The Rise of the Ten Kings
""After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns" (Daniel 7:7).
One trend I have noticed among students of last day's Bible prophecy is the penchant for thinking about who may or may not be the latest candidate for the role of Antichrist. I have to admit, I too, have considered a handful of world leaders for this role. This tendency, however, is really putting the cart ahead of the horse. I have written about this before, all the way back in 2009. You can read it here--Stop Putting the Care Ahead of the Horse. Once you're done reading, return to this blog post because I have some up-to-date musings on this very same subject. If the Pre-Trib position is correct--and it is--then we know Christians will not be present when the Antichrist rises to power. Writing about the Tribulation Period that is coming upon the earth, Paul told the Thessalonian believers, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship... And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-6). Like many prophecy teachers, I believe the restrainer in 2 Thess. 2:6 is the Holy Spirit working through the Body of Christ--the Church. The reason for the restraint is so that the Antichrist will only be revealed at the appointed time--God's appointed time. Aside from 2 Thess. 6, there are other passages that provide clues as to when the Antichrist will come on the scene. Make no mistake--he is coming. 1 John 2:18 reminds us, "You heard that antichrist is coming." He will be the final world ruler. he will be energized by Satan. He will oppose the true Christ. But when will he come? 1 John 2:18 goes on to predict his coming will be during "the last hour." This means the last period of human history just prior to the return of Christ to this earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom. Daniel's prophecy more precisely reveals the timing of his arrival--"While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them" (Daniel 7:8). The New Testament commentary on Daniel 9:27, Revelation, provides further insight--"... Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names... I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast" (Revelation 13:1, 3).
The Antichrist will come on the scene: (1) During the last period of human history just prior to the return of Christ. (2) He will arise from among ten kings but it seems he will not be one of the ten kings but an eleventh. (3) He will seize control of the ten kingdoms--the entire world. There are many other things the Bible predicts the Antichrist will do but they are beyond the scope of this article. The point I am attempting to make is we should be less concerned with the identity of the Antichrist and more concerned with the rise of the ten kings as it is very possible the church will still be present on earth as the world begins to develop into ten kingdoms, whether this means ten nations or ten regions. I believe it means ten regions but I am not dogmatic about it. I base my position on the fact Daniel tells us this kingdom will devour the entire world. The Bible predicts a revival or resurgence of the ancient Roman Empire in the last days. We see this in the prophecies of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. The prophecy of Daniel 2 is the account of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream which only Daniel was able to reveal and interpret. The statue that the King saw in his dream detailed the entire period of Gentile history from Nebuchadnezzar to the present day. The first three kingdoms--Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece--fell to each succeeding kingdom or were otherwise divided. But the fourth kingdom--Rome--was different from all the rest. Rome did not fall to another kingdom but it was eventually divided and it did eventually seemingly fade into history. I say seemingly because Daniel's prophecy in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 move right into a prediction about the final form of the Roman Empire--ten of something. Both prophecies along with Revelation 13 and 17 describe toes, horns, and crowns--ten of each. Daniel 7 describes an eleventh horn and Revelation 13 describes a ruler arising from among the ten crowns. Revelation 17 describes ten horns or kings who have not yet come on the scene but whose coming is for one purpose only--to give their power to the Antichrist who rises from among them. The Bible further predicts this final form of the ancient Roman Empire will be "partly strong and partly weak" (Dan. 2). It also predicts it will be "dreadful, terrifying and extremely strong" (Dan. 2). Finally, Daniel tells us, "It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns" (Dan. 7:7).
As the map shows, the ancient Roman Empire covered most of what we now know as modern Europe, as well as North Africa, and the Middle East. In the past several decades we have witnessed a divided Europe come back together into what we now refer to as the European Union. There have been challenges and Daniel's prophecy of "ten toes of the feet partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and some of the kingdom will be brittle" (Dan. 2:42) has certainly proven to be accurate.
The Eastern Leg of the Roman Empire seemed absent from the discussion for many years but in 2008, the Union for the Mediterranean formed at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean. Its stated aim was to reinforce the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership that was established several years earlier in Barcelona. For prophecy watchers, however, the scenario predicted in the Bible continued to come into sharper focus. The question that remains to be answered, and one that is often debated between prophecy watchers, relates to what will ultimately be the final form of this ten-toed kingdom. Will it consist of ten nations in Europe? That has been the traditional view as long as I can remember. Will it consist of some nations from the European Union and some nations from the Union of the Mediterranean? That possibility has crossed my mind but I do not really think it will be fulfilled in that way. I believe we need to think more globally (although I do believe it is crystal clear the Antichrist himself will arise from Western Europe).
As we seek to understand the prophecies about the revival of the ancient Roman Empire we must pay close attention to how the ancient prophets described it. We must also remember the words of the heavenly messenger to Daniel at the end of Daniel's prophecy--"As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, 'My Lord, what will be the outcome of these events?,'" Daniel asked. The messenger replied, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time" (Daniel 12:8-9). The lesson here is that Bible prophecy concerning the end of the age is shrouded in mystery--like a thick fog--until we near the time of their fulfillment. In the last several decades the fog has begun to lift. We are seeing things more clearly as they come into sharper focus. I do not, however, believe the fog has lifted to the point where we can say for certain exactly what this last days' Rome will look like. We know from history that Rome conquered most of the known world of its day. But we also understand it will in its final form, as Daniel put it, "devour and crush and trample down the remainder with its feet" (Dan. 7:7). In other words, it will devour and crush and trample down the entire world, not just Western Europe. History and prophecies about the future have certainly led to much speculation. In 1973, the Club of Rome proposed dividing the world into ten economic trading blocks. This has fueled speculation that these economic zones will one day emerge into ten regions led by the ten kings. Ten global regions notwithstanding, other Bible prophecy teachers are just as adamant in their speculation the ten kings will comprise ten nations within Western Europe that will ultimately become the final last days' form of the ancient Roman Empire. The Council of Europe, formed shortly after World War II, included a membership of--you guessed it--ten Western European countries. This organization has since morphed into what we know today as the European Union and its 27 member countries.
My point is three-fold. First of all, there has been much speculation concerning the final form of the ancient Roman Empire, the rise of the ten kings leading to the rise of the Antichrist. Secondly, the fog is still lifting on many last days prophecies so although it is okay to speculate some, it is usually much wiser to take a wait-and-see approach. The closer we get to the end of the age the more sharply things will come into focus. Finally, be cautious about being too dogmatic on things that are not as clear as we might like. Chances are, we all will adjust our understanding of these things as we near the end of the age. Now, let's speculate just a little, not about the Antichrist and his possible identity, because he comes later--much later, and Christians will not be around to witness his arrival (see 2 Thess. 2:6-8). First on the scene will be the ten kings. Who are the ten kings? Are they political leaders or are they oligarchs? Whoever they are we can be assured they are not historical figures as the Bible reveals they do not yet have a kingdom (see Rev. 17:12). How might they rise to power? These questions are important for us to consider for a couple of reasons. First of all, the Bible teaches it is from among these kings that an eleventh king will arise--the Antichrist--"While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them" (Daniel 7:8). John writes, "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast" (Rev. 17:12-13).
These ten kings may come to power with visions of world peace, saving the planet from certain environmental catastrophes, or any number of grand and lofty goals world leaders have these days. But God's Word says they have one purpose and one purpose only--"They give their power and authority to the beast" (Rev. 17:13). The other reason it is wise for us to consider the ten kings and how they might rise to power is that we may very well be here to witness much if not all of this process. If we are around to witness these things then take courage--"In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever" (Daniel 2:44). Yes, come, Lord Jesus!!!
Enter China the Peacemaker--or to put it another way, what planet am I living on? I must admit, recent news stories about China's Mr. Xi's recent bout of globetrotting peacemaker tours has taken me by surprise. In recent weeks, President Xi Jinping of China (who just happens to be in an unprecedented third term as leader of China) has sought to advance peace in the Middle East, including peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Not only that, just a few days ago he visited Russia seeking to encourage peace between Russia and Ukraine. There have even been rumors he would soon hold his first phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. What in the world is going on? I recently asked author and Bible prophecy expert, Pete Garcia (www.Rev310.net) this question. I won't relay the entirety of his answer here but suffice it to say Pete's insights proved to be thought-provoking as usual. Pete suggested what we are witnessing may very well be a geopolitical movement away from a world where America holds a more prominent role in world affairs. The Age of America might very well be ending and this movement may very well be the initial stages in the formation of ten regions ultimately leading to the rise of ten kings. Consider Pete's insights alongside a recent article by Michael Schuman in The Atlantic. He writes, "[China's] campaign portrays the U.S. as a nation obsessed with war and its world order as unjust, unstable, and unable to solve the world's pressing problems... What better way for China to prove the superiority of its program than to seek peace? On the anniversary of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Beijing announced a 'peace plan' for the conflict. The statement was nothing of the sort... But its purpose was more likely a headline-grabbing advertisement for Beijing's ideas for a reformed global order... Washington was cold toward China's peace proposal, but that response suited Beijing just fine. It offered an opportunity for Beijing's diplomats to claim that they wish for peace while the U.S. perpetrates war." Will the ten kings arise from ten nations in Western Europe which is the more popular view or is the geopolitical landscape morphing into what will eventually become ten regions from which ten kings will arise? Time will tell. The closer we get to these things the clearer our focus will become. The fog will finally fully lift and we will be able to see more clearly than ever before. One thing is for certain, however--America is decreasing and things are changing and they are changing quickly. The speed at which prophetic trends seem to be occurring and converging is something to consider. Finally, to quote my good friend Jack Kinsella--now with Jesus--"Isn't it amazing that given all the directions things could go, they always go in the direction prophesied in the Bible." Yes, Jack, it is amazing. We'll see you soon!