Robert Jeffress - Countdown To Armageddon
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Today, we're going to venture into one of the most fascinating and complicated chapters in the Bible Daniel chapter 11. Many of the prophecies found in these verses have already been fulfilled. However, some are yet to be fulfilled. I guarantee, as we unravel the mysteries of this passage together, you'll gain a renewed confidence that God stays true to his every promise even if his timetable is different than our own. My message is titled, countdown to Armageddon on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
I read a story this week about a man who lived in Long Island, New York and he had as his dream to purchase the world's finest barometer. I don't know what kind of guy he was. Probably one of these guys who likes to watch the weather channel for kicks, but this was his goal. He wanted to purchase the world's finest barometer. And so he found one in a catalogue. He sent off for it and it arrived by Federal Express a couple of days later. But when he opened the box he was disappointed when he pulled out the barometer to see that the needle was stuck on the section that said "Hurricane".
And so he shook the barometer vigorously, but the needle wouldn't move. He was so angry he sat down and he wrote a scathing letter to the manufacturer. The next morning he dropped it off in the mail on his way to work in New York city. When he got back that evening from New York city you can imagine his surprise when he saw that not only was his barometer missing, but his entire house was missing as well. Long Island had been struck with the worst hurricane in history.
You know, the fact is, Daniel 11 is a biblical barometer, and the needle is stuck on a spiritual hurricane that is coming our way. The Bible says there is going to be a spiritual, a political storm that will one day engulf this entire world. And regardless of the changing political situations, the Word of God remains steadfast and certain. The Word of God says there is a time coming soon when this world is going to end. When the world forces would gather for that great final climactic battle called Armageddon and it will be climaxed by the return of Jesus Christ. We don't know when it's going to happen, but its certainty is inevitable. And that's what Daniel 11 tells us.
If you have your Bibles I want you to turn today to Daniel 11 as we look at what I'm calling: the countdown to Armageddon. Daniel 11 not only tells us what is going to happen, but it contains a clear word about how we ought to live today in light of the coming end. Now remember in chapter 10 the angel came and appeared to Daniel. He said he had been hindered by a demonic force from coming but he finally came to give Daniel the final revelation. And the revelation begins in chapter 11.
Now, I thought of a way to try to make sense of this to you: so on your outline, and I want you to follow it, I've divided this chapter into three parts. First of all, Israel's tribulation under Greece: that's verses 1-20. And secondly, Israel's tribulation under Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek ruler: that would be verses 21-35. And then Israel's final tribulation under the future ruler known as the antichrist: that's verses 36-45. Why is Israel so important? Because Israel was God's chosen people through which he would reveal himself to the world. God said: I'm going to take the most unlikely nation in all the world, most undeserving nation, and I'm going to show my power through them. I'm going to show my goodness through this nation of Israel. I'm going to show my ability to keep my promises through the covenant that I made with Israel.
Israel was God's appointed representative here on earth. God said: even if Israel turns away from me in unbelief I will still accomplish my purpose with Israel. And remember it was through Israel that the world received God's revelation, his commandments at mount Sinai. It was through Israel that the holy scriptures were penned. And it was through Israel, as this choir so wonderfully sang, that the Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ came. And it is through Israel that God's final purpose for the world will be accomplished. Look at verse 1. This is the beginning of the angel's message to Daniel. He says, "In the first year of Darius the Mede, I", the angel, "arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him".
Now to me that's fascinating. Darius was an unbeliever. He was a pagan and yet this angel says: Daniel, in the first year of his reign I was assigned to him. God assigned me to him. I was to be an encouragement to him. You see, God had ordained 150 years earlier that this man named Darius or Cyrus would be the one who would allow Israel to go back to land just as he had promised. And you know what this passage says to me? It reminds that God is bigger than anyone in our life. God is powerful enough to even use unbelievers to accomplish his plan for you.
Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord: he turns it whichever way he wishes". This angel said: Darius was in my hand. I was raised up to encourage him and use him to accomplish God's purpose. Now, here's what the angel says to Daniel, "Now I will tell you", verse 2, "the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia". That is after Darius there would be three more Persian kings, "Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them: as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece".
And we know from history that's exactly what happened after Daniel died. There was a fourth Persian king. His name is called Ahasuerus: or sometimes he is known as Xerxes - the king of Persia, the king during the time of Nehemiah. And Xerxes felt emboldened to go ahead and attack Greece. And the only problem was he wasn't successful. The only thing he was successful in doing was angering the Greek people. And eventually 150 years later there arose a Greek ruler, and we find him described in verses 3-4, who conquered Persia. Look at verse 3, "And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases. But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up".
Who is this Greek leader who came 150 years later? We know him. His name is Alexander the Great. He was a Greek ruler, who in just 12 years conquered the entire world, and when he died, the Greek empire, the mighty Greek empire that ruled the world, it was broken up into four pieces. And those four pieces did not go to Alexander's family. We see here in verse 4, this was a prophecy of what would happen, "It will be parceled out", verse 4, "toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them". And again, Daniel prophesied this - it's exactly what happened.
Now, why does Daniel and the angels spend 15 verses talking about the battle between Syria and between Egypt? Well, think about the geography. You've got Syria in the north: you got Egypt in the south. What is between Syria and Egypt? Israel. Israel. And that battle that started more than 2.000 years ago: 2.300 years ago is still raging today. Israel has become the battleground, the center point, the focal point for the conflict in the Middle East. Now, this continuing conflict between Syria and Egypt sets the stage for verses 21-35, and that's Israel's tribulation under Antiochus Epiphanes.
Look at verse 21: how he came to power, "In his place", in whose place? Why don't you go back to verse 20? He's talking Seleucus IV, one of the Seleucids, "In Seleucus' IV place a despicable person will arise", that's Antiochus Epiphanes, "On whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred, and he will come in a time of tranquility and he will seize the kingdom by intrigue". I wish I had time to get into it - I don't, but this prophecy, exactly as it's written came to pass. Antiochus Epiphanes was not a direct descendant of Seleucus. He was able to come to power by intrigue. He had a way of weaseling his way to become the king of Syria that's a very fascinating story to read. But suffice it to say he came to power just as the Bible prophesied. Look at verse 22, "The overflowing forces will be flooded away before him and shattered, and also the prince of the covenant".
Now we saw this in Daniel 8:14, where Antiochus Epiphanes is talked about. He would rule over Israel. He would bring persecution against God's people for 2.300 days. Now look at verse 24, "In a time of tranquility he will enter the richest parts of the realm, and he will accomplish what his fathers never did, nor his ancestors: he will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them, and he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time". This ruler who is by the way a forerunner of the antichrist will do what the antichrist will one day do as well. He will start out his reign immensely popular in the world. And that's true of Antiochus Epiphanes.
Now intoxicated by his growing success he decides to go after Egypt. And look at verses 25-28 that record his defeat of Egypt. Verse 26 says, "Those who eat his choice food will destroy the king of Egypt, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain". Because of disloyalty within the king of Egypt's own ranks, the defeat by Antiochus Epiphanes was relatively easy. Verse 27, "As for both kings", talking about the king of Syria and the king of Egypt, "Their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table". That is the peace table, "But it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time". God has an appointed time. He's going to bring this all to a climax, and it's going to come to a climax not through peace, but through war.
So, you have Antiochus temporarily defeating some of Egypt, but not all of Egypt. So again feeling good about himself he decides to launch one more attack Egypt. But this time Rome intervened. The Roman emperor decided he didn't want Antiochus overtaking Egypt. And so as Antiochus' forces marched from Syria in the north through Israel to the border of Egypt: Antiochus and his men were met at the border by a messenger, a senator from Rome named Popilius. We know all of this from secular history. And Popilius, the Roman senator said: I have a message for you from the emperor: turn around and go back home. Do not invade Egypt. And Antiochus Epiphanes said pridefully: well, I'll have to think that over.
And Popilius, the messenger from the emperor knelt down and he drew a circle in the sand around the feet of Antiochus Epiphanes. And then he said: go ahead, think it over, but make up your mind before you step out of that circle. And Antiochus Epiphanes was so humiliated by this Roman messenger that he turned around and he marched back to his home in Syria. But on his way to Syria he had to pass through where? Israel. And he unleashes an unrelenting assault upon God's people. And that's what begins these 2.300 days of persecution against Israel. One of the many things Antiochus did against Israel was to take a swine and offer it on the altar, offer it on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem and then he took the temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the pagan god Zeus. And then he began killing God's people without mercy.
Now look at verse 35, "Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time", underline that, "because it is still to come", underline that, "at the appointed time". The angel gave Daniel the reason these terrible persecutions were going to happen to Israel. It's not because God hated Israel. It's not because God had rejected Israel. It's because God loved Israel. And that leads to the final section of Daniel. And that is Israel's final tribulation under the antichrist. Now remember when Daniel wrote these prophecies, when he took the prophecy down it was 538 B.C. And he was looking forward 400 years to something that would go to 165 B.C.
Now, Daniel living in 538 b.C. As he looked down all of the prophecies, all of chapter 11 was still future. But now here we are living in the 21st century and we look back on the first 35 verses, and stay with me on this, in the first 35 verses of Daniel 11 there are 135 specific prophecies about Israel, about Egypt, about Greece, about Persia. 135 specific prophecies and every one of them has been fulfilled, every one of them. Now when we get to verse 36 it's obvious from our vantage point we're not looking back at what's already happened we're looking forward to something that is still to come: the final 7 years of tribulation that will result in the return of Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to notice the four characteristics of this future world leader who will be the one responsible for the final tribulation that Israel and all of the world will experience. Now, the first characteristic of the antichrist is he will blaspheme the name of the true God. Look at verse 36, "Then the king will 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". Now that phrase "Speak monstrous things against the God of gods" - that's what the word "Blaspheme" means. It means to strike against: it means to speak against God. And that's what this final world leader will do. He will say horrible things about God and his Son Jesus Christ, and people will just accept it for what it is.
Secondly, he will magnify his own name, verse 37 says, "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". In the end times there will be such a desire for a political leader who can bring peace in this chaotic world: there'll be such a desire for anybody who can put an end to the fiscal crisis that the whole world will be experiencing at that time that anyone who is able to do that will be worshipped as the Lord and Savior. That's what it says about the coming of the antichrist. That is how he is going to be able to elevate himself above God without any revolt at all, except from the remnant.
Thirdly, he will place his faith in military might. He will place his faith in military might. Look at verses 38-39, "But instead of worshiping the true God, he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know: he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures". Is he talking about a specific god that this antichrist will worship? No. What he's saying is he will put his faith in military power. He will want to acquire military power in a way none of his predecessors ever had it. And he will spend an inordinate amount of the world's resources to acquire those powers.
Final characteristic of the antichrist is found in verses 40-45. He will battle against the nations. Look at verse 40, "At the end time the king of the south will collide with him, and the king of the north will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships: and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. He will also enter the beautiful land", that's Israel, "and many countries will fall". I don't have time to explain all of this, but let me give you the capsulized version of it. Remember when the antichrist comes to power he does so as the head of a 10-nation confederacy over which he presides. But during the last three and a half years of that 7-year period, God is raining down his judgment on the earth. And these other kings of the other nations are growing weary of living under the tyranny of the antichrist, and so they plot to overthrow him. And they make several attempts to overthrow the antichrist.
Now look down at verses 44 and 45, "But rumors from the east and from the north will disturb this ruler", the antichrist, "And he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many". "Antichrist will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the two seas", that is the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, "And the beautiful holy mountain: yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him". The Bible says that that final world conflict will center at the Plane of Megiddo. And Revelation 16 says the demonic forces will lure all the kings of the world to the place of that last great battle. They have come to do war against antichrist. He is come to destroy all of his opposition and yet as they begin to fight one another.
To their surprise the clouds will part: the Lord Jesus Christ appears, that is the end of the great world leader antichrist just as Daniel prophesied. What is the application of this? Application's very, very simple. The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 contain 135 prophecies that have all been fulfilled. Verses 36-45 contain a few more prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. Is there anyone here who doubts that the same God, who has already fulfilled those 135 prophecies, is going to fulfill the final remaining prophecies about the return of Jesus Christ?
The end is certain, and as verse 27 says, it will come at the appointed time. God has a calendar and nothing changes that calendar. What appears to be chaos that we hear about on the news or read in the newspaper: Syria, Egypt, Israel, Iran: what appears to be meaningless chaos is all a part of God's plan that will precede the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And God is going to bring every one of those events to come at his appointed time. God is in control of what's happening in the world. He's in control of what's happening in your life as well. There is an appointed time for everything that happens to you. But there's one thought I want to leave you with today it's this: as interesting as all of this is, as Christians, what we're looking for is not the antichrist, we're looking for the return of Jesus Christ. That's what our hope is.