27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.
29 “At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
In the four verses above, the heart (or hearts) is mentioned three times:
- their hearts bent on evil
- his heart will be set against the holy covenant
- he will lose heart.
Just as interesting the holy covenant is mentioned three times:
- his heart will be set against the holy covenant;
- [he will] vent his fury against the holy covenant; and
- He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
When Daniel prophesied these events he did not have the names for these kings. Today we do and they were Antiochus and Ptolemy. Ptolemy became the king of Egypt at the age of six and ruled jointly with his mother Cleopatra. Antiochus was the was a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire – a major part of the empire established by Alexander the Great. They pretended to be friends often eating at the same table in Memphis Egypt. Antiochus had plans to take Egypt and make it part of his kingdom. Ptolemy thwarted those plans when the false friendship ended and they warred with each other.
With this as background we can understand how they deceived each other while pretending to be friends with hearts bent on evil for the other. When Antiochus won a great battle in Egypt a rumor was spread he had died. A rebellion ensued where Jerusalem was taken over as part of the rebellion. Antiochus believed all of those in Judah and Israel had revolted. As a result he
went up with a great army against Jerusalem. He besieged and took the city by force of arms, slew 40,000 of the inhabitants, and sold as many more for slaves, polluted the temple and altar with swines’ flesh, profaned the holy of holies by breaking into it, took away the golden vessels, and other sacred treasures, to the value of eighteen hundred talents. Benson Commentary
So now we know how his heart became set against those of the holy covenant and the horrific action he took against Jerusalem as a result. However, the next time he invaded Egypt he lost, the outcome was different, and he lost heart. He was furious against the holy covenant or the law of God. Later he returned to invade once again with those Israelites who were in rebellion against God’s holy covenant as his allies.
These prophecies are incredible and the details are backed up by many other sources. Daniel became the source that placed all the others in perspective. Why is this important?
The prophecy is really more perfect than any history. No one historian hath related so many circumstances, and in such exact order of time, as the prophet hath foretold them; so that it has been necessary to have recourse to several authors, Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian; and to collect something from one, and something from another, for the better explaining and illustrating the great variety of particulars contained in this prophecy.
There remains one clear message from this: God remains in charge and can foretell any and all events or as Jesus said, It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority in reply to His disciples questions. God gave Daniel great knowledge of future events. He does the same for us with the Bible.