Vatican City (AFP) – Pope Francis on Thursday said the Catholic Church will not accept a Middle East without Christians, who often find themselves forced to flee areas of conflict and unrest in the region. “We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians,” he said after meeting with patriarchs from Syria, Iran and Iraq, before calling for “the universal right to lead a dignified life and freely practise one’s own faith to be respected.” (Read more)
After reading the Pope’s statement, “We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians,” I could not help but be reminded of this verse:
Daniel 9:26 (NASB) 26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
“The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing…” Of course, we are all aware that this statement is generally interpreted to be a reference to the crucifixion of our Lord Christ and the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 AD. I wonder, however, if this is so. Until Messiah Christ (and His followers) has “nothing,” the prophecy cannot have been completely fulfilled. The Messiah cannot have been cut-off until His church is cut-off. That has not occurred, yet. Perhaps, Pope Francis’ words are a prophecy themselves. Soon, perhaps sooner than we imagine, Christianity will be “cut-off” from the Middle East. It is happening in Egypt, Syria, and other parts of the land of Islam.
I cannot help but wonder also if the rest of the prophecy has yet to be fulfilled as well. The “people of the prince who is to come” are Muslims, not Romans; and, the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary” is not 70 AD and the Roman destruction, but the future destruction of Jerusalem at the end of days (as the remainder of verse 26 implies). Of course, the “sanctuary” would not refer to the original Temple since it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, unless the reference is to the section of the original Temple still standing, that is, the Wailing Wall? Or — is it possible that the word, “sanctuary” in the original language is not a reference to the Temple at all; but rather, to the present adorning desecration, i.e, the Dome of the Rock? In another post, I will address this. The Hebrew word used in Daniel 9:26 is a word that does not always refer to the Temple. If this were the case, this conclusion would lead us to interpret the 70th week as the end-of-days Armageddon prophesied by Zechariah 14:2-5 NASB and other passages. If you think about it, lots of “pieces” fit with this view.
Only the Lord knows. Jesus come quickly.
Interesting thoughts. But remember that God is raising up believers in each of these places. The underground church often thrives under persecution. The church may “have nothing” in terms of power and acceptance yet there will be a people of God from every nation, tribe and tongue around the throne, and he will not leave himself without witness in any nation.
Peter – how true; but I cannot help but wonder if “having nothing” in Jerusalem is in some way an end-of-days neccessary last step to Jews coming to Christ. Luke 13:35 (NASB) 35 “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”
Opinions vary on the identity of the “temple” in 2 Thess 2:4
Is it a rebuilt temple? Is that what the Scriptures say?
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
2 Corinthians 6:16 “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
and referring to the entire church assembly….
Ephesians 2:22 “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
No rebuilt temple here.
So when 2 Thess 2 says…
(2Th 2:3) Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
(2Th 2:4) who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
What could be more antichrist, more blasphemous and evil….more satanic….than a person (a temple of God) who professes to be a Christian but whose temple is corrupted by apostatizing to Islam?
This apostasy is what has always been seen in the history of Islam when it conquers Christian cultures. In the best interest of peace and of loving their lives, Christians have capitulated when they should have been going to war for their faith, not loving their lives even when threatened with death (Rev 12:11). That time is approaching us again.
So what goes on in a temple? Worship. And that’s what we find comes to a stop in Dan 9:27.
The identity of what is being referred to as “sacrifices and grain offerings” is very significant because from an Islamic end time’s perspective, the abomination who makes desolation is the one who brings them to an end. What exactly are the “sacrifice and grain offerings” referred to in Dan 9:27? It cannot be referring to a cessation of temple sacrifices and offerings at Jesus’ crucifixion, because Judaism continued long after Jesus’ crucifixion and even after the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem in AD70. It must be referring to something else. New Testament Scriptures provide us with clues.
Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Hebrews 13:15, “By him therefore let us offer THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips GIVING THANKS to his name.”
1 Peter 2:5,“And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who OFFER THE SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES that please him because of Jesus Christ.”
The stopping of sacrifices and grain offerings is referring to the cessation, or stopping of worship.
The text implies that for the first part of this end time period, worship of Jesus will be allowed under this covenant, but will then be abruptly stopped. We are seeing this today. Under the Pact of Umar’s stipulations of Christians being allowed to worship (but not louder than the Muslims nearby, and the no ringing of church bells), the reneging of this covenant ends their protection of limited Christian worship of God under Islamic subjugation. Now, in Muslim majority countries all over the world but particularly in the middle east, Christians are not just prohibited from worshiping, they no longer have that protection and are instead being murdered.
It would seem very fantastic if we are in some midpoint of end times events, the “middle of the week” of Daniel 9:27, and have 3.5 years to go before Christ’s return. I’m not so sure the “week” of Daniel is a literal, exact time frame but perhaps used just to denote a separation of events, not times. I’m open to other interpretations on this, but as far as the rest of the interpretation, it seems remarkably similar to what is happening today, right now, in Muslim majority countries.
Will the Temple need be rebuilt before 2 Thess 2 can be fulfilled? When 2 Thess 2 was written the Temple was standing. The point Paul was making was that the antichrist, the “man of lawlessness” would blaspheme God by “taking his seat” in the place that only God sat — the Temple, and more likely, the Holy of Holies. The Temple was standing when Paul wrote and for him to write otherwise would have made the words of no meaning to the audience of his day. Likewise, in the day when the man of lawlessness is “revealed,” the point will not be that the Temple has to be rebuilt before the prophecy can be fulfilled. Rather, the man of lawlessness will blaspheme God by “exalting himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” 2 Thess 2:4. This specific blasphemy is what we must look for rather than a rebuilt temple. However, this does not mean that the location of the previous Temple has no significance in the fulfillment of the prophecy. The Temple was located upon the Temple Mount; and if it is not standing then the issue is where was it standing – the Temple Mount; and therefore, the Mount is the location we need look for as a a marker or “type” for specific fuflllment. This is why the Dome of the Rock that is “standing” (Matt 24:15) precisely over the foundation stone of the Ark of the Covenant is so important; and Muhammad’s “ascent” is a blasphemous attempt by Islam to usurp the deity of Jesus Christ upon whom Muhammad passes by on his way to heaven for his audience with Allah. Islam’s blasphemy of Christ in the placing of the Dome of the Rock over the foundation stone has this specific purpose to not only blaspheme Christ but also Christianity since Islam defeated Christianity in the Middle East in 7th century AD.
It is also possible that a future “progressive” fulfillment on this specific location will take place whereby Islamists will name Jerusalem as the “headquarters” and the Temple Mount will be the ground upon which that declaration is made. Daniel 11:45.