Nations on the World Stage

At the End of the Age


The book of Daniel is key to understanding the 20% of the Bible informing us on things to come in history. In Daniel 2 the great statue indicated successive world powers from that day to the Second Advent: Babylon, Medes and Persians, Greece, Rome (to AD 1917), Rome revived, (2020-2017?). From Daniel 2:

"...Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”

Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king, and said thus to him, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, who will make known to the king the interpretation.”

The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?”Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart. “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. (Daniel 2:14-49)


In 1969 Ray Stedman suggested that the four beasts in Daniel 7 might be four world powers all on stage at the same time, at the end of our age. The insights Ray had 50 years ago can easily be updated to today’s stage set assuming the curtain is ready to be raised for last act and the glorious Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, seven years later. Four entities appearing at the same time constitute a quaternity, such as four points on the compass: N S E W. But Chapter 2 is surely about four empires appearing on history's stage sequentially. Virtually all commentators except for Ray Stedman interpret the four beasts of Chapter 2 as sequential entities in history. Ray was thoughtful and careful so his view is presented here to elicit discussion.

Persian Kings during the Exilic and Postexilic Periods

King

Reign

Scripture

Cyrus

559-530

Ezra 1:1; 4:5; Dan. 5:31—6:28; 9:1; 11:1

Cambyses

530-522

 

Smerdis

522

 

Darius I

521-486

Ezra 5—6; Haggai; Zechariah

Xerxes (Ahasuerus)

486-465

Ezra 4:6; Esther

Artaxerxes I (Artashasta)

465-424

Ezra 4:7-23; chs. 7—10; Nehemiah; Malachi

Darius II

423-404

Neh. 12:22



Daniel Chapter 7

This revelation came to Daniel in the first year of Belshazzar's reign as co-regent of Babylon with his father, Nabonidus, namely, in 553 B.C. It was fitting that this vision of the downfall of world empires should come to the prophet during the reign of the last king of Babylon. God gave it to him 50 years after the similar revelation of the great image in chapter 2.

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, (547 BC)  Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.“And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’
“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

“Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
“Thus he said:

‘The fourth beast shall be
A fourth kingdom on earth,
Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,
And shall devour the whole earth,
Trample it and break it in pieces.
The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.

Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.
‘But the court shall be seated,
And they shall take away his dominion,
To consume and destroy it forever.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

“This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart...” (Daniel 7)

Commentary by Ray Stedman.

Ray Stedman's Conjecture:

Persia (Iran) (succeeds Babylon)

Reading all of Daniel Chapter 7, the emphasis is on the fourth beast, the other three having dropped out. There are good reasons why the traditional interpretation of the four world empires here in Chapter seven are sequential. Ray Stedman simply did not have time to revisit this topic since he only lived until 1992. Yet there will be great world powers on stage at the end of the age we live in now. History is very dynamic and God is in full control of everything that happens.The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

In Isaiah the last invader of Israel from the North is called “the Assyrian” suggesting he is from Persia (today’s Iran) not from Babylon (today’s Iraq).
Persia under Cyrus the Great succeeded Babylon under Belshazzar in BC.

Russia ??

“And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’"

Turkey ? 

“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it."
Europe and the US ? 

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

Commentary by Ray Stedman


Isaiah 45:5-12

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you
(Cyrus), though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.’
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the Lord, have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?
Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’
Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’ ”
Thus says the Lord,
The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
“Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
I have made the earth,
And created man on it.
I—My hands—stretched out the heavens,
And all their host I have commanded.”




Vision of the Ancient of Days


“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

“I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. 

So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. 
But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’

“Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.

“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

“Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.

The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.

‘But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

“This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”


Comments

From Bryce Self:

But you are correct that Daniel 7 is critical—because it was for Jesus Himself. This is where He draws from for His preferred self-designation as “Son of Man” (nobody else ever calls Him that). It was both at the core of both His internal identity and provided the motive and pattern for His outward actions. The future coming of the glorified Son of Man was a constant subject of Christ’s teachings and sayings from the start of His public ministry to His trials before Caiaphas and Pilate.
The subjection of the beasts to Him is a recapitulation and restoration of Adam’s dominion over creation (naming the beasts in Eden), and is where Paul draws from for his numerous expositions on Jesus as the Second Man or Last Adam. This is the fulfillment of the two earliest prophecies on record: the pro-evangelium of Genesis 3 where the Seed of Woman overcomes the ancient serpent and his viperous brood, as well as the dire warning of judgement on the ungodly by the Lord and His saints (“holy ones”) uttered by Enoch the seventh from Adam and reported by Jude the Lord’s brother. And of course, most of the book of Revelation is occupied with the details of the scenes sketched here in Daniel as a summary overview of the End of the Age.

This reflects the fractal, recursive nature of the Biblical revelation —“Line upon line, line upon line; Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Here a little, there a little, With a stammering lip and and a strange tongue will My word to this people,” and “God spoke in many ways and various portions to the fathers by the prophets…”

Several views are given of the same revelation from different perspectives with varying degrees of detail, focus, and highlighting. This is why we have been given four Gospels rather than one. Also a good argument for the identification of the great earthquakes of Revelation narrated separately under the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls. This is simply the manner in which the eternal and infinite God reveals Himself, perhaps of necessity due to our own finite capacity as creatures compounded by our fragmented faculties as fallen humans (even when in process of restoration as believers).

At any time, I would always be leery of contradicting Ray, but he was also quite tentative and undogmatic in stating his proposed identifications for the beasts.
Casting forward as well as back, chapter 8 certainly shows Medeo-Persia and Greece under the symbols of the Ram and Goat. Here is yet another iteration of the same facts— this time up close in a much more restricted view of just these two, in order to relate the immediately upcoming event in much greater detail than before of what awaited the People of God in relation to the world empire in its various expressions. Yet notice that here again, we are dealing with much more, and more enduring, than what the scholars are preoccupied with — Antiochus Epiphanes desecrating the Temple with his pig offering. That was a only a partial and prefiguring, proleptic, historical fulfillment of what will culminate in the deeds of the lawless one at the End of the Age—here again we find both sequence and continuity are married in the meaning of the text.

Perhaps somehow draw Acts 17 into the discussion, Paul’s Areopagus speech about the ordained times and boundaries of the nations being establish for the SOLE purpose that some might come to repentance. The fullness of the Gentiles coming in completes the designed purpose for this current age of grace—the nations will have now served their purpose, and are overthrown to be rebuilt properly under Christ and the resurrected saints during the Millennium.

The current regime in which:

"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him.”

Gives way to the Kingdom of God:

The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

And this is the point of Daniel’s visions, whatever interpretation may be made of the symbolic beasts. 11/25/19.

From Chris Nilsen:

I found Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon, to be helpful. I have some notes at home, but 4th beast will be like no other (ergo, hard to pin tail on this beast right now). 4th beast’s kingdom will be very, very nasty. I was reminded of Reichkommissars for occupied lands in WW2, all reported to Hitler, but had individual traits, all were nasty, they competed for attention, oppressed almost everyone, sent Jews to concentration camps, applied forced labor, stripped lands of raw material, food, anything useful for war effort. Thought of them as being like the 10 kings.

Remember that “sea” also refers to the gentile nations, they are restless and unpredictable for most part. But God is still sovereign.

I guess I forgot my theory that the nastier the kingdom, the shorter it remains on the world scene. Sooner or later the creeps that run the kingdom turn on each other. Stalin was a thug and a criminal, he was taken down (during Purim in 1953 – divine fallout from doctor’s plot !) by a stroke and then his not so nice “colleagues” turned on each other. Beria was murdered. The 4th beast’s kingdom will only last a few years.


Nine messages on Daniel by Ray Stedman in 1969.

Bible.org commentaries on Daniel 

Thomas Constable on Daniel

Email Lambert Dolphin

Created 11/23/19. 11/26/2019.