Sorting the History of the Past and the Future – Daniel 11:1-35

Evaluate the following paragraph as to when it was written and who might have penned it…

“A powerful, arrogant, and convincing little man will arise out of northern Europe. He will enthrall many with his oratory and pull together a downtrodden nation. They will grow strong and make war against all nations around them, conquering lands and crushing all who stand in their path. The evil man will rail against the historical Chosen People, and six million of them will be annihilated. Another evil dictator to the south will join with him, and a similar ethnic power of evil from the distant east will arise. All the world will be drawn into war. After four years, an alliance of nations from the western world and around the globe will push back and defeat the evil man of Europe. And the power of the people of the east will be broken by two explosions such as mankind has never before witnessed in human warfare.”

Though it is written as something that is predictive of the future, you would conclude that the details given about the history of World War II could only have been written by someone after 1945 who knew accomplished history.

That is an illustration of Daniel 11:1-35. Conservative scholars believe it was written by Daniel in the year 536 BC, as he records the interpretation of his vision about the future. But liberal scholars, who are unwilling to admit the divine inspirational element of Scripture and biblical prophecy, conclude that the detail is such that it must surely have been actually written several centuries later – after the events were known to all.

Again, like the entire book of Daniel, this is complicated stuff; and time and space do not permit an analysis of every verse. Beyond that, our goal is to write of the practical application that arises from these ancient texts.

11:1  And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.

This first verse actually goes with the material of chapter 10 and completes the thought presented there.

The Kings of the South and the North

“Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. 

This second verse of the chapter details the next four kings to follow the time in which Daniel was living in the Medo-Persian Empire. These kings – identifiable in world history – would consummate in a fourth ruler (Xerxes – ruling from 485-465 BC – King Ahasuerus in the book of Esther) who fought wars against the rising power and kingdom of Greece.

Eventually Greece would become the next world empire under the conquering power of Alexander the Great. He would have an empire unlike any other up to that time, though he would die at the age of 32. His empire was divided about his four generals as predicted previously in Daniel’s visions.

Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

These four generals (and their areas of rule) were Lysimacus (Asia Minor), Cassander (Macedonia and Greece), Ptolemy (Egypt), and Seleucus (Syria and Mesopotamia).

Daniel’s interest is in the area of Palestine and the Holy Land, which you can see is wedged between the areas of these last two generals and their dynasties. Verses 5 to 20 tell the story of the back and forth battles between them. Israel is sort of like our area of Maryland and West Virginia during the Civil War – a crossroads over which the two sides contended for the next 150 years after Alexander died.

The details of these verses are amazing when compared to known history. There is not time for us to go into it …

“The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders 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 will go to the king of the North 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 betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.

“One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North 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 will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. 10 His sons 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.

11 “Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. 12 When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. 13 For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.

14 “In those times many will rise against the king of the South. Those who are violent among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. 15 Then the king of the North will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. 16 The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it. 17 He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South. And he will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans[c] will not succeed or help him. 18 Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back on him. 19 After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more.

20 “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.

After this 150-year period of battles between the Ptolemies and the Selucids, one of the latter would arise to great power – named Antiochus Epiphanes. He is given much emphasis, not only because of his effects upon Israel at that time, but also because he foreshadows the Antichrist at the end of time – the little horn of chapter 7. The “abomination of desolation” spoken of occurred in 167 BC, when Antiochus built an altar to Zeus on the altar of offering outside the Temple in Jerusalem, and then had a pig offered upon it. His evil deeds, as well as his personal destruction, foreshadow the same thing and destiny for destruction of the Antichrist to come…

21 “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. 22 Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. 23 After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. 24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.

25 “With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26 Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. 27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.

29 “At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

33 “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 34 When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. 35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

Though there are more verses in this chapter 11, I am going to cut it off here and add the remaining verses with chapter 12 tomorrow. Up to this point, everything written about is history from our perspective. But from 11:36 and forward, it is all prophetic and in the future, even for us.

Point to take away – Is it not good to be able to know the God of the past and the God of the future, and to know Him today?!?  This chapter illustrates the sovereign hand of God over all the times and affairs of mankind. We see His work in the past and we have His promises for the future. Past, future … it is all the present to Him, as He is beyond and outside of time. Passages like this today make us stand in awe of our majestic God. Yet at the same time, this God over the universe and every detail of creation and history knows us and loves us individually. He has called us to Himself and made us His own possession. Such thoughts and truths give new perspectives to every situation and circumstance of our lives. We can have confidence, even in uncharted days and places. Wow!