I don’t begin to have any understanding of the future history which the man in linen (Gabriel? The angel of the Lord?) relates in Daniel 11. I believe it deals with Greece as the 3rd great kingdom and all the turmoil following the death of Alexander the Great. That’s an extensive study in itself, which surely some have done. I have no doubt that since this is the infallible Word of God, it happened just as it was laid out. However, what we see here is that which often occurs in God’s prophetic Word. He gives the prophets vision of the future but they unwittingly compress events that extend over a long period of time. These foretellings often foreshadow the future as well with something similar to that which happened in the past.
The rise of Antiochus Epiphanes in Israel’s 2nd Temple period, a.k.a. The Intertestamental period is one such foreshadowing. This wicked ruler comes to Jerusalem and desecrates the temple in what is known as the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31). This man with his sacrificing of a pig and spreading its blood in the Holy Place are forerunners of what Antichrist will do at the midpoint of the 7-year Tribulation. Who is the text speaking of in Daniel 11:36-39 – Antiochus Epiphanes or Antichrist?
“And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done. He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these. A god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall load with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.”
Probably both. And that’s the interesting thing about these prophecies. It’s hard to know where the past breaks off from the future in their merging.
However, there is a brief discussion about faithful believers. It likely applies to those living at that past time, but also to today. Following the description of the desolation of the temple, we see in Daniel 11:32-35:
“He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.”
If we think about how Antichrist will likely operate, he will be a man of great deception. These verses apply to Israel, although certainly aspects of them pertain to Gentiles as well. Many of the people of Israel will be taken in by the charisma and deceptive words that Antichrist utters. For the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, because of his role in confirming the covenant that brings false peace to Israel, the people will consider him a hero of sorts. When he desolates the temple everything changes. The Jews will realize they’ve been duped. At that time Antichrist goes on a genocidal killing spree. He wants to eliminate as many Jews as possible. Here is where this statement comes in: And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder.
A portion of the Jewish people will have an awakening and come to believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah, Savior, and Lord. They will be the wise ones noted. Through that wisdom, they will inform others as to the truth. God will help them. Perhaps this is a reference to their flight to Petra, where they reach that stronghold on wings of eagles. I’ve speculated elsewhere that this could mean the Lord supernaturally transports them to this safe haven, just as perhaps the similar reference during the Exodus means that God translated His people to safety from Pharaoh’s army (i.e. Raptured them in the same manner He did later with Philip after his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch).
This will be a challenging time for people who come to true faith. God’s purpose in their stumbling is to cement their understanding of who Christ is. Difficult circumstances will purify them and harden their resolve to follow Christ alone. They will come to know that only He is worthy of their worship.
The final 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation will be the most difficult ever in the history of this planet. This is confirmed in Daniel 12:1:
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”
Israel will have supernatural help from the archangel Michael who sits over her as prince and a mighty son of God. This final time of Jacob’s Trouble is when Zechariah 13:8-9 reaches fulfillment:
“In the whole land, declares the Lord,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
Only 1/3 of all Israel who remain alive after Antichrist’s purge will exalt Jesus and be saved. The rest will perish. It’s a harsh judgment – but just – upon the Jewish people who have for so long rejected Christ as Messiah. There are consequences when one’s heart remains filled with deception and wickedness.
Following the Tribulation a wonderful and horrifying event occurs as Daniel 12:2 says:
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
The righteous will rise from death to eternal life while the unrighteous will descend to the Lake of Fire forever.
How critical it is that as many come to true faith as possible – both Jew and Gentile! This is no fairy tale or allegorical whimsy. God has spoken that these events will occur. All who ignore His Words do so at their own peril.
Daniel 12:4 gives us a clue as to when all these prophecies will come to pass as the man in linen relates:
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
In our world do many criss-cross the planet and engage in neverending travel to diverse places, i.e. run to and fro? Is immense knowledge at our fingertips when we Google something to learn more?
We certainly meet this description of the time of the end. This is just one of many reasons we can say that time is short. It’s why people must make a final determination: Do they belong to the Lord as one of His children or do they belong to the world?
Now is the time of choosing.