Friday, July 22, 2016

we may not fit in, but we're not stupid

The Word for today:
Nehemiah 3
There are certain verses in the Bible that we would call pivotal. Looking over page one of my Bible, I can spot a couple of these crucial passages. Certainly "In the beginning God..." is one of them. Just two verses later, "Let there be light..." is another.
But some of the most significant verses in the Bible aren't as well known. An example of a seemingly obscure line which is absolutely essential to the Word of God is found in Nehemiah 2:1:
In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. (Nehemiah 2:1)
The great significance of this verse lies in the dates given: In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes...
This verse allows us to establish a timeline for "The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks," which is found in Daniel 9. There you will read that 70 "weeks" of years (70 x 7 = 490 years) begins at the time of "the going out of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem." The only decree in scripture authorizing the rebuilding of the city is recorded right here in Nehemiah chapter 2--in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes.
Well attested records of ancient history fix this date as 445 B.C.
We will look more closely at the particulars of this great prophecy when we reach Daniel. But in the meantime, the Bible student does well to understand that the history, the genealogies, and dates of the Old Testament are there for a reason.
How about this for a reason:
Putting together Nehemiah chapter 2 and Daniel chapter 9, it is possible to derive the very year of the Messiah's death: 483 years after 445 BC.
We read, in Luke 2:41-50, the account of young Jesus in the temple among the scholars, who were amazed at his understanding and his answers. I am confident that one of the topics they discussed there was the linkage between Nehemiah 2:1 and Daniel chapter 9. I surmise, by their amazement, that the greatest scripture scholars in all of Israel found out, on that day, that their generation would see the Messiah--that Scripture had targeted their time. They were informed of this by the irrefutable exegesis of a 12 year old boy. (I can not prove it, but I am firmly convinced that it would not be until years later that the boy came to a further realization: Scripture had targeted not only his time, but him.)
Our faith does not rest on a bunch of fables or baseless hopes. It rests on meticulously recorded history and eyewitness confirmation. It rests, ultimately, on the Word and character of God. Our faith is not, in any way, a leap in the dark. We are not leapers. And we are very choosy about whom we trust.
God's children do not readily fit into the cultures and systems of this foreign world. We are seen, rightly so, as misfits in this present darkness. But that doesn't mean we're stupid.

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