I began studying the prophecies of the book of Daniel shortly after becoming a Christian. The identification of Daniel’s four kingdoms which I first adopted was the one which I assumed was that adopted by all Bible-believing students of the prophecies of Daniel, which is that his four kingdoms are to be identified as

1. Babylon
2. Medo-Persia.
3. Greece.
4. Rome.

Hoping better to understand Daniel’s prophecies, I bought a book from the church which I first attended, which was the Chiesa Evangelica delle Assemblee di Dio in Italia (Assemblies of God in Italy) church in Vicenza, Italy, which I attended at the time. In it, the author, an Italian baptist minister, forwarded the view that Daniel’s four kingdoms were to be identified as

1. Babylon.
2. Media.
3. Persia.
4. Greece.

Associating this identification with unbelieving critics of the book of Daniel, I gave this book short shrift.

But I found that for as long as I held to the Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome scenario, the more I studied the prophecies of Daniel, the more it just didn’t make sense, specifically regarding the following points.

1. How can the fourth beast of Daniel chapter 7, which is held to be Rome, be harmonized with the beast out of the sea of Revelation 13, which is said to be a Revived Roman Empire, or future stage of the Roman Empire, which the fourth beast is said to be? In Daniel 7, the “little horn” of that chapter uproots three of the ten horns on the beast (Dan. 7:8); in Revelation 17, it seems that the ten horns on the heads of the beast voluntarily give their power and authority to the beast (Rev. 17:13, 17).

2. In Daniel 7, according to this interpretation, the Antichrist is represented by a “little horn” on the head of the fourth beast. In Revelation 13 and 17, however, the Antichrist is represented by the beast itself, and not by one of its horns. The horns are ten kings who “give their power and authority to the beast” (Rev. 17:13).

3. In Daniel 8, we are presented with a second (if indeed he is a second) “little horn”. According to this interpretation the “little horn” of chapter 7 is said to be the future Antichrist, while that of chapter 8 is said to be Antiochus Epiphanes. And yet anyone coming to these two chapters without any preconceived notion as to their interpretation would naturally assume the “little horn” of chapter 7 and that of chapter 8 to be the same person.

4. Why the lengthy and incredibly detailed description of the warring Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties given in chapter 11 of the book of Daniel and which is said to refer to the third beast? Surely, one would expect to find such a description of the fourth, and final kingdom, not the third.

5. At what point in Daniel 11 does the “king of the north” cease to be a Greco-Syrian despot living a hundred or so years before Christ and become the future Antichrist?

For as long as I adhered to this identification of Daniel’s four kingdoms, the more I studied the prophecies of the book of Daniel the less it made sense, until eventually I despaired of ever understanding it and closed it with a sigh.

In the December of 1987, I received a letter from Johny Noer, inviting me to the Pilgrims to Jerusalem New year’s Conference, which was to be held that year on the island of Patmos, which Johny had recently visited. I felt strongly drawn to the idea of spending the last few days of 1987 with the Pilgrims, as I had done the last few days of the previous year. But I could not realistically afford to go, and, after discussion with Hansa, my friend Claudio’s wife, I decided not to go.

In a telephone booth in one of the bars in the sprawling Piazzale Cadorna, I phoned a Swedish Missionary couple who lived in Corinth, where the Pilgrim convoy was then stationed, in order to leave a message for Johny saying that I had decided not to go. Funnily enough, it was Johny who answered the phone. Within seconds, he had persuaded me to go, promising that the Pilgrims would give me some kind of financial help.

Thus it was that, shortly after Christmas, I found myself on the train to Athens in Greece. After two night’s journey, I found myself on the railways station in Athens, which is little larger than the one I had left two days earlier in Bassano del Grappa, Italy. (Most people travel by bus in Greece, and hence the railways stations are quite small, even in major cities like Athens.)

The Swedish couple, who met me at the station, then drove to the harbour in Piraeus, outside Athens and after greeting the Pilgrims, we got on the boat to Patmos.

Several hours later, after nightfall, I looked over the side of the boat at Patmos, the lights of the little harbour of Skala dancing in the dark waters of the harbour, and the head lamps of cars crawling along what I assumed to be a mountain road high above the shore.

Suddenly, I became aware of a dark-coated presence beside me. It was Johny.

“So, this is Patmos, where our brother Joannes, was exiled,” he began. “And somewhere up there on that mountainside is the cave where he received the Revelation!”

We stayed in the little harbour town of Skala and spent the next few days leading up unto New Year’s Eve, worshipping in some of the 365 chapels and prayer houses which are scattered on the island, including the cave where John is supposed to have received the visions recorded in the Book of Revelation, and praying that God in His time would give us the key to the book of Revelation.

During our visit, we were invited to visit the fortress-like Monastery of St. John Theologos, where we were warmly welcomed by the Abbot and shown the decree by the Emperor Alexis written exactly 800 years earlier giving the island to God.

Following our visit to Patmos, I returned with the Pilgrims to their encampment on a patch of ground near the beach of Lecheon, a few miles outside ancient Corinth. Behind the Pilgrim camp rose the mighty Akro-Korinth, while across the grey, placid waters of the halcyonic Gulf, rose the tapering headland of Perachora. Beyond that, one could see Mount Helikon and the snow topped peaks of the Parnassus massif. A little way along the beach to the right, in the direction of the Isthmus of Corinth, stood the foundations of a fifth-century basilica, which was all that remained after an earthquake had destroyed it in about 500 A.D. 

Johny had recently completed the draft of an unpublished book called Greece in Prophecy, and he asked me to help him with his work by reading and correcting it, to which I readily agreed. A year earlier, I had spent many hours correcting and typing out the manuscript of an earlier book he had written, titled, Wayfaring Men, and he was anxious that this time, I should simply make legibile corrections in pencil so that his German secretary, Maria, could then type out the final version.

As I sat in Johny’s Mercedes Mobilhome, which had, until recently, been parked on the quayside of the little harbour town of Skala, on Patmos, and which now served as my living quarters, or on a little wooden chair whch I had taken with me onto the beach, studying my Bible and making my corrections to Johny’s manuscript, I discovered, much to my dismay, that Johny had embraced the view which, hitherto, I had assumed was taught only by unbelieving critics of the Book of Daniel.

I immediately went to Johny with my concerns and, after some discussion, during which he replied to all my objections, I was won round to this new view. And suddenly, all the problems that I had had in understanding the book of Daniel simply vanished!

On my return to England in the summer of 1988, I found work for a few weeks in a language school in Cambridge. One Thursday night, I visited “the barn”, an outreach for overseas students at St. Barnabus Church on Mill Street. There I met and befriended Hugo Moule, the scion of a well-known family of Anglican theologians.

One afternoon, in Hugo’s bedsit, we listened to a recording of a talk on Daniel given by the British Bible-teacher, David Pawson, in which he advances the Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece interpretation of the prophecies of the book of Daniel. Hugo also lent me a book, God in Control, that had been written by his cousin, Dr. Robert Gurney, in which cogent arguments for the Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece view are presented. As I read Dr. Gurney’s book, any doubts that I might still have entertained as to the correct identification of Daniel’s four kingdoms vanished.

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