A time is coming when faithful Jews and Christians will be persecuted on a global scale. There is a growing number of preachers and teachers telling us that we are going to be caught up to heaven before all of this ‘unpleasantness’ happens but the Bible does not teach this.
For most believers in most parts of the world today persecution and martyrdom is a daily reality especially in Islamic countries such as Northern Nigeria, the Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Also there is persecution and martyrdom in North Korea, China and even in Russia if you belong to the underground Church and you are not part of the government controlled Russian Orthodox Church.
Daniel the prophet saw such a time in the future when the man of sin, empowered and possessed by Satan himself, will persecute faithful Jews and Christians. Let’s now look briefly at Daniel 7:14-27…
(Daniel 7:24-25) “He (the man of sin) will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”
We are told he will speak out against the Most High God, wear down the saints through persecution and seek to change what they believe. He will seek to undermine the Word of God. We are told elsewhere in the Bible about this man of sin also called “the man of lawlessness.” We read about this in Daniel Chapter 11 and in 2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2.
(Daniel 11:36-37) “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say monstrous things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the desire of women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:4) “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
The man of sin and the beast empire over which he rules will persecute the saints both Jews and Christians. He will do this for three and a half years which is equivalent to a time, times and half a time or 1,260 days or for 42 months. (Revelation 12:6; 13:5)
The Lord Jesus also spoke about this time of the Big Trouble in Matthew 24 when He said; “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be equalled again. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)
We are told that the Lord will cut those days short. In the original Greek text of the Bible the phrase for “to cut short” is, for example, the kind of action one would take when cutting of the tail of a dog suddenly. It is a swift and suddenly action! The Lord Jesus will do this for two reasons.
Firstly, it will be done for the sake of His elect saints (believers), being Israel and by extension and inclusion the faithful Church, and secondly for the very survival of the world itself. The duration of God’s three and a half years might be different from ours because we are told in scripture “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) In eternity God measures time differently, in fact time as we know it down here on earth does not exist in eternity.
Now let’s look at our text again…
(Daniel 7:26-27) “But the court will sit for judgment, and his (the man of sin) dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”
After three and a half years of the Big Trouble on earth thrones will be placed in the courts of heaven. God and His heavenly council will pass judgement on this man of sin and his empire. (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45) The Lord Jesus will then return to earth to deal with him, to annihilate his empire forever, to rescue Israel, to rapture and resurrect the saints and to inaugurate His Messianic Millennial Kingdom on earth for a 1,000 years. (Daniel 7:9-12) (Daniel 12:1-3) (Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-6) Only after these things have happened will the saints inherit the Kingdom and not before. (Daniel 7:26-27)
A time is coming when we will have to endure and persevere during this time of the Big Trouble that will come upon Israel, the faithful Church and upon the world at large. Many faithful Jews and Christians will be imprisoned, martyred and oppressed but some will escape. (Revelation 13:10) Some will have to flee and take the gospel with them. (Matthew 10:23) It is clear that the saints are on earth in this time of the Big Trouble.
Having said this we also need to keep in mind what Daniel also writes; “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 2:3) When the Lord Jesus returns on that day He will be glorified in His saints, and He will be marvelled at among all who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:10)
If anyone suffered for his faith in the Lord Jesus it was the Apostle Paul but he considered his afflictions “light and momentary” when compared to the weight of eternal and even euphoric glory that was to come his way after his life in this world was over.
He writes; “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Let’s always remember that whatever is destined to happen to us is already known to God and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure but also provide a way of escape that we might bear up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) He has prepared everything for us ahead of time. (John 14:2-3) Whatever we go through for his name’s sake in this life we must always keep our eyes fixed on eternity.
Our Lord Jesus is gracious and merciful and knows just how much we can take. He will never leave us alone at such times of testing. He will never leave us or forsake us even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20) (Hebrews 13:5) God is still on the throne. He still has everything under control and let’s not forget that it is always safe to trust the Lord!