Skip to content

BOOK REVIEW – Against the Flow, Part 2

April 22, 2018

“Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts” by Matthaus Merian (1630), Source (PD-Art, Old-100)

In Against the FlowThe Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism author, John Lennox analyzes the biblical Book of Daniel in depth.  In the latter part of the book, he addresses the four visions of Daniel which deal with end time prophecy.

Lennox compares these four visions to a series of photographs of the same image taken using different wavelengths of light.  Each vision reinforces the others while, also, providing unique information.  Combined they give us a clear picture of what the future holds in store for Christians and the world.

The Four Beasts

As many Christians know, Daniel first had a vision of four wild beasts emerging from a troubled sea.

These had the appearance of a lion with the wings of an eagle, a bear raised up on one side with three ribs between its teeth, a leopard with four heads and four wings, and an unnamed beast with ten horns and iron teeth.

The beasts represent a series of empires arising from the roiling sea of nations:  Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman.  The empires increase sequentially in ferocity.

John Lennox explains that the symbolism is comparable to that in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (the statue of a man with a head of gold, arms and chest of silver, stomach and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet a mixture of iron and clay).

Lennox links it, also, to Revelation, specifically the beast with ten heads, and seven horns described by John.  As Lennox explains to us, the fourth beast is not some abstract idea of power, but an actual human being in the person of the Antichrist.

Essential for an understanding of this dense symbolism is Paul’s discussion of the Great Apostacy and the Second Coming of Christ in 2 Thessalonians:

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.  The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2: 1, 3-4, 7-10).

Paul describes in plain language what Daniel and Revelation describe in symbolic terms:  the final form world power (and human rebellion against God) will take, and the utter destruction of such power/rebellion by Christ.

The Ram and Goat

In Daniel’s second vision, he saw a rampaging ram.  The ram was invincible until gored by a goat with a single horn.  At the height of the goat’s strength, its horn broke and was replaced by four others.  Out of one of these horns grew a small horn which increased rapidly to enormous size.  This horn desecrated the sanctuary, but was ultimately brought to justice by a heavenly court.

The ram is the Medo-Persian empire, and the goat the Greek.  The large horn of the goat represents Alexander the Great who was succeeded by four generals.

The little horn has been identified with the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, who took the title Antiochus Epiphanes or “God Manifest”.  Antiochus did everything possible to undermine the Jewish faith.  He stopped the daily burnt offering at the temple in Jerusalem, rededicated the Jewish temple to the Greek god Zeus, and sacrificed a pig on the altar (an event memorialized as the “abomination of desolation”).

Antiochus, however, was a foreshadowing of worse to come.  Nor will God always intervene to spare his people suffering.  There will, however, be a Final Judgment.  The Son of Man will come again, and the saints receive the Kingdom of God [1].

The Prophecy of Jeremiah

Daniel believed Scripture to be the Word of God.  His third vision was the result of a request that God end the Babylonian Captivity in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy of a 70 year length for the exile (Jer. 29: 1-14).

Daniel prayed with all his might for the welfare of Jerusalem, receiving assurance from the angel Gabriel that he was well loved by God, and that Jerusalem would eventually be vindicated.  This is the famous “seventy weeks” prophecy [2].

The Babylonian Captivity did end after 70 years.

The Book of Truth

Daniel’s last vision involved interaction with a heavenly messenger.  This messenger told Daniel about a series of conflicts between the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” (generic terms for 13 different kings).  These conflicts would continue to the “time of the end” when Israel would finally be delivered, and the dead would rise.

Daniel expressly stated that some of his prophecy would be “sealed”, i.e. not fully understood until the time of its fulfillment.

Lennox discusses the various time frames put forward for the end of days, but makes no attempt to identify the Antichrist or set a precise date for Christ’s return.


Throughout Against the Flow, John Lennox traces the destructive influence of the Enlightenment.  He holds the Enlightenment responsible for the view that religious values are subjective (therefore untrustworthy), and should be confined to the private realm.

The author challenges secular naturalism with its marginalization of God, and devaluation of human life.  He is adamant in his assertion that relativism (and with it atheism) “opens us to manipulation and deceit; so that in the end the ‘truth’ we believe is dictated by those who hold the power.”  He discusses Juche (the religious component of Kimilsungism) at some length, in this connection.

Key to the hope of Christians is Christ’s Resurrection from the dead.  The suffering of this life will not last.  The dominion of sin, Satan, and the Antichrist will end.  Those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will share life eternal with Him (Rev. 3: 5, 13: 8, 21: 27).

[1]  The Kingdom of God has an internal (spiritual) and an external (visible) aspect.  The internal aspect involves belief in Jesus Christ as our King and Savior.  The external aspect will involve the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom on Christ’s return (Rev. 20).  The Pharisees confused the two.

[2]  The “seventy weeks” prophecy at Daniel 9: 24-27 predicts that Jerusalem will be restored and the Kingdom of God ushered in after a total of 70 “weeks”.  Since a week is thought to refer to seven years, this would be 490 years.  For reasons too complex to discuss here, these are thought to be lunar years of 360 days each.  This prophecy predicts with astonishing accuracy the appearance of the Messiah in the Person of Jesus Christ and His death.  There are two major schools of thought as to whether the 70th week (relating to the end of time) immediately follows the earlier 69 or whether there is a gap.  Lennox takes the latter view.

Part 1 of this review was posted last week.


From → Christian, Faith, Religion

  1. Great review, and I’m convinced that I have to have this book. I am particularly interested in the authors take on the 70 weeks, as it sounds as though it mirrors my own. Thanks Anna.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: