Daniel 10-11:34: Darius through the Maccabees

Daniel 10 records a vision that Daniel received about five years after the vision of chapter 9. Daniel 11 continues with a brief prophetical summary of events that occur up to and including the time of the Maccabees, before switching to future unfulfilled prophecies about the Antichrist. Since we had a request from a history buff, we're going to cover the basics of this flow of historical prophecy directly rather than skipping it as I had planned. In the next lesson, we'll cover the end of the chapter dealing with the Antichrist through the end of the book of Daniel.

The Vision of the Messiah

Daniel 10 doesn't have a lot of direct prophecy in it - just a few verses in fact, but it is an interesting chapter nevertheless. In particular, it is constructive to get a glimpse of the unseen forces at work in governments.

The chapter begins with a proclamation that the thing Daniel saw was seen in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia. It was not to be fulfilled for some time, but was understood by Daniel. He saw the vision after a period of three weeks of fasting. There is some discussion about whether he was on a diet (due to listing certain foods that he didn't eat and beverages he didn't drink), but it is clear to me that he was just listing items he usually ate that he gave up during this period. It had been quite a while since the last vision. Many times, when we think God has stopped using us, we start to question ourselves. Most times this doesn't result in us fasting and trying to get closer to God. It leads to us drifting farther away from God. How much better it would be for us if we always consciously tried to move closer to Him when it seems we have drifted apart than letting our pride get in the way and adopting an attitude of "He knows where I am if He wants me!".

In this case, Daniel got a special glimpse of the Messiah, in His heavenly regalia. If you will remember our discussion of the first chapter of Revelation, this description that Daniel provides is strikingly similar. His companions at the river's edge didn't see the vision, but fell quaking so that they ran to hide. The description of the vision's effect on them reminds me of Saul on the road to Tarsus when he fell to the ground at the power of his encounter with Jesus.

Daniel heard the words that Jesus spoke to him and then fell to the ground, having no strength in him. He fell in a deep sleep on his face on the ground. The content of the vision is really included in chapter 11 and 12, and we'll get to that in a bit. First there is some interesting information presented about the spirit world's work in our affairs.

The Angelic Interpreter

After he has been lying prostrate on the ground for some time, an angel is sent unto him and touches him and he stands upright. The angel declares that from the first day that Daniel decided to try to understand, had prayed, and had chastened himself before God, this angel was sent to answer his prayer. However, the angel was delayed in carrying out his mission. This is something that is rarely thought about in Christian circles today, yet it has biblical significance and needs to be addressed.

Here, God sent the answer to the prayer immediately, and yet the angel that was sent didn't arrive immediately. Why not? The prince of the kingdom of Persia (literally the satanic prince or angel ruling the kingdom of Persia and not a human ruler) prevented the angel from carrying out his mission for 21 days. The angel Michael who is identified as one of the chief princes (or angels) came to help him carry out his mission. At that point, he was able to carry out his mission and come to see Daniel.

Dake has these notes about these two verses...

8:12 Here is an example of (ed. answers to) prayer being delayed. Such delays should never hinder faith or cause one to give up seeking an answer that is promised by God. They should only urge one to renew his efforts and to hold on in prayer and faith until the answer is realized.

8:13 This is the satanic prince or ruler of the kingdom of Persia, one ruling the kingdom of Persia for Satan who is recognized in Scripture as being the god and ruler of this world, having usurped man's dominion. (Mt. 4:8-9;12:24-30; Jn. 8:44;12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2;6:10-18; 1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 12:7-12;16:13-16; 20:1-10)

Over all the governments of this world Satan has his trusted angels who are responsible to him for carrying out his will in those governments. He seeks to hinder God's plan in the fulfillment of prophecy regarding world kingdoms. God also has trusted angels and they carry out His will concerning what He has predicted to take place in the kingdoms of this world (v 11-12; 11:1; 12:1). Hence the wars between these two groups of angels in the heavenlies (v 13, 20-21; 11:1; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7-12). All wars lost or won on earth are results of wars lost or won by these heavenly armies.

Not only over every government of this world are there good and evil spirit beings seeking to influence and carry out the will of their masters, but over every individual life the same is true (Mt. 18:10; 2 Cor. 10:4-6; Eph. 2:2;6:10-18; Heb. 1:14; Jude 9). Satan, himself, is active along the line of seeking to defeat God's purpose in the lives of His children (1 Chr. 21:1; Job 1:6;2:1; Zech 3:1; Mt. 4:1-11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2;6:10-18; Jn. 3:8; Rev. 12:12). Michael is the prince of Israel (Daniel 11:21;12:1). The prince of Grecia is referred to in v 20.

The words prince and princes are from the Heb. sar, which means a chief ruler. It is generally rendered prince in this book (ed. Daniel)

The Battle Fought and Won

The angel delivers the message that the interpretation deals with what will happen to Israel in the latter days. There would be certain parts that would foretell the first advent of the Messiah, and there would be certain parts that would deal with what would happen at the end of time. At this speaking Daniel set his face toward the ground again and became dumb. His lips are touched by the angel and he opens his mouth and speaks. He says he has no strength or breath due to the vision and his fasting state. The angel touches him and gives him strength. At that, the angel returns with two parting thoughts.

First, he is off to fight against the satanic angel that is trying to meddle in God's will concerning the kingdom of the Persians. When that battle is over, then the prince of Grecia (literally the angel that is working with the physical power in Greece or Alexander the Great) will come.

This raises some interesting points. Satan was actively working to keep the Persians in power, because the prophecy had been announced that the kingdom of the Medes and Persians would fall to the Grecians. He doesn't want God's will to be performed in any case, so was trying to support the Persians. You can be equally assured that for any new kingdom, empire, or other government that has been a part of God's prophecy in any way, he set out to do the best that he could to keep that empire in power so that the next part of God's established will couldn't be carried out. That continued with the Grecian empire, the Roman Empire, and if you take the modern interpretation of each of the four beasts in Daniel 7, the British, Communist, German, and U.N. empires). If he can keep God's prophecy from coming to pass just once, he wins. So far he has lost each time, but he keeps trying.

Second, this angel only had the help of Michael in his fight against the angel that was doing the work for the Persians, and didn't even have that help at the start of the chapter. Third, God thought that getting the prophecy out to Daniel about what was to come to pass was important enough to pull this angel off his first mission temporarily to support Daniel. Fourth, and perhaps most interestingly, God had given this angel his mission to perform, He knew it was in the bounds of the power of the angel to perform it, and God went on dealing with other issues. If Satan had brought in reinforcements, God might have done likewise (as He did when He sent Michael to relieve the angel in the battle so the angel could go to Daniel), but other than that, He clearly expected the angel to do His assigned job. The angel wasn't complaining or asking God for more help either. He knew that if God had assigned him the task, that God knew he was sufficient to overcome Satan's devices and do the work of the Father.

I would hope that that would be a word of encouragement to all workers who God has called in His kingdom. God won't assign you to do a task if He isn't sure that you can carry it out. That doesn't mean that people won't ask other people to do jobs they aren't qualified for if they aren't listening to God. If your pastor is desperate and not very closely attuned to God, he may ask you to do something that you aren't able to do. So might Sunday School Superintendents, et cetera. Don't just blindly assume that because you are asked by someone in authority in the church that it must be all right. Ask God yourself.

But the opposite is also true. If God is truly speaking to you to do something, then you can be assured that you have the ability or He will provide a way to bring it to pass. You need to step out in faith and do anything that God is asking. If it is a really big thing that you think God is asking of you, it isn't bad to do like Gideon did and put out some sort of fleece that you can use as a sign. Then follow through if the fleece comes up true. Make sure it is something that would take a miracle to happen. It isn't any good to pick a fleece that has a good chance of happening anyway.

That doesn't mean that the road will be easy. This angel had been delayed for 21 days from carrying out his second task due to the forces of Satan, and when God saw that there was trouble, He did send Michael to help, but the help didn't come immediately with the new assignment. That doesn't mean that He likes to see us suffer, but He has many plans. Michael may have come as soon as he was able to come. He may have been busy with other projects or duties, or may have simply been worshiping God! But God did send help when He could. If it looks like the evil forces are winning and your strength is crumbling, pray and trust God to send help. He is faithful. As Dake said earlier, don't lose hope or faith if things keep looking bleak for awhile. God will help things to work out in the end.

Another thing to consider is that sometimes, you're it. You may be the only person who will ever reach person XYZ for God. Nobody else will ever say the right word at the right time to make a difference. You may be the only person who will take on a particular job in the church and succeed with it. There may be others who can fill the position, but who will never be a success. Step out in faith.

When it comes to the work of God, big armies are not usually needed. One angel wiped out 185,000 Assyrian troops. Not bad for a night's work. Daniel wrote down this large bulk of prophecy. John wrote down the book of Revelation. It didn't take a committee. It just took one individual who would listen to God and do what God asked.

The History

The angel's final thoughts in this chapter are that the angel will shew details to Daniel about what has been noted in the scripture of truth about what will come to pass. He reiterates that currently Michael (the prince or angel looking out for the Jewish people) is the only one helping him in his battle with Satan at this time. The bulk of Daniel 11 deals with the history of the world that will unfold through the time of Christ. We'll summarize some of that and indicate how Dake and others interpret history as fulfilled by its scriptures.

Scripture Dake's Subheadings and notes
11:2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.
(2) Four more kings over Persia before Alexander the Great: Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius I, Xerxes
11:3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
(3) A mighty King: Alexander the Great
11:4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
(4) Division of Greece into four kingdoms
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.
(5) King of the south: Ptolemy Lagidae, one of Alexander's generals who seized Egypt on the death of Alexander. King of the north: Seleucus I, one of Alexander's princes and a general who seized Syria, Babylon, and Media and became greater than Ptolemy of Egypt
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, and he that strengthened her in these times.
(6) League between Egypt (south) and Syria (north) through the marriage of Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, to Antiochus Theos, the third king of Syria
11:7 But out of a branch of her 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:
(7) Branch of her roots: a brother of Berenice, Ptolemy Euergetes, who invaded Syria (north) to avenge the murder of Berenice by Laodice who was divorced by Antiochus so he could marry Berenice
11:8 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.
11:9 So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
11:10 But his 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.
(8) Defeat of Antiochus the Great by Ptolemy III of Egypt (III)
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.
11:12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
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.
(9) Antiochus the Great (Syria, north) renews the war after fourteen years and defeats Ptolemy V (Egypt, south)
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.
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.
11:16 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.
11:17 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, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
(10) Antiochus the Great and Ptolemy V come to terms: Antiochus gives Ptolemy his daughter who later helps her husband defeat the plans of Antiochus
11:18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.
(11) Antiochus next makes war on Greece but is turned back by the Roman prince Scipio who defeats him at Magnesia near Smyrna
11:19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
11:20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
(12) Seleucus, the son of Antiochus the Great sends Heliodorus to plunder the temple at Jerusalem and exact money from Israel (2 Macc. 3:4). This king is soon poisoned and is succeeded by Antiochus Epiphanes
11:21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
(13) Antiochus Epiphanes and his dealings with Israel are pictured in 11:21-14. A. He obtains his rule by flattery
11:22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
B He makes a league with the high priest; deals deceitfully and becomes strong
11:23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
11:24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
11:25 And 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 forecast devices against him.
C Makes war against Ptolemy of Egypt who is betrayed and killed and his army defeated
11:26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
11:27 And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
11:28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
D Antiochus returns in glory and victory and sets his heart to break his Jewish covenant and plunder Palestine
11:29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
E He leads a second expedition into Egypt but is turned back by a mandate from Rome in league with Cyprus. He then turns against the Jews and many apostate Jews help him to pollute the temple and place the abomination of desolation: a sow on the temple altar and doing away with Jewish sacrifices
11:30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
F He is resisted by the Maccabees who do exploits but are oppressed by him many days
11:33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
11:34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

Conclusion

There are many more columns of notes about this time in history, but this will give a flavor of how Dake interprets how history has indeed fulfilled the prophecy that was issued many centuries before. The next lesson will go on to look at the yet to be fulfilled prophecies in chapter 11 and 12.

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Dake excerpt taken from Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, © 1961, 1963 by Finis Jennings Dake, and is reproduced on our web site with permission from representatives of Dake Publishing.