The United Kingdom in June 2016 voted by a referendum to leave the European Union. This attempt has been an ongoing debate since Britain joined the EU in 1973.
In following this historic vote, the Adventist Review—the official newsmagazine for the Seventh-day Adventist Church—released a short video “BREXIT AND PROPHECY” that links the Brexit to Daniel chapter 2. The Review wrote: “Details from the biblical book of Daniel continue to unfold before our eyes today. Find out what else we can learn about European tension from a king and his dreams thousands of years ago.”
Of course Britain’s attempt to exit the EU is a historic shock. Whether the vote will be recoiled or not this has been a significant event to the entire world. Why do Adventists see a connection between Brexit and Daniel Chapter 2?
The Bible contains so many genres in its narratives. Prophecy is one important genre of scripture mostly found in apocalyptic literatures and other books. It’s a gift often endowed on few privileged persons known as prophets. A prophet is God’s mouthpiece. Israel had so many prophets who were speaking for God. Examples may include Abraham, Nathan, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Deborah, Jonah, etc. As seen from scripture, prophecy can be both “forth-telling” or “fore-telling” or both, and it’s a phenomenon that ensures the surety of God’s Word and His sovereignty over all. Prophets like Daniel made predictions that were far beyond his generation in the sixth century B.C. and some were fulfilled as far as at the end of the seventh century A.D. (Mathew 24: 15). In as much as some Bible students try to differentiate between “what is prophecy” and “what is apocalyptic”, we can say that not all prophecies are apocalyptic but all apocalyptic messages are prophecies.
A focus on apocalyptic prophecies plays a key role in Adventism. Ellen White wrote: “As we near the close of this world’s history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel demand our special attention, as they relate to the very time in which we are living. With them should be linked the teachings of the last book of the New Testament Scriptures” (Prophets and Kings, p. 547).
Adventists are people of prophecy. It’s a church set on a prophetic movement and a sure mark of its eschatological worldview. To Adventists, world events, as they unfold, are not mere coincidental phenomena. The Bible has already revealed them to His servants the prophets, and it’s an indication that God is in control of the world and the soon coming of Jesus Christ is at hand. The Adventist hope is, therefore, carried within these theological wheels. This is the reason why the Brexit is an important event which many Adventists perceive it as having a direct correlation with Daniel 2.
The book of Daniel is an example of an apocalyptic literature. The prophet predicted the rise and fall of kingdoms, the coming of the Messiah, and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom. In Daniel 2, we have a record of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the dazzling metallic idol with head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of partly iron and clay. The dream ends with a rock, coming from nowhere, smashing the image into particles. And the rock became a huge mountain on the face of the earth. Daniel interpreted the dream to showcase a historical timeline and fate of successive kingdoms that will come after Babylon.
According to Seventh-day Adventist interpretation of Daniel chapter 2, the world is in the dispensation of the feet of the image, which the prophet pointed out to be a divided kingdom that can never be united into one kingdom. Adventists have long seen this divided kingdom as pointing to the history of Western politics. Uriah Smith wrote:
But all historians agree in this, that out of the territory of Western Rome, ten separate kingdoms were ultimately established, and we may safely assign them to the time between the dates above named; namely, A.D.351 and 476. The ten nations which were most instrumental in breaking up the Roman empire, and which at some time in their history held respectively portions of Roman territory as separate and independent kingdoms, may be enumerated (without respect to the time of their establishment) as follows: The Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Suevi, Burgundians, Heruli, Anglo- Saxons, and Lombards. The connection between these and some of the modern nations of Europe, is still traceable in the names, as England, Burgundy, Lombardy, France, etc. 1
The Brexit reminds Adventists of what the prophet said:
Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay (Daniel 2: 41-43).
Simply, Europe can never unite into one! If the feet and toes of the image represent Western nations trying to unite under the shade of the EU, then the stone is soon to strike the world. The stone, that smashed the image, according to Adventists’ interpretation, is the second coming of Jesus. For these reasons, Adventists are reminding the world that Brexit is a sign of the end time! This is the current understanding of Daniel 2 in Adventism.
- Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation. Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing, 1904, p. 63. ▲