Interpreting Daniel and the Revelation
The following article written by Graham Bacon was forwarded to us by the late Bro. Ted Farrar. These remarks are as good of a summary on the subject that we have seen and we hope it will be of help and encouragement to the reader in these days when the very foundations of prophetic truth are being forsaken for fanciful ideas. Not all specifics mentioned in this article are as we might explain them but the fundamental arguments made here are extremely sound and provide a good basis for future study.
The books of Daniel and The Revelation provide a unique partnership of Bible Prophecies. Together they encompass an astounding sweep of history of Gods two remnant communities- the Jews and the true Christians.
It seems appropriate that the two thousand years of Israel’s history from Abraham to Jesus, should be matched with two thousand years of Christian history from the days of the Lord Jesus to today, particularly in view of the fact that they followed such a parallel decline. That in itself, when the destinies are placed alongside each other, confirms the perfidy of human nature. God would not pass up any opportunity to comment on that which, in The Revelation, He does with gusto.
In a sense, Daniel’s prophecy is not complete. In Daniel 12-8 Daniel wanted to know more about the later ages and the revealing angel said. (V.9), “Go your way Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end”. John, writing The Revelation at the end of the Jewish Second Temple period, distressed that no one seemed to be able to keep the historical ball rolling, was told. “Do not weep. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the root of David has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals”. Here are two more symbolic references to Jesus Christ, and He prevailed by His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, to open the seals and to continue the history in prophecy where Daniel left off. He was worthy to open the seals which Daniel had placed on the ‘partly’ written manuscript. Daniel’s unanswered query in 12-8 was now to be answered in a continuation of the historic story in The Revelation
HOW DANIEL AND THE REVELATION WORK TOGETHER:
The authors of both these Bible books, Daniel and John, were provided with visions and utterances which revealed certain aspects of the future to beyond Jesus Christ. To begin with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon wanted to know what would happen after his time. Daniel was instructed by God to write it all down for everyone to have access to that information, together with Daniel’s explanations to King Nebuchadnezzar .The record is in Daniel 2.
The vision provided to King Nebuchadnezzar was of the figure of a man constructed of various metals. It was ground to powder and blown away by a stone made without human endeavor which grew to fill the whole earth. The ‘metal man’s’ head was gold, the chest and arms were of silver, the stomach and thighs made of brass and the legs to the toe nails, of iron. The feet had an additional feature in that the~’ were part iron and part clay.
Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar that Babylon was the head of gold and that subsequently, three empires wou1d succeed his, the whole four represented by four metals. The purpose of the clay was to indicate that the strongest, IRON, the fourth empire, would eventually be weakened by the ‘lumps of clay’. The stone was explained as the Kingdom of God replacing all other rule on the earth. In chapters 7 and 8, four animal equivalents are introduced, a lion followed by a bear, the third a leopard and the fourth just called a ‘beast’. Three identities are given, Babylonians, Medes and Persians as a duo, and then the Greeks. The fourth beast obviously, was the Romans. The ‘metal man’ was mainly a sequencing representation. The total time period from Babylon to the establishment of the Kingdom of God is at least 2600 years. There are no gaps in the ‘man image’, so the legs are very long, representing the beginning of the Roman Empire. ‘say’ BC 100 to beyond the year 2000.
When Daniel asked his informing angel, “What shall the end of these things be?”, he had already been told the end events-- the Kingdom of God filling all the earth. He had already been given some time periods and was to be provided with more, indicating various eras of time from 1260 to 2300 years. His question could be more accurately expressed as. “‘What will be the events leading to the end?” He was beginning to understand that the total ‘metal man’ encompassed a long time and the period of the fourth beast, in particular, was to be an unrecognizable and terrifying prospect. He could not name any animal to match the fearsome details of the fourth beast. The problem was that Daniel almost certainly did not know where Rome was and would have no concept of the development of such a complex and diverse empire. He was told to close up and seal the words. He had questions which could only be answered later by another, more informed person.
There were four metals and four corresponding animals. Three had interpretations provided directly from Scripture and the fourth symbols, metal and animal equivalent to the Romans are quite obvious. Can we find anywhere in Scripture a similar equivalent for clay? Of the thirty five occurrences of the word ‘clay’, only in Jeremiah 18 is clay a symbol of any nation. There it is connected to Israel as clay in the hands of God, an entirely unrelated matter. Hence, the only connection of clay with any nation is entirely unrelated to Daniel 2. There, clay is clearly noted as an ‘influence’, an historical development, which weakened the Roman Empire in its later manifestation. That was the effects of the French Revolution. which crippled the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire in the early nineteenth century. The events which led to this situation are symbolically described in The Revelation . This fourth beast symbols of Daniel are exactly reproduced and augmented in The Revelation . We are not left wondering. The concrete connections are made. The beast with ten horns of Daniel 7-7 reappears in Revelation 12-3, 13-1 and chapter 17. The Revelation provides a further detail. The beast also has seven heads, and, in chapter 17 , is red in color. The Romans who started off as metallic iron are equated by Daniel to a beast, and that beast is reproduced in The Revelation in more detail. Nothing could be clearer than that the unfolding course of Roman history, in its beastly aspects, is further enlarged in The Revelation
THE QUESTION NATURALLY OCCURS Why does the number of metals and animals equal FOUR? Does it represent four world empires? NO. There has been no world empire. Empires significant in world history? NO. There have been a dozen or more in China, Japan, Cental America and Europe. The number four cannot represent the empires which occupied the Holy Land. That number is at least six, the four metal equivalents above, PLUS the Arab Saracens and the Turks. The number four represents the empires which subdued the Jewish people.
The first three empires which dominated the Israelites are easily accounted for as Babylon, the Mede and Persian combination, and the Greeks. The Roman Empire was the fourth, which not only ruled the Jews in Israel and then exiled them, but ALSO dominated the European continent where the key section of the Jewish Diaspora was located, for another seventeen hundred years. Shortly after the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire was extinguished the modem State of Israel was created and NO empire ruled the Jews any more. That is why there are only four metals and four animals. They represent the four empires which would subjugate the people. There would only be four of them. That is why we can be sure that NO nation in future, will suppress the Israeli people. There were only four metals in the ‘metal man’ till the coming of Jesus Christ. Each of the four has had its day. There are no more metals and, it seems, no more subjugation of the Israeli people.
[We do know, according to Ezekiel 38,39; Daniel 11; Joel 3; and Zechariah 13,14 that there will be a temporary conquest of the Israeli nation at the hands of the Gogian confederacy. This will be a “standing again”, as some have put it, of an aggregation of the metals of Daniel’s Image. – A. Thomas]
MORE EVIDENCE for the Continuous Historical continuation of Daniel in The Revelation.
Any serious Bible student eventually has to weigh the evidences for the various approaches to interpreting The Revelation. Within the last book of the Bible is an enormous array of prophetic visions and utterances which bear on the future of its authorship. Some interpretations place the fulfillment of its prophetic visions in our present and our future with little, if any, application to the early Christian period. To the present author, this view can only be held as a secondary application because the continuous historical connection to the events and kingdoms of Daniel’s prophecy is so strong. An overwhelming case exists for this continuous historical connection, rather than leaving a long period of history unattended by the Bible. Why would God leave nearly 2,000 years of history of the Jews and Christians blank when He had devoted nearly all the Old Testament to 2,000 years of the story of the Jews? The last 1900 years of history has been full of hugely important events for God’s plan and people. The ‘metal man’ had NO gap. Neither does the continuous Biblical historical/prophetic account.
The Revelation explains itself! “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly come to pass”. (Rev. 1-1 ). The authorship was not later than 90 AD. The history, to which The Revelation was going to refer, was to begin ‘shortly’. The two Greek words rendered ‘shortly’, are separately translated ‘with quickness’—’with speed’. The idea re-occurs in 1 Timothy 3-14 where Paul says, “I hope to come to you shortly” Hence the historical drama of The Revelation was to open ‘very soon’. Since the historical sequence opens with the breaking of the first and second ‘seals’, in Rev. 6-1 & 3, the progress of the white and red horses, interpreted as the spread of the Gospel into the corners of the Roman Empire and the subsequent persecution of the Christians, the action certainly WAS under way ‘VERY SOON’. This is a perfect interpretation of the opening requirements of the prophecy with the historical happenings. It connects with Daniel perfectly.
Chapter 2 and 3 of The Revelation describe conditions in the early Christian church. Of the seven churches chosen as representative of the first century Christian community, ONLY TWO are commended and five of them have serious problems. This snapshot is a necessary preliminary to the account of the growing corruption and evil in the Christian church which followed in the early centuries. There is no need to wonder from whence the greed, the violence and the false doctrines of early Christianity came. The Revelation tells us. It was representatively present at Ephesus, Pergomos, Thyatyra, Sardis and Laodicea. They never completely got rid of those evils. These two chapters are historical preludes to explain the genesis of the apostasy of the Christian church that was going to be symbolically expounded in the bulk of the prophecy. The seeds sown in the first century grew into huge ‘weeds’ in the church in later centuries. Much of the rest of the prophecy would show how those ‘weeds’ were going to grow. Smyrna and Philadelphia were commended in the first century. They represent the faithful remnant of Christians whom God preserved through the centuries to us in our own time.
Lest John and his readers should be overwhelmed with hopelessness by the tragic events that The Revelation was going to record, chapters 4 and 5 provide a vision of the glorious conclusion. Here the crux of the total message emerges. The Revelation is the story about the ‘goodies and the baddies’ and the ‘goodies’ win.
Having set the scene and fixed the conditions at the starting point, the ‘very soon’ historical event sequences begin to roll in chapter 6, with the breaking open of the ‘seven seals’.
One of the highly appropriate features of the Revelation in relation to a continuous-historical interpretation, are the comments by and the messages from, God, connected with the historical circumstances involved. After describing the persecutions and trials suffered by the faithful believers in the second to the fourth centuries, the fifth ‘seal’ in Rev. 6-9 conveys their cries asking how long their miseries were to continue. The reply is ‘until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, would be completed’. The torture, the inquisitions and the burnings would continue for another thousand years. Early in The Revelation this warning occurred, that such injustices would continue, first by a falling empire and, later, by an evil church gone mad. For true Christians around the fourth century, the message of Revelation 6 is spine chilling.
God became increasingly angry at the slide of the Christian church into corruption, violence and dictatorship. His efforts to discipline the compliant population of Europe were in vain, as expressed in Re. 9-20,2 I. “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass and wood which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immortality or their thefts”. The description of the evils of Middle Ages Europe is so real to history, and the reaction of God so appropriate, as to be unavoidable in its applicability to thle account of the times. In a section of Revelation chapter 16, V.9, symbolizing the shattering events of the French Revolution in symbol. another and similar remark is made by God concerning that part of history. “They repented not to give him glory”. They blasphemed the God of heaven. The whole history of the established church in Europe is an absolute disgrace. It is inconceivable that God would let such a period go unchallenged and unremarked. The Revelation account of God’s attempts to discipline his wayward Christian Community, as an extension of the iron of the ‘metal man’ and the terrible beast of Daniel, is exactly as we would expect in a continuing story.
In Revelation 6-12, the great river Euphrates is ‘dried up’, representing the evaporation of the Turkish Empire. This was achieved by the end of World War I, when European nations, particularly British Commonwealth forces, freed the Holy Land and, under tile Balfour Declaration, made it available for a Jewish national home. This was a fitting climax for a long procession of historical events referred to in The Revelation. Whatever else may be happening to the actual waters of the Euphrates River today, The Revelation is primarily a book of symbol and the drying up of the Euphrates is a wonderful forecast of the demise of the Turkish Empire so that the Holy Land could become free, it was achieved in W.W. 1. The land was free but without a nation. W.W.2 drove the Jewish people back to their land. The drying up of the Euphrates freed the land BUT, the European beast, who had been so wickedly evil, still endured. The rest of’ The Revelation describes the destruction of tile unrepentant elements of Europe.
YOU WILL NOTICE that, under this overall interpretation of The Revelation, the account has moved from the second through to the nineteenth century with occasional positively recorded comments from God on His reactions as European history unfolds. This is an enormously valuable tool in understanding that “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men”, as Daniel 4-17 declares. That the foundation principle did not change in the Christian era. It is unthinkable that God would leave untold Christian generations in the dark about how He was ruling and acting in the last nineteen hundred years.
Daniel’s fourth ROMAN beast with ten horns reappears in The Revelation to reinforce the concept of a continuous history. The beast appears in different stages of European history in different forms in The Revelation. It is variously described as the Beast of the Sea, the Beast of the Earth, and the image of the Beast, and the picture of a woman sitting on the Beast. This is a perfect way to illustrate symbolically, the changing forms of the pagan Roman Empire into the reformed Roman Empire, to the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire, to the current Roman Catholic Church, and, in the future, the European Union. The present Catholic church is weak and broken, like clay mixed in with iron, in comparison with its awesome power of several centuries ago, It cannot torture and kill people now. That fits perfectly with the weakened iron written of in Daniel. The Roman iron has to continue until the ‘Christ- stone’ strikes the edifice and grinds it to powder. We see today a changed established church. striving to regain its popularity, and, in this or similar form, the ‘iron-Rome’ will continue to exist in this weakened form as Daniel’s ‘metal-man’ demonstrates.
It is essential to retain the ‘iron-equals-Rome’ identity to correctly understand the significance of this marvelous prophetic record. There are only FOUR metals, FOUR animals, and FOUR empires and they span the time from Babylon to Christ returned They arc all clearly identifiable by plain Scriptural references. The role of the clay is also clearly pinpointed as a weakening agency in Rome-influenced Europe of the past. The clay has done its job. The story is straight forward. The priority for the interpretation of Daniel and The Revelation along the lines advocated here, CANNOT be avoided. This application of The Revelation does not depend on any conjecture of what may happen in the future. The parallels, the similitude, the correspondence, have already been achieved in history, as fulfilled and established facts. Whatever basic interpretation, additional to that proposed here is favored, it must necessarily take second place.
We should not be fretful that the affairs of Israel are not referred to in The Revelation, except for one fleeting remark in Chapter 1. Ample information is provided in the O.T. prophets about the complete destiny of the nation of Israel well into the Kingdom age. Very often such information is repeated in the Old Testament and there is no need to refer to those details again in The Revelation - That book concerns the destiny of spiritual Israel, the Christians. As it is, there is a lot more information about the future of Israel in the Old Testament and the rest of the New, without any need to pursue again in The Revelation.
On this basis, the book of Revelation contains what seems to be needful. It presents many comments by God on His reactions to the events of the chaotic progress of Christianity. It reveals the many attempts He made to warn Europe’s inhabitants of their devious behavior and of the disciplinary actions He took at various stages. Instead of being practically uninformed of any of these indications, we are provided with many details about how God reacted and intervened in western world affairs over the nineteen hundred years from John.