A Troubling Vision
Topic: English Passage: Daniel 11:1-45
Good morning, everyone. This morning, we will be looking at the final prophecy in the book of Daniel. Most of the time, I read our passage as we begin, but today, I want to set the context a bit before we read it.
When we started studying Daniel, we were using the title “Living as Exiles.” That pointed to the fact that as Christians, our true home is not in this world. As the Apostle Peter says, we are aliens and strangers. To use Jesus’ words, we are in the world, but we are not of the world.
Daniel’s life was an example of that principle. He was an Israelite exile living in Babylon which was then taken over by Persia. His home was Jerusalem. That’s where his heart was, and his allegiance was to the one true God.
And even at a young age, Daniel stood against the demands and the temptations of the culture around him. His integrity was an important part of how God used him. God used Daniel as a testimony of righteousness and faith, and He also used him to proclaim special revelations to the Israelites. Those revelations were connected to future of Israel. Even if the world seemed to be headed toward disaster and disorder and depravity, the visions God gave Daniel reminded the people that Yahweh was still on His throne. Yahweh was the true sovereign in the world.
Beginning in chapter 7, we have 4 visions in the book of Daniel. And the final vision is what we are looking at today. It is the most impressive and the longest of the visions. If you remember, chapter 10 served as the introduction of the vision. There we learned that this final vision concerned a great conflict, or, we could say, a great war. He vision was so overwhelming that it literally sapped Daniel’s strength just to receive it. If you remember, the powerful messenger who came to him had to keep waking him up because Daniel was so weakened.
The introduction in chapter 10 reminded us that all of us, personally, are in a war. At the same time, we learned that the angels are at war as well. And lastly, the world is at war. We are at war. The angels are at war. And the world is war. There is a spiritual invisible battle being raged between the holy angels of God and the wicked demons of Satan. And as a visible expression of that war, we have nations at war today. This earthly conflict is a direct expression of the heavenly conflict. There is much more going on that we realize.
And with that introduction, we come now to the impressive vision of Daniel 11. Chapter 10 was an introduction to the vision. Chapter 12 will be an epilogue or a conclusion. But the heart of the vision is chapter 11.
Verse 1 is actually connected to chapter 10, and I should have addressed that last week It’s the messenger expressing his solidarity with Michael. It simply says—And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.
Beginning in verse 2, we get the message to Daniel about the future of God’s people.
I want to let you know upfront that this is a much longer passage than we normally cover, and there is a lot that we could dig into. But in reverence to the word of God and to the magnitude of this vision, I am going to read all of it. But I also want you to know that the length and the detail of this vision will not be an indication of the length and detail of our study. I am going to be covering just some main points and applications from the vision, and then you can talk to me afterward if you like or do some study of your own. Let’s read the vision.
Daniel, chapter 11, beginning in verse 2—“And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. 4 And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.
5 “Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority. 6 After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times.
7 “And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail. 8 He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north. 9 Then the latter shall come into the realm of the king of the south but shall return to his own land.
10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall keep coming and overflow and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress. 11 Then the king of the south, moved with rage, shall come out and fight against the king of the north. And he shall raise a great multitude, but it shall be given into his hand. 12 And when the multitude is taken away, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail. 13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, greater than the first. And after some years he shall come on with a great army and abundant supplies.
14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail. 15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, or even his best troops, for there shall be no strength to stand. 16 But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand. 17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom, but it shall not stand or be to his advantage.
18 Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.
20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle. 21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. 22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. 23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. 24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers' fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time. 25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him. 26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. 27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed. 28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.
29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before. 30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.
36 “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done. 37 He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these. A god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall load with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.
40 “At the time of the end, the king of the south shall attack him, but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. And he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through. 41 He shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt, and the Libyans and the Cushites shall follow in his train. 44 But news from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to destroy and devote many to destruction. 45 And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.
This was the word of the Lord to Daniel, and it is the word of the Lord for us today.
Like I said at the beginning, my goal today is not to go into all the details of this message, and there is plenty here to study. Instead, I want to move us toward a deeper appreciation for the main message being conveyed.
To do that, I want to give you three simple reminders about the word of God in general, but specifically important in this message. What kind of message is this?
This might sound more like an excerpt from Lord of the Rings than a biblical prophecy, but it is the word of God. And the first thing we need to remember is that this is a trustworthy message. This is a trustworthy message. Put more simply, this is a true message.
As a man of God, Daniel would have accepted this as truth, but there would also have been a lot of mystery. We have the advantage of being able to look back on 2500 years of history and see how a lot of this came to pass.
We’re used to seeing prophecies fulfilled a short time later. We’re also used to seeing Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the first coming of Christ and in the Second Coming of Christ. But what is unfamiliar to us are prophecies given in the Old Testament that have a fulfilment in the time between the Old and New Testaments. But that’s a time period that Daniel covers more than any of the other prophets. And form what scholar and historians have found, this prophecy, even though it’s not as specific as some would like can be connected to what happened historically after the time of Daniel.
The Persians were eventually conquered by the Greeks who were ruled at that time by Alexander the Great. He is the great king mentioned in verses 3 and 4. It says there—3 Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. 4 And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.
As great as a historical figure Alexander might have been, he only gets two verses in this vision. That’s because God isn’t trying to give us a world history lesson. God has His focus, not on what’s happening in the rest of the world, but in what’s happening with His people. And even the greatest, most powerful and wealthy historical figures, if they reject God, mean very little for God’s eternal plan.
Alexander died abruptly at a young age, and there was no heir to the throne. Eventually, his kingdom was divided among four of his generals. Those four new, smaller empires kept fighting over territory, and the land of Israel was caught in the middle of it. Most notably, for many years, Israel was facing a kingdom in the north and a kingdom in the south.
In case you want to look into this a little more, the kingdom of the south is a reference to the Ptolemaic Empire, which was rooted in Egypt, which is south of Israel. The kingdom of the north is a reference to the Seleucid dynasty, which was based in Syria.
I won’t go into further detail, but as kings and generations passed, what God told Daniel came to pass. God was absolutely correct. In fact, this prophecy is so accurate, that skeptics have tried to claim for many years that this prophecy was written hundreds of years after Daniel because they say no one could have known this was going to happen. But we know better than that. We serve an omnipotent and omniscient God of truth. He knows the future, and He controls the future. Therefore, His message is true, and His message is trustworthy. That’s the first characteristic of a message like this.
Here's a second characteristic. It is a trustworthy message, and it is a troubling message. This is a troubling message.
As we read through the chapter, you should have noticed how much warfare and instability there was. Israel and its people were not going to achieve peace anytime soon. This was a time of trouble, a time of turmoil, a time of instability and war and death. And in this vision, there are two personalities that focus on
If you were here for our message in Daniel 8, you might remember the vision of the Ram and the Goat. That was a very complicated vision, and it was a challenge for all of us. But in that vision, we covered a little horn who came up out of the goat, and that represented a man known as Antiochus IV, or Antiochus Epiphanes.
Well, he makes another appearance in this vision beginning in verse 21 where he is called “a contemptible person.” He was a despicable, vile, evil man who took over the land. He was known for his power, his perversion, and his persecution. He set himself up as god, he stopped Jewish worship in the Temple, and he tried to erase the identity of the Jewish people. He took what was intended to worship God and he made it an abomination. And he tried to wipe the people of God off the face of the earth.
In Daniel’s day, this is what Israel had to look forward to. It would be a time of trouble. This was a troubling message.
Now, historically, we can match events that have taken place to what we see up to verse 35. But starting in verse 36, we find that it’s not very easy to figure out what this refers to. And that has led many people to believe that verse 36 jumps forward to a final coming king who will bring great trouble and tribulation for the people of God.
The power, the perversion, and the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes was a foretaste of someone even worse. We call him the Antichrist.
As you might remember form the previous visions, the Antichrist is going to apparently come from a revived version of the Roman Empire. And that means that the vision of Daniel 11 makes reference to the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.
The Antichrist will be the final leader of the final global empire of this world. As verses 36 and 37 say: He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done. He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.
His god and his personal devotion will be to military power. And he’s going to achieve it. He will dominate the world by deception and by military power. His kingdom will be one of idolatry and death. And now, notice the end of the vision. Look at the end of verse 45—Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.
Chapter 7 of Daniel gave us a more detailed description of Antichrist’s end. His kingdom will come to an end and the power and the dominion will be given to Christ and to His people. And you can read more about that in Revelation 18, 19, an d 20. Christ will win. And the people of God will reign forever.
Because of that, we have this final reminder from this message. This is a trustworthy message. This is a troubling message. Lastly, it is also a triumphant message. It’s a triumphant message.
Trouble is going to come. Life in this world, personally and nationally, is not going to be easy, but the trouble is only temporary. God is with us, and He will bring human history to its ordained end, which is the people of Christ ruling forever, and every sinful rebel will be removed.
So, how should we respond? Since we have been given a trustworthy message and a troubling message and a triumphant message, how should we react.
We already saw three reminders about God’s word. Let’s close with three more reminders about how we should live.
Number 1, we should live with certainty. God’s message is true. We should be certain about it. God said that trouble is coming. We shouldn’t be surprised by that.
The Roe v. Wade decision of last week placed the decision about abortion in the hands of the state legislature. Here in California, that probably means nothing is going to change for us legally. But in some states, abortion has already been abolished.
We can praise God when law is more aligned with His word and His righteousness, but let’s not be deceived into thinking this world is going to one day, all by itself, come to recognize the justice of God. That’s not where this world is headed. It’s headed for trouble. This world is uniting itself against God and against His people. Be certain about that. Don’t be surprised.
But we should also be certain that we have the final victory. If you have trusted in Christ, if you have surrendered your life to Him and trusted in His life and death and resurrection alone for your salvation, you belong to Him, and He will not abandon you.
If you’ve never done that, God’s message to you is that you do that today. Recognize you sin. Confess it, and call out for mercy. Beg God for mercy and forgiveness and a new heart, and His word gives us the certainty that He will respond. Talk to any of our members about this, and we’d be glad to tell you more.
A second response we should have to this message of Daniel 11 is courage. We should have certainty and we should have courage. As bad as this world is going to get, as rebellious as this world will be against God, as much as this world attempts to pull you into immorality and debauchery, we need to respond with courage and with conviction, just like Daniel did. Our allegiance is not o this world. Our allegiance is to Jesus Christ. He is our Lord. He is our master.
The final response I want to remind you about is confidence. Confidence. We should have certainty in the truth of God’s word. We should have courage in times of trouble. And we should have confidence because of the triumph that awaits us.
Your confidence in the word of God is demonstrated in the confidence with which you live you life. Why were precious saints, honorable men and women of the past, willing to risk or to sacrifice their lives for Jesus Christ? Why do Christians today under severe persecution do that? They do it because they know the end of the story. We don’t need to fear man. We don’t need to fear the power of this world. We know the end. The worst of this world will only be a blip or a footnote in the eternal plan of God.
This world is temporary. But the word of God and the souls of men are eternal. And we will triumph in the Lord. We’re not going to find true stability and peace in this world. It will only come, and it will surely come, from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Like Pasul says in Philippians 3: Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. [He] will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.
Christ will come to rule the world. Every enemy will be conquered. And that same power of His is going to transform this weak body into a glorious body. And we will be with one another and with Him for all eternity.