[K:JNWTS 27/1 (2012): 41-45]

A Philosophy of Revelation: The People of God and the Nation-States—Interfacing Eschatology and Anti-Eschatology in Organic Continuum (Daniel 2-12)

James T. Dennison, Jr.

In unfolding the story of the four monarchies of Daniel 2 and 7,[1] we have unfolded to our understanding the history of tyranny—the history of imperious tyrannical rule and absolute power, from the collapse of the terror-based Assyrian empire to the fall of the gladiator-games-loving Roman imperium. Both empires reveled in human butchery as entertainment. These tyrannical empires were driven by lust—the lust for conquest, the lust for domination, the lust for subjugation and prostration, the lust for manipulation and seduction, the lust for blood. Simply put, powerful persons—together with their religious cohorts, their military henchmen, their political thugs—aggressively marched, pillaged, genuflected, schemed, ruled and governed for the purpose of controlling human beings—human souls weaker than their tyrannical might—human lives which they could dominate with threats, with intimidations, with abuse, with conquest, with death! Their lust to control lives, peoples, nations, economies, armies, the gods and their sacred precincts, omens, priests and priestesses—this lust to control is the foundation of all tyranny. The exercise of power over others is a vested self-interest; it is the vested interest of the one using others for purposes beneficial to the user, the controller, the dominator, the manipulator, the ruler, the god-like one with absolute power. This power is fundamentally imperious, tyrannical, abusive (either verbally or physically or both); it is contemptuous of the lesser, the inferior rubes and peons—the less enlightened—even as it is degrading of their dignity and integrity.

The psychology of tyranny (may I suggest the pathology of tyranny) has been crafted not only in the biblical portraits of Egypt’s hard-hearted pharaoh, Judea’s Herod the great baby-butcher and Babylon’s apocalyptic Whore, it has also been captured in Machiavelli’s The Prince, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Mao-Tse-Tung’s Little Red Book of quotations from Chairman Mao, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s First Circle (with its brooding portrait of the insidious Josef Stalin)—to mention only a few of the portraits of tyrants as legion as the brand itself.

Human history reveals a veritable menagerie of tyrants and tyranny—autocratic despots, egomaniacal dictators, shrinkers and shrivelers of individual liberty and personal dignity. All is subsumed to the ego, the personality of the user—the dominator anointed to use others for personal gain, fame and blame (every one other than the egomaniacal user). We have a small museum of these iron-fisted totalitarians in the prophecies of Daniel. In fact, we have a summary of the historical manifestation of spiraling and progressive tyranny such that one views all tyranny in history subsumed in the four monarchies of Daniel 2 and 7.[2]

The succession of dictatorial rulers and states is not so much an incremental calculus of burgeoning tyranny as a progressive unfolding of the tyrannical principle—the progressive unfolding of the tyrannical principle come to its judgment under the crushing supernatural power of the fifth monarchy. Gentile powers will rise and fall, catch Israel in the vice of invasion, subjugation and domination from Assyria to Egypt to Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome until the appearance of a kingdom which cannot be squeezed or invaded or subjugated or dominated by the nation-states of this age—this world. A kingdom whose genotype is eternity—an everlasting kingdom not vulnerable to the principalities and powers of this age whether Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome or any of the myriad kingdoms of this world which have come in their likeness or tramped boot-step in their footsteps with the genotype of conquest, terror, domination, subjugation, genocidal annihilation. They shall perish and their vaunted brutality shall be turned to their destruction—one by one, one after another—in an endless cycle of wars and rumors of wars—rising kingdoms and falling kingdoms destined ever and always to be perpetually looking over their shoulder for the next more powerful dark lord and ally of the prince of darkness to devour them as Babylon devoured Assyria, Persia devoured Babylon, Greece devoured Persia, Rome devoured Greece—and so and so forth until kingdom come.

The inaugural skirmish of that fifth monarchy victory having been of the spirit, not of the flesh, the unrepentant tyrannical principle will continue to replicate and recapitulate itself in all subsequent human history until that same fifth monarchy will crush and defeat it in the end time, in the flesh as in the spirit.

Such a climactic crisis will necessitate a consummate clash between the quintessential prince of tyrannical wickedness and the sempiternal prince of eudaimonistic righteousness. If we move in history from the victory of the fifth monarchy over the four—and that a manifest victory of the Servant of the Lord and his Servant Kingdom over the brutal despotism of the principalities, powers and kingdoms of this evil age—a victory of the spirit over the flesh—then we shall also see the final battle—the eschatological conflict—the concomitant clash between the full expression of this deified tyranny in a son of man, son of Satan, son of perdition versus the Son of Man, Son of God, Son of Heaven—and that a victory of the flesh over the spirit.

Daniel’s prophecies project both—the victory in the spirit at the incarnation of the Son of God and the victory in the flesh at the coming again in glory of the Son of Man. The victory of the Kingdom of God is recorded in Daniel’s prophecies—the inaugural victory present in the coming of the Kingdom in spirit and in truth and the consummate victory to come in the Kingdom of the resurrected righteous flesh and the dominion over the kingdom of the wicked flesh.

This final conflict is cosmic. It is not regional, partial, local, but ecumenical, universal, global. Nor is this final conflict one between a myriad succession of petty tyrants and the Kingdom of God. Rather the final conflict is a once-and-for-all clash between the son of perdition, the man of lawlessness and the Son of glory, the Man of righteousness. This is an eschatological clash between Christ and anti-Christ, between God and Satan, between the eschatological ally of the Prince of Darkness and the eschatological Prince of Light. The seed of Adam in its archetypal explosion will display its full genotype—son of rebellion, son of the Adversary, a human replication of Satan incarnate (were such a thing possible), a man-child who will call himself God—being an anti-God, a counter-God, a contra-God, knowing and promoting evil and depravity, while hating and despising all good and righteousness: all this in its eschatological manifestation. This is the last gasp of the enemy of God—to replicate in human history once-and-for-all what he attempted in heaven: namely, to conquer God and his Son, to destroy the righteousness of Heaven and turn Heaven into a Hell—turn it into his kingdom, his domain, his power-base, his tyranny—this arch-fiend, this arch-demon, this arch-apostate, this arch-tyrant. And since he was rebuffed in Heaven and himself cast down to Hell, from whence sewer of perdition he issued forth to assault the Kingdom of God once more in the wilderness of Judea—attempted to use the very Son of God as his lackey, only to be vanquished to the pit of Hell once more, bound there in chains by the stronger Man; even so, in this consummate eschatological clash with the Kingdom of Heaven once-and-for-all, Satan will venture forth from the bowels of Hell and enlist the seed of Adam (sons of Adam and daughters of Eve)—enlist the consummate anti-Christ to roar throughout the whole earth, the whole globe, the whole inhabited cosmos. To roar against the lion of Judah; to elevate himself to deity against the deity of the Son of God; to unleash all manner of vile wickedness upon the earth against the sweet and precious righteousness of God in Christ; to seduce and prostitute the world to apostasy, to lies, to deception, to lying wonders, to the pleasures—the lusts—the vile passions of wickedness—against the resurrection and prostration of the elect in the book to fidelity, to truth, to integrity, to bona fide miracles, to the holy pleasures, the sacred desires, the born again passions of love and righteousness.

This last gasp of Satan and his man-child—his covenant child in the black arts of his anti-eschatological kingdom with his anti-Christ, his anti-God—this will bring the final clash, the final crisis in the arena of human history. Time and space will behold—will be the stage—of the final conflict: Christ and anti-Christ; God and Satan; Good and Evil; Tyranny and Liberty; Despotism and Servanthood; Life and Death; Heaven and Hell; Election and Reprobation; Glorification and Perdition; Anomia and Theonomia; Anomia and Christonomia; Anomia and Pneumatonomia.

He will be slain, this man of sin, this anti-Christ; he will be slain with the breath of the mouth of God; and he will be cast into the lake of fire where he will be tormented by God’s just and righteous wrath forever. And his followers, his worshippers, his tyrannical imitators and whoremongers will be imprisoned with him in everlasting flame and darkness.

Satan and his anti-Christ and his anti-Kingdom and his anti-Heaven: what a hellish horror that will be—the eternal crushing weight of the tyranny of unremitting evil and abuse and dominance and power and subjugation and rage and hatred of Heaven! Dante was not even close!!

If Daniel 11:36-45 provides the revelation of this belligerence crystallized in a geopolitical and militaristic figure, then 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 supplements, recapitulates, epexegetically completes the revelation of the personality as a cosmic religious figure. The characterization of this anti-Christ may be explored from Daniel’s prophetic portrait; Paul provides a narrative biographical characterization. Paul’s description of the Man of Sin (or Man of Lawlessness, 2 Thess. 2:3) borrows from the figure in Daniel’s portrait. Paul’s anti-Christ makes great boasts of braggadocio (2 Thess. 2:4) as does Daniel’s anti-Christ (Dan. 7:8, 11, 20). Paul’s anti-Christ makes blasphemous claims, displaying himself as God (2 Thess. 2:4)—language which reflects the characterization of Daniel’s anti-Christ in chapter 11:36. Paul’s description of the Man of Sin (or Man of Lawlessness, anomia) is epexegetically expanded by naming him a son of perdition or a son of damnation or a child of Hell (2 Thess. 2:3). In both passages, we are assured that this anti-Christ seed of the serpent cannot frustrate the predestinating purpose of God—noted in Daniel 12:1 where those resurrected in righteousness are found written in the book of rescue, while the apostle declares that God had chosen the beloved in the Lord Jesus for salvation from the beginning (2 Thess. 2:13). Whom Daniel reveals as a global militarist, Paul further characterizes as a false, self-deified apostate.

Daniel brings this rolling, unfolding clash of the four monarchies of wickedness with the fifth monarchy of righteousness to two successive denouments: first, a provisional victory of the fifth monarchy in the era of the fourth monarchy—the era of the Roman empire and thus Christ’s first advent (a “now” semi-eschatological victory); second, a “not yet” consummate victory of the fifth monarchy especially manifest in its principle scion—the Messianic Son of Man, Lord of the glory clouds of Heaven, Righteous Savior-Prince—a consummate victory of the King of the Fifth Monarchy over his arch-enemy at the end of days, when he will slay the Satanic culmination of the four kingdoms with the breath of his mouth and shut them up in the lake of fire forever and ever—never again to deceive the nations or to tyrannically oppress the elect of God.

Historical recapitulation issues in eschatological consummation once-and-for-all.

The provisional semi-eschatological now

balanced by

The consummate eschatological not yet.

And in-between, the waxing and waning of the clash between the fourth monarchy and its antithesis—the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven, the Fifth Monarchy.

All this projected via the recapitulatory symmetry of the macrostructure of Daniel 2-12.

[1] See the author’s audio series of lecture studies on the book of Daniel at nwts.edu.

[2] The fourth monarchy is epexegetical of all the worst in its predecessors as well as prophetic of the definitive horror which will replicate itself like the legendary Hydra in one post-Roman empire or nation-state after another. All tyrannical kingdoms since 476 A.D. are merely variations on a Roman theme. Hence Daniel projects nothing beyond this penultimate “dreadful” fourth monarchy.