The Balkans in Prophecy
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1997
In geo-political circles it is recognized that the Second World War was an outgrowth and an extension of the First World War which itself had its beginnings with key events that took place in the Balkans region of Europe. Throughout the history of Western Civilization the wars between Europe and the hordes of migrating warriors coming from the hinterland of Asia have had their connections with the Balkans. This is the easternmost peninsula of Europe between the Adriatic, Black and Mediterranean Seas (with the Danube River basin its main drainage area). From this region Alexander conquered the Empire of Persia. Rome considered this region to be the most strategic in its defense from the wild Germanic and Asiatic throngs during the Empire. Today, we find the Balkan region back again in its normal history-making role of being significant. And, prophecy shows that from this region will soon emerge a powerful new influence in political affairs that will affect all Europe, Asia and the world. It is time to focus on this volatile region of the earth.
The word "Balkans" is a geographical term of modern Turkish origin. It simply means "mountains." The Turks, when they became the possessors of this part of the earthís real estate during Ottoman times, began calling the region that of the "mountains." Significantly, it was the Turks who brought the religion of Islam into this region of Europe from the fifteenth century at the same time that Islam was being expelled in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The Balkans (especially in the west and along the Bosporus) represent today the greatest concentration of Islamic peoples who claim as their native home the continent of Europe. And when Turkey began withdrawing from the region in a step by step way, they left behind many people who had been converted to Islam. This is one of the main problems in the area, but it will be resolved by a ruler who is soon to emerge according to prophecy. Turkey, now, has only the extreme southeast corner of the Balkans under its rule, while Greece occupies its lower part. Islamic Albania is found in the southwest. Croats and Slovenes (mainly Roman Catholics) are in the north and there are Croats and Serbs in Bosnia/Herzegovena (with many Moslems living in this area). The Orthodox Serbs are also in the eastern parts, with Bulgars further to the east, and Romanians in the northeastern region. Other races are scattered in the area.
It is an area with a great deal of ethnic and religious diversity, and it is potentially a powder keg of instability as far as world peace is concerned. Since this is the case, just what does the Bible have to say about the various types of peoples who live in this area of the world? What are the prophecies that relate to them and Turkey, Israel and the Arab/Persian worlds? Indeed, some prophecies are just now beginning to be understood that concern the people of the Balkans. It is looking more certain from prophetic indications that from this very region will soon develop a very powerful European influence which will wage a successful confrontation with Turkey, Iraq and Iran. This political victory will be a fundamental factor in establishing a central prophetic scenario that will introduce what the prophet Daniel called "the time of the end." Out of a part of this region, we will witness the development of a major power at this end-time which is called in prophecy the "kingdom of the north" which is mentioned in Daniel 11:6. This end-time power will have great authority in matters dealing with the Middle East and it will particularly affect political affairs in Israel, and strangely, its focus of power will not be in the military sphere of influence. Its power will be mainly economic and sociological, and there will be religious changes.
As for us in America and western Europe, it will be to our advantage if we pay close attention to the prophecies about this area of the Balkans of which we are hearing so much in the news today. But before it is possible for anyone to comprehend what these prophetic indications represent and how they can be correctly understood, we must be acutely aware of some essential prophetic principles which govern Biblical interpretation. Let us now rehearse briefly some of these fundamental concepts of interpretation which can help us to realize essential prophetic truths.
The chief theme of the majority of prophecies both in the Old and the New Testaments is the introduction of the Kingdom of God on earth. There is much information about the close of the present age and the beginning of the next in which full righteousness under the biblical Messiah will transpire on earth. It could be said that a full three quartersí of biblical prophecy pertain to these matters. The Book of Daniel is no exception to this. Though in his prophecies, Daniel relies on the interpretation of the image of chapter two which gives a thumbnail sketch of historical events from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the final events leading to the development of the Kingdom of God on earth, Danielís main concern is the very last generation of human history just before that Kingdom of God is established. Other than a detailed prophecy about the arrival of the Messiah which he gave in what is called the Seventy Weeksí Prophecy (Daniel 9), the thrust of Danielís prophetic discourses is about the final four powers to exercise rule on earth who will reign until the last seven years of human history at the very end of this age. It is important for all interpreters to understand this point if they ever hope to make any sense out of Danielís prophetic teachings. And this applies to his major prophecies which some modern scholars feel are only to be understood in a historical sense with a view to events that occurred in the past and are not to be repeated in the future. The scholars are right in one way. The events mentioned by Daniel are not to be repeated in the future because the majority of Danielís prophecies have never yet occurred. This is one of the most important principles to recognize if anyone hopes to comprehend properly what Daniel was speaking about some 2500 years ago. It is the first principle to acknowledge. Let us see an example of it in Danielís writings.
The final prophecy that Daniel was shown (and in great detail) was that called the "Scripture of Truth" mentioned in Daniel 10:21. That prophecy is recorded for posterity from Daniel 11:2 through Daniel 12:3. The whole of that prophecy was one that was not to be fulfilled in Danielís time (nor would the prophecy even begin in the age of Daniel). Daniel was told that "the time appointed was long [that is, it would happen after a great deal of time had passed]" (Daniel 10:1). The angel Gabriel told Daniel that "I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days [hence]" (Daniel 10:14).
Look at this prophecy called the "Scripture of Truth" in Daniel 10:21. It would begin with four kings of Persia and followed by a mighty king from the region of Javan (which some restrict to Greece). These were the first five kings mentioned in Daniel 11:2-4. But then in verse 5, the "Scripture of Truth" introduces the first of two (or, maybe, three) kings who are called "the kings of the south." These kings of the south rule in succession to one another. Yet in verse 6 is introduced a "king of the north" who rules as a single king for several years until his death as recorded in verse 19. In verse 20 is mentioned the second "king of the north" whose reign is very short. Then is recorded the third "king of the north" who is the vile person who will have a marvelous career of success to the extent that he is only destroyed at the time the archangel Michael stands up on behalf of Danielís people Israel (Daniel 11:45) and the resurrection of the dead takes place (Daniel 12:1-3) which we know from other scriptures occurs at the Second Advent of Christ.
If one counts the kings in the "Scripture of Truth" successively (as one should) by enumerating the four kings of Persia, one king of Javan, and then the three "kings of the north" which culminate in the emergence of the Kingdom of God on earth, there are exactly eight kings who rule in succession (with the seventh king of verse 21 ruling only a few days). Now note this. When the apostle John was given the vision recorded in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:9-18), he was also shown exactly eight kings (with the seventh king of verse 10 ruling only a short space). The precision of this agreement between the two accounts from Daniel and the Book of Revelation cannot be coincidental. And since we are told by John that the Kingdom of God under Christ Jesus begins to reign on earth just after his eighth king is deposed (just like we have in Danielís "Scripture of Truth"), there can be no doubt that John was simply giving a later commentary on what Daniel had recorded. In other words, the "Scripture of Truth" in Daniel 11:2 to Daniel 12:3 dovetails with the account given by John in Revelation 17:9-18. They are not intended to be similar to each other, they were intended to be identical! These eight kings rule at the end-time.
What this means is that Johnís first six kings are fully identified in the Book of Daniel, though John gives no ethnic or national identities to show who they were. But the first four of Johnís kings were the four Persian kings of Daniel 11:2 and Johnís fifth king was "the mighty king" who would come from Javan. And John said his sixth king was then living at the time when his vision was meant to be applied (Revelation 17:10, John said "one is"). This means that John was taken in vision into the time of the first "king of the north" (who was the sixth king mentioned in the "Scripture of Truth"). This king will live in the generation just before the time of the end. His prophetic history is recorded in Daniel 11:6-19. During this very period, which will last a few years, we are told in Daniel 11:14 that this is when some robbers of Danielís people will try to bring to pass the final historical actions recorded in the visionary experiences of Daniel which are designed to lead to the Kingdom of God on earth. And this is the precise time into which the apostle John was taken forward in history to observe what would happen in that last generation before the end of the age.
The apostle John wrote in Revelation 17 that after the sixth king there would remain two more kings (with the seventh of those kings ruling only "a short space" -- verse 10). And Daniel wrote in the "Scripture of Truth" that there would also be two more kings after his sixth king -- the first "king of the north" (with the seventh of those kings ruling only for a "few days" -- verse 21). The individuals mentioned in these verses of Daniel and in Revelation (as I have said) are all identical.
Let us now look at a prophetic truth which most interpreters today and of the past have not understood. Almost all people who look at this prophecy of the "Scripture of Truth" of Daniel (and without the slightest doubt entering their minds) state that the first four Persian kings mentioned by Daniel are those who lived in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. and that "the mighty king" (the fifth king) of verses 2-4 was Alexander the Great. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All the eight kings recorded in the "Scripture of Truth" (the four Persian ones, the one from Javan, and the three "kings of the north") all live in the period just preceding the Second Advent of Christ. They are the same eight kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-18. It is time to abandon the nonsense of most prophetic interpreters that there is a historical basis to at least the first seven kings of Danielís "Scripture of Truth," and that the eighth king is Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who is described up to verse 34).
Such interpretation is pure and utter tomfoolery of the highest order and I do not care what the rank happens to be of the scholar, theologian or preacher who says such absurdity. Why, even a superficial study of Persian history from the time of Cyrus (when Daniel received the vision of the "Scripture of Truth") shows there were not four more kings of Persia up to the arrival of Alexander the Great. Indeed, there were four kings up to Darius I the Great, and then followed six more kings to Darius III and there were three more kings in the ruling line of Artaxerxes II (Mnemnon). See the New Bible Dictionary, page 915, for a table showing these fourteen kings of Persia (not simply the four kings that the "Scripture of Truth" states). Daniel is not even referring to any of those fourteen kings of history that governed Persia! He is speaking about four future Persian kings who will reign as the first four kings in a series of eight kings who will altogether represent the last prophetic kings of importance until the Kingdom of God is established on earth. Clearly, the fifth king of the "Scripture of Truth" is NOT Alexander the Great! He is a future king of Javan who will succeed the four Persian kings of the prophecy.
And there is more. Scholars are prone to say that the "kings of the north" whom Daniel had reference to were the Seleucid kings who followed Alexander the Great. It is pure nonsense to state such a thing. Indeed, starting in verse 6 of the "Scripture of Truth" there is only one king of the north being discussed up to verse 19. But what do the scholars and preachers do today? They count all the Seleucid kings from Seleucis I Nicator to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (from 301 B.C. to 165 B.C.) which history shows represent nine kings (not three kings like the "Scripture of Truth" tells us), and then they have the gall to say that Daniel mistakenly leaves out some of these important kings. So certain are the majority of historians that they are right (who have a theological bent) that they often accuse Daniel in his "Scripture of Truth" of falsifying some of the accounts of these Seleucid kings to make his story complete. The truth is, the "Scripture of Truth" is not even talking about a single one of those nine kings of the Seleucids who ruled from 301 B.C. to 165 B.C. The "Scripture of Truth" mentions only three "kings of the north," so why donít the scholars and preachers believe what it says rather than making up historical "corrections" of their own of what they think Daniel should have said in order to keep Daniel from being erroneous? Their reasonings are not only absurd, such judgments are not fair with the text. The apostle John, however, knew that such a thing would happen (such an interpretation was already occurring in his day), so he wrote Revelation 17 which showed that the eight kings of the "Scripture of Truth" were the same as his eight kings of the end-time. John made all of these eight kings to be in existence in the period just before the Kingdom of God would be established on earth with the Second Advent of Christ. The apostle John verifies Daniel.
Let us now look at an important point that almost everyone else in the field of prophecy is overlooking except you readers of A.S.K. material. We believe it is important for biblical commentators to recognize and take into account.
Look at the fifth king of Danielís "Scripture of Truth" who is mentioned in Daniel 11:2-4. This is the king who is prophesied to arise from the area of Javan (which the King James translation reckons as Greece). The KJV is partially correct in using the restrictive sense of the word "Javan," but we must look at all meanings of the word "Javan" found in the biblical revelation. It may be that the term is more expansive than many people imagine. As a matter of fact, in the Table of Nations shown in Genesis 10, we find that "Javan" embraces in the greater sense an inclusion of all southern regions of Europe from Greece, the Balkans and Western Asia Minor (Elishah), over to Spain (Tarshish), Kittim (Italy), the island of Rhodes and all its adjacent regions (Dodanim or Rodanim), plus most of the islands of the Mediterranean (Genesis 10:4,5). Possibly, by the time of Daniel, the term "Javan" appears to be applied more restrictively in scope and it meant Greece Proper, Macedonia, the southern Balkans and western Asia Minor. For the restricted meaning, see Joel 3:6 and maybe Zechariah 9:13. But even here, we must be careful in our interpretation. In contrast, the restricted meaning of "Persia" also limits its location to modern "Iran," but in Danielís time "Persia" in an unrestricted sense meant all the land east to the Indus River, and it even included Egypt. So, maybe "Javan" is to be understood in the same unrestricted way. It is not the context itself which makes the word "Javan" to be restrictive. It could have the wider meaning even in Joel and Zechariah, so we should keep open minds on the interpretation of the prophecies in Daniel about a possible "Greater Javan."
Now note this point. Since the fifth king of the "Scripture of Truth" is not Alexander the Great as is normally taught by most scholars and preachers, this "mighty king" is yet to arise and just before the first "king of the north" (Johnís sixth king into whose period of time John was taken to see his visions of the time of the end). We should be looking for some powerful human being to emerge from this area of "Javan" (or some major angelic power to control it) who will put down the realm of Persia (modern day Iran) and humiliate that realm. Now, before we start thinking that the king who will do this will be like Alexander the Great, let us remember that this fifth king of the end-time is not Alexander, nor do we have any hints that Alexander was a type of him. That brings us to the next principle of interpretation regarding prophecy about the end-time that is often overlooked today by the scholars and preachers. Most people today simply think that the wars of the end-time will be the same kind of old-fashioned wars that the world has always been familiar with. But the prophecies of Daniel state that the conflicts at the very end will involve different types of warfare.
The apostle John showed us that the last eight kings which he mentioned in Revelation 17 (which dovetail with the eight kings of the "Scripture of Truth" in Daniel) are all carried by a Beast with a Harlot Woman sitting on all of them (Revelation 17:1-9). Since Johnís fifth king is the same as Danielís fifth king in Daniel 11:2-4, then this king (and kingdom) will be governed by all that the apostle John relates will motivate and permeate the philosophy of this Harlot Woman. And in this matter, the apostle John could hardly be plainer. In chapter 18 he describes the full character and motivation of this Harlot Woman who controls all these eight kings. The principal philosophy of this "Mystery Babylon" will be that it acts like the city and empire of Tyre of old (the great commercial, trading and manufacturing center of the ancient world). John devotes almost the whole of chapter 18 telling us the essential character of this end-time group of kings (eight of them) which will exist just before the Second Advent of Christ. It reflects the activity of Danielís Fourth Beast who is described in Daniel as being very diverse from the previous beasts (or civilizations) that existed on earth (Daniel 7:7,19). It will be a "warring" kingdom, but in a very different (or diverse) way. Most people will not even realize that it will be a warring power (that is, in the traditional way of war). Remember, it is Satan the Devil who deceives the whole world. The world will actually believe that this power is bringing about world government through peaceful means.
Back in April, 1990 in an article titled "Coming -- the New World Order," I mentioned about this diversification of this end-time realm. I showed that it (the final Beast power) will be so clever that it will take over control of the world without the type of war that the world has been used to in the past. He will astound the world with his new tactics. Indeed, he will do so primarily (as the apostle John tells us) by "warring" economically. He will also bring in social and religious changes that will pacify the world in coming to terms with him. And God will allow it.
The diversity that Daniel spoke about will be in its manner of conducting war. Among other things, the new "armies" will be composed of bankers, merchants, managers of services, educators, and all people who control the economic institutions in local, national and international affairs. As a matter of fact, his new army will be those not in military uniforms but in business suits. His army will be those who control economic affairs in all areas of the world. It is just that simple. It will be a global economic and social control that the final world order will be implementing. And believe me, we Americans are the very ones in modern history who have been the most vigorous of peoples in advocating these principles and procedures that the final Beast power will adopt and that he will implement to a fine art. As a matter of fact, there is really nothing wrong with these tactics on the surface, but if people use them to gain wealth and to control a world government without the principles of Christ Jesus being at the forefront of their civilization, such an economic and social system will finally result in disaster. And this is prophesied to happen in the end.
Now let us look at the brand new type of "warfare" that will emerge in regard to these eight kings (starting with the four Persian kings) who will rule successively at the end-time. Look at the fifth king of Danielís "Scripture of Truth." This fifth king will war with the fourth Persian king. The "conquering" that the fifth king will accomplish against the fourth king of Persia (Iran, but "Persia" was much larger in meaning in Danielís time) may not be conquering with outward military forces at all. It could well be an economic war that Daniel and John mean, because that is the type of "warring" that will be more in evidence at the very end of the age than the old fashioned type of butchery and mass killings of soldiers and civilians that we have been used to up to now.
Whatever the case, this fifth king of Danielís "Scripture of Truth" and the fifth king of the apostle Johnís chapter 17 are precisely the same king and he will come from "Javan." This king will exist in the generation just before the Second Advent. He is NOT Alexander the Great who lived over 2300 years ago. This end-time king will no doubt be revealed very soon for out of him will come four divisions (analogous with the four directions of the winds) and out of the north quarter of this quadriform prophetic division will emerge the sixth king (who is the first "king of the north" of Danielís "Scripture of Truth"). And it was into the period of this sixth king that John was taken in vision to start the prophecies in the Book of Revelation.
This sixth king we know will reign several years, but the seventh king who follows will rule only a few days and he will be succeeded by the final eighth king who will have a career lasting seven or so years of human history just before the Second Advent of Christ. We right now are heading in for the homestretch which is the last generation before the end of the age. We wonít have long to wait until the Kingdom of God will be on earth in all its glory under the rule of Christ Jesus.
There is one final point that each of us who loves the biblical revelation and its prophecies must take into account if one hopes to understand the events of the end-time. Remember, the Book of Daniel and its prophecies have been closed and sealed and they are only destined to be opened up (and this means even to our comprehension) at that crucial generation which introduces the end-time to the world (Daniel 12:4,9). Even we cannot know with precision what Daniel and the Book of Revelation are telling us until we get closer to that time when Christ says he will reveal these matters to his elect (Matthew 24:24).
One of the main reasons we have difficulty in precisely recognizing what the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are telling us is because much of the information reveals events that are conducted between the angelic powers in heaven and not all those events in these significant prophecies are those between humans on earth. This is an important principle to realize, but if we do not, then we are going to misunderstand what the prophecies themselves are all about. Let me explain what I mean.
Note that the whole of the "Scripture of Truth" is a revelation given by the angel Gabriel (Daniel 10). Indeed, the first thing Daniel was told was that the angelic power called the Prince of Persia hindered Gabriel from telling Daniel the contents of the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:13). This "hindering" lasted until the archangel Michael came to help Gabriel. That did not end the matter because the angel Gabriel said he still had to fight with the angelic Prince of Persia and then would come the angelic Prince of Javan. The implication of the text shows that the Javanic angelic Prince would also "hinder" Gabriel. This reminds one of the apostle Paulís statement in Second Thessalonians that there were various "hinderers" (or "withholders") who were in power and preventing the Roman Empire from being destroyed in order to bring in the final prophesied kingdoms on earth before the Kingdom of God (II Thessalonians 2:6,7). In Daniel, these were certain angelic powers whom God has given temporary powers in heaven and on earth and they can exercise great authority among human beings.
Note that the "Scripture of Truth" in Daniel is given a prologue about two of these angelic powers (the Princes of Persia and of Javan) who could "hinder" (or "withhold") even the angel Gabriel until Michael the archangel applied his power to help Gabriel. And then, at the very end of the "Scripture of Truth," again we have Michael helping at the time of the resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:1-3). This same Michael also figures in importance in the war in heaven that takes place at the end of the age in which Satan and his angels are expelled from heaven and then come to earth (Revelation 12:7-17). Now note this. Sometimes, it is difficult for us to understand when the prophecies are speaking about human kings or the angelic kings who govern and control human kings. Clearly, the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11-19 is an angelic power (often identified with Satan, but this is not so, since Satan has more power than the King of Tyre). Also, the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4-23 is an angelic power (often identified with Satan, but this is not so, since Satan also has more power than this King).
The simple truth is, it is possible that many (but not all) of the kings who are mentioned in the visions of Daniel (especially those of chapter seven, eight and those of the "Scripture of Truth") may well be the angelic powers who control some earthly kings. Indeed, we are told that the "little horn" of Daniel 8 will have such extensive powers that he "waxed great, even to [engage] the host [the army] of heaven; and it [he] cast down some of the host [the heavenly army] to the ground, and stamped [in superior stance] upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host [even the angelic Prince in charge of the heavenly army]" (Daniel 8:10,11). One has to admit that no human king on earth could of himself have such power so that he can conquer even the army of heaven in this engagement that Daniel describes. This "little horn" could hardly be Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B.C. who did no such thing.
But there is to be war in heaven at the end of the age and the outcome of it will have some profound effects on earth (Revelation 12:7-17). Now, when Jesus spoke about violence in heaven between the angels from the time of John the Baptist till that of Jesusí statement, there was in fact peace on earth in Palestine (Matthew 11:12). It appears that only after the wars in heaven are ended do their consequences find a fulfillment on earth.
So, what is Daniel trying to tell us in his prophecies? We will not have long to wait to comprehend just what Daniel and the Book of Revelation are trying to tell us. So, let us keep our eyes on the Balkans region. The fifth king of the "Scripture of Truth" as well as the fifth king of Revelation 17 happen to be the same king (either he is a human king or an angelic power) connected with "Javan" which includes the Balkans in its area of influence. We will have some interesting things to witness concerning human kings and the angelic powers in the next few years. Let us watch carefully these things that are prophesied.
Ernest L. Martin
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