"'And I, in my turn, have been helping him out as best I can ever since the first year in the reign of Darius the Mede.' The Kings of the South and the North
"'But now let me tell you the truth of how things stand: Three more kings of Persia will show up, and then a fourth will become richer than all of them. When he senses that he is powerful enough as a result of his wealth, he will go to war against the entire kingdom of Greece.
"'Then a powerful king will show up and take over a huge territory and run things just as he pleases.
But at the height of his power, with everything seemingly under control, his kingdom will split into four parts, like the four points of the compass. But his heirs won't get in on it. There will be no continuity with his kingship. Others will tear it to pieces and grab whatever they can get for themselves.
"'Next the king of the south will grow strong, but one of his princes will grow stronger than he and rule an even larger territory.
After a few years, the two of them will make a pact, and the daughter of the king of the south will marry the king of the north to cement the peace agreement. But her influence will weaken and her child will not survive. She and her servants, her child, and her husband will be betrayed.
a member of the royal family will show up and take over. He will take command of his army and invade the defenses of the king of the north and win a resounding victory.
He will load up their tin gods and all the gold and silver trinkets that go with them and cart them off to Egypt. Eventually, the king of the north will recover
and invade the country of the king of the south, but unsuccessfully. He will have to retreat.
"'But then his sons will raise a huge army and rush down like a flood, a torrential attack, on the defenses of the south.
"'Furious, the king of the south will come out and engage the king of the north and his huge army in battle and rout them.
As the corpses are cleared from the field, the king, inflamed with bloodlust, will go on a bloodletting rampage, massacring tens of thousands. But his victory won't last long,
for the king of the north will put together another army bigger than the last one, and after a few years he'll come back to do battle again with his immense army and endless supplies.
"'In those times, many others will get into the act and go off to fight against the king of the south. Hotheads from your own people, drunk on dreams, will join them. But they'll sputter out.
"'When the king of the north arrives, he'll build siege works and capture the outpost fortress city. The armies of the south will fall to pieces before him. Not even their famous commando shock troops will slow down the attacker.
He'll march in big as you please, as if he owned the place. He'll take over that beautiful country, Palestine, and make himself at home in it.
Then he'll proceed to get everything, lock, stock, and barrel, in his control. He'll cook up a peace treaty and even give his daughter in marriage to the king of the south in a plot to destroy him totally. But the plot will fizzle. It won't succeed.
"'Later, he'll turn his attention to the coastal regions and capture a bunch of prisoners, but a general will step in and put a stop to his bullying ways. The bully will be bullied!
He'll go back home and tend to his own military affairs. But by then he'll be washed up and soon will be heard of no more.
"'He will be replaced shortly by a real loser, his rule, reputation, and authority already in shreds. And he won't last long. He'll slip out of history quietly, without even a fight.
"'His place will be taken by a reject, a man spurned and passed over for advancement. He'll surprise everyone, seemingly coming out of nowhere, and will seize the kingdom.
He'll come in like a steamroller, flattening the opposition. Even the Prince of the Covenant will be crushed.
After negotiating a cease-fire, he'll betray its terms. With a few henchmen, he'll take total control.
Arbitrarily and impulsively, he'll invade the richest provinces. He'll surpass all his ancestors, near and distant, in his rape of the country, grabbing and looting, living with his cronies in corrupt and lavish luxury.
He'll get a great army together, all charged up to fight the king of the south. The king of the south in response will get his army - an even greater army - in place, ready to fight. But he won't be able to sustain that intensity for long because of the treacherous intrigue
in his own ranks, his court having been honeycombed with vicious plots. His army will be smashed, the battlefield filled with corpses.
"'The two kings, each with evil designs on the other, will sit at the conference table and trade lies. Nothing will come of the treaty, which is nothing but a tissue of lies anyway. But that's not the end of it. There's more to this story.
"'The king of the north will go home loaded down with plunder, but his mind will be set on destroying the holy covenant as he passes through the country on his way home.
"'One year later he will mount a fresh invasion of the south. But the second invasion won't compare to the first.
When the Roman ships arrive, he will turn tail and go back home. But as he passes through the country, he will be filled with anger at the holy covenant. He will take up with all those who betray the holy covenant, favoring them.
The bodyguards surrounding him will march in and desecrate the Sanctuary and citadel. They'll throw out the daily worship and set up in its place the obscene sacrilege.
The king of the north will play up to those who betray the holy covenant, corrupting them even further with his seductive talk, but those who stay courageously loyal to their God will take a strong stand.
"'Those who keep their heads on straight will teach the crowds right from wrong by their example. They'll be put to severe testing for a season: some killed, some burned, some exiled, some robbed.
When the testing is intense, they'll get some help, but not much. Many of the helpers will be halfhearted at best.
The testing will refine, cleanse, and purify those who keep their heads on straight and stay true, for there is still more to come.
"'Meanwhile, the king of the north will do whatever he pleases. He'll puff himself up and posture himself as greater than any god. He will even dare to brag and boast in defiance of the God of gods. And he'll get by with it for a while - until this time of wrathful judgment is completed, for what is decreed must be done.
He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, not even that popular favorite among women, Adonis. Contemptuous of every god and goddess, the king of the north will puff himself up greater than all of them.
He'll even stoop to despising the God of the holy ones, and in the place where God is worshiped he will put on exhibit, with a lavish show of silver and gold and jewels, a new god that no one has ever heard of.
Marching under the banner of a strange god, he will attack the key fortresses. He will promote everyone who falls into line behind this god, putting them in positions of power and paying them off with grants of land.
"'In the final wrap-up of this story, the king of the south will confront him. But the king of the north will come at him like a tornado. Unleashing chariots and horses and an armada of ships, he'll blow away anything in his path.
As he enters the beautiful land, people will fall before him like dominoes. Only Edom, Moab, and a few Ammonites will escape.
As he reaches out, grabbing country after country, not even Egypt will be exempt.
He will confiscate the treasuries of Egyptian gold and silver and other valuables. The Libyans and Ethiopians will fall in with him.
Then disturbing reports will come in from the north and east that will throw him into a panic. Towering in rage, he'll rush to stamp out the threat.
But he'll no sooner have pitched camp between the Mediterranean Sea and the Holy Mountain - all those royal tents! - than he'll meet his end. And not a soul around who can help!
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)