September 2, 2018
The Royal Air Force
Pastor Bryan Watson
Our scripture passage for today is Daniel, Chapter 10, the whole chapter. Once again, I’m going to go through this chapter verse by verse, but before I do, let’s open with a word of prayer.
If you recall, in my last sermon on Daniel, we found Daniel interceding in prayer for his people, the Jews. It was the first year of Darius, and Daniel realized that the Jews were about to be released from captivity in Babylon to return to Jerusalem. In response to his prayer, God sends the angel Gabriel to deliver a prophecy to Daniel about the first and second coming of Christ, and the end of history as we know it.
Let us pick up in chapter 10. For context, chapters 10 through 12 are to be taken as a single unit. They are actually a single vision, with an incredible amount of detail. So much detail, in fact, that this vision is the real reason that liberal scholars want to assign a date about 400 years more recent than is actually true, because they want to believe that Daniel wrote down these events after the fact, not before.
Verse 1: In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.
Right away, in verse 1, Daniel gives us the time period. It is the third year of Cyrus, and therefore somewhere between 4 and 6 years after Daniel’s prayer and prophecy in Chapter 9. The year is probably 535 or 534 BC, and we also know that Daniel, being around 90 years old at this time, has probably retired from official duties in the kingdom, because way back in Chapter 1, verse 21, it says that “Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.”
It’s almost like Daniel knew that in the future people would try to discredit his writings as being a fraud, or written by someone else, because he clearly identifies himself here, as “Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar.” There may have been other “Daniels”, present and future, but it was THIS Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar, who wrote this book.
It's also clear by verse 1 that Daniel understood the message and the vision. These weren’t some writings by a senile old man as some have tried to proclaim, and Daniel emphasizes that the message is true, because he knows there are people who are going to look at this prophecy in disbelief.
But the phrase I really want to look at here is the part about “the appointed time was long.” The translation I am using here is the New King James Version, which I consider one of the better translations available. However, it is always good to have a couple of good translations handy because it can help you with context in certain cases. In this particular case, the New King James Version isn’t the best reflection of the original Hebrew written by Daniel. In this particular instance, both the New American Standard Bible and English Standard Version more accurately reflect the original Hebrew by saying, “and it was a great conflict”. As we will see, the vision given to Daniel, and the experience of the messenger who gives it to Daniel, is filled with war in both the earthly and the heavenly realms.
Verses 2 and 3: In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.
Verse 3: I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
So, for three entire weeks, Daniel was mourning. He was really upset. No pleasant food. Nothing but mincemeat for 3 weeks, probably.
And he didn’t anoint himself at all for 3 weeks. This probably wasn’t religious anointing, but more likely related to personal hygiene. The application of ointment would have been like the application of deodorant. He was in rough shape after 3 weeks of mourning.
The fact that he ate no pleasant food is significant, because the next verse indicates that this three week period ends on the 24th day of the first month. That means that Daniel was mourning through the observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when, as part of their observance, devout Jews were supposed to eat meat and drink wine. Daniel’s present suffering was greater than the joy of the Passover and its significance to the Jews in being set free from Egyptian slavery.
But why was he mourning? What had him so upset that he was willing to forsake personal hygiene and refuse to acknowledge Jewish religious feasts, especially considering how devout he was? After all, it was just a few short years earlier that Cyrus had given the decree to allow the Jews to go back and rebuild Jerusalem.
The reality was, however, that many of the Jews of the new generation had grown accustomed to life in Babylon. They didn’t know Jerusalem, and they really had no burning desire to give up their homes and positions in Babylon to return to Jerusalem and do the hard work of rebuilding. As a result, only a fraction of the Jews returned in Daniel’s lifetime. Daniel may have thought that the Jews themselves were celebrating Passover in vain, if they were celebrating at all, because Cyrus had opened their cage and they refused to walk out. How can you celebrate freedom when you remain in bondage by choice?
Furthermore, the few Jews who did return faced tremendous difficulties as described in the book of Ezra. Daniel was deeply troubled by the plight of his people. In his heart, he probably longed to return to Jerusalem himself and lead them, but his own personal reality was that he was around 90 years old and was very near the end of his own life. The journey back to Jerusalem would be too difficult, and he probably also felt compelled to stir up the Jews who remained in Babylon to motivate them to return to a home most of them would have never seen.
Verse 4: Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris,
So, at this moment, Daniel is not in Babylon, but is at the banks of the Tigris river. We don’t know why he is there, and the Bible never tells us. Various commentaries say that Daniel would have been about 30 miles from Babylon when he had this experience.
Verses 5 and 6: I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!
Verse 6: His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
Some scholars assume that this is the angel Gabriel that Daniel sees, but I disagree. First of all, Daniel has already seen Gabriel twice, and would recognize him, as he did in Chapter 9. The Bible doesn’t say exactly who this is, but there are some clues we can draw from in order to make a reasonable assumption.
Let’s begin by looking at Revelation 1: 12-15 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
Does this description sound familiar? I’ve put the similarities in yellow text. Reading on in Daniel 10:7, we have some more clues:
Verse 7: And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Compare this with Paul’s Damascus Road experience in Acts 9, when Jesus appears to him while he was still named Saul. Acts 9:7 - The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Reading on in Daniel 10 Verses 8, and 9:
Verse 8: Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.
Verse 9: Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
Let’s compare this with Revelation 1:17 - When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.
Yes, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that this first “man” that Daniel encountered wasn’t an angel at all, but rather, was the pre-incarnate Christ in His glory. This is called a “Christophany”.
At this point, a new character enters the stage.
Verses 10 and 11: Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.
Verse 11: And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
The reason I believe that this verse refers to a different person is because IF I believe that the first person here is the pre-incarnate Christ, then this person MUST be somebody different because Christ is omnipotent, or all-powerful, and this person clearly is not, when we get to verse 13. Many scholars believe that this announcing angel who was sent to Daniel and speaks with Daniel is none other than the angel Gabriel. This could be, but again, he is not mentioned by name, and Daniel had already seen Gabriel twice and would probably have recognized him. Regardless of whether or not this is Gabriel, it is obviously a messenger from God. Notice how he refers to Daniel as “greatly beloved.” This is similar to how the Apostle John was addressed, and both were given great prophetic visions that included the glorified Christ. Daniel, in the book of Daniel, and John in the book of Revelation.
Verse 12: Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.
When Daniel first started praying three weeks ago, at the beginning of his mourning and fasting, his prayers were heard and the angel was immediately sent in response. Matthew 6:8 says, “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” So we can be confident that our prayers are heard in heaven when we pray with humble hearts that are eager to understand the will of God. But something happened along the way. Let’s read on.
Verse 13: But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
So, who is this prince of Persia that would hold up an angel who had been sent by the living God? First of all, the use of the word “prince” here does not refer to a member of some ruling human monarchy. This is actually a demonic force, sent by satan himself, to thwart the plan of God towards the Jewish people and the coming Messiah.
For reference, the Apostle Paul, writing in Ephesians 2:2, says, “… you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,…”
And in Ephesians 6, leading up to his instructions about the Armor God, Paul says in verses 10 through 12 “10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…”
I wonder how serious we would be about our relationship with God if we were actually allowed to see the spiritual realm around us.
In 2 Kings 6, the king of Syria wants to do battle against Israel, but in order to be successful, he knows he needs to get the prophet Elisha out of the way. So he sends his army to the town of Dothan, where Elisha is living, in order to capture him. Elisha’s servant is terrified. Reading from 2 Kings 6:16-17, “So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
People are so deceived into thinking that what we experience here on earth is reality. When confronted with matters of faith, people respond with, “I’m a realist. I’m grounded in reality. I believe in what I can see.” Foolishly, they don’t understand that the spiritual realm IS the ultimate reality. It existed before Creation did, and it will exist after God brings history to an end. It is from the spiritual realm that the physical realm came to be. This temporal world that we are living in isn’t our ultimate reality at all. So we had all better think carefully about our relationship with the spiritual side of life, and get that part right before we run out of runway down here. We really have no idea what is actually going on around us.
That being said, as Christians, while are to be respectfully aware of the spiritual realm and the forces of darkness, we are NOT to be afraid of it. Remember the 2nd part of Daniel 10:13 - and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.
One of satan’s great tricks is to deceive us into thinking that he is an equal, but opposite force to God. Or that somehow, God is unaware, unwilling, or unable to act. That’s the premise of horror movies, but that is fiction. It is not true. God is definitely aware of the battle. He sends help when we need it, and if we will accept it, victory is certain. Those fiery chariots that Elisha’s servant saw? Those were the good guys. Remember, the armor of God in Ephesians 6 says that when we put it on, we WILL be able to withstand in the evil day, and with the shield of faith, we WILL be able to quench ALL of the fiery darts of the evil one.
The Bible says in 1 John 4:4, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
That being said, it is also wise to remember that pride goes before a fall. As Christians, we should avoid occult activity of all kinds: horoscopes, fortune tellers, Ouija boards, Yoga and other Eastern Mysticism practices, and all that junk. Thinking that we can somehow participate in that garbage without it coming back to bite us because we are “Christians” is like grabbing a dog by the ears. Proverbs 6:27 says, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” Acts 19 tells the account of seven sons of a Jewish priest named Sceva. They tried to do battle with a demon by invoking “the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The demon, in reply, said to them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). And those seven sons got the beating of their lives by the demon-possessed man. They thought they were something because they could throw these names about, but without an honest, authentic relationship with Christ, they were no match for the demon.
Continuing on in Daniel 10 Verses 14 through 19: Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
Verse 15: When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.
Verse 16: 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.
Verse 17: 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.”
Verse 18: Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.
Verse 19: 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.”
Daniel was so overwhelmed by this encounter that he was left speechless. He lost all of his strength, and he couldn’t even breathe! Yet with a touch from the angel, and a command to be strong, Daniel’s strength returned to him and he could speak again.
Verse 20: 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 angel is about to tell Daniel why he has come to him, but first, he wants Daniel to be aware that the angel must return to the ongoing battle against the prince of Persia, but after that, the prince of Greece will come. So, here again, we have a prophetic confirmation that the Greek Empire will follow the Persian Empire in the order of world events. But there is something else that the angel alluded to that gives us pause for thought. It makes me wonder if the devil has assigned demons to specific nations. If there was a prince of Persia, and a prince of Greece, is there also a prince of Russia? A prince of America? A prince of Canada? Of Saskatchewan? Of Langenburg?
Folks, it is vital that we pray for our community, our province, our country, and our world. If we, as believers who should understand the battle, are sitting on the sidelines, what chance do our leaders have to understand truth and make good and wise decisions? It doesn’t matter who is in power or what party they belong to. We have an obligation to pray for them! For their personal relationship with Christ! For wisdom. For wise counsel. And for courage to make godly decisions.
Verse 21: But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me (helps me) against these, except Michael your prince.
Notice the open bracket in the last sentence as Chapter 10 comes to a close… In other words… To Be Continued… Next Week…
September 9, 2018
North & South - Part 1
Pastor Bryan Watson
I really struggled with this message because I really wanted to Deliver Chapter 11 in one message. But as I was developing the message, it became very clear early on that I could do that, and race through this chapter so that I could tick off the box that says I’m done, and maybe that would even be a relief to you. But it would be a poorly done message without any lasting value.
Or, I could slow down, go through this properly, and perhaps give you some tools that will help you if and when you decide that you want to understand Daniel for yourself. So that’s what I’ve chosen to do, even though that means we are going to extend our study of Daniel by a couple of messages.
As I’ve done before, I’m going to work through this passage verse by verse. But before we do, I want you to remember that the book of Daniel was written as prophecy BEFORE the events of the next 400 years unfolded. Because of the accuracy of the prophecies, some liberal scholars have insisted that Daniel was written after the fact, because the only alternative is that the book is supernatural in nature, and we can’t have that now, can we? Yet, there is overwhelming evidence that Daniel was written in the correct time period, as prophecy.
Mark Hitchcock claims that there are at least 135 prophecies that have been fulfilled in Daniel Chapter 11 alone. (Reference, “The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy”, p55)
John Phillips, in his book Exploring The Future: A Comprehensive Guide to Bible Prophecy, says, “The prophecies of Daniel are recorded in such detail, and so many of them have been so meticulously fulfilled in history, that unbelieving critics have resorted to suggesting a late date for the book. According to them the book of Daniel was written after the prophecies it records took place. That would make the book a forgery, the author a fraud, and its divine inspiration a farce.”
You can go back on our website and listen to the evidence I present for the authenticity of Daniel in my sermon called The Book of Daniel: Dominion on Display, from October 29, 2017.
You may be asking yourself why I am going to all this effort to insist that the Book of Daniel is what it says it is. Why am I doing such a deep dive to show that the history is true and the prophecies are true, when maybe what I should really be doing is focusing on other Christian teachings such as love and faithfulness?
It’s because study after study shows that people, especially young people, are leaving the church over matters of intellectual skepticism. They simply don’t believe that the Bible is true. They see some hypocrite up at the front of the church telling them how they should live and why they should give him their money, and they simply don’t believe that God exists. They don’t believe in Creation. They don’t believe in the Virgin Birth. They don’t believe in God-given moral laws. They don’t believe!
My goal in going through Daniel is that no matter the shortcomings that you may see in me, or in the church in general, that at least you will believe that God is real, and that He cares about what is going on down here, and the Bible is real, and understandable, and that even if you don’t believe in me or in this church, you will at least believe the Bible when it says that God loved the world, and YOU, so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in HIM would not perish, but have everlasting life. THAT is why I am doing this.
Exciting stuff, huh? But before we unpack Chapter 11, we need to do a brief recap of Chapter 10.
In Chapter 10, Daniel is very distressed, and is praying about the fact that only a handful of Jews have returned to Israel after Cyrus had set them free. In response, Daniel sees a vision of the Pre-Incarnate Christ, and an angel comes and tells Daniel that he is about to give Daniel a prophecy about a great conflict. The angel also tells Daniel that he was delayed due to a battle with a demon in the spiritual realm: the prince of Persia. The angel informs Daniel that the prince of Greece is coming behind the prince of Persia, and then the chapter comes to a close with the angel about to give Daniel the promised message.
By the way, if you look at the sermon notes on the back of your bulletin, I’ve provided you a list of cast members of this drama, that you can place in your Bibles for future reference.
So, beginning in verse 1, this is the angel speaking:
“Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.)
This is interesting. The angel confirms that the spiritual realm can and does have an unseen influence on the affairs of men, making it even more important that we remember to pray for our political leaders. Who knows what voices are whispering in their ears?
Now, why was it important that the angel confirm and strengthen this pagan proxy king, Darius the Mede? Because Darius the Mede is going to carry out the will of the real ruler, Cyrus the Great, whose will was to allow the Jews to go back to Israel. And why does that matter? Because if the Jews don’t go back to Israel, then the Seed of the Woman promised by God way back in Genesis 3 won’t be in Israel to deliver the Messiah in Bethlehem as prophesied by Micah. The book of Micah may come after the book of Daniel in the order in which it is placed in our Bibles, but in reality, Micah lived and prophesied about 100 years before Daniel came on the scene. Do you see the spiritual battle going on here? Satan does not want the Messiah to be born, and he knows the prophecies as well as anybody. And believes them. He is trying to stop God’s redemptive plan from unfolding, but God has dispatched his angels to ensure His plan succeeds. If that angel doesn’t support Darius the Mede in 539 BC, you and I don’t have a Saviour. Does that give you a good idea about why the book of Daniel matters to us today?
Verse 2 And now I will tell you the truth: 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.
The angel identifies that there are four more Persian kings to come before the Greek Empire takes over. Again, the prophecy about Greece is extremely interesting in that in Daniel’s day, Greece was nothing more than an insignificant little gnat in the grand scheme of world empires.
But, is the angel’s prophecy about the Persian kings accurate, as judged by history? Well, let’s look.
I’m assuming that the angel is not including Darius the Mede or Cyrus the Great in this list, because at the time of the prophecy, they are the current reigning co-regents. The angel says that three MORE kings would arise, and then a fourth:
The first king after Cyrus was Cambyses II, his son, who reigned from 529-522 BC. Cambyses was not mentioned in the Old Testament.
After Cambyses came Pseudo-Smerdis, who reigned from 522-521 BC. He also went by the name of Bardiya, and may have been an imposter posing as Bardiya, the second son of Cyrus the Great.
After Pseudo-Smerdis came Darius I Hystaspes, otherwise known as Darius the Great. He reigned from 521-486 BC, and is mentioned in Ezra 5-6 as the Persian king who issued the decree by which the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem was finally completed.
Finally, after Darius the Great came his son, that notable fourth king, Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes I. And in case you are wondering, yes, this is THAT Xerxes, who reigned from 486 to 465 BC, and is known in the Bible as the husband of a Jewish girl named Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther.
The Book of Esther tells us that Xerxes “reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia.” This was no small empire. Xerxes’ wealth was on display when he threw a party that lasted 180 days. And as the angel predicted, Xerxes invaded Greece in order to avenge a defeat suffered by his father at the battle of Marathon. Xerxes took a huge army, (some say 1 million men, others say 2 million men), but God had already decided that the Greeks would supplant the Persians, and Xerxes’ defeated army limped home 8 months later, soundly defeated by a far smaller Greek army.
As an interesting side note, it is during the reign of Xerxes that the demonic “Prince of Persia” referred to in Chapter 10 stirred up the heart of the king’s servant, Haman, to concoct a plot to wipe out the Jews in Persia. It is likely that this is one of the battles that the Archangel Michael was engaged in, to pave the way for Esther to move the heart of Xerxes to help save the Jews from Annihilation, resulting in the feast of Purim.
But I digress… This isn’t interesting at all, is it?
Verse 3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
Now, who could this be? Do you remember the vision of the statue from Chapter 2? The belly and thighs of bronze? Or the winged leopard from Chapter 7, built for speed? Or the he-goat from Chapter 8, going so fast it’s feet don’t even touch the ground? And the single large horn on the goat’s head? Well, here comes young Alexander the Great, 22 years old and conquering the world faster than anybody before or since. And he destroys the Ram known as Persia, and has great dominion, and does according to his will, until finally at 33 he sits in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in Babylon, crying because there is nothing more for him to conquer.
But do you know what the glorious result of this was? Alexander set the stage for Greek culture to spread across the known world as the culture and language of commerce, government, and literature, much like English is today. And in so doing, the stage was set for the translations of various documents into the common language of Greek, so that EVERY citizen could read them. This is how the Septuagint came to be… the translation of the Hebrew Bible of the day, into Greek, at the city of Alexandria in Egypt. And so God is using Greece to make the way for the Hebrew texts to be available to all the world.
And when the Romans came and built roads, the infrastructure was in place for these texts in the common language to actually spread to all the world. You think this stuff just happens by accident? I’m telling you right now that God had, and still has, a plan, and He is working to bring it to fruition, even this very day!
Verse 4 And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.
Apparently, with nothing more to conquer, Alexander became a drunken carouser, and died at age 33 in 323 BC. There is some question about whether or not he was poisoned, but history does not reveal that to us.
I mentioned in an earlier sermon that Alexander had no heirs, or no posterity, to pass the throne on to. The fact is, he had a mentally handicapped brother, an illegitimate son, and a wife who was pregnant when he died. All were murdered shortly after Alexander died, and after a major tournament of the board game Risk, 4 of Alexander’s generals became the 4 horns on the goat from chapter 8, or the four winds of heaven here in chapter 11.
Ptolemy in Egypt
Seleucus in Babylon and Syria
Lysimachus in Thrace, which is modern-day Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece
Cassander in Macedonia and Greece
Again, after a period of time and more weekends playing Risk, Ptolemy and Seleucus emerged as the dominant forces.
Warring Kings of North and South
Before moving on to verse 5, there is something I want you to see and remember. This slide shows that Seleucus, or Syria, is in the North… the Kings of the North. Ptolemy is in Egypt, which is in the South… the Kings of the South.
But what’s in the middle? Israel. So when the North goes to fight against the South, who get trampled? Israel. And when the South goes to fight against the North, who is the 98-pound weakling who gets sand kicked in its face? Israel. As Pastor Meno Kalisher from Jerusalem Assembly House of Redemption in Israel puts it, “Syria is the head. Egypt is the feet. Whenever they go to fight against each other, who gets the backache? Israel!”
But there’s also a spiritual way of looking at this. The Prince of Greece, that demonic entity that came on the scene after Michael dealt with the Prince of Persia, would like nothing more than to wipe out the Seed of the Woman before it can give birth to Jesus, the Messiah. So in the verses that follow, we’re going to see how this demonic force stirs up the Seleucids in the North and the Ptolemies in the South to fight one another constantly, traipsing back and forth over Israel, and sometimes doing battle right in the land of Israel, because one stray arrow could terminate the line that God has chosen for His Son to be born. But while the Bible doesn’t say it directly, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that the angel Michael had been dispatched to make sure that the Royal Seed was protected.
Do you see why this matters? This isn’t just a book about history. This is truly about HIS STORY, and THAT’s why it’s in the Bible!
Verse 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.
The King of the South is Ptolemy 1 Soter (323-285 BC). The prince of his who shall gain power over him is Seleucus 1 Nicator (312-281 BC). How does this work? Isn’t Seleucus the King of the North from Syria? Yes. But early on, he was briefly associated with, although inferior to, Ptolemy, for military purposes. Eventually, however, Seleucus does conquer more territory than Ptolemy, and so he becomes greater and more powerful than Ptolemy. Did you know that dictator kings seem to not like it very much when another dictator king is more powerful than they are? We’ll see how that plays out later on.
Verse 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.
It’s all Greek to me!
History tells us that it’s not uncommon for kingdoms who wish to make an alliance to arrange for a marriage between the royal families. And that’s exactly what happened here.
The King of the South, or Egypt, at that time was Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC). Incidentally, he is the king who is credited with the commissioning of the Septuagint. The King of the North, or Syria, was Antiochus II Theos (261-246 BC). Ptolemy had a daughter named Berenice. And by the way, I think that the baby name books from back then were only about a page long. Because when I went to verify my facts here, I found a whole bunch of people from around this time period named Berenice. Our Berenice is in there, but it took me a few minutes to find her. So if you are going to look any of this up, and I encourage you to do just that, be careful to make sure that you are reading about the correct person.
Anyway, to form the alliance, Berenice was given in marriage to Antiochus.
So far, so good, right? Well, there’s just one fly in the ointment. And it’s a big fly. And it’s name is Laodice, who just happens to be Antiochus’ CURRENT WIFE! This… could… be… a… PROBLEM!!! Bye-bye, Laodice!
Well, as expected, Laodice was less than thrilled about the situation, and for 5 years she remained in banishment, which is a lot of time to sit and stew.
In 246 BC, however, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the father of Berenice, died. Seeing his opportunity, Antiochus retrieved Laodice from banishment and brought her back as his wife, probably thinking that everything is right in the world now.
But Laodice, being very much a woman scorned, does what any jilted spouse would do in a good soap opera. She kills them all! Berenice. Berenice’s infant son, was the successor to Antiochus. And she kills Antiochus. Let’s read verse 6 one more time, inserting the actual names to see if the history fits.
Verse 6 - And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter (Berenice) of the king of the South (Ptolemy), shall go to the king of the North (Antiochus) to make an agreement; but she (Berenice) shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he (Antiochus) nor his authority shall stand; but she (Bernice) shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her (Ptolemy), and with him who strengthened her in those times (Antiochus).
Yup, it fits!
Verse 7 - But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail.
They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. Well, here in Daniel Chapter 11, it seems that revenge is only dish served at all! You see, Berenice had a brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes, who has now assumed the role of the King of the South with the death of his father, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. And he is not happy about what happened to his sister. So he gathers his army, and marches from the South to the North, or like Meno said, from the feet to the head, and across where? Israel. Another backache for poor Israel! But he wasn’t after territory. He was after blood. And he was successful in his mission, as he had Laodice killed in order to avenge Berenice.
Verse 8 - 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.
Ptolemy III made his point in capturing the gods of the Seleucids and bringing them back to Egypt. After all, if I can put your god in my pocket, then I am greater than your god and can put YOU in my pocket.
Verse 9 - “Also the king of the North shall come to the kingdom of the king of the South, but shall return to his own land.
Now, the King of the North at this time just happens to be Laodice’s son, Seleucus II Callinicus. He marches across Israel (backache) to attack the King of the South, but is given a good stiff beating and sent home empty-handed.
Verse 10 - 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.
Well, as you can guess, Seleucus DID have sons, and they WERE known to get a little rowdy. His older son, Seleucus III Soter, was on a military campaign in Asia Minor when he was killed. But the younger son, Antiochus III, was nicknamed Antiochus the Great because of his own military exploits.
Several times, Antiochus the Great marched across Israel (ouch) on the way to Egypt to beat up on the King of the South, who at that time was Ptolemy IV Philopator.
Verses 11 and 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.
12 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.
But you know, every dog has its day, and one day Ptolemy IV of Egypt laid a good beating on Antiochus the Great, even though Ptolemy’s army was much smaller. Like a big bully that got punched in the head himself, Antiochus laid off and there was a short peace in the land.
And at this point, we are going to pause our story.
But what lessons can we take away from today?
The Book of Daniel is supernaturally inspired in order to present prophecies that are fulfilled literally and to exact details.
There is a spiritual force of darkness that desires to thwart God’s plans.
God counters the spiritual force of darkness with His own Angel Army.
We need to pray for our leaders, that they would be listening to the RIGHT voices and receiving the RIGHT counsel.
Amen, Let’s pray.
September 30, 2018
North & South - Part 2
Pastor Bryan Watson
I’d like to open our sermon time this morning with a word or prayer. Please bow your heads with me.
Over the last couple of messages on Daniel, I’ve been digging into some heavy topics. For one thing, there is the extremely detailed prophecy of world events that were fulfilled perfectly in history, yet casts a shadow to things that are still yet to come. But equally as important is the clear understanding that there is a very real spiritual realm with a lot of activity going on. The current vision we are working through in Daniel began in Daniel Chapter 10, with the angel explaining to Daniel that he had been doing battle with the Prince of Persia. Who remembers that?
Well, Lori and I were down in the States two weeks ago, and look who we found at a Hallmark store! We couldn’t believe our eyes! And look at this character’s name… Prince Dastan. A nice little anagram for satan. The “hero” of the Prince of Persia. I guess someone at Disney knows a little about the book of Daniel??? Amazing, isn’t it, how subtle the messaging is that evil is good, and darkness is light, and we don’t even have to leave our living rooms to get it. Instead, we plop our kids down in front of the TV and allow some unknown program director from who knows where to insert the programming of their choosing, or the world’s choosing, or satan’s choosing, into our kids’ minds.
Makes me think a sermon might be coming up about the wiles of the devil… we’ll see, I guess. I’d better get back to my topic before I go so far down this rabbit trail that I can’t find my way back today.
Last time, I spoke from Daniel 11:1-12. Before we move on, I’d like to give a brief recap of that message so that we can understand the context of where we left off.
Daniel 11 is a detailed account of the ebbs and flows of the Greek Empire, and its effect on Israel. It’s so detailed, in fact, that doubters claim that the book was written as history after the events took place. But I have provided plenty of evidence that Daniel was written by the prophet Daniel in the 6th century BC, right when it was supposed to have been written, hundreds of years before these events took place.
The Greek Empire ended up being run by two sometimes friendly, but often warring, factions: The Seceucids, from Syria (known as the Kings of the North), and the Ptolemies, from Egypt, known as the Kings of the South. On the surface, we might ask ourselves why these skirmishes between feuding pagan kings even matter. But if you recall my illustration, Syria is the head, Egypt is the feet, and poor Israel is right in the middle, so when the head goes to fight against the feet, or vice versa, who gets the backache again? Israel. In the grand scheme of things, satan probably thinks that if he can arrange for the holy lineage of the coming Messiah to be collateral damage in a civil war, then he can thwart God’s plan of salvation for the human race. And so the battle rages.
So far, up to verse 12, we’ve documented the following kings: Finally, we have arrived at Antiochus III, or Antiochus the Great, in Syria, and Ptolemy IV Philopator in Egypt. And after years of being bullied by Antiochus the Great, Ptolemy IV led his small army up against Antiochus the Great’s much larger army and soundly laid a beating on him. And there was peace in the land. At least, there was, until Ptolemy IV Philopator died in 204 BC. His son, Ptolemy V Epiphanes was only 4 or 5 years old when he became the King of Egypt.
Which brings us to verses 13 through 16, covering the years 201 BC to 198 BC.
Verse 13: 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.
During this artificial peace, Antiochus the Great is biding his time and building his army to be larger than ever before. When the time is right, and it seemed especially right when your opponent is a 5-year-old boy-king, Antiochus pushes all the way down to Gaza. [SEE MAP]
Verse 14 “Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall.
So, what’s going on here? Well, a number of pro-Seleucid Jews living in the land of Israel will rise up against Ptolemy from Egypt. The Jewish historian Josephus, in his work The Antiquities of the Jews writes, “… the Jews of their own accord went over to him (that is, Antiochus the Great), and received him into the city of Jerusalem, and gave plentiful provision to all his army, and to his elephants, and readily assisted him… so he wrote to the generals of his armies, and to his friends, and gave testimony to the good behavior of the Jews towards him…” (p. 293)
Ptolemy responds with a counteroffensive under his general, Scopus, who exacted punishment on the Jews who supported Antiochus the Great.
Verses 15 and 16 So the king of the North 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.
Verse 16 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.
Eventually General Scopus suffered two catastrophic losses. The first loss was at Panea, or modern-day Banyas, near Caesarea-Phillippi. From there, Scopus fled to Sidon, the “fortified city” at which he was defeated. With that victory, Antiochus the Great gained control over the Glorious Land, or Israel, in its entirety.
Verse 17 - He 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.
With the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt on the decline, and with all of Syria and the Holy Land under his control, Antiochus the Great gives his daughter, Cleopatra, in marriage to the boy-king Ptolemy V. Just for reference, this isn’t the Cleopatra from Julius Caesar and Marc Antony fame. THAT Cleopatra won’t be born for another 170 years or so.
Cleopatra was around 10 years old, and depending on the historian, Ptolemy was as young as 10 or as old as 15 when they married in 195 BC. As for Antiochus giving his daughter in marriage to a boy-king, why would he do that?
Well, there are two parts to that answer. As for the first part, do you remember Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the giant image? What came after the belly and thighs of bronze representing Greece? That’s right. The legs and feet of iron, representing Rome. And do you remember Daniel’s vision of the four beasts? What came after the four-headed leopard representing Greece? Bingo! The terrible beast representing Rome. The reality for Antiochus was that the Roman Empire was rising, and he felt that his best defense was an alliance with Egypt. After all, they were fellow Greeks, right? And with Cleopatra’s marriage to Ptolemy, the family bonds were closer than ever.
And the second part of the answer is quite simple. Through Daddy’s little girl, Antiochus should be able to control this boy-king and bring the Ptolemaic Empire completely under Antiochus’ influence.
However, something funny happened along the way. Cleopatra and Ptolemy fell in love. Let’s look at that last part of Verse 17 again. And he shall give him the daughter of women to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him. Much to Antiochus the Great’s chagrin, Cleopatra was completely sympathetic to her husband’s cause, and therefore was fully supportive of the Ptolemaic kingdom. Antiochus never did gain the control over Egypt that he hoped he would.
Verse 18 - After this he shall turn his face to the coast-lands, 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.
In a stunningly accurate fulfillment of prophecy, Antiochus attacked islands along the Aegean coastline, “the coast-lands”. Although he had moderate success, the people under attack appealed to Rome for assistance, and Rome was only too willing to help, since Antiochus angered the Romans by giving asylum to a Roman exile named Hannibal. Antiochus was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia, near Ephesus “bringing the reproach to an end,” and sending Antiochus home in shame.
Verse 19 - Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
The problem with prophecy that is fulfilled in a stunningly accurate way over and over again is that you can start to take it for granted. When the Romans defeated Antiochus the Great, they imposed severe peace terms which were included in the Treaty of Apamea in 188 BC. Antiochus had to give up all claim to Europe, most of Asia Minor, as well as surrender his entire navy, his elephant brigade, and twenty selected hostages, one of whom was his second son, Antiochus IV. Remember this, because it will be very important later on. In addition, Antiochus the now-not-so-great also had to pay a huge tribute to the Romans every year.
Because he could not afford the tribute, he resorted to plundering his own land, or “turning his face toward the fortress of his own land”, as verse 19 says. Upon attempting to pillage the temple of Bel in Elam, Antiochus was murdered, and according to Dr. David Jeremiah, his body was never found. Verse 19 predicted that “he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.” I don’t even have the words to describe how amazing it is that this prophecy would be fulfilled so exactly.
Verse 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.
After Antiochus the Great’s death, his eldest son (the one not in captivity), Seleucus IV Philopator, assumed the throne. For clarity, let’s look at Antiochus the Great’s family tree on the screen. I find that helps to keep things straight a little bit. So, of Antiochus the Great’s children, Seleucus IV Philopator has succeeded him on the throne, Antiochus IV is a hostage in Rome, and Cleopatra is married to Ptolemy V of Egypt.
One of the things about tribute that is owed from one kingdom to another is that it doesn’t go away just because the one king dies. Seleucus IV is still required to pay massive amounts of tribute to the Romans, and if his father couldn’t afford it, then neither can he. Looking to increase his revenues in order to pay taxes, Seleucus sends a man named Heliodorus to Israel, or “the glorious kingdom” to impose taxes that his father had not collected from the Jews because of their loyalty to him. Whether or not Heliodorus was successful in obtaining the required funds is not certain, but history charges him with poisoning Seleucus, thus fulfilling verse 20.
Verse 21 - And in his place 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.
And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The rise of Antiochus IV, who gave himself the name Epiphanes. The second son of Antiochus the Great, we will soon see why the angel refers to him as a vile person. But why wasn’t he given the honor of royalty? And what does it mean that he will seize the kingdom by intrigue?
I covered some of this in Daniel chapter 8, but since Daniel 11 revisits the topic again, I will follow the scripture and fill you in on the details of the fulfilled prophecy.
Before Seleucus IV died, he had two sons: Demetrius I, who was in his late teens or early twenties, and a baby, named Antiochus. Through some form of sly scheming, Antiochus IV managed to secure his freedom in exchange for the crown prince, Demetrius. So, the rightful heir to the throne is sent to Rome as a hostage, and the scheming brother of the dead king is set free. The baby Antiochus was murdered, thus paving the way for Antiochus IV to “come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue” as prince regent. Through bribery, favors, and political promises, he obtained favor from local leaders and managed to gain their support to secure the throne. The only thing that kept Demetrius from being assassinated is that he was still being held hostage in Rome. Vile person? Seems like it. Not royalty? Well, he’s not in line to the throne. Seizes the kingdom by intrigue? Just a little! And so the prophecy in verse 21 is fulfilled. Antiochus IV, known as the Little Horn in Daniel 8, gives himself the name “Epiphanes” meaning “The Illustrious One.” Coins that have been found bearing his image show the inscription “Theos Epiphanes”, or “God Manifest”. However, because of all of his schemes, many of his subjects referred to him as “Epimanes”, meaning “madman.”
Verses 22-24 - 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; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.
These verses refer to a fairly convoluted set of circumstances regarding Egypt.
After his mother Cleopatra died, Ptolemy VI Philometor became the king of Egypt. He desired to gain back land that was previously lost to the Seleucid empire, but ended up as Antiochus’ prisoner. His brother, Ptolemy VII Physcon, was appointed by the Egyptians to rule in his place. Antiochus, being the schemer that he is, went to war against Ptolemy VII Physcon and re-established Ptolemy VI Philometor on the throne, as an ally instead of an adversary. In the words of verse 23, “he made a league with him,” but later acted deceitfully in trying to use Ptolemy VI to gain control over Egypt. Later on, Ptolemy VI Philometor would see through Antiochus Epiphanes’ schemes, and reunite with his brother to try and defeat Antiochus.
Verses 25-27 - He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South 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.
26 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.
27 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.
Antiochus heads down to Egypt, intending to conquer it once and for all. However, the two Ptolemies manage to get word to Rome. With the history of Antiochus’ father fresh in their minds, Rome is more than happy to confront Antiochus Epiphanes and send him home. Antiochus also remembers the way his father was defeated by the Romans, and his own imprisonment in Rome, and decides the best option is to take his bat and ball and go home, angry and humiliated at the hands of the Romans, especially considering that when he was finally confronted by the Roman commander Popilius Laenas, Popilius used his staff to draw a circle around Antiochus, ordering him to make his decision before stepping out of the circle.
Notice the reference to the kings sitting at the same table, speaking lies to each other. How true this was, since Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Ptolemy VI Philometor were sometimes friends, sometimes enemies… frenemies… depending on which served themselves better at the time.
Notice also the end of verse 27. “The end will still be at the appointed time.” The appointed time. Guess who is still in control over all this? God! And He has an appointed time, and history – His Story – will unfold according to the way He has determined.
Verse 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.
In verse 23, we saw how Antiochus had made a deceitful “league” with Ptolemy VI. Verse 28, however, refers to “the holy covenant.” This signifies the beginning of Antiochus’ persecution against the Jews, and the Jewish faith. But what prompted this behaviour?
According to the Apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees, chapter 4, (which, although we don’t consider it to be divinely inspired scripture, we do consider it to be a good source for historical events), according to this book, the Jewish high priest at the time was a man named Onias III. Onias had a brother, Jason, who bribed Antiochus into replacing Onias with himself as high priest. Later on, another brother, Menelaus, offered Antiochus an even bigger bribe if Antiochus would replace Jason with him as high priest. Antiochus Epiphanes, earning the nickname “Epimanes”, or “madman”, had no problem replacing one scoundrel with another, so long as the money trail ended with him. In order to pay the promised bribe, however, Menelaus began selling articles from the temple in Jerusalem.
The rightful, but now removed high priest, Onias, was enraged by this action and protested against Menelaus, who had Onias murdered in order to silence him. At this outrageous act, the Jewish population who was already agitated by the politics going on with the high priesthood, started to revolt. Tensions were starting to boil over in Israel.
Meanwhile, Antiochus was still doing battle in Egypt, and a false report had come out saying that Antiochus had died in battle. Seeing his opportunity, Jason, the briber who himself was deposed by a bigger briber, organized a coup against the current illegitimate high priest, Menelaus. < I can’t make this stuff up. I’d love to have the movie rights to this soap opera.> A large number of Jewish citizens were killed, and Menelaus, the high priest who was appointed by Antiochus, is put in prison by Jason, who re-establishes himself as high priest.
Returning from Egypt, already deeply angry because of his defeat at the hands of the Romans, and having a score to settle with Jason, the illegitimate, then deposed, then newly illegitimate again so-called high priest, Antiochus comes to Israel with overwhelming force and decides to end not only the current chaos in Jerusalem, but get rid of the Jewish faith altogether, fulfilling verse 28, “his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land.” In his opinion, the Jews need to become Greeks so that they will be easier to rule.
And so the brutal Jewish oppression under Antiochus IV Epiphanes begins. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.
To Be Continued… Don’t you just hate it when I do that???
Lessons for Today
There are a couple of lessons we can take from the message today. They’re not new, but I think it’s good to reinforce them:
First, when God gives a prophecy, it will be fulfilled. Exactly. Precisely. And at His appointed time. God is never early. And God is never late. And God never forgets. Prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled WILL be fulfilled, at the appointed time.
Second, God was, is, and will be in control. The soap opera I described to you today isn’t too far off what we see in the nightly news here in 2018. Despite the current chaos, God. Is. Still. In. Control.
Third, if God truly is in control as I have described, then we are much better off living for Him than not. You really have to pick a side, because there is no sitting on the fence when it comes to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If you would like to make Christ the Lord of your life, and be on board with the One who hold all of history in His hands, then I encourage you to make that decision today. Don’t let one more moment go by without putting your faith and trust in Him. Come and see me, or Pastor Dennis, after the service. We would love to speak with you and help you to make that decision today.
Amen. Let’s pray.