Chapter 11—Daniel’s 4th Empire Extended—Papal Rome, part 1
Mystery Babylon and the Stone Kingdom, part 33—Introduction to the papal Roman empire
I want to begin today with a correction. In my last lecture (Chapter 10), I stated that the ancient city of Babylon crumbled into dust centuries ago. Well, it certainly did, and it remained a devastated ruin for many centuries— until just recently because a friend reminded me that Saddam Hussein undertook to rebuild the city of Babylon.
He undertook that project because he considered himself the actual reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar. If you know any of our troops who have served in Iraq, you might be able to get some firsthand accounts of how far along he got. Anyhow, I wanted to make that correction for the record.
Our last blog series was entitled The 4th Empire—Pagan Rome. If you have been following us in this series, then you know that the 4th empire refers to the legs of iron seen in a dream by the ancient Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel the prophet told Nebuchadnezzar that the strange statue of a man which the king had seen in his dream represented a succession of kingdoms or empires. The statue’s head of gold represented ancient Babylon itself.
Daniel further informed Nebuchadnezzar that Babylon would be succeeded by the arms and chest of silver, then the belly and thighs of brass, followed by the legs of iron, and finally the feet and toes of iron mixed with clay.
This succession of man’s attempts at government would hold power through the course of many centuries, but they would ultimately be superseded by the emergence of the Stone Kingdom of Jesus Christ which would then assume perfect rulership over the earth.
God pre-wrote history by means of prophecy and what began in Babylon will have its completion in the Stone Kingdom, the utopia for which decent and honorable men have always sought. The word “gospel” means “good news,” and if a utopian world is not good news, I do not know what is.
Of course, we know there is more to it than that—most obviously, our salvation by Jesus Christ into immortality and incorruptibility, but just from the earthly perspective, I think all decent human beings would agree that the utopian Stone Kingdom is good news.
Our heavenly Father, however, is a master dramatist and so he wrote the Script of this drama to include some highs and lows along the way to the perfected kingdom. And one of the surprises was something that He did not reveal to Daniel, but He did reveal it through John in the book of Revelation.
You see, towards the very end of the great drama covered by Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, Father threw in a little wrinkle which is that Babylon will re-emerge as the world-controlling power, but it will be so secret and so hidden that very few people will understand. Hence, this secret empire is called Mystery, Babylon the Great, in Revelation 17:5.
It has been around for quite some time now—over two centuries according to my reckoning—and we are living at the very tail end of its decreed lifespan, and thus, it is time for the mystery to be revealed. Actually, it has been around ever since Nebuchadnezzar, but I am here referring to it manifesting in its “Mystery” form—to those with eyes to see.
Because we, knowingly or unknowingly, have been living under a secret system of economic slavery, I would think that many people would want to know about who our masters are. Now before someone pipes up and says,
“Well, I know who my Master is. He is the Lord Jesus Christ;” I say, of course, and mine as well. But here we are referring to the fact that God has decreed that we must suffer under this bondage until the appointed time, so in that sense, we do have Mystery, Babylon as our master…
Remember, Daniel not only lived under ancient Babylon; but he served as an exceedingly high official in that government as well. And who among us would dare say that Daniel was unrighteous in so doing? Not one of us would. Well, let us return now to Daniel chapter 7, verse 7.
Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; …
Let us pause there. Notice: in this long verse I just read, there is one more phrase of five words which I did not read. Why not? To show you clearly once again how God condenses centuries of history into just one verse!
You will recall that we spent the previous entire blog series dealing with the rise and dominance of the pagan Roman Empire. All of that is encompassed by verse 7 up until the point where we paused. Now let us read the last phrase: (Daniel 7:7d) … and it had ten horns.
At this point we have arrived at the fall of the pagan Roman empire. Now verse 8:
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.
After reading this verse to you in the previous chapter, I asked the question: How do we interpret this correctly? I then went on to briefly discuss the most popular interpretation today, that of the Futurists and dispensationalists as popularized and taught by Scofield in his Reference Bible, Bullinger in his Companion Bible, Spiros Zodhiates in his Key-Word Study Bible, Jerry Falwell in his study Bible, Tim LaHaye in his Left Behind fiction, Hal Lindsay, Paul Crouch, Chuck & Nancy Missler, and of course, Pastor John Hagee and tens of thousands of lesser-known individuals.
Here is their eschatology in a nutshell: They are still looking for the fulfillment of this verse in some ten-nation confederation of European nations under the rule of one man, who will be the devil incarnate, and known as the capital-A Antichrist.
The Antichrist will be a singular individual, a global dictator. He will make a treaty with the Jews for seven years, and break it halfway through, but meanwhile all the Christians have been raptured to heaven at the beginning of the seven years, and so then the Jews suddenly become worldwide evangelists for God.
Somehow they are able to do that without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because God the Father had removed the Holy Spirit from the world so that the Antichrist could arise, and on and on they go, weaving new threads into their worn-out and failed theory, trying to keep it making sense, while history marches on, continuing to show the folly of it all.
But there are countless millions of Christians who believe those nonsensical theories and why? For one simple reason: because they do not know history.
If they did, they would see, as the Reformers did almost to a man, that these verses were fulfilled in the fall of pagan Rome and the rise and dominance of papal Rome, otherwise known in the history books, as the Holy Roman Empire, although there was nothing holy about it.
The title of this blog series (Chapter 11), therefore, is The 4th Empire Extended: Papal Rome. As you read along with this study, it should be obvious that we can only cover this in the broadest of strokes. For the sake of time, we cannot possibly give you the historical fulfillment of every jot and tittle as we proceed.
That is not to say it cannot be done because it has. There have been countless commentaries and scholarly books written from the time of Luther, Calvin, Knox, and the others on down through the centuries until modern times which go into detail showing prophecy fulfilled continuously throughout history.
In preparing these lectures, I have literally dozens of these books, along with history books, open all around my work space, as I try to draw out and set forth enough evidence to show you how God’s Word makes sense and that in this case, the ten horns are history, not awaiting future fulfillment.
So how was this prophecy of the ten horns fulfilled then? Well, Daniel himself asked for understanding so let us read what he was given in response to his question. Drop down to Daniel 7, beginning in verse 19. And as we read this, I want you to notice how much more detail Daniel gives us as he relates his question, detail that was not given in verse 8.
Daniel 7:19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Alright, let us stop there. That is the end of Daniel’s question. Comparing this passage with verse 8 we see that several ideas are repeated. Let us list them: In verse 20 and in verse 8, we find:
- There were ten horns—whatever they represent, and we will get to that shortly.
- An 11th horn came up by defeating or subduing three of the 10 horns.
- This 11th horn or little horn had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things—whatever that means.
So those ideas were simply restating what we had already learned in verse 8. Therefore, verses 21 & 22 are new ideas of what this little horn does and what happens to it afterwards. And now comes the divine answer to Daniel’s question:
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
Pause. Identify. That is the pagan Roman empire. And when it falls, here is what is next…
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
Now, both in Daniel’s question—glance at verse 22—and in the answer—glance at verse 26—we are once again dealing with centuries of history. And since we are limiting this blog series to papal Rome, we will not expound those verses until sometime downstream.
Let us break from our study at this point and pick this up again in the next part.