Daniel’s prophecy of end times (Daniel 11) was described to him as a time of trouble. The angel Gabriel told him, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). Some have interpreted the time of trouble to be the time when the first century church was persecuted by the Romans. The Hebrew term translated trouble, tsarah (tsaw – raw´) is also translated as tribulation. In Judges 10, the people of Israel cried to the LORD for deliverance from their enemies. His answer to them was that in spite of the many times he had delivered them in the past, “Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation” (Judges 10:13-14).

It appears that the time of trouble Gabriel was referring to was associated with the resurrection of the dead that is mentioned in Revelation 20:12. Daniel was told, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3). The term “great tribulation” is used in Revelation 7:14 where John, one of the apostles of Jesus said concerning the saints he saw wearing white robes, “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The great tribulation is thought to be “the period of final hostility prior to Christ’s return. Some hold that the beginning of this hostility was already being experienced by the church in John’s day” (note on Revelation 7:14).

Daniel’s final encounter with heavenly beings took place on the bank of a river where Daniel posed the question, how long will it be until this is all over? (Daniel 12:5-6). Jesus’ response to Daniel’s question is recorded in Daniel 12:7. It says, “And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” The period of “a time, times, and a half” are also used in Daniel 7:25 to refer to the time when the antichrist, or a world power sharing in the characteristics of the antichrist, will rule over the earth. This time of trouble or great tribulation is believed to be coming sometime in the near future. The only clue we have as to when exactly it will take place is given in Daniel 12:11, where it says, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days.”

Personal experience

Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams was useful in his godly ministry to the Babylonian and Persian kings, but it was his own personal experience with dreams and visions that made Daniel unique as a prophet. The last half of Daniel’s book was devoted to the unfolding of God’s plan to establish his eternal kingdom on earth. Daniel’s dream of four beasts (Daniel 7:3) showed that God’s power would be challenged, but remain supreme in spite of the continual onslaughts from kingdoms that wanted to wipe out his people. In his dream, Daniel saw, “the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another” (Daniel 7:2-3). This picture of beasts rising from the sea was intended to portray the establishment of Satan’s earthly kingdom, an inevitable occurrence of something that was not only predicted, but also prearranged by God.

It might be hard to imagine why God would want to help Satan establish his kingdom on earth, unless you understood God’s motive for doing so. God’s agreement with Satan was designed to allow him a prescribed amount of time to undo the work that Jesus did on the cross, so that it could be shown that Satan could not overcome his eternal kingdom. Without God’s kingdom being challenged, there would be no way of knowing if Jesus’ power was sufficient to reign supreme. The four beasts that came up from the sea represented four separate attempts that Satan would make to stop Jesus from saving the world. Three attempts were to be made prior to Jesus’ birth, but the final attempt would come after his kingdom was fully developed (Daniel 7:22). Essentially, the real threat to Jesus’ kingdom was that he would never be born or die on the cross, but once he did, Satan’s eternal fate was sealed.

Daniel’s dream was explained to him by an angel that stood by him as he peered into God’s heavenly realm. Daniel said, “I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things” (Daniel 7:16). The truth that Daniel sought was so troubling that he could barely process the information he was given. Focusing on the fourth beast, Daniel wanted to know how Satan’s kingdom would finally be brought to an end. The angel’s response is recorded in Daniel 7:23-26:

Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

Daniel learned through personal experience what many today still don’t understand about the end of time. As recorded in the book of Revelation, Satan’s dominion over the earth will last for only three and a half years, during which time the earth will be completely devastated and most of the population wiped out. Afterward, the devil will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where he will spend eternity (Revelation 20:10).

The Resurrection

In the midst of Isaiah’s description of God’s judgment of the world, was a bright spot that appeared as if it were a silver lining to the cloud of doom that hung over God’s people. Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah declared, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces” Isaiah 25:8). Isaiah portrayed the Messiah in that passage as both God and man. It was clear that Isaiah saw the Messiah as one who would arrive on the scene after God’s judgment was completed.

The belief that the Messiah would triumph over death may have been why his disciples were confused when Jesus said he would be crucified (Matthew 26:2). Jesus stated plainly that his victory over death would not come through avoidance of death, but through his resurrection (Luke 18:33). In spite of his explanation, Jesus’ followers were unaware of his impending resurrection at the time of his death (Luke 18:34). It wasn’t until the apostle Paul wrote about the transformation of believers that would occur when Christ returned, that the resurrection was finally understood (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

Isaiah’s depiction of the resurrection implied a separation between the lost and the saved. Referring to the enemies of God, Isaiah said, “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, the shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish” (Isaiah 26:14). The Hebrew word translated perish, ’âbad (aw – bad´) “represents the disappearance of someone or something. In its strongest sense the word means ‘to die or cease to exist'” (6).

In contrast to those whose memory would cease to exist, Isaiah said of God’s people, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Arise and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19). Isaiah spoke of dead bodies coming back to life. His reference to the earth casting out the dead implied a restoration to normal life (7496).

The context of the resurrection Isaiah depicted was what is now referred to as the great tribulation. It is possible that Isaiah was actually describing the event known as the rapture which is expected to occur immediately prior to the great tribulation. After stating that the earth would cast out the dead, Isaiah went on to say, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut the doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be over past. For behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity” (Isaiah 26:20-21).

An eternal kingdom

One thing that is evident about empires that have existed on the earth is that they have all been temporary. Although some have survived for hundreds of years, none have been permanent. The kingdom God promised to David’s descendants was to be an eternal kingdom. It says of David’s son in 2 Samuel 7:13, “He shall build a house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”

At first, this promise seemed to apply to king Solomon, but after his death, it became apparent that God would not be able to establish an eternal kingdom with a human king. The concept of a Messiah formulated over time and was clarified in Isaiah’s prophesy about Israel’s return to the Promised Land after their captivity. As a sign of God’s faithfulness, Isaiah stated, “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son , and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Isaiah spoke plainly about God’s judgment, but assured the people that God intended to keep his promise to establish an eternal kingdom on earth. It says in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to stablish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

The timing of Israel’s captivity was important because the Assyrian empire that existed from 916 – 612 B.C. was the first empire comparable to Rome in organization. The Assyrian policy under king Tiglath-pileser was to reduce the whole civilized world into a single empire. God used the king of Assyria to execute judgment on Israel because Isaiah declared “every one is a hypocrite and an evildoer” (Isaiah 9:17).

In spite of God’s indignation toward his people, he didn’t want to destroy them completely. Isaiah indicated that a remnant would be saved and “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (Isaiah 10:21). The use of the Messianic title “The mighty God” made it clear that God’s plan would be carried out as a result of the people returning to the Promised Land.

In one sense, Assyrian captivity was preparation for survival under the Roman government. When Isaiah said about the Messiah, “the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6), he was referring to the burden of foreign rule. Even though the Assyrian empire self-destructed in 612 B.C., other empires would rise and fall, and God’s people were intended to survive them all.


God’s government system operates in such a way that once a verdict has been rendered it cannot be appealed or pardoned. The sentence must be carried out. There were two situations in king Ahab’s life where judgments were pronounced against him. The first was when he made a covenant with Ben-hadad, king of Syria (1 Kings 20:34) and the second was when he stole Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:16).

The second message of judgment was delivered to Ahab by Elijah. “And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD, behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel…And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel” (1 Kings 21:20-21, 23).

After hearing God’s judgment against him, Ahab repented (1 Kings 21:27), so God delayed his punishment until after Ahab was dead (1 Kings 21:29). It wasn’t until 15 years later, during the reign of Joram the son of Ahab, that Jehu was anointed to be king of Israel and God’s judgment was carried out (2 Kings 9:8). As Jehu road in a chariot toward Joram’s castle, a watchman saw him and told Joram he was coming. “And Joram said, Take a horseman and send to meet him, and let him say, Is it peace?” (2 Kings 9:17).

Joram was unaware of the purpose of Jehu’s visit. As soon as Jehu was anointed to be king, he rode in a chariot 45 miles to Jezreel where Joram was (2 Kings 9:16) in order to surprise him. If Joram knew what Jehu intended to do, he could have protected himself and foiled Jehu’s plan. As it was, Joram ended up right where Jehu wanted him. “And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out each in his chariot, and they went against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite” (2 Kings 9:21).

With one shot, Jehu killed Joram and his body was thrown into the field that Ahab had stolen from Naboth. Then, Jehu went to the apartment where Jezebel was staying. “And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master? And he lift  up his face to the window, and said, who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot” (2 Kings 9:33).

The future

During Elisha’s ministry, the focus of God’s plan for the Israelites shifted from their past and present to their future. God used Elisha to manage the transition. Elisha’s reputation became a vehicle for him to minister to leaders inside and outside of Israel. Because people began to believe in God again, Elisha was able to direct everyone’s attention toward the change that was about to take place.

Israel’s relationship with Syria had become more and more of a problem as they fell into idolatry. King Ahab’s covenant with Ben-hadad had done little to ward off attacks. Ben-hadad II was not as ruthless as his father, but was still determined to keep the Israelites from breaking free from his control. In order to starve them to death, “Ben-hadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria” (2 Kings 6:24).

The word translated besieged, tswur (tsoor) means to cramp or confine (6696). Basically, what Ben-hadad did was surround Samaria with his army so the people couldn’t go out and get food. Eventually, the situation got so bad, “an ass’s head sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver” (2 Kings 6:25).

“Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1). Elisha’s prediction indicated that the situation would be turned around overnight. For the most part, people were used to seeing Elisha perform miracles, but the dramatic change he described was beyond people’s comprehension.

“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? (2 Kings 7:2). What he was referring to was God’s blessing flowing freely to his people. The people  of Israel were so steeped in sin that it was unimaginable that God would suddenly make everything right.

What the people of Israel still didn’t seem to understand was that God’s blessing wasn’t dependent on them being good. God didn’t bless the Israelites because they were good people. God blessed the Israelites because they were his people. “And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken” (2 Kings 7:18).

The Israelites unbelief was the real reason God kept punishing them. In spite of continual demonstrations of his miraculous power, the people of Israel would not give up their idolatry and worship God. Finally, God brought judgment on the people of Israel through Ben-hadad’s successor, Hazael. After seeing a vision of what Hazael would do to Israel, Elisha wept.

And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip  up their women with child. (2 Kings 8:12)

Divine Intervention

King Ahab’s son Ahaziah did not pretend to be a follower of God. In fact, he was blatant in his pagan worship. When he became seriously ill, he sent messengers to “inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron” (2 Kings 1:2). The word translated inquire, darash suggests that Ahaziah worshipped Baal-zebub (1875) and may have offered sacrifices to the god of the Ekronites.

Ahaziah’s role as king of Israel required him to submit to the LORD and to execute God’s will for his people. Ahaziah had usurped God’s authority and was guilty of violating God’s commandments. Whereas king Ahab’s heart was divided between God and Baal, Ahaziah had no allegiance to God whatsoever.

While Ahaziah’s messengers were traveling to Ekron, God sent Elijah to intercept them. As instructed, Elijah told them, “Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shall surely die” (2 Kings 1:4). When the messengers returned and gave Ahaziah the bad news, he sent 50 soldiers to capture Elijah and kill him (2 Kings 1:9).

King Ahaziah thought he could annul God’s word by killing his prophet. Ahaziah was so steeped in the ways of pagan worship, that he was oblivious to God’s control over his life. Not only did God have the power to remove Ahaziah from his office, but God had the right to punish Ahaziah for his idolatry. The problem with Ahaziah’s way of thinking was he placed himself above God. Ahaziah actually thought he could subject God to his will and could overcome his illness with the help of Baal-zebub.

After three attempts to capture and kill Elijah, king Ahaziah was confronted with the truth:

And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. (2 Kings 1:16)

“So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken” (2 Kings 1:17).

Not chosen

The prophecy about Edom recorded in the book of Obadiah was a result of the nation’s rebellion against Judah (2 Kings 8:20). Edom, also known as Esau, was the older twin brother of Jacob who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:32-33). Esau was predestined to serve his younger brother, and yet, he refused to accept his position. The struggle between the two brothers was manifested in hostility between their two nations, and after Israel went into captivity, Edom sought to take advantage of Judah’s misfortune.

Edom made the mistake of aligning itself with the world powers hostile to God and his kingdom. Therefore, the nation was doomed to destruction. Instead of defending their brother nation, Edom joined a confederacy that stood against Israel and made a pact to support their enemies. It says in Obadiah verse 10, “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever.”

Like a gambler that makes a wager against his own team, Edom showed no loyalty to God’s chosen people, but rather reveled in the thought that they would be beaten by their enemies. Since a time had already been set for his people to be justified, God made it clear to the nation of Edom that they had chosen the wrong side. “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee; thy reward shall return upon thine own head” (Obadiah 15).

While the foreign nations may have been able to claim ignorance about God’s plan for the nation of Israel, Edom could not. As descendants of Abraham, the people of Edom were aware of the promise God made to bless his chosen people. Jealousy and envy caused Edom to resent the choice God made. The nation, like their forefather Esau, could not get over the fact that God was in control and he would decide their fate. “And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it” (Obadiah 18).

Edom could have been saved if they would have continued to serve Judah. It was because they broke away and became hostile to Israel that they were condemned. The problem was that Edom wasn’t interested in God’s mercy. God’s plan for Israel included salvation for the gentiles. The only requirement was that they had to submit to God and do things his way, but Edom would not. “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s” (Obadiah 21).

Tell me the truth

The story of Ahab’s death provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of God’s heavenly kingdom. The prophet Micaiah in explaining why he didn’t tell Ahab the truth about what was going to happen to him, describes a scene in heaven in which a spirit is charged with enticing Ahab to go to battle against Syria.

Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him wherewith? And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt prevail: go out, and do even so.

Micaiah’s description of heaven indicates that all the host of heaven was standing before the LORD as he sat upon his throne. This picture of divine judgment shows that God, as ruler of the universe, is in charge of all spiritual activity. All spirits report to him, including Satan (Job 1:6). Therefore, the lying spirit was accomplishing God’s will when he told Ahab’s prophets to say “Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand” (2 Chronicles 18:5).

Ahab was upset when Micaiah told him the truth. It says in 2 Chronicles 18:17 that “the king of Isreal said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophecy good to me, but evil?” Ahab thought the message was good from his prophets because they said he would win the battle and the message from Micaiah was evil because he said Ahab would lose. What was actually important was that Ahab knew the truth, so he could make a good decision.

I don’t think Ahab understood the purpose of the message Micaiah gave him. It was meant to be a warning, a glimpse into the future so that Ahab could avoid disaster. Instead, Ahab chose to ignore Micaiah’s prophecy and attacked Syria anyway. Ahab thought he could achieve a different outcome, that he could make the false prophecy come true (2 Chronicles 18:26), but he was killed just as Micaiah prophesied.

Gift of grace

Elijah, the prophet, arrived on the scene at a time when the northern kingdom of Israel and Judah were at opposite extremes in their obedience to God. In the north, king Ahab had formally instituted Baal worship (1 Kings 16:32), but in the south, Jehoshaphat had removed the high places and groves out of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:6) that were being used for pagan worship. The initiation of Elijah’s ministry was linked to the rebuilding of Jericho. “This violated God’s intentions that the ruins of Jericho (Josh 6:26) be a perpetual reminder that Israel had received the land of Canaan from God’s hand as a gift of grace” (note on 1 Kings 16:34).

Elijah’s first act was to confront king Ahab with the reality that God was alive and well and still in control of his kingdom. “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (1 Kings 17:1). The drought which lasted three and a half years (Luke 4:25) was a sign of God’s sovereignty over his creation and an indicator of the powerlessness of Baal and all other false gods to control nature.

Elijah’s primary credential as a man of God was his ability to perform miracles. Much like Moses, Elijah got the attention of the people by showing them there was no limit to God’s power. Even in the worst of circumstances, God was able to protect and sustain those whom he chose to and without his help, the Israelites would have perished. In order to make this clear, the LORD chose to sustain a widow who took care of Elijah during the famine. The widow and her son had no means of support and were about to die when Elijah arrived at their home (1 Kings 17:12). In spite of her lack of resources, the widow’s household, including Elijah, survived the famine (1 Kings 17:16).

The interesting thing about the widow who took Elijah into her home was she was not an Israelite. She was a citizen of the kingdom ruled by Jezebel’s father, Ethbaal of Tyre and Sidon (Luke 4:26). Jesus’ explanation of why this woman was helped makes it clear that it was not because God had compassion on her, but because she had faith, she was a believer (Luke 4:25-26). Her survival of the famine was a testimony of God’s grace to all believers.