Each time I have the opportunity to read a new book on Bible prophecy, I count it a privilege to see the subject through another believers eyes. Each of us sifts the evidence in a unique manner and for those willing to look this provides a wonderful opportunity to gain fresh insights and valuable perspectives on a subject as rich and complex as the Bible’s prophetic record.
Bryant Wright’s new book The Stage is Set: Israel, the End Ties, and Christ’s Ultimate Victory is a book which provides more than its fair share of wonderful insight on the Bible’s prophetic record. I will say this book is one of the more congruent explorations of the subject that I have read recently. Each chapter in this book leads naturally into the next which builds an understandable and compelling story arc.
Beginning in Chapter 1 with – Birth Pangs, Mr. Wright makes his case that we are indeed living in the times leading up to the 2nd coming Jesus. Upon this foundation Mr. Wright then weaves in additional eschatological facts from the books of Daniel and Revelation which adds to his well-reasoned perspective.
I really liked the straight forward and humble attitude expressed by Pastor Wright in this book. Far too often when the subject of eschatology is discussed it is done so with a strong dose of dogmatism and a dash of arrogance. I didn’t get that sense while reading this book. Pastor Wright presented his case based upon what he believes to be a reasonable rendering of the Biblical facts. When certainty was unwarranted he made an effort to say so. You’ll find this attitude especially evidenced in his discussion of the Rapture.
I my opinion what distinguishes a good book on Bible prophecy from an average one is its focus on what Revelation 19:10 calls the Spirit of Prophecy. This verse tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the true spirit of prophecy. That spirit is more completely understood when we realize that the Hebrew word for Jesus (Yeshua) means YHWH saves or YHWH’s salvation. So in other words the spirit of prophecy then is the testimony of YHWH’s salvation (Yeshua).
In this book you’ll find that spirit of prophecy on bold display. Pastor Wright makes it clear that the underlying theme of Bible prophecy is the message of our Creators redemptive efforts on behalf of all mankind through Yeshua, mankind’s only means of salvation.
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In the spirit of respectful and I hope constructive criticism there were a couple of areas where I disagree with pastor Wright or at least thought a more thorough explanation of the subject was warranted:
1. First, in Chapter 21, Pastor Wright described three great “Jewish feast” days that the Jewish people celebrate each year. For clarification sake in the Bible’s the feast days are called the “feasts of YHWH” and there are 7 of these feast days mentioned in the Bible.
- The Passover
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread
- First fruits
- Shavuot (Pentecost)
- Yom Teruah – Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets)
- Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
- Feast of Tabernacles
Second, in this book Pastor Wright uses Daniel 9 and the prophecy of 70 Weeks as a major pillar in his eschatological framework. Due to the importance this prophecy holds in Pastor Wright’s interpretive framework I thought it’s underlying basis should have been more thoroughly explained. I think it would have been helpful to understand how Pastor Wright in his own exploration of the subject dealt with the following challenges:
• The Commandment to Restore and build Jerusalem
• The Chronology of the 2nd Temple era
• Covenant of Daniel 9:4 as it relates to Daniel 9:27
• The Biblical Calendar
1. Regarding the “Commandment to Restore and Build Jerusalem”, most scholars believe this “commandment” was one of four Persian decrees. The challenge to this position is that the word “commandant” as given in Daniel 9:25 comes from the Hebrew word dabar which means “word, speech or utterance”. Dabar is used 1439 times in the Old Testament and of those the vast majority refer to the dabar of YHWH. Further complicating this passage is that dabar is used 4 times in Daniel 9 and of those three clearly refer to the word or dabar of YHWH. Worth noting is that Zechariah and Haggai both record a “dabar” of YHWH to restore and build Jerusalem and that this divine decree is also witnessed in Ezra 6. I am curious how this decree is accounted for in Pastor Wright understanding of Daniel 9.
2. Regarding the Chronology of the 2nd Temple era most scholars stretch the chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah by over 60 years to allow for their “commandment” to be given during the reign of the Persian king Longimanus. This is problematic because 2 Kings 25 records the death of Ezra’s father in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. According to this rendering of the chronology, Ezra (at the youngest) would have been a quarter century older than Moses by the time the “commandment” could have been given by Longimanus. This unbelievable age would also apply to many of the Priest and Levites of Nehemiah 10 & 12.
3. Regarding the Covenants of Daniel 9 most scholars ascribe the covenant of Daniel 9:27 to the Anti-Christ but few take into consideration the context of the covenant of Daniel 9:4. The covenant of Daniel 9:4 is a direct from Deu. 7:9 which in turn refers back to the covenant of Gen. 22 and the covenant YHWH sware (shaba) with Abraham, a covenant which has the distinction of being the first covenant YHWH swore with any many in the Bible. Any discussion of Daniel 9:27 surely needs to take into account the context of Daniel 9:4 to be soundly based in Biblical fact.
4. Finally, most respected scholars believe the 70th week is based upon a 360 day solar year and 30 day months. Yet most scholars also admit that Yeshua fulfilled the shadow and types of the spring feast days based upon a Biblical calendar (Gen. 1:14) which uses a 365.24 day solar year and a 29.53 day lunar month. If the final week of Daniel 9 is based upon a 30 day month and 360 day year, then when does this calendar change take place? Clearly the celestial disturbance required to change the existing Biblical calendar from its current 365.24 day solar year / 29.53 day lunar month must take place at some point well before the events described in Revelation so that the Biblical calendar can settle into its anticipated 360 solar year and 30 day lunar month configuration. I think any discussion of Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks needs to include a discussion of these calendar changes.
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In closing my disagreements and questions notwithstanding, this was a terrific book on Bible prophecy which any student of the subject would be well served in pursuing. Pastor Wright makes a compelling case that we are close to the return of Yeshua and His millennial reign upon this earth. After you have read The Stage Is Set, I’d encourage you to open your Bible and see if these things be so.
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Author: Bryant Wrigt
Book Title: The State is Set: Israel, The End Times, and Christ’s Ultimate Victory
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse