LESSON THREE * PART 4
DANIEL'S 490 YEARS
Let's just come right back to where we left off, Matthew 24. We've been talking about Daniel's prophecy of 490 years. 483 were fulfilled at the time of Christ's first coming. His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. But before all that transpired, none of the Old Testament Scriptures gave any indication that the whole prophetic program would not be fulfilled, one thing right after the other. But it would be interrupted or postponed, or whatever word you want to use.
Now as you come into Matthew 24, I'd like to have you pick it apart. I would like you to find even a hint from Jesus that there's going to be a Church Age. You can't find it. I've tried. I've been looking at it for many, many years. There is not even a hint anywhere in the Gospels that there's going to be 1,900 plus years that God is going to be calling out Gentiles into what we call, the Body of Christ. It's just never alluded to. Everything is always resting on this Old Testament prophetic program that we have been studying. Now then, Matthew 24, in that same light then, Jesus is sitting upon the Mount of Olives, when the disciples (the twelve) came to him:
"And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, `Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming (in other words, the setting up of your kingdom); and the end of the world (as we know it)?' And Jesus answered and said unto them, `Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ;...'"
Or "I am the Messiah." Now stop a minute. Are we already seeing that? Sure we are. But to no extent that it will after that seven years has begun. And remember that just as soon as the Anti-christ signs that seven-year treaty with the nation of Israel, this seven-year Tribulation period is going to tick off, month by month, and day by day. And it will end exactly at the end of the seven years. Now someone asked the question at break, "Well, what will the Anti-christ offer the nation of Israel, that they will sign the seven-year treaty?" Well, what is Israel most hungry for tonight? Peace. They want peace with their neighbors. They want to be accepted into the family of nations of the world. And they have to maintain their defense structure. They have to keep their people taxed to death just to keep their enemies at bay. So if this man comes in, and I think he'll come out of the European Community with the power of N.A.T.O. behind him. And I think he'll come in and offer the nation of Israel absolute protection and a sovereignty that no one can approach. He'll say, "I guarantee your borders. You can dismantle you armed forces. I'll protect you." And Israel is going to fall for that, hook, line and sinker. And on top of that, he's going to give them permission to have their Temple worship. And he's going to guarantee them freedom in that.
And so they're going to have no qualms about signing this seven-year treaty. Because like I said a few lessons ago, they'll almost think he's the Christ, if they don't indeed. But as we see Jesus unfold the events of the Tribulation, remember this: even though we are seeing the beginnings of it; we are seeing the great increase in earthquakes; we're already seeing the potential of famine; and we are seeing famine in some places. Yet it's nothing compared to what it will be when these seven years begin to unfold. So he says:
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."
Now it's amazing. I feel sorry for the world political leaders. They actually thought that once Russian communism fell apart, that peace was in our hands. There was no more fear of nuclear holocaust. And what have we got? We have more turmoil now, than when the Russian Bear was alive and well. When they begin looking at the problems that are facing our government overseas, it's mind boggling. And so it's going to be an explosion of discontent. There's going to be an explosion of ethnic violence. Hatred that has been lying dormant for years. Kept under the thumb, maybe of totalitarian governments, such as communism was. But look at the dismantled nation of Russia, tonight. Look at all those ethnic groups, as they're coming to light. They hate one another. So this isn't hard to believe. Even though the Anti-christ is going to guarantee peace for Israel, the world all around them is going to be under constant conflict of wars and then verse 7:
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences,..."
And I honestly believe that AIDS is the beginning of it. I don't think that they're going to find a cure for it. I think that AIDS is just going to keep everyone's attention. But I don't think it's going to really explode, until they get into the Tribulation, because we are not going to be here! But I think AIDS is just going to explode when the Tribulation begins. And that's only speculation. I can't prove it, other than that there will be a pestilence of some sort. Earthquakes, not in the generally expected places, but where? In diverse places. In other words, where they're not normally accustomed to being. And we're already seeing that. You read the paper as much as I do. The tremendous increase in earthquakes around the planet since 1970. I think it's increased, the last I read, 2,200 percent, compared to just 20 years ago. But we're still not there. But as soon as this seven years begin, then this all begins to crescendo. And here Jesus sort of puts the frosting on the cake:
"All these are the (what?) beginning of sorrows."
I imagine the word "sorrows" is translated a little differently in the newer translations. But I'm betting that some of them use the word, "travail." The better translation of this word, "sorrows" is"travail," because the analogy Jesus uses is the birth pains of a mother approaching delivery. The earth is being prepared for a delivery. So this is why the term is used. This is all the beginning of travail. All of you who have been involved in childbirth, either as mothers in the core of it all, or as fathers as onlookers, know that our wives and our moms, when those first signs of approaching birth occur, were not having severe pains. They were uncomfortable, but they weren't all that severe. I'll never forget when our little ones were expected, Iris would say, "Well, I'm beginning to feel it."And then a few hours later, here would come another pang and she, being a nurse, would know exactly when to go. So I never had to sit in the hospital and wait very long. But nevertheless, when you approach delivery, we all know that the birth pains increase in intensity and in their frequency.
So as you come through this seven years, this is exactly what Jesus likens it to. That the events of this wrath and vexation are going to be relatively light, and maybe far apart. But as you move on through that seven years, they're going to increase in their intensity. So that by the time you get out toward the end, it's just going to be unbelievable! And that's why the last three and a half years, Jesus will refer to as the time of great Tribulation. Because it's approaching the delivery. Now then, why did He use the analogy of a delivery? Because the world, the earth, is going to be delivered from the curse. That's the whole idea of this seven years of Tribulation. Satan is going to be paid off. Do you remember several weeks ago when we talked about the scroll in Revelation Chapter 5? The whole picture of Scripture is that Satan is holding the mortgage of the planet. He's the god of this world tonight.
The curse has been plaguing us since Genesis Chapter 3. But the Tribulation is going to pay off that mortgage. The result of that Tribulation will be the delivery of the planet from the curse. And then you have the Kingdom come in, and you'll have it revert back like it was in the Garden of Eden. Do you see that? So the earth has to go through its pangs of delivery. Now verse 9. Remember that He's talking to the twelve, so He is directing most of this primarily to the nation of Israel. And He says to the Jew, in so many words:
"Then shall they (that is, the powers that be. The rest of the world) deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."
Now a lot of people have asked me, "Why have the Jews been so persecuted? Why have they been so hated?" Even today, when the United Nations brings up a resolution concerning Israel, what's the vote? Several hundred to one or maybe two. The whole world just jumps on them. As soon as anything happens in Israel, it's front page news. Yet, that same thing could happen anywhere else in the world and the media doesn't even pay attention. Why? It isn't because of who Israel, is or what Israel is, except that they are God's Covenant people. And Satan knows that. And he attacks them constantly, because of their position in God's overall program. That's why the Jew is so hated. That's why he's so persecuted, because way back there in Genesis, what did God promise Abraham? A nation of people in a geographical area in which He would be their King.
Now here comes the very crescendo that the world's hated in this seven years. Keep your hand in Matthew. Let me take you back to Jeremiah Chapter 30. Because I say that the Tribulation is primarily, but not exclusively, the time that God is going to be pouring out His wrath and vexation on His Covenant people. Why? Because of their rebellion. Because of their unbelief. Because of everything that they have done contrary to God's word, and God's will. And He is going to purify them in order to prepare them for the Kingdom which is just around the corner. Alright, verse 6, to pick up a little more of the flow.
"Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness (why? For fear. For pressure. The tortures)? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of (who's trouble?) Jacob's trouble (see that? It is the time of Jacob's trouble); but he shall be saved out of it."
Now, on your way to the New Testament, stop at Zachariah again. That's that next to the last book in the Old Testament. Zachariah Chapter 13 and verse 8 and 9:
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land (that is, the land of Israel), saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein (there's your remnant aspect that is taught all through Scripture). And I will bring the third part through the fire (what fire? The fire of Tribulation. Testing, see), and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they (what will be the result?) shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is (remember back in Daniel, He called them "Thy people" because He didn't own them. But here He says, what?) my people:..."
Do you see the difference? Now they are responding in belief and He can call them once again, "They are my people." Come back to Matthew 24, and let's find the place where you can see that even Jesus said it's going to be the worst time in all human history. And it's still ahead of us. Matthew 24. Now verse 10:
In other words, during this seven years (we're still in the first 3 1/2 until we get to verse fifteen). So in that opening 3 1/2 years, they've got their Temple worship, and the Anti-christ has guaranteed them freedom of worship. Protecting their border, he thinks. We may see in our next taping that he doesn't succeed.
"...shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another."
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many (who is at the head of all false prophets? Satan. So it's going to be a time of tremendous Satanic influence). And because iniquity (immorality, gross murders and all that destroys a society.) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (we have to be careful with verse 13), But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
That's not salvation we're talking about. We're talking about physical survival. We're not talking about saved from Hell, or saved for Heaven. He's talking about these that will survive these awful events of the Tribulation. And they shall be saved. Keep your hand in Matthew 24. We'll come right back. Now let's go to Isaiah 24, verses 5 and 6:
"The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate (because of all the things that are happening to the planet): therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned (and I have to feel that it's probably going to be a nuclear holocaust in those closing days of the Tribulation), and (what's left?) few men left."
There are going to be survivors. Not many, but there are going to be survivors of that seven years of holocaust. Alright, come back with me to Matthew 24 verse 14. Jesus, remember, is speaking. There hasn't been one word yet understood, except by Himself, about the death, burial and resurrection. Even the twelve have no comprehension that He's going to die on a Cross. So be careful how you take that next verse because everybody that I've heard preach on it has totally taken it out of its context and twisted it all out of shape. And look what it says in light of what I have just said. Jesus has alone revealed that He would go to the Cross. No one understands that. And yet they've been preaching a Gospel for three years. Now look what He says in verse 14:
"And this gospel of the kingdom..."
This Gospel of the Kingdom. Not the Gospel of Grace. We preach today the Gospel of Grace that you must believe for your salvation, that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead. Jesus Himself revealed that to the Apostle Paul, and Paul alone, in I Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 10:9-10 and many other places in Paul's writing. But Jesus and the twelve preached the Gospel of the Kingdom which is believing for salvation that Jesus was the Messiah, repentance and baptism. This is found in Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 16:16, Acts 2:38 and many other Scriptures in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts through at least Chapter 15. So this gospel of the Kingdom:
"...shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Isn't that plain? But you have to know which Gospel. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:7-9 that there were two Gospels, one that he (Paul) preached to the Gentiles (uncircumcision) by revelation from Jesus Christ. And the other that John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and the 12 preached to the Jews or Nation of Israel (circumcision). So as you study, notice who is speaking and who is being spoken to.
Come back for a few pages in Matthew to Chapter 9. Now in just a few lessons, we're going to be coming into Matthew and we're going to study it verse by verse, and chapter by chapter. But until then, just take one look here quickly in Matthew Chapter 9 verse 35. And you have to believe The Book, not me:
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom..."
Now the Gospel always meant good news. So what was the good news of the Kingdom? Well, what did John the Baptist always begin with? "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That was the good news. The King is here and he's ready to set up the kingdom. Now in association with the Gospel of the Kingdom, look what also what went with it:
"...healing every sickness and every disease among the people."
The two went hand in hand. You take away healing, and you take away the Gospel of the Kingdom. You take away the Gospel of the Kingdom and you take away healing and miracles and so forth. Because the two are synonymous. That's why Jesus performed all those miracles, because He was announcing the Kingdom was at hand. So now let's come back to Matthew 24:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come."
Now let's come back to our timeline, when the Gospel of Grace is ended and the Body of Christ has to be taken out. The parenthesis has now been closed, even though it has been an undetermined amount of time. When it is ended, the Church has to be taken out, because this is the time of Jacob's trouble. I told someone the other night, I could stand here and teach you for an hour of all the scriptural proofs that you and I, and all the other believers, will not go into the Tribulation. The number one reason is that you cannot mix God's dealing with the nation of Israel, on Covenant ground, with the Church. Law and Grace simply will not mix. And you cannot take the Church into Covenant ground. You are going violently against the Scriptures when you do. So in order for God to come back and deal with Israel during the time of Jacob's trouble. Still on the basis of Old Testament Covenant, the Church has to be out of the way. I can show you, like I said. I could give you verses for the next hour, but let's go on. Verse 15, Jesus approaches the midpoint of the Tribulation. Look what He says:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel..."
And that's why I spent so much time in Daniel Chapter 9. Do you remember what he said back there in verse 27? That the prince (Anti-christ) is going to make that seven-year treaty. And in the middle of the seven years, he's going to cause the sacrifice and the oblation to stop, and for the abomination defiling it. Now look what Jesus says. He puts his stamp of approval on that prophecy. And He says:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place,..."
I think Anti-christ going to come from his position in Western Europe, Rome or Brussels, or wherever it is. And he's going to come down to Jerusalem and go into the Temple that has been rebuilt, and has been used for the past 3 1/2 years or at least part of that time. And he's going to suddenly turn on the Jew. He's going to defile the Temple, probably by offering a hog, even as Antiochus did back in 300 B.C. And that's the abomination that Daniel spoke of, and that's what Jesus is speaking of. Now Jesus says, "When you see this happen," and He's talking to the twelve. So what do you think the twelve thought in their own minds? That this was going to happen in their lifetime. They had no idea that it was going to be postponed and put way out into the future. But it's still going to happen. So what we have to feel now is that, when He spoke to the twelve, He was leaping the ages, but He was still speaking to the Nation of Israel and not to the Gentile nations. This is Israel's ground. This is Jewish ground. So He says, "When you see that:"
"...spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand:),"
Now come on down to verse 21. Jesus is unveiling this last 3 1/2 years of Daniel's 70th week.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
Do you see what He's saying? Any horrible event that you can think of in history is nothing compared to what this last 3 1/2 years is going to be. The holocaust of Hitler's Germany is awful, but it's going to be nothing compared to this last three and a half years.