Forum Class, Daniel #4
History by the Ounce (Daniel 7:1-28)
"History by the ounce! That is a good way to describe Daniel's preview of gentile history as presented in the seventh chapter of his prophecy. The time frame is extensive--from the sixth century B.C. until the coming of Jesus Christ and beyond. But Daniel packs it all in through a series of vivid visions that convey far more than any mere listing of names, battles, or dates could do for us. The material in this section is parallel to the vision of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in chapter 2, but it is important to see that an entirely new section of the book begins with chapter 7. For one thing, the first six chapters have presented the career of Daniel in chronological order through a series of three kings under whom Daniel served: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius. Now the account skips backward to something that happened in the reign of the second of these kings. Moreover, the nature of the material changes. The first chapters contain historical events from Daniel's years of service. True, there is the record of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, but even this is set in the context of the threat it posed to Daniel and his three friends, and the story involves his success in interpreting it. The second half of the book (chapters 7-12) is trans-historical. It is a record of visions that could have been received and recorded at any period of history either before or after Daniel's time.
These visions vary in important details, but they are overlapping and make roughly the same points. They tell us that God is in control of history, that human kingdoms will succeed human kingdoms until the coming of the Lord's Anointed, the Messiah, but that in the end it is his kingdom that will fill the whole earth.
The Vision of Four Beasts: The first vision of Daniel 7 is the foundation for what follows. So it is important to have it firmly in mind as we proceed. Daniel saw four wild animals that later we are told represent "four kingdoms that will rise from the earth" (v17). The first was like a lion, although it had eagle's wings. It had its wings torn off and then was lifted up from the ground so that it stood on two feet. Daniel says that the heart of a man was given to it. The second animal looked like a bear. The distinguishing feature of this animal was that it had three ribs in its mouth and that it was told, "Get up and eat your fill of flesh." The third animal was like a leopard, but it had four wings like the wings of a bird. It also had four heads and was given great authority to rule. The fourth beast was the most terrifying of all. It is not even compared to a known animal. Daniel says only that it had large iron teeth and ten horns, It crushed and devoured its victims and trampled everything underfoot.
While Daniel was thinking about this last beast, particularly about the significance of the ten horns, another horn appeared that uprooted three beast's ten horns. This last horn is said to have had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
At this point a judgment unfolded. Thrones were set up in heaven, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. The Ancient of Days is God. Thousands worshiped him. The court convened, the books were opened, and the beasts were judged, particularly the last one whose body was destroyed and thrown into a river of fire that flowed from God's throne. The vision ends by the statement that "one like a son of man" approached the Ancient of Days and was given "authority, glory and sovereign power." "All peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never he destroyed" (v. 13-14).
The most obvious thing to he said about this vision is that it is parallel to Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great statue made up of various kinds of metals--although this vision adds significant new details.
The beast that was like a lion corresponds to the golden portion of Nebuchadnezzar's statue: the heart. This was a representation of the Babylonian empire itself, as Daniel explained to the emperor (Daniel. 2:26-28). However, in this second vision details are added that seem particularly apt as a description of Nebuchadnezzar himself. In view of what we've have already been told about Nebuchadnezzar, the tearing off of the animal's wings seems to symbolize Nebuchadnezzar's humbling and the reducing of his glory during the years of his insanity. When it is said that the lion-like animal was raised up on two feet and given the heart of a man, it is hard not to think of the restoration of the proud king's reason. These details help fix our earlier interpretation of the first vision and establish a pattern for understanding the parts of the vision that follow.
The second animal, which was like a hear, corresponds to the silver portions of the statue: the arms, shoulders, and upper parts of the body. This representation of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. Incidentally, it also shows that these two kingdoms are to be taken together, not divided as has been done by the more liberal scholars. Nothing in the history of the Median Empire corresponds to the detail of the three ribs held between the second beast's teeth. But if the kingdom is that of the Medes and Persians (considered together), then the history fits quite well. Cyrus, the Median-Persian king, and his son Cambyses conquered (1) the Lydian kingdom in Asia Minor, which fell to Cyrus in 546 B.C.; (2) the Chaldean Empire, which he overthrew in 539 B.C.; and (3) the kingdom of Egypt, which fell to Cambyses in 525.
The third beast corresponds to the middle portion of Nebuchadnezzar's statue, the part made of bronze, and represents the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. Two things particularly characterized this empire: the speed with which it was achieved and the speed with which it divided into four separate kingdoms after its founder's death. Like a swiftly running leopard, Alexander won his vast empire in one extended campaign. But within a few years of his death in 323 B.C., the kingdom fractured into four parts; (1) the region of Greece and Macedonia under Antipater, (2) Thrace and Asia Minor under Lysimachus, (3) Asia (except Asia Minor and Palestine) under Seleucus, and (4) Egypt and Palestine under Ptolemy. There is no way this fourfold division can be projected onto the Persian Empire, as the liberal view must do to be consistent. The Persian Empire remained intact until its sudden collapse to Alexander in 334-332 B.C.
The final beast of Daniel's dream, the terrible one unlike any known animal, corresponds to the legs, feet, and toes of Nebuchadnezzar's statue and represents Rome. Several details of the visions tie the statue and beast together. The legs of the statue are iron; so are the teeth of the animal. The animal has ten horns; these find a parallel in the ten toes of the statue, presumably representing ten confederated kingdoms. However, a new feature is introduced in the vision of the four beasts that was not present in the vision of the statue: the appearance of "another horn, a little one," which replaced three of the horns of the last and terrible beast. The horns (and toes) would seem to be kingdoms. But this horn has characteristics of an individual ruler. This seems to be the first biblical reference to the individual later described in the Bible as the Antichrist. He appears in 2 Thessalonians 2 as "the man of lawlessness. . . doomed for destruction" (v.3) and is seen again in Revelation.
At this point, we are reminded of the stone uncut by human hands that came and struck the great statue of Nebuchadnezzar so that it fell and was broken in pieces and then was scattered by the wind. The stone then grew to become a great mountain that filled the earth. In this second vision the judgment of God is passed upon the world's kingdom, and all "authority, glory and sovereign power" are given to the "son of man," whom we recognize as Jesus.
Man's View, God's View: I wrote a moment ago that the most obvious point to be made about the vision of the four beasts is that it parallels the vision of the statue, and this is true. But it is also obvious that although the two accounts are parallel, they are nevertheless not presented from the same perspective. On the contrary, the perspectives are radically different. In the first the outlook is quite human, the way a man or woman might look at these great empires. In the second the perspective is God's. It tells us how God views the world's kingdoms.
How does man view the world's kingdoms? Well, he is impressed, for the most part. He thinks of them as glorious--differing in splendor, to be sure, but nevertheless all worthy of some degree of honor. He is enamored of them. On occasion he is seduced by the secular political power. He sees the state as the greatest of all good and as an end in itself. How does God view earth's kingdoms? A mixed answer must be given at this point. It is mixed because, on the one hand, God has created and authorized the secular authorities, as Romans 13 indicates ("The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves" [vv. 1-2]). But on the other hand, the state is generally corrupt and therefore aptly described as beast like, which is what the vision of beasts in Daniel 7 does.
From God's point of view the state is not so much a noble, glorious thing as it is an animal that conquers, devours, and tears those subject to it. What is more characteristic of the kingdoms of this world's history: the properly functioning state of Romans 13 or the corrupt, devouring state of Revelation 13? It would be nice if we could point confidently to Romans 13. Unfortunately, honesty compels us to admit that the kingdoms of this world have often been terrible and ferocious and richly deserve judgment.
By comparing the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2 and the vision of Daniel in Daniel 7, we must also admit that the latter is the way God seems most often to view them.
Who Rules History? Not only does the vision of the four beasts indicate how God regards the supposedly glorious kingdoms of this world. It also reveals a glimpse of that kingdom which truly is glorious, in whose light all the imagined achievements of men and movements of history are to be evaluated. In this area the visions convey several important ideas.
1. God rules in history. This is an obvious point and one that has already been seen several times in Daniel. Indeed, it is the chief message of the book. When Nebuchadnezzar set up his great golden statue in the plain of Dura, he did so in defiance of God who had said that Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom would pass away and be succeeded by another, even though it was glorious enough in human terms to be described as a head of gold. Nebuchadnezzar said in effect, "My kingdom is an everlasting dominion that will never be destroyed" (cf. Daniel. 7:14). But his kingdom was destroyed--by Cyrus the Persian--because it is the decree of God and not the desire of man that rules history. In Daniel 5, when Belshazzar at his great feast defiled the vessels of God taken from the temple in Jerusalem, he too was saying, "I determine my own history." But he was wrong! God numbered his days and brought them to an end. God weighed him and declared that he was found wanting. God divided his kingdom, giving it to the Medes and Persians. This is the point made in Daniel's vision. The bestial empires of world history may roar and frighten for a time. They may crush kingdoms weaker than they are. But in the end, all will be brought to judgment and the kingdom of God's Anointed alone will be established. This is because God, and not mere human beings, is in charge.
You must apply this personally. If you are in a position of power and influence, you are in danger of thinking that the power you exercise somehow flows from you because of the exceptional person you are. If you are wealthy, you are in danger of thinking that your wealth is self-generated--that you are wealthy because you are better than other people. The same danger exists if you are good-looking or have a natural way with people or a talent that is in much demand.
None of these things comes from yourself. Rather, all are God's gift to you, and he can both give them and take them away. He can raise a person up, and he can bring that one down. He does! He does it constantly. The truth that God rules history may also be applied in a comforting way. To think of that section of our Lord's sermon on the Mount of Olives shortly before his arrest and crucifixion in which he gave his disciples a forecast of things to come. There will be many false Christs ("antichrists") who will deceive many, he said. There will be wars and rumors of wars. There will be widespread apostasy as many turn from the faith. People will hate and betray one another. Wickedness will increase. Indeed, at the very end "the abomination that causes desolation"--a clear reference to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11 will appear. It will usher in a time of "great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again" (Matt. 24:21). Still, in spite of this great turmoil that will cause the hearts of many to shake with fear, Christ's words to his disciples are words of comfort. "See to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come" (v. 6).
How is it that Jesus can tell his own not to be alarmed in such circumstances? False Christs? Wars? Apostasy? Hatred? Betrayal? Wickedness? How can we not be troubled so long as we have hearts to feel and minds to grieve with those who are suffering? The answer--the only possible answer--is that, in spite of these things, God is in control of history and will yet work all things out in accordance with his just and all-wise plan for humanity. As Daniel shows, in the end the wicked will be judged and the saints will reign with Jesus.
2. The kingdom of Jesus Christ will triumph over the kingdoms of this world and will endure forever. This idea was present in the vision of the statue given to Nebuchadnezzar, for in that vision a rock not made with human hands struck the statue and destroyed it, after which it grew to be a large mountain that filled the earth. But there is a new element here, and that is the personal rule of God's Anointed, described as being "like a son of man." it is important to note that this is the very phrase picked up by Jesus and used over and over as a title for himself. Indeed, he used it in the Olivet discourse just a few verses after his reference to Daniel, saying, "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:27). There are other references to the coming of this Son of Man in Daniel's prophecy.
3. The saints of the Most High will reign with Jesus. In the interpretation of this vision in the latter half of Daniel 7, it is said that the saints will he persecuted by the king who is the little horn (w. 24-25); but he will be destroyed, and the "sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High" (v. 27). To my knowledge this is the first occurrence of this idea in the Bible--that the saints will rule with Jesus and not merely that Jesus will himself reign. It is an astonishing truth, but a very practical one. One practical application is made by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-11. In those verses Paul is concerned with the practice of the Corinthian Christians of going to law against one another. He argues, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?" (v. 2). It is a powerful argument. If we are to rule with the Lord Jesus Christ one day, we should be able to show something of the wisdom and justice of his rule now-and not have to appeal to unbelievers to settle our internal disputes. More than that, we should be models of integrity, compassion, love, honesty, and wisdom in our dealings with other men and women.
There is this application also. In 2 Timothy 2:12, Paul says, "If we endure, we will also reign with him." The context has to do with our remaining faithful to the Lord in difficult times. So it is in the nature of a warning as well as an encouragement. We can be encouraged to endure now because we know that one day we will reign with Jesus. That can lift our spirits and give us a renewed determination to fight on. It is also a warning since our reigning with Christ later seems to depend on our endurance now. It is the same thing Jesus meant when he said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matt. 24: 12-13). Are you enduring? Will you be standing firm when Christ returns? You may ague that this is a tough age in which to be faithful, and that is true. But it was tough for Daniel; the empires were in political and moral decline in his day. And it was tough for Paul, who makes these applications for us; the Roman Empire of the first Christian century was particularly decadent. It has always been tough for God's people. But those who truly are his people persevere-as they look forward to Christ's reign and to reigning with him. (from James M. Boice, Daniel, Baker Books, 1989)
Note: Ray Stedman's views on the first half of Chapter 7 differ from the usual "historical view" held by most commentators. For that reason James M. Boice's notes have been given above. Ray's sermons on Daniel date from1969 and are on line.
THE WORLD MENAGERIE: by Ray C. Stedman (Daniel 7:1-14)
Scripture is given to us that we might understand what is happening in our world and what God is doing in the course of history. There is nothing more helpful in this respect than to give attention to the great outlines of future events foretold in various prophetic passages of the Bible. So far in this series we have been looking at the second chapter of Daniel, but today we turn to the next prophetic section, Chapter 7. There are certain introductory matters that are given to us in the beginning of the chapter that help us to understand the background of it. They are gathered up in the first verse.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, and told the sum of the matter. (Daniel 7:1)
This places the time of the vision as occurring toward the end of the Babylonian empire. It was in the first year of Belshazzar, who was the last king of Babylon. This ties in closely with the account in the fifth chapter, where Belshazzar made a great feast and handwriting appeared on the wall and that night the kingdom was taken by the Medes and the Persians. This vision then occurs perhaps thirty or thirty-five years after the great dream image that was recorded in Chapter 2. This time it is Daniel that has a dream and with the dream come certain visions.
There are three separate visions recounted. One runs from Verse 2 through Verse 6, the vision of the three beasts that arise out of the sea. From Verse 7 through Verse 12 is a second vision which involves a fourth beast and also the Ancient of Days. Verses 13-14 involve still a third vision. Daniel sees a most remarkable person who is presented to the Ancient of Days. This is one of the clear instances in the Old Testament where we have a pre-incarnate view of Jesus Christ.
Then, beginning with Verse 15, there is a general interpretation of these visions. From Verse 19 through to the end of the chapter the angel concentrates upon the remarkable fourth beast, as of great significance to us. The structure of the chapter seems to follow the same general division of Chapter 2, the great dream image which Nebuchadnezzar saw: There are four divisions of history, finally ending at the invasion of earth by God and establishment of his kingdom. In Chapter 2 there came a stone cut out of the mountain without hands that smote the image on its feet and destroyed all the kingdoms of men. In this chapter, it is the Ancient of Days who sends the Son of Man to establish his everlasting dominion upon earth.
Because these two chapters seem to follow the same general pattern, most of the interpreters of Chapter 7 view the four beasts that open the chapter as picturing the same nations as the four divisions of the dream in Chapter 2, i.e., Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and a fourth empire beginning with Rome but extending clear down to the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is what is called the "historical" interpretation of Chapter 7, which says that most of it lies in the past and only the fourth beast concerns us in the present. There are great Bible teachers who support that view, and though I am less than the least of the prophets, I, too, for many years held the same view. But let us turn to this vision of the beasts in Daniel 7 and see why I rather think it pictures conditions among the nations which exist just before the return of Jesus Christ. In doing so we shall not view this as a telescope, looking down the long course of history from Daniel's day till now (you get that in Chapter 2), but this is more like a zoom camera which comes right in upon the events of the last days. If we are drawing near to these last days, these events will intensely concern us. Notice, first, that a certain locale is marked out for us in which these events are to occur:
Daniel said, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea." (Daniel 7:2)
The great sea is always, in Scripture, the Mediterranean Sea. You will find many verses which establish that clearly, from many parts of the Scripture. It is the great sea that forms the western boundary of Israel. Daniel saw the four winds of heaven blowing upon and stirring up or creating a tumult, in this great sea. Thus, the locale of these visions centers upon the Mediterranean and involves an apparent struggle for the mastery of the Mediterranean area. Daniel goes on to say,
"And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another." (Daniel 7:3)
It is apparent from what Daniel has said that the four beasts stand for nations which in some way relate to the great struggle which shall occur in the Mediterranean area. The nations involved are seen as beasts, not as parts of a man, as was true in Chapter 2. This is because this dream presents God's view of the nations. In Chapter 2 it is Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and he saw the nations as man sees them, in their outward glory, pomp, and circumstance. But here we have God's view. Interestingly enough, wherever God views the nations they are almost always described as beasts. Surely it is an apt description. You can hear them growling, snarling and snapping at one another even today. Read the accounts in the newspapers, or listen to a session of the United Nations and you will hear them reacting to one another very much as beasts. The first beast is described.
"The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand upon two feet like a man; and the mind of a man was given to it." (Daniel 7:4)
What shall we make of this first beast? According to the historical view, this is Babylon, the very nation in which Daniel was living at the time of his dream. But there are several things that indicate that this is not a proper explanation of this first beast:
First, the date of the vision is against this interpretation. It occurred in the first year of Belshazzar who was the last king of Babylon. Yet Daniel sees the beast as coming up out of the sea, indicating a future event. Historically, Babylon had already long since been established and it seems hardly likely that Daniel would see a vision of the future which would include that which had already taken place.
Also, the language of the chapter suggests that this is not merely a repetition of Chapter 2. One of the remarkable things about the book of Daniel is that the section from Chapter 2 through Chapter 7 is written in a different language than the rest of the book. The remainder is in Hebrew, as is the rest of the Old Testament. But this section appears in Aramaic, which is a closely related language to Hebrew. It was the language Jesus spoke when he was here on earth. It is about as different from Hebrew as Norwegian is from Swedish. Apparently the section is written in Aramaic because it pertains to the Gentile nations and not to the Jews.
Chapter 7 is the close of that Aramaic section, as Chapter 2 was its beginning, and it seems hardly likely that we would find in Chapter 7 a repetition of the meaning of the dream in Chapter 2, when the whole section is addressed to the same people and written in the same language. Thus the language rather confirms the idea that Chapter 7 is a different interpretation.
Third, there is nothing in the history of Babylon that corresponds to what is said here about the first beast. The usual interpretation is that the reference to wings being plucked off and the beast made to stand on its two feet, with the mind of a man being given to it, is usually explained as a reference to Nebuchadnezzar's insanity. Previously in Daniel we are told that Nebuchadnezzar became mad and for seven years lived out in the field as an animal. His kingdom was taken away from him for that period of time because of the pride of his heart. But at the end of the seven-year period his sanity returned and he was restored to his throne. But the interesting thing is that all of that happened at least twenty years before this vision was given to Daniel. Again it seems most unlikely that this would refer to a past event.
It rather seems to symbolize a strange decline of power on the part of a nation to be involved in a struggle for the mastery of the Mediterranean, at a time, as we learn from the rest of the vision, in the days immediately preceding the coming of Jesus Christ again to earth. The decline of power is represented by the wings being plucked off the beast and then a switch is made to intellectual or moral achievement rather than military might.
When I read this, and thought of it as something that might be contemporary, I could not help but be struck by the remarkable parallelism to the course of the British Empire since World War II. I do not claim that this is the interpretation of this symbolism because prophecy is not given to us that we might prophesy, it is rather given to indicate major trends. But if we are living in the last days we may possibly expect to recognize the fulfillment of this. Certainly the British Empire has long been symbolized by a lion, and the wings, of course, indicate speed and power. But in the vision the wings are plucked off, and thus a change occurs in the course of the history of this nation. It turns from being a military power to an intellectual power. This is remarkably close to what we are seeing happening to the British Empire in our day. We have all witnessed one of the unusual events of history in that quite gradually, but before our eyes, British military prestige has declined all over the world. Britain is now changing to a nation that is stressing intellectual achievements.
You can imagine my surprise and astonishment in reading the writings of Sir Robert Anderson, who was for many years head of Scotland Yard during the reign of Queen Victoria. He was also a noted prophetic student who brought all his marvelous investigating ability to bear upon the solving of prophetic problems. I discovered that in his book, The Coming Prince, written on the book of Daniel, there was a most amazing statement. Commenting on this first beast of Daniel 7, he says:
May not the opening portion of this vision refer to the gigantic struggle which must come some day for supremacy in the Mediterranean which will doubtless carry with it the sovereignty of the world? The lion may possibly typify England, whose vast naval power may be symbolized by the eagles' wings. The plucking of the wings may represent the loss of her position as mistress of the seas.
That amazing statement was made in the days when England was at the zenith of her power as a maritime nation. In the days of Queen Victoria the British fleet was in control of the oceans of the world. Her present decline and change of character certainly suggests a possible explanation of the first beast. Let us go on and see if any of the rest fits this theory. We have next brought before us the second beast,
"And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side; it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, 'Arise, devour much flesh.'" (Daniel 7:5)
The historical view has generally taken this to mean the Medo-Persian empire, which followed Babylon upon the scene of history. But there are several striking things that are against that:
First, in the eighth chapter we find that the Medo-Persian empire is specifically named and appears in the form of a beast, but the beast is not a bear, but a great ram. It seems to me unlikely that the Scripture would employ two symbols of animals for the same empire, one time a bear, and in the next chapter, a ram.
Second, we are told here that the bear was raised up on one side. This has usually been taken to indicate the division between the Medes and the Persians, with the Persians being dominant. But several Hebrew scholars indicate that what is really said here is not, "raised up on one side," but what is really said about this bear is that "it made for itself one dominion." That is a closer, more literal translation of the Aramaic.
If this power is recognizable today it is much more likely that this pictures for us the Soviet Union, which is made up of many republics joined together, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the U.S.S.R. It has had as its symbol from the earliest times a bear, and is engaged as we see today in a struggle for Mediterranean supremacy.
Further, it has fulfilled what is reported here about it. The beast was told, "Arise, devour much flesh. " Nothing is more striking than the way the Soviet Union has reached out around the world and encompassed many peoples by conquest and propaganda and thus has literally devoured much flesh.
Now if you ask about the three ribs, I confess to you that I cannot identify them. Perhaps a more careful study of the U.S.S.R. might divulge what this symbolism represents. Some have suggested it might refer to the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which, unlike satellite nations, are now an integral part of the Soviet Union. I do not at all suggest this in a dogmatic fashion, but I do think it is worth considering. The third beast appears in Verse 6:
"After this I looked, and lo, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back; and the beast had four heads; and dominion was given to it." (Daniel 7:6)
Historically this is taken to be the kingdom of Alexander the Great, the Grecian empire. But again, we have the Grecian empire clearly named in Chapter 8 and depicted as a beast, but not as a leopard; it is there a he-goat with a notable horn between his eyes, as we will see when we come to Chapter 8. The historical view draws great significance from the four heads of the beast which, it is said, refer to the fact that when Alexander died his kingdom was divided among his four generals. This is historically true, but the interesting thing is that this beast is seen to have four heads from its very beginning. In Chapter 8 it is clearly indicated that the four divisions of Alexander's kingdom occur after his death, but here the four heads appear on the beast from its very beginning in the struggle for Mediterranean mastery.
I am tempted to view this as possibly depicting Israel, especially because of the four wings which speak of rapidity in striking, the ability to move quickly in military power. After the Six-day War who can deny that Israel has this kind of power? But at present I cannot explain the four heads. It does suggest a junta, or perhaps a coalition government. It might possibly be modern Greece, which does operate under a junta. Or it may be a nation yet to appear as a Mediterranean power which is not visible to us as vet: perhaps it is there now but not identifiable.
At any rate we have clearly here three great nations, national powers, which struggle for Mediterranean mastery. They are not successive, although the prophet describes them successively; they seem to appear contemporaneously, and they struggle for the mastery of the great sea. In Verses 7-8 we have a second vision: The fourth beast is brought before us, and the rest of the chapter centers on this.
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrible and dreadful and exceedingly strong; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue, with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." (Daniel 7:7-8)
This is now the central theme of the chapter. The remainder of the chapter focuses upon this fourth beast. There are several noteworthy things about it immediately visible:
First, the mention of iron ties it to the iron kingdom of Chapter 2, which is the fourth empire to occupy leadership in the affairs of the world. It began with the Roman Empire, which was clearly marked by an iron quality. Also, it is described as breaking in pieces and crushing all opposition and stamping it underfoot. This is markedly similar to what was said about the iron kingdom in Chapter 2. Perhaps what is said about stamping the residue with its feet, would indicate that this beast in some way subdues the other three beasts and takes over their power. That may well be what is meant when a little horn, the eleventh one that comes up, plucks up three of the other horns before it. We might possibly identify those as the first three beasts.
Nevertheless it is clear that this fourth beast has one remarkable feature about it -- it has ten horns. These ten horns correspond to the ten toes of the image in Chapter 2. We are told there that in the days of those [ten] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. Now we have a beast with its ten horns, and it is clearly a coalition of ten nations which unite together to give their power to one. An eleventh one, joining them later, overpowers three of the original ten horns (and as I have suggested, these may possibly be the first three beasts) and becomes the dominant power of earth. It makes its appearance by joining the struggle for Mediterranean mastery.
There are further details on this in the book of Revelation. One of the remarkable things about the Bible is the way it ties together. Though the book of Revelation was written some six hundred years after the book of Daniel, there are most remarkable parallels which tie these two books together. We have seen this before but it may be helpful to note some further details. In Revelation, John the apostle says:
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns, and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. (Revelation 13:1-2a)
Do you see the similarity? He gathers up the characteristics of the first three beasts in Daniel 7, the lion, the bear, and the leopard, and they appear as features of this great beast which John sees in Revelation 13. This suggests again that in some way the fourth beast seems to amalgamate (conquer, perhaps) the other three beasts. Notice also, in Chapter 17 of Revelation, certain other interpretation given to us about the beast John sees:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who is seated upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the dwellers on earth have become drunk.' And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:1-3)
This is clearly the same beast we saw in Revelation but notice something else. The symbolism here is remarkable. This great harlot, standing for the false church (not of any one denomination but false religion -- false Christianity as it exists among all denominations today) is seen to be seated first upon many waters, and then, when John gets a closer view he sees her seated upon a beast with seven heads and ten horns. The waters, therefore, represent the same thing that the beast does. In this same chapter we have the waters interpreted for us. In Verse 15, we are told:
And he said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues." (Revelation 17:15)
Many peoples, multitudes of them, nations joining together, and also various languages represented among them; all of which agrees with what we have seen before in Daniel, that this fourth kingdom, the fourth beast of Chapter 7, is made up of many nations, a Western empire of nations, joining together in a great confederacy to move as a unit in its final form. It is made up of peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues and yet, in its final form, it is headed up by ten kings or kingdoms which, as we are told in Verses 12-14, unite together.
"And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and give over their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:12-14)
That gives us a clear indication of the time in which this is to occur. It is immediately preceding the appearance again of Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb who conquers the nations of earth. Now we return to Daniel 7, where we shall look very quickly and briefly at the second part of Daniel's vision, the vision of the Ancient of Days.
"As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.
"I looked then because of the sound of the great words which the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time." (Daniel 7:9-12)
What a remarkable vision! It is very similar. you will notice, to the vision recorded in Revelation 4 and 5, where John looked into heaven and saw a judgment scene with God seated upon a throne, and twenty-four elders on thrones around him. They, too, were passing judgment upon the affairs of earth, just as Daniel sees it here, with great uncounted hosts of angels waiting upon God's word. God is in the midst of his council, and as the council debates the matters of earth, sentence is passed upon this blasphemous horn, the last ruler of the fourth kingdom, this horn which had "eyes like a man, and a mouth speaking great things." We will see more of him in our next study together. Then Daniel is shown the One who is chosen to execute the judgment.
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like the son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)
Who is this "Son of Man"? Who else could it be than the Lord Jesus, the One who is seen also in the opening chapters of Revelation as possessing all power in heaven and on earth and who takes the seven-sealed book from the hands of the One seated upon the throne? He is acknowledged there as the only one in the history of mankind who is worthy to open the book and to unfold the seals. Now here he comes with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days.
Perhaps this is the passage the Lord Jesus had in mind when he addressed the chief priests at the time he was brought before them and was charged with blasphemy. He told them that the days would come when they would see "The Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven," (Matt 26:64, Mark 14:62). He was referring to this passage in which Daniel had predicted that great event. What can we make of all this?
Surely there is hardly any comment needed. It is obvious that God's intent is to allow sinful humanity to run its course until all that is hidden underneath, the evil pretensions of the human heart, are brought out and revealed in the conduct of men toward one another. When history reaches its lowest ebb, when the sin of man breaks forth in its most vulgar and most evil forms, then God intends to intervene once again. Now this is absolutely sure. We must settle on this. This is not a mere vagary of Scripture; it is the central teaching of the Word of God. We have as authority to teach this, not only the prophets who spoke of old, but also the apostles of the New Testaments and, even more importantly, the direct testimony of Jesus Christ himself. He quotes the book of Daniel and enlarges upon these things. He gives the same picture as Daniel concerning his return. He says, "The Son of Man shall come in his glory with all his angels with him," (cf, Matt 25:31). Then his throne will be established and all nations shall gather before him. He gives us that same picture in Matthew 24 and 25.
In other words, if this is not the outline which history will follow, the mold into which it is poured, then Christianity is a fraud. If events are finally going to take another shape, then we have been following a delusion and we would be much better off if it were done away with. But the basis of our faith is the veracity of these passages. We believe God intends to fulfill them exactly as described.
What does that mean to you as an individual? What does it mean, that God is not going to permit man to work out his problems, ultimately, and find the solutions he desires? Instead he will demonstrate that man has no capacity to do so. Man cannot work these problems out on his own. There is no way that it can be done. It is only as he relates to the God who made him, and who understands him, and welcomes again the intervention of God into his life, that any kind of human problem can be worked out.
Is that not the teaching of prophecy? What other conclusion can we draw from this, than that God himself intends to demonstrate it in the course of history? In our day we are seeing a remarkable struggle for supremacy developing in the Mediterranean. Every knowledgeable eye is upon that struggle. It is admitted everywhere today that the Mideast crisis is the most serious crisis our world faces, far greater in its possible impact than the Vietnamese struggle.
Is this crisis laying the groundwork for the appearance of these great nations Daniel saw? Who can say? I do not say it is the fulfillment of it, but I say that events are clearly heading in that direction and that the movements we see today are producing the final form pictured here. We can be confident that, as history unfolds, it will follow the pattern that Daniel, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, and the prophets and apostles have outlined for us.
All of this should give us confidence in the Word of God. It should make us aware that God is in control of history. It should make us realize that we have to rethink the value of our lives in terms of these events, that we must ask ourselves continually the question, "Where is my influence being put, where is the impact of my life?" Is it all wrapped up with things that shall be blown away with the wind? Or is it involved in that which God intends to establish with men? Am I an instrument of his working, or am I in direct opposition to what God is doing in the world today? All these things are given to us in order that we might evaluate life, ourselves, and the world around us. May God help us, as we face these great revelations, to understand ourselves more thoroughly.
THE COMING CAESAR, by Ray C. Stedman (Daniel 7:15-28)
We are considering together the remarkable predictions of the prophet Daniel dealing with the events on earth just before the return of Jesus Christ to establish his kingdom. I must emphasize that in these studies our part is not to prophesy but to interpret. We can make no certain timetable of events. Although there are many signs of our day which make us feel that the events of Daniel 7 may occur within the lifetime of any of us here, nevertheless we have to recognize also that these events may be delayed for several centuries. No one can predict with exactness as to time.
As the title of our series suggests, this is an outline of the future. All the prophets do is touch upon the highlights of history, but it is impossible to tell how much time elapses between the events that are predicted. This is clearly evident in the Scriptures. Although there are certain time schedules given, they concern themselves with very limited areas and begin only after certain precise events have occurred. We shall see one of these time schedules in this seventh chapter of Daniel, but in general there is no tight chronology on these matters.
Let us turn now to the prediction of one of the great figures of all time, foretold in many places in the Scripture, and even by Jesus himself. All that we have seen in Daniel so far, in some sense, has been leading to the revelation of this strange and sinister being, who is called in the Scriptures, the Antichrist. We shall cover the last half of the seventh chapter of Daniel which falls into three natural divisions. There are, first, in Verses 15-18, a general interpretation of the strange beasts which Daniel saw in his vision; Verses 19-22 recapitulate what we have already seen concerning the fourth beast of the series; then from Verse 23 through the rest of the chapter there is a specialized interpretation of the fourth beast. Let us look now at the first division:
"As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious and the vision of my head alarmed me. I approached One of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me, and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 'These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, for ever and ever.'" (Daniel 7:15-18)
For the first time in this chapter we learn the personal reaction of the prophet to this strange series of night visions. He is understandably alarmed and puzzled by them. He sees them as portending certain tremendous events to come though he does not know how soon, and he is puzzled as to what their meaning may be. We learn here of the presence of an interpreting angel to whom Daniel comes to ask about these events. In Chapter 9 we are told whom this angel is. There Daniel tells us that he is Gabriel, the very same angel who was later sent by God to announce the birth of Jesus to both Joseph and Mary, as recorded in the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke. Gabriel seems to have some special responsibility as interpreter and announcer of events, and he appears here in that capacity to Daniel.
There are two things that Gabriel highlights in this strange vision of the four beasts arising out of the sea. One is that the four beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. Now the phrase, "shall arise," makes clear that the historical interpretation of this passage -- which links it to the rise of Babylon, followed by Medo-Persia, then by Greece, and then Rome -- is in error, for all four of these are yet to arise after Daniel saw the vision. We know from the first verse of this chapter that Daniel saw the vision almost at the close of the Babylonian empire. Rather than just arising, it had already been world ruler for a great many years. That helps to confirm what we saw last time, that this is a vision of four great nations, all contemporaneous, occupying the Mediterranean area just before the return of Jesus Christ. The vision concerns, therefore, the last days of Gentile rule.
The second thing the angel highlighted is that the ultimate end is the establishment of the promised kingdom of God. History does not end in destruction; it goes on to reconstruction. This final kingdom was decreed by the Ancient of Days (another name for God himself), and, in this strange vision in Verses 13-14, to whom world dominion is granted. Unquestionably, this is one of the places where we have in the Old Testament a clear presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Linked with him is a group of people called "the saints of the Most High." This is a new element. The angel adds in the interpretation that which was not mentioned in the vision itself. These saints of the Most High are to receive the kingdom. Notice they do not take it themselves. It is the Son of man who comes and takes the kingdom, but then he gives it to the saints of the Most High who join him in ruling over the earth.
With this as an introduction, we come to the fourth beast. Interest centers now on this strange ten-horned beast that is the fourth of the series which Daniel saw arising out of the sea, and especially the eleventh horn which arises after the first ten. Daniel asks particularly concerning this beast:
"Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrible, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze; and which devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet; and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up and before which three of them fell, the horn which had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and which seemed greater than its fellows. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and the judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints received the kingdom." (Daniel 7:19-22)
All of this we have seen before, except for one new element which is added by Daniel. He says that the horn which grew up "made war with the saints and prevailed against them." This had not been included in the vision. From it we learn that the time of these four nations arising together will be a time of great and intense religious persecution, a time when war will be made against the saints, and quite successfully. The beast will prevail against them. Doubtless this links closely with what Jesus himself says, as recorded in Matthew 24, speaking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives just before his crucifixion:
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come." (Matt 24:9-14)
I tie these passages together in order that you may see that this is not merely an obscure prediction from an Old Testament prophet, but has been confirmed to us and re-emphasized by the Lord Jesus himself.
Moving on with the interpretation, in the closing section of this chapter, Verses 23-27, we have the angel's answer to Daniel's inquiry about the fourth beast. It is a detailed explanation of what the strange symbolism means and especially as regards the little horn which comes up last. Each verse of this section covers a stage of interpretation, so I shall take it verse by verse. First, verse 23:
"Then he said, 'As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms. and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.'" (Daniel 7:23)
This builds upon what we have already learned. We have summarized here the strange course of Roman sovereignty over the earth. The fourth kingdom began with the Roman empire, but, as the angel said to Daniel, it would be different from all other kingdoms. It is different because it is not a single nation dominating a great section of earth but it is a collection of nations. That is what marks the fourth kingdom as distinct. Remember that in Revelation 17 we were told also that the beast which appears there is made up of a multitude of nations and tongues and kingdoms. It is a collection of nations and languages, dominating the world by the power of certain ideals and principles characteristic of it.
Now it is time to ask ourselves some rather revealing questions: Why is it that in the course of history since our Lord's day, all of the world's trade languages have been Western? Beginning with Latin (the language of Rome itself) which superseded Greek as the trade language of the world, we then have the rise of the Spanish empire when Spanish was the trade language. It was replaced by French up to modern times, but now it is English, which is spoken all over the world as the language of commerce, trade, and diplomacy.
Why is it that these universally spoken languages have always been Roman and Western? Why is it that Western dress has become the standard all over the world in our own day! Instead of the dress and cultures of the East, it has been the West which has conquered in this area. Western dress is now standard even throughout the Orient.
Why is it also that Western technology has spread everywhere throughout the world? And why has the spread of Western civilization always resulted in the breaking up of indigenous cultures and has produced internal struggles among nations by industrializing them with all its inevitable accompaniment of congestion, pollution, and the ravaging of natural resources?
Is it not at least possible that this is what is meant by the phrase, "it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces? Surely this is very remarkable in the light of this strange prophecy. It seems quite clear that this fourth kingdom is indeed different from all the others that preceded it and has a strange and impressive effect upon the whole world. In Verse 24 we learn something further:
"As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings." (Daniel 7:24)
Here we have the final form of the fourth kingdom. The two great political changes which Scripture has long anticipated must occur before the return of Jesus Christ in glory, have been: The restoration of the Jews to Palestine which has been predicted for centuries and has now been fulfilled, and the ten-fold division of the Roman earth. It is emphasized in several Scriptures that this is to occur before the return of Jesus Christ.
There is a gradual development of this ten-fold division after it first appears. There are first ten kings who share power together in a confederation of sorts. Then an eleventh comes up, who is rather obscure and unpretentious at the first, but, by this eleventh, three of the first ten are overthrown or amalgamated, and finally all ten unite in giving their power and authority to the eleventh, the "little horn" mentioned here.
Now you cannot read this account without seeing that this "little horn" is an individual. He has, as Daniel said, "the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." He is the final Caesar of the fourth kingdom. The Roman empire began with a series of Caesars who established a norm for dictatorship throughout all history. They symbolize supreme power vested in one individual. The "little horn" mentioned here will be the coming Caesar of the world. Let us read on. In verse 25 we learn more.
"He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time." (Daniel 7:25)
Here is new information that we have not had before. There are four distinct, recognizable, factors that are brought out by the angel about this strange being: First, he blasphemes and opposes God, he "speaks words against the Most High." Other Scriptures elsewhere suggest that he does not begin his career that way but after he comes into world power he begins to blaspheme God.
Second, he persecutes the saints and makes war against them, as Daniel has already been told. He is said here to "wear out the saints of the Most High." The Hebrew word that is used for "wear out" is a most remarkable word. It means literally "to afflict," and always with a mental application. It means, therefore, to afflict mentally, and it very strongly suggests the brain-washing techniques which are now being widely developed, using serums and drugs by which the mind, the thinking, is actually changed. Attempts are thus made to alter the entire character of an individual, through mental exhaustion and the use of mind-changing drugs to literally "afflict mentally" and thus "wear out" the saints.
Third, we read that he shall "think to change the times and the law." Now it is a little difficult to know exactly what it means, to change the times, because this is about the only reference to this activity that is given to us. But it at least suggests the possibility of a calendar revision, an attempt to change the dating of human events. Since this individual is clearly against God and opposed to the things of God, it is quite likely that what he will try to do is to eliminate the designation of human events by the present use of A.D., "in the year of our Lord," thus dating them from the time of Christ. It is apparently an attempt to change history and date it from some other event, thus eliminating the days of Christ as the hinge of history.
We read that he also attempts to change the law. This is not, laws, plural; it is singular, the law, which either implies the constitutions by which nations are basically governed, or, much more likely, an attempt to disregard natural law, to ignore the fundamental law of life, e.g., laws of sex, laws of society, laws of economics, etc. All this highlights the brashness of a man who dares to think of himself as the incarnation of all that men believe about God, and is thus able to change fundamental and basic law.
The last thing given to us here is that his time of power is limited. "They shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time." Elsewhere in Daniel we see what is meant by "a time." Nebuchadnezzar, in Chapter 4, was afflicted with insanity for "seven times." By that is meant seven years, so a "time" is a year. If we take a time, two times, and half a time, and add them together we have three and a half years. This is in exact agreement with predictions elsewhere in Scripture which limit the time of Antichrist's power to twelve hundred and sixty days, in one case, and in another, forty-two months, each of which is exactly the same period as three and a half years. These other passages were given at a widely differing period of time. thus confirming this limitation of power. It would be helpful at this point to see the parallelism which exists between Daniel and Revelation. In Revelation 13 we can see that the strange beast that John saw rising up out of the sea is closely parallel to what Daniel describes.
"And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw as like a leopard, its feet like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth." (Revelation 13:1-2a)
John's beast gathers together all the characteristics of the first three beasts of Daniel's vision. Now let us go on in Revelation 13:
"And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words..." (Revelation 13:5a)
See how clearly that accords with what Daniel says about the horn that had eyes like a man, and a mouth speaking great things. In Revelation we learn that those great things were "haughty and blasphemous words,"
"and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months [which is three and a half years]; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God; blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven." Also it was allowed "to make war on the saints and to conquer them. [No question here as to identity, is there?] And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain." (Revelation 13:5b-8)
Clearly we have an exact identification here with the little horn of Daniel 7. Back in Daniel, we find in the last two verses of the chapter the doom of this beast recorded:
"But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them." (Daniel 7:26-27)
Daniel is told precisely "the court shall sit in judgment," i.e., the heavenly council will pass sentence upon this blasphemous, God-defying man. It is encouraging to see that man's evil is everywhere limited, he can only go so far. Paul gives us further detail on this in Second Thessalonians 2:7:
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders [that is an important word to notice -- miraculous signs are no proof of God-given authentication; they can be satanic], and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
Thus we learn how the beast's dominion shall be taken away and eventually be given to the saints of the Most High. With one voice Scripture points to the collapse of civilization as we know it before the return of Jesus Christ. The evil of man will be permitted to have such complete manifestation that it results in the rise of a single individual to whom all authority in the world is committed. As we look at our own day we are tempted to ask. Where are we in this scene? How close are we to these events? As I have already suggested, we can only be relative in our estimation of that. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to believe that these events are only around the corner. As you know today, even secular writers are predicting the rise of just such an individual. I was interested some time ago in a statement which appears in U.S. News and World Report :
The once optimistic hope of Americans for a well-ordered and a stable world is fading. Expenditures close to a trillion dollars have failed to provide stability. Rather, conditions have worsened. This appraisal indicates that among officials the prevailing view is gaining acceptance that frictions and world problems are becoming too deep seated to be solved, except by a strong hand from someplace.
Sir Winston Churchill. while still Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking in Copenhagen, said this:
The creation of an authoritative. all-powerful world order is the ultimate aim toward which we must strive. Unless some effective world super-government can be brought quickly into action. the proposals for peace and human progress are dark and doubtful.
Everywhere today there are increasing signs, in many dimensions, that we are facing (and soon) an unprecedented world crisis, a crisis which we cannot avoid no matter how hard we try. It will involve not only politics but even the supply of food, the pollution of the atmosphere, and other ecological matters. Many of you have read the reports of Dr. Paul Ehrlich here at Stanford who is working on the problem of population explosion. He was asked recently a question, "In your book you also outlined other ways the planet is deteriorating: pollution of the oceans, pollution of the rivers and lakes (the death of Lake Erie, for example), pollution of the atmosphere, ruination of the land. It seems the world is deteriorating at a rapid rate. Do you agree?" Dr. Ehrlich replied, "That's exactly right. We are now at the stage where, if we have any hope of saving mankind and the world, we have to take immediate and drastic action on all kinds of fronts. We have got to start doing all the right things at this moment, just to give ourselves a decent fighting chance. But even this won't insure salvation."
With some misgivings, I want to share with you a remarkable prediction by the famous prophetess of our day, Jeane Dixon. I want to make it clear that I do not endorse Jeane Dixon. I believe that the source of her knowledge is demonic and therefore cannot be trusted, although it has an amazing record of accuracy. That is part of what constitutes it so deceptive. We must remember that the Scriptures make clear that the powers of darkness have a vested interest in the appearance and the ultimate acceptance of a world ruler, therefore they will be active to prepare the way for the coming and acceptance of such a one. One of Jeane Dixon's most startling predictions is this:
A child born somewhere in the Middle East shortly after 7:00 A.M. on February 5, 1962, will revolutionize the world. Before the close of the century he will bring together all mankind in one all-embracing faith. This will be the foundation of a new Christianity, with every sect and creed united through this man, who will walk among the people to spread the wisdom of the almighty power. Mankind will begin to feel the great force of this man in the early 1980's, and during the subsequent years the world as we know it will be reshaped and revamped into one without wars or suffering. His power will grow greatly until 1999, at which time the peoples of this earth will probably discover the full meaning of the vision.
Her interpretation of this man is to see him as the one great hope of the world and the answer to the prayers of men. The fact that she sees this individual as a blessing to mankind helps to confirm our suspicion that the source of her information is demonic. For in the light of Scripture, this coming world ruler is no blessing at all, although he will first appear in that light. But he is not really a blessing; he is the greatest the world has ever known though he will appear to offer a way out of world chaos. Distrust the dates that are given in Miss Dixon's predictions because we are no more authorized to set dates for the appearance of Antichrist than we are for the appearance of Jesus Christ.
But one thing is clear, and I do not think this can be questioned. We do not today (and probably never shall) live in what we could call normal times. The world is fast approaching a crisis. All voices agree together, secular and sacred alike, that we are coming to an unprecedented time of trouble in the world, and we shall never again see anything that could be regarded as normal times. Dr. Ehrlich tells us that in the 1970's the world will begin to experience great famines, which are absolutely inescapable. He sees no solution, no way to avoid the great famines that will decimate whole nations in the 1970's. This, along with the increasing pollution of atmosphere, the congestion of our cities, the rise and spread of violence, all points to the soon appearing of some remarkable individual who will seem to offer a way out.
My question to us is this: What should we Christians do in view of all this? Or better, perhaps, the question should be: What should we Christians be? You remember that is the very thing Peter asks after he describes the culmination of human events. He says, "What manner of persons ought you to be in the light of these things?" (cf, 2 Peter 3:11). The Scripture tells us that we are not children of darkness. That is, these things are not to come upon us unexpectedly, nor are we to act like others with regard to them. We are children of light, therefore we ought to act in the light of what is revealed about these events.
It seems to me this forces us to ask ourselves some questions. I would like to suggest a few which I think we ought to take very seriously in view of the trends of our day, and in the light of our turbulent times and the power of these prophetic Scriptures. Surely it is fair to ask ourselves, Should we seek to continue constantly raising our standard of living in the light of these coming events? Is it really fair, in the face of a world which is soon to be knowing widespread famine and starvation, to continue to add to our standard of living?
I am not trying to be negative. I am not one of those who believe that poverty is necessarily a mark of righteousness. But surely that is a fair question to ask in the face of the pressing needs of the world around us. Is it right for us to try to own a third car, a cabin in the mountains, an expensive boat, or other luxuries? I hasten to add that no one has any authority whatsoever to sit in judgment over another in these matters. These are issues which must be settled for each individual only before God. But I do think we ought to settle them in the light of a conscience that, as the Apostle Paul said, seeks to be void of all offense before men. Is it right that we should spend the additional money that is available to most of us today solely on ourselves while the cause of God is languishing in so many ways for lack of funds? Should we not deliberately and voluntarily fore go certain leisure and recreation, recognizing that it is perfectly proper to have normal recreation and leisure, but to use some of the time thus available for just being friends to each other, and showing love and concern for one another?
Recently at a church board meeting we were discussing the perennial problem that some of the visitors here regard this as a cold church, where you could come for years and learn a lot of truth, but you won't make many friends. Something is wrong if that is the case. We are not properly demonstrating the warmth of Christian love, which must be preeminent above everything else if we belong to Jesus Christ. I know how easily it happens: we are all engulfed in our own programs and schedules. Well, then, let's forget some of the schedules! We need to take more time for friendship and not rush away to things. Let us get to know one another, and be more aggressive in breaking through the natural barriers that keep us from meeting people we haven't met before. Let us manifest the love, concern, and friendship that many of us desire to express toward one another but for one reason or another have not done so.
These are fair questions, are they not? "What manner of persons ought we to be," in the light of these events? We know where we are heading. We see beyond the darkness to the glory of the light that shall dawn. We do not need to be depressed; we do not need to be discouraged; we do not need to be downcast or pessimistic. Nor, on the other hand, should we give way to glowing but unfounded optimism, which so many try to display without reason. Let us rather be realistic. Let us obey the Lord and lift up our heads and rejoice, for God is working out his program. But surely it ought to lay some demand upon us to live, not for ourselves, but for the advance of God's cause in these days. Is that unreasonable? Is it not what these events should devolve upon us? Should we not re-evaluate our lives and our daily activities in the light of these portentous events which are soon to come upon the earth? I leave it to you and your conscience before God.
THE GREAT PROPAGANDIST, by Ray C. Stedman (Daniel 8:1-27)
The eighth chapter of Daniel contains a different kind of little prophecy than any we have seen before. In the other prophetic sections of the book we have had a more or less direct view of future events brought before us Chapter 2 was a long-range telescopic view, looking down the whole range of time beginning with Daniel's own day and running on down to the end beyond our own day. Part of it is now fulfilled and part of it is yet unfulfilled. In Chapter 7 we had what we might liken to a zoom camera approach, which moved in to the events of the last days before our Lord's return, wherein we saw the condition of the earth politically, and especially centering around the Mediterranean Sea. We were stirred to note that events of our own day were perhaps beginning to produce the final shape of things.
But now, in Chapter 8, we see events which were future as far as Daniel was concerned but have since been fulfilled in history. Some three hundred years after the prophet Daniel uttered these words, they were, for the most part, fulfilled. Yet that historic fulfillment of the past becomes in turn a prophecy of a further and greater fulfillment yet to come. This kind of double fulfillment is not unique to the book of Daniel. There are several other places in Scripture where we have it. Perhaps the most familiar to us is in the New Testament, when Jesus, addressing his disciples, predicted the fall of Jerusalem which occurred only forty years later when the Roman armies came in 70 A.D. and took the city. He had predicted that capture most clearly. But, in turn, that historical fulfillment was a picture of a far larger and more savage attack upon Jerusalem which is yet to come, when the nations will again ring the city and Jerusalem will once again fall. At that time its deliverance will be by the return of Jesus Christ again to the Mount of Olives. Thus we have an historic fulfillment which in turn becomes a prediction of another event. That is exactly what we find in the eighth chapter of Daniel.
The chapter falls very easily into two parts. First, there is the vision which the prophet had, and its historic fulfillment It will help us to see how history records the accurate fulfillment of this vision for it will give us added confidence in the word of God. Second we shall look at the future application of this which may well prove to be immediately before us in time.
In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the capital, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision, and I was at the river Ulai. (Daniel 8:1-2)
This gives us the time and locale of the vision. It was two years after the vision recorded in Chapter 7. This new vision came in the third year of Belshazzar while Babylon was yet in power, before the Medes and Persians had come in. Daniel is, either in vision or in person, in the capital of Persia, Susa, and standing by the river Ulai. This seems to indicate that he is about to witness the flow of power from Persia toward the West, which had been predicted clearly in Daniel's previous visions. Now we come to the first part of the visions:
I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the river. It had two horns; and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward; no beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power; he did as he pleased and magnified himself. (Daniel 8:3-4)
We do not need to wonder what this means. In this case we have it clearly interpreted for us by the angel Gabriel, as Daniel indicates a further on.
When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai and it called, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face But he said to me, "Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end."
As he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and set me on my feet He said, "Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation; for it pertains to the appointed time of the end. As for the ram which you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia." (Daniel 8:15-20)
That is very clear and definite is it not? The interpreting angel has identified this great ram as the Medio-Persian empire which was to follow Babylon upon the scene of world power. And yet, though he does definitely identify it historically, he also uses certain suggestive phrases which indicate that there is also to be a far distant fulfillment. For instance, he says that it will apply to "the time of the end," and that phrase is consistently used in Scripture as referring to the end immediately preceding the return of Christ. Also the angel calls it "the latter time of the indignation." The indignation, as used in Scripture, refers to God's indignation over his people Israel. It links with another phrase that appears in the prophets, which designates that period of time which Jesus called "the great tribulation," as "the time of Jacob 's trouble," the time when Israel will again undergo the indignation of God. Finally, one other phrase in Verse 19 speaks of "the appointed time of the end," and this too suggests some further future fulfillment beyond the time of the Medo-Persian empire. Let us now return to the rest of the vision.
As I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the river, and he ran at him in his mighty wrath. I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns; and the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled upon him; and there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. Then the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly; but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. (Daniel 8:5-8)
Again the interpreting angel makes this symbolism clear. In Verses 21-22 it is explained:
"And the he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power." (Daniel 8:21-22)
We know from history that this is a description of the rise of the Grecian empire under Alexander the Great, which to us is ancient history. The brilliant son of Philip of Macedon in his late teens became the leader of his father's armies. He swept through Greece and conquered that area and then challenged the power of Persia. In several great battles he overcame the Persian armies. They were quite unable to stand before him, as this vision depicts. Alexander conquered the lands of Persia and Babylon, then swept south toward Egypt.
There is an interesting footnote to history which comes in here. Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that as Alexander the Great moved toward Egypt with his armies he came near the city of Jerusalem. He threatened to take the city, but when the high priests in Jerusalem knew that Alexander was near they took copies of the book of Daniel and went out to meet him. Josephus tells us that they showed Alexander this very prophecy. When Alexander saw that it had been clearly predicted that he would overcome the Persian armies and become the ruler of the world, he decided to spare the city of Jerusalem and instead enriched it. There is no confirmation of this incident from other historians, but it is true that Alexander did not capture Jerusalem but did enrich the city. This may well be one of the earliest and most interesting applications of prophecy to specific events.
Historians know that Alexander the Great went on to Babylon after subduing Egypt and at the age of 33, indulged himself in a great drunken feast with his generals and died of a combination of malaria and acute alcoholism. Though conqueror of the world, he was unable to conquer his own passions. So, at the age of 33 he died, and as this passage indicates, the great horn was broken and four horns rose in its place. These are a picture of the four generals among whom Alexander's kingdom was divided. This is all fulfilled in history. We have still more history:
Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. It grew great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them. It magnified itself, even up to the Prince of the host; and the continual burnt offering was taken a way from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt offering through transgression; and truth was cast down to the g round, and the horn acted and prospered. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to the one that spoke, "For how long is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?" And he said to him, "For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state." (Daniel 8:9-14)
This too has already been fulfilled. We know that one of the four generals of Alexander who shared the division of the kingdom was named Seleucus. He took as his portion the kingdom of Syria including much of Asia Minor, or Turkey, as it is known today. Another of the generals, Ptolemy, took Egypt. These two generals soon had become bitter enemies. History records a longstanding controversy between the two dynasties, Syria to the north of Palestine, and Egypt on the south. They fought back and forth using Palestine as the battlefield for a long period of time.
The eighth king in the dynasty of the Seleucids was a man named Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from about 170 B.C. His capital city was Antioch and was named for him. (Antioch appears in the New Testament as the place where believers were first called Christians, (Acts 11:26).) This man, Antiochus Epiphanes (Epiphanes means "great"). was such a wicked and vicious individual that the Jews nicknamed him "Antiochus Epimanes," a play on his name. Epimanes means "Madman," and it was thus they identified him. He struggled with Egypt as did his predecessors before him and, in the course of his warfare, he conquered Jerusalem. Because he was angered at the Jews for some insult they had given him, he defied the high priests and entered into the sacred temple. That is described here by the phrase, "It [the little horn] magnified itself, even to the Prince of the host [the high priest]."He actually erected a pagan altar in the temple at Jerusalem and offered upon it a sow in sacrifice, an unclean animal. He took the broth of the sow and sprinkled it throughout the sanctuary, thus defiling the whole sanctuary. Then, as a final insult, he erected a statue of Jupiter in the holy place.
This, of course, brought to an end the twice-daily sacrifice called "the continual burnt offering," which Daniel here predicted was to be taken away for a definite period of time. The text says that it shall be taken away for "two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings." Many have misread that to mean twenty-three hundred days; but it does not mean days, and it does not say days. What it refers to is not days, but sacrifices. The continual burnt offering was offered once each evening and once each morning every day, so twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings is eleven-hundred and fifty days, just a little over three years.
Anyone who has read the apocryphal Book of the Maccabees knows, Jewish history records that the offering was taken away for a period of a little over three years. Finally, Judas Maccabaeus and his sons rose in revolt and led the people of Israel to retake Jerusalem, cleansed the sanctuary and restored the offerings at the end of eleven-hundred and fifty days, exactly as predicted. It is all history, but I do not want to dwell on it longer for I want to come to that which has application to us. We might think that this ancient fulfillment ended the matter, were it not for these suggestive phrases of the angel we noted before, and for the fact that the Lord Jesus himself, in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, refers to this very prophecy. In Verse 13 of Daniel 8 we read an unusual phrase, "For how long is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate..." or, more literally, "the abomination of desolation."
In the twenty-fourth of Matthew the Lord Jesus, speaking of a yet coming time, said to the disciples "when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place" (Matt 24:15), then, he said, they would know it is time to get out of the city. Do not waste any time, he urges, do not even go back for your coat, just go, because then shall be great tribulation such as has not been since the world began. Now that was spoken more than one hundred and sixty-five years after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple, so it clearly establishes a yet future fulfillment of this historic event. With that in mind, let us turn to what the angel says about this future fulfillment:
"And at the latter end of their rule, when the transgressors have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people of the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall magnify himself. Without warning he shall destroy many; and he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes; but, by no human hand, he shall be broken. The vision of the evenings and the mornings which has been told is true; but seal up the vision, for it pertains to many days hence." (Daniel 8:23-26)
There are two factors here that mark the time of this fulfillment. Notice, the angel says that it shall be "at the latter end of their rule," i.e., the rulers that would control the area of the country once dominated by Antiochus Epiphanes. It will be in the latter end of their rule. This suggests strongly the reappearance of the nation Syria in history. It is very striking that a nation of Syria did not exist for centuries until 1944 when the French mandate over this area was dissolved and Syria once again appeared as a nation in the midst of the world. Its history as a modern nation dates only from 1944.
Second, we are told here that it would be a time "when the transgressors had reached their full measure." This suggests the final crisis of history when transgression, or, as it is described in other places, corruption and violence, lawlessness, is so widespread and so intense that, as Jesus said in the Olivetti Discourse, it would be once again like the days of Noah. This was the characteristic mark of the days of Noah, widespread corruption and violence over the earth.
At that time a very singular individual appears. According to the description here he has two outstanding personal characteristics. First, he is bold in appearance; "fierce" is the way it is translated in some versions. He has a commanding presence, a very intense personality, with a strong, magnetic appeal to people, thus, bold in his countenance.
Second, he is highly knowledgeable; he has the ability to understand riddles. This does not mean he enjoys conundrums or that he is good at riddle games. This is really a word describing the enigmas of life, the mysteries of life. He is a skilled psychologist, if you like. He understands what makes people tick, why they behave the way they do, and how society is structured. Using this knowledge he is able to influence people powerfully.
There are two methods of his operation revealed to us here. We are told that "his power shall be great." In the there is reference to a footnote here which gives the literal Hebrew. For some reason the revisers left this Hebrew passage out of the text, but in the Hebrew it adds these words, "but not with his power." His power shall be great, but not with his own power. We learn from this that he will exercise derived power, power not his own. He borrows it from another source. But it will be great power, and will result, we are told, in fearful and widespread destruction. Especially will it be aimed against "the people of the saints," those who honor and love God in that day.
Just as we found that the little horn of Chapter 7 (the Roman political ruler who heads the Western confederacy of nations in the last day) was to be identified in Chapter 13 of the book of Revelation as the first beast, so we will find that this little horn of Chapter 8 is also identified in Revelation 13. In Verse 11 of Chapter 13 in Revelation, John says,
Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence [i.e., it has derived power; it derives it from another being], and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. (Revelation 13:11-12)
Here is another individual who exercises power in conjunction with the great political ruler of the last day. Now come back to Daniel, and let us recall the second characteristic of the little horn in Chapter 8.
"By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall magnify himself. Without warning he shall destroy many; and he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes; but, by no human hand, he shall be broken." (Daniel 8:25)
Plainly this man is marked by his ability to control others by deceitful propaganda. He makes deceit to prosper, which is a clear description of propaganda. He is the great propagandist. We are not told exactly how he does it (perhaps by mimeographing his messages and distributing them around!) but he influences many in various ways. If we turn again to Revelation 13 we will find how this accords exactly with the second beast:
It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men [in these days of space stations and nuclear power, this is certainly believable]; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (Revelation 13:13-17)
What a remarkable propaganda accomplishment, by which men are deceived and made to believe something that is not true. The "image" is very significant here. Remember that Antiochus Epiphanes, back in history, defiled the sanctuary by erecting an image of Jupiter. Put these passages together and it appears to me that we have a clear description of what occurs in the last days. There has always been a question among Bible scholars as to which of these two beasts in Revelation 13 is actually the Antichrist. In my judgment, the answer is: The first one.
It is his image, made to be alive, i.e., given a form of life (perhaps this suggests something of what scientists will be able to accomplish in their efforts to produce life), which will be erected by the second beast in the temple to be built in Jerusalem and thus will be the "abomination which makes desolate," which, Jesus said, will be the mark to indicate the beginning of the terrible judgment of God. If that is the case, we can see how these two personages work closely together, the one a great political power whose image appears in the temple to be worshiped as God though he does not personally appear there, but all is done by the agency of the second beast who is the fulfillment of the little horn of Daniel 8.
Now, according to Daniel, "he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes." This can be none other than Jesus Christ himself. He is given the title, King of kings and Lord of lords, and Prince of the kings of the earth, in the New Testament. This second beast, the little horn of Daniel 8, faces, therefore, the same doom as the first beast of Revelation 13. Their mutual fate is described in Revelation 19:
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse [that is Jesus Christ] and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. (Revelation 19:19-20)
Thus "by no human hand he is broken." Daniel and John, writing six hundred years apart, both detail for us these two powerful figures who will deceive and amaze the whole world at the time of the end. Returning to Daniel now, attention is called to the effect this vision had upon Daniel himself.
And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I rose and went about the king's business; but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it. (Daniel 8:27)
There is something highly suggestive here. This great prophet was sickened by what he saw was to happen on earth, but he did not let that stop him; he rose and went about the king's business. When I read that I could not help but think of the words of the Lord Jesus to his disciples when he outlined what would happen in the future. He said to them, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13b KJV), i.e., go about the king's business until the king returns.
Someone said to me the other day, "If I knew for sure that these were the last days, I would live a lot differently than I am." Would you? Well, it should not make any real difference. These events have been possible in any generation since the Lord's first appearance on earth. God could have touched the spring that released the forces that would bring about these events in any generation -- that is why every generation has expected it in its time -- but since the Word of God reveals to us our responsibility in the light of these events, then every single Christian who has ever lived for these two thousand years will be judged as to whether he has taken them seriously or not. Whether it was the actual time of the last days or not does not really make any difference: the forces that ultimately produce these events have been at work in every generation, and the word has been given to us to make clear what our reaction to these should be.
It does not make any difference then whether we live in the actual last days or not; our reaction to this revelation will be what reveals how much we believe God and are faithful. (Source: http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/daniel/)
Resources of Interest:
Marines Encounter History in Babylon, By Marni McEntee, Stars and Stripes, http://ww2.pstripes.osd.mil/article.asp?section=104&article=15296&archive=true.
Babylon Photo Tour (USMC), http://architecture.about.com/library/bl-babylon.htm
Babylon Satellite Imagery, http://www.prophecywatch.com/articles/satellite_photos.htm
Class Notes and mp3 audio: http://ldolphin.org/daniel/