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Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 11


Well, it's good to see you back this evening and to turn again to the Book of Daniel, where I invite you turn this evening. It was the year 1538 that John Calvin was forced to leave Geneva and headed to Strassburg. Eventually, if you know the story, the leaders in Geneva pled with him to return, which he did. And Calvin and his new wife, Idelette, arrived in Geneva on this very date, September 13th in the year 1541, after an absence of three and half years. His first sermon, on the next occasion, he resumed his exposition at the verse that he had left off at three and a half years before.

It's a bit how I feel tonight. The last time I preached on Daniel was March 1st, six and a half months ago, before the pandemic officially began. Before the exile, we left off in Daniel 11 and, specifically, verse 20. And believe it or not, that's where we're going to pick up again tonight.

This is one of the most amazing passages in all the Scripture. It's filled with history, but it's filled with history for a reason. If you're not a history buff, please stay tuned - and you're going to understand why this is important by the time we're done. If you are a history buff, you're in for a real treat tonight because that's the path this passage takes us down. The prophecies of Daniel 11 are so incredibly precise that it is clear, by the time we're done studying it, that there is a sovereign God who both knows and determines what will happen in the events of nations and empires. And He has revealed those things to His prophet Daniel.

This chapter, chapter 11, falls within Daniel's final vision, which, runs from chapter 10:1 all the way through the end of the book, chapter 12:13. The prophecy that's revealed, here, covers the time period that begins with Daniel, 500 years before Christ, and runs all the way to the end of human history, and to the kingdom of our Lord.

Now, here's an outline of these three chapters. First of all, and I didn't include this here, but first of all, we began by looking at chapter 10:1 through chapter 11:1, which is the introduction to Daniel's final vision; the introduction to Daniel's final vision. It allows us to see the context in which this vision came to the Prophet Daniel. But the heart of it is the content of that vision, and that begins in chapter 11:2 and runs through the end of this book. As far as what we've discovered so far, we have already considered the prophecies regarding Persia - that's verse 2. We also begun to look at the prophecies regarding Greece - that's chapter 11:3-35. That prophecy begins with a brief description of Alexander the Great in verses 3 and 4. And then it goes on, and we left off last time, with the prophecies regarding Egypt and Syria. This section is still about the Greeks, but it focuses on the history of an ongoing conflict between two of the four divisions of the empire of Alexander. Here is the focus of that division. The two great forces at work in the Middle East, after the death of Alexander, were in Syria, in the north - you can see how contemporary all of this still is - Syria in the north and Egypt in the south. So, you have Egypt in the south, which was ruled by the Ptolemies, the Ptolemy dynasty, and then you have the north, which was Syria, ruled by the Seleucid dynasty. Now, why does the Bible, here, focus on these two dynasties - these two divisions of Alexander's kingdom? It's because, if you look at the map you can see that lying between these two great kingdoms, is a tiny little land bridge - a tiny little strip of land - between the Mediterranean, on one side, and the great desert on the other - that is the land of Israel. And so, for 150 years, as the Ptolemies in the south and the Seleucids in the north fought for control of the Middle East, they fought back and forth, like a seesaw battle, across that tiny strip of land that is Israel.

The history of Egypt and Syria is divided here for us into two parts. First of all, there is Egypt's dominance over Palestine - that was from the year 323 to 199 BC. It's revealed in verses 5 through 12. And we looked at that. It was a period of relative peace for the Jews in that period of time. The second was Syria's dominance - the time in which Syria, in the north, really dominated the Middle East and specifically, Palestine, until a man named Antiochus IV. I'm going to give him his own category. So, Syria had this dominance from about 199 to 175 BC, and this is described in verses 13-20. That's what we looked at last time.

Now, I'm not going to go back over that section. There's a lot of history, a very precise history there. But I want you just to notice how it ends. Look at verse 20. Daniel 11:20: "Then in his place one will arise who will allow [send] an oppressor to pass through the Jewel of his kingdom; yet within a few days he will be broken [shattered], though not in anger nor in battle." This man, described in this verse, was a man named Seleucus IV. And he only reigned a few days and then, as it says, he was shattered. He was killed - though he wasn't killed in anger, that is, he wasn't killed by an angry mob like his father was killed, nor was he killed in battle. Instead, this man in verse 20, was actually poisoned by his Prime Minister, a man named Heliodorus. He was the Prime Minister and Tax Collector of Syria. He poisoned this man in an effort to gain the throne for himself. Now, why is that important? Because his accomplice, Heliodorus' accomplice, in poisoning this King of Syria, was one of the most notorious people in Israel's history; a man we will meet tonight. In a sense, all of the history that we discovered so far, was merely to set the stage for this man. His name was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. And he is described beginning in verse 21 all the way down through verse 35. Although he was a Syrian and could fit under the previous point, he deserves to be treated separately because of the room he's given here in the Biblical text because of his influence. We've met this guy before. He is the "little horn" we saw in Daniel 8. He became King of Syria in the year 175 BC. He was the eighth ruler of that Seleucid dynasty in the north. He reigned from 175 to 163 - just twelve short years but, oh boy, the devastation he brought in those 12 years! It's a great reminder, isn't it, how quickly politics can change and how quickly life, as we know it, can change as well.

Now, what's interesting about this is that the space that the angel, who's revealing this vision to Daniel, gives. If you'll remember, verses 2 through 20 of this chapter, covers a period of history of 355 years! But verses 21 to 35, covers a period of just 12 years. He is incredibly important in God's mind, in the biblical author's mind, Daniel, and in the mind of the angel who revealed this vision to Daniel. Why? Why does Antiochus merit so much space in Daniel's prophecy - both back in chapter 8, where we first met him and now, here, in chapter 11? For two reasons. First of all, because he plays a major role in the history of God's people. The time of the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes was one of the darkest times in the history of the nation of Israel rivaled only by what happened in the 20th century. God's people needed to know so they could be prepared and remember, during those dark and troubling days, that God was still on His throne; that He had said this was coming and that it would end.

A second reason so much space is given to this guy is he is, in fact, a precursor to the Antichrist. In both chapter 8 he precedes Antichrist and pictures the kind of person Antichrist will be, and here in chapter 11. The next paragraph is going to tell us about Antichrist who comes at the end of the age. Why are these two guys placed together? Because if you want to know what Antichrist will be like - you know there's a lot of interest in prophecy and what is going to be like? If you want to know what he's going to be like, study Antiochus. Because Antiochus is the type and Antichrist is the anti-type.

So, let's see what the angel tells Daniel about this man. Our first glimpse of Antiochus is his despicable character. Notice verse 21: "And in his place a despicable person will arise..." Despicable means worthy of being despised. And let me tell you, Antiochus was a profoundly evil man. I love what Dale Ralph Davis calls him. He says he was, "a slick and godless piece of scum". That's really accurate. He was a schemer. He was a deceiver. He was a habitual liar. He was utterly ruthless. He was responsible for countless acts of torture and for tens of thousands of deaths. He was extremely arrogant. His self-perception greatly eclipsed any real accomplishments. In fact, after Antiochus gained the throne, he gave himself a name - an official name. That name was Antiochus Theos Epiphanes. You know what that means? Antiochus God Manifested. Okay, that's a title! He was referring to himself as the Greek god, Zeus. He even put that title on coins that he had minted. You know our coins say, "In God We Trust". His said "Antiochus God Manifested". His enemies, however, didn't buy it. They sort of played with the name in Greek a bit. Instead of calling him Antiochus Epiphanes, they called him Antiochus Epimanes, which sounds similar, but it means Antiochus "The Madman" which was far more accurate. Now this man was so amazingly arrogant. Look back at chapter 8. When we met him there, chapter 8:11, he's described like this: "It [that is the horn, that is this ruler that is Antiochus] even exalted [manifested] itself [magnified itself rather] to be equal with the Commander of the army [host]". That's God Himself! In other words, Antiochus actually considered himself God's equal and he himself in opposition to Yahweh and attacked God's people. He became one of the most dangerous opponents of the worship of Yahweh in Israel's history. He was truly despicable in his character.

Next, we learn about his deceptive beginnings, his deception beginnings. Look at verse 21: "And in his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the majesty [honor] of kingship has not been conferred..." Antiochus was actually not entitled to take the throne of Syria after his older brother's death. In fact, the throne rightly belonged to the son of his brother, a man named Seleucus IV. I'm sorry, Seleucus IV was his brother. His son was a man named Demitrius I who happened, of course, to be the nephew of Antiochus. When Seleucus died, Demitrius his son, was a hostage in Rome which provided a great opening for Antiochus. Antiochus gained access to an army, through the help of a king of Pergamum, and he marched to Syria. Verse 21: "...but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue." You remember Heliodorus had poisoned Antiochus' older brother. And Heliodorus and those who had conspired with him to do that, were in a time of tranquility. They were setting about establishing their own government - their new government - and at this moment, Antiochus comes on the scene. He sees the kingdom - notice what is says "by intrigue". Literally, by slippery actions. Ha! We're really talking politics here! As soon as he arrived in Syria, here's what he did. He arrives in Syria and he didn't just come in with weapons and take over. Instead, he said - Listen! My nephew, who's in prison in Rome, is really the one to whom the throne belongs but he's not here. And somebody in the family needs to step into this role and so I'll be his regent until he gets here, until he's released. And I'll be co-regent of my other nephew (who at the time was in Syria but was only an infant, who, by the way, within five years was mysteriously murdered). This is how, by intrigue, he took over. Antiochus used his nephew's absence to bribe and to flatter influential people in Syria to support him as Syria's rightful king. That was his deceptive beginning.

Next, the angel introduces us to his destructive career. We see this in verses 22 to 28: his deceptive career. By the year 175 BC, he had schemed his way to power and had become the King of Syria. Five years later in the year 170 BC, in earnest, his persecution of the Jews began with the assassination of the rightful Jewish High Priest. Then, a year later, in 169 BC, Ptolemy VI came from Egypt. Ptolemy VI came up and attacked Antiochus in order to regain Palestine as Phoenicia which had been earlier lost to the Syrians. In response, Antiochus counterattacked and began, what was called, his first Egyptian campaign. That's described in verse 22: "And the overflowing forces [that is the overwhelming army of Ptolemy] will be flooded away [will be swept away like a flood before Antiochus and shattered] from him and smashed, and also the prince of the covenant." Ptolemy was literally broken, that is, he was defeated and held as a prisoner. The prince of the covenant, here, is like Ptolemy VI who made a covenant with Syria in order to regain his throne in Egypt, which had been seized by his brother Ptolemy VII, when he had been arrested, when he had been in prison. Now, Antiochus was happy to go along with this and to work with the former King of Egypt because that gave him further power in Egypt. Verse 23: "After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small force of people." With the help of Antiochus, Ptolemy VI regained his throne but Antiochus would later double-cross him. Verse 24: "In a time of tranquility [when Egypt was feeling secure] he [Antiochus] will enter the richest parts of the realm [that's Egypt and Judah], and he will accomplish what his fathers did not [plunder them], nor his ancestors; he will distribute plunder, spoils [booty], and possessions among them..." By the way, make note, this was common tactic of Antiochus; frankly, of all under-handed politicians. He used bribes and financial rewards to gain support. He divided the spoils of war with his followers and he gave gifts to the leaders of the lands he conquered, in order to win their support. Verse 24: "he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time." Antiochus created grandiose plans to conquer the rest of Egypt's fortresses. But notice the end of verse 24: "but only for a time". His success was brief and only for the time that God had decreed.

Now, beginning in verse 25 and running down to verse 28, the angel fills out with more details this first war that Antiochus waged against Egypt. Verse 25 explains the backstory of how he defeated Ptolemy VI. Notice verse 25: "And he will stir up his strength [he'll bring his army together] and courage against the king of the South [Ptolemy VI] with a large army [that is, Antiochus did]; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, because schemes will be devised against him." Even though Ptolemy came into the battle with a larger army, he was unable to stand against Antiochus and the Syrians. Why? Because schemes were devised against him. What are those schemes? Well, the next verse tells us. "Those who [verse 26] eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain." Those who ate his choice food were Ptolemy's trusted advisors, his counselors. They unwisely counseled the young king to try to recapture Palestine, recapture the territory that had been lost. And that invited the counterattack of Antiochus. In addition, Ptolemy was undermined by some of his own disloyal subjects. Verse 27, I love this verse. "As for both kings, their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table". Once Antiochus defeated and captured Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VII became King of Egypt. So, Antiochus, to get control of Egypt, began to discuss with his prisoner, Ptolemy VII, how together they could take Egypt back. Now remember, this is his nephew. And so, Antiochus pretended to befriend Ptolemy VI and conspire with him to regain control of Egypt. But both of these men were evil. And each of them is using the other to accomplish his own agenda. The statement in verse 27 is a perfect description of international diplomacy: "they will speak lies to each other at the same table". They've both made promises they have no intention of keeping. Verse 27 goes to say, "but it will not succeed". This plan they concocted wouldn't succeed. It was not ultimately successful. It was slightly successful. They captured the city of Memphis which was the strategic center of Egypt and they installed Ptolemy VI again there as king but his brother, Ptolemy VII, still had Alexandria and most of Egypt. And after Antiochus left Egypt, guess what happened? The two brothers got together, they formed a truce, and they joined to rule Egypt together. So, in the end, Antiochus' purposes were frustrated. Why? Verse 27: "but it will not succeed, because the end is still to come at the appointed time." I love the way one commentator puts it, "In spite of all the plans made by human leaders, God is sovereign and the end of this evil king and his enterprises, would come at the appointed time." His success was only because of the plan of God. And his ultimate failure was because of God as well.

Verse 28: "Then he will return to his land with much plunder [this is Antiochus going back to Syria]; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant [that is against the Jews with whom God had made a holy covenant], and he will take action and then return to his own land." Now, don't forget, this is Antiochus' first Egyptian campaign. It's the backdrop for this verse. He had defeated and plundered Egypt. And as he returned home to Syria (you have to go back through that little land bridge to get to Syria), as he did so, he passed through Jerusalem. And guess what he heard in Jerusalem? He heard that the Jews had wrongly learned that he had been killed in battle in Egypt and they had thrown out his puppet government in Jerusalem. In response, he stamped out the rebellion. He murdered many of the Jews and he plundered the Temple. Here's how it's described in the Book of 2 Maccabees, in the Apocrypha, a historical account of these events (and I'll quote several times from it). This is 2 Maccabees 5:11-14: "Raging inwardly he left Egypt and took the city of Jerusalem by storm. He commanded his soldiers to cut down relentlessly everyone they met and to kill those who went into their houses. Then there was massacre of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children and slaughter of young girls and infants. Within the total of three days 80,000 were destroyed - 40,000 in hand-to-hand fighting and as many were sold into slavery as were killed." This is the man Antiochus. And then with the help of his evil puppet high priest, that he'd installed in Israel, he looted the Temple, taking its greatest treasures with him back to Syria.

Now, that brings us to his diabolical plans in verses 29-32. Verse 29: "At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before." This introduces to us his second Egyptian campaign. It was in the year 168 BC. Notice it was "at the appointed time", i.e., God's appointed time. But this second campaign was not successful like the first one. Why? Verse 30: "For ships of Kittim will come against him". Kittim is an ancient name for the island of Cyprus. But the same word came to describe not only the islands there in the middle of the Mediterranean, but all of the lands along the north of the Mediterranean, including Italy. And that's what's involved here. These ships, that you meet in verse 30, they were part of the Roman fleet. They were sent to Alexandria, Egypt at the request of Ptolemy. Several ancient histories describe what happened next. I love this part of the history. As the Syrians were moving in to besiege the city of Alexandria, the Roman General Laenas confronted Antiochus about four miles outside the city. And Laenas gave Antiochus a letter from the Roman Senate. It was an ultimatum. Essentially it said, Antiochus if you stay in Egypt, you will be at war with Rome. Your only other option is to go home to Syria. Well, in typical fashion, Antiochus said, you know I need to think about that. I need to consult with my advisors. To which the Roman General Laenas said, yeah of course you do. I understand you need to think about this, and so, I'm going to give you time to do that. And then famously, Laenas took a stick and he drew a circle around Antiochus in the sand. And he said, make your decision before you leave the circle. Now Antiochus was already aware of Rome's power. He had earlier himself been a prisoner in Rome. His Father had been beaten by the Roman Legions of the Battle of Magnesia. So, he had no option but to retreat in humiliation. Verse 30: "...therefore he will withdraw in fear [be disheartened] and will return and curse [become enraged] the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and pay attention [show regard] to those who abandon [forsake] the holy covenant."

So, here's Antiochus. You got to put yourself in his mind for a moment. He has just come face to face with Rome and he now realizes that further expansion of his kingdom is impossible. So, what's he going to do? He's going to consolidate his power within his own nation, within the rule that he already has. And he's going to vent his anger by taking action first against the Jewish people who were faithful to their God. And to accomplish this, verse 30 says that he would befriend and make allies of those Jews who had forsaken the covenant with their God. In other words, these are apostate Jews. These are unbelieving Jews.

Verse 31: "Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress [that is the Temple in Jerusalem], and do away with the regular sacrifice." You see, after his humiliation in Egypt at the hand of the Romans, in 167 BC Antiochus sent his chief tax collector and the leader of his mercenaries, a man named Appolonius, to Jerusalem. And Appolonius pretended, initially, to come in peace. He came to Jerusalem. He acted like he was there on a mission of peace. But then, on the Sabbath day, he attacked the Jewish people. The result was a bloody massacre - massive looting, rampant destruction of the Temple and of the city. Here's how Maccabees describes it, 1 Maccabees 1:29-32: "The king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute. And he came to Jerusalem with a large force, more than 20,000 soldiers. Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed them. But he suddenly fell upon the city [as we later learned on the Sabbath day], dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. He plundered the city, burned it with fire, tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. They took captive the women and children and seized the livestock. Now, Antiochus followed this massacre with the enforced Hellenization of all who survived. To Hellenize means to make them Greek. You see, Antiochus had lived in Athens before he had become King of Syria. And he had become completely enamored with Greek culture. It was highest culture. And now he had one agenda, and that was to force his citizens, especially the Jews, to become Greek in their thinking and in their behavior. And if they resisted his policy of Hellenization, they would be severely persecuted, even put to death. In 167 BC, Antiochus issued the order that all temple worship was to stop. All the regular sacrifices were to be done.

And then in verse 31 it goes on to say: "And they will set up the abomination of desolation." What is that? "They will set up the abomination of desolation." In December of the year 167 BC, Antiochus had his troops erect an idol of the Greek god Zeus, on the altar, in the Temple, in Jerusalem. 1 Maccabees 1:54 says: "They erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering." It was an abomination that left the Temple desolate, i.e., completely unusable for the worship of the true God. And ten days later, it got worse. They made a series of sacrifices, including swine, all over the Temple of God. And they spread the broth from the swine across the Temple Mount. 2 Maccabees 6:2-5 says: "He caused them to pollute the Temple in Jerusalem and to call it the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil for the Temple." Now think about this, "for the Temple was filled with debauchery, and reveling by the Gentiles who dallied with prostitutes and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts. And besides, brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. The altar was covered with abominable offerings that were forbidden by the laws. People couldn't either keep the Sabbath nor observe the festivals of their ancestors nor so much as confess themselves to even be Jewish.

Go back to chapter 8. There's one other note that we learned about this man in chapter 8 that I want you to remember. Chapter 8:12 says that "it will hurl [fling] truth to the ground". That is, he will prohibit the teaching of God's Word and, in fact, he ultimately tried to destroy it. Again, 1 Maccabees 1:56-57: "The Books of the Law that they found, they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the Book of the Covenant or anyone who adhered to the Law was condemned to death by the decree of the King." These were the dark days in Israel's history.

Verse 32: "And by smooth [literally it's the same word slippery. By slippery] words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant..." Sadly, by flattery and by bribery, he convinced many of the apostate Jews to support his policies, including even his puppet high priest, Menelaus. Antiochus was trying to accomplish something. What was it? He was trying to completely purge the Jewish culture of everything Jewish and to replace it with everything Greek. And he wanted to eradicate the worship of Yahweh and replace it with the worship of the Greek pantheon of gods. That was his diabolical plan.

But not everyone went along because next, in verses 32-34 we meet his determined enemies. Verse 32: " smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God [that is those who are faithful believing Jews, true Old Testament believers] will be strong [display strength] and take action." How exactly do they do that? Well, they did it in two different ways just like the writer of Hebrews describes in Hebrews 11. Some did it by becoming martyrs. 1 Maccabees 1:62-63 said, "But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die." Others chose to resist.

Out of this horrific time in Jewish history, sparked a Jewish rebellion called the Maccabean Revolt. The fuse for that revolt was lit in a most unlikely place. A tiny village called Modiin, 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Here was the scene. Some of Antiochus' soldiers, under the leadership of one of his generals named, Apelles, came to the small village of Modiin. Apelles demanded that the people of the village offer a sacrifice on a pagan altar in order to show their loyalty to Antiochus. Apelles first approached one of the leaders of the village, one of the influential men, to try to win him over and therefore win the rest of the people of the village over. And this man was a priest named Mattathias. And he demanded that he offer the sacrifice. Mattathias refused to do so. But another Jewish man, without the same courage, offered the sacrifice to the pagan gods. And when he had finished, Mattathias and his five sons were so enraged with what had just happened, that they grabbed their weapons, they killed the Jewish traitor, they killed Antiochus' general, Apelles, and his solder. And then Mattathias called to the people of the village and he said, anyone who loves the true God and who wants to defend His name, side with me. And then he and his five sons and a large force of people, headed to the hills. And in the following months, they fought a guerrilla war against the much stronger Syrian force. But their forces continued to grow. After a year of fighting this guerrilla war, Mattathias became terminally ill. And he appointed his son, Judas, as the leader of the army. And Judas had a nickname. His nickname was Maccabeus. Judas Maccabeus, Judas the Hammer. And he was a very capable soldier and general. Under his leadership, in December of 165 BC, the Jews recaptured the Temple, exactly three years from the time that it had been desecrated and the altar of Zeus had been built. Judas removed the pagan altar. He replaced it with one that was not built with iron tools as was required by the Law. And on the 25th of Kislev, in 165 BC (that's in our December), the worship of Yahweh was restored. The celebration of that restoration lasted eight days with singing and feasting and sacrifices. And it was decided this was such an important event in Israel's history, that it should be perpetually celebrated as the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah which is still celebrated to this day.

Now verse 33 summarizes the fate of true believers during the dark days of Antiochus. Notice verse 33. Here's what our brothers and sisters who were true believers in that time faced: "And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many". In other words, they'll help others understand the truth of what's really happening from the Scriptures. "...yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days." You see, during this period of time, tens of thousands of faithful, believing Jews were killed during the bloody reign of Antiochus. Some fell by the sword, that is, in their fight with the Maccabees against the soldiers of Antiochus. Others were tortured and died as martyrs; some of them by the flame - they were literally burned to death.

In fact, if you want an interesting read, read the seventh chapter of 2 Maccabees which tells the story of a mother and her seven sons, who on a single day, this mother watched her seven sons be tortured and killed. They started by pulling their scalps from their heads. Then they cut off their extremities. And then they prepared a large cauldron and they literally fried them to death before their mother, one at a time, each time saying you have an opportunity to stop this if you will simply acknowledge that Zeus is god and God is not. She eventually was killed as well. Many believe, by the way, her story is alluded to in Hebrews 11:35.

Still others, we're told here, were taken into captivity to become slaves. And most of them were plundered i.e., they had their property confiscated. And this happened, notice verse 33 says, "...for many days." That turned out to be several years.

Verse 34: "Now when they fall [that is those who remain faithful, when they fall] they will be granted a little help..." It's probably referring to the small number of people who first joined with Mattathias in the Maccabean Revolt. "...and many will join with them in hypocrisy." You see the revolt started very small and then people who really believed in the cause joined. But eventually it became so successful that even unfaithful Jews were forced to side with the Maccabees in hypocrisy, pretending to be on their side or they would risk their livelihoods or even their lives.

Lastly, we learn about His defined purpose or, we could say, the divine plan. Verse 35: "And some of those who have insight will fall", that is, many true believers were horribly persecuted and killed. Why? Why did God allow this? Verse 35 goes on to say, "[in order] to refine, purge, and cleanse [make them pure] ..." God intended Antiochus' terrible sin against His people to refine, purify, and strengthen the faith of individual Israelites, to cleanse the nation of its sinful practices. And, and this is really interesting, to distinguish and separate the unregenerate from the true believers in the nation. And isn't that what exactly what happened? Those who were the real thing, it became obvious. And those who weren't, it became obvious as well.

Notice, verse 35 goes on to say, "[in order] to refine, purge, and cleanse them [make them pure] until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time." This end time here - it's hard to know exactly what he means. Obviously, it refers to the end of Antiochus' reign, the end of his reign of terror. That would come to an end at the appointed time. Back in chapter 8 we were told it would be for 2300 mornings and evenings. In other words, his persecution would last 2300 days. That's six years and four months; the most intense of that being the final three to four years. Then, in the year 163 BC, after twelve years of reigning, after six years of terror, Antiochus died a horrible death, ending his reign of terror against God's people. But the expression here, at the end of verse 35, may also be referring, not to the end of Antiochus, but to the end of time. If so, then the angel is saying that this pattern of God using the persecution and suffering of His people to refine, to cleanse, and to purify them - that pattern will continue until the end of time, the end of human history. And that would include the persecution that comes under Antichrist that's in the very next paragraph. Evil rulers, their persecution of God's people, and even the duration of their time on earth, is in the control of our great God.

Now, that brings us to the question of why. Why is this in the Bible? And why have we rehearsed all of this? What are the lessons for us here? There are some powerful ones. I don't want you to miss these. Number one: God is sovereign over the smallest details of history. Maybe you're tempted to ask, "Tom what is the point of all this history?" Listen, if you ask that question, you have missed the entire point! Why do I say that? Because this isn't history. This is prophecy. When it was given to Daniel, it was prophecy. This chapter is not a history of Antiochus Epiphanes. It is an incredibly accurate prophecy fulfilled down to the smallest detail, 250-300 years after Daniel wrote it down. And folks, the lesson for us is God is still writing the details of history; didn't stop with Antiochus.

Tomorrow, when you read the news headlines, don't you for a moment imagine that our God is any less involved in the details of history working itself out. Psalm 33:10-11, "The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations." Listen, God has a generational plan and it's working just as much today as it did in the time of Antiochus. So, are you worried about what's going on in our world? Are you worrying about what's going on in our country? Listen, the prophecy of Daniel 11 provided great comfort to those lived during the time of Antiochus. Can you imagine if you'd lived during those days and you'd found a place where you could get your clandestine copy of Daniel and you could read and you could know what was happening and why? Can you image the comfort that would've been to you? It assured them that God was in control and that those days, as hard as they were, would end when God determined. Dale Ralph Davis writes, "Even chaotic time is appointed time." Antiochus will not be footloose and fancy-free as he may seem for God determines even the terms of tyrannies and they are tethered to the dates on God's calendar. Antiochus will only operate within appointed time. And that is just as true today as it was then. And that is one of the great purposes of the prophecies that's been given to us about the end times. We don't have to worry. God has this under control. There is a God and you're not Him.

There's a second lesson here and that is Jesus Christ, God's eternal Son, is the ruler of all the kings of history. Revelation 1:5 says, "...Jesus Christ...the ruler of the kings of the earth." If you forget everything else I've said tonight, I hope you'll remember that verse. Revelation 1:5 - Jesus Christ the ruler of the kings of the earth". This chapter, Daniel 11, reminds us that He exercises sovereignty over them all. He allows them to be raised to power even if it's through evil schemes. He permits their successes. He limits and directs their plans for His own purposes. He determines the appointed time they will rule. And one day He will crush all of them who stand in opposition to Him. Revelation 17:14 says, "These [speaking of the nations of the world] will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings". I understand being concerned about our world. I even understand being concerned about where our country is. But can I just say to you, "Relax"? Jesus Christ, the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Number three: the most powerful rulers and kingdoms are fleeting and temporary. You see that twelve years. I mean this guy seemed like he would go on forever. He seemed like he would be devastating into the infinite future. Twelve years later, he's gone. Look at Isaiah. I love the way Isaiah put it in Isaiah 40. Isaiah 40:23, speaking of God: "It is He who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless." Verse 24: "Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, But He merely blows on them, and they wither, And the storm carries them away like stubble. 'To whom then will you compare Me That I would be his equal?' says the Holy One." Your God, Christian, is on His throne. And the rulers of this world they're like chaff. They're gone.

Number four. And this is an important lesson for us today because I see this happening in Christianity. Evil infiltrates the people of God through the cooperation and compromise of those who claim to belong to God's people but who no longer hold to His Word. That's exactly what happened in Antiochus' time and it's what always happens. It's how evil finds its way into the true people of God.

Number five: God uses the suffering and persecution of His people to accomplish His good purposes to refine, purify, and strengthen the faith of individuals, to cleanse the church of its sinful practices. And here's one that I think is very interesting - to distinguish and separate the unregenerate from true believers. You know, I've watched in my lifetime controversies and divisions sweep into the church. Right now, we're in one of those times. Some of the issues, not all of them, but some of the issues are gospel issues. What's going on? 1 Corinthians 11:19: "For there also have to be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you." God brings those times into the life of His people so that the false and the true are distinguished, one from another, just as He did in the time of Antiochus. You watch, given enough time, the truth comes out. In the years to come, it'll become clear those who have clung to God, clung to His Word, clung to the true Gospel, and those who haven't. And it'll be God's way of sorting things out.

And finally, the day is coming when a man like Antiochus will rise to power but he will reign not over Syria, but over the entire world. And Lord willing, we will meet him next week.

Let's pray together.

Father, we are in awe of Your sovereignty. This book reminds us that You are sovereign over human history - over its kings, its nations, its empires. And Father, we have seen that play out in the life of Greece and in the life of this man, Antiochus, who ruled over Syria so many years ago. Lord, thank You for the reminder of Yourself in this. Help us to look beyond the details of the prophecy which now, to us, are history and to see the lessons that are there for us to learn. Lord may we trust You in our time. Help us to remember that our Lord, Jesus Christ, is the ruler of the kings of the earth and nothing will turn aside His plan or thwart His purpose. Lord, forgive us for our lack of trust, our lack of faith. Help us to trust in Him and to let His plan work its way out. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen!


Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

More from this Series



An Introduction to Daniel

Tom Pennington Selected Scriptures

First Lessons in Sovereignty

Tom Pennington Daniel 1

God's Plan for Human History - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 2

God's Plan for Human History - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 2

God's Plan for Human History - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 2

Through the Fire - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 3

Through the Fire - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 3

Through the Fire - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 3

Heaven Rules - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 4

Heaven Rules - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 4

When Empires Fall - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 5

When Empires Fall - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 5

In the Lions' Den - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 6

In the Lions' Den - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 6

The King of Beasts - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 7

The King of Beasts - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 7

The King of Beasts - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 7:1-28

The Ram, the Goat, and the Little Horn - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 8

The Ram, the Goat, and the Little Horn - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 8

The Ram, the Goat, and the Little Horn - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 8

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 4

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

The Spiritual War Behind World History - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 10

The Spiritual War Behind World History - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 10

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

The End of Time - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 12:1-13

The End of Time - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 12:1-13

The Book of Daniel

Tom Pennington Daniel 1-12