For the past few months at the end of each Tape of the Month broadcast, I have asked viewers to send their Bible questions to the Wake Up
Seminars office. Unfortunately, the taped program format does not always allow me enough time to answer as many incoming questions as I would like. (I receive some very good questions!) So, in this Day Star issue, I thought I would begin with one of those questions that requires a more in-depth explanation and has been frequently asked. The question is important and the answer, as I understand this matter, is very serious.
Question:Two verses in Daniel 12 have puzzled me for years. What do they mean? Do they apply to the end-time or were they fulfilled in ages past? Here are the verses:"From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days."(Daniel 12:11,12)
L.W.The location of these two verses in the last chapter of Daniel is important because the context and focus in Daniel 12 is the end-time. Although the location alone does not necessarily mandate an end-time application, many contributing issues help to resolve this point. Follow the progression laid out in these two verses. First, we begin with a period that starts with "the termination of the daily," then 1,290 days later, there is a " setting up of the abomination that causes desolation," and finally a blessing is bestowed upon the person(s) who endures 45 more days to reach the 1,335th day. After I explain the meaning of the "abomination that causes desolation," the reader may be tempted to take the last verse quite literally – "Blessed is the one . . . ." Clearly, this verse does confirm what so many other verses in the Bible teach: Overwhelming destruction is coming during the end-time and the saints are not excluded.
A diagram of the time-period mentioned in these verses is shown below:
For reasons that will be discussed, I believe these two verses define the maximum length of the Great Tribulation as 1,335 days. I say "maximum length" because Jesus indicated that no flesh would survive the Great Tribulation unless the number of days allocated for the Great Tribulation were shortened – He said,"but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened."(Matthew 24:22)
Many of my friends believe the Great Tribulation is seven years in length because they place the 70th week of Daniel 9 in the future. However, I am convinced that the 70th week of Daniel 9 happened immediately following the 69th week. In other words, I am persuaded that Bible history and Bible prophecy confirm that the 70th week of seven years took place between A.D. 27 and A.D. 33 inclusively, since the 69th week took place between A.D. 20 and A.D. 26 inclusively. When a Bible student takes into account all of the prophetic time-periods that will occur during the Great Tribulation, the only prophetic time-period in Daniel and Revelation that spans those time periods in the future is the 1,335 days of Daniel 12. There is a good reason for this. Shortly after the Great Tribulation begins, many serious questions will occupy the minds of men and women. One of the most pressing questions will be, "How long will this terrible suffering last?" The answer is found in these verses.
I should also mention, before I go further, that some of my friends believe the 1,335 days represent 1,335 years – using the Jubilee day/year method to calculate this period. Consequently, they place the fulfillment of these verses in ages past. For reasons presented in the Appendix of my book, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled , I find all prophetic time-periods occurring after 1994 to be reckoned as literal time. To my knowledge, no one has presented a historical time period that fulfills all the specifications given in these verses. I believe this is because there is no historical fulfillment. I also believe that these verses describe the timing of the Great Tribulation that will be fulfilled in the very near future.
The Abolishment of the Daily
To appreciate the contents of these verses, consider the fact that the progression of all three elements are intimately related. Let us identify and explain each element and then put them together. Let us begin with the first element, the abolishment of the daily. The "daily" mentioned in this verse refers to the corporate intercession of Christ in Heaven on behalf of the world. (I will explain this in a moment.) Therefore, when Jesus concludes His work at Heaven's Altar of Incense as Earth's corporate Intercessor, God's wrath will commence. The first phase of His wrath is described in Revelation 8 and 9 as the seven trumpets or seven first plagues. The second phase of God's wrath is described in Revelation 15 and 16 as the seven bowls or seven last plagues. These 14 judgments and their dreadful results cause the Great Tribulation. I should underscore the idea that the Great Tribulation is not a man-made tribulation. Instead, God initiates and sustains it to accomplish His divine purposes. Conversely, the coming Y2K problem is merely a man-made problem – this too, will be more fully addressed later in this article.
In Daniel 12:11, the language describing the daily being abolished originates with the Old Testament tabernacle service. Every morning and evening (hence the term "daily") a perfect one-year-old lamb was slaughtered on the Altar of Burnt Offering. (Exodus 29: 38-42) After this was done, a priest carried the lamb's blood into the tabernacle and applied it to the Altar of Incense. The Priest also performed other duties at each service inside the first room of the tabernacle. The "daily," as these routine services came to be called, was not for the benefit of any one individual, nor were the sacrificial animals provided by individuals. Instead, these sacrificial animals were purchased by the priests themselves, and the lamb's death – each evening and morning – provided continual atonement for the entire camp of Israel on a daily basis. Why was this done? What do these services teach about the process of salvation?
We know that God is holy and because of this, sinners cannot live in His presence without intercession. (Exodus 19:22; 33:20; Jeremiah 4:4; Hebrews 12:29) For God to dwell within the camp of Israel, the priests needed to place a continual or daily atonement on the Altar of Incense. Notice how the daily atonement covered sinners: For any sin committed later during the night, there was an evening sacrifice. For any sin committed later during daylight hours, there was a morning atonement. The amazing point about this system was that atonement was made for sinners even before they sinned! If this had not been the case, then every sinner within the camp would have been struck dead by God's consuming presence before he could even reach the Altar of Burnt Offering with his offering for atonement.
Lessons in Each Service
God thoughtfully designed the various services of the Old Testament Tabernacle. They contain clues and important object lessons about the economy of law, sin, grace, mercy and justice. (Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:5; Colossians 2:11-19) Of course, at the heart of this economy is the ministry of Jesus, and the daily service being conducted at the tabernacle was simply a shadow of His ministry in Heaven for man. You may remember that when Adam and Eve sinned, they were to be executed the very day they sinned. God had promised:"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."(Genesis 2:17; KJV) However, when Adam and Eve sinned, they did not die within that very day because God granted a period of mercy to humanity. Why did the Father grant this mercy? Because Jesus Himself immediately stepped between the executing angel and the Father and pledged that He was willing to die in man's place. Jesus offered to be our substitute and ever since that day, the Father has regarded Jesus as man's Intercessor, both individually and corporately. (Psalm 2; Hebrews 5-9) Notice how the intercession of Jesus operates on two levels: First, God loved the human race:"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . . ."Second, God loves each individual human being. (Revelation 22:17) The Bible clearly teaches that God deals with man on the individual level, and also the corporate level. The point is that the intercession offered by Jesus in Heaven's temple is both corporate and personal. Not only did Jesus become Adam and Eve's personal Intercessor, He also became corporate Intercessor for all nations, tongues and languages.
Two Altars – Two Atonements
The presence of two altars in the Old Testament Tabernacle, along with the separate and distinct services, confirms the operation of two levels of atonement. (Leviticus 4) Differences in location and construction also say something about the unique functions delegated to each altar. The priests applied the "daily" within the Holy Place on the golden Altar of Incense because this altar was limited to corporate intercession. When atonement was made for individuals, however, sacrifices were offered upon the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering for personal sins. Although these offerings were separate and distinct, notice how the services on the two altars worked together. At the time of Moses, the Altar of Incense pointed backwards to the origin of sin. The daily service conducted at the Altar of Incense was a shadow of the daily intercession that Jesus began for humanity the day that sin began. On the other hand, the Altar of Burnt Offering pointed forward to the death of Jesus on Calvary. The personal offerings presented at the Altar of Burnt Offering were a shadow of Christ's atonement for each person who would submit to Him as Lord and Master. Beautiful concepts about Jesus and His intercession are found at both altars. Just as the evening sacrifice provided atonement before sins took place in the camp of Israel at night, Jesus pledged to be our substitute before any sinner was even born! Before you or I sinned, there was daily intercession. What a merciful God! Even more, no sincere or repentant sinner was ever turned away from the Altar of Burnt Offering without the assurance of atonement. God's offer of salvation is truly generous if you are willing to submit to the terms and conditions for salvation.
Heaven's Temple and Earth's Tabernacle Linked Together
The services in the Earthly tabernacle have a parallel in Heaven's temple. (Hebrews 8:1-5) In other words, there was a daily service in the Earthly tabernacle because there is an equivalent service in Heaven's temple! Revelation 8:2-6 demonstrates how pivotal the daily service is in Heaven . Just before the seven angels begin to sound the seven trumpets, the daily service at the golden Altar of Incense is terminated. The casting down of the censer marks the termination of corporate atonement upon the Altar of Incense in Heaven because that altar is limited to corporate intercession, just like the one on Earth was limited to corporate intercession. So, the daily intercession of Jesus for Earth's inhabitants will be abolished just before the seven trumpets begin to sound. When the corporate intercession of Jesus is finished, God's long forestalled wrath will break out all over the Earth. (Colossians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:3-9) The Great Tribulation commences because "Jesus is taken out of the way." (2 Thessalonians 2:6,7) Although the offer of salvation remains available for individuals for a short time after the censer is cast down, God's patience with the world as a whole is terminated when the censer is cast down. When this happens, four physical phenomena on Earth will signal this awful moment: A global earthquake will occur, flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and rumblings deep within the Earth will be seen and felt all over the world. After these Earth-shaking signs occur, the 144,000 will be empowered and they will proclaim God's final offer of salvation for 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:2,3; Revelation 14:6-11) At the end of the 1,260 days, the offer of mercy will end. The door of mercy will close because everyone at that time will either have the seal of God or the mark of the beast. From this point in time (the close of mercy) until the 1,290th day, when the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 30 days (1,260 + 30 = 1,290). From the setting up of the abomination of desolation to the 1,335th day is a total of 45 days (1,290 + 45 = 1,335). From the close to mercy until the 1,335th day, the seven last plagues occur. (See Revelation 15 and 16.) Total time for the seven last plagues is 75 days. Notice the chart below.
The Abomination that Causes Desolation
Now that we have addressed the termination of the daily, let us consider the phrase, "the abomination that causes desolation." Based on Daniel 12:11 we can safely say that 1,290 days after the daily is terminated, this abomination is set up to accomplish certain objectives. What is the abomination that causes desolation?
An abomination is a despicable act, an insult having no equal, a defiant act of insolence and total disdain. The highest insult or abomination that any created being can commit is to insult Almighty God. Consider the following texts from the King James Version of the Bible and notice how the Bible defines an abomination:
1. Exodus 8:25, 26 (KJV)"And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?"Note: Because ancient Egyptians believed in the transmigration of the soul, the Egyptians considered the slaughter of animals to be a grave insult to their ancestors and even worse, an abomination to their gods. Knowing this, Moses requested to leave town so the Israelites could offer the animal sacrifices that God required undisturbed. If they had not done this, the Egyptians would have stoned them for their highly insulting behavior.
2. Leviticus 18:20-22 (KJV)"Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbor's wife, to defile thyself with her. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."Note: God considers a homosexual relationship to be an abomination. It is highly detestable. He also considers a sexual relationship with an animal to be just as detestable. (Leviticus 20:15)
3. Deuteronomy 17:1 (KJV)"Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God."Note: God would be insulted if anyone presented an offering that had a blemish in it. Each sacrificial animal represented the infinite sacrifice of Jesus and there could be no flaw in the "Lamb of God" who would take away the sins of the world. If any flaw was found in Jesus, He could not be the perfect substitute for man that salvation required! Therefore, God would not accept a blemished animal or any substitute sacrifice. Incidently, this is why Cain's offering of fruit was detestable to God.
4. Proverbs 6:16-19 (KJV)"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."Note: God hates these things because they are evil and destructive. He will not allow such behavior in His kingdom.
These few verses (and there are many others) demonstrate what an abomination is. To review: An abomination is a despicable act, an insult having no equal, a defiant act of insolence and total disdain. The highest insult or abomination that a created being can commit is to insult Almighty God. The reader might recall that King Sennacherib insulted the God of Heaven and an angel sent from the Lord struck dead 185,000 of his soldiers. (2 Kings 19:35) This is just one of many examples indicating God's reactions to such abomination.
That Causes Desolation . . .
Now that we know an abomination is a great insult and a despicable act, let us continue our study and discover what the abomination is that causes this desolation. Before we can make sense of the phrase, we have to understand something about the Jewish mind set and use of language at the time these statements were made.
The Jews regarded their homeland as the "promised land" – the land promised to Abraham. It was also considered by the Jews to be God's "holy land." In fact, many people today refer to the geography of the modern nation of Israel as "the holy land." Notice King David's words of praise:"He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham. But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert. He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies. Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken. He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes."(Psalm 78:51-55)
The word holy means set apart, not common or usual. Of course, the phrase "holy land" means land set apart from all other lands. God set Israel apart from Egypt as a holy nation of people. (Exodus 19:4-6) He placed Israel geographically in the center of the nations, at a special location, "His holy land." (Ezekiel 5:5) But wait! There is more. . . .
The Levites and their Pastureland
A very interesting and significant distinction surrounds the Tribe of Levi. Many people do not know that God did not give a share of the promised land to the Levites when the Jews entered Canaan."The Lord said to Aaron, 'You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.'"(Numbers 18:20,21)
When Israel was ready to take possession of the holy land, God instructed Moses as follows (please notice the size, place and role of the pasturelands):
"On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, 'Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for their cattle, flocks and all their other livestock. The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend out fifteen hundred feet from the town wall. Outside the town, measure three thousand feet on the east side, three thousand on the south side, three thousand on the west and three thousand on the north, with the town in the center. They will have this area as pastureland for the towns. Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee. In addition, give them forty-two other towns. In all you must give the Levites forty-eight towns, together with their pasturelands. The towns you give the Levites from the land the Israelites possess are to be given in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: Take many towns from a tribe that has many, but few from one that has few."(Numbers 35:1-8)
When the Israelites finally took possession of the land, Joshua sanctified or "made holy" Bezer, Ramoth and Golan as cities of refuge on the East side of the Jordan, and on the West side of the Jordan he set apart Kedesh, Shechem and Kiriath Arba. (Joshua 20:7,8) These six cities became known as "holy cities" because they were set apart as cities of refuge, a place where a murderer could flee from an avenger of blood for either temporary or permanent safety. About four hundred years after Israel occupied the promised land, King David overthrew the stronghold of Jebus and established his throne there. David renamed Jebus and called his city "Jerusalem" (the city of peace). It became the seventh (and last) holy city within the promised land, and eventually, the Ark of the Covenant and sanctuary services were located there.
As before, when a holy city was established, the immediate pastureland around the walls of the city was set apart for the Levites as a place for their gardens and flocks. This border around the walls of each city was called "the holy place" or "holy ground." When Jerusalem became the center of worship, the pasturelands outside the city were set apart for the exclusive use of the Levites. Even after Jerusalem was destroyed and the survivors were taken into Babylonian captivity, it was God's plan for the rebuilt city and the temple to have "holy ground" surrounding the walls of the city. (Ezekiel 45:1-6) With this background information regarding the holy place or holy ground around the city walls, please consider these two parallel texts:
1."So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the [Gentile] reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath."(Matthew 24:15-20, insertion mine)
2."When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people."(Luke 21:20-23)
Note the difference between these two texts. Both Luke and Matthew heard Jesus as He gave this discourse. Years later, when they recalled this event from their memory bank for the purpose of writing a record, Matthew, the Jew, writes as a Jew would have remembered the prediction made by Jesus. Luke, on the other hand, a Gentile converted to Christianity, wrote it according to what he understood Jesus to mean. The point here is the harmony that is found in their diversity! From their personal perspectives, both writers understood the meaning of Christ's words. To the Jewish mind, a foreign army standing on the holy ground around Jerusalem's walls was an abomination intent on destruction. The presence of uncircumcised Gentiles on the holy ground dedicated to the Levites would be considered to the Jewish mind as a high insult to the God of Heaven. The Jews believed that Jerusalem was the City of God because His temple dwelling was there. Although his perspective is different, Luke also confirms this point. He writes, "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that desolation is near."
So, let us pull all this information together. An abomination that causes desolation is this: A great insult, an evil act committed against Almighty God, a detestable plan implemented by man for the purpose of destroying an object of God's affection. If this is so, then where does Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20 prophetically apply? Jesus is obviously talking about the destruction of Jerusalem that would be forthcoming in A.D. 70. The reader might be surprised to learn that this total destruction was also predicted in Daniel 11:31. This is the verse that Matthew refers to. So, how does the abomination that causes desolation in Daniel 12:11,12 fit into the end-time scenario? When you understand the background, the parallel is obvious and simple. Just as wicked men surrounded ancient Jerusalem to destroy it, so wicked men will surround the saints of God with an intent to destroy them during the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 13:15) From the casting down of the censer, there will be 1,290 days before a universal death decree is issued against the saints. (See the book of Esther for a parallel story about an abomination that almost caused desolation.) This is why the Bible says, "Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the 1,335th day!" Those people who live beyond the universal death decree will see Christ appear in clouds of glory and victory. They will witness the most powerful battle ever seen on Earth as Jesus destroys the false prophet and the beast. The redeemed who live to see Jesus come will be the eyewitnesses who can sing the song of mighty deliverance, and they will also tell of this glorious rescue to those individuals who slept in death through this event. What a blessing God will give the people who will endure to the end. They kept the faith and He who is Faithful and True kept them from death!
By the Way. . .
History records that in A.D. 68 a Roman General named Cestius set siege against Jerusalem with the intent of subduing "a city of rebels." The leaders of Rome had reached the limits of their patience with this tiny tribal nation of Jews and Cestius was sent to fix the problem. Suddenly one day, without notice, the Roman army lifted its siege and left. Jewish forces came out of the city and chased the retreating Romans. The Jews furiously attacked Cestius and his army and almost overcame them. This small victory by the Jews infuriated the Romans and served to intensify the Roman desire to destroy Jerusalem. A short time later, General Titus was dispatched to subdue Jerusalem and in A.D. 70, the city was destroyed. At that time, every stone in the temple was pulled apart by Roman soldiers to retrieve the gold that melted during the great fiery conflagration. (Matthew 24:2) According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, more than one million Jews were killed and 97,000 were taken captive. The amazing thing about this story is historical records claim that not one Christian perished during the destruction of Jerusalem. When Cestius mysteriously abandoned the siege, all of the Christians who had been trapped inside the city escaped for their lives to Pella. They understood and believed the prophecy of Daniel 11 which had been highlighted by Jesus just 40 years earlier. (I doubt that few, if any of those early Christians would say that understanding prophecy is not important.)
What Do They Share in Common?
As I understand it, the meaning of Daniel 12:11,12 is most important. The termination of the daily refers to the corporate intercession of Jesus in Heaven. The abomination that causes desolation at the 1,290th day refers to a universal death decree issued against the saints. The blessing promised to those people who wait for and reach the 1,335th day refers to those people who are eye witnesses to the majesty and glory that belong to Jesus as He crushes His enemies at the Second Coming. Why are these three elements united in these two verses? Because there will always be some eye witnesses who live through all of the end-time events and these people will testify throughout eternity about God's wrath and God's grace! Think about this. These eye witnesses will observe something that no one else has ever seen nor will ever see again. They will not only behold the fiery zeal of God's wrath, but they will also experience the generosity of God's offer for salvation to the entire human race, within a maximum of 1,335 days!
In closing, I would like to present an interesting matter. Currently there is a certain amount of discussion and fearful expectation about the year 2000. Some people are discussing possible/probable computer havoc and certain chaos that could happen to many global infrastructures such as banking, shipping, communication, etc. Today, just about every business is computer based and if major computers go awry, world civilization as we know it could crumble. Personally, I believe many serious problems are forthcoming because of possible computer glitches. I also believe that a certain amount of physical preparation is wise and prudent. However, I do not believe the Y2K problem is prophetic. Instead, it is pathetic to think that computer manufacturers and programmers have caused so much trouble simply because they failed to realize the year 2000 would ever occur!
As many of you know, I do anticipate the casting down of the censer and commencement of the Great Tribulation any day now – an anticipation that has continued to grow since 1994. We are well within the 1994 to 2013 window of time in which I hopefully anticipate these events will begin. This leads me to the following observation. From a review of Bible history, Bible genealogy and Bible prophecy, it is reasonable to conclude the 6,000th year of sin occurs between 1998 and 2017. The twenty-year margin is the result of co-regent reigns of kings and the lack of precision in dating the records of 21 generations from Adam to the Exodus. Consider this progression of thought:
• If the Great Tribulation is 1,335 days in length (about 3 years and 8 months) and
• If my chronology is accurate and
• If Jesus does return at the end of the 6000th year – just as the seventh millennium begins, then it is within reason to conclude that the commencement of the Great Tribulation could occur between 1994 and 2013. The Spring of 2004 would be halfway through this time-frame and statistically, more in line with where the 6000th year might be. I mention this, not to date the Second Coming – for no man knows the day or hour – but to put what I am about to write within the correct context.
In Daniel 5, there is a story that has a peculiar twist. Notice these verses:"King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone."(Daniel 5:1-4)
It is conceivable that nearly every Christian has heard about the handwriting on the wall. In fact, the statement, "the handwriting on the wall," is a common phrase borrowed from Daniel 5. Many Christians also know that Daniel was brought to the banquet hall to interpret the handwriting that an angel wrote on the wall. Many Christians know that King Belshazzar was killed that very night. However, what many Christians do not understand is that King Belshazzar committed an "abomination" that night which filled his cup of offenses. Because of this abomination, God ended his life and his kingdom accordingly.
Notice what Daniel told the young king when the old prophet was brought forward to interpret the handwriting on the wall. The story is a little lengthy, but do not miss a word:"Then Daniel answered the king, 'You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means. "O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. "But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. "This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. 'This is what these words mean: Mene : God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel : You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres : Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.' Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom."(Daniel 5:17-29)
This is the point: Belshazzar arrogantly insulted Almighty God by praising other gods and desecrating the sacred vessels with common liquor, which were used only in the service of God. God's response was immediate. His reputation and honor was desecrated and the king and his empire perished that very night. Belshazzar's foolish abomination was the "straw that broke the camel's back." God could no longer tolerate this man's arrogance. I mention these things because there may be a strong parallel in this upcoming year. Most political leaders regard the year 2000 or 2001 as marking the beginning of the next millennium. To celebrate this millennial transition, many great banquets are being planned, to toast the prowess of men and their great achievements. They will praise themselves and one another. They will insult the God of Heaven by denying His power, His generous gifts and His blessings upon the nations, just like Belshazzar. I expect to hear pompous words and hollow boasting. (Next year is also a United States presidential election year, so you know that in this part of the world we are going to hear man taking much credit for things he did not do.)
Unfortunately, religious leaders will probably do no less. They too will offend the Almighty. All these activities add guilt to Earth's already full cup. Could it be that when all this praise and boasting is taking place, God will suddenly make everyone's knees tremble? Will He humble humankind with the same swiftness that He humbled Belshazzar? Will the all-important daily in Heaven be terminated in response to man's insult to the mercy of the Almighty? I am watching. How about you?