The King of the South
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The King of the South
In the book of Daniel, the term “the time of the end” is used several times. In employing this phrase, Daniel described a time immediately preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ. During this period a leader designated as “the king of the South” will launch some type of attack against a powerful European coalition led by a ruler designated as “the king of the North.” Whatever method this assault will take, either by economic means, such as an oil embargo, or by military force, it will provoke a powerful and violent counter attack.
Daniel 11:40 describes what will happen: “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.”
Who are these two personalities that Daniel references? In ancient times, the “king of the South” represented a line of Egyptian pharaohs (the Ptolemy dynasty) that waged war against the kingdom of Syria (Daniel 11:4). The Syrian “king of the North” (of the Seleucid dynasty) was Antiochus IV. (Also known as Antiochus Epiphanes, this king invaded Judah and set up an idol in the temple in Jerusalem in 167 B.C.—Daniel 8:23-27; Daniel 9:27). But then in 64 B.C. the Roman Empire conquered Syria and made it a Roman province. As a result, Rome assumed the role of “king of the North” (Daniel 11:36-39).
But the prophecy of Daniel 11:40 is specifically intended for a much later phase in world history. It refers to the “the time of the end,” which is the period just prior to Christ’s return to earth to set up the world-ruling Kingdom of God. Therefore, the ancient Egyptian and Syrian human rulers were simply “types” of the two future political/military leaders who will fulfill the end-time prophecy of Daniel 11.
The dream of Muslim unity
What is the story behind this impending, prophesied clash of civilizations—between a traditionally Christian Europe and an Islamic culture and religion based in the heart of the Middle East? For many years the dream of Muslims everywhere has been the restoration of a respected, influential caliph (meaning a successor to Muhammad). Known also as “The Prophet," Muhammad established the Islamic religion in the early 600s A.D. A future successor’s trans-national caliphate (denoting the dominion and authority of the caliph), is greatly desired in order to bring much needed order and unity to all Muslims around the globe.
After the death of Muhammad in 632 A.D., four great caliphates successively governed in the Middle East and North Africa. This included the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which collapsed following the first World War. Since that time the fervent and persistent desire among conservative Muslims has been to restore the caliphate.
Additionally, many Muslims yearn for the future appearance of a powerful, authoritarian Islamic messiah referred as “the guided one” or al-Mahdi. They believe this individual will be divinely led and will lead Islam to become the predominant religious force throughout the world. Whether al-Mahdi or the leader of a restored Islamic caliphate becomes the prophesied “king of the South” remains to be seen. Nonetheless, there is certainly a strong possibility that the dream of Muslim unity could again be realized at “the time of the end,” at least for a short time.
Let’s now return to the scriptural discussion about the coming “king of the South.” The Bible does not explain why this leader launches his aggressive action against the “king of the North” (as we read earlier in Daniel 11:40). Even so, we could conjecture that he perceives it is his duty to protect Muslim immigrants in Europe from mistreatment and persecution or to magnify Islam’s influence by force of arms (jihad or “holy war”) or for some other reason.
Whatever the motive, the retaliatory attack launched by the “king of the North” (also called “the Beast” in Revelation 13:1) will be absolutely devastating. Although a few predominately Islamic nations will be excluded from the onrushing and powerful military blitzkrieg, this monstrous armed incursion will utterly overpower and vanquish other Islamic-majority states.
Continuing in Daniel 40:41-43 we read: “He [‘the king of the North’] shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.”
What should we do?
Although we certainly do not know who the Kings of the North and of the South will be, events will bring them to the forefront of world awareness in the coming years. As the verses we just read describe, shattering, brutal war and destruction lay ahead for the people of the Middle East and North Africa. It will however, also affect many other nations around the world. Why? Because world order will be turned upside down, which will promote violence and cruelty in nations around the earth (see Matthew 24). Plus where warfare occurs, scarcity, suffering and starvation are not far behind (Luke 21:21-24).
Therefore since we are forewarned with key prophesied knowledge (through the scriptures we read and in many others) what should we do? We would be well advised to carefully watch world news and stay focused clearly on unfolding events in the Middle East and Europe. Furthermore, we ought to clearly recognize that the source of our physical and spiritual guidance and protection comes only from our Eternal Creator. Therefore it’s essential that we prepare for what is ahead by wholeheartedly submitting ourselves to God in repentance and obedience and through the faith in His Son Jesus Christ (Luke 5:32; Acts 5:32; Colossians 1:4).
There is a lot to unpack in the prophecy about this end-time clash of the king of the North and the king of the South. These two articles help shed more light on the subject:
Islam vs. the West: Why the Clash of Civilizations?