The thing I love about studying Biblical prophecy, perhaps more than anything else, are those jaw-dropping moments when the meaning of the words suddenly make sense in the earthly realms. All of God’s prophecy begins in the spiritual realm, and as a result, it is often hard to see the apparent and true meaning, especially when it comes to the things of the end of days.
Over the past few days I have been down with a cold or some other nonsense that has made my head a little fuzzy. I had intended to continue with this series on The Final Kingdom, but the lack of sleep which has been afforded by a dreadful sore throat, has scuppered those plans. However, the upshot is that whilst I was laying in bed on Saturday afternoon, just dozing in front of YouTube, I happened upon the latest instalment from Joel Richardson, which asked the question about Turkey’s president cum dictator, Recep Erdogan – is he the anti-Christ?
Now, as a rule, I stay away from anyone making such bold predictions about the identity of individuals in Biblical prophecy, but this peeked my interest because Turkey is clearly becoming a major player in the shaking down of the nations of the Middle East region. So I tuned in.
Thankfully, Joel doesn’t do the identities of characters like the anti-Christ either. But what he said, led me to have a jaw-dropping moment – a moment of clarity which made me realise just how wrong I was. Hence this being Part 2a, when I have already written Part Three!
What he said was this: “The first king of Javan”, which is taken from Daniel 8:21, which reads as follows:
“And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king.”
Now, after a great deal of research, I had previously come to the conclusion that Gabri’el’s explanation all pointed Daniel to the ram of Daniel’s vision being the Medo-Persian Empire; its two horns being two kings of said empire (probably Cyrus and Darius III); the goat being the Greek Empire; with Alexander being the large horn. Easy to do, given that the Bible tells us that much. However, during my dream-like state, when Joel mentioned the first king of Javan, something must have clicked. A few hours later, I found that I was reminded of it and, as I was (slightly) more lucid, I started to try and figure out what was bothering me.
The upshot is that I had broken two of my own rules when it comes to interpreting prophecy – always check what the source material says, and always check the context.
My method of checking the source material is to use an inter-lineal Hebrew-English bible. For those of you unfamiliar with such a contraption, it is the Old Testament with the original Hebrew text and the closest word for word English translation. This is usually a very fool-proof method because (and this may suprise you) nearly all Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament are exactly the same. If a scribe produced one with a single error in (and they are checked over and over again), it was destroyed. The two manuscripts which are deemed to be a part of the ‘crown jewels’ of Old Testament manuscripts are the Leningrad Codex and the Aleppo Codex. If you have a decent translation of the Bible, in the Foreword section, you will find reference to one or both of these as their source material.
The inter-lineal Bible I prefer uses both these sources, so you get the original Hebrew above, with the most direct English translation below. It often doesn’t read like a regular Bible, which is full of literary embellishments in order to make the syntax easier to read.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m getting to that.
In my inter-lineal Hebrew-English Bible, the English says this of verse 21:
“and the goat rough the king of Greece and the horn great that between his eyes he the king the first.”
Beside it being slightly awkward to read (something that you get used to), it is pretty straightforward. Perhaps. Most translations get to something along the lines of:
“and the rough goat is the king of Greece and the great horn between his eyes is the first king.”
Now, that’s all fine and dandy, except, that on this particular occasion I didn’t check what word was used for ‘Greece‘. I just took it at face value because I thought I already knew the answer!
The word in all the original Hebrew manuscripts, from which we render ‘Greece‘, is in fact ‘Yavan‘. Yavan first appears, as a word, in the book of Genesis, when recording the sons of Noah’s son, Jepheth. Yavan settled in what is now modern day Turkey, and was in New Testament times, Asia Minor.
That was the first mistake. My second was about the context.
When Daniel had this vision, we can date it to 547 BC because we know, historically, that Belshazzar was in his third year as king. At that time, Greece didn’t even exist. In fact, when the word ‘Greece‘ did come into use, it was given to describe Greek-speaking peoples and not a nation. It was called Greece retrospectively by historians, but the truth is, Alexander the Great was, like his father Phillip, a Macedonian. This word was still in use in New Testament times (and not Greece) as we can see in the book of Acts with Paul and his vision of the man from Macedonia.
And, the second part of my second mistake was that Gabri’el tells Daniel three times that this vision is about the end of days – the time of the great tribulation. I even mentioned this in Part Two, despite ignoring it myself!
What does all this mean? Well, to start with, any translation where the word Greece has found its way into the text of Daniel 8:21 is misleading. It should say ‘Yavan‘, or at very least ‘Javan‘. If we accept what Gabri’el says (believe me, taking the advice of Gabri’el is vital), then the first king of Yavan (or Javan) is NOT Alexander the Great. And Gabri’el’s advice puts the entire vision not 200 years into Daniel’s future, but right into our future. This means that the area to which Gabri’el was referring is not part of Greece. Nor was it at the time he spoke. It is part of Turkey.
This translation problem has probably come about in the same way as my own mistakes have – the translators thought they had something that fitted into the text, and so they made it fit. But this vision is all about the time at the end, not something that happened before the first coming of Christ. In fact, it relates to something that is happening right now in front of our eyes – events that will lead up to the second coming of Christ.
On the premise that Yavan is Turkey and the large horn is Turkey’s first king, we should be looking to events of today. I can be certain that the interpretation of the ram is correct – the Medo-Persian Empire because I have checked the manuscript and there is no mistranslation. Today, by the same rationale as Yavan being located in Turkey, the place where Gabri’el was referring to as Medo-Persia, is modern day Iran.
So, to recap, the vision shows the two-horned ram (Iran) invading countries to its north, west, and south, and the single-horned goat (Turkey) charging in from the west and destroying it.
I’m not going to get too into trying to interpret the actual markers of what is going one but it will be worth you considering the following points:
- President Erdogan has just won a referendum which gave him sweeping powers, which he is exercising already. He has gone from president to dictator in a day. Most of what he has already set in motion isn’t reported by the western media because they are scared to face up to what their NATO partner really is.
- Iran is run by two rulers (or horns) – the Supreme Leader and the President.
- For the past few years Iran has adopted a policy of trying to create what is known as a ‘land corridor’ between Tehran and the Mediterranean Sea. Just Google ‘Iran land corridor‘. So far, it has been very successful. It has already got a secure passage from Tehran to Damascus with thousands of troops stationed at key points along the route, as well as a similar corridor in Northern Iraq. The problem is, much of the land that it is currently securing, Turkey also has a claim to – can you see where this is heading?
My advice, if you are a watcher of these things, is to start reading the real news on Reuters or Al Jazeera. Western media outlets don’t want to look at the true state of the Middle East because it is so complicated, and threatens our peaceable existence. The division within Islam between Sunni and Shia Muslims is enough to divide the entire world. Look at the key players of what is happening in Syria. Russia are happy to stand with Iran (Shia) and fight ISIL (Sunni) because Russia has long fought battles against Sunni Muslim nations, especially during the times of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey (Sunni) is happy to control Northern Iraq and probably fund ISIL because that was what the Ottoman Empire was all about., and Erdogan has already stated that he intends to start what he calls the ‘Neo-Ottoman Order’.
My eyes have been opened to how much closer the Final Kingdom actually is by all of this. The next big marker will be an unopposed invasion by Iran to the nations to its north, west, and south. Look for signs of Iran’s army moving into Yemen, Lebanon, and Jordan. They are already in Iraq and Syria. If the cross into the disputed land of the Kurdish people, then Turkey will have something to say about that.
All Christians need to take note of what is going on in the region of the Levant. Learn to interpret the signs. The mistakes which I have made in this series have taught me that Biblical prophecy, if handled right, can provide a very accurate barometer to where we are. It is clear to most that we are near the end, but I suspect we might be much nearer than I thought.
Remember, however, that Yeshua Himself told us these things would happen – there will be wars and rumours of wars. We need not worry about them. He has it all in His hands. Even if the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, He remains in charge.
The implications of what I have learned this weekend actually effect the other visions and dream which I have written about in the Final Kingdom series. I will attempt to draw all these strands together in Part Four.
If you are interested in the views of others, the following site provides an interesting perspective: