On February 12, 2011, the day after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned in the midst of the Arab uprisings, I gave a presentation on the Middle East in Prophecy, based on Daniel 11:40-45.
Watch my presentation on YouTube
Daniel chapter 11 is not a symbolic vision such as we find in chapters 2, 7, and 8. Chapter 11 is more like the explanatory verses that follow the vision in those earlier chapters. Below I have listed 12 reasons why the popular figurative interpretations of Daniel 11:40-45 don't work.
1. Symbolism and figurative language are not consistent with the nature of the chapter. Daniel 11 is not an encoded prophecy but an explanation in plain language.
2. We have inspired endorsement of William Miller's principles of prophetic interpretation. One of those principles is that scripture should be understood literally except when a literal interpretation doesn't work. Since a literal interpretation of Daniel 11 does work, we have no legitimate reason to interpret it figuratively.
3. The assumption that pagan Rome was the king of the north, when in fact it was never given that title in scripture, is problematic. Rome is presented, not as the king of the north, but as "he that cometh against him" (v. 16).
4. The lack of evidence that words such as "king," "north" and "ships" are figurative, and the lack of Biblical keys for interpreting them figuratively, suggest that these words are to be taken literally.
5. We have no inspired statement that an ism was ever the king of the south. Revolutionary France was spiritually called "Egypt" in Revelation 11 because it demonstrated certain characteristics of Egypt. But Daniel 11 says nothing about anything being spiritually called Egypt.
6. The papacy in 1798 was wounded by neither literal nor spiritual Egypt. The prophetic period assigned to the beast from the bottomless pit was three and a half years. "It was in 1793 that the decrees which abolished the Christian religion and set aside the Bible passed the French Assembly. Three years and a half later a resolution rescinding these decrees, thus granting toleration to the Scriptures, was adopted by the same body" (GC 287). According to the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, the characteristics of France that qualified it to spiritually be called "Egypt" ceased to characterize it at the end of the three and a half years. Otherwise, the prophecy would have failed.
7. Babylon is never called the king of the north in Daniel 11 or elsewhere. Babylon is not even mentioned in Daniel 11, so there is no hook on which to hang a spiritual interpretation of Babylon in the chapter.
8. The attempt to associate the king of the north with literal Babylon lacks textual support. Babylon as a capital had been abandoned by the Seleucid kings before the first king of the north appeared in Daniel 11:6. Seleucus I, the only ruler of the dynasty ever to rule from Babylon, is never called the king of the north.
9. Neither God nor Jesus nor Satan are ever referred to in Scripture as "King of the North."
10. Neither Medo-Persia nor Greece are ever called the king of the north in Daniel 11 or elsewhere.
11. According to Daniel 12:1 probation closes at the time that the king of the north comes to his end. But from other prophecies we know that neither the papacy nor Western Christianity will come to an end until after probation closes.
12. Any interpretation of Daniel 11 that involves 20th-century world developments invalidates the inspired statements that Christ could have come in the 1800s. How could Jesus have come before all of Daniel 11 was fulfilled? In order for the inspired statements to be correct, the whole chapter would have had to be fulfilled in the 1800s. And according to the pioneer view, it was, except the last verse, which they proclaimed as imminent.
The main objection I have heard to this literal geographical reading of Daniel 11 is this: How can you introduce into Daniel 11 a kingdom that isn't found in chapters 2, 7, and 8? My answer is simple: Daniel 11 isn't about kingdoms. It's about the kings and rulers of territories. All of the individual kings of the north and south are exclusive to chapter 11. No new territories are introduced in Daniel 11 that aren't found in the earlier chapters.