“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.” Daniel 11:32-35
What an enigmatic passage! As we examine this and the context, Daniel is writing about events that took place between the Old and New Testaments. The land of Canaan had been conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and was under control of the Persians at the time Daniel wrote. There was coming another kingdom – the kingdom of Greece, that would be in control of the Promised land, and soon, Rome. What Daniel records, as we compare with Josephus and other secular historians, are the battles that took place between the Grecian leaders in control of Egypt and those in control of the Seleucid empire (where Babylon and Persia were).
Briefly put, after many political intrigues and wars between the kings of the North (Seleucids) and the Kings of the South (Egypt) there arose a king of the North, Antiochus Epiphanies, who would try to force the Jews to renounce God and the Old Covenant and become Greeks. He would kill the priests that offered sacrifices in the Temple. He offered a pig on the altar at Jerusalem (the abomination of desolation) and demanded that the Jews worship the Greek gods. Yet some refused. Many gave in and became Greeks. Yet there were others that stayed faithful to God and began a guerrilla war against the Greeks that lasted for years. The prominent figure was a man by the name of Judas Maccabaeus, the son of the High Priest Mattathias who killed a Grecian official who was to watch that the offerings to Greek gods were carried out. In three years of fighting, Judas and his cohorts drove the Greeks out, and rededicated the Temple and offered sacrifices to God.
Knowing this little bit of history helps us to understand the points made in this passage. The Greek king Antiochus honored those who forsook the holy covenant (the law of God recorded in the Torah). Some would do whatever they could to keep peace and became like the Greeks. Today, some try to claim to be God’s people, and at the same time try to keep peace with the world.
At the same time, there were those who “know their God and stand firm.” Those of understanding (the wise) would instruct many and face persecution as a result (bloodshed, flame, captivity and plunder). The persecution would refine and purify them. Suffering does help us! It clearly shows us what is important! It helps us grow stronger; to make us to be better able to face even more struggles. It makes us more keenly aware of the traps and snares Satan puts in our way to discourage us.
They also had the promise that they would have a little help (v 34). Have we considered that with God’s help, God’s people can do so much? When we look to him, we have help in staying faithful to God. We know that we shall be saved from sin because of the help God offered through Jesus Christ. Yet, was it a little thing that God willingly, lovingly, sacrificed his Son for us?
The people that know their God would “stand firm and take action. (ESV)” or “carry out great exploits” (NKJV). Beloved, the more faith we have in God, the more we will be able to carry out great exploits as well. The more faith, the more we are willing to step out and do bigger and better things. The people of Hebrews 11 did what they did because their faith was in God, not themselves.
Oh, that we would have a faith that will not shrink. Oh, that we would stand firm and take action.
The people that know their God stand firm and take action! What actions are You taking for God? Tommy