For nearly thirty years now I’ve been encourage and thrilled with the writings of authors like Dyer, Tobey, Hitchcock, Ice, Horner, Lahaye, and their peers as they’ve explore the prophetic pages of the Bible. Their genuine love and respect for the Bible’s prophetic word has inspired me with a similar lifelong love of Bible prophecy and the promise of the messiah Yeshua’s return. Reading Charles Dyers and Mark Tobey’s new book Clash of Kingdoms reminded me of my first prophecy conference. The plane ticket was a gift from my mother for my 18th birthday and for a homeschooled kid from Arizona that trip to the other side of the continental US was an adventure I’ll never forget.
Today as Mr. Dyer and Mr. Tobey so aptly explain, the signs of the Messiah’s return are clearer and more numerous than they were nearly three decades ago. To be sure, the world stage has changed a lot since then, but as the authors of Clash of Kingdoms explain many of the bad actors in this prophetic drama are still present and waiting for their part in the final countdown to the Messiah.
Clash of Kingdoms: What the Bible Says About Russia, Isis, Iran, and the End Times is a well written overview of what the authors believe the Bible’s prophetic text described in the time leading up to the 2nd coming of Yeshua. Written from a pre-tribulational theological perspective the authors lay out a framework of end time events in seven easy to read chapters. The chapters include:
1. The Problem of the Nations
2. The Bear is Back
3. After ISIS
4. Duplicitous Iran
5. Picking up the Pieces
7. A Woman in a Basket
Of these chapters 1, 6, & 8 stood out to me. Chapter 8 was especially encouraging. There the authors explained why we as believers should not have the spirit of Fear but rather Faith in these increasingly tumultuous times. The books is rather short and can be read in just a few hours
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In the spirit of respectful disagreement and what I hope is constructive criticism there were two areas where I felt the book could have used a more in-depth explanation of the authors point of view. They include:
• The author’s understanding of Ezekiel 38 & 39
• The author’s understanding of Daniel 9 and the prophecy of 70 weeks.
These two areas are foundational the authors framework of end time events described in this book and as such they deserve a thorough examination so the reader gets a real grasp of the basis for the authors eschatological beliefs.
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Regarding Ezekiel 38 & 39 the authors believe that this invasion of Gog & Magog takes place when Israel is dwelling securely sometime during or before the final 7 year tribulation. I think the authors could have better explained how they reconciled this interpretation with the multitude of references which show that “dwelling securely” (Yashab betach) is almost exclusively used in the Old Testament in reference to Israel’s status during the Millennium. The ancient Biblical promise of Israel dwelling securely in the Promised Land comes first form the Leveticus 25 & 26 and is a promise contingent upon Israel’s obedience to the Torah. Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 28, 34, and Zech. 14 clearly describe Israel “dwelling securely” in their land as a millennial promise given to Israel during the reign of the Messiah.
Finally Ezekiel 39: 21-29 describes a period of time when Israel is will be dwelling securely in their land with none to make them afraid. While many see this as taking place before the millennium this exact phrase is use by Ezekiel in Chapter 34:23-25 to describe conditions during the millennium. In consideration of the fact that the book of Revelation describes a Gog & Magog invasion during the millennial reign of Yeshua when Israel is in fact dwelling securely in their land I think the authors understanding of the subject could have been more thoroughly explained to show how they reconciled these verses in their own interpretations.
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Regarding the authors explanation of Daniel 9 and the 70 weeks, this prophecy is woven into nearly every aspect of the author’s eschatological framework. This prophecy is really important to the thesis of this book, yet in the book their explanation of the prophecy has several weaknesses which should be explained so the reader gets a complete sense of how the authors understand this great propehcy. Here are a few examples of areas in the prophecy which the authors really need to explain their reasoning to the reader:
1. The commandment to restore and build
2. The chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah
3. Biblical Time
First the commandment. In this book the authors based their starting point upon a commandment given by the Persian king Longimanus. This commandment is one of four Persian decrees often used when interpreting the prophecy of Daniel 9. As with many of their peers, the authors do not explain that “commandment” comes from the Hebrew word – dabar- which means word, speech or utterance. Dabar is used 1439 times in the Old Testament and of those the vast majority refer to the word of YHWH the living God of the Bible. In Daniel 9 the word dabar is used four times. Of those three clearly refer to the words of YHWH. For the readers sake the authors should explain why they believe the word of YHWH to “restore and build Jerusalem” mentioned in Zechariah 1, Haggai 1 and Ezra 6 does not qualify as the “word” of Daniel 9:25. It seems incongruent why the dabar of YHWH the very person who gave the prophecy of 70 sevens is not even mentioned when discussing this most wonderful prophecy.
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Second, in order to establish Daniel 9 upon a solid contextual footing the chronology of the 2nd temple must be addressed. In this book the authors use Dr. Harold Horner’s interpretation of Daniel 9. Based upon this interpretation they have the “commandment to restore and build Jerusalem” as given in the year 444 BC during the reign of the Persian king Longimanus.
The challenge of reconciling this date is the fact that according to Dr. Horner view Ezra and Nehemiah had to be contemporaries of Longimanus. This is problematic for many chronological reasons, the greatest of which is that the Bible records the death of Ezra’s father in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. This then would make Ezra at his youngest a quarter of a century old than Moses. This same unreasonable age would apply to many of the priest and Levites of Nehemiah 10 & 12. As explained in Chapter 11 of their new book Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, Hindson and Ice explain that the Exponential Decay Curve proves that the lifespan of humanity after the flood decayed to roughly 70-80 years. This great disparity in the ages of the 2nd temple era needs to be explained in a reasonable manner in order for Dr. Horner’s interpretation of the Daniel 9 to be taken seriously.
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Regarding the authors implied usage of a 360 day prophetic year as it applies to Daniel 9 and the 70 sevens, at the very least it should be explained that this year is based upon an extrapolation of a statement in Genesis 7-8 that counts 5 months as equal to 150 days. This extrapolations of the limited statements of Genesis assumes that this 360 day calendar was a solar calendar and not based upon calculated 12 month 30 day calendar common in antiquity. Many ancient cultures used a 360 calendar but they also understood that this calendar convenience was not representative of an actual solar year. The missing 5 days of the solar year sometimes called, “five days over the year” was often intercalated at certain intervals to keep the calendar insync with the solar year of 365.24 days. That the solar year was actually 365.24 days is proven by many ancient calendars. A 365.24 day year was also a major factor in the construction of the Great Pryamid, Stone Henge and it is one of the factors of the Biblical unit of measure known as the cubit.
In Genesis 1:14 the Bible defines the basics of the Biblical calendar as including cycles of both the sun and moon. This means that any Biblical “calendar” must include both cycles and their intercalations in order to be accurate. Biblically speaking it is clear that from at least the time Exodus onwards the Bible’s calendar consisted of a 365.24 day solar year and a 29.53 day lunar cycle. When Daniel 9 was given this was the calendar in use at that time. Further when Yeshua fulfilled the ancient Biblical holy days of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Shavuot, He did so based upon a Biblical calendar which used a 365.24 day solar year and a 29.53 day lunar month.
If indeed the Prophecy of Daniel 9 was intended to use a 360 day solar year and a 30 day lunar month as Dr. Horner believes, at the very least a reasonable explanation must be made as to why the Bible keeps two kinds of calendars. Further it should be explained that those who hold a 360 day calendar believe that at some point before the final 7 year tribulation the Bible’s calendar will revert back to a 360/30 calendar. It should also be pointed out that the celestial readjustments required to change the Bible’s calendar back to such an arrangement will be quite earth shaking. (Remember by this theory it took the cataclysmic flood of Noah to give us the calendar we have today) I’ve often wondered why those who hold this belief do not talk about this coming catastrophic reordering of the lunar/solar cycles because it must take place at some point well in advance of the proposed 7 year tribulation in order for the cycles to be perfectly in sync by the time the final seventh week of Daniel 9 plays out. It seems rather unbelievable to me frankly that a catastrophe equal to or greater than anything mentioned during the great tribulation will take place before the final tribulation, yet it goes unmentioned in the Biblical record. If in fact the calendar is going to change at some point in the future it should be discussed.
In summary regarding Dr. Horner’s interpretation of Daniel 9 the above subject need to be discussed. Until they are dealt with in a contextual and reasonable Biblical manner Dr. Horners interpretation of the 70 sevens prophecy and any eschatological frameworks built upon it must be taken with a Berean’s skepticism.
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In conclusion if there is one principle I’ve learned from wonderful authors like Mr. Dyer and Mr. Tobey over the past three decades is that our understanding of Bible prophecy is a work in progress. None of us have all the answers. Each of us has a Berean’s responsibility to search the Scriptures to see if these things be so. My questions and disagreements with Mr. Dyer and Mr Tobey notwithstanding I’d encourage you to read their new book, Clash of Kingdoms: What the Bible Says About Russia, ISIS, Iran, and the End Times. See this wonderfully rich and important subject through their eyes and then open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.
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Author: Charles Dyer & Mark Tobey
Book Title: Clash of Kingdoms: What the Bible Say about Russia , ISIS, Iran, and the End Times
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse