Daniel 11:36-12:13; 1 John 4:1-21;
Psalm 123:1-4; Proverbs 29:2-4
No man ever did, nor ever shall, truly go forth to convert the nations, nor to prophesy in the present state of witnesses against Antichrist, but by the gracious inspiration and instigation of the Holy Spirit of God. ~Roger Williams
From prophecy we learn that the Antichrist will be a political figure, but more importantly, he ends up being a religious figure. He has a second-hand man who acts as a priest and leads the world to worship the Antichrist and place him above all other gods on earth. The Antichrist is an impostor who attempts to capture Christ's position in the world. His goal is to be worshiped and to rule the earth. He is the little horn, who tries to be the big horn. This is just the opposite of Jesus who did not consider equality with God a thing to seek. Christ sought to be obedient to God and as a result, God will give him all authority in heaven and on earth in the end. It is Christ who will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords for eternity. Meanwhile, the Antichrist will succeed in his endeavor until the time of wrath is complete. Remember, God is in control of what happens on earth and the end times are a judgment on the rebellion of Israel and the wickedness of mankind in general. God allows this blasphemy and rebellion for a purpose. We see that the Antichrist will reward those who worship him and will use his power and ability to parcel land and possessions as a means of gaining and keeping loyalty on the earth.
Although God allows the Antichrist to have power on earth, it is not without conflict. Both the south and the north come against him. Some say that the south is Egypt and the north is Syria or some say this is Russia. The Antichrist will invade various lands and sweep through like a flood. It appears that some of the Arab nations will escape, represented by Edom, Moab, and Ammon which are modern day Jordan, but Egypt will not. Neither will Africa escape the rule of the "man of sin." (vs. 42).
Daniel is once again shown that behind the curtain of earth's history is an angelic war that takes place on the behalf of God's people. The nation of Israel is protected by an archangel named Michael. It is Michael who is powerful enough to come up against Satan. Remember that Satan was God's greatest angel until he fell. During Israel's Great Tribulation on earth Michael is in heaven fighting for their survival. Epic. We learn that certain Jews have their names written in the book of Life. Please note that at this time there are also believing Gentiles written into the Book of Life, but God is explaining the story of the Israelites to Daniel at this moment. Michael rescues those who are written in to be rescued. It is at the end of the Great Tribulation that the Old Testament saints (believers in the coming Messiah) will rise from the dead to participate in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on the earth (vs. 2).
In verse 5, Daniel is taken back to the banks of the river and to the original vision of Christ in linen. Two men in the vision ask Christ how long it will be before these events take place. Christ designates that it will be time, times and half a time. This is the 3 1/2 years of tremendous trials on earth and particularly for the nation of Israel once the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel. Persecution beyond belief breaks forth at this time.
Daniel asks the Lord how it will finally end. The Lord answers that it is for the future. Daniel is not given the exact time in the future, but he is given some reasons for these events. Here they are:
- Many (believing Jews and Gentiles) will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials.
- The wicked will continue in their wickedness and will not understand.
- The wise will know what it means.
Daniel is told that he will die and be raised in the end to receive the inheritance set aside for him. What a beautiful promise from the lips of the God to whom Daniel has worshiped and prayed his whole life. Daniel is reassured that there is eternal life. He is also reassured that he will see Christ reign on this earth.
Are you on board with God's story? The Church will be in a different place during this Great Tribulation. This indignation is not for believers who come to Christ during the age of grace. We will be in heaven during this time on earth. The Rapture or the "catching up" of the saints, which is described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, is when the dead in Christ, who are those who believed in Christ after His death and resurrection on earth, are raised from the dead and meet up with the believers who are alive on earth at the time and are caught up to be with the Lord. It is the absence of the Church on earth as salt and light that helps usher in the Tribulation period. Also, see 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 for a description of believers being changed in a moment into immortality. Please, also consider 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The Tribulation is a completion of God's work with the nation of Israel. It is their final punishment, indignation, and purification. After this time, God restores His people (a great majority, but not all) and fulfills His promise to rule them on the earth through the line of David.
There are other interpretations of Scripture and the end times that include the Church going through the Great Tribulation. I do not think that Scripture supports that position. Postmillennialists believe that there is a period of universal peace on earth that may or may not last one thousand years. They also are divided as to whether or not it begins abruptly or gradually. Some see it as in the future, while others thinks it is gradually occurring. They believe that a some point in the present, the Kingdom of God overcomes the kingdoms of this world. Through good works and the influence of the Holy Spirit, Christ is reigning now on earth according to the postmillennialists. Postmillennialists also believe that the Church endures some sort of Tribulation as part of bringing in the return of Christ to the earth.
The Amillennialists do not believe that there will be a physical earthly reign of Christ. They also do not hold to the thousand years being literal. They believe that the promises made to the nation of Israel are fulfilled by Christ and the Church during this age. They believe that Satan is no longer free to deceive the nation because of the Holy Spirit on earth.
I do not believe that you can read the words given to Daniel about "his people" and "the people of the holy covenant" and not recognize that God distinguishes between the nation of Israel and the Church. His plan includes both groups. His story unfolds to seamlessly tie up all loose ends.
Are you able to relate God's story to other people? Do you know which interpretation of the end times you believe? Can you support your beliefs with the Bible?
1 John 4:1-21
John warns his audience that they must test the spirits to see if they are from God. We have seen in our reading of the Bible that there are varying spirits in God's creation. There are good spirits and evil spirits. They war for our souls. How can you tell which type of spirit is teaching you in a given situation? A spirit that is from God will acknowledge that Jesus became a human being. John is saying that the concept is that God (the Messiah, Savior) has come in the flesh. This is the crux of Christianity. Immanuel is "God with us." That is what Jesus Christ is, God with us, who died for us and pays for us the penalty of sin.
Does this describe you? Has love cast fear out of your life?
Here is the Lord enthroned in heaven. Have mercy on us, Lord. We look to You to see how we should act. As the story unfolds, we must always see God on His throne in Heaven.
It is good to have godly leaders. Wicked leaders bring sorrow. The earth will really experience this under the Antichrist.
What have you learned?