The Prophecy of Artaxerxes' Decree
Sep 09, 2009
In studying history and the timing of King Artaxerxes' decree to rebuild Jerusalem, I came across an interesting piece of information that relates to the New Jerusalem today.
It goes back to the story of Noah's curse upon Canaan, which is dated in the year 1660 from Adam. The flood, of course, is dated 1656-1657, and I figure it took three years for Noah's vineyard to produce enough grapes for him to get drunk (Gen. 9:20, 21). Hence, the year of Noah's curse is 1660.
In my book, Secrets of Time, I showed that the date of Artaxerxes' decree was made 3437 years from Adam. (We know the date as 458 B.C. on our modern calendar.) This decree came 1777 years after Noah's curse on Canaan, which is the year following 1776. Now 1776 = 2 x 888 and therefore carries some revelation about Jesus or the Body of Christ.
"Jesus" in Greek has a numeric value of 888. Also, if you add up the numeric values of Daniel and the three friends who were cast into the fiery furnace in Daniel 2:17, the total is 888. They represent the Body of Christ in tribulation.
Daniel = 95
Hananiah = 120
Mishael = 381
Azariah = 292
TOTAL = 888
And so it is interesting that we would see an 888 connection between Noah and Artaxerxes.
But the connection is not with Canaan, but with the blessing of Noah upon his son Japheth, which occurred at the same time. Gen. 9:27 says,
"May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant."
In the next chapter we read that one of Japheth's sons was Madai (10:2), who was the father of the Medes--as in the Medes and Persians. The question is this: How and when might Noah's prophecy/blessing be fulfilled?
Well, it has been fulfilled in more than one way, but for the moment we are looking at the Edict of Artaxerxes, which decreed that sacrifices should resume in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:17), "lest there be wrath against the kingdom of the king and his sons" (7:23). He even decreed in verse 26,
"And whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him strictly, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of goods or for imprisonment."
I do not know how many nations or people in that part of the world were representing Japheth, but it fell to the Medes to be the one partially fulfilling Noah's blessing. In effect, he decreed that Ezra the priest should make sacrifices for Judah and also for Medo-Persia. This tradition continued throughout the centuries, we know, because even in Roman times, the high priest was offering sacrifice to God on behalf of the Roman Emperors.
And, of course, during each Feast of Tabernacles, there were 70 bulls that were offered to God on behalf of the 70 nations of the world. Alfred Edersheim tells us on page 277 of his book, The Temple,
"There were seventy bullocks to correspond to the number of the seventy nations of the world."
So when Ezra made sacrifice on behalf of the Medes and Persians at their request, it foreshadowed the blessing on Japheth. Inasmuch as it occurred 2 x 888 years from Noah, it suggests Japheth being brought in as part of the Body of Christ.
This also reveals the obscure meaning of Noah's blessing on Japheth. Noah said, "Let him dwell in the tents of Shem." Was this to have a physical application, or spiritual? I think ultimately it was both, but in this case the spiritual meaning is being foreshadowed. (We will have to show the physical application later.)
It speaks of the fact that the descendants of Japheth would receive their divine inheritance WITH the descendants of Shem. There would be a unification between the two people/nations, at least in the eyes of God. This foreshadows the New Testament revelation given to Peter in Acts 10:15, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." Peter interpreted this in verses 34, 35,
(34) . . . I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, (35) but in every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.
This new inclusive way of thinking was radically different from the religious culture in which Peter and the disciples had been accustomed. But I believe that this is what God had in mind with Noah's blessing on Japheth. The day would come when they would dwell in the same tents, thereby becoming one people as the Body of Christ. They would be, as Paul put it in Eph. 2:15, "one new man."
For this reason, the decree of Artaxerxes gave his decree after 2 x 888 years from Noah's blessing on Japheth. This was the year 458 B.C., and the beginning of Daniel's 70 weeks (490 years). This began the countdown of 10 Jubilees leading to the crucifixion of Jesus in 33 A.D., at which time God broke down the middle wall of separation that had been erected in the minds of men. Philip preached in Samaria, and Peter was sent to the Roman Centurion in Caesarea. Other disciples were sent to other nations, and a new nation began to be formed with the Body of Christ.
This new nation took the believers of Judea and united them with the believers of other nations, including those of the lost tribes of Israel that were in the dispersion. God began to restore the House of Israel in the manner described in Isaiah 56:7, 8,
(7) For My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples. (8) The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet OTHERS I will gather to them to those already gathered."
In Isaiah's world vision, the resurrected House of Israel, then, is not merely of the seed of Israel, but also includes any foreigner who desires to serve Jesus Christ. Ironically, this restoration of Israel was occurring just as the Judean nation was being destroyed. Judean believers, of course, were part of the House of Israel being restored under one Head, Jesus Christ (Hosea 1:11). But the majority of Judeans rejected Jesus, and so remained outside of the New Covenant and outside of the restored House of Israel.
In the past century, these non-Christian Jews have attempted to fulfill the prophecies of Israel through Zionism. They have received much support from Christian Zionists as well. But apart from Christ, there is no fulfillment of the regathered House of Israel. The "true Jews" already joined with their Israelite brethren and "others" in apostolic days to form that new Israel. Judah and Israel were united in the first century under one Head in a nation that was impartial toward all men.
This new Zionist "Israel" continues to reject the "one new man" idea. It never got rid of the dividing wall of partition that made certain ones more holy and more beloved of God by virtue of their genealogy. In short, the Zionist "Israel" is not fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy. They are not the regathering of the House of Israel. They are a counterfeit "Israel," based upon the same exclusive ideology that Jesus came to abolish.
Check out the story of Paul in the book of Acts. You will see that the Jews listened to him all the way to the point where he says that the gospel has now gone to all nations. That is where they became angry enough to kill him. That is the bone of contention that distinguishes between the real and the counterfeit.
When we understand the flow of prophetic history, we can then appreciate not only Noah's blessing on Japheth, but also the Decree of Artaxerxes 2 x 888 years later, which jump-started Daniel's 70 weeks leading to the destruction of the middle wall of partition in 33 A.D.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Prophecy of Artaxerxes' Decree." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones