Forum Class Daniel #8, July 4, 2004

The Last Great World War (Daniel 11:36-12:13)

[GAP after Daniel 11 verse 35--"the great parenthesis"--extending from the time of the Maccabees to the end of the present age we live in now. Events in the end time are picked up at verse 36.]

11:36 "Then the king [this man may be compared to the "little horn," of Daniel 8:9ff, a Jewish false Messiah, headquartered in Jerusalem, Paul's "man of sin." He is the second beast in Revelation 13] shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods [Yahweh], and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 "He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. 38 "But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses;

[the "god of forces" refers us to the last Roman political/military Caesar, described in Daniel 7:24ff. This man is the first beast in Revelation 13, aka the "beast out of the sea."]

"And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon [Satan] who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. [3.5 years] Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:2-8)

and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. 39 "Thus he [Beast #2, the false messiah] shall act against the strongest fortresses [forces, Middle Eastern nations] with [the help of] a foreign god, [Beast #1, the Roman leader] which [whom] he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. [i.e., divide up the land of Israel which God gave to Abraham].

Note: The appearance of this false prophet in the [Third] temple in Jerusalem, triggers the great tribulation period:

"Therefore when you [believing Jews in Jerusalem] see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. "Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. "And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:15-22)

"Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, [in Jerusalem] showing himself [claiming] that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:3-4)

"Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth [i.e., the land of Israel] , and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast [the Roman Caesar] in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, [placed in the temple in Jerusalem] so that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is six hundred and sixty-six." (Revelation 13:11-18)

11:40 "At the time of the end [a clear reference to the end-time] the king of the South [Egypt] shall attack him [the false Messiah in Jerusalem]; and the king of the North [Syria, Russia, and powers from the North] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he [the king of the North] shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.

41 "He [the king of the North] shall also enter the Glorious Land, [Israel] and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon [modern Jordan]. [In agreement with Ray Stedman, I take this Northern invasion to be that described in Ezekiel 38-39]

42 "He [the king of the North] shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 "He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.

44 "But news from the east [the kings of the East, (Rev. 16:12)] and the north shall trouble him;

[Perhaps an invasion into Israel by Western forces under the Roman beast, perhaps landing at Haifa? A repeat of Pompilius' intervention against Antiochus Epiphanes IV?]

therefore he [the king of the North] shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many [as did Antiochus Epiphanes IV when Roman general Pompilius stopped him and turned him back after his third invasion attempt of Egypt].

45 "And he [the king of the North] shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas, [between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean] and the glorious holy mountain [Jerusalem]; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him. [the Roman Caesar and his armies, and the other armies of the world, and the false prophet are overthrown by Jesus, at the appearing of Jesus and His armies, Revelation 19:11-21) [The armies of the North will be dealt with supernaturally by God as described in Ezekiel 38-39, and in Rev. 19.]

"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, "that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the [Roman] beast was captured, and with him the false prophet [the man of sin] who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest [of the invading armies] were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh." (Revelation 19:11-21)

12:1 "At that time Michael [the archangel] shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people [Israel]; And there shall be a time of trouble, [the great tribulation. Matt. 24:15-22] Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people [Israel] shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book [i.e., the elect, Zech. 12-14].

2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

4 "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." 5 Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?" 7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; [3.5 years] and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.

8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" 9 And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 "Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.

11 "And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, [the temple sacrifices are stopped] and the abomination of desolation [the image of the beast] is set up, [in the temple] there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. [an additional 30 days] 12 "Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. [an additional 75 days beyond the tribulation] 13 "But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."

Note: The interval of 30 days after the end of the tribulation may be the time for the sheep and goat judgment of the nations and for rewards. The interval of 75 days after the tribulation may mark the actual beginning of the thousand year rule of Christ on earth, i.e., the Millennium.

The Adventures of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, (DANIEL 11:2I-35)

(Notes by Gleason Archer): Verses 21-35 are devoted to the career of the tyrannical oppressor who did his utmost to destroy the Jewish religion altogether. He previously appeared in 8:9-12, 23-25 as the sinister "little horn" who will suspend the worship of God in the Jerusalem temple. Now he is introduced as a despicable tyrant (nibzeh, "contemptible person") who will shed much blood and enjoy power for a time.

Verse 21 states that this tyrant "has not been given the honor of royalty." The young son of Seleucus IV, Demetrius I, was next in line to receive the crown. But since he was still held as a hostage in Rome, it was deemed best to put his uncle Antiochus IV--the second son of Antiochus the Great--in charge of the government as prince regent. But Antiochus was determined to set aside his nephew's claims altogether even though he was already in his twenties and quite competent to rule. So Antiochus curried favor with governmental leaders and, by promises of promotion and large favors in return for their support, managed to secure approval for succession to the throne vacated by his poisoned brother. Fortunately for Demetrius, he was still being held in Rome; so he was safe for the time being from assassination by his uncle's agents. Later on he was able to make good his claim to the throne, for he left Rome to lead an army against the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, Antiochus V (Eupator), in 162.

As for Epiphanes, that "contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty," he converted his regency into royalty soon after 175 B.C. and launched his own career as an ambitious and vigorous leader. 1t should be observed that the title "Epiphanes" ("the Illustrious One") also carries the meaning of "very evident" or "manifest." From his coins we know that he linked up this Epiphanes with the added title Theas ("God"). Thus the two in combination meant "Illustrious God," or else "God Manifest." Bearing in mind his role as a type of the Antichrist, or Beast of the last days (who appears in chapter 7 as the "little horn," arising from the fourth kingdom), it becomes particularly meaningful to read of that future antitype in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: "The man of lawlessness. . . [who] opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, and even sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God." Not only did Antiochus enthrone himself for adoration by the Jews as he sat in the court of the desecrated Jerusalem temple (in 168 B.C.), but he also claimed divine honors for himself on every major coin that he minted. (Many of his detractors, however, referred to him as Epimanes ["madman"] rather than Epiphanes; cf. Polybius 26.1.1.)

22-24 Verse 22 introduces us to the brilliantly successful commencement of Antiochus Epiphanes' reign, as he took up anew the struggle with Ptolemaic Egypt. 1t was Epiphanes' policy to throw his intended victims off guard by offering them his friendship and alliance. Then he would maneuver for an advantageous position till he could catch them by surprise. So it was with Ptolemy VII (Philometor), who had ascended the throne in 181 B.C. at the age of six. His mother, Cleopatra (daughter of Antiochus the Great), governed as queen regent till her death. But after he assumed power as king, he determined to recapture the regions of Palestine and Phoenicia that had been lost to Antiochus Ill. At first Ptolemy VII's invasion met with considerable success, for he had challenged Antiochus with a large and well-equipped army. But eventually he encountered a serious reverse and became a prisoner of Antiochus Epiphanes.

At this turn of events, the Egyptians gave up hope of regaining their king and decided to appoint his young brother Physcon as king in his place. On learning of this, Epiphanes craftily intervened on behalf of Ptolemy Philometor, his royal prisoner, and mounted an expeditionary force against Physcon's government in order to reestablish Philometor on his throne-now as Antiochus's ally rather than as his adversary. So as the price of his help in expelling Physcon, Antiochus made a treaty of friendship and alliance with Philometor aimed at obtaining a foothold in Egypt itself and ultimately uniting the two kingdoms under his own authority. The seriousness of this aim is attested by the issue of coinage (in the large and medium-sized bronzes, at least) that bore the same types as the corresponding Ptolemaic coinage (the head of Zeus on the obverse and the Ptolemaic eagle on the reverse) but with the legend "King Antiochus, God Manifest" rather than the usual Egyptian "Ptolemy the King." Though these Egyptian-type coins were presumably used in the Seleucid territory rather than in Egypt itself, they at least served to suggest his potential claims to the Ptolemaic domains. In point of fact Antiochus had succeeded in penetrating Egypt itself all the way to Memphis. which he managed to capture, along with the person of Philometor himself.

Later on, however, Antiochus's alliance with Philometor wore so thin that his reestablished protégé decided to make peace with Ptolemy Physcon, his defeated brother, because he felt he needed his help in dislodging Antiochus's troops from the border fortress of Pelusium.

Having made Physcon his associate king, Ptolemy Philometor was able to raise a considerable armed force for the expulsion of the Seleucid army. But no sooner did Epiphanes learn of this development than he again marched against Egypt, intending to subdue it once and for all. But this effort was forestalled by the intervention of the Roman fleet, which had been hurriedly dispatched to Alexandria in response to the urgent request of the embattled Ptolemies. The aggressive Roman commander Popilius Laenas met Antiochus marshaling his hosts for a siege of Alexandria and informed him that the Roman government ordered him to quit Egypt immediately or face the consequences of war with Rome. Remembering what had happened to his father at the Battle of Magnesia and recalling also his years as a young hostage in Roman captivity, it did not take Antiochus very long to give way before this mandate-especially after Popilius drew a circle around him with his staff and ordered him to make his decision before he stepped outside it. Even though Antiochus had for a time succeeded in destroying the power of "the prince of the covenant" (v.22)--Ptolemy Philometor--the remaining verses predicting his eventual failure found their fulfillment in this humiliation that took place near Alexandria in 169 B.C.

Verses 23--24 describe the developments already set forth above: "After coming to an agreement with him [i.e.. Philometor], he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people [his initial invasion had been made by a small force] be will rise to power." The phrase "richest provinces" (mismanne medinah) apparently refers not only to Egypt itself, as described above, but also to the eastern provinces all the way to Bactria, where successful campaigns were conducted by Eucratides, Antiochus's general. In 166, Antiochus conducted a full-scale muster of his armies at Daphnae. just outside Antioch, in celebration of the tenth anniversary of his rule--even after his expulsion from Egypt by Popilius Laenas.

25-28 Verses 25-26 refer more particularly to the earlier invasion of Egypt in 170, after Ptolemy had attempted an attack on Palestine. The king of the South's great army did not make him invincible because "of the plots devised against him" by Antiochus and his agents in Egypt. "Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him [i.e., Ptolemy Philometor]; his army will be swept away" probably refers to negotiations carried on by the two victors at the banquet table, apparently after Physcon had been defeated and expelled from Egypt, with the help of Antiochus's troops. At this stage these ostensibly cordial allies were already plotting against each other. Quite clearly "the end" (v.27) pertained to the permanent suspension of Antiochus's campaign to annex Egypt to his domains; it is explained by v.28: "The king of the North will return to his own country [i.e., to his capital of Antioch] with great wealth [from plundering Physcon's army]; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant [berit qodesh]. He will take action against it and then return to his own country." The significant term here is "the holy covenant." Apparently this does not refer to the covenant between Antiochus and Ptolemy VII--as we have taken "prince of the covenant" in v.22 to mean, though some interpret that phrase as referring to the Jewish high priest. It rather seems to signify the religious establishment in Jerusalem, or even the monotheistic Jewish population as a whole. It is here that the clash between Antiochus and the faith of Israel begins on a serious level.

The original friction had arisen over the question of the high priesthood. It seems that early in his reign, Antiochus IV had been approached by a younger member of the high priestly family named Jason, who promised the king that if he would depose from office the current, legitimate high priest, Onias Ill, then he--Jason--would pay the king a handsome bribe for this service. Antiochus was happy to accede to this request; Onias was removed and Jason installed in his place. But once the precedent of imperial interference had been set, still another brother, Menelaus, offered Antiochus a bribe still larger than Jason's if he would be installed in place of Jason. Antiochus had no scruples about supplanting one rascal by another, so long as he himself was enriched in the process. So in 172 B.C. Menelaus took Jason's place and set about selling some of the votive offerings and golden utensils of the temple to raise the cash necessary for the bribe. At this sacrilege the godly high priest Onias, though deposed, earnestly protested and so angered Menelaus that he had Onias killed. But this murder so angered the populace of Jerusalem that they became bitter against Menelaus and sent representatives to Antiochus himself to accuse Menelaus and his wicked brother Lysimachus. Antiochus did execute Andronicus, the agent of Menelaus who had murdered Onias. But a little later a courtier Menelaus had bribed persuaded Antiochus to act against the Jerusalemites. So instead of punishing Menelaus as he deserved, the king had the Jerusalem representatives put to death in Tyre, where the whole matter was being adjudicated (cf. 2 Macc 4:30-50).

Later on (167 B.C.) Antiochus, following his bitter disappointment in Egypt, went and encamped near Jerusalem. He had a score to settle with Jason, who had taken the city in an effort to overthrow Menelaus. Acting on a false report that Antiochus had died in Egypt, Jason had organized a regiment of a thousand armed supporters for a coup d'etat. He massacred a large number of citizens and shut Menelaus up in the Jerusalem citadel. Hearing of this, Antiochus decided to suppress the Jewish religion altogether and to exact stern reprisal from those who had taken up arms against his government. So he marched into Jerusalem with overwhelming forces, released Menelaus, and conducted a massacre in which eighty thousand men, women, and children were put to the sword (2 Macc 5:11-14). Then he profaned the temple, accompanied by the despicable Menelaus, and robbed it of its golden vessels and other sacred objects valued at eighteen hundred talents (vv. l5-21).

The date of this desecration and pillage of Jerusalem was 16 December 168--a day of special significance, in view of the fact that exactly three years later the patriot leader Judas Maccabaeus rededicated the temple to the worship of Yahweh, having cleansed it from all its pagan defilements. But the actual suspension of the regular morning and evening sacrifices had apparently taken place 55 or 54 days prior to the desecration of the temple itself (if our interpretation of Dan 8:14 is correct), because three years would total 1,095 or 1,096 days, and the 2,300 "evenings and mornings" (i.e., sacrifices--'olat-tamid) come out to 1,150 days. 1t seems, therefore, that during the earlier disturbances between Jason and Menelaus, the regular daily offerings were suspended, since the incumbent high priest was shut up in the Acra (Citadel) by Jason's troops. This, then, was the fulfillment of the prediction of 11:28 regarding Antiochus's "action" taken "against the holy covenant." This verse actually sums up as a single process the entire series of measures taken by Antiochus in subduing and suppressing the religious liberties of Judah, from 172 to 168 B.C.

29-30 The more exact chronology of Antiochus' s later act of desecration is set forth in these verses. The "outcome" (v.29) was different this time because he was compelled by Popilius Laenas to withdraw from Egypt altogether. From the preceding discussion, it is evident that it was the followers of Menelaus, who made no protest as Antiochus removed the holy vessels from the Holy Place of the temple, who are referred to here as "those who forsake the holy covenant." Menelaus and his followers were willing to suppress all religious scruples rather than cross the will of the tyrant who had put them in power.

31 This verse gives further details about the momentous events of December 168 B.C. The desecration was, as already described, the rifling of the sanctuary and temple treasury and the removal of all the sacred vessels. The abolition of the daily sacrifices to the Lord was now made binding by the erection in the temple of Yahweh of "the abomination that causes desolation" (siqqus mesomem). Apparently this was a statue of Jupiter or Zeus Olympius. if we may judge from the statement of 2 Maccabees 6:2 that the temple itself was to be renamed the Temple of Zeus Olympius. Pagans invariably installed an image in the inner sanctuary of any temple dedicated to the worship of that deity. Even if the actual statue was not installed in the Jerusalem temple as early as 16 December (25 Chislev) 168 B.C., we may be sure that an idolatrous altar was formally consecrated there at that time. Thus the same type of desecration overtook the second temple as befell the first temple in the evil days of Ahaz (735-715) and Manasseh (695-642), when they too had set up an idolatrous altar (by Ahaz--2 Kings 16:10-16) and images of heathen gods (by Manasseh--2 Kings 21:3-5).

Perhaps it should be added that Christ's only explicit reference to "the prophet Daniel" as being the author of the Book of Daniel occurs in the Olivet Discourse (cf. Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14). There our Lord refers to "the abomination that causes desolation" (to bdelygma tes eremoseos)--which is the exact wording of the LXX for this verse (Theod. uses ephanismemon, "done away with'--as a sinister sign of the approach of the final siege of Jerusalem in the last days. This phrase, incidentally, recurs in 12:11 (q.v.) in an end-time context as siqqus somem (Qal participle instead of Polel participle) with substantially the same meaning: "a devastating abomination" or "an abomination of a devastation."

32 Verse 32 continues the narrative of Antiochus's machinations. This tyrant was a past master in manipulating Jewish leaders who were divided in their loyalties, winning them over to his cause by glowing promises of preferment and reward. As a matter of fact, Antiochus already had as partisans for his cause a considerable number of influential leaders in Jerusalem society and politics who were convinced of the expediency of a pro-Hellenic policy. These were doubtless the group referred to in the prophecy concerning "those who have violated the covenant"--that is, their covenant relation with the Lord.

First Maccabees 1:11-15 describes how certain "transgressors of the law" gathered about them a party of collaborators who were ready to throw off their Jewish loyalties and commitment to Yahweh in their zeal to be accepted and find approval with their Syrian-Greek overlords. They therefore built a Hellenic type of gymnasium in Jerusalem (which, of course, involved their exercising naked, as the Greeks did) and even attempted to conceal their circumcision by a surgical procedure. All this was intended to ingratiate themselves with Gentile society and please their foreign rulers. This led to a serious polarization that compelled the Jews to take definite sides either for or against the collaborationist party, which somewhat resembled the Herodians of Christ's day. In some ways this defection of the would be "progressives" among the Jews themselves was an even more serious threat to the survival of Israel as a nation than the tyrannical measures of Antiochus. For it was the same kind of large-scale betrayal of their covenant obligations toward the Lord that had made inevitable the former destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity in the days of Jeremiah.

But the hope of Israel lay with the completely committed believers who preferred to risk their lives rather than betray their honor. A band of heroic patriots was stirred to action by a certain priest named Mattathias in the town of Modein. He was the father of the valiant Maccabees: Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, each of whom later became nasi' yisrael ("prince of Israel") during the victorious war of independence against the Seleucid government. These patriots, sparked by the zeal of the Hasidim movement, were the mainstay of the resistance, which opposed the pro-Seleucid Jewish compromisers as well as Antiochus and his successors. They fulfilled the prediction of v.32: "The people who know their God will firmly resist him [i.e., Epiphanes]." Their uncompromising commitment to faithful adherence to the Mosaic covenant and law resulted in the spiritual survival of the nation till the first coming of the Lord Jesus.

In their later development. some of the Hasidim ("the godly, pious, loyal ones") became the sect of the Pharisees (perusim, "separated ones") who gave their earnest attention to obeying every regulation of the Law and every oral interpretation of it that had been handed down in previous generations. Later still a smaller group broke off from the same movement and became out-and-out separatists rather than attempting like the Pharisees to reform the religious establishment from within. These were the Essenes, one group of whom made their headquarters at Qumran under the leadership of the unnamed "Teacher of Righteousness," who figured so prominently in the Qumran sectarian literature. The Essenes believed in complete separation, abjuring the rationalistic theology of the Sadducees and the materialism of the Pharisees. Such, then, were the offshoots of "the people who know their God."

33 During the persecution by Antiochus, the patriot leaders would preach to their fearful and intimidated countrymen a stirring message of repentance and wholehearted commitment to the holy standards of Moses' law and of the prophets who upheld their sanctity during the ensuing centuries. They would summon their people to trust in the promises and power of the Lord instead of bowing to the demands of the pagan tyrant who would command them to turn to idols from the living God. Thus these maskilim (lit., "men who show wisdom"; NIV, "those who are wise") would engage in a ministry of education and evangelism, as it were, among their own countrymen, urging them first to get back to God and to pattern their lives according to Scripture. Then they were to answer the call to arms and hazard their very lives for the liberation of their land from the yoke of their God-hating persecutor. Yet the patriot leaders would have to endure great hardships and danger, and many of them would lose their lives and property, as the tyrant's forces turned their swords against them and burned their fields and cities.

The fulfillment of these predictions came in 168 B.C., when the standard of revolt was raised by Mattathias, the leading priest in the city of Modein, located in the hills of the tribe of Ephraim. After killing the officer of Antiochus who had come to enforce the new decree concerning idolatrous worship, Mattathias and his five sons (John Gaddis, Simon Thassi, Judas Maccabaeus, Eleazar Avaran, and Jonathan Apphos) led a guerrilla band that fled to the hills (1 Macc 2:23-28) and attracted many adherents from various other cities in the Judean province. A large number of these original patriots died in their first engagement with the king's troops because they refused to fight in their own defense on the Sabbath, the day on which they were attacked (1 Mace 2:38). But revising their policy after this tragic slaughter, they decided they would fight even on the Sabbath, if compelled to do so. Then they engaged in vigorous attacks on all their fellow Jews who had bowed to Antiochus's ordinance and forsaken their God. Not long afterward Mattathias died, whether from illness or wounds, after entrusting the leadership of the Israelite forces to his own capable sons.

Judas Maccabaeus (for it was originally he alone that received this title of "Hammer," rather than the family as a whole) assumed the military leadership and gained a brilliant victory over the forces of Apollonius, whom be slew in battle. Judas's second triumph involved routing an even larger army under Seron. A third army of formidable proportions came down from Syria under Lysias. Antiochus's deputy, equipped with a fearsome elephant corps. Thanks to the heroism of Judas's brother Eleazer, who managed to plunge his sword into an elephant's chest before it fell on him and crushed him to death, even this mighty host was put to flight by the Maccabean forces. So the Maccabees fulfilled the predictions (cf. Micah 4:12-13 [Payne, Biblical Prophecy, p. 403] and Zech 9: 13; 10:8-9 [Payne. Biblical Prophecy, p.449).

34 This verse speaks in moderate terms of the successes achieved by these valiant warriors. Presumably the "little help" refers to the relatively small numbers of compatriots who joined the Maccabean troops after the early successes of the original guerrilla band. They saw how they kept on fighting with great courage against overwhelming odds, even though they soon lost Mattathias and many of their first leaders. And then, because one Seleucid army after another fell before their onslaught, the Maccabean troops were able to intimidate many of their fellow citizens who had previously held back from the conflict. Particularly when the Hasidim began to round up those who had collaborated with the Seleucids and put them to death (1 Macc 2:42) and Judas himself hunted out those in the various cities who had deserted scriptural standards ("the lawless," as Maccabees calls them), goodly numbers of insincere followers attached themselves to the patriot cause, hoping to save their own skins. Such supporters as these, however, proved to be of more help to the enemy than to the cause of freedom when later invasions were launched against them by the successors of Antiochus Epiphanes after his death in 164.

35 The account of the Maccabean uprising concludes with a strong emphasis on the spiritual meaning of this heroic struggle for those who risked their lives for the survival of the commonwealth of Israel. In the first instance, v.35 refers to the terrible reverse that overtook the pitifully outnumbered army of Judas himself at the battle of Mount Azotus in 161. He chose to die bravely in battle rather than save his life through a strategic retreat (1 Macc 9:1-19). After he had won this victory for King Demetrius I in 161, Bacchides followed it up with a systematic search for all Judas's leaders and supporters and did his best to wipe them out. But it was not long before the tide turned and Jonathan, Judas's brother, was able to defeat the Syrian forces and compel them to retreat to Antioch. Thus the cause of freedom was maintained through vicissitudes of defeat and success, till finally a strong Jewish kingdom was founded by John Hyrcanus, son of Simon Maccabaeus (135-105), and enlarged to its fullest extent by his warlike son Alexander Jannaeus (104-78 B.C.).

Notes: ...the prophetic passage in Zech 9:13 predicts the astonishing victory of the Maccabean heroes over the Greek overlords in terms of divine approbation and appointment. Quite clearly God was promising to use the Jewish defense forces of a coming era against Hellenic armed might--which happened only during the second century B.C. As for Heb 11:33-35, the roster of the pre-Christian heroes of the faith shifts very clearly to martyrs and warriors of the exilic and post-exilic periods. "Who shut the mouths of lions" refers to Daniel in the lions' den (Dan 6); "quenched the fury of the flames" points to the three who were thrown into Nebuchadnezzar's furnace (Dan 4). Right after these examples we read, "Who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies." This last clause evidently relates to the Maccabean freedom fighters whose arms God so signally blessed as they resisted Gentile efforts to stamp out the biblical faith. (From Gleason Archer, Daniel, in The Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 7, Zondervan 1985)

JUNE 28, 2004

Tomb of the Prophet Daniel in Iraq

Recent Travels in Iraqi Countryside:

After I sent out photos of the Ziggurat of Ur, near Abraham's ancient home a few days ago, I remembered a photo I picked up in Kirkuk last summer. It reveals the ancient burial place of Daniel. It is near the land where we were rebuilding a military base for the Iraqi's. The site in the photo produces historical data of Daniel and his life in Babylon.

It is interesting here in the actual vicinity of these ancient sites that the authenticity and history of each memorial is never questioned. The lands around these monuments and memorials in Iraq have not been commercialized over the centuries. The shepherds are still grazing their sheep; the Bedouins are still camping around the country sides. The archaeological remnants are virtually all undisturbed from normal everyday life here. These people are very "religious". It is never a question of authenticity here. It is a sacred land to them. They have their large cities like Baghdad, but they were built either around or away from the recorded history that is plentiful here.
In Mosul, we see the ancient ruins of Nineveh. It is very difficult to travel there for photos as the security is very problematic. In Irbal, I was blessed to have visited one of the oldest, if not the oldest known Christian settlement in Mesopotamia and the world itself. The Assyrian Christians founded this enclave early in the church's expansion.

Concerning monuments and pillars depicting the recorded history of Joshua and his conquests, Matthew Henry writes "Thus there are monuments still in existence, which prove that the Carthaginians were a colony of Syrians who escaped from Joshua; as also that the inhabitants of Leptis, in Africa, came originally from the Sidonians, who abandoned their country on account of the calamities with which it was overwhelmed. Procopius relates that the Phoenicians fled before the Hebrews into Africa, and spread themselves abroad as far as the pillars of Hercules; and adds, "In Numidia, where now stands the city Tigisis (Tangiers), they have erected two columns, on which, in Phoenician characters, is the following inscription: "We are the Phoenicians who fled from the face of Jesus (Joshua) the son of Naue" (Nun).
So, what does this all mean to us?

One brother once mused that "where there is not faith, there is not knowledge".

Our faith is founded in Him who given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Yet, he has also displayed His vestige here in the ancient land, another display of the integrity of His word through all generations. For he is consistent in His nature, being always faithful, in spite of our unfaithfulness., never changing for He is truly the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

We have all indeed been drawn to the Lord by His Spirit and have been saved by grace through faith. Not due the empirical evidences, but trust that God is who He has said He is and that rewards those who diligently seek Him. Yet we also know that our faith once delivered isn't founded or based on old fables or wishful thinking. It is based on fact. If Christ is not raised from the dead, we are of all most miserable and have believed in vane. Yet God has in His providence, also preserved many of His works and deeds. It is for us, joy and confirmation, but for the world, an ever present warning of His impending Justice. He is not slack concerning His promises. It is no wonder that revisionist today would seek to deny history.

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so calledThe scripture are consistent in describing that which has happened, that which is happening and that which is to come. They are open for all to examine, to see if it is so.

As our lineage has been somewhat preserved, written on the monuments, much more importantly though, it is now written on the tablets of our heart.

God has also left us some of the tangible history of His peoples and His works. It strengthens my faith, remembering His faithfulness through all generations. God has chosen to preserve much of this birth land of all civilizations and it is indeed exciting to see the history here that has been etched in the scriptures over time that will also endure for eternity. (from Posted March 30, 2004.