By: Nelson Walters
Author: Are We Ready For Jesus? How to Prepare for His Return (May 2015)
With the advent of ISIS, threats from Iran and Russia, the specter of Ebola, and rising unrighteousness, people all over the globe are wondering, “are we living in the ‘time of the end?” The Bible, of course, has the answer for us.
The book of Daniel makes six direct references to a period known as the “Time of the End” in Daniel 8: 17,19; 11:35,40 and 12:4, 9. This time period is also referred to in Amos and Habakkuk. Although the New Testament makes no direct references to this phrase, the Greek words found in the phrase in Daniel 8 in the Septuagint: “time” (kairos) and “end” (peras) shed some additional light on what this phrase means.
The most important reason to understand what this phrase means is so that we understand the times we live in. If we are truly living in the time of the end, our preparation and strategy as a Church needs to change, just a a football teams strategy changes at the two minute warning.
One other important reason to understand the phrase is that the messenger angel tells Daniel that the book of Daniel will be sealed or the “words shut up” until the time of the end.
But you, Daniel, close up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will dash about, and knowledge will increase.. (Dan. 12:4 NET)
If we are going to understand the Book of Daniel it is important to know when it will become unsealed. Does this mean we need to be careful when reading old interpretations of Daniel? Yes, it means exactly that! Now some sections of those old commentaries on Daniel are valid, but if the book was truly made unintelligible by God then we need to carefully examine what was said.
For both of these reasons then, we need to have a good understanding of this phrase, “time of the end.”
THE SEALING OF DANIEL
The first thing we need to gain a grasp of is the sealing of Daniel. If Daniel is still “sealed,” even our understanding of the phrase “time of the end” may be compromised. So we need to return to Daniel 12:4 above and understand the meaning of that verse clearly.
Three words translated “close up,” “seal” and “dash” hold the key to the true meaning. “Close up”literally means just that, to close something or to conceal it. Considering the verse is discussing a scroll, it means to roll up the scroll. “Seal” means to seal a document. The combined picture of these two verbs together are that Daniel was commanded to roll up the scroll and seal it. This has led to the view (mistaken view IMO) that the sealed scroll in Revelation 5 is the book of Daniel (see FOUR HORSEMEN, JERICHO: ONE CONSISTENT PICTURE OF THE TRIBULATION for a further explanation.) The Book of Daniel may not be the sealed scroll of Revelation, but its meaning certainly has been concealed by God until the “time of the end.”
The verb “dash” (some translations say “go to and fro”) holds the key for how the book is to be unsealed. This is the Hebrew word shuwt which literally means “(go) about.” The first use of this verb in scripture is found in Numbers 11:8 where the Children of Israel would “go about and gather” manna each day. This is an awesome picture of what I think this verb means. The Book of Daniel will be unsealed by the Church “going about and searching” through the rest of scripture to discover clues to the meaning. Our modern computers makes this type of study time efficient and easier.
Many commentators have said that Joel Richardson unsealed Daniel 2 or that Mark Davidson unsealed Daniel 8. Although I highly respect the work of these two men, I’m sure they’d agree that just as the entire nation of Israel shuwt manna, the Church universal is unsealing Daniel, not individuals.
Many other commentators have said that “going to and fro” was a reference to our modern era when people travel all about on planes, trains and automobiles. Close examination of the Hebrew word’ however, clearly shows that its meaning is closer to gathering or searching than to traveling.
THE MEANING OF “TIME OF THE END”
In addition to the Hebrew texts, the Old Testament text of Daniel also exists in Greek (the Septuagint). The Greek words have the added advantage of being able to be cross referenced with New Testament uses of those words. (The Septuagint is also the text quoted by the writers of the New Testament when Old Testament quotes appear BTW.)
The Greek word for “end” is paras which means limit or end point. A very interesting use of this word is found in Hebrews 6:
Now when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you greatly and multiply your descendants abundantly.” And so by persevering, Abraham inherited the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and the oath serves as a confirmation to end (paras) all dispute. (Heb. 6: 13-16 NET)
This use doesn’t mean this is the only meaning of “end,” in the phrase “time of the end” but I find it interesting that the covenant with Abraham is mentioned and the end of disputes is also mentioned. The “time of the end” will be the end of God’s dispute with us and will usher in the Abrahamic Covenant’s fulfillment. I find that very interesting.
The word “time” in the Greek is kairos. This means appointed time or time set aside for a specific purpose, an “appointment.” In 1 Peter, the apostle mixes the two ideas of our inheritance and the end time in these verses:
By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet. 1: 3-5 NET)
So in review, “time of the end” means the period of time in which Jesus returns and God’s dispute with our sin is ended and we receive our inheritance. The end of this period is easy to determine, it’s Jesus’ return. The beginning, however, is what we are looking for.
WHEN DOES THE TIME OF THE END BEGIN?
Let’s look at the references in Daniel 8 and 11 to see what events are included in the “time of the end.”
Even some of the wise will stumble, resulting in their refinement, purification, and cleansing until the time of the end, for it is still for the appointed time … at the time of end the king of the south will attack him. (Dan. 11: 35, 40 NET)
These events in Daniel 11 refer to events during the Great Tribulation (see WHAT WILL THE GREAT TRIBULATION LOOK LIKE?) Does the “time of the end” extend even closer to our present time? In Daniel 8 we see these verses:
He (the angel) said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”… Then he said, “I am going to inform you about what will happen in the latter time of wrath, for the vision pertains to the appointed time of the end. (Dan. 8: 17,19 NET)
We can see that this entire vision in chapter 8 pertains to the appointed “time of the end.” We learned in ARE WE ABOUT TO SEE IRAN FULFILL DAN. 8? that the first prophecy in the vision is that the modern nation Iran will invade the Middle East then Turkey will counter-attack.
To my reading, this vision then, is the beginning of the Biblical “time of the end.”
When Iran Invades the Middle East, the “Time of the End” will begin.
I think this is the most biblical answer. It is also possible that the “time of the end” has already begun, perhaps with the reformation of the nation of Israel, but the Bible doesn’t say that. The Bible says the “time of the end” begins with Iran’s invasion of the Middle East. To my thinking that is the event we should look for to mark the beginning of the end.