Shrimp Fajitas: It’s What’s for Dinner!

By | April 20, 2024

There was a lot of “Make this again!” and “Yum! This is so good!” at dinner tonight. I’ve made this before, but I’m going to definitely have to make this more frequently. It was really delicious. I served the fajitas with corn tortillas, homemade guacamole,  homemade restaurant-style salsa, and tortilla chips.

I used the fajita recipe (doubled) from Natasha’s Kitchen. I really liked using my cast iron pans to cook the shrimp and veggies; it helped give them some of the charred flavor. I made the jalapeno ranch  that she links to in the recipe, and it was delicious too! I only used half of a seeded jalapeno, and that was mild enough for my family. I warm my corn tortillas in either a dry skillet or  a skillet sprayed lightly with olive oil.

The salsa recipe I used tonight is from a favorite food blogger of mine, Iowa Girl Eats. This is a really quick and easy, but tasty salsa. I only used half of a seeded jalapeno for this as well (though I like a whole one). I also added an extra teaspoon of salt. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly, and everyone loved it! It’s very fresh tasting, unlike jarred salsas.

My guacamole recipe is a simple family favorite (except for my poor youngest, who is highly allergic to avocados!). Tonight I used 4 avocados, smashed. I chopped 1/2 of a small white onion finely and 1/2 of a large roma tomato, which I stirred into the avocado. I added salt and pepper to taste, along with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The fresh onion and lemon really add good depth of flavor, although onion powder and lemon juice can be used.

I hope you try these recipes–you’ll be sure to enjoy them!

Joy in the Midst of Trials: A Quick Look at Three Passages

By | April 20, 2024

Some passages timelessly encourage believers in the midst of trials. What follows is a quick look at three such passages—Romans 5:3–5, James 1:2–4, and 1 Peter 1:6–9. We briefly examine their common themes to encourage us today.

Trial

Both James and Peter speak of “trials” (peirasmos), a word that can focus on the aspect of testing in a trial (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6). James speaks of “the testing of your faith” (James 1:2), and Peter, “the tested genuineness of your faith” (1 Peter 1:6). “Testing” and “tested genuineness” are translations of the same word (dokimion) and are related to the word “character” (dokimē), the result of such testing that Paul describes in Romans 5:4.

Paul refers to “sufferings” (thlipsis), focusing on a trial’s distressing nature (Romans 5:3). Peter similarly notes that trials can leave us “grieved” (1 Peter 1:6). Altogether, trials are grievous, distressing events allowed by God, meant to test our faith.

Joy

Joy in trial is indicative of a believer. Peter states, “In this [a trial] you rejoice” (1 Peter 1:6). “Rejoice” (agalliaō) is used again with a description that brings out the nuance of this verb—“you… rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:9).

Paul states more succinctly, “We rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3). Apart from this passage (Romans 5:2, 3, 11), this word for “rejoice” (kauchaomai) is translated “boast” (e.g., Romans 2:17, 23) and even “glory” (e.g., Philippians 3:3). We boast and glory in suffering, knowing that God means it for our good.

Joy in the midst of trial is also imperative for the believer. James commands, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). “Count” means to think about something in a certain way. Believers must think of various kinds of unexpected trials as reason for all joy. While thinking this way should be indicative of who we are, we often fail to do so, thinking of our trials as something other than joy. We need the Spirit’s commands to counter our temptation to think this way and to view our trials correctly.

Sanctification

So how do we achieve the joy that Scripture declares and commands that we should receive in and from these trials? It comes from thinking correctly about why God gives us these trials. One reason why God gives us trials is for our present sanctification.

As we respond rightly in trial, Paul lists what suffering produces—“endurance… character… hope” (Romans 5:3–4). James likewise lists “steadfastness” and “its full effect,” being “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3–4). These lists from Paul and James are progressive, one item progressing to the next. Trials teach us to persevere, prove our character, and live with Christian maturity and hope, whatever we might experience.

Peter generally speaks of “the tested genuineness of your faith” but seems to describe later what that genuineness looks like—loving the unseen Jesus Christ, believing in Him, and rejoicing with inexpressible, glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). Persevering in trials is not simply gritting our teeth and gutting our way to their end. A true and tested faith focuses on Jesus in the midst of a trial and is marked by love, faith, and joy.

Reward

Another reason why God gives us trials is to assure us of future reward. As we persevere, we know reward will come, giving us joy right now. Paul speaks of “hope” (Romans 5:3–4), later specifying its source—we will “be saved by him [Christ] from the wrath of God” and we will “be saved by His life” (Romans 5:9–10). This hope of future salvation also stems from the knowledge of “God’s love” for us in Christ, made certain to us in “our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Similarly, James says that “the man who remains steadfast under trial” is “blessed.” And why? “For when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12). Peter likewise roots our inexpressible joy in the results of Christ’s return. At that time, “the tested genuineness of [our] faith… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor,” and we will receive “the outcome of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9).

Trials are sure to come. But trials should be for our joy. They are meant for our sanctification now, which assures us of our salvation that will come. So, in the midst of grief and distress, look to Jesus Christ, love Him, and rejoice that He will honor your faith when He gives full salvation to your soul.

Image by Сергей Корчанов from Pixabay

Jesus Christ: Our Propitiation Displaying the Righteousness of God (Romans 3:25–26)

By | April 18, 2024

Romans 3:21–26 bursts with soteriological fireworks after the dreary darkness of man’s sin and unrighteousness in Rom 1:18–3:20. Though man is unrighteous, guilty of sin, and will therefore face the righteous wrath of God (Rom 1:18–3:20), God declares us righteous through our faith in Jesus Christ who suffered the wrath of God for us (Rom 3:21–26).

Not only are these saving truths enough to light up our sky in and of themselves, but their brilliance stands out all the more when seen against the backdrop of the Old Testament. I’ll focus on just three words in Romans 3:25–26 and try to highlight their glories in light of their background or connection to the Old Testament.

Romans 3:25–26: 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)

Propitiation 

Paul identifies Christ as the One “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood” (Rom 3:25). “Propitiation” (hilastērion) is used only one other time in the New Testament, translated “mercy seat” in Heb 9:5, the primary word used in the Septuagint to refer to the mercy seat as well (e.g.,Exod 25:17; Lev 16:2). From Exod 25:17–22, 37:1–9, Lev 16:11–15, and Heb 9:5, we learn that this “seat” was a gold-covered slab that sat upon the ark of the covenant behind a veil in the Holy of Holies. The high priest sprinkled blood on it as atonement for himself and Israel once a year. Because this blood appeased the wrath of God (temporarily, while looking ahead to the full satisfaction of God’s wrath in Christ), the notion of “mercy” is in view. Because the Lord is “enthroned upon the cherubim” (Ps 80:2; cf. 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; Ps 99:1), two of which were made to sit above the ark (Exod 25:18), some see the notion of this slab being a royal “seat” as well. However, though the Lord would appear over the mercy seat (Lev 16:2; Exod 30:6), its primary purpose involved propitiation, satisfying the wrath of God. The Lord would appear here when the high priest sprinkled it with blood as he offered a sacrifice for himself and the people (Lev 16:1–16).

Now, however, Jesus Christ is our propitiation, the One who has suffered the wrath of God for us. He is not hidden behind a veil for a high priest to access once a year, but rather He is the One whose flesh as a curtain was torn for us, giving us confidence to enter the holy places by His blood (Heb 10:19–20). He Himself is the sacrifice, High Priest, and propitiating mercy seat, all in one!

Put Forward 

Paul’s use of “put forward” (protithēmi) was likely a clever use of an Old Testament word as well. The Septuagint uses this verb and a related noun to describe what the priests would do with the shewbread and the lamp in the tabernacle (Exod 40:4, prothesis; Lev 24:8, protithēmi). These items were to be “put forward” before the Lord in the tabernacle, a place that the priests would regularly see (cf. Lev 24:9).

Speaking of Christ for us, Paul states that He was the One “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood” (Rom 3:25). Whereas the mercy seat was previously hidden in the Holy of Holies, other objects in the tabernacle were “put forward” for some to see. But now Christ, our “mercy seat” and propitiation, has been put forward by God so that His righteousness is seen by all!

Passing Over

For all the formality that went into the Day of Atonement (Lev 16), the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Old Testament never appeased the wrath of God like Christ did when He shed His blood on the cross. “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). During the time before Christ, then, God had not fully dealt with sin. His justice had not yet been on full display by pouring out His wrath upon Christ on the cross. As Paul describes it, the time before the cross was when God “passed over former sins,” thanks to His “divine forbearance” (Rom 3:25).

God lost nothing of His righteousness by not dealing fully with sin in the times before the cross. Rather, He was patient, knowing His wrath would be satisfied in Christ. Now, in “the present time,” God’s righteousness is obvious to all—He gave full justice to sin when Christ died for us and is therefore just in justifying all who believe (Rom 3:26). Our penalty for sin is met in Christ, and our righteousness comes from Him. What a righteous God we serve, and what a loving Savior we have who came to die for us!

Wrapping Up

We have seen that God passed over sins for a time until He put forward a propitiation for us in Jesus Christ. He was patient in previous ages until He would punish sin fully in Jesus Christ. But remember—this is “a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom 3:25). Let us make our justification sure, believing in Christ and knowing that God’s wrath against us was satisfied in His Son on the cross.

Photo credit: The Mercy Seat, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible

The Savior Who Died in the Place of a Sinner of Like You and Me

By | March 30, 2024

Four passages tell us of how Pilate released Barabbas from death on a cross instead of our Lord Jesus Christ— Matthew 27:15–23; Mark 15:6–14; Luke 23:18–23; John 18:39–40. The following examines their descriptions of Barabbas, the innocence of Jesus, and how they portray how Jesus’ death for us.

First, consider the descriptions of Barabbas. Beyond his name (literally, “son of the father”), he is called a notorious prisoner (Matt 27:16), a rebel who committed murder in the insurrection (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19), and a robber (John 18:40).

Notorious Prisoner

Notorious (episēmos) stems from a word meaning “of exceptional quality,”* which can be either good (e.g., Rom 16:7, “Andonicus and Junia… well known to the apostles”) or bad, as it is found in Matt 27:16. Barabbas was not just a common criminal but a notorious criminal among them all.

Rebel

In both Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19, Barabbas is a rebel (stasiastēs), “a factious person who causes public discord.”* In these same verses, he said to have committed murder in the insurrection (stasis), Related to the rebel, defined as “movement toward a (new) state of affairs, uprising, riot, revolt, rebellion.”*

Robber

A robber (lēstēs) could be a “robber, highwayman, bandit.”* This word refers to sellers who used the temple for illicit gain (Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46), people who wrongfully and stealthily enter the property of others as thieves (John 10:1, 8), and even people who strip, beat, and leave travelers for dead (Luke 10:30, 36; 2 Cor 11:26). These activities could be assumed for a more intense meaning of this word, translated as “revolutionary, insurrectionist, guerrilla.”* In this sense, the term robber applied to Barabbas and the two with Jesus on their crosses (Matt 27:44; Mark 15:27). Jesus also used this term as a humorous description of Himself whose primary activity was teaching—not the kind of person who needed be apprehended with soldiers, swords, and clubs (Mark 14:48; Luke 22:52).

In contrast, Jesus had done nothing wrong to deserve His death on the cross. The Synoptic Gospels show Jesus’ innocence through Pilate’s question, “Why? What evil has He done?” (Matt 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:22). John likewise gives Pilate’s declaration, “I found no guilt in Him” (John 19:38).

As the story continues, Pilate pleased the crowds by releasing Barabbas instead of Jesus. Though we do not know if Barabbas ever came to saving faith, the narratives use Barabbas and Jesus to picture salvation in this way—Jesus died in the place of a sinner, someone like you and me. And, better than the deliverance of Barabbas, our salvation is eternal through Christ who died for us, arose, and will come for us one day.

*All definitions are from Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Image by sspiehs3 from Pixabay

We Thought We “Hung the Moon”

By | March 26, 2024

My kids’ history and science lessons recently coincided to study the landing of the first man on the Moon on July 20, 1969. It was fascinating to again read about and then re-watch Neil Armstrong’s first “small step for man,” and “giant leap for mankind.”

Armstrong’s famous first footprint in the fine dust of the Moon’s surface is a visual representation of the amazing technology and scientific advancement that man has developed over the past two thousand years or so.

Wiktionary defines the idiomatic phrase to hang the moon as “To consider or think of someone to be extraordinary or exceptional.” I suppose we could (rightfully) say that man’s walking on the moon was pretty extraordinary and exceptional, as were the people who made it happen. But it didn’t come without a lot of time, effort, and money. According to history.com, “The Apollo program was a costly and labor-intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today’s dollars).”

As I thought about all the money required and effort made to simply take a step on the Moon, I was struck by the contrast of what was necessary to actually “hang” the Moon—God’s spoken word.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14–18)

It was an amazing feat for a human to walk on the Moon, but it was a feat. God, by simply speaking, formed Earth’s only natural satellite to provide light indirectly and to guide the day/night cycles, seasons, and tides.

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. (Psalm 104:19a)

Nature itself can sing God’s praise. The psalmist commands the sun, moon, and stars to praise him.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. (Psalm 148:3–6)

If nature praises God, how much more should we praise him when we see God’s works in the sky? It should amaze and humble us that the Creator of the heavens should care for us, his creation here on Earth, over 200,000 miles away from the Moon.

We should especially be grateful for God’s creation of the Moon and other heavenly lights, because they remind us that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:3–9)

And when we see that Moon hanging in the sky—and the laws of gravity and physics that keep everything in its fixed order—we can be reminded that the God who created the Moon and that fixed order will keep his word.

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name: “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” (Jeremiah 31:35–36)

NASA claims that “The Moon was likely formed after a Mars-sized body collided with Earth several billion years ago.” If such were the case, then man’s walking on this cosmic accident points simply to man’s ingenuity and capabilities to explore beyond our home planet.

But if we view the Moon as an intentional creation of an all-powerful Creator, then man’s first steps on the Moon (though amazing and scientifically incredible) should actually make mankind feel his powerlessness and vulnerability. We, along with the Moon, are created. We, along with the Moon, praise the Creator, the One who actually “Hung the Moon.”

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3–4)

(If you would like some more fodder for praise, check out the Hubble Telescope’s Amazing Top 100 Images. God is amazing!)

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Full Moon Image by Pexels from Pixabay

 

Joy in the Midst of Unexpected Trials

By | March 21, 2024

James 1:2–4 states, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James’s main command is, “Count it all joy,” “it” being “when you meet trials of various kinds.” While the pain of a trial lasts as long as the trial itself and even lingers in its memory, there is a deep-rooted joy that we can have nonetheless—the joy of knowing that God uses these trials to mature our faith in Him.

To “meet” these trials has the idea of encountering them unexpectedly. This same verb is translated as “striking” in Acts 27:41. Paul and others attempted to sail to land in the midst of a storm. However, their boat unexpectedly hit an obstacle along the way—“striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground.” No one looks for trials. We sometimes meet them unexpectedly.

However, even when we unexpectedly meet a trial, joy can still be ours. We can have joy as “brothers,” those who have a fellowship with the Lord and one another, helping each other through these times. We can have joy, knowing “that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” “Steadfastness” is “the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty” (BDAG). And, as we “let steadfastness have its full effect” (literally, “its completed work”), we will be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The idea is this—as we encounter various trials and respond in faith, we eventually reach a point of consistent Christian maturity. If nothing else, that we see that maturity when we have joy in the midst of trials.

Remember our greatest example of joy in the midst of trial—“Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). In this passage, Jesus looked to “the joy that was set before Him,” “endured the cross,” and did so “despising the shame” that it brought. “The joy set before Him” was to be at the Father’s right hand, ruling a blood-bought church that would be His spotless Bride one day. “The cross” was the worst of trials that one could experience—immense, undeserved physical pain that led to death, becoming sin for us, and being forsaken by the Father above. “Despising the shame” meant thinking little to nothing of the shame of the cross when compared to the joy that would soon be His.

Are you in the midst of trial right now? If not, you might unexpectedly meet one soon. When it comes, count it joy to know that God is using this trial to make you more like Jesus Christ in whose presence you will be one day.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Wing of Abominations in Daniel 9:27

By | March 7, 2024

What is “the wing of abominations” in Daniel 9:27?

As a starting point, whatever this phrase may mean, I believe that the “one week” is seven years, the “one who makes desolate” is the Antichrist, “a strong covenant with many” is his covenant with Israel, and “for half the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering” refers to the Antichrist breaking this covenant in the middle of these seven years to allow Israel’s sacrifices and offerings no longer. Also at this time, the Antichrist comes “on the wing of abominations.” What does that mean?

Of its 109 instances in the OT, “wing” (kānāp) overwhelmingly refers to the wing or wings of a bird or angel. It can also refer to the edge of a robe (e.g., Num 15:38; Deut 22:12; 1 Sam 15:27). Closer to the meaning of Dan 9:27, it can also figuratively express how something overwhelms another like a bird covering something with its wings. For example, Isa 8:8 pictures the Assyrian army as a bird who covers Israel’s land with outspread wings. So, here in Dan 9:27 could be a figurative use of “wing.” Only, rather than soldiers, Jerusalem and its temple are overwhelmed with the Antichrist’s abominations. He demands that all worship him as God (2 Thess 2:3–4).

For a narrower understanding of this phrase, some tie “wing” to the temple’s “pinnacle” where Jesus was tempted by Satan (Matt 4:5; Luke 4:9). “Pinnacle” is translated from the Greek pterūgion (“edge”), the diminutive form of pterūx, “wing,” thus meaning something like “little wing” or the edge of a wing. If “wing” in Dan 9:27 spoke of a location within the temple, it could refer to its edge or a wing.

Along with this understanding, Jesus refers to “the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (Matt 24:15), a place “where he ought not to be” (Mark 13:14). Dan 9:27 is thus taken literally to refer to the edge of the temple, and “the abomination of desolation” is also taken to refer to the image of the Antichrist in Rev 13:11–17 (cf. Dan 11:31; 12:11). The abomination on the wing is an image of the Antichrist set up at the edge of the temple. It comes to life and enforces its worship and the Antichrist’s by execution and extortion.

The context of Dan 9:24–27 does involve the Antichrist, Israel’s sacrifice and offering, and thus the temple at this time. It is not immediately clear, however, that the phrase “on the wing of abominations” refers to an image that comes alive on the edge of the temple. At the same time, the passages above indicate that this image and its actions are certainly among the Antichrist’s many abominations that overwhelm Israel at this time. As I understand it, this phrase thus refers not to a literal location but figuratively to the manner in which the Antichrist desolates Israel in the second half of these seven years.

Image: “Jerusalem, Historic center, City wall image” by Christine Schmidt from Pixabay

Charts and Timeline for the Book of Daniel

By | March 6, 2024

I’ve been preaching from Daniel for my church every other Sunday afternoon. I’ve developed my own charts and a timeline that have been helpful to me, and I’m putting it here as a resource for our folks and anyone else. At the end of this post are links to other Daniel-related posts I’ve written.

Comparison and Interpretation of Daniel 2, 7, 8, and 11

Daniel 2 (603 BC)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Daniel 7 (553 BC)

Daniel’s Dream

Daniel 8 (551 BC)

Daniel’s Vision

Daniel 11 (536 BC)

Daniel’s Vision

Interpretation
Head of gold (2:31, 37–38)

 

Lion with eagle’s wings (7:4, 12, 17) N/A N/A Babylon led by Nebuchadnezzar (605–562 BC)
Chest and arms of silver (2:32, 39a) Bear raised on one side with three ribs in its mouth (7:5, 12, 17) Conquering ram with two horns, one higher than the other (8:3–4, 20) Three kings and a fourth rich king would provoke an eventual response that ended this kingdom (11:2–3). Stronger Persia with weaker Media, initially led by Cyrus (539–336 BC); Xerxes/Ahasuerus stirred Greece c. 480 BC so that Alexander the Great responded 150 years later.
Middle/thighs of bronze (2:32, 39b) Four-winged, four-headed leopard (7:6, 12, 17) Swift male goat with one horn who smote the ram; one horn broke to be replaced by four (8:5–8, 21–22) Greece’s conquering king is broken into four kingdoms (11:3–4); two of them (north and south) battle for 150 years with Palestine in between (11:5–35) Greece led by Alexander the Great (336–323) who conquers Persians and Medes; Greece split four ways after his death; the northern Syrian Seleucids battle the Ptolemies in Egypt (323–167 BC) .
Legs of iron with feet of iron and clay (2:33, 40–43) Beast with strength, iron teeth, bronze claws, ten horns and an eleventh (7:7–8, 11, 17, 19–21, 23–26) Little horn who comes from one of the four, grows great, does evil (8:9–14, 23–26) The final northern king exalts himself above all, rules with force, invades Palestine, but falls in the end (11:36–45) Rome gradually came to power in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC; Antichrist rules in the end; the church lives between Rome’s rise and fall.
Stone into a mountain (2:34–35, 44–45) Everlasting dominion given to the one like a son of man (7:13–14, 18, 22, 27) Sanctuary restored; end of the little horn (8:14a, 25b) Deliverance and resurrection; then the righteous shine like the sun (12:1–3, 12) The Kingdom of Christ

 

Daniel’s 70 “Sevens”

Just as Israel failed seventy times to keep the Sabbath year of rest for the land for 490 years, totaling seventy years (every seventh year), so also God exiled Israel for seventy years (605–536 BC; cf. 2 Kgs 24:10–17; Ezra 3:8–9) and prophesied of 490 years to come (Dan 9:1–2, 24–27), years “decreed about your people [Israel] and your city [Jerusalem]” (Dan 9:24).

Of these 490 years, 483 began in 445 BC (cf. Neh 2:1–8) and ended with the death of Christ in AD 33. Seven years remain, which Dan 9:24–27 describes as a time involving the Antichrist and great upheaval for Israel. Each year is a Jewish year of 360 days each, 30 days per month (cf. Gen 7:11; 8:3–4).

There are several reasons to see these “sevens” in Daniel 9:24–27 as seventy groups of seven years, totaling 490 years. For these five points, see Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, vol. 3 (Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2010), 380.

  • Daniel was repenting for Israel’s exile of 70 years, a punishment for forsaking every seventh year of rest for the land for 490 years.
  • That being said, the Jews were already familiar (or should have been) with life according to a seven-year cycle (cf. Exod 21:2–6; Lev 25:1–7; Deut 15:1–18).
  • So, corresponding to what has been, Israel’s exile of 70 years related to an area of neglect for 490 years, Daniel 9:24–27 tells us of 70 future sets of seven years, totaling another 490 years.
  • Daniel even clarifies immediately after in Daniel 10:2–3 that he mourned (literally translated) “three weeks of days.” This language gives us another indicator that the “sevens” or “weeks” of Dan 9:24–27 were “sevens” or “weeks” of years.
  • When comparing Daniel to Revelation, matching terms for time describing this time indicate that the final “seven” is seven years (cf. Dan 7:25; 9:27; 12:7; Rev 11:2–3; 12:6, 14; 13:5).

Period of Time

Activities During This Time

Dan 9:25a seven sevens, 49 years, 445–396 BC Dan 9:25a – The word would go out to restore and build Jerusalem. This was probably the word of King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and rebuilt it (Neh 2:1–8).
Dan 9:25b sixty-two sevens, 434 years, 396–33 BC Dan 9:25b – Further rebuilding would take place—“it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.” This time ends with the death of Jesus—“an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.”
Dan 9:26b–27 one and final seven, 7 years, future Dan 9:26b–27 – Jerusalem and its sanctuary are destroyed. A flood comes. War. Desolations. The Antichrist begins these seven years with “a strong covenant” with Israel to reestablish her calendar (“sacrifice and offering”), but breaks it halfway through and “shall put an end” to it all, replacing peace with “abominations” and making things “desolate.”

Dan 9:24 – As terrifying as these final years will be, they end the entirety of the 490 prophesied years. With reference to Israel and Jerusalem, God finishes transgression, puts an end to sin, atones for iniquity, brings in everlasting righteousness, seals of vision and prophet, and anoints a most holy place.

 

The Future Seven-year Tribulation, 75 Days, and 1,000 Years

The Tribulation: The Final Seven of 490 Years

Just as Israel failed seventy times to keep the Year of Jubilee for 490 years, totaling seventy years (every seventh year), so also God exiled Israel for seventy years (605–536 BC; cf. 2 Kgs 24:10–17; Ezra 3:8–9) and prophesied of 490 years to come (Dan 9:1–2, 24–27). Of these 490 years, 483 began in 445 BC (cf. Neh 2:1–8) and ended with the death of Christ in AD 33. Seven years remain, which Dan 9:24–27 describes as a time involving the Antichrist and great upheaval for Israel. Each year is a Jewish year of 360 days each, 30 days per month (cf. Gen 7:11; 8:3–4).

Daniel’s 75 Days

The 75 days between the Tribulation and Millennium seem to be further divided into an initial 30 and a final 45, the 30 completing purification (Dan 12:10–11) and the 45 bringing who remains into blessing (Dan 12:12). Perhaps God purifies as He judges the nations in the first 30 days (cf. Matt 25) and then blesses those who remain by readying them and the world for the kingdom of Christ in the following 45 days.

The Millennium and the Eternal State

The prophets foretold future events but did not always gaps of time between these events (cf. 1 Pet 1:10–12). The gap between Christ’s first and second comings is a prime example, the time between “the year of the Lord’s favor” (Christ’s first coming) and “the day of the vengeance of our God” (Christ’s second coming – see Isa 61:1–2 with Luke 4:18–21). Another gap sometimes not made clear is that between the Millennium and the Eternal State.

Though these two times are not exactly the same, many aspects are similar between the two, leading prophets like Daniel to see them together as an everlasting kingdom (Dan 2:44; 7:25; cf. Isa 65:17–25)—a kingdom ruled by Christ which gives way to a kingdom in which He eternal sits on the throne with the Father (1 Cor 15:24; Rev 3:21; 22:3).

Tribulation (Daniel 9:27 one week) 1,000 Years
First Half of Tribulation

Matt 24:9 tribulation

Rev 11:3 1,260 days

Second Half of Tribulation

Matt 24:20 great tribulation

Dan 7:25 a time, times, and half a time

Dan 9:27 half of the week

Dan 12:1 a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time

Dan 12:7 a time, times, and half a time

Rev 11:2 forty-two months

Rev 12:6 1,260 days

Rev 12:14 a time, and times, and half a time

Rev 13:5 forty-two months

 

~Daniel’s 75 Days Between the Tribulation and Millennium~

Dan 12:11 1,290 days (1,260 + 30)

Dan 12:12 1,335 days (1,260 + 75)

Dan 2:44 a kingdom that shall never be destroyed

Dan 7:27 his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom

Matt 25:33 the kingdom

Mark 14:25; 15:43; Luke 22:16, 18; 23:51; et al the kingdom of God

Luke 22:30 my kingdom

Luke 23:42 your kingdom

1 Cor 15:24 the kingdom

Rev 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (2x) the thousand years

 

Significant Dates from the Book of Daniel

  • 1095 BC (or earlier): Israel neglected the Sabbath year of rest for the land for 490 years (9:1–2)
  • 605 BC: Daniel is taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah (609–598 BC). Israel’s 70 years of exile begin (1:1; 9:1–2).
  • 605–530’s BC: Daniel lived in Babylon from a teenager into his 80’s.
  • 605–602 BC: Daniel received three years of Babylonian education (1:5).
  • 605–562 BC: Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon—the greatest of four, successive earthly kingdoms in his and Daniel’s visions; head of gold; lion with eagle’s wings (2:31, 37–38; 7:4, 12, 17).
  • 603 BC: Nebuchadnezzar was given a prophetic dream in the second year of his reign (2:1).
  • 556–539 BC: Nabonidus ruled Babylon; he was son to Nebuchadnezzar and father to Belshazzar.
  • 553–539 BC: Belshazzar ruled Babylon (co-ruled with his father Nabonidus; cf. 5:7, 16, 29).
  • 553 BC: Daniel had a prophetic dream in the first year of King Belshazzar (7:1).
  • 551 BC: Daniel had a vision in the third year of King Belshazzar (8:1).
  • 539 BC: The Persian Cyrus conquered Babylon. Belshazzar is killed (5:30). Cyrus placed Darius over Babylon (5:31). An angel (Gabriel?) assisted Michael in fighting a demon over Persia (10:20–11:1).
  • 539–336 BC: This is the period of the kingdom of the weaker Medes and stronger Persians—chest and arms of silver; bear raised on one side with three ribs in its mouth; ram with two horns, one higher than the other (2:32, 39a; 7:5, 12, 17; 8:3–4, 20)
  • 538–537 BC: During the first year of Darius the Mede, Daniel came to understand that he was living towards the end of Jeremiah’s prophesied seventy years of exile (9:1).
  • 536 BC: Daniel received a vision in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia (10:1).
  • 445–396 BC: These years were the first 49 (seven sevens) of Daniel’s prophesied 490 years (9:25a). These are Jewish years, 360 days a year, 30 days a month.
  • 396 BC–AD 33: The years are the next 434 (sixty-two sevens) of Daniel’s prophesied 490 Jewish years, a section of years ending when Christ died on the cross, when “an anointed one shall be cut off” (9:25b).
  • 336–100? BC: Greece swiftly rose to power under Alexander the Great (336–323 BC) and then divided into four kingdoms—middle and thighs of bronze; four-winged, four-headed leopard; swift male goat with one horn that is broken and replaced by four (2:32, 39b; 7:6, 12, 17; 8:5–8, 21–22; cf. 11:2–35).
  • 100? BC—Future: Rome gradually rose to power in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC; this kingdom continues presently as it does not end until the return of Christ; the Antichrist rules it in the end—legs of iron with feet of iron and clay; terrible beast with horns; little horn who rises to power (2:33, 40–43; 7:7–8, 11, 17, 19–21, 23–26; 8:9–14, 23–26). Christ began and builds His church during this time. He will rescue the church before the final 7 of Daniel’s prophesied 490 years.
  • Future Seven Years (and 75 days): The final 7 (“one week”) of Daniel’s prophesied 490 Jewish years are yet to come (9:26b–27). The Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel halfway through this time (9:27a) and sets up an abomination in the temple (9:27b; cf. 11:36–45), initiating the 1,290 (12:11) and 1,335 days (12:12) that apparently outlast the second half of these seven years (1,260 days) by an initial 30 (1,290 minus 1,260) and eventual 75 days (1,335 minus 1,260).
  • Future: When the 490 years are complete, the kingdom of Christ shall come—the stone that crushes Rome and becomes a mountain (2:34–35, 44–45; 7:13–14, 18, 22, 27; 8:14a, 25b).

Other Posts Related to Daniel

An Overview of Daniel

The Premillennial, Pretribulational Rapture of the Saints

The Coming Tribulation: The Math of the Matter

A Chronology for the Events in Daniel 9

Jeremiah’s Prophecy of Judah’s Exile in Babylon for Seventy Years

How Daniel 9:24–27 Helps Us Understand Mark 13:14–23

Gabriel: A Messenger of Christ and Things to Come

The Wing of Abominations in Daniel 9:27

Who Does Daniel See and Hear in Daniel 10:5–9?

These are a Few of My Favorite {Homeschool} Things: History (& Literature)

By | February 24, 2024
This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series These are a Few of My Favorite {Homeschool} Things

I very loosely follow a classical method for teaching my kids. This is mostly applicable for me in how I do history and corresponding literature picks. For 1st-4th grade, then again in 5th-8th grade, we have progressed from ancient times, to the middle ages, to the early modern age, and finally to the modern age.

History is also one of the subjects that I teach to all of my kids at once. I have different expectations and work loads for them based on their age, but they all listen to me read. If they don’t get their ancient history the first time, they still have two more go’s at it! 🙂

The first time we went through, we used The Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer when my oldest was in 1st grade. I bought each book, along with the accompanying book for each year. The activity book gave options for activities that we could do to accompany our lessons and make them more hands on. We chose to do some and skipped others. There are student worksheets, maps, coloring sheets, and lists of books to read for each age level.

My kids and I especially liked the first few years of this curriculum. Those especially read more like stories and were more engaging for my younger ones. The modern age book became a bit heavier for my 2nd and 4th graders at the time. Though the author claims to be a Christian, her history is not overtly “Christian.” She states history as it is without really interpreting it in writing from a Christian perspective.

The second time we went through history (5th-8th grade for my oldest; the rest are each 2 years younger than each other), we chose to go through The Mystery of History curriculum. Because this is what we have most recently done, I will probably have more to say about this curriculum. We have really enjoyed this. The author, Linda Lacour Hobar, incorporates Scripture and the gospel message throughout all her texts, and she incorporates biblical history into her ancient history text as well.

The newest editions of her texts are hardcover with numerous color illustrations. Each one has an accompanying companion guide that you can purchase with suggested activities for different-aged students, review work, mapping exercises, etc. I also purchased the super supplemental collection in pdf format for each year. This included challenge review cards, coloring pages, various notebook pages for taking notes (depending on the style of notes your student prefers), and a folderbook.

Usually my youngest (currently 2nd and 4th grade) will color while they listen to me read. My oldest (6th and 8th grade) take notes using the notebook pages. Each week has a pre-test just to see what the kids know (really short) and then a cumulative post-test (varying in format from quiz, to game, to crossword puzzle). There is a big, quarterly worksheet for the kids to do and then 2 semester exams.

I love reading the Mystery of History, and it is especially engaging for my oldest. The chapters, however, can be a bit long and less engaging for my younger kids. I don’t require them to take any of the quizzes or tests, just to listen and then draw or play quietly while they do their best to listen.

As we will be completing Modern History for the second time this year (for my oldest at least), and as my oldest is entering high school this next year, I will have to modify things a bit for the next year. My plan is to at least begin again Story of the World. My youngest are mostly in view here. I think they will enjoy and benefit from the shorter, story-like lessons.  I’ve also purchased a review questions pdf and test pdf for my daughter (rising 7th grader) to make the curriculum work for her as well.

My oldest (rising 9th grader) will be using Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the Ancient World. I also purchased the accompanying study and teaching guide, as well as the map supplement. I plan on his being more independent this year, tying in his literature reading into his ancient history studies, and incorporating his literature/history into some writing assignment. That’s the tentative plan, anyway! 😉

As I mentioned above and in other posts, we heavily tie our history into our literature, especially as the kids grow older. Their writing programs (especially Writing with Skill) also teach how to analyze and write about literature. I am personally not really into literature programs (even though I’m a huge reader—and always have been—I actually disliked book reports and a lot of my literature classes in school and college. Here’s an interesting link if you’d like to hear more about that kind of thing from another homeschooling mom: https://readaloudrevival.com/196/ ). We talk a lot about books in and “out” of school, and I think that is really helpful for helping them think about what they’re reading and analyze it informally.

This is what we’ve done so far, and it has worked and been enjoyable overall for everyone. Perhaps I will update this post once we’ve completed another round of Story of the World for my girls and Ancient History for my son in high school.

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Stonehenge Image by Zdeněk Tobiáš from Pixabay

Books Image by Debbie EM from Pixabay

 

 

Evaluating the Hearts of our “Church Kids”

By | February 20, 2024

Christian parents have the responsibility and privilege to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:1–4). One of the challenges—perhaps the most difficult—is teaching our children not only to obey, but also to love God.

Children who grow up in Christian homes and churches are somewhat similar to children who grew up in the covenant community of Israel. Jewish parents were to circumcise their sons at eight days old as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. They were to love God themselves and teach God’s word to their children.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9; cf. Deut 11:18-21)

God also required that each Israelite born into the covenant “circumcise” his heart through personal faith evidenced by love for God and obedience to his word.

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. (Deut 10:12-16)

As New Testament believers, with the law having been put aside (cf. Gal 3:23–29), we are not required to circumcise our sons. The New Testament does not require any rite that places our unbelieving children in the “church community.” Only a believer with a credible profession of faith and repentance is baptized and added to the church in the New Testament.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. . . . So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:38, 41-42)

The difference between the Old Testament covenant community and the New Testament church is clear. But the similarities in bringing up children in both of these contexts are notable. In both, parents love God, and they teach their children about God and their responsibility to love and obey him as well. Children must then individually respond to God in love and obedience.

Our children are taught to believe that the earth is round, that George Washington was the first president of the USA, that a noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea—and they believe it. Our children are also taught to believe that God made them, that Jesus came to earth as a baby, and that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead—and they usually believe that too.

Our children go to church with us weekly. They may help their parents serve in the church. They memorize Scripture. They are taught to obey, to be kind, to read their Bible. . . to look like a Christian. But they too must “circumcise their hearts.” They must not just believe what they’ve always learned is true; they must love the One who is the truth.

Many of our children have mentally and verbally assented to the truths of the Gospel (e.g., God is Creator, I am a sinner deserving punishment, Jesus lived the perfect life I could not, and Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead) from a very young age. But are there any indicators that can clue us in to our children’s love for the Lord beyond this necessary belief in the Gospel?

Obviously, all believers must continue to persevere and grow in sanctification for their entire lives (cf. 2 Pet 3:18; Jude 20). But what about our children who are in our homes now? What if they want to be baptized? Does the Bible give us any guidelines by which we can try to gauge true conversion, especially in children and young people?

What does the New Testament tell children? The apostle Paul directly addresses children one time (in two letters) in which God tells children that they are to obey their parents.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Eph 6:1–3)

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Col 3:20)

Nearly any child can be forced to “obey.” Children can do the things they are told and not do what they are told not to do. But a child who loves God will progressively grow in true obedience to parents—generally quick to obey (without the persistent eyeroll, sigh, or stomp) because he or she desires to please the Lord. This child (though certainly not perfectly) will show honor for his or her parents through facial and vocal responses, as well as actions, in an increasingly God-pleasing manner.

The Proverbs give more clues as to what a wise child may look like. A wise person is one who fears the Lord (cf. Prov 1:1–7), so when we see our children exhibiting growing wisdom, we may be seeing true love for the Lord.

One oft-repeated characteristic of a wise son is that he listens to his parents.

A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.(Prov 13:1)

Many Proverbs speak to listening and hearing (cf. Prov 1:5, 8-9; 4:1-14, 20-22; 5:7, 11-14; 7:24; 8:32-34; 12:15; 13:1; 15:31-33; 19:20; 23:9, 19, 22). Though children may respond differently when hearing loving instruction or rebuke (especially at different ages), often a parent can discern when these words are being truly heard and not tuned out, willfully ignored, or scornfully received.

When these instructions to listen are paired with John’s words in the New Testament, an additional criterion can help us discern our children’s hearts.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8–10)

Most children have the tendency to deny that they have done wrong (actually, don’t we all?!). “It’s not my fault!” But John says that this repeated insistence that we have not sinned reveals a heart that doesn’t truly hold to the truth. As our children listen to our rebukes and increasingly admit and confess their sins, we can have more confidence that their hearts truly have grabbed hold of the truths that their minds believe.

With salvation comes freedom from the power of sin (cf. Rom 6). For children, key sin issues often revolve around obedience and response to their parents. But any sin that a child struggles with (e.g., unkindness, selfishness, lying, stealing) will have less of a hold on a child as the child grows in his or her true faith.

Along with John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). May all of our children love God with all their hearts and walk in the truth which they have been taught.

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Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash