February 29, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXVIII: Evil In A Long Line Of Evil-Part III: The Godless of War

At the end of Daniel chapter 11 we see the wars of Antichrist in verses 40–45, and the time of this conflict is declared to be “the time of the end”. The end of all things and the final battle terminates with the destruction of Antichrist at the beautiful holy mountain (v. 45) followed by the resurrection of the saints (12:2). These events have obviously not yet transpired, and the “end” here must be the final days of the present age. The “chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships” are symbolic of modern counterparts. Although “the king of the South” represented an Egyptian leader; and “the king of the North,” the Syrian king, in the end times this seems to change. These kings must symbolize nations or confederations of nations that exist in the last days. Unless something changes dramatically neither Egypt nor Syria today qualify as world leaders of the stature of their ancient counterparts. Annoying tyrants yes, powers…no. These territorial North and South must be in relation to Israel. The “king of the North” in this context seems to be Antichrist but could be someone else. The “king of the South” is anyone’s guess right now. Whoever the kingdom of the South is it has to have enough might to challenge Antichrist.

In verses 36–39 Antichrist is simply called “the king,” not the “king of the North.” Antichrist is from Rome (not directly north of Israel). But Babylon was northeast of Judah yet it is referred to as “the land of the north” because the invasion came from that direction. Ezekiel 38 and 39 also predict an invasion from the north. Until recently this enemy has been viewed as Russia as it is mighty and due north. The easiest and most logical explanation of the King of the North is Antichrist in this situation. Any other explanation becomes extremely convoluted and subject to pure speculation which I am currently flirting with myself.

In light of modern politics and geopolitical situations the most sensible arrangement for a king of the North seems to be a confederacy of northern Arab nations that occupy the area controlled by the ancient Seleucids. But that only applies to today in 2012. As the world changes so would this current scenario. In all probability…it will change because every generation believes it’s the final one and they are always wrong. Regardless, this league of nations or confederation fails against Antichrist.

A southern force will then attack Antichrist (possibly “the king of the North”), and Antichrist will retaliate and rout his challenge. He then subsequently invades the “countries” (sovereign entities) of those who have attacked him and will “sweep through them like a flood.” My question here is: Are these real nations as we have always understood them or are they areas of financial blocs or seats of culture different from those around them?

Some believe the massive military campaigns of Ezekiel 38–39 and Daniel 11:40–45 are theoretically impossible to pull off within such a small timeframe so they view these two Scriptural accounts as identical in the mid-Tribulation period. Having seen the technology and speed at which the United States military could mobilize and move troops in the Middle East, I question this assessment. We saw the elapse of hours in the Iraq War, not months or days. Technology has changed the battlefield…pilotless drones anyone?

Gog will be defeated, Antichrist will have “full control of the world,” and his persecutions will begin. Whoever Antichrist is he will have absolute control of the Middle East area. From this base he will branch out like tendrils of a disease or parasite.

Although the enormity of such a conflict preceding the great Battle of Armageddon three years post-hence seems out of the question to many “experts”. If God wills it…who cares what men think? As I have already stated my reasoning previous to this, technology has drastically sped up the ability to blitzkrieg. These battles may by synonymous. We see in verse 41 that Antichrist invades “the Beautiful Land”. “Edom, Moab and Ammon” (v.41) of ancient times were geographically where Jordon is today. This country will avoid battle (somehow). Whether it is because it is outside the Antichrist’s path or because it allies itself with this demonic force is unknown. Verse 42 refers Egypt or some form of coalition from this area. It is highly probably that whoever this is it will be allied with many others in a push to stop Antichrist.

“Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites will be put in submission”. These are areas in North Africa west of Egypt that includes modern-day Libya. Cush was/is an area roughly equivalent to modern Ethiopia and Sudan. Something tells me Ethiopia will not be mustering up a powerful army anytime soon so again I believe we will see congregations of other nations in these areas as “launch points” for attacks on Antichrist. Antichrist will overpower these also.

If the king of the south is Arab countries than Antichrist gaining, “control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt” may very well pertain to the immense wealth of gold crude (oil) in these nations. Gold crude is most prevalently turned into the fuels that power vehicles…and machinations of military machines---as Hitler found out too late…no oil…no machines of war. If these are in Antichrist’s back pocket and not the rest of the world, he has a distinct advantage to wage war with everyone else. What we know for certain is that the powers that emanate from Libya and Ethiopia are named as allies of Gog.

Reports from the east and the north will alarm Antichrist. He will launch and assault that will destroy many. Incensed that anyone would dare oppose his power and authority, he will arrogantly assemble troops with the intent of annihilation. Antichrist will meet these attacking forces in Palestine and “pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain.”

The beautiful holy mountain will probably be Israel/Palestine. Specifically Jerusalem or the place where the Temple was built (known as Mt. Moriah in the OT) and the seas clearly allude to the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. God’s city will be this brute’s headquarters.

Although there will be other battles in other places, Daniel is saying that the final war will be fought in Israel. The Book of Revelation indicates that it will actually be the Valley of Megiddo or Μαγεδών or Har-Meggiddon…Armageddon. Daniel 11 ends with an exacting statement, “there will be no escape for Antichrist when the Lord falls upon him and his empire. He will be destroyed by the splendor of Jesus’ coming. The beast will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

In all there are 135 prophecies literally fulfilled in Daniel 11:1-35. This has to have come from God. We see His omniscience, omnipotence, timelessness, sovereignty and perfection in this book alone (not to mention the remainder of the Holy Bible). There is no other religion or religious text can make this claim…not even close. This should clue people into the extraordinary nature of the Bible. Since no human being can know the future (apart from divine inspiration), there must be a God in heaven who revealed these matters. As scary as these statements about the future are, we must absolutely realize they are coming from a God that knows this and has promised us that the faithful will inevitably be spiritually protected from tribulation in the long run. The assurance that previous prophecy has been fulfilled perfectly assures that prophecy that has not been fulfilled…will follow the same pattern of exactness.

February 28, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXVII: Evil In A Long Line Of Evil - Part II: Slaughterhouse One

**(WARNING)* This post is graphic and violent but is a retelling of the history of the Jews during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. If you have a weak stomach don't read it. Yes, the picture above is a distorted image of a slaughterhouse. I am trying to paint a horrific picture of persecution and mercilessness by a monster.

The reason for all of this prophecy from Gabriel and my ensuing historical data and descriptions in the last two posts is to show the context for the persecution of the Jewish people.

After Antiochus’s first campaign against Egypt in 169 B.C., the king returned home by way of Israel and found an insurrection in progress (1 Maccabees 1:16–28; 2  Maccabees 5:1–11). He mercilessly puts down the rebellion, massacring eighty thousand men, women, and children. He also loots the temple with the help of the evil high priest, Menelaus. The persecution of the Jews by Antiochus now crosses the line to genocide. Daniel 11:29-30 then speak of Antiochus’ second Egyptian Campaign.

Well aware of the might of Rome, having been a hostage there, and remembering his father’s defeat by the Romans, Antiochus withdrew from Egypt to Antioch in utter humiliation.

Intensified Persecutions of Jews (Daniel 11:30-35).

Antiochus’ humiliation reverts demonically into anger against the Jewish people. He sent Apollonius the head of his mercenaries and the chief collector of “tribute” to Jerusalem. Pretending to come in peace, on the Sabbath Day he suddenly attacks massacring many people and plundering the city. It is later in 167 B.C. the suppression of the Jewish religion and wholesale slaughter of the Jews began on a grand scale. All Jewish religious practices: circumcision, possessing Scriptures, sacrifices, and feast days were forbidden on penalty of death. An imperial cult is put in its place. Desecration of the Jewish religion reaches its zenith when an altar/idol devoted to Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was erected in the temple. It is The Abomination that causes Desolation” and sacrifices including swine were offered on the altar.

In this way the temple was desecrated and rendered unusable by the Jews or caused desolation.

Antiochus made promises and flattered the people in order to cajole people to support his policies therefore he further corrupted the apostatizing Jews that did choose to follow him. There were still true believers who remained faithful to their God. It is in this faithful core that resisted we see the Maccabees. A priest named Mattathias refused to forsake his God. He had five sons, three of whom (Judas, Jonathan, and Simon) became known as the Maccabees. The term Maccabeus or “hammer” originally was given only then to Judas. The Maccabees and their revolt threw off the Syrian oppression through military victories. Maccabean victories were against Antiochus’s military including Apollonius, Seron, Gorgias, and Lysias between 166-164 B.C. approximately. As a result, to this day the rededicated of the Temple is still celebrated today. It is called: Hanukkah or “Festival of Lights”.

Because of their stand many of the Jewish faithful would be killed. Tens of thousands were slaughtered in these persecutions, and many others died during the fighting, including another son of Mattathias, Eleazar who was crushed by an elephant according to 1 Maccabees in 162 B.C., and Judas Maccabeus, who perished at the battle of Mount Azotus in 160 B.C. 15–18). Though intense, this persecution would last only for a short while.

During the duration of oppression those faithful to Yahweh “will receive a little help” (v.34). The rest of the verse apparently refers to the fact that as the strength of the Maccabean revolt grew, many uncommitted Jews sided with the rebels out of expediency, particularly when the Maccabean forces, now joined by the Hasidim, began to put to death those who had collaborated with the Seleucids. “Some of the wise will stumble” (v.35) basically tells us again that true believers will suffer persecution for their faith. This is always true for the faithful of God as we live in a fallen world system that incontrovertibly hates God. Period.

As we see in the entire scope of history in relation to God’s people whether they be the Jews or Christians. The ordeals they are forced to face are a refiners fire to burn off dross from the Church, to cleanse individuals of sinful practices and to strengthen their faith individually and corporately. Although, on the surface this seems counterintuitive to us as humans, that is exactly what we find in persecution. Persecution truly weeds out the faithful from the unfaithful. The unfaithful eventually crumble under the pressure and give in to the world while persecution and pressure from the world towards true believers only serves to strengthen their resolve to walk directly through the fire of affliction. This also makes us stand out and it is what singles us out. It is why we are hated. Anyone that has truly suffered persecution, mockery or ridicule for their faith…KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!

Antiochus IV died in 163 B.C. during an expedition in Persia, bringing to a conclusion both his life and his wicked atrocities against God’s people. Hell had a nice warm corner for him as it does for all those that rail against the One True God and His people. History records that Antiochus suffered a horrifying death. According to ancient historians he died insane in a self-mutilating and dismembering frenzy (he hacked himself to death). Other sources say he died an equally nasty demise being afflicted by worms and ulcers. Regardless of the means of death, it was not pretty and he did not go peacefully. Don’t mess with God, He’ll mess you up.

Those who adhere to the Maccabean thesis maintain that Daniel 11:36–45 continues to speak of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. There are serious problems with this position, not the least of which is the fact that much of the historical data set forth in these verses is impossible to harmonize with Antiochus’s life. Therefore…it did happen or should I say…it hasn’t happened yet. Antiochus never exalted himself above every god nor did he reject “the gods of his fathers,” or worship “a god unknown to his fathers” He set up a statue of Zeus in the Temple…the god of his fathers. Daniel also predicted that this king “will come to his end” in Palestine, Antiochus died in Persia.

Whoever is in view here appears to live in the last days, immediately adjacent to the coming of the Lord.

But the clearest indication that this “king” lives in the last days is that the resurrection of the saints will take place immediately after God delivers his people from this evil individual’s power. This can’t possibly have happened before Jesus Christ’s Resurrection as He was the “first fruits” of the Resurrection. This resurrection of the saints has to be in The End or eschatological in nature.

The Antichrist (11:36–45) the most notorious tyrant who will ever live is introduced into the narrative. His character is related (11:36–39); then his wars are described (11:40–45). Gabriel now seems to depart from the topic of Antiochus and begins to describe someone or something he closely resembled: The ominous Antichrist. Based solely in the personal charisma, intelligence, evil character, and political power, Antichrist will arrogantly believe that he can function without God. I suspect he will think he is a god. Although he will be an adherent of no religion or religion-less he will none-the-less use religion as a tool to gain and maintain power and control. Because he things so highly of himself…there will be no room for God anyway. Not surprisingly, this will be his ultimate downfall. Those that try to run wide of God only end up running in a large circle right into judgment from Him anyway. Man cannot run from an omnipresent God.

Jeremiah 23:24 ~ Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.

He will speak “unheard-of things” or “astonishing, shocking, or unbelievable things” In arrogance he will spew out vile, shockingly blasphemous words against Christ (Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, 25; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:5–6). As mom use to say…he will have a mouth on him that will need to be washed out with soap. In his case, God will do it with fire for eternity.

The time of wrath shall come. God’s wrath will be poured out upon Antichrist and the whole sinful world in the last days during the tribulation period. Even though Antichrist will be judged, even he himself is part of God’s judgment upon the wicked in the world. The wicked will literally be used to punish the wicked. Call it poetic justice (or un-poetic because frankly, I am seeing nothing remotely close to poetry here).

An interesting side note is the phrase often mistranslated in verse 37, “the one desired by women” has been variously interpreted…usually very poorly. A literal translation of the phrase in Hebrew is “the desire of women” could also be understood as “that desired by women,” or even “the desire for women.” Many interpreters with poor linguistic skills (or no linguistic skills trying to read things into the text) often read this as the Antichrist will have no desire for women. Therefore he will be a homosexual. That is not what this says. In the context of the passage this interpretation makes even less sense.

People need to learn the idea of context and intent of language before speaking here. (John Hagee please take note) The Context: "He [Antichrist] will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired of women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all." ~Daniel 11:37.

In the context of talking about Antichrist not regarding any god it then goes on to reference someone else Antichrist will not regard in the context of talking about gods…"he will not regard the one desired of women”. In Hebrew it says  נָשִׁ֛ים / of women, not by women. "He will not regard the one desired of women". What does this mean...or should I ask, who is this? In all likelihood it is Jesus Christ since (1) He is God (think context) and (2) all Jewish women at the time that were waiting for Messiah...wanted to be the mother of the Messiah. We're taking about an honor bound Jewish society folks! This is why Elizabeth exclaims to Mary that, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:42Blessed...honored by God. Jesus was the One desired of woman. Jesus, as He often is referred to in the Old Testament, is referred to here in veiled terms…just like the ‘son of man’. People that say Antichrist is a homosexual are in all probability totally misreading this passage and are forcefully removing it from its context to make this claim. Now we have a huge swath of Evangelicals looking for a megalomaniacal homosexual madman on the loose! Demerits to the evangelicals that have been doing this! You make the rest of Christianity look like malicious dopes! Knock it off! This passage appears to be saying the Antichrist is rejecting Jesus Christ (and also the false gods of his fathers/ancestors). Rejecting Christ is the worst thing anyone could do!

The Antichrist will therefore regard no god thereby rejecting them all since he will exalt himself above them all. Nut jobs like this usually demand worship too. Antichrist will not worship the gods (or “god”) of his ancestors; instead of worshipping the gods of his fathers he will honor 'a god of fortresses' ” This kook is going to rely solely on military power and might. He will be a god (godless) of war… or should I say his god will be war? He will use only force to gain world power. I don’t know about you but this sounds an awful lot like tyranny of fascism or a similar dictatorship by force. This dictator “will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god.”

Curious…for a man that believes in no god and exalts himself similar to one, he will certainly rely on and draw on the fear of “religion” or “religion-esque” behavior to gain blood-soaked ground. This is where I believe the true Christians will standout and become his bane. It is why Christians will be ruthlessly eradicated. True Christianity is not a “religion” or “ritual” per se it is a relationship. I believe true Christians will see right through this slug to the heart of his demonic deception and depravity. Christians will see that it is the power of military might that has caused this moron’s ascendancy. Therefore, Antichrist will destroy all of those who dare challenge him or catch wind of his true motive. His power will be so overwhelming people will ask things like:

“Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” Revelation 13:4

He “distribute the land” to those that supported his rise to power and who are loyal to him. To keep these allotments unquestioned loyalty and devotion is the cost. I smell a rat here. I smell a payoff…literally. Bribes and political interests or as they say in the trade: Special interest groups...etc. People will be bought and sold in power plays.

February 27, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXVI: Evil In A Long Line Of Evil-Part I: Belligerents

Evil and Deception From A Deceptive Family Tree

In the previous posts this vision was introduced; now its contents are revealed—a history of key events leading up to the time of the end. Gabriel begins with the Persian period, the time in which Daniel was then living, making reference to four of its kings (v. 2). Next he describes the Greek Empire under Alexander and its subsequent division into four sections after the great conqueror’s death (vv. 3–4). Two of these divisions, the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid, receive special attention because of their important relationship to Israel (vv. 5–20). The explanation in 11:2–20 is a detailed explanation of the extremely wicked persecutor, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The description then reaches ahead to the worst of all…the Antichrist in verses 36–45.

The description of Antichrist’s is terrifying but it is tempered with the end result of God ending him and his reign. The entire scope of the remainder of Daniel centers around two individuals, Antiochus and Antichrist. The accuracy with which the prophecies are put forward about some of the more immediate prophecies: About Persia, Greece, etc. are uncanny (supernatural).

Prophecies Regarding Persia (11:2)

Gabriel reveals “The truth”. We see that “three more kings” arising from Persia refers to those that came after Cyrus who was reigning at the time of this vision (Daniel 10:1).
  • Xerxes I (486–465 B.C.) is clearly identified as the fourth king by the description of his great wealth and expedition against Greece.
History shows us that the kings who ruled between Cyrus and Xerxes I were:
  • Cambyses (530–522)
  • Smerdis (or Gaumata; 522)
  • Darius I Hystaspes (522–486)
As with the issue of Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar, the kings after Xerxes not mentioned most likely because the later Persian rulers were not critical to the writer’s purpose. I suppose this is to keep the focus on the mighty king that would arise. In history we know this to be Alexander and he comes head-to-head with Xerxes I. Later Alexander the Great retaliates after a massive campaign(s) against Greece by Xerxes I. In 331 BC the empire was dealt its death blow by Alexander the Great. One of the battles of Persia against Greece was the infamous Battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.) of which we have a disastrous modern Hollywood rewrite of history of called “300

Prophecies Regarding Greece (11:3–4)

Nearly all readers of Scripture and scholars agree that the “mighty king” of v. 3 is Alexander the Great (336–323 B.C.), the ruler who brought about the downfall of the Persian Empire. There is no one else in history that even comes close to meeting the description in Scripture as well as Alexander does. The description of this king and his kingdom are unmistakable. With Greece in control we see the rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Seleucid-Greek ruler, who proceeded out of one of the four divisions of this mighty king’s realm after the enigmatic death of Alexander. After conquering the known world, he died in Babylon in 323 B.C., possibly of a fever caused by malaria. After his death the empire came to be divided into four sections (Daniel 8:8, 11:4) by his military commanders. The rulers were known as the Diadochi meaning “successors” (Daniel 7:6, 8:8). Alexander’s sons were both murdered, so no part of his empire went to “his descendants.” We see the remarkable accuracy of a prophecy given centuries before.

Prophecies Regarding Egypt and Syria (11:5–20)

Daniel 11 elaborates on the history of the conflicts between two divisions of the Greek Empire: The Ptolemaic (Egyptian) and The Seleucid (Syrian) until the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–163 B.C.). The other divisions are irrelevant as they do not directly affect God’s chosen people on Israel. From the Seleucid kingdom would come Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the “little horn” of chap. 8 who is the prototype of the end times Antichrist alluded to in Daniel 7 verses.

We then see a literal foretelling of history….and I do mean literal. I challenge anyone to tell me God is not sovereign and omniscient after reading this next foray into real history

Ptolemy I (Soter) & Seleucus I (Nicator) (11:5)

The “king of the South” (v. 5) is Ptolemy I Soter (323–285 B.C.), the ruler of Egypt (v. 11:8) where the king of the South’s land is stated to be Egypt who had been a highly capable general under Alexander. “One of his commanders” alludes to Seleucus I Nicator (312/311–280 B.C.), who had been a lesser general under Alexander. He was appointed a satrap of Babylonia in 321 B.C., but when another general, Antigonus, seized Babylonia, Seleucus fled to Ptolemy Soter in Egypt to serve under him, thus becoming “one of his commanders.” Antigonus was defeated in 312 B.C. at Gaza, and Seleucus returned to his former domain and he greatly increased his power, eventually controlling more territory than Ptolemy. The “Seleucid era” was launched and it was the largest of all the divisions of the Greek Empire.

Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) & Antiochus II (Theos) (11:6)

From the start there were constant conflicts arose between the kingdoms of the Ptolemies (Egypt) and the Seleucids (Syria). Ptolemy I dies and conflicts continue under his son Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 B.C.), who of all people according to tradition prompted the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek called the Septuagint LXX. Ptolemy II made a peace treaty with the Seleucid Antiochus II Theos (261–246 B.C.) (v. 11:6). Ptolemy’s daughter (v.6) “the daughter of the king of the South” marries Antiochus (v.6) “the king of the North” to form and alliance between the two kingdoms. Her son would then become heir to the Seleucid throne. So much for the plans of men and much to the glory of God we see things unfold as God has said, not as man has planned. Antiochus was already married to a woman named Laodice who succeeded in murdering Antiochus and a majority of the rest of the family therefore their “power” did not “remain.” Laodice then ruled as queen regent (246–226 B.C.).

Ptolemy III (Euergetes) And Seleucus II (Callinicus) (11:7–9)

Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 B.C.) succeeds his father Philadelphus to the throne of Egypt. He would rule “in his father’s place” In retaliation for his sister’s murder, Ptolemy III attacks Syria “king of the North”. The Egyptian king soundly defeated the Syrian forces and Laodice disappears from history (killed). Ptolemy seized Syria’s “gods” and other valuables (11:8). Ptolemy makes a peace treaty with Seleucus II in 240 B.C. in order to pursue further conquests. There is no record that Seleucus II ever attempted an invasion of Egypt proper. Evidently this campaign was brief with a swift “retreat” to Syria.

Seleucus II died in 226 B.C. and his sons: Seleucus III (226–223 B.C.) and Antiochus III (223–187 B.C.) continued the wars (prepare for war) with the Ptolemies (Daniel 11:10). Seleucus III was murdered after a brief three-year reign, and his brother, Antiochus III, came to power. In response Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–203 B.C.) launched a counterattack (Daniel 11:11). Both armies for this time in history were large. When the battle ended, Ptolemy had won and his heart was “filled with pride.” (Daniel 11:12)

No longer are the Ptolemies ascendant and Daniel 11:13–35 describe next period of Seleucid supremacy.

There were many insurrections within Egypt. “The violent men” or “the sons of the violent ones” speak of robbers and murderers in the OT. Here it is a label for those Jews who aided Antiochus. These Israelites “will rebel” against Egypt (or against God) “in fulfillment of the vision” (Daniel 11:14). The forces were ultimately defeated, he punished the leaders of Jerusalem and Judah who rebelled against the Ptolemaic government. General Scopas of Ptolemaic Egypt engages the Syrian forces at the Battle of Panium and suffered severe losses. General Scopas finally surrendered in 198 B.C in Sidon. With the defeat of the Ptolemaic Egyptians at Sidon, Antiochus (“the invader”) acquired complete control over Phoenicia and Palestine. The “Beautiful Land” becomes a permanent possession of the Syrian Empire.

Syrians forced terms of peace “an alliance” upon the Egyptian king. To assure the alliance agreement Antiochus gives his “daughter,” Cleopatra, to Ptolemy V as a wife hoping he could gain further control over Egypt. The plan did not succeed for Cleopatra loved her husband and supported the Ptolemaic cause completely (v.17). Daniel 11:18–19 prophesy Antiochus’s defeat and end. Having vanquished the Egyptians, in 197 B.C. or shortly thereafter Antiochus turned “his attention to the coastlands,” the islands or countries around the Mediterranean. In 191 B.C. the Romans, fighting with their Greek allies, routed the Syrians at Thermopylae (a coastal pass) and forced them to withdraw from Greece and flee to Asia Minor. By 188 B.C. the Romans forced Antiochus to sign the Treaty of Apamea. After this humiliating defeat, Antiochus returned to his country, where he was killed by an angry mob in 187 B.C (Daniel 11:19). In desperate need of funds, particularly those required to meet the indemnity payments to Rome, the Syrian ruler pillaged the temple of Zeus (Bel) at Elymais but was killed in the process, evidently by the citizens defending their sanctuary.

Seleucus IV Philopator (11:20)

The son of Antiochus III was Seleucus IV Philopator (187–175 B.C.), who sent Heliodorus to collect money to pay the thousand talents demanded annually by the Romans as part of the treaty at Apamea. According to 2 Macc 3:7–40, Seleucus even sent Heliodorus to plunder the temple in Jerusalem in order to provide funds for the Syrian treasury, but a frightful vision of mighty angels prevented this sacrilege. Seleucus IV reigned only “a few years” and was not killed by an angry mob “in anger” like his father or “in battle.”

Enter: Antiochus IV Epiphanes (prototype Antichrist). He will control the land and “will have the power to destroy it”. When he enters Jerusalem in 198 B.C., he receives a warm welcome, for most looked upon him as a “supporter or benefactor” Within twenty-three years his change in government would lead to “hell on earth” for the Jewish people of God.

Prophecies Regarding Antiochus IV Epiphanes (11:21–35)

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a “contemptible person” (Jeremiah 22:28) by the Scripture because from the Jewish (and human in general) view point he was a monstrosity. He severely persecuted Jews, massacring them. He referred to himself as the “Manifest One,” or “Illustrious One” as printed on coins of the time (see post: Apocalypse Prophecy XX). Most people just called him Epimanes or the “madman.” English translations that state “He will invade the kingdom” is better understood “he will come to the kingdom”. Antiochus did not become king of Syria by means of a military invasion. “When its people feel secure” is the idea that Antiochus would come in a time of false security or that he would come “unawares”. In 169 B.C. Ptolemy VI Philometor (181–146 B.C.) launched an attack to regain territories (Palestine and Phoenicia) lost to the Syrians, but his “overwhelming army” was defeated by Antiochus’s forces (Daniel 11:22-23). Ptolemy is called “a prince of the covenant” because he agreed (made a covenant) to become an ally of Antiochus if the Syrians would help him regain his throne in Egypt, which had been taken by his younger brother, Ptolemy VII Euergetes II (Physcon). Antiochus was thrilled to make such a pact, for he felt that it would give him a foothold in Egypt. Ptolemy regained his throne and broke this agreement and allied himself with his brother Ptolemy VII to dislodge Antiochus’s troops on the border of Egypt. When people felt “secure” or “without warning” Antiochus invades the richest provinces and plundered their treasures. These areas included Egypt, Judea, and other provinces. In some cases it is noted in historical sources that Antiochus gave gifts to the people. These appear or seem to suggest the idea of dividing the spoils of war

He had grandiose plans to conquer “fortresses” but his success would be “only for a short time” or a “time decreed by God.”

God would cut this monster off.

The “plots devised” against Ptolemy (Daniel 11:25-26) seem to include Antiochus’s plans Cumulatively these things prevented Ptolemy from successfully “standing” against the Syrians. It appears Ptolemy’s trusted counselors turned traitorous and purposely and unwisely urged the young king to recapture Syria and Palestine. This then gains the anger of Antiochus. In v27 “The figure of speaking lies at the same table” is significant because, to the oriental, deception practiced at a table of hospitality was the very lowest in kind. The plan of Antiochus and Ptolemy to control all Egypt was “to no avail.” Ptolemy VI was installed as king in Memphis, but Ptolemy VII still ruled in Alexandria. Later Ptolemy VI established a joint rule with his brother, Ptolemy VII.

We see though that regardless of man’s finagling and plans, God is sovereign and this monster and his plans would come to an end "at the appointed time".

February 26, 2012

New Improved SoulJournaler

By now I suppose all of my regular readers will realize that I've slightly modified SoulJournaler's format. In the past I have been told the blog looked too congested in the middle of the page and with spacing between lines of text. This was Bloggers old template. I was postponing this changeover to a new wider set-up until I had time to troubleshoot as changing orientations and fixing the fallout from this would take time I didn't have. True to my fears, when I switched over, things got really messed up and I need to rewrite some code to get it right and still maintain a majority of the old "feel". What you now see is a wider format. Moved are quotes of the day and a few other knick-knacks I couldn't figure out and it wasn't worth the time to try. I have added social media buttons and more reader interaction stuff below the posts. Yes, I know the Post heading blinks as different fonts when they first load. Don't worry about it, its not your computer, its Blogger's server. It goes away after a second or so. If you have problems viewing the whole site you'll need to maximize your window for the full effect of the new wider format. Hope you like the new set-up. The hope is to eventually migrate all of my material from Blogger to my own domain www.souljournaler.com since keeping it on here makes it their intellectual property. I want to own this stuff off their site so I can publish it as I please and not worry about copyright infringement on my own material.

Be Blessed

February 25, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXV: Daniel's Final Vision - Preperation

Daniel’s last recorded vision extends from Chapter 10 until the end of the book and is one literary unit. In this vision an angel appeared to the prophet and reveals to him the coming future history of Israel from the Persian period or Daniel's current time when the vision was given until the coming of the Kingdom of God that was ultimately to come.

To some extent they more or less reiterate things already reviewed about the interaction of the Greek empire with God's chosen people. It is here that we are given more information about the Antichrist and the tribulation period of the last days. A threefold division of the final revelation is apparent:

Preparation for the Vision (10:1–11:1)
Contents of the Vision (11:2–12:3)
Daniel's Final Instructions (12:4–13)

Chapter10 is an introduction to the message itself and relates the setting. There is a vision of an awe-inspiring heavenly person, and the arrival an interpreting angel to give wisdom to the prophet. The really interesting part of this chapter is its angelology or what it tells us of the angelic realm. It truly states important facts relative to angels and demons and their respective interests in the people and work of God.

Context of the Vision

Daniel’s final vision came in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia. It is around this time the lions’ den incident took place. Daniel interjects his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, to emphasize that he was indeed the same individual spoken of earlier in the book. Considering Daniel would've been advanced in years it is probably his condition would've prohibited making the arduous journey to his homeland with the other Jewish returnees.

Daniel is clearly "skitzed out" by this vision since it, “it concerned a great war” or was “one of great conflict". The Hebrew text reads literally “and a great war” or “conflict,” with the verb to be supplied. The phrase could refer to a great earthly war (or wars) that would occur in the future, or it could even describe spiritual warfare between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. The text does not delineate between the two no matter how hard an interpreter imposes or forces meaning on the text. It is quite possible that both are implied as they are not specified either/or. The conflict in these last chapters could be conflicts between nations or angels as they intermingle with one another. Daniel understood these visions and this understanding came as an answer to Daniel’s prayers (cf. 10:12). It would appear that Daniel was again praying for wisdom. This should be great assurance to us that pray for wisdom also. By now the Jewish captives had returned to Palestine. Work on the temple was being opposed by the Samaritans, and it is possible that reconstruction had already been halted (Ezra 4:5, 24).

For three weeks Daniel had been fasting when he received the revelation—“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips.” It should be noted that Daniel’s diet was not now restricted to vegetables as it had been when he first arrived in Babylon (chapter 1:12, 16). This indicates therefore shows that normally Daniel had no aversion to eating meat as such but only those meats that were not prohibited by the law. He was not a vegetarian or vegan. When he was able to consume foods of his own choosing, he again included meat as part of his diet.

Heavenly Being With Gold From Uphaz (10:4–9)

Daniel was beside the Tigris in a bodily presence, not in vision, when a heavenly being appeared to him. Verse 5's “there before me” is a translation of הִנֵּה hinnēh, “behold, look.” Hinnēh is an interjection that clearly articulates the amazement of the prophet at this heavenly being. Daniel is dumbstruck here which is saying a lot considering everything he has already been through in his life. Daniel is on the river bank, and he “ looked up” as whomever this was, he/it was above the prophet. It is interesting that this entity was called a “man” because he appeared in human form, was dressed in white “linen” garments. White linen being associate with Levite priests (Exodus 28:42, Leviticus 6:10, etc). Whether they were linen or not is irrelevant, it is clear they are symbolic of purity (Isaiah 1:18). Later in Revelations the saints in heaven also are also arrayed wearing white robes (Revelation 3:5; 6:11; 7:9, 13). Whoever this was...they were holy.

So Who Was It?

It seems to me that this person was God not only because of the overwhelming effect of his presence on Daniel who had already been in the presence of angelic beings but because of the similar description of the theophany presented in Ezekiel 1:26–28 and the even closer parallel to the portrait of Christ in Revelation 1:12–16. In 12:6 this “man in linen” also seems to have had knowledge that transcended that of the other angels, and in 12:7 he took a divine oath. A common rebuttal to this raised against this is that the angel described in vv. 10–14 was clearly inferior to God. For example, this angel was “sent” to Daniel and required Michael’s help to fight against other angelic forces (v. 13). It is quite possible that the “man dressed in linen” and the interpreting angel introduced in v. 10 are distinct personalities. Therefore the personage described in 10:5–6 can be a theophany

In Daniel 10:7 Only Daniel saw the heavenly person in the “vision,” but there were other men felt a supernatural presence. So much so that the experienced “a great trembling and terror and were overwhelmed”. They chickened-out and ran away as Monty Python skits would say...just as I would have in the same instance! This is similar to Paul's experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1–7).

Angel’s Explanation To The Man Greatly Loved (10:10–14)

The vision of Christ has passed, and the interpreting angel enters the picture by touching Daniel and raising him from the ground so that he was resting on his “hands and knees.” Daniel was then told to listen carefully which is totally understandable considering just how confusing the next message would be as much of it was buried in veiled terms.

Right off the bat it is crucial to note that the prophecies in this revelation that have been fulfilled were fulfilled were fulfilled literally and exactly. This establishes a pattern that those that have not been fulfilled would standout as not being fulfilled. When they do get fulfilled they will be "dead on the money".

Michael, comes to the interpreting angel’s aid. Michael became involved interceding for Israel, because Israel was entrusted to Michael’s care (v. 21). He was the "Prince" of Israel. It says he was “detained there with the king of Persia” which appears to mean the angel was prevented from leaving the area ruled by the king of the Persian Empire. It is here we really begin to get a glimpse inside of the spiritual realm and we begin to see the scope of angelic spiritual warfare running in parallel to the world we see around. We see that they are at times-nearly synonymous. It is quite possible that in angelic warfare, these “kings” likely spiritual principalities who attempted to control Persia. Most likely evil ones. Literally...Gabriel had been on his way from heaven with a message for Daniel but had been prohibited by the "prince of Persia". Michael apparently is "called in for back-up" and helped him to have victory over this foe, and Gabriel was then able to continue his journey. since it was referred to as the Prince of Persia just as Michael is the Prince of Israel, it is assumed that it is angel. A fallen one: Demon. It is possible this may have even been Satan as this "prince" was so extraordinarily powerful, that it took two archangels to keep him at bay. Persia having pretty much ruled the world at this time would've lent credibility of Satan concentrating his energies there. Here we see the magnitude of the forces we work against that are of this world. People often say they want to be an aggressive soldier for God and fight demons and the Devil head-to-head. God is already done that work. Don't be an idiot. By saying this, you show how little you understand the evil and subversive forces in this world. Stand your ground in Christ but don't be and arrogant idiot. You'll end up getting. We later see (v.10) the conflict was resumed after the revelation was delivered.

Israel has a mighty angelic supporter in the heavenly realm. It would be reasonable to assume regardless of Israel’s political, military, and economic status, its existence is assured because no earthly power can resist Michael.

So what do we learn with certainty from this passage? Angels are real and they are both good and bad (demonic). They can absolutely influence the affairs of human beings including governments and idiots like Antiochus and the Antichrist. Even today we can see the profound influence Satan has in his attempt to sway earthly governments. One needs only look at the recent tyrannical empires like Nazi Germany, Stalin led Soviet Union and Mao Zedong’s China and God knows what lies in the future. This warfare is an unending struggle until the Kingdom of God arrives in full forever.

While it is entirely possible for God to annihilate all the forces of Hell in a finger snap, He allows them limited and finite powers just as he allows humans their stupidity of sin. In both cases the exercise of free will in opposition to the Lord is permitted by Him when he sees fit as it will eventually work out to His ultimate glory. If He didn’t permit it…it couldn’t even take place. You’re only allowed to sin because God lets you! In the case of humans, we should be thankful He affords us this time to come to our senses rather than vaporizing us because of our sin. It’s called mercy and grace based in love that He has not already done so.

In Daniel 10:14 the angel now declares the purpose for his visit. Daniel’s prayer had been for insight concerning the future of his people, the Jews, and God was granting him knowledge about these matters. In Daniel 10:20, Daniel was asked if he knew why the angel had come. The question obviously was rhetorical since the answer had already been given in vv. 12 and 14 and would be reiterated in the next verse.

Interestingly the angel announced that soon he must “return to fight against the prince of Persia,” a battle that
would continue for two centuries which ironically is just about the length of Persian rule (539–331 B.C.) until Alexander the Great takes over. This most certainly means that behind the scenes of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah this battle is concurrently being waged. Hmmmm… I find this interesting. The angel also says that later “the prince of Greece will come”. The implication is that he would fight against this prince also. This evil spirit would come later when the empire of Greece rose to power, indicating that the angelic conflict would continue into the time of the Greek Empire. This also tells us with certainty that these empires ascent to power were clearly demonically fuel. It makes one wonder, if they were, which others? Most? Some? Ours?

In verse 21 we see a mention of the “Book of Truth” and this symbolically refers to God’s plan for Israel and the world. It is here we see the grand overarching plan of a sovereign God alluded to in a rather mundane concept. It is a book…that has documented the plan of God. A plan that will unfold exactly as it is written in the book. This is similar to the idea of the "Lambs Book of Life" containing all the people saved by the blood of Christ as determined before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8).

Chapter 10 ends with a comment that no one except Michael supported Gabriel in his spiritual warfare—and it is clear it is because no one else was needed. We then see the infamous chapter break of Chapter 11:1 that should’ve been part of Chapter 10 as the first verse of 11 is still speaking of the context of the end of chapter 10 and the mutual aid between Michael and the interpreting angel.

[More in the next post...]

February 24, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXIV: More Odds n' Ends In The End of Daniel


In Hebrew there are a number of ‘markers’ used to suggest the main sections in the structure. We see then used in 10:10 and 12:5 that often mark a new scene. The text gives us words and grammatical prose and structure as plausible section markers. I will list them all. The opening verse Daniel 10:1 is written in the third person. This is followed by Daniel's description of his actions. A dateline like the one in Daniel 10:4 clearly marks the beginning of a fresh section also. More specifically in Hebrew narrative וְהִנֵּה־ / (we)hinneh or “behold” often marks a new scene just as it does in Daniel 10:10. The וְעַתָּ֕ה / we'attiih or “and now” of 11:2a is another fairly common section marker, and v. 2b is introduced by hinneh / Behold.

Daniel 12:1-3 on the other hand stands out because of its content and because of the more rhythmic prose, and the use of Hebrew parallelism and simile. The Hebrew word hinneh again appears when introducing the epilogue. Interestingly, the passage in Daniel 12:9-13 is marked going in and coming out (beginning and end) by the repeated command, “Go your way ... “.

To a lesser extent it appears there are even historical and chronological markers in the use of King’s reigns: Warrior King, King of the North, etc. This is common though not only in Daniel but throughout the Bible as we believe in a God that is a God of not just things but time also and when He acts He acts in real time with real people.

Parallels to Chapters 10-12

There are other Old Testament book that shares very close verbal links to Daniel. There are allusions to earlier Hebrew prophets littered all throughout Daniel 10-12…of note in our text (Lucas)…of note is the account of the epiphany in Daniel 10 which has close verbal links with the theophany(ies) described in Ezekiel 1-3; 9-10. Nearly every phrase used to describe the messenger in Daniel 10:5-6 can be found in the passages in Ezekiel. The passage in Ezekiel 7:14-27 is an oracle warning of the destruction of Jerusalem because of the sins of Judeans and this seems to be in the background in two places in Daniel 11. The first is 11:14-16 and the second is 11:31. It is also interesting to note the similarities to Isaiah. Specifically Daniel 9 parallels Isaiah 10:22-23 and Daniel 11 should be matched together with Isaiah 28:15-22 as both these are oracles about Assyria and the destruction it will wreak in Judah as the agent of God's wrath. The verbal similarities are so great that it would be excessive to type them all here. It is recommended that others review them for themselves.

Phrases that Comfort

What phrases does Daniel uses phrases in his writing that should ultimately comfort us in our time of need and times of suffering. They assure us that God is in control of history and it is not just a simple script with humans playing their parts in turn.

The phrases we need to make note of are, “he will be broken” and references to “an end” and “an appointed time”. This prevents us from forgetting that a Sovereign God is indeed in control. By stating this it also shows that man are indeed responsible for their actions as these words imply that humans have committed acts and God wasn’t exactly thrilled with them so He will put “an end” to them at “an appointed time”. The thing that defines the length of time God will wait is his forbearance in mercy and grace. After which God will stay His hand no more and His wrath against wickedness and sin will be unleashed. In the end God triumphs because God’s purposes will not be thwarted. In the end there is victory in the Lord.

February 22, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXIII: The 70

Seventy Weeks (9:1–27)

In this vision Daniel did not see a beast rising out of a sea or rams and goats, Nor does he see Gabriel appear in vision but in bodily form. This new vision needs to be seen as a prophetic revelation a la Habakkuk 2:2. Daniel 9 contains a record of the prophet’s prayer on behalf of the covenant people Israel, the vision is more or less God’s response to that prayer. Daniel prays and intercessory prayer for his people.

The events of this chapter transpire approximately a decase after Daniel’s second vision recorded in chapter 8. Darius the Mede (which is probably an alternative title of Cyrus is described as the son of “Xerxes” or “Ahasuerus” which is a Hebrew equivalent. “According to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet” (v2) is a strong affirmation of verbal inspiration. The writer of Daniel believed that the sacred Scriptures, in this case the prophecies of Jeremiah, were the very words of God delivered to the world through a human instrument. “That the desolation of Jerusalem would last” is literally “to completely fill up the desolations of Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem would lie in ruins until its inhabitants experienced the full measure of the discipline of Yahweh and then they would return and rebuild the city. Jerusalem’s desolations would continue for seventy years.

The prophet Jeremiah had predicted that Judah would go into captivity to Babylon but after seventy years would return to the land

This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Jeremiah 25:11

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. Jeremiah 29:10

The year 605 B.C. was the year when the first captives were taken to Babylon (Daniel and his friends). It can be assumed that Jeremiah intended this as the beginning date for the seventy-year captivity period. Then Cyrus issued the decree releasing the captives in 538/537 B.C., and the exiles returned shortly thereafter and probably arriving back in Jerusalem en masse approximately 535…70 years later. To me this is an amazing fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Daniels Prayer (9:3)

Daniel prayed in earnest to the Lord with a determined heart. “I turned” in the Hebrew reads, “I gave my face.” Daniel determined to look to God in prayer until He gave him an answer.Not only did God hear Daniel’s prayer, but he also had the power to direct the affairs of world history in order to answer the prayer. Daniel’s mind was amazing versed and filled with God’s Word as the prayer shows Deuteronomy, Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8, and Jeremiah to name a few that are obvious. There is a sense of emphasis given by Daniel in this prayer that is poorly translated in the English as “alas”. Daniel was seriously straining against the spiritual in his petition to God here…I imagine he might have even been sweating, crying, etc. Daniel began to pour out his heart to God as he confessed his sin and the sin of his people Israel. Even though Daniel identified himself with his people, he certainly had not been part of the rebellious majority who had brought the wrath of God upon the nation. I guess the truth is that no matter how little we sin we are all sinners and should see ourselves as such. The Israelites, Daniel and we miss the mark which is exactly what sin means…to miss the mark. This veering from God’s prescribed path is condemned because it is deliberate. The Hebrew verb רָ֭שָׁע “be wicked” may literally be one who is guilty of crimes against humanity or against God. Israel’s crime was rebellion against their God who was holy.

God had sent his “servants, the prophets” to exhort the people of Israel and their leaders to repent of their sin, but they refused to listen. Not all though, the prophets were faithful, and others like Daniel and his friends remained true to God through the covenant. The nation as a whole though stumbled badly, the “kings”, “princes” and “fathers”.

In verses 7 and 8 Daniel contrasted the righteousness of the Lord with the unfaithfulness of Israel and it makes mankind in general look pathetic. Israel was in the present state that they were (just as we are in sin) because they were a disgrace without God. It is only because of God and with God that we have any value. Without him we look like these pathetic Israelites in captivity. Slaves to a subjugating power…slaves to sin.

We see in Israel’s exile to Babylon the curses from Deuteronomy played out in their lives for disobeying their covenant with God. Daniel again reminded them that the disaster that had befallen them was predicted in the Law of Moses. The prophet grieved over the fact that even though this great disaster had come upon Israel “just as it is written,” the nation as a whole still had not repented. Judgment fell because Yahweh God “is righteous in everything he does.” In spite of Israel’s sin the prophet was pleading with God to remember these promises and reestablish the nation of Israel. Daniel prayed for a restoration of Jerusalem, he requested the rebuilding of the temple.

We must never forget that these “requests” were not based on the fact that the Jewish people were “righteous” (lit., “our righteous acts”) because they were not. This is purely based in God’s mercy and grace just as the gift of His Son would be.

Facilitator of the Vision (9:20–23)

Before Daniel even finished his prayer, God sends an answer. God hears our prayers

Gabriel comes for divine communication. The word “came” is a rendering of the Hebrew participle of נֹגֵ֣עַ “to touch.” Gabriel could’ve literally “touched” Daniel but the arrival time immediately follows the evening sacrifice” it probably means Gabriel reached him. Interestingly, the Hebrew supports the reading “in extreme weariness” but should probably be understood “in swift flight.” Although angels are often artistically represented as winged beings this doesn’t always have to be the case but rather appear in human form as a “man” (v.21). Just in case no one ever noticed…men don’t have wings.

Gabriel “instructed” Daniel (v.22) and said that he had come “to give insight” and understanding concerning his request. “Insight” and “understanding” are pretty much the same in this context. Daniel’s prayer, humble spirit, and faith touched the heart of God.  This sends a good example to us as believers to follow. It also seems to indicate that Gabriel came in person.

Daniel had been heard by God, and one of God’s greatest angels, Gabriel the “mighty one of God” came with an answer because Daniel was “highly esteemed or described as something or someone desired or considered precious.

Meat of the Vision (9:24–27)

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One,[d] the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:24-27

This could quite possibly be the most confusing and controversial passage of the Bible. Although there are many variations, these four views are representative of the majority of views today.

View One

They are literal years extending through the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to this view, the “sevens” or “weeks” are made up of seven years each, resulting in a total period of 490 years (seventy times seven). The “decree” of v. 25 must then indicate to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the seventy years of captivity in Jeremiah 25:1, 11 that was delivered in 605 B.C. It appears that those who hold this view inconsistently hold that the “sevens” commence in 586 B.C., the date of Jerusalem’s fall in order to make the timetable work correctly. The termination of the sevens is understood to be the end of Antiochus’s persecution which was either the cleansing of the temple in 164 B.C. or Antiochus’s death in 163 B.C. At that ttime the kingdom of God supposedly would come upon the earth, an event that obviously did not take place as anyone can clearly see. The calculated period of time it is far too short (about 65 years) out of 490 years. Therefore adherents of this view demand a chronological “miscalculation on the part of the writer.” For me this is patently absurd as Scripture is inerrant. NEXT!

View Two

The “seventy sevens” are symbolic periods of time ending in the first century A.D. It is said that the first period of seven sevens extends from Cyrus’s decree allowing the return of the Jewish exiles in 538 B.C. to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, approximately 440–400 B.C. The next sixty-two sevens stretch from about 400 B.C. until the first advent of Christ; the last seven continues from the first advent until an unspecified point sometime after Christ’s earthly ministry but before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A slight variation on this approach by some takes basically the same approach, but he begins the weeks with the decree of Artaxerxes I in 457.

Third View

They are symbolic periods of time ending at Christ’s second coming. Many adopt this symbolic view. The seventy sevens are a prophecy of church history both the Old Testament and the New Testament church from Cyrus’s decree in 538 B.C. until the return of Christ at the end of the age. According to this interpretation, the first seven sevens extend from Cyrus’s decree in 538 B.C. until the coming of Christ in the first century A.D., a period of about 550 years. The next sixty-two sevens span the time from Christ to the persecution of the church by the Antichrist at the end of the age. During this time (at least two thousand years…duhhhh), the city (spiritual Jerusalem or the church) will be built even “in times of trouble.” A major issue with this interpretation is that the best understanding of the text indicates that sixty-nine sevens, not seven sevens, will pass between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of the Anointed One. Therefore the events in vv. 26 and 27 occur in the last seven. “The Anointed One will be cut off and have nothing” does not mean that the Messiah will be put to death but speaks of the attack upon Christ and his church at the end when Christ will have “lost His place and function as the Messiah”. In other words, as far as the world is concerned, Messiah shall be a “non” issue. The “ruler” is obviously the Antichrist, who will destroy the city, the sanctuary and stop all organized religion. This to me is frightening as this is exactly what we see happening in governments worldwide to some extent. Out outward manifestations and visual aspects of the church and meaningful worship will be quashed. These oppressive and horrendous conditions will continue until God’s wrath and judgment nails the Antichrist at the coming of the Lord. Some complaints about this view is that it is extremely subjective and varies greatly from other interpretations. A rather large and obvious incongruity is the literal interpretation of the building of the city as it relates to Cyrus’s decree but a figurative the building of the city as the church or a spiritual Jerusalem…within the same verse (v.25). Another hard to believe idea is that Christ and his church will be defeated during the last days.

Another version of this same symbolic view understands the seventy sevens to be symbolic periods that extend from Cyrus’s decree to the second coming of Christ. The sixty-nine sevens conclude with the first coming of Christ but the final seven extends from the first century until the end, which results in one seven lasting up to two thousand years, rendering the sevens even more disproportionate than other interpretations. Of the symbolic interpretations this seems te most consistent since the first sixty-nine sevens appear clearly to conclude during Christ’s first advent and the final seven is terminated by his second advent.

Fourth View

The last view holds that these are literal years ending with Christ’s second coming. This view agrees with the first that the sevens are literal seven-year periods totaling 490 years. The first seven sevens (or forty-nine years) commence with a command to rebuild Jerusalem which was either the decree to Ezra in 458 B.C. or the decree to Nehemiah in 445 B.C. and conclude with the completion of the work of Ezra & Nehemiah about forty-nine years later (409 B.C./396B.C.).

The next sixty-two sevens (434 years) extend from the end of the first group of sevens to Christ’s first coming which could either be his baptism in A.D. 26 or Christ’s presentation of himself to the people as Messiah on Palm Sunday in A.D. 32/33). After the coming of the Messiah, he was rejected by Israel; and the time of the Gentiles began, which is not counted in the “seventy sevens.” Just as God focused his attention on the Jewish people for about two thousand years, these past two thousand years his attention has been focused on the Gentiles. However, just as many Gentiles were saved during the Old Testament period, in this present age there are many Jewish believers. At the end of the present age, God will again deal with Israel in a special manner, and the final seven will begin. During the last seven, which immediately precedes Christ’s second coming, there will be a horrendous time of the Great Tribulation for Israel and the world. God will use this trial to bring Israel and countless others to saving faith. IF Israel hadn’t converted after all they had gone through in the past the Tribulation is going to be beyond comprehension in its magnitude. Think Holocaust (x100). At that time the majority of the people in Israel will acknowledge Jesus as the promised Messiah, repent, and be saved as based in Rom 11:25–29; Zechariah 12:10–13:1. The question remains in my mind, who is Israel in this? The final seven (seven years) will be terminated by Christ’s second coming and the establishment of his earthly kingdom, which will last a thousand years. Christ’s reign will, of course, continue beyond the millennium into the eternal state.

Well, there they are…take your pick. Regardless of which one you pick please keep one thing in mind. This is all about Jesus Christ and God's Sovereignty. Everything else pales by comparison in terms of importance. If you are trying to predict the future with this information...your truly a dope. You have therefore totally missed the point of the last twenty or so posts...and that my friend is the most polite way I could say that.

In The End

In the end we must keep in mind that there are things to be accomplished according to God's plan. When they happen is as important as the fact that He has assured us they will. He is Sovereign. He is in control. What can we expect with certainty?

The best description of the coming "end" is at the beginning of the vision:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place." ~Daniel 9:24

The a fitting conclusion to the angelic revelation, even though it comes at the beginning. God’s purpose in the events of the “seventy sevens” is the subject of the verse and six crucial goals are articulated. These six goals will not all be fulfilled until the arrival of the future Kingdom of God.
  1. “To finish transgression” is the first named achievement.
  2. “To put an end to sin” or “be complete, come to an end" or to “seal, affix a seal, seal up. 
  3. "To atone for wickedness" is the third accomplishment.
  4. “To bring in everlasting righteousness” signifies that at the end of the seventy sevens an era of righteousness will pervade the earth, which will continue for eternity. 

  5. “To seal up vision and prophecy” may be interpreted in two ways.
  6. “To anoint the most holy” may denote either the anointing of a holy person or a holy place.
So...tell me something.

Has this happened yet? Fully? Partially? literally? Figuratively? Is it worth arguing over? Are you sure?

February 21, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXII: Suffering & The Unity/Consistency of Daniel

Chapter 8: Helping The Faithful Wrestle With Why The Innocent Must Suffer

There is the theme or idea that sin must run its course before it is punished. It is a reoccurring theme throughout Scripture and starts as early as Genesis 15:16 and God’s delayed action against the Amorite until is plainly obvious to all that they are in need of and deserve punishment.

Judgment is therefore delayed until the exact proper time as deemed by God so that when it is passed, that it is justly administered. The theme is also developed in Jewish thought (and subsequently Christian) that the delay is seen as evidence of God's mercy, giving sinful people plenty of time to repent even the most wicked. This point seems to be missed totally by the modern culture that ridicules the Jewish and Christian God of the Old Testament for being “mean”, “angry” or even “murderous”.

So what of the innocent suffering at the hands of the evil and malicious while God is patient with the evil ones? My reply to this (Andy) is this. Are innocent people really that innocent and good when we are all guilty of sin and fall short of the glory of God? Israel’s sufferings are a just result of disloyalty to the covenant with God which is part of the main crux of the theology of Daniel.

Of course the author by no means uses this to justify the problem of the suffering but it is interesting that this particular instance in Daniel combines the viable ideas of God's justice, mercy and loving discipline of his people. It is clearly found to be meaningful as a source of hope, comfort and strength to persevere during the dark times of Antiochus’ merciless persecution and that of the inevitable coming of Antichrist of which Antiochus was a prototype.

As we have already done multiple times in the book of Daniel we revisit the idea that there is assurance that God is sovereign and is ultimately in control and will do what is right at the right time.

A Shift of Tone in Chapters 9 and 10-12?

These chapters are Epiphany Visions. The Epiphany Visions are to be viewed distinctly from the Symbolic Visions of chapters 7-8. There are supplications or prayers in the latter with the only differences between 9, 10-12 being the duration of lengths. Chapter 9’s is long the others are shorter. Also, according to the Introduction, these latter portions contain no interpretation. They are presented in a detailed survey of future history presented in shorter enigmatic phrases. They are mainly concerned with the past as means of exposing sin and readiness for judgment (of Israel and Judah or anyone that has acted like they did being unfaithful to covenant with God.

Unity & Consistency of Daniel

It is agreed by most all scholars that the change in the character of the Hebrew that occurs in this prayer is the result of traditional liturgical phrases/wordage that is concurrent to the times and geography that can be expected of late exile to return from exile Jews that had been in Babylonian captivity. It is wordage or phrase that is closely parallel to Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 1:9 who would’ve been of the post exile period. If they are nearly parallel of similar it stands to reason that they were written around the same time by people under the same cultural influences and having been effected by the same types of situations.

Additionally the context doesn’t require a prayer for illumination or understanding. So Daniel’s actions are apropos for one who has received a vision that he has understood and seeks to repent or act in penitence (v.3). A prayer of penitence that is keeping in parallel with the same types found in Ezra in Nehemiah

The main argument for the unity of authorship of the chapter is that there are in fact close links between the prayer itself and its context. To begin with, it is not the case that the divine name is confined to the prayer. It is used in v. 2. Its use here cannot be explained as part of the allusion to the text of Jeremiah, and so a 'quotation' from it. It is the very feature of the entire book of Daniel that the way God is referred to is appropriate to the context.

When pagan kings are addressed, or speak of the God of the Jews, ways of referring to God are used which do not include specifically Jewish modes of speech therefore Daniel is literally documenting what happened as having been there as an eyewitness to it occurrence at the time of writing. When Daniel uses Hebraic phraseology it is unique to, and consistent with the time period and culture a Jewish exile would’ve been exposed to in a linear manner or in the course of every day life.

Every day life in the 6th century B.C. as a Jew in exile in Babylonian captivity.

February 20, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXI: The Ram, The Goat & Another Little Horn-Part II

Tetradrachm of Aniochus IV Epiphanes
(Reverse: Basileus Antiochus-"God Manifest, Bearer of Victory")
[a.k.a.: Epimanes "The Mad One"]

Daniel 8:2 says, “In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam”. It may be that Daniel was present physically in that city when he received the vision. It is more probable that he was in Susa only in vision. Ezekiel appears to have had similar visionary experiences in which he was physically present in one place and was transported in the spirit to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 8–11). According to Scripture, both Esther and Nehemiah lived in Susa, and Daniel probably had visited the city on official business.

The Ram

So Daniel has the vision of the ram in verse 3–4. Verse 20 goes on later to clearly state that the angel Gabriel interpreted the ram with the two horns as the Medo-Persian Empire. Scripture interprets Scripture for us here. Ancient documents claim that the Persian ruler carried the gold head of a ram when he marched before his army – thus a ram is most fitting as a symbol of this empire. This ram had odd horns. One horn came up later yet grew longer than the other. To me this symbolism shows a two-fold division of the empire, and signifies that one part of this empire would begin with less strength yet subsequently become more powerful than the other division. Historically this was exactly what happened to the Medo-Persian Empire. As with many empires, the ram seems invincible as it charged toward the west “toward the sea” [Mediterranean Sea] , the north, and the south. Verse 4”… No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.” All this allowed by a Sovereign God.

The Goat

As Daniel is thinking about this Gabriel again interprets the vision for Daniel. In v. 21 the goat is specifically identified as a symbol of the Greek Empire and, “the large horn between its eyes is the first king” which is a fair obvious allusion to Alexander the Great in historical hindsight. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation after Alexander’s death, “but will not have the same power.”

I believe the rest of the symbolic language is nearly self-explanatory. “Crossing the whole earth without touching the ground” refers to the absolute domination militarily of the entire known world of his day with immense speed (to appear as if the goat was flying). The other indication is the association in Chapter 7 or Greece being symbolized by a leopard. I will not go over Alexander’s history but it is available in many sources. It would suffice to say this was symbolic of him and his empire. Within three years Alexander had conquered the entire Near East up to India.

At the peak of power at age 32 he died of a fever. Alexander’s two sons were murdered leaving no heirs. After a ton of infighting the empire was sectioned into four pieces with four Greek military leaders or the “four prominent horns”. The four-way division is almost certainly this reference mentioned in Daniel. In Daniel 7 the leopard even had four heads.

The Vision of The Other Little Horn (8:9-14)

Out of one of the four horns grew another little horn that “started small” but became very large and powerful. A king distinguished by his difference from others that had come before him would arise out of one of the divisions of the Greek empire. What distinguished him was the fact that he was horribly evil and demonic and specifically singled out God's people for harm and God's mandates as a target of destruction.

Enter...Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–163 B.C.) the brutal inhuman tyrant.

The "Little Horn" in chap. 8 needs to be distinguished from the one that will arise in 7 which symbolizes a ruler who will come from the fourth beast, Rome, and will be living in the last days when the “son of man” appears. Chapter 8's little horn in will be from Greek Empire and proceeds from one of four horns, not ten horns (a la Ch 7). The chapter 8 monster will be a prototype Antichrist. Just like the one we will read of at the End of Time. Both find their source of evil and demonic activity in Satanic origin. I believe Antiochus IV Epiphanes actions Israel are the whole point of chapter 8's vision and become obvious upon introduction of this evil character and even a precursory review of Antiochus' atrocities in history. Scripture tells us this king will become so arrogant that he is willing to assert himself against the saints of God and even against God himself...claiming deity. One needs only look at the coin attached to this post to see this happened with Antiochus. He "trampled upon" the "starry host" seems to imply he we subjugate and persecute the Jews.

During his evil tyrannical reign he executed thousands of Jews who resisted his unfair regulations. In 169 B.C., Antiochus was humiliated after a militarily defeat in Egypt after which he back-lashed in rage and plundered the temple in Jerusalem (taking its treasures, including the furniture that was adorned with precious metals) and murdered people in the process of doing so. These murders include eighty thousand men, women, boys, girls, even infants by Antiochus’s soldiers during this attack. Many of these events are documented in 1 & 2 Maccabees of the Apocrypha. Although these are not Scripture they have been found to be reliable histories/historical documents. In 167 B.C. Antiochus appears to have committed the ultimate sacrilege against the Jews and God by erecting an altar to Zeus in the temple precincts and offering pigs on it (1 Maccabees 1:37, 39, 44–47, 54, 59; 2 Maccabees 6:2–5). He felt that he and his Greek gods were above Yahweh, and he blatantly attacked Yahweh and his worshipers. Antiochus forbid the Jews from following the Law (diet, circumcision, Sabbaths, and feasts); he desecrated Yahweh’s temple, etc. His offenses were not only against the Jews but against God...“the Prince of the host.” Because of the Jews sins this would have brought about God’s chastening in order to purify the nation. Hence the Jewish people “host of the saints” were “given over” to Antiochus (Little Horn). Antiochus ended the daily sacrifice. This nut-job threw “truth to the ground” (Ezek 19:12) by quelling the true teachings and attempting to destroy the Hebrew Scriptures. According to the Maccabees, “The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of anyone, by decree of Antiochus, they were condemned to death.

Antiochus, satanically inspired, was trying his darnedest to rid the world of the Word of God as all satanically inspired tyrants have attempted to do throughout history. Ironically though, the one who tries to successfully destroy the truth of God finds that he only succeeds in destroying himself.

Daniel then heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation (abomination of desolation), the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the LORD’s people?” “The rebellion that causes desolation” most likely was the erecting of Zeus' statue (or altar).

The answer Daniel was told is that the desolation would last “2,300 evenings and mornings. This then results in a time period understood as a little more than three years. At the end of 167 B.C. Antiochus set up an altar (and possibly a statue) to Zeus in the temple. At nearly the same time of year three years later Judas Maccabeus rededicated the temple in 164 B.C. (1 Maccabees 4:52).

The Interpretation of The Vision (8:15–26)

While Daniel was gazing at the vision, “trying to understand it,” suddenly he was confronted by one who had the appearance of “a man” and he began to explain the vision, which would have reassured Daniel that he had no reason to be alarmed.

“Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his[b] nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” Daniel 8:19-26

The "time of the end” should probably be taken to mean the end of the events prophesied in this chapter. Antiochus IV is certainly in view here. Even if some see a double fulfillment here in both Antiochus and Antichrist these people will have trouble reconciling that the Antichrist comes from a Roman Empire and Antiochus from Greece. Oops! It is my guess that Antiochus is an Old Testament typological Antichrist, not the one mentioned for the End of Time.

Antiochus was a proud, self-exalting ruler; in his own opinion he was great. Archer recounts that Antiochus’s coins were inscribed “theos epiphanies” (“God manifest in the illustrious one”). He did not literally attribute deity to himself (he was devoted to the Greek gods) but did understand himself to be the earthly representative of deity. Antiochus’ deceit will cause people to feel secure (bĕšalwâ) may be literally rendered either “in ease” or “in quietness.” Antiochus then attacked the people and destroyed “many” of them when the people were at “ease” because they felt “secure.”

This twisted individual was indeed a prototype of the End Times Antichrist.Daniel therefore was being instructed to take measures to ensure that the vision’s contents would be available for generations in the “distant future.” Antiochus IV lived almost four hundred years after Daniel. The message of Dan 8 concerns a distant time and place, but it illustrates pertinent truths for today but it is improbable that is was referring to the End of Days. There are still things that can be learned here.

From a theological standpoint God is sovereign and He knows and can control the future. Believers are also warned that at times they may be called upon to endure suffering and they are also told to remain faithful. By looking at the ancient madman king Antiochus we as believers today gain instruction concerning the character and career of another distant future madman controlled by Satan called Antichrist. Both start small and grow to dominate. In other words they we initially seem insignificant. They will blaspheme god. They will both be brought down by divine intervention, NOT MAN! Antiochus and Antichrist are brilliantly deceptive men with great power in the end that will attempt to destroy the people (saints) of God. Both will rule for a short time but it will be a brutal reign for the faithful of God because they will resist them.

Be Warned! At the heart of both of these hellspawn is the impetus of the Devil.
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