Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 5: Partial Restoration: The Discipline of Hope
Lesson 98 – Exile in Babylon, Sovereignty in Human Responsibility, Post-Exilic Prophets
24 Sep 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
… absolutely taking them over, Christians are in a small minority today. The strongest religion in the penitentiary world is Islam, and it’s rapidly growing because people are looking around for an absolute. Islam caters to the flesh; Christian looks anemic, looks effeminate to them because of the grace principle. But Islam insists that it has with Mohammed the prophet a brand new chunk of revelation that corrects the previous revelation. They’re right up front, it’s not continuous, it corrects the previous revelation. You never find that in the lineage of the prophets. Nobody’s correcting anybody. They are extending it under the sovereign of God but they’re not… you don’t find Daniel and Jeremiah saying Moses made mistakes, now I’ve got to come in, God sent me because I’m going to straighten out Moses. Where do you find that in the Scripture? There’s a continuity there, and that protects us. That tells us what is genuine and what is counterfeit.
Here’s Daniel, and he faces a problem because in verses 2-3 he’s looking at the prophecy from Jeremiah, which says there’s going to be 70 years and then it’s going to be over, the time of desolations. He then says well, what has happened in Daniel 2? In Daniel 2 what new information did Daniel get? Daniel got certain information from God. What we’re talking about now, here’s one of these apparent conflicts from the Bible, on the one hand, in Daniel 2 we have the four kingdoms. The first kingdom is Babylon, the second kingdom is Medo-Persia, then Greece, then Rome. Which kingdom is Daniel living in when Daniel 9 is written? He says “the first year of Darius,” of what descent? Median, so Daniel on this time line is located right here.
On one hand he’s got prophecy that says there’s going to be the time of the Gentiles that long; yet he has the prophecy of Jeremiah that says 70 years are up. So how can you have the restoration of Israel, because for Israel to be restored, what has to happen. She has to be free to reign under the Messiah, and she can’t be trodden under the foot of the Gentiles. It’s an interesting problem that comes up here. Daniel is very sensitive to it; after all, this man was high up in the administration of both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian kingdoms. He was equivalent to a foreign policy advisor today. He was very tuned in to the movements of history so he’s got to deal with this. It looks like the prophetic utterances of Scripture are wrong. We can well imagine him saying well gee, I’m reading here in Jeremiah, Lord, that 70 years are up, that ought to be the point, but on the other hand You’ve spoken through me and You’ve said there’ll be four kingdoms long. How do we deal with this?
That’s why he seizes on something that’s very, very interesting. Notice in verses 4, 5, 6, and 7, that he does not approach this theoretically. Daniel isn’t abstracting himself from the prophecy. Often times we will have prophecy conferences, we don’t have those any more in fundamentalism, we used to. But often times you get people that were really hip on prophecy forgetting that knowing about what’s going to happen in the future has to be applied today. There’s got to be a today application or it’s of no spiritual benefit to me. So what Daniel does, instead of taking a fatalistic view, when we get into the doctrinal section you’ll see how this comes out in his prayer, but he’s not saying what’s going to happen is going to happen. He’s an astute enough student of the Jeremiah text, in Jer. 29, to understand that the kind of thing that’s going to happen in 70, right here, that can’t happen until it’s preceded by confession.
Why is that? What principle. Let’s go back to Old Testament history. There’s the principle. How did they get in the exile? What caused the exile to start with? The sin. What was the exile? It was discipline because of sin. If the discipline is going to be removed, what has to happen? We’ve got to confess our sin. Daniel recognizes the principle and immediately in Daniel 9 he applies it. That’s why he has that big long prayer, just basic elementary theology. He doesn’t take a fatalistic view, that this 70th year we don’t have to do anything, it’s just going to happen all by itself; God parachutes it in somehow. It doesn’t work that way. He responds and what he’s doing, he’s articulating a prayer that’s very well designed, heavily designed on the basis of Scripture.
Then in verse 20 the answer comes, and God is going to expand the revelation. There are a lot of principles that operate in this. We’ll take a little excerpt after we get through this restoration and cover this issue of the Millennium, premillennial, postmillennial, etc., because I want to go over how you interpret prophecy. The arguments aren’t between the different views. The argument surrounds … what are the ground rules we’re using to interpret prophecy. That’s where the debate is. Here we know that there are 70 literal years. How do we know that? Because Jeremiah said so. And we know that subsequently from 586 BC to 516 BC, that’s the exile. In 516 BC they’re coming back to the land, so we verify. It wasn’t 70 ages, it was 70 years. But the angel sent from God now begins to interpret the Jeremiah prophecy, and adds something to it, not in conflict, but to supplement it because the angel is giving Daniel his answer.
The angel is going to answer Daniel’s question as to how can this happen in 586 BC, and we know the Roman Empire was seated at the time of Jesus Christ. The angel is going to explain to Daniel how it can be that Jeremiah was talking about 70, yet you have four kingdoms before the Son of Man comes. So the angel says, verse 24, and it literally reads in the Hebrew, “Seventy sevens have been decreed for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness.” What that literally says is Daniel, there’s going to be seventy sevens here, for Jeremiah, the initial condition that verified as seventy years. But the angel says in answer to your question, this is a partial restoration, because the nation spiritually has not universally confessed their sin. There’s been no universal [confession], Daniel’s confessed, maybe pockets here and there. So there’s a partial restoration based on a partial confession.
The angel says now we’re going to have seventy sevens. Prophetic scholars interpret this “seven” as years, or 490 years, five centuries of time. Five centuries of history until, it says, the transgression is finished to make an end of the sin. Let’s go back to Israel’s history and look at the end of sin. What does the angel mean when he says “the end of sin?” He’s referring to the fact that the nation is in trouble because of their sin. The exile, the angel says, in other words will continue, partially, for 490 more years.
Let’s come back to the text, he details it. But there are details in here, because obviously Christ hasn’t come in 490 years to end the transgression, to make an end of sin and to make the city holy. So let’s look at the fine print. The fine print says, verse 25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” that’s the Gentiles given authority to Israel to rebuild, “until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, “so seven sevens and sixty-two weeks, “built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”
Verse 26, “Then after the sixty-two sevens,” so we’ve lost some time here, “after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off,” this is an eloquent prophecy. The Messiah is going to come in here, after seven plus sixty-two, after sixty-nine weeks, or sixty-nine sevens, it says Messiah will come but He will be cut off. That places him in the Roman Empire. This prophecy is so exact. Granted, there are some problems with chronology because there are three or four problems with what decree and what year the decree was in, but we’re not off here by a lot. That’s the time period, between the time Daniel’s heard this and the time the Lord Jesus Christ came on the scene. And it says clearly that the Messiah’s going to be cut off. The interesting thing is you would have thought somebody in the New Testament, with all the arguments that were going around about Jesus Christ, somebody besides Jesus would have referenced this passage. Here the Pharisees are, the students of the day, and they never discussed the passage that talks about the Messiah being cut off.
So Messiah is going to be cut off and have nothing, so He’s going to basically be rejected by the nation. He’s going to be cut off, He has nothing, and the people of the “prince who is to come,” there’s a prophecy that’s very relevant to us today. “The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Who are those people? The people who invaded Jerusalem in AD 70—the Romans. The Bible says those peoples are the peoples of the “prince who is to come.” “The prince who is to come” is going to come out of the stock of these people. It says that they “will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood’ even to the end,” and then you’ll notice, whereas in verse 26 it says “the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city,” there the subject of the verb “to destroy” is the people.
But if you go down to verse 27 a subtle change happens in the text. Notice now the subject is no longer a plural but it is a singular, and it says “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one seven.” “He,” who is “He?” He is “the prince who is to come,” the great ruler who is to come, we know him as the antichrist. He will come, he “will make a firm contract [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” this is the false prophet and the antichrist mixed together here in this passage, explained later in the book of Revelation.
Our point here is not to go into a big prophecy exposition; our point is that the angel is expanding prophecy at this point. He’s adding to prophecy, he’s not contradicting it. He’s explaining that history is dynamic. This is something that, it took me a while to get hold of, but it’s something I think we need to have in our circles so we keep balance. From the standpoint of God history is already in His head. He’s omniscient and He knows everything that’s going to come to pass. The problem is we never can get in His head. He’s utterly incomprehensible to us, and for us to sit here and think that we can draw a diagram of the knowledge that God has in his head makes us God.
All we have is what He has chosen to reveal, Deuteronomy 29:29, “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever that we may do them.” What He has in His mind He only knows. He reveals bits and dabs, but the interesting thing about history is that He responds to what we do. How He can respond to what we do and keep history perfectly rational—only God can do that. But there’s a response here. First of all, go back to Israel’s history.
Remember it was prophesied in Moses day that this exile would happen. But if you look at the text that we laboriously went through all last year, what caused the exile? Was it because God had lightening clouds over Israel and He caused a big depression and they went into exile? Not at all. They went into exile because of their rebellion. It was their choice, so they freely chose to rebel and yet in freely choosing to rebel they perfectly fulfilled God’s Word. The skeptic will look at that and say well then God must have been pulling strings like a puppet. No, you can only think of that and I can only think of it as a puppet because in our finitude the only way we can control something is with strings. Yet He’s in perfect control of history, but He does it in such a sneaky way, that He doesn’t annihilate human responsibility, it goes on. We could spend eternity discussing that question. The point of the angel to Daniel is that there are very specific things Daniel, history has a pattern; history has a purpose. It is not contradiction, it will all work out. That’s the big message we want to get at.
We want to move to something else, sovereignty and human responsibility. I want to take a brief visit to three men who wrote in the closing hours of the nation Israel. They are the last of the prophets. Open your Bible to the unopened part of your Bible. Go to Haggai. I want to show you a few passages that these three men wrote so you can see that they are ministering to the group of Jewish people who came back from the exile. They’re ministering to this restoration group. These people have gone back into the land, they’ve settled there, they’re rebuilt their homes, they’ve come all the way back into the land, 516 BC, and they will stay in that land on to AD 70.
Haggai 1:5, keep in mind this is the generation that experienced fulfilled prophecy. They experienced the fulfillment of being restored after 70 years; they experienced that prophecy of Jeremiah. You can say, well then they don’t have any responsibility. Oh but they do, notice verse 5. “Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!  You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’”
What’s the appeal that the Lord is making through Haggai? Is it to just sit on their laurels because they have prophecy fulfilled? No, it’s to get on with it. They have a responsible area of the will of God for their lives. So Haggai addresses the need for human responsibility, and he does so on through chapter 2. If you look at 2:15, 16, in 17 he’s talking about discipline upon the nation, “I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew, and hail; yet you did not come back to me, declares the LORD.  Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; form the day when the temple of the LORD was founded, consider:  Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.”
Verses 15, 16 and 17 address human responsibility. But God also wants people to understand, He wants us to understand because the pressures of life, when we face them, we need to know that He has the final say. I’ve got to trust that. If I don’t have real confidence right now that God’s in control, then I can’t be in control, I can’t cope. So I have to have that assurance, even though I may have a problem that He’s addressing in my life right now. I’ve got to have that bigger assurance, and you’ll notice how merciful God is, He’s chewing them out in verses 15, 16 and 17, but then in verse 21 and 22 is the prophecy that comes through Haggai, “…I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.  And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the Gentiles; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, every one by the sword of another.  On that day, declares the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD of hosts.” He’s talking to the leaders of this group.
We can see the same theme in Zechariah which we don’t have time to do, but keep in mind Zechariah is another guy, he’s the next fellow in line here.
Turn to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 1:6, again let’s ask a question of the text. Is he giving them a comfort thing here or is he addressing their responsibility, their human responsibility? “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect? Says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Thy name?  You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled Thee?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’  But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil?” This is a little racket that was going on in the temple, sort of a fore view of what happened when Jesus had to clean it out.
There Malachi is addressing human volition, human choice. But if you turn to the end of the book, Malachi 4:5-6, you’ll see it always ends, at the end of these guys, they all look forward to something great that’s going to happen in the future. “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.  And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” See, God’s holiness is never compromised. However He pulls off this prophecy business, it’s always a confession or revival, the blessing always comes that way.
That’s why, we’ll mention it, when Jesus came into Jerusalem the last days of His life, He made that strange remark to the crowds. They were gathered together and He said you will not see Me until you say “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” and He’s quoting a Psalm. What He’s saying is I’m not coming back, Israel, I can come back any time, but I’m not going to come back until I’m invited. And the people that are going to have to invite Me are you. You’re the ones that crucified Me, and you’re the ones that are going to have to invite Me back. So it’s up to the choice of Israel, and in that sense, and this is kind of a unique way to think about it, but in that sense Israel is a stumbling block to world peace, real world peace, because until Israel gets right with the Lord, the world can’t get right. It’s all pending, it’s all waiting, the Jew first and then the Gentile.
It’s interesting, we have a prophetic calendar which we’ll study this year, the Jewish calendar has a spring cycle to it and it has a fall cycle to it, and in the spring you have the Passover, you have the Feast of First Fruits, and you have Pentecost. In the fall you have Yom Kippur, Day of the Atonement, and you have the Feast of Tabernacles, and you also have the Feast of Trumpets. But in the spring calendar, notice, what day was Jesus crucified on? Passover. What day did He rise from the dead? That year it was the First Fruits day. And what day did the Holy Spirit come? He came on the day of Pentecost. That’s half the Jewish calendar. The other half doesn’t fit anything yet. There are three more events in the Jewish calendar. What are those? Apparently they’re set in place, ready to be fulfilled, that in the fall, because the Feast of Tabernacles represents the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom, I believe that the Millennial Kingdom is going to fall, whatever year it comes, it’s going to fall on that day. Now this doesn’t say what day Christ returns, that’s the rapture; that can happen any time. But what I’m saying is that the Jewish calendar is only 50% filled as of today; there’s more coming. But it always comes perfectly, it just comes right mathematically perfect, because God is the One who is the great mathematician. He doesn’t come and say oops, the calendar changed and I’ve to adjust it. He comes exactly on the day that He’s supposed to come.
We’ve covered Daniel and Daniel’s decree. There’s one other thing we need to pick up. On page 80 in the notes, I want to deal with another problem that we get into as believers, and that is what about the thing that we hold in our lap. Is that the Word of God or isn’t it. It’s a struggle, Christians have struggled with this. Notice the doctrinal statement of the church. Our doctrinal statement does what most doctrinal statements do when they talk about the Word of God; they say we believe in the inspired Bible in the original autographs. That’s correct as far as it goes. The problem is how do we know what we got approximates the autographs. It’s great to know the Word of God came, you know, 1900 years ago with sinners and the Apostle Paul wrote it, but how do we deal with the problem of textual variations? That’s the issue we’re going to talk about now.
I’ll tell you why I spent time addressing this. This isn’t just a seminary; this is because Islam attacks right here. The Moslems attack the Christians this way. The Muslim argues that they have direct lineage back to AD 600 on their text because it was written in Arabic, and it was passed on by scholars who took it right from Mohammed, there’s no breaks in it, etc. But you Christians, you don’t have a line of text, you just got surviving manuscripts here and there, and the Bible’s contaminated. What you hold in your lap, is it the Word of God? It’s just a shredded version of it. So we need the Koran, the Koran has superior power to the Bible because the Koran has a textual lineage that we can touch, taste and handle; we know for certain.
Let me back up one step before we get into this. You might not always get this from a Muslim; you can get this from an ordinary person on the street, secular humans. They’ll argue well, you can’t really be sure that what you guys have in there, that Bible thing that you’ve got, you can’t be sure that that’s the way it was originally, after all, 1900 years have come and gone since that text was written, how can you be sure of that. A quick turnaround, remember we said it gets back to martial arts and judo, one of the techniques in judo is you take the guy’s punch and pull it further and make him work against himself. It’s the same shrewd deal you can work with apologetics. If you really are convinced that we don’t have the original text of the Bible that must also mean we don’t have the original text of Aristotle, we don’t have the original text of Plato, we don’t have the original text of any other historical book. So fine, dump the Bible out and dump all the rest of the books out too. Why are you bothering studying all those books then?
The textual evidence behind the Scripture is much better. Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict gives you the references of the text. What we want to deal with is the overall concept of what happened in the closing years of Israel because here’s where the text problem started. The reason is that the Old Testament ended here. With Malachi the Old Testament was closed. No further text, it’s ended, terminated, over and out! No more revelation. For 400 years, no revelation, no prophets, no word from God, only the surviving texts of these prophets.
On page 80, “When God ceased speaking to humanity through Israel in the fifth century BC, there began a four-century period of divine ‘silence’ with a total absence of verbal revelation and confirming miracle. Several evidences support this statement. Not one of the many books written during this period of the silence of God ever was considered as inspired Scripture worthy of being included in the Old Testament canon. Other evidences show that the people themselves knew there was a silence. In 164 BC, for example, when Judas Maccabeus wanted to cleanse Antiochus’ abominations from the Temple, he and the priests tried to decide what to do,” and here’s a quote and I italicized a little section in the quote so you can see how the Jews thought 160 years before Jesus. They’re dealing with a problem, they don’t have any prophets, they don’t have any text, but they’re conscious of that. See what’s so interesting. Look at that last sentence that he writes? “So they tore down the altar, and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell them what to do.” How did they know that?
Let me say that again so we make sure we understand the implications of that italicized part of that sentence. The very fact that they know they didn’t have a prophet tells you that they knew when these prophets were operating, because they knew when they weren’t operating. Something about the real thing convinced the people, and they knew intuitively, in spite of the fact that Judas Maccabeus was a great Jewish leader, he could have qualified to have been the Messiah, this guy knocked off some of the ugliest people in history. If you ever want to read 1 Maccabees in the Catholic Bible, it’s a neat book, a tremendous story of Jewish history. In that Judas could have become a Messiah, he delivered his people. But he himself knew that he wasn’t the Messiah and not only did he know that he wasn’t the Messiah, he knew he couldn’t even claim to be. Not only that, he knew there wasn’t even a prophet around. That’s how they spoke. These are his words, we’re not making this up, these are his own words.
What do we say then? A principle grows out of this, we studied it last year but it comes to dramatic focus here. You can’t have Scripture written without a living prophet. Those two go together. Let me take it another way backwards. This is what is wrong with people in evangelical circles who talk today about this prophet, the gift of prophecy is operating. If the gift of prophecy is operating today, where’s Revelation 23? The gift of prophecy functions to generate the Word of God in Scripture. That’s the way it always has. We’ve got the record here; it goes back a while, two or three thousand years of tradition. Why all of a sudden are we getting jerked all around and saying now the prophetic gift doesn’t do it? It always used to, what changed here? So when we see these two, put these two words together in your head, it’ll save you grief, believe me, because you’ll hear people make these inane remarks and don’t think what they’re saying.
If the Old Testament text ended here, what do we do between the Old Testament and the Lord Jesus Christ? That’s all we’re going to deal with. We’re not going to between the end of the Old Testament and us; we’re going to deal between the end of the Old Testament and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we have a period of about 400 years. How do we know that the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles had the Old Testament text? It’s the same question that we’re being asked. How do we have the New Testament text? Well how did the Lord Jesus Christ have the Old Testament text? It hadn’t been written for 400 years. It goes back to manuscripts.
I’m going to draw a diagram. Here is the family tree that’s the best that can be reconstructed of what happened to the Old Testament writers. Visualize this as a map of the Near East, here you have Israel and over here you have Babylon, and Egypt. So you had three centers of the Jewish community. The people over here were very, very faithful to keep writing the text, for reasons which we’ll go into later. These people are called the Masoretes. They preserved a tradition of Old Testament texts that translators used to translate to the English version. Jews that went down into Egypt had a Hebrew text also, but what happened to it people don’t know, but they went ahead and translated it into Greek, which is the Septuagint. Sometimes you’re reading and you’ll see a roman numeral LXX, that’s the symbol for that Bible. It was a pop version of the Old Testament for the street. They spoke Greek, they’d forgotten their Hebrew, they didn’t speak Hebrew anymore; Greek was the language of the world at the time. So they translated that Hebrew text into Greek.
Along comes Qumran, in 1948 an exciting story of a little Arab boy that was throwing rocks, boys always throw rocks, and he heaved this rock up into those caves up in Qumran, and he’s used to hearing it go clunk, clunk, clunk, and one day he heaved the rock up and it made a funny noise. So he walked into the cave and saw these pots, and the rock had hit down inside one of these urns. So he started rummaging around, he got his dad and uncle involved, and the first thing we know is they discovered some texts in there, Old Testament texts, ancient texts of the Old Testament, that were buried by the Qumran community. This is 1948. The text dates from 100 BC. The text had been sitting there for 2,000 years in these urns. So now we have the Dead Sea scrolls, so we’ve got three things here. We’ve got the Babylonian text, we’ve got the Dead Sea scroll text, and we’ve got this Greek text that had a Hebrew text behind it.
Verse of Isaiah
Text (ca. AD 980)
Isaiah Scroll A
(ca. 125 BC)
(ca. 200 BC)
|1||on whom||to whom||to whom|
|3||man of sorrows
known by grief
he was despised
|man of sorrows
we despised him*
|man in calamity
he was despised
|4||he has borne*||he has borne*||He has borne|
|5||by his wound||by his wounds||by his wound|
|Differences in textual readings for Isaiah 53:1-5 between the modern Masoretic text and the Palestinian text of Qumran and the LXX.
* refers to spelling differences;
** means synonym used.
Now let’s test. That’s what I do on the chart on page 82. Let’s look at how these texts differ. Everybody says oh, there are big differences in the text. Let’s see what the big differences are.
I have chosen a very interesting passage of Scripture, Isaiah 53. I’ve taken five verses of Isaiah 53 and I’ve gone through all three of those texts. The Hebrew Masoretic text, you’ll see dates on that table, notice the date on Hebrew Masoretic Text is AD 980; you say wait a minute, AD 980. Yes, that’s the oldest that we have of this textual tradition, this Babylonian text type. The earliest manuscript we’ve got is AD 980, which makes an interesting text. How many years difference between the Masoretic text and the Qumran text, its date is 125 BC? The Hebrew text that we have existing is AD 980. That’s a thousand years between those two texts. Absolutely true, it’s over a thousand years. The Greek Septuagint dates from 200 BC. Where do you suppose we get sources for the Septuagint, that [can’t understand word] from Jesus day, because He quotes from it. So our Greek text of the New Testament has embedded in it the Septuagintal text. It has other texts too but it has that.
Here are the BIG differences that people talk about between these texts. In verse 1, one says “on whom,” the other one says “to whom,” and the other one says “to whom,” a prepositional difference in the text. In verse 2 where I have an asterisk on “form*” you know, “without form or comeliness,” we know that reference, the asterisk refers to a spelling difference, no change in the words, it’s just spelled differently. On the second word in verse 2, “comeliness,” the double asterisks means there’s a synonym, another noun was substituted for “comeliness,” it means the same thing. The other one, “see him*” and “see him*” is a spelling difference; “desire him*” and “desire him*” a spelling difference, but the Greek Septuagint reconstructs that sentence and makes “desire” the verb into an adjective, adjectivally.
Notice in verse 3 where the text reads “man of sorrows,” “man of sorrows,” “man in calamity.” That’s the difference between the texts: “known by grief,” “knows grief,” “knows grief.” Then “he was despised,” “we despised him,” “he was despised.” (4) “he has borne” is just a spelling difference. That’s the kind of stuff you get into. That’s 90-95 % of the stuff that’s like that. I can bring in a Hebrew Bible and you can see all the little notes, and sometimes if you have a Greek text you’ll see the fine print down at the bottom; that’s giving you all these textual variations. Sometimes it’s interesting to pursue.
But out point in that there’s the evidence that something preserved the text. On page 82 read that text with me. “Exactly how there came to be a fairly standard Old Testament text in Christ’s time is not well understood. Apparently Ezra began a movement to ‘update’ the Old Testament text into the language of the people.” Where did Ezra live? Babylon, or Palestine? He was one that came to Palestine. If you look up in Nehemiah 8:1, 2, 8, he is explaining the text to the people, meaning he was popularizing it and translating it because some of the archaic expressions he was smoothing out. That’s what that means in Nehemiah 8. “Scribes after him copied his text-type, portions which show up at Qumran and which may form the forerunner of the Greek translation in Egypt of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint (LXX). While this copying was going on in Palestine and Egypt among the restoration remnant of Jews, other Jews still in Babylon also faithfully copied the Old Testament text. Eventually, the Babylonian text-type came West to Palestine and was selected” by somebody, “as the ‘standard’ text for many books of Scripture.”
One little added note, we’ll get into this in the in the doctrine next week, but what happened was that that standardization occurred among the rabbis, and they chucked all the other texts. They decided, they must have had a conference, it’s suspected this is what happened, they had a conference and they said this is confusing, we’ve got people with this text, that text, we’re going to standardize it, and they chose the Babylonian text-type and chucked everything else. The interesting thing was, that happened after Jesus Christ and the apostles. Which means, and here’s the neat thing, we’ll draw a doctrinal conclusion from this later, when Jesus walked the face of this earth with the apostles, the text of the Old Testament varied more than it does today, because when they walked the face of the earth they had three translations. We today have only one left.
So they had to deal with this. They had three different textual traditions. Do you find stress in the New Testament Bible when they’re quoting the Old Testament? [They] just alluded to it, quoted it, they quote all three. There are evidences of the Qumran text quoted, evidences of the Greek Septuagint quoted in the Bible, evidences of the Masoretic text quoted. They appeared to be totally oblivious or could care less what text type they used. This should say something to us when we get uptight about translation material. That’s the way it was, I’m not saying that translation isn’t important, we’ll get into that, but I want you to see that the text on the one hand is very well preserved; on the other hand it does have variations that are perfectly acceptable to Jesus and the Apostles.
Next week we’re going to get to the conclusion of this period, we’re going to start tying it together in the form of certain doctrines, and obviously the first doctrine we’re going to deal with on page 83 is the doctrine of canonicity, particularly the preservation of the canon. We’ll pull this together and draw some conclusions.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s also the passage that talks about tongues and prophecies, and they shall cease or not cease, and when it’s going to cease, has it ceased already or is it the conclusion of the Church Age. But what I’m getting at is that generally speaking your more biblically informed people that hold to the prophetic gift operating today are careful to qualify it as not being identical to the Old Testament gift. They have to, because if they’re sloppy about that identification, we’ve got a real problem here, because what they have to shy away from is making prophetic statements that are infallible. That’s the corollary. If you really have a gift of prophecy the way the Old Testament people had, when the Holy Spirit worked with those prophets it was inerrant all the way. It was a direct revelation from God about history, etc. So your more biblically knowledgeable people, for example in the Pentecostal circles, that are really godly people, are very careful. What we have out there on the street level is a lot of sloppy talk about it, and that’s all I’m trying to correct, is the sloppy talk, because you can’t talk without defining terms carefully here, because you get into this.
Question asked: Clough replies: Oh yeah, that’s why in Hebrews 2 where it says the signs and wonders, etc. came on the apostles, and these are to apostles and prophets, it’s put together because of this act of Scripture being written. And the canon, when you get into the canon, that’s what the trouble is, and that’s what divides Protestants from Catholics on this point. Catholics argue… see, there’s a lot of issues that come together here, it’s not just a peripheral thing.
Here’s the difference, the two lines of argument. The Roman Catholic Church has argued since AD 400–500, and as Protestants… I’d say that’s when the Roman Catholic Church started, not at AD 100 but at AD 400-500. Their argument is that it was the Church that gave the world the Bible; it came out of the Church. Then if the Church gave the world the Bible, then that puts the Church as the custodian of the Bible, the interpreter of the Bible, see how it flows, therefore the ultimate authority over what the Bible says because the Church gave it. Now the Protestant counter to that logic is look at the Old Testament, did the Old Testament Bible come out of Israel or did it not? Yes it did. The Old Testament text came out from Israel. Do we then argue that Israel was in authority over the Old Testament? Clearly not because all the prophets were saying when they preached the Word of God, Israel you have departed from the Scripture. What is the standard in the Old Testament to which Israel is held accountable? It is the Old Testament text. And whereas yes, Moses was part of Israel and God worked through Moses to give the text, and in that sense yes, the text came through Israel. But once the text came into existence, that text took authority over Israel.
In the New Testament, can anybody think of the passage where this very argument happened? It’s a New Testament epistle, and it’s that text where Paul says I wrote Scripture, (I’m paraphrasing) I wrote the Scripture and if I give you another Scripture, what am I? It’s from Galatians 1, he says if I or an angel from heaven come and teach another gospel than that which you’ve already been taught, what happens? It’s cursed. Just think of what he said there. If he reversed himself, he would be cursed. So once the Scripture comes into existence they are locked up; it’s like concrete. The stuff comes out, it hardens, it sets up and that’s it, you can’t change it. So if you want a picture, concrete is a good picture of this, that it just sets up and once it sets up that’s it.
There’s the difference philosophically between the Protestant position and the Catholic position on the Scriptures, and everything else flows out of that. That’s why when we talked about Genesis, and Roman Catholicism has never had a problem with creation, no, because they’ve had the capabilities within their logic of constantly reinterpreting Genesis to accommodate science. Rome has done back flips accommodating the Scriptures. And it began in the Middle Ages because Thomas Aquinas, the chief of all Roman Catholic theologians basically assumed Aristotle’s philosophy and married the Scriptures to it. So you have Aristotle and the Bible become dual in their authority, Aristotle being a picture of man, the natural man’s reasoning. So you have the natural man’s reasoning unto which we add. Thomas Aquinas’ argument was that a human being comes to God-consciousness through their unaided mind and then after that we add to that Jesus. The Church comes along and adds to that core that’s there prior to the Church doing it.
That’s why I keep using this illustration about the interior decorator, when you order it the bulldozer arrives, not the interior decorator. That’s my way of trying to fight that argument of saying that no, the natural man is a fool, and that’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 1, he’s a fool; we’re foolish. Therefore we don’t start with the natural man, we start with the Word of God, and if we don’t start with the Word of God we never end up with the Word of God. It’s got to be start and finish with the Word of God. That requires a text. That’s why we fight so hard in fundamental circles for the text. Why are we always arguing about the text? Why are there arguments in Christian books, arguments about what translation is best? The world looks at that and they think what screwy people, why are they worried about the text for? The text is the Word of God, that’s why we’re worried about it. We have a legitimate reason to be concerned with it; we have a legitimate reason to worry about translations, or whether the translators were playing fun and games with the vocabulary to get a point across here and there. We want to know that.
So the text is extremely important to us in the fundamental camp. You can’t have faith in the Word of God if we don’t have access to the Word of God. That’s why in history you can well imagine, after I gave you those two views of the text, this is why if you want to read about Huss and Wycliffe, why did the Church burn those guys? Just think about it. Why were the religious authorities ticked off that these guys were translating the text in the language of the people? Because if the people got access to the Word of God, what didn’t they then need? They did not need an intermediary priesthood, in a sense they would always need a priesthood for prayer and ministerial ways, but they wouldn’t need a priest in the sense that the priest became an essential gap. To get to God you had to go through the priest. That link was violated the moment people had the text. So translating the Bible was a revolutionary act. It was an act of total defiance of the authorities.
This is why, to this day, it’s fascinating, I work in a prison ministry, and in the penal system, it’s just because it’s a human system and I’m not picking on the people that run it, it’s just that they’re humanists like the rest of our society, and they had this thing about the danger of inmates getting together and studying the Bible. You can walk along the halls and see Playboy, excuse me, we can have pornographic literature, that’s okay but that Bible, boy that really is a hot dangerous document, you’ve got to watch it. It is, because the Bible is a dangerous document, they have it right there. It’s perverted in how they think it’s dangerous, but you’ve got to believe it’s a dangerous book.
So wherever the text is honored simultaneously with a high honoring of the text you’ll have a fear of it. The Roman Catholic position is that people shouldn’t have the Bible, this is old Catholicism, before Vatican II, that people shouldn’t have the Bible because they’d get confused. Yes, there are confusing passages of Scripture, but you can read the Gospel of John and it really isn’t that confusing. What’s confusing is confusing people who have believed in salvation by works and suddenly they read in the text salvation by grace; that’s what’s confusing. The battle over the Scripture is a primary battleground.
Question asked: Clough replies: That actually was a choice that Rome made to adopt the Septuagint as their control. Those books that the Catholic Church has were Jewish books that the Septuagint kind of tacked on when the Jews translated their Bible. They included those, you can buy the Septuagint in a book store today, it’s not Catholic documents, it’s prior to Rome. And it’s the Hebrew translation into Greek and they tacked on all those books in there, that’s the silent period. But the problem is that when the Jews themselves fixed their own canon officially, when his text thing got settled, they never accepted that. They themselves rooted those things out. Those things were considered to be wonderful reading, they were nationalistic literature, they are fascinating literature. If you haven’t read 1 Maccabees you’ve just got to read it, it’s an adventure story. It’s a neat story. It is to Israel, I guess, what the Texas Alamo is to Texas, it’s a story of the valiant fight for their freedom. It’s a neat story.
Also, it would be good for you to read it for the reason that there you have a probably what’s going to happen under the antichrist, because the man in history who most closely approximates the future antichrist is the Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanies, and if you want to study what the antichrist looks like, his personality, his political beliefs, how he operates, read the biography of Antiochus because he’s a slick dude. This guy went in there and he was humanitarian, he gave money to all kinds of people, he was ecumenical, he believed in accepting everybody and anybody, he was very cordial. He wasn’t Mr. Horns with a pitchfork, he was a nice guy, except you didn’t want to cross him, then he got ugly. And what he did is he insisted that all religions get together. Guess what one religion didn’t get together in 200 BC, with all the pagans? The Jews.
There’s some ways they didn’t get together, they refused to operate in the coliseum in athletic contests naked, they refused to eat pork, they insisted on blood sacrifices to Jehovah God. They insisted that there was only one God, Jehovah, and all others were phony. This exclusivity of the Jews infuriated Antiochus Epiphanies, absolutely infuriated him, drove this guy crazy and he could not stand the fact that there was this group of people, these hard-nosed right wing religious extremists, who absolutely refused to go along with it, they were so antisocial, they couldn’t be cordial to other people, they couldn’t accept other people’s beliefs, they were these bigots. And Antiochus considered it his role in life to get rid of the bigots. And the bigots were the Jews, they were the Bible people. He went after them.
The story of the counter attack of Judas Maccabeus whose name means “the hammer,” and he decided that he and his family lived in this town, and one day he saw the Jewish priest, like the Vichy French kowtowing to the authorities, and he said I’m going to stop this, and he killed him and said you put blood on the altar and I’ll put your blood on the altar. And he started a revolution. It’s a neat story in 1 Maccabees.
To get back to the question, the reason that’s in there is because the Jews liked that literature, it was supplementary to the Old Testament. When Rome decided to accept Old Testament Canon, they took over the Jewish pop literature. The Protestants, however, said wait a minute, we go back to the official Jewish Canon. What we have in the Protestant Bible is the official Jewish version of the Old Testament. What Catholicism has is more the popular version that has those other documents in it. Frankly we use those other documents in Bible study. Those other documents are very handy. 1 Maccabees is a great book to find out Greek words and how they were used because they’re later, closer to Jesus time, so a lot of good word studies come out of them, and a lot of good history. The problem is there’s false doctrine in them. Prayers to the dead, you say where does Rome get prayers to the dead? Out of these books. I think it’s Judith, one of the books, they’re praying for the dead, so that’s where that teaching comes out of.
The context, remember we said how do you tell a prophet writer? What’s one of the tests? Deuteronomy 13, theological consistency. There are no prayers to the dead in the Old Testament. Where’s this stuff coming from? It’s just amalgamation, partial restoration, intermarriage, Jews/Gentiles; they all got mixed together and got all these crazy beliefs. That’s what happened in that period of silence, so false doctrine came in through those books.
Question asked: Clough replies: From the divine viewpoint there’s only one answer, the sovereignty of God, because they were so hated … Jeremiah had to rewrite the text, the texts were destroyed repeatedly. The textual transmission was as fragile as the lineage of Solomon. At one point the Solomonic line was down to a six-year old that the nurses were hiding in the temple to keep him from getting assassinated. When Josiah the king came into power, they couldn’t find any Scripture. He discovered Scripture hidden underneath a drawer somewhere, and he pulled it out and he about croaked, because he realized, boy, I’m the king of this kingdom, this is what we’re supposed to be following, we’ve got a big reform effort to do. So Josiah, the very reaction you get in Kings when Josiah found the Scripture he was terrified. Well if he was terrified it means he must never have seen it before in his life. This is the king who didn’t even have the Bible.
An Old Testament professor once told the class I was and I think these are wise words, to kind of visualize the process. When you and I read the Old Testament we kind of get a fake image in one sense, of Israel, because we are looking at the nation through the eyes of the prophets. If we could take a time machine and go back without that, we would have an utterly different view of Israel. We’d go down the street, they’d be talking about Baal, we’d see pagan practices going on and we’d say this is the people of God? This is the distinct society that God had got through Abraham, excuse me. We would be kind of shocked to see what really was going on. So when we do read this, this is the purified refined version of what really happened.
The only analogy I can think of that would make sense to us as Americans is all the time I was in school, high school and college; I got deceived with a steady diet, diatribes against the religious bigotry of the New England colonies. It was constant. Arthur Miller’s play, they always had Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, always had to do that; all Arthur Miller did was marry Marilyn Monroe, I don’t know why they had to put his play on again and again in English class, but this is the big drama. Well, it’s a big drama simply because he gouges the Puritans. That’s why it’s a big drama. The English departments know this. By getting the kids involved in The Crucible, oh, good American play… it’s a phony thing, it’s an absolute total assault on the Puritans.
The best antidote to that is read the Puritans. You can go to a library and get, for example, Cotton Mather’s The Invisible War and read that. He was the pastor in Boston while all this stuff was supposed to go on. You read what Cotton Mather is talking about there. He had some real problems and the Puritan pastors were trying to stop some of this massacring, and it was hysteria that went in. They wouldn’t listen to pastors. Don’t blame it on the pastors, they’ve lost control, they wouldn’t even listen. So the best antidote is to read the Puritans own writings, then you can figure out whose right in all this. But that’s too close to the Bible, we don’t bring that in. It’s original source material that gives you this tool.
As far as a summary of the answer, it was a very tenuous existence and we are so used to carrying around the Scripture without any recrimination, without any restrictions. We get so used to it. This is unusual in history, to be able to do what we’re doing here tonight. This is unusual. Most people don’t have the text, the Scripture, or another area they’re not permitted to have the text of Scripture. Think of what life would be like in Iran right now, today, 1998. Do you think we’d be doing this in Iran? Somalia maybe? We wouldn’t be doing this. This is a privilege that we have. That’s why the Word of God is such a wonderful thing, and we have to honor it and thank our God for preserving it through all this and giving us the freedom, at least for a while that we can read it.