If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
Moving into chapter 11 now (actually chapter 11:2 through 12:4) we see the details of this final prophecy. This prophecy breaks history down into 3 sections and gives very specific details about things that will happen in the near future for Daniel and then in the far future for those who are here when Christ returns. The prophecy is so detailed that liberal scholars believe that it had to be written after the events happened in history. However, we understand and believe that God is in control and knows the future in every detail.
The first section of the prophecy, from chapter 11 verses 2-19, gives us specifics about Persia and Greece. We see the delineation of 4 kings, ending with Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) who married Esther. We are given details about these kings and their wars with Greece, ending at last with the advent of Alexander the Great who attacked and conquered Persia because of these provocations.
This section then focuses on the development and battles of the northern and southern kingdoms that split from Greece after Alexander the Great died. The northern kingdom, Syria, was ruled by Selucius. The southern is Egypt ruled by the Ptolemies.
The second section of the prophecy, chapter 11 verses 20-34, give us more specific detail about Antichus Epiphanes who came from the Selucid dynasty in the north and tried twice to conquer Egypt. He was repelled both times and after Rome intervened, sending ships from Cyprus, Antiochus went back to Jerusalem, sacked the city, and committed the abomination of desolations, offering a pig on the alter at the Temple and setting up an idol of Zeus in the Temple complex.
As we studied earlier from chapter 8, we know that the Maccabees rose up in revolt and overthrew the Syrians and were then free until taken into Roman conquest hundreds of years later. Verse 32 predicts the great exploits of the Maccabees.
The third section, chapter 11:36 through 12:4 jumps into the future and gives us a glimpse of the coming final Antichrist (who was foreshadowed by Antiochus) and the final battle of all time, Armageddon. We see the great tribulation and the resurrection of the dead before the final judgment. We are given specific information about the Antichrist, such as his arrogant worship of his own power and the fact that his desires are not normal, but depraved beyond normal sinfulness.
In the midst of all of these predictions and prophecies sometimes we get so caught up in trying to figure the details out that we miss the underlying principles and applications for day to day life. We have seen in this study that Daniel often has visions about the same time periods and each time the visions become more and more specific. We have also seen that one theme throughout all of the prophecies of this book is that the Kingdom of God is at war with the kingdoms of this world and that conflict will continue until Christ returns and destroys His enemies.
There are several lessons for us in the church to learn. They include the truth that the nations and kingdoms of this world are always unstable and never last. They are formed by sinful men and will at last succumb to sin and destruction. We also see that the world is always trying to influence and invade the church so as to neutralize our effectiveness in the ongoing war between kingdoms. A third lesson is found in the encouragement given to God’s people even in times of conflict and persecution. And finally we see that God is working out His purposes in the course of history and He is in control and will work it all out for His glory and our good.
A final word of application is seen as we look at the terrible things prophesied and ask what we are to do and how we are to live in light of persecution and tribulation. That is answered for us in verse 32. When the foundations of the kingdom of men that we inhabit are wicked and crumble, what can the righteous do? (Ps 11:3) They must remain righteous, be strong, strive to know God more and more deeply, resist evil, and in the power of the Spirit do great exploits for the Everlasting Kingdom of God!
Ultimately we learn that we are not citizens here. We are pilgrims passing through. As pilgrims we are also warriors, ambassadors, ministers of reconciliation, and rescuers. The dreadful details of history prove that the nations of this world are but a drop in the bucket before God, but His people, wherever they are on this earth, are the apple of His eye!
Join us this Sunday at 10:30 as we study Daniel 11:2-12:4 in a message titled,
“Dominion, Destruction, and Deliverance.”