The Christian History of the Four Beast Empires--Part 2
Apr 13, 2013
I am using the term “Christian” loosely in this series, partly because technically there were no “Christians” prior to the coming of Christ, and also because I do not want to confuse the Christian religion with the true believers.
Many people use the term “Christian” as if it were synonymous with an organized church or denomination on earth, as if to say that no one can be a true believer without membership in some particular organization. To me, of course, the true Church is composed of all who have faith in Christ.
In a broader sense, however, I believe there are people of faith who do not yet know the name of the One that they worship. This was the case throughout the Old Testament as well, where Abraham knew the Creator by the name El Shaddai, and Moses later knew Him as Yahweh. In the New Testament the Creator took the form of man under the name of Yeshua (Jesus), but until that time, few believers (if any) knew Him by that name.
Paul discusses this question in Romans 2:15, telling us that the nations (ethnos) often “show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness.” These will be judged according to their knowledge and revelation of Him, which means that God does not hold people accountable for things that they could not possibly know.
Many, then, know of the Creator but do not know the name(s) by which He revealed Himself in Scripture. Likewise, to varying degrees, we are all ignorant of who He is insofar as His character, will, and plan is concerned. To some degree, we all worship the Unknown God, for no one knows Him fully at this point.
Paul’s encounter in Acts 17 with the Greek philosophers is a good case to study, for in verse 23 he took note how they were worshiping “The Unknown God.” Paul did not castigate them for this, but offered to help them get to know this God better. He did not condemn them as idolaters worshiping false gods, but revealed to them the name of the God that they desired to worship. In this way they might learn of the life of Christ and what He accomplished for mankind on the cross and by His resurrection and ascension.
In Acts 17:28 Paul even quoted one of their own poets with respect, who had said, “For we also are His offspring.” This was a quotation from Aratus of Cilicia (about 270 BC), who had written a treatise called Phenomena. We learn this from Clement of Alexandria, whose second-century commentary mentioned Paul’s encounter in Stromata, Bk. 1, par. 19,
“Whence it is evident that the apostle, by availing himself of poetical examples from the Phenomena of Aratus, approves of what had been well spoken by the Greeks; and intimates that, by the unknown God, God the Creator was in a roundabout way worshipped by the Greeks; but that it was necessary by positive knowledge to apprehend and learn Him by the Son.”
Paul chose to enlighten them on the things that they did not know about the God that they were attempting to worship. Jesus Christ is the only Door through whom we may enter God’s presence. However, one does not necessarily need to know Him by that name Jesus. God looks at the heart and often sees faith, even during their time of ignorance.
And so, when I speak of the beast nations becoming Christian, I do not mean to imply that they join a denomination that calls itself Christian. In this context I am speaking of the fact that their kings receive some divine revelation of who the Creator is. In the case of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, he received the revelation of God’s sovereignty. His final declaration in Daniel 4 recognized that he himself was subordinate to the God of Heaven—even though he did not know the name of that God.
This revelation was necessary, because Babylon was the head of gold. This “head” was trying to assert its sovereignty, but God showed the king who was the true Head of all nations and of creation itself.
The second beast nation, Medo-Persia, was represented by the arms of silver. The Persian king learned a different lesson, because it was functioning as a different part of the body (image). As “arms,” Medo-Persia thought that its works were governed by the king. That is what arms do. So God gave them revelation that the living God is sovereign in all His works (Daniel 6:27).
The story in Daniel 6 tells us that certain men were jealous of Daniel but could not find a valid reason to accuse him. So they devised a plan by which they would induce the king to sign a decree saying that no man could petition any man or god for thirty days, other than petitioning the king himself. The king was flattered. He was the only one who could “do” anything for anyone, and this emphasized his role as the “arms of silver.”
Medo-Persia had a Constitutional Monarchy in those days. In other words, once a law was signed and sealed, the king himself was subject to his own law. This differed from the earlier Babylonian government, which was an Absolute Monarchy. With Babylon, the king was the law, and he could decree or repeal laws he wished. But Medo-Persia was different, in that the king was bound by his own law. Hence, the conspirators asked the king to sign this decree, saying in Daniel 6:8,
8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed [amended], according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.
The conspirators then waited for Daniel to pray as usual. When he did, they complained to King Darius that Daniel had violated the law. Only then did the Persian king realize that he had been duped, but he was helpless to save Daniel. Because this was “a nation of laws,” the king’s arms of silver were helpless to do what he wanted them to do. The law bound his arms.
So the king was forced to cast Daniel into the lions’ den overnight. This put the king into a position where he was forced to watch what God could do. Psalm 89:13 says, “Thou hast a strong arm.” And indeed, the arm of the Lord delivered Daniel, even as His arm had redeemed Israel from Egypt (Deuteronomy 26:8).
The next morning, after a sleepless night, the king discovered that Daniel was still alive. Daniel was brought up from the den, and his political opponents replaced him. The lions had been deprived of their dinner but were given a substantial breakfast. Then the king made a new decree—a law that could not be revoked or amended. Daniel 6 says,
25 Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language who were living in all the land:
“May your peace abound! 26 I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever. 27 He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
This decree recognized the God of Daniel, known as Yahweh in the Old Testament, and Yeshua-Jesus in the New Testament. “He is the living God,” Darius confessed, and he put it in writing in the form of a decree which could not be revoked or amended.
Hence, that decree is still in force today. Persia is now called Iran. By law, Iran is a Christian nation, because the decree of Darius cannot be revoked. The irrevocable nature of the decree was proven by the fact that the king had no choice but to cast Daniel into the lions’ den. Even the king could not revoke his own decree. So the second decree of Darius is yet in force today.
God thus proved Himself capable of doing what no man could do. The arm of God is strong. Even though silver is a very strong metal, the Medo-Persian arms of silver will fail in the end. Hence, God shows Himself to be not only the true Head of State, but in Him is also the strength of law. His arm is capable of delivering men even from an irrevocable law.
Today we see a new set of kings from the east. These new kings have been given the role of the arms of silver. Whereas by law Iran is a Christian nation, prophecy has given China and Russia leading roles in the new manifestation of the arms of silver. Both nations have persecuted its Daniels in the past century. But God has delivered them out of the mouths of the lions and has made those believers strong in faith.
God is revealing Himself to the modern arms of silver, showing off His biceps and triceps to them. And because they are the prophetic successors of the arms of silver, they too are Christian nations, whether they know it or not. It is only a matter of time before the God of Daniel is revealed to them through the mighty works of God in their midst.
This is the second part of a series titled "The Christian History of the Four Beast Empires." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones