The End Times are generally based on divisions of what has come to be called 'The Great Year'. This is a reference to the amount of time it takes for the precession of the equinoxes to move one full circuit, or somewhere between 24,000 to 26,000 years. Some cultures have divided this period of time into four, such as the Hopi, some have divided it into five, such as the Mayan, Aztec and Toltecs, some have divided it into eight, such as the Etruscans, Celts and their megalithic predecessors, and some have divided it into twelve, such as those of us in western civilization.
We call this division the twelve ages.
Many of these traditions provide clues that lead us to think that they are talking about the current end times, the end of the Age of Pisces and the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. But the Book of Daniel gives us a glimpse of another 'end time', the end of the age preceding our own, the end of Aries. As each Age comes to a conclusion, there is the end of a period of cultural continuity, of social adhesion that gives way to a new manner of being. Writing at the beginning of the 6th century BC, Daniel is looking ahead to the end of his own era which he foresees in the 2nd century BC, some four centuries in the future. It takes shape as portions of two dreams, as he gazes into the visions of the night. The angel Gabriel sets the stage for Daniel as he says, "Son of man, understand this; the vision shows the time of the end."
He then continues,
"Come," he said, "I will tell you what is going to happen when the wrath comes to an end; this concerns the appointed End."
The 'appointed End' (capitalized in the Jerusalem Bible) is the 'end' of the Age of Aries. It is the 'end' ordanied by, and seen coming on the clouds of, heaven.
After successfully interpreting the dreams and enigmas of the King, in Chapter 7 Daniel has a dream of his own. He envisions four beasts rising from out of the sea. The Sea is the Cosmic Ocean that is the sky and all that is in it, and the Earth and all it contains. From out of this will emerge four kingdoms. That of the Chaldeans (the one that he is presently living in and serving under), the Medes, the Persians and finally the Greeks.
In his second vision, beginning with Chapter 8, he has a dream which focuses on the latter two of these four kingdoms, the most powerful of the four. The Persians are imagined as a ram with two horns, the latter of which was taller than the former. The Persians consisted of a kingdom that was really a joint kingdom, shared by the Medes and the Persians. The Persians (the taller horn), rose to power after the Medes, conquered them, and absorbed them into their ruling hierarchy.
The final kingdom is that of Alexander, pictured as a "he-goat that came from the west." Greece indeed lies to the west of Persia. This goat had one majestic horn, which was Alexander. This goat advanced on and charged the ram, knocking it down and breaking both of its horns. The Greeks smashed the Persian Empire in a devastating blow, advancing as far as India.
From Daniel 8:8,
"Then the he-goat grew more powerful than ever, but at the height of its strength the great horn snapped, and in its place sprouted four majestic horns, pointing to the four winds of heaven."
At the height of his power Alexander died, leaving no heirs. His superlative kingdom was divided into four lesser ones amongst his generals.
The Hellenistic Kingdoms were originally split up between Macedonia (Cassander), Egypt (Ptolemy), Asia Minor (Lysimachos) and the east (Seleucis).
Historians and Biblical researchers often attempt to graft onto this lineage the Roman Empire, which was to eventually absorb the Hellenistic Empires, but what they fail to understand is that this was the start of a new era and a new vibration. The benchmark in time, the End Times or the appointed End, had already passed. It is the Greek Empire, specifically represented by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who defile the Hebrew Temple and its most sacred shrine, and finally close the door on the Age of Aries.
In Chapters 11 and 12, these appointed 'End Times' are again specifically referenced (11:35, 11:40, 12:4) and a fuller picture is given.
"Forces of his will come and profane the sanctuary citadel; they will abolish the perpetual sacrifice and install the disastrous abomination there."
"Of the learned some will be brought down, as a result of which certain of them will be purged, purified and made white- until the time of the End, for the appointed time is still to come."
Daniel's 'visions in the night' are in part looking to heaven to determine the time line laid out there. As the Vernal Equinox aligned with Theta Aries in 625 BC, the Chaldean (626 BC) and Medes (625 BC) Empires are getting their start, fulfilling the requirements of his dream. At the end, the Vernal Equinox is aligning with Gamma Aries (Mesarthim) in 168 BC, the last of the three stars in the horns of the Ram, and the last major star (percessionally speaking) in the constellation of the Ram.
Aries was over, together with all that represented. This was the appointed end, foreseen in dreams and visions in the night of which Daniel spoke.
The Romans are part of a new chapter which lays the groundwork for the Christian Church to move in and set up shop. The Roman Republic had been part of the Age of Aries. The Roman Empire was part of the Age of Pisces.
With this celestial benchmark, the world did not end, but classical civilization came to a screeching halt.
"There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence."
"When these happenings were reported to the (Greek) king (Antiochus IV Epiphanes), he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery."
-2 Maccabees 5:11-14
The Book of Daniel was written for the Judaic people. To have their holiest shrine descecrated, to have their capital city descimated, was indeed an unparalled blow.
That kind of great distress.
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