DUNCAN/The prophecy of kings
Please turn in your Bible to Daniel 11:1-45. In this chapter, we are reminded again that our God is the Lord of history and that He is in control of all events, all nations, and all realms. In the remarkable vision in this great book, God continues to expand Daniel's concerns in prayer beyond simply the return of His people back to Israel. In fact, this vision encourages Daniel to look far into the future to the persecutions that the people of God will face until the time of the end. The whole reason God revealed this vision to Daniel was to move him to pray more effectively for the people of God. With this in mind, there are three things that we can observe from this passage. First, we see that Christians must pray in light of God’s interpretation of history. Secondly, we observe that Christians must pray in light of God's refining providence of history. Thirdly and finally, we see that Christians must pray and live with a clear understanding of the nature of the war in which we are engaged.
I. Christians Must Pray In Light Of God's Interpretation Of History.
As we look at verses 1-4, we see that prophecy is God's interpretation of history, not just a mere recounting of events ahead of time. It is God telling you how He wants you to think about those events. The things that are important in the eyes of the secular historian are not going to be the things to which God necessarily points. For instance, only verses 3-4 describe Alexander the Great, and yet the rest of the chapter focuses on the Seleucid kings in Syria and the Ptolemaic kings in Egypt, who were much lesser in stature. Why? Because God is pointing our attention to these other things, first of all, to remind us that He is in charge. Alexander may be especially important for the history of western civilization and culture, but he is not important in comparison to these men with regard to the people of God, and the plan of God in redemption. As Christians, we need a heaven-given, long-term perspective on world events and leaders. We need to remember that in a day and age where people would like to convince us that they can control the course of the future, we need to see history from God's perspective.
II. Christians Must Pray In Light Of God's Refining Providence Of History.
In verses 5-35, we see a picture of the battle for the city of God. And it is clear in this passage that the persecutions that will be experienced by the people of God are designed to refine them, to purify them, and commit them to the kingdom of God. These verses read like a travel-log where we see these kings moving through the land of Israel wreaking havoc while they are trying to build their own kingdoms. And the lesson there is that conflict in human history is part of the battle for the city of God. The reason why God is so much more concerned about the kings of Syria and the kings of Egypt in this time of history than He is for Alexander is because these kings play into the persecution of His own people. That teaches us something about how precious God’s people are in His sight. Because of God’s special love for His people, he encourages Daniel to pray for the ongoing faithfulness of those who will be persecuted under the reign of these wicked kings.
There are a number of applications that we can glean from the central section of this passage. First, it reminds us of the instability of the kingdoms in this world. There are at least seven changes in monarchy during this time period. As such, we see that evil is always instable because it does not have a foundation in God. Secondly, this passage also reminds us that man may plan but God intervenes. Note that the word “but” occurs fourteen times in this passage. Over and over, we see that man proposes but it is God who disposes. Finally, we learn that God is working His purposes out in the circumstances of our lives. Even the suffering that God's people will go through is part of God's purifying plan for their lives. There are no accidents in God's providence, only purposes for the good of His people.
III. Christians Must Pray And Live With A Clear Understanding Of The Nature Of The War In Which We Are Engaged.
In verses 36-45, the focus shifts to the Antichrist and the spiritual forces aligned against the people of God. Throughout this passage, we see military language used to stress the spiritual warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, and now we see a figure of supreme opposition to God’s kingdom. It is important to stress a couple of important points when reading these verses. First, we must recognize that Daniel himself did not fully understand his visions. Specifically, in verse 8 of chapter 12, Daniel says, “As for me, I could not understand so I said, ‘My Lord, what will be the outcome of the events?’” As such, we must also be humble as we seek to understand the meaning of this text. Secondly, whoever we identify as this figure in verses 36-45, there are principles about the spirit of Antichrist that will benefit us now in our prayers. With those thoughts in mind, let us look at the main features of the Antichrist as described in this section.
First, we see that the spirit of Antichrist is reflected in the quest for self-rule. In verse 36, we read that “the king will do as he pleases and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god.” The Antichrist is in a quest for autonomy to be a god unto himself. We also read that that blasphemy and inhumanity are associated with the spirit of Antichrist. For example, we read that he “will speak monstrous things against the God of gods” in verse 36. We also see in verse 37 that “he will show no desire for women” which seems to indicate that he will have no component of his character which is compassionate. Notice also in verse 38, his doctrine is “might makes right.” He follows the rule that “whoever has the power makes the policy.’’ But in verse 45, after all this description of his mightiness, his end comes in a very anticlimactic way. This whole chapter serves to remind us again, that the great conflict in which we are engaged is spiritual. And thus it reminds us to pray, as Daniel did, and to keep watch over our hearts and our lives and to trust in God's deliverance. May God enable us to trust in Him alone and teach us to pray for His kingdom and against the spiritual enemies of His people.