In “Isaac and Ishmael: The Origin of Middle East Conflict and the Foundation for Understanding Eschatology,” we examined the original enmity between Sarah and Hagar. We saw how Isaac and Ishmael inherited this same enmity toward each other, which has continued from that time and is playing out in front of us today. We were also introduced to the rather shocking claim that this enmity will climax in a showdown between an Islamic Antichrist from the line of Ishmael and a returning Jesus Christ from the line of Isaac. If this is true, we should expect to find supporting evidence in Scripture.
We’re going to go right to the heart of the matter in the Book of Daniel. Daniel 11 specifically answers one of the most important questions in all of prophecy:
Where in the world will the Antichrist rise to power?
Daniel is sealed until it’s unsealed
Before we look at chapter 11 there is something very important about the Book of Daniel that we all need to understand. Daniel’s prophecies are sealed until the time of the end. Consider these verses:
But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” [Daniel 12:4 NASB]
As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. [Daniel 12:8-9 NASB]
Why couldn’t Daniel understand what he was shown? He couldn’t understand because these things were sealed up from full understanding until the end time. Many will search “back and forth” through the pages of his book and will begin to fully understand what it means because God will begin to unseal it. It will be the right time in history.
What this means for us is at least some if not most of the interpretations prior to its unsealing are necessarily incorrect. Think on this for a while, please. We have been trying to understand a book that God has sealed from full understanding until the right time. In addition to this, we think we understand it! And what has been the popular understanding of Daniel’s book until now? The popular view has been that we should be watching for a European Antichrist from a revived Roman Empire.
It is equally as important for us to understand that the Book of Daniel is being unsealed now. We have to come to grips with these two truths or we will never see the things within its pages we have been longing to see because we’ll be looking in the wrong places on the earth. Since Daniel’s book is being unsealed now, this also means that what we’ll be looking at in this study isn’t something new. It has always been there waiting to be discovered at the right time. In summary:
- Daniel’s book has been sealed from full understanding until the end time
- Daniel’s book is being unsealed now
- Therefore, it is the end time
- Therefore, a correct and full understanding is becoming possible
Consider these as part of our updated prophetic operating system, which will allow us to receive the full benefit of end-time Bible prophecy.
While we explore chapter 11, don’t worry about the four beast kingdoms in chapter 7. Don’t worry about King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2. Don’t worry about Daniel 9:26, the verse most used by those who teach a revived Roman Empire. God willing, we’ll get to those things later to see how they all fit. What we’re going to do is just sit back and listen to Daniel tell the story and, by doing so, we will see that Daniel’s book interprets itself.
Please take a moment to read through chapters 10-12 before we continue. It’s Daniel’s last vision.
Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” [Daniel 10:14 NASB]
Prophetic geography is our friend
I like geography because geography doesn’t lie about the location of prophetic events. I’m not suggesting prophecy teachers lie, but you get the point. When applicable, prophetic geography outweighs any interpretations or traditions about the location of things we might bring to the text.
The Bible is an Israel-centric, specifically Jerusalem-centric, Middle Eastern book. This has been something very hard for us as Westerners to wrap our minds around. It was written in the Middle East and it’s about Middle Eastern people. I don’t mean it doesn’t have spiritual truths for us or anything like that [Romans 11:17]. What I am saying is that all of the geography in end-time prophecy is in relation to Israel. In other words, the action directly surrounds Israel [Joel 3:11-12].
We have to train our minds to migrate away from a Western-centric (or what some might call an ethnocentric) view of Bible prophecy to an Israel-centric view. According to God, Israel is the most important nation on the earth not the United States of America.
We need to have a working knowledge of the places the prophets wrote about in their visions at the time they were having them in order to have a right understanding of prophecy. These places can be found in the Old Testament prophetic books and we often skip right over them.
Daniel’s last vision
Upon the sudden death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., some of his generals rose to power and broke up his kingdom [11:3-4]. Daniel 11 highlights the exploits of two of these generals. Daniel names them the king of the south [11:5] and the king of the north [11:6].
After taking us through a couple hundred years of military conflict between these two kings and their successors (our past), he switches completely to our yet-to-be future in verse 40. Sometimes God likes to partially, or imperfectly, fulfill prophecy in the near future from the time it was written before He fully fulfills it in the far future – the time of the end. Prophecy teachers call this near/far fulfillment. This is what’s happening in chapter 11. We see that “at the end time” these two kings/kingdoms will once again war with each other for control of the region. And it’s here, in 11:40, where Daniel names the coming Antichrist the king of the north. He writes,
“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. [Daniel 11:40 NASB]
Here’s the same verse with clarification:
“At the end time the king of the South will collide with him (king of the north/Antichrist), and the king of the North (Antichrist) will storm against him (king of the south) with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he (king of the north/Antichrist) will enter countries, overflow them and pass through.” [Daniel 11:40 NASB]
Here’s a simple outline of the chapter:
- 11:1-20, various kings of the north
- 11: 21-35, near/far transition from the king of the north to the Antichrist
- 11:36-45, the Antichrist (named king of the north in verse 40)
Why does he do this? Why does Daniel go to such great lengths to specifically record the detailed actions of these kings? Why does Daniel then call the Antichrist the king of the north? The reason is, Daniel is establishing the geographic area of their rise to power so when he calls the Antichrist the king of the north it follows that the Antichrist will also rise to power in and rule this same area. Daniel is begging the question we need to answer:
Where is this north kingdom?
The geographic location of the Antichrist’s rise to power
Originally, these two generals, or kings as Daniel calls them, were Ptolemy in the south [11:5] and Seleucus in the north [11:6]. Historians have since named these two areas they ruled the Ptolemaic Empire and the Seleucid Empire. Here are maps of their empires:
A good study Bible will identify these areas for you. The Ptolemaic Empire included parts of modern-day Egypt, Libya and Sudan. The Seleucid Empire included parts of modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.
Now, here is 11:40, again, with these countries inserted for modern-day relevance:
“At the end time the king of the South (Egypt/Libya/Sudan) will collide with him (Turkey/Syria/Lebanon/Iran/Iraq), and the king of the North (Turkey/Syria/Lebanon/Iran/Iraq) will storm against him (Egypt/Libya/Sudan) with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he (Turkey/Syria/Lebanon/Iran/Iraq) will enter countries, overflow them and pass through.” [Daniel 11:40 NASB]
By highlighting the exploits of these two kings/kingdoms, Daniel is keeping our attention on the Middle East. By naming the Antichrist the king of the north, he is telling us he will rise to power in the same area as the previous kings of the north, which are types of the Antichrist. Daniel says the Antichrist will rise to power in an area, a kingdom, encompassing parts of modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, maybe others. From here forward, I may refer to this area only as Turkey or Turkey et al which means Turkey and others.
As we can clearly see, this area is not in the West but the Middle East. After 9/11 we have become increasingly aware that this area is not occupied by Atheism or Catholicism but Islam. This also suggests that this area will once again be united as a single kingdom just as it was in the days of these kings before the Antichrist will make his appearance, seize it [Daniel 7:24] and eventually rule the entirety of the Middle Eastern Islamic Kingdom, or Caliphate, after defeating the king of the south.
Where is the West in Bible prophecy?
Everyone wants to know where the West is in Bible prophecy. There are a few references to the West and, remarkably, we can find two of them in Daniel 11, the focus of our study!
Consider what one particular king of the north did in 11:18, which is now history to us:
Then he (king of the north) will turn his face to the coastlands (west) and capture many. But a commander will put a stop to his scorn against him; moreover, he will repay him for his scorn. [Daniel 11:18 NASB, parentheses added]
This king of the north, a type of Antichrist, made a military move westward and was stopped by… wait for it… a Roman commander! In other words, this type of Antichrist was in direct military conflict with the West!
In addition to this, 11:30, a verse firmly within the passage considered to be describing the Antichrist, mentions the “ships of Kittim” that come against him:
For ships of Kittim will come against him (king of the north); therefore he will be disheartened and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. [Daniel 11:30 NASB, parentheses added]
Where did these ships come from? According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, the word “Kittim” denotes “the Greeks or Romans on the shores opposite of Palestine,” or Cyprus. Both the NIV and the NLT use “[ships] of the western coastlands” instead of “ships of Kittim.” Both the CEV and the NCV use “from the west.” Here, again, we have the West coming against the king of the north. Simply, if the Antichrist were to come from the West, ships from the West would come with him not against him.
If we are to remain consistent in our interpretation of Daniel 11, coupled with the prophetic geography we’ve already uncovered, we must admit that the Antichrist will rise to power in the Middle East and that the West, at some point, may come against him, not the other way around. These additional verses in Daniel suggest the same:
“His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree And prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people. [Daniel 8:24]
He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price. [Daniel 11:39]
This also hints at the idea that the Antichrist will not fully control the entire world but that is the subject of another study.
You can learn more about the near fulfillment of parts of chapter 11 from the notes of a good study Bible including the names of the various kings of the north.
When we apply the basic hermeneutical rule of letting Scripture interpret Scripture, we find that Daniel identifies the geographic location of the Antichrist’s rise to power for us in chapter 11. It’s in the Middle East not Rome, Europe, America or anywhere in the West. Therefore, if the Antichrist isn’t rising to power in Rome, Europe, America or any other Western nation in Daniel 11, neither can he be elsewhere in Scripture. All of end-time prophecy describes the same events and the same conflict with the same end-time kingdom under the authority of the Antichrist.
It’s time for the Church to stop looking in Europe for the Antichrist and leave the Vatican alone (if you’re Catholic, you’re probably wanting a high-five right now). It’s time for the Church to stop teaching that the next prophetic event on the calendar is the rapture. We’re watching the next events. What we’re watching take place today in the Middle East are the early stages of the revival of an Islamic Caliphate thanks, in part, to Western foreign policy that enabled and encouraged the so-called Arab Spring.
Despite what we’re being told by the news media, the nations involved in the Arab Spring are in danger of being overrun by Sharia, not western-style democracy and there’s a good reason for this as we are identifying now. A most astounding irony is that the nation of the world that is most free from tyranny is showing itself to be the greatest enabling force for the development of the most tyrannical rule the world will ever know! Talk about a foreign policy blunder of biblical proportions!
This also means Babylon in Revelation is not Rome, the Vatican, America, the United Nations or the West but is the geographic region that actually bears its name – the Middle East.
By now you’re probably starting to wrestle with all of this. That’s good. I wrestled with it, too. It made me dig deeper. Though this one chapter in God’s Word more than suffices as evidence that the Antichrist will rise to power in the Middle East, don’t worry, we’re not going to rest only here. There’s much more to examine.
Articles of interest:
- Daniel 11:40-45 Two Kings or Three?
- Daniel’s Final Vision & the Antichrist – Why we may find a detailed description of the Antichrist beginning in Daniel 11:21 rather than 11:36.
- A History of the Commentary of Daniel 2:40 – See Appendix A for a complete story of the history of the commentaries of Daniel 2:40 over the last 18 centuries showing the rather flimsy foundation that the entire theology of a Roman Antichrist is built upon.