Harry Whittaker
Five Minutes To Twelve

2. Guide Lines

It is desirable at the outset to underline the importance of a few general principles, which it would be unwise to overlook.

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 view.

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. Bavaria.

1924, C. C. W.'s correction of this list (p. 327):

1. Belgium; 2. France; 3.Spain; 4. Portugal; 5. Switzerland; 6. Germany; 7. Italy; 8. Austria-Hungary; 9. Serbia; 10. Greece.

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 substantiated.

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 both.

In the chapters, which follow from here, only the Messianic eschatological phase of each prophecy will be taken into account.

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