Message title: Peace Shall Destroy Many, Daniel 8:23-25
Broadcast date: September 17, 2023 (No. 4211)
Radio pastor: Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma, pastor of Pittsburgh PRC
Dear radio friends,
We are studying together God’s Word concerning the Antichrist. We have already examined the biblical evidence that leads us to believe that at the end of time a great world-power will develop and will rule over all the world. We have already also examined the biblical evidence as regards the religion of the antichristian kingdom. We learned of the man of sin, the son of perdition, the wicked one, the false prophet—all biblical names that refer to the Antichrist himself. The Antichrist will be the religious head of the antichristian world-power. He will arise out of the Christianized West and make the claim that he is the true representative of Christianity. But his brand of Christianity will be false Christianity—Christianity that has made to itself an idol god and a false Christ.
In our broadcast today, we are going to consider how the antichristian world-power will be so successful in persuading the world to unite, or the methods he will use to unite everyone. This is what Daniel saw in his vision of chapter 8:23-25. We read:
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
These verses that we consider are part of a vision that Daniel saw while in the palace of Shushan during the third year of the reign of Belshazzar, the last king of the Babylonian empire. In the earlier verses of this chapter Daniel records for us his vision of the great goat out of which came a little horn that waxed exceedingly great. The verses we consider today are an explanation of the meaning of that vision—an explanation given Daniel by the angel Gabriel in the vision itself.
It is not our intention, however, to explain the details of the symbolism of the goat with the horns growing from his head. Suffice it to say that this goat refers to the Grecian empire. The horn that waxed exceedingly great is one of the latter kings of this empire, a king named Antiochus Epiphanes. The verses we consider explain what Antiochus Epiphanes did. We are not interested, however, in what he did personally. What we are interested in is the fact that Antiochus Epiphanes was an Old Testament type, a picture, that points to the specific means the Antichrist will use to establish his kingdom at the end of time.
Concerning the Antichrist, Daniel prophesies here in Daniel 8:23 and 24a: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty.” At the end of time, when the transgressors of this world have come to full power, a man of powerful influence will arise. He is described here in these verses as a man of “fierce countenance.” Literally, we read that he will be strong of face. What is meant by this is that the head of the antichristian world-power will be a man of extreme confidence and will power. In verse 25 we read that “he shall magnify himself in his heart.” He will be convinced that he and his kingdom will have the answers to this world’s problems. He will boldly stand before all the world and exude a certain conviction. He will attract people by means of his enthusiasm and charisma to trust him and rely on him.
And more, we read, he will understand dark sentences. Literally, we would read that this head of the world will be skilled in subtlety. He will have an understanding of how to use subtlety to gain what he desires. This means, first of all, that this political figure will be perceptive. He will understand what causes offense on the one hand and what satisfies people on the other.
To be subtle means, secondly, that he will be able to be elusive and perhaps even obscure in delicate situations. He will be a true politician! He will have a deep understanding of what makes our world and the various peoples of this world tick. And he will be skilled at stroking their egos in order to get his way.
As a result, his power, we are told in verse 24, shall be mighty. This is not a redundancy in words. This phrase simply informs us that his power will be firm, it will be stable. The Hebrew term here refers to an old tree that is well-rooted in the ground and stands firm against wind and weather. The kingdom that shall arise in the latter times shall be as a tree. It shall stand firm and unshaken. It will stand against all the criticism and propaganda leveled against it. We are told a little later, in verse 24, that it shall prosper in practice, that is, accomplish its goals.
This kingdom will be one of great prosperity and ability. It is striking that, even here, we learn what the Bible teaches us everywhere. We read at the beginning of verse 24, “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” The power of the kingdom of the Antichrist will not be its own power. It is the power of Satan himself that stands behind this kingdom, making it as powerful as it is. This is in keeping with II Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 12 and 13.
As a result of all this in the antichristian kingdom will be peace. That is what we learn in verse 25: peace. Ah, yes. Wonderful peace. Who does not want peace in the earth? It is the desire of almost every citizen of our country. How we can gain such peace is an issue that is debated. But we all would love peace. Well, by means of his power and by means of his subtlety, the antichristian kingdom will accomplish exactly that: worldwide peace.
Actually, the specific type of peace that is spoken of here in this passage is that of ease, prosperity, and security. This world will enjoy earthly prosperity under the rule of the Antichrist. The world will feel secure, that is, protected from war, natural catastrophes, and disease. All of this will make the kingdom of Antichrist a very, very pleasant place to live. Who does not want these things to happen? All the world would love all of this. Even we could enjoy it all.
The problem is that true Christianity will not fit into the scheme of things in this kingdom. The proper worship of the true God and of the true Savior Jesus Christ will be outlawed. True Christianity will be labeled as “radical” Christianity.
The question remains, however, what is it that accomplishes this peace of our text? Consider the signs of Christ’s second coming. Natural disasters have always characterized our world. The antichristian kingdom will make the promise to all peoples and lands of this world that it has the ability to overcome such disasters. It will boast in its technological ability to prevent many of these disasters from taking place. And, if some do take place, one can rest secure in the fact that, because he belongs to the worldwide kingdom of man, aid and assistance will be there in a moment’s time.
What about wars? Who dares to make war with the Beast? All war will cease to exist, since all nations will be under the rule of the great world power. If a nation threatens to make war with the Beast, that nation will be quickly beaten into submission. What about racial and cultural divisions? There will be laws, and the power to enforce such laws, against such divisions and strife. Religious division? All those who do not conform to the laws governing all religion will also be outlawed. Disease and sickness? There will be scores of researchers and doctors and health-care individuals that will aid and assist in overcoming disease or, at least, be able to treat it. And this health care will be available for all the world.
In other words, everything that has caused division and strife in the past, that has kept this world from uniting, will be overcome. The world will be at peace. It will have prosperity, ease, and security. All the signs that indicate the return of Christ God will use, first of all, to give rise to the antichristian world-power.
This passage in Daniel tells us more concerning the antichristian kingdom, of course. Yes, the Antichrist himself will be a man skilled in subtlety. Yes, he will know how to conduct himself in touchy situations. He will be forceful as well as shrewd in his diplomacy. But verse 25 explains this whole matter further. In this verse we learn of the means by which the antichristian kingdom will be able to influence and persuade the world to follow him for the desired peace. We are told in the King James Version of the Bible, “Through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand.” Now, this is archaic language and hard for us to understand. To put this language in simple terms, we would read: “Through prudence, he shall cause deception to prosper.” Under the rule of Antichrist, deceit will prosper. The politics of this kingdom will prosper, will flourish, by means of the Antichrist’s deceitfulness.
Now, that is not such a strange thing anymore in politics today. What we, the people, see on the outside is not always what is going on in the inside of government. Politics today has become corrupt. Government officials boast of how “Christian” they are in their lives. Yet, in their decisions affecting our nation, they use deceit and intrigue to ban Christianity in public life, while promoting the false religions of the world. The antichristian world-power will persuade the people of this world to follow after him, because he will be good at deception. He will be prudent, skilled, cunning, in causing deception to prosper.
Prudent. Now, that is a fitting word to describe the diplomacy of the Antichrist. Here is our own dictionary definition of that word: “1. Shrewdness in the management of affairs. 2. Skilled in the use of resources. 3. Cautious as to danger or risk.” The Antichrist will be shrewd. He will know how to manipulate the system and the people. He will be skilled, using the resources, both political and religious, that are at his fingertips. He will know when to exercise caution, when there is danger or risk of being exposed. This government will be an efficient one. That is for sure. A skilled one.
We already see how government today is manipulating peoples and nations and religions. How pious it sounds to say that Christianity and Islam and Buddhism and Confucianism all are seeking the same thing. They all have one basic tenet to their religions—love the brother, do good unto others as you would have them do to you. All people, all nations, all religions can share in that goal, right? Help the downtrodden, feed the hungry, care for the poor, comfort those who mourn, bind up the brokenhearted. That is the essence of all religion. That is the desire of those even who have no religion. Cannot we all get along? Ought there not be a brotherhood of all men? It sounds pious. It sounds good. It is “prudent” language. But it is filled with deception.
Because, you see, all of this goodwill toward man will not be in service to the true God of heaven and earth. It is in service to man. It has nothing to do with the kingdom of heaven. It involves only a kingdom of man here on earth. It says nothing of the horrible sin of the human race that has alienated us from God. It says nothing of the only way of deliverance from sin through the cross of Jesus Christ alone. The antichristian goal is an earthly goal.
And here is the deceit of it all. This brotherhood of men must exist under the rule and the dictates of the antichristian world-power. Defy the Beast, and you are not a part of the brotherhood of men. Do not do what he tells you to do, and you are a hate-monger and an outcast of society.
This is where the other means the Antichrist will use to advance his kingdom in this world comes in. Destruction. He shall destroy wonderfully, we are told in verse 24 of the passage we consider. By means of peace, or in the name of peace, he shall destroy many. That is what we are told in verse 25. For the sake of peace, this nation must be destroyed. For the sake of peace, that people must be destroyed. In the name of peace, the antichristian world-power will destroy many in this world.
But he will destroy wonderfully. This means that, in some way, the Antichrist is going to show an awesome way of destroying. It does not mean, of course, that in some way the Antichrist is going to make his destruction wonderful to those who go through it, or even wonderful for those who witness it. It simply refers to the fact that the means he uses to destroy will evoke wonder or amazement in those who experience or witness it. They will stand in awe at the power of the Antichrist. They will fear the kingdom that rules over them. They will be afraid to stand at odds with that kingdom.
This does not mean that the antichristian kingdom is going to be barbaric. It will not appear that the head of such a kingdom is cruel and unreasonable. By means of deception he will convince the citizens of his empire that those whom he punishes and destroys deserve such treatment. They asked for it. His diplomacy, remember, will be steeped in deceit. He will be good at it.
Under this rule of the Antichrist, the tribulation of the true church of Jesus Christ will take place. We read of it here in our text: verse 24, at the very end: “And shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” The term here for “mighty” is the same word used at the beginning of this verse. It means “firm.” There will be those in the kingdom of Antichrist who will stand firm in their faith, despite the ridicule, despite the contempt, of the rest of the Christian church. They will not compromise the truths of the Scripture that the Antichrist has cast down to the ground. They will stand firm in their faith and in their seeking a heavenly kingdom of Christ. These are the holy men, those truly sanctified in the blood of Jesus Christ, those who are yet dedicated to the cause of the God and the Christ of the Scriptures.
We are told in verse 25 of this passage that the kingdom of Antichrist will “stand up against the Prince of princes.” It will stand up against Jesus Christ Himself. It will defy the Prince of God, who sits at His right hand in the heavens. And it will declare its own christ, who is not a prince, but who is, in fact, a servant to man’s will. The mighty and holy people who follow the great Prince of heaven and earth must needs perish. They need to be squelched. They need to be destroyed. We will consider that more in our next broadcast. Through the prudence of deceit, the antichristian kingdom will declare peace when it is in fact a kingdom of destruction.
Jesus tells us that all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword. The kingdom of Antichrist is a kingdom of man. Its number is 666. That means that this kingdom will never reach its fullness. It cannot. It is a kingdom of sin. And sin will not prosper for long. This is why we are told, concerning the antichristian kingdom in the last part of verse 25, “But he shall be broken without hand.”
When Christ comes again, He will destroy this kingdom. We are told in II Thessalonians 2:8 that the Antichrist will be consumed with the Spirit of Christ’s mouth and destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s second coming. The destruction of this kingdom of man, therefore, will be a divine destruction, a destruction without human hand. God’s hand will destroy that kingdom.
Just as in the days of Noah, unbelieving man will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. He will be carrying on business as usual. And God will come with sudden destruction.
These last days are on us. Who is on the Lord’s side? Stand firm and do not fear. God’s is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.
Let us pray.
We are thankful unto Thee, Father in heaven, that Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Thou dost reign in the heavens. And Thou dost cause that all events that take place in this world take place in order that Jesus Christ might come again at the end of time. Father, wilt Thou bless us and keep us and preserve us in Thy word that we might look for that coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. Wilt Thou grant to us strength to stand in these last days. For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.
Rev. Wilbur G. Bruinsma (Wife: Mary)
Ordained: October 1978
Pastorates: Faith, Jenison, MI - 1978; Missionary to Jamaica - 1984; First, Holland, MI - 1989; Kalamazoo, MI - 1996; Eastern Home Missionary - 2006; Pittsburgh PRC - 2016.Website: www.prcpittsburgh.org/
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