SHAPE OF THE FUTURE (4B)

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4 – WHERE ARE WE HEADED?

4-A. Merger – Two Separate Beasts Become One “Iron and Clay” Dominion
4-B. “The Kingdom Shall Be Divided”
4-C. Role of Technology in the Antichrist and False Prophet’s New World Order
4-D. What the Future Holds
         On the Political-Economic Level
         On the Religious Level

4-B.“The Kingdom shall be Divided

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation… If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (Luke 11:17-18) These Words of Jesus can apply to what Daniel noticed about the “iron and clay”“You saw iron mixed with the miry clay.” (Daniel 2:41,43A – RSV). Then he turns right around and says the opposite: “They will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” (verse 43B)

So how can we understand this paradox? If we backtrack a bit, when tracing the rise of the “clay” power in history (in the post “Rise of the Clay Power in the Modern Age”), we saw how the commercial forces have grown exceedingly strong during the last 500 years. Laissez-faire economics began to replace the long time traditional economics of mercantilism. There came a new independence to the domain of commercialism.

In ancient times the commercial empire of Phoenecia also had became quite strong and independent. But unlike her modern counterpart, she did not succeed in truly mixing with the metal powers of her day, especially Babylon and Greece. On the other hand, the new upcoming commercial empire has, over the last couple centuries, forged unbreakable ties with the “iron” forces of government and military.

But the collaboration is a matter of expediency. The Antichrist and the False Prophet promote contrasting forces – militarism and materialism (corresponding to “iron” and “clay”). These Beasts were symbolized (in Revelation 6) in a different way, as the “red horse” of war and the “black horse” of greed and materialism. Like the two “horses”, the two “beasts” are supposed to be on the same team. They also have a mutual interest in bringing on the collapse of the American empire so they can take over the world. It will be expedient then for these two forces to suppress their differences and unite.

As in most worldly kingdoms, trust is not the unifying factor; their “co-operation” depends on mutual interest and expediency and often has to be enforced through coercion, blackmail, deception, and war. Democratic countries will support military dictatorships (despite their ideological differences) in order to further their own agendas. (This was common, for example, among Latin American dictatorships that were being exploited by American conglomerates.) It’s a forced unity, a marriage of convenience. 

This tension or animosity exists, not just between countries, but inside countries – between military and civilian leaders, the generals and the businessmen, who would each like to control the other. This kind of situation did not exist in the empires of ancient times. Then, the seat of power rested, for the most part, firmly with the political-military establishment. And it was a uniform, strong, metallic type of rule.

But now in the End Time the power equations have changed. Although Rome was very “strong” in the “legs” (Daniel 2:40), her modern descendants have had to put up with the addition of this new element of “clay”. The history of the “fourth kingdom” has seen the republican dictatorship that characterized ancient Rome transformed into a new type of republican government where civilian and business leaders are calling the shots, and the military is kept at bay by them.

The “clay” power, instead of being overwhelmed by a metal kingdom (as ancient Phoenecia was), now has infiltrated the “iron” kingdom and exists on equal terms. “The kingdom shall be divided.” (v41) That is, the “fourth kingdom” of “iron”, as it moved on into modern times, has become “divided”; there exists now a sharing of power between the “iron” political-military forces and “clay” commercial forces.

”And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken.” (2:42-KJV)  The “fourth kingdom” of “iron” is still “partly strong.” (“Yet the strength of the iron shall be in it” – 2:41.) But because of the influence and interference of the “clay”, the “fourth kingdom”, which originally was “as strong as iron”, has become “partly broken”. (See Appendix for a closer look at this passage in Daniel 2.)

In a previous section (Post 3-F) we learned what happened during World War II. The two centers of power “mixed” and made an awful “mix-up” of things, bringing confusion and indecision into the halls of government. The commercial powerbrokers crippled the efforts of military strategists, with the result that World War II dragged on and ended with the triumph of atheist communism after the War.

In its subtle way, this “clay” element is bringing the world into submission – through its financial and media control. Although not a military power, it is capable of enforcing its rule – by instigating the other “iron” element to fight wars advantageous to its interests. “There shall be in it of the strength of the iron” - a not-so-subtle military strength that can pound a nation, or the world, into submission. In this way the “iron” forces are not entirely subservient to the forces of “clay” but can coerce the powers of big business to support and promote their cause.

So hopefully, this explains the paradoxical situation of why God pictured the “iron and clay” regimes as both “mixed” and “divided”. The two regimes abandon their rivalry and cooperate, just as the Antichrist and False Prophet beasts are seen to be cooperating in the Revelation 13 passage.

The world has been prepared already for this kind of forced partnership. Each country contains in itself the iron and clay government infrastructure; the military and the “merchants” exist in every country in uneasy partnership. Although obliged to cooperate, they do not “adhere to one another”. (Daniel 2:43) It is not a true unity – just a matter of expediency. Perhaps eventually, this will lead to some kind of breakdown in the internal unity of the Antichrist kingdom. But that is a little far in the future and difficult to speculate on right now.

But to shed some light on this peculiar political paradox of our modern times, there are some present day examples to consider. In May-June of 2014 Thailand experienced a coup d’état. As chaos and violence threatened to engulf the nation, the military took over the government in order to restore peace in the land. The eventual plan is to “restore democracy”. But it is interesting to note that, under the previous “democratic” regime, the nation was being run by a financial oligarch whose policies were causing discontent in the nation. Although billed in the Western press as a struggle between liberal democracy and military dictatorship, the struggle seems more like one between a “merchant” who was ruling (and perhaps misruling) the country and the “iron” military. It is an example of the “iron and clay” not able to “adhere one to another” although previously they did “mix”.

In Myanmar it was the opposite type of situation; a military dictatorship has ruled the country for decades. Because of this “iron”-only situation, the nation was being stifled, its economic growth stagnated. In recent times the military has decided to loosen its grip to allow more “democracy”. Not surprisingly, the corporations are starting to move in as the prospect of a new market and more profits becomes reality under the new government structure. Here again, we see the interplay of the forces of militarism and materialism – “iron and clay” – in this case trying to “mix” more than they were doing in the past.

In Egypt, under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the army and the financial oligarchs enjoyed a cozy co-operative existence. Then along came the Arab Spring and democratic ideals. When “democracy” was implemented, it threatened the old order. The army did not let this go on for long; it intervened and restored the former status quo. So here was an example where the “iron and clay” forces re-united (“mixed”) in order to protect themselves from a greater outside threat.

The relationship between the EU and Russia is also worth looking at. (As we’ve noted before, these may become the respective headquarters of the future “clay” and “iron” empires.) Not long ago the two power blocs were talking in optimistic terms of cooperating, sharing resources, and trying to solve the world’s problems. (See news article in Appendix at the end of the previous Post 4A.) They looked like they were about to “mix”.

But recently came the turmoil in Ukraine, and with no small amount of provocation from the U.S., their differences suddenly erupted. So at the moment they do not “adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” Ukraine, caught in the middle, has been attracted to the EU’s prosperous society of liberal democracy but has found it difficult to escape from the Russian orb of more authoritarian-style control.

Whatever the future may bring, it would not be surprising if the present clash of ideology were to give way to a pragmatic rapprochement again between the EU and Russia.

As a final note, a longtime love-hate relationship has also existed between Russia and China, even in the years when they were both communist states.

Continue to 4C: Role of Technology in the Antichrist and False Prophet’s New World Order

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Appendix: Close look at Daniel 2:42

 “And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile (“broken” in KJV).”

The original Hebrew for this verse used a word (qetsath) meaning “the whole” or “the end”, which is not found translated in most Bible versions.  Also, the original did not use the words “as” or “so”. And finally, the word “fragile” might better have been translated “broken” or “shattered”, which seems to be the primary meaning of the ancient Hebrew-Chaldee word. A different translation could have gone something like this: “And the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay; the end part of the kingdom shall be strong and/yet shall be partly broken/shattered.”

Most translations tend to convey the idea that the “iron fourth kingdom” became weak because of the introduction of the “weak” material of “clay”. Perhaps that is correct, but the passage could have a slightly different meaning, and the original intent may have been to mark the contrast between how the fourth kingdom of iron began (“strong”) and how it would end (“partly broken”) because of the co-existence of another powerful kingdom. This is consistent with the previous verse, “The kingdom shall be divided.” (2:41)

The question is, does the “fourth kingdom” of “iron” become partly broken because the “clay” itself is weak, or because it gets “divided” in the End Time? Because the “fourth kingdom”, which was once a purely “iron” kingdom and thus very “strong”, has to share power with the “clay” forces, this causes its power to become “broken”. So this “broken” feature is mentioned, not necessarily to point out that the “clay” is weak, but rather, to mark the contrast between what the “fourth kingdom” was like in its beginning stages in the “legs”“strong as iron” - and what happened to it in the “feet and toes” when it became “divided” and thus “partly broken” because of having to share power with another kingdom.

This “clay” feature in what we might call the “fifth kingdom” of “iron and clay” aptly symbolizes the materialistically minded and less authoritarian cultures of the richer western societies. On this level, the “clay” is weak. But on another more behind-the-scenes level, the “clay” wields considerable power – through its wealth and economic leverage.

Regarding the “iron” kingdom, the previous verse 41 was careful to mention that, in a sense, nothing will have changed; that is, the “fourth kingdom” of “iron” will still exist: “the strength of the iron shall be in it”. But because the “fourth kingdom” will have become “divided”, then the natural outcome, as the next verse 42 points out, is that the kingdom will become “partly broken”. So the “broken” feature found at the end of the “fourth kingdom” results from its having been “divided”, and not, it would seem, from the introduction of a “weak” material. The dominance of the “iron” will have been fractured – set aside to some extent by the influence of another powerful kingdom, symbolized in the vision by the “clay” material.

Well, enough said on that subject. That’s rather a lot of fine-tuning done, but, hopefully, it can provide a more accurate understanding of this passage.

[RETURN]

Continue to 4C: Role of Technology in the Antichrist and False Prophet’s New World Order

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