Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Once and Future Antiochus

Here on the last and most joyous day of Hanukkah it's fitting to look forward as well as back, to the future persecution that the past one prefigures.

When four of His talmidim came to Him to ask about the time of His Second Coming, Yeshua spoke of false messiahs, wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, and then of a worldwide persecution of His people. He tells us the event that would spark off this persecution:
Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Mat. 24:15-22)
Here the Master refers to two key events prophesied by Daniel: The Abomination of Desolation (Dan. 9:27, 11:31) and the Great Tribulation (Dan. 12:1). The important thing to realize is that the passages in question had already been fulfilled by Antiochus Epimanes.

They had already been fulfilled, and they will be fulfilled again.

The key to Biblical prophecy is to understand that it is about pattern, not just prediction. Recognizing this puts aside the often venomous debates about, for example, whether the Olivet Discourse is a prophecy of the Second Coming or of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The answer, as to the question of whether the Abomination referred to Antiochus or to a future desecration of the Temple, is both.

There is another link between Hanukkah and the End Time Antiochus. Daniel 12:11-12 says, "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!" These two numbers are unique in the prophecies, which usually measure the last period as 3 1/2 "times" (roughly years), 42 months, or 1260 days--thus, the prophecy here speaks of two events 30 days and 75 days after the end of the Seventieth Week.

There is a strong indication in Scripture that the Seventieth Week of Daniel's prophecy will end on Yom Kippur. Hanukkah just so happens to come about 75 days after Yom Kippur. It is no stretch to suppose that just as the Temple was cleansed and rededicated on Hanukkah over two millennia ago, it will be again in a Hanukkah yet to come.

And when that day comes, those who see it will surely be called blessed.


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