BIBLE STUDY SERIES #641, 642 and 643

7 March, 2004

LET THERE BE LIGHT - PART XV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

On our last several programmes we have been considering matters of a somewhat longer perspective in the concourse of history. We had seen how The Almighty has inserted within His Creation a design pattern such that certain time periods of great significance, but quite outside the control of mere man, have set the stage for acceptance of God's supremacy. Today we will continue our study by picking up something more of our subject, from the book by Howard B. Rand, from which we drew in our last Study, and we will again reference the patterns with which we are concerned. We have been looking at a chapter called "The Wonderful Numberer" in that book "Study in Daniel."

We had set the stage with a quotation from the former chapters of Daniel, and it might be well to read this again to grasp the import of our discourse. With Daniel's people in their time of greatest distress, Daniel 12:1 had begun our discussion, with these words:

1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Back in the days before World War II, Mr. Howard B. Rand, the author of the words which we have been following on the last several Bible studies had seen the meanings of those time-lines, and the meaning of the words which had been revealed to The Prophet Daniel. The book from which we are reading was printed in 1948, before the full impact of the Zionists take-over of the Palestinian lands had become part of our history. His insights have stood the test of subsequent years over the course of more than half a century. If some of his passages appear to yield forms of truth which are not appealing to some people today, it should be remembered that he wrote in a day when such plain speaking was expected and relatively uninhibited by the tendencies of our own time when political or religious factions crave submission to their demands and by legal means attempt to force the majority of traditional folk to bow to their sensitivities.

Today, I think that we might move to the next chapter of "Study in Daniel", which is entitled "Daniel's Prayer." It begins: "In the first year of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, Daniel declared that by studying the books of Jeremiah he had arrived at an understanding of the number of years that Jerusalem would be desolate. We know that Jeremiah had dictated his prophecies to Baruch, who had written them upon scrolls, or in books. We know also that letters had been written by Jeremiah addressed to the captives in Babylon.

Jeremiah's Letter
It is evident that Daniel was in possession of the books and letters written by Jeremiah and, as a result of the stirring events which ended with the capture of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar, he was studiously delving into those writings. As a prophet he knew that the end of the days of captivity was approaching and the fall of Babylon spurred him on in his search of the records. It is certain that he re-read the letter Jeremiah sent to the captives in Babylon giving specific instruction concerning their stay there and the time when they could expect deliverance. That letter read as follows: "Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon; (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;) . . . Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." (Jer. 29: 1-14.)

Seventy-Year Terminals
Daniel, though himself a prophet, found it necessary to study the writings of another prophet in order to secure information regarding the length of the captivity. He knew the data he sought had been revealed to Jeremiah. The beginning of the captivity of Judah was spread over a period of 19 years and Daniel's inquiry was being made into the entire matter in the first year of Darius, which was also the first year of Medo-Persian rule, following the capture of Babylon. He made the discovery that seventy years had been established by Jeremiah as the duration of captivity and the very year he was making his investigation was the earliest terminal period, dating form the beginning of the time of servitude, when Daniel and his companions were carried away to Babylon in 3397-8 A.M. (604-3 B.C.).

The punishment of Babylon kept pace with the restoration of Jerusalem. When the 70 years of captivity, dating from the 4th year of Jehoiakim (3398 A.M.), were ended, Babylon was taken and its King, Belshazzar, was slain (3468 A.M., i.e., 531 B.C.). This was the year Cyrus issued his famous Decree pertaining to the restoration of the Temple. The Temple built by Solomon was burned by Nebuchadnezzar in 3416 A.M. (584 B.C.). At the expiration of 70 years from that date, Babylon's desolation began (3486 A.M., i.e., 514 B.C.), for the city revolted against the rule of the Persians and a one-year siege by Darius Hystaspes ended in its capture and punishment. At that time Jerusalem and the temple were being rebuilt. This same 70-year measuring rod may be applied to other important dates in Israel's history, marking the beginning and ending of important chronological periods. The captivity of Judah began in 3406 A.M. (595-4 B.C.) and is known as the Great Captivity. The indignation dates from 3415 A.M. (585 B.C.), the mid-date of the siege of Jerusalem. The next year the city fell and the following year (3417 A.M., i.e. 583 B.C.) Johanan deserted Palestine and fled to Egypt with the Royal Remnant. (See Study in Jeremiah, page 241).

Jerusalem Liberated
These dates also furnish us with the beginning of the Seven times of prophecy (2,520 years) as this chronological measuring rod applies to the history of Judah. One of the important terminals of this longer period dates from the year Daniel and his companions were taken to Babylon. The year 1917 A.D. was 2,520 years later, when Jerusalem was delivered from the rule of the Turks as the result of the capture of the city by General Allenby of the British Army on December 9 of that year. It is significant that Daniel began to make inquiry into the length of the captivity just seventy years after the important date of 604-3 B.C., which establishes the pattern of chronology for the release of Jerusalem at the end of the Times of the Gentiles. The year of Daniel's inquiry was also important as Gabriel gave him information in that same year, setting the date of the coming of the Messiah.

Daniel's Prayer
Conforming with the instructions given by Jeremiah in his letter to the captives in Babylon, Daniel prepared to seek the Lord "by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes." In speaking for his people, for Daniel used the personal pronoun "we," he associated himself with the people and with their sins. The Prophet prayed:

"O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments," (Dan. 9: 4.) It was only when Israel kept God's commandments that they could hope to be blessed, for it was by the observance of his laws that they manifested their love for Him. The man, or the nation, who refuses to keep His laws, flouting their observance, cannot love God, nor is he in a position to expect any blessings from His hand. Daniel continued his prayer by confessing the sins of the people: "We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments." (Dan. 9: 5.)

The book, "Study in Daniel" is, I believe, still available, and it contains much which one will require if making a serious study of such time measures in these fast-moving times in world conditions. I would sincerely recommend that you obtain a copy. I believe that our book room may still have some copies for sale.

14 March, 2004

LET THERE BE LIGHT - PART XVI

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

On our last several programmes we have been considering matters of a somewhat longer perspective in the concourse of history. We had seen how The Almighty has inserted within His Creation a design pattern such that certain time periods of great significance, but quite outside the control of mere man, have set the stage for acceptance of God's supremacy. Today we will continue our study by picking up something more of our subject, from the book by Howard B. Rand, from which we drew in our last Study, and we will again reference the patterns with which we are concerned. We have been looking at a chapter called "Daniel's Prayer" in that book "Study in Daniel."

We had set the stage with a quotation from the former chapters of Daniel, and it might be well to read this again to grasp the import of our discourse. With Daniel's people in their time of greatest distress, Daniel 12:1 had begun our discussion, with these words:

1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Picking up the text of the chapter from the point where we left off in the last Study, we find the heading "Continuous rebellion", under which we read as follows:

The entire history of the Israel peoples shows that after they entered the land of Palestine they were in almost continuous rebellion to God and to His laws. Their national iniquities and sins were in evidence in this spirit of revolt against the commandments of God. Added to these sins, Daniel confessed that they also refused to heed His prophets - a sin as prevalent today as in the time of ancient Israel: "Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land." (Dan. 9:6.)

The Prophet Daniel knew how degenerate were the descendants of ancient Israel leading up to their captivities. Both in Israel of the Northern Tribes about two centuries before, and of many, especially among the leadership of Judah seventy years before, the majority were carrying on as if God's Word was of no consequence, even in his day. Perhaps we ought to compare our own moral condition with the comparatively lofty attitudes of our Patriarchs like Noah and Abraham, of ancient days, even when they yielded to the sins of human nature. The ancient prophets throughout the times of their descendants as in the Sinai Wilderness, and following that, as they approached, and later settled in their Promised Land, proclaimed the moral code of The LORD God before the people, and often, through subsequent times they suffered terribly for their efforts. Hebrews 11 is the great chapter which sets forth the register of the faithful of Old Testament times, and Hebrews 11:36-38 speaks thus, describing the mis-treatment of those who were faithful, by the rest of the nation in their time.

Here, reverting to the text of Howard Rand's book, I think that we ought to note that Howard Rand wrote his words back about the time of the immediate World War II period, as his book was printed in April, 1948. I simply have to ask the listener some questions. Has anything changed since Howard Rand wrote his words? "Has the condition of the world, particularly in matters of general morality in the eyes of those who read God's Holy Word and scan the world for comparison, improved at all, or has it not in fact become remarkably degenerate by contrast? I think that most of my listeners might agree with my appraisal that the conditions are even worse today than they were within the lifetime of our elderly folk now listening to this Bible Study. How must Daniel have felt, knowing that repentance was a dire necessity at the crucial transition period in his day?

The Prophet Isaiah had exclaimed to Israel in Isaiah 51:1-2 "Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
There is one clue to the cause of today's downward moral descent. We, the descendants of Israel of times long ago, need to seek out our roots, both genealogically and spiritually, and learn who we truly are, and from whom we have descended. We must know the commitments undertaken, and the character which stamped our ancestors of ancient time, and with that knowledge, move with vigour to correct those immoralities and degenerate tendencies which plague our lands today. But, as Daniel perceived, it must come about by a direct appeal to the God whom many of our people have been taught to dismiss, and even to disregard as having no relationship to our condition today. We must learn that The Almighty God is still in control. He shows us this by those "tapestry of time" measures, which thread together meaningful and carefully measured strands yielding clues to His power and His absolute control of all events of history. Let us again pick up the words of Howard Rand:

This indictment of the indifferences in the attitude of the kings and rulers of Israel and the people towards God's servants, the prophets, is amply justified by study of the Scriptures. Paul, in Hebrews, testifies of the trial of Godly men: "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Heb. 11:36-38.)

Much of the affliction which came to men of God was caused by the antagonistic attitude and the hatred engendered against them among the very people who should have welcomed their messages. But when men and women desire to sin, the rebuke of the righteous man angers them and to them he becomes an enemy. Daniel was fully aware of all this, so he made that confession of guilt for his people. Attributing righteousness to God alone, Daniel continued:
"Unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee." "(Dan. 9:7.)

Here, Howard Rand enters an area which may be important for our understanding of these Scriptures. He deals with those to whom Daniel had applied the term "Far Off Ones." Under this heading:

"Far Off" Ones
Daniel knew that the House of Israel had been carried away into Assyrian captivity about one hundred and thirty years prior to the time that he and his companions were carried away into Babylon. Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem were those whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive into Babylon, but Israel, both far and near, included the ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel. Daniel knew that since the time of the Assyrian captivity many of the House of Israel had passed beyond the borders of Assyria, going northward and westward and, as expressed by him, were then "far off." Nevertheless, he included them in his prayer. Continuing, Daniel declared confusion was the portion of his people from the king to the lowest subject because they had rejected the Law of the Lord. But he also declared that God is merciful and forgiveness is one of His chief attributes. Therefore, He will forgive if they turn to Him, even though they had been in rebellion against Him. Daniel confessed that all Israel was without excuse for God, through His prophets, had continually warned them what the final result of continued disobedience would be. The Prophet confessed: "Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him." (Dan. 9:11.)

God's Word Confirmed
This is a reference to the "But" clauses of the law promulgated at Mt. Sinai, which began with the statement: "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee." (Deut. 28:15)

Then followed a list of curses to come upon God's people if they chose the way of disobedience, ending in deportation and captivity just as they had taken place with both Israel and Judah. Recognizing that this in itself was a definite fulfillment of God's word, Daniel said: "And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem." (Dan. 9:12.)

As conditions have only changed for the worse, in our opinion, since the words of Howard Rand were penned, we must pick up the same message which Daniel voiced so long ago, and which Howard Rand repeated decades ago in his book. Our people need to reflect on God's unchanging Laws, and the sinful practices of our time which we create by our disregard thereof. God's people must start thinking of their way back from the deteriorating social, political and religious conditions of the present time in our lands, populated as they are, at least in some measure, by the descendants of the tribes of ancient Israel of Biblical times. We shall continue with more on this topic next week.

21 March, 2004

LET THERE BE LIGHT - PART XVII

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

On our last several programmes we have been considering matters of a somewhat longer perspective in the concourse of history. We had seen how The Almighty has inserted within His Creation a design pattern such that certain time periods of great significance, but quite outside the control of mere man, have set the stage for acceptance of God's supremacy. Today we will continue our study by picking up something more of our subject, from the book by Howard B. Rand, from which we drew in our last Study, and we will again reference the patterns with which we are concerned. We have been looking at a chapter called "Daniel's Prayer" in that book "Study in Daniel."

We had set the stage with a quotation from the former chapters of Daniel, and it might be well to read this again to grasp the import of our discourse. With Daniel's people in their time of greatest distress, Daniel 12:1 had begun our discussion, with these words:

1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Picking up the text of the chapter from the point where we left off in the last Study, we shall repeat the last couple of paragraphs from that last Study to get the sense of what follows.

God's Word Confirmed
This is a reference to the "But" clauses of the law promulgated at Mt. Sinai, which began with the statement: "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee." (Deut. 28:15)

Then followed a list of curses to come upon God's people if they chose the way of disobedience, ending in deportation and captivity just as they had taken place with both Israel and Judah. Recognizing that this in itself was a definite fulfillment of God's word, Daniel said: "And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem." (Dan. 9:12.)

Righteousness of Judgment
Jerusalem was the city God had chosen, upon which He placed His name. In that city a magnificent temple had been erected by Solomon as the House of God and the Glory of the Lord had filled the building. The splendor of that Temple surpassed any edifice that man had built up to that time. Yet, in spite of all this, God had allowed the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed and the Temple to be burned with fire. When Daniel was making his prayer the entire scene was marked by desolation. He could well say that nothing like it had been done under the whole heaven, for where on earth could anyone point to a heathen god who would allow his own temple and city to be destroyed as Jehovah, the God of Israel, had permitted to be done to Jerusalem and His temple there? Though all that evil had come upon the people because of their sins, Daniel confessed that they had not turned to God to entreat Him for mercy so that they might turn from their iniquities and be made to understand the truth. Daniel bore testimony to the righteousness of the Lord's judgment when he said: "For the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice." (Dan. 9:14.)

Blaspheming God
What a contrast this is to the testimony of men and women who today continually blame God for the difficulties and troubles which afflict them. Daniel knew that the people themselves were responsible by their disobedience to God. He therefore declared that God is righteous in all His works - even in the inexorable operation of the punitive clauses of the law. The very troubles which afflict all nations today are not the responsibility of God; they are the inevitable result of the course of past and present generations who have elected to walk contrary to the Divine Law and refused to obey the voice of God. God is righteous and just and, because this is so, we are suffering under self-inflicted punishments made unavoidable by our fathers' conduct, and our own. When men blame God today for their troubles they are blaspheming Him, for they are reviling God by falsely charging Him with wrongdoing. Daniel placed the blame where it belonged, "We obeyed not His voice." Daniel continued by petitioning God:

"And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and has gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from the city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us." (Dan. 9:15-16.)

Prayer of a Righteous Man
Again Daniel pointed directly to the cause of the desolation of Jerusalem, declaring that the sins of the people and the iniquities of their fathers were responsible for the reproach that had come upon them. This lesson must yet be learned by modern Israel before they will turn to God and pray the kind of prayer that Daniel prayed. Until then affliction and trouble will continue to increase. Daniel closed his prayer asking God to be merciful and to again restore Jerusalem and show favor upon His city: "Ah listen, O our God, to the prayer and supplication of thy servant, and may thy favour smile again upon thy desolate sanctuary for thy servant's sake, O Lord! Bend thine ear and listen, O my God; open thine eyes to the sight of our desolation and of the city that belongs to thyself. For we do not offer our supplications before thee, relying on our own goodness but on thy great compassion. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and take action, without delay, for thine own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people belong to thyself." (Dan. 9:17-19, Moffatt Trans.)

Daniel's supplication and prayer were the earnest petition of a righteous man. James declares: "The effectual fervent [inwrought, or energized by the Spirit] prayer of a righteous [just or law-abiding] man availeth much [or is strong]." (James 5:16.)

Gabriel Appears
Daniel's prayer prevailed with God and he informs us that while he was still praying, confessing his own sins and the sins of his people, and presenting his supplication before God, the man Gabriel, whom he had seen in his former vision, came to him. Gabriel touched him upon the shoulder about the time of the Evening Oblation, or sacrifice.

Evening Oblation
This time of sacrifice would be about three o'clock in the afternoon. It was the time of day that Elijah, under the direction of God, had selected as the hour of the day with which all Israel would associate the time to sacrifice to Jehovah the God of Israel, for his demonstration in the trial with the prophets of Baal. It was also the time of day that the pastoral lamb was slain for the Passover. It, therefore, was most fitting that Gabriel should come to Daniel at that hour of the day, for he was commissioned to declare to him the time of the coming of the Lord, His atonement and Sacrifice. Years later when Jesus Christ died on the cross, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world died at the time of the Evening Oblation. Daniel was specially honored and Gabriel told him that at the beginning of his entreaty the command was issued for him to go and tell Daniel that he was highly favored. He was to ponder and to understand the revelation about to be given to him.

There is, in Howard Rand's next chapter "The Seventy Weeks" a matter of such importance that we ought today, to at least have a start at introducing the matters covered. He writes:

We are now to investigate one of the most interesting discourses recorded in the Book of Daniel. It took place between Daniel and the angel Gabriel and was concerned with the coming of the Messiah and the end of the age. Gabriel not only pointed out significant chronological terminal periods having to do with the manifestation of the Messiah but he also made it clear that, hidden in these time measures, are the dates and events which will bring the present age to its close.

Theorization of Prophecy
Scholars of the futurist school of interpretation, sensing that Gabriel was telling Daniel of events to transpire at the end of the age, as well as those leading to revelation of the Messiah, have, through failure to recognize the Race of the Book, resorted to what is known as the "parenthesis" or "gap" theory. Because they have accepted the erroneous conclusion that the Jews represent all of Israel in the world today, they commence their study of the Book of Daniel with a false premise. Then, in order to reconcile Scriptural teaching with their tenets of belief, the last week of the seventy weeks of Daniel is chronologically detached from the preceding 69 weeks. Between the two they place the Christian Dispensation, comprising nearly 2,000 years. In order to make this theory seem more plausible, we are told by those who hold this view that prophecy stopped operating at the end of the 69 prophetic weeks and marked time for nearly 2,000 years - at the end of which period they assure us it will again resume its onward march, beginning with the events of the 70th week of Daniel.

If you are interested in pursuing the fault-lines in that theory, you will want to tune in to our next Bible Study.

RETURN TO BIBLE STUDY
RETURN TO B.I.W.F. HOME PAGE