The world is expecting a temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, based on 2 Thessalonians 2:4. They are expecting the monumental battle of Armageddon to be fought in the plains of Megiddo, in the north of the modern state of Israel near Haifa. They are expecting hailstones of fire, based on Revelation 8:7. They are expecting the moon to turn to blood, based on Revelation 6:12 and Joel 2:31. And that’s precisely why it can’t happen – at least, not in they way they are expecting.
Will Jesus’ return be a surprise? Revelation 16:15. Will the dreadful day of the Lord be expected by the world’s religions? 2 Peter 3:10. If people were anticipating His return, would they be prepared? Matthew 24:36-51. Who will understand the signs – and who won’t? Daniel 12:9-10.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5. The WORLD is in darkness; THEY will be caught off guard by the unexpected surprise of Jesus’ return, sneaking up on them like a thief in the night or a woman going into labor. The many who follow the wide path to destruction – false Christians – will be in darkness!
Will true Christians be taken by surprise? Verse 4. Will God do anything without telling His servants? Amos 3:7. Will it trap the whole world – and might it trap the true Christian who gets sidetracked by the world? Luke 21:34-35.
Are the end times compared to Sodom and the Flood? Luke 17:26-30. Did either of those things happen without the only true Christian in town knowing about it? Genesis 18:16-18, Genesis 6:7-8. Then neither will the destruction of the world happen without the foreknowledge, and the protection, of the saints (Psalms 91:7-8, etc).
The point is, the world is expecting the literal signs to presage Christ’s return; water turning into blood, signs of the sun and moon, earthquakes and volcanoes in strange places, Antichrist invading a yet-to-be-built temple in Jerusalem, the false prophet working miracles, and so on. Any mainstream Christian familiar with the “Left Behind” series of books and movies knows the high points of literal prophecy.
And therefore, that cannot be what happens, because Jesus’ return will come as a shock to them! Revelation is a book of symbolism! A book of symbolism explained in the Bible, and while the world is looking for the temple to be built in order for the man of sin to desecrate it (Matthew 24:15-16), the spiritual temples of true Christians were built and desecrated by the man of sin without them noticing!
The church was scarcely started in Acts 2 before the white horse of deception rode out and began conquering the unconverted among them, and Paul had not died before the mystery of iniquity was hard at work creating a clever counterfeit of Christianity! (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
Then the Pope came and set himself over the apostolic church, and claimed dominion over men’s souls, the true, spiritual temple of God, “exalting himself above all that is called God”, and “shewing himself that he is God”, and made a deceptive false religion so powerful that it could almost deceive “the very elect”! (Matthew 24:24).
While the world was watching, and is still watching, for a literal temple to be desecrated, the true temple of God has been being desecrated by the man of sin for nearly 2,000 years! And that is why you must study...
LESSON 51: PEACE AND SAFETY
One of the most important lessons of end time prophecy, if you really think about it, is 1 Thessalonians 5:3: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them...”. The world – and its churches – will be proclaiming “peace and safety!” just before the world erupts in World War 3!
Clearly this doesn’t mean the world is perfect, or really at peace; for then Jesus wouldn’t need to return at all; but there is a superficial facade of peace, enough so that the world’s politicians and false preachers and beauty-pageant winners can actually imagine world peace on the horizon. Enough so that people can SAY “world peace is just around the corner!” – and THAT is when sudden destruction comes upon them. And we’re almost to that point now.
Since WW2, the world has gradually moved towards unification. The United Nations seems to be actually working this time. A tourist today can travel across nearly the entire world in relative safety. Excepting North Korea, some of the Caucasus states on the border of Russia, and a few parts of some Middle Eastern countries, the world is pretty well at peace.
Oh, there are long-standing hatreds; China wants to capture Taiwan, Israelis and Arabs will never stop killing each other, Protestants and Catholics in northern Ireland still don’t get along, and those things will never change. But they’re mostly speaking to each other now, and there are regular peace talks which accomplish nothing, but which make a token effort.
Few realize it, but the United Nations was actually prophesied – at least, it’s not hard to see the United Nations described in Isaiah 8:9-13. The people associate themselves into a confederacy, “all of the far countries” take counsel together and make resolutions, none of which will stand and all of which will be broken together in the end.
Ephraim (the British Commonwealth) joins this confederacy and lets these strangers devour his strength (Hosea 7:8-11), in particular trying to maintain good relations with Germany and the Arabs. Which you can see in their relations to the EU and UN today and their dependence upon Arab oil. Even more than the USA, Ephraim has given up a great deal of liberties and practically all of his empire to the “strangers”.
And this sets the stage for prophecies like Micah 3:4-6, Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11, etc. These could not have happened during the Cold War, when a generation grew up expecting the atom bomb to obliterate life from the planet. Technology has grown tremendously since then, making planet-wide destruction much easier (Matthew 24:22), but the general fear of global annihilation has greatly diminished.
In 1980, someone shouting “peace, peace!” would have been laughed into obscurity. But now, it seems like a realistic goal (Isaiah 56:12). The world is being lulled into a sense of security, saying that if God IS coming back, it won’t be anytime soon – just as Ezekiel 12:21-28 prophesied. Do people know when to expect a “thief in the night”? Luke 12:39-40. Why does God want to take the world by surprise? Verses 41-46.
Likewise 2 Peter 3:3-4, 9-12 tells us that the world will not notice any of the major prophetic events before His return, for they say “where are the promises of His coming” – the “promises of His coming” that they are looking for aren’t happening, like the temple being rebuilt, rivers turning to blood, etc. They haven’t seen those yet, so they assume He isn’t coming back! And that is when He does!
CAN WE KNOW WHEN?
But those same scriptures all tell us that we are not in darkness. We CAN know when Jesus is returning, for He does NOTHING without telling His servants. One clue to the date of His return you just skipped right over in 2 Peter 3:8. The entire context of this chapter is “when will Jesus return?” Everything we’ve read describes what a surprise it will be to the world, but not to the saints. And in that context comes the scripture we have referenced so many times in these lessons, that to the Lord, a day is as a thousand years.
Why say that now? Why in THIS context, if not because it is relevant to this topic? Because it points us to the pattern of the plan of God! Jesus’ return begins the Millennium (Revelation 20:4-6). The Millennium is the “rest” or “sabbath” of God (Hebrews 3:7-4:10), when we, as a species, cease from our labors as God did from His on the first week of creation (Genesis 2:2-3).
Knowing all that, when Peter tells us that a day is as a thousand years, we can only conclude we were given six literal days to labor and do all our work, but the seventh is the rest of God (Exodus 20:9-10). And in the same pattern, we have been given six thousand-year days to labor and do all our work, doing “that which seems right to a man” (Proverbs 14:12). But when we enter the promised land, we will no longer be doing that which is right in our own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8).
Because the seventh literal/thousand-year day is God’s. In it we CEASE from our labors, from doing what seems right to US, and instead the entire world does the work that GOD does on the Sabbath day (Mark 2:28), the day that Jesus is LORD over! The millennial Sabbath of rest is coming to this world!
We’ve covered that in previous lessons but it’s worth repeating. Because while we focused on the fact itself, we ignored the simple conclusion that if we knew the precise moment of the events in Genesis 1-3, we would also know the precise moment of Jesus’ return! For it must happen exactly six days from Adam – 6,000 years later, to the minute!
The Bible gives us ample evidence of when that is, but we’ll study that in a lesson very soon. Meanwhile, back to the point; the main objection you will hear is “but we can’t know when Jesus is returning! Even Jesus doesn’t know!”, based on Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36.
That plainly says that Jesus did not know when He was returning... then. It does not say that Jesus does not know when He is returning NOW! He didn’t know when He was coming back then, while He was a man; it might have been 5 minutes, 50 years, or 5,000. No one knew, not even the angels.
But THEN He was resurrected and all power in heaven and earth was given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Do you suppose this is the one thing the Father still keeps secret? Do you suppose Jesus is in heaven right now, saying “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Can I drive??” over and over to His Father?
What’s more, read the context of Matthew 24:36; Jesus goes on to compare it to the flood (verses 37-39), and in the much shorter version recorded in Luke, He compares His coming to the destruction of Sodom (Luke 17:28-30). Did EITHER of those events happen without the righteous knowing it was coming, being protected, and being warned to flee?
So we can know when, we will know when, and we will be protected; if, of course, we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
THE BEAST OF BABYLON
In Lesson 10 we studied the beasts of Daniel and Revelation, as well as the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar about the giant statue and the tree that was cut down. You might want to go back and review that lesson now to get it fresh in your mind. One thing to note is that all those beasts BEGAN with Babylon.
Assyria was a powerful empire that controlled most of the Middle East until Babylon conquered it. But Assyria was not mentioned in ANY of these visions. They all begin with Babylon. That’s important. The beasts of Revelation are all Babylonian beasts! Those kingdoms all trace their ancestry to Babylon the great!
Babylon or Chaldea was the ancient seat of the Semiramis/Nimrod mystery religion. But it was utterly destroyed, leaving behind an empty city never to be inhabited again (Isaiah 14:22-23, Jeremiah 50:39-40). Yet God continued to use the names in prophecies clearly intended for the end times, so obviously He wasn’t referring to the rubble heap of ancient Babylon in Iraq, but the NEW seat of the powers of Babylon.
Babylon had two metaphorical children; the son (Isaiah 14:22) became the beast empires, with seven heads and ten horns. First the Medes, then the Greeks and finally the Romans became the successors to Babylon’s empire. Then the various heads of the beast were erected on the ruins of the Roman Empire in Europe, called the “Holy Roman Empire”.
But that was only part of Babylon’s power; for Babylon was also the seat of the Chaldean mystery religion, whose black-robed, celibate, tonsured priests moved to Rome and formed the basis for the Catholic Church – the great whore, daughter of Babylon! (Isaiah 47:1).
Both the son and daughter of Babylon moved to Rome initially. The daughter remained there to this day, while the son has moved through most of the countries in Europe during the Middle Ages, most often being ruled over, ridden, by his sister the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6, 18).
So when God speaks of Chaldea, Babylon, or the king of Babylon, it refers to the beast power in one or more of the resurrections of the Roman Empire – not necessarily, or usually, in Italy. But when God speaks of the daughter of Babylon, or Babylon in any religious sense, He is talking about the Vatican and the people whom she deceives.
Likewise when God spoke to the “beast”, He referred not to a specific nation, but to the military power that leads Europe under the great whore (Revelation 17:9). In medieval and renaissance history it was held by the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire.
This is why so many end-time prophecies speak of the destruction of the NEW Babylon, direct descendant of ancient Babylon, when once more the brother and sister work together to rule the world and conquer the sons of promise both literally (the Israelite nations), and spiritually (the saints).
One key scripture that proves that Babylon must first be resurrected before it is destroyed is Revelation 18:2. Notice the repetition; “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”. But God doesn’t stutter; if He repeated it, it must be because it falls twice!
Ancient Babylon fell in 539 BC; since then it has had many generations of beast children, but none of them have been worthy of the title “Babylon the Great”. None yet, that is. In Revelation 17, John’s vision digresses to talk about the Beast and Whore; Babylon’s children. The first verses talk about the whore, but we’re not interested in her at the moment; so start in verses 7-11.
Notice three times the phrase “the beast which was (did exist), and is not (does not exist), and yet is (shall exist)”. The plain explanation of this symbol is in verse 10; some fell, some exist, and some have not yet come into power.
See, Revelation was given to John in a series of visions; and these visions were snapshots of the world at a specific point in the future; his future. But some of them are now in our past. At the point John was seeing this vision in chapter 17, five heads of the resurrected Holy Roman Empire had fallen; one existed at that time; and one had not yet come.
Since the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century, it has been resurrected 6 times; on each of these heads, the woman – the Catholic Church – sat, ruling them, guiding them, and crowning their emperors. First Justinian, who wiped out the Vandals, Visigoths, and Heruli, which had been the first three heads of the beast after the fall of the Roman Empire. They were not Christian kingdoms, and they were plucked up by the roots (Daniel 7:8).
SEVEN HEADS/LAST SEVEN HORNS
Daniel 7 calls them horns, Revelation 17 calls them heads; but the symbols are clearly identical. Comparing the facts of history to the symbols of the Bible, we see that each of these heads were literal resurrections of the Roman Empire, where the founders of the dynasty assumed the title and/or name of Rome and her Emperor/Caesar. You can study up on each of them to verify these facts.
Head 1: Justinian was born in modern Macedonia, which at the time was part of the Byzantine Empire; and his stated goal in life was to resurrect the Roman Empire. He was loyal to the Church, and thus “ridden by the whore”. In time he died and his heirs carried on the kingdom for quite some time.
Head 2: Then in the year 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne with the Roman title of Emperor; he was a Frankish king, of Germanic ancestry who ruled over much of Western Europe. His kingdom persisted for a time, then fizzled.
Head 3: In 962 the title of Emperor was revived when the German king Otto I was crowned by Pope John XII as “Holy Roman Emperor”. His kingdom continued longest of all, with minor changes and controversy here and there but no major changes until:
Head 4: Charles V, a Spanish king of the Austrian house of Habsburg, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Clement VII in 1530. This constituted a major change in the balance of power in Europe, and effectively spread the Holy Roman Empire to include Latin (Roman!) America, as well as significant portions of the Far East and most of Europe.
Head 5: The next complete shift of power was when Napoleon was crowned Emperor by Pope Pius VII in 1804. Two years later the Hapsburg armies were defeated by Napoleon at Austerlitz and the Holy Roman Empire was formally dissolved in 1806, leaving Napoleon as the ruler of nearly all of Europe. Following many military failures, Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne in 1814.
“Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces, for himself and his heirs, the thrones of France and Italy” (Announcement of his abdication in Fontainebleau). While historians generally count the end of the Holy Roman Empire from 1806, Napoleon carried on the banner in spirit until 1814. This date is important because of Revelation 13:5.
That was the resurrected beast, who was given power for 42 months; 42x30=1260, and day-for-a-year means the beast would be given power for 1260 years. Justinian restored the Empire in 554. 1260 years later would have been 1814 – the year Napoleon renounced the position of Roman Emperor for himself and his children. What a fulfillment of prophecy!
Of course, Napoleon didn’t honor that oath, escaping a year later to lead, and lose, the battle of Waterloo; and his relatives attempted to restore the empire later and were finally vanquished in 1870; but none of them prospered after that day.
That was not intended to be the last head of the beast; but the end of 1260 years marked the final end of the dark ages; since then neither beast nor whore have ever wielded absolute power in the world, or even in Europe. No more inquisitions, no more civilization-wide oppressions in the name of false religion.
Head 6: In 1871, Kaiser (Caesar) Wilhelm was crowned Emperor over the formerly divided states of Germany in a new empire. In 1870-71, Garibaldi finished uniting the fractional states of Italy into a single kingdom.
Meanwhile Japan had been ruled by military generals called Shoguns for over 600 years, with only a figurehead emperor – vaguely analogous to the city-states that were united into Italy and Germany. But in 1868 there was what historians call an “imperial restoration” in Japan, with Emperor Meiji given real power again and the Shogunate abolished.
This imperial restoration “provided Japan a form of constitutional monarchy based on the Prusso-German model” (Wikipedia, article “Meiji constitution”). Notice where this imperial model came from! The Prussian/German model, which had for most of the past 1,000 years been the seat of the Holy Roman Empire – the resurrected beast!
Japan borrowed the model of their empire from Germany in 1868; Germany got it from Rome; Rome got it from Babylon; thus Japan, with Italy and Germany, became one of the heads of the beast as a spiritual descendant of Babylon! In addition, these three empires which formed at almost the same time became known as the Axis powers as they fought side-by-side in WW2 against the democratic Western powers.
So they, collectively, formed a single, contemporary head of the beast from 1870-1944 when they shared each others’ fate as the head of the beast was cut off by the Allies.
That brings us up to the present; there is some room for dispute about some of the heads, particularly around the time of Napoleon, but in general it cannot be argued. That in itself constitutes impressive proof that the Bible was inspired, for who could have predicted in the time of Daniel that three kingdoms would be plucked up by a small ecclesiastical kingdom, then the Roman Empire would be resurrected repeatedly in different nations? No other nation in history was resurrected in such a fashion.
Head 7: As recent lessons have shown, the power that will rise to once more threaten the peace of the world and carry on Babylon’s legacy must come from Europe, as all former heads have. We have watched over the last 70 years as Europe has gradually melded itself into a single entity.
Many believed it would never happen; especially when the Berlin wall was raised and the Iron Curtain was lowered. Yet the wall fell and the curtain tore, and here we are – the European Union is a reality. More and more national sovereignties are resigned to the EU each year by its member states, and the union grows stronger.
It does not currently seem warlike or aggressive. Maybe God was wrong about this head? Maybe THIS time the resurrected Roman Empire will be benevolent towards the sons of Jacob? Or... maybe it just isn’t time yet.
SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE SEVENTH BEAST
Before the next resurrection of such a warlike empire, the stage must be set. The economy of the empire must be prepared, the population must be available, the technology must be advanced. Backwards, poor, depopulated countries do not attack such nations as the USA and UK.
But that has happened, and is continuing to grow; Europe has the means, or soon will, to take on any country – especially if it chooses the right allies. Another thing that has to happen is the emotional stage must be set; the people who will be fighting must be taught that their cause is just, that the enemy is evil and deserves to die, and that killing him will improve their own lives.
This too, has happened. The USA and UK have stuck their nose into world affairs they had no business meddling in, toppling governments and installing puppets. The search for imaginary WMD’s and treatment of all foreigners as probable terrorists has made the USA hated by most of the world. Our shaky economy has caused the collapse of the economy around the world; and we carry ourselves as the guardians of human rights, while violating them domestically and abroad. In short, we are giving the world reasons to hate us.
And we are appearing weak; debt crises and nationwide obesity and sickness of every sort; droughts and crop failures, political scandals and military failures; and at the same time, our personal comforts, even compared to the prosperous countries of Europe, make us the envy of the world.
These are recipes for invasion. And sooner or later all the nations we’ve trampled, offended, and robbed will realize we are ripe for the picking; and when that happens, the beast will be there to lead them.
THE EIGHTH BEAST
In all the human interpretations of prophecy that I’ve read, the eighth beast has always been ignored. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the view of prophecy the person was teaching, so it was just passed over altogether. Yet this is the most important beast of all! Turn to Revelation 17:8-10 again; this time let’s go through it slowly.
Verse 8 talks about a beast that “was, and is not”. This beast existed once, but does not exist at the time of this prophecy. Given Biblical dualism, it probably did not exist at the time the prophecy was given or the time it was intended to be understood. Later in the same verse, it is called “the beast that was (did exist), and is not (does not exist) and yet is”.
This last clause “and yet is”, has translators confused. Because of the context, many translate it as “shall be” or “is yet to come”. But the YLT renders it “beholding the beast that was, and is not, although it is.”
This literal reading implies something different altogether; that it DID exist; that it does not exist; and yet that it DOES exist in some form. We know the original beast was Babylon; which DID exist (was). We know that Babylon does not exist today (is not). Yet we know that Babylon DOES exist, as a resurrected empire! (and yet is).
Bear that in mind, it will make more sense in a moment. In verses 9-10 the angel explains that the woman sits on seven kingdoms, and this prophecy is set in the time when five of those kings have fallen, and one exists, and one has not yet come; so this vision is of the time of the 6th beast, or 1870-1945.
But now in verse 11 we get to the fascinating part; this verse says that “the beast that was, and is not” from verse 8 is the EIGHTH beast! And that this eighth beast grows out of the seven other beasts! Keep reading now in verse 12, and skip ahead and compare that to the angel’s explanation of this symbol in verse 16. These ten horns are upon the eighth beast, NOT the seventh!
And it is this eighth beast that is in power at the battle of Armageddon, and goes to make war with Jesus and the resurrected saints which ride out of heaven in Revelation 19:11-15 (compare to Revelation 17:14).
DESTRUCTION OF THE WHORE
But what’s more, the ten horns – ten kingdoms which give their power to the eighth beast – hate the whore! Remember, ALL the former heads of the beast LOVED the whore! She rode them, guided them, crowned their leaders, and they fought and died for her!
But this eighth beast is different, for the ten kings who give him their power hate the whore! Note that it doesn’t say the beast hates the whore, but that the ten kings who pledge him their allegiance hate the whore. But they are not necessarily a part of his kingdom. And it is those ten kings who destroy the whore (verse 16).
It is difficult to imagine ten kingdoms in Europe hating the whore enough to “burn her flesh with fire”. Too many nations in Europe are Catholic/Greek/Russian Orthodox, or at least nominally Christian, to ever hate the whore.
Also, the woman sits on seven heads; which means that, in the seventh head still in our future, the Catholic Church must be a part of it. So this seventh kingdom that combines the church and state of resurrected Babylon one last time must be destroyed by the “ten kings” of the eighth beast.
Since it is unlikely that the ten kings are European because they hate the whore, it seems most likely that they are part of the king of the South, the Muslim world, who “pushes” at the Pope in the time of the end (Daniel 11:40); then the king of the North retaliates.
The king of the North must be the eighth beast, for he is the one who gathers together for the battle of Armageddon, just as the eighth beast does; likewise, the king of the north must be Germany/Assyria for Isaiah 30:30-31 tells us that it is through the voice of God – the word of God – that the Assyrian shall be beaten down.
This fits well with Revelation’s description of the armies of the beast being destroyed “with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth” (Revelation 19:21). Compare that to Hebrews 4:12.
THE TEN HORNS OF THE EIGHTH BEAST
Back to Revelation 17:16-17, notice that God “put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
This is curious, because it means that God has to specifically PUT it in their hearts to get these ten kings to agree to work with the eighth beast. This strongly implies that, ordinarily, they would not be allies!
Also, it tells us that this alliance only lasts “until the words of God shall be fulfilled” – in other words, these ten kings are not a permanent part of the beast kingdom. They only work together with him to destroy “that great city”, and then... it doesn’t say. Here.
But who is it that destroys “that great city”? Read Isaiah 13:1, 16-19. The Medes – another one of the Muslim countries – are being used to punish Babylon. This happened once before in 539 BC, and it must happen again to the modern Babylon. The beast and whore together – Babylon – must be punished by the king of the South.
So this pictures the king of the South “pushing” at him. Why? Verse 17 specifically says it is not about silver or gold – their war is motivated by something else! They are killing young and old, and destroying the homes. This isn’t about territory, money, or things... it’s about RELIGION! Because they hate the whore!
Now back to Revelation 18:1-8, we see the story picks up about the time of the transition between the 7th and 8th beasts. Something that always struck me as odd was the story in verses 9-11, 15-21. Most people assume this happens just when Christ comes back; but if that were true, the “merchants” would have bigger problems than people not buying their goods.
If this was a scene of Jesus’ return, the merchants (“rich men”) would be praying for the rocks to fall on them (Revelation 6:15-16), they would hardly have time to be mourning Babylon! Which means Babylon must have been destroyed BEFORE that day comes!
And as it happens, we know for certain that Babylon will be destroyed by the Medes/Muslims! Babylon’s destruction comes, not from fire from heaven or the armies of Jesus, but from the armies of the ten kings allied with the eighth beast who hate the whore!
DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON
But we must reconcile the attack on Babylon by the Medes, clearly stated in prophecy, with another prophecy that says Babylon is going to be attacked by nations out of the North, according to Jeremiah 50:1-9. Compare that to Revelation 18:2-8, Jeremiah 51:5-9 and Isaiah 52:9-12.
These passages add to each other and describe the same judgment of idolatrous Babylon. And Jeremiah 50:41-42 tells us who will do the attacking – the king of the North, a cruel nation that loves war. Who else! Why not use the rod of God’s anger to punish the greatest sin in history, that of Babylon?
Jeremiah 50:42 made it clear that we are talking about the daughter of Babylon, that is, the church of Babylon – in Lesson 12, you learned that was Catholicism. Then connect verse 46 to Revelation 18:9-10, 16-24, then back to Jeremiah 51:41-48. And compare Jeremiah 51:63-64 to Revelation 18:21, and Jeremiah 51:13 to Revelation 17:1. Obviously these all prophesy of the same events, just adding and omitting details.
The conclusion is clear, that it is the king of the North who destroys Babylon. It is not destroyed by Jesus at His return, for after its destruction by the king of the North, merchants and other men stand off and weep for her (Revelation 18:15).
MEDES AND BABYLON
But in the same chapter, we have evidence that God raises up the king of the Medes against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:11, 27-28). This happened once in history already, but we’re looking for a duality. The Medes were closely related to their allies in the Medo-Persian Empire, and were mostly absorbed into that empire in the later stages of the empire and disappear from history. Precisely as was prophesied in Daniel 8:3, 20.
The Ram was the Achaemenid empire (under Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes, etc.). The two horns were the two governments, Medes and Persians, and the Medes were more powerful at first but disappeared towards the end of the empire. The Persians likely became the modern Iranians/Afghans, and there is some evidence that the Medes might be the Kurds of NW Iran and SE Turkey.
These are devout Muslim countries today, and could easily be classed together with Egypt and the other nations of the “king of the South”. If so, it gives us yet another reason to believe the Muslim world has a major role to play in destroying Babylon as well, just as they did in history, but while they attack “like waves of the sea” and “burn her flesh with fire”, they do not deliver the death blow. That is for the king of the North – the eighth beast – to do.
And when Babylon finally is destroyed, according to Jeremiah 51:26, not a stone shall be used again. Looking past the obvious meaning, what does a stone represent in the Bible? Ephesians 2:20. Who is the rock? 1 Corinthians 10:4. Are there both true and false “rocks”? Deuteronomy 32:31.
The Protestants did not destroy Catholicism. They borrowed “stones” from her to build their religion upon. They borrowed from her doctrines, her saints, and her images, to built their churches. They did not build their religion on Jesus and the Apostles, but on Simon Magus and the Catholic saints.
But when the great whore is destroyed next time, she will be destroyed utterly – not a stone, literal or figurative, of hers will be used ever again. We will completely destroy the false doctrines of Babylon, and not a hint of her mysteries will ever be mentioned again.
There are a lot of scriptures to sift through, and a lot of information to process. I may have put pieces of it together wrong. When you compare it to how much time I’ve spent working on the law or the rest of the Bible, I haven’t even spent a significant fraction of my time studying prophecy... because I really don’t like prophecy all that much.
Sure, prophecy has its place and I don’t second-guess God for devoting so much of the Bible to talking about it, but it doesn’t interest me. I don’t fear the upheavals coming in the world, nor do I look forward to witnessing the suffering of the wicked. I look for it to pass as quickly as possible while I sleep it out in a remote cave. I probably won’t get my way, but that’s what I want. So prophecy holds little fascination for me.
That said, the high points of prophecy are hard to miss and a certain succession of events is extremely probable. Assuming we have pasted the right “heads” onto the right historical nations, and assuming the many conclusions we’ve drawn in the past few lessons are mostly right, the sequence of events must be something along these lines:
The EU grows and absorbs all of Europe in a much tighter grip, with Germany as the head, but not the despotic head (the seventh beast). The US economy collapses, sending much of the world into a spiral, and for this or some other reason the US, UK, and their allies wind up in a major war, probably against Europe.
It loses the war catastrophically and is occupied by the enemy, many killed and many deported and many more captives in their own land. All Israelite nations around the world, such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, NW Europe, etc., will share in the punishment in proportion as they have shared in the blessings.
The EU, rich on the spoils of war, tries to catch its balance. Germany, feeling that its technology, soldiers, and economy contributed the lion’s share of the war effort, resents seeing the spoils and credit divided up among the “lazy” nations of Europe and feels that it should be absolute head.
Through some international intrigue, Germany manages to secure ten nations, at least several of them from the Middle East, to help conquer Europe. In the process of the war, Rome is completely destroyed and Germany proves that it was right – it didn’t need the rest of Europe. It now becomes the eighth beast.
Now the ten kings realize that they have created a monster, the alliances break down and Germany winds up at war with the king of the South. It wins many battles, chasing down across the Middle East as far as Egypt and Ethiopia, when the rest of the world which has mostly kept out of the war until now realizes that if Germany isn’t stopped, it will rule the entire world – just like the last great war, their goal will be “today Europe, tomorrow the world!”
The nations of the BRICS alliance – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the non-Israelite portion of South Africa – will have been relatively unaffected by the wars in the western hemisphere, and will realize their own prosperity as they are the manufacturing and mining centers of the world. They really don’t need the West, and once the dollar disappears they will realize that. It’s already happening today.
So while the beast’s armies are committed to the Middle East, Russia, China, India, and anyone who is left of the Arab states will put together a massive army such as the world has never before seen, and march to the greatest battle in world history. The news of this gathering will make the eighth beast pause in his advance into Africa, and return to meet them somewhere between the Euphrates and the modern-day state of Israel. The Bible tells us where, but I’m not confident that I know.
Somewhere during this time the saints are gathered/resurrected, attend the wedding supper, are approved by the Father, return out of heaven with Jesus to destroy the armies of the beast, bind Satan, and establish the Millennium.
That, in a nutshell, is how I see the next 15-30 years unfolding. I may be wildly inaccurate about just about all of it. But whenever it happens, however it happens, these prophecies will be fulfilled and in retrospect will be as obvious as the resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire are to us.
This will fit most of the Bible’s prophecies without much stretching or forcing; and it is also a plausible extrapolation of the current state of world politics and economics.
Now that we understand there is a change between the 7th beast who captures the Israelite nations, and the 8th beast who conquers the 7th, scriptures like Isaiah 14:29-32 fit into the framework very smoothly.
God is talking to Palestine, which is from the Hebrew word peleset, sometimes translated as “Philistia”, which means “land of sojourners” and was used by classical geographers to refer to the same general area we call Palestine today. In both senses, it can only refer to Israel and Judah as they are scattered today, and more particularly after the coming captivity, when they will be “sojourning” in strangers’ lands (Ezekiel 20:38).
These Israelite captives will be rejoicing because the Assyrian power was broken (Isaiah 14:29, 25). Clearly this is after the Israelite nations are defeated in our future. Naturally, they would be rejoicing when the 7th beast who conquered them was defeated, anticipating their release and probably figuring that any change would be for the better.
But God tells them not to rejoice yet, for out of the serpent’s root (the offspring of the 7th beast) shall come forth a cockatrice (poisonous snake), and it will become a “fiery flying serpent”. This hearkens back to scriptures like Numbers 21:6, and the meaning is debatable; but in context the metaphor is clear; they escape the 7th beast, and get one much worse in exchange.
Isaiah 14:31 again mentions destruction coming “from the north”, which will “slay thy remnant”, which we have connected many times to Assyria. Remember from a few lessons past that some scriptures say one-third will survive the destruction of Israel; but many others say only one-tenth will. This scripture helps to explain the difference – 33% survive the initial collapse, but by the end another 23% of the total population dies in captivity or by the actions of the eighth beast.
The Bible is an enormous, multi-layered jigsaw puzzle. Most of the pieces come out of the “box” individually, and must be assembled from scratch. But occasionally you get a piece that comes out of the box from the factory with 4 or 5 tiles already stuck together. In the Bible, these represent places like Exodus 20, 2 Peter 1:5-7, Matthew 24 and so on; places that have a lot of pieces already assembled in their proper place.
One such place is Zechariah 6. Go ahead and read it before we talk about it. In verse 1, we see four chariots. The comparison to the four horsemen of Revelation 6 is obvious, but at the same time untrustworthy; superficially yes, both have four horse-related things... but they don’t seem to describe the same events, nor are the horses the same color, and one is chariots not horses.
This is a classic example of a false bridge, putting together two prophecies that aren’t really connected at all. And the great danger of interpreting prophecies too loosely. On the other hand, look at the symbols that we CAN connect quite strongly in verse one; we have mountains – kingdoms – and brass. What does a mountain of brass represent? Daniel 2:39.
This brass kingdom we know for certain to represent the Medes and Persians – i.e., the Middle East/Muslims. Also, we know this kingdom was split then by these two factions, which is why there are TWO mountains; today, the Muslim world is divided between the Sunni (88%) and Shia (11%) denominations, which get along about as well as Catholics and Protestants do.
So four chariots come out from between two brass mountains; that should mean that four Muslim armies, generals, or states go to war. Each horse did something different, in verses 2-3 the horses are differentiated by color (and most of the colors do not match the ones in Revelation, nor does the order).
In verses 4-5 it says that these are four spirits which go forth from standing before God’s throne. Knowing from Lesson 24 that spirits lead nations, parts of nations, and cities, these are clearly four spirits which inspire the Muslim world to go to war against various places.
For some reason, it doesn’t say where the red horses go in this chapter. In the explanation in verses 6-7, the second and third chariots, the black and white, go one at a time toward the north country – i.e., to attack the EU/Babylon/7th head “like waves” (Jeremiah 51:42).
The fourth chariot has grisled and bay horses. “Grisled” probably means “spotted” and they went towards the south country; perhaps as a reinforcement? Or to attack some European-held part of Africa? Oddly, from the same chariot, the bay horses seemed to go “to and fro through the earth”.
Now go back to Zechariah 1:7-11. Here Zechariah is given the explanation for those bay horses, and the grisled/speckled and white are also there, although the grisled are called by a different word here. Regardless, the red horses which were not mentioned in chapter 6 are mentioned here, along with the grisled and bay who went to the south, and the white horse who went to the north.
These, according to the angel, were all sent to walk to and fro through the Earth. And, apparently because of their actions, all the earth is quiet, and at rest. In other words, these particular angels have helped to bring about “peace and safety”, at God’s command, so that the other angels/chariots can bring sudden destruction upon the world – and Babylon in particular! (Isaiah 21:9)
The context of these statements is about the destruction of Jerusalem and Zion – the punished Israelite nations of our future. Zechariah 1:12-15. After the destruction of Israel, the 7th beast naturally rejoices. And it oppresses the captives. Both of these things annoy God – they should listen to Proverbs 24:17-18.
And after Israel is defeated, the world must live at peace for a short while, because somehow it “sits still, and is at rest” before the 8th beast rises out of the 7th. The peace of the heathen, once Israel has been punished enough, begins to anger God, according to Zechariah 1:15.
As Isaiah 10:5-16 shows, the beast takes his job of punishing Israel way too far, and decides to go on and conquer the entire world. So God determines the beast’s own destruction at the hand of his offspring, the 8th beast.
On that subject, read Zechariah 6:8. This is just another bridge text that tells us that God’s spirit is “disquieted” – He is upset – against the “north country”. How does God “comfort” Himself in this sort of situation? Ezekiel 5:13.
He considers punishing the wicked something that “eases” His mind (Isaiah 1:24-25, Leviticus 26:25). So, the two wars from the king of the South to the king of the North “quiet” God’s spirit – they avenge the quarrel God had with Assyria for being overzealous with punishing Israel.
That is, until they rise again to try to dominate the world. Then there is the final day of God’s vengeance against all mankind: Jeremiah 46:10. Now compare that to a nearly identical story in Isaiah 34:5, not to mention the parallel versions you already know from Revelation, and you can conclude that the climactic battle of Armageddon cannot happen in the plains of Megiddo.
Back in Zechariah 1:18-21, God continues His practice of telling the same story over and over again, each time in a slightly different way or with different symbols and details. Horns represent divisions of a kingdom; this tells us that four kingdoms with a common heritage or power source take part in the destruction of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem.
In Zechariah 2:6-12, after promising of the return of the remnant of the Israelite nations He cast out, He tells Zion who dwells with the daughter of Babylon to “deliver thyself”. Zion usually, if not always, refers exclusively to the true church/the saints.
The daughter of Babylon always refers to Catholicism of course, and so this is almost a word-for-word copy of Revelation 18:4! Isn’t it amazing how, when you really understand the symbols God uses, all the scriptures wind up referencing each other?
The next chapters talk about the seven spirits of God which we discussed extensively in Lesson 24, and about the two witnesses whom I’m not prepared to explain, but whom I suspect [speculation alert!] represent, among many other things, the two righteous angels, Gabriel and Michael, and perhaps/probably two literal men whom they stand by to “confirm and strengthen” (Daniel 11:1).
Zechariah 5:5-11 is interesting because it discusses the great whore in a rather unique way. Lead is a counterfeit of gold in many ways, both being heavy and soft, but one being worthless and the other being valuable. If gold represents the saints (Lamentations 4:2, 1 Peter 1:7, Job 23:10, etc.), then lead would represent the false saints/false church.
An ephah was, for the sake of the story, like a bushel basket. The angel says this is “their resemblance through all the Earth”. The context (Zechariah 5:3-4) is about the wicked. Then the false church, pictured as lead, was thrown in the basket.
Then two women – two churches – lifted the basket up and carried it to Shinar. The plains of Shinar is where the tower of Babel was built, and it was also “lifted up between the Earth and the heaven”. There, the angel said, it would be established and set on its own base! In other words, Babylon would be re-stablished on its own foundations!
Literal Babylon was never to be rebuilt; but it was intended to be restored as Babylon the Great; not one of the paltry resurrections of a self-styled Holy Roman Emperor, but something worthy of the “head of gold” in Nebuchadnezzar’s image. Something truly glorious, in an evil-sort-of-way.
With all that context, we arrive back at Zechariah 6. From chapter 1, we now know that the red horses went out first, and proclaimed world peace; peace and safety. Then came two wars from the Muslims, between them and the EU. Then came another war back toward the south.
In this context, perhaps this refers, not to a Muslim attack south, but to the king of the North reattacking the king of the South after he had “pushed at him”? If true, this could fit into our framework as the Muslims attacking and helping the 8th beast destroy the 7th; then the Muslims attacking the 8th beast in fear of the monster they helped create; then the king of the North retaliating in great fury (back to Daniel 11:40 again).
Then another brief period of peace, then the final war of Armageddon? I don’t know. This would fit the facts of other scriptures, but some points of it are weaker than I like. Regardless, this lesson really isn’t meant to read like “future history”, that is, a point-by-point outline of future headlines.
Like all the lessons, this is not meant to give you all the answers, but rather to show you how to understand it for yourself. Going through Zechariah this way shows you how to do it; I can’t do it for you. That’s why you have a Bible, a brain, and hopefully – the spirit of God.
THE RESURRECTION OF BABYLON
In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar had a vision which naturally came true; in short, he was to lose his kingdom and eat grass for 7 years to humble him. And he was indeed humbled, and after the 7 years his kingdom was restored to him.
Assuming that this was not a story God gave us just to put in children’s books, then it was prophetic; applicable not just to Nebuchadnezzar himself, but to Nebuchadnezzar as the golden head of the beast empires of the world.
Read all of Daniel 4 first, then settle in on verses 13-15, 23-26. This was certainly an angel, probably the angel in charge of Babylon. And this tree, interpreted later as Nebuchadnezzar, was to be cut down, but a stump was to be left alive. But to keep it from sprouting again, it was to be bound with iron and brass.
At the end of the “seven times”, the kingdom would be restored to him as good as new, in fact better than ever according to verse 36. So how long precisely was he “as a beast”? Seven times. Almost certainly this represents seven years, but are they literal years or prophetic years?
Elsewhere in the Bible, “times” represents a period of 360 days, which is neither a solar nor a lunar year, but is a rough average of the two; we know this because of various prophecies which equate 1260 days, 42 months, “time, times, and half a time”, and so on. Yet 42 TRUE months (42 lunar orbits of the Earth) do not add up to 1260 days, but about 1240.28 days.
You’ll learn more about this in a lesson very soon, but suffice it to say that in the Hebrew portion of the Bible God always uses “idealized” months of 30 days each, and “idealized” years of 360 days each, when it’s referring to prophetic events. However, this may be different because this describes a specific, physical event lasting until seven times are fulfilled.
For seven times to be fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar in the prophetic sense would require 2520 days. Yet for seven full years to have passed over Nebuchadnezzar, to bring him back to the exact same point in the year, would require 2556.79 days.
I personally favor this second interpretation, because if I were a Babylonian, and was told that “seven times/years” would be completed, I would expect to arrive back sane at the same time of the year I left it; if the 2520 day interpretation were true, then supposing I went crazy April 1st (yes, irony), I would regain my sanity seven years later on February 23rd – 37 days earlier in the year. To me, this seems sloppy, but God may have had good reason for doing it.
Regardless, based on the symbolism elsewhere in Daniel, we know that brass represented the Greeks and iron represented the Roman Empire. These “bands” would prevent a resurgence of Babylonian power until “seven times” passed over him.
We know that Babylon the great “is fallen, is fallen” – that is, it must fall twice. For that, there must be an intervening period between the fall of the first one and the rise of the second one. The first one fell in 539 BC.
Does it not follow that the second one would rise to power after exactly seven times pass over it? Seven times during which the Babylonian beast power was held in check by the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire or its resurrections; themselves offspring of the beast, but not the true glory of Babylon.
If this is true, and there are some conclusions and assumptions involved, but if this is correct, then after 2520/2557 years pass over a stump of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, “the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.”
539 BC + 2520 years for the stump of Babylon ended in 1982. Nothing notable happened.
539 BC + 2557 years for the stump of Babylon will end in 2019, give or take a year. This interpretation predicts that power and glory will suddenly be given to Babylon; perhaps it will, or perhaps this is all wrong. We’ll find out.
This is not the date of Jesus’ return; this is just a plausible date for the beginning of the New Babylon which is destroyed before His return.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
So in and amongst all of this turmoil, the world quite literally falling to pieces around us, what should you do? Stock up on gold and silver, beans and water? Ezekiel 7:19. Three key scriptures come to mind, all of which dovetail into one obvious solution; read them and see what that is: Luke 21:20-28, Jeremiah 38:2, and Jeremiah 5:12-13.
These have three basic conclusions in them; that when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you should flee “to the mountains”. What are mountains in Biblical symbolism? A powerful kingdom (Daniel 2:44-45). Therefore, interpreted, Jesus said “flee to the kingdoms”, when we see “Jerusalem” surrounded.
The real Jerusalem was destroyed by the 4th beast of Daniel, Rome itself; the spiritual/symbolic Jerusalem will be surrounded by the resurrected 7th head of the Roman empire. The point of the passage was clearly to warn the saints in the end times to flee when the place they lived was surrounded by the armies of the beast.
The second conclusion is that when your city/nation/home is surrounded by the beast of Babylon, what should you do? Stock up on ammo so you can defend your sovereign home to your dying breath? Join the army and fight for “democracy”? Or surrender to Babylon/the Chaldeans and you shall “receive your life”?
Having more than a week’s supply of food in the house is just plain good sense. On the other hand, stocking up on a 5 year supply of food so that “when the beast comes, YOU won’t be hungry”, stocking up on guns and ammo to defend your hoard against roving gangs, defiantly resisting the beast that God has sent to punish your country is resisting the will of God, and therefore God Himself (Romans 13:2).
The third conclusion is that the world will be saying “where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4) right up until He comes back. The signs that foretell His coming will be explained away, and the prophets will be prophesying peace until the last moment. But one of these days, He will not delay His coming any longer (Ezekiel 12:22-28).
Most of the world has the attitude Jesus is never coming back; at least, no time soon. On the other side are those people obsessed with prophecy who have everyone who will listen to them convinced that He could return at any moment. I know people who have firmly believed Jesus was returning in “3-5 years” for over 40 years!
And that simply can’t happen. It won’t be 5 years. Or 10. There are certain things that absolutely must happen before Jesus returns, quite a few of them, which have not even begun to happen. These things will take time. Jesus won’t return tomorrow. Nor will He return in 3-5 years. But He will return, right on schedule.
The world won’t see it coming. They will be getting married and going to work and planning for the future, right up until the moment that the heavens part like a scroll and Jesus rides back on a white horse (Matthew 24:38-39).
The signs that Jesus told us would happen before His return will happen; but only those “with ears to hear” will notice them. Everyone else will be in darkness until it’s far, far too late. It’s not our job to watch world events for signs of His coming; it’s our job to watch OURSELVES that we may be counted worthy to ESCAPE what happens before His return (Luke 21:36).
As previous lessons have shown, we personally, if we are among the called and chosen of God, have nothing to fear, no matter where we are; “yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4) – and yea, we probably will.
Look at Jeremiah – he knew exactly how to save his life easily; surrender to Babylon and get out of town (Jeremiah 21:9). But he stayed there to warn others about how to save THEIR lives, and look at the suffering he endured in the process.
If God decides that we should escape the trials of our fellow citizens, a way will open for us to escape; we won’t need to haste or struggle, it will just happen (Isaiah 52:10-12, Psalms 27:5). If not, we may wind up doing something like Jeremiah did; or experience any of the other things that the world loves to do to prophets (Hebrews 11:32-40).
Some saints will not survive (Revelation 6:11, Revelation 12:11). Some saints will (Luke 21:36). It really shouldn’t matter that much to you (Mark 8:35). Israel must be corrected. The world will be punished; Babylon shall be destroyed. These things are bigger than us.
Your own part in it may be minor, or great; you may be a general, or a sergeant, or the guy who trips over his shoelaces and shoots himself on the way to the battle. But unless I grossly misunderstand prophecy, you WILL play a part in it.
And you should feel about that part as Jeremiah did when people demanded to know where the fulfillment of His prophecies were, and when they would come to pass:
Jeremiah 17:15-17 (GWV) People keep asking me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come.” I have not run away from being your shepherd, and I have not longed for the day of destruction. You know what came out of my mouth. Do not terrorize me. You are my refuge on the day of disaster.