End Times According to Daniel

Most of Daniel 11 is a prophecy concerning the nations and kings of the Persian and Greek kingdoms (see here for more detail). A large section (verses 20-35) deals specifically with the reign of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes. However, beginning with Daniel 11:36 there is a shift from the Intertestamental period to the end of the age. Not every OT scholar agrees with this, and some argue that the text continues to describe the rule of Antiochus IV. However, the following points seem to indicate a shift in time from Antiochus IV in verse 35 to the end of the age in verse 36 and following. Consider the following:

  • The narrative shifts here to a figure called “the king,” without reference to north or south; every reference to a king from verses 5-35 qualifies him as either the “king of the north” or the “king of the south.”
  • The description of this king as one who does not honor any of the gods that were honored by his fathers (v 37) does not seem to be a good fit with any of the Seleucids or Ptolemies.
  • Although some have sought to align this king with Antiochus IV, Antiochus never came anywhere close to taking the kingdoms of Libya or Nubia/Ethiopia (cf. v 43).
  • In verse 40, this king is opposed by the king of the north and the king of the south, another indication that he is neither Seleucid nor Ptolemaic.
  • Verse 35 makes reference to the “time of the end” (so also 11:40 and 12:4), and the context seems to fit with these verses being a description of that time.
  • The narrative seems to flow directly into 12:2, which refers to the final resurrection (“some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt”), which is still future even from our perspective (cf. Rev 20:11-15).
  • Similarly, the reply that these things would be “for a time, times, and half a time” (12:7) also points to corresponding descriptions of the second half of the tribulation (cf. Dan 7:25; Rev 11:2; 12:6; 12:14; 13:5).

If this understanding is correct, our task changes from matching up the prophecy to past events, and becomes instead the task of trying to understand events that have not yet occurred. This requires a major hermeneutical shift. This would also indicate a chronological gap (of more than two millennia) that would have been undetectable to Daniel and his contemporaries.

The “king” of Daniel 11:36, then, should likely be identified with the antichrist. This would be the same as the “little horn” of Daniel 7, and the “beast out of the sea” in Revelation 13:1-10. This seems to fit best with the descriptions of him and his activities in the latter part of Daniel 11.

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