By Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer.. When did the ‘times of the Gentiles’ begin? Some say it was when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. Since that time, Israel has never been totally independent. One kingdom after another has overrun it. It became part of some greater political power. Of course, there was this smaller, second Temple built in Jerusalem when a remnant of the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile, but Israel remained to be a part or a province of a much larger Empire. Sometimes it enjoyed limited autonomy, and it was even sometimes moderately independent, but never again it was as powerful and independent as in the days of King David and King Solomon.
Daniel, the prophet at the court of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, was allowed by the Lord to tell the king his dream and to interpret the king’s dream for him. The king had dreamed of a statue with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet that were partly of iron and partly of a mixture of iron and clay. He saw a stone roll down and strike the statue, pulverizing it completely. But the stone grew into a great mountain that filled the whole earth.
Daniel says about the head of gold, the chest and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of copper, the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay-like lime (probably baked clay, porcelain, that splinters into thousands of pieces if shattered) “…The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces […broken to pieces together, KJV…were crushed together, NKJV] and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth…” (Daniel 2:32-35)
Daniel explained that the different parts of the statue represented four or five successive kingdoms (the last kingdom being in a sense an extension or continuation of the fourth one). The golden head is interpreted as the Babylonian kingdom; the silver breast and arms as the empire of the Medes and Persians; and the belly and thighs of bronze represent the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. The legs of iron represent the Roman Empire, which divided into the two legs of the Eastern and Western Empires, followed by the feet of iron and clay. The fifth and last kingdom appears to be a revival of the Roman Empire on a worldwide scale. In subsequent visions, more details were revealed to Daniel. Babylon, the golden head, is represented by a winged lion. The Medes and the Persians (the silver breast and arms) are seen as a bear with three ribs in its mouth (possibly representing Syria, Babylon, and Egypt, which it ‘devoured’). The Greek–Macedonian kingdom (the bronze belly) is seen as a leopard with four wings and four heads, representing the fact that after the death of the Greek Alexander the Great his empire was divided into four kingdoms – Egypt, Syria, Macedonia, and Asia Minor – ruled by four of his generals. The fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire (the iron legs and feet) is seen as a monstrous beast with ten horns, from which a small horn (‘anti-Christ’?) emerges which takes over the whole earth, Daniel 7.
All these Empires had their main characteristics.
In the Babylonian Empire King Nebuchadnezzar had absolute power. He was an absolute dictator. He was not dependent upon a parliament, or judicial law, or the staff of generals of his army. His word was law and he decided about life and death. Absolute dictatorship.
The main characteristic of the Empire of the Medes and Persians was absolute laws. Once a law was issued that all the Jews in the entire Empire were to be massacred at a certain date. Then Queen Esther comes before King Ahasuerus of the Medes and the Persians trembling all over and says: “I am Jewish too, so I will be killed as well.” Suddenly the King realizes what is happening. But he cannot say: “Oh, I forbid it, I am the King!” No, he was bound himself to these absolute laws of the Medes and the Persians. The only thing he could say was: “I will issue another law.” And that’s what he did. A law that permitted the Jews to defend themselves. And they did. So the whole massacre of the Jews did not take place. Maybe the other way around…
What do we owe the Empire of the Greeks? Beautiful art and architecture. Mass-entertainment in the form of sport-events like the Olympic games, performed in the nude because of the beauty of the male body. The Greek philosophers laid down the principles of science and technology, mathematics, etc. Great philosophies by philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. They invented democracy as the political system to govern the State. Homosexuality was considered to be a higher form of love than the love between a man and a woman that was considered only necessary for procreation. The Milesian philosophers of nature developed a kind of evolutionary thinking and atomic theory. Greek humanism, which was called Greek Hellenism. The gods of the Greeks were almost projections of human characters and properties. In short: what today we would call Western civilisation and culture we owe to the Greeks.
The main characteristic of the Roman Empire was absolute military power. Nobody could resist the Roman legions that as a machine of war rolled over the then-world. Burt in a sense the Greeks conquered Rome. Although militarily defeated by Rome, the Romans were so impressed by the Greek culture that they took it over, even including the gods! When you were a rich Roman you tried to buy a well-educated Greek slave to teach your children in philosophy, science and technology, art, sports, political science, architecture, etc.
All these Empires had one thing in common: they all hated the Jews.
The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and led the Jewish people into the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity between 600BC-500BC.
The Empire of the Medes and the Persians wanted to murder all the Jews in the entire Empire, we saw.
The Greek spirit of humanism clashed with the God of Israel. Seleucus was one of the generals to whom were allocated parts of the Greek Empire after Alexander’s death. He was allocated the area to the North-East of Israel. Ptolemy, another Greek general, was allocated Egypt, to the South-West of Israel, and these two (and their descendants) went to war regularly to conquer one another’s territory – with Israel in the middle! When Antiochus Epiphanes (one of the ‘Seleucids’) finally had to withdraw from Egypt with a bloody nose, he cooled his rage on Israel, which he hated. He forbade the Jews to practise circumcision (an atrocity for a Hellene who believes in a healthy spirit in a healthy body and in fine Olympic Games with splendid ‘undamaged’ muscular male bodies, not ‘mutilated’ by cutting off a small piece of skin of the male organ: circumcision) and from keeping the Sabbath. A statue of Zeus was set up in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and pigs (the most unclean animal for Jews) were sacrificed on the altar in the Temple. Ultimately everything that was Jewish was forbidden. Those who did not comply were sentenced to death.
This led to the rebellion under the Maccabees, a group of orthodox Jews who wanted to serve to God of Israel in the way He wants to be served. And ‘lo and behold’: ultimately they won the military struggle with the Greeks and their Hellenism! Hellenism and Antiochus were driven out of Israel, following bloody struggles. The Temple was cleansed and re-consecrated and dedicated to the God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth, and the Jews today still celebrate this memorable occasion during the Hanukkah festival in our month of December. The clash between the spirit of natural man and the spirit of people who wished to live by Gods rules and regulations given by His divine revelation was decided in the latter’s favour.
And the Romans hated the Jews so much that in the year 70 AD they destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, murdering 1.100.000 Jews according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. And in 135 AD Emperor Hadrian hated the Jews so much that, after a final Jewish uprising under Bar Kochba, he decided to name this province of his Roman Empire: Palestine, instead of Israel – deliberately naming it after the arch-enemies of Israel, the Philistines. One will not find Palestine in the Bible. The land is either called Canaan or Israel in the Bible.
So ultimately all these Empires will rise together one more time as one final World-Empire with all the main characteristics of all these successive Empires even combined. The ultimate Empire in the name of man. The Kingdom of man over and against the Kingdom of God. This is bad news both for Jews and for Bible-believing Christians. That final Empire will be short-lived though: only three and a half year, 1260 days, a time + (2) times + half a time, 42 months, etc.
The Coming of the Son of Man marks the end of this final kingdom, this evil empire of the Beast and is the beginning of the establishment of the eternal Kingdom of the Son of Man. Because of the fact that by His Coming the whole statue is to be destroyed altogether, it is clear that in the end times the complete statue, that is, all of the empires it represents, will come back to life and will be presented on a worldwide scale in some way or another, Daniel 8:1-7. The beasts that Daniel saw reappear in the book of Revelation chapter 13, are in the form of one ultimate beast.
Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the arrival of that wonderful Kingdom of Peace and Justice, there have been numerous conquerors of the Promised Land, including Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Turks and British. Many Gentile feet have trampled upon Jerusalem and the Holy Land, among them Arabs and Palestinians.
Today the European Union is growing in a certain sense into a revived Roman empire – although this time it is part of a world in which there are more and larger power blocks than existed in the time of the writers of the Bible. The power-block of Islam is on the rise. Communism has collapsed in Russia – allowing the Jews there to return home – Jeremiah 16:14-15, and more and more the map of Europe looks like it did under the Romans. The United Nations, a kind of world parliament, though sometimes powerless, is gaining influence and the blue helmets of its peacekeepers are seen more often everywhere in the world. Increasingly economic developments, the energy and environmental crises, and the conflicts erupting all over the world demand a global response.
The arrival of the final world kingdom in the name of man is fast approaching. World peace appears to be within our grasp, facilitated by computer and satellite systems, cable communication and mass media, and multinational, financial institutions and investments. The global village is becoming a reality. But let us beware of shouting ‘Peace, peace’ where there is no peace, and keep alert! At the same time Israel is the greatest sign of hope the world has ever seen. God is on the move. He is bringing the Jewish people (all 12 tribes) back to the Promised to bring in the King of kings and the Lord of lords to establish His Kingdom of Peace that will fill the earth! Jesus is coming to make all things forever new!
The new Europe is developing in the name of Man… A new phoenix, a shining firebird, a breath-taking ‘Brave New World’ is arising from the ashes of the unimaginable world conflagrations of the past century. A new kind of humanism is arising – combined sometimes with a religious awareness such as that of ‘New Age’. Not even the Pope was able to prevent Europe’s new constitution from omitting any reference to God or to the Jewish-Christian traditions and values that have formed and put their stamp on Europe for centuries. Man is a fallen creature, however. Rebellion against God runs through his veins, and the forces of darkness stand ready to lead him further astray, with Satan as the great master in the background. The speed of the downward spiral is increasing and the end will be terrible, in spite of all the wonderful slogans.
The new spirit of humanism today looks suspiciously like a look-alike as that ancient Hellenism, which was spread throughout the world by the Greeks, and especially by Alexander the Great and his descendants. And although Rome finally smothered the Greeks militarily and politically, Greek philosophy, culture and civilisation conquered Rome.
Whatever once existed, will finally be revived, in ‘optima forma’ and to its ultimate consequence. The great political systems of world history and the great religious systems of humanity will increasingly walk hand in hand – an increasingly desperate situation for pious Jews and for Bible-believing Christians. All the nations will finally march to Jerusalem for the last, decisive battle – to teach the hated opponents a lesson – ‘to have good manners’. For ‘these are our manners’ and everyone must play along. Christians throughout the world have long been ‘kalt gestellt’, eliminated or assimilated.
Perhaps a small number will succeed in surviving at the margins of society, but buying or selling without the mark on your hand or your forehead is actually impossible – certainly when cash plays only a minor role and you only receive a little plastic card with fingerprints, or your inbuilt chip, or your ‘Privium-eye iris-identification’ if you are totally politically and religiously reliable. Member of the proper political party of anti-Christ, the Beast and the false prophet. The marvellous computer administration systems keep everything numbered up-to-date. It is impossible to flee. The Lord will intervene, however. The final outcome will be completely different. The God of Israel will reveal Himself in the eyes of the nations as the Holy One, the Only One, the Eternal God, God of Israel, Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And of His Kingdom there will be no end!
Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer
President Christians for Israel
Honorary President European Coalition for Israel