“He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.” Daniel 7:25 NKJV
Have you ever wondered where the concept of a “halftime” in a sporting event originated, and just exactly why it was decided that it was necessary? Now your first thought might run to the idea of giving the teams a much needed rest, yet I ask you, how often have you also seen the second half of an event completely different from the first? I have mentioned before that I studied education with the intent of becoming a coach at the secondary school level, and as a student teacher was able to observe firsthand just what an effect a good halftime speech could have on a team, especially if they were behind. For the most part I would have to say that based on what I was able to observe, it had less to do with correcting mistakes and much more to do with getting inside the players heads and changing their mental outlook to produce the change that was needed to succeed.
Any study of the tribulation time revealed by Daniel and John in the book of Revelation makes it clear that the period of seven years which we know as the tribulation is divided exactly in half with two periods of three and one half years each. The Word of God even breaks it down into days for us as well, two halves of 1260 days for a total of 2520, so that there is no mistake about how long it will last. As always with me, the question I always seem to ask whenever something jumps out at me like this is simply, why? Why is it divided, and what happens at the midpoint which causes it to be divided so obviously and dramatically, especially when we consider the events which take place during the second half. Much like what I observed as a coach, the antichrist seems completely changed after “halftime” and it begs the question; “what got into his head?”
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9 NKJV
We talked last week about the coming man of sin and the source of his success as a result of the power of Satan directing the events of this world. I say success because by the world’s standards, in spite of what is going on around him, this man’s actions do result in a consolidation of power and a realignment of nations of which he becomes a most prominent leader. Yet while up to this point he has only had Satan’s “help”, a major event occurs in Heaven which defines what is to come for the second half of the tribulation. For reasons we are not told, but possibly a result of the “success” Satan feels he has had on earth, he starts a war in Heaven with Michael and his angels.
"For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ " Isaiah 14:13-14 NKJV
I think it more than likely this is Satan’s attempt to do exactly what we are told in this passage from Isaiah, but not only does Satan lose the war, he and his angels are cast out of Heaven never to return. As you might expect, Satan’s reaction to this humiliating loss is to take his fury out on the earth, specifically the tribulation saints who have come to believe in Jesus Christ during the first half of the tribulation and the remaining Jews who reject his claim to be God. This claim occurs after an apparent assassination attempt on the antichrist which results in a head wound which by all accounts appears to be fatal. Yet a defeated and enraged Satan indwells his body, the wound is healed, and he proceeds with his plan to make the entire world worship him.
“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:1-4 NKJV
Although at first the plan might seem to be working, not all choose to follow and worship him, and the event which draws the line in the sand is when he goes to the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaims himself to be God in the flesh.
“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
“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. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:15-22 NKJV
The reason the tribulation period is divided into two halves is simply because what is set to occur during the second half, called the Great Tribulation, is so terrifying and destructive to mankind that if God were to allow events to play out over time eventually there would be no one left alive on earth. As the antichrist, Satan proclaims himself to be God and demands the world to worship him and even goes so far as to require that all take a mark to show their acceptance. Anyone not taking the mark will be pursued and killed, and the horror of these times is behind the warning from God in the passage from Matthew that the Jews flee immediately for their lives. Because the rage of Satan during the Great Tribulation is so great, God has shortened that time to the three and one half years which He has revealed to us through the scriptures, and at the end of that time the end will come.
“Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:6-7 NKJV
I believe the difference between the two halves of the tribulation period can be summed up this way; in the first half the antichrist is simply a puppet, but in the second half the antichrist is possessed. Satan’s desire to “be like the Most High” will in fact be his downfall, which is why next week we will see that after all of this, he has nowhere to go but down.