Sunday, June 15, 2014

Going From Bad to Worse

The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.”    Daniel 9:27  NLT

I imagine most of us are familiar with the old expression, “no deal is better than a bad deal”, and I for one think that the situation Israel is soon to find herself in will be a perfect example of that saying.  Last week we saw that although Israel will soon acknowledge the supernatural intervention of God to defend them, and rebuild the Temple in order to return to the Levitical system of worship, they accept the man of sin as their messiah which sets the stage for all that is to come.  You see, the antichrist does not allow Israel to rebuild the temple solely for themselves, but also because he needs it for an event he has planned for the future.

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.                                      Matthew 24:15-21  NKJV

How many of you have seen the classic old western movie “High Noon” starring Gary Cooper?  The entire movie revolves around the climax, which is a confrontation between the town marshal and the outlaw and his gang who will arrive on the train at high noon.  When the nation of Israel signs a treaty with the antichrist the clock begins on the seventieth week of Daniel.  This is a period of time which the Bible teaches is seven years of three hundred and sixty days each for a total of two thousand five hundred and twenty days.  Unfortunately for Israel, their “High Noon” will occur at the midpoint, or three and one half years into this period of time.

What we are told will happen at that time reveals exactly who the antichrist is, and what his plan has been all along while allowing Israel to rebuild their Temple.  The phrase “abomination of desolation” is found several times in the scriptures and is spoken of  specifically by both Daniel and Jesus.  What it refers to is an event which has occurred once before, and will happen once again at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week.  In 168 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a Greek king that had conquered Israel, erected an altar to Jupiter Olympus in the Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar.

Most all scholars agree that what Jesus is telling us in this passage from Matthew is that at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week, this scenario will be repeated when the antichrist stands in the “holy place” and proclaims himself to be god.  We also find in the book of Revelation that he erects a statue there and commands all to worship it.

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.                                         Revelation 13:11-15  NKJV

This is the “sacrilegious object” Daniel refers to in the passage above, and it is at this point, after just three and a half years, that in Jesus’ own words a time of “great tribulation” begins, all because what the antichrist has been after all along is to be accepted and worshipped in place of the true God.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.                                                2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  NKJV

Obviously the “Great Tribulation” begins because there are those on the earth who see the antichrist for who he really is, and refuse to worship him.  He will then begin a persecution the likes of which this world has never seen. 

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.       Revelation 13:16-17  NKJV

What we are told about this time is very clear, either you take the mark and worship the beast or you will be hunted down and killed.  

Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.  Revelation 13:6-10  NKJV

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.     Revelation 20:4  NKJV

Do you notice how black and white this time of Great Tribulation will be?  There are only two sides to this conflict; those who choose to worship the beast, and those who reject his claims and chose to have their names written in the Book of Life by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.  How terrible will this time of persecution be?  Consider what Jesus had to say about that question.

“And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.    Matthew 24:22  NKJV

Unless God chose to intervene, eventually all would be killed.  So in His infinite wisdom, God chose to limit the length of the Great Tribulation to only three and one half years.  Then what will occur is something the entire world has been waiting for since Jesus ascended to Heaven forty days after His resurrection.  So far the order of events as I see it are the Rapture, The destruction of Damascus, the Gog/Magog conflict, the confirmation of a peace between Israel and its enemies which begins the Seventieth Week of Daniel, and the Abomination of Desolation after twelve hundred and sixty days.  Next week; Jesus returns.

Keep watching.