We took a little detour last week in Exodus. Just a short one there’s no arguing it was scenic. I thought it might be worth giving a synopsis of it here in writing with limited commercial interruption.
In Daniel 9 it’s recorded that “seventy weeks” were decreed for the people of Israel to.. well I suppose I can sum it up Eugene Peterson style by saying that he gave them 70 weeks to get their crap together.
The term week in the Hebrew is a word called “shabuwa”. It was a unit of 7 and thus the reason the NIV (nearly inspired version) calls it “seventy sevens”. In much the same way that we use the term decade to describe a 10 year period, the Hebrew uses this term to describe a 7 year period. (In Genesis 29 Laban said to Jacob that you can have my daughter if you fulfill her week, which was 7 years)
So God decreed 70 periods of 7 years for Israel. Math students feel free to chime in. That’s 490 years. In verse 25 Daniel says the clock is to start ticking at the moment of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Then Daniel says there will be:
7 seven year periods and 62 seven year periods when the anointed one comes. That comes to a grand total of, 69 seven year periods. (one is missing. It’s a seven year period that hasn’t come to pass. It’s known among other things as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” or as we most commonly hear it called, the great tribulation)
Have I lost you yet? I hope not, because this comes together quite beautifully.
On March 14, 445 BC Artaxerxes Longimanus issues a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Exactly what Daniel said would happen. It took 49 years to rebuild the city (7 seven year periods) and from that moment on began a period of 62 seven year periods.
Humor me on this. The Jewish and Babylonian calendar had 360 days in it (unlike our 365 and 1/4).
69 years times 360 days equals? 173,880.
The decree of to rebuild Jerusalem given on March 14, 445BC.
173,880 days later to the day is April 6, 32AD. Why is that germane?
The exact day that Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. It’s recorded in Luke 19:41-42 He wept over the city and said if you only knew, if you only understood that on this day. This EXACT day anointed one would come. It would be just about a week later that the exact same group of folks who were singing Hosanna would instead be saying crucify Him.
No wonder Jesus wept. They were the very ones that should’ve understood but didn’t. They didn’t understand the times they were living in.
In 1 Chronicles 16:32 in the middle of a sort of roll call of the tribes, the men of Issachar are introduced as men who “understood the times they lived in and knew what Israel should do”. There were only 200 of them; just a handful. But they knew what they should do and the rest of their family of Issachar were under their command.
What meanest these things?
Jesus was clear that we wouldn’t know the day or the hour of His return but He did say we’d know the season. We’d know the times. He said that there would be signs; the seasons would change. When the seasons change. It feels different. It’s very distinct.
Paul told the people at Thessalonica that we wouldn’t know the date and time, but he said that if you’re not in darkness, that this day shouldn’t surprise you like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5) And then he spells out what we should do. Paul spells out exactly how we should live. He said we should be alert and awake, self controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate.
Love as a breastplate? Paul called it the breastplate of righteousness in Ephesians but he adds love here when talking about the return of Jesus.
Jesus ends His teaching on knowing the times with the judgment that is to come. In Matthew 25 He specifically spells out that what He is going to be keenly interested in on that day. He said that He is going to ask us about when we fed, clothed, took care of “the least of these brothers of mine”. It’s my guess that He’ll have more to talk about on that day, but that’s the only thing He takes the time to warn us about.
A breastplate covers your heart for protection in battle. Taking care of the least of these brothers of Jesus, an act of love that serves as a protection of your own heart.
If we are to be like the men of Issachar we can’t only know the times that we live in, we must also know what we are to do. I’m sure the list could get more exhaustive, but if you’re looking for a place to start, might I suggest start with where Jesus ends; with the least of these brothers of His.
I really pray that as Conduit, as students of the Word that we could be like the men of Issachar. There aren’t very many of us, but that we can understand the times that we live in and that we know what the Church (our family) should do.
As we cover Exodus 16 this week, notice that it is in God’s character to feed and clothe his people. It was so much His will that he chose to let it rain quail (desert chickens) and that every morning there was what the people of Israel called Manna (interesting that God didn’t call it that) It was the equivalent of Israeli cinnamon rolls popping up out of the ground.
It’s God’s will to take care of His children. As I type this there are millions of His children who are hungry and naked around the world. If we are His Body (and we are) then it is the job of the body to carry out the ideas and will of the head. He has not chosen to make it rain chickens are grow cinnamon rolls from the ground. He has chosen you and He has chosen me to administer His will in those areas.
If we truly understand the times that we lived in, we would know that is exactly what we should do.
Monday night at 7:30pm at Journey Church in Building 8 in the Factory as well as live on the web at http://www.mogulus.com/conduit
Hope to see you there!
If you’re motivated at all to put on the breastplate of righteousness and love, but don’t know what to do here are a couple of ideas.
1. Give: it’s easy, immediate, biblical. You only have to give what you’re able (2 cor 9) so it’s not like you have to wait till you get rich. If you’re able to give $1 then that’s the place to start. There are many great places to invest, and Conduit is one of them. We give 96.5% of all the money that comes in straight into the front lines of feeding, clothing and serving the poor. $15 feeds a child in Haiti for a month. http://www.conduimission.org and click on the donate now button
2. Go: We are sending a team from Conduit to Haiti in June. Is God speaking to you? Email me and I’ll put you in touch with Bucky and Kimmie who are leading the trip.
3. Pray: Pray for creative ideas of where to start. Maybe it’s just as simple as a lemonade stand in your apartment complex or doing a garage sale, etc. The Holy Spirit WILL lead you. You’re asking Him to do what is already His will. That’s pretty much a no brainer.
4. Don’t Do Nothing: If you’re doing nothing, I’m fairly positive that’s not the right answer. ☺ God has called you and I. He has invited us to follow Him. If we’re following Him, it denotes that He is on the way somewhere. Let’s go!
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