extends through the Tribulation. This will be followed by “The Age to Come.”

    I pray for patience. I am no eschatology expert. I know how to study the Bible and how to exposit scripture. That is what I have been doing over the last month or so on these passages in the Bible about it. When I started I made up my mind to not allow any “models” to influence the exegetical studies of the passages. I want what I write here to simply be expositions of scripture that God speaks through to each heart.

    I have a question for you though. If there is a difference between O.T. and N.T. believers then why can Paul and other N.T. writers use the O.T. saints as examples for us. Why the hall of faith in the book of Hebrews if their faith is different than ours? Why did Moses and Elijah meet with Christ on the Mt. of Transfiguration? We are all one body of believers.

    I believe Jacob’s Trouble will be used by God to remove the blindness from the Jews and bring them to belief as a Remnant. Does that make me a dispensationalist? I don’t think so. I think that God will honor the Abrahamic Covenant because He keeps His covenants even when men don’t.
    In Christ
    Mike Ratliff

  24. “Actually, Wake, dispensationalism didn’t come about until the 1800’s”

    Actually Sara, I never discussed dispensationalism, but that’s cute of you to try to spin the discussion back that way while addressing your response to me, even though I never discussed dispensationalism.

    The concept of premillennialism is what I discussed, which on a different plane of eschatology than dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is opposite covenentalism, as republican is opposite democrat, and premillennialism is opposite a-mill and post-mill (that last grouping could be called a three-party system lol).

    And pre-millennialism is as old as the Scriptures themselves. Aside from the words of Jesus and his followers as recorded in the Bible, even the early church fathers wrote affirming that the correct interpretation of Scripture includes the expectation of a literal future millennial reign of Christ on Earth. And if you listened to MacArthur’s message that you bashed, you heard him quote the church fathers affirming the elements of premillennialism.

    Yes, there is the spiritual part of the kingdom that has come – that is our spiritual regeneration via the Holy Spirit. But just as we have not yet received our resurrected physical bodies, Christ also has not yet come to setup his physical literal kingdom. The kingdom is accomplished in two parts, which is why He has two comings: the first to initiate the spiritual kingdom (via his death & resurrection and the subsequent coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell) as He foretold when He spoke about the kingdom at his transfiguration, and the second coming to initiate the physical kingdom as foretold througout the OT and NT.
    This just as we have two parts – spiritual and physical and as believers have had our spiritual component regenerated by the Holy Spirit but not yet our physical (hence all of Paul’s writings in Romans and throughout the NT discussing the dichotomy of our sinful flesh and the Holy Spirit indwelling us).

    Now if you want to take the ~1600 years of Catholic anti-semitic doctrine that began within a couple hundred years of the closing of the canon up through around 1800, and claim that as your source for a-millennialism, go right ahead, because you’d be correct: It’s a doctrine of replacement theology that seeks to deny God’s literal fulfillment of his promises and it was created to be such by the early Roman church that sought to translate the punishment of the Jews from the Roman political system into ithe state religion. Once Christianity became the religion of the state, it was encouraged to view the Scriptures through the anti-semitic lens of the popular politic of the day. It also helped that the majority of the people could not read and did not have access to the Scriptures themselves – that much easier to control the masses and influence them into anti-semitic views that the government wanted to encourage.

    And there are two very good reasons why that doctrine lost steam in the 1800s: The first was the printing of personal copies of the Bible and the growth of literacy. People began to study the Word themselves and could plainly see that what they were being taught by the ‘church’ about the Jews was not what they read in the Bible. Even simply what Christ taught regarding loving your neighbors and even your enemies didn’t jibe with the anti-semitic attitudes found in a-mill theology.
    The second was the Jews beginning to return to their land (which began in the mid to late 1800s). People began to review eschatology – was this something spoken about in the Bible? Eschatology was something left to the side for most of those ~1600 years because the Bible was inaccessible and it was simply accepted by rote that the Jews were forsaken by God and the Church was some superior class of beings that now take as their own the promises promised to be literally fulfilled with the Jews – oh but not the curses pronounced upon the Jews in the same passages that have come upon them and been fulfilled literally.
    From the beginning of the Roman Catholic church up through the time of the reformers almost no one knew and few cared to know otherwise, and then even the reformers were too busy with soteriology and defending the true gospel to be very concerned with eschatology.

    So in the 1800s people began to notice that the Jews were still around – still a distinct people group, persecuted yet surviving unlike any other – wow there’s got to be a reason for that – and what’s more they were starting to return to the land God had promised them. It would be hard to find a better reason to start reviewing eschatology than seeing prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, no?

    We are not yet in the millennial kingdom, friend, but that is a future literal, physical reign of Christ that has prerequisites, such as Christ returning (literally) to set up his kingdom and destroy the final Anti-Christ (also literal). It will be for 1,000 years (hence the term “millennial”), before this earth passes away (again literally) and the new earth is created (again literally) which is to be the home of the righteous in the new Jerusalem that will come down to it from Heaven to be where we will be with Christ eternally. Even a-mill authors admit that this view (pre-mill, that is) is the correct interpretation of Scripture when a consistent exegesis is used, and there is no good logical reason to be anything but consistent with our treatment of the Word given by an immutable God. (There’s also the obvious note that there’s no reason for such incredible descriptive detail and measurements to be in used to prophetic passages to describe places and events if they’re simply figurative.)

    So please don’t mix pre-millennialism with dispensationalism as they are regarding two different aspects of eschatology just as covenantalism and a-mill are, though certainly those pairs can go hand-in-hand and often do. And you might want to review just where a-mill doctrine comes from.
    You’re welcome to believe what you want but there is only one truth (God’s Word) and when it is taken consistently and at face value it is quite obvious we are not yet in the millennial kingdom. Then again, even turning on the TV (not that I recommend that) can just as easily tell you that.

    Regards.

  25. Mike,
    Christ’s blood was shed for every believer O.T. and N.T. In 31 years I have never met a
    “dispensationalist” who believed otherwise, that is what is so shocking about all these viscious attacks on dispensationalists. I’ve heard about progressive disp. but never met one. This is what I believe in a nutshell. I was a totally depraved sinner who deserved hell, by God’s election He called me and the Holy Spirit convicted me, through the Holy Spirit’s prompting I believed that my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ died on the cross as a propitiation for my sins and rose again so that I also will have eternal life. I was saved by faith alone, by God’s marvelous grace alone (not by anything I did) in Christ alone. I believe that God’s word is inerrant and man is errant. When I study my Bible I pray for understanding. I will never call myself a dispensationalist (though I hold some of their views) I will never call myself a baptist ( though I attend a small independant baptist church because it is one of the only churches in town who will preach the word of God) I will never call myself reformed or a calvinist(though I agree with nearly all of the tulip, except I have different view than that of limited atonement. Don’t worry I am not a universalist ! And I disagree with the amill viewpoint) The only thing I would call myself is a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace through my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s finished work. It amazes me how many people say they are sola scriptura but then they say hey you got read this man’s book about amillenialism or some other biblical subject, I reject that, all I want to do is read the Bible, you can tell me hey read these verses in the Bible and I will. Sorry I started to ramble, I believe that every one is saved by faith in God both ot and nt saints, I believed Christ’s atonement was for both ot and nt saints. I do not believe that I am a part of Israel, I believe that God’s prophetic plan for the nation of Israel was halted when Paul came on as a steward for the dispensation(pauls word not mine-check your bible)of Grace in which all truly saved Christians are a member of the body of Christ and their is no Jew nor Greek. Pauls mystery which was not known of by the men of old (prophets),
    therefore you see the gap between the 69th and Seventieth week, also notice nebuchadnezzars statue. Obviously there have been some huge empires between the iron ankles and feet of iron and clay. I humbly think that when God prophetically deals with Israel he deals on a national level, in this age of Grace he deals individually. (I.E. With Israel there is always a physical temple, with us in the age of Grace, our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit). But don’t get me wrong in a sense obviously he deals individually with people in the Old testament as well. Well I could go on but it is late, and I fear my thoughts are starting to get scattered. What an awesome God we serve!! All glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord!

    In Christ,
    Derrick

  26. “Pauls mystery which was not known of by the men of old (prophets),
    therefore you see the gap between the 69th and Seventieth week, also notice nebuchadnezzars statue. Obviously there have been some huge empires between the iron ankles and feet of iron and clay. I humbly think that when God prophetically deals with Israel he deals on a national level, in this age of Grace he deals individually.”

    Interesting, Derrick. Good post, btw.

    I think it can be stated without hesitancy that the church is the mystery the prophets in the OT did not understand. It is what occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy – between the two comings of Christ. Daniel’s prohpecy describes the 70 weeks God would be dealing with the Jews regarding the Messiah. 69 weeks until his coming (some say it lines up with his triumphal entry, others to his birth, still others his resurrection – but regardless of which aspect of his first coming it exactingly lines up with, the 69 weeks were unto the coming of the Christ, This is also why anyone’s claims to be the Messiah after that time are automatically false – the prophecy could only have been fulfilled during Jesus’ time).

    God’s salvific dealings directly with Israel will resume again after the fullness of the Gentiles has been brought in, which will likely coincide with the beginning of the 70th week (or may overlap).

    To be clear, this is not to say the salvation for Israel is any different than ours – all are the same new covenant faith, it is simply that He gave prophecies that He would specifically deal with Israel in distinct ways and would restore them spiritually in the end times as part of his demonstrated steadfast love for them. In other words their eyes will be opened from spiritual blindness just like ours were, and they will look on Jesus Christ and realize He is their Messiah just like we do, and they will repent and believe in Him, just as we do. It is just as you said, Derrick – it is done at a national level (though still individuals being saved obviously, just that it will occur for a great number of them at once). Picture a true revival that sweeps a nation, if you will.

    Certainly Jews (though relatively few) are saved today into the new covenant just like anyone else, but God gave prophesies in several places that in the end times He would pour out his spirit on them in a unique way to save a great number of them.

    As He upholds all things and patiently endures sin for the moment so that many might be saved, He also upholds his promises to Israel that will keep her through to the end and then restoration spiritually and then physically when Christ sets up his kingdom – the kingdom with the RIGHT king on the throne – not a man on the throne but ‘God made man’ – the Messiah Jesus – the consequences of their sin of coveting and desiring a fleshly king like their neighbors will be complete as the righteous king will finally reign over them.

    God has allowed them to reap what they sowed but soon He will come again and show them how it would have been if they’d just obeyed him. That’s the whole point – God’s way is best. Obedience. And with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, finally freed from the bondage of sin, praise God we can obey!

  27. Derrick and Wake,

    Then I guess you haven’t met my brother or Charles Ryrie or Zane Hodges. :-)

    However, it is refreshing that you two have both stated that our brethren are both O.T. and N.T. saints. Can’t wait to meet Moses. As you both know, I believe God will keep the Abrahamic Covenant. Christ has fulfilled the Law, the O.T. There is no need to go back to forms and shadows when we have Christ.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  28. Yes, it is the new covenant. The old covenant was kept by the same faith that the new one is (faith in God – in their case faith that God would send a Redeemer, in our case faith that God did send a Redeemer – Jesus God’s own Son), but the new one is better (hence why it was made) in that (among other things) God dwells in man to enable obedience and direct communion with God through Jesus Christ. No longer via a high priest once a year, but through the Great High Priest continually interceding on our behalf! This is such a wonderful message for a Jew whom God has mercifully called and enabled to receive it. Just another aspect of why it is such good news and why the book of Hebrews is such a powerful apologetic.

    That’s the beauty of passages like Ezekiel 36 which speaks specifically about the new covenant being realized literally for the Jewish people (a prophecy with a still future literal fulfillment, with references to being brought into the land, something irrelevant to the church). It is beautiful because there is also an application for the church – for the new covenant believers during our time that is a mystery to the Jewish prophets. The application is found in the parts of the description that are shared in our new covenant faith as well:

    (quoted from v26-27) “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    “I will put My Spirit within you…”

    That is true of us as well! It is the same new covenant faith, so of course it’s applicable. And yet to the Jew oh my how much more vivid and poignant this passage must be – the promises will be fulfilled and God will be faithful though man, even his chosen nation Israel, is not.

    Try to place yourselves in their shoes during the old covenant hearing this prophecy. God is telling you there’s going to be a new covenant and it’s going to be amazing because God is going to do the ‘doing’ because as the old covenant demonstrated, man cannot atone for his sins, he needs the blood of another, and man cannot of his own volition stop sinning, hence the need for continual atonement under that covenant. But now, God is going to change all of that and the Redeemer will come – the one who the old covenant sacrifices pointed to – and He will perfect us (as we know He lived the perfectly obedient life we cannot and died to pay for the eternal wrath of God we would need to spend eternity paying for ourselves).

    All of the “I will”s by God in this passage recall those two powerful words “But God” that we see throughout Scripture related to salvation where God is making it clear it is His doing. We see all of these “I will”s and we see in NT passages like 1 Cor 3:7 and Eph 2:4, “But God”. We were lost and without hope – BUT GOD. What humbling words and yet what joyous words!

    I think I most look forward to meeting two types of people in heaven: The OT men of faith who walked out in faith in circumstances that would have overwhelmed me with doubt or fear. Men like Daniel and Job and even Abraham when he took Isaac to be sacrificed.
    And the other group are the brothers and sisters over the centuries that I’ve never heard about but who God enabled to stand just as firmly in faith when they were enduring persecution or in dangerous circumstances.
    I look forward to praising God with them for the work He did through them.

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