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Chapter 10: The 4th Empire, Pagan Rome, Part 2

Mystery Babylon and the Stone Kingdom, part 31— From the Roman Republic to the dictatorships of the Triumvirates

Picking up where we left off, we are working our way through mini-series on the The 4th Empire—Pagan Rome which is part of our larger ongoing series on Mystery Babylon. I wanted you to turn to Daniel, chapter 7, verses 7 & 8 for this section. In this chapter, I am going to show you how these two verses cover a span of time measured in centuries!

We will commence that now as we continue our discussion of the fourth kingdom seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s vision; namely, the Roman Empire. The fourth empire does not refer to the Greek or Syriac Empire of the Seleucid dynasty, as Dr. James Strong and the Higher Critics have taught!

We showed in lecture-chapter 7 from the Scriptures themselves the folly of that position. Speaking of the fourth great kingdom-empire, Daniel records, beginning in the latter part of verse 7, that

Daniel 7:7c … it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

How do we interpret this correctly? First, let us look at the most popular interpretation today, that of the Futurists. Throughout the 20th century and continuing to this day, the Christian church world, especially in America, has been inundated, absolutely flooded with books, tracts, magazine articles, and now movies on DVD, like the Left Behind series, which set forth fables as the truth of biblical prophecy.

As you may know, the Futurist eschatology was popularized in the Scofield Reference Bible, and through the work of many hundreds of his admirers and imitators over the past century, from the late Jerry Falwell, to Pat Robertson, to Tim LaHaye, to Hal Lindsey, to John Hagee, and on and on and on.

They all have two grave errors in common. One: identifying the Israeli state as the same Israel people of the Old Testament and therefore, of biblical prophecy; and two: teaching that the ten horns and the little horn in this passage are still awaiting future fulfillment. Nonsense on both counts!

Back when the state of Israel was founded in May of 1948, these dispensationalists, these Futurists were elated because they believed that this signified that God was just about ready to start up His time clock again after the 2,000-year gap.

Therefore, they expected and taught that the rapture of the church would occur in or before 1988, which would be one, 40-year generation from the founding of the Israeli state.

Oh, I guess I should have said they have three grave errors in common, the rapture of the church being the third. But we will not stray into a discussion here of either that doctrine or the doctrine of who is true Israel in the world today, since we are focusing on the fulfillment of this ten horns and little horn” prophecy.

Anyhow, the Futurists not only expected the rapture by 1988, followed by the appearance of THE anti-Christ, but they really got excited when the Europeans began to put together the European Common Market back in the 1950s and 60s.

The Futurists expected that when that organization hit ten participating nation-states, that they could then proclaim that the ten horns or Daniel’s and John’s prophecies had finally arrived and were being fulfilled.

Well, the European Union, as it is now called, long ago surpassed ten; I think it has something like 27 member-states, but do not quote me on that. I did not take the time to giggle” it on the web.

Obviously, the Futurists were wrong about the rapture. They are wrong about the ten horns and at least some of us know how gravely wrong they are when it comes to identifying true Israel. We contend that the ten horns prophecy was fulfilled centuries ago, but that the little horn is still hanging around, as it were. He, or it, or she—we will clarify the gender later—is just not as powerful as he, she, or it once was.

Without stopping to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s, let us take a quick excursion through the history of Rome and see how it relates to the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. When Nebuchadnezzar had his dream of the image in about about 604 B.C., he probably had never heard of Rome, or if he had, it meant nothing to him because Rome was barely out of diapers as far as nation-states were concerned.

But it began in roughly 750 B.C. and for a couple of centuries it was a small city-state, ruled by a local king. But Rome amounted to nothing on the international stage. By the time of Alexander the Great, Rome was enjoying the beginnings of a republic, as its form of government.

Neither Alexander, nor the four dynasties that succeeded him as part of Daniel’s Greek empire, bothered to look westward. They focused all their attention eastward.

By 300 B.C. (and once again, I remind you, I am just giving you broad strokes here, round figures and dates, and so forth), by roughly 300 B.C., Rome as a republic, had begun to conquer the entire boot, the Italian peninsula.

Then they got tangled up with the powerful city-state called Carthage in North Africa. Of great interest to us is that the Carthaginians were originally descended primarily from the tribes of Israel! You can read all about that in the book, Israel’s Lost Empires which is still available from our offices. Yes, I know, you have read in your high school or college history textbooks that Carthage was a colony of Phoenicia, not ancient Israel.

And in one sense, that is true. The Phoenicians were part of the story. But here we have a stellar example of what my friend Ron likes to call God’s witness protection program” for Israel. For God ordained that historians would give the credit to the junior partners in the relationship. What am I talking about?

Well, if you will recall, King David had a very friendly relationship with Hiram, king of Tyre. Hiram was a Phoenician. And when Solomon ascended the throne and got the building program for the temple underway, he, too, had a strong business relationship with Hiram. It was Hiram and the Phoenicians who supplied many of the raw materials and the labor crews for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem.

Thus, began a centuries-long alliance between the Israelites and the Phoenicians. As Steven Collins shows in Israel’s Lost Empires, the Phoenician navy was more an Israelite navy, but the Phoenicians got all the credit, historically speaking.

It was just as God had planned. He did it to keep the whole world—including Israel herself—from recognizing their own identity as Israelites. As we now know, this was fulfilling the prophecy in Romans 11:25 that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the nations be come in.”

Allow me to read a few short selections from Israel’s Lost Empires. Knowing that many of us are the descendants of the Israel people makes this exciting reading. It is our family history. Author Steven Collins takes up the story as the Assyrian armies are poised to invade the Kingdom of (ten-tribed) Israel circa 721 B.C.:

To flee imminent death and destruction is a basic self-preservation response of all people. The Israelites were no exception to this rule. They were highly motivated to preserve their lives, fortunes, and freedom by fleeing the Assyrians before the final invasion of the ancient kingdom of Israel.

Those who chose to leave the doomed kingdom of Israel had many destinations as options for new homelands. We have seen that the Phoenician’ alliance of Israel, [with] Tyre and Sidon [Phoenician cities] had established many colonies in North Africa, Spain, and other Mediterranean locations, the British Isles and even as far as North America. Any of these could have served as new homelands.”

Let me pause there. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he said North America! Now you know one reason why I believe this might be part of the solution of the origin of many of the tribes of North American so-called Indians,” at least of many of the eastern and mid-western tribes.

And that is also why we carry the book, America, B.C., by the late Professor Barry Fell, which you can order from us for $16 plus shipping. Prices are subject to change because I know this lecture may be replayed years from now, at least I hope it will be. Here’s a link to our online order form to find this book.

Do you remember the Bible story of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel? Remember that was the time of Elijah the prophet and at that time there was a drought that lasted three years. Keep in mind that all this was happening several hundreds of years before Nebuchadnezzar! Collins states:

In the ninth century B.C. so many Israelites had emigrated from Israel via the Phoenician fleets during the drought of Elijah that it was necessary to found a completely new colony (Carthage) to host the refugees. Many people likely had relatives in these mostly Israelite colonies, and they could start afresh with little culture-shock’ as their customs and language were the same as those of Israel.

Carthage, approximately a century old when Samaria fell, was relatively close and probably received the majority of the fleeing Israelites. The fact that Carthage rose to great power in the centuries after the fall of Israel also confirms a major increase in population.

Historical evidence has long existed concerning the voluntary migrations of the rest of the Israelites at this time, but such evidence has been ignored or forgotten. …The kingdom of Israel was the main engine for the Golden Age’ of what modern historians call the Phoenician Empire.

When Israel left Palestine, Phoenician power shifted from Tyre, Sidon, and Israel to their colonies in the west. Because Israel dominated the Phoenician alliance, it had ready access to the large Phoenician fleets to relocate its people to new homelands…”

And we will stop there. I was quoting from pages 97 & 98 of Steven Collins’ thrilling book, Israel’s Lost Empires. Later in the book, he does go on to discuss at great length the ancient voyages of Carthaginian-Israelites to this North American continent. It is indeed an exciting read!

So, now you know who Rome was going up against. Rome’s wars with Carthage are known as the Punic Wars, Punic being another word for Phoenician. By the end of the First Punic War in about 240 B.C., Sicily had become Rome’s first overseas province.

Carthage and Rome then went at it again, this time over who would control Spain. Collins also shows there were Israelite colonies in Spain as well. Spain was desired by the Romans because—listen to this—at that time Spain was rich in gold, silver, and copper mines.

Does that ring any bells? Why do I call your attention to that? Because it relates to Nebuchadnezzar’s image. The gold and silver are obvious, but the word brass in the KJV in relation to the third kingdom, is more correctly translated bronze. As you may know, bronze is an alloy which consists of tin and copper.

All of these have to do with wealth and power. At that time, bronze was still the predominant metal for weapons of war because iron was just too difficult a metal to work successfully. At the time that Rome is rising, the Greek Empire of Alexander’s four generals and their heirs still rule, but they are all preoccupied with the area of the world east of Greece. They hardly gave a glance westward to the Italian peninsula. So, Rome rises almost unnoticed, you could say.

Meanwhile, Rome and Carthage duel for supremacy in the west in the Second and Third Punic Wars. Carthage loses Spain to Rome in the second, and Carthage is destroyed, and the land is salted in the third war, which ended in 146 B.C.

Rome is gradually becoming less of a republic and more autocratic. Oh, it is true that they kept the senate and other forms of the Roman republic—does that sound familiar to America today?

But after the assassination of Big Julie”—as I like to call Julius Caesar—Rome had become a full-fledged empire complete with an emperor. Let us review the life of Big Julie and just make a couple of observations.

The rise to empire saw two interesting political alliances; they were called triumvirates, from the Latin words for three men. There was the First Triumvirate which consisted of Big Julie, Pompey, and Marcus Crassus.

If you want to simplify it, you could say that between the three of them, they had the brains, the brawn and the bread, or the mind, the muscle, and the money. Crassus had the money to grease the hands of greedy senators.

Then it was a contest between Caesar and Pompey. Both were crafty and cunning; they had the political brains, and both had the brawn; they both had military forces loyal to them.

As history records, it was Big Julie who eventually won out. The First Triumvirate was a naked power grab by these three men. They had no constitutional or senate approval for what they did. They simply usurped power.

Thus, in 59 B.C., within a year after the formation of the First Triumvirate, the great Roman philosopher and statesman by the name of Cicero had seen his dream of a return to Rome’s republican roots scattered to the winds.

Because it was in 59 B.C. that Caesar and Pompey used violence and intimidation to force through the senate a bill giving public land to retired soldiers with Pompey’s retirees at the head of the line. In other words, they were using taxpayers’ money to buy votes to ensure their own political power.

Cicero realized that freedoms were being lost and that it would eventually result in a tyrannical dictatorship. Hmmm. Anybody see any parallels in America over the past many decades? Despite the forms of the Roman republic remaining in place, and with the senate still meeting in session as usual, it was the First Triumvirate who held the real power in Rome from 60-54 B.C.

It was seemingly benign…at first…, all for the betterment of Rome and its people, you see. In that way, the sleeping citizenry were not alarmed at their gradual loss of freedoms, which the great patriot Cicero had foreseen and warned about.

So, by 54 B.C., Julius Caesar had become the sole king of the hill in Rome, and for that he became the target of assassination. Besides Cicero, there were some in the Roman Senate who also saw what was happening, and they deplored the Roman republic’s slide into dictatorship. That was their motivation to join in the assassination plot. Cicero was not among them.

By the way, if you want to read a thrilling and inspiring historical novel about the life of Cicero, I recommend the book, Pillar of Iron, by Taylor Caldwell. She has a pun in the title, get it? Cicero was the pillar of iron character who lived in the iron empire of Rome.

Yet there were still other conspirators who did not care one whit about the liberties of the people, but who were in on the plot to take out Big Julie because they saw it as a means to try to get the top spot for themselves. And therefore, on the 15th of March in 44 B.C., Big Julie was stabbed to death during a meeting of the Roman Senate.

His adopted nephew, Octavian, later known as Augustus Caesar, then a mere 18-years old, was named his successor. Being just a youngster, Auggie was officially the front man, but it was felt he couldn’t do the job alone, so in 43 B.C., the Senate this time decided to pass a law actually making it legal to have a Triumvirate.

Hence, the Second Triumvirate was formed and consisted of Augustus Caesar, along with Marcus Lepidus, and Mark Antony. And thus, it was that gradually the Roman republic was converted into an oligarchy through what were known as the triumvirates.

And of course, it did not take too long before Auggie had become president for life, so to speak. By the end of his long reign, Caesar Augustus was treated as a god. Although he kept the title of servant of the Senate and the people,” the emperor had in fact become a dictator.

As you know, it was Caesar Augustus who ordered the empire-wide census which caused Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem. Gee, it is almost as though Somebody has this all figured out in advance so that the prophecies about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem would come to pass right on schedule!

Not only the prophecies about the Savior, but about how Rome herself fulfilled prophecies, because at this point, the Roman legions just kept on expanding their size and range, conquering territory after territory, nation after nation, and ruling with a rod of iron,” as it were.

Because, by this time, technology had made it possible for iron to become the weapon of choice, and with it, Rome fulfilled Daniel’s vision of the fourth beast to a tee.

We will leave you with that much about Roman history and then get back into how pagan Rome fulfills the prophecies in the next one.

Up next Chapter 10 - The 4th Empire, Pagan Rome, part 1 Turn (or Click) in your Bibles to the book of Revelation, chapter 14. We are blogging through a series of lectures concerning what the Bible teaches Chapter 10 - The 4th Empire, Pagan Rome, part 3
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