John Bradshaw - Time Prophecies That Point to Our Day
We are so glad that you have joined us. I am your host, Joseph Ikner. And this is Answers In Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. Sometimes people think that prophecies are not relevant to this day, that that's something that's antiquated or out of date. But today, John is going to tackle this very important subject about "Time Prophecies That Point to Our Day". That's the right-here-and-now, so you have joined on the right day. Go grab your friends and your family and join us for Answers In Prophecy.
Welcome back to Answers In Prophecy, brought to you by It Is Written. I am your host, Joseph Ikner. And I'm so glad that our presenter, John Bradshaw, is with us today. John, how are you?
— Hey, doing great. How about yourself?
— Hey, I'm doing pretty good. And I'm glad to be here.
— Hey, what have you enjoyed so far about this series, Answers In Prophecy?
— You know what, you know what, I think I can say this pretty safely: I love getting into the Bible and opening it up and seeing it work. I love seeing the lights come on. I like to be able to say, "Oh, this is clear". In the Bible, someone wrote that we have not believed, or they have not believed, "cunningly devised fables". This is real, they said. And as you open up the Bible and turn from page to page and focus on what we've been focusing on, it's real. That's what I love about it.
— Okay, so today we're gonna be talking about a very interesting subject, "Prophecies That Point to Our Day".
— Ugh, John, there's been so many prophecies that have said that the world is gonna come to an end, all these different type of things are going to happen, and they've all failed. I've got one in my mind right now.
— What's that?
— Can you read what I'm thinking?
— Yeah. Um... Mayan calendar.
— There it is.
— No, really?
— All right.
— So, December 21st, 2012. They said that the world was gonna end, that the earth was gonna be hit by another planet. And that was gonna be it. Well, December 21st, 2012, came. And we're still here.
— We're still here.
— You got one?
— Yeah. Um... Ooh, I don't wanna talk about anybody in particular, so I won't mention a name. But a few years ago, somebody, who now passed away, you know, started talking about how judgment day was gonna take place. This was just a few years ago. And it became news in the United States and other parts of the world. And I think the reason was not because people believed it, but because people love to see a good train wreck. And this was always gonna end bad. Jesus was clear: You can't know the date or the hour. People kinda squirm out of that by saying things like, "You know, well, we're not predicting the day, we're not predicting the hour, but..." You know, but, leave it; just don't go there. Don't try to be cleverer than God, who said, "I'm not gonna tell you when". So that's one; that generated a lot of publicity here. And it didn't work out well. It doesn't reflect well on the Bible, doesn't reflect well on the church, doesn't make Christians look clever, makes them look a little stupid, to be honest with you. So yeah, there's that; there's many, a lot of predictions, a lot of forecasts.
— So if there have been so many predictions, so many different forecasts, so many different prophecies, calendars, people saying the world is gonna end here, Jesus is coming there, Jesus is here, and yet none of those things have happened, then how can we be so sure that these prophecies that you're gonna talk about today in your presentation, that point us to our day, really are true?
— Oh, yeah, that's a great question. We're gonna be careful to stay very biblical. Everybody says that. We're gonna make sure we stay within the parameters that are outlined by the Bible and by God. But everybody says that.
— But one thing that we're not gonna do is make predictions about when or even where. We're going to look at time prophecies that were placed into the Bible, periods of time of prophetic importance, real prophetic importance. We'll look to the events that they speak to, but we aren't gonna get onto that real thin ice of "this talks about the day Jesus is gonna come back" or "the day..." No, we know it's not smart to go there.
— So you're not gonna give us not one prophecy about when?
— There are no prophecies about exactly when. They just don't exist in the Bible, and the people who put their hand up and say, "I can tell you when; turn with me in your Bible," you oughta turn your back, because it's not legitimate. Sometimes we get a little too clever for our own good, try to prove a little too much. There's no need to. If we stay with just what's clear in the Book, that's plenty.
— Come on, John. You're not gonna try your hand in just one? Just one?
— It would be the end if I did.
— You know, we'll look at good stuff, time prophecies; you can lay 'em out, certain events that took place, but we're gonna be careful to stay within the Bible and not add to the Bible. That's not difficult to do.
— So if I listen to your message today, do you think that I'm gonna come away believing that the Bible is true?
— 100%. You can look at the way certain things have been fulfilled, the way certain predictions have been made. This is the one thing about the Bible; this is a verifiable book; it's verifiable. And so you can lay things out and say, "Did it happen the way God said it was gonna happen"? And when you see God says A, B, and C, and that's how it plays out, that's gotta grow your faith, strengthen your trust in a God who knows what He's talking about, and clearly cares about people like you and me.
— Mmm. I'm interested to see what your angle is gonna be on this message.
— Yeah, good.
— I can't wait for it. And I hope that you feel the exact same way. So, John, today is going to bring us the message "Time Prophecies That Point to Our Day". Go get your family and friends that are in your home, settle in the living room, get on your couch. Wherever you are, you want to hear this message John is gonna share with us just now. John?
— Thank you very much, Joe. Thank you. And thank you. Really glad you've joined us for Answers in Prophecy. You know, this time we're gonna start by doing something a little different. That is, we've had six presentations so far, and I know there are a lot of questions. And so we're gonna take the opportunity to answer some questions, review some of what we've looked at. To help me with that, I have asked my friend Doug Na'a to join me and ask the questions. Doug, thanks so much for joining me. Good to have you here.
— Hey, John, it's good to be here with you again on Answers In Prophecy. And we've got some good questions. Here's the first one: "People talk about Jesus' soon coming. They preach about it. They sing about 'Jesus is coming soon.' How soon is soon"?
— We don't know. And that's really as simple as it is. We know, that based on the signs in Matthew chapter 24, His coming has got to be soon. And Jesus said we could know when it is near. But how near is near? We don't know. Nearer than when we first believed. But in all honesty, we could speculate. That's probably not wise for me to do that, and I wouldn't want to, but it's okay to talk among your friends and your family and say, "How long do you think"? But other than that, we just don't know, other than He's coming back soon.
— "If God puts leaders in place, and He takes them down, as the Bible says, then does this mean that God has a candidate in the election or any election that He prefers"?
— You know, it really does not mean that. What it means is that God is gonna work through election results, and God is going to allow things to happen that will not ultimately get in the way of God working out His perfect plan. Now, in the Bible, He described Nebuchadnezzar as His "servant". That's because Nebuchadnezzar would ultimately perform, do what God wanted done. He said the same thing about Cyrus, who led the armies that put down the kingdom of Babylon. So would we say that Barack Obama was God's servant? Donald Trump was God's servant? Jimmy Carter? Or, go all the way back to John Adams or George Washington...were these God's servants? I don't think we need to say, "Well, God hand-picked them, made sure they got in there". But it's God's hand that is over, or under, or around, any nation or any kingdom. And it's ultimately going to work out His purpose. Part of that is because God knows human nature. Part of that is because God knows how people react and what they do in certain situations. But here's what it means. Irrespective of who wins an election, it will not frustrate the purposes of God. And God will work through that kingdom, or that administration, to make sure that His purposes are ultimately done.
— Here's another question: "Why did God make it so hard for people to understand the prophecies in the book of Revelation"?
— That's a really good question. My answer is: What do you mean, "Why did God make it so hard"? If you open up the book of Daniel, Daniel becomes rather self-explanatory. If you open up the book of Revelation, Revelation, kind of the same. Now, I'll grant you, you get into some of the prophecies in Revelation, and they're a little obscurer, a little harder to sift through, and there are some things that mystify us. But let's keep this in mind: The overarching themes, we get them; the main points, we understand them; the big questions, we can answer them. You know what I mean by that. So when you take the Bible, the book of Revelation, for example, read through, and if all you did, if all you did was act on what was abundantly clear to you, you'd be fine. One of the reasons there are signs and symbols is because God wants us to study, to think, to fire up the old gray matter. And He wants us to know that we really don't understand anything without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not merely a textbook. It's not simply an academic pursuit, even though there is enough academia in the Bible to satisfy the most illustriously educated people. The Bible is a spiritual book. So I look at the Bible and I say, "Oof! what's that about"? My response is then to say, "God, guide me; Lord, show me. Heavenly Father, lead me, Holy Spirit, grow and enhance my understanding". No, no, there are some things that are a little challenging, but if you get into the Bible, if you will lay aside your preconceived ideas, if you will allow the Bible to interpret itself, and then go with what you see, you're gonna say, "This isn't as hard to understand as many people have said it is".
— Here's another question, John: "Have any Bible prophecies been found to be wrong"?
— No, none, not a one. Nobody can point to a Bible prophecy inspired by God and say, "This didn't work out. God said this would happen, and it didn't". That has never happened, which means we can have implicit faith in the Bible.
— "Now, when it comes to Bible prophecy, now, why is it in God's Word that God gave the prophecy of Daniel chapter 2, and then again in Daniel chapter 7, when the information is very similar"?
— You know, that's a good question. And here's the reason: In Daniel chapter 2, you have the image made of the various metals, and it represents nations. Over in Daniel chapter 7, Daniel had a dream; he saw animals representing various nations. But in Daniel chapter 7, we see something. Point number one, repetition deepens impression. Very clearly, if God was gonna give us much the same information, two different ways through two different people, a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had, a dream that Daniel had, God is underscoring that this is really, really important. But what we've got is the principle of repeat and enlarge, repeat and enlarge. Daniel chapter 2 gives us the information. Daniel chapter 7 repeats it, basically. Daniel 8 even gives us more information along that line, but elaborates on it, gives us more, Daniel 8 the same. So God gives us a foundation in Daniel 2, Daniel 7, we build on that foundation, as you go through Daniel, and then Revelation, you build even more.
— "Now, you know, in the Bible, John, you've preached about it concerning the signs of the times. How do we know that they actually apply to today? Y'know, there have been famines and pestilences and so on since just after Creation, so how do we really know"?
— Yeah, good question. Well, in Matthew chapter 24, when Jesus was talking about this, He said these are like birth pains. He said, "These are the beginnings of sorrows". So just like birth pains become more frequent and more intense the closer we get to the arrival of the baby, that's how these signs that Jesus spoke of are. They become more frequent, more intense, heralding the imminent arrival of Jesus. That's why we understand that the famines and the pestilences and the earthquakes really are speaking about this day.
— "Now, people have been saying, 'We need hope for the future.' And I believe that, you know, but it's hard for some people to have hope. We've been talking about hope for years, but things are not getting any better. So, what would you say"?
— I would say, hang in there. Hang in there. Things seem dark? Hang in there. Things seem difficult? Hang in there. I'll tell you what, one day our time on this world is gonna be gone. And if you've hung on to God, you've got through, and you will have said, "Hey, I made it through. It was difficult, but I made it through". You know? It's like when you're in PE class in school, and you gotta run around the field a few times or do the exercises in the gym, and you know, you'll make it through. So when it comes to hope, I would say this: Look beyond your circumstances. Look beyond your surroundings. Look towards the God in heaven, our Father in heaven, and know that He is constant. He is good. We can trust in Him. There is absolute hope, because Jesus is coming back soon. Thank you. Thank you, Doug, I appreciate it very much. Appreciate the questions. Good to have you here.
— Good to be here.
— Well, let's pray. And we'll get into our subject tonight. You are gonna enjoy this. Let's pray together.
Our Father in heaven, we ask Your blessing. We seek Your face. We pray that You would guide us by Your Holy Spirit. Let Your Word be living, alive, powerful, and be present with us as we look at what the Bible says to us. In Jesus name' we pray. Amen.
You know, mathematics was never my best subject in school. Well, in primary school or elementary school, sure. But that's pretty basic stuff. Once I got to high school, it was another matter altogether. Now, in the 10th grade, math was still a compulsory subject, but in the 11th grade, it was optional. I remember going to math class at the start of the school year when I was in 11th grade. The teacher was Mrs. Cargo, and she was all right. But I really didn't care much for what she was saying. I have no idea what it was at the time, but I remember thinking to myself, "I've got to get out of here". Which isn't especially easy to do. So I became creative and I asked Mrs. Cargo for permission to go and see the dean, Mrs. Schneider. I told her there was something I absolutely needed to talk to Mrs. Schneider about. And Mrs. Cargo, God bless her, agreed. It was very plausible, being as the school year was still brand new. And off I went. You know, I don't remember if I ever even went to see the dean, but I do remember that I never went back to Mrs. Cargo's math class.
As far as I know, she might even still be there waiting for me to show up. You know, I was very much into adding and subtracting and multiplication and squaring and square roots. But high school, high school introduced me to sine, and cosine, and tangent, trigonometry, and then algebra. I have noticed that if you say algebra "al-gebra," it kinda sounds like a terrorist organization. I mean, finding X isn't a problem sometimes: 3x + 1 is 10. Well, if 3x + 1 is 10, then x is 3. That's straightforward. But get beyond that, and it can be a little more challenging. Once you know trigonometry and algebra, you're ready for calculus, which is used by people who do important things, engineers and scientists. To me, calculus sounds like a really good reason to study, like, English, or history, or economics. But start reading the Bible, and you find that in the Bible God uses mathematics to point us to some absolutely vital things that impact us directly down here in the latter days of this earth's history, and what God points us to offers us hope.
So let's look in our Bible in Daniel chapter 1. Jerusalem is destroyed. Daniel and his friends are taken captive. They're marched off to Babylon, which is about 500 miles in a straight line from Jerusalem. Daniel is offered the kings' delicacies to eat. The Bible says that they brought "some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, young man in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans". The Babylonians were advanced. So Daniel was gonna get quite an education. When Daniel got there, they were already using quadratic equations, squares and square roots, cubes and cube roots.
Remember, this is more than 2,500 years ago, and the Babylonians, when Daniel got there, they had already divided the hour into 60 minutes and the circle into 360 degrees. They'd been marking and recording eclipses, and their records of those eclipses way back then are still useful today. They built arches and bridges without steel. Now, on the other hand, they were as advanced in paganism as they were in mathematics...maybe more so. The Babylonians practiced astrology and magic, and I don't mean sleight of hand. These guys weren't pulling rabbits out of hats. They practiced divination. And all of this was tied up in demonism. They were idol-worshipers. They worshiped the sun in Mesopotamia, where Babylon was located. When Daniel arrived there, the king changed his name from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Daniel means "God is my judge". But the king gave Daniel a pagan name, indicative of his intention for Daniel to represent Babylon and the values of Babylon, to take on the philosophies of Babylon, and to advance Babylon's cause. But Daniel remained faithful. He wouldn't even eat the king's food, even risking his life to honor God. He did so, and God honored Daniel.
That was Daniel 1. In Daniel 2, the king has a vision, in which he sees a statue made of various metals. The head of it was made of gold. Then it was made from silver and bronze and iron, and the feet, partly of clay and partly of iron. The king couldn't remember what the dream was. So he ordered his counselors to tell him what it was that he dreamed, and what the dream meant. They couldn't. And when he sentenced them to death, Daniel and his friends prayed that God would give them understanding of the king's dream, and by doing so, spared their lives. Daniel explained to the king that the king's dream represented the rise and the fall of nations. Babylon would pass away. There would be four great nations. Turns out they were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, then Rome would divide into 10 nations, and then Jesus would return to the world.
That's Daniel 2. In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar has that image he dreamed of made out of gold...90 feet high it was...that's a lot of gold. He orders everyone to worship the image. The head of gold became the whole thing of gold. "My kingdom will never pass away," he was saying. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down. The king threatened to have them executed if they didn't worship the golden image, but they still refused to dishonor God. They were cast into a burning fiery furnace. But Jesus stood with them in the fire, and they weren't harmed at all. Their hair wasn't even singed. And their clothing didn't even take on the smell of smoke. In Daniel chapter 4, the king's pride: "Is this not great Babylon that I have built"? The king's pride sees him sent by God to spend time living in a wilderness, seven years. He lost his mind. But when his mind was restored, he turned his life toward the God of heaven. God was honored. Nebuchadnezzar was saved; we'll see him in heaven. Daniel is a book of salvation.
Daniel 5, the writing was on the wall. Belshazzar the king took the holy worship vessels that had been stolen from the temple in Jerusalem and used them in false worship. That night, Babylon fell, and the Medo-Persians took the city and the kingdom. And in Daniel 6, Daniel finds himself in a lions' den. A cruel, unjust setup saw Daniel sentenced to die because of his faithfulness to God. But when he was cast into the lion's den, the Bible says that God "sent His angel and shut the lions' mouth". Daniel was faithful, he wouldn't budge, and God delivered him. So you see that, with the exception of Daniel 2, the other five chapters in the first part of Daniel, chapter 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6, those are really stories. Those stories, historical accounts, have prophetic relevance.
Daniel 1: Be faithful to God, even if your life is on the line; do the right thing and look after your health. Look after your body, and God will prosper you spiritually when you grow the whole person. Daniel 3: False worship, but they stood firm. We'll see that in earth's last days, that same thing repeated. Daniel 4: Salvation... pride gets in the way, but when we humble ourselves, surrender ourselves to God, God can then bless our lives. Daniel 5: taking holy things, things that are holy to God, and using them in an unholy way, it led to a king's downfall, a kingdom's downfall. This ties in with true and false worship, the issue in the earth in the end of time, as does Daniel 6: Daniel refused to worship false gods. He chose to worship the true God, and he put his life on the line to do it. God would be first to Daniel, no matter what. We're gonna see those same things replayed down here in the end of time. And that's when Daniel segues into the strongly symbolic, prophetic part of the book.
Daniel chapter 7 starts with Daniel having a dream; we've looked at it. He saw four beasts coming up out of the sea. Remember our symbols? Daniel said, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other". When it comes to symbols, winds represents strife or warfare. Waters, the sea, represents great numbers of people, and a beast, that represents a nation. Daniel saw the rise and fall of nations, much like Nebuchadnezzar, in Daniel 2, with the image. Now, there's a principle that you see run through Daniel and Revelation. I mentioned it a moment ago. It's the principle of repeat and enlarge. What this means is this. God shares information with us, like He did in Daniel 2. We see four kingdoms, the fourth kingdom divides into 10 nations, and then Jesus returns. That's a lot of detail here, but it's really an overview.
In Daniel 7, we see the same four beasts, kingdoms, but they're now beasts and not metals, and more detail is added. We're told that the fourth beast gives way to 10 nations, just like Daniel 2. But instead of those nations being represented by feet and toes...presumably 10 toes... in this instance, the fourth beast gives way to 10 horns, and another horn rises up among them. This is in Daniel 2; it's new information. A new nation, a small nation rises up out of the 10 horns. And Daniel gives us information about this. He says it's small; he says it will have eyes in it "like the eyes of a man". He said it will blaspheme against God, and he says it will persecute God's people. And then it tells us how long this little horn, this little nation, will reign for. It says this in Daniel 7:25. "Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time". That's an interesting way of phrasing that. And that's where we have to put on our mathematics cap.
Now, if you wanna calculate something, if you want to figure out a mathematical problem, you do yourself a favor by getting your hands on a good calculator. Calculators work because inside them there's a chip that's been programmed with answers to every conceivable mathematical problem you could come up with. So where's the calculator to help us figure out this time period? Well, the Bible is the calculator. The Bible works this out for us. This time period appears in the Bible seven times. It's not always expressed in just the same way. In Daniel 12 and verse 7, it's put like this: "He held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time". Now, over in Revelation, you see it put this way; in Revelation 11:2, it's 42 months, while in the next verse, verse 3, it's expressed as 1,260 days. Revelation 12, verse 6 calls it 1,260 days, while verse 14 says, "a time, times, and half a time," and then in Revelation 13:5, 42 months. In every instance, it's referring to the same time period.
Let me explain that: "a time, times, and half a time". You remember that time Nebuchadnezzar went into the wilderness until "seven times" passed over him? The Bible says that was seven years. So we know that "a time" equals a year. So in this prophecy, you've got "a time," one, "times"...that's dual, not plural, so that's two more... and then "half a time". That's three and a half "times," or years... 42 months, same thing. Now, what about 1,260 days? Okay, remember our symbols. In Bible prophecy, a day represents a year. Now, keep in mind, this does not mean that the days of Creation were all one year long. It does not mean that Jesus was in the tomb for three years. This is a reference to prophecy. Let's review that. Revelation 12, verse 6, let's think about that. "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days".
What's a woman in Bible prophecy? Again and again, God uses the symbol of a woman to represent His church, His people. In the book of Hosea, God says, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her.... I will betroth you to me forever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy". The woman here represents God's church, His people down through time. And God says that there would be a time that she, the church, would be in the wilderness for 1,260 days. So are we talking about three and a half years? Or might we be talking about longer than that? You'll remember that God was being led...oh, sorry... you'll remember that Israel was being led towards the promised land by God. But 10 of the 12 spies who went to spy out the land brought back an evil report. They say they could never occupy the land because it was filled with giants, people more mighty than they. And God said they would spend 40 years in the wilderness: "For each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know my rejection".
A day represented a year. In another place, God said to Ezekiel, "And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year". Again, God used the principle of a day being equal to a year. And so we find that when we're talking about prophecy, a day is a symbol, represents one whole year. So what do we find? Daniel says in Daniel 7 that the little horn power would rule for 1,260 years. Daniel 12, he says the same thing. Revelation 11, the church, or God's people, would be trodden down for 1,260 years. Verse 3: The scriptures would "prophesy...in sackcloth". The Bible would be silenced, as it were, for 1,260 years. Revelation 12:6, the church is in the wilderness for 1,260 years. And in verse 14, it's exactly the same.
Revelation 13: The beast continues for 42 months. And we see it's the same time period as the 1,260 days or years. The little horn in Daniel, the beast in Revelation, reigns for that time period. And the church is under attack. It's persecuted during that same time period. You see that the Bible brings to view an intense spiritual battle. Remember that back in the Garden of Eden, Satan's first attack was to lead Eve and Adam away from obedience to God. He wanted them to serve him. When Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan tried the same thing. I'll give it all to You, he said to Jesus, "if You [bow] down and worship me". Satan wants the homage of the world. In fact, in the book of Isaiah, you have him being quoted as saying, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.... I will ascend above the heights of the cloud, I will be like the Most High". Which spells out what the enemy is setting out to do: Flip the world, so that the people of the world give their allegiance to him, and not to God.
So how do you think he's doing with that? Pretty good, right? Well, you might be wondering just when the church was in the wilderness for 1,260 years. Well, let's think. Jesus came to the earth; He established the Christian church; You read in the book of Acts it was quite a church. They had their growing pains, but they were a people committed, and they clung to the Word of God. Acts 2 tells us, "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart". In Acts chapter 4, we are told that "when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but thy had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need". They made statements like, "We ought to obey God rather than men". Stephen was stoned to death for his faith. Paul was stoned and left for dead, but he didn't die. James was martyred. Peter was imprisoned. And yet they went out and shared Jesus and grew the church with a pure faith. But after that, well, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse show us this. The first horse, a white horse, representing the early Christian church, taking the gospel forward in purity and power. But then there's a second horse, under the symbol of a second seal.
Paul wrote that, after he died, there would be "savage wolves" that would come into the church, and he said, "not sparing the flock". The church suffered as compromise took hold. Then paganism came into the church, and then persecution. Over the years, the church was attacked relentlessly as the devil did everything he could to turn people away from faithfulness to God. The church was dragged from purity to persecution, and the light of the gospel very nearly went out. Martin Luther really sparked the Protestant Reformation when he came across a Bible, a Bible changed to a wall in a monastery. You see, a church rose up that obscured the Word of God. Rather than teaching the Bible, and teaching that the Bible was the way of salvation, the medieval church taught that tradition... and the Bible...was the way to salvation. It taught that, yes, you may pray to God, but for forgiveness of sin, you need to see a priest and confess your sins to a priest.
It doesn't matter how you try to explain that away. "Oh, the priest doesn't really give forgiveness. He just lets you know that God forgives you". No matter how you try to explain that, that practice is diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Bible and to the gospel itself. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That's what the Bible says. What's the church doing getting into that equation and saying that you need to receive a sacrament from them in order to have forgiveness of sins? Honestly, that's outrageous. People were killed for possessing the Bible. They were hunted and persecuted by a church that for 1,260 years reigned supreme... until something happened. In 1798, its leader was captured by Napoleon's army and taken into exile. So that's the 1,260 days; that time prophecy speaks of 1,260 years, and it's now behind us.
Now, there's another time prophecy we really need to look at, also in Daniel, and this is one that trips up an awful lot of people. The key to understanding it is a principle we've already seen. We'll start in Daniel 9:21. "Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, 'O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill [and understanding]. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.'"
Whatever this is, it's clearly really important. You're going to see just how important. Remember God's people are in captivity; they're in Babylon. Daniel and everyone else is wondering how long they're gonna be stuck there. And the messenger says this to Daniel: "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up [the] vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy". If you look at this, you'll see that God is saying to Israel, "I am giving you this period of time to get your act together, to come to repentance". God was calling His people to repentance.
Now, God had said that they would be in captivity for 70 years; you read that earlier in the same chapter. So this wasn't dealing with how long they'd be in captivity; they would be released from there. But what God was calling on them to, not only be out of Babylon, but to get Babylon out of them. You know that, right? Jesus died so that we could live lives filled up with His presence. That's what God wants to do for you: fill you up, transform you, give you victory in place of your failure, and peace in place of your turmoil. God wants you to succeed spiritually where you have been failing until now. And He will do that in you, if you surrender to Him and allow Him to do that. The world might be going crazy, but you can keep your sanity. The world is regressing. We are not advancing.
Darwinism teaches that, over time, we evolve upward. No, there was sinlessness back in the Garden of Eden. But since then, we have been morally atrophying. You can't convince anyone that the epidemic of suicide in the world is evidence that we're getting better. You surely don't believe that the massive problem we're having with depression and other mental and emotional issues suggests we're trending upwards. Oh, now, don't think I'm criticizing people who have to fight that...I'm not. Depression is a beast; it's terrible. I'm telling you this because this is evidence that we're on the down, that the devil is on the attack. Trouble is coming in like a flood, and the tide of sin and hopelessness is rising.
Help me understand, Darwin, how one world war followed by another, and terrorist groups for the first time in history, changing life as we know it all over the world, how does that work if we're trending upwards, Mr. Darwin? The way we live, travel, it's changed, inexorably altered; there's no going back. We're fighting against a previously unknown virus. And it's got us concerned, because we don't wanna get sick. And we want to protect the vulnerable, but at the same time as that, we have more people dying from diabetes than from AIDS and breast cancer combined. And all we can do is say, "Oh, the problem is getting worse". Those numbers aren't getting any better. In the United States 655,000 people die every year from heart disease. In Canada, the numbers are falling, but there's still 160,000 or so people every year being diagnosed with heart disease.
Dementia is ravaging our elderly population. If you've been on this earth very long at all, you remember a time when far fewer people used to suffer from dementia. Oh, we're getting so much better, Mr. Darwin. How could we ever have missed that evolution is making us better, faster, stronger, wiser? The world is heading in the wrong direction, but you can head in the right direction. If you connect your life with the life of God, God can get out of you everything that shouldn't be in you: hopelessness, loneliness, despair, frustration. God will give you something to live for, something to feel good about. He'll give you a deep, abiding trust in a God that is for you and not against you. Daniel was told to consider the vision. Here's what the angel went on to say, "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times".
Now, I don't want you to miss this. And I know it's possible that you could. What was Daniel told? He was told... the Messiah is coming. When? Well, the timeframe is given to us. Let's break it down. "Know therefore and understand, that from... until Messiah the Prince," there shall be a given period of time. Did you see that? From a certain point, there'll be a certain time period, and then Messiah will be here. Not a trick question. Who is Messiah the Prince? That's Jesus. The angel told Daniel, from a given point in time, there'll be a certain time period, and Messiah the Prince will come. Daniel was being told when the Messiah would arrive. This was not the second coming of Jesus; this is not the event that we're looking forward to. This was the first advent of Jesus, the time the prophets spoke of, that David wrote of... "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" when Jesus was on the earth.
The time Isaiah wrote of... He would be "despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief"... when Jesus was here, the time Israel had looked forward to. And God is here telling Daniel when Messiah would come the first time. Keep in mind, this isn't so hard to imagine. Look at Matthew chapter 2: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.'" What were the wise men doing there? Or, more to the point, how did they know to be there then? Well, you know, they said, "We have seen His star". What star was that? They had been reading the book of Numbers. Numbers 24:17 says, "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob, a Scepter shall rise out of Israel".
That's the star. They knew to look for a star. But when would they look? When would the star appear? They'd also been reading Daniel, because Daniel told them about when the Messiah would come to the earth. That's how they knew. So let's look at this: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks". We wanna find that command. That's the starting point, the command to restore and build Jerusalem, because from that time to Messiah the Prince, we're given a time period. Find the command, and you find out roughly when the Messiah appears...exciting! This is what the wise men from the East went through. They saw the star, and they said, "Based on what we see in Daniel, this must be the star".
There are some books in the Bible, you know, that don't get read nearly enough. Look at your own Bible. You'll find that some pages are a a little tattered and dog-eared, but others, well, they're pristine. The book of Ezra is probably one of those books where the pages are all still white and new. In Ezra 7, you find this command, the one to restore and build Jerusalem. Here's a little bit of it: "Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of His statutes to Israel. 'Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.'"
Now, read on to verse 16: "Whereas all the silver and gold that you may find in all the province of Babylon, along with the free will offering of the people and the priests, are to be freely offered for the house of their God in Jerusalem". This is the rebuilding of the temple. Verse 25: "And you, Ezra, according to your God-given wisdom, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who are in the region beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know them". This is the reordering of society. The decree was to restore and to build, to get things back to normal in Jerusalem, to set up society and the worship of God. That's the decree.
Now, we wanna know when the decree was issued, because from that decree we can find the time that Messiah would come onto the scene. History tells us that the decree was issued in the year 457 BC. The Persians were meticulous record-keepers. So there's no doubt about this date. So we can now pinpoint a time. We're gonna start in the year 457 BC, and we'll add a time period. And we're gonna find out when Messiah would come. This is what the wise men from the East did. It said, from the command, or the decree, to the Messiah would be seven weeks and 62 weeks; that's 69 weeks. Now, 69 weeks from 457 BC takes you basically nowhere, but remember our symbols? A day equals...a year. How many days in a week? Seven. That's seven years. How many days in 69 weeks? Four hundred and eighty-three. That's 483 years. Let's do the math. No sine, cosine, or tangent involved, no calculus. Start in 457 BC, add 483 years, and you get to the year 27 AD.
Now, if you do this on a calculator, you'll end up in the year 26 AD. But remember, there's no 0 year; account for that, and you'll get to 27 AD. What I mean is this. From -5 to +5, that's 10. But from 5 BC to 5 AD, that's 9, because there is no year 0. You see that? There is a difference. So, how amazing of this prophecy, it went on to say, "The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times". And they were definitely troublesome times. This is how the wise men knew Jesus was gonna be born when He was born. That's how come they showed up in Jerusalem that day. "We've seen His star". They saw the star in scripture; they searched, realized it was mentioned in Numbers, and then most likely saw what Daniel said, and they said to each other, "If Messiah is gonna be revealed soon, He's gotta be born right about now. This is it. This is the time". And they found baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem, right on time.
Of course, the prophecy pointed not to the time of Jesus' birth, but to the time that He was revealed as the Messiah, the time of His baptism; that's when He was anointed. That was 27 AD. They did the math, and they realized it's the right time. If He's gonna be anointed as an adult, He's got to be born right around now. That must be the star. But wait, there's more: "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off". That's the death of Jesus being referred to. He would die shortly after He was anointed. Verse 27 of Daniel chapter 9: "Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering".
After His baptism in 27 AD there would be another week of years, seven years. And in the middle of it, He would bring an end to the sacrificial system. How did He do that? He did it by dying on the cross. He would "confirm [the] covenant for a week," seven years. At the end of that seven-year period, the gospel then went to the gentiles. You even have Paul and Barnabas in Acts chapter 13 telling the Jews, "We turn [from you] to the gentiles". What this means is this. At the end of the 70 weeks, God expanded the boundaries of His promised land. Now, anyone at all, Jew or gentile, could be saved by grace through faith in Jesus. And that's what we take away from this. The prophecy pointed to the advent of Jesus. And next time we're together, we're gonna see that there's another time prophecy connected to this that speaks directly to where we are now in history, points us to something going on in heaven.
So think about this with me. The Bible said that Jesus was coming into the world, and He came into the world right on time. Is there any doubt that He's coming back again? No, there cannot possibly be any doubt, none. The Bible is precise, and precise about God's love for you, God's plans for you, God's intentions to save you, to welcome you into heaven. Did you know that God has plans for you? He's made plans to spend eternity with you. He'll be there; He just wants you to show up. Eternity seems like a long time, doesn't it? But doesn't time quickly pass us by? You know, when you're a kid, people are old, old people especially. When you were a child, 60? Ancient! You get a little older and you discover that 40 is not that old, 50 is not that old, 60 is not that old. Time starts racing by. And you realize that maybe God knew what He was doing when He promised us everlasting life. You know that you can have it. It can be yours. In fact, it is yours...when you come to faith in Jesus.
Let me share this story with you. It's important that we look at this thought right now. What did the time prophecy say? It anchored a time of religious chicanery, persecution in the past. We understand those time prophecies, the 1,260 days, which were years, pointing forward to the final movements of earth's history, and the 70 weeks, which pointed to Jesus coming the first time. We'll build on that next time. Jesus wants you to know that you can know you have everlasting life. You want some assurance? Let me give it to you. You compete in the Olympic Games. Let's say you did. You would hope to win. And what would you hope to win? A gold medal. There's usually only one winner, so unless you're in a team event, only one person goes home with a gold medal.
You run a marathon. You're gonna find that about 155 men and around 160 women competed in the marathon in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and only one gold medalist in each event, just one winner. But did you know that faith in Jesus is not like that? When you accept Him as Lord and Savior, He gives you the gold medal. You have everlasting life by faith. You have it. When you accept Him, Jesus, God gives you the gift. So it's our job as Christians to not let go, to hold on to it, to not give it up. Hold on to the Christ of the Bible and you are holding on to the gift of everlasting life.
And if you haven't made the decision to hold on to Jesus, what are you waiting for? In fact, you could make that decision right now. Would you do so? Salvation is as simple as Jesus dying for you; you accept the gift; Jesus says, "That's yours. I don't want it back. It's yours. Hang on to it". The gold medal is hanging around your neck right now. Salvation is in your heart right now when you have Jesus. Do you have Him? If you do, then we're gonna thank God for that. If you don't, this is why God has caused us to meet together right now, so you could say, "I'm confident in my salvation. I'm a child of God". Come on, let's pray about that together right now.
Our Father in heaven, we thank You today that You give us the gift of salvation. And we claim it from You in Jesus. There's somebody right now who's saying, "I've learned a few things by looking at this presentation. But I feel like I was pretty good and pretty okay in my standing with Jesus; I was saved". But there's somebody else who's saying, "I'm on thin ice...or no ice," someone who right now needs to say, "Lord Jesus, I accept You as my Lord and Savior". Say that now, friend, and know that God wraps you in His arms, and will keep you as His own. Salvation is yours. We thank You for it, dear Father. In Jesus' name, amen.