Latter-Day Kings of the Book of Daniel: Part 1

Daniel 7‑11  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
There are four rulers brought into special prominence in the latter part of Daniel's prophecy. Each of these will take a more or less active share in the great drama, about to be enacted here below, immediately preceding, at, and just after, the Lord's coming in judgment of the habitual earth. They are designated respectively by the prophet:
(1). The little horn of the fourth empire (7:8);
(2). The little horn out of the third empire (8:23);
(3)."The king who shall do according to his will in the land” (11:36); and
(4). The king of the south (11:40).
The first three are more fully noticed in the word, whence it appears that they will take each his allotted part in the coming struggles of the nations for supremacy. These kings have many things in common apparently. They are, therefore, often mistaken the one for the other by prophetic students. Yet there are differences in their rise, political aspect, and religion, by which each may be clearly distinguished from the others, without doubt or confusion. In the interpretation given to Daniel by the holy one (7:17-26), the fourth beast is said to be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, the Roman. When the political power was taken from the Jews because of their unfaithfulness, it was handed over to the Gentiles in the person of Nebuchadnezzar (chap. 2:37, 38). Thus his kingdom was the first of the world-wide order. After it came the Medo-Persian; then the Grecian; after that the Roman. Here, however (chap. 7:7 and onward), the Spirit of God views the Roman Empire in its last aspect. It had seven successive heads, and ten horns, which are ten contemporary kings.
Formerly it was a consolidated Empire with but one leader, and at length two or more. But about the fifth century the Goths, Vandals, &c., broke it up; and it ceased to be an empire, being divided into separate kingdoms. In its resuscitated form, however, there will be imperial unity through one chief of the Beast or Empire. At the same time there will be ten separate kings (Rev. 17:12, 1312And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. (Revelation 17:12‑13)). From the midst of the ten horns (or kings) rises a little horn. At first he is insignificant politically, but intelligent and arrogant. By his conquests three of the ten horns are brought under his dominion; and, through power or policy, the remaining seven give him their allegiance. He thus secures the mastery of the ten, and becomes the most powerful potentate of the west.
In Dan. 8 we are introduced to another vision and its interpretation also. In a few words the rise of the Greek or Macedonian Empire is given, and Alexander's rapid conquests are depicted in a most graphic manner. Then follows on his death, soon after, the division of his vast Empire between four of his generals (ver. 8). Out of one of these divisions comes a little horn (or king), which increases in power and becomes great through craft and force of arms (vers. 9, 10). This was undoubtedly Antiochus Epiphanes, the bitter enemy of the Jews and of their religion, who indeed used every means in his power to heathenize or crush them out of existence. “In the last of the indignation” the king of fierce countenance (ver. 23), whom Antiochus typified, will have his seat of government in the very quarter where Antiochus had his power—i.e. Turkey in Asia. Elsewhere (11:40-45) he is called “the king of the north” to distinguish from Egypt's then king; and also in Isaiah and Micah “the Assyrian,” because he will be the representative of Israel's old oppressor. It is well to notice, in passing, that the little horn of chap. 7 rises out of the Roman Empire when it is finally divided into ten kingdoms, whilst the “King of fierce countenance” comes out of the Syro-Greek kingdom. They are not only not the same person, but persons wholly opposed.
In chap. 11:36 another important personage comes into prominence in a most abrupt manner. He is called “the king” distinctly and solely, characterized by self-will and extreme self-exaltation. That he is a Jew seems clear from the fact that he is said not to regard “the God of his fathers” (which is not at all a Gentile designation), nor “the desire of women,” alluding to the honor sought by Jewish maidens to bear the Messiah. But unlike Him this king will not own the God of Israel as Lord; but while setting up himself will honor a god whom his fathers knew not. From the expressions “glorious land” and “glorious and holy mountain” (vers. 41-45) we may not doubt that the sphere of his government is Emmanuel's land.
In Isa. 30:3333For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it. (Isaiah 30:33) (as well as 57:9) this personage is also spoken of as “the king.” “Also for the king it is prepared.” Thus “the king” and the Assyrian of the same chapter are really two instead of one. Notwithstanding they are too often confused.
The Spirit of God gives a short notice of the “king of the south,” in contrast with him “of the north.” The seat of his rule is Egypt, “south” of Palestine, as Turkey in Asia is “north” of it. Further details come under his political aspect.
Thus then we are introduced to four distinct rulers: (1) “the little horn” of chap. vii.; (2) the king of “fierce countenance” or little horn of chap. 8; (3) “the king” in the Holy Land of chap. 11:36; and (4) “the king of the south” or Egypt. Such are these kings, looking at their political aspect. Nevertheless 1 and 3 act together in the future; because they will make a close compact the one with the other, though their respective seats of government are widely apart. After the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, have returned to Palestine, and “the king” (3) is reigning over them there, another great power north of the land threatens them with invasion. The head of this power is “the king of fierce countenance” of chap 8, called also in chap. 11 “king of the north.” In Isa. 14:24-2724The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (Isaiah 14:24‑27) he is designated “the Assyrian,” and is the bitter enemy of the Jews. To counteract this threatened invasion, “the king” (3) in league with the then great power of the west, the future Roman Emperor (1), calls his ally into the crisis. This agreement is mentioned in Isa. 28:15, 1615Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:15‑16), where it is called a covenant with death and hell—instruments of Satan.
In Dan. 9 further details as to time, &c. are given. The Roman Emperor (1) shall confirm “a” (not “the") covenant with “the many,” i.e. the mass of unbelieving Jews, “for one week” or seven years. His armies are afterward sent to Palestine to oppose the (2) invader's hosts. But the covenant with death will not stand; for the overflowing scourge, or the invading army, will pass through; and the Jews will be trodden down by it, as we read in Isa. 28, Zech. 14:1, 21Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:1‑2). These scriptures inform us that this same leader (2) extends his conquests even to Jerusalem, and besieges the city with a measure of success. Half the city is taken, and its inhabitants led into captivity. But not as of old: the other part holds out against the foe; and, then far more, Jehovah Himself intervenes. The king of the south (4) comes up, but is opposed by the king of the north; since we find that the king of the north (2) turns away from Jerusalem, and overruns the countries where the king of the south (4) rules or has influence (Dan. 11:41-4341He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. 42He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. (Daniel 11:41‑43)). Of “the king” (3) nothing further is said here, as his exceptional end was given elsewhere.