The People who Know Their God (Daniel Sermon 16 of 17)
April 08, 2001 | Andy Davis
I. Knowing God
The age we live in is an age which is characterized in many respects, by an insatiable thirst for knowledge. The other day I was driving by the prison down here and there was a Channel 17 news truck there. Have you see those news trucks with the big kind of boom that goes, I don't know how they work but there's an antenna and cords and wires, and there was a woman coming out with a microphone, they were getting ready for some kind of on-the-spot news. I remember when I was growing up news was just somebody sitting behind the desk reading and now it's just any time anything goes on, we want to be there and see it, isn't it true? And that's the whole basis of CNN. If there's anything going on anywhere in the world, whether it's a house fire or a major war or anything in between, CNN will bring it to you or local news will bring it to you and you will know about it, because you need to know, and that's why you tune in. And so we have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, we see that with the internet, you can tie in instantly to databases all around the world. You can know anything you need to know. The whole issue is you never have quite enough time to do all the research and the thought and you never realize that you just spent six and a half hours scanning through and surfing the internet. But that's what we're willing to trade six hours just so we can know some things we didn't know before.
A question I want to ask this morning is knowledge a good thing? Is knowledge a good thing? Well Spurgeon dealt with this issue and he said, "Well, let me ask you, is air a good thing? Yes, you can't live without it but noxious or poisonous air can kill you. Is food a good thing? Yes, you can't live without it but the decaying meat that they removed from the market yesterday would kill you. Is water a good thing? Yes, water sustains our physical existence but poisoned water from an old well can kill you. And so it is with knowledge, knowledge is essential to our lives, even to our eternal life. But there is a kind of knowledge which like stagnant or poisoned water can kill the soul." Spurgeon said this, "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil stood in paradise when paradise was good," Mark that, "But it ruined paradise" Mark that too. So there is a kind of knowledge that is dangerous. And so what kind of knowledge should we crave? Well, I would recommend that we crave the very knowledge, we sang about earlier, knowing God, knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ. JI Packer in a book by that title, Knowing God, said this, "What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God."
John 17:3, "Now this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." And what is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, more delight and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God. Jeremiah 9, this is what the Lord says, "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts, boast about this, that he understands and knows me." Packer continues, he says, "What of all the states God ever sees man and gives him the most pleasure it is knowledge of himself." Hosea 6:6, "I desire knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." it is knowledge of God that brings delight to God when he sees that in us. Now, in our passage today, if you were to look at verse 32, Daniel 11:32, there's a group of people there right in the middle of this prophecy that are characterized this way. It says the people who know their God shall be strong and do great things. There's different translations to that verse, but I think that's the best one. The people who know their God shall be strong and do great things, the people who know their God.
The Context of the People
Now they lived in the context, the people referred to here in Daniel 11 were a specific group of Jews who lived a certain time. And we'll find out about that as we go on this morning. Their context was that Gentile kingdoms, Greek kings, were fighting back and forth over the promised land. Jewish people were suffering greatly under an anti-Christ figure, Antiochus Epiphanes. We'll learn more about him. And there were some Jewish heroes who defended their old covenant religion, even at the cost of their lives. They were willing to stand up and be counted for the Lord, they were willing, courageously to take on this man Antiochus and to lay down their lives. And who were they? They were people who knew their God, those were the ones who were strong and courageous, those were the ones who stood up and did great things. The people who knew their God, that's their context.
What is our context? Well, the American Church is characterized in many respects by strange ideas about God. And by a weakness, an inability to act or be courageous to stand firm for God in a culture which is questioning him, defying him and mocking him. There is weakness in the church. We don't stand firm, and we don't do great things. And that's because I think you root it back to a lack of knowledge of God. Jesus said to the Sadducees, "You're in error because you don't know the Scriptures or the power of God." We don't know God the way we should.
And there are strange theories abounding about God, his nature, his purposes, his intentions. How can we be sure that we're breathing pure air not noxious air? How can we be sure we're eating healthy meat not rancid meat? How can we be sure we're drinking pure water not water from the bottom of an abandoned well? Well, we know it through scripture and through Jesus Christ. Scripture alone gives us true knowledge of God and it can only be rightly interpreted through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, we've been looking through the book of Daniel at a God who reveals himself there. That is the God I want to... I want you to know, that is the God I want to preach, that is the God worth living for and worth knowing for. He is sovereign over world empires. He is mighty to rule over all of human history, he works through the events, great events and small events of human history to bring about his purpose and what is his purpose? It is an eternal kingdom, a kingdom which will never end into which he invites people from every tribe and language and people and nation. It is a kingdom of the everlasting life, through Jesus Christ. We're going to talk about that next week. Resurrection. Those who rise and shine like the sun for all eternity, Daniel 12.
But there's a kingdom that he's building and he's demonstrating his perfect knowledge and his sovereign power even in the pages of the book of Daniel. That God, the God of the book of Daniel, the God of Daniel, the one he prayed to and worshipped, that God is well worth knowing, he's worth fighting for, he's worth even dying for.
II. A Modern Heresy: The “God of the Possible”
But that God, the God of the book of Daniel is a God that Satan will fight against every step of the way and he's going to fight against the book of Daniel and he's going to fight against specific detailed prophecies in Daniel, he's going to lie about it and say that the events in chapter 11 are too detailed, too specific, the prophecy is too clear they must have been written after the fact. It's been said from the very time that people started thinking about the book of Daniel right up until our present day. And so Satan is going to attack this idea of a sovereign all-knowing, all-powerful God because he hates that being. It's the very one he rebelled against at the start.
And so we have some strange ideas about God floating out around there. There's a professor, very winsome likeable person named Greg Boyd. I've mentioned him before but I want to warn you, an under-shepherd, a good under-shepherd has to warn sheep about false teaching. And he's written a very popular book called The God of the Possible. The basic idea of the book is that God cannot specifically know the future, it's impossible for him to know. And why is that? Because human beings have absolute free will. Any decision they make, any idea that they have, anything they choose to do, they can do. And so, because their decisions are completely free God cannot possibly know them ahead of time. He is rather the God of the possible, whose sovereignty and power is so great that he can handle whatever we decide and still work around us to accomplish his ends. Does that sound like the God of the book of Daniel to you? But that's what's being taught.
Now in the chapter we're looking at here from verse 1-35 alone there are 135 specific, detailed prophecies about a period of history that most of us have never come close to studying, 135 specific prophecies. Let me ask you a question, do you think we're going to go through all 135 this morning? I'm sure some of you have lunch reservations at Bojangles' and you're not going to be able to stay. [laughter] So no, we're not going through all 135 specific prophecies. In one sense, it's a pity because you're not going to get the full power of the book of Daniel 11, unless you lay down verses 1-35 alongside a secular history of that age and see how many places they connect right on down the line. It's astonishing, I've been astonished. And I'd like to communicate my astonishment to you, but I don't have much time. So, I would urge you to study it for yourselves. But there's specific prophecies in here, and it totally rejects the idea of Greg Boyd's God, a God who cannot know in detail the future.
III. Summary of Chapter: History Written Ahead of Time
Now let's get our context here. Remember last week, the angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel after 21 days of fasting Daniel had... Didn't take any choice meats but my guess is that he just ate bread and water for 21 days, he was an old man in his 80s, and he was praying and God sent the angel to give him a revelation.
And so chapter 10, 11 and 12 are all that same time. It's the same revelation, the third year of Cyrus the Great, it's the end of Daniel's life. And so chapter 11 is a series of wars and all kinds of things that go on over the promised land, predictions of details. And then in chapter 12, the end of the matter, resurrection and eternal life, even for God's people. So it's all one kind of revelation. We talked about it, the beginning of it, last week and now we're going to look more specifically at it. Now if you would look at chapter 10 verse 14, he gives basically the topic of these revelations. Chapter 10 verse 14, the angel said to Daniel, "Now, I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future for the vision concerns a time yet to come." So the focus or the center of the prophecies are the Jewish people, the promised land, the city of Jerusalem, that's the center of what we're going to look at in chapter 11, 12. But we as Gentiles, we are grafted into a Jewish tree, it says in Romans 11. And so these things are also our things as well. And so we should be intensely interested in what is talked about here in chapter 11, chapter 12.
The Rule of Persia
Now in chapter 11, we got a focus on the holy land, that literal chunk of land that was promised to Abraham the promised land, and what's going to happen in a future time. Remember, future to Daniel. He lived about 550 so were talking several hundred maybe even 250 to 300 years after Daniel, predictions and prophecies about what happen. Now the chapter itself breaks into five major sections, the first section talks about the kings of Persia, that's verse 2, the second section, verse 3-4 talks about the king of Greece. We know who that is, Alexander the Great. And then the next section is about Egypt and Syria, up through verse 20, Egypt and Syria. The fighting between Greek kingdoms that goes on back and forth there.
The next section about this one Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes, who plays out in history the role of anti-Christ. He's not the anti-Christ, but he acts like him in history and so he gives a little dress rehearsal for the final anti-Christ who's described in the fifth section of this chapter. The final anti-Christ, the final Gentile ruler, who will be ruling when Jesus Christ returns on that white horse to end history. So that's the whole chapter. It's all laid out before you and he's spreading out history centered around Jerusalem and the promised land. Now look a little more carefully. We do not have time to read the whole chapter, as you can tell it's the lengthiest chapter in the book of Daniel but we're going to take little snapshots so that we have an understanding of what's here.
Look at verse 2, for example. This is the section on Persia it says, "Now then I will tell you the truth," he's speaking, the angel is speaking to Daniel, "Three more kings will appear in Persia." That's three more after Cyrus the Great, "And then a fourth who will be far richer than all the others and when he has gained power by his wealth he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece." So you can count off four kings from Cyrus the Great, and that one was Xerxes I. Xerxes gathered together a huge army. He was wealthier than any other king that had preceded him in the Persian Empire, and he threw it in a war against Greece. That really precipitated Alexander the Great coming back in reprisal afterwards. So this is all a matter of history, but this was written 250 years before it ever happened. So the fourth king after Cyrus the Great is going to be wealthy and he's going to gather together this army and he's going to fight against Greece.
Greece: Alexander the Great (vs. 3-4)
Now verses 3 and 4 talks about the next king, doesn't say he's Greek here but we know from history and from the earlier prophecies in Daniel that this is Alexander the Great, it can be no other. Look at verse 3, "Then a mighty king will appear 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." This is definitely Alexander the Great. He died at age 32 or 33, the height of his power, in a drunken feast in Babylon he died and he had no ancestor ready to take over the kingdom and so it was divided among his four top generals.
The Struggle of Greek Kings: South (Egypt/Ptolemies) vs. North (Syria/Seleucids) (vs. 5-20)
Now two of those generals were Ptolemy, spelled P-T-O-L-E-M-Y, in Egypt and Seleucus in Babylonia. Now I've given you a little map there in your bulletin. It's really kind of hard to follow chapter 11 without seeing the map. The Ptolemies were Greek rulers of Egypt. Remember that Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. And he built a city there in his name, remember what it's called? Still there to this day, Alexandria. So, they conquered down in Egypt and the Greeks were ruling down in that part of the world, including the promised land where the Jews lived.
In the northern section around the Tigris and Euphrates, the Fertile Crescent and Babylonia, that whole center section went to a general named Seleucus. So we have the Seleucids, the northern kingdom, and we have the Ptolemies, the southern Greek kingdom, we have the Syrians versus the Egyptians, do you see it? The northern kingdom's that kind of gray area, the southern, the cross-hatched area. Can you read it? You can see what's going on. These are the kings of the North and the kings of the South. And you won't understand Daniel 11 unless you see this map and understand what's going on. The kings of the North and the kings of the South were fighting each other, and they were both Greeks, they were all Greeks. And this shouldn't surprise us because this is the way Greece was. Greece was made up with a bunch of city-states Sparta and Athens and Macedonia that used to fight against each other. And so now they've just kind of exported it to the rest of the world. This is what they did. And so, there's this internal struggle going on. And they're warring and they're fighting over stuff.
We read this beautiful... I mean we sang this beautiful song, knowing you Jesus, it says,
"All I once held dear, built my life upon all this world reveres and wars to own, wars to own, all I once thought gain I have counted loss, spent and worthless now compared to this, knowing you Jesus, knowing you."
Well that's what these Seleucids and Ptolemies were fighting over stuff, power, materials, gold and silver and authority and fertile land, and all this kind of stuff. They're fighting over it, and that's been human history, hasn't it? That's what's been going on since the beginning of sin with Cain and Abel. And so there's this struggle, this fight going on, the kings of the North and the kings of the South, and they're warring over who's going to have the upper hand. Now in these verses we have amazing detail, verses 5-20. We can't go through it all, but you would derive tremendous benefit from looking at it. For example, a daughter given in marriage later assassinated, it's predicted and you can read about it either in the Bible 250 years ahead of time or you can read about it in history afterwards, but it's all right there.
And then we've got this regular pattern of the kings of the North basically triumphing over the kings of the South. The reason was the kings of the North had a greater power base. They had that Fertile Crescent in Babylonia, all that area up there. So they had economic wealth and therefore they always seemed to have the upper hand. One of the kings, Antiochus III, not Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but Antiochus III was the most successful military general. Initially he lost a battle that's predicted in here too but then in the end he gained the upper hand and just conquered that whole area. He was the most powerful militarily of this era, but then he got a little ambitious, he over-reached himself and he lost his kingdom. And why is that? Because as he reached too far west, he bumped into a new power that was rising in the West, who is it? Who started to rise and take over where the Greeks had taken over? It was Rome. This is right around the time that Rome starts to ascend in power. Look at verses 18 and 19, it's all predicted in there. It says, "He will turn his attention to the coastlands, and will take many of them but a commander... " is all it says, A general "will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him." verse 19, "After this he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but he will stumble and fall to be seen no more." Antiochus III the Great. And he's trimmed off by the Romans at this point.
The Little Antichrist: Antiochus IV Ephiphanes (vs. 21-35)
Now, verses 21-35, this is a focal point, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Now, who is Antiochus? He is the little horn of Daniel 8, he is the imitation anti-Christ. And so he's going to do things in his life, he's going to do things in the promised land that mimic what will happen later at the end of the world. He's acting it out in drama, Antiochus IV Epiphanes and we can read about it. We already saw him in Daniel 8:9-12 and chapter 8 again, 23-25, he's the little horn that grows up on the shaggy goat in that vision in Daniel 8. And what do we learn about it at that time. Well first, it would happen at the latter part of the Greek reign. In other words, once Antiochus is done pretty much the Romans take over. There's a little history after that but it's not long after that the Romans are in charge. And so it's at the latter part of the Greek reign and this man Antiochus IV is going to wage war on the Jews. There's going to be a time of religious persecution, the sacrifices will be stopped, many of the Jews will be slaughtered, and he, Antiochus IV, will be destroyed but not by human power. He will not be assassinated or poisoned, he will not die in battle, he's going to die in a remarkable way by the hand of God I think.
Now, if you look at more detail in verse 21-28, we see the rise and early success of Antiochus IV. Look at verse 21. It says, "He will be succeeded by a contemptible person." the contemptible person is Antiochus IV. "Contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure and he will seize it through intrigue." This is Antiochus' modus operandi, this is what he does. He's not a powerful military conqueror, he's more of a supreme politician. He's able to divide people by making alliances and by intrigue and by making plots, that's what he does. And so just when the kingdom feels secure he's able to worm his way in there and take power and take control. Now we see some military successes in verses 22-24. It says, that an overwhelming army will be swept away before him. Both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. Verse 23, "After coming to an agreement with him, He will act deceitfully." I mean that's just the way he does it, he makes an agreement and then he breaks it when it's convenient for him to do it, that's Antiochus. "After coming to an agreement with him he will act deceitfully and with only a few people he will rise to power." Verse 24, "When the richest provinces feel secure he will invade them. And will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses but only for a time."
So that's when he's doing well. He's ascending up, he's reaching the height of power and he's doing it militarily, but even more he's doing it through knowledge of politics. Divide and conquer, tricking people, working it through that way. His biggest successes of all are described in verses 25-28, it says, "With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him. His army will be swept away and many will fall in battle." Verse 27 is remarkable, "The two kings," now who is this? The king of the North and the king of the South, we've got the Syrian-Egyptian king... I mean Syrian-Greek king coming down, that's Antiochus IV and then we've got the Ptolemian king and they're sitting at one table. Verse 27.
The two of them are going to sit at one table and are going to try to work it out. "The two kings with their hearts bent on evil will sit at the same table and lie to each other but to no avail because an end will still come at the appointed time." So you got these two kings sitting a table and they're going to lie to each other. This was written 300 years before it happened. You know what I wonder? I wonder what God was thinking when the table was being built? When the Carpenter was building the table that they were going to sit at. It'd been predicted 300 years beforehand, all this. He didn't know what it was, it was just a table he's building, he built 30 that month. It's just another table. But it's the one that these two kings are going to sit at opposite sides of and lie to each other. And you're telling me God doesn't know the future. I mean, details about the future, the God of the possible. No, God knows everything before it happens in detail. Look at verse 27 again, the two kings are going to sit at opposite sides of the table and they're going to lie to each other but to no avail. And why to no avail? "Because an end will still come at the appointed time." Who's appointed time? God's appointed time. They can lie to each other all they want, they can make their schemes and plans. When God says it's over, it's over and not until.
This is the God of the book of Daniel. It's consistent, isn't it? Consistent picture of God who rules over great kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great and minor kings like this one, or these two. Verse 28, "The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country." We're going to talk about that. He's going to attack the holy covenant. But then in verse 29 and 30 we see something new, "At the appointed time," Circle that. "At the appointed time he will invade the South again." at who's appointed time? At God's appointed time. Do you see the picture again and again? God rules over these things. At the appointed time he will invade the south again. But this time the outcome will be different from what it was before.
Now look at this, it's remarkable. Verse 30, "Ships of Kittim," is what it literally says in Hebrew, NIV translates it, "Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him and he will lose heart then he will turn back." What is this? Well, he invades Egypt and he's doing well, he's kind of taking over the king of the South again and then out of nowhere come these ships and some troops land. It's a Roman commander. And Rome has had just about enough of this guy and they intervene.
It was a man, a commander named Popilius Lenas, and he comes down from Thessalonica with some ships. It's all a matter of history. You can read it. Daniel saw it 300 years ahead of time. And so the ships land and this commander comes and confronts Antiochus IV Epiphanes and he said, "You've got to go back to your home territory and stay there. You've got to go back to your home area and stay there." And Antiochus looked at him and with his little wheels turning, you know how he is, wheels turning, planning what he can do, he says to the Roman, "Well, I need to think about it." and he said, "Alright." so the Roman drew a sword and he drew a circle around Antiochus IV on the ground, he said, "You think about it as long as you want but you must decide before you leave that circle." Well, there's a threat there, isn't there? You decide now what you're going to do and if you decide to rebel we'll know it right now, we'll cut you down before you make it out of the circle. He forced the decision on him, he drew that circle around him and forced the decision and said, "You decide now." And if you want to take us on we're ready. Well, he lost heart and went back with his tail between his legs.
Antiochus’ Persecution of the Jews (vs. 30-35)
Well, a prideful guy like this isn't going to take that standing up and so he's going to go back and he's going to kick the dog at home, and that's what bullies do. He's going to go home and he's going to kick the dog, he's going to take it out on people who are defenseless, he's going to take it out on the Jews. He's angry, he's enraged and he's going to turn and he's going to vent his fury, verse 30, on the holy covenant. He's going to pour out his rage. Now he hated the holy covenant, why? Because he loved Greek culture and Greek religion, he loved the Greek gods, especially Zeus or Jupiter and he wanted all the people in his conquered land to follow his religion. The Jews would never do it, they had this temple and they had all these sacrifices, they had the old covenant, the whole thing that God had commanded them to do. And he is going to fight against them.
But he is going to do it his way. He's going to... Look at verse 30, "He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant." Do you see that? He's going to bribe some Jews and he's going to give them positions of authority, he's going to give them honor, titles, money if they'll turn their back on the holy covenant and sadly some of them do. He's going to divide politically, that's the... What he did. That's his approach. But he's also got armed forces and in verse 31, "His armed forces will rise to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation." It is at this point in history, December 168 BC, that Antiochus defiled the Holy of Holies. He set up a statue to Jupiter. We've talked about this before. And he sacrificed pigs in the Holy of Holies and used pigs' blood to defile the sanctuary and to kind of take it over for Greek religion.
Any of you who know anything about Greek temples know that there are also temple prostitutes, and he defiled it further in that manner. It was a horrendous scene, total defilement. The temple therefore became not a center of prayer for all nations and of holy sacrifices and worship, but a center of wickedness and sin and sadly some faithless Jews corrupted and... Were corrupted and defiled by the temptation in verse 32 it says, "With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant."
The Jews Who Knew God Resisted
But some Jews stood fast. And why? Because they knew their God, because they knew their God. You will not stand firm if you don't know your God. As long as culture, the surrounding culture is amenable to Christianity and times are easy and things are friendly, you can have a fake faith and make it through but not during times of persecution, you will not stand if you don't stand by faith. They knew their God, and they were willing to lay down their lives. Terrible persecutions came on, verse 33-35, "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 when they fall they will receive a little help and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end for it still comes at the appointed time." At the appointed time.
What is this talking about? The Maccabean revolt. There was a priest named Mattathias and he had five sons, the Maccabean family. They raised a banner of revolt and they started to fight against Antiochus IV. They were willing to risk their lives. One of them in one fight, Antiochus had elephants in his army, he got up under the elephant and stabbed it with a sword right up to the heart of the elephant. What do you think the elephant did after it was stabbed to the heart? Fell to the ground and crushed the man who did it. The courageous actions of these Maccabeans, the willingness they had to lay down their life for the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And they won many victories. And they were able to cleanse the temple. And so, the Jews celebrate Hannukah every year, the Feast of the cleansing and the dedication of the temple when it was taken back from Antiochus IV. But what happened to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, well he died. In 164 BC in fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 8:25, "He will be destroyed," it says, "But not by human power." He went down to a village near the temple of Elymais to plunder it and he was suddenly struck down by an illness. Said he would die but not by human hands. Struck down with an illness, he had severe abdominal pains that never left him coupled with intestinal worms and a terrible stench.
And he died with vain petitions to the God of Israel on his lips to spare his life, he died praying to the God of Israel. Can you believe that? And he died. And in his death, it leaves some verses in chapter 11 unfulfilled, doesn't it?
The Final Antichrist (vs. 36-45)
From verse 36 on is not fulfilled in the life of Antiochus and therefore it's referring to the anti-Christ, the future. You want to know what's going to happen? Read verses 36-45, because there is nothing in history that lines up with these verses. Verse 36, "The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed for what has been determined must take place." determined by who? Well determined by God at the right time. You see, God is sovereign even over the final anti-Christ. And when his time is over then Christ will come. Verse 37 is not true of Antiochus it says, "He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women nor will he regard any god but will exalt himself above them all." That's not true of Antiochus, he revered the god of his fathers. Jupiter and all the Greek pantheon of gods, he revered them. This one will not. He will reject all gods, anything that is called God and set himself up to be god in their place. This is none other than the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2. This is the anti-Christ.
He's going to honor them, verse 38, "with a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 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 we see this end time king rising up to power and he's going to dominate and he's going to be successful. And he's going to win militarily. He's going to win battles one after the other. Verses 40-45 talk about it, and remarkably, if you take that map I gave you and look, he's going to be running along the same coastlands up and down along the same area that the kings of the North and the kings of the South fought it out so long ago. It's the same area. It's going to be re-enacted at the end of the world. He's an end time king ruling powerfully over the nations, and he's going to succeed until his appointed end, days measured out by God himself. He's going to establish a false religion, exalting himself and glorifying himself above every god and in the end he will be defeated by Jesus Christ himself at the second coming.
IV. Application: “The people who know their God...”
Now, chapter 11 of Daniel is filled with incredible prophecies. We've only lightly touched on them. 135 specific prophecies, every one of them fulfilled except those which refer to the anti-Christ, the final ruler. And all of it, not only known meticulously ahead of time by God but determined, decreed and appointed by God. These are the words used again and again. Do you know this God? Is this the God you know? Is this the God you worship? A God with this kind of sovereign knowledge and power and control, even over minor kings and kingdoms. Do you know this God. JI Packer said, "The people who know their God have great energy for God, the people who know their God have great boldness for God, the people who know their God have great contentment in God, fearing nothing." The people who know their God, verse 32, shall be strong and do great things.
How Can We Know God?
Well, the question is how? How can we know this God? How do we know him? Well, we know him by scripture. You know him better now than before we started reading the book of Daniel. Just by reading scripture to know that God knew all this ahead of time, that's how you know. I printed out in your bulletin Acts 17:26. And Acts 17:26 explains very plainly what was going on here. This is a sermon that the Apostle Paul preached to the Greeks in Athens. And it says, "From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." He determined the time set for them and the exact places where they should live. Where do you live? United States lives between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. State of North Carolina has its boundaries to the North, Virginia, to the south, South Carolina. Who drew those lines? What does Acts 17:26 tell you? He determined the time set for them and the exact places where they should live. Do you know this God? A God who's this powerful, who knows this much. Is this the God you know?
Sovereign. The lines on the map move from generation to generation but all of them under his sovereign hand. Kings of the North fight the kings of the South and all of it under his sovereign hand. Is this the God you know? Verse 27, "The two kings with their hearts bent on evil will sit at the same table and lie to each other but to no avail because an end will come still at the appointed time." Is this the God you know? Verse 29, "At the appointed time he'll invade the South again." And even the anti-Christ's days are measured out. Verse 36, "He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place." Sovereign knowledge and control and power, supernatural prophecies meticulously weighed out. How in the world can Greg Boyd thesis be true that God has no knowledge of the future and the book of Daniel still be Scripture, it's impossible. But more than anything, do you know God's salvation plan? Because that's the core of what's going on here. You might say, who cares about kings of the North and kings of the South. Well, I think you ought to care, God cares.
But even more realize what is the big picture of the Book of Daniel. A kingdom which will never end. Not like these earthly kingdoms but the kingdom of Jesus Christ, a kingdom in which death itself has been conquered. We'll talk about that next week. A kingdom of his son, Jesus Christ, a kingdom for the Jew first but also for the Gentile, a kingdom centered in Jerusalem and the promises and the prophecies made to Abraham. And so how can we know this God? We know him through the king himself, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to reveal God. It says in John 1, "No one has ever seen God at any time but the only begotten God, the Son of God has made him known." By knowing Jesus Christ, you can have eternal life. Jesus came and this week we celebrate his atoning sacrifice on the cross. You can't just make up your mind to know this God you have to have your sin problem dealt with and that's fully paid for through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Do you know him today? Have you come to faith in Christ? Have you ever given your life to Jesus Christ? Do you know for certain that your sins are paid for? Have you ever yielded to him? It could be that you don't know for certain that your sins are forgiven. That you don't know for sure whether Jesus died for you or not. Can I urge you not to leave this sanctuary before you're certain that you have made a commitment to Jesus Christ. Popilius Lenas the Roman commander drew a circle around Antiochus IV and said you can think about as long as you want but don't leave that circle without making up your mind what you want to do. Well, I think God draws a circle around us today, and do you know what he calls it? He calls it today, that's what he calls it and he says, "If today you hear his voice don't harden your hearts." he also says, "In the time of my favor I heard you and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you now is the time of God's favor. Now, today is the day of salvation. Do you feel the circle drawn around you? Don't leave before you've made up your mind. Won't you close with me in prayer?