BEFORE introducing the prophecies of John it is necessary first to consider those of Daniel, as they largely treat of the same things, the one being the key to the other; Daniel gives the grand outlines, while John fills in the picture. To understand the one is but the better to comprehend the other.
The prophecies of Daniel are in the form of visions.
First Vision (Dan. II. 31-35.)
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. He saw a great image, whose head was of fine gold, his breast and arms were of silver, his body and thighs were of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. He also saw a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which smote the image upon its feet, and broke it to pieces; but the stone which smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Daniel interprets as follows: That the head of gold represented the Chaldean empire, of which Nebuchadnezzar was head. That after the Chaldean empire another, but inferior, empire would arise, represented by the breast and arms of silver. That would be followed by a third, which would rule over all the earth, represented by the brass of the body and thighs. That by a fourth, strong as iron, breaking in pieces all these, and represented by the legs of iron. This last to be divided into ten inferior kingdoms, represented by the iron and clay of the ten toes, partly strong and partly weak, as iron and clay, not mingling and mixing together. In the days of which kings God would set up a kingdom, represented by the little stone,1 which would break all these kingdoms into pieces, and which would never be destroyed, but last forever.
This vision is very plain. Beginning with the Chaldean
empire, of which Nebuchadnezzar was head, we have a clear-cut prophetic
announcement of the forthcoming of the last into ten minor kingdoms, and the
setting up of the
In this vision, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar and running
to the end of time, we have presented only a general view, showing when the
Second Vision (Dan.
Daniel saw four beasts come up from the sea, diverse from each other: the first like a lion with eagle’s wings; the second like a bear raised up on one side, with three ribs in his mouth; the third like a leopard with four heads, and four wings of a fowl. The fourth beast was diverse from all others, terrible and exceeding strong, and had great iron teeth. It devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet. This beast also had ten horns; and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. In this little horn were eyes, like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things, which Daniel viewed till the appearing of the Ancient of days, and judgment given the saints, when this beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame. He also saw dominion and power, and a kingdom given the Son of man, that all nations and peoples should serve him.
The interpretation that Daniel gives of this vision is just as clear cut and as easily understood as the other. The four beasts were the same kingdoms above mentioned, with a more particular description of the fourth kingdom. The fourth beast, so diverse from the others, represented a fourth kingdom which was to arise, and which was to tread down the whole earth; that the ten horns were ten kingdoms to arise out of it, and out of these another was to arise after them, and he should be diverse from the first, and should subdue three of the kings, and that he would speak great words against the Most High, wear out his saints, and think to change times and laws and that they should be given him. “For a time and times and the dividing of time”; and that, in the end, his dominion should be taken away, and the kingdom and the dominion given the saints of the Most High.
Here we have a second mention of the same four great empires, with the additional statement, that out of the ten kingdoms into which the fourth or last empire should be divided another and different kingdom should arise. The fourth kingdom, as in the former vision, was the Roman empire; the ten horns, the same as the ten toes of the previous vision, representing the ten kingdoms into which that empire was afterwards divided, and were, as usually understood, the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Sueves and Allans, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Heruli, Saxons and Angles, Huns, and Lombards. The little horn to arise in their midst, the Papacy, as we will afterwards see, the three horns or kingdoms plucked up by it, the Heruli, Lombards, and Ostrogoths; the time of continuance, three and a half years; that is, 1,260 days, or 1,260 years; a day for a year, according to prophetic count.
This vision begins with Belshazzar, about 555 B.C., and runs also to the end, showing the rise of the Papacy, or man of sin, which was to wear out the saints, and to continue 1,260 years. 2
Third Vision (DAN. VIII. 1-14.)
In this vision Daniel saw a ram with two high horns, one higher than the other, and the higher came up last. This ram was pushing westward, northward, and southward, and no beast could stand before him, and he became great. Then he saw a he-goat coming from the west, on the face of the whole earth. He had a notable horn between his eyes, and he came up against the ram with two horns, and smote the ram and broke his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to withstand him, but the ram was cast to the earth and stamped upon. The goat waxed very strong, and when strong, the great horn was broken, and four notable ones came up towards the four winds of heaven, and out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed great, towards the south and east, and the pleasant land, and it waxed great even to the host of heaven, “and cast down some of the host and of the stars,” to the ground and stamped upon them. And he magnified himself even to the prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, the place of his sanctuary removed, and a host given him against the daily sacrifice, by reason of transgression; and it “cast the truth to the ground and practiced and prospered.” And when it was asked, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation and to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? The answer came, unto 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
Even if Daniel had not given any interpretation of this vision his reader would not be slow in understanding that the ram with two horns, one being higher than the other, was the Medopersian Empire; the Persian being weaker at first, and becoming the stronger in the end. And the he-goat, the kingdom of Macedonia, that soon overcame the Persian Empire; and the horn becoming strong, being broken, and four notable ones coming in its place, representing the division of the empire into four parts, viz.: Egypt, Syria, Thrace, and Macedon; and divided among his four generals: Ptolemy, Selecus, Lysimachus, and Cassander. Out of one of these, viz., Syria, arose a little horn, a “king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences,” representing the Mohammedan power, as we understand it, and waxing great in the East, that is, in Persia; in the South, that is, in Egypt; and in the Pleasant land; that is, Palestine; magnifying himself against the Prince of the host and taking away the daily sacrifice, and trampling the sanctuary under foot because of the fullness of transgression, all of which was true, as we shall hereafter see.
Here, then, we have a vision beginning with the Macedonian empire, and to last 2,300 days, or years, showing the rise and continuance of the Mohammedan delusion; the four kingdoms into which the Macedonian empire was to be divided, and the part out of which the king of “fierce countenance” was to arise; the time of his active life, and the time for the cleansing of the sanctuary.
From this rapid review of the prophecies of Daniel we are taught, in clear and unmistakable terms, that there were to be four great empires, which were to arise and follow each other in quick and rapid succession, viz.; the Chaldean, the Medopersian, the Macedonian, and the Roman; and out of the Roman would arise a strange and mysterious persecuting power, diverse and unlike any other, and continue 1,260 years. And also, out of the four kingdoms into which the Macedonian empire would be divided, another power of great fierceness would arise, which would trample under foot the holy city, and defile the sanctuary; and, measuring from the rise of that kingdom, would continue to the end of the 2,300 years.
On turning to history to see what kings of the above
description, if any, arose at these two periods, we find two, and only two, and
these precisely meeting the demands of the case, viz.: the Papacy and the
Mohammedan delusion. They both arose at the very time and place indicated. The
one arose out of the Macedonian, and the other out of the
As there are no other kings in the above mentioned period, and the time fixed for their appearance has long since passed, and these so precisely agree with the description, we are forced to the conclusion that the two kings that were to arise, the one out of the ten kingdoms of the Roman, and the other out of the four kingdoms of the Grecian empire, were none other than the Papacy and the Mohammedan delusion.
The following summary will represent to the eye the truths set forth in the preceding prophecies.
FOUR GREAT EMPIRES
Macedonian, divided into
Roman, divided into Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Sueves and
Allans, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Heruli, Saxons and Angles, Huns,
The three plucked up by it: Ostrogoths, Heruli, Lombards.
The last great universal kingdom, which is to overcome the others, and yet to fill the whole earth.
Here are set forth:
1. That there were to be four great empires.
2. The third was to be divided into four, and out of one of these a fierce king should arise, and continue to the end of the vision of 2,300 years.
3. The fourth should be divided into ten kingdoms, and out of these should arise a strange and mysterious king, unlike anything else that ever lived, and who should subdue three of them, and continue 1,260 years.
4. That about this time God would set up a kingdom, small at first, but to grow, and in the end to fill the whole earth.
1 Dr. Alexander in his Stone Kingdom, following Baldwin in his Armageddon, strangely makes the little stone to mean the United States.
2 Comp. Gen. 29: 26, 27; Numb. 14: 34; Dan 9: 24,
27; Ezek. 4: 6; II Peter 3: 8. The early fathers understood “days” literally.
With increased development of the truth and light, the year-day
principle gradually obtained till the Reformation. The numerous fulfillments up
to the present time fully establish this as the true theory of interpretation.
See Elliot’s Horae Apocalypicae, Vol.
3 This has been the general view of the church
since the days of Turtullian, who lived in the latter part of the second
century. Says he, “What obstacle is there but the