10 "In the days of these kings"
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed ..." (Daniel 2:44). In the days of which kings? These oft-quoted words are of course about the kings represented by the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image. In the language of the parallel prophecy of Daniel 7, they are the ten horns of the fourth beast; and they are also the ten horns of the beast of Revelation 13 and 17.
The time of the prophecy is plainly stated — "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom". The 'toe' kingdoms are there when the kingdom of God is established. This means that this part of the 'image' prophecy is fulfilled at the end of the times of the Gentiles. This is in line with Revelation 17 where the ten horns (the same powers described by another symbol) make war with the Lamb. Clearly they are there when the Lord Jesus returns.
Politically and geographically, the centre of God's purpose is the land of Israel. Often forgotten by students of prophecy, this fact is highlighted by Moses:
"When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8).
Daniel also demonstrates that Israel occupies a central position in prophecies concerning the nations. It is common knowledge that when Alexander the Great died, his empire was divided into four parts — one part for each of his four generals. In the words of Daniel's prophecy:
"The rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power" (8:21,22).
Four kingdoms: yet only two of those four were important from the point of view of Israel — the kingdom of the Seleucids in the north, and the kingdom of the Ptolemies in the south. Israel was the buffer state that separated these two kingdoms: hence the references to the king of the north and the king of the south in Daniel 11. They were north of Israel and south of Israel. The prophecy almost ignores the other two of the four Grecian kingdoms.
This emphasis on Israel is also a feature of the 'image' prophecy of Daniel 2. That is why only two of the four sections of the divided Greek kingdom have a place in Nebuchadnezzar's image — the two thighs of brass. The other two kingdoms are completely ignored.
There are therefore good reasons for believing that the 'toe' kingdoms of the same image are to be viewed in an Israelitish context. Their location is in the Middle East. Indeed, one wonders whether those passages that speak of the downtreading of Jerusalem1 are to be understood in terms of Nebuchadnezzar's image, whose feet are trampling the holy city.
In any event, it would probably be wise to forget the interpretation that seeks to link the ten kings with the countries of the Common Market. They are too remote from Israel.
Clues from Daniel 7
Before pursuing the question of the identity of the ten kings, a reminder here of a startling conclusion that has already been discussed. Reasons have been given for believing that the final phase of the beast of Revelation is Israelitish. Or, to express it in the language of Daniel 7, the little horn is the militant, anti-christ element of Israel.
What then of the ten horns that arise at the end of the times of the Gentiles, and have an important connection with the land of Israel? A useful piece of information is provided in Daniel 7. It is that the relationship between the ten horns and the little horn is, in the first place, one of hostility:
"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots" (verse 8).
The implication would seem to be that the ten horns resent the intrusion of the little horn and wage war against it. However, the little horn is victorious, winning the battles and annexing the territory of three of the ten 'horn' kings.
Notice also that the little horn comes up among the other horns.
If the little horn is indeed Israelitish, here is another pointer to the conclusion that the ten horns are to be considered in an Israelitish context.
The following passage from the same chapter provides two further clues:
"And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings" (7:24). The clues are:
1. In this latter-day picture, the ten horns are there before the little horn — it "shall rise up after them".
2. From the fact that the little horn is "diverse from the others", it can be inferred that there is a common bond relating the ten horns — a bond that does not include the intruding little horn.
The little horn of Daniel 7 is also called the eighth head in Revelation 17. It will be recalled that the ten 'horn' kings make the beast, in its eighth head phase, "king of kings"; they "give their power . . . unto the beast".
By bringing together the information provided by Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 a more complete picture emerges. There is hostility between the ten horns and the little horn who has come into their midst as an unwelcome intruder. The ten declare war on the little horn, but are defeated. Three of the ten — presumably three of the nearest neighbours of the little horn — lose their independence and become subject to the overruling authority of the little horn. The remaining seven recognise a superior enemy and do not wait to be destroyed. On the principle, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", and also because there are other enemies whom they hate and fear, they all give their power to the beast.
Then other remarkable things happen. After submitting to the beast's leadership, the ten horns proceed to destroy the whore: "And the ten horns which thou sawest and (RV) the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled" (Revelation 17:16,17).
Kings and kings
It is important to distinguish between kings and kings. The ten horns who hate the whore are not the kings of the earth who have committed fornication with her (17:2), and who lament her destruction (18:9). Many kings have had a compromising relationship with the organisation symbolised by the great whore. They have enjoyed her favours and submitted to her direction. Not so the ten kings. For some reason they hate her and are satisfied with nothing less than her complete annihilation. Another clue to the identity of the ten kings!
All these marks of identification seem to point in one direction. The reader is asked to ponder the proposition that the ten horns are Arab kingdoms of the latter days.
The time of their emergence; their location; their relationship to each other; their hostility to Israel whose latter-day emergence as a kingdom occurs even later; their hatred of the whore — the unfaithful 'Christian' community: the marks of identification are impressive. The treaty with Israel that follows the period of hostility and war is yet to be fulfilled. This remarkable story may be unfolding before our eyes soon.
Psalm 83 is manifestly a psalm of the latter days. It tells of a conspiracy. A number of brother nations (most of them related to, or descended from, Abraham) conspire together against the people of Israel:
"Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance" (verse 4).
The confederate nations mentioned in the prophecy are these: Edom, Ishmael, Moab, Hagarenes, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistines, Tyrians, Assur. At the time when the psalm was written these nations surrounded Israel. Their territories are occupied today by people who are, for the most part, blood descendants of Abraham, and are called Arabs.
In Old Testament times the people of Israel were surrounded by these alien nations. When they were assailed by these nations, they were protected by God. The prophecy envisages a repetition of these circumstances and makes a plea that God will defend Israel as He did in ancient days.
The stage is set. Israel has again been planted in the midst of hostile nations who are dedicated to her destruction. The prayer of the psalmist has a great relevance today. The surprise element that this prophetic psalm does not mention (but certain other prophecies do!) is the fact (which we are witnessing today) that
the first phase of the subduing of Arab enemies involves the exploits of aggressive, antichrist elements in Israel. Daniel calls them the little horn; Revelation, the beast.
Is it just coincidence, do you think, that the names of the enemy nations catalogued in Psalm 83 add up to exactly ten, and that the "nations around" referred to in the prophetic-burden sections both of Isaiah and Jeremiah are approximately ten in number? Also there are approximately ten Arab states surrounding and threatening Israel in the Middle East today.
The final phase in the strange relationship between the ten horns and the beast is their united attempt to overthrow Christ (Revelation 17). Working back from this, the next to the last phase would therefore be their destructive campaign against the whore. The alliance between the beast and the ten kings would of course come before this. This implies that the threatening picture of Psalm 83 is still earlier on the divine programme.
The order of events relating to the ten (Arab) kings and the (Jewish) little horn may therefore be as follows (do not miss the implications of the word "may"):
1. The emergence of the Arab states in the latter days.
2. The re-birth of Israel in the midst of territory occupied by Arabs.
3. The hostility of the Arab states (the ten kings) to political Israel (the little horn). Psalm 83 relates to this phase, and it is also implied in Daniel 7:8. We ourselves have been witnessing, and are still witnessing this phase.
4. The conquest of some of the Arab kingdoms by Israel (referred to in Daniel 7:8). This could be thought of as the immediate, but not the ultimate response to the prayer of Asaph and the people of God (Psalm 83) who do not want to see Israel destroyed. Ironically, the Israel who is made strong by God to subdue her enemies is not herself a righteous, Godfearing nation. ("Not for your sakes . . .")
5. The treaty between the ten kings and the beast — between Arabs and Jews — after which the Arabs accept the leadership of Israel (Revelation 17:13).
6. The destruction of the 'whore' organisation — counterfeit Christianity —by Israel and the Arabs (Revelation 17:16,17).
7. The destruction of the rebellious Israel/Arab confederacy by the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 17:14).
The beast is the great enemy of the witnesses. Another item must therefore be fitted into the programme -- the witnessing of the two witnesses (who represent a company of saints) to Israel and other nations. This means a period of intense persecution for the saints — even for those who may not be included in the special "witness" category. The evidence for this has already been discussed. However, the question of where the prophecy of the two witnesses has to be placed in the above programme has yet to be resolved.
It was noted earlier that there is an impressive parallel between Revelation 11 (the chapter concerning the witnesses) and Revelation 13 (where more details are provided concerning the beast). It is evident from Revelation 13 that the beast is exceedingly powerful at the time when the saints are persecuted. This seems to imply that by this time the Arab 'horn' kingdoms have given their power to the beast. Which means that the prophecy of the two witnesses would come after item 5 in the above list. It would have to follow the occasion when the hitherto incompatible children of Abraham, the Jews and the Arabs, join forces.
It has been seen that an unregenerate Israel is destined to function as a divine battle-axe in the world. How does this happen? Could it not be that the nations come against Israel in support of the Arab States? Events seem to be moving in that direction right now. Powerful nations have already demonstrated their willingness to sell their consciences and discard their alleged principles for the sake of Arab oil.
This means that the uniting of the nations of the world against Israel must be linked with the hostility of the Arabs, and should be placed immediately after it on our list — between items 3 and 4. And what will be the consequences of this world opposition to Israel? Let Zechariah answer:
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it" (12:2,3). This is interesting. First there is a reference to the hostility of "the people round about"; then to "all the people of the earth". The opposition grows dramatically. Yet all who try to destroy
Jerusalem are confounded. God works through a nation that has yet to be humbled and purged of its rebels.
Where does Islam come into all this? Founded by Mahomet, a false prophet who was born nearly six hundred years after Christ, this religion of the Arabs is gaining ground rapidly today. Whereas many Jews treat the religion of their fathers with scant respect, the Arabs are fanatically loyal to Mahomet. One could never imagine the Arabs abandoning their religion when they unite with Israel. Instead, they could, perhaps, find a worthy place for their Jewish brethren of the latter days, within the framework of their religion. After all, they share the same father, Abraham, and the same antipathy to Christianity; and some of the great men of Israel are already given a place of honour in the Koran.
The two-homed beast of the earth — also called the false prophet — is the publicity organisation of the Israeli beast. Two horns: could they represent the interests of Jews and Arabs in this aggressive confederacy of the last days?
The repentance of a remnant
The repentance of Israel is also referred to in Zechariah 12:
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn" (verse 10).
It will, presumably, come as a result of the ministry of the witnesses and will concern a remnant. The issue will be of one of allegiance — to Christ or the beast.
Ezekiel 38 — a different prophecy
The confederacy of Ezekiel 38:2-6 (involving Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, Togarmah) is not to be equated with the ten kings. From Psalm 83, and from the relationship of the ten to Israel, as indicated in Daniel, it can be seen that these nations are descended from Shem, whereas the nations of Ezekiel 38 are descended from Japheth, as Genesis 10:2-4 reveals. The Gogian invasion comes later.
A fuller programme
Here, to conclude this chapter and the first section of this book, is a fuller programme — all submitted very tentatively, of course:
1. The emergence of the Arab states.
2. The re-birth of Israel in the midst of Arab territory.
3. The hostility of the ten (Arab) kings to Israel (the little horn).
4. Many nations support the Arabs and invade Israel.
5. A brief period of intense suffering for Israel — a "deadly wound".
6. Contrary to all human expectations, Israel defeats both the Arabs and the international army and annexes three Arab kingdoms — the deadly wound is healed.
7. The Arabs accept the leadership of Israel.
8. The ministry of the witnesses.
9. The repentance of a remnant in Israel.
10. The suppression of the witnesses by the beast.
11. The vindication of the witnesses.
12. The seventh trumpet — the Lord takes the kingdom and rules in the midst of his enemies.
13. Vial judgments on the beast organisation.
14. The destruction of "Babylon" by Israel and the Arabs.
15. The destruction of the rebellious Israel/Arab confederacy — the beast and the ten horns — by the Lord Jesus Christ.
16. Kingdom blessings in Israel.
17. The Gogian invasion and the annihilation of the Gogian host.
18. The kingdom extends to the rest of the world.
19. God is "all in all".
1. Luke 21.-24; Rev. 11:2