Daniel 11. The Wars of the Greeks and the Beginnings of the Man of Sin.
Key Notes: Wars of the Persians and Greeks. A perspective on world history.
We can see God's revelation through Daniel occurring at two levels, the personal and the cosmic. We look at the cosmic first, because that is the major theme of Daniel. We will see that God focuses Daniel's attention on an increasingly narrow field of vision. This chapter has so many details of fulfilled prophecy that critics cannot believe it was written before the facts.
First we look at an outline of Daniel 11.
11:2–4 Persian kings, Xerxes the last, will attack and stir up the Greeks and lead to a counterattack. Alexander will win a huge empire but it will be broken into four parts by his generals rather than to be given to his offspring.
11:5–35 There will be chronic war between the Greek Ptolemies that control Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya, and the Greek Seleucids that control Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor. Details of these struggles are found in ancient history.
A crucial turn is noted in 11:14: "men of violence among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfil the vision, but they shall fail." This refers to the time when the Jews, caught in internecine warfare between Ptolemies and Seleucids, decided to ally themselves with the Seleucids. This was unfortunate because the Ptolemies were tolerant of the Jews and had allowed their settlements in Egypt. In contrast, the Seleucids acted cruelly toward the Jews and tried to force them into Greek paganism. Anyone reading Daniel should have been forewarned.
11:21–35A second turn is in 11:21 "In his place shall arise a contemptible person...." This is the infamous Antiochus Epiphanes, whose cruelties go on until 11:35, where the phrase "until the time of the end" signals a change.
11:36–45 Verse 36 contains a subtle shift from Antiochus Epiphanes to a greater king whose behavior does not match that of Antiochus. He regards neither traditional gods, women, but only a god of war, that helps him overcome fortresses. Under attack from North and South, he will camp near Jerusalem where he will die.
Comments: There are many passages indicating the failure and frustration of Greek forces: 11:4,6,11,12,14,15,17,18,19,20,24,25,26,29,30.
On the other hand, there are a few words encouraging the OT saints: 11:32,33,34,35.
To summarize what Daniel learned and teaches us about world history:
Daniel 2. A succession of four world empires--Babylon, MedoPersia, Greece and Rome--will culminate in a world power, but it will finally destroyed by God and replaced by the Kingdom of Heaven.
Daniel 7. The four world empires are like beasts. The last one (Rome) will spawn a contemptuous "Little Horn" (Antichrist) who will wear down the saints for 3.5 years until the Ancient of Days has him destroyed and the Kingdom is given to the saints of the Most High.
Daniel 8. Two of the beasts, Medo-Persia and Greece, will fight each other and from Greece comes another "Little Horn" (Antiochus Epiphanes), very clever and destructive, destroying the people of the saints, until his power is broken.
Daniel 9. Jerusalem will be rebuilt. From the decree to do so until Messiah comes will be 430 years. After that Jerusalem will be destroyed (for rejecting Messiah) and at a further indefinite time (the 70th week) the Desolator (the Antichrist of Revelation) will come, working his terrors within a seven year period until destruction is poured out on him.
Daniel 11. Within the Greek empire, there will be warfare of two of four Greek powers described here in great detail. Their protracted warfare involves Jerusalem often. It will culminate in the Abomination of Desolation, Antiochus Epiphanes, the "Little Horn" of Daniel 8. His image fades almost imperceptibly into another Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 7) at the end of world history.
The "Little Horn", the Abomination of Desolation coming from Greece is Antiochus Epiphanes. He ravaged the temple, persecuted the Jews intensely, and eventually led to emergence of a purified Jewish community, the Hasid, who were the fore-runners of the Pharisees. They liberated Israel from the Greeks. The Greek "Little Horn" is a prototype of the final Roman "Little Horn", also called The Abomination of Desolation, who will emerge from Rome in the End Times, acting in much the same way, but who will attempt to capture the whole world. Christ will destroy him and bring in the Kingdom.
Daniel also teaches us about God and pagan history at a more personal level.
Daniel 1. Nebuchadnezzar must see that the princes of Judah are different from the Babylonian wizards and seers.
Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar sees Daniel as the servant of the True God, able to do what no Babylonian can.
Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar observes God protecting the princes of Judah from the fire, defying Nebuchadnezzar's edict and his golden image.
Daniel 4. Nebuchadnezzar must surrender to God after a period of insanity.
Daniel 5. After 70 years, the Babylonian head of gold is now gone, replaced by the silver chest of Medo-Persia. Daniel is still on his feet, not only a survivor but a leader.
Daniel 6 God causes Darius the Mede to tilt toward the God of Israel by saving Daniel from the lions.
Daniel 10 God is seen at work with His angels, opposing the spiritual powers of Medo-Persia and Greece.
In conclusion, we are ultimate optimists because we know God will win over every foe and bring in a reign of righteousness and peace through Christ. We are proximate pessimists because we know that Satan in the meantime will do all in his power to thwart God's purposes and destroy God's work in the Church, the Body of Christ. It is our task to understand the times and seasons, to be wise and alert, praying always.