Contact Us

  • Phone: (509) 747-3007
  • Email:
  • Mosaic Address:
    606 West 3rd Ave., Spokane, WA 99201

Service Times

  • Sunday:  8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am
  • Infant through 5th grade Sunday School classes available
  • FREE Parking!



Back To List

Jul 07, 2013

God's Math

Passage: Daniel 9:17-27

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Daniel: Overcoming Under Siege

Keywords: antichrist, tribulation, seven years, numbers, good news, bad news


This message looks at THE most specific Old Testament prophecy about the timing of the coming Messiah, Daniel 9. It also examines how the two basic different theological camps see this passage regarding whether there are some yet-to-be-fullfilled prophecies here or whether they were all fulfilled in Christ. I take the former, premillenial position.


God’s Math

“Overcoming Under Siege” Series

Daniel 9:20-27

July 7, 2013


CONNECT:  What is the best news you’ve gotten in the past year?  The most troubling news?


Life is filled with good-news/bad-news developments, isn’t it?  Here are a few such pastor-related items I ran across this week:


Good News: We baptized seven people this past week in the river.
Bad News: We lost two of them in the swift current.


Good News: The Elder Board accepted the pastor’s job description the way he wrote it.
Bad News: They were so inspired by it, they formed a search committee to find somebody capable of filling the position.


Good News: The church’s women's softball team finally won a game.
Bad News: They beat your men's softball team.


Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks.
Bad News: The pastor was on vacation.


Good News: The deacons want to send the pastor to the Holy Land this year.
Bad News: They only approved a one-way ticket.


Good News: Your biggest critic just left your church.
Bad News: He has been appointed the President of the church’s denomination.


We’re back in the book of Daniel today, chapter 9.  This chapter is very much a good news/bad news chapter of prophecy.  But it is also one of the Bible’s most amazingly specific prophecies about THE most amazing work of God in human history. 


If you were with us a couple of weeks ago, you remember that we spent the morning looking at Daniel’s prayer for God’s people in this chapter.  It’s primarily a prayer of confession that seeks to clear the record and hearts of God’s people in preparation of what could have been a time of spiritual renewal and restoration. 

            Daniel is now in his late eighties.  The city of Jerusalem, the place where God wanted the whole world to be able to physically observe His glory and presence, lies in ruins.  It’s over 600 miles due west of where Daniel has spent most of his life in the pagan city and court of Babylon.  Daniel discerns from reading the words of the prophet Jeremiah that God’s people are nearing the end of their 70 years of disciplinary captivity.   Jeremiah 25 & 29 both talk about that.  Let’s just refresh our memories about the passage in chapter 29 that probably most influenced Daniel’s prayer here in Daniel 9.

Jeremiah 29:10ff-- This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place [Jeremiah was prophesying from Jerusalem]. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

You know, I haven’t been able to shake those words for the past few weeks. God’s heart for his chosen people, Israel, was the same as it is this very day for his chosen people, the church.  God has plans for us…and they are good. There are things God wants to do with US…for US…and they are wonderful things that should fill us with hope and expectation.

BUT when God wants to work out those plans is also when he wants us to ‘seek [Him] with all [our] heart,” (vs. 13). 

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.   


What do you think seeking God with all our hearts would look like?  Sound like?  Feel like? 

I have a hard time visualizing things like this sometimes.  Maybe putting it in relational terms on the human side might help.  What does it mean in a love relationship to “seek” someone with all your heart? 

            I’m afraid that the longer we are married, the easier it is to let other things crowd out our love for our spouse.  When you are young and “in love,” there are very few things and people competing for your love, time and attention.  You’ve got friends, but so often they are coming and going during those young adult years.  Then comes a career, something that usually consumes 25-35% of your day (50-80% of your waking hours).  Then there may be children.  That will take a bite out of your time and attention!  In America we often buy a car to get around in (which needs upkeep and care), a house to live in (talk about upkeep and care).  We throw in a few other commitments like church and hobbies and sports.  Then there is entertainment like movies, shows, TV, video games, more sports…and it gets really confusing trying to figure out what happened to loving that wonderful guy or terrific gal you loved “with all your heart” (not to mention most of your time, attention and money) just a few years ago. 

            The same can be true of our relationship with Christ.  The longer I live, in some ways the more difficult or blurred or complicated seeking Him with all my heart seems to become. As with any relationship, it isn’t just a quantity thing with time, money or attention…but it does involve that too.  And it isn’t just an emotional thing of deeply-felt experiences, spiritual mountain tops and great visions of service.  Just what does it mean to “seek Him with all your heart”???  (Dialogue.)


I think Daniel was trying his darndest to do just that.  And I’m convinced that his lifestyle of prayer and of ordering his very daily life and existence around his connection with God in prayer had a lot to do with how he sought God. 


ILL:  Tomorrow, July 8th, is the beginning of the Muslims’ period of fasting called Ramadan.  Some 1.6 billion people will not eat from sun-up to sun-down all around the world.  Millions of them who are devout Muslims will not even swallow their own saliva.  Some patients will refuse medication and IVs during the day and their doctors will try to rehydrate them all night.  It’s pretty easy to see how they could pride themselves on being more sincere and devoted than most followers of Jesus Christ, right? 


I’m not a big fan of requiring everyone to follow some prescribed form of “god-seeking” like this.  Billions of people world-wide look like they are married.  But how many are really enjoying daily the seeking and loving of their spouse?  So maybe the best we can do is to give ideas and model well for each other what seeking God “with all our heart” is for US. 


So here is Daniel, confessing his sins and the sins of God’s people.  Then he gets to the only requests he makes in this prayer:  [Notice the chiastic construction of vss. 17 & 18.]

  • Vs.. 17—“hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.
  • Vs.. 17b-look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.
  • Vs. 18—Give ear, O God, and hear.
  • Vs. 18b—Open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.
  • Vs. 19—O Lord, Listen!
  • O Lord, forgive?
  • O Lord, hear…and act!
  • O my God, do not delay….

By the time you combine the different repetitions, you basically have Daniel praying, “Lord, please pay attention to my prayers and act quickly to forgive and restore your people, for your name’s sake.”


Could we just stop and pray for God’s people and God’s glory in the church these days?  Daniel’s prayer is, to me, such a powerful model of ONE MAN doing what matters most in intercession for God’s family and God’s fame that it compels me to see what God would do with all of us IF we were to seek God for the same in our day. 




Look now at what God did with Daniel while he was praying fervently for God’s family and fame.

Vs. 20-21“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.”


Just a little clarification here.  “Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision” connects this experience with Daniel 8:15, 16.  He calls him “the man” because that was his appearance.  But we know he was not truly a human being for a couple of reasons.

1.)    He “came to [Daniel] in swift flight.”  People didn’t fly, either fast or slow, certainly not before the 18th century.  (Balloon flight was first in 1783, aircraft flight in 1903.)

2.)    In vs. 23 Gabriel tells us that God issued an answer to Daniel’s prayer immediately when he began praying.  Gabriel was there to hear that God-given answer and was apparently sent to deliver it personally to Daniel. 

3.)    Luke 1:19 tells us that it was Gabriel who did this very same thing with Joseph, a man who would be directly involved in the fulfillment of this amazing prophecy here in Daniel.  Luke records his speech to Joseph:  “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”

4.)    This is all happening about 3-4p.m. in the afternoon.  It’s interesting to note that while there wasn’t any temple in which the sacrifices could be made at this or any other “time of the evening sacrifice,” Daniel was still honoring the longing in his heart for worship in the Temple in Jerusalem.   He hadn’t seen that done for almost 70 years.  But he didn’t give up the spiritual practice of talking to God that had formerly been so deeply connected with evening sacrifice in the Temple.    This man’s spiritual passion and perseverance is astonishing!  Seventy years of separation from the spiritual practice of sacrifice, offerings and Temple prayer did not weaken his resolve to keep praying alone. 

ILL:  10 years of praying for the public and private reconciliation of God’s church that had been fractured in the 1992 split of Fourth Memorial Church.  How many times did I tell God, “I’m not praying for this any more.  It’s hopeless!”  And then God would do something to remind me that I could not stop praying for that thing.  

APP:  What’s God been calling you to pray with perseverance for?  Someone’s salvation?  Some work of God?  Don’t quit. 


The next few verses of this chapter 9 are the Bible’s clearest prophecy about the timing of Messiah’s coming of any place in the Bible.  Sir Isaac Newton, the great physicist and mathematician of the 17th and 18th centuries said of this passage that we could stake the truth of Christianity on this prophecy alone because five centuries before Christ was born, His coming was foretold.  With so many numbers in this passage, no wonder Newton was so enthralled with it!


So let’s read God’s math about the then-and-even-now-future.

Daniel 9:24 “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.”


Since numbers is a big deal here, I’m going to number some important observations about this passage.


#1.  This prophecy applies to Israel and the city of Jerusalem.  (Vs. 24--“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city….


#2.  The amount of time covered by the prophecy is 490 years.  How do we know that?  The NIV is correct in translating this “seventy ‘sevens’”. 

  • 70 X 7 = 490. 
  • What Daniel doesn’t tell us is if those 70 units of time are 7days, 7 weeks, 7 months or 7 years.
  • What he does make clear is that the “Anointed One” or Messiah would be present before the 490 time unites would end.  Every one of the options with the exception of making the time units be a year doesn’t fit any history as we know it while the year time-unit fits with amazing precision as we shall see.  It’s historically provable that Messiah was not present in Jerusalem 490 days, weeks or months after 445 B.C.  (We’ll talk about

that date in a moment.)


#3.  The 490 years of the prophecy would be needed to accomplish six things mentioned in vs. 24 regarding Israel and Jerusalem.  Here they are…and here are two possible interpretations…2 different interpretative tracks, let’s say, that scholars of this text go down.  I’ll label them the “amillenial track” and the “premillenial track” (A or P).

1.)    “…to finish transgression.”  The root meaning of the Hebrew here has to do with rebellion.  I think Gabriel was saying that Israel would not stop its rebellion against God’s rule until these 490 years had run their course.  (The interesting thing is that other parts of Scripture indicate that the Jews will not repent and turn to God until Christ’s second coming at the end of these 490 years (see Zech. 12:10-13:1; Rom. 11:25-27).)  So either there is some sort of “gap” in this time sequence here OR it was all fulfilled before the end of the 1st century A.D. by the church (“people of God”) taking Israel’s place in this prophecy.  I’ll show you the options graphically in a moment.

2.)    “…to put an end to sin.”  Or literally “sins,” as the Hebrew puts it.  Either there will come a day when Israel will end its sins of daily life (what is predicted for the millennium in Rev. 20 and possibly Is. 65:18-25) OR you see this passage talking about what Jesus did to bear sin away for all mankind on the cross, as the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 9, “But now he [Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself…” (Heb. 9:26-28).

3.)    “…to atone for wickedness.” Both groups see this as Christ atoning for sin.  As Hebrews 2:17 says, “For this reason he [Christ] had to be made like his brothers in every way in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”  The difference is that one group only sees the atonement appropriated  by the Jews in the millennium and the other looks at the finish act of atonement Christ already accomplished for all people.

4.)    “to bring in everlasting righteousness.”  Clearly Jesus brought “everlasting righteousness” to all who believe in him.  The amillenial folks see this completely fulfilled already through Jesus work on the cross.  The Premillenial folks would say that “everlasting righteousness” for Israel won’t happen until the end of the 490 years (with the church-age gap in between).  They see this as the righteous rule that messiah will establish on earth in conjunction with His second coming.

5.)    “to seal up vision and prophecy.”  This term “seal up” was used earlier in this verse in the phrase “to make an end of sins.”  The premillennialists see God saying that he is going to make an end to this vision and prophecy when all this revelation of God’s chastening of Israel will have been fulfilled.  Their sins which caused the chastening will have ended and so will the chastening. That will only happen in the literal millennial reign of Christ.  The amillennialists see this phrase as meaning that these prophecies were sealed up, not to be opened/understood, until the first century coming of Christ. 

6.)    “to anoint the Most Holy Place.”  This phrase here translated “most Holy Place” is literally “a holy of holies.”  That was, in the old Temple in Jerusalem, the place where the glory of God was manifested.  If you’re in the amillenial camp then this had to be fulfilled in the person of Jesus himself.  He himself becomes “a holy of holies” and this could refer to his baptism.  If you are in the Premillenial camp then you believe this refers to the literal Temple Complex in Jerusalem.  Since that was destroyed and no longer exists, the pre-mill people see this as something yet to be fulfilled in a yet-to-be-rebuilt literal Temple in Jerusalem. 

So the bottom line of all this is, one group sees all of these prophecies already fulfilled by Jesus Christ at his first coming and the other group sees most of them yet future for Israel to be fulfilled at the time of the millennium. Let’s keep going and pick up our fourth major observation.

#4.  The starting point of this prophetic period of time would be a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.  Look at vs. 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.” 

Here are the brief historical facts we need to know.  There were at least four different decrees by rulers to rebuild Jerusalem.  Here they are.

  • Cyrus in 538/537 B.C.
  • Darius in 519 B.C.
  • Artazerxes first decree in 458 B.C.
  • Artazerxes second decree of 445 B.C.

Suffice it to say that only one of these decrees fulfills both the “forward-looking” test and the “backward-looking” test. 

  1.  The “Forward-looking Test” says that this decree to rebuild Jerusalem had to include the rebuilding of the defenses/walls of Jerusalem (i.e. the “trench” of vs. 25).  Only Artazerxes 2nd decree fulfilled that.
  2. The “Backward-looking Test” asks which decree fits what we know looking back of the dating of the coming of Christ.  Taking the 483 years of the prophecy, both the decree of Cyrus and Darius fall short.  They leave us in either 55 or 36 B.C. respectively, well before the coming of Christ.  Both Artazerxes’ decrees are within the right time frame but his second one nails it on the head.   Let me show you how.


Which leads us to the 5th significant fact in this prophecy:

#5.  The time WHEN Messiah would be present in Israel.

When computing the data provided by Gabriel, we must keep in mind that in ancient times, a year was reckoned to consist of 360 days.  Thus, the 483 years between Artaxerxes’ decree and the designated time in Messiah’s life would amount to 173, 880 days (483 years times 360 days).  If we start with Artaxerxes’ decree in March, 445 B.C., the addition of 173,880 days brings one to the exact time when something significant would happen in the Messiah’s life on earth. 

            Reasearcher Sir Robert Anderson has concluded that Artaxerxes issued his decree to Nehemiah on March 13, 445 B.C.  Beginning with that date, the 173, 880 days end on April 6, 32 A.D. 

            Did anything happen to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, on April 6, 32 A.D?  According to scholars, that was the very day Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey.  We know it as Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry. 

Zechariah 9:9 had predicted Israel’s King would come mounted on the foal of a donkey.  And as Jesus approached Jerusalem on that day, He wept over the city and said, “IF you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!  But now they have been hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41). 

He further warned Jerusalem that it would suffer great disaster “because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Lk. 19:41-44).  According to Jesus, that particular day, had been marked out by God as the time of Jerusalem’s visitation by her Messiah Prince.  Had the Jewish people accepted their Messiah, that day would have brought lasting peace.  Jesus told them that they should have recognized that day for what it was prophesied to be. 


So now we come to the 6th amazing prophetic fact:

#6. The Messiah or Anointed One would be “cut off and have nothing” (vs. 26).

The word translated “cut off” was used at times for the death penalty (Lev. 7:20, 21, 25, 27) and often referred to a violent death (I Sam. 17:51; Obad. 9: Nah 3:15).  This is, of course, speaking of Jesus violent crucifixion.  “And have nothing” meant that he would die without all that should properly be his.  Can a man die with any less than he has when he is crucified, stripped naked, hanging on a cross?  The Anointed One should have had royal clothing, the utmost of respect, the best of medical care, the sorrow of the whole world, the pomp and glory of the greatest King of all time.  But instead they gambled for his clothes, they robbed him of his flesh, his blood, his dignity, his joy and gave him only tortured suffering.  But this, as surprising as it seems, was what Daniel prophesied 400 years before. 


Now the 7th amazing prophetic fact from Daniel 9.

#7.  Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed after the first 483 years of this prophecy (vs. 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.”

Sometime after 32 A.D., God’s sovereign judgment would again fall on the Jews again and their city and sanctuary would be destroyed. 

            Can you imagine how disappointing this must have been for Daniel?  First God tells him that the time is almost right for the Jews to return to Jerusalem.  Then he revealed that it would take some time for the city and temple to be rebuilt.  THEN God reveals that it will ALL be destroyed yet again.  This “good-news, bad-news” thing never seems to stop!

            We know from history that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 A.D. under Emperor Titus. 

            Notice the wording The people of the ruler who will come….” One theological position sees the “ruler who is to come” as the Roman Emperor Titus.  The premill camp see that ruler as the antichrist and the emphasis being upon “the people” of the ruler, namely the Romans and Titus who destroyed Jerusalem.  For both, this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.


What happened OR happens next? 

Well, that all depends on whether or not you think all this prophecy has already been fulfilled OR whether the last part of it is still to come and thus there is a GAP of time between the first part of vs. 26 and the second part. 

            If you take the first position, then all this is just describing what happened during the time immediately following Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension.  The problem is, it plays fast and loose with the last 3 ½ years of the last “week” of time.  The Temple really doesn’t get destroyed for another 38 years, not 3.5 as Daniel states. 

I think it makes more sense to see this last “week” of 7 years as the Great Tribulation yet to come prophesied in Revelation (6-18). 

“And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

Yes, Israel will have to be a nation inhabiting Palestine.  Oh wait!  They are.  That happened in 1948 with the establishment of Israel.

And the temple will have to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. That one’s not done yet.  But Jesus’ words about what will occur before his return indicate a rebuilt Temple as well (Mt. 24:15, 21, 29-31; 2 Th. 2:2-4).  And if the Iranians or Islamists have their way and launch a nuclear strike against Israel, the Temple site could very quickly end up clear of the Dome of the Rock and ready for a new Temple.

Yes the Antichrist will have to institute some terrible “abomination” for a period of time (3.5 years?). 


Vs. 26b reads--The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”  It is interesting that in the O.T. prophet Nahum, chapter 1:8, “flood” is the same word used for God’s wrath.  That little phrase “the end” can be translated “his end.”  If that is the case, then Gabriel is telling Daniel that the end of the anti-Christ will come like a flood under God’s wrath.  The book of Revelation is replete with the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth and the anti-Christ during the period of the Great Tribulation. 

Secondly, the timeframe discussed in vs. 27 does not fit an immediate continuation of the events after 32 A.D.  But it does fit well what Jesus said would happen just prior to his second coming (Mt. 24:15-21, 29-31).  Daniel 9:27 says, 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.

Did Jesus enter into a covenant with anyone for just 7 years?  Those who see the “he” here as Jesus say he was simply confirming a covenant already in existence, what they call the “covenant of grace,” sort of an invented idea since the O.T. simply speaks of the Old Covenant of the Mosaic Law God made with his people, Israel, leading up to the Second or “New” covenant Jesus establish through his death, burial and resurrection.  Jesus did “put an end to sacrifice and offering” as far as God was concerned.  But sacrifices in the Temple kept going until 70 A.D. under the Jews.

            I think it is much easier to see this prophesy in vs. 27 as referring to the 7 years of the Great Tribulation and the “he” in the passage as the anti-Christ who is to come, not a Roman ruler who already has come.

APP:  It is not hard to see today just how welcome peace in the Middle East would be and how warmly it would be received if someone were able to broker it.  Israelis today seem more than willing to bargain away territory for the hope of peace.  And the surrounding Islamic world is more than eager to use whatever means necessary to bring the eventual annihilation of the Jews, even a temporarily brokered “peace treaty” of 7 years.  While the antichrist will appear to be the friend of Israel, his second activity presented in vs. 27 will prove him otherwise.  He will put a stop to sacrifices and offering half way through the 7 years.  The fact that he will be able to do so is an indicator of the great authority that he will have in Israel.  His actions will be only the first in a long line of events that will make him the greatest human enemy ever to confront Israel. 

            Here is what Paul had to say about this event in 2 Thess. 2.  “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 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.”

            Daniel speaks of this action with his words in 9:27—“And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

That phrase, “an abomination that   causes desolation,” could really be translated “an extreme or superlative abomination.”  Jerusalem and its Temple have seen many abominations.  The Babylonians committed an abomination against the Temple when they destroyed it in 586 B.C.  You’ll remember from our study of chapter 7 that Antiochus Epiphanes performed a pretty horrible abomination when he spread pigs blood all over the temple and rededicated it to Zeus in 171 B.C.  The Romans did a pretty good job in 70 A.D. of destroying the Temple again.  But this abomination that the Antichrist will commit against the future Temple and God’s chosen nation, the Jews, will be the worst of all these abominations.

This is precisely where the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 will be SO critical.  Listen to what Jesus told his Jewish disciples when they asked him “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Truly there is some VERY bad news still to come for the chosen people of God, Israel. 


APP:  So what is to be our response?  May I suggest a few things?

  1. If we are truly people of this Book, then we must be prepared to be people of the whole Book.  As much as I would love to say that God’s plans for His people don’t sometimes include tremendous suffering, His word does not allow us to do so.  God’s plan and decrees for the future are both comforting and disturbing.  Therefore, we must learn to live with the tension of both the blessings and the disasters God has decreed will come upon even his own people.  C.S. Lewis wrote about so well in the conversation between the children and Mr. and Ms. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when he Mr. Beaver chides the children for thinking Aslan is “safe.” 

““Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  

If we are to have a faith that is fit for the end times, we need a faith that is sturdy enough to carry us through the bad times.  We must learn to live with the tension of serving the only perfectly “good” being in the universe who allows in his decrees for very bad things to happen even to his children.  Our faith must grow up into a maturity that matches God’s prophecy.

ILL:  According to Christianity Today, there have been, on average, about 160,000 Christians killed for their faith every year in the 21st century.  So every 3.5 minutes, one of our brothers or sisters dies for calling Jesus their Lord and Savior.  While we’ve sat here today, some 20 people have been slaughtered for their love for Jesus.  But as long as it’s not happening in America, we’re not too concerned about it, are we?  It’s time for the Western church to grow its theology of suffering and sacrifice if we are to take our place in the church in the last days.


  1. God has given us very specific and yet hard-to-understand prophecies about the future.  I think He has done that because he wants us to a.) study the Scriptures diligently, b.) seek Him prayerfully and c.) hold onto our interpretations of prophecy humbly.  May we never be guilty of speaking ill of another child of God who differs with us about the interpretation of end time events.  There is plenty of room in prophetic history for difference of interpretation about prophetic future. 

But that does not absolve us of responsibility to know the times and seasons we live in prophetically now.


  1. 3.      The study of prophecy must turn us into people of prayer.   Listen to what Jesus challenged his disciples with when he told them what was still to come in Mt. 24:42ff. 

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

            Daniel’s response to concern about the future was one thing:  PRAYER…fervent, humble, protracted, life-altering prayer.  When Jesus and the disciples faced the worst hours of their lives as Jesus was betrayed, he asked them to “watch and pray.”  That’s what prayer will do for us—it will give us a connection with God that will equip us for life in a world that hates God. 

            Daniel also responded by communicating the truth of God with everyone around him willing to listen.  Equally, God, our Master, has “put us in charge of the servants in his household” (vs. 45).  Each of us have people we influence.  Every person we will ever meet needs spiritual “food at the proper time.”  Jesus called US to be compassionate, caring servants in his household who pass along spiritual truth/food at the proper time. 

As our world hurtles faster and faster towards the horrible events of the end times, we are called to engage those around us in conversations about what God has foretold.  Let’s start telling people this is what God said would happen.  Let’s start asking them if they know what God has said will happen some day in the Middle East.  Let’s start praying for opportunities to bring them the only “food” that will satisfy the soul of any person—the Bread and Water of Life, Jesus Christ our Lord.