Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
I had never thought of it before (now it seems so obvious!)--when in Daniel 9 the angel told the prophet that "seventy weeks are determined [cut off] upon thy people" from the grand total of 2300 years (8:14; 9:24-27), that meant that the Lord was giving Israel 490 annual days of atonement as their last cumulative, corporate probation as a nation, 490 gracious calls from heaven! Talk about patience!
Peter expressed our usual sense of impatience with the shortcomings of other people with his question, "'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, ' ... Up to seventy times seven'" [490!] (Matt. 18:21, 22).
The annual day of atonement in ancient Israel was their call to corporate and national repentance. As it came each year on the tenth day of their seventh month, it was their invitation from heaven to ponder anew their sin of national rebellion against God that must culminate at last in the cruel murder of the Son of God--unless Israel as a nation in the meantime should repent.
Sporadic efforts were made from time to time, but never did the nation corporately grasp their divinely appointed calling. Always, since Mount Sinai, the Old Covenant had dwarfed their understanding. Now the Lord will demonstrate the extent of His forgiveness--"up to seventy times seven" solemn days of atonement passed over while unrepentant, the call unheeded. Then the divinely appointed limit. They stoned Stephen in 34 A.D., exactly 490 years after the beginning of their 2300 year prophecy.
Now we're living in the great antitypical, cosmic, grand Day of Atonement for the world. Thank you, Peter, for helping us with your question. Shall we stone "Stephen" anew?
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 7, 2004.
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