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 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] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1994)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 Daniels 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 havent already done so, prayerfully consider how this understanding changes the way you think about the world and how you live in it.

Gods Word is trustworthy. As we will see when we explore the beginning of Daniels 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 whats coming. It could not have been easy to hear.

Expected events until Alexanders 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)
79 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 seers 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 kings 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, Whats 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 angels 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 Messiahs 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 Daniels day, it can be easy to merely admire the exactness of the prophecy while forgetting that Daniels 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] John J. Collins, Daniel, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993)363.

[2] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1994)292-3.

[3]Robert B. Chisholm Jr. Handbook of the Prophets(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 320.

[4] Miller, Daniel, 292-7.

[5] Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973)283293.

[6] Goldingay, Daniel, xxxix.

[7] Goldingay, Daniel, 282.

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

[9] Miller, Daniel, 300.