The Final Victory of Michael, the Great Prince
“During that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people.”—DANIEL 12:1.
1. What attitude toward Jehovah’s sovereignty have many world rulers manifested, and how has the king of the north been no different?
“WHO is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away?” (Exodus 5:2) These were Pharaoh’s challenging words to Moses. Refusing to acknowledge the supreme Godship of Jehovah, Pharaoh was determined to keep Israel in slavery. Other rulers have shown a similar disdain for Jehovah, and the kings of Daniel’s prophecy are no exception. (Isaiah 36:13-20) Indeed, the king of the north has gone further. The angel says: “He will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god; and against the God of gods he will speak marvelous things. . . . 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.
2, 3. In what way did the king of the north reject “the God of his fathers” in favor of worshiping another “god”?
2 Fulfilling these prophetic words, the king of the north rejected “the God of his fathers” (or, “his ancestral gods,” The New English Bible), be it the pagan gods of Rome or the Trinitarian divinity of Christendom. Hitler used Christendom for his own ends but evidently planned to replace her with a new, Germanic church. His successor promoted outright atheism. Thus the king of the north has made a god of himself, ‘magnifying himself over everyone.’
3 The prophecy continues: “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.” All through the time of the end, he has sought salvation through this “god,” sacrificing enormous wealth on its altar.
4. What success has the king of the north had?
4 “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 has 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.
“In the Time of the End”
5, 6. How has the king of the south ‘pushed,’ and how has the king of the north reacted?
5 Daniel 11:40a reads: “In the time of the end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing.” This and the following verses have been viewed as having a fulfillment in our future. However, if “the time of the end” here means the same as it does at Daniel 12:4, 9, we should look for the fulfillment of these words throughout the last days. Has the king of the south ‘pushed’ the king of the north during this time? Yes, indeed. After the first world war, the punitive peace treaty 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, NATO. As the years went by, his “pushing” included high-tech espionage as well as diplomatic and military offensives.
6 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 outside his own boundaries. 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, limiting (but by no means stopping) their activity. And his military and political offensives brought a number of lands under his control. This is exactly as the angel prophesied: “He will also actually enter into the land of the Decoration [the spiritual estate of God’s people], and there will be many lands that will be made to stumble.”—Daniel 11:41a.
7. What limits were there to the expansionism of the king of the north?
7 Nevertheless, even though—from the viewpoint of his rival—the king of the north has loomed as a menacing presence, he has not achieved world conquest. “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 roughly between Egypt and Syria. They can be taken to represent nations and organizations today that the king of the north targeted but was unable to bring under his influence.
‘Egypt Will Not Escape’
8, 9. How has the influence of the king of the north been felt, even by his main rival?
8 The angel goes on to say: “He 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. He suffered, for example, 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” and that at times have been followers of, ‘at the steps of,’ the king of the north.
9 Has the king of the north ruled over ‘the hidden treasures of Egypt’? Well, he has certainly not conquered the king of the south, and up until 1993 the world situation made it seem unlikely that he will. But he has had a powerful influence on the way the king of the south used his financial resources. Because of fear of his rival, the king of the south has devoted huge sums each year to maintaining a formidable army, navy, and air force. To this extent the king of the north could be said to have ‘ruled over,’ controlled, the disposition of the wealth of the king of the south.
Final Campaign of the Northern King
10. In what way does the angel describe the end of the rivalry between the two kings?
10 Does the rivalry between the two kings continue indefinitely? No. The angel told Daniel: “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.
11, 12. What recent political events have to do with the rivalry between the king of the north and the king of the south, and what have we yet to learn?
11 These events are yet future, so we cannot say in detail how the prophecy will be fulfilled. Recently, the political situation regarding the two kings has changed. The bitter rivalry between the United States and Eastern European countries has cooled. Further, the Soviet Union was disbanded in 1991 and no longer exists.—See the March 1, 1992, issue of The Watchtower, pages 4, 5.
12 So who is the king of the north now? Is he to be identified with one of the countries that were part of the old Soviet Union? Or is he changing identity completely, as he has a number of times before? We cannot say. Who will be the king of the north when Daniel 11:44, 45 is fulfilled? Will the rivalry between the two kings flare up again? And what of the huge nuclear stockpiles that still exist in a number of lands? Only time will provide the answers to these questions.
13, 14. What do we know about the future of the two kings?
13 One thing we do know. Soon, the king of the north will conduct an offensive campaign that will be triggered by “reports that will disturb him, out of the sunrising and out of the north.” This campaign will immediately precede his “end.” We can learn more about these “reports” if we consider other Bible prophecies.
14 First, though, notice that these acts of the king of the north are not said to be against the king of the south. He 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 southern king (represented in other prophecies as the final horn to appear on a wild beast) is destroyed “without [human] hand” by God’s Kingdom. (Daniel 7:26; 8:25) In fact, all earthly kings are finally destroyed by God’s Kingdom at the battle of Armageddon, and this evidently is what happens to the king of the north. (Daniel 2:44; 12:1; Revelation 16:14, 16) 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!
15. What important questions remain to be discussed?
15 What, then, are the other prophecies that shed light on the “reports” that move the king of the north to set out to “devote many to destruction.” And who are the “many” that he will want to destroy?
A Report Out Of the Sunrising
16. (a) What outstanding event must happen before Armageddon? (b) Who are “the kings from the rising of the sun”?
16 Before the final battle, Armageddon, a great enemy of true worship must be destroyed—harlotlike Babylon the Great, the worldwide empire of false religion. (Revelation 18:3-8) Her destruction is foreshadowed by the pouring out of the sixth bowl of God’s wrath on the symbolic river Euphrates. The river dries up “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!*
17. (a) What does the Bible tell us about the destruction of Babylon the Great? (b) What may the report “out of the sunrising” prove to be?
17 The destruction of Babylon the Great is graphically described in the book of Revelation: “The ten horns that you saw [the ‘kings’ ruling in the time of the end], and the wild beast [the scarlet-colored wild beast, representing the United Nations organization], 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) Truly, the nations ‘destroy much flesh’! (Daniel 7:5) But why will the rulers, including the king of the north, destroy Babylon the Great? Because ‘God puts it into their hearts to carry out his thought.’ (Revelation 17:17) The report “out of the sunrising” may well refer to this act of Jehovah, when, in a way that he chooses, he puts it into the hearts of human leaders to annihilate the great religious harlot.—Daniel 11:44.
A Report Out Of the North
18. What other target does the king of the north have, and where does this locate him when he comes to his end?
18 But there is another target for the wrath of the king of the north. The angel says that he will “plant his palatial tents between the grand sea and the holy mountain of Decoration.” (Daniel 11:45) 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 military campaign against God’s people! In a spiritual sense today, “between the grand sea and the holy mountain” locates him in the spiritual estate of God’s anointed servants, who have come out of “the sea” of alienated mankind and have the hope of ruling on heavenly Mount Zion with Jesus Christ.—Isaiah 57:20; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1.
19. As indicated by Ezekiel’s prophecy, how may we identify the report that incites Gog’s attack? (See footnote.)
19 Ezekiel, a contemporary of Daniel, also prophesied an attack on God’s people “in the final part of the days.” He said the hostilities would be initiated by Gog of Magog, representing Satan the Devil. (Ezekiel 38:16) From which direction, symbolically, does Gog come? Jehovah, through Ezekiel, says: “You will certainly come from your place, from the remotest parts of the north.” (Ezekiel 38:15) Hence, the report “out of the north” may well be Satan’s propaganda inciting the king of the north and all the other kings to attack Jehovah’s people.*—Compare Revelation 16:13, 14; 17:14.
20, 21. (a) Why will Gog incite the nations, including the king of the north, to attack God’s people? (b) Will his attack succeed?
20 Gog organizes this all-out assault because of the prosperity of “the Israel of God,” who, with the great crowd of other sheep, are no longer part of his world. (Galatians 6:16; 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; Revelation 5:9; 7:9) In fulfillment of these words, Jehovah’s people are prospering today as never before. In many lands in Europe, Africa, and Asia where they were once banned, they now worship freely. Between 1987 and 1992, well over one million “desirable things” came out of the nations to Jehovah’s house of true worship. Spiritually, they are wealthy and peaceful.—Haggai 2:7; Isaiah 2:2-4; 2 Corinthians 8:9.
21 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. (Ezekiel 38:11) But he fails. When the kings of the earth attack Jehovah’s people, they will ‘come all the way to their end.’ How?
A Third King
22, 23. When Gog attacks, who stands up for God’s people, and with what results?
22 Ezekiel says that Gog’s attack is the signal for Jehovah God to rise up in behalf of his people and destroy Gog’s forces “on the mountains of Israel.” (Ezekiel 38:18; 39:4) This reminds us of what the angel tells Daniel: “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.”—Daniel 12:1.
23 In 1914, Jesus—the heavenly warrior Michael—became King of God’s heavenly Kingdom. (Revelation 11:15; 12:7-9) Since then, he has been standing ‘in behalf of the sons of Daniel’s people.’ Soon, though, he will “stand up” in Jehovah’s name as an invincible Warrior-King, bringing “vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8) All nations of the earth, including the kings of Daniel’s prophecy, will “beat themselves in lamentation.” (Matthew 24:30) With evil thoughts still in their hearts toward ‘Daniel’s people,’ they will perish forever at the hands of ‘Michael, the great prince.’—Revelation 19:11-21.
24. What effect should this study of Daniel’s prophecy have on us?
24 Do we not long to see that grand triumph of Michael and of his God, Jehovah? For that victory will mean “escape,” survival, for true Christians. (Compare Malachi 4:1-3.) Hence, looking to the future with eager anticipation, we bear in mind the words of the apostle Paul: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Let us keep a firm hold on the Word of life and diligently seek Jehovah’s sheep while the favorable season continues. We are on the homestretch in the race for life. The reward is in sight. May all be determined to endure to the end and thus be among those who will be saved.—Matthew 24:13; Hebrews 12:1.
Alternatively, the report “out of the north” could prove to originate with Jehovah, in view of his words to Gog: “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; compare Psalm 48:2.
Do You Understand?
□ How has the king of the south pushed the king of the north throughout the time of the end?
□ What have we yet to learn about the outcome of the rivalry between the two kings?
□ What two events before Armageddon will certainly involve the king of the north?
□ How will ‘Michael, the great prince,’ protect God’s people?
□ How should we react to our study of Daniel’s prophecy?
[Pictures on page 19]
The king of the north has worshiped a god different from the gods of his predecessors
Top left and middle: UPI/Bettmann; bottom left: Reuters/Bettmann; bottom right: Jasmin/Gamma Liaison