The Lord Jesus, the Messiah made reference to a group of Gentile world Empires who would control Jerusalem and the entire world starting in 586 B.C.He referred to these times of the Gentiles as ending at some point in time. The Gentile control of Jerusalem and world government in general is going to end. It’s not going to last forever. It will end when He returns to set up His world wide government in Jerusalem at the Second Coming. Now the Lord said this in the Olivet Discourse:
The Trampling of Jerusalem
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (KJV).
The Final Beast
Images of world empires were given to the prophet Daniel and he recorded them in chapters 2 and 7 of his book. Those which are written in the 7th chapter depict four beasts coming out of the Great Sea. The first three have animal characteristics of a lion, bear and leopard. The fourth is a beast that has no animal like description and can be called nondescript. This beast is referred to as dreadful and terrible with iron teeth. It is breaking and devouring the residue of the other beasts. We now examine the various stages of this beast or final Gentile governmental structure.
Stages of The Fourth Beast
The 4th Empire – The Empire of Imperialism
Is this the Roman Empire?
We need to have a discussion regarding the characteristics of this empire. Many commonly hold that the “Fourth Empire” is the Roman Empire. It is also common to infer that because the Roman Empire died that there must be a Revived Roman Empire still coming. We know from Daniel chapter two that the “Stone Made Without Hands” which will be the Lord’s Messianic Kingdom will destroy this empire.
The Scripture doesn’t teach any cessation of this Fourth Empire prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. The Scripture teaches that the Empire, the Fourth Empire, continues until the Messianic Kingdom. It doesn’t show a break. In actuality the government form that the images discuss is more generic than just Rome. The Empire that the Bible is talking about is what Rome created and that is an imperialistic form of government.
Roman Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts 1850
Imperialism is simply a policy where one government extends its influence or power through negotiations, diplomacy or military force. Most of the Western powers are imperialistic governments. There is nothing particularly wrong with being an imperialistic government. That’s the characteristic of the type of government instituted by the Romans. It was Rome that brought imperialism into the world.
What the Romans would do (and they did it much stronger than what we’re doing today) is to place their own people in a country that would control the conquered peoples government. But, they would let that government run itself. So the In the case of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin were still active, but they had to report to Pontius Pilate. The Romans limited the scope of the subjugated countries activities. For example the Israelites were forbidden to carry out capital punishment. This is one of the reason Jesus had to be seen by Pilate. The Jews wanted to crucify Him but they needed the permission of the Romans. By in large, the Romans wanted peace. They wanted this Pax Romana which they claimed to be implementing within their empire.
That’s the form of government they implemented and the first stage of this was the Roman Empire, what the Bible calls the “Fourth Empire” – the Empire of Imperialism.
Both Daniel passages make it clear that the Fourth Gentile Empire begins with the end of the Third Empire (Greek) and continues until Messiah comes to set up His Kingdom. There is no break or gap in the imperialist form of government on the earth from the initiation of the Roman Empire until Christ returns. Nowhere in Scripture is this stated. This Roman Empire, this Fourth Empire, This Empire of Imperialism will go through five successive stages. We need to study those to see where history fits in this exposition.
Five Stages of the 4th Empire – The Empire of
Age of Imperialism – United Stage
The United Stage-Rome is the first stage of the Imperialist Form of government. The first stage or the United Stage started about 63 B.C and lasted until A.D. 364. Rome had a long history going back into the 700s B.C. Rome was founded, perhaps by Romulus and Remus. It suffices to say, the empire began under Julius Caesar started in about 63 B.C. and lasted until about A.D. 364. That was the First Stage, or the United Stage, of the Fourth Empire.
Age of Imperialism – Two-Division Stage
The second stage or the Empire of Imperialism was the Two Division Stage. This stage was foreseen by the Daniel chapter two visions in the Legs of Iron but not in the Daniel chapter seven visions. It began in A.D. 364 when Emperor Valentinian divided the Roman Empire into an east and west division. There was an earlier division in AD 285, which did not last long. The emperor Constantine in AD 312-314 reunited the empire for a short period. However the AD 364 division was permanent. The Western Headquarters were in Rome and the Eastern Headquarters in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, Turkey).
The first split came in AD 285 when the emperor Diocletian decided that the Roman empire had become too large to be efficiently ruled by one man. So he initiated a split of the empire into Western and Eastern branches, keeping the eastern part for himself because it was richer in goods and trade. For the western territory he appointed Maximian, who was subject to Diocletian.
A civil war broke out across both parts of the empire in 306. In 314, Constantine was the victor and reunited the Empire under a single ruler. The Emperor Constantine efforts to reunite the empire were accomplished through the Battle of the Milvian Bridgeagainst Maxentius. He reportedly had a vision where he saw a cross in the sky and the Latin inscription, “With this sign you will conquer.” He embraced Christianity and his men became Christians as well. The capitol he established was in in Constantinople, which is modern day Istanbul, Turkey in the eastern part.
Battle of Milvian Bridge by Giulio Romano 1520-24
In 337 Constantine died and civil war erupted between his three sons, who divided the empire into three different parts. Valentinian emerged as victor and single leader in 364. He immediately divided the empire again, giving the eastern half to his brother Valens. Succession rebellions in the west eventually forced the Eastern emperor Theodosius I to quell the rebellions and become a single ruler of a unified Roman empire again. He decreed Christianity to be the state religion, which effectively brought on the Dark Ages as the Church merged with the state. He was however the last emperor to rule both East and West. After his death in 395, his two sons inherited the East and West respectively. This was the final and permanent division of the Roman Empire. The Western half wouldn’t last long, finally falling in 476 with the sack of Rome. The Eastern half would exist another 1000 years, becoming known as the Byzantine empire.
The Two legs of Nebuchadnezzar vision
Image by TheDivineTv http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=AA3qHi-rwvI
The Eastern Leg
When Constantinople fell, the political rulers, scribes, and scholars fled north into Russia and infiltrated the government there, where they set up an imperialist form of government. The rulers called themselves Czars, which is Russian for “Caesar.” Later Russia began calling itself the Third Roman Empire.
They started calling the rulers up there, Czars. The word “Czar” in Russian just means “Caesar”, the same exact Roman word. “Czar” and “Caesar” –means the same exact thing. That was the Eastern Division. Russia even started calling itself the “Third Roman Empire.” We know what happened in Russia. The balance of power shifted. It moved from the Russian czars into the Communists and ultimately into the Soviet block of countries. The power then shifted from there after the quiet revolution they had, which was called Glasnost (listen) coupled with Perestroika (restructuring) . The power shifted again back to Russia and to the CIS, the Commonwealth of Industrial States. So the power transfer shifted, but it stayed within Eastern Block from Constantinople up into Russia. 1
There are more power transfers going on right now. The country of Russia is in great turmoil. It hasn’t lost its power; it hasn’t lost its military prowess; it hasn’t lost its world status. It’s still extremely strong. An autocrat is now running it by the name of Vladimir Putin. He was the former head of the Soviet KGB. But the power is starting to shift into the Islamic entities. They’re starting to get a great deal of power in the Eastern Sphere. There will continue to be uncertainty in the leadership of the eastern power block. It is difficult to predict the incremental stages of the development of the power transfers.
The Western Leg
The Western Division of power remained in Rome from 364 until 476 when Rome fell. Now Rome fell and where did that controlling power go? The people that had power and want power and understand it and know how to get it, are not going to let it go. It’s not just going to dissipate. Somebody’s going to grab it. From there it shifted to France, especially the power gained by Charlemagne in A.D. 800. He called his domain the Holy Roman Empire of the Frankish Nation. In 962 Otto I of Germany defeated the Franks and set up the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The leaders called themselves Kaiser, which is German for “Caesar.” Since then, especially after World War I, the western balance of power has been centered in the democratic nations of the west. So the Two-Division Stage, which began in A. D. 364, continues to this day and there may be some shifting yet to come before the east-west balance becomes the third stage. The Two Division Stage we have now is ultimately going to evolve into the One World Government.
Coronation of Charles V The Holy Roman Empire by Cornelius I Schut Cir. 1600
Future Allied Invasion of Israel
There will be a time yet future where the Russian and also the Muslim nations encircling Israel will ally to invade Israel. The text of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 states, that
God causes the Jews to win the battle. The Jews do not suffer any casualties but the invading Russian and Muslim nations all lose their political power on the world stage. This causes the Divided Stage to end and that gives way to the One World Government Stage.
Chart by Cathy Bateson
The Ten-Division Stage
The Ten-Division Stage was seen in both Daniel 2 with the ten toes and in Daniel 7 with the ten horns. This stage is clearly stated to come out of the One World Government Stage. The Bible is silent as to why and exactly how the division occurs. These ten kingdoms will cover the entire earth and not be limited to some specific continent such as Europe. They will begin sometime before the Great Tribulation and continue into the middle of the Tribulation.
Some view the United Nations as being a possible precursor. Perhaps that is the genesis for the divisions. The Bible just states that the ten divisions is going to cover the entire earth. Some even consider the Club of Rome’s recommendation that the world be divided up into ten administrative districts to avoid economic collapse. The Club of Rome is a global think tank and center of worldly innovation and initiative. It is a futurist organization, comprised mostly of liberals that take the view that there isn’t any pre-ordained plan for the earth.
The Antichrist Stage
The Antichrist Stage is going to follow the Ten Kingdom Stage. He is going to rise to power. We don’t know how he rises to power, we are not given that. But Daniel chapter seven describes him as the eleventh horn that plucks out three of the previous ten. So somehow he is going to eliminate three of the ten kings. We don’t know how he is going to do that either, but he does. The other seven submit to his authority. Once this submission occurs, he has total control of the world’s last Gentile Empire, which has its headquarters in Babylon. He signs an agreement of some sort with the nation Israel that starts the timing of the Tribulation. That’s the fifth and final stage of Gentile Imperialism and that’s what the Bible speaks about in the book of Revelation.
The Dynamics of Power
Power Image Unknown Artist
We have now looked at the dynamics of the shifting of power in human relationships. We saw how this power over the world shifts from person to person and empire to empire, while at all times, God remains in control. He effects His will in a minimum of two characteristics; His Creative (also known as causative) Will and His Permissive Will. He either causes things to happen or he lets things happen. Because of the sin that came into the world, He allows it to continue. The Savior has come into the world, but only those that believe on Him are going to have salvation, and then only those that pay attention to what He says are going to minimize the problems we see upon the earth.
We can define power in the following ways:
It’s a force that has an effect on human behavior. In some way it causes human behavior to make a change from the status quo to another status quo.
It’s abstract. We can’t see power. We can’t see power in the mechanical or electronic world. But, you can see the effects of power. The same thing is true with power in the social economic world. You can’t see power. You can see people who have stations in life that appear to have power – people with lots of money, people who have high ranking government jobs, and people in large corporations with high ranking positions. They appear to have high-ranking power. Then there are other people who appear to have power within those organizations that can affect the behavior of the decision maker and they have power too.
It’s temporary. Nobody keeps power forever – any kind of power. Nobody keeps it. It’s almost an illusion. You’ve got it for a little while and it goes away.
It has many spheres. There are all kinds of different powers. One form form is economic power. The person that has a lot of money or is well supported can buy lots of armaments, can engineer wars, and build huge buildings. They can make a positive or negative effect on the economy. There is a lot of power in particular political situations. Heads of state have a lot of political power, so do heads of corporations. So, organizational power is one of the spheres of economic powers. Another one is military power. He that controls the Army, throughout history, has had a lot of power to change things for his or her needs.
It gets transmitted in various ways. Power is transmitted in a variety of ways. It is transmitted by means of war, by means of election, or by means of somebody giving it to somebody else. It’s not always the apparent individual in an organization or geopolitical government that has the power. They may be the one who sits just outside the office of the President. The Secretary that controls access to the CEO in a large corporation, she or he has a tremendous amount of power or control over who gets access to the president. The people that want to see the president know that. So power is abstract it’s temporary. It’s comes in all kinds of forms, transmitted in a variety of ways
God is the supreme power and always-in complete control of everything. You see the chaos in the world, you see the wars going on, you see sin that’s abounded, and you see heresies and everything that’s happening. We have to constantly remember that God is in complete control. The Scriptures are true and faithful.
They won’t lead us astray.
Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.
Next Post in this series: The Dynamics of Empire Collapse.
1. Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Footsteps of the Messiah Ariel Ministries San Antonio, TX 1982 pg 34