Good morning everybody. Happy New Year! Happy 2018, a new year, a new start. But we’re not studying a new book. We still find ourselves working our way ever so gradually through the Book of Daniel. The title of our message this morning is The Precision of Prophecy. We are in Daniel 11:25. Daniel, of course, is at the very end of his life, receiving his final vision. The year is 536 B.C. Daniel is in his late 80’s, perhaps early 90’s at this time; God is not finished using him. As long as a person has breath in their body God wants to do something through them and that was how it was with Daniel.
So he had been praying about the future of Israel, the seventy year captivity was winding down, coming to an end, and a heavenly messenger shows up to give Daniel the insight that he’s looking for. The messenger has some explaining to do, why he’s there and what took him so long. But then the actual vision that Daniel saw (which really is probably his greatest vision) recorded in the last two chapters of the book starts to get unpacked, if you will, in chapters 11 and 12. Daniel has some initial information about Persia that he’s given by this angelic messenger, the empire that was around and alive when Daniel was alive. But then the message moves on into the empire that would replace Persia long after Daniel had left the scene, passed away, the empire of Greece.
Probably the most important thing to know about Greece in Daniel’s prophecies is Greece would come to power through Alexander the Great, who would die at a very young age and consequently he had no heirs so his empire (and Daniel predicts this with great specificity) would be divided amongst Alexander’s four generals. The two most important would be the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucid dynasty of Syria up north. The Ptolemy empire was known as the King of the South; the Syrian dynasty coming from these two generals was known as the King of the North. And these two empires duke it out, if you will, for about 150 years, traipsing back and forth through the Promised Land and there’s a complex set of prophecies given about these battles spanning 150 years in verses 5-20 of Daniel 11.
And then Daniel begins to talk about 198 B.C. when the Seleucid Dynasty, the king of the north would get the upper hand and at that point Daniel says I want you to pay attention to these various Seleucid rulers, the most important of which is Antiochus IV. The Holy Spirit begins to focus in on this man like a laser beam, in verses 21-35. This is not the first time in the Book of Daniel we’ve had prophecies about Antiochus IV; Daniel 8 read that way as well. This just gives us more information. Why is he so important? Because he is a prototype or prefigurement of what is yet to come from our point of view, a coming future antichrist.
So you can take the prophecies of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, verses 21-35, and divide them up, really into five parts. We saw last time his rise to power as predicted by Daniel. He would rise to power illegitimately, as we saw, Daniel predicted that. History, 400 years later validated exactly what Daniel said. He would be very different than Jesus, who came to Israel with all of the right credentials and all of the right genealogy and all of the right pedigree. Not so Antiochus who would come in by stealth, which he did, verse 21. And he would have an initial string of successes. It’s described there in verses 22-24 as sort of an overflowing flood. That would be the initial successes of this man, Antiochus IV of the Seleucid dynasty. [Daniel 11:21, “In his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred, but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue.  The overflowing forces will be flooded away before him and shattered, and also the prince of the covenant.  After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small force of people.  In a time of tranquility he will enter the richest parts of the realm, and he will accomplish what his fathers never did, nor his ancestors; he will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them, and he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time.”]
And what we move into this morning is verses 25-28 where we start to get specific information about his first military activities concerning Egypt, the Ptolemies, and also concerning Israel. And of course this is instructive to us because what he did is what the antichrist yet future will do.
So what is happening here in verses 25-28, really 25-30 is we have the military activities of Antiochus IV, towards, number 1, Egypt or the Ptolemies in the south, and then also Israel. And what you start to see here is the fading, in Daniel’s prophecies, of empire number 3. Remember that Daniel saw four empires that would trample down Israel during the times of the Gentiles: Babylon would be replaced by Persia, the head of gold in other words Daniel 2 would be replaced by the chest and arms of silver, and Persia would be replaced by Greece; the belly and thighs of bronze, what we’re studying here with Antiochus IV is largely taking place in the Grecian Empire.
But Daniel also saw the two iron legs as we have documented representing Rome. Rome starts to emerge on the horizon and starts to act as sort of a buffer, if you will, to Antiochus IV. Of course, the content of Daniel 2 was narrated to us in Daniel 7 as four beasts: Babylon being the lion, Persia being the bear, Greece being the leopard, but then would come a terrifying beast named Rome, the very beast that would execute our Lord Jesus Christ as Alex Garcia described earlier today at the communion table.
So notice, if you will, verses 25-26 as we start to get information. Daniel starts to get information about the military activities of Antiochus IV towards Egypt and ultimately Israel. Notice Daniel 11:25-26, “He will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South with a large army; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, for schemes will be devised against him.  Those who eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain.”
It’s interesting what happened here as Daniel begins to see these prophecies unfold. It’s describing here how Ptolemy VI, the son of Cleopatra of Egypt, would actually, as history tells us, would ready himself for an attack against the north. This gave Antiochus IV an opportunity to engage in a preemptive attack against Egypt in the south. And what starts to be unfolded here is the victory, the sudden victory that Antiochus IV would achieve. Why is that? It’s a very simple reason—there was disunity in Egypt. There was confusion, and disunity at the highest levels, and in fact what happened is Egypt, history tells us, developed two thrones and not one. If you’ve got two leaders of an organization or two heads that makes that organization a monster. Two heads, two leaders, two rivals… who were the rivals? It was the rival throne in Egypt between Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy’s younger brother, Ptolemy VII and the way it worked out is Antiochus IV achieved a great victory and he basically left Egypt thinking that the Egyptians would destroy themselves because of disunity.
Daniel, roughly four hundred years in advance is seeing this very thing unfold and that’s exactly how history describes Daniel’s prophecies being fulfilled. It is interesting to me how much disunity is a prerequisite, if you will, for defeat. Show me disunity in a church and I’ll show you a church that’s headed for a defeat. Show me disunity in a marriage and I’ll show you a marriage that’s headed for defeat. Show me disunity in an organization, factions vying for power, and I’ll show you a business that is probably about to go under. It’s interesting to me that so many enterprises fail, not because of a bad product or service that they are selling, not because of bad advertising, but simply because the people in that organization cannot get along with each other. That’s what made Egypt vulnerable.
And our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of this, didn’t He? In Matthew 12:25 He said, “… Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.’” This, of course, is the problem with the Corinthian church; they were actually at such war with each other, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that they were taking their disputes to pagan judges, having pagan judges resolve their problems for them, discrediting the gospel in the process.
Paul, the apostle, says in 1 Corinthians 6:7, “Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” Paul says you in Corinth, and believe me in Corinth there were very gifted people, there was no spiritual gift that was lacking in Corinth, we are told in 1 Corinthians 1:7. [1 Corinthians 1:7, “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”]
And yet what was wrong in Corinth was not a lack of talent, not a lack of ability but simply a lack of fruit of the Spirit. Gifts of the Spirit were in high use; fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, was in short supply. And it’s interesting to me how good the devil is at getting us to fight amongst ourselves. It is interesting to me how many things can come up in a ministry, how many things can come up in the life of a local church where we automatically, when a misunderstanding happens, we don’t give people the benefit of the doubt. Many times we rush to judgment and assume the worst. And we ought not to be that way because that’s contrary to our position as members of God’s church.
Paul, the apostle, in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 4 and verses 2-4 says, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,  being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” After all Paul says, Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” your position is one and because there is a lack of humility, because there is a lack of gentleness, because there is a lack of patience, because there is a lack of forbearance with each other you are living outside of your identity and consequently, Paul tells the Corinthians, you are already defeated. You may have a great budget, you may have a lot of talent, you may have a lot of gifted people but because acrimony has gotten to such a high level the defeat is already there.
And one of the sad things to study in church history is how churches divide. You would think that a church split or a church division of some kind takes place over some great doctrinal issue, someone in authority is denying the virgin birth of Christ… well, if that’s happening then there should be some division, shouldn’t there. But that’s not really how it works in most churches. It’s people not getting their way over a preference…I prefer things this way. Now the Bible doesn’t say it should be this way or that way concerning a number of issues, does it? Color of carpeting, length of the sermon, amen! [Laughter]
I mean, there’s just a lot of things in the Bible that we don’t have specific revelation on, yet people will want to go to war over some minor thing because they’re not getting their way. And that’s just the old sin nature, that’s the flesh working its way into circumstances and that’s what defeats churches, that’s what defeats businesses, that’s what defeats organizations, that’s what defeats nations. And that’s why Antiochus IV had such “easy pickings” if you will, of the Ptolemies in the south.
As we move from verse 26 down into verse 27 we sort of see the aftermath of this. It says, “As for both kings, their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table; but it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time.” What would happen is the aftermath is the warfare really wouldn’t be decisive; the conflict would continue. And so what would have to happen is the two sides, the north and the south, would have to sit down and enter into agreements and treaties with each other. And that’s what started to get put on the table, agreements, peace treaties. In fact, that’s how you entered into treaties in the Ancient Near East, you sat down around the same table and shared a meal together; that’s exactly what Daniel is seeing here in verse 27 when he talks about the two being with “each other at the same table.”
And yet both parties really weren’t interested in peace. What they were interested in is using the negotiating process, the treaty process, as a way of gaining advantage over the other side. They probably seemed very solemn and sincere and ceremonious when they sat down with each other but the reality of the situation is neither side, the north nor the south, was all that interested in it. Daniel sees this when he sees the kings in this treaty situation, verse 27, still intent on evil.
And notice this here, “speaking lies to each other….” This is why the treaty, the end of verse 27, would not succeed, it would not be effective; the two sides were insincere. And today we see that same sort of thing, don’t we, with the Middle East negotiations. I remember when Yasser Arafat, the head of the PLO, Palestine Liberation Organization, was alive; he would come to the United States of America and he would say we, as the Palestinians, want peace with the nation of Israel. And of course the western press would absorb that, would trumpet that, and yet when Yasser Arafat went back to his own land, speaking in Arabic, he said something entirely different and you would not know this unless you picked it up through outside sources. But he would say what I really mean by peace with Israel is the eradication of Israel; once Israel is eradicated there will be no one left to fight with and we will have what? We’ll have peace. Total duplicity! Total insincerity!
And this of course, is compounded by the fact that under Islamic theology, Islamic doctrine, there is a principle called Taqiyya, which allows you to lie to advance the cause; the cause of what? The cause of Caliphate. What is Caliphate? It is worldwide domination under Sharia law. As long as you are advancing that cause you can lie right through your teeth. And what a disadvantage it is for someone with a western worldview, someone with an art of the deal mindset, someone who doesn’t really understand that the other side is acting out of insincerity, what a disadvantage it is for that person with a western mind to think that they can somehow solve this peace problem.
It reminds me very much of Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler and the agreement they entered into, and how Neville Chamberlain came back and waved this treaty saying peace in our times. And the ink was hardly dry on the piece of paper before the Furor, Adolf Hitler, violated the treaty and did exactly what he promised he would not do. You see, that is the situation in the Middle East; that is the situation under Islam. That is the situation under Taqiyya law, the principle Sharia law. It’s completely different than a business deal, completely different than building a hotel or a tower or whatever it is you’re used to building because you’re used to dealing with people who are operating in good faith. That’s not how it works in the Middle East.
And that’s not how it worked at all in the days of Antiochus IV. That’s why these treaties would never last, because neither side was very sincere in what they promised to do. That is a tremendous description and prefigurement of the coming antichrist as we have studied in Daniel 9:27, who will launch the seven year tribulation period itself by entering into a covenant with the many, Israel, for one week or seven years. That’s what starts the tribulation period itself after the church has been removed from the earth, as we’ve studied. And what does the rest of the prophecy say, “but in the middle of the week” three and a half years, “he” that’s the antichrist, “will put a stop to sacrifice and offering.” [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]
This is, in fact, the very thing that God is going to use to awaken the nation of Israel to the fact that your Messiah is not the antichrist you think he is; your Messiah actually came 2,000 years ago and it’s going to take a jolt of this magnitude to awaken Israel out of her slumber and out of her unbelief being betrayed. She will be betrayed three and a half years in. Isaiah 28:15, of this treaty with antichrist, between antichrist and Israel, God says this the moment Israel enters it: “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact….” You think you’re getting a good deal here; you’re thinking your problems are solved. And in fact, you’ve just entered into a treaty, as Neville Chamberlain did in the past, with hell itself.
And isn’t it interesting how God has to put us through things like this to get us to wake up. We have such a tendency as fallen human beings to put our trust and our faith in virtually anything but God. I’ll trust in my talents, I’ll trust in my bank account, I’ll trust in my community standing, I’ll trust in whatever I have to trust in and what does God start to do? He starts to remove those things, doesn’t He. Have you noticed that God is really good at removing the things we trust in other than Him? Have you noticed that in your life? He just starts to kick things away. He lets us, in a certain sense, bottom out. And we get to a point in desperation where we say I don’t have anybody to trust in or anything to trust in any more other than God. And the moment God hears that He’s smiling from ear to ear because that’s what He was after the whole time. He realized it; we didn’t realize it so He’s got to take us through a season of chastening to get us to come to our senses. That basically is what is going to have to happen to the nation of Israel. This is what is prefigured in verse 27 concerning the insincerity of both sides.
We move into verse 28 and we get more information about this. It says, “Then he,” that’s Antiochus IV, “will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land.” Antiochus IV got what he was looking for in this initial battle and he left with many spoils of war, went from the south back to the north with many spoils of war. Daniel saw this very thing happening, that’s at the beginning of verse 28. And yet as he made his way back from the north, back to the south, he revealed his true motives towards the Jewish people, the Hebrews. He revealed what was really in his heart towards, as the text says, the people of the covenant because remember the people of the covenant were living for this time period in between those two armies. The king of the north had a slightly upper hand and so he came back from Egypt and the south and made his way back into Syria, which was under his control, and Daniel sees him at this time revealing what he really thinks about the nation of Israel, the people of the covenant.
Verse 28 says he paused in his return long enough to plunder the temple and to kill many Jewish people. That plundering and killing of many Jewish people is recorded for us in a historical source called 1 Maccabees which we, as Protestants do not accept as inspired; we do not accept it as canonical but it contains a lot of information in it related to how Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled 400 years later, after Daniel had them.
Maccabees, chapter 1, verses 20-25 says this: “ And Antiochus, after he had smitten Egypt, returned in the one hundred and fifty-third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great army.  And in (his) arrogance he entered into the sanctuary, and took the golden altar, and the candlestick for the light, and all its accessories,  and the table of the shewbread, and the cups, and the bowls, and the golden censers, and the veil, and the crowns, and the golden adornment on the façade of the Temple, and he scaled it all off.  Moreover, he took the silver, and the gold, and the choice vessels; he also took the hidden treasures which he found.  And having taken everything, he returned to his own land. ‘And there was great mourning in Israel in every place.”’
He went in and he committed sacrilege in the sense that he took the things that God said were holy and he showed no respect for those things. Immediately our minds should go back to what Nebuchadnezzar did; he did the same thing did he not? Daniel 1, he took the choicest vessels right out of the temple as the Jews were taken into captivity in the days of Daniel, and how did that end up? God had to deal with Nebuchadnezzar in a very aggressive way, didn’t He, to bring him to his senses, Daniel 4. And his son, Belshazzar, his heir, his descendant, the last reigning king of Neo-Babylonia, took those vessels and used them in an alcohol related party, if you will. He took what was holy to God and used them as instruments of alcohol at a pagan party and Daniel, the aged prophet at that point is summoned to read the handwriting on the wall and the message that appeared that very night is this night your kingdom will be divided and you will be killed.
It is a dangerous thing to treat as common what God says is holy. Now we just got finished with the communion table, did we not; study 1 Corinthians 11 sometime, study the discipline that God brought into that flock. He says, “For this reason” some of you are sick and some of you have fallen asleep, which is a euphemism for death. [1 Corinthians 11:30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”] And what were they doing? They were basically taking the communion table, something that’s sacred and holy with its elements and they were turning it into just a common meal. In fact, some were even showing up, if you can imagine this, in a state of inebriation they had such little concern for the holy things of God. And they developed what I would call a “pay for play” operation where if you’re rich you get to participate, if you don’t have enough money, you don’t have resources, you don’t get to participate and so they were creating at division in the church, that God never created, between the rich and the poor. And Paul makes this statement, “For this reason” some of you are sick and some of you have fallen asleep.
What do we learn from the Bible? Taking something that is holy and treating it as profane puts you (with God) on thin ice. It’s a precarious thing. And for Antiochus the bottom hadn’t fallen out yet on his life. He was doing just fine as far as man’s opinion of success and prosperity is concerned and yet, as we’re going to study beginning in verse 29, the ice was already melting beneath his feet because of his attitude towards the holy things of God.
There’s a lot of people that are so cavalier about God, cavalier about the Bible, I can take it or leave it; cavalier about church. You know, a lot of people wouldn’t even treat their worst enemies the way they treat people in God’s church, and treat the things of God. And I think at some point we hear so many messages on the grace of God that we need to, at a certain point, think about the holiness of God and how the tabernacle had to be put together exactly like God said in the Book of Exodus. And you get into the Samuel books and one of those tabernacle workers simply touched it wrong and he was killed just like that. I mean, we don’t hear messages like this in church anymore; we hear about the love of God and there’s plenty to say about that, and I praise God for His love and His grace, I’m glad I’m in it. But there’s a reason I need the grace of God because of the holiness of God and the basic disrespect that men have for the things of God.
And it’s interesting that the bottom didn’t drop out immediately on Antiochus IV. In fact, after he took action he returned to his own land, probably thought nothing of it. And yet isn’t it interesting how God kept a record? Isn’t it interesting how long God’s memory is? Isn’t it interesting how people that push the envelope with God, who have long forgotten about God, God remembers. And what began to materialize, verses 29-31 is really the direction that the whole chapter has been pushing us towards this point in time. Antiochus IV got the bighead. He won round one so why not just win round two; let’s go for the whole jugular and let’s desecrate the temple itself. And that becomes the subject of Daniel’s prophecies in verses 29-31.
Notice what verse 29 says. “At the appointed time” so several years have passed, Antiochus may have even forgotten about a lot of the things that he did recorded in 1 Maccabees and yet God never forgot. “At the appointed time he will return” see that, “and come into the South,” Antiochus IV launched another attack against the Ptolemies of Egypt in the south and I want you to notice very carefully what verse 29 says, it says, “but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before.” See, the second round, the Ptolemy brothers, the rival dynasty, they had patched up their differences and now they’ve put on a united front. And there was something else bubbling to the surface that you discover in Daniel’s prophecies that Antiochus IV probably didn’t think about and that’s the rise of Rome. Rome now, in Daniel’s prophecies, that fourth empire is now rising and is going to act as sort of a buffer, if you will, on Antiochus IV. The rivalry in the south is gone and Rome is rearing itself on the horizon and consequently Daniel sees the tide turning and he specifically says that this last time it will not turn out the way it turned out before.
Notice how precise these prophecies are. That’s why I’ve entitled this message The Precision of Prophecy. Daniel predicts, under the Holy Spirit, a victory for Antiochus IV, verses 25-28, then he predicts a defeat beginning in verse 29. Daniel doesn’t say, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there’s going to be two defeats, two victories; he doesn’t even say first there’s going to be a defeat, then a victory. The order is very clear, there’s going to be a victory and then a defeat. Think mathematically the odds of getting that right. It’s not a defeat then a victory; it’s not two defeats, not two victories, but you’re going to have a victory and then a defeat.
It reminds me very much of what Jesus said in Matthew 26:34 concerning Peter. “Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”’ Not once, not twice, not four times, not five times, not ten times, not even seven times, I thought seven was the biblical number, but three times. And how that prophecy, that very night was accomplished just like God said.
This is one of the great things that I so appreciate about the subject of Bible prophecy is its precision, its exactness. You think of Micah 5:2, written 700 years in advance, we just emerged from the Christmas season, we thought about Micah 5:2, how Micah predicted the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem. [Micah 5:2, “‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.’”] You would think it would be Jerusalem, wouldn’t you. No, it’s not going to be Jerusalem, it’s going to be a little city two miles to the south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Micah says it’s going to be Bethlehem Ephrathah, to distinguish that Bethlehem from a totally different Bethlehem in Galilee. You mean the nation of Israel had two cities of Bethlehem? At least two! You can go across America today, don’t we see that, many cities have the same name, I can think of several. That’s what’s happening in tiny Israel. God said it’s not going to be in Galilee, it’s going to be down here near Jerusalem and it’s not even going to be in Jerusalem despite the prominence of Jerusalem in Old Testament times; it’s going to be Bethlehem Ephrathah.
Think of getting that right 700 years in advance. And people today are so impressed with Jeanne Dixon, Nostradamus; in fact, the things that they say are so generic and vague when you look at their writings that virtually anything could qualify as a fulfillment. Do you realize that there were 109 prophecies about Jesus Christ given hundreds and thousands of years in advance? And all 109 were fulfilled with precision.. exact! What are the odds of that? I don’ t know. Eventually you have so many zeroes in your equation the satiations call it specifically not improbable, impossible.
I’m reminded of the work of Peter Stoner, the statistician, an evangelical Christian to my understanding, he was trying to figure out what would the chances be of not 109 but just 8 prophecies, just 8, let’s narrow it down a bit, what are the odds of the 8 prophecies about Jesus coming to pass in His first coming. What are the odds of that. He says well here’s what you can analogize it to; you can cover the great state of Texas, which we’re all in, several feet deep with silver dollars and you can take one silver dollar and mark it with a red X and deposit it anywhere you want in the state of Texas, filled several feet deep with silver dollars, and then blindfold a man and send him out and let him rummage through the coins over the whole state and let him just randomly put his hand down and pull up the coin with the red X on it. That is the impossibility, if I can use that expression, of 8 prophecies, not even to mention 109, 8 prophecies coming to pass accidentally, coincidentally or randomly.
And man, in his arrogance looks at God and says God, you just haven’t given me enough proof of this whole Christianity thing. I mean, how much do you need? If you’re not going to be convinced with that I would say this: nothing will convince you. But God needs to do this… I had a guy in law school, I was trying to share the faith with him, why doesn’t God just write in the sky, I’m God, I’m up here? And my answer to that was He already has written in the sky, called natural revelation. The fact that you exist, the fact that there are no two snowflakes the same, the fact that no two fingerprints are the same, in a world of six to seven billion people no two people are the same, everybody’s personality is different, the fact that your heart is beating and your lungs are working and you look at, as David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” [Psalm 139:14, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”]
You look at the majesty of the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the cardio vascular system, and you look at how this world orbits around the sun at just the right length, I mean, think if were just a few degrees off here, we burn to death or we freeze to death. Now we may feel like we’re freezing to death lately but the weather will be better tomorrow and if not tomorrow the next day. Just give it enough time.
Why is it that we’re orbiting around the sun at exactly the right distance to sustain life. Why is that? And this guy is telling me why doesn’t God just write in the sky? What else do you want God to do? I’m just giving a few proofs for the truth that God exists and that He has spoken to man, prophecy being one of those many, many proofs.
But things are going to be different this time. Look at verse 30, “For ships of Kittim” now the “im” ending in Hebrew indicates plurality, it’s like our letter “s.” For ships of Kittim will come against him;” most people understand the “ships of Kittim” as Rome. In fact, the LXX, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament created a couple hundred years before Christ, in many of its versions translated in Daniel just puts the word Rome right in there. Who were Kittim? You’ll find a reference to them in Genesis 10:4, they were the sons of Jephthah, (I think better pronounced Jap-eth, there’s another guy named Jephthah, I don’t want to confuse those two.) [Genesis 10:4, “The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim.”] Descendants of Japheth, Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, who would end up living in the islands of the Mediterranean. Most people understand that as an early manifestation of the power of Rome.
And this is what Antiochus didn’t count on. He didn’t count on Rome; he also didn’t count on a unified Egypt. It says, verse 30, “…therefore he will be disheartened and will return….” Rome, in essence, stops Antiochus IV from conquering Egypt. Why is that? Rome was smart, they didn’t want a unified empire in the Middle East. It was much better for them if there was two factions. As long as they’re fighting each other they’re not fighting us. Sadly that’s how foreign policy works many times. It’s in the best interest of nations to keep them at war with each other. After all, Jesus Himself, did He not, say “a house divided against itself can’t” what? “can’t stand.” [Mark 3:25, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
And so Rome intervened; Rome actually sent a representative named Caius Popilius Lenas to Egypt with soldiers. Now Antiochus IV, what we know about him, as a younger man had actually spent time in Rome. So he had, what I would say, a healthy respect, a healthy appreciation for the Roman Empire and he understood that Rome was really not somebody or an entity that he wanted to tangle with. And in fact, there was a very famous historical scene that took place between Rome and Antiochus IV. Charles Pfeiffer, in his book Between the Testaments, records it as follows: “In a famous scene outside of Alexandria the Roman envoy demanded that Antiochus, before he stirred from a circle drawn around him in the ground, promised to evacuate Egypt, with dreams of grandeur suddenly dissipated Antiochus IV turned back in bitterness.”
What did Rome do? They said let’s have a little conversation, shall we? Let’s have a little fellowship time; what we’re going to do is we’re going to draw a circle around you in the dirt and you’re not going to leave that circle until you make us a promise. And we’re bigger than you and we can make you do these things; you’re going to evacuate, you’re going to send everybody back home. And that’s what Antiochus IV was coerced to do. This is what Daniel is seeing 400 years in advance when it says, “therefore he” that’s Antiochus IV “will return,” return where? Return back to Syria where he came from, “yet” the verse goes on, verse 30, “and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action.” What did this do? The only thing it did with Antiochus IV is it made him angry. It made him mad, it embittered him further and he never gave up his plan, he never gave up his agenda, or his dreams, if you will, for military conquest. So he has to take his anger out on somebody, doesn’t he?
See, this is the problem with angry people. If you’re angry over something that happened 20, 30, 40 years ago… you know, people come in for counseling and they say I’m bitter about something and you think it’s something that happened last week the way they talk. And you start to probe a little bit they’re mad about something that happened thirty, forty years ago; they’ve got an angry spirit. They’ve disobeyed the Bible. What does the Bible say? “Do not let the sun go down on your” what? “anger.” That’s why I’ve always wanted to move to Alaska. [Laughter]
But we are not to be people of bitterness because if you’re a bitter person, let me tell you something about anger, it is going to vomit and upchuck on somebody. The human mind, the human psyche is… we are not designed by God to hold onto anger so it will come out. And sadly what happens is it comes out on an innocent party, it comes out on your spouse, it comes out on your kids, and this is why the Bible says if you let the sun, Ephesians 4, go down on your anger you give the devil a what? A foothold.
Right now, as I speak, Satan is using all kinds of Christians to create all kinds of havoc. Do you know why? Because they’re just angry and they’re taking that anger out on an innocent party and Satan is having a field day.
You say well, pastor, what’s the answer. Is it 10,000 hours of therapy sessions? It’s a very simple answer to this; it’s in Ephesians 4, you forgive as you have been what? Forgiven. [Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”] But you don’t know what they did to me? I don’t know what they did to you but I know what “HE” did for you and I know this much, HE has made a decision not to treat you with justice. He has decided to treat you with grace. So we turn around and we want to treat everybody with justice. That’s why we’re angry all the time, because we don’t understand grace. We may understand it intellectually but we don’t walk it out.
Now didn’t Jesus talk about this in a parable? Matthew 18? Didn’t He talk about a guy that owed somebody… I don’t know, a trillion dollars and the debt is forgiven? [Matthew 18:23, “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.  When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’  And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.]
Then he found a fellow, the guy that had everything forgiven found a guy that owed him, like ten bucks, and he had him thrown in debtors prison. That’s intellectually, philosophically, spiritually what we are like when we are harboring anger towards another person. Do you understand this? Do we understand it? We have no right to do that in God because we have been treated with grace. And if you start this year, 2018, treating people with grace… you say well, they don’t deserve it, neither do you! That’s why it’s called what? GRACE! Unmerited favor!
Watch this very carefully, you start to treat people in 2018… I’m not even talking about actions, I’m talking about attitudes. You know, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says you can commit murder without physically doing anything; in your mental habits the people that injured you, and I have no doubt that’s happened, that’s part of living in a fallen world, in your mental habits you start to think of them in gracious terms and your actions will quickly follow and this longstanding anger that’s been simmering inside of you, do you know what’s going to start to happen? It’s going to start to dissipate, you’re going to get to the end of 2018 disciplining your mind this way and you’re just going to say to yourself, what did they do to me again, I don’t remember. I don’t remember what the big deal was, because you’re operating on the basis of grace.
We are very scary people when we’re angry. I remember my father used to tell me that, he would call it a temporary form of insanity. Insanity overtakes the best of people simply because of anger. And that’s what you have here with Antiochus IV, he was angry. He won round 1, he wanted to win round 2 and the road blocks came up. So he’s got to vent on somebody. The problem is he vented on the wrong people. It says, he will “become enraged at the holy covenant and take action,” Daniel 11:30, “so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.”
He went back into Israel with a violent rage. In fact, at this time there was a rumor circulating that Antiochus had died and there was sort of a political upheaval because of it, because Syria was ruling over Israel at this time; there was what we would call a minor rebellion and he did not like that minor rebellion. He did not like the fact that he had been pushed back because of the power of Rome. He did not like the fact that he had been pushed back because of the united forces of Egypt and he went into Israel trying to get re-control of his empire, trying to get the upper hand on the colonies and he killed tens of thousands of Jewish people in the process. That’s what Daniel is seeing and yet some of those who had no loyalty to God in the land of Israel cited with Antiochus IV. The end of verse 30 says, “so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.”
And you see, this is what happens to people when they’re aligned with something outside of a relationship with God. They’re aligned with a cause. They’re aligned with a party. They’re aligned with an ideology. If you’re not going to have a relationship with God you’ve got to fill that gap with something and what will happen is you will betray that cause very rapidly to the highest bidder. You have a lot of unregenerate people in the land of Israel, Jewish by rote, Jewish by ritualism, Jewish by tradition, no relationship with God at all. And many of these folks simply jumped ship and aligned them with Antiochus IV.
Verse 31, I’m not going to get there but he’s going to do something unspeakable. I mean, you thought what he did in verse 28 was bad, wait till you see verse 31. And the moment that happened God said that’s it! You know, God is so gracious with rebels but you reach a point of your rebellion where you even exhaust the patience of God Himself.
Genesis 6:3, God says, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is mortal, nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” He’s got a hundred and twenty years and that’s it! The flood is coming. And I’m just wondering how many people here, how many people listening have just been pushing the grace of God, postponing what God says to do in terms of salvation. Oh, I’ll do it next year, or the year after that. Well, if I’m reading my Bible correctly the Bible says today “is the day of salvation.” [2 Corinthians 6:2, “for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION “]
Why would you gamble like that? Why would you gamble with a Holy God? Why would you gamble with eternity? The Holy Spirit has come into the world to convict us of our need to trust Christ. That’s what He does, and if the Spirit of God is placing anybody under conviction within the sound of my voice, the strongest, the wisest exhortation we could possibly give is to respond, by way of faith, to that voice of the Spirit by trusting in Christ as Messiah. Trust Jesus for what He did in your place through His death, burial and resurrection. Receive what He has done as a free gift. And you can enter 2018 with the freshest start a human being could have, a newfound relationship with God. It’s something you can do even as I’m talking; it’s not something you must raise a hand to do, join a church to do, walk an aisle to do. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord when you trust in Him and Him alone for salvation. If it’s something that you need more information on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we are grateful for these ancient prophecies and how they speak to our own time and day; they give us reality and speak of things yet to come. Make us good stewards of these things as we walk with You this week. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.