Bible TextFor an example of how we can easily misinterpret, and, in turn, misuse scripture, let’s look at the quote from Joel 2:28 – 29 found in Acts chapter 2.

28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (NIV)

When you read this passage, do you organize the verses into boxes and build formulas? If so, then this is how it would be interpreted:

[Only] sons and daughters will prophesy, [only] old men will dream dreams, and [only] young men will see visions.


Sons and daughters will [only] prophesy, old men will [only] dream dreams, and young men will [only] see visions.


[Only] sons and daughters will [only] prophesy, [only] old men will [only] dream dreams, and [only] young men will [only] see visions.

Knowing how Christians enjoy their formulas, we could easily create three denominations from these. But, are any of the above how God intended us to understand this passage? Or, did this passage simply include examples, written in a poetic way to say what the introduction in verse 28 and the conclusion in verse 29 were saying; in a nutshell, that He will pour His Spirit out on everyone and that everyone will be able to do these things regardless of age or gender.

If you’re interested, I have a related post entitled Interpreting Scripture Correctly on our blog, Real Church Life.


Photo: Alex Bruda

Photo: Alex Bruda

Which Rock is at the Foundation of your Faith?

(Reflections on Matthew 16:13-18)

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat 16:13-18).

Issue of Jesus’ Identity

In this passage we see Jesus asking for feedback from His disciples on what people were saying concerning His identity. Then, Jesus gets more personal on this issue of His identity and He asks them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus’ Identity, the Foundation for His Church

Jesus tells Peter that this revelation of His identity was not from his own thinking or any other human, but that it was from God. Jesus then contrasts the namePeter” which means rock with the revelation that Peter had just had of Him being “the Christ, the Son of the living God” by referring to it as “this rock” on which He would build His church (ecclesia).

Context, Context, Context!!!

Reading from vs. 13 onwards, it is clear that Jesus is referring to His identity as “the Christ, the son of the living God” as “the rock” on which He would build His church (or ecclesia to be more accurate). Clearly, from the context of the discussion, the issue here was not about instating Peter as the foundation on which Jesus would build His church as many have been led to mistakenly believe, but rather in recognizing Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, the foundation on which He would build His ecclesia.

Catholics argue that Peter is being referred to by Jesus as the rock on which He would build His church, however, I am persuaded that the context here and throughout the Bible shows otherwise. While some Protestants have claimed that Peter means little rock or something smaller and that it couldn’t be Peter that Jesus is referring to, Catholics counter that with studies that and show that Peter or Cephas (his name in Aramaic, see John 1:42) also means rock (see Catholic Studies: Peter the Rock). Yet, whatever the case, the context shows that Jesus is merely playing on the meaning of Peter’s name to contrast or compare it with this huge foundational truth that he had just received, that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

The Bible and History

Jesus then goes on to say, “…, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The “it” being the church built on the revelation that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Clearly all this was a task for Jesus and not for Peter. (Peter, along with many others would be witnesses to this foundational truth about Jesus, but he was not the foundation).

John’s gospel corroborates this truth in Matthews gospel when he states his reason for writing with, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:21).

History has also testified to this being the truth, because every person who has believed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” testifies that he has been made a part of Jesus’ church.

Who is your foundation?

Have you believed that the man Jesus, who came as a baby and lived as a man like us, and whose ministry showed Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, died as a substitute for you because of your sins so that you may be pardoned? And, that He rose again from the dead and ascended to be seated with God with all authority, and willingly gives eternal life to anyone who will believe and receive Him?

Here is the text we looked at again. I have added the implied meaning of the text in brackets:

“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood (you or any other human source) has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter (a rock), and on this rock (the rock of my revealed identity as the Christ, the Son of the living God) I will build my church (ecclesia), and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (the ecclesia, those built together on the revelation of My identity as the Christ, the Son of the living God).”


Photo by Alex Bruda

She would forever remember the day that He wrote in the sand

Have you ever wondered what Jesus wrote in the sand?

Do you remember the occasion? It was when religious leaders came to Him with a woman caught in adultery.

Some readers might immediately be thinking. “Oh boy! Another one of those nutters! No one really knows what Jesus wrote in the sand!” That’s what I might have thought if I came across a post like this.

Significant Action

More revealing than “What did Jesus write in the sand?” is “Why did Jesus write in the sand?”

I believe that Jesus was being very intentional when He wrote in the sand. Yet, despite being intentional in His actions, I’m not sure that He was necessarily trying to write anything in particular. I believe that His writing in sand was a prophetic action that pointed to a particular passage in the book of Jeremiah the prophet.

If you read the passage where Jesus wrote in the sand in its broader context and then compare it to a particular passage from the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, then I believe that you will understand why Jesus wrote in the sand. It was an announcement of God’s judgment.

See for Yourself

Firstly, Read John Chapters 7 & 8

To get a fuller context of the occasion read John Chapters 7 & 8. For ease of access, here are some significant extracts from these chapters for you:

7:1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him…7v37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water

(The clear rejection to the point of wanting to kill Him continued among the religious leaders. Then, the incident with the woman caught in adultery occurred the day after the announcement Jesus made at the feast.)

The Incident

8v1bAnd early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

8v12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself,…the Father that sent me beareth witness of meYe neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also….it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him

The second passage to read is Jeremiah 17:5-13

Here is the important reference and connection to Jesus writing in the sand:

17v13O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.

Context is Key

Let’s consider the context of the woman being brought to Jesus. Keep in mind that the Jews had already wanted to kill Him (see John 7:1). Also, the day before the incident, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water’ (John 7v37). Although some that heard Jesus showed signs of belief, a negative sentiment continued, especially among the religious leaders.

So, clearly, the incident occurred in the broader context of Jesus (and therefore God) being rejected. Similarly, the context of the passage in Jeremiah is God being rejected. In Jeremiah, God said that He would write in the earth those who reject Him, the living water. Likewise, by writing in the sand, Jesus was, at the very least, referring to this passage in Jeremiah. He was pointing to God’s judgment on a people that had rejected Him, the source of living water.

What Jesus May Have Written

In the tricky situation that He was in, this picture illustrates what Jesus may have written🙂

What Jesus Wrote in the Sand

The second time He probably followed up with, THANKS, DAD!

More seriously, if Jesus wrote something intelligible, some have suggested that He might have written the names of those around Him who had rejected Him.

I personally think that writing out that portion from Jeremiah the prophet would have made the point.

Nevertheless, simply mimicking God writing in the earth, as in the passage in Jeremiah, would have been sufficient to make the point. Intentional doodling in the sand spoke volumes! Besides, had he written anything legible, surely it would have been too marvelous not to mention in the account.

Jesus = God

Jesus said elsewhere, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” He also said that He only spoke what His Father was speaking and that He only did what He saw His Father doing. With that in mind, we know that Jesus’ actions had significance and that the recording of them is significant too.

Our response to a clear revelation of Jesus is really our response to God. Rejecting Him is to reject God, the source of Living Water.

Rob Morley

Discipling Individuals or Nations?

This may sound strange to your ears, but contrary to what is sometimes taught or suggested, we have no specific New Testament mandate to teach or disciple nations themselves. I say this, even though The Great Commission in Matt. 28:19-20 may appear to be instructing us to do just that.

The Great Commission commences with, “Go ye therefore, and teach /disciple /make disciples of all nations…” As you can see, I’ve indicated how this command is rendered differently in various English translations. Now, if you simply read this segment in each translation you will notice that they don’t all appear to be necessarily saying the same thing. And, this is where the problem lies. Not that they aren’t saying the same thing, but that through superficial reading the less clear translations have been misunderstood. And, this misunderstanding is what has led to the problem of some wrongly aiming at teaching or discipling nations themselves as opposed to individuals of all nations.

To bring clarity to less clear (although not wrong) and perhaps seemingly ambiguous translations, I wish to show that in the context of carefully reading the whole of the Great Commission that all the translations are saying the same thing. By doing this, I hope to alleviate those caught up in misdirected efforts and ensure that we have a proper understanding what Jesus was wanting us to be busy with.

From the first two translations that read “teach all nations” or “disciple all nations” it can seem that discipling entire nations/tribes is what is commanded. However, when logically considering the whole command, it is clear that what is implied is to “teach /disciple individuals of all nations”.  The command continues “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” Clearly one cannot baptize a nation/tribe!

Even if “teaching/discipling whole nations” is somehow implied in the first part of the command, if one considers the complete command, it is only reasonable to conclude that it is by reaching individuals from all nations, rather than influencing whole nations.

Personally, I find the translations that read, “make disciples of all nations” more helpful from the outset. Clearly, whole nations/tribes can’t possibly be made into disciples, but rather people of all nations/tribes. Also, the word “of” here, although only implied in the original Greek, speaks of origin. In other words, “from all nations” or “out of all nations” could be appropriate alternate readings.

I’m certain that the words “all nations” stood out when Jesus spoke the command. They show the extent of the outreach and significantly that it was to go beyond the Jews themselves. This also fits well in the context of the New Testament message as a whole and also how the history of the early church played out. In both of these cases going to “all nations” did not mean discipling whole nations.

Clearly, discipling whole nations isn’t the intention of this scripture (and nor is it even a central New Testament idea). This command, therefore, can’t be used as the source for ideas like “redeeming cultures” and “discipling nations”. At best these ideas have only an indirect correlation here.

While it can be argued that reaching individuals from various nations may have some bearing on influencing their particular nations as a whole, nevertheless, influencing individuals and not nations remains the primary, if not only, intention of this scripture.

It is true that certain individuals like William Carrey who had a remarkable influence on India have in a certain sense discipled India, but that does not make this the meaning of this scripture. Clearly he did not baptize the nation of India nor teach the whole nation to obey all that the Lord commanded.

The correct interpretation is key in protecting this fundamental purpose of the Church from being sidetracked. While “redeeming cultures” and “discipling nations” may have its Biblical place, the intention to be reaching individuals must not be robbed from what is meant here. Misinterpreting this scripture can water down our effort to reach individuals for Christ by unduly heightening our concern for the nations’ political, social, economic and even spiritual well-being.

Although reaching individuals from nations and discipling nations may have some commonality, they are best remembered as separate so that the command to reach individuals isn’t lost in our attempt to affect society.  Also, if the Spirit of God has reaching individuals as His primary intention and we teach, strategize and put our energy into changing nations, then we’ve become off centre in our passion and useless to what is more important.

Rather than being a command to influence nations with the principles and truths of God’s kingdom, the logic of the command in Matt. 28:19-20 is to make disciples from every nation. Then, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, these disciples are able to influence all aspects of society, and God willing, even disciple whole nations.

Rob Morley

(Note: a previous page with its comments were copied to create this post instead)

  1. […] For more on this go to Restore the Word, The Great Commission […]

  2. Good blog! I generally agree with you, so long as we don’t return to a purely individualistic interpretation of the Great Commission and deny it’s social/cultural aspects.

    I am content to say that the Great Commission results the transformation of “nations” (“ethne” in the original Greek, which means ethnic tribe or culture). How we do it – by direct discipleship of a culture or through disciplining individuals who then impact their culture – is not spelled out in the Great Commission.

    Like you, I lean towards the latter. In fact, if you look at the history of how Christians have bravely stood for Godly principles and transformed whole nations and cultures, I think we see the latter approach making a difference time and again.

    From a practical standpoint, I’m not sure how the former is even possible outside of a compulsory framework where the Church institutionally tries to “disciple” and bring “obedience” (two other components of the Great Commission) to the State and other essential social institutions. That would violate the covenantal and thus consensual approach that we see throughout scripture in God’s dealings with humanity.

    History shows the folly of the Church trying – as the Church – to disciple nations. It resulted in some of the greatest tyranny and persecution in Western history. For a host of reasons, I don’t want the Church overseeing the State by usurping the separate jurisdiction and role of the State..

    Thus, the way I have taught on the Great Commission is that it’s about discipling individuals and teaching them to obey all that Christ commands. Ideally, they are equipped in the church to use their gifts and calling (Eph. 4 – which unfortunately seldom happens) to serve in whatever circumstance and arena God has placed them. As they then become engaged in bringing God’s providence into those areas of life, culture and society, and seek to do the will of the Father (as per the Lord’s prayer) on earth as it is in heaven within their own spheres of influence, God’s Kingdom continues to advance as it permeates into all of creation. (Mark 16:15 and Col 1:15-23)

    Everyone believer is placed by God in positions and environments where they are part of the larger society – whether it is being a parent dedicated to raising Godly children within the context of our larger society, or being elected to Congress. Christians are never to be an insular enclave, but we are in the world even though we are not part of the world’s mentality.

    As we each extend God’s providence into whatever arena God calls us, we become His salt and light – bringing His flavor, preservation and illumination. If we are faithful ambassadors of His Kingdom, we can’t help but bring transformation into our secular spheres of influence – whether it is in the arts, science, raising Godly children, media, the trades, politics and civil government, or whatever.

    If we deny God’s providence over all aspects of society, then we have gutted the first part of the Great Commission – which is Christ’s triumphant declaration that he now has “all authority in heaven and on earth.” (In the Greek, “all” means …. all!)

    The attempts by some to limit or deny God’s call on others into various spheres of life (like civil government and cultural engagement) is disturbing. Regardless of how one thinks the Great Commission should work, it seems to me that we must affirm that it’s fulfillment means that nations/cultures – one way or another – are transformed.

    There is no room for a theology of disengagement in the Great Commission. In fact, it directly refutes the existentialists among us, who want only “spiritual” engagement and a purely personal, individualistic Jesus who’s providence is limited to them and their insular, introspective churches.

    • Thanks Jim for enriching this post with your comments. I like your determination to see that Christianity affects all areas of society. God’s kingdom must come on earth as it is in heaven if we are to be relevant as salt and light. While the Great Commission may be focused on reaching individuals from all nations/ethnic tribes; nevertheless, it will undoubtedly influence all of society. And, all the more, if we teach that “Every believer is placed by God in positions and environments where they are part of the larger society… bringing His flavor, preservation and illumination”, as you stated.

  3. […] Rob Moley, in his blog Restore the Word, wrote yesterday on “The Great Commission: Discipling Individuals or Nations?”. […]

(Go here for Fanciful Interpretation of the Beasts in Daniel Refuted– part 1.)

This is the misleading interpretation as I received it:

There are now FIVE PARTIES forcing Israel out of its Promised Land...

These are the VERY SAME BEASTS that the Prophet Daniel saw:

LION – Britain
EAGLE WINGS – United States
BEAR – Russia
LEOPARD – European Union
(Principally, 4-head German “Leopard” with “wings of a fowl,” French Rooster)
DREADFUL BEAST – World Government – U.N.

In this post I continue to consider this bizarre interpretation in the light of the book of Daniel and elsewhere in God’s word.

The  article’s interpretation of Daniel 7 is not only shown to be wrong in my first post, Fanciful Interpretation of the Beasts in Daniel Refuted– part 1, but appearing to be the agenda of God it is A DISTRACTION TO CHRISTIANS FROM GOD’S WILL.

When handling a similar issue where His disciples asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”(Acts 1:6), Jesus said “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).

Commenting further on what the prophecy in Daniel 7 said:

It reads, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

Later, the prophecy goes on to say, “But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them” (Dan 7:26-27).

My thoughts on these passages:

You and I have been grafted into Israel and are among the saints written about above. The promises in the prophecy are for us along with all other believers in the Messiah.  Believers in Jesus, both Jews and non-Jews, are co-heirs with Him of the kingdom that He received which is superior to and has authority over all other kingdoms. Jesus said in Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This is Jesus’ kingdom which is not of this world.

Also, in John 18:36, “Jesus answered (Pilate), ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ In Daniel we see that it is a kingdom more powerful than the kingdoms of this world. It is the “stone…cut…by no human hand” that we read about in Daniel 2:45 and it destroys the kingdoms of this world that were in direct opposition to Israel before their Messiah came.

When He came, Jesus said that not even the gates of hell, let alone the kingdoms of this world, will prevail against His Ecclesia. After His death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus said “All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth…” As His Ecclesia we walk in His authority, more than conquerors, in one sense “the untouchables”, able to carry the Good News while backed by the authority of Jesus, all the while praying that His kingdom will continue to come on earth as it is in heaven. And, just as Jesus began bringing about the kingdom of God on earth through obedience to God through the Spirit, we are called to do the same! We are in this world, but are not of it. Although this world’s inhabitants are in rebellion to God and Christ, they are loved by God and we are ambassadors of the kingdom of God to them.

In Heb 10:12-13 it says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.” In this context we see that His enemies are still at large in the world. While sin, Satan and spiritual death have no authority as far as believers are concerned, they still operate with authority. Satan influences the kingdoms of this world as the enemies of God and Christ. This will exist until the end of this age when Christ’s enemies will become His footstool.

We read of this in Rev 11:15 where it says, “… The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Also, in 1Co 15:24-26 it says something in the same vein with “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet…”


Babylonian Lion

As some may have already discovered, over the years people have offered various interpretations to the prophecies in Daniel. Being a difficult book in places, it creates a perfect environment for fanciful, false and distracting interpretations.

I was recently asked by a friend to give my view on the interpretation of a prophecy of Daniel that he came across. This post is my response to this view which, despite being in the fanciful category, appears to be popular. What I have written is by no means comprehensive, but I hope it says enough to show the interpretation that I was asked to comment on to be very misleading.

This is the MISLEADING INTERPRETATION as I received it:

There are now FIVE PARTIES forcing Israel out of its Promised Land…

These are the VERY SAME BEASTS that the Prophet Daniel saw:

LION – Britain
EAGLE WINGS – United States
BEAR – Russia
LEOPARD – European Union
(Principally, 4-head German “Leopard” with “wings of a fowl,” French Rooster)
DREADFUL BEAST – World Government – U.N.

Let’s consider this in the light of the book of Daniel.

Here are the scriptures that this bad interpretation is based on:

Daniel’ vision:

“Daniel declared, ‘I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns’” (Dan 7:2-7).

The angel’s interpretation of the vision:

“‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever’” (Dan 7:17).

Daniel asks about the fourth beast:

“Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Dan 7:19-22).

The angel’s Interpretation of the 4th beast:

“Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth…” (Dan 7:23-27).

Probably much more could be said, but I will respond to just a few things here:

Firstly, the Lion with the wings was one beast and was synonymous with the Babylonian Empire, a world empire that directly ruled over Israel and its people. There is archeological evidence of this type of lion with wings being associated with Babylon.

Also, in the context, Daniel and his people, the Jews, are in exile in Babylon and their land, Judah and Israel, is part of the Babylonian Empire. Daniel was given something to write that was applicable both to the Jews then, who were undoubtedly wondering about their future, and also to the next generations who would be in the hands of subsequent empires. In the light of what the next hundreds of years were going to entail, a beast representing Babylon was the most appropriate 1st beast in the list.

The article goes about dividing the Lion from its wings to depict two separate nations (kingdoms), Britain and the USA. This goes against the interpretation that the angel gives in the Book of Daniel. In Daniel 7:17 the angel says, “These four great beasts are four kings (or kingdoms) who shall arise out of the earth” and also that in Dan 7:23 he says, “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth…” From the angels interpretation we can see that each of the beasts represents a singular kingdom.

Now, some may argue that if the Bear “raised up on one side,” that is traditionally considered to be the Medes and the Persians, were two nations acting as one, why can’t the Lion with wings be two countries. To begin with, the Bear has a parallel prophecy in Dan 8:3 with the Ram corroborating the picture of one kingdom of two nations, with the words “had two horns…one higher than the other.”

Furthermore, the nature of the union of the Medes and the Persians was such that they acted completely in unison. It was a strong alliance through marriage, with the Persians being stronger and bigger in their unity. In the manner that the word “kingdom” was used, used loosely, we can see that many modern “kingdoms” as a union of “kingdoms”. The USSR, with Russia the dominant member was an example. In a sense, even South Africa is a “kingdom” made up of many “kingdoms”. But, the USA and Britain can’t be called a “kingdom” simply because they agree on some issues.

Another thing is if we look at Dan 7:23, the word “shall” has a sense of the fourth beast being part of a line of consecutive kingdoms, and not simultaneous ones. Also, these kingdoms parallel the statue vision in chapter two, where clearly the kingdoms are depicted as coming one after another. In the article that you sent me the beasts are shown to exist simultaneously.

Then, it seems that the need to make prophecy fit the occasion has made for the dubious claim of the Leopard with 4 heads being linked to the EU and to Germany, a key member of the EU. While some frail connection can be found to Germany and the use of a leopard as a symbol, it isn’t convincing at all. Surely their main symbol would be used to avoid confusion!

Then “the wings of a fowl” on the leopard being France, in my mind, only weakens their view further, because, although they and Germany are part of the EU, they are nevertheless independent “kingdoms”. Also, it’s debatable equating the EU into the mold of a “kingdom.” Surely this view is far less convincing than the traditional one that proposes that the Leopard with 4 heads was the Greek Kingdom that was later divided into 4 among 4 generals because Alexander the Great had no heirs. The traditional view is supported in the book with other parallel prophecies and by the outcome of history.

The article claims the following:

But ALL FOUR of Daniel’s Four Beasts are said to be IN POWER – IN EXISTENCE – when Jesus returns!

These Four Beasts CANNOT be the ancient kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome – as most Bible commentators and teachers assert. Here is why:
At Armageddon, Daniel saw that the OTHER THREE BEASTS “had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. (7:12)

Is this true?

Daniel does not say that all four beasts are in power at the same time. Daniel 7:12 reads, “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.” In context, “As for the rest of the beasts” is Daniel’s commentary on what had happened in the meantime to the other beasts that preceded the 4th beast. It’s not a view of what happens at one point in time as the interpretation above implies. Rather, what Daniel is saying is that at the end of each successive kingdoms’ period of dominion, their dominion was “taken away”, but they were still allowed to exist, only without the dominion that they had previously had.

The 4 beasts are 4 kingdoms that would for the most part have control over the land of Israel and its people from Daniel’s time to the coming of the Messiah. They are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

Rob Morley