Burning Questions answered
by Rev Colin Le Noury.
Q6. A preacher once spoke about the Church being a parenthesis, what did he mean?
THE word parenthesis is not specifically a theological term; strictly speaking it refers to a bracketed phrase or word in a sentence. It is more loosely used in chronological terms to describe a period between two points of time. It is used in this connection by those holding to a pre-millennial futurist interpretation of prophecy.
The preacher who used the word to describe the church was undoubtedly endeavouring to show the church's position in the chronological prophetic timescale, particularly in relation to God's plan and purpose for the Jewish nation.
The parenthetical idea of the church is best understood and most closely associated with the prophecy of seventy weeks in Daniel. To understand its meaning we must look at the prophecy in closer detail.
It is contained in just four verses - Daniel 9 v.24-27. The prophecy is specifically Jewish and provides us with a calendar of events that relate historically and prophetically to the Jewish people. This is made unambiguously clear by the opening words of the prophecy, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and thy Holy city..." v.24.
The whole of the prophecy spans seventy prophetic weeks and the starting point for the countdown of the seventy weeks is clearly given in from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem..." History and the Bible combine together to record that King Artaxerxes issued a decree to that effect in the twentieth year of his reign and in the month Nisan, Neh. 2v.1.
The prophecy itself is divided into three parts; namely seven weeks, sixty-two weeks and one week. The first two parts amounting to sixty nine weeks was to end with the cutting off of Messiah the Prince" (v.25). Working on the basis that one week represents a year of 360 days, it has been calculated that the sixty-nine weeks ran exactly from Artaxerxes' decree to the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass just prior to His death.
This being so, the question remains as to where the seventieth week comes in. All the evidence suggests that it is unfulfilled as yet. This is because the fivefold purpose as stated in v.24, and particularly, the ushering in of a period of everlasting righteousness, has not happened yet.
We assert therefore, that a seven year period of Jewish history has yet to take place. God's timeclock stopped at the end of the sixty-ninth week and will re-start when the seventieth week begins. Since the whole prophecy, as already pointed out is specifically Jewish and contains no reference to the church it is sound judgement to believe that the seventieth week will immediately follow the rapture of the church.
Having come to such a conclusion we are then left with the fact that the present church era occupies the chronological parenthesis between Daniel's sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks. For those wishing to study the matter further, I recommend a little book entitled Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks by Alva I. McClain, published by Zondervan, which is a clear and full exposition of the passage in question.
Colin Le Noury