It was Jim Braddock.
“John, I got in touch with my friend, Wes, the fellow from Hilltop, and we’re to have dinner with him this evening. How are things with you?”
John paused before answering. How could he not tell Jim about his “answered prayer” and about the confidence he now felt, even in the face of perplexity? How often the clergy fear to talk with each other about their faith and the experiences that come from God. Many times in the past he had shared some personal encounter with Christ with another minister, only to be met with embarrassed silence suggesting inability to believe in supernatural experiences. It was ironic but true: the people in his churches were often much more open to the witness of the personal power of God than were many of his colleagues. He really had no way as yet of knowing how Jim Braddock might react in this particular area.
Resolving Daniel's Prophecy
Most of the confusion that surrounds commentary upon upcoming end time events centres on often faulty interpretation of Daniel's prophecies in chapters 9 and 12. Let's start with Dan. 9: 24-27,“Seventy weeks are apportioned out upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to close the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make expiation for iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal the vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies. Know therefore and understand: >From the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah, the Prince, are seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks. The street and the moat shall be built again, even in troublous times. And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end, war, -- the desolations determined. And he shall confirm a covenant with the many [for] one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and because of the protection of abominations [there shall be] a desolator, even until that the consumption and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate.”
Here we see a story involving two princes. One is the son of God. The other is the son of an earthly king, or an appointed leader under a king. It also involves the restoration of Jerusalem and ends with it's destruction at the even of seventy sevens, being 490 years. There is a break-up of that time frame, being 7 weeks (49 years), followed by a further period of 62 weeks (434 years). There is a final week (7 years) which is split into two parts of 3 ½ years each. The end of the first part sees the Messiah cut off (crucified). The final 3 ½ years refers to the destruction of the city (Jerusalem) and of the sanctuary (Temple). That final 3 ½ year period has been quarantined from the balance of the 490 years by some decades.
The time-line plays out as follows. Ezra was given the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 457 BC in the seventh year of Artaxerxes' reign (Ezra 7). The 49 years that it took to rebuild the city takes us to 408 BC. A further 434 years (62 weeks) finishes in late 27 BC, the year in which Jesus began His ministry. It was also the time when Jesus was first identified as the Messiah at His baptism. He was thus identified by the Father who said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:16. He was also identified as the Messiah in John 1:29 “ ….. John saw Jesus coming to him and said, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (Amplified Bible)
At the end of His 3 ½ year ministry, Jesus the Messiah was literally “cut off”. This occurred at the time of the Passover in 31 AD. The Jewish date is Nisan 14 which in that year was a Wednesday. Over the years, Jewish tradition had transformed the date specified in the Law of Moses into a preparation day, making the false Passover the new date of Nisan 15. This is how Jesus managed to celebrate the real Passover prior to His arrest and crucifixion. Also, Passover is one of the high sabbaths that are celebrated each year on top of the weekly Sabbath. Therefore, there were three days and three nights during which Jesus was in the grave. It makes a nonsense of the excuses that have been put forward to relocate the crucifixion to a Friday or to the later date of 33AD, a year when Passover corresponded to a Friday (sundown being the start of the weekly sabbath).
The 1,260 days
Both Daniel and Revelation speak of a period of 3 ½ years or equivalent periods of days or months. Refer to Rev. 11:12, 11:13, 12:6, 12:14 and 13:5,8.
Some commentators have tried to claim that the days referred to are in fact years, in the same way that the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 are in fact years. Such claims are unsubstantiated. After looking at the various postulates, the only really compelling argument is that the periods are literal. If these periods are tied into the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70 AD, then which events do they refer to within the 3 ½ year process?
Josephus, the Jewish historian, was in attendance as a negotiator working for the Romans during the seige. His written eye-witness account reveals that the Temple was burned on 10 Av in 70 AD. The English date equates to August 5. Even Josephus was astounded by the fact that the destruction of the Temple in 587 BC was also on 10 Av.
The campaign by Cestius Gallus
Gaius Cestius Gallus had led his army of 28,000 in the campaign against the Jewish people, starting his attack in Gabao (Gibeon) on Tishri 22 in 66 AD. This date is Shemini Atzeret, the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles. At this time of the year, Sukkot (the Festival of Booths) has just been celebrated. On the eighth day of Sukkot is a day know as Shemini Atzeret which is a day of sacred assembly specified in Lev. 23:33-36 “The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: 'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD's Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.”
These eight days are known as “The Time of Our Happiness” because they celebrate the days of freedom subsequent to the Hebrews' captivity in Egypt. The Diaspora celebrate an extra day known as Simkhat Torah. Simchat Torah, "Rejoicing with/of the Torah," is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. The two days were originally combined.
“In many Orthodox and Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, all the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with all the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that often lasts for several hours and more.”- Wikipedia
Eight days later, Cestius and his army entered Jerusalem. Five days after that, the army broke through the temple wall with a Roman tortoise, then unexpectedly retreated to Scopus, and according to Josephus, it was “without any reason in the world”. The violent entry of the idolatrous Roman army into the temple may be what is regarded as the “abomination of desolation”. With the battle won and the objective achieved, it seems puzzling that Cestius Gallus and his army would retreat. This action emboldened the Zealots who interpreted this retreat as a sign from God that they could take on the might of the Roman Empire.
By the following day (Heshvan 6), Cestius had retreated to Gabao. Another 2 days later, Cestius retreated to Bethoron where the rear-guard of 400 were wiped out by the Jews. Cestius escaped only by sacrificing most of his army. Upon his return to Syria, he died prior to the spring of 67 AD. His death not long after a disastrous defeat is no surprise. If he didn't commit suicide, he may have been assassinated for his perceived incompetence.
The question remains as to why he retreated when the victory appeared to have been won. Some speculate that upon breaking through the temple wall, he was overcome by the fear of God. Whatever the cause, the timing was according to God's plan. From the date of Cestius retreat on 5 Heshvan 66 until 4 Sivan 70 is a period of 1,260 days. 4 Sivan 70 is the date on which Titus, the son of the then Emperor Vespasian and general of the forces besieging Jerusalem, finished a wall of pointed stakes around the city making escape impossible.
This was foretold in Luke 19:43,44 “For a time is coming upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank [with pointed stakes] about you and surround you and shut you in on every side. And they will dash you down to the ground, you [Jerusalem] and your children within you; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, [all] because you did not come progressively to recognise and know and understand [from observation and experience] the time of your visitation [that is, when God was visiting you, the time in which God showed Himself gracious toward you and offered you salvation through Christ].- (Amplified Bible)
The abomination of desolation
Matthew 24:15-26 (ESV) "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
Mark 13:14 (ESV) "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." This verse in the Olivet Discourse also occurs in the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 21.20-21 (ESV) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…"
Notice that Luke uses the phrase 'Jerusalem surrounded by Armies' in place of 'the Abomination of Desolation [standing where it ought not to be]' in Matthew and Mark. Thus, the Abomination of Desolation is used as a synonymous title for the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem.
The appointment of Vespasian
Upon the defeat of Cestius, the Emperor Nero appointed Titus Flavius Vespasianus (later to become Emperor Vespasian in 69 AD) to take care of the Judean uprising. “Vespasian, along with legions X Fretensis and V Macedonica, landed at Ptolemais in April 67. There he was joined by his son Titus, who arrived from Alexandria at the head of Legio XV Apollinaris, as well as by the armies of various local allies including that of king Agrippa II. Fielding more than 60,000 soldiers, Vespasian began operations by subjugating Galilee.
While the war in Judea was being won, great events were occurring in Rome. In the middle of 68 AD, the emperor Nero's increasingly erratic behaviour finally lost him all support for his position. The Roman Senate, the praetorian guard and several prominent army commanders conspired for his removal. When the senate declared Nero an enemy of the people, he fled Rome and committed suicide on 9 June. The newly installed emperor Galba was murdered after just a few months by a rival, triggering a civil war that came to be known as the Year of the Four Emperors. In 69 AD, though previously uninvolved, the popular Vespasian was also hailed emperor by the legions under his command. He decided, upon gaining further widespread support, to return to Rome to claim the throne from the usurper Vitellius, leaving his son Titus to finish the war in Judea.”- Wikipedia
The Seven Year Covenant
In 63 AD, Nero appointed Vespasian governor of the Africa Province which covered most of the southern Mediterranean coastline from modern day Tunisia to Libya. Instead of corruptly lining his pockets like many governors of the day, he spent his time making valuable friends. It was this ability to garner support that led him to become Emperor in 69 AD. The armies of Judea and Egypt declared him Emperor in June and July of 69 AD, even though the Roman Senate didn't confirm him until after the murder of Vitellius in December.
Vespasian spent two years in Africa before being recalled to Rome as part of Nero's retinue, but lost Imperial favour after paying insufficient attention (some sources suggest he fell asleep) during one of the Emperor's recitals on the lyre, and found himself in the political wilderness. His appointment in 66 AD to suppress the Great Jewish Revolt in Judea was both a recognition of his military and diplomatic ability, as well as a form of punishment. The Jews were considered troublesome as the majority of them refused to become Romanised.
It is probable that Vespasian entered into arrangements with many of his contacts in Africa, as well as the generals and the upper ranks of the legions that came under his control. We know that he made agreements with “many”. These agreements are referred to in the Bible as covenants. We don't know the details, but the Bible in Daniel 9:27 identifies the term as 7 years.
The covenant with the generals would then have been made prior to the arrival of the legions in Ptolemais (modern-day Acre) in April of 67 AD. The time-frame of the Bible suggests February of that year, which would be prior to their voyages from their home ports. At the same time, he could have sent word to his friends in Africa, establishing the covenant there as well.
Dan. 9:27b “...and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease;” Upon the destruction of the Temple in August of 70 AD, this part of the prophecy was fulfilled. This date was in the middle of the seven year covenant period.
The 1,290 days and the 1,335 days of Daniel
Daniel 12:10-12 “Many shall be purified, and be made white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the continual [sacrifice] is taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, [there shall be] a thousand, two hundred, and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days! So, what are there periods speaking about?
Although these days are identified with the destruction of Rome, there is nothing to say that the starting point is identical to the 1,260 days of Revelation (although the correlation is close). The starting point of Daniel's 1,290 and 1,335 days have a starting point which is the establishment of the seven year covenant. The end of these periods are the destruction of the Temple, followed by the destruction of Jerusalem - Daniel 9:25-27. The destruction of the temple was on Av 10 (August 5) in the year 70 AD. The city burned for a month after that and when the destruction was complete, many captives were carried away. This would for the extra 45 days subsequent to the destruction of the Temple. Counting back 3 ½ years takes us to the starting point which would be in the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is January of 67AD.
Revelation and the Roman Empire
The Emperor Nero was despised within the Roman empire due to his excesses. There were many plots against him. His cruelty towards the Christians is legendary and he was considered by those of his era to be the Beast spoken of in Revelation. The Hebrew gematria ( numerical value of the name) for Nero Caesar is 666. His nick-name during his reign was coincidentally, “The Beast”.
Upon his suicide in June of 68 AD, the Empire became mired in a period of civil war. It appeared that it would not survive the constant instability. Within a year of Nero's death, there were four Emperors, the last being Vespasian who restored order, eventually gaining the full support of the Roman Senate. The near-destruction of the Roman system is considered by many to be the head wound described in Rev. 13:3 “I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery--but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marvelled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast.”
When was the Book of Revelation written?
For the conjecture above to be credible, the Book of Revelation would have had to have been written in the mid 60s rather than in 95 AD as traditionally believed. Upon examination of the available arguments, it appears that the earlier date is highly likely. It does open the door to some rather irrational speculation. Although clothed in the language of reasonableness, much of the Preterist (those who believe that most of Revelation has already happened) rhetoric is focussed on the argument that Jesus has returned bodily in 70 AD. What is also a concern is the argument that God allowed the Old Covenant and the New Covenant to co-exist for nearly 40 years.
Was Jesus' Second Coming in 70 AD?
The answer is NO, NO, a thousand times NO. The idea comes from two portions of Scripture. The first is Matthew 16:28 "There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom". This verse would appear to indicate in no uncertain terms that Jesus would return in the lifetime of those in attendance.
“It is important to see when Matthew 16:28 was literally fulfilled. To find a literal fulfilment we need only look to the next chapter (Matthew 17), where we find that the "some standing here" refers to Peter, James and John and "seeing the Son of man coming in His kingdom" refers to the transfiguration. This is confirmed by 2 Peter 1:16-18 where the transfiguration is said to be "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The transfiguration was a marvellous preview of the Lord's future coming in His kingdom majesty.” - http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/proph/matt16.htm
There is ample evidence in the word of God that Jesus did indeed come in some sense (or senses) in the first century. For example, He came in His kingdom (Matt. 16:28) with power (Mk. 9:1) on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4, 33). Now, look how Jesus described the sending of the promised Comforter (the Holy Spirit) in John 14:18: "I come unto you." Surely no one will conclude that this must mean a bodily coming of Jesus! How would He come? Not bodily, but representatively, through the Holy Spirit whom He would send (John 15:26). Again, in Matthew 24:29-30, Jesus taught that during that generation (24:34) "they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." The context of Matthew 24 tells us how they would see Him. The context of the chapter is the destruction of Jerusalem. Unquestionably, Jesus did not appear bodily in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem fell. Instead, Matthew 24:30 speaks of His presence in Jerusalem's judgment. He authorised it, and brought it to pass (cf. Isa. 19:1). They would see or discern His presence when this destructive judgment occurred. Yes, Jesus Christ came in judgment in 70 A.D., but it was not His bodily return! Similar language is used to describe His coming in judgment against the powers persecuting the saints in Revelation 1:7 (cf. Rev. 19:11-21). None of these "comings" of the Lord prevent a future coming of Christ in bodily form at the end of time! – http://www.bibleanswer.com/ad70_1.htm
What are the Ramifications?
If certain events can be explained by closer examination of the scriptures to have already occurred, what then can we rule out of our doctrine? It would mean killing off what to some are sacred cows, some being:
·No future 3 ½ years of “great tribulation”;
·No 7 year peace treaty in the Middle East;
·No appearance of “The Antichrist”a.k.a. The Beast, Man of Sin, Man of Perdition; and
·No rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Not to worry though
Although the “great” tribulation is past, there are enough natural disasters and political and religious persecution in the current day to satisfy any perverse desire to experience trials and tribulation. Plus, history has been full of Antichrists. In the past century alone, we've had Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. 1 John 4:3 “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
1 John 2:18, 19 “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from our number, but they did not [really] belong to us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us. But [they withdrew] that it might be plain that they all are not of us.” The term Antichrist is found in four verses in the Bible, all being in 1 & 2 John. This is the same John who wrote the Book of Revelation, but the word Antichrist is not mentioned there, at least not by that name. It's interesting to see that some of them were people who started out among the believers.
Note that John acknowledges that he considers his time of writing to be the end of the age. It was indeed the end of the line for those who remained in Jerusalem. According to Josephus, about 1,100,000 people died during the siege of Jerusalem. However, the Christians of that period heeded the scriptural warning and escaped the end of the age of the Jews. At that point, Israel ceased to exist and the Jews were scattered to the ends of the Earth. That is until the restoration of the nation of Israel beginning with the signing of the Balfour Agreement in November, 1917.
The major event that is yet to occur is within sight. Surely, the prospect of the return of Jesus Christ in his glory within a mere handful of years must fill us with antici.......pation.
Overview of Revelation
It is obvious from the very first verse that the Book of Revelation is as a warning about imminent events. And like the passages in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, there is a second narrative that is overlaid on the immediate message which is addressed to a different audience. He who has ears, let him hear. That audience is another generation and one which lives in the period after the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem. Daniel 12:12 “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” There was a blessing for those who survived past the final destruction of the city and avoided the captivity of those who remained. It finishes much later with the return of Jesus Christ in His glory and the coming of the New Jerusalem, a new Heaven and a new Earth. The intervening period is known as the Church Age or the Time of the Gentiles.
There are difficulties with certain issues of the extreme end of the Preterist viewpoint as there is with the Futurist perspective where everything is seen to be held over until the very end. What we need to do is to check off those things that are already undeniably fulfilled by 70 AD. That leaves us with the events that are scheduled for a later time. For example, there is the issue of the resurrection of the dead. Surely, if that had occurred in 70 AD, somebody would have noticed. There would be movies about it. For the record, Night of the Living Dead and other zombie classics don't quite meet the criteria. If Jesus had returned bodily for every eye to see, that too would have been noticed.