WHEN IS THE SECOND COMING AND THE END OF THE WORLD (6)

1 – Introduction
2 – Daniel’s Prayer of Intercession for “His People”
3 – Overview: Daniel 9:24
4 - Date of Christ’s First Coming: Daniel 9:25
5 – Messiah’s Crucifixion and Jerusalem’s Destruction
6 – Christ’s Second Coming Predicted
Appendix: Date of the Crucifixion

6 – End of the Age Predicted (Christ’s Second Coming)

Daniel 9:27
       Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
       But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
       And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
       Even until the consummation, which is determined,
       Is poured out on the desolate.

Gabriel’s message to Daniel began by specifying that “your people and… your holy city” – the Jewish nation and Jerusalem – would be in existence during the course of the “70 weeks”. At the start of this time span Jerusalem had been destroyed, and in the very End of it Jerusalem will again lie in ruins. There was another destruction in 70 A.D., but that lay outside the limits set by the “70 weeks”, coming between the 69th and 70th week. Nevertheless, that destruction pre-figured what is to come in the future, as we’ll find out in this verse 27.

Incidentally, it is obvious that this last 70th week is still future; it hasn’t begun yet (much less finished), because some of the other conditions – “everlasting righteousness” especially – have not arrived. Although the process for bringing in “everlasting righteousness” began with Jesus’ sacrifice at His first coming (when “Messiah the Prince” was “cut off”), the world on its own, under Satan’s influence, will never reach that kind of paradise-like state. It will take nothing less than the Second Coming of Christ – His forceful intervention into the affairs of mankind and the ensuing imprisonment of the forces of Darkness – “to finish the transgression” and “to make an end of sins” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”.

Jesus Christ’s example, teachings, and sacrificial offering of Himself started the process towards those goals. In a sense, what He did was the biggest, most difficult stage in that process and has laid the groundwork and foundation for the soon-coming Kingdom of God on Earth. But for now it exists in our hearts, which is why Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) But physically, in the world system it hasn’t arrived yet, obviously.

Since the end of the 69 weeks and Christ’s first coming, conditions in the world haven’t improved very much – and certainly not enough to prevent it from stumbling eventually into total calamity… as many forecasters have predicted:

The whole thing is coming to a head soon, Hell-bent on a crash course to catastrophe and the end of man’s foolish, wasteful, wanton, destructive rule on Earth! … listen to what just a few of the World’s many non-religious secular humanists have to say – some of the highest-ranking members of this planet’s managerial class, who have the weight of scientific data and statistics to back them up:
        “I think human life is now threatened as never before in the history of this planet! Not just by one peril, but by many perils that are all working together and coming to a head at the same time. And that time lies very close to the year 2000. I am one of those scientists who find it hard to see how the human race is to bring itself much past the year 2000.” — Dr. George Wald, Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Harvard University.
        “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track in which there is an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch! Most of society is in the caboose – looking backward!” — Scientist member of the prestigious “Club of Rome” socio-economic group.
        Kurt Waldheim, while Secretary General of the U.N., said, “I do not wish to seem overdramatic, but I can only conclude from the information that is available to me as Secretary General that the members of the United Nations have perhaps 10 years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to diffuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to World development efforts. The alternative is a situation beyond our capacity to control!”
        (published by The Family International, April/1983)

The present state of our world is a far cry from the “everlasting righteousness” that is destined to come. In fact, the world seems headed in the opposite direction as foreseen by the perceptive gentlemen quoted above. The situation on planet Earth is getting desperate. Fortunately, Gabriel’s prophecy tells us there is only one more “week” to go. So when that last seven years begins, then we shall know that mankind’s rescue is not far away.

The great event of Christ’s return will save mankind from destroying himself and will bring in true “everlasting righteousness”. That cataclysmic event of the Second Coming will bring the dramatic reversal of the dire problems and perils that plague present human society. The world will at last see the promises that Gabriel’s ancient prophetic message to Daniel had said would come at the end of the “70 weeks”.

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As we’ve learned, the “seventy weeks” prophecy can be divided into two main time periods: the first period, outlined in verse 25, is the longer era of 69 weeks, or 483 years; it starts with “the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem” and ends with “Messiah the Prince”. The second time period in verse 27 is the 70th week, only seven years: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.” The first time period (starting after the Jews’ return from their captivity in Babylon) leads up to Jesus’ first coming, and the second period in modern times (starting at some point after their return from the many lands to where they had been scattered by the Romans) leads up to His Second Coming.

And between these (in verse 26), there is, we might say, a third time period: an interruption in the 70-week span of time – a rather lengthy interlude, in fact, of some 2,000 years when Daniel’s “people” were dispersed and the “holy city” lay destroyed or inhabited by other people. This “interlude” of the Jews’ Diaspora, or scatteration, by the Romans, could be compared to the former era of their “Babylonian captivity”.

Now that the second re-gathering of the Jewish people has taken place, we have a surprising duplication, as it were, of the former scenario. So, despite the wide historical gap between these two time periods, the uncanny similarity in the historical situations, ancient and modern, does seem to bridge the gap quite well.

It is as if the historical scene from the past has mysteriously re-surfaced: Israel has again become a nation with the same race of people living there – a very peculiar thing to happen after 2,000 years’ time. No nation, once it had been dismantled and dispersed, ever re-gathered itself back into its old territory, especially not after such a long time. Only Israel has done so… by the will and plan of God, no doubt.

So that’s a good indicator that the conditions are ripe for the “70 weeks” prophecy to start up again. After a long “intermission”, the “movie” is about to continue once more, this time towards its climactic grand finale. And just as Christ made His first appearance in the Earth after the re-gathering of the Jewish people from Babylon, so we can expect His Second Coming now after their modern day re-gathering into the land of Israel.

By considering these parallel events between ancient and modern history, we find a clue to answer the question: who is the “he” referred to at the beginning of verse 27? In ancient Hebrew (and in most languages), the pronoun normally refers to the last person mentioned. So the “he” should refer back to the “prince” in the previous verse 26 – the Roman “antichrist” who came to “destroy the city and the sanctuary” back in A.D. 70.

It doesn’t seem possible that this “he” should be identified as the Messiah, as some interpreters teach. Jesus did predict the invasion of Jerusalem, it is true, but it was the Roman “prince”, or the people of the prince” (his armies and followers presumably), who actually did it.

Interestingly, this “he” was called the “prince who is to come, which suggests that the Roman “prince” (of the near future, A.D. 70) should be differentiated from “Messiah the Prince” who had already come, having exited the world stage at His Crucifixion a few years earlier in A.D. 33. This “who is to come” phrase also suggests that the reach of this “prince” extends beyond the ancient Roman Caesar to include the modern Antichrist.

In 9:27 the angel does not tell us much about the “he” who confirms the covenant… because he doesn’t need to. This person appeared already in a previous revelation to Daniel (given by the same angel Gabriel). And there we are given a description of him – a description which clearly earmarks him as the anti-Messiah, the Antichrist leader of the End Time:

“He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host, and… he cast truth down to the ground… who understands sinister schemes… shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people… cause deceit to prosper under his rule… exalt himself in his heart… He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means [by Christ in the Battle of Armageddon].” (8:11-12,23-25)

Obviously, this passage is not talking about the Messiah.

This figure in chapter 8 links to the one in chapter 9 by the phrase, “by him the daily sacrifices were taken away an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices.” (Daniel 8:11-12) This corresponds with the wording in 9:27 – “he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.”

It seems clear enough that the two revelations are talking about the same person. The same angel Gabriel is speaking in both revelations, and naturally, he did not feel it was necessary to repeat himself; it is expected that we would tie the two passages together. And just to make sure that we make the connection, there is the repetition of the phrase about the “daily sacrifices”.

And if chapter 8 isn’t enough (with its “king of fierce countenance” coming, obviously, in the End Time – 8:23, KJV), there is further corroboration in Gabriel’s message in chapter 11: “And forces shall be mustered by him (the antichrist “king of the North”)… they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.” (11:31) Again there is no doubt that this person who “shall take away the daily sacrifices” can be none other than the End Time Antichrist. (“The time of the end” phrase appears in 11:35 and 40, for example; Christ spoke of the arrival of the “abomination of desolation” as something that would happen just before His Second Coming in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14.) More on this subject can be found in the post, Part 3 of the study on Daniel 10-12: Gabriel’s Telescope Zooms out into the Distant Future.

As for the personages mentioned in 9:26-27, the distinction to make here is this: the “he” in 9:27 is the modern version of the former Roman “prince” of 9:26. In a sense he is the same figure, transported as it were into modern times. He is the final Antichrist who will inherit the mantle of the ancient Roman “antichrist”. Like the ancient Caesar, who was worshiped by the unbelieving world of that era and engaged in heavy-handed harassment of the Israeli nation, we can expect these same features to carry on (in a modern guise) with the future Antichrist.

       Suppose we take the anointed one being cut off [in Daniel 9:26] to refer to the death of Jesus the Messiah, and we were then asked what the next statement seemed to suggest: And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. We might well reply that this could very naturally be taken as a description of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by Titus in AD 70.
       The question then arises: what does the rest of the passage refer to? … Could it be that Daniel 9 is … looking at the time of the end through the lens of AD 70? That is, the prince who is to come is Titus, who shall destroy Jerusalem, and there will follow an indefinite period of war to the end. Then the “he” who is referred to next in the phrase he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week is not Titus but someone who, like Titus, desecrates the sanctuary in Jerusalem; the final embodiment of Gentile power: the man of lawlessness referred to in 2 Thessalonians.
       
It is arguable that there is internal evidence in Daniel 9 that the final week does not run immediately after the first sixty-nine. There is an implied gap, involving the kind of prophetic telescoping we have seen in other parts of Daniel…
       
(from Against the Flow by John Lennox, pgs 303-304; published 2015)

“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week” 

Whereas in the previous verse 26, the term “prince” (about the ancient Roman Caesar) seemed to foreshadow the activities of the future Antichrist demagogue, it is clear in this verse 27 that the focus has narrowed and dwells exclusively on the Antichrist “prince” of the End Time.

How do we know this? Perhaps the biggest clue lies in this phrase “on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate”. It is easy to understand this as a cryptic allusion to the peculiar type of warfare that modern technology has enabled mankind to practice nowadays. To go into more detail on this subject would be a whole separate study in itself, which may be found in the post “Unraveling the Mystery of the Abomination”.

However, a brief explanation here may suffice: the word “wing” is a figurative term for “military invasion”. So by means of a military invasion of “abominations”, the Antichrist “makes desolate”. The KJV translation here seems to say it more clearly: “For the overspreading (military invasion) of abominations he (the Antichrist) will make it (Jerusalem) desolate.”

It is not hard to see this as an allusion – using terminology from an ancient time – to the type of remote control warfare that is possible nowadays. Anyone from an ancient era, if he could time-travel himself into our modern times, would say that the warmongers of today have gained the most remarkable capability: they are able to invade a whole region without sending in a single soldier on the ground to do it.

Instead, they can launch a great variety of death-dealing “abominations” that are stashed away in their arsenals: whether it is by launching heat-seeking missiles, or by flying over head in bomb-dropping planes, or in very recent times, by sending various types of remote-controlled UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). On the ground too, soldiers can invade a territory by riding in those desolating abominations known as war tanks.

Such means of destruction were completely unknown to those who waged war in the days of yesteryear. And that is the reality that the phrases in this verse 27 about abominations making desolate are trying to convey – in terms that may seem, to our minds at least, rather cryptic. But that was the best Gabriel could do in an ancient language and with Daniel’s total lack of understanding about future technology.

Another major distinction from the ancient scenario: the future Antichrist will not destroy the temple completely. (This we can gather from certain verses like Revelation 11:2 and 2Thessalonians 2:4.) And then, of course, there is also the one “week (7-year) covenant” – a peculiar feature in this End Time period of history that did not happen in Roman times.

Also called the “holy covenant” (Daniel 11:28,30), this agreement probably has something to do with allowing religious freedom. And if the Antichrist gives that freedom to the Jews, he has to give it to everybody, including the Christians. Probably that won’t sit too well, neither with him nor his backers, those who belong to the domain of the False Prophet, the arch-enemy of all the true worshipers of God.

The wording here says that “he will confirm a covenant”. Whether he is behind it all the way, or if he just goes along with it, perhaps for the sake of some political expediency, we don’t know. But one thing does seem clear: this “covenant” could not happen without his approval. The agreement also takes place “with many”, meaning probably that there is a wide consensus amongst the various influential people, leaders, and nations involved.

As a rising world leader himself, it sounds as though the Antichrist will have become highly respected by this time and succeeded where many have failed in the past – perhaps bringing about a workable solution in the Mideast to the never-ending struggles there amongst Arabs, Jews, and Palestinians.

Well, these are mostly speculations, and it is difficult right now to know with any great certainty exactly how things will turn out in the future until this prediction about the covenant has come to pass.

“But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering”

This phrase about “sacrifice and offering” confirms the idea that the “covenant” will have something to do with religious freedom, which up to this point – “in the middle of the week” ­- the Antichrist had been willing to tolerate. But then, something happens to get him upset and break the agreement: “he shall be grieved… against the holy covenant”; “he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering”. (Daniel 11:30, 9:27)

One thing that is implied here, but not mentioned, is the fact that there should be a temple, a place where the Jewish priests can make their sacrifices and offerings. There is reference to this in Daniel 8:11,13, 11:31 as the “sanctuary”; in Matthew 24:15 as a “holy place”; and in 2Thessalonians 2:4 as a “temple”. Right now, however, this is a missing piece in the historical puzzle that yet needs to show up: the rebuilding of the temple – perhaps during this 70th week.

Apparently, preparations for a re-built temple have been in the works for some time now: review of the ancient rituals; architectural designs for the temple building; and even, according to some sources, building materials ready and set aside for construction whenever the auspicious time arrives. So it seems this temple building project has been on the verge of getting started for a number of years.

The main obstacle at the moment is the fact that the Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque – third holiest shrine in Islam – happens to stand right where the Israelis would like to build their temple. This is an extraordinarily sensitive region – sacred to both Jews and Muslims – and how the Israelis will ever build on, or even near, that site is a mystery right now.

But the predictions are there in the Sacred Book, so we shouldn’t be too surprised some day to see it happen – the appearance of the Jewish temple. And this would be certainly a major sign that the End is not far away. But how it will happen we don’t know right now. Maybe this is one of those complex issues that will take the genius of the Antichrist to sort out.

When the temple will get re-built is not known; at any rate it will have to be ready before the “middle of the week”. Whether that means before the last seven years starts, or afterwards, is not too clear right now. To be sure, once the temple is there, we can know that the End can’t be too far away.

But to get more definite about the question of the time left before the “end of the age” or the Second Coming, we will know that only when this Covenant gets confirmed; then the countdown can begin – the last 7 years. (Matthew 24:3) Or if that starting date is not too clear for some reason, then when the Antichrist breaks the covenant by desecrating the temple with the “abomination of desolation”, that will signify the start of the last 3½ years (42 months or 1,260 days) till the End. (Daniel 11:31, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14)

This will be a fairly obvious marker, the one that will kick off the time of Great Tribulation, an era that Jesus Himself foretold: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place… 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) This entrance of the “abomination of desolation” is the event that causes or coincides with what Daniel 9:27 is talking about: the breaking of the covenant “in the middle of the week” and bringing “an end to sacrifice and offering”.

That event  triggers the Great Tribulation: a great military invasion of Israel, this time by the Russians, and perhaps for reasons similar to why the Romans came down so heavily on the Jewish people in that former era. (In ancient times Jewish rebels had succeeded in gaining Israel’s independence from Rome, and their example threatened the stability of the Roman empire.)

What the Jews will do in the future to upset the Antichrist and his empire we don’t know, but because of their strong-willed nature and powerful influence, we can be sure that they won’t be easy for the Antichrist to have to rule over. Perhaps, rather than try to continue haggling over the new agreement of the “covenant”, the Antichrist will decide to opt for the simpler, heavy-handed solution of military action to just squash it altogether.

This event of the abomination’s entry into the “holy place” could be compared to something like the assassination of the Austrian Duke Ferdinand in 1914, an incident that became known as the “shot that was heard around the world”. Because of the complex alliances and tensions already existing in Europe at that time, it  took only one provocative little spark in that “Balkan powder keg” to light the conflagration of World War I. Likewise, World War III will likely start from this provocative incident of the abomination of desolation’s desecration of the Jews’ “holy place” … in the midst of the Mid East powder keg.

The Book of Daniel describes this last half of the 70th week as “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.” (12:1) But the next sentence states, “And at that time your people shall be delivered.” The Second Coming of Christ will be the intervention into mankind’s affairs that will bring deliverance to all God-fearing people and save planet Earth from total desolation.

“Even until the consummation”

In other words, because the Antichrist continues to “make desolate” right to the End, Jerusalem, and much of the rest of the world as well, will have to suffer much devastation. There could be a similarity here with Hitler’s scorched-earth policy near the end of World War 2. He remarked once, “If we cannot win, then we shall drag half the world into the abyss with us.”

“Which is determined”

The phrase is similar to what was said in the previous verse: “unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” The idea seems to be that of getting across the unwelcome news that there will be destruction, and plenty of it, not unlike what happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

“Poured out on the desolate”

As the 70 weeks began (with Jerusalem in ruins in the 6thcentury B.C.), so it ends with the same scene of desolation. As Jerusalem was destroyed in times past by the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar and then again by the Romans, so it will be in a future time when the Antichrist invades from Russia.

There is some question regarding this phrase as to whether the translation should imply that all these troubles are to be dumped on the Jewish people or upon the Antichrist, whether the translation should say “poured out on the desolate” or “on the desolator”. To be sure, the Antichrist is going to receive his punishment in the lake of fire according to Revelation 19:20 and 20:9.

But in this war on Jerusalem, the original Hebrew wording here seems to support more the meaning of “the desolate” as referring to “that which is desolate” rather than “the one who causes desolation”. And that is more consistent with the phrase in the previous verse, “till the end of the war desolations are determined [for the city of Jerusalem]”. The two verses are meant to be parallel descriptions, speaking of the same thing more or less.

SUMMARY:

We in modern times are living on the verge of a very special time in history – those years preceding the start of the final “week” of the angel Gabriel’s remarkable prediction to Daniel about the “70 weeks” time span of future history. The first part of his prediction has already seen fulfillment in Christ’s first appearance in ancient Israel.

And the second part – about Christ’s Second Coming? We are already seeing the build-up: the astonishing return once more of the Jewish people and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and nation of Israel. So the conditions are ripe and ready: the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem are again in position; the needed conditions are there for the last “one week” countdown, the last seven years of the prophecy, to finish its course.

The last 7 years will begin with the confirming of “a covenant”, followed by the desecration of the covenant in the middle of it, followed by a 3½ year period known as the Great Tribulation which, presumably, will include the destruction of Jerusalem, and will end with ”the consummation” at the end of the 7 years.

Regarding Jerusalem, this verse 27 explains, “on the wing of abominations” the Antichrist “makes desolate”, which, as foreshadowed in verse 26, refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. Luke 21:20 brings this out as well: “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” Then finally, with the second coming of Christ and the end of the 70th week, will come the “consummation”, the complete fulfillment of the wonderful promises that were given at the beginning of this outstanding prophetic message.

So it’s the same basic scenario of an invasion of Israel happening all over again, but in a different time period, involving a different empire. And another important difference: the modern period will feature a 7-year “covenant”, which never happened in ancient times; there will also be this peculiar “wing [military invasion] of abominations” by which the Antichrist “makes desolate”, alluding to the peculiar type of warfare that is practiced nowadays. Another difference: The temple will get destroyed, but not completely as it was during the Roman invasion. (See Daniel 11:31, 2Thessalonians 2:4, Revelation 11:2.)

These features about the 70th week are helpful indicators, showing that this last seven years did not happen in ancient times but are yet to come. They point to the modern character and timing of this crucial ending period of man’s history.

And then finally, when the “70 weeks” have finished their course, human society will at last enter into that glorious and wonderful era known as the Millenium, the golden Age of Peace on earth, when there truly will be an “end of sins” and “everlasting righteousness” – just as the angel Gabriel, in this most profound prophecy about mankind’s future history, had predicted would eventually come to pass.

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A FINAL NOTE: The remarkable prediction in the “seventy weeks” prophecy about the first arrival of the Messiah helps to validate the many other predictions in the Bible about His glorious return. That return will re-orient the course of human history, pulling mankind out of the unsolvable mess that our poor is getting itself into. We learn also from Gabriel’s prophecy that God is truly the One in control. He knows the future and has a plan. His plans work, not just in the realm of world history, but also in our own personal histories. If He can cause the tumultuous and ever-changing events of history to work according to this plan of the “seventy weeks” timeline, then He can certainly straighten out the problems and difficulties we experience personally as we follow His plan for our lives.

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