Daniel 044 – How History Glorifies GodDaniel 11:2-4 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 3, 2017 • Daniel
How History Glorifies God
12-3-17 Daniel 11:2-4 Lesson 44
Good morning everyone. Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the 11th chapter of the Book of Daniel, Daniel 11:2. The title of our message this morning is How History Glorifies God. We are in that section of the Book of Daniel which is the final vision; we’re coming to the very end of the book. That whole vision dealt with, in chapters 10-12, one connected interflowing thought. Chapter 10:1-3 you’ll recall was the setting and this is where we learned that Cyrus of Medo-Persia was in power at the time Daniel had this final prophecy of his career. This would be the third year of Cyrus, making the date about 536 B.C. You should probably memorize that, 536 B.C. Why is that? Because Daniel is going to see things happening, as we’re going to start to unfold them today, that wouldn’t happen for another 200, in some cases 400 years historically.
So Daniel is clearly seeing history in advance. And that, of course, is one of the great proofs of the Bible. I’m the type of person that can’t just believe in something just because someone tells me to believe it; I need some kind of authentication. And one of the things that we have built into the Bible is this subject of prophecy, the revelation of information before it happens.
Jesus, you recall, in the upper room said I’m going to tell you what is going to happen so that when it does happen you may believe that I am He. [John 13:19, “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.”] Jesus never told people to exercise blind faith; He provided them authentication and proof. And this is one of the great things that we have in the Scripture… history in advance. You get the idea that an omniscient, all knowing God wrote this book. There is no similar self-authenticating sign in any other alleged holy book, whether it be the Quran or the Book of Mormon or you name it. This is something that is unique to the Bible.
Daniel, as we have talked about, is in his mid-80’s when he receives this final vision; the return from captivity is already underway. Daniel remains in Babylon, which has now been conquered by the Persians, and it’s at this time in his life he receives this incredible vision. In fact, an angel is dispatched from heaven to give Daniel this vision, verses 4-9, and then the angel starts to explain some things to Daniel once the angel arrives. What took you so long, would be question number one. Well, we have an answer to that; there was a twenty-one day, three week conflict in heaven between a good angel and a fallen angel. It’s what we call spiritual warfare. And after this time of conflict was over the angel broke through and gave to Daniel this vision.
Then the angel goes on and gets into the subject of why he came, the purpose of the vision, how he has come to disclose to Daniel truth about the end. And so chapter 10 becomes one of the great chapters, really in the whole Bible, about the reality of the invisible angelic conflict or war. That’s why when we preached messages out of that particular chapter, I believe we preached four messages, we entitled those messages The Invisible War. But now the warfare has ended, at least in terms of Daniel receiving this vision, and now what happens beginning in chapter 11 and verse 2 we start to get an explanation of the content of the vision. What is it that Daniel was given? What did he actually see?
We can outline this vision as follows: first Daniel is given some information about Persia, the empire that he was serving under at the time this vision was given. It reveals some information about Persia that would happen after Daniel left the scene, passed away. And then the next empire that we have studied would be Greece; verses 3-4 gives us some information about Greece. Greece would not come into existence until a couple of centuries after Daniel left the scene. And then we learned about the division of the Grecian Empire into dynasties. Two of those dynasties are highlighted in great depth in verses 5-20.
But one of those dynasties is very important; the Seleucid dynasty of Syria, north of Israel because from that Seleucid dynasty is going to arise a man named Antiochus Epiphanes, Antiochus IV. His career is revealed 400 years in advance in verses 21-35 the Holy Spirit focuses on him like a laser beam. He becomes the key subject. Why is that? Because he is a prefigurement, he is a prototype, if you will, of what is going to be revealed in verses 36-45, a man of sin, a man of wickedness that has not yet come on the world scene, the coming antichrist.
So the Spirit of God leaps from Antiochus and goes forward into the distant future using Antiochus as an explanation of what the future antichrist will be like. Antiochus will be like the antichrist in miniature form. So the chapter concludes with an in-depth description of the coming antichrist. And that, chapter 11, then moves into chapter 12 where we learn about the events surrounding the antichrist, his reign of terror in the future tribulation period followed by the overthrow of the antichrist and the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth. So we have, as we might expect in the Bible, a very happy ending to this time of terror yet future. And that begins to be described in chapter 12.
So that’s sort of the big picture; that’s the lay of the land. And notice, if you will, Daniel chapter 11 and verse 2. We covered verse 1 last time, notice, if you will Daniel 11 and verse 2, it says this: “now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.”
You’ll notice this word, chapter 11 and verse 2, “I will tell you the truth.” If you back up to chapter 10 and take a look at verse 21, it says, “However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth.” This vision that you’re about to see Daniel is the truth; it doesn’t matter whether you like the truth or don’t like the truth. It’s a truthful reality whether it is received with the right attitude of the listener or not.
We, as mere human beings don’t get the option to decide if God’s revelation is true. It’s true whether I like it, it’s true if I don’t like it. Truth is just that, it’s truth! Objects fall at 32 feet per second whether I like that law or not. Now I can rebel against the law, I can test the law, but the law is still in operation. And that’s how we need to look at this vision. God is not in the interest of disclosing things to us depending upon our vote; it’s true whether humanity accepts if, it’s true whether humanity rejects it. And that’s what Daniel is reminded of here. He is about to receive, in vision form, history in advance which is the truth.
And he gets a description, verse 2, of the Persian Empire that he was serving under. It says, “Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them.” The Persian Empire, you remember, is the empire that overthrew the Babylonians. When Daniel was taken into captivity as a mere teenager he was taken into captivity 350 miles to the east of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. And then there was a radical political sea-change in Daniel 5. The Persian Empire came to power about 539 B.C. and overthrew the Babylonians without even so much as a battle, and it happened in a single night. And the Babylonians who felt that they were so invincible, so invulnerable because of the high walls around Babylon began to drink from the holy vessels of the temple, which had been taken along with Daniel into captivity. And they began to use those instruments of holiness for profane purposes.
And this is when the miraculous handwriting appeared on the wall, mene, mene, tekel upharsin, which simply means your days are numbered; your kingdom, Belshazzar, the last reigning king of Babylon, is about to be divided between the Medes and the Persians and in fact you are about to die this very night.
It’s interesting how God, when He announces judgment quickly moves in and executes what He said. God is a God of love, God is a God of grace, those are all parts of His character, but He is also a God of holiness, who in due course, in due season executes judgment. And this is what happened to the Babylonians and the Persian then came onto the scene; Daniel continued to serve in the administration of Persia. The Persian Empire started in Daniel 5, 539 B.C. and lasted until about 331 B.C. when a man named Alexander the Great (who we’re going to talk about in detail in just a minute) came on the scene and overthrew the Persians.
Babylon thought they would last forever, they didn’t. Their empire was terminated by the Persians. The Persians probably thought they would last forever. They did not, their empire was terminated by Greece. Greece probably thought they would last forever. Greece did not last forever, their empire was terminated by Rome. The sad reality of world history is there is no permanent kingdom, there is no permanent empire other than the eternal kingdom of God which is on the horizon. We ought to learn from history and not put our hope and our trust in our political systems and our political rulers. We should protect those as much as we can but the reality is those are not our hope. World leaders, world dictators come and go; that’s the ebb and flow of history. In fact, it is the orchestration of God Himself.
Persia, you remember in Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 2 was the next empire that would come after Babylon; the head of gold would be replaced by the chest and arms of silver. Persia was the bear described in the vision in Daniel chapter 7. In Daniel chapter 8 you’ll recall that Persia was the ram, the two-horned ram; probably two horns because the Persian Empire would consist of not just Persia but the Medes and the Persians. And so what God said would happen has happened; the Persians are now in power. The nation of Israel under Cyrus begins to return to the Promised Land and God begins to reveal to Daniel more information about the Persian Empire that was on the scene at the time this vision was given.
Notice what it says there in verse 2 as the prophecy gets very specific. “Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia.” Now these are kings that would exist after Daniel most likely left the scene. As we study history we learn who those three kings are. They are, number 1, Cambyses who ruled from about 530 to about 523. Sudosmyrnus who ruled for one year, 522 B.C. And then Darius I who ruled from about 521 to about 486 B.C. Daniel is seeing these kings before they came on the scene. And because hindsight is 20/20 and we have the record of history we can see how the precision of God’s Word was fulfilled.
The prophecy goes on in Daniel 11:2 and after these three kings it says this: “Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.” Who is this fourth king? The fourth king, we know from history, was a man named Xerxes. Xerxes would reign from about 485 BC to about 465 BC. Now Xerxes has another name, his name is called Ahasuerus and if you’re a student of the Book of Esther you’ll recognize that name. Xerxes was the Persian king that is featured prominently in the Book of Esther, which would also unfold during the Persian time period from about 483 B.C. to about 473-472,471 B.C. Daniel is seeing the major players in the Book of Esther in advance.
And the prophecy goes on and it begins to talk about what this man, Xerxes, would do. It says, “Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.” Xerxes would launch a war (which he really couldn’t win) against the Grecian Empire which is on the horizon. And in fact, Xerxes is a transitional figure; his actions here led to the demise of Persia only to be replaced ultimately by the Greeks.
In his great campaign against Greece from 481 to 479 BC, with an army of probably 200,000 men and a navy of many hundreds of ships gathered from all over his vast empire, Xerxes desperately sought to avenge the humiliating defeat suffered by his father, Darius I, at the battle of Marathon (490 BC). But his army was defeated north of Athens at Plataea (479 BC) just after his Navy was smashed at Salamis, to the west of Athens.”
John Whitcomb in his commentary on the Book of Daniel writes this: In his great campaign against Greece, from 481-479 B.C., with an army of probably 200,000 men and a navy of many hundreds of ships gathered from over his vast empire Xerxes desperately sought to avenge the humiliating defeat suffered by his father, Darius I at the Battle of Marathon, 490 B.C. But his army was defeated north of Athens at Platea, 479 B.C., just after his navy was smashed at Salamis to the west of Athens. [John C. Whitcomb, Daniel, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1985), 146.]
What was the outcome of this battle? Well, it didn’t go very well for Xerxes because the next character that’s mentioned in Daniel’s prophecy, beginning in Daniel 11, really starting around verse 3, is the empire of the Greeks under Alexander the Great. So this battle that is described here as being used as a transition leading to the demise of Persia, Persia was not finished off at this point but she was substantially weakened. And it’s interesting that the empire of Persia probably was at its height under Xerxes, but then it began to decline with this battle here, spoken of in advance by the prophet Daniel.
And Daniel, you’ll notice, doesn’t even mention the next eight Persian kings that would follow Xerxes. Why is that? There are eight more kings but they were of such little power, they were of such little consequence, they were of such little impact on the world stage that it’s pretty clear at this point in time that the Persian Empire is diminishing. And Alexander the Great is on the horizon as Daniel is being given this information about the ebb and flow of history long in advance.
Notice how selective the Bible is about these prophecies. A lot of people sort of look at the Bible as they would look at The Encyclopedia Britannica or something, it ought to be some kind of comprehensive biography or history. In fact, the Bible has never set out to give a comprehensive biography about Jesus Christ. In fact, John tells us at the end of his gospel that there were many other things that Jesus said and did and John says in John 21:25 and John 20:30-31, he says if I gave to you everything Jesus said and did I suppose the world itself could not contain the books written thereof. [John 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. John 20:30-31, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”]
The Bible never tries to tell us everything about the life of Christ. In fact, there is a section of Christ’s life, in between age 12 and age 30 that we know almost nothing about. But what the Bible has given in terms of Christ is sufficient; it doesn’t give us comprehensively everything there is to know about Christ but it’s given us enough information about Christ to reveal His identity and to invoke faith on the part of people who hear it, because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” [Romans 10:17]
So many people are bothered by what the Bible doesn’t say. To be completely honest with you I’m more bothered by what the Bible DOES say than what it doesn’t say, because what the Bible does tell me is enough information given from God to hold me accountable. And it’s the same with these prophecies relating to Persia and Greece. You don’t look at these prophecies as if the Bible is telling us everything there is to know about Persia, everything there is to know about Greece. It’s highly selective, sometimes leaping over vast sections of history, because the Bible, really at the end of the day is not so much telling us about Persia or Greece. It’s leading to this man, Antiochus, that’s the key figure.
Why is that so important? Because Antiochus IV is a prefigurement of the horror and the barbarity that awaits people in the tribulation period. Obviously here we believe in the pre-tribulational rapture of the church. The church will be raptured to heaven before these tribulation events unfold. But woe to those that are, as Tim LaHaye said, “Left Behind.” What is to await them? What are their chances? What fate is in front of them? The Bible is very clear—Antiochus is a prefigurement of this coming antichrist.
And we move from Daniel 11:2 to Daniel 11:3-4 where now the subject matter changes to the next empire that was yet to come after Persia, the Empire of Greece. Notice, if you will, Daniel 11:3, it says: “And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.” This is speaking of the Empire of Greece that would come on the scene after the decline of the Empire of Persia. Greece would come upon the scene 331-63 B.C. Daniel has much information about that empire. Now remember the date when Daniel saw this (I had you memorize it), what was the date? 536 B.C. 200 years in advance Daniel is seeing these things, more than 200 years if you count the totality of the Grecian Empire. Think how long 200 years is. The United States of America has only been here for just a shade over 200 years and yet we look at that period of time as a massive time period. And yet God is giving to Daniel information before it occurs, the duration and the length, more than the duration and the length of the United States of America timewise.
So Greece would come. Now we’ve already learned about Greece, haven’t we? In Daniel 2 Greece was the belly and thighs of bronze in that giant statue. Greece was also the leopard in Daniel 7. Greece was also the goat that would kill off the two-horned ram in Daniel 8. It’s interesting to me that we don’t have to speculate as to who these empires are. It mentions Persia, right there in the passage, Daniel 8:20. It mentions Greece right there in the passage, Daniel 8:21. [Daniel 8:20-21, “The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.  The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king.”]
In fact, last time you might remember Daniel 10:20-21, it mentions Persia by name. [Daniel 10:20-21, “Then he said, ‘Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.  However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”]
It mentions Greece by name. We don’t have to rely on the sanctified imagination to figure out what God’s Word says. God’s Word is what we would call self-interpreting. If we give the text enough time to sort of say what it wants to say every symbol, I believe, every vision, every beast, every horn is understandable. God did not write a book to confuse us but to help us and to edify us if we pay attention to how the Bible interprets itself.
Daniel was specifically told that Greece would come. It says, “A might king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.” If you go back just a minute to Daniel 8:20, at the very end of the verse it says, “so I” that’s the angel, “am going forth and behold the prince of Greece” this would be the demon over Greece, the fallen angel over Greece, “is about to come.” [Daniel 11:3]
This prophecy here, Daniel 8 and verse 3, was fulfilled in the rise of a man named Alexander the Great, a man who came upon the world scene with great power and great authority exactly as the Bible says. He would rule as he pleases, and how did he get this authority? Well, he was energized; in this case he was not energized by God or the Holy Spirit (which is also God) but he was energized by Satan himself. And I believe that there are those today on the world stage that are exactly like that. In fact, we’ve had a couple of Presidents in recent times that come to memory which I won’t go into.
But you look at some of the things that these despots and these dictators do, the way they malign people, the way they mistreat people, the way their whole agenda is to control people. Think of Adolf Hitler, think of Mussolini, think of Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and we could go on and on talking about people. And you really start to wonder what is it that makes them tick? It’s demonic ultimately.
Irwin Lutzer, a well-known pastor, wrote a book on the reign of Adolf Hitler and he talks in that book about when Hitler would give his speeches that would wow the masses; it was discernable by various experts that his voice changes. And you begin to ask yourself why is his voice changing? Part of the explanation could be, I believe, that someone other than Hitler was speaking, simply using Hitler’s mouth as a vehicle. We know that Satan works this way; we know that he actually entered Judas, John 13:27, to betray Christ. [John 13:27, “After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’”] We believe that he will have great influence over the coming antichrist who will come with counterfeit signs and wonders.
I believe that about midway through the tribulation period Satan, who had been cast from heaven, will actually enter the antichrist. The unseen spiritual realm and world that we as mere mortals would know almost nothing about if it were not for the light of God’s Word, helps so much in explaining the depravity and the wickedness of people. And it is a calling to us to be in intercession, to be in prayer, because the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. [2 Corinthians 10:4, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”]
We are not called into this warfare that we are in through human weapons. What can a human weapon or human talent or human energy or human ingenuity, how can that stand against “spiritual forces … in the heavenly places.” [Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”] And yet through the armor God gives us, the full armor of God, intercessory prayer, combat suddenly becomes possible, not through our own strength but through the strength of God.
So the prince of Greece would come, Daniel 10:21. [Daniel 10:21, “”However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince..”] This is what propelled this man, Alexander the Great, onto the scene and he truly did exercise great authority.
Daniel 8:5-8 talks about that great authority in the vision of the ram and the goat. And it says this of Alexander the Great, you might recall: “While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes.” Now going back to Daniel 8:21 we know that this goat is Greece, it tells us that. So Greece would be represented by the first Emperor of the Grecian empire who would be Alexander the Great. “…and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes.  He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath.  I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power.  Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. [But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.]”
We know that the ram is Persia, the goat is Greece. Daniel, in Daniel 8, is seeing the same change of power in Daniel 11:3. [Daniel 11:3, “And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.”] The same event, different vision. God is calling Daniel’s attention two times in his lifetime to this transition of power between Persia and Greece. Persia is not going to last forever; Greece is coming, satanically energized; Alexander the Great will come upon the scene, he’ll rule with great authority and do as he pleases.
You will recall that Alexander the Great, from history, secular history, conquered the known world about the age of 32, the age of 33, and then he began to weep because there was nothing else to conquer. How could a man at that age have so much success and prowess in conflict, in a military campaign? Satan was behind it; Satan was going to use the empire of Greece, just like he used the empire of Persia, just like he used the empire of Babylon, to persecute the chosen people.
Satan is going to get his work done, it’s just a matter of who he’s going to use. Just like God is going to get His work done, it’s just a matter of who is God going to use? He’s going to use those that know Him personally and have yielded to His purposes. Who does Satan use? Same kinds of people, people that are yielded to the forces of Satan without even realizing who they are yielding to. That’s who Alexander the Great was.
And it seems like somewhat of a dark scenario that we are being hit with here, but let me give you a bright spot on this; Alexander the Great was into something called Hellenization. He wanted to create a monolithic Greek culture. Alexander the Great consequently brought the Greek language to the known world. Have you ever asked yourself the question why is it that the Old Testament concludes with people speaking in Hebrew and Aramaic and the New Testament opens with a whole language that is different and it’s being written in Greek? Answer: Alexander the Great.
The Book of Galatians, chapter 4 and verse 4 says this: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” Jesus was not just dropped (and this is something good to remember) around Christmas time, as we celebrate the first advent of Christ) Jesus was not just dropped into history at some random time.. The whole stage was set. One of the things that was in place is the Greek language which is the fullest dialect most likely known to man. There is one word for “love” in English; the Greeks had four communicating different depths and levels of love, whether it be phileo, brotherly love, éros, romantic love, agape, selfless love, storgē, relational love between family members.
Think of the ability to express yourself in Greek that you would have no ability to express yourself in English. And what I’m trying to say is the exact right language came into place to write the 27 books of the New Testament to record the revelation of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. The right language was in place because of Alexander the Great and watch this very carefully, God used a wicked man, like Alexander the Great, to accomplish God’s purposes.
It’s very clear here in Daniel 11:3 that when Alexander the Great would come upon the scene he would rule with great authority and do as he pleases. [Daniel 11:3, “And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.”] Alexander thinks he’s in charge, and yet God is so big, God is so great that He’s actually using the sinful choices of His enemies to accomplish His will. That’s why I decided to entitle this message “How History Glorifies God.”
There is a theological system today, very aggressive Calvinism, that doesn’t allow free will at all. It doesn’t allow free will in terms of people getting saved; it doesn’t allow free will in terms of people making decisions against God. And they think that if we let this free will thing out of the bag too much God is somehow losing control and is being deprived of His glory. Let me tell you something: this is how God is glorified. He can use a wholly choice of people to accomplish His will and God is not limited by that. He can use the choices of abject rejecters of God to do His will as well. That’s how the Greek language came into place, to record the New Testament. Now who did God use to do it? He used a man who exercised great authority and did as he pleased. Well, guess what Alexander, you may have thought you did as you pleased but you actually did what God pleased, you just didn’t know it.
And I think when all is said and done and in glory we look back through the annals of history we’re going to see this over and over and over again, how God used rebellion to accomplish His own purposes, and we just sit back and say WOW! Praise the Lord! I glorify God. Look at what God has done in history; only God could do that! You take this man, Judas Iscariot, this is what Jesus said of Judas Iscariot in Matthew 26:47-50. It says, “While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people.” You’ll notice that there’s nothing here, God is not pulling any string, there’s no intimation of that in Matthew 26. It’s just Judas doing what he wanted to do.
Verse 48, “Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.’  Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, ‘Hail, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.” These are all freewill actions of Judas, are they not.  “And Jesus said to him…,” and this is some of the most touching words, to my mind, in the whole Bible, “And Jesus said to him, Friend…” now how can you call someone your friend who you, through omniscience knows is about to betray you? But this is the unconditional love that God has for people, even people that hate God’s guts. People today plotting against God, working against God, the reality of the situation is God loves them and has never stopped. And the reality of the situation is they don’t know, besides what I just said is God is actually using their will to do God’s will.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you have come for.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.” And did you know that the moment Judas exercised his free will to reject Jesus Christ is the moment Judas was fulfilling a scripture that had been written a thousand years in advance?
John 13:18, says, “”I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’” That’s Psalm 41:9. [Psalm 41:9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”] That’s a thousand years old. Think about that! Judas does what is right in his own eyes and as he does it he’s fulfilling a script or a blueprint written a thousand years in advance.
This is what is happening with Alexander the Great. This is what is happening today with people, without them even recognizing it. And I think studying history under the light of Christ in eternity… you know, we’re bored with history, can you imagine studying history with Jesus as your teacher, and making you aware of situation after situation after situation where this kind of thing has happened, where He has used His enemies, respecting their free will to advance his own plans. And we just say praise the Lord! The glorification of God through the study of history is something that I just can’t wait for a full explanation on.
So then what came of this man, Alexander the Great? I’m glad you asked. Verse 4, “But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.” You’ll notice there that as Alexander the Great is doing what he wants, doing what is right in his own eyes, he’s actually in decline; his authority is being removed.
His authority is being taken away which brings up a very important biblical principle: In God the way up is down and the way down is up! Look at the biblical record. Look at people who promote themselves, whether it’s Satan, Uzziah, Herod Agrippa, and as they begin to promote themselves and do their own thing it’s almost as if an invisible hand is working against them because 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
This is one of the reasons that Paul, the apostle, 2 Corinthians 12, had to be subjected to a thorn in the flesh. [2 Corinthians 12:7, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself!”] Why was that there? To keep him from exalting himself. I mean, think about a guy like Paul who was taken into the third heaven and heard things that no one else has ever heard. Think of the temptation towards pride and yet God wanted to keep Paul that pliable, usable instrument. So He allowed some painful circumstances into his life.
We look at our trials and we curse our trials. The reality is the trial that you have in your body, the trial that you may have in your family, the trial that you may have in your pocketbook or your job or whatever nagging thing it is it won’t go away, have you ever thought of how that is actually a gift. What did Paul say with this thorn in the flesh? “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh,” he didn’t see it as an unwelcome intruder; he saw it as something that God had given. [“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself!” 2 Corinthians 12:7]
Now he was human, he asked the Lord three times to remove it, and what does God say each time. “My grace is sufficient for you.” [2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”] What if that thorn in the flesh wasn’t there? There would be just an arrogant man who would disqualify himself for usability because the way up is down and the way down is up. And you look at Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself and now has been exalted above every name, Philippians 2. [Philippians 2:6, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”]
The way up is down, the way down is up. As Alexander the Great was doing what he wanted to do, not only was he fulfilling God’s Word but his own tenure as the leader of the world, even a member of the living human race was being dissolved. What happened to Alexander the Great? Well, Alexander the Great is a man who could conquer the known world but couldn’t conquer his passions. He died, some say of a sexually transmitted disease, others say he died of alcoholism, debauchery…. We look at these very successful people and we become envious of them because of what they can do. Have you ever asked yourself what they can’t do, what they can’t conquer, what they can’t control? Because bringing those lifestyle choices under subjection you have to have God’s help to do that. Alexander the Great probably thought he could do it all but he couldn’t.
He could do certain things but other areas of his life were left unmanaged, unchecked, given over to the flesh and so he dies at age 32, some would say age 33. Because of his early death he had no immediate heir to give the Grecian Empire over to and so what happened is it was divided amongst his generals. And look what Daniel saw 200 years in advance when Daniel writes, “But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up” what does it say here, “and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants ….” [Daniel 11:4] You mean the Holy Spirit revealed what would happen two years before it happened? Yes He did!
Beyond that, this is not the first time the Holy Spirit has talked about this to us. Daniel 7:6 talks about a leopard (Greece) with four wings. Why four? The parceling of Alexander’s empire amongst his four generals. Daniel 8:8 says, “…there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.” Daniel 8:22 says, “…four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation….” Well who are these four generals? There was Cassander who took Macedonia, Lysimachus who took Thrace and Asia Minor, Ptolemy who took Egypt and Seleucus who took Syria, including the land of Israel. That’s what they got.
It’s interesting to me that the most important for our purposes becomes Seleucus and Ptolemy. Why is that? Because they have access to the Holy Land, the land of Israel. So Seleucus and Ptolemy become the focus of Daniel’s prophecies from this point forward: Lysimachus and Cassander, the Holy Spirit isn’t really interested in us knowing about Lysimachus and Cassander because they have no reference point to the land of Israel.
You have to understand something about God. When God entered into the covenant with Abraham regarding the land of Israel that became the centerpiece of divine activity. Ezekiel 5:5, Ezekiel 38:12, speaks of the Jews dwelling in the center of the earth. The word “center” there is translated navel or the bellybutton, or the center of the body. That’s the land of Israel. [Ezekiel 5:5, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.” Ezekiel 38:12, “to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.’”]
What does the world community look at Israel as? Just an intruder, unwanted, obscure, in the way of progress. That’s not how God looks at Israel. We need to start looking at the world the way God looks at it rather than CNN news or whoever else.
And what happened to Alexander’s empire? After he died and it was divided amongst these four generals it’s very clear, it says, “though not to his own descendants, nor according to his own authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.” [Daniel 11:4, “But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded, for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.”]
The Grecian Empire never really recovered from this. Why is that? Because of what Jesus said: A house divided against itself cannot what “cannot stand. [Mark 3:25, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”] Daniel 8:22 talks about the division of Alexander’s empire. It says once it’s divided “not with his power.” [Daniel 8:22, “The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power.”]
Matthew 12:25, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.” In fact, Paul applies this principle to the church and he says this in 1 Corinthians 6:7, “Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? This is just common sense, isn’t it. A political empire can’t stand if its divided against itself. A church can’t stand if it’s divided against itself. Let’s get a little more personal here; a marriage isn’t going to make it if it’s divided against itself. You have husbands at war with wives and wives at war with husbands, and yet the Bible says you’re one flesh. How are you going to move forward in God when you’re at each other’s throats over and over again.
You say well, Pastor, do you have any marriage advice for us? Yeah, memorize these two sentences, and not if but when a conflict comes up this week in your marriage, in your church, in your business, just say these two sentences; say to the person you’re at war with, “we’re on the same team, what can I do to help?” Do you realize that if that came out of your mouth regularly this week in your business, in your marriage, and in your church, how different your week will be? It’s easy, do you want to practice with me? First sentence, ready, “We’re on the same team.” Second sentence, “What can I do to help?” It’s a simple concept as we study this life of Alexander the Great.
What now becomes important and we’re going to conclude with this, is the warfare between not four of these dynasties but two, because each of these generals created dynasties. The Ptolemy’s created the Ptolemy Dynasty in Egypt; Seleucus created the Seleucid dynasty in Syria and what is about to happen is these two dynasties are going to duke it out for 150 years, going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth over the land of Israel. And Daniel sees the whole thing before it happens. In fact, this warfare is going to start in 323 B.C., the death of Alexander the Great and the division of his empire and it’s going to last all the way to Antiochus. And verses 5-20 are an in depth description of history before it materializes.
In fact, liberals are so bothered by this, because they know the history, that what do they say? Daniel couldn’t have written this, it must have been written by someone other than Daniel after the fact. And yet as I’ll be showing you it is real history; this really happened. And if God is so good at predicting history that from the year 2017 is yet past why can’t we trust God when He reveals history yet future. Why don’t we believe Him when He talks about heaven or hell, angels, demons, sin, salvation? I mean, if God can reveal this He can reveal my destiny, can’t He? And what is my destiny exactly? Well, my destiny and your destiny is to live with God in eternity, in glory, because the wages of your sin have been paid for by what Jesus did.
That’s the gospel. Jesus entered history, He died on a cross, He rose from the dead, He ascended back to the right hand of the Father, and in the process He did whatever is necessary, whatever had to be done to bridge the gap between God and man. And He says to humanity simply this: I am the God of history; since I am the God who glorified Myself through history, since I know the end before it happens, and the beginning from the end. I want you to trust Me. I don’t want you to work out your salvation with your own power; I want you to trust what I have done, faith alone, sola fide. And in fact, if that weren’t enough He says I’m going to send My Spirit into the world to convict people of their need to do this, which is what the Holy Spirit is doing right now. You say well how do you know that? Because that’s what Jesus said would happen. God said it, I believe it, that settles it! Amen.
Right now as I speak people are being put under conviction. Anytime the gospel is proclaimed people are being put under conviction of their need to trust in Jesus and Jesus alone for their salvation and the forgiveness of their sins. If it’s something that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of right now you can do it right now as I’m talking. We’re not interested in your money, we’re not interested in your church membership, we’re not interested in you coming forward and raising a hand and going through the spiritual calisthenics. What we’re interested in is what the Bible says to do, which is to believe in Christ. The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent! That’s it, that’s what gets you saved.
And if the Spirit is convicting, which He is, then in the privacy of your own mind, the quietness of your own thoughts you can enter the new year with a fresh relationship with the Lord, trusting in Him and Him alone for salvation. If it’s something that you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you have changed your eternal destiny. I usually say I’m going to be around after the service to talk; today I’m not, I’m going to a conference in Dallas, the plane boards at 2:30, my wife said don’t speak too long so I already blew that, didn’t I? So pray for me as I, with the Trips…. You know the Trips have a limousine company and their last name is the Trips, isn’t that something. I love it.
So you can pray for me as I’m going to be traveling. Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth, Your Word. We’re grateful for Your church, and help us as we continue to grow in our knowledge of the Book of Daniel. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.