Daniel: Monotony or Wonder—Sameness or Change?

A few years ago, I was sitting in the cafeteria at the Lutheran Theological Seminary (Menighetsfakultetet) in Oslo ahead of a meeting of the New Testament Scholars’ Fellowship. This is a loosely knit group of about fifty New Testament scholars from all over Norway. It was not a matter of course that I should be there. Although I consider myself a New Testament scholar, I do not have an institutional affiliation in Norway. Connections help, however. The wife of the brother of the leading Pauline scholar in Norway has been an intern at the medical ward where I have been service chief. She and I are friends. One thing led to another. When I was invited to join the New Testament Fellowship, the reason was scholarship more than nepotism (I hope), but the connection did not hurt.

Upon learning that I am a Seventh-day Adventist, one of the professors at the table made the comment, “You Adventists are very fond of the Book of Daniel.” It was not said as a compliment, but I cannot say that the professor was misinformed. Adventists take an interest in Daniel that is well above average. The fact that the global church will study Daniel again for the first quarter of 2020 will not prove him wrong. Perhaps the professor was hinting that healthy, “normal” churches look elsewhere. If so, I was guilty as charged because I have done several evangelistic series with Daniel as the lead voice.

While the professor’s slightly condescending view of Daniel could be legitimate criticism for the way we use Daniel, I ascribe his comment to prejudice. I am not thinking primarily of his view of the Adventist community. I am thinking of his view of Daniel, first, and of apocalyptic, second. The Study Guide for this quarter goes out of its way to say that Daniel is an apocalyptic book. I take this to mean that the lesson authors feel ownership in both regards: we value Daniel, and we see no need to distance ourselves from the apocalyptic sentiments there or elsewhere in the Bible. The prejudice of the Norwegian professor (if I heard him correctly) could therefore be twofold—that Daniel is a second-rate book and that apocalyptic is second-class theology.

Apocalyptic as “the Mother of Christian Theology”

The Protestant tradition does not feel at home in the thought world of apocalyptic or in the books classified as apocalyptic. Ernst Käsemann created shock waves when he—almost sixty years ago—declared that “apocalyptic was the mother of all Christian theology.” The mother, mind you, not a bastard or an illegitimate child! “It was apocalyptic which first made historical thinking possible within Christendom,” said Käsemann. A few years later, Klaus Koch wrote a book that got the English title, The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic. The title is an admission that something had been lost (apocalyptic), but the English title is insipid compared to the German original, Ratlos vor der Apokalyptik. “Ratlos” in German means “bewildered” or “confused” or “lost.” This describes the state of mind in which the “rediscovery” of apocalyptic found New Testament scholars at the time. They did not know what to do! They were at a loss because, in Käsemann’s words, they discovered that the tributary (apocalyptic) was the main stream!

The “rediscovery” upended established conventions. Take the letters of Paul, for instance. J. Christiaan Beker (Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought, 1980) wrote that Paul’s language is “the apocalyptic language of Judaism, in which he lived and thought.” He said that “the coherent center of Paul’s gospel . . . is a Christian apocalyptic structure of thought.” He insisted that “Paul’s gospel does seem welded to the apocalyptic world view.” Ha added that “far from considering the apocalyptic world view a husk or discardable frame, Paul insists that it belongs to the inalienable core of the gospel.” In fact, he said, “Paul is an apocalyptic theologian with a theocentric outlook.”

It is necessary to distinguish between apocalyptic thought and apocalyptic as a literary genre and apocalyptic prophecy, but this distinction does not obliterate the connection between Daniel and the apostle Paul. While thought and genre go hand in hand in Daniel, we make strides when we realize that the thought world of Paul is apocalyptic. Beker says in a follow-up book (1982) that Paul has four “apocalyptic motifs” at the “coherent center” of his gospel. “These four motifs are vindication, universalism, dualism, and imminence.”

Vindication means that a seemingly lost cause will triumph. The horizon against which the vindication plays out is creation, not only the history of Israel. In apocalyptic thought, eschatology echoes protology; the end mirrors the beginning (as in Revelation). J. Louis Martyn mastered the apocalyptic element in Paul even better than Beker. He showed that when Paul is under pressure, he discards a linear view of history for one that is punctiliar (Gal. 3:16). That is, he jumps from Abraham straight to Christ, bypassing Isaac and the whole history of Israel. Only someone steeped in apocalyptic possibilities could make such a move—and get away with it!

Universalism means that the whole world is the horizon. Sentiments of universalism are not unique to the apocalyptic outlook, but the apocalyptic mindset takes it for granted. God has a plan for the world when he calls Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Isaiah is a persistent voice of inclusion (Isa. 11.1-10; 42:1-9; 49:1-9). Apocalyptic, however, is more consistently whole-world-oriented than either of these. We see it in Daniel’s four empires, and we see it in Revelation’s vision of new creation. But we see it in Paul, too, the apocalyptic Paul, as apostle to the Gentiles and missionary to the world. Israel-centered or Jerusalem-centered preoccupations are reconfigured into a global vision.

Dualism has two meanings. First, there is temporal dualism. Apocalyptic perceptions draw a line through time that cuts it into two: the old age and the age to come. These “ages” are “worlds” or “aeons.” While the new aeon will not be fully seen until the second coming of Jesus, it is here already. From where I sit today, in Loma Linda, California, the great fracture in time is not future but past. The New Age began with the revelation of God in Christ.

Second, there is cosmic dualism. While texts in the Old Testament are aware of a conflict between good and evil, personified evil is much more apparent in books influenced by apocalyptic perceptions. Take Daniel as an example, in words spoken by an angelic figure that most likely was Gabriel, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Dan. 10:13). This is apocalyptic-strange, but it reflects the cosmic struggle that the apocalyptic understanding of the world takes for granted.

Imminence needs no explanation—the end is upon us, upon the world. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” is born of the apocalyptic vision (Mark 1:15)—a vision of a kingdom near and a kingdom here. We are not surprised to find this in Mark, but we find it in the Gospel of John, too, a book no less apocalyptic than Mark. “I know that Messiah is coming,” says the woman at the well to Jesus. “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us” (John 4:25). Her surprise could not be bigger. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you’” (John 4:26). There is a second story like it, now in Bethany, near Lazarus’ tomb. “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day,” Martha says of her deceased brother (John 11:24). Hope is deferred, resurrection is a future possibility—is it not so? It is—and it isn’t. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26).

We have in these texts a world transformed by apocalyptic perceptions, and the apocalyptic perception is the new reality. H. H. Rowley said it well—before apocalyptic was “rediscovered” in biblical studies. “The prophets foretold the future that should arise out of the present, while the apocalyptists foretold the future that should break into the present” (The Relevance of Apocalyptic, 1944). Paul D. Hanson (The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 1975) says that apocalyptic had a mother and a father. Both were Jewish; the child was not born out of wedlock. Mother was Prophecy, Father was Apocalyptic. “Mother taught that their nation’s God, Yahweh, acted on behalf of the oppressed within the events of history, a teaching which she (the child) found hard to accept as she grew amidst events which seemed to deny either God’s power, or his concern for the oppressed, or both.” The point is this: Mother’s outlook was wearing thin.

At that point, Father comes to the rescue. “Father’s belief seemed more plausible, namely, that history belonged to a fallen order which would be supplanted on the day when Yahweh acted to save his people” (Hanson, 1975, pp 402-3). This is apocalyptic, God breaking into history with an action that is radical, revelatory, and discontinuous even though it brings long deferred promises to fulfilment.

A Daniel All Too Familiar

Back to the professor’s comment at the Lutheran Seminary in Oslo. “You Adventists are very fond of the Book of Daniel,” he said.

What did I answer?

I probably said, “Yes, that is true.” I might even have said, “Yes, unfortunately we are too fond of it.”

Today, as I write this, I wish I had said, “I would that were true. I would that we were fond of Daniel and its apocalyptic sentiments. And I would that you, the Lutheran community, would become fond of this book and the apocalyptic understanding of reality.”

I don’t think it is a bad idea to study Daniel again even though this book is statistically the clear winner among Sabbath School topics over the past twenty years. The claim that Daniel is an apocalyptic book is also readily defended. The Quarterly puts it like this:

The prophetic visions recorded in the book of Daniel are of a different nature than most prophetic messages delivered by other Old Testament prophets. Daniel’s prophecies belong to the category of apocalyptic prophecy, whereas most of the other Old Testament prophecies belong to the category of classical prophecy. An understanding of the basic difference between these prophetic genres is crucial for a correct understanding of biblical prophecy (SSQ, 7).

The Quarterly explains that apocalyptic prophecies are peculiar for phenomena like visions and dreams, composite symbolism (animals, monsters), and divine sovereignty and unconditionality. “In apocalyptic prophecy God reveals the rise and fall of world empires from Daniel’s day to the end of time,” we read. “This kind of prophecy rests on God’s fore­knowledge and sovereignty and will happen regardless of human choices” (SSQ, 7). “In contrast to classical prophe­cies, whose fulfillment is often dependent on human response in the context of God’s covenant with Israel, apocalyptic prophecies are unconditional” (SSQ, 7).

I have no quarrel with this except to say that the contrast between conditional and unconditional deserves a longer discussion. The lesson author believes that the classical prophets made conditional prophecies, but many Protestants and members of the US Congress think that these prophecies, too, are unconditional. Belief in the State of Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy is largely based on non-apocalyptic visions in the Bible and is a factor in US foreign policy. I am curious to learn what members in my Sabbath School community will say about the alleged unconditional character of so-called apocalyptic prophecy.

These are minor matters, however. They matter less than my three reasons for saying that Adventists love apocalyptic sentiments a lot less than we project.

First, we may be fond of Daniel, but we are less eager to embrace the full range apocalyptic sentiments in the Bible. When the SSQ uses the term “apocalyptic prophecy,” it seems to apply it narrowly and selectively. We have predictions that are unconditional and time-specific quite apart from the apocalyptic sentiments that run like the Amazon River through the gospels and the letters of Paul. What is the theological tenor of the kingdom that breaks into history according to “apocalyptic prophecy”? Does the seer know? Is the stone that crushes the image in Daniel 2 an instrument of violence? Nebuchadnezzar throws Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into the fiery furnace, intending to burn them alive. Is this a parallel to how God treats those who disobey him, as the Christian narrative imagines it? Or is it a contrast?

These are questions for the present quarter, but I have a broader concern. What happened to apocalyptic in the other books we have studied during the past twenty years? We have studied Romans and Galatians twice and the Gospel of John once. Were students made aware of the conspicuous apocalyptic character of these books? Were we disabused of the misconception that apocalyptic sentiments are confined to Daniel and Revelation? Did we encounter the apocalyptic Paul and the apocalyptic John, both of whom use the language of apocalypse for their most important claims (Gal. 1:12; 2:2; 3:23; Rom. 1:17; 3:21, 25; 14:24; John 1:18;12:20-41; 14:8-9)? Have Seventh-day Adventists been kept in the dark with respect to the way readings of Romans and Galatians are transformed when the apocalyptic foundation is restored to its rightful place?

Second, what does it help to play up “apocalyptic prophecy” in our exposition of Daniel when we ignore the transforming impact of apocalyptic in matters close at hand? Rowley says that the classical prophets believed in a gradual, continuous path to the kingdom of God. The apocalyptic visionary replaced that vision with one that was dramatic and discontinuous. He or she did not see a kingdom emerging from within history but one breaking into history from outside (cf. the stone in Daniel 2). And yet the Seventh-day Adventist community has for twenty-five years been consumed by the quest for institutional continuity and sameness. I am referring to the spectacularly anti-apocalyptic sentiments on the question of women’s ordination. Here, our alleged love of apocalyptic possibilities cooled to become a heart of stone. It culminated in San Antonio in 2015, when a movement claiming to be apocalyptic jeered the past president of the General Conference for a point of view that—for want of better terminology—arose from the most basic ABC of biblical apocalyptic. In the years since, we have had further proof that the volcanic eruption of apocalyptic in Scripture has been reduced to the hardened lava of institutionalized church policy. The leap of apocalyptic became the limp of institutional sameness. The loud cry will remain the low cry until we let the liberating influence of apocalyptic be felt in the call to ministry and service. We have noticed, haven’t we, that the most telling moments of apocalypse in the Gospel of John happen in Jesus’ encounters with women (John 4:25-26; 11:23-27; 20:11-18)? This is the apocalyptic substrate from which loud cries are born.

Third, Daniel is a strangely political book. We have an empire on the march when Nebuchadnezzar conquers surrounding nations. We have foreigners brought into government service. We have notions of the rule of law or the lack of it when Nebuchadnezzar issues his decrees with no risk to himself and when Darius is tricked into making a decree that he is obligated to obey. We have visions of the world in a declining trajectory, all the way to feet of iron and clay. Will the politics of the book be limited to what they did in their time and their place? Their place was Babylon and Persia. The names of their place are now Iraq and Iran. It cannot escape notice, can it, that these two countries have been on the front pages of the world’s concerns for the past twenty years? Much of Iraq was reduced to rubble. Another war may be in the making, this one against Iran. Can we limit our conversation to what happened then and leave out what happens now? Is there a place for discussion not only what they did—then or now—but also what we have done to them? There was a Nebuchadnezzar in their time? Is there one in ours? There were court sycophants in their time. Do we have court sycophants now? We are impressed by commitments of principle in their time. Do we have voices of principle in ours—as witness or whistleblower?

I say this mostly in the hope that our study of Daniel this quarter will give us more than we are used to saying and restore to the book what we have not yet seen or felt. I say it also because the book originated in my wife’s home country, in Babylon, one hundred kilometers from where she grew up.

“You Adventists are fond of the Book of Daniel,” said the professor.

I wish I had answered, as I do now, “I would that we were.”

Sigve Tonstad is Professor of Theology at Loma Linda University's School of Religion.

Photo supplied by the author: Serena Hasso Tonstad in front of the Ishtar Gate now in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. The post-war chaos in her country of birth makes it unlikely that she will ever be able to go back.

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10126
5 Likes

Thank you Professor Tonstad.

As a Sabbath School teacher, as a woman, as a student of prophecy, I couldn’t agree more with the premise of your poignant and timely article.

The last time we studied Daniel was third quarter 2004, and Revelation a year ago. It has been my observance and contemporaneous notes that belief in the truths of apocalypse are fading. Class discussions exhibit either mass confusion, outside beliefs, lack of study, political correctness, (as well as a lack thereof), bigotry, racism, and misogyny are all present instead.

As a SS teacher, I do my best to keep the apocalyptic theme viable in most every lesson I teach per quarter. It’s the old guard responsibility as a Seventh-day Adventist, at least it used to be.

As a woman, I have brought up the historical fact that every time women’s issues arose in antiquity, such as the Sabine women, Lucretia, and Virginia, (to mention a few), political change was imminent. We have such issues today.

As a naturalist, we are witnessing vast global environmental devastation, as we are currently seeing with the bushfires in Australia, where 480 million species of flora and fauna have perished since September. But few want to hear it in class because they had rather debate the science, whether climate change is man-made or not, and the prophecy, and the warnings are lost in the metaphorical flames.

Here we are in the New Year 2020, and we are once again on the same history page as Germany a century ago. The new rise of populist, nationalist, white supremacist ideals are rising at unprecedented levels. The anti-Semitic attacks in America alone are frightening—one other away from Seventh-day Adentism, no? Yet, listen to the anti-Semitic tropes stated in class on one hand, and on the other, accusations of the same when quotes from Scripture, or White, or the prior controversial Uriah Smith’s Daniel and Revelation are used. (Personally this book should be brought back as example of our SDA history, for there is wisdom within Smith’s pages). Not to mention elders in the church who speak with a tongue of anti-Christ saying: “Christ is not needed for salvation.” All signs.

And yes, ancient Babylon and Persia. Iraq and Iran are on the world’s stage with potentially dire consequences ahead. One could add to the actors Russia (Greece), and Turkey, and if we’re paying attention…Rome ( we’ve heard a lot of Latin lately “quid pro quo”).

Listen, my point in this rambling reply is this…we have not kept the words of counsel. We have strayed from keeping our history and the apocalypse before the people for whatever reason, it matters not…we have failed. Are we not the keepers of prophecy? Are we not the keepers of the faith? Are we not the watchers? Or are we just another backsliding people? How few of us hold dear the truths? To quote Jacques Doukhan in his book Secrets of Daniel: “For in this book, beauty is truth…”, and “…truth as something to be understood.”

Professor, your words give me cold comfort, implying that I’m not alone, yet realizing how few there are who have the “desire of ages.”

Happy New Year everyone. May we remember Him…

6 Likes

My understanding has been that the fulfillment of prophecy is dependent on the response of humankind but the fulfillment of apocalyptic is inevitable regardless of human choice. I can therefore understand the SS lesson pamphlet taking the view that Daniel is apocalyptic. But SDAs have always overlooked the fact that the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 9 was dependent on the response of the Hebrew nation, therefore it is not apocalyptic. The fulfillment of Daniel 9 was dependent on the Hebrew nation “finishing transgression and making an end of sins and making reconciliation for iniquity…” It is a conditional prophecy. The question needs to be asked, Did the Hebrews fulfill their obligations? A study of the inter-testamental period shows they failed miserably therefore the prophecy cannot be expected to be fulfilled. SDAs have never excelled in the history of the inter-testamental period. They give it a blind eye because it utterly destroys their interpretations. It is a pity the SS lessons get off on the wrong foot in the first week.

6 Likes

In the last century, while directing the religious studies program at an SDA institution of higher education, I inherited the standard Adventist curriculum for our degree program that included required courses on the books of Daniel and Revelation. Looking at the syllabi for these courses and recalling my own student days in an Adventist college and seminary, I realized that these were not typical courses in biblical studies. Unlike such courses, the expected questions of authorship, date, genre, provenance, integrity, author and reader expectations, context, historical location, theology, etc. received little or no attention. Instead, they focused almost exclusively on intricate, large-scale, and often controversially interpreted time prophecies read in the hindsight of Adventist historical experiences and theological characteristics. Although dissatisfied with these traditional courses, I knew that we could not simply eliminate their topics in the curriculum of an Adventist religious studies program designed to prepare clergy for the Church. So, I convinced the faculty to take the following actions: (1) to eliminate the courses on Daniel and Revelation; (2) to create a course on SDA theology to explore theological issues unique to Adventists or especially characteristic of them, (3) to incorporate the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel and Revelation into the SDA theology course, (4) to include the survey of introductory issues—e.g., date, authorship, etc., as noted above—regarding Daniel and Revelation in the respective courses on introduction to the Old and New Testaments, and (5) to develop a course on apocalyptic to explore the biblical and other apocalyptic literature and the politics and theology of that phenomenon.

12 Likes

You have made an obvious observation. The reason why necessary preliminary questions about Daniel and Revelation in Adventist institutions “receive little or no attention” is not difficult to detect. If questions of authorship, date, genre, provenance, integrity, author and reader expectations, context, historical location, theology, etc." were carefully considered the traditional Adventist allegorical interpretation of the text as clues to dubious historical events would collapse. The canonization of the apocalyptic hermeneutic of a nineteenth century farmer, and the rejection of the advances in biblical studies achieved since then only makes the reading of Daniel and Revelation incomprehensible in the twenty first century. There is a reason why 70% of Adventist young people are no longer interested in the church of their childhood.

11 Likes

So I would say you are not convinced the typical SDA interpretation is correct?

1 Like

The Book of Daniel does not hold that its prophecies are unconditional. Despite the book’s overriding motif–the sovereignty of God–we see human contingency at work. If Belshazzar had “humbled” his heart (5:22), then the head of gold that is Babylon would have continued in power, perhaps indefinitely, conditioned upon the kingdom’s obedience to God. The tree that is Nebuchadnezzar would not have been chopped down, as per the prophecy, if he had become righteousness and shown mercy to the poor (4:27).

Daniel resolves not to defile himself with the king’s food and drink, despite the command that he do so. The faithful Hebrews do not bow to the gold obelisk, despite the command that they do so. Daniel chooses to remain faithful to God, despite the king’s law, which cannot be changed. Royal commands and laws that cannot be changed do not predestine us. Neither do prophecies, notwithstanding the sovereignty of God. As a matter of hindsight, some prophecies may appear to be unconditional, but those prophecies were fulfilled because implicit conditions were met.

4 Likes

Daniel has also been on high rotation for the children’s Sabbath school lessons. The powers that be must want our kids to be confused by prophecy from an early age. Or, become accustomed to simplistic, self-referential explanations.

8 Likes

In our “Destination SS Class,” now 30 years old, with an attendance of an average of 50-70 people, teachers take turns, doing mostly one lesson every quarter. When the superintendent asked me in December which week I wanted to teach, I declined. I told him that I don’t feel qualified or educated enough to teach Daniel, Revelation, or Job. Rain check, I can do two weeks the next quarter. He understood…

4 Likes

Maybe he accidentally read the Book of Hebrews and may have problems with the “typical SDA interpretation” of Dan. 8:14 since. Not sure, just sayin’…
@waten

3 Likes

Sigve, the word ‘apocalypticism’ is for many, me as well, a highly ambigiuos term. Traditionally, in the nineteenth century, when Adventism was in its formation - the ‘Christian era’ of the Second Great Awakening’ - the term ‘apocalypticism’ had mostly a theological character of the ‘final solution’, ‘the endgame’, ‘the end of all things’, as if the intolerableness of human historical existence had become so bad, that, in Moltmanns words: «better a terrifying end than this endless terror».

In the following century, WW1 annilihated the ‘apocalyptic dreams’ of England, Germany, Russia, France, and the Ottoman Empire. In WW2, the dreams of a ‘final solution’ became a historical apocalyptic nightmare of annihiliation for the Jews.

Post-Holocaust, how can apocalyptic (Christian) theologies ever be rehabilitated? Not to speak about the classical Christian theodicy. To me, the Jewish notion of ‘messianism’ and ‘Exodus’ are better ways to think, both historically and theologically, about the ‘Kingdom of God’, than apocalypticism. A ‘beginning’, not an ‘end’, or the ‘end’ as a ‘beginnig’?

3 Likes

Seemed like he went around the issue that he would have had to teach to a more acceptable version.
I could see several reason why he might have done it.
I do not believe the subject is relevant to salvation. SDA’s put WAY too much emphasis on the subject and so very little on personal relationship with with Jesus. We have the truth is mentioned most sabbaths in the small michigan church we attend it is almost more than my husband can stand. He was NOT raised SDA the whole concept of being SO right is foreign to him. But I am getting off subject.

7 Likes

Yes. And after the holocaust, what are the chances that the idea will survive of a god who personally intervenes and acts benevolently (or malevolently) in the lives of modern man?

2 Likes

Michael –
A great video [DVD] to watch is God On Trial. It was originally a
Broadway Play that was made into a movie.
Is located in one of the holocaust settings, men’s “dorm”. Certain
men were marked “right”, marked “left” in a line-up. It was done to
“thin out” the barracks the next day. But none told who were going,
who were staying. A new group came early from Poland. A “leader”
of the men in the barracks pushed to put God on trial for not keeping
His covenant with Israel.
A great play with a great message. Yes, at the end certain men were
marched to the gassing showers and the ovens.
But it is a story that speaks to everyone.

3 Likes

In the “From Reading To Understanding” site
the author, Youssry Guiguis, states that the Book of Daniel
IS ABOUT Christ.
The Stone in Chapter 2
The 4th person in the fiery furnace in Chapter 3
The Son of Man [the Human] in Chapter 7
The prince of the host in Chapter 8
The anointed one in Chapter 9
Michael in the last vision in Chapters 10-12

We as SDAs focus TOO much on the Beasts, the Images to be able to see
Christ.
The Judgment of the world – is the INVASION of the earth by God to
Liberate all humanity and the entire cosmos.
the evils of “EMPIRE” are contrasted with the Government of God.
And SDAs are built on one particular verse in Daniel.
But as George has said, the Book of Hebrews provides a different message
with different pictures.

2 Likes

That’s pretty much the message our Sabbath School teacher, who has a differing interpretation to lesson, was trying to encourage yesterday. Our personal relationship with Jesus is the most important thing.

3 Likes

Professor Tonstad,
I enjoy your article a lot, although certain points I did not well understand, yet many I did and helped me in the understanding of the topic you brought. I also think you are right in suggesting that SSQ has a narrow view of the apocalyptic prophetic message, yet they do present a lot of truth. I agree with your thought that many other books of the bible have an apocalyptic prophetic message, than just Daniel or Revelation. For example, Paul’s Man of Sin in 2 Thes 2, and Christ’s own apocalyptic message in Matthew 24.

A point you mentioned at the end called my attention, where you mentioned that both Irak(Babylon) and Medopersia(Iran) in our present history has events that may represent some apocalyptic prophetic fulfillment as I understood what you wrote here:

You said “We have visions of the world in a declining trajectory, all the way to feet of iron and clay. Will the politics of the book be limited to what they did in their time and their place? Their place was Babylon and Persia. The names of their place are now Iraq and Iran. It cannot escape notice, can it, that these two countries have been on the front pages of the world’s concerns for the past twenty years? Much of Iraq was reduced to rubble. Another war may be in the making, this one against Iran. Can we limit our conversation to what happened then and leave out what happens now? Is there a place for discussion not only what they did—then or now—but also what we have done to them and who is behind all these events as instigator?”

I do agree in your observations about Irak and Iran, and you are right we need not to stop there, we need to go further and identify the key true guilty parties, which is the the 4th empire of Daniel 7 identify as the last empire/Rome which is there shown as ruling to the end of the world around the 2nd coming of the Son of man/Jesus. Therefore according to the prophetic message Rome is still ruling in place, certainly during its later divided phase as Papal Rome. This simple fact of Papal Rome at the helm of the end-time prophetic events, certainly aided and abetted by its right hand USA (as the lamblike Beast of Revelation 13) can be understood as such with a detailed comparative study of present time of the end events as foretold in the prophetic message, both Daniel and Revelation, more detailed in Rev. 13 and 17.

THE REVIVED 7TH HEAD OF THE BEAST/PAPAL ROME: AKA BABYLON THE GREAT=NWO
Actually what we are seeing in the Middle East is part of the worldwide conquest and extension of the Papal Roman Empire, NWO, aka Babylon the Great ruling the kingdoms of the world, the revived 7th head of the beast, being aided and abetted by the lamblike beast of Rev. 13, USA.

(7/8 heads of the dragon/beast at the spiritual level symbolizes the different periods of the empire of the dragon/Satan. The specific heads at the earthly level represent the 4 empires of Daniel 7 as Rev 13:1-2 confirms, which under the rule of the Spiritual Dragon are the oppressors of God’s people/the Judeo-Christian believers during the different respective time periods. Rome allotted the last 5 heads, likely because of its many wounds and revivals).

Rev. 17:18 tells that Babylon the Great, the woman.beast or religious kingdom/Papal Rome
(also symbolized in Daniel 7 by the 4th.beast during the later times of its little horn) was to rule the whole world during the time of the end/our times (as per Rev. 17:1 describing the time of the vision as the time of the end, which is when her judgment was to take place, 1844ad to its end as the close of probation, and extending to the end, as the times of the plagues and 2nd coming rewards), and lately this has become evident.

This worldwide extension of the Papal Roman Empire is shown when we see how deeply her agenda influences, better yet more and more rules the whole world from the United Nations. Actually the launching of the revived empire of Papal Rome/Babylon the Great (the Revived 7th head of the beast), took place in 2015ad when all the nations of the world at the UN signed the “constitution” of Papal Rome’s Revived Empire which is the UN Agenda 2030! Her empire is also known as the New World Order, her many laws based in this green climate agenda hiding ulterior motives which are unveiled and described in the prophetic message. This is so much so, that it even included among the laws in the NWO/Papal Rome’s empire agenda is the worldwide green law of a “Green Sabbath keeping” likely The Sunday law, the same law we have known for quite a while Papal Rome was to sponsor. Yet this “Sunday law” is now cloaked in climatic concerns (some might say: “oh it is another day”, but the Pope himself is saying in his encyclical “Laudato si” and in his many oral commentaries, that he recommends Sunday rest, and this is what will be made into law according to the prophetic biblical understanding. Why am I mentioning all this? because there is much more happening that we need not to ignore:

Keep your eyes in the USA law hr9 Climate Action Now, decreed in the Spring of 2019ad as expected, which if passed will confirm the NWO/UN-Agenda 2030/Paris Climate Agreement and in so doing will fulfilled these 3 foretold key prophetic points=

  • USA in a permanent relationship with the empire of the beast/Papal Rome’s NWO,
  • USA becoming the policeman of the world for the NWO.Papal Rome’s empire,
  • and the establishment of the Sunday law here in USA and all over the world, hiding behind climatic concerns!

Apparently the Sunday law will be orchestrated by Papal Rome’s New World Order, and will be the key requirement for citizenship in her empire, to reject this NWO-Green Sunday Law will mean that the person will not be able to buy or sell, and all that this means!

We need to keep in mind, that Christ already conquered this power. And although Papal Rome is allowed to regain the powers she had previously lost, it is God who is still in control and He will protect His people during the ordeal is already at our doors. In the Rev. 17 this revived empire of Papal Rome is symbolized by a woman/church and beast/kingdom as one unit, we are told the woman is a beast, that is the church is a kingdom/Rev. 17:18, that is Babylon the Great is a religious kingdom, which comes to rule an empire, her empire also carries her name.

The name of this religious kingdom/woman.beast is Babylon the Great identified as Papal Rome (also aided by the vision of Daniel 8 and its timeline which identifies her as already at work during the mid ages). In Rev. 17:1 her revival (7th head) is described as coming to rule the whole world during the time of the end/our times.

(Note: given the prophetic message in Daniel 8 where its timeline identifies the little horn’s later religious phase as Papal Rome, same which is also symbolized as the beast or woman.beast of Revelation. Then this Babylon the Great, is not Irak’s Babylon… something like the city of “New York” is not the same city as the city of "York:).

Papal Rome’s religious Empire/NWO (a one world government/empire and one world religion/ecumenism, that is a worldwide religious empire), aka as Babylon the Great is described in Rev. 16, 17 and is there told to last a short time according to Rev. 17:12-13…

REWOUNDED 8TH HEAD OF THE BEAST or WOMAN.BEAST= HER DEFEAT AT ARMAGEDDON/7th plague =the defeat of the NWO/Papal Rome’s empire
Babylon the Great and her empire, is told to to last “1 hour” in Rev. 17:12-13. Why so? because Christ Himself will stop it soon thereafter, this to take place at the 7th plague, her defeat at Armageddon!

The Re-Wounded 8th head of the beast, going to her perdition, her end, as taking place at the 7th plague around Jesus 2nd coming. This is telling us that Christ’s 2nd coming is super imminent, less than “1 hour” away,

The implications of this understanding of the super imminent coming of Christ are many, but most of all will open our eyes of our need to be ready for the final judgment trial now taking place and follow-up 2nd coming of Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God as our Savior!!!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in the time of the feet. I live in the time of the rock.

The rock (Jesus) already arrived. And his kingdom is already there. The rock became a huge mountain and filled the earth. This mountain is a metaphor for God’s growing kingdom all around the world. It started with the rock and is now a huge mountain, like the temple mountain, containing God’s presence, his people, the new temple. The earthly kingdoms are not gone away, but shattered. They can never destroy the growing kingdom. A “growing” metaphor can not hint at the second coming, because it will be a complete makeover of all we’ve ever known. Jesus himself compared his kingdom, inaugurated at the cross, with a growing mustard seed that becomes a huge tree, the same idea as in the Daniel book. But there is a not-yet-part of his kingdom, and that one will also once be finished.

Hallelujah! The rock arrived, and with him his “mountain” kingdom.
Be blessed!

10 Likes

Just wondering if anyone has ever heard about any non-biblical source mentioning the fantastic stories told in Daniel, by Daniel.

2 Likes

Hello, I would disagree with your point re chapter 9. Which of the 6 actions mentioned in the angel’s revelation could have actually been accomplished by the Jewish nation (or for that matter, any other nation/group)? All 6 actions are expressed in the so called divine passive which could mean that these actare done on behalf of someone, but that is a side note…