Iron and Clay - Where Do We Stand?

PUBLISHED 3RD MARCH 2017

I have sought throughout this series to summarise some of the broadest frameworks relating to eschatology – ‘End Times Theology’. I have done this with a view to being helpful and informative. I have sought to be respectful to those who hold views different to my own understanding (as it stands at this stage of my journey) in these things. I have avoided delving into the finer arguments for and against the various schools of thought along with carefully avoiding comments about the origins and motives for some of these views (all diligent students should investigate these questions further). However, the main motivating factor for me to write this series was not primarily one of education but of excitement and hope! If you’ve read the full series then you would have worked out that I do not personally subscribe to the currently popular eschatological scheme known as ‘Dispensational Futurism’ (see previous articles). But please… I do not want to fall out with anyone over that – maybe that will turn out to be correct and one day I will understand better, but meanwhile, I see world events from a broadly ‘Historicists’ perspective (see previous articles). That is, I believe that Revelation (chapters 4-19) is dealing with a broad sweep of human (especially ‘Church’) history. Although it is not such a publicly commonly held understanding today I none-the-less find myself in good company with saints from the past:

Well-known adherents to Historicism: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Foxe, Sir Isaac Newton, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, John Gill, H. Grattan Guinness, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, The Translation Committee of the King James Bible (read the epistle dedicatory), and many others.

I believe that the ‘Rock’ (Dan 2) represents Christ at His Second coming and therefore tend towards a ‘PreMillennial’ (see previous articles) view of Revelation chapter 20. (Those in the ‘famous names’ list above held slightly varying views in this respect). So, just for the ‘technical’ record… I therefore incline toward the belief known as ‘Historic PreMillennialism’. It’s a not a title or terminology I am proud of in any way and it will never, on my part, be a grounds for who I can and cannot have fellowship with but it does have an outworking in the way I see the world we live in. Just as holding to any of the other interpretations will affect your world view – and most importantly, what we think we see coming next…

The Futurists’ Outlook

If your ‘end time’ view is in line with the current popular expression (Dispensational Futurism) then this is what you see as happening next…

  1. An all-powerful, world-dominating individual (The AntiChrist) is about to appear.
  2. He will head up a one-world government (probably a one-world religion too).
  3. He’ll control all of the world’s finances.
  4. Someone is preparing a microchip right now – ready to place into your forehead or right hand.
  5. Accepting this chip is equal to denying Christ and will mean everlasting rejection by God.
  6. Not accepting the chip will result in an inability to buy or sell anything anywhere on this entire planet.

The list could go on, and those who have been taught ‘Dispensation Futurism’ find themselves with a split decision to make on the subject of something called ‘The Rapture’… Does it occur PRIOR to the above events? Or AFTER them? Hence: PreTribulation Rapture or PostTribulation Rapture. These are two differing viewpoints WITHIN the same basic interpretive belief system. But leaving ‘theology’ aside for a moment, how does this make a sensitive, thoughtful person feel? You are faced with either going through this inevitable, terrible time, which is global, without exception or, you are going to escape personally but leave behind unsaved friends family and loved ones, who will pass through this fiery trial.

I will not labour this further. I will also note that none of the above consequences prove or disprove this ‘theory’ (remember previous articles – these are not ‘facts’). What I do want to question though is this – going back to Daniel chapter two again… How do the feet and toes of Daniel’s statue indicate that world history will climax with an all-powerful, completely global, unified, one-world government?

Daniel’s Statue Again – Interpreting Kingdoms

Throughout this series I have mentioned and alluded to the Daniel chapter two statue many times. Is it a picture of world kingdoms, including the kingdom in place at the time Christ returns? Yes it is. Is it the only prophetic ‘picture’ of these things? No, there are numerous others. In both Daniel and Revelation we are told these ‘kingdom’ stories again, with kingdoms being depicted as beasts (animals) (and there are many other ‘kingdom’ passages found throughout The Bible). Is there more to the story than can be ascertained solely from the vision of the statue? Yes, indeed, further visions (in Daniel and Revelation) do take us deeper and into the detail about these kingdoms. Do any of these further visions give us a ‘different’ picture to what is summarised in the statue. As you must now be expecting, I would have to say, absolutely and definitely not! More detail, other detail, complimentary detail, yes, yes, yes, but further visions do not contradict this one. The statue is the first of this ‘type’ of kingdom vision/revelation given to Daniel and John. It is, I believe, the initial, simple summary of the whole. It is the first, simple, summarising vision that all later visions must harmonise with.

So, this is the sixty four thousand dollar question… How do we get from a head of Gold – which represented the all-powerful, wide-ranging, yet never truly ‘global’ kingdom of the Babylonians to the feet and toes, made of iron mingled with clay, and state confidently that these feet and toes represent a global, one-world government? Personally, I don’t! In fact, it is interesting and important to note that when describing the second kingdom – the arms and chest of silver – Daniel specifically states that this kingdom is “inferior” to the first. If you were to research the four kingdoms you would find that each successive kingdom, in some senses, seemed to get bigger and stronger and yet in other ways they were progressively less powerful in their totalitarian grip. I’ll leave you dear reader to your own research on this as on other matters but in terms of the blatantly obvious imagery as we examine this statue we see an ever diminishing picture. Gold, then silver gives way to bronze then iron and the iron legs finally peter out into a very precarious mixture of iron and clay at the end. No, this statue does not foretell of a final, all-encompassing empire that will rule the four corners of the earth with absolute authority but rather it foreshadows a time in history when all that is left of the fourth empire is a last ditch, comparatively pathetic expression of all the former kingdom glories. An attempt at unification but with weakness at its very core. The perfect moment for The Rock to strike!

The Iron Continues – Rome Never Ended

If the Rock striking the feet of the statue is to be understood as Christ’s second coming, as opposed to His first coming, then the fourth empire (Rome, represented by the iron) must still be here. Accepted history usually states that the termination of the Roman empire in the West happened when Rome fell in 476AD and the Eastern half of the empire came to an end nearly a thousand years later at the fall of Constantinople 1453AD. Concerning the decline of the empire and the dates of these significant events I would not argue with such indisputable facts. However, whether or not the Roman empire actually ended through these events or whether it continued in a different guise is a matter of interpretation. It is very well-known that out of the ashes of the Roman empire in the West the ‘Roman Catholic’ church arose in conjunction with various European kings (at one time known as “The Ten Kings of Christendom”). These together became the new ‘Holy Roman Empire’. Once again, I leave you to your own studies on all the details and developments.

So, if we accept that Rome continued to live on, in and through the Roman Catholic church and the united (on and off!) kings of Europe then it is not difficult to see its current manifestation which is still with us today. There’s much history that has continued in the story of Europe of course but we still have a Roman Church at its heart today (whose influence is across the world) but in place of the old ‘kings’ we now have… you guessed it – a European Union.  Complete with its Tower of Babel styled headquarters in Strasbourg to its sculptures of a woman (Europa) riding a beast used everywhere to represent her the EU is plastered with biblical symbolism that speaks of kings and kingdoms. Not to mention its founding ‘Treaty of Rome’ and many, many other links.

I am not going to attempt a detailed analysis and interpretation of the legs, feet and toes of Daniel’s statue but suffice it to say that it does not require much imagination to see a Roman empire that has unbroken continuity to this day. (Albeit, a little historical knowledge of Rome, The origins of the Roman Catholic Church and general European history in is of course necessary). Without a shadow of doubt, Rome, has been with us, in one form or another, for the past 2000 years and is still here today.

Iron Mingled With Clay – How Strong Is That?

If we see the tops of the iron legs – the thighs (a biblical symbol of strength) – as equating with Rome at its visibly strongest then somewhere toward the end we arrive at the feet and toes where the iron is said to be mingled with clay – this can only represent a later, much weaker time in the power of this fourth kingdom. What is the iron? Well, that’s simple, in this statue it is symbolic of Rome but more broadly speaking, iron represents rulership – when Christ returns He will rule the nations with a rod of iron. But what about the clay? It may be that the mingled clay represents the ‘partly Roman’ European nations that never wholly hold fast together. Down the centuries there have been multiple attempts to unite Europe – through wars, through military and marital alliances and most recently through more subtle, bureaucratic, political means. This could be it. On the other hand, thinking out loud, could it be that the clay represents the ‘people’? Adam was made of “dust” – i.e. ‘clay’. In Scripture, men are said to be “earthen vessels” – i.e. ‘clay pots’. I wonder if we, the people, are the clay and what we are witnessing in this very day, in Brexit/Trump, is the lack of adhesion to the iron – the rulers. The rulers and the ruled are coming apart. The iron is losing its grip. It started losing its grip when the French revolution rejected despotic monarchy and the ecclesiastical rule of Rome. Oh, there has been plenty of water under the bridge since those days and there have been gains and losses to the establishment since that time but in the wider sweep of history, Rome cracked under the Reformation, and cracked again under the aforementioned French revolution. Now, again today, for good or for ill, the common folk are rejecting elitist rulership. Some of this is being facilitated by the fact that ordinary people are getting their ‘news’ from sources outside of the established media. Just as when Christ came first time, there is an unprecedented communication system in place – the likes of which has never been here before. Common people like me can read, listen, learn and communicate with other ordinary men and women around the globe and the clay and the iron are coming apart.

The End Game – The End Is Near!

Perhaps my ‘clay’ theory isn’t correct? Perhaps I’m onto something only in part? But boy, it sure does look like the world is coming unstuck right now and for clay to overthrow iron there must be help from above. The letter to the Hebrews tells us that The Lord’s angels (messengers) are sent forth to work on the behalf of those who are God’s people. It seems to me that they have been working overtime of late and it’s certainly making me feel like we are getting prepared for something (or someone!) very special. Now, I am not offering any timetables or charts detailing the order of events to come but I truly hope that I am offering some hope, and an emboldening, to my brothers and sisters whose hearts long for the coming of the Lord and whose minds are prepared to enquire more diligently into the things that I have been saying throughout this series. It may not all be the way you have been told! It may be that instead of the entire world being given over to a coming ‘Antichrist’ that God has reserved the right of total, true, world-wide rule for another! Perhaps the ‘end game’ is a little more mixed than you’ve been led to believe. Perhaps God, as the undefeated Grand Master, has many pieces still in play – including not only individuals but entire nations. Maybe this is why we are witnessing the ‘rebirth’ of the ‘nation states’ across Europe and the ensuing collapse of final attempts of complete globalisation.

How near is near!? Well, it won’t surprise you to hear that I’m not for playing that game. No date setting or predictions of what is coming next but just think about this… We see light and feel warmth from the sun even though it is many miles away and I personally ‘feel’ the coming of The Lord. That’s not very theological I know and what I currently ‘feel’ could simply be an upturn in the current circumstances (for some parts of the world). But if I can convey just one thing to you… whatever the exact order of events of the near future… know this, things are not ‘falling apart’ they are instead simply ‘falling into place’… God has a plan… and we should be looking up – for the Day of His glorious appearing and our redemption is drawing near!

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