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- Introduction | Daniel the Prophet: Pursuing the Lord’s Mandate
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Exactly what event begins the last seven years? With what certainty can this be recognized?
The usual teaching is that the Antichrist signs a peace treaty with Israel. This is based on Dan 9:27.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. Daniel 9:27
“Which covenant is in view?” has been the question that has occupied interpreters. Is it the covenant that God made with Israel on Sinai? Is it God’s covenant to give Abraham’s descendants the Land as an everlasting possession?. Or is it referring to the New Covenant established in Christ’s blood? Commentators of different schools of thought are quite divided.
So, how this verse is translated and interpreted becomes a very delicate matter, in light of nearly identical terms found within the book (e.g. Dan 8:11-14; 11:31; 12:11) as well as other places, whether the reference is to the desecration of the sanctuary (Ps 74:3, 7-8; Isa 63:18; 64:10-11; Mt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:4; Rev 11:2), or to the half week that begins with this event (Dan 7:25; 9:27; 12:7, 11; Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5).
Whether the last seven years of Daniel’s 70th week is understood as past or future will depend on which of the two princes mentioned in the preceding two verses puts an end to the sacrifice (Dan 9:25-27). If it is Messiah, then the final seven years will be seen to follow the preceding 69 weeks in unbroken sequence. If, on the other hand, the sacrifice is stopped by the future man of lawlessness, then one must recognize a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks.
A gap between the Roman kingdom and the final Antichrist must be observed in chapters 2 & 7 of Daniel. In chapters 8 & 11, the leap is made between the divided Grecian kingdom and the final Antichrist. Rome is passed over.
In many places throughout scripture there is often this mingling and overlapping of near and distant events with no clear distinction of the time that would lapse between them. Often, contemporary events on the near horizon would be portrayed against the background of the climactic completion of the final day of the Lord. This often observed phenomenon, unique to Hebrew prophecy, has been called ‘the near and far” view of prophecy.
This, and the pattern of partial, first-fruits fulfillment that anticipates further completion in the future, lies at the heart of what the NT reveals as the mystery of the kingdom of God, and the mystery of the gospel that reveals an unseen period between the advents. It’s all about the unseen gap! This pattern of a first-fruits, partial fulfillment is seen in the blending of the prophecies that envisioned Israel’s first return from captivity and the ultimate millennial end of exile.
All of this is in perfect keeping with the mystery of Christ’s twofold coming, and the two great mysteries of incarnation that circumscribe this age. The first is the “mystery of godliness” (1 Tim 3:16), fulfilled in Christ’s incarnation and atoning death at the end of the 69th week. The second is what Paul calls, “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess 2:7). This is fulfilled when the spirit of Satan is fully manifest in the flesh of the risen beast, in the middle of the final seven years.
Nothing else so well explains the mystery of the gap as these two mysteries, which perfectly incarnate the woman’s seed in Jesus, and the serpent’s seed in the now-fully empowered man of sin (“all power” …2 Thess. 2:9). The age is appropriately bounded by these two climactic mysteries embodying the great enmity originally put between the two seeds.
This is not the place to enter upon a defense for the view that the 70th week of Daniel is yet future and that the one who removes the regular sacrifice is not the Messiah, but the self-exalting “prince who shall come” (Dan 9:26 with Dan 8:11; 11:31, 36-37; 12:11; 2 Thess 2:4). My question is to those who already take our view: What is the nature of this covenant that begins the seven years?
Is the covenant of Dan 9:27 a newly formed peace agreement, or is it a covenant that already exists? Does the one who ends the sacrifice make ‘a’ firm covenant? Or, does he make firm ‘the’ covenant (in the sense of strengthen, recognize, endorse, or cause to prevail)? On a strictly linguistic, technical basis, either translation is equally legitimate, but what does the context indicate?
Our first interest should be to discover how the word is used in all other instances within the book. We should also be very reluctant to conclude that the reference to the covenant would be something entirely different than Daniel’s first readers would have understood.
The covenant with which they were familiar is the “holy covenant” mentioned in Dan 9:4; 11:28, 30, 32. As understood at the time, this would include more than God’s covenant oath to Abraham concerning the Land, or His new covenant promise to Jeremiah. It would also include all the holy assignments and ordinances connected to the temple and the law.
We see this in the use of the term in Dan 9:4, where Israel’s violation of the covenant receives all the penalties threatened in Lev 26, Deut 28-32, and Dan 9:7-14. Clearly, Daniel’s first readers would have made no such dissociation between the covenant of Dan. 9:27 and the holy covenant mentioned in Dan 11:28, 30.
What then has inclined interpreters to so completely dissociate the covenant of Dan 9:27 from the holy covenant of Dan 11:28, 30? Since Paul so clearly cites Dan 11:36-37 in 2 Thess 2:4, there is usually little disagreement that the Antichrist and the final events of the end are in view from Dan 11:36 to the end of chapter 12.
With only a few very notable exceptions, the consensus among most contemporary academic commentaries is nearly monolithic: Dan 11:21-35 was all fulfilled within the 2nd century B.C., between the rise of Antiochus IV in 175 B.C. and the end of his persecution of the Jews (167-165 B.C.). This means that conservative scholars of all schools will usually (but not always) put the gap between verses 35 and 36.
Those who see the covenant as confirmed by Jesus consider it to be the everlasting/new covenant promised in the prophets, not the ‘holy covenant’ that was attacked by Antiochus. Accordingly, they see the covenant as a peace treaty or alliance signed by a future Antichrist, but make no connection at all between this and anything that could be called holy.
Others, most often those of liberal leaning in their view of prophecy, see Antiochus Epiphanes as the one who removes the sacrifice in all four references in Daniel (Dan 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). For them, the covenant in view is the same throughout, as most readily recognized by Daniel’s first readers.
The discussion is too involved to enter upon a defense of our position at this point, but all lines of evidence, both from within the text and a careful reading of the documented history of Antiochus IV, lead us to conclude that many commentators have been far too hasty to assume that all the events of Dan 11:21-35 were entirely fulfilled in the person of Antiochus. Other scholars (some highly acclaimed – Jerome, Tregelles, Watson, Keil, Lang, Emerson) argue that many of the details of the text were not sufficiently met in the history of Antiochus’ rise and fall. This, of course, demands that we look for a future fulfillment.
Futurists very reasonably infer that the covenant is related to a peace agreement, since a number of scriptures show that the Antichrist invasion of the Land takes place at a time when the fledgling new nation is dwelling securely (Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26, with Isa 28:15, 18; Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24; 1Thess 5:3).
Ezekiel depicts Israel as dwelling securely, enjoying millennial-like conditions. However, this security is very clearly not millennial, but a false security, since the attack by Gog ends, not with the eternal state, but with the day of the Lord (Eze 39:8 with Rev 16:17), the burying of bodies and burning of weapons (Eze 39:9-16), but most importantly with Israel’s final and complete redemption (Eze 39:22-29). This tells us that the invasion of Gog takes place before Israel comes to faith on the day of the Lord (Eze 39:8, 22 with Rev 16:14-17).
Furthermore, some translations of Eze 39:26 show this interval of security to be a period during which Israel’s sins increase, placing it in marked contrast to the righteousness that attends the security that will be Israel’s in the millennium. This raises the question: is this peace the result of the Antichrist’s support for the “holy covenant” that implies recognition of Israel’s right to the Land and acceptance of Jewish worship on the forbidden Temple Mount?
Isaiah will show that the final desolation comes when Jerusalem’s rulers will lightly dismiss the prophetic warning of impending invasion because they have (evidently very recently) entered into a “covenant with death and hell” (Isa 28:15-18). Paul is doubtless referring to these OT prophecies when he speaks of those who will be “saying ‘peace and safety’” when sudden destruction comes upon them like birth pangs upon a woman (1 Thess 5:3 with Isa 13:8; 26:16-17; 66:8; Mic 5:3; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1).
Daniel, however, will speak of one who comes in ‘peaceably’ (KJV), “in time of security” (ASV), “in a time of tranquility” (NASU), “when its people feel secure” (NIV), and obtain the kingdom ‘by flatteries”, variously translated as fair words, intrigue (Dan 11:21). Depending on which translation best captures the meaning, it appears there is already some measure of security already existing in the region when he comes to power.
Can we imagine this? Our translations differ, but the question will depend on whether we understand the best reading as “at a time of peace”, or “peaceably”. The translation that seems most consistent in its use of similar language in Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24 appears to indicate that perhaps not peace itself, but the promise of peace is being extended, but as a strategy of deceit, to obtain political advantage.
And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. Daniel 11:23
It appears that immediately after the fateful “league” is made with him, he begins to work deceitfully, and from the larger context, this deceitful working takes the form of plotting against the conditions that were caused to prevail by his confirmation of the covenant centered at Jerusalem.
If we are correct to interpret Dan 11:21-45 of the future Antichrist as only prefigured by Antiochus, it appears that this alliance takes place at the same time that he, with many others, confirms “the holy covenant”. This would seem to suggest that the covenant of Dan 9:27 is being confirmed at the same time that the alliance of Dan 11:23 is being made between the Antichrist, Israel, and evidently many other nations.
Commentators have also taken different views of the identity of the “many” in Dan 9:27. Is the covenant being ratified between Israel and the Antichrist only, or is this something that the Antichrist does together with other participating nations? We think the latter.
In any event, the single most important question, decisive for all else, is whether or not the covenant of Dan 9:27 is the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30. We note that in both places, there is the abolition of the sacrifice. This is often overlooked by the popular view. The covenant in Dan 9:27 stands in the same connection with the sacrifice as the holy covenant in Dan 11:28-32. This must not be missed!
Therefore, if the taking away of the sacrifice in Dan 11:31 is the same event described in Dan 12:11, then how can it be reasonably denied that this is the event that begins the half week of Dan 7:25; 9:27; 12:7, 11? From Dan 12:1-2, 7, 11, it becomes clear that the half week ends in nothing short of the deliverance of Israel and the resurrection of the dead. By solid, irrefutable exegesis, it is the same covenant violated by the same act of desecration.
But this brings the supreme paradox. How does the AC “confirm” (in the sense of approve or strengthen) a covenant that is holy if this is indeed the same covenant that he so vehemently hates and conspires to destroy? (Dan 11:23-24, 28-31). We are about to see why this is such a mystery that has defied clear resolution until these end days (Dan 12:4, 9).
Whatever else recognition of the holy covenant might include (such as Jewish right to the Land), it must also include the presence of the “holy place” in Jerusalem (Mt 24:15-16; 2 Thess 2:4). The standing again of the “temple of God” (2Thes 2:4) is certainly required if there is to be a sacrifice that is taken away only 3 ½ years (the half week) before the end (Dan 9:27; 12:1-2, 7, 11).
A comparison of texts within Daniel will show the following: the Antichrist begins as a “little horn” (Dan 7:8; 8:9). Is this metaphor only to indicate that he will arise in a kingdom that is lesser in size and strength than any of the four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom? If we observe the language of Dan 11:23, it seems that the term ‘little horn’ signifies a “small people”. This may suggest a kingdom that is even lesser in size and strength in its beginning than the ten kingdoms he unites in common cause against the covenant.
He comes from the north of Israel. According to Dan 8:9; 11:20-21, this could be anywhere within the general region of the ancient Seleucid (Syrian) empire that ruled from Damascus to Babylon.
Judging from the use of the prepositions in Dan 7:8, 24, it appears that the kingdom that gives rise to the Antichrist is one that comes up “among” the ten, sometime “after” they have already been established as kingdoms. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the Antichrist takes his rise in a fledgling new power after a predecessor has ruled only a “few days” (Dan 11:20). Nothing in history has adequately fulfilled these details of Daniel’s prophecy. Antiochus, whom most commentaries credit with fulfilling vs. 20, ruled, not a “few days” (even if taken metaphorically), but a full twelve years!
From the text, we see that after rising to power an ill-fated alliance is struck by Israel with the AC (Dan 11:23-24) – the proverbial ‘deal with the Devil’. Is this human alliance the same as the holy covenant that the Antichrist does not make, but only confirms? There is an important difference.
It appears that there are two sides to the arrangement: as part of a treacherous human alliance, the Antichrist apparently agrees to confirm (support and endorse) what the Jews regard as holy. This is something he personally hates and begins very shortly to plot against (Dan 11:23-24, 28-30).
On one side, it is confirmation of the holy covenant that recognizes Jewish right to land and temple service. On the other side, Jewish obedience has been made to depend on the frailty of a human alliance, this time the Antichrist himself. This is what Isaiah is calling an ill-fated “covenant with death and hell” (Isa 28:15, 18).
This resolves the paradox of how it is that something can be at once a covenant with death and hell where the Jews are concerned, yet show the great desolator who will take away the sacrifice to be one among many who confirms the holy covenant (Dan 9:27; 11:23).
[Note: Contrary to popular opinion, the anger of God does not burn against the Jews because some want to rebuild the temple and offer sacrifice according to the law. Far from it, His deep umbrage with them will be on the basis of what it has always been: trust in the arm of the flesh. This longstanding misplaced trust will at last sell them into the hand of the final Antichrist. It is the deadly presumption that lasting peace can exist apart from lasting righteousness, that is, the “everlasting” righteousness” (Dan 9:24) that can come only through the Spirit of “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:5-6).]
For these reasons we are led to expect a multinational peace agreement between many nations. This particular peace must include within its provisions a formal recognition of the holy covenant. This will necessarily include, not only recognition of safe borders, but rights of access to the presently forbidden Temple Mount, particularly to attend to the service of the temple according to the law of Moses.
Many nations will oppose and rage against what the Antichrist with many nations have agreed to confirm. We know this because it is with such nations that the Antichrist will have secret intelligence, plotting to overthrow the covenant and recapture Jerusalem (Dan 11:28-30). We can safely add the word, “secret” intelligence, because it is plain from scripture that Israel will not be expecting the invasion of the united forces under the Antichrist.
As noted, some translations imply that the alliance with the AC takes place at a time of security (Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24). Others indicate only trickery and surprise. Even now, as of the recent “Abraham Accords”, regional nations, some of longstanding antagonism, are beginning to pursue normalized relations with Israel. So it is entirely possible that there will be a comparative measure of peace before the many confirm the covenant. It appears that the Antichrist is one among many who “confirm the covenant” (holy covenant) at the same time the “league” is being made with him (Dan 9:27; 11:23).
In this way something holy is being confirmed (supported, endorsed) by one who secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) despises what he has so recently confirmed. This is the great paradox! Little wonder it has not been more recognized by the exegetical commentaries. What scenario of political expediency could possibly incline the Antichrist to enter into an agreement (alliance / league) that will evidently entail his support for something that he vehemently hates and begins almost immediately to plot against? (Dan 11:23-34; 11:28-30). Does his compliance owe to some political pressure?, or, is this a planned strategy intended to pretend compliance until the passionately pursued opportunity presents itself?
If we are correct to identify the covenant of Dan 9:27 with the holy covenant of Dan 11:28, 30, it would appear that the holy covenant is confirmed at the same time certainly Israel, evidently with other nations, enter into the deadly “league” with the man who will prove their greatest adversary. This is the dark side, the “human” side of the agreement that is rightly called, “a covenant with death and hell,” precisely because its basis is a naive trust in man. This is the very deep contention that God has always had with His covenant nation.
So all scriptural evidence, duly considered, contemplates a two sided phenomenon that takes place paradoxically at the same time. This is how something can be at once a covenant with death and hell, even while unholy nations unite to confirm an ancient covenant that is holy. Most apparently, this is a multi-national agreement to recognize Jewish right to the Land of promise and freedom to practice their commanded worship in the appointed place. This will likely take place in connection with a human peace arrangement that will be enforced by a multinational peace keeping force.
But note carefully:
The peace that will be in place when the AC confirms the covenant to start the last seven years must be one that is completely without precedent. We know this because scripture shows that Israel’s guard is relaxed, leaving the nation quite unsuspecting of what’s about to hit them (Isa 28:15-18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 11:23-24; 1Thess 5:3). And not only Israel, but I speculate that this shock and the fire that the ten will bring upon the harlot (Rev 17:16) will doubtless include, not only Jerusalem, but the west, with even some of the moderate Arab nations that were favorable toward the peace. This would include the Gulf States of the Arabian Peninsula (ancient Sheba and Dedan; see Eze 38:13), and most certainly Egypt (see Isa 19).
If, with all of this, one could remain uncertain of the time, it will soon enough become very clear that the covenant so lately confirmed by the Antichrist is the one that begins the seven years. This will be known by the starting again of the daily sacrifice. According to Dan 8:11-14, the sacrifice does not start immediately after the covenant is confirmed. It starts 2300 days (6 1/3 years) before the end, and is stopped 3 1/2 years before the end (Dan 12:7, 11).
This means the sacrifice begins somewhere between the eighth and tenth months of the first year after the covenant has been confirmed. The reason the exact time is not easy to fix is because the 2300 days do not end with the return of Jesus (the precise day and hour unknown), but with the “cleansing of the sanctuary” (Dan 8:13).
Since this point has most likely to do with the “anointing of the most holy place” as one of the end goals of Dan 9:24, the reference to cleansing the sanctuary seems to be part of the dedication ceremony of the new temple. Precisely where this event will fall within the mysterious extension of days in Dan 12:11-12 is difficult to say.
In all other instances where the sacrificed was stopped (Nebuchadnezzar; Antiochus, Titus), it had been in session for centuries. Unlike any of these examples, the sacrifice is one that has not been only recently restarted. Our interpretation of Dan 8:11-14 as future is further confirmed by the observation that the temple that the Antichrist enters to desecrate is one that has only recently come back into Jewish possession (see Isa 63:18; 64:10-11).
By this we know that well before the Antichrist invades Israel and enters the temple, the saints will have opportunity to see many things that will confirm that they have entered the final seven. This will be a tremendous gift to the body and the world. But for those who persist in unbelief in the face of such massive evidence of fulfilled prophecy will become much more accountable and without excuse.
It is another discussion, but knowing the time when it is ‘time to know the time’ will be an unspeakably invaluable gift to the saints. This is because of all that God has invested in the use he intends to make of that complete certainty when the time comes.
“When this agreement shall have been confirmed, the wise will know that the final Seven of years has commenced, that the end days are present, that the consummation of the age has arrived. They will expect the violation of the covenant after three years and a half, and will not be overwhelmed with surprise, have been told beforehand by this prophecy. Then will it be seen in fullness that the knowledge of the prophetic Scripture is simply priceless.” (G.H. Lang, “The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel”; 1940)
In assessing the significance of the recent Abraham Accord for its present impact and future portent, we must be careful to distinguish things that differ, lest we overstate and discredit the testimony. Let me explain.
The particular peace agreement that begins the last seven years must be one that not only includes multi-national support for a peace arrangement that brings unprecedented peace to the region (Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24; 1Thes 5:3). It must also include recognition and support for “the holy covenant” in particular (see Dan 9:27 in light of Dan 11:28, 30, 32). This is something far more than a mere peace agreement signed by the Antichrist. That theory is in timely need of serious re-examination!
So what is the “holy covenant”? In Dan 11:28, 30, where this particular phrase is used, it clearly has to do with Jewish temple worship at Jerusalem. Whatever else the holy covenant includes (Jewish right to the Land promised to Abraham’s descendents, etc.), it must include the presence of the temple (or at least the beginnings of a temple) and Jewish return (recent return; Isa 63:18; 64:10-11, with Dan 8:13-14) to the daily offering of sacrifice on the temple mount in Jerusalem (Dan (9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15-16; 2Thes 2:4). It is precisely “the holy covenant” situated at Jerusalem that the AC so vehemently hates and, with other dissenting nations (Dan 11:27, 30), conspires to destroy (Dan 11:23-31).
The single question that so greatly affects our interpretation of all else is this: is the covenant that is “confirmed” in Dan 9:27 the same covenant that is called “holy” in Dan 11:28, 30? If it is, this brings the consummate paradox. How does the AC “confirm” (in the sense of approve or strengthen) a covenant that is holy? We are about to see why this is such a mystery that has defied clear resolution until these end days (Dan 12:4, 9).
From the larger context of Daniel, with key related passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel especially, we see that the AC takes advantage of what appears an already existing peace (he comes in ‘peaceably’; Dan 8:25; 11:21, KJV; others translate, “at a time of security / tranquility” ASV; NASB, “when its people feel secure” NIV). It is in this already existing climate of relative security (many translate “prosperity”; cf. Eze 38:12-13; Joel 2:3; Dan 11:41) that he “obtains the kingdom (already existing kingdom) by flatteries / stealth / treachery (Dan 11:21).
Whether at that time, or some point shortly after, “many” (we infer ‘many’ nations; see Dan 9:27) enter into an alliance with him.
23”And AFTER the league (treaty) made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.”
Remember, compared to other regional powers, he is called a “little horn” (Dan 7:8; 8:9).
It appears that he has very lately risen to power in a comparatively small, possibly new nation somewhere to the north of Israel (Dan 8:9). Judging by the use of prepositions ‘in’ and ‘among’ in Dan 7:8, 24, we may safely infer that the ten nations that he will later unite against the covenant are already in existence when he comes to power in what is evidently a fledgling new nation that has recently emerged. (“out of one of them”, i.e., one of the four primary divisions of Alexander’s empire; Dan 8:9; 11:20-21).
From the text, we see that after rising to power in a comparatively small (and possibly recently formed nation from somewhere within the former Seleucid kingdom that once stretched from Damascus to Babylon), during a time of what appears an already existing regional security (Dan 11:21, 24), an ill-fated alliance is struck with the AC (Dan 11:23-24), the proverbial ‘deal with the Devil’. Is this human alliance the same as the covenant that is ‘confirmed’ in Dan 9:27?
If the covenant of Dan 9:27 is indeed the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30, then the answer is no; they are not the same. There is a crucial distinction, but this alliance is, without doubt, the “covenant with death and hell” (Isa 28:15, 18) that we may infer takes place at the same time that the AC confirms the holy covenant “with the many” (Dan 9:27).
This suggests a satisfying resolution to the paradox of how something can be at once a covenant with death and hell, while at the same time ‘the’ holy covenant is being confirmed by the Antichrist (probably as one among others; Dan 9:27; 11:23). It is different sides of the same coin, evidently occurring at the same time.
[Note: Contrary to popular opinion, the anger of God does not burn against the Jews because some want to rebuild the temple and offer sacrifice according to the law. Far from it, His deep umbrage with them will be what it has always been, trust in the arm of the flesh, which long standing misplaced trust will at length sell them into the hand of the final Antichrist. It is the deadly presumption that lasting peace can exist apart from lasting righteousness, that is, the “everlasting” righteousness” (Dan 9:24) that can come only through the Spirit of “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:5-6).]
Apparently, a multinational peace agreement includes within its provisions, formal recognition of Israel’s right to exist in the land that will now, at last, be recognized as theirs, not by all, but by the moderate nations seeking normalization at the probable expense of Turkish, Iranian, and Palestinan insult and rage.
[Note: I have shown elsewhere that the best interpretation of Dan 8:11-14 argues that the sacrifice does not start immediately after the covenant is confirmed, but somewhere between the eighth and tenth months of the first year, depending on where one sees the finishing point within the added days of Dan 12:11-13.]
We know the alliance with the AC takes place at a time of security / tranquility (implied in Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24). Could this state of affairs pre-exist the AC’s confirmation of the covenant? I think that is a possibility. Even now, as of the recent “Abraham Accords”, regional nations, some of long standing antagonism, are beginning to pursue normalized relations with Israel. So it is entirely possible that there will be a comparative measure of peace before the peace. But note carefully. The peace that will be in place when the AC confirms the covenant to start the last seven years must be one that is completely without precedent. We know this because scripture shows that Israel’s guard is relaxed, leaving the nation quite unsuspecting of what’s about to hit them (Isa 28:15-18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 11:23-24; 1Thes 5:3). And not only Israel, but I think this shock and the fire that the ten will bring upon the harlot will doubtless include, not only Jerusalem, but the west and evidently the moderate nations that were favorable of the peace. This would be the Gulf States of the Arabian Peninsula (ancient Sheba and Dedan; see Eze 38:13), and most certainly Egypt (see Isa 19).
It seems clear that the AC confirms the covenant at the same time he and other nations enter into the deadly alliance that ends in disaster for Israel. We also know that disaster comes 3 ½ years after the covenant of Dan 9:27 has been confirmed by the AC, evidently as one among ‘many’ others.
As stated above, it is one thing to enter into an agreement with Israel and other nations that secures a regional peace. It is quite another matter to “confirm” (not make in the sense of create, but to ‘make firm’ in the sense of strengthen, support, give formal approval or recognition) a covenant that is shown within the same book of Daniel to be, not ‘a’, but THE “holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30). So why would the AC “confirm” (in the sense of approve or strengthen) a covenant that is holy? No wonder this has been so overlooked by commentators!
If we are correct to understand that the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30 to be none other than the covenant that the AC confirms in Dan 9:27, we see that from the beginning of the alliance of Dan 11:23, he immediately begins to “work deceitfully”, as he swiftly increases in power.
If we are correct to make the connection between the covenant of Dan 9:27 and the holy covenant of Dan 11:28, 30, this means that the AC despises and plots to overthrow the same holy covenant he has so recently confirmed (Dan 11:27, 30). Of course, with few exceptions, this is not recognized by scholars in most of the commentaries on Daniel. This is because most tend to apply Dan 9:27 either to Antiochus IV (died 164 B.C.), or to Jesus who, it is claimed, terminated the sacrifice, not literally or actually (until 40 years later in 70 A.D), but ended its spiritual efficacy (it was never efficacious) by the once and for all sacrifice of His blood.
The interpretation will depend on which prince stops the regular sacrifice. Was it Antiochus, Jesus, or a future Antichrist (man of lawlessness)? If Antiochus, the math is fuzzy at best, as even admitted by the advocates of that view. If Jesus, then we must ask what great “consummation” or end came exactly seven years after He confirmed the covenant?
Moreover, if Jesus caused the sacrifice to cease, this is at variance with every other mention throughout the book. In every instance, it is always the evil, self exalting “prince who shall come” who stops the sacrifice, and this event always sets in motion the “time of the end” (cf. Dan 8:11; 9:26-27; 11:31; 12:11). What significant “end” did the seventh year after Jesus’ baptism bring? Advocates of this view are divided, but usually suggest that the end of the seventieth week came with either the death of Stephen or the conversion of Paul. Rather anticlimactic I’d say; especially when the whole book of Daniel designs to answer the question, “how long”?. The nation will be delivered at the “time of the end”, the same time the dead are raised (Dan 12:1-2), and this will happen exactly “a time, times, and a half”, somewhere within the approximate range of the 1260 -1290 -1335 days AFTER the stopping of the daily sacrifice. Clearly, this is the half week of Daniel’s 70th week that so greatly occupies the Revelation (Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5).
It is also typical for scholars (certainly not all) to apply Dan 11:21-35, not to the future Antichrist who enters the temple “in Jerusalem” (Mt 24:15-16; Rev 11:2), takes away the sacrifice, and declares himself God above all (Dan 11:31, 36-37; Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:4), but rather to Antiochus IV of the second century B.C. But such an interpretation makes poor observation that while Antiochus may have been a significant type of the coming Antichrist, in so many particulars within the text itself, he falls far short of the many outstanding details that received no adequate fulfillment in the second century B.C., clearly demanding a much more complete and plenary fulfillment in the future, but that’s another rather involved discussion.
It appears then that it is the holy covenant itself that the AC confirms, apparently at the same time Israel (with many other nations), enters into an alliance with him. We judge this because this marks the time he begins to “work deceitfully” (evidently against the covenant). This he does as he “comes up and becomes strong” (grows swiftly in power), either by means of “a small people”, or perhaps by his exploitation of a small people (insignificant people, or few in number?, the word, “number” is supplied by the translators in some translations).
After a strategic power grab (of a nation to his south, not necessarily Egypt; Dan 11:25 with Dan 11:42), he begins to secretly court the support of other dissenting nations in his plot against the holy covenant. This obviously implies his passion to capture Jerusalem (compare Dan 11:27, 30). I insert the word, “secretly”, because the “intelligence” he has with those who share his hatred of the covenant is manifestly a secretive conspiracy to invade. This is evident since the final destruction comes suddenly and without notice (see Isa 28:15-18; Eze 38:8-13; Mt 24:15-16; 1Thes 5:3; Rev 12:6, 14).
So from the very first, immediately “AFTER the league made with him”, he is seen plotting and planning against the “holy covenant” that he confirmed with other nations, granting Israel’s right to exist, not only exist, but to practice their ancient worship on the divinely designated temple mount. This is the covenant he confirms with many. There may be other peace treaties, signed by any number of participants, but this is what begins the seven years, nothing less!
Whether out of necessity or strategic opportunity, the AC confirms what he, with other dissenting nations, passionately despises. Yet he apparently breaks ranks with the others who vehemently oppose the covenant (Iran, Syria,Turkey, etc.). Until his strategic plotting solidifies into the union of the ten, the AC is apparently only one among the “many” more moderate nations that confirm the covenant. This means he pretends an initial support for what he begins very early to plot against. As events of the first half of the week progress (Dan 11:23-30), his intentions are disguised as he secretly courts compliance and unification with the disaffected resistors who evidently refuse this powerfully imposed, but passionately hated peace that includes forced recognition of the holy covenant.
Whether under necessity or opportunity, the AC will agree to make this highly deceptive concession to Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, but only for a time. From the very beginning of the alliance, he “works deceitfully” to plot and plan against what he so recently confirmed. When the time is right, he covertly courts the union of the ten. This is apparently those nations who are stalwart resistors of the peace, particularly any peace that grants Jewish ritual and worship on the forbidden temple mount.
A modern application of Dan 11:21-32 will suggest that those “who forsake the holy covenant” in Dan 11:30, 32 are not only the dissenting nations that wanted no part of the peace, but also those who after the peace is broken, begin to forsake and flee from any identification with the Jews in flight. Favorable relations with Jews will be a death sentence, as experienced, not only be Christians, but be some of the moderate nations that supported the peace (compare Eze 38:13, Sheba and Dedan, modern Gulf States, and Egypt; Isa 19). to Israel will certainly attract Antichrist rage, as so well demonstrated in the tribulation assault on Egypt (Isa 19). Relation to Israel association with the Jews .
In modern terms, this would be recognition, (whether voluntarily or constrained) of Israel’s right to exist in their own land, with particular formal recognition and acceptance of the right of Jewish attendance to situate their sanctuary on the forbidden Temple Mount and to shortly begin the regular sacrifice. That is what the idea of the “holy covenant” in Dan 11:28, 30, 32 (and therefore, we would argue, Dan 9:27) has particularly in view.
As best I can see, this is what the cumulative evidence, taken in strictest context, would seem to indicate. This is not to minimize the huge, on time stride in the right direction that the Abraham Accord represents. We do well to take heed, especially if we believe that we are nearing the end of Hosea’s two days (Hos 5:15 – 6:2). It is just to say, there remain some formidable political mountains that must be removed before the seven years can begin.
Recognizing this will keep us from premature declarations, so that when the time does confirm itself beyond question by the more definite signal events, we may move as one man with holy boldness, instructing many, and turning many to righteousness (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10; Rev 7:9, 13-14). It will be the church’s finest hour!
These be the days! Reggie
If the necessary preceding events fall into place within the next few years, then yes, we could be as little as ten years away.
If we interpret the thousand years of Rev 20 as literal and exact (rather than symbolic or approximate), then we have our key to the three days of Hos 6:2. The question in dispute is whether this is a key that God intends. Or is this merely symbolic of a brief period of time, as thought by most commentators?
But what is brief about two days if it represents the whole duration of the age of exile and covenant judgment? And why is the golden age of Jewish hope limited to only one day (i.e., “the third day”)? Surely a mystery is invested in this unusual usage that is set to serve its greatest purpose at the time of the end (Dan 12:4, 9).
One thing should be undeniably clear. The “affliction” of Hos 5:15 can be nothing less than the great tribulation of the latter days spoken of by Moses and all the prophets. Beginning with Moses, this transitional event was seen as the great dividing line between “this age” of estrangement and covenant judgement, and “the age to come” of ultimate covenant fulfillment when the nation’s perennial blindness would be lifted forever (Deut 29:4; Isa 6:10-11; 32:13-17; Eze 39:22, 28-29).
It is well documented that many have understood the course of civilization to be on a scale of six millennia given to the government of man (the number of man), and a seventh, millennial sabbath of the kingdom of God on earth. On this reckoning, the metaphorical third day envisions the millennium of Rev 20.
So the “third day” as the post-tribulational millennium becomes our key to the duration of the two days as the end of Israel’s covenant estrangement, and God’s temporary disownment and desertion, in the foretold hiding of His face (Deut 31:17-18; 32:20; Isa 54:8; 64:7; Hos 1:9-10; 2:23; 3:5; 4:6; 5:6, 15; Mic 3:4; 5:3; Eze 39:23-24, 28-29). If the third day begins at the end of a yet future tribulation, this can only mean that the two days must be reckoned, not from the beginning of exile in 722 B. C., but from some point approximately 2000 years before the end of the final tribulation.
The question of what determines the point that begins the two days must be something of awesome magnitude. This is strongly hinted in Hos 5:15 in comparison with Mic 5:1-3. The context assumes, not the general apostasy of the nation, such as would not discontinue seasons of blessing, even occasional revival up to the time of Jesus. No, this is something more final.
The offense that Israel is confessing at the end of the tribulation is the ultimate provocation that reached its climax in the rejection of the Son. What else would be sufficient cause for such an age long abandonment?
I will go and return to my place,
till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face:
in their affliction they will seek me early.
Micah 5:1-3 tells us plainly what that consummate offense was. It was the smiting of the ruler ruler from Bethlehem. Only this could evoke such solemn words that so well sum up the long and tortured history of the Jewish people.
Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops:
he has laid siege against us:
they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
But you, Bethlehem Ephratah,
though you be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of you shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Therefore (for this cause) will he give them up,
until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth:
then shall the remnant of his brethren return …
Commentators will typically say that the one who is smitten with a rod upon the cheek (a metaphor for cruel humiliation) was the king of Israel. (Commentators are divided as to whether this was Hoshea at the time of the Assyrian invasion, or Zedekiah at the time of the Babylonian invasion). But notice, what if the judge (ruler) of Israel in verse one is the pre-existent ruler from Bethlehem of verse two, the Messiah from David’s line?
This alone is sufficient to explain the gravity and tragic implications of what takes place as the result of the smiting of the judge. It is the age long “giving up” of the elect nation. Nothing could be more solemn and full of tragic portent. If I am Jewish, contemplating the saga of my nation’s tragic history, this verse should evoke the deepest emotion. Notice carefully the decisive connective, “therefore”, in verse three.
What is the ‘therefore’ there for? To what does the ‘therefore’ of verse three refer to as the causal source of what follows? We must ask, what offense, what momentous provocation is sufficient cause for God to use such solemn and foreboding words as these? “Therefore (for this cause) shall He give them up UNTIL the time when she who travails has come to birth” (compare Isa 13:8; 26:16-17; 66:8; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1).
What cause could be so great enough for God to withdraw and hide His face? This is the language of divine desertion! This is wrath upon the “people of My wrath” (Isa 10:6; Lk 21:22-23). To answer this question is to identify a particular “offense”, not offenses (plural) or guilt in general, but ‘THE’ consummate offense (singular) that moved the Lord to “go and return to My place”.
The implications are as clear as they are profound. With the ultimate rejection of God in the person of the Son, the larger part of the nation would be “given up” until the post-tribulational birth / resurrection of the fallen nation (Isa 66:8).
[I cannot speak of Mic 5:1-4 without mentioning how beautifully typified this reunion is by the reunion of Joseph to his estranged brethren. Here, as also typified in the weeping of Zech 12:10, Joseph’s brethren come in bowed submission to their brother, exactly as in the dream that so angered them as to plot his murder. The parallels are sublime!]
With Israel’s fateful “fall” (Ro 11:11-12), the foretold stumbling at the tested cornerstone laid in Zion, as the glory of the Lord had departed from the temple in Ezekiel’s vision, so now the Lord of glory departs from the temple with the words, “Your house is left to you desolate. You will not see Me again UNTIL you will say, ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Mt 23:39). In a few days, He rises, and after 40 days returns to His Father’s right hand, there waiting ‘UNTIL’ His enemies are made His footstool.
Can this all be incidental, unrelated to Hos 6:2, so that the three days are nothing more than a mere metaphor for an indeterminate period of time? That is the question each one will have to answer in their own heart before the Lord. This is a mystery. It is somewhat hidden for a purpose. It is for babes, not for those who are wise in their own eyes.
Nothing else so well agrees, not only with the immediate context, but with the mystery of the two comings that progressive revelation will bring to light at the appointed time (1Cor 2:7-8). If the two days are to be reckoned from the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, and if they are to be taken with the same literalness and exactness of the millennial third day, then, yes, we are fast approaching His return to within a decade or very closely thereabouts.
Where better to mark the beginning of the two days than the Lord’s departure to the Father’s right hand, after what Paul will call Israel’s “fall”? (Ro 11:11-12). This climactic fall and special hardening does not begin with the exile. Nor is it simply the continuum of Israel’s perennial blindness and covenant dereliction, reaching back to Moses (Deut 4:25-27; 29:4). No, this is reckoned from the time that Israel stumbled at the rejected cornerstone (Ps 118:22; Isa 8:14; 28:16; Mt 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1Pet 2:4, 6-8).
From this point, and not before, “a door of faith” was opened, as God began now to “visit the gentiles to call out from them a people for His name” (compare Mat 10:5; 15:26-27; 28:19 , with Acts 14:27; 15:14). This special, very unexpected ‘pre-tribulational’ visitation of the gentiles will continue “UNTIL” the fullness of the gentiles has come in” at the time of the Deliverer’s return to Zion. (Isa 59:20-21; Ro 11:25-27).
Note that it was well known that the nations would be blessed by Israel’s return and exaltation AFTER the tribulation. It was unknown that the gentiles would be made fellow heirs by the revelation of the gospel BEFORE Israel’s national day of deliverance. That a great installment of the promise to bless all nations through Abraham’s seed would be fulfilled while Israel yet remained in blindness and further exile was unknown and unexpected. This belonged to the mystery hidden in other ages (Ro 16:25-26; Eph 3:4-6, 9; 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 4:3).
Though not anticipated, this astonishing turn of events was nonetheless prophesied by Moses and Isaiah (Deut 32:21; Isa 49:5-6; 56:8; 65:1; Mt 21:43; Ro 10:19; 1Pet 2:10). This would be the time when an alien people (Isa 28:11), a “no people”, a “foolish nation”, would be chosen to provoke the wayward nation to jealousy (Deut 32:21; Isa 28:11; 49:5-6; 56:8; 65:1; Mt 21:43; Ro 10:19; 1Pet 2:10). How appropriate if this hidden interim should last 2000 years in agreement with the two days that exist between the Lord’s return to the Father’s right hand at the end of the 69th week, and His return to destroy the Antichrist and establish His reign over restored Israel at the end of the 70th.
The question of how literally and exactly we can take the three days of Hos 6:2 as symbolic of three millennia will depend on how literal and exact we see the thousand years of Rev 20. This will determine how literal and exact we see the two days that end with the tribulation. If, on the other hand, the thousand years is not literal, or only approximate, as even many premillennialists hold, then Hos 5:15-6:2 must be accounted for in some other way. There is no shortage of suggestions by commentators, though some old school premillennial scholars have long since held the very position we take, and this was many years before our time when the two days are now so close to expiration.
The question is what do we believe of God’s ways to hide His secrets from the wise and prudent as He reveals them to babes? Can this be such a mystery set within the text for His people to search out and detect as the time draws near? And what of the competing interpretations? Which of these do we consider would most glorify the Lord? Of course, it is the interpretation that proves true, but we are also informed by the examples of time prophecies that have already been fulfilled.
We have only to look at Jeremiah’s 70 years and Daniel’s seventy sevens. Some deny, but we have shown that these predicted numbers (except the much disputed final seven of Dan 9:27) were all miraculously fulfilled, very literally and very exactly, to the very year. This tells us something of God’s pattern of commitment to specificity and precision. This demonstration of such amazing chronological accuracy argues well for the literal and precise fulfillment of what remains. After all, when, after “the desolation of many generations” (Isa 61:4), has history ever been so ‘poised’ for the speedy fulfillment of all that remains to be fulfilled before the Lord can return?
With the second Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 132, and the many generations that the Land lay desolate, it naturally became quite un-attractive to tie the return of the Lord to a yet future restoration of Jerusalem and destruction of a yet future temple. But now, since the miracles of 1948 and 1967, we have come full circle! Exactly as the Jerusalem of the first century was a trembling cup, tilting towards ‘a’ (not “THE”) great tribulation, it is the same now again, only this time it is all the nations of the globe that will be burdened with this burdensome stone (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3). The die is cast and we’re on a manifest trajectory for the full balance of all that remains. Who can deny?
So what if His return proves to be “right on time”, according to a mystery of the time indicator that lay hidden in the text, particularly, but not only in Hosea’s prophecy of the two days? Did He not expect His people to be ‘’connecting the dots” at the time of the end? (Dan 12:4, 9). Did He not say, “I have foretold you all things”? (Mk 13:23). Other than the very precise “day and hour”, is there anything pertaining to His plan that He did not most gloriously foretell?
Lest it be said that this is date setting, we ask, was Jeremiah’s 70, or Daniel’s 70 7’s date setting? Did those who received the prophecy know something certainly and definitely about the time? Will those living to see the abomination be unaware that approximately 3 1/2 years remains till His coming in the clouds? Will those living in “those days” after the man of sin is revealed in the temple know they have entered upon the final 3 ½ years? “When you therefore will see the abomination …” Both Jesus and Paul fully expect that the saints living at that time will see this event and know what follows (Mt 24:15-16, 21; 2Thes 2:4).
What of those who will see the fateful peace arrangement (Isa 28:15, 18, Eze 38:8, 11, 14; Dan 9:27; 11:23; 1Thes 5:3). Not just any peace agreement but the one that will permit the return of the orthodox to temple and sacrifice? (Dan 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:14). Will those witnessing this not know that the door of the last seven years has just closed fast behind them?
What an advantage it will be to the bride in her preparation if she knows she has only a little while (the first half of the week) before the Jews will be thrust into the waiting arms of gentile servants and fully equipped witnesses who are prepared to receive them with love and patience, enduring the same afflictions with them, knowing their eyes are very soon to be opened.
Finally, suppose we are wrong in our interpretation. Does this set us up to be ‘date setters’, further discrediting the testimony? Not if we understand what Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and John give as essential preceding criteria that will either qualify or dismiss our interpretation well in advance of any potential false alarms.
Here, we are greatly safeguarded against premature declarations. If the two thousand years (the symbolic two days) pass uneventfully. If by a certain time there has been no temple and no sacrifice, then we have only ventured a reasonable, we think God glorifying, interpretation of the text. Our case is no case at all unless a great deal of preceding fulfillment follows very soon in due order, since 2000 years since Jesus’ departure is almost upon us. But again, how approximate was Jeremiah’s 70, or Daniel’s 69? (Reference the detailed chronology laid out in the Simple Layman series on YouTube. I forget which sessions).
Until such confirming events are clearly in view, we must be committed to caution. Both Jesus and Paul give one particular sign on which all else depends, and even this will not come without much that must precede, namely, a disarming peace agreement that permits the return of the regular sacrifice on mount Moriah. So a lot must happen in order for all of this to fall sufficiently into place in the time that these compelling considerations lead us to expect.
In any event, we are safeguarded by this: Our interpretation can be no better than these necessary, verifying preliminarily events. Can so much be fulfilled in so short a time? It will be a wonder to behold! But God is well able. And it just may please Him to wait till very late to move the political mountains that make such a swift transition appear most improbable. I think here of the suddenness with which the Berlin wall came down with the overnight fall of the Soviet Union.
For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
Nonetheless, for many more reasons than brevity will permit, we feel quite sure that such a literal and precise fulfillment is how the Lord has chosen to most wondrously vindicate His faithfulness to foretell all us “all things”, even this. (Amos 3:7; Mk 13:23; Acts 26:22-23; Rev 10:7).
If the two days are reckoned from the cross and the ascension. If they are not approximate but represent two thousand years exactly, this would suggest that as early as the last year of the next administration’s term in office, we could be seeing the start of the final seven.
How will this be recognized? If we have understood correctly, the final seven begins with a deceptive peace arrangement. History has seen many of these, so what distinguishes this from all others?
It is the recognition by many nations of Israel’s covenant right to practice their religion at the designated location in Jerusalem (Dan 9:27). Therefore, if this is indeed the peace that seduces Israel into a fatal false trust (Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:23-24; Mt 24:15-16; 1Thes 5:3; Rev 12:6), it will mean that very soon after this agreement has been ratified, preparations to begin the regular sacrifice will shortly follow.
Not only this, but according to a much disputed portion of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan 10:14-12:13), most commentators (certainly not all) assign to antiquity much that remains still in the future. This is not the place to make the case, but the evidence will show that Dan 11:21 introduces the Antichrist who is only partially and very imperfectly pre-typified by the Syrian tyrant, Antiochus IV, of the second century B.C. It is the Antichrist himself that places the abomination in Dan 11:31 (with Dan 12:11), and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped in Dan 11:36-37 (with 2Thes 2:4).
This suggests that the first half of the week begins with the league / alliance of Dan 11:23. (“AFTER the league made with him he shall work deceitfully and come up and become strong with a small people”). This means that from Dan 11:23-31, we have the first half of the week covered in amazing, very observable detail that will further confirm the time, predicted event following predicted event (a play by play sequence). This will give the believing observer a clear countdown of preceding events leading up to the abomination.
What will this mean for the prophetically informed saints for their crucial preparation and witness? Everything! It will be priceless! Time fails to begin to touch on all that God has invested for our help by telling us all things in advance when we are about to enter upon the greatest global hardship in the history of the planet. Through the power and clarity of the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10), it will be the church’s finest hour (Dan 11:32; Rev 12:10).
I heard a well meaning friend’s complaint that scripture couldn’t possibly intend a literal temple and literal sacrifice because this would be too “formulaic”, too easy for all to recognize. Well, as convincing as this line of reasoning may sound, it fails the test of what I like to call, “the plain person’s plain reading of plain language.”
Never mind this being too obvious. The scripture is clear that despite being put on open display, the true spiritual meaning of these things will utterly elude the wisdom of this age. And that is just the point. These things will NOT be “done in a corner”! On the contrary, the greater the visibility and accessibility of these public events, the greater accountability and exposure of the heart, but also the greater usefulness of the miracle of prophecy for the instruction of an innumerable multitude (Dan 11:33; 12:3 with Rev 7:9, 13-14).
Yet, for all this, the holy messenger says to Daniel, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Dan 12:10). This makes perfect sense of how it is that so late as the 6th bowl, the Lord’s return will yet come upon the unsuspecting wicked as a thief, signs, wonders, and the most prolific fulfillment of prophecy notwithstanding (Rev 16:12-16).
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie
I don’t know if my generation will be the ones who enter into Daniel’s 70th week. It is very hard to believe that I won’t see that in my life time but that’s not up to me. I specifically remember hearing some discussions about in the time of Jacob’s trouble the believers having a role to play. And that role being helping out Jews that are inflight or fleeing. When I first heard that it felt like it sent shock waves through my spirit (in a good way). Would you mind to comment on your thoughts on this and what could that practically look like for a believer in the time of their great distress/tribulation, maybe even specifically for our situation in the US? (I very much love the testimony of the Ten Boom family and it seems like that may be a good picture of what it could be like).
Yes, the story of the Ten Boom family is no accident, nor is the carefully archived history of Nazi Europe. It was a divinely ordained pre-view of the mystery of lawlessness as it will be most fully embodied and revealed in the coming ‘man of lawlessness’. Along with all the general mayhem and lawlessness that will abound (is abounding!), international hatred of the Jew will once more, as never before, be front and center.
Knowing then what the scripture teaches concerning the coming flight of the woman, and the sure promise of divine provision for refuge and survival (Rev 12:6, 14), we ask, “Where is this place? and who are “they” who are appointed to “feed her there”? Will it be ravens, angels, or saints who have “foreseen the evil and hid themselves”? (Prov 22:3; 27:12).
This flight, we expect, will not only be out of Judea into the neighboring wilderness (Mt 24:15-16; for OT background compare Isa 16:1-5; 42:10-14; Dan 11:41 KJV), but from all the great population centers, as far as the long arm of the Antichrist will reach. Jews, with any who harbor them, will be the special target of Antichrist fury and pursuit. This is because Satan’s great dread is for the elect remnant to reach their destination of national salvation at the end of the tribulation. He knows so much better than the church that if the Word concerning Israel’s post-tribulational salvation can fail, so fails the Word of God that condemns him to the lake of fire.
The end that God has appointed is the ultimate, climatic convergence of all the great themes, principles and patterns of the past in final, open demonstration. For Israel, the church, and the world, it is the ultimate test on the widest possible scale.
You ask, “how I expect the believer’s relation to Jews in flight may look, especially in the US?” I suspect it will look very much like it did in the story of the Hiding Place. Yet, I would think it very unfortunate if great lessons are not taken. For example, on a visit to an Ann Franke exhibit, I made note of the great statistical disparity between the rate of Jewish survival within the population centers and those who managed to escape into the countryside. So there’s much practical wisdom that can be gleaned if even a relative certainty concerning the time could be known in advance, but that’s precisely the problem. I’ll come back to this.
Some years back I wrote an article that Art was very keen to post on our website at the time. It was entitled, “A Prophetic Call to Practical Preparation.” As evident in the Corrie Ten Boom story, the “Hiding Place”, there is a practical side to our faith that goes beyond all the inferences and speculations on many of the details that will always be debated. It centers on the substance and essence of what we really believe and expect and what our response should be.
Of course, as always, the only thing ultimately decisive is the issue of being “led by the Spirit”. This may be different in many particulars for different ones in different places, but with any divine trust of revealed truth there comes a corresponding responsibility. If God has spoken, if the lion has roared, if the trumpet has given a certain sound, who can justify the complacency of neglect that accompanies unbelief? The only ultimately decisive question is “has God really said?” All else is relative to that.
So before we can be concerned with what the church ‘should’ believe, our first responsibility is to what we have heard personally and understood for ourselves. The question is never ‘what shall this man do?”, but “you follow Me”.
If we know that the woman will be pursued into a prepared place of hiding, and if we believe this has a world wide application, it follows that the great witness to Israel and the world will be the expectancy and preparation of believers, as based on the sure word of prophecy, most particularly Jesus’ strategic directive in Mt 24:15, “let the reader understand” (Mt 24:15). The Lord expects us to go to Daniel, locate and ‘understand’ this event. By so directing, Jesus knows that we will find much more than this particular event. To understand the abomination of desolation is also to see what precedes and what follows this event, and therefore an entire context that centers around God’s special covenant with the Jews and the meaning of “those days” and the use of this knowledge to “instruct many” and “turn many to righteousness” (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10).
Never will there be a greater opportunity for believers to move Jews to emulation than by the practical provision made by the mouth of their own, rejected Joseph-Messiah. But as long as the wise virgins remain asleep, and as long as there remains great confusion as to the time and order of events that signal the time, it is as the scripture says, “if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle?” (ICor 14:8).
I would personally despair of hope of a mobilized army of prophetically prepared forerunners if I did not believe that God has, in unspeakable kindness and mercy, given us the first half of Daniel’s 70th week to awaken and prepare for the second half of the last seven years. The importance of this could hardly be too stressed.
Yet, not surprisingly, it is the most scorned and denied of all the competing interpretations among ‘futurists’ (those believing in a future tribulation). Not only does the battle rage over Daniel’s authenticity, but over its interpretation, and nowhere else is this more the case than in the question of whether a gap (hidden age) exists between the 69th and 70th weeks of Dan 9:24-27. But so much depends on this crucial knowledge that is key to the preparation of the remnant of the ‘maskilim’ (those having understanding) in those critical, ultimately transitional days.
If God has been so specific in the past (e.g., the 70 years of Jeremiah, the 70 weeks of Daniel, etc.), can it be that He has given His people sufficient sign posts, time markers to show the time that preparation of an unusual and urgent kind should be made? Some of us believe God has revealed (in a somewhat hidden way) a substantial and compelling case that the two days of Hos 6:2 represents the whole time of Jesus’ session at God’s right hand, from the time of Israel’s stumbling to the time of their return when they will enter upon the ‘third day’ as a raised and revived nation fulfilling their millennial destiny (Hos 5:15-6:2; Mic 5:1-4; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7)
The argumentation for this, not so well known or well agreed, is based on more solid and compelling evidence than many suspect, too much to go into here (see “Simple Layman: Teaching the Prophetic Time-line” on youtube). But if true, then God has indeed given something more definite as to the time than most have been led to believe possible, or even conceive as orthodox (“but of that day and hour …”).
Whether such a view can be vindicated remains to be seen. Still, it is something worth keeping an eye on, lest we hastily dismiss God’s provision for His people, but even more His own greater glory in so precisely and completely foretelling all things in advance (Mk 13:23). In any event, God has provided protection against the false alarms of prophetic speculation by a tightly connected constellation of events that will either confirm or deny the presumption that the end of the two days is very near. Yet, unless clarity comes as to the time (when it is time to know the time), it is unlikely that there will be any real, unified, mobilization of the church, even the true body, until very late at best.
The very great doctrinal divide, particularly in the chaos of eschatology, virtually ensures that the time will not only come upon the world as a thief, but many who profess Christ (contrast the two servants of Lk 12:42-48). Even the five wise virgins are depicted as also sleeping when the time arrives. But we may take hope that from some source that is not sleeping comes the midnight call, “Behold, the bridegroom comes! Go out to meet Him!”
There is one thing that greatly puzzles me. It is the fact that quite apart from anything very definite as to the time, I think of young king Josiah when he found the lost book of the law. He had no definite prophetic timeline, no books of Daniel or Revelation. It was enough that he read the proverbial writing on the wall in the threats of the broken covenant (Lev 26; Deut 28-32). This stirred him to sober trembling and repentance. He fled for refuge, not to the wilderness but to righteousness.
Yet, today, even if it were questioned whether we have entered upon the time of the preceding birth pangs. Even if we imagine the time when none may buy or sell might indeed be a good ways off. Still, what do the wise do when they foresee, not perhaps specifically defined prophetic time markers, but a culture and civilization teetering on the brink, under ominously looming judgment? “A prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself but the simple pass on and are punished” (Prov 22:3; 27:12).
Isn’t that enough to greatly question how far invested we have become in a highly integrated, highly interdependent world system under such manifestly looming judgment? (Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Jeremiah 5:9, 29; 9:9). Isn’t that enough to think of practical measures of practical preparation, not as flight, but as wisdom for the sake of the vulnerable and the weak who may not be called to go into places of radical obedience ‘where angels fear to tread’?
The command to flee the proverbial ‘city of destruction’, as the symbolic city of man is first and foremost spiritual, of course, but there comes a time when it is unbelief and sin not to expect plague and curse and calamity when a nation’s cup of iniquity has reached its tilting point. So it is a question much to be considered among the brethren, how, and in what ways can practical measures be taken to provide for our own (Gal 6:10; 1Tim 5:8), and this includes the Lord’s brethren, the hated, hunted Jews of “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Mt 25:40 with Isa 26:16-17; 66:7; 30:6-7; Mic 5:3-4).
When it comes to the wisdom of practical preparation, not as means of escaping persecution, or anything God has ordained, such as the certainty of tribulation (Acts 14:22), of course, but as a practical corollary and witness to what is surely believed (“and being warned of God of things not seen as yet”), isn’t it enough to know the words of the Psalmist concerning the fate of any nation that forgets God? “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps 9:17).
Add these fundamental principles to the never before fulfilled prophecies that are so clearly before us and developing rapidly along an inexorable trajectory of utmost prophetic certainty, it is hard to see how we can continue as though “all things continue”. Is it not time to put feet to our faith and prepare now for the flight of the Jews and our own flight from foolish, excessive, and unnecessary dependency on the world’s system, as though only the last 3 ½ years is our only concern?
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do … (1 Chron 12:32).
Whoever keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knows not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? (Ecclesiastes 8:5-7)
These two things, time and judgment, are particularly hard to bring together. Even if the time is known, what if it is not known what should be done? And even if what should be done is agreed, is the time right?
Our prayer is for the raising up, not merely those who assume to know much about the time, whether general or specific, but those who can instruct and advise, not only in spiritual matters but of practical preparation. Paul says, “you have many teachers but not many fathers.” Where there is hardly, if any agreement concerning the time, or even the possibility of knowing anything at all about the time, there is not likely to be much clarity on what should be done of a practical nature. So until such agreement emerges, perhaps very late into the seven years, each one must answer that question for themselves. I believe we will look back and realize how much was indeed knowable except for our condition to know it.
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie