(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: Daniel’s Vision of “A Time Yet To Come”
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Daniel 10:1-14
Daniel was honored in the spiritual realms because he set his mind to gain understanding, and he humbled himself before the Lord his God . . .
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia [the king who encouraged the Jews to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-7)], a revelation was given to Daniel . . . Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.
“At that time, I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. [Compare John’s description of the heavenly messenger he saw in Revelation 1:12-15.]
“. . . I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
“A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, ‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
“Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. . . . Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people [the Jews] in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come. . . .’”
PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Daniel 11:2-20
The following prophecies foretold the rise and fall of pagan kings. Hindsight shows that they were amazingly accurate.
“’Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia [Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, Darius I Hystaspes (from 550 to 486 B.C.)], and then a fourth [Xerxes I (486-465)], who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will appear [Alexander the Great of Greece (336-323)], who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
“’The king of the South [Ptolemy I Solter of Egypt (323-285 B.C.)] will become strong, but one of his commanders [Seleucus I Nicator (311-280)] will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South [Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt (285-246)] will go to the king of the North [Antiochus II Theos of Syria (261-246)] to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.
“’One from her family line will arise [Bernice’s brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt (246-221 B.C.)] to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North [SeleucusII Callinicus of Syria (246-226)] and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North [Syria] will invade the realm of the king of the South [Egypt] but will retreat to his own country [Callinucus was defeated and returned to Syria]. His sons [Seleucus III Ceraunus and Antiochus III, called “the Great”] will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.
“‘Then the king of the South [Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt (221-203 B.C.)] will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North [Antiochus the Great], who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. When the army is carried off, the king of the South [Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt (203-181)] will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. For the king of the North [Antiochus] will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.
“’In those times many will rise against the king of the South [Ptolemy V]. The violent men among your own people [Jews joined the forces of Antiochus] will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. Then the king of the North [Antiochus] will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South [Ptolemy V] will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader [Antiochus controlled the Holy Land by 197 B.C.] will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land [Israel] and will have the power to destroy it. He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South [Ptolemy V]. And he will give him a daughter [Antiochus’ daughter Cleopatra I] in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander [Lucias Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus of Rome] will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him. After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more [Antiochus the Great died in battle in 187 B.C.].
“’His successor [Seleucus IV Philopator, Antiochus’ son] will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed [the victim of conspiracy], yet not in anger or in battle.’”
Sources:The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan) and Every Prophecy of the Bible by John F. Walvoord
PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: Daniel 11:21-35
Antiochus the Great was succeeded by his son, Seleucus IV Philopator. After Seleucus was killed, the throne should have been given to his young son. But Seleucus’ younger brother, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, seized power from the rightful heir by a series of intrigues and murders. And he persecuted the Jewish people throughout his entire reign (175 -164 B.C.) . . .
“’He [Antiochus IV Epiphanes] will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.
“’With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South [Ptolemy VI of Egypt]. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings [Antiochus and Ptolemy], with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it [Antiochus plundered the temple in Jerusalem and massacred many Jews (169 B.C.)] and then return to his own country.
“’At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
“’His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation [God’s altar was desecrated when Antiochus set up an altar to his pagan god Zeus.] With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
“’Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. [The altar of the temple was rededicated in 165 B.C.] When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.’”
Sources: The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan) and Every Prophecy of the Bible by John F. Walvoord
PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Daniel 11:36-45
Verses 36-45 give details that do not fit what was known of Antiochus Epiphanes. Prophecy scholars believe the king described here has not yet appeared on the world stage . . .
“’The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
“’At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land [Israel]. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon [modern-day Jordan] will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain [the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.’”
Sources: The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan)
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Moses said to the Israelites: “You may ask yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22, NIV). Obviously, Daniel was not a presumptuous prophet!
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
Many claim that Daniel could not have foretold such meticulous details about the future. But those who know the Lord God and who abide in Him have no trouble believing the fulfillment of prophecy that can be proven by historical records. Are we living in the same generation as “the king who will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard of things against the God of gods”? No one knows for sure. But it’s unlikely that followers of Christ will be caught off-guard if they know about the historical connections to Daniel’s prophecies — and particularly this major prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Jesus’ disciples asked, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) The Son of God didn’t respond with a history lesson about the contemptible king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who desecrated the altar of God by erecting a statue of himself as the god Zeus.* Instead, He gave a general timeline that included mention of “the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel.” After all, the Antiochus incident was past history, and Jesus disciples wanted to know about the future. They must have really felt confused when, in 70 A.D., the second temple — built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – was completely destroyed, just as Jesus had said it would be (Matthew 24:2). And to this day it has not been rebuilt!
* “Torah observance was outlawed and the imperial cult brought into the Jewish temple itself with the erection of a statue of Antiochus as Zeus with a Hellenistic altar of sacrifice. Jews who resisted were subject to execution.”
“[The false prophet] deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast . . . and cause[d] all who refused to worship the image to be killed” (Revelation 13:14-15).