R/Dean Daniel Lesson 54
The Religion of the Antichrist – Daniel 11:36-40
We are in a passage that is somewhat difficult Daniel 11:36 down to the end of the chapter covers two sections; 36-39 covers the political and religious career of the antichrist. Starting with verse 40 we shift to the military career of the antichrist with a focus on numerous invasions and campaigns that take place during the second half of the Tribulation. Now if you just look at verse 40 and following it doesn't sound too complicated. The problem is when you to fit those verses into a number of other passages in Revelation, Zechariah 12-13, Joel 2, Ezekiel 38-39, then you run into some complications. I've been trying to work through various problems with that off and on for about three months now and have not gotten to a point yet where I am at a point when I can stand up and say this is what the passage says, or this is how these things go together. Hopefully it will come together. I know what position it is that I think is most likely and that may be all that we can say at this point in time is that this seems to be the best solution but we don't know for sure how these things really fit together.
We need to have a little review because last time we just got through the introduction to the section and it's been a couple of weeks and I know that in order to understand some of the interpretive problems we have in the first four verses, 36-39, we have to go back and make sure we understand the things that I covered last time. So let's start by opening our bibles to Revelation 13:11-18. In Revelation 13 we find one of several descriptions in the book of Revelation of the two key leaders, the two satanic leaders in the Tribulation; the first beast and the second beast, the characteristics and career of the first beast are covered in the first 10 verses of the chapter and then in verse 11 we have a second beast. The first beast comes out of the sea which is a picture of the Gentile nations; the second beast comes out of the earth, so we have to put this together in terms of an understanding of our passage.
So let's just review some of the things that we looked at last time. First of all, we have a phrase that has been pretty much adopted and accepted, I think it could be challenged on some textual grounds, I'm not going to go there, and that is the term "antichrist" as a term for the first beast. The reason I say that is that is that if you look at the verses where that term is used in 1 John 1 the context of 1 John 2 has to do with a false concept of the Messiah. That's a religious thing, whereas the antichrist in terms of the first beast is primarily, even though he certainly has a religious career, is primarily a political leader. It's possible that the term "antichrist" as John uses it has more to do with the second beast and his career than the first beast, but we're faced with over 2,000 years of Church history tradition where the first beast is referred to as the antichrist, the leader of the Revived Roman Empire is referred to as the antichrist, so we will continue to go along with that terminology. But we have to understand just exactly what it means and what that term means. It is a compound word in the Greek, anti plus Christos; Christos is the term for anointed one or Messiah and anti has the idea of substitution. Too often in English we look at it in terms of a Latin background where anti has the idea of against or contradiction to. And that's not the idea; it has to do with a substitute Messiah.
Last time we went through various titles given to the antichrist in the Scriptures, the "little horn" in Daniel 7:8-9; the "insolent king" in Daniel 8:23; the "prince who is to come" in Daniel 9:26-27; the "one who makes desolate" in Daniel 9:27; the "man of lawlessness" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; the "son of destruction," 2 Thessalonians 2:3; the "lawless one," 2 Thessalonians 2:8; "the beast," Revelation 11:7 and 13:1-10; "the despicable person," Daniel 11:21, the "strong-willed king" in Daniel 11:36 and "the worthless shepherd" in Zechariah 11. Those give us basically the characteristics of the first beast we will call the antichrist.
Then the second figure that we looked at last time is the false prophet. Now the false prophet is distinguished from the substitute Messiah. We saw first of all that Jesus warned of false Christs and false prophets. It's important, I'm building a case point by point here; there is a distinction in Jesus' terminology in Matthew 24:24 between a false Christ and a false prophet. Those are distinct concepts; one is someone claiming deity, claiming some sort of Savior role, the other is someone who is a religious leader, a religious figure claiming divine inspiration and ability to give divine revelation. So Jesus distinguishes between a false Messiah and a false prophet in Matthew 24:24.
Then the second thing that we saw was that in Revelation 13:11-18 the second beast is a distinct personage from the first beast or the antichrist and he is a prophet or a spokesperson, a spokesman for the antichrist. Let's look at Revelation 13:11, "And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth;" and many think that because it uses the phrase ge here or earth or land, that that is an illusion to Israel, that Israel is often referred to as "the land," so this would indicate that as the second beast comes up out of the land and the first beast came up out of the sea the first beast is a Gentile, the second beast is a Jew. That's important to maintain these distinctions because we're going to get… you'll see it come together when we get into Daniel 11:36, why this is important.
Revelation 13:12, "And he" that is the second beast, "exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence," so he is a secondary power, his role is to bring worship to the first beast; his role is to authenticate the first beast through his various miracles. Not that the first beast also doesn't have various miracles but primarily the second beast performs miracles for the benefit of the first beast. The second beast causes "the earthy and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.  And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men," and that's a duplication of the fire coming down to consume the altar to Baal by Elijah in 1 Kings 18.
Revelation 13:14, "He deceives those who dwell on the earth" so he is one who masters in deception "those who dwell on the earth." If the phrase "dwelling on the earth" has the same concept here as Israel, then it shows that he is one who deceives the Jews. "He deceives those who dwell in the land by the signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth" or in the land, "to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and life." So the making of this image of the beast is the abomination of desolation. Just as Antiochus Epiphanes erected an idol to Zeus and put it in the Holy of Holies in the temple, which was the type of the abomination of desolation, the second beast is going to have an image constructed that it will also be placed inside the Tribulation temple and it's that that is referred to in Daniel and in Matthew 24 as the abomination of desolation.
Revelation 13:15, "He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast," so a statue is somehow animated, it is brought to life and this is a fantastic miracle that is going to win over many converts to the worship of the beast. "…that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed." So there will be a mass slaughter of those who refuse to bow down and worship the beast. Verse 16 and the next two verses go on to talk about the economic aspect and causing all to wear the mark of the beast. So that is the function of the second beast, the false prophet.
Now let's look at our second passage, 2 Thessalonians 2. What we've established so far is that there's a distinction between these two individuals, the first beast and the second beast. The first beast claims deity, the second beast is going to bring worship to the first beast. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 we read, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy" and last time I showed you that apostasia in the Greek means to depart, the root meaning of the word is departure. And it's interesting that in the first 8 English versions preceding the King James Version the word was translated "departure" rather than transliterated as apostasy. You see, a translator avoids certain theological problems by transliterating a word. In a transliteration as opposed to a translation, what you do is you take a word and you just bring it over into the other language.
For example, one of the most egregious examples of this in Church history is the word baptizo; baptizo if you look it up in any Greek lexicon you look at the usage in Classical Greek all the way up through Koine Greek, the word means to dip, plunge or immerse. It signified identification but the meaning of the word was to plunge or immerse something. So if you read that Jesus came to John and was immersed in the Jordan, that's a translation. But if you are coming out of a medieval Roman Catholic Church background where you're sprinkling and you're not immersing, if you translate it you're in trouble. You're in trouble for two reasons; you're in trouble number one because you were violating church dogma which inserted sprinkling instead of immersion. But what happened in the Middle Ages, because there was an identification of Church and State, is that when a child was born and you have a baby, that baby is sprinkled and he at that point enters into the two spheres of Church and State, so that the sprinkling wasn't just entry into the church and a pledge of salvation, it was also a sign of loyalty and citizenship in the State.
Now if you're saying that nobody should be sprinkled as a baby and that that was invalid you're not just making a religious assertion, you're making a treasonous political assertion. That's why they were taken out and burned to death. So you want to avoid being burned at the stake, you want to avoid being drowned, that's what Zwingli, Zwingli was the great Swiss German reformer and when his students realized this problem and shifted their position from sprinkling, infant sprinkling to adult believer's baptism, well, because Zwingli was the head of the state there he took them out and the penalty was drowning. And he said you want to be immersed, I'll immerse you so he held them under until they were dead. See, we live in such mild bland times now; back then people really took their religious convictions seriously. If you were going to translate baptizo you would translate it immerse, but if you were a chicken and you didn't want to die you took the chicken's way out and you just transliterated it baptize. "Baptize" isn't an English word; it's a Greek word, but you avoid the whole issue by transliterating it into English.
The same things happens with apostasia, the first 8 English versions translated apostasia correctly as departure, that these things can't happen or the antichrist isn't going to be revealed unless the departure comes first. But they didn't quite understand what that meant; what departure? So they decided that since it's a little big nebulous here we'll just do the same thing they did with baptize, we'll just transliterate the word as apostasy. And so now we have the word "apostasy" which isn't an English word either, it's a Greek word but they didn't translate it and it should have been translated "departure" which is the rapture. So that is the appearance of the antichrist "will not come unless the rapture comes first, and then the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,  who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship," so what we have here is a clear statement that the first beast, the antichrist, "exalts himself above every god and object of worship," not the false prophet. This has to be the antichrist because he's the highest god, when it comes to it he's going to be the top god in the pantheon, "so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." That means he's going to go in where that image is; that image is the antichrist, he's going to claim deity and go into the temple. This isn't talking about the false prophet; if this were talking about the false prophet then that would contradict Revelation 13 which says that the false prophet is going to bring all the worship to the first beast as the high god in the religious worship of this Tribulation religious system.
Now that set the stage for understanding Daniel 11 and being able to identify this king. We come to Daniel 11:36, "Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god," now what does that sound like to you. This fits what is said in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, that "he exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship." So Daniel 11:36 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4 are speaking about the same individual. "The king will then do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done." Verse 37, "And he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god, for he will magnify himself above them all."
Now we come to a major interpretive problem here and that is the identification of the king. The reason we have an interpretive problem is because there are three views that are taken as to who this figure is. The first is that this is still Antiochus; this is basically the view of the liberals and of those who do not believe that this is predictive prophecy. The reason we say that it is not Antiochus…see, I not only want you to know what this passage teaches I want you to understand something about why we say it's the antichrist. Well, it's not Antiochus because there are statements made about the character of the king that are not true of Antiochus. He doesn't "exalt and magnify himself above every god" and where the text says he "will speak monstrous things against the God of gods," the word there for "monstrous things" is really wonderful or miraculous things, and the idea is he is going to perform miracles against the God of gods, in order to show that he's more powerful. Antiochus never did anything like that.
And second, the term "the indignation" is a synonym for the time of Jacob's trouble or the Tribulation or Daniel's seventieth week, and since Antiochus has historically passed from the scene and did not live to the end of the indignation, this could not apply to him. So there are statements made about the character of this king which aren't true of Antiochus; the policy of this king, the fact that he'll "show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women," and that he "will magnify himself above them all," those are presented as if this is new information, this does not relate to the guy we just got through talking about up to verse 35. This is presented as new information.
Third, historical matters are presented which do not match anything in Antiochus' lifetime.
Fourth, the text back in verse 35 seems to end with the expression of Antiochus' hostility to the Jews. Verse 35 seems to wrap up everything it's going to say about the individual discussed, the northern king in Daniel 11:29-35. Furthermore, the terminology, "the king," "Then the king should do according to his own will," is different from the preceding terminology which is "king of the north." Verses 29-34 the reference is to the king of the north; and now we have a new term, "the king," which indicates a shift of subject.
And then if you look down at verse 40 we read, "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him, and the king of the North will storm against him," so in the previous section, from 29-35 Antiochus is the king of the North, but the king of verse 36 is a distinct king from the king of the South and the king of the North, so he can't be the king of the North up to verse 35 and then be distinct from the king of the North starting in verse 36 so obviously there's a shift. Then lastly, this leader, this king is ruling during the worst time in Israel's history.
The second point in identifying the king here, is there are some that identify the antichrist with the king of the north, even in this last section; they'll say this is the king of the north and they base their view on the king of the north on the fact that earlier in the passage "king of the North" equals Antiochus; Antiochus is a type of the antichrist, therefore "king of the North" equals the antichrist. Furthermore they will take this designation and then they look at a couple of other passages which we will examine later which do refer to an individual…the king of the North is this person, but he's not the antichrist. In Isaiah 10:5 and 12, in Isaiah 14:24-26 and in Micah 5:1-7 we are told that there's going to be this other figure and the antichrist called "the Assyrian" and this Assyrian is going to bring judgment on Israel. That's the "king of the North," he's also called "the Assyrian," there are a couple of other titles for the king of the North as well in the Old Testament.
Now some of you are familiar with Zane Hodges who is a Greek professor, stalwart in teaching the free grace concept but Zane Hodges and several others have come up with this interpretation, that this is the Assyrian, and in fact he's published sort of a novel on the Tribulation where we have an Assyrian antichrist. So that just sort of lets you know…as I go through this I'm going to mention different dispensationalists, there is within dispensationalism a certain amount of disagreement or uncertainty exactly how to label some of these things. This is sort of like a family squabble; these are not major issues and things to get to get upset about but just to be aware that you may hear of different positions when you read different popular books. I don't agree with that position because I think it's pretty clear that the little horn of Daniel 7 comes out of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, in Daniel 9 we're told that it's "the people of the prince who is to come" who destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD. The "prince who is to come" is related to the people who destroyed the temple. Since the temple in 70 AD was destroyed by the Romans "the prince who is to come" must be a Roman. Therefore he's not an Assyrian. So for those reasons textually… remember whenever you want to prove something from the Scripture try to go into the Scripture, not just argue abstractly from doctrine, the antichrist must be European.
Now there's another option, this is a third point and that is that this refers to the second beast or the false prophet, that "the king" mentioned here refers to the false prophet, the dictator of Israel. Now this is primarily an older dispensationalist view that came out of the 19th century. It was held by John Nelson Darby; John Nelson Darby is sort of the founder and modern systematizer of dispensationalism. One of the men at the Conservative Theological Society meeting last week who was a classmate of mine in the doctoral program of Dallas many years ago, Mike Stellar who is a professor of theology over at Bible Baptist Seminary in Pennsylvania has just sent a book off to the publisher on the history of dispensationalism and one of the things they're demonstrating in this book is that the major ideas in dispensational theology, a distinction between Israel and the Church, premillennialism, even there are certain discoveries made in the last ten years about some various pastors and teachers, going back to a man named Pseudo-Ephraim in the 5th century clearly held to some sort of pretribulational type of rapture. In fact, some one, I think it was Edwin Morgan, I may have his first name wrong, but it was definitely Morgan but it was the Baptist pastor who founded Brown University had a pretrib view of the rapture. So those who disagreed with us, our theological enemies, often accused us of inventing the pretrib rapture with Darby but now recent scholarship has demonstrated that to be completely false, that these ideas were all around, all the way back to the early church, but Darby was the first to come around and pull these different strands together and systematize dispensationalism. And Darby held the view that "the king" here was the false prophet.
Also a German Jew by the name of Arno C. Gaebelein who came over here, family came over here in the 1880s to avoid the conscription of Bismarck and the Kaiser in the Franco-Prussian wars back at the end of the 19th century, Gaebelein came over here and became a believer and was quite influential, he really had a handle on prophecy, at least as many of these things were understood by the late 19th century. In fact, C. I. Scofield who edited the Scofield Reference Bible probably did more to popularize dispensationalism than anybody else. Scofield said well, if I don't understand something I always defer to Gaebelein because he is the expert, so Gaebelein had a tremendous influence on, not only his generation of prophecy students but also on the next generation. Now remember, Gaebelein is speaking at what was called the Niagara Bible Conferences and then you had Northfield Conferences up in Massachusetts and many of these prophecy oriented Bible conferences in the late 19th century, a little over 110 yeas ago, and you had people speaking there like C. I. Scofield and his protégé, Lewis Sperry Chafer who founded Dallas Theological Seminary. Now Dallas Theological Seminary probably did more for the teaching of dispensationalism and Chafer did than anybody else.
It's important to understand how these guys influenced each other. I love this quote, Scofield one time was talking to Lewis Sperry Chafer who was an ordained evangelist in a Presbyterian church and he said to him one day, Lewis, I think you'd make a great teacher some day if you just had something to say. And Chafer was humble enough to recognize the truth of that, and so he basically was taught and mentored by Scofield, and Scofield, of course, was very influenced by Gaebelein. And Gaebelein in turn also influenced Scofield. And as a result of that this church has been influenced tremendously over the years by the teaching of Pastor Thieme down in Houston. Well, in Pastor Thieme's master thesis on the battle of Armageddon he relies heavily on Gaebelein, and so he also follows that view that this individual in Daniel 11:36 and following is not the antichrist but it's the false prophet.
Now the interesting thing is that even though Gaebelein held that view he didn't manage to convince either Scofield of Chafer of the view; neither Scofield nor Chafer bought into that, they recognized the same problems that I've pointed out already and that is that this passage is talking about "the king exalts himself above every god." And if this is the false prophet then you've got to find some other figure out there who's a higher god and that presents an internal contradiction between the various passages. So there's a number of problems with it both in terms of the text and comparing Daniel 11 with 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13 but also there's a methodological problem that both Darby and Gaebelein had and this is one that we all have to watch and that is you don't start off with an abstract question. What I mean by that is you don't start off with a question that's just separate from the text. Now we come up with questions like this all the time. But it's often we ask a question that the Bible doesn't address specifically. It might come at it obliquely or from an angle but it doesn't address it specifically and then we think this question is so brilliant and so powerful that we try to force the Scripture into answering the question, and the question is how is it that in the Tribulation Jews would follow a false Messiah, the antichrist, who is not a Jew. Now that sounds like a great question.
How in the world would Jews be convinced to follow a non-Jewish substitute Messiah? If your starting point is that question then you're going to try to force the text to fit your question and the categories of your question instead of going into the text and saying okay, the text makes it really clear that Daniel 11 is talking about a guy who sets himself up as the highest god, 2 Thessalonians 2 says he's the highest god, Revelation 13 says that the false prophet is secondary to the highest god who is the antichrist. So if that's what it's saying now we have to explain this what will happen in the Tribulation, and what happens during the Tribulation is the Jews come along and you've got two categories of Jews in the Tribulation, we'll really see a lot about the remnant category in Daniel 12, but the remnant are positive to doctrine and they're responding to Jesus' claims as the Messiah. So they're positive to doctrine, they're going to accept Jesus as Messiah, but those that don't accept Jesus as Messiah are just like most Jews today, they are secular Jews, they have not commitment whatsoever to the Old Testament as anything other than just some other religious book that's not any better or any worse than the writings of Confucius or the Koran or anything else, they're not committed to the Old Testament at all, they don't care, they're not religious one little bit. Now they're going to be swayed because the false prophet, who is Jewish, is going to come on, and what did I point out in Revelation? He deceives the people in the land and he is going to deceive them and somehow convince them that the antichrist, who is clearly a Gentile, that he is the one who is there to worship and that he is the Messiah. So somehow he's going to convince them of that, I don't understand how but through his miracles, through the signs and lying wonders performed by the antichrist as mentioned also in 2 Thessalonians 2 they are going to substantiate these claims.
Now the fourth view which is the view that I hold and the view that Arnold Fruchtenbaum holds and C. I. Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, Leon Wood, and it's the view that…I'm going to bring these names in because of where we're going to go in the second part, Tim LaHaye and that's the view that you'll find in the Left Behind books, and Tommy Ice all hold to the view that the figure in 36 is the first beast, the antichrist. We see this, and our support for this is based on the fact that it best fits the overall context of the passage and the context of the Scripture. First of all, "he exalts himself above every god," but in Revelation 13:12 the false prophet or the second beast exalts the first beast, so there must be a distinction there.
Second, in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 we saw that the antichrist exalts himself above every god just as the king in Daniel 11:36 does. Third, the king in Daniel 11:36 is said to enter "the Beautiful Land" or "the Glorious Land in Daniel 11:41. If he's the false prophet he would already be in "the Beautiful Land," that's the term for Israel. If he was the false prophet he would already be there, that's his base of operation. So the king has to enter into Israel in terms of the beginning of these military conquests, so he's not already there, that's not his base of operations. So the conclusion is that in terms of consistency, in terms of comparing Scripture with Scripture it's best to refer to Daniel 11:36 as the antichrist of the Tribulation, the first beast, the man who will try to do what Christ alone can do, and a man who will obtain the allegiance of most men on the earth. Now that's the first problem we face here, we solved that.
The second thing has to do with time and we know that there is a temporal break or a time break, or a time gap between Daniel 11:35 and 36. Daniel 11:35 is a historical reference, up through Daniel 11:33 or 11:32 it's really talking about the historical fulfillment in Antiochus Epiphanes and then in 33-35 it talks about the continuing trend through the end of the age of Israel and one that would go on through the Church Age and that is the refining process, that there would be martyrdom, there would be those who are believers who would be persecuted and there would be purification until the time of the end, and that is a technical term for Daniel's seventieth week or the last seven years of Israel's time period, the Tribulation.
Now there are precedents for saying there are breaks. See, people always come along and say where do you dispensationalist come just chopping verses in half and making distinctions, you'll say one verse refers to one period and then you put a thousand years or two thousand years in between the breaks and then you come back and are constantly breaking up the Scripture like that, so where do you get the precedent for doing something like that. Daniel 2:40 makes a break between verse 40 and verse 41, there's a clear break there. Also, Daniel 7:23, there's a clear time gap between 23 and 24. In Daniel 9 there's a clear time gap between 9:26 and 9:27 and I think there's a clear time gap between Daniel 11:35 and 36. In Hosea 3:4 there's a break before Hosea 3:5 and the classic one is the one the Lord referred to in Luke 4:18, as He stood up in the synagogue to read, He read from Isaiah 61:1-2, where He read, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor, He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound,  to proclaim the acceptable year of our Lord," and then he stopped and He sat down, right in the middle of the verse. But the next phrase says, "and the day of vengeance of our God," that's Tribulation. Jesus sat down, cut that verse off halfway through because there's a gap of at least two thousand years between the fulfillment of the first part of Isaiah 61:1 and 2a and the second part of verse 2. So there are clear precedents in Scripture where there are these time gaps, where the prophets of old looking ahead didn't see these valleys between the major events that took place in Scripture.
So from Daniel 11:36 on the text is no longer describing anything that has already happened in history but it is describing something that is yet future. Jesus Himself interpreted this same material to be yet future in Matthew 24:15 and following, where He warns the Jews about seeing the abomination of desolation in the future. In Matthew 24 Jesus said, "Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet," see, it's not past, He's saying it's future, when you see this in the future, "the abomination of desolation," that's that image the false prophet constructs and brings to life in the temple, when you see that standing in the Holy place,  "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,  let him who is on the housetop not go down to get things out that are in the house,  let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak.  But woe to those who are with child and those who nurse babies in those days.  But pray that your flight may be in the winter or on a Sabbath,  For then there will be a great tribulation," that's a technical term for the second half of the Tribulation, it intensifies in the second half. Why? Because Satan and the demons are cast out of heaven halfway through the Tribulation, they're going to be walking around on planet earth, they're going to be visible, it is going to be a bizarre time, it's going to be vastly different than anything we think of. When we go through some of the judgment passages and the cataclysms that happen meteorologically and in terms of the sun being darkened, the moon turning red, all of these global catastrophes are going to turn that seven year period into one disaster after another. Just as a side note, the news media won't be able to editorialize much any more; they'll be too busy reporting what's happening. How refreshing that will be. That's just my opinion, that's not doctrine.
Matthew 25:22, "For then there will be a great tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." Now the sad thing is that people are coming along, some interpreters called preterists; we were introduced to that by Tommy a few years ago when he was here for a prophecy conference. Preterism is the idea that all of these events were really fulfilled in the past, they were fulfilled in 70 AD, this is just sort of secret code kind of allegorical language to indicate the destruction of Jerusalem and so they teach that the Tribulation took place…well some of them will say between 65 AD, about 66 and a half, halfway through the year, 66 AD and 70 AD because that's where they're going to put those three and a half years. They'll get three and a half years in there then the Lord came back in 70 AD, you all missed it. Jesus came back, that's what happened in 70 AD, Jesus came back and we're now living in the millennium. There are people who believe that; there's even a group called full preterists who believe that we're beyond the millennium now, that was only a thousand years, we're in the eternal state. I'm serious, and they are winning converts, and if you don't keep up with stuff like that and you turn on your television or radio or you watch some guy, you're going to get sucked into that because that's what's happening. There's some big names among Bible teachers, and I'm talking about conservatives, I'm not talking about the radical charismatic Pentecostal friends that are bouncing off the walls on television. I'm talking about some of the more stable respected guys that came up in the 70s and 80s and yet now they are being sucked into this preterist position.
Let's look at the career of the antichrist as we have it here in Daniel 11:36, "Then the king shall do according to his own will," he is completely independent of any authority, he is rejecting the authority of God and he is setting himself up to be his own god. That's the thrust of the second clause, "he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god," every known god, every pantheon, every religious system. So in effect he is going to invent a new religious system. He'll probably take elements out of many other religious systems, like this guy Joseph Campbell has who was sort of a mental or guru for George Lucas who has done the Star Wars movies. Now if you haven't seen Joseph Campbell, I can't watch him for more than 30 seconds without getting bilious, I happened to run into him on a PBS station not long ago, someone asked me a question, do you know who Joseph Campbell is so I saw this guy on PBS and what he is done is he thinks that all the religious systems all relate to various different mythologies and I think he's written a book called The Power of Myth, something like that and so he wants a new religion where he just sort of amalgamates all the world religious systems, they are all equally true and they all blend together as one. Well, he is a major mentor and influence on George Lucas which is…you know when you blend everything together what you end up with is just sort of a mishmash that's pretty gray and that's kind of what's happened in the latest Star Wars movies is the more you get into the Force there's no right or wrong, everything is just sort of the same gray color. And the great movies are the movies where you have a clear definition of right and wrong and good and bad and hero and villain. But see, the hero is sometimes the villain with Darth Vader, he's first a good guy and then a bad guy and nobody knows quite what to do with him and your kids are going home thinking Anakin Skywalker, that's Darth Vader before he became bad, that he's the hero. And then he becomes evil and now your kids are glorifying this guy that's going to later become evil, but that's because this whole religious framework that George Lucas has bought into is so fluid and fuzzy. Now I enjoy all the Star Wars movies and I'm not one to jump up and down and say don't take your kids to this but at least teach your kids to think critically when they see stuff like this so they can pick up on these various emphases and nuances.
So he's going to have a new religious system that probably borrows a little bit from everybody so he can try to make everybody happy. And "he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, he shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods;" and here we have the term in the Hebrew, El Elim, which is a term referring to God, the term El is the generic term in Hebrew for God; the specific name of God is Yahweh. You have two other terms that are used, El meaning just god, like our god with a lower case "g" and then Adonai which just means Lord and can also mean master. So when Daniel uses the phrase, "the God of gods" he's talking about the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the high God who created all things. So he's "going to speak blasphemies against the God of gods;" that's what the New King James says but the New American Standard translates it "he will speak monstrous things against the God of gods," and the Hebrew word there is niphl'ot, and this is from the root which has to do with miracles and so the best translation here of niphl'ot is that "he will speak miraculous things against the God of gods," so the idea is that he's going to claim the ability to perform miracles that are superior to God's miracles and he's going to duplicate all the miracles of the Old Testament and this will deceive many. This is affirmed in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, "that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan," and he will be affirmed "with all power and signs and false wonders,  and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved." So the antichrist is going to be performing powers or miracles and signs and false wonders, not just the false prophet.
Then we go on to read, "and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed is done," and the word for indignation is the Hebrew word za'am, it's sort of a soft guttural za'am and it's a technical term for the Tribulation. For example, in Isaiah 10:5 we read "Woe to Assyria," this is a reference to that Assyrian leader as the king of the North, "woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger, and the staff in whose hands is My indignation," za'am, that's talking about the Tribulation. So this is a reference to this king of the North that we're going to see later in Daniel 11. He has an Assyrian background. Isaiah 13:5, "They are coming from a far country, for the farthest horizons, The LORD and His instruments of indignation," that's that word za'am again, that the Lord is going to bring them down, "to destroy the whole land." That takes place in the Tribulation. Isaiah 26:20, "Come my people, enter into your rooms, and close your door behind you; hide for a while, until indignation," za'am "runs its course." So all of these passages talk about the Tribulation. Again in Daniel 8:19, "and he said, Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end." Notice how in the context the period of the indignation is defined as the appointed time of the end. So that is a technical term in the Hebrew for the Tribulation.
Then we read, and shall "prosper until the wrath has been accomplished, for what has determined shall be done," and we go on to read, Daniel 11:37, "he shall regard neither the god of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all." Notice the repetition from verse 36, the Holy Spirit wants us to make sure that we understand, "he will exalt himself above every god." Now what does he mean by these phrases here. "The desire of women," "he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers," this is a phrase that has really confused people because the Gaebeleins the Darbys, those who would claim that this is the Jewish false prophet would claim that the term "gods of his fathers" is a Jewish term. But primarily in the Bible the phrase, when it's "the God of your fathers," the word "God" is Yahweh. It is not Elohim, as we have here. Usually the expression is Yahweh of the fathers, as in Exodus 3:15-16; Exodus 4:5, Deuteronomy 1:11; Judges 2:12 and a host of others, I just didn't want to go through all of them but there's probably 15 or 20 different references where in the English you have the phrase, "God of his Fathers," but in the Hebrew it's Yahweh. Here we don't have Yahweh; we have Elohim of my fathers. Now this phrase is used one other time in Daniel, in Daniel 2:23 to refer to God, but it most likely in the context here should be translated as a plural, "gods." Many times in the Psalms Elohim doesn't refer to God, the "im" ending is a plural and it can be translated in its generic sense as gods.
So it should be translated, "he shall regard neither the gods of his fathers," remember, if this is the Roman antichrist then whatever the ancestral gods are, and in our context it seems pretty likely that that would refer to Christianity and Roman Catholicism, perhaps, but some form of Christianity, that he is going to have no regard for the traditional gods of his ancestors. And then secondly, "nor for the desire of women." Now people always come up with the fact, does this mean he's a homosexual or does this mean he's a celibate, and that's not what the term means. Now the big joke was that well, it couldn't be Bill Clinton because it says the antichrist wouldn't have the desire of women. But that's not what this means. The term, "desire of women" is sort of a technical code word used in the Old Testament for the Messiah. The Hebrew word is hemdah, and it's used a number of places just generally for desire but in two places it's a key word for the Messiah, the hope of the Messiah.
In 1 Samuel 9:20 we read, a difficult passage in context, the first part doesn't relate to this, but the second part is, "and for whom is all that is desirable in Israel," that's the New American Standard translation, but literally the phrase hemdah in that verse is in the genitive or the construct case in the Hebrew and it should be translated, "for whom is all the desire of Israel." It's for them, for Israel, it's all the desire of Israel and that's referring to the Messiah. Haggai 2:7 is also another phrase, "And I will shake all nations and the desire of all nations shall come," and there's a technical term, for Jesus is the desire of all nations, they looked forward to the Messiah. This was the desire of women in Israel because the Jewish women looked forward to the birth of the Messiah and they all hoped that they would be the mother of the Messiah. So this phrase, "he would have no regard for the desire of women," that's a code word for the Messiah, "he will have no regard for the Messiah, nor regard any god," notice that fits with the context, he won't regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, i.e. the Messiah, nor regard any god, for he shall exalt himself above all.
Daniel 11:38, "But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses," not forces, but fortresses, and this is an important phase. Dave Hunt popularized the idea that this was the god of forces and as if it's a reference to some New Age god. Back in the 80s when the New Age was popping up all over everywhere you ran into several people rushing to Daniel 11:38 and saying that this is a god of forces, like the god in Star Wars, the Force, and so they were trying to make this connection there, but that's not what this refers to. This is the Hebrew word mauzim and this word is a word that is used to refer to God many times as our fortress, mauzim, and it has to do with a secure place, a fortification, or a fortified city. So he's saying he's going to honor the god who brings security, that's the idea here, this is what he is offering. Remember, in the context of the Tribulation when you have asteroids hitting the earth, when you have a third of the water being turned bitter, when you have a third of the water turning to blood, when you have pestilence and disease, when you have the sun and the moon being darkened, when you literally have God making war against humanity what do you think is going to be the number one desire of most people. We just had the World Trade Center fall down and everybody screaming for security, what do you think it's going to be like when something like that happens every single day. People are going to want security, so he is going to honor a god of fortresses, a god who is going to supply security for mankind and he's going to offer a pseudo security to mankind. And this god of security, of course, is Satan; this is "a god which his fathers did not know, and he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures."
Now how did ancient man honor their gods? By taxes, they would increase taxes and put all the money into the temple. So he is going to increase taxes, raise money in order to build up a huge army, armaments, everything so that they can protect the human race against God because look at what God is going to be doing, Revelation 6:12, "I looked when he broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;  and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.  And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island is moved out of their places," the earthquakes.  And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains." So there's going to be a time when they are seeking security from God who is making war on mankind during this Tribulation.
But it's still a time when God's grace is extended and millions will be saved because of the grace of God and the fact that Christ died for all their sins, no matter how horrible they would be. That describes the antichrist's religious career and his religious emphasis and next time we'll look at verse 39 and following, down to verse 45 where we focus on his military career. Verse 39, "And he will act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god which he shall acknowledge and advance its glory," so he is going to promote the worship of Satan and there you have the satanic trinity of the Old Testament, Satan, the false prophet, and the antichrist. We'll come back and look at that next time.