That's the Deal
In the weeks and months leading up to the U.S. presidential election in November, there was talk in various circles about the possibility of President Obama making a last-ditch effort to pull off a diplomatic coup in the Middle East before leaving office on January 20, 2017. Obama was making overtures of either introducing a United Nations Security Council resolution that would force a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians (which would almost certainly pass), or at least allowing some other country to introduce such a resolution and then refraining from vetoing it (meaning it would almost certainly pass).
A UN Security Council resolution is a resolution that expresses the collective will of the constituent members of the United Nations as a body and is generally regarded as binding, although technically such a resolution can be repealed by the Council. More importantly to a lame duck U.S. president, any such resolution cannot be undone by the incoming president after said lame duck vacates the Oval Office on January 20.
Opinions varied. There were those who saw a Hillary Clinton victory in the November election as something that would encourage Obama to make such a move, since he would be passing the presidential baton to a kindred spirit. Bonbons tossed out along the campaign trail notwithstanding, Clinton is known to be essentially as anti-Israel as Obama. Others thought a Clinton victory would influence Obama to sit tight, reasoning that he'd be willing to let Clinton proceed with Middle East negotiations of her own.
Some, on the other hand, opined that a Donald Trump win would egg Obama on to make his move, reasoning that Obama would love to slap a (conspicuously absent) shiny gold star on his foreign policy report card while at the same time sticking Trump with a hot potato he would have nowhere to toss, and one that would rob him of the chance of possibly succeeding where Obama failed. Twice.
And in the minds of many Trump supporters, if anyone can succeed at helping Israel and the Palestinians reach a two-state deal, surely it's Donald Trump, billionaire real-estate mogul and author of The Art of the Deal.
Wow, The Art of the Deal. How prophetic is that, huh? Nobody's better qualified to strike a deal in the Middle East than "the Donald" himself!
After Trump won the election (although we're still waiting for the circus sideshows to pack up and leave town), Obama seemed to be ratcheting down the rhetoric and began signaling that he would not attempt to push any major resolutions through at the UN.
As the lamest lame duck of them all carefully weighed his options in his desperate quest for that elusive gold star, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli leaders were busy crafting strategies to counter and ultimately thwart any such efforts. From the standpoint of the Israelis, a move to force a two-state solution on them would be tantamount to blackmail. It would essentially put a gun to Israel's head and say:
"Forget negotiations...we're gonna divide your land. That's the deal!"
Naturally the Israelis are vehemently against it. They have always insisted that a two-state solution can only be achieved through direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
On the other hand, the Palestinians would love to see a powerful international body like the UN force Israel to give them their state, and would eagerly lick the hand of whoever was responsible for such a resolution.
So that's where we were when I began writing this article—with Obama laying low, but with rumors still flying. More on this later, since it has become clear that Obama was just playing possum.
Due to recent events, there is still some lingering fear in the minds of many that Obama will yet try to use a UN Security Council resolution as a tool to force a two-state solution down Israel's throat, thus kicking off the Tribulation in a matter of weeks or months.
I sincerely do not believe this will be the case. I am personally convinced that the two-state solution will not be mandated directly in the form of a UN Security Council resolution—whether it's sponsored by a lame duck Barack Obama, a lame duck François Hollande of France, or anyone else, duck or otherwise, before Obama leaves office or at any point in the future.
I am satisfied that when this treaty comes (and it will come in one form or another), it will come as a negotiated settlement between the two parties, agreed upon and signed by both Israel and the Palestinians—regardless of whatever form such an agreement eventually takes. I just don't think it's going to be a gun to the head courtesy of the UN.
I believe this will be a real treaty in the normal sense of the word.
The reason I hold this opinion, however, has nothing to do with my knowledge of and insight into the machinations of global politics (which could be hidden under a medium-sized thimble). I believe this for two simple reasons: (a) I believe that's what God's Word actually says, and (b) I believe it makes the most scriptural sense. My goal in this article is to explain why I think so.
Setting the stage
Many people in the Church today know next to nothing about end-time prophecy—they don't take it seriously, and many regard those with a professed interest in it as a bunch of wackos running around wearing little tinfoil hats. In many mainline denominations, talk of the Tribulation or the Antichrist or the Rapture (especially the Rapture) will elicit a condescending smirk and an "Oh, you're one of those" roll of the eyes.
On the other hand, many believers are cautiously curious about Bible prophecy and may be open to it, but are put off by the perceived complexity that seems to enshroud it and also by the extent to which it seems to divide the Church into bitterly opposed camps, each of which denounces the others as heretics who have been deceived by the lies of Satan. The problem with many such people is that they only get the big chunks, but don't stick around long enough to pick up on the details.
For example, they hear believers discuss the Antichrist, and they naively assume that we should be able to scout the horizon and pinpoint who this Mr. Six-Sixty-Six guy is gonna be. But they don't understand what he will do, why he will do it, what will identify him, or the fact that the Church won't even be here to see his coming out party at the Abomination of Desolation (whatever that is). They hear about this horrible time known as the Tribulation, something about seven years, and then get all excited by YouTube videos claiming it's already started! Yikes!
People easily get confused about prophetic events because they simply miss the details. Take the Tribulation, for example. Even if people understand that it is a yet future seven-year period of time during which God will pour out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world, maybe they don't realize that it is also a time God will carry out the final stage of purging on His people Israel and bring a believing remnant of them to faith in Christ so they can be ushered into the Millennial Kingdom following the Second Coming. And maybe they miss that a highly specific event represents the starting point for that seven-year period—and it's not...
(a) The Rapture.
(b) The outbreak of World War III.
(c) The collapse of the Dow Jones.
(d) The election of Donald Trump.
(e) All of the above.
The definitive passage of Scripture that informs our understanding of what actually triggers the Tribulation is in Daniel:
24Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined. 27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured on the desolate.
(Daniel 9:24–27 AKJV / emphasis added)
As I have said before, this is what I like to call the Rosetta Stone of Bible prophecy. It is a key that gives us the basic framework into which prophetic events fit. It allows us to decipher the Bible's overall prophetic structure.
"The people of the prince that shall come" are the Romans, and the Roman army—along with their Arab conscripts—sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in AD 70. The "prince that shall come" is none other than the future Antichrist, and notice what this prince will do: he will "confirm the covenant with the many for one week." That week is a period of seven years—the seven-year Tribulation. In this context, "the many" refers to Israel, and they will be unbelieving Jews who actually think they are finally embracing their long-awaited "savior" who has apparently brought them peace.
Notice, however, that it doesn't say he will negotiate the covenant. It doesn't say he will sign the covenant.
It says he will confirm the covenant.
The Hebrew could be phrased as "he causes the covenant to be strong." Most Bible scholars interpret this to mean that he enforces the treaty. He implements it. He puts boots on the ground, so to speak.
And since that covenant will be seven years in length, the seven-year Tribulation begins when that covenant officially goes into effect.
So that's what starts the Tribulation—the Antichrist enforcing a seven-year treaty with Israel? OK, but what kind of treaty will it be? What will it entail? Are there any other Scriptures that tell us more about this treaty?
I'm glad you asked. Keep reading.
Let's make a deal
As I said, many people are nervous that Obama or someone else might try to cram a UN Security Council resolution through that would put a gun to Israel's head and force them into a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
But here's the $64,000 question:
Q. Is this the type of deal that the Bible speaks of?
Although Daniel 9:27 tells us a covenant with Israel will be confirmed, it doesn't tell us much else about it. However, this end-time treaty that will inaugurate the Tribulation is also mentioned in the book of Isaiah.
In chapter 28, Isaiah is prophesying about the purging of Israel during the Tribulation, a purging that will culminate in God laying a cornerstone in Israel—a cornerstone that is precious, tried, and sure. This is obviously a reference to Jesus Christ when He returns to establish His kingdom at the climax of that purging.
Notice, however, that Isaiah speaks in extremely harsh terms concerning a covenant Israel has made at the time of the Tribulation that will backfire rather badly, and pay special attention to the manner in which Isaiah speaks of this covenant:
15Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing whip shall pass through, it shall not come to us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
16Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste.
17Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
18And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing whip shall pass through, then you shall be trodden down by it.
(Isaiah 28:15–18 AKJV / emphasis added)
First, recall how I described a UN Security Council resolution that would mandate a two-state solution—it would be something that would be forced on Israel. They would have no choice in the matter—it would certainly not be something that Israel would agree to or enter into willingly. That being the case, they would be (and are) dead set against it. It would essentially be putting a gun to Israel's head and dividing their land against their will.
Isaiah refers to the covenant four times in this passage:
• "...We (Israel) have made a covenant with death..." (v. 15)
The Hebrew word translated as "covenant" is berith (covenant, agreement, alliance). And it wasn't forced on them; they made a covenant in the normal sense of the word.
• "...with hell we (Israel) are at agreement..." (v. 15)
The Hebrew word translated "agreement" is chozeh, which can mean "pact," but it can also refer to the prophetic advice of seers that was sought and followed when entering into a treaty to ensure an auspicious outcome. Again, nobody is forcing anything on anyone—they're in agreement.
• "...your (Israel's) covenant with death..." (v. 18)
Same as no. 1: berith. Nothing forced.
• "...your (Israel's) agreement with hell..." (v. 18)
Instead of chozeh as in v. 15, the word translated "agreement" here is chazuth, which also means "pact." Same deal—neither side is an unwilling party here. Nobody is having some prearranged deal crammed down their throat. Both sides have entered into an agreement in the usual manner.
So, every mention of this end-time covenant in Isaiah 28 indicates that it is a covenant in the normal sense of the word, where the parties negotiate and come to a formal agreement. There is no hint of anyone putting a gun to Israel's head, so to speak, and forcing them to accept some arrangement that they have not negotiated and that they are adamantly against.
Although Israel may be put under great pressure to make such a deal (and Obama's last-gasp treachery may make it more difficult), I still believe they will actually negotiate it, and these will no doubt be the mother of all negotiations. After decades of seeing round after frustrating round of "peace talks" collapse into smoldering piles of rubble, it will take the best negotiating skill the world has to offer to get this deal done.
It may take some real "art" to reach this deal, but a deal will be reached.
But it appears to me that a UN Security Council resolution that presumes to force a two-state solution down Israel's throat just doesn't square with the language of Isaiah 28.
A deal with the devil
While we're in Isaiah 28, there's one other detail I want to make mention of. Notice the dark, sinister manner in which Isaiah refers to this covenant that Israel has made: he calls it a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.
Death and hell. Ouch. Well, we know who Israel is going to negotiate this treaty with: those poor, oppressed Palestinians who just want to live alongside the Israelis in peace and security. Yeah, right.
You know, we've all seen numerous rounds of these so-called "peace talks" between Israel and the Palestinians begin with much fanfare and optimism, only to see them invariably crash and burn within months. And to say these talks are lopsided affairs is an understatement.
Israel has repeatedly made concessions and bent over backwards in order to accommodate the Palestinians, who apparently expect Israel to give in to their demands before negotiations can even begin. For example, in 2000, President Bill Clinton hosted talks at Camp David between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yassar Arafat.
Ehud Barak offered:
• A Palestinian state on all of the Gaza Strip and nearly all of the West Bank.
• Dismantlement of most Jewish settlements.
• East Jerusalem as a capital, plus sovereignty over half the Old City.
• Custodianship over the Temple Mount.
• Right of return for Palestinian refugees.
• International assistance in the settling of refugees.
In other words, he offered them the moon. And what did Ehud Barak ask for in return?
• An end to the violence.
• An "end of conflict" agreement (i.e., no more demands on Israel).
In other words, just stop trying to kill us and get on with your lives. And how did Yassar Arafat respond? Yassar Arafat turned his nose up at it and walked away, causing the talks to collapse. Then he unleashed a fresh round of violence against Israel to kill more Jews.
Same old story—it's never enough.
Now, if you're like many people, you may have wondered what the deal is with the Palestinians. Why is it seemingly impossible for them to negotiate with the Israelis? I mean, most people get that they hate the Jews and all that, but still—they seem utterly incapable of agreeing to anything.
Well, a look at the Palestinian Charter might help clear up a few things. The Palestinian Charter of 1968 (which is its current form) consists of 33 articles, and for your convenience and consideration I have included several choice articles below (shown in blue), along with a few comments (shown in red).
Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.
Article 3: The Palestinian Arab people possess the legal right to their homeland and have the right to determine their destiny after achieving the liberation of their country in accordance with their wishes and entirely of their own accord and will.
Translation: The Palestinians have the legal right to all of "Palestine," which, of course, includes all of Israel.
Article 4: The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from parents to children. The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership in the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them.
Translation: The Jews are occupying Palestinian land.
Article 7: That there is a Palestinian community and that it has material, spiritual, and historical connection with Palestine are indisputable facts. It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material, that is possible. He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.
Translation: We're not just a gaggle of Jordanian refugees, oh no. We have material, spiritual, and historic ties to this land—our land. Oh, and don't forget to teach your children to hate and kill Jews.
Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine...
Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution...
Translation: All these "peace talks" are a thinly-veiled ruse. We must destroy Israel and kill the Jews to "liberate" Palestine.
Article 15: ...The Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.
Translation: We expect other more powerful Arab countries to help us destroy Israel.
Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support.
Translation: The only way to have peace and religious freedom and to keep the Holy Land "holy" is to destroy Israel, and we look to other "spiritual" nations to help us do it.
Article 18: The liberation of Palestine, from an international point of view, is a defensive action necessitated by the demands of self-defense. Accordingly the Palestinian people, desirous as they are of the friendship of all people, look to freedom-loving, and peace-loving states for support in order to restore their legitimate rights in Palestine, to re-establish peace and security in the country, and to enable its people to exercise national sovereignty and freedom.
Translation: We have to defend ourselves by destroying Israel, and in this way we can show the world how friendly and peaceful we are—and we expect all freedom-loving people of the world to help us do it.
Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
Translation: Israel, as a Jewish nation, has no legal right to exist. Not only that, but unlike us Palestinians, the Jews have no historical or religious connections the land of Palestine whatsoever. "Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality"—oh, but being a "Palestinian" is, of course.
Article 21: The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.
Translation: Destroying Israel. There is no substitute.
Article 23: The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.
Translation: Israel must be delegitimized and destroyed for the good of all peace-loving people.
Article 29: The Palestinian people possess the fundamental and genuine legal right to liberate and retrieve their homeland. The Palestinian people determine their attitude toward all states and forces on the basis of the stands they adopt vis-a-vis to the Palestinian revolution to fulfill the aims of the Palestinian people.
Translation: We have the fundamental legal right to destroy Israel.
Article 33: This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose.
Translation: This gives us a slick way to promise naive Zionist world leaders that we'll remove or change "objectionable" articles, and then never actually change anything (which is precisely what Yassar Arafat promised Yitzhak Rabin he would do in 1993—and more than two decades later, not a single word has been changed).
Get it? The very document that defines the Palestinians as a people leaves no doubt in any one's mind about the following "facts":
• The entire land of "Palestine" (which includes all of Israel) rightfully and legally belongs to the Palestinian people, and must be liberated by the use of force from the Jews who illegally occupy it.
• Israel as a Jewish nation has no legal right to exist, and the Jews have no religious or historic connections to the land of Palestine whatsoever.
• The Palestinians expect all freedom-loving nations on earth (especially other Arab nations) to aid and assist them in their just and moral effort to destroy Israel and "liberate" Palestine from the clutches of the evil Zionists (i.e., "Jewish invaders" who are occupying their land, and, of course, the United States).
This is why the Palestinians cannot agree to anything. This is why their attitude could be expressed as "you must agree to everything we want, and then we'll 'negotiate' with you."
The Palestinian Charter makes it virtually impossible for them to take any other position. There is no room for compromise to be read between any of its lines. Even when Mahmoud Abbas agrees to so much as meet with an Israeli leader like Benjamin Netanyahu, he draws the ire of some of his fellow Palestinians, who accuse him of being a traitor to their cause.
The point I want to make, however, is this: When the time comes that Israel finally negotiates some kind of settlement with the Palestinians, and I feel reasonably certain they will because I am reasonably certain that such a deal will be the treaty of Daniel 9:27, Israel will be making a covenant with a group of people who are fundamentally and fanatically committed to their death and destruction.
If Israel negotiating a settlement with the Palestinians doesn't qualify as making a "covenant with death" and an "agreement with hell," then I sure wish someone would tell me what does.
That does it!
In addition to the fact that the language of Isaiah 28 appears to speak to a mutually agreed upon covenant in the normal sense of the word rather than something forced on Israel, another reason I honestly do not believe that the treaty that will establish a two-state solution will be something mandated by a UN Security Council resolution has to do with the overall prophetic context, and for more insight we turn to the prophet Joel:
1For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
2I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment on them there for my people, and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have divided my land.
(Joel 3:1–2 / emphasis added)
Joel is prophesying about the time of the Great Tribulation, when God will "restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem," or establish Israel's promised kingdom. He is also talking about executing judgment on the nations who have persecuted His people Israel.
Let's pause for a moment to establish a little context. When God gave Israel His law, He said if they obeyed Him and followed His ways, He would bless them. If they disobeyed Him and didn't follow His ways, He would curse them. They went through this cycle of obeying God and being blessed, then disobeying God and being cursed, and then obeying God again and being blessed again several times throughout the Old Testament; but when they finally rejected their Messiah and had Him executed two thousand years ago, it triggered the final major period of cursing. This final period of judgment kicked off in a big way in AD 70 when Jerusalem was sacked, the temple was destroyed, and the Jews were scattered all over the world in accordance with the terms of the covenant they had with God.
Of course, the Jews are and will always be God's people, and His ultimate goal is to bless them. To that end, He promised in His Word to regather them from the places where they would be scattered, and re-establish them in their land in a nation that would be called "Israel" and that Israel would be a prosperous, fruit-producing, Hebrew-speaking nation, and that they would be regathered in unbelief in their Messiah Jesus Christ.
Notice what triggers
this final outpouring
of God's wrath: "They
have divided my land."
Well, clearly God has been faithful and has performed His Word, and the purpose of this first phase of prophetic fulfillment of re-establishing them back in their land as a nation is to set the stage for both the final phase of their judgment and purging (the Great Tribulation) and their ultimate blessing and restoration (the Millennial Kingdom). From a practical standpoint, they need to be back in their land for both.
But as far as this final phase of their judgment is concerned, it's been nearly two thousand years—why doesn't God go ahead and get on with it?
What is God waiting for?
In Joel 3:2 above, notice what triggers this final outpouring of God's wrath: "They have divided my land." The nations of the world have divided the land God gave Israel—and from what we have already seen, it appears that Israel goes along with it and agrees to this division in their ultimately futile effort to achieve peace with those who seek to destroy her. This division God speaks of is nothing less than the implementation of the two-state solution, and I believe that's exactly what triggers this final round of God's judgment on His people Israel, not to mention the nations of the world.
Think of it. After all He has done for them—after all the promises to them He has faithfully kept. After bringing them back from the nations where they were scattered, after re-establishing them in their land once again, after prospering and blessing them. After all that, what do God's people do?
They divide the land God gave them with their sworn enemies—they make a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.
That's when God finally says, "That does it!" That's what tears it for God. This is what triggers the Tribulation—it will jump-start what will culminate in the final purging of Israel, the judgment of the nations who have persecuted her and divided her land, and finally the ushering in of Israel's long-awaited kingdom following the Messiah's physical return to earth.
But stop and think for a moment. If Israel were to be divided by the establishment of a two-state solution that was forced by a UN Security Council resolution, then I could certainly understand God's wrath toward the nations of the world. They put a gun to Israel's head and forced His people to divide their land against their will. But why would this provoke God's wrath toward Israel and cause Him to initiate the final (and most intense) phase of their judgment in the Great Tribulation?
If the UN puts that proverbial gun to Israel's head to divide their land and this division is something that is forced upon an unwilling Israel, then there is no obvious reason that God would suddenly be provoked to initiate the Tribulation to commence Israel's final purging.
It just doesn't seem to fit, in my humble opinion.
If, on the other hand, the Israelis willingly negotiate with people who seek to kill them and destroy their nation just so Israel can achieve a temporary false peace (because they still reject their real Messiah who will bring real peace), that would certainly provoke God to wrath. God gave them the land as an eternal inheritance, and they have no right to give it away or divide it, especially with a gang of murdering terrorists who seek only the total annihilation of Israel and the Jews.
So when they finally agree to divide their land, it'll be the last straw for God—and the sequence of events that will lead to their final purging in the Great Tribulation will be initiated.
It fits perfectly, in my humble opinion.
What about you-know-who?
One detail that is intimately connected with all this, of course, is the identity of you-know-who: the Antichrist. Note that when Daniel 9:27 says "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week," grammatically the "he" must refer back to the preceding male person mentioned in v. 26, or "the prince that shall come," which is the Antichrist.
Some people (typically preterists, who have gotten the myopic idea into their heads that the majority of end-time prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70) try with all their might to make this "he" refer to Jesus Christ, and I've read some tortuous but creative efforts to get there. My oh my...the lengths some people will go to when they reject the dispensational nature of God's revelation of His Word. Such people just take my breath away sometimes with their Scripture-twisting legerdemain.
All I can say is that if Jesus is the "he" in v. 27, then by the normal rules of grammar (which the Author of all Scripture always follows masterfully) Jesus is "the prince that shall come" in v. 26, and His people (uh...the Jews?) apparently destroyed their own city of Jerusalem and burned their own temple to the ground. Of course they did—it's all clear to me now.
Oh, and in that case, according to Roman historian Josephus who was at the scene, apparently 1.1 million Jews slaughtered themselves in the process.
OK, so much for the comic relief portion of the article...let's get back to the topic at hand.
Daniel 9:27 makes it clear that the man who enforces or implements the covenant to divide Israel and inaugurate the Tribulation will be the man who turns out to be the Antichrist. OK, so here's another $64,000 question:
Q. Just exactly who is going to enforce this treaty?
I'm going to tread lightly here since this question invites rank speculation, which is something I typically try to avoid in my articles (with the possible exception of this article, of course).
It is true that legions of Evangelical Christians are hailing Donald Trump as the savior of America, and viewing his improbable election victory as a rollback of the blanket of hyper-liberal elitism that has been smothering the nation for at least the last eight years under Barack Obama. It has also sent many Christians who have an active interest in Bible prophecy into a speculative frenzy. And not just Christians.
A number of top rabbis in Israel have come forward with Torah codes, gematria (considering the numeric values attached to letters in Hebrew names and words), and all manner of signs and whatnot that they claim indicate that Trump's election portends significant "messianic advancement," as the Jews call it. "Messianic advancement" is any event that the Jews interpret as bringing them a step closer to the arrival of their "messiah," who will be an impostor they receive in place of their real Messiah.
Although I want to emphasize that I give no credence whatsoever to any of this flaky "Torah code" business, I think it's worth noting for the simple reason that they do. I'm just saying—you can bet your bottom dollar there's a whole lotta messianic advancement goin' on in the opinions of highly revered religious leaders in Israel these days.
Donald "The Art of the Deal" Trump has stated that he would love to be the president who finally succeeds in helping Israel and the Palestinians reach a historic agreement on a two-state solution, something that has come to be widely viewed as essential to peace in the Middle East.
So, does that mean Trump is going to be the Antichrist?!
Relax. I doubt it, but I don't know—and neither does anyone else.
What is interesting, however, is the fact that Trump has publicly stated that he would prefer to play the role of a neutral party that tries to facilitate negotiations, rather than act as the prime negotiator. Along this line, Trump has revealed that he plans to have his son-in-law Jared Kushner (husband of daughter Ivanka) be the one to negotiate such an agreement. Kushner was raised as an Orthodox Jew in a wealthy, influential family in New Jersey (Ivanka has since converted to Judaism), and as a Jew he would presumably be better equipped to work with the Israelis.
It is worth noting that young Kushner has been widely credited with almost single-handedly getting his father-in-law elected to the presidency with his adroit, behind-the-scenes social media savvy.
So, does that mean Trump's son-in-law is going to be the Antichrist?!
Obviously, no one can (or should) say. Recall that Daniel 9:27 clearly says that the Antichrist will confirm—implement or enforce—the treaty, not just negotiate or sign it. That means that conceivably Jared Kushner (or anyone else, for that matter) could in fact succeed in reaching a settlement for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians as planned, and still not be you-know-who. Who knows if Trump's young, talented, but relatively unknown son-in-law would be able to acquire the international political clout needed to actually enforce such a monumental agreement.
A beastly address: Here's a little tidbit I stumbled across that just warmed the heart of my inner conspiracy theorist. According to Wikipedia, in 2007 Kushner's real estate company bought an office building in Manhattan, by far the young Kushner's biggest real estate purchase up to that time. It is located at 666 Fifth Avenue, and Kushner paid a record $1.8 billion (.6 + .6 + .6). Sorry, I couldn't help myself—I just had to throw that in.
It's little things like this that make me think God has a sense of humor.
I mention the issue of the Antichrist only in passing, since he is a legitimate piece of the puzzle. In reality, however, I just can't get all that worked up over speculation concerning the identity of the Antichrist because it has only marginal significance for the Church.
I frankly don't care who ultimately turns out to be Satan's man. To tell you the truth, I almost feel bad for people like post-tribbers, whose doctrinal wrong turns have led them to a position where they virtually have no choice but to play Pin the Tail on the Antichrist. Bottom line:
Don't waste your time looking for the man of sin.
Look for the man who redeemed us from sin!
That's the deal
Now, please understand—my primary point in this article is speculative in nature. It's just what makes the most sense to me based on my reading of Scripture, and so I'm not going to sit here and be vein-poppingly dogmatic about it.
It's always possible that the treaty that launches Daniel's 70th Week could be something completely different from the two-state solution in its current form. I just happen to think the two-state solution (in some form) is a good fit since Daniel's treaty apparently involves dividing Israel's...er, I mean God's land. On the other hand, who knows...maybe the UN Security Council will pass a resolution to force a two-state solution on Israel next week, and the Tribulation will kick off before college students head out for spring break. Hey, no complaints here.
One recent event that seems to have clouded the issue somewhat is the fact that Donald Trump has appointed David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. Friedman, who is Jewish, of course, has very negative views toward the two-state solution, effectively dismissing it as dead and gone. He agrees with the opinions of political pundits who think the two-state solution is a ship that sailed long ago, and there are those who are now talking about some kind of single, binational state instead (which may not actually be a bad idea on paper, except the Palestinians would line up single file and jump into the Mediterranean one by one before they would ever agree to it).
Of course, judging from the way things are going, I could turn out to be 100 percent wrong before I even get this article posted. For example, a few days ago the UN did indeed pass a Security Council resolution condemning the building of Israeli settlements on land they fought for and won back in the Six Day War:
"United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the adoption of a Security Council resolution which states that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, have 'no legal validity,' constitute a 'flagrant violation' under international law and are a 'major obstacle' to a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. […]
"The Council also urged for intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions..." (emphasis added)
— UN News Centre
December 23, 2016
What would be funny if it weren't so disgraceful is the fact that the resolution was secretly authored by the Obama administration, arranged to be "introduced" by Egypt, and then allowed to pass by America's prearranged abstention (I suppose actually voting in favor of the resolution would have required a few molecules of courage and honesty, but I digress).
Although in reality this resolution does little more than formalize and reiterate standing UN policy, it is being roundly (and rightly) condemned as nothing less than a vindictive, backstabbing coward (Obama) plunging a knife in the back of a trusted, reliable friend (Israel). Although some Bible prophecy people are playing this up in predictable "end of civilization as we know it" fashion, it's not quite that.
Although this resolution could certainly make future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians much more difficult (assuming it stands as is), there is a big difference between urging for the "intensification and acceleration" of efforts to reach a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians and coming right out and forcing a two-state solution down Israel's throat. In other words:
It may be a knife in the back, but it's not a gun to the head.
But now...now there are credible rumors that Obama is in fact planning to push yet another Security Council resolution through at the last minute—one that actually does lay down the parameters of a two-state solution. Even if he does (assuming Republicans don't put him in a straitjacket and lock him up in the White House basement first), I still stand by my comments in this article. At the end of the day, Israel and the Palestinians will still have to actually negotiate the agreement between them, "parameters" or no. I actually suspect such a resolution would either be worked around or ignored in much the same way Benjamin Netanyahu is going to ignore the resolution about settlements.
But whatever happens, if all this turns out in a way I didn't see coming, then oh well. If that's the case, I will happily admit I was wrong. In fact, I'm starting to look wronger with each passing day, but that's fine with me. If I am wrong, and the Obama administration does cram another Security Council resolution through that does divide Israel for real and does officially create a two-state solution that does circumvent any negotiations with Israel and does put a gun to Israel's head and says "Listen up, we're dividing your land whether you like it or not—that's the deal" and it does stand up after Obama leaves office, I'll tell you exactly what I'm going to do:
I'm going to jump three feet in the air and shout "Glory to Jesus!" because it means we could be outta here even sooner than I thought.
And that is definitely fine with me!
It's like I always say—every time you write about prophecy, always use a pencil...with an eraser. At any rate, you guys are all officially invited over to my mansion in heaven for a pizza party to celebrate my induction into the Spurious Speculators Club. (Casual attire—bring a gift.)
But I'm sticking to my guns. Until I am proven wrong, I will continue to believe that some type of negotiated deal is going to be made between Israel and the Palestinians that will divide Israel—and speaking of The Art of the Deal, this deal is liable to be a real showstopper. I don't know the details of what this deal might look like, but here is what I do know:
• The Church will be raptured.
• A deal to divide Israel will actually be implemented.
• The Tribulation will kick off.
• The Antichrist will continue to rise to power until he dominates the world.
• The Jews will be purged and a believing remnant will be saved.
• The nations of the world will be judged.
• Jesus Christ will return and establish the Millennial Kingdom.
These things are not subject to the opinions of political pundits—they are only subject to the will of a sovereign God.
The agreement for a two-state solution will require the ultimate negotiating skills, and is likely to be the deal to end all deals. Not only that, but because of the long history of dismal failures that have come before, it may take the world by surprise. Headlines around the world will trumpet the news.
But whatever the final form of that deal may be, it's nothing compared to the deal God made with mankind when He willingly sent His Son into the world to redeem us from sin. That deal required no less than the wisdom of God, and definitely took the world by surprise:
6We speak wisdom, however, among those who are full grown; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nothing. 7But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory, 8which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn't have crucified the Lord of glory.
(1 Corinthians 2:6–8 / emphasis added)
In reality, a UN Security Council resolution can actually be repealed, and in some cases they have been known to be essentially ignored by the affected parties. After all, the UN only has so much power over individual nations.
The deal for our redemption from sin and our reconciliation to God, however, is absolutely binding and can never be repealed.
This deal has already been negotiated between God the Father and God the Son. It has already been signed in blood—the blood Christ shed on the cross two thousand years ago.
But it's up to each one of us to implement it through faith.
That's the deal.
Greg Lauer / December 2016
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1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at Can Stock Photo
2. "Puzzle of Israel/Palestine Flags" © luzitanija at Fotolia.com
3. "It's a Deal"—derivative work based on 3a–3b:
3a. "Two Men in Suits Shaking Hands" © andy_gin at Fotolia.com
3b. "Israeli and Palestinian Flag Puzzle" © alexlmx at Fotolia.com
4. Deriv. of "The Deal" © Luis Louro at Fotolia.com
5. Deriv. of "Palestine Maps and Flag" © CssAndDesign at Fotolia.com
6. "Jared Kushner" © Lori Berkowitz [CC BY]
7. "Trump's Dream Transition"—derivative work based on 7a–7b:
7a. "Mad Man with Straitjacket" © Garrincha at Fotolia.com
7b. "Barack Obama" © Elizabeth Cromwell [CC BY-SA]
8. Deriv. of "Newspapers" © neirfy at Fotolia.com
(All CC-licensed works are via Wikimedia Commons.)
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).