December 2009 • Volume XII, Issue 20
Daniel’s Night Vision (2)
In the last News, we saw that the four
beasts or Antichristian kingdoms of Daniel 7 arise out of the raging
sea of human history. All this is decreed, governed and planned by the
sovereign and just God of heaven and earth.
The three phases of the fourth beast are described in verses 19-21 and
verses 23-25. Phase one is the dominion of the fourth beast (19, 23).
Phase two is the time of the ten horns which come up out of the head
of the fourth beast (20, 24). Phase three is the rising of the little
horn out of the ten horns (20-21, 24-25).
The Roman empire fell in 476 (although part of it continued in the
east until 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Muslims). One looks in
vain for ten specific kingdoms since then. Ten is the number of
completeness, as in the ten commandments (a complete summary of the
law of God) and the ten plagues (a complete judgment upon Egypt). The
various kingdoms and powers of Europe since the fall of the Roman
empire have embraced aspects of the Roman empire and are unexplainable
The fourth beast (Rome) is fallen. We live in the days of the ten
horns. Next to come for us is the third phase of the fourth beast,
that of the Antichrist or little horn. According to verse 8, the
little horn arises out of the powers of the post-Roman empire world,
thereby displacing the powers of that world (three horns) and subduing
As a "horn," Antichrist is powerful (the horn is a symbol of
strength). He overcomes three horns and is different from the previous
ten horns (24) because he is far greater. Yet, he is still a man, and
not a demon or the devil. He has "eyes like the eyes of a man" and he
is a "little horn" (8). But his overweening pride is something to
behold. His "look [is] more stout than his fellows" (20). He has "a
mouth speaking great [i.e., pompous] things" (8, 11). With that mouth,
he speaks "very great things"—about himself (20)! He blasphemes God:
"he shall speak great words against the most High" (25). The little
horn is the "man of sin" and "son of perdition," who "opposeth and
exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;
so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that
he is God" (II Thess. 2:3-4).
In Daniel’s night vision, Antichrist persecutes the church and
devastates it: "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints,
and prevailed against them" (Dan. 7:21). He grinds them down and wears
them out, like a garment (25). He changes "times and laws" (25), for
example, attacking the Lord’s Day and framing ungodly legislation, by
which he impoverishes, imprisons and kills the saints.
Although the little horn has not yet risen, the Antichristian rulers
in state and church in this period of the ten horns are developing in
sin. Ungodly laws are being enacted, for example, against Christians
who speak against the sin of sodomy and against preachers, as if the
faithful proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ were a hate crime.
Christians in Germany are forbidden to homeschool their children in
the light of the Scriptures.
Think of the persecution of professing Christians in Muslim lands:
thousands massacred in southern Sudan; church buildings destroyed and
Christians murdered in Indonesia, southern Philippines and Nigeria;
Christians fleeing from Iraq; etc. In many Islamic countries,
evangelising Muslims is forbidden—in direct opposition to Christ’s
great commission—and building Christian schools and churches or even
repairing them is made very difficult by the civil authorities and
hostile populace. The Antichristian world seeks to wear down and wear
out the saints, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall
be saved" (Matt. 24:13).
The kingdoms of the beasts, the fourth beast and the ten horns and the
little horn receive their power from the one true God alone who gives
them their dominion (Dan. 7:6). The Antichristian kingdoms can only
persecute God’s people because they are "given into [their] hand" by
the living God (25). Even their time of power is limited. The four
beasts rise one after another, with each destroying its predecessor.
The fourth beast is succeeded by the ten horns which, in turn, are
succeeded by the little horn. The saints "shall be given into his hand
until a time and times and the dividing of time" (25). One would think
that the first two items in the sequence ("time and times") would be
followed by three times (by addition) or four times (by doubling).
Instead, the third item in the sequence is half a time. In other
words, God cuts the time of the little horn short for the elect’s sake
because they could bear no more (Matt. 24:22).
Finally, the Antichristian kingdoms are judged. Daniel 7 says most
about the judgment of Antichrist himself, the little horn, for he is
the last and greatest Antichristian power. The little horn is himself
even called "the beast" (11); the book of Revelation picks this up.
At the end of the world, when Antichrist’s powers are at their height
and he seems triumphant, God calls the final judgment. The court is
assembled, the Ancient of days is seated robed with justice and
honour, and "his throne [is] like the fiery flame, and his wheels as
burning fire" (9). He is surrounded by millions of angels and a fiery
stream issues from before Him (10). When the books are opened and the
records of the deeds of all men are read (10), one person especially
is judged: the little horn or beast who is stopped right in the midst
of his boasting and blasphemy (11). He is killed and cast into hell
(11) and the other beasts are judged (12).
The kingdom is not Antichrist’s; it is God’s! At the last day, God
will openly declare Christ, "one like the Son of man," the universal
ruler with everlasting dominion (13-14; Rev. 11:15). Jesus is Lord;
all must bow to and confess Him (Phil. 2:10-11)! Rev. Stewart
Are All the Children of Believers
Question: "Prof. Hanko wrote, ‘On the mission field
when parents are converted, their children are also saved ...’ It
sounds as if all children of all believers are necessarily saved. With
regard to the Bible passages he quotes, I would rather think that it
is a promise to believing parents but not a guarantee, right? But why
is a promise not a guarantee? Is it because of chapter 11 in Romans,
where it says that also in the line of the covenant not everybody will
be saved? So that we know that although it is a promise that some
children of believers will be saved it won’t be every child."
The question is not at all unusual. I have discovered over the years
that the biblical view of the covenant almost always elicits the same,
or a similar, question.
The questioner quotes me accurately and is right when she says later
in her e-mail, "It’s clear that he doesn’t mean that all the children
born of believers are saved." It is not true, however, that a divine
promise is not a guarantee. Man’s promise may not be a guarantee, but
God’s promise is (cf. Heb. 6:13-20). What He promises, He will do.
How is it possible to say that God promises to save believers and
their children, and yet He does not save all of them? First, note that
I quoted Scripture itself. When God established His covenant with
Abraham, He did not say that He would establish His covenant with
Abraham and some of his seed. God said, "And I will establish my
covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their
generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to
thy seed after thee" (Gen. 17:7).
When Peter addresses the anxious crowd that had heard him preach at
Pentecost, he commanded them to repent, "For the promise is unto you,
and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as
the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39). Peter does not say, "some
of your children." He simply says, "and your children." God’s promise
is the guarantee of salvation, and so salvation is promised to
believers and their children. However, the promise is limited by this
expression: "even as many as the Lord our God shall call," referring
to God’s effectual call of His elect.
Never in Scripture does God say that the promises of salvation are for
believers and all their children. It speaks of "children" in general
and "generations" in general. That these expressions mean that God
promises salvation to all our children is an unwarranted assumption,
contrary to His Word. The lady reader rightly points to Romans 11, in
addition to my reference in the last News to Romans 9. The
history of the nation of Israel itself is not only a testimony that
God does not save all the seed of believers, but also that the
majority of the children of believers is not saved (cf. Isa. 1:8-9).
There are many who hold that the promise, especially made in baptism,
means that God does give His promise to every baptized child, but the
promise is conditional and will not be bestowed on any who do not
fulfil the condition. And the promise preached on the mission field is
also given to all who hear, for, so they say, the gospel is a
well-meant, conditional offer. But conditional theology is Arminian
We speak in exactly the same way as Scripture speaks in our normal,
day-to-day language. A farmer is going out to harvest his field—so he
says. But there are weeds in the field. Does he harvest the weeds?
Does he say, "I am going to harvest some of what is growing my field?"
No! He looks at the field from the viewpoint of his purpose. His
purpose is not to sow and harvest thorns and thistles, although they
are "harvested" as well as the grain. His purpose is his crop.
God always deals with men, and especially His covenant people,
organically. In John 15, the whole plant of God’s professing
people is called a vine but some branches are cut off for they bear no
fruit (cf. Ps. 80; Isa. 5). In the prophets, God even calls apostate
Israel "my people." He addresses the nation as a whole. He sharply and
angrily condemns them for their sin and speaks to them of the
approaching judgment of the captivity. But He also comes to the nation
as a whole with precious promises of renewal, deliverance and
blessedness. How can God do this? How can He address the whole nation
as "my people" and speak both of judgment and of
salvation? How can a farmer speak of his field as a wheat field when
it is full of weeds?
When God addresses the nation of Israel (and the church of all time)
graciously, He is viewing it from the perspective of election in
Christ. God wills to gather and glorify His elect church. That is why
the parables of the tares in the field and the fish net that gathers
good and bad fish tell us that the wheat and the tares are not
separated till the end of the world and that the bad fish are thrown
out on the shores of eternity.
In the preaching (as well as in baptism, which is a sign and seal
confirming the truth of the gospel), the command to repent and believe
in Christ goes out to all who hear. That command places everyone
before the demand to repent of sin—elect and reprobate alike. The
promise that is always proclaimed in the preaching is this: "All who
believe in Christ are saved." All hear that—elect and reprobate alike.
But the promise is only to, or for the benefit of, believers, that is,
God uses that gospel to bring the elect to salvation, for the external
call of the gospel is accompanied by the efficacious call. The rest
are hardened in their sin and become ripe for judgment, for they will
not and cannot obey the command to repent and believe in Christ. Thus
God’s purpose is accomplished: His purpose of the salvation of His
elect church, and His just judgment upon the reprobate for all their
We must learn to think in terms of organism. God always deals
this way with men. Arminianism is individualistic: it is every man for
himself. It is a question only of an individual’s relation to God. It
is, of course, true that every man must give account before God of his
own deeds, but he also lives in organic union with his fellow saints,
his family and his nation. On the basis of all these relationships,
God judges him.
Last but not least, God’s judgment upon the wicked serves the
salvation of the elect, for "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment"
(Isa. 1:27). The Word of God in Hebrews 6:7-8 is fulfilled: "For the
earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth
forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing
from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers [which plants also
receive the rain] is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is
to be burned."
God saves His elect out of the organism of the human race that fell in
Adam to make a new organism, the church, in Christ, the second Adam.
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