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TXT: Mind the gap…

Question: Why insert a gap after the 4th kingdom (in Daniel 7)? A regular read would put u in the 10th Roman ruler in Christ’s day. Nero came out of this. Doesn’t that make more sense than some still future guy?

Answer:

As stated during the message last Lord’s day, we affirm that God’s Word is to be interpreted as any other form of written communication using the normal rules of  language and grammar (Neh 8:8).  So when we seek to accurately interpret  the Bible, we need to apply those rules and take into account the type of language and literary genre the Bible is using.  This is especially true when interpreting prophecy!

For example, when reading about  God’s promises (prophecy) in Scripture, we sometimes see a  short  fulfillment time – days, months, & years or  longer intervals like decades, centuries or millennia! This principle is illustrated clearly in Daniel’s prophecy about Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion (Dan 4).  This prediction was fulfilled within the King’s lifetime (a relatively short period of time).  Other times, we see a somewhat later fulfillment, like the fall of Belshazzar and the ascendency of the Medo-Persian kingdom ruled by Cyrus (Dan 5).  Sometimes the fulfillment stretches over centuries, like the promise of God fulfilled in the Exodus!

One  clear example  of this “near/far fulfillment  principle” in Scripture  is seen in the prophecy of Christ’s birth.  It was first promised way back in Gen 3:15 but actually occurred some 4,000 years later! If you look closely you’ll see a “near vs. far ” fulfillment pattern in the  “prophetic sections” of  the Word. It is essential that we apply that principle as we interpret prophecy!

Daniel 7 describes the four final world empires which God promised to unfold during human history.  As we saw last week, the  fourth and final kingdom consists of two fulfillments (ie, near/far principle).  The first was the emergence of the Roman Empire (ca. 200 BC  to 300 AD) and the second, still to come, is the “little horn” (final anti-Christ) who assumes power and leads a resurgence of the Roman Empire — still yet future.  Scripture proves this is a later, yet unfulfilled prophecy because :

  1. Rev. 13  declares  this “little horn” or  beast or ruler was “yet to come.”  He was not on the scene as John received and wrote of  the book of Revelation.  So John was stating that the coming anti-Christ was still yet future!
  2. To remain true to a “grammatico-literal-historical-contextual interpretive method” when  unfolding  prophetic or end times literature, we must apply the near/far fulfillment rule  where  the context and the rest of Scripture support it. Daniel 7 is a clear presentation of this important interpretive principle.

So how does this apply to your question?  I believe your question may describe a part of an eschatological (“future or last things” ) position known as the “preterist view.”  In that view, the prophecies concerning the  final world ruler and his kingdom  were fulfilled prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (which was a horrific act ordered by the emperor Nero).  But a careful examination of the apostle John’s account of the coming antichrist demonstrates that this awful event decreed by Nero was not an act of the antichrist.  John wrote the book of the Revelation in AD 90.  No doubt John was aware of  the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem some twenty years earlier.   This was not a shock to John as Christ had predicted in Matthew 24:1-2 that this would occur!  Yet John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated the future antichrist  and the revived Roman empire was still to come:

“And the ten horns which you saw are the ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev. 17:12)

So, based on Rev. 13: and 17:12, other yet unfulfilled prophecies and the witness of history, Nero could not be the final antichrist.  So Daniel 7 :7b-8 is still yet unfulfilled.

The reason there’s a “gap” is because God’s promised “little horn” is still yet  to come. Nero was a horrble dictator, but a careful reading of the pertinent prophetic passages of Scripture prove that He could not have been the  “little horn’ of Daniel 7!  Just like the  “gap” between the prophecy of Christ’s  birth and its fulfillment took 4,000 years for its fulfillment.  Rest assured that God has set a time for the final fulfillment of the prophecies concerning  Daniel 7 and the end of this age.

So what does this mean for us today? One thing is abundantly clear. Its fulfillment is obviously much closer than when Daniel received the vision and the Apostle John further illumined it for us! Are you ready?

” So will My Word be which goes forth  from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11)

Author: Peter Spiers

Peter is an executive with CFA, a national healthcare consulting firm, and invests all his off-work time into his church and his family. He is faithful to invest his life into men and loves to see people transformed by God's Word.

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