Thursday, March 15, 2012

God's purposes, prophetic word and plans

 Daniel 9:24 "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

Yesterday we looked at the Bible's most amazing prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.  These four verses provide the architecture for understanding how the God of the Bible brings forth His eternal purposes, through His prophetic word to yield success in the plans He executes here on earth.  Today I want us to consider those three main thoughts: God's purposes, prophetic word and plans.

God's purposes are what He declares to be the case in Eternity
In the verse above God makes a statement pertaining to the destiny of the people of Israel and their city - Jerusalem.  The purpose of the Bible's most incredible prophecy is set in six Eternal purposes God decreed in Eternity.  These purposes are purposes that will be accomplished, despite opposition from unbelieving man and Satan himself.  Note how the following six purposes are in two sets of three, wherein each set corresponds to what God decreed to be fulfilled in Christ's first coming and what will be accomplished in His second coming:

God's Purposes to be fulfilled in 1st coming      God's purposes to be fulfilled in second coming
1. To finish the transgression                            1. To bring in everlasting righteousness
2. To make an end of sin                                   2. To seal up vision and prophecy
3. To make atonement for iniquity                     3. To anoint the Most Holy Place

These six purposes, and the two events to which they refer, constitute God's Eternal purposes. 

God's prophetic word is what brings the Eternal purposes here to earth
Daniel writes that "seventy weeks" have been determined for the the city of Jerusalem and the people of Israel.  When he says weeks, He is referring to a prophetic week.  A prophetic week is seven years.  Each year is composed of 360 days (since the Jewish people used a Lunar Calendar, unlike our calendar of 365 days).  Thus the prophetic word is predicting a 490 year (70 week) period of time that God is setting aside to accomplish His purposes for His people, and ultimately the people of planet Earth.

As you go down through the prophecy, this time period is divided up into three portions, with emphasis upon three main predictions:
1. The first seven week period (49 years) begins with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and ends with its completion.  We know from history (March 14, 445 b.c) and scripture (Nehemiah 2, decree by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah) when this began.  We also know from history (396 b.c) and scripture (the end of the Old Testament canon in Malachi) when the 49 years were complete.

2. The second set of 62 weeks (434 years) began from the completion of the city in 396 b.c up until the week Jesus was crucified in April of 32 A.D.  According to Daniel 9:25-26a, Messiah would be "cut off", thus bring the prophetic word to fulfillment.

3. The third set is 1 week (seven year period of time).  This has yet to occur and is spoken of in Daniel 9:26b-27.  The Anti-Christ and the final human/Satanic rebellion is predicted.  Though the prophetic word predicts rebellion, the Anti-Christ and judgment, we must recall that God's purposes, not the whims of Satan or man, determine which set of plans will conclude history.

God's plans are the success of His eternal purposes predicted by the prophetic word
When we read the entirety of Daniel 9:24-27, we may come away discouraged, since it seems to end on a bad note - with the anti-Christ, judgment and rebellion being predicted for the final week (Daniel's 70th week, final seven years of history).  However God's purposes for that time (compare above) will set the stage for the success of God's plan - namely Christ's return and conquering of Satan, the unbelieving world and judgment of the nations. 

I sometimes tell people to focus on two words: "although" and "yet".  Although the Anti-Christ, rebellion and judgment are indeed predicted, "yet" Christ's return, defeat of the enemy and bringing in of everlasting righteousness will be the final outcome.  The plans of God cannot be thwarted, since He is Sovereign. (Job 42:2; Ecclesiastes 3:15; Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:33-36)  Indeed, God does use means such as human decisions and actions, both good and bad, to accomplish His ends. (Judas' betrayal, the Anti-Christ's rebellion, the bulk of humanity's unbelief in the final days) 

God's purposes and plans will be accomplished, in both your life and the world at large, thus be familiar with His prophetic word
However, as long as we focus ourselves on God's purposes and plans, we will understand why it is we can gain much hope in what outcomes God can bring for both the world's future and our own.  Jeremiah 29:11 states: "I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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