Staff & Sling
Ministry

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

End Times Prophecy

Eschatology. It means the study of the end times, and it is a subject that I avoid. History is replete with preachers who have earnestly studied the prophesies of the end of days, only to be led astray by a desire to gain some heretofore undiscerned truth about when the end will come. For this reason we have witnessed a long line of preachers declaring that the Lord will return on this date or that, only to be proven wrong time and time again. And I don't want to be one of those preachers.

Still, God's Word does speak to end times. Jesus Himself spoke of the time of His return. He told us that no one knows when He will return, save the Father in Heaven alone (Matthew 24: 36). Nonetheless, He did tell us what to expect. Everyone knows about "earthquakes in diverse places." Everyone knows about wars and rumors of wars, but no one ever reads the rest of the verse, that "... the end is not yet" (Matthew 24: 6).

Indeed, no one seems to notice the recurring and consistent theme in all of Jesus' teachings on the end times. He told us time and time again to be vigilant. He told us to be ready for His return without warning, as a thief in the night (Matthew 24: 43, 44). He told us that He would return, not when we least expect it, but when we don't expect it at all. He told us that He would come back, "in such an hour as ye think not ...," (Matthew 24: 44).

And this is why I eschew eschatology (Sorry! I couldn't resist). So many times have preachers and prophets cried wolf that people have become desensitized to the very real and immediate possibility of Christ's return. Still, it does occur to me that there is one instance in history wherein scholars read God's prophesies concerning the coming Messiah and got it right. That was the case of the Magi who came bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh at Jesus' birth.

Did you ever ask yourself, "How'd they know?" How did these wise men, these scholars from the East (Babylon), know that Jesus was to be born? Well, recall that Daniel lived in Babylonian exile. And remember that Daniel rose to become the third most powerful man in Babylon. So it is reasonable then that Babylonian scholars would have been very familiar with his writings. And in Daniel 9: 24 - 27 he described exactly when the Messiah would be killed. Thus if the Magi knew when He would be killed, they had a pretty good idea of when to expect His birth.

So let's look at this particular prophesy.

In verse 24 God tells us that He has appointed 70 weeks to accomplish something through His chosen people. Believe it or not, this did not seem at all mysterious to the Jews, not like it does to us. In Hebrew these "weeks" are clearly groups of seven years each. so 70 weeks is 490 years. And God told his chosen people that He had appointed 70 weeks during which he would complete His work through them. What work? To bring an end to transgression, to make an end of sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness, basically to reconcile mankind to Himself. That is to do those things He set out to do from the beginning. In other words, God said that He has appointed 490 years during which he is going to do His work through His chosen people.

Then in verse 25 He establishes the moment in history when that 490 years will commence. In the moment the decree to rebuild the city of Jerusalem went out, those 490 years began ticking away. That moment was in the month of Nisan, in the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2: 1 - 8).

Also in verse 25 we read that from that moment until the Messiah will be 483 years (69 weeks). We read that those 483 years will be broken into two periods, 49 years (7 weeks) and 434 years (62 weeks), and that during the first 49 years the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt, even in troublesome times. For more on this era, read the books of Nehemiah and Ezra.

Verse 26 goes on to explain that after the second part of the 483 years, the 434 year period, that the Messiah would be killed, but not for anything He'd done. It then goes on to say that after this period, some people would come and destroy Jerusalem. Which people? The people of the prince that would someday come himself. And just who is this "prince that shall come?" He is the Antichrist.

So far we have seen that God was very specific about when this time would begin, and when Jesus would be crucified. And there is no doubt that the Babylonian scholars knew of this. Clearly some of them, knowing Daniel's prophesies, had been counting the years from as far back as the day that Artaxerxes issued the decree to Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem, and were awaiting the time of the birth of this new Messiah Prince. But what can we know from this prophesy today?

Well, we know that it was the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem after Jesus' death. So we can deduce that the Antichrist, the prince that is to come, will be from what was the Roman Empire, that is to say Europe.

But more importantly we can immediately see that there remains one week, 7 years, that God has appointed to the Jews. There remains 7 of the 490 years during which time God will accomplish His work through Israel, His chosen people. This is that infamous 7 year period that many refer to as the Tribulation Period, or the Time of Jacob's Troubles. In any case, it is a time when the church apparently won't be here. Right now God accomplishes His work through the Church, the Bride and Body of Christ. This is one reason I believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church. But when will that rapture occur? When will these final 7 years begin?

Daniel 9: 27 goes on to say that the final week will begin when the Antichrist, the prince that shall come and who is of the Roman Empire, confirms a covenant with "many." This event will mark the beginning of that final 7 years, the duration of the covenant will. During this time the Jews will be able to resume their sacrifices and daily oblations, but in the middle of that 7 years the Antichrist will break that covenant.

And now we are back to where we began. I said I don't like eschatology, and this is why. Errant interpretations have actually convinced many that Jesus can't come back just yet. There are multitudes of Christians who believe that as long as the Dome of the Rock mosque stands on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the final 7 years can not begin. They believe that first the Jews must rebuild the Temple so they can have their daily sacrifices.

But there is no scriptural basis for this belief. Daniel said nothing about rebuilding the Temple. Only that the Antichrist would sign a covenant with many (note that it doesn't specify "with the Jews") for 7 years. We can infer that this covenant will allow the Jews to resume their daily sacrifices, but there is no indication that the Temple will be rebuilt. And if you read Ezra 3: 1 - 6 you will discover that when returning from exile, the first thing the Jews did was reestablish their daily oblations, even before laying the foundation of the Temple (verse 6). Thus, between the precedent of Ezra, and Daniel's silence on the matter, there is no reason to believe that the Temple will be rebuilt before any of this can happen.

Nonetheless, there are Christians today who believe that Christ's return must be a while coming because the Dome of the Rock is still standing. And that brings to mind Jesus' warning that He would return, not when we least expected it, but when we think He won't. That's right. Christ said that He would return, not when people least expect it, but when people don't expect His return at all (Matthew 24: 44). And right now is just such a time. Right now, we are not being ready.

But there are events happening today that should make us pay attention. There are events happening today that should shake us from the apathy of our faulty hermeneutics, our errant translation of prophesy.

On 28 February 2007, seven and a half months ago, Haaretz (the Newspaper of Jerusalem, Israel) reported that the newly formed Sanhedrin is actively seeking to restore their daily sacrificial rituals on the Temple Mount. They are trying to do this today, as we speak. And all that stands between today and the beginning of that final 7 years is not a mosque, nor a temple to be rebuilt, but merely a middle-east peace accord to be signed. Presumably one which will accommodate, among others, this newly formed Sanhedrin.

And on 8 October 2007, just 9 days ago, in an article entitled "Israel May OK Division of Jerusalem," the Associated Press reported that Senior Israeli officials are becoming receptive to the idea of dividing Jerusalem with the Palestinians, in a plan that would turn control of the Temple Mount over to "an international body." The implication is that this covenant might accommodate both the Jews and the Palestinians, and the Muslims and the Christians. In other words, an international body would take control of the Temple Mount in order to accommodate "many."

I tend to shy away from end time prophesies. But on these things scriptures are clear, unambiguous. When the prince to come signs that covenant with "many," the Tribulation period will have begun. When that event happens, the final week of Daniel's prophesy will have begun, and there are people in the world who are trying to make this happen right now. What's more, I do not believe that the Church will still be here, but will have been caught up before then to be with Christ in the air. And there is nothing else that need happen first. It really can happen at any moment.

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come (Matthew 24: 37 - 42).

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4: 16, 17).


Matthew 24: 36    But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24: 6    And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Matthew 24: 43, 44    But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Daniel 9: 24 - 27
24    Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 
25    Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 
26    And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 
27    And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Nehemiah 2: 1 - 8
1    And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 
2    Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 
3    And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? 
4    Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. 
5    And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. 
6    And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 
7    Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 
8    And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

Ezra 3: 1 - 6
1    And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 
2    Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 
3    And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening. 
4    They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; 
5    And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD. 
6    From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

Matthew 24: 37 - 42
37    But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
38    For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 
39    And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
40    Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
41    Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
42    Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 

I Thessalonians 4: 16, 17
16    For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 
17    Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.