The Minor Prophets and Daniel
As we come to the close of our study, we see that as the OT develops and progresses, more and more emphasis is placed upon the coming of the new age (the kingdom of God) and the Anointed One (Messiah, Christ) who will usher in that new age. The old system has failed, not because it was flawed but because it was incapable of dealing with flawed people. Some people today try to resurrect that old system; they reject faith as the principle of life, opting for legalism instead. Some Christians feel that they are more spiritual than others because they re-enact the ancient Jewish festivals (Pentecost, Passover, etc.). (Re-enacting the feasts can be beneficial if done properly; however, it never makes a person more spiritual.) HOWEVER, the system does NOT work, as is seen in Israel today where they try to keep the old system, and yet the divorce rate is at 75%. The message of these prophets is that the old system has failed; instead a new system is emerging and Christ will bring about this new system.
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OTHER MINOR PROPHETS REGARDING THE COMING OF CHRIST
Earlier in our study of Isaiah we saw that God was going to send a messenger out into the wilderness to prepare for the coming of God. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, picks up on the coming of this messenger of the Lord. Who does Malachi identify as the messenger of the Lord (Malachi 4:5)?
What will this person do to help prepare people for the coming of God (Mal. 4:6)?
Micah clarifies more and more just who this God is going to be. According to Micah where is the Prince, the Ruler of Israel going to be born (Micah 5:2)?
Finally, Zechariah describes the character of this ruler who is to rule over Israel. Instead of charging into Jerusalem on a white horse to defeat his enemies, on what does this ruler ride when He enters Jerusalem (Zech. 9:9)?
Fill in the blank to see why He rides this animal instead of the white charger (Zech. 9:10): "And He will speak ______________________ to the nations."
Over how many people will this ruler have dominion (Zech. 9:10)?
Finally, Joel in agreement with Isaiah and Ezekiel claims that this Ruler will usher in His kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Christ pours out His Spirit upon His followers on the last day, what will His followers be able to do as evidence that the Spirit really lives in them (Joel 2:28)?
DANIEL AND THE EVENTS PRECEDING THE NEW AGE (Daniel 9:24-27)
Like Ezekiel and Isaiah before him, Daniel predicted that a new age, the kingdom of God, would come. According to Daniel 9:24 what are some characteristics of the new age to come? Circle the correct ones:
Now in the Hebrew the word translated "weeks" is not literally the Hebrew word for "weeks." Rather the word is better translated "70 units of 7" (some of our translators have just taken it upon themselves to translate it as "weeks"). There is universal agreement among Hebrew scholars that the units do refer to a period of time. These units are consistently referred to as seventy 7's, or 70 x 7 (490). The 490 units refer then to 490 years. In other others, 490 years are significant in bringing about the kingdom of God.
Daniel takes these 490 years and divides them into 2 parts: (1) 483 years and then (2) 7 years. The first period of time lasts 483 years, while the last period of time lasts 7 years. What happens in Dan. 9:25 which triggers the first 483 years? "So you are to know and discern that from the ______________ of a ____________ to restore and rebuild __________ until ______________ the Prince there will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks" (or 69 units, or 69 x 7 = 483 years). Nearly every OT scholar believes that these units of times are actually years; therefore, 483 years will elapse between the time a decree is given to rebuild Jerusalem and the time of the Messiah. According to Dan. 9:26 what will happen to the Messiah after the 62 units have occurred (remember that the 62 units of time occur AFTER the first 7 units of time have elapsed)?
In other words a decree will be given to rebuild Jerusalem; at that point in time the first 483 years kick into gear. They will stop upon the death of the Messiah. This appears to have been fulfilled with the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem under Nehemiah ~445 BC and the death of Christ in 30 AD. The dates don't match exactly because dating ancient events can be off as much as 10 years in either direction. These 2 events though suit well the period of 483 years.
At this point all but seven years are accounted for. There are 7 years left. According to 9:26 a people will come and destroy the city of Jerusalem after the Christ has been killed. Which people destroyed the city of Jerusalem?
The identity of this people is important BECAUSE according to v. 26 a prince will come from this people who will wreak havoc upon God's people. What does this prince do which sets off the last seven years (9:27)? "And he will make a firm _____________ with the many for one week [seven years]."
What will this prince do during the middle of the seven years (3 1/2 years into the 7 years)? "but in the middle of the week [7 years] he will put a _______ to ___________ and grain offering."
Next comes one of the most important statements in the OT regarding the end times: "and on the wing of __________ will come one who makes ___________; one that is decreed is poured out on the one who makes _______________."
In other words, this last period of time will be triggered by this prince who will make a treaty with God's people. Three and 1/2 years later during the middle of this period, he will break that treaty and wreak havoc upon God's people. He will do something so abominable that it leads to desolation. This event is naturally called the abomination of desolations. At the end of this 7-year period God's kingdom will reign upon the earth.
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
The passages from the minor prophets concerning the coming of the Messiah are some of the most popular OT prophecies among Christians. We readily recognize the prophecies which predict the coming of Elijah fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist. Most remember that not only was Jesus born in Bethelehm but that He also rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, thereby symbolizing that He is the King of Peace.
The Daniel Passage in the New Testament
The Daniel passage, on the other hand, has caused great consternation on the part of many Christians. The primary reason is that the vast majority of Christians believe that Israel is no longer relevant in God's plan. Instead the promised given to Israel in the OT are now completely fulfilled in the church. According to this view the church has replaced Israel. Whereas I believe that the Church is definitely on same par as Israel (Gentile Christians are NOT second-class citizens of the kingdom of heaven), I do NOT believe that the church has replaced Israel. That the church has replaced Israel is good Catholic theology introduced by Augustine; however, it is not good NT theology. Although Israel rejected Jesus, what does Paul say about the gifts and promises God has given to Israel (Rom. 11:29)? (Notice that Paul writes this AFTER Israel rejected Jesus.)
Israel still has a part to play in this cosmic drama. What will happen to Israel in the last days (Rom. 11:26? all Israel will be saved)?
The Daniel 9 passage introduces the most sinister figure in human history, the prince of the people who destroyed the holy city. In Matt. 24:15 what event does Jesus highlight which informs us that Jesus links His second coming with this person?
This person is discussed in greater detail in 2 Thess. 2:1-12. What does Paul call this sinister figure in 2 Thess. 2:3?
The apostle John applies 2 other names to this person. What does John call him first in 1 John 2:18 and then in Rev. 13:1-2?
One identifying mark about this evil person. John in Rev. 13:18 claims that this man has the number 666 attached to him. This can mean one of 2 things. Six is an evil number in Hebrew thought because it falls one short of 7, the number for perfection. 666 then is 6 x 6 x 6, or 6 cubed. It is evil to the ultimate power. OR it can be the numerical value of the person's name. In many of the ancient languages a letter also represented a number. For example in Roman numerals the letter "I" stood for the number 1, the letter "V" for the number 5 and "X" for the number 10. According to this view if you take the numerical value of the Antichrist's name it will add up to 666. Time will tell which view is correct.
What abominable act does he perform in 2 Thess. 2:4 which brings about God's wrath?
This figure and this act signal that the end is at hand. How terrible will be the persecutions the Antichrist afflicts upon God's people and how long will he persecute them (Rev. 13:5, 7)?
In his last act of rebellion against Christ where will the Antichrist marshal his forces against the people of God (Rev. 16:16)?
This has been one of the most notable places in all of history. Throughout the early days of Israel major battles took place in the valley of Megiddo: Deborah's attack against Sisera the Canaanite general, Gideon's routing of the Midianite army, Saul's defeat at the hands of the Philistines, and Pharaoh Necho's overthrow of Josiah. Even modern history has seen this as the sight of significant battles: General Allengby of Armageddon's defeat of the Turkish forces in WW1 and the dogfights between the Israelis and Syrians in the Six Day War. It is only appropriate that at this site the main opponent to Christ would muster his forces against Christ.
What is the ultimate outcome for the Antichrist (Rev. 19:19-20)?
As we studied in Isaiah, the intense sufferings of this day produce nothing less than the completion of the kingdom of God.
From all this we see that it is not the rapture which triggers the tribulation; rather the appearance of the Antichrist is what triggers the Great Tribulation and what brings about the consummation of the kingdom of God.
Few of us realize that history is primarily about the conflict between Christ and the Antichrist. Most of us have been led to believe that the Antichrist is a figure which appears only at the end of time. No wonder then many Christians believe he has absolutely nothing to do with Christians. Yet a careful reading of the NT shows us that although there will be an ultimate, final appearance of the Antichrist, he has been appearing throughout history. Paul tells us that although at the end of time there will be a final manifestation of Antichrist, he also tells us that the spirit of Antichrist is already working in the world (2 Thess. 2:7). For example, the Book of Revelation is primarily about the Roman emperor Domitian being a manifestation of the Antichrist. In fact in 1 John 2:18 John (who wrote Revelation) states: "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that Antichrist is coming, even NOW many Antichrists have arisen. From this we know that it is the LAST hour." In other words, the spirit of Antichrist was operating in the Roman emperor of John's day.
Probably one of the most dramatic examples of Antichrist is Judas Iscariot himself. He flat out applies to Judas one of the most popular titles given to the Antichrist, "son of perdition or destruction," which means that destruction awaits him in eternity (see John 17:12). Moreover, according to John, Judas Iscariot was Satan incarnate. After Jesus announces to the disciples that one of them will betray Him, Jesus states that the traitor is the one He will give the morsel of bread which He has dipped in the bitter herbs and sauce. After dipping the morsel into the sauce, Jesus hands it to Judas Iscariot. Now Judas knows what is transpiring. In fact he was probably to Jesus' left so that he heard everything Jesus was saying. Yet he didn't care. Jesus has outed him, and he is going to betray Jesus. When Jesus hands the morsel to Judas, Judas deliberately and consciously takes the morsel. At that point John says that Satan entered Judas. He is now Satan incarnate. He leaves the upper room in order to lead the Jewish religious leaders to Jesus. After Judas leaves the upper room, John writes: "And it was night" (John 13:30). He's not saying it is physically dark outside. He is saying that it is spiritually dark outside. Satan has been unleashed, and demonic forces of darkness are now surrounding that little band of apostles and Jesus. Jesus though tells the disciples not to fear. Although they have tribulation in the world, in Him they have peace because for all practical purposes He has overcome the world; He has defeated Satan. It's just a matter of time.