By Pr L.P. Tolhurst.
Daniel 11:40-45. Read.
Who is the King of the North mentioned here?
Various views have been and are still held by SDAs:-
1. The Papacy.
3. Russia. Not many hold to this view, so little will be said about it.
4. The Ottoman Turkish Empire. The view of R.W. Anderson, see his book
“Through Turmoil to Peace.” This view taught that the King of the North ended
on 11 August 1840. based on Revelation 9:13 onwards, (the sixth trumpet.)
History of the Church’s Teaching on the King of the North.
Three Main Periods
1. 1846-1871 The King of the North said to be the Papacy.
There was general agreement on this during this time. James White and Uriah Smith both taught it. Uriah Smith applied Daniel 11:45 to the Papacy. See his editorial in the Review and Herald May 13, 1862 under the title, “Will the Pope Remove the Papal seat to Jerusalem?
2. 1871-1952. The King of the North said to be Turkey.
Around the beginning of this period Uriah Smith changed his views and began to teach that Daniel 11:36-39 Spoke about Revolutionary France, and that verses 40-45
dealt with Turkey. He wrote up these views in his book “Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation”, published by the Review and Herald Publishing House of which he was the editor on and off for many years.
James White who was also editor of the Publishing House at times advised caution.
In 1877 war broke out between Turkey and Russia, and Smith preached on the “Eastern Question” at a camp meeting attended by the Whites, and there the two men
clashed publicly over the issue. In November 15, 1877 an editorial by James White appeared. It was reprinted in the Review and Herald 27 November, 1877, urging caution. Uriah Smith did not heed James White’s appeal, and in the Review and Herald of June 6, 1878 (page 180) he wrote. “…we have reached the preliminary movements of the battle of Armageddon”. See Ministry Magazine November 1967, page29 and onwards.
Reasons why Uriah Smith changed his views. See Ministry Magazine, March 1954
- In 1798 the Pope was taken prisoner by the French general Berthier, and he died in exile in France. In 1870 the Pope lost all temporal power, after Garibaldi took away the Papal States and united Italy.
- Secular opinion held that the Papacy would never recover. It seems strange to us now that Smith would go along with this idea since Rev. 13:3 says “the deadly wound was healed and all the world wondered after the beast”.
- Introducing France, Turkey and Egypt into Daniel 11, made the prophecies seem to be current to people of those times, and thus more interesting and urgent. Smith did what so many others have done, and that is to try to interpret the prophecies by looking at the newspaper headlines of the day. The danger of doing this is that he forgot that prophecy was not given to us to make us wise about political event, but to let us know what is going to happen to God’s church.
- At that time Russia seemed ready to close in on Constantinople (now called Istanbul), Smith thought that this move could well lead Turkey to move its capital to Jerusalem.
- Bishop Newton and Adam Clarke and others had linked Daniel 11:40-45 to the Ottoman Empire.
- Many scholars of the day also taught that Rev. 9 spoke about the Ottoman Empire and that Rev. 11 dealt with the French Revolution. Thus it was thought that these two chapters were parallel prophecies to those in Dan. 11:36-45.
Reasons why Smith’s views became dominate.
a. James White withdrew from the controversy for the sake of peace. See Ministry Magazine Nov. 1967, and Counsels to Writers and Editors,pp.76-77.
b. White did not spell out his views as clearly as did Smith.
c. Smith wrote his views into a book, – “Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation,” which out-lasted any thing White wrote in a magazine.
d. White died in 1881, while Smith served as editor of the Review and Herald for another eight years after White’s death. Thus Smith’s views became the dominate interpretation until about 1952.
3. 1952 to the Present. The King of the North again said to be the Papacy.
Reasons for the Return to the Earlier Position. See Ministry Magazine March 1954, p 24.
“ Not until the events so confidently predicted did not materialize, and the Papacy, instead of having ‘fallen to rise no more,’ again became a decisive influence in international affairs with a resumption of temporal power in 1929, did our Bible students undertake a re-examination of our denominational interpretations of these prophecies.” (Note that this quotation is dealing specifically with Dan. 11:36-39, but that which it states is also true about the King of the North as being the Papacy.)
See Ministry Magazine 1967 p 26. “The Papacy is generally held to be the King of the North, and Armageddon is understood to be primarily the climatic struggle between the forces of Christ and those of Satan at the end of time. The years between 1924 and 1952 were transition years.”
Summary of Uriah Smith’s Interpretations of Daniel 11:36-45.
The earlier verses of Dan. 11 have not been disputed among S.DA.s.
Daniel 11:14-29 have been applied to Pagan Rome.
Daniel 11:30-35 have been applied to Papal Rome.
Uriah Smith applied Daniel 11:36-39 to Revolutionary France.
He then applied Daniel 11:40-45 to Turkey.
Arguments in Favour of the Papacy in Daniel 11:36-39.
- Daniel 11 is a parallel prophecy to Daniel 2, 7, and 8-9.
These earlier prophecies deal with Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome etc. Each prophecy adds something more not found in the earlier ones. That is we see a pattern of repetition and enlargement. Each prophecy ends with God destroying those powers that attack His people and His church. Hence we see the judgment and the establishing of God’s everlasting Kingdom. Why would Daniel 11:36-45 depart from this pattern?
James White made a strong case using this argument.
See Ministry Magazine, March, 1954, p. 22. “The pioneers of this movement (the SDA Church) were for the first twenty-five or thirty years of our history unanimous in stating that Papal Rome is the power referred to by the prophet Daniel in these verses. No other conclusion could be reached after a careful study of the literature of the church during this period.”
- Thus “The King” of verse 36 refers back to the antecedent power, – the Papacy, and not to a new power, that is Revolutionary France.
See Ministry Magazine March 1954, p 23.
“It is generally agreed among Seventh-day Adventist Bible students that the “king” of Daniel 7:24, 25, and Daniel 8:23-25 refers to the Roman Catholic power, which accurately fulfills the prophetic symbols. It was the conviction of the committee that when the “king” is again mentioned in Daniel 11:36 and
described in almost identical language it could not represent a new power like France or Turkey….” Note that in Dan. 7:24, 25 and Den. 8: 23-25 the Papacy is referred to as a king.
- The parallels between the wording , with other prophecies that clearly deal with
the Papacy. e.g.. Dan. 7:11, 25; 8:11, 23; 11: 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:5-6.
- Revolutionary France did not “prosper till the indignation be accomplished”
Dan.11:36. But the Papacy does.
- Re the understanding of the term, “the desire of women”. Uriah Smith taught that this term referred to the abolition of marriage as a Christian institution during the French revolution. Many who believe the Papacy is the subject of Dan. 11:36-39 have taught that these words refer to the practice of celibacy by Roman Catholic priests.
However more recently another interpretation has been put forward due to a study of the original word translated “desire”. In the Hebrew it is “chemdah”. This word is used in two other places in the Old Testament.
They are:- 1Samuel 9:20, where Saul was chosen to be king, and Samuel introduced him by asking, “And on whom is all the desire of Israel?”
And Haggai 2:7 “ …and the desire of all nations shall come” This was a clear prophecy that Jesus would come to the rebuilt temple.
Note that in both Biblical uses of this word, it is applied to a person, not to an abstract idea or institution such as marriage. It could be said that every Judean woman desired to be the mother of the Messiah. Thus the word “chemdah” is now believed by some scholars to be a title of Christ, as is the term “The Desire of all nations”. Note that the RSV renders this phrase “the one beloved by women”.
This concept is further strengthened when we have a closer look at the context in Daniel 11 where these words appear. Note the sequence in Dan. 11:37:-
“Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all”.
The context has two clear references to deity, and to put a statement about celibacy between them is not logical. Rather we can conclude that this is another parallel passage that speaks in prophecy of how the Papacy would “magnify himself above all”.
Many see in Dan.11:38 a possible reference to the exaltation of the Virgin Mary, in the wording, “…and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and sliver, and with precious stones and with pleasant things”.
Arguments in Favour of the Papacy in Dan. 11:40-45.
- Daniel 11 is a parallel prophecy following Dan. 2, 7.and 8-9. See above.
- The “Him” of verse 40 grammatically refers back to the “King” of verse 36-39.
Note that some say that there are three powers in verse 40. “Him” = the Papacy, The king of the South, may be Egypt, and the King of the North, may be Russia.
This line of reasoning is not warranted, and is not accepted by most Adventist scholars today. They see only two powers, – the King of the North, – the Papacy, and the King of the South, the main rival of the Papacy in the last days.
Bible prophecies point to the Papacy as a world power attacking God’s people in the last days as she did throughout the 1260 years.
- The “End of the King of the North” in Daniel 11:45 parallels the fate of the
Papacy as seen in other prophecies.
Dan. 11:45. “He shall come to his end, and none shall help him”
Dan. 8:25. “Yet he shall be broken without hand”.
Dan. 7:26. “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion,
to consume and to destroy it until the end”.
Dan. 9:27. “That determined shall be poured upon the desolate (margin =
2 Thess.2:8. “The Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall
destroy with the brightness of His coming”.
Rev. 16:19. “And the great city was divided into three parts…and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath”.
Rev. 17:16. “And the ten horns …shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her withy fire.”
Rev. 18:6-8. “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works…fill to her double….so much sorrow and torment give her: …. her plagues come in one day, death and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her”.
From the study of these verses it becomes clear that the King of the North who
comes to his end and receives no help in Daniel 11:45 is the Papacy.
The Question of Geography, – the North.
Those who advocate that Turkey or Russia is the King of the North, look for a
power that is north of Palestine. They point out that in the earlier verses of Dan.
11 the Seleucid power was north of Palestine, and the King of the South was Egypt to the south of Palestine.
In those days God’s people were in Palestine, and were caught between these two rival powers. However in the last days, God’s people are world wide, and the Papacy is also world wide, Prophecy is given to us to alert us to what is going to happen to God’s people, and not political events that do not affect them. Thus the geographical north has no significance in last day events.
“The King of the North” stands for the power that persecutes God’s People.
When God’s people were in Palestine, the powers that often attacked them usually came from the north, or entered Palestine from the north.
- a. Syria. 1 Kings 11:23-25. Rezon was an adversary to Israel all the days of
2 Kings 5:1-3. Naaman’s Campaign mentioned.
b. Assyria. 2 Kings 15:29, Tiglath-pileser took captives.
. 2 Kings 17:6. Israel taken captive by Assyria.
c. Babylon. Jer. 1:13-14. “Out of the north an evil shall break forth” “…the kingdoms of the north”.
Jer. 4:6. “I will bring evil from the north and a great destruction”
Jer. 6:1. “…for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction”.
Jer. 6:22-23. “a people cometh from the north….they are cruel”.
Jer.10:22. “a great commotion out of the north country”.
Jer. 25:9. Nebuchadnezzar and families out of the north.
Jer.46:20. Destruction cometh out of the north.
Jer. 47:2. Flood of waters from the north.
Jer. 50:3. Out of the north cometh a nation that will make the land desolate.
Eze. 1:4. A whirlwind out of the north.
Joel 2:20. “I will remove far off from you the northern army,”
Note Babylon is east of Jerssusalem.
d. Greece. Alexander and his Greek army came into Palestine from the north.
e. The Seleucids attacked from the north.
f. Pagan Rome came into Palestine from the north.
Thus the title “King of the North” became a synonym for the persecutor of God’s people, and thus fits the Papacy in the last days as outlined in Daniel 11:36-45.
The Papacy in Daniel 11:40-45.
a. Who is the King of the South who attacks the Papacy in the “Time of the
end”? We should look for a world wide power that is the rival of the Papacy. Throughout the history of the SDA church various powers have been suggested, e.g. Egypt. Not really a world power capable of attacking the Papacy and the western nations she will control in the last days. Some thought that the Communist block of nations fitted the prophecy, but few hold that view today as Communism has virtually collapsed.
A more recent contender for the title is the Moslem world. However we should practice caution when we look at unfulfilled prophecy, and adopt a wait and see approach. See SDABC Vol. 4. p 877.
One thing however is clear and that is this, that Daniel 11:40-42 depicts a great war. The language demands it. For example, The King of the North retaliates like a “whirlwind with horses and chariots and many ships,” and occupies many countries, including Egypt. (The mention of Egypt in context rules out that it could be considered as the King of the South).
Everyone is aware that the Papacy itself does not have the army depicted in these verses, so we rather look for the nations and states that the Papacy will influence and control in the last days. These powers would have to be the western world of Europe and the United States etc. See. Rev. 17:11-12. The 10 horns give their power to the beast and reign with her for a short time, (one hour), and Rev. 13 .
b. The Papacy will emerge as the one super- power in the world, and then be
capable of enforcing Sunday laws world wide. This is something that she cannot do at the present time. Dan. 11:40-42 pictures great control over many countries.
c. Papacy gets financial control. “But he shall have power over the treasures
of gold and of silver…” Dan.11:43. Compare the economic boycott mentioned in Rev. 13.
d. Persecution and the Death Decree. Tidings out of the east and the north
trouble him. Tidings out of the north could well be tidings from his own ranks, and thus the east could refer to God’s church. When the latter rain is poured out there will be gathered a great multitude of all of God’s faithful people
from all the various churches and religions world wide, and as thousands leave their former associations and join the Remnant Church of Bible prophecy this will without doubt cause the Papacy to “go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. Compare Rev. 18:15, where the death decree is mentioned.
e. “Plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy
mountain.” This passage is understood by some as referring to a possible move by the Pope to Jerusalem. When Satan impersonates the second coming of Jesus, one location when he will appear could well be Jerusalem, and if so, it is very likely that the Pope would fly there to meet him.
f. “Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him”. Dan. 11:45.