Saturday, February 28, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Abominations of Antiochus Epiphanes

"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." (Daniel 11:29-31)

When Antiochus proclaimed himself as guardian of Egypt's king, the people of Alexandria responded by making Ptolemy VIII king. Antiochus intended for his nephew, Ptolemy Philometor, to aid him in bringing Alexandria into subjection; but instead, the two brothers were reconciled, and they agreed to rule Egypt jointly. This enraged Antiochus; and so, in 168 BC, he marched against Egypt. He sent a fleet against Cyprus which violated the terms of his treaty with Rome, an action which would prove to be very foolish. Marching into Egypt, he once again began to conquer key cities such as Memphis. All seemed to be working in his favor; however, as the text says, this battle would end differently than the previous battles.

In other portions of Scripture, Chittim refers to the island of Cyprus; however, in this passage, it clearly refers to Rome. Realizing their impending doom, the Ptolemaic brothers appealed to Rome for help against Antiochus. Angered by Antiochus' breech of the Treaty of Apamea and desiring the expansion of the Roman Republic, the Romans responded by sending a fleet of ships to oppose the Syrian king. As Antiochus was preparing to march on Alexandria, he was met by Gaius Popilius Laenas, a man who had been his close friend during his stay at Rome. Upon their meeting, Antiochus held out his hand to his old Roman companion. Gaius responded by declaring to Antiochus that Rome demanded his immediate withdrawal from Egypt. Antiochus replied that he would have to consult with his advisers as to the most expedient course of action. Upon this reply, Gaius drew a line in the sand around Antiochus and informed him that Rome required the compliance of Antiochus before he stepped out of the circle. Gaius' action implied war between Syria and Rome should Antiochus not, then and there, agree to leave. Intimidated by Rome's impending power, the Syrian king agreed to withdraw.

The Hebrew word translated grieved means to be humbled or made to cower. Antiochus was brought low by the power of the Roman fleet. This event touched him at a man's most sensitive point - his pride. He was furious. He could do nothing to vent his frustration and anger on Egypt; however, the small, helpless land of Judah (a land made helpless by its departure from God) served nicely to bear his indignation. Just as Satan will be angered by his banishment from heaven and will seek to annihilate the Jews (Revelation 12:7-12), Antiochus set about to destroy all and any part of God's holy covenant.

Antiochus sent an army against Jerusalem. They entered under the guise of peace; however, once inside the city, they immediately set about butchering its inhabitants. The temple was again plundered, and the soldiers defiled it in the most abominable ways imaginable. Pigs were sacrificed on the brazen altar, and an image of the Olympian god Zeus was erected upon it. This is the "abomination that maketh desolate" spoken of in the text. Some historians believe that the image of this god represented the appearance of Antiochus. Regardless, his actions parallel those of the antichrist when he shall "[sit] in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (II Thessalonians 2:4)." Antiochus also profaned the Holy of Holies, an action which God had not permitted Ptolemy Philopator to perform. In this may be seen God's absolute control. Whatever abominations Antiochus committed, he did not commit them outside of God's sovereign control. The Lord used this vile man to punish the disbelief and resultant rebellion of His people.

Antiochus proceeded with the intense persecutions by completely outlawing the Mosaic Law. Apostate Jews, referred to in the text as "them that forsake the holy covenant," aided him in his cause. Observance of the Sabbath was forbidden, and circumcision was banned along with every other ordinance and commandment of God's Law. Scripture was outlawed, collected and burned. Pigs were to be offered on all the altars of the land and their flesh eaten by every Jew. All people in the kingdom were to be of one mind and heart, a people bent on the worship of the Greek gods and Antiochus Epiphanes who had declared himself to be deity. Coins were minted with the inscription "Theos Epiphanes" which means "God Manifest." One may quickly see why this man is referred to as the Old Testament type of the antichrist. Many began to call him Antiochus Epimanes (Mad One), a word play on his title Epiphanes.

North of the temple, a fort was constructed, and all the plunder and spoils of the city were stored there. A group of apostate Jews were brought in to occupy the fortress. Such an edifice and its inhabitants overshadowing the once holy temple served as a constant reminder of the unbearable oppression.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Appearance of Antiochus Epiphanes (Part III)

"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." (Daniel 11:27-28)

Unable to conquer Alexandria, Antiochus took his nephew (Ptolemy Philometor) and agreed to make him ruler over Egypt while he assumed the position of guardian; however, the hearts of both kings were filled with deceit as they "[spoke] lies at one table." Antiochus had no intention of permanently entrusting Egypt to his nephew. He was likely using him to remove the opposition of Ptolemy VIII who had declared himself ruler from Alexandria and who had also managed to repel the forces of Antiochus. Also, Ptolemy Philometor did not remain under the guardianship of his uncle. Once Antiochus withdrew from Egypt at the end of 169 BC, Ptolemy VI was reconciled to his brother Ptolemy VIII, and both brothers eventually appealed to Rome for help against Antiochus.

So, these two supplanters exchanged lies; however, as the text says, "it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed." God knows the hearts of all men, and He used the actions of these godless individuals to accomplish His greater will.

While busied with his conquests in Egypt, Antiochus received news that outraged him. Back in Judah, a rumor had spread to the affect that Antiochus had been killed. Throughout the land, the Jews were celebrating his death; and to make matters worse, Jason had come out of exile and driven Menelaus from the high priesthood. Antiochus saw this action as a direct violation of his authority; therefore, he intended to teach the Jews a lesson. His heart was against God, His holy covenant and all for which the Jews and their religion stood. He fell upon the city and plundered the temple of its treasure. Forty thousand Jews were killed and forty thousand more were sold into slavery.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Two Books Published

Just a brief note:
The Bible Study on Romans was published yesterday.
Both Malachi and Romans are available on and
These books are taken from this blog and then further edited.
They include a comprehensive outline and study questions at the back.

The next study on the agenda will be Daniel - expected Fall of 2015.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Appearance of Antiochus Epiphanes (Part II)

"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." (Daniel 11:22-26)

At this point in history, Ptolemy VI Philometor, the nephew of Antiochus Epiphanes, was on the throne in Egypt. The conflicts that occurred between him and his uncle are known in history as The Sixth Syrian War. This war consisted of a series of battles lasting from 170 to 168 BC when Rome finally intervened and expelled the Syrian presence from Egypt. The particulars of these conflicts are difficult to confirm; therefore, comment on the details of the verses describing the war is not always possible. However, the overall picture of what came to pass between Egypt, Syria and Palestine may be presented with confidence; consequently, the big-picture events will be the focus of the discussion.

By this time, Antiochus was firmly established upon the Syrian throne. He was a wealthy king who still controlled Coele-Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine. To the south, daily life in the little land of Judah was heavily influenced by the man who held the office of high priest, an office which had become far more political than sacred. Onias the high priest was not favored by Antiochus; therefore, he was soon deposed and replaced by Jason who offered a significant bribe to the king. Jason was thoroughly Hellenistic in his beliefs. He cared nothing for true piety. His loyalties and passions were toward the Greek way of life with all of its paganism. During his time in office, he did what he could to convert Jerusalem over to the Greek way of thinking. This included the construction of a gymnasium for the corruption of the youth, an action which horrified the pious Jews of the region. After a time, Menelaus (another liberal Jew) offered even more money to Antiochus for the position of high priest. Upon this event, Jason fled the city and took up temporary refuge east of the Dead Sea.

In 170 BC, the two regents of Ptolemy Philometor, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, declared war on Antiochus. In that same year, the brother of Ptolemy Philometor, Ptolemy VIII, was declared co-ruler along with Cleopatra II, Philometor's wife and the sister of both brothers.

The following year Antiochus mobilized his armies against Egypt. The Syrians quickly gained the upper hand as the Egyptian forces were consistently defeated and pushed back. The key Egyptian city of Pelusium was taken as well as other important fortresses such as Memphis. In a very short time, Antiochus gained control of Lower (Pelusium) and Upper Egypt (Memphis). Recognizing the dilemma, Eulaeus and Lenaeus were removed and replaced by two new regents, Comanus and Cineas. The text says that the king of the south (Ptolemy Philometor) was brought to ruin by those that ate at his table. This could mean that Eulaeus and Lenaeus had intelligence with Antiochus, or it may be referring to the fact that they convinced Ptolemy VI to become involved in a war that cost him greatly.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Appearance of Antiochus Epiphanes

"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." (Daniel 11:21)

As previously stated, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus III, was taken hostage in 188 BC as a result of the Treaty of Apamea. After a time, Antiochus' brother, Seleucus Philopator, sent his own son Demetrius to Rome in exchange for Antiochus.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes is an Old Testament type of the antichrist. His spirit and actions parallel those of the future antichrist spoken of in the book of Revelation. As the text says, he was indeed a vile person. Lying was to him a way of life. He enjoyed the most debase pleasures imaginable, and he was of a violent temper. Historians agree that he was eccentric, yet not without cunning. He had knowledge of the times, and he knew how to manipulate people.

While Antiochus was traveling back to Syria, he received news that his brother had been murdered by Heliodorus who had proceeded to take the throne. Just how the friendship came about is not known; however, King Eumenes of Pergamum befriended Antiochus and provided him with the money and troops necessary to reclaim the Syrian throne. Perhaps the king of Pergamum considered Antiochus to be a valuable ally in the east.

Upon his return to Syria in 175 BC, Antiochus deposed Heliodorus and seized the throne for himself. Not being a son of Seleucus, the "honor of the kingdom" was not Antiochus' but Demetrius'. However, he was careful to show a favorable attitude toward his subjects at first lest a rebellion break out before he was firmly established as king over Syria.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part X)

"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." (Daniel 11:20)

Seleucus Philopator, son of Antiochus III, ascended the throne after the death of his father in 187 BC. Unlike his father, Seleucus Philopator's reign did not consist of military campaigns. He spent his twelve years in power trying to meet the heavy Roman taxation. He eventually sent his tax collector, Heliodorus, to Jerusalem for the purpose of plundering the temple treasury. The "glory of the kingdom" spoken of in the text is likely referring to Jerusalem and its temple. According to II Maccabees 3:21-28, Heliodorus was stopped by supernatural powers before he could accomplish his mission.

In 175 BC, Seleucus Philopator was assassinated by Heliodorus. Thus, he passed from the scene of world history, as the text says, "neither in anger, nor in battle."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part IX)

"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." (Daniel 11:18-19)

After the Romans defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War, he eventually found refuge in the Seleucid court of Antiochus. As an outstanding military strategist who had a score to settle with Rome, he, along with the Aetolian League, encouraged Antiochus III to invade Greece and confront the Roman powers of the west. Antiochus' decision to heed their advice and satisfy his own lust for power proved to be his ruin. Fitted with a large navy, he set out to conquer the islands and coasts of Asia Minor and Greece. The Romans met him at Lysimachia where they attempted to put an end to his endeavors through the channel of diplomacy. Antiochus would not listen to reason but instead chose to continue his push west. The Roman consul Manius Acilius Glabrio met him at Thermopylae. Antiochus' army was defeated, and he was forced to withdraw from Greece.

The fatal blow for Antiochus came in 190 BC when the Roman consul Scipio defeated the Seleucid army at the battle of Magnesia. The resultant Treaty of Apamea laid a heavy tax upon Antiochus for war expenses. Over the next twelve years, he was to pay Rome 15,000 talents. Also, his naval force was severely reduced, his war elephants destroyed, and he was forced to give hostages including his own son Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Many of the Seleucid holdings in the west were lost, and Antiochus was forced to return home utterly humiliated. In an effort to pay the burdensome tax set upon him, he made a practice of looting the temples of his kingdom provinces. In 187 BC, while pillaging the temple of Bel at Elymais, Persia, the Seleucid monarch was murdered. Just as God had foretold hundreds of years prior, the king stumbled and fell and was found no more.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part VIII)

"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." (Daniel 11:17)

As would be expected, Antiochus then set about to take over the entire Ptolemaic kingdom. He began attacking numerous cities in Asia Minor which were under Egyptian control; however, the Egyptians appealed to the upcoming power of Rome for help. Recognizing the potential for Antiochus to become a real threat to Roman interests in the west, Rome stepped in to help. Antiochus backed off, not yet ready for such a confrontation. As the text indicates, he resorted to the diplomacy of marriage. He suggested that his own daughter Cleopatra be given to the young Ptolemy Epiphanes. Both were mere children when they were given in wedlock at the city of Raphia sometime near 193 BC. Antiochus' plan was to gain a foothold on Egypt through the manipulation of his daughter; however, this plan failed miserably. The young "daughter of women" whom he sought to corrupt took the side of her husband and encouraged the Romans to drive back her father. History clearly bears witness to the fact that she did not "stand on his side" neither was she "for him."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part VII)

"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." (Daniel 11:14-16)

During Antiochus' expansion of his kingdom, Ptolemy Philopator and his wife passed from the Egyptian scene. Their son, Ptolemy V Epiphanes, was a mere five years old when he was thrust into the political turmoil of his country. Unrest brewed everywhere. The chief advisers of Ptolemy Philopator, Agathocles and Sosibius, had the mother of Ptolemy Epiphanes murdered. They in turn were murdered by another official who wished to secure power for himself. In every province, a spirit of unrest and violence stirred among the Egyptians.

The term "the robbers of thy people" may also be translated "the sons of the violent of thy people." Some believe that this term refers to the apostate Jews who cast in their lot with Antiochus III in an effort to gain independence from Egypt. Whoever they were, their attempts to form an alliance with hell failed. As the Jews would soon learn, Syria was a much more dangerous foe than Egypt. The text says that the sons of the violent among the Jews would not be profited by their alliances with Antiochus; they would "fall."

Antiochus took advantage of Egypt's weakness and quickly set about recovering Coele-Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine. It seems that Antiochus made a pact with Phillip V of Macedon to divide the Ptolemies' holdings which were outside of Egypt. Phillip would seize western Asia Minor while Antiochus took southern Syria, Lycia, Cilicia and the island of Cyprus. Antiochus steadily pushed back the Egyptian forces until Seleucid domination of Palestine was confirmed at the Battle Panium in 198 BC. In this decisive battle, Scopas, the Egyptian general, was defeated by the armies of Antiochus and was forced to retreat into the city of Sidon. The term "the most fenced cities" literally means "the city of fortifications." This term is likely referring to the city of Sidon where Scopas was eventually forced to surrender.

As the text says, none were able to stand before the armies of the king of the north. The "glorious land" is in reference to Israel. The word glorious is the same word translated pleasant in Daniel 8:9. Antiochus used the small land of Israel as a vantage point from which to attack the holdings of Egypt. As one can imagine, the armies of Antiochus would have required great provisions and so, by them, the land would be "consumed" as the text bears witness. The immoral and violent nature of these men would also serve to wreak havoc upon the land of Israel. For those who saw an advantage in allying themselves with Syria against Egypt, the folly of such a choice would soon have manifested itself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part VI)

"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." (Daniel 11:13)

After returning home to Syria from his defeat at Raphia, Antiochus wasted no time in strengthening his kingdom. Having put down a rebellion in Asia Minor, he then moved north and defeated Xerxes of Armenia. He also made known his presence in Parthia where he subjugated the Parthian king Arsaces II. He then continued his campaigns into Bactria and India and eventually led his troops down the Persian gulf, invading the Arabian coast.

After many years of expanding his holdings and gathering "much riches," Antiochus III was ready to "set forth a multitude greater than the former" and to renew hostilities with the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part V)

"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." (Daniel 11:11-12)

By this time, Ptolemy Euergetes has been replaced by his son Ptolemy IV Philopator. He was a man of very weak character, and he spent his reign being manipulated by his political advisers. Although initially he made little effort to stop the advancement of Antiochus III, Ptolemy Philopator eventually decided that it was time to face the approaching Seleucid king. History would seem to indicate that this decision was instigated by the wishes of his ministers. Regardless, Ptolemy marched forth with his armies and came against Antiochus with "choler." In 217 BC, the opposing sides clashed at Raphia, a fortress on the border of Egypt. To the surprise of many, the multitude of Antiochus' forces were "given into [the] hand" of the king of the south.

Lifted up by his victories, Ptolemy Philopator marched into Israel with the intention of persecuting the Jews and defiling the holy place of the temple. Precisely what happened to him cannot be entirely confirmed; however, history would seem to indicate that he was miraculously stopped from entering the holy of holies, apparently being brought to his knees by supernatural powers. Humiliated and outraged, Ptolemy returned to Egypt and began a large scale persecution of the Jews who lived there. As the text says, "he...cast down many ten thousands." However, all was to no avail. After his victory at the Battle of Raphia, he made peace with Antiochus and failed to disarm the powers of Syria when the opportunity presented itself. Also, his foolish attempts to defile the temple and his intense persecution of the Jews served only to weaken the political situation of his empire. The text indicates the fruitless nature of his victory by saying, "he shall not be strengthened by it." Ptolemy Philopator died in 205 BC, and he was succeeded by his son Ptolemy V Epiphanes.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part IV)

"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." (Daniel 11:9-10)

Having taught the Syrian forces a lesson, Ptolemy Euergetes returned into Egypt. Seleucus II passed from the scene in 226 BC, and his son Seleucus III took the throne while his brother Antiochus III served under him as the governor of Babylonia. An uprising to the west beyond the Taurus Mountains called for his immediate attention. He was not successful however. After a short reign of only three years, he was poisoned. His brother Antiochus III, also known as Antiochus the Great, then reigned alone. Just as his brother had gathered a force of men to deal with uprisings in the west, he too was busied during the early part of his reign with fighting rebellion. Trouble in the east temporarily diverted his attention from the Egyptian occupation of Syria. He was forced to assemble his armies and deal with these various issues of internal turmoil. As the text says, both brothers assembled "great forces" during their reigns; however, after the word forces, the verbs change to the third person singular. This change in person of the language identifies the fact that Seleucus III died while his brother Antiochus continued to reign.

After dealing with the internal rebellions of his own empire, Antiochus turned his attention toward the Egyptian garrisons which occupied his land. One by one the fortresses of Phoenicia and Palestine fell into his control. As the passage says, he overflowed and passed through the opposing Egyptian garrisons, conquering cities as far south as Gaza.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part III)

"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." (Daniel 11:7-8)

Ptolemy Euergetes was the brother of Berenice. Upon hearing of his sister's murder, he launched an invasion against the Seleucid empire. Seleucus II, a son of Laodice, ascended the throne in Syria after the murder of Berenice. Unable to defeat the opposing Egyptian forces, he lost most of his empire and wealth to Ptolemy. The fortress of Seleucia was taken, and the false gods of the Seleucid rulers were carried back to Egypt along with considerable amounts of gold.

The text says that the king of the south would continue longer than the king of the north. This was literally fulfilled. Ptolemy Euergetes reigned four years longer (246-222) than did Seleucus II (246-226).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria (Part II)

"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." (Daniel 11:6)

Between verses five and six, some years have passed, and much blood has been shed in battles between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms. The king of the south is now Ptolemy Philadelphus, and the king of the north is Antiochus II. In an effort to make peace, Ptolemy Philadelphus gave Antiochus II his daughter Berenice to wife; however, Antiochus had to consent to divorce his current wife Laodice and disinherit her two sons. This he did; however, after the passing of Ptolemy Philadelphus, Antiochus cast Berenice aside and took back Laodice.

In an effort to secure the throne for her sons, Laodice poisoned Antiochus and had Berenice killed along with her child and all of her attendants. Philadelphus' daughter did not "retain the power of the arm," and the child she bore Antiochus would never stand as an "arm" for his father. All were given up, including those "that brought her."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: The Antagonism between Egypt and Syria

"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." (Daniel 11:5)

The land of Israel is always at the center of God's prophetic interest; therefore, the remaining prophecies deal with events that involve the southern kingdom of Egypt and the northern kingdom of Syria. The fate of the kingdoms of Cassander and Lysimachus are left out of the narrative.

Antigonis was not content to confine his empire to Mesopotamia. His ambitions included the addition of the other three kingdoms. In an effort to thwart his plans, Lysimachus, Cassander and Ptolemy allied themselves against Antigonis and eventually defeated him at the battle of Ipsus in 301 BC.

Seleucus was one of Ptolemy's captains who helped defeat Antigonis. After Antigonis' death, Seleucus inherited the kingdom of Antigonis and reigned from India to the Mediterranean Sea independent of his superior Ptolemy. As the text says, the king of the south (Ptolemy) was strong, but one of his princes (captains) was stronger. The kingdom of Seleucus was enormous, and it would eventually become the enemy of Egypt.

Thus, the stage is set. The Ptolemaic dynasty became the breeding grounds for the kings of the south, and the Seleucid Empire would produce the opposing kings of the north. In between these feuding nations lay the small land of Israel which would find itself initially under the control of the "king of the south."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Greece's Future Conquest: Alexander and the Four Generals

"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." (Daniel 11:3-4)

This mighty king is Alexander the Greek. In revenge of Persia's attack on Greece, Alexander led his armies east. One by one the cities and provinces fell under his control until, in 333 BC, Persia's downfall was sealed at the Battle of Issus. After his victory over the Persian's, he moved south into Egypt where he was hailed as a deliverer and crowned Pharaoh of Egypt. His conquests then turned toward the east leading him as far as India. At this point, he had conquered more territory than any prior world ruler, yet he died in his early thirties approximately ten years after the commencement of his conquests. On his deathbed, he was asked who should inherit his vast empire. He simply replied, "The strongest." This led to a power struggle among his officials and the consequent murder of his remaining posterity. Four of Alexander's generals succeeded in seizing various portions of the kingdom. Antigonis took control of Anatolia, Syria and Mesopotamia. As the following verses will declare, he was eventually overcome by Seleucus. Ptolemy seized Egypt, Palestine and Phoenicia. Cassander became the ruler of Macedonia, and Lysimachus inherited Thrace (the region east of Macedonia). Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled. Alexander's empire was divided "toward the four winds of heaven."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Persia's Present Course

"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." (Daniel 11:1-2)

The accuracy of the detailed accounts presented in chapter eleven have plagued the minds of many liberals. The God-inspired precision of these prophecies have led numerous unbelievers to discredit the book of Daniel. However, God's ability to describe with great detail events which were hundreds of years into the future should drive the reader to believe in the authority of Scripture.

The first year of Darius the Mede is the same year in which Babylon was taken (539 BC). This messenger of God was given the task of aiding and confirming Darius as a ruler under Cyrus the Persian. The devil and his workers do have great power over the world's kingdoms; however, God has appointed boundaries for this power.

The messenger declared that four Persian kings were coming. The first king was Cambyses. He is the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4:6. Smerdis, the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7-23, was the second; and the third was Darius I who is mentioned in Ezra 4:24.

The fourth king was Xerxes I. He is the Ahasuerus seen in the book of Esther. A glimpse of his riches may be caught by reading Esther 1:1-22. The book of Esther also puts his wicked character on display. He was sensual and lustful. Without second thought, he was willing to kill off an entire people group at the bidding of Haman. Under his influence, Persia and its subordinate provinces were convinced to march against Greece. Although some disagreement exists as to the actual number of troops, it is safe to say that he amassed at least one million men as he "[stirred] up all against the realm of Grecia."

Other Persian kings reigned after Xerxes I; however, when they came onto the scene of world history, the fate of Persia had been sealed. Xerxes I was the last king to represent the great power of Persia. Those who came after him were caught in the downward spiral of the Persian empire which would culminate in its final defeat by Alexander the Great. For this reason, the prophetic narrative pays them no mind.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The Messenger's Ministry (Part IV)

"Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince." (Daniel 10:20-21)

Whoever this messenger was, his fight with the satanic powers of Persia was not finished, and when he had finished his battles with the kingdom of Persia, the demonic forces behind the Greek empire would be barking at the door. However, God knows the end from the beginning. The Scriptures of truth have been forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89), and nothing can thwart the ultimate plan of God.

The messenger assures Daniel that Michael will provide the needed assistance for the battles which lay ahead. The angel called Michael your prince. Persia had its dark prince, and Greece had its dark prince; however, God has appointed Michael to be the special protector-prince of Israel. Persia has come and gone. Greece has risen and fallen, but Israel continues. In the days of Daniel, heavy seas awaited the Jewish people, and their future is to be fraught with many more trials and perils; however, God has appointed their protectors. God has promised their ultimate redemption, and He has spoken these unalterable words:

Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:3-4)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The Messenger's Ministry (Part III)

"Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me." (Daniel 10:18-19)

The Lord is faithful to give His people the strength that is needed for the required service. Doubtless, such an experience served not only to humble Daniel but also to encourage him in God's faithfulness and compassion.

Human nature does not naturally seek to meet the needs of the weak and helpless; however, God's ways are not man's ways. Through sin, every person has offended God, yet He has, does and will continue to reach out to man, providing him with that which is necessary for his spiritual strength and welfare. God was not obligated to help Daniel or any other man, but He did, because "God is love (I John 4:8)."

After receiving the needed strength, Daniel wisely said, "Let my lord speak." A readiness to be silent and listen should characterize every believer. The tongue is always ready to speak what is in the heart; however, "in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19)."   

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The Messenger's Ministry (Part II)

"And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me." (Daniel 10:15-17)

Man is so frail! Without divine aid imparted through the agency of God's messengers, Daniel was completely helpless. Isaiah had a similar experience. After seeing the holy God on His throne, Isaiah cried, "...Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips...(Isaiah 6:5)." After recognizing his insufficiency and inability to accomplish God's work on his own, the Lord sent an angel to help the frail prophet. "Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged (Isaiah 6:6-7)."

The flesh is easily deceived. It does not take much for a person to believe that he is stronger than he is; however, the smallest of battles is often sufficient to reveal how weak the mortal man is. Day by day the believer desperately needs the help of God.   

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The Messenger's Ministry

"And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling." (Daniel 10:10-11)

It is generally agreed that the one who is now speaking with Daniel is not the Lord but one of His angels. It may be Gabriel; however, the text does not specify. Whoever he is, the messenger comforts Daniel by reassuring him that he is a man who is highly valued. The Lord did not come to destroy Daniel. He came so that His presence might give the utmost credence to the words which the messenger is about to speak to Daniel.

"Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days." (Daniel 10:12-14)

The angel commands Daniel not to fear. God does not want His people to remain in a "spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7)." If Daniel was going to understand and apply what he was about to hear, he must be at peace.

Daniel's words were heard because he humbled himself before God and made spiritual things a priority in his life. The word for chastened means humbled. Daniel was not practicing self-abuse; he was humbling himself and seeking God in a special way. There are seasons in life when every Christian needs to seek the Lord's face in a special way. The flesh is always tempted to put off spiritual pursuits. Extra study of the Scriptures and special times of meditation are often wearisome, yet they are very necessary. Daniel did not spend every day of his life in this condition, but he did know when such attitudes and actions were appropriate. The believer must be careful not to push aside the Spirit's leading when He encourages His children to give themselves to extra study, prayer, meditation and fasting.

The reason for the delay in answering Daniel's prayer is now revealed. The prince of Persia withstood the messenger. This "prince" is likely not a man but a devil. The devil and his demons use men for the purposes of accomplishing their desires; however, the men are not the main motivating and empowering force. The very first day in which Daniel began to seek God through his fasting the messenger was sent; however, satanic forces withstood him. When the believer experiences delays in having his prayers answered, he must remember how complex and dangerous is the spiritual warfare which is constantly raging. The fact that this messenger was halted by the opposing forces of darkness is one reason for believing that he is not the same Person seen in the beginning of Daniel's vision. Christ could subject Himself to such battles if He chose to do so; however, such a context seems to compliment the belief that this messenger is not divine.

When Daniel received this prophecy, the Jews who had returned to Judah for the purpose of rebuilding the temple were experiencing great opposition. Ezra 4:4-5 makes this clear. "Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia."

The "prince of Persia" was definitely hard at work in an attempt to thwart the plans of God through the human "kings of Persia;" however, the angel declares that Michael came to his aid. Michael's name means Who is like God? Throughout Scripture, he is seen as an angel who's primary purpose is that of warfare (Jude 1:9, Revelation 12:7).

While Daniel fasted and prayed and perhaps pondered the reason for God's apparent lack of an answer, the angels battled the powers of darkness in behalf of Israel until, finally, at the end of three whole weeks, Daniel received the answer for which he was looking.

The messenger makes his purpose in coming to Daniel very clear. He came so that Daniel might understand more fully what the previously mentioned four hundred and ninety years would entail.

The last part of the verse is important to keep in mind. The messenger says, "for yet the vision is for many days." The remaining verses of the book deal with events which occurred hundreds of years after Daniel lived, and they deal with events which have been reserved for the future days of the Great Tribulation and the subsequent advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The LORD'S Majesty (Part III)

"And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground." (Daniel 10:7-9)

This amazing sight completely zapped Daniel of his strength. His companions, who were likely his servants, did not actually see the Lord, yet the mere reality of His presence struck such a fear into their hearts that they hid themselves. As long as this earth is in existence, there will be those who deny God, yet even the slightest visitation is more than sufficient to strike absolute terror into any man's heart.

In the presence of God's holiness, Daniel found himself to be completely insufficient. His very comeliness was nothing better than corruption. Isaiah 64:6 says that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." According to Psalm 39:5, "every man at his best state is altogether vanity." Even Daniel, a man greatly beloved, was not sufficient, in and of himself, to stand in God's presence. He needed the righteousness of God imparted to him; the same holds true for every man.

In modern worship, "coming into the presence of God" is often characterized by dancing, emotionalism, ungodly music and fleshly activities of all kinds which are designed to compliment man's sensual nature; however, very little is characterized by the fear of God. When the Lord spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, Job fell prostrate at God's feet (Job 42:1-6). When Isaiah caught a glimpse of the Lord's glory, his reaction was very similar (Isaiah 6:1-5). Upon seeing the chariot-throne of God, Ezekiel said, "...I fell upon my face...(Ezekiel 1:28)." When the resurrected Lord appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul's humbled posture reflected his fear of Christ's holiness (Acts 9:3-4), and finally, when John caught a glimpse of Christ's glory, he echoed the words of Ezekiel by saying, "...I fell at his feet as dead (Revelation 1:16)." True worship never makes a man feel good about himself. True worship shows a man how wicked he is and how much he needs a holy God.

The text does not reveal what the Lord said; it says only that He spoke. Not only did His words overcome Daniel, but they also sent him into a deep sleep. Could they have been words of comfort? No one knows; however, God's words can sooth and calm the heart. He is all that is holy, yet He is not interested in man's destruction; His heart is toward man's restoration. If it were not, He would not have masked such glory and "took upon Him the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7)" for the purposes of accomplishing man's redemption. His words did not condemn and kill Daniel, they soothed him and put him into a deep sleep.

The believer must always bear in mind that even though God is fearfully holy, He is also amazingly merciful and loving. Mercy and love are spurred on by His holiness. When a Christian loses his heart for people and begins viewing himself as too holy for others, he has fallen into the trap of self-righteousness and made himself a smoke in the nostrils of God (Isaiah 65:5).