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Prophecy study for Christians, myself included, is a fascinating subject.  I find it amazing that the Bible was able to predict correctly so many events BEFORE the fact.  But the Bible also makes predictions concerning our present world.  Here is where the Bible student needs to be very careful.  Just as with the doctrines of salvation and sanctification, we need to research everything the Bible says on this or that before we accept any conclusion.  Too many Bible teachers have in-correctly interpreted a prophecy text, made false predictions, and have made themselves and others look like fools.                                   

Here's an example.  William Miller dogmatically pre-dicted that the end would occur in 1844.  He based this belief on a wrong interpretation of Daniel 8:14. In his view the 2300 evening/mornings were 2300 years from the time of Ezra (457 BC) to his time 2300 years later.  The real meaning of the said text was that in 167 BC a Gentile tyrant King Antiochus IV invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple for 1150 days.  During that period a total of 2300 evening and morning sacrifices were missed.  At the end of the 1150 days in 164 BC the Maccabbean Revolt drove the invaders from the Temple.  The Temple became "cleansed".                              

That text had nothing to do with the end-times.  Obviously Jesus didn't come back.  To save face one of Miller's cohorts, Hiram Edson, came up with a wild doctrine - the 2300 years ending in 1844 marked the beginning of an Investigative Judgment of God's elect. (Note since every true believer is forgiven of all sin and saved eternally, why is an Investigative Judgment needed?)                                   

Here is another example.  Revelation 13 tells the story of a beast rising from the sea.  It had ten horns and seven heads.  One of its heads became wounded and healed.  This healed head goes on to rule the world for 42 months.  During that time it will be busy blaspheming God and persecuting His people.                              

We need to be careful when we read such words.  I'm sure back in 1963 when President Kennedy was asassinated there may have been a few wild Protestants screeming something like, "Wow!, now the beast has received his deadly wound to the head.  Now just watch.  Mark my word.  In just a few days he'll rise from the dead and rule the world from Rome!"                      

Nothing of that sort ever happened!  What foolishness!  All of us Bible teachers need to be extra careful what we say that the Bible "says".                            

Before we are able to unlock the true meaining of Revelation 13, we first need to look at Daniel 7.  While in Babylon Daniel had a vision in which four scary beasts rose up out of the sea.  The first beast was a winged lion that lost its wings but later was given the heart of a man.  The second beast was a bear that walked favoring  one side of his body.  The bear also had three ribs in his mouth.  The third beast was a leopard that had four wings and four heads.  The fourth beast was exceedingly dreadful, in fact more dreadful than the first three.  It had ten horns with one little horn dominating and outlasting three other horns.                              

How are we to understand the proper meaning of this vision?  Here is classic symbolism.  The four beasts symbolize the coming of four ancient kingdoms.  The winged lion represented Babylon  The wings being removed represented King Nebuchanezer's humiliation - that is his descent into madness for a season.  The lion being given the heart of a man represents the king's restoration when he humbled himself before God and was given back his sanity.  Daniel 4 describes the incident in more detail.                         

The bear represents ancient Persia.  The bear walking on one side of his body represents the dominance the Persians had over the Medes.  The three ribs in the bear's mouth could represent three future kingdoms, Israel, Judah, and Babylon whose land would and did fall under Persian rule.                                 

The third beast represents Greece.  The four wings and four heads on the leopard represent the four divisions of Alexander's empire.  Historically the Greek Empire split apart in four sections after Alexander's untimely death in 323 BC at the age of only 32.                           

The fourth and last beast represents the mighty Roman Empire.  It was greater than the previous three empires because it was larger.  It held land in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.                                

Note that the precession of kingdoms in this vision in Daniel 7 is parallel to the parts of the great image mentioned in Daniel 2 (the head of gold (Babylon), the chest of silver (Persia), the thighs of bronze (Alexander's Greek Empire), and the two legs of iron (the Roman Empire that later became divded in two East and West).                                   

The fourth and most dreadful beast having ten horns  also had one victorious horn that outlasted three other horns.  But what does this victorious horn symbolize?  Does it symbolize the rise of a future kingdom that will rise, or has risen, out of what was once the mighty Roman Empire?

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