Iron Mixed with Miry Clay
538 A.D. - Present Day
"The element of weakness symbolized by the clay, pertained to the feet as well as to the toes. Rome, before its division into ten kingdoms, lost that iron tenacity which it possessed to a superlative degree during the first centuries of its career. Luxury, with its accompanying effeminacy and degeneracy, the destroyer of nations as well as of individuals, began to corrode and weaken its iron sinews, and thus prepared the way for its subsequent disruption into ten kingdoms.
The iron legs of the image terminate,… and the kingdom represented by that portion of the image to which the toes belonged, was finally divided into ten parts." You may well ask, "Do the toes represent the ten divisions of the Roman empire? We answer, Yes; because,
The image of [Daniel] chapter 2 is exactly parallel with the vision of the four beasts of chapter 7. The fourth beast of chapter 7 represents the same as the iron legs of the image.
The ten horns of the beast, of course, correspond very naturally to the ten toes of the image; and these horns are plainly declared to be ten kings which should arise; and they are just as much independent kingdoms as are the beasts themselves; for the beasts are spoken of in precisely the same manner; namely, as "four kings which should arise." Verse 17. They do not denote a line of successive kings, but kings or kingdoms which exist contemporaneously; for three of them were plucked up by the little horn. The ten horns, beyond controversy, represent the ten kingdoms into which Rome was divided.
We have seen that in Daniel's interpretation of the image he uses the words king and kingdom interchangeably, the former denoting the same as the latter. In verse 44 he says that "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom." This shows that at the time the kingdom of God is set up, there will be a plurality of kings existing contemporaneously. It cannot refer to the four preceding kingdoms; for it would be absurd to use such language in reference to a line of successive kings, since it would be in the days of the last king only, not in the days of any of the preceding, that the kingdom of God would be set up.
This division was accomplished between the years A.D. 351 and A.D. 476. The era of this dissolution thus covered a hundred and twenty-five years, from about the middle of the fourth century to the last quarter of the fifth. No historians of whom we are aware, place the beginning of this work of the dismemberment of the Roman empire earlier than A.D. 351, and there is general agreement in assigning its close in A.D. 476. … The map of the Roman empire during that time underwent many sudden and violent changes, and that the paths of hostile nations charging upon its territory, crossed and recrossed each other in a labyrinth of confusion. But all historians agree in this, that out of the territory of Western Rome, ten separate kingdoms were ultimately established, and we may safely assign them to the time between the dates above named; namely, A.D. 351 and 476.
The ten nations which were most instrumental in breaking up the Roman empire, and which at some time in their history held respectively portions of Roman territory as separate and independent kingdoms, may be enumerated … as follows: The Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Suevi, Burgundians, Heruli, Anglo-Saxons, and Lombards.
Each of the four monarchies had its own particular territory, which was the kingdom proper, and where we are to look for the chief events in its history shadowed forth by the symbol. We are not, therefore, to look for the divisions of the Roman empire in the territory formerly occupied by Babylon, or Persia, or Grecia, but in the territory proper of the Roman kingdom, which was what was finally known as the Western empire. Rome conquered the world; but the kingdom of Rome proper lay west of Grecia. That is what was represented by the legs of iron. There, then, we look for the ten kingdoms; and there we find them. We are not obliged to mutilate or deform the symbol to make it a fit and accurate representation of historical events.
With Rome fell the last of the universal empires belonging to the world in its present state. Heretofore the elements of society had been such that it was possible for one nation, rising superior to its neighbors in prowess, bravery, and the science of war, to attach them one after another to its chariot wheels till all were consolidated into one vast empire, and one man seated upon the dominant throne could send forth his will as law to all the nations of the earth. When Rome fell, such possibilities forever passed away. Crushed beneath the weight of its own vast proportions, it crumbled to pieces, never to be united again. The iron was mixed with the clay. Its elements lost the power of cohesion, and no man or combination of men can again consolidate them. This point is so well set forth by another that we take pleasure in quoting his words:--
How in any other way could you so strikingly represent the facts? For more than fourteen hundred years, this tenfold division has existed. Time and again men have dreamed of rearing on these dominions one mighty kingdom. Charlemagne tried it. Charles V tried it. Louis XIV tried it. Napoleon tried it. But none succeeded. A single verse of prophecy was stronger than all their hosts. Their own power was wasted, frittered away, destroyed. But the ten kingdoms did not become one. 'Partly strong, and partly broken,' was the prophetic description. And such, too, has been the historic fact concerning them. With the book of history open before you, I ask you, Is not this an exact representation of the remnants of this once mighty empire? It ruled with unlimited power. It was the throned mistress of the world. Its scepter was broken; its throne pulled down; its power taken away. Ten kingdoms were formed out of it; and 'broken' as then it was, it still continues; i.e., partly broken;' for its dimensions still continue as when the kingdom of iron stood upright upon its feet. And then it is 'partly strong;' i.e., it retains, even in its broken state, enough of its iron strength to resist all attempts to mold its parts together. 'This shall not be,' says the word of God. 'This has not been,' replies the book of history.
"But then," men may say, "another plan remains. If force cannot avail, diplomacy and reasons of state may; we will try them." And so the prophecy foreshadows this when it says, 'They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men;' i.e., marriages shall be formed, in hope thus to consolidate their power and in the end to unite these divided kingdoms into one.
Now we can continue our study into the parallel beast in Dan 7…
"It had ten horns, which are explained in verse 24 to be ten kings, or kingdoms, which should arise out of this empire. As already noticed in chapter 2, Rome was divided into ten kingdoms, enumerated as follows:
|These divisions have ever since been
spoken of as the ten kingdoms
of the Roman empire.
|Huns or Alemani||Germany|
|Lombards or Bavarians||Italy|
Daniel considered the horns. Indications of a strange movement appeared among them. A little horn, at first little, but afterward more stout than its fellows, thrust itself up among them. It was not content quietly to find a place of its own, and fill it; it must thrust aside some of the others, and usurp their places. Three kingdoms were plucked up before it. This little horn, as we shall have occasion to notice more fully hereafter, was the papacy. The three horns plucked up before it were the Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals. And the reason why they were plucked up was because they were opposed to the teaching and claims of the papal hierarchy, and hence to the supremacy in the church of the bishop of Rome. [Editors note: Note the similarity of this power, Papal Rome, to the iron monarchy of Pagan Rome. The priciples remain unchanged.] And "in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things," the eyes, a fit emblem of the shrewdness, penetration, cunning, and foresight of the papal hierarchy; and the mouth speaking great things, a fit symbol of the arrogant claims of the bishops of Rome [from whom the Pope was elected ].
As these horns denote kingdoms, the little horn must denote a kingdom also, but not of the same nature, because it was diverse from the others. They were political kingdoms. And now we have but to inquire if any kingdom has arisen among the ten kingdoms of the Roman empire since A.D. 476, and yet diverse from them all; and if so, what one? The answer is, Yes; the spiritual kingdom of the papacy. This answers to the symbol in every particular, as is easily proven; and nothing else will do it. See the specifications more particularly mentioned in verse 23.
In verse 22 three consecutive events seem to be brought to view. Daniel, looking onward from the time when the little horn was in the height of its power to the full end of the long contest between the saints and Satan with all his agents, notes three prominent events that stand as mileposts [Editors note: If you would like more information regarding these events and what has happened as they have been fulfilled you may email your questions to email@example.com. I will be happy to answer them.] (1) The coming of the Ancient of days; that is, the position which Jehovah takes in the opening of the judgment scene described in verses 9,10. (2) The judgment that is given to the saints; that is, the time when the saints sit with Christ in judgment a thousand years, following the first resurrection Rev. 20:14, apportioning to the wicked the punishment due for their sins. Then the martyrs will sit in judgment upon the great antichristian, persecuting power, which, in the days of their trial, hunted them like the beasts of the desert, and poured out their blood like water. (3) The time that the saints possess the kingdom; that is, the time of their entrance upon the possession of the new earth. Then the last vestige of the curse of sin, and of sinners, root and branch, will have been wiped away, and the territory so long misruled by the wicked powers of earth, the enemies of God's people, will be taken by the righteous, to be held by them forever and ever. 1 Cor. 6:2,3; Matt. 25:34.
Daniel 7:23 - Thus he said,
We have here further particulars respecting the fourth beast and the little horn. Perhaps enough has already been said respecting the fourth beast [Rome] and the ten horns, or ten kingdoms, which arose therefrom. The little horn now more particularly demands attention. As stated on verse 8, we find the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning this horn in the rise and work of the papacy. It is a matter of both interest and importance, therefore, to inquire into the causes which resulted in the development of this antichristian power.
The first pastors or bishops of Rome enjoyed a respect proportionate to the rank of the city in which they resided; and for the first few centuries of the Christian era, Rome was the largest, richest, and most powerful city in the world. It was the seat of empire, the capital of the nations. "All the inhabitants of the earth belong to her," said Julian; and Claudian declared her to be "the fountain of laws." "If Rome is the queen of cities, why should not her pastor be the king of bishops?" was the reasoning these Roman pastors adopted. "Why should not the Roman Church be the mother of Christendom? Why should not all nations be her children, and her authority their sovereign law? It was easy," says D'Aubigne, from whom we quote these words History of the Reformation, Vol. I, chap. 1 "for the ambitious heart of man to reason thus. Ambitious Rome did so."
The bishops in the different parts of the Roman empire felt a pleasure in yielding to the bishop of Rome some portion of that honor which Rome, as the queen city, received from the nations of the earth. There was originally no dependence implied in the honor thus paid. "But," continues D'Aubigne, "usurped power increased like an avalanche. Admonitions, at first simply fraternal, soon became absolute commands in the mouth of the pontiff. The Western bishops favored this encroachment of the Roman pastors, either from jealousy of the Eastern bishops, or because they preferred submitting to the supremacy of a pope rather than to the dominion of a temporal power."
Such were the influences clustering around the bishop of Rome [and the influx of religion into the state.] Thoughts On Daniel And Revelation, pages 62-142, Uriah Smith.
The mingling of churchcraft and statecraft is represented by the iron and the clay. This union is weakening all the power of the churches. This investing the church with the power of the state will bring evil results. Men have almost passed the point of God's forbearance. They have invested their strength in politics, and have united with the papacy. But the time will come when God will punish those who have made void His law, and their evil work will recoil upon themselves. Ellen G. White, 4 Bible Commentary, page 1168.To learn more, here are two valuable books:
This first one by A. T. Jones was written in 1889 as a response to the proposed Sunday legislation of that day called the Blair Ammendment. The National Sunday Law, by A.T. Jones 1889
This book, written about 100 years later goes into detail explaining what the Bible says about the future and Sunday Legislation. It is only 70 pages and very well documented. It will take you only a few hours to read.
National Sunday Law, by A. J. Marcussen
There are over 25 million of these in print in 52 languages. They are very helpful.