Last Sunday we worked our way through the lion’s share of a prophecy articulated to Daniel by an angel sent from God. Setting the stage for the prophecy itself, way back in Daniel 10:14 the angel tells this old man, “I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days” adding “the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
One of the most magnificent aspects of this prophecy is not only the copious amount of specific details we have provided, but the fact so much of what’s being articulated has already been fulfilled in history! In case you missed last Sunday, let me give you a quick rundown of the events documented in this chapter we’ve already seen come to fruition.
In verse 2 we have the rise of the Persian King Xerxes and his conquests of the Grecian Isles. In verses 3 and 4 we then see the rapid ascent of Alexander the Great followed by an almost equally quick dismantling and dividing of his Empire into four separate kingdoms.
Of these four kingdoms, verse 5 centers our attention onto the Seleucids of Syria in the North and the Ptolemies of Egypt in the South. The next 30 verses document for us the significant events that would occur during the 150 years they war with one another.
Ultimately, the reason this prophecy spends so much time describing in great detail the interactions of these two Grecian kingdoms is that the land of Israel and therefore people of God sat directly between them. Because of their geographic location, year after year the Hebrews would find themselves caught in the crossfire of the Seleucids and Ptolemies.
In the end, the succession of the various kings of the North and their interactions with the various kings of the South was designed to bring us to a Seleucid king named Antiochus Epiphanes. First mentioned in verse 21, he’s described as being “a vile person, to whom they would not give the honor of royalty.” And yet, almost in contrast to this description, we’re told, “He shall come in peaceably and seize the kingdom by intrigue.”
From verses 21 to 35 this prophecy provides a dazzling accounting of two different excursions of Antiochus Epiphanes into Egypt. While his first jaunt south proved to be successful, his second attack ends up being thwarted by the intervention of the powerful Roman navy. The entire ordeal ends up being a total embarrassment for Antiochus.
Humiliated and hot with rage, we read that as he makes his way back north to Syria, Antiochus decides to take out his frustrations on the Jewish people. Over the course of just three days, the armies of this madman slaughter in upwards of 80,000 Hebrews! In addition to this, in verse 31, we’re provided another description of the abominable action of Antiochus that ended up bringing the Temple itself into a place of utter desolation. It’s why we call it the Abomination of Desolation — it’s an abominable act that desolates!
With Antiochus Epiphanes being our lens, beginning with verse 36, it appears the prophecy intentionally zooms out into the future focusing on another vial man who’ll come onto the scene eerily similar to this Seleucid king. In a profound way, Antiochus Epiphanes foreshadows a future leader we’ll come to know as the Antichrist.
I don’t want to belabor this point, but it’s worth explaining why and how we see these two infamous characters (Antiochus Epiphanes and the future Antichrist) as being so inter-connected… Ultimately, the reason we do this comes back to a sermon given by Jesus.
Some 600 years after Daniel recorded his prophecies, Matthew 24 opens with Jesus looking over the Temple and prophesying that the building was going to be completely destroyed.
In response to what would have clearly been a rather shocking statement, we’re told, “The disciples come to Him privately, asking, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” Because they were all sitting on the Mount of Olives when this interaction took place, the sermon Jesus proceeds to teach — designed to answer their questions — becomes known as the Olivet Discourse.
Now what’s so fascinating about this sermon is what Jesus says beginning with verse 15. He says, “Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.”
Jesus then cautions, “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
When you study the “abomination of desolation” as it’s presented in the Book of Daniel you will notice the same verbiage surfaces in three separate places: Daniel 8, 9, and 11. There is no question from the context and particulars of Daniel 8 and 11 portions of the “abomination” being described were historically fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanies in 168 BC.
And yet, in the Olivet Discourse, it’s equally undeniable that in 32 AD Jesus viewed the “abomination spoken of by Daniel the prophet” as still being a future event that would be committed by someone else entirely. In fact, Jesus goes one step further by also pointing to this coming event as “the sign of His second coming and the end of the age.”
As a student of Scripture, this is where the third mention of the “abomination of desolation” recorded in Daniel 9:26-27 becomes significant. Let me quickly read this section… Daniel 9:26-27, “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
As we’ve discussed previously, what’s revealed to Daniel in the 70-Weeks Prophecy as it relates to this “abomination” contextually could not have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes and was without a doubt this future event Jesus was referring too.
That said, the fact God intentionally describes this future event recorded in Daniel 9 using the same terminology as the abomination referenced in both Daniel 8 and 11 we understand the abomination of desolation committed by Antiochus in 168 BC, intended to illustrate prophetically what this future abomination committed by the Antichrist would look like…
As we know an idol would be set up in the Temple, the people would be forced into its worship, all legitimate sacrifices to the God of Israel would cease, and an incredible persecution of the Jews would commence. And it’s because these two events are prophetically layered (one in the past and one in the future), it's only logical the men who committed these abominations would also be similar. This is how we make and substantiate the prophetic correlation between Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist.
One side note… There are some within Christianity who, in an attempt to fit the Bible into their eschatology (the study of the end times), argue the Olivet Discourse was actually fulfilled when the Roman general Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. They’ll point out the predicate to the disciple’s question that spawned the Olivet Discourse centered on Jesus’ prophecy “that not one stone” of the Temple “would be left upon another.”
And yet, while it’s true Jesus’ prophecy about the Temple was fulfilled in 70 AD because He points to this future “abomination of desolation” as being an indicator the end of the world was near, we have to conclude what Jesus describes in this sermon must possess a future fulfillment since we can definitively say the “abomination” did not occur in 70 AD! There is zero historical evidence Titus desecrated the Temple in a similar way as Antiochus!
Before we move on, with all of this in mind, there is an interesting implication in holding the position “the abomination spoken of by Daniel” and referenced by Jesus still possesses a future fulfillment — and it centers on the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple. Today, prophetically, in order for the Antichrist to make desolate a Temple, you actually need a Temple!
While the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was scrubbed clean by the Romans in 70 AD leaving behind nothing but the Western Wall. And over the next thousand years, the site came to house two different Muslim holy sites. Presently, there is a group of orthodox Jews — the Temple Institute — ready to rebuild the Temple the moment they’re given the green light.
From their website, the intentions of the Temple Institute are crystal clear… “The major focus of the Institute is its efforts towards the beginning of the actual rebuilding of the Holy Temple. Towards this end, the Institute has begun to restore and construct the sacred vessels for the service of the Holy Temple. They are made according to the exact specifications and have been constructed from the original source materials, such as gold, copper, silver, and wood. These are authentic, accurate vessels, not merely replicas or models. All of these items are fit and ready for use in the service of the Holy Temple.
Among the many items are musical instruments played by the Levitical choir, the golden crown of the High Priest (as well as his garments), and gold and silver vessels used in the incense and sacrificial services. After many years of effort and toil, the Institute has completed the three most important and central vessels of the Divine service: the seven-branched candelabra, or Menorah, made of pure gold; the golden Incense Altar, and the golden Table of the Showbread.” What’s really interesting is the Temple Institute believes they could have the Third Temple constructed and fully operational in 3 to 3½ years.
If you take the time to read through the Temple Institute’s website — and specifically the writings of their founder Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, you’ll quickly come to see these Jews believe the Temple must be rebuilt in order for the Messiah to appear. As one of the first Israeli soldiers to reach the Temple Mount at the culmination of the Six-Day War, Ariel writes…
“This led to a certain sense of letdown that so many of us experienced. After all, we have arrived at the threshold of the Holy Temple: we are standing at the Western Wall — where is the Messiah? … Through the years, the more I studied the more I began to understand that we had only ourselves and our own inaction to hold accountable: G-d does not intend for us to wait for a day of miracles. We are expected to act. We must accomplish that with which we have been charged: to do all in our power to prepare for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, and the renewal of the divine service. In the passing of time, as I pursued my studies, I discovered that our expectations were simply misplaced.”
Today, there are basically two big hurdles to the rebuilding of the Third Temple. First, Israelis are largely secular and anti-religious. The simple truth is there is no public support in Israel to rebuild a Temple. The second issue is the Temple Mount is currently under Arab control on account of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock being located there. Before a Temple project could begin these two landmines would have to be addressed.
Knowing this prophecy will now morph from a discussion of Antiochus Epiphanes to the Antichrist… Daniel 11:36-37, “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.”
Again, how do we know we’ve transitioned from talking about Antiochus Epiphanes to the Antichrist? Look again at that line in verse 37, “He shall not regard the God of his fathers.” As a plain fact of history, we know Antiochus Epiphanes was a devout polytheist. Case in point, in his desecration of the Temple, he doesn’t hail himself to be God, but instead erects a statue of Zeus — one of the main gods of “his fathers” founded in Greek mythology!
Looking forward to the Antichrist let’s unpack what these verses reveal to us… First, we read how he “will do according to his own will.” It’s a truth that so many of our leaders and politicians are just figureheads — empty suits and pantsuits to do the bidding of others.
So many of the people on the world stage are nothing more than marionettes put in place to enact the will of the powerful influencers behind the scenes pulling their strings and writing their talking-points. We know political parties, activists, super PACs, lobbyists, big corp, Wall Street, the donor class, media barons, shadowy figures, billionaire tycoons, the Bilderberg group are really the one’s making the decisions that affect our daily lives.
What will make the Antichrist unique is that he will be beholden to no one. He “will do according to his own will.” You see the Antichrist will not be indebted to or in the pocket of anyone. Now the question begs… How does a leader achieve control apart from the wishes of the establishment class? Historically, we know it’s always populist movements that rise when the people revolt that ends up yielding leaders with absolute power with little accountability.
Secondly, we’re told the Antichrist will “speak blasphemies against the God of gods.” You know we live in a time where our leaders are still compelled to pay lip service to Christians because we make up a substantial voting block. However, by the time the Antichrist rises, he will no longer feel the need to play that game or capitulate. He will “speak blasphemies.” His contempt for Jesus and His followers will be out in the open.
Thirdly, we read the Antichrist will “exalt and magnify himself above every god.” Aside from being blatantly anti-Christian, this man will view himself as a replacement Christ. The Antichrist is not an Atheist in the conventional sense. Instead of the masses depending on religion or the state, the Antichrist will set up a system whereby people must depend on him for everything. You can keep your god as long as you “exalt” him first and foremost.
Fourth, we read how the Antichrist “shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women.” While in other passages we know this man will rise to prominence in a revived form of the Roman Empire — meaning the Antichrist will likely come out of Europe, what’s interesting is this subtle detail that he will not “regard the God of his fathers” may very well indicate, while European, he will be ethnically Jewish.
If the Antichrist does come out of the Jewish community, it would explain why initially they see him as their Messiah. Not only is he able to provide Israel peace and security with her neighbors, but in all likelihood as part of the arrangement, he allows the Temple to be rebuilt.
Some believe this phrase that he will not regard “the desire of women” as evidence the Antichrist is either be homosexual or asexual. In the context of Daniel and his Hebrew audience, I think this is a bit of a stretch. Rooted all the way back in the very first Messianic prophecy given to Eve in the Garden concerning the “Seed of the woman,” this phrase “the desire of women” was typically used to describe the longing of all virgin women in Israel to be chosen by God to be the mother the coming Savior.
To this point, in 1 John 2:22, we read, “He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.” If the Antichrist is of Jewish descent, this description of him not regarding “the God of his fathers nor the desire of women” probably indicates he abandoned his Jewish upbringing. He doesn’t regard God the Father nor does he believe in the Messianic promise.
Lastly, in spite of all of these things, the Antichrist will “prosper till the wrath has been accomplished.” In a world crumbling around him, this man will “prosper” or literally advance, make progress, or be successful. You know when the word “prosper” ends up being used for such a godless, wicked man you have to rethink the Prosperity Gospel — the idea that monetary blessings and worldly success are the evidence of God’s pleasure.
Daniel 11:38-39, “But in their place (the gods he exalts himself above) he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.”
Upfront there is some debate as to what’s being described in these verses. A case can be made that in “honoring a god of fortresses” the Antichrist will take power and in turn prosper by accumulating wealth through the sheer force of military might. To those who pledge their allegiance, he will “divide the land for gain” allowing others “to rule over many.”
While this reading is entirely possible, what’s interesting is this description that this “god of fortress” was “a god his fathers did not know” lends the impression that potentially something more sinister may be at play. It could be that behind the scenes the Antichrist was really beholden to the power of Satan and the demonic forces at work in the world.
Daniel 11:40, “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him (the Antichrist and his armies); and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.”
Back in verse 26, we read this Antichrist would “prosper,” but not indefinitely. We’re told he was allowed to have his way “till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” The one thing the Antichrist never sees is the fact he’s not actually the one in charge. God allowed him to rise and gain his power. God had a list of things He was “determined” to “accomplish” and He’s set aside seven years to do it. The Antichrist was simply a pawn on God’s chessboard doing His bidding.
With regards to what work God would use these seven years to get done… We know God would use this period of Great Tribulation to judge the world for its sin, wickedness, and rejection of Jesus. In fact, it’s what the phrase “the wrath” is describing. Aside from this, we also know it would be though the deliberate deception of the Antichrist that God would open the eyes of the Jewish people to finally see Jesus as their Christ.
This phrase “at the time of the end” indicates God’s work was nearing completion and that the Antichrist’s reign was about to expire. In what is likely a description of the final Battle of Armageddon, the first movement against the Antichrist comes from the “king of the South” working in cahoots with “the king of the North.” While their “attack” was “like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and many ships,” we’re told the Antichrist “overwhelms them.”
Not to sound like a broken record, but there really isn’t a consensus among scholars as to who the “king of the South” and “the North” are referring to in this end-times scenario.
Daniel 11:41, “He (Antichrist) shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.” In this final conflict, the Antichrist will conquer “many countries” ultimately “entering the Glorious Land” of Israel placing it under his control. That said, “Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon” or Jordan will “escape his hand.” It’s likely Jordan is protected because she ends up harboring Jewish refugees (i.e. City of Petra).
Daniel 11:42-43, “He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.” The countries of what we’d consider Northern Africa will fall to his hand.
Daniel 11:44-45, “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. (This Hebrew word translated “great fury” describes someone heated and irate. This bad “news” causes him to go blind with rage.) And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”
In order to round out what’s being described in these final two verses of Daniel 11, I want to read for you a few related passages of Scripture. In Revelation 16 we read, “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. (Consistent with this, Daniel 11:44 opens with “news from the east and north troubling him.” Using the dried riverbed of the Euphrates, a massive army from the east comes to make war with the Antichrist.)
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist), and the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty... to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.” (Initially, the Battle of Armageddon will begin as the final war for world supremacy.)
Jumping ahead to the actual Battle of Armageddon recorded for us in Revelation 19… “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood…
And His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
And I saw the beast (who Daniel says had set up “the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain”), the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”
While the world initially gathered to make war against one another (the armies from the east and north to challenge the Antichrist), upon the arrival of Jesus, their collective attention turns to battle Him. According to Revelation 14, the slaughter brought about by Jesus ends up being so great the blood in the Valley of Megiddo rose to the “horses bridles.”
Daniel 11:45 tells us that at the end of his run there would be “no one to help” the Antichrist. Again, Revelation 19 records, “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” While we have to stop here, Daniel 12 will pick things up directly following this epic battle!
In closing… In a study that spent so much time discussing the Antichrist, I want to come back to the much larger idea of an Antichrist. While it’s true this man would be anti-Jesus in the sense he would stand against Him, in the Greek “anti” simply means in place of. It’s not so much this Antichrist hates Jesus. Instead, he presents himself to the world as an alternative to Jesus — a replacement savior, an idol, or a counterfeit god.
Though you might think accepting a man as being your savior or god sounds farfetched and outlandish, in truth, it’ll actually be a very natural progression for much of humanity. In fact, while most are completely oblivious to the reality, many people today are already worshiping at the altar of a myriad of different types of replacement saviors or antichrists!
One of my favorite movie quotes comes from The Usual Suspects. Verbal Kint — one of two characters played by Kevin Spacey — says to the investigator, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” It’s true! For so many their first mistake of life is when they allow their temporal cares to blind them of their eternal reality!
The reason this is so dangerous is when it happens — when you lose sight of eternity and get so wrapped up in this terrestrial existence, it’s only natural that you eventually substitute hell for the one you define. Hell becomes the person or thing you blame for your misery. With this in mind, people will define their hell as being poor, fat, insignificant, or lonely. In other cases, you’ll hear people refer to their marriage, job, or living situation as being a “living hell.”
Logically, once you’ve defined hell — the source of your misery, most are then compelled to search for something or someone to save them. If hell is being poor, a job, career, or status becomes a savior. If hell is being fat and all the body image issues that arise, it’s only natural your savior becomes the gym, workout routine, diet, or a healthy lifestyle.
If hell is feeling insignificant or as if your life has no purpose, your savior will become a cause to fight for, a hobby to immerse yourself in, a sports team to get behind, a scene to join, or even an educational pursuit. If loneliness is your hell, your savior will become a boyfriend or girlfriend, a group of friends, in some cases a pet.
Again, if hell is your marriage, divorce becomes your redeemer or an affair a good reprieve. If it’s a job that’s the source of your misery, quitting your remedy. If it’s your living situation, anyone that opens their doors to give you an alternative will be seen as a savior.
It stands to reason, saviors logically demand worship. They always do! You see the final step in this progression is that once you’ve defined hell and pinpointed a savior, that person or thing will be your christ. They will occupy the most preeminent place in your heart and life. In fact, all of your time, energy, efforts, and money will be given over to this savior because you believe in making such sacrifices they’ll save you from your hell and misery.
What you need to realize this morning is antichrists (anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ) always fail and in the end bring down any and all who place their trust in them! Daniel writes, “He shall come to his end and no one will help him!” Here’s why this is the case… Because you misdiagnosed hell (your core problem), you’ve misdefined your ultimate remedy, which in turn led you into the worship of a false savior. You will always worship antichrists if you fail to correctly diagnose your fundamental problem.
Friend, you can pursue all the riches in this world believing they’ll make you happy, but remain empty. You can tone your legs and abs but still remain insecure. You can party to relieve the pain, but you’ll always wake up feeling a greater sense of misery. You can give everything to a cause and still be left believing there has to be something more to this life.
While these things are real, in the end, please realize they’re nothing more than symptoms of a much deeper ill. I know it’s hard to accept, but your problem is you — it’s sin, it’s a fallenness, a fundamental brokenness within caused by a separation you have with your Maker. And until you accept this reality you will fill your life with little idols powerless to save!
But there is great news… This cancer called sin, the separation with God you sense, and the internal struggles killing you slowly are the very things Jesus came to save you from! Accept the problem and then look to your Savior! Luke 19:9-10, “Today salvation has come to this house… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”