Thinking Through Things to Come :: by Gene Lawley

One of the big questions in the back of people’s minds is, “If Jesus is going to come, why hasn’t He?” In Peter’s second epistle, after he reminds us that the holy prophets and he and the other Apostles have spoken of these things, he writes this:

“…Knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they werefrom the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Scoffers would speak of this in derision and denial, but it is not an unreasonable question for the honest inquirer. We are encouraged to search the Scriptures for the hidden treasures that are there. And God says to all, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all yourheart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

The intensity of that position God takes on, opening Himself up to mankind, is magnified in how Jesus cautioned His disciples and later followers: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6).  Sincere seeks for truth are not snuffed out and shuffled to the sideline, as Jesus’ attitude in Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20 assures us:

“A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.”

Surely thoughtful prophecy students have recognized that if Jesus had come in A.D. 1325, for example, what would have happened to the promises God had made which had not yet come to pass? A prime example of that is the promise given to Israel that while they had been scattered among the nations of the world, they would one day be restored to their promised land. That did not happen until May 14, 1948.

Once that event happened, end time events began to fall into place, and the subject of prophecy began to gain new intensity. Of course, this seeming delay in the coming again of Jesus fits in real well for the doctrine of the Preterists who maintain that the end-time prophecies were fulfilled in the first century, at the crucifixion of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70. (Some have looked upon those positions and observed that “denial” is not a river in Egypt in this case.)

The springboard Scripture seems to be Luke 21:28, where Jesus declares this:

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

And He goes right into what is called the “parable of the fig tree” that describes new life and a new era:

“Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31).

The connecting phrases are, in v. 28, “your redemption draws near,” and in vv. 29-31, “know that the kingdom of God is near.” Israel is called  “God’s timepiece” in spite of the continuous onslaught against that small nation as being of no consequence in world matters. But without question it is the focal point of international attention, even as a subtle presence when problems of radical Islamic terrorism erupt in any of the Middle Eastern nations.

An incident not yet having occurred is spoken of in Daniel 9:25-27, a prophecy that touches on the place of the “fig tree” in future events:

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandto restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall,even in troublesome times.

“And after the sixty-two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.

“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”

Now let’s think through these three verses:

·         The count for the seventy weeks in Daniel’s prophecy began with the commandment to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah;

·         It would be a total of 69 weeks of years until the Messiah would come, the first Advent of Christ. A meticulous tracking of this time, in terms of years, is done by a British researcher, Sir Robert Anderson. [1]

·         The Messiah would be “cut off,” that is, crucified for the sins of mankind, not for Himself.

·         Then, the people from whom a later “prince” would arise, would conquer the city of Jerusalem and destroy it and its sanctuary (temple).

·         This was in A.D. 70 when the Roman legions under Titus stormed the city, destroying it and the temple. This reference and that of Jesus in Matthew 24:1-2 do not elaborate on any kind of spiritual blasphemy by Titus and the Romans. Titus did not take a position of deity in the temple, proclaiming himself as God. Jesus described how that glitter of gold between the stones of the temple buildings lured the Romans to take it apart, stone by stone, just as Jesus predicted.

·         From A.D. 70 until A.D. 136 the Jews resisted a flood of  warring legions intent on fulfilling, though without awareness, God’s promise to scatter the Jews throughout the whole earth.

·         The resulting desolation lasted some eighteen hundred years, until May 14, 1948, when Israel again reclaimed its kingdom and its deserts began to bloom like a rose;

·         Yet to come about is the content of v. 27, where “he” of the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary will confirm a covenant with many, apparently for Israel’s benefit, for a period of seven years—one week, to make up that total of 70 weeks of years in Daniel’s vision.

·         Why is it for Israel? Half way through the week—three and one-half years—that “prince” will void the agreement and enter the temple and declare himself God, thus bringing abomination into the holy place.

·         This means that in that first half of the week a new temple will have been constructed and religious services will have been carried out by the Jews therein (Revelation 11:1-2).

None of this latter part has come to pass, but preparations for temple service have been extensive and pinpointing the exact location of the new temple is being refined.

The keynote issue is the confirmation of a covenant that Daniel foresaw. The recent Paris Agreement on Climate Change where 196 or so nations came together in an agreement may illustrate how this covenant will come about, that the United Nations will be the “many” who will join that rising personage who aspires to be king of the world and settle the dust of Israeli-Islamic confirmation for at least seven years.

Mentally lay this seven-year period down beside the seven years of “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and figure out where the hallway point is in Revelation 6 to 19. The continuity from the covenant confirmation to the man on the white horse riding onstage with a bow but no arrows, yet “conquering and to conquer” is a natural follow-up for that confirmation (Revelation 6).

It looks like the mid-point is at the beginning of chapter 13, and in chapter 17 we see where that “prince” of Roman heritage and also the confirmer of the covenant assumes total control and declares himself God as the eighth head of the beast.

However, other things must happen before that point in time. Paul writes of that lawless one assuming the place of God in the temple—which has not been rebuilt—and speaks of believers being taken out of the way before that desecration of the temple can occur. See 2 Thessalonians 2. Much more detail of that mysterious transformation is given in 1 Thessalonians 4:1- to 5:3, however, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.

A possible link to the confirmation of a covenant is in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 where Paul writes this:

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

Who will, most likely, cry out “Peace and safety!” when a peace covenant is made that seems to assure them freedom to relax their security alertness and war-minded existence, to rebuild their temple and freely worship as they have not done in centuries? The Jews of Israel, of course.

It is not clear that that cry is uttered in reference to that covenant, but if it is, then the remaining question is, when is it uttered—at the announcement of an agreement to be signed or when the actual signing takes place?

But it is clear that when that cry is made, it sparks an action that begins the Day of the Lord, the beginning of those days of judgment in the seven years of the Tribulation period. It will be quietly, without fanfare, just as a thief appears in the night. At that moment, the One who comes will take away what He has come for—those who are His purchased possession—and sudden destruction will immediately begin. The Rapture will have occurred!

Things to come will do so at God’s appointed times; therefore, Jesus says, “watch, for you do not know at what hour your Lord may come.”


[1]  Sir Robert Anderson