In 1905, the Spanish Philosopher George Santayana wrote, the famous words, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Forty-three years later, in a famous speech before the House of Commons, Winston Churchill quoted/paraphrased Santayana warning, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I don’t think anyone would disagree with the truth and wisdom of those statements. It’s just that if there’s one thing that history teaches us, it’s that human beings have never learned from history (not for long anyway) and, therefore, have always been doomed to repeat it.
I’ve been thinking about that repeatedly and increasingly as we have worked through the book of Daniel. It’s been especially on my mind as we approach the two final sections in Daniel (11:36-45 & chapter 12) which focus on the End of the World and the Antichrist. Here, as in multiple other passages in his Word, God has told us how the world is going to end. Here in Daniel, as in each and every one of the other apocalyptic passages, God points to the events of the recent past, or the near future, and uses those lessons to highlight the patterns, signs, and temptations that will accompany the final appearance of the Antichrist and the End of the World. However, surveying history, it’s clear that Christians, and human beings in general, have not learned from this history – not for long anyway. What can we learn from the history of Daniel 11:36-45 and God’s teaching about the Antichrist and the End of the World?