I would love to know your thoughts on the Islamic Caliphate (700 ad) as the the fourth beast of Daniel rather than the traditional interpretation of Rome.
I have a different take on the nature of the beast kingdoms. I see them as a generic continuity of the kingdom of man, not so much replacing one another, though there are territorial and distinct character changes, but each kingdom is not so much replaced as living on in its successors. Whatever we understand of the 4th kingdom, it is paradoxically at once the last, and yet not the last. We know this because John sees Rome as the 6th, to be succeeded in the future by a 7th. I think the point here is that the 4th kingdom would be the last monolithic world dominion. Unlike the more contained 3 predecessors, the 4th (I think Rome) would be first divided and then fragmented and never again able to come into the kind of cohesion achieved by the earlier kingdoms, including Rome in its beginnings, and I think this fragmentation and division continues right through the Antichrist time, since he is never able to consolidate his kingdom into another world dominion, uniting only the ten, but then enforces economic but not absolute military dominance over many nations that continue to resist him right up to the end (Dan 11:40-45 with Rev 16:12-16, many scriptures bearing on this little considered fact).
So the Antichrist arises as a ‘little horn’ from the region of ancient Syria (Dan 8:9), amidst a very divided, diffused and fragmented end time form of the 4th kingdom, and actually constitutes both the 7th and the 8th from the standpoint of John’s fuller account of beast kingdoms, reaching back to include Egypt and Assyria in addition to Daniel’s four. For John the Antichrist is the 7th in his rise, but becomes the 8th as the risen 7th. As the 8th, he now embodies as the former 7, as the ‘composite beast’ . He is therefore at once the 7th and the 8th. As the 8th, he is the risen 7th, now become the full incarnation of Satan, the ultimate human embodiment of the mystery of iniquity, but that’s another discussion.
The rise of Islam is indeed huge and becomes THE primary force that will be exploited to overwhelm Israel and begin the tribulation. It is no accident of history that a 7th century fiction of Mohammed’s mid night journey from the temple mount should obsess the entire Arab world (people of the ‘everlasting hatred’), not with Medina or Mecca but Jewish Jerusalem. I also believe since a very young man that the ten kings will be Arab nations. So how do I make these to be an extension of Rome rather than the Islamic world? Good question. I ask that myself. I can only say that the ten are shown to issue out of the 4th in its final, fragmented stage, and certainly many of these nations were part of the ancient Roman world and its evolution through history. It seems the prophecy sees the 4th kingdom in a long evolution of division and fragmentation, reaching to the end, and thus ignores, on the gap principle, many of the kingdoms that would rise and fall within its parameters. But here’s the principal reason I can’t well negotiate skipping Rome as the 4th kingdom:
For me, it is Dan 9:26. Here is the “cutting off” of the Messiah (compare the same language in the Song of the Suffering Servant; Isa 53:8). This greatest event on the 70 week timeline significantly happens when Rome rules the world. Clearly, there is a gap between the 69th and 70th week, and thus between the time of Rome and the time of the final mystery of incarnation in Daniel’s “coming prince”, Paul’s ‘man of sin’. The ten kings are contemporary with the beast, but the beast and the ten are described as issuing out of the fourth. John sees all these beast as a single beast with many heads, and he clearly carries this beyond Rome, which he represents as the 6th of 8 heads.
Now here’s my thinking: In Lk 3, it is said that when John Baptist emerges out of the desert to begin his ministry on the Jordan, the scriptures says “all men were in expectation”. That phrase is huge! By any reckoning, the 70 weeks were nearly expired. It was time for the last events that would bring the kingdom. It was time for the Messiah, or at least his expected forerunner. Clearly, Rome was obviously the 4th, and to their experience manifested all the traits described of the 4th. The Messiah, though rejected, appears and makes the atonement that purchases the ‘everlasting righteousness’ of covenant promise. In this, the kingdom of God has come near and is announced as present. Am I to suppose that the kingdom of God in its inaugurated form as a mystery, but mighty in its working and accomplishment in the realm of the Spirit, did NOT come during the fourth kingdom? Or that Jesus’ death during the rule of Rome over Judea was not during the 4th kingdom? That’s just hard for me. Rather, it seems we are touching again on the heart of the mystery of the kingdom coming in stages, with the unexpected gap between the two comings at both ends of the long history of the divided and fragmented 4th kingdom. In other words, it’s the gap principle again where there is the partial, then the leap to the end and the full coming in of the kingdom to fill the whole earth.
I also believe that the same 4 that appear in Dan 2 is represented again in Dan 7 under the imagery now of beasts rather than metals. I base this on my personal conviction that the language of Dan 7:4 too clearly refers to Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity and humbling to dismiss. This means that the winged Lion is the head of gold, which for me is decisive that the same 4 beasts are in view in both visions only under different symbols. Now, can we really conceive that after Daniel’s vision begins with the 3 kingdoms that history confirms followed after Babylon, that Rome is skipped, the very kingdom that was ruling when Jesus announces the inaugurating presence of the kingdom and the great turn of history in His imminent cutting off as the curse reversing seed of the woman? That, for me, is too much to ask. No, Daniel is not skipping Rome anymore than John skips Rome in his vision of the 7 headed beast, but the 7th could well be one who emerges out of a later stage of the 4th, and perhaps this emergence is from the caliphate which took its rise within the 4th, but is not particularly distinguished from the 4th in its ten king stage.