Besides the two great protagonists whose Scripture portraits we have already studied (namely, the Roman prince and the antichrist), there appears on the stage a third influential personage during this last “week” of Daniel’s prophecy. He is the king of the north, Dan. 11. 15, 40. Here is a man who is inclined to be overshadowed in our minds by the other two principal characters of this period. Probably this is because the New Testament deals entirely with the dictators connected with the resurrected Roman Empire, the Gentile power which held sway in the time of Christ’s first advent, and which sanctioned His death by crucifixion. When our Lord returns to earth at His second advent, that same Empire in its revived form will again be in control of a great area of the world’s territory. It is not surprising, then, that although much is predicted of the king of the north in the Old Testament, the inspired writers of the New Testament concentrate rather upon the Roman dictator and his ally the false king of the Jews, the antichrist. We must not, however lose sight of the importance, power and prestige of this third notable personage who surges into warfare, with Palestine as his main target of attack.
Now in order to see the prophetic events of the last “week” clearly in perspective, it is necessary for us to differentiate between the three major figures who will fill the stage at this time. That is why we have devoted a separate article to each of the characters involved. Our present cameo, then, is of the king of the north, the king of the fierce countenance – and we will endeavour to indicate, under descriptive headings, the scripturally-defined features of this man.
(1)His ancestors – Firstly, we must determine the nationality of this fierce-faced king. He is thought to be the successor of the kings of Greek origin who ruled over the vast Grecian Empire after the death of Alexander the Great – an empire that extended from the Mediterranean coast of Syria right to the frontier of India.
The king of the north will wield power over the countries lying to the north and north-east of Palestine in the last days. He may well be a Turk in nationality, but he cannot be identified as yet. (A common error is to confuse the king of the north with the God of Ezekiel 38, the ruler of Russia, but we shall find in another paper when we discuss the role of Russia, that the northern confederacy’s myriads sweep down into Palestine at a date slightly later than when the king of the north invades the land. Moreover, the antichrist, the king of the Jews, is in power when the king of the fierce countenance (typified by Antiochus Epiphanes of Daniel 11) launches his attack. So we submit, that although the political aims of God and his confederates may be similar to those of the king of the north, and that collusion may take place between them, they are nevertheless different personalities ruling over distinct nations.)
(2) His appellations – The king of the north goes under several names or titles in the Scriptures:
(a) He is called the “Assyrian” in Isaiah 10, Micah 5, etc. He is termed the king of the fierce countenance in Daniel 8. 23-25.
(b) He is the “little horn” of Daniel 8. 9, but not the “little horn" of Daniel 7. 8, who, as we have previously seen, foreshadows the Roman dictator.
(c) He is the king of the north, Dan. 11. 40, the controlling head of the northern and eastern confederacy of nations (excluding Russia and her satellites), which will act as a massive counter-balance of power against the mighty military strength of the Revived Roman Empire under whose wing the Israeli state will be guaranteed protection from invading foes.
(3)His aim – The devilish aim of the king of the north will be nothing less than the extermination of God’s earthly people the Jews, and the gaining possession of the land of Palestine with all the wealth it contains.
But in addition to the evil designs of the fierce-faced King, there is a divine aim involved in the king’s action. He will be unwittingly used as an instrument of God for the purpose of chastening His idolatrous people Israel, Isa. 10. 7. The northern army is called the Lord’s army in Joel 2. 11 : “His army".
(4)His analogies – Various graphic figures from the realm of nature are employed to emphasize the relentless ferocity of the king of the north and his attack on the land of Palestine :
(a) He is a locust scourge. The land is devastated as the advancing army employs a “scorched earth" policy of widespread proportions, like a thick cloud of locusts devouring everything before them and leaving nothing behind, Joel 2. 3, 25.
(b) He is an overwhelming flood spreading its torrential waters over the entire extent of Immanuel’s land, Isa. 8. 7-8, as an “overflowing scourge”, 28. 14-22.
(c) He is as a devastating thunderstorm, shaking and breaking all that stands in its frightening onward course through the land, Psa. 29.
(d) He is a hired razor, Isa. 7. 20. The Assyrian and his powerful forces from beyond the Euphrates will be used by God as a razor to shave away the growth and strength of the Jews
and their land.
(e) He is the rod of Jehovah’s angel, Isa. 10. 5; 30. 31-33.
(5)His attack – An account of the attack of the fierce Assyrian against Palestine in the last days is found in Daniel 11. 40-44. His military action is precipitated by the sudden, surprise invasion of Palestine by the king of the south (Egypt). This swift move seems to cause an immediate response on the part of the king of the north. He sweeps down through the land, capturing on his way the capital city Jerusalem, and driving the king of the south back into his own land of Egypt, which country he, the king of the north, then proceeds to overrun.
(6)His allies – Among his allies are Libya and Ethiopia, Dan. 11.40-45, as well as the oriental confederates, the kings of the east, Rev. 9. 13-21 ; 16. 21-16. While not herself actively engaged in these military operations, Russia will possibly be in accord with the king of the north’s aggressive onslaught.
(7)His aftermath – Returning from the south, the king of the north attacks Jerusalem a second time, Isa. 29. 7-8. This will be the final of many sieges experienced over the centuries by Jerusalem. The assault, in the end, will be ineffectual, and the northern army will be driven east-ward, and its ruthless king will be consigned to Tophet (the lake of fire), Zech. 14. 14; Isa. 30, 27-32. (The invasion of Palestine by the king of the north is predicted in a number of the Old Testament prophecies, namely Isaiah, Daniel, Joel, Micah, Zechariah and Psalms.)