Exposition of Daniel 12:1-13 Yahweh delivers the righteous, both living and dead

Daniel 12:1-13

1 At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?

7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.

8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?

9 He replied, Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 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.

11 From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

13 As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.

Recall that Daniel was an old man by the time he received this vision. He had faithfully served God, and, as we saw in his prayer in Daniel 9, he was deeply concerned about the fate of his people. In that prayer he hadnt made excuses for their disobedience, but instead asked for mercy. He knew the Scriptures, and so he understood the promises God had made to Abraham, Moses and David. Daniel was standing firm because he trusted in the character of Yahweh. Because Yahweh keeps his Word, deliverance will eventually come for those who truly worship God.

The paragraph break for chapter 12 is unfortunate, because the angels vision of the future continues through Daniel 12:4. Further, verse 1 can be wrongly understood to refer to a point in time such as the moment that the Antichrist reaches his end (verse 45), but that is not correct. Wood translates During that time Michael … will stand up in order to make clear that Michael was fighting all during the tribulation for those under his care, the Jewish people.[1] Miller agrees that the time reference includes verses Dan. 11:36-45.[2] That difference in time will be vital to those involved.

The horrors of this period are called distress (Dan. 12:1), but need and helplessness bring out some other aspects of the final set of seven years that complete the enhanced punishment. When Jesus declared this time to be the greatest suffering in the entire history of Israel (Matt. 24:21), he was undoubtedly thinking of this verse. Only those inscribed in the Yahwehs book will be delivered. As Paul tells the Romans, A person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code (Rom. 2:29). Merely being a Jew will not ensure deliverance!

Verse 2 is an astounding statement by the angelic messenger, who proclaims both the resurrection of the dead and everlasting punishment or reward for those who are raised. Here again we see the frequent biblical metaphor of sleep in relation to those who are physically dead (John 11:11-14). Multitudes will wake to enter everlasting life, the Old Testament counterpart to the eternal life mentioned in such New Testament verses as John 3:16. This verse stands in complete refutation of those whether atheists or adherents of naturalism who say that at death we simply cease to exist.

However, many others will wake to enter everlasting abhorrence,[3] a Hebrew word used only here and in Isaiah 66:24. Miller explains the gravity of this state by saying: Isaiahs use of the term appears to explain the significance of the expression in Dan. 12:2. So shocking will be the fate of the lost that onlookers must turn their faces away in horror (or disgust).[4] The cost for clinging to rebellion against Yahweh is not only high, it lasts forever!

Verse 3 has an unusual verb that deserves attention. The phrase those who lead many to righteousness is based on a verb that is also used to describe the Messiah in Isa. 53:11b, which says: by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. This beautiful Messianic prophecy says that Jesus will justify many by using his knowledge, or insight, to point them toward righteousness. Daniel 12:3 says that we can and should do the same thing! The part only Jesus can do is he will bear their iniquities (Isa. 53:11b) which is what he did for us all at the cross.

NIV does an exceptional job with verse 4. So does Miller when he explains what the angel wants done with the scroll:

In the ancient Near East the custom was to seal an important document by impressing upon it the identifying marks of the parties involved and the recording scribe. A sealed text was not to be tampered with or changed. Then the original document was duplicated and placed (closed up) in a safe place where it could be preserved.[5]

The angel knows that those enduring the events at the end will make an anxious and desperate search for both the prophecy and its interpretation, just as Nebuchadnezzar (chapter 2), Belshazzar (chapter 5) and Daniel (chapter 9) had done when confronted with events that urgently required a word from heaven. That is the meaning of verse 4b. May God grant them the understanding they need in that day!

Final instructions

At this time Daniel suddenly finds that angels stand on either side of the Tigris, and one has a question for the man clothed in linen (verse 6) who stands above the waters of the river: How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled? (verse 6b). Miller notes: The fact that this knowledge is requested from the man in white suggests his superiority over the angels. … The angels question indicates that he was curious about these future events. It is interesting to observe there are things that even angels do not know but desire to learn (cf., 1 Pet. 1:12).[6]

The angels question to Christ as Miller[7] correctly identifies him brings an amazing response: an oath is made by Christ concerning the answer (verse 7). Why does the answer come with an oath? A divine oath makes the following prophetic declaration unalterable.[8] What is that declaration? It is that three and a half years will be required for the Antichrist to break the power of the Jews. That time will bring an end to the rebellion of the Jews against God (Dan. 9:24) and end the seventieth seven-of-years.

Ever curious, Daniel asks, What will happen after these things? (verse 8b NET). We all wish that question had been answered! Yet, some cryptic yet important revelations remain. Not so cryptic is the statement that while some will be refined, others will continue their wickedness (verse 10a; see Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9, 11).

Difficult is the unraveling of the various time periods: 1260 days, 1290 days, and 1335 days. Since we already know that the last half of the seventieth seven-of-years lasts 3 and a half years (42 months of 30 days each = 1260 days), the difficulty lies in figuring out the other two numbers. We accept Woods suggestion: A clue to as to [the additional 30 days that result in the total 1290 days] is found in Matthew 25:31-46, which describes a time of judgment by Christ immediately after he comes in power . … The purpose of the judgment is to determine those who will be permitted to enter into and enjoy the blessedness of the millennial period.[9] The millennial period is a period of 1,000 years during which Christ rules on the earth as king (Rev. 20:2-3).

What then of the 1335 days (verse 12)? Miller suggests: It has been reasonably suggested that this date is the official inauguration of the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth. Wood thinks the additional forty-five days are needed to set up the millennial government.[10]

In the final verse of the book, the promised resurrection is applied personally to Daniel (verse 13). It is our opinion that Daniel will rise to be posted as an administrator in the world-spanning government of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 19:17, 26a) during the millennium.

As for us, may we be faithful servants until we too join with Jesus who said, I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers kingdom (Matthew 26:29). Amen.

Copyright 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Wood, Daniel, 315.

[2] Miller, Daniel, 313.

[3] HALOT, deraon, abhorrence, q.v.

[4] Miller, Daniel, 317.

[5] Miller, Daniel, 320.

[6] Miller, Daniel, 3223.

[7] Miller, Daniel, 323.

[8] Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Does God Change His Mind?, Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (OctoberDecember 1995), 38799.

[9] Wood, Daniel, 328.

[10] Miller, Daniel, 326.

Exposition of Daniel 11:36-45 The Antichrist seeks total control

Daniel 11:36-45

36 The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.

40 At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. 42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission. 44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

As has happened with every vision in Daniel, the angels prophecy leaps ahead without warning to the seventieth seven-of-years and its cunning, proud, powerful, Satan-inspired ruler. We recall that this entire prophecy came in response to Daniels prayer about the Jews and the desolation of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:24). The story is not directly about us, but it is not impossible that some of us may live to see this day, and our Lord has commanded all of us to be ready for his unexpected return (Matt. 24:44).

Many things can be said about why verses 3645 do not apply the Antiochus IV. For full discussion of those reasons, see Chisholm[1], Wood[2] and Miller.[3] Here, let it suffice to say that the resurrection of the righteous occurs right after God brings the rule of the evil king described in this passage to an end (Dan. 12:2). As Wood notes, Since the Antichrist has been presented in the three prior revelational times of Daniel, one should not be surprised to have him set forth in this fourth time as well.[4]

Miller explains the structure of this section: Now the most notorious tyrant who will ever live is introduced into the narrative. First, Antichrists evil character is related (11:36-39); then his wars are described (11:40-45).[5] Though any comparison of any modern figure to the Antichrist will fail to match his evil actions, Adolph Hitler probably gives the best hint of what the Antichrist will be like because of the twin goals of conquering the world and exterminating the Jews.

You might say that the Antichrist takes everything Antiochus IV did and scales those things up. Antiochus stamped his coins god manifest, meaning he was a god or like a god. The Antichrist will exalt and magnify himself above every god (verse 36). The verbal forms make clear that he will do this personally; it will not exclusively be done by having others praise him. To properly exalt himself, he must cut down rivals, and he will do so by speaking against Yahweh with: unheard-of things (NIV), presumptuous things (NET), outrageous things (HCSB). No one has ever heard the monstrous blasphemies that the Antichrist will use against the God of gods (verse 36).

Remember that in all these things God is showing his people where their rebellion has led them. Whether knowingly or not, they have aspired to be princes in hell, and he will show them the true face of what they will find there. As horrible as this process will be, it will finish transgression (Dan. 9:24), the rebellion of Abrahams children against Yahweh and his Messiah. Accordingly, the Antichrist will be successful until the time of wrath is completed (verse 36b). The seventieth seven-of-years is like Belshazzars feast (Daniel 5) in that the Antichrist will have his way until the party comes to an abrupt, crushing end.

While directing the devotion of all toward himself, the Antichrist himself will worship military power (a god of fortresses), apparently in hope of subjugating those parts of the world not yet under his control (verse 39). Miller says: The peoples of the world will be so impressed by his might that they will say: Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? (Rev. 13:4).[6]

Certain world powers will see what is coming and fight! The terms king of the South and king of the North describe two such opponents, with the directions North and South being defined in relation to Israel (the Beautiful Land of verse 41). It is unclear just who these kings will be, but we take the king of the North to be the person called Gog in Ezekiel 38:2, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, kingdoms located (during Daniels and Ezekiels time) in the area of modern Turkey.[7] In taking this view, we follow the outline of events defined by Bible scholar Dwight Pentecost[8], who takes this combined northern invasion and southern attack (verse 40) as the trigger-events forcing the Antichrist to break his covenant with Israel (Dan. 9:27) and invade Israel himself (verse 41).

Yahweh will tear apart the invading king of the North, Gog, and his allies, in a terrifying display of might (Ezek. 38:18-23) that lets many nations clearly see his power and identity. The Antichrist will then invade Israel and also seize territory toward the south, into Egypt and beyond (verses 41-43).

In spite of his victories, the Antichrist will face new threats from the east and north described in verse 44. In response, the Antichrist will set up his headquarters between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain (verse 45). The seas in question are the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, with the beautiful holy mountain being Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Wood explains somberly, According to Zechariah 13:8-9, he will by this time have brought either death or captivity to two-thirds of the inhabitants of the land, indicating an appalling destruction.[9]

Given the nature of these events, the angels mention of the Antichrists end is very restrained (verse 45b). Centuries will pass before another angel reveals to the Apostle John the sudden opening of another front in the great campaign of Armageddon when heaven opens (Rev. 19:11) and the stunning splendor of the King of kings and Lord of lords rides forth at the head of heavens armies to stomp the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful (Rev. 19:15b NET). The so-called battle likely takes just seconds as the Antichrist is hurled alive into the lake of fire and the gathered kings and armies are slain by a word from Jesus the Messiah (Rev. 19:19-21).

Truly I am God, I have no peer;

I am God, and there is none like me,

who announces the end from the beginning

and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred,

who says, My plan will be realized,

I will accomplish what I desire,

Isaiah 46:9b-10 NET

Copyright 201 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. D5erived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets, 324-5.

[2] Wood, Daniel, 304-5.

[3] Miller, Daniel, 305-6.

[4] Wood, Daniel, 305.

[5] Miller, Daniel, 306.

[6] Miller, Daniel, 308.

[7] Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 2548, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998) 436.

[8] Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964) 356.

[9] Wood, Daniel, 314.

Exposition of Daniel 11:29-35 Daniel’s final vision — Part 2

Daniel 11: 29-35

29 At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

33 Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 34 When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. 35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

We have been studying the amazingly accurate prophecy that the angel is sharing with Daniel regarding the future of Israel. Although by this time the Jews were being allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, the vision Daniel is receiving indicates that there will not be an end to conflict for some time. In fact, things will eventually get much worse.

Once again, the Bible passage will be divided into sections so that it will be easier to understand the commentary that follows. Recall that we left off with the introduction of a mighty, but contemptible king who persecutes the Jews.

The further desolation caused by Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Though Antiochus brought back great plunder from his first invasion of Egypt (verse 28) in 169 B.C., things did not go so well in his return invasion in 168 B.C. (verse 29). This time a Roman fleet came to support the Ptolemies at Alexandria and sent him into a frightened retreat (verse 30a). Upon returning from the invasion attempt, the deeply humiliated Antiochus took out his anger (verse 30b) on the holy covenant (the Law of Moses).

Antiochus soon banned all forms of Jewish religious observance including circumcision, possessing the Scriptures, sacrifices and feast days; the penalty for violation was death.[1] Miller adds, Desecration of the Jewish religion reached its climax on 15 Chislev (December) 167 B.C. when an altar or idol-statue devoted to Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was erected in the temple.[2] It is probable that swine were also sacrificed there, an abomination to the Jews.

While some Jews (those who violated the covenant) participated in the Greek religion of their oppressor, others (the people who know their God) joined the armed rebellion led by the sons of a priest named Mattathias, a force called the Maccabees (verse 32). The Maccabees fought using guerrilla warfare tactics, won many encounters, and eventually rededicated the temple in December, 164 B.C. Verses 33-35 describe the sorting of loyalties, for or against God, that took place during this terrible time. But God brought down Antiochus IV at the time of his choosing. Chapter 9 of 2 Maccabees describes a horrible death for Antiochus in 163 B.C.

Aside from showing Gods power to dictate events centuries beforehand, verses 29-35 likely show how Jews suffering under the terrible Antichrist-to-come will react. They also reveal an idea of how the Antichrist will again desolate Jerusalem, desecrating it near the end. But he, too, will not prevail.

Copyright 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Miller, Daniel, 301, citing 1 Maccabees 1:50, 63.

[2] Miller, Daniel, 301, citing 1 Maccabees 1:54, 59.

Exposition of Daniel 11:2-28  Daniel’s final vision – Part 1

The idea of time travel can produce some intriguing science fiction. Storytellers love to speculate on what would happen if a person from the past somehow arrived to the future. How would they react to the way the world had changed. If they were to take what they learned from experiencing the future back to the past, how would they use it? How could a glimpse into the future affect the present? The prophecies recorded in the Bible give us a glimpse into the future. We can know the trajectory that the world is on, and that enables us to live in light of that future.

In the next few posts, we will study Daniel’s final recorded vision, and some of what is recorded there is now part of our past, but, within the prophecy, there are future events still on our horizon. What will we do with the knowledge of what is to come, and how will we use it to affect our present?

This is a good time to really consider all that God has shown us in this amazing book. If you haven’t already done so, prayerfully consider how this understanding changes the way you think about the world and how you live in it.

God’s Word is trustworthy. As we will see when we explore the beginning of Daniel’s vision, the events that the angel foretold have come to pass with astonishing accuracy. In fact, these visions are so accurate that some have suggested that they must have been written after the events happened. But we worship a Big God, who holds the future in his hand and can choose to tell us as much or as little of what will come as he desires. He has chosen to give Daniel and the Jewish people a warning so they will know what’s coming. It could not have been easy to hear.

 Expected events until Alexander’s empire is divided (verses 2-4)

 2 “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. 4 After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.”

The angel begins his long revelation of what is going to happen by saying that four Persian kings would follow Cyrus, and the fourth would have vast wealth. Scholars are agreed that this fourth king is Xerxes I (486-465 B.C.), whose successful invasion of Greece stirred the desire among the Greeks for vengeance and plunder. The Hebrew text of verse 2 is better understood to mean Xerxes “will arouse everyone, that is, the kingdom of Greece” (NET Bible Notes; CEB and Collins[1] agree).

There is also a consensus that Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) is the “mighty king” (verse 3) who leads the Greek retaliation only to have his kingdom fall into four pieces at his death (verse 4). The angel has no interest in two of those four kingdoms, but he next describes the coming development of the two kingdoms who will bracket Palestine geographically.

 Expected developments in Egypt and Syria (verses 5-20)

Miller explains one purpose of this section: “Verses 5-20 comprise a history of the ongoing conflicts between two divisions of the Greek Empire, the Ptolemaic (Egyptian) and the Seleucid (Syrian), from the death of Alexander (323 B.C.) until the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175163 B.C.).”[2] Both of these groups took turns dominating Palestine, and both mistreated the Jews.

Obviously, the angel does not provide names of these future kingdoms or their rulers; such names would have meant nothing to Daniel. But, the angel provides Daniel with so many details that historians have been able to easily reconstruct who was involved in the prophecies based on ancient historical records. Chisholm[3] presents the following table:

Verse King of the South (Ptolemaic) King of the North (Seleucid)
5 Ptolemy I (322-285 B.C.) Seleucus I (312-280 B.C.)
6 Ptolemy II (285-246) Antiochus II (262-246)
7–9 Ptolemy III (246-221) Seleucus II (246-226)
10 Seleucus III (226-223)

Antiochus III (223-127)

11-19 Antiochus III (223-127)
(11-12) Ptolemy IV (221-203) Antiochus III (223-127)
(14-17) Ptolemy V (203-180) Antiochus III (223-127)
20 Seleucus IV (187-175)

A full discussion of verses 5-20 is presented by Miller[4] and Wood[5].

We recall that Daniel received the vision and the angelic prophecies in 536/535 B.C., the third year of Cyrus king of Persia (Dan. 10:1). Thus, in this group of prophecies alone, the predictions span 360 years. Only God is capable of revealing such future events and bringing them to pass. The Bible consistently demonstrates that God is the master of human history and intervenes in it in such a way as to dictate whatever outcomes he chooses. When you think about it, every act of God is supernatural. Miracles are his ordinary actions.

But some scholars reject the whole idea of predictive prophecy, just as they are dismissive of supernatural acts (such as the resurrection of Jesus). Goldingay says: “What assumptions should we bring to [Daniel] regarding the nature of the stories and the origin of the visions? Critical scholarship has sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly approached the visions with the [initial] conviction that they cannot be actual prophecies of events to take place long after the seer’s day, because prophecy of that kind is impossible.”[6]

Goldingay calls the prophecies of chapter 11 “quasi-prophecies,”[7] meaning that there was no angelic revelation, just a man (falsely) calling himself Daniel and writing about events that have already happened in such a way as to present them as prophecies. We reject that view, believing the statement of the angel that his words are “the truth” (Dan. 11:2); that is our conviction!

We do not stand at the same spot in history with Daniel. We look back at the prophecies in verses 5-20 and see that they defined over three centuries of rapid change with amazing precision. That gives us confidence that we can rely on everything Daniel records about the end times. Only God can reliably tell us what is to come.

 An evil enemy: The rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.)

 21 “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. 22 Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. 23 After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses — but only for a time.

25 “With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26 Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. 27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.”

Shakespeare tells us, “What’s past is prologue.”[8] That is certainly true in relation to Antiochus IV Epiphanes as a pattern for the far more important Antichrist to come. In this section we will constantly wonder how much may indirectly apply to the one to come who will be more evil than any other ruler.

The angel’s initial description of Antiochus IV Epiphanes declares him to be “a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty” (verse 21). The phrase “contemptible person” is a participle suggesting that people would continually find him despicable in his behavior. The throne rightfully belonged to another, but Antiochus cleverly seized it.

Verses 22-23 are typical for Antiochus IV; he first defeated the “overwhelming army,” made a covenant (or treaty) with his defeated Egyptian enemy, and then played off factions in Egypt by breaking the covenant. Like the Antichrist, deceit and treachery made his covenants worthless.

The war between Antiochus IV and Ptolemy VI (“the king of the South”), first mentioned in verse 22, is further described in verses 25-27, but the details need not concern us. At verse 28 we finally arrive at the crux of the matter. After being thwarted in his attempt to take Egypt, Antiochus IV began his brutal persecution of the Jews during his return march to Syria. Miller explains that, upon finding an insurrection in progress in Jerusalem, “He put down the rebellion, massacring eighty thousand men, women, and children … and then looted the temple with the help of the evil high priest Menelaus.”[9] Remember that these horrible actions suggest the type of action the Antichrist will take in the years just prior to the Messiah’s return, years that still lie in our future. The continued career of Antiochus IV and the evil actions by the Antichrist will be the subject of the next section.

Because we live in a time and place far removed from Daniel’s day, it can be easy to merely admire the exactness of the prophecy while forgetting that Daniel’s people were receiving word of times yet to come. Imagine how it would have felt to know that this particular future awaited you and future generations of your family. Although much of what has been discussed has already happened, we are about to catch a glimpse of a future that may affect those alive today, or will certainly affect those who come later.

Copyright © 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Collins, Daniel, 363.

[2] Miller, Daniel, 292-3.

[3] Chisholm, Handbook of the Prophets, 320.

[4] Miller, Daniel, 292-7.

[5] Wood, Daniel, 283–293.

[6] Goldingay, Daniel, xxxix.

[7] Goldingay, Daniel, 282.

[8] The Tempest, Act II, Scene I.

[9] Miller, Daniel, 300.

Exposition of Daniel 10:15-11:1 An angelic warrior speaks

Daniel 10:15–11:1

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.

1 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.)

An angelic warrior speaks

When we consider Daniel’s age, his long fast, and the overwhelming nature of his encounter with the Messiah, it is not surprising that he has difficulty even standing before the angelic messenger, much less learning what the angel has come to reveal (verse 15). Even though NIV has Daniel saying that he suffers “with anguish because of the vision” (verse 16), the underlying Hebrew noun is used most frequently for labor pains, which any mother will attest are worse than mere anguish!

Note that the angel, who had the appearance of a man, was able to strengthen Daniel with a touch (verse 18). This is exactly what we pray for in relation to others who are suffering or in distress, and this is how God may answer if he is willing.

It is astonishing that this powerful angel left his ongoing battle with “the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (verse 20, NLT) to inform Daniel about the future of his people and Jerusalem. Perhaps this glimpse of angelic war indicated to Daniel why the Jews who went to Jerusalem were still suffering opposition. Their enemies were not just human ones. [Neither are ours!]

Miller points out that this spiritual struggle of angels against demons would continue for over two centuries of Persian rule (539–331 B.C.) and adds: “This struggle involved all of the decisions and relationships pertaining to the Jews during the Persian period (e.g., the reconstruction of the temple, deliverance of the Jews during the time of Esther, permission for Ezra and Nehemiah to return, and their subsequent construction of the city).”[1]

When that long battle ends with the fall of Persia, it will be replaced by a new one when “the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece will come” (verse 20b, NLT). Of course, Daniel already knows that the Persian kingdom will be replaced by a Greek kingdom because he was explicitly told that in a previous vision (Dan. 8:21). But he had not known until this moment that the ferocity of the Greek king would be inspired by a powerful demon. The participation of the angelic warrior against the coming Grecian kingdom will prove all too necessary as the detailed prophecies of chapter 11 will show. The Jews will face many threats during the period of Greek dominance, especially during the rule of Antiochus IV.

Before returning to the angelic battle, the warrior-angel carries out the strategic mission of revealing to Daniel additional details concerning the future of the Jews and Jerusalem (presented in chapters 11–12). What he reveals is trustworthy because it is recorded in a reliable record (“the Book of Truth,” NIV for verse 21a) to which the angel has access.

Before presenting details about events to come, the warrior-angel returns to a description of the forces Yahweh has deployed to defend the Jews. In the fight against the spirit princes of Persia and Greece, the warrior-angel has but one ally, “Michael, your prince” (verse 21b). Both here and in Dan. 12:1 we find that Michael is a powerful angel specially charged with defending the Jews against Satanic attack. They both worked together in the crucial first year of Darius the Mede, also known as Cyrus (verse 11:1). Wood says, “Thus it comes to be known that Cyrus’s decision to let the Jews go had been accomplished by God working through these two high angels.”[2]

A strategic briefing

Human interest in angels has always been intense, but it has sometimes been guided more by speculation than by revelation. Paul warns us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

It is apparent that how nations treat the Jews is a great concern to Yahweh. That being the case, we would project that considerable angelic power is brought to bear on the United States, which is the home of almost as many Jews as the nation of Israel. Further, it is plain in the Bible that anti-Semitism is displeasing to God; those who engage in it are giving aid to the enemy. This does not mean that we must condone every act of the Israeli government or Jews in general. God is well able to discipline those who need it without our help.

We are caught up in a long war between God’s holy angels and those angels who followed Satan in rebellion.  Revelation 12:7 informs us of war in heaven itself, when Michael led the angelic forces that defeated Satan and cast him and his angels down to the earth (Rev. 12:7–9). This is not some remote problem because Satan acts “to wage war against … those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Rev. 12:17).

Christians gather in groups to learn and to pray and to show love not just as a matter of tradition, but for mutual protection! We are stronger for Christ together than we are separately. The Lord fights for us and gives us this promise:

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38–39

Copyright © 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Miller, Daniel, 288.

[2] Wood, Daniel, 279.

Exposition of Daniel 10:10-14 The angelic front of the Great War

Daniel 10:10–14

10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

The angelic front of the Great War

Since Daniel proved unable to hear the voice of the Messiah, an angelic messenger lifts him to his feet while declaring that he has “now been sent” (verse 11) to explain things that Daniel is commanded to understand. Though still trembling, Daniel is strengthened to listen and learn.

What the angel reveals is astonishing because it describes spiritual activity — both influence on specific people and conflict with one another — that goes on all the time but is unseen by humanity. The angel reassures Daniel and explains that his humble heart triggered a response from heaven on day one of his fast (verse 12)! So, why did it take 21 days for the message to arrive? The answer is that the angel was resisted by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (verse 13). Wood explains, “These matters taken together show that this adversary was a demon, no doubt of high rank, assigned by the chief of demons, Satan, to Persia as his special area of activity.”[1] If that sounds odd, recall that Cyrus, king of Persia, is the one who returned many Jews to Jerusalem and whose further decisions would affect their welfare. The entirety of Revelation 12 tracks the attempts of Satan to attack the Jews, kill the Messiah and dominate the earth, so influencing Persian policy was vital!

The messenger-angel was not able to reach Daniel, a subject of king Cyrus of Persia, until greater angelic power was brought to bear in the person of Michael, “one of the chief princes” (verse 13). The standard Hebrew lexicon says that here prince means “a higher being, a guardian angel.”[2] Miller summarizes: “From this passage several important facts are evident concerning angels: (1) angels are real; (2) there are good and evil angels; (3) angels can influence the affairs of human beings. Particularly, this passage teaches that angels inspire human governments and their leaders.”[3] From this conclusion we can understand why Paul commands Christians to pray “for kings and for all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2) no matter how we may feel about them. Our lives may depend on it!

In a book that emphasizes God’s rule over all things, it is vital to know that he rules over the unseen realm as surely as over the part we plainly see. His temporary tolerance of rebellion, both human and angelic is no sign of weakness or disinterest. Miller quotes a wise statement by Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer: “‘While God can, of course, override the united resistance of all the forces of hell if he chooses to do so, he accords to demons certain limited powers of obstruction and rebellion somewhat like those he allows humans. In both cases the exercise of free will in opposition to the Lord of heaven is permitted by him when he sees fit.’”[4] Of course, even limited rebellion has serious consequences as the punishment of the Jews amply demonstrates!

Verse 14 describes the scope of what the angel came to tell Daniel. He will explain future events that involve “your people” (the Jews). These events are said to be “in the future” (NIV), but, in fact, the phrase means “in the latter days,” as we said in connection with Daniel 2:28. Miller explains, “Normally the phrase describes events that will occur just prior to and including the coming of the kingdom of God upon the earth.”[5]

We will soon discover that the angel’s message focuses on Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who ruled 175 B.C. to 163 B.C.) and his Satanic, end-times counterpart the Antichrist. Both men were of interest to Daniel, but the second one is our chief concern today.

Copyright © 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Wood, Daniel, 272.

[2] HALOT, sar, prince, q.v.

[3] Miller, Daniel, 285.

[4] Miller, Daniel, 286, quoting G. Archer, Daniel, 125.

[5] Miller, Daniel, 286–7.

Exposition of Daniel 10:1-9 Daniel’s vision of the Messiah

Daniel 10:1-9

1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

Once again Daniel anchors his last vision in history by mentioning “the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (verse 1). Miller explains, “Cyrus’s third year would have been 536/535 B.C., two years after Gabriel’s appearance to Daniel in chapter 9 and a short while after the first return of the Jewish exiles to Palestine.”[1] By this time Daniel is 83 to 85 years of age. Historical evidence indicates that Cyrus was not frequently called “king of Persia,”[2] but there is a reason he is so designated here, and that reason will emerge later in the chapter.

The vision itself “concerned a great war,” a statement that may be considered a monumental understatement! The war described in chapters 10–12 spans at least 2,500 years and involves both angelic forces and human beings on each side. Both the Messiah and Satan appear to be directly involved. When the conflict ends, the earth will never return to what it was before.

Daniel switches from a narrator’s voice (third person) in verse 1 to a first-person viewpoint in verses 2–3. He probably does so in order to better relate a very personal encounter. In the midst of an extended fast, he expresses great sorrow, probably because he has heard about the devastated condition of Jerusalem and the harassment endured by the Jews who have recently returned to Palestine (Nehemiah 1:4; Ezra 4:5, 24).

Daniel is away from the capital and standing on the banks of the Tigris river, which passes just 20 miles west of Babylon. “Behold, a man” appeared over the Tigris, with an awesome appearance that defies adequate description (verses 5–6). Many scholars believe this man is Gabriel, who had appeared to Daniel twice before (Dan. 8:16 and 9:21). But Wood objects: “If so, however, it is strange that he is not mentioned by name, as he was in those chapters. Also, he is described at length here and was not before.”[3] We agree with Miller, who says, “That this person was God seems to be the correct view not only because of the overwhelming effect of his presence on Daniel but because of the similar appearance of [God] presented in Ezek. 1:26–28 and the even closer parallel to the portrait of Christ in Rev. 1:12–16.”[4] The appearances of the Messiah are like bookends for chapters 10–12 in that he appears to Daniel in chapter 10 and again in chapter 12, where his final words to Daniel end the book.

The vision of the man over the river was seen only by Daniel. Verse 7 is unusually emphatic in Hebrew: “I saw, I, Daniel, I alone.” Those with him, whether companions or a security detail, were so overwhelmed with terror that they ran away and hid themselves. A similar experience happened to Paul and his companions on the road to Damascus, when Jesus appeared to Paul (Acts 9:1–7).

As sometimes happens during overwhelming emotion, Daniel releases his hold on consciousness and slumps with his face to the ground (verse 9). No one may encounter the living God without being changed. Perhaps it is not accidental that, at the conclusion of chapter 12, the Messiah speaks of Daniel going to his rest until the resurrection on the last day; certainly he had some involuntary rest on this day.

Copyright © 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Miller, Daniel, 276.

[2] Miller, Daniel, 276, footnote 2.

[3] Wood, Daniel, 267–8.

[4] Miller, Daniel, 281–2.