Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 26
Chapter 26: Difficult Times for God’s People ~ Daniel 11:28-45
Q1 – In this vision, the king of the North was depicted as ruthless, ruling with brute force and driven by his own ambitions and immense ego. Why do you think he resorted to using flattery to influence God’s people? (Daniel 11:31-35)
A1 – This ruler is someone who gets his way. He takes what he wants, and he wants a lot. Yet, not every war can be won by brute force. When he confronted God’s people, he must have realized that with them, the battle would be for their hearts. They served a higher being, and this war would be waged against their ideology.
Think how it must have infuriated him, that he could kill them, take their possessions, and desecrate their holy places, but he couldn’t change their minds. God was still the king of their lives, not matter what he did to them. His only hope of winning this kind of battle would be to wage war with words of flattery. By speaking deceitfully, making empty promises, and appealing to their human vanity, he managed to influence and win over those who were weaker in their faith.
Q2 – Referring to the passage above, who are the ones who will be able to resist the force and influence of this king? Will it be an easy time for these people? What will be their ultimate outcome?
A2 – Daniel 11:32 (NLT) states, “…But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.” Because these people know and revere God’s laws and teachings, they will be able to discern this king’s words of flattery from the truth. Being equipped with the truth will enable them to deal with whatever evil this king perpetrates against them.
However, those who resist will pay a great price. Continuing the scripture in Daniel 11:33 (NLT): “Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed.” The next verse goes on to say that some will also fall victim to persecution. This evil king will be bent on the destruction of God’s people.
What will be the “upside” (for lack of a better word) for those who suffer persecutions due to their faith? “In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come” (Daniel 11:35b, NLT). When precious metals are mined from the earth, they are frequently mixed with other materials, such as dirt, or other metals and minerals, or as veins in rocks. Very hot fire was used, particularly in Bible times, to separate and purify the precious metals. In a similar manner, these persecutions would serve to separate God’s truly faithful followers from any others unwilling to endure such suffering. Those who have been proven faithful will be ready to face whatever happens at the end of time.
Q3 – After all the battles and the great struggle for riches and control, what will be the outcome of these earthly rulers? (See Daniel 11:40-45, NLT.) Do you sense the futility of these struggles? How might Matthew 16:26 apply to them?
A3 – As we noted in Question 2 of Chapter 25, the rulers who are mentioned throughout this vision will not have lasting power. Even worse, most will die—not in a blaze glory during a hard-fought battle—but rather, they will just sort of fizzle out.
The king of the north mentioned here at the end seems to be particularly aggressive. Look through the action verbs and descriptors in these verses— this king:
- v. 40 – “will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy”; “will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood”
- v. 41 – “will enter the glorious land of Israel, and many nations will fall”
- v. 42 – “will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape”
- v. 43 – “will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt” and “the Libyans and Ethiopians will be his servants”
And then this happens (v. 44): “news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many.” But, just like that, this king’s conquests are over— “his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him” (v. 45).
How many times through the centuries have similar scenarios played themselves out? Change a few names, and you see history repeating itself over and over. Yet, all of us only have an allotted time on this earth. The mightiest and the most lowly—all will die (unless you’re alive at the end, but your time on earth will still be over).
In Matthew 16:24-27, Jesus discusses with his disciples what it means to be His follower and what it will cost them. Whoever wants to “save” his life will lose it. Doing what your fleshly, sinful desires tell you to do will lead to your ultimate destruction, if not in this world, then surely in the afterlife. But whoever “loses” his life, for the sake of Jesus, will find it. In following God’s word, you give up doing those things that seem so tempting, but your ultimate eternal reward will be greater than any earthly reward could possibly be.
Then Jesus poses the question, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26a, NIV). When people live their lives for the wrong reasons, they may gain whatever it is they’re seeking while alive on earth. Yet, they will die like everyone else and leave behind all their earthly possessions, power, or whatever was so important to them. They may seek to enter the heavenly kingdom after they die, but they will have nothing to bargain with, nothing to offer. The only thing about them that will live on will be their soul, yet they failed to prepare it for an eternity with God. As Jesus said in the remainder of verse 26, “… what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”