LESSON THREE * PART 2
DANIEL'S 490 YEARS
Now we will go right back to Daniel Chapter 9 and pick up again where we left off last lesson. Let's pick up that last period of time. We told you last lesson that the 490 years prophesied for Israel was divided into 3 segments. We covered the first 49 years as being that time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall. And then the 434 years that went from the dedication of the Temple until the crucifixion of Christ. But we still have 7 years left. Now remember all the reference to this prophetic program makes it sound like all of this 490 years will flow right to the end, with no interruptions, and then the earthly Kingdom would be set up.
In one of the last Jerusalem Post articles written by one of the head Rabbi's in Israel, the headline read, "Is the end really near?" Even in Israel they realize that it is time for their Messiah. Of course they won't recognize that He is coming the second time. So this whole article was with regard to what is happening around the world, but especially in Israel. The rabbi recognizes from these same Old Testament Scriptures that when the Messiah comes, whether he is man or God, he wasn't all that sure on that. But he went on to say "that this Messiah will bring about peace on earth through the Nation of Israel." I have been stressing that God hadn't given up on the Gentiles, but would bring them to Himself through the Nation of Israel after the Kingdom was set up.
Now that is the Old Testament. And the Old Testament speaks only of that progressing of events. We will see of course that when Israel rejected it, early in the Book of Acts, what God already had hidden in His mind, but He had never revealed it. No one, not even the twelve had any idea that the Old Testament program would have to wait almost 2000 years for those final 7 years to be completed. Now let's come in at verse 27 of Daniel Chapter 9, where this prince that shall come out of the Roman Empire who would destroy again the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. This man would come on the scene and will sign a seven-year treaty with the Nation of Israel. Now let's look at it and we will comment.
"And he (the prince that shall come) shall confirm the covenant with many (Israel) for one week (7 years): and in the midst (or middle) of the week (this is where we get the first teaching that the Tribulation is split in half. It will always be referred to as 3 1/2 years and 3 1/2 years. Or 42 months and 42 months. In another place it is 1260 days and 1260 days. But it is all a total of 7 years. So this prince in the middle of the week) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,..."
Now we need to stop right here. In order for Israel to be in the midst of sacrifices and rituals and oblation, what does she have to have? The Temple. And today she doesn't have the Temple and hasn't had one for over 1900 years. So we know from this prophecy that Israel is soon going to have her Temple. And she will reinstate Temple worship, and will be back under the Law as best she can. It certainly won't be the law as Moses and Aaron practiced it. But it will be more or less a religion as the Temple worship was at the time of Christ. It was just a form of religion. Remember Jesus went into the Temple and drove out the money changers and livestock. What had the Temple become? A place of merchandise. Profit taking. And much of that, I think is going to come back when they rebuild the Temple. It's going to be a formal religion, but it certainly will not be the pure system that Moses and Aaron instituted coming out of Egypt.
Anyway, this man Anti-christ as we know him to be, will come into the Temple there in Jerusalem at the middle of the seven years. So all I can say is sometime before that, the Temple will be rebuilt. Whether it's before the treaty is signed or whether it's sometime after the treaty is signed. Now another thing that I like to point out: there has been no indication of prophecy or time about the Age of Grace. It's what we call the calling out of the Body. The Church, however you want to put the nomenclature. Here in this parenthetical period of time, there has been no indication, prophecy-wise, as to how long. So for all these 1,900 and some years, we do not know when it will end.
All we know is that at the end of the Church Age, God is going to bring about another seven years in time. The minute Anti-christ signs that seven-year treaty with Israel, God's time clock will kick in and will go right down the line for seven years, like it always did back in the Old Testament. Now see, we're not under that kind of a time frame tonight. We don't know when the Church Age will end. We don't know when the Lord will come for the Church. All we know is that it's imminent. It could be today. It could be tonight. It could be next year. It may be a long time yet. We don't know. But as things are shaping up, we feel that it can't be much longer. Now, let's just read on and then we'll go and look at the verses in the New Testament. So when he signs that treaty, and Israel almost thinks that he's the Messiah, he's going to promise the peace and prosperity that they're looking for. He's going to give the the freedom of Temple worship. And to have the practice of it. But in the middle of that seven years, Daniel writes:
"...he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations (we are convinced he will start by offering a sow, or hog, on the altar there in Jerusalem, to defile it) he shall make it desolate (Israel will go under intense persecution. He will try to force them to worship him rather than the God of Abraham.), even until the consummation (now what does consummation mean? It is finished! And so until the end then, all the things that are determined, prophecy-wise), shall be poured out on the desolate."
Now the King James calls it the desolate, but it makes more sense to put it, "The desolator," because we know that the wrath of God is going to be poured out on this man, Anti-christ. Let's go to Matthew 24. We're going to pick up the Tribulation Chapter in our New Testament. Now the whole Book of Revelation is the road map to the Tribulation. But before we go to Revelation, it's always a good idea to stop here in Christ's earthly ministry in the Book of Matthew. And I maintain, and I don't claim to have all the answers, but I maintain that all of Matthew 24 is Tribulation ground. Everything that is spoken of in here, even though we are seeing the beginnings of it, we're seeing the stage being set: we're seeing all the props put in place: we're seeing the cast coming on the scene. But it hasn't lifted the curtain. That will come sometime later. But now in Matthew Chapter 24 verse 1:
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple." Now you want to remember the Temple was a whole complex, and the center of Israel's social fabric.
"And Jesus said unto them, `See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.'"
Here is another indication; did Jesus know the future? Absolutely. In this case He's looking down the pike forty years. Forty years from His statement is when the Roman general Titus and his armies will fulfill this. Now the disciples didn't know what He was talking about, but He did. And so now read on. Verse 3:
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately (in other words, no crowds to hinder their conversation), saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
Now remember, they understood the Old Testament format. They understood that Christ was here to be their King. Now they didn't understand the Cross. They had no idea, at this point and time, that he was going to the Cross. Now unless somebody looks at me wondering, turn with me to Luke Chapter 18. Because I constantly get the comment, "Well Les, I've never heard this before." So I have to be careful that I show where I get it. Otherwise, some might think that I'm just dreaming this at night and then just spewing it out as gospel. And I don't ever want to be accused of that.
So here is the spiritual background of that, when I say that the twelve had no idea as yet that he was going to the Cross. All they understood was that coming out of the Old Testament, the King would come. There would be the Tribulation. They knew that. But they had no idea yet, that He was going to die on a Roman Cross. But then He would set up the Kingdom and then they could go out and evangelize the Gentile world. Now to verse 31. Now this so totally shocks people so often, that I have to use it over and over to make my point. Here we are almost at the end of this three years. They're up in northern Palestine and are making their way south to Jerusalem, for the Passover, and of course, his crucifixion. So they've been with Him now for almost the full three years.
"Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, `Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets (see, He's going back to the Old Testament.) concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they (that is, the Gentiles, which of course was Rome) shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.'"
I made a comment one night and people took me wrong and laughed royally. I said, "Now that's plain English." I know that Jesus didn't speak English, so whether it was Aramaic or Greek, nevertheless, it was plain. There was no hidden interpretation here; He put it straight to them. "We're going to Jerusalem. I'm going to be tortured. I'm going to be misused. I'm going to be put to death, but on the third day I'm going to rise from the dead." Did they know what He was talking about? Read the next verse:
"And they (the twelve, and I'm going to leave Judas in here) understood none of these things (it rolled off of them like water off a duck. They never heard it. Why? Read on): and this saying was (what's the word?) hid from them,..."
You mean God actually blinded their understanding? Yes. They had no concept, whatsoever, that He would be crucified and that He would rise from the dead. And He said it so plainly and He told them more than once. But they never heard it.
"...neither knew they the things which were spoken."
Now let's go to John Chapter 20. Resurrection morning. You all know the account, how that Mary Magdalene had gone to the sepulchre early that resurrection morning. Probably before daylight, for the custom of anointing the Corpse. Now I know that I have some questions. How did she expect to have the stone rolled away and so on and so forth. But whatever, it was customary. So she goes to anoint the Body. But, she gets there and what's happened? The stone's rolled away and Christ is gone. Did she immediately say, "Well, the twelve said He'd rise from the dead?" No. She immediately went running and told Peter and John, "Oh the Lord's gone. His body isn't in the grave. Somebody has taken Him."
"...They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. "
She has no idea that He's alive. Isn't that something? And these people had been with Him constantly for three years. Now read on. Peter of course, was shocked. I think Peter was a big, old, lumbering, big footed fisherman. And I hope that when I get to glory, that he doesn't say, "Now Les, you had it all wrong." But whatever, that's the way that I have him pictured. And I think that John was like a track man. I like to picture John as fleet of foot and just a little more finer boned than Peter. And so they both take off running. And you know the account. Who gets there first? Well, John outruns him. But John's a little timid. And so he stands at the door to that sepulchre, which was a cave, you remember. And he's a little too timid to just barge right in. But huffing and puffing a few minutes later, who comes on the scene? Here comes Peter. He doesn't even slow down. He just jumps right in. And he looks the whole thing over:
"And he (John) stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple..."
John has now a little more nerve. And the two of them go in and look the situation over. And the proof is there. This is what He was wrapped in. He's out of it. That which was wrapped around the Head was folded and laid over in a corner. Read on:
"...and he saw (now what?), and believed. (but look at the next verse) For as yet they (Peter and John and everyone else with them) knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
Shocking? Yes. I think it is. In other words, when the followers of Christ saw him hanging on that Roman Cross, was there one of them that could say with victory, "Well listen, this had to happen. So let's just wait till Sunday morning." Not one of them. Remember when Jesus joined those disciples on the road back to Emmaus? What was their frame of mind? They had their chin on the ground, didn't they? "Everything that we thought was going to bless Israel is down the tubes, is all gone; is done. He's dead." See, they didn't know. And you have to constantly remind yourselves that if Israel didn't know, then nobody knew. Because God certainly didn't reveal this to the pagan Gentiles.
You have to understand that all these things that Jesus is talking about, they knew from Scripture that He would be the king. They knew that He was going to set up a Kingdom that would glorify Israel. But they had no concept of His being crucified and raised from the dead. And if they didn't know that, and let me just add one more jot to the whole tittle; they had no idea that there would be some 1,900 plus years of God going to the Gentiles, while Israel was out there in dispersion. No idea whatsoever. Oh, let me show that from Scripture. Come on over into Romans Chapter 16. Now Paul is writing to us Gentiles. He's writing to the Gentile Church at Rome. I've come to the conclusion that there are very, very few, even believers, who know this verse is in their Bible:
"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery..."
Now what's revelation? Well, just what the word means. A revealing, an unveiling. If a sculptor puts together some work of art and they're going to dedicate it some day at a public dedication, what do they do with that sculpture? They have it veiled. They have something over it. And then at the appropriate time somebody pulls it off. That's a revelation; it's an unveiling. This is exactly what Paul is talking about. That this Gospel of Paul's was a revelation of a secret. That's what the word mystery means. It comes from the Greek word, musterion, which is also translated, secret.
"...which was kept (what?) secret (how long?) since the world began,"
God is keeping something secret. And He can. He's Sovereign. Come back to Ephesians Chapter 3. And until we get this concept straight, this scripture is confusing; I know it is. And that is why I think there is so much confusion amongst all of Christendom tonight. Because people don't take the time to separate things, and they have to be separated.
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for (who?) you Gentiles (see, not for Israel, but for you Gentiles.),"
`If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (we'll comment on that somewhere down the road. And then he says:):
"How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (or the secret) [as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read (the letters of Paul), ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.]
"Which in other ages (or generations, or dispensations or administrations or whatever word you want to use.) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;" Come down to verses 7 and 8:
"Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
Among whom? The Gentiles. Now get this. All the way up from Abraham, what have I always put on the board? "Jew only, with exceptions." But predominantly Jew only. But now who is God dealing with? Gentiles.
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (or the secret), which from the beginning of the world hath been (what's the word?) hid in God,..."
See, hid in God! Turn over a couple of pages and come to Colossians Chapter 1. This isn't unique to just one little spot in Scripture. Paul makes reference to it throughout all of his writing, that this whole body of revealed truth had been hid in the mind of God. That's why Peter and John didn't understand the crucifixion. This is why Peter comes into the Book of Acts, and he knows nothing of a Gospel based on death, burial and resurrection. Why? Because it was still kept hidden in the mind of God.
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations..."