Before we continue our walk through the dreams and visions and prophecies of the book of Daniel, a short recap might be in order, especially in the light of the most recent revelations I have had on the interpretation of the vision of the goat and the ram from Daniel chapter eight.
I stated in Part Two that the interpretation which Gabri’el gave Daniel helped to identify the kingdoms listed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2) and Daniel’s first vision of the four beasts found in Daniel chapter seven. However, if our (or rather my) understanding of that interpretation is flawed, then applying it to the other visions is also flawed.
In his dream of the image of a man, Nebuchadnezzar saw the image with a head of gold, shoulders and arms of silver, torso and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet mixed with iron and clay. Daniel’s interpretation of the dream was given by God and it stated that the head of gold was Nebuchadnezzar. My thinking towards the widely accepted interpretations of these kingdoms is to be more cautious now, so I am not going to declare that the shoulders and arms of silver are definitely the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. They could well be. But I am aware that it is convenient to accept not only what others think and write about these things, but also the chronological factor.
The chronological factor is that we expect these kingdoms to happen successively and back to back. This might not be the case. I have learned an important lesson, which I detailed in Part 2a, that finding events that fit what is written in prophecy is often done in a short-sighted manner. All we truly know about the shoulder and arms of silver is what Daniel stated about it: “But after you shall arise another kingdom, inferior to yours” [Daniel 2:39a]. The text doesn’t say that this second kingdom will arise immediately after Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, just after.
In fact, we must be even more carefully when it comes to our understanding of what a kingdom actually refers to in the text. Note that Daniel says in 1:29 that “you are this head of gold” to Nebuchadnezzar. Note that he didn’t say that the kingdom of Babylon was the head of gold, but Nebuchadnezzar himself. This may be important. Instead of looking at the kingdoms as nations of power and strength, perhaps the entire dream is about individual kings. The Hebrew word for kingdom is malku, which can equally be used in the personal tense regarding the authority of a king, as it can to the realm in which the king reigns. Do you see how we should be treading carefully here?
I think it is worth noting also that Daniel declares to Nebuchadnezzar that “the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory.” It was given to Nebuchadnezzar, rather than the nation of Babylon. I suspect that it might be prudent to keep this in mind when looking at the other four kingdoms.
So, rather than saying that the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represents the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, the Islamic Caliphate, and the Islamic Caliphate Reborn, I think we can only truly identify the head of gold as being Nebuchadnezzar. What comes after that is speculation, although the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay are probably identifiable now as the final earthly kingdom. We shall return to this particular interpretation shortly.
But first, we need to take another look at the vision of the four beasts which Daniel saw and is recorded in Daniel chapter seven. The reason why we need to take another look is here, in this text, the angel who interpreted the vision for Daniel, doesn’t use malku (kingdom) but melek, which means king. Rather than looking at the four beasts as four kingdoms (and it is very easy to look at them being the very same kingdoms that are often described as the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream – Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Caliphate), we need to look again at kings themselves.
I am reminded that in 7:12 it states that regarding the rest of the beasts (other than the fourth), their dominion was taken away but they were allowed to live. Now, I am pretty certain that they all couldn’t be alive at the same time in human form, so these kings are more likely to be supernatural and spiritual entities, possibly high level demons who, for short periods, have been allowed to possess and control earthly kings in order to achieve certain purposes. This is consistent with several other prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments which suggest that the one we refer to as the anti-Christ, will in fact, have the power and authority of a supernatural being from the heavenly realm.
Of course, all of this is speculation to some degree, but I would still encourage believers everywhere to start thinking in the terms that there is much more to everything than the things which we can see. There exists a completely different spiritual realm to us where, were we to see into that realm, not all things would be recognisable to us.
Rather than the beasts of the vision from Daniel chapter seven being earthly kingdoms, I would encourage you to think of these four beasts as being beings from the spiritual or heavenly realm that have been given power and authority and, at various times, have occupied earthly kingdoms and found willing humans to do their bidding. This is, after all, what God seeks with those who believe – people whose hearts are willing to do His will (see 2nd Chronicles 16:9). I suspect it works in the same way with Satan and those fallen angels who have chosen to side with him and his despicable purposes.
What Daniel saw was these spiritual beings being birthed into the world and then being found in human form – hence the reference to the sea in 7:3. How do we know that in heavenly visions the sea represents the people or mankind? Because in Revelation 17:15, when describing the meaning of the Woman on the seven-headed beast who sits on many waters, the angel explains to John that the ‘many waters’ are ‘peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues’. This beast described there is clearly connected to the beasts described throughout the book of Daniel. In fact, as we shall see in later parts of this series, when we draw all of these things together, that connection is undeniable.
For the moment, however, look at both Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s first vision differently. Question what you already think you understand about it and read the accounts again carefully. In both accounts, the worlds of earth and heaven merge and not everything should be taken with an earthly understanding. These things can only truly be revealed with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Before we move on and start looking at what is contained in the rest of the book of Daniel, and in particular, the prophecy regarding the great war which is to come and the likely identities of the key players that are recorded as the kings of the North and the South, I want to draw your attention to another possible explanation or interpretation of the four beasts of Daniel’s vision in chapter seven.
There is a man, a blogger not unlike me, called Mark Davidson who has a different view of the beasts, and it is a view that makes interesting reading. As you know, I will always advocate that all prophecy has several facets and layers of meaning and use. This is the nature of God. What one person sees in a prophecy might not be seen by another. Only God can grant true understanding of the things of God.
Mark Davidson is the author of a book called Daniel Revisited, in which he details extensively his understanding of the prophecies contained with the book. He has also developed something called Signpost Theology. Now, I am not a great fan of any theology, if I am honest. It pretty much all amounts to man’s theories of the things of God. However, this particular approach suggests that there are sign posts and markers within the prophecies which enable us to see where we are in the scheme of things. Please note; it is not a method for predicting future dates, more like a barometer for how things are now.
I will give you a brief synopsis of what Mark says about the four beasts and how they act as sign posts. Below that I will include a link to his website. I am not endorsing his point of view. I am simply showing it to you in order to encourage people to think differently about the end of days. For too long we have allowed outdated and disproven end times theories to dominate church thinking, and as a result, the church stands ill-equipped for the final earthly kingdom, which appears to be recovering from the fatal blow which is described in Revelation 17:10. Anyway, here’s what Mark has to say about the four beasts from Daniel chapter seven:
The First Beast / Signpost – Iraq:
Mark suggests that the lion with its eagle’s wings represents Iraq. This is consistent with much thinking – Iraq occupies the former kingdom of Babylon, who use the winged lion as a symbol of the kingdom. The wings being plucked off, he believes, was fulfilled when democracy was forced upon Iraq and the beast was given over to earthly man-like ways.
The Second Beast / Signpost – Iran:
Mark is predicting that the next big event in the Middle East, and therefore, the next signpost, will be Iran invading nations to its west, north, and south, which is indicated by the bear with the three ribs in its mouth. Mark says that because the first signpost is clearly fulfilled, then the second will follow shortly. Watch for Iran invading countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia. Iran will end up controlling over 80% of the world’s oil production and will refuse access to it for western or non-Muslim nations.
The Third Beast / Signpost – The Four Nation Confederacy:
After the large horn as described in Daniel 8 has risen and been broken off, four nations will form an alliance in the Middle East. Mark believes this will be a Sunni Muslim alliance. The beast in the vision has four wings and four heads. It is consistent with the vision in Daniel chapter eight and would follow an invasion of nations to the west, north, and south by Iran and a subsequent attack upon Iran by Turkey.
The Fourth Beast / Signpost – The Final Earthly Kingdom:
This signpost, I suspect, will be hard for anyone to miss. This is when the full force and authority of Satan is released upon the people of the world. Hebrews and Christians will be rounded up and killed if they refuse to receive the mark of this beast. But we shouldn’t think that Satan loves Muslims. He doesn’t. He wants all people to be destroyed and is just using the false religion of Islam to empower himself into doing that. It will be the beginning of the worst tribulation ever known and will culminate in a war of the worst magnitude.
You can find Mark’s website here: The Four Signposts. Ask God’s Holy Spirit for discernment first.
Even if Mark is only partially right, then we are much closer to Christ’s return than I imagined.
With all that I have discussed in this part in mind, we should move onto what is, perhaps, the hardest prophecy of all – that of the kings of the North and the South.
I often wonder why God chose Daniel to impart all of the most valuable details of the time of the end to. Daniel was clearly favoured by God but, at the time in which the book was written, he was a captive in a foreign land, exiled from Isra’el. However, I suspect that this is the very reason why God did, indeed, choose Daniel to deliver this message to us. There will come a time, as we shall see when we delve deeper into the time of the end, when the Hebrews will once more be carried away from the land of Isra’el and held captive in the lands of their enemies. What happened to the Northern Kingdom of Isra’el when Assyria attacked, and what happened to the Southern Kingdom of Judah when Babylon attacked, will all happen again. Those events were just to foreshadow those which are to come.
When Daniel prayed about the plight of his people then, he was given relief not only about the situation in the 6th century BC, but also a key to the events that will precede the salvation of Isra’el by Yehovah. However, between those two points in time, there was a great deal of history to take place. And, here we are now, on the cusp of the end of history as well know it, staring into world events that seem out of control already, armed with the sure knowledge that our God, the same God of Isra’el, is in complete control of the situation. These things He told to Daniel were for today. They are for the nation of Isra’el to read the signs and return, once more, to the true worship of the Living God, and they are for the church to also read the signs of the end of the Age of the Gentiles and accept that we must now reform and strengthen our trust in Yehovah before this final beast rises up out of the sea and is given the authority to destroy most of the people of the earth.
God didn’t speak these things out for them to be mysteries which are never truly understood. He spoke them out so that we might understand. Those prophecies and visions which Daniel was told would be sealed up until the end of time are now being revealed. God never acts without first telling His prophets. He told Daniel. Daniel told us. Much of what was said hasn’t been understood. Until these last days. When we come to look at what Yeshua said about the time at the end, you will see how much He drew upon the words written in Daniel. We need to understand the clear message of Daniel, just as we need to understand the clear message of Revelation. The time is near.
Daniel chapter ten is, if anything else, somewhat perplexing to me. I have thought long and hard about the first verse of this chapter today especially. Before we go any further with looking at the final prophecy contained in the book of Daniel I want to highlight exactly what I have found to be so perplexing.
Here’s Daniel 10:1 from the NIV:
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.”
And here’s the Amplified Bible:
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar. And the word was true and it referred to a great tribulation (conflict and wretchedness). And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.”
Now the Complete Jewish Bible:
“In the third year of Koresh king of Persia, a word was revealed to Dani’el, also called Belt’shatzar. The word was certain: a great war. He understood the word having gained understanding in a vision.”
And the New King James:
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.”
(Did you spot the difference there?)
Finally, here’s the direct translation from the Hebrew scroll to English:
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed to Daniel whose name was called Belteshazzar. The thing was true but the time appointed long and he understood the thing and had understanding of the vision.”
What I find perplexing is that I have no idea where the first three translators got the notion of war or great tribulation from. It is simply not in the Hebrew text.
I have to confess that part of my being perplexed by this is that if it was there in the manuscripts, it would help me to justify what I want to write about this final prophecy. But, I have already learned that lesson – writing about what is not in the original text is very dangerous.
In fact, such has been my thinking all day about the prophecy contained within Daniel chapters 10,11, and 12, that I have had to have a serious rethink of everything I thought that I understood about it. Having had such a recent experience of something similar when looking at the vision contained in Daniel chapter eight, I am more cautious now. I have had to ask myself a question – how did I come to believe what I did? How did that happen? Having spent some time pondering these things, I have become disconcerted to note that the answer has been staring me in the face. The problem lies with study bibles and popular commentaries.
In Part 2a I explained my alarm at realising that Daniel 8:21 incorrectly identified the goat with the large horn as the king of Greece. The word which the translators rendered as Greece was Yavan in Hebrew, which isn’t in Greece and was only a part of Greece for around a decade at the end of Alexander’s reign, even then it was still actually controlled by Persian warlords. The region of Yavan, today, rests in South West Turkey. The problem was the translation using the word Greece is that it made commentators and the people who write study bibles and books about such topics believe that the large horn was Alexander the Great. It fitted the rest of the text, except for the three warnings which Gabri’el gave to Daniel about the vision concerning the end of days.
The thing is, and it is hard to know where it really started, Alexander the Great being the large horn was like filling in 1 Across of a difficult crossword incorrectly – it makes all the other answers wrong. This premise was then applied to all of what is contained in Daniel and lots of conclusions were made. They have used the notion that the third kingdom is Greece and, therefore, the fourth kingdom must be Rome, because the Roman Empire succeeded the Greek Empire.
Take a look at the photo below. It is taken from the Schofield Study Bible. It categorically states that the anti-Christ will come from a resurgent Roman Empire. If you follow that through, the entire church, who have largely been taken in by this theory, are all watching for the Pope to turn into the anti-Christ and take control of the EU and rename it Roman Empire II. Right now, that looks like it will never happen, so the church thinks that there’s plenty of time to get some more oil for their lamps, time enough to have a sleep whilst waiting for the bridegroom’s return. However…
If the poor translation of Yavan for Greece is wrong, then the third kingdom isn’t Greece. Which means that identifying the fourth kingdom as Rome is equally as wrong. Do you see what I mean?
I wonder how many of you will know anything about the Ottoman Empire? Officially, it was founded in 1299 and was finally defeated in 1922. Unofficially, what became known as the Ottoman Empire started with Mohammed and the spread of the Islamic Caliphate in the early 600s AD. It was the most powerful and longest surviving empire of all time. It crushed everything and everyone who got in its way, including the Roman Empire. But, I bet very few of you reading this were ever taught about the Ottoman Empire in history. I was a pretty avid history student and I cannot recall ever hearing of this most significant of empires whilst at school. Ask yourself why that might be.
I heard today someone talking about the book of Daniel and saying that it is the one book that Satan doesn’t want us to understand because of the detail contained within it. If we understand its true meaning then we won’t be falling asleep whilst we await the resurrection of Rome. We will understand that the counterfeit faith which will deceive Hebrews and Christians alike, which we are warned of throughout the New Testament, is in fact, Islam. I suspect that Satan is keen for us to be wrong about the end times – the more he deceives into receiving the mark of the beast, the more will lose their lives. He wants to destroy all mankind, including Muslims. He hates man, because God loves us – enough to sacrifice His own Son on our behalf.
It is time for the church to wake up from its little slumber party with the world and the things of the world. It is time to start looking at the word of God again and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal its true meaning to us. We must stop relying on commentaries and books and blogs like this for our understanding. It is all about a personal relationship with God through His Holy Spirit. It is to the Spirit that we must look, not to a preacher who needs to sell copies of his latest book.
I said earlier that I had been thinking about how I came to thinking the way I did about Daniel. The truth is, I read about it in a book. And it was a book I know was a best seller. Many, many Christians read the same book and many of them would have lacked the discernment needed, just as I did. Do not be deceived. That’s what Yeshua said when His disciples asked what would be the signs of the end of the age. Do not be deceived. I wonder how many of us and how often we have been deceived by people within our own number. They don’t do it on purpose. They genuinely think that they are serving God.
I think we will wind this part up here. I need to set out the final prophecy of the book of Daniel carefully so that there is no confusion. Digest what I have written here today. I sense it is of great importance. The church is asleep. It needs waking up before it’s too late. Read the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew chapter twenty-five. You will see my concern.