3. God’s Detailed Activity in Forming History
By John Thiel, Daniel 11 Series, Study 3, mp3
We have been examining the scope of the Daniel 11 vision right from the time of Babylon and Persia down to the very last days, the time of the end. We are beholding Michael and the angels affecting the minds and activities of human affairs. This is the intent of the study of prophecy. We read in 2 Peter that the morning star is to arise in our hearts if we would take heed to prophecy. As we study prophecy, what are we in fact studying? It’s already suggested in the previous scriptures that we have been reading, but let’s turn to Revelation because here is another amplification of what prophecy is; John the revelator is here speaking:
Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. As we study the prophecies that have been inspired by the spirit of prophecy we are emphatically told that this is Jesus speaking to us. It is the testimony of Jesus. As Christians we love our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so we are very fascinated with prophecy.
To reiterate why we are studying the prophecies of Daniel we look again at Daniel 11:20 where Gabriel is speaking to Daniel:
Daniel 10:20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. 21 But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and [there is] none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
It’s Jesus our Prince. The testimony of Jesus is what we are researching here, and we are seeing that the testimony of Jesus deals with the affairs of the human race – the political affairs as well as the spiritual. If we will heed these testimonies of Jesus and the ministering angels we will heed the whole plan of Jesus, as He said in John, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (Jn 13:19).
Isaiah 46:8 Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring [it] again to mind, O ye transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
We are meeting God in prophecy. It says He will do all his counsel and His counsel shall stand. “I will declare the end from the beginning.” As we take these words seriously we see that we are studying something that has been spoken of before it ever happened, and it takes us right through to the very end.
We notice in Isaiah 45 that God is speaking to King Cyrus before King Cyrus was ever born. This is very phenomenal. And it is quite an interesting story.
Isaiah 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; … 5 I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that [there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else.
This statement was made before Cyrus was ever born. The experience of King Cyrus is phenomenal. He was born to the daughter of the Median king who was married to the Persian king; and the Median king did not want the child that was born to her to live. So he took the newly born baby and gave it to the shepherd that cared for the king’s flocks and said, Take this child into the wilderness and destroy it. That child was Cyrus. The shepherd took the little baby to his wife, who had herself given birth to a still born baby. What the shepherd did is he gave this child Cyrus to his wife who adopted it as hers, and the still born child was taken into the wilderness for the beasts to eat, so Cyrus survived.
Cyrus was not meant to live, but according to His plan God said, Before you even knew Me I girded you. When Cyrus was told of what God had said before he was even born he realised that there was a supernatural intervention, because he knew the beginning of his life. You can see that God knows the end from the beginning, and whatever man does God orchestrates the circumstances to make them happen. We are here in a process of study to vividly behold the manifestation of how God overrules in the affairs of man. This is the testimony of Jesus to us, that we may come to know Him and that the day star may begin to arise in our hearts in these last days.
Regarding this testimony of Jesus it is very important that the prophecy is paid attention to so that we will be established; it is important that these studies be understood by the wise in these last days, otherwise they would lose their future.
1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
The testimony of Christ is the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. Why is it given?
1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The prophecies of Daniel 11 are part of the testimony of Jesus that is given to us so that we can be confirmed at the end and be blameless in the day of the Lord.
It is very important then that we take hold of prophecy and Daniel 11. We saw in Daniel 12 that the book of Daniel was to be closed until the time of the end.
Daniel 12:8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what [shall be] the end of these [things]? 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
Very clearly we see that the book of Daniel 11 has everything to do with our purification exercises, as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:4-8, so that we would be standing blameless at the time of the end. Let us tune in very diligently to the testimony of Jesus as it declares to us the things that pertain to the world’s history.
Observe closely and you will see things taking place throughout history to the point in time which we live in now, and you are beholding Jesus, because He is the one orchestrating all these events that we are seeing before us.
In our last study we came through Daniel 11 and looked in detail at Daniel 11:2-5, where we saw how the Persian Empire was conquered by the Greeks and how Alexander the Great coming to his power was then cut down and the kingdom was split into four. We saw that in that history Jesus revealed Himself – that He was working with Alexander through his own debauchery ways, causing the kingdom to be split into four.
From that point, the king of the north gathered his strength and the king of the south gathered his strength, and the other ones (Cassander and Lysimachus) were conquered. Remember that these are the territories of Asia-Minor and Egypt that ruled the Grecian Empire.
Let’s now continue our study by reading Daniel 11:6. Our study will continue very carefully and systematically through to verse 16.
The Grecian Empire
Daniel 11:5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and [one] of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion [shall be] a great dominion.
This was the development of the northern and the southern areas. The southern area was the king of the south and he was strong, but the one in the north was stronger than him.
Daniel 11:6 And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her [margin: he that was begotten of her], and he that strengthened her in [these] times.
Here is a movement among the two dominions under the Grecian Empire. They were trying to unite their powers so that ultimately there might be just one king. How were they going to do it? It says here that they were trying to combine their forces. How? By inter-marriage. Did Michael and Gabriel permit this to happen? Is the Grecian Empire going to strengthen itself to become a one-monarchy empire or will it continue between the north and the south? What is God’s intent and what are we going to see here?
They are trying to inter-marry and come to a point of one lordship over the Grecian Empire. What do we see? We see now God working with an intricate inter-family affair all detailed before it ever happened. The northern king was stronger, the southern king was weaker, but by inter-marriage the development of the Grecian Empire’s weakness is detailed here.
Pausing here for a moment: when we study Daniel 7 and 8, which are symbolic, these details are not brought into the picture. In the visions of Daniel chapters 7 and 8 it is just succinctly brought about that the Grecian Empire will give way to the Roman Empire. But now we are going into a detailed account. Why? Let us proceed through this detailed account and discover:
Daniel 11:6 And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement:
The king of the north was Antiochus Theos. He agreed to put away his wife, whose name was Laodice, and her two sons. He was already married, he already had two sons, but he put his wife away and her two sons and married Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus who was the king of the south. The king of the south would seek to unite by marriage with the king of the north. Ptolemy gave a huge dowry for Antiochus Theos to marry Berenice.
What happens? This was the intent, but would God permit this to happen?
Daniel 11:6 …but she shall not retain the power of the arm;
The arm that the king of the south reached up to unite with the king of the north – that arm would not be retained.
Daniel 11:6 …neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her [margin: he that was begotten of her], and he that strengthened her in [these] times.
Antiochus Theos and Laodice
According to these words what actually happened? We read that she shall not retain the power of the arm. In other words the southern king will not retain the power of the arm with Antiochus. Why? What actually happened is that Antiochus, in a fit of love, returned to Laodice, his former wife. As he returned to her in that fit of love, Laodice thought, This is not a safe union. What did she do? It said that he, Antiochus (the king of the north), would not stand. Why? Because Laodice poisoned him.
Not only did Laodice poison him, but the scripture says, nor his arm. His arm was Berenice, Ptolemy’s daughter. Neither did she stand. What did Laodice do? She murdered Berenice, and as it says there, not only his arm, which was Berenice, but also he that was begotten of her. So Berenice’s son was also destroyed by Laodice, as well as all those who supported them. That is the history that actually transpired.
The king of the south wanted to unite with the north by marriage, but this all went badly wrong. After Laodice had murdered Berenice and all this attempt to unite went so wrong, the result of this continues in verses 7 to 9:
Daniel 11:7 But out of a branch of her [Berenice’s] roots shall [one] stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail: 8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, [and] with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue [more] years than the king of the north. 9 So the king of the south shall come into [his] kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
What happened here? The branch of her roots – the roots of Berenice was her father; the branch of her father was her brother. When the father died he was succeeded by Ptolemy Euergetes, which was Berenice’s brother. What do you think her brother would do to the king of the north for what had happened to his sister? He gathered an army to avenge her death.
Can you see here the interplay of the two families all written before it happened? God was orchestrating people in their corrupt ways and using it all to gain His ultimate result.
The king of the north was at that time the son of Laodice. His name was Seleucus Callinicus. Now Ptolemy, the brother of Berenice, comes with his army to conquer Seleucus and he prevails.
What did he do? He [Ptolemy] took over Seleucus’ territory and excited everybody against him. Finally Seleucus was exiled. Having done his terrible work, and taking with him all the goods that he had conquered, he returned to his own land, exiling Seleucus. The reason why he went back to his own land was because he heard of the seditions that were rising up in Egypt. He had to take care of his Egyptian uprisings there.
In short, he plundered Seleucus’ kingdom and took all his treasures, the idols and so on, with him back to Egypt. Some of these idols, incidentally, were those which had been taken by the previous king of the north (Cambyses) from Egypt to Persia; so they actually recaptured all the things that had been taken beforehand. And just as the prophecy had foretold, Ptolemy would survive Seleucus, who was in exile. Seleucus died four years before Ptolemy did.
This is the detail written in prophecy of the actual realities that took place.
The Grecian Empire was teetering back and forth between the king of the north and the king of the south. They tried to unite and they couldn’t, and it became a terrible conflict between the two of them.
As we now continue in verse 10, remember, the king of the south had come and returned back to his land, Egypt:
The King of the North
Daniel 11:10 But his [the king of the north’s] sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and [one] shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, [even] to his fortress.
You can imagine the conflict that is taking place here is like tit-for-tat. The king of the south had avenged the death of Berenice and had now come and taken all the goods out of the king of the north’s territory. Now what does the king of the north do?
Seleucus Callinicus, who we remember had died in exile, had two sons. The first of these sons was Seleucus Seranus. As he came to power he was a very cowardly and incapable king, and he was finally poisoned. His brother, Antiochus Magnus, was more capable. He came down to the king of the south and stirred up everything against him. “His sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through.” The first brother gathered them and then the other one came down and succeeded to conquer the king of the south, because Seleucus Seranus had been poisoned. Antiochus Magnus took over and conquered Egypt. Everything that Egypt had previously taken he took back again: he retook Seleucia and recovered Syria.
The Grecian Empire was having a lot of in-fighting. As you follow through carefully this is all orchestrated for one objective.
Daniel 11:11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, [even] with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.
The king of the south (Egypt) is moved with choler. Why? Because of what the king of the north had done. He had come down and stirred up everything against the king of the south, and now there was a tit-for-tat again. He was moved with choler and came forth to fight with him, even with the king of the north. To resist the king of the south the king of the north raises up a multitude. But as he raises up the multitude to resist the king of the south, what does the king of the south do? “But the multitude shall be given into his hand” – into the hand of the king of the south. We are here looking at more political activities.
What actually happened? The king of the south was now Ptolemy Philopator [he succeeded his father, Ptolemy Euergetes]. He had great luxurious wealth and power, and he was filled with choler – he retaliated against the king of the north. The king of the north tried to resist Ptolemy. But as Ptolemy advanced against Antiochus and against his great multitude which he had raised to resist him, Antiochus was defeated very powerfully. The north was again defeated by the south.
There is this back and forth situation which is laid out here in this prophecy. What is written in verse 12 is very interesting:
Daniel 11:12 [And] when he hath taken away the multitude,
After the king of the south had taken away the multitude that was resisting him,
Daniel 11:12 … his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down [many] ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened [by it].
He was trying to strengthen himself, but all this power that he exhibited was not going to help him. What was the problem with this man? He was a very passionate man who loved to live in luxury. He loved to exercise his passions and he was a very vicious person – that was the character of Ptolemy Philopator. As he managed to conquer the king of the north, which was Antiochus, he thought, I managed so great. Instead of holding this victory he began to indulge himself in his passions. He had such a victory that he could have conquered the entire realm of the north and become the one king over the Grecian Empire. But what has his demise? It was his passions and his luxurious living.
The Egyptian kingdom was getting dissatisfied with him because of his wrong ways of living, and they began to rebel against him from Egypt. But before he suffered under this rebellion, he was moving back down from the north and coming through Israel. There he passionately and viciously came into the city of Jerusalem. He entered into the temple and began to violate the temple. You can imagine how God felt about that. The Jews were persecuted by him in Egypt. As it says, “He shall cast down many ten thousands.” But as he was doing all this, exercising his vicious character, persecuting the Jews, and absolutely disgusting the Egyptian people, he did not strengthen himself at all. It says that he was not strengthened by it.
Daniel 11:13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.
As Ptolemy does all his dirty work and is not strengthened by it, he returns back to Egypt. And after certain years the king of the north, who had now strengthened himself again, comes down with a large army. What happens? But before the king of the north came down with a great and rich army, Ptolemy died as a result of his passions.
Who does he leave as his successor? A child king. Here is a child king, and Antiochus thought, Wonderful, now we can strengthen ourselves. He therefore came down, and here is a very interesting history as he comes down with his large army and with his riches:
Daniel 11:14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
We now see a very interesting turn of events. As the king of the north (Antiochus) comes down, thinking, “We can conquer Egypt, because now there is only a child king there,” he also thinks to himself, “Let’s see what we can do here. We shall gather a few other helpers to make sure we do a good job of it.” What is written in Daniel 11:14? “There shall many stand up against the king of the south.”
The history is very interesting. The Macedonian king [Philip] came together down with Antiochus to conquer the boy king. This was a very unsavoury kind of activity in the law of fighting battles. What actually happened? The language of the account that is given by the historians is very interesting (See Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith, 1897 edition, p 256.3).
Providence seemed to step in to prevent this terrible atrocity from happening. Providence supplied another power. What is written here in verse 14? It says, “Also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision.” Here is an important point. Let us just pause to understand what is meant by the robbers of thy people.
The Robbers of Israel
Let us identify the robbers of the people of Israel. Because Israel was a very unfaithful people at this time, here is what God had foretold in Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 28:47 Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all [things]; 48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all [things]: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
This is a little hailing back to the iron-like beast in Daniel 7. We know that after the Grecian Empire arose the Roman Empire. In Daniel 11 we are looking at the robbers of God’s people standing up.
Deuteronomy 28:49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, [as swift] as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young: 51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which [also] shall not leave thee [either] corn, wine, or oil, [or] the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
Is this not talking about the robbers of Israel? It says, He will take everything from you. He is the robber of thy people.
Deuteronomy 28:52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. 53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:
In A.D. 70 Titus came down, surrounded the city of Jerusalem, and conquered it. He entered in, the temple was destroyed, and he destroyed the walls. This is precisely what God had foreshadowed would be the robbers of thy people. Did you notice that it was a people whose language they did not understand? They understood the Babylonian language, the Chaldean, they understood the Grecian, but these Roman people came from far in the West, and the people of Israel had never met them before. Now here they came. They had developed their strength while the Grecian Empire was fighting its civil and internal battles. And as the king of the north came down to take this boy-king’s power, the Romans came along and said, We are going to stop the king of Macedonia and the king of the north. The Romans came to the assistance of the little boy-king. They were the robbers of thy people.
The Roman Empire
Notice how very slowly and systematically the Romans were finally established in this king-of-the-north-and-king-of-the-south scenario.
Daniel 11:15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither [shall there be any] strength to withstand. 16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
As the king of the north comes down together with his supporter, the king of Macedonia, to take the boy king, he casts up a mount and takes the most fenced cities.
To expand the story, what happened was that, as the king of the north continued, together with Philip, to threaten to take down the boy king and invade Egypt, Scopas, a general of Aetolia in the service of the Egyptians, went into Palestine with his Aetolian forces and placed Judea under the authority of Egypt. As a result of that, Antiochus quickly went to recover Palestine and Coele-Syria from the hands of the Egyptians, as it is written, “the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount and take the most fenced cities.” Then this is what happened to Egypt:
Daniel 11:15 …and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither [shall there be any] strength to withstand.
The king of the south as a boy-king and all his armies could not withstand. However:
Daniel 11:16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will,
The Roman Empire has now strengthened itself so that it can finally come against the king of the north and the king of Macedonia and do according to its own will.
Daniel 11:16 …and none shall stand before him:
Not even the king of the north could withstand the power of the Romans. They came in, and because they were the robbers of thy people, it says:
Daniel 11:16 …and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
It shall be consumed by the Roman Empire [Jerusalem would eventually be destroyed by the Romans].
We have gone through a detailed study of how this Roman Empire would finally come in and conquer the power of the Grecians by the terrible indulgent and hateful interactions between the two north and south families.
We see here a very slow emerging development of the Roman Empire. Displayed in front of us is a detailed slow wearing down of the Grecian Empire and the slow rising of the Romans.
The question that comes to our mind here is, Why so slow? Because Christ and His angels are working. They are working to affect the cooperation of all the intelligences that must be orchestrated according to God’s original plan. But these nations and kings have only one aim in their life – to please self, to enjoy themselves in their passions and their hate for one another. And as they do these activities God is very slowly and patiently working them to His objective.
What is God’s aim in slowly letting these people interact? They just wanted their powers. Rome came in and wanted to become the Empire. The Grecian people wanted to fight their struggles for power – all for self. But what is God’s aim?
Isaiah 45:17 [But] Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. 18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else.
What is He saying? In all these world affairs Israel shall be saved in the Lord. Many people read this to mean that it was the Israeli nation, but it says:
Isaiah 45:17 …Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation:
If you study carefully the whole story of redemption, it is very clearly delineated in the Scriptures that they are not all Israel who are of the flesh, but they who are according to the promise. We read that in Galatians (See also Rom. 9:6-8).
In all these world affairs God is orchestrating things very slowly and systematically, operating through the wills, passions and evils of the nations, coming to an objective at the very end, which we’ve already seen in our overview. At the end Michael shall stand up and there shall be a time of trouble.
Here we have seen a patient working of interaction between the king of the north and the king of the south and the robbers of God’s people so that His ultimate objective would be gained.
We have come to the conclusion of another section of our studies. The objective that we are looking for is that God will finally achieve His ends on a still larger scale.
The question is, Why are we studying this and why does God give such detail? Wasn’t Daniel 2 enough? Wasn’t Daniel 7 enough? Why did He have to go to Daniel 8? Why did He have to go to another vision of Daniel 11? Why should we study all this? Here comes the answer again loud and clear: Because we want to see Jesus dealing with the nations and conquering them at length.
In Daniel 4:17 is a very simple answer that King Nebuchadnezzar recognised. All these things were written for this purpose:
Daniel 4:17 This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
Here, in Daniel, we are actually told why all this detail is given. Why?
Daniel 4:17 …that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men,
Why? So that He will demonstrate that He has the power to give the kingdom to whomsoever he will, and to set up over them the basest of men. In this scripture we have the answer to why we are studying this. We can actually see how God is working through the basest of men to demonstrate that He’s got the power and the orchestrating capabilities. What are we seeing? We are seeing Jesus and His particular capabilities. Jesus, Michael our Prince.
We are to be a holy nation. We are to be a chosen nation whom He is going to establish in eternity. That was what His purpose was, as we read in Isaiah 45. He is now revealing to us through this Bible study how He does it – raising the basest of men and getting them all to fight against each other; and because Israel would be unfaithful, he would raise a people, the Roman Empire, through which He would show His power even to His own people, the nation of Israel.
We are studying here something that provides an illumination to our hearts so that we can see the rising of the day star in our hearts. This we will see as we go into the remainder of our series. We will see precisely how God works to show us the rising of the day star. Let us digest and appreciate what we have been reading. May we marvel together with Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar who could see in their experience God’s intervention. Nebuchadnezzar saw Jesus with the three worthies, and he saw Jesus in the fulfilment of the prophecies. We, together with them, have the privilege of watching God at work among the heathen.