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"Then the He-goat from the west grew more powerful than ever,
but at the height of its strength the great horn snapped, and in its place sprouted four majestic horns, .
pointing to the four winds of heaven."
Bible scholars have, for centuries, interpreted the quotation above as certain proof that Daniel based his writings on the historic events surrounding Alexander the Great. This includes Alexander's victories, his death, and the circumstances surrounding the eventual partition of his former empire into four disparate kingdoms.
If this is true, it means we can expect to see Alexander again. More than that, it means all this history that surrounds him was made for us.
Out of one of those four kingdoms (the smallest, in fact) arose Antiochus Epiphanes II, the "great desecrator" who shares center stage in Daniel's scriptural passages. It was Antiochus who profaned the Jewish temple, erecting there the "abomination of desolation" that caused sacrifice and oblation to cease in mid-December, the 25th day of Chislev, in 167 B.C.
Fortunately for the Jews, the actions of Antiochus proved temporary, lasting just 3 years. At the end of that time a group of Jewish freedom fighters called "Hassideans", led by Judas Maccabees, successfully ousted the Greco-Syrian troops of Antiochus from the temple grounds in Jerusalem. Reclaiming the holy site, the Jewish forces tore down the desecrated stones, deposited them in a place for prophecy, cleansed the temple ground and reinitiated there (on the 25th day of Chislev in 164 B.C.) the hallowed sacrifice on newly sanctified stones.
The stones that had been contaminated and removed remained hidden in their place of prophecy awaiting the one who was to come and make a pronouncement over them. That prophet was Jesus. But it may also have been Daniel. We know that from Jesus who told His disciples not a stone would be left on a stone. Everything would be torn down. His words were these:
"So when you see the disastrous abomination, of which the prophet Daniel spoke, set up in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains; if a man is in the fields, he must not turn back to fetch his cloak.
Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come! Pray that you will not have to escape in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great distress such as, until now, since the world began, there never has been, nor ever will be again. And if that time had not been shortened, no one would have survived; but shortened that time shall be, for the sake of those who are chosen." (Mat.24:15-22).
What does this prophecy mean?
It means the desecration of Antiochus will happen again.
Antiochus Epiphanes was a metaphore for the last days. The words of Daniel were not history, they were prophecy. They were not meant to describe the Alexander of history, but the Alexander of prophecy, i.e., a second "Alexander" an Alexander to come. Alexander is to be replicated in the last days. Not as before, but as a mirror image. An image in reverse.
The Alexander of history was the architect of the foundation on which western civiliztion was built. He destroyed the Persian empire, commanding troops from the West that achieved a formidable conquest of eastern forces that stretched from Egypt and the Balkans to the borders of India. His victorious trek proved so decisive, the East he vanquished would not rise to the pinnacle of world power again for 2500 years. Not until the last days. Then, all this would be repeated but this time with results that would prove the total reverse for western fortunes.
According to Daniel's prophecy, at the beginning of the final days a new western Alexander-figure is to appear. Likely youthful, brash, and envisioning himself a great battlefield general, he will lead the west in what amounts to an apparent replication of Alexander the Great's victorious march across the East, powering western forces from the Balkans to India. American troops and its allies have, in fact, repeated this very march over the last two years from 2002 through 2003.
The Alexander of history controlled Iraq. American troops duplicated that feat as well, although full control remains evasive and questionable at the moment of this writing.
The Alexander of history set the stage for the rise of Antiochus Epiphanies IV, in whose image Daniel structured a large segment of his prophecies. The actions and fate of the Alexander of prophecy will bring another madman to the fore. It will set the stage for the rise of the Bible's "Man of Perdition", the great beast of the end-times.
Within that circumscription both Alexander figures can be ezpected to be youthful and cocky war-leaders. But there the similarities will probably end. According to Plutarch, the Alexander of history ridiculed his father for vascillating in battle and not following through on his conquests. He vowed to pursue a far more aggressive course, and did so with spectacular success. At the height of his victories, the Alexander of history, only 32 years old, suddenly died in Iraq. Alexander's untimely death caused the fracturing of his global empire, splitting it into four diverse parts.
We do not know if the Alexander of prophecy will be a bungling caricature of the first, but given the egregious mismanagement of western power and resources that must surely mark his reign for it to end so badly, it is probably safe to assume some sort of parody. He certainly will not be riding at the front of his troops, leading them from battle to battle the way the Alexander of history did. Instead, according to Daniel, he will airmail his forces to the front, sending them from one side of the planet to the other without their feet ever touching the ground (Dan.8:5)..
He will not be the architect of a global western empire the way the Alexander of history was. Just the opposite. Instead of championing the west to victory, the Alexander of prophecy will lead it to chaos and destruction.
Certainly he, like his predecessor will stumble in Iraq. The death of the Alexander of history in that very location at the height of his victorious march across the East has prophetic implications that cannot be ignored. Does it mean America and its allies will lose control of Iraq? Will the Alexander of prophecy die there as his predecessor did? Is this the point of the "Pharaoh" prophecy in Jeremiah (Jer.44:29-30)? These are important questions that only the future can answer.
One thing for certain, the final result will fracture the world, breaking it into four disparate parts in a fashion similar to the events that surrounded the first Alexander. The future four will be scattered to the four winds just as the former were. None will be ruled in the way that they had been before the collapse. In the wake of this catastrophe, the entire world politic will be radically altered. Everything will change.
According to the prophecies of Daniel, out of the smallest of the four coaltions of governments that appear in the last days in the wake of the collapse of the western world's global empire, a ten-nation confederacy will appear and grow to prodigious heights. When it reaches maturity, its warlord will order his vast host of troops to cross the Euphrates River in a massive invasion, sweeping the East to almost complete hemispheric power, decimating the European remnants of the western world and isolating the single remaining western power on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
When will this occur?
According to Daniel, the Alexander-figure in this prophecy rises to power in conjunction with two wars at the Euphrates river. With precisely two such wars recently initiated at that location, and one still in progress there, we can expect that this prophetic Alexander-like figure is on stage now. If not, it must be assumed that the two wars at the Euphrates in the current headlines are different from those described by Daniel in these two verses of scripture:
"I raised my eyes to look round me, and I saw a ram standing in front of the river. It had two horns; both were tall, but one taller that the other, and the one that rose the higher was the second. I saw the ram thrust westwards, northwards and southwards. No animal could stand up to it, nothing could escape it. It did as it pleased and grew very powerful." (Dan.8:3-4)
"This is what I observed: a he-goat came from the west, having covered the entire earth but without touching the ground, and between its eyes the goat had one majestic horn. It advanced towards the ram with the two horns...and charged at it with all the fury of its might. I saw it reach the ram, and it was so enraged with the ram, it knocked it down, breaking both its horns and the ram had not the strength to resist; it felled it to the ground and trampled it underfoot; no one was there to save the ram." -Dan.8:5-7.
The Book of Daniel unveils a chronological prophecy of the last days. According to one of the angels that showed him these visions, Daniel's book was to be sealed and remain shuttered until those final days had actually arrived. The proof that they had arrived would be the two wars at the Euphrates in which western troops would cross the entire earth without touching the ground to conquer eastern forces gathered there against them.
Are these those times?
If they are, the Alexander-figure of Daniel's prophecy should be a currently visible leader in the western world right now. Is he President Bush? Is he Tony Blair? Is he the leader of the United Nations or NATO? Is he a figure just now arriving on history's stage? These are questions that beg to be answered.
A key part of Daniel's prophecy states that when the disintegration of global democracy occurs, it will shatter world politics to such an extent that none of the pieces that evolve from that collapse will be ruled in the same way as they were before.
"A mighty king will rise and reign over a vast empire and do whatever he pleases. But once he has come to power his empire will be broken up and parcelled out to the four winds of heaven, though not to his descendants: it will not be ruled as he ruled it, for his sovereignty is going to be uprooted and pass to others than his own" (Dn.11:3-4).
This prophecy is a sobering indication that democracy will not survive on the planet once the catastrophic disintegration of its current global reach occurs. A different kind of rule will follow. The tribulation promises only multiple spheres of totalitarian government, both here and abroad, salt and peppered globally with the violence of terrorism, endless warfare and severe rioting.
Again, the caveat is the same. Are these the times Daniel wrote about?. If not, Daniel's words speak to us of a future still some distance away. Remember, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that his visions were about the last days:
"I heard a man's voice cry over the Ulai, 'Gabriel, tell him the meaning of the vision!' He approached the place where I was standing; as he approached I was seized with terror, and fell prostrate. 'Son of man,' he said to me 'understand this', he said, 'the vision shows the time of the End" (Dn.8:17).
Since the world has not yet ended, the days these prophecies describe can only be one of two places. They are either now or yet to come. As more and more of scripture's prophecies dovetail into the now,, reappearing in the current affairs of our own history, the argument for 'now' grows stronger every day.
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