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What Time is it: Part 5: The Beasts 2

  • What Time is it? Part 5: The Beasts 2

     

    What Time is it? Part Five: The Beasts 2 from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    This is part 5 of our series on end time beliefs. In this section, I want to continue on with the prophetic beasts of Daniel and Revelation. Last week we covered the first two beasts, the head of gold being Babylon, and the chest and arms of silver being Medo-Persia.

    For those that were not with us last week, here is a quick recap: In Daniel chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream beginning in verse 32 of a statue with a head of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Then a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.

    Daniel interpreted the dream and said that Nebuchadnezzar / Babylon was the head of gold and that three more kingdoms would rise after his. In 539 B.C. Cyrus of the Medo-Persian empire, dried up the Euphrates river, and took over the city of Babylon in the middle of the night. Babylon went to sleep healthy and wealthy, then woke up the next morning as citizens of a new kingdom.

    The chest and arms of silver represented the kingdom that conquered Babylon, which was the Medo-Persian empire. At this point, Daniel became one of three governors who oversaw the kingdom and answered to the new King, Darius the Mede (Daniel 6:1).

    The next vision that Daniel saw is recorded in chapter 7, the 4 beasts that came up out of the sea. The first was like a lion with eagles wings. The second was a bear with 3 ribs in its mouth. The third was a leopard with 4 wings and 4 heads. The fourth was indescribable, it was dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong and it had huge iron teeth and ten horns.

    The image or statue in the dream of Daniel chapter 2 and the 4 beasts in Daniel chapter 7 are the same kingdoms that were coming. There were 4 kingdoms on the statue, and 4 beasts that came up out of the sea. The legs of the statue were iron and the feet had 10 toes. The fourth beast had iron teeth and it had 10 horns. The statue in chapter 2 was a “birds eye view” where the individual beasts in chapter 7 adds unique details to each one.

    We covered the head of gold and the chest and arms of silver in the last message, so we will pick it up with the belly and thighs of bronze, the third kingdom. Now the kingdom represented by the belly and thighs of bronze would be the kingdom that conquered the Medo-Persia empire. There are no gaps, for the coming kingdom replaces the previous one each time.

    Fortunately we do not have to wonder who this would be because an angel in Daniel chapter 8 tells us. In the vision of chapter 8 Daniel saw a ram standing beside a river with two horns, one horn was taller than the other. Then a male goat crossed the whole earth without touching the ground and smashed into the ram and trampled him.

    Concerning the vision, an angel told Daniel:
    (Daniel 8:20–22 NKJV) “The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they 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. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.”

    So we know that the kingdom to replace Medo-Persia would be the kingdom of Greece. History tells us that this actually happened under Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. At the battle of Arbela. Alexander took 47,000 men and utterly defeated the 200,000 man army of Medo-Persia who fled before him.

    Their largest battle though was the battle of Issus in modern day Turkey when Alexander found Darius and his army camped by the Pinarus river. There the ram standing by the river was smashed by the goat. It was the first time that the Medo-Persians had lost a battle with King Darius present. Darius was so confident of victory that he had even brought his wife and family with him to watch the lopsided battle, because as usual, Alexander was outnumbered 4 to 1. After Darius fled, Alexander captured his wife, his two daughters, and his mother. Alexander later married one of the daughters.

    The belly and thighs of bronze in Daniel chapter 2, the leopard with 4 heads and wings in Daniel chapter 7, and the male goat of chapter 8 all point to the kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great.

    There are some interesting details here about the goat:

    (Daniel 8:8 NKJV) “Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.”

    Scripture tells us that when the male goat grew very great, his large horn would be broken off. Alexander the Great died of a fever at 32 years old in the prime of his life, undefeated in battle, and ruler of the known world. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest military leaders of all time. At the height of his power, he was gone, quite possibly poisoned.

    Apparently assassination was incredibly common then and even Alexander came to power after his father Philip was assassinated by a bodyguard in 336 B.C. Alexander’s mother Olympias then had the other heirs assassinated as well, and Alexander took the throne at the age of 20.

    Verse 8 tells us that 4 notable horns came up in place of the large one, and also the leopard in chapter 7 has 4 heads. Alexander died suddenly and left no heir to take over. Alexander’s wife Roxane was pregnant at the time and soon had a child that she named Alexander IV. Roxane immediately had Alexander’s second wife, the daughter of the Persian King Darius, assassinated in case she was pregnant. Alexander also had a half-brother named Philip III who was chosen to be king in his place.

    Eventually all the legitimate heirs of Alexander were murdered and his family line extinct. His generals who were ruling different parts of the empire declared themselves kings and after 40 years of struggle, four stable power blocks came up. These were:

    (1) Cassander, who had Greece and the neighboring countries;
    (2) Lysimachus, who had Asia Minor;
    (3) Seleucus, who had Syria and Babylon;
    (4) Ptolemy, son of Lagus, who had Egypt;

    Eventually Cassander was conquered by Lysimachus, and then he was conquered by Seleucus. This left 2 divisions, the King of the North (Syria) and The King of the South (Egypt).

    (Daniel 11:3–4 NKJV) “Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled;”

    The mighty king of Daniel 11 is referring to Alexander the Great, whose kingdom was not left to his heirs but was broken up and divided among his generals. Most of Daniel chapter 11 refers to the battles, marriages, and betrayal between these two kingdoms, Syria and Egypt. The end of the chapter though is a lengthy discussion that I hope to cover in detail later.

    The southern kingdom that took over Egypt took on the traditions of the Egyptians and called themselves successors to the pharaohs. The royal sons and daughters married each other and ruled jointly. This incest caused each generation of leaders to become weaker and more feeble than the last.

    While these two kingdoms were struggling against each other, another kingdom had been on the rise behind the scenes, and from a small city in Italy came the fourth beast on the earth. Rome slowly worked its way into the southern empire, became its ally and eventually, guardian of the throne.

    Though the northern kingdom was stronger in power than the south, the Romans stepped in to help the southern kingdom and in 65 B.C. They conquered the northern kingdom of Syria and made it into a Roman province. Rome supported the southern kingdom of Egypt until there was a division among themselves, between Octavian and Marc Antony, who had allied himself with Cleopatra of Egypt. In 30 B.C. Rome invaded and conquered the southern kingdom of Egypt and Marc Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide rather than be taken as prisoners to Rome and paraded before the crowds in a triumph.

    All of Alexander’s kingdom was now under the control of Rome, the fourth beast that came out of the sea. Rome conquered Judea in 63 B.C. and the Jews and “the Glorious Land” became subject to them as well. The empire of Rome grew and expanded and nothing could stand in its way.

    The Roman Empire was among the most powerful economic, cultural, political and military forces in the world of its time. It was one of the largest empires in world history. At the height of its power, it covered 2.3 million square miles, a territory composed of what is now 48 nations in the 21st century. It held sway over an estimated 70 million people, at that time 21% of the world's entire population.

    This was the empire ruling Jerusalem while Jesus was on the earth and it crushed everything that opposed its power. It was Roman soldiers that nailed Jesus to the cross. As it grew larger, it also grew in hatred of Christianity. Subjects from all religions were expected to make sacrifices to the Roman gods and worship the Roman emperor as a god. When Christians refused to worship the emperor, they became the enemy.

    See you could worship your god as well, just as long as you worshiped the emperor to. Just like Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image that he set up, when the music played, you had to bow down to it. The issue with Christians and Jews was that the first commandment in Exodus 20:2 tells us:

    - You shall have no other gods besides me.

    And the second one is:

    - You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it.

    This caused a direct conflict with the Roman emperors who required it. Because the Roman gods were actually a part of the state religion, and it was thought that they must be worshipped regularly in order for the Romans to have victory in war and prosperity at home, it was considered a roman's patriotic duty to sacrifice regularly to Jupiter, Mars, Juno, Vesta, and to leave offerings out for the household gods. The Roman emperors could not understand why a person would rather be killed than to sprinkle a little incense over an altar or to bow down to their images, so they made examples of them.

    The persecution of Christianity started small and slow but grew to epic proportions and lasted for hundreds of years. All of the original apostles of Jesus died under this fourth empire. The emperor Nero was especially bad and invented creative ways to kill Christians. He dipped clothing in wax, dressed Christians in them, tied them to poles, and then used them as torches to light his palace garden at night. Christians were fed to hungry beasts in the colosseum or slain by gladiators in front of a cheering crowd.

    Most people today really have no idea what the church has been through over the past 2,000 years. It seems to be a common belief that nothing has happened in prophecy since Jesus left. 2,000 years of emptiness has passed by while we sit waiting on the rapture and the anti-christ to appear… Could we be blind? Could we have missed something?

    Remember my story of the sand doodles that I used to play with as a child. When uncovered, they dig themselves back into the sand.

    Every person that calls themselves a Christian today should own a copy of “Foxes Book of Martyrs.” This book was compiled together in the 1500s as a comprehensive list of the persecution of the Christian church. All the early protestant churches kept a copy on the pulpit beside their Bible as a reminder. Today it is all but forgotten, but let me tell you, it is a sobering eyeopening read that you will remember, and remember my story of the sand doodle when you read it. Here are some quick facts about the first apostles that perished during Roman rule:

    - James the brother of John was beheaded by Herod Agrippa.
    - Philip was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified.
    - Matthew the tax collector was slain with a halberd.
    - James the Lesser had his brains dashed out with a club.
    - Matthias who was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas, was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.
    - Andrew the brother of Peter was taken and crucified on a cross.
    - Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria.
    - Peter was crucified upside down because he said that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same form and manner that the Lord Jesus was.
    - Paul was beheaded in Rome.
    - Jude was crucified at Edessa.
    - Bartholomew was beaten and then crucified.
    - Thomas called Didymus was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.
    - Luke the evangelist, was hanged on an olive tree.
    - John The "beloved disciple" was brother to James. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. He was afterwards banished to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. John was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.

    With all of this continual persecution and horrible punishment, the Church continued to increase daily, watered by the blood of saints.

    The Roman Empire was divided in the 4th century AD into East and West, like the two legs on the statue of Daniel 2.

    Rome had great architects and built beautiful cities during their reign. There was an excellent Roman road network that connected cities with the rest of the Empire. There were many colossal temples and public works like libraries, fountains, running water, and public restrooms.

    At its zenith, the Roman Empire included these modern countries and territories:

    - Most of Europe including England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Gibraltar, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine.

    - Coastal northern Africa including Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt.

    - The Balkans including Albania, Greece, Hungary, Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

    - The Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, Asia Minor, and some parts of Mesopotamia and the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel.

    Rome is absolutely the fourth beast that came up out of the sea and replaced the empire of Greece in history. It is the legs of Iron in Daniel chapter 2, the terrible beast in Daniel chapter 7, it is the beast that John saw in Revelation but there is something else that came up after it:

    The feet of iron mixed with clay on the image, the ten toes, and the ten horns on the head of the beasts.

    See Daniel, John and the other prophets wrote looking forward. Now we are at the unique position of looking backwards through time. Daniel was living during the golden head of Babylon, but we are now at the other end of Daniels image, the very tip of the toes.

    History has watched the golden head of Babylon pass by, the silver chest and arms of Medo-Persia pass by, the bronze belly and waist of Greece pass by, the iron legs of Rome pass by, and now we ourselves are watching the very toes of it, but do we see them? After the toes comes the Kingdom of God, the rock that smashed the statue into dust and filled the entire earth.

    The toes and horns are a long message in itself and I hope to cover that in an upcoming teaching in the series. For now I challenge you all to take a look through Foxes Book of Martyrs because I plan to shed some light, on the dark ages.

    Foxes Book of Martyrs: http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/home.html

    You can also buy a copy but be careful because the "newer" versions have been heavily edited and censored by offended parties. The closest to the orginal that I could find is this one:

    https://smile.amazon.com/Foxs-Book-Martyrs-Sufferings-Triumphant-ebook/dp/B004TGNN5K

    ''After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. More than a record of persecution, it is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, and a source of edification.'' --James Miller Dodds, English Prose


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