Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The End Of Time

Biblegems # 51

Question (with background):
Daniel 8: 19-25 is a prophecy about Greece overcoming the Persian and Mede Empire and then dividing into four separate kingdoms following the king's death. This clearly matches what happened with Alexander the Great after his death in 323 BC. But in verse 19 it says that these events will take place at the very end of time. Did Daniel mean the end of time itself, or did he mean the end of the Old Covenant time, or something completely different?

In this passage, Daniel has been given a vision of the End Times. As the question above indicates, Daniel 8:19 places the rise and fall of these kingdoms at the end of human history: I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end (see also verse 17).

Verses 20-25 present a classic example of dual fulfillment of predictive prophecy. The “stern faced king” of verse 23 predicts the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek Emperor of the 2nd cent. B.C. Antiochus’ rule over Israel was brutal and aimed at assimilating the Jewish people into the Greek culture. Antiochus sought to cement his grip on the Jews by forcing them to sacrifice a pig to Zeus1.

But Antiochus is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. He foreshadows “the man of lawlessness”:
2 Th. 2:3-4 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for [that day will not come] until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

This the Beast and the Antichrist who is identified in the book of Revelation:
Rev. 13:3-5 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months (see Rev. 13:8ff).

Daniel’s phrase “the appointed time of the end” in 8:19 treats the unfolding events of history as if we were seeing them through a telescope. It takes the distant future from Daniel’s point of view and brings it rapidly up close. But in doing this, the vision also “compacts” the events of unfolding history, so that whole empires and several centuries are compressed into a few verses of Scripture. The rise and fall of Media-Persia and the Greek empire move imediately in this “compressed” view to the very end of human history and the unleashing of the Day of God’s wrath on rebellious mankind.

1 1 Maccabees 2:15

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