Thursday, August 21, 2014

Revived Roman Empire

There are some fellow Futurists who question the traditional identification of The Beast Empire with being a Restored Roman Empire. Chris White's commentaries on the subject are what I'm directly responding to here, but there are others.

First his commentary on Daniel 2.
The second part.

On the first part briefly.  I don't know why Chuck Missler and so many other people keep insisting Nebuchadnezzar was lying when he said he didn't remember the Dream (Daniel 2:5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "The thing is gone from me").  Have they never had a dream they didn't remember? because I do all the time, the memory usually fades within minutes of waking up.

They're confused I think by what he says latter about him knowing the magicians would be real if they told him the Dream. I think he was pretty sure the memory would come back if it was described to him, which it did. This was a test to show that Daniel was more valid then the other interpreters, but the test came from God.  At any rate that's not what this study is about.

Here Chris White  agrees completely with the usual view of the four Kingdoms being Assyria-Babylon, Medo-Pesia, Macedon-Greece and Edom-Rome (well he doesn't mention Edom).

I agree with his refutation of how some people want to read the Nephilim issue into this Prophecy. Or at least I agree that's not the main initial intent. I do still think that being also relevant as a second fulfillment is very possible, but it is not something I will be dogmatic on.
  "The first [problem] is that you have an unambiguous fulfillment of this passage in the history of the fall of Rome. We know that Rome was divided into several parts, eventually settling into just two parts, that is the east and west empires. We will see that the other elements of the feet and toes prophecy fit like a glove to the events of that period as well."
 I agree with his view that the events surrounding the Western Empire's fall around 470-490 A.D. Are foretold here. But that's only the beginning of this divided and weak state Rome is in, and they were trying to regain their former glory by conquest and political marriages. This continues repeatedly over the following centuries, with Clovis, and Justinian and Charlemagne, and the Byzantine Empire, and the Crusades and Venice, and the Holy Roman Empire, and Napoleon, and Mazzini, and Louise-Napoleon, and Mussolini/Hitler, and now the European Union and modern Globalism.
 "And the second major problem here for the RRE view is that forcing this prophecy to the end times means that you have to hold the view that the Antichrist has a divided weak kingdom in the end times. "
 I believe he will be the last attempt to restore unity and strength to this divided and weak empire. The Antichrist as an individual is not in Daniel 2, that is indeed true, I believe Daniel 7 provides new information which we'll discus latter.

Also I think many of our assumption about The Antichrist in other passages are wrong.  Including White's desire to define him first and foremost based on Daniel 11.

The biggest issue I have with this commentary is his teaching that the Kingdom represented by the Stone here is The Church, not the Messianic Kingdom. That view lends itself dangerously to Amillennialism as well as a Catholic understanding of what The Church is.. He's not Amillennial or Catholic, but that particular view of this passage is foundational to such arguments.  This interpretation can also lend itself to Dominionism.

With Daniel 7, he completely rejects the notion that the Four Beasts there are the same as the Four Empires of Daniel 2.

I think in addition to comparing Daniel 7 to Daniel 2, we should also compare it to 8. 7 is Aramaic Daniel and 8 Hebrew Daniel, so for that reason their view points are a little different. But it's also interesting that no where else are two chapters from the different language portions of Daniel so similar, both drawing on beast imagery and also a "Little Horn". I think that's why these two chapters are the transition from Daniel's narratives about The World to Daniel's vision about Israel.
 "In what sense can Neo-Babylonia or Medo-Persia be spoken of as living on after the anti-christ is destroyed. Traditional scholars give no compelling explanations for their presence and prolonging of their life at this point."
  Nebuchadnezzar's Empire which scholarly types today call the "Neo-Babylonian Empire" was defined by Ancient authors like Herodotus and Xenophon as only another phase of the Assyrian Empire.  Assyria is mentioned in many Messianic Age passages like Isaiah 19 (after verse 18). Chis White also argues for the Post-Millennial view of Gog and Magog, and is in fact the one mainly responsible for convincing me of that view. So we both agree that Persia is in the Millennium also. Javan (Greece) is in at least one Messianic Era prophesy as well, Isaiah 66:19.

None of the core Nations of those Empires ceased to exist as national identities. They may have been subject to other nations at different times, and their cultures and forms of Government changed over time, but they still exist.

The Malbim, a Rabbinic Jewish source says .  

Malbim: Daniel 7;2: <<The Four Kingdoms always exist only that at a specific moment one of the Kingdoms (dominating one of the four major directions of the world) gains supremacy over the other kingdoms and quarters of the world and encompasses them. The world is seen through the image of a great ocean since the storming winds are more recognizable at sea and the beasts of the sea are greater than those of the land>>.    

Cyrus and the latter Persian Kings, as well as Alexander and his Successors made a point NOT to destroy the cultures and institutions of the nations they conquered, but to rule them as they were used to being ruled. "It must not be said of Alexander "He left only chared ruins in his wake."" From the Richard Burton film Alexander The Great.

As for Rome, of the three prior Empires, it was only Greece's homeland Ancient Rome ever  conquered long term. Yet Greek Culture, and Language and Philosophy and Religion not only still existed under Rome but they thrived. Remember it was in Roman times that The New Testament was written in Greek.

Both Epicurean and Stoic Philosophy thrived, and Neo-Plaotnic and Gnostic philosophy were born deriving from Platonic ideas. Caligula, Nero and Julian the Apostate were Roman Emperors who were Hellenophiles.

In fact it thrived so much that when Rome permanently split between East and West the Eastern part effectively became a Greek Empire.

On the First Beast
 "The traditional view has this beast being Babylon, and specifically, Nebuchadnezzar. For example they say that wings being plucked off, and its being made to stand on two feet, and given a heart of a man is referring to the humbling experience that God gave to Nebuchadnezzar in Chapter 4 where Nebuchadnezzar was forced to act like an OX for several years until he recognized the sovrenty of God and then was restored to his right mind."

"This part of the interpretation has many problems, the first being that Nebuchadnezzar was dead at the time of this vision based on verse 1, and it seems strange therefore, that Daniel would see Nebuchadnezzar coming out of the sea, and providing more details about his life or kingdom."
 A symbolic prophetic vision can still include a few past events at it's beginning, as long as it's scope is Future. We see this in the traditional view of Revelation 12, where the Birth and Ascension of Jesus Christ are both included in that Prophetic Vision given to John over a generation after they happened.  Or Revelation 17 including 5 past Kings in it's vision.
 "The picture the traditional view paints is that the lion represents Nebuchanezzar when he was forced to act like a beast and then the plucking of the lions wings, making it stand on two feet, and giving it a man’s heart is symbolic of God restoring Nebuchadnezzar to his right mind at the end of Daniel 4. This would suggest that the reason for these four beings being described as “beasts” is because of similar situations like that of Nebuchadnezzars. Are we to understand then that the king of Medo-Persia or Greece or Rome are also described as beasts because they too were forced to act like beasts by God?"
No, the plucking out of the Wings I view as representing the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar. Being given a New Heart is an idiom of Salvation also used of Saul, as well as in Ezekiel 36.
 "The lion was not restored to its natural state by the plucking of its wings and making it stand on two feet. It was permanently transformed"
Which IS the same as Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar became Saved, he was NOT restored to the same as he was before.

I would agree that secular usages of Lion and Eagle imagery is not good to build doctrine on, but it can be interesting to back it up. A Lion with Eagle's Wings was an Assyrian symbol as well as Babylonian.
 "People trying to make this winged lion in verse 4 be Babylon are often thinking of the so called Lamassu . A Lamassu is a representation of a protective deity, not from Babylon but rather thousands of years before this in the Akkadian and then Assyrian kingdoms."
 My view of the First Empire is that Nebuchadnezzar was the culmination, and that it includes all Mesopotamian civilizations going back to Nimrod and Babel. So distinguishing between Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Chaldean and any others is completely missing the point as far as the Biblical view is concerned. Chris White is very correct to point out how Ancient Aliens plays fast and lose with such terms, cause what their claiming isn't mystical in nature.  But Bible Prophecy on the subject of Shinar and Babylon is a different thing, God views all those civilizations as the same Beast.  There were also originally many distinct nations in the home regions of Greece, Persia and Rome/Italy too.
"There is a similar problem with the next point which is brought up by proponents of the traditional view. Which is that Nebuchadnezzar is called both a lion and an eagle in scripture, this is the best of the point that the traditional view has to offer in favor of their view for any of the four beasts, but even so it should be considered that scripture also calls Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, a lion and an eagle too in Hosea 8:1 and Jeremiah 50:17."
 This only backs up my point that the Neo-Babylonian is still the Assyrian Empire.  

On the Second beast
 "The three ribs in its mouth according to the traditional view represent three notable conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire. But because there are more than three notable conquests of the Medo-Persian empire there is much argument among those holding to this view as to which three should be considered the most important."
 Let's use Scripture to interpret scripture here and look at how Daniel 8:4 describes Persia's conquests. "I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him". So that's three basic directions, which I think fits the point.  If I wanted to choose three specific conquests I'd look chiefly to Babylon, Lydia and Egypt.
 And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

"I think that this phrase is very important as it helps to weaken the case that this beast represents Medo-Persia, because after the conquests of Cyrus the great and his son Cambyses II, which occurred relatively quickly and very early in the medio Persian history, there would be 200 years of no conquering at all until the empire was defeated by Alexander the Great."
 I think that verse refers to the three invasions of Greece, under Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. The invasions failed and so did not add new ribs to the bear's mouth. But they were still very violent and bloody wars in which much flesh was devoured.

On the Third Beast
 "I would agree with them however that the four wings on the leopard probably represent a very fast moving empire."

"One of the biggest problems with this view is the four heads of this beast, the traditional proponents say that these heads represent the four generals who Alexander the Great gave his Empire to after he died."

"Even a casual student of history knows that the Greek Empire did nothing but diminish and diminish greatly after Alexander the Great died."
This is NOT the way symbolic visions ought to be interpreted. The four heads merely represent that it is the Kingdom's destiny to be divided in four, it does not contradict that it was the first individual King who conquered everything. Alexander does not need to be a head, the Beast itself refers to both the individual most significant King as well as the Nation as whole, just as with the prior two.

Regardless, the generals who founded those dynasties were alive during Alexander's conquests, and most, especially Ptolemy, were with Alexander on his campaigns, and were all married to Persian wives at Susa.  The same number is used as when clearly talking about Greece in Daniel 8.  That's not a coincidence.

Also since the Hebrew word for Greece is Yavan/Javan.  It's interesting that Genesis 10 names Javan as having 4 sons.

It's a personal pet peeve of mine when people describe the post Alexander period as diminishing and weak. It's true the Hellenistic empires' borders did not expand by conquest (the wars were between the successors mainly). But the Hellenistic Age was a very prosperous time, a time when for the first time ever God's Word was translated into a foreign language, Greek.  To me the Third Century BC is the real Golden Age of antiquity.  And the Dark Ages were caused by the rise of Rome, not its fall.

The Fourth Beast

 The Fourth Beast I feel like pointing out is even affiliated with the same Metal the fourth Kingdom of Daniel 2 is, with it's Iron Teeth.
 "There are major differences in the fourth empire described here and the last empire described in the statue vision back in Daniel 2, For instance in this verse the strength of the empire is clearly the main focus, not a hint of weakness is detected, contrast that with the last empire of Daniel 2 in which the bible spends verse after verse describing the divided nature and inherent weakness of that kingdom. I would call that a very big difference, the one in Daniel 2 is divided and weak and the one in Daniel 7 is described as invincible."
 Different standards or definitions of weakness and strength could well be in mind here. Remember, even though both visions are from God, one was given to Nebuchadnezzar and the other to Daniel. And visions given as Dreams are definitely influenced by the thought processes and world view of the dreamer.  To begin with this is why one is a beautiful Statue made of precious metals and the other ravenous beasts.  Nebuchadnezzar wanted to view himself as superior and the following ones each getting worse.

Certainly Chris White would not argue there is no basis for describing Rome as a Strong Empire?

Either way, the intent of a new vision is to give us new information. The Little Horn is that new info left out of the prior vision.
"The main thing that people see as the clincher here in the reference to the 10 horns which they say corresponds to the ten toes in Daniel 2. But I beg the reader to realize that there is no mention of 10 toes in Daniel 2. That idea has been read back into the text by people who assume these two chapters are the same."
 Or it's something God expected us to know because everyone knows how many Toes a person normally has.  But I feel the Iron Teeth is equally as much of a clincher.
"That being said I do have some agreement with the traditional view at this point, in that I think that the kingdom that the Antichrist comes from will have 10 kings because of this passage in Daniel 7, and because of its interpretation by the angel which we will get to later."

"Perhaps it might even like representatives of the European Union or a similar organization, and he will subdue three of them before ultimately talking over the whole organization, I think that this organization will be associated with the west in some way as does Charles Cooper, but it is not required to be the Revived Roman Empire. And I hope that if someone has the time they will see my study on Daniel 2 to find out why I say that."
 The European Union defines itself as a Revived Roman Empire. They don't always advertise that fact, but that is why the European Constitution was supposed to be ratified in Rome.

He goes on again to his insistence that being the successive Empires of Daniel 2 contradicts them also being contemporaneous. I view all four as existing right now. Rome is Western Europe, Greece is Greece (already joined the E.U.), Turkey (military speaking it's already part of the E.U. no matter how many experts want to insist it'll never join because of their wrong views of Ezekiel 38-39). And then Syria and Egypt. And Assyria-Babylon is Iraq and Medo-Persia is Iran.

See I agree with the premise that Daniel 11:40-45 tells us at least part of the story of how The Fourth Beast conquerors the prior three beasts. It already has most of what was Greece, so the Kings of the South and North being Egypt and Syria fits perfectly. And then the further troubles out of the North and East I think involves Iraq and Iran, and perhaps also Turkey and/or Russia.  But I have come to view that Prophecy as initially being not The Antichrist but Augustus Caesar.

In my Genealogy of The Antichrist study I say in the first post why I believe The Little Horn in Daniel 8 refers to the Seleucid Bloodline, not just random individuals within it. So at least part of what's meant by the Little Horn emerging among the Ten Horns (not out of one of them) is set up by how the Seleucid dynasty became intermingled with Roman aristocracy. I further documented all that in the Genealogy study.

This makes The Little Horn distinct from "King of The North" which refers to the Geography of the Seleucid Empire, mainly Syria, but perhaps also Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Iran on a modern map, and parts of Turkey.

I've also considered the possibility, that when looking at the Little Horn's role in Daniel 7, that it could also refer to an 11th Kingdom/Nation, not just the individual who is The Willful King.  Back when I learned toward the Mahdi theory I considered the possibility of that being Jordan and/or a Palestinian state.

Another possibility I  now consider more likely then I used to is The United States of America. The Founding Fathers very much drew on Roman ideas of Government. Obama I still think is unlikely even if The Antichrist does turn out to be an American President.

Chris White now fixates on the view that The Antichrist is a Jewish Messiah claimant, who Israel will actually accept as such, even after the Abomination of Desolation. I think his theory could be part right, mainly in terms of how he views the First Half of the 70th Week.

The connection to Rome need not contradict a possible Islamic origin for The Antichrist, (though I'm no longer as sold on that as I once was). Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and very briefly Iraq in the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian were all under Ancient Roman control.

Chris White agrees that the Beast out of The Sea from Revelation 13 is the same as the Fourth beast of Daniel 7 (after conquering and/or absorbing the prior three). That makes it even more indisputably Rome.

Every lie has some truth to it, and the main truth that gives credibility to how Preterists and Bible Skeptics interpret Revelation is that Revelation clearly uses imagery that would indisputably point readers of the time to identify The Beast as Rome.

In his Mystery Babylon study Chris White also talks about translation issues with Revelation 17:9-10. That it should read (and he's still using the Textus Recpetus with this) that the Seven Heads are the Seven Mountains and the Seven mountains are the Seven Kings. This way of looking at is just fine, except his objective is to insist that the Mountains then tell us nothing about the Geography of the City. Problem is he doesn't explain what the point of adding these mountains to the symbolic imagery is then, why not just cut them out all together?

I believe Rome was where Mystery Babylon was in John's Time, but I do think she returns to Shinar in the end via Zechariah 5. I elaborate on my Mystery Babylon views elsewhere. If the Seven Mountains can in some way be descriptive of her end times location too, that would be great. But to readers in John's day, that this detail, however it's worded, pointed to Rome was blatantly obvious. Indeed so obvious that I reject the skeptics claim that it's supposed to be coded in way people unfamiliar with Old Testament imagery wouldn't recognize. The significance of the Seven Hills and Seven Kings are identifying details of Rome from their own History/Mythology no where found in Hebrew Scriptures.

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