Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers…Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
In order to understand the events of the time before Jesus returns, we need to know some key events that are mentioned in the book of Revelation, as well as 2 Thessalonians 2, and Matthew 24. Two of those events that I mention today will be seven years of prophetic significance called “Daniel’s Seventieth Week,” and “The Abomination of Desolation.”
There is a period of time that is referred to related to the end times. It is known as “Daniel’s Seventieth Week,” or “The Seven Years of Tribulation.” In Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel was getting a prophetic lesson from the angel Gabriel about things to come. He started by explaining that 70 weeks were decreed about the Jews and Jerusalem to “finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place (vs. 24).”
That’s a mouthful. The idea is that 69 weeks are completed, but there is one more week yet to be fulfilled to finish everything listed in verse 24. A ‘seven’ represents a seven-year period, so seventy ‘7 year periods’ is equal to a total of 490 years. That period of time is to finish the things mentioned in Daniel 9:24. It’s more complicated than that, but for now, let’s just say that most people believe that there is one week, or seven years left, where the rest of the prophetic events will take place surrounding Jesus’ return.
Those seven years begin with an agreement, which is mentioned in Daniel 9:27, “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
An covenant of some sort will be forged with the antichrist figure, the man of lawlessness as 2 Thessalonians 2:3 calls him, with the Jews in Israel. Daniel 9:26 calls him ‘the prince.’ That will begin the seven years. It could be a peace treaty, or a pact that enables the Jews to take control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where there are now two Muslim shrines. Perhaps a quickly built Jewish temple will be built so that sacrifices would be resumed. A temple of some sort will have to be rebuilt in order for it to be desecrated.
In the middle of the seven years, there will an abrupt end to the Jewish sacrifices. The antichrist, or man of lawlessness, will offer a sacrifice that is an abomination to Jews. He will take his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. According to Matthew 24:15-16, this is when everything busts loose: “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
According to Daniel 9:27, this happens in the middle of the seven, or week: “And he (the man of lawlessness or the prince) shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.” That means that this abomination of desolation will take place three and a half years into the seven years, the midway point of this seventieth week.
We may or may not know when this covenant is made between this man and the Jews. We may know it if we hear that the Temple is being rebuilt. There are a large number of Jews in Israel who have all of the articles for the Temple, as well as a governing body of Rabbis, waiting for this day. We will know that something is up if the Temple Mount is no longer controlled by Muslims. Some people interpret the ‘temple of God,’ referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 to mean something else symbolically. But if you stick to the face value understanding of Scripture, comparing one passage with another, then when Paul refers to ‘the temple,’ it means the temple.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:32-33, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.” Many quote Matthew 24:36, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Jesus went on to say that it would be like the days of Noah when people were swept away unwittingly. But Noah knew that the flood was coming and once his ark was finished, he most likely knew that the rain would come at any time. Although we can’t know when this seven year period is going to begin, we can read the signs of Matthew 24:15-28 to know that Jesus is near, at our very gates.
This is a lot to wrap your mind around if you have never sorted through any of the events of Revelation or other prophetic passages. But hopefully you will have some explanations that make sense to you. As we go on, maybe you can eventually piece together a framework that will help you to understand end time events.
“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36
*Picture from Google images