CHAPTER 2: WORLD POLITICS LEADING
UP TO THE TRIBULATION
1. We might expect great population and military growth in China, if we consider the invading army of 200 million from the East: The number of the mounted troops was 200 million (Rev 9:16). The 6th angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East (16:12).
China recently claimed to be able to raise an army of 200 million.
2. The rise of Russia as a major power is seen in Ezekiel 38,39.
3. The politics in the Tribulation
require Israel to be back in the land and central to world politics.
The final battle is over Israel and Jerusalem. Early in the Tribulation
the antichrist makes a peace treaty with Israel, so there must be Middle-East
tension and pressures on Israel requiring a 'saviour' there. These
situations cannot just appear - the seeds of them must be growing in the
years before the Tribulation.
4. The rise of a Revived Roman Empire is necessary as this becomes the dominant world-power under the antichrist in the Tribulation. The Tribulation sees a Revived Roman Empire (centred in Europe) headed by antichrist making a final bid to establish a One World Government (this is revealed in Daniel and Revelation as we shall see).
THE BOOK OF DANIEL. In order to understand the political situation leading up to the Tribulation and the politics in the Tribulation (especially antichrist’s empire), it is necessary to study the Book of Daniel (the Old Testament counterpart to the book of Revelation), since Revelation builds upon Daniel’s prophecy of the course of the Gentile world-empires ('the Times of the Gentiles'). Daniel 2 and 7 are especially important revelations of the course of the Gentile World-Powers.
We are looking to the Book of Revelation to understand the end-time scenario. It is rooted in Old Testament prophecy, bringing it to completion, like a roof of a building. So to understand Revelation fully, we must know what has come before, especially the Book of Daniel, which is very similar in style. We have already seen how Daniel’s 70 Weeks (9:24-27) are crucial to understanding the prophetic framework and how it predicted the exact time that Jesus would come. Moreover, Jesus’ major prophecy builds upon it (Matthew 24:6,15).
Daniel’s life and ministry bridge the whole 70-year period of Babylonian captivity. He was deported to Babylon in 607 BC, at the age of 16 and hand-picked for government service. He became one of the greatest prophetic mouthpieces to the world concerning God’s purposes. Nine out of twelve chapters concern dreams and visions, showing God’s hand in the affairs of men. Daniel and his three friends were of noble birth, healthy, gifted and bright (1:4). He is one of a very few Bible characters who have nothing negative written about them. He was characterised by faith, prayer, courage, consistency and lack of compromise. His Divine gift of insight brought him into great prominence in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel wrote the Book of Daniel (12:4, Matthew 24:15). This has been contested because it contains such accurate predictions of world-events from 600 to 160BC ! Therefore critics say it must have been written after the events! However God knows what will happen in advance. It is Apocalyptic literature, with similarities to Revelation in its use of obvious imagery and symbolism (see also Ezekiel and Zechariah). This doesn’t mean that it is not meant to be understood, for when a symbol is used the Bible also gives the meaning. It is prophecy to be fulfilled literally once the symbols are correctly interpreted. Symbols are used for the purpose of private communication to believers, who alone can understand it.
‘Daniel’ means ‘God is Judge’ and his book reveals God as Sovereign Ruler and Judge over the kingdoms of the earth (2:20-22, 44; 4:25). Daniel presents a majestic sweep of prophetic history, predicting the rise and fall of empires and the final establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth. Central to this is God’s plan for the restoration of His people Israel. Daniel is written from this point of view. The Times of the Gentiles (Gentile domination of Israel) began with the Babylonian Captivity and Daniel reveals the course of the Kingdoms that have temporary dominion over Israel until the Messianic Kingdom is established which lasts forever. Daniel reveals the conflict of the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world ultimately becoming the kingdoms of satan and antichrist.
OUTLINE OF DANIEL:
Chapter 1. The personal life of Daniel.
He refuses to be conformed to Babylon (the world) but is true to God. Written in Hebrew.
Chapters 2-7. Daniel interprets another person’s dreams revealing the future course of Gentile powers. Written in Aramaic.
Chapters 8-12. An angel interprets Daniel’s dreams revealing the future of Israel under Gentile rule. Written in Hebrew.
Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Great
Daniel gave the dream and interpretation and as a result was promoted to be a ruler in Babylon. It is a summary of ‘the Times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24), the time of Gentile political dominion over Israel, revealing the four Gentile kingdoms that will dominate Israel. Ultimately they will be destroyed and replaced by the Kingdom of God.
The Dream (v31-35): You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great
This great image, whose splendour was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.
(1) This image's head was of fine gold,
(2) its chest and arms of silver,
(3) its belly and thighs of bronze,
(4) its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
(5) 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.
1. HEAD OF GOLD
2. BREAST and ARMS OF SILVER
3. BELLY and THIGHS OF BRASS
4. LEGS OF IRON ending in FEET and TOES of IRON and CLAY.
These metals increase in strength but decrease in value.
5. The Image is destroyed by a STONE which becomes a great MOUNTAIN that fills the earth (v34,35).
Daniel 2 reveals a Statue (Image) representing four Gentile World-powers that dominate Israel in turn.
The Interpretation (v36-43): This is the dream. Now we will
tell the interpretation of it before the king (v36).
1. HEAD OF GOLD = BABYLON under Nebuchadnezzar (607 BC-).
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 (v37,38).
2. BREAST and ARMS OF SILVER = THE MEDES and THE PERSIANS under Cyrus (537 BC-).
The two arms represent the two nations who joined to form the Medo-Persian Empire:
But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; (v39a).
3. BELLY and THIGHS OF BRASS = GREECE under Alexander the Great (330 BC-):
then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. (v39b).
4. LEGS OF IRON ending in FEET and TOES of IRON
and CLAY = ROME (63 BC-).
This fourth kingdom is special and emphasised in later prophecies. It appears in three stages:
1) The United Stage (63 BC to 285 AD)
And the fourth kingdom (Rome) 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 (v40).
2) The Two-Division Stage
(the two legs of iron represent the Eastern and Western Roman Empire).
This stage began in 364 AD when Emperor Valentinian divided the Roman Empire into an East and West division. Since then there has been an East-West balance of power. Rome was the headquarters in the West and Constantinople in the East. When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, the rulers fled to Russia influencing a Roman style government there (Czar = Caesar). Russia gave herself the title of the Third Roman Empire. Up to the present time the Eastern centre of power has been in Russia. In the West Rome was the centre until 476 when she fell to the barbarians. Then it shifted to France, especially with Charlemagne (800AD). He called it the Holy Roman Empire. In 962, Otto 1 moved the centre of power to Germany. The leaders were called Kaisars (Caesars). Although the Holy Roman Empire dissolved in the 19th century, the western balance of power has been centred in the democratic nations of the west (especially since World War 1).
3) The Ten-Division Stage
(the feet with ten toes partly of iron and partly
of clay) must signify a yet future development of Rome. Whereas you saw the feet and
(ten) 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 (ten) 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 (v41-43). Prophecy predicts that in the end-time a federation of ten kingdoms
will develop that will be a Roman Empire revived out of the scattered nations
of the splintered Empire. No doubt the present formation of the EU
is part of this process. It will be ruled partly by democracy,
and partly by dictatorship. The iron denotes imperialism and dictatorship.
The clay denotes democracy. This is the final form of the Roman Empire, the form it will have
during the Tribulation, for the Lord Jesus Christ
(the Stone cut out without hands) will return in the days of the feet of
iron and clay. The Stone strikes the image at its feet and smashes
them (v34). This is also confirmed in the interpretation
The IMAGE describes four phases of development (each stage absorbs and incorporates the previous stages), but together they form one image named after the head - thus
the overall name for the Gentile World-Power is BABYLON. Thus although
the Stone strikes the feet, the whole Image is destroyed by that act (v35,45),
emphasising the unity of these powers which together form one Image.
shall be destroyed and replaced by the Kingdom of God on earth:
5. THE STONE-MOUNTAIN = THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM is established by the MESSIAH (the Stone) during the 10-division stage of Rome, destroying all the other kingdoms and ending all Gentile domination (for it will be a Kingdom centred on Israel). And in the days of these (10) 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 (the eternal Kingdom of God), and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold (Babylon)- 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 (v44,45). The Stone (Messiah) not only destroys the kingdoms of man, but sets up the Mountain (the new Millennial Kingdom) that will fill the whole earth.
Daniel 7: The Four Beasts (553 BC).
The Vision (v1-14): I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea (v2). Winds (spiritual forces) stirred up the Mediterranean Sea. The Sea represents the Gentile nations: Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! (Isaiah 17:12). The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Rev 17:1,15; see also 13:1). Thus they represent great Gentile-Kingdoms.
Then four great beasts came up from the sea, one after
the other, into prominence dominating the sea:
And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other (v3).
Daniel 7 describes these Gentile kingdoms as Beasts.
These Four Beasts correspond to the four parts of the
image in Daniel 2 and are same four Kingdoms:
Those great beasts, which are four, are four kingdoms which arise out of the earth (v17).
Although outwardly they may have looked impressive and glorious (like the Image of Daniel 2), God is now revealing their true inner nature. They are nations portrayed as beasts revealing their inward nature which is rebellious to God. They were all man-eaters, ripping nations apart with cruelty and bloodshed.
1. A LION with eagle wings = BABYLON
(608 BC), that were plucked off, and then it was made to stand as a man.
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 (v4). The Lion, king of the jungle speaks of strength. The eagle-wings speak of speed (Jeremiah 4:7,13). Assyrian images had lions bodies and eagles wings and Babylon adopted these images for themselves when they conquered Babylon. This is Babylon and it predicts God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, which slowed its conquests.
2. A BEAR raised on one side with three ribs
in its mouth appeared next = MEDO-PERSIA.
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! (v5). This is Medo-Persia (under Cyrus the Great), but Persia was dominant (538 BC). The bear is less majestic but heavier and bigger than the lion. They conquered by sheer force of numbers. They rose to power by conquering Lydia, Babylon and Egypt (the three ribs). Persia is also seen as a Ram in Daniel 8:3,20 with two different sized horns. It continued to eat other nations and grow.
3. A LEOPARD with four wings and four heads was
next = GREECE:
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 (v6).
A leopard is swifter and more cunning and agile than the previous beasts. Alexander the Great of GREECE (334 BC-) conquered Persia amazingly fast (in under ten years - he died about 30!) - hence the four wings. When he died the Greek empire divided into four parts, headed by his four generals. This is the Goat in Daniel 8:5,8,21,22 (horns = kings).
4. A terrible and strong BEAST is the final
beast and different from the rest = ROME.
As we come to study this final Beast Empire, it is helpful to compare the parallel verses in Daniel 7 as shown in the chart over the page. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a 4th 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 (v7). It is not a natural animal - but is more terrible with iron teeth, bronze claws and ten horns (= ten kings, c.f. the ten toes). Most of the rest of Daniel 7 focuses on this 4th Beast.
The 4th Beast, with iron teeth is ROME, the next dominant world-power, the strongest of all the Gentile beasts.
Daniel 7 (in v7,8,19-27) focuses mainly on the form that Rome will take in the future, especially in the Tribulation.
The 4th Beast shall be a 4th kingdom on earth, which
shall be different from all other kingdoms,
and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces (v23).
This Beast will gain dominion over the whole world for a time (in the Tribulation). One difference to previous empires is that the Caesars became gods - a law unto themselves - above any law or restraint. This will reach its ultimate form in the final Roman Emperor - the antichrist. In Daniel 7, it is revealed that this beast (Rome) is the final beast before Christ’s Return, which God will judge at the end, before setting up His Kingdom. It follows that the Roman Empire, having gone under the sea, will arise again revived at the time of the end.
It will develop into a Ten-Kingdom stage, for it has
ten horns (v7,20) corresponding to the 10 toes of the Image:
The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom (the Roman Empire) (v24a).
A little horn (another king, the antichrist) will arise and pluck up three horns (three of the kings) by the roots, with eyes and a proud mouth against God: 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 (v8). The 10 horns are 10 kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another (antichrist) 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 (of the Great Tribulation). But the court (in Heaven) shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever (v24-26). Antichrist will have risen to a certain degree of political power by the start of the Tribulation enabling him to make an important covenant of peace and protection with Israel, bringing her into a dependence on him and a subjection to him (Daniel 9:27). His rise to power will continue as, in the time leading up to Mid-Tribulation, he moves to take control of the ten-kingdoms, defeating the three kings that oppose him. Then, half-way through the Tribulation, he breaks his covenant with Israel by capturing Jerusalem, desecrating the Temple and claiming to be god, which initiates the Great-Tribulation (Daniel 9:27, 11:45-12:1). The eyes and mouth represent the supernatural power to see and speak given to him by satan at this time. Moreover, he starts persecuting the saints (the people of God - all Jews and believers), and makes plans to change totally change the government of the world (the laws and times), as he works to establish himself as the world-dictator. After a short time (30 days), he acheives this goal and becomes the the world-ruler for three and a half years, during which time he tramples Israel under foot, and kills many of God's people (see also Rev11:2,13:5, Dan12:7), before Christ returns and destroys him.
Thus, he will be over the ten Kingdoms during the Tribulation
and these will be the heart of his armies that attack Jesus Christ at
Armageddon: The 10 horns which you saw are
10 kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority
for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind,
and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These
will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is
Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called,
chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:12-14).
Jesus Christ in His Second Coming will carry out God's judgement and destroy him.
5. God judges the antichrist and his
kingdom, and establishes His Kingdom on earth through Jesus Christ.
But the court (in Heaven) shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever (v26). 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 (v9-11). God does this through Jesus Christ who would first became the SON OF MAN (in the incarnation), Who then came before the throne of God to receive all authority to judge and rule (in His resurrection and ascension into Heaven): 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 (v13,14).
Thus it is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, who will return to earth to establish His Kingdom here through Israel: 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 (v27). Jesus claimed to be this Messiah-King in Matthew 26:64.
Having described the destruction of antichrist's Empire,
Daniel 7 describes what will happen to the first 3 Beasts: As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken
away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time (v12).
As predicted Babylon, Persia and Greece disappeared from being world-powers. But although they lost their dominion, they lived on through the kingdoms that took their place, which incorporated their influences. The final revived Roman Empire is described in more detail in Revelation 13 as a mongrel composed of parts of a lion, bear and leopard. It had crushed and assimilated into itself the three previous empires.
Thus according to Daniel we must see:
(1) The development of a REVIVED ROME - an economic and political federation of ten nations.
The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom (Daniel 7:24a). These ten are the ten toes in Daniel 2, united in a federation that is partly democratic (clay, because man was made from clay) and partly a dictatorship (iron).
It is likely that these 10 Kingdoms will form into a federation before the Tribulation. We cannot be sure of the extent of this Revived Roman Empire. Some say that the EU is developing into this federation. Perhaps the boundaries of the old Roman-Empire give us a guideline, which would imply that countries beyond Europe would also be included. Others say that these are the ten economic and administrative blocks of the Club of Rome, into which the present world is divided, Europe being just one of these blocks. Antichrist will then rise as the European (Roman) leader before taking power over all ten kingdoms for a short time. Whatever way it will happen Daniel 7:24 indicates that a new form of the Roman Empire will arise in the end-times, whose origins can be traced to the original Rome. It will be a federation of ten kingdoms which is in power during the Tribulation and when Jesus returns (as Daniel and Revelation confirm). This federation will grow in strength replacing USA and Russia as the major power. One reason for Russia’s decline was seen earlier (Ezekiel 38,39).
(2) Just before the Tribulation starts there will be
a period of false peace and security: But concerning the times
and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as
a thief in the night. For when they say, Peace and safety! then sudden
destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman and they
shall not escape (1Thess 5:1-3).
(3) During the Ten-Kingdom phase antichrist will arise and be revealed: And another shall rise after them;
he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings (Daniel 7:24b, see also v8, 20).
Before the Tribulation he must arise and grow in power,
because in Daniel 9:26 he signs the seven-year treaty with Israel - which
is early on in the Tribulation. This is part of his push for power
at the start of the Tribulation as the Rider on the White Horse going forth
to conquer (Rev 6:1,2), which triggers world-wide conflict and famine and
death (Rev 6:3-8).
The Covenant with Israel is the first point (soon after the Rapture) at which his identity will be clearly revealed:
Brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the departure (Rapture) comes first, and (then, as a result, soon afterwards) the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (2Thess2:1-3).
By Mid-Tribulation he has subdued the three leaders that resist him (Daniel 11:36-12:1), and rises to leadership of the federation, becoming world-dictator. His activities at Mid-Tribulation (that will be described in detail later) will be the second clear revelation of the identity of antichrist. The final revelation of antichrist is at the end of the Tribulation when he gathers the armies of the world at Armageddon, but he will then be destroyed by the Revelation of the true Christ.Don't underestimate the effect of the Rapture: To understand how the present political scene could change quickly to the one we see in the Tribulation, it helps to realise what a dramatic and destabilising effect the disappearance of millions (even billions) of believers in the Rapture would have on the world. It would lead to much instability and quick changes, particularly in countries like the USA where there are many believers in key positions. Another factor causing major political upheaval is a prophesied invasion of Israel, which must either take place before the Tribulation or soon after it starts.
The prophecies of the Gentile Powers that have dominion
over Israel in Daniel 2, 4 and 9:24-27 raise some hard questions.
They tend to jump from first century Rome to the end-time Rome overlooking
much that has happened during the Church-Age (although the two legs of
Daniel 2 imply some kind of continuation of Rome). In particular, other
nations who have had dominion over the land of Israel are not mentioned.
Why is there this silence about much of the last 2000 years? We have
seen that the Church-Age is a mystery and that Old-Testament prophecy jumps
over it. Even Jesus’ Olivet prophecy (which interprets Daniel 9)
describes political events in the first century and then jumps to describing
events in the last century (leading up to and including the Tribulation).
This is related to the fact that prophecy ultimately concerns Israel.
While Israel was dispersed to the nations it was not vital to mention the
various nations that merely controlled the land. Old Testament prophecy
jumps over the time Israel was scattered. It would seem that
political prophecy is only interested in and only applies to the time Israel
is in the land. So, Daniel sees Rome first as a beast that comes after
Greece. Then the prophecy jumps over the dispersion to the End-time.
Meanwhile, the Roman beast declined and went under the sea (although never
completely disappeared) but Daniel sees that at the end it will revive again
in a more terrible form. Since we are now in the time when Israel
is back in the land, this should also be the time when we begin to see Daniel’s
end-time prophecy come to pass in the formation and rise of a revived Rome
which antichrist will take over to use as his power-base to establish his
One-World Empire in the Tribulation.
Daniel 2 gave the overview of the Gentile Kingdoms.
Daniel 7 focused on the fourth Beast, especially
in its final phase.
Later on we will see that Revelation 13 and 17 will give us more information about this end-time Beast.
We have seen that end-time Revived Rome develops in
(1) A federation of nations based in Europe (but not necessarily totally European) appears.
This is the 7th head of the beast of Rev13:1, and the foot of Nebuchadnezzar’s Image.
(2) This develops into a federation of ten-kingdoms (the ten toes) ruled over by ten leaders (the ten horns).
This is the political situation during the first half of the Tribulation.
(3) As Mid-Tribulation approaches, a charismatic leader (antichrist) rises in power and attempts to take over this federation.
He is the little horn of Daniel 7:8,20,24, who subdues and uproots the three kings who resist him.
(4) At the time of Mid-Tribulation, antichrist quickly rises to world-dictatorship over the one-world government (the 8th head arising out of the 7th), helped by satan’s power and lying wonders. The ten kings hand over their authority to him, but continue to rule their kingdoms under him. It just takes a short Mid-Tribulational interval for this new form of government to be established, and it continues throughout the rest of the Great Tribulation. God gives it a time-span of 42 months, during which time all religions are banned in favour of the worship of antichrist. Thus total power is transferred to the antichrist.
(5) Then Jesus returns to destroy this Beast and to set up His permanent One-World Government!
Daniel 3 and 6 shed light on another aspect of life under these Gentile Powers (RELIGION).
Daniel 3: The Fiery Furnace. Inspired by his dream, Nebuchadnezzar erects a golden image for everyone to worship. When Daniel’s friends refuse to compromise (v17,18), they are thrown into a fiery furnace where the Fourth Man, the Son of God (Christ) protects them (v25). Not even the smell of fire was upon them (v27). Their witness led Nebuchadnezzar to make a decree to protect faith in Israel's God from persecution across the Empire. This episode reveals that BABYLON is not just a political power but also RELIGIOUS and the call is to God’s people to not compromise their faith even unto death.
Daniel 6: Daniel in the Lions Den. This is a similar story to chapter 3, only in the time of the Persian Empire. The Gentile kingdom (Babylon) may have a different human appearance, but is spiritually the same underneath. It has a religious side and God’s people must not compromise their faith to it. In chapter 3 they were told to worship a false god; in chapter 6 they were told not to worship the true God. Daniel’s courage and faith in God, and God’s protection of him from the lions, caused the conversion of the Persian King and another evangelistic decree. This shows that in the midst of anti-God Kingdoms there will be effective evangelism by God’s people who do not compromise. Thus behind Babylon is a spiritual force trying to prevent the worship of the true God, and replace it by the worship of Babylon itself (the State and its Leader). This finds its ultimate expression in the reign of antichrist who proclaims himself as god, and demands to be worshipped, compelling people by the threat of death if they don't. This happened on a smaller scale in the previous form of the Roman Empire with the Caesars proclaiming themselves as god and requiring the people's worship as a sign of submission to the State. Thus the early Christians came under great pressure and persecution, because they refused to declare Caesar as Lord, and only confessed Jesus to be their Lord and God. The persecution of believers in the Great-Tribulation will be far more intense and widespread.
Daniel 8 gives more prophetic information on the 2nd and 3rd Beasts (Persia and Greece), including a particular ruler who is a type of the antichrist, and who therefore sheds much light about him. The detailed prophecies of this chapter have been fulfilled with great accuracy. This is the basic reason why unbelieving historians say that the Book of Daniel had to be written after 150 BC ! They cannot accept that Daniel prophesied so much in advance. Therefore they say that someone wrote it later, pretending to be Daniel. However, by revealing the course of nations in advance, God shows that He is Sovereign over man’s history and all the Gentile powers. He is in control and despite man’s rebellion, He will bring His plans and purposes to pass and establish His Kingdom on earth as He promised (Daniel 7:11-14, 22,26,27).
v2. The setting is in the Persian time and
he saw the fall of that empire.
v3,4. A RAM with two unequal horns = Medo-Persia (v20) conquering to the West, North and South with two million soldiers, becoming very great.
v5-7. A GOAT from the West = Greece (v21) moving very fast with a notable horn - its first king (v21b) = Alexander the Great (334-323 BC). It attacks the Ram in anger at Persian attacks on Greece at Marathon (490 BC) and Salamis (481 BC) with a small but fast army and destroys it.
v8. But at the height of his power, the king dies of malaria and complications from alcoholism at age 30 and is replaced by four kings because he had no heirs (v22).
Alexander’s Greek empire was split between his four
generals and was never as powerful again.
These are the four heads of Daniel 7:6 and are also seen in 11:4:
1. Seleucus - over Syria, Israel, Mesopotamia
2. Ptolomy - over Egypt (Cleopatra was Greek not Egyptian!)
3. Lysimachus - over Thrace and Asia-Minor - Turkey.
4. Cassander over Macedonia and Greece.
v9-14, interpreted in v23-26 (see also notes on 11:21-35).
Antiochus IV Epiphanes from the Syrian part of the Greek Empire is important as the key type of the future antichrist.
He was King of the North (the Syrian part of the Greek empire).
1. He murdered his brother and came to power in 175BC.
Friends called him Epiphanes (‘illustrious one’) but the Jews called him Epimanes (‘madman’).
2. In 170 BC, he invaded Egypt to defeat Ptolemy VI who had tried to take some of his territory.
He proclaimed himself ‘King over Egypt’ - this is his growth in the South (v9).
3. On his return there was trouble in Jerusalem so he decided to subdue the ‘Beautiful land’ of Israel.
He subdued and persecuted the Jews and profaned and plundered the Temple and set himself up as Israel’s king (170-164 BC - see the Book of Maccabees, where the Jewish resistance under Judas Maccabeus overthrew him and restored the Temple in 164 BC). The Temple worship was desecrated for 2300 days (8:13,14).
4. In 168 BC, he returned to Egypt but was forced by Rome to leave and on his return he attacked and burned Jerusalem, killing many (v10).
The Jews were forbidden to follow their law of Sabbath, feasts, sacrifices and circumcision (v11).
5. On December 16th 167 BC, he set up an altar to Zeus (the god of Greece) on the Temple altar (1Maccabees 1:54 - an abomination of desolation) and other idols and they were ordered to offer up unclean sacrifices and eat swine’s flesh or die (to Hellenize the Jews). The profaning of the sanctuary worship was from 15th Chislev (December) 167 BC to the 25th Chislev 164 BC when Judas Maccabeus conquered Jerusalem and restored the Temple.
6. He died insane in 164/3 BC in Persia.
7. His oppression of Jerusalem lasted almost seven years (170-164 BC), a type of the seven-year Tribulation under antichrist. As predicted, it took 2300 ‘evening-mornings’ - 6 years 4 months. About half-way through this time was the Abomination on the Temple. The second half of this period (from December 16th 167 BC) was a type of the Great Tribulation.
The vision of Daniel 8 has application to the end-times
1. It is interesting to note that from the rise of Greece in 334 BC to 1967 AD is 2300 years.
2. The prophecy looks beyond Antiochus to the one who will oppose ‘the Prince of Princes’. Antiochus is a TYPE of the end-time antichrist, who will invade Jerusalem and profane the Temple half way through the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27).
So v23-26 is also a description of the antichrist:
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have
reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who
understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by
his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive.
He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his
cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt
himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He
shall even rise against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without
human means (his rule is terminated by Divine Judgment). And the vision
of the evenings and mornings which was told is true. Therefore seal
up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future.
Daniel 10 records a vision of Christ (v1-9). Then an angel explains the delay in his arrival, due to angelic warfare (v10-14).
The angel reveals that after Persia will come Greece (the 3rd Empire): Now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince (Michael is the angel assigned over Israel for her protection). (v20,21). This whole passage reveals that there is a spiritual warfare behind the rise and fall of Empires, but that God is in overall control.
Daniel 11 gives more detail of Persia
In v2 we see four more Persian rulers after Cyrus:
(1) Cambyses, his son (530)
(2) Pseudo-Smerdis (522)
(3) Darius I Hystaspes (521-486)
(4) Xerxes (Ahasuerus in Esther) 485-465 BC - the greatest. He fought wars against Greece.
v3,4 describes the rise of Alexander the Great and the division of his Empire into four parts after his death.
v5-20 traces the conflict between the Ptolomies (based in Egypt - the South of Israel) and the Seleucids (based in Syria - the North). This identifies the king of the South and the king of the North. This concerned Israel because the land was invaded first by one, then by the other. This was fulfilled in great detail.
v21-35: The invasion of Antiochus IV is given in great detail (we have seen him before in chapter 8). He is given much attention because he foreshadows the antichrist.
v21: And in his place shall arise a vile person,
to whom they will not give the honour of royalty;
but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.
Antiochus seized the throne unlawfully with deception and murder. He was a master of flattery and intrigue.
v22: With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. He was the oppressor of Israel; he had the Jewish High-Priest Onias slain in 172 BC. A resistance movement in Israel starts with ‘separated ones’ resisting Greek ways.
23,24: And after the league is made with him he shall
act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number
of people. He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places
of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his
forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches;
and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.
He grew in power and wealth with a small force. His first campaign against Egypt, by intrigue and deceit, captured much of Egypt. His mode of operation was to come ‘in peace’ and then break his word and take the treasures away, lavishing on his troops much of the plunder. On his return, much of the Temple treasure was given to him by the puppet High Priest.
v25-27: The Second Campaign against Egypt. Antiochus conquers Egypt in 170 BC. He shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the South with a great army. And the king of the South shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they shall devise plans against him, those who eat of the portion of his delicacies shall destroy him (defeated by intrigue and treason of his own court); his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain. Both these kings hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table (they pretend friendship was established at the conference table but the goal of their peace deal to conquer all of Egypt did not succeed); but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.
v28: While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land. On his return, frustrated, but with great wealth from Egypt, he passed through Israel. He hated the Jews, and more so because they did not conform to the Greek ways and worship and because they resisted Syrian control. He desecrated and plundered the Temple and opposed their worship (1Maccabees 1:20-28),
v29-32: At the appointed time he shall return
and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter.
For ships from Cyprus shall come against him.
He attacks Egypt again (the third Campaign in 168 BC) but this time Egypt is united and has help from Rome (in ships from Cyprus). When opposed by Rome he was humiliated. Popillus Laenas told him the senate required that he quit the land. Antiochus hesitated and asked for time. The Roman drew a circle in the sand around the King and demanded he answered before stepping out of the circle or he would have to meet Rome in war. He had no choice but to submit and withdraw.
Therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage.
In anger, he turned on the Jews in 167 BC. He sent his general Apollonius with 22,000 on a pretended peace mission, but attacked on the Sabbath (knowing many Jews would not fight then) killing many, taking women and children as slaves, and he plundered and burned the city.
So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.
He favoured any Jewish traitors such as the High Priest and his followers.
And forces shall be mustered by him , and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress
(the city walls were destroyed and a new fortress built on the site of the citadel with a large garrison of Syrian forces to keep them in submission); then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.
He desecrated the Temple and stopped the sacrifices. He set up the Abomination of desolation - a pig offered on an altar to Zeus on December 16th. He forbade the Jews to follow their religious practices, like the Feasts and circumcision and commanded copies of the Law to be burned. A concerted attempt was made to Hellenize the country and make everyone worship the Greek gods. In all this he is a type of antichrist who will desecrate the Temple at Mid-Tribulation as part of his attempt to destroy all other religions and worship and make everyone worship him instead.
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. Many Jews compromised but some did not and grew strong in faith.
v33-35 covers the persecution of the faithful. A little help came from the Maccabean revolt. In 166 BC Mattathias, a priest and his five sons (one of whom was Judas Maccabeus) fled to the mountains refusing to submit to this false religious system and began a revolt which quickly grew. Some joined for good motives, others for false motives. It was a time of great suffering through which their faith was purified and strengthened. Daniel wrote for the purpose of encouraging these believers who would live hundreds of years after Daniel, so that in their sufferings they could have confidence in their future with God. Likewise, Revelation was written to encourage believers in the Tribulation, assuring them that these terrible times have an appointed end and won’t last long. These three and a bit years are a type of the Great Tribulation when suffering Israel will turn back to God.v36-45 jumps from Antiochus over 2000 years to the end-time and antichrist - and is as yet unfulfilled. The jump is indicated by the king. It shows antichrist to be like Antiochus. It is not Antiochus, for in v40 he is distinguished from the King of the North (in these prophecies the king of the North is the ruler of Syria). Whenever there is a prophetic jump, there is always a clear link. Often it is a jump from Christ's First Coming to His Second Coming. Here it is a jump from the type of antichrist to the antitype. We will look at this passage later when we study the events of the Tribulation.
Chapter 3 - The
Chapter 4 - THE TRIBULATION