To be honest, I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the future.
I know the very end result, and I know some of the things that are going to happen along the way. But to fill in all the gaps I would have to do a lot of speculation.
Instead of doing that, I’m just going to lead you through what the Bible says and see what you conclude for yourself.
Before we do that though let’s establish a rule. If any passage in the Bible makes any sense at all when it’s read literally, then we’ll read it literally and see where that takes us.
If we don’t have that rule, then it becomes up to us what is literal and what is figurative, and we will end up believing whatever we want to believe. That’s a very dangerous way to read the Bible.
Usually I don’t do this, but I have added links to most of the passages I make reference to in this article. That’s because I actually want to make sure you go and read them. This is a long article. Read it when you have time to do the whole thing in one go. And read it when you have time to read the Bible passages as you encounter them.
OK, let’s start by reading Daniel 2
The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and asked his advisors to interpret it.
Btw: he said, interpret it or die! But it’s pretty easy to make up some meaning for a dream if you know the person right...
But this time, he said, interpret it without me telling you what it was. Tough! But not for Daniel, because he asked God.
So, the king dreamed of a huge statue, with a head of gold, a chest of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze and legs of iron and feet of iron and clay mixed together. God told Daniel, that the head was king Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom in all it’s glory. He alone ruled most of the known world at the time. By matching this dream up with the vision Daniel himself had (in Chapter 7
), and the interpretation Gabriel gave him in Chapter 8
, we know that the silver chest represented the Mede and Persian empire which came after Nebuchadnezzar. The bronze abdomen represented the Greeks (Alexander the Great and his four generals) who would come after them. And finally, nobody in the Bible says so, but we know that the next empire that came along was the Romans, so presumably the iron legs represented them.
But, what is that rock? Cut out of a mountain but not by human hands? God? Jesus? Just a rock?
Somehow, after the Roman empire has decayed into disunity, or whatever is meant by it becoming an interweaving of iron and clay, this rock will strike the kingdoms of the world and establish a kingdom that will never fade away.
Now that hasn’t happened yet has it. I’m sure if there was only one permanent kingdom on the planet we would know. This is still in the future. But when?
That’s one piece of the puzzle. It’s probably opened up more questions than answers, but let’s continue.
Read Zechariah 14
Btw: when the Old Testament says LORD all in capitals like that, it’s because they were too scared to write Yahweh. You remember that the Jewish Law included one rule, not to misuse the name of God. So they decided the safest way to do that was to never use the name of God at all. Ridiculous. So they would say “Lord” whenever the Scriptures had God’s name (Yahweh). The guys who translated the Septuagint followed that rule too. And then for some reason, our modern translators thought it was a good idea. I don’t. I always change it back.
OK, so Zechariah got a message about “The Day of Yahweh”. But read it. All the nations of the world gather around Jerusalem in a final battle. Yahweh himself wipes them out with something that sounds like radiation sickness. And then establishes his kingdom in Jerusalem and all the nations of the world come up year after year to worship him there.
Again, pretty sure that’s never happened. Pretty sure that this is still somewhere in the future.
Interesting too that Jesus was standing on the Mount of Olives just before he ascended into heaven, and just before the angels said to the disciples that Jesus would come back in the same way the disciples saw him go. Do you think this “Day of Yahweh” could be the same as Jesus’ second coming? Jesus standing again on the Mt of Olives. Could it also be the same as the rock hitting the iron and clay feet in Daniel?
Let’s go back to Daniel. Have another read of Daniel 7
This time, Daniel himself has a dream. But it’s a nightmare. Four animals devouring the inhabitants of the earth before them. And the fourth beast was unlike anything Daniel had ever seen before. It had 10 horns, and then one horn that could even speak. And it tried to oppress God’s saints, and to change the times and laws. Perhaps even the Jewish system of sacrifices and offerings?
But again, Jesus comes before the Ancient of Days and is given power and authority to destroy the beast and to establish a kingdom without end.
Now, depending on which translation you have, either the times and laws, or the “saints” are given into the beast’s hand for a time, times and half a time. (interesting expression, I wonder what that means).
But again, it seems there is going to be some future event where the “Son of Man” is given authority and a literal kingdom is established on earth.
Now, let’s jump around one more time in Daniel to chapter 9. (Later on, make sure you read the whole book. I assume you’ve read the whole Bible at least once right?). So, Daniel 9
. This time Daniel receives a vision from the angel Gabriel. Wow. Something about seventy “sevens”. Is that weeks? that’s the most obvious “seven” right?
Sweet, so Daniel’s thinking, after that decree it will be 70 weeks and we’re out of here. (Although Daniel had just finished reading Jeremiah and understood from what God told Jeremiah that they were going to be in Babylon for 70 years. So it’s not likely to be weeks...)
And look at what happens at the end of the 70 “sevens”. The city and the sanctuary will be destroyed by the ruler that is to come. (But the city and sanctuary are already destroyed when Daniel has this visit). Wars, desolation, the confirming of a covenant for one “seven”. And then, and end to sacrifice and offering. An abomination on the temple.
Then, an end to sin, everlasting righteousness, no more vision or prophecy, and the most holy is anointed. This is a big event.
Btw: in the book of Daniel he is told to seal up some prophecies and visions so nobody can see them, so I assume that when his vision includes a statement that vision and prophecy will be sealed up, that it means they will come to an end.
But that sounds a bit like before right? Eternal kingdom, Jesus as king, ...
And if a “seven” means 7 years, then maybe “time, times and half a time” might also mean a year, 2 years and half a year, i.e. 3½ years. And then the ruler that tries to rearrange sacrifices, laws and offerings, might be stopped half way though the 7 years. What’s that about? Hmm...
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, but they seem to be fitting together a little.
Jesus mentions this vision himself (in Matthew 24) and tells the people, “when you see the abomination that causes desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel... run.”
It’s still future, but it’s going to happen.
Now this vision has a clearly defined starting point - the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. But when was that decree made?
There is a lot of debate around these dates. There were a few different decrees.
In Ezra 1, we read that the Jews were given permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple in the first year of Cyrus (538BC), after he conquered Babylon. But I don’t think that can be it, that was just to rebuild the temple wasn’t it?
The Jewish historian Josephus says that Cyrus also gave Ezra permission to rebuild the city too. So, maybe this was it?
But certainly no messiah came 483 years after that.
80 years later, in Ezra 7, in the 7th year of Artaxerxes (457BC), Ezra was given permission to re-establish law and order in Jerusalem. Is that it? I’m not sure.
Finally, in Nehemiah 2, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes (446BC) we read that Nehemiah was given permission to go back and rebuild the walls of the city. But is that it?
According to how we think we should interpret the vision in Daniel 9, 483 years after the decree to rebuild, the Anointed One should come and be cut off. How does that fit with what we know about Jesus?
As close as we can tell, Jesus was born around 8-6BC. There was a census in 8AD, and King Herod died in 4BC. And we know that Joseph and Mary had already fled to Egypt before Herod died, because they returned to Nazareth when they heard that Herod was dead.
And we know Jesus was probably a little under 2 when the magi visited because Herod tried to have all the babies under 2 killed (not just the newborns). So Jesus was most likely born, somewhere between 8BC and 6BC. With the magi visiting sometime in the next year or two.
We know he was about 30 years old when started his ministry. And Luke says that John the Baptist started his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius, and that would be 28AD. So that all fits well enough. Jesus would have been early to mid-thirties by then. And then his ministry was about 3 years (well, he went to Jerusalem for 3 Passovers that we know of, so at least 3 years). So that means that Jesus died on the cross probably around 30-34AD.
Now, because Passover can vary from year to year and be on different days, it comes down to what day you think Jesus died. If you go with tradition and assume it was a Friday, then Jesus must have died in either AD30, or AD33. But it is not spelled out in the Bible that it was a Friday. It only mentions the day of preparation (for the Passover Sabbath), but the Passover Sabbath was not necessarily, in fact not even usually, on a Saturday. To me it seems much more likely that Jesus died on a Thursday, and therefore I would assume he died in AD31.
But none of the decrees that we know of, (assuming they occurred on the dates we think they did), end up being 483 years before either 28AD or 31AD. Some of them are close, but not quite.
Some people have proposed that Nehemiah’s decree was actually given in 453BC. That would get us to 31AD if we add 483 years. Some people try to fit it by saying that prophetic years were only 360 days, but that doesn’t make sense to me. A year is a year. And the Jews used to add a month every few years to get things lined back up again.
But it could come down to us not exactly understanding which events Daniel is talking about with the vision. Or scholars being mistaken about exactly when kings came to power in certain areas. I do believe the Bible is literally correct, so it must fit somehow.
But then regardless of exactly when the 483 years started, if Jesus’ death on the cross was the “cutting off of the Anointed One” and the end of the 7x7’s and the 62x7’s then 7 years later it should all be over. So by 38AD we should have seen an end to sin, everlasting righteousness (actually we kind of did, Jesus defeated sin, and we do have righteousness), but also the sealing up of prophecy and visions. And of course, half way through that period we should have seen some abomination set up on the temple.
But we didn’t.
Prophecy and vision certainly continued at least through the period of the Acts of the Apostles.
Somehow it looks like this last “seven” just didn’t happen.
So what’s going on?
We have all these “final days” kind of prophecies but somehow they just aren’t happening.
Somehow God is taking us right up to the edge, and hitting “Pause”.
Now we get to “I think”. Feel free to think differently.
I think that God interrupted his plans for the Jews to bring salvation to the Gentiles. Paul says that one day the number of the Gentiles will be complete and Jesus will return like a flash of lightening. And the dead in Christ will be raised to their imperishable bodies, and we will be changed in the blink of an eye into our imperishable bodies and we will join him in the air to be with him forever.
Then... I think God will go back to his plans for the Jews. They rejected his Messiah so he offered salvation to the Gentiles and created the church. But those days will end and God will return to his people to deal with them one final time.
But it won’t last long. Just 7 years and it will be over. Then Jesus will reign from Jerusalem until the end of the earth.
When will it be? No idea. But for these prophecies to be fulfilled obviously Israel has to be an actual nation. And for almost the last 2000 years they weren’t. It’s only after World War II that they legally became a nation again. And only since 1965 that they have controlled Jerusalem. Looks to me like something’s happening. Looks like someone is setting the stage ready for the final act. I don’t know when, but I think it will be soon. I’m convinced that it will be in my lifetime.
So, if you accept that there will be a future 7 year period of amazing events at the end of which Jesus himself will deliver Israel in amazing fashion and set up his earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. Then read What About Us?
to see what I think the New Testament teaches us about end times and how that relates to the church.
If you don’t think I’m right, then please do two things: read the whole of Daniel and then email me.