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.

Commentary

As has happened with every vision in Daniel, the angel’s 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 Daniel’s 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 36-45 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, Antichrist’s 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 Abraham’s 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 Belshazzar’s 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 Ezekiel’s 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 Antichrist’s 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 heaven’s 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 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1]Robert B. Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 324-5.

[2] Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973)304-5.

[3] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1994)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 8:19-27 Fall of the Last Evil King

Daniel 8:19-27

19 He said: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. 20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. 22 The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. 23 ”In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. 26 ”The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.”

27 I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

As the angel Gabriel continues his explanation of the vision, verse 19 takes up the story where verse 17 left off. What he sees is a steady stream of Gentile oppressors for Israel, ending with the worst of all, the Antichrist. Note carefully the phrases “later in the time of wrath … the appointed time of the end” (verse 19). Miller explains that the first half of this quotation may also be translated “in the latter part of the time of wrath” (emphasis added).[1] The term translated “later part” will recur in verse 23.

Looking at matters from our own position in history, we find that Gabriel identifies three kingdoms long past (Medo-Persia, Greece, and the four kingdoms that emerged after Alexander) and one that will rise in our future, in the latter part of the time of wrath. The accuracy of the prophecy about the kingdoms in our past gives us complete confidence in what Gabriel says about the evil ruler to come, someone also known as the Antichrist or “the beast” (Rev. 13:2).

It is certainly wise to ask what ends at “the appointed time of the end” (verse 19). Wood explains the answer with skill: “The long period known as the times of the Gentiles (when Gentiles are dominant over Palestine, Luke 21:24) will be brought to a conclusion. The period began with the Judean captivity to Babylonia, since which time God’s people have never enjoyed a period of true autonomy over their land, and will end only with the Antichrist’s dethronement.”[2]

The NET Bible’s translation of verse 23 is probably preferable: “Toward the end of their rule, when rebellious acts are complete, a rash and deceitful king will arise.” In relation to the italicized phrase, the NET Bible Notes say, “The filling up of transgressions is a familiar OT expression (cf. Gen 15:16) and fits this context well.”[3] The idea to take away is that at the moment when rebellion against God is at its peak, the Antichrist will make his move toward supreme political power.

In verse 24 we are told that the fierce-looking king achieved great strength “but not by his own power.” There can be little doubt that the source of his power is none other than Satan (Rev. 12:9; 13:2; 2 Thess. 2:9).

At this point it is appropriate to say that we are interpreting this set of verses as if their chief referent were the Antichrist (following Wood) rather than Antiochus IV Epiphanes (following Miller). For example, verse 24 speaks of this evil ruler as causing “astounding devastation.” It is hard for us to see how a regional ruler, even one as bloody as Antiochus, can be said to have caused destruction that far surpassed rulers who came before him and those who came after. When the Roman general Titus led four legions against Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the temple was destroyed, its articles taken away, and over a million Jews died while almost 100,000 were sold into slavery.[4] Antiochus was an evil, boastful man, but he is just a shadow of what the Antichrist will be.

Verse 25 is important because it talks in summary about both the evil king’s methods and his eventual destruction. Since NIV omits translation of two phrases, we will consider the ESV instead: “By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken– but by no human hand.” From verse 25 we may conclude several things:

  • Deceit will play a major role in his rule.
  • He will have a high opinion of himself and behave arrogantly.
  • Many will die “without warning” (NIV: “when they feel secure”; NET: “unaware of his schemes”; CEB: “in a time of peace”).
  • He will oppose “the Prince of princes” [probably a reference to Jesus the Messiah as Lord of lords and King of kings].
  • He will be shattered by divine power.

For those who are historically aware, the closest modern equivalent might be Adolph Hitler, especially when we consider his deceit-filled rise to power, his arrogance and his earnest effort to exterminate the Jews. The coming evil king will make Hitler look like an amateur before God strikes him down.

Gabriel concludes (verse 26) by reaffirming the validity of “the vision of evenings and mornings” (verse 14), yet he orders the vision sealed up for preservation since it concerns the distant future. It makes sense that proclamation of the vision among the Jews would only create problems in light of the fact that the vision appalled Daniel, who actually saw it and heard the interpretation; he found the matter “beyond understanding” (verse 27).

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, 233.

[2] Wood, Daniel, 223.

[3] NET Bible Notes for Daniel 8:23.

[4] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, VI.9.3.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 13:1-4

Revelation 13:1-4

Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. 3 One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: Who is like the beast? and Who is able to make war against him?
(NET Bible)

One beast to rule them all: the antichrist

When asked by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 2003 to vote on the best-loved work in the history of Britain, the people voted for J.R.R. Tolkiens epic high fantasy The Lord of the Rings. Infused with many Christian themes, Tolkiens work fashions an ancient age of earth in which good fights a death-struggle with personal evil. Its thematic poem mimics Satans true plans for the last age of our world:

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.

Revelation 13 introduces one of the most famous biblical personalities: the Antichrist, presented as the beast coming up out of the sea (13:1). He will be Satans primary leader to rule the world.

The hideous figure that rises from the sea bears a blasphemous name on each of its seven heads (13:1). Osborne says: These blasphemous names probably allude to the titles of divinity attributed to the Roman emperor (lord, savior, son of god, our lord and god).[1] Such titles would not only resonate for Johns original readers but would also fit in Satans plan to make the beast from the sea into a counterfeit Messiah at the end of history.

Satan, symbolized by the dragon, gives the Antichrist, symbolized by the beast from the sea, everything he needs to rule the world (13:2). But why does the world submit to such rule? The first reason is that they were dazzled by a miraculous mockery of Christs resurrection.

Grant Osborne describes the reaction of the whole world to the beasts recovery: They are deceived by the miracle (see also 13:13-14; 16:14) and do what the crowds failed to do in Jesus ministry: worship the beast.[2]

In explaining 13:5-6, Osborne describes Satans deception: Here we are at the heart of the blasphemy (13:1, 5) of the beast, deceiving the nations into worshiping him as God.[3] This sickening worship goes on for three and a half years (13:5). Worse still, only one group will refuse to worship the beast: those committed to the Lamb (13:8).

But a decision has to be made about the translation of 13:8b:

(NET) everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.

(NIV 2011) all whose names have not been written in the Lambs book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

The correct translation hinges on which verb a Greek prepositional phrase modifies (see italics above), and numerous scholars take each side.[4] I side with Osborne in favor of the NIV 2011: It is better here to respect the [original] word order and recognize that it is Gods plan that has been established from the foundation of the world.[5]

Aside from the beast, the story of this chapter is told in 13:7, which says, The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He is assisted by a second beast, another beast coming up from the earth (13:11), who is often called the false prophet (Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). Not only will the false prophet promote the worship of the Antichrist, but he will also organize the worlds commerce so that only those bearing the mark of the beast (13:17) can buy or sell anything.

666

Revelation 13:18 is legendary because of the number 666. I find Greg Beales idea simple and persuasive: The number 666 is likely no exception to Johns figurative use of numbers. The number seven refers to completeness and is repeated throughout the book. But 666 appears only here. This suggests that the triple sixes are intended as a contrast with the divine sevens throughout the book and signify incompleteness and imperfection.[6] Satan is not divine and neither is the beast; they can claim only to be perfect evil!

Do not take the fake!

A regrettable number of Christians have become caught up in following a teacher because of some complex interpretation of the beast or 666. Instead of speculation, we should focus on the revelation God provides us so that we can be prepared to represent Christ in a deceptive world.

In Tolkiens fantasy world, evil did not prevail, but for a time its power was ascendant. Likewise, in our own future the beast will be given authority to conquer the saints for a little while, but his destiny is not rulership but torment. Instead, Jesus will rule and we who overcome will rule with him. The Lamb was slain, but he did not stay that way!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 491.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 497.

[3] Osborne, Revelation, 498.

[4] The Greek word order favors the NIV translation (slain from the creation of the world), but Rev. 17:8 favors the NETs view (written since the foundation of the world).

[5] Osborne, Revelation, 503.

[6] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 721-722.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 6:1–2, 6:7–8

Revelation 6:1–2
I looked on when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a thunderous voice, “Come!” 2 So I looked, and here came a white horse! The one who rode it had a bow, and he was given a crown, and as a conqueror he rode out to conquer.
Revelation 6:7–8
Then when the Lamb opened the fourth seal I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come!” 8 So I looked and here came a pale green horse! The name of the one who rode it was Death, and Hades followed right behind. They were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill its population with the sword, famine, and disease, and by the wild animals of the earth.
(NET Bible)

The Seals, Bowls and Trumpets

People went about their early business on that day. While their country was at war with a powerful foe, there had been no reason to expect this day to be different from others. In the local military garrison, the Fifth Division’s troops drilled like usual while school children began their classes and farmers set out vegetables at the market.

At 8:15 AM something emerged from an opening beneath an unseen plane; fifty-seven seconds later the unsuspecting people learned what it was. High above the surgical clinic in the middle of town, a flash of unreal light presaged a titanic explosion that leveled everything for a mile in all directions. Life forever changed in Hiroshima. What is coming in the last days is much worse!

This section of Revelation begins a series of apocalyptic visions describing judgments brought upon the world by God. Grant Osborne does a superior job introducing them:

The seven seals are preliminary judgments on the earth that prepare for the trumpets and the bowls. . . . All three series of judgments end with [the end of human history]. It is also important to realize that the scroll is not opened until all seven seals are opened. Therefore, these are preliminary, and the contents of the scroll are concerned more with the trumpets, bowls, and ensuing events of chapters 17–20: the divine plan for ending human history and beginning the eternal age.[1]

While the insights above are not universally accepted, that is a common state of affairs for this symbolic book! See the Introduction for various interpretive approaches to the book.

Osborne[2] also explains that the seal-judgments (affecting one-quarter of humanity) are followed by the more intense trumpet-judgments (affecting one-third of humanity) and finally escalating to the bowl-judgments (affecting the whole world). The intensification promotes repentance.

The first four seals

Just as soon as the Lamb opens the first seal, one of the four living creatures summons its content: a white horse with a rider carrying a bow (6:1). Note carefully that “he was given a crown” (6:2); this was expressed by a Greek verb (did?mi “give”) in the passive voice. Greek grammar expert Daniel Wallace says: “The passive is also used when God is the obvious agent. Many grammars call this a divine passive.”[3] The implication is that the rider was given a crown by God, without expressly saying so.

This divine passive for did?mi occurs eleven times in chapters 6–9. Osborne finds such a divine passive in 6:2 and says: “It denotes the sovereign power of God over all his creation, even the forces of evil. Everything Satan and his minions do in the book occurs only by divine permission.”[4]

Who is the rider on the white horse? The NET Bible Notes say, “The white horse rider represents the Antichrist, who appears later in Rev 11:7 [and] 13:17, and whose similarity to Christ explains the similarity with the rider in 19:11.”[5] Other views exist, but this one seems best. In 6:2 we find that the rider is given rulership and the role of conqueror.

The second seal (6:3–4) unleashes slaughter by the sword through the removal of peace. The third seal (6:5–6) brings famine, a common occurrence with conquest and war.

When Jesus breaks the fourth seal, Death rides out on a pale horse (6:7–8). Greg Beale, along with many others, considers Death to be a metaphorical name that in this context “refers to ‘pestilence, disease’ rather than death in the general sense.”[6] “Hades” (6:8), the sphere that imprisons the dead, “followed right behind” (6:8), a phrase that “pictures Hades on foot gathering up the corpses left by Pestilence and Death as they struck victim after victim.”[7] These terrors cover one-fourth of the earth.

No Warning!

The Four Horsemen will come unannounced! Why? Because the warning has already been given by God’s prophets, his Son, and the church over millennia. These preliminary judgments are the least of all, but they are still awesome and extensive. The seals demonstrate that Jesus was not using empty words when he said, “The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22).

Paul Revere gained fame in American history by riding to warn his countrymen of a coming British invasion. But the Four Horsemen that Jesus will set loose do not come to warn, because the warning has already come!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 269.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 270.

[3] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) 437.

[4] Osborne, Revelation, 277.

[5] NET Bible Notes for Revelation 6:2.

[6] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 382.

[7] Osborne, Revelation, 282.