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Friday, December 22, 2006

Daniel and the coming Christ


This Sunday (Dec. 17, 2006) we had finished our journey through Philippians, so rather than starting Ephesians I took a side trip.

Throughout the Nativity season multiple OT prophets are commemorated. This is no accident because they all point in some way to the coming Christ.

This particular Sunday, Daniel and his three friends are commemorated. The discussion centered around how they pointed to Christ and what role they played in Orthodox theology.

Rather than summarizing the story of Daniel here. I want to point out three major prophecies of Daniel that point to Christ in a dramatic way.

Daniel 2:34-35: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were made of iron and clay and broke them into pieces…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:34-35). This prophecy comes straight from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In summary, it is a dream about a statue made of four major elements that represent four different empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece, & Rome). Both Daniel and Isaiah prophecy about this stone. The prophecy about the stone in Daniel is for pagans and the prophecy about the stone in Isaiah is for Jews. The Lord Jesus Christ is that stone which is laid first, in the foundation of God's entire creation, for He is the Word of God and the Wisdom of God; second, as the foundation of the Old Testament as the preparation and third, as the foundation of the New Testament as the fulfillment. It was during the Roman Empire that the stone appears and begins the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Also, this passage refers to the virgin birth. The stone is cut without the aid of man. Often within Orthodox hymnology you will see Mary referred to as the Uncut Mountain.

- Daniel 7:13,14. Another prophecy as a result of a dream. This time the dream is from Belshazzar. Rather than a statue like Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, this dream is made of four beasts. Yet they represent the same four empires. Belshazzar sees the “Ancient of Days” which is God and then the “Son of Man”. The Son of Man is Christ and this title is used frequently in the gospels. The Son of Man is given an eternal kingdom.

-Daniel 9:24-27. This is an amazing prophecies that pinpoints the Incarnation perfectly. The prophecy uses 70 weeks to designate times in the near future. Weeks in Jewish thought is merely a group of seven. In this case, the group is seven years. So 70 weeks would be 490 years. Daniel prophecies that after the decreed for the restoration of Jerusalem there would be 69 weeks until the coming of the Messiah. He will suffer for his people in between the 69 and 70 weeks. The decree for the restoration of Jerusalem was issued by the Persian king Artaxerxes of the dynasty Archaemenidae in 453 BC. In accordance to the prophecy, the Messiah was to suffer for the cleansing of human sins in the period between 69 and 70 weeks. If one adds to the year of the issuance of the decree of the restoration of Jerusalem 69 weeks, i.e. 483 years, then this equals the 30th year of the Christian method of numbering years.

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