We have moved rather quickly through some difficult passages. Some readers may feel they are being asked to believe too much too quickly. In order to make the text read more smoothly, I have often stated as fact what is technically just "theory". Some of my theories have been built on the assumption that an earlier theory is correct.

 

Some of this confidence has come from a familiarity with other passages that strongly support the main points of the theory. But there is a tendency for any theorist to see things that support his or her theory, while overlooking things that might challenge it. So this chapter is a breather, in which we will consider some of the weak spots in the theories which have been presented so far. We will, in some cases, however, produce counter-arguments to defend our position.

The most universal argument is that prophecies say nothing about the future that we don't already know. This is the approach taken by most "respected" theologians. They discuss all miracles, all talk of God, all interpretations of prophecy with a kind of intellectual aloofness which implies that even faith itself is just a sociological (or psychological) phenomenom for them to dissect and discuss. They bend over backward to convince themselves that there is no such thing as the supernatural, except in the weak minds of lesser individuals than themselves. I simply cannot accept this faithless approach.

 

There is a story about a labourer working at a seminary who was saying "Praise the Lord!" over and over to himself as he worked at digging a ditch on the campus. A theology student observed this, and asked him to explain why he was so excited. The uneducated worker said he had just been thinking about how God parted the Red Sea and allowed the children of Israel to walk through it on dry land.

The seminary student decided to enlighten the poor man. "It wasn't really the Red Sea," he explained. "We believe it was actually the Sea of Reeds, which is a marshy stretch of land that is only covered by about eighteen inches of water."

 

"Well, praise the Lord! That's even more amazing!" exclaimed the workman.

 

"And what's so amazing about that?" asked the would-be theologian.

 

"It's amazing how the Lord was able to drown all of Pharoah's armies in only eighteen inches of water!" he replied, with a big grin on his face.

 

Theologians are faced with a similar problem when it comes to Bible prophecy. The Book of Daniel states that it was written during the time of the Babylonian Empire and the start of the Medo-Persian Empire. There is no evidence to suggest that this was not the case, except for the fact that it predicts the Greek Empire by name. On the basis of that alone, the (unbelieving) experts have had to say that it must have been written during the time of the Greek Empire.

 

The fact that it predicts the year in which Jesus Christ was crucified (see pages 51-56 of this book) should also force them to say that it must have been written during the time of the Roman Empire. However, they know that this is not true, so they largely ignore the prophecy about Christ's death. "Expert" theologians rarely express open belief in it, or in anything else that is supernatural. They know that, among their colleagues, such faith is looked down upon. The politically correct thing to do is to explain away all miracles.

 

A similar problem confronts the skeptics with regard to prophecies about the Mark of the Beast in the New Testament. It is becoming more and more difficult for people to dispute its accuracy as they see what it predicted actually happening in today's world. What it said would happen is going to happen, just as the Bible said it would. So now people are openly admitting that they don't care whether it is true or not, because they have no interest in obeying God, if doing so is likely to bring them any discomfort. The same evil generation that asks to be shown miracles, still refuses to change when they see them!

 

So we match their contempt for God with our own contempt for their approach to prophecy. Certainly there are non-miraculous aspects of prophecy which simply state universal truths; but there are also aspects which accurately predict the future; and they both need to be taken together to arrive at the whole truth.

 

There are others who would disagree with us because they interpret symbols in The Revelation as representing other events than what we have described. Many say that things described in The Revelation have already happened at various times throughout history. The eruption of the island of Krakatoa, for example, is seen as the mountain which fell into the sea, with ash and smoke blowing around the world and making the sun appear to be red in the middle of the day. Mass executions by men like Hitler and Stalin represent the Great Tribulation, they say. And so on, with other incidents throughout history.

 

But all of these theories lack the cohesiveness that the original prophecies possessed. They were not a list of isolated events which may or may not happen at any old time. They were part of a very specific description of a very specific period of time immediately prior to the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Measurements are given for that period of time (in days, months, and years), and they all add up to three and a half years. While it is true that people have faced great troubles of one sort or another throughout history, and while it is true that The Revelation offers hope to all people in all ages, we still believe that anyone who takes seriously what it is actually saying, must agree that it ultimately refers to specific events which are related to each other over a specified period of time, and that these events have not as yet happened.

There is another group of people who agree with us about The Revelation predicting things which are yet to come; but they feel that the symbols relate to other groups and other individuals than what we have stated (e.g. the European Union rather than the United Nations, or the Pope instead of a political leader). We do not have serious problems with these contradictions, for we feel that there is some truth in most of them. What each of us is saying is that there is a steady movement toward a single world power, which will eventually be used by the Devil to persecute God's people.

 

Unless each of us keeps an open mind as things progress, however, we could still become blinded by our various theories, and miss out on the truth of what is actually happening. As we have already stated with regard to extreme right-wing supporters in Australia, people subscribing to conspiracy theories have often taken it upon themselves to mount political campaigns against those whom they consider to be antichrists, and in doing so, they have run the risk of becoming antichrists themselves. It is this tendency which has given the subject of endtime prophecy such a bad name to begin with.

 

The Seventh Day Adventist Church is probably the biggest organisation preaching Bible prophecy today. They see almost everything in the Bible as a warning against Catholicism, with one reference (i.e. the False Prophet) to Protestantism.

 

For years they have taught that Sunday worship is the Mark of the Beast, and that all people need do is to worship on Saturday (and presumably refrain from any sort of worship on Sunday) to be right. This approach has blinded many of them to the same sins in their own organisation that have been the sources of spiritual error in the others. But apart from the general differences between our approach and other approaches, there are also specific weak points in our theory which need to be addressed.

 

The first weak point is that we have been talking about "world" empires as though Africa, Australia, South America, and much of Asia did not exist at the time of the Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. The reason for that is that the Bible is written from the perspective of the Middle East being the center of the world. (It certainly was the crossroads of world trade at the time of Christ.) The Bible more or less assumes that whoever controls the Middle East controls the world. Although world trade is no longer controlled by caravan routes through the Middle East, or even by the Suez Canal, it is interesting that the Middle East continues to play such an important role in world politics today.

 

We accept that no previous empire has ever contolled every country in the world. But we are suggesting that the final world empire will exercise control over the entire planet. And the final empire is the one that is most important in today's world. It may be that there are similar prophecies which originated from other continents; if so, that would make an interesting study in itself. But our emphasis has been on the tradition into which Jesus Christ was born. We believe that the prophecies are valid and consistent within that context.

 

We must confess that there is one prophecy which does not fit well with our theory about the various nations on the U.N. Security Council. It is one part of the prophecy which refer to the Antichrist "subduing" three kings (or horns). It sounds like the three kings that are subdued are part of a body which contains only ten members (Daniel 7:8). You get a picture of seven (or perhaps nine, if only America is destroyed) "horns" being left when the action has been completed.

 

In a confessed effort to make our theory fit the present make-up of the Security Council (which has 15 members) we have argued that the Antichrist government may use support from the ten rotating members to subdue three of the five permanent members (rather than three of the ten rotating members), after which the Antichrist will be able to control all ten rotating members.

 

This is totally consistent with Revelation 17:16, where all ten "horns" are described as helping the Beast to destroy some other power. Even passages like Daniel 7:24 are written in such a way as to indicate that the three kings (or kingdoms) which are subdued may be quite separate from the ten kings described earlier.

 

However, we have also taken licence in (a) referring to the animal described as a "leopard" in the Bible as a "panther"; (b) attributing the Panther to the Third World as a whole; and (c) referring to rotating members of the United Nations Security Council as all being Third World members.

 

A panther is a variety of leopard, i.e. a black leopard. But when most people think of a leopard, they think of the spotted leopard. (See Jeremiah 13:23.) The argument is not that I have substituted a different animal for the one described, but rather that I have limited the description to a particular variety, i.e. the black leopard. And that brings us to the second criticism mentioned above:

I have taken the liberty of using the panther (or leopard) as a symbol for the Third World. There really is no official animal that represents the Third World. I have suggested the panther because it is the official symbol of the Black Power movement. Black Power has universal appeal to people with dark skin. Of course the Third World includes people with yellow and red skin too; but they share a common problem with low self-esteem, which the Black Power movement addresses. A leopard is a broader description of the same animal that has been adopted by Black militants, and might be more appropriate, because the species includes cats of other colours besides black. Nevertheless, the fact that the Leopard is not an official symbol of the Third World still remains a valid argument against my theory.

 

Finally, there is the argument that not all of the countries which are eligible for periodic seats on the United Nations Security Council could be officially described as "third world". Europe as a whole is traditionally divided between East and West, i.e. between the First World and the Second World superpowers.

 

But I only use the term "third world" in an effort to show that the world today recognises three major divisions. The definition for those divisions need not be the same as the prophetic definition. Actually, without Russia or America supporting them, the various countries of Europe become about as powerless as those nations which we now call "The Third World" anyway. Give India nuclear power, and take away the superpowers, and it becomes difficult to say that Luxemburg or Albania possess more power than India.

 

So what we have (if the United Nations Security Council is the body referred to in this prophecy) is a leopard representing all those countries of the United Nations besides those represented by the Eagle, the Lion, the Dragon, the Bear, and one other country which will eventually be subdued (i.e. France). The Leopard is not the official symbol for those countries today; but neither is there any other symbol which necessarily contradicts this theory. It could be that a leopard may eventually be adopted as such a symbol, if and when such a body of nations becomes a recognisable force in the world.

 

Then there is France, the fifth permanent member of the Security Council. The symbol for France is the Rooster. We find no mention of a rooster or cock in any prophecies. But then almost nothing is said about the third nation that is subdued anyway. Let's face it; the United Kingdom's power and the United Kingdom's presence on the Security Council are primarily because of its special relationship with America. France, too, is not there because it is in the same league with America or Russia. France represents a pro-West vote and little more. And France's significance will certainly be "subdued" if/when America falls, and Russia takes over.

 

Recall what Daniel said about the Lion in his vision: "I beheld till the [eagle's] wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon its feet as a man." (Daniel 7:4) In other words, when America has been destroyed, the United Kingdom will cease to be a kingdom. The Brits (and we Aussies too) will just be loyal subjects of the new Emperor.

 

But hold on a minute! Look again at the Leopard in Daniel's vision. What is that on the Leopard's back? The "wings of a fowl"! (Daniel 7:6) So France gets a mention after all. But the mention is only that France, like Australia, and all the rest of the world, will just be an appendage on the back of the Leopard after "dominion" has been given to it. We will be lucky to get our turn in the rotating ten nations on the Security Council.

 

There are any number of other complaints that people can make about the theories presented in this book. But the bottom line is that what we have said here is an honest attempt to understand exactly what Bible prophecy is saying. Honesty will lead more reliably and more consistently to the truth in Bible prophecy than anything else.

 

We are open, and, indeed, keen to hear of information which corrects errors in our interpretation. And we believe that it is our openness which has led us to our present level of understanding. It is likely that our interpretation will alter somewhat in the next few years, as things become clearer. Our commitment is not to a theory, nor to gimmicks and sensations, but rather to an honest understanding of how God sees things in the world today. If others with a different perspective share the same commitment, then we should all move closer together as circumstances unfold in the years ahead.

 

After giving a brief outline (in the next few pages) of events we have described so far, we will move on, in chapter 25, to a study of the period known as The Wrath, when the Seven Vials will be poured out on the earth. Because this part of the prophecy takes place after the return of Christ, we feel less need to have perfect understanding of it, and so we will only touch on it briefly. Nevertheless, the spiritual significance of what happens at that time is still worth mentioning.

 

Appendix, Chapter 23

 

Daniel 7:8, 24. There came up among [the ten horns] another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots... The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that will arise. Another will rise after them, and he will be diverse from the first, and he will subdue three kings.

 

Revelation 17:16-17. The ten horns that you saw on the Beast will hate the Whore, and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom to the Beast.

 

Jeremiah 13:23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?

 

Daniel 7:6. After this, I beheld, and lo another [beast] like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it.