February 14, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XVIII - Visions: World Kingdoms

In Daniel 7, there is the narration of the record of a vision seen by Daniel in the first year of Belshazzar. So we must realize this is taking place somewhere between chapters 4 and 5 historically. It is a vision the four world kingdom/nations which were shown to Nebs in a dream and are represented under the symbols of various beasts. They are the nature and character of the four successive world-kingdoms, but also of the coming Kingdom of God established by the judgment of the world-kingdoms.

Daniel narrates what he saw four great beasts rise up one after another out of the storm-tossed sea; then we see the judgment of God against the fourth beast and the other beasts and finally the delivering up of the kingdom over all nations to the Son of Man, who came with the clouds of heaven. As we know the Son of Man is Jesus Christ. The narration of the vision is brought to a close by a statement of the impression made by this divine revelation on the mind of the prophet (v. 28).

Many modern critics claim this vision is to be regarded as belonging to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Therefore the representation of the Messianic kingdom in verse 13 and 14 is the only prophetic portion of it, all the other parts merely announcing what had already occurred. This is pure uneducated nonsense. On the other hand, if this chapter were composed during the time of the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, it shows that whoever wrote it was one of the most ignorant historians in history as the author would’ve been dealing with dates and events of his own time...and they weren't very accurate.

Within this warped and flawed modern interpretation there is a complete disconnect and inability to authenticate in history the ten horns which grew up before the eleventh horn, and the three kingdoms. EPIC FAIL!

Anyway…we see the blaspheming of the Most High because the horn has a real mouth on him. We also see the wearing out of the saints, and the changing of all religious ordinances continue for three and a half times, which are taken for three and a half years, after which a cessation will occur and an end will be made by means of heavenly judgment. The godless oppression will end. These three and a half years are not historically proven to be the period of the religious persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes or any other historical period for that matter. At least none that have occurred as to today February 14th, 2012. I would suggest that the period of three and a half years cannot be reckoned with historical accuracy to any historical period known…yet.

I would also suggest that the beginning of this period in relation to the/a temple may still yet be future. I do not believe it was realized under the domination of the Roman empire over Jerusalem A.D. 70 for reasoning stated later.

The truth is Daniel 7 marks the “double-back” of the book from historical accounts to visions again. The chapter is enormously important because of its influence on subsequent Jewish and Christian thought as distant as the book of Revelation and even today.

First, the previous chapters are preparatory to the second part of Daniel and are crucial for understanding it. This is why I have scoured them over the course of 20 posts and the entire book of Daniel has a profound effect on how we will interpret John’s Revelation.

The power and sovereignty of the Lord are clearly the focus of preceding chapters therefore they’ve laid the asphalt for the prophecies later. To me it is clear Daniel prophesied about the four world empires and the second advent of Christ in chapter 2, but in these later visions both the first and second advents of the Lord are described, and much more detail is provided concerning the four kingdoms, particularly the final phase of the fourth.

Because of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction to the Temple the future of the nation was uncertain even to those who returned with Zerubbabel to Judah. God made it clear through Daniel that the people of Israel, His people would continue to have a place in history. A messiah was coming that would redeem them from the bondage of empires and the bondage of the powers of this world…including sin. When He came his kingdom would come also. To this day we do not know the exact time that the prophecies will be fulfilled, especially the second advent of the Messiah Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24:36 ~"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Interpreting these prophecies are puzzling but not thoroughly impossible. It is important to have a correct view of the nature of apocalyptic literature in general which we have discussed in earlier lectures. We must understand exactly what the writer saw and heard rather than some contrived interpretation. Symbolism is a key and Daniel’s are nearly impenetrable.

Daniel had a dream in which he saw visions while sleeping and made “the following summary of it” as the NASB says or as the NIV states “He wrote down the substance of his dream”

Four Winds & The Great Sea (7:2-14)

Daniel saw four winds churning up the great sea. “The great sea” may refer to the Mediterranean as it is not specifically named. In verse 3 four great beasts are portrayed as coming up from the “sea,” whereas verse 17 states that these beasts rise up from the “earth.” It can be concluded that the “sea” is actually a symbol of the “earth,” and the beasts that rise out of this “sea” are interpreted later in the chapter as being great “earthly” kingdoms.

“Four winds of heaven” were “churning up” the sea. The word “churning up” can also mean “busting out”. The idea seems to be that these winds suddenly erupt upon the sea. The number “four” denotes the four directions of the earth and probably signifies that the chaos and mayhem created by this storm winds is universal. To me they are God’s judgment being leveled upon godless nation(s) all over the world. The truth is that this type of turmoil has been seen among the earth’s nations throughout history. This may be the case for the winds continually stir up the sea during the rise and fall of all four empires.

It is certain that God’s is involved as He is omnipotent and Sovereign. The chaos and mayhem that we read about is because of the actions of people who do not know God and satanic forces operating on humanity.

Beasts from the Sea (7:3)

“Four great beasts” now appear in Daniel’s vision. It would appear that they were great not only in power but in size as Daniel watched them pass before his eyes. What do these four animals from the sea represent? The angel explains that they represent “four kingdoms” that will rise from the earth. They are the exact same empires represented by the statue in Chapter 2. This description just goes into much more detail. The general and traditional view is that these kingdoms are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. An observation could be made that it would appear each beast is successively more callous and vicious than its predecessors

The First Beast (7:4)

The first beast resembled a lion (Rev 13:2); a lion with large wings like an eagle. It makes the most sense that the empires would start with that of the author’s day, which was Babylon. In the ruins of Babylon, and winged lions adorned the famous Ishtar Gate. The lion’s wings being ripped off symbolize the king’s insanity and loss of power. The lion being “lifted up” indicates that it was God who raised the king.

The Second Beast (7:5)

The Medo-Persia followed Babylon as the next great world empire. The bear was and animal which was noted for its great size and fierceness in fights (a la the Medo-Persians). The bear then has stopped to devour a mouthful before springing again on its prey. Of course one side of the bear being higher or larger could indicate that the empire consisted of two parts, one being greater than the other (i.e.: Media and Persia) the higher side would symbolize Persia. Since the beasts represent empires the bear eating another beast means victory over another empire. I have no idea what the ribs mean. Battles? “Get up and eat your fill of flesh” means they would conquer subdue many nations.

The Third Beast (7:6)

The third animal resembled a “leopard” (or panther). A leopard with four wings like those of a bird and it had four heads. “Authority to rule” is given to it. Following the Medo-Persian empire it is Greece that dominated the world courtesy of Alexander the Great. The “Four wings” upon the leopard’s back increased the speed, ability and dexterity of this already swift beast. Greece is remembered in history for its blistering speed in battle and Alexander the Great had an voracious covetousness for territory. Within ten years by the age of thirty-two he had conquered the entire Medo-Persian Empire all the way up to the doors of India. Then come the four heads. Daniel predicted symbolically that one empire would ultimately evolve into four kingdoms, and this is exactly what happened. When Alexander dies mysteriously in 323 B.C.

Head 1-Antipater control of Greece and Macedonia.
Head 2-Lysimachus ruled Thrace / Asia Minor.
Head 3-Seleucus I Nicator governed Syria, Babylon, and much of the Middle East
Head 4-Ptolemy I /Soter controlled Egypt and Palestine.

The Fourth Beast (7:7–8)

The fourth beast was essentially a nightmare and terrifying because it was very powerful and had large iron teeth with which it devoured all its prey. We also see words like: Crushed, shatter, pulverize…a formidable empire indeed. Fragments of its victims that remained were “trampled” under the monster’s feet. It had ten horns with that it gored its victims with. This beast was “different from all the former beasts” because of its great power, fierce appearance, and because it was much larger. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that this is symbolic reference to the Roman Empire. Strangely this fourth beast did not look like any animal known then or now. The incredible size and cruelty of Rome are explained by and empire that stretched to the British Isles and punishments like crucifixion. Rome possessed a power and permanence unlike anything the world had previously seen. Nations were crushed under Roman legions feet.

Ten Horns & The Little Horn

“Horns,” like heads, commonly symbolize kings or kingdoms in Scripture and the “horns” specifically identified as kings or kingdoms. Since the “horns” protrude from the fourth beast I have to assume these “kings” must have a connection or come from that empire…The Roman Empire. Then suddenly another horn, a little one come up among the ten. The little implies its size at inception

It grew or “came up,” and its size in the end is beyond the original ten horns because of the fact that it overpowered three of them. The uprooting three horns seem to indicate that three kings/kingdoms (nations) will be conquered by the new ruler. This appears to be and usurping. By force this the Little Horn will overpower other kings /kingdoms who resist and he will devour and incorporate them into his empire. The Little Horn also has “eyes” too and seem to approximate human personality but in Scripture they could also function as symbols of control, observation or learning and may equate to intelligence, insight, and wisdom. This dude also has a “mouth that spoke boastfully/great things”. This is an arrogant leader and what is of particular note to believers is that he will spout blasphemies against God. This is where I believe Daniel’s prophecy does futuristic as it…this stuff hasn’t occurred yet. To me the fourth beast is clearly Rome but the ten horns/kings? The ten horns coming out of Rome represent a union or coalition of kingdoms that will originate from the old Roman Empire because as far as I can see…there were not ten clearly defined kingdoms that arose from the ruins of a dissolved Roman Empire. Also I see this union or coalition or nation’s dominion will immediately precede the return of Christ. Why? Because Scripture tells us that this empire will be destroyed by the coming of the Kingdom of God .

The little horn of this league of ten horns will be extraordinary in a bad way with “eyes like a man and arrogant (mouth speaking arrogant things) against God and His holy people. He will conquer three kingdoms (or nations) that will initially resist him. It is a picture of a horrendously evil, future king in these verses seems to concur with descriptions of him found in other Scripture passages (Daniel 11, 2 Thess 2 & Rev 13). He is the archetype of…you guessed it…the vile antichrist.

Although “ten horns” could indicate the Little Horn’s dominion will consist of ten kingdoms but of course this could just be allusion to the idea of complete power, sovereignty or rule. It is believed by many that this will indeed be a federation of nations will come from the Old Roman Empire. I’m not so sure. Every successive generation sees these verses and claims their truths for themselves and every successive generation passes on to be in glory with the Lord only to see their predictions fade into the haze of history. We will know the season by the changing of the leaves…

What we do know for sure is that the final empire before the arrival of God’s Kingdom in force will have incredible power…and it will eventually become merciless and horrendously evil because we know that it will be by force that monstrosity the Antichrist will rule the whole earth (Rev 13:3, 7–8, 12).

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