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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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23.1 The Antichrist In Daniel

Without doubt, Daniel’s prophecies repeatedly refer to a specific, evil individual of the last days. These prophecies have largely, in my view, been misinterpreted through seeking to limit their fulfilment to Antiochus or some other person who persecuted the Jews before the time of Christ.

Daniel 7:25 speaks of an individual who will persecute the Lord’s people for three and a half years, and change “times and law”- as if he is a fake Jesus Christ, who likewise changed the Law. This person arises in the time of the end (Daniel 8:23)- and this phrase in Daniel always has some reference to the time of the Lord’s return. He is to arise out of the Syrian Kingdom, i.e. part of the divided empire of Alexander the Great. The time when he will arise will be the time when “iniquity is come to the full”- which fits most comfortably with the very last days. Daniel 8:17, 19 make it clear: “The vision pertains to the time of the end...the final period of indignation...the appointed time of the end.” Note that Antiochus Epiphanes didn’t reign at the end  of the Syrian dynasty [as sometimes claimed].

Daniel 9

Daniel 9 gives more detail about this person. Keil translates Daniel 9:26,27:  “The city, together with the sanctuary, shall be destroyed by the people of the prince who shall come, who shall find his end in the flood; but war shall continue to the end, since destruction is irrevocably decreed. That prince shall force a strong covenant for one week on the mass of the people, and during half a week he shall take away the service of sacrifice, and borne on the wings of idol abominations [cp. Ps. 18:10, where the true God is also borne on wings] shall carry on a desolating rule, till the firmly decreed judgment shall pour itself upon him as one desolated” (Commentary   p. 373). Antichrist’s destruction with the flood [note the definite article] comfortably connects with the Lord’s usage of the flood as a symbol of the latter day judgment upon His enemies (Mt. 24:39). The person spoken about will be involved in war until the end of his days; he will die at the end of his military campaign against God’s people. This was certainly not true of Titus in AD70.

Very similar language to Daniel 9:26 occurs in Is. 10:23: “For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, shall the Lord of Hosts execute in the midst of the land”. The context is speaking of “the Assyrian”. The same language of the last days is found in Is. 28:22: “a decisive destruction on all the earth.” The latter day antichrist is therefore modelled upon the “Assyrian” of the Old Testament. Note that “the man of sin” of 2 Thess. 2:8 alludes to “the wicked one” of Is. 11:4 LXX, who is, again, “the Assyrian”! So it would appear very likely that the antichrist figure comes from ‘Assyria’. And what’s going on in Iraq and the territory of ‘Assyria’ right now is gripping the whole world’s attention.  Note how the Assyrian is described in Is. 30:31-33 as being thrown into a lake of fire- just as the future beast will be (Rev. 19:20).

Daniel 11,12

But Daniel 11 and 12 [which are one vision, chapter 12 explaining the details of chapter 11] provide yet more insight. The antichrist rages against God’s people for 1290 days after he sets up the abomination that makes desolate- until he is destroyed by the Lord’s coming (Daniel 11:31, cp. 12:11). The Lord Jesus specifically interprets the “abomination that makes desolate” as occuring in the last days. Therefore Daniel 11:31- the first reference to it- must refer to a time after the time of Jesus in the first century. The whole section Daniel 11:31 – Daniel 12:11 gives more detail about this “abomination” and the person and power who places it. That whole passage therefore speaks of the final tribulation- defined as three and a half year years in Daniel 12. Yet it’s clear enough that the events in Daniel 11 prior to verse 21 speak of things in Old Testament history. There’s therefore, I suggest, a sudden jump in fulfilment at Daniel 11:21, reaching ahead to the last days. This is the section which starts speaking of the “vile person” who places the “abomination that makes desolate”, and finally meets his end in the final conflict of Daniel 11:45. But this kind of ‘sudden jump’ is not at all uncommon in Old Testament prophecy; in fact, it’s a fairly common feature of Daniel’s prophecies in particular! Daniel 2 presents an outline of the powers that would dominate Israel, and then jumps to the very last days. And the later prophecies in Daniel which expand upon that opening vision do just the same.

The evil man who places the desolating abomination meets his end in war (Daniel 11:45)- just as the same individual does in Daniel 8:23. And this leads in to the resurrection and judgment at the Lord’s return (Daniel 12:1,2). Likewise the Lord predicted that the final tribulation- which He says is that prophesied in Daniel- would be followed “immediately” by His return (Mt. 24:29). So the Lord’s own interpretation of Daniel 11 leaves us with no doubt that the whole section about the abomination and the individual responsible for it applies to our last days. Any partial fulfilment it may have had in Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero or Titus only makes those men prototypes of the final abuser yet to come.

So Who Is He?

As with so many prophecies, the intention of this prophecy is surely so that when the prophecy is fulfilled, then we will know. It’s not intended to pinpoint the individual far ahead of time. What we do know from Daniel 11 is that the “vile person” is also called “the king of the north”, and this is a common title for the ruler of Assyria- present day Iran / Iraq / Kurdistan / Syria. And we’ve shown above that Old Testament passages about the ruler of Assyria are the basis for other ‘antichrist’ prophecies of the New Testament. The phrase “vile person” is interesting in itself. If the first usage of a word in Scripture is significant, then Gen. 25:34 is indeed helpful here- because it is used of Esau, father of many of the Arab tribes. And it recurs in describing Edom in Obadiah 2, Goliath the Philistine / Palestinian (1 Sam. 17:42), “Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arabian” (Neh. 2:19), and Haman the persecutor of the Jews (Esther 3:6). All these men were Arab prototypes of the “vile person”, the ruler of Assyria, who is to again persecute God’s people.

This latter day “king of the north” will be troubled by “ships from the West”, will have a conflict over the land of Israel with his opposite number, “the king of the south”; will sit at a conference table and be deceitful; and will persecute God’s people, and receive assistance from those of them who deny the faith. He will rise to power in the name of “peace” (Daniel 11:21); connecting with the ‘peace and safety’ cry which there will be just prior to the Lord’s return, according to 1 Thess. 5. He will rise to power suddenly from a weak and broken people [Iraq?] (Daniel 11:23). During all this, there will be energetic preaching of the truth (Daniel 11:33; 12:3). Quite how all this will work out is impossible and futile to speculate upon. But when it happens, those who understand Daniel, as the Lord bids us to, will understand. And this is the purpose of this study- “let him that readeth understand” was the Lord’s comment about studying these very prophecies!