By treating the visions as a progressive revelation rather than distinctly separate visions, we can discover just WHO the antichrist will be, WHEN he will arrive on the scene, and WHERE he will emerge from. Since this prophecy was made in the 6th century B.C., a good part of it has already been fulfilled over the last 8 centuries. So as we wind our way through the vision, we’ll insert (in bold parentheses)
the portions that have been fulfilled, and when we get to the point that is yet future, we'll begin inserting the clues alongside their fulfillments (in blue parentheses)
. As I mentioned before, the results may surprise you. THE KINGS OF THE SOUTH AND THE NORTH“Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia (Cambyses 530-522 B.C., Gaumata 522 B.C., and Darius I 522-486 B.C.) and then a fourth (Xerxes I 486-465 B.C.), who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece (Phillip). Then a mighty king will appear (Alexander the Great 336-323 B.C.), who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others (Antipater & Cassander, Lysimachus, Antigonus, Ptolemy I)."
First of all, none of our clues appear to fit in this first paragraph. Then again, they shouldn’t fit, since this section was intended to provide a clear historical perspective that would lead us to Alexander the Great’s successors. The fulfillments of this part of the prophecy take us from 530 B.C. to just beyond 323 B.C., where Alexander’s empire was divided and parceled out to his Generals. So the prophecy now turns it’s attention to the inter-testament battles between the two most powerful of these successors, Ptolemy I of Egypt
('the South') and Seleucus I of Syria
('the North'), who had been one of Ptolemy's commanders; “The king of the South will become strong (Ptolemy I Soter 323-285 B.C.), but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power (Seleucus I Nicator 311-280 B.C.). After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South (Berenice) will go to the king of the North (Antiochus II Theos 261-246 B.C.) to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her (Antiochus‘ former wife Laodice had Berenice and Antiochus II assassinated)."
Once again, none of our clues appear to plug in to this account, but once again, they shouldn’t. We’re still reading about historical fulfillments pertaining to the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria. And from this point on when you read about “the king of the North“
, the prophecy refers to the various Syrian kings who succeeded Seleucus. In the same way, “the king of the South“
will refer to the various successors of Ptolemy of Egypt. So let’s continue;“One from her family line will arise to take her place (Berenice‘s brother Ptolemy III Euergetes 246-221 B.C., who had Laodice killed). He will attack the forces of the king of the North (Seleucus II Callinicus 246-226 B.C.) and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North will invade the realm of the king of the South but will retreat to his own country. His sons (Seleucus II Ceraunus 226-223 B.C. and Antiochus II ‘the Great’ 223-187 B.C.) will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress (Raphia in Southern Palestine)."
I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again it would appear that none of our clues were appropriate for this paragraph. The Egyptian and Syrian royalty continues to feud amongst themselves, each angling for control of the entire Fertile Crescent. So let’s continue;“Then the king of the South (Ptolemy IV Philopater 221-203 B.C.) will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North (Antiochus III), who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. (at Raphia in 217 B.C.) When the army is carried off, the king of the South will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands (Antiochus III lost 10,000 at Raphia), yet he will not remain triumphant. For the king of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped. In those times many will rise against the king of the South (Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203-181 B.C.). The violent men among your own people will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success (Ptolemaic General Scopas crushed rebellion in 200 B.C.).”
Again, no clues from our list appear to be fulfilled in this account. We are looking for certain words that will have highly specific fulfillments, so getting ‘close’ doesn’t count. The fulfillments must be precise. So let’s keep reading;“Then the king of the North (Antiochus III) will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city (Sidon). The forces of the South will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader (Antiochus III) will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it (He was in control of Palestine by 197 B.C. and had the power to destroy it, but never did). He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South (Ptolemy V). And he will give him a daughter in marriage (Cleopatra I to Ptolemy V) in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. Then he (Antiochus III) will turn his attention to the coastlands (Asia Minor & Greece) and will take many of them, but a commander (Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus) will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him (defeated Antiochus III at Magnesia in Asia Minor in 190 B.C.). After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more. His successor (Seleucus IV Philopater 187-175 B.C.) will send out a tax collector (finance minister Heliodorus) to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle (Seleucus was victim of conspiracy engineered by Heliodorus)."
Again, there are no specific fulfillments. But things are about to change. From this point on, the clues from our list begin to plug in at an alarming rate; THE CONTEMPTIBLE PERSON: “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty ("another king will arise, different from the others"). He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure ("when they feel secure, he will destroy many"), and he will seize it through intrigue ("a master of intrigue"). Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant ("He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’") will be destroyed ("he will destroy the mighty men……."). After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully ("he will cause deceit to prosper"), and with only a few people he will rise to power ("started small but grew in power"). When the richest provinces feel secure he will invade them ("when they feel secure, he will destroy many"), and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers ("it prospered in everything it did"). He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time."
Do you see what happened? Up until this point, each succeeding king in both empires were of royal blood, descending directly from the prior king. But suddenly, that pattern is broken when the “contemptible person”
comes in and seizes the Syrian crown. If you wonder why this person will not have “the honor of royalty”
, it‘s because he will be the ‘beast’ that was prophesied in each of Daniel’s earlier visions. This scenario is fully supported by Muslim traditions developed from the Koran and Sunna, and we’ll address that more fully in a future post. For now, let’s compare these highly specific clues with the fulfillments to this point;CLUES: "He will be different from the other kings"KINGS: "Not given the honor of Royalty" CLUES: "When they feel secure, he will destroy many"KINGS: "Will invade the kingdom when people feel secure"CLUES: "He will seize it through intrigue"KINGS: "He will be a master of intrigue"CLUES: "He will confirm a covenant with many"KINGS: "Both it and a prince of the covenant...."CLUES: "He will destroy the mighty men.."KINGS: "A prince of the covenant will be destroyed"CLUES: "He will cause deceit to prosper"KINGS: "He will act deceitfully"CLUES: "He started small but grew in power"KINGS: "With only a few he will rise to power"CLUES: "When they feel secure, he will destroy many"KINGS: "When they feel secure, he will invade them"CLUES: "It prospered in everything it did"KINGS: "He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth"
It seems beyond chance that all of these clues would suddenly begin to fulfill at precisely this point, UNLESS God was trying to tell us that THIS will be the antichrist. However, virtually every commentary that I’ve read over the years suggest that this paragraph was fulfilled back in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, and that HE was the ‘contemptible person’ that usurped the throne. But frankly, when you examine the evidence very closely, the history of Epiphanes is not a precise match to this prophecy. It is close, yes, but it is not precise, and God’s prophecies are all precisely fulfilled. NEXT TIME
In the next installment, we’ll finish the analysis of ‘The Kings of the South and the North”, and see what happens when the beast invades Israel.