During the Rome evening last Thursday, the Vatican closed the main door of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo. A chapter in the life of Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, also closed. Many people around the world were shocked when the pope announced his resignation on Monday, February 11, 2013. I was surprised too. But in my surprise, I found rootedness in a Bible passage I'd read countless times, but didn't understand. It came back to me when the news was released, and I decided to prayerfully study it. My disclaimer is that I don't know everything, but I share what I've discovered, so you can study for yourself too, with lots of prayer.
In the Biblical book of Daniel, chapter 2, we find an incredible story. A king has a dream he can't remember, gets angry at his wise men and magicians, and orders their death. When the word goes out, young Daniel and his friends ask if they could have some time to pray for God to reveal this dream to them. God answers that prayer, and we get a view into earth's history all the way from the Babylonian Empire to the end of the ages. Now, in chapter 7, Daniel gets an expanded vision of the one God showed him in chapter 2. We see that the four beasts align with the four kingdoms represented by the metals that form the Daniel 2 statue, and we get a bit more information.
Characters in my novel, The Remnant, go into a more detailed study of the symbolism of these chapters and what they mean than I'm going to do here; but should you have questions/comments, you can leave them at the end of this post, and I will respond. A basic breakdown is as follows:
- The gold of the Daniel 2 statue and the winged lion of Daniel 7 refer to the kingdom of Babylon. This is clearly identified in chapter 2 when Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar, "You are the head of gold."
- The kingdom to follow Babylon was represented by silver and the bear that was raised up on one side with 3 ribs in its mouth. At the end of chapter 5, we see where the Babylonian kingdom is overthrown by Darius the Mede. This kingdom was actually a partnership commonly referred to as Medo-Persia.
- From history we know that the brass from chapter 2 and the leopard with four wings and heads refer to the kingdom of Greece.
- The fourth kingdom of iron, which is represented by a great and terrible beast with iron teeth and ten horns in chapter 7, is the Roman kingdom.
- After iron, in chapter 2, we see that the kingdom is divided--iron and clay, which cannot mix--and eventually, a stone that is cut out of a mountain without hands comes and destroys the statue.
- In chapter 7, we understand that a judgment happens in heaven (the Ancient of days sits and the books are opened), and then Jesus (the Son of man) is given complete dominion, and the saints (those who love and serve God) gain possession of God's kingdom forever and ever.
- We also understand from chapter 7 that this fourth kingdom, the kingdom of Rome, becomes divided into 10 kingdoms (the ten horns) and that a little horn uproots 3 of those kingdoms. This little horn has the eyes of a man and a mouth that speaks great things. This little horn king is diverse from the other 10 kings, makes war with God's people, blasphemes God, and thinks he can change God's law and time. It is a religio-political power. Here we have the transition from Pagan Rome to Papal Rome and the institution of the pope.
We will continue in my next post.