Daniel 037 – God Knocks Us Down So We Will Look Up

Dr. Andy Woods | Oct 1, 2017 | Daniel 9:24-27 | Daniel

Andy Woods

God Knocks Us Down So We Will Look Up

10-1-17      Daniel 9:24-27          Lesson 37

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Daniel, chapter 9 and verse 27, and you’re probably saying to yourself there’s only one verse left in the chapter, how long can this take?  Well, you might be surprised, or maybe you won’t be surprised,    I don’t know.

The title of our message this morning is God Knocks Us Down So That We Will Look Up.  As you know, we are continuing on in this prophecy that Daniel was given in the 6th century B.C. called The Seventy Weeks Prophecy.  I believe it’s not the easiest prophecy in the Bible to understand but if you give yourself to this the rewards are almost limitless.  You’ll have proof that the Bible is God’s Word and  you’ll also have a timeline, if you will, that will keep you from what I would call end times confusion.

So what we’ve done is broken this prophecy down into ten parts.  Here’s the ground that we have covered thus far.  The focus of this prophecy is who?  The Hebrew people and the city of Jerusalem.  That’s very important to understand to interpret this correctly.  Number 2, the prophecy concerns a time period of 490 years, seventy sevens; it’s a clock that God gave to Daniel with a start button, a pause button and a stop button on it, but the clock has 490 years on it.  Each year of the prophecy, as we have studied, consists of 360 days.

Number four, at the conclusion of this clock, once the 490 years are elapsed what can be expected?   Well generally six things and you can sum up all of those things as the political and the spiritual restoration of the Jewish people.  The kingdom of God will be a reality on the earth with Jesus ruling and reigning from David’s throne in Jerusalem.

Number five, we’ve looked at when this prophecy started to tick, when it began to run.  I’ve tried to contend that this prophecy began March 5, 444 B.C. from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem; it is my conviction that this is the decree spoken of in Nehemiah 2 which took place in the month of Nisan in the 20th year or Artaxerxes.  It comes out to March 5, 444 B.C.  That’s when the Divine finger moved onto the start button and this 490 year clock started to elapse.

Number six, exactly, and this is the proof that this could not be a book of human invention; the prophecy ran exactly 483 years, up to Palm Sunday, because that’s what the prophecy predicts, until Messiah the Prince there will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens making 483 years, 173,880 days would elapse.  Daniel is given this prediction between the decree and when the events of Palm Sunday would take place, when Jesus would present His Messianic credentials to the nation.  I’ve tried to labor to show you that that prophecy was fulfilled to the exact day.

You have nothing like this in any other alleged holy book; nothing like this in the Qur’an, for example, where the life of someone, Jesus Christ, is laid out before it happens right down to the exact time He would show up, the exact day He would show up presenting Himself to the nation Israel as their King.

And the last time we were together we began to look at this idea that number 7, there is a gap of time at the conclusion of year 483 but before the final seven years of the clock tick.  In other words, on Palm Sunday the divine finger moved from the start button, which it had been on for 483 years and moved to the pause button.  God put this prophecy on pause, on hold, and today we’re living in what is called the gap, which is more than just a store, it’s a pause.  Lewis Sperry Chafer called this an intercalation, a pause in the action where God is not bringing in the kingdom per se, that will take place when the final seven years of the clock run, but He is doing something unique in the last 2,000 years called the age of the church, the body of Christ.  You are part of it, I am part of it, everyone that has trusted in the Messiah that the nation of Israel in the first century rejected is part of it. We are baptized or identified into Christ’s body, the church.

So what is happening today is very real, it is the work of God, it is something that we should celebrate, it is a purpose that we should press into but it is taking place in between the 483 years of the prophecy that have already transpired and the seven years yet to come.  I’ve labored, last week, to show you why this pause is there in the action.

And this takes us now to  number eight, the final seven years of the prophecy yet future constitutes the tribulation period.  We know that the clock has 490 years on it, 483 years have elapsed; we know that 483 taken away from 490 equals 7.  That’s where we get this idea of a future seven year tribulation period.  We know that there is a gap in between the first 483 years and the final 7 years.  The final seven years are yet future and those years constitute the tribulation period.

You say well, what verse could I look at and study to learn about the specifics of this seven year tribulation period.  I’m so glad you asked that question because it’s right there at the end of the chapter.  It’s in verse 27.  This takes us to number 9 and we probably will conclude our sermon this morning with number nine, taking a look at number 10 next week.  But number 9, and this is where we begin to build something that most of Christianity is confused on today, has probably been confused on throughout the age of the church, an eschatological model.  What does that mean?  A model or a blueprint for the end.  It’s interesting to me that the Bible doesn’t just reveal the beginning exactly what happened, it reveals to us the end.  And many, many people are confused about the end because they haven’t given time to the foundational building block of the end which is Daniel 9:27.  Notice what that verse says.

Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  It took me a very short time to read that verse; it’s going to take me a longer time to explain it.  This verse, though, is a foundational piece of the prophetic jigsaw puzzle; without this piece an understanding of what God is doing in the end times will always remain a mystery to you.  But with an understanding of this verse you have the grid, you have the framework, you have the timeline if you will, because this verse reveals four things.

Number one, the duration of the tribulation period.  Number two, when is the tribulation period going to start?  A lot of people are confused about this, they thought it was going to start September 23rd, which obviously is a failed prophecy because today is October 1st.  What is going to happen right in the middle?  It tells you exactly what happens at the midpoint.  And then number four, how does the whole thing wrap up; what is the seminal event that ends this time period.  Let’s take a look at those four things this morning.

Number one, the duration.  Notice what Daniel 9:27 says, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week,” some of your versions say “week,” some of your versions say “one seven,” “but in the middle of the week” or the “seven,” so it makes two references there to the “week” or the final seven.  If you have been tracking along with us we have explained why this word translated “week” is actually the Hebrew word shebuah, which refers to a seven year period of time.  That’s how the Hebrew word is used, for example, in Genesis 29:27 concerning Jacob serving Laban for Rachael’s hand; a seven year period of time.  [Genesis 29:27, “Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.”]

What the Holy Spirit is revealing to us is a yet future seven year period of time that the whole plan and program of God revolves around.  The Holy Spirit is so specific in this the Holy Spirit wants us to know the duration of this time.  The duration of this time is not something man has made up; it’s a seven year period of time emanating from Daniel’s prophecy which originally was given as 490 years, 483 years elapses, seven years remaining; seven years yet future and this is where we get this idea of a future seven year tribulation period. There is an increment of time yet future in the calendar of God, in the chronology of God, which has never elapsed.

You say well, if that’s true, then what’s the start time?  When does this final seven year count actually begin?  I’m glad you asked that because that takes us to number two: what starts this time period?  Notice, if you will, once again Daniel 9:27, there is an event which is just as real as Artaxerxes back in Nehemiah 2 issuing the decree a hundred years after Daniel died which started the clock.  There is an event yet future which is just as real where God will take his finger off the pause button; His finger has been on that pause button for two thousand years, His finger will move off the pause button and move back onto the start or perhaps the restart button.  And what event will it be?  It’s very clear here in Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week,” what moves the finger of God off the pause button onto the start button once again is an entity called “he” making some kind of “firm covenant with the many” and this covenant will last for “one week” or seven years.

Now we’re not ready to close in prayer  yet because we have to figure out who the “he” is and who  “the many” are.  Once you understand who the “he” is referring to, that pronoun, and “the many” you’ll understand exactly what moves the divine finger off the pause button from which it’s been on for two thousand years, back onto the start button allowing the seven year countdown to take place.

Who is the “he” exactly?  Well, one of the rules of grammar that you can learn is pronouns are often identified by their immediate antecedent.  In other words, when a pronoun is being used in a passage or a text you sort of back up to the nearest antecedent and you can sort of figure out who the pronoun is referring to.  And when you back up to Daniel 9:26, which comes before Daniel 9:27, are you guys good with that, verse 26 comes before verse 27?  It says this, “And after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood….”

Last week we observed that Daniel 9:26 is speaking of Titus of Rome.  [Daniel 9:26, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”]  Titus of Rome came on the scene about forty years after Christ left the earth; he brought a horrific wave  of persecution against the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem in particular.  He destroyed the city and the sanctuary and over a million Jews lost their lives in that holocaust of A.D. 70.

When Daniel 9:27 refers back to the nearest antecedent in verse 26 what the Spirit of God is showing us is that Titus of Rome, as barbaric as he was, as horrific as he was, as anti-Semitic as he was, is nothing but a foreshadowing of something greater on the horizon for the Jewish people in terms of suffering.  You talk to a Jewish person today who is not a believer in Jesus Christ and let me tell you something, this is part of our doctrine that they want nothing to do with because what is the slogan in Judaism following World War II?  Never again, we will never allow the events of the holocaust, Adolf Hitler, to happen again.  That’s why they have so carefully documented the lives that were lost in the holocaust in what’s called Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the holocaust memorial, and we’re coming along as evangelical Christians and we’re saying the worst is yet to come.  In fact, it is this pattern of God bringing in something worse that He will use to awaken the remnant to their need to trust Christ because God knocks us down so we what? Look up!  There is a tremendous knocking down yet future for the nation of Israel.

We continue on in the passage and it says [9:27b] “in the middle of the week He will put an end to sacrifice and offering,” I can bring in parallel passages and figure out who that guy is, someone that’s going to rule for three and a half years.  Daniel 7:25, a verse we’ve studied before, indicates exactly who that man is: he is the little horn or this man called the coming antichrist.  [Daniel 7:25, “’He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”]  John makes a reference to him in Revelation 13:5, a beast coming forward to rule the world for 42 months.  [Revelation 13:5, “There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for 42 months was given to him.”]  That is sort of the idea that you get here in Daniel 9:27 where he will desecrate the temple midway through but first he will rule the world for 42 months.  [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]

Paralleling other passages we can start to narrow down on who this “he” is.  He’s prefigured by Titus but his identity is a future world dictator, a future world ruler, someone that John, in 1 John, refers to as the coming antichrist.  We know, and more on this a little bit later, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. We know from parallel passages who’s going to do that; Paul calls the man that will do that, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 the man of lawlessness.       [2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, [4] who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”]

The antichrist is simply one of his minor names but he goes throughout the Bible by various designations: the beast, the lawless one, the little horn.  He is the one that desecrates the temple, Daniel 9:27 tells us that someone is going to desecrate the temple, someone is going to rule the world for 42 months.  Parallel passages, whether it be Daniel 7, 2 Thessalonians 2, are all brought in and this is how you study any doctrine.  You don’t look at what one verses says on the issue,  you go to parallel passages and when you start to study the parallel passages you see exactly who this man is; he is the coming antichrist.

The passage goes on and it describes that this man is going to be destroyed.  The wrath of God will be poured out on the desolator.  Once again we know exactly who that is.  2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.”  Revelation 19:20 says, “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”

Simply by studying parallel passages of how this “he” or “desolator” is destroyed, as well as by studying parallel passages identifying who was the one that desecrates the temple midway through the tribulation period.  And by studying parallel passages it indicates that this man that’s coming will rule the world for forth-two months we can narrow down on his identity.   He is the antichrist.  He is the “he” spoken of in verse 27 prefigured by Titus of Rome.

Notice again what verse 27 says, “And he” antichrist “will make a firm covenant with the many for one week,” you say well, I understand who the “he” is, who’s “the many”?  And I’m glad  you asked that question.  Remember fact number one?  This whole prophecy concerns who?  The nation of Israel.  Daniel 9:24 indicated “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people” Daniel “and your holy city,” the whole thing revolves around the nation of Israel.  Therefore “the many” is a reference to the nation of Israel.

You say well, that expression “many,” does it ever refer to Israel elsewhere.  Once again I’m glad you asked because Daniel 11:33 tells us this, same book.  “Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many;…” “the many” is a reference to the nation of Israel, the special covenanted nation of God that this whole 490 year clock revolves around.

So we can begin to put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together and we can say this: there is coming an event in history which will move the divine finger from the pause button, which it’s been on for 2,000 years, back onto the start button and the final seven years of the prophecy will elapse.  And that event is a treaty of some sort between the “he” (or antichrist) and the nation of Israel.  The moment this man arises and that covenant is entered into there’s only seven years left in human history until the bodily return of Jesus Christ in which He will establish His kingdom upon the earth.

This is why the Book of Revelation portrays the devil going to and fro having but a short time.  Why does it keep saying “a short time”?   You’ve only got seven years left to try to thwart, to try to stop, to try to frustrate God’s program.  And so you can see in this chart that the covenant between the antichrist and Israel will start the final count.

Now many people are worried, they’re concerned, because they believe that this lawless one can come on the scene at any moment, perhaps today, and start this count.  Now let me put your mind at rest about this.  Paul, the apostle, in describing the coming antichrist writes this:  “You know what restrains him,” 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. [7] For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”

Paul is telling the Thessalonians, who were just as confused about prophecy as anybody, that look, this “he” who will start the clock with the covenant, can’t even show up today because there is something in the earth holding him back.  There’s something in the earth working restraining him.  The big question becomes well who is this restrainer?  Whoever this restrainer is he has to be more powerful than Satan because you see, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9 the lawless one will be the perfect manifestation of the devil’s plans.  [1 Thessalonians 2:9, “that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,”]  He will even form counterfeit signs and wonders; he will (the devil) express himself through this man as he’s never expressed himself through a man in human history.

So whoever the restrainer is he has to be strong enough to hold back Satan’s man of the hour.  The only person I know of that can to that is God Himself.  Beyond that, the participle “restrainer,” (it’s very important to understand this, it doesn’t show up in English) but God decreed that His Word would be written in Greek, the New Testament, to pick up on these nuances.  The participle “restrainer” same word, switches from neuter, verse 6, to masculine, verse 7.  What a tremendous description of the Holy Spirit because Jesus called the Holy Spirit “He”, masculine, in the Upper Room, and yet the word “Holy Spirit” is the Greek word pneuma  which is a neuter noun.  So the switch from neuter to masculine very well explains this omnipotent being, this all powerful being that is functioning as restraint in the world, inhibiting Satan’s program from going forward.

Now let me ask  you another question?  Where does the Holy Spirit live today?  Jesus was very clear about this in the Upper Room.  He said, [(John 14:16]  “I will ask the Father and He will give you another helper, that He may be with you forever,  [17] that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be” what? “in you.”  How long is He in us for?  At the end of verse 16, “forever.”  What is happening?  The Holy Spirit that permanently indwells the child of God today in the age of the church is the very instrument that God is using to prevent the antichrist from coming forward and entering into a covenant with the nation of Israel.

In other words, the whole scenario in Daniel 9:27 cannot happen until the Holy Spirit and His restraining ministry is removed.  And since the Holy Spirit is in us forever who else has to be removed?  The church; the church’s very presence in the world is a stumbling block or an inhibitor to Satan’s end time goal.  Now when you start to see this you start to understand why Christianity is so hated, not only in the United States but throughout the world.  Why is it that Christians are persecuted, maligned, routinely misrepresented on media constantly.  It has to do with what our presence on the earth is accomplishing.  It is stopping the devil’s end time program.  And so you might look at your life as something insignificant in Christ; the fact of the matter is you’re highly significant.   You’re more significant than you even realize, you’re presence is being used by God to prevent this end time scenario from taking place.

Therefore it is very logical to assume that the rapture of the church, the church removed from the earth is the removal of that restraint.  And once that restraint is removed the devil has his man of the hour picked out and he goes immediately to the nation of Israel while they’re in unbelief and he enters into some sort of covenant with them and the moment that happens the divine finger which had been on the pause button for two thousand years goes right back onto the start button and seven years begins to tick.

And understanding it this way saves us from so much speculation.  There are so many people today that are wasting their time and their energy and their resources trying to figure out who the anti­christ is.  This is nothing new.  This is a statement from Irenaeus who’s one generation removed from John, the Apostle.  Irenaeus writes this in his book, Against Heresies.  “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of the antichrist, but if it had been necessary to announce his name plainly at the present time it would have been spoken by him who saw the apocalypse, for it was not seen long ago but almost in our own time at the end of the reign of Domitian.”   [Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 30]  Irenaeus is saying this, quit the sensational­ism, quit the speculation, quit trying to name the antichrist, many of them thought it was Nero, or Domitian, or other people, because that man can’t come forward until the restraint, via the rapture, is taken away.

Now one of the things we know about Satan is he is not omniscient; we know from the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 28, verse 13 and verse 15 that he is a created being; he does not know when this restraint will be removed.  [Ezekiel 28:13, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you.  On the day that you were created they were prepared.  [15] “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.”]

And so he’s always had a man waiting in the wings to fulfill this role once the restraint is taken away.  That’s why you look at world leaders today and they look an awful lot like antichrist, don’t they?  I mean, we’ve even had some Presidents in the United States in modern times that almost look like they’re auditioning for the job, running for antichrist.  I look at different people and I say man, that person would make a great antichrist.  [Laughter]  And the reason that is so is Satan doesn’t know when this removal will take place so he’s always ready to begin the work with a man; every generation has such people.

But the bottom line is we can’t know who the antichrist is until following the rapture; then and only then will that restraint be removed and the man of sin will come forward.  And by the time I know his identity we will have the best seat in the house, viewing the whole thing from heaven.  And this saves us from so much silly speculation.

You know, when I came of age and I voted for the very first time in an election I went and probably cast my vote for Ronald Reagan, and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ said do you not know what you have just done?  I said what?   You just voted for the antichrist!  And I said why do you say that?  Well, they said “Ronald” has six letters in it, and his middle name, Wilson, has six letters in it, and Reagan, his last name, has six letters in it.

And all the way through my Christian life I can remember experience after experience of people falsely identifying the antichrist.  Gorbachev came and went; people said he was the antichrist.  Saddam Hussein came upon the scene; people said he was the antichrist.  And then we had a President named Bill Clinton, remember that, and by then I had wised up a little bit, I said he cannot be the antichrist.  And people said why, he looks exactly like an antichrist?  I said well, there’s a prophecy in the Book of Daniel that says the antichrist will not have the desire for women.  [Laughter]  And so I figured out it wouldn’t be, couldn’t be Clinton, he doesn’t fit the description.

But you see, some fundamentals of prophecy, some basics of prophecy, understanding the covenant that’s coming, the restraint which must be removed first, saves us from so much speculation which diverts our time and energy into things that could be more productive for God.

How long is this tribulation period going to last?  Seven  years.  What’s going to start it?  There is going to be a yet future peace treaty between the antichrist and unbelieving Israel subsequent to, or following the rapture of the church.

This takes us to number 3, what’s going to happen in the middle of this tribulation period?  Notice again Daniel 9:27, “But he” who’s the “he”?  The antichrist, “will make a firm covenant with the many” who’s “the many”?  Israel, “for one week,” how long is a week? Seven years, “but in the middle of the week” notice how specific the Holy Spirit is here, “in the middle of the week” that would be exactly 42 months into it, 3½  years into it, 1,260 days into it, “he” antichrist, “will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, [even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”’

Something happens right in the middle called the abomination of desolation.  What is that talking about?  Fortunately we have some help from the same book.  Daniel 11:31 makes a prophecy which has already happened and  uses the same basic language.  It says, “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.”  If I can figure out what this prophecy was referring to in the past I can make an educated guess concerning what the antichrist will do halfway through the tribulation.

How was Daniel 11:31 fulfilled?  We’ve already studied it, because it’s also alluded to in Daniel 8; it relates to this man, Antiochus Epiphanes, who arose during the intertestamental period, about 165 B.C.  He went into the rebuilt Jewish temple; he told the Jews you can’t offer sacrifices any more in this temple.  He took away their prayer books and their Scriptures and outlawed their practices like circumcision.  And this man went so far, this Greek, this Seleucid, Antiochus Epiphanes, he went so far as to set up a pagan image in the temple; it was a pagan image of Zeus.  And the Jewish people rebelled against this and they liberated the Temple Mount and guess what?  They got a holiday out of it, called what?  Hanukkah.

That ought to be a lesson to the world; whenever you come against Israel, not only will Israel survive but she’ll probably get a holiday out of the whole thing.  The holiday called Hanukkah.  And Daniel 11:31 is a prediction of that event.  So what the Holy Spirit has done here in just the span of a few verses is He’s given us two historical types, if you will, prefigurements, if  you will, of what the antichrist is going to be like.  Do you want to understand the coming antichrist?  I think we should because it’s part of the biblical date we’ve been given.  And the Holy Spirit says in these verses that we’ve just covered this morning I want you to study two events in history.  Number 1, I want you to study Titus of Rome and what he did because he is the nearest antecedent to the “he,” going back to verse 26.  And number two, I want you to study Antiochus Epiphanes because he will desecrate and desolate the temple in a miniature form the way the future antichrist will.

And if those two types or prefigurements are accurate you already know a lot of stuff about the antichrist.  Number 1, he will be a man, (and the women in here are saying  I knew that was the case) because Titus and Antiochus are males, that’s why he’s called the pronoun “he.”  Number 2, and there’s much confusion about this, he will not be Jewish; he will be Gentile.  How do I know that?  Because Titus and Antiochus were both Gentiles.  Number 3, he will not be some kind of impersonal spirit but he will be an actual human being, just as real as Judas, Nebuchadnezzar, or any other villain in biblical history.

In fact, the Book of Revelation, chapter 13 and verse 15 says this:  “And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”  The beast or the antichrist is setting up a statue right in the middle of the tribulation period in the Jewish temple.  Why is he doing that?  Because that’s what Antiochus did.  Revelation 13:15 is a description of that statue.  It apparently has some sort of magical powers; not all magic, not all miracles come from God, I hope we under­-stand that.  There are counterfeit signs and wonders.  This image, I mean, I’ve seen things like this even at Disneyland, go into the haunted house at Disneyland you have these talking statues.  This image apparently is going to have this sort of capacity to speak, I’m not sure exactly how that is going to work out, but it is an image, a statue (singular) and that’s brought to our attention because that’s what one of the prefigurements of the antichrist Antiochus Epiphanes has already done.

What Antiochus Epiphanes has done the antichrist will reproduce, yet in greater form.  And this is the process of the final three and half years where God’s agenda is to shatter the holy people.  Who are “the holy people”?  The holy people is a reference to the nation of Israel.  What is the biggest problem today with Israel?  It’s Israel; it’s pride, it’s the fact that their Messiah showed up and nationally they never received Him as king.  Even today most Hebrews, although there are some that do become believers in the age of the church most Hebrews today remain in prideful, stubborn, unbelief against their own Messiah.

And let me tell you a little something that was handed off to me when I first came to Christ, one of the best pieces of theology I ever received.  The guy who led me to Christ said this: God knocks us down so we look up.  If we’re honest with ourselves that’s how God got hold of all of us; He allowed things in one’s life to spiral out of control, to go wrong and we say Lord, I’ve got no one to trust in but You.  And that’s when Got begins to make Himself very real in a person’s life.  That process is what is in store for the nation of Israel.

Think about this; one of their villains in the past, named Antiochus Epiphanius, when that villain’s activities are replicated halfway through the tribulation period that is the seminal event which destroys Jewish confidence in false gods.  Prior to this point in time they will have felt that the he that they’ve entered into the covenant with is their Messiah and they’re going to watch that false Messiah go into their own temple, tell the Jews no more sacrifices in the temple, that’s what Daniel 9:27 predicts, he will replicate what Antiochus Epiphanes did by setting up a pagan statue in the temple and this will be an event that will shatter the Jewish heart because they will have discovered that what they thought was in the past in terms of the horror is now repeating itself.

You see, your average Gentile today really knows very little about Antiochus Epiphanes but I’ll tell you something, a Hebrew knows all about it; it’s part of their history.  It is part of Hanukah, and when that event recurs in greater form the Jewish heart will be fractured.  And yet that’s the place God wants them because once the props, the false securities, are kicked away and removed that’s when the Holy Spirit shows up.  Once we, in our humanity, in our pride, in our stubbornness, get to a point where we say Lord, I’ve tried everything else, nothing else has worked, I’m going to try You, that’s where God is grinning, smiling from cheek to cheek because that’s what He’s wanted all along.  He’s understood that; the only people that don’t understand it are ourselves and this is how God has to work.  He knocks us down so we look up.  He is going to knock down the nation of Israel through a double cross or a betrayal, or a man that they have trusted in so greatly, and he will disappoint as all false gods do.

What false God are you banking on today?  That you’re counting on?  The economy, the right political party in the White House, your retirement account, your health?  What is your prop, even as a Christian what is your prop that you’re relying upon?  Let me just tell you something about God.  It’s just a matter of time that God starts kicking that away and that’s how spiritual growth happens.  And this is how conversion of a monumental, national scale will occur midway through the tribulation period.  This desecration of the temple, this replication of what Antiochus did is very clearly said to be in “the middle of the week.”  You can just mark it down and bank on it; if God says it’s going to happen it’s going to happen!

Right in the middle is this desecration of the temple and this false statue and this ending of their sacrifices.  How long will this tribulation period last?  Seven years.  What’s going to start it?  A peace treaty between the antichrist and unbelieving Israel.  What is going to happen right in the middle is a betrayal, the desecration of the temple.

And now the final question is well, how is the whole thing going to wrap up?  How is the whole thing going to conclude?  Notice again Daniel 9:27, “even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  The desolator himself is desolated by God.  The persecutor himself is persecuted by God.  The destroyer himself is destroyed by God.  The betrayer is himself betrayed, even by God, because you see, a person can persist long enough in rebellion, in rejection of Christ that God is left no choice but to pour out His wrath on such a person.

Beloved, the bottom line is sin is going to be paid for one way or the other.  Fortunately for us in the age of the church, as we celebrated, as Alex was leading us this morning, the sin debt of the world has been paid for by what Jesus did.  This is what the elements represent and if we will receive what has been done then the sin debt is paid for.

But what about the person who refuses that offer and rejects it?  There is nothing good in that person’s future and what awaits them is a fiery indignation.  As the Book of Hebrews explains, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  [Hebrews 10:31]  And yet this is what the end is of this antichrist.  2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;” Jesus speaks one word and this man is eviscerated, consigned into Revelation 19:20, the lake of fire.  [Revelation 19:20, “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”]

What, going back to fact four in the larger study, what is going to happen at the end of this 490 year period?  What will happen is the political and restoration of the nation of Israel.  And listen to me very carefully: there is only one man who will bring peace to that nation and to the world for that matter, and that’s the Prince peace.  Everything else that you see on the news about the nation of Israel entering into this peace agreement or that peace agreement, or the nations of the earth meeting in different locations to solve this Middle East crisis which Zechariah predicted would be a stumbling block to the nations of the earth in the last days.

All of those are false props, false securities because God has designed this caldron bubbling in the Middle East to be exactly what it is.  God wants the nations of the earth to understand this is unfix­-able; the only person that will fix it is the Prince of Peace.  And through this shattering process, through this double cross, through this betrayal the nation of Israel, in the final 42 months of the tribulation period cries out to God citing Psalm 118:26, which is a Messianic psalm.  [Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”]

And Jesus answers; He rescues them, He protects them from the beast, and then He begins what the human race has always wanted, utopia, which will last a thousand years.  And after the thousand  years it will merge into the eternal state.

I don’t know what you’re trusting in for this world, what ideology, what partisan brand name, but whatever it is, it cannot deliver what it promises to deliver because only the Prince of Peace will bring peace to the world and therefore the physical, I’m not talking about the rapture here at all, the physical, visible, tangible return of Jesus Christ to the earth will solve this world’s problem.

You remember when Jesus ascended in Acts 1?  And the disciples were looking on, and the angel said in Acts 1, of Galilee, why do you stare up into heaven, this same Jesus is going to come back just like you saw Him go.  [Acts 1:11, “They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”]  How did He go?  From the Mount of Olives.  How is He coming back?  To the Mount of Olives.  In fact, the Mount of Olives we’re told will split in two when He comes back.

How did He leave?  Visibly.  How is He going to come back?  Visibly!  How did he leave physically?  Thomas, you remember, could touch the body of Christ prior to His ascension.  He’s not coming back as an invisible Spirit, He is coming back as a physical, visible reality that is just as real as when He came the first time.  He’s coming back physically, visibly, tangibly to the Mount of Olives, to Jerusalem, and THAT will solve the world’s problem.

And  until that happens everything else is an allusion; it can promise all kinds of things but beloved, it can’t deliver.  The only hope for the world is Jesus.  The only hope for the Jewish people and the Hebrew nation is not their military prowess, and their skills and finance, it is Jesus Christ, their Messiah and their Redeemer.  Heaven knows it, Israel doesn’t.  So what does God have to do?  He’s got to knock them down through the desolation of the temple so that we look up.

There’s a lot of things there in Daniel 9:27; how long is it going to last?  Seven years.  When is it going to start?  A peace treaty between the antichrist and unbelieving Israel.  What’s going to happen in the middle?  The desecration of the temple on a more intense level than even what Antiochus did.  And what’s going to conclude this event?  Jesus Christ returning to a repentant and believing nation of Israel but to get them in that place of repentance and belief God has to knock down a major prop which will happen halfway through.

And you say well, this is all very interesting; are there events taking place in our world that are setting the stage for this.  I mean, a chess game can’t just happen, the pieces have to be arranged.  And you’re articulating this with such clarity it’s almost as if you believe that the world is being set up for this event.  And if that’s your assessment you would be correct.  And if you come back next week I’m going to show you exactly how God’s hands are moving history in ways that have never ever happened before to prepare the way for this event.

You know, what props has God kicked out from under you?  What have you been relying upon that you discovered is an empty cistern?  If that’s your condition today then may I just say to you you’re in a great place because this is where the Lord wants to meet you with the power of His Holy Spirit, He wants to show you that nothing else has worked; now you’re teachable, you’re in a place to depend upon Him.  And God brings us, over and over again as Christians even, to that point of crisis where we have to trust in Him because the issue is too big for us.

And let me tell you something, God uses these kinds of things to awaken the unbeliever; He is in the business of removing the props and the unbeliever is woken up and maybe you’re in that condition and you’ve just stumbled into this church or you’re just watching it for the first time on the internet and our answer to it is the gospel.  The gospel is good news!  Why is it good news?  We celebrated it this morning, because God did everything.  He did EVERYTHING that can be done to bridge the gap between the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God.  What He asks us to do by matter of free will and volition is to trust, not in ourselves, not in our denomination, not in our ability to work hard but to trust in Him.

The reality of the situation is there’s only two types of philosophies in this world: there’s the do philosophy, where people are on some kind of obstacle course thinking that completing the obstacle course is going to make them right with God.  That’s philosophy A.  Unfortunately there’s philosophy B, which is the done philosophy, it’s done, we’re not trusting in our own works, we’re trusting in His work that He did for us.

Where are you in all this?  Are you in the doing camp or the done camp, because let me tell you something, Christ’s final words on the cross was “It is finished,” it’s done, it’s completed.  What else is there to add?  What else do you want to do for an encore?  No, we don’t do that, we trust in what He has done.

If the Spirit is convicting you as I speak then our challenge to you this morning is to trust in this man, Jesus Christ, and what He has done.  It’s something you can do right now as I’m talking; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you rest and trust exclusively in Him.  If it’s something that you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you’ve changed your eternal destiny.  If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray, Father, we’re grateful for this prophecy from the 6th century and how it enlightens us concerning You ways and Your work and where our world is headed.  In these difficult times, in the last days, Father, make us people that trust and walk and rest completely in Your sufficiency.  We’ll be careful to give  you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!