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Wednesday: The Messiah “Cut Off” — 19 Comments

  1. 457BC, 27AD, 33AD, 1798AD, 1844, 2300 days, 70 weeks, 69 weeks and so on. There is a lot of maths involved in this week's lesson, and a lot of symbolism from the sanctuary service, and a lot of historical events. And I am pretty sure that a lot of Seventh-day Adventists have not done the maths.

    When I was a maths teacher, for a while I taught what was know colloquially as "Vege-maths". It was a course for primary teachers to give them a bit of an insight into maths beyond what was taught in primary schools so that they knew why they were teaching it. For those of us who were mathematicians, it was dead easy, but some of the students found it challenging.

    I remember one particular student coming to my office in tears because she could not do some of the maths. "How can I teach maths when I cannot understand it?" I knew this student very well. She had empathy for kids who did not understand things and was so encouraging for them. I had seen her in action. I reminded her of this skill. I told her that she was such a successful teacher because she knew how kids felt when they could not understand things. Her struggles made her a better teacher. (Much better than some of us intellectual mathematicians who think we were superior because we know it all.)

    Maths may be useful and even exciting but knowledge without empathy is like life without air.

    • Knowledge without empathy is arrogance and is not attractive. Empathy without knowledge is ... what? Maybe an attitude that anything goes as long as everyone is happy? I once filled out a recommendation form for a student who had taken some mathematics classes from me. She was going to be an elementary school teacher. The form was all about appearance and presentation, with nothing about the student's knowledge of the subject. We see some unfortunate side effects of this in our education system in the US. I am reminded of Jesus' comment to the Samaritan woman that people will worship God in spirit and in truth. We need both to truly worship God. It seems to be far easier for people to have the knowledge without the empathy. And sometimes the "knowledge" we have is not even correct. Pray for humility and empathy as well as knowledge.

      • It's a matter of perspective, Joe. When I was a teacher, I often came against situations where I had to help a student with a difficult question; and no; I did not know the answer. I would be upfront and tell the student that I did not know the answer, but that we could work together on it. Sometimes as we worked through the problem we would take a wrong turn and I would have to back-track and try something else. That technique turned out to be a winner because students saw me make mistakes and recover from them. We worked together for a solution.

        In our spiritual lives, if we work together, ministry, academics, congregation members, we would probably achieve a better understanding than we currently have. We need to remove the barriers against working together.

    • As a 14-year-old, who was about to be baptised, I had no understanding of how these mathematical calculations worked. The 1844 teaching is perhaps not so simple that even a child can understand it…

  2. Seventh-day Adventists place a lot of importance on 1844. This date is not a salvation issue. If I die before the second coming, my character is sealed and I am judged by it. If I am alive at the second coming, my character is sealed at the close of probation. Rev 22:11

    I believe the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel nine is true because it accurately predicts Christ's death from a starting date of BC 457. But we make the assumption of the 2300 days to start at the same date. (There was no chapter differentiation when Daniel recorded his message.) Daniel 9:24-27 says nothing about 2300 days. To me, Daniel 8 is more connected to Daniel 12 than to Daniel 9.

    • Hi, Darryl. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am intrigued by your declaration that, in your view, the 1844 date is "not a salvation issue." I'd like to go a little deeper into the reason you gave for this -- that the close of our personal probation will seal our character, and we shall be judged by that.

      It seems to me that, if it were that simple, then our hope of salvation would hinge on living a good life and becoming as good a person as possible, by God's grace of course. I also think that, at best, none of us could ever hope to become good enough to meet the standard of the judgment -- perfect conformity to God's law.

      As I see it, Jesus must be our only righteousness, and our salvation will depend solely on our saving faith in Him. This means that the Searcher of Hearts may take absolutely anything into account in evaluating this, possibly including things that we "could have sworn" were not salvation issues. That is, I don't think it's for us to tell Him what will matter.

      The Seventh-day Adventist Church began with a virtual handful of Adventists, disappointed in 1844, who could not deny the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the earlier Advent Movement. These precious souls earnestly and prayerfully sought the answer to their dilemma. To their wondering eyes, the Scriptures opened up and revealed an entire system of truth.

      Among other things, they found that their mistaken proclamation that Jesus would return in 1844, empowered by the Holy Spirit, had effectively delivered the 1st angel's message to the world. The judgment had been widely announced right on time! Jesus had indeed come in the clouds on the date in question, not to this world, but to the Ancient of Days (see Daniel 7:13), there to commence His final work prior to His soon return to Earth.

      One of these disappointed but now enlightened Adventists was Ellen Harmon White, whose writings have immensely blessed me personally. It would take a lot more than someone's opinion, about how the various parts of the Book of Daniel relate to each other, to lead me to disregard that history and what I consider to be the prophetic calling of Sister White, both of which would be false and meaningless without the 1844 date.

      In summary, if Jesus wants me to know what He is doing now, and when He began, then it's going to matter a very great deal to me as well.

      Have a blessed day!

      • Hello. I've always wondered why and how people believed that Jesus would return in 1844 to begin with (I understand Adventists were not the only group who did this).

        I am not asking about how they arrived at that year, and, sure, hindsight is 20/20 and all that ... however ... it isn't as if the verse that says "no one knows the time nor the hour" was hidden, redacted, or not translated properly.

        Even to the present day, people still want to prophesy the end time. I remember a radio host who resigned in the early 2010s after his prediction failed twice.

        Was it zealousness, or life was just hard in 1830's and 1840's that people were searching for answers and hope?

        • Hi, Jess. I appreciate your observations. I think you are right about hindsight. My understanding is that, when those early Adventists looked at Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, they understood this to have been a true statement at the time when Jesus said it. They did not understand it to mean that no one would ever know, in advance, when Jesus would return. Given the evidence they thought they had, for the date of His 2nd advent, this seems to me to have been a rather plausible explanation. In other words, they were not deliberately contradicting Jesus, nor cherry-picking some Scriptures while ignoring others.

          Once October 22, 1844 had passed, Ellen Harmon White, who was now blessed with supernatural visions, steadfastly opposed any further date setting, and that is the Seventh-day Adventist position today.

          As for what motivated those people, I believe that the Great Disappointment tested their sincerity, and most didn't fare so well. However, there were some who simply loved Jesus, hated sin, and wanted to see His face! For these best and noblest of early Adventists, the disappointment was heart-breaking, but it didn't shake their faith.

  3. Reading the Lesson carefully, we can understand this, Daniel's prophecy. The timeline is ideally disclosed, and the language may be figurative, but the facts fit the purpose. While facing this rationality, will we take this and be open to learning more about other amazing things God is willing to disclose to those who believe? The main point of this prophecy is Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for His creatures. This much-before-predicted fact changed our history forever!

  4. Doesn’t the date of Jesus’s birth inform which decree (“ Though various decrees had been passed regarding Jerusalem…”) we use to establish the beginning of this prophecy? I ask because history shows us that Herod died in 4 B.C. which—if we accept a literal chronology of the wise men story in the gospel—-would mean that Jesus would have to have been born in 5 or 6 BC. If I’m not mistaken, 457 BC places Jesus’s birth after Herod’s death. I’d love some clarification here. Thanks!

  5. The lesson says "if we begin at 457 BC..." Why start there? The command in Daniel doesn't state whether this was a command from heaven or from an earthly king. Assumptions seem to rule the day here. Why not start with a command from both God and a king? Isa. 44:28-45:1,13 "When I say of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, he will certainly do as I say. He will command, 'Rebuild Jerusalem' he will say, 'Restore the temple.' This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower...I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people--without seeking a reward! I, the LORD of Heaven's Armies, have spoken." NLT No ambiguity, no confusion here. Just a straightforward command from Cyrus through God. The only trouble is that it has the wrong date. It's around 538-537 BC (not 457 BC) and sure creates havoc with our chronology and our math. Trouble with Artaxerxes date is there is no real command to build, rather, just keep on doing what you have already have been doing. Isn't it time to do some rethinking here??

  6. As I study the Scriptures, my spiritual eyes are usually attracted to the ‘colors of the story’; the spiritual aspect(s) which are implied through the decribed actions or events. Yes, events can be appreciated in their own right, though what makes them important to us is their spiritual context in which these events described as ‘stories’ take place – 1 Cor. 13:2.

    I am sure that all of us are intrigued by ancient history and its impact on the present. When studying Scripture, I find it essential to understand God’s spiritual history unfolding before our eyes and hearts, thanks to the Scriptures containing His Living Word. If we believe that writers of the original scripts have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down the Word of God so we can know it and learn from it, then one could safely assume that what we really learn from Scripture are spiritual lessons – 2 Tim. 3:16.

    For me, this week’s lesson is not so much an exercise in testing one’s knowledge of the timeline depicting ancient events, but more an exercise of one’s spiritual reflection to what is being revealed by the Holy Spirit. Can it be used as a platform for a debate, I suppose; though, should it be used for this purpose only? I do not think so. The spiritual messages we learn from these accounts are too vital and precious toward affirming our relationship with the Father and His Son, than to be lost by engaging in mere factual debates - they need to be appreciated, believed and accepted by faith.

    For me, the lesson's last paragraph sums up the spiritual ‘coloring’ these events provide and are given to us to ponder – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom. 5:8; John 3:16.

  7. Which decree?
    Cyrus decree ended the 70 literal years of Jeremiah's prophecy (Jeremiah 25:11-12) compare to (Daniel 9:1-2)

    The first deportation of Jews to Babylon (which included Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego) began the 70 years of captivity. Bible commentaries identify this as occurring between 607 and 605 B.C. The date of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, (thanks to Cyrus' decree) occurred sometime between 538 and 536 B.C. (606 BC to 536 BC is 70 years)

    So when do the 70 weeks of years given to post exile Jews begin?

    1. Did they begin in 536 when Cyrus released the Jews?
    What did Cyrus's decree actually say?
    (Ezra 1:1-3, 2Chron.36:22-23)
    Hmm.. seems he only mentioned

    "go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord"

    About 15 years later we have Darius' decree, (520 BC) which basically restated and confirmed Cyrus decree, (Ezra 6:1-5), the opposition to rebuilding the temple was to stop, and the building of the temple was to resume.

    "Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt and let its foundations be retained...."

    3. 457 B.C. — Artaxerxes, King of Persia, issued a decree to Ezra authorizing him to reinstitute the Temple services, appoint judges and magistrates, and teach the Law (Ezra 7:11-26) In other words, it was the first decree authorizing Jerusalem to operate as a legal city state granting authority to set up the magisterial functions of self-government (Ezra 7:25–26). Thus it was Artaxerxes’ decree issued in his seventh regnal year—Tishri 458 through Elul 457 BC—that allowed the restoration and rebuilding, not just rebuilding of the temple, but the restoration of Jerusalem as a political identity, to take place.

    Thus many (not just Adventists) begin the seventy years of seven (490 years) in 457 BC.

    And thus all the time events fit.
    Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit in AD 27 at His baptism in preparation for His life’s work (Luke 3:22; cf. Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18).

    For seven years (the last week of seven years) the covenant was preached specifically to the Jews. In the midst of that week, AD 31 Christ was "cut off" crucified, but not for His own sins, but for ours. The covenant continued to be preached extensively in Jerusalem with thousands responding, but then persecution hit with fury. AD 34 marks the rejection by the Jews as a nation, of that covenant.

  8. Okay, maybe some of you can help me a little with the dates here. I don't really have any trouble with the 70 week interpretation. It seems to fit with Jesus' ministry and death very well.

    And yet... the lesson emphasizes Jesus was baptized in AD 27 and died in AD 31 with absolute certainty. However, I have not once seen any non-Adventist use this date for Jesus' death. Most say AD 30 or AD 33.

    So what I'm wondering is if we have good evidence for AD 31, or if we are just making the facts fit. I am a little uncomfortable using numbers in an absolute way if the evidence isn't there. Does anyone know?

    • Good question, Christina.

      I'll give you my understanding of this, and maybe others will have more to say. Let's start with the consensus among Bible scholars that Jesus' public ministry lasted for 3 1/2 years. This period ended at Passover, which was in the spring of the year. Therefore, Jesus' anointing as the Messiah, by the Holy Spirit, at His baptism, must have been in the autumn.

      I understand that the question of which autumn that would have been is settled by Luke 3:1. The 15th year of Tiberius places this in AD 27, exactly 483 years from Artaxerxes' decree recorded in Ezra 7. Adding the three and a half years of Jesus' ministry brings us to the spring of AD 31.

      So, it looks pretty solid to me.

    • Also remember that the designations of B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (anno domine—-the year of our Lord) came after the fact…in 525 A.D. to be precise. Only thing is that Dionysius Exiguus got the date of Jesus’s birth wrong, which is why some historians place his death at AD 33. (I don’t know how AD 30 figures out.)

  9. I have always been confused by Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks, 7 weeks, 62 weeks, 3.5 weeks and the 2300 days.
    This week's lesson has been of great help to understand the first 70 weeks that marks the end of Jews captivity in Babylon, the second 69 weeks which marks the baptism of Christ to begin his ministry that lasted for 3.5 years, (middle of the seventh week). In my uninformed math this would be 69 weeks + 0.5 weeks = 69.5 weeks. Aren't we missing an half of a week? And if yes, what happened in that time period (the missing half of a week).

    • Good question, Muvea. The other half-week is generally considered to be the time, following Pentecost, when the gospel was powerfully preached to the Jews, and thousands repented and became Christians. Its end is likely marked by the stoning of Stephen, which a careful reading of Acts 7 would seem to indicate represented the nation's collective total rejection of the gospel of Christ.

      After that, Saul of Tarsus was converted and sent to the Gentiles.


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