With the continuing tensions over Iraq apparently coming to a head, many
questions arise concerning the prophetic future of this region, which on the one
hand has such deep roots as the cradle of civilization and yet also has a
destiny in the final Biblical scenario. There may be far more relevance to
this region than is commonly recognized in most books and articles on end-time
All of us are subject to limitations imposed by the presumptions we bring to
a topic, and it may be essential to step back from time to time and reestablish
a fresh perspective. The only certain barrier to truth is the presumption that
you already have it.
The Coming World Leader
One of the dominant topics among prophecy buffs is the identity of the coming
leader whom we call "the Antichrist." As current events seem to be
increasingly drawing us into the threshold of the climactic Biblical scenario,
One of the most fundamental passages concerning the end times is the famous
"Seventy Weeks" prophecy contained in the last four verses of Daniel 9.
The Angel Gabriel interrupts Daniel's prayer to provide him with what has to be
the most astonishing passage in the entire Bible: he predicts the precise
day-five centuries in advance-the exact day that the Messiah would present
Himself as king!1
In describing an interval between the contiguous group of years of 69 weeks
(of years), and the final "70th week," we notice that the Angel Gabriel declares
…Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the
prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary… - Daniel
After the Messiah is killed ("cut off"), the "people of the Prince that shall
come" shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. This, of course, was
fulfilled when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Roman legions in
"The Prince that shall come," thus becomes one of the 33 titles in the Old
Testament of the coming world leader that will figure so prominently in end-time
This also becomes one of several passages which indicates that this
final world leader will emerge out of the Roman Empire, whose legions destroyed
Jerusalem and the Temple.
A Case of Myopia?
All of us, I suspect, tend to equate the Roman Empire with Western Europe,
and there have been many books suggesting conjectures involving Rome, the
Vatican, and the rise of the European Union, etc.
We, too, have published numerous materials exploring these
possibilities. However, all of us may have been subject to a myopia
("nearsightedness") by overlooking the fact that the Roman Empire had an eastern
leg that, in fact, survived the western leg by a thousand years! [Roman
In A.D. 284 , Emperor Diocletian restored efficient government to the empire
after the near anarchy of the 3rd century.2
He divided the Empire into two legs3
(just as Daniel had predicted when he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream nine
His reorganization of the fiscal, administrative and military machinery of
the empire temporarily shored up the decaying empire in the West and laid the
foundation for the forthcoming Byzantine Empire of the East.
In A.D. 312, the Emperor Constantine relocated the capital of the empire to
its eastern leg, to Byzantium, naming it Constantinople (the "New Rome").
After Constantine's death in 395, Emperor Theodosius divided the empire
between his two sons and it was never again reunited.5
(It was Theodosius who made Christianity the sole religion of the empire, and
subsequently Constantinople assumed preeminence over the West.)
In the late 5th century, the western leg began to disintegrate, but the
eastern leg, commonly dubbed the "Byzantine Empire," endured until 1453 when it
finally was overrun by the Muslims.
There are a number of Biblical texts that strongly suggest that the coming
world leader, commonly called the Antichrist, will emerge from the region of the
eastern leg of the Roman Empire, and that profoundly impacts our prophetic
Our clearest identification comes from prophecies relating to the precedent
empire: the breakup of the Greek Empire after Alexander's death.
When Alexander the Great died, his four generals divided up the empire-which
reached eastward even to India. Cassander took Macedonia and Greece;
Lysimachus took Asia Minor and Thrace; Seleucus took over Syria, Babylon and the
east; and, Ptolemy took over Egypt [See
Since Israel was caught between the territories of Seleucus and Ptolemy, it
subsequently was a buffer zone between these two rivals. Daniel Chapter 11
details the struggles between the Seleucid Empire ("the king of the north") and
the Ptolemies ("the king of the south").
(Many scholars refer to the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New
Testament as "the silent years." In fact, much of this history was written
in advance, with an accuracy that has forced skeptical critics to attempt to
"late date" the book of Daniel!)
The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 are summarized in [Table
1]. From verses 36-40, the passage focuses on Antiochus IV ("Epiphanes")
whose desecration of the Temple, and placing a pagan idol in the Holy of Holies
(the "abomination of desolation"), triggered the Maccabean Revolt that threw off
the yoke of the Seleucid Empire.
Three years after that infamous desecration, the Israelites rededicated the
Temple, and this event is celebrated to this day on the 25th of Kislev as
Jesus' Confidential Briefing
Two centuries later, when four disciples came to Jesus for a confidential
briefing on His Second Coming,7
Jesus referred to a repeat of that historical event, the "abomination of
desolation," as the key to end-time prophecy.8
A similar event will trigger the climactic three-and-a-half-year period that
Jesus Himself labeled as the "Great Tribulation."9
In Daniel 11:40-45, the passage continues by looking forward to the final
"king of the north," to the person we commonly call the Antichrist. It is
significant that this climactic leader seems to be presented as the final member
of this previous detailed line of the "kings of the north."
It would seem, taking the chapter as a whole, that the final world leader
will emerge from this region which comprised the Seleucid empire, rather than
from the western regions as commonly assumed.
It is provocative that the Prophet Micah refers to this final conqueror as
And this [one] shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our
land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him
seven shepherds, and eight principal men.And they shall waste the land of
Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus
shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he
treadeth within our borders. - Micah 5:5, 6
Isaiah and Ezekiel also employ this very term.10
The Assyrian empire preceded the Babylonian empire by several
centuries. This empire embraced the region we know today as Syria and
The first world dictator was Nimrod (whose name means "we rebel"), who ruled
from Babylon. 11
It is interesting that Micah also refers to this "land of Nimrod" in his passage
quoted above. Could it be that this final world dictator will be, in some sense,
a return of Nimrod?
This may add an additional dimension to the mysteries surrounding the future
of Babylon: is it just used as a symbol, or will Babylon literally rise to
prominence on the banks of the Euphrates once again?
Isaiah and Jeremiah clearly describe a destruction of Babylon that has never
Zechariah seems to hold the key.13
* * *
In our next article we will continue to explore the potential implications of
these passages. This article has been excerpted from our briefing package,