The Bold-faced, Lying Tyrant
On the pages of World History we would find his name only in a footnote. Rising to power in the eastern remnant of Alexander’s Empire, the Syrian or Seleucid branch, his reign lasted only from 175 BC to 163 BC. And when Antiochus IV tried to seize control over the bread basket of what would become the Roman Empire, Popilius Laennas, a Roman general, drew a circle around him and said, “Submit before you step out of the circle or die!” He stepped out, bowed to Roman power, but poured out his fury on the Jews when he retreated north.
In Jerusalem he outlawed circumcision, burned copies of the Jewish Scriptures, and murdered more than 80,000 of those who tried to remain obedient to the Mosaic Law. He stopped the daily sacrifices, set up a statue of the Greek god, Zeus, in the Holy of Holies, and seemed invincible.
It’s this defiance of God, His Word, and his attack against God’s people that caused this small time tyrant, to get big time coverage in Daniel’s prophetic revelations. He called himself “Epiphanes, god manifest,” and he is the antichrist of the Old Testament.
We need to carefully study his character traits and actions because God still brings down leaders who manifest these traits and actions. We also need to study Antiochus because Daniel tells us that another antichrist is coming in the future. He will rise out of the final expression of the Roman Empire and will be empowered by Satan shaking his fist against God’s sovereign rule one final time.
“Near the end of the reign of the four kingdoms that arose when the Greek Empire of Alexander was divided, in a time when rebellion among God’s people has - increased, a king will arise. His face will be hard, and he will be a master of intrigue. He will grow in power, but not by his own innate strength. He will cause appalling ruin and achieve success. He will be effective in destroying strong opponents, even the people of the Holy One.
Based on his growing power and the success achieved by his own hand, he will cause lying to become the way things are done. Being full of himself, he will declare how great he is, and while many of his subjects are enjoying peace, he will annihilate them. He will even take his stand against the Prince of princes. But he will be destroyed, but not by human hand.”Daniel 8:23-25
First Maccabees describes how the Jewish people early in the second century began to be seduced by Greek culture, power, and idolatry. Using bribery, flattery, and lies, Antiochus took the position that rightfully belonged to the son of his older brother. He did plunder the Temple in Jerusalem and murdered more than 80,000. But in a little more than three years after he desecrated God’s Temple, Judas Maccabees rededicated the Temple, and about a year later, Antiochus died of a horrible illness after trying to plunder another temple to the east.
LORD, you mean it when you decree that someone will be cut off. Again, today protect me from having the hard, uncaring face of pride. Protect me from ever using lies, bribes, or manipulation to get my way. Help me realize that this way is never the way of Jesus, the Prince of princes.
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