The Rival Kings Enter the 20th Century
1. Who does one historian say were the leaders of 19th-century Europe?
“THERE is a dynamism about nineteenth-century Europe that far exceeds anything previously known,” writes historian Norman Davies. He adds: “Europe vibrated with power as never before: with technical power, economic power, cultural power, intercontinental power.” The leaders of “Europe’s triumphant ‘power century,’” says Davies, “were in the first instance Great Britain . . . and in the later decades Germany.”
“INCLINED TO DOING WHAT IS BAD”
2. As the 19th century ended, what powers filled the roles of “the king of the north” and “the king of the south”?
2 As the 19th century neared its end, the German Empire was “the king of the north” and Britain stood in the position of “the king of the south.” (Daniel 11:14, 15) “As regards these two kings,” said Jehovah’s angel, “their heart will be inclined to doing what is bad, and at one table a lie is what they will keep speaking.” He continued: “But nothing will succeed, because the end is yet for the time appointed.”—Daniel 11:27.
3, 4. (a) Who became the first emperor of the German Reich, and what alliance was formed? (b) What policy did Kaiser Wilhelm follow?
3 On January 18, 1871, Wilhelm I became the first emperor of the German Reich, or Empire. He appointed Otto von Bismarck as chancellor. With his focus on developing the new empire, Bismarck avoided conflicts with other nations and formed an alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy, known as the Triple Alliance. But the interests of this new king of the north soon clashed with those of the king of the south.
4 After Wilhelm I and his successor, Frederick III, died in 1888, 29-year-old Wilhelm II ascended the throne. Wilhelm II, or Kaiser Wilhelm, forced Bismarck to resign and followed a policy of expanding Germany’s influence throughout the world. “Under Wilhelm II,” says one historian, “[Germany] assumed an arrogant and a truculent air.”
5. How did the two kings sit “at one table,” and what did they speak there?
5 When Czar Nicholas II of Russia called a peace conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on August 24, 1898, the atmosphere was one of international tension. This conference and the one that followed it in 1907 established the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. By becoming members of this court, the German Reich as well as Great Britain gave the appearance that they favored peace. They sat “at one table,” appearing to be friendly, but ‘their hearts were inclined to do what was bad.’ The diplomatic tactic of ‘speaking a lie at one table’ could not promote real peace. As to their political, commercial, and military ambitions, ‘nothing could succeed’ because the end of the two kings “is yet for the time appointed” by Jehovah God.
“AGAINST THE HOLY COVENANT”
6, 7. (a) In what way did the king of the north “go back to his land”? (b) How did the king of the south respond to the expanding influence of the king of the north?
6 Continuing on, God’s angel said: “And he [the king of the north] will go back to his land with a great amount of goods, and his heart will be against the holy covenant. And he will act effectively and certainly go back to his land.”—Daniel 11:28.
7 Kaiser Wilhelm went back to the “land,” or earthly condition, of the ancient king of the north. How? By building up an imperial rule designed to expand the German Reich and extend its influence. Wilhelm II pursued colonial goals in Africa and other places. Wanting to challenge British supremacy at sea, he proceeded to build a powerful navy. “Germany’s naval power went from being negligible to being second only to Britain’s in little more than a decade,” says The New Encyclopædia Britannica. In order to maintain its supremacy, Britain actually had to expand its own naval program. Britain also negotiated the entente cordiale (cordial understanding) with France and a similar agreement with Russia, forming the Triple Entente. Europe was now divided into two military camps—the Triple Alliance on one side and the Triple Entente on the other.
8. How did the German Empire come to have “a great amount of goods”?
8 The German Empire followed an aggressive policy, resulting in “a great amount of goods” for Germany because it was the chief part of the Triple Alliance. Austria-Hungary and Italy were Roman Catholic. Therefore, the Triple Alliance also enjoyed papal favor, whereas the king of the south, with his largely non-Catholic Triple Entente, did not.
9. How was the king of the north “against the holy covenant” at heart?
9 What about Jehovah’s people? They had long declared that “the appointed times of the nations” would end in 1914.* (Luke 21:24) In that year, God’s Kingdom in the hands of King David’s Heir, Jesus Christ, was established in the heavens. (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Luke 22:28, 29) As far back as March 1880, the Watch Tower magazine linked the rule of God’s Kingdom with the ending of “the appointed times of the nations,” or “the times of the Gentiles.” (King James Version) But the heart of the Germanic king of the north was ‘against the holy Kingdom covenant.’ Instead of acknowledging Kingdom rule, Kaiser Wilhelm ‘acted effectively’ by promoting his schemes for world domination. In so doing, though, he sowed the seeds for World War I.
THE KING BECOMES “DEJECTED” IN A WAR
10, 11. How did World War I start, and how was this “at the time appointed”?
10 “At the time appointed he [the king of the north] will go back,” the angel foretold, “and he will actually come against the south; but it will not prove to be at the last the same as at the first.” (Daniel 11:29) God’s “time appointed” to end Gentile domination of the earth came in 1914 when he set up the heavenly Kingdom. On June 28 of that year, Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian terrorist in Sarajevo, Bosnia. That was the spark that touched off World War I.
11 Kaiser Wilhelm urged Austria-Hungary to retaliate against Serbia. Assured of German support, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914. But Russia came to Serbia’s aid. When Germany declared war on Russia, France (an ally in the Triple Entente) gave support to Russia. Germany then declared war on France. To make Paris more readily accessible, Germany invaded Belgium, whose neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain. So Britain declared war on Germany. Other nations became involved, and Italy switched sides. During the war, Britain made Egypt her protectorate in order to prevent the king of the north from cutting off the Suez Canal and invading Egypt, the ancient land of the king of the south.
12. During the first world war, in what way did things not turn out “the same as at the first”?
12 “Despite the size and strength of the Allies,” says The World Book Encyclopedia, “Germany seemed close to winning the war.” In previous conflicts between the two kings, the Roman Empire, as king of the north, had consistently been victorious. But this time, ‘things were not the same as at the first.’ The king of the north lost the war. Giving the reason for this, the angel said: “There will certainly come against him the ships of Kittim, and he will have to become dejected.” (Daniel 11:30a) What were “the ships of Kittim”?
13, 14. (a) What mainly were “the ships of Kittim” that came up against the king of the north? (b) How did more ships of Kittim come as the first world war continued?
13 In Daniel’s time Kittim was Cyprus. Early in the first world war, Cyprus was annexed by Britain. Moreover, according to The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, the name Kittim “is extended to include the W[est] in general, but esp[ecially] the seafaring W[est].” The New International Version renders the expression “ships of Kittim” as “ships of the western coastlands.” During the first world war, the ships of Kittim proved to be mainly the ships of Britain, lying off the western coast of Europe.
14 As the war dragged on, the British Navy was strengthened by more ships of Kittim. On May 7, 1915, the German submarine U-20 sank the civilian liner Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland. Among the dead were 128 Americans. Later, Germany extended submarine warfare into the Atlantic. Subsequently, on April 6, 1917, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany. Augmented by U.S. warships and troops, the king of the south—now the Anglo-American World Power—was fully at war with its rival king.
15. When did the king of the north become “dejected”?
15 Under assault by the Anglo-American World Power, the king of the north became “dejected” and conceded defeat in November 1918. Wilhelm II fled into exile in the Netherlands, and Germany became a republic. But the king of the north was not yet finished.
THE KING ACTS “EFFECTIVELY”
16. According to the prophecy, how would the king of the north react to his defeat?
16 “He [the king of the north] will actually go back and hurl denunciations against the holy covenant and act effectively; and he will have to go back and will give consideration to those leaving the holy covenant.” (Daniel 11:30b) So prophesied the angel, and so it proved to be.
17. What led to the rise of Adolf Hitler?
17 After the war ended, in 1918, the victorious Allies imposed a punitive peace treaty on Germany. The German people found the terms of the treaty harsh, and the new republic was weak from the start. Germany staggered for some years in extreme distress and experienced the Great Depression that ultimately left six million unemployed. By the early 1930’s, conditions were ripe for the rise of Adolf Hitler. He became chancellor in January 1933 and the following year assumed the presidency of what the Nazis called the Third Reich.*
18. How did Hitler “act effectively”?
18 Immediately after coming to power, Hitler launched a vicious attack against “the holy covenant,” represented by the anointed brothers of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 25:40) In this he acted “effectively” against these loyal Christians, cruelly persecuting many of them. Hitler enjoyed economic and diplomatic successes, acting “effectively” in those fields also. In a few years, he made Germany a power to be reckoned with on the world scene.
19. Seeking support, Hitler courted whom?
19 Hitler gave “consideration to those leaving the holy covenant.” Who were these? Evidently, the leaders of Christendom, who claimed to have a covenant relationship with God but had ceased to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Hitler successfully called on “those leaving the holy covenant” for their support. For example, he made a concordat with the pope in Rome. In 1935, Hitler created the Ministry for Church Affairs. One of his goals was to bring Evangelical churches under state control.
THE “ARMS” PROCEED FROM THE KING
20. What “arms” did the king of the north utilize, and against whom?
20 Hitler soon went to war, as the angel had correctly foretold: “There will be arms that will stand up, proceeding from him; and they will actually profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and remove the constant feature.” (Daniel 11:31a) The “arms” were the military forces that the king of the north used in order to fight the king of the south in World War II. On September 1, 1939, Nazi “arms” invaded Poland. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany in order to help Poland. Thus began World War II. Poland collapsed quickly, and soon thereafter, German forces occupied Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. “At the end of 1941,” says The World Book Encyclopedia, “Nazi Germany dominated the continent.”
21. How did the tide turn against the king of the north during World War II, resulting in what outcome?
21 Even though Germany and the Soviet Union had signed a Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Demarcation, Hitler proceeded to invade Soviet territory on June 22, 1941. This action brought the Soviet Union to the side of Britain. The Soviet army put up strong resistance despite spectacular early advances of the German forces. On December 6, 1941, the German army actually suffered defeat at Moscow. The following day, Germany’s ally Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Learning of this, Hitler told his aides: “Now it is impossible for us to lose the war.” On December 11 he rashly declared war on the United States. But he underestimated the strength of both the Soviet Union and the United States. With the Soviet army attacking from the east and British and American forces closing in from the west, the tide soon turned against Hitler. German forces began losing territory after territory. Following Hitler’s suicide, Germany surrendered to the Allies, on May 7, 1945.
22. How did the king of the north ‘profane the sanctuary and remove the constant feature’?
22 “They [Nazi arms] will actually profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and remove the constant feature,” said the angel. In ancient Judah the sanctuary was part of the temple in Jerusalem. However, when the Jews rejected Jesus, Jehovah rejected them and their temple. (Matthew 23:37–24:2) Since the first century C.E., Jehovah’s temple has actually been a spiritual one, with its holy of holies in the heavens and with a spiritual courtyard on earth, in which the anointed brothers of Jesus, the High Priest, serve. From the 1930’s onward, the “great crowd” have worshiped in association with the anointed remnant and are therefore said to serve ‘in God’s temple.’ (Revelation 7:9, 15; 11:1, 2; Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24) In lands under his control, the king of the north profaned the earthly courtyard of the temple by relentlessly persecuting the anointed remnant and their companions. So severe was the persecution that “the constant feature”—the public sacrifice of praise to Jehovah’s name—was removed. (Hebrews 13:15) Despite horrible suffering, however, faithful anointed Christians together with the “other sheep” kept on preaching during World War II.—John 10:16.
‘THE DISGUSTING THING IS PUT IN PLACE’
23. What was “the disgusting thing” in the first century?
23 When the end of the second world war was in sight, another development occurred, just as God’s angel had foretold. “They will certainly put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.” (Daniel 11:31b) Jesus had also spoken of “the disgusting thing.” In the first century, it proved to be the Roman army that came to Jerusalem in 66 C.E. to put down Jewish rebellion.*—Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:27.
24, 25. (a) What is “the disgusting thing” in modern times? (b) When and how was ‘the disgusting thing put in place’?
24 What “disgusting thing” has been “put in place” in modern times? Apparently, it is a “disgusting” counterfeit of God’s Kingdom. This was the League of Nations, the scarlet-colored wild beast that went into the abyss, or ceased to exist as a world-peace organization, when World War II erupted. (Revelation 17:8) “The wild beast,” however, was “to ascend out of the abyss.” This it did when the United Nations, with 50 member nations including the former Soviet Union, was established on October 24, 1945. Thus “the disgusting thing” foretold by the angel—the United Nations—was put in place.
25 Germany had been a leading enemy of the king of the south during both world wars and had occupied the position of the king of the north. Who would be next in that position?
See Chapter 6 of this book.
The Holy Roman Empire was the first reich, and the German Empire, the second.
See Chapter 11 of this book.
WHAT DID YOU DISCERN?
• At the end of the 19th century, what powers filled the roles of the king of the north and the king of the south?
• During World War I, how did the outcome of the conflict “not prove to be at the last the same as at the first” for the king of the north?
• Following World War I, how did Hitler make Germany a power to be reckoned with on the world scene?
• What was the outcome of the rivalry between the king of the north and the king of the south during World War II?
[Chart/Pictures on page 268]
KINGS IN DANIEL 11:27-31
The King of The King of
the North the South
Daniel 11:27-30a German Empire Britain, followed by
(World War I) the Anglo-American
Daniel 11:30b, 31 Hitler’s Third Reich Anglo-American
(World War II) World Power
President Woodrow Wilson with King George V
Many Christians were persecuted in concentration camps
Leaders in Christendom supported Hitler
Automobile in which Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated
German soldiers, World War I
[Picture on page 257]
At Yalta in 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin agreed on plans to occupy Germany, form a new government in Poland, and hold a conference to set up the United Nations
[Pictures on page 258]
1. Archduke Ferdinand 2. German navy 3. British navy 4. Lusitania 5. U.S. declaration of war
[Pictures on page 263]
Adolf Hitler felt confident of victory after Germany’s wartime ally Japan bombed Pearl Harbor