We are coming to the end of THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. Daniel has been given an amazing revelation from God’s Book of Truth showing how the story of human history plays out to the Day of The Lord and beyond. God has a glorious plan for humanity in a kingdom that endures forever. Yet when we near the end of the book we find that Daniel is much like us. He would like to have a little more information! We seem to be always full of questions – how, when, how long, and why.
God has been faithful to give Daniel (and us) all that we need to know but not necessarily all that we want to know. Much is left for discovery as the end time approaches. As we finish the book of Daniel, most likely we will all be left with questions running through our brains, but we will take the advice that God gave Daniel. We will rest in the revelation of God’s complete victory in the end and wait for our reward.
All of the way to the end we are amazed at the detail in this prophecy. Since much of the revelation has already taken place, we have great insight into what was revealed. We can read secular history books that tell the more complete story of the wars and plots and names of rulers. We have to remember that to Daniel it was future and it looked very painful for his people. The Jews have suffered greatly as Satan has tried over and over to annihilate God’s chosen people so that God can’t fulfill all of the promises and prophecies that He has made to them. Finally the Antichrist will pull out all of the stops to make one more gigantic effort to defeat God’s purposes. But not to worry – God will win and His children are the recipients of all of His glorious gifts.
DAY ONE: THE ULTIMATE EVIL KING IS COMING.
Read: Daniel 11:36-39
A. THE KING WILL WORSHIP SELF AND SUCCESS.
At first thought it would seem that this section is a continuation of the story of the Greek tyrant, Antiochus Epiphanes. However, the facts do not match the historical record of Antiochus’ reign. Most scholars conclude that there is a great gap between verses 35 and 36. The story jumps from Antiochus to a king that is similar to him in many ways. The text now seems to be describing Antichrist who will appear during the final seven years before the second coming of Christ.
The revelation begins by saying that “the king will do as he pleases.” This suggests an absolute dictator with immense power. He will reject the god of his ancestors and all other gods in the pagan world. He will strongly blaspheme the one true God. By trying to eliminate the worship of other gods, he is setting the stage to set himself up as God. He will seem to be in full control and winning the battle. We are suddenly reminded that God is still in control even though he allows this king to rage on for a time. When all that God has decreed has been accomplished, Antichrist will be quickly destroyed.
This evil king will have an obsession with war and conquering. He will invest much wealth in his war machine. It will become so powerful that he will challenge strong kingdoms. Because of his success, many will follow him. We could say that political and military success becomes his personal god.
B. THE KING WILL ATTRACT LOYAL FOLLOWERS.
We are reminded of a similar ruler in our day. The Antichrist will be much like Adolph Hitler, who attracted a huge following as he began his campaign to rule the world. Obviously Antichrist will be a charismatic leader who knows how to win supporters. He will reward them by giving them titles and realms of rulership along with land grants. But their loyalty will have a high price. By casting their lot with Antichrist, they will suffer the same end as this rebellious ruler. It is always interesting to watch people “jump on the bandwagon” to follow a person who seems to have great power and success.
- How does Paul describe Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3?
- What does Paul say that Antichrist will do as an ultimate act of defiance? (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
- How is Antichrist’s destruction described in 2 Thessalonians 2:8?
- Why will people so readily follow this evil king? (Revelation 13:1-3)
- How can we guard against being deceived by the forces of evil? (2 Thessalonians 2:12-15)
- How well prepared are you to face those who would lead you astray today?
- Who is the exact opposite of the Antichrist? What opposite attributes does Christ exhibit that stand out to you?
DAY TWO: THE COMING KING WILL INITIATE WAR.
Read: Daniel 11:40-45
A. THE KING WILL WAGE WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
The political scene on earth will heat up during the tribulation period that is described as, “the time of the end “in verse 40. Forces from Egypt and the Arab nations from the north of Israel will attempt to stop the Antichrist. He will respond with a vengeance by invading many countries, including Israel. Some countries will escape his conquest – Edom, Moab, and Ammon (modern Jordan). These countries belonged to Israel’s “cousins” in the Old Testament. Their land was given to them by God. No reason is given for their escape from the Antichrist, but some have supposed it is because the remnant of Jews will be sent there for protection. He does, however, conquer many other nations and rob them of their treasures.
Scholars differ on exactly who the kings of the south and north represent and exactly which countries are involved. There is much to be discovered as the events begin to unfold.
B. THE KING WILL COME TO HIS PROPHESIED END.
The Antichrist will hear an alarming report of activity or resistance in the north and east. He will respond in great, murderous rage. Then he will make his last great stand in Israel. He will set himself up there in the Beautiful Land. We can see what he has done to imitate Christ. He has tried to present himself as Christ by setting up a one-world government with himself as king and God, ruling from Jerusalem. This is the same picture that Scripture has prophesied for Jesus, the Son of God, ruling over the whole earth from Jerusalem with his saints from the Church and regenerated Israel helping Him. The Antichrist will come to his prophesied end quickly and there will be no one to help him!
In a few short words the destruction of the most evil and powerful ruler the world has ever known is accomplished. We are reminded of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two, wherein the stone cut out not by human hands destroyed the Gentile nations. The times of Gentile domination will end in Jerusalem. Jesus fights for God’s plan and the Antichrist fights against God’s plan. We should never be so foolish as to challenge God’s Word and resist God’s plan. There is no help for us when we set ourselves against what God has determined.
- How does Jesus describe this time of political turmoil in Matthew 24:21-22
- Describe the fatal end of the Antichrist as given in Revelation 19:11-21.
- What is the ultimate destination of the person behind the Antichrist? (Revelation 20:10)
- How would you describe the political climate in Israel today?
- What would be the equivalent today of our making a treaty with an enemy of God?
- Examine your pattern of behavior honestly. In what circumstances are you tempted to “go along with the crowd?”
DAY THREE: GOD’S END TIME PROPHECIES WILL PLAY OUT.
Read: Daniel 12:1-3
A. ISRAEL WILL BE DELIVERED BY MICHAEL.
Daniel would have been concerned about his people as he heard about the warfare going on in chapter eleven. Who can survive this great onslaught? Four great events will threaten Israel’s very existence:
- Israel will be invaded by Egypt and Syria
- Antichrist will march his Roman army through Israel
- Allies from the north will launch a massive attack against Israel
- Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and will persecute the Jews mercilessly.
This will be a time of unprecedented “distress.” So the messenger tells Daniel what will happen. When the trouble or tribulation begins, the great angelic prince assigned to guard Israel will come forth. Israel will be purged, but God will not let them be completely destroyed. When the great onslaught by Antichrist begins, God will send Michael to deliver a remnant who will believe in the one whom they have pierced.
Satan’s attack on the Jews will be a final attempt to prevent the return and reign of Jesus Christ from the throne of David. Antichrist (empowered by Satan) will attempt to exterminate every descendant of Abraham. But one third of the Jews will survive to enter the millennial Kingdom of God. Thus all of Israel left on the earth at that time to enter the Kingdom will be saved according to Romans 11:25-31
B. MULTITUDES WILL BE RESURRECTED TO SHINE LIKE STARS.
There is a ray of hope given here. Michael will rescue the true believers. But what will happen to those who have died during the tribulation and during Old Testament times? They will be resurrected when Jesus returns. Later unbelievers will be resurrected to face their judgment. Believers in their resurrected bodies will shine like beautiful stars and will lead many to righteousness. They will be able to take part in the blessings of the Kingdom.
- What does Revelation say will happen to tribulation martyrs? (Revelation 20:1-4)
- What will happen to unbelievers who have died? (Revelation 20:5)
- Describe what will happen to surviving Jews when Jesus returns. (Zechariah 12:10-14)
- What attributes of God do you see in this passage?
- Believers are a people with great hope. Read Revelation 20:6. What is one thought in this passage that brings you joy?
DAY FOUR: DANIEL’S REVELATIONS ARE TO BE PRESERVED.
Read: Daniel 12:4
A. GOD’S TRUTH WILL BE GUARDED.
Daniel now knows the plan. This information is a treasure to be carefully guarded. So many people on earth have searched and gone to great lengths to know facts about the future. Fortune tellers, seers and futurists have predicted events that will happen. They are right once in a while by careful study of trends, by lucky guesses or by keen insight into human nature. But God’s prophecies and revelations are right 100 percent of the time and often with great detail.
B. DANIEL’S REVELATIONS WILL PROVIDE ACCURATE TRUTH.
Scripture reveals that there will be a time of great increase in knowledge near the end. This has been partially brought about by the technology that has been developed in the 20th and 21st centuries. But the knowledge that is an heirloom to be passed on to future generations is the true knowledge of God’s great plan for man. God has not left us to wonder how the age will end or whether man will destroy himself with nuclear weapons. We should be most grateful that we know how history will be played out.
- What are some of the places where people today seek knowledge?
- What does Scripture say about the value of the Word of God? (Psalm 19:7-11)
- How qualified do you feel to explain the end times after this study of Daniel?
- With whom will you share some nuggets of truth about the glorious future that God has planned for his children?
DAY FIVE: MESSENGER DISCUSSED THE TIMING OF EVENTS.
Read: Daniel 12: 5-13
A. TIME IS EXPRESSED IN YEARS.
Daniel must have questions! We are not surprised – we always have many questions when we study scripture. The Bible is given to tremendous understatement. It often covers decades and generations with quick summary statements. God, in His wisdom, has left many blanks to be filled in for his truth seekers. Some things have been discovered over the years, but much still remains to be discovered in the end times and in Heaven. Many people today jokingly keep a running list of “questions to ask God” when we meet him face to face.
Daniel’s first question is asked by one of the angels and has to do with timing. “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” He is obviously asking how long the intense persecution of the Jews will last once the Antichrist has broken his covenant with them. This will be the last period of time that will finally bring the Jews to their knees.
The answer is given in prophetic language – “It will be for time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” The phrase time, times and half a time corresponds to the same phrase in Daniel 7:25, which is interpreted as three and one-half years. This is the equivalent of the 42 months of the reign of the “beast” and the last half of Daniel’s 70th seven.
B. TIME IS EXPRESSED IN DAYS.
Daniel then asked, “What will the outcome of all this be? Daniel would like more detail than he has been given. He is told that no more information is needed. As the end times approach, the wise will begin to understand more fully, but the wicked will not be interested. As for Daniel, he will not live to see the fulfillment.
In addition to the years, two sets of days are given. Antichrist will set up an abomination in the middle of the seventieth seven of years. At that time he will end the regular sacrifices at the Temple. So, 1290 days and 1335 days will be counted from that time. The exact meaning of these days is not known but will have significance in the end times. Some have suggested a 75 day interval between the second coming and the Millennial Kingdom wherein Christ will first conduct judgments and then assign roles for the kingdom.
C. DANIEL WILL BE GIVEN REST.
This vision concludes the revelations given to Daniel. He has been a good and faithful servant during the Babylonian captivity and beyond, but he will not live to see all of the visions play out. He is one of the few Bible characters who finished well. He was faithful as a youth and as an older man. Daniel will rest (die) and then be resurrected in due time to receive his reward.
- What do you think it means to “break the power of the holy people?”
- Often it takes much suffering to break our pride. What does Romans say about suffering in Romans 5:3-5?
- How does the instruction to Daniel 12:13 prove the teaching of resurrection from the Old Testament?
- How willing are you to accept the fact that we don’t have all of our questions answered exactly when we would like?
- What is one question that you plan to ask when you see God?
Before the twentieth century, Daniel’s prophecies would have been very difficult to understand. The Middle East was comprised of poor and even backward nations. It hardly seemed like a place for a major world battle. There were very few Jews living in the Land of Israel – an area that came to be called Palestine in the second century. But the events that have taken place in recent history are bringing new understanding.
- The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948.
- The discovery of oil in Arab states has given them new leverage on the world scene.
- There has been a growth of terrorism and radical religious fundamentalism that creates a major conflict among Middle Eastern countries.
- European nations are discussing the formation of a confederation of nations.
- There has been a growth in technology that makes some prophecies possible.
- There has been a development of nuclear weapons that make some war prophecies possible.
There are still questions about how all of the details will play out, but we can know that the prophecies that have already been fulfilled have been literal and accurate. Therefore, we have reason to believe that the end time prophecies will be perfectly fulfilled as well.
One of the major lessons to be learned from Daniel is that God is sovereign. He is in control of nations and rulers and events. Gratefully he has given us a broad outline of what will happen on the road to our glorious future.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK: To reign with Christ should be our highest ambition.
CHALLENGE: Study to know God’s plan and share it at every opportunity.
[button style=”2″ caption=”Lesson Download” link=”https://thriveministry.box.com/s/tjpia6vwycpb0s8o8b8x”][/button]