Daniel’s portrait of a final king

Post N. 115

Daniel’s prophecy is no picnic. There is no point in trying to conceal this: the Bible puts forward a number of passages rather difficult to understand and, for a large part of the readers, even to accept. Consequently, sometimes you have to strive a great deal for reaching comprehension. This is a necessary effort you have to do, as suggested in the book of Proverbs. “If you keep seeking for [understanding] as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case, you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.” (Pr 2:4-5) The reason is that the search for understanding is not a cheap, ordinary stereotype. It is not a conventional notion nor a commonplace. It’s just God’s wisdom. It requires meditation. And, sometimes, rather deep.

A war between two kingdoms

Prophecy is willingly difficult and, of course, necessarily obscure. Daniel, the prophet, wrote under inspiration about the future war between two kingdoms, the king of the south and the king of the north. Gabriel, the angel who would later announce the Messianic birth to Mary, was commanded this way: “Gabriel, make that one there [i.e. Daniel] understand the thing seen.” Da 8:16

Michael, one of the foremost princes

Daniel had been fasting for three weeks or 21 days and during all that period the prince of Persia had been standing in opposition to Gabriel. Only Michael, “one of the foremost princes”, had been standing in favor of the prophet’s people.

The angel Gabriel sketches the situation in this way: “But the prince of the royal realm of Persia was standing in opposition to me for twenty-one days, and, look! Michael, one of the foremost princes, came to help me; and I, for my part, remained there beside the kings of Persia. And I have come to cause you to discern what will befall your people in the final part of the days because it is a vision yet for the days [to come].” (Daniel 10:13)

A prophecy for the final part of the days

So, the prophecy is, admittedly, for the final part of the days. For such a reason, Daniel cannot grasp the meaning, so that he declares: “Now as for me, I heard, but I could not understand.” Da 12:8

Persia is and was, of course, in the south of Jerusalem. On the other hand,  Greece is in the North. Daniel’s prophecy goes on this way: “So he went on to say: “Do you really know why I have come to you? And now I shall go back to fight with the prince of Persia. When I am going forth, look! also, the prince of Greece is coming. However, I shall tell you the things noted down in the writing of truth, and there is no one holding strongly with me in these [things] but Michael, the prince of YOU people.” Daniel 10:20-21

Clearing up the geographic setting

Since Daniel’s prophecy is tightly bound to Ezekiel’s Gog of Magog, I have to clear up the geographic setting of the vision. The Oracle appears to be connecting Michael to the king of the north. Greece, as already said, is in the north of Israel. So, for a transitive logic, Greece and Michael’s are an identity of the north. As a matter of fact, Michael is said to be fighting against Persia, which lays in the south. So the prince has to be regarded as one that is straggling in behalf of the north. Greece is presented as a northern contender. The result will be something like the victory Greece reported over Persia at Salamis in 480 B.C.  So, God gave Daniel a prophetic vision of a historical event. The book of Daniel had been written more than fifty years before Salamis. Anyway, we should remember that the battlefield is not simply physical but symbolic.

The number 21 and the last Davidic King in Jerusalem

Where can we find a portrait of the cryptic King of Daniel’s prophecy? The identification of him must logically be based on other Scriptural information. Since the prophecy is for the times of the end, a model can be found in the last king of the Davidic descent. The last king in Jerusalem was Zedekiah. He ascended to the throne when he was 21 and reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem. The number 21 occurs in all the Bible only four times. One is in Daniel. Three times it is connected to Zedekiah:

“Twenty-one years old was Zedekiah when he began to reign, and for eleven years he reigned in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. And he continued to do what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. Both 2 Kings 24:18-20 and Jeremy 52:1 put it this way. The book of  2 Chronicles paints a more detailed fresco.

A rebellious behavior

“Twenty-one years old was Zedekiah when he began to reign, and for eleven years he reigned in Jerusalem.  And he continued to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah his God. He did not humble himself on account of Jeremiah the prophet at the order of Jehovah. And even against King Nebuchadnezzar, he rebelled, who had made him swear by God; and he kept stiffening his neck and hardening his heart so as not to return to Jehovah the God of Israel. Even all the chiefs of the priests and the people themselves committed unfaithfulness on a large scale, according to all the detestable things of the nations, so that they defiled the house of Jehovah which he had sanctified in Jerusalem.

And Jehovah the God of their forefathers kept sending against them by means of his messengers, sending again and again, because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling.  But they were continually making jest at the messengers of the [true] God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people until there was no healing.” 2 Chronicles 34:11-16

The refusal of many messages

Today the slave appointed by Jesus, according to Matthew 24:45, to watch over the Lord’s house is behaving according to Zedekiah’s model. God has sent him many messages through his servants, among others the two witnesses of Revelation 11. The wicked slave always refuses to listen. Their pictures, magazines, videos, and broadcasting are full of globes. They keep on denying the biblical truth about the earth. According to the Bible, this is a flat circle and not a ball. Even the Quran holds the same information when it says in many different Surahs that Allah spread out the earth as a carpet or a bed. ( Cf. The Quran in 15:19; 20:53; 43:10; in 50:7)

Unfaithfulness on a large scale

So, the total majority of the Great Crowd of Revelation 7:9 are committing “unfaithfulness on a large scale, according to all the detestable things of the nations”. This means idolatry. Congregations are becoming more and more ignorant of prophecies, both the common publishers and the elders. Words written in the letter to the Hebrews are becoming even truer.

Paul wrote: “We have much to say and hard to be explained since YOU have become dull in YOUR hearing.  For, indeed, although YOU ought to be teachers in view of the time, YOU again need someone to teach YOU from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and YOU have become such as need milk, not solid food.  For everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong”. (Hebrew 5:11-14)

A horn interrupting the continuous sacrifice

Even more. Daniel foretells about a major crime: the apostate king will cause the interruption of the continuous sacrifice.

“There will be arms that will stand up, proceeding from him; and they will actually profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and remove the constant [feature]. “They will certainly put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.” Da 11:31

The same verse in another Bible is rendered: “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation”.
What is the regular sacrifice? The Hebrew word is hat-tā-mîḏ.  The first time the term enters into the Bible is in Exodus 25:30. It is about the regular setting of the 12 showbreads on the table in the temple. This was a constant offering presented every week in front of God. For a Christian, it represents the complexity of one’s acceptable worship. If the service we render to God is not thoroughly rooted in the truth, it cannot be acceptable.

A spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God

On this subject Peter wrote: “YOU yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. (1Peter 2:5) Then Peter added: “For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God?”(1Peter 4:17)

Jerusalem burnt in the fire

Zedekiah received a cruel judgment, according to Jeremy’s report: “Then they seized the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might pronounce upon him judicial decisions. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.” (Je 52:9-11) So, Zedekiah’s reign was ended and Jerusalem was burnt with fire.

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