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Midnight and Morning

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Archives / 1974 / December

 

 

Midnight and Morning

Desmond Ford
-chairman of the department of theology, Avondale College, Australia at the time this article was written

 

THE FIRST verses of the section that begins with Daniel 11:36 refer to the system of antichrist in the last days. This church-state union soon to take place will duplicate the error of religious leaders and statesmen in the Middle Ages. It will endeavor to compel men to worship contrary to the dictates of conscience. Nonconformists will be boycotted and finally sentenced to death. (See Rev. 13:13-18.)

But opposition will arise from a power that, like Egypt of old, denies the existence and relevance of God. It would seem that a political system espousing atheism will oppose the ultimate fruitage of modern ecumenism but finally it too shall be submerged by the overwhelming tide of strength belonging to the last Colossus. Revelation 17:12-17 declares that all the powers of earth will give their strength to the "beast" for a short period but then, disillusioned, they will turn and rend the system they had temporarily supported. Thus it seems that the brain-washing techniques encouraged in our day by the mass media and many aspects of modern education will result in the mass hypnotism of millions. These will bow to a gigantic combine advocating might as right and simultaneously advocating a system of worship contrary to Scripture. But the worms will turn when it is too late.

The King of the North

The use of the expression "the king of the north" is intended to remind us of the opening passage of the book where Babylon from the north flooded down upon Israel to destroy its sanctuary and people. Revelation, chapters 11-18, tells us that there will be a Babylon in the last days, a revival of apostate religion in alliance with the state. This is the modern king of the north. "Tens of thousands shall fall" before it. Some, how ever, who were once enemies of the people of God, such as the Edomites and Moabites, will be converted to the truth of God and thus escape the invading giant.

The reference to thousands falling follows the words "He shall come into the glorious land" (Dan. 11:41, R.S.V.). The glorious land is an allusion to Palestine, where the sanctuary was situated, but its application in this New Testament era must be to the professing church of God, which claims to be His sanctuary. Multitudes of nominal Christians will apostatize in the last crisis, while simultaneously other multitudes will flee out of Babylon and be saved. So great is the power of antichrist that according to Revelation 13:8 all the world will worship him except those whose names are in the book of life. When Daniel 11:43, R.S.V., says that "the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train," it is saying the same thing, for in the days when Daniel was written these peoples were thought of as residing at the ends of the earth.

Antichrist Provoked

Next we have reference to a message that disturbs the antichrist and provokes him to attack the messengers and exterminate them. "East" and "north" are sometimes used in Scripture to re fer to heaven. (See Eze. 43:1-3; Ps. 48:2.) Satan's control of Babylon to the north of Israel was an attempt to counterfeit the heavenly kingdom. Revelation 18:1-4 clarifies the significance of Daniel 11:44. The tidings spoken of are identical with "the loud cry" given by faithful Christians of the last days calling people to separate from spiritual Babylon and to join with those who constitute "the holy city." (See Rev. 11:2; 14:20.)

The reference to attempted extermination and destruction of many parallels Revelation 13:13- 18. The Hebrew terms employed point to religious anathemas culminating in death. The following verse amplifies the thought. The glorious holy mountain, once descriptive of Jerusalem in Palestine, now applies to the faithful church of God. (See Rev. 11:2.) Thus, what we have here is a picture of antichrist surrounding the church to destroy it, just as wicked men in Daniel, chapters 3 and 6, are spoken of as surrounding the faithful Hebrews to destroy them. It will be proclaimed by civil powers that whoever shall not worship the beast (antichrist) and receive his mark should be killed. No wonder Scripture calls this period "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation."

God does not leave us to wonder as to the outcome. His faith fulness never fails. He promises His people, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isa. 41:10).

The Deliverance

Now we see the tremendous significance and great comfort in the use of the word deliver in the verse following the eleventh chapter of Daniel. The blood of the martyrs has ever been the seed of the church in probationary time, but the death of God's people after probation has closed would be fruitless. Their deliverance has been pictured by the author of The Great Controversy.

"With shouts of triumph, jeering, and imprecation, throngs of evil men are about to rush upon their prey, when, lo, a dense blackness, deeper than the darkness of the night, falls upon the earth. Then a rainbow, shining with the glory from the throne of God, spans the heavens and seems to encircle each praying company. The angry multitudes are suddenly arrested. Their mocking cries die away. The objects of their murderous rage are forgotten. With fearful forebodings they gaze upon the symbol of God's covenant, and long to be shielded from its overpowering brightness.

"By the people of God, a voice, clear and melodious, is heard, saying, 'Look up,' and lifting their eyes to the heavens, they behold the bow of promise. The black, angry clouds that covered the firmament are parted, and like Stephen they look up steadfastly into heaven and see the glory of Cod and the Son of man seated upon His throne. In His divine form they discern the marks of His humiliation; and from His lips they hear the request presented before His Father and the holy angels: 'I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.' . . . Again a voice, musical and triumphant, is heard, saying; 'They come! they come! holy, harmless, and undefiled. They have kept the word of my patience; they shall walk among the angels'; and the pale, quivering lips of those who have held fast their faith utter a shout of victory." --Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 635, 636.

In Daniel 12:11, 12 we have the final reference to the abomination of desolation. It is predicted that again in the last crisis the power will take away "the daily sacrifice."

Revelation 13:13-18 expands this prophecy showing the ultimate application of the warning concerning "the abomination of desolation." Christ in the Olivet sermon applied Daniel's reference initially to the idolatrous and devastating armies of Rome as they marched against Jerusalem, but second, to the last onslaught on His people at the end of time. Immediately after referring to this power Christ quoted Daniel 12:1 regarding the great tribulation that is to be launched on the world by the abominable power of antichrist.

Judgment and Resurrection

It is of considerable importance to recognize that chapter 12 of Daniel is an expansion of Daniel 8:14. The entire chapter points to the ultimate vindication of God, His truth, and His people. The judgment is referred to at several points as the rewards of both the righteous and the wicked are mentioned. In Daniel 11:45, "He shall come to his end, and none shall help him," we have the promise that the living wicked in the last hour will be destroyed by the advent of Christ, while the following verse promises the deliverance of the living righteous, "every one that shall be found written in the book." Thus before this time an investigation of the heavenly records has been made to see who are worthy of eternal life through faith in Christ.

Daniel 12:3 speaks of the glory inherited by the saved. They are to "shine as the brightness of the firmament ... as the stars for ever and ever."

The last verse of the book also refers to the judgment. Many Bibles put Psalm 1:5 alongside this passage as commentary. Let us compare them:

"But go your way till the end; and you shall rest, and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days" (R.S.V.).

"Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment . . ." (R.S.V.).

The Hebrew expression translated in Daniel 12:13 as "allotted place" is a term that has reference to inheritance and destiny. It is also a term used in connection with the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:8 when lots were cast on the two goats, one for Azazel (Satan) and one for the Lord. These two goats betokened not only the opposing leaders in the great controversy between good and evil but also their respective followings.

In the judgment all men will be divided and then enter upon their eternal "lot" or destiny. The verse says this is to take place not at the "end of days" but "at the end of the days," a reference to the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14. When Israel of old was about to enter the promised land of Canaan the lot was cast to determine the possession of each tribe. Thus each person stood in his respective "lot" long before he entered upon the actual possession of the land.

So now we stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, and decisions concerning the destiny of all who have ever lived are being made. These decisions are not arbitrary. God will choose all who have chosen Him. He does not ask primarily for an ethically blameless life. He asks rather that we will accept what He has done for us in Christ. He calls upon us to look to Calvary and see its revelation of our depravity and of His love. If we look long enough, self will be submerged in Christ and heaven will begin for us here be low. The lightning of divine wrath has already struck at the place of Golgotha. Those who hide there will be untouched when all the earth is consumed by the fires of His slighted love.

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