There are many times when we read documents and get to the end having no clue what we have read. I understand certain words and their meaning but as soon as they are linked together, phrases and sentences could be hard to discern. You need to re-read and think through what you have read. You need to get into the author’s mind as you consider the context and any historical events associated with the document. Jesus used to say to people:
Mk 4:9 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”
when dealing with some of His parables. To the Churches in Revelation 2 and 3 He says things like:
Rev 3:6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
He acknowledges that often for us, Scripture can be difficult to grasp and understand. He therefore wants us to apply our minds and think through what the Word is saying to get it right. Failure is when false doctrine and heresy comes along with horrendous consequences for both individuals and congregations. Daniel 9:25 starts with a similar phrase … “Know and understand this”. Angel Gabriel, speaking as God’s messenger tells Daniel that he needs to apply his mind to what is being said so that he grasps the message with spiritual understanding. O, may we too seek the Scriptures diligently without falling to the first fanciful interpretation that pops up. Let me be frank … even after walking with the Lord for over 40 years, preaching for over 40 years and having gone through Bible School and being ordained for 37 years … I do not know the Bible very well. I know doctrine, theology and have a general working knowledge of Reformed, Systematic and Biblical Theology … and still need to work hard at understanding the text of Scripture for writing Daily Notes and Sermons. For all of us, the Bible Teacher and the average Christian, God wants us to apply our minds as we study the Word. We may not thumb suck or superimpose our thoughts on the Bible. Neither should we believe the first person flinging out a text’s meaning. Even the Bereans did not just accept the apostle Paul’s teaching:
Ac 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Pastors, Bible Teachers and Christian Workers need to be like Ezra
Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
Far too often such people get involved in politics and social action. However important these are, they don’t belong to Gospel Ministry. There are other Christians who can do these things. Gospel Workers are called to, as Paul says to Timothy under inspiration:
1 Tim 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers
2 Tim 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
This is why full time or part time Gospel Work is a calling. Such need to sacrifice themselves from the things of the world to concentrate on one matter and one matter alone. Dick Lucas used to say … “keep the main thing the main thing.” The Gospel is the main thing. Don’t deviate! Souls for heaven are more important that comfort on this earth. Then … for everyone … do not think that a theoretical understanding of the Bible’s Message will be sufficient to carry you to heaven. Our Lord Jesus was very clear as He spoke to the Jews saying:
Jn 5:39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Too many have been through catechism classes and tend to have the right answer to the questions that “prove” Christianity … yet they are totally spiritually dead. Study the Scriptures to know Jesus personally or you fail the final question Jesus will ask! Let us consider
Da 9:25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”
1) Restorations duration. God determines the time duration until the things mentioned in verse 24 have been fulfilled. Perhaps we need to ask … “When will the people of God return to their homeland and rebuild the city and temple?” The discussion is long and the ideas are many … but it would seem as though the year was 538-537 BC in the first year of king Cyrus. (Refer to Daniel 1:21; Ezra 1:1-4). This date seems to be the date that the exile ended so that the restoration and rebuilding could begin.
2) Restoration’s purpose. The words “to restore and rebuild Jerusalem”imply the start of bringing back Jerusalem and the Temple to its former condition.
3) Restoration completed. The phrase “it will be rebuilt with streets and a trench” give us a picture of the completed, restored city.
4) Restorations conditions. Throughout the period of reconstruction and rebuilding there would be conflict (but in times of trouble). A good read to see the intensity of the difficulties endured by those restoring the city may be found in Nehemiah 4:1ff; 6:1ff and 9:36-37. We need more space to deal with the rest of the verse, so we will leave this for tomorrow. For now, let’s consider …
(1) Duration of Kingdom progress. The time frame God provides for us to “go and make disciples” … doing gospel work is during our life time and until Jesus returns. When He does, the gospel invitation and offer ends and the register of heaven is sealed. We have work to do whilst it is day.
(2) Purpose of Kingdom building. Through the gospel being preached and shared to the four corners of the earth, the elect of God will hear and come into His Kingdom. Again, we have work to do whilst it is day.
(3) Completion of Kingdom construction. Only when God calls time on this world will the construction of God’s Kingdom end. This is good news because whilst it is day we have Gospel opportunities.
(4) Conditions of Kingdom development. Like with the restoration of Jerusalem there was opposition to the point where the workers needed to carry arms and have guards posted for protection … so Gospel work might be very dangerous. We need the protection of the Word and Spirit plus people praying for us.
Protect us, Lord. Amen.