The Conquest of the Veil

Do you have anything on how Satan’s removal from the heavens puts him in a less powerful place than he currently occupies?

We have to be very careful of our words here. The only sense that the Satan’s power is restricted will be in his ability to accuse the believer’s conscience. He is already without legal right, but his removal by Michael in the middle of the week ends his access to accuse in some unprecedented way. It’s there in the text!

Certainly the once and for all victory of Christ has ended Satan’s legal right to any believer’s conscience, but there you see that when Michael prevails to cast Satan down (an event that is clearly in the middle of the week; Dan 12:1), he is particularly described as “the Accuser of the brethren,” who, until he is cast down by Michael at the beginning of the tribulation is able, in some sense, to accuse the regenerate servants of God, albeit illicitly. What are the implications of this?

I believe there is a profound reason for this, but first notice that the line up of these events all happening at the mid point of the last week. This shows that it is the clearing of heaven from Satan’s abiding presence, is not only a powerful milestone on the way to the coming of the kingdom (the removal of the restrainer), but Michael’s victory accomplishes an unprecedented open heaven, as it were, that significantly announces the presence of the kingdom in power, and this announced presence of the kingdom is significantly 3 1/2 years BEFORE Jesus’ return. Something major has happened! I believe that what is in view is the heavenly enforcement of Christ’s victory by a church that has come to travail in analogy to Daniel’s intercession and self abasement. It is what I call the ‘conquest of the veil’ on a corporate scale unprecedented since Pentecost, as anticipated in Jesus’ exclamation, “I saw Satan fall as lightening from heaven.”

The Accuser’s removal announces the significantly related power and liberty of the overcoming church. The timing here lines up perfectly with other passages that show a breakthrough of mighty anointing that comes upon the ‘maskilim’ in significant timing with the abomination of desolation that marks the mid-point of the seventieth week (Dan 11:31-35; 12:7-10). Very significantly, this is also the time that the two witnesses receive their power. What is happening to the witnesses is happening to all the godly remnant, an anointing of power to do exploits (greater works?) and turn an innumerable multitude to righteousness. At the same time the man child is caught up, Satan is cast down, and as God’s people apprehend their place with Christ (in figurative analogy to Jesus’ birth and ascension), Satan comes down to bring the final woe to the earth dwellers. I call this the great transition and it happens in both the realm of light and the realm of darkness, the ultimate point of divide.

All adds up to something very transitional at this point, not only in the realm of darkness on the side of the mystery of iniquity, but also the side of light and power of the truth. It is a profound spiritual apprehension of the gospel by a church that is now completely poured out. It’s a new Pentecost! It empowers for the last great thrust of the gospel that will draw the net on an innumerable multitude. But the actual power of Satan, so far from being limited or ‘less’, is actually intensified. It is no longer distributed between heaven and earth but is now concentrated, fully and finally on the earth. For those who dwell in heaven (not a term for only departed saints and angels but all the people of the Spirit, whether in heaven or earth), it means the greatest break through of kingdom power since Pentecost. But for the ‘earth dwellers’ (a term meaning, not mere habitation of the earth but the sensual unregenerate who have their life in the earth), it will mean the time of unequaled woe.

Not time to enter into it here, but we must ask; how is it that something that has always been true concerning Satan’s fatal defeat at the cross and the rightful freedom of every believer from his accusations is, in some sense, being reiterated just here, immediately upon Michael’s removal of Satan, an event that we know does not happen until the standing up of Michael at the middle of the week, 3 1/2 years before the Lord’s return? I believe the answer has all to do with the believer’s relation to the veil. Here’s what I mean:

In the spiritual realm, there is a constant war against the veil of the flesh that is especially felt by the child of God. Every believer is in a war against the temptation to put confidence in the flesh, but not only at the conscious level. This is one important purpose in our pruning and the unique and tailored things we must pass through, much of which is involuntary, appointed and orchestrated by the Lord. Our maturity in Christ has all to do with the degree of brokenness and freedom from the impediment of that residual measure of self reliance that limits and hinders the fuller, manifest power of His life in us. This is what Paul made the constant object of his prayer, enjoining the prayers of the saints to the end that “Christ might be magnified in my MORTAL body.” This is the sense that he hoped to ‘attain’ to the resurrection of the dead. He was speaking of the power of the resurrection as a present potential and goal.

This is simply the well established biblical principal that our strength is our weakness, and our weakness is our strength, and why it is that it is only when Israel comes to the end of their power that their great transition comes (compare Deut 36:32; Dan 12:7). We understand what happens to the saints in the middle of the week when we can conceive that God has in mind a corporate fullness of Christ in the tribulation church that has become completely emptied of the last remains of the hindrance of strength. This is why Christ is revealed at the end of the law, because it is the Spirit’s quickening of the law that destroys all hope in the flesh. Christ is the end of the law because He is revealed at the end of strength. I’m not trying to be technically exegetical here, only interested to communicate a profound principle of the Spirit’s working. Spurgeon called it, ‘the withering work of the Spirit.” This most ultimate weakness and divine emptying of the godly remnant will empower the true body for an ultimate corporate fullness and witness that will significantly parallel the 3 1/2 years of His ministry beginning with the baptism of John.

Because of what will have transpired in the first half of the week, the true bride of Christ will have been greatly emptied of the last remains of confidence in the flesh, which is the strength of the veil and what holds the church back from its ordained apostolic fullness. The first half of the week will be very crucially employed to crowd and constrain the church to a place it would never have otherwise been able to go corporately. Thus my analogy, “when you are become of full age, another will gird you and take you where you would not have gone.”

It is the church’s coming through to this glorious weakness and self emptying that will receive the help of Michael. This is in significant analogy to what happened in response to Daniel’s urgency of self abasement and prevailing intercession. This breakthrough in the accomplishment of ultimate things is not only incidental to a fixed time, though it is that too. It is the issue of intercession, the filling up of the prayers of the saints, but not without the deep spiritual travail of intercession and self emptying that will be accomplished in the saints facing the final and ultimate trial, Simply put, as the greater the victory over the residual remains of self reliance in the believer brings the greater manifestation of His power and life, just so, the last great straightening and emptying of the church in the spiritual and prophetic travail that will come especially in the first half the week, will bring the great release of resurrection power and life of Jesus in the corporate seed of the woman, His body. So much that is ultimately transitional and decisive converges at the middle of the week and we need to probe and understand why!

Up until the middle of week, the believing church of God will have been greatly exercised and deeply processed and constrained through mighty displays of prophetic fulfillment and flesh destroying revelation of the truth. This will be in full and sober view of all that is now very near at hand. I call it the great straightening of the church. It is very related conceptually to Paul’s reference to his deep travail till Christ be formed in the wavering Galatians. It is the kind of travail that we see with the heavenly woman. That is true initially in the new birth, yes, but the same dynamic is no less true in principle and pattern in our maturation process and no less in the maturation of Christ in the corporate body as eschatologically anticipated in Eph 4:13. It is all by revelation and grace alone, and nothing of the self determination of well meaning religious zeal. The church, true church, will be profoundly emptied and divested of the last remnant of confidence in the flesh, which is the strength of the veil that hinders and holds back the power of the life of Christ from full manifestation in any believer’s life, but in this case, the corporate body (man child?).

I believe the man child is not only a personal but also a corporate figure. It is not only Jesus, as the ultimate personal seed, but the collective seed of the woman, the people of the Spirit. The sense that the corporate man child is caught up is not, as some have suggested, a pre-trib or mid-trib rapture. The catching up is indeed in the middle of the week in immediate connection with Michael’s dejection of Satan, but it is not of the physical body, since we know it is not the time of the resurrection (Paul puts his own resurrection at the last trumpet with all who are in Christ; 1Cor 15:23, 52). It implies rather a spiritual birth and ascent, comparable to Christ’s own ascension to God’s right hand where every believer arose and ascended with Him, as now ‘sealed and set down’. I think of the way that Jesus could say of Himself that He was presently ‘in heaven’ even as he spoke with Nicodemus on earth.

With Satan’s forcible removal by Michael, heaven has been cleared of the one who hinders, and this is taking place as the church has come through to a corporate fullness through the end of every misplaced, distributed, or mixed confidence. It implies unprecedented freedom and power on a corporate scale not seen since Pentecost. The church has, as it were, ascended, or rather fully grasped and apprehended its ascended position and sealed identity with Christ as sealed and seated at God’s right hand. It is only the old old story, the simple gospel of Christ, but in a much fuller apprehension of things already true but now much more perfectly and powerfully apprehended because of the great and glorious weakness that God has brought His church. It is the ultimate possession of our possessions, as when Paul so greatly groaned to apprehend that for which he was apprehended.

All of this happens on the side of light at nearly or exactly the same time that the mystery of iniquity is being revealed through the casting down of Satan, whereupon the deadly wound is healed, which results in the resurrection of the sea beast as the ultimate incarnation of Satan. The whole book of Revelation, the opening of the seals by Lamb, is all about this final manifestation of the mystery of iniquity that ends the ‘time of the nations’ and finishes the mystery of God (Rev 10:7) in HIs return, which Satan knows better than the church is impossible apart from the birth / resurrection of the Jewish nation (natural branches), and why he goes to exterminate the woman with fevered urgency once he sees his time is short.

Well, this is getting too long again, but you get the idea. I know this will be thought speculative, but while I have some admitted ‘loose ends’ in all I understand of what must converge to accomplish the great transition in the middle of the week, of some things, I am very sure. There is something very transitional and transformative ahead for the church that we must come to together before the last witness, which I love to call, ‘the final thrust’. God has something to prove and demonstrate through His church before He vindicates His covenant publicly in Israel’s return, which at that time will be no less the church of the one new man.

There is also something cosmic and world changing that takes place in heaven and on earth when this already despicable antichrist is revealed as THE Antichrist by what I believe will be a literal, bodily resurrection from the dead. The implications will be seismic.

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The Tribulation Timing of the Trumpets and Three Woes

After listening to a number of preachers speak about the trumpets of Revelation already being fulfilled since World War 1, and that we are quickly approaching the sixth which speaks of a great war in the Middle East; Is this possible? Because I always thought of the trumpets happening within the last 3 and half years, and we have not yet seen ‘hail fire, mixed with blood, burning up a third of the trees”, or the star “Wormwood poisoning a third of the planet’s freshwater sources” and if we have, when? Am I missing something?

Concerning the timing of the trumpets, you are very correct. They most certainly begin at the middle of the week, at the time of the sealing of the servants of God (Rev 7:1-3 ff.) and continue to the ‘last’ or 7th trumpet, which is the Lord’s return and the beginning of His millennial reign (Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; Rev 10:7; 11:15 ff.).

A careful comparison of Rev 8:12-13; 9:12-13; Rev 11:11-15 will show that the last three trumpets are the last three woes. This further contradicts the really bizarre notion that the first five trumpets are already past and the 6th is imminent. As you rightly ask, how could the 6th trumpet be the next to sound unless we are already well advanced into the great tribulation? That such a proposal could be made, or seriously entertained, underscores a really dangerous ignorance or misplacement of the events that signal the beginning of the tribulation, that let us know when it is approaching and when we’re in it.

Firstly, we know that the great tribulation cannot start until the necessary preliminary conditions are in place. Breaking the deadly peace arrangement, the Antichrist descends suddenly upon an unsuspecting Israel that is resting in a false sense of security (Isa 28:15, 18; Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:23-24; 1Thes 5:3). Sweeping away all opposition (Dan 11:31; Rev 13:4), he forcibly enters the rebuilt temple of God which must again stand in Jerusalem (‘the holy place’ in ‘Judea’; Mt 24:15-16; 2Thes 2:4; Rev 11:1-2). He then stops the regular (morning and evening) sacrifice that has been only recently reinstated (Isa 63:18; Dan 8:13-14) and places the abomination that triggers the great tribulation (Dan 11:31; 12:1-2, 11; Mt 24:15-16, 21; 2Thes 2:4). It’s that simple. It was meant to be for our protection.

It is fitting that God would make it plain so that we would not be deceived by false reports and premature excitements to the contrary. There is only one antidote to end times deception: “But take ye heed! Behold; I have foretold you all things” (Mt 24:25: Mk 13:23). And, “Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall NOT come, except there come a falling away FIRST, and that man of sin be revealed …” (2Thes 2:3-4).

Jesus does not give all the details that are needful for His people’s knowledge of the end. Rather, He sends His disciples to Daniel’s prophecy to identify and understand the key event that signals the beginning of the tribulation (Mt 24:15-16, 21). If we would only follow His clear command, we would save ourselves a lot of abuse and needless diversion from the false alarms of prophetic speculation. By His interjection, ‘let the reader understand’ (to paraphrase, “pay attention to Daniel!”), Jesus is directing us to search Daniel’s prophecy for this event, and to read with “understanding” (a word that appears with significant frequency all throughout the book).

We find that the abomination that brings the final desolation of Jerusalem is mentioned four times (Dan 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Jesus knew that when we would carefully observe what leads up to this event and mark what follows from it, we would not be so easily mistaken or deceived concerning the time of His return, nor without understanding of the nature and meaning of the tribulation that must immediately precede (Mt 24:29). This should be the beginning point of any study of prophecy, since it is exactly where Jesus tells His disciples to begin, a divine directive that has been far too little emphasized.

Contrary to many prophecy scenarios, the abomination of desolation cannot be separated in time from the stopping of the daily sacrifice. Both are equally 1290 days before the end (Dan 12:11). I agree this would seem obvious, but many false views of prophecy live and thrive by separating the inseparable. For example, some insist that Christ stopped the sacrifice by His death, but move the abomination up another 40 years to 70 A.D or some other more distant place in church history.  Then, contrary to the clearest of evidence from the most simple comparison of scripture with scripture, they boldly proceed to disconnect these inseparable events from Paul’s description of the man of sin who enters the temple of God just shortly before his destruction by Jesus’ return (2Thes 2:1-9). These things cannot be split up and placed at different points in history!

Many of the false systems of prophecy can only be sustained by either separating the sacrifice from the abomination by either decades or centuries, or by spiritualizing one or both. Invariably, the temple must also be spiritualized, so that the temple that Paul mentions in 2Thes 2:4 (see also John’s reference in Rev 11:1-2) is usually considered to be representative of world Christendom. It is disconnected entirely from the temple mentioned by Jesus in His Olivet prophecy (Mt 24:15). And yet, both Jesus and Paul are clearly citing the words of Daniel to describe the same man who enters and defiles the temple of God to begin the unequaled tribulation (Dan 11:31, 36-37; 12:1, 11 with Mt 24:15-16, 21; 2Thes 2:3-4, 8).

What temple and where? How could Paul, without further qualification, have expected the Thessalonians to imagine any other ‘temple of God’ than the one that was standing in Jerusalem as a wonder of the ancient world when Paul was writing his epistle? What powerful presuppositions must be at play for interpreters to insist that Paul’s reference to the temple of God in 2Thess 2:4 is an entirely different kind of temple, separate in time, meaning, and location from the temple that Jesus refers to in Mt 24:15-16. This is especially awkward when both passages are so manifestly speaking of the same event that signals the great apostasy and and final tribulation.

If we will carefully compare Paul’s wording in 2Thes 2:4 with the identical language of Daniel’s prophecy in Dan 11:36-37, it cannot be missed that the same person is in view. It should be obvious that this is the same man who places the abomination of desolation only five verses earlier in Dan 11:31, the event which Jesus references using precisely the same language in Mt 24:15.

Notice too that Rev 12:7-14 puts the ‘short time’ of Satan’s rage as following immediately upon Michael’s heavenly victory over Satan. This is exactly what we see in Dan 12:1-2. Michael stands up and then begins the unequaled trouble (Jacob’s trouble; Jer 30:7) that ends with the deliverance of Daniel’s people and the resurrection. In such a context, it would be a violence against plain language to separate these events, whether by decades or centuries. No, the abomination is placed at the same time the sacrifice is removed in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week, precisely 1290 days before “the end”, i.e., the end that accomplishes the final salvation of Israel in connection with the resurrection (Dan 9:27; 12:1-2, 11-13). That end! The text could hardly be plainer, and if a plain reading of plain language is not a sufficient ground for interpretation, then the sky’s the limit!

With the temple spiritualized to stand for the church, the man of sin becomes a symbol for either a long line of Roman emperors or more commonly, the succession of popes, spanning, not a short period of approximately 3 1/2 years, but many centuries, as each of the days of Daniel’s half week (1260, 1290, 1335; Dn 9:27; 12:11-12; Rev 11:3, 12:6) is understood to represent a year. This is the presupposition of the so-called ‘historicist’ interpretation that has been the dominant view since the Reformation until modern times and remains prevalent today among both Reformed and Seventh Day Adventists.

In this view, the sacrifice of Dan 12:11 is either put in the past or spiritualized. It cannot conceivably refer to a literal sacrifice that is being offered in a literal Jewish temple in a Jewish Jerusalem that will be stopped by the Antichrist just 3 1/2 literal years before the end. Why? Because this would require a prophetically significant reconstitution of the Jewish nation, such as we see before our eyes.

(Note: The so-called ‘year day theory’ has been a principal cause of most of the failed dates for Christ’s return, most notably Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists).

The end result of all is to transfer prophecy out of its original Jewish context into a more symbolic and spiritualized fulfillment in the church. The rule seems to be (I’ve heard it stated) that the original and literal Jewish context must be abandoned if any progress is to be made in prophetic interpretation.

It is the separating of what God has joined that brings all the error and confusion. Keep these few events together and in their manifest relationship and alignment, and you’ll be much better prepared to detect any deviations from the basic criterion (plum line) that Jesus gives in His Olivet prophecy as safeguard against deception.

Failure to hold these inextricable parts together has led to many disappointed expectations that have notoriously discredited prophecy all throughout the history of the church. The net result is to create what I like to call, the ‘wolf! wolf! syndrome’ that has led many to conclude that nothing definite or certain can or ‘should’ be known concerning the time of the Lord’s return, whether now or at some point in the future. In this way, many have been diverted from the specific instruction that Jesus presents as His provision against a deception that will particularly concern the time and manner of His return (see Mt 24:23-29; Mk 13:21-23; 2Thes 2:3). The urgency of the language that both Jesus and Paul uses to warn and correct of any deviation from this basic criteria may prove much more decisive when the time comes than we can presently conceive.

Recently I was sent something from a youtube clip of the Jim Bakker show where someone was on declaring that “we missed the 5th trumpet.” But as I mentioned, a careful comparison of Rev 8:12-13; 9:12-13 with Rev 11:11-14, in their contexts, should put beyond question that the 5th trumpet is the first woe. The 6th trumpet which is also the second woe coincides with the great earthquake that attends the ascension of the two witnesses. Manifestly, this is close to the end of the tribulation. Then, with the passing of the second woe in the aftermath of the ascension of the witnesses (Rev 11:14), announcement is made that the third woe is coming quickly. According to Rev 8:13 with Rev 9:12, the third woe is manifestly the 7th trumpet that finishes the mystery of God with the Lord’s return to judge the wicked and reward the righteous (Rev 10:7; 11:15-18).

The tribulation is sufficiently defined that no believer who regards the plain meaning of scripture can miss it. I believe a clear case can be made from scripture that all 7 of the trumpets are within the last 3 1/2 years, but what is clear beyond any reasonable dispute is the impossibility that we missed five trumpets so that only one more remains between us and Christ’s return at the 7th trump. That such a ludicrous proposal could get to first base is sad commentary on how vulnerable we are to deceptions of a much more serious nature.

As for the ever present threat of upheavals and disasters and judgment upon nations, Jesus says we are not to be troubled (in the sense of distracted or moved off course; compare 2Thes 2:2). Regardless of what we see, until we have seen the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet; the end is not yet! This is very important, as apocalyptic enthusiasm will grow ever more distracting and misleading with premature announcements of an imminent end. By such false alarms, the really significant events that do indeed mark the time with clarity and final certainty are lightly regarded or dismissed. Thus it is that despite the most prolific and visible display of prophecy in human history, that day is able to come upon the world completely unawares. That’s amazing; but it also removes all excuse.

It is a sobering paradox that despite the great clarity of at least the most important sign events that Jesus gives, the angelic messenger can say to Daniel, “the wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand” (Dan 12:10). That is very sobering. How else could such manifest fulfillment overtake the world as a thief?

Finally, I think the great question is what does all of this confusion mean? Why are things as they are? I believe the answer lies in what the Lord did at His first coming. Concealed within the prophetic writings was a mystery that was not to be revealed until the appointed time (Mk 5:43; 8:30; 9:9; 1Cor 2:7-8; Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:10-12). All things were indeed foretold, albeit in such a way that for some, it would be a trap and snare, a stone of stumbling and rock of offense (Isa 8:14-18; Lk 2:34-35), designed by God to elude carnal confidence, while for babes, God Himself would undertake to reveal His hidden wisdom, ordained to their glory (Mt 11:25-26; Jn 15:15; 1Cor 2:7; Rev 10:7 with Amos 3:7).

All things were being tested by the mystery that confronted the nation in the person of Jesus. It will be so again at the end. God intends that the world be confronted with a mystery that is designed to test and search the depths of every heart. By their nature, the prophetic scriptures are designed to elude the pride of human self reliance, not because they are difficult or clouded in mystery; quite the contrary, they are plain and simple to the plain and simple. That is to say, they are clear and transparent to plain persons of simple trust who have been emptied of their own self sufficiency to know anything of themselves. Such find their only hope in a trembling dependency on the Holy Spirit, and in the reliability God’s plain use of plain words for plain, everyday people. Everything will try to move us from the simplicity and clarity of what Jesus gave us to protect us from the subtleties of well meaning religious zeal, “But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand. Therefore, if they say to you … (any deviation) … believe it not!”

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Avoiding the False Alarms of Prophetic Speculation

By Reggie Kelly (This post is a “reprint” of one of the original articles of this site)

“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 11:21-45; 12:1-13; 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 Thes 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 and Dan 11:21-45), and of “the man of sin” of Paul’s epistolary warning (compare esp. 2 Thes 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 …”

Jump to a later statement of the same title

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The Revelation of the Mystery – [Video]

The last two hours of our recent online study on Romans Chapter 16 was particularly rich. Reggie, Travis and others explored “the mystery” now revealed. What is it, and what isn’t it?

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“Parousia” (His Coming) in the Old Testament

Wondering if you have any thoughts on the OT roots of the question “What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?” Specifically the “sign of thy coming” part. What did they mean by this, since 1) He was already there with them, and 2) the mystery of the 2nd coming is still a hidden mystery?

Old Testament roots for this question would be the basic beliefs and range of associations and interpretations that we know were common among the Jews of the first century. We have many non-canonical writings from the period of the second temple that give us a pretty good window into what was expected and how many of the Jews of that time were interpreting the prophecies.

It was common belief that the present age would end with an international conflict over Jerusalem, with the temple desecrated by a final invader. Whatever role some imagined the Messiah to have in the final war, one thing was certain: His rod iron rule over the nations begins only after the final tribulation, with the destruction of the last oppressor.

Messiah was indeed coming, but the One who was coming at the day of the Lord in final judgment was usually understood to be, not Messiah, or at least not ONLY Messiah, but God Himself. It was only with the NT’s revelation of the mystery of Christ’s twofold advent that the day of the Lord would now be always understood as the coming / return of Jesus.

When something so momentous as the utter destruction of the temple (a wonder of the ancient world) was announced, it would have naturally evoked associations with the end of this age, which the Jews rightly understood as the beginning of Messiah’s rule from a restored Jerusalem.

They did not understand where Jesus was going, only that He was going away, as announced at the end of Mt chapter 23. Some would wonder if He was going to teach the Gentiles. It is important to remember that the prophecy of Mt 24 came on the same day of the Lord’s rebuke of the Pharisees in ch 23. It is that dialogue that sets up the disciple’s question.

Jesus has just announced that He is leaving and so remain in some other place “until” He is acknowledged by the nation as “He who cometh …” (Mt. 23:39; Ps 118:26; a familiar allusion to the Messiah, see also Mt 11:3; Lk 7:19).

After raising the question of His Messiahship in ch 16 (a title that Jesus refrains from using until His reply at the judgment seat of Caiaphas, the high priest; Mk 14:61-62), the question was definitively settled among His disciples: Not only is Jesus Messiah; He is the exalted Son of God.

Now consider: He has just announced His imminent departure in ch 23. This must have greatly troubled the disciples. Then, with the disciples’ attentions turned to the magnificence of the temple, the time is perfect for the Lord to astonish them even further by declaring its complete and utter destruction. Can you imagine their thoughts?

In such a context, this could only mean the end of the age, which every Jew understood as the beginning of Messiah’s rule over the nation’s from Zion’s contested hill (Ps 2). For this, a departed Messiah would certainly have to return. But it must be remembered that they did not yet know the mystery that the Son of Man coming in clouds of glory, as anticipated in Daniel’s prophecy, would be the Suffering Servant and ‘cut off anointed prince,’ risen, ascended, and returning in glory.

Though He had occasionally alluded to His death and resurrection, the secret was safe, because Jesus well knew that not only would His own disciples NOT understand, the wisdom of the cross would remain hidden even from the demon princes of this age until after its purpose was accomplished. This was the divine strategy (1Cor 2:7-8).

That’s how removed the cross was from anyone’s imagination (Mt. 16:22; Acts 8:34; 1Cor 2:7-8). Only Jesus knew the secret (Isa 53:11). No person, however righteous, and no angel could know the mystery of the gospel of Christ’s twofold appearing to Israel until the time appointed (Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11-12). As foretold by Isaiah, it was purposefully held under divine lock and key (Isa 8:14-17).

The disciples did not therefore imagine that His going away would be by death, nor His return in the clouds of heaven after resurrection and ascension to the throne of glory, as envisioned in Daniel ch 7. But they understood very clearly that the temple’s destruction implied the end of the age, and since there was now complete consensus that Jesus was the Messiah who would rule from David’s throne, the announcement of such a seismic event would quite naturally evoke the very reasonable question, “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”

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