This article is the fifth in a series that looks at Israel’s expectation for the tribulation and the end of their exile. This was outlined in the introductory article. As noted there, these expectations are derived from writings by Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple period.
In this article, we’ll look at more of the expectations derived from Pitre’s findings and enumerated by Dr. Michael Heiser.(1) The framework we’ll use to discuss these two will come from the seventh expectation for two stages of tribulation; a preliminary stage, and the Great Tribulation (see Part-3).
9. An eschatological tyrant, opponent, or anti-Messiah arises during the tribulation
13. The Jerusalem temple is defiled and/or destroyed during the tribulation
To delve further into the expectations above as they apply to the descendants of Israel, we must step back momentarily and recall some key points mentioned in previous articles. As modern Christians, influenced by the work of Christ during this Time of the Gentiles, we can’t view the tribulation of Israel in the time of Christ from our ideas and expectations about the subject.
Two Advents of the Messiah
As mentioned in the introduction, a primary reason for the stumbling of the Jews concerning the advent of Yeshua the Messiah was their blindness to Christ’s role as the suffering servant of God. Yet this role was essential in God’s plan for not only Israel’s reconciliation and restoration, but for that of the world as well.
As it relates to Israel and Judah, Messiah’s first advent would secure the promise and intent of the Father toward a faithful remnant. Though redemption would be achieved for all through the Lamb of God, only a remnant, a portion of Israel and Judah, would be chosen by grace at that time (Romans 11:2-7). When viewed from the already, but not yet aspect of God’s work in Christ, this presents an initial (already) fulfillment of the promises and prophecies of old (Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc). Those called by God in the time of Christ and noted by Paul are referred to as the firstfruits of salvation. Those called the first are not the only. Such is the case with the descendants of Israel. It’s not until the future (not yet) advent of Yeshua, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, that God will fulfill those promises and prophecies for all Israel. Once Christ’s earthly kingdom is established, they will become his people again and he will be their God (Isaiah 2:1-5; Jeremiah 23:1-6; Micah 4-7).
The Basis for Something Greater
Just as modern Christians, whether Jew or Gentile, can see the application of this already, but not yet schema in our own relationship with Christ our Lord, there is also one for the disobedient in Israel. As mentioned in Part-1, “the already relates to the work God has or is achieving in Christ now as the basis for something greater. The not yet indicates the fullness of that greater work in Christ is not manifest until some point in the future.”
- The long periods of tribulation experienced by the descendants of Israel and Judah are for their correction yes, but ultimately it’s to humble them and lead them back to God and his righteousness in Yeshua.
- This correction serves as the basis for something greater, yet future; a new covenant with God and his Christ.
Firstfruits and Latter Fruits
One other application of the already, but not yet aspect of God’s work in Israel and Judah is concerning the faithful remnant chosen by grace in Yeshua, the anointed one of Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks prophecy. Here, as in most of Daniel’s prophecies for his people as partakers of the fifth and never-ending kingdom, the fulfillment occurs in part for those firstfruits of Christ’s initial advent. With the inauguration of that everlasting kingdom we see the seeds of it planted with eleven Jewish apostles who witnessed the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and Paul, who considers himself as an apostle born out of season (1 Corinthians 15:3-11). These twelve apostles and thousands more disciples were called first in Judea and Samaria where Jews and Israelites dwelt at that time. They were the recipients of reconciliation through grace by faith in Yeshua the Christ; the firstfruits of an everlasting kingdom revealed to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 2:44-45; Acts 3:17-4:4).
What was not revealed to Daniel was the already, but not yet nature of that fulfillment. That was hidden within the mystery of God in Christ, and wasn’t revealed by Yeshua until after his resurrection to glory and also later upon the distribution of God’s Holy Spirit as the guarantor of the new creation to follow. We are not yet the recipients of that new creation which is fulfilled when Yeshua returns.
In addition, we can see that nested within Christ’s work to bring many sons to glory, including those of Daniel’s people, is another already, but not yet schema for all Israel; they already have a promise of a new covenant with the Lord their righteousness (Jeremiah 23:1-6), but they won’t enter into it as a whole until Yeshua returns to establish his kingdom and personally rule all nations from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-5; Micah 4:1-5).
When we read the prophecies of Daniel as they relate to the fifth and everlasting kingdom being established on earth, we have to consider the multi-faceted work being done to achieve it. The interpretations about this single prophecy are more numerous than can be imagined, and all likely reflect some elements of insight and truth. But unless they account for the mystery of God in Christ, recognize the separate path to redemption for the faithful remnant of Israel versus those temporarily cut off, and factor in the already, but not yet pattern of completing the fifth kingdom, a clear, coherent, and unified understanding will be missing. This is what we witness.
My goal is not to prove the application, timing, or even a specific interpretation of Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks prophecy, but to let the larger context shape the conclusions derived and within which those conclusions must also fit. For myself, the characteristics of the larger context lead me to conclude that Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks prophecy has already been fulfilled for Daniel’s people in the work of Yeshua’s first advent and by the salvation achieved through Messiah’s death and resurrection. The grace of God, extended to all Israel and Judah, was completed in Christ. We know that our Lord’s sacrifice was sufficient for all (Romans 5:12-21). In the last 2200 years, some in Israel and Judah have been called to see and hear that saving grace (a faithful remnant), while the rest were hardened (Romans 11:7-12).
According to two interpretations which speak of the completed work, one by Peter Gentry(2), and the other by Jason Parry(3); both of which I find to be insightful and mostly satisfying within the context described above (though not entirely), Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy outlines six objectives to be accomplished for this people:
- End the rebellion
- Do away with sin
- Atone for the sin and iniquity of the people
- Bring in everlasting righteousness
- Seal up (fulfill) prophetic vision
- Anoint the Most Holy place (person)
By the time our resurrected Lord ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father, having received all power and authority in heaven and on earth, all of this was completed according to the will and purpose of the Father (Fourth Gospel(4) 17:1-9).
Regarding the anti-Messiah that arises during the tribulation experienced by Judah and Jerusalem, Parry provides some details about the Roman king of the Fourth Kingdom who best fits this description(5).
Since Dan 11:36–12:3 gives the most detailed of the descriptions of the transition between the fourth and fifth kingdoms in the book of Daniel, and since this passage describes the inauguration of the fifth kingdom as occurring in the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 67–70, the corresponding descriptions of the fourth and fifth kingdoms in Daniel 2 and 7 should also match this history.
In Daniel 7, the fourth beast initially has ten horns representing ten kings, and then an eleventh little horn (king) grows and puts down three of the prior kings. This eleventh king makes war with the holy people for a time, times, and half a time until the fourth beast is slain and the Son of Man is given the kingdom instead. The little horn is therefore a fourth-kingdom Roman king who persecutes the holy people for three and a half years before the inauguration of the fifth kingdom. This three-and-a-half-year persecution is also described in Dan 12:7 as a shattering of the power of the holy people, which suggests that the little horn of Daniel 7 plays a role in the preceding prophetic narrative of 11:36–12:3. The fourth-kingdom king who plays a central role in the narrative of 11:36–45, before the inauguration of the fifth kingdom in 12:1–3, is the “king of the north.” Since the king of the north can now be identified as Vespasian, the description of the little horn in Daniel 7 should match Vespasian.
Vespasian made war against Galilee and Judaea from roughly April 67 at Ptolemais (J.W. 3.29) until the fall of Jerusalem in September 70 (J.W. 6.407; 435), a period of three and a half years. The three kings who fell in the context of Vespasian’s rise to power were the Emperors Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, all of whom had unusually short reigns in the year AD 69, the same year in which Vespasian became Emperor. Although Vespasian is usually considered the ninth rather than the eleventh Emperor, the “ten kings” of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 are a reasonable estimate of the actual number, while also being symbolic of completeness. The estimate is even more accurate if Julius Caesar is counted as the first Emperor, as some ancient witnesses attest, since Vespasian would then be the tenth Emperor.
The destruction and desolation of the temple in Jerusalem is the very thing which Yeshua cited from Daniel when he was warning his disciples (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). Yeshua understood the coming destruction from a larger context, and not just one of correction for Judah. As noted by Parry – Christ’s “work on the cross brought a theological end to the OT sacrificial system, whereas the destruction of the temple in AD 70 brought an historical end to the sacrificial system.”(6)
The Gospel of Luke clarifies for us that these events represented a fulfillment of scripture and introduced a period of continued distress for this people until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
To discover more about the time of the Gentiles, what it means and where it leads, Read more.
All of this appears to reflect what Pitre describes as the preliminary tribulation. Keep in mind that the duration of the tribulation and distress wouldn’t have been apparent to the scribes and commentators who recognized it. Likewise the duration wasn’t revealed to Daniel either, though the promise of their salvation through it was proclaimed. A primary reason for hiding the duration has to do with its relationship to the mystery of God in Christ, and the work to be accomplished in him to secure those promises.
To address the greater tribulation for all Israel and Jerusalem, we must look to what scripture refers to as the Time of Jacobs Trouble. This period of intense trial and testing begins several years before Messiah’s second advent and continues until he completes the time of the Gentiles (Revelation 10:5-7). Just as God called a faithful remnant at Messiah’s first advent from Israel and Judah, so will he also call out from the world descendants from all twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:1-8). Together this faithful remnant will be marked and protected by God, and serve as an example to all of Israel, Judah, and those in Jerusalem. Finally, they too will be redeemed from the earth and will rule with Christ during his thousand-year reign over the nations (Revelation 14:1-5). In this way all Israel will be saved.
25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.
To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for the descendants of Israel and Judah, and for the world, read my recent book –
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View
- Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/
- Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and the New Exodus, Peter J. Gentry, Southern Baptists Journal of Theology 14.1 (2010, page 39)
- Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in Daniel 11:36-12:3, Jason Thomas Parry, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54.3 (September 2011)
- Due to the dispute over the authorship of the fourth gospel, typically attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ, I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. I will therefore refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
- Desolation of the Temple and Messianic Enthronement in Daniel 11:36-12:3, Jason Thomas Parry, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54.3, (September 2011) pages 523-524
- Ibid; page 525
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