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Lowell Brueckner

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The Great Tribulation


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.”
Daniel 12:4

Chapter 12:1-13                                  The Great Tribulation  

1.  "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 
2.  And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 
3.  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 
4.  But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." 
5.  Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 
6.  And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, "How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?" 
7.  And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. 
8.  I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, "O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?" 
9.  He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 
10.  Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 
11.  And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. 
12.  Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. 
13.  But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days." 
Is there anyone, who wonders why I have used Daniel 12:4 as a text over the last half of the book? Of course, the last half concerns prophecy and, personally, I view it a little differently than the rest of the truth in the Bible. I often remark that I believe in historical Christianity and the truth, which the true church has held to over the centuries. One of my most frequent quotes is from John Wesley: “New doctrine is false doctrine.” The reason that I emphasize it is because in the past I heard much about God doing a new thing in the earth today. As a result, the old things, in general, were laid aside and new things were glorified. For example, old hymns were ignored and forgotten, while a whole new field of music entered the church.

Much more seriously, theology was almost scorned and doctrine was minimized. We heard that we should lay aside doctrinal differences and concentrate on unity, showing our “Christian” virtues by living together in harmony. I saw even the harmful teaching of Roman Catholicism, which necessitated the Reformation, ignored, and cultists were being treated as brothers. As time went on, it became very clear that this movement was not of God and I began to protest and counter with truth from His Word.

End-time prophecy presented me with a problem. Throughout my youth, I learned the pre-millennialist point-of-view and I could not and cannot accept the amillennial and post-millennial positions on biblical prophecy. John’s Revelation, chapter 19 and 20 are crystal-clear and I cannot understand how anyone, at any time, can interpret them in any way, other than literally. Early, well-known church fathers, even Polycarp, a direct disciple of John, left pre-millennial statements. When some of these works were re-discovered, they brought on a revival of pre-millennial thinking in the early 1600s. However, reformation teaching is generally associated with post- or amillennialism. 

That was before the most amazing event of our times... the return of the Jews to their native land, at the end of the 19th Century and continuing to the present day, and the re-establishment of the Hebrew state in 1948. R. C. Ryle and C. H. Spurgeon, pre-millennialists, as well, saw that it would happen, as the movement was just beginning. How Christians can ignore such a powerful fulfillment of a promise of God to His people through Ezekiel, among several other prophets, is beyond my comprehension.

Years ago, I was given some books on the complete works of Jonathan Edwards and I read through them. Included were many letters, written to acquaintances in Europe, in which he debated the prophetical Scriptures. I cannot quote him directly, because to find the statement, among his vast writings, would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, I remember very clearly, his statement in one of these letters, which said the following, in essence: “I think, that it will not be possible to accurately predict these Scriptures until we come closer to the time of their fulfillment.

One day, as I again tried to reconcile my position on “old truth” and relatively “new views” on prophecy, someone suggested the answer could be found in Daniel 12:4, where it states that the prophecies were sealed until the time of the end. Daniel’s end-time revelations were for a far-distant future and were not to be a preoccupation for the people of his day. Today, as we approach the actual fulfilling of these events, the general scope of these predictions (although not all the particular details) seem quite clear.

I believe that a blindness has come upon many. I fear that it could be something equal to that of the Jews, when Christ literally came to earth and fulfilled over 300 details of Old Testament prophecy. Jesus said to them, “Your enemies will… tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you… because you did not know the time of your visitation(Lk.19:43,44). “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Mt.16:3).

“At that time…” Now we see clearly that the last verses of chapter eleven occur in the end-times with the involvement of the Antichrist and not in the inter-testament period of Antiochus Epiphanes. That time is almost upon us! Michael, the mighty angel and great prince, “who has charge of your people”, is arising! The amazing prophecies of Daniel are being unsealed and the Great Tribulation is almost here: “A time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.” Jesus confirms it: “Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Mt.24:21). The Hebrew chronometer, set for seven years, is about to start its countdown. 

In order to get the whole story on any truth, we must find all that the Scripture reveals concerning it. It is never wise to come to a total conclusion from solely considering one portion. Concerning the deliverance of Daniel’s people, predicted in verse 1, we must also take into account Zechariah’s end-time prediction. We looked at it in the last chapter: “In the whole land, declares the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive” (Zech.13:8). The promise of verse 1 is to the third, “everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” 

We also learned in the last chapter that prophecies, viewing events from a great distance, will often combine them. Gabriel is still the speaker in chapter 12 and he combines the first and second resurrections. Jesus distinguishes a little more, showing that there is a resurrection of life and one of judgment: “Those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn.5:29), but six centuries after Daniel, John clearly shows the separation: “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God... They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power” (Rev.20:4,5,6).
Although the book applies to Daniel’s people, the promise to the wise is made for all those, who take part in the first resurrection and is general spiritual principle. Jew and Gentile who turn many to righteousness will shine in glory. In the end times, knowledge, in general, shall increase. People running to and fro in a passionate search for knowledge will uncover much, as the last days approach, but also, prophetical knowledge, in particular, will increase, as we have been learning. God will open the eyes of the Jews to spiritual knowledge in the Tribulation period and light will begin to shine upon them even before the Tribulation.

Gabriel ends his declaration with verse 4. Daniel is still situated at the same place, at the banks of the Tigris, where we saw him at the beginning of chapter ten. There is an angel on each bank, on his side and across from him. The Man in linen (10:5-9) is above the waters and a question is directed to Him: “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” He raises both hands and swears with absolute authority: “For a time, times and half a time.” This is that important 3 ½ year period in prophecy, the final half of the 70th Week (9:27). It is the reign of Antichrist (7:25) and the outpouring of the bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth. The woman of Revelation 12, who is Israel, flees from the serpent to be nourished in the wilderness (Rev.12:14).

There is a mighty Angel who appears to John at this same prophetic time and it is hard for me to see Him, as anyone less than the Son of God. He has authority over land and sea and swears that there will be no more delay… the final unfolding of the purposes of God will then occur. I suggest that you carefully study Revelation 10 and the characteristics of this Angel.

The Man above the stream speaks of the Tribulation period of the Jews, “the shattering of the power of the holy people”, declaring its end. Once again, we learn of the purifying of the remnant of Israel… the survivors, who make up a third of the population (ch.11:33-35; Zech.13:9). Perhaps the testimony, in the first six chapters, of Daniel and his three companions is given to show the overcoming, supernatural deliverance of the Jews in these times of trial. For these, God has tremendous plans over the following one thousand years.

The book is sealed until the time of the end approaches and Daniel himself cannot fathom the words that he heard. The heavenly messenger tells of a separation. There will come a time when the pure will become purer through a refining work, while the wicked will turn increasingly wicked. John said, in the last chapter of his book, which were among the final words of the New Testament and the entire Revelation of God: “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy” (Rev.22:11).

I believe that time is also upon us. The grey areas are disappearing; there are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, while the world and the apostate church enters a deadly spiral into the throes of perversion and unbelief. It is a time also of the separation of the light of truth from the darkness of deception. We are seeing the beginning of a total collision of world views. There is no possible union between the two… “None of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” Paul spoke of the coming of Christ, “You are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.”           (1 Th.5:4-5). 

Only Jesus was worthy to break the seven seals of a scroll held in God’s right hand (Rev.5:1-7). The scroll would hold the first events of the end-times. I suppose, that most people see the seals broken inside Daniel’s 70th week, but I think that they will start to occur before… in fact, I believe the first (the beginning of sorrows, Mt.24:8) have already begun to occur.

When the Antichrist prohibits sacrifices in the temple and defiles the temple through the Abomination of Desolation, there will follow 1,260 Hebrew days (3 ½ years) until the end of the Tribulation. It terminates with the Battle of Armageddon. To this, thirty days are added and then, forty-five more. Some things will happen between the Tribulation and the Millennium. For one thing, there will be a tremendous clean-up after the Battle, in which carnivorous birds will participate (Ap.19:21). The Judgment of the Nations will occur (Mt.24:29-31 and Mt.25:31-46). Then Israel will begin a transition, until finally it is ready to play its role in the Millennium. Therefore there is a 75-day period between the Tribulation and the Millennium.

Daniel’s ministry ends and his soul is called into paradise, while his body sleeps in the grave, awaiting the resurrection of the just. He will “shine like the brightness of the sky above… and like the stars forever and ever.” What a massive part he played in the plan of God and how he has enlightened us concerning things that lie ahead! Thank you, Daniel, and all glory be to God for His friendly light in sharing with His common disciples, things deserving the attention of kings. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making it possible that we should receive freely all things (Ro.8:32). Thank you, Holy Spirit, for illuminating our dull minds and softening our hard hearts, so that eternal truth might enter (Jn.16:12).


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