Chapter 5

The Consequences of 'Forgetting God'

The Consummation of the Age

God Measures Time in Cycles of Forgiveness

'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'(Psalm 19: 9)

With the complete failure of the Conference and the expectation of any material benefit for Germany - the hardest hit country after the First World War - that nation's hopes became centered in the person of Adolf Hitler, who had already become Chancellor the previous January and, with a sufficiently massive vote of the German people behind him, was to be seated firmly in the saddle by November 12th 1933 - just fifteen years after the Armistice in 1918.

God's answer to the studied insult of the whole Gentile world was simple and clear. The Nations had given Him, so to speak, 'the cut direct' on June 12th 1933, and treated 'the Saviour of the world' as though He did not exist. As, therefore, these Gentiles had so positively declared to the heavens by their Governments that they set no value whatsoever upon 'the goodness of God', He, for His part, would now allow them to go their own way. They would soon discover at what a cost they had ignored their Creator!

The Handwriting upon the Wall (Daniel 5)

'God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it.' (verse 26)

We must again emphasise that it was God Who had caused the most positive warning to be given to the world, forty days beforehand, in the same city as was chosen for the assembly of all these nations, concerning the ominous significance of this date of June 12th. In spite of this warning, not only the King's speech, but Ramsay MacDonald's Presidential Address which immediately followed it, in the first hour of the Conference, had carefully omitted God's Name from any reference, as did all the speeches at the inaugural dinner that same evening, at which six hundred persons were gathered.

Because of this omission, our minds are inevitably turned to a counterpart scene which is recorded in Daniel 5: 23 - after the handwriting had appeared upon the wall of Belshazzar's palace in Babylon, telling that monarch that 'God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it' (verse 26). This was at the end of the 70 years of Babylon's history, as measured from the first siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1: 1).

 

Belshazzar's Feast

In Daniel 5 we have pictured for us a banquet at which 'the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood and of stone'(verse 23) are the real objects of worship; but at the same time the 'golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God' (verse 3) are being used, showing the same mixture of materialism and religion, and an acquaintance with the things of the true God, as characterises Christendom today. In his interpretation of the mysterious 'handwriting', the prophet Daniel recalls Nebuchadnezzar's experience during the 'seven times' of his alienation from God (see verses 18-21) and continues in verses 22 and 23, 'And thou ... O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this.' But the solemn words of Daniel, to which we have to draw particular attention, are these: 'The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.'

Belshazzar's sin was the sin of omission, the sin of 'forgetting God', and with this king, as we know from the end of the chapter, judgment was executed without delay, for 'in that night was Belshazzar the King of the Chaldeans slain'.

As we have said, the result of this 'apostasy' - that is, ignoring God and leaving Him out of their counsels entirely - was that in six weeks the World Monetary and Economic Conference had broken down and had to adjourn sine die. Several years later, Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, commenting on this breakdown in a broadcast, said:

'The economic and financial crisis of 1929 spread throughout the world. It lasted for some years, and in 1933 the Monetary and Economic Conference was held in London. This Conference was one of the major tragedies of history. It achieved nothing.'

What then had really taken place with the passing of June 12th 1933, and what was the true significance of this obvious turning-point in world history, as we can now look back upon it in years of further economic crisis?

The Ending of a Dispensation

'The thing that is hid bringeth He forth to light' (Job 28:11)

The thing that had been hidden from the little company whom God had called together to 'watch' His actions at the end of this age was that there was 'a time to every purpose under heaven' (Ecclesiastes 3:1). God, in other words, was a God of perfect order, and had ample leisure for everything He did. And yet, not one of His purposes would be one day late in fulfilment.

The first thing that was shown was that there was a 'time of harvest' (Matthew 13: 30 & 39) and that'the harvest is (lit.) the consummation of the age.' (see Note 2) (Most emphatically this has nothing to do with 'the end of the world', as the King James Version erroneously translates verses 39 & 40). That a period of time was involved over which the age would end became clear from the words of Jesus in v.30: 'And in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles (in order) to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn.'' ' And the expression, 'gather the wheat' was literally 'bring together' or 'lead in' the wheat - a purpose which obviously requires time to perform. Our Lord perfectly explains what both 'wheat' and 'tares' signify in this parable.

It was quite clear, when we looked back to the first century of our era, that God had brought about a 'consummation' of what we might call 'the times of Israel', or Jewish history, over a period of forty years, that is, between AD 33 and AD 73. It was then, as Josephus informs us, that the Roman War terminated with the fall of the fortress of Masada. Nothing, perhaps, is more poignant than to learn that the garrison of the last 960 Jews holding out against the Romans, committed suicide to a man 'on the fifteenth day of the month Nisan' in AD 73 (See Whiston's Josephus; Wars of the Jews, Book VII, Chapter IX). This was, to the day, forty years after the suicide of Judas Iscariot, following the crucifixion of Jesus in AD 33.

 

'The Days of Vengeance'

Another most significant fact is that the Roman War lasted for seven years, commencing after the Passover in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, which was AD 66 - forty years from the beginning of the Baptist's ministry - and it is only too clear that Luke was referring to these seven years in his Gospel (chapter 21:20-24) in the words: 'For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.' We may also recall the words of Jesus in John 2:19, 'Destroy this temple ...' This was said at the time of the Passover in AD 30 and, as is well known, it was forty years later, at the Passover in AD 70, that the Jews of Jerusalem and their Temple were shut up to the desolating destruction that followed that very summer and of which Daniel himself had prophesied in his day (Daniel 9:26).

None of this, however, occupied the minds of those who had given the warning in 1933; only the dawning realisation that the world had entered a new phase in its history and that it was essential to understand all that God had concealed in His Word concerning time. We certainly knew well enough that if, as the writer of Proverbs 25:2 has said, 'It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,' then whatever He had concealed would have to remain hidden until He, in His sovereignty, revealed it. But the Scripture did go on to say: 'the honour of kings is to search out a matter!'

So our course was clear - we must wait upon God until we received so positive an 'understanding of the times' that it would be possible to provide proof to all men that the warning we had given as to His action on June 12th 1933 had been a matter accomplished entirely under His direction.

The Wonderful Key of the Principle of

Forgiveness in Time Cycles

As has already been stated, the key which began to unlock the Bible's time secrets was the fact that God measures the course of man's history on the earth according to the principle of forgiveness - that is, in cycles of 'seventy times seven' years. And in order to prove this, He provides us with an apparently unsolvable difficulty in 1 Kings 6:1, for we are told here that it was 'in the 480th year' after the Exodus that Solomon commenced to build the house of the Lord.

It has been found quite impossible to reconcile this statement with that of St. Paul in Acts 13: 20, where the Apostle says that, after the dividing of the Land of Canaan among the tribes (some 47 years after the Exodus) God 'gave unto them judges about the space of 450 years, until Samuel the prophet.' He then goes on to speak of the 40 years of Saul, after which, as we know, David reigned for 40 years before Solomon came to the throne. St. Paul's statement also confirms the actual total of years which can be traced through the Books of Judges, 1 Samuel, and 1 Kings, and which clearly amounts to a very much greater span of time than '480 years'. There is obviously a very large error somewhere in one or other of these inspired statements, if we are expected to take them both literally as recording the time which elapsed between the Exodus and the Foundation of the Temple of Solomon.

The critics of the Bible, of course, have always rejoiced to see a 'contradiction' like this, and viewed it as a devastating blow for those who held to 'the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures', but God had quite a definite purpose in bringing man's natural understanding of the Bible's chronology to a sudden halt at this point in the sacred Record. He had something wonderful to reveal.

The Key to the Enigma

Over a century ago, the servant of God we have already mentioned, Sir Edward Denny, was allowed to see the simple solution to the conundrum. Having made a study of the 25th chapter of Leviticus, he knew that it was God's practice to measure time in Jubilee cycles of 49 years. See Chart 5. He also saw that the last ten cycles of 49 years (490) to the Crucifixion of Christ had been the subject of a revelation by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Daniel (see the closing verses of Daniel, chapter 9, and Chart 1).

So Sir Edward argued that if the last 490 years to Christ (spoken of as 'seventy weeks' of years) had marked off the time from the restoration of Jerusalem under Nehemiah, then it looked clearly as if the first 490 years of Israel's national history, from the Exodus to the Dedication of the Temple in the 14th year of Solomon (10 years after the foundation was laid) would just as definitely have been patterned out by God (see Chart 3 ). At any rate, the Scripture stated quite unequivocally, 'the 480th year' was the 4th year of Solomon. (1 Kings 6: 1).

But how could Paul's '450 years' be a true statement of fact? Sir Edward was led to the words of Jesus in Matthew 18: 22, where the Lord answers Peter's question on the subject of forgiveness:

'Jesus saith unto him,"I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven." '

Here was God's answer to the difficulty. The 70 times 7 years had relation to the forgiveness of God, while He was in the midst of His people and accepting their sacrifices - all of which were a foreview of the sacrifice of Christ. Not a moment of this time could He be punishing them in the same way as when He gave them up into the hands of their enemies; and time and again He had had to do this in the days of the Judges.

Sir Edward Denny then calculated the total of the seven periods of servitude recorded between Judges 3:8 and 1 Samuel 7:2 & 3 and found it to be 131 years. All this he saw was time outside of the Jubilee cycles of Redemption and Forgiveness. This was a revolutionary concept, and meant that the whole era from the Exodus to the Dedication of Solomon's Temple was actually 621 years. Paul's '450 years' clearly referred to the actual time that had elapsed, and reckoned in the years of punishment and servitude as well (see Chart 3).

So God had used a 'contradiction' for the purpose of revealing a secret. He had brought to light a key, and the question was, would this same key turn in the lock in other parts of the Chronology, and what would it reveal?
Chapter 4
Chapter 6

 

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