Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Islam and Daniel's Four Kingdoms
While most commentaries claim that the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7 is the Roman Empire, a close examination of the scriptures involved -- and secular history itself -- prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fourth kingdom is the Islamic Empire! This, of course, raises the question of the previous kingdoms -- how could the fourth kingdom be the Islamic Empire if the one following Babylon was Medo-Persia? The truth is that the second and third kingdoms of Daniel's prophecies are Media AND Persia -- two distinct kingdoms that retained their individual identities after Cyrus' rise to power!
John D. Keyser
Chapters 2 and 7 of the book of Daniel contain visions which symbolically portray the rise and fall of four unnamed world empires. Futuristic interpreters of these chapters claim that most of the events therein will be fulfilled just prior to the future appearance of the Messiah; while those interpreters of the Historic persuasion claim that the events of Daniel 2 and 7 were fulfilled long ago and have no future fulfillment. Who is right?
Futuristic interpreters identify the four empires as: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Since these Futurists cling to the idea of a future "Great Tribulation" which, they say, cannot be identified in Roman history, they push the events portrayed in Daniel 2 and 7 off into the future. But when you study these chapters closely, it becomes apparent that the events found within actually do stretch from Daniel's time in Babylon all the way to the appearance of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on this earth. So, in reality, both the Futuristic and Historic fulfillment camps are partially right!
This article will demonstrate, through detailed analysis, that Daniel did not consider the second empire to be Medo-Persian -- nor did he consider the fourth empire to be Rome! Our study will show that the four empires of Daniel are Babylon, Media, Persia and Islam -- and that periods of "tribulation" occurred under Antiochus Epiphanes, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, and with more certainly occurring in the future! There are a number of different "tribulation" periods found in Daniel's book as well as in the book of Revelation; and some occur in the future and some have found their fulfillment in the past.
The "Times of the Gentiles"
It has been said that Futuristic interpreters base their identification of the four world empires on a 21-st-century perspective, and that they have a misguided understanding of the "time of the end" in the book of Daniel. Some say that Futurists assume that phrases such as the "time of the year" (Daniel 12:9), and "end of the days" refer to the second advent of the Messiah. Hence, state these naysayers, the Futurists interpret the sequence of events in the four world empires that anticipate the "end" to be events leading up to the second advent. Along with this it is asserted that the Futurists believe the visions in chapters 2 and 7 of Daniel span a period of time called the "times of the Gentiles" -- extending from Daniel's day to the arrival of the Messiah. As a result, Futurists understand the four world empires to be a prophesied panorama of history extending now to almost 2,600 years.
Is this really true?
At the heart of the futuristic interpretation of these two subject chapters is what is known as the Roman view, which identifies Rome as the fourth empire. Futurists cite the prophecy's fulfillment from Nebuchadnezzar to the height of the Roman Empire (lst century A.D.). Since the events under the dominion of the fourth empire are unidentifiable in Roman history, a 2,000-year gap is inserted to bring the prophecy up to the present time. Futurists contend that the prophecy resumes fulfillment in the last days with the rise of a "revived Roman Empire" ruled by the Antichrist. Complete fulfillment, so they claim, will occur during a seven-year tribulation period, culminating in the second advent of the Messiah.
Viewing history from a twenty-first-century perspective -- the Roman view -- with its accompanying period of "Great Tribulation, appears credible and has long been held to be the accepted view. There is, however, a number of problems with this scenario. Ask yourself this question: WHY did YEHOVAH God use the figure of a statue? Shouldn't the three kingdoms following the Babylonian be centered in the same location as the first? The whole stature is standing perfectly straight when YEHOVAH's Kingdom breaks it into pieces (Daniel 2:34). This means that as in the human body where the head controls or affects the rest of the body beneath it, the head of Daniel's statue (Babylon) controls and affects the empires that come after it. Since the head of the statue is Babylon, the following three empires must also have Babylon within their confines.
This creates a problem when you consider the fourth beast to be the Roman Empire -- Rome NEVER controlled Babylonia and Babylon! The other three empires always contained Babylon and surrounding territories within their confines -- but Rome did not.
Some have said that Greece was the fourth empire but this view, also, has some problems. The Greek Empire ended in 146 B.C. and has not been revived since. Also, like the Roman Empire, it did not come out of the Middle East.
Daniel's intended identification of these four world empires is the primary consideration in this article, not an identification that depends on a retrospective view. Daniel attached special significance to the depiction of the visions' events. Therefore, an identification of the four world empires must be sought from the book of Daniel with primary consideration given to the author's historical perspective.
Nebuchadnezzar's Troubling Dream
The vision in Daniel 2 is a troubling dream experienced by King Nebuchadnezzar -- one which he could not remember the next day. The king summoned the "magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans" (verse 2) to tell him the dream and its meaning. The wise men failed. But Daniel, aided by YEHOVAH God, was able to relate the dream to the king as well as tell him what it meant:
"As you looked, O king, there was a great statue! That statue was huge, its appearance surpassing, standing before you, and its appearance was terrifying. As for that statue, its head was of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its waist and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly clay" (Daniel 2:31-33, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
Daniel informed King Nebuchadnezzar that his dream was of a "great statue" composed of various metals. The statue's head was made of gold; the chest and arms of silver; the waist and thighs of bronze; and the legs of iron. Daniel also explained the dream's significance --
"You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory; into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, human beings, the wild animals, and the birds of the air, and whom he has made ruler over them all -- you are the head of gold. After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and then a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the entire earth. Then there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and shatters everything, it shall crush and smash all these, like iron which crushes, all the earth" (Daniel 2:37-40, ibid.).
Daniel explained to the king that the four metals represented four successive kingdoms that would rule on the earth. Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian kingdom is identified as the "head of gold," to be followed by an "inferior kingdom," represented by the chest and arms of silver. A third kingdom of "bronze" is represented by the waist and thighs. The fourth kingdom, the legs of iron, will be "strong as iron," and will "crush and shatter" the previous kingdoms. Daniel then describes events under the dominion of the fourth kingdom:
"Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay" (Daniel 2:41-43, NKJV).
The Tanakh renders verse 43 as follows: "You saw iron mixed with common clay; that means: they shall intermingle with the offspring of men, but shall not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay."
Symbolized by the "feet and toes," the fourth kingdom -- the legs of iron -- will be divided. How can any kingdom be divided in two and yet be united? The answer is simple -- they both have the same clay and iron. Therefore, the differences must be religious or ideological. The divided kingdom will retain some of the strength of iron, but it will also have weaknesses, represented by the clay. There is also the mingling "with the seed of men" that indicates the people of the fourth kingdom will be found among all the nations of the world but will not form close ties with them (or with each other) because "iron does not mix with clay."
"And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be delivered to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever; just as you saw that a stone was hewn from the mountain by no human hand, and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable" (Daniel 2:44-45, ibid.).
Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that during the time of the divided kingdom, the "God of heaven" will establish a kingdom that "shall never be destroyed." YEHOVAH's kingdom will "break" all previous kingdoms and "stand forever." Right here this blows the purely Historical viewpoint right out the window! This is further reinforced by Daniel 7:17-18 and verses 21-22 -- notice!
"Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom [of YEHOVAH God], and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever" (Daniel 7:17-18).
"I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them [a future "tribulation" period], until the Ancient of Days [YEHOVAH God] came [to this earth, to Jerusalem], and judgment was made in favor of the saints [true Christians] of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom [of YEHOVAH God]."
Then, in Daniel 7:27 after discussing the fourth beast of kingdom, the prophet goes on to say --
"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."
Clearly, Daniel's four kingdoms extend down to our day and on out to the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. Daniel concludes by emphasizing that "the dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable."
The Animals from the Great Sea
Four beasts, which also symbolize the same four world empires of Daniel 2, are found in Daniel 7. The vision of the beasts is given to Daniel and interpreted by an angel, much in the same way that Daniel interpreted the dream image of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2 -- notice!.
"I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great animals emerged from the sea, each different from one another. The first was like a lion but with eagles' wings. I kept watching until its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand up on two feet like a human; and it was given a human mind. Another beast appeared, a second one that looked like a bear, but raised up on one side, and with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told: "Arise, devour much flesh!" After this, as I looked, another appeared, like a leopard. The animal had four wings of a bird on its back and four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I was watching in the visions by night, and a fourth beast appeared, terrifying and dreadful and very powerful. It had great iron teeth that devoured, crushed, and trampled residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns" (Daniel 7:2-7, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
Daniel's vision describes four beasts: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and an unidentified fourth beast. Each beast has specific unnatural features and qualities. An angel appears to Daniel and explains the vision's meaning.
"As for these great beasts, which number four, four kings shall spring up out of the earth" (Daniel 7:17, ibid.).
The four beasts are identified as four kings (or kingdoms). The first three beasts are not described further; they exist simply to build for the reader an historical bridge from the time of Daniel in Babylon, to the time of the fourth kingdom. Just as he did in Daniel 2, the author depicts the fourth kingdom as the most powerful. The vision continues with a more detailed explanation of the breakup of the fourth kingdom.
"As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall spring up and another shall spring up after them. This one shall be different from those before him, and shall lay low three kings" (Daniel 7:24, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
On the head of the fourth beast are ten horns, representing "ten kings" to arise out of the fourth empire. Particularly interesting is an eleventh horn which succeeds the ten and is "different from those before him."
"Then kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the entire heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them" (Daniel 9:27, ibid.).
Here, too, the divided kingdom of the fourth empire is replaced by YEHOVAH God's kingdom, just as it is in Daniel 2. All of the earth's kingdoms will be replaced by the "holy ones of the Most High," and their kingdom "shall be an everlasting kingdom."
Babylon: The Gold Kingdom
While there is considerable debate concerning the identity of the last three kingdoms, there is mutual consent among interpreters that the Neo-Babylonian Empire is the first kingdom. The statue's head of gold is explicitly stated to represent Nebuchadnezzar's dominion. Daniel tells the king, "you are the head of gold" (2:38).
William Dankenbring understands this when he says: "The head of gold was the Babylonian Empire" (Escape From Armageddon, p. 40).
The Babylonian Empire is also recognized as the first beast in Daniel 7, a "lion that had eagles' wings." Also notice that the lion is used as a symbol for Babylon in the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:7; 49:19; 50:17), and eagles symbolize Babylonian armies (Jeremiah 49:22).
Furthermore, the lion's "wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand upon two feet like a human; and it was given a human mind" (Daniel 7:4). Most interpreters see here a parallel to Nebuchadnezzar's seven-year madness described in Chapter 4 of Daniel. In this account, Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to the level of the beasts for seven years, after which he was restored to human form. Therefore, it may be safely established that the Babylonian Empire is the first of the four world empires.
Most Futurists, however, mistakenly identify the remaining three empires as Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. And events depicted under the fourth empire's dominion -- which cannot be identified in Roman history -- are arbitrarily projected by them out into the future. A careful study of each of the three remaining empires, within the context of Daniel, will reveal, however, that Daniel had in mind Media, Persia, and Islam as the last three kingdoms.
Media: The Ferocious Silver Bear
In all theories seeking to chart the course of world history from the visions of Daniel, the identity of the second of the four world empires directly affects the identity of the third and fourth empires. If Daniel intended Medo-Persia as the second empire, Greece and Rome would complete the sequence as futuristic interpreters contend. But if Daniel distinguished Media and Persia as two separate kingdoms, and if he intended Media to be identified as the second empire then, obviously, the other two kingdoms would be Persia and some other empire. We will demonstrate that Media is indeed the second empire of Daniel.
Ram's Horns Represent Individual Kingdoms
In Chapter 2 of the book of Daniel, the second empire is likened to the "chest and arms of silver" (verse 32). It is further described as an "inferior" kingdom (verse 39) which will succeed the Babylonian Empire. In Chapter 7 of Daniel, the second empire is symbolized by a beast that "looked like a bear" (verse 5).
Futuristic interpreters that adhere to the Roman view understand the second kingdom to be the combined Medo-Persian power. This identification is based primarily on the vision of the Ram and the Goat, where the "kings of Media and Persia" (Daniel 8:20) are represented by the ram's two horns (Daniel 8:3). Futurists maintain that this singular beast, which follows the Babylonian Empire in sequence, represents a combined Medo-Persian Empire. Therefore the second beast in Daniel 7 likewise represents a single empire.
In the vision of the Ram and the Goat, however, Daniel states that the two horns of the ram represent the "kings of Media and Persia." The horns are distinguished from each other, the shorter horn representing Media, and the longer horn representing Persia (Daniel 8:3). Thus it is the two horns that are identified as representing individual kingdoms, and not the ram itself. The ram represents the combined power of the two separate kingdoms.
The Jewish historian Josephus (c. 37-c. 101 A.D.) clearly states that the ram signifies KINGDOMS (plural) -- not one combined kingdom. Notice!
"...God interpreted the appearance of this vision [of the ram] after the following manner: He said that the RAM signified THE KINGDOMS OF THE MEDES AND PERSIANS, and the horns those kings that were to reign in them; and that the last horn signified the last king, and that he should exceed all the kings in riches and glory" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book x, chapter XI, section 7).
If you check out the text in verse 20 in the original Hebrew, you will find that it literally reads: "The ram that you saw the kings of Media and Persia." The verb to be (are) is not in the main clause, so this raises a legitimate question of interpretation. Did Daniel mean to say, "The ram that you saw IS the kings of Media and Persia," or did he mean to say that the "horns ARE the kings of Media and Persia"? There are many reasons to think that he meant to say that the HORNS were the kings of Media and Persia.
Writes Farrell Till --
"First of all, we have to wonder why the writer [Daniel] didn't say that the ram was the kings of Medo-Persia if he meant for the ram itself to symbolize a combined Medo-Persian empire. Why did he clearly distinguish between the Medes and the Persians as he consistently did throughout the book [of Daniel]? In his interpretation of the handwriting on the wall, Daniel told Belshazzar that his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes AND the Persians (5:28), so he had previously spoken of Media and Persia as separate kingdoms. If the writer knew that there was at that time a combined "Medo-Persian" empire, this would have been an excellent opportunity for him to say that the kingdom was being given to the Medo-Persians, but he didn't say that. He said that the kingdom would be divided and given to the Medes AND the Persians. In other words, Daniel's interpretation of the writing was that part of Babylonia would be given to the Medes, and part of it would be given to the Persians, and so the interpretation indicated that the writer [Daniel] thought that Media and Persia were separate kingdoms that would divide the territory of Babylonia between them" (What Medo-Persian Empire?)
In what sense would Daniel have meant that the Baylonian kingdom would be divided if he thought that the whole kingdom was going to be absorbed by a combined "Medo-Persian" empire? The division of territory conquered by ALLIED KINGDOMS was not uncommon in those times, just as it isn't uncommon today -- witness the division of Germany after WWII to the victorious allies. The Medes had, in fact, formed an alliance with Babylonia against the Assyrians in 529 B.C. and the capture of Nineveh in 527 B.C., for all intent and purposes, ended the Assyrian Empire. It managed to hold on to Haran for two more years under the leadership of Ashur-uballit, but it, too, fell to the Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians in 524 -- see the New Bible Dictionary (Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, p. 101).
The fall of the Assyrian Empire did not, however, result in the formation of a Medo-Babylonian kingdom. The conquered territories were simply divided by the ALLIED FORCES. That this custom of dividing conquered territories indeed took place at the fall of Babylon explains why Daniel had interpreted the handwriting on the wall to mean that Belshazzar's kingdom would be divided between the Medes AND the Persians rather than given to the "Medo-Persians."
When Cyrus rose up and defeated the Medes in 468 B.C. (11 years before the fall of Babylon), he did not absorb the kingdom of the Medes but maintained it as a separate entity with many of the rights and privileges of a trusted ally. This we read in A History of Greece by J.B. Bury -- notice:
"...Astyages was hurled from the throne of Media by a hero, who was to become one of the world's mightiest conquerors. The usurper was Cyrus the Great, of the Persian family of the Achaemenids. The revolution signified indeed little more than a change of dynasty; the Persians and Medes were peoples of the same race and the same faith; the realm remained Iranian as before" (Random House, NY, p. 213).
Also, in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1943) we find --
"By the rebellion of Cyrus, king of Persia, against his suzerain Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, in 553 [actually, 471 B.C.], and his victory in 550 [actually, 468 B.C.], the Medes were subjected to the Persians. In the new empire they retained a prominent position; IN HONOUR AND WAR THEY STOOD NEXT TO THE PERSIANS; the ceremonial of their court was adopted by the new sovereigns who in the summer months resided in Ecbatana, and many noble Medes were employed as officials, satraps and GENERALS" (Volume 15, p. 172).
While Cyrus was the overall commander of the forces arrayed against Babylon, Darius the Mede was the commander or general of the separate but equal Median forces. While history hasn't recorded his reasoning, Cyrus allowed the Median forces under his command to storm Babylon rather than his own Persian troops.
Josephus confirms this in his Antiquities of the Jews -- observe!
"...but when Babylon was TAKEN BY DARIUS, and when he, with his kinsman Cyrus, had put an end to the dominion of the Babylonians, he was sixty-two years old. He was the son of Astyages, and had another name among the Greeks" (Book x, chapter XI, section 4).
There is absolutely no reason, then, to think that the ram represented a single "Medo-Persian" empire. The ram's horns represented the kings of Media and Persia, so one horn was Media, and the other one was Persia.
Explains Farrell Till --
"Even the descriptive language of the vision supports this interpretation of the horns: "Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last" (8:3). The fact that both horns were high would symbolically express power, and the one that was higher than the other would suggest that the power of this king was greater than the king represented by the other horn. The higher horn also "came up last," so the imagery here is consistent with known historical facts about the kingdoms of Media and Persia. Media was a powerful kingdom that had allied itself with Babylon to conquer Assyria and then divide its territory, but Persia had later conquered Media under the leadership of Cyrus and absorbed its territory. Quite naturally, then, the power of Persia was greater than the power of Media, so in that sense, the horn that had come up last was higher than the first horn, but obviously the two horns were separate from each other, just as Media and Persia had been separate kingdoms" (What Medo-Persian Empire?).
Also, in Daniel 2 and 7, the prophet is dealing with a sequence of four individual world kingdoms. In the vision of the Ram and the Goat, Daniel's purpose is to demonstrate the overwhelming strength of Alexander's forces which, for a short time, devastated the combined power of two separate kingdoms -- Media and Persia. Therefore, identifying the second empire as futuristic interpreters do, based on the vision of the Ram and the Goat, ignores the fact that individual kingdoms are represented by the ram's two horns, not the ram itself!
The important point to remember here is that Daniel CONSISTENTLY used horns to symbolize kings, so this is a convincing reason why we should understand that the horns on the ram -- and NOT the ram itself -- represented the kings of Media and Persia: "As for the ram which you saw with the two horns, these [the horns] are the kings of Media and Persia" (Daniel 8:20).
The Question of Duality
In Chapter 8 of Daniel, the two horns of the ram are distinguished as representing separate and unequal kingdoms. Interpreters overwhelmingly agree that Persia is the "longer one [horn] that came up second" (Daniel 8:3). Since futurists contend that Medo-Persia is the second empire, it follows that such a distinction should be made in the symbolic representation of the second empire. Futurists attempt such a comparison in Daniel 2 by supposing that the chest and arms of the metallic statue represent the duality of the Medo-Persian union. Robert D. Culver states:
"The duality of the kingdom is obviously represented by the duality of the breasts and arms" ("Daniel," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1987, p. 780).
Clarence Larkin, a prominent dispensational writer of the early twentieth century, goes so far as to specify which arm of the metallic statue represents which kingdom. In his words:
"Thus we see that while the Babylonian Empire was single-headed, the Medo-Persian was a dual Empire, represented by the "two arms" of the Image and the "two horns" of the Ram. The left arm of the Image representing Media the weaker, and the right arm Persia the stronger kingdom" (The Book of Daniel. Philadelphia: Rev. Clarence Larkin Est., 1929, p. 44).
Even though the two horns of the ram are specifically distinguished from each other, such distinction is in no way represented by the metallic statue. The text identifies the second empire simply as the "chest and arms." Had Daniel intended to symbolize Media by one arm, and Persia by the other arm, he would have made some sort of distinction, such as depicting one arm as being stronger, or larger, as Larkin imagines.
Clear indication is provided whenever specific body parts are to have interpretive value, as will be demonstrated by the thighs, feet, and toes of the statue. No such indication is given here, however. The text goes no further than to name the next part of the statue, the chest and the arms, as the second kingdom. Daniel attaches no significance to the two arms or chest; thus, whether the arms are alike or different is of no concern, since Daniel is not using them to represent particular kingdoms, as he is with the horns of the ram. Daniel is simply using these body parts in composing a human figure for his symbolic message.
However, if Media is recognized as the second kingdom, and Persia the third kingdom, such a distinction may be found in Daniel 2. Media, the shorter horn, is pictured as the "inferior kingdom" that arose after the Babylonian Empire. Persia, the longer horn, is then the greater kingdom which will "rule over the whole earth." The relationship between Media and Persia as the second and third kingdoms, respectively, is thus exemplified, and distinguished in Daniel 2 in the same way that the two horns of the ram are.
Duality in the Bear?
Futurists also find duality in the symbolism of the bear that is "raised up on one side" (Daniel 7:5). John F. Walvoord, in his book The Key to Prophetic Revelation, subscribes to this view by stating:
"Although the Scriptures do not answer directly, probably the best explanation is that it [raising up on one side] represented the one-sided union of the Persian and Median Empires. Persia at this time, although coming up last, was by far the greater and more powerful and had absorbed the Medes. This is represented also in chapter eight by the two horns of the ram with the horn that comes up last being higher and greater" (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974, p. 156).
The author's position is one supposed by not recognizing that Daniel is dealing with a sequence of four world empires in Chapter 7, while in Chapter 8, the ram is composed of two individual kingdoms. The context of Daniel does not indicate that the bear's being "raised up on one side" symbolizes a combined power of the Medes and Persians. Again, no distinction exists between the raised and lowered shoulders of the bear that compares with the distinction made between the two horns of the ram.
A closer look at the continuing description of the bear shows that it had "three tusks" (or "ribs," KJV) in its mouth and was given the command, "Arise, devour many bodies!" (Daniel 7:5). Clearly, the aggressiveness of the bear is the intended symbolism, and the bear's raising up on one side must be understood within this context. Critical scholar S.R. Driver has stated:
"Perhaps, on the whole, the most probable view is that the trait (raised up on one side) is intended to indicate the animal's aggressiveness: it is pictured as raising one of its shoulders, so as to be ready to use its paw on that side" ("The Book of Daniel," in Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1922, p. 82).
The bear is depicted in the process of consuming three ribs, and is told to rise up and whet its appetite further by devouring more bodies. The image of the bear as being "raised up on one side" should then be understood as the bear rising up to a striking position to "devour many bodies," as Driver suggests. Therefore Daniel's depiction of the bear suggests that he viewed the second empire as a brutal conqueror that devoured its enemies. This corresponds to the description given of the Medes in Isaiah 13:15-18 which will be explored later in this article.
Daniel Distinguishes Between Medes and Persians
Not to be dismayed, Futuristic interpreters point to other texts in the book of Daniel speaking of the Medes and Persians in an attempt to prove that Medo-Persia is the second empire. Walvoord cites Daniel 8:20-21, 5:28 and 11:2 to illustrate that ". . . Daniel has in view here Medo-Persia and Greece, empires which he later identifies by name" (Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, p. 66).
Robert D. Culver adds Daniel 6:8, 12 and 15 to his list of references to the laws of the Medes and Persians -- laws which were adhered to by Darius the Mede. Culver contends that Darius the Mede represents Medo-Persia. (Daniel and the Latter Days, p. 112).
To the contrary, however, every time the Medes and Persians are mentioned in Daniel they are distinguished from one another, indicating that Daniel viewed them as two distinct groups of people. The first mention of the Medes and Persians occurs in Daniel 5:28 which depicts the fall of the Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian Empire is to be "divided and given to the Medes and Persians." H.H. Rowley, in Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel, explains:
"Clearly, therefore, the author supposed that just as on the fall of Nineveh the Assyrian dominions were divided between the Medes and the Chaldaeans, so the Babylonian Empire was now divided, and part of it fell to the Medes and part to the Persians, as two separate but allied powers" (Cardiff: University of Wales Press Board, 1959, p. 148).
That Media and Persia are distinguished as separate nations by the two horns of the ram is a point made repeatedly throughout the book of Daniel. Daniel always identifies the two nations as either the "Medes and Persians," or "Media and Persia." The fact that he viewed the two nations as separate entities is demonstrated by the statement that Belshazzar's kingdom was divided between them. After the fall of Babylon, Daniel places the city under Median rule:
"In the same night was Baltasar the Chaldean king slain. And Darius the Mede succeeded to the kingdom, being sixty-two years old. And it pleased Darius, and he set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps, to be in all his kingdom; and over them three governors, of whom one was Daniel; for the satraps to give account to them, that the king should not be troubled" (Daniel 5:30-32; 6:1, 2, The Septuagint).
While some interpreters contend Darius was a subordinate of Cyrus, assisting in the rule of Medo-Persia, the text is very clear that "Darius the Mede received the kingdom," not Cyrus. Darius the Mede, representing the Median Empire, is presented as a sovereign ruler over "the whole kingdom," and is referred to as "King Darius" throughout Daniel 6. In Daniel 9 he is further identified as "king over the realm of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 9:1).
This fact is verified by the cuneiform tablets that archaeologists have uncovered from ancient Babylonia. These tablets provide us with evidence that the title, "King of Babylon," WAS NOT USED for Cyrus in the contracts dated to him during the FIRST YEAR after Babylon's conquest in October, 457 B.C. Only the title, "King of Lands," was applied to him in his capacity as king of the Persian Empire. Late in 456 B.C., however, the scribes added the title "King of Babylon," to his list of titles; and this continued throughout the remainder of Cyrus' reign and those of his successors down to the time of Xerxes.
Xenophon, the Greek historian, says in his Cyropaedia that Gobryas was the general whose troops conquered Babylon. He is, in all likelihood, the Darius the Mede mentioned by Daniel. According to the well-attested Nabonidus Chronicle -- an important cuneiform tablet describing the fall of Babylon -- Gobryas' name was Ugbaru. The Chronicle states that he appointed governors in Babylonia (cf. 6:1) and resided in Babylon until he died there one month before the title, "King of Babylon," was added to Cyrus' titles. Darius was very likely Ugbaru's throne name.
While we do not know Ugbaru's ancestry, the Nabonidus Chronicle states that he was the Babylonian governor of Gutium who defected to the Persians and became general of the Persian (Medean?) army that overthrew Babylon. The Anchor Bible Dictionary (vol. 2, p. 34) points out that the Babylonians used the word "Gutium" to refer to the Northeast, and the MEDES were in the northeast part of the Persian Empire. The dictionary also mentions that the historian Berossus lists Gutium with the tyrants of the Medes.
There is another possibility -- Gubaru/Gaubaruwa (whom Xenophon the Greek confused with Ugbaru) was also appointed the governor of Babylonia by Cyrus. Other cuneiform texts show that Gubaru continued living for 14 years as governor not only of the city of Babylon but also of the entire region of Babylonia -- as well as of the "Region beyond the River." Gubaru was ruler over a region that extended the full length of the Fertile Crescent, basically the same area as that of the Babylonian Empire. Darius the Mede, we should remember, is spoken of as being "made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 9:1), but not as "the king of Persia," the regular form for referring to King Cyrus (Daniel 10:1; Ezra 1:1, 2; 3:7; 4:3). So the region ruled by Gubaru would, at the very least, appear to be the SAME as that ruled over by Darius the Mede. Unless further evidence comes from the histories of the time, it is unclear which of these two individuals is the "Darius the Mede" of the scriptures.
Following the reign of Darius is Cyrus the Persian. Daniel is said to have "prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian" (Daniel 6:28). Daniel clearly distinguishes between Darius and Cyrus by their race. Darius, a Mede, controlled Babylon until Cyrus, a Persian, took the throne. Daniel also speaks retrospectively of Darius the Mede (Daniel 11:1) in a vision that is set "in the third year of King Cyrus of Persia" (Daniel 10:1).
Therefore, it can be reasonably concluded that Daniel presents the fall of Babylon as occurring at the hands of both the Medes and the Persians. Median rule of Babylon is presented in the form of the historically identifiable Ugbaru or Gubaru, one of whose throne name was probably "Darius the Mede." He was succeeded by the Persian rule of Cyrus the Persian. Thus, from Daniel's record of Babylon's fall, and that of the cuneiform tablets, Media is the empire which succeeded the Babylonian Empire -- not Medo-Persia!
Daniel Vs. the Futurists
Adherents to the Roman view of the four world empires reject Daniel's conception of an intervening Median Empire, contending that the scenario is not supported by other historical data. According to them, the Median Empire was contemporaneous with the Babylonian Empire and both empires fell to the Persian Empire -- the former in 468 B.C. and the latter in 457 B.C. Futurists therefore argue that it is incorrect to interject Median control of Babylon between the reigns of Belshazzar and Cyrus since Media was already incorporated into the Persian Empire at the fall of Babylon. H.H. Rowley, however, points out that it is Daniel, not the book's interpreter, who distinguishes between Median and Persian control of Babylon. He explains:
"Thus, it is argued that it is an historical error to suppose that a Median kingdom intervened between the fall of Babylon and the reign of Cyrus, and that we have no right to father on to the author of the book of Daniel so grave an error [supposedly] in the interests of our theory...It is he [Daniel] who states that Darius the Mede succeeded Belshazzar, and who elsewhere speaks of "Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldaeans." It is he who says that Daniel prospered "in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian." It is he who represents one as coming to Daniel in a vision which he saw in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, and speaking to him retrospectively of the first year of Darius the Mede. It is therefore he who distinguishes between the race of Darius and that of Cyrus, and who sets a Median control of Babylon between Belshazzar and the Persian rule, and the principle that the visions are to be interpreted by the view of the course of history which the author reveals elsewhere in his book leads unmistakably to the identification of the second empire with the Median" (Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel, pp. 147-148).
The kingdom of Belshazzar was followed by the kingdom that was divided between the Medes and Persians. Darius the Mede received the kingdom for an unspecified length of time (i.e., Median control). His rule was followed by that of Cyrus of Persia (i.e., Persian control). These empires are distinguished as separate kingdoms in the unequal horns of the ram, and a distinction is made between the Medes and the Persians throughout the book of Daniel. Therefore it is clear that Daniel intended for the Median kingdom to be recognized as the second of the four world empires.
Jeremiah's Prophecies Against Babylon
Based on Daniel's view of power transfer, from Babylon to Media to Persia, it seems evident that he used the Old Testament writings to buttress the visions he experienced. More specifically, the book of Jeremiah, which predicts Babylon's destruction at the hands of the Medes, clearly influenced Daniel's work.
"In the first year of Darius the son of Assuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldeans, I Daniel, understood BY BOOKS the number of the years which was the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremias, even seventy years for the accomplishment of the desolation of Jerusalem" (Daniel 9:1-2, The Septuagint).
Daniel says there were "books" which contained the writings of the prophet Jeremiah. Also, these prophecies were "the word of the Lord" concerning the "seventy years" of Babylonian captivity, and were "perceived," or studied, by Daniel. From these two verses, it is obvious that Daniel was familiar with the prophecies of Jeremiah -- especially those relating to the Babylonian captivity. Further, from his statement that Jeremiah was transmitting the "word of the Lord," it may also be concluded that Daniel relied on these "books" as an historical source. Jeremiah is very specific in his prophecy against Babylon. A total and complete destruction of the city is predicted in 50:8-46, a passage too long to quote and, in chapter 51, he repeats the prophecy even more graphically and clearly identifies the MEDES as the instrument of YEHOVAH's anger against Babylon --
"Make the arrows bright! Gather the shields! The LORD has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. For his plan is against Babylon to destroy it, because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for his temple" (Jeremiah 51:11, NKJV).
"Prepare against her [Babylon] the nations, with the kings of the Medes, its governors and all its rulers, all the land of his dominion. And the land will tremble and sorrow; for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitant " (Jeremiah 51:28-29, NKJV).
Jeremiah prophesies Babylon's complete destruction at the hands of the "kings of the Medes," and "every land under their dominion." Jeremiah's railings against Babylon (Jeremiah 50; 51) make no mention of the great Persian Empire as a conqueror of Babylon. Jeremiah specifically refers to the Medes.
In Daniel 9:2, Jeremiah is cited as having recorded the "word of the LORD," therefore, there could be no questioning of this "word," delivered by the great prophet Jeremiah, prophesying Babylon's fall to the Medes -- not the Persians!
Isaiah Also Prophesies Median Destruction
The book of Isaiah also prophesies that "the Medes" will destroy Babylon, thereby providing Daniel with a corresponding historical source. Further, it can be demonstrated that Isaiah's depiction of the Medes corresponds to the symbolic portrayal of Daniel's second empire. Isaiah's "burden" against Babylon begins at chapter 13, where he launches into a condemnation of the Babylonian threat to Israel. "The day of YEHOVAH is at hand," he proclaims. "It will come as a destruction from the Almighty" (v. 6). Beginning at verse 17, he identifies the MEDES as the instrument that YEHOVAH God would use to bring about Babylon's destruction --
"Everyone who is found will be thrust through, and everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes, and their houses will be plundered, and their wives taken. Indeed, I am stirring up the Medes against them [the Babylonians], people who have no regard for silver and no pleasure in gold. Their bows will destroy the youth, and on infants they will have no pity, and their eyes will have no compassion on children. Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty and pride of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never again be inhabited; it will not be lived in from generation to generation. Arabs will not pitch tents there; shepherds will not make their flocks lie down there. Rather wild creatures will lie down there, and their houses will be full of jackal. Ostriches will live there, and wild goats will dance there. Wolves will howl in their towers and jackals in their luxurious palaces. Its time is drawing near, and its days will not be drawn out any further" (Isaiah 13:15-22, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
This was obviously a prophecy predicting a complete and permanent destruction of Babylon. The prediction was that the destruction was imminent ("time is drawing near," v. 22) and that the destruction WOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE MEDES ("I am stirring up the Medes against them," v. 17). No mention of the Persians!
Isaiah offers a graphic depiction of the Median destruction of Babylon. Isaiah says that anyone caught by the Medes, whom he describes as brutal and merciless, will "fall by the sword"; those captured will be "thrust through"; infants will be "dashed to pieces"; houses "plundered"; and wives "taken."
Then, in Isaiah 21:2, the prophet proclaims --
"A distressing vision is declared to me; the treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the plunderer plunders. Go up, O Elam! Besiege, O Media! All its sighing I have made to cease" (NKJV).
These portrayals echo the description of Daniel's second beast, which is also fierce and brutal. Daniel's second beast, a bear, is raised up in a striking position. The bear has three ribs "in its mouth, and is told, 'Arise, devour many bodies!"' (Daniel 7:5). Daniel ascribes the same qualities to Babylon's conqueror as Isaiah does to the Medes. The difference is that Isaiah calls the Medes by name, whereas Daniel uses symbolic references.
The Three Ribs
The three ribs in the bear's mouth may be further identified with Isaiah's description of the Medes. Traditionally, interpreters have understood the three ribs to represent nations conquered by the second empire, even though the text does not state, nor does it indicate, that the ribs represent defeated nations." Howard B. Rand, in his Study in Daniel, claims that
"the three ribs, or a translation by Ferrar Fenton, the three tusks in its mouth among its teeth represent the three main systems of human endevour -- political, economic and religious -- which have devoured much flesh in the form of the oppression which follows in their wake" (Merrimac, MA: Destiny Publishers, 1985, p. 179).
Marshall W. Best maintains that
"the three ribs may represent the kingdoms of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt which were all eventually conquered by this empire" (Through the Prophet's Eye. Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2000, p.56).
Ralph Woodrow also follows this line of reasoning when he states that:
"The mention of "three ribs" in the mouth -- between the teeth where a bear crushes its prey -- is possibly a reference to the fact that Medo-Persia [?] crushed the three provinces that made up the Babylonian kingdom: Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt" (Great Prophecies of the Bible. Riverside, CA: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Inc., 1971, p. 135).
H.H. Rowley concludes, however, that "whatever meaning it [the three ribs] had for the author is irrecoverable" (Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel, p. 154). S.R. Driver suggests another approach to determining the meaning of the ribs. He states that
"... it is quite possible that the ribs in the creature's mouth are meant simply as an indication of its voracity, and are not intended as an allusion to three particular countries absorbed by the empire which it represents" ("The Book of Daniel" in Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, p. 82)..
From the standpoint of Driver's suggestion, the ribs in the mouth of the bear may be seen as symbolizing the three groups of Babylonians that Isaiah points to as particularly vulnerable to Median attack. Isaiah says the Medes will:
1) "slaughter young men";
2) "have no mercy on the fruit of the womb (infants, NIV)";
3) "not pity children."
It is thus reasonable to conclude that the young men, infants, and children devoured by the Medes are represented by the ribs in the mouth of the bear. Said another way, the three ribs in the mouth of the beast represent Median conquest of Babylon. While this identification is inconclusive, it is supported by the context of Daniel and corresponds well with Isaiah's portrayal of the Medes, which seems to have greatly influenced Daniel.
Persia Is the Third Kingdom
Map of First Persian Empire
With the Median Empire having been identified as the second empire, Daniel's third empire logically is Persia. Daniel describes the third empire in Daniel 2 as the "waist and thighs of bronze" (verse 32) that shall "rule over the entire earth" (verse 39). In Daniel 7, the third empire is symbolized by a leopard that has "four wings of a bird on its back and four heads" (verse 6). Futuristic interpreters, insisting that Medo-Persia is the second empire, understand Greece as the third empire:
"Correspondence between the Medo-Persian empires of chapter two, symbolized by the breast and arms of silver and the two-horned ram of chapter eight is unmistakable. That ram is specifically said to be "Media and Persia," and the he-goat kingdom of chapter eight, which succeeded it, is said to be Greece. The Bible clearly identifies the third kingdom as Greece" (Daniel and the Latter Days, p.113).
Robert D. Culver's statement here relies on interpreting the second kingdom as Medo-Persia, which was proven invalid earlier in this article.
Again, the proof text is Daniel 8:20, 21 -- notice! "The ram which you saw, having the two horns -- they [the horns] are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king [Alexander]" (NKJV)..
Futurists also attempt to support their position by pointing out that the "four heads" of the leopard stand for the fourfold division of Alexander's Greek Empire. But there is no indication in the text, other than in the coincidental use of the number four, that the four heads represent Greek subdivision. It is worth noting that in texts which address this division (Daniel 8:8, 22; 11:4), Alexander himself is first identified, then the division of his kingdom is described. The heads of the leopard indicate no such transition of power.
Rather, the four heads of the leopard may be identified with kings of the Persian Empire -- Cyrus, Cambyses II, Darius Hystaspes and Xerxes. While Cambyses is not mentioned in the Bible, the other three are. The Artaxerxes mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah has often been considered to be a king who followed after Xerxes, however there is much evidence to indicate that Artaxerxes and Xerxes were one and the same king!
In the ruins of Persepolis can be found reliefs of the “three” kings of the Persian dynasty who were involved with building the city -- Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. While the faces on the reliefs have been chiseled off, other parts of the reliefs can be used to make our point. It’s very subtle, but nonetheless conclusive -- it’s the famous hand of Artaxerxes! Artaxerxes right hand was LONGER than his left one, and this was so unusual it became his trademark and hence the name “Artaxerxes LONGIMANUS (longimanus is Latin for “long hand”).
A very famous relief at Persepolis showing Darius seated on the throne followed by his son “Xerxes” shows Xerxes with his right hand turned vertically in order to show off his hand for all to see. The hand was carved with great detail showing all the palm creases, etc. You will notice, by comparison, that it is clearly LONGER THAN HIS LEFT! It is because of this unusual hand that Xerxes later became known as “Artaxerxes Longimanus” -- after changing his name locally to Artaxerxes upon becoming king of Persia. This was a common practice among the Persian kings.
|Map of Second Persian Empire|
Some scholars, including Porteous, understand the four heads to represent "the extension of the Persian Empire in all directions," and the four wings "swiftness."
Since Media is easily recognizable as the second kingdom, identification of the third kingdom as Persia does not depend on a positive identification of the leopard's four heads. Such an effort, while it might be intriguing, would, nevertheless, produce an inconclusive result. It has already been established that Media is the second kingdom, and it will be proven in the rest of this article that Islam is the fourth kingdom. By this sort of backdoor approach we arrive at the identity of the third kingdom, which is Persia. The separate, but allied, kingdoms of Media and Persia are, respectively, the second and third empires of Daniel.
Islam, the Dreaded Iron Empire
More than 70 percent of the verses concerning the four world empires directly pertain to the fourth empire and its breakup in relationship to Palestine. Daniel 7:19 relates that the fourth empire is "different from all the rest." Furthermore, it will "crush and shatter" all previous kingdoms (Daniel 2:40). Futuristic interpreters, who identify Rome as the fourth empire, contend that events depicted under the dominion of the fourth empire will be fulfilled in a future revived Roman Empire and tribulation period.
One reason for this belief is voiced by W. Sibley Towner:
"According to the text of Daniel 7.9-27, the great judgment of the kingdoms of the earth and the establishment of "one like a son of man [NRSV: human being]" (7.13) -- who may be "the holy ones of the Most High" themselves (7.19 -- should have occurred during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the "little horn" with the "mouth speaking arrogantly" (7.8). Such an eschatological crisis did not, of course, happen in the reign of Antiochus. The canonizers themselves must have known this; perhaps they had already reinterpreted the four beasts who rise out of the sea in chap. 7 in such a way as to make ROME the fourth beast and the little horn some Roman emperor. By means of reinterpretation of the symbols of the apocalypse, it would have been possible to keep the timetable of events leading up to the last judgment open, and it was that openness that enabled the writer of Revelation 20 to transform Daniel 7 into a vision of the imminent worldwide crisis known as the day of judgment" (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Metzger and Coogan. NY: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 152).
On the contrary, however, we will present evidence that clearly shows that the Islamic Empire is properly the fourth empire. Such argument will be based not only on the prior identification of Media as the second empire, but also on tangible evidence that events depicted under the dominion of the fourth empire were actually fulfilled in the history of the Islamic Empire, and also have a future literal significance!
As we have seen, the first three gentile kingdoms in the book of Daniel are Babylon, Media and Persia. But what is the identity of the fourth kingdom?
Let's pause for a moment and contemplate the implications of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Babylon was the first kingdom (head of gold) which covered the Mesopotamian area (this was also the area Assyria had covered). Media existed long before it conquered Babylon and was, in fact, an ally of Babylon when they captured the city of Nineveh and overthrew the Assyrian Empire. When Media and Persia conquered Babylon in 457 B.C., Media made the Mesopotamian area its world-center and became the second kingdom (chest and arms of silver) of Daniel's prophecy. Likewise Persia existed long before it conquered Babylon with the Medes; and when Cyrus took over control of Babylon from Darius the Mede, he also made Mesopotamia his world-center. This was Daniel's third kingdom (waist and thighs of brass).
While Greece existed long before it conquered Persia in approximately 330 B.C., it did not become the fourth kingdom (legs of iron) of Daniel's prophecy because it did not arise out of the Middle East and it did not make Mesopotamia its world-center. Alexander's conquest of Babylonia was short-lived and it soon became a part of the area controlled by one of his generals after his death. Notice what G. H. Lang says --
"It is thus with the fourth empire as might surely be expected....This may be inferred from the fact that a VERTICAL IMAGE is employed to picture the whole period; for the CENTER OF GRAVITY of each successive portion is EXACTLY UNDER that of the portions above, so that the feet stand DIRECTLY BENEATH the head, breast, and body" (The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel. London: The Paternoter Press, 1950, p. 29).
And that center of gravity is Babylon!
So how does this square with the idea of Rome or Greece being the fourth kingdom? While it is true that Rome reached all the way to the Indus River for a period of seven years, this was only a weak hold that lasted but a short time. ROME NEVER ESTABLISHED THE MESOPOTAMIAN AREA AS ITS WORLD-CENTER!! Argues Henry Cowles in Ezekiel and Daniel:
"Rome NEVER was Asiatic, NEVER was oriental; NEVER therefore a legitimate successor of the first three of these great empires" (NY: D. Appleton, Co., 1868, p. 355).
Adds Otto Zockler --
"The four world kingdoms are developed without exception on one and the same geographical stage,...thus harmonizing with the Biblical representation under the symbol of a SINGLE colossal image" (The Book of Daniel. NY:Lange, 1876, p. 84).
Lang adds his observation --
"Rome never trampled upon or dominated Babylon or Persia, and certainly NEVER consolidated its power there" (The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel, p. 84).
The Roman Empire, with its uniquely Western/European orientation, simply does NOT come close to lining up with the geography of a Babylonian-Median-Persian empire. For the overwhelming majority of its existence, the borders of the Roman Empire remained roughly 500 miles west of Babylon. The Islamic Empire, however, "crushed" all of these regions in an unqualified and absolute manner. The Islamic Caliphate came to dominate all of the land contained within all three of these previous empires -- and far more! When considering a combination Babylonian, Median and Persian Empire, the Roman Empire doesn't even come close to fulfilling this description, but the Islamic Caliphate fulfills it perfectly.
The same can be said about Greece -- it was essentially a European power -- and one that did not arise out of the Middle East. In reality, this invalidates claims that Greece was either the third or fourth of Daniel's kingdoms.
If Rome or Greece was the fourth kingdom, we should look to Europe for the fulfillment of the prophecies assigned to the fourth kingdom -- but the Biblical picture CONSISTENTLY POINTS US to the Middle East! The book of Daniel as a unified whole clearly and consistently points to a fourth kingdom situated in the Mesopotamian area of the Middle East -- in the area of Syria/Iraq today. The only empire that fulfills these requirements, and the requirements of Daniel's vision, is the Islamic Empire founded by Muhammad's successor Abu Bakr who invaded the Persian Empire and conquered the area of Babylonia in 637 A.D. He became the empire's first Caliph.
Futurists and the Fourth Empire
Futuristic interpreters maintain that Rome is the fourth empire; their notion is based primarily on an erroneous identification of Medo-Persia as the second empire. Futurists believe Greece to be the third empire, which is naturally followed by the Roman Empire. The immediate problem facing this view, and which has already been alluded to above, is that the events depicted under the fourth empire's dominion cannot be linked historically with events taking place within the Roman Empire. John F. Walvoord states:
"The interpretation identifying this [fourth empire] as Rome immediately has a major problem in that there is no real correspondence to the Roman Empire historically in the phrase, 'and it had ten horns'" (Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, p. 162).
While this is true, we have seen that Daniel's visions stretch over a long period of time, and the events found within these prophecies are not all fulfilled in the past. As mentioned before, some events are now history and some still wait to be fulfilled in the near future. Understanding this Walvoord correctly reasons that the only possible fulfillment of this prophecy would be that "ten actual kingdoms will exist simultaneously in the future consummation" (ibid., pp. 162, 169).
The events (toes, horns, little horn) that clearly cannot be reconciled under the Historic Roman or Greek views must, of necessity, be projected into the future -- thereby escaping the bounds of the purely Historic viewpoint. According to Futurists, the toes and ten horns represent a ten-nation revived Roman Empire, and the little horn is a future antichrist that will gain control of this confederacy. The result of this interpretation is constant speculation among modern-day prophecy writers as to the identity of the ten-nation confederacy and the Antichrist.
However, this view faces a major difficulty. The text clearly states that the little horn came up among the ten horns that were on the head of the beast (Daniel 7:20). The ten horns, and the little horn, rose up just before the fourth kingdom was destroyed by YEHOVAH's Kingdom. How, then, is it possible for the little horn to be identified as a future antichrist when the Roman Empire came to an end in the fifth century A.D.? The solution offered by futuristic interpreters stretches the imagination and exposes the speculative basis of their theory. John F. Walvoord suggests a way out of the dilemma:
"Probably the best solution to the problem is the familiar teaching that Daniel's prophecy actually passes over the present age, the period between the first and second coming of Christ or, more specifically, the period between Pentecost and the rapture of the church" (ibid., p. 72).
According to this interpretation, the book of Daniel bypasses 2,000 years of Christianity: Daniel wrote concerning Jewish history from the time of Nebuchadnezzar (523 B.C.) to the first coming of the Messiah (31 A.D.). Since Daniel was not aware of the New Testament church age, so this theory goes, his prophecies leap over the Christian era and will resume following the "rapture" of the church. At that time, Daniel's prophecies will be fulfilled as YEHOVAH God again deals with the Jews as a nation during the seven-year tribulation period.
Since Daniel wrote about these events no later than 500 years before the Messiah, it is certainly reasonable to conclude that he was not aware of the church age. But the notion that the church age constitutes a "gap" or "parenthesis" in history based on such lack of knowledge is the brainchild of interpreters who insist on identifying Rome as the fourth empire. The "gap" theory should therefore be viewed as a questionable consequence of this identification. However, these problems disappear when we consider the fourth kingdom or empire to be that of Islam!
The Fourth Empire in Daniel 2
"Just as you saw the feet and toes partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the hardness of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with common clay" (Daniel 2:41, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
The fourth kingdom is represented by legs of iron in the metallic statue. The iron kingdom is divided into feet of iron and clay representing a "divided kingdom." The fourth kingdom, then, would be an unstable one that would become "divided," and this imagery aptly describes what happened to the Islamic Empire after the Muslim invasion of 637 A.D. It was divided into two religious or ideological factions -- namely Sunni and Shia.
According to Farrell Till:
"This beast was described as "dreadful and terrible" and was "exceedingly strong" with "huge iron teeth (v. 7). It had ten horns, and while Daniel was "considering the horns," another horn, "a little one" came up among the others and plucked up three of the biggest horns (vs. 7-8). Daniel was told that the four beasts were four kings that would arise out of the earth (v. 17), and he expressed a desire to "know the truth about the fourth beast" and the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn that came up before which three horns fell" (vs. 19-20).
"Obviously, then," continues Till,
"the writer's primary interest was in this fourth beast or kingdom. That interest can be explained by something that Daniel said in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream when he identified the iron legs, with feet of iron and clay, on the "great image" that Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream. This "iron" kingdom was also the fourth kingdom in the dream, and Daniel said that "in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (2:44). This was why the focus of chapter 7 was on the fourth beast. It symbolized the kingdom in whose days the God of heaven would establish an everlasting kingdom, so naturally Daniel's focus would be on it" (What Medo-Persian Empire?).
Much to the chagrin of many of the Churches of God, who want this fourth kingdom to be the Roman Empire, there is absolutely NO TEXTUAL EVIDENCE to support that wish, because it is apparent to all who want to see Daniel's intention that the iron kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar's dream and the fourth beast in chapter 7 can only be the Islamic Empire that arose in the Middle East in 637 A.D.
The type of "duality" which futurists attempt to force on the "chest and arms" is illustrated here. Daniel attaches specific interpretive value to the feet and toes as symbols of a divided kingdom composed "partly of potter's clay and partly of iron." The iron apparently symbolizes the strengths of the divided kingdom, while the clay symbolizes its weaknesses.
Undoubtedly, Daniel has in mind the two branches (legs) of Islam -- Sunni and Shia. The Muslims began raids against Iraq almost simultaneously with their operations in Syria, but there the enemies were the Persian Sassanians, who proved no match for the desert fighters. In 637 A.D. a small Arab force defeated a Sassanian army in Qadisiyah, took the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon and brought all of Iraq under Muslim control.
This was a turning point in Persian history:
"The Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656) and the end of the Sassanid Empire was a turning point in Iranian history. Islamicization in Iran took place during 8th to 10th century and led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...After centuries of foreign occupation and short-lived native dynasties, Iran was once again reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty who established Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam" (en.wikipedia.org, "History of Iran").
Continues Wikipedia --
"Disagreement broke out over who would succeed Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. While the Sunnis followed the companions of Muhammad, the Shias followed Ali. This dispute eventually led to the First Fitna, which was the first major civil war within the Islamic Caliphate. The Fitna began as a series of revolts fought against the first Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, caused by the assassination of his political predecessor, Uthman Ibn Affan. It lasted for the entirety of Ali's reign, and its end is marked by Muawiyah's assumption of the caliphate (founding the Umayyad dynasty), and the subsequent recorded peace treaty between him and Hassan ibn Ali.
"The Second Fitna was when the first Umayyad Caliph Muawiya I was succeeded upon his death in 680 by his son, Yazid I. Yazid's first opposition came from supporters of Husayn ibn Ali, who was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the son of the former Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, who had been assassinated. Husayn and many of his closest supporters were killed by Yazid's troops at the Battle of Karbala. This battle is often cited as the definitive break between the Shi'a and Sunni sects of Islam, and until this day it has been commemorated each year by Shi'a Muslims on the Day of Ashura."
The fourth kingdom appeared as strong as iron at first when Islam exploded and conquered lands across the Middle East, and it broke in pieces all the other kingdoms before it.
|Map of Early Islamic Conquests|
The Arabs from 634-644 A.D., coming from their headquarters at Mecca, south of Palestine, conquered some 36,000 cities or strongholds, destroyed some 4,000 Christian churches, and erected some 1,400 Moslem mosques. They established an Empire that reached from Persia, through North Africa into Spain and the south of France. They sacked Rome, the seat of the Papacy, and even fought the Papal forces at sea. They besieged Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium, on two occasions in 674-678 A.D., and 717-718 A.D. But then they became divided into the Sunni and Shi'a sects represented by the two legs of Daniel's statue.
Today the Sunnis and Shias agree on the core fundamentals of Islam -- the Five Pillars -- and recognize each other as Muslims. However, there remain significant differences between the TWO FORMS of Islam. Many Sunnis would contend that Shias seem to take the fundamentals of Islam very much for granted, shunting them into the background and dwelling on the martyrdoms of Ali and Hussein. It is alleged that instead of missionary work to non-Muslims, the Shia harbor a deep-seated disdain towards Sunni Islam and prefer to devote their attention to winning over other Muslims to their group. There is ongoing violent strife between Sunnis and Shias in Pakistan. On the other hand, in recent years there has been significant co-operation between the two groups in the Lebanon. And some of the most dynamic developments in Islam today are taking place in Shia-dominated Iran.
What is truly interesting is the fact that the Shias, when praying, place the forehead onto a PIECE OF HARDENED CLAY from Karbala -- not directly onto the prayer mat like the Sunnis do.
The Fourth Kingdom in Daniel 7
Let's now go to Daniel 7 and the vision of the four beasts --
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a FOURTH BEAST, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was DIFFERENT from all the beasts that were before it, AND IT HAD TEN HORNS" (Daniel 7:7).
Note also, verse 19 --
"Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet" (Daniel 7).
In Daniel 2 we notice that the emphasis was on the fourth kingdom's crushing power. Here the kingdom is repeatedly emphasized as one that would crush, devour and trample the people and kingdoms it conquered. Could this be the Roman Empire? Take a look at what Joel Richardson has to say:
"While the overwhelming majority of interpreters throughout church history have believed this fourth beast to represent the Roman Empire...the Roman Empire in many ways was anything BUT a destructive empire. Instead it was rather CONstructive, often adding infrastructure, order, and law to the lands it conquered. Alternately, the empire of Islam, wherever it has spread, has most often been a DESTRUCTIVE FORCE to those it conquered."
"...in the larger picture, the Roman Empire of history was relatively tolerant. Of course, when the Roman legions were responding to a rebellion, they were quite brutal. It was the Roman Empire that destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70, crushing the Jewish uprising and killing or exiling multitudes in the process. But again, this was a response to a revolt initiated by the Jewish nation. So long as the provinces of Rome willingly paid taxes and acknowledged Caesar, THEY WERE NOT 'CRUSHED.' Throughout the majority of its days under Roman hegemony, the Jewish nation did not live in an overly oppressed state and was allowed to practice Judaism freely" (Mideast Beast, WND Books, Washington D.C.: 2012, pp. 82 & 85).
However, when we consider the empire of Islam (whether we are talking about the regions of Babylon, Media or Persia; the Jewish people; or the true Church) they were all CRUSHED, DEVOURED AND TRAMPLED! Therefore, the Roman Empire only aligns with the descriptions in the text with tremendous difficulty. "The Islamic Caliphate however," writes Richardson, "fits the descriptions precisely."
It is interesting to note -- in spite of the fact that much of the "Christian Church" has long espoused the final kingdom of Antichrist to be a European one -- a number of Jewish rabbis and sages have long realized that the final ten-horned kingdom to be that of an Arab or Middle Eastern origin. We see this in Ezekiel, A Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources -- notice!
"The Midrash comments that these ten horns symbolize ten kings of the Fourth Kingdom, and the eleventh horn is the final king whom Israel will confront. All these kings, the Midrash stresses, are to be DESCENDANTS OF ESAU. The implication is that the king and initiator of the campaign against Israel will be from Esau-Edom" (ArtScroll Tanach series, Brooklyn, NY: Menorah Publications, 1989, p. 582).
In Daniel 7:24, the Bible tells us what the "ten horns" in verse 7 represent:
"The ten horns are TEN KINGS [or kingdoms] who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, SHALL PERSECUTE THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH, and shall intend to CHANGE TIMES and LAW."
The interpretations of who the ten kings represent are myriad. Many churches have the notion that the ten kings of Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 refer to a union of ten nations arising in Europe -- we see this in the booklet Are We Living in the Time of the End? published by the United Church of God --
"The Bible prophesies that a group of 10 'kings,' or national leaders, through alliances or other arrangements will give rise to a union that will fulfill these end-time predictions. Daniel's prophecy indicates these leaders will preserve their cultures and languages, so it will not be one integrated group of states, such as the United States, but 10 individual political and cultural entities united for a common purpose. Some will be much stronger than the others.
"Notice that the book of Revelation gives more details: 'The ten horns which you saw are ten 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).
"The current moves to expand and solidify the European Union appear to be a precursor to this prophesied power. It is interesting to let history reveal the roots of the movement to unify Europe."
Islamic Empire Prior to Invading Spain and Sacking Rome
But instead of going to the interpretations and speculations of men, why don't we consult the Word of YEHOVAH God for the answer? We must remember that the Bible interprets itself, so the TEN HORNS of Daniel 7, Revelation 13:1 and 17:12-14 are explained to be TEN KINGS who will have kingdoms that will align themselves with the first beast (from the sea in Revelation 13:1) in the days just prior to the setting up of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. WHO, then, are these ten last-day kingdoms? Once again -- let the Bible interpret itself!
In Psalm 83 we find the ONLY mentioned confederacy of ten kingdoms or nations in the entirety of the Bible -- nations that try to "cut them [Israel] off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more" (Psalm 83:4). Doesn't this sound awfully familiar? Psalm 83 goes on to NAME these ten kingdoms -- notice!
"Unanimous in their plot, they seal a treaty against you: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebel, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia and the Tyrians; and now Assur [Assyria] has joined them to reinforce the sons of Lot" (verse 5-8, The Jerusalem Bible).
Notice what Stephen Cook reveals in his work, Where Do We Expect Psalm 83 to Be Fulfilled?
"We don't need to find modern-day descendants of the Amalekites; we need to identify who occupies the territory which the Amalekites occupied at the time Psalm 83 was written. We won't find any Philistines living anywhere today, but we do find a hybridized group of Egyptians/Syrians/Jordanians living in the territory of Philistia and calling themselves by the Latinized/Anglicized name for Philistia (Palestine).
"The territories occupied by the nations/tribes named in Psalm 83 are roughly as follows: Edom in modern Jordan: Ishmaelites in modern Saudi Arabia; Moab in modern Jordan; Hagrites -- the territory bordering modern Jordan and Saudi Arabia; Gebal -- probably modern Golan Heights and nearby in Syria; Ammon in modern Jordan; Amalek in the modern Sinai peninsula and the Negev; Philistia -- modern Gaza Strip, part of the Palestinian authority; Tyre in modern Lebanon; Assyria -- modern Syria and Iraq.
"The important thing to notice, I think, is that the Psalmist here lists a group of nations/tribes which immediately surround Israel on all sides....
"What I see by comparing the main prophecies of the final conflict is this sequence: An invasion of Israel by her immediate neighbors (Ps. 83; Zech. 14; Ezek. 35; Joel 3) -- an inner circle of nations. Jerusalem is taken captive (Zech. 14 and Ezek. 35). The LORD returns and delivers Jerusalem, and defeats Israel's surrounding enemies, and establishes His Kingdom on a renewed earth. Israel dwells in peace and safety, without walls or gates (Ezek. 38:8, 11 )....The Kingdom [of YEHOVAH God] expands peacefully, (Psalm 72).
"It's significant that both the inner and outer circles of nations described above are all ISLAMIC NATIONS. It's also interesting that the only list of 10 confederate nations or tribes anywhere in Scripture is in Psalm 83. These may be the ten heads or ten horns mentioned elsewhere"
Notice that Daniel 7:24 states the saints of the Most High will be persecuted by this fourth beast or empire and that it "shall intend to change times and law." The following article by Patrick Poole outlines the horrific global persecution of Christians that is being carried out to day by "the religion of peace" -- take careful note.
"From Nigeria to Indonesia, Christians are under siege in virtually every single country in the Muslim world, the victims of countless acts of discrimination, depredation, brutality, and murder that are so widespread and systematic that it can rightfully be called the new Holocaust. This time, however, the perpetrators of this Holocaust aren't wearing swastikas, but kufi skull caps and hijabs.
"Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are subject to relentless attack and teeter on the brink of extinction at the hands of the "Religion of Peace": Palestinian Christians in Gaza and the West Bank; Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians in Iraq; Coptic Christians in Egypt; Evangelical and Orthodox Christians in Eastern Ethiopia and Eritrea; Armenian Orthodox Christians in Turkey; and Maronite Christians in Lebanon.
"Several of these communities date back to the beginning decades of Christianity and all have weathered wave after wave of Islamic persecution for centuries and more, but in the very near future some will simply cease to exist. In our lifetime, the only trace of their past existence will be in footnotes in history books (and probably only Western history books at that).
"Meanwhile, we in the West hear much from radical Islam's apologists how the US is engaged in a war against Islam citing of our military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are lectured on the inviolability of the Muslim ummah and justifications of defensive jihad.
"But an extensive search this past weekend of the websites of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Student Association, the Fiqh Council of North America, and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee -- the most visible institutional representatives of Islam in America -- found not a single mention or reference of the religious persecution of Christians by their Islamic co-religionists, thereby making them tacit co-conspirators in the Final Solution to the Christian problem in the Muslim world.
"The global war on Christianity by Islam is so massive in size and scope that it is virtually impossible to describe without trivializing it. Inspired by Muslim Brotherhood ideology and fueled by billions of Wahhabi petrodollars, the religious cleansing of Christians from the Muslim world is continuing at a break-neck pace, as the following recent examples demonstrate.
"Iraq: In the current issue of the American Spectator, Doug Bandow observes that centuries of dhimmitude have left Christians in the war-torn country without any means of self-defense. Washington policymakers have refused to lend assistance for fear of showing partiality, despite the murder of hundreds of Iraqi Christians, the kidnapping and torture of Christian clerics, the repeated bombings of Christian churches, the torching of Christian businesses, and the flight of close to half of the entire Iraqi Christian population since April 2003. Those who remain have been subject to the imposition of shari'a by the Shi'ite Mahdi Army and Sunni militias (al-Qaeda doesn't bother with such niceties, preferring to murder them immediately instead), including the recent published threat in Mosul of killing one member of every Christian family in that city for Christian women not wearing the hijab and continuing to attend school. (Be sure to remember that the next time an Islamist apologist claims that the hijab is a symbol of women's liberation.)
"Egypt: Journalist Magdi Khalil chronicles in a new report ("Another Black Friday for the Coptic Christians of Egypt") the campaign of violence directed against Christian Copts almost weekly immediately following Friday afternoon Muslim prayers. Inspired by Islamist imams preaching religious hatred in mosques all over the country and protected by government officials willing to look the other way, rampaging mobs of Muslims set upon Christians churches, businesses and individuals, from Alexandria to cities all the way up the Nile. Coptic holy days are also favorite times for Muslim violence, which the Egyptian media likes to describe as "sectarian strife" -- as if it were actually a two-sided affair.
"Gaza: Ethel Fenig recently noted here at American Thinker ("More Gaza Multiculturalism") the systematic destruction of churches and desecration of Christian religious objects by Jihadia Salafiya following the HAMAS takeover of the Gaza Strip from their Fatah rivals and the imposition of Islamic [shari'a] rule. The head of Jihadia Salafiya told reporter Aaron Klein that any suspected Christian missionary activity in the area will be "dealt with harshly". (Ynet News)
"Saudi Arabia: According to the Arab News, a Sri Lankan Christian man barely escaped with his life in late May when he was found working in the city of Mecca, Islam's holiest city, which is officially barred to non-Muslims. In December, an Indian man had been sentenced to death for accidentally entering the city, but was spared after the Indian embassy made an urgent appeal to the Saudi Supreme Court.
"Pakistan: In Islamabad, Younis Masih was sentenced last month to death under the country's frequently invoked blasphemy laws, which were also used against six Christian women suspended from a nursing school after they were accused of desecrating a Quran. And as protests against Salman Rushdie's knighthood raged, a Muslim mob armed with guns, axes and sticks attacked Christians worshipping in a Salvation Army church in Bismillahlpur Kanthan. (Associated Press; United Press International; Mission News Network)
"Bangladesh: Almost a dozen Christian converts in the Nilphamari district were beaten last week by Muslim villagers wielding bricks and clubs, and threatened with death if they did not leave town immediately. Local hospitals subsequently refused them treatment. Christians in the area have also been prevented from using the only potable water well in the area after a pronouncement by religious authorities at the mosque in Durbachari. This came after 42 former Muslims were baptized as Christians in the local river on June 12. (Compass News Direct)
"Malaysia: Government authorities demolished a church building on June 4th in Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang in Ulu Kelantan, despite prior government approval of the project. The church was built on donated property after the entire village had converted to Christianity just a few months ago. Also in late May, the Malaysian high court ruled that Muslims who convert to Christianity must appeal to the religious shari'a courts to officially be deregistered as Muslims and reregistered as a Christians. (Journal Chretien; Associated Press)
"Indonesia: Agence France Presse reported last month on an attack by the Islamic Anti-Apostate Movement, who stormed a church service in a Protestant church in the West Java town of Soreang. The AFP report notes that more than 30 churches have been forced to close in West Java and dozens more throughout the country in recent years due to Muslim violence, churches which were among the few spared during the outbreak of hostilities during 1997-1998, where hundreds of Christian churches were burned to the ground and never rebuilt.
"Turkey: The Christian community is still reeling from the torture and ritual slaughter of three Protestants at a Christian publishing house in Malatya in April by an armed Islamist gang, which was preceded by the murder last year of Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon and the assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul in January. An additional six men allegedly associated with the same Muslim gang were arrested on May 30th for plotting an attack on a Christian pastor in Diyarbakir. (Lebanon Daily Star; ADKNI)
"Cyprus: The Cyprus Mail reports that during a meeting last month in Rome the Archbishop of the Cypriot Greek Orthodox Church pleaded with the Vatican Secretary of State for the Pope's assistance to pressure Turkish authorities in restoring and repairing Christian sites and churches in areas occupied since the invasion of the island nation by Turkey in July 1974 and the ethnic cleansing of 160,000 Greek Christian Cypriots.
"Lebanon: More than 60,000 Christians have left the country since last summer's war between Hezbollah and Israel, fearing the rise of both Sunni and Shi'ite extremism and terrorist activity. The Sunday Telegraph recently revealed the results of a poll finding that at least half of Lebanon's Maronite community were considering leaving the country. More than 100,000 have already submitted visa applications at foreign embassies.
"Algeria: In what is considered one of the more "moderate" Muslim regimes, Al-Quds Al-Arabi announced that the Algerian government has just issued regulations requiring advance permission for non-Muslim public events, following a 2006 law aimed at limiting Christian evangelism in the Kabylia region and the Sahara. (MEMRI)
"Morocco: In the country that The Economist magazine in 2005 anointed "the best Arab democracy", all Moroccans are considered Muslims at birth and face three years in prison if they attempt to convert. They are also prohibited from entering any of the few churches permitted to operate for the foreign inhabitants of the country. Moroccan Christians must operate covertly for fear of imprisonment by the government and attacks by Islamists. They cannot bury their dead in Christian cemeteries, and they must be married by Islamic authorities or face charges of adultery. Late last year, a 64 year-old German tourist, Sadek Noshi Yassa, was sentenced to six months in jail and fined for missionary activity. (Journal Chretien)
"Nigeria: Police in Gombe arrested sixteen suspects after a Muslim mob stoned, stripped, beat, and finally stabbed to death a Christian teacher, Christiana Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin, after she caught a student cheating on an exam in March. Her body was then burned beyond recognition by the mob who falsely accused her of desecrating a Quran. The suspects were released last month without any charges being filed, prompting Christian leaders to accuse government authorities of a cover-up and raising concerns about additional attacks. (Christian Today)
"Eritrea: Just a few weeks ago, the Islamic government installed a new Orthodox Patriarch after they removed the previous Patriarch and placed him under house arrest for no stated reason. Compass News Direct reported in February the death of Magos Solomon Semere, a Christian who had been imprisoned in a military jail for four and a half years for illegal Christian worship, the third Christian to die in government custody since October. Authorities have also cracked down on unapproved churches, jailing at least two thousand Protestants and members of the Medhane Alem Orthodox renewal movement since the beginning of the year and publicly burning confiscated Bibles. (Christian Post; Compass News Direct; Journal Chretien)
"It is not an exaggeration to say that I could extend this brief list ad infinitum with additional Islamic countries and news items from just the past few weeks' worth of incidents of violence, discrimination, intimidation and murder targeting Christians in the Muslim world. In many instances, the government and religious authorities in these Muslim countries work hand-in-hand in their campaign of religious persecution.
"A scene in the Academy Award-winning movie Schindler's List gives us some insight into what is happening all across the Muslim world with respect to Christianity. As the SS Commandant Amon Göth and his Nazi Stormtroopers prepare to liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, Poland, Göth (played in the movie by Ralph Fiennes) gives his men a peptalk:
"For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. Think about that. By this evening, those six centuries are a rumor. They never happened. Today is history.
"This scene is being repeated in the Friday sermons in mosques and on Islamic satellite TV all over the world, only this time it is the Christians in addition to the Jews who are targets. Great efforts are being made to make the two-thousand year history of Christianity in North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia a blasphemous rumor. Soon students in Turkey will be taught that the Hagia Sophia, the greatest architectural structure in the Muslim world, wasn't built by the Christian Emperor Justinian in the Sixth Century, but by the Sultan Mehmed II a thousand years later after the Ottomans seized the Byzantine capital. That Christians lived at all in the Muslim world, let alone that much of the territory occupied by Muslims used to be Christian lands before the Islamic Wars of Conquest, will be nothing but a rumor by the end of this century punishable according to the precepts of shari'a.
"The fact remains that not a single Christian or Jew lives in peace in the Muslim world, and if it is truly our nation's foreign policy to spread democracy around the world, this issue is the perfect topic for us to press. Back at home, raising Islam's global war on Christianity should be the immediate response to the seemingly endless media grievance machine of radical Islam's Western apologists. Until they begin to address the new Holocaust perpetrated in the name of Islam, their complaints and denials are nothing but bald hypocrisy" (American Thinker Website, "Islam's Global War Against Christianity").
This is just the latest in an unending stream of violence and murder against Christians that has continued unabated since the rise of the fourth beast in the 7th century. Note that wherever Islam gains control it changes "times and law" by the introduction of the Moslem calendar and shari'a law.
Iron Does Not Mix With Clay
Earlier in this article we saw that the Tanakh renders Daniel 2:43 as, "You saw iron mixed with common clay; that means: they shall intermingle with the offspring of men, but shall not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.
Three times this verse uses the same word translated as "mixed," "intermingle" and "mix." It is the Aramaic word 'arab. In Aramaic, the word for "mixed" is simply 'arab. In the ancient Middle East, the Arabs were considered mixed desert peoples. Writes Joel Richardson --
"In Hebrew, the word is 'ereb. Because the descendants of Ishmael and Esau had so intermarried among the various desert pagan tribes, they had essentially become known collectively as 'the mixed ones.' The first reference to the Eastern desert peoples as the 'mixed ones' is found in the book of Nehemiah....'So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude ['ereb] from Israel'" (13:1-3).
Continuing, Richardson says:
"After reading the Law, the Jews realized that it was forbidden for them to take wives from the mixed pagan peoples of the desert. Specifically mentioned are the Ammonites and the Moabites, who lived in what is today the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Essentially, the verse is saying that when the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of 'arab' descent. Again, in the ancient Near East, the words mixed and 'arab' were synonymous. The very name arab in its etymological origins refers to the mixed people that lived primarily to the east of Israel. A literal translation of Daniel 2:43, then, is 'As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will be Arab; and will thus not remain united, just as iron does not mix with clay'" (Mideast Beast, WND Books, Washington D.C.: 2012, p.73).
In October 2010 Angela Merkel of Germany told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed", stating: "The concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it does not work" and that "we feel attached to the Christian concept of mankind, that is what defines us. Anyone who doesn't accept that is in the wrong place here." She continued to say that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values. This, she noted, has added to a growing debate within Germany on the levels of immigration, its effect on Germany and the degree to which Muslim immigrants have integrated into German society.
Similarly, on February 5, 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron made the following statement recorded by James Kirkup for the Telegraph, and entitled "Muslims Must Embrace Our British Values, David Cameron Says":
"Entering the debate on national identity and religious tolerance, the Prime Minister declared an end to 'passive tolerance' of divided communities, and say that members of all faiths must integrate into wider society and accept core values.
"To be British is to believe in freedom of speech and religion, democracy and equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality, he will say. Proclaiming a doctrine of 'muscular liberalism', he said that everyone, from ministers to ordinary voters, should actively confront those who hold extremist views.
"He warned that groups that fail to promote British values will no longer receive public money or be able to engage with the state.
"His speech, to an international security conference in Munich, comes after The Daily Telegraph disclosed the extent to which the British intelligence community fears the "unique threat" of terrorist attacks by radicalized British Muslims.
"Mr Cameron promised a new willingness to argue against and "defeat" extremist ideologies that lead some to engage in terrorism.
"That means abandoning the notion that different communities should be able to live according to their own values and traditions as long as they stay within the law. "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream," Mr Cameron said. "We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong."
What Prime Minister Cameron failed to understand is that Islam has no intention of becoming "mainstream" or "belonging" in any of the countries that it has infiltrated -- and that is just about every country in the world! As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said when mayor of Istanbul -- "For us, democracy is a streetcar. We would go as far as we could, and then get off." In 1992 Ali Balhadj, a leader of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria, declared, "When we are in power, there will be no more elections because God will be ruling." The main objective of the fourth empire is to rule the entire world -- and it is rapidly attaining that goal.
There is so much more evidence we can present to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Islam is the fourth beast and empire of Daniel 2 and 7. However, in order to keep this article to a reasonable length, we will reveal this information in another article dealing with just the fourth kingdom.
Summary of the Fourth Empire in Daniel 2 and 7
There is clear and complete confirmation between Daniel 2, Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17 regarding the fourth empire -- which provides a solid foundation for identifying the fourth empire as Islam. The fourth kingdom is the last kingdom before the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and was prophesied to be remarkably different from all those that came before it. It was also to be much more powerful. The duality of the statue's legs and feet is easily seen as the Sunni and Shi'a factions to which Daniel limited himself in Daniel 11. Further correspondence is evidenced by the mixture of iron and clay in the toes. This is confirmed by the interpretation in Daniel 2:43 and the current outbursts by the leaders of Germany and Great Britain. Also, the fact that Shi'a Muslims -- who comprise about 15% of all Muslims -- pray with their foreheads pressed against a piece of clay is a further indication of the weaker part of the iron/clay mixture.
"This is a perfect description," writes Joel Richardson, "of the global Islamic community, which from its beginnings has been divided between the two sects of Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. It is also a perfect fulfillment of the ancient prophecy declared over Ishmael, the father of the Arab peoples, who would forever be in conflict with other men and even his own brothers: 'He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen' (Genesis 16:12)."
A further nail in the coffin is provided by the fact that the only confederacy of 10 nations found in the entirety of the Bible is that mentioned in Psalm 83 -- all of which are Islamic. A reasonable conclusion, therefore, is that the fourth empire of Daniel 2 and 7 is not Rome nor Greece, but Islam as represented by Muhammad and his successors. While the vision in Daniel 2 and 7 of the establishment of the fourth kingdom or empire has been fulfilled in history, the final consummation is rapidly taking place in the Middle East today. This completely invalidates the idea that a future revived Roman Empire is symbolized by the statue's toes.
|Head of gold.||Like a lion, with eagles wings.||Babylon|
|Chest and arms of silver.||Like a bear, raised up on one side.||Media|
|Belly and thighs of bronze.||Like a leopard, with 4 wings and 4 heads.||Persia|
|Legs of iron.||Exceedingly strong, iron teeth.||Islamic Caliphate|
|Feet partly of iron and clay.||Ten horns.||Revived Islamic Caliphate|
|A divided kingdom.||Another horn arises and subdues 3.|
|This horn speaks pompous words and is greater than the others.|
|This horn makes war against the saints and prevails against them for 3-1/2 years.|
|Changes times and law.|
The context of Daniel is in complete agreement with the interpretation we have shown -- (Babylon, Media, Persia and Islam). The vision contained in Daniel 2 corresponds completely with the vision in Daniel 7. The visions cover the same era of history from Daniel's day and culminating in the reign of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on this earth. Daniel's purpose was to illustrate that YEHOVAH God's plan for the rise and fall of pagan nations was to come to fruition in the present era!
Our Examination of Daniel's prophecies show that the first three empires have come and gone, with the fourth empire formed in the present era and culminating in our time today. The last empire plays a ROLE in describing the Messiah's return; and completely shatters the foundation of the common theories taught today amongst the Churches of God and others.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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