Blast From the Past 2: Why Eschatology Matters Part 2

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Part 2: Flashback to Daniel

continued from Part 1

This begs the question,  “What were they expecting that made them so sure Jesus was not the Messiah?” They knew the scriptures better than anyone. After all, some of the Pharisees could even boast having memorized the entire Torah! To answer this question, I think it is important that we take a look at the foundation of all Biblical eschatology, Daniel. Daniel was written by a Hebrew captive while in exile to Babylon beginning in 605 BCE. Recall Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:1) of a great statue that predicted four kingdoms which were represented by the four metals composing the statue.  The most important feature is that at the end of the dream the statue is destroyed by a great stone (Dan. 2:44-45). This is what the Jews were expecting then (and now) and this is what Christians understand to be the promise of the Second Advent. Because of the mention of King Belshazzar, Nabonidus’ son and co-regent, we can determine that the book moves chronologically from chapters one to six and then at chapter seven backs up in time to a point somewhere before chapter five. What is important is that Daniel’s vision in chapter seven parallels the dream in chapter two albeit, as I will argue below, from the divine perspective rather than a human perspective.

In biblical prophecy a “vision” is frequently the vehicle employed by God to reveal the future to His prophets. Whether earthbound or through mystical ascension to heaven, apocalyptic visions serve as means to encourage God’s people that the kingdom of God will certainly come. Usually the symbolic images are interpreted to the visionary by an angel. The ancients recognized both dreams and visions but frequently used the terms interchangeably.[i] If one accepts the inspiration of scripture, an apocalyptic vision should be interpreted as what the prophet actually saw not merely a genre of literature. Daniel chapter seven begins with the prophet lying in bed and seeing “a dream and visions of his head” (v.1). Scholars universally agree that this vision parallels the four kingdoms from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two.[ii] However, between chapters two and seven there is a juxtaposition of imagery that speaks to a divine commentary on the vainglory of man.

Daniel saw four great beasts rise out of the sea that later we are told represent “four kingdoms that will rise from the earth” (Dan 7:17). Conservative scholars unanimously agree that the kingdoms are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.[iii] While there are alternate interpretations, postulating Babylon, Median, Persia, Greece, I believe that only those bent by anti-supernatural bias relegate the vision to the Maccabean era by late dating the text and ascribing pseudepigraphical status. They must violate the historical record by splitting Medo-Persia into two separate empires. They then proceed to violate holy inspiration by assigning the fourth beast to the Greek Empire. They make the book a clever forgery. Because Jesus himself authenticated Daniel as the author (Mat. 24:15) this is a non starter for true Christians.

Due to my own first principles, I dismiss such biased conjecture outright. However, I will demonstrate that the traditional view is coherent with prophetic symbolism and the historical record, while the liberal critic’s position appears ad hoc and disingenuous. I also agree with H.A. Ironside, who commenting on the parallel with the chapter two statue dream writes, “In what we have already gone over we have been chiefly occupied with prophetic history as viewed from man’s standpoint; but in the second half of the book we have the same scenes as viewed in God’s unsullied light.”[iv] Daniel’s vision is illustrative of God’s view of imperialism. Contemplate the kingdom values expressed by Christ in His sermon on the mount. Then consider Nebuchadnezzar when Daniel first encountered him: proud, fierce, and ambitious. How aggrandizing it was to be represented as a head of pure gold. And isn’t this the way of us all apart from the grace of God?

The first beast that looked like a ferocious lion and represents Babylon corresponds to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden head. However, in this second vision additional details make for an apt description of Nebuchadnezzar himself. In view of chapter four’s events, the tearing off of the beast’s wings seems to symbolize Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling. When the lion-like beast is given the heart of a man, his restoration and testimony about God come to mind. The parallel is compelling. On a more earthbound note, in Nebuchadnezzar’s time the Babylonian Ishtar Gate entrance was lined with yellow lions in relief on blue-glazed brick.[v] The winged lion of Babylon was a well established emblem. One would be hard pressed to find a more fitting symbol.

The second beast is a great blood-thirsty bear raised up on one side which represents the Medo-Persian Empire. The description is subtly appropriate for a federation in which one nation dominates the other. In fact, the historical record is clear that the Persian contingent did dominate the Median. The liberal view that this beast is Median singular fails in this regard. Furthermore, the bear is divinely commanded to devour three ribs, corresponding nicely with the major three conquests made by King Cyrus and his son Cambyses: the Lydian (546 BCE), Chaldean (539 BCE) and Egyptian (525 BCE).[vi] Chapter 6 of Daniel is very plain that the kingdom at that time was the kingdom of the “Medes and Persians” (vv. 8, 12, 15). Thus the book of Daniel itself states that this was the Medo-Persian Empire at this time.[vii] The Maccabean hypothesis is incoherent in light of the evidence. This level of correspondence with verifiable history authenticates the traditional interpretation and speaks to the prophetic veracity of the vision. Yet it is a ghastly bloody scene, far removed from the shining silver of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

The four-winged leopard with four heads represents the Greek empire won by Alexander the Great. Like a swift and agile leopard, Alexander was famous for his expeditious conquest of the known world. Of particular interest to the biblical perspective, Josephus records that Alexander had intended to destroy Jerusalem until he recognized the purple robed high priest from his own dream about conquering Asia. The priest handed him the scroll of Daniel,

And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; …He granted all they desired: and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired:[viii]

Leniency aside, Alexander died at the young age of thirty-two leaving his four generals Antipater, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy to squabble over the empire. The biblical writers used the term “head” as a symbol for leadership and ruling authority and this neatly explains the leopard’s four heads. [ix] Again the traditional interpretation is supported by the data and the liberal view fails. Also we get a glimpse from the heavenly perspective, a carnivorous monster rather than the cast bronze of man-centered majesty.

The fourth and final terrible beast of Daniel’s night visions is one unlike any known creature. It corresponds to the iron legs, feet, and toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and represents Rome. Several details tie the statue and dreadful beast together. The legs of the statue are iron like the teeth of the animal. The animal has ten horns paralleled in the ten toes of the statue, presumably representing ten kingdoms. However, a unique element not present in the dream of the statue is introduced in the vision of the four beasts: the appearance of “another horn, a little one,” which replaced three of the horns of the last and terrible beast. While the horns and toes seem to be kingdoms, this eleventh horn has eyes like a man and supplants three others. This appears to be the first biblical reference to the individual later described in the New Testament as the Antichrist. Daniel’s vision is still contemporaneously prophetic to the twenty-first century!

As a believer I take a high view of inspiration and I feel compelled to make much out of the sharp contrast between the vision given to the godly prophet and the impious king. It runs deeper than first appearance. In chapter two the interpreter is a man, Daniel. In chapter seven the interpreter is a holy angel from the divine council scene. World history from man’s perspective is triumphal idolatry, while from God’s perspective it is beastly carnage. Miller admits “there may be truth to it.” [x] Walvoord concurs, “…world history from God’s standpoint in its immorality, brutality, and depravity.” [xi] In the economy of Jesus Christ where the meek “shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5), it should not be dismissed as fanciful.

To be continued…

Blast from the Past I: Christianity is an Eschatological Worldview

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Christianity is an Eschatological Worldview

Pop culture tells us that waiting is for losers, why not seize the day and have your best life right now? Admittedly, patience, persistence, perseverance are not my favorite words. They convey yearning, unsatisfied expectations and unrequited love.  While Augustine advised “Patience is the companion of wisdom”, waiting is always proportionately difficult to the object of one’s passion. Accordingly, a milestone of maturity is met when a child learns to delay gratification. Remember as a teen anticipating your driver’s license? The wait seemed interminable. Rites of passage creep ever so slowly. Yet one finally arrives at adulthood and then ponders, “Is this all there is?” Christianity answers this question with a profound negative. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

Despite the sentiments of those who relegate the book of Revelation to the first century, Christianity is a profoundly eschatological faith. It’s inescapably so. New Testament scholar Gordon Fee writes, “The theological framework of the entire New Testament is eschatological.”[1] The Greek word for the end is eschaton, in this context meaning when God brings our present age to consummation. There is a tension inherent in the Christian worldview that eclipses all the yearnings of adolescence. It is the groaning of creation itself (Rom 8:22). Skeptics of the bible err when they pose the problem of evil, even natural evil, as contradictory. For it is not as if God has ignored it. Evil was served notice at Calvary and we await it’s eviction at the eschaton. Revelation chapter twenty assures the believer it is imminent and given biblical prophecy’s unrivaled record of literal fulfillment our confidence is deserved. Evil will not stand long in God’s economy.

The Jews in Jesus’ generation had an eschatological worldview. They believed they lived on the very threshold of time, when God would miraculously intervene into history and bring peace and justice. The source of their hope was scriptural. The new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah will be realized (Jer 31:31–34; 32:38–40). Sin and disease will be vanquished (e.g., Zech 13:1; Isa 53:5). An era of prevailing righteousness (e.g., Isa 11:4–5), when humanity will peacefully coexist (e.g., Isa 2:2–4) and even the law of the jungle will be supplanted by love (e.g., Isa 11:6–9). They were justified in their hope but the majority missed the mark. I can certainly sympathize with their error. After all, the supreme God, creator of the universe, had exclusively entrusted them with his written revelation. Surely as His people they were first in line?

The Jewish Eschatological Hope
The Eschaton

This Age
(Satan’s Time)
The Age to Come
(The Messianic Kingdom)


Demon Possession

Evil triumphs



Holy Spirit

Peace and goodwill


The Son of Man will come with the clouds of heaven.  In the presence of the Ancient of Days, He will be given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that all peoples, nations, and men of every language will worship Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

God had in fact promised that a day was coming when “men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zec. 8:23). Their racial pride blinded them to the international aspect of that promise. But not merely pride, they were understandably frustrated. They had rebuilt the holy temple after subjection to the Babylonians and Persians only to suffer the supreme indignity by Antiochus Epiphanes slaughtering swine on the altar of God as an offering to Zeus. Thus a national myopia set in, the Jews saw themselves separate and supreme. Where this fails is in not seeing the underlying spiritual deception influencing these nations. We do not struggle against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. God wants to redeem people of all nations and races.

Eschatological tension reached fever pitch when John the Baptist announced “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” John the Baptist was widely regarded as a true prophet and stands squarely in the prophetic tradition that the Day of the Lord points much more to darkness than to light for those who think they have no sin (Amos 2:4–8; 6:1–7).[ii] Imagine the horror of the Pharisees and Sadducees when John called them a “brood of vipers” (Mat 3:7) and admonished them not to presume their favored status. Later Jesus himself used the same language (Mt 23:33). The Prophet Isaiah had listed specific miracles that only the true Messiah would do. Jesus set about doing each one (e.g., Luke 11:20; Matt 11:2–6) much to the chagrin of the offended religious leaders.

Jesus had announced that the kingdom was at hand (e.g., Mark 1:14–15; Luke 17:20–21) and authenticated himself with the correct signs. The Jewish apostles that made up the early church of course recognized this. Jesus wanted it to be known, even reading from the prophet Isaiah to confirm his intention. Luke records in chapter four “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Lk. 4:17-19)
This was straight from Isaiah 61:1-2 and He also boldly proclaimed “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v.21). Yet it is quite telling that he stopped halfway through Isaiah 61:2 where “the year of the Lord’s favor” is followed by a comma then “and the day of vengeance of our God.” And there is the rub; the Jews wanted avenging yet Jesus stopped short. No one had understood that the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 and the political kingdom entailed two visits with an indefinite interlude reserved for the redemption of the heathen nations. This is where Judaism is still left hanging today, in fact, hardened until the fullness of the gentiles comes in (Rom 11:25). Sadly, they are still waiting “on him whom they have pierced” (Zec. 12:10) because they would not acknowledge His first appearance.

To be continued…

[1]Fee, Gordon D. ; Stuart, Douglas K.: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, S. 145

[ii]D. A. Carson, “Matthew” In , in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 103.

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I Am Coming Soon?

sevensealedscrollI am coming back from a hiatus of sorts… Rest assured, I have been studying the Bible and wrestling with God (Genesis 32:24). I have a question for my readers. What did Jesus mean by “I am Coming soon” in His revelation to John (Revelation 3:11Revelation 22:7 ,Revelation 22:12Revelation 22:20)?

Considering the 2000 year wait, it is a bit perplexing  and I am wrestling with various interpretations by scholars. As a Bible believing Christian, how do you make sense of this ?

Below is some preliminary exegesis with Strong’s concordance numbers. Please comment with your thoughtful explanation.

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” (Re 3:11)

I am coming soon.
ἔρχομαι1 ταχύ2
ἔρχομαι ταχύ
2064 5035


“And behold,  I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Re 22:7)

“And behold, I am coming soon.
καὶ1 ἰδοὺ2 ἔρχομαι3 ταχύ4
καί ἰδού ἔρχομαι ταχύ
2532 2400 2064 5035


“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” (Re 22:12)

Behold, I am coming soon,
Ἰδοὺ1 ἔρχομαι2 ταχύ3
ἰδού ἔρχομαι ταχύ
2400 2064 5035


“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Re 22:20)

“Surely I am coming soon.”
ναί5 ἔρχομαι6 ταχύ7
ναί ἔρχομαι ταχύ
3483 2064 5035


special book


petrus_STL Corrected