What Not to Watch For in the End Times

Most Christians know we are to watch for events in the end times. But do they know what NOT to watch for? Might our own theories of the end times deceive the church?

What to Watch for

This is the third article in a series about watching.

In the First Article (READ HERE), we defined what Jesus meant by “watch” in the Olivet Discourse.

In the Second Article (READ HERE), we saw how Jesus’s instructions to the disciples on the night he was betrayed was an analogy of how to watch and pray in the end times.

In this article we’ll examine what not to watch for! I think it may be a unique concept to most readers.

What not to Watch for

If I were to ask 100 Christians who are actively “watching” for the return of Jesus what sign they are watching for, I bet 90% would say the Antichrist’s peace treaty with Israel. The vast majority of Christians think this is “the sign” that the 70th Week of Daniel, or the seven year “Tribulation,” has begun. But what if this is not correct? What if the final seven-year period doesn’t start with that event? What if the peace treaty is signed 3 to 4 years earlier than that period? Might this actually lull these Christians to sleep when they don’t see everything else happening according to their 1260-day chronologies? “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet. 3: 4) they might ask.

The reason I mention this is when the disciples asked Jesus what the sign of his coming and the end of the age would be, he did not mention a 7-year peace treaty directly. If we were to watch for a covenant you would think Jesus would say, “When you see the Covenant with the Many,” but he didn’t. He said, “When you see the Abomination of Desolation.” Perhaps we should even question whether the “Covenant with the Many” in Dan. 9:27 even applies to the Antichrist.

If this covenant is the primary sign that 90% of the church is looking for, we really, really need to know if this is something to watch for or what not to watch for. Is it the sign of the 70th Week or not?

Dan. 9:27

A good place to start in examining the primary passage that most people associate with this covenant:

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Dan. 9:27)

The word “he” in the first sentence of this verse has traditionally been applied to the Antichrist by most prophecy scholars. But let’s examine this in detail and see if that makes sense. When a pronoun like “he” or “she” is used it always has an antecedent, that is it always refers back to a clearly identified name earlier in the text. And it’s always the last name mentioned. So let’s look at the text right before this passage.

And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its[end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Dan. 9:26)

This is the verse right before the famous Dan. 9:27. There are two characters in this verse, the Messiah (the anointed one) and the prince who is to come. So “he” has to refer to one of these characters. Because the prince who is to come is mentioned last (closest to “he”), most scholars have attributed “he” to this coming prince (probably the Antichrist). But is this proper grammar? Actually, it isn’t. “People” is the subject of the second sentence, not the prince, it’s “people of the prince who is to come.” So proper grammar demands we go back one character further and attribute “he” to the Messiah.

There is even further evidence in Dan. 9:27:

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Dan. 9:27)

What isn’t frequently noticed in this verse is that there are two characters in this verse as well! The “he” who makes the covenant and ends the sacrifice and then “one” who is coming (as in the prince who is to come) to make desolate. This precludes the “he” from being the same as the “one who makes desolate” (the Antichrist).

Additionally, the word “make” in the first sentence of 9:27 is actually garbar in the Hebrew which means “strengthen.” If this were the Antichrist strengthening a covenant for all seven years, then couldn’t “break” the covenant at the midpoint. He can make a covenant for 7 years and then break it, but he can’t strengthen it for all seven years and stop. This is a subtle but important difference. The text clearly states he strengthens the covenant for all 7 years.

What is the Covenant?

Have we gotten Dan. 9:27 all wrong? Maybe we have. So if “he” is Jesus, how does Jesus strengthen a covenant for all seven years (and only for seven years)? What is this all about?

What it is not, is what some preterists and historicists claim, that this is Jesus strengthening the Mosaic Covenant by establishing the New Covenant at his first coming. Jesus did not establish the New Covenant until he died on the cross.  Most preterists agree that in their theory, this would be the “midpoint” where the sacrifice is eliminated. But this verse says the covenant is strengthened earlier than that. AND it says it is only for 7 years. Obviously, the New Covenant is an everlasting covenant. So the preterist ideas are not accurate.

But what covenant is Daniel talking about? IMO, it is the Abrahamic Covenant that is strengthened for the Jews by Jesus for all 7 years. How does he do this?

And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

Jesus is going to fill the unsaved Jewish remnant with his Holy Spirit during the 70th Week. And he is going to pour out his spirit on the unsaved gentiles as well so they are all receptive to the Gospel. He will also fill Christians with his Spirit (there is a difference between simply having the indwelling Spirit and being filled with the Spirit), allowing them to be strong and testify during this challenging time. So it is probably the New Covenant that is “strengthened” as well.

Some might say, “Hey, wait a minute. Jesus isn’t the one stopping the sacrifice, the Antichrist is.” The Antichrist does physically stop the sacrifice but Jesus is permitting it. In the Septuagint, Dan. 9:26 says that the temple and the city were destroyed by Jesus and the coming prince! In the same way, Jesus is permitting the ending of the temple sacrifices.

Is there an Antichrist Covenant?

Yes, I believe there is, but this is the important point: it most likely isn’t the sign of the beginning if the 70th Week. In Isa. 28:15, this covenant is called the Covenant with Death and the Grave. In Ezek. 38:8, we see the Antichrist (Gog) invading Israel as a community of “unwalled” villages (they assume they are safe).  In Joel 3:2, God enters into judgment with the Antichrist forces because they “divided” the land.

And in Rev. 6:2, the rider of the white horse (Antichrist) is already carrying a “bow with no arrows.” I believe this is symbolic of the Covenant with Death and the Grave. But notice, he is carrying it prior to riding forth on the white horse. So in my mind, the covenant may precede the 70th Week.

So to me, although a peace treaty is something to “watch for” and be aware of, it isn’t “the” Sign that the 70th Week has begun. In fact, I don’t think there is a sign that the 70th Week has begun. Jesus gave us 3 seals that will open prior to the Abomination of Desolation at the fourth seal, and we should watch for these.

This is an incredibly important, yet subtle, prophecy nuance.

So should we keep a watch for a peace treaty with Israel? Yes.

Is it necessarily negotiated by the Antichrist himself? If “he” in Dan. 9:27 isn’t the Antichrist, he may or may not negotiate it. I think he might, but we should be very careful about drawing too many assumptions about that aspect.

We don’t identify the Antichrist by the peace treaty, we identify him when he sits in the Temple of God and acts as if he is God! And we don’t identify the beginning of the 70th Week by the peace treaty either.  The Peace treaty is a sign that the end is coming, but it isn’t THE “Sign.”

16 thoughts on “What Not to Watch For in the End Times”

  1. And arms (sounds like an army or soldiers) shall stand on his (vile person from verse 21) part, and THEY (plural) shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall TAKE AWAY THE DAILY SACRIFICE, and THEY(plural) shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. Sounds to me like the Antichrist’s army shall stand on his part and “pollute” a rebuilt temple and take away daily sacrifices. Then they place the abomination of desolation. There is also 10 verses worth of end time events that happen before verse 31 (21-31), this shows that a lot of end time stuff goes on between the rise of the AC and the abomination of desolation.

    1. jlils, you’re right, there are ten verses of material between Dan. 11:21-31, and lots of material in the Olivet Discourse prior to the Abomination of Desolation. However, they are not the “sign” Jesus told us to look for. The reason is that these events might be misconstrued, war, famine, earthquakes, etc. are common and have occurred from the first century till today. Only the AOD stands unique.

    1. Tom, I’m aware of this and David Rosenthal’s recent article suggesting the same thing. The location of Neom in the vicinity of ancient Edom is intriguing. If we are truly a decade or two away from the return of Jesus, it only makes sense that pieces of the puzzle will start to fall into place. I will probably write about this at some point myself.

      1. Concerning Neom, Nelson, the area is near the Mountain of God,
        the real Mount Sinai/Horeb in Midian, as I have written before.
        The Israelites camped there, Yahwe decended from heaven and
        Moses received the Commandments there. Moses had to put off
        his shoes because it was and still is Holy Ground.
        It is a provocation, mocking the Most High.
        Jes. 63:1-6: “Who is this who comes from Edom …”
        Yeshua is coming in His wrath!

  2. Another very enlightening understanding for us all to ponder. Thank you, Nelson.
    What I am watching for in particular is when the sacrifices and oblations begin again in Jerusalem, in the holy place.
    It may or not be a temple and it may or not be a part of the “strengthening” of the covenant.
    One thing is for certain, in order for the beast to put an end to it, it most surely has begun.

    All of Israel, the Jewish people, and christians throughout the world will be ecstatic about this event.
    Peace and safety will be on everyone’s mind. Many countries over the world will have placed their embassy
    in Jerusalem prior to this event. Designating it as the capital. Palestinians, Hamas etc. will not be a
    threat at this time. Maybe the current wall that Israel has will be torn down to allow expansion into surrounding land.

    Jesus gives no clue about when this event will occur among the Olivet discourse prophecy. When the time arrives, we will most
    likely will have entered the 70th week already. My intuition tells me that the first sacrifice and oblations will begin on a future Passover date.

    So I watch for this event in particular.

  3. Great minds think alike, so the saying goes Nelson, as we’ve both been blogging in tandem on the specifics of biblical ‘watching’’!
    Your theological insights are invaluable addenda to my journalistic overview and I’ve ‘shared’ your first in this series and have introduced this one as follows: ‘Here, Nelson brings his incisive mind to bear upon the fuller meaning of what could be the pivotal timing indicator of prophesied signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:’ You may like to note the couple of comments thereto.

  4. Additionally, it is interesting that the “man in linen” and Michael had to battle with the “Prince of Persia” for 21 days before the revelation of Daniel 10 was given to Daniel. I think Daniel is so key to our understanding of the end times that Satan did not want that revelation to be revealed; he does not want us to read and understand so that we can “shine like the brightness of the sky above”. The book of Daniel is so important that Jesus directed us to it specifically. Am I correct that this is the only time Jesus was specific about a particular prophet?

    “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.” Daniel 12:3

    1. In Dan. 12, three things happen “at that time” – the time of the Great Tribulation. Daniel’s people are delivered or rescued, the resurrection occurs, and this phrase about “shining.” IMO this is the transformation into a resurrection body, it is a literal “shining.” However, that isn’t for sure, just my opinion.

  5. “When a pronoun like “he” or “she” is used it always has an antecedent, that is it always refers back to a clearly identified name earlier in the text. And it’s always the last name mentioned.”

    Nelson, the only other person whom I have ever heard mention this is Michael Rood; it was the first time I had heard it, in fact, and I was skeptical. But like you, he agrees that the Abomination of Desolation is the trigger for the time of Jacob’s trouble, i.e., the time of the “great tribulation” Jesus spoke of, as well as Daniel. I agree that we may or may not know when a “peace treaty” is made (and there have been many already attempted through various “peace” negotiations). This happens, according to Daniel 12 and Revelation 12, when Michael evicts Satan from heaven and Satan incarnates and animates the man who will become the anti-Christ.

    We must look for what Jesus Himself specifically told us to look for, which is the anti-Christ invading Jerusalem and the temple and setting up the Aobmination of Desolation, and I agree, a seven-year treaty of some sort is not the sign. It’s interesting that Jesus points us back – actually commands us — to Daniel, to read AND understand it. Daniel is “highly esteemed” by Jesus. In fact, Reggie Kelly has said that Daniel is key to our protection against deception. I believe the book of Daniel gives us a framework for understanding the end times; Daniel pulls together all the other prophets, IMO.

    1. Yes, Jeanne, Daniel is the basis for Jesus’s Olivet Discourse and Revelation. Used in COMBINATION they provide a powerful understanding of prophecy. Looking at them individually only gives us half the picture.

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