Reading the leaves…(2)

     After Daniel prophesied that ‘at the appointed time’ the enraged king of Syria would take out his anger on the Jews, he (Daniel) provided details on the actions that Antiochus Epiphanes would take.  Remember Daniel prophesied in the 6th century BC.
     “And forces shall be mustered by him…then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.  Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong…and those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame…to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.”  Daniel 11:31-33, 35
     This profound prophecy revealed that the Syrian king would enter Jerusalem, put an end to the Jewish offerings, and desecrate their temple.  Then he would ‘place there the abomination of desolation.’  The specific act spoken of was sacrificing a pig and pouring swine’s broth on the altar.
     There were two ways in which the Jews would react.  Many would fear the Syrian king and submit to his forces (corrupt with flattery) while others would take a stand for God’s covenant (those of the people who understand).
     Those who took a stand would suffer greatly; however, their stand would refine them and make them stronger.  Note particularly the latter part of the above passage, i.e. ‘until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.’  Thus Daniel was stating that the prophecy had both short term and long term application.
     The short term fulfillment of the prophecy, which was revealed in 535 BC, occurred in 168 BC.  About 200 years later the Jewish historian Josephus recorded the actual events.
     The following quotes are taken from Josephus, Book XII, From the death of Alexander the Great to the death of Judas Maccabeus, Chapter V, Sections 4 and 5.
     “Now it came to pass…that the king came up to Jerusalem, and, pretending peace, he got possession of the city by treachery…”
     At this point recall the first ‘horseman’ of the apocalypse who will in the future offer a false peace for Israel with deceitful intentions of breaking the treaty and severely persecute the Jews.
     Josephus then described those Jews who submitted to the Syrian king out of fear.
     “And indeed many Jews there were who complied with the king’s commands, either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced…”
     “And when the king had built an idol altar upon God’s altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship….”
     “He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction.”
   Now read the following closely and compare with current events in the Middle East.
     “But the best men, and those of the noblest souls, did not regard him, but did pay a greater respect to the customs of their country than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the disobedient; on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter torments; for they were whipped with rods…and were crucified while they were still alive and breathed; they also strangled those women and their sons whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed, hanging their sons about their necks as they were upon the crosses.  And if there were any sacred book of the law found, it was destroyed….”
     The events of the 2nd century BC and confirmed by history, serve as a very distinct warning for the future.  History will soon be repeated as revealed by Jesus.
     “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors!  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”  Matthew 24:32-34
     Are we there?

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