Following is a brief summary of how the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are a continuously unfolding prophecy. This is generally called the “continuous-historic interpretation”. It is based on a prophetic model consistent with the rest of Scripture. Genesis outlines in advance Israel multiplying as a nation. The prophets reveal the impending Assyrian and Babylonian invasions and the destiny of Israel, Judah and surrounding nations. Daniel outlines events in detail from the Babylonian captivity to the first century and beyond. The Gospels prophesy of events up to AD70 and the Jewish dispersion. The Epistles then outline the gradual falling away from the truth in first century ecclesias. Revelation then continues the story, where the epistles left off, beginning at the end of the first century and continuing on through the 1900 years following the letters to the 7 ecclesias.
The grand theme of Daniel is the Kingdom of God versus the Kingdom of Men. Daniel 2 and 7 are like brackets to this section originally written in Chaldean (Dan 2:4 – 7:28). Daniel 2 is from man’s perspective. Daniel 7 is from God’s perspective. God’s view of the world is that godless men are really beasts. What better way to contrast the 2 opposite views of the kingdom of men? This is consistent with Psalm 49:12 “man being in honor abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.” (also Eccl 3:19). The following chart shows the clear links between the empires and the continuous, sequential progression:
|Daniel 2||Daniel 7|
|v38 Thou art this head of gold.||v3 The FIRST was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings|
|v39 AFTER THEE … another kingdom||v5 Behold another beast, a SECOND, like to a bear|
|v39 and another THIRD kingdom of brass||v6 AFTER THIS I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard|
v40 And the FOURTH KINGDOM shall be STRONG as IRON: forasmuch as IRON breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as IRON that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
DESTROYED BY CHRIST: 2:34,44
v7 AFTER THIS I saw … a FOURTH beast, dreadful and terrible, and STRONG exceedingly; and it had great IRON teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces …and it had ten horns
v23 The FOURTH beast shall be the FOURTH KINGDOM upon earth… and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
DESTROYED BY CHRIST: 7:9-11
These kingdoms are progressive, continuous and sequential. They cannot all be in existence at the same time. The phrases “after this” and “after these things” are also important in Revelation, indicating a new vision (Rev 4:1; 7:1; 7:9; 15:5). It is used in Daniel 7 in the same way. Revelation tells us the fourth kingdom takes on many characteristics of the previous three (13:2).
Daniel 7 is very helpful in explaining what is outlined only briefly in Daniel 2. It reveals that there is no fifth beast. The fourth beast is destroyed at Christ’s coming (7:9-11). This confirms that there are only four kingdoms in the image dream of chapter 2. The legs, feet and toes are all a part of the fourth kingdom of Rome. The clay in the feet represents the numerous gothic hordes that invaded the Roman Empire in the AD400’s, who were eventually absorbed into that fourth kingdom. This is exactly what transpired historically. It is the Roman power that continues until Christ returns in judgment.
The 10 horns in 7:24 represent nations arising out of the fractured Roman Empire (“out of this kingdom”). They are European nations, a further development of the fourth empire, as are the toes in the image. Then, a “little horn” (7:8) arises after the 10 horns and “among them”. This is the Papal Holy Roman Empire which arose in Western Europe in AD800. This is logical because Daniel’s prophecy outlines God’s purpose with the (1) Believers and (2) Israel. Daniel 7 focuses on the true believers and their persecution in western Europe. Daniel 8 emphasises the effect Rome has on the Jews and the eastern part of the empire around Israel.
Daniel 8 reveals the transfer of power from the “second” empire (Medo-Persia) to the “third” (Greece). This is described using new symbols of a goat and a ram. Following the pattern of Daniel 2 and 7 we would expect Daniel 8 to then detail events in the “fourth” empire (Rome). That’s exactly what we do find. Rome is described as a “little horn” arising from out of one portion of the Greek empire. Details are then given about the destruction of the Jewish state and city of Jerusalem in AD70 and also the casting down of the truth to the ground (Dan 8:9-12). Further details are then given in 8:23-25 using the language of Deut 28:47-50 to describe Rome in its conquests. Consistent with Daniel 2 and 7, we read that the Roman Empire is destroyed by Christ (the “Prince of Princes”) at the end. Extra details are expounded as you progress through the book.
Daniel 11 follows a similar structure. Medo-Persia and Greece are specifically mentioned in Daniel 11:2 and then there is an extremely detailed and perfectly accurate prophecy from 11:5-30 about the northern and southern portions of the Greek kingdom. Following the earlier pattern of Daniel 8 we would expect Daniel 11 to then progress into the Roman Empire and its final destruction at the return of Christ. That’s exactly what we do read in 11:36-45. Similar language to Daniel 8 is used, about the pride and arrogance of Rome and its subsequent change of religion to Roman Catholicism in 312 AD. This same language is used by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thess 2:4 to describe the Papacy arising out of corrupt first century Christianity. And consistent with Daniel, Paul has this system being destroyed by Christ at his second coming (2 Thess 1:8; 2:8).
Whilst many Old Testament prophecies are not presented chronologically, Daniel 2,7,8,11 are important exceptions. Not only does Revelation follow the same pattern as Daniel. In Daniel 2 and 7 there is a clear progression of empires and these are specifically numbered “first”, “second”, “third” and “fourth”. The seals, trumpets and vials also follow the same sequential pattern. They are specifically numbered in the same way as in Daniel.
It is no accident that the first chapters of Revelation outline Gentile ecclesias in the Roman Empire. In Rev 1:12,20 we are given a model of interpretation, with Old Testament symbols used to describe Gentile believers, the “Israel of God”. This sets the scene for the whole book. The Jewish commonwealth came to an end in AD70 so attention now moves to the times of the Gentiles. Revelation 4-22 explains and outlines the symbols mentioned only briefly in Revelation 1-3. The book outlines the history of the truth through the dark ages of Gentile times where believers are persecuted by a Christian apostasy, the Roman Catholic Church. This is consistent with prophecies in the Epistles (eg. Acts 20:29-31; 2 Thess 2:1-12; 1 Tim 4:1-3). Revelation warns believers to keep separate from this powerful and deceptive “Christian” Church (Rev 12:17; 13:10; 14:9-10; 18:4).
A closer look at the detail of Revelation shows a chronological progression. In the first seal, the white horse is presented with a conqueror (Rev 6). White is symbolic of righteousness (19:18) and the subsequent effect is righteousness as the truth is preached and there is a time of peace. But the “second” seal is different. There is a red horse and “power was given …to take peace from the earth.” There is an obvious sequential progression of events from the first to the second seals. They are opposites, and as such cannot be speaking of the same period of time. After the Seal and Trumpet judgments are concluded we read in Rev 15:1 that there are “seven last plagues, for in them is filled up the wrath of God”. As they are the last plagues, there must have been a number of earlier ones.
Most convincingly, the first seal commences shortly after Revelation was given (1:1) and the sixth vial ends with Christ’s coming and Armageddon (16:15-16). The only logical way to read these events is a progressive, chronological progression from the first seal through to the sixth vial. The seventh vial contains judgments after Armageddon (16:17-21), and which are explained further in Revelation 17-19. Interspersed between the seals, trumpets and vials are various kingdom visions with direct contrasts to the events through those prophecies. The fact that kingdom visions are provided does not prevent the seals, trumpets and vials occurring chronologically. These visions are given for encouragement to believers that God’s purpose remains firm and unshakeable.
What is interesting however is how Revelation 11,12 and 13 may seem at first reading to be out of chronological order. In fact they are not. These chapters provide further explanations of what is happening in the Roman Empire at the time and how this affects believers. Revelation 11:1-14 is identified as occurring during the second woe (sixth trumpet) because these events are not connected with contemporary events in the eastern portion of the empire (9:13-21). The events of Revelation 11:15-19 bring us to Armageddon, but the book now pauses (in Rev 12-14) to explain some of the new symbols used in Revelation 11.
As expected, the final chapters of Revelation fit in exactly with Daniel. Daniel’s ten horned beast reappears on the world stage after a period of darkness, with the Roman harlot in control. There are many clear links between Revelation 17 and 2 Thessalonians 2 showing the Papacy with phenomenal power over nations in the latter days. These are our days! How blessed we are to see these events! “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand.” (1:3) “Surely I come quickly: Amen, even so come Lord Jesus” (22:20).