The Destruction of the Great Confederacy
A look at the prophecy of Daniel 2.
Friday, September 28, 2012
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In about 584BC, Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of the Babylonian Empire, had a strange dream, recorded in Daniel ch2. He saw a metallic image, whose golden head, we are informed, represented his own great kingdom (v38). The silver breast and arms, and the brazen belly and thighs represented the empires that would follow on (v39). These are named explicitly, in Dan 8v20, 21, as the Medo-Persian and the Greek empires, respectively.
But what Daniel was particularly interested in, was the 4th kingdom (Dan 7v19); a power as strong and as durable as iron, whose influence permeates the kingdom of men to our day.
This fourth kingdom was, of course, the Roman Empire. It was as “strong as iron” v40 tells us. And the Roman Empire’s division in 395AD was signified, in the dream, by the two iron legs of the image. In history, the one leg was the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. This empire, was ruled from its capital city, Constantinople (today called Istanbul), until it was overrun by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. However, that was not the end, for Ivan III of Russia married Sophia Paleologue, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor. Under the laws of inheritance, followed by most European monarchies of the time, Ivan could claim that he and his offspring were heirs of the fallen Empire. In consequence, his court was transformed with grand Byzantine ceremonies and meticulous court etiquette and Ivan took the title of Czar (ie Caesar). Thus Moscow became the third Rome, and continued the Greeko-Roman traditions (seen in its architecture, education, culture and religion) down to modern times.
The other leg was the Western Roman Empire. Its imperial form continued only until the 5th Century, when the barbarian chieftains gradually took over from within. However, a new “Roman” Empire was established by Charlemagne, king of the Franks in 800AD. His empire, later known as the Holy Roman Empire, was ruled by Kaisers (Caesars) until 1806, when overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte. This First Reich, was followed by Bismarck’s Second Reich (1870-1918) and Hitler’s Third Reich (1933-1945).
However, after the Roman legs come the feet and toes. We read in Dan 2v41
41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken [brittle].
Now firstly, we should not ignore the fact that the feet and toes have iron in them. The iron in the legs represented the strength of the Roman Empire, as we were told in v40, and the Roman power is still present in the feet and toes. In fact, modern Europe is the leftovers of the Roman Empire. Its very division, into eastern and western portions, each showing the distinct characteristics (in religion, culture, architecture and even character set) demonstrates its Roman inheritance. And across the continent of Europe, and clearly excluding the UK, the ruling elite is still a club packed with devout Catholics.
However in the “latter days”, another substance is introduced. The feet and toes, of the metallic image, have clay mixed with the iron of Rome. And the significance of this is indicated in v43, where we read
43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men:
The verse interprets, for us, “iron mixed with miry clay” as meaning “they” (the Roman power) will mingle with “the seed of men”. So it is clearly explained that the clay represents the power of “the seed of men”. The word translated men is enosh. When this is contrasted with alternative Old Testament words, such as adam and ish, it suggests the common sort of man. So we have the power of the common man represented in this clay power.
And in fact, the declining value of the elements of the image, represent the declining status of the authority in each kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar, the head of Gold, was sole and absolute ruler, where as the Medo-Persian king was bound by his own laws as Dan 6v12-16 makes abundantly clear. Both Greek and Roman rulers were further subjugated to the will of senates and other bodies. But in modern democracy, the power of each individual is so low, that it is like miry clay; the power is very common and of almost zero value.
And this democratising philosophy, first manifest (in modern times) in the French Revolution, has spread its influence across Europe, until even the Caesar’s of Russia were overthrown in the Russian Revolution of 1917. And while the Papacy stood resolutely against it for many more years, the ascension of John XXIII in 1958, with his historic Second Vatican Council, finally brought humanism, socialism and ecumenism into the Church of Rome.
We read of this in Rev 16v13 where it says
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
And in our day we see the fulfilment of this prophecy. Just as the clay was mixed with the iron in Dan 2, so here we have three spirits like frogs; a philosophy based on three principles – liberty, equality and fraternity. These spirits, today come forth from Russia, the European Union and the even the Papacy – the dragon, beast and false prophet respectively. The passage continues…
14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
And these spirits, or teachings, are of demons – and Biblically the spirit of demons relate to madness. And while this ideology appears to be rational and attractive, it is in fact a madness that gathers the nations to their own destruction.
Likewise in Dan 2, speaking of the feet and toes of iron and clay, we read in v44
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
However, there is one key feature that we have not yet considered, and that is the toes. We know that they are significant, because they are specifically mentioned (in both v41 and v42). We know that there ten, in the same way that we know that there are two arms and two legs.
The meaning, of these ten toes, becomes plain, when compared with the beasts of Dan 7 and of book of Revelation. In Dan 7, ten horns grow out of the fourth, or Roman, beast. Of these we are told in v24
Dan 7v24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise:
These barbarian tribes, which took over the Roman Empire, are the progenitors of the modern European peoples. And consequently, Europeans are symbolised by this number ten, just as Israel is symbolised by twelve. And, Rev 17 tells us…
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
Our age is probably unique in seeing nations, en masse, giving their sovereignty away, to form a new and great super state, as we have seen in the growth of the European Union.
However, we should not imagine that this is a phenomenon seen in the west only. The image has a western foot and an eastern foot. In this vision the 10 toes are shared between east and west, because this is a European confederacy of east and west that will develop. And as the western European nations, have “given their power and strength to the beast, so the same is happening in the east, where Russia is currently forging the Eurasian Union, from former Soviet Eurasian countries.
So we read in Dan 2v34
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together
The stone, we are told in v44, is the kingdom of God, but how can all of the metals be “broken to pieces together”? The Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires are all historical, so how can they be destroyed in some future event?
The answer is simple. The image, in addition to symbolising the continuous history from the 6th century BC until today, also symbolises a great single event in the latter days. In Dan 2v28, Daniel says…
28 …there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.
So the image represents a great confederacy that will be formed from the territories of the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires, from Charlemagne’s empire in the west, and the Russian Empire in east. Together these form the nations listed in Eze 38. They are also the nations, described in Rev 16, who are gathered with the dragon, beast and false prophet to the battle of Armageddon.
The iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold will be broken to pieces together, and become like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; the wind will carry them away, that no place will be found for them: and the stone that smote the image shall become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth (Dan 2v35).
And so as we see EU nations, wracked by financial crises, rushing to give their power and strength to the beast; as we see a similar supra-national power developing in the east; and as we Russian and German ties growing every stronger; we are actually seeing God’s hand at work; moving the nations and gathering…
…them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Rev16v14)
And so as we see these signs, we look eagerly for the coming of the Messiah.
This is Nick Barnes with Bible in the News. Join us again next week, God willing, as we watch for that great day.
Within decades after the capture of Constantinople by Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on 29 May 1453, some were nominating Moscow as the "Third Rome", or the "New Rome". Stirrings of this sentiment began during the reign of Ivan III of Russia who had married Sophia Paleologue. Sophia was a niece of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor. By rules laws of inheritancefollowed by most European monarchies of the time Ivan could claim that he and his offspring were heirs of the fallen Empire, but the Roman traditions of the empire had never recognized automatic inheritance of the Imperial office. A stronger claim was based on religion. The Orthodox faithwas central to Byzantine notions of their identity and what distinguished them from 'barbarians."Vladimir the Great had converted Kievan Rus' to Orthodoxy in 988, in return for which he became the first barbarian to ever get an Imperial princess as a wife.
Printed: Friday, September 28, 2012
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