2. Guide Lines
It is desirable at the outset to underline the
importance of a few general principles, which it would be unwise to
First, Bible prophecy is not human history
written in advance; it is Israel's history written in advance. Israel is
the very centre of God's developing purpose. Bible prophecy centres on God's
People. Of course there are remarkable events foretold concerning other nations,
but these come only when such nations as Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Russia
make significant impact on Israel. Even in such a familiar prophecy as
Nebuchadnezzar's image this stands true. Why should the revelation of great
empires stop short with Babylon, Persia’ Greece, and Rome? Why not Genghiz
Khan, Napoleon, Philipi ll of Spain? And, far and away the greatest of them all,
the British Empire?
But once it is realised that a Hebrew prophet
wrote Daniel 2, about nations, which oppressed his people in their own, Land,
there is no difficulty.
Various details chime in with this
The Fourth Empire was to "break in pieces and
crush". But is it not true that all empires do this? No! Rome took the
blessings of peace and settled government to every people it conquered but could
not achieve this with the turbulent Jews; so in AD 70 and 135 the only answer to
such insurgence was to smash and scatter. Then the sequence of empires in the
prophetic vision came to an end until, today, Jews are back in their own
Land, and appropriately at that point the vision resumes with details about
ten nations which will yet overpower the State of Israel, themselves being
smashed by the Stone: "they (the Jews) shall mingle (Aram: shall arab)
themselves with the seed of men."
The history of interpretation of these ten
nations is interesting:
1848, in Elpis Israel (p. 326):
1. Belgium; 2. France; 3. Spain; 4. Portugal; 5.
Naples; 6. Sardinia; 7. Greece; 8. Hungary; 9. Lombardy; 10.
1924, C. C. W.'s correction of this list (p.
1. Belgium; 2. France; 3.Spain; 4. Portugal; 5.
Switzerland; 6. Germany; 7. Italy; 8. Austria-Hungary; 9. Serbia; 10.
1868: The ten toe-kingdoms (and the ten horns)
"have yet (in 1868!) to be formed out of the existing elements"
(Exposition of Daniel, J. T. p.13).
Here is another interesting example of great men
re-adjusting their prophetic perspective (it does not happen regarding
doctrine nor can it).
Second, the temptation to interpret prophecies by
finding resemblances to current events and newspaper comments thereon is to be
resisted. Always there must be first of all a well established Biblical
foundation for the main line of interpretation, and then the excitement
of matching Bible detail with recent history, or current events, may proceed. To
equate the Sixth Seal with the times of Constantine or the Two Witnesses with
the Huguenots because such identifications help to fill out attractive
historical theory is perilous going. Let the student first find the copious
Biblical allusions squandered through those passages and gratefully use the
hints, which they supply, and there is then no need to depend on a ruthless and
highly subjective plundering of the history books.
Let it be noted also that much of this European
history was first suggested by Protestant commentators, who were themselves
reared on the errors of the “harlot daughters". This is a fact readily
Thirdly, and in harmony with what has just been
said, it needs to be remembered that practically all Old Testament (and N. T.?)
prophecy has the same kind of tidy framework, thus: The prophecy you are
interested in had a primary reference contemporary with or immediately after the
prophet's own day; but after this there is a duty to look for a Messianic
reference to either the First or the Second Coming of the Lord. Furthermore,
these two facets should harmonize; e.g. God's great Promise to David was
fulfilled in Solomon and in Christ - there is Bible evidence for both;
that matchless prophecy in Isaiah 53 was written about good king Hezekiah and
about the sufferings of our Lord-and again there is Bible evidence for
In the chapters, which follow from here, only the
Messianic eschatological phase of each prophecy will be taken into