Thursday, December 10, 2009

Clay Kingdom

It occurred to me that I have been neglecting developments associated with the “Revived Roman Empire” in large part because I have recently been convinced that the Antichrist will emerge from an Islamic nation. But there is no question that the European Union will have a huge impact on the coming global government. The EU is already leading the world in regulations affecting international commerce. And the EU is the prototype for how diverse nations can work together to achieve common goals.

The essential problem I have avoided is reconciling my new interpretation of Revelation 17:9-10 with Daniel 2:37-44. The Revelation passage refers to “seven heads” representing the gentile governments that have ruled over Jerusalem prior to the reign of the Antichrist which will be an eighth kingdom. The Daniel passage picks up with the Babylonians but appears to be one kingdom short…

Revelation 17:10 – The five governments that had fallen at the time this Scripture was written were the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks. Rome was the one that “is” and they morphed into the Byzantine Empire. The one that would come best describes the Turkish Ottoman Empire as the seventh head.

Daniel 2:37-44 – This is where the Prophet Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue made with materials ranging from gold which is the most precious building material to ceramic clay which was the most common. The gold head represented Babylon, the silver chest and arms referred to Medo-Persia, the belly and thighs of bronze were the Greeks and the legs of iron represented Rome. Since the Iron continued into the feet and toes, it is generally recognized that the Roman Empire continues in some form until the time Christ returns. But there is also the clay that is in the feet and toes.

I have heard many interpretations of the clay which quite frankly have never quite satisfied me. I recall one author who made the case that the clay represented fallen angels who are bolder in running the government of the Revived Roman Empire because Daniel 2:43 says, “they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay” (NKJ). Certainly fallen angels mixed it up with mankind before Noah’s flood; as Jude 1:6 says, "the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day."

I have also read the case that that the iron mixed with clay represented democracy since the people being governed will participate in running their government. Certainly, “O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8, NKJ). I think the democracy explanation still has merit but not to explain what the clay represents.

The idea that the clay in Daniel 2 refers to fallen angels or people are category errors. A better explanation for the clay which helps reconcile the apparent disparity between the historical kingdoms in Revelation and Daniel is that the clay represents the Ottoman Empire. This resolves the category error since all the materials in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue represents kingdoms that would rule over Jerusalem. As Jesus said in Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (NKJ).

As I read through the history of the Ottoman Empire in Wikipedia, there is a lot which resonates with Daniel 2 and Revelation 17. For example, Wikipedia says, “the Ottoman Empire was, in many respects, an Islamic successor to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.” The Ottoman Empire took over the Byzantine leg of the Roman Empire by military conquest. This was the same for each of the kingdoms that have ruled over Jerusalem. There were also many times in the history of the Ottoman Empire that they were allied with the remnants of the Roman Empire. Throughout their history, the land ruled by the Ottomans and Rome jockeyed back and fourth from the time the Ottomans came on the scene up until Israel regained authority over Jerusalem in 1967. Israel let the Palestinians hold onto the Temple Mount so technically the heart of Jerusalem is still being “trampled by Gentiles” thus we are still in “the times of the Gentiles.”

The “iron mixed with ceramic clay” represents the Romans ruling the world alongside the Ottomans and they certainly did not “adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay” (Daniel 2:43). The Ottoman Empire morphed into Turkey making it something of a “Revived Ottoman Empire” so to speak. If the European Community is the Revived Roman Empire, Turkey certainly is the Revived Ottoman Empire. And their joint history of loosely working together but not mixing well continues with the EU refusing to bring Turkey into the fold. In response, Turkey has begun to make alliances among their Islamic neighbors and is poised to unify them to be a more formidable competitor to the EU.

The more I consider the interpretation that the clay of Daniel 2 is the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the better everything fits. The Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire are represented by the iron and clay that have traded off in ruling over Jerusalem and will continue to do so “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” I believe that the EU and the Mideast nations led by Turkey will be two of the ten horns representing world leaders who yield their authority to the Beast in Revelation 17:16-17.

Daniel 2:42 says, “as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.” The two independent iron and clay governments have not been effective in ruling over Jerusalem. This has contributed to Israel and the Palestinians haggling over who controls what in Jerusalem.

Daniel 2:43 says, “As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men…” I think the best explanation of this is that both the iron and clay kingdoms will be democratic. Unlike the former kingdoms, the rulers of the iron mixed with clay kingdoms will be subject to the people they rule. This is certainly the case with Turkey and the EU today.

It is also interesting to note that for democratic rulers to be successful in their agenda, they must control the opinions of their people. That is why spin-doctoring has become such an art form in our day. The mainstream media has basically become a propaganda arm of the government. Jesus warned us about this time saying, “take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4).

The exciting thing about the times we live in is that it is becoming easier and easier to understand how the end-times prophecies will be fulfilled. While the prophetic Word has been “shut up” and “sealed until the time of the end,” we are now living in the time when “knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4, NKJ). So the day Jesus comes for His Bride has to be approaching fast. This is not a time to be caught without oil for your lamp (see Matthew 25:1-13).

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