The Mighty Angels of Daniel 11: Alexander the Great
By Nathan Jones
Alexander the Great
Nathan Jones: We’re working our way through the amazingly detailed prophecies found in Daniel 11. God’s mighty messenger angel shares with Daniel the battles future empires will engage in over the Intertestamental centuries leading up to Jesus’ First Coming.
Daniel 11:2 foretold that the Medo-Persian King Xerxes would stir up a hornets nest of trouble by attacking the Greeks. Daniel 11:3-4 describes how decades later the Greeks would strike back.
“Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted, even for others besides these.”
This mighty king who will arise and do whatever he wants was none other than Alexander the Great. From from 336 to 323 B.C., Alexander blitzkrieged his way from his home in Greece’s Macedonia all the way across the Middle East to as far as India. At that time, those lands contained all the known world, so he didn’t campaign any further. Alexander turned back around and went into Persia and then Israel and Egypt, effectively destroying the Medo-Persian Empire. Alexander achieved an entire lifetime’s worth of victories in just a few short years, earning his title “the Great.”
Alexander may have established through war the Greek Empire as the dominant empire in the Middle East, but he didn’t live very long. The unstoppable young ruler was finished by a mere mosquito bite, which gave him malaria. Alexander died of his malaria in Babylon (now Iraq), on June 13, 323 B.C. at a mere 32 years old. Possibly Alexander also suffered from a venereal disease, as historians are not positive, that contributed to his death.
As Daniel’s prophecy foretold, the mighty king would have no posterity, and Alexander left no no royal son. He did have a retarded half-brother, and he had sired an illegitimate son, as well as a son born posthumously, but those children were murdered, leaving no descendant for Alexander the Great to pass his new empire.
Alexander’s empire was indeed uprooted from him and divided among four of his generals, exactly as prophesied. Cassander took control over Macedonia. Lysimachus reigned over Asia Minor. Ptolemy took over Egypt. Seleucus dominated Syria. Of these four, the lines of Ptolemy and Seleucus become the most poignant, because the passages in Daniel 11 that we read going forward pretty much concerns these two generals’ descendants as they battled back and forth for more power and control. The land of Israel was caught in the middle of this ongoing Greek civil war for nearly two centuries!
Vic Batista: How amazing that Greek history played out exactly as Daniel 11 foretold! I once read of a historian who suggested that the reason Alexander the Great was able to conquer so much territory so quickly is because of the development of iron yielded different advancements in weaponry. Alexander arrived on the scene at an opportune time which allowed his armies to speedily conquer the known world.
The Great Unifier
Nathan Jones: The true accomplishment of the Greek Empire was that Alexander had established a universal culture called Hellenism and the empire-wise language of the Greeks. As Hellenism and a common Greek language spread throughout the Middle East, it provided unification through a common culture which united all of its conquered peoples. No past empire united its conquered lands as well as the Greek Empire had accomplished through Hellenism.
Not everybody was thrilled with Hellenism, though. Greek culture pained the morality of the Jewish people, provoking all sorts of cultural clashes. The clashes came to a head especially during the Maccabean era. One can read about the battles that ensued in the extra-biblical intertestamental books of the I and II Maccabees. This priestly family reacting very violently against the ongoing Hellenism forced on the Jewish people. Hellenism turned many of the Jewish people away from their historic national identity, their Jewish culture, and their religious belief in Yahweh God. Some Greeks demanded that the Jews worship all the polytheistic litany of gods and live as immorally as the Greek people did. Hellenistic culture may have united the empire and its philosophies set the foundation for Western civilization, but remained morally bankrupt.
The Jewish people have never been known to live well under foreign occupation. Some two hundred years after Alexander had died, the Jews would call on the Romans to aid them in their rebellion against the Greeks. The burgeoning Roman Empire was anxious to aid the Jews, but they behaved as any warrior nation always does once aid was requested — they never left.
Vic Batista: The Greek time period reminds me somewhat of the time period we are living in now. Hellenism united an empire, but today we are united globally through technology. At this point in history the world can access a common culture that has developed through technologies such as the Internet. Technology could also easily destroy the world if wielded maliciously. Back in the Greek time period, developments advanced swiftly and life was changing fast, just as it has been progressing today.
Nathan Jones: Study why Jesus came on the scene when He did, and you’ll be surprised. What the Greek Empire did for uniting the Middle East and Europe culturally, the Roman Empire later laid the roads and infrastructure which made it easy to travel anywhere across the Roman Empire. Once divided lands were now united by a common Hellenistic culture, the Greek language, and the Roman roads. This combination provided the perfect conditions for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread all over the known world.
Before these two empires united the Mediterranean, the Gospel could not have spread very well. Israel was isolated from most of the lands. Few good roads were available, so travel was difficult. Culture, language and roads had finally united the lands just as Jesus arrived. Once the Roman Empire based on Greek culture became the norm, the situation created the perfect set of conditions for the Gospel to spread. You have to give it to God. He knew the exact time period in history when the Gospel would really take off to substantially spread with few obstacles.
Vic Batista: Today the Internet reigns as the superhighway that unifies world culture. While the Internet can be used for bad, it can also reach many people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Nathan Jones: Wonderful point! We really do live in a time period that parallels aspects of the Greek and Roman Empires. I’m not talking about the European Union here. I’m talking about our communication opportunities through the Internet and over satellite and cable television. Today’s communications technologies grant the world a common culture that continues to spread throughout the world. Unfortunately, that culture reflects Hollywood’s culture, which is as Hellenistic as it comes.
But, communication-wise, we can now talk to people all over the world and share the Gospel with them. There are translation apps, such as Google Translate and others, which help Christians get the Gospel message out around the world. We do indeed live in an amazing time period which allows the Gospel to spread significantly. We live in a time similar to Jesus’ time period, when communications can spread a message like wildfire across the planet.
Vic Batista: Because all of these different communications technologies quickly spread the Gospel across the globe, we must then be living in a time period where the Lord desires people to come to Him as quickly as possible before their time runs out. Time’s over when Jesus returns.
Nathan Jones: I agree. The Lord wants us using every opportunity at our disposal to share the Gospel. What an exciting time to be sharing the Gospel!
In the fiftieth segment of this series on the mighty angels of Daniel, we will be introduced to some of the most amazingly specific and later historically fulfilled prophecies in all of the Bible!