FacebookTwitterRSS FeedPinterest

By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at Life BPC 8am & 11am service, 2017-06-25

Text: Daniel 11:36-12:13 

We have been studying the fourth and final vision of Daniel which he received in 536 BC. By this time, the Jews had already been released from their Exile and 42,000 had returned to their homeland. They started to rebuild the Temple, but soon the work was stalled because of intense persecution and opposition. Daniel spent three weeks fasting and praying for this opposition to cease.

 

But God’s answer that was brought by an angel was that Israel would have to face even more intense persecution and opposition in the future. Things would get much worse before they can get better. In what became the longest and most detailed prophecy in the Bible, Daniel was told that the Persian Empire of his time would be conquered by the Greeks. He was also told that a powerful Greek king from the North would eventually persecute the Jews severely. He would stop their animal sacrifices and desecrate their Temple in Jerusalem.

 

In our last sermon two weeks ago we learned how this prophecy was fulfilled over 300 years later. In 167 BC King Antiochus IV Epiphanes vented his fury on the Jews. He stopped the Temple sacrifices and desecrated the altar by sacrificing pigs on it. He then replaced it with an idol of Zeus. This sparked off the Maccabean revolt, in which a small band of Jews successfully ended the oppression, liberated Jerusalem from the Greeks and purified the Temple in 165 BC to reinstate all the Old Testament sacrifices and offerings there. How were they able to do all this? Not by human effort alone. The secret of their amazing success was revealed to Daniel through this vision: “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)

 

This morning we will study the rest of the vision, which continues from v.36. And we will see that none of the events that are described from this point onwards were ever fulfilled by King Antiochus. The king mentioned in v.36 is someone else, someone who will be similar to Antiochus, but a lot worse than him! The setting of the vision has changed to the far distant future – future even to our time! Verse 40 tells us that this part of the vision will be fulfilled in “the time of the end.” Thus, there is a large time gap of more than 2,000 years between vv.35 and 36, which begins with the words, “And the king shall do according to his will…” What we want to know now is: Who is this future king that is mentioned in v.36?

 

We have already seen him in Daniel’s first vision – “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” (7:8) This future king had also been mentioned in Daniel’s third vision– “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…” (9:26)

 

Now do you know who he is? This king or prince that shall come, and who will wield great power and persecute the Jews in the End time is none other than the Antichrist! Here in this part of Daniel’s last vision more details are given about the intense tribulation which God’s people will face under him. From them we will learn three useful lessons on how to prepare to face tribulation in the End time.

 

1. Know God’s Prophecies about the End Time

 

God has given us many important details about the Antichrist in these prophecies. Those who attended our Church Camp two weeks ago had seen prophecies about the Antichrist in 1 Thessalonians and in the book of Revelation. He is known there as ‘the Beast’ and ‘the Man of Sin’. God evidently wants us to know details about the coming Antichrist. By knowing them we will be able to discern who he is when he appears on the world’s stage and how we should respond to him. Let us see what details are given here in Daniel’s vision.

 

Verse 36 tells us: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished…” According to 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the Antichrist will claim that he is God. He will even perform great miracles to support his claim. In Matthew 24:24 Jesus says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The source of his power is revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 – “…even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders....” This warning should be clear to us: Don’t be deceived!

 

Perhaps he may use this power to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems that leaders are grappling with today – weak economies may be transformed into thriving ones. Terrorist attacks may be stopped miraculously. Perhaps computer viruses may be ingeniously destroyed never to trouble anyone again, or the drug trafficking problem may be totally eliminated without killing anyone. We do not know the exact nature of his signs and wonders, but this one thing we know: The world will go after him, and be most ready to worship him. He will become more popular than any celebrity, as people everywhere will praise him saying, “Who is like unto the Beast? Who can win against him?” (Revelation 13:3)

 

Many would like to know about his nationality. Where will the Antichrist come from? We had seen in chapter 7 that the little horn arose from the fourth beast, which represents the Roman Empire. And so the Antichrist is likely to come from Europe or from some Western power.

 

According to v.38 he will honour the “god of forces”. This possibly means that the Antichrist will invest heavily in military might with the latest ‘state of the art’ defence technology. He may amass the largest collection of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, including nuclear warheads, chemical and biological weapons. With all that he will be able to defeat anyone who opposes him.

 

Here then is a possible scenario of what will happen: According to v.40 “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him.” This may perhaps not be a direct attack against the Antichrist, but against Israel. You may remember that at the beginning of the 70th week he will make a covenant of peace with Israel, giving the Jews the right to resume all their OT sacrifices under his protection. This would mean that he is now obliged to defend Israel against any attempt to stop these sacrifices forcefully. Thus when Egypt (the king of the south) launches an attack against Israel, the Antichrist will give an overwhelming response by mobilising his vast military forces against it, as the rest of v.40 says, “…and the king of the north [which is the Antichrist] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”

 

By defeating the king of the south the Antichrist will be repeating what Antiochus who was the king of the north had done to Ptolemy, the king of the south, way back in the second century BC. But this time, the king of the south may not be Egypt alone, but a block of rich Arab nations that are allied with Egypt. Through this war he will eventually plunder all their wealth, as verse 43 says: “But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.”

 

But his ultimate objective is to gain control over Israel. And so, towards the middle of the 70th week he will turn against Israel. This is mentioned in v.41 – “He shall enter also into the glorious land and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.” The three places mentioned here – Edom, Moab and Ammon – make up the present day Kingdom of Jordan. The people of Jordan will not be affected by his military campaigns. Perhaps this is because they will work in close collaboration with the Antichrist against Israel.

 

But when he is in Egypt, the Antichrist will receive disturbing tidings from the east and north. We see this in vv.44,45 – “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain…” Since Israel is located northeast of Egypt, this may be news of an attempted revolt by a group of Israelis, similar to the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus. After crushing this revolt, the Antichrist will have achieved his objective of gaining full control over Israel. And so he will now establish his headquarters at Jerusalem which is referred to in verse 45 as “the glorious holy mountain.”

 

This will begin the time of the Great Tribulation for the Jews, surpassing any oppression and brutality that they had ever experienced before. The Holocaust will pale in comparison to it, as Daniel 12:1 says – “…and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time…”

 

This will probably be the time when the Antichrist will break his covenant and cause the temple sacrifices to cease and set up the abomination of desolation in the Temple – which is his own image (Revelation 13:14,15). The whole world will not dare to oppose him because it is under his power – no one will be able to buy or sell without bearing his mark on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16,17). In fact they may fully support him and worship him because he is able to solve all its economic and social problems.

 

The fast-changing events that are taking place in our interconnected world today show us that all these things may happen within our life time. In the light of these prophecies it would be wise for us to be well prepared to face persecution. How can we be well prepared for this?

 

2. Trust in God’s Promises for Deliverance in the End Time

 

This is the second lesson on how to prepare to face tribulation in the End time. A promise of deliverance is given in the first verse of chapter 12: “and at that time thy people shall be delivered.” The people here refers specifically to the Jews who live at the End time. The Lord will deploy his mighty angels, led by Michael the archangel to help them to go through their tribulation.

 

Then at the end of it, the Lord Himself will come to defeat the Antichrist and his forces at the battle of Armageddon, as recorded in Revelation 19:19-20– “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

 

How long will the tribulation last before this deliverance happens? (v.6) The answer is found in v.7: “a time, times and an half.” This same figure was mentioned before in Daniel 7:25 as the length of time during which the saints will be persecuted by the Antichrist, i.e. 3½ years which is about 1,260 days. But two additional figures are given in verses 11 and 12 without any specific details: “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 

 

Some have tried to explain that the 30 additional days in the first figure is probably the time when the Lord will gather all the nations of the earth for the “sheep and goat” judgment mentioned in Matthew 25. The second figure of 1,335 days exceeds the first one by 45 days. This period of 45 days is explained as a time of preparation before a state of blessedness on earth will finally be achieved. And this blessedness refers to the time when we will live and reign with Christ on earth for a thousand years, (cf. Revelation 20:4-6).

 

While it is fascinating to study all the figures that are given in this chapter, let us not lose sight of their significance – They tell us that the tribulation will certainly come to an end, and that it will end with a thousand years of wonderful blessedness! That is an important part of God’s promise of deliverance.

 

But there is something even better than this in God’s promise of deliverance in the End time. It is found in v.2 – “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake...”  This is a promise of deliverance from man’s last and greatest enemy, which is death. The resurrection of the dead is the truth that removes all fear of death from our hearts. If we know that we will all live again in glorious resurrected bodies after we die, then we can face the worst persecution with hope and joy, even if we end up being killed by men.

 

And in God’s promise of deliverance we may not even have to die at all. Nearly six centuries after Daniel received this vision, God provided more details about the End time deliverance of believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The Latin word for ‘caught up’ is raptus, from which the English word ‘Rapture’ is derived.

 

The question that people always ask is, ‘When will this Rapture of believers take place?’ From the messages that we had at our recent church camp we have learned several views about the timing of the Rapture. And the view that was most favoured by our camp speaker is the Mid-tribulation Rapture. In this view believers will be spared from the wrath of God, but not from enduring the persecution caused by the Antichrist. This is view is supported by Daniel 7:21 – “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them…” and also by Revelation 13:7 – “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” 

 

But let us not be too worried about this, as the Rapture of believers may take place within only a matter of days after the Antichrist begins to persecute them. We will probably not be around for the remaining 3½ years of the great tribulation which the Jews will have to go through. Instead, all who have been raptured and resurrected will be in the same state as that which God promised to Daniel in v.13 – “…for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” We will be enjoying rest from all our labours and standing in our lot which is our inheritance in heaven.

 

What a powerful deliverance God has promised! If we trust in this promise, then we will certainly be prepared to face any tribulation in the End time. However, please understand that this promise only holds true for believers. Look at v.1 – “…and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. What is this book? It is the Lamb’s book of life which has the names of all who have trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Revelation 21:27 tells us that only those whose names are found in this book can enter into the New Jerusalem: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

 

Is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life? If it is not, then you will be resurrected from the dead only to face God’s condemnation. As verse 2 says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This awful judgment is described in Revelation 20:12,15 – “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” There is no way to be delivered from this fiery lake.

 

If anyone here is still outside Christ, I urge you now to turn to Christ for salvation without delay. If you do, then you will be prepared not only to face God but also to face the tribulation of the End time.

 

3. Understand God’s Purposes for the Tribulation of the End Time

 

Whenever we have to go through any difficult trial or tribulation the question we always ask is “Why?” The same question will probably be asked again by believers who live in the End time – “Why do we have to go through all this hardship and pain?” The Lord has already anticipated this and given the answer right here in this vision. It is found in v.10 “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”

 

This verse reveals that End time tribulation will accomplish two purposes in God’s plan. Firstly, it will distinguish the wise from the wicked, and that is, true believers from false believers. God has often allowed the church to go through severe times of persecution in history to reveal the true colours of its members. Persecution is like the contrast medium which is used in medical imaging to make blood vessels clearly visible. When people are forced to choose between obeying Christ and obeying the Antichrist, the world will be able to see very clearly who are the true followers of Christ and who are not.

 

Please think carefully about this: When your faith is put to the ultimate test, will you be true to Christ or will you deny Him? When your livelihood is threatened, or when your own life is at stake, will you prove to be a real disciple or a false disciple? Remember what our Lord Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

 

The other purpose for the End time tribulation is to purify the faith of true believers, as the first part of v.10 says: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried…” God uses trials to sanctify His people, to rid us of our sins, and to refine our faith. If you are going through a difficult trial, please listen to this: Trials are just like the fire that is used to refine gold. When gold ore is mined from the ground it is not nice to look at.  It must be placed in a crucible and is subjected to intense heat until it melts and becomes liquid. Only when all its impurities are removed through this refining process can the gold be used to make beautiful and durable golden rings and jewellery. Our faith is more precious than gold. That is why trials are necessary. When we understand God’s purpose for allowing us to go through them, we will endure them patiently. We will even endure them joyfully with better understanding and with greater trust in God.

 

And perhaps this is the tool that God will use to bring many unbelievers to salvation in the End time. When they see true believers joyfully enduring all the persecution against them, and willing even to lay down their lives for the sake Christ, many will be moved by the Spirit of God to believe the Gospel of Christ and turn to Him with faith and repentance. The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.

 

And we know that just before the End comes, the Gospel will be preached in all the world for a witness for the final harvest of souls (Matthew 24:14). I believe that all true Christians who live in the End time will have a crucial role to play in this, since verse 3 says – “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” What a glorious outcome of tribulation this is going to be!

 

May we all be reminded through this to let our light so shine for Christ even now before the End time persecution begins. We are living in momentous times and we need to be urgent in making disciples. Two weeks ago we launched a Biblical Discipleship movement in our church. The time has come for God’s people not just in Life Church but all over the world to witness for Christ. Let us all do our part. And may we be found faithful until our Lord Jesus Christ returns

 
 
 
 

 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25