The Willful King (Daniel 11:36-45)
Daniel chapters 11 and 12 are unique in that they contain some of the most detailed prophesy of historical events. The details pertaining to the then world powers of Persia, Greece, and eventually Rome, are so precisely predicted by Daniel, that biblio-skeptics place the writing of Daniel during the time of the Maccabean rebellion in 167-165 B.C.
Yet nothing suggests we are to “push” Daniel’s book out of the historical context when it says it was written during the third year of Cyrus/Darius in 530 B.C. Thus, Daniel is being told about future, historical events by divine revelation. These historical events not only really happened, they happened in the exact way God said they would.
Chapter 11 unveils the final 490 prophetic years that were given to Daniel in chapter 9. It is revealed in two parts: Verses 1-35 speak to the first 483 years leading up to the Messiah being cut-off. Verses 36-45 speak to the final 7 years that complete the 490 years.
The prophecy reveals for us 5 historical figures who impacted the events of the ancient world and will impact events of the future world. They represent empires that have previously been revealed to Daniel as metals in a statue (2), and as terrible, bizarre beasts (7). I noted the first four last time:
1) Ahaseurus Xerxes who attacked Greece.
2) Alexander the Great and the four kings who succeeded him.
3) Antiochus the Great who waged war against the Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt.
4) Antiochus IV who persecuted Israel.
From Daniel 11:36-45, we are introduced to a fifth figure. What Daniel describes as a “Willful King.” I believe he is the Anti-Christ.
It is important to note that most evangelical commentators agree with the details of events up until 11:36. Depending upon one’s eschatological position, this “Willful King” is understood as either a,
- Continuing prophecy about Antiochus IV
- Not an individual, but merely the fourth empire, Rome
- Constantine the Great
There is, however, some problems with these positions. There are a number of reasons why this individual must be a yet future person.
1) If this chapter is detailing known history, and I believe we can easily verify that known history, then this description of a “Willful King” also must be historical. The individuals often identified as this King never did any of the things this Willful King is described as doing.
2) This King is described by the context of the passage as living “at the time of the end,” 11:40, or in the “latter-days.” Notice that chapter 12:1-3 lists three specific eschatological events that take place at that time, a) Tribulation upon the people of Israel, b) the Resurrection, c) Eternal rewards.
3) Note further that 11:36 says that this “Willful King” continues “until the wrath has been accomplished.” The idea of “wrath” in this passage can be translated as “indignation” (za’am). This is a technical term out of Israel’s prophetic literature speaking to the wrath of God on men in the end times. What could be said here is that the Anti-Christ and the tribulation he brings upon the earth is the instrument of God’s wrath.
4) Verse 36 suggests a break into a new subject. Where as before the king of the north and the king of the south battled each other, following verse 36, especially 40 and 44, this “Willful King” appears to be a third party.
5) This prophecy matches and corresponds exactly with other biblical revelation we have of a person identified as the “Anti-Christ.” He is the same as the “little horn” in Daniel 7, the “prince who is to come” in Daniel 9, the “Man of Sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2, and “the Beast” of Revelation 13.
A question may be asked, “Doesn’t the angel skip a whole bunch of history? Jumping from 169 B.C. to some unknown period in the far future?” Yes, but this is a phenomenon in Scripture called “prophetic telescoping” or “apotelesmatic.” Events are compressed in one oracle or vision. Later revelation fleshes out the details.
Daniel reveals to us three pictures of this “Willful King,” the individual called Anti-Christ
I. His Person (11:36-39)
The text begins by calling him “the king who does according to his own will.” This implies he does as he pleases. There is no restraint upon him humanly speaking. The ultimate sovereign on the earth.
Also note how he is described as exalting himself above every god, and he blasphemes the true God of heaven. This is also described in 2 Thess. 2:4. Daniel 11:37 says he has no desire for women. I don’t think that means he is a homosexual, but has more of the idea that he has no desire for the typical, human relationship of marriage.
He is also one who pursues war. He is described as honoring “the god of fortresses.” The strange phrase may have the idea of military might. We know from other revelation this Anti-Christ will conquer nations and other military machines. Daniel 7:24 speaks to how he “roots up three horns.”
II. His Wars (11:40-44)
An individual who pursues war will stir up strife against himself, and this is what happens to the “Willful King.” He will be attacked by the king of the north and south.
Coming to this next section, there is difficulty determining the referents to the pronouns. Who is doing what to who.
Earlier in the chapter, the king of the north was identified with the Seleucids and the king of the south with the Ptolemies in Egypt. It only seems consistent to understand the north and south in these passages as referring to the same geographical area occupied by those ancient kingdoms. Remember, Israel is right in between the two factions and these prophecies pertain to their restoration.
Also, with verse 40, we have to determine if there are only two kings involved in battling each other or three? Two views on how we understand the pronouns and the referents of who is fighting who:
- The “Willful King” is the king of the north who retaliates against the king of the south. OR
- The “Willful King” is attacked by both the north and the south.
Good men divide on how to understand the passage, but I believe it is the second option: the “Willful King” is attacked by both the north and the south.
Beginning at verse 45 and tracing the pronouns back, I see a break in verse 40, where after Daniel says “The King of the south shall attack him” (the Willful King), and then “the king of the north shall come against him” (again, the Willful King). Much of what is discussed here is also mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39 in the “Gog and Magog” prophecy. In that vision, Ezekiel identifies Rosh, Tubal, Meshech, areas that are north of modern day Israel encompassing Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries around the Black Sea. Ezekiel also mentions Persia, Ethiopia and Libya, nations that still exist today.
In the 1970s and 80s, prophecy teachers always identified Gog and Magog with the Soviet Union. Today, however, those same areas are more recognized as being Islamic. In fact, both the north and south kingdoms once identified with the Seleucids and Ptolemies, are entirely Islamic.
With that in mind, why would they attack the “Willful King?” If it is true that this “Willful King” is the same Anti-Christ who makes a treaty with Israel for 3 1/2 years, and the animosity Muslims already have toward Jews is stoked even more, there is good reason they would attack the “Willful King.” It would be a similar situation as the Six Day War.
Ezekiel describes how Gog and Magog will come against the “Willful King,” but Daniel tells us this attack will fail. Ezekiel 38 even says God will be the one bringing them there, in order to destroy them. In Daniel 11:42, the King launches a counter-attack against those nation in the South. Egypt, Ethiopia, and Libya, are specifically mentioned as not escaping. “At his heels” is an expression that means, in submission. These countries are made to serve him. (This could be a reference to those 3 horns the “little horn” tears out). Daniel further states that the King will have power over precious things like Gold and Silver. This could be a reference to the main energy resource of that region of the world: oil.
While he is defeating those nations, he gets news about the north attacking (when Gog and Magog attack) as well as the east (Revelation 16:12). God is drawing all of these gentile nations together at one spot so that He can judge them directly all at once in a grand display of His glory.
III. His Demise (11:45)
As Daniel finishes his vision about the “Willful King,” we are told that he sets up his military base “between the seas.” This could be between the Dead Sea and Mediterranean Sea, or the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. The Valley of Meggido exists between Galilee and the Mediterranean. It is here that the Anti-Christ meets his demise, “none shall help him.” His demise is further expanded upon in Ezekiel 38:18-39:1-8 and of course, Revelation 19:17 and the record of the events following.
Labels: Gleanings from Daniel