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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Epistemically Out-of-Touch

The day after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I posted an article asking the question,

Why Should Atheists Care About Japan?

My contention is that one's philosophical worldview must be able to engage and explain the real world with reason and coherence. So, when a major disaster happens like what happened in Japan, according to the values of atheistic philosophy, why should they care?

Atheists are evangelists of sorts. Evolution is their religion. They insist they have the correct understanding of how life came to be on the earth. A person like me, the biblical creationist, is considered an ignoramus for rejecting reality. According to the atheist, humanity is a product of time and chance, and we live in a materialistic world subject to raw, uncaring natural forces.

But if their views of the world are correct, as I noted in my first article, is not a tsunami another extinction event that shapes the course of the evolutionary river every now and then? According to the atheist view of earth's history, those events are good things. I mean, a comet wiping out the dinosaurs was good for us, right?

As I predicted, I had a handful of atheists wander onto the blog and leave their comments. However, none of them, and I mean none of them, even attempted to deal with the question I raised. One atheist was even inclined to write up a post, but he's dishonest, refusing to post my challenge in his combox. Only one commenter of mine flat out admitted the obvious. He/she didn't care and didn't feel a need to.

The others who did leave comments tried to offer pragmatic explanations. Such things as other animals show altruistic behavior, so we will too as humans. But when it boiled down to specifics, no body could say why any one should care. Just that we do and we don't need any God to justify our compassion.

Honestly, if you reject the divine and believe evolution made all there is, what is the point with me caring for our fellow man except made when doing so selfishly benefits me.

Take a look at this video: Evolution Made Us All. It's just over two minutes.

It plays like a parody, right? But it was made to be a serious representation of evolutionary philosophy. All things wise and wonderful, all things big and small, from Mother Theresa to lamprey eels, Osama bin Laden and tyrannosaurus rex, evolution made them all. Amazing. Mother Theresa is no different really than a lamprey eel when all things are considered. And those atheists who insist on showing compassion when natural disaster strikes want me to take them seriously?

What about atheist philosophers and scientists? They, too, don't really offer any justification for caring about Japan, either.

For example, Dr. Anthony Cashmore, UPenn biology professor, argues any genuine choice or volition is an illusion and mankind is nothing more than a bag of chemicals. Why do bags of chemicals need to help other bags of chemicals? I take it then, that any altruistic motive to help other humans are also an illusion?

Or how about Cornell professor, Dr. William Provine, who wrote in a 1994 edition of Origin Science ,

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.

And let us not forget the current messianic prophet of atheism, Dr. Richard Dawkins, who famously wrote in the November, 1995 edition of Scientific American,

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

Atheists may not like it, but these are the mouth pieces of their beliefs, and nothing they say offers any reason why any human ought to act out of self sacrifice for other humans.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blogging on Eternal Security #3

My third post on the doctrine of eternal security went live yesterday afternoon.

Once Saved, Always Saved?

The commenters have been stellar. Lot's of good questions and interaction with the previous two articles. I plan to do some follow up here after the series ends.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicago Basement

Dontcha wish your basement could be this cool.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Shepherd's Conference 2011

I haven't had the time to write up a report about the 2011 Shepherd's Conference and now that I have a moment, I thought I would do so before it got too far into the past. The sessions and the seminars are now available for download.

I only had the opportunity to go on Wednesday. I had a tremendous time visiting with old friends, including an outstanding fellow named Steve Lamm, who was originally a reader of my blog and has become a good friend the last few years. He pastors Grace Church in Santee, California. But I also made new friends like Squirrel, Gene Clyatt. He has a report up at his blog that supplements this one (with pictures and everything!).

The real highlight for me was hanging out with Gene on that Saturday. I fixed him my world famous buttermilk pancakes and then we drove over to Simi Valley to visit the newly renovated Ronald Reagan Library, where we walked around waxing all nostalgic for the 80s and getting misty-eyed at the funeral portion of the tour. Well worth the trip if you ever come out my way.

Later in the day we dined upon the delicacies of Chic-Fil-A, and then swung by Grace to You where I work to give Gene a grand tour.

The even bigger highlight (as if Squirrel wasn't enough already), was going down to Bellflower (South LA) to see James White speak on doing debate to the glory of God. We drove by Gene's hotel and picked up his roommate, Tony Bartolucci, who was an absolute gem of a chap and must do something about his seizure inducing website. He pastors in New York state and I understand, because I haven't heard him yet, that he is a fine preacher, too.

BTW, the James White lecture is on-line for those interested.

Along with meeting up with James, I was also privileged to meet a wonderkid by the name of Lane Chapman. I sort of knew who he was because he has video interviewed Phil in the past. We had a lively conversation with each other on how George Lucas has ruined his Star Wars franchise ... among other things

After James spoke, we went to the Olive Garden for a super-late dinner. The fellowship was great. In fact, it had that family reunion feel, even though I met a lot of the folks for the first time that evening. What a testimony to the Body of Christ. (And I am happy I chose to wear long pants that day seeing how James razzed Gene and Tony to no end about their shorts).

I hope to see these guys again next year, The Good Lord Willing.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Camping Out

Maybe it's just me, but I figure it's a good rule of thumb that if you drive around in a van covered in Bible verses and apocalyptic pronouncements, you're pretty much a crackpot.

I remember first hearing Harold Camping back in 1993 when he was routinely interviewed on a local, LA talk radio show. The two guys who did the interviews thought him more of a circus freak rather than a guy with a prophetic message.

At that time, Camping was promoting his 1994? book in which he predicted that Jesus would come back in September of that year. Obviously he was wrong; so he recalculated, began to teach that Jesus was finished with the Church, made himself the "official" radio pastor for his gang of spiritual miscreants who followed him, and then predicted Jesus will return on May 21st, 2011. That's in a couple of months.

Part of me hopes he's right, but I doubt it.

All of that to say I was directed to an article providing a little bit of historical background from where Camping came from as a lowly Sunday School teacher to a world renown radio heretic,

Harold Camping and the Untold Story

The author seems to suggest that Camping's picking of May for Christ's Judgment upon the Church and the World had to do with a falling out he had with his home Church that gave him the left boot of disfellowship in May of 1988. It's an interesting read, to say the least.

One footnote,

I had a bit of a back and forth in the comments with the author, who pastors a Reformed Church in Washington state. I pointed out to him that Camping utilizes the same hermeneutics he does as a Reformed pastor when interpreting biblical prophecy.

The pastor is convinced Camping is promoting nothing more than his brand of Scofieldian Dispensationalism. I mean, certainly no Reformed Covenant Theology loving amillennialist would even think to predict Jesus's Return. Reformed folks would never make sensationalistic prediction about Jesus returning. That's a Hal Lindsey sort of thing.

The pastor's assertion is problematic, because anyone who knows anything about Camping knows he came out of a Reformed background, and is a staunch amillennialist. I can recall him renouncing Dispensationalism when he was interviewed on that LA radio show.

I pointed out to the pastor that if one were to consider Camping's hermeneutic, it is drawn from the same typological, Reformed Augustinianism that fuels the typical amillennial and postmillennial eschatology. It was certainly evident when Camping debated James White a year or more ago on the Iron Sharpens Iron program.

He claims Camping talks about the rapture, the end of the Church age, and the Great Tribulation, themes he says are only found among Dispensationalists. But just checking my Reformed systematic theologies I have, like Reymond and Berkhof for example, all of them believe in the rapture, the end of the Church age, and the Great Tribulation. They understand these concepts differently in their schemes than what is articulated by Dispensationalists.

Now. Just so I am clear. I am not saying all my Reformed brethren are on the brink everyday of becoming a nut like Camping because of their hermeneutic. I am just saying a heavy emphasis on spiritualizing texts lends itself easily to his way of thinking. And that can be found among Reformed folks just as it is among Dispensationalism.

And, let us remind our Reformed friends of a post I did a number of months ago:

What Dispensationalists Believe
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Blogging on Eternal Security #2

After much toil and agony, my second article on eternal security went live to day on the GTY blog.

The subject is on regeneration and its affect upon our assurance,

How Firm A Foundation

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Panyee FC

All we need to do is change the setting of the story from Thailand to a disadvantaged neighborhood in East LA, get Oprah Winfrey's production company involved, and I do believe we have the makings of the next George Lopez direct to DVD.


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Friday, March 18, 2011

Interesting Stuff on the Web

I am still in the process of compiling and editing my GTY blog articles on eternal security, but I have had the occasional moment to surf around the Internet, and I have come across some interesting stuff.

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On Monday, some one sent me a picture of this map:











All those bright colors certainly look ominous.

The claim is that when the nuclear reactor in Japan melts down, it will spew a massive, radioactive green cloud into the air, which will be carried by the winds across the vast Pacific ocean to the golden shores of California where it will dump 750 rads of radiation on our populace thus turning us all into super, mutant X-men; or maybe unleash an army of gigantic, human-sized crabs with razor claws on downtown Santa Monica.

I of course welcome either scenario, but the tone of alarming panic begged people to start scarfing down potassium-iodide tablets. And can you believe it!? The person sending this email just so happens to have some of those tablets he could sell you.

Anyhow, come to find out the map is a hoax.

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But, in spite of the fake map, people still want to believe a radioactive cloud of death is heading our way. So much so that even our pudgy, out-of-shape Surgeon General said it would be a good idea to get potassium-iodide tablets.

One fellow, however, seems to have a more reasonable, scientific perspective to the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.

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But the cold-hearted progressives at SLATE say we shouldn't send any financial aid to Japan because they're like really rich and don't need our money. In fact, I have read many opinions comparing our U.S. government response to the Katrina disaster with how Japan's government is handling this earthquake/tsunami disaster and of course Japan is being held up as the perfect model. Nothing like that bumbling, joke of a government under G.W. Bush. But in reality, no government can be depended upon to be the savior of the people.

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a couple of non-Japanese related items:

Grant Horner, English professor at Master's College, did an interview with CT explaining how the themes of many of our modern movies revolve around man's fall and our redemption. He has written a book on the subject.

It's All About the Fall

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I wish my car was this easy to fix.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blogging on Eternal Security

I have been given the opportunity to blog some articles over at the GTY blog. The subject is on eternal security. I have maybe four posts total coming on the subject, with a fifth one dealing with how to read problem passages on apostasy.

Today, the first post went live,

Is Eternal Life Always Eternal?

I still have to edit the last two main posts to conform to GTY standards. Which is to say, I go through a gauntlet like process to make my writing coherent for normal people. That means blogging here will be at a minimum. I'll probably be postponing my third installment on apologetics, as well as my continuing series on Daniel.

Please feel free to pop over to GTY, register an account (yes, I know), and leave a comment.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

More on Japan

The tragedy in Japan continues to escalate. More and more horrific images and videos of the tsunami continue to come on line. Without duplicating a lot of what many news services have posted and what can be found on Youtube, here are some of the more amazing ones I have come across over the weekend.

Lane Chaplin twittered this first person account of the tsunami. The siren in the background makes the video even the more chilling.

Of course, the first video I saw from Foxnews was absolutely breathtaking. (I apologize for the ridiculously inappropriate commercials that precede it).

And these pictures from Boston.com Here and Here and these from the Daily Mail.

When you look at these images, it puts the 1889 flood of Jamestown, PA, in a better perspective.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Should Atheists Care About Japan?

When I arrived at work this morning, I learned of the massive 8.9 earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan. The quake produced tsunamis which devastated most of the coastal areas. The video images are horrific. Not even a Roland Emmerich film could capture such terrifying disaster.

I saw some video footage shot from a helicopter as it flew over a gigantic wave sweeping across the rural countryside of Japan knocking down houses, barns, what looked to be chicken coops, and swirling them all together in a heaving wall of destruction. What was entirely bone chilling with this footage was that I could see cars, obviously with people in them, attempting to escape this onslaught of liquid debris. From the vantage point of the helicopter, one could see the tsunami rolling around them to block what appears to be the only escape route. The people in the cars don't see their way being blocked, and once they realize they can't go that way, they quickly turn down a road that I can see leads only to the dead end of a plowed field where the water is headed. The water eventually overtakes them and they get swept up in the supersurge. I am sure as the days unfold over the next week, we'll see even more, similar footage of this earthquake.

It is times like this, however, that cause me to reflect upon the meaning of life. Over the next few weeks, philosophical pundits, religious gurus, humanitarians, and a whole host of bloggers, will offer up their feelings and opinions as to what they think we should "feel" about the untold loss of life and property destruction. If Larry King was still doing a show, he'd have Deeppocks Chopra, some lesbian nun, Max Lucado, a rabbi, an iman, and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, all come on and talk about where God was during the Japanese earthquake.

These certainly are the events that puts the mettle of our chosen philosophical worldview to the test. It makes me wonder: what do atheists think when massive, soul-shaking disaster reminds us how helpless and frail our lives truly are and how fast they can end? In fact, at the risk of sounding callus, why do atheist even really care?

Oh yes. I know they do. There is genuine emotion being expressed by atheists over the scenes of people being swept out to sea only to be lost forever. I don't discount that at all. In fact, I imagine there are atheist humanitarian groups, with red Darwin fishes on the sides of vans, mobilizing this moment, setting aside their vacation time to spend two weeks in Japan to help the citizens who have suffered such loss. But, why? Where is the "ought" in their worldview?

The pure, anti-supernatural, materialism that shapes their view of the world and the history of humanity offers no true reason to invest such time and energy. Except maybe doing so for their own, altruistic purposes. I reckon it makes them feel good, or something; or perhaps, they think their efforts benefits the future for humanity, or international, cultural relations at some point down the road.

But honestly, according to an atheistic worldview, an earthquake, an event that has happened millions of times over billions of years, created a tsunami that essentially killed off genetic producing biological meme machines. That's all. Should Richard Dawkins shed any tears over this? If anything, the radical environmentalists should be happy, because big natural disasters thin the herd as it were. A few thousand less mouths to feed, a few thousand less carbon producing, oil using polluters messing up the planet.

But...

The fact that atheists who are reading this are hating me right now and their anger will be expressed through the comments some of them may possibly leave under this post, demonstrates the profundity of the disconnect between what they preach and what they practice.

Atheists "preach" to me constantly from their blogs and their "science" websites, that mankind is merely the chance product of evolution. A genetic organism ran by the "software" of chemical reactions that have been acquired from traits passed along to sustain the survival of our species on a harsh planet throughout our long, brutal, bloody path to becoming homo sapiens.

Yet, atheists don't practice what they preach. In a manner of speaking, they are sort of hypocritical. In spite of this underlying philosophy about humanity, when major tragedy occurs, we are to ignore such beliefs, become grieved over the profound sense of human lives lost to the point we are moved to act in compassion. But why should I if this is just the history of evolution taking its course as it has done millions of times before and allegedly will do millions of times again until our sun burns out and the earth dies?

Such hypocrisy does two good things: Lives are at least saved and materialistic atheism is debunked as a legitimate way to live life.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Crying Game

Busy this week with Shepherd's Conference, so blogging will be sparse. Saturday I am looking forward to cooking breakfast for Squirrel and his friend.

In the meantime, here are some parents in serious need of Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart.


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Monday, March 07, 2011

Political Conservatives Are Not Theologians

Jason over at Triablogue highlighted James White's latest Dividing Line from this past Thursday, 3/3. It is worth your time downloading and hearing.

James interacts with a book called A Deadly Misunderstanding written by Ambassador Mark Siljander. The book is presented as offering a bridge between Christian and Muslim differences. The primary way Siljander does this is by dummying down the theological distinctions that separate Islam and Christianity. Particular the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

However, Another interesting fact James draws attention to is Ergun Caner's endorsement of the book and Siljander's approach to bridge building. This endorsement came before his exposure as a fraud and when he was being held up as a convert from Islamic terrorism. Such a naive endorsement of this guy's work just demonstrates further the bankruptcy of Caner's overall ministry.

But, in spite of those things, what I took away from this podcast is the clear and undeniable reality that political conservatism is no friend to biblical Christianity. Siljander was elected as a Republican in Michigan running as part of the Moral Majority crowd during the early 80s. The Moral Majority, if you remember, was spearheaded by Jerry Falwell, pastor and president of Liberty University who hired (irony alert) Ergun Caner to be the president of their apologetics school.

Now just so I am clear: I understand that, for the most part, Republican candidates share my values when it comes to the secular, political arena, and the good bulk of them are certainly not prone to hoist upon the public lunatic ideology like "green" legislation and other laws driven by a leftist, conspiratorial worldview. However, I am reminded once again to keep Red-State conservative politics and our biblical faith in the proper perspective.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Interesting Stuff on the Web

My goal is not to ape the otherwise wonderful visit to Dan's place to see his weekly Hither and Thither. No. Sometimes I find interesting things I would like to share, but they don't necessarily warrant their own post.

So.

In order to maximize blog space and my reader's time, when I find such items, I plan to bunch them all together in one, nice little stop for your convenience. It may not be weekly, at least I don't intend for this to be weekly. I'll have to find some catchy title to call the series.

Any how...

Rob Gagnon is something of an enigma. He's a NT prof. at a liberal seminary, as well as an ordained elder in a liberal denomination (PCUSA). However, he has some of the best apologetic material available addressing biblical sexuality, homosexuality, and the so-called gay "evangelical" apologists who revise the Bible to make it teach that God approves of homosexuality. His book on the subject, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, is an engaging read, extremely detailed and exegetical, in spite of having to wade through a lot of his higher critical views of the Scripture.

I am surprised he hasn't been thrown out and defrocked from his denomination. When you read his interactions with opponents, they are effeminate looking men wearing sweaters and short-haired women dressed in pastel colored clerical garb. The kind of folks who put up a sweet, tolerant facade and attempt to accommodate every crackpot worldview imaginable, but seethe with rage as soon as they're challenged with the truth.

Anyways, all of that to say that someone over at CNN made the mistake of letting Rob Gagnon write an opinion piece for their website in response to some wack-a-doodle woman who says the Bible just ain't clear on the subject of homosexuality for people to be so dogmatic.

My Take: The Bible Really Does Condemn Homosexuality

Not much good comes out of Harvard these days, but in this video, historian Niall Ferguson educates the young, multi-cultured, "all societies are the same," progressives as to the reality of Obama's amateur dealings with world affairs, especially the situation in Egypt and the potential disaster that looms on the horizon if the Muslim Brotherhood gets power. Remember, the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Sadat for making peace with Israel and many of the members helped to start Al-Qaeda.

Niall Ferguson on Obama's Foreign Policy

I consider myself to be a book lover. Bibliophile is the more technical term. I haven't embraced the digital library movement as of yet, except to purchase Logos. There is something about walking into a room filled with books on shelves. It's as close as I come to having a charismatic experience.

One of my tasks over the years is to gather a good library of commentaries. Commentaries can be expensive, so I don't just want any old commentary. I want something worth my investment of time and money in my collection, so I tend to search for recommendation lists to help narrow my field to those choice works.

Because I am so picky, I was thankful I found this outstanding website,

Best Commentaries

I am fairly certain I saw this linked on some blog I frequent, so I imagine many readers may already be familiar with it. They list all the available commentaries and attempt to rank them according to a system. Reviews of individual works are also available, as well as links to recommended lists and they track forthcoming works. It is not due out for a few years, but I am looking forward to Dr. William Barrick's work on Genesis.

Those interested in a little historical background to the background of presuppositional apologetics may enjoy listening to this discussion with Scott Oliphint on the Clark/ Van Til controversy. A bit heady as to some terminology, but a good overview to the debate between these two men.

The Clark/Van Til Controversy

In cased you missed seeing this twittered by Phil, Werner Herzog's documentary about the late Gene Scott is available online.

God's Angry Man

I stumbled across a Gene Scott television program shortly after I first arrived in LA to go to school. It was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen. He sat upon an enormous, leather chair on a lighted theater stage. Next to him was a huge white board with Greek words and Bible verses scrawled across it. Scott wore a cowboy hat and his eyes were covered with mirrored sun glasses. I hadn't watched a minute when all of the sudden he stops what he is talking about, says something like, "The people at the switchboard are telling me the donations have slowed down. I can't do this stuff for free. I won't continue until I start seeing $1,000 dollar donations." The screen fades to black, and then what appears to be a homemade video of Scott riding horses in the mountains with some teenage girl walking along side him comes up and plays for the rest of the time. I just sat there perplexed and thought, "Well, I am in LA."

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Gleanings from Daniel [20]

sabbathyearDaniel’s Seventy Sevens: The Sabbatical Year (Daniel 9:24)

Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy is really an answer to Daniel's prayer earlier in the chapter, when he confessed Israel's sin to God and asked for Israel to be restored to their land. In response, God does answer, and the answer He provides reveals how He will accomplish this answer to Daniel.

I noted in the previous posts how this answer revealed in the 70 weeks prophecy, has resulted in a variety of interpretations pertaining to eschatology. Those interpretations are fueled by specific presuppositions regarding one's hermeneutic - the principles we use to study the Bible. These "rules" of hermeneutics as applied to prophecy distinguishes amillennialism, postmillennialism, and the premillennial perspective.

Those who adhere to either amillennialism or postmillennialism believe we must employ what is called a historical protestant hermeneutic when we interpret the Bible, and this hermeneutic has an impact upon how one understands biblical prophecy or eschatological passages. This particular approach is also known as an apostolic hermeneutic, historic-redemptive hermeneutic, or even a Christological hermeneutic. Kim Riddlebarger, who has written a popular defense of amillennialism, points to three major presuppositions used when using the apostolic hermeneutic to interpret biblical prophecy.

1) The NT provides an over riding explanation of the OT. In other words, the NT must be utilized to interpret to OT. Sometimes the NT interpretation spiritualized the OT so that it is understood in the non-literal sense.
2) OT prophets spoke of the glories of the coming Messianic age from the pre-Messianic age. This means that when OT writers spoke of Israel, the Temple, David's throne, the Kingdom of God, the NT reinterprets all those images to apply to Christ and His Church. The OT images, as real as they may have been, are really types and shadows found in the reality of Christ.
3) Use of the analogy of faith. Basically, this principle states unclear text will be interpreted in light of clear texts. The NT is the clearest revelation we have, so it will illuminate cloudy, OT texts.

Riddlebarger then concludes how his amillennial, classic Reformed view is truly the real, literal interpretative approach because it follows in the literal sense of how the NT writers interpreted the OT prophetic scriptures.

The main problem with this Reformed hermeneutic, however, is that it doesn't take seriously the original revelation it reinterprets. What does the 70 weeks mean to the prophet Daniel at the moment Gabriel is revealing them to him? What does the prophecy mean to the audience receiving the message? Moreover, there isn't really a wholesale re-interpretation of biblical prophecy by NT writers, especially to make it all talk about Jesus. There may be additional, previously unknown application, but the prophecy is either fulfilled by Christ's first coming, partially fulfilled by Christ's first coming with the remainder awaiting fulfillment at His Second Coming, or it awaits completion of the eschatological, latter-days.

When we come to any OT prophecy we need to first interpret its meaning within its own historical context before looking way outside the text to find apparent, additional understandings of the text. We look at Daniel's prophecy in its original context, and then go out to see how the NT may provide additional insight. So, when we look at Daniel's 70 weeks, let us first determine what if means here as we consider God's answer He gave Daniel through the angel.

I noted last time that the key to God's answer to Daniel is found in the opening statement: 70 weeks are determined

The 70 weeks has reference to the 70 years Israel has been in captivity, and the reason why they were in captivity in the first place.

The Sabbatical Year

Israel’s captivity has to do with the sabbatical year. Leviticus 25:2-5 introduces this concept:

2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:`When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD.
3 `Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;
4 `but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.
5 `What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.

According to Leviticus, after the people of Israel enter the promised land, every 7th year was to be a sabbatical for the land. It was to lay unploughed. If the people failed to obey this command, God promised to bring desolation to their land. Leviticus 26:32-35 states,

32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.
33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.
34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies' land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest-- for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

It is when the people are in captivity that the land will enjoy its sabbaths. Second Chronicles 36:20-21 states clearly this was fulfilled with Israel’s 70 years in captivity.

20 And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,
21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

The reason Israel went into captivity for 70 years is because Israel failed to obey God and skipped the sabbatical year 70 times during that 800 years since coming into the land in 1405 B.C. So 490 years – over half the time they had been in the land – Israel violated Leviticus 25:2-5. It wasn’t all in a row, but obviously spaced out over that 800 year period that accumulated in missing the sabbatical year for the land 70 times. The angel Gabriel is telling Daniel that another 70 units of 7 years has been decreed for Daniel’s people Israel and Jerusalem, or 490 years.

When Do They Start? Gabriel tells Daniel to know and understand. The idea is one of gaining direct insight. In other words, Daniel is about to learn when the 70 weeks are to begin.

Specifically, they begin when there is a command to rebuild Jerusalem. There are three possible dates appealed to by commentators.

1) The Decree of Cyrus for Israel to return to the land in 538 B.C. This view is problematic, because it doesn’t state for the people to rebuild Jerusalem; plus, it plays havoc on calculating the 490 years.

2) The Decree of Artaxerxes ca. 458 B.C. This decree is noted in Ezra 7:11-26. If we take that date as the starting point, the first 483 years of the seventy sevens takes us to roughly 26 A.D. with Christ’s baptism by John. That could be what the angel meant about the coming Messiah in 9:25. Again, this particular decree doesn’t mention anything about rebuilding Jerusalem, just the temple.

3) The Decree of Artaxerxes ca. 444 B.C. This is noted in Nehemiah 2:5-8. In this chapter, Nehemiah states he has letters from the king (Artaxerxes) to rebuild Jerusalem, not just the temple. If this date is taken, the first 483 years of the seventy sevens end with the last week of Christ’s ministry in the spring of 33 A.D. That would seem to fulfill perfectly the angel’s comment of how the Messiah will be “cut off.” This is the date I personally take, because I believe it fulfills the prophetic parameters set by the seventy sevens.

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