By: Nelson Walters
Author: Are We Ready For Jesus? How to Prepare for His Return (May 2015)
Daniel’s Great Vision Prophecy PART IV
In our previous 3 posts on Daniel’s final, great vision in chapters 10-12, we learned that Satan tried to stop Daniel from receiving this prophecy. By carefully studying it, we can see why. It gives an amazingly detailed description of the Antichrist, and even details the career of the Antichrist before the Great Tribulation. This passage also places events in chronological order so we can view other prophecies in Daniel, Matthew and Revelation in proper sequence.
If you haven’t read the previous 3 posts in this series, I recommend you start there.
In the third of these 3 posts we learned that Daniel 11:21 – Daniel 12: 4 all apply to the Antichrist and the Tribulation. Dan. 11: 21 – 35 also had an historic foreshadow in the life of Antiochus Epiphanes, but the final fulfillment is yet future.
Dan. 11: 30-31 are the dividing verses of this passage. They detail the capture of Jerusalem and the Abomination of Desolation. (see MIDPOINT OF THE TRIBULATION: EARTH’S PERSPECTIVE) Verses 21 -30 occur in the first half of the Tribulation and verses 31 – Dan. 12:4 encompass the Great Tribulation and the second half of the Tribulation.
THE RISE OF THE ANTICHRIST
His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle. He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. (Dan. 11:20-21 NIV, emphasis mine)
Daniel 11 begins the prophecy about the Antichrist with the leader who precedes him. To me, personally, this is a huge clue that the vast majority of Daniel 11 may be yet future. (We will discuss this in a future post.) Notice how it says “his successor” and “he will be succeeded by.” The entire chapter is a series of one leader succeeding another; it is a continuous narrative. It doesn’t seem logical that the future aspects “just begin” in the middle of a continuous narrative. I don’t think this constitutes rock-solid Biblical proof, but it supports the Radical Futurist position.
The leader who precedes the Antichrist taxes “the Kingdom.” What kingdom is it? It is the kingdom that the Antichrist will originally control when he comes to power because we know the Antichrist succeeds the leader who taxes excessively. We also notice that intrigue and deception are hallmarks of the Antichrist and that he is not a leader at first (president, prime minister, etc.) it is said he isn’t “royalty.” This is consistent with Dan. 7 and 8 which call him the “little horn.” (someone without power initially), but someone who comes to power by trickery. We should not be looking at current world leaders for candidates for Antichrist for this reason.
Next, we need to look at Daniel 8 to get a sense of where the kingdom is located.
The shaggy goat is the king of Greece (literally “Yavan” or modern Turkey), and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. (Dan. 8: 21-23 NIV, commentary and emphasis mine)
We can see at the end of this passage that a master of intrigue will arise. This is the same person of intrigue that we see in Dan. 11, he’s the Antichrist. We looked at Daniel 8 in detail in ARE WE ABOUT TO SEE IRAN FULFILL DANIEL 8? (please read this post for a more complete understanding of the coming war between Shia and Sunni Muslims foretold in Dan. 8) This passage in Daniel 8 clearly shows us that Turkey will conquer the region once controlled by Alexander the Great. The leader of this huge kingdom will be “broken off,” however, and the kingdom will be divided into four smaller kingdoms. The nation where the Antichrist comes to power is one of these four smaller kingdoms. We know from Micah 5:5 that the Antichrist will be known as “The Assyrian” so it is likely this region will be similar in size and scope to the ancient Seleucid Empire controlled by Antiochus Epiphanes (a foreshadow of the Antichrist) which included the region known as Assyria. This is entirely consistent with Daniel 11. The majority of the verses prior to 11:21 where the Antichrist first appears, discuss the Seleucid empire and call its series of kings, “the King of the North.”
Daniel 7 also gives us a view of the early days of the Antichrist:
The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones. (Dan. 7: 23-24 NIV)
This vision helps us further understand the nature of the eventual Antichrist kingdom. We see from this passage that originally it will have ten kings. Daniel Two pictures these kings as ten toes of the metallic statue. Revelation Seventeen also mentions these ten kings. Might the four sub-kingdoms that we saw in Dan. 8 be home to four of these ten kings? Most probably. We see that the Antichrist arises after these kings and is different from them. We also know from Dan. 7: 20 that the Antichrist will be “more imposing” than the other ten kings. The Hebrew word for “imposing” is rab which means “great, powerful or influential.” In the Septuagint Greek, the word translated “imposing” means “big” in a physical sense, either taller or heavier.
Because as we will soon see, the Antichrist goes to war with many of his neighboring kings, it is likely this group of ten kings is a loose affiliation or league not a single empire at first. Antichrist will attempt to consolidate it into a single empire and Revelation 17 tells us the kings will eventually give their power to the Beast.
THE EARLY CAREER OF THE ANTICHRIST
Returning to Daniel 11 we are given an incredible picture of what occurs to the Antichrist after he arises as a leader and immediately before the Tribulation.
Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. (Dan. 11: 22-23 NIV)
This passage offers us incredible insight. After coming to power in the new “Seleucid-like” kingdom, the Antichrist will defeat an overwhelming army led by an Israeli general (a prince of the covenant.) This is mind blowing. It appear that after this military victory, the Antichrist signs an agreement with the Israeli leader. Is this the famous Agreement with Sheol, the Covenant with the many? Is this agreement prompted by an Antichrist military victory? Does this victory and agreement then lead to the Antichrist’s rise to power? This passage seems to indicate that it does. Let’s see what Daniel 9 says about this Covenant.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Dan. 9: 27 NIV)
This famous passage marks the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel. From it we learn the Antichrist confirms a covenant (strengthens an existing treaty) for a seven year period, but in the middle of the seven years, he will break it. He makes this covenant deceitfully just as indicated in Daniel 11. We also notice that the Antichrist breaks the Covenant at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week by causing sacrifices to cease. If he breaks the Covenant by causing sacrifices to cease, allowing sacrifice must be a part of the original covenant.
Isaiah also refers to this covenant and gives us another picture:
You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement. when an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.” So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through.” The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. (Isa. 28: 15-19 NIV)
God tells Israel in advance that the only true foundation of hope is Jesus, the stone laid in Zion, the precious cornerstone. Unfortunately Israel will trust the Antichrist and learn the hard way. They will only come to faith in Christ after suffering through the Great Tribulation.
THE ANTICHRIST IN THE EARLY TRIBULATION
Daniel 11 gives us an amazing picture of what to expect during the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation. Verse 23 marks the beginning of the Tribulation with the signing of the Covenant and verses 24 -30 detail what happens during those years:
After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time. With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country. At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. (Dan. 11:23-30 NIV)
Let’s list his early Tribulation exploits in detail:
- He signs the Covenant with the Many
- He invades the richest parts of the “Kingdom” and distributes the wealth among his followers
- He plots the destruction of powerful nations
- He attacks the King of the South (Egypt) but withdraws
- He takes action against Israel but withdraws
- He attacks Egypt again but western forces oppose him and he withdraws again.
This is why Satan opposed the sharing of this knowledge. This is incredible detail, and will allow Christians with this information to closely follow the prophetic path of the Tribulation.
Many other sections of scripture also present these same events in other forms. The following table attempts to capture these other views of the prophecies:
|Daniel 11||Matthew 24||Luke 21||Revelation 6||Other Daniel|
|v. 23||v. 4-5||v. 8||vv. 1-2||9:27|
|v. 24a||vv. 6-7a||v. 9||vv. 3-4||7:8, 8:9|
|vv. 25-28a||v. 7a||v.10||8:9|
|v. 28b||vv. 7b?||vv. 11?||vv. 5-6?|
This is an amazing chart with multiple scripture references. The first thing you might notice is that like the vast majority of traditional commentators, I also assign Matt. 24, Luke 21 and Rev. 6 to the beginning of the Tribulation. I realize that my friend, Mark Davidson assigns these passages to the events in Daniel 8 that he calls the signposts. After much prayer and mediation, I think these passages best belong in the Tribulation.
Their are many reasons why I now support the horsemen riding during the Tribulation. One of these is the foreshadow of the Tribulation provided by the story of the conquest of Jericho in the book of Joshua. This conquest obviously has “end times’ picture” written all over it. It has 7 trumpets, walls falling down, a harlot, a conqueror named Yeshua, etc. One aspect of that end time application of this story is the circling of the city once a day for six days. To me, this is a picture of the first six seals. Each of these first six days of the conquest of Jericho seem to represent the first six years of the Tribulation with one seal occurring each year.
Let’s see how the all the pieces fit together.
THE COVENANT SIGNER (Dan. 11:23)
The Antichrist’s negotiation of treaty with Israel will be an enormous event world-wide and especially in the Islamic realm. It is likely he will utilize this event to promote himself, ride a “white horse” and present himself as a possible Mahdi (Islamic messiah.) Muslims fully expect the Mahdi to ride a white horse and attribute this passage in Revelation to the Mahdi:
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (Rev. 6:1-2 NIV)
The white horse signifies his attempt to claim to be Mahdi. The bow without arrows signifies his peace treaty with Israel. (it may even be a nuclear disarmament treaty: thus no “arrows.”) And as we shall see he will be bent on conquest of a major scale. The parallel passage in Matthew also describes the coming deceiver who will accompany the Antichrist:
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (Matt 24: 4-5 NIV)
To me, this passage seems to indicate that the Muslim Jesus, Isa, will come using “Jesus’ name” during this first year of the Tribulation as well.
THE WARRIOR (Dan. 11: 24-30a)
We saw that the Antichrist is a conqueror bent on conquest. After the fame he gains from signing the Covenant with Israel, it appears that most of the Muslim world do not immediately accept his rule as Mahdi and he attempts to gain this position by force.
When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. (Dan. 11: 24a NIV)
First, we observe that some passage of time occurs for the richest provinces to feel secure. To me, this supports the concept that this event (probably the second seal of Revelation) occurs in the second year of the Tribulation, consistent with the “Jericho” model. Also notice that term used for the areas he invades is “provinces” not nations or kingdoms. This implies to me that they are other regions close to the Antichrist’s nation. Daniel 8 supports the idea of an invasion close to the Antichrist’s home base.
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land (Israel). (Dan. 8:9 NIV, clarification and emphasis mine)
What these nations are is not clear. South and east of Assyria are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula. Certainly Iraq and Saudi Arabia are rich with oil. These may be the nations involved. Revelation states that this invasion will take “peace of mind” from the world:
When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. (Rev. 6: 3-4 NIV)
Why would this invasion take peace of mind from the earth? A Muslim leader conquering 2/3 of the Middle East and taking complete control of most of the oil fields would certainly upset the industrialized west and with good reason.
After this successful expansion of his realm, the Antichrist attempts to destroy fortresses (the USA and Europe?), attempts to invade Egypt twice and undertakes some sort of action against Israel. It appears none of these are completely successful. It appears that this second invasion attempt of Egypt is thwarted by western warships.
He will plot the overthrow of fortresses (USA and Europe?)—but only for a time. With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country. At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. (Dan. 11: 24b – 30a NIV, clarification and emphasis mine.)
KINGDOM AGAINST KINGDOM
Christopher Mantei of Voice of the Martyrs ministry organization has done a wonderful study that shows that Jesus’ use of the words kingdom against kingdom in the beginning of the birth pangs is a direct quote from Isaiah. It is incredibly likely that Jesus in the Olivet Discourse was making a specific reference to these quoted events by referencing this passage:
Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. “So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; and they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, city against city and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isa. 19: 1-2 NASB, emphasis mine)
This prophecy is obviously related to the return of Jesus (the Lord is riding on a swift cloud), and it also details a civil war in Egypt that occurs around that time. This civil war is initially neighbor-against-neighbor and city-against-city, but it expands into a war between kingdoms. The passage continues:
“Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, and a mighty king will rule over them,” declares the Lord God of hosts. (Isa. 19: 4 NASB,)
Most consider this cruel master who is a mighty king to be the Antichrist. Was Jesus referring to the wars between the Antichrist and Egypt we find in Daniel 11 when he said kingdom against kingdom? It is incredibly likely.
All of these passages represent an extreme amount of warfare in just a short one or two year period. The assumption that the Antichrist will be a man of peace is very misguided. Initially he appears a man of peace, but starting in year two of the Tribulation until the end there will be constant war.
I note with interest that the Antichrist is not successful in all his endeavors. In fact right before the midpoint of the Tribulation he “loses heart.” But something is about to happen that we will study in the next post (section V of the series) that changes everything.
FAMINE AND PESTILENCE (Luke 21: 11. Rev. 6: 5-6)
One aspect of this early Tribulation period that Daniel does not mention is economic collapse and pestilence. Because this is represented in the third seal of Revelation, it most likely occurs in the third year of the Tribulation (using the Jericho model.)
There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21: 11 NIV)
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Rev. 6: 5-6 NIV)
We know that the Tribulation period is not the wrath of God, but rather the wrath of man, the Antichrist, and Satan. (the wrath of God occurs after the seventh seal of Revelation.) These events, then, need to be man-caused. It can be easily understood that the Antichrist, who by this time is in command of most Middle East oil, could create economic chaos. In so doing, the world could experience famine and even disease. It is also possible that the Antichrist might use biologic weapons against the “strongest fortresses” (USA and Europe) to cause the pestilence.
How could an earthquake be man-caused, however? When is an earthquake not an earthquake? When it’s a nuclear explosion. The Greek word translated earthquake is seizmos which literally means “shaking.” It can, and frequently does mean earthquake, but it can mean any natural or man-made disaster. The storm Jesus calmed on the Sea of Galilee was a seizmos. A nuclear explosion is a great shaking, a disaster, and a fearful event.
At the end of the first half of the Tribulation, the Antichrist has been repulsed by ships from western powers and he has lost heart, but he is about to receive power that is not human. We will discuss this in the next post in the series.