By Reggie Kelly (This post is a “reprint” of one of the original articles of this site)
What follows began as an email that turned into an essay, long to read but critical to know.
My trip to the south was put on hold, but I will be going through Vermont, upstate NY and on up into Ontario for some stops. I would especially appreciate your prayer for those days that begin the 21st of this month. I am looking to the Lord for some things to be brought forth that have been long in waiting. It has to do with a revelation I received as a young man, and I believe that it’s the Lord’s timing.
Glad you’ve enjoyed and benefited from your use of Watson’s “Prophetic Interpretations’. He labors the point concerning the literal / actual time of Christ’s three days in the tomb primarily to vindicate his literal approach to prophetic interpretation, proving that a day means a literal day. The whole exercise is aimed to correct the spiritualizing method that promotes the ruinous ‘year day theory’, which makes each day in Daniel and Revelation to count for a year. It is the method that has done the most to undermine and discredit the study of prophecy. It has been responsible for producing one failed date after another. But its greatest mischief has been its tendency to divert the literal application of prophecy away from Israel. Furthermore, the church is robbed of the very means that God has ordained to prepare the godly remnant for the last witness to Israel to and the nations. That is why I thought the most important aspect of Watson’s work is his interpretation of the key importance of the abomination of desolation.
These things are so critical and timely for us now. Watson rightly sees the abomination as the central and pivotal event on which all else turns. It is a decisive key to the church’s readiness for the last battle, even as Jesus directs His disciples to Daniel’s reference to the abomination, with the instruction, “let the reader understand” (Mt 24:15). Furthermore, a true interpretation of Daniel establishes a clear view of the glory of God in history. It is this grand overview of the mystery of God that so moved Paul to such exalted praise and worship (Ro 11:33-36). The prophetic vision is not only for the functional purpose of preparing the church for its final test, it is the divinely chosen context wherein God has set the revelation of His glory for the faith and worship of His people (at all times and under all circumstances).
We should not be afraid of the ‘set times’ of God, since the absolute sovereignty of God over all things is the only bed-rock of certainty. Nor should we imagine that the predetermined fulfillment of ‘the scriptures of the prophets’ (Mt 26:56; Dan 11:36) is in any way detached from the place and role of prevailing prayer. We may be sure that nothing of all that God has determined will be accomplished apart from the treasury of prayer. There is no disjunction; the end will not come apart from the ‘filling up’ of the full measure of the collective prayers and holy groanings of the saints (Lk 11:2; Rev 8:4-5), and this brings me to something that has been on my heart of late.
I believe that an accurate understanding of Daniel’s prophetic vision is critical to the church’s attainment of a corporate ‘heave’ in the Spirit that will be used of God in Michael’s eviction of Satan, which permits the final revelation of the mystery of iniquity. We need to understand what this mystery is and why the age cannot end until it is revealed in the Man of Sin. Furthermore, it is crucial that the church comes to an awareness of its own part in a travail that terminates in Michael’s heavenly victory.
Through the discernable fulfillment of a definitely foretold sequence of preliminary events, the believing remnant will be brought to a place of corporate travail and utterness towards God. In analogy to the way that Jesus said that Peter would be taken by another where he would not have gone, the church will also follow the Lamb into a final obedience unto death. This obedience will not come with dread or uncertainty, but through a love that has cast out fear; it will be greeted with ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’. Furthermore, all that prophecy makes clear concerning the church’s future is tremendously instructive for the present. I am referring particularly to the role of the church as corporate intercessor in Michael’s pre-tribulational triumph over Satan. I do not believe that Satan’s eviction and casting down to the earth by the agency of Michael will happen apart from the prevailing prayer of the church that knows itself with definite certainty to be at the threshold of the final conflict. [Here are some of the passages that relate to Israel’s delusive peace pact that starts the 3 and 1/2 year countdown to the abomination: Isa 28:15-18; Ezek 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 8:10-14, esp. Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:23-30; 1Thes 5:3.]
The great transition point in both heaven and earth is initiated by Michael’s eviction of Satan. This event in heaven begins the final unequaled tribulation of the last 3 1/2 years. Note that the same event that meets with such triumphant jubilation in heaven also announces the time of unequaled woe for the earth, as the earth’s greatest sorrow coincides with heaven’s greatest victory since the resurrection and ascension of Christ. In fact, as the imagery of Revelation shows, this transitional point is figuratively represented in analogy with the birth and ascension of Christ. Without question, Satan’s eviction from heaven starts the final persecution of Israel and the church as the woman’s seed (Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7-17).
It is true that the pattern represented in the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation, has had a measure of fulfillment throughout the entire inter-advent period. But this last 3 and 1/2 years is not merely symbolic of a short time, but is set off by distinct prophetic events that have never yet been fulfilled in literal detail. Therefore, since not one jot or tittle can pass without fulfillment, it is better to see the final tribulation as representing the intense conclusion and fullness of those underlying principles that have generally characterized the conflict of the ages. Here all things come to a head. The church has always known tribulation, suffering, and trial, but this is “the tribulation, the great one” (Rev 7:14 as literally translated from the Greek double article). This is the tribulation without equal or parallel (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21), and so far from the church being absent, it will be the church’s ‘finest hour’ (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3; Rev 12:10).
The church will be deeply prepared by the events leading up to the abomination. This will bring the godly remnant to a ‘Daniel-like’ urgency of travail and prevailing prayer. Such depths of intercession and purification will come in direct relation to the ‘set times’ of prophetic fulfillment, and conversely, the ‘set times’ are inextricably related to the prayers of the saints. So we could say that “when the church will ‘travail’, Michael will ‘prevail’.
Just as Michael came to Daniel’s aid by the removal of the opposing ‘prince of Persia’, the intercessory church, which will be moved to a great urgency by the manifest fulfillment of prophecy, will also receive help from Michael. This mighty break through of kingdom power comes with the final removal of the ‘one that hinders (compare 2Thes 2:7 with Rev 12:10). It is critical that we distinguish between the time that Satan is bound and the time that he is cast down. He is bound at the start of the millennium. He is cast down at the start of the tribulation, 3 and 1/2 years before the Lord’s return. Daniel shows that Michael stands up at the beginning of the tribulation (Dan 12:1), and Revelation shows that when Michael stands up, Satan is cast down to begin the “short time” of unequaled tribulation (Rev 12:7-17). We need to see the relationship of this heavenly transition to the events on earth that start the tribulation in order to understand its affect on Israel and the church.
Our interpretation will depend on whether we can justify making a connection between two key texts, namely, 2Thess 2:3-8 and Rev 12:7-17. We see in 2Thes 2:3-8 that the Day of the Lord awaits a particular event, namely, the revelation of the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the Man of Sin (2:6), but this awaits the removal of the one that holds back or hinders (2:7). In Rev 12:10, we see that the kingdom cannot come so long as Satan retains his illicit residence in heaven. I believe the evidence will show that the restrainer that holds back the revealing of the mystery of iniquity is Satan. In analogy to Michael’s removal of the opposing Prince of Persia in Dan 10:13, Satan must also be forcibly dislodged from his place in heaven before the kingdom can come with Antichrist’s destruction at the post-tribulational Day of the Lord (2Thes 2:8; Rev 16:14-16; 19:17-21; Dan 7:11; Ezek 39:4-22).
A comparison of Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7-12 will show that the same time is in view in both passages. Dan 11:36 with 2Thess 2:4 shows that same individual is in view, and Dan 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11 with Mt 24:15, 21 shows the relationship of all to the time of the abomination. Evidently the heavenly event of Satan’s expulsion is the catalyst for the earthly event of the abomination, since both are depicted as starting the tribulation. But of particular concern for the church is the observance that Michael is divinely empowered to evict Satan in response to the woman’s travail. We are interested to understand why the tribulation cannot begin until this happens and what kind of participatory role the church is destined to have in the travail that precedes the tribulation, a travail that appears to intensify as the time of birth (corporate birth?) draws near.
The metaphor of the woman’s travail to bring forth the seed reaches back to Gen 3:15. Isaiah employs the same language to describe a mysterious ‘before and after’ of Zion’s travail (Isa 66:7-8; see also Mic 5:3). The gospels reveal the fulfillment of the mystery of Gen 3:15 in Christ, the personal seed of the woman. [Significantly, Messiah’s conquest of sin and Satan proceeds according to the pattern of Israel’s history, from miraculous conception (Isaac), and escape (Moses), through rejection by His brethren (Joseph), through death by crucifixion (the exile, particularly ‘Jacob’s trouble), to resurrection, ascension, and return (after ‘two days’ the remnant of His brethren return with the millennial restoration and exaltation of Israel; Ezek 37:1-28; Hos 5:15 – 6:2; Mic 5:3; Mt 23:39).] However, the imagery doesn’t terminate on the personal seed, but extends to the corporate seed of the woman, the godly remnant, the ‘holy seed’, and ‘elect lady’.
According to Revelation 12:1-17, Christ’s return is contingent on a victory in the heavens that accomplishes a comparable pattern of birth and ascent in the experience of the corporate seed of the woman. This is often enough recognized by commentators, but what is too little recognized is the definite time of fulfillment. This great transition in the history of the kingdom of God happens at the mid-point of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan 9:27), which marks the beginning of the last 3 1?2 years of the unequaled tribulation.
It is important to see that the tribulation coincides with the ‘short time’ of Satan’s wrath. According to Rev 12:10 the kingdom cannot come until after Satan has been cast down from heaven by Michael. This begins the final time of Satan’s wrath and woe for the earth (Rev 12:12). The earthly counterpart to this event in heaven is the self-exaltation of the Antichrist who enters the inner sanctuary of the temple of God at Jerusalem where he places the abomination of desolation (evidently an idol image of himself) in the holy place. Clearly, the great tribulation starts with this event (compare Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15-16, 21; 2Thes 2:4; Rev 11:2; 13:5).
We need to see the relationship between Michael’s forced eviction of Satan to the revelation of the mystery of iniquity as significantly concurrent with the time of the abomination. The revelation of the mystery of iniquity in the final Man of Sin means something much more than the recognition of his identity. This will be apparent well before he is revealed as the Man of Sin through a chronological order of events that lead up to the abomination (Dan 11:23-30). Though the Antichrist can be certainly identified by what is written of his pre-tribulational activities, this is not what is meant by the ‘revelation’ of the Man of Sin. Until the restrainer is removed, he is only ‘an’ antichrist, but his revelation as ‘the’ Man of Sin awaits a transitional miracle that happens in conjunction with Satan’s expulsion and the beginning of the tribulation (Rev 12:12-14).
The revelation of the mystery of iniquity (2Thes 2:7-8) in the final Man of Sin has to do with the point at which Satan takes up a full and unlimited residence in the revived body of the beast that suffered the mortal wound (Rev 13:3, 12). The full incarnation of the Serpent’s seed happens in conjunction with the resurrection of the mortally wounded beast. This happens in conjunction with the time as the result of Michael’s expulsion of Satan. With the miracle of the healing of the mortal wound, the beast is described as ascending out the abyss (Rev 11:7; 17:8) to continue a short space (Rev 17:10). The ‘short space’ of the last beast is identical to the ‘short time’ of Satan’s wrath (Rev 12:12). It is 42 month career of the Antichrist (Dan 7:11, 21, 25; Rev 12:12-14; 13:5) that begins in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week with the abomination (compare Mt 24:15, 21; 2Thes 2:3-4; Dan 9:27; 11:31-36; 12:1, 11).
With the astonishing revivification of the mortally wounded beast, the world of unredeemed humanity is made to “wonder … when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev 17:8). This last beast, “who is of the seven,” appears to become the composite fullness of what all the former beasts revealed only in part (Rev 13:2), as the one “whose coming is after the working of Satan with ALL power and signs and lying wonders.” It will be the ultimate deception.
If this mystery is fulfilled in a man (and not in the revival of the Roman empire as some commentators assume), then it follows that the beast returns from the abyss at precisely the same time that Satan is being cast down to earth by Michael. So the heavenly event of Satan’s eviction is answered by a demonic resurrection that sets in motion the events of the tribulation. In the hubris of presumed invincibility, the resuscitated Antichrist proceeds at once to the temple of God in Jerusalem to place the abomination that starts the tribulation.
Paradoxically, all of heaven rejoices with the removal of Satan, even though it means the beginning of the earth’s greatest time of woe (Mt 24:21; Rev 12:12). But for the remnant that have passed through a time of deepest travail in view of what is at hand, the prospect of suffering cannot hurt the oil and wine of their joy, as the casting down of the Accuser will mean that a barrier of hindrance has been removed that permits a mighty break through of corporate power and fullness not seen since Pentecost (Rev 12:10-11). When Jesus said that “some standing here shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom come with power” (Mk 9:1), it is evident that He was not speaking of the kingdom that comes at the end of the times of the gentiles, but his reference was to a revelatory kind of seeing, such as the power that was revealed at Pentecost. This is the kind of apocalyptic in-breaking that the church can expect on the eve of the tribulation.
The wording of Rev 12:10 makes it evident that the power of the kingdom comes in some sense immediately upon Michael’s victory over Satan, suggesting something more immediate than the millennial reign that does not come until the end of the tribulation (Mt 24:29-31; 2Thes 2:8). This is evident by noting the relationship between the words ‘now’ and ‘because’. “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ, because he who accuses our brethren has been thrown down once for all, he who accuses the before our God and night” (Wuest’s translation of NT).
Since it is clear that the Accuser is cast down in advance of the tribulation, it follows the “strength and power of Christ” spoken of in the above passage comes at the mid-point of the last week, and not only at the tribulation’s end. This would coincide with the time in Daniel when “the people that know their God shall be strong doing exploits” (11:32). So we can reasonably consider that the strength and power of Christ mentioned in this passage does not wait until the Lord’s post-tribulational return, but comes with power on the godly remnant at the middle of the week when the Accuser is cast down. This powerful apocalyptic break-through of revelation power and strength follows the pattern of Daniel’s travail and the opening of heaven over him to receive the decisive unveiling of the future of the kingdom. It is the same here.
Such transitional break-through of revelation and kingdom power may be likened to a birthing, in this instance a corporate birth, the birth of the man child in figurative analogy to the birth of Christ. The subsequent ascension of the man child speaks of an irreversible victory that secures for the seed a place ‘far above all principality and power’. For the believer, this ascent speaks of the victory of the finished work of Christ fully appropriated by an overcoming faith that is born of God (1Jn 5:4). It is the ‘full assurance of faith’ that secures the conscience of the believer out of Accuser’s reach in advance of the final test. This requires a clear apprehension and appropriation of the gospel. So with the casting down of the Accuser, the kingdom of God comes with power on the remnant that has travailed to the full inward formation of Christ, thus receiving the grace that will overcome and not fail in the last martyr witness of the church.
The tribulation church is simply the end-most expression of the apostolic church of the apocalyptic secret, which, I am careful to point out, is nothing other than the Christian gospel revealed at Pentecost, only now in final stages of tribulation fulfillment. The church of the last tribulation is not discouraged by what is coming on the world. They are in union with the exultation of heaven’s hallelujahs, because at this point, the millennial reign of Christ is just 3 ½ years away. The one that hinders has now been removed, thus setting in motion the final tribulation which brings the return of Christ (Mt 24:29-31). The heavenly event that is the catalyst for the abomination at Jerusalem will mark the time with utmost certainty. It will be clear to those of understanding that the Lord’s return is now just 3 ½ years away. Never has the time been so certainly known. We can scarce imagine the impact that these events, in the full light of revelation, will have on the godly remnant, and of the part that such prophetic clarity and decisiveness will play in the church’s final witness to Israel.
Certainly this imagery is rich with implication and application for the church of all time, but its specific timing must also not be missed for the church of the last time. What will this mean for the saints on earth during this time? The removal of Satan from heaven permits the mystery of iniquity to be revealed in the Man of Sin so that Christ can return (2Thes 2:3-8). We need to see the order. Only then, with the removal of the one that hinders, can the last tribulation come and so finish the mystery of God with Christ’s post-tribulational return (compare Rev 10:7; 11:15; with Mt 24:29-31; 1Cor 15:52; Isa 27:13).
The mystery of iniquity is nothing less than the full and unrestrained revelation of Satan in the flesh. It is the eschatological goal of the original enmity that was ‘put’ between the two seeds (Gen 3:15), and headed up in the two princes of Dan 9:25-26, both of whom fulfill a mystery of incarnation at their appointed times (2Thes 2:6). Thus we see that the mystery of iniquity (2Thes 2:7) and the mystery of godliness (1Tim 3:16) constitute a kind of dualism that exists side by side in the comprehensive ‘mystery of God’ (Rev 10:7), which is built around the mystery of Christ’s twofold appearing, all foretold in a mystery in Daniel’s famed seventy week prophecy.
The first century revelation of Messiah’s twofold advent has brought to glorious light the mystery of the two comings that was concealed in Daniel’s prophecy. According to the mystery of the atonement, the messianic Prince is ‘cut off’ (Dan 9:26 with Isa 53:8) at the end of Daniel’s 69th week. The 70th week is divided at the mid-point when the prince that exalts himself places the abomination (compare Dan 8:11-12; 9:27; 11:31-36; 12:11; Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:4). It is the last half of Daniel’s last week that will see the finishing of Israel’s transgression and the revelation of the mystery of iniquity in the Man of Sin (‘the prince that shall come’), “whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2Thes 2:8 with Isa 31:8; Dan 7:11; 8:25).
So the mysterious ‘gap’ that exists between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel comprehends both comings of Christ and the mystery of the incarnations of the two seeds in the two princes. Dan 9:24-27 is at the heart of the Old Testament mystery of Christ (Ro 16:25-26; Eph 6:19; 1Pet 1:11). Paul continually affirmed that his teaching and preaching was according to the revelation of this mystery that is to be known to the nations “by the prophetic writings’ (Acts 26:22 with Ro 16:26). It would be well if our preaching and teaching would be more consciously ‘according to the revelation of the mystery” that was revealed to the first century apostles and prophets, because the revelation of the mystery that brings all the pieces together into a revelation of perfect redemptive wisdom is the supreme apologetic for the vindication of the God of Israel (Rev 19:10b).
In view of the above, it should be very clear that the revelation of the ‘Man of Sin’ on earth (I think by way of spectacular revivification from the mortal wound) coincides with the time Michael casts down Satan to the earth. This heavenly event is soon answered in the abomination in the holy place at Jerusalem, which brings the final desolations of Jerusalem and the final woes on the earth. But all of this assumes that the true church, or at least a remnant of the true church has been brought to something transitional and transfiguring through the foregoing events leading up to this climactic point. How is this accomplished? We need to see that the events of the last 3 1?2 years are preceded by the events of the first 3 1?2 years. These events are likewise described with great detail and specificity (Dan 11:23-30) so that will be recognized by at least a sizeable remnant of the true church of God (Dan 11:33).
These events and the urgency that they signify will have a ‘straightening’ affect on the church. The sure and certain approach of the final tribulation will crowd the church to a place of deepest intercessory travail. Through a process of crisis urgency and transforming revelation, the church will be increasingly freed of the hindering power of self-reliance (2Cor 1:9), since this is what gives Satan power to accuse the saints. Where there is no confidence in the flesh, his power to accuse is canceled. As Israel is transformed only after they have been brought to an end of their power (compare Deut 32:36 with Dan 12:7), so must the church pass through a time of profound self-emptying before it can be raised (or birthed) to the fullness of kingdom love and power.
The veil that holds back the in-breaking of apocalyptic revelation is proportionate to the strength of the flesh. This is a profoundly important principle. This is why it is not until Israel’s power has been broken that “all these things shall be accomplished.” So is it any different with the church? What is the church but a people that have learned that grace only appears when one has come to an end of their own power? So the church that can overcome in the final test is a church that has learned that kingdom strength comes only at the end of our own strength. This is the basis by which we may confidently know that the church will be perfected in love in time for its final witness.
The Accuser will be cast down at that time by the same means that his power is broken now, namely, by the revelation of the gospel. But we must understand that there are degrees of apprehension of revealed truth, and we know that the greater the death to our own sufficiency will be the greater resurrection in the revelation of grace and glory, as the light shines brighter to the ‘perfect day’. This is why that even while the Antichrist is ‘wearing out’ the saints of the most high (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:7), they shall mount up with wings and overcome more and more as they are purged, purified, tested, and made white “even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed” (Dan 11:35; 12:10).
The power of Satan to accuse is broken when human self-sufficiency is broken. Israel’s captivity ends “when He sees that their power is gone” (Deut 32:36). So even before Israel has been brought to an end of their power by the judgments of Jacob’s trouble, the true remnant will also have come to an end of their power, not at first by great tribulation, but by great travail in response to the divine quickening of transforming revelation. So when our strength has given way to His, not only will the Accuser be ‘cast down’, but fear will be ‘cast out’, as love is made perfect through a deeper and clearer apprehension of the glorious gospel of Christ. This is why the next verse says, “and they loved not their lives unto the death!” We must not miss the conjunction between the end of Satan’s access to the consciences of the brethren to accuse, and the confidence that leads to the fearless obedience and selfless sacrifice that follows his removal by Michael (Rev 12:10-11 with Dan 11:32).
Certainly, these are principles that are inherent in the revelation of the gospel for all time, but there is clearly an eschatological maturity of love and gospel confidence that comes in greater fullness and power when Michael engages on behalf of Israel and the church at the threshold of the last 3 1?2 years. Paul implies that the church composed predominately of gentiles attains a ‘fullness’ before the time that Israel attains its own fullness (contrast Ro 11:12 with verse 25). It is my view that this ‘fullness of the gentiles’ signifies something more than mere numerical fullness, but a fullness of stature in Christ (Eph 4:13).
It is imperative that the church comes to see its indispensable role as a kind of ‘corporate Daniel’ in the great transition that ends the age. I believe the church will be brought to this by the powerful constraints and inducements of prophetic fulfillment leading up to this transitional point on the eve of the great tribulation. For the Daniel remnant, the fulfillment of the prophetic word will be in clearest certainty, and this will work a powerful constraint of urgency in those that have understanding (Dan 11:33; 12:3, 10).
The strategic relationship that exists between the preliminary events leading up to the abomination and the role of the church in Michael’s triumph over Satan is absent from most of the church’s consciousness. From the time that the league is made with the Antichrist (Dan 11:23), which Isaiah calls a ‘covenant with death and hell’ (28:15, 18), every day that passes will bring nearer the now certain imminence of the great tribulation.
This will press upon the believing church a great urgency to lay hold of Christ’s strength in view of what is known to be at hand. Just as Daniel was aware that the ‘set time’ of Jeremiah’s seventy years had nearly expired when he ‘set his heart to understand’, so will the true remnant of the church recognize that the last crisis is at hand, and like Daniel, will enter a time of corporate urgency of prayer and spiritual preparation for the final test. The church’s participation in the travail of the heavenly Zion will accomplish a powerful break-through of corporate fullness and perfection of faith and love unto final sacrifice (compare Dan 11:32-33 with Rev 12:10-11). The figurative imagery of Rev 12 compares the church’s victory over Satan to the birth and ascension of the woman’s seed.
Notice in Rev 12:10 that the word ‘now’ marks a critical point of transition. The jubilant declaration that “now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ,” is not tied to Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation, but to the casting down of Satan at its start. This pre-tribulational clearing of the heavens opens the way for the revelation of the man of sin, and the start of the last tribulation which must precede the Day of the Lord (2Thes 2:3-4).
According to Dan 12:1 the unequaled tribulation begins when Michael ‘stands up’. It is the same in Revelation (12:7, 12). That a past event cannot be in view is shown by the fact that the unequaled tribulation ends with Israel’s restoration and the resurrection of the dead (Dan 12:1-2). Furthermore, Rev 12:7-17 shows that the final tribulation begins with Satan’s forced removal; it is evident that he is still in some sense lodged in heaven until that time. This is the inviolable order. Only with Satan’s removal by Michael can the Day of the Lord come (2Thes 2:3-4).
At first hearing, it may seem incredible that Satan would not be doing all in his power to bring forth his man. It is just the opposite! It is well to remember what the revelation of the mystery of iniquity will mean for Satan. It will mean that his time is short (Rev 12:12). Contrary to popular opinion, Satan is in no hurry to bring forth his man, because Satan’s final exposure in the revelation of “that Wicked” (2Thes 2:8) signals the end of his kingdom (Rev 20:2). This is not to say that Satan is holding back evil. On the contrary, he is ‘the one that hinders’ (2Thes 2:7). He hinders the saints by accusing them before God day and night. He hindered Paul (Ro 1:13; 1Thes 2:18). One of his chief princes hindered the messenger of revelation sent in answer to Daniel’s prayer (10:13). He hinders the coming in of the kingdom of God (Rev 12:7-10). It is not that Satan is holding back Satan, but rather the revelation and full exposure of Satan in the flesh, which signals the end of his tenure and heaven and seals his doom. Therefore, if this is what is holding back the Day of the Lord, then it follows that this is an event that Satan is devoted to resist with all his might.
Satan yet resides in the heavenly sphere where he occupies a position of rule among the fallen principalities and powers. He continually accuses the consciences of the brethren and resists the time that he will be forced down to earth, which will mean his final exposure and defeat. The tribulation starts when Satan is no longer able to hold back the revelation of the mystery (2Thes 2:7), which holds back the Day of the Lord (2:3, 6). When the woman’s travail is complete, Michael prevails to dislodge Satan from the place of obscurity and hindrance. His eviction by Michael forces the revelation / exposure of the mystery of iniquity in the Man of Sin which starts the tribulation with his appearance in the holy place at Jerusalem (Dan 11:31-36; 12:11; Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:4). With the removal of the one that hinders, the mystery is revealed that is holding back the day of the Lord (2Thes 2:3-8). The Day of the Lord is the point of Antichrist’s destruction at Christ’s glorious appearing and kingdom (Mt 24:29; 2Thes 2:8). The evidence is too great to ignore. The correlation of events is clear. No other explanation so well accounts for the manifest conjunction of events. This is light for the remnant of whom it will be required to face the final test. It is cause to enter into a unity of corporate prayer for the decisive events that perfect the church and conclude the age.
Notice that Michael’s expulsion of Satan follows the pattern established in the book of Daniel. Certainly this is an instructive paradigm for prayer and spiritual warfare for all time, but the reference is clearly to a specific event that starts the final great tribulation (Dan 12:1; Rev 12:7, 12). Just as Michael was sent in answer to Daniel’s prayer to remove the hindering Prince of Persia, the church can rely on the same gracious divine intervention when it too, will be brought to a place of ultimate corporate travail and prevailing prayer.
The end time church will know what it means to ‘stand in the gap’ (Dan 9:2-21; Ezek 22:30) in priestly intercession for Israel in a proxy of travail, as when Paul said, “For whom I travail in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19). The church and Israel are destined to meet in the wilderness. Both will be in flight from a common enemy. By this time, the true church will know what is coming, but Israel together with most of Christendom will not. “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1Thes 5:3). The plumb-line of the prophetic scriptures will constitute a widening watershed of division that will ultimately expose the church of the great apostasy (foolish virgins?).
So we see that apocalyptic vision of Daniel not only predicts the final defeat of Satan, but becomes the means by which it is accomplished. By revelation and travail the church is brought to its eschatological fullness in order that Israel’s predestined fullness can follow in due course. This helps to explain why the book of Daniel has been the favorite object of attack by the so-called ‘higher criticism’ of academic scholarship. The late Sir Robert Anderson and the contemporary Josh McDowell have both written books with the title “Daniel in the Critics Den.” All of this is to say that unless one is a complete naturalist, it should be evident that Satan is most particularly threatened by the revelation of Daniel.
With the possible exception of Gen 1-11, the only other portion of scripture that has been the special target of the ‘destructive criticism’ of modern scholarship is the Lord’s Olivet prophecy (Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21). Significantly, Jesus’ prophetic discourse is based chiefly on Daniel, as He directs His listeners to Daniel with the instruction “whoever reads, let him ‘understand'” (Mt 24:15). [Note that the word ‘understand’ appears frequently throughout Daniel. The Hebrew is “Maskilim” and refers to those that have insight, particularly as it pertains to Daniel’s revelation.] I personally believe that the one that came to reveal to Daniel what “shall befall your people in the latter days” according to “that which is noted in the scripture of truth” is the same one that stood with His disciples on Mt. Olivet when He gave His church the key of Daniel.
May God awaken us to emulate Daniel and take up his burden for the covenant and the end of exile for both church and Israel. He was a man of ‘an excellent spirit’, full of wisdom and prophetic understanding, a true priestly intercessor in perfect identification and brokenness for his people’s tragic condition. He embodied the wisdom of the cross as a true witness to the God of Israel in the midst of the world’s power structures.
Finally, it is important that we mark the inseparable relationship that exists between intercessory prayer, prophetic revelation, and the set times of God in the church’s final victory over Satan. These are indispensable factors and dynamics that work towards the eviction of Satan in order that the kingdom can come in the only way that it was ordained to come, i.e., “through much tribulation” (Acts 14:22). So whether the church realizes it or not, to pray, “Thy kingdom come,” is a costly prayer indeed.
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie
P.S. I’d like to encourage that the friends that plan to attend our table talks in Vermont, NY, and North Bay spend some time in portions of scripture that deal especially with the Antichrist and the tribulation. I would suggest reading through Daniel as paradigmatic of the church of the last days. Also Rev chapters 11-13, 16-17, Mt 24 and 2Thes 2, Isa 24-28; Ezek 38-39; Zech 12-14 especially. Be on the look out for corroborating passages throughout the OT in general, where these themes are particularly referenced. Those scriptures will also be helpful to have on hand, since the apocalyptic portions are basically a summing up of the great themes of covenant promise and judgment that appear all throughout the OT, particularly in the prophets.