|LESSON 10||*August 26 - September 1|
|Rome and Antiochus|
Read for This Week's Study:
|Isa. 55:11; Matt. 13:10-13; Luke 2:1; Luke 21:20, 21; John 11:48; John 16:12; 2 Pet. 1:19.|
|"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed" (Luke 2:1).|
|The subject of the sanctuary
was the key that unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened
to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that
God's hand had directed the great advent movement and revealing present duty
as it brought to light the position and work of His people. As the disciples
of Jesus after the terrible night of their anguish and disappointment were
'glad when they saw the Lord,' so did those now rejoice who had looked in
faith for His second coming."Ellen G. White, The Great
Controversy, p. 423.
Indeed, the 1844 pre-Advent judgment is a crucial doctrine of the Adventist Church; not only does it explain the disappointment of 1844, it helps us understand who we are today and why we exist as a movement. With so much at stake, our enemy is constantly at work to undermine us, and if he can undo our belief in 1844, he will greatly succeed. Thus, it is important that we as Adventists be firmly rooted in this teaching, as well as be prepared to answer challenges against it.
This week we'll continue to look at more Bible texts that will help solidify us in our understanding of this key teaching, which, when properly understood, reveals to us in grander light the wonderful saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in view of what He has done for us at the Cross and is doing for us now in heaven.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 2.
Rome in the New Testament
So far, we've been dealing with a span of empires, beginning with Babylon and ending with God's kingdom. We noticed that of the five kingdoms revealed, four were named. The only one not named was Rome, both in its pagan and papal stages, even though in most of the prophecies more time was spent describing Rome than any other kingdom.
Though Rome itself might not have been mentioned by name in the Old Testament, its existence and power dominated the New. The Gospels, the book of Acts, and the Epistles all unfold in a Roman environment. Daniel mentions by name Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and God's final kingdom, while the New Testament openly names Rome, the power that arises after Greece and dominates the world during the time of Christ and afterward.
Look up these texts (Matt. 22:17, Luke 2:1, Luke 3:1, John 11:48, Acts 25:21). Which empire is clearly depicted as the dominant power?
Notice in Luke 2:1 that "all the world" should be taxed. Only a world power could tax all the world. How interesting, too, that Daniel 7:23 says that the fourth beast will "devour the whole earth"; that is, the fourth beast is obviously a world empire, such as Rome.
Read Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20, 21. What event is Jesus talking about here?
In the context of the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Romans, Jesus linked the Roman Empire to the book of Daniel. Jesus, therefore, not only points to Rome but places it within Daniel itself. Phrasing linked to "the abomination of desolation" spoken of by Jesus, in reference to Daniel, occurs three times in Daniel (Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11). Thus, Jesus links the Roman Empire to Daniel, making it even more obvious that Rome is that great power that arises in Daniel 2, 7, and 8, after Greece and extends to "the end."
Though Daniel doesn't name Rome, the New Testament does. Thus, following the Protestant formula of the Bible being its own interpreter, we find all four empires depicted in Daniel named in the Bible.
|Look at how clear and unambiguous these prophecies are. How could the Lord have made it any easier for us to believe? And yet, we so often struggle with faith. Why is that so, and what things can you do on a daily basis to help keep away doubt?|
The Two Little Horns
In both Daniel 7 and Daniel 8, a little-horn power figures prominently. A comparison of their characteristics not only shows that they are the same power but helps fortify our position on just what that power is. A lot of information is given about these little horns, more details about them than any of the other major kingdoms depicted. This should tell us two things: (1) These little horns obviously symbolize an important power in the prophetic history of the world, and (2) the Lord wants us to know for sure just what power these represent.
Below we will look at similarities between the two little horns. As you study these characteristics and similarities, think about how these characteristics help affirm us in our interpretation of this power:
1. Both are depicted by the same symbol, a horn (Dan. 7:8, 20; 8:9).
2. Both are persecuting powers (Dan. 7:21, 25; 8:10, 24).
3. Both are self-exalting and blasphemous (Dan. 7:8, 20, 25; 8:10, 11, 25).
4. Both target God's people (Dan. 7:25, 8:24).
5. Both have aspects of their activity delineated by prophetic time (Dan. 7:25; 8:13, 14).
6. Both extend until the time of the end (Dan. 7:25, 26; 8:17, 19).
7. Both will be supernaturally destroyed (Dan. 7:11, 26; 8:25).
When you have two powers represented by the same prophetic symbol and who carry out the same basic actions in the same time slot in the flow of visions, it seems more than obvious that we are talking about the same power. Also, considering the descriptions of this power, the burden of proof lies heavily on those who interpret this power as anything other than Rome.
|What Bible prophecies have been especially helpful in establishing your faith? Why not review them again? The more you go through them, the more they will encourage you. Why not share them with someone who might need some encouragement now?|
The Rome Factor
However obvious the identification of that final earthly power, the question arises, Why wasn't it named? How much easier it would be and how much futile and false speculation would have been saved had it simply been named as were Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and God's final kingdom. As mentioned earlier (see lesson 3), some claim that Rome wasn't named because Daniel simply recounted history that already happened as opposed to predicting it before it unfolded. In other words, the accounts of the lions' den, the fiery furnace, and the dreams and visions were fables. As we've already seen, that's a false and bankrupt idea.
Read the following texts (Dan. 12:4, 9; Matt. 13:10-13; Luke 10:24; John 16:12; 2 Pet. 1:19). What idea is conveyed here about the timing in which the Lord reveals certain truths to His people?
As the above texts show, God doesn't reveal all truth to all people at once. Light is often given in a progressive manner; more and more truth unfolds in accordance with God's perfect timetable.
Maybe, then, Rome isn't directly named not because Daniel wasn't able to tell the future but because the Lord knew that Rome would be in sole control of the Scriptures for centuries and that had the leaders in Rome seen the empire distinctly named, particularly in such a bad light, they could have destroyed the Scriptures or the book of Daniel. As it was, not sure what it was talking about, they could give the text identities other than itself. Meanwhile, the Lord kept that identity hidden, knowing that He would at the right time raise up people, the Protestant Reformers, who would discover the true identity of the little-horn power. (Daniel does say that his words would be "closed up and sealed till the time of the end" [Dan. 12:9].) Many of the Reformers did, indeed, see Rome in that role!
In fact, Jews who lived during the time of the Roman Empire would often interpret these same prophecies like this: Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, andEdom. Why Edom? Because, afraid of the Romans, the Jews hid the interpretation, something that the Lord in His divine providence and foresight did hundreds of years earlier in Daniel itself.
|What lessons can we learn here about how we need to deal delicately with people? In our zeal to be honest, how can we also be prudent and not say things, though perhaps true, that others might not yet be ready to hear?|
The Date of Daniel
In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first" (Dan. 8:1).
According to the above text, at what time in history did the prophet Daniel live?
As we've seen, the prophecies in Daniel provide powerful evidence not only for the existence of God but for the validity of the Scriptures as God's Word. Thus, from the earliest days of the Christian church, opponents have sought to undermine, even destroy, confidence in the Scriptures, especially the prophecies. As we said earlier, one attempt was to claim that Daniel was not written in the time frame in which it places itself but many centuries later, a position we as Seventh-day Adventists emphatically reject. Unfortunately, we are among a small number of Christians who do so.
Read the following texts: Daniel 1:1, 2:1, 7:1, 8:1, 9:1. In what time frame does the book of Daniel date itself? What conclusion can one draw about the position of those who, despite this clear testimony, nevertheless insist that the book of Daniel was written many centuries later? See also Isa. 55:11, Mark 15:28 [Not in NIV], John 17:17, Acts 1:16.
Directly tied with this attempt to date the book of Daniel centuries after it dates itself is the attempt to link the identity of the little horn in Daniel 8 with an ancient Greek ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes. Most students today accept this interpretation; almost any modern commentary will use that interpretation. As we'll see, it cannot possibly be correct. Many who accept this interpretation do so not realizing the rationale behind it, which is that Daniel was not written when it says it was but much later. Either way, because this view is prevalent, we need to look at it.
|What are other ways in which our faith in the Scriptures can be undermined, either overtly or subtly? More important, what steps can you take to defend yourself against anything that can, bit by bit, weaken your trust in the veracity and inspiration of the Bible?|
Read Daniel 8:5-8, the vision of the he-goat, and then Daniel 8:21, 22, Gabriel's interpretation of the he-goat. According to the prophecy, what was the fate of the he-goat?
History bears testimony to the amazing accuracy of this prophecy. The he-goat, of course, was ancient Greece, and after the death of Alexander the Great, the empire split apart, for a time, into "four kingdoms" (Dan. 8:22) under four generals. One of the kingdoms was the Seleucid, which lasted from about 301 B.C. until about 146 B.C. Among these kings, one was named Antiochus Epiphanes. He was the eighth Seleucid king (175-164 B.C.); twenty more followed after him. Through the conquests of his predecessors, he, for a short while attained control of Judea, defiled the temple in Jerusalem for about three years, and persecuted the Jews. He died, apparently from natural causes, in a later campaign (164 B.C.) after being driven out of Jerusalem. He is the one who most interpreters believe is the little horn.
1. The Medo-Persian ram became "great" (vs. 4); the Grecian goat "very great" (vs. 8); the little horn became "exceeding great" (vs. 9). How does this description and comparison of empires automatically disqualify Antiochus as the little horn?
2. According to Daniel 8:17, 19, 26, the prophecy dealt with end-time things, and the little horn was the last power presented in the vision. Because he died in 164 B.C., why can Antiochus not be the little horn?
3. According to Daniel 8:25, the little horn would be "broken without hand," a phrase we saw earlier thatthrough parallelism with Daniel 2:34, 45depicted a supernatural, cataclysmic destruction. Why, given what's written above about his demise, does Antiochus not fit again?
Despite the evidence (and there's more) against Antiochus, Adventists are almost alone in the Christian world in our position opposed to that interpretation. What does this tell us about our need to stand firm in our beliefs, despite a majority of voices against our position? In what other ways do you have to stand firm for a position that is not popular?
|Another attempt to make the impossible fit of Antiochus centers around
the argument concerning the origin of the little horn in
8:8, 9. "Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong,
the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the
four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which
waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward
the pleasant land." Arguing for Antiochus, some say that the little horn
arose from one of the "four notable ones," meaning the nations that arose
after the death of Alexander the Great. That would be, they claim, Antiochus,
The argument falls apart on a few grounds. First, the word them in the last phrase of verse 8 refers not to "four notable ones" but "four winds of heaven." Immediately after, the text says that out of "one of them" came forth a little horn. One of what? The closest phrase is "the four winds of heaven," the obvious choice. (Some argue that horns grow out of horns, not winds, though when was the last time anyone ever saw a horn grow out of another horn?)
Second, Hebrew grammar, with feminine and masculine nouns, works very well linking the "one of them" with the "four winds of heaven"; it doesn't work at all linking it with the "notable ones."
|Why are these issues so important? What difference does it make? As a class, discuss this point: If, for instance, the little-horn power were Antiochus, then the whole prophecy of Daniel 8 would have been fulfilled and completed about one hundred fifty years before Christ. If so, what would that mean for us, as Seventh-day Adventists? Why do you think that the vast majority of the Christian world today holds to such an erroneous view of the little horn?|
|I N S I D E Story|
|Standing for God
In some parts of western Africa, choosing to convert to Christianity in these areas can be, literally, a matter of life and death. Amo* is a Fulani, part of a semi-nomadic tribe of cattle herders. One evening as he walked through his village, he heard someone speaking through a loud speaker. Curious, he approached the source of the broadcast and found a few people listening to a man talking about Jesus. Amo kept his distance, knowing that even being seen near a Christian could mean trouble. But the speaker's message drew him to listen, so he stood a safe distance away and absorbed the speaker's message. That message touched off a battle for Amo's heart.
Every night the Global Mission pioneer presented a message of God's love. When he spoke about the Sabbath, Amo was surprised, for he had discovered references to the Sabbath in his religion's holy book. He wanted to ask a religious teacher about it, but he feared the consequences. However when he listened to the pioneer describe the Sabbath, he was thrown into turmoil. He remembered that his holy book pronounces a curse on Sabbath breakers. But he knew of no faithful follower of his religion who kept the Sabbath. What should he do?
When the pioneer invited those who would follow God and keep His Sabbath to come forward, Amo stepped out of his hiding place and walked to the front of the crowd. He knew that his decision could cost his life, but he felt an unspeakable inner peace.
Your mission offerings help share the good news about Jesus in difficult areas such as Amo's country.
Amo is a pseudonym. Charlotte Ishkanian is editor of Mission.
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