SHAPE OF THE FUTURE (5)

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5 – SUMMARY

In the Daniel and Revelation Books we learn that two superpowers (“beasts”) unite to form a world government during the closing era of the present Age. This unique partnership includes the “earth-beast” whose power, unlike that of the Antichrist “sea-beast”, is based more on wealth than on military superiority. As the historical landscape stretches before our eyes, we can foresee that Europe (or possibly China?) and Russia may very well be the two superpowers in question here. In order to rule the world of the future, they pool their resources, joining forces to forge an empire more powerful than any in previous history.

And what enables their rise to supremacy?

      1) By operating in different domains of power and by combining forces, they are able to broaden their influence, which will be needed in order to thoroughly conquer and rule the kind of world we have today.
      2) Every nation contains within itself a power infrastructure that includes the military establishment and corporate conglomerates. And in this way, the ground is already prepared for the Antichrist-False Prophet combine to take over.
      3) One of the fruits of modern technology is that it can transcend the old limitations of gathering power and influence in the world. Modern means of travel, communication, media influence, funds transfer, computer surveillance will enable these two Beasts to spread out further, overcoming geographical limitations, ruling in each other’s territory, as well as subjugating large portions of the rest of the world

For the above reasons, we can better understand why the symbolism in the “feet” of the Daniel 2 “image” vision portrayed this closing era of our present historical Age as consisting of “iron mixed with miry clay”. (Daniel 2:41, 43 – KJV)

Although the two empires are separate from each other geographically, there is this mixed “iron and clay” substance – which reflects rather well the modern historical situation: 1) How technology has erased the borders that used to limit the world of ancient times. 2) The rise of the powerful “merchants” (of Revelation 18:23) and their corporate conglomerates; these have entered the political arena and are working in conjunction with the political-military regimes of the world.

Such a situation did not exist in ancient times, at least not to the extent that it is now. And eventually, this will result in a secular religion that combines worship of the Antichrist with the worship of Materialism. (The worship of material wealth has been around since the Beginning but seems to be rising to a new level in the secular world of modern times.)

Our study of the Daniel 2 “image” has led us to conclude that nations and empires not only have a “physical geography”, but also a “spiritual geography”. For the End Time period of history, the physical geography was represented by the two feet of the “image”. There were dual empires in the past, and as far as physical geography goes, the modern empire, like those of the past, will consist of two geographical territories; and it looks as though they will be Russia (according to Ezekiel 38-39) and the EU.

They are like extensions of the ancient boundaries of East and West Rome, and this seems to fulfill the symbolic portrayal in the Daniel 2 “image” of the two “feet” connected to the “legs”. And there is a similarity here with the symbolism of the two separate Beasts of Revelation 13.

And then there is the spiritual geography, represented by the “iron and clay mixed” in the feet portion of the image. This type of “geography” does not have to be tied to the physical land masses, especially now in these modern times. And by looking at how nations are ruled in the world today, we have some historical hindsight to guide us towards getting some idea of what the passage in Daniel 2 about the “iron and clay” mix was referring to.

It would appear that the “iron and clay” symbolism will be manifested in the following ways:

1)       Primarily, the religious angle: The “image” vision in Daniel 2 was that of a human figure that would be shattered at the End of the Age by the Return of Christ to re-claim God’s sovereignty over the Earth. The “image” symbolizes the worship-of-man religions that have come and gone through history, which are to be replaced by the worship of Christ and His Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Thus, the “iron and clay” of the Daniel 2 “image” vision should symbolize the religion that will prevail during the closing era of the present Age, some form of emperor worship.
         Later on came the visions in Revelation 13 where we gain a lot more information. We learn about the rise of the sea-Beast demagogue (whom we could easily envision coming out of Russia) and the rise of the earth-Beast and his new economic system (likely the EU, or maybe China?). The heads of these two superpowers are also known as Antichrist and False Prophet.
         We learn that the False Prophet works to establish and administer the reign of the Antichrist, and most importantly, he causes the world to worship the Antichrist. As the two Beasts combine in an alliance, their “religions” will combine also. Under the guidance of the False Prophet, Antichrist worship will mix with the worship of Materialism. And this fulfills what the symbolism of “iron and clay mixed” is saying about the modern world’s soon-to-come secular religion.

2)    The religious aspects of the Antichrist/False Prophet reign could not arise without the foundation of needed infrastructure. As we’ve learned, the “iron” governmental and military features that characterized ancient Rome have re-appeared in most modern nations, in which also we find the “clay” power operating – the world’s commercial conglomerates wielding great influence over governments and peoples.
      These power blocs are “mixed” together in today’s world and are already functioning in the political-military-economic infrastructure of nations. This provides the kind of platform from which the Antichrist and False Prophet “heads” can stage their new secular-religious system
, featuring the broadcasted “image” of the Antichrist and the “mark of the beast” (without which it will be difficult to buy or sell).

3)     A common viewpoint regarding this “iron and clay” symbolism is to see it as representing the division between modern dictatorships and democracies. It is true that the democratic system has served the purpose of allowing these mega-“merchants” to engineer their rise to supremacy in the world and thereby keep the “iron” forces under their thumb to a large extent during the last hundred years or so. In a more authoritarian government the merchant class can be kept under stricter control.
        Democracy contains noble ideals and concepts, but as often happens with any new venture or re-structuring of society, the forces of Darkness are always there to corrupt and misuse the new system for their own ends. And sure enough, the advent of democracy has played into the hands of the capitalist owners of wealth, enabling them to operate without interference from powerful sovereigns or dictators and thereby catapult themselves into a position of greater dominance in the world.

         Democracy also provided the means by which some dictatorships came into power. Hitler, for example, used democratic freedoms (the voting system) to grab power – just as the mega-merchants have used the same freedoms to bypass government control and thereby dominate the cultural-political landscape (in many Western nations).
         Although “democracy” has had a lot to do with the rise of the “clay” power of materialism, it is not quite the same thing. The “clay” symbolizes the new power dynamic that has infiltrated its way into our modern world – the business-commercial elite – what Revelation 18:23 calls the “merchants. . .  the great men of the earth”  by whom “all the nations were deceived.”
          Of course, it is through democracy, the loosening of government controls, that these forces of materialism could leverage those freedoms and use them to elevate themselves into positions of dominance and
control over the affairs of nations. And sometimes the forces of authoritarianism have misused “democracy” in the same way. Even today we see something like this happening in the EU where certain nations, namely Hungary and Poland, are becoming more and more authoritarian.
          In general, it is true that wherever we see democracy being practiced, those are the nations where the merchants of materialism are holding sway. And wherever it is dictatorship, those nations have a strong-man, demagogic figure at the helm and/or military governing structure. And many nations have a combination of these two political ideologies. Beyond political ideology however, the “iron and clay” symbolism stands for the basis of power in an empire and the nature of its religious practice.

So, to look at this from a comprehensive, in-depth perspective, and according to our study thus far, the “iron and clay” symbolism can be understood as follows:

The “iron” represents the legacy of Rome where the seat of power rests, not with a hereditary monarch, but with the military and government administration (with its more efficient delegation of power via representative rule and use of extensive law codes). Rome’s government system became the foundation for today’s world, and now every nation has some version of this “iron” style of rule within its borders. Perhaps it was because of this continuation of military-republican governing structure that the ancient Roman empire (the “legs”) and the End Time empire (the “feet”) were lumped together as the “fourth kingdom” (in Daniel 2:40-41).

And the “clay” represents the commercial-financial system which, under the looser controls of democratic government systems, has managed to worm its way into supremacy in so many nations of the modern world. Working together, the two governing regimes have already created some powerful empires in Europe and America during the Modern Age and will, in the near future, create the ultimate worst – the final empire of the Antichrist and False Prophet.

This new “clay” component in Daniel’s “image” marks how the End Time empire (of the “feet”) differs from ancient Rome (the “legs”), and from other empires of the past: modern nations, even though they all have some form of “iron” government, are also influenced and controlled by the commercial forcesthe “clay” – to varying degrees. And this is across the board: whether they be democracies or dictatorships, all nations are in some way a mixture of “iron and clay”.

Most nations have two seats of power: One rests with the military and government administration, and the other with the commercial forces that affect that nation, whether directly from inside or indirectly from outside. We understand then that both Russia and the EU are descendants of the “iron” style of rule that began with ancient Rome; and both are also heavily influenced by the new form of “clay” regime that has been ruling the world with a heavy hand, during the 20th century especially.

Even communist Russia, by all appearances an iron-style regime, was sponsored in its beginning and kept afloat afterwards with the help of some of the world’s richest financiers. (Communism had one thing in common with the moguls of Capitalism: the desire to prevent the rise of free enterprise and thereby seize, monopolize, and hold on to power and influence.)

In the past, European nations looked like the “democratic” ones while Russia was the “dictatorial” one. But as time goes on, these distinctions between the two societies are becoming blurred. As the world grows more unstable, likely there will be a call for stronger government. As mentioned earlier, even now we are seeing some EU nations turning towards authoritarian rule.

Looking at Germany after World War I is an interesting example to consider. The Weimar government, which took over from the Kaiser, was trying to exercise democracy. But because of too much indecision, internal squabbling, and lack of charismatic leadership, the German people got fed up with it and turned instead to the Hitler strongman who, decisively in the beginning of his rule, solved many of the problems that had gone unresolved during the reign of the Weimar government.

In similar fashion, we may see a shift in the balance of power between the “iron” and “clay”.  What we see now, the present political-economic arrangement, is not exactly how it will appear in the future. The “iron” military presence probably will assert itself a lot more in the new world order of the Antichrist and False Prophet – especially after the collapse of the “great harlot” (described in Revelation 17-18). The “clay” forces – the “merchants” – who have been sponsoring the Antichrist and his military forces will still be around and very much a part of the new world government.

As for the future of democracy, it could be that, since the rise of the Antichrist will happen under his sponsorship, the False Prophet Beast won’t need so much freedom or democracy anymore, nor will he need the commercial empire of the “great harlot”. While she declines, his economic grip on the world will continue under the Antichrist’s protection, as he becomes arbiter of the new world order’s buying and selling system.

The symbolic picture in the “feet” portion of the “image” is a little complicated and reflects the complex situation of our modern times. Our world now is a strange one indeed compared to the world of yesteryear. And the glimpses given of it in the ancient Scriptures foresaw the unique power-sharing arrangement that exists nowadays.

Another interesting conclusion from our study thus far has to do with the common thread of dualism intertwining the symbolisms of (1) the “iron and clay feet” of the “image” (2) the sea and earth “beasts” of Revelation 13, and (3) the “red horse” of war and “black horse” of economic oppression. (Revelation 6:3-6) These symbolic portrayals seem to relate to each other, as if they are different ways of expressing the same thing.

This duality also marks one way in which the End Time empire will differ from the empires of ancient times. Besides a dual physical geography, which was characteristic of Medo-Persia and Rome, the modern empire has also a dual cultural (or spiritual) geography. For example, East and West Rome had a uniform iron-only type of government, culture, and religion; it was the same metal empire split into two parts. But in the “feet” there is this mixed-up iron-clay government and culture (just as Revelation 13 pictures two separate Beasts rather than one Beast split into two geographical areas).

We might call it a double duality: 1) two geographical areas (the two “feet“) harboring two Beasts, or sources of power (from “sea” and “earth“), and 2) two less visible infrastructures: “iron” symbolizing Rome’s political-military system; and “clay” symbolizing the regimes of corporate conglomerates. These infrastructures facilitate the worldwide operation of each Beast regime and serve to combine their religions (demagoguery and materialism respectively).  That picture may be over-simplified, but hopefully, it gives at least the general outline.

Overall Chart copy

As these two Beasts join forces, they will transform into a single End Time kingdom. Each beast ends up occupying the other’s territory in a sense. It may work like this: Russia will accept the European administrative system while adopting the credit system of the “mark of the beast”, and the Europeans, fed up with weak and ineffective leaders in a world of turmoil, will give their allegiance to the Russian strongman (the Antichrist).

And the rest of the world, to varying degrees, will be captivated by the joint “religion” promoted by these two superpowers. With its mixed “iron and clay” government and religion, the influence of this soon-to-arrive dual kingdom will be doubly powerful as it attempts to seize control of the world in its dying hours.

In order to exercise control over the world, the powers of evil (Red Horse and Black Horse) must first be exercising control in the world. The political, economic, and technological mechanisms through which they can function must be in working order. And so it is that the old Roman “iron” form of republican, military domination over nations has combined now with the “clay” commercial ownership of nations.

And this will happen as, not only a combination of two superpowers (two Beasts of Revelation 13), but has already happened in the subtle intertwining of two “systems” of rule everywhere throughout the earth (symbolized as “iron and clay” mixed): “iron” which lends itself to man-worship (typical of all the metal empires); “clay” which draws the masses into materialism, the worship of things and wealth.

In summary, the ruling societies of modern times have become partnerships between business community and military establishment – a type of government system that in ancient times had not come into full bloom. Having this kind of economic-political infrastructure in place in every nation will make it easier for the Antichrist and False Prophet kingdoms to unite and impose their new regime on the world. “Whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men.” (Daniel 2:43 – KJV) As they unite, these two political kingdoms become one kingdom that will dominate the world politically, economically, and religiously.

Their unity may only be temporary however; the verse goes on to say, “they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.”  What this could mean is difficult to speculate on at the moment. But here is one possible interpretation: Because they occupy different domains of power, this helps to broaden their reach in the world. Yet at the same time it would be easy to imagine that the militarists and the merchants will have conflicting goals and will be pulling in different directions. (And we learned something about this in Post 3-F about the course of World War 2.)

So now we have a rough picture that gives some shape to the future that is coming. As time goes by, the picture will become clearer, and along with that, undoubtedly, some adjustments and fine-tuning will be needed in our understanding of these things.  “For now we see through a glass, darkly.” (1Corinthians 13:12 – KJV). But we do have the benefit of some historical hindsight. And many of the things that were vague before – seen “through a glass, darkly” – can be understood more clearly nowadays.

It inspires our faith when we can appreciate from the Sacred Book God’s amazing foresight. If He could foresee the future so well from such a long time ago, then He really knows the score. And it comforts us to know that He’s the One in charge.

Right now, the evil forces are being allowed quite a bit of control. But we can be assured to know, according especially to the words of the Daniel and Revelation Books, that their dominance will be short-lived and will crumble forever before the rise of the soon-coming Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

“And in the days of these kings (or kingdoms of iron and clay in the feet and toes of the image) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44) ”The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

 

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