Kings of the North and South: Taking Another Look at Daniel’s Prophecy (Resources & Notes)

[Note:  Claiming that sacrificing of swine on the temple altar was the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation lacks any biblical credibility considering the context given to us by Jesus.]

[Note:  To say that the deeds of Antiochus Epiphanes were a “partial” fulfillment of the “abomination of desolation” is an interpretation that tries to make his actions the “first” in a series of partial fulfillments of the abomination that makes desolate, which places this prophetic event in an historical context, which also assumes that what was fulfilled cannot come forward into the future, which means that some parts of the prophecy were fulfilled historically and other parts are yet to be fulfilled in the future.]

[Note:  Jesus only spoke of one event called the “abomination of desolation,” and he made no historical reference to it except in the prophecy of Daniel, which does not allow us to claim that there were past fulfillments of this event in the times of the divided kingdoms of the former Greco-Macedonian Empire.  Because Jesus stated that:  “Whenever, therefore, ye may see the abomination of the desolation, that was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever is reading let him observe) then those in Judea—let them flee to the mounts;  he on the house-top—let him not come down to take up any thing out of his house; and he in the field—let him not turn back to take his garments.  And woe to those with child, and to those giving suck in those days; and pray ye that your flight may not be in winter, nor on a sabbath; for there shall be then great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world till now, no, nor may be” (Mt. 24:15-21, YLT).]

[Note: It is in the times of the gentiles that we should expect to see the rise to power of such a future ruler, which portends to a great many changes in the current geopolitical structures and political configurations that now supervise and oversee world affairs today, particularly in the Middle East.  These changes are generally depicted in the statements made by Daniel in the prophecy regarding the kings of the north and south, which speaks of agreements, betrayals and conflicts among coalitions of governments that eventually lead to greater troubles in the Middle East.]

[Note:  The concept of dualism in prophecy is based on historical typologies that seem to indicate some limited form of fulfillment of prophecy, but it should be understood that even though some historical events do resemble what is stated in prophecy on some scale it doesn’t mean that it is a fulfillment of the prophecy—partial or otherwise—because if it was a fulfillment then it would not come forward to happen again in the future.

This concept is sometimes applied to Daniel’s prophecy regarding the kings of the north and south, which has led to an erroneous interpretation that there has already been a “first” and “second” fulfillment of the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Jesus.  That is to say that the first was the action of Antiochus Epiphanes having swine sacrificed on the temple altar, and the second was the placing of an idol on the ruined temple after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans, and the third is yet to occur in the future.]

[Note:  What is missed in many interpretations is that the “abomination” is the desolator, and the armies that come to surround Jerusalem is by the work of his hands, and by bringing desolation to Jerusalem he will cause an unprecedented conflict in the future with a returning Jesus the Christ.]

[Note:  The concept of typology does exist in Scripture, and we see an example of this with John the Baptist who was regarded as another Elijah, and in this context we see that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of a prophecy.  But it could also be said of Elisha who was the successor to the office of Elijah, but in his case the prophecy of Malachi does not apply because the prophecy came after the death of Elisha and therefore the typology was applied to the time of Jesus’ ministry that began at Jerusalem.

Also, the prophecy of Malachi points to a future typology of Elijah by placing it in the context of the time period called “the dreadful day of the Lord,” which would apparently refer to the days of vengeance spoken of by Jesus (Mal. 4:5).]

[Note:  In Daniel’s prophecy we do not have the concept of dualism for the “little horn” because it has no historical context, and because Daniel was told that:  “at the time of the end is the vision,” which is a statement that tells us that we are not able to find an historical typology in any of the rulers that descended from the successors of the Diadochi (Dan. 8:23).

Understandably then we see that the angel Gabriel was explaining the future rise of a world leader, and Gabriel said to Daniel:  “Behold, I will make you know what shall happen in the last end of the indignation. For it is for the time appointed for the end.  The ram which you saw with two had horns are the kings of Media and Persia.  And the shaggy goat is the king of Greece.  And the great horn between his eyes is the first king.  And as for that which was shattered, and four stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in its power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have come to the full, a king, strong of face and skilled at intrigues, shall stand up” (Dan. 8:19-23, LITV).]

[Note:  It is reasonable to conclude that Daniel wrote about a king of the north who is in conflict with a king of the south, and each king represents a coalition of governments and nations who are confronting each other over the issue of Palestine and the city of Jerusalem.  This would allow us to say that the idea of north and south is not a geographic issue related to Jerusalem, but rather it is related to how these political spheres of influence place Jerusalem at the center of their geopolitical agendas.  The sense of this is understood from the fact that the king of the north is able to defeat the king of the south and “pass over” him until he reaches Palestine, and also into northern Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea (Dan. 11:36-45).  (A common interpretation does not account for the king of the south being passed over, but the text at face value certainly allows for it because the confrontation takes place before the king of the north is able to enter the “glorious land.”)]

[Note:  Mark tells us that when they “see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not,” then from that time forward there would be days of affliction “such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be” (Mk. 13:14, 19).  In this context we see that such a time of affliction is marked when they “see” the “abomination” in a position to bring desolation upon Jerusalem, which sets the stage for the return of Jesus.  This is also what we find in the writings of Matthew who stated that when they “see the abomination of desolation… stand in the holy place,” then what will follow is a “great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world” (Mt. 24:15, 21).]

[Note:  Luke tells us that:  “when you see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh,” and in this context Luke tells us that “these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Lk. 21:20, 22).  This corresponds with what we find in Daniel 11:40-44 when a king of the north establishes his political presence in Palestine, and according to Daniel this is when the “time of trouble” begins that will be unlike any other world conflict ever experienced in the history of humanity.  It also corresponds with the time of the resurrection from the dead of the first fruits spoken of by Jesus (Dan. 12:1-3).]

[Note:  The “great tribulation” is the end result of the “times of the gentiles,” and we cannot determine from the biblical account the length of time that will be needed to accomplish the “days of vengeance” unless the length of time is referred to in Daniel 12:11-12.  In these verses we are told that from the time “the daily sacrifice is taken away,” and also the “abomination of desolation” set up, we can account for a period of 1290 days, which leaves us to account for an additional 45 days for the “blessed” who come to the end of a period of 1,335 days.

If this is viewed from a geopolitical context, and the abomination is the desolator, then we know that a “king of the north” is the one who comes to power and ends the regular sacrifice, and he is the desolator and the abomination—“vile person”—who wars with the king of the south, with the result being that armies are brought into Palestine to bring devastation to the city of Jerusalem.

Therefore, from this geopolitical perspective, we can account for the time of his rule, and by the context given to us by Jesus and Paul, we are able to place the final period of the “times of the gentiles” into this timeframe, when the city of Jerusalem is “trodden down” by the nations.  Which would then account for the “time, times and a half (3 ½ years)” spoken of by the angel that would allow for the events that scatter the “power of the holy people” to be brought to a close by Jesus, which is marked by a “time of troubles” unlike any recorded in history (Rev. 13:5).]

[Note:  When addressing the timeframe of the king of the north it is not possible to detach his existence from the individual who precedes him, because it is assumed that he is alive and in political practice sometime before his rise to power, which means that the rulers who precede him do not have to be relegated to ancient history, especially to the times of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid Kingdoms.]

[Note:  There may be another way to view the events that precede the rise to power of the “vile person,” which means that the way Daniel’s prophecy was composed may also give us reason to conclude that most—if not all—of Daniel’s prophecy is yet future, which is to say that there is some distinction to be made between the “times of the gentiles” and the period of time when Jerusalem is “trodden” by the nations.]

[Note:  The Apostle John tells us that a portion of Jerusalem will be “given unto the Gentiles and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months,” and so we could conclude from the biblical evidence that the time of the gentiles will last at least 42 months before the days of vengeance occurs at the return of Christ.  This would place the 42 months into the timeframe when a king of the north brings desolation to Jerusalem (Dan. 11:21-45).

Meaning then that the prophecy of the kings of the north and south account for the time of the gentiles and also the geopolitical events that precede the rise to power of this future world leader, which allows us to reasonably say that the time of the gentiles would include all of Daniel’s prophecy, with the final king of the north fulfilling the 42 months when Jerusalem is “trodden” by the nations.]

[Note:  Things that we must consider in examining the timeframe of Daniel’s prophecy regarding the kings of the north and south:

  1. The “vile person” is thought to be the same person referred to as the king of the north,
  2. This king of the north interferes with religious and political issues in Palestine,
  3. This interference—based on the series of events in the text—may be the issue that causes the king of the south to assert himself against the king of the north,
  4. This king of the north is the abomination, and his coming to power brings a change in the religious and political status for those in Jerusalem,
  5. This king of the north wars against the king of the south and is relatively unhindered when his military enters Palestine, enabling him to further occupy parts of northern Africa, including Egypt,
  6. This king of the north hears of issues that pertain to the east and the north, which for some is interpreted to mean a military invasion from China and other nations of the east.  But this is not the likely scenario.  Because this event marks a period just before Jesus’ return and the days of vengeance, and so it is expected that this leader will meet his end in his confrontation with Jesus at some time, however, a larger movement of peoples from Asia cannot be ruled out,
  7. This scenario is most unusual in that it would not be expected that a leader of a coalition would himself lead an army against another coalition, and also leave his station and office to go to Jerusalem.

Bringing us then to some additional issues to consider:

  1. This vile person who comes to power is able to do so because the world has already been reshaped geopolitically,
  2. This geopolitical reshaping may be attributed to some of the other events noted in the prophecy of Daniel that speaks of an earlier incursion (perhaps the same) into the Middle East, and this issue is raised in Daniel 11:15-16, which states:  “And the king of the north shall come and pour out a siege mound and seize a fortified city.  And the arms of the south shall not stand, nor his choice people, for there will be no firmness to stand.  But he who comes against him will do as he desires, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, and destruction shall be in his hand,”
  3. The geopolitical narrative of the kings of the north and south portend to a longer period of time than a 3 ½ year period,
  4. The king of the north is the abomination and the “vile person,” but it is not he himself who comes to Jerusalem, but his base of operations is established in Palestine before the return of Jesus,
  5. The language of Daniel’s prophecy indicates that the king of the north is imposing his authority and dominion in Palestine, which means that the overall purpose is more than a military operation, but rather a larger political overthrow of the governments that exist in Palestine,
  6. The “time of trouble” and the “great tribulation” are placed in the time after the armies surround Jerusalem,
  7. We may expect that the news from the north and east may or may not be understood from the geographic perspective of Jerusalem, because if the king of the north is not himself in Jerusalem, and it is from his perspective, then this would change the interpretation in some ways.

Allowing us to conclude that the prophecy of the kings of the north and south portend to a period of far-reaching and long-term geopolitical changes, which means that a significant number of years will pass before we witness the event of Christ’s return.   (Kings of the North and South:  Taking Another Look at Daniel’s Prophecy)