The Prince of the Covenant

I heard you mention once that “the prince of the covenant” was someone other than Antichrist. Can you give me your thoughts on this? Watson [i.e. P.S.G. Watson] seems to have taught they are one and the same. See attached.
Bro. Phil

I have to differ with Watson on this. It seems clear that the “him” of Dan 11:22 is the “vile person” of verse 21 (Dan 11:21). The “prince of the covenant” is “broken” along with the nation that is swept away by the overwhelming forces of a flood. In other words, the “prince of the covenant” in Dan 11:22 is not the aggressor; he is a victim of the prevailing forces of the Antichrist. The “vile person” of verse 21 is manifestly the same one who places the abomination of desolation in verse 31.

It is evident from Dan 9:26 that the “flood” refers to the final desolation of Jerusalem (Dan 9:27; 12:11; Rev 11:2). A careful comparison of context will show that Dan 11:21-22 is a “preview” of the overwhelming invasion that begins with the abomination of Dan 11:31, just as Dan 12:1 is a “review” of the tribulation that began in Dan 11:31.

Dan 11:23-45 presents an unbroken continuity of events that move in chronological succession to the end of Antichrist in verse 45. However, that is where the chain of successive events ends, because it is clear that Dan 12:1 reverts back to the beginning of the tribulation to note that the tribulation begins with the standing up of Michael, and ends with Israel’s deliverance and the resurrection (Dan 12:1-2).

In the same way that Dan 12:1-2 is a recapitulation of the tribulation that began with the abomination of Dan 11:31, I believe Dan 11:22 is a fore-view of the overwhelming flood that comes with the violation of the covenant in Dan 11:31. This is confirmed by a comparison with Dan 9:26-27 where all the same events appear in connection with the flood.

Beginning with Dan 11:23 — we are given the chain of preliminary events that lead up to the tribulation in Dan 11:31. The close mention of the flood in connection with the covenant in Dan 11:22, 28, 30, and its violation in the middle of the week (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) is just one more argument against interpreting Dan 11:21-31), as completely fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes IV in the 2nd century B.C.

Notice that the same cluster of associated events is mentioned in Dan 9:26-27 in connection to the final Antichrist desolation of Jerusalem. In both places, we see a covenant (Dan 11:22, 28, 30-32), or “league” (Dan 11:23) in connection with the pollution of the sanctuary, the removal of the sacrifice, and the desolation of Jerusalem (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). In both places, the same group of events are represented under the figure of a flood.

To my knowledge, only Jewish and liberal commentators apply Dan 9:26-27 to Antiochus Epiphanes IV. Conservative scholarship is unanimous in applying this section to either the Roman, or the Antichrist destruction of Jerusalem, or a double fulfillment that comprehends both events. Yet, curiously, this pattern of type and antitype is seldom applied to Dan 11:21-32. The general trend has been to apply this section strictly to Antiochus, while applying Dan 9:26-27 to a mysterious overlap of double fulfillment between the Roman siege and the final tribulation.

It is exegetically inconsistent to ignore the manifest parallel between Dan 9:26 and 11:22. Jesus specifically identifies Dan 11:31 as the event that starts the tribulation. It is therefore most inconsistent to apply Dan 9:26-27 to the Roman destruction, or a future tribulation, while applying the same complex of events described in Dan 11:22, 28, 30-32 to Antiochus IV of the second century B.C.

We must not permit history or doctrinal presuppositions to compromise the otherwise clear implications of a book’s internal context, and the consistent comparison of scripture with scripture. The next step is to note how Jesus, Paul, and John consistently use and apply Daniel’s prophecy (e.g., Dan 12:1-2, 11 with Mt 24:15, 21, 29; Dan 11:36-37 with 2Thes 2:4; Dan 7:21, 25; 9:27; 12:7 with Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5).

Liberal scholars stumble at the mystery, dismissing the difficulties of Daniel as an example of failed prophecy. Preterists and amillennialists commit exegetical suicide in their effort to keep the tribulation in the past. Conservative interpreters are far better in their recognition of type and foreshadow, but there is something more profound at work here. It is mystery. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov 25:2; with Ps 25:14; Amos 3:7; Rev 10:7).

This mysterious blending of near and far, of partial and complete fulfillment, and the necessity to recognize a gap of centuries between parallel events, is a divinely intended phenomenon, unique to prophecy. It belongs to God’s use of mystery to hide His plan from the wisdom of this age, while revealing it to babes (Mt 11:25-26).

This is how things so wonderfully foretold can come as a thief on the proud and unbelieving. This is how a once and for all revealed mystery can “re-hide” itself from a skeptical age, so that the world is caught completely off guard for the end time shaking of all things through what Isaiah called, “the controversy of Zion” (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3).

So who is the “prince of the covenant?” Well, the context makes me sure of who he is not. He is not the Antichrist, because the Antichrist is the one who brings the overwhelming flood that defeats him.

I used to think that the prince of the covenant would be the Jewish “architect” of the peace arrangement, who would then be in the Land when it is invaded by the Antichrist. I now conclude differently. Here’s why: I share with many the view that the last seven years begins with a “league”, or peace pact with the Antichrist (Dan 8:25; 11:23). However, this is not all there is to the matter. There is much more to this than a “league” or peace agreement between Israel and the Antichrist.

I have come to conclude that the covenant that is in view in Dan 9:27 is an already existing covenant that is not “made” but “confirmed”. It is the same covenant that is referred to in Dan 11:22, 28, 30, 32 as “the holy covenant. Observe carefully, and see if you do not agree that the covenant of Dan 9:27 and 11:22 is, in fact, the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30. I believe it is.

This means that the “league” (Dan 11:23), or “covenant” (Isa 28:15, 18) made with the Antichrist is not exactly the same thing as “the covenant” that he (Antichrist) “confirms with many” (Dan 9:27). This suggests two different sides, or aspects, of the same transaction. Israel is seduced to rely on the Antichrist to honor a peace that has been brokered by one or many other nations. This is not just another peace effort. It is an international recognition of the ancient “holy covenant” that proposes to recognize the legitimacy of Jewish claims to the Land, and the temple mount in particular. This has implications that are seldom considered.

I believe we have a clue in Dan 11:30 that Israel’s extreme sense of security (Ezek 38:8, 11, 14; Isa 28:15, 18; especially 1Thes 5:3) is not based entirely on a misguided trust in the Antichrist, who is manifestly a leader that is able to exploit Arab and Islamic hatred against the covenant to his own ends.

On the contrary, Israel’s security rests with the ability of the West to enforce the peace, regardless of the fickleness and potential hostility of Israel’s Arab neighbors, Israel is not placing its final trust in the will or the ability of the Antichrist to restrain them in their mutual hatred of the covenant. Rather, Israel’s more ultimate trust rests with the union of nations that are pledged to guarantee and protect the peace that secures Jewish access to the temple mount (Islam’s “Noble Sanctuary”).

In support of this view, notice that only a short while before the Antichrist launches his successful assault on Jerusalem (Dan 11:31 with Rev 13:14), he is successfully intercepted and turned back by the “ships of Chittim” (Dan 11:30; Chittim or Kittim is a term commonly associated with the maritime powers of the Mediterranean coastlands). We should note that something has happened between verses 30 and 31 that has completely shifted the balance of power.

I believe it is more consistent to see that the “covenant” that the Antichrist “confirms with many” is the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30. We should not suppose that the many here is restricted to the people of Israel. Rather, it is altogether possible, and I think probable, that the Antichrist is only one of many heads of government that “confirm” (recognize, or give formal sanction to) the “holy covenant”. This suggests the amazing prospect of an international recognition and enforcement (Dan 11:30), not only of Israel’s right to exist, but free and open access to the temple mount (something that would never be entertained under the current political climate, which leads me to think in terms of a regional war that Israel will survive with strengthened political advantage).

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