Most of us have seen the blast-off of a rocket on TV. We’ve heard the famous T-Minus countdown sequence – 188.8.131.52, “ignition sequence has started”, 2.1… “we have lift-off”. The engines burst with fire, the roar is deafening, and the power can be felt miles away as the rocket moves heavenward.
All conditions must be perfect before a launch can take place. The weather, onboard computer systems, propellants, seals, and hundreds of other details must all be right, or the launch will be placed on hold. When the T-Minus clock ticks to zero, everything is perfectly aligned.
As we watch the nightly news and consider the nations of the world, we can’t help but notice that certain prophetic alliances are coming into alignment too, making us ask the question, how much time is left on God’s countdown clock?
There seems to be evidence that suggests that we are very close to T-0. But what if I told you the Bible clearly teaches that God has already put a hold on the countdown clock? Daniel chapter nine is eye-opening because this amazing prophecy gives us a clear understanding of the prophetic timeline and reveals that the clock has indeed been stopped.
Daniel was forcibly taken from his home into Babylonian captivity. After many years, it was revealed to him that Israel would be in Babylonian captivity for a total of 70 years. He begins to pray in anticipation of the Jewish people being allowed to return to Jerusalem. He repents for his sins and the sins of his people, then he turns his prayer focus to ask God about the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the temple. It was painful for Daniel to think that they still lay in ruins. God answers Daniel by sending the angel Gabriel to give him one of the most astounding prophecies in all of scripture, referred to by Bible scholars as Daniel’s Seventy Weeks.
Not only does this prophecy give us a detailed starting and ending point to the return of Christ, but it also reveals the exciting fact that God has stopped the last-days countdown clock.
Here is what the angel Gabriel said:
Da 9:20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill– 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: 24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
Gabriel says it will be seventy sevens, or seventy weeks of years. This totals 490 years. It is obvious from the language, “put an end to sin” and “atone for wickedness, and bring in everlasting righteousness”, that what happens at the end of the 490 years is that Christ will return and set up His Millennial Kingdom.
The next verse tells us exactly when the 490 years, our T-Minus clock, will begin.
25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
So, the clock starts with the decree for the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild.
The prophecy then gives us 3 time designations. First, seven sevens or 49 years. This is the time it will take to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
Then, sixty-two sevens or 434 years. This is the time from the completion of the city and temple until Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem followed by His crucifixion.
These two total 483 years.
26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
Then, one last time-period of one week, or 7 years. This is referred to as Daniel’s Seventieth Week, or the Tribulation period.
When we come to this next verse the prophecy turns to the last-days appearance of the Antichrist. As the last seven-year period begins he confirms the Abrahamic covenant with the Jewish people giving them total control of the land, including the temple mount for 7 years. This brings peace and allows them to rebuild the temple and restart the sacrificial system of the Old Testament Law, but in the middle of the seven years, or 3 and half years into the agreement, he breaks the contract. He stops the sacrifices and declares himself to be god. (Compare Dan 9:27 to 2 Thes 2:3,4)
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
When we look at the historical timing of these prophesied events that have already occurred, and how amazingly accurate they are, it leaves us with confidence that the future events will also take place just as they are written.
There’s only one problem. It’s been a lot longer than 490 years since this prophecy was given to Daniel. When Christ was crucified, God stopped the clock at 483 years. We are on hold, awaiting the start of the last seven-year period.
We are in the time period referred to as the “time of the Gentiles”.
A time where God turns to those not of Hebrew lineage and invites all who will come, to come to Christ.
A time when the church takes the Gospel to the world and the kingdom of God is filled with a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language”.
Ro 11:25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
BUT THERE IS COMING A TIME WHEN GOD WILL START THE COUNTDOWN CLOCK AGAIN.
To understand this, let me go back to my comments about the countdown sequence of a rocket. As the engines fire and the rocket moves off the launch pad we hear the words, “we have lift-off”, but there’s another statement made just before that. It’s the statement, “we have launch commit”. Launch commit is the point of no return. It’s the point where the massive clamps holding the rocket are retracted, releasing the rocket for flight. At that point, it’s all or nothing – fly to the heavens or crash and burn!
The Bible shows us God’s point of “launch commit”. The exact point where the clock will start again starting the last 7 years and nothing will be able to stop the events that follow.
We find it in Revelation chapter 5. The Apostle John is weeping because there is a scroll that must be opened, but only by someone who is righteous and holy because what happens at the opening of the scroll is a series of judgments that will bring unparalleled wrath on an unbelieving world.
Re 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
When the scroll is opened by Christ, the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments begin to be released, the wrath of God is poured out and humanity rushes towards the completion of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks.
490 years will have elapsed and the clock ticks to zero – then the Millennial Kingdom begins.
BUT RIGHT NOW – WE ARE ON HOLD.
During our present time of a stopped countdown clock, should we just enjoy the timeout and relax?
Of course not – more than ever before, we should be praying, working, and sharing the gospel, because we don’t know when God will restart the clock.
Listen to the words of Jesus,
Joh 9:4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
If we call ourselves followers of Christ but do not work, pray, and share the Gospel so that others may come into the kingdom, we need to ask ourselves why not? As we see the state of the world, and the nations lining up, and know that God has stopped the clock so that we may work, why wouldn’t we now, more than ever, be fervent for the kingdom?
Let me leave you with this story.
When I was in eighth grade I was the quarterback on the football team. On one game-day I showed up with a bad attitude. My girlfriend had broken up with me that day and I was distracted and didn’t feel like being there. There was a guy at the game who was a year older than me. His name was Bob Screese, and I will never forget what he said to me.
He called me over and asked me what was wrong. When I told him, he said, “Rich those guys on that field are counting on you. You have no right to bring those things with you when you walk onto the field. Get your head in the game – and go out there and do your job”.
Great advice and I believe God is saying the same thing to us today. We all have reasons why we can’t do the things God has called us to do – but we have no right to bring any of it onto the field with us – let’s get our head in the game, and get our job done.