666 and Mark of the Beast

By Kent Crockett

Revelation 13:16-18 says, "And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." There are three things mentioned in this passage:

1. The mark of the beast

2. The name of the beast

3. The number of his name
The Mark of the Beast is not 666, but a mark that everyone must have to buy or sell. This mark may be some kind of computer chip or code, but it probably won't be "666."

666 is the number of the Beast's name. The number of the beast is the number of a man. That means that the beast is not a political system, a country, a computer, etc., but a man--the Antichrist.

This verse teaches that the Antichrist will control the world's economy with some kind of mark, which everyone will be required to take. No one will be able to buy or sell without having the mark on his or her right hand or forehead. Whoever worships the Antichrist and receives the mark will be cast into hell (Rev. 14:9-11). (The mark is not credit cards, in case you are wondering.)

The Antichrist's name can be calculated to be 666. We assume that means the letters of his name can be calculated to add up to the numerical sum of 666. He has not come to power yet, but when he does this is one way of figuring out who he is. He will confirm a covenant with Israel for 7 years (Dan. 9:27) and will attempt to make alterations in time and in law (Dan. 7:25)

The Feast of Tabernacles in the Millennial Kingdom

By Randall Price

Once Messiah has returned to earth as King and established His Messianic Kingdom, with its center at the gloriously rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem (Zech. 6:12-15; 8:3; Ezek. 40-48; Matt. 19:28; 25:31-32; Rev. 20:4), the festival calendar will be resumed as predicted by the prophet Ezekiel: "They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts, and sanctify My sabbaths" (Ezek. 44:24; cf. Zeph. 3:18). However, of the seven feasts of the Lord only the Feast of Tabernacles has its typical fulfillment in the Millennium as a demonstration of God's restoration program for Israel in keeping with the terms of the Abrahamic and New Covenants. These covenants promised safe territorial boundaries to Israel where it would serve spiritually as a blessing and witness to the Gentile nations (Gen. 12:2-3; 15:18; Isa. 2:2-4; 60:3; Jer. 32:37-41; 33:16; Ezek. 37:25-28).

Confirmation of a Millennial setting for this feast is evident from its many messianic and prophetic features which could only be realized in the time of Israel's future redemption and restoration. For example, the term "tabernacles" (Hebrew, succot; Greek, skene) has its meaning as part of a restoration promise of God to return to earth and "tabernacle" with Israel in a way never before experienced in history: "Thus says the Lord, 'I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem ..." (Zech. 8:3a); "I will set My Sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them ... (Ezek. 37:26-27); "the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders" (Isa. 24:23). While this "tabernacling" with Israel will take the form of God's renewed presence in the Temple, the prophet Isaiah indicates that a greater display of this will be witnessed than at any time or at Temple in the past: "Then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy" (Isa. 4:5). The "canopy" (Hebrew, huppah) of God's glory in this verse is stated in the next verse to be a "tabernacle (Hebrew, sukkah) from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain." This wording is intended to connect the past experience of deliverance (from the Pharaoh in Egypt) and temporary man-made shelters (Lev. 23:42-43) with the future deliverance (from the Antichrist in the Tribulation) and permanent God-given sanctuary. Ezekiel depicts the method of this future "tabernacling" with the return of God's Shekinah Glory to the Temple (Ezek. 43:1-7), while Jeremiah's reveals its result as Jerusalem becomes "the Throne of the Lord, and all the nations will be gathered to it..." (Jer. 3:17).

Such a divine preview of this future "tabernacling glory" was given to correct Peter's limited concept of building temporary "tabernacles" for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-5; Mk. 9:2-7; Lk. 9:28-35). Indeed later Jewish interpretation saw in the reference to "tabernacles" not only the Israelites temporary shelters in the wilderness but also the divine sukkah (the Shekinah) which had "brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Lev. 23:43). In this way they connected the Feast of Tabernacles with the promise that God's presence would dwell with Israel in the future as it had in the past (Hag. 2:5-9; cf. Zeph. 3:15c).

In a similar way Jesus had made this connection in His own Person as the "Word become flesh tabernacling among us" (Jn. 1:14). At the Feast of Tabernacles He combined two of the messainic symbols of the feast - the water libation and the light of the candelabras in the Temple precinct - to illustrate the fulfillment in Himself of the promised restoration of Israel under Messiah in the Millennial Age. The significance of this was displayed on the final day (seventh day) of this feast is known as Hoshana Rabbah (The Day of the "Great Hosanna), taken from liturgical passages recited throughout the feast which begin with the Hebrew imperative hoshana ("save now").

At this time the people waved their lulavs (palm branches) while the Levites chanted the Hallel (Pss. 113-118). The name of this day - Hosanna - comes from the closing words of Psalm 118 which reads: "Save now, I beseech Thee, O Lord... Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord..." This prayer for the speedy advent of messianic redemption accompanied a special ceremony known as the "water-drawing festival" (Hebrew, simhat bet hassoevah). At this ceremony water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam in a ceremony known as) and poured on the corner of the Altar in the Temple as a libation offering. Its purpose was in connection with prayers for the annual rains, but also had symbolic messianic connections. It was here at the Siloam (Hebrew, Shiloach, "He sent") that the fuller's had washed their clothing (Isa. 7:3), a figure drawn upon by the prophets to illustrate the messianic purification of the Millennial Temple's servants (see Mal. 3:2-3).

Here, too, the Prophet Isaiah had challenged Ahaz to trust God not man and revealed a messianic sign (Isa. 7:7-14). Succot also celebrates God's provision of refuge in the wilderness and recalls His prophetic promise of rescue at the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer. 30:7), and restoration in the future kingdom of Messiah. This water was taken to the Temple and poured over the corner of the Altar, a ritual based on an oral tradition that dated to the time of Moses (Ta'anit 3a, Succot 44b, 44a). The significance of the pouring of water was both symbolic and prophetic. Its symbolic purpose was a prayer for rain, since the summer was about to end and the rainy season begin.

This prayer for rain demonstrated Israel's dependence upon the Lord, an act of faith that will be required of all nations in connection with this ceremony in the Millennial Temple (Zech. 14:16-19). Its prophetic purpose was messianic, looking forward to the outpouring of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh ("the Holy Spirit") upon Israel and the nations under the New Covenant in the Kingdom Age (Ezek. 36:27; Joel 2:28).

This ceremony forms the background for Jesus' arrival at the feast as described in Matthew 21:9 and John 7:37-39 riding into the Temple precinct through the Eastern Gate entrance, greeted by shouts of Hosanna, "Save us please!", and then proclaiming to the crowds that He was the true giver of the "water" and the "light" of the world (Jn. 7:37-38; 8:12). On this day during Temple times willow branches were beaten against the pavement next to the Great Altar to symbolize the casting away of the nation's sins. In addition, at this time Israel's return to blessing will include the spiritual instruction and blessing of the nations, who will join with them in the ongoing celebration of Succot (Zech. 14:16-19).

It is also significant that the Scripture portion from the Prophets read in the synagogue on the Sabbath during the Feast of Tabernacles is Ezekiel chapter 38 which deals with the future battle of Gog and Magog in which the Lord miraculously preserves Israel in an end-time war.

The use of "tabernacle" also recalls the famous prophecy of the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom ("the tabernacle of David") given in Amos 9:11: "After these things I will return and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins and I will restore it, in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name ..." The fulfillment of this prophecy, as explained in Acts 15:14-18, will take place after the full number of Gentiles has been grafted onto the olive tree (in keeping with the blessing of the Gentiles in the Abrahamic Covenant) through faith" (Rom. 11:25) at the completion of the Church Age.

those Gentiles (of the sheep nations, who came to faith in the Jewish Messiah during the time of Jacob's Trouble, see Matt. 25:34-40) will join with redeemed Israelites in the true worship of God. In addition, the apostle John specifically used the imagery of the Feast of Tabernacles in relation to the Tribulation martyrs from among the nations. He depicted these Gentiles as having "palm branches" and "serving in His Temple" while God "spreads His tabernacle over them" and Jesus "guides them to springs of living water" (Rev. 7:9-17). Such Gentile inclusion was anticipated by the alternate name for the feast as "the Feast of Ingathering" (Exodus 23:15-16) and demonstrated during the feast in Second Temple times as Jewish men took part in a Temple ritual where seventy sacrifices were offered in atonement for the sins of the nations that had come from the sons of Noah. The prophets cited this future inclusion of Gentile nations, who formerly oppressed Israel, but will become a part of the worshipping community, as one of the evidences of the changed conditions under Messiah's New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).

For example, Zechariah states that "many nations will join themselves to Lord in that day and will become My people ..." (Zech. 2:11), while Isaiah describes the Millennial Temple as "a house of prayer for all the peoples" (Isa. 56:7; cf. Matt. 21:12; Mk. 11:17; Lk. 19:46) to which all of the nations of the earth will come to learn the ways of the Lord (Isa. 2:2c-3; 60:3; 62:2), to behold God's glory (Isa. 60:3; 62:2; 66:18), offer sacrifices (Isa. 56:6; 66:20) and to pay material tribute (Isa. 60: 5; 66:18-19; cf. Hag. 2:7-8; Zech. 8:22; Rev. 21:24).

This last reference to Gentile payment of tribute also forms the subject of the only explicit mention of the Feast of Tabernacles in a Millennial context: "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zech. 14:16). This statement is part of the conclusion to a section of Zechariah (chs. 12-14) which detail the Gentile invasion of Jerusalem during the campaigns of Armageddon. In the immediate context (ch. 14) a summary of events reveal prophetic aspects predicted by the feast: (1) the advent of Messiah (vss. 3-4), the rescue and restoration of the Jewish Remnant (vs. 5; cf. Lk. 21:27-28), the experience of heaven-sent light and living water (vss. 7-8), the recognition of Messiah as universal King (vs. 9), the transformation of Jerusalem (vs. 10), and the gathering of the wealth of the Gentile nations (vs. 14).

Those who are addressed as being obligated to observe the Feast of Tabernacles in verse 14 are the remnants of the Gentile nations who were previously allied with the Antichrist in the war against the Holy City (Zech. 12:3, 9; 14:2, 12; cf. Rev. 19:19; Psa. 2:1-3). Although those in the armies who were present in the battle will have been destroyed by a deadly plague (vss. 12-13), others will remain in these countries to appear before Messiah's judgment seat at the conclusion of the conflict (Matt. 25:31-32). Those who converted to Messiah and His rule (Rev. 15:3-4), as evidenced by their costly compassion to the Jewish Remnant (Matt. 25:35-40) will continue into the Millennial Kingdom.

Nevertheless, under the rod-of-iron rule of Messiah (Psa. 2:9; Rev. 19:15), representatives of these nations will be required to demonstrate their allegiance to King Messiah by annual appearance at His Throne-City with tribute and material offerings (as token appreciation of divine provision). This act is in accordance with an ancient association of the Feast of Tabernacles with the recognition of the king as God's son, an act alluded to in Psalm 2:10-11: "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry and you perish in the way ..." The ancient observance of the feast was also followed by a levitically-led ceremony of covenant renewal (Neh. 9:1-38) in which a national allegiance to the Lord was reaffirmed (Neh. 10:29). Therefore, a warning is issued in this passage to these national representatives if they should fail to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (vss. 17-19), which would be tantamount to an act of spiritual and national rebellion. Remembering that part of the ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles was in view of receiving rain (specifically the former rains), one punishment for those nations that fail to appear annually in Jerusalem will be a withholding of rain, the very gift which made possible their gifts.

The other punishment will be a plague, which would allow the inclusion of Egypt whose natural productivity depends more on the gift of the Nile than the gift of rains and whose punishment to secure their acknowledgment of Lord's sovereignty during the time of the exodus had been plagues.

The Feast of Tabernacles will serve as the instrument to universally unite these nations in their allegiance to Jesus as King Messiah and Sovereign Lord and Judge (Zech. 14:9, 17; Isa. 2:4) and possibly provide an occasion for the Jewish People to fulfill their destiny as a light to the nations in spiritual instruction to these national representatives (Zech. 8:22-23; Isa. 2:3; cf. Hab. 2:14). Because the nations become vassals of Lord, they have also the right to be called "His people," just as He as their suzerain can be called "their God." This covenantal language of identification ("My people") is absent in Zechariah's presentation of the restored Gentile nations, but it is found elsewhere (cf. Jer. 24:7; 30:22; 31:33; 32:38).

Isaiah elevates the nations of Egypt and Syria to covenantal status (Isa. 19:24-25), making them co-participants in both the obligations and benefits of the Temple (Isa. 19:21; 27:13; 56:6-8; 60:3, 21; 66:20). The tribute gifts required by the nations (mentioned in Zech. 14:14 but not in the Feast of Tabernacles text) are elsewhere described as the spoils of war which Lord as the suzerain (over vassals) has full right to receive. The wealth of the conquered nations will accrue to Messiah's Millennial Temple in such a way as to fill it with abundance (a fitting contrast to Israel's past post-exilic poverty), increasing its splendor and value (Zeph. 3:20; Hag. 2:6-7a, 22).

All that God has purposed and planned through His provision as the Lord of His people will be finally fulfilled and celebrated in the Millennial Feast of Tabernacles. The revelation of this Millennial realization should prompt us to gratefully acknowledge God's gift of Messiah for us today and His constant "tabernacling" with us through His indwelling Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:20b; Eph. 2:22). As the future feast will openly demonstrate the unity of Jew and Gentile as they alike bow to Jesus as their Messiah and Lord, it encourages the Body of Messiah today to foster greater unity among all its members before a watching world (Jn. 17:20-21; Eph. 2:14-18). As we do these things in the present age, we honor the Lord of the feast who will one day tabernacle with us forever: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them" (Rev. 21:3; cf. vs. 22).

Dr. Randall Price is President of World of the Bible Ministries, Inc., an organization that explores and explains the ancient, modern, and prophetic Middle East. For a free subscription to his bi-monthly newsletter please e-mail him at wbmrandl@itouch.net or address him at: P.O.B. 827, San Marcos, TX 78667-0827.

God's Future Program for Israel (Daniel 9)

By Randall Price

No book in the ancient world or the modern is as enigmatic, yet essential, to unlocking the mysteries of the prophetic plan for God's future program for Israel than the book of Daniel. The late seminary president and author Alva J. McClain once declared: "... with reference to its importance, I am convinced that in the predictions of [Daniel's] Seventy Weeks, we have the indispensable chronological key to all New Testament prophecy."1 Daniel's great prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Dan. 9:24-27) is part of the division of his book that records visions of future earthly kingdoms, both human and divine (chapters 7-12).

It belongs to the larger program of future restoration promised to national Israel as a comfort in her captivity (Isa. 40:1-66:24; Jer. 30:1-33:26; Ezek. 33:1-48:35). When the Persian Empire overthrew the Babylonians in 539 BC as predicted (Isa. 41:25-26; 44:26-45:3; Dan. 5:25-31), Daniel realized the day of Israel's release was at hand. This was confirmed for him by Jeremiah's prophecy (Jer. 25:11; 29:10) which had prophesied the exile would last for 70 years (Dan. 9:2). Recognizing that the ultimate fulfillment of restoration depended on national repentance (Jer. 29:10-14), Daniel sought to personally intercede for Israel through a prayer of penitent petition with its focal point of the restoration program - Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (Dan. 9:3-19).

From Daniel's prayer it appears that he expected the immediate and full fulfillment of Israel's restoration with the conclusion of the seventy-year captivity. However, the prophetic revelation brought to him by the archangel Gabriel in response to his petition revealed that the complete fulfillment of the restoration program would be yet future and progressive in nature. Gabriel explained this in terms of divisions of time during which prophetic activity would occur as preparation for the final fulfillment.

Discerning Daniel's Divisions

Gabriel's revelation to Daniel was that the full course of time would extend for "seventy "weeks" (verse 24). These "weeks" are to be understood as weeks of years since Daniel's prayer were based on the years of Jeremiah's prophecy. Therefore, rather than the restoration coming with the return of a remnant of the exiles after the 70 years, it would be 490 years before all that was promised for Israel's future would be performed. This resulting period of 490 years (70 x 7) is divided according to verses 25-27 into periods of seven weeks (49 years), sixty-two weeks (434 years), and one week (7 years).

Dispensational scholarship has traditionally accepted the context of this passage as messianic, with the death of Messiah and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple coming after the sixty-two weeks (i.e., after the 7 weeks + the 62 weeks = 483 years). The final "week,"the "seventieth week" of verse 27 will then be fulfilled when the Temple is rebuilt and desecrated by the abomination of desolation in the Great Tribulation. This interpretation requires that the seventieth week of Daniel be understood as eschatological, that is, having its fulfillment in the end time. That this is the correct understanding can be demonstrated by considering the goals to be met in the fulfillment of the seventy weeks as outlined to Daniel in verse 24.

The Prophetic Plan for Israel

Six goals (six infinitives) serve to establish the time of the prophecy's fulfillment: (1) "to finish the transgression, (2) "to make an end of sins"), (3) "to make atonement for iniquity," (4) "to bring in everlasting righteousness," (5) "to seal up vision and prophecy," (6) "to anoint the most holy [place]." Some commentators argue that although these goals were once future they have now all been fulfilled historically in the first advent of Messiah.

In this case the entire prophecy of the seventy weeks is viewed as being fulfilled consecutively without interruption within the first century. One difficulty with such a past historical interpretation is the fact that with the conclusion to the prophecy in verse 27 no specific answer to the time of the end of captivity had been given to Daniel. Yet it was this was very thing that he was attempting to "understand" (verse 2a; cf. 8:17; 9:23), and the motivation behind his prayer (vs. 19).

This view must find an end to the exile in temporary Jewish revolts, all of which were unsuccessful and ultimately led to the destruction of the city, the Temple and further exile. This, of course, offers no solution to Daniel's specific petition for his people's restoration (which included a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple, vss. 16-19). Furthermore, the climax of Gabriel's promise to Daniel was that the one who would one day desolate the Temple would himself be desolated completely. This did not occur historically with the Roman general Titus who destroyed the Second Temple. Rather, he and his emperor father Vespasian enjoyed the triumph of parading the Temple vessels through the streets of Rome.

On the other hand, a number of factors argue rather for a progressive future fulfillment of these goals in both the first and second advents of Messiah. First, it is crucial to observe those for whom this prophecy is to find fulfillment, namely "your people and your holy city" (verse 24). In other words, the fulfillment of the seventy weeks prophecy must occur with respect to Daniel's "people and city" - national Israel and the city of Jerusalem. In other words, it is not a universal "salvation history" that is being addressed here but the future history of the Jewish People in their historic Land.

Because a Jewish remnant did historically return to Judah as a Nation to resettle the Land and to rebuild Jerusalem, in direct answer to this prayer, and because a Jewish Messiah did come to the Land of Israel to historically "make atonement for iniquity" (Dan. 9:26), these prophetic goals cannot be interpreted other than in terms of literal fulfillment for the same people and place that Daniel knew. Therefore, in context, this excludes finding fulfillment for these six goals with people other than the Jewish People, such as with the church in this age. Looking at the messianic mission to Israel described in these goals can substantiate this.

Messiah's Mission to Israel

The first three goals relate to the sins of national Israel while the final three-goal respect her salvation. Thus the period for the fulfillment of all the goals must be seen in conjunction with Messiah's mission to Israel which historically encompasses both advents. That Messiah is clearly on center stage in this prophecy can be observed by the unambiguous mention of him in verses 25-26.

In verse 24 the terms connected with the first set of goals: "finish" (transgression) and "end" (sin), both look at the culmination of a condition.2 A similar expression is found in an eschatological context in the Dead Sea document known as Pseudo-Daniel (4Q243-245).3 Although in the year that the "Seventy Weeks prophecy" was given, Cyrus freed the Jews, ending their foreign captivity and their unavoidable contact with idolatry and desecration, the remnant that returned to Judah found that idolatry and transgression continued (cf. Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 9:2).

This fact revealed that the prophetic plan was unfulfilled by Israel's return at the end of the seventy years but required the coming of Israel's Messiah to fulfill it in the future. Jewish commentators also held that the final fulfillment of these goals had not been accomplished with the return and restoration under Zerubbabel in 538 BC According to the Jewish commentator Abarbanel, the nature of Israel's sin required not 70 years, but 490 years to complete the sins committed in addition to the violation of the sabbatical law (2 Chronicles 36:21). Other Jewish commentators such as Rashi and Metzudos, held that this referred to a period following the 490 years (which they believed ended with the destruction of the Second Temple): "the last exile whose purpose it will be to terminate [i.e., to atone for] transgression."4

What Daniel's prophecy clearly reveals is that the Messiah came and accomplished the first part of His mission at the time predicted in verses 25-26, that is, 483 years into the 490 years. In the context of verse 26 Messiah's "cutting off" must refer to a death in the same time period as the destruction of "the city [of Jerusalem] and the sanctuary [Temple]," that is, in the late Second Temple period. This was precisely the time expected for the arrival of the Messiah in the rabbinnic sources (see the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 97a-b).

Based on these sources the revered Vilna Gaon accepted the messianic era as beginning at this appointed time, but without the Messiah! In explanation he proposed that an initial transitional age (of apostasy) would precede the final fulfillment.5 Therefore, Messiah's death was to "make an end ["atone for"] sin" and "make atonement for iniquity" as predicted in verse 24. This act serves as the basis for Israel's future salvation at the Second Advent (Zech. 12:10; Matt. 24:30-31; Lk. 21:27-28; Rom. 11:26-27). The words "and have nothing" added after the words "cut off" may mean "without inheriting the messianic kingdom" (verse 26a).6 This fulfillment, as declared by Jesus (Acts 1:6-7) awaits the future, or the end of the final week when the prerequisite for the establishment of the messianic kingdom, the overthrow of the Temple desolator (the Antichrist), is completed (verse 27).

> The fulfillment of the last set of goals also waits the time of the end. The phrase "to bring in everlasting righteousness" looks at the predicted millennial restoration or "age of righteousness" (see Isaiah 1:26; 11:2-5; 32:17; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-18) that reverses the theological scandal (note Dan. 9:15-16) of the Israel's national rejection of her Messiah (see Ezekiel 36:17-38; 37:21-28). This eschatological restoration may also be intended in the goal "to seal up the prophetic vision," which has the fulfillment (or "confirmation") of Jeremiah's prophecy in view. The final goal "to anoint the most holy" must also look to the future, and specifically a future dedication of the Temple's Holy of Holies. Rabbinic interpretation referred this to the Third Temple, since according to Tosefta Sotah 13:2 the Second Temple had not been anointed since it lacked both the Ark of the Covenant and the Shekinah (the Divine Presence). Rather, according to Yoma 21b, the Ark would be revealed by the Messianic king, who would also build the Third Temple (cf. Zech. 6:12).

When Messiah returns in glory, He will build the millennial Temple (see Ezek. 40-48), it will be filled with the Divine Presence (Ezek. 43:1-7), and will be consecrated for use throughout the messianic age (Ezek. 43:11, 18-27; 44:11-28; 45:13-46:15; Isa. 56:6-7; 60:7; Jer. 33:18; Zech. 14:16-21). Therefore, Daniel describes Messiah's mission to Israel beginning with His crucifixion as Israel's Savior and culminating with His reign as Israel's king. Thus, Daniel's prayer for an end to exile can only be fulfilled when all of the elements of his petition will be realized, and this can only be accomplished in the coming age of Messiah's reign.

The Program of the Seventieth Week

In verse 27 it was revealed to Daniel that in the seventieth week another significant event with relation to the Temple would occur. A leader (called a "prince" like the messiah in verse 25) related to the people (the Romans) who destroyed the Second Temple would make a covenant with the leaders ("the many") of Israel. While the specific nature of this "covenant" is unclear, it is clear that it relates to the Temple in some way. Dr. Harold Foos came to this conclusion in his doctoral dissertation written for Dallas seminary: ... it the conviction of this writer that the repossession of the Temple site and the rebuilding of the Temple with its renewed worship will be in direct consequence of the covenant that the Antichrist makes with Israel for the "one week," the seven years of the Tribulation period.7 Several reasons may be given to support this conclusion: (1) The Second Temple was rebuilt by the permission and power of a Gentile ruler (Cyrus), setting the precedence for the rebuilding of the Third Temple. (2) If a political power or leader could guarantee the rebuilding of the Temple, any covenant made with Israel would be expected to include this, (3) When the covenant moves from policy to persecution in the middle of the seventieth week, the Antichrist takes the prerogative to cause the sacrifices to cease (Daniel 9:27; 12:11) and to occupy it himself (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

This could imply that he had been involved in some prior relationship with it, (4) A pivotal event marked both the beginning and end of the first sixty-nine weeks and the interval between the end of the sixty-ninth and the beginning of the seventieth (Daniel 9:25-26). Such an event might be expected at the beginning of the seventieth week as well, especially when it would appear to mark a revival of God's direct dealing with the Nation, (5) Since the purpose of the Tribulation is to prepare Israel for the fulfillment of its promises in the Millennium where the Temple is prominent, and the Temple suffers with the Nation during the Tribulation, its rebuilding should be connected with the beginning of the Tribulation (the signing of the covenant, Daniel 9:27a).

Daniel's focus on the Temple's future desecration as a signal event in the seventieth week, "the time of distress" (Dan. 12:1), was announced by Jesus as the unavoidable sign to Israel of the time of Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14). The apostle Paul also used it as evidence for the unmistakable rise of the "man of sin" (the Antichrist) and of the judgment of God to come in the Tribulation, especially upon the Antichrist whose act of "abomination" will be accompanied with deceptive "signs and false wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13). With the destruction of the Antichrist and his armies by Messiah (Rev. 19:20), and the national repentance of Israel (Rom. 11:26-27), the final restoration of Israel for which Daniel prayed will be at hand.

Daniel searched the prophets and prayed for an answer to the mystery that surrounded the desolation of the Temple in his day. The answer he received by divine revelation was that the times of the Gentiles, imposed from the captivity of his day, would not end until it was brought together in an international empire headed by a coming wicked ruler. Daniel was told that this would occur in the end time, and that with the final act of Temple desolation would come the final judgment of God against the Gentile powers and Israel's realization of the promises of God. He left to us this key to the prophetic puzzle so that we who live closer than he to the times of fulfillment might know what to expect and have confidence in our own day of the outworking of God's program for Israel.

1Alva J. McClain, Daniel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 6.

2 The term kala' means to "terminate" or "complete," while hatem has the idea of "making whole," i.e., "completing." This is the end of a condition that is described by the objects as "the rebellion," i.e., the rejection of the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 53:1-9; Zechariah 12:10), and innate sin (chata'), i.e., sin which prevents ritual purity (cf. Isaiah 27:9; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 37:23; cf. Romans 11:27) .

3 In line 51 we read: lmsf rs'' ("to bring Evil to an end"), cf. Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (Massachusetts: Element, 1992), 67-68.

4 Scherman and Zlotowitz, Daniel. The Artscroll Tanach Series, 260. One reason for this interpretation is because these commentators believed that Jewish suffering would atone for their transgression. Abarbanel noted that the return to Jerusalem and even the rebuilding of the Second Temple did not bring the expected redemption nor atone for past sins, since it was itself a part of the exile and atonement. He held that the real and complete redemption was still far off in history, and thus not yet fulfilled according to Daniel's prophecy.

5 See further, Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. Volume 1: General and Historical Objections (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, forthcoming), pp. 71-75, 78-79.

6 This is one interpretation of the phrase 'eyn lo ("will have nothing"); an alternate translation is "not for Himself," meaning that the Messiah's death was either not for Himself; i.e., it was substitutionary (for others), or that He was innocent (i.e., there was no guilt or criminal reason for His death). The former interpretation strengthens the eschatological argument, but the latter does not detract from it.

7 Harold D. Foos, "Jerusalem in Prophecy," Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1965, p. 230. Prophetic Postponement- R. Price - Page

Resurrections and Judgments How Many and When?

by Dr. David R. Reagan

My boyhood church always taught that there would be one resurrection and one judgment. Everyone who had ever lived would be resurrected at one time, and all of us — the just and the unjust — would be judged at the same time. The sheep would be separated from the goats at the Great White Throne Judgment pictured in Revelation 20:11-15.

But this concept is all wrong. The Bible reveals that there will be more than one resurrection and more than one judgment.

Multiple Resurrections

Concerning resurrection, Jesus clearly taught that there would be more than one resurrection. In John 5:29 He refers to a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of judgment." The apostle Paul confirmed this concept in his defense before Felix when he stated that he believed the teaching of the prophets "that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" (Acts 24:15).

Of course, it could be argued that the two resurrections referred to in these scriptures will occur at the same time. Thus, because they will happen simultaneously, there is, in effect, only one resurrection. However, the Scriptures establish the fact that the resurrection of the righteous will occur in stages.

In other words, the Bible does not teach one resurrection or even two resurrections in number. Rather, it teaches that there will be two resurrections in type which will be conducted in stages, resulting in several resurrections — at least four, to be specific.

The Resurrection of the Just

That the resurrection of the righteous will occur in stages is clearly taught in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24. In fact, the first stage of the resurrection of the righteous has already happened, for verse 20 says that "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep."

Verses 22 and 23 go on to explain that all who have died in Christ shall be made alive, "but each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming."

The imagery of the harvest that is used in these verses is a key to understanding the first resurrection — the resurrection of the righteous.

The Harvest Imagery

In Bible times the harvest was conducted in three stages. It began with the gathering of the first fruits which were offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

It proceeded with the general harvest. But not all was taken in this harvest. Some of the crop was left in the field to be gathered by the poor and the needy. This was called the gleanings (Leviticus 19:9-10).

Using this imagery, the Bible presents the resurrection of Jesus as the "first fruits" of the resurrection of the righteous. The gathering of the Church Age saints, living and dead, at the appearing of the Lord (the Rapture) is thus the general harvest stage of the resurrection of the righteous (John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

But there is a third and final stage to this resurrection of the righteous. It is the gleanings, and it occurs at the end of the Tribulation when the Lord's Second Coming takes place. At that time two final groups of the righteous will be resurrected: 1) the Tribulation martyrs (Revelation 20:4), and 2) the Old Testament saints (Dan 12:2).

Some people are startled by the thought that the Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end of the Tribulation. But keep in mind that the Rapture is a promise to the Church, and the Church only. Also, the book of Daniel makes it clear that the Old Testament saints will be resurrected at the end of the "time of distress" (Daniel 12:1-2).

So the first resurrection, the resurrection of the righteous, occurs in three stages, beginning with Christ, continuing with the Church at the Rapture, and culminating with the Tribulation martyrs and the Old Testament saints at the return of Jesus.

The Resurrection of the Unjust

The second type of resurrection, "the resurrection of the wicked" (Acts 24:15), will take place all at one time at the end of the millennial reign of Jesus. This is at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment, the judgment of the damned (Revelation 20:11-15).

Every person who ever failed to relate to God in faith will be resurrected at this time, regardless of when he or she may have lived and died — whether before or after the Cross. This resurrection will also include the unjust who died during the Tribulation and the Millennium.

There will be no need for an additional resurrection of the righteous at the end of the Millennium, because all those born during that time who accept Jesus as their Savior will live to the end of the Lord's reign (Isaiah 65:19-20). "'As the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,'. . . says the Lord" (Isaiah 65:22,25). In other words, life spans during the Millennium will be returned to what they were at the beginning of time, before the flood.

The Certainty of Judgment

Resurrection will be followed by judgment. Solomon wrote, "Fear God and keep His commandments . . . For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

The apostle Paul emphasized the certainty of judgment. In Romans 2:16 he wrote, "God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus." And in Romans 14:10,12 he stated, "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God . . . So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God." The writer to the Hebrews summed it up succinctly: "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

The Completed Judgment

But not all people are going to be judged at the same time. Just as there are going to be several resurrections, there are also going to be several judgments.

One judgment has already taken place. It is the judgment of believers for their sins.

This comes as a surprise to most Christians. Some find it hard to believe. I'll never forget when I realized it from my study of Scripture. I became filled with so much joy that I felt like jumping pews all day!

Let me put it to you in another way. If you are truly born again, then you will never stand before the Lord and be judged of your sins. That's because the judgment for your sins took place at the Cross.

You see, all your sins, and mine, were placed upon Jesus as He hung upon the Cross, and the wrath we deserve was poured out upon Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became our substitute. He took our judgment for sin (Romans 8:3 and Galatians 3:13).

If you have appropriated the blood of Jesus to your life by accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, then your sins have been forgiven. They have also been forgotten in the sense that God will never remember them against you again (Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 8:12).

Think of it — forgiven and forgotten! That is grace!

The Judgment of the Just

If the Redeemed will never be judged of their sins, then what will they be judged of, and when will the judgment take place?

The Bible teaches that the Redeemed will be judged of their works, not to determine their eternal destiny, but to determine their degrees of reward.

Christians do not work to be saved; they work because they are saved. In fact, the Bible says they are saved to do good works (Ephesians 2:10 and Titus 2:14). Such good works, if properly done, will be done in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 4:11) and for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The Significance of Spiritual Gifts

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 that every person who is born again receives at least one supernatural spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. A person may receive more than one gift. And, if you are a good steward of the gifts you receive, then you may receive additional gifts as you develop spiritually (Luke 19:26).

God expects us to use our spiritual gifts to advance His kingdom. This is what the judgment of works will be all about. Each of us who are redeemed will stand before the Lord Jesus and give an accounting of how we used our gifts to advance the kingdom of God on earth.

We will be judged as to the quantity of our works (Luke 19:11-27; Romans 2:6-7). We will be judged as to the quality of our works (1 Corinthians 3:10-14). Finally, we will be judged as to the motivation of our works ( 1 Corinthians 4:5).

I can imagine some famous evangelist being brought before the Lord for judgment.

"How did you use your spiritual gifts to advance my kingdom?" asks the Lord.

"I used my gifts as a teacher and evangelist to preach the gospel to millions," replies the preacher.

"Yes," says the Lord, "you certainly did that. But, I know your heart, and thus I know your motivation. You preached not because you loved Me but because you wanted to become famous. You wanted to have your picture published on the cover of Time magazine. You accomplished that in February of 1953. Here's your picture. That's all the reward I have for you!"

And then I can imagine the Lord calling up a little old lady that no one has ever heard of.

"Dear, on the day you accepted Me as your Lord and Savior, I gave you one gift — the gift of mercy. And every time someone was ill, you were the first to offer comfort and encouragement. You were the one who organized the prayer chain. Every time someone went to the hospital, you were the first to visit them. Every time someone died, you were the one who organized the meals. And you did all of these things simply because you loved me."

The Lord will give her a crown full of so many jewels that she will have a neck ache for eternity!

Seriously, there will be degrees of rewards. They will be manifested in the crowns we receive (2 Timothy 4:7-8), the robes we wear (Revelation 19:8), and the degrees of ruling authority which we exercise with the Lord (Luke 19:11-27).

The Timing of the Judgments

When and where will the judgment of the Redeemed take place? The Bible indicates the judgment of believers who have lived and died during the Church Age will occur in Heaven before the judgment seat of Jesus, immediately following the Rapture of the Church (2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 19:6-9).

Those who are saved and martyred during the Tribulation will be judged at the end of that period when they are resurrected at the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 20:4). The Tribulation saints who live to the end of that terrible period are another group that will be judged at the Second Coming of Jesus in "the sheep and goat judgment" portrayed in Matthew 25:31-46. The Old Testament saints will also be judged at the time of the Second Coming (Ezekiel 20:34-38).

All the unrighteous who have ever lived will be resurrected and judged at the end of the millennial reign of Jesus.

The Judgment of the Unjust

The terrible judgment of the unrighteous is pictured in Revelation 20:11-15. It is called the "Great White Throne" judgment.

We are told that the wicked also will be judged of their works. But their judgment will be radically different from the judgment of the Redeemed. Whereas the Redeemed are judged of their works to determine their degrees of reward, the lost are judged of their works to determine their eternal destiny.

And since no one can be justified before God by their works (Isaiah 64:6 and Ephesians 2:8-10), all will be condemned to Hell. That's why I call this judgment "the judgment of the damned."

The unjust are also judged for another reason. There are going to be degrees of punishment (Luke 12:35-48; 20:45-47).

There is a popular myth in Christendom that says, "All sin is equal in the eyes of God." That is not true. The only way in which all sin is equal is that any sin, whether a white lie or murder, condemns us before God and necessitates a Savior.

But all sin is not equal in the eyes of God. For example, Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven sins that the Lord particularly hates, including "hands that shed innocent blood." And the Bible makes it very clear that idolatry is a sin that is especially heinous in the eyes of God (Exodus 20:3-5).

Because God considers some sins worse than others, there will be degrees of punishment (Revelation 22:12), and these degrees will be specified at the Great White Throne judgment.

A Call to Repentance

Where do you stand with respect to the inevitable judgment which you will face before the Lord?

If you are a Christian, do you know what spiritual gifts you have been given? Are you using them to advance the Lord's kingdom? Is your motivation a love of the Lord?

If you have never confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, do you really want to participate in the judgment of the damned? Do you realize that the Bible says, "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord"? That means Hitler and every vile person like him who has ever lived will one day make the confession of Jesus' lordship. You will too.

I urge you to make that confession now so that you can participate in the resurrection and judgment of the righteous. As you consider your decision, weigh carefully the following words from the book of Hebrews:

"Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" — Hebrews 9:28

Notice carefully that this verse promises that for those who are ready for Him, Jesus will come "without reference to sin." That is a wonderful promise.

Palestine vs. Israel as the Name of the Holy Land

by Thomas S. McCall, Th.D.

Current Propaganda’s Use of Palestine

There is a propaganda war going on now with regard to the term “Palestine.” At one time it might have been argued that Palestine was an innocuous designation of the Middle Eastern area, that is generally thought of as the Holy Land. During the last few decades, however, the term Palestine has been adopted by Arabs living in Israel in the area west of the Jordan River. It is specifically employed to avoid the use of the name Israel, and must be considered an anti-Israel term. In all Arab maps published in Jordan, Egypt, etc., the area west of the Jordan River is called Palestine, without any reference to Israel. Palestine is the term now used by those who want to deny the legitimate existence of Israel as a genuine nation among the family of nations.

The term now adopted by the political entity within Israel that is gradually obtaining more and more pockets of territory through the “peace process,” is “the PA (Palestinian Authority). Although it must deal daily with Israeli officials, the PA hates to use the term Israel in any of its communications.

Palestine, therefore, must now be considered a political propaganda term with massive anti-Israel implications. The world press uses the term to question the legitimacy of modern Israel. Christians also have used the term Palestine for centuries in referring to the Holy Land. In earlier times this might have been excused (although biblically questionable) because of its common usage. In light of the current propaganda war against Israel, however, Christians must now re-evaluate the term Palestine and consider whether it is biblically, theologically or prophetically accurate.

Biblical Use of Palestine

The term Palestine is rarely used in the Old Testament, and when it is, it refers specifically to the southwestern coastal area of Israel occupied by the Philistines. It is a translation of the Hebrew word “Pelesheth.” The term is never used to refer to the whole land occupied by Israel. Before Israel occupied the land, it would be generally accurate to say that the southwestern coastal area was called Philistia (the Way of the Philistines, or Palestine), while the central highlands were called Canaan. Both the Canaanites and the Philistines had disappeared as distinct peoples at least by the time of the Babylonian Captivity of Judea (586 B.C.), and they no longer exist.

In the New Testament, the term Palestine is never used. The term Israel is primarily used to refer to the people of Israel, rather than the Land. However, in at least two passages, Israel is used to refer to the Land:

Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead who sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. (Matt. 2:20-21)

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say to you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man shall have come. (Matt. 10:23)

The first passage is when Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned from Egypt to Israel, and the second has reference to the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the Land of Israel. Jesus, Matthew and the angel speaking to Joseph use the term Israel with reference to the Land, even though the term was not then recognized by the Roman authorities.

It is clear, then, that the Bible never uses the term Palestine to refer to the Holy Land as a whole, and that Bible maps that refer to Palestine in the Old or New Testament are, at best, inaccurate, and, at worst, are a conscious denial of the biblical name of Israel.

History of the Term Palestine

Where did the term Palestine originate from? How did the world and the church get into the habit of calling the land of Israel “Palestine”? One of the guides we use in our tours to Israel is Zvi Rivai, an Israeli Messianic believer, who has done considerable research on this subject. Zvi informs us that before 135 A.D., the Romans used the terms Judea and Galilee to refer to the Land of Israel. When Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Roman government struck a coin with the phrase “Judea Capta,” meaning Judea has been captured. The term Palestine was never used in the early Roman designations.

It was not until the Romans crushed the second Jewish revolt against Rome in 135 A.D. under Bar Kochba that Emperor Hadrian applied the term Palestine to the Land of Israel. Hadrian, like many dictators since his time realized the propaganda power of terms and symbols. He replaced the shrines of the Jewish Temple and the Sepulchre of Christ in Jerusalem with temples to pagan deities. He changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitalina, and changed the name of Israel and Judea to Palestine. Hadrian’s selection of Palestine was purposeful, not accidental. He took the name of the ancient enemies of Israel, the Philistines, Latinized it to Palestine, and applied it to the Land of Israel. He hoped to erase the name Israel from all memory. Thus, the term Palestine as applied to the Land of Israel was invented by the inveterate enemy of the Bible and the Jewish people, Emperor Hadrian.

It is interesting to note that the original Philistines were not Middle Eastern at all. They were European peoples from the Adriatic sea next to Greece. It may have pleased Hadrian to utilize this Hellenistic term for the Jewish land. In any case, the original “Palestinians” had nothing to do, whatsoever, with any Arabs.

Christian Adoption of the Term Palestine

One of the first Christian uses of the term Palestine is found in the works of the Church historian Eusebius, who lived in Caesarea. He wrote around 300 A.D., as the Roman persecution of Christians was ending and the Emperor Constantine began to accept Christianity as legal. Eusebius did not accept Hadrian’s designation of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitalina, but he did use Hadrian’s term Palestine. Eusebius considered himself to be one of the bishops of Palestine. Thus, the anti-Israel, anti-Christian name of Palestine was assimilated into the Church’s vocabulary as the Byzantine Empire was being established.

The Church has, since that time, broadly used the term Palestine in literature and in maps to refer to the Land of Israel. It should be noted, however, that the Crusaders called their land the Kingdom of Jerusalem. When the British received the mandate after World War I, though, they called the land on both sides of the Jordan River, Palestine. This became the accepted geo-political term for several decades, and those who lived in the land were called Palestinians, whether they were Jews, Arabs or Europeans.

Even evangelical Christians who believe in the future of Israel have used the term Palestine. The New Scofield Reference Edition of the Bible has maps in the back entitled “Palestine under the Herods.” There never was a Palestine under the Herods. This is a serious misidentification. It would be something like looking at a modern map of Texas and having it titled “Mexico in the Twentieth Century.”

The MacArthur Study Bible published just last year contains a map called “Palestine in Christ’s Time” There are numerous references in the notes to something called first-century Palestine.

It appears that Bible-believing Christians have either knowingly or unwittingly followed the world, pagans and haters of Israel in calling Israel by the anti-Israel term Palestine. It is found throughout Bible maps, Bible commentaries and textbooks.

Proper Designation of the Land

The use of the term Palestine was biblically inaccurate and wrong throughout the Church age. However, it is more than just wrong, it is devastating in our time, when the term Palestine is the cornerstone of the propaganda war against Israel and the Jewish people. Do we want to use terms invented by those who hate Christ, the Bible and Israel? Do we want to utilize terms used by the enemies of Israel who desire to accomplish nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish people? I think not.

Christians should use the terminology of the Bible wherever possible. Why not go back to the terms used in the New Testament? The Gospel writers used the term Israel to refer to the Land. Why should we use any other term when referring to the Land, especially now that the Jews are back in the Land and have re-established the nation of Israel among the family of nations?

As we draw closer to the Second Coming of Christ, we should understand that Satan’s fury against the Church and Israel will grow exponentially. Satan hates the Gospel of the crucified and risen Messiah, and he hates the reality of the restoration of Israel as the nation that will ultimately receive Jesus as the Messiah at His return, and the nation that will be Christ’s earthly headquarters. The only term we should use for the Land is Israel, or its subdivisions of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. We should make every effort to remove the term Palestine from our Bible maps and textbooks, and use only biblical terms with reference to the Holy Land of Israel.

The Gate to Prophecy

Dr. David R. Reagan

The Eastern Gate in the old walled city of Jerusalem has a very special place in my heart, for it was that gate which God used to open my eyes to His Prophetic Word.

The year was 1967. The occasion was the Six Day War. As the fate of the new state of Israel hung in the balance, I searched the newspapers daily for any information I could find about the war. The turning point came on June 7 when the Israeli army broke through the Lion's Gate and returned control of the ancient city of Jerusalem to the Jewish people for the first time in 1,897 years.

A Mysterious Remark

The next day I read a fascinating news account about one of the Jewish commando groups that had been involved in the assault on the city. The article stated that some members of the group had suggested catching the Jordanian defenders of the city off guard by blowing open the sealed Eastern Gate. But the leader of the group, an Orthodox Jew, had vehemently protested the idea, stating that "the Eastern Gate can be opened only when the Messiah comes."

That statement caught my eye. I wondered what the fellow was talking about. I knew nothing about the Eastern Gate except that it was the only gate of the city that led directly onto the Temple Mount. I was not aware that it was sealed, nor did I know that its opening was in any way biblically linked to the return of the Messiah.

A Remarkable Prophecy

I decided to do some research on the matter, and that decision initiated my study of Bible prophecy. I had been attending church for 30 years, but like most Christians, I knew nothing about Bible prophecy. The topic was generally ignored by the preachers in the church I grew up in.

My concordance quickly directed me to the passage that the Orthodox Jew had alluded to. I found it in Ezekiel 44. The context is a supernatural tour the Lord is giving Ezekiel of the future Millennial Temple (40:1-3).

In chapter 43 the Lord gives Ezekiel a vision of God's glory entering the Millennial Temple from the east, through the Eastern Gate. The Lord then says to Ezekiel: "Son of Man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever" (43:7).

The Lord then reveals to Ezekiel that the Eastern Gate will be closed and will not be reopened until the Messiah returns in glory (44:1-3).

A Momentous Decision

This prophecy was partially fulfilled more than 400 years ago in 1517 when the Turks conquered Jerusalem under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. He commanded that the city's ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of this rebuilding project, for some unknown reason, he ordered that the Eastern Gate be sealed up with stones.

Legends abound as to why Suleiman closed the Gate. The most believable one is that while the walls were being rebuilt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. Suleiman called together some Jewish rabbis and asked them to tell him about the Messiah. They described the Messiah as a great military leader who would be sent by God from the east. He would enter the Eastern Gate and liberate the city from foreign control.

Suleiman then decided to put an end to Jewish hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.

A Prophetic Symbol

The Gate has remained sealed since that time. The Muslim cemetery still blocks the entrance. The old walled city has eight gates, and the Eastern Gate, and it alone, is sealed — just as prophesied in Ezekiel 44. The world would call that an "amazing coincidence." I call it a "God-incidence."

The Eastern Gate is proof positive that the Bible is the Word of God. Its sealing is clear evidence that we are living in the end times. The Gate awaits the return of the Messiah. Then and only then, will it be opened.

An Exciting Vision

I have a vision of what that glorious day will be like. It is related to the Lord's First Coming. I believe Jesus is going to replay His triumphal entry into Jerusalem when He returns.

When He came the first time, Jesus rode a donkey from the Mount of Olives down into the Kidron Valley and up to the Eastern Gate where He entered the Temple Mount for His last days of teaching. As He made that ride, the Valley of Kidron was filled with thousands of admirers who had heard about the resurrection of Lazarus. They waved palm branches and chanted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Within a few days that same fickle crowd was shouting, "Crucify Him!"

We are told in Revelation 19 that when Jesus returns He will come as a victorious military conqueror, riding through the air on a supernatural white horse. In Isaiah 61 we are told that He will come from the east, and in Zechariah 14 we are told that he will touch ground on the Mount of Olives.

Revelation 19:14 says that all the Redeemed will come with the Lord. Think of it! You and I will be there to witness the Lord's return. Zechariah 14 says He will speak a word that will supernaturally destroy the Anti-Christ and his forces.

Then, I believe we will witness a replay of the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. With angels hovering above and millions of the Redeemed filling the Kidron Valley, Jesus will ride up to the Eastern Gate on His white horse, and as He approaches the Gate, it will blow open. He will then enter the City of David, and to the triumphant shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David," He will be crowned the Kings of kings and the Lord of lords.

I believe that's what Psalm 24 is all about when it says:

Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle . . . The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Daniel's 70 Weeks Of Years When did it start? Has it ended, or is there a gap in it?

Dr. David R. Reagan

One of the most remarkable and important prophecies in the Bible is found in Daniel 9:24-27. It is the cornerstone of Messianic prophecy because it establishes the timing of both the First and Second Advents of the Messiah.

The prophecy is usually referred to as "The 70 Weeks of Years." This name derives from the opening words of most English translations: "Seventy weeks have been decreed" (Daniel 9:24). In the Hebrew, the word translated "weeks" is actually the word "sevens." So, the text actually says, "Seventy sevens have been decreed . . ."

Just as the English word "dozen" can refer to a dozen of anything, the Hebrew word shavuim, meaning "sevens," can refer to seven of anything. Its exact meaning is dependent upon the context. In this key passage from Daniel, the context makes it clear that he is speaking of years — seventy sevens of years, which would be a total of 490 years. It is therefore appropriate to refer to the prophecy as "The 70 Weeks of Years" even though those exact words are not found in the passage itself.

The Jewish Context and Goals

Another important thing to keep in mind about the context of the passage is that it is directed to the Jewish people. The opening words of the prophecy make this clear: "Seventy weeks have been declared for your people and your holy city . . ." (Daniel 9:24, emphasis added). The focus of the prophecy is the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
The prophecy begins by stating that six things will be accomplished regarding the Jewish people during a period of 490 years:

• "Finish the transgression"
• "Make an end of sin"
• "Make atonement for iniquity"
• "Bring in everlasting righteousness"
• "Seal up vision and prophecy"
• "Anoint the most holy place"

Let's take a moment to consider the meaning of these six prophecies. The first, "finish the transgression," refers to the Jew's rejection of God. The Hebrew word translated "transgression" connotes the idea of rebellion, and the rebellion of the Jewish people is their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus said He would not return until the Jewish people are willing to say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:37-39). The Jews will open their hearts to their Messiah before Daniel's 490 year period ends.

The period will also witness an "end of sin" for the Jews. The word translated "sin" refers to the sins of daily life — sins of dishonesty and immorality. This end of sin will occur at the time the Jews accept their Messiah and His earthly reign of righteousness begins.

An atonement for Israel's sins is the third thing that will happen during Daniel's 70 weeks of years. This atonement occurred, of course, when Jesus shed His blood on the Cross for the sins of the world. But that atonement will not actually be applied to the Jews until they appropriate it by accepting Jesus as their Messiah.

The 490 year period will also 'bring in everlasting righteousness." This undoubtedly refers to the establishment of the Messiah's earthly reign when the earth will be flooded with peace, righteousness and justice as the waters cover the sea.

The fifth achievement will be the fulfillment of all prophecy concerning the Messiah. The Apostle Peter referred to two types of Messianic prophecy — those related to "the sufferings of Christ" and those concerning "the glories to follow" (1 Peter 1:11). The suffering prophecies were all fulfilled at the Cross.

The prophecies concerning "the glories to follow" are yet to be fulfilled. Just as Jesus was humiliated in history, He is going to be glorified in history. This will occur when the Jews accept Him, and He returns to reign over the world from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.

The final goal to be achieved at the end of the 70 weeks of years is "the anointing of the most holy." Most English translations say "the most holy place." The Hebrew simply says, "the most holy." Commentators therefore differ as to whether this is a reference to the anointing of the Messiah as King of kings or whether it is talking about the anointing of the Millennial Temple described in Ezekiel 40-48. Either way the anointing will not take place until the Lord returns in response to the national repentance of the Jews.

The Starting Point

Daniel says all these spiritual goals will be accomplished within a special period of 490 years. When did that period begin, and when did it end? It is when Daniel addresses these questions that he begins to give clues as to the timing of the First and Second Advents of the Messiah.
The prophecy says that the starting point of the 70 weeks of years will be "the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (Daniel 9:25). Keep in mind that this prophecy was given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel during the time of Israel's exile in Babylon. The approximate date was 538 B.C., shortly before the first remnant of Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem in 536 B.C. under Zerubbabel. Jerusalem was in ruins at this time, having been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar 70 years earlier in 586 B.C. (The captivity had begun in 605 B.C., before the destruction of Jerusalem, when Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and other "youths" to Babylon as hostages — Daniel 1:1- 4.)

The crucial question relates to when the decree was issued "to restore and rebuild Jerusalem." There are three possible dates:

• 538 B.C. — Cyrus, King of Persia, issued a decree to Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3; and Ezra 6:1-5).

• 457 B.C. — Artaxerxes, King of Persia, issued a decree to Ezra authorizing him to reinstitute the Temple services, appoint judges and magistrates, and teach the Law (Ezra 7:11-26).

• 445 B.C. — Artaxerxes issued a decree to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

On the surface, the third decree, the one issued to Nehemiah, seems to be the most obvious candidate for the starting date of the prophecy, for it is the only one that specifically relates to the rebuilding of the city. For that reason, most commentators have selected it as the beginning of the 70 weeks of years.

The Events of the 70 Weeks of Years

Daniel's prophecy next states that the 490 years will be divided into three periods as follows: seven weeks (49 years) plus sixty-two weeks (434 years) plus one week (7 years). He states that at the end of the first two periods (69 weeks or 483 years), the Messiah will be "cut off," a seemingly clear reference to the crucifixion. He then states that both Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed.

The prophecy concludes by focusing on the last week of years. It says that following the death of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem, "the prince who is to come" will make a covenant with the Jewish people that will enable them to reinstitute their sacrificial system. This prince will come from the same people who destroyed the Temple (the Romans).

We know from 2 Thessalonians 2 that this ''prince who is to come" is the Antichrist, the "man of lawlessness" who is "the son of destruction." The same passage makes it clear that his covenant will enable the Jews to rebuild their Temple.

Both passages — Daniel 9 and 2 Thessalonians 2 — establish the fact that in the middle of this 70th week (3½ years into it) this "prince who is to come" will double cross the Jewish people. He will march into the rebuilt Temple and declare himself to be God. He will stop the sacrifices and he will erect "an abomination of desolation," most likely an idol of himself. The book of Revelation specifies that the Messiah will return to earth 3½ years after this desolation of the Temple takes place.

Now we have the timing of the two advents of the Messiah. He will come the first time at the end of 483 years and will be "cut off" before the Temple is destroyed. He will return the second time at the end of a seven year period that will begin with a treaty that allows the Jews to rebuild their Temple and reinstitute the Mosaic system of sacrifices.

Calculating Dates

The first person in modern history to calculate the 483 years to the "cutting off" of the Messiah was Sir Robert Anderson in his book, The Coming Prince (1894). Using the decree to Nehemiah issued in 445 B.C. as his starting point, and using what he called "the 360 day prophetic year," Anderson calculated that it was exactly 173,880 days or 483 lunar years from the day the edict was issued to the day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. His calculations placed the crucifixion in the spring of 32 A.D.

These calculations have remained almost sacred in Christian thinking for the past one hundred years. But they need to be examined carefully because the fact of the matter is that there are two serious problems with Anderson's calculations.

The Prophetic Year Problem

The first is his assumption that the years in the prophecy are lunar years of 360 days. That assumption is based upon the fact that the book of Revelation defines the 70th week of Daniel as lasting a total of 2,520 days (Revelation 11:3 and 12:6). The only way that can translate into seven years is by using lunar years of 360 days.
Now, on the surface, it seems logical to apply this Revelation principle to Daniel. If the years of the final week of Daniel's prophecy are lunar years, then surely the first 483 years must also be lunar years.

But there is a flaw in this logic. Daniel's prophecy was written to the people of his time to give them, among other things, an insight as to when the Messiah would come. And the fact of the matter is that Daniel does not even so much as hint that he is speaking of anything other than regular solar years.

Some would counter by saying that the Jews used a lunar calendar and therefore thought only in lunar terms when calculating time. But that simply is not true. The Jews have never relied on a pure lunar calendar, like the Muslims do. The Jews have always used a lunar/solar calendar. Their months are 30 days long, but they insert what is called an intercalary month every so often to make adjustments for the true solar calendar.

For the Jews this is an absolute necessity because their major festivals (Passover, Harvest and Tabernacles) are all directly related to the agricultural cycle. If they did not make the solar adjustments, their festivals would migrate around the calendar, resulting in harvest festivals falling during seed planting times! This is exactly the case with the Muslim calendar which is a pure lunar calendar. And thus, the sacred festival of Ramadan circulates around the year. One year it will be in August, the next in September, and the next in October.

The point is that the Jews in Daniel's time did not think in terms of 360 day years. Nor did Daniel. If you will look at Daniel 9:1-2 you will see that shortly before he was given the 70 Weeks of Years prophecy by Gabriel, he discovered Jeremiah's prophecy that the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years. He realized immediately that he was very near the end of those 70 years.

The indication of this passage is that Daniel interpreted Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 years to be 70 regular years as defined by the Jewish lunar/solar calendar. And again, if his subsequent prophecy about the 70 weeks of years was to have any meaning to the Jewish people, it had to be understood in terms of regular years, not "prophetic years" of 360 days each.

Why then would there be a difference between the first 483 years and the last seven? I suspect it may relate to a statement made by Jesus in Matthew 24. He said the 70th week of Daniel will be "cut short" lest all life on earth be destroyed during that terrible period of tribulation (Matthew 24:22).

The Terminus Problem

The second problem with Anderson's calculations is their terminus date of 32 A.D. This just simply is not an acceptable year for the death of Jesus since it would place the crucifixion on either Sunday or Monday. Even Anderson recognized this problem, and as one author has put it, Anderson engaged in some "mathematical gymnastics" to arrive at a Friday crucifixion.

In his book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Harold Hoehner of Dallas Theological Seminary shifts the date of Nehemiah's decree from 445 to 444 B.C. and then calculates the 173,880 days to the spring of 33 A.D., when the crucifixion would have fallen on a Friday. But this creates more problems than it solves. The 444 B.C. date is suspect and the 33 A.D. date is very late. Luke 3:23 says Jesus was "about 30 years of age" when He began His ministry. His ministry lasted 3½ years. Hoehner's chronology would make Jesus 32 years old at the start of His ministry and 35 at the time of his death.

An Alternative Viewpoint

I believe a better solution is to interpret Daniel's prophecy as speaking of lunar years adjusted periodically and thus amounting to regular years. I also believe that the best starting point for the prophecy is the decree issued to Ezra in 457 B.C.

I have already explained why I believe regular years should be used. Let me now explain why I think the decree issued to Ezra should be used as the starting point for the calculation of the first two periods totaling 483 years.

The decree given to Zerubbabel authorized the rebuilding of the Temple. The decree issued to Nehemiah concerned the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra's decree was more general in nature, covering a variety of subjects. But we know from Scripture that he interpreted it to mean that the Jews were authorized to launch a general rebuilding campaign that included the temple, the city, and the walls. His interpretation is stated in Ezra 9:9 — "God has not forsaken us, but has extended loving kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem" (Ezra 9:9).

Now, using Ezra's decree as the staring point (457 B.C.), if we count forward 483 years we will arrive at 27 A.D. (There is only one year between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D.) According to the translator of Josephus, the Jewish new year that began in the fall of 27 A.D. marked the beginning of the last Jubilee Year that the Jews enjoyed in the land before their worldwide dispersal by the Romans in 70 A.D. This is most likely the year that Jesus began His public ministry. This is hinted at in Luke 4 where it says that when Jesus launched His ministry at the synagogue in Nazareth, He did so by reading a passage from Isaiah 61 about the way in which the Messiah would fulfill the spiritual essence of the Jubilee. After finishing the reading, Jesus proclaimed, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).

The Relationship of the Resurrection

Further evidence that this date is correct is the fact that it would place the end of Jesus' 3½ year ministry in the spring of 31 A.D. And that happens to be the most likely year of the crucifixion.
Most scholars have tried to place the crucifixion in either 30 or 33 A.D. because these are the only two years in the time frame of Jesus' death when Passover fell on Friday. The belief that Jesus was crucified on a Passover that fell on Friday is based on a statement in Mark 15:22 which says the crucifixion took place on "the day of preparation before the Sabbath."

But this statement does not necessarily mean that the crucifixion took place on a Friday. Such an assumption is rooted in Gentile ignorance about Jewish feast days. What the Gentile church has failed to recognize over the centuries is that the first day after Passover is a feast day, or "High Sabbath," because it is the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is considered to be a Sabbath regardless of what day of the week it falls on (Numbers 28:16-18).

The Gospels make it clear that the crucifixion week had two Sabbaths. Mark 16:1 says a group of women bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus after the Sabbath was over. But in Luke 23:56 it says they bought the spices before the Sabbath and then rested on the Sabbath before proceeding to the tomb.

In the year 31 A.D. Passover fell on Wednesday. Jesus was crucified that morning and buried that evening. The next day, Thursday, was a High Sabbath. On Friday, after the High Sabbath, the women bought the spices and then rested on the regular Sabbath (Saturday) before going to the tomb on Sunday morning.

Further Collaboration

The time span I am proposing from 457 B.C. to 27 A.D. is also supported by another amazing piece of evidence. Do you remember how Daniel divided the first 483 years into two periods of time, first 49 years and then 434 years? Why did he do that? Go back and re-read Daniel 9:25 and notice that he makes specific reference to the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. Did he divide the period into two parts to indicate that the rebuilding of the city would occupy the first 49 years?

In a recent booklet entitled "The Daniel Papers," a publication of the Radio Bible Class, the author, Herb Vander Lugt, notes:

According to Barnes and several other trustworthy Bible commentators, the historian Prideaux declared Nehemiah's last action in rebuilding the city occurred in the 15th year of the Persian ruler Darius Nothus (423 - 404 B.C.). His 15th year was the 49th year from the 457 B.C. decree. Josephus seems to support this idea in his remarks about the death of Nehemiah.

A Prophetic Gap

One puzzle remains about Daniel's prophecy. What about the 70th week? Is it past or future? I believe there is no doubt whatsoever that it is future. The reason for that conclusion is simple. The prophecy begins by stating that the 490 years will produce six consequences among the Jewish people.

I began this article by outlining those six prophetic events in detail. If you will look back at them, you will readily see that they are still unfulfilled. The Jews are still in rebellion against God, they are still caught up in their sins, they are still refusing to accept the atonement for their iniquity, everlasting righteousness has not come to the earth, all prophecy concerning the Messiah has not yet been fulfilled, and "the most holy" has not been anointed.

There must, therefore, be a gap in the prophecy. This may seem strange to the casual reader. But students of prophecy are familiar with prophetic gaps. They are very common in prophetic literature because of the peculiar nature of the prophetic perspective. God would show His prophets great future events and the prophets would present them as if they were happening in rapid succession because that's the way they appeared. The prophet was like a person looking down a mountain range seeing one mountain top after another, seemingly pressed up against each other, but in reality separated by great valleys which could not be seen.

Jesus Himself recognized this characteristic of prophecy when He read a prophecy from Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth. If you will check what He read (Luke 4:18- 19) against what Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 61:1-3), you will see that Jesus stopped reading in the middle of a sentence because the rest of the sentence had to do with His Second Coming.

The Implications

For Christians, Daniel's prophecy should serve to underscore the supernatural origin of the Bible. It should also serve as confirmation that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah.
For Jews, the prophecy should be deeply disturbing for two reasons. First, it clearly teaches that the Messiah had to come before the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. That means that either God failed to keep His promise or else the Jews missed recognizing their Messiah. Second, the prophecy clearly teaches that a terrible time of tribulation for the Jews still lies ahead.

Moses said it would be a time of "distress" that would occur in "the latter days" (Deuteronomy 4:30). Jeremiah called it "the time of Jacob's distress" (Jeremiah 30:7). Daniel characterized it as "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time" (Daniel 12:1). Zechariah says two-thirds of the Jews will "be cut off and perish" during that terrible time (Zechariah 13:8).

The process will be horrible. But the result will be glorious, for the remaining remnant will at long last turn their hearts to God, accept their Messiah, and cry out, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Recommended Reading:
Archer, Jr., Gleason L., Daniel (Vol. 7 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1985)

Hoehner, Harold, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977)

Jeremiah, David with C.C. Carlson, The Handwriting on the Wall (Word, Dallas, Texas, 1992)

Lugt, Herb Vander, The Daniel Papers: Daniel's Prophecy of 70 Weeks (Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994)

McClain, Alva J., Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1940)

Showers, Renald, The Most High God (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, West Collingswood, NJ, 1982)

Wood, Leon, A Commentary on Daniel (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1973)

America the Beautiful? The United States in Bible Prophecy

by Dr. David R. Reagan

Where is the United States in Bible prophecy? It is a ques­tion I am asked wherever I go. It is only natural that we should wonder. Since the United States is not mentioned specifically by name in Bible prophecy, people have resort­ed to their ima­ginations to find our nation in the Scriptures.

A “tall and smooth people”?

Some have pointed to Isaiah 18 which speaks of a peo­ple “tall and smooth” who are “feared far and wide.” The passage further states that this is a “powerful nation whose land the rivers divide.” The chapter ends by stating that the people of this nation will bring “a gift of homage” to the Lord when He returns to reign from Mt. Zion.

Because these verses speak of a powerful nation whose land is divided by a great river, some have jumped to the conclusion that the nation is the United States since it is divided by the Mississippi River.

But the open­ing verses of this chapter indicate it is speak­ing of “Cush,” the ancient name of Ethiopia. At the time Isaiah wrote this passage, Ethiopia was a part of the Egyp­tian empire and the river referred to is undoubtedly the Nile.

A “village” of Tarshish?

Probably one of the most popular passages where peo­ple claim to have found the U.S. is in Ezekiel 38 where the pro­phet describes an invasion of Israel that will be launched in the end times by a nation “from the remote parts of the north.” The descriptive verses about the northern power make it clear that this nation is Russia. What is not so clear is where the U.S. fits into this invasion.

Those who find us in the passage point to Ezekiel 38:13 which says that “the merchants of Tarshish and all its villag­es” (or “young lions” depending on translation) will speak out against the invasion. The argument is that Tarshish is Britain and the “villages” or “young lions” are the English speaking nations like the U.S. and Australia that were foun­ded by British immigrants.

To say the least, this is a highly imaginative interpreta­tion. Its validity is seriously questioned by the fact that no one knows for certain the true identity of “Tarshish.” Fur­ther­more, recent archaeological develop­ments indicate that Tarshish was most likely Spain, not Brit­ain.

A “great eagle”?

Another favorite passage for applied imagination is Rev­ela­tion 12:13-17. These verses state that in the middle of the Tribulation God will provide a means of escape for the Jew­ish remnant in Israel. They will be carried into the wil­der­ness to a hiding place on the “wings of a great eagle.”

Some people have seized on this imagery to teach that the U.S., whose national symbol is the eagle, will supply the end time air lift that will save the Jewish remnant.

But the Bible is its own best interpreter. And when you look up the phrase, “wings of an eagle,” you will find that it is the same one that God used in Exodus 19:4 to describe how He brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God is the ea­gle, not the United States (see Deuteronomy 32:11).

“Babylon the great?”

This brings us to the final and most widely used pas­sage for identifying the U.S. in Bible prophecy. It is Revela­tion 18 where the destruction of “Babylon the great” is de­scribed.

There is no doubt that the United States shares many simi­larities with the corrupt commercial empire described in this chapter. But the U.S. is not a fulfillment of Revelation 18. That chapter is describing the last Gentile world empire that will dominate the earth at the time of the Lord’s Sec­ond Coming. It is the empire of the Antichrist.

A Conclusion

So, where is the United States in Bible prophecy? The an­swer is that we are not mentioned directly and specifical­ly. We are cov­ered by general prophecies that relate to all nations, but beyond that, our end time destiny must be a matter of spec­ulation.

General prophecies that apply to the U.S. include those that say all nations will be judged (Isaiah 34:2-3) and all na­tions will cease to exist except the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 30:11 and 46:28).

A Speculation

I personally believe that the reason the U.S. is not men­tioned in end time prophecy is because we will suddenly cease to be a world power and will therefore play no signifi­cant role in end time events.

The destruction of American power is most likely to occur in two stages. The first could be an economic catastrophe that will result from our out of control debt situation. Our god is the dollar, and the Lord is going to destroy that god when the weight of our debt collapses our economy.

The second stage could occur when Russia launches its invasion of Israel (pro­phesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39). I believe it is very likely that they will launch a preemptive nuclear at­tack against our nation, since we are the only country in the world that might possi­bly come to Israel’s defense. This attack may be hinted at in Ezekiel 39:6 where it says that fire will fall on “those who inhabit the coastlands in safety.”

The Russian attack will prob­ably come from sub­marines deployed off our East and West coasts. Each Rus­sian sub carries more fire pow­er than all the bombs dropped in World War II. Such an attack would give us only seven minutes warn­ing, not even enou­gh time to launch a counter attack.

With the U.S. immobilized, the Russians will then attack Israel and, according to Ezekiel, their army will be wiped out su­pernaturally by God on the hills of Israel (Ezekiel 39:1­4). The greatest power vacuum in the history of mankind will be created almost overnight. The world will be gripped by panic.

Into that vacuum will step a dynamic, charismatic Euro­pean political personality who will be energized by Satan. He will begin to rally the world to his support through his brilliant proposals for world peace. The world will be mes­merized by him (Revelation 13:8).

An Objection

Some argue that since the collapse of the Soviet gov­ernment, Russia is now too weak to launch any attack against Israel or the Untied States. It is true that the econo­my of Russia is in shambles, but the military power is intact, including thousands of nuclear warheads!

In fact, Russia is far more dangerous to the world today than before the Soviet collapse. The increased danger is rooted in the instability of the government.

There is no hope for de­mocracy in Russia because the societal values that are es­sential for the working of a demo­cratic system do not exist. Nor is there any histori­cal expe­rience with democracy. Be­fore the Commissars were the Czars.

The current experiment with democracy will not last long. It will be overthrown, most likely by a coup that will produce a military dictatorship. That new tyranny will then most likely resort to one of the oldest techniques of govern­ment — namely, stirring up trouble abroad to divert people’s attention away from their domestic problems. That foreign trouble will be the invasion of Israel.

The Parallel of Habakkuk

I admit that I do not like this speculative scenario. But it seems the most likely chain of events to me. When it first occurred to me, I was particularly repelled by the idea of God using Russia to judge our nation. I asked, “How can a holy God punish those who are evil with those who are more evil?”

My quest for an answer to that ques­tion led me to the book of Habakkuk. I discovered that Habakkuk asked God the same question when God re­vealed to him that Judah would be judged by an invasion of the Chalde­ans.

God never answered Habakkuk’s question. He just called on Habakkuk to proceed in faith, believing that God knew best (Habakkuk 2:4). After a difficult spiritual struggle, Ha­bak­kuk stepped out in faith and said, “Lord, even if the Chaldeans complete­ly destroy us, I will continue to exalt Your name” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

The Chaldeans came. They destroyed the nation of Judah and the Temple of God. But where are the Chalde­ans to­day? In the dust bin of history. Where are the Jews? Re­gathered to their land.

The point is that God has the wis­dom and power to or­chestrate the evil of Man to the tri­umph of His holy will in history. It is not for us to question His ways. Rather, it is for us to trust Him.

A Sobering Conclusion

But there is another point to consider. Are we really more righteous than the Russians? I think not.

In fact, I be­lieve we are far more dangerous to the world spiritually than the Russians have ever been, for we are the world’s moral polluter through the export of our sleazy television pro­grams, our filthy mov­ies, our satanic music, and our de­grading pornog­raphy.

We are a people who have turned our back on God. The day of judgment for us will be far more severe than for the Russians, for “to those to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48).

Another Possibility

There is another possible fate for the United States. If the Rapture were to occur today, we would be devastated because our nation contains more born again Christians than any other nation in the world — more than all of Western Europe combined. Further, we have many born again Christians in high positions of commerce and government. The Rapture would reduce our nation to chaos, removing us from the international scene as the world’s dominant power.

We can hope and pray that this will be the destiny of our nation, because if it is not, we are headed toward outright destruction due to our rebellion against a gracious God who has blessed us more than any other nation that has ever existed.

The Ark of the Covenant Will it ever be found?

by Dr. David Reagan

It was in the mid-eighties, and I was hosting a pilgrimage group on a tour of the Holy Land. We had made the long drive from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem and had arrived in "the city of the Great King" exhausted.

It seemed like I had hardly gone to sleep when I was jolted awake by the telephone. Assuming it was my wake up call, I lifted the receiver and mumbled, "Thank you."

I was surprised to hear a familiar voice on the other end. "Hello, David, I'm calling from Texas!"

"From Texas!" I replied. "All the way from Texas?"

"Yep," answered my friend, "and guess what? They've found the ark!"

"The what?"

"The ark!"


"No, dummy, the Ark of the Covenant."

Needless to say, that statement really woke me up.

A Startling Discovery

My friend proceeded to explain that he had just read in the Dallas Morning News about the discovery of the lost Ark of the Covenant. It had supposedly been found on Mount Pisgah (Mt. Nebo) in Jordan by a religious group from Kansas.

It all sounded a little far out to me. I suspected that someone had lost touch with reality after having seen the currently popular movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Nonetheless, I rushed down to the hotel lobby to get the latest copy of The Jerusalem Post. Sure enough, there on the first page was the story. The writer evidently shared my skepticism because the headline read: "Thar's an Ark in Them Thar Hills!"

A Suspect Discovery

The story was right out of Alice in Wonderland. Some end-time sect from Winfield, Kansas, calling itself the Institute for Restoring Ancient History International, had issued astatement claiming to have discovered the Ark in a sealed passageway inside Mt. Pisgah.

They offered no evidence, even though they claimed to have taken photographs. They also refused to reveal the exact location of their find.

The leader of the group, who had a reputation for being anti-Semitic, said he was going to prove his good will toward the Jews by turning all his evidence over to David Rothschild.

When asked why he had selected Rothschild, he replied that he considered Rothschild to be the leader of the Jews (an old anti-Semitic attitude!). He also explained that he felt Rothschild had the power to help his group in dealing with the Jordanian government and the Vatican.

A Provocative Discovery

The headlines have since subsided. The Kansas group has returned to its anonymity in the wheat fields. And the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, has become an adventure classic.

But the incident and movie motivated a lot of questions, some of which relate to end time events. What was the Ark of the Covenant? Why was it so important to the Jews? What happened to it? Will it be found again? Is it essential for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple?

The Bible and the Ark

The origin of the Ark is to be found in Exodus 25:10-22. God ordered the Ark to be built to house the tablets of stone on which He had written the ten commandments. The Ark was a box approximately four feet long, two feet wide, and two feet high. It was made of acacia wood and was overlaid with gold inside and out.

The lid that covered the box was called the "mercy seat." It was made of pure gold. Two gold cherubim were mounted on the lid, one on each end. The cherubim faced each other, and their wings were spread out toward each other, overshadowing the mercy seat.

According to Hebrews 9:4, two other items were later added to the contents of the Ark. One of these was a pot of manna, the miraculous food that God supplied the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16). The other item was Aaron's rod that budded (Numbers 17).

The Ark was housed in the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Tabernacle of Moses. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered that Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat to atone for his sins and the sins of the nation of Israel (Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 9). Because God had promised Moses that He would commune with Israel "from above the mercy seat" (Exodus 25: 22), the concept developed that the Lord of Hosts was enthroned on the cherubim of the Ark (see 1 Samuel 4:4 and Isaiah 37: 16).

The Symbolism of the Ark

Much has been made of the symbolism of the Ark, and rightfully so. Suffice it to say that every aspect of the Ark pointed to Jesus.

The acacia wood symbolized our Lord's humanity. The gold overlay denoted His deity. The Law inside the Ark pictured Jesus with the Law of God in His heart, living in perfect obedience to it. The pot of manna spoke of Jesus as the Bread of Life or our life sustainer. Aaron's rod that budded obviously prophesied the resurrection.

The mercy seat was also a symbol that pointed to the Messiah. It was representative of the fact that the work of Jesus on the Cross would cover the Law of God with His mercy. It is an illustration of how the divine throne was transformed from a throne of judgment into a throne of grace by the atoning blood that was sprinkled on it.

The Ark's Pilgrimage

As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, the Ark was carried before them on golden poles by the priests, following "the cloud of the Lord" in order "to seek out a resting place for them" (Numbers 10:33). The Ark was carried into Canaan when the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and it was instrumental in their victory over Jericho (Joshua 6). During the 400 year period of the Judges, the Ark was housed in the Holy of Holies at the Tabernacle that was erected at the religious center of Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3, 3:3).

During the latter part of the period of the Judges, when apostasy was rampant in Israel, the decision was made to carry the Ark into a battle against the Philistines as a good luck charm (1 Samuel 4:1-4). This desecration of the sacred Ark enraged the Lord, and He allowed the Philistines to win the battle and capture the Ark (1 Samuel 4:5-11).

But the Ark proved to be a hot box for the Philistines. When all sorts of calamities began to afflict them, they decided to return the Ark (1 Samuel 5 and 6).

It was first taken to a small village called Bethshemesh which was located on the border between Philistia and Judah. When the people of that town ventured out of curiosity to look inside the Ark, a great number were struck dead (1 Samuel 6:19-21). They quickly decided to pass the Ark on to the village of Kiriath-jearim, located just a few miles northwest of Jerusalem (1 Samuel 7:1-2). It remained there for almost 70 years in the house of Abinadab. (The 70 years were the last 20 years of Samuel's judgeship, the 40 years of Saul's kingship, and the first seven years of David's reign in Hebron, before he moved to Jerusalem).

When David arrived in Jerusalem, the first priority of his administration was to provide the Ark a proper resting place because He was anxious to bring the symbol of the presence of God back into the life of the nation (Psalm 132:1-5). The Ark's return was an occasion for great rejoicing (1 Chronicles 15). David placed it in a tent on Mt. Moriah where it remained until his son Solomon built the Temple. The Holy of Holies in that Temple became the final resting place of the Ark (1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5).

The Lost Ark

No one knows for sure what happened to the Ark. The last time it is mentioned in Scripture is in 2 Chronicles 35:3. That passage makes it clear that the Ark was still in existence at the time of the spiritual revival led by the boy king, Josiah. Within 22 years after Josiah died, Judah fell to the Babylonians (586 B.C.), and the Ark disappeared.

Some scholars believe it was simply destroyed when the Temple was burned. Others believe it was captured as a prize of war, taken to Babylon, and probably melted down for its gold.

But the strongest tradition is that it was taken out of the Temple by Jeremiah and hidden. Some are convinced he hid it in the ground on the Temple Mount. But most who hold to the Jeremiah rescue theory believe he either hid the Ark in a great cavern beneath the Temple Mount (known today as Solomon's Quarry) or that he hid it somewhere near Mt. Nebo in the modern day nation of Jordan.

The latter theory finds support in the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees. The narrative in that book says, "the prophet, warned by an oracle, gave orders for the tabernacle and the ark to go with him when he set out for the mountain which Moses had climbed to survey God's heritage. On his arrival, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling, into which he brought the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense, afterwards blocking up the entrance" (2 Maccabees 2:4-5).

Another theory regarding the fate of the Ark is that it was translated or raptured, being taken up to Heaven to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Chaldeans. This theory is based upon a reference to the Ark in Revelation 11:15. This passage is a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation when Heaven opens and Jesus returns in wrath. The writer states that when Heaven opened "the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple." Those who reject this theory argue that the Ark seen in Heaven in this passage is the heavenly reality of which the Ark of the Covenant was only an earthly shadow or copy (Hebrews 8:5).

The Forgotten Ark

Regardless of what happened to the Ark, the Scriptures suggest that it will never be found again. This comes as quite a shock to some Christians who have assumed that the Ark must be found before the Tribulation Temple can be built and animal sacrifice reinstituted. Others have simply assumed that the Ark would be replaced in the Holy of Holies when the Lord's Millennial Temple is built.

But Jeremiah says point blank that "the ark of the covenant of the Lord . . . shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again" (Jeremiah 3:16). The context of this passage is the Millennial reign of Jesus, so it does not rule out the possibility of a discovery prior to that time. Conceivably, the Ark could be discovered, and Satan could use its discovery to incite the rebuilding of a Temple where an apostate sacrificial system would be reinstituted. We know that such a Temple will be built, but I doubt if its construction will be motivated by the discovery of the Ark.

The important point to keep in mind here is that the rediscovery of the Ark is not essential to the rebuilding of the Temple. After all, the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel following the Babylonian captivity, and the Ark had already been lost by that time. There was no Ark in the Holy of Holies during the time when Jesus worshiped in the Temple.

Nor is the Ark needed for the Millennial Temple. Ezekiel describes the Temple in great detail (chapters 40-42), and he never mentions the Ark. There is a Holy of Holies (Ezekiel 41:4), but it is empty, and it is not separated from the Holy Place by a veil.

Jesus has already entered the heavenly Holy of Holies in our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16, 8:1-6). He has torn away the veil that separated us from God, and He serves as our High Priest, having offered His own blood as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-16). He serves as our Mediator before the Father's throne (Hebrews 9:24-28).

Thus, during the Millennium, there will be no need for a human high priest or an Ark with a mercy seat. Jesus will continue to function as mankind's High Priest, just as He will continue to serve as humanity's Mercy Seat (Haggai 2:20-23).

The True Ark

With regard to this concept of Christ as our mercy seat, let me add a penetrating insight which I picked up from John MacArthur, one of this country's greatest preachers. He pointed to a simple historical verse that contains a profound truth about Jesus being our mercy seat.

The verse is John 20:12. Speaking of Mary looking into the empty tomb of Jesus, the verse says, "she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying." What Mary saw, MacArthur observed, was the new mercy seat, the perfect mercy seat.

Consider again what Mary saw. She witnessed two angels sitting at each end of the slab which had held the broken body of our Lord. That scene points us back to the Ark of the Covenant where two cherubim hovered over its blood splattered mercy seat!

There is no more need for the Ark. Jesus has fulfilled all that the Ark stood for. He was deity who took on flesh. He rendered complete obedience to the Law, being made perfect and becoming the source of our salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9). His blood was shed for our sins, and His victory is attested by the fact and the power of His resurrection.

Just as the Ark was designed to be a symbol of the presence of God in the midst of His people, Jesus is the ultimate expression of God's love and care and presence. He is our Ark. He is our Law. He is our Manna. He is our Budded Rod. And, thank God, He is our Mercy Seat.