25 June 2009
This week news presenters and reporters in the US had a go at President Barack Obama over his smoking habits. He in reply admitted that it was a persistent problem, that he had licked it 95% of the time and that he never smoked in front of the children or his family. That sounded good. That sounded honest. What precipitated this was a bunch of obfuscating, dance-around-the-issue answering that he had given only days before. And he had promised his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, that he would quit, if she let him run for president so many years earlier.
What prompted this series of Q-and-A was a major health care bill before Congress just now which includes a serious ban on advertising for young people, so that they never get started on cigarette smoking.
In another secrecy caper, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina admitted to having a year-long affair with a woman in Argentina. Mr. Sanford said he had taken an unplanned trip to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over accepting a portion of the federal stimulus funding. But that was not true. He went to see his mistress in Buenos Aires. The rising star of the Republican party knocked himself out of future candidacies and future fame in exchange for... a secret affair. If he had only titled it "adultery" rather than "an affair" it might have sounded far worse, but not to worry. His exchange of vocabulary is only the beginning of his troubles.
State Senator John Knotts blew the whistle on Sanford. He began investigating because he was worried about the missing executive, in case of a crisis that required swift decisions and Sanford had left no one in charge. Senator Knotts said that he was content to learn that the governor had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and would be coming home Wednesday. But when he learned Wednesday morning that the governor was actually in Argentina, he added: “It all could have been avoided if his staff started out not trying to cover up for him.”
Cover-ups and secrecy. The very word "Watergate" comes to mind. In fact, adding 'gate' to anything gives any secret the same juicy news-cycle rendering. Perhaps Obama will have 'smokinggate' or Sanford his 'Appal-tina-gate'. No matter, someone will spin things nicely, and they will both land on safe 'happily ever after' comfort. At least that's the usual for Dianas and Kennedys and even the US Veep, Joe Biden, after his 1992 plagiarism fiasco. We all forget. We're all human after all.
Mystery surrounds hidden things. Consider the case of Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue tunnel, closed since the middle of the 19th century, but still holding fascinating tales of German gas production and diaries of presidential assassins. What else lies beneath a major metropolitan area? How about the case of Prime Minister Harold Holt? The Australian Prime Minister Holt vanished in 1967 while swimming off the coast of the state of Victoria. His body was never recovered. Dozens of wild and strange theories about his disappearance quickly developed. Some people believed he committed suicide or faked suicide to live in Switzerland with his lover. Other rumors included a shark attack, a Chinese submarine kidnapping him and a CIA assassination plot.
We love mystery. We watch CSI and The Mentalist, before it was Alfred Hitchcock and Sherlock Holmes books-turned-movies. We want mystery AND we want them solved. Sometimes in 300 pages; more often lately in 55 minutes including commercials.
One of my favourite Bible books is the one ascribed to Daniel, the prophet. He was a young Jewish man, a political prisoner for a time in Babylon (ancient Iraq) who went to what we might call university with three other mates. While in jail, an offer came to interpret a dream. Here are some select passages to highlight what happened:
Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. (Chapter 2, verses 1 and 2)
Word got out that Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the interpreter of his dream not only had to interpret, but to reveal the dream. In other words, he had to know both what the king dreamed, but then to interpret what it meant. Daniel got the idea to ask his friends to pray for him.
Dan. 2.18 in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Dan. 2.19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;
Dan. 2.27 Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.
Dan. 2.30 “But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.
Dan. 2.47 The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
Wow, what a heavy, what a day! "Dream-gate" was settled, and Daniel and his friends got seriously rewarded.
Dan. 2.48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.
Dan. 2.49 And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.
The rest of the book of Daniel is pretty remarkable as well. And it takes less time to read than an episode of "Law and Order."
One serious mystery Daniel addressed was the coming of the Messiah. This topic is one of the most interesting and time-consuming secrets of the Jewish Bible.
Here's what Daniel wrote in chapter 9 of his book:
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." (Chapter 9, verses 24-26)
Let's see if I can break down "Messiah-gate" with some precision.
According to this text, from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah there will be:
7 + 62 "weeks"= 69 groups of seven years so 7 x 69 = 483 years
For Jewish people, a year is 360 days.
483 years x 360 days in a year= 173,880 days
When was the decree to rebuild Jerusalem?
The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given on the first day of Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1).
In our Western calendar system (the Julian calendar) that date is 14 March, 445 B.C.E.
The total number of days from 14 March 445 BCE to 6 April 32 CE.: 173,880 days
No wonder Jewish boys don't read this section until they are 30.
No wonder this information is secret.
It appears that the coming of the Messiah, that his very death is predicted with uncanny precision, to fall out in April, during Passover, 32 CE (or 32 AD) The mystery is revealed, a person is going to die (be cut off) from the Jewish people at an exact moment in history, and that will accomplish what has never been done before, "to make atonement for iniquity, to make an end of sin."
Wow, someone is going to die for our sins and bring us to God.
In 32 CE.
In Jerusalem ('the most holy place").
Seems clear to me.
Does it to you? Has the smoke cleared? Has the gate been revealed?
So many more prophecies are out there. The X-Files wondered about the truth "being out there." And now you know. And now you can find out more.
That's good news for you. And for me. And for any humble enough to ask God himself. He won't keep secrets things from you.
Moses told us in Torah: Deut. 29.29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons."
Y'shua said it this way, "Ask and it shall be given." (Matthew chapter 7, verse 7) He loves to reveal things to you and to know you, and to be known by you. Want eternal life? It's all a prayer away.