Chapter 7: Daniel Unsealed The Fourth Beast Kingdom, Part 1
Mystery Babylon and the Stone Kingdom, part 17—Dr. Strong’s serious error
Daniel 12:8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
In the previous chapter, I set forth a premise based on the above verses, that there would come a time—the time of the end—when the prophecies of Daniel would be unsealed. Therefore, if we can read and study the book of Daniel, and we can look at what has happened in history—both past and current events—and if we can then make good sense out of the visions and prophecies of Daniel, then we would know that we are at the time of the end.
If you are in Daniel, chapter 2, please put a bookmark there because the book of Daniel will be home plate for this Bible study. We had seen in the previous lecture how King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue in Daniel, chapter 2, correlated with Daniel’s later visions of the four beasts in Daniel, chapter 7, and his still later vision in Daniel, chapter 8.
I have prepared a chart which helps us to visually keep it all in order. Let me give you this summary of how far we got in our study and you can follow along on the chart, and this will provide a good review for you.
We saw that:
- Babylon is the head of gold, and in chapter 7, it is symbolized by the winged lion. Notice how there is no correlation to ancient Babylon in Daniel, chapter 8, probably because that was the third year of Belshazzar and the Babylonian empire was then approaching its demise. Following Babylon, we have in the king’s dream…
- The breast and arms of silver, which is the ferocious bear of Daniel 7, and it also correlates with the ram of chapter 8. That is the Medo-Persian Empire, with the two horns being Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. Cyrus was the taller horn, because he became more powerful than Darius because Darius died within a year or two after they conquered Babylon. Then that empire was followed by the third which was symbolized by…
- The belly and thighs of brass in the king’s dream. And that corresponds to the winged leopard of Daniel 7, and the he-goat or rough goat of Daniel 8. That is the Greek Empire, initially under Alexander the Great. And when he died at the ripe old age of 33, his empire was divided among his four top generals.
There is almost unanimous agreement among Bible scholars as to these identities, and that is because history gives us 20-20 hindsight to see how precisely these prophecies were fulfilled. You will notice I said that there is almost universal agreement.
I qualified that because I exclude the Higher Critics who in reality do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible. They claim that the book of Daniel was not written by Daniel the prophet; that Daniel was, in fact, a myth; and that the book of Daniel and its prophecies were written after the first three empires had already appeared on the scene.
The Higher Critics, and some good men who sometimes unwittingly follow their lead, includes many ministers and theologians in the mainstream denominations today and, of course, the church of Rome. So that brings us to the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2.
Daniel 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
Looking at the chart, what empire corresponds to this fourth kingdom? Rome, right? But how do we know that is true? That is a rhetorical question, but it bears consideration. You have heard me criticize our modern educational system as one which by and large does not teach students how to be critical thinkers.
In biblical terms, critical thinkers are also the Bereans among us. They check the Scriptures to see if what they are being taught lines up with the Bible. So how do we know that the fourth kingdom is Rome? As I said, we have the benefit of the 20-20 hindsight of history. And obviously, we could not possibly arrive at that conclusion unless we know history.
Once again, to help instruct the brethren who protest that all we need to do is to read the Bible, I would suggest that if you do not know history, you won’t have a clue to understanding Daniel and Revelation, let alone hundreds of other prophecies in the Bible.
Now I want to share something that might shock the socks off some of you. Do you remember when someone first showed you how to use a concordance and find the meanings of the original Greek and Hebrew words? The concordance is a wonderful tool which can greatly expand our understanding of the Scriptures.
Of course, the advent of personal computers has enabled an even greater expansion of the depth of our understanding and always by the guidance of Holy Spirit. But way back when I first got beyond the elementary level in my Christian walk, it was in the days when I was told that, along with my Scofield Reference Bible, that I ought to have a Strong’s Concordance.
It is a wonderful tool, isn’t it? But is it inspired and inerrant? Heavens no! So, when you use it, remember that—because every scholar, every author, every teacher comes to his work with his own personal biases. I am not saying that having biases is evil or wrong; it is simply fact. Therefore, it is part of the critical thinking process to always be aware that every author and teacher has certain biases. It cannot be helped.
Now why am I going on this tangent? Well, it is not really a tangent. Here’s how it ties in. You see, Dr. James Strong came from a Wesleyan background, but over the course of his career, my conclusion is that he was not locked into Methodist doctrinal positions. He became more eclectic.
I want you to understand that I am just explaining, not necessarily criticizing him for being eclectic, because after all, I left my Roman Catholic upbringing and my seminary indoctrination, and I am very eclectic now.
By eclectic, I mean that I am not tied to any denomination. I search for the truth wherever I find it. All denominations have some truth, but no church or denomination has all the truth or only the truth. And that is simply a fact also.
Being eclectic means you are an independent thinker. You are not going to believe something just because it is written in some Bible notes somewhere or some scholar’s commentary. As I study the Scriptures, I study from a very broad range of sources.
I have numerous Bible commentary sets in my library which represent all areas of the theological spectrum—from the most fundamental fundamentalists to the most liberal theologians and Higher Critics.
And I strive to always apply critical thinking to whatever I am reading. For example, if I am studying a given passage in Lenski’s Commentary, I take into consideration that he is going to have a Lutheran slant on the topic.
If I am reading Calvin’s Commentary on the same passage, well that’s Calvin’s take on it. Modern Presbyterianism, the Dutch Reformed and a number of other denominations trace their theological roots to John Calvin. I believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. As I stated previously, some good men sometimes unwittingly (giving them the benefit of the doubt) unwittingly follow the lead of the Higher Critics without necessarily being among the Higher Critics themselves.
I believe Dr. James Strong falls into that category. Why do I say that? Well, as well known as his Strong’s Concordance is among many Bible students, his magnum opus—his great work is well known among scholars.
I am referring to McClintock & Strong’s 12-volume work called the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. McClintock passed away early on and so it really became Strong’s project. In all these lectures on Mystery Babylon to date, I had not consulted it, but last week I pulled volume two off the shelf.
Under the entry for Daniel, it includes a very extensive, multi-page, 11-column chart called “Harmony of Daniel’s Prophecies of the Four Great Oriental Empires.” That chart is significantly different from the one that I presented to you above.
You see, according to Dr. Strong, the first empire was Babylon—no disagreement there, of course. The second empire was the Medes. The third was the Persians and the fourth—the iron empire—was the Greek empire—according to Dr. Strong…and the Higher Critics.
Nowhere in the chart is there so much as a whisper about the Roman empire. The word “Rome” or “Roman” appears nowhere in Dr. Strong’s chart. My conclusion? Dr. Strong bought into the interpretation of the Higher Critics who maintain the book of Daniel was written in the second century B.C., after those three empires had already come and gone.
I have a few other problems with Dr. James Strong, as well, but I won’t go into that here. So, if I have shocked you with that information, I just wanted you to be aware of it whenever you consult his concordance and lexicon, but especially if you are going to consult his Cyclopedia.
This divergence of opinion begs the question then: How do we know which view of Daniel is correct? Well, if you are like me and actually believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible (in the original languages), then let’s examine both positions from that source, the Bible itself.
I already presented to you in chapter five how Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Christ Jesus Himself all vouched for the authenticity of the man, Daniel, and the Scriptures that he wrote.
Now consider this: In order for the fourth empire to be the Greek empire, then the second empire has to be the Medes alone, and the third has to be the Persian empire alone. But can that be a valid interpretation? Well, if you look at Daniel, chapter 6, verse 8, it reads:
Daniel 6:8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
By this we can see that Daniel considered the Medes and Persians as one empire because they had one law. But in case that seems like a stretch to you, there is more. Look at the scene in chapter 5 where the handwriting was literally on the wall in Belshazzar’s palace. Here Daniel, by divine inspiration, clearly states that the Babylonian kingdom is given not to the Medes alone, but to a joint venture.
Daniel 5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
And then for further proof, look at…
Daniel 8:3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
Remember that verse? I quoted it towards the end of the last chapter. Now, I will tell you what I think is a stretch, and that is this: In this vision, Daniel sees one animal—a ram—and to me that represents one empire. But the prophecy states pointedly that the ram had two horns (pun intended), one higher than the other. That clearly shows how the one is greater than the other.
And sure enough, as history records, Darius the Mede died within a year or two of their joint conquest of the city of Babylon. With the death of Darius, Cyrus the Persian, led the Persian side of the combined empire to become the greater and the later half. One could compare that to the joint “empire” in the 20th century of the Great Britain and the United States of America. The United States was the latter and greater part of the joint empire.
And just as the bald eagle is the animal emblem of America, so the ram was the national emblem of Persia. But the Higher Critics say that the ram in Daniel’s vision represents the Medes alone as the second empire, which is bogus on its face because of their ignoring the animal emblem.
Then they say that the Persian Empire was the third empire. Therefore, it would have to be the he-goat of verse 5 (in Daniel 8). And that identity is equally bogus, again because history records that the animal emblem of the goat was associated with Greece, not Persia.
But of course, the absolute, without-a-doubt proof is right there in the Scriptures themselves, as we see in Daniel 8, verses 20 and 21, where Daniel is given understanding by the angel Gabriel.
:20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
How can anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty maintain the Higher Critics’ position in the face of that Scripture!? The ram symbolized the combined kings of Media and Persia, period! And then Gabriel goes on to give the lie to the rest of the Higher Critics’ position.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
I rest my case. And I am saddened to see that a man like Dr. James Strong fell for that deception. One must wonder if he ever really read chapter 8 of the book of Daniel. And when I discovered that gross error of Dr. Strong while preparing this lecture, I put volume 2 of his Cyclopedia back on the shelf.
Knowing that nobody’s perfect, however, I try to avoid throwing the baby out with the fluoridated water. J Just because Dr. Strong was in error in that area, does not mean that I will never consult his work again, but it is a sterling example of how we all should be Bereans and critical thinkers.
After all, I would not want someone to think that I am in error early on while reading my book, Sacred Secrets of the Sovereignty of God, and then pitch it and never read another word of any of my work. If that were our attitude, I would have to pitch all of the commentaries of Luther, Calvin, Knox, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, Wesley, Lenski, Barnes, Hodge, Howard Rand and other great men—who were not perfect in their doctrine either. More on this topic continued in the next one.