One thing people notice about the Signpost interpretation is that even though Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 are indeed talking about the same Second, Third, and Fourth Signposts, why does Daniel 7 have a First Signpost, and Daniel 8 does not? All the events in each of the two chapters have counterparts with each other, except for the lion with wings in Daniel 7. If Daniel 7 and 8 are indeed written in God’s word to tell us of the exact signs that Jesus told us to “watch”, what purpose does a First Signpost serve if it isn’t in both chapters? What is God trying to show His church?
Daniel 7 gives us the master timeline of the end times. Daniel 8 gives us some rich detail about those events. For example, Daniel 7 only tells us that the second event is a bear higher on one side, being told to gorge himself and he has three ribs stuck in his teeth. Daniel 8 gives us more detail telling us the three ribs are the three directions north, south and west, and that the ram will do all it wants and be supreme, and that the higher side comes up after the other side.
Two Requirements for any Persian Invasion
Both chapters tell us that the first great and common event between them is that Iran – the end times version of the Persian Empire – will run out to the north, south, and west. The word for “west” in our English Bibles is yawm (Strong’s #3220) and it means “seaward” and towards the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, Iran must invade or occupy Syria as part of this western movement. Also, we are told that the ram will get to do all it wants to do which can translate into more conquests, or holding territory for an extended time.
Therefore, there are two key requirements for any invasion of Persia towards the west that must be accomplished for fulfillment of the Second Signpost: (1) Persia must conquer Syria, and (2) Persia gets to do all it wants to do when conquering Syria. These two requirements come from Daniel 8:4.
The Invasion in Historical Context
Every generation of Christian has watched for the second coming of Christ. This has been going on for almost 2,000 years. And for 500 years before that righteous Jews understanding Daniel would have also been watching for the series of events leading to the Messiah arriving and the saints taking possession of the entire world as it says in Daniel. We are not the first generation to watch for Christ, but hopefully we will indeed be the last. We are witnessing right now the preparations for Iran’s great invasion of the Middle East. Do you think we are the only ones that will have witnessed an invasion by Persians and Medes of Syria? No, there have been great invasions by Persia, of Syria, in the past that met the two requirements given above.
However, there is also a third requirement given us in Daniel 7 for a Persian invasion of Syria to be the Second Signpost: the invasion must be preceded by the nation that is or was Babylon, having a change in its type of government equivalent to the change from a lion to a man.
The Table shows the five great historical invasions of Syria by Persia, and the sixth – which is the one to come soon. For each great invasion, the conditions of the invasion are measured against Daniel 7 and 8, i.e. after invading Syria, did the Persian power get to do all it wanted? And was it preceded by the nation that is or was Babylon, have its government changed?
You see, that’s a major function of the First Signpost. The invasion by Iran must be first preceded by a change in government of Babylon/Iraq per Daniel 7, to provide the proper context to the invasion by Iran in Daniel 8. Otherwise, any time Syria would get invaded by Persia would result in alert Christians looking for Christ’s return. But it seems to me that God wants to give His children a little more information than that. Let’s look at each historical invasion in the Table and see what makes this next invasion different from the past invasions.
The Five Historical Invasions
The first invasion in history was by the Achaemenid kings of Persia, i.e. Darius, Cyrus, Cambyses, and Xerxes to name a few. Persia took Syria and went on to conquer Egypt and took territory all the way up to the doorstep of Greece. However, Babylon’s type of government did not change – it was ruled by a native king and then a Persian king. So this first invasion back around 539 BC was not the fulfillment of prophecy. Persia got to do what it wanted, but was not preceded by a major change in Babylon’s government.
The second invasion was by Seleucus, first king of the Seleucid Empire. He inherited Babylon and Persia from Alexander the Great. Ruling this new Persian Empire, Seleucus then went west and invaded Syria, making Antioch his new capital, while Babylon was the old capital. Babylon did not even change hands and so this invasion in 301 BC was not the fulfillment either.
The third was by the Parthian Empire. Twice (in 53 BC, AD 161) in its 500-year long series of wars with the Roman Empire this version of Persia completely conquered Syria. Babylon belonged to Parthia almost the whole time, but what made this situation not the fulfillment especially was that Parthia could not do all it wanted. It was constantly being hemmed in and thrust back by Roman forces.
The fourth invasion was by the Sassanid Empire. The Roman Empire had held back Parthian forces from entering Syria. After the Sassanids took over the Persian Empire in the third century AD, they conquered Syria in the early seventh century AD. The Sassanid Empire did get to do all it wanted. It took the areas around Syria and even for a while laid siege to Constantinople, the Roman capital itself. So much for Rome “crushing” Persia. Anyway, Babylon belonged to the Sassanid Empire the whole time. There was no change in government in Babylon.
The Roman Empire’s forces managed to make the Sassanids retreat back to their territory and Rome won a great victory. That long series of wars exhausted both Rome and Persia. Five years later Muslim forces then came like a whirlwind out of the Arabian Peninsula and attacked the Roman and Sassanid Empires simultaneously. After the Islamic Realm formed one great empire stretching from Morocco to Pakistan, it then fractured into pieces. Various empires jostled for control of the Islamic Realm. The Seljuk Turk Empire rose in the eleventh century AD to dominate Islam. Its base was Persia.
The fifth invasion from east to west, from Persia to Syria, was by the Seljuk Turk Empire in AD 1071. The Seljuk leader Alp Arslan led the Turk forces in a major victory against the Romans at the Battle of Manzikert which opened up Syria and Asia Minor to conquest. The Seljuks did get to do all they wanted ruling the Middle East for a century, and the area around Syria for twice that. However, this was not the fulfillment either, for Babylon belonged to the Seljuks and had no change in government.
For nine centuries after that there was no invasion by Persia into Syria. There were ruling principalities fighting for their little piece of land. Then the Mongols swept through conquering everything. And from AD 1501 to 1920, the Safavid Empire ruled Persia in the east and was at enmity with the Ottoman Empire in the west much like the Parthians were with the Romans centuries before. The Pahlavi dynasty then took over in Iran and contended with European powers carving up the Islamic Realm.
The Sixth Invasion to Come
But it was in AD 1979 that the Islamic Republic of Iran was founded by the Ayatollahs. For decades after 1979 it grew in military power, and its ideology to conquer the Middle East and spread its new Islamic revolution to all the countries in the area in order to bring about the Mahdi, was its sole focus. By 2015 it seemed its plans were nearly ready. The pieces were falling into place: Russia in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, the nuclear deal, the rocket program. Meanwhile during the years between 1979 and 2015 the independent nation of Iraq, the end time inheritor of Babylon, did indeed go through a major change in type of government from the dictatorship of Saddam to a democracy. The former government ruled by fear where a tyrant like Saddam Hussein had all power over life and death of every last citizen. The latter government allowed every Iraqi citizen (even women!) to vote for their representation freely.
This is it. For the very first time in history since Daniel 7 and 8 were written on parchment, if Iran invades Syria and is allowed to do all it wants to do, this great sixth invasion by Persia of Syria will have been preceded by Babylon having its government type changed. This is what is called out in Daniel 7. It seems we are set for fulfillment of the Second Signpost of Daniel 7 and 8 for the very first and only time in history. And Daniel 7 with the lion with wings tells us so.
It seems to me that God is making clear that just any invasion by Persia into Syria is not necessarily the next great event leading to Christ’s return. No, He is showing us that Babylon’s government must change first. And it just did a decade ago. By this we can know that the Persian invasion of Syria to follow is the one that will fulfill Daniel 7. Thank you Lord for giving us Daniel 7. Come, Lord Jesus!
[Note: In my new book I will be showing how Daniel 7 is the master timeline of the end times, using Scripture to verify Scripture. This post is a side note resulting from this work. MD]