Destroying The Beautiful Land
Though the wild fires seek to destroy some of the most beautiful parts of California with its glorious mix of mountain and sea, millions still are willing to take the risk of living on the west coast fault line because of the beauty. So what happens if we ask God, our Creator, “Which land do you call beautiful?”
Just check out the land he promised to give to Abraham and his descendants. And when Moses sent the twelve spies to explore Canaan, they returned with grape clusters heavy enough to carry on poles on their shoulders. And in Daniel’s time, the prophet Ezekiel reminded his exiled people that God had promised to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands (Ezekiel 20:6). And like California, Israel has the sea on the west, beautiful forests and mountains in the north, and dry desert in the south.
In his vision of the wars between Persia and Greece and the division of Alexander the Great’s Empire, Daniel told us then about a ruler who would rise up against the “beautiful land” (Daniel 8:9). In our section today he begins to set the stage for the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem by predicting how Antiochus Epiphanes’ father would conquer the Egyptians and take firm control of Israel.
“The invader, the King of the North, will come and do as he pleases and no one will be able to stand before him. He will stand in the Beautiful Land and have in his hand the power to destroy it. He will set his face to come with all the power of his kingdom and will seek to smooth things over with the King of the South, giving him a daughter in marriage. His true intent will be to gain control over Egypt, but he will not achieve this end. Then he will turn his attention to the western coastlands and take control of many of them. But a commander will put an end to his insolence and turn his overstep in the west against him. After being blocked in the coastlands, he will return to the fortresses of his own country, but will stumble and fall, and will be found no more.”
Antiochus III is called the great because he did break the power of the Ptolemies over Israel and Lebanon. As Daniel predicted he had control over Jerusalem to do with it as he pleased. In 198 BC he entered the city and many looked upon him as a deliverer because they resented the Egyptian control. Little did they realize that in 23 years this ruler’s son would bring one of the worst periods in Jewish history.
Antiochus III did give Cleopatra to Ptolemy V, the Egyptian ruler, as a wife. His purpose was for them to have a son who would become the heir to the throne and Antiochus would then be in control of both the Seleucid and Ptolemaic lands. Instead Cleopatra fell in love with her husband and turned against her father.
Her father turned his attention to the “coastlands,” the islands of the Mediterranean and the coast of what is today Turkey. The Roman government wasn’t about to put up with this venture towards Italy. They sent Lucius Cornelius Scipio against Antiochus and the Romans routed the Syrians at Thermopylae. They pursued Antiochus and defeated his much larger army at Symrna in 190 BC. The fourth iron empire, more powerful than all the rest, had begun to raise its head. Back in Syria, Antiochus III was killed by an angry mob in 187 BC.
LORD, again you bring down the insolent, arrogant ruler who falsely believes he can do whatever he wants. Also help me to be strengthened today as I see how you controlled the flow of history in the past. So I can trust you with the future.
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