January 2013

Is Messianic Judaism Biblical?

My first encounter with Messianic Judaism (MJ) was in 1992 soon after I became a believer. A man was a special speaker at our church and he was introducing MJ to us. Whether or not he was Jewish, I do not know. He was a nice man and I enjoyed some moments of interaction with him. He wore a shawl when he prayed and sang in Hebrew. It was moving and had a touch of historicity which lent itself to its attraction. I was a brand new believer and had no idea that there was any such thing as a distinctly Jewish “Christianity.” I felt that what he was doing was odd, but interesting. Either way, I really did not think much of it. However, I bought one of his music CD’s and still have the songs in my head.

But, 20 years removed from that time, I can now safely ask, “Was this man participating in a more authentic Christianity than us Gentiles?” Is the MJ movement truly closer to the mark than what a predominantly Gentile church experiences each Sunday? This bears the need for examination especially as this movement appears to be taking hold on many.

One website for Messianic Judaism is MJAROI (“Messianic Jewish Alliance for the Restoration of Israel). Their website indicates that there may be as many as 1.2 million Messianic Jews and “Messianic synagogues are springing up in almost every major city across the U.S., and Messianic Judaism is quickly growing in other nations throughout North and South America, Europe, Oceania, and the former Soviet republics” (http://www.mjaa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=n_messianic_movement_messianic_judaism, site accessed 1/29/2013). With a growing trend toward this ideology, I think that it is fair to take a moment and examine, in sum, its tenants and compare them against Scripture.

According to the directory of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (http://www.iamcs.org/), there are no Messianic Synagogues in Montana, where I live. Other directories from another MJ service indicate there are three (http://www.man-na.com/Messianic_Congregations_in_Montana.htm). The narrative I began this post with occurred in Bozeman, Montana. I live in Northwest Montana. I am aware of some in this area who believe MJ to be a viable, biblical, even right, expression of true biblical worship and practice over and against a more Gentile expression of worship and practice. Their reasoning goes like this.

Since Jesus was Jewish, followed Hebrew Scriptures, studied and spoke in the Synagogues, and taught his followers to do the same, so must we. The need, therefore, is to return to this expression, as defined by the evidence compiled by MJ, in our modern expression of following “Yeshua.” What does that look like? It looks like a return to the feasts, or biblical holidays. It is a call to worship in Hebrew. It is a call to dance during the services, much like David did (2 Samuel 6:12-23). It would include a return to dietary restrictions and keeping of the Sabbath. These expressions of authentic discipleship find their establishment in the MJ movement. The movement is a call for Jews who believe in Jesus Christ to gather into their Jewish Congregations, Messianic Synagogues, for worship replete with the above-mentioned items. Although they would demand that these things are simply because they, as Jews, do not want to lost their distinctiveness as Jews, I would think that more than that is going on (particularly since many in the MJ movement are Gentiles!).

Is this really what defines a biblical perspective? Does the Bible teach these doctrines of a return to the “Jewishness” of following Jesus? No. The Bible does not teach these things. The Scriptures do not call Jews and Gentiles to redefine worship in these terms. The distinction between Jews and Gentiles, in fact, have been removed in Christ (Galatians 3:28; cf. Rom 3:22; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:11). To attempt a distinction, at the very least, is an assault upon the church Jesus is actually building, culture notwithstanding. If those who follow Jesus Christ must embrace the “right” style of worship, i.e. Messianic Judaism, then we have, in effect,

1.Denied the establishment of the church.

2.Denied the eschatological truth of the restoration of Israel.

3.Elevated Jewishness above Christ.

Denied the establishment of the church:

Israel refused to repent. God had called over and over again for their repentance (2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Matthew 21:22-41; 23:34-35). The result was

Matthew 21:42–46

42 Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,

‘The stone which the builders rejected,

This became the chief corner stone;

This came about from the Lord,

And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

44 “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.

46 When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet. (underline mine)

The Jews, as representative of the entire nation, refused to repent. Moses had written that unless and until Israel repents, confessing their sins and the sins of their fathers, the promise of Abraham cannot come (Leviticus 26:40-42). Since, Israel refused to repent, Jesus then turns to the Gentiles and gives to them the kingdom rightly belonging to Israel (Romans 11:11-24; cf. Matthew 21:43). This does not mean that Israel will never inherit the kingdom promised them through David. It means that they have judged themselves unworthy of such a high honor when Messiah arrived; they have been neglected by God for a time, as God calls Gentiles to Himself. The restoration of Israel is to come, all twelve tribes, in Jerusalem, as promised, with David’s Son reigning over them and the world. However, alongside the Messiah will be the twelve apostles, and the church, ruling over Israel (Matthew 19:27-30; cf. Revelation 20:4). By the way, this is not a cause for arrogance, but deep humiliation for God to extend this grace to us without any covenant or promise to Gentiles (except the reference to some kind of Gentile blessing through the descendants of Abraham [Genesis 12:3]) is unfathomable! We were without God in the world, and apart from the commonwealth of Israel [Ephesians 2:11-12; cf. Romans 11:17-21]. Now, during our current time, it is the age of the Gentiles (Luke 21:12-24; Romans 11:25). Thus, the church, the assembly of regenerated, Spirit-filled, and baptized (by the same Spirit into Christ-Romans 6:3-7) people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are distinct from Israel and we are those who will reign with Christ over the world during the Millennial reign of Christ. If a person says that we must regain the former Jewish distinctions of Judaism and amalgamate them into Christ and His body, the church, we have then confessed a desire to return to the “generation” who refused to repent. It would be like Israel wanting to return to Egypt. You can’t go back. In Christ, the distinctions are done away with. In Christ, not even our gender aids in our merit with Christ (Galatians 3:28). We are clothed with Christ, not Abraham (Galatians 3:27). And if Abraham were here, he would expect the same (John 8:39, 56-59).

Denied Of The Eschatological Truth Concerning The Restoration of Israel

One tenant of MJ is the desire to restore Jerusalem.

We believe in God’s end-time plan for the nation of Israel and for the world. A central part of Messianic Judaism is the belief in the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel, as taught in the Scriptures. The greatest miracle of our day has been the re-establishment or rebirth of the State of Israel according to prophecy (Ezekiel 34:11-31; 36-39; Hosea 3; Amos 9:11-15; Zechariah 12-14; Isaiah 11; 43; 54; 60-62; 66; Romans 11:1-34). (http://www.mjaa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=n_about_us_statement_of_faith).

Unfortunately, the above-mentioned statement of MJ indicates an ignorance of God’s program for Israel. The establishment of Israel as a state in 1948 does not fulfill the return of Israel to the land. The passages used to support that it does are misapplied and misinterpreted.

Ezekiel 34:11ff. refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as to when Israel will be restored to the land. We know this because the sheep and goat judgment referred to in the rest of the chapter is taught by our Lord in Matthew 25:32ff. The context of which being His return to the earth for judgment and Millennial rulership.

Hosea 4 is a little chapter of wonderful promise for Israel’s return to the God with Whom they played the harlot. They will personally return to David their King (the Son of David, Jesus) with fear and trembling in the last days. Until Jesus is personally resident in Jerusalem, Israel will not return.

Amos 9:11-15 refer to the blessed time when Israel is restored to their land and the land will be characterized by peace and productivity. There will be a stop placed upon the curse of the ground (Genesis 3:17-18) and the ground will, once again, produce bountifully.

Zechariah 12-14 will only occur when Israel “looks upon Him whom they have pierced” (12:10). Their repentance will be known and evident. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem, there will be geographical changes to benefit Jerusalem, and Christ will rule over the nations. None of which have occurred to date.

Isaiah 11, 43, 54, 60-62 all indicate events that have not occurred. Israel is not safe. The nations surrounding Israel have not been judged. The new heavens and earth have not been created. Although these passages teach the restoration of Israel, it has not occurred yet.

Romans 11:1-34 is Paul’s teaching, from the teaching of our Lord, that Israel will be returned God and to the land in fulfillment of His promise. That has not occurred. As stated above, Israel has been hardened partially until the times of the Gentiles has been accomplished (Romans 11:25-26). Then, after the times of the Gentiles (which ends at the Rapture of the church before the Tribulation), at the end of the prophesied Seventieth-Week of Daniel, Israel will be rescued and will have their veil lifted to see Christ.

It is important to understand that these passages do not teach that these things happen progressively. The restoration of Israel will only happen when they see Christ, the One Whom they have pierced; when they repent, which will happen when the Spirit is poured out upon the house of David, and will result in a submission to the Son of David as King and they will enjoy fellowship in the land. None of this started in 1948. Therefore, we cannot see 1948 as any kind of fulfillment of a Scripture passage related to the restoration of Israel. Is 1948 significant? Yes. Is 1948 prophetic? No. Eschatologically, Israel will repent through the provision of the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ. God will give to them that covenant which will regenerate the entire nation at that time (just like He did with Nineveh through Jonah), and they will mourn for Christ and for their sins and they will, at that time, return to the land having been called out from the other nations around the world. The Bible teaches that that will occur only at the end of the Tribulation, at the beginning of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Until then, Israel is hardened.

Elevated Jewishness Above Christ

If we believe that Jesus Christ came to restore “Jewishness” to worship, we have failed to understand Christ. He is the Last Adam, not the last Abraham. He did not come because God inaugurated Jewish worship in the garden and He planned to restore it. He came to fulfill His promise to His people Israel, which, in turn, would bring Edenic-like blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3), and reconcile the world to Himself so as to make us all (those who believe) sons of God, with Christ as our eldest brother (Romans 8:28ff.). Although these things were divulged to Israel (except for the mystery of the church), that does not make these things submissive to Israel or Jewishness. Paul wrote

Colossians 2:16–17

16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—

17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

The fact is, food, drink, festival, new moon (observance), and Sabbath-day keeping are shadows. The substance that casts the shadow is Christ. I would much rather have what bears the shadow than the shadow. These functions were never meant to be observed eternally. We know this because the heart of all of this was the sacrificial system demanding the temple in which animals were slain. We have no temple now in which to offer sacrifice. Those who espouse MJ have contracted a twisted understanding of Moses’ Law concerning the festivals and Sabbaths. These things cannot commend you to God any more than the blood of bulls and goats could actually atone for sins (Hebrews 10:4). To dance like David simply feeds an already established sense of self-righteousness, but is not the indication of true righteousness. David danced, embarrassingly to some degree, because of the re-entry of the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). We do not have such a condition. The church continued in the apostle’s doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers (Acts 2:42). The antics of MJ are conspicuously absent in the NT. Not to say that being absent makes them impossible. It simply means that being absent is consistent with the teaching of Christ and the apostles that a greater than the Temple is here (Matthew 12:6, 41, 42).

I am afraid that the establishment of MJ into the church will accomplish what Paul warned long ago:

Colossians 2:18–19

18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Further,

Colossians 2:20–23

20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,

21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”

22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?

23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

The self-abasement and appearance of wisdom in self-made religion cannot help you overcome the flesh. You might believe in these things and promote these things. But that is not the issue. We cannot share the glory of Christ with anyone or anything. He is Lord. In fact, He is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-11). Follow Christ! Reject man-made commandments and teachings. Learn of Him. Follow Him. Serve Him. Love Him, with your whole heart, and in this way you will fulfill the whole Law of Moses and the Prophets (i.e. Tanakh):

Matthew 22:34–40

34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.

35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.

39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Biblical (and Unbiblical) Teaching on the History of Head Coverings-pt.2

My previous post on the teaching of head-coverings generated a few responses. At the outset, I want to say that I realize that there are many dear, faithful, Christians who believe wholeheartedly in a woman wearing a head-covering during worship. They are dear people and faithful to the Lord. I am thankful for them. These posts are not directed to any one person, but are meant to clarify, what I believe to be, an erroneous understanding of this passage to such an extent that it is defrauding some of their prize of knowing Christ (Colossians 2:16-23). In an effort to attempting to correct an incorrect teaching, I have written these posts. And, judging by the statistics of the last post, I was right. Of all the blog posts I have written, the last one was, by far, the most read. I have received almost no responses, but that is okay. One response was made by a brother whom I know and I want to address that, because I believe it might help others.

This brother’s statement was that church history contradicted my conclusion that a head covering was not commended by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. I want to respond to that comment in a full post because I believe it demonstrates a major problem in the thinking of many. The statement that was made was, “I am not dogmatic on head coverings, however, church history would run counter to your conclusion. Traditionally, women have always worn head coverings until very recently — and that really only in the western world.”

THE ROLE OF CHURCH HISTORY

First, I want to address the fact that women have always worn head coverings until very recently. It is true, as you read through some historical information, that head-coverings were common. However, going about your life without a head-covering was common also. Michael Marlowe has a decent summary of Greek, Roman, and Jewish practices concerning these things here. It would appear that head-coverings were worn by both men and women in public, private, and religious processions. It would also appear that head coverings were also not worn by both men and women in public, private, and religious processions. However, that is pagan life. That does not determine the meaning of Scripture. Best to say that the customs, traditions, of the town of Corinth, at least of many, was to be covered from the head down to below the shoulders, and in some cases, more. They also wore headbands, hats, and scarfs as well, just like today. Many women wore their hair in a braid and “bun.” They often adorned their hair with items such as coins, jewels, and other valuable items (see 1 Timothy 2:9). So, just like today, you have a mixture of practices that come together in the church at Corinth.

Second, as far as church history is concerned, it appears that the confusion over head-coverings also continued. One of the more direct writings on this is Tertullian’s On The Veiling of Virgins. This long letter written around 200 A.D. addresses the practice, and reason, for women to wear a veil (which was not a doily, but an actual veil that included covering everywhere long hair would go). His conclusions are that every woman, married, widowed, unmarried, should have a veil. He wrote,

“It remains likewise that we turn to (the virgins) themselves, to induce them to accept these (suggestions) the more willingly. I pray you, be you mother, or sister, or virgin-daughter—-let me address you according to the names proper to your years—-veil your head: if a mother, for your sons’ sakes; if a sister, for your brethren’s sakes; if a daughter for your fathers’ sakes. All ages are perilled in your person.” Chapter XVI

His conclusions, then, are that a veil aids in modesty for every woman, married or single, during worship and out of worship. It is to be worn at all times, and the more it covers the better. He wrote,

“The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound; in order that the necks too may be encircled. For it is they which must be subjected, for the sake of which “power” ought to be “had on the head: “the veil is their yoke. [4] Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face. A female would rather see than be seen.” Chapter XVII

Thus, according to Tertullian, the veil should reach as far as the hair would go when “unbound.” In fact, he invokes Arabian women as the judges over Christian women in this practice thereby saying that the Arabian women are more modest in their dress than the women in the church.

Therefore, to be consistent, women who believe that they are required to wear a veil, or doily, or something, should, according to the authority of Tertullian, extend that veil to her shoulders and even over portions of the face all day long. To Tertullian, to have your face visible (this is not during worship, mind you) is to “prostitute the entire face.”

If a person were to look at the practice of head coverings through the ages, you certainly would see murals, pictures, and reliefs from the early days of the church to around even the 1700’s with women whose heads were covered. However, as mentioned before, many were also uncovered. It was certainly a practice, custom, expectation, of many through the ages for women to cover their heads (but that was also for men as well). But, this was not just during worship. It was all the time. Further, there was much discussion for the kind and thickness of the veil as well. The assumption from all of this was that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11, teaches that a woman should cover herself with a physical covering, i.e. a hat, shawl, or linen of some sort, while praying or prophesying. So, even with church history with us, we still come down to, “What does the text mean?”

This brings me to my next point, which is far more important. I can summarize it this way:

Church history is not our hermeneutic.

That is, we cannot interpret the Scripture’s meaning by the practice of the early church, nor the latter church, or any church. We cannot interpret Scripture’s meaning by looking at the habits and practices of the church throughout the ages. The meaning of Scripture is determined by the Scripture. And, Scripture judges church history. What I have found is, unfortunately, some would rather rest in the works and teachings of the fathers and reformers (and excel in the knowledge of their writings), rather than wholeheartedly understand and believe the Scripture…and they do not realize it. They unwittingly act as if the Scripture is unclear and to be doubted and that we need extra-biblical revelation to understand it. I am not saying that we should not learn from the faithful teachers throughout the ages. However, no godly teacher would ever suggest that what he says/writes is on the same level as Scripture.

For example, many times when Paul wanted to teach on the responsibilities of man and woman he did not appeal to customs or practices for authority. He went back to God’s created design. He does this in 1 Corinthians 11:6-9. His appeal is to creation. He did not appeal to a custom for authority. He was actually trying to correct a custom, as a response to the Corinthians’ writing to him (1 Corinthians 7:1). There were some in the church carrying over the practice of the day of head-coverings. And, like today, many women find their entire sense of righteousness and propriety in her head-covering. Some also find it in their church membership, prayers, or singing in the choir. Paul is addressing the fact that some in the church were being factious over the head coverings and, head-coverings, along with other topics, were causing divisive confusion. A woman’s hat is not her true head, her husband, and man in general, is. So, the real question for a godly woman is not, “Where is your head-covering?” The real question is, “How is your heart?”

 

BIBLICAL EVIDENCE

Just glancing through the Bible looking for a statement about “head-covering” you will find very little. There are references to “turbans” (Exodus 28:39, 40, 42; 39:27-29), “veils” (Genesis 24:65-a better translation is “shawl”; Song of Solomon 4:1; 6:7-used in marriage settings), and in Isaiah 3:19-20 there is a reference to “veils” and “headdresses.” These were, no doubt, customary and not commendable as God says that He will, in the day of judgment, remove them along with other items of ornamentation that the women of Judah were coveting (see vv.22-26). Interestingly, in Genesis 38:12-19 the story of Tamar’s treachery contains the fact that since she sat by the road with her face covered, Judah thought she was a prostitute (v.15). Leviticus 13 contains teaching concerning those with skin disorders to be covered and uncovered accordingly. In Deuteronomy 22:5, a man is told to never wear a woman’s clothing thereby making clear distinctions between men and women (which I believe has some bearing upon 1 Corinthians 11). But, I have found no Old Testament instruction for women to veil themselves as a direction from God for worship. To be sure, a woman should have a designation of the fact that she recognizes authority over her (1 Corinthians 11:13-15). However, that is the desire of the heart and will of a godly woman (1 Peter 3:3-6; cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-15). Her submissive heart is demonstrated, not in her hat, but by her “chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:2). As King Lemuel wrote, “Let her works praise her…” (Proverbs 31:31).

What does all of this mean? It means that Tertullian’s letter giving directions to virgins, widows, and married women in the churches, does not help us one way or another to interpret the passage. The practice may have been popular, but instructions for the practice of head-covering by the apostles for the women in the church is lacking. Further, as mentioned the other day, the more important issue is not the linen on the head or the upper body. The issue is whether or not a woman loves, submits to, and appreciates the authority (and responsibility) she is under.

Again, Clement, Tertullian, and others may have simply elevated a custom or opinion (Romans 14:1f.) not based upon a clear understanding of Paul’s writings (thereby perpetuating confusion and unnecessary/ineffective restraint of the flesh (Colossians 2:20-23) which was not unusual for the day). It is obvious, as you read Tertullian, that his thinking is flavored with a spiritualistic hermeneutic, not a sound, historical/grammatical one. For example, to verify his hermeneutic, He wrote,

“Herein consists the defence of our opinion, in accordance with Scripture, in accordance with Nature, in accordance with Discipline. Scripture founds the law; Nature joins to attest it; Discipline exacts it. Which of these (three) does a custom rounded on (mere) opinion appear in behalf of? or what is the colour of the opposite view? [2] God’s is Scripture; God’s is Nature; God’s is Discipline. Whatever is contrary to these is not God’s. If Scripture is uncertain, Nature is manifest; and concerning Nature’s testimony Scripture cannot be uncertain.56 If there is a doubt about Nature, Discipline points out what is more sanctioned by God. [3] For nothing is to Him dearer than humility; nothing more acceptable than modesty; nothing more offensive than “glory” and the study of men-pleasing. Chatper XVI

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It is interesting that Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 follows a flow of thought. It appears that Paul is addressing a question that the Corinthian church had about women praying to God. We know this because Paul repeats their question in v.13. He writes, “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” Paul’s letter is a response to questions the Corinthians had for him (1 Corinthians 7:1). Thus, it appears that they wrote about a confusion concerning women praying with their head uncovered (He also, just as much, answers the question about men covering their heads during prayer and preaching). The answer is, no. A woman praying or prophesying should not do so without her head covered. He deals with their custom of wearing a head-covering, probably much like the Romans who did so in their pagan rituals, men and women alike [“Archaeological evidence from Rome itself to the Roman East is unambiguous, Oster urges, in depicting the “liturgical head covering” of men when they pray or use prophetic speech: “the practice of men covering their heads in the context of prayer and prophecy was a common pattern of Roman piety and widespread during the late Republic and early Empire. Since Corinth was a Roman colony, there should be little doubt that this aspect of Roman religious practice deserves greater attention by commentators than it was received.” [Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 823]. But, the fact that they had these coverings is superfluous to Paul. Why? Because nature itself, God’s design, certainly teaches us that a man with long hair is disgraceful toward Christ, his Head (and, all things originate from God-v.12). And, a woman without it is disgraceful toward her head, man. Please remember, Paul had to correct sexual sins in the church in Corinth, as well as sexual responsibilities and distinctions. This teaching is no different. That is why he is doing it here.

Finally, I need to make one plea. I realize that even Peter had a hard time understanding some of what Paul wrote (2 Peter 3:14-16). This is a more difficult passage. However, it is not difficult because Paul was unclear, since we know that his main thought was to verify that a man is the head of a woman, thus she should have a recognition of that authority over her by maintaining her long hair since that is why God gave it at creation in the first place. The lack of clarity comes in when we believe other sources of information with the faith that we are supposed to give to Scripture (1 Corinthians 1:2-5). We must not approach the Scripture

  • With the thought that other writings are equal to Scripture.
  • With doubt about its veracity.
  • With a sense of judgment over it.
  • With the idea that we can mold it however we want.

We must approach the Scripture with it as our authority-final authority; sufficient authority. It alone determines how we interpret it. It was given as a collection of books written by real men, in real time, with actual revelation from God, written in words on a page, and with absolute truthfulness in all that it contains. When we allow the teaching of men, however godly they might have been (or might be), to merge with the text, we end up clouding the issue. The confusion of inserting the thoughts of men into the pristine text of Scripture is a travesty and we must commit ourselves to the study of the text, and the text alone, for our understanding.

“Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2, NASB95)

The Biblical (and Unbiblical) Doctrine of Women’s Head Coverings

Yesterday, I began a little series on what it means to follow Jesus Christ. This issue is such a foundational, serious, nature, that time must be given to it as often as necessary. According to Paul, the heart of the issue of what it means to follow Christ is that you submit to His righteousness. We see this in Romans 10:3,

For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

 

Paul summarizes here the problem with the Jews during Jesus Christ’s ministry-they would not let go of their own, personal, righteousness. In the previous verses, Paul indicates that they are unsaved since they have a zealous ignorance about God’s righteousness. They thought they were righteous. However, the reality is, the righteousness they thought they had, which they believed would commend them to God, did not commend them to God. Rather, it confirmed their own condemnation. This is the heart of ministry. This is the heart of the conflict in ministry. A faithful pastor must confront people as to where they believe they derive their righteousness. Further, he must expose those “crutches” that people use in order to feel, or believe, that they have attained a kind of righteousness that they think God is pleased with. However, the fact of the matter is, God is never pleased with our righteousness. He is only pleased with His own through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are required to submit to His righteousness by believing Him (Romans 10:4). He, then, produces in us His own righteousness by His own working in us and this righteousness is summarized by:

Galatians 5:22–23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

One such “crutch” that many lean on is a woman’s use of head coverings during worship. I have personally seen the devastation it produces in the hearts of women when they believe that their holiness is all wrapped up in their head covering. In an effort to demonstrate the fallacy of that kind of thinking, and hopefully to liberate women from a false righteousness, I will be examining Paul’s teaching, in summary, on the issue from 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, which says:

1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.

5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;

9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,

15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

Much could be said from this passage; more than can be said here in this post. However, what needs to be said will be. Remember, the church in Corinth was not an exemplary church. To see what an exemplary church looks like, look to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1-2). Paul wrote all 4 letters (2 of them we do not have) to the Corinthian believers because of the multitude of sins resident in that fellowship, many of which were caused by false apostles and false brethren. With all of this, the issue of head covering became an important thing.

This is a fascinating section of Scripture. Paul instructs the church in Corinth concerning the use of physical head coverings during worship, i.e. preaching and praying (vv.4-5). He writes to them about this because they had questions about it (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1). In fact, the issue was producing schisms in the church, just as it does today (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). There were some who held to the “custom” of wearing a physical head-covering of some kind during their worship services, which were already full of confusion (cf. vv.17-34). This practice, in the immature church at Corinth (3:1-4), was causing major division and strife. The factious nature of this kind of thinking is evident by the divisions that were produced by those who believed they are more holy and godly than others. The reality is, Paul is debunking the practice of a physical head-covering in 1 Corinthians 11, not establishing it. Let’s look at God’s Word.

First, notice Paul’s theme in this section (11:1-16). It is found in the indicative statement of v.3-

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

This is a subordinate clause to vv.1-2 in which Paul praises the church for imitating him, to the degree that they are doing it, and that they, in all their confusion, still hold to the teaching that Paul gave to them. However, he begins v.3 with an adversative conjunction which indicates a contrary statement to v.2. Translating it as “but” is good. It could also be translated, “Yet,” “However,” or, “In spite of this.” The idea is that in spite of the commendable fact that they are still on his side, there are things that he needs to correct in their thinking, behavior, and worship. And he proceeds to do that (and so should every pastor). So, from the start, we see that Paul is correcting a practice that is produced from improperly understanding headship, thus the main theme of vv. 3-16. Paul says that he wants them to really understand something. He wants them to grasp a teaching. This is apostolic authority at work in the church-it is dealing with speculations that have infiltrated the mind of these people and he needs to correct them (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) because it was devastating the unity of the church. The focus of this error is the question, “From where does headship come?” And, “Is it important?” The second answer first-Yes! Headship is important. Why? Because a kind of headship exists in the godhead. God is the head of Christ. That is our pattern. Christ is not inferior to God (John 10:30). However, God is the head of Christ and thus headship is defined by that. Further, that pattern is established in creation-man is the head of a woman. You cannot reverse that. Adam was created before Eve (see vv.7-9; 1 Timothy 2:13). Thus, he is her head. This is not limited to a husband over a wife, although that is a particular headship that a man has over a particular woman (Ephesians 5:23). The language in 1 Corinthians 11 does not refer to marriage anywhere. Rather, it refers to general creation and general worship. Thus, by virtue of creation, and thus responsibility, a man has headship over a woman. Some women will balk at that. However, that is only because they are rebellious against the truth stated here. Paul is clear. I have also seen some parents teach that their daughters will not submit to anyone but their husbands. However, what that creates in the heart of that depraved child is a “sanctified rebellion” that exhibits itself in every relationship she has. She destroys God’s glory when she does that.

The point that Paul proceeds to make is not that her hat or doily is her head-man is. That is where her headship comes from. She us under men, her husband in particular. Man, not her hat, is the head of a woman. She, then, is to have a submissive, gentle, spirit which God considers precious (1 Peter 3:4). She lives her life rejoicing in God’s design! Some will say, “Does that mean that she is to obey every command given to her by men other than her husband?” No. But it does mean that in every man she meets, a godly woman appreciates, and admits to the created responsibility that man has over her. Obviously, if he is wicked and godless, she should not be in that relationship to begin with. But hypothetical situations do not interpret Scripture.

Further, every man who wears a head-covering disgraces his Head (vv.4-5). A man who conducts worship while wearing a hat disgraces his Head, who is Jesus Christ. A cranium can’t be disgraced. However, Paul already gave us the information we need to interpret what he means. It is a disgrace to Jesus Christ, who is on display in the man (v.7), to cover Him by wearing a hat at that very time when He is to be displayed. His leadership should be on display, not covered up.

However, a woman, who is made from the man, is not the image and glory of God in the same way that a man is. She is the image and glory of God through the man. Case in point, woman originates from the man and she is for the man (vv.7-9; see Genesis 2:18-24). This does not denigrate the woman any more than Christ is denigrated by having God as His Head.

A woman who has her head uncovered might as well also have her head shaved, Paul says (v.6). This is sarcasm, which Paul uses often in these letters. In their custom of head-coverings, which Paul is attempting to correct, Paul is demonstrating that if a woman, in their thinking, is to remove her hat during praying and prophesying, then let her also remove her real covering, her hair (v.15). Further, if she is disgraced by having her hair cut off, let her wear a hat. A man, though, should not have his head covered since he is the image and glory of God. The woman is not the direct image and glory of God, but of the man (v.7). So, a woman who insists upon wearing a hat during praying and prophesying must do so, according to their own custom. To remove it is to be like one who has just shaved her head.

And that is the issue. In saying this, Paul is not saying that the true covering for the woman is the hat, doily, or shawl. The real covering for the woman is her hair. That is the comparison that Paul is making. Notice how he relates their custom to the reality of the hair. It is true that a woman needs a demonstration of headship over her because of angels, who are looking into these things (v.10; cf. 1 Peter 1:12). However, her true head is not the doily, nor is it her hair. Her true head is the man, particularly, if she is married, her husband. Again, that is Paul’s point. The submissive heart of a woman will recognize that and maintain her long, beautiful hair for that reason so that the angels will glorify God on her behalf.

In vv. 13-15, we have Paul’s teaching on the matter. Even nature tells us (see Romans 1:20) that a woman should have long hair for a covering. She should not pray to God “uncovered” (v.13). She should have a covering on her physical head. Alternatively, a man, because he is the direct image and glory of God and the head of woman, should rise up to that responsibility for all to see and not have long hair (v.14). It is disgraceful, naturally, for a man to have long hair (there were provisions for the Nazirite vow of the OT [Numbers 6]. However, that vow was a time of consecration and self-abasement to which a man, or woman, would commit themselves for dedication to God and His service. It was a time of humiliation and social distinction and only for a time-period promised by the one making the vow. Afterwards, they would return to “normal”-see Acts 18:18]).

Paul’s statement at the end of v.15 is important to what Paul has been thinking all along.

…For her hair is given to her for a covering.

Literally, Paul says, “[nature teaches that on the one hand it is disgraceful for a man to wear long hair; but a woman with long hair, on the other hand, is a glory to herself [by means of herself-i.e. she is an instrument of glory to her head, man/husband] because long hair was given in place of/as an equivalent to something to throw over the head.

ὅτι ἡ κόμη ἀντὶ περιβολαίου δέδοται 

The Greek sentence you see above is 1 Corinthians 11:15b. I will break it down for you and give you the meaning and implications of each word:

ὅτι  = this conjunction is causal in nature. That is, it says that the previous verses of 14-15a are true because

ἡ κόμη  = “long hair.” The verb form of this word means “to wear long hair; let one’s hair grow long.” (κομάω –Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 234).

ἀντὶ  = preposition that means “in place of,” or “equivalent to” something. That is to say that long hair is the equivalent of a head covering.

περιβολαίου  = a noun referring to something that is draped over something else. It is a compound word literally meaning, “to throw/cast upon” something.

δέδοται  = this verb is in the Perfect tense. In Greek that is a strong verb that indicates a permanent action. The verb means “to give/commit.” It is a passive verb which means that the action of the verb was not done by the subject or the object of the verb. The action of the verb was done by someone or something outside of the subject or object. It was done for the subject or object by someone else. Thus, long hair was given to the woman (since it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair by creation) by God, since Paul is dealing with creation in the context.

Paul is saying, no matter what one believes about head-coverings, “At creation, long hair was given to the woman as a head covering.

To drive it home, with a warning, Paul says, “If anyone is inclined (seems to be/appears) contentious about this custom of yours, realize that we (the apostles), nor the churches of God (see 1 Corinthians 4:17; 7:17) have such a custom (as wearing head coverings).” In essence, Paul is saying that those contentious people who insist that women should wear a hat, doily, or otherwise are under extreme pressure to prove why they do it. The apostles don’t do it. The other churches in the known world don’t do it. If the apostles supported such a practice as this, don’t you think that they would teach it to the other churches as they did Paul’s ways confirmed by Timothy (4:17), and remaining in the responsibilities of life in which you were when you became a believer (7:17)? But here, he says that this little, divisive, group in the Corinthian church is the only group in any of the known churches which the authoritative apostles have established who have this custom of wearing a physical head-covering. The burden of proof is upon them. Meanwhile, other women in the church need to follow the teaching of the apostles and the example of the other churches established by Paul (it is interesting to me that Paul never wrote about head-coverings in any of his other letters, although he had occasion to do so-see Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-11; 5:9-16; Titus 2:3-5; see also 1 Peter 3:1-7), and not the example established by contentious women who cause division.

It is amazing how people love to have the last word. People who are characterized by this group of head-covering-wearers seem to desire to not submit to the righteousness of God in Christ. Many of them appear outwardly religious (after all, who can argue with the apparent piety of a woman who wears a head-covering), yet their hearts defy the very thing the head-covering is supposed to symbolize-submission.

A New Series: What Does It Mean To Follow Jesus Christ?

Jesus did not come to the this earth as a counselor. He did not come to earth as a meek and mild man, an effeminate homebody who simply wanted to revolutionize the world with love. He was nothing less than God Almighty in the flesh with all the rights and prerogatives to command humanity to bow the knee to His authority. The deity of Jesus Christ does not diminish His authority-it establishes it. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is such because He has been given a kingdom by the Father over which He rules, and will rule. This kingdom is the entire cosmos and everything in it. He has the right to give life and withhold it. He has the right to judge and to condemn. He has power over Hell, and Heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Given that truth, the absolute authority and command of all existence, why do we think that He will wink at half-hearted submission? Does any king, or commander, appreciate and applaud rebellion? Can a war be won unless the entire army follows orders? Why, then, do we think that Christ’s kingdom is any different? Why do we think that He will wink at insubordination? Absolute allegiance and submission to Him is the requirement. Anything less, or else, is not worthy of Him.

I have recently been forcefully reminded of the condition of the church in these days. First, I understand what the Bible says the church is, and is to be. I understand its precious beginning and how it will conclude its days on earth. I understand what ministry looks like, how it should be done, and what its priorities are. All of this is easily surmised by a proper reading of the Word of God.

But I also understand this: the inclusion of tares among the wheat has devastated the church. The pure and pristine faith of true believers has been assaulted by doubt and controversy of men who themselves refuse to bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Oftentimes, this reality is couched in an amiable and gentle spirit, like a sheep, and yet the heart rages within. These men have infiltrated Christ’s bride and have wreaked havoc among the flock. The devastation is strewn about the horizon. Lives devastated; hearts cold; service rendered ineffective. All because of the one tool that Satan has in his arsenal more than anything else-fear, fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan drives people by fear. Since Satan is a liar, murderer, and imitator, he speaks what is false, seeks to destroy, and wants the glory that is rightly due Jesus Christ (John 8:44). Thus, he is tireless in his endeavors to subject people to his wicked schemes by polluting their faith. People who hear the Word of God, and should know better, are rendered powerless by the inclusion of doubt into what they hear. And doubt is a pollutant that robs faith of its power. And sadly, pastors, wanting to keep their jobs and more eager for the applause of men than the glory of Christ, will not do their tasks. We are afraid to contend for the truth, at every level, so that God’s dear people can feed on Christ’s doctrine without worry. We take the hits. We bear the weight. We embrace the bruises so the sheep don’t have to.

In this series, I will be systematically attacking what I believe to be erroneous teaching in the church at large which introduces doubt, leading to impotent faith,  slavery, and destroyed lives. Shame upon those who co-labor with Satan in this things.

The first place I must begin is  the cost of following Jesus Christ. Jesus said,

Luke 9:23–26

23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

24 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Jesus came into this world to rescue. He is a Savior. He is a deliverer from the wrath to come. And, contrary to the common gospel presentation of today, it is not enough to “trust Jesus as Savior,” or, “invite Him into your heart.” Those formulas are the result of rebellious doctrine which confirms men in their sins, it does not free them. If Jesus wanted the world to be saved by such mutterings, He would have used them on everyone. He didn’t. There is no record of Jesus telling people to invite Him into the their hearts. What did He say?

If anyone desires to follow Christ, here is what Jesus Himself says is the requirement:

  1. Deny yourself.
  2. Take up your cross daily.
  3. Follow Him.

First of all, to be saved, you must deny yourself. This verb, “deny (reject ongoing relationship with-arneomai),” is a verb that indicates: 1) command (imperative), 2) at once action (Aorist), 3) third person (he/she). Thus, it can be read like this: “If anyone wants to follow behind Me, He must, at once, reject himself.” To refuse to allow your own will, purposes, and desires to control you is the idea. You are to subsume yourself under the will and purposes of Jesus Christ as discovered in the Word of God-this is faith. Some follow Christ because they want Him to do something for them (fix a marriage, restore a friendship, make new friends, etc…). Jesus says that if you want to come to Me, I want you to do something. I want you to see yourself as dead to yourself. Refuse to submit to your own will any longer. Deny yourself.

Second, consequently, Jesus further emphasizes this need when He commands (imperative) immediate crucifixion. This immediate command for a person to put himself on a cross, an implement of torture and death, indicates that you cannot keep yourself any longer. Again, this is an immediate command of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you name any apostle who did not do this? Can you name any faithful martyr who did not understand this? Can you name any person who died for the sake of the gospel who did not understand this? Then, tell me, why do you believe you are any different? Notice that no one else carries your cross. You are commanded to pick it up, nail your own hands and feet to it, and hang there until you die…day by day by day.

Third, Christ is the example. Follow Him. Did He not deny Himself for the sake of the Father (Luke 22:41-42)? Are you greater than Christ? Did He not give His life for sinners? Are you greater than that? Are you too good for that? Or, is the fact of the matter that you simply don’t want to do it? To follow Him (akolouthew, to follow after/behind; imitate and pattern oneself after by obedience) is also a command. You must do it now! Subject yourself to His will and Word and refuse to any longer do your own! Where has it gotten you anyway?

Finally, to deny yourself, hang yourself on a cross, and obey Jesus leads to life-eternal life. You cannot have two masters-your will and His. Even if you gain the entire world by hanging onto yourself, and yet reject eternal life, what have you gained?

Those who will not submit to Jesus Christ’s commands is ashamed of Jesus Christ. Bottom line. If a person continues to value himself, express himself, set himself up as the pattern, he is ashamed of Jesus Christ. Fine. Jesus will be ashamed of you. When the millions of saints who abandoned themselves in obedience to the gospel join Jesus at His glorious coming, you will be judged by them. You will see their faces. They will see yours, and your conscience will scream for mercy. God’s glory is nothing to play with. Please don’t name the name of Jesus Christ if you are so ashamed of Him that you cannot obey His command to absolute allegiance.

In the next few posts, we will be exposing common teachings in the church which are enslaving people. These doctrines of men are not of Christ. And thus, they do not lead to true godliness but a false one. Christ’s teachings are our instructions and lead to life. However, many teachings in the church are said to be of Christ, but they are not. Thus, many are not actually following Christ.

Some of these teachings are:

  1. Refusal to leave father and mother for Christ.
  2. Refusal to believe the Word of God is clear.
  1. Refusal to believe in church unity.
  2. Refusal to believe in spiritual authority.
  1. Refusal to let go of the Law for righteousness.
  2. Refusal to be either hot or cold.
  3. Refusal to be please God over men.

Challenging Covenantalism: Daniel’s Seventieth Week

It is amazing to me how little is ever taught on this crucial section of Scripture. Most pastors simply never address it in their preaching. I can understand how daunting it is. However, it is still in Scripture and foundational to the future history of the world. In order to understand Jesus’ teaching on His return, one must comprehend Daniel 9:24-27 (see Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). The reader of Jesus’ teaching concerning the future must include a proper comprehension of Daniel 9:24-27, to start with.

The prophet was exiled to Babylon in 605 B.C. in the first of three exiles. King Nebuchadnezzar, recently appointed as king over the newly dominant empire after his father’s death, desired to bring the best of young men from Judah to be his servants in his court. Thus, we have Daniel, and his friends, being taken captive in order to be indoctrinated in Babylonian instruction (Daniel 1:1-7). Being taken captive there around 15 years of age and died in 535 B.C. He was about 85 years old, having lived almost his entire life in Babylon. Tradition indicates that he was buried in Babylon. This was a man given some of the most graphic and specific visions from God. His writings tell us what is happening in the world, and about to happen in the world in great detail.

There is much to be studied from Daniel. However, we want to focus on chapter 9:24-27. Last post I introduced this section. Here, I want to understand specifically what this section means by what it says.  Daniel wrote,

Daniel 9:24–27 (NASB95)

Seventy Weeks and the Messiah

24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Verse 24 states that God has decreed 490 years for the Jews and for Jerusalem. Thus, Israel’s history is to be summed up in 490 years. A collection of 70 Sabbath cycles of years (see Leviticus 25:1-12) is decreed for Israel. These Sabbath cycle of years is the same amount of time indicated by the 70 Sabbaths that Israel broke and landed them in Babylon in the first place. God just did not include the 6 years in the Sabbath cycle, only the 70 Sabbath years of each cycle, thus 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21; Daniel 9:2). Thus, those years are now decreed by God as the future for Israel. There are six events that form the conclusion to Israel’s history:

  • to finish the transgression.
  • to make an end of sin.
  • to make atonement for iniquity.
  • to bring in everlasting righteousness.
  • to seal up vision and prophecy.
  • to anoint the most holy place.

Although these are not possible apart from the death of Jesus Christ, these are not completed with the death of Jesus Christ. For example, we cannot agree that everlasting righteousness has been brought in since the cross. Further, notice that these six things pertain to Israel, not the world. This is the decree that is meant for Israel, national Israel. At the end of 490 years, these things will occur.

Verse 25 tells us that the chronology of 490 years begins at the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Whose decree? Some say King Cyrus in 538 B.C. Some say King Artaxerxes I in 458 B.C. Others would say King Artaxerxes’ second decree in 445/444 B.C. The facts and figures surrounding this discussion is mind-boggling. However, it would appear that the best answer is King Artaxerxes’ decree given to Nehemiah in 445/444 B.C. From that time (seen in Nehemiah 1:1-2:1-8; cf. Ezra 4:13). It is apparent that Nehemiah’s concern is with the city in which God’s name would dwell (Nehemiah 1:4-10), repeating the promise of God in Leviticus 26 that if Israel would confess their sins and repent, God would bring them back to Jerusalem forever. Thus, Nehemiah confesses on behalf of himself and Israel, and God did indeed bring them back…to some degree (incidentally, Daniel follows the same pattern in Daniel 9). From this decree, given in Nehemiah 2:4-6, to Messiah the Prince will be a total of 69 weeks (i.e. 483 years = 69 x 7 Sabbath cycles of seven years). From 445 B.C. to 483 years later, using a 360-day calendar usual for biblical prophecy (which is the only point of reference given the nature of the context. That is, since Daniel is reckoning not from popular calendars of the day, but from prophetic material in the Law) we arrive at Friday Nisan, 14, or April 3, A.D. 33 as the death of Jesus Christ, and four days earlier the exact date of the end of Daniel’s 483 years (See Matthew 21; Luke 19:41-44).

However, notice that Messiah will be cut off and will have “nothing.” The teaching of Messiah in the OT indicates that He would arrive on the earth and reign (2 Samuel 7:13-16; Isaiah 2; 9:1-7; cf. Genesis 49:10). Yet, when He comes, He will be killed and have nothing. That is, He will die and not inherit the Messianic kingdom as prophesied in the OT. He would not reign on David’s throne. This is precisely why we understand that Jesus is not reigning on David’s throne in heaven.

According to Daniel’s prophecy, there is one more unit of seven years’ Sabbath Cycle left. That is yet future. We know that because that year presents the end of the total of 490 years decreed for Israel by God. Once that 490th year ends, the six accomplishments for Israel will be inaugurated. They are not here at this time and thus we wait, 2,000 years later, for that seventieth week, or 490th year. The Scripture indicates that the week in question is none other than the Tribulation, or Jacob’s distress (Jeremiah 30:7). It is a time of unparalleled pressure upon Israel, and, consequently, the whole world. It is during this final week that the prince who is to come, that is the Anti-Christ (he is one who will set himself up as the christ attempting to fool the world into thinking that he is the messiah) will come and break a covenant of peace which he made with Israel for that entire week (Daniel 9:27). Until then, we are in an age not prophesied of in the OT. We are in the mystery age of the kingdom (Matthew 13). We are the church. We are elect from every tribe, tongue, and nation (including Israel). But we are not Israel. Their day is coming in which they will physically see the One whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10) and they will repent of their sins once for all and be restored nationally just as God promised (Leviticus 26:40ff).

Covenantal Theology teaches that there is no future for the nation of Israel, for the twelve tribes of Jacob, the collected descendants of Abraham. They, instead, aver that Christ Himself is Israel, true Israel, and thus the church receives the blessings of Israel through Him. That is an apostate position. To deny all that the Scripture clearly teaches on the subject of God’s promises to the nation of Israel and their restoration in the land with the forgiveness of sins, including and especially Daniel’s seventy weeks’ prophecy, is to deny the veracity of Scripture and the integrity of God. Regardless of the hermeneutical justification one adopts, to do this is to commit serious error and, in effect, denies inerrancy. Those who hold this teaching should repent of it (see R. Scott Clark here as a demonstration of this kind of teaching). Paul rightly identified these men as those who

1 Timothy 1:3-7

…teach strange doctrines,

4 [and who] pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,

7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

God says,

Ezekiel 37:21–28

21 “Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;

22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.

23 “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.

24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.

25 “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.

26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.

27 “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.

28 “And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.” ’ ”

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