God’s Word has purpose. Every chapter and verse has purpose. Isaiah 55:10-11 says,
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV) (emphasis mine)
Daniel chapters 7 and 8 are no exception. The visions given in those chapters have a God-given end-time purpose, and are the Scriptural text on which the Four Signposts are based as presented in my book, Hidden In Plain Sight. If this new interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8 is true, then only now in the end times is the true purpose being revealed. We know that their true purpose could not be known until the end time because God said in Daniel 12:9 that these words were to be sealed and hidden until the end time.
Daniel 7 and 8 were traditionally thought of as having served their purpose, prophesying of ancient events that happened only two or three centuries after Daniel’s lifetime. But now we know that these chapters have only an end-time fulfillment (according to Daniel 7:12,17; 8:17,19), serving as signposts telling the world that this current age is coming to a close, and that the return of the King of Kings is getting closer.
We can think of mankind’s history as a road, and we human beings are the travellers along this road. World events – whether worldwide or local, great or small – are the features, vistas, and activities that can be seen from the road as one travels along the road. We Christians believe that at some point the road will end, or make a great change, upon the physical return of Jesus Christ. At that time the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Christ (Revelation 11:15), and so a great paradigm shift in human society will occur.
To better understand why these four sets of events spoken of in Daniel 7 and 8 can be thought of as signposts, and what is God’s purpose for Daniel 7 and 8, the U.S. Government might be of help, believe it or not. As it turns out the U.S. Government has made a study of signs and signposts and has derived a set of requirements for what makes an effective sign. From one of the U.S. Government’s many regulatory and informational websites, there is the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). In Chapter 1A, Section 1A.02, the MUTCD gives guidance to the placement and design of signs and signposts, or as they are called, traffic control devices:
“To be effective, a traffic control device should meet five basic requirements:
A. Fulfill a need;
B. Command attention;
C. Convey a clear, simple meaning;
D. Command respect from road users; and
E. Give adequate time for proper response.
Design, placement…are aspects that should be carefully considered in order to maximize the ability of a traffic control device to meet the five requirements listed in the previous paragraph.”
The visions in Daniel 7 and 8 tell us of events that are to be signposts for us. But if they truly are to be signposts, then God would have placed them in history’s timeline and constructed them to be useful. Let us now look at each of the five aforementioned requirements, and compare them to the Four Signposts.
First, the Four Signposts are to fulfill a need. Jesus told us of the need to be watchful. Jesus told the disciples about all the things that were going to happen in the end times in Matthew 24:4-31 (wars, Tribulation, His return). He then told us in Matthew 24:32 about the lesson we should learn from the fig tree of knowing the season we are in. And He said next in verse 33 that when you see all these things (in verses 4-31) you know the end is near, right at the door. Then in verse 34 He said that all these things would occur in the span of one generation.
The popular idea in the church these days that nothing more must happen prophetically until the Rapture or Tribulation occurs, is false. Not only did Jesus tell us to learn to read the seasons, but He told us to be watchful. How can we read the seasons over a whole generation of time if we are just waiting for a single event which could be years or decades away? So these Four Signposts fulfill a need – they teach us how to read the seasons. They are to be used by the saints to know the season we are in. This will help us stay alert, not asleep, and motivate us further to witness to others of the impending return of the King because we can literally see the time is getting shorter with each Signpost.
A sign can be either be a warning, or a guide. As a warning a sign “gives notice of a situation that might not be readily apparent.” An example is that a curve is ahead which cannot be seen. The Four Signposts are telling us of the things to watch for; what to expect prior to the Tribulation. As a guide, a sign “shows route designations, street names, destinations, directions, distances, services, points of interest, and other geographical, recreational, or cultural information.” As a guide, the Signposts tell us that the end is not yet. For instance, when the leader of Turkey is leading the four-nation confederacy I believe many will think that without a doubt he is the Antichrist. He will be leading a huge nation that will cover the Middle East. But he is not the Antichrist, for he is still yet to come.
Second, the Signposts are to command attention. According to a U.S. Military Traffic Engineering newsletter which interprets the MUTCD requirements, “When developing a signing plan, it is important to use only signs that motorists understand.” They must also be easily seen. God’s Word has given us the keys to understand these visions here in the end times. Having the benefit of centuries of world history behind us we can determine what the seven heads represent. We can see these four sets of events being fulfilled. We can see that these four sets of events involve specific countries doing specific things. When Saddam ruled and then Iraq was democratized, the world media noticed and reported it. And now Iran is getting ready for its starring role in the Second Signpost. These are major sweeping events that will grab attention. As the Signposts play out they will affect much more than merely news headlines. They will affect your ability to put food on the table, and to make a living. Oh yes, these Signposts will be more and more noticeable. The purpose of the message of the Four Signposts is to teach people what the four events truly are.
Third, a sign should convey a clear and simple meaning. They should be legible, and have a simple message. The Four Signposts are simple. It may take many months or years for a Signpost to play out, and their may be many different people and minor events involved, but it all sums up to one major theme. Simplistically the Four Signposts can be described as:
1) Saddam rules and then Iraq is democratized;
2) Iran charges out and conquers much of the Middle East;
3) Four nations band together and take back the Middle East, forming one great nation;
4) The one nation breaks into four, and there is war as the four jostle for supremacy and they are all re-united by force.
The message of the First Signpost with Saddam and Iraq could be thought of as, “We have finally arrived at the end times, and the last generation is now here.”
The message of the Second Signpost with Iran could be, “The years have advanced sufficiently and we are now at the next stage – the stage where the birth pains start to seriously intensify. ” Day-to-day life is going to become harder for most.
The message of the Third Signpost with the four nations could be, “No, the leader of Turkey is not the Antichrist yet, and birth pains will continue to intensify. At any moment the last stage will begin.”
The message of the Fourth Signpost where we see the man who is to be Antichrist uniting the four new fragmented nations and assembling his empire as, “This is it. When these wars are over and these nations are united, the Tribulation will begin.”
Fourth, a sign should command respect. It says “pay attention!” These Signposts will get the attention of everyone on the planet. The problem is, will people know what they are saying? The lexicon, this message, must go forth so the saints can understand.
Fifth, a sign should be placed to “give adequate time for proper response.” The First Signpost was placed in time to tell us that the end times had officially begun. The Second, Third, and Fourth Signposts are spaced out in times pre-ordained by God to let us all know that we are step-by-step closer to the final seven years. And the Second Signpost, which is the ramping up of the end time trials, has as a precursor the longer horn of the ram’s two horns growing up later. We are given a short time, a few years at most which we are in right now, before the main event of the Second Signpost begins.
In conclusion, God is not silent about the years between the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948, and the Tribulation in the future. He has ordained that there are signposts to be read at intervals leading up to the Tribulation. He has given us the keys to know what season we are in.