Harry Whittaker
The Time Of The End

10) “Like A Whirlwind”

Daniel 11

All the students of Bible prophecy as having reference to the Last Days recognize the concluding section of this long prophecy. Yet it presents many problems, and accordingly has received many diverse interpretations.

The general shape of the prophecy is this:

Beginning (v. 2) with four kings of Persia (Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius Hystaspes, and Xerxes), it goes on to mention briefly (vv. 3, 4) the Grecian empire of Alexander, and then settles down to give great detail about the ensuing rivalries between the Seleucid kings of Syria (the king of the north) and the Ptolemys who ruled in Egypt (the king of the south). The varied fortunes and interplay of policy of these two powerful neighbours of Israel are traced through a long section, the meaning of which is given in clear detail in the commentaries (and also by Dr. Thomas in “Exposition of Daniel,” pp. 48-55 [1947 edition]).

Then, all at once, the prophecy unmistakably moves to the Last Days. There is a repeated mention of “the time of the end” (vv. 35, 40); and since the prophecy clearly runs on without break into chapter I2 (note 12: 1: “And at that time shall Michael stand up ...”), the clear allusion in 12:2 to the resurrection makes imperative the application of the end of chapter 11 to the Last Days. Thus, the characteristic which is discernible in the other prophecies of Daniel (ch. 2, 7, 8, 9) is even more evident here—they all consist of a continuous historic prophecy of some detail, followed by a discontinuity which leaps a great span of years, and the rest relates to the Last Days.


Who is the king of the north? The two interpretations most commonly advanced are: (a) Turkey; (b) Russia.

The first of these may have seemed not unreasonable in the time of World War I, but since then Turkey’s role has dwindled away in importance as seen against the backcloth of the momentous events which have transpired since 1917. That Turkey should be given such prominence in the prophetic panorama whilst other happenings of much greater importance in the developing purpose of God should be passed over without mention, is not easy to understand. Briefly, then, this interpretation is not big enough to accord with the vital importance of the prophecy.

Nor is the identification with Russia free from difficulty. It has already been indicated that there is greater probability of Ezekiel 38 finding its fulfilment after, and not before, the coming of the Lord. Also, if the prophecy is about Russia there are two details very difficult to harmonize with the current situation: the defeat (vv.42, 43) of Egypt, which ever since Suez, 1956, has been firmly subordinate to Russia in its economic and foreign policy; and the “escape” of “Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon”— is it possible to imagine a Russia which can sweep through Israel and yet not be able to dominate the feeble state of Jordan also? In any case, is it not obvious that any power, which invades Israel, will, by that very fact, become the dear political ally of all the Arab states, including both Jordan and Egypt?

A further difficulty in the way of both the identifications mentioned is the interpretation of the corresponding role of “king of the south.” Especially is this the case if Russia is the “king of the north,” for the prophecy plainly implies that Egypt is the headquarters of his adversary. Thus to equate “the king of the south” with either Britain or America becomes near-absurdity. Since 1956 they have been almost ceaselessly at loggerheads with Egypt.[10]


A careful re-examination of Daniel 11:40 brings to light the possibility of a different interpretation of this section of the prophecy which imparts to it an almost startling relevance to modern developments, an interpretation which is now submitted with all diffidence and consciousness of fallibility.

There can be no question whatever that in the earlier part of this prophecy “the king of the south” is the current Pharaoh of Egypt, the ruling Ptolemy, whilst “the king of the north” is the contemporary king of Syria, Antiochus II or Antiochus III (the Great) or—from verse 21—Antiochus IV (Epiphanes). In the

later section, then, the most reasonable interpretation would be to make “the king of the south” Egypt
and “the king of the north” Syria, continuing the earlier meanings unchanged.

“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind...” What is the picture presented here? Is it that of the two kings pushing at each other, or of both of them pushing at Israel, the buffer state between them? From the language used, either idea would seem to be possible. But if the identification just proposed for the two powers be adopted, then that conclusion becomes decisive in requiring that each be regarded as attacking Israel.[11] Thus the “him” is identified. Israel’


If now the pronouns in the succeeding verses are similarly referred to Israel, the relevance of this prophecy to the brilliant Israeli blitzkrieg of June 1967, is positively startling: “he (Israel) shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over (this Hebrew word is “hebrew”).” This describes an overwhelmingly successful campaign. “He shall enter also into the glorious land (the rest of the land of Israel not occupied as yet), and many shall be overthrown; but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.” The Israeli advance against the state of Jordan stopped at the river Jordan (though it need not have done), and the territory formerly occupied by these ancient neighbours has gone untouched.

“He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over ... all the precious things of Egypt.” Does the poverty-stricken land of Egypt have anything more precious than the Suez Canal of which that lightning campaign by Israel brought about a long-lasting closure?

“And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas (i.e. the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean) in the glorious holy mountain (that is, in Jerusalem).” This can be nothing else but the capture of the ancient portion of Jerusalem. “Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” Evidently the initial sensational success is to be swallowed up in a crushing defeat of the brittle state of Israel. Everyone knows that whilst the Israelis can mount a more efficient swift-moving attack than any other small nation in the world, they simply do not have the military or economic resources to sustain full-scale war for even a couple of months. So when “tidings out of the east (Jordan) and out of the north (Syria) trouble him,” a last desperate attempt to crush all surrounding enemies will be made, and will fail.

Then will begin for Israel “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a Gentile.” And when the frightful experience of the Jews in the times of Titus and Hitler are considered, this must mean horror past present imagining. The Arab enemy, ever unsympathetic to the softer virtues of mercy and compassion, and smouldering with bitter resentment over three ignominious defeats within twenty years, will give full expression to long pent-up hatred and the sudden savage delight of at last having his superior foe at his mercy. He will sweep into the efficient trim little country, which for a generation has been a standing exposure of Arab sloth and backwardness, not to take it over as a going concern, but to smash, ruin and destroy. This will be done with insatiable ruthlessness and with all the delight of teenage hooligans joyously and destructively flouting the forces of law and order. The Arab locusts will let the desert in. Those of Israel who survive will moan in helpless hopelessness. Now, at last, indomitable Jewish optimism and self-reliance is utterly quenched: “our bones are dried, our hope is lost.”


It is at such a time, when all Jewish self-confidence is gone and when the faith that depends on the God of Israel is being re-born that “Michael shall stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.”

This divine deliverer with the name: “Who is like God,” is commonly assumed to be Jesus because the name is so apt. Is this adequate reason for such identification? The angels also are like God in their glory and immortality. And why should this approach be adopted regarding Michael and not Gabriel (Daniel 8:16 and 9:21), for his name is the same as El-Gibbor, one of the distinctive titles of Messiah (Mighty God; Isaiah 9: 6)? Also what commentator can be found (Christadelphian or otherwise) who is prepared to interpret the earlier mention of Michael in Daniel 10: 13, 21 as meaning the Lord Jesus Christ? There has been a lack of consistency regarding the exposition of some of these Scriptures. It would seem more reasonable to read the reference to Michael as a reminder that the angel of God’s presence who was with Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 23: 20) and who blessed their conquest of Canaanites (Joshua 5: 13-15) will be with them once again in their greatest hour of need.

It is appropriate to link with this angelic aid brought by Michael a further detail of the prophecy which has been badly mauled by interpreters over the years: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” All kinds of unworthy guesses have been made as to the Last Day fulfilment of this prophecy. Fast travel—two generations back it was locomotives and automobiles, now it is jet planes and lunar rockets. And the increase of knowledge has been (undeservedly) credited to the scientists. The variations on these unwholesome themes have been many. Interpreting Scripture by Scripture takes the student of these things in a different direction.

Amos 9 is marvellously detailed prophecy of the rejection of Israel. Very briefly:

One basket of summer fruit (v. 1) in the temple court, when there should have been thousands (Deuteronomy 26: 1-11) tells of a nation wholly unacceptable to their God. It means that there is only one Man whose service is approved. Therefore (v. 2) “the end is come upon my people of Israel.” The Hallelujahs of the temple are reduced to howlings (hellilu). The entire Place (Sanctuary) is littered with dead bodies (all this in A.D. 70). The Land trembles, and all the people mourn (v. 8). The sun goes down at noon (v. 9; Mark 15: 33), there is darkness over all the Land, whilst the Passover feast (v. 10) is turned into mourning for The Only Begotten Son (v. 10; Luke 23: 48). From this time on there is a famine among the people of Israel of hearing the Word of the Lord (v. 11). Instead they wander from sea to sea, and from the north to the east (v. 12), and do not find it. They run to and fro seeking the Word of the Lord, yet their young men and maidens faint for thirst (v. 13).

Joel supplies the complement to this last detail with his prophecy (2: 28) of the Last Day outpouring of the Spirit on sons and daughters, young men and handmaids. And Daniel 12 has the complement of their fruitless running to and fro in a picture of many in Israel running to and fro now to experience a vast increase in Knowledge of the Word (and the Logos), which has eluded them for two milleniums. It is another prophetic anticipation of the repentance of Israel in their great time of trouble. When it is realized that “running to and fro” is used to describe Israel gathering heavenly food in the wilderness (Numbers 11: 8 — same word in Hebrew), the seemliness of this interpretation will be more apparent.

“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book.” There may be a distinction here from “the children of thy people” who are saved by Michael. This is made more likely by the phrase: “everyone that shall be found written in the book” — in the Lamb’s book of life, the burgess roll of the New Jerusalem (Isaiah 4: 3). In that case, this Scripture is comparable with the promise in Isaiah (26: 20) of protection for the saints (Gentile or Jew) in that epoch of desperate trouble.


It is noteworthy that Jesus makes no less than four allusions to this block of three verses: Daniel 12: 1-3:

1. There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation (and compare Joel 2:2).
1. Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the be ginning of the world to this time; Matthew 24:21.
2. Everyone that shall be found written in the book.
2. Whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life; Revelation 13:8.
3. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting con- tempt.
3. All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil to the resurrection of condem nation; John 5:28, 29.
4. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firma- ment.
4. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father; Matthew 13:43.
5. The abomination that maketh desolate set up ... the wise shall understand.
5. The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet ...whose readeth, let him understand.

Thus, even if the language itself does not patently require reference to the Last Days, it is not to be denigrated as the symbolic idealism of a crazy mixed-up apocalyptic visionary, for Jesus took it seriously and found an important place for it in his own teaching. The witness of the verses just quoted provides clear demonstration that Daniel 11:4-12:3 refers to the coming of Christ’s kingdom and the events immediately preceding the Lord’s return. If the interpretation suggested here is incorrect, one can only assume that other dramatic events will be set in train very soon to provide a more relevant fulfilment. But those who would learn from Daniel regarding these things must come prepared to be taught.

[10] There is, of course, always the possibility of a dramatic change in the pattern of Middle East politics, which would turn Egypt into an enemy of Russia and a friend of Britain. But the indications of other prophecies and current events hardly support this.
[11] The phrase “with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships” could apply to both invaders.

Next Next Next