More speculation here.... Beware.
This post might be controversial. But I assure you, I welcome debate, so feel free to challenge what I say here.
Prophecy...Like the World Has Never Seen!
The Antichrist will arise out of a European empire composed of ten kings. He will subdue three of these kings in his rise to power. Ultimately, he will confirm a covenant with Israel for 7 years. Halfway into his seven year treaty with Israel, he will claim to be God in the temple in Jerusalem. This moment where he sets himself up as if he is God, is itself, the final and most important sign of Christ's return. (More on why I believe this HERE
As we know, the 10-nation military alliance in Europe gave up their alliance in favor of the larger EU. Furthermore, the EU, under Javier Solana, made a deal with Israel for 7 years. (MORE ON THIS HERE
Since a 7 year treaty between a European leader and Israel has been widely anticipated by theologians...it was a pretty big deal. This was the first 7 year treaty with Israel in history! And it came on the heels of a ten nation alliance in Europe as well. Surely, this was too unlikely to be completely meaningless.
The 10 nation alliance may have consolidated their alliance, with possible prophetic implications. But the 7-year deal with Israel came and went. The Hebrew is clear that the Antichrist will bring an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the seven (the word for middle is usually translated "half" in other verses).
Furthermore, Daniel 9:24 makes clear that Jesus must be King of the world and an end to sin in Israel by the termination of this period of 7.
Sadly the ENPI came and went....it was very discouraging.
MORE 7 Year Treaties
The EU now makes 7 year covenants with Israel on a cyclical basis. The first was in 2007-2013, called the ENPI. Therefore, we are coming up on another one in 2014-2020, called the ENI. This treaty is the means by which the EU provides bilateral aid to countries (including Israel!) in exchange for progress towards the goals the EU has for it . It's pretty clever actually. It's basically a form of bribery.
The first ENPI came and went. Much to my (and many others!) disappointment. Still feel it to this day. (Even though God has blessed me in the meantime).
Now, the EU just recently performed a funding ban on Judea and Samaria, that made a lot of big news. Under this new rule, on any future contracts that Israel has with the EU, they must admit that West Bank and East Jerusalem are not part of Israel. Obviously, no Israeli leader can sign this. And it could very seriously harm economic ties between the two.
Of course, this deal is also for 7 years.....
It seems, the EU uses this 7 year time frame as a basis for all of their deals with Israel....
So we went from 2000 years of NO 7 year treaty between EU and Israel AT ALL. But now, under 6 years, we have THREE seven year treaties.....
As my friend Nick said, "these 7 year covenants are getting annoying."
The Contents of the Covenant
So basically, the second round of the European Neighborhood Policy (2014-2020) IS a covenant with Israel and many nations for 7 years. But we already had one of those, and it didn't pan out (very frustrating).
So how are we supposed to know when the real one hits?!?!??!?!? After all, it's the only explicit end time countdown prophecy in the Bible.
Many theologians anticipated that the Antichrist would make a "peace treaty" between Israel and her neighbors for seven years. They suggested that the terms of this arrangement would allow Israel to resume sacrifices and rebuild the temple. According to their interpretation, the Antichrist would break his peace treaty with Israel halfway into the 7 year covenant, and idolize himself in the temple.
As we ENP watchers wisely noted, their are lots and lots of assumptions in this interpretation. Daniel 9:27 never mentions a peace treaty. Nor does it say that the Antichrist guarantees resumed temple worship. Daniel 9:27 doesn't even say what the covenant is. It only says that it is declared to be 7 years in length.
The Worthless Shepherd Deserts the Flock
Daniel 9:27 does not say the contents of the covenant.
However, the cross-references might have something to say about one aspect of the covenant. I think this is where the theologians got their ideas in the past.
Zechariah 11 talks about a Good Shepherd (Jesus) of Israel, and a "worthless shepherd" who "deserts the flock." This worthless shepherd is also wounded by the sword in the eye and the arm. (This reminds us of the mortal wound the beast receives from the sword). Most end time theologians believe that the "worthless shepherd" is the Antichrist. However, being a shepherd implies being responsible for the care of something or someone. Furthermore, it says he deserts the flock. This might imply he was supposed to watch out for them, but abandons them instead. This shows theme that the Antichrist was supposed to protect Israel, but he abandons them.
Isaiah 28 talks about a "covenant with death" that Israel makes. The passage strongly implies that this covenant is as worthless as trusting in lies. The passage seems to imply that Israel depends on this covenant for protection from an "overwhelming scourge." This seems to be a reference to armies. It also uses water and flood language, which is often used of end time armies. (Revelation 12) Here too, the theme of protection is found. Because of this treaty, they think they will be safe. But it turns out to be a worthless covenant.
Furthermore, Ezekiel 38/39 talks about a time when Israel is very unsuspecting and dwelling in safety, prior to a major invasion. This temporary safety could be the result of the Antichrist's treaty.
All of these implies that Israel relies on the Antichrist for security, or military protection, in some way. But instead, the Antichrist seems to go back on that covenant.
So how do we know which ENP covenant is the one? Perhaps the ENP is the framework by which the Antichrist will make his seven year treaty with Israel. EU has already started using this 7-year framework to impose a funding ban on the settlements in Israel.
What is more, the EU threatened more sanctions on Israel if they did not have successful peace talks with the Palestinians. The EU High Representative has already set in motion a plan to label all Israeli settlement products by end of 2013. They also promised stronger economic ties to both the PA and Israel if they succeed.
The Hebrew word for "confirm" or "firm" covenant in reference to Daniel 9:27 is a strong word. It means to cause to prevail, to make strong. This could mean the Antichrist forcefully imposes his border arrangements on Israel and Palestinians, in exchange for Israel's security. As we can see now, the EU is getting more forceful about the two state solution.
Here is another speculative scenario. As we know, the peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians are going to probably begin next week. Israel has said it is ready to make very large territorial concessions. Furthermore, the EU is already forcefully trying to encourage a deal. They did this with their 7 year funding ban on the settlements. Some commentators say that this funding ban helped Israel get back to negotiations.
What a perfect time to start peace talks....RIGHT BEFORE another 7 year deal with Israel begins?
The EU foreign ministers want a breakthrough, and want to make a significant contribution to the negotiations. As we know, the Antichrist starts off as a little horn, then grows to be bigger than them all. Perhaps one of these foreign ministers gets involved, and helps broker a deal. Then, he grows in influence over time.
Keep in mind, all of these events are taking place not before, but AFTER 10 nations consolidated their kingdom in the EU. All it would take for them to unite is an attack from outside... This is just like Daniel 11 seems to say. The Antichrist doesn't attack first, but does a massive counter attack, and ultimately lands in Israel....
I don't know about you, but I'm gonna keep an eye on these "peace" negotiations...