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Sunday, August 11, 2019

posted Aug 11, 2019, 8:44 PM by Site Administrator

BUT THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEIR GOD WILL FIRMLY RESIST

 

Daniel 11:1-45

Key Verses 11:32,33

 

With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. "Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.

 

First, “Wars between the king of the South and the king of the North” (2-21). Look at verse 2. “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, 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.” In 10:21, at the end of chapter 10, the holy one said to Daniel, “But first l will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.” Chapter 11 is some of the contents of the Book of Truth, showing that what the book of Truth is about – in this book, things that should happen according to God’s plan are written. Now Daniel was in the third year of Cyrus, 536 B.C., and the holy one told him that three more kings would appear in Persia and then, the fourth one would be powerful and invade Greece. After Cyrus, his eldest son, Cambyses II (530-522 B.C) became king, but died 7 years later; then, Bardiya became king in 522 B.C, but was assassinated by Darius who succeeded him as king (522-486 B.C). After these three kings, Xerxes I became king and invaded Greece, as we see in the movie “300.” Then, “a mighty king,” Alexadner the Great appeared and conquered the Persian Empire. But when he died (323 B.C), his kingdom was divided into four kingdoms by his generals. Among them, the Bible focuses on two kingdoms – the Egyptian Kingdom, called “the king of the South, and the Syrian kingdom, called, “the king of the North” in the passage, because these two kingdoms would be involved in the history of Israel closely. 

 

Look at verses 5 and 6. “The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. 6After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North 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.” Here, the king of the South refers to Ptolemy I Soter (323-283 B.C), who occupied Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great; that was the beginning of the Egyptian kingdom. One of his commanders was Seleucus I Nicator (305-281 B.C); he went out and occupied Syria, Persia and Babylon, thus, starting the Syrian kingdom. Ptolemy, even though he was angry at Seleucus, chose to be in peace with him and they became allies. Soon, both of them, Ptolemy I and Seleucus I passed away, and Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283-246 B.C) and Antiochus II Theos (261-246 B.C) succeeded them. The king of the South, Ptolemy II sent his daughter Berenice to Antiochus II the king of the North in order to strengthen their alliances. But Antiochus II already had his wife, Laodice whom he loved so much. Ptolemy demanded him to divorce her and dethrone her and make his daughter Berenice legal queen. Suppressing his romantic feelings toward his wife, he sent her away, and made Berenice legal queen. But when Ptolemy II, Berenice’ father, died,Anticohus II quickly brought his ex-wife, Laodice back to the palace – unlike other kings, he was really romantic. But he didn’t know what kind of woman he loved. Laodice was not so romantic as he was. One night, she killed her husband with poison to have power. Berenice fled, but was captured and killed together with her son in Antioch. This was the beginning of bloodshed between the king of the South and the king of the North. 

 

Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 B.C), the brother of Berenice, attacked the Syrian kingdom in retaliation for his sister’s murder. He won the war, took their idols and valuable articles of silver and gold and carried them off to Egypt. That was the first round of the war between the two kingdoms. Then several years later, the king of the North, Seleucus II Callinicus(246-225 B.C), attempted to attack Egypt, but failed. Then, Seleucus III Ceraunus (225-223 B.C.) tried to attack Egypt, but he was assassinated by members of his army in Asia Minor. Then his brother Antiochus III the Great attacked the South, but failed (10), because the king of the South, Ptolemy IV Philopater(221-205 B.C), defeated 70,000 Syrian soldiers in the battle of Raphia near Egypt in 217 B.C. Yet he did not remain triumphant (11-12). In 200, Antiochus III mustered another army, larger than the first and attacked the South (13). At that time, Israel was under the Egyptian kingdom. The violent people among the Jews joined in Antiochus III and supported him, hoping that Antiochus would liberate them, but without success. Even though Antiochus won the war, he didn’t liberate the Jews, but put them under his control (14-16). Antiochus even captured Ptolemy V Ephiphanes (204-181 B.C). But, he was afraid to alarm Rome; so, instead of killing him, he gave him his daughter, Cleopatra in marriage, hoping to control the Egyptian Kingdom through her. But once married, she stood on her husband’s side (17). 

 

When Antichus III saw his plan not working, he turned his attention to the coastlands – Greek city states and Asia Minor; he took many of them successfully, but Rome intervened; in 190, the Roman general Scipio Asiaticus won the decisive victory at Magnesia and put an end to Antiochus’ insolence (18). Antiochus had to accept the Treaty of Apamea in 188, and give up all the countries he had conquered in Europe, had to pay a heavy tribute to Rome, and had his son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes taken to Rome as a political hostage. After this, without knowing how to make money for the tribute to Rome, he robbed the temple of Jupitar in his own country; at this, people were angry and killed him (19). His son, Seleucus IV Philopater (187-175 B.C), succeeded him as king. Verse 20 reads: “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.” During his whole reign, he did one thing, and one thing only – send tax collectors to extract money from his own people to maintain the royal splendor. He was a great oppressor of his own subjects, and exacted abundance of money from them. Then, one day, one of his own servants, Heliodorus killed him with poison. He was a miserable person. 

 

Often, in our eyes, king’s life looks so glamorous – such power, authority, luxury and freedom to do whatever they want. But when we study this passage, we can see that their life was not so glamorous as it looked. Indeed, it was miserable, painful and scary; they were in constant threat of assassination that they could not eat even lunch freely for the fear of poisoning. They had really a lot of terrible headache, struggling to figure out how to survive in the ever-changing politics. We remember the Psalmist’s prayer: “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Pro 30:7-9) It is really good that, instead of trying to be very successful or even trying to be kings or queens, we live as children of God being content with whatever God gives us.

 

Second, “So that they may be refined, purified and made spotless” (22-45). The next king of the North was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C). In the passage, the Bible uses a lot of space to talk about Antiochus IV, because he was a foreshadow of the Antichrist. The Bible uses a very despising description for him, saying, “a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty.” Verses 21 through 24 describes what kind of person he was and how he rose to power. He was not supposed to be king. He lived in Rome for 12 years as a political hostage according to the Treaty of Apamea in 188 B.C. When his father Antiochus III died and his brother Seleucus IV became king, he was exchanged for his nephew, the son of his brother the king. Then, when his brother was killed by Heliodorus, he opposed Heliodorus, and at that time, no one knew his true intension. Some nobles of Syria supported him and also the king of Pergamum. With this small number of people, he rose to power – he first proclaimed himself as a co-regent for his infant nephew, another son of the king, but few years later, he killed him. He was like a con artist; he pretended to be innocent when he had a covenant with anyone, then, he acted deceitfully, and when they felt secure and safe, he would suddenly stab them in the back, and conquer them. In this way, he achieved a lot; then, he distributed his wealth and power to those who had supported him; as a result, they became loyal to him. Maybe, in the world, he was an excellent politician, but in God’s eyes, he was a master of intrigue, contemptible, not noble, not worthy of the throne at all. 

 

Look at verses 25 and 26. In 170 B.C., Antiochus attacked the South, the Egyptian Empire. The king of the South, Ptolemy VI Philometer, fought back with a large and very powerful army, but was defeated, because of the plots devised against him – his own officials tried to kill him. Antiochus even captured Ptolemy VI, but, due to his fear of alarming Rome, he let Ptolemy rule Egypt continually as his puppet king. These two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, sat at the same table and lied to each other; here, “with their hearts bent on evil,” shows their heart’s true desire to destroy each other. But verse 27 says, “but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.” This expression means that the end of one kingdom does not come as the result of the other kingdom’s power or excellent politics, but it comes only at an appointed time, set by God. God was using those who kingdoms to prepare environment for and train Israel for God’s purpose; even though they hated each other so much and wanted to destroy each other so badly, the end of any kingdom would not come until God’s purpose was completed. God was in control. Many things are going on in the world; the history is fluctuating. But everything is going on according to God’s plan so that his redemption work may be completed.

 

Antiochus, after this great victory in Egypt, was going back to his own country, Syria. But on the way home, he dropped by Jerusalem and attacked her, plundering many gold and silver articles of the temple and killing many of the Jews who opposed him as recorded in 1 Maccabees 1. It was 169 B.C. And then he returned to his own country (28).

 

Two years later, in 168 B.C., Antiochus invaded Egypt again, but this time, he was not so successful. Ships from the western coastlands, referring to the Roman navy, opposed him. About 4 miles before he reached Alexanderia, an old Roman Ambassador, named Gaius Popilius Laenas, stopped the entire army, and demanded him to withdraw from Egypt immediately. Antiochus said that he would discuss it with his council members. Then, Gaius drew a line around him in the sand and told him, "Before you cross this circle, I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate." In front of his entire army, Antiochus was humiliated beyond the measure, but he could not help. He consented to withdraw from Egypt, then, the old ambassador shook hands with him. 

 

While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a false rumor spread that he had been killed. The deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. An official Antiochus had appointed as the High Priest, Menelaus, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. When these things were reported to the king, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met on the streets and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In three days, forty thousand were killed, and forty thousand were sold into slavery. Not long after this, the king sent his senator to force the Jews to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God; also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus. They set up the statue of Zeus in the temple – it was an abomination standing in the place where it did not belong. They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden such as pigs, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. 2 Maccabees 5 talks about this. Those who tried to keep the Sabbath were burned to death; women who circumcised their children were killed together with their children. Simply, Antiochus attempted to Hellenize the Jews and remove the memory of God from the surface of the earth. This fierce persecution lasted for about three and a half years until the temple was consecrated and rededicated to God in 164 B.C., through the resistance movement led by the Maccabees. 

 

Now, when the Jews were going through such a horrible persecution, people’s true identity was exposed. Look at verse 30b. “He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.” There were some Jews who had deserted their faith in God; Antiochus supported these apostate Jews; before, they felt convicted and condemned, because they knew that they had abandoned God; they were hiding in the shadow for the fear of being exposed as wicked people. But now, supported by king, they became bold; they now, instead of hiding or running away, pursued other devout Jews and killed them; they became mean persecutors. But there were some others who kept their faith despite such a persecution. Verse 32 reads: “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” Despite such danger and threat, those who knew their God personally stood firm and kept their faith in God. What kind of people were they? Look at verse 33. Let’s read this verse together:

 

33“Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 

 

While so many others were just struggling to survive under such a persecution, while policemen were looking for them, these people would not just hide behind locked doors. Instead, they, even under such a persecution, struggled to instruct people the way of the Lord; they were the ones who knew what people truly needed – the word of God; they were the ones who knew that all men are like grass and their glory like flowers in the field; grass withers, flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever; they were the ones who taught the word of God even at the risk of their own life, as the matter of life and death. They were dedicated Bible teachers, shepherds and shepherdesses. When we think about how wholeheartedly they struggled to teach the word of God even under such a terrible persecution, we can understand how absolutely they held onto the value and importance of the word of God. And the holy one in Daniel’s vision here, says that they were “wise people.” This shows us what those who are wise do: They instruct many the way of God. Not that they just try to do it once in a while, or whenever the situation allows, but they do it even though the risk is so high, even the risk of losing their life. That much, they are committed to the task of teaching the word of God to people. Such people who are dedicated to teaching the word of God to others are wise in God’s eyes. They are wise because they know what is really important and what is not; they are wise because they love God and do what God wants them to do absolutely. They are wise because they use their time, energy, and talent in most meaningful and effective way. 

 

Here, the expression, “though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered,” shows how absolute and wholehearted those wise people were. Even though they were killed by the sword, even though they were burned to death, even though they were captured and plundered, - with that kind of absoluteness, they struggled to teach the word of God. Have you lost a lot because of your dedication to God’s work? Have you suffered a lot because of God’s work? Yet, you are blessed people. You have used your life very effectively. The time of persecution is the time when those who know their God personally, those who love God wholeheartedly rise as powerful heroes and heroins of faith. It is the time when God reveals his glory powerfully through these mighty warriors of faith – while policemen are after them, they go out and instruct people the way of the Lord.

 

Look at verse 34. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.” 

 

God’s eyes were on these wise, loyal and faithful people. So, when they fell, when they were caught, or when they were going to be killed, often, they experienced some help. When God’s people are going through a really serious persecution, strangely, there are always some help for them like Oskar Schindler or Cori Ten Boom who hid the Jews from the Nazi during the Holocaust. But at the same time, it was the time when those who did not know God exposed their true identity too. Verse 34b reads: “and many who are not sincere will join them.” These people attended worship service; they said that they loved God, but they were not really sincere or serious about their faith in God; they just went through the motion of worship and casually said that they believed in God. Compared to those who were wise, they didn’t know their God personally. Then, when such a persecution came, when they were challenged to choose either to keep their faith in God and die, or to prolong their life in the world a little longer by denying God, they denied God. Since, in the true sense, they didn’t know God personally, they had no reason to sacrifice or risk their life for God at all; so, many of them abandoned their faith in God and joined in those apostate Jews who violated God’s covenant. As a high school kid once said, believing in God is “an all or nothing deal,” and the core of our Christian life is our personal knowing of God; those who know God become absolute toward God, and they are happy and willing to lay down their life for God – to them, God is everything; to them, God is the Alpha and the Omega of their life. But those who are not sincere are not wholehearted toward God, and thereby, they are not dedicated to God. Then, when challenges come, or when temptation comes, they quickly compromise and go away, to be seen no more among the assembly of the righteous. Today, we must check out whether we are really dedicated to God or not, whether we are reallysincere to God or notEven though we do many Christian things, it must not be doing church things. Instead, it must be the expression of our personal dedication to God. Know your God and love Him. This is the real thing of our Christian life. 

 

Look at verse 35. Let’s read this verse together:

 

35Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

 

This shows us the purpose of God in allowing such challenges and persecution to his people. The wise were dedicated to God; they were zealous for God, serving his purpose as a matter of life and death; they were God’s instrument in this world. But it did not mean that they were perfect; instead, they still had some impurity, some worldly hopes and desires, sin problems and character-flaws. They were very precious in God’s eyes. It was never God’s intention that these precious people still live with sins, weaknesses or character-flaws. Instead, his desire was to purify them, make them spotless and refined so that they would be really pure in all things, completely sanctified, and thereby, powerful for God. So, he put them in the furnace; he refined them with the fire of a fierce persecution. For their sake, God was willing to let his own temple desecrated and trampled down by wicked people; for their sake, he was willing to see evil people triumphant. As they were dedicated to Him wholeheartedly, God also was dedicated to them wholeheartedly; as they were zealous for God, God was zealous for them also. In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the vine, his disciples branches of the vine, and God the Father the gardener. The gardener’s job is to prune, cutting off small branches so that those fruit-bearing branches can bear the best quality fruit. God is indeed in the business of looking for his people and refining them and establishing them powerfully. Purifying his people, making them spotless, and refining them – this is what God is doing for us today – this is the will of God for you and for me. 

 

We are dedicated to God; we love God; but still, there are sins that bother us continually; still, there are terrible character-flaws that give hard time to those who are around us; still, from time to time, worldly desires for success or marriage dream tries to take a root in our hearts. Because of these things, often, our minds are cloudy and we are not as powerful or as wholehearted as we are supposed to be. Now God’s desire is to make us perfect, spotless, pure and refined. So suddenly, God removes all the things we have held tightly so far; suddenly, we fail miserably in our school work; suddenly we are laid off; suddenly, we come to have a terrible conflict with our boss or managers or other employees; suddenly, without any reason, our professors hate us. Sometimes, terrible diseases attack us.Sometimes, we feel like we are in the washing machine or dryers, spinning continually, so confusing and terrifying. And through all these trials, challenges and persecutions, we come to understand that there is nothing in the world we can desire; we come to understand that there is no one who is good or desirable in the world, but God alone. Finally, we come to confess, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire except you.” (Ps 73:25) When we think about this purpose of God in allowing such a fierce persecution against the Jews, we really see God’s burning desire for his holy children to be pure and innocent, completely sanctified and refined for Him alone – when they come out victoriously, completely purified and sanctified, God is overjoyed and satisfied. God commands us, “Be holy as I am holy.” Jesus commands us, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus prays for us, saying, “Sanctify them by your words.” 

 

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the foreshadow of the Antichrist. In verses 36 through 39, God shows us what kind of person he will be, in view of what Antiochus did. The Antichrist’ main character is to exalt and magnify himself above all other gods; he does not give too much credit to any religion or their gods; instead, he demands all peoples on earth to worship him (36a). Another characteristic of the Antichrist is that he will show no regard to the known religions in the world; instead, he will suggest a religion, which has not been heard of – most likely, the religion of the dragon. He will be very successful and powerful, not by himself, but by the help of Satan. Then, once he is successful, he will greatly honor those who acknowledge him; he will make them rich with a lot of money and distribute his power, making them rulers over many people, exactly as Antiochus did. He will be an excellent politician for his followers, so many will be loyal to him. Verses 40 through 45 show that Antiochus was successful and winning in many countries; in the same way, during the end time, the Antichrist will be very successful, winning the wars in many countries. But verse 36 reads: He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place – even his success is just going on according to God’s plan and purpose. Yet, he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

 

One Word: So That They May Be Refined, Purified AndMade Spotless

 

 

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