Summary: Daniel 11 is an amazing chapter. The first 35 verses were future for Daniel, but are history for us. The last 10 verses were future for Daniel and are still future for us! What this means for us and how can we apply it to our lives today.
In 1968, a new comedy television show made its debut. It was “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” In 1993, they presented a 25-year anniversary of the show, showing clips from some of the early episodes. One of the regular features was called “News from the Future,” in which two futuristic news anchormen acted as though they were reporting news from decades in the future. It was meant as a spoof and they tried to be as funny and as outlandish as possible. However, there were two things they “predicted” with humor that actually came true! They forecast in 1968 that actor Ronald Reagan had been elected president of the U.S. And in another segment they reported the Berlin Wall had fallen. Even in their attempt at humor, these two predictions have come true. Even false prophets are right some of the time. Someone said, “A broken clock is right twice a day.” But God’s prophets are correct 100% of the time, as we shall see in Daniel 11.
Daniel chapters 10-12 make up one final climactic prophecy. It actually is a clarification and a simplification of the earlier visions Daniel received. In chapter 7 Daniel had a dream of four animals, each representing a kingdom. In chapter 11, there are no statues or animals. The prophecy is shared in a straightforward uncomplicated way. The angel makes it clear he is talking about kings and kingdoms. The eleventh chapter can be divided into two sections.
I. PROPHECY FULFILLED—OUR HISTORY
The first 35 verses of this chapter deal with the world events that would occur during the almost 500 years before Jesus was born. For Daniel, writing in 530 B.C. it was prophecy but for us, today, it is history. Let’s scan the high points of this chapter:
1. (2-4) The Persian/Greek Wars
Daniel 11:2-4: “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will appear [Alexander the Great], who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.”
Four more kings would rule Persia after Cyrus, and the fourth would be the richest–this is Xerxes, the great king who married Esther. The “mighty king” who would stand up is Alexander the Great. After his death, there were no heirs to take the throne. He actually had an illegitimate son, a brother, and an infant son by his wife, but all were soon murdered after his death and of course, as you know, his kingdom was divided between his four generals. Two of those four, Ptolemy and Seleucus will continue to be the topic of the next few verses of chapter 11. All this occurred precisely as the angel predicted through Daniel!
2. (5-20) The North vs. South (Egypt / Syria)
This is not talking about our Civil War, in which the North and the South fought each other! But from the perspective of Israel, the kingdom to the North was Syria under the control of Seleucus and his descendents and the Kingdom to the South was Egypt under Ptolemy’s reign and those who followed him. For nearly 300 years these two kingdoms fought against each other and poor Israel was right in the crossfire! When Egypt attacked Syria, they had to go through Israel; when Syria attacked Egypt, they traveled through Israel.
History confirms the accuracy of the predictions Daniel gives about this ongoing conflict. When you study the history books, it almost reads like a modern soap opera. For instance, look at verses 6-7: “After some years they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her. One from her family line will arise to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious.”
History tells us this Egyptian-Syrian alliance took place in 250 B.C. Here’s “the rest of the story.” Ptolemy II offered to give his daughter, Berenice, to Antiochus II, the grandson of Seleucus but her father, Ptolemy II, demanded Antiochus first divorce his current wife, Laodice, which Antiochus did. Of course, this made Laodice angry (hell hath no fury like a woman scorned). However, after only two years of marriage, Berenice’s father died back in Egypt, so Antiochus quickly remarried Laodice, and declared Berenice a concubine. However, Laodice was carrying a mighty grudge toward her husband, because he ditched her for the younger Berenice. Soon after their remarriage, Laodice poisoned Antiochus and then killed Berenice, her child, and her entourage. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Berenice’s brother became the new king and when he heard of his sister’s murder, he invaded Syria, killed Laodice, and beat up on Syria. (I told you it sounds like a soap opera!) But all this happened exactly as Daniel prophesied.