The prophet Daniel's view of future history was astounding, but also partially limited. In the midst of the Babylonian captivity, he was given a vision of the time of the end. Turning again to Daniel chapter 9, we read (NIV):
"In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes."
Daniel understood from the prophet Jeremiah that the Babylonian captivity was to last 70 years, during which the land would have its sabbath rests. To understand, we turn back to Leviticus chapter 25. Before the description of the jubilee, we read about the sabbath year (NIV):
"The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai,2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord.3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you,7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten."
The Hebrews had failed to observe YHWH's required sabbath years, which resulted in the 70 years of Babylonian captivity (for more inforation see http://www.jeremiahstudybible.com/Second_Chronicles/seventy-years-captivity/). It is in the midst of this punishment, that Daniel is given a vision into the distant future. Turning again to Daniel 9 (NIV):
24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."
Daniel could see the return to Jerusalem, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, the death of the Messiah (or Anointed One) Jesus, the subsequent destruction of the Second Temple (in 70 A.D.), the rise of the antichrist, the building of the Third Temple, and finally the Abomination of Desolation. He apparently saw all of these events overlapped, while himself in the midst of the Babylonian captivity for the nation's failure to observe the sabbath (or Shemitah) years. He could not see the Church. The entire Church Age was like a valley which was obscured from his mountaintop viewpoint. It is fitting then that his view of the end included a glimpse of the Final Jubilee, which would be multipled seven times in punishment for the Jewish nation which had failed to observe it also.
As mentioned in a previous post, the Apostle Paul's own vision added imported detail to the Church Age and its conclusion. In 2 Thessalonians 2 we read (NIV):
3 "Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the [apostasia] occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God."
Paul's vision indicates that Daniel's Abomination of Desolation involves a rebuilt Third Temple in Jerusalem. As discussed in a previous post, the Greek "apostasia" is best translated as a falling away or departure. Therefore, we glimpse here an event which precedes the appearance of the antichrist. Since the antichrist confirms a covenant for the entire "seven" of Daniel's 70th week, this implies the event also precedes Daniel's entire 70th week.
Remember from Leviticus 25 the timing of the jubilee observance (NIV):
8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land."
Per Leviticus 23, the Day of Atonement (or tenth day of the seventh month) actually begins at sunset of the ninth day (NIV):
32 "It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath."
The Apostle Paul again provides more detail regarding this event in 1 Thessalonians 4 (NIV):
13 "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words."
He provides yet more information in 1 Corinthians 15 (NIV):
51 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
Like a jigsaw puzzle, as we piece together the scriptural clues a picture emerges of a great harvest of persons, both living and dead, whose faith in Jesus Christ qualifies them for both resurrection and transformation prior to Daniel's 70th week. In fact, harvest themes run throughout the scriptures, and we will address this topic further next time.