He will confirm the covenant with many for one ’seven.’ In the middle of the ’seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
Judah’s King Hezekiah had become deathly ill during the reign of the Assyrian King Sennacherib. But when he prayed for recovery the Lord agreed to extend his life by 15 years, confirming His promise to defeat the King of Assyria at the same time. As a sign of this confirmation, He had Hezekiah watch as the shadow caused by the sun reversed course and went back up 10 steps on the stairway of Ahaz (Isaiah 38:1-8).
After Hezekiah had recovered Merodach-Baladan, the King of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a gift to congratulate him on his return to good health. In a reckless display of hospitality, Hezekiah took them on a grand tour of the palace, showing them everything including the armory and the treasury. “There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them” (Isaiah 39:2)
Isaiah conveyed the Lord’s displeasure. “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty,” he said. “The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
“The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.” (Isaiah 39:5-8)
About 100 years later, Nebuchadnazzer fulfilled this prophecy on his way home from defeating the combined forces of Assyria and Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish. Remembering the stories he’d heard of Israel’s wealth as a boy, he surrounded Jerusalem. Taking Daniel and other princes of Israel hostage, and completely stripping the temple and the treasury of its wealth, he carried everything off to Babylon. Daniel and his three friends, known to us as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were castrated and made administrators in Nebuchadnezzar’s government.
Hezekiah knew this wasn’t going to happen immediately and, in the short-term thinking common to politicians of his day and ours, was comforted that the consequences of his ill advised actions wouldn’t be felt during his reign, even though they would be partly responsible for the nation’s eventual downfall.
What’s Going On Here?
By now you’re wondering why I’ve put these prophecies of Isaiah 39 (fulfilled) and Daniel 9 (still in the future) together. Well, in the Isaiah passage we see the typical politician’s mentality of making short term decisions without taking their long term consequences into consideration. They convince themselves that by separating the cause from the effect, they won’t be blamed if things don’t turn out well.
As an example of how this works today, the practice of granting government backed mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them really had its beginnings in the Carter administration. It was a social experiment that proved to be financially unsound. Ignoring the dire predictions of experts, President Clinton dramatically expanded this program and every president since then continued to support it. But in most peoples’ minds, do they share the blame for the financial meltdown this program triggered, or was it just the guy in office when it happened?
As for Daniel’s prophecy, its importance here rests in the word “confirm”. The Hebrew word literally means to strengthen, as in making it binding. It means the coming ruler won’t negotiate this covenant, he’ll just give it the force of law. This implies that at least the general points of the agreement will already be in place.
Here’s where it gets interesting. This has not been announced in the main stream media yet, but there is a hint in diplomatic circles that the goal for this round of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians might be an agreement in principle that will be executed later. One editorial I read said the implementation could follow the agreement by as much as 10 years.
It may be just coincidence, but 10 years is the maximum duration permitted in Islam for a peace treaty with a stronger enemy. Such treaties are only allowed for the purpose of buying time to acquire enough additional strength to defeat the enemy, and while they can be broken as soon as sufficient strength is achieved, they can’t last more than than 10 years.
Followers of Islam point to Muhammad’s Treaty of Hudaybiya as their example. It resulted from his contention with the more powerful Quraysh of Mecca that forced him to leave the city and take refuge in nearby Medina in 622 AD. According to Arabic history Muhammad had dramatically increased the strength of his forces by 628 but instead of attacking offered the Quraysh a 10 year treaty of peace, to which they agreed. 22 months later when the opportunity presented itself he attacked and conquered the unsuspecting city. Yasser Arafat used this example to justify his diplomatic policy whenever he was criticized by the Arab nations for offering ”concessions” to Israel.
I’m just offering conjecture at this point, but given 1) the propensity for politicians to make agreements that ignore future consequences, 2) the Islamic justification for breaking treaties when it suits them, 3) the wording of Daniel’s prophecy, and 4) our presence in the End Times, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see something like this happen as a result of the current talks.
Keep in mind, the treaty doesn’t have to be for 10 years in order to meet the Islamic requirement, that’s just the maximum amount of time allowed. It could just as easily be for 7 years.
The Current Situation
So here’s the current situation. On one hand, the world is becoming ever more insistent in its demand for peace in the Middle East. But peace is impossible to achieve under the current circumstances. None of the parties involved in these negotiations can bring peace to the Middle East. Those who could make it happen weren’t invited to the talks and don’t want peace, but don’t think they’re strong enough to go to war yet. Therefore an illusion of peace has to be created, allowing them the time they need to become strong enough to attack, just like Muhammad showed them.
With the illusion in place the US negotiators can go home proclaiming peace where there is no peace (Ezekiel 13:10). Like Hezekiah, they’ll comfort themselves with the hope that they won’t be blamed when the shooting starts, not realizing that their ongoing betrayal of Israel will be partly responsible for America’s demise.
An illusion of peace is the best available outcome for these talks, and to achieve even that, Israel will have to be made less able to defend itself when the day for war arrives, as it inevitably will. From the very beginning, experts have been warning that the final outcome of the Middle East peace talks will be war.
The Bible says a false peace will precede war in the Middle East. Through a series of events such as preliminary battles (Psalm 83, Isaiah 17) and meaningless peace agreements the Israelis will come to believe the threats to their national security have been removed, and they’ll let down their guard. A that point a coalition of Moslem nations will attack with such force that nothing short of God’s direct intervention will save them. But He will intervene and Israel’s enemies will be defeated (Ezekiel 38).
That’s when a powerful man will come forward with the suggestion that it’s time to enforce a covenant that’s already been negotiated between the combatants. This time the world will be convinced that real and lasting peace has finally come, and this man will be hailed as a great peace maker, unlike any the world has ever seen (Daniel 8:25).
Will the agreement currently being negotiated be the foundation on which this coming world leader will restore peace after the Battle of Ezekiel 38? That’s not for us to know. But given the times we’re in we shouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that way.
Alas our story doesn’t end here because, as it is with the current talks, the peace brought about by this great leader will also turn out to be false and will bring Israel into the worst time in their history, the worst time in the history of the world.
After presenting himself as their savior, he’ll turn out to be their destroyer and once again they’ll find themselves on the brink of utter defeat. That’s when the Lord will pour out His spirit of grace and supplication, Israel’s eyes will be opened to their true Messiah, and He will again intervene on their behalf to destroy their enemies (Zechariah 12:10, 14:3). This time the peace will be real and the remnant of Israel will be ushered into their glorious Kingdom Age.