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The Key to Coming Events! — Part 1


   To understand the prophecies of the coming beast government foretold in Daniel and Revelation, we must go back and restudy world history. The Bible's central focus is always on Israel and the nations that surround her. Yahweh gave His chosen people the land of Israel. And Yahshua will set up His millennial government at Jerusalem.
   This two–part study on prophecy begins with Habakkuk, the ancient yet space-age prophet.
   Classed by Bible scholars as one of the minor prophets, there is nothing minor about the book written by Habakkuk. It is evident that he was a highly educated and devout man. Habakkuk wrote in classical Hebrew, in a beautiful style, and eloquent rhetoric. The message is clearly for our time, although it was written 600 years before the Messiah's birth.
   Habakkuk raises the age-old question (Hab. 1: 3-4), why the wicked are allowed to oppress and persecute the righteous. Why do those striving to be obedient suffer? Furthermore, why does Yahweh punish His own people at the hands of others who are far more wicked? (1:13).
   Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted three times in the New Testament: Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38, where it is read that “... the just shall live by his faith." This was the source of the rallying cry of the Reformation, "Faith alone!" It must be noted here, however, that the word "alone" was added by the reformers. Believing is not enough. We are to act on the faith we have to show we believe in it.
   The Hebrew word translated “faith” is emuwnah, Strong's Hebrew Dictionary No. 530, which means either firmness, security or faithfulness. The only meaning Habukkuk evidently had in mind by emuwnah, which does not contradict other Scriptures, is faithfulness.
   "The righteous will live by his faithfulness" has a different connotation from "the righteous will live by his belief or trust in the Messiah."
   The New Testament writers also grasped this vital truth and elaborated on this truth. Belief and trust in the Messiah enhances the faithfulness of the righteous. Faithfulness to what?
O Yahweh, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear! Even cry out unto You of violence, and You will not save! Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment does never go forth: for the wicked does compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth, Habakkuk 1: 2 ‒ 4.
   Clearly, the believer is to develop faithfulness to Yahweh's law! Habakkuk did not go up on the ramparts to watch for the coming Messiah. He watched what was going on among the nations and compared what he saw with that which Yahweh told him so that he might understand how he should respond.

Habakkuk's Prophecy on Target
   With that background, let us climb up a spiritual rampart and look around. Will our views be similar to the situation described by Habakkuk?
   Here's what we see:
      • Crime, violence, disregard for the law and authority and a perversion of justice, Habakkuk 1:3-4.
      • Reverence of business that borders on worship, Habakkuk 1:15-17.
      • All those things in Habakkuk chapter two for which Babylon will be judged.
      • Hypocritical worship of Yahweh in which mere lip service is proffered as described in Matthew 15:7-8; and vanity, disobedience, covetousness, unthankfulness, unholy, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of Yahweh, 2 Timothy 3: -5.
   These are not natural times. Very few people even pay lip service to Yahweh today. The influence of the religion of the Bible continues to wane year after year and the morality of our nation and the world continues ever downward. Surely is being fulfilled the warning of the Messiah in Matthew 24:33 that when we see all these things come to pass, that the return of Yahshua is even at the door.
   Bible students studying prophecy and who have learned the lesson of the fig tree know that the culmination of the age is near. Many others in all levels of our society can also see the signs of the coming end of the age.
   Environmentalists are concerned over the pollution of our air, the rivers and lakes, and of the earth itself. The loss of the rain forests, acid rain, and drought make us aware that the precarious balance of nature is breaking down. There may not be sufficient time to correct these mistakes. Scoffers and skeptics are becoming increasingly concerned about what they see coming on this earth. Overpopulation, the threat of nuclear war, upset weather, and incurable diseases are but a few concerns of science.
   Christians are convinced they will not be deceived by the Man of Sin into worshiping the beast and receiving its mark. But a bigger question we must ask is, have they been deceived already? Have they been lured into a misunderstanding of the message given us by the prophets?
   Are the beasts in Daniel to be equated with those in Revelation? Extreme care must be exercised that we do not become adamant in our position relating to prophecy, thus failing to recognize the Man of Sin and where this prophecy fits with the end-time beast in the Book of Daniel.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things, Daniel 7:1‒ 8.

Bible Beast and Empires
   In the Bible, beasts usually symbolize nations or empires. First, Daniel saw a lion with eagle's wings.
   Evidently this combination represented a union of earthly and spiritual power, and was actually used by the Babylonians as the emblem of their empire. They considered Babylon to be such a union.
   Next, the bear with bones in its mouth apparently symbolized the same Medo-Persian empire depicted by the ram in Daniel 8:20. The Medo-Persian empire overthrew the Babylonians and ruled the Biblical world until the rise of the Greeks.
   The third was the four-winged leopard with a bird on its back must symbolize the same Grecian empire as the four -horned goat in Daniel 8:21-22. The Grecian empire split four ways upon the death of its first king, Alexander, with his four generals dividing up his empire among themselves.
   The Roman Empire overthrew the part of the Greek Empire that ruled over Judea. Therefore, the terrible fourth beast must symbolize the Roman Empire.
   While the Bible verifies these identifications of the beasts in Daniel's prophecy, no hint of time is given us. To gain some idea of the relationship of time involved, consider a few facts from the history of the empire not dealt with in the Bible.
   The Roman Empire began its conquest of the Grecian Empire by defeating the Macedonians in 197 B.C.E. The Romans did not conquer the Seleucid division of the Grecian empire, which ruled over Judea, until the Roman General Pompey defeated Aristobulus II at Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E. ‒ 134 years! Thus, the establishment of the Roman Empire took place over a longer period of time than any of the earlier empires.

Two Legs — Two Kingdoms
   Daniel 2:31 ‒ 45 reveals the metal man of Nebuchadnezzar's dream with the head of gold, arms of silver, belly of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron and miry clay.
   From verse 38, we learn that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is the head of gold. The nation of Babylon is symbolized by the first beast, the lion with eagle wings. It follows, then, that iron legs of the image must symbolize the same kingdom as the fourth beast, the Roman Empire. The prophecy of the fourth beast does not imply that the Roman Empire became a divided kingdom, but the two legs of the image and Daniel 2:41 strongly imply this.
   The Bible does not give us details of the split of the Roman Empire into the eastern division and western division shortly after Emperor Constantine made Christianity the imperial religion of Rome. Constantine died in 337 C.E. and the eastern division of the empire became known as the Byzantine Empire about 467 C.E. Eastern Christianity became Greek Orthodox Catholicism. Western Christianity remained Latin Catholicism, called the Roman Catholic Church.
In the late 11th century a nomadic people known as the Ottoman Turks surged west from Turkestan and overwhelmed the Persians of Iran and the Muslims of Iraq. The Turks became Persian in culture, Islamic in religion, and fanatical about uniting the world into one Islamic government.
   As Shiite partisans, the Turks came to look upon their conquest as a "jihad" (holy war) against unbelievers. They conquered the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and by 1513 had pushed their Muslim conquest of Europe almost to Vienna, Austria. Ottoman emperors saw themselves sitting on the throne of the Caesars and ruling all the lands once ruled by the Roman Empire. This was true in the east. In the west, Europe remained under the rule of the popes of Rome and the German kings of the so-called Holy Roman Empire.
   The two legs of iron represent this Holy Roman Empire. A normal foot has five toes, and the two feet, ten toes. The fact that the feet are smashed by the rock that becomes Yahweh's Kingdom implies that an east-west division of nations survives until the Messiah's return.
   If this is true, the ten toes cannot symbolize a revived Roman Empire consisting of the ten Common Market countries of western Europe. The implication is that the ten toes symbolize a loose confederation of five western nations and another loose confederation of five eastern nations.
   It just so happens that, as we approached the end of the 20th century, that there were five major Christian nations of Western Europe that are totally or partially within the boundaries of the ancient Roman Empire of the Caesars. There are also five major Islamic nations that are totally within the boundaries of the eastern division of the old Roman Empire. They are: Christian — Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and England; Islamic — Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Jordan.
   If our understanding of prophecy is correct, one foot is anchored in Rome, which is dominated by Christians, while the other foot is in Constantinople and is Muslim.
   What more significant understanding of the iron and clay mixture could there be than the fact that these ten nations are a mixture of races, languages, traditions, customs and background, yet the nations of each division fundamentally unite in culture, religion, and economy.
   The western nations are basically Grecian in culture and Christian in religion. The eastern nations are essentially Persian in culture and Islamic in religion. The nations within each division have at times been at war with each other, yet many prelates of the various religious factions within these nations are at work attempting to unify the religion with each division — Roman Catholicism in the west, Shiite Islam in the east. The Shiite Muslims today are reactivating the very "jihad" fanaticism that pushed Roman Catholicism to the brink of extinction. Daniel prophesies of these nations and governments:
And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom, is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him, Daniel 7:20‒27.
   Many Bible scholars and commentators assume that the ten horns and the ten toes are different symbols for the same thing. But in Daniel's vision of the beast with ten horns, there are actually eleven horns and only eight of them survive until the Messiah's return. If the ten horns and the ten toes symbolize the same thing, why the difference in the visions?

History Through Dark Glasses
   Many people don't believe anything apart from what the Bible says. Such people, though, believe without question interpretations of Bible prophecy founded upon a knowledge of the history of nations. They fail to realize that there can be no understanding of the prophets without figuratively standing upon the ramparts and watching what is going on among the nations and comparing what is seen with what the prophets said.
   Traditional understanding of Bible prophecies was conceived since the Protestant Reformation by Bible scholars who were ignorant of ancient history beyond what the Bible relates. They possessed a very limited knowledge of the history, or even current events, of the nations outside of Europe in their own day.
In the past century, historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, pathologists, sociologists and linguists have brought to light an astounding amount of knowledge, not only of ancient history, but also about what occurred among the nations between the Testaments and since Yahshua' s resurrection.
   Most Bible scholars of the Reformation were probably as learned for their time as the prophet Habakkuk was for his time, and would have been stunned by a revelation of their ignorance of history. Just as Yahweh told Habakkuk that he wouldn't believe what he is told, most people today will not believe New Testament prophecies that the knowledge of formerly hidden things will require.
   John wrote in Revelation 2: 17a,
   He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the assemblies; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.
   What does Yahshua mean by the expression "hidden manna"? Read Exodus 16:15.
   Yahshua tells us in John 6:35 that He is the Bread of Life. (The Hebrew word "manna" means "what is it.") Even though Moses said it was bread, we know that it was not literally bread but a miraculous food sent from Yahweh to feed His people.
   No one can conquer or overcome the world without having eaten of the Bread of Life. Knowledge of Yahshua the Messiah has not been hidden since the resurrection. "What is it" that has been hidden? Wisdom? Solomon wrote,
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding, Proverbs 9:10.
   Reverence for Yahweh and the knowledge of the Holy One have been ignored or rejected, but not hidden. Anyone who studies the Bible can find "what is it" that has been hidden from mankind - understanding of history! This must be the hidden "what is it" (manna) in Revelation 2:17.
   If there are any lingering doubts in your mind, consider this: why do footnote references in the Bible that deal with prophecies refer to the action of kings and nations? Also, why would the editors of the New International Version of the Bible be inspired to insert a chronology of history chart before the title page?
   What difference would knowledge of ancient history make in our understanding of prophecy, especially New Testament prophecy? Let me give you a brief look at a couple of things.
   Yahweh brought Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees and promised to give him and his descendants possession of the land of Canaan, Genesis 11:31; 15:5‒7, 13‒21; Galatians 3:29.
   Is there any question about Abraham's descendants' being heirs to the land destined to become the Kingdom of heaven on earth?

Babylon — A Long and Sordid Past
   We are to come out of Babylon. Why? Lest we become partakers of her sins, Revelation 18:2 ‒ 5. Is that the reason Yahweh brought Abraham out of Ur? A look at the history of Babylon will tell us something about this that the Bible doesn't.
   Historians, archaeologists, and linguists have determined that the civilized life we know began in a region between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, known as Mesopotamia, about 5,000 years before the birth of the Messiah, Genesis 10:8‒12 and 11:1‒1.
   Alexander Hislop tells us in his book, The Two Babylons, that Nimrod is the Biblical name for "Ninus." Ninus was an Assyrian king. Inscriptions of his name are the most ancient ever to be unearthed by archaeologists. The inscriptions state that Ninus or Nimrod was the first king ever to engage in wars with his neighbors.
   The inscriptions also verify the fact that Ninus subjugated all of Mesopotamia (meaning "land between the rivers") to his rule. He built the city of Nineveh in Assyria as the seat of his government and he built the city of Babylon in Mesopotamia. Legend has it that Ninus (i.e., Nimrod) was the ruling king during the building of the tower of Babel, Gen. 11:4. The Assyrians so admired, even revered, Ninus and his queen that they elevated them to the status of gods after their deaths. This was long before Abraham's time.
   The Chaldeans moved into the region of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia about 3,000 years before the birth of the Messiah. These people were strong enough to not only resist Assyrian domination but also to free the Akkadians, which Genesis 10:10 tells us were among the first people conquered by the Assyrians.
   The Chaldeans and Akkadians remained racially and linguistically distinct, but became one people culturally and socially in a political union powerful enough militarily to drive out the Assyrians and establish an empire known as Babylonia in lower Mesopotamia.
   The Assyrian Empire remained intact in northern Mesopotamia and for centuries under various Assyrian kings warred with the Babylonians in attempts to regain dominion over the area.
   The people of city states ruled by the Akkadian-Chaldean people, now known as Babylonians, preferred the tyranny of the Assyrians to the even more tyrannical rule of the Babylonians. They often sided with the Assyrians and even openly rebelled against the Babylonians.

"Divine" Right of Kings
   During these troubled times a Babylonian king named Naram-Sin (se-un) moved his throne from the city of Babylon to Ur of the Chaldeans and declared himself to be a god.
   Naram-Sin, Babylonian king of Ur, is the first king known to historians to have proclaimed himself to be a deity. And this was probably less than half a century before Abraham was born at Ur. Now the vassal kings of city states ruled by Babylonian kings apparently found it expedient to claim they ruled their domain by divine right of deity. To them, of course, the deity who granted the right to impose rule was the Babylonian king.
   Except for the pharaohs of Egypt, the cult of king worship was not widely adopted outside of Babylon. But, the kings of the ancient near east, who were not under Babylonian rule, seem to have latched onto the idea of ruling by the divine right of the "gods." The "gods" these kings had in mind, of course, were not deity at all, only figments of the imaginations of men.
   It is interesting that the idea of "the divine right of kings" has come down to us from a Babylonian king who ruled Babylon over 4,000 years ago. One has but to look at the history of Europe to find rulers who assumed this prerogative and note their dismal record.
   After Abraham was born, there arose another king who ruled Babylon from Ur of the Chaldeans, Ur-Nammu. This king promulgated the first written law code in all history. This law code became the basis for the most famous law code in all history — the law Code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon about 13 centuries after UrNammu of Ur.
   Ur was the most important cult center of the moon deity, Nanna-Sin in southern Mesopotamia. Terah at this time moved his family, including Abraham, from Ur of the Chaldeans to Haran of the Assyrians, which was at that time the most important cult center for the moon deity in northern Mesopotamia.
   Revelation 18:4 says we are to come out of Babylon lest we become partakers of her sins. Yahweh doesn't tell us why He brought Abraham and therefore his descendants out of Ur and Haran, but even this sketchy summary of recently revealed history of ancient Babylon can hardly leave any question as to why. Yahweh's reason must have been the same reason He commands us to come out of her — to prevent us from participating in Babylon's sins.
   The world will witness a universal deception that will entrap most. Paul warned in a prophetic message to us,
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called Elohim, or that is worshiped; so that he as Elohim sits in the temple of Elohim, showing himself that he is Elohim, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ‒ 4.
   During the time of the end foreshadowed by Habakkuk's prophecy, the man of sin will do exactly what the Babylonian king Naram-Sin did before Abraham was born. He will exalt himself above all of man's false gods: the Lord, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, and all others and demand to be worshiped as the true Mighty One, 2 Thessalonians 2:3‒4.
   Next Part: What are the beast, the horn, the abomination in the temple, stars, and a woman dressed in scarlet, and what do they all mean in terms of future events coming on this earth?

-Elder Ralph Henrie (deceased)

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