One minute America seemed immune to world terror.
The next minute - and the hours and days that followed - the world changed forever.
Now months later America is coming under more and more opposition because of supporting Israel with its holy city Jerusalem.
It seems obvious that this is really a religious war between much of the Muslim world and the Christian/Judaic world.
Does the Bible outline in a prophetic shadow of what Christians might expect in world developments?
Many feel the answer is a mighty, Yes! Others wonder, How can I find this out for myself?
The answer lies in the application of “wisdom” when reading Daniel and Revelation. [Daniel 12:3, 10; Revelation 13:18; 17:9]
This subject is not of just recent interest, for the prophet Daniel raised the question regarding a dream he had over 2,500 years ago. The prophet had seen a night-vision of four beasts rising out of the Mediterranean. [Daniel 7:1-7] The general outline of the vision was very similar to one Daniel had already interpreted for the king of Babylon - an image constructed of four main components. [Daniel 2:31-45]
Daniel is very interested in the meaning or interpretation of his own dream-vision. Let us briefly examine the general outline. There are four beasts with the fourth one very different from the preceding three - “fierce, awe-inspiring and unusually powerful. The fourth beast had huge iron teeth. The fourth beast was devouring and pulverizing, and whatever remained it trod underfoot.” [Daniel 7:7]
Associated with this fourth kingdom are ten horns. Daniel’s attention is focused on these ten horns, for an eleventh “small horn” rises up among the ten. This small horn triumphs over three of the original ten. The small horn has human eyes and a mouth speaking arrogantly. Beastly animals are not noted for human eye-sight and speech.
At this moment the scene changes to one of a Judgment Throne and the Ancient of Days. [Daniel 7:9, 10] It seems in his dream-vision that as the small horn was speaking arrogantly, the vision suddenly shifts to the judgment on the four beasts. The fourth beast receives the worst judgment as it is slain and its body burned up in fire. The three other beasts of the original four are permitted to continue living for “a time and a season.” [Daniel 7:9-12]
In this context Daniel sees someone like a human being [“a son of humankind”] ascending to heaven. This “human being” is brought into the presence of he Ancient of Days and given “rulership, dignity, and a realm with peoples of all ethnic groups and tribes. [Daniel 7:13, 14]
We can understand Daniel’s distress and fear in seeing this dream-vision so real it was as though he stood in the audience with the angels presence before the Judgment-Throne. He surely wanted - as we would - “reliable information” regarding the meaning behind this dream. So we see him approach “one of those [angelic] persons standing before the Ancient of Days.
The unnamed angel gives a brief summary on the overall, general meaning of the whole vision: a] four kingdoms would rise in the earth; BUT, b] at the end of the day “the Saints of the Most High” - likely including that “someone like a human being” who had been seen ascending to heaven - will receive the Kingdom throughout all future periods of time.
Daniel wants to know more of the details regarding this fourth kingdom punished so severely, and the “small horn” that rises up among the “ten horns” of the slain beast. But just as he wants to know more the original dream-vision continues from verse 14. We are not told how much time elapses between verse 14 and verse 21, 22.
Daniel sees this “small horn” bringing oppression against the Saints of the Most High. But suddenly the Most High arrives in a sudden visitation and judges in favor of the Saints. At that the Saints finally inherit the Kingdom. [Daniel 7:21, 22]
The angelic interpreter interrupts Daniel’s dream-vision by beginning to add more interpretative details regarding this fourth beast. This fourth kingdom will be “different” from the other three. It will devour all the land and crush underfoot any opposition. [Daniel 7:23] Clearly the other three beasts could do nothing to stop the fourth iron-like beast.
Now the angel explains that out of this fourth beast ten horns will rise up, and then still another [11th] horn will “rise up after them.” This small horn will, a] be different from the other ten; and, b] humiliate three of the ten. This small horn will speak in blasphemy against the Most High. It will attempt to change divine law and divine timing of events. It will be given a special period of 3.5 years to war against the Saints. However, in the end of matters the rulership of this small horn will finally be removed and be totally destroyed.
We can give our own further interpretations to what Daniel saw and the angel’s limited explanation. However, Hebrews 1:1 says that The God now speaks through “a Son.” Did Jesus Christ ever give some explanation to Daniel’s prophecies? At the end of the book Daniel receives an angelic command “to seal up the book until the time of the end.” [Daniel 12:9] Could Christ unseal and open the meaning behind these prophecies? If he did so, that would seem to be “the time of the end.” We are assured by Daniel 12:10 that the wicked will not understand this, but “those having insight will.” [Daniel 12:10]
Did Jesus - during “the days of his flesh” - ever refer to the book of Daniel? Yes, indeed. He does so when answering an apostolic question regarding the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24:3, 15. In Matthew 24:15 Jesus borrows the exact wording in Daniel 9:24-27. Further, the Nazarene Master - to whom the book of Daniel was then unsealed - alludes to “the great oppression” which finds its original source in Daniel 7:25 and there after in Daniel 12:2.
In the three Gospel accounts - often called the “little apocalypse” - Jesus borrows the language of Daniel in describing the destruction of Jerusalem in a “great oppression.” [Matthew 24:15-22] Luke 21:20-24 gives something of an expanded interpretation to Matthew’s wording. In Luke Jesus paints a vivid picture of the desolation of Jerusalem. He had mentioned the same not long before in Luke 19:41-44.
What may all this mean then? It seems fair that one conclusion would be this: three of the four kingdoms begin with the very world power that had made Daniel a captive in Babylon. Today Babylon is modern Iraq, still much in the news. The power that overthrew Babylon was Persia. Today Persia is in modern Iran, still much in the news. The third power was Greece, the location for the upcoming Olympics. Clearly all three of these powers are still in existence.
It seems fair to conclude that the fourth kingdom was that of the Roman Empire. Rome conquered the territories of all three of the previous three Mediterranean powers. The fourth kingdom was described as being “different” from the previous three. What was this difference? First, a racial difference. The previous three had been Semitic racially. That is, descendents of Noah’s son Shem, just like the Hebrews. The Romans were racially Japhetic as descendants of another son of Noah. [Genesis 10, 11] Also, the form of government of Rome was quite different in that it was a republic with a Caesar and not a pure monarchy.
Now, we ask: during the period of Roman rule was there “someone like a human being” that ascended to heaven to receive his kingdom? Surely there was in the year 33 AD as recorded in Acts 1:6-11. For we find Jesus using many times the designation found in Daniel - “son of humankind” - in applications to himself.
So, Jesus borrows from Daniel several times during his earthly ministry. [Matthew 24:15 = Daniel 9:25-27; Matthew 24:21 = Daniel 7:25; Luke 21:24 = Daniel 7:25; John 5:29 = Daniel 12:2] Most importantly he borrows from Daniel 7:25 and Daniel 12:1 concerning a “great tribulation” against God’s people. The angel before Daniel says this tribulation prominently cover a period of 3.5 years. Later in chapter eight of Daniel another angel says there will be a larger period covering 2,300 days. Did this happen following the ascension to heaven of that one like a human being?
The Romans finally launched war against the Jews beginning in the fall of the 66 AD. This ended with the destruction of Jerusalem with its temple in the spring of 70 AD. This was 3.5 years. However, the war did not end there. For the Romans mint coins commemorating each year of the war with the Jews, and one has been found as the 5th coin. For surely the Jewish-Roman war continued until the spring of the year 73 AD when Masada as the lost stronghold was conquered. From the fall of 66 to the spring of 73 is about 2,300 days! Thus, there was a “great tribulation” against the Jews following the ascension of Christ to heaven.
What would be the Most High’s response to the Roman execution of His Christ and the oppression against the “chosen ones”? Judgment! Rome would be judged by God on the basis of her “books” of accounts. In God’s time Rome would be “slain” and destroyed. Is this what happen? Where is the Roman Empire today? We ask this question despite the fact that the Russian emperor adopted the Russian for Caesar - Czar. And the German chancellor used the Germanic name - Kaiser. This is despite the fact the Hitler wanted to establish the “Third Reich” of the Roman Empire.
Beyond anyone’s abilities to predict the Roman Empire slowly became Christianized beginning with the 4th Century. By the year 800 AD only the Roman Catholic Church could appoint and remove kings. The old Roman Empire was gone. However, Babylon, Persia and Greece remained. Thus started the period of the “Second Reich” in the fragmentation of Rome into “ten” Papal States - all monarchies.
Over the centuries European monarchies rose in the form of England, Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, Holland and others. Near the beginning of the 17th Century a movement began as untold numbers of pilgrims journeyed to the far off New World - a land surrounded by great oceans and great land masses. Though under the power of the British Empire and the influence of some other European states a new kind of government began to form, something unlike anything in Europe - a democracy. It had no big navies or armies, but the seemingly insignificant “small horn” brought free from its “motherland” England and started an entirely new nation unlike any other in the history of humankind.
The fledgling nation of America face three prominent opponents. England in the northeast, France in the south and Spain in the west. Each of these was “humiliated” by either direct conflict or economic victory. To this day many in the northeast resemble England, in the south some speak a form of French, and in the southwest Spanish is a second language.
It seems a fair conclusion that the “small horn” is indeed America. During much of the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century a new movement began. The iron-tyranny and monarchial governments that had descended from the Roman Empire came into conflict with new democratic, socialist and communist movements. A rebellion in France, much patterned after the American revolution, broke the French monarchy. The same happened in Russia and then later all the other European powers.
Some see in this general movement across the globe the effort to mix iron with clay as seen in the vision of the great image in Daniel chapter two. This effort is not to succeed despite a United Nations, a European Union, and the collapse of the Soviet Empire. [Daniel 2:41-43] Nor will the “small horn” turn out to be victorious at the end of the day.
It is clear Jesus borrows his language about a “great oppression” against the Chosen Ones from Daniel chapters 7, 11 and 12. A reading of Daniel 11:40-45 in contrast to the 1st century Jewish history Josephus shows a marvelous fulfillment of the prophet Daniel during the “time of the end” in the 1st Century. For Daniel describes a king from out of the north of Israel who invades the land of Judea with its capitol Jerusalem. This happened in the year 66 AD. However, the Roman armies withdrew and headed south against another king, likely Egypt. The Romans then turn west in northern Africa. In Libya the Roman general received “reports” from Rome in the north and Judea in the east. He returned and finished the job started in 66 three years earlier.
Thus, a 3.5-year period of “great oppression” occurred in the land of Judea just as Daniel and Jesus predicted. But, one must remember that though history might focus on the Jews, the Christians were also a center of Roman wrath. For during this period such august Saints as Paul and Peter were executed as martyrs, along with hundreds of thousands of other disciples of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Out of this “great oppression” only a remnant of the “chosen ones” escaped, either having fled into the mountains or as slaves in Rome and Alexandria, Egypt.
However, the language of Jesus seems to suggest another “great oppression.” We can say this with a degree of certainty because the Glorified Master revealed such to his disciple John near the beginning of the 2nd Century AD. Decades after the destruction of Jerusalem as a result of the 3.5-year great oppression by the Romans, John here is the phrase “great oppression” a second time. This happens in the context of the 6th Seal and is recorded at Revelation 7:9-14. It would seem this could not apply to the first “great oppression” upon Judea, but another, even greater period of oppression against those identified as Christian Saints.
Some forget that the book of Revelation comes from The God through His Son Jesus Christ. [Revelation 1:1] So that Revelation is really “a revelation by Jesus Christ.” As such it fills in many of the blanks regarding a second “great oppression” against the end-time Saints. The new rendering of Revelation with its many hundreds of footnotes - that is, the 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures© - provides the details when Jesus through his apocalyptic angel applies elements of Daniel to the end-time Saints.
After reading Daniel 7:21-25 read with care Revelation chapters 11, 12 and 13 and not the clear allusions back to this source in Daniel. Are we to think that what happened to the Jews and Christians during the “great oppression” between 66-70 AD is something of a type or shadow of a much bigger “great oppression” just before the return of Christ? The Nazarene Master seems to answer, Yes.
Note that in Matthew 24 - after describing the “great oppression” upon the Chosen Ones - Jesus moves immediately on to his foretold PAROUSIA [presence/arrival/return]. Can anything be clearer from Matthew 24:29-31 that the Return of Christ and the deliverance of the “chosen ones” occurs after the “great oppression” and not before it? This is in perfect harmony with the original source of the “oppression” against the “Saints of the Most High” in Daniel 7:21-25.
In his revelation Jesus applies many of the features of Daniel 7 and 12 to the end-time Saints living long after the destructive end of the Roman Empire. It seems clear from reading portions of Revelation chapters 11-13 that the “small horn” of Daniel is the wild sea-beast of those chapters. That beast is also to war against the Saints for 3.5 years just prior to the Return of Messiah and the Rapture of the end-time Saints.
Judging from the parables of Jesus and the epistles of Paul the return of Christ is accompanied by the judgment of ALL in the household of faith. This did not happen following the desolation of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Nor did all the Saints ascend to heaven in the 1st Century.
Shortly before his execution the Nazarene had responded to a question regarding the imminent appearance of God’s Kingdom. Jesus gave a parable of a person of royalty who left his household under the management of his slaves and left for a distant land. There the nobleman received his kingdom. Now Matthew 25:19 says this nobleman would return “after a long time.” When he does return and becomes present among his slaves the time to judge these occurs. [Luke 19:11-27]
How long would this “after a long while” be? Judging from Daniel and Revelation several things must occur first. These include what we have discussed above: the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, the arise of the Papal States, the rise of the “small horn” who humiliates three of the ten horns. Further, judging from Daniel chapter 2 this would follow the attempt to mix the iron of the Roman Empire with the clay of the Mass Man in its democratic, socialistic and communistic forms. The Return of the Master would have to occur after the 3.5 years of Great Oppression against the end-time Saints by the wild sea-beast. Thus, this “long time” has turned out to be more than nineteen centuries as we enter the 21st Century.
In his Revelation Jesus paints a prophetic picture of other details of the political developments before the 3.5 years of great oppression begins, and thus before the Master can return in his foretold parousia. In Revelation chapter 13 the wild beast coming out of the sea is described as having seven heads and ten horns. Now one of these seven horns is “slain” and yet revives such death-stroke.
Judging from Revelation 11:7 and Revelation 17:8 it is most likely it is the 7th head that experiences a “death-stroke” and yet is revived. This is the political entity that will ultimately war against the Saints for 3.5 years. Jesus says that the 7th head “remains a short while” before being abyssed and then climbing back out of such abyss. [Revelation 17:10]
If we judge these matters correctly - and without being dogmatic - the “small horn” of Daniel is the same as the wild Sea-Beast of Revelation. Though this “small horn” is to ascend above its “ten” associates, it would seem that Jesus predicts a sudden end to the 7th Head of the wild Sea-Beast, only to see it revived. It is after this reviving that the 8th Head that the entire planet marvels over this resuscitation.
What may this mean? Though the original Roman Empire was “slain” in fulfillment of Daniel, the 21st Century descendant of the former iron-like power also experiences a brief “sword-stroke”. However, it revives, and it is this revival that so impresses earth’s inhabitants. If the prophetic scenario discussed in this article is true, then America must suffer what seems at least to be a “death-blow.” This must be enough to end the existence of the 7th Head and allow for the appearance of a new mode in the form of an 8th King. The thought of America receiving any kind of “death-blow” before September 11 would have seemed ridiculous in the extreme. Today that is no longer the case.
Indeed, within months of 9/11 some in the European Union are opposing America’s policies in the Middle East. It is no secret that Europe en toto has been anti-Semitic throughout the past century. In addition to this negative movement against the United States, the Muslim world around the globe has become anti-American. Events have moved very rapidly since 9/11, and they seem to move even fast with current events this spring. What can yet happen to direct matters toward an Armageddon finale?
How is this revived 7th Head described in its 8th political mode? This political power is particularly identified with the “sea.” What modern power is closely associated with two great oceans - the Pacific and the Atlantic? Who has the largest and most powerful navy in the history of humanity? Additionally, it has global power. [Revelation 13:7] It is worshipped by a large portion of earth’s inhabitants. [Revelation 13:8, 16] It controls the global economy. [Revelation 13:17] It will either imprison or execute those who resist. [Revelation 13:10] This will no doubt include the end-time Saints. [Revelation 13:10] This 8th Head uses another power that “ascends out of the earth.”
The 8th World Power as the revived 7th Head is so powerful that the worshippers of the political power ask, “Who can battle with it?” We ask now at the beginning of the 21st Century, What world power is now so strong martially and economically so that none can successfully go to war with it? Who has the most powerful navy that roams all the oceans of the world?
Another political entity emerges in the above scenario: a beast that comes not up out of the sea but out of the earth. [Revelation 13:11] It also “speaks like a dragon” though having the appearance of a young lamb with just the appearing butts of tiny horns. Now, there is the temptation to draw some kind of parallel between this lamb and “the Lamb” Christ. However, the imagery of a lamb with small gnubbins for horns may indicate just that - a benign agency[s] that function by the power and authority of another. We ask up front then, Is there some body[s] that the American sea-beast uses to carry out its mouthings? Readily the United Nations and NATO come to mind.
This earth beast is later called “the False Prophet.” [Revelation 19:20] It receives authority, likely from the Dragon’s representative the wild Sea-Beast. The Sea-Beast seems to speak while the Earth-beast performs what it is asked to do. This Earth-Beast, no doubt authorized by the wild Sea-Beast, accomplishes several things. First, it is able to call down fire out of heaven. We ask is there a power today with the potential to “call down dire out of atmosphere or the space around the earth with hundreds of satellites now orbit? Second, the Earth-Beast forces earth’s inhabitants to “make an image of the wild Seat-Beast” and then make these from all social levels to worship this Image. The Image is of the political power that seemed to be slain but then was healed. This event is so over-whelming that the entire globe is willing to worship this political image.
Finally, the Earth-Beast has complete control of earth’s economy and finances. We ask, Is there some political and commercial power on earth now that has the capability of creating a one world economy? There is no greater power than that which controls the pocket-book and what and how people may “buy or sell” and thus sustain themselves. In this context the Earth-Beast creates an “engraving” of the name - likely of the Sea-Beast - which permits commercial activity.
Those who refuse to worship the beast and accept the engraving must face either concentration camps or execution. [Revelation 13:10] It is clear this is directed at the end-time Saints. No doubt all the above lays the ground work for the Great Oppression against the last members of the Church of Christ on earth.
Some have asked if the Muslims show up in the above prophetic scenario? If we take Daniel 11:40-45 as having a second, major application our answer must be, Yes. In Daniel the “king of the north” - perhaps from NATO, or those anti-Semitic peoples to the north of Israel like Syria - comes against Judea and Jerusalem with its “mountain of Decoration.” Note from verses 41-43 that other nations are listed as supporting the northern king. These include Edom, Moab, Ammon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya. These ancient names were old enemies of Israel and today they are all Muslim countries. They may include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya. Certainly it seems to become more and more manifest that the entire Muslim world is opposed to Israel and the Jews.
As much as some quarters wish not to discuss the religious tension between the Muslim world and the Christian/Judaic world such cannot be ignored. Most often the news media uses the word “Arabs” for Muslims and Israel for “Jews.” They try to hide the religiosity behind these present conflicts. The hatred between the Arabic world and the Jewish world is not centuries old, it is millennia-old. Some would argue that the so-called “holy crusades” that began in the year 1,000 AD still continue and are now reaching a kindling point. Only the future can expose just how serious this conflict will become.
The Church founded by Jesus the Nazarene was foretold by him - and all his inspired disciples - to become something of a counterfeit. [Matthew 16:18; 13:38, 39; Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Thessalonians chapter 2; 2 Peter chapter 2; Jude; First John chapters 2, 4] This corrupt and apostate Christian Church is called “Babylon the Great” in Revelation. It is called a “great city” that has influenced the kingly powers of the past and present. It is compared to three others: Sodom for its immorality, Egypt for its false doctrines, and Jerusalem for its apostasy. [Revelation 11, 17, 18]
It is becoming increasingly clear to common folk - likened to the waters over which Babylon resides - that the Christian Church is characterized by several factors: lowering moral standards, political influence, and greed for money. How long will it take before political leaders wake up to the fact that “religion” lies behind most of the world’s problems? And, the Christian world cannot hide its involvement with corrupt and immoral political leaders. We should expect a growing hatred for all that is “Christian” - including its Jewish roots. In this regard, the true “wheat” as the “children of the Kingdom” will not be seen as any different from the Christian Church at large. Like the Roman wrath that descended on the Jewish world - including the Christians - in the 1st Century, the New-Rome in the 8th political mode of the wild Sea Beast will also come down on the Christian Church for its sticking its nose into the political, social, commercial and ethical matters of the wild Sea Beast.
This hatred for the Christian/Judaic world will first ferment and then manifest itself in the modern “ten horns” of the European Union. Already - daily - there are attacks against Christian churches and Jewish synagogues throughout the world. Surely the prophetic ground-work is being laid for the apocalyptic developments described in Revelation chapters 13, 17, and 18.
In the midst of all these developments Jesus unveils in his revelation that the end-time Saints will come out victorious. No matter how bad the satanic manipulation of the wild Sea Beast and other political and commercial entities, the Saints will conquer because of their faith, obedience and testimony. Though the whole world is misled by Satan, the Saints will conquer him. [Revelation 12:11; 13:10]
These end-time Saints cannot escape the horrors of the coming “great oppression” against them, no more than the Jewish “chosen ones” could in the 1st Century. Some Christians may recoil at the very idea of such persecution, but why should modern Christians not endure what their brothers experienced nearly two thousand years ago? Is not Satan even angrier now that he knows his time is short? [Revelation 12:12, 17] The end-time Saints in Revelation are called “martyrs” several times.
No matter how bad the great oppression becomes - like none other in the history of the Church [Daniel 12:1; Mark 13:19] - the end-time Saints will come out victorious because of their faith in the Lamb, their obedience to God’s commandments, and the word of their testimony. [Revelation 12:11, 17] At some future moment - at what seems like the darkest hour of the Church - a heavenly voice will be heard, “Come on up here!” [Revelation 11:12] Right out of the “great city” Babylon the end-time Saints will be glad to respond to the call, “Come out of her, My People” so they are not present when the ten horns turn on the “great harlot.” [Revelation 18:4] From their heavenly position - enjoying the Marriage Feast of the lamb - the Saints will know that on earth the “ten horns” have turned on Babylon the Great. And then - O joy! - following their “marriage to the Lamb” the glorified Church will go forth with Christ to the battlefield of Armageddon. There all the political powers and their armies will come to their end. Complete, wondrous victory! [Revelation 17:14; 19:9-21]
The modern Christian should not fret in anxiety over what may lie ahead. One has been appointed by God to “watch over those who are born from above” so that the Devil does not get a grip on the Saint to his/her ruin. [1 John 5:18] No matter how much the temporary suffering we may endure, it is nothing in comparison to the glory that is to be revealed in us. [Romans 8:18] We pray that at the critical moment in the outworking of God’s “eternal purpose” we will “as these things begin to take place, stand up straight and look upward, for our deliverance approaches.” [Luke 21:27] Without any fear or anxiety we can proclaim, Maran’atha! [1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20]
[For more details see the Biblical Article The Prophetic Horizon or Nazarene Commentary 2000-2002© available on the Friends of the Nazarene web site. Or, order a hard copy edition of the Twenty-first Century Paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures© on Daniel.]
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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