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The Olivet Prophecy is fulfilled (1st half)


“this generation” – in our future?

There is ample evidence that the Olivet Prophecy is fulfilled – the first half that is. There is ample evidence both exegetical and historical to establish Matt 24 verses 4 thru 34 are already fulfilled. In our Bible study a couple questions came up about “this generation” in Mark 13 or also in Matt 24. Here is an explanation that combines a couple of discussion questions that came up.  

How is the word “this” used in Mark 13 when referring to “this generation”? Does the use of “this” instead of “that” in the original Greek have any special meaning not apparent in English? The short answer that “this” is used in similar ways as in English (though not always exactly the same).   So when Jesus said, “this generation” in the Olivet Prophecy was he referring exclusively to the 1st century? What if he had said, “that generation” would it have indicated a future generation instead of the 1st century generation? I believe that when Jesus said “this generation” his words cannot be understood any other way than to be referring to the generation to which he was speaking, the generation in which he was living.  

An example is helpful. Here is one in Peter’s sermon that shows us “this” and “that” used side by side. Peter said in Acts 2:16, “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” The word “this” is referring to the events happening in front of Peter in the 1st century. The word “this” to Peter means his here and his now, the now of the 1st century.   For Peter the word “that” is referring to the pronouncement of the prophet centuries earlier. So then, the word “this” refers to what is near and the word “that” is used to refer to what is at a distance, in this case in the past.  

Back to the Olivet Prophecy.

Context helps us a great deal. Flow of context is just as important. Pastor Mazak mentioned this morning about the unfortunate placement of the chapter division between Mark 11 and 12. I agree. This is also the case between Matthew 23 and 24. Notice what Jesus said at the end of Matthew 23. He opined that “all these things will come upon this generation” (the 1st century, see v36).

Then just 5 verses later the discussion about the Temple (not a future one) and its corruption continues into Matt 24. Jesus continues to talk about “these things,” the things that will come about on “this generation” (the 1st century, see Matt 24:1 through Matt 24: 34.   Then in Matt 24:35 and following Jesus goes on to talk about his Second Coming.   Another thing that helps us is to see that in the Gospels every time the phrase “this generation” appears it refers to the 1st century, the era in which Jesus and his disciples were living. Josephus, a 1st century historian is very helpful on this.  

I am currently going through Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blindness to Better Understand the Bible. The authors do a great job in calling out the tip of the iceberg of our Western America modern lens. This WAM often clouds our interpretation of Scripture because we are immersed in WAM. We travel very little to non-Western cultures. We have imbedded in our culture a negative bias against non-Western cultures. We tend to read the Bible through popular theological lenses of the day (which tend to be mostly Futuristic).  

The authors of Misreading Scripture write that “…reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience. To open the Word of God is to step into a strange world where things are very unlike our own” (KL, 74). Compounding the strangeness we take a modern system of interpretation such as Dispensationalism (originating around 1830) and layer it over the text of Scripture.  

By taking a Futurist view of the Olivet we remove the ancient 1st century historical context in order to make its predictive value more relevant to our own Western American modern context. In this way “this generation” in its native context ceases to be moored to its original proclamation as it was from the lips of Jesus.  

The simplest and plainest reading of “this generation” in the Gospels refers to the time in which Jesus lived and taught, the 1st century.


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QBR: ‘Unveiling Grace’ by Lynn Wilder


Quick Book Review

 

Unveiling Grace by Lynn K. Wilder

           

Content (a short synopsis of the book):

Lynn Wilder presents her story, Unveiling Grace, in three stages: Mormon Bliss, Cracks in the Façade and Starting Over. Her story is really her family’s story. Each member of her family travels the path leading to the biblical Jesus, but at their own pace. She tells this journey from her perspective beginning at age 25. The first of Lynn’s family to make the big step away from Mormonism was their son, Micah. His shift came to critical mass within the last 3 weeks of his Mormon mission duties while away in Florida. This shift turned out to be, as the expression goes, “the perfect storm.” Unlike his parents Mormonism was all Micah had ever known. In fact, his enthusiasm for Mormonism was such that he had been the youngest person to ever be allowed to do Temple work. Then after being challenged by a Baptist preacher to read the New Testament “as a child” Micah came to see a Jesus he never knew inside Mormonism.

Before their initiation into Mormonism Lynn and Mike had been nominal Presbyterians. They eventually moved to Utah, “Zion” as the Mormons call it. Lynn became an esteemed professor at BYU. Her husband Mike had numerous positions of influence in the Mormon church in addition to his investment business. It was a blissful existence until years later when they had their eyes opened to the warts of Mormonism. Lynn unveils these warts bit by bit in her narrative which played over several years. The beauty of this families new destination is typified in Micah helping form a Christian band, Adam’s Road. Their passion for the pure grace through Christ alone is soaked in the words of their songs. Many people who leave Mormonism go to other errant religions or into atheism. The Wilder journey doesn’t get off on the wrong exit. It is a journey leading to a the ultimate highway – faith in Christ alone.

The beauty of Micah’s story within the Wilder’s story is that it unfolds for us what happens when someone comes to see the real Jesus from reading the New Testament. In other words, during this period of time Micah had little outside influence other than simply reading the Bible. The power of the Word is evident in this tale of pure and freedom giving grace.  

 

Topic Categories of this publication:       

biography, Mormonism, Christianity, apologetics, conversion, Jesus, grace,  

 

Extras:

Appendix 1: Christian ministries with information on Mormonism

Appendix 2: Quick doctrinal comparison of Mormonism and the Bible

End notes

Glossary of common Mormon lingo, like “stake president” (what’s that?)

 

Writing:          

writing level – high school to college

writing style – conversational storytelling

 

Format Reviewed:     

paperback 

  

notable and quotable:

 “This join-the-family technique was the most effective of all in getting us to stay with them. Mormons understand the role that relationships play in potential converts’ willingness to accept new ideas and the LDS culture. Establishing relationships and loving people works. Mormons do it well.” (40)

 “We had made our first temple visit back in March of 1979, when we received the ordinances for our own exaltation and eternal progression. That experience was quite disturbing.” (70)

 “Like a medieval feudal system, in which the master owned even one’s excrement for fertilizer, I belonged to the Mormon Church.” (73)

 “I realized we LDS parents were raising our kinds pretty isolated from the real world.” (82)

 “After fourteen consecutive nights of waking at 2:00am and being in the LDS Scriptures and then in prayer, I was physically exhausted and spiritually frustrated, reaching for answers.” (87)

 “…I had a hard time wrapping my mind around who Heavenly Father…was, besides a punitive lawgiver.” (88)

 “Mike’s parents and my family were all Christian, but no one talked to us about Mormonism.” (97)

 “Mormonism does not reverence the cross as a religious symbol.” (100)

 “…in a judgmental system like Mormonism, there is no such thing as unconditional love, forgiveness or the Dancer of grace…[but] a weak Jesus who sacrifice was not enough.” (148)

 “Tentatively Micah rose to his feet and took the mic…’Jesus is all you need.’ …This testimony was so unusual and so tender that many were weeping. …President Smoot, of course, could not take Micah’s testimony as a true Mormon declaration.” (162)

 “Although I’d been reading the Book of Mormon for a long, long time, I’d never realized before that Christ’s exact words were not actually throughout the book.” (185)

 “In the pages of the Bible, however, I found a different God. This was a much bigger God whose words challenged my Mormon godhead. ‘Biggie-size your God!’ Pastor Shaw later told us. And that’s just what happened.” (195)

 “Because Book of Mormon doctrine often conflicts with Doctrine and Covenant doctrine, Mormon Scriptures exist to argue both sides of some theological issues.” (219)

 “Our friend told us her grandfather was very upset with the prophet Joseph F. Smith when he lied to Congress, stating that the Mormon Church had stopped the practice of plural marriage when it had not.” (279)

 “Did you notice? Mike and I came to know Jesus, to be converted, changed, and healed, only when we read and soaked in the Word of God – where the Dancer of grace unveiled to us the real and living and powerful Jesus.” (319)

  

Short Analysis (what I learned from this author):

 One of the things I learned form this author is the value in telling your story without using a dagger as pen. She lays out her angst at various times which is to be expected given how much the Wilders had invested in the Mormon church. Lynn Wilder makes very vivid for the outsider what it’s like to feeling the weight of needing to be “temple worthy.” She does not analyze every chink in her former church’s armor, just enough to explicate the reality of her doubts. The constant cycle of Sisyphus Mormon style is what the author makes plain – always striving to be good enough. This struggle provides a helpful contrast to the Gospel of the New Testament. The pure and simple grace of Jesus keeps shinning through her narrative as the scales, piece by piece, fall off her Mormon eyes.

Another important lesson for Christians in Unveiling Grace is to know and practice the reality of grace by showing kindness to Mormons rather than giving them a cold shoulder. Wilder tells early in her story how the social warmth and relationship building ways of the Mormons was one of the key things which brought them in. Christians need to not be afraid to build bridges of inquiry and receptiveness with those outside their circles. Invite them into your homes. Offer the door to door missionaries something to drink (w/o caffeine or alcohol since Mormons are supposed to avoid these). Listen to their talks and respond gently with thoughtful questions from the words of Jesus in the New Testament. Know for yourself the key points of the Gospel so you can share it without resorting to an argumentative spirit. Realize Mormon doctrine uses many of the same terms Bible Christianity does, yet with much difference meanings. 

    

Longevity factor:

This book will probably continue to be a key resource for both Christians and Mormons who are looking for what it’s like to struggle with the many indefensible problems in Mormonism. There is a growing body of reference material both on the academic level and general reader level that analyzes Mormon doctrine, scriptures and history.

Yet, the Wilder’s story feeds a growing curiosity for what it’s like to live inside the Mormon church in this generation.  The Mormon church is known for its secrecy so there is a place for the analytic probing of its often conflicted teaching. On the other hand, Unveiling Grace fits into a niche which persuades not so much by polemic, but by the authenticity of personal experience, especially as this experience leads into the New Testament understanding of Jesus.

 

 

My READ IT or NOT rating:

            I give this book 5 out of 5 temples.

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other resources related to this book:

Unveiling Grace video presentation available on Youtube

Adam’s Road band website – free music

a roundtable – Wilder brothers and friends talk about their first steps out of Mormonism


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Knowing God, is it practical or not?


File:Project Management (phases).png

It is still a question Christians debate – “Is knowing God really practical? Shouldn’t doing certain things be more central to the Christian life? Merely ‘knowing God’ can make you feel like you aren’t moving, right? Shouldn’t we be focusing on a list of things we must do?”

As we read and study the Bible this urge to tell (as the teacher) people what they must do or to find (as the student) what we should do still knocks at our door. I am grateful for recent input on this question. As we go through the Gospel of Mark what help can we find on this question of the practical side of the Christian life?

The question of “what to do” is a part of a larger conversation of on how Sanctification should look in the Christian life. I’m thinking of books like Five Views on Sanctification or The Hole in our Holiness or Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Those are recent, but this conversation has a long trace of ink going back to Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and so on.

However, for this short jog I’ll keep the question of “what to do” localized in our current study in Mark. Interestingly, the Gospel of Mark does not give much in the way of commands or much in the way of “you must do this to live the Christian life.” The content of the Gospel of Mark is of the sort that draws you in not so much to a pattern of things to do, but to a Person. The author is drawing us into know Jesus.

That is the beauty of the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s Jesus is not verbose. Mark has very little in the way of Discourses (extended teachings) of Jesus. Mark’s focus is on the action, the movement, the shifts in the life of the Messiah. The key events which reflect the Person that is the Messiah are what Mark is laying out before us. This series of events highlight the Person rather than a way of doing religion. The advantage of spending time in the Gospel of Mark is that due to the sparseness of his content we are forced to focus on the Person that is Jesus. It is paced to make you long for Jesus.

Seeing who Jesus is and why his life mattered then and still matters is the truest way to handle the material Mark is giving us. Why? Because that is just about the only thing you can do with it. Mark’s content pulls you in to who Jesus is. Notice Mark’s first sentence: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Messiah, the Son of God.” That is the barrel from which Mark is shooting his charge. Everything coming out of this barrel is etched by an interest in knowing who Jesus is.

This opening statement is not a very good set-up for telling people a list of things that they should do or shouldn’t do. It is, however, a great introduction to good news, good news that Jesus Messiah has arrived. “I’d like to introduce you to him.”

Of course, each gospel writer has a unique approach to the life of Jesus. It is helpful to compare the four Gospels to each other, but we can rob Mark of his unique perspective on Jesus when we end up reading Mark through the lens of Matthew, Luke or John.

Another faux pas is to reshape our idea of Jesus thru the lens of our sub-culture. I have a couple of books on my shelf that talk about this. Even though they are outdated with regard to current trends, they’ve almost become reference books for me as I keep coming back to them. Jesus in America is Richard Fox’s survey of how we have reshaped our ideas of Jesus through the 19th and 20th centuries. He notes that “the overall national infatuation with Jesus has been deepened by an array of sub-cultural traditions of allegiance to him” (p13). Conservative Christians, even self-described Evangelicals or Fundamentalists, are not immune to this slide.

So, back to the question of whether “knowing God” is practical to the Christian life or not. I am sure all Christians would agree that “knowing God” is essential to becoming a Christian, but it might surprise you to find there are various theological views which don’t see the effort of “knowing God” as at the center or at the core of Christian living. Frankly, there are ideas of Jesus that trend in certain groups which have re-shaped him into the appearance of a schoolmarm. Maybe that’s not as deleterious as denying he rose from the grave, but it’s still not Jesus.

What Mark’s Gospel helps us to see is that there isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts at the core of Jesus’ own life. Thus, we shouldn’t be afraid when the same suggestion comes to mind about our own life with him. Knowing Jesus fills the Christian with life. Spending time in Mark’s Gospel is the deceptively simply, yet supernatural way that the Holy Spirit feeds that life. It is what he has provided for us to spend time with Jesus. A twist on a popular phrase comes to mind – ‘Know the Bible. Know Jesus. Know God. No Bible. No Jesus. No God.’

Yes, there are things to do in the Gospel of Mark, but notice that the deeds or commands in Mark ultimately lead you into a relationship. “Where is Jesus? Can you bring me to him that I may believe him, that I may know him?” In fact, that is the hub of the entire New Testament, yea, dare I say, the entire Bible: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take time as a class or in conversation with other Christians to talk specifics on the nitty gritty of life. There are the dating questions, the courtship questions, the marriage questions, the career questions, the financial questions, the lust questions, the self-control questions and so forth. Yet, every particular question is in the end going to lead us back to the Good News of who Jesus is.

I am reading again J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. It’s is a good book. I like how his book flows out of his Scripture saturated brain. It doesn’t read like a list of “do this or don’t that” and then you will know God. Packer’s thoughts spill onto the pages as though someone who knows God is talking about God. That is the same impression I get when reading what Mark has to say about my Messiah, your Messiah.

Packer writes in his chapter entitled, ‘Knowing and Being Known’ that “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord” (p.29). This doesn’t mean that by studying the Gospel of Mark all the perplexities of my life will melt away.

Actually, the perplexity like a strong under current lies deeper. I recall my Father, Peter Olivero, saying many times as we were growing up: “The most difficult part of God’s Will is not finding it, but doing it.” It is my experience that the more I am knowing the Person of Jesus the less perplexing life is. Instead of re-shaping Jesus to our sub-culture, Jesus is more interested in re-shaping our motivations. The more I see the beauty of his Person the more attentive I will be when he calls to obey. When the time comes for him to speak directly into my situation my eyes and ears will already be turned in his direction.

It occurs to me that this soul movement toward Jesus resembles the same cognitive function of playing “Where’s Waldo?” It’s direct. It’s simple. It’s inducive. In recent years, I’ve grown to crave voices that rehearse the Christian grace in simply finding Jesus.

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Are there gender relations in the Trinity?


File:Irish Army Pipe Band.jpgOld myths die hard and it seems that newer myths may be just as persistent. In either case a process of myth deconstruction can be therapeutic. Let the therapy begin. First I’ll mention a couple of myths, a basic course correction and then at the end a quick look at one of the fave proof-texts used by trinitarian/genderists.

myth #1 All Complementarians believe that gender roles are grounded in the Trinity. 

course correction In reality, not all Complementarians wear the same kilt sett (pattern). Some Complementarians DO NOT believe in the Eternal Subordination of the Son. So, at the very least there are 2 categories of Comps, ESS Complementarians and then there are Vanilla Complementarians. In fact, there may be many kilt patterns.

We Vanilla Complementarians take heart in the careful and kind admonitions of Dr. Fred Sanders against seeing parallels between the Trinity and gender relations/roles. There are other Comp scholars speaking against trinitarian subordination and we cheer them on too, with or without kilts. We Vanilla Complementarians might also be found speaking in union with some egalitarians when they too speaking against gender relations in the Trinity. They aren’t an enemy clan to us. Now, the next myth.

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myth #2 I Corinthians 11:3 is the perfect proof-text for biblical evidence that gender relations are grounded in the Trinity.

course correction The only way that ESS Complementarians can concluded that I Cor 11:3 is conclusive proof of gender relations tied to the Trinity is through the use of exegetical slippage or possibly through eisegetical magic. Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware, among others, are current spokespersons for the ESS Complementarian view that gender relations on earth are a reflection of such in the Being of God. Does I Cor 11:3 really say this? A plain reading of the text does not.

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Let’s take a look at what the ESS Complementarians say I Cor 11:3 says and compare it with what the text actually says.

ESS Complementarians see a set of pairs in I Cor 11:3 which are parallel to each other. The first pair is the Father and the Son which they see in the phrase “the head of Christ is God.” The second pair is the man (or husband) and the woman (or the wife) in the phrase “the man is the head of the woman.” They see both of these pairs as authority structures – the Father being over the Son and the husband being over the wife.

ESS graphic

In I Cor 11:3 they see the husband as parallel to the Father and the wife as parallel to the Son. The husband, they say, has authority over the wife just like the Father has authority over the Son. In their view, the husband’s role parallels the Father’s role and the wife’s role parallels the Son’s role.

ESS graphic 2

Clear enough? After all the text authoritatively says, “But I want you to realize that…the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor 11:3 LEB).

There are couple of problems. The most obvious is that ESS Complementarians have the Son in the feminine role, the Son as “the weaker vessel” of the Trinity. The next problem is that ESS Complementarians have the husband in the parental role, the Father role, over the wife which Scripture does not really teach. I have not found that anywhere in Scripture, esp. in the New Covenant. Should the husband have a parental role of authority over the wife? Is the husband ‘in loco parentis’ above his dear bride? Is the Son the “feminine face” of God?

ESS graphic 3We Vanilla Complementarians don’t see pink threads in the trinitarian kilt.

Then, there is an even bigger problem. It is what a moment ago I called exegetical slippage. I won’t go so far as to call the error of the ESS Commplementarians eisgetical magic (slight of hand)…not yet any way. Do you see what the ESS Complementarians have left out of their interpretation of I Cor 11:3? They read that verse like this:

But I want you to realize that [ooooooooooooooooooo] the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor 11:3 LEB).

This all important clause slips out of their interpretation.

“…Christ is the head of every man…”

Putting that clause back in we see that I Cor 11:3 is not giving us 2 pairs that are parallel to each other, but a linear progression. We cannot leave Messiah being the head over every man out of this Apostolic pronouncement. If the meaning of Scripture we change, we will not change in accord with Scripture. Its applications matter.

ESS graphic 5Complementarians and Egalitarians of many kilt setts can legitimately debate what the arrows (“head”) mean – source or authority or whatever.

However, when we read I Cor 11:3 in its plain sense we can’t legitimately argue for 2 pairs where the Father = the husband and the Son = the wife. We read in other places of Scripture that BOTH the husband AND the wife should model their roles after Christ. Christ is the head and source of our our role, whatever it be, not a Subordinationists view of God.

Our motivation, whether women or men, is not to hold up our given end of an artificially constructed trinitarian/authority/submission paradigm. Where is the grace in that?

Instead we, men and women, live in Christ, our Messiah. He is our model, not the idea of guarding our half of an authority-submission structure. The thought of Him propels us forward to live for others, men and women.

BTW, I stumbled on something interesting from Mormon theology. They too ground gender relations, not in Creation, but farther back into eternity past. They say this in many places in their writings. One example is when Mormons write that “Gender [male and female] is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”* They don’t ground gender relations in the Trinity, of course, but in their view gender relations find their origin in God’s being. Either way this idea is odd whether it’s coming from Salt Lake City or not.

*“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 1998, 24; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

ESS graphic 4


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the exhaustion of legalism


legalist God

I am a recovery legalist. Legalism is exhausting. Eventually the legalist reaches a threshold of pain, the line where his soul says to itself, “This is too hard.” Yet, we legalists go on and on despite the pressure of it, especially when we tabernacle our hearts in a colony of fellow legalists.

The legalists think that those outside their colony are still on a junket to “a far country” (Luke 15:13), but really what we have found is the freedom of coming home. 

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Manning quote found here The Ragamuffin Gospel

background found here 101freegrunge textures


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Is there a gap in the 70 Weeks of Daniel? NO


The seventy weeks is as single block of time

The Gap View (Dispensational, Pre-Tribulation interpretation) requires a growing gap between the 69th Week and the 70th Week. Certainly there are several obvious reasons why this is not possible. Is there a sinkhole in this Messianic prophecy?

File:Sinkhole.jpg

Gerhard Hasel gives us a linguistic proof as to why it is not possible to split the 70th Week away from the other 69 Weeks. He demonstrates that in Daniel 9 the Hebrew phrase “seventy weeks” functions as a collective noun. This means that “seventy weeks” must be understood as a whole unit, a complete set of time, a unified sequence without a gap.

Even in English we cannot use the word ‘week’ to mean 6 days in succession and the 7th day of that same week floating out in the future at some unknown point. That is not customary speech for us and it isn’t in Hebrew either.

To go outside the plain sense of “week” is to allegorize it. Hasel explains in great detail why Hebrew linguistics will not allow for placing a gap in the expression “seventy weeks.” See his article, The Hebrew Masculine Plural for ‘Weeks’ in the Expression ‘Seventy Weeks’ in Daniel, Andrews University, 1993.

Another problem with putting a gap between 69 and 70 is that it alters the “decreed” time frame. It is a definite time frame, not open ended, subject to completion in the future. In other words, this set of years is a determined unit of time. It’s not an indefinite period. Peter preached that “this Jesus, [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

The 490 years is the unit of time “determined” as the KJV translates it. This passage is not written in an allegorical mode.

Gabriel is not telling Daniel,

“You may think it’s 490 years, but really it’s 490 years plus 2000 years with no end in sight as far you can see. God may be saying 490 years, but His doesn’t mean it. You have to re-interpret His words correctly as an indeterminate period of years overall – proly, 2400 years, but you still can’t be sure.”

The Gap View pushes pause within a unified set of time. The Gap View requires an awkward cessation before the unit is complete. It’s like sitting down to watch a play and being told by the cast that we the audience need to leave and come back in 2 or 3 decades to see the conclusion, the final act of the play. The 70 Weeks of Daniel 9 is not like a stop action film.

The Gap View misunderstands that the 6 blessings promised (Dan 9:24) are “decreed” to come within that set period of years, the 490 years (more on these blessings in note B). The Gap View has the most blessed event in history – the Cross and Resurrection – happening outside the 70 Weeks in an ambiguous gap.

Daniel is appealing to Yahweh for assurance of covenant renewal after the Babylonian Captivity. God does not build up Daniel’s faith by doing a bait and switch. God does not give a definite period and then expect him to use a method of interpretation that re-configures His divine decree into an indefinite period (483 + growing gap + 7 = ?).

In fact, some interpreters see the 490 years leading to the ultimate Jubilee in the person of Christ at his 1st Advent. As we see in Leviticus 25 the period leading up a jubilee doesn’t allow for a gap. In fact, was deemed a sin to postpone a jubilee set for the 49th year. In Christ we are now enjoying the progression of the Ultimate Jubilee as it heads to it consummation.

It is also incongruous to argue, as many do, for literal days continuously running in the Creation account and then to argue, as they also do, that in Daniel 9 a literal unit of years does not literally run in succession. If one holds to a literal interpretation of Scripture, then that should be applied consistently.

The plain sense reading of Gabriel’s words speak of a definite and continuous period without amputation of its tail portion to be held in reserve for an indeterminate future moment.

The idea of an end time 7 Year Tribulation Period rests on the 70th week being future. Dispensational views on the Olivet or parts of the Apocalypse are not possible if the 70th week is already complete.

Both Scripture and history show the 70th week is past.

These differences notwithstanding we should continue working alongside each other WHILE giving time and space to work out these areas of eschatology. The subject of Last Things can be complex at times. As we  seek truth we can cultivate grace and love.


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taking the war out of ‘worship wars’


I heard Matt Olson’s gracious resignation talk after the NIU board asked him to step down. So blessed to see a man who has been under fire from harsh critics respond in a gentle way and then to put the focus off himself and on God.

There were several things he said that are worth remembering. Here is one that sticks with me. I did a word wall of it since it is good for many other difficulties in life beyond his own at the moment.

Matt Olson quote

pic background available through demilked.com

You may have noticed that the word ‘unexpected’ is in a similar color as the words ‘worship’ and ‘praise’ and ‘thank.’ The ‘unexpected’ starts out darker and duller, but as we direct our focus toward God and away from ourselves our actions and attitude shift from remorse or grief to the joys of being in God’s presence.

I am reminded how often I fall short of this. Right, left or middle – wherever we stand on these issues – this response proves that we can navigate our differences with grace.

President Olson’s response to his dismissal shows he sees a higher value in grace over gotcha. And for that matter, the NIU Board shows grace by giving President Olson the chance to freely speak his parting words to their students. Most dismissal situations like this are often well choreographed or restricted to avoid further collateral damage, but this looks quite unusual in its gentle tone and ethos.

The text that serves as President Olson’s anchor is Romans 11:33-36:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom

and knowledge of God!    

How unsearchable his judgments,    

and his paths beyond tracing out!

Who has known the mind of the Lord? 

Or who has been his counselor?

Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay them?

For from him and through him and

for him are all things.    

To him be the glory forever!

Amen.

The NIV translation entitled this section as “Doxology.”

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