In way of recap, the first half of Daniel 10 is truly fascinating. Daniel is an old man in his late 80’s. His life has been a wild ride, but he senses the end was near. Taken captive as a teenager from Jerusalem and enslaved to serve in the courts of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had a front-row seat to witness the rise and swift fall of the Babylonian Empire.
In fact, three years before the 10th chapter begins, Daniel had been in the very midst of this global transition of power as Cyrus the Persian came to dominate the world stage. To Daniel’s amazement, as one of his first matters of business, Cyrus issues a decisive decree allowing the Jewish people to return to their homeland in order to rebuild the Temple.
Regrettably, word reached this aged prophet the project had stalled. Grieved, uncertain, concerned Daniel gets on his knees to pray. For three long weeks, Daniel seeks the Lord. He deprives himself of “pleasant food,” fasts from “meat and wine,” even denies himself a bath hoping to hear from the Lord. After 21-days of silence, Daniel decides it’s finally time to get back to his normal routine with pressing business bringing him to the banks of the Tigris.
And it is here — out of the blue — we read how Daniel receives this vision of a “certain man” who’s description identifies Him as being none other than Jesus! Daniel is so overwhelmed by what he’s seeing he instantly falls to his face. Then wonderment turns to dread when he feels a hand touch his shoulder. As Daniel looks up he finds himself face to face with an angelic messenger who’d been sent by God some three weeks earlier.
Aside from explaining the cause for his delay, this unnamed angel not only reminds Daniel that he was “greatly loved,” but he encourages him not to fear! God had a plan for Israel that was sure. Though recent news had caused him to worry, this angel had been sent (verse 14) “to make him understand what would happen to his people in the latter days.” This sets for us the context of a prophecy that will carry us through the end of the book.
Daniel 10:15-17, “When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, ‘My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.’”
Over the course of his life God allowed Daniel to see much of the future and what he’d seen had taken an emotional toll. He says, “Because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me.” Daniel had seen the people return to the land, Jerusalem once again bustling, and the rebuilt Temple vibrant with activity. But he’d also witnessed that future Temple desecrated by an abominable act, the city destroyed, and the people slaughtered and again scattered.
Daniel was able to see the day the Messiah would present Himself to Jerusalem fulfilling the promises God had made since Eden to provide a Savior for sin. But he was also burdened with the knowledge the Jewish Messiah would be “cut off” by those He came to save.
Daniel wanted to know the future and God obliged. All the way back in Daniel 2:44 he knew the story of humanity would end with God “breaking into pieces and consuming all the kingdoms” of man. Daniel also knew the final chapter would close with “the God of heaven establishing a kingdom which would never be destroyed and stand forever.”
The challenge for Daniel is that he also understood the chapters of this divine story leading up to its illustrious end would be terribly dark and depressing — especially with regards to the Hebrew people. He knew before the Prince of Peace would arrive, the world would be thrown into utter chaos through the deceitful acts of the Son of Perdition.
He knew before the Jews accepted Jesus the Christ, they would be first deceived by the Antichrist. Daniel knew a restored world would only follow a global war. Eternal life would be granted, but only from the midst of death and destruction. The Hebrews people would be saved, but only after they experienced a Satanic persecution like none other.
Daniel was confident in the end God’s kingdom would be established, but he also knew this would only happen after the kingdoms of man had brought this planet to the point of ruin. You can understand why these “vision” caused Daniel so much “sorrow!”
In many ways, because we know the future, like Daniel, we face a similar dynamic… We look around at a world that’s burning with the knowledge the future doesn’t get any better, but much much worse. Like Daniel, we’ve read the entire Book! Lies will supplant the truth. Love will be called hate. Evil will be reclassified as moral. What is wrong hailed as being right.
Godlessness will increase. Perversities spread. And the people of God will be persecuted. There is no question the “spirit of Antichrist” is already at work in our world. And it’s in these moments we can feel, like Daniel, “overwhelmed,” tired, and breathless. Let’s continue by seeing what eventually provided Daniel the strength he so desperately needed.
Daniel 10:18-19, “Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!’ So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’”
In the case of Daniel, God sent an angel to touch and strengthen him. Again, in Hebrews, we learn angels have the capacity to minister and encourage the saints of God. And yet, if Daniel was strengthened by an angel that touched him, how much more should you and I find our strength in the Holy Spirit that indwells us? Notice the angel commanded Daniel, “Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong.” Always remember your strength and peace are not found in something you do, but remembering who He’s made you!
I’m also struck by the fact that for the third time Daniel is reminded of God’s great love for Him. Anytime you find a phrase repeated so often it tells you it’s important. “O man greatly beloved!” Daniel needed to hear it! Why? Remember how much God loved him was to cause Daniel to “fear not!” Christian, our motivating strength to be faithful in our calling in this world should never be to prove our love for God but to exist as a response to God’s great love for us. When God loves you what do you really have to fear?
1 John 4:17-19, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”
Daniel had been praying and this angel was dispatched with a message… In verse 14 he said he’d come “to make Daniel understand what would happen to his people in the latter days” adding “the vision refers to many days yet to come.” Daniel wasn’t sure he could handle more bad news, but now that he’s been strengthened he’s ready to roll.
Daniel 10:20-11:2a, “Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. (The spiritual battle around us is constant and continual.) But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince. (There were no chapter breaks in the original text… Daniel 11:1) Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm (install) and strengthen him. (It appears this angel had been charged with making sure Darius the Mede was the one placed on the throne in Babylon.) And now I will tell you the truth…”
Before we get into this prophecy, I want to point out this chapter is so detailed and specific critics of the Bible have tried to make the case it must have been written by someone other than Daniel years after the events occurred and not a future prophecy given to Daniel some 375 years ahead of time. One of the reasons this argument is made is that it’s estimated that within these 35 verses we have 135 prophecies already fulfilled in history.
To the critical accusation, the specificity of a prophecy like this must be evidence someone wrote it after seeing the future play itself out — I’d completely agree with it! It’s not an accident 25% of your Bible is prophecy. You see the exacting nature of what’s precisely recorded about future events from men living years beforehand should be seen as evidence this Book is the Word of a God who knows the end from the beginning.
I should warn you the first 35 verses of this chapter can be tough sledding for two simple reasons. For starters, it seems repetitive. While there are more details provided in this passage and new material will be introduced towards the end, it’s true a great portion of this prophecy is a repeating of an earlier revelation given to Daniel in chapter 8.
The second reason this chapter can be difficult to follow along with centers on the fact if you don’t like history — specifically 2nd and 3rd century BC Greek history, you’re going to find the subject matter really boring. And yet, regardless of how you feel, as we work through the text, don’t forget these things were written 300 years before they happened.
Let’s do this… This angel continuing to Daniel (Daniel 11:2b), “Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.”
Following King Cyrus who’s a contemporary of Daniel, the angel tells him “three more kings will arise in Persia,” but “the fourth” would be noteworthy. Historically, we know this fourth king was Xerxes — who’s 21-year reign took place between the years 485 and 464 BC. By the way, Xerxes is the same Persian King central to the wonderful story of Esther.
As we’re told in verse two, Xerxes was “far richer than all” the Persian kings who’d come before him. It’s equally true “by his strength” and “through his riches” Xerxes was able to “stir up all against the realm of Greece.” In fact, Xerxes would lead a massive Persian army to put down a growing threat from the Greeks. On August 20, 480 BC Xerxes would prove victorious over King Leonidas and the 300 of Sparta in the Battle of Thermopylae.
Daniel 11:3-4, “Then (after these things) a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity (biological heirs) nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.”
In the year 336 BC, a 20-year old Macedonian who’d been a pupil of Aristotle assumed the throne of his father Philip. This “mighty king” was named Alexander. Driven by visions of grandeur and world dominance, Alexander would “do according to his will.” Against great odds, he was able to defeat the Persians and proceed to conquer the known world in a little more than a decade. By the age of 32, Alexander the Great “ruled with great dominion.”
Tragically, “when he had arisen” to the hight of his power, Alexander unexpectedly became ill and died in the ancient city of Babylon. Without a successor “among his posterity” or a capable second in command able to lead “according to his dominion,” Alexander’s Empire was quickly “uprooted, broken up, and divided” among “four” of his strongest generals.
Cassander ruled Greece. Lysimachus (lie-sim-a-cus) governed an area known as Asia Minor which included Macedonia. Seleucus assumed control over Syria, Israel, and the lands east — Babylon and Persia. And Ptolemy was given charge over Egypt and Northern Africa.
Just a warning, this is where things begin to bog down… Daniel 11:5, “Also the king of the South shall become strong, as well as one of his princes; and he shall gain power over him and have dominion. His dominion shall be a great dominion.”
Among these four separate kingdoms that made up Alexander’s unified Grecian Empire, our attention specifically turns to two of the four. We have “the king of the South” which was Ptolemy of Egypt, “as well as one of his princes” which we will soon learn to be a reference to the Grecian “king of the North” or Seleucus of Syria.
For the next 150 years, these two powers would be in constant conflict with one another. Now the only reason this matters is that situated directly between them was Israel who’d constantly find herself caught in the crosshairs of these many wars. In fact, the reason they’re referenced geographically as the “South” and “North” was their proximity to Israel.
While in the beginning, the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt would be stronger, over time the Seleucid Empire would “gain power” and “greater dominion” over the South.
Daniel 11:6, “And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times.”
“At the end of some years” speeds up the storyline to the mid-250’s. After constant fighting, the kings of the North and South decided to “join forces.” To accomplish this “agreement” the “daughter” of the southern king Ptolemy II (her name was Berenice) was given in marriage to the king of the North — a man named Antiochus II. The first misstep to this arrangement was it required Antiochus put away his current wife Laodice.
Prophetically, we’re told, in the end, Berenice would “not retain the power of her authority.” This was fulfilled the moment her father Ptolemy II died. No sooner than the man’s body had been laid in the ground, Antiochus sent Berenice away so that he could be reunited with his love Laodice. That said, we also read that “neither he nor his authority would stand.”
It’s been said, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” There’s probably no greater example of this than Laodice. As you can rightly imagine she was a bit upset with her husband over the entire ordeal so she ends up poisoning Antiochus and watches him die.
We then read that Berenice would be “given up with those who brought her.” After killing Antiochus, Laodice swiftly moves to have Berenice and all her attendants murdered along with the newborn son that had provided this woman “strength in those times.” In the end, Laodice’s actions insured her son Seleucus II would assume the throne.
Daniel 11:7-8, “But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place (one of Berenice’s family members), who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail. And he shall also carry their gods captive to Egypt, with their princes and their precious articles of silver and gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the North.”
Naturally, the Ptolemies in the south were none-to-happy about everything that had transpired with Berenice. In the end, to avenge his sister's death, Ptolemy III came north “with an army, entered the fortress of the king, and dealt” accordingly. Though he spared Seleucus II’s life, Ptolemy III took the Seleucid “gods captive” back “to Egypt” along with a group of “their princes and precious articles of silver and gold.” In fact, Ptolemy III’s reign would end up “continuing more years than the king of the North” — Seleucus II.
Daniel 11:9-10, “Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land. However his sons shall stir up strife, and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one shall certainly come and overwhelm and pass through; then he shall return to his fortress and stir up strife.”
While for a time the Ptolemies would have the upper hand. But this would all change when two of Seleucus II’s sons — Seleucus III and Antiochus III (who I’m going to refer to moving forward as Three) led military incursions south. Not only would these men “assemble a multitude of great forces,” but they would be successful in “stirring up strife.”
Well, in response to their actions… Daniel 11:11-12, “And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy. When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail.”
Upset by the aggressive actions of the Seleucid Dynasty, “the king of the South” — who was now Ptolemy IV — decided to take on Three who’s now “the king of the North” even though he was vastly outnumbered. Though Three’s “heart was lifted up” in pride believing his armies would prevail, he suffered a stinging defeat losing “tens of thousands” of men. In their victory, the Ptolemies were also able to expand their territories to now include Israel.
As you can imagine, Three couldn’t wait for a rematch… Daniel 11:13-16, “For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment. Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South (by this point power had transitioned from Ptolemy IV to his son Ptolemy V). Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall.
So the king of the North (Antiochus III) shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.”
Embarrassed by his earlier defeat, Three returned north to Syria to regroup. After “some years” he was able to “muster” an even greater army than before with “much equipment.” Even though the armies of Ptolemy V put up a fight, with the help of the Jewish people who joined the fight against the Ptolemies, Three proved victorious regaining the territories he’d previously lost. Again, this would include “the Glorious Land” of Israel.
Daniel 11:17, “He (Antiochus III) shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do. And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him.”
In a shrewd political move on account he had the upper hand, Three attempted to mend fences with Ptolemy V by extending to him the hand of his daughter Cleopatra I. (The Cleopatra you’re familiar with would be Cleopatra VII). Three’s plan was to use his daughter to gain influence in Egypt hoping, in the end, he might be able to use her to take power.
To Three’s great disappointment Cleopatra did “not stand with him or be for him.” Instead, she fell deeply in love with Ptolemy V and remained loyal to him all her days. In fact, the two were married in 194 BC, eventually had three kids, and lived happily ever after.
Daniel 11:18-19, “After this he (Antiochus III) shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.”
Seeing that his plans to take Egypt covertly using his daughter had backfired, power-hungry Three recruits the aid of a famous general from Carthage named Hannibal and turns his attention northward. His plan was to conquer Asia Minor and Greece. To his chagrin, he lost in spectacular fashion. Soon after Three would pass a defeated and broke man.
Daniel 11:20, “There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle.”
Following the death of his father Three, as the eldest son, Seleucus IV would take the throne. Still struggling under the financial ruin of his father’s failed conquests, Seleucus IV decided to “imposes taxes” on his subjects including the “glorious kingdom” — Israel.
As is the case increased taxation drew the ire of those in his kingdom. As such, his reign was cut short when he’s assassinated fulfilling the prophecy that he “shall be destroyed, but not in anger or battle.” The rumor was his brother Antiochus IV had him whacked!
At this point please note the prophecy is beginning to round into form… Daniel 11:21, “And in his place (Seleucus IV) shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.”
The man who assumed the throne after Seleucus IV was his youngest brother Antiochus IV. History confirms that this man was “a vile person” or literally a despicable human being. Because Antiochus IV was so far down the succession pole, he was not generally recognized or “given the honor” of even being “royalty.” That said, through the use of flattery (“intrigue”), he was able to “peaceably seize the kingdom” for himself anyway.
Historically, we know Antiochus IV became the new king of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BC. Aside from being brutal and shrewd, there is no question he a lofty view of himself. Soon after taking the throne, he changes his name to Antiochus Epiphanes — God Manifest!
In verses 22-27 we have described in great detail Antiochus Epiphanes' successful conquest of Egypt in 170 BC. Daniel 11:22-27, “With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.
He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South (Ptolemy VI) with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him.
Yes, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him; his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. Both these kings’ hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.”
Thinking Antiochus Epiphanes was ill-prepared for the job, the Ptolemies devised a plan to attack. What they didn’t anticipate was, in desperate need of funds, Antiochus Epiphanes launched a pre-emptive assault against Egypt capturing every city but Alexandria!
In the end, Antiochus Epiphanes “did what his father had not done, nor his forefathers.” Not only did he defeat the majority of the Ptolemaic forces “dispersing among them the plunder, spoil, and riches,” but he captured Ptolemy VI. Sitting across “the same table” these two men reach an accord that allowed Ptolemy VI to remain in power but only as a puppet of Antiochus. As one could expect “both these kings’ hearts were bent on evil.”
Daniel 11:28, “While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land.”
Emboldened by his successes, Antiochus Epiphanes returned from Egypt and interjected himself in Israel’s religious affairs by replacing the rightful High Priest with someone who would be his pawn. This man was determined to impose Hellenistic culture onto the Jewish people. It was a direct “move against the holy covenant” that caused severe “damage.”
Daniel 11:29-30a, “At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south (this would be a second attack on Egypt); but it shall not be like the former or the latter. For ships from Cyprus shall come against him…”
When it became clear Ptolemy VI had reneged on their agreement, Antiochus Epiphanes launches a second attack on Egypt. This time he ended up being flanked by the Roman Navy dispatched “from Cyprus.” As Antiochus approached Alexandria, history tells us his path was blocked by an elderly Roman ambassador named Gaius Laenas who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt or consider himself in a state of war with the Roman Republic.
Hoping to buy himself some time, Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council. In response, this elderly statesman drew a line in the sand around him and said, “Before you leave this circle, give me a reply that I can take back to the Roman Senate.” Antiochus had no choice but to relent and withdraw his forces. It was a humiliating moment.
Daniel 11:30b, “Therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. (Enraged and embarrassed, Antiochus Epiphanes came into Judea to take out his frustration. 2 Maccabees 5 records how he ended up slaughtering 80,000 Jews in a period of three days.) So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.” (Historically, we know the only Jews spared in this massacre were the ones who’d adopted Hellenistic culture and forsaken their religious heritage.)
Daniel 11:31-35, “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (Josephus records how Antiochus enters the Temple on the Sabbath, erects an idol of Zeus in the Holy Place, slaughters a pig in desecration sprinkling the blood all over the holy artifacts — officially putting an end to the daily sacrifices.)
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. (Again, we know from the annuals that in response to the actions of Antiochus, in 168 BC the Maccabean Revolt began.)
Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.” (In the end, it would take three years, but in 165 BC the Jewish people were successful in freeing themselves from Seleucid control and reinstituting the Temple sacrifices. Soon after, under mysterious circumstances, Antiochus Epiphanes would die!)
We have to stop here, but with this evil man Antiochus Epiphanes as the prism, beginning with verse 36, another vial man called the Antichrist will start to come into view. More details about him and his future will be laid out in the final verses of Daniel 11 than in maybe any other place in the Bible. Aside from this, we will also see his conquest and ultimate destruction at the culmination of the final Battle of Armageddon.
I’ve heard history defined as HIS-STORY and I believe that’s true. Daniel 11 is a profound example of this because it proves God knows what will happen before it ever happens. Nothing is outside of His sovereign will or direct control. This morning be encouraged by this reality. Whatever situation you’re facing… Whatever has you filled with fear… Whatever you’re stressing out about, is not outside of God’s plan for your life. My friends, may you hold fast to the promise of Romans 8:28, “For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
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