2. Dual Nature of the Empire
3. Spiritual and Physical Geography
4. Economic Superpower: the New Beast
5. Who are the Two Superpowers of the End?
6. Physical Geography: Which Two Territories?
7. Earth-Beast: False Prophet and Money Master
8. Iron-Clay Kingdom = Sea-Earth Beasts’ Empire
9. The Kingdom shall be Divided
10. Role of Technology
11. What the Future Holds
9. “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? For starters, we may observe how 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 empires 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 empires become one empire that will dominate the world politically, economically, and religiously.
Their unity may 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 (“mingle themselves with the seed of men”). 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.
This pattern of conflict reveals itself in the broad scope of history also. . . as we trace the rise of the “clay-earth” power bloc from ancient times to the modern day. In the pre-Roman era, the commercial empire of Phoenecia had become 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. As a result Phoenecia had to remain under subjection to those (metal) Beast empires. (For more background information, see Appendix 3: “Background History, Clay-Earth Bloc”)
During the last 500 years, the commercial forces have grown exceedingly strong, however. Laissez-faire capitalism has replaced the long time traditional economics of mercantilism. There came a new independence to the domain of commercialism. Nowadays, the business and commercial interests have learned how to forge 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”). The two “beasts” are supposed to be on the same team; they 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 power blocs to suppress their differences and unite. And this seems to be what’s happening nowadays in the growing partnership between Russia and China.
In addition, their cooperation brings the advantage of enabling them to “mingle with the seed of men”, to better engage with and rule over the people of the world. But there comes a disadvantage also: “they will not adhere to one another.” (Daniel 2:43)
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 interests. (This was common, for example, among Latin American dictatorships that were being exploited by American conglomerates. In more recent times the same thing is happening in America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia.) 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 this End of the Age era, 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 ascendancy to supremacy of these new power-brokers has reached its peak in the Great Harlot empire (America?), as expressed in the angel’s observation: “your merchants were the great men of the earth.” (Revelation 18:23)
Not only in America, but worldwide, the “clay-earth” bloc has infiltrated the “iron-sea” bloc. So in the final empire, instead of being overwhelmed by a powerful military force (as ancient Phoenecia was), the modern commercial empire can work in conjunction with it.
“The kingdom shall be divided.” (Daniel 2:41) 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 “divided” (v41) and thus, “partly broken” (v42). (See Footnote: Close Look at Daniel 2:42 for more information.)
In its subtle way, this “clay-earth” 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-sea” element to fight wars advantageous to its interests. Yet “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.
The “iron” forces are not entirely subservient to the forces of “clay”. As the passages in Revelation 17-18 outline, the “iron” Beast and his ten horns will turn the tables on the oppressive commercial power of our day: “these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” (17:16)
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. And between countries, we can see this taking shape nowadays in the growing partnership of Russia and China.
In addition, some noteworthy developments have taken place between the European Union and Russia. Not long ago (2010-12) the two power blocs were talking in optimistic terms of cooperating, sharing resources, and trying to solve the world’s problems. (See news articles in Appendix at the end of Post 5.) They looked like they were about to “mix”.
But then 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.” Whatever the future may bring, it would not be surprising if the present clash of interests were to give way to a pragmatic rapprochement again between the EU and Russia.
But for now we can see, in the wranglings and conflict between the EU and Russia, an example of the prophetic message in Daniel 2:43b: “They will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” China and Russia also, although they are getting along quite well these days, have had their share of conflict in decades past. Perhaps eventually, this kind of divisive conflict will lead to some kind of breakdown in the internal unity of the final empire. But that is a little far in the future and difficult to speculate on right now.
Continue to 10: Role of Technology
“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” (KJV).
The question here: was this passage intending to convey the idea that the “iron fourth kingdom” became weak because of the introduction of the “weak” material of “clay”? This idea is reinforced by the addition (in most translations) of the words “as” and “so”, which are not there in the original Hebrew. Well, perhaps this idea is correct, but the passage could have a slightly different meaning.
And we could ask, is the passage trying 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? That would seem consistent with the previous verse, “The kingdom shall be divided.” (2:41)
Because the “fourth kingdom”, which was once a purely “iron” kingdom and thus very “strong”, has to share power with the “clay” power bloc, this causes the iron power of the “fourth kingdom” to become diluted or “broken”. Although there is the disadvantage that “they will not adhere to one another,” there is also the advantage that their temporary cooperation enables them to “mingle with the seed of men.” (2:43)
So this “broken” feature is mentioned, not necessarily to point out that the “clay” is weak, but rather, to point out that the kingdom of “iron” has been weakened. It marks 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”, might be thought of as characteristic of the materialistically minded and less authoritarian cultures of the richer western societies. From that viewpoint, the “clay” would appear to symbolize weak, democratic governments.
But on another more behind-the-scenes level, the “clay” wields considerable power – through its wealth and economic leverage. And as explained in Post 4: Economic Superpower – the New Beast, that seems to be what the “clay” in the feet of the Daniel 2 “image” actually symbolizes.
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 iron 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.
Perhaps this will become clearer if we combine verse 42 with a couple of the phrases from the previous verse 41:
And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the [fourth] kingdom shall be partly strong [because the strength of the iron shall be in it], and partly broken [because the kingdom shall be divided].
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.