“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. (Daniel 11:36)
“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.” (Daniel 11:40)
Three separate kings are in view in Daniel 11:36 & 40 and their identities must be discovered to fully understand what will happen in the days leading up to the End of the Age. They are the King who exalts himself, the King of the North, and the King of the South. All of Daniel 11:4-35 has been taken up with a discussion of various generations of the King of the North and the King of the South. The King who exalts himself is neither, and yet subdues them both. Let’s see if we can identify these three kings as to their roles in the world’s final drama.
First, the King who exalts himself. The angel told Daniel this king would exalt and magnify himself above every god (Daniel 11:36). In 2 Thes. 2:4 Paul said the anti-Christ will exalt himself over everything that is called god or is worshiped. The angel also told Daniel he would say unheard of things against the God of gods. In Rev. 13:6 John said the anti- Christ will blaspheme God and slander His name. So it looks like the king who exalts himself is the anti-Christ.
Now for the other two. The vision of Daniel 11 was given in 536BC and begins with an angel telling Daniel what would happen to the Persian Kingdom then in power. The angel said that after 3 more Persian Kings, a fourth one would arise, an especially rich and powerful king. This Persian King, who we know as Xerxes I, took as his queen the Jewish woman Hadassah, called Esther in the Persian language (Esther 2:16-17). He put together a mighty army and mounted an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Greece in 480BC. But after that a mighty king would appear who would rule with great power and do everything he pleased (Daniel 11:2-3). This prophecy was fulfilled about 150 years later by Alexander the Great whose driving ambition was to first conquer the Persian Empire, and after that the rest of the known world.
The angel then said that Alexander’s Kingdom would be divided into four parts according to the four winds of heaven, not going to his offspring. (After Alexander’s death his four generals divided up the Kingdom among themselves.) The next 30 verses are devoted to the families of two of the four, Seleucus, known in Daniel 11 as the first King of the North and Ptolemy, the first King of the South. 135 historically confirmed prophecies are contained in the first 35 verses of Daniel 11, most having to do with the descendants of these two men. The other two generals, Cassander and Lysimachus are not mentioned here, but history shows they both eventually lost their portions to Seleucus, the King of the North.
So the first kings of the North and the South were Seleucus and Ptolemy. For territory Seleucus eventually got control of what we now know as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Turkey. Reigning for a time from Babylon in modern Iraq, he built a new capital city 20 miles to the south east on the Tigris river and named it Seleucia. Eventually he moved his capital to Antioch, where it remained. Ptolemy took Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Israel and Jordan, and chose Alexandria in Egypt as his capital.
The descendants of these two kings fought each other for control of the known world for the next several hundred years. Then Daniel 11:33-35 brings us to the Maccabean revolt when the last important King of the North, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, was defeated (165 BC).
The angel didn’t tell Daniel anything about the King of the South’s future, since it didn’t directly involve Israel. But history shows that over time the Ptolemys became weaker and weaker. The last King of the South was actually a queen named Cleopatra, famous for her romantic involvements with Julius Caesar and then Mark Antony. Upon her death in 30BC what was left of the Ptolemaic Kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire.
History To Prophecy
Although it was all in the future when the angel revealed what we know as the the first 35 verses of Daniel 11, it’s all history where we’re concerned. But beginning in Daniel 11:36 we fast forward to the time of the end when modern versions of these two kings will appear again and will ultimately oppose the anti-Christ.
I believe the current unrest in the Islamic Middle East, euphemistically called the Arab Spring, will soon result in the re-emergence of these two ancient powers in a final contest for leadership of the Islamic world. Turkey and Iran are both part of the territory once identified with the King of the North, and are obvious contenders for that title. They will both be involved in the battle of Ezekiel 38, but since Daniel 11:40 follows Ezekiel 38 in time, this tells us their defeat on the mountains of Israel won’t put them out of contention.
Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey has made no secret of his belief that a restored Ottoman Empire will be the End Times Caliphate. And in a recent UN speech President Ahmadinejad of Iran all but announced the arrival of al Mahdi to lead the world into peace.
Ezekiel’s phrase “ send down fire” (Ezekiel 39:6), which many believe to be a reference to nuclear warfare, is directed at Magog (Russia), the distant coastlines (somewhere beyond the Mediterranean) and the battlefield in Israel. No mention is made of any such destruction in Persia (Iran) or Turkey (Togarmah). Whatever forces they have in Israel will be decimated, but Iran and Turkey will both survive to fight another day.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are not named as participants in Ezekiel 38 but could join forces to form the new King of the South. About a year ago, the Saudis quietly rebelled against US policy and embarked upon an independent course of action, promising to defend the Gulf States against Iranian meddling themselves. This was due partly as an expression of anger over the way the US helped oust Egypt’s Pres. Mubarak, a close friend of the Saudi King, and partly over their frustration with America’s lack of action against Iran. Saudi Arabia does not want Iran to emerge as the leader of the Islamic Middle East and is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen, even if it comes to war. So far they’ve backed up their promises by moving troops and weaponry into Bahrain, posing a direct threat to Iran.
And we are all aware of the upheaval in Egypt, from a secular government to an Islamic one, although no one’s quite certain where they’ll settle on the political spectrum.
Things are currently so fluid in the Middle East it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next. It will be interesting to see who winds up with the real power. If secular governments continue to be pushed aside in favor of Islamic leadership (some are already saying Jordan will be next after Syria) it could mean the Kings of the North and the South are returning.
Then What Happens?
When the anti-Christ first comes on the scene in the aftermath of the Battle ofEzekiel 38-39, he’ll look to the world like a great peacemaker. He’ll deceive people by distributing gifts of power and influence and will even confirm a treaty allowing Israel to build the third Temple and reinstate their worship of God there (Daniel 9:27). As he gains public support he’ll start attacking countries who don’t fall into line. He’ll make his close followers into rulers, giving them conquered lands as a reward for their faithfulness (Daniel 11:39).
But when he moves to consolidate his control of Planet Earth by going to Jerusalem to assert his divinity, the King of the North and the King of the South will both try to stop him (Daniel 11:40). This tells us that even among Islamic countries there will be resistance to his rule, as others will also have their sights set on becoming the head of the world wide caliphate. It’s important to remember that there’s disagreement among the various branches of Islam over how and by whom world dominance will be achieved There’s also no love lost between Arab and non-Arab Muslims. But he’ll bring them all into submission, and after invading many other countries, he’ll arrive in Jerusalem and set up his headquarters there (Daniel 11:42-45), where he’ll walk into the New Temple and claim to be God ( 2 Thes. 2:4).
In Matt. 24:15 Jesus said this declaration will be the primary cause of the Great Tribulation. This is because it will be the event that pits Satan and his man directly against God and His Anointed, as Psalm 2:2-3 prophesied so long ago. His defeat of the Kings of the North and the South could be the reason for all the world to unite behind him and declare, “Who is like the Beast? Who can make war against him?” (Rev. 13:4) And as Daniel said, the anti-Christ will be successful until the time of wrath is completed because this is the way God has determined it will happen (Daniel 11:36). No one on Earth will be able to stand against him.
But when his time has come to an end, he’ll be defeated. Where the Kings of the North and South will have failed, the King of Kings will be successful and at the end there will be no one to help him (Daniel 11:45).
If, as I believe, the current unrest in the Islamic Middle East is leading to the re-appearance of the ancient Kings of the North and South, then the appearance of the anti-Christ cannot be far behind. And that’s another reason for us to believe that the days of the Church on Earth are truly numbered.