For What?

Something meaningless?

Daniel 11:11–19

“And the king of the South shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the North, who shall muster a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into the hand of his enemy. When he has taken away the multitude, his heart will be lifted up; and he will cast down tens of thousands, but he will not prevail. For the king of the North will return and muster a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come at the end of some years with a great army and much equipment.

“Now in those times many shall rise up against the king of the South. Also, violent men of your people shall exalt themselves in fulfillment of the vision, but they shall fall. So the king of the North shall come and build a siege mound, and take a fortified city; and the forces of the South shall not withstand him. Even his choice troops shall have no strength to resist. But he who comes against him shall do according to his own will, and no one shall stand against him. He shall stand in the Glorious Land with destruction in his power.

“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 to destroy it; but she shall not stand with him, or be for him. After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.”

At the end of our last episode, the two sons (Seleucus III and Antiochus III) were preparing to fight against the king of the South. Antiochus III (AKA Antiochus the Great) eventually becomes the king but loses a big battle to the next in the Ptolemy line (Ptolemy IV Philopator, now king of the South).

But Antiochus raises an even bigger army and the tide turns yet again. Israel (the Glorious Land) is now in his power. He thinks he can cement his control by giving his daughter, Cleopatra (not that Cleopatra) in marriage to Ptolemy V Epiphanes, the next inline in Egypt.

No such luck. Cleopatra sides with her husband and Antiochus is repelled. After a few more military failures, Antiochus eventually shall stumble and fall, and not be found. The takeaway from all this is to notice how one king will cast down tens of thousands, but then that only lasts for a little while. Either the winning king will lose the next battle, or his heir will.

Tens of thousands of people give their lives and for what?

This passage should open the reader’s eyes. One of the lessons we see over and over in scripture is that many things aren’t as important as we think they are. Politics, whether of kings or of legislatures, sounds like the most important thing in the world. Not so. The NIV translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2 says it best.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.