THE STOPPING OF GOD'S CLOCK
THE students of prophecy frequently speak of the stopping of God's clock when Israel is out of fellowship with Him. A great principle that dominates His dealing with Israel, His Chosen People, is expressed by this illustration. We must prove that the Lord actually ceases to reckon time (when viewed from a certain standpoint) during the periods when Israel is out of fellowship with Him. Students want evidence and not assertions. Evidence we shall have on this point.
In my volume Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled, which is the fourth book of my Messianic Series, I presented the chronological scheme that is found in the Old Testament. In chapter seven of that volume, I discussed the period of time, from a chronological standpoint, beginning with the Exodus from Egypt and ending with the establishment of the United Kingdom under Saul. By taking all the chronological data found in the Books of Joshua, Judges, and First Samuel, I showed that there were actually five hundred and ninety-four years from Israel's leaving Egypt to the fourth year of Solomon when he began to build the temple. There were no more nor less years than these five hundred and ninety-four.
But in I Kings 6:1, we are told that the fourth year of Solomon's reign was the four hundred and eightieth after Israel's departure from Egypt. There is therefore a seeming discrepancy between this inspired statement by the writer of Kings and the conclusion based upon the actual chronological data found in the historical books just mentioned. In other words, the computation based upon all the data found in the records yields an excess of one hundred and fourteen years more than the blanket statement of I Kings 6:1. What shall we do about it? Shall we accept the calculation based upon the data in those books and reject the statement of I Kings 6:1, or vice versa? My answer is that we shall not reject either, but, on the other hand, we shall accept both. There are no contradictions between statements of truth. Sometimes there may appear to be one when we do not have all of the facts; but, when a full picture is presented, that which appears to be a contradiction becomes a sweet harmony, which proclaims the infallibility of the Word.
A close study of the data that is supplied by the Book of Judges shows that there were six periods of servitude during the lawless times prior to the establishment of the monarchy, when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." During these times, God delivered His Chosen People into the hands of foreign powers. Different ones of the surrounding nations invaded the territory and reduced the country to slavery until the Hebrews repented of their sins and cried unto God for a deliverer. Then He raised up certain judges to save them and to administer a just government. The sum of the number of these servitudes, plus the three years of the illegal kingship of Abimelech, gives us a total of one hundred and fourteen years. During these periods, Israel was out of fellowship with her God. During the rest of the time from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon, she was in fellowship with Him. Those years are properly called theocratic. Thus we see that there were one hundred and fourteen years during which she was out of fellowship with Him and four hundred and eighty years during which the fellowship was maintained. When we look at these facts, we come to the conclusion, therefore, that the writer of Kings was speaking of theocratic years during which God was recognized as the lawful ruler of the people, and they were enjoying His favor. During the remaining one hundred and fourteen years of the five hundred, ninety four, God was not ruling, but Israel was doing that which was right in her own eyes. We can, upon the basis of these cold, hard facts, say that God's clock stopped one hundred and fourteen years during this period.
It was God's prophetic clock which stopped and not His universal chronometer. The earth continued to revolve upon its axis, which movement makes night and day. Thus the years came and went, but the time during which Israel was out of favor with God was not reckoned by the writer of the Book of Kings.
I might use a simple illustration to enforce this truth. All large firms have regular clocks that are controlled electrically and that strike off the hours, both day and night, for 365 days every year. Many of them also have a time clock for measuring, for instance, telephone calls. Just as soon as the connection is made by the operator, the subscriber starts it and can tell to the very second how long the conversation lasts. When he finishes he stops it. Hence this small desk clock simply measures off a special time for a definite purpose, whereas the regular one measures every hour. The years come and go regardless of whether or not Israel is in fellowship with God, and His great universal clock strikes off the hours. But, since He called her into a special relationship with Himself, He, figuratively speaking, has a time clock to measure the years when she is in fellowship with Him.
In chapter 2 we saw that the sixty-ninth week of Daniel's prophecy ended with the year of the execution of Messiah. In other words, that tragedy occurred at the end of the four hundred and eighty-third year after the return of the Children of Israel from the Babylonian captivity.
But did the final week of this period of time follow the execution of King Messiah? To this question my answer is a most positive No. My reason for making this statement is that at the end of the seventieth week of this period, the six things mentioned in Daniel 9:24 will be accomplished. As we have already seen, when they are brought to pass, the millennial age will have begun. In other words, to accomplish the six things mentioned in the prophecy is to establish the glorious kingdom of Messiah upon the earth. No one would for one moment say that seven years after the execution of King Messiah the glorious millennial reign of our Lord was established upon the earth. Sin continued in the world from that day until the present. Conditions grew constantly worse, even among the believers, until the Lord, according to Revelation 2:1-8, told the Church at Ephesus that it had lost its first love. Complaints are registered against five of the other churches mentioned in Revelation two and three. There was a gradual drift from Christianity, which culminated in the Dark Ages. Sin, vice, evil, wars, and calamities have characterized the present age. We are therefore safe in saying that the Millennial Kingdom did not follow, or, I would say, was not established seven years after the crucifixion. Since it is to be brought into existence when the seventieth week of Daniel has run its course and since those glorious conditions have never been established upon the earth, we may be absolutely certain in saying that the seventieth week of Daniel did not follow the sixty-ninth. There is therefore a long gap, which separates the sixty-ninth week from the seventieth.
Further proof that the seventieth week of Daniel did not follow the sixty-ninth is found in the fact that in verse 26 the angel said, "And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." By unanimous consent, prophetic students see in the prediction regarding the destruction of the city and the sanctuary an oracle which was fulfilled in the overthrow of Jerusalem and the temple, which events we know occurred in the year 70 A.D., when Titus, the Roman general, finally took Jerusalem. This collapse of the Jewish nation and the destruction of its temple occurred 33 years after the end of the four hundred and ninety-year period, if the seventieth week followed immediately the sixty-ninth. But since the millennial age was not established in the year 37 A.D., as shown above, the seventieth week could not have followed the sixty-ninth.
What is meant by "The prince that shall come"? The only way to identify this one is to recognize the people who destroyed the city of Jerusalem in fulfillment of this prediction. All historians say that the Romans did it and that Titus was the general who finally destroyed the city. Since the Romans were the ones who captured Jerusalem, we may be certain that the prince to whom reference is made is to be a Roman. Daniel assumed an acquaintance on the part of his readers with the one to whom reference is made. A glance at Chapter 7 of Daniel shows that it presents the grand march of empire. A vivid description of the four world empires under the symbolism of wild beasts is here found. In his speaking of the last ruler of the fourth empire, he gave us a detailed account of his defiance of God and of his persecution of His people Israel. Inasmuch as Daniel had acquainted his readers with this coming prince who stands head and shoulders above every one else thus far described in the book, it is natural for us to look instinctively to this same prince as the one to whom reference is made in chapter 9.
"And the end thereof shall be with a flood." The end to which reference here is made is the overthrow and the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. The word flood is to be understood literally unless the facts of the context indicate clearly otherwise. Since Gabriel was speaking of the literal siege, the capture, and the destruction of Jerusalem, it is hardly likely that the word "flood" is used literally. What is its significance when used figuratively? A glance at Isaiah 8:5-8 shows that the invasion of an army is compared to the flood waters of a river. Since Gabriel was talking about the invasion of Palestine by the Romans, it is quite obvious that the expression flood refers to the army of the conqueror.
Gabriel in his exposition of the future therefore leaped from the conclusion of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel, when God's prophetic clock stopped, over a period of forty years to 70 A.D., when Jerusalem fell, and the Jews were dispersed among all nations. From that day until the present they likewise have been scattered throughout the world.
Using 70 A.D. and the calamity of that year as a springboard, figuratively speaking, Gabriel leaped across the centuries of Christian history to the end of this age--the conclusion of the seventieth week. In his declaration "and even unto the end shall be war: desolations are determined," the word end can refer to nothing but the end of the period of time which he was discussing; namely, the seventy weeks of years. This prediction, therefore, put the seventieth week of Daniel far into the distant future from the standpoint of 70 A.D. During this Period--from the fall of Jerusalem to the end of the seventieth week--the time is to be characterized by wars and desolations upon the Jewish people, concerning whom the prophecy is made. A glance at Jewish history shows that this people has suffered as no other single race upon the face of the globe--even during the Christian era. The Jew, dispersed throughout the world, has been the football of the nations. He has been knocked from pillar to post. He has been robbed, plundered, and persecuted. Pogrom after pogrom has been launched against him. Notwithstanding these extremely difficult experiences through which the nation has passed, it has survived all of them, will continue to do so, and will emerge after its repudiation of the national sin at the end of the Tribulation into the glorious kingdom era of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
"Desolations are determined," declared the Angel Gabriel. This statement, of course, has specific reference to Jerusalem and the land of the Jews and refers to the period from 70 A.D. to the end of the seventieth week.
From this prophecy and the discussion here presented, it becomes abundantly clear that Daniel foresaw the long gap which has intervened between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week of years. As has just been shown, this Christian era divides into two parts: that from 30 A.D., the crucifixion, (the cutting off of Messiah), to 70 A.D., the destruction of Jerusalem; and second, from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of the seventieth week.
When all the facts are taken into consideration, one sees unmistakably that the Angel Gabriel clearly outlined the Christian dispensation as coming between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week of this vision. It is true that he did not give the information concerning the turn affairs would take after the Jews rejected their Messiah; but without a doubt he indicated that there would be a period of time intervening between the four hundred and eighty-third and the four hundred and eighty-fourth year of this prophecy.
The Psalmists and the prophets clearly set forth the propositions that Israel would reject her Messiah upon His first appearance and that He would be executed, buried, and be raised from the dead. Furthermore, they showed that, after His resurrection, at the invitation of God He would return to heaven and sit at the right hand of the Almighty until the latter puts His enemies under His feet. When this is accomplished and Israel is ready to receive Him, having repudiated the national sin of rejecting Him, He will leave Glory and return to this earth, for the purpose of delivering her and of setting up His millennial kingdom.
During the time when Israel is in rejection, God is taking out from among the nations a people for His Name. The gospel is to be preached to all, giving everyone an opportunity. It is not the will of God that anyone should perish, but that all should come unto repentance. He who, convicted of sin, comes unto the Lord Jesus Christ will in no wise be cast out. Hence, during the present era of Israel's dispersion and rejection, God is calling into being the Body of Christ--the Church of the First-born--consisting of Jews and Gentiles. The Jews are the natural branches, whereas the Gentiles are the unnatural. The latter are to be grafted in among the former and to partake of the fatness of the trunk of the tree, as indicated by the apostle Paul in Romans 9,10, and 11.
During this Christian era God is extending mercy to man as He has never done before this era began. Neither will He make such gracious offers to people after it closes. He has a special objective in mind in doing this, as is indicated in Ephesians 2:6,7. Because of this special purpose of God and the conferring of His grace upon people now, this era is called, "the year of Jehovah's favor," in the marvelous prediction found in Isaiah 61:1-3. Our hearts should well up in praise to God for His goodness to us at this present time and for what He will give us throughout all Eternity.