Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ten Kings, But Who Are They?

Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Daniel 2:34

It was always a pleasure to observe Glen when he taught, especially when he taught Daniel, the book so loved by him. I was content to sit in the back and monitor, after I had helped pass out his literature.

When I picked up a stack of his handouts, he leaned towards me and said, "We've got a spy in the group--the kid at the end of the front row. He didn't register for the class so he's probably on leave from the seminary. The big guys send them around to heckle me once in awhile."

I noticed that the young man he had indicated was already holding some papers in his lap when I came to him.

Glen had his chart of the Great Image on the easel and was showing the succession of kingdoms, starting at the top with Babylon, then bringing his arm down to show Medo-Persia, Greece, and then the Fourth Kingdom, usually labeled Rome.
Tonight Glen was emphasizing the legs of the image.

"Let me remind you that this image represents a time line that goes from top to bottom. At any point of the image horizontal features exist during the same time period. An example is the chest and arms of silver. Although they have been said to be two kingdoms that follow one another, they are on the same part of the time line, side by side."

The young man Glen said was a spy spoke up. "But Media and Persia are two different nations", he said. "How can you say they are only one?"

The heckling had begun. I was eager to see how Glen would handle this challenge.

He began, "I never said they were one nation, and neither does the Bible. In fact, the Bible graphically presents them as two arms joined at the chest. But these two nations ruled together and they had a unified law by which they governed. The Bible calls it the law of the Medes and Persians. One law for two nations.

"And, remember, they are both made of silver. In the image, metals identify the kingdom, the form of the statue shows the type of governmental organization."

As he spoke these last words, a woman in the front row bent her head over and wrote them in her notes.

The spy was not quitting. "Where does it say the law of the Medes and Persians?" he challenged.

There was a little murmur as people anticipated Glen's response.

"Daniel chapter six, verse eight, '...according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.' The reason I can quote that without looking it up is I get that question a lot".

Glen turned back to his chart. He was pointing to the part of the image where the two legs were shown when the spy spoke again.

"The legs of iron can't represent Rome," he said petulantly. "Rome never divided, it just fell!"

Glen, who often answered a question with another question, looked hard at the young man. "Haven't you ever heard of the Byzantine Empire? Or maybe they don't teach that in your theological cemetery?"

"It's seminary!" retorted the spy.

"Yeah," said Glen with a half smile. "Well, Rome certainly split into two parts and each had a different religion. Byzantium had their own Eastern Church. Historically, especially Biblically, it was not that long ago"

Glen wanted to emphasize the feet and especially the toes of the image. He found there was much misinformation on this part of prophecy, especially in the church. The amillennial "boys" as he called them, hated the Book of Daniel anyway, but especially where it showed that their church was not the kingdom of God already set up on the earth.

As he was speaking about the legs of iron, a hand went up. A middle-aged man asked, "You said the division in Rome was two religions. Does Rome represent the church, as in the Roman Catholic Church?"

Again, Glen rose to the occasion. These were the questions he loved to hear. It meant that people were thinking, and such questions allowed important points to be brought out in detail.

He smiled as he began to answer. "This is so important! I must emphasize that the fourth kingdom is not a religion, not the church. But the fourth kingdom has a religion. It has had paganism, with many gods, small 'g', and has been the seat of Christianity for a long time. Then another branch of the church, developed and Byzantium was its home.

"Please don't ask me for details on Byzantium. One of the definitions of the word "Byzantine" means "complex, hard to follow. So we're talking about two parts of Rome with two major branches of the church. That is, state churches, official religions.

"Like the Medo-Persian Empire, we had, once again, a dual empire. But unlike the Medes and Persians they did not have one law. The Great Image shows the downward course of government. The progression of metals is that they are less and less valuable, but stronger and stronger, until the clay comes in.

"With all this in mind we can see the background of nations and geographical areas out of which the toes arise. As the church, we are in the image time-wise, but not as a physical feature of the image. The church is not an empire or a nation, but it exists within empires and nations.

"Now, concerning the toes, they have yet to emerge. But we know where they will be. We just don’t know the exact divisions of the fourth kingdom. It looks like there will have to be a lot of consolidation because there are a lot more than ten at this time. Maybe, some day soon, Spain and Portugal would come together, say, but I'm just trying to picture how the number could be ten.”

"I have to disagree!" It was the young "cemeterian" for what turned out to be his last interruption. "We were taught that these ten nations are historical and already exist. May I read you my material?"

Without waiting for a reply, he rose from his chair, a handsome, earnest, young man in a blue suit jacket and jeans, very cool and preppy. He half-turned to the people of the class and began to read.

"1 .The Saxons, originating the English nation.
2. The Franks, originating the French nation.
3. The Alamanni, originating the German nation.
4. The Visigoths, originating the Spanish nation.
5. The Suevi, originating the Portuguese nation.
6. The Lombards, originating the Italian nation.
7. The Burgundians, originating the Swiss nation.
8. The Heruli, who have since disappeared.
9. The Vandal, who have since disappeared.
10. The Ostrogoths, who have since disappeared.
There are your ten toes!"

Glen was not impressed. He had heard similar statements before, trying to prove that the prophecies of Daniel have all been fulfilled, usually by the church.

"What's your name? Young man, don't believe I know you."

His questioner squared himself. "Jeff,” he said, standing up straight.

"Well, Jeff," Glen began, "Your list says three have disappeared. And since you don't believe Rome divided, you've got a statue with one leg and seven toes. A real monster. I'll stick with the one in Daniel."

People began to laugh as they looked at the young man, who had sat back down.

Glen continued. "We could debate about this all night, but there is a much more direct way to establish what part of history the toes symbolize, and it reveals that they are a picture of a future time. And please remember that these toes are lined up side by side on a standing image, and therefore all exist at the same time.

"Being on the bottom of the image, they represent the end time Gentiles kingdoms which will be in existence when Jesus returns. Not one toe will have disappeared at that time, certainly not three of them.

"Folks, we're in this thing, so we might as well see it through. Please turn with me to the book of Revelation, chapter thirteen, verse one."

After everyone had found the place, Glen began to read. "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. Revelation 13:1.

"Jeff, there are your ten toes. Only John saw them as horns and crowns on a beast."

He stood erect and said to those gathered. "Folks, we need to call it quits for tonight. I know you have baby sitters and have to go to work tomorrow. Thank you for your kind attention."

He reached into his cardboard box and drew out a copy of Daniel and the Latter Days. He stepped over to where the young man was standing and handed it to him.

"A little gift for you, Jeff.” He reached out to shake the young man's hand. "Say, you aren't one of those Ostrogoths are you?" he asked with a smile.

Jeff smiled and shook his head shyly. His superior attitude was gone. He looked into Glen's intense eyes and knew he was looking at a real man.

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