A King Profanes Jehovah’s Sanctuary
“As regards the people who are knowing their God, they will prevail.”—DANIEL 11:32.
1, 2. What dramatic conflict has marked human history for more than 2,000 years?
TWO rival kings are locked in a no-holds-barred struggle for supremacy. First one, then the other, gains ascendancy, as for more than two thousand years the battle goes on. In our day the struggle has affected most people on earth and has challenged the integrity of God’s people. It ends with an event unforeseen by either power. This dramatic history in advance was revealed to the ancient prophet Daniel.—Daniel, chapters 10 to 12.
2 The prophecy has to do with the ongoing enmity between the king of the north and the king of the south and was discussed in detail in the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth.”* In that book it was shown that the king of the north was originally Syria, to the north of Israel. Afterward, the role was taken over by Rome. To begin with, the king of the south was Egypt.
Conflict in the Time of the End
3. According to the angel, when would the prophecy about the king of the north and the king of the south be understood, and how?
3 The angel revealing these things to Daniel said: “As for you, 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.” (Daniel 12:4) Yes, the prophecy has to do with the time of the end—a period that started in 1914. During that marked time, many would “rove about” in the Holy Scriptures, and with the help of holy spirit, true knowledge, including an understanding of Bible prophecy, would become abundant. (Proverbs 4:18) As we get deeper into that time, more and more details of the prophecies of Daniel have been clarified. How, then, should we understand the prophecy of the king of the north and the king of the south in 1993, now 35 years after the publication of “Your Will Be Done on Earth”?
4, 5. (a) Where is the year 1914 located in Daniel’s prophecy about the king of the north and the king of the south? (b) According to the angel, what would happen in 1914?
4 The beginning of the time of the end in 1914 was marked by the first world war and the other world distresses that Jesus foretold. (Matthew 24:3, 7, 8) Can we locate that year in Daniel’s prophecy? Yes. The beginning of the time of the end is “the time appointed” referred to at Daniel 11:29. (See “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” pages 269-70.) It was a time already appointed by Jehovah in Daniel’s day, since it came at the end of the 2,520 years indicated in the prophetically significant events of Daniel chapter 4.
5 Those 2,520 years, from the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. during Daniel’s youth until 1914 C.E., were called “the appointed times of the nations.” (Luke 21:24) What political events would mark their end? An angel revealed this to Daniel. The angel said: “At the time appointed he [the king of the north] will go back, 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.
The King Loses a War
6. In 1914, who was the king of the north, and who was the king of the south?
6 By 1914 the role of king of the north had been taken over by Germany, whose leader was Kaiser Wilhelm. (“Kaiser,” from the Roman title “Caesar.”) The outbreak of hostilities in Europe was yet another in the series of showdowns between the king of the north and the king of the south. The role of this latter, the king of the south, was now occupied by Britain, which quickly took over Egypt, the domain of the original king of the south. As the war proceeded, Britain was joined by its former colony, the United States of America. The king of the south became the Anglo-American World Power, the most powerful empire in history.
7, 8. (a) In the first world war, in what way did things not turn out “as at the first”? (b) What was the outcome of the first world war, but according to the prophecy, how did the king of the north react?
7 In previous conflicts between the two kings, the Roman Empire, as king of the north, had consistently been victorious. This time, ‘things were not the same as at the first.’ Why not? Because the king of the north lost the war. One reason was that “the ships of Kittim” came against the king of the north. (Daniel 11:30) What were these ships? In Daniel’s time, Kittim was Cyprus, and 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.” In the first world war, the ships of Kittim proved to be the ships of Britain, lying off the western coast of Europe. Later the British Navy was strengthened by ships from the western continent of North America.
8 Under this assault, the king of the north became “dejected” and conceded defeat in 1918. But he was not finished. “He 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 11:30) So prophesied the angel, and so it proved to be.
The King Acts Effectively
9. What led to the rise of Adolf Hitler, and how did he “act effectively”?
9 After the war, in 1918, the victorious Allies imposed a punitive peace treaty on Germany, apparently designed to keep the German people in near starvation for the indefinite future. As a result, after staggering for some years in extreme distress, Germany was ripe for the rise of Adolf Hitler. He attained supreme power in 1933 and immediately launched a vicious attack against “the holy covenant,” represented by the anointed brothers of Jesus Christ. In this he acted effectively against these loyal Christians, cruelly persecuting many of them.
10. Seeking support, Hitler courted whom, and with what results?
10 Hitler enjoyed economic and diplomatic successes, acting effectively in that field also. In a few years, he made Germany a power to be reckoned with, being helped in this endeavor by “those leaving the holy covenant.” Who were these? Evidently, the leaders of Christendom, who claimed a covenant relationship with God but had long since ceased to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Hitler successfully called on “those leaving the holy covenant” for their support. The pope in Rome made a concordat with him, and the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Protestant churches in Germany, supported Hitler throughout his 12-year reign of terror.
11. How did the king of the north “profane the sanctuary” and “remove the constant feature”?
11 So successful was Hitler that he went to war, as the angel correctly foretold. “And 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) In ancient Israel, 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, 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, the great crowd have worshiped in association with the anointed remnant; hence, they are said to serve ‘in God’s temple.’ (Revelation 7:9, 15; 11:1, 2; Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24) The earthly courtyard of the temple was profaned by the relentless persecution of the anointed remnant and their companions in lands where the king of the north held sway. So severe was the persecution that the constant feature—the public sacrifice of praise to Jehovah’s name—was removed. (Hebrews 13:15) Still, history shows that despite horrible suffering, faithful anointed Christians, together with the “other sheep,” kept on preaching underground.—John 10:16.
“The Disgusting Thing”
12, 13. What was “the disgusting thing,” and—as foreseen by the faithful and discreet slave—when and how was it reestablished?
12 When the end of the second world war was in sight, there was another development. “They will certainly put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.” (Daniel 11:31b) This “disgusting thing,” which Jesus also mentioned, had already been recognized as the League of Nations, the scarlet-colored wild beast that according to Revelation went into the abyss. (Matthew 24:15; Revelation 17:8; see Light, Book Two, page 94.) It did this when World War II broke out. However, at the New World Theocratic Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1942, Nathan H. Knorr, third president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, discussed the prophecy of Revelation 17 and warned that the beast would rise again from the abyss.
13 History bore out the truth of his words. Between August and October 1944, at Dumbarton Oaks in the United States, work was begun on the charter of what would be called the United Nations. The charter was adopted by 51 nations, including the former Soviet Union, and when it came into force on October 24, 1945, the defunct League of Nations in effect came out of the abyss.
14. When and how did the identity of the king of the north change?
14 Germany had been a chief enemy of the king of the south during both world wars. After World War II, part of Germany realigned to become an ally of the king of the south. But the other part of Germany now became aligned with another potent empire. The Communist bloc, which now included part of Germany, stood up in strong opposition to the Anglo-American alliance, and the rivalry between the two kings became a Cold War.—See “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” pages 264-84.
The King and the Covenant
15. Who are ‘those acting wickedly against the covenant,’ and what relationship have they had with the king of the north?
15 The angel now says: “Those who are acting wickedly against the covenant, he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words.” (Daniel 11:32a) Who are these ones acting wickedly against the covenant? Again, they can only be the leaders of Christendom, who claim to be Christian but by their actions profane the very name of Christianity. 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.” (Religion in the Soviet Union, by Walter Kolarz) After the war, church leaders tried to maintain that friendship despite the atheistic policy of the power that was now king of the north.* Thus, Christendom became more than ever a part of this world—a disgusting apostasy in Jehovah’s eyes.—John 17:14; James 4:4.
16, 17. Who are “those having insight,” and how have they fared under the king of the north?
16 What, though, of genuine Christians? “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 11:32b, 33) Christians living under the king of the north, while properly “in subjection to the superior authorities,” have not been 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.
17 The result? They both ‘prevailed’ and ‘stumbled.’ They stumbled in that they were persecuted and suffered intensely, some even being killed. But they prevailed in that, for the most part, they remained faithful. Yes, they conquered the world, just as Jesus conquered the world. (John 16:33) Moreover, they never stopped preaching, even if they found themselves in prison or in a concentration camp. In so doing, they ‘imparted understanding to the many.’ Despite persecution, in most lands ruled over by the king of the north, the numbers 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.
18. What “little help” has been received by the anointed remnant living under the king of the north?
18 Speaking of the persecution of God’s people, the angel foretold: “But when they are made to stumble they will be helped with a little help.” (Daniel 11:34a) How did this happen? For one thing, the triumph of the king of the south in the second world war resulted in huge relief for Christians living under the rival king. (Compare Revelation 12:15, 16.) Then, those who were persecuted by the successor king experienced relief from time to time, and as the Cold War wound down, many leaders came to realize that faithful Christians are no threat and thus granted them legal recognition.* Great help has come, too, in the swelling numbers of the great crowd, who have responded to the faithful preaching of anointed ones and have helped them, as described at Matthew 25:34-40.
A Cleansing for God’s People
19. (a) How did some “join themselves to them by means of smoothness”? (b) What is meant by the expression “until the time of the end”? (See footnote.)
19 Not all who manifested an interest in serving God during this time had good motives. The angel warned: “Many will certainly join themselves to them by means of smoothness. 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 11:34b, 35) Some showed an interest in the truth but were not willing to make a genuine dedication to serve God. 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.”
20. Why did Jehovah allow some faithful Christians to “stumble” because of hypocritical infiltrators?
20 The infiltrators caused some faithful ones to fall into the hands of the authorities. Why did Jehovah allow such things to happen? For a refining, a cleansing. Just as Jesus “learned obedience from the things he suffered,” so these faithful souls 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.’ Great rejoicing awaits such faithful ones when the appointed time arrives for their endurance to be rewarded. This will be seen when we discuss more of Daniel’s prophecy.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., and released in English in 1958 at the “Divine Will” International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The November 1992 World Press Review featured an article from The Toronto Star that said: “Over the past several years, Russians have seen dozens of once-unassailable illusions about their country’s history crumble before the facts. But the disclosures about church collaboration with the communist regime represent the most shattering blow.”
“Until the time of the end” could mean “during the time of the end.” The word here translated “until” appears in the Aramaic text of Daniel 7:25 and there means “during” or “for.” The word has a similar meaning in the Hebrew text of 2 Kings 9:22, Job 20:5, and Judges 3:26. In most translations of Daniel 11:35, however, it is rendered “until,” and if this is the correct understanding, then “the time of the end” here must be the time of the end of the endurance of God’s people.—Compare “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” page 286.
Do You Remember?
◻ Why should we today expect to have a clearer understanding of the prophecy of Daniel?
◻ How did the king of the north ‘hurl denunciations and act effectively’?
◻ How was the reappearance of “the disgusting thing” foreseen by the slave class?
◻ How did the anointed remnant ‘stumble, prevail, and receive a little help’?
[Picture on page 15]
Under Hitler, the king of the north fully recovered from his 1918 defeat at the hands of the king of the south
[Picture on page 16]
The leaders of Christendom tried to cultivate a relationship with the king of the north