Daniel 9 King James Version (KJV)
24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
With the ongoing studies of eschatology throughout this blog I hope to go through every segment of the above verse eventually. For this second part on the topic on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (manifestations and operations of the Holy Spirit and Power of God) I would like to focus on the part which says: “to seal up the vision and prophecy”.
This prophecy of Daniel was given several hundreds of years before the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah the Christ. The prophecies in the book of Daniel foretell how Christ would come and make an end of all sins and return in judgment upon Israel and unto the resurrection of the dead, and the ultimate deliverance of the believers.
Through His cross, Messiah the Prince, made an end of sins. In addition to that notice that this part of prophecy also says that the same Messiah the Prince, would come to seal up vision and prophecy. The words: “to seal up” come from the same Hebrew words that were used where the verse says, “To make an end of sins.” Note that “to make an end” comes from the Hebrew word chatham. To chatham is to finish something, to stop, to cease, or to bring something to a close. As Christ’s sacrifice of His life ended the need for the sacrificial system involving the blood of animals, in the same way “chatham” refers to putting an end to vision and prophecy.
I am in no way proposing that the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, such as the gift of prophecy, including the ministry gift of the Prophet are no longer available. Quite to opposite in fact. What I believe we must learn from scripture though is that it is a closed canon. As charismatic Christians we have been so big on having visions and dreams and schools of prophets. Every believer who has had an introduction to manifestations of the Holy Spirit wants to express them sometimes at the expense of going way outside that same closed canon. Of course, I do think it is better to have a few dingbats in a Church meeting than to join the congregation of the chosen frozen.
What I am contending for within this article and exegesis of scripture is that if God still continues to provide revelation in our time to further add to the canon of scripture, then the work of Christ even as mentioned in Daniel 9:24: “to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness “, would then also not have been concluded. Christ and His finished work including His Parousia during the period of 67-70 AD is utterly the primary focus of the word of God. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Old testament Prophets and the Apostles combined with the operation of the gifts have brought to us the final revelation through scripture, which became a closed canon. All these workings of the Holy Spirit were provided to bring redemption history to a consummation.
That said, “to seal up the vision and prophecy,” means that no more divine inspired revelation and prophecy is to be added to the closed canon of scripture and that what has been predicted throughout scripture has received divine confirmation and recognition in the form of actual fulfilment.
To “seal up,” is to stop, to cease, to end, to halt. The same word chatham that was used to demonstrate the need for the stopping of the old covenant sacrificial system, is now used to show that with the coming of the Christ, the need for further divine revelation was coming to a close.
“To seal up vision and prophecy.” Reveals something even stronger. The word prophecy comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy”. It does not mean “prophecy,” but rather it should be translated as “spokesman or prophet.” In other words, the Hebrew text is not stating that prophecies shall stop, but that the ministry of the Prophet as we know it from the Old Testament, must with the finished work of the Christ completely cease at the consummation of the Age in 70 AD. I state explicitly 70 AD, as Christ coming in judgment forty years after His ascension was His final act in which the wrath of God was finished and the Sinaitic age was closed. Throughout those forty years even some of the Apostles stood in the office of the Prophet. However, their ministry as a Prophet was solely a further elaboration of what Christ had already showed them on the Mount of Olives. As Christ told them that the Holy Spirit would show them things to come, (John 16: 13) He was referring to what would unfold during the drama of the last days, leading up to 64-70 AD. The things the Holy Spirit showed them became the prophetic messages of John through his book of Revelation, Paul’s detailed revelation of the resurrection of the dead out of Hades and the rapture of those who were still alive at Christ’s Parousia, Peter’s insight into the destruction of the Old Heaven and Earth, James who announced that the judge was standing at the door, and Jude warning the believers about those who crept into their meetings but were ordained to condemnation unto judgment at Christs return, which were all based on Jesus’ Olivet discourse.
The point being made here is that not only the Law of Moses, also all the Old Testament Prophets find their fulfilment in Christ. Remember Luke 24:44 when Jesus told the disciples that “all things must be fulfilled (not only those things) which were written in the Law of Moses, (but also in the) in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Him”. [paraphrase and additions are mine]
The Old Testament Prophets and their from God inspired writings find their utmost fulfillment in Christ. Since 70 AD there will never be another Prophet or Apostle who will receive inspired revelation to add to the already closed canon of scripture.
The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s final revelation to mankind, and no further revelation to add to scripture will occur after him. This is what the Bible shows us within the completed canon of Old and New Testament text. If there were to be further inspired revelations added to the canon of scripture as we have it now contained in our Bible then the canon of scripture is not in fact closed and could be added to by God at any time.
Hebrews 1:1 King James Version (KJV)
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (Ages);
Hebrews 1:2 establishes that in the last days, which were the days leading up to 70 AD, and was the end of the Sinaitic economy, where God ceases to speak through the prophets and instead concludes his revelation through his Son.
It is clearly apparent from internal scriptural evidence and historic documentation that the entire New Testament canon was finished by or before AD 70. Especially the writing of the book of Revelation, which some scholars have traced to being written sometime during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian in 96 AD. This is a gross mistake. There was no persecution of any “major significance” on believers during the reign of Domitian. As per internal Biblical evidence in Revelation 11, the Jerusalem Temple was still standing at the time when John received his vision.
All the above has sadly given reason to many among the Preterist Eschatological camp to make their point that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and tongues and interpretation of tongues, including prophecy and the ministry gift of the Prophet ended with the closing of the age in 70 AD. I know that many Preterists are very studious, and willing to go the extra mile digging into the wealth of scripture, yet by my observation often short of acknowledging the reality of “the supernatural of God”. They often tend to be locked into an intellectual comprehension of scriptural facts, but ironically everything about God and His word is supernatural. God created the universe, God became a man, died and rose from the dead, raised all the dead out of Hades, took the living believers and transformed their mortal bodies into glorified bodies fit for life in heaven, wow and the same scriptures we study were breathed, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
A Foundation for what?
The apostles and prophets with Christ as the corner stone are the foundation of the church.
Ephesians 2 King James Version (KJV)
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
The apostles and prophets are the major elements of the “foundation” of the church. Paul uses the word foundation to acknowledge the God given authority that the writings of the apostles and prophets had. We do not lay foundation on top of foundation ad infinitum as if with newer revelations in addition to a closed canon. No, a foundation is laid for a structure, which is build upon that single foundation.
So bear with me for a moment. Let us go to a car factory. We witness all the different parts being assembled. We could look at a door. We could describe the door from every angle. We then move on to a wing mirror, or a part of the engine, etc. It is only when all parts come together the car becomes the car it was designed to be. Now we can go for a drive. We could not drive the car until all parts were assembled.
Such was the purpose of Old Testament prophecy and the office of the Old Testament Prophet. They received parts of revelation, until the fullness came together in Christ. The foundation was then laid with all the parts assembled. Since then the structure has been build upon that foundation.
1 Corinthians 13 King James Version (KJV)
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
These verses have often been used to say that the perfect, which came is the completed canon of scripture, and now that we have our closed canon it has done away with prophesy. To reinforce this a Preterist might state that the perfect canon of scripture was completed before 70 AD, and therefore did away with the need for prophecy. I understand that logic, and yes, the canon was completed before 70 AD, but the foundation was laid, the car was build for it to be driven towards a destination. Right in between chapter 12 and 14 of Paul’s teaching on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit and prophecy, Paul did not mean to wash it all away by saying that there is no need for the supernatural manifestation of God anymore.
Consider what I say: Paul made the statements of 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 because under the Old Testament all gifts of the Holy Spirit, including prophecy were like separate parts of the car. By themselves they were not complete. Paul and all his contemporaries in the faith were eagerly looking forward to the coming of Christ in their lifetime. At His Parousia they would, as 1 Corinthians 13:12 states, see Him face to face. Until then all the ministry gifts, gifts of the Holy Spirit, served as parts to complete the canon of scripture and prepare them for His coming. Putting away childish things are to be understood as letting go of the elements of the Old Sinaitic Covenant, or any of the prophecies major and minor prophets and allow those parts to fulfil their purpose and make up the whole picture, Christ the final revelation. Letting go of childish things is the letting go of an immature, not fully developed understanding of the purpose of a part not yet fitted into the big picture. Becoming a man is the believer who has come to understand the full purpose for the parts, which lead to the revelation of the Gospel and the new Covenant in Christ.
1 Corinthians 13 King James Version (KJV)
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
We see Paul here referring to the analogy of the part(s) as well. A part is one of the constituents parts of a whole, just like a part of a puzzle. The words “done away” of the Greek word Katargeo, carries the simple meaning: to make inactive or to cause a thing to have no further efficiency. This is the same Greek word which is used in 2 Corinthians 3:13 where Paul talks about the Law of Moses being abolished. We know we are not under the Law. It is no longer active. It is no longer binding as it was part of a covenant, that literally ended in 70 AD. The Law was “part” of a bigger picture. All the typology of the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, the Priesthood, the sacrificial system were a shadow of the reality in Christ. If I were to try and hold on to the shadow (the part that has been made inactive) but ignore Christ, you would call me mad. (ironically this is exactly what many Christians do) Exactly, why hold on to parts when we now have the full foundation upon which a mighty structure is build. You know the old saying: “the higher the building, the deeper the foundation”. Yes, the canon of scripture is closed but Paul is not saying that the perfect which came is our printed Bible, so now we do not need the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit anymore. He is saying completely the opposite. The perfect is referring to having come to the “unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:13. It is the full revelation of Christ.
Hebrews 6:5 King James Version (KJV)
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world (Age) to come,
Why would the author of the book of Hebrews mention the power of the Age to come? Power being the Greek word dumanis here is linked to the Messianic Age and the Kingdom God, which had not fully arrived during the ministry years of the Apostles, and the writing of the book of Hebrews (likely around 65-66 AD). The New Messianic Age of the Kingdom of God fully arrived at closing of the previous age in 70 AD, and obviously came with great power. The author states that the believers tasted the power of this age, which was about to come. With all the miracles and manifestations of the Holy Spirit that first generation of Christians had witnessed, they only had a taste. How about having a small taste of a delicious stew being cooked, to give you an idea of what dinner is going to be like. When dinner is served, you cry out and state that you just want another taste.
How is it that people seem so afraid of God and His most awesome presence and power? How is it that learned Theologians seem to be so set on explaining away the supernatural of God. This is what grieves the Holy Spirit.
Paul did not teach that the gifts would end. He gave us solid instructions on which basis the gifts and power of God should operate. Now that the revelation is complete in the closed canon of scripture, the foundation was laid. We must operate within the matrix of structure build on that foundation.
When we start floating outside of that we are not building on the foundation. When so called prophets are prophesying God’s judgment is coming in our day or our future, they are not building on the foundation. Futurist eschatology i.e. Dispensationalism has completely lost sight of the foundation. The ministry gift of a New Covenant Prophet may be genuine but will be tainted if they prophecy according to a faulty doctrine. Sadly, many of the organised churches at this point have gone awry with these ever-changing theories of futurism, which can be seen floating at a far distance from the actual building which is stood on the a solid foundation.
Please understand that the Old Testament Prophets and gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit were all leading up to and pointing to their fulfillment in Christ and what He would do. All the manifestations and gifts of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant confirm what Christ has done and how it affects us now.
An Old Testament Prophet would prophecy parts about the coming Messiah the judgment that would end their age, and usher in the New Messianic Age. A New Covenant Prophet prophecies about the Christ who came and accomplished everything He said that He would do. A New Covenant Prophet will only receive revelation based on the true foundation of fulfilled prophecy and scripture. They will never receive new revelation to be added to the closed canon. If they do, God is not speaking through them.
Any believer can learn to operate in the gift prophecy. This is not foretelling future. The gift of prophecy are utterances and words of encouragements, for edification and the strengthening of believers in their faith based on the scriptural foundation we have just discussed.
The ministry gift of the prophet unlike the gift of prophecy has to do with how a believer has developed and grown into their calling. They can receive specific messages and impressions for individuals, groups of believers, states and nations and may reveal a deeper insight about a current situation, it’s linked past and insight into the future. Take special note though that as stated, a New Covenant Prophet since 70 AD, will not receive revelation to be added to the closed canon of scripture, they should also never contradict the closed canon of scripture. They will and must never foretel a pending judgment of God upon a nation or our world. They can forewarn of catastrophies, but only as God reveals it to them, not as an act of God, but rather the consequences of human behaviour and decision or the influence of spiritual forces of darkness. Usually it’s a combination of both. With the insight of the prophet regarding catastrophic events, the prophet will also receive insight as to what can be done to either prevent the situation or wisdom how to deal with the situation.
More not less
Now that the foundation was laid and each part has found its purpose and fulfillment and we have been given our mandate to operate and build on that foundation, the gifts and manifestations and workings of the Holy Spirit should not be less, let alone end. They are meant to be more, multiplied, and super-abounding. The manifest presence of the Holy Spirit is to be more powerful, more frequent, and obvious. We are to become more familiar with how God wants to work through us. If you learn to yield and learn how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and His anointing upon your life, it becomes easier, and easier to flow naturally in the supernatural of God.
God always planned for a much greater release of His power in operation within the framework of the New Covenant in Christ.
I often heard it said: “you need the word and the Spirit. The Spirit is like a river and the Word is like the banks of the river, which holds it’s course”.
I say in addition to that: “if you rightly divide the word and establish your heart in the truth of the Gospel, you should end up overflowing with the Holy Spirit”.
I want to leave you with these ideas found throughout scripture, which show God’s intentions to manifest His presence and power much more in the New Covenant than in the Old Covenants:
The double portion of Elijah’s anointing on Elisha
The glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former house
The former and the latter rains
and your shall do greater works
from Glory to Glory
from faith to faith
a better covenant
All in confirmation and elevation of the one true Gospel of Christ, the redeemer of the world.
*Part 1 of this study is currently being translated from the German version and will be available soon.