Friday, March 20, 2020




Modern scholarship generally sees in this chapter the wars between the Seleucids (north) and Ptolemaic (south) kings, culminating in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. However, this misses the tenor of the book as a whole, and the parallelism between this chapter and earlier ones. While there is little symbolism in the chapter, it still is difficult to identify distinctly all the historic references. Certain parts of the chapter are well recognized, others less so.

In preparation for this week's lesson, it should be admitted that sincere Christians have different interpretations and that humility is important. In reading Daniel 11, there are two dangers we need to avoid. One is to ignore the chapter due to its perplexity; the other is to be dogmatic in claiming to have the only understanding of every detail in the chapter.

For example, one main question that Seventh-day Adventist interpreters must answer is, "When does Imperial Rome enter into the prophecy?" In answer to that question, the SDA Bible Commentary and Mervyn Maxwell say Rome appears in verse 14. R. A. Anderson and William Shea argue for verse 16. Jacques Doukhan gives verse 4 as Imperial Rome's entrance. A second question is, "When does the papacy become central?" Doukhan suggests in verse 5. Maxwell argues that the papacy is central in verses 21-45, with the SDA Bible Commentary and Anderson arguing for its entrance in verse 31. Discerning between these dedicated scholars and their positions calls for humility.

Several principles can assist in the study of the chapter. First, it seems evident that the chapter is not using symbols as in the rest of the book, but the rubric of kings. There are no beasts or metals, simply a reference to kings. Second, verse 2 focuses on four kings of Persia, and verse 3 introduces Alexander the Great. This can be seen by comparing with Daniel 8:8. The four kings represent the breakup of that kingdom, and the following battles between the king of the north and the king of the south refer to various Syrian wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.

Third, the Messiah's death is indicated in 11:22. The word for prince, nagid is used in 9:25-26. Therefore we have a verbal thread connecting the prince of the covenant, with the Messiah. We can thus conclude that Rome must enter before this verse. Fourth, there is the removal of the daily (11:31; 8:11). The papacy is involved in this activity (however the daily is understood), and thus must appear either with this verse, or shortly before. Fifth, the marker 'time of the end' (11:40), points to a period that begins with the fall of the papacy in 1798. (This expression appears in Dan. 8:17; 11:35, 40; 12:4, 9). Thus, the events after this verse are between that event, and the resurrection mentioned in 12:2.

Sixth, since the resurrection described mentions some going to eternal life and others to eternal damnation, this cannot be the general resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) nor the one at the end of the 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4-6). It must be a special resurrection and would occur around the time of the 7th plague (Revelation 16:17-18). All other historical events must fall into this general outline. The above points give us a general outline of the chapter, to which most people can agree.

In verses 44, 45 there appear to be events that draw history to a close. The King of the North, here represented by the papacy goes forth to destroy and annihilate many, reminding the reader of the death decree in Revelation 13. Tidings from the east and the north bring to mind God's deliverance of His people (Isaiah 41:25; 42:1; Revelation 7:2; 16:12; cf. Revelation 18:1-3). He will finally come to his end, with none to help him (Revelation 17:16). This introduces the next great event, Michael standing up, which indicates the beginning of His reign (Daniel 12:1-2; Revelation 11:15-18).

While every detail may not be clearly understood, the flow of the chapter can be grasped. God is not interested in war, for war's sake. The chapter highlights for us the reality of the great controversy, and that the battles taking place on earth are only a reflection of the war that began in heaven. Which side will we choose to be on today?

~Steven Grabiner