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That test is prophecy—foretelling the future. It passes the test so well that critics have to twist the Bible to deny it!

In what other well-known book can we find not only the future revealed, but also the record of the fulfillment of foretold events when they came to pass many hundreds of years later? There can be no more dramatic proof of the inspiration and truth of the Bible than fulfilled prophecy.

Dr. Gleason Archer, renowned Old Testament scholar, wrote: “The Holy Bible is like no other book in all the world. It is the only book which represents itself as the written revelation of the one true God … demonstrating its divine authority by many infallible proofs. Other religious documents, such as the Muslim Koran, may claim to be the very word of God, but they contain no such self-authenticating proofs as does the Bible … [such as] the phenomena of fulfilled prophecy” ( A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 1974, p. 15).

Unlike any other book, the Bible offers its own test as to whether it is divinely inspired. That test is  prophecy.

Notice what Dr. Norman Geisler, author or coauthor of 60 some books, has stated: “One of the strongest evidences that the Bible is inspired by God … is its predictive prophecy. Unlike any other book, the Bible offers a multitude of specific predictions—some hundreds of years in advance—that have been fulfilled or else point to a definite future time when they will come true” ( Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 1999, p. 609).

How difficult is it to predict the future? Many secular psychics have attempted to do this very thing. “The People’s Almanac … did a study of the predictions of twenty-five top psychics. The results: Of the total seventy-two predictions, sixty-six (92 percent) were totally wrong … An accuracy rate around 8 percent could easily be explained by chance and general knowledge of circumstances” (ibid., p. 615).

Although the fulfillment of many Bible prophecies lies yet in the future, many have already been fulfilled, as we can see demonstrated in the historical record. If we can confirm fulfilled prophecy—especially in small detail—this evidence would be hard to ignore.

As with the historical evidence recorded by many biblical authors, God through prophecy gives us ample opportunity to disprove the Bible if it can be shown to be inaccurate. Isaiah, Daniel and others recorded many pronouncements, some in great detail, and God invites us to check His record through them.

Speaking through Isaiah, God challenges doubters to prove Him: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand …’” (Isaiah 46:9-10 Isaiah 46:9-10 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
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God’s challenge to the skeptics

The ancient Israelites frequently resorted to false prophets and empty oracles to gain special insight about the future. Their trust in these sources amounted to vain idolatry.

God Himself says that prophecy is a proof of the true God: “Let these idols come forward and foretell the future for us. Let them declare the meaning of these past events that we may reflect on it; let them predict the future to us that we may know what it holds. Declare what is yet to happen; then we shall know you are gods” (Isaiah 41:22-23 Isaiah 41:22-23 22 Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods: yes, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
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, REB).

The best and brightest minds are perplexed about what is happening in the world, including how to solve problems that have defied solution for generations. God, however, knows the solutions, and He has recorded for us exactly how our intractable problems will be solved. He knows how the human experience will end.

God recorded prophecies and their fulfillments in the Bible as proof of the inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture. If He can foretell events centuries in advance and then see that they are brought to pass, we have irrefutable proof of His existence and that the Bible is indeed His inspired Word for us. If God can bring some of His prophecies to pass, it becomes obvious that it is within His power to see that all the Bible’s recorded prophecies are brought to pass.

Let us consider how difficult it is to foretell the future. Did any human prognosticators foresee the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union? Did any seers have a premonition that the Berlin Wall would crumble so suddenly? These dramatic events caught the world by surprise.

On the other hand, during the Persian Gulf War of 1991 some self-proclaimed prophets foresaw this as Armageddon in the making. The prophesied Armageddon will occur, but this was not it. Specific aspects of the real Armageddon, as revealed in the Bible, were lacking in the Persian Gulf War. Those who had a solid grasp of biblical prophecy understood that this crisis did not include all the factors required for the final crisis at the close of the age.

Such a major crisis will occur. Exactly how it will develop cannot be foretold in detail by man. History is full of world-shaking events that have caught the most able statesmen by surprise. Millions of people will be confounded when the stage is finally set for the actual Armageddon.

The potential for dramatic shifts in world events increases as the world’s technological revolution continues to lunge forward. Events will astonish humankind as never before. Much of the world faces the future with fear and apprehension—and rightfully so, especially as wars, terrorism, iniquity and immorality increase. No one knows all the twists and turns that will take place in the years ahead.

How much can we know?

How much can a Christian really know about the future? People have sometimes made brazen predictions in the past, especially during crises and other tense times. The book of Daniel prophesied events fulfilled many centuries ago as well as some yet to be fulfilled. God instructed Daniel to “shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4 Daniel 12:4But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
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). This verse indicates that certain major prophecies will be understandable as the end approaches.

God’s Word tells us that a vast number of prophecies will find their complete fulfillment with the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, the resurrection of the dead, and the establishment of a reign of peace for 1,000 years (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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; Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
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). The major events leading up to that time will be understood by the people of God just before and during their fulfillment (Daniel 12:9-10 Daniel 12:9-10 9 And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
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; Amos 3:7 Amos 3:7Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
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).

The understanding of some major prophetic events is crucial as a guide to comprehending where we stand chronologically in God’s plan. The Bible is the lone trustworthy guide in these matters. It foretold much of what we know as history. Similarly, it can help us understand what will yet happen (be sure to download or request the free booklets Are We Living in the Time of the End? and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy ).

The purpose of this chapter is to address some prophecies that have already been fulfilled. This can help us see even more clearly that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, a trustworthy source that can help us understand issues critical to our future. Bible prophecy has rightly been called “history written in advance,” as we will see.

Key prophecies

The prophecies of Daniel provide important keys to establishing the accuracy of Bible prophecy. Many of his prophecies are so detailed and specific that, if they stand demonstrably proven, even the most biased mind will be at a loss to refute them.

In fact, some skeptics have not challenged the content of Daniel’s prophetic accuracy. Instead, rather than admit that his words are indeed inspired, they have simply labeled his book a fraud. They claim that it was not written by Daniel in the sixth century B.C., as we can tell by events written of in the book, but was penned by an unknown author sometime around the mid-100s B.C., long after many of the events prophesied in the book came to pass. This, critics allege, is the reason for the book’s startling prophetic accuracy.

Perhaps the best-known incident in the book of Daniel features Daniel in the lion’s den (chapter 6). Daniel’s testimony challenges the critics. But let’s first consider the nature of the critics’ approach. They dispute Daniel’s authorship because he refers to himself in the early chapters in the third person, as if writing about someone else. However, as The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out, this “was the custom among ancient authors of historical memoirs” (Gleason Archer Jr., 1985, Vol. 7, p. 4). In relating some of his experiences Daniel did write in the first person (Daniel 7:15 Daniel 7:15I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the middle of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
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; Daniel 8:15 Daniel 8:15And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.
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; Daniel 9:2 Daniel 9:2In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
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; Daniel 10:2 Daniel 10:2In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
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).

The identity of Daniel’s critics is significant as well. The first person to question the authenticity of Daniel’s authorship was the Greek scholar and historian Porphyry, who lived A.D. 233-304. He is labeled by historians as a Neoplatonist, which means he subscribed to the teachings of the Greek philosopher Plato rather than the Bible. “Porphyry is well known as a violent opponent of Christianity and defender of Paganism” ( Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol. 22, p. 104, “Porphyry”).

Since Porphyry was an enemy of Christianity, his objectivity is open to question. He had no factual basis for his opinion, and his view contradicted the testimony of Jesus Christ, who referred to Daniel as the author of the book (Matthew 24:15 Matthew 24:15When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)
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The early biblical scholar Jerome (A.D. 340-420) refuted Porphyry’s contention. Thereafter no one took Porphyry’s remarks seriously again until many centuries later. “He was more or less dismissed by Christian scholarship as a mere pagan detractor who had allowed a naturalistic bias to warp his judgment. But during the time of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, all supernatural elements in Scripture came under suspicion” ( Expositor’s, p. 13).

Some of today’s scholars with liberal leanings have recycled these centuries-old arguments. Old Testament historian Eugene Merrill says their beliefs are built on feeble evidence: “[Daniel’s] rhetoric and language are eminently at home in the sixth century [B.C.] … It is only on the most subjective and circular lines of evidence that the man and his writing have been denied historicity” ( Kingdom of Priests, 1996, p. 484).

Phenomenal prophecy and fulfillment

The accuracy of Daniel’s prophecy of remotely distant events is spectacular. For example, in the “70 weeks” prophecy recorded in Daniel 9:24-27 Daniel 9:24-27 24 Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured on the desolate.
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, “Daniel predicts the precise year of Christ’s appearance and the beginning of his ministry in A.D. 27” ( Expositor’s, p. 9).

A second remarkable prophecy recorded by Daniel is his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2. In the second year of his reign the Babylonian king had a troubling dream that none of his counselors could explain. Babylonian culture placed considerable emphasis on dreams, and Nebuchadnezzar was convinced that this one was of great importance (Daniel 2:1-3 Daniel 2:1-3 1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, with which his spirit was troubled, and his sleep broke from him. 2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said to them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
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His dream gives us a “disclosure of God’s plan for the ages till the final triumph of Christ” and “presents the foreordained succession of world powers that are to dominate the Near East till the final victory
of the Messiah in the last days” ( Expositor’s, pp. 39, 46).

Without prior knowledge of its content, Daniel explained the details of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar: “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (Daniel 2:31-33 Daniel 2:31-33 31 You, O king, saw, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before you; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
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).

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that his Babylonian Empire was represented by the head of gold (Daniel 2:37-38 Daniel 2:37-38 37 You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wherever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven has he given into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all. You are this head of gold.
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). The silver, bronze and iron components of the image, or statue, represented three powerful empires that were to follow mighty Babylon (Daniel 2:39-40 Daniel 2:39-40 39 And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
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).

This interpretation provided an astounding preview of history. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream occurred and was interpreted by Daniel about 600 B.C. The image represented, in symbolic form, the sequence of great empires that would dominate the Middle East for centuries.

“The silver empire was to be Medo-Persia, which began with Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon in 539 … This silver empire was supreme in the Near and Middle East for about two centuries” ( Expositor’s, p. 47).

“The bronze empire was the Greco-Macedonian Empire established by Alexander the Great … The bronze kingdom lasted for about 260 or 300 years before it was supplanted by the fourth kingdom” (ibid.).

“Iron connotes toughness and ruthlessness and describes the Roman Empire that reached its widest extent under the reign of Trajan” (ibid.). Trajan reigned A.D. 98-117, and the Roman Empire itself ruled for many centuries.

The fourth empire was depicted as having 10 toes. The feet and toes were composed partly of iron and partly of clay, as Daniel 2:41 explains. “Verse 41 deals with a later phase or outgrowth of this fourth empire, symbolized by the feet and ten toes—made up of iron and earthenware, a fragile base for the huge monument. The text clearly implies that this final phase will be marked by some sort of federation rather than by a powerful single realm” (ibid.).

Another dream adds important details

Additional aspects of this succession of empires were revealed to Daniel in a later dream. This time the four empires were represented by four beasts—a lion (Babylonian Empire), a bear (Persian Empire) a leopard (Greco-Macedonian Empire), and a fourth beast described as “terrible” and unlike the other three (Daniel 7:1-7 Daniel 7:1-7 1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head on his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. 2 Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove on the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand on the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and see another, like a leopard, which had on the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
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).

Notice what verse 7 says about this fourth creature: “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” What does this description mean? It is a reference to the great power of Rome, which crushed all who opposed it. “Thus the superior power of the colossus of Rome … is emphasized in the symbolism of this terrible fourth beast” ( Expositor’s, p. 87).

The ultimate fulfillment of this part of the prophecy is yet in our future. As Expositor’s explains, this beast will ultimately manifest itself in “an end-time revival of the Roman Empire” (ibid., p. 25).

This concurs with Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
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, which obviously indicates that the second coming of Christ will occur in a time during which vestiges of the fourth beast, or kingdom, still exist: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed … it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

The greater part of these prophetic events, as detailed by the two dreams, has already been fulfilled. Their detailed completion affirms the divine inspiration of the Bible. The odds of any person foreseeing this on his own defy credibility. As Daniel said, “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28 Daniel 2:28But there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head on your bed, are these;
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).

In this regard, the European Union of our time should be of special interest. When it began with the Treaty of Rome in 1957, few imagined the great economic and political power it would wield today. Fewer still perceive where the push for European political integration is headed—to the prophesied revived Roman Empire of the last days.

The Bible’s most detailed prophecy

Daniel 11 records another phenomenal prophecy. The chronological setting is given in Daniel 10:1 Daniel 10:1In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
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as the “third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (536-535 B.C.). A “man,” no doubt an angel (Daniel 9:21 Daniel 9:21Yes, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
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), came to tell Daniel what would occur in the “latter days” (Daniel 10:14 Daniel 10:14Now I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
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).

The prophecy that follows is the most detailed in all the Bible. Given more than 500 years before the birth of Christ, this prophecy spans events from that time until the future return of Christ. The initial stages of the prophecy confirm the Bible because they have already been fulfilled, as can be verified by a study of the Persian and Greek empires. No man could foresee such fine historical detail.

Some elements of what follows are intricate, requiring close attention. But a comparison of the prophetic words with the historical record makes them clear.

The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 give an account, written years in advance, of the intrigue between two political entities—the “king of the South” and the “king of the North.” In secular history, the king of the South is often referred to as Ptolemy. The Ptolemaic dynasty ruled from Alexandria in Egypt. The king of the North ruled from Antioch in Syria under the name Seleucus, or Antiochus.

With this in mind, let’s examine some of the details of the prophecy. You can find more information on the historical fulfillment of much of this prophecy in resources such as The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, which we quote below, or other reliable reference works.

Rather than our quoting the entire scriptural passage, we recommend that you read in your own Bible the verses cited below, and remember that these details were foretold far in advance of their occurrence.

Daniel 11:2 Daniel 11:2And now will I show you the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.
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The “three more kings” are: Cambyses, the elder son of Cyrus; pseudo-Smerdis, an impostor who passed himself off as Cyrus’ younger son, who had been secretly killed; and Darius the Persian. “The Persian king who invaded Greece was … Xerxes, who reigned 485-464 B.C.” ( Expositor’s, p. 128).

Daniel 11:3-4 Daniel 11:3-4 3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
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“Verse 3 introduces us to … the rise of Alexander the Great” (ibid.). The language in verse 4 “clearly suggests that this mighty conqueror was going to have a comparatively brief reign … In seven or eight years he accomplished the most dazzling military conquest in human history. But he lived only four years more; and … died of a fever in 323” (ibid.).

Alexander’s kingdom was divided “among four smaller and weaker empires” ( Expositor’s, p. 129). Alexander’s infant son had been murdered in 310 and an illegitimate brother assassinated in 317. “Thus there were no descendants or blood relatives to succeed Alexander himself” (ibid.). So his kingdom was not divided among his posterity (verse 4).

Alexander’s generals warred for control of his empire. The ensuing struggles for domination eliminated all but four, who became heads of the four divisions of his empire. This division into four was also foretold in the four-headed leopard of Daniel 7 and the breaking of a male goat’s large horn into four separate horns in Daniel 8. The four successors were Cassander, reigning in Greece and the West, Lysimachus in Thrace and Asia Minor, Ptolemy in Egypt, and Seleucus in Syria. Of these four, two—Ptolemy and Seleucus—expanded their rule and territory. These were the kings of Egypt and Syria, respectively.

The machinations that follow relate to these two. They are referred to as the king of the South (Ptolemy) and the king of the North (Seleucus) because of their location relative to Jerusalem.

Daniel 11:5 Daniel 11:5And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.
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“The king of the South was to be Ptolemy I” ( Expositor’s, p. 130). The biblical expression “one of his princes” refers to Seleucus. He had originally served under Ptolemy. In the intrigue after Alexander’s death, Seleucus ultimately gained control over Syria and became king of the North. Seleucus eventually wielded more power than Ptolemy, controlling the greater part of what had been Alexander’s empire. The dynasty of the Seleucid line was to continue until 64 B.C.

One conflict after another

Daniel 11:6 Daniel 11:6And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.
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:
A state of tension and hostility existed between the king of the South and the king of the North. Ptolemy I died in 283 B.C. In 252 the two powers attempted a treaty under which Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy II, was to marry Antiochus II, the king of the North. Laodice, the first wife of Antiochus II, was repudiated. In 246 B.C. Antiochus II was poisoned—widely assumed to be through the manipulations of Laodice. She claimed that Antiochus on his deathbed named her son heir. Berenice asked for help from Egypt to secure the throne for her own young son, but Laodice had them both assassinated.

The prophecy “she [Berenice] shall be given up” refers to the coup that Laodice engineered to effect the execution of Berenice. “With those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times” refers to the deaths of others around Berenice. Berenice, her father Ptolemy II and her husband Antiochus II were all removed from power by death in 246 B.C. Some nobles who had supported Berenice as queen were also brought down.

Daniel 11:7-9 Daniel 11:7-9 7 But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail: 8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north. 9 So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
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Retaliation followed. A series of military actions, which came to be known as the Laodicean War, resulted. Ptolemy II’s son Ptolemy III sought to avenge his sister’s death. He attacked the king of the North, now Laodice’s son Seleucus II, and captured Seleucia, the port and fortress of the Syrian capital of Antioch. Verse 8 describes the recapture by Ptolemy of “long-lost idols and sacred treasures” ( Expositor’s, p. 131) that had been stolen from Egypt by Cambyses in 526 B.C.

Peace was concluded between Ptolemy III and Seleucus II in 241 B.C. Ptolemy III died in 221, outliving Seleucus II by nearly six years.

Daniel 11:10-12 Daniel 11:10-12 10 But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress. 11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand. 12 And when he has taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
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The sons of Seleucus II attacked the king of the South after their father died. One of these sons, Seleucus III, reigned for only three years. His military activity was relatively minor. He died by poisoning. Another son, Antiochus III (the Great), did “overwhelm and pass through.” He advanced into the Holy Land, which Egypt had controlled.

Ptolemy IV, the king of the South, retaliated (verse 11) and defeated the larger army of Seleucus III at the Battle of Raphia in 217 B.C. After his victory Ptolemy turned to a life of debauchery during which he slaughtered tens of thousands of Jews in Egypt (verse 12). Through all this he weakened his kingdom.

Daniel 11:13-16 Daniel 11:13-16 13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches. 14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of your people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall. 15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand. 16 But he that comes against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
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The phrase “at the end of some years” refers to an incident when, 15 years after his defeat, Antiochus III came against Ptolemy V, still a young boy. (Ptolemy IV had died in 204.) The Egyptian provinces were in turmoil because of the wretched life of Ptolemy IV. Many of the people—including Jews sympathetic to the king of the North—joined with Antiochus against the king of the South. The rebellion was ultimately crushed by the Egyptian general Scopas (verse 14).

When the forces of Antiochus withdrew over the winter of 201-200, Scopas regained some lost ground. The king of the North responded with another invasion. He won a decisive victory in northern Israel at the Battle of Panium and captured the city of Sidon (“a fortified city”), where Scopas surrendered. Antiochus acquired complete control of the Holy Land, the “Glorious Land” (verse 16).

Daniel 11:17 Daniel 11:17He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
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The Revised English Bible reads: “He [the king of the North] will resolve to advance with the full might of his kingdom; and, when he has agreed terms with the king of the south, he will give his young daughter in marriage to him, with a view to the destruction of the kingdom; but the treaty will not last nor will it be his purpose which is served.”

Having defeated Scopas, Antiochus desired to gain control of Egypt itself. He gave his daughter Cleopatra (not the later, more famous queen of that name) to Ptolemy V in marriage. He believed she would betray the interests of her husband in favor of him, her father. But Cleopatra frustrated the plans of Antiochus by
siding with her husband.

Daniel 11:18-19 Daniel 11:18-19 18 After this shall he turn his face to the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn on him. 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
American King James Version×
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Next, Antiochus attacked islands and coastal cities of southern Asia Minor and the Aegean area—at first areas that Egypt controlled and then farther west in response to Greeks who appealed to him for help against increasing Roman control in the area. He also gave asylum to Rome’s enemy, Hannibal of Carthage, who assisted him in landing in Greece. Rome responded by attacking Antiochus and inflicting defeat on his forces. The Romans deprived him of much of his territory and took several hostages to Rome, including Antiochus’ son. Rome exacted heavy tribute of him (verse 18).

Antiochus returned in disgrace to his stronghold, Antioch. Unable to pay the heavy fees exacted by the Romans, he attempted to plunder a pagan temple in the eastern part of his kingdom. His action so enraged local inhabitants that they killed him, bringing him to an inglorious end (verse 19).

Daniel 11:20 Daniel 11:20Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
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According to 3:7-40 3:7-40
American King James Version×
, Antiochus’ other son, Seleucus IV, was also financially distressed by the tribute to Rome (2 Maccabees is an apocryphal book that reports on these events). Seleucus sent one of his chief officials, Heliodorus, to collect taxes, even through plundering the temple at Jerusalem. Heliodorus went to the holy city but obtained nothing. Seleucus was later poisoned by Heliodorus and was thus killed—”but not in anger or in battle.”

Antiochus Epiphanes

Daniel 11:21-35 Daniel 11:21-35 21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. 22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflowed from before him, and shall be broken; yes, also the prince of the covenant. 23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. 24 He shall enter peaceably even on the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yes, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time. 25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him. 26 Yes, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. 27 And both of these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. 28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land. 29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. 30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. 31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate. 32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. 34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be helped with a little help: but many shall join to them with flatteries. 35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
American King James Version×
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These verses speak of the infamous Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), the brother of Seleucus IV, who had earlier been taken hostage to Rome. He was a “tyrannical oppressor who did his utmost to destroy the Jewish religion altogether” ( Expositor’s, p. 136).

Antiochus passed laws that forbade the practice of the Jewish religion under penalty of death. He was a man of incredible cruelty. On his orders “an aged Scribe, Eleazar, was flogged to death because he refused to eat swine’s flesh. A mother and her seven children were successively butchered, in the presence of the governor, for refusing to pay homage to an image. Two mothers who had circumcised their new-born sons were driven through the city and cast headlong from the wall” (Charles Pfeiffer, Between the Testaments, 1974, pp. 81-82).

Daniel 11:31 Daniel 11:31And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.
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This refers to the momentous events of Dec. 16, 168 B.C., when a crazed Antiochus entered Jerusalem and killed 80,000 men, women and children ( 5:11-14 5:11-14
American King James Version×
). He then desecrated the temple by offering a sacrifice of swine to the chief Greek god, Zeus. This outrage was a forerunner of a comparable event that Jesus Christ said would occur in the last days (Matthew 24:15 Matthew 24:15When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)
American King James Version×
).

Daniel 11:32-35 Daniel 11:32-35 32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. 34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be helped with a little help: but many shall join to them with flatteries. 35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
American King James Version×
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These verses appear to describe, on one level, the indomitable will and courage of the Maccabees, a family of priests who resisted Antiochus and his successors. The Maccabees’ revolt against the Syrian king was triggered when “Mattathias, the leading priest in the city of Modein … , after killing the officer of Antiochus who had come to enforce the new decree concerning idolatrous worship … , led a guerrilla band that fled to the hills” ( Expositor’s, p. 141).

Mattathias was aided in his cause by five sons, most notably Judah or Judas, nicknamed Maqqaba (Aramaic for “hammer,” whence derives the name Maccabees). Many of these patriots died in this cause, but their heroics ultimately drove the Syrian forces from the country.

On another level, these verses evidently refer to the New Testament Church, with their references to mighty works, persecution and apostasy continuing “until the time of the end” (verse 35).

Indeed, with the explicit reference to the end time, Daniel’s prophecy definitely takes on a different tone at this point. To quote Expositor’s: “With the conclusion of the preceding pericope [extract] at v. 35, the predictive material that incontestably applies to the Hellenistic empires and the contest between the Seleucids and the Jewish patriots ends. This present section (vv. 36-39) contains some features that hardly apply to Antiochus IV, though most of the details could apply to him as well as to his latter-day antitype, ‘the beast.’”

Liberal and conservative scholars “agree that all of chapter 11 up to this point contains strikingly accurate predictions of the whole sweep of events from the reign of Cyrus … to the unsuccessful effort of Antiochus Epiphanes to stamp out the Jewish faith” (ibid.).

Interpreting the prophetic evidence

These scholars differ, however, on what this means. Speaking of the two viewpoints, Archer says that to conservative scholars “this pattern of prediction and fulfillment [serves as] compelling evidence of the divine inspiration and authority of the Hebrew Scriptures, since only God could possibly foreknow the future and see to it that his announced plan would be precisely fulfilled. To the rationalists, however, who begin with the premise that there is no personal God … , there is no possibility of a genuine fulfillment of prophecy …

“All biblical instances of fulfilled prophecy must be accounted for as pious fraud in which only after the event takes place has the fiction recording its prediction been devised … This is what rationalists have to say about all predictive portions anywhere in the Bible. For them there can be no such thing as divine revelation of events to come. Otherwise they must surrender their basic position and acknowledge the possibility of the supernatural, as demonstrated by detailed fulfillment of events foretold, as here in Daniel, by a prophet of God more than 360 years in advance” ( Expositor’s, pp. 143-144).

What this is saying is that those who dispute even the possibility of the existence of Bible prophecy do it because they want to deny the supernatural; they want to deny even the existence of a God who is able to foretell events down to the smallest details.

Some atheists admit that they reach their conclusions because they simply do not want God telling them how to live.

For instance, Aldous Huxley wrote in Ends and Means of his bias: “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption … The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves.”

He continued, “For myself … the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation … We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom ” (1938, pp. 270, 272-273).

How much more plainly can it be said? People deny the authority of the Bible because they do not want God telling them what to do. But for those who are willing to see, the truth is clear. God alone can foretell the future and then bring it to pass. It stands as irrefutable proof of His existence and of the divine origin of the Bible for those willing to look into it, accept it and believe Him.

And in Isaiah 45:21-22 Isaiah 45:21-22 21 Tell you, and bring them near; yes, let them take counsel together: who has declared this from ancient time? who has told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. 22 Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
American King James Version×
(NIV) He challenges us to do just that: “Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”

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