It is written:
“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. 38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. 39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. 40 “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. 41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. 44 But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. 45 And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.” (Daniel 11:36-45)
Many of the second century Christians, as well as many Jews from that time, believed that the person here being discusses would be a figure that would establish himself in power near the end of the world. Indeed, many of the early Christians refer to the person in this text as “the antichrist.”
Is this designation justifiable?
In our previous lesson, we noticed that the Bible clearly teaches that before the Second Coming, there would arise a figure that John calls “the antichrist” (1 John 2:18; 4:3). Indeed, in the Apostle’s day and age, there were many “antichrists” in the world (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). These antichrists were types of the antichrist who would one day arise, and come to power.
In studying this passage in Daniel, it seems clear that there are at least two reasons for understanding that the wicked ruler in this passage is talking about what we would call “the antichrist.”
First, as previously noted, the statement of Daniel that this figure would arise in “the time of the end” (Daniel 11:35-36; 12:4, 6-7, 13) is interpreted by Jesus as a reference to the end of the Christian Age (Matthew 13:39-40; 49; 24:3; 28:20). This is proof from the Lord Himself that this “king” would arise during the end of the Christian Age.
Second, the description of this wicked king certainly fits the description of “antichrist” that John had provided. As we noticed, the Greek word “antichrist” may have reference to one who is either OPPOSED to the Christ, or one who STANDS IN THE PLACE OF the Christ. Certainly, both of those descriptions fit the wicked king of this passage.
Daniel 11:36-“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.”
Notice that this person would clearly speak blasphemies against the “God of gods,” a clear reference to Jehovah in the Bible. This is made especially clear by the statement of Daniel that this person would not regard “the God of his fathers” (Daniel 11:37). This is a likely reference to the God of Scripture, as Whitcomb so ably demonstrates:
“A key question is whether ’elohîm at the beginning of this verse is to be understood as singular (“God”) or plural (“gods”), for “the God of his fathers” would indicate that he is a Jew. The Hebrew wording in the following verse (lit., “in his place”) suggests a singular antecedent. Edward J. Young concludes: “The phrase has a Jewish emphasis and has reference to the Jewish religion. The one who has no regard for this Jewish religion is himself a Jew, the Antichrist. I fully agree with Gaebelein’s statement, ‘Here his Jewish descent becomes evident.’” (John C. Whitcomb, Everyday Bible Commentary: Daniel, 170 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Publishers)
When we add together all of these factors, we may certainly understand why the second century Christians regarded this wicked king as “antichrist.”
Yet what does this passage teach us about this wicked king?
What lessons may we learn from Daniel’s description in this text of Scripture?
In our next lessons, we will carefully study this passage of Scripture to better understand what truths we may learn about “the antichrist” from the Prophet Daniel.