An Age-Old Conflict About to End
NOT long after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.E. a conflict began that has continued down to our day. Its effects have been felt to some extent in every part of the globe. So would not news that this struggle is about to end be most welcome?
The amazing thing about the age-old conflict is that it was foretold long before it began. In the sixth century B.C.E. Jehovah God, through an angel, revealed to the Hebrew prophet Daniel the start of the struggle, particulars about its continuation, and its end. Considering that so many centuries are involved, one can readily see that Daniel would not be able to grasp the full meaning of what was made known to him. In fact, the angel chosen to convey the prophetic message told him: “O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.”—Dan. 12:4.
As late as the nineteenth century C.E., sincere students of the Holy Scriptures acknowledged that much of what Daniel wrote remained a sealed book. Said Bible commentator Thomas Scott:
“The angel, by way of conclusion, intimated to Daniel, that this prophecy would remain obscure, and as ‘a sealed book,’ of which little would be understood, ‘till the time of the end;’ . . . The fact has evidenced this to be the case: immense difficulties have always been acknowledged in many of Daniel’s prophecies, and they have been ‘as words shut up’ even from believers in general. . . . In these latter ages many have bestowed great pains, in searching into history, to illustrate those parts of these prophecies which are already accomplished; and by comparing them with other scriptures, to form some judgment of what yet remains to be fulfilled: and thus much light has been thrown on them. As they shall gradually be more and more accomplished, they will be better understood; and future generations will be far more surprised and instructed by them, than we are.”—Scott’s Bible Commentary, 1844, Vol. IV, p. 700.
The lack of understanding about Daniel’s prophecies in the nineteenth century proves that the world had not then entered its “time of the end.” But what about today? Are we in that “time of the end”? If so, the conclusion of the conflict foretold in the book of Daniel should be at hand.
To understand how world events in this twentieth century have been fulfilling prophecies about the conflict described in the book of Daniel, we must examine the beginning of the conflict. Only then can we make a correct identification of the parties involved.
START OF THE CONFLICT
Daniel was told: “A mighty king [Alexander, the first son of Philip (king of Macedonia), according to the rendering of the Syriac] will certainly stand up and rule with extensive dominion and do according to his will. And when he will have stood up, his kingdom will be broken and be divided toward the four winds of the heavens, but not to his posterity and not according to his dominion with which he had ruled.”—Dan. 11:3, 4, and marginal reading.
In fulfillment of these prophetic words, in course of time after Alexander the Great’s death the empire that he had built up passed into the hands of four of his generals, who had established themselves in power by about 301 B.C.E. Seleucus Nicator took over Mesopotamia and Syria. Cassander began ruling over Macedonia and Greece. Ptolemy Lagus came to have Egypt and Palestine as his domain. Lysimachus gained control over Thrace and Asia Minor.
The revelation made to Daniel from this point onward focused the prime attention on two kings, the “king of the north” and the “king of the south.” Since the founder of the Seleucid dynasty, Seleucus Nicator, controlled territory north of the homeland of Daniel’s people, he now began filling the role of the “king of the north.” In view of his dominion in relation to Daniel’s homeland, Ptolemy Lagus occupied the position of “king of the south.” As the years passed, the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” changed as to personnel. Nevertheless, these “kings” or ruling forces continued warring against each other.
A CHANGE IN IDENTITY
A major change in the identity of the “king of the north” took place in the first century B.C.E. This was because, in the year 65 B.C.E., Roman General Pompey dethroned Antiochus XIII of the Seleucid dynasty. Then, in 64 B.C.E., Syria, the area that had been controlled by the Seleucid, dynasty, became a Roman province. Thus Rome took over the role of the “king of the north.”
Confirming this change in the identity of the “king of the north” is the way that incidents relating to the Messiah at this point form part of the prophetic narration regarding the struggle between the “king of the north” and the “king of the south.” Daniel 11:20-22 states:
“There must stand up in his position [that of the king of the north] one who is causing an exactor to pass through the splendid kingdom, and in a few days he will be broken, but not in anger nor in warfare. And there must stand up in his position one who is to be despised, and they will certainly not set upon him the dignity of the kingdom; and he will actually come in during a freedom from care and take hold of the kingdom by means of smoothness. And as regards the arms of the flood, they will be flooded over on account of him, and they will be broken; as will also the Leader of the covenant.”
It was the “king of the north’s” sending out of the “exactor” through the Roman Empire that guided matters for Jesus, in fulfillment of prophecy, to be born in Bethlehem. Setting forth the historical record of what happened, the physician Luke wrote:
“Now in those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered; (this first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria;) and all people went traveling to be registered, each one to his own city. Of course, Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because of his being a member of the house and family of David, to get registered with Mary, who had been given him in marriage as promised, at present heavy with child. While they were there, the days came to the full for her to give birth.”—Luke 2:1-6.
Then, on August 19, 14 C.E., a comparatively short time after having ordered this registration, Augustus died, neither ‘in anger nor in warfare.’ The “despised” person who succeeded Augustus was Tiberius. It was during Tiberius’ rule that the prophetic “Leader of the covenant,” Jesus Christ, was “broken” in death.
The prophecy about the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” did not terminate in the days of the Roman Empire. We know this because that prophecy points to events to take place in “the time of the end.” (Dan. 11:40) As noted earlier, Bible scholars even as late as the nineteenth century recognized this period to be yet future. The composite evidence of Bible prophecy and Bible chronology places the start of the world’s “time of the end” in the year that World War I broke out, 1914. This is the very year acknowledged by many historians as being a turning point in history. Hence, the question arises, Does what the book of Daniel says about developments in the “time of the end” fit what we have seen in the twentieth century, particularly since 1914?
Regarding what was to happen, we read: “In the time of the end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and 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. . . . And he will actually rule over the hidden treasures of the gold and the silver.”—Dan. 11:40-43.
When we examine modern history, what do we find? Are there any powers today corresponding to the “king of the north” and the “king of the south”? Well, the ancient “king of the north” dominated the area to the north of Daniel’s homeland, a part of which is today the state of Israel. So, then, what great power is presently controlling a vast area to the north of this territory? Is it not the Communist bloc of nations? Yes.
As far as the “king of the south” is concerned, what great power exercised authority in Egypt during the early twentieth century? An examination of any reference work on Egypt will tell you that it was Britain. For example, The World Book Encyclopedia states: “Strong Egyptian demands for freedom from British control developed during World War I. An unsuccessful revolt took place in 1919, the year after the war ended. The nationalist movement continued to grow, and Britain gave Egypt independence in 1922. Egypt became a kingdom, but Britain kept military forces there. In 1936, British troops withdrew from all Egypt except the Suez Canal Zone, where they stayed to guard the waterway.”
In view of the close association of the United States of America with Britain, manifestly the Anglo-American World Power has occupied the position of the “king of the south.” As foretold in the book of Daniel, has there not been a “pushing” between the “king of the south” and the “king of the north”? Has not this “pushing” resulted in considerable loss to the Anglo-American World Power? Consider:
When World War II ended, the Communist bloc of nations, the “king of the north,” dominated 18 percent of earth’s land area, which had 7 percent of the world’s population. But what is the situation today? Thirty-five percent of the world’s population, occupying over a quarter of earth’s land area, has come under the control of the Communist “king of the north.”
How will this conflict finally end? Will the “king of the north” gain more and more control, finally taking over the domain of the “king of the south”? No. The prophecy shows that both the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” will come to their finish. Jehovah God, who foreknew the persistent struggle between these two kings, also decreed its end. This will come about, not through a disastrous world war to be fought by the nations, but through God’s chosen king, Prince Michael, the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel 12:1 tells us: “During that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book.”
The “time of distress” here referred to will be a “great tribulation” that will bring an end to all human rule, including that of the “king of the north” and the “king of the south.” This “great tribulation” will also pave the way for the righteous rule of the Lord Jesus Christ. God-fearing persons who have identified themselves as being on the side of Prince Michael will escape the destruction to come. (Matt. 24:21, 22; Rev. 7:9, 14) Before them will be the prospect of living on an earth free from oppression, injustice and wars, and even being free from sickness and death.—Rev. 21:3, 4; Ps. 37:9-11, 29.
In view of what is ahead, does your life show that you are looking forward to the approaching end of the age-old conflict? Have you taken positive action to put yourself on the side of Jesus Christ, the King of kings? If not, we urge you to examine the Scriptures and to learn what is needed to gain an approved standing with God. Jehovah’s witnesses in your area would be pleased to assist you by sharing with you what they have learned from the Bible.
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King of the South
King of the North