Natural History -- Daniel 10 & 11
Daniel 10, 11 and 12 represent one contiguous revelation given to the ancient prophet. Remembering that all Scripture has a compound meaning, we'll study chapters ten and eleven, summarising natural historic outcomes. And in our next Newsletter we'll consider their concurrent spiritual interpretation.
We find Daniel at the beginning of Nisan, mourning in travail. He was fasting for twenty-one days because Israel could not assemble in Jerusalem to observe the compulsory feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf Wave Offering, which type Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Daniel represents his people Israel, signifying they will not receive Messiah at His first Coming.
On the twenty-fourth day, he sees a vision of Michael, the Archangel we call Lord Jesus Christ. His robe being girt at the waist shows Him to be in the Office of High Priest mediating during the Seven Church Ages which are yet six hundred years in the future. Clothed in the righteousness of fine linen He represents the PART-Word divisions the Church, as it comes into being as His Body through twenty centuries of intercession before the opening and revelation of the Seven Seals transforms "that which is perfect" or complete -- the FULLNESS of the Word -- into His end-time Bride.
The vision is not set in the days of Daniel, who lived under the first and into the second Gentile empires of Babylon and Medo-Persia. As the interpreting angel explains, this vision of One clothed in linen, is set in the "latter days", after the Persian and Greek empires (Daniel 10:14; 11:1-2), and after Israel rejects Messiah, under the empire of Papal Rome, during the dispensation of grace to the Gentiles.
These mysteries will be expounded to Israel during the Tribulation when their two prophets reveal the Seven Trumpets, disclosing the six fold purpose of Daniel's Seventy Weeks and the history of the times of the Gentiles. Israel then will see their transgression, making and end of sin as the overlapping Gentile dispensation is explained, revealing Christ and His Bride, and as the Seven Vials distinguish the false church and foolish virgin from the elect and Word-born Bride.
The first verse of Daniel 11 looks back and qualifies Daniel 9:1 and supplies a thought that rounds off the last one uttered in chapter 10. It does not indicate that the revelation of this chapter was received in the first year of Darius, for if we look at Daniel 10:1, we find this is actually the third year of Cyrus. Gabriel explains that as he had strengthened Daniel, he had also strengthened Darius the Mede in the first year of his reign, and how he alone stands with Michael.
Now I will ask you to follow in your Bibles as we match Scripture with fulfilled history which vindicated the prophecies Gabriel is about to reveal to Daniel. Beginning at Daniel 11:2, the kings yet to reign in Persia are Cambyses from 529BC, Pseudo-Smerdis from 527, and Darius Hystaspis from 521. A fourth and far more wealthy king, Xerxes, reigned from 485-465BC. He challenged Greece, but after the Battle of Salamis, Persia was no longer a power to be reckoned with.
Alexander the Great overthrew Medo-Persia at the Battle of Arbela in 331 BC but in the prime of his rule, Alexander died and his empire was divided into four. The northern kingdom became Syria, the southern Egypt, the eastern was Turkey and the Western, Greece itself.
Ptolemy became king of Egypt and made the southern kingdom strong. Seleucus Nicator, who had fled from Antigonus of Babylon, built up Syria. He temporarily cast his lot with Ptolemy but proved to be the more able administrator, and Syria became the stronger of the two kingdoms.
To conclude an alliance of peace, Ptolemy Philadelphus compelled Antiochus II (Theos) of Syria to put aside his own wife, Laodice, and marry his daughter, Bernice. But when Ptolemy died two years later, Antiochus abandoned his Egyptian wife and took back Laodice.
In order to gain her revenge, Laodice first had her husband, murdered, then brought Bernice and her son by Antiochus to Antioch in Syria, and had them slain.
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was succeeded by Ptolemy III Evergates, "a branch of her roots". He invaded and made strong inroads into the Syrian power, laying low all they had built to avenge the murder of his sister, Bernice. This was about as thorough an overthrow as a nation could suffer, for he took captive the people, their princes and even their gods. The nation's last line of defense was broken when 2,500 idols were rendered unable to help themselves, and 40,000 talents of silver and gold vessels were carried away (Jerome p.123, as in Isaiah 46:1-2).
Seleucus II Callinicus reigned in Syria from 247-226BC and conducted an unsuccessful expedition against Egypt. His sons, Seleucus III (227-224), and Antiochus III the Great (224-187), jointly continued their father's campaign against Egypt. Seleucus came to an untimely end, but Antiochus continued to make great and rapid conquests. He defeated the Egyptians at Sidon and was able to penetrate as far south as to attack the Egyptian "fortress" at Gaza.
During all this time, the Egyptian, Ptolemy IV Philopater, had spent his time idly pursuing the vices that were practiced by so many kings of that time, and no substantial resistance had therefore been offered to Antiochus.
Now the monarch bestirred himself. The embittered Egyptian king gathered 73,000 men and 73 elephants. However the army of Antiochus was even greater -- 72,000 infantry, 6,000 horsemen and 102 elephants -- and at first gained the advantage, but too soon abandoned caution and sought to plunder an enemy not fully conquered and the Egyptian king was victorious. However as Ptolemy was so much addicted to luxurious living, it was of little concern to him to utilize his success to the full and he was not "strengthened" by his victory.
Some years later, Antiochus III the Great raised a greater army, and securing better equipment, attained some of the success of his first efforts because the king of Egypt offered no opposition, and after his death various uprisings materially weakened the Egyptian power and broke it by internal distention. Many rose up, including Hebrew insurgents headed by one Tobias, "but they shall fall", bringing upon themselves the defeat prophesied by Daniel 8 and 9.
See how intimately the fortunes of the Jews were intertwined with those of these two warring nations, and how soon they could become deeply involved in trouble. In Daniel 11:15-16 we read how Antiochus drove the Egyptians back to Sidon, defeating "the most fenced city". It was the uprising of the Jews under Tobias that led Antiochus to venture into the "glorious land".
Liberating the Jews from Egypt, he released them from all taxes for three years, and afterwards from one third of the taxes. He also sent a large sum of money for the service of the Temple, and released the elders, priests, scribes and singing men from all taxes for the future. Thus "the glorious land" came under his complete control ("which by his hand shall be consumed").
Antiochus then conceived a plan whereby he would conquor all of Egypt. The feature characteristic of this expedition was apparently that everything attempted should be done on equitable terms ("upright ones") which Antiochus would have faithfully carried out. He thus gave his daughter Cleopatra in marriage to Ptolemy Epiphanes with the intent of gaining an advantage over the king of Egypt, trusting she would be her father's ally rather than her husband's friend, but she refused to be a tool in her father's hands.
Thus far the prophecies of this chapter have emphasized God's control over the affairs of history by foretelling what will transpire. Here the omniscience of His foreknowledge is evident in that He knows even the hidden purposes of men which never materialize.
Antiochus next made an expedition to gain control of the coastal cities of Asia Minor and the Greek islands. This action was designed to break the power of Rome who also sought to control. By 196BC he had a foothold in Thrace which called forth the active resistance of Rome, and in the Battle of Magnesia (190BC), Lucius Scipio administered such a sound defeat that the "reproach" or presumptuous boastings of the Syrian were silenced once and for all. Yet Scipio achieved his victory without repaying Antiochus with like boasting -- "without his own reproach".
In his humiliation, Antiochus turned to "the fort of his own land" where no trouble or defeat could befall him. So disheartened did he become, in fact, his end was still more ignominious: he "shall stumble and fall and be found no more". History once again vindicated God's foreknowledge of what will be, and constituted sure proof He could also control what He fore knew.
Seleucus IV Philopater (187-176BC) succeeded Antiochus. Only what bears upon the fortune of Israel is told about this Syrian king who had to pay Rome an enormous annual tribute of 1,000 talents. To this end he sent a "raiser of taxes", probably Heliodorus (II Maccabees 7), to appropriate the rich treasures of the Temple at Jerusalem. Needless to say Seleucius was assassinated; His younger brother Antiochus IV Epiphanes ingratiated himself with the Romans and thus "obtained the kingdom by flatteries".
Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164) types, the Antichrist, who rules Rome's church empire by "flatteries". So the prophecy of Daniel 11:21-35 applies to both Antiochus and to the popes, particularly the final Pope, who is to be incarnate by Satan and who features in the rest of this chapter.
The Judeans had unusual difficulties with Antiochus Epiphanes who robbed the temple, set up an image of Jupiter in the Holy of Holies, pulled down the walls of Jerusalem, commanded the sacrifice of pigs, forbade circumcision, and burned all the sacred books he could find. Armies were washed away before him as he gained ground in his initially precarious position. And the "prince of the Covenant", probably Jason the high priest, was treacherously removed and murdered (without the knowledge of Antiochus) by the Hellenist, Menelaus.
He first used force, then formed leagues, the customary device for enhancing one's influence. His third device, was to "practice deceit". Fourthly, he plundered the "fattest places" or fertile parts of the provinces and distributed his largess lavishly to buy men and influence, a break with the tradition of his fathers. Such underhand dealings gave him an advantage only for a time -- "even for a time". But by employing such "devices", Antiochus achieved a temporary victory over the king of Egypt, and through treachery in his court, his army would desert him.
Neither Antiochus IV not Ptolemy IV had honorable motives, seeking to deceive one another at the conference table. And from the Oriental point of view, the treachery of a host against a guest is particularly odious so this denotes the worst kind of treachery. But "it shall not prosper", for neither can succeed for the "end" shall be in God's "appointed time".
Antiochus returned with great riches through Israel to Syria on his way home from Egypt, but antagonistic against the Covenant people and their destiny he plundered the temple in passing (II Maccabees 5; I Maccabees 1:20-).
At God's "appointed time", he once more turned his armies southward as he had threatened, but was not successful as in his former invasions. In Egypt the two brothers were no longer at odds with one another and had support from Rome whose warships from Cyprus intimidated Antiochus. And that remnant of the Greek empire finally lost world dominion, being overthrown and succeeded by Rome at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC.
The Roman Ambassador in Alexandria drew a circle about Antiochus and curtly told him he must agree to withdraw his troops before he stepped out of the circle, else meet the Romans in war. Antiochus well knew the strength of the Romans and, above all things, wanted to keep them appeased, and though disgruntled, had to give his word that he would withdraw from Egypt immediately.
Thus intimidated he retreated through Israel, and securing allies among some apostate Jews, he pillaged the temple at Jerusalem and offered swine on the altar. Not only was the daily sacrifice discontinued but also all the Temple rites. And the image of Jupiter Olympius was set up. Since sacrifice was impossible there was practically a suspension of the Covenant relation and communion with God, hence the horror of the devout Jew. The Hebrew word "meshomen" means "abominable" or "causing horror", hence, "the abomination that maketh desolation" or profanes.
Antiochus now resorted to words of persuasion, or "flatteries", and by his pleas, those who had transgressed the Covenant were inducing the right thinking majority to apostatize. But those who do know their God will not allow themselves to be unduly impressed or even intimidated and their opposition to the program of the king shall achieve a notable measure of success.
Inspired men, versed in the Word arose and were able to impart the revelation to their brethren, or help them understand the issues at stake. But revelation does not provide individual indemnity against current evil and they paid the supreme penalty (I Maccabees 1:56; 2:38; 3:41; 5:13; II Maccabees 6:11)
Deliverance came through the Maccabees (I Maccabees 2:1-5). But when it became apparent that leadership and strong influence as well as actual success were on their side, men who were not really of one mind with the deliverers, began to espouse their party by "flatteries" or hypocritical expressions of loyalty.
In such trying days only men of the purest motives are acceptable and usable and the incompetent are inadequate as leaders. Teachers who are not "smelted" or purified in the fires of affliction would be unequal to the stress and responsibility of their holy calling. They had to be "sifted" or separated as the pure grain from undesirable chaff.
The purging and martyrdom of the wise men was to test and purify the community, for the unworthy will take flight and fall away but the blood of the martyrs will make for a finer community. Just as metals are not left in the fire too long, and grain is not sifted endlessly, the unclean are not washed without ceasing. God has in advance determined an appointed time for terminating the work our senses feel to be so painful and grievous.
Daniel 11:32-35 melds the period of Antiochus Epiphanes into Roman times. "Smelting", "sifting" and "cleansing" will mark the history of the Jewish people until "the time of the end" (Isaiah 28:23-29; Daniel 11:35,40, 45; Malachi 3:2-4).
Hereafter the characters change and the scene telescopes into our immediate future when the king of Daniel 11:36 will be Rome's pope (Daniel 7:25; 9:27; II Thessalonians 2:4) who, receiving supreme power over the rulers of earth (Daniel 7:20-24; Revelation 17:11- 18), will "do according to his will". Also, the king of the south is no longer Egypt but Islam, and the king of the north is no longer Syria but Rome, and later Russia.
In the next Newsletter, Lord willing, we'll examine the Spiritual application of Daniel 11. bb000715.htm