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Are Jews and Israel Still Central to God’s Plan? Absolutely!

“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city—to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.” (Daniel 9:24)


I’ve been a student of prophecy for a long time. No, I don’t get suckered into eschato-mania, which is an unhealthy and extreme interest in Last Days prophecies. Nor am I eschato-phobic, exhibiting an undue and extreme fear of Last Days’ prophecies. I’m eschaton-normative. I treat eschatology, the study of “last things,” as just another part of knowing the Bible.


Okay, fine. I do have a strong interest in the End Times of the Last Days. You know, when the final world empire fuses with the world system in a cataclysmic grudge match against Jesus, God’s champion.


Spoiler alert. Jesus wins.


I want to see the End come. I want to see Jesus return and reset the world as His Father designed it originally, devoid of sin and death. I want evil to stop, for righteousness to roar forth, and for godliness to fill the planet because that’s what Christians have been praying for a long time:


“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).


Yes, that’s going to be stupendous.


Only getting from here to there is going to be the problem. It’s going to get ugly. “For at that time there will be great distress, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again22 Unless those days were cut short, no one would be saved. But those days will be cut short because of the elect” (Matthew 24:21-22).


Um, yeah, no. Can I just skip that part, Jesus?


I teach a class on the Book of Daniel. The book carries the overarching themes of God’s sovereignty, His faithful commitment to the people of Israel, and His plan to restore humanity as we were in the beginning. (And you just thought Daniel was a cute Sunday School story about how God saved an old guy in a den of lions.)


A serious study of Daniel reveals remarkable things that often shock many Christians. Bluntly put, God’s plan ain’t all about us. Stunning, I know. But there it is.


We learn something crucial via the statue dream of Daniel 2, the beast vision of Daniel 7, the ram vs. goat vision of Daniel 8, the angel Gabriel’s message in Daniel 9, and the unfolding vision in Daniel 10-12. Here it is:


God’s plan to restore our world is inexorably linked to the people of Israel, the Jews.


Here are some questions to be answered:

·         Why would God’s enemy, Satan, work so hard to convince the Christian Church that God was done with the Jewish people and the nation of Israel?


·         Why would Satan use that falsehood to stir up Christian persecution on and off against worldwide Jewry over the last 2,000 years?


·         Why would Satan infect other religions and cultures with virulent antisemitism to the point of genocide from Israel’s inception up to today?


·         Why do we see intense antisemitism rising right now on a global scale?


To answer these questions, let’s look at some Bible history and prophecy, shall we?


Because of Israel’s brazen rebellion against Yehovah, as evidenced by their gross (and I mean gross) idolatry, the Lord decreed Israel’s exile from their covenant land (Jeremiah 25:2-11). God allowed the rising Babylonian empire to attack the remaining southern kingdom of Judah in three waves, starting around 605 B.C.


Daniel was deported to Babylon during King Nebuchadnezzar’s first attack when Daniel was in his late teens. That’s where Daniel, chapter 1, starts. By the time we reach chapter 9, Daniel is an elderly man, somewhere in his late 80s, still stuck in the Babylonian Exile.


Daniel began interceding for Israel’s release from Babylon because the Lord had promised through Jeremiah the prophet that Judah’s exile would only last seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10-14). Daniel figured out the time of release and restoration was nigh. He was right.


So Daniel set about to pray for his people and Jerusalem to be restored. God heard Daniel’s prayer and answered via a heavenly messenger, Gabriel. The angel said, “Daniel, I’ve come now to give you understanding. At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God. So consider the message and understand the vision:” (Daniel 9:22-23).


Did you catch that? Gabriel tells Daniel twice that he would give him an understanding of the visions Daniel had received.


Yes, God would restore His people to their land after seventy years (which happened by Persian King Cyrus’ decree, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23). However, that was just a tiny part of God’s bigger plan, a plan that would reach from Daniel’s day to the End Times, a plan in which the people of Israel would play a central role.


Gabriel explained by saying it referred to “your people and your holy city” (Daniel 9:24), which had been the focus of Daniel’s prayer. Okay, so what was it about the Jews and Jerusalem?


“Seventy weeks are decreed…to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place” (Daniel 9:24). “Seventy weeks” is better translated “seventy weeks of years” or 490 years.


The 70-year exile was just the disciplinary step for the Israelites breaking their covenant with God. Now that the Exile drew to a close, Gabriel reveals to Daniel that there’s much more.


Israel needed more than a temporary time-out to deal with their inability to remain faithful to Yehovah. Something had to be done to stop the vicious cycle of rebellion to punishment to repentance to restoration to rebellion, on and on, ad nausaum. Furthermore, God’s 490-year plan included bringing the Gentiles back to himself. In other words, God’s plan was about global redemption and restoration, during which the Jews would play a central role.


According to Gabriel, it would take 490 years for the Lord to accomplish six things: “1) To bring the rebellion to an end, 2) to put a stop to sin, 3) to atone for iniquity, 4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, 5) to seal up vision and prophecy, and 6) to anoint the most holy place” (Daniel 24). All six of these things would involve the Jews and Jerusalem.


So, what do these six things mean?


1) “To finish transgression” – to end willful sin and rebellion.


2) “To make an end of sins” – to finish unintentional sin via missing God’s mark for holiness.


3) “To make reconciliation for iniquity” - to atone, to cover over, the guilt for intentional sin.


These three negatives are generally wickedness, defined as rebellion, failure, and waywardness.


4) “To bring in everlasting righteousness” – to cause right to be acknowledged (that is, followed).


5) “To seal up vision and prophecy” – to fulfill all prophecy and visions.


6) “And to anoint the Most Holy” – specifically, to reestablish the Most Holy Place of the Temple.


These three positives describe the time when the forgiven and cleansed people of Israel will walk in righteousness, all of God’s prophecies will be fulfilled, especially regarding the nation of Israel and the Jews, and the Temple will be restored.


In short, these six things describe the total eradication of sin and the establishment of righteousness on earth. According to Gabriel, the Jews and Jerusalem are central to fulfilling these things. How so? The division of the 490 years into 483 years (Daniel 9:25-26) and 7 years (Daniel 9:27) reveals everything. If you look at the two parts and their purposes closely, a beautiful picture appears:


Part 1 (483 years) leads to Messiah Jesus’ first coming to “finish transgression, end sins, reconcile iniquity.” In other words, from a certain point, it would be 483 years before Messiah appeared to open the way for salvation. Assuming that Artaxerxes I’s decree in Ezra 7:11 is the starting point, 483 years takes us to A.D. 25. Given that Jesus was likely born in 4 B.C., that places the end of the 483 years very close to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The end of Jesus’ ministry is described in Daniel 9:26, “After those sixty-two weeks, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing” (italics author). This prophecy echoes Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus, “For he was cut off from the land of the living; he was struck because of my people’s rebellion” (Isaiah 53:8). Jesus’ sacrificial death created the way to “finish transgression, end sins, and reconcile iniquity.” Part 1 accomplished.


Part 2 (7 years) leads up to Messiah Jesus’ second coming to “establish righteousness forever, fulfill all predictions and promises, and reestablish the Most Holy (the Temple in Jerusalem)” as Jesus begins His reign as King Messiah over Israel. In other words, Jesus’ return will establish righteousness throughout the globe.


Some people have trouble with this prophecy because they think the 490 years need to happen as one unit of time. Gabriel doesn’t say that. He reveals it will occur in two segments, and both segments will fulfill the purposes for which our God intends – to end sin and establish righteousness around the world. We need to understand the gap between the end of part 1 (Jesus’ ascension) and the start of part 2 (the Tribulation transition period), which ends when Jesus returns.


That gap is what many today call the “Church Age,” as the Gospel has been actively reaching the Gentile nations over the last 2,000 years.


Pretty impressive plan, yeah?


Now, remember I wrote, “God’s plan to restore our world to the way He intended it is inexorably linked to the people of Israel”? By now, you should see why.


Everything involved in the 490-year two-part fulfillment involves the Jewish people and the events that happened in the past in Jerusalem (Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, ascension) and will happen in the future (Jesus’ return as Israel’s King Messiah). Because the whole process of global salvation and restoration is centered on the Jewish people and Jerusalem, we can now answer the questions,

·         Why would God’s enemy, Satan, work so hard to convince the Christian Church that God was done with the Jewish people and the nation of Israel?


·         Why would God’s enemy use that falsehood to stir up Christian persecution on and off against worldwide Jewry over the last 2,000 years?


·         Why would God’s enemy infect other religions, cultures, kingdoms, nations, and empires with virulent antisemitism to the point of committing genocide against the Jews from the nation of Israel’s inception up to today?


·         Why do we see intense antisemitism skyrocketing right now on a global scale?


Because God’s enemy wants God’s plan to fail, for His plan ends with the enemy’s utter downfall.


I believe we’re on the cusp of the last seven years before Jesus returns. I have many reasons for thinking that, but the fact that God’s enemy has been working overtime to pit the world against the Jews, Jerusalem, and the nation of Israel is a huge indicator. In previous centuries, individual nations turned on the Jews, i.e., Germany, Russia, France, et al. Other faiths have turned on the Jews – Islam and Christianity.


But in our day, we’re watching a global antisemitic movement to take over the land of Israel, retake possession of Jerusalem, and genocide the Jews, summed up as “From the River to the Sea.”


All because Israel and the Jewish people are God’s precious timepiece, counting down to the world’s restoration under a Jewish Messiah.


Yes, Jesus loves everybody, Jew and Gentile, and He wants everyone to return to be with His Father as it was in the beginning. But Abraham’s physical descendants are Yehovah’s Chosen People, chosen for the extraordinary task of being the inner circle of His global restoration plan.


Now, more than ever, we need to stand with the Jewish community and the nation of Israel. As we do, we’ll find ourselves standing with our Jewish Messiah.

Shining the Light of God’s Truth on the Road Ahead


Pastor Jay Christianson

The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts


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