- Solomons, North Korea, Indonesia, Iraq, Bali, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, Syria, ISIS? - do you despair of there ever being peace? This book in the Bible shines a light on such concerns.
- Daniel, the Jewish teenager enslaved by the Babylonians, is now in his old age, having served in the governments of several kings, and is now Prime Minister in the Persian court.
- Chapter 1-6 record some key events of his life, and teach us much.
- Chapter 7-12 foretell future history, at first in strange visions, especially as they affect Daniel's people (God's people, and of all ages, not just Old Testament Jews)
- Chapters 10-12 are the final prophecy; they are all one piece; last time we looked at Chapter 10, the introduction, where God appears in form of a Man to tell Daniel what will happen in the years ahead. It is a Man who speaks, for God would become a Man to solve the age-old problem of men.
God is the God of History - v 1-35
- here it is future history, not past history - The God-Man tells Daniel what will come to pass.
- Amazing & accurate. Things hinted at in the earlier visions are spelled out in detail. Many have researched this, and can name the kings as they appear.
- After 3 more kings in Persia comes 1 mightier and richer than all - Xerxes 1, who tried to conquer the Greeks with a huge army, but failed (this is the fabulously rich Ahaseurus of the Book of Esther).
- Then comes Alexander the Great, who conquered Greece, Persia, Egypt and all the Middle East as far as India, in just 10 years, then died in a fever at 33.
- His kingdom splits between 4 of his generals; 2 of interest here are Ptolemy taking Egypt and North Africa, and Seleucus the Middle East, centred in Syria. These are the dynasties of the King of the South and the King of the North.
And Judah/Israel, the land of God's people is right in between, the meat in the sandwich!
- Many wars between them, back and forth. Historians can identify the people and events very well.
- One is prominent - Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria. Antiochus the "Glorious", but others called him "Epimanes" which means Antiochus the madman. We met him before in ch 8. A cruel, vile man, obsessed with desire to wipe-out the Jews' worship of God & replace it with Greek culture and false worship. Killed and tortured any Israelite found keeping God's laws; offered pigs in Temple, and set up an idol of Jupiter Olympias there (v.31 - the "Awful Horror")
- Now if God is in control, if history is really a story written by the finger of God, why does He allow all this to happen to people who hope and trust in Him?
There are answers, and perhaps I can deal with this at another time
Part of the answer is that we don't have all the story; and we can't see behind the scenes!
- But God gives us some insights and clues. See v35.
- God uses bad things to bring about good; He will refine & purify those who trust in Him
- He gives them trials as opportunities for faith
- He keeps His best things for later. Never fear!
- See how Christianity is basically historical. Disprove Bible history (no one has!) & you undermine the faith. Disprove Jesus lived, died and came back to life (no one has!), and you destroy Christianity.
Man's History is a history of Wars - bullfrogs and tyrants!
- "Guernica!" - Picasso's masterpiece, born out of distress at the massacre of a Basque township during the Spanish Civil War. What a portrait of man's history from the beginning till today!
- Cain killed his brother Abel - Nimrod built the first Babylon with tower and temple, & himself as king
- Pharaoh, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Atilla the Hun, Ghengis Khan, Crusaders & Saracens, European kings, Napoleon, WW1, Stalin, Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol-Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam, etc.
- Dreadful? Yes! But think - are they really different in essence from little, everyday, tyrants? That school bully? That belligerent boss, that difficult husband ("I decide around here!") or that domineering mother ("I gave them everything!" except true love and freedom)?
- Like the bull-frog, it is "ME FIRST!" - my people, my army, my wealth, my position, even "my children"
- This is the real reason why there is so much misery and strife between nations and within families. "ME FIRST!" is the heart of all sin, and we are all infected with this terminal disease, worse than cancer or SARS. Thank God it is not incurable!
The War-Lords have an end - v36-45
- Anitochus Epiphanes died in misery and terror after a few years; all the other tyrants who followed him died too. V19,20 - same happened to all the kings.
- 36-45 are difficult - here there are many opinions.
- No king fits the description entirely, and as we will see when we get to Chapter 12, we seem to be doing a scene change, to the end of time.
- Most of the writers I have checked agree God is showing us someone even more sinister than AE, yet like him. The special effects crew do a fade-out, and through his transparent image we can see forward to someone who will come at the end of time. A foreshadowing of the great man of sin who will appear before the end of the world. This is Antichrist; many little Antichrists have come (1 John 2:18 (ESV) "Children, it is the last hour, & as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour."). But one particular man is to come (2 Thes. 2:3-4 (ESV) "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, & the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes & exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." Remarkable agreement with Dan 11:36-37! 2Th 2:8 "who the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth" (we will know the final AntiChrist because then the Lord will return)
- Calvin thinks this ominous king in Chapter 11 represents the growing power of the Roman Empire; brutal, cruel, godless (formal worship of many gods, but lip-service only) for power, pleasure and money were their true gods. They robbed the world of the day of its wealth. This fits very well. He may be right, but we cannot be sure. Jesus foretold that the Roman armies would surround and destroy Jerusalem (as happened in AD 70) and spoke of it as fulfilling Daniel's "Awful Horror". (but often things have more than one meaning - eg, Psalm 22; Paul's Hagar and Sarah).
- But even Jesus' prophecy "fades-forward" to the end of time
- My view is that we have here a veiled view and a warning of a man of great evil still to come, and behind him, in the shadows, a darker and even more evil One. For the details we must wait. "The shadow of that hyddeous strength, sax myle and more it is of length"
- But - whoever and whenever, he too has an end. V45 - "Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him".
- Very important! -
- When he is at his worst, and when the people of God seem crushed and as good as finished, then God will bring the tyrant to an end. He will sweep him off the stage of history forever. Like the Dark Lord's hideous fortress of Barad Dur in Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings", he and all his boasted power will crash into utter ruin in an instant.
Don't be ...
- Don't be surprised if the world gets worse. That is what God is telling us here - it is serious being a Christian; don't be mislead!
- Don't be afraid - trust in God, in what He has done through his Son, Jesus. His power is endless, His mercy is great.
- He has pulled the fangs of sin when He died on the cross 2000 years ago. 'Jesus died for our sins'. Yes, but have you said "Jesus died because of my sins"? Have you turned from "ME FIRST!" to follow Him, and put all your hope and trust for the future in Him?
- There is a day coming when He will pull the fangs of all evil, and bring in a New World, perfect and full and joy and peace and delight.
- Will you be part of it? You can. Jesus invites you to trust in Him; to be first safe, then happy. Will you?
- Don't be too late. Why wait? Tomorrow may be too late.
by David Lyndsay in 1555, 'Ane Dialog betuix Experience and ane Courteour', also known as The Monarche. The couplet in question, "The shadow of that hyddeous strength, sax myle and more it is of length", refers to the tower of Babel. C.S. Lewis got the title for his sci-fi novel "That Hideous Strength" from Lyndsay.
Professor J.R.R. Tolkien was a Christian, and his worldview permeates his great work, like yeast through a batch of dough. There is no discussion of religion there, nor temple seen, but there is love, and courage, and valour and honour held up for our admiration, and cowardice, hate, wickedness, held up for our disgust. There is no mention of God, but there we find Frodo, a suffering servant, Gandalf, a resurrected Lord and Aragorn, the returning King.