THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
I. THE ANTICHRIST AND HIS COVENANT
"And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease: and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate" (Dan. 9:27).
THE heading of this division is "The Antichrist and His Covenant." This caption assumes that the Antichrist is referred to by the pronoun in this verse. This position has been, in certain quarters, called in question. Those who do challenge this contention insist that he refers to Messiah the Prince mentioned in verses 25 and 26. Is there any proof for this position? So far as this text goes, there is absolutely none. Only by reading into this passage something that is deducted from other statements can this position be maintained. Moreover, it is diametrically opposed to one of the fundamental principles that is common to all languages. The rule to which I refer is this: A noun, which immediately precedes a pronoun and agrees with it in gender and number is to be recognized as the antecedent, unless there is positive evidence to the contrary. The word agreeing thus with the pronoun he and immediately preceding it is prince in verse 26. Being governed by this universal law to which I have just referred, we must accept prince as the antecedent of this pronoun unless there is evidence forbidding our doing so. One will seek in vain in this passage for such negative testimony. We must therefore accept prince as the antecedent.II. THE TRIBULATION PERIOD
We have already seen that this coming prince of verse 26 is of the same nationality as those who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. This prince therefore is to be a Roman. He has never come as yet. He is spoken of as the coming prince. As suggested above, this one is so spoken of as one who is well-known to the readers of the Book of Daniel. One instinctively identifies him as the prince mentioned in 7:25 who is the world dictator of the end-time.
One writer objects to this interpretation upon the basis that the pronoun he does not appear in the original Hebrew text but is included in the verb stem. This statement is correct. There is no pronoun in this verse separate and apart from the verb. Everyone who knows Hebrew is aware of the fact that the person of a verb is expressed by its ending. This verb is in the third person, singular number, and definitely must be rendered he, she, or it when there is no noun or pronoun expressed. The context alone determines what is intended. The objection therefore falls flat.
But who is this Antichrist or world dictator? As before suggested, he is mentioned in Daniel 7. A perusal of verses 23 to 28 of this chapter shows that Rome in its final form will embrace all nations and become in reality a world empire. After it has thus devoured all races and subjected them, it collapses and falls into ten divisions, over each of which a dictator will assume the authority. After the breaking up of this universal kingdom, and the rise of its ten dictators, there will come out of obscurity a man who is represented by the little horn of this passage, and who becomes associated with the ten kings. He will be a real diplomat. He will, as we learn from other passages, be inspired and energized by the devil himself. By his diplomacy, power and shrewdness, he will gradually snatch the power from these ten and concentrate it in his own hands. These kings will become "rubber stamps" or "yes-men." This man who appears upon the international scene after the collapse of the world empire and the rise of the ten dictators is the Antichrist. Could any of the dictators who are in the world now be he? Positively not, because they came up too soon. The international stage is not sufficiently set for the appearance of the Antichrist, according to the schedule set forth in Daniel 7, which is absolutely infallible and is very clear and definite so that no one need misunderstand it.
When this coming prince or Antichrist has thus gained the ascendancy in the world, he enters into a firm covenant with many of the Jews for one week of years. My reason for saying that this covenant is made with the Jews is this: The prediction which we are studying says very specifically that it pertains to Daniel's people and the Holy City (Dan. 9:24). Other nations are not in view in this prophecy--only the Jew. The many, therefore, with whom the covenant is made can be only Jews.
The fact that the prediction says that the covenant is made with "many" is proof that the entire Jewish nation will not be party to this Satanic agreement. When one looks at a cross-section of Jewish life today and studies that people in the light of the past, he can come to a very definite and accurate conclusion as to who are the many referred to in this passage. It is evident that they are the apostate remnant of Israel who will sell their birth-right, like Esau, for a mess of political pottage. Should one speak of this section of the Jewish race in terms of present-day phraseology, he would say that those making the covenant are the modernistic crowd, which has given up largely the national hope and has abandoned faith in the inspiration of the Scriptures and the plan of God. One also comes to the conclusion that the faithful, orthodox Jews who believe in the Scriptures as the Word of God are the ones who hold aloof from such an alliance.
The "many" will enter into this covenant for the period of seven years. As we have seen, the final week of this prophecy precedes immediately the millennial age of our Lord's reign. The week referred to in verse 27 is therefore this seventieth week, which terminates the period of seventy weeks of years.
The prophets constantly speak of "the day of Jehovah." Descriptions of it are found in such passages as Isaiah 2, the Book of Joel, and Zephaniah 1:14-18. They picture it as a time of great distress and indignation when God arises to shake the earth mightily and to destroy the wicked out of it. One of the clearest descriptions of this period of trouble and judgment is found in Isaiah 24:1-20. This is called especially the time of Jacob's trouble, but he is assured that he shall be saved out of it (Jer. 30:7).III. THE WORLD-WIDE REVIVAL
The Book of Revelation is a detailed account of the judgments which will fall upon the earth during that time. This period of Jehovah's wrath is described in chapters 6 through 19. Those chapters which give the chronological order of events are: 6,8,9, and 16. The other chapters give details concerning the conditions which will then obtain upon the earth. Thus, figuratively speaking, we would say that they give the stage setting.
A careful study of Revelation shows that this period of wrath is divided into two sections: The first half of the Tribulation covering 1260 days (Rev. 11:3); the second half consisting of forty-two months (Rev. 11:2). These judgments will be so very severe that the bulk of humanity will be swept from the face of the globe. The surface of the earth will present the appearance of a desolation and a waste. The heavens likewise will be affected by these thorough-going judgments. Jeremiah, chapter 4:23-26, gives a very vivid description of the heavens and the earth at the end of the Tribulation. That he was talking about this time of judgment is evident from the fact that verse 27 begins with the conjunction for, which introduces a sentence explanatory of this passage. An examination of this verse and the following ones shows that Jeremiah was looking forward into the future--to this period of travail through which Israel as a nation shall pass in this period of Tribulation.
The present age ends in apostasy and finally in catastrophe. This is clearly predicted by both our Lord and the apostles. In II Thessalonians 2 Paul especially spoke of "the apostasy." This prophecy foretells a deliberate renunciation of the faith of our fathers and an abandonment of it. "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith upon the earth?" This rhetorical question demands the answer "No" (Luke 11:8). Paul told Timothy that in the latter days there would be perilous times and described them very minutely. There is, therefore, no scriptural warrant to expect a revival in these days of declension.
But the Scriptures do speak of a mighty turning to God and locate it in the Tribulation. For instance, in Isaiah 24 we find, as stated above, a graphic description of terrific judgments and their effect upon the earth during this time of unprecedented suffering. Yet we see in the midst of this description a revival that flares up and that encircles the globe. This is expressed in the following verses:
"These shall lift up their voice, they shall shout, for the majesty of Jehovah they cry aloud from the sea. Wherefore glorify ye Jehovah in the east, even the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel, in the isles of the sea. From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs: Glory to the righteous" (Isa. 24:14-16a).
The gist of the songs that will be heard on every hand during this time of trouble will be, "Glory to the righteous." Different writers of the Psalms likewise spoke in the most glowing terms of a mighty turning to God during this time of terrific judgments.
In Revelation 7 one sees a mighty army of 144,000 Jewish servants of God who are sealed against injury by the judgments of the Tribulation. They are servants of God; therefore, they serve. Immediately after giving us this vision, John gave another one of an innumerable host of people saved from every nation, tribe, tongue and language. These come out of the great Tribulation, wash their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. These who turn to God are the result of a mighty world-wide revival. They do not accept Christ before the Tribulation, but they come out of it. And in this vision John saw them standing in the presence of God. These facts force us to conclude that there is to be a mighty turning to God in the Tribulation. Since these 144,000 Jews are recognized as servants, are protected, and appear in this chapter immediately prior to the description of the result of the mighty world-wide revival, one concludes that they are the ones who conduct it. This is in perfect accord with the promise that God made to Abraham that in him and his seed should all families of the earth be blessed.
The apostle Paul, II Thessalonians 2, assumed unmistakably a world-wide revival as occurring in the first half of the Tribulation. The brethren in Thessalonica had been disturbed unduly by certain ones in regard to the Rapture of the Church and the day of the Lord, the latter of which is the Tribulation. In order to allay their fears and to set their hearts at rest, the apostle showed them that the day of the Lord could not possibly be until there should develop the great apostasy, and the man of sin (the Antichrist) be revealed. The knowledge of these facts would thus reassure them that the rapture had not occurred, as they had been led to believe, and that they had not therefore been left out of that glorious event. These facts presuppose that the rapture occurs prior to the Tribulation.
In his speaking of the revealing of the man of sin before the day of the Lord, the apostle identified this "man of sin" and "the son of perdition" as the one spoken of by Daniel in 9:27, which we are considering in this chapter. According to Gabriel, this future prince breaks his covenant in the middle of the week "and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate." The expression "the wing of abominations" refers to the highest expression of heathen worship. Idolatry has taken many forms throughout the nations and at various times, but its highest expression will be ushered into existence by this future Roman emperor when he makes his covenant with the apostate remnant of Israel in the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel 9. When he thus takes this step, he will make desolate all opposition that is offered to him. He will reject the God of his fathers, the desire of women (the Messiah), and every god; but he will demand that they worship him. Such is the forecast appearing in the Book of Daniel. Paul, II Thessalonians 2:4, speaks of the one whom he calls the son of perdition as "he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God." This description identifies the man of sin as the one who is the willful king of Daniel 11 and also the one who makes desolate, mentioned in Daniel 9:27.
This opposition to all that is called God and the demanding of divine worship by the Antichrist occur in the middle of the Tribulation when the covenant made with the Jews is broken. It is clear, therefore, that Paul in II Thessalonians 2:4 was talking about the events of the middle of the Tribulation. This verse becomes very luminous in the light of the disclosure found in Revelation 13:11-18. This latter passage supplements Paul's statement.
Second Thessalonians 2:5 is a reminiscence. Here Paul carried his readers back to the time when he was personally with them and taught them: "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" Since he had given them personal instruction when he was with them, he could say to them, "Now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way." Since they had been instructed by the apostle personally, they understood "that which restraineth." Paul had taught them that there was that which restrained and which would continue to do so until it is time for the revealing of this son of perdition. He further explained what he meant in the next verse, which he introduced by the conjunction for. This word shows that the sentence which it introduces is explanatory of verse 6. The mystery of lawlessness was working in Paul's day. Undoubtedly it is Satan's underhanded machinations and diabolical plottings. But, declared Paul, Satan could not bring forth the son of perdition until the time when he that restraineth now "be taken out of the way."
Since verse 7 is tied to verse 6 and is explanatory of it, since verse 6 is united to verse 5 by the adverb now, and since verse 5 is a retrospect which brought afresh to their minds his teaching when he was present, we are forced to the conclusion that these verses--5, 6, and 7--are parenthetical. Verse 8 takes up the thought that was dropped with verse 4. "And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to naught by the manifestation of his coming." Since verse 4 is unmistakably talking about the Antichrist's opposing all worship and his demanding divine recognition, which occurs in the middle of the seventieth week, verse 8 is likewise talking about events of the same time. The adverb then of this latter verse therefore connects verse 8 with verse 4. "And then (in the middle of the Tribulation) shall be revealed the lawless one." This one is revealed before the Tribulation according to verse 3, and then is again revealed in the middle of it according to verse 8. His identity is made known before; his real, diabolical, satanic character is revealed in the middle of the Tribulation, when he demands divine worship.
When the Antichrist thus abolishes all worship and demands that he alone be given divine honors, he will be energized by Satan and empowered by him to stage the greatest demonstration of superhuman power that will have been witnessed upon the earth to that time. Such is what the apostle referred to in this quotation: "even he (the Antichrist), whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." This manifestation of satanic power, miracles, and lying wonders is that which is mentioned in Revelation 13:11-18. God allows Satan and the Antichrist to make this display of power for a definite purpose, which is expressed in these words: "for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." God will allow them to perform all of these satanic miracles in support of the claims of the antichrist for the benefit of a certain class; namely, "them that perish." These are in this category, "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." They could not refuse to receive something that was not offered to them. The fact that they received not the love of the truth shows that it will, by the middle of the Tribulation, have been offered to them, but they refuse it. Furthermore, we see that it is given to them prior to this demonstration in order that they might be saved. Thus people can be saved after the rapture by receiving the truth. Those who do not receive the gospel before this demonstration is staged will, in all probability, accept the Antichrist and his claims. By the permission of the reader, I will, because of its vividness, put the thought in a slang expression: These who hear the truth in the first half of the Tribulation, but who do not receive it, fall for the Antichrist when he puts on this demonstration of miraculous works and powers.
Paul declared that God will allow Satan and the Antichrist to work thus, in sending them this error that they should believe a lie, because they "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Without a doubt, these who accept the claims, the error of the Antichrist, and his satanic miracles will have had a chance to receive the gospel but they refuse it, preferring to believe a lie rather than the truth and to have pleasure in unrighteousness. It is clear therefore from II Thessalonians 2 that the gospel will be given to all the world prior to Satan's great demonstration of miracles in the middle of the Tribulation.
It is the occasion of great rejoicing to our hearts to have the scriptural assurance that the Word of God will be preached to the entire world after the rapture of the Church and before the middle of the Tribulation. This, as has been stated, will be accomplished by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists mentioned in Revelation 7. Results of their labors will be the conversion of an innumerable host of people from every nation, tribe, tongue, and language.
Those who are now giving the gospel to Israel may come to the erroneous conclusion that their labors are futile. Not so. The Word which they are now sowing in the dry ground of indifferent hearts will be watered by the showers of judgments in the beginning of the Tribulation. As a result of their labors, there will arise a mighty army of 144,000 Jewish evangelists, who will conduct this sweeping revival in the first half of the Tribulation. Thus those who are laboring to get the gospel to Israel now will see the abundant harvest of their labors in the form of this innumerable host of people from every nation, tribe, tongue, and language, who are saved by the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish Pauls. This mighty turning to God of myriads of souls will indirectly be the result of the labors of those who are now giving the gospel to Israel. Of course, they will receive their share of reward for their part in this great soul-saving campaign.
IV. THE BREAKING OF THE COVENANT
As repeatedly stated in the preceding discussion, in the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist will repudiate his covenant obligation to the Jews and will consider the material upon which it is written simply as a scrap of paper. His word will amount to nothing. From the twelfth chapter of Revelation we see that Israel, the woman of that prediction, flees into the wilderness to a place prepared of God for her. The occasion of her doing this will be the breaking of this covenant and the unrighteous, unreasonable demand of the Antichrist that he be worshipped as God. The Jews, the faithful orthodox ones, will flee to the mountains and live in the holes of the earth rather than submit to this type of idolatry.
As is indicated in Revelation 17, upon the beast, which is the civil power under the direct rulership of the Antichrist, will ride a woman, who is called Babylon the harlot. She symbolizes the false religious system of that day and time and will be supported by the government. In the middle of the Tribulation this ecclesiasticism will be abolished. All men will be required then to worship and serve this world dictator.
V. THE ABSOLUTISM OF THE ANTICHRIST
In the vision of the metallic image (Daniel 2), which symbolizes the four world empires (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome), we see that in the very end of the last one, Rome, there will be ten kings, who are signified by the ten toes on the feet of this image. These correspond to the ten horns on the nondescript beast of Daniel 7. When these two visions are presented side by side, this identity becomes evident. These ten horns, according to Daniel 7:24, symbolize ten kings who reign over the entire world.
To each of these universal empires, which are symbolized in the visions of the metallic image and of the beasts, are given worldwide dominion and authority. This is clearly seen in Daniel 2:36-39. This same universal sway is finally transferred to the fourth kingdom, which is Rome. None of these empires ever took possession of their possessions. Nevertheless, Rome, in the final course of her career at the end of this age, will seize this divinely-given authority. According to Daniel 7:23, she will devour the whole earth and tread it down. This language indicates a ruthlessness in gaining the supremacy over the world and her incorporating into her dominion every tribe, nation, tongue, and language. The distress that will be caused and the havoc wrought will be appalling--far beyond the conception of the most vivid imagination. But this universal sway will be short-lived, for it will collapse and the kingdom will fall into ten divisions, which fact is asserted in Daniel 7:
"Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And as for the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise: and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the former, and he shall put down three kings" (Dan. 7:23,24).
In these two verses, which are to be taken literally, we see that Rome is destined to become a world empire and that, after she has thus devoured the earth, this universal kingdom falls into ten divisions, over each of which a dictator or king will rule.
After these dictators have seized the authority and rule over the ten divisions of this collapsed empire, there will arise an unusual character, who is signified by the little horn which comes up in the midst of the ten other horns--and after them. This symbolic language translated into literal speech is this: Upon the break-up of this future world empire, ten kings will seize the authority over the ten sections into which it will split. There will appear a man who will come out of insignificance and who will by his shrewdness, diplomacy, and unusual ability ingratiate himself into the favor of these ten dictators. At the same time he will be advancing his interests and gradually seizing the authority, which they have usurped. Soon he becomes dominant among them. Expressing this thought in current phraseology, one would say that they soon become "rubber stamps" while he becomes the all-powerful master-spirit among them.
Finally, in the middle of the Tribulation there will be a mighty upheaval, one result of which is the putting down of three of these ten kings and the assumption of new powers and prerogatives by this world dictator. By this time, he, having absolute and unquestioned authority over the remaining seven kings and the entire world, changes the calendar--the times and the law--and rules for the last three and half years of the Tribulation with an unthought-of tyranny and despotism (Dan. 7:25). With ruthless inconsideration for others and an abnormal craving for human esteem, he will demand the absolute worship of himself. He will inaugurate a regime so that no one can buy or sell, or have any type of commercial transaction without his consent. At that time the password will be 666 or the number of a man (Read carefully Revelation 13 and 17). For the last three and a half years of the Tribulation, he will hold high carnival in dominating man--body, soul, and spirit. His despotism will go so very far that he will actually destroy everything that is not in agreement with his plans and purposes.
"And even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate" (Dan. 9:27). This prophecy affirms that from the middle of the week, when the covenant is broken, unto the very end of the Tribulation, wrath which is determined by Almighty God shall be poured out upon this one who is here called the desolate, because he is the one who causes great havoc throughout the world, and, at the same time, he is the desolate, in that, he is devoid of all human feeling and consideration for others. He is also the desolate one because his entire regime shall be wrecked by the terrific judgments that will be poured out upon him during the last three and a half years of his career. This prediction should be studied carefully in the light of the seven judgments which are set forth in Revelation 16 and which are, figuratively speaking, the thunderbolts of the Almighty against this ruthless tyrant, the Antichrist.
His despotic, tyrannical rule will be brought to a close by the personal appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ with the armies of heaven which follow Him. This Beast, with the false prophet and their armies, gather together in Palestine for the express purpose of coming in combat with the Lord Jesus when He appears. But he shall be conquered and his hosts destroyed. Then he and his aide will be cast into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone, where they will be throughout the thousand years of our Lord's glorious reign upon the earth. The Devil will be bound for a thousand years, and Christ, with His saints, will reign from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth. These predictions are found in the following passage.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight, wherewith he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image: they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone: and the rest were killed with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, even the sword which came forth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
20 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a little time.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Rev. 19:19-20:6).