Fairbairn v. Fairbairn

Several days ago, I received an email from Jack D. Hook inviting me to visit his web page and read his book, Babylon the Great is Falling. In his email, Mr. Hook wrote:

“Are aliens real? Is someone or thing ‘out there’ in the heavens? Is more war or peace on the horizon? Will Israeli and American tanks have to soon roll into Damascus and Tehran respectively, to keep them from obtaining nuclear weapons? Or will Iran and Syria make peace with Israel? Will Russia and America work together for peace in the Holy Land? Can the Jews and Moslems share the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, allowing for the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple right next to the infamous Dome of the Rock mosque? What do communism, fascism, monarchies, theocracies, democracies, and republics all have in common? And finally, are Christians counted as sheep for the slaughter or militant soldiers of the sword? Are they to be lambs or lions in this life and world?”

“I happened to see your name and address on your web site and was wondering if you were open to reading some things I have written, including the questions I just asked above? And thank you for allowing internet contact, for the last thing I want to do is intrude or be needlessly offensive. Isn’t it great that the internet provides for the free flow and exchange of knowledge?”

“I would like to welcome you to visit my web site, if you are interested in knowing about today’s political-religious-military events, including those in Israel and America, and how they relate to Bible prophecy from one Vietnam veteran’s perspective. The five years I served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army helped me to understand why nations war against each other.”

I appreciate Mr. Hook’s service in Vietnam. Those of us who went through those tumultuous days that divided our country, appreciate the heroic efforts of those who served in the armed forces of this country during the Vietnam war. His veteran’s perspective of what is happening in our world today motivated me to visit his web page and read what he wrote.

In chapter two of his book, Mr. Hook wrote:

“We know that each week in this prophecy represents a week of years. This fact comes from the sabbatical time measure of the Jewish calendar. So each week is really seven years. Thus, there is to be 490 years from the time Israel is commanded to restore Jerusalem, to the Second Coming of Jesus. It is then that everlasting righteousness will fill the earth. Jerusalem was invaded by Babylon around 604 B.C. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. Some teachers suggest the command of Artexerxes, in Nehemiah 2:1-8, which allowed the Jews to rebuild, took place in 445 B.C. Then, by counting the days to the cutting off of Jesus on the cross, 483 years of the 490 year prophecy were then fulfilled. That being true, there remains only seven years to be fulfilled of that prophecy.”

“Those seven years begin with a covenant of peace and it is the Roman prince from the United States that will pull it off. He will bring together the opponents in the Middle East and a covenant of peace will be worked out.”

“To properly understand Daniel’s prophecy, we must know there is a gap of time between verses 26 and 27. Daniel couldn’t see this gap for the church age was a mystery to him. This gap of time is sandwiched between the crucifixion (cut off), resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the 70th Week.”

When I read this statement, I remembered the case of Rev. Patrick Fairbairn. In 1840, Rev. Patrick Fairbairn, a pastor of the Bridgeton Parish, a Presbyterian Church in Scotland, published an article entitled “The Future Prospect of the Jews.” In that article, Rev. Fairbairn studied several biblical prophecies about the return of the Jews to Palestine and, by taking the plain meaning of the text, he concluded that according to the Bible, the Jews would return to Palestine some time in the future.

Twenty-five years later, Rev. Patrick Fairbairn, now a professor at the Free Church College, wrote a book with a chapter entitled “The Prophetical Future of the Jewish People,” in which he studied the same biblical passages and, by spiritualizing the words of the text, concluded that the Jews would never return to Palestine.

It is interesting that one person, looking at the same biblical passages from different perspectives, could come up with two different, contradictory interpretations. It can be said that in the debate between Fairbairn v. Fairbairn, Fairbairn lost.

The text of Daniel 9:25-27 has been studied from different perspectives because of the essential part it plays in millenarian theology. In a previous blog, I addressed one important issue in millenarian theology (click here to read my views on millenarian theology).

Incorrect interpretations of Daniel 9:25-27 have produced a type of theology exemplified by the teachings of the Scofield Bible, the rapture, the tribulation, and the Left Behind phenomenon. In a future post, I will discuss the problem with Mr. Hook’s interpretation of Daniel 9:25-27. The problem with Mr. Hook’s book is that his interpretation of Daniel 9:25-27 is based on the theology taught in the Scofield Bible.

In looking at Daniel 9:25-27 from a different perspective, my conclusions will be completely contrary to Mr. Hook’s interpretation. This different interpretation will put us in the Fairbairn v. Fairbairn situation.

When the same text can produce two different interpretations, the reader must take the interpretation that reflects the plain meaning of Scripture. Even when the stakes are high, I believe it is possible to arrive at the original intent of the writer, even when we may not truly understand his message.

My consolation, however, is to know that when the biblical text is read and studied without any preconceived ideas, the plain meaning of the text can be discovered and the true message of the author can be understood. When this happens, then, in the end, we honor the original intent of the writer of the biblical text.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary.

This entry was posted in Book of Daniel, Daniel, Hebrew Bible, Messiah, Old Testament and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fairbairn v. Fairbairn

  1. Pingback: Rereading Daniel 9:25-27: The Coming of the Messiah | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

  2. Pingback: Rereading Daniel 9:25-27: The Seventy Weeks of Daniel | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

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