Jesus the Shaman – Soul Retrievals – Chris Dierkes

jesus heals jairus daughter
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him…While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5: 21-24, 35-43).

Continuing our exploration of Jesus-as-Shaman: Soul Retrievals are yet another common form of shamanic healing. The idea behind soul retrievals is that through certain traumatic events, people may experience the loss of a part of their soul. It’s as if that part of the soul breaks off and is lost. The shaman journeys to retrieve this lost part of the soul and return it to the person. This is typically enacted by the shaman blowing the retrieved soul-piece back into the heart, the mouth, and/or the top of the head of the person.

I read this story of Jesus’ as a soul retrieval. While everyone else thinks the young girl is dead, Jesus intuits she is sleeping–i.e. she might be in a coma. The barrier between death and life is thinner than people believe. Even in our own day with advanced technology, it actually be difficult to determine when someone is actually fully dead. (Please – no Princess Bride references!) Death is more a process not an end state…death isn’t an on/off switch.

In other words, I don’t think Jesus has brought this girl back from the dead. Rather I think he’s retrieved her soul and this has re-animated her – animate coming from animus/anima, meaning soul.

The story does not include any specific mention of Jesus going into a trance or journeying to retrieve the soul, as is usual in shamanic literature. It is common, however, that when a soul retrieval journey is undertaken that family members can be there in the room with the shaman as in this story.

Jesus speaks directly to the girl – very close to her body. Since he takes her by the hand and she is laying down, presumably Jesus is seated next to her or bending down. The breath that blows“Talitha Kum” would go right into the girl’s face and in particular, her mouth. This is classic soul retrieval technique. The words Talitha Kum might then be what shamans call “power words.” They are words that effect what they say. Talitha Kum (Rise up, little girl) is not simply a didactic command from Jesus, like someone telling you to close the door. He is calling her to awakened reality. The words have force and spirit behind them and effect the ‘waking’ up of the girl.

touching jesus cloak

This hypothesis is bolstered by the fact that there is an intervening story between the announcement of the girl’s illness and her supposed death. An old woman who has suffered from a disease for 12 years (note the girl is referenced as being 12 years old) touches Jesus’ cloak and she is instantly healed. Jesus whirls around and notices that “power had gone out from him.” This power is shamanic energy. And he can feel that some went out of him, just as a Reiki healer can feel when the flow of Reiki passes through his/her hands.

As with the healings and the exorcisms, we see here a potential for good work in our day. Persons who have experienced highly traumatic events – car crashes, war zones, child abuse, and more – may seem after the trauma that they are never “quite themselves.” People say that something is missing – the look in their eyes is vacant somehow. Soul Retrievals are often required in such cases, but since our society does not recognize these modalities as valid, people suffer.

As with exorcisms, soul retrievals can be beneficial for all kinds of individuals, whether they have been through highly traumatic events or not.

Coming next week in the Jesus the Shaman series: Jesus the Psychopomp.

chrisChris Dierkes is a long time student and practitioner of the Christ-consciousness mystical path. After receiving his MDiv., Chris worked in parish ministry for three years (Anglican Church of Canada) and now maintains a private practice in interspiritual soul work. In addition Chris has studied energy healing, intuitive arts, and shamanic practice. He writes frequently on subjects of spirituality in the contemporary world. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Chloe and their daughter Sage. You can check out his writing and practice here.

The Last Days – When Were They?

The End of an Era

When were the last days?

This is a critical question to answer. Unless we have an accurate perception of “the last days,” we cannot make a proper application of prophecy. Missing the timing of Scripture’s ‘last days’ will lead us to false conclusions about the events of those days. Missing the timing element of a prophecy will likely result in a misconception of its fulfillment. The reverse is also true. The Jewish people in the first century CE had a misconception of the manner in which their messianic prophecies would be fulfilled, which led them to a rejection of the timing factor as well. They knew it was time for Christ to come (Matthew 2:1-10), but since Christ was contrary to their expectation of the Messiah, they ignored the time element of prophecy. It was a fatal mistake for them to make. Likewise, many today have a misconception of the timing in which prophecy was to be fulfilled; therefore they now are blinded to the manner in which fulfillment actually transpired. They can’t see what has happened because they won’t allow themselves to think that biblical prophecy might be in our collective rear-view mirror.

The Traditional View

A common application of the last days is to the “gospel dispensation.” Albert Barnes writes, in regard to the last days of Hebrews 1:2, “In this final dispensation; or in this dispensation under which the affairs of the world will be wound up…They do not imply that the world was coming to an end, but that that was the last dispensation, the last period of the world.” (Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament: Hebrews, pp. 22-23)

Adam Clarke gives two possible meanings of the last days: “The gospel dispensation, called the last days and the last time, because it is not to be followed by any other dispensation; or the conclusion of the Jewish church and state now at their termination.” (Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Hebrews, p. 686.) Why have people concluded that the last days refer to the gospel dispensation? One reason is that many assume – erroneously – that the Jewish age came to a close on Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (see Acts 2). This is assumed on the basis that Pentecost was the beginning of the Christian age. The problem here lies in a failure to see the overlapping period of these two ages or dispensations. Ishmael and Isaac co-existed in Abraham’s house for a time before Ishmael was cast out.

The Jewish age did not end until their city, temple, and state fell under Roman invasion in A.D. 66-73. The question in Matthew 24:3:

What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?

was not referring to the end of a “gospel age” that had not yet been inaugurated, but to the end of the Jewish age. Matthew 24 is devoted to that event, and Christ plainly said:

Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
(Matthew 24:34).

We have seen in Daniel that the “end” involved the Roman destruction of the Jewish temple, the city, and the people. Then, and not until then, did the end of that age come.

Mistaken Identity

If we assume that the New Testament writers were fully enjoying the new age that was to come, we can easily get confused when they write of “this age” and the “age to come,” and assume they are referring to a “Christian age” and some future age that we still have not seen. While Pentecost was, in a sense, the beginning of a Christian (or New Covenant) age, we are better off viewing this time as a transition period, a bridge of sorts between two ages – one that was fading away and one that was coming to the fore. In this case, the New Testament writers are consistent in their reference to the waning Old Covenant age and the New Covenant age of the kingdom of God that was even then breaking in. The New Testament writers spoke of this kingdom as a world or age to come, because the Old Covenant age had not yet ended at the time of their writings.

One such example is Ephesians 1:21:

Far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

The statement “this age” was in reference to the Old Covenant age, which had not yet ended, and the statement “that [age] which is to come” was a reference to the New Covenant age, which would abide and follow the end of the Old Covenant. The “last days” in Scripture, therefore, never apply to the Christian age, but always to the closing period of the Old Covenant age, which ran from Pentecost to the fall of Jerusalem.

The writer of Hebrews spoke of this New Covenant age in future tense, as seen in Hebrews 2:5: “For he has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” Here “the world to come” is that age under the complete dominion of Christ and stood in contrast to the age or world under ‘angelic’ administration, which, according to verses 1-3 refers to the Old Covenant age. The statement, “…but now we do not yet see all things put under him” (2:8), was made in view of the Jewish world which was still standing and contesting the right of Christ to rule over Israel. But this right and this complete dominion soon would fall unto him, for that which “is becoming obsolete and growing old” was ready to vanish away (Hebrews 8:13). His enemies would soon be made his footstool (Hebrews 10:13).

Therefore, the “world to come” was always in contrast to the Old Covenant age. It is used this way in Hebrews 6:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

Paul expresses their hope of redemption and deliverance from the Old Covenant age in Galatians 1:4, “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

On Solid Ground

The last days period, then, is the closing period of the Old Covenant age during which the New Covenant (Isaac) was born, and at the end of which the New Covenant was brought to maturity, and Ishmael was cast out. In his commentary on Hebrews 1:2, Robert Milligan presents three different views of the last days: “It is alleged (1) that they refer simply to the closing period of the Jewish age (Moll), (2) that they refer exclusively to the Christian age (Stuart), and (3) that they refer to the closing period of the prophetic era, embracing both the ministry of Christ and of his Apostles (Luther).” (Milligan , Robert. Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 49, 50.)

Milligan favored the first view, but because he thought the Old Covenant age ended at the cross, he confines the “speaking of Christ” to his personal ministry. This limitation is unnecessary. Christ was God’s spokesman through the apostles’ ministry as well as his own (Hebrews 2:3; John 13:20). Since the Old Covenant age did not end until the fall of Jerusalem, we can have Christ as God’s spokesman in the last days in his personal ministry as well as the ministry of the apostles.

Join us next week as we explore how ‘the last days’ are related to the often-misunderstood ‘return’ or parousia of Christ.

And be here each week as we blog through The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King, where this post is drawn from. (And if you get impatient, of course, you can always get the book inspiring these posts here.) Please feel free to weigh in below.

Jesus the Shaman – Exorcism – Chris Dierkes

jesus exorcist

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, ‘What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!’ And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.
(The Gospel of Luke Chapter 8, verses 31-36).

Mention the ‘e’ word (exorcism) and immediately images of Linda Blair’s 360 projectile vomiting come to mind, with priests holding crucifixes over her face yelling “The Power of Christ Compels You!” Our culture’s Hollywood-esque fascination with the occult and paranormal is not helpful to understanding what’s going on here. As with the healing stories, the gospels play out the dramatic elements of exorcism stories. It makes for gripping drama but I think it has obscured this realm and prevented it from having a stronger foundation in society – and in spirituality particularly. In other words, while Jesus did perform exorcisms, they need not all be of such a violent nature as the one above.

Exorcisms are simply a subset of healing in shamanism – it’s simply a certain kind of healing. An exorcism is a healing of intrusive entities. It’s a cleansing of such entities (or quasi-entities) from one’s field. In Biblical language they are “cast out” of a person’s field.

A lot of work, among some, goes into identifying and categorizing such intrusions–creating gradations of demons, unclean spirits, and the like. There’s a cottage industry in asking where entities come from and how they glommed on to a person: are they from past lives, dead relatives, evil specters, etc. I think much of this is misplaced energy and attention. We don’t need to know the origin and ultimate meaning of such things to know how to respond to the actual issue at hand.

As the Buddha would say, in a different context, it’s as if someone shot with poisonous arrows was asking the doctor to explain the meaning of poison rather than simply extracting the arrows and the poison.

Intriguingly in the early Church persons studying to be baptized (called catechumens) received salt under their tongue. Salt is an element of an exorcism rite. At the time this practice began only adults could be baptized, though later when infants were able to baptized they too received the salt (correctly depicted in the final baptism/bloodbath scene in The Godfather, NSFW, 1:05 mark). The symbol points the belief that all of us had picked up various destructive energies that needed cleansing.

Today, however, exorcism is seen as this weird creepy realm of demonic possession. This area of inquiry could potentially be a fruitful one for mental health professionals. But again even suggesting that comes up against the rationalist bias of our contemporary world where all such realities are viewed as mental illness (typically seen as brain or chemical imbalances). I’m not suggesting all (maybe even most) forms of mental illness are caused by psychic disturbance but I have to imagine some must be. To be clear, I’m not advocating a crusade against psychiatry or advising people to go off their meds. It’s a really fine line. Certainly I can imagine situations in which a person already lacks a strong healthy personality and ego structure who then comes in contact with various spiritual energies could experience a split with reality (psychosis, schizophrenia, etc.).

Even more generally, all of us are in need of some degree of healing. We live in a crazy complex chaotic world that intrudes upon us and to which we add our own negativity. Processes of cleansing and repairing are therefore vital.

haida shamans

Nevertheless we have these stories, like the one above, from around the world, including a number concerning Jesus. This story exhibits common exorcist patterns from around the world and through time:

The intrusive entity (a much better name than ‘demon’) or entities know Jesus by name. This is not atypical. Shamans work on the level at which an intrusion has occurred and therefore there is an open line of communication between the healer and the intrusive energy or entity. Jesus both speaks to and hears the demon–interestingly the text simply says the demons “cried out in a loud voice”. It doesn’t specify whether this loud voice was physically audible to all or was only audible to Jesus in a healing-trance state. Contrary to The Exorcist, it’s typically the later.

It’s unclear whether the entity in question is singular or plural. The text says “an unclean demon” but then the demon speaks in the first person plural:

What have you to do with us?

The line between singular and plural, whether an intrusive reality is a full entity in the way we think of autonomous agents or whether it is more a kind of sub-entity or entity-like reality is often a bit unclear. What can appear at first to be a single intrusion can actually be hiding others.

The entity/entities are confused and scared. Rather than seeing all such entities as evil, we may learn to have compassion for them. The entities might be lost souls trapped between this world and the next. A number of exorcism stories in the gospels show this pattern: the entities ask Jesus not to hurt them.

Still while including a compassionate tone, there is a forceful act of extracting the intrusive entity (i.e. the exorcism proper). Jesus’ method for this seems to be direct commands:

Be silent and come out of him.

Other traditions speaks of coaxing or persuading the entities to come out from the person’s field. The exorcist in this case tries to persuade the often scared or confused entity into trusting the exorcist, following his/her voice out of the person and typically residing in another reality temporarily (e.g. a crystal). The crystal might then be placed in a fire to purify and release the entity to journey on.

Elsewhere, Jesus commands an exorcised entity not to return. He then warns of the possibility that a person could be healed but other intrusions return worse than in the original case. These aren’t simply symbolic sayings but sound to me like actual shamanic wisdom. For this very reason, shamans have rituals to protect the previously intruded-upon person to make sure they are safe in the future and do not experience a repeat intrusion.

While again not necessary, it is common for there to be uncontrolled physical spasms that take place during the extrication process – in the story above the healed person jerks and falls down but as the story makes clear, this occurred without the man being harmed. This is a typical occurrence, not just in extraction work but in healings more generally: when traumas stored in the body are released they can cause temporary physical or energetic spasming or emotional releases (e.g. spontaneous, uncontrollable crying).

Coming next week in the Jesus the Shaman series: Jesus and Soul Retrieval.

chrisChris Dierkes is a long time student and practitioner of the Christ-consciousness mystical path. After receiving his MDiv., Chris worked in parish ministry for three years (Anglican Church of Canada) and now maintains a private practice in interspiritual soul work. In addition Chris has studied energy healing, intuitive arts, and shamanic practice. He writes frequently on subjects of spirituality in the contemporary world. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Chloe and their daughter Sage. You can check out his writing and practice here.

The Last Days – It’s Not the End of the World

Not the End of the World
The “last days” in Scripture are not literally the end of the world, but the last days of the Old Covenant world that was passing away. Words like “end,” “end of the age,” and “the Day of the Lord” are end-time expressions, but they need not be taken to mean the end of the corporeal universe. The Old Covenant world was coming to an end, to be replaced by a new world of everlasting righteousness. If we correctly perceive this end as signified by the fall of Jerusalem, we cannot push back expectation of “the second coming” to some future age or time. A careful study of “last days” passages reveals a remarkable consistency in the scriptural record.

The Bible is the story of God’s love for humanity and God’s work to restore the divine-human relationship. Like any story, this has a beginning, a climax and a conclusion. Within Scripture there is a complete unfolding of the mystery and purpose of God in the restoration of humanity and cosmos.

The end – or consummation of all things – was the subject of Old Testament prophecy, the heart of teaching in the Gospels and the Epistles, and the burden of the Revelation message:

But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as he declared to his servants the prophets (Revelation 10:7).

The book of Revelation is a description of the “end time” as foretold in the book of Daniel.

By “end time” we mean that time when the story of redemption reached its climax or fullness. It is not an end in the sense that there is nothing future, but it is the end or completion of a divine plan and purpose that now extends into the future, forming and shaping the destiny of all things. Just as the end of adolescence leads into maturity of life, the end of God’s mystery leads into a fullness of life that has no end.

The “last days” are the subject of the field we call “eschatology.” Eschatology, according to Webster, means: “the branch of theology dealing with the last things, such as death, resurrection, judgment, immortality, etc.” It is a term that is derived from a compound word in the Greek, namely: eschatos, which means “last” or “latter”; and logos, meaning “discussion” or “doctrine.” Thus, it means a doctrine or discussion of last things.

It often is assumed that “last things” refer to the end of the space-time universe, and that the Bible contains a great deal of arcane information about that end. This is simply not the case. The end in question is the end of God’s plan for restoration, and while that restoration clearly needs to be more fully experienced by humanity, the plan for that restoration has reached completion.

Figure 5

 ‘The End,’ in Other Words

Other terms or expressions that apply to the “last days” are these:

  1. End. This word carries the idea of “the final outcome” and therefore is used in connection with the consummation of things as predicted by the prophets. Jesus used it in this manner: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Paul used it in a similar way, “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father; when he puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24); Peter uses it in the same way as well: “But the end of all things is at hand…” (1 Peter 4:7).
  2. End of the age. The Greek word Aion, which means “age” and is sometimes translated “world,” appears in many passages dealing with the consummation of all things. Jesus uses it this way: “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (Matthew 13:40 – see also Matthew 24:3). Paul uses it like this: “Far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21- see also Matthew 12:32 and Mark 10:30). In these passages we have two worlds or ages in contrast: “this age” (world) and the “age (world) to come.”
  3. The Day of the Lord. This expression appears in many eschatological prophecies, and has reference to the last days or end of the age. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted the prophet Joel and left no question as to the time of fulfillment. “This is that,” he said, “which was prophesied by the prophet Joel.” The prophecy in question was from Joel 2:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh…

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Acts 2:17, 20, quoting Joel 2:28-30).

John, in his vision of the Lord’s day, makes this same application:

I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair and the moon became like blood…

For the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand? (Revelation 6:12, 17).

Joel and Peter call it the “last days” and “the great and awesome day of the Lord.” John describes it as “the great day of his wrath,” and asks: “Who is able to stand?” Joel also writes, “…for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:11). Each of these writers was writing about the same event, or series of events, and the same time of fulfillment. The following is a list of other scriptures dealing with the day of the Lord:

Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble; But he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:7).

Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4.5).

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night… (2 Peter 3:10).

The last day, the end of the world or age, and the day of the Lord all blend into the same time period of fulfillment.

Join us next week as we continue this ground-breaking study of a faithful God, fulfilled Story, and wide-open future!

And be here each week as we blog through The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King, where this post is drawn from. (And if you get impatient, of course, you can always get the book inspiring these posts here.) Please feel free to weigh in below.

Jesus the Shaman – Healings – Chris Dierkes

Jesus Healing

They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’ And the man looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then Jesus sent him away to his home saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’
(Gospel of Mark, Chapter 8, verses 22-26).

Last week we began examining Jesus-as-shaman. There are a number of classic shamanic healing elements to this story.

First, Jesus takes the man away from the village to a secluded place. Healers like to work alone. While Jesus does not always do this – he does sometimes heal in front of crowds – generally he tries to create private space for the healing act. He is not interested in gaining personal notoriety (see last verse).

Second, he uses spit. The use of natural elements in healing rituals is commonplace: e.g. stones, saliva, water, fire, smoke, etc.

Third, the man’s healing did not quite take at first. Often healings require multiple go rounds, even apparently for Jesus. Or perhaps the man was unable to interpret his new-found sight.

Fourth, Jesus holds conversation with the man – asking him to participate in his own healing process.

Can you see anything?

It’s crucial that the one who is receiving healing also partakes in the process – though to a lesser degree no doubt than the healer.

One of the reasons the healing stories in the gospels have caused controversy is they come from an era prior to modern medicine. Contemporary healing work must make a clear distinction between healing and curing. Healing does not equate to curing (though in the gospel stories it must be said they tend to be conflated). People may work with healers on an energetic level – with unprocessed emotions or past wounds – and they may receive healing but they aren’t necessarily cured in any sense. Healings may have curative physical effects but such physical manifestations need not take place in order for genuine healing to have occurred. I say this in response to the medical establishment’s studies on, say, prayer and healing which define healing solely as curing.

This is a particularly relevant topic in disability theology. Blind people or folks in wheelchairs often groan when these miraculous healing stories are read in church. They’re afraid some perhaps well-meaning but ignorant fellow church-goer will ask them when they’re going to get healed. Or worse, assume that the person’s physical challenge is a sign of their lack of faith.

So we need to be clear that there’s work to be done through healing – these shamanic domains affords insight and resources not available to the rational mind. But this is not to be equated with magical curing.

Coming next week in the Jesus the Shaman series: Jesus and Exorcism.

chrisChris Dierkes is a long time student and practitioner of the Christ-consciousness mystical path. After receiving his MDiv., Chris worked in parish ministry for three years (Anglican Church of Canada) and now maintains a private practice in interspiritual soul work. In addition Chris has studied energy healing, intuitive arts, and shamanic practice. He writes frequently on subjects of spirituality in the contemporary world. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Chloe and their daughter Sage. You can check out his writing and practice here.

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks – Endings and Beginnings

New Covenant Beginnings
In this series, we’ve been exploring Daniel’s contribution to our understanding of fulfilled, or Covenant, eschatology. Last week we examined the unique, transitional role the ‘firstfruits’ Body of Christ played in ushering in the full ‘harvest’ of humanity into the reconciling presence of God. Now we’re ready to dive in to the first half of the six blessings God promised through Daniel to be fulfilled when the Old Covenant world drew to a close, preparing the way for God and humanity to walk together into an open future.

1. “To finish the transgression.” “To finish the transgression” is more properly translated “To restrain transgression.” Some render it “to close the defection.” We must keep in mind that Daniel’s prayer was on behalf of Israel’s transgressions.

Yes, all Israel has transgressed your law, and has departed so as not to obey your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against him” (Daniel 9:11).

In the new heaven and earth, which came in at the end of the seventieth week, transgression would be “finished” or “restrained.” Through the covenant of mercy, the curse of the law (Daniel 9:11) would be removed. The history of rebellion and transgression would come to an end, and the history of restoration would begin. Israel would come into a new state and relationship before God,

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

The curse would be removed from the city (Revelation 22:3).

Isaiah prophesied this as well:

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying (Isaiah 65:17-19).

2. “To make an end of sins.” This is also translated “to seal up sins.” The idea here is one of removing it from sight or from view. The expression seems to be taken from the custom of sealing up those things which one lays aside and conceals. Daniel confesses in his prayer that the sins of Israel were open and known by all, “…because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people are a reproach to all those around us” (Daniel 9:16). Ezekiel prophesies of the time when an end would be made of Israel’s sins,

For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.

Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:24-28).

This prophecy corresponds to the seventieth week of Daniel, and the new heaven and earth of Revelation 21.

3. “To make reconciliation for iniquity.” This also could be “to cover iniquity.” To “cover” sin carries connotations of pardon or forgiveness. The old sins of Israel would be atoned for and covered or forgiven by God.

We have here three things specified in regard to sin and what would happen at the end time. Sin would be restrained, sealed up, and covered. It would be a time of redemption, the blotting out, or taking away of Israel’s sins. It would happen at the end of the seventieth week of Daniel. This is the time that the old heaven and earth gives way to the new heaven and earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

We find further support of this timing of Israel’s redemption in New Testament Scriptures:

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

And that he may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,

Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-21).

We can see three things that were expected upon the coming of the Lord: the blotting out of sins, a time of refreshing, and the restoration of all things spoken by the prophets since the world began.

That your sins may be blotted out” is equal to Daniel’s prophecy of “Finishing transgression, making an end of sins, and reconciliation for iniquity” (Daniel 9:24). Daniel said it would happen at the end of the seventy weeks, and Luke said it would happen at the coming of Christ. We have already seen that these events are the same.

“Times of refreshing” likewise refers to the coming of Christ at the end of that age to restore true spiritual Israel, and plant them in the new heaven and earth. We can see a parallel with the period of “regeneration” Jesus refers to in Matthew 19:28, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of his glory….” It is the same coming, the same throne, and the same glory of Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.” This time of refreshing, (renewal or restoration) also is described in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel.

The “restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21) also applies to this same coming of Christ. All unfulfilled prophecy finds its fulfillment at the end of Daniel’s seventy weeks. The law would then be completely fulfilled, for it was a time of reformation or restoration:

It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience-

concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation (Hebrews 9:9-11).

The Scriptures seem to assume that this time – when heaven and earth would pass away – would bring a complete fulfillment of the law:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).

Again in the Gospels Christ says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:34-35). Luke likewise assigns the fulfillment of all things to the destruction of Jerusalem. “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22).

Another New Testament passage that assigns redemption to Israel at the end time is Romans 11:

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come out of Zion, And he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27).

The bringing in of the fullness of the Gentiles in verse 25 was accomplished in the period of time from Pentecost to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is the gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of Daniel, or the time that heaven received Christ until his coming again (Acts 3:19-21). The cutting off of the Messiah, or his rejection by the Jews, resulted in salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).

When would ungodliness be turned away from Jacob, or their sins be taken away? When Christ, the deliverer, came out of Zion. When did Christ come out of Zion? Not at his first coming, but at his second coming. Christ could not come out of Zion until after he had gone there. “Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion” (Psalms 2:6) – this happened at his ascension into heaven, (Acts 2). But he was received into heaven until the fullness of the Gentiles had come in. God’s people eagerly waited for this to happen, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). His second coming would be “apart from sin” and for the salvation of those that waited in readiness.

This picture of Christ’s coming out of Zion to cleanse Israel harmonizes with the prophecy of Joel:

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness.

The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again (Joel 3:14-17).

This too, is a prophecy of the end time of Daniel’s seventieth week. The darkening of the sun and moon is alluded to in Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12.

The shaking of the heavens and earth is found in Hebrews 12:26-29. This is the time when the Lord shall roar out of Zion and corresponds to Romans 11:26. Then, according to Joel and the writer of Hebrews, “Jerusalem shall be holy” (Joel 3:17). “But Judah shall abide forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted; for the Lord dwells in Zion” (Joel 3:20-21). Joel’s prophecy ends with Judah and Jerusalem dwelling safely in their own land – the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21:1-2 or the heavenly country sought by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Hebrews 11:16), which was promised to Abraham and his seed (Romans 4:13).

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He does not retain his anger forever, Because he delights in mercy.

He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from days of old. (Micah 7:18-20).

Join us next week as we continue this ground-breaking study of a faithful God, fulfilled Story, and wide-open future!

Join us each Monday as we blog through The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King, where this post is drawn from. (And if you get impatient, of course, you can always get the book inspiring these posts here.) Please feel free to weigh in below.

Jesus the Shaman – Chris Dierkes

Anima Mundi
In my long-running Integral theory and practice journal, Beams and Struts, I looked at the remnants of shamanic consciousness on contemporary fairy tale-based TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time. The journey into shamanic forms of experience and healing is one that I’ve found myself on in recent years, both for myself and those I work with. This has been an unexpected but beautiful turn in my life. Up until this switch, I had followed a path that would be characterized, in yogic terms, as one of bhakti (devotional practice), karma yoga (the path of service), and jnani yoga (the contemplative mind). These elements all remain rooted in my being but something else has developed more recently. Or at least something I’m now giving more time and attention to – which for lack of a better word I’ll call shamanic.

Shamanism includes things like kundalini energy or the experience of the chakras (especially the 6th, aka the third eye) and auras. It’s the seat of imagination, intuition, and what is often termed energy work. It’s also the home of The World Soul (Anima Mundi). This realm is often encountered through the use of entheogens or in (genuine) Pentecostal experiences: e.g. speaking in tongues, bodily ecstasy (aka holy rolling),  and so on. While shamanic consciousness is by no means solely reducible to these phenomena, they do constitute an important set of core elements in the shamanic tradition.

In the Western world many of these phenomena, like auras and chakras, are typically thought of as ‘New Age.’ And certainly there are those who would label themselves New Age who are connecting to those forms of experience. New Agers, however, don’t have a monopoly on such experience – these are simply domains of possible experience available to everyone. Human beings (traditionally called shamans) have founds ways of accessing, learning from, and working with those domains for many thousands of years across the globe: aboriginal peoples from Australia to the Americas to the Siberian tundra to sub-Saharan Africa…and even those in the Middle East (as we’ll see in a moment).

My experiences in recent years have opened my eyes to my own sacred scriptures – and to Jesus.

Jesus practiced shamanism.

native jesus
What I find most interesting is that these shamanic forms of practice surrounding Jesus are the stories that embarrass liberal Christians the most: exorcisms, healings, and apocalyptic language. Weirdly, these elements have become largely confined to much more conservative forms of Christianity like evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. They therefore get a bad rap for those of us who have outgrown certain rigid expressions of religion. And yet when we stop running from what’s right in front of our noses, the evidence is overwhelming that Jesus was a shaman.

The reason historically that liberal Christians denied these elements of Jesus’ life were because they were seen as irrational. Influenced as they were by the Western Enlightenment, liberal Christians emphasize reason and tolerance. They see Jesus as a Teacher of Morals and Eternal Wisdom. One great counterexample to this is the late liberal Christian scholar and priest Marcus Borg. Borg’s books on the historical Jesus argue correctly that Jesus was a charismatic healer and exorcist. Borg, however, stayed safely within the domain of the scholar, not a practitioner nor an advocate of this path.

The costs to liberal Jesus-followers of denying this reality are enormous. The New Age gains many of its adherents after they leave churches seeking precisely these forms of connection. In its liberal forms, Christianity tends to become either a very heady exercise or a social justice-only movement (or both). Liberals lack the fire and passion of many of their conservative brethren. Liberal Christians see the shamanic as pre-rational and therefore regressive (hence the embarrassment). They’re unable to grasp that a good deal of what’s going on in this arena is actually trans-rational (post-rational). It is more, not less, than rational.

So what if these shamanic ways are simply practices that could be taken up, interpreted and placed within a different worldview than that of arch-conservative Christianity? Is there something here for everyone?

I do believe many so-called fundamentalist Christians do have these experiences – though it’s clearly an area rife with charlatanism so separating the real from the fake can be tricky. Whether genuine or not, these believers embody these practices largely within a framework of traditional moral conservatism: e.g. anti-gay, patriarchal, non-Christians seen as bound for hell, merged with excessively literalistic readings of The Bible.

What I’m suggesting is to retrieve these practices but place them within a more progressive contemporary moral, political, and social framework, attempting to reconcile the best of both worlds. In this series, we’ll explore a few categories of shamanic work and look at representative stories from the gospels concerning Jesus that illustrate these very categories at work, establishing Jesus’ authentic shamanic identity. I’m not suggesting that this is the only lens through which to see Jesus, of course – but I’m discovering it to be a potent one that impacts me and many whom I serve.

Coming next week in the Jesus the Shaman series: Jesus the Healer.

chrisChris Dierkes is a long time student and practitioner of the Christ-consciousness mystical path. After receiving his MDiv., Chris worked in parish ministry for three years (Anglican Church of Canada) and now maintains a private practice in interspiritual soul work. In addition Chris has studied energy healing, intuitive arts, and shamanic practice. He writes frequently on subjects of spirituality in the contemporary world. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Chloe and their daughter Sage. You can check out his writing and practice here.

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks – Firstfruits Harvest

First Fruits
What is Baptism for the dead? As we examined last week, Paul asks

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29).

Many interpretations have been given of this passage in an effort to avoid a doctrine of vicarious baptism. But vicarious baptism is not taught in this text any moreso than vicarious suffering, or vicarious perfection and acceptance. New Testament saints were not baptized for specific persons or individuals of the Old Testament, but as the firstfruits they bore the responsibility of reaching perfection and embodying God’s acceptance in order to open the way for the acceptance of the entire harvest of humanity. This is the reason for Paul’s concern to present them as a holy and blameless bride at the coming of the bridegroom. Surely they understood their position as firstfruits, knowing that the complete redemption, glory, and manifestation of sons of God of all ages rested upon their eventual victory.

It is in this light that Paul wrote in Romans 8,

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:18-23).

The glory that was going to be revealed in the firstfruits was that which attended the coming of Christ. This was the time of the manifestation of the sons of God, as these passages demonstrate:

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:4).

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father… (Matthew 13:43).

It was also the time of their adoption – or their redemption -which was fulfilled in the separating of Ishmael and Isaac, or the fall of Old Covenant and the consummation of the New. Luke applies redemption to this event:

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (Luke 21:27-28).

This was the time for which the whole creation was waiting because this too would be the time of their deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of God’s children (Romans 8:19-22). While every living soul from Adam to Christ would share in the blessings of Christ at his parousia (often translated ‘second coming’ – see 1 Corinthians 15:22), the creation in this text of Romans 8 seems to apply to the body of Israel under the Old Covenant (their redemption assumes the redemption of Gentiles also). This creation was “subjected to frustration.” The word “frustration” here in Romans 8:20 (Greek mataioes) carries the meaning of “emptiness as to results, failing of the results designed, owing to sin.” (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.) They were made subject to this frustration when placed under the law (Sinai). Paul explains this in Romans 7, where he writes as a personification of this creature or creation of Romans 8:

I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me (Romans 7:9-11).

Paul said he (the creation) was alive once without the law. He was evidently referring to the state of justification by faith, which was achieved by Father Abraham and his descendants prior to the giving of the law. The justification of Abraham by faith (without the Law) is vital to the message of the Roman letter. His faith and manner of justification are the pattern of our justification in Christ. But when the law was added, sin revived, and Paul (the creation) died. The weakness was not the law, but the flesh to whom it was given,

Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin (Romans 7:12-14).

This then, was the “frustration” that the creature was made subject to -“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But this did not mean that the creation was left without hope, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25). Christ was the hope of Israel, even though they were in a state of sin, and a body of death. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope” (Romans 8:20). This hope was not in the law, but in the promise,

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ.

And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.

For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator…

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Galatians 3:16-19, 21-22).

In the fullness of time, then, creation – Israel – would be delivered “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Deliverance from the “bondage of corruption” meant deliverance from the law and its curse (Galatians 3:10-13). “The glorious liberty of the children of God” is that perfect state in Christ after the acceptance of the firstfruits or the manifestation of the sons of God. That time had not yet arrived when Paul wrote Romans, but it was near:

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:22-23).

The adoption, the redemption of the body, the inheritance, resurrection to life, and manifestation as sons of God were all part of the promise which was made to all the seed through the faith of Christ, and was received when Ishmael was cast out. This time came at the fall of Jerusalem. It was then that the firstfruits had overcome, reached perfection, and were accepted by God.

Next week we’ll explore how this firstfruits promise fulfills the six blessings promised by Daniel.

Join us each Monday as we blog through The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King, where this post is drawn from. (And if you get impatient, of course, you can always get the book inspiring these posts here.) Please feel free to weigh in below.

Salvation’s Song – How Could We Have Gotten It All Wrong? (Part 6) – Riley O’Brien Powell

Absolut GraceDo you believe that you need to do things or pay money to earn your salvation?

Institutional Christianity lost sight of the sheer gift of divine reconciliation for a long time, only beginning to recover an inkling of it in the 1600s.

As priest and chef Robert Farrar Capon put it,

The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.
(Between Noon & Three: Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace)

It was only after the sacrifice and insistence of a few, based upon their convictions from scripture, that bands of believers recovered the idea of salvation by grace through faith. Those who, like Martin Luther, read New Testament letters themselves and saw a message of salvation different from the institution, were threatened with their lives.

This one, in particular, struck me: How could the church lose sight of redemption and reconciliation at God’s initiation – the very heart of Jesus’ message? How could this happen? Furthermore, attempts to recover it were adamantly opposed by the mainstream religion for a long time. When Reformers tried to recover it, arguing from Scripture, they were met with great opposition. This heart of Good News was recovered through great sacrifice – even martyrdom. The call to reform, to re-examine assumed truths, set off an entire Reformation against the established beliefs, mainstream practices and institutionalized ‘truths’ of the church.

This particular paradigm shift – the Protestant Reformation – was forged into the mainstream of Christianity and into the minds of believers, by great intentionality against the established norms. Today, these gains are taken as a given. Debated still, but you won’t be jailed or threatened with death in most places around the world for affirming God’s accomplished redemption of humanity.

Looking back, many Christians today would agree that these changes – big, vast, scary to the original people experiencing them – were necessary improvements in the life of faith and everyday spirituality.

Most importantly, these changes give modern believers access to an ever-clearer vision of what an All-in-all God and co-creative humanity looks like.

It is more harmonious with our sacred Narrative, and bears more beautiful fruit:

I believe God, as the ultimate scientist, supports human scientific discovery because all creation bears witness to the glory of God. I believe the heart of Jesus’ message, and the consistent belief of every New Testament writer, is that salvation – making friendship with God through faith in Messiah – is a free gift of God’s grace, poured out upon everyone.

I hope these “Five S’s” serve to remind us how far we’ve come, and cause us to be open to reflecting upon the necessary changes we need to embrace in the future. Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with just a small handful of religion’s former erroneous beliefs, hopefully we can more clearly see that the community of faith is a work in progress.

When I assess contentious issues today in the evolving landscape of faith and practice, I think of these past mistakes and they humble me. What are we not seeing today? What beliefs do we hold today that our spiritual communities will teach the opposite about in the future?

Covenant Eschatology, for one. A fulfilled and open Story. It is time for a major paradigm shift in our hearts and communities so we can get on with embodying the Goose News and loving a world in need. Lets not waste any more time waiting in a holding pattern for someone else to come down and fix things for us.

RileyRiley O’Brien Powell earned her BA in Art History from Wheaton College, M.Div from Princeton Seminary, and M.A. in Education from Harvard University. She is a mother of four, raising them with her husband, Skip Powell, MD. She is a covenant participant and theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a board member of Presence. You can find more of Riley’s writing on her blogs, at Living the Question and Mostly Raw Mom.

Daniel’s Seventy Weeks – Six Promised Blessings

Before leaving the seventy weeks of Daniel, let us take a look at the six blessings to be ushered in at the end of that time period. Keep in mind that the first part of Daniel 9 contains Daniel’s confession of the sins of Judah and Israel, and his plea for mercy and pardon. He prayed for the restoration and divine acceptance of Jerusalem. It was during the course of this prayer that Gabriel came to give him understanding of Israel’s future, and inform him that “seventy weeks” must first pass before his prayer would be answered.

It is here where the six blessings that were to come are named:

Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy (Daniel 9:24).

Seventy weeks are given to the people and the holy city, which means that Israel’s restoration and blessings could be expected at the end of that time. This would bring us to the time of the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

But how can a people and a city be destroyed and blessed at the same time?

Actually Daniel’s prophecy includes both blessings and curses, all in the same “week.” The blessings promised were to be received by the new or heavenly Jerusalem of Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:22; and the one envisioned by John which appeared after the end of the old heaven and earth.

On the other hand, the city and people destined to destruction were temporal Jerusalem and the people contained in her. These two cities and their children were to receive their rewards simultaneously, at the coming of Christ, in this final week of Daniel’s prophecy. Ishmael and Isaac were permitted to co-exist for a while, but Isaac’s blessing and inheritance demanded the casting out of Ishmael, the child born of the flesh. Even so, Daniel’s prayer for Israel (the true seed) could not be answered until the end of the seventieth week, when the tares were separated from the wheat (Matthew 13:37-43; Matthew 3:12).

The six blessings promised to Daniel’s people were to come in fullness not on Pentecost, but the fall of Jerusalem, because the perfection of Old Testament saints depended upon the victory and acceptance of the “firstfruits” of the gospel. According to the law (Numbers 15:18-21; Leviticus 23:10-11); a firstfruits offering had to precede the gathering of the harvest, and this firstfruits offering made that harvest holy. James calls the early believers “a kind of firstfruits” (James 1:18). Their suffering, growth, and eventual perfection and victory (pictured as the 144,000 of Revelation) paved the way for the rest of the harvest – that is, all humanity. This is the import of Hebrews 11:40, “God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.”

The suffering of the firstfruits (New Testament saints) in overcoming their present world, or age, led not only to their own perfection, but also to the perfection of Israel. The resurrection of the firstfruits resulted in the resurrection of the Old Testament saints. It was in view of this truth that Paul asked, “Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). Paul’s argument here concerning the resurrection of the dead is based on the law of the firstfruits. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then there can be no harvest of Old Testament saints.

If there is no harvest, why should there be an offering of the firstfruits? Why should gospel saints be baptized, suffer, strive to bring the faith to perfection, if such sacrificial labor does not result in the establishment of a paradigm through which both the firstfruits and the harvest are accepted by God?

These are the questions we’ll explore next week.

Join us each Monday as we blog through The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King, where this post is drawn from. (And if you get impatient, of course, you can always get the book inspiring these posts here.) Please feel free to weigh in below.