The Contending Kings Near Their End
1, 2. How did the identity of the king of the north change after the second world war?
REFLECTING on the political climate of the United States and Russia, the French philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835: “One has freedom as the principal means of action; the other has servitude. Their . . . paths [are] diverse; nevertheless, each seems called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world.” How did this prediction fare in the wake of World War II? Historian J. M. Roberts writes: “At the end of a second World War the destinies of the world did, indeed, at last appear to be likely to be dominated by two great and very differing systems of power, one based in what had been Russia, one in the United States of America.”
2 During the two world wars, Germany had been the chief enemy of the king of the south—the Anglo-American World Power—and had occupied the position of the king of the north. After World War II, however, that nation stood divided. West Germany became an ally of the king of the south, and East Germany aligned itself with another powerful entity—the Communist bloc of nations headed by the Soviet Union. This bloc, or political entity, stood up as the king of the north, in strong opposition to the Anglo-American alliance. And the rivalry between the two kings became a Cold War that lasted from 1948 to 1989. Previously, the German king of the north had acted “against the holy covenant.” (Daniel 11:28, 30) How would the Communist bloc act with regard to the covenant?
TRUE CHRISTIANS STUMBLE BUT PREVAIL
3, 4. Who are those “acting wickedly against the covenant,” and what relationship have they had with the king of the north?
3 “Those who are acting wickedly against the covenant,” said God’s angel, “he [the king of the north] will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words.” The angel added: “But as regards the people who are knowing their God, they will prevail and act effectively. And as regards those having insight among the people, they will impart understanding to the many. And they will certainly be made to stumble by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plundering, for some days.”—Daniel 11:32, 33.
4 The ones “acting wickedly against the covenant” can only be the leaders of Christendom, who claim to be Christian but by their actions profane the very name of Christianity. In his book Religion in the Soviet Union, Walter Kolarz says: “[During the second world war] the Soviet Government made an effort to enlist the material and moral assistance of the Churches for the defence of the motherland.” After the war church leaders tried to maintain that friendship, despite the atheistic policy of the power that was now the king of the north. Thus, Christendom became more than ever a part of this world—a disgusting apostasy in Jehovah’s eyes.—John 17:16; James 4:4.
5, 6. Who were ‘the people knowing their God,’ and how did they fare under the king of the north?
5 What of genuine Christians—“the people who are knowing their God” and “those having insight”? Although they were properly “in subjection to the superior authorities,” Christians living under the rulership of the king of the north were not a part of this world. (Romans 13:1; John 18:36) Careful to pay back “Caesar’s things to Caesar,” they also gave “God’s things to God.” (Matthew 22:21) Because of this, their integrity was challenged.—2 Timothy 3:12.
6 As a result, true Christians both ‘stumbled’ and ‘prevailed.’ They stumbled in that they suffered intense persecution, some even being killed. But they prevailed in that the vast majority remained faithful. They conquered the world, just as Jesus did. (John 16:33) Moreover, they never stopped preaching, even if they found themselves in prison or in concentration camps. In so doing, they ‘imparted understanding to the many.’ Despite persecution in most lands ruled over by the king of the north, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses increased. Thanks to the faithfulness of “those having insight,” an ever-expanding part of the “great crowd” has appeared in those lands.—Revelation 7:9-14.
JEHOVAH’S PEOPLE ARE REFINED
7. What “little help” did the anointed Christians living under the king of the north receive?
7 “When they [God’s people] are made to stumble they will be helped with a little help,” said the angel. (Daniel 11:34a) The triumph of the king of the south in the second world war had resulted in some relief for Christians living under the rival king. (Compare Revelation 12:15, 16.) Similarly, those who were persecuted by the successor king experienced relief from time to time. As the Cold War wound down, many leaders came to realize that faithful Christians are no threat and thus granted them legal recognition. Help came, too, from the swelling numbers of the great crowd, who responded to the faithful preaching of the anointed ones and helped them.—Matthew 25:34-40.
8. How did some join themselves to God’s people “by means of smoothness”?
8 Not all who professed to have an interest in serving God during the Cold War years had good motives. The angel had warned: “Many will certainly join themselves to them by means of smoothness.” (Daniel 11:34b) A considerable number showed an interest in the truth but were not willing to make a dedication to God. Yet others who seemed to accept the good news were really spies for the authorities. A report from one land reads: “Some of these unscrupulous characters were avowed Communists who had crept into the Lord’s organization, made a great display of zeal, and had even been appointed to high positions of service.”
9. Why did Jehovah allow some faithful Christians “to stumble” because of infiltrators?
9 The angel continued: “And some of those having insight will be made to stumble, in order to do a refining work because of them and to do a cleansing and to do a whitening, until the time of the end; because it is yet for the time appointed.” (Daniel 11:35) The infiltrators caused some faithful ones to fall into the hands of the authorities. Jehovah allowed such things to happen for a refining and a cleansing of his people. Just as Jesus “learned obedience from the things he suffered,” so these faithful ones learned endurance from the testing of their faith. (Hebrews 5:8; James 1:2, 3; compare Malachi 3:3.) They are thus ‘refined, cleansed, and whitened.’
10. What is meant by the expression “until the time of the end”?
10 Jehovah’s people were to experience stumbling and refining “until the time of the end.” Of course, they expect to be persecuted until the end of this wicked system of things. However, the cleansing and whitening of God’s people as a result of the intrusion from the king of the north was “for the time appointed.” Hence, at Daniel 11:35, “the time of the end” must relate to the end of the period of time needed for God’s people to be refined while enduring the assault of the king of the north. The stumbling evidently ended at the time appointed by Jehovah.
THE KING MAGNIFIES HIMSELF
11. What did the angel say about the attitude of the king of the north toward Jehovah’s sovereignty?
11 Regarding the king of the north, the angel added: “The king will actually do according to his own will, and he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god; and [refusing to acknowledge Jehovah’s sovereignty] against the God of gods he will speak marvelous things. And he will certainly prove successful until the denunciation will have come to a finish; because the thing decided upon must be done. And to the God of his fathers he will give no consideration; and to the desire of women and to every other god he will give no consideration, but over everyone he will magnify himself.”—Daniel 11:36, 37.
12, 13. (a) In what way did the king of the north reject “the God of his fathers”? (b) Who were the “women” whose “desire” the king of the north did not consider? (c) To which “god” did the king of the north give glory?
12 Fulfilling these prophetic words, the king of the north rejected “the God of his fathers,” such as the Trinitarian divinity of Christendom. The Communist bloc promoted outright atheism. Thus the king of the north made a god of himself, ‘magnifying himself over everyone.’ Giving no consideration “to the desire of women”—subservient lands, such as North Vietnam, that served as handmaids of his regime—the king acted “according to his own will.”
13 Continuing with the prophecy, the angel said: “To the god of fortresses, in his position he will give glory; and to a god that his fathers did not know he will give glory by means of gold and by means of silver and by means of precious stone and by means of desirable things.” (Daniel 11:38) In fact, the king of the north placed his trust in modern scientific militarism, “the god of fortresses.” He sought salvation through this “god,” sacrificing enormous wealth on its altar.
14. How did the king of the north “act effectively”?
14 “He will act effectively against the most fortified strongholds, along with a foreign god. Whoever has given him recognition he will make abound with glory, and he will actually make them rule among many; and the ground he will apportion out for a price.” (Daniel 11:39) Trusting in his militaristic “foreign god,” the king of the north acted most “effectively,” proving to be a formidable military power in “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Those who supported his ideology were rewarded with political, financial, and sometimes military support.
“A PUSHING” IN THE TIME OF THE END
15. How did the king of the south engage with the king of the north in “a pushing”?
15 “In the time of the end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing,” the angel told Daniel. (Daniel 11:40a) Has the king of the south ‘pushed’ the king of the north during “the time of the end”? (Daniel 12:4, 9) Yes, indeed. After the first world war, the punitive peace treaty imposed upon the then king of the north—Germany—was surely “a pushing,” an incitement to retaliation. After his victory in the second world war, the king of the south targeted fearsome nuclear weapons on his rival and organized against him a powerful military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Concerning NATO’s function, a British historian says: “It was the prime instrument for the ‘containment’ of the USSR, which was now perceived as the principal threat to European peace. Its mission lasted for 40 years, and was carried out with indisputable success.” As the years of the Cold War went by, the “pushing” by the king of the south included high-tech espionage as well as diplomatic and military offensives.
16. How did the king of the north react to the pushing by the king of the south?
16 How did the king of the north react? “Against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships; and he will certainly enter into the lands and flood over and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40b) The history of the last days has featured the expansionism of the king of the north. During the second world war, the Nazi “king” flooded over his borders into the surrounding lands. At the end of that war, the successor “king” built a powerful empire. During the Cold War, the king of the north fought his rival in proxy wars and insurgencies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He persecuted genuine Christians, hindering—but by no means stopping—their activity. And his military and political offensives brought a number of lands under his control. This is exactly what the angel had prophesied: “He will also actually enter into the land of the Decoration [the spiritual estate of Jehovah’s people], and there will be many lands that will be made to stumble.”—Daniel 11:41a.
17. What limits were there to the expansionism of the king of the north?
17 Nevertheless, the king of the north did not achieve world conquest. The angel foretold: “These are the ones that will escape out of his hand, Edom and Moab and the main part of the sons of Ammon.” (Daniel 11:41b) In ancient times, Edom, Moab, and Ammon were situated between the domains of the Egyptian king of the south and the Syrian king of the north. In modern times they represent nations and organizations that the king of the north targeted but was unable to bring under his influence.
EGYPT DOES NOT ESCAPE
18, 19. In what ways did the king of the south feel the influence of his rival?
18 Jehovah’s angel continued: “He [the king of the north] will keep thrusting out his hand against the lands; and as regards the land of Egypt, she will not prove to be an escapee. And he will actually rule over the hidden treasures of the gold and the silver and over all the desirable things of Egypt. And the Libyans and the Ethiopians will be at his steps.” (Daniel 11:42, 43) Even the king of the south, “Egypt,” did not escape the effects of the expansionist policies of the king of the north. For example, the king of the south suffered a notable defeat in Vietnam. And what of “the Libyans and the Ethiopians”? These neighbors of ancient Egypt might well foreshadow nations that are, geographically speaking, neighbors of modern “Egypt” (the king of the south). At times, they have been followers of—‘at the steps of’—the king of the north.
19 Has the king of the north ruled over ‘the hidden treasures of Egypt’? He has indeed had a powerful influence on the way that the king of the south has used his financial resources. Because of fear of his rival, the king of the south has devoted huge sums to maintaining a formidable army, navy, and air force. To this extent, the king of the north ‘ruled over,’ or controlled, the disposition of the wealth of the king of the south.
THE FINAL CAMPAIGN
20. How does the angel describe the final campaign of the king of the north?
20 The rivalry between the king of the north and the king of the south—whether by military, economic, or other means—is nearing its end. Revealing the details of a conflict yet to come, Jehovah’s angel said: “There will be reports that will disturb him [the king of the north], out of the sunrising and out of the north, and he will certainly go forth in a great rage in order to annihilate and to devote many to destruction. And he will plant his palatial tents between the grand sea and the holy mountain of Decoration; and he will have to come all the way to his end, and there will be no helper for him.”—Daniel 11:44, 45.
21. What is there yet to learn about the king of the north?
21 With the disbanding of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the king of the north suffered a serious setback. Who will be this king when Daniel 11:44, 45 is fulfilled? Will he be identified with one of the countries that were part of the former Soviet Union? Or will he change identity completely, as he has done a number of times before? Will the development of nuclear weapons by additional nations result in a new arms race and have a bearing on the identity of that king? Only time will provide answers to these questions. We are wise not to speculate. When the king of the north embarks on his final campaign, the fulfillment of prophecy will be clearly discerned by all who have Bible-based insight.—See “Kings in Daniel Chapter 11,” on page 284.
22. What questions arise about the final attack by the king of the north?
22 However, we do know what action the king of the north will soon take. Moved by the reports “out of the sunrising and out of the north,” he will conduct a campaign ‘in order to annihilate many.’ Against whom is this campaign directed? And what “reports” trigger such an attack?
ALARMED BY DISTURBING REPORTS
23. (a) What outstanding event must take place before Armageddon? (b) Who are “the kings from the rising of the sun”?
23 Consider what the book of Revelation has to say about the end of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Before “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” Armageddon, this great enemy of true worship “will be completely burned with fire.” (Revelation 16:14, 16; 18:2-8) Her destruction is foreshadowed by the pouring out of the sixth bowl of God’s wrath on the symbolic river Euphrates. The river is dried up so that “the way might be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun.” (Revelation 16:12) Who are these kings? None other than Jehovah God and Jesus Christ!—Compare Isaiah 41:2; 46:10, 11.
24. What act of Jehovah may disturb the king of the north?
24 The destruction of Babylon the Great is graphically described in the book of Revelation, which states: “The ten horns that you saw [the kings ruling in the time of the end], and the wild beast [the United Nations], these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:16) Why will the rulers destroy Babylon the Great? Because ‘God puts it into their hearts to carry out his thought.’ (Revelation 17:17) Included among these rulers is the king of the north. What he hears “out of the sunrising” may well refer to this act of Jehovah, when he puts it into the hearts of human leaders to annihilate the great religious harlot.
25. (a) What special target does the king of the north have? (b) Where does the king of the north “plant his palatial tents”?
25 But there is a special target for the wrath of the king of the north. He will “plant his palatial tents between the grand sea and the holy mountain of Decoration,” says the angel. In Daniel’s time the grand sea was the Mediterranean and the holy mountain was Zion, once the site of God’s temple. Hence, in the prophecy’s fulfillment, the enraged king of the north conducts a campaign against God’s people. In a spiritual sense, the location “between the grand sea and the holy mountain” represents the spiritual estate of Jehovah’s anointed servants. They have come out of “the sea” of mankind alienated from God and have the hope of ruling on heavenly Mount Zion with Jesus Christ.—Isaiah 57:20; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1.
26. As indicated by Ezekiel’s prophecy, what may be the origin of the news “out of the north”?
26 Ezekiel, a contemporary of Daniel, also prophesied an attack on God’s people “in the final part of the days.” He said that the hostilities would be initiated by Gog of Magog, that is, by Satan the Devil. (Ezekiel 38:14, 16) Symbolically, from which direction does Gog come? “From the remotest parts of the north,” says Jehovah, through Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 38:15) However vicious this assault, it will not destroy Jehovah’s people. This dramatic encounter will result from a strategic move on Jehovah’s part to annihilate Gog’s forces. Thus, Jehovah says to Satan: “I shall certainly . . . put hooks in your jaws and bring you forth.” “I will . . . cause you to come up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you in upon the mountains of Israel.” (Ezekiel 38:4; 39:2) The news “out of the north” that enrages the king of the north, therefore, must originate with Jehovah. But just what the reports “out of the sunrising and out of the north” will finally contain, only God will determine and time will tell.
27. (a) Why will Gog incite the nations, including the king of the north, to attack Jehovah’s people? (b) How will Gog’s attack turn out?
27 As for Gog, he organizes his all-out assault because of the prosperity of “the Israel of God,” who, along with the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” are no longer part of his world. (Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:9; John 10:16; 17:15, 16; 1 John 5:19) Gog looks askance upon “a people gathered together out of the nations, one that is accumulating [spiritual] wealth and property.” (Ezekiel 38:12) Viewing the Christian spiritual estate as “open rural country” ripe for the taking, Gog makes a supreme effort to wipe out this obstacle to his total control of mankind. But he fails. (Ezekiel 38:11, 18; 39:4) When the kings of the earth, including the king of the north, attack Jehovah’s people, they will ‘come all the way to their end.’
‘THE KING WILL COME TO HIS END’
28. What do we know about the future of the king of the north and the king of the south?
28 The final campaign of the king of the north is not directed against the king of the south. Therefore, the king of the north does not come to his end at the hands of his great rival. Similarly, the king of the south is not destroyed by the king of the north. The king of the south is destroyed, “without [human] hand,” by God’s Kingdom.* (Daniel 8:25) In fact, at the battle of Armageddon, all earthly kings are to be removed by God’s Kingdom, and this evidently is what happens to the king of the north. (Daniel 2:44) Daniel 11:44, 45 describes events leading up to that final battle. No wonder “there will be no helper” when the king of the north meets his end!
See Chapter 10 of this book.
WHAT DID YOU DISCERN?
• How did the identity of the king of the north change after the second world war?
• What will finally happen to the king of the north and the king of the south?
• How have you benefited from paying attention to Daniel’s prophecy about the rivalry between the two kings?
[Chart/Picture on page 284]
KINGS IN DANIEL CHAPTER 11
The King of The King of
the North the South
Daniel 11:5 Seleucus I Nicator Ptolemy I
Daniel 11:6 Antiochus II Ptolemy II
(wife Laodice) (daughter Berenice)
Daniel 11:7-9 Seleucus II Ptolemy III
Daniel 11:10-12 Antiochus III Ptolemy IV
Daniel 11:13-19 Antiochus III Ptolemy V
(daughter Cleopatra I) Successor: Ptolemy VI
Seleucus IV and
Daniel 11:20 Augustus
Daniel 11:21-24 Tiberius
Daniel 11:25, 26 Aurelian Queen Zenobia
The Roman Empire
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
Daniel 11:32-43 Communist bloc Anglo-American
(Cold War) World Power
The prophecy in Daniel chapter 11 does not foretell the names of the political entities that occupy the positions of the king of the north and the king of the south at various times. Their identities become known only after the events start to occur. Moreover, since the conflict occurs in episodes, there are intervals of no conflict—one king holds sway while the other remains inactive.
[Full-page picture on page 271]
[Pictures on page 279]
“Pushing” by the king of the south has included high-tech espionage and the threat of military action