Conflict and Conquest

Daniel

Conflict and Conquest

April 30th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM

Daniel 11:1-45

Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. 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. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 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. 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. 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. 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: 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. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found. 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. 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. 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. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. 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. 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. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. 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. 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. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. 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. 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. 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. 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. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media
  
Play Audio

Show References:
ON OFF

CONFLICT AND CONQUEST

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 11: 1-45

4-30-72     10:50 a.m.

 

Sharing with us on radio and on television is a multitude of people in five different states.  And we welcome you at this hour of adoration and praise in the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

In our preaching through the Book of Daniel, we have come to the last great vision.  In chapter 11 and in chapter 12, the prophecy is consummated; and the message this morning is an exposition of the eleventh chapter.  It is entitled Conflict and Conquest, or Tribulation and Triumph.  It is by far the longest vision, the longest prophecy in the book, and it is written in great and minute detail. 

It is divided into three parts.  The first part, verses 1 through 20, is a presentation of the Persian and Greek world, and especially the wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, between Egypt and Syria, and the nation Israel that was caught in between those warring kingdoms [Daniel 11:1-20].  The second part, verses 21 through 35; the second part is a delineation of Antiochus Epiphanes who is a prototype of the ultimate, final, great dictator of the world, the Antichrist.  And as the prophecy continues, it fades; the picture of Antiochus Epiphanes fades into a portrayal of the Antichrist [Daniel 11:21-35].  And the third part, verses 36 through 45; the end of the chapter, is a prophecy of that ultimate, final dictator whose destruction and doom coincides with the end of history and the end of the world [Daniel 11:36-45].

Now before I begin, could I make two comments about the prophecy?  First, the interpretation that I have just given it: that the prophecy largely concerns the wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, a war that precipitated the Maccabean revolt, this traditional interpretation, the one that has usually been followed through all of the centuries and is followed by practically everyone now, this traditional interpretation is not accepted; it is challenged by Ellicott in Ellicott’s commentary.  And as he comments on the prophecy through the eleventh chapter of Daniel, he points out many places that create great difficulties when you accept the traditional interpretation of the prophecy.  Ellicott therefore looks upon the eleventh chapter of Daniel as eschatological; that is, it has to do with the last days.  And what he sees here is Israel, as it is oppressed and caught between two great powers at the consummation of the age. 

Now as I study, there are innumerable, diverse, and conflicting opinions and interpretations.  But the reason this one appealed to me is Charles John Ellicott was born in 1819, and when he looks upon this chapter, this prophecy, as being eschatological – that is, it refers to the consummation of the age at the end time; at which time, he says Israel will be caught between two great powers.  Now, he was born in 1819 and wrote his commentary in maturity somewhere around, say, 1850.  As I look at history and the development of the powerful nations of the world, I find that exactly.  On one side is America, the great superpower that befriends Israel, and on the other side is Russia, a second great superpower who is seeking to espouse the cause of the enemies of the Israeli state. 

So as I read the prophecy and study it, I am much inclined to believe either that it is eschatological altogether; it is a prophecy of the conditions of the world and of the nations and of God’s holy people at the consummation of the age, at the end times, or – and this I am certain of – at least it is a type, a prototype, it is a delineation of a situation that developed in Israel in history and it is a harbinger, it is a picture of what shall come to pass at the end of the age.

Now, my second comment about the prophecy.  In it, Antiochus Epiphanes has a very large part.  Verse after verse after verse is a portrayal of the person and the character of Antiochus Epiphanes.  Not only here, but you find him elsewhere in the prophecies of Daniel.  Now, when you look at a person like that so largely portrayed and delineated on the sacred page, you would think he must be some tremendous and notable character.  Actually, he is not.  Antiochus Epiphanes is a diminutive ant in history.  He’s a bubble in the boiling caldron of the story of humanity.  Then why is it that he occupies so large a space here in the prophecy?  Well, the answer is very plain, and the answer lies in something that if we do not know it and remember it, the Bible becomes enigmatic and inexplicable to us.  The reason for the delineation of Antiochus Epiphanes is because he touched Israel, the holy family of God, at a most tragic part and period in the history of God’s people.  It was Antiochus Epiphanes who precipitated the Maccabean rebellion, and the Jewish nation over the earth celebrates that victory of independence in their Feast of Lights – the Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, as it’s called in the New Testament [John 10:22]; the feast of the cleansing of the temple under Judas Maccabeus. 

Now the principal to remember in it is this: the Bible is not a history of the Gentile nations of the earth, nor does its prophecies, as such, concern the Gentile nations of the earth.  But the Bible is a story of the redemptive purpose and plan of God through Israel, and the prophecies concern God’s people.  The whole Old Testament prophecies center around the holy chosen family of God; the Jew, the Hebrew, the Jew.  And even the New Testament, in its final consummation in the Revelation, in the Apocalypse, returns back to that great purpose of God with His people.

God is not done with the Jew [Romans 11:1-2, 25-26].  The liberal says so, but God doesn’t say so, nor does the Bible say so; and if you want to know what time it is on God’s clock, look at the Jew. Therefore, when you read the prophecy, you will find the prophecy concerning the family of God, the Jewish people, and the Jewish nation; even though in the course of Gentile history, the man, as Antiochus Epiphanes, may be very small and diminutive in it. 

When I got through preaching here – about, oh, three weeks ago – preaching through the Book of Daniel, I was standing right there, and a man came down to talk to me.  He was a Muslim, he was a Mohammedan, and he was from the Middle East, and he’d come here to the services.  And he asked me, "Are you a Jew?"  I said "No, I would like to be.  I wish I were.  I’d love to belong, by blood, in the chosen family and people of God."  But I said, "No, I am not a Jew."

"Well," he said, "I listened to you preach this morning, and from what I heard, I thought you must be a Jew." 

Well, what he’d listened to was an exposition of the prophecies of God, and the prophecies of God concern the Jewish people.  And they concern the Gentile nations of the earth only and insofar and insomuch as the Hebrew people, the Jewish people, touched the Gentile nations of the earth.  And that’s why when you read a prophecy such as the eleventh chapter of Daniel, you will see these figures such as Antiochus, so largely loom in the foreview and the foreknowledge of the revelation of God, given here to His statesman Daniel. 

Now having said those two things, let us look at the prophecy itself.  And could I, because sometimes I’m discouraged in trying to present these things, could I say something that encouraged me?   I spoke about forty-five minutes this morning, at the early service.  And two of my compatriots up here, my fellow pastors on the platform said, "Pastor, why didn’t you just continue on through the Sunday school hour?"  Oh, I like that!  So they said, "Now at this hour, when you see that clock go around there to twelve o’clock, well don’t quit, you just keep on going."  Well, the weather’s bad outside, we have an hour earlier, so let’s just make ourselves at home.  And listen: oh, I just, I try – and whether it is meaningful or not is in God’s hands, but may the Lord bless it. 

The prophecy begins: it is a revelation of an angel.  This is an angel who is talking to the statesman-prophet Daniel.  And as the angel unfolds the future, he begins where they are at that time, in the Persian Empire.  And Cyrus is the king, the founding and first great king.

 

Now I will show you the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet  three kings in Persia, and the fourth shall be richer than they all: and by his strength, and thru his riches, he shall stir up all [against] Greece, all Hellas – against him. 

[Daniel 11:2]

 

Well, Cyrus, the reigning king when the angel is speaking, and then four kings to follow after; the first is Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who reigned from about 529 to about 522 BC.  The second one is Pseudo-Smerdis.  That’s an unusual thing about him: he was a usurper, an imposter.  He looked so much like the son of Cambyses that he said he was the son of Cambyses, and in that deception secured the throne of the Persian Empire; didn’t last long, it was in a period of turmoil.  And the second king, Smerdis, reigned from 522 to 521.  Now the third king according to the prophecy, the third king reigned from 521 to 485; and that’s Darius Hystaspes. 

It was Darius who sought to conquer the kingdom of Hellas, the Greeks.  And he was defeated by Miltiades with a small Greek army of ten thousand at the Battle of Marathon in 0 BC. The Persian army numbered far beyond one hundred thousand, but Miltiades with that band of Greeks overwhelmed the Persian strength.  And Darius returned back to Asia a defeated man.  Xerxes is the fourth; he’s the rich king here.  You know him in the Book of Esther as Ahasuerus [Esther 1:1].  Xerxes, one of the great Oriental rulers of all history; fabulously wealthy, and he sought to avenge the Persian defeat at Marathon.  So he gathered together the largest, by far, the largest army the ancient world had ever seen.  It numbered up to two million men.  And he gathered together the greatest fleet of ships that the world, up to that time, had ever seen.  And he cast the entire force of the Persian Empire against Hellas; against the ancient Greek kingdom.  There is the battle of Thermopylae and there is the battle of Salamis in which Xerxes was ignominiously defeated and went back to Asia, never to cross the Hellespont again. 

The prophecy says that these rulers of Persia shall stir up all Hellas against them, all the Greeks against them [Daniel 11:2]. It was a century and a half before the retaliatory stroke was made.  And it came in the person – and here is the next prophecy: "And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will" [Daniel 11:3].  This is Alexander, still called "the Great," one of the geniuses of all time, and a man who affected and changed the course of civilization more than any man who ever lived.

Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedon; Alexander, when he was about twenty years of age, with lightening strokes swept the entire civilized world before him, and in twelve brief years subjugated the whole eastern Asia world.   He finally came to the Indus River, to the borders of India, and would have swept on around the earth, I suppose, had it not been that his army refused to go any further.

Then the prophecy is made that the kingdom is broken up and divided into 4 parts; to the 4 winds of heaven [Daniel 8:22; 11:4].  And that is the fourfold division of the Greek Empire of Alexander.  And the reason I mention this is that the whole after-prophecy concerns the leadership and the rulers of the Greeks. For the Ptolemies were Greeks, and the Seleucids were Greek; and when you go to the picture show to see Cleopatra, you’re looking upon a Greek.  There never was anything that ever happened in history that changed civilization and culture as Alexander the Great with his Greek conquests: Greek architecture, Greek drama, Greek poetry, Greek artistry, Greek philosophy, Greek science – the atomic theory is Greek – Greek methods of warfare, Greek patterns of thought, Greek everything.  The world of civilization as we know it in the Western world is Greek.  After two thousand five hundred years, if you see a beautiful column, it’ll be Greek.  There has been no advancement in that column or in that architecture for two thousand, five hundred years.  Nor has there been any philosopher to arise who goes beyond Aristotle or Plato.

Let me read to you a quotation that I took out of a book, The Direction of Human Evolution, by a professor at the University of Princeton.  I quote from him. Listen to it:

 

It is the opinion of those, who have studied the subject most, that no modern race of man is the equal intellectually to the ancient Greek race.

 

Of course, the article comes out of a book – quotation comes out of a book that says we’re not evolving upward; that’s what he’s talking about, but I’m talking about something else.  Now, he’s talking about evolution; I’m talking about the intellectual capacity of and superiority of the ancient Greek race.  Now, listen to it:

                       

In the two centuries between the 500 and 300 BC, the small and relatively barren country of Attica –

that’s little Athens –

with an area and total population about equal to that of the present state of Rhode Island, but with less than one tenth as many free persons.  That little place,

 

Now remember, he’s talking about contemporaries of Alexander and all the rest of those great Greeks; he’s not going to mention them, he is going to mention just that little place of Athens.

 

That little place produced a galaxy of illustrious men.  Among statesmen and commanders were Miltiades, the great leader of Marathon; Themistocles, who won the Battle of Salamis; Aristides and Pericles, who doubtless was the greatest statesman of all time; among poets; Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles and Aristophanes; among philosophers and men of science, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Demetrius and Theophrastus; among architects and artists, Phidias, who  made the beautiful statue, one of the Seven Wonders of the World; Pallas Athena in the Parthenon; Phidias and Praxiteles; among historians Thucydides, one of the greatest historians who ever lived; and Xenophon –

there’s no boy who went to school that did not have to study Xenophon –

among orators Aeschines, Demosthenes, Isocrates, and Lysias.  In this small country, in the space of two centuries, there appears such a galaxy of illustrious men as has never been found on the whole earth in any two centuries since that time. 

 

Now, the reason I mention that is, not only is it the prophecy here, but all of the prophecy that follows after, concerns those Greeks.  Because when Alexander’s empire was broken up into four parts, one part fell to the Greek Ptolemies, and the other part fell to the Greek Seleucids – Seleucus Antiochus, that hereditary chain of kings.

What we read here then, is Greek.  Now Antiochus Epiphanes was one of those Greeks, and he is taken here as a prototype [Daniel 11:21-35].  That is, a prototype is a person, a character who lives in this age, this one here. But he is a picture of, he is a harbinger of a type of another person; another character who will live in another age, at another time.  Antiochus Epiphanes here in this prophecy is a type of the ultimate and final Antichrist; the great, ultimate dictator of the world.  And as the prophecy continues, Antiochus Epiphanes gradually fades back into the background, and the delineation of the character of the ultimate Antichrist comes to the foreground.

Therefore, if you would like to know what it will be like at the end of the world, and how we can somehow sense God’s hand as history moves to the end of the world, here’s what you do, is to read the prophecy, and find Antiochus Epiphanes, and in the prophecy, a prototype of the ultimate consummation of the age – because the end of this king is identified and it coincides with the end of the age: where the denouement will be, what it will be like, and the country and  land in which these great, ultimate, conflicting armies gather to muster. 

Now, when I look at the prophecy, one of the first things – and of course the thing that led to the mentioning, to the presentation of Antiochus Epiphanes – one of the first things is his tragic persecution of God’s people [Daniel 11:24, 33-35].  And this is a delineation of the whole history of Gods people in the world and especially at the end time.

The apostle Paul himself said that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution [2 Timothy 3:12].

 

O blessed Christ, if I were more like Thee,

I would no doubt more persecuted be.

The world and formal church would see far less

To tolerate in me, and not to bless.

The toleration that is shown to me

Is proof that I, my Lord, am less like Thee

Than Peter, John, and Paul, and all who died

For likeness to the Christ, the crucified.

[author and work unknown]

 

When you get along easily with the world, it is a sure sign that you are that much less like Christ, and that much less like the true and sainted people of God.  "For in the world you shall have tribulation," [John 16:33].  This world, the Scriptures say, is not a friend to Christ and to God [John 7:7]. 

So in this prototype, there is first the persecution, bitter unto death, of the people of God [Daniel 11:24, 33-35].  I see that in the world with increasing terror.  I see it today.  I see it in the headlines of the papers.  More than one-third of this world has already passed under the rulership and the dominion of governments that are openly, and avowedly, and statedly atheistic.  And when you see the Christian in Russia, he is a deprived, second-rate citizen.  His children have no privileges for education.  He is practically an outcast.  And if he shows himself too zealous, too evangelistic, immediately he comes under the thumb, the heavy iron fist of the communist government.  And of course the martyrs of the Christian faith in China are known but to God.  They are suffering today, and with increasing rapidity do we see the harsh arm of the atheistic governments of the world reaching out.

Who would have ever thought that Russia is obtaining what the czars could never attain; bases in the Mediterranean?  Who would ever have thought that Russia stands on the verge of making that great inland sea a Russian sea.  Who would ever have thought she’d been reaching down into the Indian Ocean and to the subcontinent of India herself? 

Because of this last war, India has an open heart toward Russia. And America of course, chose the wrong side, if we did.  In any event, the whole course of history is moving against the people of God; the Jew, the Christian.  It is not more so, we are not more so encompassing the world.   We’re not more so making converts and building up the kingdom of our Lord.  We are desperately, in most places, fighting for our very existence; both theologically, in a world of freedom such as we enjoy; and the very life of the church, under governments that are oppressive and dictatorial and annihilistic.  This is exactly what is presented here in the prototype as the thing moves forward; the people of God increasingly come under duress, under coercion, and under tragic persecution [Daniel 11:24, 33-35]. 

Finally, as the prophecy progresses, and it hurts my heart not to be able to accept just a generalized – what you find here in the eleventh chapter of Daniel in the ultimate rise of the Antichrist, the world’s last great dictator; you find it’s spelled out meticulously in the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians [2 Thessalonians 2:3] and in the thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse, the Revelation [Revelation 13:1]. 

There he is presented, what is prophesied here in prototype; there he is presented in minute detail; there is coming finally on the stage of the world, on this scene of historical action, there is coming the incarnation of Satan himself.  There will be a man at that time – and it could be anytime – there will come a man who will give himself, his competence, his ability, his genius, he will give himself to the use as a tool, as a pigeon, in the hands of Satan.  And Satan will seek in that last, traumatic development of history to strike the final blow against the kingdom of Christ and the chosen people of God. That is delineated specifically in the Scriptures [2 Thessalonians 2:3-12]. 

I saw a cartoon in Russia: on the earth beneath, the church is lying in shambles.  A ladder from earth leaning against a cloud in the sky, and on the cloud a banquet table at which sat God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – and there’s a Russian workman on the top of that ladder with a raised hammer in his hand like this.  And I had them read for me the caption that was written in Russian that I could not read; and the caption in Russia read, "As we have destroyed God in the earth," all of those churches in shambles, "so shall we destroy God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost in heaven!"

Now, that is exactly the prototype here [Daniel 11:36-45] and the prophecy of that final world dictator.  He is coming as the Antichrist [2 Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 13:1].  He is coming suddenly on the world scene in imitation of Christ: for thousands of years [Luke 3:23-38], then the Messiah appears in obscurity thirty years, then there He is [Luke 3:23].  He is coming with the baptism of hell and with the credentials of miracles and lying wonders [2 Thessalonians 2:9].  He is coming, the antithesis of the Lord, who came not to do His will, but the Father’s [Luke 22:42].  He is called the willful king, and he subjects all things under his iron hand [Daniel 11:36].  And his ministry, his terrible reign [Daniel 12:7], is exactly the length of the Lord’s ministry here on earth; a time, times and half a time – three and a half years, forty-two months, one thousand, two hundred sixty days – called in the Bible the great tribulation [Matthew 24:21]. 

Now he comes in, as the Scriptures say here, he comes in, and he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries [Daniel 11:21], then follows the description here in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Daniel of his deceit, of his deceiving the people [Daniel 11:23].  You see that in the sixth chapter of the Revelation: there’s the white horse, he comes [Revelation 6:2].  The true Prince of Peace does not appear until the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 19:11]; but in the sixth chapter, there he comes.  The world will be in turmoil, and he promises answers to all of the problems of the nations.  He’s a peacemaker and he can bring affluence and prosperity; and he befriends Israel.  He makes a covenant with Israel according to the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel [Daniel 9:27], and he espouses their call, and he wars with them against the king of the South, which is Egypt [Daniel 11:40-43].  And he gathers them back into the homeland; they can return and build their nation. 

Then in the midst of that covenant, Daniel’s seventieth week, after the first three and a half years, in the midst of that covenant, this Antichrist turns; he changes [Daniel 9:27].  And here is the delineation again, the prototype again, in the eleventh chapter of Daniel: he becomes a vile, and a vicious, and a violent person [Daniel 11:40-45].  Then in the sixth chapter of the Revelation, you have it followed through.  First, there is the white horse as he comes in peace, deceiving the nations of the earth [Revelation 6:2].  Then – and here in the Book of Daniel he is described as a king who worships the god of force; and gives to that god honor, and silver, and gold, and stones, and everything precious [Daniel 11:38].  That is, he pours into the coffers of war and conflict all of the might, and wealth, and strength of the whole world.  And that’s why, in the sixth chapter of Revelation, the white horse is followed by the red horse of war, and the black horse of famine, and the pale horse of death [Revelation 6:2-8].  And that leads – according to the eleventh chapter of the book here in Daniel [Daniel 11:44-45], and according to the Apocalypse [Revelation 19:17-21], and according to the whole Bible – that leads to the great, final confrontation in the earth [Revelation 16: 14, 16]. 

And the destruction of that king, the Antichrist, coincides with the end of the world.  And the place of that confrontation is described in Ezekiel [Ezekiel 38-39]; it’s described in Joel [Joel 3:9-15]; it is described in Zechariah [Zechariah 12:11]; and it is described here and elsewhere in the Bible.  The place of that is meticulously, precisely, delineated: it is in the Holy Land, and it is called the battle – it would be better to say the war of Armageddon [Revelation 16:14, 16].  And it is in the midst of that awesome confrontation, the great final battle of the day of God, that Christ God intervenes from heaven [Revelation 19:11-16], and the end of history has come [Revelation 19:19-21].

Well, as you read these things, and I’ve just skimmed it, I’ve just generalized on it; as you read these things, your heart is filled with terror.  O God in heaven!  What lies ahead for Thy people? What lies ahead for the nations of the earth?  What lies ahead for civilization?  What lies ahead?  It ends in a catastrophe, in a maelstrom, in a blood bath, in destruction! [Matthew 24:7-30]

And as we look at history, as we read in the papers today, and read in the newspapers and in the magazine – O Lord!  Why do you think other nations are stockpiling these hell bombs, and these H-bombs, these atomic weapons?  Why do you think they’re running a race with one another, building these Polaris submarines and their atomic-headed missiles; any one of which can be shot out of an ocean and destroy a great city like New York, or like Moscow, or like Leningrad?  And they’re beginning to build these platforms.  The United States government has announced they’re going to build one.  They’re building these platforms in space to circle the earth, down on which they can rain livid, flaming death!  All of that is in the Bible; all of that is meticulously relayed here.  The world is moving toward that great, final battle of Armageddon, the Day of the Lord [Revelation 16:14-16]. 

Now the reason that God prophesies it here is not only the truth; this is the way it shall be, but here and here, and I marked the passages – one, two, three, four, five, six – six times here in this eleventh chapter of the Book of Daniel does the prophet say that these things are appointed, that they’re in the sovereign hand and will of God.  That is, no development in history is without the surveillance of the Almighty.  It is not a panic that is torn loose and has gone wild, but it is according to the will and sovereign purpose of God, and the Lord is keeping watch above His own, and He is taking care of His own. That’s what the prophecy is about,

Lest we fall into despair and into discouragement, as though God had forgotten us, and as though the Lord had lost control of the universe and has no part or hand in the development and destiny of human history and human life; no!  The prophecy is that we might understand that when these things happen, it is not that God has forsaken us, or God has for forgotten us, or God has withdrawn, but rather it is that we might remember that these things are under the surveillance, and sovereign, mighty hand of the Lord, and He will deliver His people out of it.  For example, and this belongs to the next sermon, in the twelfth [chapter], it starts off like this: 

 

There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even at that same time: but that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that is to be found written in the book. 

[Daniel 12:1]

 

The reason for the prophecy is that we might know that God controls.  And as the Lord said, "for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened" [Matthew 24:22].  It is God who keeps it in His hand, and it is God who controls the destiny and the development of human history.  And that is why we’re to be filled with assurance, and with triumph!  Conflict and conquest, tribulation and trial: "In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" [John 16:33].  And God’s people are always to be filled with hope and optimism for a more glorious, conquesting, triumphant tomorrow! 

I close: from Robert Louis Stevenson, one of the sweetest English authors, from Robert Louis Stevenson comes a story.  There was a ship that in a violent storm at sea was being driven against the rocks.  Any moment it might be dashed to pieces.  The passengers in the ship were huddled together in terror, facing certain death.  And in the agony of that moment, one of the men said, "I’m going up, perilous though it is, I’m going up to the pilot’s house and see the pilot."  He made his way up, and up, and up, and finally to the pilot’s house.   And there he found the pilot, chained to his post with his hands on the wheel guiding little by little, turning little by little, the ship away from the rocks and out into the deep of the open sea.  And when the pilot saw his intruder, and looked at his terror-stricken face, the pilot looked at him.  With his hand on the wheel, the pilot looked at him, and smiled.  The man turned around, went back down the deck below, and shouted as he went, "All is well!   All is well!  I saw the pilot’s face, and he smiled." 

That’s exactly what God means in the prophecy for His people: in the storms of life that are raging, in the story of nations that are violently in conflict, and in that ultimate denouement of the age, in a blood bath, in a maelstrom, in the Battle of Armageddon, God’s people are to rest as that little band did when that man came back.  In assurance and in quiet, their terror and their fear turned into optimism and confidence.  "When these things begin to come to pass," our Lord said, "Look up, look up; for your redemption draw nigh" [Luke 21:28].  It is the Lord who reigns and He alone.  It is God who has us in His hands and He alone.  And in faith we believe He will bring it to pass: the sweetest, the best, the dearest for us. 

Ah, sweet people, what an assurance God hath written on that page that we might live in hope.  Could I apply this just once again?  Not only is that written in assurance, and in blessedness, and in hope as history develops around us,  but that’s to be ours in all of the turns, and fortunes, and vicissitudes of life: in all of it, in all of it.

I think of that especially because yesterday, in visiting at the hospital; some of the dearest, sweetest people we have in this church are dying, and some of them an agonizing death.  Oh! They face such insuperable pain, and problem, and heartache, and the dissolution of life; but is it that?  Is that it?  No!  Beyond the tribulation, and beyond the agony, and beyond the death, there is this hope and promise of Christ, of God.  And we are to live in that assurance, and that victory, and that triumph – beyond any of the sorrows we know in life, beyond the pain and the death, there is the kingdom of God; the Lord coming in glory.  Is not that what you read? 

 

I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was Faithful and True, His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God, And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, that with it He should smite the nations of the earth and rule them with a rod of iron, And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 

[Revelation 19:11-16]

 

That’s our coming and reigning Christ.  And to that hope and victory we give our souls in full and complete assurance, resting in God. 

Now we must sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you; in the balcony round, down a stairway, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here the front, "Pastor, today, I have made this decision for God and here I come, and here I am."  On the first note of that first stanza, step out into that aisle or down that stairway, "Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I make it now."  Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up walking down that aisle.   Do it now, make it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing. 

CONFLICT AND CONQUEST

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 11

4-30-72

 

I.             Prophecy in three months

A.   Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria with Israel in between

B.   Two comments

II.            Antiochus Epiphanes

III.          Final Antichrist

A.   Satan’s masterpiece

B.   An imitation of Christ

C.   His coming

D.   His terrible change and tyranny

E.   His end

IV.          Conclusion