Forum Class Daniel #7 June 27, 2004
Notes from Ray C. Stedman: "let us turn to the great prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel, contained in the eleventh chapter of the book of Daniel. This is a long chapter, and you will have to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with me as we look at it together. We shall not read it all, but will try to grasp the full import of this amazing section. It is a remarkable passage. As I pointed out before, Chapters 10, 11, and 12 are all one great vision. Up to that point in Daniel the chapter divisions represent separate prophetic foresight, but the last three chapters are one great vision. It would be ideal if we could take them all at once, for the chapter divisions only confuse the issue. But to take them at once is impossible for it would be attempting one chapter of seventy-nine verses! So we shall observe the chapter divisions if you will understand that it is one great vision we are considering.
The background of this vision is Chapter 10, where we are told that Daniel was allowed to see behind the scenes in the ministry of prayer. The curtain was dropped and he suddenly saw a most shattering, dazzling sight, the Lord Jesus in the fullness of his majesty and glory, the very same One whom John describes in the opening verses of Revelation. It is the same one who arrested Paul on the road to Damascus and who appeared in light that was brighter than the sun. You can imagine the effect of all this upon the prophet Daniel. He is drained of energy and falls on his face to the ground. But an angel is sent to help him and to give him the most detailed vision of the events of human history before they occur that is contained in the Bible.
The angel begins to unfold, in Chapter 11, the history of the future from Daniel's day on. The chapter falls into four rather unequal parts. The first part includes Verses 2-4. In these verses we have the immediate future from Daniel's day on, covering approximately ninety-five years. The angel said to Daniel,
"And now I will show you the truth. Behold three more kings shall arise in Persia; and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them; and when he has become strong through his riches he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king shall arise who shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will. And when he has arisen his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven but not to his posterity not according to the dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these." (Daniel 11:2-4)
Did you recognize any of the historic personalities that are predicted there? Daniel is told that there will be three more kings following Cyrus, the king of Media-Persia at the time the prophet writes. These three are known to history. The first one was Cambyses, the son of Cyrus. He was overthrown by a usurper who took the name of Cambyses' son, Smerdis, and is called in history Pseudo-Smerdis (false-Smerdis). Then the third king was Darius Hystaspes. Any of you who have studied ancient Persian history will recognize this name immediately. Then a fourth king was to follow. That did not mean that he would be the last of the kings of Persia but it meant he was to be the fourth one from Daniel's day, and he would be an especially notable one.
This was Xerxes the Great, king of Persia, who was indeed fabulously rich as the prophet was told, and became strong through his riches, stirring up the kingdom of Greece. It was the raids which the Persians made against the Greeks under Xerxes which inflamed Greece and created an immediate response to the call of Alexander the Great for war against the Persians. The "mighty king" which was to arise is clearly identifiable as Alexander the Great, the young man who became first king of Macedon and then king of Greece, and finally led the Grecian armies against the Persian empire, overthrew the might of Persia, and swept on to conquer the then known civilized world. According to the prophecy here he was to be "broken." Alexander died when he was only thirty-three years old, and his kingdom was divided but not to his posterity. He had an unborn son at the time of his death who, when he was born, did briefly inherit the kingdom of Alexander. Ultimately the empire was divided among his four generals, according to what is said here, it would be "divided towards the four winds of heaven." It is also stated that "it would be plucked up and go to others besides these." This is the first hint we have of the coming in of the Romans from the West. They are the "others" who got a part of Alexander's empire when it was divided.
The next division of the vision encompasses Verses 5-20. We shall not read these, though if you are interested in this part of history it would be fascinating to trace these events through. In this section beginning with Verse 5, the angel traces the course of two empires, one to the south and one to the north of Israel. The king of the south is Egypt under Ptolemy, who was one of the generals of Alexander, and his successors. The king of the north is Syria. That domain was under the rule of the Seleucids (Seleucus was another of the generals under Alexander). These two kingdoms, Egypt and Syria, fought back and forth over the course of about 130 years. Poor Israel was caught in between the two, and became the battlefield of these armies as they moved back and forth. Jerusalem was captured by both sides from time to time through the conflict and was sacked and ravaged a number of times -- ground like wheat between two millstones. The account of these kingdoms is given to us because of Israel's involvement. God's primary concern is for Israel and for her sake he gives us this marvelously detailed account which history has confirmed in every detail. It would be really fascinating, if we had the time, to see how remarkably history records the fulfillment of every single prediction here, but we must move on. (See below)
Coming to the third section, from (v. 21-35) we find the career of a single king the king of the north, whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes. We have met him before in the book of Daniel. He is the "little horn" of Chapter 8, who persecuted Israel and ultimately set up the first "abomination of desolation" in the temple at Jerusalem. He is called "the Antichrist of the Old Testament," a most despicable character, and yet a remarkable man in many ways. He reigned from 175 to 164 B.C. There are certain highlights of this section to which I will call your attention because they have real bearing on our own day. The opening verses, 21 through 28, are the story of how this treacherous man came to power, gaining influence through flattery. He launched a campaign against Egypt, which he won and thus established his power more thoroughly. Then, in Verses 29-30, a very interesting thing is recorded:
"At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south [i.e., Egypt]; but it shall not be this time as it as it was before." (Daniel 11:29)
Antiochus made a second invasion of Egypt but this time he met with difficulty.
"For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant." (Daniel 11:30a)
We know from history how this occurred, Antiochus Epiphanes (he called himself Epiphanes which means "The Illustrious One, The Magnificent One" -- it was his own appraisal of himself -- but his courtiers called him Antiochus Epimanes, the Madman). He led his army into Egypt, but this time the Egyptians had sent for help from the Romans. The Roman Senate sent a general named Popilius, who led a legion against Antiochus. They arrived in Roman galleys which are referred to here as "ships of Kittim." Popilius insisted that Antiochus return to his own land, keep the peace, and acknowledge the authority of Rome. Antiochus asked for time to consider these terms, but Popilius drew a circle around him with his sword and told him to decide before he stepped out of that circle. So Antiochus gave in and agreed to keep the peace, but returned to Jerusalem to take out his spite on the Jews. Instead of keeping peace, he did what is recorded in verse 31.
"Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate." (Daniel 11:31)
Antiochus went up to Jerusalem, entered the temple, and, as we have learned before, erected there a pagan altar. He offered a pig, an unclean animal to the Jews, upon the altar, taking the broth of the pig and sprinkled it around the sanctuary, thus defiling it. Then he set up a statue of Jupiter and insisted that the temple be dedicated to that pagan god. This is what is called "the abomination that makes desolate." All this is extremely important because it was a preview of another abomination of desolation that is yet to come.
In Verses 32-35 we have the career of a very remarkable people described, a people known to history as the Maccabees. They were the sons of an old man named Mattathias, who rebelled against the desecrations of Antiochus and led a revolt against the authority of the king. His sons were successful in this revolt and finally recaptured the temple, cleansed the sanctuary, and restored the Jewish offerings. If any of you are at all acquainted with the history of the Jews you know that this is an important event in their calendar. They celebrate it at the same time that we celebrate Christmas, because the temple was cleansed on December 25, 164 B.C. Here is the description of the Maccabees in the prophecy.
"He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant; but the people who know their God shall stand and take action. And those among the people who are wise shall make many understand, though they shall fall by sword and name, by captivity and plunder, for some days. When they fall, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery; and some of those who are wise shall fall, to refine and to cleanse them and to make them white, until the time of the end, for it is yet for the time appointed." (Daniel 11:32-35)
This remarkable section of the prophecy predicts the rise of a people who would know their God, would do exploits, and who are strong. Though they receive a little help they are ultimately overcome. The Maccabees had to appeal to the Romans for help and it was this appeal which was ultimately responsible for the fact that the Roman government was in control of Palestine at the time our Lord was born. But they did great things, were a godly people, and did succeed in cleansing the sanctuary and restoring the offerings of the Jews. As predicted they did mighty things in the name of God against tremendous persecution, "falling by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder, for some days."
Now notice the last words of Verse 35. They seem to suggest a leap of time that will carry us from these days in the past, to the "last days," to the time in the future when this shall again be fulfilled in a greater way. It shall be "until the time of the end, for it is yet for the time appointed," we are told. Then, beginning with Verse 36, we have the last section of this chapter. There we have a clear picture of the false prophet, the false Messiah, who is accepted by the Jews as a Messiah and who erects the abomination of desolation for the last and final time in a temple that is yet to be rebuilt in the city of Jerusalem.
But before we leave this section on Antiochus Epiphanes, let me point out that many Bible scholars (and I feel there is great justification for this) regard this whole section, from Verse 21 on, as a preview to be repeated in the last days. These same events would be fulfilled in a larger and greater way than in the past. This is very significant, for if it is true then it indicates that the present relationship between Egypt and Syria in the Middle East must be broken and these two countries shall become enemies again instead of allies as they are now. If you have been watching the events of the Middle East of the last few years you know that these two nations are drawing apart from each other. They once were one nation, the United Arab Republic. But that did not last long, and they have since been drawing further apart. They are united only by their antipathy toward Israel, but they disagree in their views as to how warfare against Israel should be carried forward. According to this prediction, it will ultimately result in these two nations becoming enemies once again. We shall watch that scene with great interest.
Let us look at Verses 36-45. The first section of it gives us the character of the last king of the north, the final one who appears as the false prophet and who erects in the temple, as we have seen before, an image of the Western political leader, the first beast of Revelation 13, which will be the ultimate abomination of desolation. To confirm the fact that the passage is dealing with the last days, look at the first verse of Chapter 12, remembering that this is all one great vision. The prophet there is told,
"At that time [the time of the events of the closing part of Chapter 11] shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time." (Daniel 12:1a)
That "time of trouble" is clearly the great tribulation which our Lord mentions in Matthew 24. So there is no question about the fact that we are dealing with the last days. Also in Chapter 12, notice Verse 11, which says,
"And from the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." (Daniel 12:11)
That is referring to the last desecration of the temple that is to occur, but the only reference to it in this vision is clear back in Chapter 11, Verse 31, which describes the desecration under Antiochus Epiphanes,
"Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate." (Daniel 11:31)
That is why many scholars feel that this whole section, from Verse 21 on, is to be repeated in the last days. Now let us look at this last great personality.
"And the king shall do according to his will; he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is determined shall be done . He shall give no heed to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women; he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these; a god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god; those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price." (Daniel 11:36-39)
There are several very important things to note: First, this king blasphemes God. That is always the mark of the Antichrist. Also he magnifies himself. In Chapter 8 we learned that he does this "in his own mind," he does not do it openly, and we will see the reason for that in a moment.
Then we are told "he shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished." The "indignation" is another term for the great tribulation. It indicates this man is going to have power over the whole Middle East and perhaps over much of the world in conjunction with the great Western ruler during the whole time of Daniel's seventieth week, and especially through the last half of it, the time of the great tribulation. "He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished."
Then we learn he shall rule by military power. That is what is meant by, "He shall honor the god fortresses" and, though he himself is primarily a religious leader, he shall have a great military power backing him. Revelation 13 shows us that this military power is the leader of the Western world, the Roman Empire restored, which will be dominant in these last days. The Syrian king shall be in league with a foreign god and this foreign god is the Western leader, the first beast of Revelation 13, whom he will cause the whole world to worship. The dominant religion of the world in that day will be the worship of man, exemplified in one man, who will be the great Antichrist of the last days. But this man, this king of Daniel 11:36, is the one who will lead the world in the worship of that Western leader.
"He shall be in league with a foreign god, and shall divide the land for a price." That latter phrase suggests the possibility that here is the one who will finally settle the quarrel of Jew and Arab over ownership of the land of Israel. Someone must come ultimately to settle this great difficulty, because it is now dividing the Middle East, and much of the world. Until the problem is settled there can be no hope for any kind of peace in the Middle East. But there is coming a man who will succeed for awhile in bringing peace to this area, and this is the man who is before us now. The action of the last days is recorded in the closing section.
"At the time of the end [that places it at the beginning of the great tribulation, the middle of Daniel's seventieth week] the king of the south shall attack him [Egypt shall come against him]; but the king of the north [the king we have just been considering] shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through. He shall come into the glorious land [Israel]. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites [the present territory, largely, of Jordan]. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train [he is in North Africa, now]. But tidings from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go forth with great fury to exterminate and utterly destroy many. And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end with none to help him." (Daniel 11:40-45)
What a remarkable account! Here we have traced the final conflict, which is called, in the book of Revelation, the campaign of Armageddon. You have heard about Armageddon, and here is the record of a great part of it. We learn that it begins with an attack against Syria from Egypt, the king of the south attacking the king of the north. Their ancient enmity is restored and Israel once again becomes a convenient battlefield for them. Undoubtedly this attack occurs because Syria has made a covenant with the Jews, and this angers the Egyptians. Because Syria has made a covenant with the Jews to allow the restoration of Jewish worship in the temple at Jerusalem, the Egyptians attack. But the king of the north shall strike back, and shall "rush upon like a whirlwind, with chariots and horseman, and with many ships." Many Bible scholars feel that this suggests strongly that he has at his disposal far greater forces than would be possible for the small country of Syria. They link with Syria the power of Soviet Russia. As you know, Russia has a very strong hand in that area at this present time and is backing Syria in rearming against the Jews.
We are next told that he conquers Egypt and North Africa. The king of the north comes down through Palestine, perhaps at this time erects the abomination of desolation in the temple, and then moves down into Egypt, conquering Egypt and North Africa. But while he is in North Africa he hears troubling tidings from the east and the north (this would be from the direction of Israel, and Syria).
Here we can find possible place for a cryptic word found in the book of Revelation, which speaks of a great Eastern army (the kings of the sunrising, literally),who come as a tremendous force, of two hundred million men against Israel in the last days. If you were the king of the north and you were down in Egypt with an extended supply line and heard of a force of two hundred million men coming to cut that line of supply, you would be troubled too, would you not?
Because of this threat, he quickly arouses his forces and goes forth "with great fury to exterminate and utterly destroy many." He comes back into the land of Israel, pitches his tent between the sea (the Mediterranean sea), and the glorious holy mountain (Jerusalem), and "there he shall come to his end with none to help him." We have that end described for us in the book of Revelation. It will be by the sudden appearing of Jesus Christ with the armies of heaven, to take the beast and the false prophet here, overcome them, and cast them into the lake of fire.
This is a difficult passage in Daniel 11 and one that many Bible scholars have wrestled with and struggled over. In some ways it is difficult to relate to its context, but in other ways it is very simple, very plain. But it does indicate certain definite things. It does confirm what the New Testament tells us, that the lawless one and his cohorts shall be brought to an end by the appearing of Jesus Christ again in power and great glory. As we have seen all through Daniel, the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
I want to say a few things in closing: These predictive passages are not given to us to frighten us. They are not given to move us to go out and dig bomb shelters and hide in the ground, or sell our property and get white robes and go up on the mountain top.
They are given to guide us, primarily, in order that we may not be part of the international delusion of the last days, or that which leads up to the last days. That delusion is the worship of man. That is the final ultimate delusion. Humanism, the philosophy that man is able to be his own god and does not need another, is the final, terrible lie of the devil that will sweep through the world. Increasingly we find men moving in that direction. Increasingly the propaganda mills are turning out more and more powerful propaganda to suggest to people that there is no God, that God is dead, that God is of no use to men -- has no interest in them even if he does exist -- and that man does not need him anyhow for he is his own god: Man can do anything he wants. We are getting this in increasing degree today.
These prophetic passages are given for five practical reasons: First, they are given in order that we might have a realistic view of man and of the panaceas man attempts to solve his problems. We need to understand from Scripture that nothing is going to work, ultimately. Though this does not mean that we are to give up efforts to find good programs to help alleviate some of the misery of human beings, yet we are to understand that these w ill never really solve the problem. They are at best temporary alleviations and will not finally solve anything. That means we ought not to get so wrapped up and involved with political movements of the day that we feel they will be the final answer, and that the world will never survive unless it gets on the bandwagon of such-and-such a proposition.
Second, we ought to learn from these passages to employ spiritual weapons rather than pressure tactics in the solution of human problems. I am amazed at how long it seems to take many Christians to learn that real, earnest, concerted believing prayer is a million times more effective in changing a situation than moving into a building, sitting in protest or demonstrating in the streets. The fact that we do not employ spiritual weapons indicates that we do not believe what our Lord has told us. If we really believed in the spiritual weapons (love, righteousness, truth, faith, etc.,), we would employ these far more than other types of tactics and political maneuvers.
Third, these passages ought to teach us to view persons as more important than programs. God is not interested in programs, ultimately. Certainly you cannot live life without programs, but it is not the program that is the important thing. it is the people interested in them. The whole testimony of the scriptures is to this end. God is interested in people. Programs come and go, movements in history appear and disappear, rise and fall. God seems to care little about those things. but he is very, very concerned about the people involved in them. Therefore, as we see the events of our own day we ought to view persons as far more important than programs, and the establishing of warm relationships as being of far greater value to us than making money. This is a great area of failure in many Christian homes. Time spent in learning to know your children. and letting your children know you, is of far greater value than earning enough money to buy a color TV set, or a higher priced car, or a cabin in the mountains. Let us get our value systems straight. That is what these passages are given to us for, that we might realize that what is happening in our home circle, between parents and children, and with our neighbors and friends around, is of far more importance and requires much more of the investment of time than advancing a material standard of life.
Fourth, these passages ought to teach us to manifest a spirit of trust and confidence in God, and to display that in spite of the worsening conditions in which we live. Jesus said this specifically: "When you see these things begin to pass ..." Then what? Go grovel in the earth, and look sad and forlorn? Act as though the world is coming to an end with no hope left? No. "Lift up your heads and rejoice" (Luke 21:28) for it is working out exactly as God said it would. It ought to confirm your faith, not destroy it. It is coming to pass exactly as he said.
Fifth, these passages ought to help us build deep ties of love and consideration with other Christians. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, and so much more as you see the day approaching," (Hebrews 10:25). Do not separate yourself from other Christians. Do not go off on your own but get with them, get to know them, spend enough time together that you can know one another. Love one another and pray for one another. I am not simply talking about coming to church on Sunday. That is a very important factor because that is where we are taught the truth. but that is not where we are to live our Christian life. We do that in the home and in the neighborhood.
There are five suggestions that occur to me as we draw to a close in this study of Daniel. I hope that they will move us to practice and not mere profession. Prophecy is not given to us to satisfy our curiosity, but to move us in right and proper ways. (From http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/daniel/0368.html)
The Last Word: In Chapter 10, Daniel was shown an awe-inspiring vision of the great Being to whom he was praying. We can identify this Being from New Testament references as the Lord Jesus Christ, revealed through an Old Testament theophany -- or appearance of God -- before he became incarnate. In answer to Daniel's request for understanding about the fate of his people he was then given a vision of the centuries. He was shown that Persia was soon to fall under an attack led by Alexander the Great. This was fulfilled in history. Alexander died in 323 B.C., some two hundred years after Daniel's vision. Daniel was then shown the rise of Egypt and Syria, the two warring powers on either side of Palestine, and the battles that would wage back and forth across the Holy Land. He also saw the coming of a "contemptible person" who would be one of the kings of the north, a king of Syria who would defile the temple in Jerusalem and would stop the Jewish offerings. As we have seen, this was fulfilled in history in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, the mad king of Syria who did defile the temple and aroused the revolt of the people led by the Maccabees.
Then there followed a long leap of time. From the predictions fulfilled around 165 B.C., the angel leaps over the intervening centuries, including the time of the first coming of Christ (Daniel had seen this in other visions), and comes to the great double fulfillment of the vision concerning the defilement of the temple, when another willful king would arise (again from the area of Syria) who, in league with the Western powers, would repeat the blasphemies of Antiochus Epiphanes in the temple. Ultimately he would be destroyed by divine power.
We come now to the opening words of the twelfth chapter, which is still part of the same vision. The vision goes on for three more verses, and then occurs a kind of postlude to the book. We shall observe the close of the vision verse by verse:
"At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book." (Daniel 12:1)
"At that time" indicates the same time as the events covered in the latter part of chapter eleven, concerning the willful king, the contemptible person who arises to defile the temple for the last time. When those events begin, Michael (the great prince who stands for Daniel's people, Israel) shall arise. Here Michael is called "the great prince. " In the New Testament he is called an archangel. There are only three references to Michael in the New Testament. One is found in the book of Jude, where we are told that he disputed with the devil over the body of Moses. What that involves no one quite knows, but evidently some problem arose over the resurrection of Moses. Michael was involved because Moses was the leader of God's people, Israel.
Michael is mentioned again in the twelfth chapter of Revelation, where he fights against the devil and his angels when they are cast out of heaven and are confined to earth. This expulsion is what produces the terrible time which Jesus calls "the great tribulation." Satan comes down to earth, knowing that he has but a short time, and his wrath is terrible. Michael is also mentioned in First Thessalonians, Chapter 4, where the Apostle Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus is coming for the church:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, (1 Thessalonians 4:16a)
Since the only archangel mentioned in Scripture is Michael, this helps us to know the order of the events of the last times. When the Lord comes for his church, Michael will also stand up to act on behalf of his assigned people, Israel. Many Bible scholars thus understand that when the church is removed from the earth, then Israel will come into the forefront again as a nation under God. God begins then his renewed program of activity through his people, the Jews.
This is also what Daniel saw in his vision. When Michael "stands up" sometime before the great tribulation begins there follows "a time of trouble such as never has been since there was a nation." You can see how fully this agrees with what Jesus said in Matthew 24: "Then shall be great tribulation such as has never been since the beginning of the world until now, no, and never shall be," (Matthew 24:21). It will be an unprecedented time of trouble on the earth. It will be both the worst and the last of Israel's times of trouble. Anyone who visits Israel these days cannot help but be impressed with the industriousness of the Jewish nation, the amazing way they have replanted the land, and the hopes of the Jewish people for peace and an opportunity to live their own lives in their own nation. Yet anyone who knows the Bible knows that the greatest time of trouble they have ever faced is still ahead, worse even than their trials under Hitler. Jeremiah also describes this for us in Chapter 30, Verses 4-7:
These are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah: "Thus says the Lord: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace. Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale?' Alas! that day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob (Israel); yet he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30:4-7)
That agrees exactly with what Daniel is told. When Michael stands up there shall be a time of trouble, and yet, "your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name is found written in the book." Throughout this time of distress there will be a remnant of Israel, a persecuted minority (we are used to hearing about such these days) who will be kept safely through the time of peril. That brings us to Verse 2 of Chapter 12:
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)
The Old Testament does not say much about the resurrection of the dead. Though it is a very rare occurrence, the idea is there, and this is one of the few places where it clearly speaks of resurrection. At the time when Michael stands up and the people of Israel and the whole earth go through the time of great tribulation, there will also be a resurrection of the dead.
The New Testament gives us further details. There is a resurrection that will occur when the Lord Jesus comes for his church. "The dead in Christ rise first," Paul tells us (in 1 Thessalonians 4:16b). This is possibly the same resurrection as that in Daniel 12. Or Daniel 12 may refer to another resurrection which will occur at the end of the tribulation. But in either event, it is clearly a selective resurrection.
Not everyone is raised from the dead at this time. The angel tells Daniel, "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." Evidently it is a resurrection only of those who are righteous, who know the Lord. We must read this very carefully. The Hebrew words that are translated here, "some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt," ought to be read: "These (who are risen) shall be to everlasting life, and those (the ones who do not arise), shall be to shame and everlasting contempt."
Before the last group is raised there will come a thousand years, as the book of Revelation makes clear. We shall not spend time on these details but simply point this out before we go along. Then, Verse 3:
"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)
These are the last words of the vision. They point out the glory and honor that God has reserved for those who are faithful during this time of trial and tribulation. There will be two kinds: those who are wise (literally, "the teachers," those who teach others), and those who witness, who turn many to righteousness. Because of their faithfulness God will honor them in this way. They shall shine out like the brightness of the firmament, and like the stars forever and ever. That is the end of the vision. The next words are an admonition to Daniel. The angel tells him:
"But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4)
This verse has puzzled many people. They ask, "What does it mean that Daniel was told to seal up the book?" Many have taken this to mean that in some way the book of Daniel is rendered incapable of being understood; that the prophecies given Daniel are couched in such strange forms and weird language that no one can really understand them; the riddle can never be unveiled until we arrive at the actual end of days.
But that is not what it means. As a matter of fact, Daniel is not a difficult book to understand. Much of it is as simple and easy to understand as a child's reading book. It is made up of simple stories. What this verse means is that these words to Daniel are concerning the book from which he was reading, not the one which he was writing. Now what book is that? We must get back to the start of the vision to understand that. In Chapter 10, Verse 21, the angel appeared to Daniel and said,
"But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth:" (Daniel 10:21)
Then in Chapter 11, Verse 2, he says,
"And now I will show you the truth." (Daniel 11:2a)
It would appear that the angel had a book in front of him from which he reads the great events contained in the vision; a book which is the symbol of God's foreknowledge of all human events. All that occurs in history is known to God long before it ever takes place, and it is symbolized by the book from which the angel reads to Daniel. He has read to a certain place and now he says, "Daniel, this is all I'm going to read to you. Shut up the words, and seal the book for this is all I will show to you now." He means, "We have come to the end, your work is finished; this is all that will be revealed to you now." So this has nothing to do with the understanding of the book of Daniel. In fact, the words which Daniel had seen in the book were given in order that they might be understood. The angel simply means, "We have come now to the end of the period of revelation to you about these matters." But the latter part of this verse has also intrigued many.
"Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4b)
Unquestionably the angel is here describing that which will happen until the time of the end is reached. What will occur before then? The angel says, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." That can be taken in two ways:
Some have taken it as a prediction of the present revolution in transportation and knowledge which is so characteristic of our own day. It anticipates this sudden amazing explosion of knowledge that has come in the last century or so. As you know, for thousands of years, methods of transportation were scarcely improved. Then man invented the steam engine and marvel followed upon marvel. The speed of transportation increased until now men are traveling eighteen thousand miles an hour and that is just the beginning. Along with this has come a fantastic increase in general knowledge that has produced our modern technological civilization. Many feel this is what the verse refers to.
Perhaps it does mean that. But I rather think it is much more likely that it refers to an increase in the knowledge of the book of Daniel. Many take it this way because it is in connection with the sealing up of the book that this is said. It would then mean "Many shall run to and fro throughout this vision." It would refer to an exhaustive investigation of the vision. Men shall investigate and carefully scrutinize the prophecies of Daniel, and the knowledge of the book shall increase as people study it through.
But perhaps something further should be said. Oftentimes what appears to be two different interpretations is not a case of either/or, but a case of both/and -- they both are true. It seems likely that that is the case here. There will be many studying the book of Daniel and prophecy in general, and the knowledge of prophecy will increase through the years as we approach the end. But because of that increase of knowledge in prophetic matters, there shall also break out an increase of knowledge in other matters, including transportation and general scientific knowledge.
That conclusion is not as foolish as it may seem. It can be demonstrated that the knowledge of men in secular matters is directly related to an understanding of the revelation of God. Any student of history knows that after the fifth century of this era, Europe drifted into a period of somnolence, ignorance, darkness, and mental torpor that even secular writers refer to as the "Dark Ages." Strangely enough, that period coincided with the removal of the Scriptures from the understanding of the common people. When the Scriptures were no longer available, men did not know much about life. But about the time of the dawn of the Reformation, even before Luther, but also including him, there came a reawakening that is called "the Renaissance," the rebirth of knowledge. It followed immediately upon the restoration of the Scriptures to the people and the restored knowledge of the Word of God.
Then about the middle of the nineteenth century -- and not until then -- there came a reawakened interest in prophecy. This can be traced very clearly in history. The Reformers did not deal much with prophetic passages; they were concerned about other issues. But about the middle of the nineteenth century, in England and other places, prophetic truth came to light again. Christians began to study predictive passages earnestly, and great conventions were held to propagate prophetic truths. It was also at that time that knowledge began to increase. The vast explosion of modern knowledge broke upon men as a result. I do not know how to prove that, but it is most interesting to note the connection of these things. There are hidden secrets of life that we have not yet begun to understand. One of them is the strange connection within the spirit of man between his knowledge of God and the rest of his life. Here is, perhaps, one very remarkable instance of how that connection has been demonstrated in a most practical way.
In Verses 5-7 we have a question-and-answer period that follows the vision. That is a common procedure in these days. We think we have discovered something new when we follow a lecture with a time for questions and answers. We call it "dialog," but here it is in the book of Daniel.
Then I Daniel looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. And I said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, "How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?" The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven; and I heard him swear by him who lives for ever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished. (Daniel 12:5-7)
Do you remember how the vision began? Daniel saw a man clothed in linen, with a bright countenance, standing by the river. Now at the end he sees two angels with him. He asks the man clothed in linen. "How long will it be until these things are over?" If you have carefully followed the character of the vision. you can understand Daniel's question. It is a time of trouble for Daniel's people such as they have never passed through before. Daniel is troubled by this and he identifies with them, and asks, "How long will it be? How long till the end of these amazing things?" The man clothed in linen (who is the Lord Jesus), raises his right hand to indicate the solemnity of his words as a guarantee. It is much as it was in the days of his flesh when he used to add the words, "Truly, truly I say to you." Here he guarantees it with an upraised hand. "When these things begin," he says, they will run for "a time, two times, and half a time."
We have understood already from Daniel that this means three and a half years. A "time" is a year. When they are finished, the power of the holy people, the Jews, will be shattered. That is very significant. That means that Israel is going to have increased power in world affairs. They will have remarkable power, a power so impressive that the Western nations, the confederacy of the West, shall make a covenant with them. It will be power that will permit them to dominate Middle East affairs. But at the end of this three and a half year period their power will be shattered. They will be broken, defeated, crushed as they have never been before. The end of the week accomplishes the breakup of the power of Israel, and they will be cast back utterly upon the God who loves them. At this point Daniel interrupts the man clothed in linen, in Verses 8-10:
I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, "O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things?" He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand." (Daniel 12:8-10)
Daniel wants more information. He says, "Lord, I don't understand what you mean about 'the shattering of the power of the holy people.'" But the man clothed in linen says, "That's all right, Daniel. Remember, there is to be no more revelation to you out of the book. The book is closed; I can't tell you any more." Then he suggests that it will be necessary to study what is already given, and from that there will be a most fascinating result: "Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand."
This is all with reference to the book of Daniel, in which he had written what was revealed. Many shall read it, study it, and search it through, and it will have a very interesting three-fold effect upon them:
First, they will interact with the book. They will purify themselves by reading the cleansing word of God. God's word is always a cleansing agent. Read it and be purified within. Second, they will act upon the word they read and thus make themselves white, i.e., their outer life will become cleansed, whitened. And the result of that will be, they will be refined. They will become better people. This is always true with the word of God, if men act upon it.
But, he says, there is also another class of persons who shall read and study the book but they will not understand, and they shall do wickedly. The wicked shall do wickedly. Read that very carefully. It does not say that such people are wicked because they do wickedly. That is what we think wicked people are: people who do nasty, wicked things. Because they do nasty things, we say they are wicked people. But that is not what the Bible says. It says the wicked are not wicked because they do wicked things; but they do wicked things because they are already wicked.
What is it, then, to be wicked? It refers to someone who will not listen to God, someone who does not pay attention to him but who thinks he knows it all himself. Someone who, in pigheaded self-sufficiency says, "I don't need you, God." That is a wicked person. The wicked person is one who says, "I can get along without you, God." They are wicked in thought first, and because of that they do wicked things. Their deeds become wicked because their thoughts are already wicked. This is the result, Daniel is told, of studying the book.
Then the last word comes. The man clothed in linen resumes what he is saying to Daniel before his interruption.
"And from the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But go your way till the end; and you shall rest, and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days." (Daniel 12:11-13)
From the time when the last desecration of the temple takes place, in the middle of the seven year period which constitutes the seventieth week of Daniel, from that time, says the man in linen, there shall be twelve hundred and ninety days. Three and a half years is twelve hundred and sixty days, so this is an additional thirty days beyond that. We are not told what it points to. Perhaps it is something involved in the cleansing of the land after the return of the Lord. Then he says, "Blessed is he who waits and comes to the three hundred and thirty-five days," which would be an additional forty-five days, or seventy-five days altogether, beyond the twelve hundred and sixty days of the great tribulation. All we can do is surmise that this additional period introduces the day of the millennium, the golden age of earth, when God sets up his final kingdom and righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. That will be a blessed time indeed.
But Daniel is told now, "Go your way. You shall rest (that means he will die), but then you shall rise again and stand in your allotted place at the end of the days." The "end of the days" is evidently a description of the whole period we call the millennium, a thousand years, the last great period of time upon the earth. Daniel will be there. He is promised that. He will have a part in it as a resurrected being. He will not be forgotten of God, but will stand in his place at the end of the days. As we look back across the intervening centuries, Daniel is but a dim figure in the history of the past. Yet, so sure is God's word, so certain is his promise, that we can confidently look forward to meeting Daniel some day and finding out the work God gives him to do in the days to come. Just as Peter, James, and John saw Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Lord Jesus, so we are given a glimpse here of the work that God has for those who will appear again upon the earth.
Well, that is the close of the book. There is but one question that comes before us at this point. We must ask ourselves, "What has been my reaction to this book? Has it bored me, or has it purified me? Have I reacted to it as it was intended I should do, or has it frightened me, and turned me away? Has it judged me, or have I been judging it? Have I been saying, "You know, you can't trust these old prophecies. They don't amount to anything. No one knows whether they are true or not." Have I been sitting in judgment on the book of Daniel, or has the book of Daniel been sitting in judgment over me, searching out the mistaken convictions of my heart and encouraging me to grasp the great things that God is preparing for those he loves? Has it opened my eyes, or has it closed my heart?
It has done one or the other to each of us. What has it done to you? I must leave that question with you. May the words of this book, the greatness of its contents, the revelation of its life to come, strengthen us and help us as it was intended to do, that we might understand the days in which we live. That's my prayer. (from http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/daniel/0369.html)
Details of Fulfilled Historical Events in Daniel 11
11:4. A few years after Alexander's death, his kingdom was divided among his four generals (cf. 8:22); Seleucus (over Syria and Mesopotamia), Ptolemy (over Egypt), Lysimacus (over Thrace and portions of Asia Minor), and Cassander (over Macedonia and Greece). This division was anticipated through the four heads of the leopard (7:6) and the four prominent horns on the goat (8:8). Alexander founded no dynasty of rulers; since he had no heirs, his kingdom was divided and the empire was marked by division and weakness. (2) The conflict between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids (11:5-20). The Ptolemies who ruled over Egypt, were called the kings "of the South." The Seleucids, ruling over Syria, north of Israel, were called the kings "of the North." This section (vv. 5-20) gives many details of the continuous conflict between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids during which the land of Israel was invaded first by one power and then by the other.
11:5. The strong king of the South was Ptolemy I Soter, a general who served under Alexander. He was given authority over Egypt in 323 B.C. and proclaimed king of Egypt in 304. The commander referred to in verse 5 was Seleucus I Nicator, also a general under Alexander, who was given authority to rule in Babylon in 321. But in 316 when Babylon came under attack by Antigonus, another general Seleucus sought help from Ptolemy I Soter in Egypt. After Antigonus' defeat in 312, Seleucus returned to Babylon greatly strengthened. He ruled over Babylonia, Media, and Syria, and assumed the title of king in 305. Thus Seleucus I Nicator's rule was over far more territory than Ptolemy I Soter's.
11:6. Ptolemy I Soter died in 285 B.C. and Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Ptolemy's son, ruled in Egypt (285-246). Meanwhile Seleucus was murdered in 281 and his son Antiochus I Soter ruled till 262. Then Seleucus' grandson Antiochus II Theos ruled in Syria (262-246). Ptolemy II and Antiochus II were bitter enemies but finally (after some years) they entered into an alliance in about 250. This alliance was sealed by the marriage of Ptolemy II's daughter Berenice to Antiochus II. This marriage, however, did not last, for Laodice, whom Antiochus had divorced in order to marry Berenice, had Berenice killed (she was handed over). Laodice then poisoned Antiochus II and made her son, Seleucus II Callinicus, king (246-227).
11:7-8. Berenice's brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221), succeeded his father and set out to avenge the death of his sister Berenice. He was victorious over the Syrian army (the king of the North), put Laodice to death, and returned to Egypt with many spoils.
11:9-10. After this humiliating defeat, Seleucus II Callinicus (the king of the North) sought to invade Egypt but was unsuccessful. After his death (by a fall from his horse) he was succeeded by his son, Seleucus II Soter (227-223 B.C), who was killed by conspirators while on a military campaign in Asia Minor. Seleucus Ill's brother, Antiochus III the Great, became the ruler in 223 at 18 years of age and reigned for 36 years (till 187).
The two sons (Seleucus III and Antiochus III) had sought to restore Syria's lost prestige by military conquest, the older son by invading Asia Minor and the younger son by attacking Egypt. Egypt had controlled all the territory north to the borders of Syria which in. eluded the land of Israel. Antiochus III succeeded in driving the Egyptians back to the southern borders of Israel in his campaign in 219-217.
11:11-13. The king of the South in this verse was Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-204 B.C.). He was the one driven back by Antiochus III the Great (cf. comments on v. 10). Ptolemy IV came to meet Antiochus III at the southern borders of Israel Ptolemy IV was initially successful in delaying the invasion of Antiochus (Ptolemy slaughtered many thousands). But after a brief interruption Antiochus returned with another army (much larger) and turned back the king of the South.
11:14-17. Syria was not Egypt's only enemy, for Philip V of Macedonia joined with Antiochus III against Egypt. Many Jews (your own people, i.e., Daniel's people, the Jews; ("your people" in 9:24; 10:14) also joined Antiochus against Egypt. Perhaps the Jews hoped to gain independence from both Egypt and Syria by joining the conflict, but their hopes were not realized.
Antiochus then sought to consolidate control over Israel from which he had expelled the Egyptians. The fortified city seems to refer to Sidon which Antiochus captured in 203 B.C. Antiochus III continued his occupation and by 199 had established himself in the Beautiful Land (cf. 8:9; 11:41). Antiochus sought to bring peace between Egypt and Syria by giving his daughter to marry Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt. But this attempt to bring a peaceful alliance between the two nations did not succeed (v. 17).
11:18-19. Antiochus III then turned his attention to Asia Minor in 197 B.C. and Greece in 192. However, Antiochus did not succeed because Cornelius Scipio (a commander) was dispatched from Rome to turn Antiochus back. Antiochus returned to his own country in 188 and died a year later. Antiochus III the Great had carried on the most vigorous military campaigns of any of Alexander's successors, but his dream of reuniting Alexander's empire under his authority was never realized.
11:20. Antiochus III's son Seleucus IV Philopator (187-176 B.C.) heavily taxed his people to pay Rome, but he was poisoned (destroyed. . . not in . . . battle) by his treasurer Heliodorus.
(3) Invasion by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (11:21-35). These verses describe Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a son of Antiochus III the Great. This one Seleucid who ruled from 175--163 B.C. is given as much attention as all the others before him combined. He is the little horn of Daniel 8:9-12, 23-25. A long section (11:21-35) is devoted to him not only because of the effects of his invasion on the land of Israel, but more so because he foreshadows the little horn (king) of 7:8 who in a future day will desecrate and destroy the land of Israel.
11:21-22. Antiochus IV is introduced as a contemptible person. He took to himself the name Epiphanes which means "the Illustrious One." But he was considered so untrustworthy that he was nicknamed Epimanes which means "the Madman." The throne rightly belonged to Demetrius Soter, a son of Seleucus IV Philopator, but Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized the throne and had himself proclaimed king. Thus he did not come to the throne by rightful succession; he seized it through intrigue. He was accepted as ruler because he was able to turn aside an invading army, perhaps the Egyptians. He also deposed Onias III, the high priest, called here a prince of the covenant.
11:23-24. After his military victories, Antiochus Epiphanes' prestige and power rose with the help of a comparatively small number of people. He evidently sought to bring peace to his realm by redistributing wealth, taking from the rich and giving to his followers.
11:25.27. After Antiochus consolidated his kingdom, he moved against Egypt, the king of the South, in 170. Antiochus was able to move his army from his homeland to the very border of Egypt before he was met by the Egyptian army at Pelusium near the Nile Delta. In this battle the Egyptians had a large. . . army but were defeated and Antiochus professed friendship with Egypt. The victor and the vanquished sat at a table together as though friendship had been established, but the goal of both to establish peace was never realized for they both were deceptive.
11:28. Antiochus carried great wealth back to his homeland from his conquest. On his return he passed through the land of Israel. After his disappointment in Egypt (he had hoped to take all of Egypt but failed) he took out his frustrations on the Jews by desecrating the temple in Jerusalem. Evidently he opposed (set his heart. . . against) the entire Mosaic system (the holy covenant). After desecrating the temple, he returned to his own country.
11:29-30a. Two years later (in 168) Antiochus moved against Egypt (the South) again. As he moved into Egypt, he was opposed by the Romans who had come to Egypt in ships from the western coastlands (lit., "ships of Kittim"; (NIV marg., i.e., Cyprus). From the Roman senate Popillius Laenas took to Antiochus a letter forbidding him to engage in war with Egypt. When Antiochus asked for time to consider, the emissary drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and demanded that he give his answer before he stepped out of the circle. Antiochus submitted to Rome's demands for to resist would be to declare war on Rome. This was a humiliating defeat for Antiochus Epiphanes (he will lose heart) but he had no alternative but to return to his own land.
11:30b-32. For a second time (cf. v. 28) Antiochus took out his frustration on the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and their temple. He vented his fury against the holy covenant, the entire Mosaic system (cf. v. 28), favoring any renegade Jews who turned to help him (cf. v. 32). He desecrated the temple and abolished the daily sacrifice. Antiochus sent his general Apollonius with 22,000 soldiers into Jerusalem on what was purported to be a peace mission. But they attacked Jerusalem on the Sabbath, killed many people, took many women and children as slaves, and plundered and burned the city.
In seeking to exterminate Judaism and to Hellenize the Jews, he forbade the Jews to follow their religious practices (including their festivals and circumcision), and commanded that copies of the Law be burned. Then he set up the abomination that causes desolation. In this culminating act he erected on December 16, 167 B.C. an altar to Zeus on the altar of burnt offering outside the temple, and had a pig offered on the altar. The Jews were compelled to offer a pig on the 25th of each month to celebrate Antiochus Epiphanes' birthday. Antiochus promised apostate Jews (those who. . . violated the covenant; cf. v. 30) great reward if they would set aside the God of Israel and worship Zeus, the god of Greece. Many in Israel were persuaded by his promises (flattery) and Worshiped the false god. However, a small remnant remained faithful to God, refusing to engage in those abominable practices. Antiochus IV died insane in Persia in 163 B.C. (cf. comments on this Antiochus in 8:23-25.)
11:33-35. The Jews who refused to submit to Antiochus' false religious system were persecuted and martyred for their faith. The word fall (vv. 33-34), literally "stumble" (kasal), refers to severe suffering on the part of many and death for others. This has in view the rise of the Maccabean revolt. Mattathias, a priest, was the father of five sons. (One of them, Judas, became well known for refurbishing and restoring the temple in late 164 B.C. He was called Judas Maccabeus, "the Hammerer.") In 166, Mattathias refused to submit to this false religious system. He and his sons fled from Jerusalem to the mountains and began the Maccabean revolt. At first only a few Jews joined them. But as their movement became popular, many joined them, some out of sincere motives and some from false motives. The suffering that the faithful endured served to refine and purify them. This time of persecution was of short duration. It had previously been revealed to Daniel that the temple would be desecrated for 1,150 days (8:14; see comments on 8:23-25). Here Daniel was assured that this persecution would run its course and then be lifted, for its end will still come at the appointed time.
(Walvoord and Zuck, Bible Knowledge Commentary)