I suppose that for those who are skeptics, these chapters take the cake in terms of prophesy, so detailed and accurate as they are.
Here, Daniel talks first about what was to come in the Persian and Greek Empires, and then what is yet to come in the future.
First, he talks about the three kings to come in Persia after Cyrus. These were Cambyses, Gaumata, and Darius (mentioned in Ezra). Following Darius was the fourth king, his son, Xerxes (the king mentioned in Ezra as well as in Esther). Xerxes was the richest of all the other Persian kings because of the taxes he collected, as well as his conquests. He then attacked Greece, but after some victories, his navy was defeated, and later, his army that he had left behind in Greece was crushed at the battle of Plataea. (11:2)
Then, a great king (Alexander) arose in Greece, but after he died, his empire was divided among his four generals, not his children (11:3-4).
Daniel then goes into great detail about what would happen to the Greek Empire from the time of Ptolemy I and Antiochus II all the way down through Ptolemy VII and Antiochus IV.
There are numerous study Bibles and commentaries that go into detail about how these prophesies were fulfilled, and it’s fairly lengthy, so I won’t go over it here. Even if you don’t have either, you could find a good history book and see how all of this was fulfilled just as Daniel wrote.
From chapter 11:36 to the end of the book, however, we seem to move to the end times and the coming of Antichrist. He will not worship any gods, but set himself up as God. The other god he will worship is the “god of fortresses,” that is, the god of power or war. And he will conquer and rule, until the time that Christ comes.
During those days, there will be great times of trouble. But God will deliver his people, and at the final resurrection, those who love and follow him will rise to eternal life, while those who hate and oppose him will go to “shame and everlasting contempt.” (12:1-3)
What can we get from all this? Several passages strike me from these passages. First Daniel 11:33-35, which talks about the times of Antiochus IV and that period of persecution during the time of the Maccabean revolt. It says,
Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some 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. (11:33-35)
It strikes me here that God doesn’t promise that he would spare his people trouble. That though they were wise and would instruct many in the ways of God, yet many would be captured, burned, killed and plundered. But God had a purpose for all the things they went through. That they would be refined, purified, and made spotless before him.
He says later of those who come out of the tribulation and are resurrected in chapter 12,
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (3)
And at the end of the book, he writes,
Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. (10)
Finally the angel says to Daniel,
As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance. (13)
I take from all of this a sense of hope. There will be wars. There will be trials and troubles in the future. But God will use them to purify us, and to make us spotless and refined. And come the resurrection day, we will shine like the stars before him who saved us.
So let us be wise. Let us be people that seek after God daily. Let us be people that lead others to do the same. And like Daniel, in the end, we will rest and then rise to receive our allotted inheritance.