Defending the Theistic View

Daniel’s Four Empires — The Skeptics just don’t get it!

Recently in an earlier post I refuted the logical fallacy advanced by third-rate skeptic Farrell Till that the Biblical Book of Daniel supossed that the Medes and the Persians were two empires independent of eachother at the time of the conquest of Babylon.  Now in this post, I plan on showing that he misinterprets some of the most vital details of Daniel which show that Daniel did indeed predict the future with accuracy.

One of the areas in the book most misrepresented by skeptics and naturalists is the seventh chapter which shows apocalyptic imagery in the form of fou different beasts which represent four different empires that were to arise. They are a lion, a bear, a four-headed leopard, and a beast with ten horns.

Skeptics represent them as such:

  1. The Lion — Babylon
  2. The Bear — Media
  3. Leopard — Persia
  4. Beast with ten horns — Greece

Of course, most Christians that believe in the authenticity of Daniel do not accept most of this interpretation of the four beasts of Daniel’s vision.

First nobody, whether liberal or Conservative, dispute that the Lion is representative of the Neo-Babylonian empire so I will not go into that.

The subject is actually quite simple: All one has to do is disprove the skeptical position in at least one aspect and their entire assumption turns out to be wrong. — But first, it is important to mention that the basis of the assumptions is the hypothesis that the Book of Daniel was written during the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC because of the accurate imagery that the book gives about the time. Following this assumption as well as the idea that the future cannot be predicted skeptics came to the understanding that the ten horned beast represented the Greek empire. — My purpose is to show that this position is inconsistent with the facts of history.

Farrell Till, in his interpretation of the imagery, repeats the ten horned beast is the Greek empire by citing one Christian apologist that agrees with this position. Therefore, he believes the leopard it the Persian empire. This is consistent with the opinion of most secular scholars, but inconsistent with history. And here’s why:

After Daniel sees the fourth beast he asked for the interpretation:

He gave me [Daniel] this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.’ (Daniel 7: 23, 24 NIV)

So ten kings, it says will arise from this kingdom. But with the wording that one king will subdue three of them, there is the indication that (instead of ruling one after the other) the ten kings rule at the same time. — In other words, this kingdom gets divided into ten pieces or kingdoms.

It is true that the Greek Empire got split up soon after the Death of Alexander the Great:

In Asia the Macedonian commanders who served Alexander fought each other for power.  Perdiccas and Meleager were murdered, Antigonus rose to control most of Asia, but his growth of power brought the other Macedonian generals in coalition against him.  He was killed in battle and the Macedonian Empire split into four main kingdoms– the one of Seleucus (Asia), Ptolemy (Egypt), Lysimachus (Thrace), and Antipater’s son Cassander (Macedonia, including Greece).

(Text Link: Alexander of Macedon

So, Greece did divide, but not into ten kingdoms. — It divided into four. Now, does this mean that Daniel got wrong his historical description of the Greek empire? Or does this mean that the Skeptics are the ones that got it all wrong?

Considering other descriptions given in Daniel about the Greek empire, I doubt that Daniel would have gotten his history of Greece wrong. Daniel himself describes the Greek king (Obviously Alexander the Great) and what would happen to his kingdom,

Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others. (Daniel 11: 3, 4)

His empire would be broken into the four winds (i.e., into four pieces). So, Daniel knowing this, it is unlikely he would then make the huge blunder that Greece would be divided into ten.

The question now is do any of the other beasts in chapter seven better describe the Greek empire? — The answer seems to be an emphatic yes.

I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. (Daniel 7: 6)

The leopard that comes before the last beast is not described in as great detail as the fourth beast, but the imagery is much more consistent with the historical knowledge of the Greek empire. The four heads and the four wings fit the four kingdoms that came out of Greece.

The interesting thing here is that even though Till rejects the clarity of the Leopard, not the ten horned beast, being the Greek empire, he still accepts the number “four” as symbolic for Greece in the vision of the ram and the goat. — The goat first had one horn before it fell off and four horns replaced it which represent four kingdoms (Daniel 7: 21, 22) — Even though Till talks about the consistency of symbols in his interpretation, his acceptance of the goat with four horns as Greece, but rejection of the four headed leopard as a symbol of the same empire is a huge inconsistency.

Whats more, Till usually brings up what he considers to be a historical error made by Daniel and says something on the lines of “It would be understandable for an ignorant late second century Jew to make such an error.” — I would argue that if Daniel indeed lived in the second century BC during the Greek empire, the last details he would ever get wrong would be of the current empire of his day. And yet, Till doesn’t seem to see that.

Since we know that the lion unquestioningly represents the Neo-Babylonian empire, what does this indicate for the second beast, the bear?

And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’ (Daniel 7: 5)

Most skeptics, and Till, believe that the bear is a symbol for the Median empire and that therefore the Leopard is Persia. However, I have just shown that the Leopard is more consistent with Greece, so this could mean just one thing: The bear, despite all of Farrell Till’s protests, has to represent a United Empire of Persia and Media (Medo-Persia).

The bear was shown to have one side raised above the other. — This is historically consistent with the Persia being held somewhat superior to Media, despite still being united allies.

So this being so, what about the fourth beast with ten horns? Most Conservative scholars believe that it represents the Roman Empire. — Of course, Till, not believing that Daniel could foretell the future, rejects this. But again, the ten horns representing ten kingdoms that come out does not reflect what Till insists on. The truth is that ten kingdoms did in fact come out of Rome:

  • Franks (Clovis)
  • Anglo-Saxons
  • Visigoths
  • Lombards
  • Vandals
  • Ostrogoths
  • Heruli
  • Suevi
  • Alemani
  • Burgundians

Daniel goes on to mention the fate of three of the horns (i.e., kingdoms),

While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. (Daniel 7: 8 )

It so happens that three of these same kingdoms were destroyed, or uprooted. They were the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and the Heruli. (Click here for the info)

The implication here is that not only did Daniel give accurate history in his book, but that he also accurately predicted what would happen in with the Roman empire This means that even if the Book of Daniel were written in the second century BC, he still knew the future by about 600 years beyond his time. So even though skeptics would prefer not to pay attention to the facts, it appears that God did indeed have a hand in the writing of the Book of Daniel.

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