Timeline of Eight Empires

Daniel chapters 2 and 7 reveal a timeline of four empires, such that during the time of the fourth empire, the Messiah will establish his kingdom throughout the earth. In my analysis of that timeline, I explain why I believe the fourth empire represents the Islamic Empire, not the Roman Empire as commonly taught.

The book of Revelation is similar in style to Daniel, in that it uses visions full of symbols and metaphors to portray future events. Both books are examples of a genre of literature known as apocalyptic literature.

Daniel 7 portrays the four empires as four beasts, of which the fourth beast is the most terrifying.
Daniel 7:7-8 says, "After these things, as I was watching in the night visions a fourth beast appeared – one dreadful, terrible, and very strong. It had two large rows of iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns. As I was contemplating the horns, another horn – a small one – came up between them, and three of the former horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This horn had eyes resembling human eyes and a mouth speaking arrogant things".
This is the same empire that in Daniel 2 is represented as legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. The feet represent the weak state of this empire when it is restored in the end-times. Likewise, in chapter 7, the horns, which represent rulers, reveal characteristics of its restored state. It will be restored initially as a coalition of ten rulers. Later, an eleventh ruler arises to take over, and deposes three of the original coalition rulers. This boastful ruler is identified elsewhere in the bible as the Antichrist.

Revelation gives us new perspectives of the fourth empire. In Revelation 12, John has a vision of a dragon with seven heads and ten horns, that is then clearly identified as representing Satan.
Revelation 12:3-9 says, "Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born…So that huge dragon – the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world – was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him".
The dragon is cast out of heaven onto the earth, and likely causes political chaos on the earth. Chaos is represented metaphorically by the sea in the creation story of Genesis 1. Out of a world that was empty and void and covered by sea, God created life and order.

In Revelation 13, John then sees a beast emerge out of the sea that has similar characteristics to those of the dragon. It also has seven heads and ten horns. Furthermore, in verse 2 we see that it is a composite of the first three empires of Daniel 7, represented by a lion, a bear and a leopard. So this end-time empire is like all the former empires combined into one. It also represents Satan's earthly kingdom and it is empowered by him.
Revelation 13:1-8 says, "Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God – to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed".
The significance of the seven heads is explained when we come across this same beast again in Revelation 17.
Revelation 17:8-14 says, " The beast you saw was, and is not, but is about to come up from the abyss and then go to destruction. The inhabitants of the earth – all those whose names have not been written in the book of life since the foundation of the world – will be astounded when they see that the beast was, and is not, but is to come. (This requires a mind that has wisdom.) The seven heads are seven mountains the woman sits on. They are also seven kings: five have fallen; one is, and the other has not yet come, but whenever he does come, he must remain for only a brief time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself an eighth king and yet is one of the seven, and is going to destruction. The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive ruling authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These kings have a single intent, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those accompanying the Lamb are the called, chosen, and faithful".
Verse 8 reveals that the end-time empire is a restored historic empire, because it once 'was, and is not, but is about to come up from the abyss'. But rather than this beast representing just a single empire, the seven heads represent seven empires. We are told they are seven hills, or mountains. In several Old Testament passages mountains metaphorically represent kingdoms (e.g. Isaiah 2:2). We are also told they are seven kings, and kings are synonymous with kingdoms or empires.

The heads of the beast in Revelation 13 represent an overview of Satan's earthly kingdom throughout history. These are seven empires, with a likeness of Satan himself, through which Satan has exerted his influence and rule over the earth. So these seven heads represent a timeline of seven empires.

In verse 10, John was told, "five have fallen; one is, and the other has not yet come, but whenever he does come, he must remain for only a brief time". John received this vision in the 1st Century AD, by which time the first three empires of Daniel 2 and 7 had already fallen. Because John names five here, not three, that had already fallen, we need to go two empires further back in Israel's history. That gives us the following timeline:
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    1) Egyptian Empire - fallen

    Stacks Image p3893_n3
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    2) Assyrian Empire - fallen

    Stacks Image p3886_n3
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    3) Babylonian Empire - fallen

    Stacks Image p3887_n3
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    4) Medo-Persian Empire - fallen

    Stacks Image p3892_n3
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    5) Greek Empire - fallen

    Stacks Image 3874
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    6) Roman Empire - "one is" in the 1st Century AD

    Stacks Image p3902_n3
    Identification of the Roman Empire as the 6th empire in this timeline (and not the 7th) is further evidence that the Roman Empire is not the end-time empire portrayed as the 4th Empire in Daniel 2 and 7.
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    7) Islamic or Ottoman Empire - "not yet come" in the 1st Century AD

    Stacks Image p3903_n3
    If this is the final empire, which is later to be restored as the end-time empire, then this also equates to the legs of iron in Nebuchadnezzar's vision of Daniel 2, and to the last and most terrifying beast of Daniel 7. The Islamic Empire went through various stages and Caliphates, including the Ottoman Empire which lasted from 1299 to 1922.
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    8) Restored Islamic Empire - "once was, and now is not"

    Revelation 17:11-14 says, "The beast that was, and is not, is himself an eighth king and yet is one of the seven, and is going to destruction. The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive ruling authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These kings have a single intent, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those accompanying the Lamb are the called, chosen, and faithful".
    The fact this is a restored kingdom that had previously fallen is also portrayed in:
    Revelation 13:3 "One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement".
    I believe the fatal head wound represents the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, together with the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate in 1924. The restoration of the Islamic Empire will astonish the world.

    This restored empire begins as a coalition of ten rulers who rule together for a short time (metaphorically "one hour" in 17:12). In order to understand who is behind the formation of this coalition, we need to look at the first part of the chapter:
    Revelation 17:1-7 says, "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me. “Come,” he said, “I will show you the condemnation and punishment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters,
    2 with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality and the earth’s inhabitants got drunk with the wine of her immorality.”
    3 So he carried me away in the Spirit to a wilderness, and there I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
    4 Now the woman was dressed in purple and scarlet clothing, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a golden cup filled with detestable things and unclean things from her sexual immorality.
    5 On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of prostitutes and of the detestable things of the earth.”
    6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of those who testified to Jesus. I was greatly astounded when I saw her.
    7 But the angel said to me, “Why are you astounded? I will interpret for you the mystery of the woman and of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns that carries her".
    This Great Prostitute, associated with a city called Mystery Babylon, represents the nation that sits on the beast and tries to control it. Most likely this nation also facilitates its restoration. For a detailed analysis of Mystery Babylon, please see my commentary on Revelation 17. Verse 3 identifies this as a desert nation. My belief is that this represents Saudi Arabia and Mecca.
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    Antichrist takes over the end-time empire

    Daniel 7:7-8 says, "After these things, as I was watching in the night visions a fourth beast appeared – one dreadful, terrible, and very strong. It had two large rows of iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns. “As I was contemplating the horns, another horn – a small one – came up between them, and three of the former horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This horn had eyes resembling human eyes and a mouth speaking arrogant things".
    The Antichrist is an eleventh ruler who arises to take over the end-time empire, and deposes three of its original coalition rulers. The Antichrist is referred to as Gog in Ezekiel 38:
    Ezekiel 38:2-6 “Son of man, turn toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and bring you out with all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them fully armed, a great company with shields of different types, all of them armed with swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Put are with them, all of them with shields and helmets. They are joined by Gomer with all its troops, and by Beth Togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops – many peoples are with you".
    'Chief prince of Meshech and Tubal' identifies the Antichrist as the ruler of Turkey. Meshech and Tubal were in eastern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). They are named in Ezekiel 27:13 alongside Javan (Greece and western Turkey) as nations that traded slaves and articles of bronze with Tyre. The Antichrist is also called 'The Assyrian' in Micah 5:5, and in several passages in Isaiah (e.g. Isaiah 14:25). The Assyrian empire included eastern Turkey, but also stretched across Syria and Iraq, and later across a wider area of the Middle East.

    When the Antichrist invades Israel, he leads a huge army that includes Persia (Iran), Cush (Sudan), Put (Lybia and possibly Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco), Gomer (associated with the Cimmerians of northern Turkey), and Togarmah (southern eastern Turkey bordering Syria). The fact these are all Islamic nations or regions today is further evidence that the Antichrist's end-time empire is a revived Islamic Empire, not a Roman one.
  • 637 - 1924 AD

    Antichrist and his end-time empire destroy the Great Prostitute / Mystery Babylon

    Revelation 17:16-18 says, "The ten horns that you saw, and the beast – these will hate the prostitute and make her desolate and naked. They will consume her flesh and burn her up with fire. For God has put into their minds to carry out his purpose by making a decision to give their royal power to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled. As for the woman you saw, she is the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth".
    After the Antichrist takes over the end-time coalition, he and his empire turn on the Great Prostitute (Saudi Arabia) who had previously controlled it. We know from Ezekiel 38 that Iran allies itself with the Antichrist in his invasion of Israel, and it is likely that Iran also sees this as an opportunity to invade its arch-rival, Saudi Arabia. Revelation 18 describes the sudden catastrophic destruction of 'Babylon the Great'. This equates with the destruction of Kedar in Isaiah 21:16 and likely refers to Mecca.