And the study of Bible prophecy is no different. It’s
very tempting to force all prophecies into a modern context, but in
reality, it’s not all about us, and it’s not all about our day.
example, Daniel 7 is chapter where, if we are willing to allow God to
lead us through the centuries of history, then we can begin to
understand the portion, of the prophecy, that does apply to our day.
Hello this is Nick Barnes, with the December 21st edition of Bible in the News.
In Daniel 7, the prophet was given a night vision. In this dream, Dan 7v3 tells us
“four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.”
But these beasts did not arise together. Instead they appeared one after the other. So in Dan 7v4 we are told that
“The first was like a lion…”
…and in v5
“And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear…”
…and in v6…
“After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard…”
…and finally in v7 we read
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast…”
And we don’t have to guess the meaning, of this succession of beasts, for in Dan 7v17, we are told
“These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.”
…and the interpreter continues, in v23, that…
"The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces."
So God is telling us that there would be a succession of four great kingdoms, or empires, which “devour the whole earth”. And again, the identity, of each of these powers, is not left to speculation. Each can be easily identified by comparing Dan 7 with Dan 2 and Dan 8. The first power is revealed, in Dan 2v38, to be Babylon. And in Dan 8v20-21, the 2nd and 3rd are explicitly named as Medo-Persia and Greece respectively. The 4th power, can only be Rome, for it was 4th in the sequence – for Rome overthrew and replaced Greece, as Greece had Medo-Persia and Medo-Persia had Babylon.
But Daniel’s interest was particularly gripped by this fourth beast, and he says, in v19
"Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast…"
…and, in v20,
"…of the ten
horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before
whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that
spake very great things…"
His attention was seized by this beast which was, according to v7,
"…dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly"
And Rome was clearly different from the earlier powers. It
was the great & terrible empire that lasted more than 500 years,
nearly 1500 years or in excess of 2000 years – depending on how you
But what of the 10 horns? Again there’s no need to speculate, because in v24 we are told…
"the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise…"
So they arise “out of this kingdom” – out of the Roman Empire.
And while we
all know that the Babylonian Empire was overthrown by the
Medo-Persians, and the Medo-Persians by the Greeks, and also that the
Greeks were subjugated by the Romans, the Roman Empire was not toppled
in the same way. Instead Rome decayed from within and was taken over from within.
waves of Germanic, barbarian, tribes assaulted the Roman Empire, from
without, they were pacified by inviting them inside. A history of The Barbarians, by Tim Newark, tells us that…
Imperial gifts, many Goth chieftains returned to their warriors and
urged them to forget their Barbaric oaths of destruction. Instead, they should work with the Empire and relish a higher standard of living."
p51 The Barbarians (Tim Newark)
And, in fact, these barbarians were integrated into the Roman armies, and Tim Newark continues…
"At first, they were auxiliaries armed and disciplined as legionaries. Then
they fought under the Imperial eagle as allied, federated forces,
brandishing their own weapons and led by their own chieftains…. "
p48 The Barbarians (Tim Newark)
And this process repeated itself, as new Germanic tribes followed the same route into Rome and its armies. But
these barbarian troops were loyal firstly to their own barbarian
chieftains, and so as their numbers increased, the power of the
warlords eventually eclipsed that of the emperor. For
a while, it was they who appointed and deposed emperors, but finally in
476, these Germanic kings deposed emperor Romulus Augustulus, and he
was never replaced. Tim Newark comments…
last Roman Emperor of the West was deposed in 476, it was not a sudden
cataclysm but an acknowledgement of the established fact that the
Empire had been broken up into independent estates ruled by Germanic
p50 The Barbarians (Tim Newark)
though the emperor was gone, life continued much as before; for while
the beast was now ruled by the 10 horns – the barbarian tribes of
Europe – its territory continued to be distinct. For
outside, the people were still polytheistic pagans, worshipping Thor
and Woden, the sun & moon, and believing in spirits of the forests
and mountains. But within was Christendom, where barbarian and Roman were bound together, by their common, so called Christian, religion.
And this explains why, when Charlemagne arose up from among the barbarians, he was crowned Emperor of the Romans. And so the Western Roman Empire, which had apparently expired towards the end of the 5th century, revived and reinvented itself in 800AD.
And this view of history was portrayed, in advance, in Bible prophecy. So Charlemagne’s resurrected Western Roman Empire is symbolised, in Rev 17v8, as…
"the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."
…and as the…
"beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit"
…and, in Rev 13v3, it is the head that…
"is wounded unto death, whose deadly wound is healed"
And this new
empire, established first by Charlemagne, came eventually to be known
as the Holy Roman Empire, and is symbolised, in Rev 13v11, as the beast
"like a lamb, but spake as a dragon"
Indeed it was
in lamb’s clothing, presenting itself as holy & Christian, and yet
behind this façade it retained the dragon nature of the original Roman
And the Roman roots of Charlemagne’s empire are demonstrated in various ways. He
and his successors used the title Roman Emperor from 800 to 1152 and
the title Holy Roman Emperor from 1152 till its demise in 1806. They also used the title Kaiser (i.e. Caesar), which continued right into the 20th century.
And yet in Dan 7v8 we read
the [ten] horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little
horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the
roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a
mouth speaking great things."
And this symbol, of eyes and a mouth speaking great things, is the papacy. These were words spoken against the most high, according to v25, blasphemous words; the words of a false religious power – the Church of Rome. And
when Charlemagne’s Empire (the little horn) was forged, the church
became its eyes and mouth – its seeing, its thinking and its voice.
But while this little horn grew out of the Roman beast, it grew up amongst the barbarian horns. And, of course, Charlemagne and his people were not Romans; they were Germanic. And his capital was not in Rome, it was in Germany, in the city of Aachen. And this Holy Roman Empire, as it was later called, was the First Reich – the first German Empire.
But it wasn’t the only German Empire. The Second Reich was that created by Bismarck in 1870 – the Reich that later launched, and lost, the First World War.
And the Third Reich was Hitler’s German Empire. In
territory it was the greatest Reich; it ruled from Norway to North
Africa and from Brittany to Beirut and from Leningrad to Stalingrad.
Reich, this little horn power, which existed (except for brief
interruptions) since the time of Charlemagne, is to arise yet again. This
will happen, according to Rev 17v13, because the ten horns “shall give
their power and strength unto the beast”; because the Europeans (who
are the descendants of the barbarian tribes) will willingly give their
sovereignty, to a German dominated Europe. And we also know this from Dan 7, because in v21 we are told that this…
made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient
of days came …and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”
So this 4th
Reich, this German dominated Europe, this left-over of the Western
Roman Empire, will be in existence, when Christ and his saints, subdue
the nations and establish the Kingdom of God. And
we live in the times, where the Euro Crisis has hastened that transfer
of “power and strength to the beast”, and ironically has raised Germany
to a position of power, which the European Project was created to
prevent. And seeing these things, we expectantly
await the return of the Lord Jesus, to prepare his saints to overthrow
this developing monster, and set up that everlasting Kingdom of God.
Join us again next week, God willing, for Bible in the News.
Roman Empire Timeline
- The imperial Roman Empire began in BC31
- In 395 it divided into Eastern & Western Empires
- The western imperial empire only lasted until 475 – that’s where we get 500years from.
- But the eastern Roman Empire, continued right up to 1453 – nearly 1500 years of imperial rule
- Between 475 & 800 with have the time where the 10 horns ruled
- Then we come to the Holy Roman Empire. This was the 1st German Empire; the 1st Reich, which lasted more than a 1000 years.
- Only 65 years its fall, Bismarch’s 2nd Reich (the 2nd German Empire) began. It dominated central Europe from 1870-1918, when Kaiser (Caesar) Wilhelm II abdicated at the end of WW1.
- Less than 15 years later the 3rd Reich cast its dark shadow over Europe, from 1933-1945.