Latter-Day Kings of the Book of Daniel: Part 2

Daniel 7‑11  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Next we may look at the religious character or aspect of these kings.
In Rev. 13 the prophet sees a Beast rise out of the sea. A “Beast” in prophetic symbol means an Empire, and “the sea” represents people in a state of anarchy and confusion. Here then is seen its human origin, as chap. 12 had shown its place in Satanic design. In chap. 17 too the same Beast is said to ascend out of the bottomless pit: there we have its Satanic revival. Hence morally it is under the power of Satan. True it is that in Rev. 13 the future Roman Empire is meant, and in Dan. 7 how its chief comes to the point, and the two seem to merge, so that what is said of one is true also of the other. He blasphemes God, and sets himself up as equal with Him. “I will be equal to the most High” (Isa. 14:1414I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:14)) says the last wielder of the power that began with Nebuchadnezzar. In his covenant with the Jews he promises them religious liberty for seven years; but at the end of three and a half years “he causeth sacrifice and oblation to cease.” Nor does he only stop the performance of Jewish rites, but he seeks to force idolatry upon them. Of the faithful among the Jews who will not bow to the image set up in the temple, some will be persecuted to the death, others will flee into the wilderness to escape. Compare Psa. 42, Matt. 24 A remnant will be spared, and delivered when the Lord appears in glory, to become a strong nation.
Next the prophet sees a Beast rise out of the earth, that is, a political power rising out of a more settled state of affairs. But, as with the former Beast, the power is wielded by a man, and this one lamb-like in appearance with a voice that is Satanic. (3) He is the man of sin and the Antichrist, “the King” of Dan. 11:3636And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. (Daniel 11:36), the idol shepherd of Zech. 11 “The wicked one” of Isa. 11:44But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11:4), or rather “lawless one” of 2 Thess. 2:8. In Rev. 13 he is the wonder-working one who exercises the power of the first Beast (1) before it, and causes his image to be worshipped by all in his domain. 2 Thess. 2 describes him as sitting in the temple of God and claiming to be God.
Herein then lies the difference between the two (1 and 3). The first seeks to be equal to the Most High, the other shows himself that he is God. Thus both are blasphemers of God; but the bolder pretends to displace Him in His temple by claiming to be himself God.
Next the “king of fierce countenance” (2) will be, not only a great king but a sort of Rabbi in a philosophic way. He will have not only force of arms but also a spirit of crafty wisdom, so as to be able to explain enigmas; a sort of prophet like the second Beast in Palestine, who expounds profound and mysterious things. Thus by a deceitful and penetrating spirit he will gain great influence over the intellectual part of the Jewish nation, and persuade them into a false and irreligious security in which they forget and forsake Jehovah.
He will also be powerful but not by his own power, that is, another is to support him in his ambitious pretensions; which seem to be the “total destruction of Israel and the complete blotting out the very name from the earth” (cf. Psa. 83:44They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. (Psalm 83:4)) Further, this king will neither own the supremacy of God, nor the right of His Son to earthly dominion. Obviously like the others (1 and 3), this personage is a blasphemous adversary. Who can doubt that “the King of the North” is supported by Gog the Czar of all the Russias? He is his Suzerain, and farther north still.
We have lastly to consider the end of these kings.
What leads up to all is their opposition to the authority of the Lord Jesus. God's decree is that His Son shall be declared King over all the earth; and He invites the kings of the earth to submit to His rule (Psa. 2:9-129Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2:9‑12)). But they follow their own way and are guided in their policy by the overpowering object of self-aggrandizement. Nevertheless God's decree is sure and irrevocable, and He will carry out His purpose in spite of earthly kings and their intentions. Hence Dan. 7 speaks of one like a son of man coming to the Ancient of days, and receiving from Him an everlasting dominion and a universal kingdom, that all nations should serve Him (vers. 13, 14). The nations will not submit to His rule, however, but will rise up in proud rebellion against Him, and must be dealt with in judgment by the Lord in person.
The first gathering of nations against the Lord will be the western or European ten kings under the revived Beast's chief, or Emperor (1), with the third King (3), the religious chief of the future, but Lieutenant politically as King of Palestine; in Rev. 19 he is designated “the false prophet” simply (ver. 20). Whatever dominion he had, he is seen in his ecclesiastical character, as a teacher of lies; in which capacity he denies not only Jesus as the Christ, but also the Father and the Son. When Babylon is judged and gone, there remains still this lawless ecclesiastical power which had wrought with the Beast (13:12-18). Compare also 2 Thess. 2:3-93Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (2 Thessalonians 2:3‑9). Both meet with the same tremendous judgment at the hand of God. “These both were cast alive into the lake of fire.” See also 2 Thess. 2:88And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Thus summarily will end the earthly career of these two atrocious enemies in chief.
After this “the King of the north” (2), having heard (it would seem) of the destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet with their armies at Jerusalem, comes up a second time to complete his conquest of that city (cf. Zech. 14:33Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. (Zechariah 14:3)). His thought may be that, as its Western allies are destroyed, he will be able to make him an easy prey (Dan. 11:44, 4544But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 45And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:44‑45)). But his intentions are vain. For when he returns before Jerusalem, with all the confederate Eastern nations under his leadership, Jehovah shall go forth and fight against them; and the doom of the Assyrian (2) will be substantially similar to that of the Beast and of the False Prophet. If the Beast and the False Prophet were thrown alive into the lake of fire when the Lord shone out from heaven, the Assyrian must follow a little later (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)). The Lord Jesus will assign the doom on both these occasions; and it will be executed. First of all, from heaven, He deals with the Beast and the False Prophet; then on the earth He will go forth as King of Israel but in an incomparably glorious way, and thus dispose of the Assyrian at the head of all the combined nations of the East, as the Western powers had been destroyed with the “Beast.” Here, too, the Lamb shall overcome: for “He is King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
We see, then, from what we have gathered in the word of truth, that each of these latter-day kings, though in some respects similar to the others, yet has certain features in connection with his career which necessarily and obviously distinguish him from the rest. At the same time there must be the simple dependence upon the Spirit of God and the diligent study of His word, if one would clearly understand the various truths taught therein. Thus does the hand of the diligent make rich, and such riches bring no sorrow with them.
The fifth personage, one might add, the Emperor of the Russias, in that day goes forth as in Ezek. 38; 39. But this may await another paper, as it is somewhat later than even the destruction of the Assyrian. W.T. H.