The Last World War
Before we get into Daniel 11, I thought it'd be helpful to do a quick overview of where we've been because we've covered a lot over the past couple of weeks. We started in Daniel 2 with a dream by Nebuchadnezzar about a statue. And in that dream, Daniel interpreted for him that the statue represented a bunch of different empires, four of which were near future for Daniel in the next couple hundred years or so. And the last one, Rome 2, we argued, was in the distant future.
Next, we covered Daniel 8, which was a vision that Daniel saw of a ram and a goat, and out of that goat came four kingdoms and out of the one kingdom arose a ruler that was very important for Israel history. And that ruler was Antiochus Epiphanies who came out of the Seleucid Empire. This is all history that's been verified. Again, these two visions were near future for Daniel.
And then we went to Daniel 7, which was another vision that Daniel saw of four beasts, again representing four different empires. And that final beast was the Empire of Rome and also was related to that fifth empire at the end of time, Rome 2. And related to that empire was the next really important ruler for world history and for the history of Israel, and we talked about the Antichrist.
And so you see that in these visions a lot of times what it has in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, especially is the near future for Daniel and for Israel. And then it flashes forward to the end of time. And Daniel 8 and Daniel 7 are related to each other because we argued that the ruler in Daniel 8 (the small horn, Antiochus Epiphanies) is very similar to and somehow related to the ruler that's going to show up at the end of history, the little horn, the Antichrist. And so that's really what we're going to be doing tonight in Daniel 11; we're going to be looking very briefly at some of the near future history (as a little bit of a review) and then flashing forward to the very end of time.
Daniel 11:1-35, which is the first big chunk of the chapter. When I picked this teaching that I wanted to do at CT, it's because I thought I got to cover these verses. And it turns out we don't have time.
So let me just tell you a couple of things about these first thirty-five versus of Daniel 11.
First of all, the level of detail in these predictive prophecies totally explodes here. They spend thirty-five verses talking about those two kingdoms that came out of Alexander's empire, the king of the North and the king of the South, the Seleucid and the Ptolemaic empires. About one hundred and thirty five fulfilled prophecies in these thirty-five versus alone, which is incredible. If you read through it, it's just talking about this guy and then this guy and then this woman and then this guy, and then this marriage. And in a way that makes it absolutely clear that this has to be from God.
About 40 of those prophecies are about Antiochus Epiphanies alone. And it would make sense that it would spend 40 % of the time on this ruler that had such a negative effect on Israel. Daniel 11 is yet another reason why people want to late date the book of Daniel, because they think there's no way that anybody could know this amount of detail ahead of time. So they say it must have been written after the fact, that those who wrote Daniel just pretended that it was written earlier and they called it prophecy. And perhaps you're a little bit like me and you secretly love drama. But you know that you can't do things like watch silly soap operas and so instead you get into politics, right? And you love following politics. Daniel 11:1-35 has all the intrigue and scandal you could ever want. You've got ex-queens murdering the new queen. You've got backstabbing, you've got double-crossing, and you've got family members murdering one another. If the Seleucids and the Ptolemy’s had Twitter, we all would have followed them because we would have been like they say, what? So I wish we could go into it, but we can't. If you're interested, you can email me afterwards and I can send you a sheet that lists out all the historical details that correspond to these prophecies in Daniel 11:1-35.
But we're going to flash forward to the last little part about Antiochus Epiphanies just to get a little bit of a review before we flash forward. So picking up in the middle of Daniel 11, Daniel writes,
At the appointed time he will invade the south again. But this time the outcome will be different from what it was before.
And if we had had time to read the previous verses, we would know that that he is Antiochus IV Epiphanies.
Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the Holy Covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
We already talked about this in Daniel 8, the ships of the western coastlands. That's when the Roman army showed up, when Antiochus tried to invade Egypt and the Romans drew that line in the sand and said, ‘you can't step out of this line until you agree not to make Rome your enemy.’ And Antiochus had been humiliated. Then turned and vented his fury against the holy covenant. He basically picked on somebody smaller than him. So as he was marching back through Israel, that's really where he vented his fury. He unleashed terrible persecution against the Jews.
His armed forces will rise up to desecrating the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.
Again, these are things that we've already talked about and how he tried to get the Jews to stop worshiping the God of the Bible and instead worship Greek gods. And so he went in and tried to (and did) defile the temple in Jerusalem in order to force the Jews to go his way. This is all history. We know all of this to be true.
With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. Those who are wise will instruct many, though, for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.
And we went into a lot of detail about the terrible, terrible things that he did against the Jewish people during that time.
When they fall, they'll receive a little help and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
Is this a reference to the Maccabean revolt? That was part of this uprising against Antiochus. But then look what it says in verse 35. It says,
until the time of the end.
At this point, the Bible is signaling that there's about to be a change in the narrative. And so in 11:36 we see some significant differences. A new figure arises, a new king who is similar to Antiochus Epiphanies, but different.
For one, Daniel, 11:35, 40, tie the next several versus to the end of time. Like we just read in 11:35 ‘until the time of the end.’
If you look at verse 40,
at the end time, the King of the South will collide with him and the King of the North will storm against him.
This is the Bible's way of saying this is about the end times, the end of human history. There's also the fact that in verse 40, it talks about the King of the North storming against this new ruler, but Antiochus was the King of the North. So this can't still be about him because the person ruling in his area of the world is now moving against this new ruler that comes up at the end of Daniel 11. There's also the fact that Daniel 11:1-35 have been fulfilled. But Daniel 11:36-12:4 are unfulfilled.
Now, people who don't believe that the Bible is the word of God have no problem with this, they say, ‘vs. 1-35 were written after the fact and then they tried to predict the future and then they got some details wrong because what are you gonna do?’ Humans don't know the future and that would be fine, except for the fact that I have very good reason to believe that the Bible is not written by men, that it's the actual inspired word of God. And as such, God cannot err and he knows the future. And so it's not OK to say, ‘well, God just got some details wrong about what was going to happen.’ Instead if verses 36 and following have not been fulfilled, what we need to think is they haven't been fulfilled YET. In fact, what we're going to read about tonight, we're still looking for the fulfillment of these versus so these are still future even for us.
There are a few ways in which this ruler is similar to Antiochus Epiphanies, but different. There are a couple details in these verses that don't fit Antiochus like verse 37 says,
This ruler will show no regard for the gods of his fathers.
Which is exactly opposite of Antiochus Epiphanies. He worshiped the Greek gods of his fathers, and that's why he unleashed the persecution against Israel that they did, is because they refuse to worship those gods. And so, whoever this world ruler is, it's not Antiochus. There's also what it says in verse 45, that this ruler will come to an end in Israel. We're going to look at that detail tonight. But we know from history that Antiochus didn't die in Israel. He died in one of his palaces up in Persia. So that can't be him either. And so what we're going to take a look at in verse 36ff is the last World War. And the ruler that's going to be associated with it.
Now. It's scary sometimes to think about the end of human history. I know that it can be a frightening topic for some people, but there's a reason that God told us about it ahead of time. And part of the reason is so that we know what's going to happen so that we don't have to be scared. I'm not somebody who deals well with a lot of suspense, like I can't watch horror movies. I think partly because I get way too into it. I know that people don't really die, but, they're like really difficult for me to watch. But I want to be culturally relevant! So when that movie, I Am Legend came out, I avoided it for months because I knew that movie as scary as anything. But I thought, ‘now everybody's talking about this movie. It's a really good movie. You know, I like other movies that Will Smith has been in. I'm going to go for it.’ I made the mistake of trying to watch it by myself at night in my basement. And so I'm watching the movie and I'm doing OK. Until that scene where he is trying to figure out where all those mannequins are coming from and he gets caught in that trap that has him dangling by his feet as the sun goes down. And my heart started beating so fast that I actually thought I was going to puke. And I had to turn it off. And I've never finished that movie. And I knew I knew in my head, ‘It's a movie.’ I also knew even Will Smith's character can't die because this is not the end of the movie and he's the only human I've seen so far. And he's also not dead in real life. So I think this is going to turn out OK. And yet I just couldn't do it because I didn't know what was going to happen next. And so here's what God's saying, ‘I'm going to give you a basic outline of what's going to happen next so that when stuff comes up, you don't have to be terrified the entire time.’
Daniel 11:36 says,
Then the king will do as he pleases and he will exalt and magnify himself above every God. And will speak monstrous things against the God of gods.
So he's going to be incredibly blasphemous. Like that little horn that we saw.
And he will prosper until the indignation is finished for that which is decreed will be done.
So right from the very beginning, gods like ‘it's going to look like things are going well for him until they're not. And then it'll be done.’
He will show no regard for the gods of his father's or for the desire of women. Nor will he regard any God, but will exalt himself above them all.
This matches what we already looked at in 2 Thessalonians 2 where it talks about the Antichrist and displaying himself as being God. So he really wants people to worship him.
Now this idea of ‘he'll have no regard for the desire of women.’ Some people argue that means he's gay. I don't think that's what it means. There are some world rulers out there, even today, who are so intent on their power that they just never get married or have a family. I think that's probably what that means. That's the kind of guy he's going to be. Instead,
he will honor a god of fortresses, a God unknown to his father's, he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts.
What is he going to respect? He's going to think military might is what conquers everything. And he's either going to spend a lot of his money or he's going to tax people in order to build up his military.
He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign God and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
So if you agree with him, that will go really well for you.
At the time of the end, the King of the South will engage in battle and the King of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
The King of the South and King of the North. Remember those because they are going to come up in another passage that we're going to look at tonight.
Now here it says they're going to storm out against him with chariots and cavalry, which is a little tough because are we really going to see a big battle with horses at the end?
Well, I think there are a couple of options here.
One is it's possible that this is a post oil society, that it's happened at a time when we've just run out of fossil fuels. And so we really have gone back to an actual cavalry. Who knows? I mean, that's the direction that things are headed in. I guess it depends on when all this goes down.
The other possibility is what's known as phenomenological language. And that's a big fancy word. That just means the writer is using words that he knows to describe something that he doesn't understand. You'll see this with little kids all the time, that they'll try to describe what they're seeing, but they don't know quite what the right word is. We had it happen with our son once where he was pointing at my husband's hoodie and the zipper. And he's like that. ‘That's a ladder, daddy. That's a ladder.’ And we were like, ‘well, no, it's a zipper. But you don't know the word for a zipper.’ And actually, if you look at a zipper, you could see why he thought it looked like a ladder. It goes up and down, too. So it actually kind of fit pretty well. And so what could be happening here is that Daniel is seeing an army moving towards him. Back then did wear a lot of armor on them, too. And so he's seeing tanks or he's seeing other things headed this way. And he's like, there's a huge army coming and some sort of cavalry. Not really sure. I think either of those scenarios fit pretty well with what we're seeing here.
It says this world ruler,
will also invade the beautiful land.
That's what the Bible calls Israel.
Many countries will fall, but Edam, Moab and the leaders of Amon will be delivered from his hand.
This is west and southwest of Israel. So if you're in Israel, when this stuff hits head to like Jordan, because for some reason that's not involved with this military campaign. I don't know why.
He'll extend his power over many countries. Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt with the Libyans and Nubians in submission,
So North Africa falls to him. And apparently he takes a lot of their wealth.
But reports from the east and the north will alarm him and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.
Mark, that we're going to come back to that, too.
He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end and no one will help him. Now, at that time, Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people will arise.
Michael, the great archangel, the most powerful angel.
And there will be a time of distress, such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time, your people, everyone who's found written in the book, will be rescued.
OK. So that's Daniel 11’s coverage of this final World War, and so to understand what he's talking about, there's another passage that covers it in even greater detail that we want to turn to tonight. It's in Ezekiel 38 and 39. But before we go there, there's one other prophecy that we have to talk about that's really important to the end of human history. And it's directly before that passage in Ezekiel 38 and 39, it’s Ezekiel 37. It's about the regathering of Israel.
The Regathering of Israel
So let's take a look at Ezekiel 37 where the Lord prophesies that he's going to bring his people back into the land.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.
So he describes this huge bone graveyard full of very dry bones. They'd obviously been there for a very long time.
He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, “O Lord God, You know."
You know, that's Ezekiel’s way of saying, ‘I don't know. What do you think?’ Always a good answer when you don't know.
Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.' "Thus says the Lord God to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. 'I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.'" So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life."' So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
And so clearly this predicts the regathering of Israel.
I mean, I guess maybe you could see what. Actually, no, you can't. I mean, some bones in a valley and then they get put together into a zombie army that comes to life and that's the regathering of Israel. I mean, this sounds like some sort of Nostradamus Prophecy that if you take a quartet and you mix around some numbers, boom, we have the future fulfilled. Is that what I'm doing to you guys? Am I trying to pull the wool over your eyes? Have we finally found a prophecy that I can make, say whatever I want? Well, what have we talked about before with Bible prophecy?
If you don't know what it means, you keep reading. And it turns out that after verse 10l there's verse 11. So good reason why you should bring your paper Bibles to CT because you can track to see if the teacher is trying to pull one around you. Check this out, though in verse 11,
Then he said to me, son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel, the whole. They say our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.
They've been out of the land. They've been scattered for so long that they're thinking ‘there's no way we're getting our land back. It's never going to happen.’ All hope is dried up.
Therefore, prophesy and say them thus says the Lord God, behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, my people and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people. I will put my spirit within you and you will come to life and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it, declares the Lord.
So boom. The Bible interprets its own prophecy for us that this is about Israel being regathered to its land. Well, Israel was regathered to its land once. Is it possible that they're just talking about when the Jews went from Babylon/Persia back into Israel? Well, there's a couple there verses that are important. One is vs. 21. Just a few verses down where God says,
"Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
So those details indicate this can't be about the first return from exile, because in that exile from Israel to Babylon and then back again, they went in one direction and then they came back from that same direction and they came back from only one country. Where is this they’re coming from? Multiple countries and they're coming from all over the place, which exactly fits how the Jews got back to the land of Israel when it became a nation. And in verse 24, he says,
“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.. . . and David My servant will be their prince forever.”
Now, by the time Ezekiel wrote this, King David, the historical King David had been dead for a long time. But when the Bible talks about a King David in the future, it's referring to his greatest son, which is King Messiah. So there's something about the regathering of Israel that has to do with the end of time because King Messiah has not come back yet. Remember, that's why people were so confused when Jesus first showed up. They were expecting the King Messiah who was going to rule. And he's like, ‘that's not why I'm here.’ And so they were waiting for him to come and rule. (And he will come. That's what we're going to talk about tonight.) But this passage here was saying Israel is going to be scattered to the four winds and then against, all odds, he’s going to bring them back. Now, if this were the only passage that we had, you'd think, well, OK, yeah, maybe, except for the fact that this shows up in so many other places in the Old Testament alone.
This is about the regathering of Israel, not the one from Babylon, but the one that happened in 1948. And so some people might say, ‘well, OK, maybe the Jews just self-fulfilled this prophecy that they were reading Ezekiel 37 and they decided ‘we're going get our land back.’
If you know anything about history, you know that's impossible, that's not the way that it worked. First of all, what scattered people group has ever gotten a nation back? If this happened all the time, why is it never happened to anybody else?
Second of all, if you know the history of modern Israel itself, you know this is not what happened. Who's the father of modern Zionism? Theodor Hertzel. He was an atheist Jew. He wasn't looking to fulfill anything about the Bible. He just wanted the Jews to have a place where they weren't being mistreated all the time. So in 1800’s, he's the one that came up with the idea of having a country. And he's like, ‘what about the old one that we had way back in the day?’ What was the spark that lit the fire that got everybody to vote in recognizing Israel as a nation? It was after World War 2. Everybody felt really bad about what happened. And so, if you were going to argue that the Jews masterminded getting a nation back so that they could fulfill Ezekiel 37 you would have to argue that they somehow manipulated the Holocaust. I don't think they were going that direction. And even when it came time for the vote to be cast in the U.N., nobody thought it was going to pass. You read any stories about that night as people were running around trying to talk to different ambassadors, to different countries, because each world ruler had to cast a vote whether or not they were going to recognize Israel as a country. In May of 1948, nobody thought it was going to work. And then vote after votes started coming in. People voting yes, including atheist USSR (who through one vote, could have blocked the entire thing) and they voted yes. So no, Israel could not have self-fulfilled this. Obviously, this was a work of God. And guess what? He predicted it ahead of time. He said, ‘I'm going to do something that you have never seen before. My people are going to be scattered for almost 2000 years, and then I'm going to bring them back and I'm going to give him a country again.’
The Last World War (Ezekiel 38)
So from there, we go into Ezekiel 38, which is more information on the last World War.
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.
And so all those countries together or areas or regions, wherever you want to call them, they kind of are summarized under this one ruler, Gog.
If you read biblical and post biblical history the way those regions are named, Josephus and others say that these are the Scythian people, which are people that lived around the Black Sea, which is really the area of Russia and north of there. So is this the king of the North that we read about in Daniel 11? I think there's good reason to believe that it correlates to that. God says,
I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.
So there's that phenomenological language again. And notice this idea. I'm going to put hooks in your jaws. God’s like, ‘you think it's your idea to do anything. I'm the one directing every step along the way here.’
Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets,
Now Persia, we know that's Iraq/Iran area. Kush and Put is more down in the Egypt area.
This is probably the King of the South. Consider history of modern Israel. The countries up in the Iran/Iraq area and the countries down in the Egyptian area, these are countries who multiple times in the past 50 years have allied together to try to wipe Israel off the face of the map. A lot of them don't even recognize Israel as an official country even yet today. So is it that hard to believe that these people who have already tried to go to war against Israel would not be more than happy to join up with a country like Russia to try to do them in finally?
So you've got the King of the North and the King of the South,
also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. . .
So just to put this on a map.
You got Israel in the middle and then we can identify with pretty good certainty where most of these regions are. North of Israel and south of Israel. That's why we call him the King of the North and the King of the South.
After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.
It is true that as the Jews were moving back into Israel in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, that a lot of the land was not being used and they have turned it into incredibly productive farmland. This idea that its people are living securely; it's hard to know if that's been fulfilled yet. On the one hand, Israel is in a constant state of alertness. They know that they could be attacked at any moment. On the other hand, I was in Israel six months ago and I felt totally safe the entire time that I was there. Of course, part of the reason I felt safe where there were soldiers with AK 47s all over the place. So you kind of knew whatever happens, I'm going to be OK. So they're kind of living securely, kind of not.
But if you go on to the next couple verses, it says,
On that day… You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars…”
Well, that doesn't describe Israel yet, because if they're on constant state of alert, then they're not unsuspecting. Based on other passages that you can look at, what might happen is that the antichrist is going to be coming to power and he's going to broker some sort of peace deal so that Israel feels like it's finally safe at last and is able to put its arms down, which leads to really disastrous consequences for them.
“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.
It's not going to be pleasant what's going to happen. But in the end, people will see who God is.
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them.
He's like, ‘wow, you're so powerful, you're so great. I've been telling people for years, for centuries, for millennia exactly what you were going do. Who's great? Who's powerful?’
This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground.
Yeah, that fits what we read about in other passages about the end times that earthquakes are going to continue to increase in size in severity until one final one, that's just cataclysmic.
I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and fire and brimstone on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.
It seems like stuff is going to start falling from the skies. That's going to annihilate these armies. Hailstones and fire and brimstone maybe or maybe bombs and missiles, which we know get more deadly by the day.
I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand.
I'm just going to smack them out of your hand because compared to me, you are nothing.
On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.
You ever see movies or documentaries of war? It's pretty atrocious. What happens to the human body as a result of terrible attacks?
You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. And I shall send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the Lord.
Just because they stayed out of the fight doesn't mean they're innocent.
“‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of…”
So, again, an incredible amount of detail that he's going into as to what this final time is going to look like. And part of what he's doing is he's saying, ‘I know ahead of time and also I'm in control of the whole process.’ On the one hand, God, in his masterful wisdom, lets rebellion play itself out. And yet in a way where he is completely directing it so that people will know in the end that he alone is God and that he alone can be trusted.
The Last World War: Correlating Daniel 11-12 and Ezekiel 38-39
Want to take some time to try to synthesize these two different readings to get a feel for what it is we're looking at with these battles?
OK, Israel is that tiny little dot there in the middle and you've got the King of the North (Gog and Magog), and you've got the King of the South through Persia, Cush, and Put moving against Israel.
And it says Daniel 11:40, he (the Antichrist) will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. So the beast, the Antichrist, the little horn, this new king, whatever you want to call him, he starts moving and he mobilizes his military strength because he wants to be ruler and not these other kings who are vying for power. And it says he'll also invade the beautiful land. So he uses this as an opportunity to move right into Israel.
Why? Because all Satan can ever do is counterfeit what God has already done. So God says, ‘Israel is my land and I'm going to rule from Israel.’ And the Antichrist says, ‘actually, how about I make it my land and I rule from there.’ And so he does. It wasn't his idea, though. No, he's just copying the really good idea that God already had.
So he moves into Israel and that's when Ezekiel says,
I shall call for a sword against Gog and Magog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man's sword will be against his brother. And with pestilence and with blood, I shall enter into judgment with him and I shall reign on him and on his troops and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain with hailstones, fire and brimstone.
And we just talked about that. There's probably something unleashed in terms of military might. That is incredible. Unlike anything the world has ever seen. In fact, Jesus himself said ‘unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved’ (Mark 13:20). If nuclear weapons are still available like they are today, we know that there's the nuclear capability to wipe out every single human many times over. And perhaps that's some of what is being unleashed here. In Daniel 11:42 it says that,
he [the Antichrist] will extend his power over many countries, Egypt will not escape.
So he's expanding his territory that he's ruling from.
But rumors from the east and from the north will disturb him east and north.
Well, pulling in some versus from Revelation, which also talks about the end of the world. God says,
Release the four angels who are bound at the Great River Euphrates and the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was 200 million. I heard their number (Revelation 9:14-16).
So some vast army is headed towards Israel or in Revelation 16,
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the Great River Euphrates and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East (Revelation 16:12, 14, 16).
The Euphrates is drying up. This river existed before humans were created. What do you mean it's just drying up? Well, it turns out it's drying up. From Time magazine 2009,
The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq's neighbors, Turkey and Syria…
because the headwaters are up there up in Turkey and then it flows to Syria down into Iraq. So the further up you are on the river, the better access you have to that water because you can just cut it off and then everybody downstream from that loses.
The river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now.
And this was written in 2009.
The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river, so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times,
Time is like, ‘whoa, weird’
has decimated farms along its banks, has left fishermen impoverished and has depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work.
Campbell Robertson, “Iraq Suffers as the Euphrates River Dwindles.” Time. July 13, 2009.
Here's a map.
There's the Euphrates River. Up in Turkey, flowing down through Iran and Iraq. Daniel says,
But rumors from the east and from the north will disturb him.
Well, how far east and north? What do we got?
All we got China and we got India and we got Russia. Do you know that Moscow is actually directly north of Jerusalem? Remember that number that it gave us in Revelation? An army of 200 million men? Is it really that hard to picture India and China being able to call up an army of that size?
So the waters are drying up,
and [demons] go out to the kings of the whole world to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty… And they gathered them together to the place, which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon (Revelation 16).
Paul, Benware in his book Understanding End Times Prophecy says,
“It's not a single battle [that they're gathering for,] but rather a whole series of conflicts that culminate with the Second Coming of Christ. The Greek word polemos, translated “battle in Revelation 16:14, signifies a war of campaign... [This] indicates that Armageddon is really a campaign made up of numerous conflicts among a number of nations over a period of time at the end of the tribulation.
Benware, Paul. Understanding End Times Prophecy (Moody: Chicago, 2006) p. 315.
If you break down the words Har-Magedon; ‘har’ means mountain and ‘magedon’ means Megiddo, so the hill of Megiddo or the mountain of Megiddo? And so they're gathering everyone up in this area, Megiddo is up north near the Sea of Galilee.
It's a really fertile plain up there. That's where most of Israel's crops are grown. And this is what it looks like if you go up on the hill of Megiddo.
Of course, they built a church there now. When you look out, this is what you see, this vast plain.
Eric Cline and professor of archeology says,
“Napoleon supposedly looked over the Jezreel Valley, [which is another name for the Valley of Megiddo,] and said, ‘All the armies of the world could maneuver their forces on this vast plain.. There is no place in the world more suited for war than this… It's the most natural battleground of the whole earth.’”
Napoleon loved battles. He was always looking for a place to have his next battle, and he looked at the valley of Megiddo. He's like, ‘well, this place is awesome for war.’ You can you imagine how many troops could be gathered in this. And no matter which direction you turn on this mountain, this is what you see, plains as far as the eye can see.
But rumors from the east and from the north will disturb him and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many.
And so the Antichrist decides, you want me? Get at me.
And so here come the Kings, they're all ready to fight him and destroy him.
And in verse 45, it says,
He'll pitches royal tents between the seas at the beautiful Holy Mountain. He's gonna stake his headquarters in Jerusalem. And he's going to run his campaign from there.
Yet he'll come to his end and no one will help him.
So who gets The King of the North and the King of the South, after they finally defeat the antichrist in this huge battle?
Revelation 19 John writes,
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns; and He has a name written on Him, which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Why is it dipped in blood? Well, because the first time he came, he died.
And the armies, which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
That sharp sword. It's symbolic. It's the truth. He speaks the truth in such a way that he defeats all his enemies
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
You think you're a king? You think you're a ruler while I am over you. I'm the King of all kings. I'm the Ruler over all rulers.
This makes me think of that scene in Return of the King, when Gondor is under attack and it looks like they're going to lose, right? They have all the forces of evil lined up against them. And then Theoden shows up and what's he do? He leads the whole charge in and he's right in the front. Now, it doesn't totally work because (spoiler alert) Theoden dies. He doesn't make it through the battle. He helps turn the tide, but he doesn't completely defeat the evil forces. And yet, do you ever tear up when you watch that scene? Because it's like he's here and he's willing to make the sacrifice.
And I think it's because it resonates with something deep inside us. Which is what the Bible talks about, that Jesus himself is going to show up and he's going to lead the charge. But it's not going to be a clash of armies. There's not going to be soldiers on the good side that falls. What's going to happen?
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized and he was thrown alive into the lake of fire, which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword, which came for the mouth of him who sat on the horse... (Revelation 19:19-21)
So Jesus shows up and he's like: DONE. You guys are over. This is it. Time's up. You had your chance. You missed it.
And so when he shows up, it's complete annihilation of these evil armies, including the Antichrist, the beast. If you think about it, it could feel a little anticlimactic, right? You want the big battle. And there are some books that end this way where you're wondering ‘what's going to happen, what's going to happen.’ I just recently finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And the whole book is: Is Captain Nemo going to let Professor Pierre Aronnax and Ned Land and Conseil go? Or they're going to be prisoners on the Nautilus forever? And, you know, you're wondering, wondering, wondering... And they try to escape so many different times. And then the last three pages of the book, you're like. ‘Oh, really? That's it?’ I won't give it away in case you want to read it.
Or you think about the book The Lord of the Flies when anarchy just grows and grows and grows until Ralph, the final one who's standing for good, is running down the beach, convinced he's going to die because of all the boys that are going to kill him. And he falls. And when he looks up, there's just a guy standing there. And it's a naval officer who'd come from a ship because he'd seen some smoke on the island. And then the boys are rescued. And you're like, that's it? That's how it ends? Which is honestly kind of part of the point of that book, because it was a human that rescued other humans. And it turns out that they were no different.
What we have here is not anticlimactic. This is the Lord Himself coming back because the experiment of a rebellion against God has played itself out. He has let it go to its final conclusion, proving that humans left to themselves will destroy themselves. And he steps in before that happens so he can save anybody who's willing to turn to him.
So summary of what we've covered tonight.
There will be a final world ruler who will be the catalyst for a final world war. That if Jesus did not step in to end, it would kill everyone on Earth. We also see that Israel needs to be regathered as a nation, which turns out is completed, so that part has already happened. And the final World War should destroy humanity. But Jesus himself puts a stop to it. Praise God. This is what we're looking forward to, when those heavens open up and he comes back.
In summary, why is this important?
- The human race needs another solution. Humans seem to think that if they could just get the power balance right, if they could negotiate correctly, if they could get world rulers to agree with each other, then maybe we can get it to work out and maybe we're headed in the right direction. And it turns out that a political solution is not the answer because it's humans trying to solve humanity's problem. Humans are actually desperately sick. And the cancer runs too deep. God is going to let things get worse before he fixes things. That's what good cancer treatment does, isn’t it? It really makes the symptoms worse until the final solution is applied.
- Jesus’s Second Coming will rescue us from ourselves. But part of what we need to realize is that his First Coming was to save us from our sins. When he came the first time, he said, ‘I didn't come to judge, I came to save.’ And he could have installed himself as a world ruler at that point because he had the right and the authority to do so, but instead of establishing himself as king, he decided to go to the cross and willingly lay his life down. Why? Because he knew every single human being. Because of that sin that deep cancer is separating us from God. And we are actually under God's judgment, and yet because God loves us, instead of leaving us in our predicament, he came to fix the problem himself. So instead of us paying for our sins, Jesus said that he willingly did that for us. And he extends that offer of reconciliation to God, of forgiveness for sins for anyone who's willing to admit that they need it. For anyone who's willing to approach him, to humble themselves and ask for God's forgiveness and ask for a relationship from him.
- This passage means we have no need to fear anything about the future. Things are going to get worse, and yet God has told us ahead of time what is going to happen. And the reason he told us that was to let us know he's in control. So there is nothing that we have to worry about. Anyone who is reconciled to God through Christ knows we're on the winning side. And no matter what happens to us physically or temporally, we know where we're going. We know that our King is showing up. And so we know that we get to rejoice with him when he comes back to set up his kingdom.