“And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.
The Scriptures don’t explain evil, but they reveal its definition and boundaries. Our “why” questions concerning evil and its consequent insanity, I believe, will never be answered. God does not untangle the knot of Satan and evil people at the end of time, so much as dispose of them in a lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10). Our “what,” “when,” “where,” and even “how” questions, however, do meet with answers in Scripture.
This one verse in Daniel teaches us much about evil and about how God puts boundaries around it. Evil, like that possessing terrorists who kill random people, turns out to be right in the core of the Christmas story (Matthew 2:16-18). Herod kills baby boys in order to protect his throne. All killing is justified in the minds of killers at the time of their killing. Herod reminds us of the mindset of the ruler in Daniel 11:36. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” All evil people embody the expression of this quote, found in the Satanic Bible written by Anton LaVey in 1969 and credited to Aleister Crowley, who developed it into a dark religious system in the early 1900’s. The king is evil; the king does whatever he wants. Unlimited self-indulgence is always the sign of evil in the world, in others, and in ourselves. Before evil can gain traction, the power of wanting something has to rise up in our spirits. This is why the 10th commandment, “You shall not covet,” is so important to understand.
Jesus’ whole life stands as a repudiation of this selfishness. He shows this best, many say, in the garden the night before he died. “Not my will, but thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). May this be our prayer today and every day. Amen.