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The Final Battle between Two Apostate Powers (update)

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The Final Battle between 
Two Apostate Powers

(Daniel 11:36-45)

Part 1 (verses 36-39)


Daniel 11:30-45 presents the final saga of earth’s antichrist power during a time called a “tribulation” period.[1] It details two phases of its global aggression:

  1.  Against the Islamic world (11:40-43)
  2.  Against God’s remnant (11:32-35, 44)

Within this narrative, especially verses 36-45, the antichrist’s power finally achieves geopolitical supremacy and economic control. At the zenith of its power, it rules arrogantly, but it ends through destruction (11:45) at the Second Coming (cf. II Thessalonians 2:3-12, Revelation 18:7-8).

This block of verses continues the Hebrew part of Daniel’s book (chapters 8–12), given especially to inform the final “remnant” or group of saints of what lies just ahead. It is earth’s final history of Satan’s desperate work through his key surrogate agent – the “king of the north” – the antichrist.

Many alternative views claim that this narrative is a progressive description of Antiochus Epiphanes. The pagan historian Porphyry is usually cited as originating this proposal. Many scholars have convincingly refuted this understanding.[2]

Preamble to the King of the North

“And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done” (Daniel 11:36).

And the king shall do according to his will;” (vs 36)

This wording assumes that we already know much about this king! He was first discussed in 8:23-24, which described a “time of the end!” Later, in 11:21-28 he is called a vile person. There, Daniel describes him during the first rise of papal power. That is a different antichrist era.[3] Then – a new eschatological timing period for that “vile person” (KJV) or antichrist work begins in 11:29 (“And at the appointed time he shall return”). From verses 29 to 35 this individual is referred to by using the simple pronoun, “he.” “He” threads back through these many masculine references to this “contemptible person” (NIV), “despicable person” (NET), “vile person” (KJV), in 11:21.

Here in verse 36, the identity of this deceitful person (“he”) is embellished by calling him “the king” (hao melek). Significant is the distinctiveness of this individual now called “the” king. It alludes to a very specific person. That will be embellished further by the name “the king of the north.”

For centuries the “traditional” Christian religions have viewed this “king” as “the man of sin” or the eschatological “antichrist” of II Thessalonians 2:3-12. This again ties nicely to Daniel 8:23, which describes a king exercising his evil power – timed in verses 8:17 and 19 to the time of the end, at an appointed time (cf. 11:35c).

This “king” is distinctly end-time, when he, the antichrist, will rise to world power (cf. Revelation 17:12). Daniel’s ominous note comes when “this king will do according to his pleasure” or “his will.” Fascinating – similar words are used that describe the Ram on a mission in 8:4, symbolizing Jesus coming from the east! This embellishes the story of the horrific attempts that this “man” makes to “be like God.” Arrogance, elitism, suppression and control are in view by this man of sin in his final ventures.

He will be in a position of authority, facing little opposition.[4]

This king is first shown as primarily superintending religious issues (11:36-39); thus he is seen as a religious leader[5] similar to what is described in II Thessalonians 2:4b: “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” His authority, for a time, will remain unchallenged (8:4; 11:3, 16).[6] That raised “cries” from Gabriel (Daniel 8:13), Daniel (12:6) and the fifth-seal martyrs (Revelation 6:10), as to “How long” this will continue. This is a timing plea as to when God will intervene and vindicate His people and His character. Prophecy later answers what God’s timing will be in Daniel 12!

he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god.” (vs 36)

One can immediately perceive images of Satan – and that is an identity many see (cf. Isaiah 14:11-14). But – the allusion to an earthly antichrist power is so pervasive in Daniel 11:21-45 that one’s attention must focus there. Since Revelation 13 and 17 also reveal an earthly power that wields blasphemous abusive force against God, these distinct parallels are additional evidences. This also describes the little horn imagery of Daniel 8:10-11 and 25! No power matches the collective, coercive, spiritual defiance so conclusively as the papacy, identified through these cross references.

and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods,” (vs 36)

The “God of gods” refers to the one true God (Joshua 22:22; Psalm 50:1, 136:2; Deuteronomy 10:17).

One might conclude that such words would provoke a universal abhorrence for such speech, yet prophetically this “king” is such a charismatic, “God-like” figure, he mesmerizes the world while defying God! This is the imagery of charismatic blasphemy.

  • This echoes the little horn – “he shall speak great words against the most High” (Daniel 7:25)
  • It is interesting that Nebuchadnezzar made a law against this type of arrogance: “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (Daniel 3:29). That “little horn” defies the very principles that that global secular pagan king even set into Babylonian law centuries before!
  • Intriguingly, skewed sensitivity toward the meaning of blasphemy led to Stephen’s death: “Then they suborned [bribed] men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God” (Acts 6:11). Those leaders were
    serving Satan. Prejudice and hatred confused their spiritual perceptions. In defending tradition, they supported falsehood – just what will shortly happen with the influence of the antichrist!

“Marvelous things” (niplaot) is from the noun “wonder” (pele). That Hebrew expression usually refers to a divine “word” or “act” of God! This rivets conclusively that this “king” will have God-like charisma when he speaks. Such amazing “gifts” will draw the attention of the world toward this evil leader – portraying himself as God – with such “marvelous” words and impressive works. All will be deceptively “crafted” to replace God’s Word (II Peter 2:1, 18; Jude 4, 16).[7]

This describes supreme apostasy as a characteristic of this eschatological “king.” The kingdom that this “king” rules is portrayed in Revelation as a sea beast (Revelation 13:1-3 enamoring the world – where its heads are covered with blasphemy) and the harlot’s beast (17:2-3 – where the beast is covered with names of blasphemy coercing the world). The latter distinctly refers to a religious power centered in Rome (17:9). Collectively, these prophecies reveal a church–state power that unquestionably represents earth’s final antichrist power.

The instructive key: This eschatological antichrist/king/leader will give to mankind false teachings, disguised as divine messages, which will flatter the world as he elevates his authority above God. The context from Daniel reveals that his rule would be in a far distant future.[8]

“Furthermore, 12:1-4, which begins with the words ‘Now at that time’ (linking the opening of chap. 12 with the end of chap. 11), goes on to describe a terrible time of distress, using words similar to those uttered by Jesus in Matt 24:21 describing a great tribulation, and then stipulates that the time of resurrection for the saints will shortly follow.”[9]

and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done” (vs 36)

The power that was previously referred to as the “little horn” which came out of the north in Daniel 8 is similarly described:

  • “It practiced and prospered (8:12) – that little horn (later called a “king” – Daniel 8:23) and this Daniel 11 king are the same power.
  • He magnified himself against the “prince of the host,” later called the “Prince of princes” (8:11, 25), referring to Jesus Christ.

The success of this Roman religious power is time- and event-limited. At a defined point, God’s wrath or “indignation” comes against it. “Indignation,” as used here, is zaam, which usually refers to God’s wrath (cf. Isaiah 10:25, 26:20; Malachi 1:4). That wrath was also recorded in chapter 8:

  • “And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the final end of the indignation [wrath – zaam]: for at the time appointed the end shall be” (Daniel 8:19).
  • God’s wrath occurs at an “appointed time” (when the little horn and this king’s prophecy applies – 11:29, 35). It will be at the “time of the end” (11:40).
  • Again, these rivet together the eschatological importance of these verses.

“God will allow the antichrist to ‘enjoy success,’ but only until ‘the time of wrath is completed’ Dan 11:36]…. Time known in the Old Testament as the ‘day of Yahweh’ (in the New Testament, ‘day of the Lord’) when God punishes the evil unbelieving world that has rebelled against him (1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:2; Rev 6:17). At that time God will exercise His wrath in a way not previously seen.”[10]

All this is under a prophetic decree (“is determined”) – it will happen. The Pauline description of this “man of lawlessness” reveals that his power will end at Christ’s second coming. The appointed time will have come to its end.

  • “Until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:7c, 8).
  • At the end God’s sovereignty prevails.

This is history in advance of a powerful ruler who “will live in the last days, immediately prior to the coming of the Lord.”[11] Verse 40 reveals that his activities will occur at the “time of the end” (es qes) (cf. 10:14), and will be associated with a time of tribulation (12:1) – referred to by Christ in Matthew 24:21 (which occurs immediately before His second coming – Matthew 24:29-31; cf. Revelation 7:14). “But the clearest indication that this ‘king’ will live in the latter days is that the resurrection of the saints will take place immediately after God delivers His people from this individual’s power (12:2). Of course, the resurrection is an eschatological event.”[12]

This king is given power and authority by the dragon (Revelation 13:2) and an “earth beast” (13:14-15) that forces the whole world to worship him (alluding to the antichrist beast from the sea – Revelation 13:12).

Amazing additional information:

“Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all” (Daniel 11:37).

God of his fathers refers to Yahweh in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:13, Joshua 18:3, II Chronicles 7:23). That means that this king does not honor the God that his people anciently reverenced! He is an apostate from early Christianity! This is contrasted with a righteous people “who know their God” in 11:32. In verse 38 this king honors another god his fathers didn’t know. Thus, in this eschatological setting, two divergent powers exist:

  1. People who know God, who will be strong and teach others (11:32-33; cf. Exodus 6:7, 29:46; Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 7:9; 28:64).
  2. King (of a kingdom of people – implied) who is an apostate, defying God – making himself as God (11:37).

This means that this end-time apostate leader arises from a religious body that used to worship the one true God. In the context of earlier verses and Paul’s description of the antichrist, he claims to be a Christian.[13] He takes his seat in God’s temple – His church (II Thessalonians 2:4), purporting to be its leader. He arises from what once were faithful believers
(I John 2:18-19).

“Therefore this king will come from among the people of God. Some interpreters see this as an indication that the Antichrist will be Jewish. However, this phrase is a religious identification, not an ethnic one. It indicates that the eschatological king will come from those whose ancestral tradition is to worship the true God.”[14]

Neither shall he regard … the desire of women.” (vs 37)

The weight of evidence suggests that this refers to disfavor or rejection of normal marital relations (understood and affirmed by such as Luther, Calvin, Keil, Leupold, Young and
Archer).[15] This reflects well the prohibition of nuns to marry by the Catholic Church and relates to the celibacy mandated on its clergy. The evidence more strongly mounts that this apostate power is the Roman Catholic Church, with its papal head centered in Rome. Its liturgy, guised as Christian, had its origins in ancient pagan rites. The unadulterated faith in the apostolic era was poisoned by ancient myths.[16]

nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all” (vs 37)

This is amazing – this king holds himself up as supreme, superior to all other gods. He actively “magnifies himself,” pretending to be like God but functions like Satan.

  • “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
  • Echoing the little horn prophecy: “Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host” (Daniel 8:11a) (referring to the Messiah – cf. 8:25, 9:25).

Some claim that the phrase “nor regard any god” actually belies an atheistic stance. If so, his demand that he be worshiped rather than allow obeisance to any deity appears to reflect the conceited horror of this apostate king (cf. Revelation 13:12, 14-15).

“But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things” (Daniel 11:38).

But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces:” (vs 38)

This phrase has been inconclusively interpreted. In place of God, the king honors the god (likely should be lower case “g”) of forces (maoz).

Many see maoz as representing God as a “fortress” (II Samuel 22:33, Isaiah 17:10, Jeremiah 16:19, Joel 4:16, Proverbs 10:29). But contextually that doesn’t fit. Maoz can also mean a “safe place,” such as a mountain (Judges 6:26), harbor (Isaiah 23:4), cities (Isaiah 17:9) or even the temple (Ezekiel 24:25). There is another meaning that ties to a later verse. Maoz can figuratively mean human protection by a temporal power, especially a civil/national power (Isaiah 30:2). Could the antichrist rely on a civil power of another nation(s) to see its purposes advanced? This eschatological king will deal with “temporal threats” – with the help of ‘a foreign god!’ (11:39). Note these observations:

“The spirit of persecution manifested by paganism and the papacy is again to be revealed. Prophecy declares that this power will say ‘to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast.’ [Rev. 13:14.] The image is made to the first or leopard-like beast, which is the one brought to view in the third angel's message. By this first beast is represented the Roman Church, an ecclesiastical body clothed with civil power, having authority to punish all dissenters. The image to the beast represents another religious body clothed with similar power. The formation of this image is the work of that beast whose peaceful rise and mild professions render it so striking a symbol of the United States.”[17] (The land or earth beast of Revelation 13:11-17).

“The civil power is called to the aid of the Church in persecuting those who keep holy the seventh day. The Church and the world are united in trampling upon God's commandments, and those who obey these commandments they threaten with death. John declares, ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ The decree goes forth that no man shall be allowed to buy or sell save he that has the mark or the number of the Beast.”[18]

“The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and in this work, papists and Protestants unite.” [19],[20],[21]

Conversely, “In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.”[22]

Notice what is introduced later, in verse 40: “and the king of the north shall come against him [the king of the south] like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships.” That is military language. The antichrist will use some civil power – the military might – of another nation(s), especially the United States in the waning years of its global power.

This is what the late Pope John Paul II appealed to regarding Sunday observance:

“Therefore, also in the particular circumstances of our own time, Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy.” [23]

In an encyclical called Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) (June 29, 2009), Pope Benedict XVI called on world leaders to rethink the status of the global economy. He believes capitalism is effectively obsolete. A world economy, driven by morally neutral concepts, would be for the common good of all. This, too, was a step into the world geopolitical stage, appealing to civil power to bond with Rome’s ideology.

The endgame reveals the antichrist depending on military might to deal with the king of the south (vss 40-41), and civil power to deal with those resisting the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:15-17). The text beautifully fits what just lies ahead in the “time of the end.... instead of relying on God and His Word as a fortress to protect him … he will rely upon temporal power.”[24]

and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things” (vs 38)

The word “god” is here difficult to fully define. Contextually, it suggests a different “god” than the “god of forces,” previously mentioned. It appears to mean its power and ability to control and influence secular nations is achieved through valuable gifts.

This “honour” given to that “god” of “power” comes apparently with tangible gifts, which appear to be deceptive mechanisms bordering on bribery. It suggests that a religious leader – called a “king” – has the “services” of power (his god) from civil authorities in a coalition that prospers as the result of these gifts. The “religious” aims of this antichrist are coercive – just as was seen during the Dark Ages – they will, once again, become violent. It has power and wealth that enamors the world.

We have additional clues in Revelation that allude to this type of geopolitical might:

  1. A symbolic tie is illustrated by a beast (papal kingdom) and ten horns (ten world divisions – already divided by the UN and the Club of Rome). They work together by resisting God/Christ (the God of their fathers).

“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (Revelation 18:7).

“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:12-14).

  1. An earth beast (suggested elsewhere to be the United States) is forcing earth’s inhabitants to worship the sea beast (papal kingdom power).

“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:12).

The picture means that the earth and its major powers sympathize with the leadership of the Roman antichrist; and, in turn, the world works on her behalf – all functioning in opposition to God.

What does the “king” or beast do for the world? There appears to be a false hope at a time of global despair. Additionally, this is what the record says: “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:2).

The setting shows that “fornication” is false or a deceptive belief. By the tight bond of the world’s nations with Rome, revealed in these prophecies, there is a “religious” coalition based on some doctrine, creating a false hope at a unique time of need. That universal bond is so strong that the power of at least one nation (the earth beast), the Bible says, will kill all those who don’t identify with the “image” or sign of loyalty to the papacy (Revelation 13:15) and its singular doctrinal “mark.”

 “It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity [a false assumption and hope].” [25]

“Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain” (Daniel 11:39).

Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god,” (vs 39)

Again – this eschatological, religious king fails to rely on God, but relies on temporal powers. That might or authority is his “fortress” (his god); his strongholds, his alliances. In this light, this “king” is a geopolitical power. John notes: “And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Revelation 13:7) (noted previously).

“The United States is the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns, and … this prophecy will be fulfilled when the United States shall enforce Sunday observance, which Rome claims as the special acknowledgment of her supremacy. But in this homage to the papacy the United States will not be alone. The influence of Rome in the countries that once acknowledged her dominion is still far from being destroyed. And prophecy foretells a restoration of her power.” [26]

“Romanism as a system is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period in her history. The Protestant churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. The Roman Church is far-reaching in her plans and modes of operation. She is employing every device to extend her influence and increase her power in preparation for a fierce and determined conflict to regain control of the world, to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done. Catholicism is gaining ground upon every side.… These things should awaken the anxiety of all who prize the pure principles of the gospel.”[27]

“The peoples of the world will be so impressed by his might that they will say: ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who can make war against him?’ (Rev. 13:4).”[28]

whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory:” (vs 39)

The powers – ten horns on the beast (Revelation 13, 17) – are said to “have one mind and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Revelation 17:13). In turn, the beast, this king, acknowledges them before the world and increases their honor. His “god” is the power he receives from them. Now he reciprocates with fiendish gratitude. Why?

A satanic bond is in view, where each power gives glory to the other. John also notes that “the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). Combining all these verses:

and he shall cause them to rule over many,” (vs 39)

The imagery is stunning. “He” – the king – the papacy – apparently will now have unlimited power to designate who rules over these ten divisions of the world (the ten horns on the beast). The decision of who rules will be related to the support and power they arranged for him to have (with Satan’s direct intervention). Then – an issue that can only captivate our imagination:

This refers to the world already provisionally divided by the United Nations into ten divisions or special regions. The evidence suggests that these powers/kings receive their geopolitical divisions to govern or rule by what the papacy decrees – over people (“many”) and boundaries (“land”). Commensurate with this, the Club of Rome has made the recommendation seen on the map to the right – ten divisions, just like the ten horns on the antichrist beast.

In Revelation it is first noted that these horns/ powers/kings “have received no kingdom as yet” (Revelation 17:12). Then they (the horns) appear with crowns (Revelation 13:1). In both instances, they are horns on the beast. Between Revelation 17 and 13, the Daniel 11:39 prophecy is fulfilled!

Franklin S. Fowler, Jr., M.D.
Prophecy Research Initiative – non-profit 501(c)3 © 2023
EndTime Issues…, Number 269, April 12, 2023


  [1] Tanner, J. Paul; Daniel, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Lexham Academic), p. 689.

[2] E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 250-51; Robert Dick Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972) 266; H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1949) 510; and John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago: Moody, 1971) 271 – as quoted by George M Harton, Grace Theological Journal, 4.2 (1983), p. 210.

[3] Steinmann, Andrew E.; Daniel (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis), pp. 538-539.

[4] Tanner, op. cit., p. 697.

[5] Steinmann, op. cit., p. 540.

[6] Goldingay, John E.; Daniel – Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 30 (Word Books, Publisher – Dallas, TX), p. 304.

[7] Steinmann, op. cit., p. 540.

 [8] Tanner, op. cit., p. 690.

  [9] Ibid.

[10] Tanner, op. cit., pp. 697-698.

[11] Miller, Stephen R.; The New American Commentary, vol. 18 (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), p. 305.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Miller, op. cit., p. 307.

[14] Tanner, op. cit., p. 699.

[15] Steinmann, op. cit., p. 542.

[16] Cardinal J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, p. 359.

[17] White, Ellen G.; The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 277-278 (emphasis added).

[18] White, Ellen G.; The Review and Herald, July 16, 1901 (emphasis added).

[19] White, Ellen G.; The Review and Herald, July 16, 1901 (emphasis added).

[20] White, Ellen G.; Maranatha, p. 169 (emphasis added).

[21] White, Ellen G.; The Faith I Live By, p. 330 (emphasis added).

[22] White, Ellen G.; Maranatha, p. 169 (emphasis added).

[23] Pope John Paul II, Dies Domini, Section 67, May 31, 1998.

[24] Steinmann, op. cit., p. 543.

[25] White, Ellen G.; The Great Controversy,  p. 590.

[26] White, Ellen G.; The Faith I Live By, p. 329 (emphasis added).

[27] White, Ellen G.; The Great Controversy, p. 565 (emphasis added); cf. Steinmann, op. cit., pp. 547-555.

[28] Miller, Stephen R.; The New American Commentary, vol. 18 (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), p. 308.