In assessing the significance of the recent Abraham Accord for its present impact and future portent, we must be careful to distinguish things that differ, lest we overstate and discredit the testimony. Let me explain.
The particular peace agreement that begins the last seven years must be one that not only includes multi-national support for a peace arrangement that brings unprecedented peace to the region (Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24; 1Thes 5:3). It must also include recognition and support for “the holy covenant” in particular (see Dan 9:27 in light of Dan 11:28, 30, 32). This is something far more than a mere peace agreement signed by the Antichrist. That theory is in timely need of serious re-examination!
So what is the “holy covenant”? In Dan 11:28, 30, where this particular phrase is used, it clearly has to do with Jewish temple worship at Jerusalem. Whatever else the holy covenant includes (Jewish right to the Land promised to Abraham’s descendents, etc.), it must include the presence of the temple (or at least the beginnings of a temple) and Jewish return (recent return; Isa 63:18; 64:10-11, with Dan 8:13-14) to the daily offering of sacrifice on the temple mount in Jerusalem (Dan (9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15-16; 2Thes 2:4). It is precisely “the holy covenant” situated at Jerusalem that the AC so vehemently hates and, with other dissenting nations (Dan 11:27, 30), conspires to destroy (Dan 11:23-31).
The single question that so greatly affects our interpretation of all else is this: is the covenant that is “confirmed” in Dan 9:27 the same covenant that is called “holy” in Dan 11:28, 30? If it is, this brings the consummate paradox. How does the AC “confirm” (in the sense of approve or strengthen) a covenant that is holy? We are about to see why this is such a mystery that has defied clear resolution until these end days (Dan 12:4, 9).
From the larger context of Daniel, with key related passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel especially, we see that the AC takes advantage of what appears an already existing peace (he comes in ‘peaceably’; Dan 8:25; 11:21, KJV; others translate, “at a time of security / tranquility” ASV; NASB, “when its people feel secure” NIV). It is in this already existing climate of relative security (many translate “prosperity”; cf. Eze 38:12-13; Joel 2:3; Dan 11:41) that he “obtains the kingdom (already existing kingdom) by flatteries / stealth / treachery (Dan 11:21).
Whether at that time, or some point shortly after, “many” (we infer ‘many’ nations; see Dan 9:27) enter into an alliance with him.
23”And AFTER the league (treaty) made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.”
Remember, compared to other regional powers, he is called a “little horn” (Dan 7:8; 8:9).
It appears that he has very lately risen to power in a comparatively small, possibly new nation somewhere to the north of Israel (Dan 8:9). Judging by the use of prepositions ‘in’ and ‘among’ in Dan 7:8, 24, we may safely infer that the ten nations that he will later unite against the covenant are already in existence when he comes to power in what is evidently a fledgling new nation that has recently emerged. (“out of one of them”, i.e., one of the four primary divisions of Alexander’s empire; Dan 8:9; 11:20-21).
From the text, we see that after rising to power in a comparatively small (and possibly recently formed nation from somewhere within the former Seleucid kingdom that once stretched from Damascus to Babylon), during a time of what appears an already existing regional security (Dan 11:21, 24), an ill-fated alliance is struck with the AC (Dan 11:23-24), the proverbial ‘deal with the Devil’. Is this human alliance the same as the covenant that is ‘confirmed’ in Dan 9:27?
If the covenant of Dan 9:27 is indeed the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30, then the answer is no; they are not the same. There is a crucial distinction, but this alliance is, without doubt, the “covenant with death and hell” (Isa 28:15, 18) that we may infer takes place at the same time that the AC confirms the holy covenant “with the many” (Dan 9:27).
This suggests a satisfying resolution to the paradox of how something can be at once a covenant with death and hell, while at the same time ‘the’ holy covenant is being confirmed by the Antichrist (probably as one among others; Dan 9:27; 11:23). It is different sides of the same coin, evidently occurring at the same time.
[Note: Contrary to popular opinion, the anger of God does not burn against the Jews because some want to rebuild the temple and offer sacrifice according to the law. Far from it, His deep umbrage with them will be what it has always been, trust in the arm of the flesh, which long standing misplaced trust will at length sell them into the hand of the final Antichrist. It is the deadly presumption that lasting peace can exist apart from lasting righteousness, that is, the “everlasting” righteousness” (Dan 9:24) that can come only through the Spirit of “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:5-6).]
Apparently, a multinational peace agreement includes within its provisions, formal recognition of Israel’s right to exist in the land that will now, at last, be recognized as theirs, not by all, but by the moderate nations seeking normalization at the probable expense of Turkish, Iranian, and Palestinan insult and rage.
[Note: I have shown elsewhere that the best interpretation of Dan 8:11-14 argues that the sacrifice does not start immediately after the covenant is confirmed, but somewhere between the eighth and tenth months of the first year, depending on where one sees the finishing point within the added days of Dan 12:11-13.]
We know the alliance with the AC takes place at a time of security / tranquility (implied in Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 8:25; 11:21, 24). Could this state of affairs pre-exist the AC’s confirmation of the covenant? I think that is a possibility. Even now, as of the recent “Abraham Accords”, regional nations, some of long standing antagonism, are beginning to pursue normalized relations with Israel. So it is entirely possible that there will be a comparative measure of peace before the peace. But note carefully. The peace that will be in place when the AC confirms the covenant to start the last seven years must be one that is completely without precedent. We know this because scripture shows that Israel’s guard is relaxed, leaving the nation quite unsuspecting of what’s about to hit them (Isa 28:15-18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 11:23-24; 1Thes 5:3). And not only Israel, but I think this shock and the fire that the ten will bring upon the harlot will doubtless include, not only Jerusalem, but the west and evidently the moderate nations that were favorable of the peace. This would be the Gulf States of the Arabian Peninsula (ancient Sheba and Dedan; see Eze 38:13), and most certainly Egypt (see Isa 19).
It seems clear that the AC confirms the covenant at the same time he and other nations enter into the deadly alliance that ends in disaster for Israel. We also know that disaster comes 3 ½ years after the covenant of Dan 9:27 has been confirmed by the AC, evidently as one among ‘many’ others.
As stated above, it is one thing to enter into an agreement with Israel and other nations that secures a regional peace. It is quite another matter to “confirm” (not make in the sense of create, but to ‘make firm’ in the sense of strengthen, support, give formal approval or recognition) a covenant that is shown within the same book of Daniel to be, not ‘a’, but THE “holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30). So why would the AC “confirm” (in the sense of approve or strengthen) a covenant that is holy? No wonder this has been so overlooked by commentators!
If we are correct to understand that the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30 to be none other than the covenant that the AC confirms in Dan 9:27, we see that from the beginning of the alliance of Dan 11:23, he immediately begins to “work deceitfully”, as he swiftly increases in power.
If we are correct to make the connection between the covenant of Dan 9:27 and the holy covenant of Dan 11:28, 30, this means that the AC despises and plots to overthrow the same holy covenant he has so recently confirmed (Dan 11:27, 30). Of course, with few exceptions, this is not recognized by scholars in most of the commentaries on Daniel. This is because most tend to apply Dan 9:27 either to Antiochus IV (died 164 B.C.), or to Jesus who, it is claimed, terminated the sacrifice, not literally or actually (until 40 years later in 70 A.D), but ended its spiritual efficacy (it was never efficacious) by the once and for all sacrifice of His blood.
The interpretation will depend on which prince stops the regular sacrifice. Was it Antiochus, Jesus, or a future Antichrist (man of lawlessness)? If Antiochus, the math is fuzzy at best, as even admitted by the advocates of that view. If Jesus, then we must ask what great “consummation” or end came exactly seven years after He confirmed the covenant?
Moreover, if Jesus caused the sacrifice to cease, this is at variance with every other mention throughout the book. In every instance, it is always the evil, self exalting “prince who shall come” who stops the sacrifice, and this event always sets in motion the “time of the end” (cf. Dan 8:11; 9:26-27; 11:31; 12:11). What significant “end” did the seventh year after Jesus’ baptism bring? Advocates of this view are divided, but usually suggest that the end of the seventieth week came with either the death of Stephen or the conversion of Paul. Rather anticlimactic I’d say; especially when the whole book of Daniel designs to answer the question, “how long”?. The nation will be delivered at the “time of the end”, the same time the dead are raised (Dan 12:1-2), and this will happen exactly “a time, times, and a half”, somewhere within the approximate range of the 1260 -1290 -1335 days AFTER the stopping of the daily sacrifice. Clearly, this is the half week of Daniel’s 70th week that so greatly occupies the Revelation (Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5).
It is also typical for scholars (certainly not all) to apply Dan 11:21-35, not to the future Antichrist who enters the temple “in Jerusalem” (Mt 24:15-16; Rev 11:2), takes away the sacrifice, and declares himself God above all (Dan 11:31, 36-37; Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:4), but rather to Antiochus IV of the second century B.C. But such an interpretation makes poor observation that while Antiochus may have been a significant type of the coming Antichrist, in so many particulars within the text itself, he falls far short of the many outstanding details that received no adequate fulfillment in the second century B.C., clearly demanding a much more complete and plenary fulfillment in the future, but that’s another rather involved discussion.
It appears then that it is the holy covenant itself that the AC confirms, apparently at the same time Israel (with many other nations), enters into an alliance with him. We judge this because this marks the time he begins to “work deceitfully” (evidently against the covenant). This he does as he “comes up and becomes strong” (grows swiftly in power), either by means of “a small people”, or perhaps by his exploitation of a small people (insignificant people, or few in number?, the word, “number” is supplied by the translators in some translations).
After a strategic power grab (of a nation to his south, not necessarily Egypt; Dan 11:25 with Dan 11:42), he begins to secretly court the support of other dissenting nations in his plot against the holy covenant. This obviously implies his passion to capture Jerusalem (compare Dan 11:27, 30). I insert the word, “secretly”, because the “intelligence” he has with those who share his hatred of the covenant is manifestly a secretive conspiracy to invade. This is evident since the final destruction comes suddenly and without notice (see Isa 28:15-18; Eze 38:8-13; Mt 24:15-16; 1Thes 5:3; Rev 12:6, 14).
So from the very first, immediately “AFTER the league made with him”, he is seen plotting and planning against the “holy covenant” that he confirmed with other nations, granting Israel’s right to exist, not only exist, but to practice their ancient worship on the divinely designated temple mount. This is the covenant he confirms with many. There may be other peace treaties, signed by any number of participants, but this is what begins the seven years, nothing less!
Whether out of necessity or strategic opportunity, the AC confirms what he, with other dissenting nations, passionately despises. Yet he apparently breaks ranks with the others who vehemently oppose the covenant (Iran, Syria,Turkey, etc.). Until his strategic plotting solidifies into the union of the ten, the AC is apparently only one among the “many” more moderate nations that confirm the covenant. This means he pretends an initial support for what he begins very early to plot against. As events of the first half of the week progress (Dan 11:23-30), his intentions are disguised as he secretly courts compliance and unification with the disaffected resistors who evidently refuse this powerfully imposed, but passionately hated peace that includes forced recognition of the holy covenant.
Whether under necessity or opportunity, the AC will agree to make this highly deceptive concession to Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, but only for a time. From the very beginning of the alliance, he “works deceitfully” to plot and plan against what he so recently confirmed. When the time is right, he covertly courts the union of the ten. This is apparently those nations who are stalwart resistors of the peace, particularly any peace that grants Jewish ritual and worship on the forbidden temple mount.
A modern application of Dan 11:21-32 will suggest that those “who forsake the holy covenant” in Dan 11:30, 32 are not only the dissenting nations that wanted no part of the peace, but also those who after the peace is broken, begin to forsake and flee from any identification with the Jews in flight. Favorable relations with Jews will be a death sentence, as experienced, not only be Christians, but be some of the moderate nations that supported the peace (compare Eze 38:13, Sheba and Dedan, modern Gulf States, and Egypt; Isa 19). to Israel will certainly attract Antichrist rage, as so well demonstrated in the tribulation assault on Egypt (Isa 19). Relation to Israel association with the Jews .
In modern terms, this would be recognition, (whether voluntarily or constrained) of Israel’s right to exist in their own land, with particular formal recognition and acceptance of the right of Jewish attendance to situate their sanctuary on the forbidden Temple Mount and to shortly begin the regular sacrifice. That is what the idea of the “holy covenant” in Dan 11:28, 30, 32 (and therefore, we would argue, Dan 9:27) has particularly in view.
As best I can see, this is what the cumulative evidence, taken in strictest context, would seem to indicate. This is not to minimize the huge, on time stride in the right direction that the Abraham Accord represents. We do well to take heed, especially if we believe that we are nearing the end of Hosea’s two days (Hos 5:15 – 6:2). It is just to say, there remain some formidable political mountains that must be removed before the seven years can begin.
Recognizing this will keep us from premature declarations, so that when the time does confirm itself beyond question by the more definite signal events, we may move as one man with holy boldness, instructing many, and turning many to righteousness (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10; Rev 7:9, 13-14). It will be the church’s finest hour!
These be the days! Reggie