In verse 29 it is prophetically declared, and historically attested, that the Seleucian king, Antiochus Epiphanes returned to Egypt with a desire to rid himself of his nephew, the new Ptolemy, son of Cleopatra I. That return was orchestrated by Jehovah himself, and it was by God’s appointment that Antiochus returned. Oh, but it wasn’t as before, and it wasn’t as the wicked king expected. When he reached Alexandria he was met with by the reunited sons of Cleopatra and the entire Roman navy.
Verse 30 – “For the ships of Chittim shall come against him.” Alexandria is the Mediterranean port city of Egypt. Rome didn’t want her shipments of Egyptian grain to be interrupted. Antiochus had no choice but to comply with the demands of Rome or to die, so he acquiesced and left. But of course this also made him furious.
“Therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” It was on this, another trip across Israel, that Antiochus’ wrath was fully poured out on the Jews. It was at this point that he made sure that the daily sacrifices came to an end, and the sanctuary was so polluted that it would take the miracle of God to get the Lord’s worship going again. Second Macabees says, “For the temple was filled with riot and revelling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots, and had to do with women within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that brought in things that were not lawful. The altar also was filled with profane things, which the law forbiddeth.” The historian, Josephus, adds that the king then ordered that swine be sacrificed upon the altar.
This brings us to verse 31. Up to this verse every point of this prophecy has been well documented as history from our perspective. Hstory clearly shows that every statement has been made about Antiochus Epiphanes. But from here to the end of the chapter, we could be talking about either history or still future prophesy. It is hard to prove from secular history that these verses have been literally fulfilled, although there is a very good chance that they have. As I have said, I believe that Antiochus Epiphanes, “Theos Epiphanes,” is a type of the Antichrist of Tribulation. Whether the remaining verses in this chapter are speaking about Antiochus or not, I’m not really concerned. Their most important aspects still relate to our future and to the future of people who are alive and living in Israel at this very moment.
Doesn’t this sound like what shall take place during the Tribulation? At this point, even if the prophesy is about days prior to the coming of Christ, the application perhaps should be more appropriately applied to Israel in days which are yet to come. Beginning with two people called “the witnesses” and then followed by the 144,000, God will save and raise up people of faith and knowledge, who will testify to the world, and more particularly to Israel, that Jehovah lives.
In the Book of Revelation chapter 11, the Lord says, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”
Then in Revelation 14 we are introduced to some who were taught by the example of the two witnesses. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Daniel 11:34 and 35 testify to the confusion and spiritual battles going on in Israel in that future day. “Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” Those words “time of the end” could be made to apply to the conclusion of any dispensation of the Lord. But eventually there will be one final “end.”
Daniel 11:36 – “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Like Antiochus, the future Antichrist will promise peace towards Israel, and will talk with polite religious language, but at heart he will be the king of the egotistical atheists. Or perhaps I should call him an “humanist,” because he will magnify himself above all the professed and supposed gods in the world, including the One True and Living Jehovah. For a while his glory, power and popularity will sky-rocket into the stratosphere. In fact he will perceive it as rocketing into the Heaven of Heavens. But the bigger they are the harder the fall, and the higher they fly, the bigger hole they’ll dig when they hit the ground.
“Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” How much of the current homosexual movement is in preparation for the coming Antichrist? Does the comment that he doesn’t regard the desire of women refer to homosexuality, or is it just that he’ll be so busy and so full of himself, he won’t have time for marriage and family? “But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.” There are many who believe that the Antichrist will have to have Jewish blood to be accepted by the Jews. And some of these comments seem to suggest that he was a worshiper of God, but then turned his back upon Him. Perhaps, but not necessarily so. This could be nothing more than a suggestion that he will be a professing Christian, who comes out of the closet in more ways than one.
Revelation 13:1 – “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Daniel 11 is probably speaking primarily about Antiochus Epiphanes, but Revelation 13 is talking about a second antichrist – the antichrist.
If Daniel 11 is speaking primarily about Antiochus, with verse 40 a problem arises. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” Secular history doesn’t record events which explain these verses. And yet, do we want to talk about a future battle with horses and chariots? One answer is that this is an historical event for which we haven’t discovered an historical record. Or another answer is that the chariots and horsemen are figures of more modern tools of war. My first pastor used to say that there will be a reversion to the more ancient implements of war. Generally speaking, it seems that the Lord has transitioned His prophesy from the type to the antitype – from Antiochus to the Antichrist. But see if these words, sound like events of history or those which ultimately result in the end of Tribulation. “He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.”
Daniel 11:44 – “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” These two points are certainly open to debate, but other scriptures talk about various battles at the end of Gentile history. They talk about the resurgence of Egypt and then the northern, western and eastern kingdoms. We can certainly see that Russia and her allies have not gone away, since the breaking up of the Soviet Union. The Antichrist will have a great deal of world power for a few years, but he will have his opposition and his battles, one of which will take place in the heart of Palestine – at Armageddon.
Revelation 16 describes the pouring out of the seven vials upon the earth during the Tribulation. With the first there will be terrible new diseases and sores upon the human body. Then will come water turning to blood – or at the very least the color of blood. The fourth vial will give the sun vast new energy to scorch the earth. Then there will be even more pain. With the sixth vial comes something unexpected. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” Does that dried river explain this verse here in Daniel? And why is it that the kings of the east will come toward Israel? Revelation 16:13 – “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
Ultimately – “at the time of the end” – the Son of God Himself shall return, bringing everything to a conclusion, and most specifically toward this man who will claim to be divine. The Antichrist will set up his military camp, expecting to meet the armies of his enemies right there in the midst of the land that he will claim as his own. But just as it was for Antiochus, it will not go well for him. And “none shall be able to help him.” Christ will thoroughly defeat him and shortly thereafter establish His own earthly kingdom.
I close with two things tonight – First, even though these are frightening words, there is no need for the child of God to panic. I am convinced that the elect of God from his dispensation, will be removed from the scene prior to any of this. The Lord hath not appointed us to this wrath.
And then finally we have the words of Revelation 19:11-21 – “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”
Ultimately, the Lord will bring all things to a positive and essentially joyful conclusion. That was what He was telling Daniel and the Apostle John. And that is what He wants us to learn as well.