By Reggie Kelly
“Let no man deceive you … the end is not yet!”
Certainly any war in the region has always the potential of acting as a catalyst bringing about the changes that prophecy requires. We certainly do expect a great transforming event sufficient to change and dramatically realign the political landscape of Israel at some soon point, and this may well (even probably) take the form of war. We may infer from scripture that events will move Israel into a posture of non-compromise concerning its absolute sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem. We can think of nothing more likely to produce such an inflexible stance than a war that threatens the nation’s very survival, demonstrating again the futility of peace initiatives that imperil national defense.
Jewish intransigence over the Jerusalem question, the ultimate threat to world peace, is the most probable source for the final “flood” of anti-Semitism that will sweep over the world. Also, scripture implies the necessity of orthodox control over the holy places of Jerusalem (Isa. 63:18; 64:11; Dan. 8:13; 9:26; 11:31; 12:11; Matt 24:15 et al), and the imposition of strict Sabbath observance impeding flight out of the region of “Judea” (compare Matt. 24:20; compare also Isa. 28:14-22 with Dan. 9:27; Dan 11:21-12:13; Zech 12:2). This we believe and expect. However, in no way is it possible that the current threat of war with Iraq can be the final world tribulation precipitated by the anti-Christ. There is just too much in prophecy that describes, in definite detail, a certain sequence of precursory events and requisite antecedent conditions that do not match the current scene; not least a deceptive peace arrangement (“covenant with death and hell” Isa 28:15) that relaxes Israel’s guard (Ezek. 38:8; 1 Thess. 5:1-3), and opens the way for the restoration of the appurtenances of the “holy covenant” (temple, sacrifice etc. (Dan 9:27, 11:31, 12:11, 2 Thess. 2:4 et al).
This all goes to show how easy it is to “jump the gun” when the basic outline of Daniel’s prophecy is neglected or misinterpreted. According to Dan 11:23-30, there is a whole detailed sequence of regional conflicts, stratagems, and events that occur after the “league” (false peace), but before the desecrating sacrilege that initiates the period of Israel’s final desolations (the so-called “footsteps of Messiah” of rabbinic eschatology). This foregoing sequence of events is, regrettably, by an impossible exegesis, attributed to the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes in the 2nd century B.C. He was indeed a type that remarkably followed the pattern of the final oppressor, but as Keil and a host of other of the best exegetes will point out, there is a great deal of unaccounted non-fulfillment that fails to match in adequate detail the actions of the Syrian tyrant, pointing to a greater and more precise fulfillment in the future. After all, Antiochus was not destroyed by the Son of Man as will be true of the “little horn” of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan 7:11-27; 8:9-14, 23-25; 11:21-45), and of “the man of sin” of Paul’s epistolary warning (compare esp. 2 Thess. 2:3-8 with Dan. 11:35-37). Neither did the persecuting career of Antiochus IV end in Israel’s final deliverance and the resurrection of the righteous (Dan. 11:45 – 12:1)
We conclude with the verdict of scripture that anything short of this highly descript and definite order of events comes under the Lord’s restraining caution, “for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet,” and of Paul’s urgent warning, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except …”