October 21, 2018
Manifestations of a Madman
Pastor Bryan Watson
Our scripture passage for this morning is from Daniel 11 verses 29 to 45. As before, I’m going to go through this verse by verse. I realize that the prophetic portions of Daniel are hard to follow, and sometimes the sermons go a little long because there is no logical break point. Today is going to be a bit of a challenge as well, because I’m going to be flipping back and forth between Daniel and the Book of Revelation. But that’s just the way it is with this type of topic. I encourage you to listen to the message again online, and on the back of the bulletin, on your sermon notes page, I have included some comparative verses for you to check out for yourselves later.
But I encourage you to hang in there today, because what is more important than the nitty gritty details is the underlying message that God is trying to tell us. And that is this: He is sovereign. He loves you. He is offering salvation to you, but there is only one name by which we can be saved, and that is Jesus Christ! So stay tuned to the end to find out more about that.
But before we begin, please bow your heads with me in prayer.
In my last message, we continued through the paces of time, through various Kings of the South and Kings of the North, through schemes and plots and twists, while the body count rose like a Hollywood drama. Finally, we arrived at a particular king of the north, a Seleucid king named Antiochus IV.
If you recall, Antiochus IV took the kingdom by intrigue, through scheming and dealing and treachery. He called himself “Epiphanes”, meaning “The Illustrious One”, and coins have been found with his likeness, bearing the inscription “Theos Epiphanes” or “God Manifest”. His subjects, however, in a play on words mockingly called him “Epimanes”, or Madman.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes was, in fact, the Little Horn in Daniel 8, a forerunner to the Antichrist. As you can see in this table, He is the little horn from the goat (or the Greek Empire), who serves as an example of what we can expect when the Little Horn of Daniel 7, the horn from the terrible beast that is the Roman Empire, takes his place as the Antichrist at some point in the future.
Since Satan’s attempt to wipe out the lineage of the coming Messiah through war between Syria and Egypt did not work, he is changing his strategy. Through Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Satan turns his wrath directly upon the Jewish people.
As I give this message to you today, I want you to remember something vitally important. Remember this. Remember. I am not telling you a story that is a fable or a fairy tale. Instead, I am reading to you recorded prophecy that was written in the 6th century BC, and I am following each verse with the recorded historical events that happened in the 2nd century BC, some 350 years after the prophecies were written. You will do well to remember that and ponder it.
We pick up the historical events in verses 29 and 30, as the angel continues relaying the prophecy to Daniel...
29 “At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter.
30 For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage.
“So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.
Once again, Antiochus attempted to attack Egypt. However, seeking to keep the region in check, the Roman Navy under Popilius Laenas pressured Antiochus to withdraw from Egypt altogether. His frustration growing, Antiochus turns his wrath upon the Jews, with the exception of those who turned their back on the worship of Yahweh to become Hellenistic Greeks.
Verse 31 - 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.
In a hostile act intended to do away with Judaism, Antiochus outlawed the daily sacrifice at the temple. He defiled the altar by sacrificing pigs on it, and forcing the priests to eat the pork. Finally, in an act that the Bible calls “the abomination of desolation”, a statue of Zeus was placed in the temple itself, and according to 2 Maccabees 6:2, the temple itself was renamed the Temple of Zeus Olympius.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Details about Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews was previously given to Daniel in chapter 8, verses 9-12 and verses 23-25, and I had preached on that previously.
Verse 32 - 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.
Antiochus had a way with people. If flattery and bribery don’t work, then brute intimidation could be effective, too. However, there was a group of people, spurred by the patriotic act of a priest named Mattathias, who formed a resistance against Antiochus and the Jews who abandoned their faith. These Hasidic Jews, who were known as the Maccabees, were led by Mattathias’ sons: Judas, Jonathan, and Simon.
Verse 33 - 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.
The Jewish leaders who remained faithful to their God and to their nation continued to preach messages of repentance and commitment to God. These were extremely trying times, because disobedience to the ruling tyrant did not mean the loss of a tax exemption, but rather, that you would be executed in a manner that would serve as an example to all. There are details that I am not comfortable sharing in a sermon like this, but I will just say that Antiochus had an active imagination when it came to torture and execution, and he also had the power to carry it out.
It was in 168 BC that the prophecy about the revolt against Antiochus began to be fulfilled, as proclaimed in Zechariah 9:13 –
“For I have bent Judah, My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim, And raised up your sons, O Zion, Against your sons, O Greece, And made you like the sword of a mighty man.”
Are you kidding me?!?!? Why in the world is there a prophecy about the Maccabean revolt stuck in the middle of the book of Zechariah? When I came across this verse while I was writing this sermon, I had to pause. I WEPT! I was so overwhelmed. When we write sermons, we write from a perspective of awe and faithfulness. But in that moment, I felt like I came face to face with God Almighty.
Zechariah lived around 520 BC, around 350 years before these events took place. He wasn’t Daniel. He prophesied at the end of the captivity, and was one of the people encouraging the rebuilding of the temple after the captivity. Greece was nothing at the time he wrote this verse. There was no reason to expect a conflict between the Jews and the Greeks! And as far as I know, the ONLY time that the sons of Zion would rise up against the sons of Greece would be the Maccabean revolt!
How do people honestly believe that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God? EXPLAIN THIS TO ME IF GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR!!!
You know, people refer to the 400 years between the end of the Old Testament writings and the beginning of the New Testament writings as “the silent years.” They weren’t silent at all. This was the time of the Kings of the North and South, and the fulfilment of prophecy was SCREAMING that GOD IS SOVEREIGN!!!
But back to 168 BC and the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. It was then that Mattathias the priest killed one of Antiochus’ soldiers who had come to enforce the worship of idols in the temple. He and his sons led a guerilla war against Antiochus and his troops, and the idolatrous Jews who had turned their back on God and pledged allegiance to Antiochus and his false gods.
Verse 34 - Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.
Keep in mind that Antiochus had the upper hand, as he was backed by the strength of a trained military, going up against a band of priests and peasants, so Antiochus continued to carry the battle against them. The reference here to “a little help” probably refers to the faithful Jews from other Judean cities who came to help. Mattathias died before the revolt was complete, and his son, Judas Maccabaeus became the leader of the guerillas. In reality, Maccabaeus wasn’t actually his name, but was more of a descriptor. It meant, “The Hammer”, and for good reason, as we will see.
At the end of verse 34, we see the phrase, “but many shall join with them by intrigue.” Scholars believe that this refers to the time when God started to turn the tide of battle in the favor of the Maccabees. After defeating one Seleucid battalion after another, Judas “The Hammer” Maccabaeus turned his attention to his fellow countrymen who had joined with Antiochus. Many of these Jewish traitors conveniently “converted back” in order to save their own skins. Thus, they “joined with them” by intrigue, but not out of sincere repentance.
It was also in this chain of events, as Judas Maccabaeus captured the temple back from Antiochus, that the arduous task of cleansing the temple from this pagan defilement took place. The temple was filled with idols and pork blood was splashed on the walls and soaked into the floor, and who knows what else. And we thought Hoffman school was hard to clean and prepare as a place of worship!
The result of the temple cleansing was the celebration of Hannukah, or Festival of Lights, also known as the Feast of Dedication, which happens to coincide with our Christian celebration of Christmas. This year, in fact, Hannukah begins on December 2, which is also the first Sunday of advent. Both events mark a yearning for the coming Messiah. So keep that in mind when we begin Advent this year.
Verse 35 - 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.
Toward the end of the Maccabean revolt, Judas Maccabaeus was killed in battle in 161 BC, one of those of understanding who fell. His brother, Jonathan, finally defeated the Seleucid forces, maintaining the resistance until a Jewish kingdom was finally re-established by John Hyrcanus, the nephew of Judas Maccabaeus.
And with this reference to “the time of the end” in verse 35, the focus shifts away from the Little Horn of the Greek Empire in Daniel 7, to the little horn of the dreadful and terrible beast of the Revived Roman Empire of Daniel 8, the one we call Antichrist.
Verses 36 and 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.
Verse 37 - 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.
We already saw how Antiochus called himself “God Manifest” on his coins.
Speaking of the Antichrist, in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul calls him the son of perdition, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
In case you are wondering, Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “perdition” as:
PERDI'TION, noun [Latin perditio, from perdo, to lose, to ruin.]
Entire loss or ruin; utter destruction;
The utter loss of the soul or of final happiness in a future state; future misery or eternal death.
So the Antichrist is the “son of perdition”; the offspring of utter destruction and total loss of the soul.
And again, the Bible says in Revelation 13:5-6, “5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.”
It is no coincidence that Isaiah, speaking of the devil, or Lucifer, says in Isaiah 14:13-14,
13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
It is the same demonic pride that drives them all.
And the reality is, this is going to happen. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Verse 36 ends with, “for what has been determined shall be done.” It shall be done. The cosmic battle between good and evil is going to continue until it ends at God’s appointed time in God’s appointed manner. Which side do you want to be found on?
Verse 38 - But in their place 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.
This Antichrist will have zero regard for any religious beliefs, and why would he? He has proclaimed himself to be god, so what other god is to be worshiped but him?
I also found it interesting that the god his fathers did not know, he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Consider Ezekiel 28:13-15 -
You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
Who is Ezekiel speaking about? Satan. And from whom does the Antichrist get his power? Satan. The Antichrist shall honor him with precious stones (Dan11:38), and precious stones were his covering (Eze 28:13).
Verse 39 - 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.
There isn’t a world power in existence that is going to be able to stand up against the power of the antichrist. Why? Because he will cause most of the people on earth at that time to believe his deity, as it says in Revelation 13:8 - All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Verse 40 - At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; 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.
Just like Antiochus faced a revolt, so the Antichrist will experience a revolt from a weary world that eventually grows sick and tired of his tyrannical rule and decides to do something about it. Yet they will not be able to stand against him.
Verse 41 - He 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.
Predictably, the Antichrist goes for Israel, a physical manifestation of Satan’s long war against God.
Verses 42-44 - He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
Verse 43 - 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.
Verse 44 - But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.
Many scholars point to Revelation 9:13-16 and Revelation 16:12 (the sixth trumpet judgment and the sixth bowl judgment) as the identification of the great army that arrives in Israel to confront the antichrist, and the act that clears the path for these large armies to arrive in Israel for the last and biggest war.
Revelation 9:13-16 says, 13 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.
And Revelation 16:12 says, “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.”
Revelation 16:16 says, And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
World War 1 was supposedly the “War to End All Wars.” Approximately 20 million people died.
Just over 20 years later, the world suffered through World War 2. Approximately 60 million people died in that war.
When the 200 million horsemen wield their swords in Revelation, one third of mankind will be wiped out. Using today’s numbers, that would mean that 2.55 billion people will be wiped out. Indeed, he will annihilate many as predicted in verse 44.
Verse 45 - 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.
Revelation 19:20 - 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 going back to Daniel 7:11 - I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
And so, at the height of his power, with the world at his feet, the Antichrist is finished, with one of the shortest and most understated obituaries of all time. “Yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”
Lessons for Today
God gave us both the prophecy and the fulfillment so that we would not be surprised when currently unfulfilled prophecy starts getting fulfilled.
God gave us the example of Antiochus IV Epiphanes so that we would have an idea of what to expect from the Antichrist. It is not going to be pretty for the world or for the Jewish people.
Don’t give the Antichrist, or the devil, more regard than they deserve. We should not be flippant toward them, but neither should they become an obsession or an idol through our fascination with them. Our thoughts should be on Christ, for He is the Sovereign One. As for the Antichrist, “he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”
Mankind is destined to be deceived, and doomed for eternity unless your name is written in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was Slain. And Who is this Lamb Who was slain? In John 1:29, John the Baptist says of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!”
Jesus is the Lamb Who was slain. And the only way to be redeemed to the Father is through the Son, Jesus. If You currently don’t know Jesus, but would like to have assurance that your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, come and see me afterwards. Or see Pastor Dennis afterwards. We would love the opportunity to speak with you and pray with you. Just make your way down here after the service is over, and let us help you find assurance.
Amen. Let’s pray