The Conflict Over God's Appointed "Times & Seasons"

by Kevin R. Swift

June 26, 2012

In the book of Daniel, we discover two very interesting predictions about the final conflict of the ages. It involves God's "times and seasons" or the "set times and the laws" of Almighty God. While Daniel prophesies that our Creator has the ability to "change times and seasons," he also predicts the Man of Sin will, in contrast, attempt to "change the set times and the laws" of God. "Change" means "to make the form, nature, content, future course different from what it is; to transform or convert; to substitute; to exchange for something else; to become altered or modified."  Clearly, prophecy is asking us to pay attention to these details, and to consider the two opposing sides who are "changing" events, and what this means for the last-day saints. 

There are verses in the book of Daniel specifically connected to divine "secrets," which God promises to reveal to the wise and discerning at the appropriate time.  Let's look at them. Concerning God, Daniel writes (2:20-22): “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.  He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things" to those who seek wisdom and knowledge.  I'm reminded of a related promise in Daniel 12:9-12, where we are told the wise will understand two important timelines of Bible prophecy when last-day events are about to begin:  “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. “From the time that the daily [worship at the Western Wall/Temple Mount] abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up [on the Temple Mount], there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days."  The details have been hidden through the ages, but God is offer wisdom to the last-day saints. It involves His prophetic timelines, along with His plans to change His "times and seasons".  It also involves another personality on the end-time stage--an evil actor who opposes truth, and opposes God.  

Of this man--the Man of Sin (known also as Antichrist)--Daniel writes (7:25): "He will speak against the Most High and oppress His holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time," meaning, 3 1/2 years (1,260 days). It's very important that you understand the meaning of the "set times and the laws."  The New Living Translation says, "He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws"; and, the Wycliffe Bible says, "He shall think, that he can change the times for the feasts, and the laws." This points to the evil impostor as trying to change God's Festivals, and other Biblical laws found in God's Word.

Revelation 13:5-8 refers to this evil man and his deceptions:  "The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months [1,260 days]. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and Heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world."

So what have we learned so far?  On one hand, the Man of Sin (the Beast), a demonic human, will attempt (although unsuccessfully) to change what Scriptures call God's "set times and the laws," at a period when he will be persecuting the holy people for 1,260 days.  The fact is, although men have often tried through the ages to alter the Word of God to fit their own inventions and inclinations, no man (not even the pope) can change the declarations of Almighty God--whether the Sabbath, the Festival periods, or any other law of God. 

In contrast, God can and will change the "times and seasons" by His mighty power.  We know this by the fact that Daniel acknowledges and predicts a world, earth-altering event of global proportions (2:20-22) that will alter the Festival "times and seasons"--literally, the normal rotation of the spring, summer, fall and winter seasons on Planet Earth.  The question remains, how will Messiah accomplish this, and when?

The Sabbath and the Seven Festivals: Declaring the Past, Foretelling the Future

Long ago God established His "moedim" (meaning,"rehearsals"), referred to as His "set times" and also called "feasts", or seasonal Festivals, which He introduced to the Israelites about 3,400 years ago in Leviticus 23.  First, the weekly Sabbath ("These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord," verses 2-3).  Then follows in the chapter the seven festivals: Passover (Pesach), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah), the Feast of Firstfruits (Bikkurim) and the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot)--these four represent the springtime Festivals.  The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha-Shanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are celebrated in the autumn season.  These sanctuary Feasts have commemorated God's historical leading of His people for many centuries, but also, and at the same time, they foretell and predict events about the future.  Many centuries after they were established, Yeshua fulfilled the spring Festivals during the week of Passover and at Pentecost. Likewise, He is bound to complete the fall Festivals in His life and redemptive work.  Therefore, the autumn Festivals portray the unfolding of live events both in Heaven and on earth, and will be fulfilled by Messiah leading up to and during His Day of the LORD climax of human history. The annual Feasts offer the wise and discerning students of God's Word divine dates of end-time disaster and deliverance--the deep and hidden things that are in process of being revealed.

Paul also connected the "times and seasons" to the Day of the LORD--the coming of Jesus our Messiah and destruction of sinners--when he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6: "For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober."

Paul indicates that although sinners will not understand or acknowledge the times and seasons, those who are awake need not be in darkness that the Day should overtake God's people as a thief.  As sons of light, we are not left in darkness like the world. We are to be sober and wise, knowing the times.

So, this leads to another question. Why will the Man of Sin (Antichrist) attempt to change God's "set times and the laws"?  He likely will do so in an attempt to preempt Messiah's final redemption plan that is promised to be completed during the fall Festival season. He will do so by setting himself up in the Temple (on the Temple Mount); then, proclaim himself "GOD" incarnate.  Once the Man of Sin sets up the abomination, Messiah's visitation will surely come. Shrouded in darkness, the whole planet will quake at His fury, and the earth will be shaken off it's normal course so that even the "times and seasons" are altered--demonstrating God's supernatural power which Daniel wrote about long ago when he said God "changes times and seasons" (2:20-22).

Paul continued to advise the watching saints on the work of the evil one--the Man of Sin/Lawlessness--when he wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter —asserting that the Day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that Day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the Man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God."

Daniel wrote about that event (9:27): "He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven' [one literal 7 day week]. In the middle of the ‘seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple [Mount in Jerusalem] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him [Man of Sin]."

Jesus also warned the last-day saints living in the land of Israel, "So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again,"

The book of Revelation speaks of Messiah's response to the Man of Sin's abominable act--God's earth-moving event that changes the "times and seasons," when John wrote, "Out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city [Jerusalem] split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found," (Revelation 16:17-20). How massive of an earthquake would send islands into the sea and cause mountains to collapse?  The global quake Job wrote about long ago, when God "moves mountains... and overturns them in His anger. He shakes the earth from its place," (9:5-7) changing its orbit and position in the Milky Way Galaxy, and changing the seasons on the Day of Atonement--the Day of the Lord.

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This gives answer to the question, why does prophecy predict the Man of Sin attempts "to change the set times and the laws," of God (Daniel 7:25), while Daniel 2:21 proclaims of Almighty God--the Creator of heaven and earth, who created the universe and aligned the galaxies and planets--that He indeed "changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others."  Antichrist, thinking himself to be God, imagines that he can preempt the plan of redemption, and change God's set times--the Sabbath (from Saturday to Sunday) and the Festival celebrations--his attempt to change the sacred Festivals of Leviticus 23; however, even he understands his limitations.  He boasts of His power and blasphemes the Creator, but he cannot change the "seasons", which would mean control over nature itself--the earth, the sun, moon and stars. 

God is revealing the "deep and hidden things," just as He promised us long ago.  Messiah promised, "He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come," John 16:13He does not lie; God's promises are sure.

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