Daniel 11:20–28 (ESV)
“Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle. In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people. Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time. And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him. Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed. And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.
This passage moves to something darker and creepier. It speaks of a contemptible person who will come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
This is about a guy who is so vile that he is widely considered a foreshadow of the antichrist—Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He’s also the little horn in chapter 8. His victories are strange, seemingly supernatural, and definitely evil. Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant. Yikes. Who is the prince of the covenant?
There is debate over whether this is the high priest at the time (Onias) or Judas Maccabeus, but in any case, Antiochus is especially wicked. He even defeats the king of the South (Ptolemy VI), who has an exceedingly great and mighty army, by treachery. He [the king of the South] shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him.
For what it’s worth, the king of the South isn’t much better. And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. But Antiochus wins the prize as the worst because his heart shall be set against the holy covenant.
Kings are often egomaniacs who cause a lot of death, but this guy doesn’t just want power; he hates God.
Once again, we see the fingerprints of spiritual warfare. Antiochus isn’t special; he’s a stooge for someone special. Still, his focus on opposing God is what identifies him as something more than just a common tyrant.
Antiochus couldn’t do all this by himself.
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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.