We continue looking at Daniel’s vision in Chapters 10 and 11. The messenger tells Daniel of three more kings that will arise in Persia. Who are those kings and why does it matter? Exploring the historical context and the narrative presented in Daniel, we take a look at what our role is in the Kingdom of God and the trajectory of God’s eternal story.
Three more kings will arise in Persia
Verse 2, then. He says, And now I will tell you the truth—So he’s introduced himself and this angelic realm and so forth. Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia—that’s pretty specific, isn’t it? You’ve got Cyrus, and you’re going to have three more kings—and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.
This part I actually do know something about because this is Persia versus Greece. So the three more kings are pretty well known in secular history.
And one of the things I’ve noticed about commentaries is when there is some overlap between the Bible and secular history as it’s understood, they do a really good job of laying that out. So I’ve got a commentary here I’m going to be referring to that does a really excellent job of this.
Let’s see, it’s Cambyses from 530-532, so Cambyses here would be just half a dozen years away or so from taking over from Cyrus. Smerdis, for just a short time, and then Darius the first.
Darius I goes from 522 to 486. Now 522 to 486 is really significant because Darius is the guy who invaded Greece.
And you know the Battle of Marathon. You know that because of the marathon race, right? So the way the marathon race came about is that when the battle of Marathon was fought, one of the soldiers wanted to run back and beat the messenger.
See, the Greeks had these guys that ran all over Greece that were like the Pony Express, except they ran. That’s what they did for a living.
But one of the foot soldiers wanted to do it and beat this guy whose profession was to tell the story. And he got back and said, “We won!” and then died.
So this marathon race we run is in honor somebody who was dumb enough to kill himself to do somebody else’s job. I don’t know what you think about that, but I guess it was courageous.
What Darius did is he came in and invaded Greece. He accomplished most of his purposes. And this is 490 B.C.
Athenian victory at Marathon
And when he got to Marathon, he was met by the Athenians, and according to our guide we had when we went there—she was telling us about this battle. She said normally the Greeks were outnumbered like 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 or something like that.
And they had armor, and they had this fantastic fighting approach where they would get in a phalanx, and they had these spears that were like 12, 14 feet long; and they would get back one row, two rows, three rows, four rows. And they would just do their spear like thrusting it forward, and then when somebody gets tired, they would just go to the back or whatever. So they turned themselves into this armored vehicle with spears protruding out. And they just rolled over anybody that they’re with.
Well, at Marathon, she told us, they were outnumbered ten to one. So it was really, really one of the greatest victories in all Athens.
The way they did it is really interesting. It was one of the first times this tactic was used. They came up to the Persians who were landing on the shore that were vastly outnumbered, and what they did is they let the middle collapse. So the Persians thought, we have them on the run! And then they had the flanks mash them right between them. So it was a really spectacular victory, a really famous battle.
Well, that happened to Darius.
So what Darius did is he went home and started preparing for a real invasion, and word started coming back to Greece that he was piling up foodstuffs in mountains that blocked out the sun. And he was building ships. And so he was getting ready because, “You defied my honor!” And, if you’re a king, and you allow your prestige to be marred, you’re in trouble because one goes, they can all go.
So Darius started preparing for this massive invasion. But then he died. And he left it to his son.
And this is the fourth king who’s far richer than them all. This is Xerxes. Xerxes I. He’s also known as Ahasuerus, who’s the king in Esther.
So Xerxes picked up this campaign from his dad, and he’s going to finish it off. And I think there was something like 400 ships that he had. Nobody really knows these numbers, but I’m going to take it from our guide because she’s Greek, so she probably is exaggerating everything based on what I learned from the Greeks. But nobody really knows.
So a million people invade, and of course, these are all conscripts. They’ve got people from Arabia, people from wherever. They’re from the Persian kingdom. And they’ve got 400 ships that are supplying these guys as they march in.
Alliance between Sparta and Athens
The Greeks dallied around and didn’t really pay much attention to them, of course, until right at the last minute. Then they very quickly came together, and there’s an alliance that’s formed between Sparta and Athens, which are the two dominant powers. They need a little time to get ready to resist the invasion.
So 300 Spartans and a thousand people from Thebes went to this pass that you have to go through, right between the shore and the mountains. It’s only about a quarter of a mile wide, called Thermopylae, the gates of fire.
And they made a stand there of the million people coming in from Persia and delayed them for about three days. They would have delayed them for a lot longer, but as was the tendency with the Greeks, a guy saw a way to make some money.
The battle of Thermopylae
So he sold the knowledge of how to come around the mountains and flank them from the back. That’s how they ended up being defeated, those 1300 guys—the 300 Spartans and the 1000 Thebans died. But they bought enough time for the Athenians to get ready for the invasion—the Athenians and the Spartans, but mainly the Athenians—to get ready for the invasion. That’s the famous episode of Thermopylae. It’s called the Greek Alamo by some people. And it was a pretty well-known battle.
Just a little thing about that that I found really interesting: What they did is they did the same thing there. They’d let the Persian army start to invade and then fall back and then stop. And there were so many people in the Persian army, they would surge forward, and they couldn’t stop. So they would just butcher them, just butcher them until they were about to get really tired and need some rest. And, according to our guide, she estimated that this 1300 killed like 200,000 people. Now again, these numbers, who knows about the numbers. But there was a mass slaughter that took place there.
So then the Persians ended up invading. This guy named Themistocles, who was one of the main Greek guys, had sent a message saying, “We’re going to escape by night,” and making sure the Persians intercepted this message. So they intercept it and say, “We got ‘em!”
They brought their ships into the bay of Salamis to keep the Greeks from escaping because they wanted to make sure they just mashed them all. And they did that at night.
And when the sun rose, they looked up, and the Greek navy is in fighting formation. And they say, uh oh. Because the Greek ships were little torpedoes, basically. Triremes. They had the oars. They had the sail. But they’re basically submarines, ramming submarines. And in closed quarters, they were vastly superior to these Persian ships that were more open-sea type ships.
So they came up, and the Greeks had tricked them. And they went in and they wiped out the Persian navy.
And Xerxes had set himself up a throne up on the cliff to watch this final battle where the Greeks are finally dispatched with, and his father’s honor is restored. And, instead, he says, um, I can’t supply my army anymore, we’re toast, and I’m heading back to Persia on the double.
The Battle of Plataea
The Persians started retreating. The Greeks realized, if we let these guys get away, they’re just going to come back again. So they chased them. And, again, still vastly outnumbered. But they met them on the Plains of Plataea, wiped them out. Of course, these are all slaves or conscripts, so lots and lots of desertions. Who knows how many they killed. Everybody probably in the Persian army that could escape did. And that was it. That was the end of Persian dominance.
Now we don’t see, Persia get conquered because that’s 480 B.C., and Alexander’s still going to be 150 years away. But this is really where Persian dominance ended. So now, that’s the fourth king.
That’s when Xerxes went back and to drown his sorrows picked a new Queen. If you read Esther, and it says that he asked his Queen Vashti to come and do a strip tease for everybody, and she said, “I’m not going to do that!” I guess they were all drunk or something. And they passed this law that all women have to do what their husbands say and stuff.
So you can see how his pride would be kind of wounded, and he would be pretty susceptible to rejection at that point in time. That’s why he got a new queen. And the book of Esther happens because he had his pride broken and now is protecting his pride. You know, at least I can get my women to do what I want them to do. That’s what happens there. See, world geopolitics and relationships are indistinguishable. They always go together.
Alexander the Great
Then verse 3. Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.
This is Alexander the Great now. We skip forward 150 years because again what this prophesy’s doing is it’s showing us this string of events that’s going to give us the abomination of desolation. And this apparently was something that Daniel said, okay, now I get it.
So you get a mighty king that arises, and Alexander the Great came along, and he rolled up the world in pretty short order. As a matter of fact, by 331 B.C. he had conquered the whole world. He was 25 years old. I think it took him about six years to conquer the whole Persian empire.
When we saw in chapter 8, the goat that’s running across the face of the earth and his feet aren’t even touching the ground, and nothing can withstand him, that’s Alexander the Great. He just kind of rolls it all up. He’s 25. He’s king of the world. He’s conquered everything he’s set out to do, set out to subjugate. And eight years later, he’s dead. He died when he was 33 of sickness.
After he died, his generals took over and split up the kingdom. So you had the four points of the compass. They split it up. And you don’t hear too much about Greece and Macedonia. They were the weaker of the kingdoms. And they got absorbed by Rome fairly quickly.
The Seleucids and the Ptolemys
But, now, most of the rest of this that we’re going to get in chapter 11 is all about the Seleucids and the Ptolemys.
I’m going to go through this with you next episode when we get this stuff because I think it’s worthwhile knowing the extent to which God can tell us, if he chooses to do so, the intricacies of, like, who’s going to win the elections, and what that’s going to be, and who’s going to dominate the world, and geopolitics, and who’s going to be in control, and of who is actually in control.
The key thing here is God’s actually always in control.
Daniel wants to know Israel’s place in history
And remember Daniel’s in a time here where his country has been invaded. They’re just now starting to go back to rebuild the temple. And the question he had is, do you still have the promises for Israel in mind, and are they going to be fulfilled?
And God’s telling us here, yes, they are, but probably not the way you would choose it.
It’s not going to be a simple line between two points. It’s going to be a cycle. Things are going to get worse. Who’s going to dominate you is going to change.
Right now the Holy Land, the glorious land, the beautiful land is under Persia. It’s then going to go under the Greeks because the Ptolemys had it first. And we’re going to see as we go through, it switches to the Seleucids. And then this Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king, is going to do the abomination of desolations and then the 69 weeks is going to end, and then you’re going to have this time of the Gentiles that we’re in right now.
And then the 70th week’s going to happen, and the Antiochus event’s going to take place again. And you’re going to have another abomination of desolations. But that abominator is going to have the same end as Antiochus IV did. He’s going to die not at the hands of a man.
We know Antiochus IV died of some sort of disease or something. We know the antichrist is going to be thrown straight into the lake of fire by the hands of God.
So God’s in control. The angelic realm is in full swing. We are part of the drama. God has a plan. He’s written a script.
What remains? Well, what remains is whether we’re going to play our part or not. Remember, God can always use a rock in our place, right? It will happen.
The question is will we take the opportunity to play our role. And if we do, then we’re going to end up in charge of this world. That is the reward of the overcomer.
But it’s not going to be “in charge” like these guys are in charge. These guys are in charge the way Satan wants to be in charge. Which is “I will dominate you, and you will do my will.”
No, no, no. The way God is training us to be in charge is “I will serve you because I am doing the will of God.” It’s exactly the opposite of Satan.
And when we serve one another in practical ways, in everyday ways, in our job, in our homes, raising our children, in the church, with one another, in our community, even in geopolitics as we get involved in voting or in advocating for sound policies—all those things—maybe representing our country in the military—all those things that we’re doing—if we do it with an attitude of “I am serving God by serving you,” then we are bringing God’s kingdom to earth in this corrupt era.
And what God wants to do is reward his faithful witnesses who do not fear death with taking this massively violent, dysfunctional world that we’re going to see here in spades and, nothing new under the sun, right? It’s still going on today. And he’s going to bring it into perfect harmony because his servant-kings are going to make it that way.
Romans 8 tells us the whole world can’t wait, even all creation is saying, “Put it back like it’s supposed to be!” Well that’s what’s in our future.
And if he predicted this degree to Daniel, and we’ve already seen all this happen, all the more reason to believe with total certainty that what he’s predicted in our future is going to happen.