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Antiochus the Great was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV Philopator. He was required to send out a tax collector because when his dad was defeated by Rome it brought on a required Roman tax. Syria had to now pay taxes to Rome, that means Israel, the Jews would also be required to pay taxes to Rome. Do you see how things begin to creep into the government? During this time he sent out his military men to go to the Jewish temple to plunder its treasures. Again the Bible is true with every detail, Seleucus was later killed by assassination orchestrated by his finance minister.
Philopater will be followed by a vile person who will invade the kingdom when its people feel the most secure. Why does it have to be when the people feel most secure? The next ruler is…
Vs. 21 Antiochus Epiphanes became the next king to sit on the Seleucid throne. How would you like to be the one the Bible describes as a vile, contemptible, rotten, evil person? He had no claim to the throne, he was not an heir. The rightful heir was Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, he was too young to take control so in the meantime Epiphanes decided he should be the one to rule. He obtained the crown through flattery and bribery, he was an intriguing man who for some reason could get people to trust him.
Epiphanes would set his sights on a prosperous territory, he would go in peaceably, wanting to be friends, claiming that with him everything would be unicorns and rainbows, gaining acceptance and support. Just when the people least expected it, he would turn on them. “Invading the kingdom when its people feel secure”.
(Vs. 22) He flooded Egypt and left the province devastated. The last part of 22 mentions “a prince of the covenant will be destroyed”. This speaks about a Jewish man, the high priest to be exact. According to the Maccabees Epiphanes removed the Jewish high priest and replaced him with a very Greek man named Jason. Epiphanes then broke that promise and gave the position to one of his own followers. Completely corrupting the Jewish temple of the Lord.
Verses 23-24, with his sights set on the richest provinces, Epiphanes continues to befriend and conquer so much that he accumulated more than his father or forefathers ever could. The richest provinces are the Holy Land and Egypt. We know the Holy Land is the cream of the crop, he would conquer and utterly destroy Jerusalem. Once conquered he took the spoils and shared them with his supporters. He gave them a reward of sorts for doing his dirty work. Take from the rich and give to the poor so they are forced to remain loyal. To go against this “mad man” would be insane especially when he takes care of your needs and wants.
You all see how it is when the government is your source of support you become dependent on it for survival and then it dictates what you do and who you are.
Verse 25-26, Epiphanes of the North will once again stir up a war with Ptolemy of the South (Egypt). Egypt fights back with a large army, however loses. Just as written in 26, Ptolemy’s Egyptian counselors are corrupt and purposely give him faulty advice, knowing it would lead to a loss. The very men who sit at the Egyptian kings table, sharing a meal with him were corrupt and caused Egypt to lose this war.
Verse 27, Ptolemy was under custody of Epiphanes for a while, they had meals together but they were both bent on evil and filled their conversations with lies.
Verse 28, Now that Egypt was conquered and all their riches were confiscated, Epiphanes headed North, back to his own provinces with his heart set on the Holy Land, the other wealthy province. He heads to the Jewish temple stealing gold and silver, and massacres many Jews all in an attempt to break the covenant between God and his people and the land that was given to them.
Verses 29-30 While his followers are tormenting the holy people and ravaging the temple, Epiphanes is plotting his next wave of vengeance on Egypt and at the appointed time he invades it again. The problem this time is Egypt is ready for them. Egypt created an alliance with Rome where they had their Roman Navy send ships who demanded Syria leave, and they did.
This time Epiphanes, aka “little horn-antichrist” shows favor to the apostate Jews. He butters them up, working to gain their support. (Vs. 31-32) Then he turns them on their own people to unleash this “mini” tribulation. He storms into Jerusalem killing over 40,000 Jews. He forbade the practice of circumcision, feasts, sabbaths and sacrifices. Forced the Jews to watch naked olympic games. Smeared pigs blood all over the altar and temple. Also, turned the Lord’s temple into a pagan place of worship of the Greek gods Jupiter and Olympus, this is an abomination and leaves Jerusalem desolate for a while.
Verses 32-34 is talking about the Maccabean revolution. The Maccabees were a wise godly Jewish family who started a four year resistance movement against Epiphanies and his troops. This revolt drove the pagans out of Jerusalem; out of Israel and the temple was then cleansed and restored in December 164 B.C.
“Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.” In this one verse God gives us the whole purpose of his plan. The reason for why this is happening. So that we might be refined, purified and made spotless. Nestled in the midst of all this sadness, all this destruction is the hope we are given in Jesus Christ, that we may be refined, purified and made spotless. This is God’s desire for the Jews and it’s his desire for us. He wants us to have a solid foundation in Him, he wants us to be loyal to Him.
The hard, sad truth is it takes sadness to turn to God. When we are faced with our own demise it is then we choose to look up to see God. When you are reminded of death, then you are reminded of how short life really is and how you will be judged. This is the case with the Israelites too, even though they are God’s chosen people they have lost sight of who God is for them. These periods of judgement are meant to spiritually purify them.