Albert Barnes, Various Comments on Psalm 25

On Affliction and the Remembrance of Our Sins

On Psalm 25:7- Remember not the sins of my youth – In strong contrast with God, the psalmist brings forward his own conduct and life. He could ask of God (Psalm 25:6) to remember His own acts – what “He himself” had done; but could not ask him to remember His conduct – His past life. He could only pray that this might be forgotten. He did not wish it to come into remembrance before God; he could not ask that God would deal with him according to that. He prays, therefore, that he might not be visited as he advanced in life with the fruits of his conduct in early years, but that all the offences of that period of his life might be forgiven and forgotten.

Who is there that cannot with deep feeling join in this prayer? Who is there that has reached the period of middle or advanced life, who would be willing to have the follies of his youth, the plans, and thoughts, and wishes of his early years brought again to remembrance? Who would be willing to have recalled to his own mind, or made known to his friends, to society around him, or to assembled worlds, the thoughts, the purposes, the wishes, the “imaginings” of his youthful days? Who would dare to pray that he might be treated in advancing years as he treated God in his own early life? Nay, who would venture to pray that God would treat him in the day of judgment as he had treated the friends of his childhood, even the father who begat him, or the mother who bore him? Our hope in regard to the favor of God is that he will “not” summon up the thoughts and the purposes of our early years; that he will “not” treat us as if he remembered them; but that he will treat us as if they were forgotten.

On Psalm 25:17- O bring thou me out of my distresses – Alike from my sins, and from the dangers which surround me. These two things, external trouble and the inward consciousness of guilt, are not infrequently combined. Outward trouble has a tendency to bring up the remembrance of past transgressions, and to suggest the inquiry whether the affliction is not a divine visitation for sin. Any one source of sorrow may draw along numerous others in its train. The laws of association are such that when the mind rests on one source of joy, and is made cheerful by that, numerous other blessings will be suggested to increase the joy; and when one great sorrow has taken possession of the soul, all the lesser sorrows of the past life cluster around it, so that we seem to ourselves to be wholly abandoned by God and by man.

On Psalm 25:18- And forgive all my sins – The mind, as above remarked, connects trouble and sin together. When we are afflicted, we naturally inquire whether the affliction is not on account of some particular transgressions of which we have been guilty; and even when we cannot trace any direct connection with sin, affliction suggests the general fact that we are sinners, and that all our troubles are originated by that fact. One of the benefits of affliction, therefore, is to call to our remembrance our sins, and to keep before the mind the fact that we are violators of the law of God. This connection between suffering and sin, in the sense that the one naturally suggests the other, was more than once illustrated in the miracles performed by the Saviour. (See Matt 9:2)

The Great Deformation

How Technological Society Deformed the Traditional Church

Industrialism has affected every individual and altered every institution of society. The church is no exception. The ills of this deeply troubled institution have been blamed on many causes, but any analysis that does not take into account the effects of industrialism must fail to give an accurate picture. Let’s look at some of the more obvious effects of the technological society in the church.

“When a human society moves from traditional to technological society, a basic principle changes in the organization of the social structure. The organization shifts from a social pattern in which relationship is the most fundamental consideration to a social pattern in which functional accomplishment is the most fundamental consideration. An overall systemic change occurs in the structure of human society, and this change reshapes everything in human life. Because the change is systemic, many elements change in a subordinate way. ” (Man and Woman in Christ, Stephen B. Clark, p.472)

In our last installment, we saw that the strong traditional family has been reduced to the modern “nuclear” family, or conjugal unit. This radical alteration and weakening of the basic unit of society alone would have adversely affected the church if nothing else had. The church has been weakened by the weakness of the family. The church is modeled after the family, and so any fundamental change in the family must either clash with the traditional pattern of familial life in the church, or the church must adapt to the changed family, and become weakened by doing so. If the love of a man for his brother and sister in the extended, consanguineal family (the pattern for relationships in the church) becomes weak, then the exercise of brotherly love in the church will be correspondingly reduced. If the pattern of respect for the aged and care for the infirm in the family is destroyed, then how can it be retained in the church? When a man’s wife works in the office or factory, supervising the work of men, how can she be expected to accept a subordinate role in the church?

It is bad enough that the family has been pushed to the brink of destruction. One effect of this has been the complete detachment of many individuals from families, and the effective replacement of the family as the fundamental unit of society by the isolated individual. The church suffers from the presence of people who have been torn away from the support of committed relationships, who do not know how and/or are unwilling to commit to anyone. Work, the mortgage and the car payment are often their primary commitments. Church and especially the community life are way down the list. In addition, these atomistic individuals, lacking the support structures that should be supplied by committed relationships are often emotionally damaged and unstable.

Another effect of technological society upon the church is in the area of charitable works. As the family, the church and other more personalized institutions that have traditionally taken care of the poor, the incompetent, orphans and the sick begin to crumble, the care of social needs shifts from the realm of stable personal relationships to the realm of specialized, impersonal social welfare institutions. Either the church accepts a reduction of its sphere of activity and influence, or it accepts regulation by the state in order to maintain its role as a care provider.

In the technological society, the nature of all government moves from personal to bureaucratic. This means that leaders are chosen more for the skill and training they bear than for their personal qualities. Also, the means used to control people and effect changes in their behavior become bureaucratic and technological means. Clark observes:

“As forms of government change, so do the ways of exercising authority or “social control” (a sociological term derived from the leadership models of technological society). In traditional society, a, leader relies primarily upon the direct exercise of personal authority within a personal relationship. A different mode of social control emerges in technological society. Rather than exerting direct authority, the leaders of mass institutions prefer to establish policy, make regulations, and influence opinions. In short, the governing institutions regulate and propagandize. The people in technological society are very susceptible to such control because they are all individuals isolated from one another and unconnected to stable groupings which loyally hold and carefully pass on other values. Moreover, much of this type of social control affects people on a less than conscious level. People are often unaware that they are being controlled, and will accept this control willingly while reacting against anything that looks like a direct exercise of authority. For example, most modern Americans resist and dislike clear commands and directions, but they submit with readiness to various forms of control through opinion formation. The exercise of social control in technological society can be at least as thoroughgoing as in traditional society, and perhaps more so.”

When people take amiss the exercise of personal authority that the Bible establishes in the office of the elder, how is one to correct them? If the elder is faithful in his discharge of the duties of his office, and deals out admonition or rebuke, he will be sure to offend the man who is used to being asked by his boss to do his job. Such indirect means will not do, however, to get him to repent of sin. One must be pointed and specific, and must uphold the judgments of God’s word when dealing with sin. This he will not tolerate, for he will feel that he is being abused.

Clark highlights another symptom of functionalism influencing the church:

“… functional and relational groupings differ from one another in the way they approach change. Functional groupings tend to prize innovation and flexibility, whereas relational groupings value stability.”

The accelerating rate of change in the broader culture is affecting the church, for as it adapts to technological society, it must be able to change quickly, and in unpredictable ways. The direction of those changes is however, predictable. Gradually, as efficiency considerations replace relational considerations in the society at large, the church will re-define itself in functional terms. Both man’s relationship with God and with his fellowman will become secondary to projects and goals. Officers will be evaluated for their energy and ability to “get things done”, rather than for piety, integrity, experience.

As in every institution, tradition and truth will give way to pragmatism as a source of authority. Modernistic assumptions about reality will penetrate in countless small but significant ways long before they are consciously recognized and accepted in theology. Modest dress has already been re-defined in cultural-relative terms. The church organization will be gone over, and modern educational theory increasingly applied. Youthful, professional “pastors” with a thorough grounding in Liberal theology will replace sober, godly men with “out-dated” ideas.

Human beings must have some place in their lives for relaxation, spontaneity and the expression of emotion. Formerly, these expressions of humanness were not separated from the other activities of life. The European peasant might work a long day, but he might stop for an hour to have a beer with a friend who passes by, or to intervene in a family crisis. He might sing aloud as he worked. The modern tendency is to divorce purposive, goal-oriented activities from expressive activities. Workers rightly resent the regimentation of the factory system, and often spend a large part of their private time reacting and compensating. This has clearly influenced many churches, which try to provide a relaxed and spontaneous setting. Too often, worship becomes an emotional exercise governed by irrationality and sentiment.

Sometimes, the cult of efficiency has a more direct effect. The church services become wholly functionalized in terms of education, fund-raising, recruitment of workers and other functional goals. The corporate relationship with God: the celebration of the privileges and blessings of his covenant, and the gathering of the church in His presence to commune with him ceases to be the focus. Expressive activities are muted. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper, since it is not a functional and purposive activity, is infrequent. What matters is learning how to serve God and doing his work.

I have only scratched the surface of this subject. It deserves a much fuller treatment. My aim is to at least alert the Christian community to the encroachment of technological society in ways that have gone largely unobserved before. Here is Clark’s summary of the effects of functionalism:

“The basic units of technological society are the individual and the mass collective rather than a set of relational groupings, and this affects both government and social services. Achieved positions are valued more than inherited positions. Commitments become partial and functionally-specific. The realm of personal relationships and human expressiveness is separated from the functional realm, resulting in relationships based primarily on emotion, preference, and an anti-structural anti-purposive bias. These changes amount to a radical transformation in the shape of human society.” (Man and Woman in Christ, Stephen B. Clark, p.490)

It is time to take stock of the damage this “radical transformation in the shape of human society” has quietly — but effectively — wrought in our churches. Only then can an equally radical reformation take place.

Howard Douglas King, March 27, 2019

Originally published as “The Modern Church”, part 4 of “A Christian Agrarian Critique of Technological Society” in Foundations 1:4, May 28, 2002

YouTube’s Hypocrisy and the 2020 U.S. Election

Why does Youtube allow ads from snake-oil salesmen (such as doctors who claim that they can cure or prevent almost any disease) and other obvious frauds; and at the same time seem to be concerned about so-called “false or misleading statements” that are really not obviously false or misleading? Why do they insist on putting the label at the top of conservative Youtube channels or news stories that criticize (or even just question) the validity of the 2020 election with the misleading statement that the “AP has already called the election for Biden”? What this implies is that there is no legitimacy in any opinion not sanctioned by the AP; when in fact what the AP or any other news organization says has no authority to declare the result of the election. Any statement they make at this time is no more than editorial opinion.

Until the votes are certified, the electors chosen and their votes cast, the election process is not over. Only by condemning or ignoring the legal challenges that are being made can they pretend to have any basis for censuring those who claim that the definitive results of the election are yet to be determined. But it is unarguable that the election is not over until it can be determined which votes are legitimate and which are illegitimate; and then the legitimate votes counted and the illegitimate votes discarded. Isn’t this obvious?

Many are of the opinion that this procedure is not necessary; but they cannot give a real reason based upon evidence to support their opinion because they do not know (or will not acknowledge) the facts. That there was election fraud has been acknowledged by no other authority than the chairman of the Federal Elections Commission; and the Attorneys General of many states concur. The results have not even been certified by some of the crucial or “battleground” states because so many and varied irregularities have been found. There have been at least eight or nine discrete kinds of cheating documented, some on such a large scale that they could affect the results of the election in several states.

These irregularities (including improper and illegal procedures in vote counting centers: votes having been counted without the verification of names, addresses, or signatures, the same vote having been counted more than once, the votes of dead people having been counted and the exclusion of Republican poll watchers from the process they were empowered by law to verify) are documented in the affidavits of many hundreds of eyewitnesses who have sworn, on penalty of perjury, that they are telling the truth.

So there is no doubt that fraud occurred; and as a country of laws, we must know the extent of fraud and who committed it. There is no reasonable or responsible or honest alternative. One suspects that the reason Youtube and other organizations are pushing for President Trump to immediately concede is – given their track record of promoting Socialist opinions and censuring those of Constitutionalists on their platform – because they do not want the facts to come to light.

The hypocrisy of presenting ads that make false and misleading claims while censuring statements that – according to American law and tradition – are defined as “free speech” while claiming to be a neutral platform that only censures content that is likely or demonstrably fraudulent, is plain and easy to see.

Howard Douglas King

Why I Hate the New Technology

I had a heck of a night. I was up ’til 3 am trying to install a security program on my phone. I started working on it at 10pm. I guessed that it would take 5 or 10 minutes; but it soon became obvious that I could never do it, given any amount of time. You see, there is a whole new smartphone language that requires a translator. The apparently simple instructions are really a code for what you are actually supposed to do. I couldn’t break the code. I gave up trying to do it on my own about midnight and contacted the security software company.

That’s when the real fun began. They boast of 24/7 Technical Support. Well, I admit it’s technical; but it’s a stretch calling it support. There is no phone number to call and get a real live person, like the old days. You have to look at a list of problems that doesn’t include the problem you have; and then, when that inevitably fails, you resignedly check the “no” box to the question they ask you, “was this helpful’. You want to shoot someone (or get someone to shoot you) at this point.

But don’t despair! You can “chat’ with a technician. This means typing your name and phone number and then trying to find the terms to describe your problem to a simpleton. That’s not fair – it’s just that he doesn’t comprehend standard English: his language is “Technese” – an apparent simpleton, then. Now, if and when (think in terms of hours rather than minutes) you finally manage to get your problem across, you will find that this person cannot solve it for you. You are about to be referred to a “specialist”.

You sit on hold so long that you may forget what you were trying to achieve; and then someone comes on to whom you will have to repeat everything you just said to the first technician. The “specialist” will say, “I’ll be glad to help you. What is it that you are trying to do?” and then you explain – again. By now, you would choose strangling rather than life.

But, with a little bit of luck and another fifteen minutes of your time, you begin to make progress. It begins when you are asked “will you confirm that you are trying to do thus and so?” and you think ,”Dammit! I’ve been trying to tell you that!” but you just say “yes”. It saves time, you see. And you greatly fear that he will hang up on you and make you go through the nightmare all over again. Always say yes.

So now, it’s way past bedtime. You vainly hope, in your naivete that you will soon achieve success! Poor soul! You don’t know that you are just beginning. (Perhaps it’s better that you don’t know. You might climb into a bathtub and slash your wrists if you knew.) The next thing you get from your wise guide is something like this: “Just do this and then that.” You want so much to say, “I have been trying to do this and then that for hours, and couldn’t; else why would I want to chat with a tech like you, moron?” But it’s important to be polite, so you type, “I did this, but I don’t know how to do that.”

Then follows an explanation you can’t understand and you have to learn another part of the code before you can understand each other. Next you learn that you have to do something else before you can do either this or that. How, you ask, do I do the other thing? On a good day, you will be told, and the solution will actually work the first time you try. On a good day. There are not going to be many of them. The odds are about 125 or 130 to 1. Still, there are people who win the lottery, aren’t there? So you plod on.

Now, you can do this; but you find you can’t do that. You get a cryptic error message that you have seen several times before and you are back to square one. “What does it mean?” you type. Your expert explains, and you think you know what it means: You have to log into something; so you need to create a password. But “strong” passwords with special characters, etc. are hard to type in exactly. After a couple of attempts you succeed and you finally get to the home stretch. Breathless with excitement, flushed with relief, on the brink of ecstasy, you are about to take the first step – when you feel a sudden check in your spirit.

From here, a modicum of experience, logic and luck will probably be all you need to take you all the way home; but now every move is made with fear and trembling. What if you screw up, and all the progress goes up in a puff of smoke? You can’t bear to think it; so before even doing the obvious, you check with the tech.

“Can I download it now?”

“Yes.”

“Should I install it now?”

“You can.”

“What do I do next?”

“Do this.”

“Is there anything else I should do?”

“You have successfully… ” “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

You think for a second and then type, “You can call the looneybin and have them come and get me!” And you collapse.

To Christians Who Will Not Vote

My dear brother Joe,

I find that I agree with much you say; but I am alarmed to hear you say that you will not be voting. To say nothing of your duty as a citizen of our country to vote, or of the privilege of voting; you seem not to understand what is at stake in this election.

You are, of course, correct in saying that there can be no political solution to a spiritual problem. Obviously, a large part of the population is spiritually and morally decadent; but not all. And of those, most are either brainwashed or following corrupt leadership. But there are still very many Americans who are conscientious, decent people just trying to live honestly and take care of their families. We would not approve of their ignorance or worldiness, but we ought to wish them well. And we ought to take care for their welfare to the extent that we can. (Gal. 6:10) The only lasting solution is a spiritual awakening; but just now, while we are praying for revival, we must still take care of the urgent need for their safety and temporal welfare.

Are you not aware that a Communist revolution is underway? Don’t you see that there is a conspiracy of almost all the institutions of society, and the governments of the largest cities — all ruled by Marxists — against our freedom? It matters, Joe, whether this conspiracy succeeds or fails. Are you too young or too unaware to have seen what atheistic communism has done in the past century and is still doing in China today? Are you eager to shed your own blood? Do you want to leave the heritage of slavery and tyranny to your children? What will you say when all this comes to pass and you will remember that you did not do a simple thing to try and prevent it from happening? Can you live with that?

Your vote alone will not matter; but by all accounts this will be a close election, and Christians like you (tens of millions) who do not vote could make the difference.

There is no reason why decent men who will maintain the peace, provide for the common defense, and maintain the rule of law — even Christian statesmen — cannot be elected. If Protestant Christians exhibited the same solidarity that Jews and Blacks do, instead of only acting as uncommitted individuals, we might have Evangelicals instead of Papists on the Supreme court. If the last generation had done that, we may not have had the Federal government complicit in the murder of the unborn and the legalization of sexual perversity. But you say that you will not try to make the world better by participating with the rest of us mostly white Protestant Christians in the one simple thing that we can do to influence our governments?

You claim that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, and I understand your point of view. If you look only at Washington D. C., there is a culture of the elite which captures most of the men we send there. But this is not true of State and local governments — at least to the same degree. There are many honest, able and patriotic Americans who identify themselves as Republicans and work for the increased power and influence of the party. Furthermore there is such a marked difference between what Obama did to subvert and destroy us and what Donald Trump has done to rebuild and strengthen us that I marvel at how an intelligent person like you cannot see the difference!

Under what administration was homosexual marriage legalized? What president made the support of abortion and contraception a part of our medical insurance? And by the way, who attempted, in the name of “reform” to socialize our healthcare system? And having failed to do that, imposed chaos upon a system already unsustainable by the unaffordable care act? Who weaponized the DOJ against his political enemies? Who assailed our religious freedom? Who did his utmost to support planned Parenthood? Who refused, arbitrarily, to enforce our immigration laws?

On the other hand, if you will take a few moments to review the things our President has done: to destroy Obama’s legacy, to end our stupid wars, to negotiate deals with other nations that make our world safer, to protect our rights to keep and bear arms, to freely exercise our religion, and the right to life — you must see the stark difference. It is like night and day.

Is President Trump a perfect human being? Who is? The question is, does he conscientiously discharge the duties of his office according to the oath he took; and does he keep the promises he made to the American people, on the basis of which we elected him? The answer is a resounding yes. As far as I can see, no one in my lifetime has been a better president, based on these criteria.

What about the “lesser of two evils” argument? It sounds pious. But the fact is we will always, in a choice between two men, be forced to choose the lesser of two evils, for all men are evil. All men fail in many ways when they are given responsibility. Even if one man is a professing Christian and the other an infidel, the infidel may be the better man for the job. Every job requires a man who not only means well; but who is competent to do well. We would be foolish to choose only on the basis of a profession of faith, even in church matters. Being a good Christian does not, by itself, qualify one for the eldership.

Americans are in the process of choosing a man who will faithfully execute the laws and defend our country from its enemies – foreign and domestic. President Trump has done that, and he will do that.

Joe Biden and his Marxist handlers will encourage and enable the revolutionaries, criminals, and the citizen infiltrators of our institutions. He will (if he can) destroy the family, and what remains of our freedoms. He makes no secret of his policies, or what he intends to do if he gains office. His election would be a disaster from which I believe we would never recover. I will even go this far: from what I can see, if Biden is elected, America is finished.

Joe, I beg you to consider these things and take the time to register and vote for Donald Trump. It can do you no harm; and it may do great good.

Sincerely,

Howard King

The Sacred Stewardship of the Soil

If we valued the earth’s resources according to their utility in sustaining and enriching our lives, then air and water would be joined in the same class by topsoil. If we honored men according to the value of their contribution to the well-being of society, the farmer would be among the upper classes. This alone shows how upside-down the values of the popular culture are.

We Americans who have been born since the Second World War have never known hunger, but that is no guarantee that we will not. If God is still the moral governor of the world, then it is all but certain that we shall experience hunger before long — in spite of our present domination of the world, and in spite of the apparent security which our wealth and influence provide. And it is likely that we will be ourselves the cause of it. For we are on a suicidal course of destroying the productive capacity of the earth.

G. T. Wrench, in his book, The Restoration of the Peasantry documents the history of Roman agriculture, and shows that mighty Rome could not sustain its agricultural output because the productive lands passed out of the hands of the farmers into the hands of urban moneylenders and thence to the effete aristocracy. Thus, the lands were only an additional source of income to the owners, and not their very lives. They were neglected or else exploited, and soon lost their fertility. Rome relied in the end on North Africa to feed its millions. This is not the only cause of the decline of Rome, but it is one that few are aware of today. We are on a similar course, with multinational corporations and bankers owning most of the productive soil in America, rather than freehold farmers.

Man was made from the ground, and his natural environment is the fertile land and the open air. Nothing can change this — it is how we are made. Moreover, the Creator gave mankind in the beginning a stewardship over the soil. Coordinate with dominion is responsibility — a steward is accountable for what he does with his Master’s resources. Modern man has failed miserably in this regard, and when he is called to account, he is likely to lose all that he has or ever hopes to have. For history shows nothing even approaching the rate of destruction of productive land that we achieved in the last century, and are continuing apace in this new millennium.

We have sown the land with death, rather than life. Millions of unexploded bombs and shells and land mines defile the land in the war zones of modernity. In southeast Asia, making prosthetics for people who have stepped on mines is a major industry. How shall we answer to God for this new abomination of desolation?

We are making progress in other areas, as well. The EPA notwithstanding, pollution continues but slightly abated. The Chesapeake Bay is cursed with a tiny but deadly creature called physteria, which attacks fish and man. The cause seems to be the runoff from chicken “factories”. The chickens live in a cruel captivity out of the fresh air, and their droppings are piled up to compost outside, and then be mixed with cattle feed for extra protein. (Remember that next time you want a hamburger.) The cattle eat it — they have no choice. But large quantities of the droppings wash into the water and nourish physteria, which are threatening the fishing industry around the bay.

Landfills that leak toxins, farming practices that deplete the soil and kill beneficial microbes, massive erosion, mega-mining, nuclear testing and accidents, indiscriminate paving, large-scale cutting of forests, oil spills — the list is endless! These things are often condemned, but they go on because of the money behind them. Some people don’t care if they kill us all, as long as they can have more — and ever more — to waste on their own useless selves.

It is chiefly with the soil that this essay is concerned. Rates of erosion were already high enough in the twenties that government took action and formed a bureaucracy to deal with it. Now it is much worse. Whence these unprecedented floods of the great rivers all over the world? It’s very simple. Precious soil eroded from the lands cleared but not protected by vegetation fills up the riverbeds, leaving little room for the water that fills them during the rainy seasons. These floods will continue to devastate the lives of millions of the world’s peasant farmers, and increase, for each flood carries more soil away — unless there is drought. Drought is equally destructive — the soil dries up and blows away.

What is it going to take for us to abandon this suicidal course? Judgments of God may depopulate the earth and end our capability to destroy. Or a true revival of biblical faith and subsequent reformation may come in the mercy of God, and change man into a preserver and life-giver instead of the most destructive beast on the planet. But something must end it. It is God’s earth, after all — and He will act — we can be sure of that. Are we going to be on His side then? Or will we be the ones opposing His purpose?

Howard Douglas King

On The Seventy Weeks of Daniel

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:24-26)

This remarkable prophecy is the only one in the entire Old Testament that tells us when the Messiah would appear. Modern interpreters, almost without exception, compromise the perfect accuracy of the prediction by accommodating its interpretation to agree with certain merely human historical resources. This is a grave error, for the Bible itself provides all the information that is required to demonstrate that it was fulfilled exactly as stated, to the very year!

The Occasion

The occasion of this remarkable prophecy is as follows:

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:1-2)

Daniel was carried away to Babylon as a youth, and now he was an old man. In the course of his studies, he had become aware of the promise of Jeremiah, written specifically to him and the other captives in Babylon:

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon… Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon… For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:1-14)

Jeremiah alone predicts the period of time for the captivity, but says nothing about restoring the desolations of Jerusalem. However Daniel knew from another “book” that more was promised than just the return of the captives. The book of Isaiah shows that the return of the captives would be accompanied by a comprehensive restoration of national existence:

Thus saith the LORD …to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof …That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.(Isaiah 44:24-28)

Thus it is clear how Daniel “understood by books” that “the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2) were to be ended when the captives returned after seventy years. But what was explicit in Isaiah was implicit in Jeremiah. After all, what would the captives have had to look forward to, if the temple, the city, and national life were not to be restored as well? We will revisit this thought later.

Accordingly, having a promise in hand, and seeing that the time of its fulfillment was near, Daniel sought the Lord with his whole heart for its performance:

O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. (Daniel 9:16-19)

Daniel’s prayer is for the city and temple to be restored as the center of worship and of government of the Jewish nation. It is for the restoration of the people of God to their proper place, role and privileges; for it would be unthinkable for him to desire any less. This prayer was soon to be granted. But Daniel did not yet understand that the Mosaic Covenant was to be eventually superseded by a new and better covenant of international scope. No doubt he even thought of the coming days of Messiah in terms of Jewish dominance. But God was about to disabuse him of his illusions. He sent the angel Gabriel with a revelation concerning the restoration of Jerusalem, the last days of the Jewish nation, and the second desolation of Jerusalem that would follow the appearance of Messiah.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

Please note that the Hebrew word translated “weeks” is literally “sevens”. The word means a unit composed of seven sub-units, a heptad. It is commonly used to denote an ordinary week of days; but here it denotes a seven-year period, or heptad of years.

The seventy heptads are divided into three parts: the first of seven, the second of sixty-two, and the third of the final heptad. which is of special significance. The first seven constitute the period when the city and temple would be restored. The succeeding sixty-two cover the long age of prophetic silence from Malachi’s last word to John the Baptist. The last heptad is distinguished because it is the one in which Messiah appears and accomplishes the six things promised in verse 24 that comprise the spiritual redemption of the Israel of God:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)

What is Predicted

What are the details of the prophecy?

First, regarding the starting point of the prophecy; that there would be a “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem”(v.24).

Second, that the city of Jerusalem and its temple would be restored within the first seven heptads (49 years) of the prophecy (v.25).

Third, that the Messiah would appear after 62 more heptads (434 years) had gone by (v.25).

Fourth, that shortly thereafter, in the 70th heptad (years 484 through 490) Messiah would be “cut off”(v.26a), and would thus complete all the things predicted in verse 24, within the period of seventy weeks.

And Fifth, that the city and temple would be destroyed by foreign armies some indeterminate time afterward (v. 26b).

The Starting Point

A question much debated by scholars and chronologers of Scripture is “When did the seventy weeks begin?” and the related question, “What was the commandment to which Gabriel here refers?” Scripture leaves no doubt that the decree of Cyrus in the first year of his reign is the one meant. Those who rely solely on scriptural authority will avoid the confusion that has ensnared so many!

First, there is the most intimate connection between three events: the release of the captive Jews at the end of seventy years, the restoration of the temple and its worship, and the re-building of Jerusalem. Daniel’s prophecy distinguishes the first seven weeks of his prophecy; and it so happens that all of these events took place within those 49 years. The Old Testament was also completed with the writing of Nehemiah and Malachi at the end of this period.

Many commentators want to limit the scope of Cyrus’ decree to the re-building of the temple, as if it had nothing to do with the re-building of the city of Jerusalem and its wall. Yet the Scripture could not be more explicit about the role of Cyrus in the restoration of the nation Israel. The Lord spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah, 200 years before the event:

Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.(Isaiah 44:24-28)

John Gill comments on verse 28:

and shall perform all my pleasure; concerning the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, and the encouragement of them to go up to their own land, and rebuild their city and temple…

even saying to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; these are not the words of the Lord, as before, but of Cyrus, giving orders that Jerusalem should be built:

and to the temple, thy foundation shall be laid; with great propriety this is said, since only the foundation was laid in his time; the Jews being discouraged and hindered by their enemies from going on with the building in his reign, until the times of Darius, king of Persia. (See Ezra 1:1)

And this is not the end of it. Isaiah goes on to say:

Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things… I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 45:1-13)

These Scriptures absolutely establish Cyrus as God’s agent in the release of the captives, the restoration of the temple, and the re-building of Jerusalem. It follows that the “commandment” mentioned in Daniel 9:25 refers to the decree of Cyrus in the first year of his reign, which is recorded (perhaps in summary form) in Ezra 1:1:

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-4)

Notice, “that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled” – Jeremiah, not Isaiah. This has reference to the seventy years of Jeremiah mentioned above. This prophecy could only have been fulfilled by Cyrus in his first year.

It is objected that this decree of Cyrus says nothing about the building of the city. I answer, First, that this may well be a summary, rather than a full statement of the decree. In any case, the building of the city is implied. To what end would they re-build the temple if they could not live in the city? It was necessary, in order for Jehovah’s worship to be restored, (which was the principal thing aimed at by Cyrus) and for the temple to mean anything, that the city be re-built to accommodate such of the former captives as would reside there (priests, Levites, rulers) and worshipers at the major feasts. It should also be obvious that the treasures of silver and gold and precious stones and the priceless artwork of the temple would need to be protected. It is absurd to think that Cyrus did not intend the city to be made defensible.

Second, the words of Isaiah quoted above are explicit that Cyrus would command the building of the city. When did he do so, if not in this famous decree? Furthermore, Isaiah said that he would in some sense actually build the temple and the city. What can these words mean, if not that his personal action secured the result? For 17 years elapsed between the death of Cyrus and the completion of the temple; and at least 27 years elapsed between his death and the finishing of the wall by Nehemiah. But Scripture tells us that it was out of respect to Cyrus’ decree that the construction of the temple was begun, and then, after it had been stopped, resumed under Darius:

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid… Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence: Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place…

Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, [even] Artaxerxes, king of Persia. (Ezra 6:1-14)

This same Darius was the one who, seventeen years later, authorized Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and oversee the restoration of the city, including, but not limited to, finishing the building of the walls. It is clear from his narrative that Nehemiah was made the highest civil authority, “the Tirshatha” in Jerusalem by the direct authority of the King Darius. He was not merely given a commission to build the walls and gates; but to set things in order so that Cyrus’ decree would be fully realized. Does anyone think that his original request to Darius only had respect to the city’s fortifications, without respect to its overall well-being? This King, like Cyrus before him, wanted the God of the Jews, whose marvelous works on the behalf of his people were a matter of public record, on his side.

Third, the Jews set about re-building the walls long before Nehemiah came to Jerusalem. He completed what they had begun. They had already laid the foundations and started construction of the walls when the temple work was suspended, as we shall now see.

The pretext made use of by Israel’s enemies in the land by which they had persuaded the King before Darius to suspend the construction of the temple was that it would be unwise for the Persian king to allow this city to be rebuilt, because it had a long history of rebellion:

Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings… therefore have we sent and certified the king; That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river. (Ezra 4:12-16)

As a result of this letter, this king of Persia commanded the work to cease. It is important to remember that the laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed, even by the king. The decree of Cyrus was not revoked, or even consulted – just forgotten. So, later, when once it was made known, Darius had no legal option but to support the decree.

This should be sufficient to show that there is not only no sound reason for rejecting Cyrus’ decree as the starting point of the seventy weeks; but that there is no biblical possibility whatever that another, later decree of some other Persian king was intended in Daniel’s prophecy.

Finally, the decree of Cyrus is the only one that makes sense as a starting point for the seventy weeks. Ezra gives us the four kings who reigned in Persia while this was going on in Ezra 4:5-7 [see appendix:The Four Persian Kings of Ezra 4:5-8]: the first is explicitly Cyrus. The last one is Darius Hystaspes, called “the Great”. The temple was finished in his second year. He was still in power when the wall was repaired under Nehemiah. There is no record of him making a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem; only one made for the enforcement of Cyrus’ decree after a lapse of some years:

And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid… Now therefore… Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.

Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. (Ezra 6:1-13)

Thus we read:

And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, [even] Artaxerxes king of Persia. (Ezra 6:14)

Notice the phrase, “the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius”. These are the only two commandments recorded in Scripture that relate to the restoration of Jerusalem. There was no third decree by some other Persian ruler named Artaxerxes; for, again, the work was completed under Darius. Any decree by any later Persian monarch to rebuild the city would be ludicrous, since it was already finished when Darius closed his reign! And the king called “Artaxerxes” who is mentioned in Ezra 4:7-24 is the one who caused the work to cease until he was succeeded by Darius! Obviously, he cannot be the Artaxerxes of Ezra 6:14. Hence, the word “and” must be understood as “even”. Darius is sometimes called Artaxerxes, and sometimes, Ahasuerus. Both were titles used by the Persian monarchs, as Pharaoh was used by the Egyptians, and Caesar by the Romans.

Part 1: The Restoration of Jerusalem

The first prediction concerns the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the temple. This was Daniel’s immediate concern, and the subject of God’s promise through Jeremiah, so we should not be surprised that it receives the first place in the revelation of Gabriel to Daniel. What was the condition of Jerusalem at this time? These passages contain the principal specifics of its ruined condition:

But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched. (Jeremiah 17:27)

And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. (2 Kings 25:8-10)

And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. (2 Chronicles 36:19)

The gates, the palaces, and all the great men’s houses had been burned; the wall had been broken down on all sides, and all the valuable furnishings of the houses and the temple had either been destroyed or carried off. It was a complete ruin, and would not be restored as a worshiping, functioning city without years of labor.

Add to this that Jerusalem had been uninhabited for seventy years. And now there were in Palestine less than 50,000 semi-pagan Jews, most of whom no longer spoke Hebrew, who had imbibed many of the customs and attitudes of the heathen societies of which they had been a part, who had no experience of liberty and self-government, who were ill-equipped to restore a system of government, civic order, and of worship that none of them had ever seen in action or experienced before! Many of these were going to be occupied with restoring their ancestral homes and villages scattered throughout Israel.

This was bad enough; but there were bitter and powerful enemies beside. This is hinted at in the expression “in troublous times”. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah document the opposition that the builders faced; and the book of Esther uncovers the Satanic plot that nearly succeeded to destroy the entire Jewish people worldwide, soon after the temple and the wall had been rebuilt. These were “troublous times” indeed!

The biblical history records that, despite all these obstacles, the restoration of Jerusalem did take place within the seven heptads.

Part 2: The Appearing of Messiah

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks…

The restoration of Jerusalem as a worshiping community was uppermost in Daniel’s mind; but God knew that Daniel’s ideal would never be fully realized. He had something else far better in mind, the new covenant of which Jeremiah had spoken, and a holy nation of Jews and Gentiles under the headship of Messiah. This was the real thing to be hoped for; of which Jerusalem was only a type. So the Lord not only answered Daniel’s prayer; He took this occasion to speak of things beyond Daniel’s immediate concern.

There can be no doubt about the year of Christ’s appearing, for His baptism is dated in the most specific terms in Luke’s gospel, chapter 3:

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins… Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:1-3;21-22)

This is, beyond doubt, the year we call 26 AD.

Likewise, the scriptural chronology dates the decree of Cyrus at 3589 Anno Mundi. Add 69 times 7, or 483 years “to Messiah”, and we get an AM date of 4072 for the baptism of Jesus. Therefore, 26 AD is the same as 4072 AM. Subtract thirty years for the age of Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:23), and the result is 4042, the correct AM date for the birth of Christ. [In the Gregorian calendar that we use, the birth of Christ is four years too late. He was really born in the year we call 4 BC (30-26=minus 4)].

The discrepancy that puzzles so many chronologers results from accepting a dating scheme for the Persian period drawn from questionable sources outside of Scripture. There are many good reasons for rejecting the received system, which we cannot go into here; but those who are interested will find this view concisely and powerfully argued by Phillip Mauro in his book, The Wonders of Bible Chronology. It is enough for our purpose to state that any scheme which contradicts the chronology given in the inspired Scriptures must be false.

The phrase used to describe the coming prince of this prophecy is “the Messiah”, which means “the anointed”. Accordingly, I believe that Daniel’s prophecy references the year of his baptism, of His anointing with the Holy Spirit, which was also the beginning of his public ministry. Some chronologists think that the year of Christ’s birth, or that of his crucifixion is meant, instead. But there can really be no doubt on this point; for in the terms of the prophecy, Christ appears after sixty-nine weeks, and all the redemptive work of Christ must be accomplished within the seventieth week:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)

We have seen that the sixty-nine weeks terminates with the appearing of Christ, and yet His ministry must be completed within one more week. This appearing cannot possibly be His birth, unless He commenced His public ministry as an infant.

Others, with more plausibility, explain it of His crucifixion. On this theory, He died at the end of the sixty-ninth week, and the seventieth week must have passed without any significance with respect to any of the things prophesied. Dispensationalists generally take this view, because it allows them to separate the final week from all the rest, and postulate a “parenthesis” of indeterminate length between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth; intending to support their dogma of the postponed kingdom by perverting the plain sense of the prophecy, in defiance of the rules of language and logic.

But the prophecy states that it will take seventy weeks to accomplish all the things spoken, not sixty-nine. The prophecy also seems to make a distinction between His appearing at the end of sixty-nine weeks and His cutting-off, some time “after” the sixty-nine weeks have elapsed:

And after [the first seven and the] threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself… (Daniel 9:26)

If the baptism of Messiah took place at the end of the sixty-ninth week, then His redemptive work and His “cutting off” must have been completed about halfway through the seventieth, which suits well with the stated terms of the prophecy. Everything is then fulfilled within the seventy heptads, as predicted.

Part 3: The Second Desolation of Jerusalem

…and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:26-27)

We now come to the most difficult part of the prophecy. For there can be no doubt that this last prophecy was fulfilled in the thoroughly documented wars of the Jews and the Romans, and the complete destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD. And yet this appears in the “seventy weeks” prophecy, which I claim ended in 33 AD or 4079 AM. How can this be reconciled?

In a word, while it is included in the “seventy weeks prophecy”, it is not included in the seventy weeks of the prophecy. If we attend to the terms of verse 24, there is nothing in it about the second desolation of the city. Notice the 6 things that are mentioned as occurring within the seventy weeks:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)

There is nothing here to suggest the second desolation of the temple. So I say that it is not in the seventy weeks of the prophecy. However, as we see in verses 26 and 27, it is in the prophecy. But it is almost an addendum, attached at the end, as something important suggested by and connected to the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Why was Jerusalem laid waste by the Romans? Because the Jews killed Jesus Christ. The mention of Messiah being “cut off” would suggest many questions to a Jewish mind like Daniel’s, “What happens next?” “How can Messiah be cut off when His kingdom lasts forever?” “Who is going to kill him?” It cannot have been out of place to anticipate such questions at this time.

Besides, this became an important part of the prophecy to the believing Jews at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction; for it is the source of the term, “the abomination of desolation” cited by Jesus in His Olivet Discourse:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: (Matthew 24:15-16)

They heeded the warning and fled to Petra, and not a hair of their head perished, as Christ foretold, and which Eusebius records.

The conclusion is, that it is therefore erroneous to posit a hidden gap in the seventy weeks prophecy between the death of Christ and the second destruction of Jerusalem, as some have done. There is simply no need to violate the integrity and continuity of the prophecy. The seventy weeks cannot be separated: they stand as a unitary whole.

Concluding Thoughts

What a series of shocks Daniel had to endure, as God unfolded to him what would befall the Jews in the future! First, he learned from the dream of Nebuchadnezzar that there would be a succession of four Gentile empires – not just the Babylonian – before Messiah’s kingdom would finally be established (Daniel 2).

Then he was shown a vision of four beasts, in which the fourth (Rome) was a terrifying creature that became a persecuting power and “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom”(Daniel 7:21-22).

Then he finds out that there will be another great persecuting power under the third world empire (Greece):

And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (Daniel 8:23-24)

Then he is given this prophecy of the second desolation of Jerusalem.

Finally, he is given a sketch of the bloody centuries of incessant wars among the Gentile powers that surrounded Israel, with yet more details about Antiochus Epiphanes, his persecutions and his desecrations of the temple (Daniel 11).

But among all these dire revelations were found the precious promises of God’s over-ruling providence and the eventual triumph of His kingdom.

Appendix: The Four Persian Kings of Ezra 4:5-8

4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. 6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king… (Ezra 4:4-8)

In verses 5-7, four successive kings of Medo-Persia are distinguished. The first, Cyrus, was the founder of the Empire, and the one who gave commandment in his first year as sole king that the Jews be released and Jerusalem and its temple be rebuilt. He reigned from 3589 to 3596 AM.

The second mentioned is Darius, the one who authorized the resumption of construction after his predecessor had halted it at the request of Israel’s enemies in the land. He was the fourth in order, for it is said that:

Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.(vvs. 4-5)

So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. (v.24)

This was Darius the Great, also called Hystaspes, who reigned from 3605 to 3641 AM. He was the king in power when the temple and the city were rebuilt during the first seven of the “seventy weeks” prophecy of Daniel:

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

Between Cyrus and Darius, two kings reigned. It is important to understand that Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, and Xerxes are titles – not personal names (just as Pharaoh and Caesar were titles given to many rulers of Egypt and Rome) – so they are not very helpful for identifying the particular persons designated by them. But history tells us that the successor of Cyrus was Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who reigned until 3603 AM. He must therefore be the “Ahasuerus” mentioned in verse 6. At the time Ezra wrote, this would have been the title associated with him. He received accusations against the Jews, but would not halt the work which his father, Cyrus, had lawfully decreed. The laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed (Daniel 6:8; Esther 1:17).

The next king was an imposter, called “Pseudo-Smerdis”, who reigned less than a year, in 3605. Cambyses had secretly murdered the real Smerdis, his brother and rival. This left an opportunity for an imposter to appear and challenge Cambyses for the throne. He was successful for seven months, until Darius assassinated him. No doubt the enemies of the Jews saw an opportunity for their anti-Jew agenda when Cambyses died, and they successfully pressed their suit with the new king, as recorded in verses 7-24:

And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia…

Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.

Then sent the king an answer…

The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein… Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?

Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

This letter and its reply were mainly concerned with the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s fortifications. Accordingly, the building of the wall was suspended until much later, when Nehemiah appeared.

But the building of the temple only ceased for a little while before the Jews determined to go on with the work. After all, the decree of Cyrus was still in force, for the laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed. Besides, they were sure it was God’s work, and that it would finally succeed. We have the record of this in Ezra 5:1-3:

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. (Ezra 5:1-3)

Then they were challenged by the authorities, and here is the answer that they gave:

We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up. But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished. (Ezra 5:11-16)

These authorities requested verification of the Jews’ story, and it was found to be true, when a copy of Cyrus’ decree was discovered. Darius accordingly authorized the resumption of the work in these words:

Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.

Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.

Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. (Ezra 6:7-12)

Thus the work went on and prospered until the temple was finished:

Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, [even] Artaxerxes, king of Persia. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. (Ezra 6:13-15)

In the second year of Darius (3606), the work officially resumed, and in 3609 the Jews celebrated the temple’s completion:

And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:21-22)

Darius is here called “the King of Assyria”. Israel lay in that part of the Persian empire that had formerly been the Assyrian Empire; but which had been taken over, first by Babylon, then by the Medes and Persians. Darius had many titles. He is called “Artaxerxes” again in Ezra 7:1, “King of Kings” in 7:12, “King of Babylon” in Nehemiah 13:6. He is also called “Ahasuerus” in the book of Esther, as Anstey abundantly proves:

“That the Ahasuerus of Esther is Darius Hystaspes and no other – although as Kitto says, “Almost every Medo-Persian King from Cyaxares I (B.C. 611-571) to Artaxerxes III Ochus (B.C. 358-338), has in turn been advanced as the Ahasuerus of Esther ” – is abundantly clear, and would never have been doubted but for the mis-dating of the events of the Persian period, and the mistaken notion that the same Persian monarch could not be described by two or three different names.

“This is (that) Ahasuerus which reigned from India even unto Ethiopia over 127 provinces” (Esther 1:1). Darius Hystaspes invaded and conquered India B.C. 506 (Herodotus, Books 3 and 4). Darius inherited the conquests of his predecessor Cambyses, in Egypt and Ethiopia; all Egypt submitted to Cambyses in the 5th year of his reign, B.C. 525, and he subdued the Ethiopians (Herodotus, Book 3).

“And King Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land and upon the Isles of the Sea” (Esther 10:1). The Fleet of Darius took Samos, Chios and Lesbos, and the rest of the Islands, in the year B.C. 496 (Herodotus, Book 6). Herodotus gives a list of the nations which paid tribute to Darius Hystaspes in his history, Book 3, Chapters 89-97. These include Egypt and India, the Island of Cyprus and the Islands of the Erythraean Sea. After adding up the total, Herodotus says, “Later on in his reign the sum was increased by the tribute of the Islands and of the nations of Europe as far as Thessaly” (Herodotus, Book 3, Chap. 96). Amongst the peoples who paid no settled tribute, but brought gifts to Darius Hystaspes, he mentions “The Ethiopians bordering upon Egypt, who were reduced by Cambyses” (Herodotus, Book 3, Chap. 97).

Susa or Shushan was built by Darius Hystaspes (Pliny vi, 27) or rather embellished with magnificent palaces by him (Elian, De Animal. xiii, 59). It was there that he resided and kept all his treasures (Herodotus, v, 49).

Thucydides (Book 1) and Plato (Menexenus) tell us that Darius Hystaspes subdued all the Islands in the Aegean Sea, and Diodorus Siculus (Book 12) tells us that they were all lost again by his son Xerxes before the 12th year of his reign, but it was after the 12th year of the reign of Ahasuerus that he imposed his tribute upon the Isles, and the successors of Xerxes held none of them except Clazomene and Cyprus (Xenophon, Hellenics, Book 5).

From all which it is clear that the Ahasuerus of Esther cannot be Xerxes, in fact that he can be none other than Darius Hystaspes, for his predecessors Cyrus and Cambyses never took tribute but only received presents. Polyenus (Stratagem, Book 7) says Darius was the first that ever imposed a tribute upon the people. For this reason Herodotus tells us (Book 3, Chap. 89) the Persians called Cyrus a father, and Cambyses a master, but Darius kapylon, a huckster, “for Darius looked to making a gain in everything.”

Evidently Haman knew the weakness of his master, when he offered to pay him 10,000 talents of silver for his pogrom or massacre of the Jews (Esther 3:9). Esther touches the same spring when she hints at the damage which the King’s revenue would suffer if the pogram were carried into effect (Esther 7:4). And in Esther 10:1 we have the direct mention of the fact that “he laid a tribute upon the land and upon the Isles of the Sea.”

In the Apocryphal Books the Ahasuerus of Esther, and the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1, are both identified with Darius Hystaspes. In 1 Esdras 3:1-2, we read, “Now when Darius reigned he made a great feast unto all his subjects and unto all his household, and unto all the princes of Media and Persia, and to all the governors and captains, and lieutenants that were under him, from India to Ethiopia, in the 127 provinces.” This is word for word from Esther 1:1-3, with the name Ahasuerus replaced by the name Darius who is afterwards identified with Darius Hystaspes, in whose sixth year the Temple was completed (1 Esdras 6:5; Ezra 6:15).

In the Rest of the chapters of the Book of Esther, and in the LXX. through-out, Ahasuerus is everywhere called Artaxerxes. It was Artaxerxes whom Bigthan and Teresh sought to lay hands on (Rest of Esther 12:1-2). It was the great King Artaxerxes who wrote “to the princes and governors who were under him from India unto Ethiopia, in 127 provinces (Rest of Esther 13:1).

Archbishop Ussher was a profoundly well read scholar, and he identifies Darius Hystaspes with Artaxerxes, and with Ahasuerus, and this is in entire agreement with everything contained in the Old Testament, and with all trustworthy ancient testimony.

But since Scaliger, the first modern Chronologer, introduced the new fangled notion that Ahasuerus must be Xerxes, most modern scholars have adopted his error, which rests on no more substantial ground than that of philological conjecture and supposed congruity of character…”

The reader is directed to Philip Mauro’s small book, The Wonders of Bible Chronology for a summary of Martin Anstey’s chronology; and in particular, of the errors of the received chronology in dating the Persian period.

Howard Douglas King

Revised September 16, 2014

The New Iconoclasm

What the Smashing of our Statues Really Means

I have been dismayed about many things that are being allowed to happen in this country that are aimed at the destruction of our culture and our heritage. It is troubling to see the ones who have sworn to uphold the laws, preventing law enforcement officers from protecting the lives and property of others. This dereliction of duty is characteristic of the officials who belong to one of the two major political parties – the one under whose big tent can be found radical Marxists, socialists, progressives, and others of the far left. This leads me to suspect that – not only do they not see anything wrong with this kind of “free expression” as they call it – but that they want it to happen.

Among the illegal acts of the mobs that have taken over our streets is the destruction of statues. The most sympathetic view that I can take of their actions is that they are sincerely offended by the evil things that America has done in the past; and that their zeal for their ideals makes it seem to them a virtuous thing. Doubtless, some of them fit this pattern.

Others may be the kind of people who need to feel a part of a group; passive people, followers, who will do anything to gain the approval of others. When they realize that there are no consequences for their actions, they are encouraged to draw attention to themselves by trying to out-strip the others by doing even worse things.

Still others are evil people who simply love to destroy. They could never make anything of value or beauty; but they envy those who can, and despise their works for that reason alone. Under the cover of a cause, they hide their real motives.

And then there are those who do have a purpose in this wanton and indiscriminate destruction. These are the young Marxists who have been trained and brainwashed in our institutions of education (mind you, at taxpayer expense). They know that Communist revolutions are accomplished by the weakening of institutions, especially the church, the academy, the courts, and law enforcement; and the creation of chaos in the social order that they are attempting to take over. They, or at least those who direct them, aim at the eventual destruction of our culture and social order, and then finally, our system of government. This is not paranoia; but a matter of fact, as anyone who cares to research it will be able to verify for himself.

This is why the desecration of our public monuments is more important than it seems to some. This new iconoclasm aims at two things that are essential to the revolutionary program.

First, by removing the reminders of our history, they intend to cut us off from our roots and thus our identity as a people. Nothing is more fundamental to human beings than the need for a sense of identity. Where did I come from? What family and what country do I belong to? What are the moral and religious ideas that prevail in my family and nation; and to which I must always have respect? What are the laws that I have to obey? How am I to live – what are the mores or folkways and customs of my community? Such things define us. By them we know who we are, and to what people we belong.

America is in an identity crisis. For example; and perhaps most importantly of all, we have already begun to descend into the pit of sexual confusion. Men and women dress alike, walk alike, partake of the same vices, talk alike. Our young people are not even sure of their sexual identity: whether men are fundamentally different from women, whether traditional sex roles matter, whether homosexual and other hitherto taboo activities are natural or not. Males are not sure they are really males and females doubt their femaleness. Femininity and masculinity are forgotten concepts. It is doubtful that any such society can survive for long; or whether it deserves to survive.

While far less important, it is no small thing to destroy our geographical, cultural, or historical identity. To attack the symbols of our historical identity is an assault on every one of us; but especially our children, who will grow up without these valuable reminders of our national and historical identity.

But this is not the only goal that the new iconoclasts aim at. A second purpose is the creation of chaos. The deep divisions in our country are exacerbated when a controversial issue comes to the fore. Though there are many people (probably a majority) who deplore the new iconoclasm; there are many, and often vociferous people on the other side of the question. Acts like this do not bring us together to discuss and reach a compromise – they inspire resentment and antagonism on both sides. Constructive debate becomes impossible. What remains but to fight?

It does not help that the new iconoclasts are not accustomed to using reason or discussing their positions on the issues with an open mind. This is not an unfair characterization: it is a fact. For the most part, they have been taught to view anyone who disagrees with them as an enemy; and to regard any argument coming from them as an attempt to subvert their leftist faith. They are bound to resist; and as they have no reasonable defense, they must not commit the sin of listening to enemy propaganda.

Chaos is one thing that the ruling class cannot deal with. The only answer to it is the firm and proportional application of lawful force. This they are incapable of. Their one concern under normal conditions is to be re-elected. Thus the first rule of their lives is to talk much without saying anything unequivocal; and to do nothing. When a crisis occurs, a second rule applies: blame others and refer the matter to a committee.

Now, neither of these rules of action are going to be of much help when chaos has descended upon a city. So another rule comes into play: dither, and hope that the problem will go away of its own accord, or that someone else will solve it.

Knowing well the way of politicians, the left is confident that a confused state of things can be initiated and made to grow by a planned and coordinated effort beginning in the big cities – which are not very far from chaos already.

The fact is that most of the serious crimes are committed in the city; and most of them are either not reported, not solved or not punished. Police forces are often overburdened and under-supported. A power failure during the night hours will immediately bring out hosts of looters, robbers, murderers and rapists. They live for moments like this. That is how close the cities are to chaos. Light a match to it and the tinder will suddenly burst into flame.

The new iconoclasts care not that the property they are destroying does not belong to them; but to the people.

They do not seem to care whose statue they are throwing down, or what admirable qualities the man thus immortalized represents which inspires the best sentiments in the people. It is enough for them that the man had some moral blemish – real or imagined. It is enough for them that they are wiser in their own eyes than any generation that went before them; and so, fit to judge – to approve or disapprove, to save or to destroy – things which in truth, they cannot even understand.

They have no appreciation of the monuments’ value as works of art. They have never been taught to distinguish beauty from ugliness. They don’t have the patience to wait for the rightful lawmakers to remove them in an orderly fashion. The mob brings out the worst passions in the individuals who comprise it. And because no one resists them; they do not care that they are breaking the law. The mob is, after all, its own law, enforced by its own violence, subject to nothing but a superior force.

The new iconoclasts have so far been successful to an alarming degree (no small thanks to gutless or possibly sympathetic, but plainly derelict public officials); but they will never be satisfied until they have obliterated the last traces of a Christian nation. The real revolution has not yet begun. I pray that we will never see the indiscriminate shedding of blood and other enormous crimes that have marked the ascent of Marxism in every place where it has prevailed.

Howard Douglas King:  June 23rd, 2020

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The Second Coming of Christ

A Sermon

But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)

I am here to speak to you today on the solemn subject of the second coming of Jesus Christ; referred to in these words of holy Scripture: “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” That this is the personal return of Jesus Christ is clear from the words of the text. The apostle Paul, writing in this epistle to first-century Jewish Christians has just stated that Jesus appeared the first time to die in the place of sinners in order that their sins might be put away. The word, “appeared” is a way of referring to the incarnation of the eternal Word of God, as Paul elsewhere says, using the same Greek verb, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). It was not merely a phantom or ghostly vision that was seen by men; but a real man, born of a woman, with a human body as well as a human soul. As this first appearance of Christ was personal and visible; so will the second be.

In the words of the text, “…now once in the end of the world hath he appeared”. “The end of the world” should be understood as “the end of the age”. It was in the last days of the Jewish nation and of the Mosaic economy that Jesus Christ appeared. This fact was very significant to the Jews who were living in those last days of their national existence. All that they had ever known – the Temple and its worship, the Sanhedrin which governed them, was about to come to an end. The age of Jewish privilege and exclusivity was ending. A new age, the Kingdom of God, was dawning, into which the Gentile nations would be brought, on the same footing as the Jews.

At His first appearing, He “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”. The word means “to make void, to abolish, to do away with”. Jesus did not come to make the forgiveness of sins a mere possibility, but to effect it, to make it happen. Those for whom He died have had their sins put away. Not all sin has been put away, for many die in their sins, and suffer the just punishment for them in Hell; but the sins of those for whom He died. He bore the sins of many, of those given to Him by the Father, of those who were chosen unto salvation through belief of the truth. Their sins He put away from them, as far as the east is from the west. Though their sins were as scarlet, He made them whiter than snow. The rest of mankind, those who believe not, shall die in their sins, and the wrath of God will be poured out upon them in Hell. The fact that Christ died for sinners will do them no good!

An analogy is then stated, the point of which is to emphasize the uniqueness and the finality of the redemptive work of Christ. The first part is ”as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. Men die but once. Yet that is not the end of their existence. Afterward, though their bodies have lain in the ground and decayed, they must one day be raised again to stand before God at the last judgment. Just so, the Lord Jesus died once; yet that is not the end! He shall come again at the appointed time to complete the salvation He has begun in us who trust in Him, who “look for Him” – that is, who eagerly await His coming, when He shall raise our bodies unto glory and immortality.

Jesus is coming again! He will appear the second time! This is the great fact of which our text treats! But what does it mean to you? What does the Bible teach about this momentous event that you need to know and understand and act on? My friends, why am I here? I have come for one reason: to seek your conversion and your salvation from the wrath to come. It is the most serious business that a man can undertake. I hope that you will give me a few moments of your attention while I show you from the Bible what it is that God would have you all to know.

The first part of my task is to debunk some popular myths about the second coming.

It will do you no good to merely tell you the truth, if you have already been taught something different. There is a popular view on this subject taught by many that is very far removed from the truth taught in the Bible – a complicated scenario invented in the nineteenth century that perverts the truth always held and taught by God’s church. This view has been widely propagated in sermons and books and even novels and movies; so that many people think that this is what all real Christians believe. It is impossible to teach on this subject without contrasting the truth with what is generally believed today. I will address five of the most important of these myths.

Myth number one: The Second Coming does not mark the end of history.

Many teach that a whole series of historical events follows upon the so-called “rapture of the church”: the tribulation, the rise and career of the Antichrist, Armageddon, the “coming in glory”, a general judgment of the nations, then the millennium, followed by a general apostasy, then another resurrection and final judgment. One text is sufficient to refute this claim:

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

When we want to discover the teaching of Scripture on any question, it is necessary that we go first to those places in Scripture that speak to the question we are asking. Chapter 15 of First Corinthians is a defense of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. It is chock full of words and phrases that indicate the order and timing of the final events of history. I know of no place like it in the whole Bible. Note the following words and expressions:

firstfruits

in his own order

afterward

at his coming

then

the end

when he shall have

till

the last

when

then

These are all terms that reveal sequence and timing. This paragraph, from verse 20 to verse 28, is designed to show us the order of the great events that occur at the close of human history, and where the resurrection of the just fits into the plan of God. It cannot be denied that it is a reasonable place to look for the answer to many questions about eschatology.

It begins “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” Then it goes on to explain the meaning and implications of the fact that Christ is the “firstfruits” of those that sleep in Jesus. As death came by a particular man, Adam, so the resurrection came by a man, Jesus Christ. Christ is the firstfruits – a reference to the first ripened fruit of the harvest, with the rest to follow after. The resurrection is an accomplished fact as it concerns Christ Himself, but it is not yet time to see the rest of the harvest. “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” The resurrection of the saints will occur at the coming of Jesus Christ.

The next point is somewhat obscured by the translation, which supplies the unexpressed verb as “cometh”. Albert Barnes comments:

Then cometh the end – Then is the end; or then “is” the consummation. It does not mean that the end, or consummation is to “follow” that event; but that this “will” be the ending, the winding up, the consummation of the affairs under the mediatorial reign of Christ. The word “end” [Greek, telos] denotes properly a limit, termination, completion of anything. The proper and obvious meaning of the word here is, that then shall be the end or completion of the work of redemption. That shall have been done which was intended to be done by the incarnation and the work of the atonement; the race shall be redeemed; the friends of God shall be completely recovered; and the administration of the affairs of the universe shall be conducted as they were before the incarnation of the Redeemer.

Verse 25 says, “ …He must reign , till he hath put all enemies under His feet.” This is a reference to Psalm 110, which says that Christ will reign over earth (in the midst of His enemies) from heaven (at God’s right hand) until His victory is complete (until God makes Christ’s enemies Christ’s footstool”):

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.”(Psalms 110:1-2)

When he says, “the last enemy that shall be destroyed [better, “defeated”] is death”, he is referring to the resurrection of the righteous. For them, death is defeated when they rise from the dead in immortal glory. Now, according to verse 23, this takes place “at His coming”. But if the last enemy of Christ is destroyed, then history is at an end! Finally, verses 27-28 describe the transition to the eternal state, when the mediatorial reign of Christ is at an end, and the administration of the universal kingdom is returned to God the Father.

Notice that there is no such “two-stage” coming of Christ as is widely taught. There is no rapture/return distinction. Whereas it is commonly taught that the resurrection of church saints occurs seven years before the visible return of Christ; Paul teaches that the resurrection occurs at the visible appearing of Christ at the end of history. The more this passage is studied, the more clear it will become that the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Jesus Christ marks the end of history, and the beginning of the eternal state.

Myth number two: Jesus is coming at any moment.

It is true that Jesus may come for me personally at any moment, for I may die at any time, without warning; and if I am His I am assured that He will come and receive me into His father’s house. But this is not the bodily return of which we speak. It is beyond argument that the second coming can only occur after all the unfulfilled prophecies of the Bible (except the second coming itself) have been accomplished, and this may require many generations yet to complete. The chief of these is that implied in Psalm 110, and stated by the apostle Paul, “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1Corinthians 15:25). There must be a worldwide victory of Christ over all the powers of the world that oppose Him: Judaism, Islam, Popery, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism must all fall before the power of Christ, reigning from God’s right hand (Psalm 110:1-2). The Jews must be converted, along with “the fulness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11). The rulers of the nations must all bow to Christ, as predicted by all the prophets – not after His coming, but before! Only when that has happened will Christ leave that throne of glory (or rather bring it with him) to come to earth in person and claim His prize (Acts 3:21).

But if this is true, some will say, what do we care about it? We’ll all be dead before it happens. Quite right, I say! We will probably be dead. But what does that matter? We will all – every one of us – certainly be there in that day, and the events of that day concern us in the greatest way and to the greatest extent possible! It is the day of our doom or of our vindication, of our ruin or of our triumph, of eternal death or eternal life. What could be more important, or more worthy of our thoughts? God has revealed this truth to strengthen our faith and to magnify our fear of Him. This will be its effect, if we receive it in faith, regardless of when it is to occur. He has revealed it to terrify those who oppose Him, that they might take warning and amend their sinful ways! This effect does not depend on when it will actually happen.

Myth number three: Jesus is coming to take His people to heaven.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is coming to earth to dwell with His people here forever, in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2-3; 22-23); not to snatch away His people and go away. They rise to meet Him in the air, as the people of the Hebrews once went out to meet Him at the triumphal entry, to conduct Him onward into the city of Jerusalem with due honors. They will not go back to heaven with Him, for that is not where He is going. The eternal destiny of God’s people is not in heaven! That is the doctrine of Medieval Catholicism with its Platonic exaltation of the spirit over the body and its “beatific vision”. It is not in the Bible! The saints who sleep in Jesus are with the Lord now in heaven, but that is a temporary arrangement until the resurrection, when they return with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14) to rejoin the saints then on earth in the resurrection of the just.

Myth number four: After the Christians are removed, the world goes through seven years of great tribulation.

The great tribulation mentioned in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) was another name for “the days of vengeance” spoken of by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 61:1-2 compared with Luke 21:22). After the Jews crucified Christ, they were punished with a series of severe national judgments that culminated in the war with Rome in which the city and temple were destroyed, more than a million Jews killed, and the rest scattered among the nations. Christ predicted this, and represented to the Jewish authorities (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69) that He would soon be “seen” sitting on the right hand of God, and would “come on the clouds of heaven” to execute these judgments upon them. This time of great tribulation had reference to the generation then living (Matthew 23:29-36; 24:34). There is no such thing in the Bible as a future great tribulation after Jesus comes again. It has already occurred, long ago!

Myth number five: Jesus is coming yet again at the end of the tribulation to set up His millennial kingdom, which had to be postponed because the Jews rejected Him.

Jesus has already set up His kingdom, and it is an eternal kingdom (Isaiah 9:7; 2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 11:15) – not one that only lasts thousand years. When He came the first time, He announced that the time was fulfilled and His kingdom was at hand, and it was! Just three and a half years later, after His crucifixion and resurrection, He ascended to the right hand of God, to the throne of all power in heaven and in earth. He was crowned Lord and Christ. There is no higher name in earth or heaven! The kingdom of God is here, and He reigns over the nations to bring them into subjection even now. Scripture lends no support to the view that the kingdom was postponed, as some claim. God does not change His plans because some men don’t consent to them.

We have seen what the Bible does not teach about the second coming of Christ. What then does the Bible really teach about the second coming?

First, Jesus is coming to bring an end to human history with all its ungodliness, false religions, injustices, vices, disappointments and suffering. There is a great divide coming, when “this present time” will end and “the world to come” will begin.

Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. (Luke 18:28-30)

There is time and there is eternity, and there must be a defining event that intervenes between them. This event is uniformly represented as the day of judgment.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Act 17:29-31)

A time is coming when all the business of this life, the labor and the strivings of men will cease. This is true for each of us personally for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. But a time is coming when the whole world will come to a sudden halt, and every work of man will be brought into judgment.

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)

The end of this age will be with perfect finality: all that now is, being corrupted and polluted by sin, must burn to make room for a new world of immaculate purity.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up… Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2Peter 3:10,13)

The day of judgment commences with the appearance of the Judge. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22) God will judge the world in righteousness by that man He hath ordained. But where is He today? He is at the right hand of God, waiting for the time appointed when He shall return to earth for the final judgment of all men.

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. (Act 3:19-21)

Jesus is coming to bring an end to human history.

Second, Jesus is coming to raise the dead. John the Apostle said,

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:11-15)

All men, from the most obscure, unknown peasant whose memory has been lost in the depths of time, to the greatest kings and lords of history must appear at the judgment seat of Christ. Every knee must bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. So they must all be summoned, body and soul, to that dreadful place and time when their destinies will be forever sealed and declared before all. The souls of the dead are already in places of punishment or reward, while their bodies lie rotting in the ground. But now, says the sovereign Lord Christ, “all that are in the graves shall hear [my] voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29) Jesus is coming to raise the dead.

Third, Jesus is coming to judge the world. We have already touched on this in the Scriptures we have cited so far. This is the last judgment, at the consummation of the mediatorial kingdom of Christ. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords: there is no higher authority in earth or heaven, and He claims it as His right to pass eternal sentence on His subjects. The Father, who has exalted Jesus to such a height, is well-pleased to see Him exercise the royal prerogative:

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Hebrews 1:8-9)

As the ancient creed says, “He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead.” In the words of Christ himself,

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mat 25:31-41) Jesus is coming to judge the world.

Fourth, Jesus is coming to bring eternal righteousness and peace on earth.

Some there are who claim that Jesus comes to bring peace on earth for only a thousand years; but this is not so. If that were true, this would not be the last judgment – judgment day would have to be postponed ’til this millennium had run its course. No, they are mistaken to think Jesus comes to commence His kingdom! He comes to consummate it, to bring all things to a conclusion, and to surrender His commission to His Father once this is done, as taught in 1 Corinthians 15:21-28.

Peter tells us that the elements will melt at His coming, and the earth and all its works will be burned up. The promise of “a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness” will then be fulfilled. “The meek shall” finally and forever “inherit the earth”. We were not made to live forever as disembodied spirits in heaven! We would not be whole if our physical being were not restored, if our souls were forever separated from our bodies. We belong to the earth, since we were made from the dust at the beginning. We are the image of God, and to be such we must be visible.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Rev 21:1-5)

Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new!” Paul said in his Roman epistle that

the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:18-23)

The glory that awaits the sons of God will not be confined to their persons: the whole new creation will be delivered from suffering and death for our sakes, as it was once ruined by our sin. This restoration of the original Eden, this replanting of the garden of God will be grander and greater than at the first, for it will be eternally secure because of what Christ has done to secure this perfection beyond any possibility of its marring.

On the other hand, that wicked one who once plunged the new-made world into misery will be no longer at large. The old serpent will be; and yet be as if he were not. His everlasting pains will be the too-real proof of his own existence to him, but no one else will pity him, or even notice him, far away at the bottom of the abyss, enclosed in darkness beyond the piercing of the sharpest eye. With him, in unutterable woe, will be all those who followed him – all who obeyed him – all who were willingly enslaved to him for the sake of the pleasures of sin – all who would not serve Jesus Christ while they lived. Jesus said that this place was “made for the Devil and his angels”; not exclusively, but especially. It was made to be a prison that he could never escape, a torment that even he could not bear.

A Word Picture of the Second Coming

My friends, let me draw you a picture of the Second Coming, the Day of Judgment, and the End of the World. The following picture is to some extent imaginary, and may not be correct in all its details, but it is meant to present the main facts of Biblical eschatology in a realistic and dramatic fashion. Its main features are such as the church of Jesus Christ has always believed and taught.

It begins as a day like any other. Alarm clocks go off, the sun comes up and people get out of bed. They drink their coffee, eat their breakfast and pursue their daily routines. It is a day like any day until… Suddenly – an unusual sound is heard. It is the sound of a great trumpet, but like no trumpet ever heard before! The note is pure and powerful, rising above the televisions and radios that are playing in the homes, above all the noise of the streets, even the great machines of the powerhouses and factories; and, most remarkably, people all over the world hear it at once! It is a solemn, dreadful, moving sound, and it does not go away. It continues and grows until it is the only sound heard and the only thought in men’s minds! There is something unearthly about it. In their hearts, a fear grows with it, the fear of guilty conscience, the memory of past sins. People unaccountably start to remember the shameful deeds they have committed in darkness, and dared to tell no one. They are seized with the desire to run and hide, but there is nowhere to hide from that sound, or from the torment within.

Then there is a great outcry, “Look! Look at the sky!” Something is coming! It looks like a brilliant cloud, but it is moving too fast. It begins to resemble a vast flock of white birds. “No, it’s not birds” says one. “No! It can’t be! It can’t be that!” men are heard to say. But it is that, the unspeakable, the unthinkable – Jesus Christ is coming, at the head of an army of millions and millions of angels.

Now the sky is filled with them, mighty winged warriors with dreadful dauntless faces, terrible to behold. On the earth, stark, paralyzing terror takes hold.

The trumpet suddenly ceases, but this brings no relief. For then a great voice cries out from heaven, clear and deep and resonant, human, but somehow just as terrible as the trumpet. “All ye saints, come up hither. Thy King cometh!”

As the King’s entourage draws near, the earth begins to tremble – slightly at first, then more violently. It rumbles and groans, as its foundations begin to crumble. All the graves break open, and a most wonderful sight is seen: men, women and children flying upward in beautiful white raiment, with joyful countenances, rising to meet their King and Savior. Others come – not from the graves, but – living men transformed all of a sudden into holy, rapturous beings unlike anything men have seen! They can be seen now gathering about Him, like another great cloud, and the angels recede from Him somewhat to give the greater place and honor to His redeemed ones.

But now a great wailing begins on earth, as people finally realize that this is really the end of the world, and they all unprepared! They gnaw their tongues and blaspheme. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth. And then they begin to notice something else. Slowly, as if dragged against their will, men – or what once were men – are crawling out of the graves. These are not like the others. They are bent over as if under a great weight. They look like corpses still, and in their eyes is the look of terror and dread. They stink of death, and in their faces is the malignity of devils. Woe unto them! Their souls have lain in prison, tormented but unrepentant, some for years, some for ages, and have only been raised from the dead now that they might suffer for all time in the same bodies in which they sinned!

Now their eyes fasten upon the sky, where they see many of the great white figures with shining faces break off from the rest and bend their wing towards earth. They are coming to bind the damned and bring them to judgment. What cursing and execrations! What pitiful moans and wails arise! But all in vain! There is no escape. The swift angels arrest their prey with ease and bind them hand and foot. And not only them, for many of the living will share the same fate.

Soon all humanity has been divided into two groups, the miserable prisoners and the free sons of God. They are brought into court before the greatest of Kings, who sits on a throne set in the heavens, with all the world in attendance before Him, the Sons of God on His right hand, and the prisoners on His left.

When all are in their places, and silence has been imposed, the Judge rises from His seat. He looks about at the multitude, then at the earth which hangs in the air beneath them. “Behold!” He cries. And as He does so, the earth swings upward in an arc around the heavenly assembly, so that instead of being under them, it is before them. “The place where all the crimes of your race were committed! The world once glorious, now corrupted beyond remedy. This is the end! Be no more!” He raises His hand, and the earth bursts into flame. All the immeasurable wealth, all the hopes and dreams, all the proudest achievements of vain man are overwhelmed in the Divine inferno and swiftly reduced to ashes.

He speaks again, “Ye sons of Adam, I, your lawful King, have been appointed by my Father to judge the world in righteousness. Long have I desired this day; for I delight to do the will of my Father. And it is His will that all evil should come to an end today. I have triumphed over the wicked one, and it is given to me to execute judgment upon him and his, and all their works. It is also His will, that His faithful servants should this day receive their full reward. By the authority vested in me as Mediator and Judge of all men, I declare that this tribunal of the Most High God is now in session!”

Then the Judge is seated, and the trial begins. The books are opened. The secrets of men’s hearts are now to be discovered, their true characters revealed. The Divine-human Judge knows all, sees all. His austere expression, His face at once lovely and full of awful grandeur, hushes all to silence.

The first book is opened, the Book of Life. And all the names are read, one by one. And with the reading of each name there is joy for some and grief for others – joy for those whose names are read, and for those who loved them while they lived; and grief to those who were their persecutors. Finally, the last name is read, and the Book of Life is closed. The Judge says to all of them, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

Then His eyes, which are as a flame of fire, turn toward those on His left hand. The other books are now opened, containing all their names, and the records of each man’s works. Everyone knows now that no excuse will suffice. It’s all been written down. In their hearts they know that lies are of no use here. Every mouth is stopped, and all the sinners in the world become guilty before God. The charges are brought, but there is no defense! Then the wicked hear their dread sentence,”Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!” and with the terrible sound of their wailing, mixed with bitter cries of futile rage, are driven away into outer darkness forever. Silence reigns in the wake of the righteous judgment of God Almighty. The Redeemed are still creatures, and the awe upon their souls leaves them amazed and quiet for a season.

Suddenly, the saints hear a new sound, like the voice of many waters. They turn to the source of the sound. It is coming from their former abode! Instead of the blackness of ash and smoking ruin, the air is clear again. The oceans and continents are plainly visible. Green patches can be seen on the land, growing rapidly. Blue ribbons – streams? and – can it be? – pools of water appear! Hills rise to mountainous height and sink into basins as the whole is shaped by an invisible hand. The work is brought swiftly to completion, for God does not need six days to re-create the world. Birds once more are heard and seen to fly in the blue heaven, and living creatures of all kinds fill the earth and sea. The LORD, now finished with His work of judgment, gives a great laugh of profound joy, and cries ”Behold, I make all things new!” Suddenly, the saints find themselves descending in the company of their Lord and all His angels to a beautiful paradise, where they shall live forever in holy peace and blessedness. Thus the world ends; and yet begins again!

What Must we Do?

Dear friends, If you are not a Bible Christian, a true disciple of Jesus Christ, it is not yet too late. There is time to make peace with the God you have offended so many times by your sins. You need not be among the lost in that day. Indeed, you must not let that terrible day find you unprepared! Now is the time when you must begin to put your house in order. From this day forward, you must make the chief business of your life the salvation of your soul. You must stop pretending that religion is a matter for others – not for you. You must stop shunning good men, and break off your friendships with the foolish, the wicked, and careless sinners. You must begin to fear God and walk in all His ways as He gives you light from His word.

But more important than these outward things; you must from the heart repent and believe the gospel of salvation. Then you can be one of those glorious and joyful beings who live forever with Jesus; and you can look forward to the day of judgment without fear. Believe that Christ died in the place of sinners, bearing their sins so that they might be freed forever from all the guilt and the pollution and the power and the presence of sin, and so from the wrath of almighty God. Believe that the gospel is addressed to you and that God is in earnest when He calls you to receive the salvation that is in His Son. Turn from the works of darkness and shame that have not profited you, except to bring you into bondage to the devil and your own lusts! God will receive you, and give you a place among His sons and daughters! Only trust Him!

Do it now, before the impression this sermon has made upon you fades. Do not think you can go away and think about it for a while without sin. The Lord will not be “played”. It is the devil who says, “Later, later – at a more convenient time.” Jesus demands that you bow the knee to Him, acknowledge His rightful claims on your life, and render Him the allegiance and service that you owe – now! There is no reason to delay! Give Him your heart; for it is His by right. If you refuse, you only add fresh rebellion, and you will have no right to expect anything but judgment from Him in that Great Day. Heed the words of Scripture, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalms 2:12) Amen!

A Great Hymn on the Second Coming of Christ

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!

By John Cennick

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How Deadly is the Covid19 Virus?

There is much talk of the fatality rate of the COVID19 disease. But what is a fatality rate, and what does the number really tell us? Most of us never consider the fact that the term may mean more than one thing – or, put another way, that there are more than one thing that it can mean. In this paper, I will distinguish three kinds of fatality rates.

First kind of fatality rate:

By fatality rate is usually meant the number of fatalities compared to the number of the whole population. It is said that, in the case of COVID19, it is much lower than what was expected. This is a useful number, in that it tells me what the risk of dying from the disease is, simply considered: whether I should test positive for the disease or not, whether I am exposed to the virus or not, and whether I develop an asymptomatic case or not.

And it is subject to this limitation: its accuracy is compromised by the fact that the true way to calculate the overall death rate is to divide the final number of fatalities by the final number of symptomatic cases — that is, those who get sick from the coronavirus. Obviously, we cannot do that yet because we do not have the data. Any number we get is therefore provisional at best. If we use the numbers we have now, this method yields a ratio of .017 or 1.7 % for the US and 6.2% for the world (as of March 28).

Nevertheless, it has some value because it gives us a rough idea of how contagious the disease is, in combination with its lethality. But no matter what disease we are considering, it is always a low number, a small percentage; and so can mislead us into thinking that the disease caused by the virus is not particularly dangerous. I suspect that this is the fatality rate that is presented to the public for that very reason – to avoid or mitigate the panic that might be caused if another kind of fatality rate were to be used.

Second kind of fatality rate:

We might also want to know what our chances of dying are if we test positive for the virus, and are considered an “active case”. People who have tested positive will want to know what they can expect. To find this number, the best we can do is to compare the number of coronavirus-caused fatalities to the number of active cases. This will be a much larger percentage than the death rate for the general population; as the number of active cases is always a small proportion of the whole population.

But the number of “active cases” is a very imprecise number, with a very wide margin for error: first, because to test positive for the virus is not the same thing as it is to contract the disease; second, because there are many false positives and false negatives, and there are many “asymptomatic” cases among those tested; and third, because so few people have even been tested. It is therefore almost a meaningless number – a mere guess.

Third kind of fatality rate:

When we consider the question, “How deadly is the COVID19 disease?”, and not “What are my chances, considered as a member of the whole population, of dying from it?” or “What are my chances if I test positive for the virus?” we will need a different mode of calculation which tells us what our chances of dying are if we get the disease. Since we want to put a number on it, we have to work from the data that we have. Fortunately, we have more reliable numbers for this than for the other two kinds of fatality rates. Admittedly, they are not final numbers, so that, as in the other two kinds, we will only able to get a provisional number. However, both of the figures being compared are actual and definitive numbers; since deaths and recoveries are objective and measurable, and the amounts are free from speculation and wide margins of error.

The first question is how many people die from the virus, as compared to the number who get sick, but recover. Many of the well-known charts online, though not all, give both numbers. Here is a real-world example, according to the Bing tracker website:

As of March 28, in the US, 2,465 people who have had the disease have recovered; while there are 1,706 who have died from it. That’s 1.44 recoveries for each death. Put another way, for every 100 people who have recovered, 69 have died. A sobering statistic, don’t you think?

The ratio for the global cases is better – 132,440 recovered versus 26,909 fatalities. That works out to 4.92 recoveries for each fatality or 20 deaths for each 100 recoveries. But since China is suspected of under-reporting deaths and inflating the number of recoveries by as much as 40 times! these numbers may be significantly inaccurate. China claims to have had 74,971 recoveries versus 3,295 deaths. That’s 2,280 recoveries for each death, or only 4.4 deaths for each 100 who recover. A bad enough figure; but I for one don’t believe it. For this reason, the true global ratio is probably nearer to that of the US.

To get the percentage of deaths for the number of people who have contracted the disease, we must first know how many cases of sick people have already been resolved; either by the patient’s recovery or his death. So we simply add together the fatalities and the recoveries. Using the same actual figures, we get: 2,465 recoveries plus 1,706 deaths. That gives us a total of resolved cases – 4,171. 1706 divided by 4171 = .409, which is 41%. 41% of the people in the U.S. who have contracted the disease have died.

That indicates an extremely high lethality.

Conclusion

This approach to determining the deadliness of the disease is not perfect.  It is an  estimate, and as I said, it is provisional. Improved care will doubtless lower the numbers. It also fails to take into account the variable risks of the various groups. This could be worked out in detail; but that is outside the scope of this essay. But it is accurate enough, I submit to you, to give us a fuller picture than the one propagated by the media.

So, is the COVID19 disease deadly? Cherish no illusions. Don’t trust the propagandists, or the governmental bodies that want to avoid causing a panic. Judge for yourself. YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET THIS DISEASE.

Howard Douglas King

March 28, Year of our Lord 2020

Some Thoughts on Masculinity and Femininity

When we get beyond the many obvious physical differences between the sexes, and consider what is different about them internally, we know instinctively that there is something called “femininity” in women and “masculinity” in men. We may be tempted to think of these as two traits that explain the fundamental differences in male and female personalities. We may express these differences by saying, for example, “men are more rational and women are more emotional” or “Man is strength, and woman is beauty”. There is some truth in both of these maxims; but the whole truth is more complicated.

Neither are masculinity and femininity single traits, or even patterns of behavior. They involve perceptions, attitudes, inclinations, emotions, reactions that are partly products of their physical differences, and partly qualities that fit them for their respective callings. Rather, it is the whole personality type that differs between the sexes. A boy naturally develops a male personality type because he was born a male; and because he admires his father, and wants to be like him. This begins when he starts copying his father’s actions and words. He is not just playing when he uses a toy workbench and tools that his father gave him; he is becoming a man. The same is true of the female.

Because so much of the upbringing of children depends upon the behavior that they observe every day in the home; it is essential that both parents accept and act out the sex roles that God has assigned to each. It is also important that girls spend most of their time with their mothers and other women, in the home, learning the duties of a wife, mother and homemaker.  Boys should ideally (as they do in agricultural communities) spend most of their time with their fathers and other men, learning how men act and think and interact with each other, and also being trained to do the work their fathers do.

There must be different emphases in the training of boys and girls. For this reason (and others) schools should be segregated by sex. Girls must learn serenity, modesty, unselfishness and humility. These qualities are indispensable in a woman. They are the various facets of inner beauty. Boys must learn to be responsible, honest, courageous and diligent. These together form an inner strength. Children with these qualities (which can be developed early on) grow up to be persons of worth, capable of fulfilling their God given roles. They will also be attractive mates to the opposite sex, irrespective of their outward appearances.

But the differences between the sexes are not the only things that must be taken into account in the rearing of children. The Bible does not usually differentiate when it teaches the Christian virtues and way of life; because men and women are more alike than they are different.

If there is a single word that is descriptive of masculinity, it is this: men are workers. They are goal-oriented; and they are frustrated if they cannot see progress in their work. They are willing to work hard and make sacrifices if they can only achieve their goals. They tend to be easily bored with repetitive tasks that give them no sense of accomplishment.

Women, on the other hand, are nurturers. They care about needs, rather than goals. The endless round of unexciting tasks involved in being a homemaker, especially the care of young children, may wear her out; but they do not drive her crazy, as they would a man. She nurtures a vegetable garden, or a flower bed, or a tree just as truly as she does a child or an animal. A man would rather till and fence a garden plot, which gives him a sense of achievement; and then leave the daily care (other than the heavy work) to her.  This is not selfishness on his part, or a weak slavishness on hers: it is just the way we were made to be; complementary members of a family.  Each is made according to a master plan, by which he or she provides the strengths that the other lacks, so that each finds completeness in the other.

This is not to say that men are incapable of nurture, or that women never work with a goal in mind; only that there are these opposite tendencies which develop their personalities – naturally and predictably – in different directions.

The man who is conspicuously masculine and the woman who manifests a natural femininity will not only be appealing to others of both sexes; but they will be well able to fulfill their biblical, traditional sex roles, and find fulfillment in them.

Howard Douglas King

March 5, 2019