Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 25
Chapter 25: The Future Revealed to Daniel ~ Daniel 11:2-27
Q1 – How do you think you would feel if presented with so much information concerning the future? Is it any wonder Daniel needed help to speak and function?
A1 – As was mentioned in Question 2 of Chapter 24, with so many years of future events condensed into such a short narrative, Daniel probably felt totally overwhelmed with by the sheer amount of information. Even reading this vision today, it presents the reader with a deluge of information. It’s kind of like going to take a shower and instead you realize you stepped into Niagara Falls.
Also, consider that it’s one thing for us today to look back in time. From our vantage point, we can align various bits of the prophecy with certain happenings, or at least we can speculate about their alignment. That’s because when we look back in time, we already know some of the names and events. But it’s another thing entirely to look forward into the future. So much would be unfamiliar, such as leaders who have yet to be born and countries that won’t come into existence for possibly centuries. Wars will be fought by means that we can’t even imagine. And who can even fathom what technologies will be developed in the coming centuries or the discoveries that will be made? (Consider how difficult it can be to explain today’s technology to someone who’s elderly and multiply that confusion many times over!)
Remember, too, that by this point in his life, Daniel has been privy to several divine revelations. This last one seems to contain much more information and be even more specific. The previous revelations overloaded him, and now he’s being shown more and more and more on top of everything else. So it’s really no wonder that this last vision affected him as it did.
Q2 – What recurring theme(s) do you notice in this revelation?
A2 – While it’s hard to keep up with the various players, you notice how the struggle for political power continues, back and forth, throughout this time period. There doesn’t seem to be much peace, except for the time in Daniel 11:8 where it states the king of the south will return back to Egypt and for some years will leave the king of the north alone. However, this king of the south took back with him the idols and priceless articles of gold and silver, so he already had all their good stuff.
Along with the constant political struggles, it’s worth noting that, try as they may, no one manages to stay in power for a prolonged period of time. To illustrate, here are a few snippets from the reading for this lesson (Daniel 11:2-27, NLT):
- v. 4 – “But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king’s descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others.”
- v. 5 – “… but one of his own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength.”
- v. 12 – “After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will execute many thousands of his enemies. But his success will be short lived.”
- v. 18-19 – “After this, he will turn his attention to the coastland and conquer many cities. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and cause him to retreat in shame. He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall and be seen no more.”
- v. 20 – “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. But after a very brief reign, he will die, though not from anger or in battle.”
- v. 25-26 – … “The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for there will be plots against him. His own household will cause his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed.”
- v. 27 – “Seeking nothing but each other’s harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time.”
- While these rulers may snatch kingdoms away and seize power with great bravado, most of them go out, not in a blaze of glory, but rather with a whimper.
Q3 – Pick verses from this chapter’s reading that you find particularly interesting or intriguing and research them in a Bible commentary. You can find numerous commentaries at www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries. (This would be a good site to bookmark for future reference.) Scroll down to the Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, which has served as a classic through the centuries. (Then scroll down to Daniel 10, 11 and 12.)
What did you learn of interest about the verses you picked?
A3 – It will be interesting to see what everyone picked, and also to learn why they picked what they did. Another commentary available at the above site that may be helpful is John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible. Consulting several can help you gain a broader understanding.
From this lesson’s reading, the ruler discussed in Daniel 11:21-24 (NLT) seemed particularly interesting:
““The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue. Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince. With deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. He will become strong despite having only a handful of followers. Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land. Then he will distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich—something his predecessors had never done. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while.”
This cunningly evil ruler usurped authority, but not by physical force. Instead, he used “flattery and intrigue.” Flattery usually means pandering to someone using insincere praise, but how did he use intrigue? By looking through other Bible versions, you find various interpretations of the word, such as fraud, deception, deceit, and false promises. Both the Matthew Henry and John Gill commentaries make the case that this person was Antiochus Epiphanes, someone who has been mentioned before in our studies for his severe persecution of Jews and the burning of swine on the alter.
The volume of literature concerning Daniel’s prophecies can be overwhelming when you start researching these various scriptures. Unfortunately, there never seems to be a consensus, except when something or someone is specifically identified in scripture. But it’s interesting to study and to realize that human nature and political struggles between countries and rulers haven’t changed all that much through the centuries.