Daniel is a challenging text for the purposes of building a chronology of the end times, because it is not always obvious what is history and what remains to be fulfilled. This is particularly true of Daniel 8:9 ff and Daniel 11:21 ff. Please read Daniel 11:21-12:13 before continuing with this post.

The end of Daniel is clearly eschatological in nature, because it refers to the resurrection of the dead (12:2). By comparing chapters 11 and 12 with the Seventy Weeks prophecy of chapter 9, we also understand why the events of chapter 12 and the end of chapter 11 are eschatological – they are building up to the promises spoken by Gabriel concerning Israel in 9:24.

By considering the New Testament, we also understand that a significant portion of Daniel 11 must be eschatological in nature. Paul applies 11:36 to the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Paul and Christ locate the Abomination of Desolation in the years just prior to the return of Christ.

The difficulty is in knowing where exactly Daniel 11 shifts from describing events of the past in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes to events of the future in the days of the Antichrist. This is a matter of controversy among those who read Daniel in a futuristic manner (as opposed to preterist and historicist interpretations).

In this post I do not propose to give the reader a hard answer. The reality is that we cannot know for certain until we see which events unfold.

For example, 11:30 clearly had a fulfilment in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, when ships of the Roman Republic came to oppose him in Egypt. (This is where the expression, “line in the sand”, comes from. The reader can learn about this in Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita 45.12.) However, these events could replay themselves in the end times if, say, a combined navy of American, British, and Greek ships opposed the Antichrist in the Mediterranean. However, I would suggest that the future part of Daniel 11 does not start any later than verse 31, and most probably begins earlier.

Lastly, it is worth noting that 12:1 is the origin of Christ’s concept of the Great Tribulation, mentioned in the Olivet Discourse. When the reader has a thorough grasp of Daniel, she will find that Daniel provides a very large part of the basis for New Testament eschatological passages, and is frequently cited – whether directly, or by allusion.