Taxes and prophecy in the Bible
Posted by adventbiblestudy on May 16, 2011
Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (2) (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) (3) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) (5) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Experience in Bible study will teach you how to identify unusual circumstances found within scripture. More often than not, when properly studied, these circumstances will lead to details hidden within God’s word. In this case we see the word taxed, repeated three times, in addition to the word taxing. A total of four variations of the word tax is used in five verses. Patterns like this are like the repeated tones of a trumpet call, begging further investigation into the word tax. We also find the word taxes in Daniel chapter 11.
Daniel 11:20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
The Bible shows a clear connection between the story of Jesus’ birth, and this prophecy in Daniel. Through divine inspiration Luke has recorded what may seem as an insignificant event in history, Caesar Augustus proclaiming a decree that all the world is to be taxed. Why would God influence Luke to record an increase in taxes, unless it leads to an important message in another part of His written word?
A study on variations of the word tax has been exhausted at this point. The most logical step to continue the study would be to examine other words in Daniel 11. A close examination of the text reveals some interesting points to consider. Some of the minute details are found in the phrase, “stand up,” and the word, “estate.”
Stand up: H5975 a^mad
A primitive root; to stand, in various relations (literally and figuratively, intransitively and transitively): – abide (behind), appoint, arise, cease, confirm, continue, dwell, be employed, endure, establish, leave, make, ordain, be [over], place, (be) present (self), raise up, remain, repair, + serve, set (forth, over, -tle, up), (make to, make to be at a, with-) stand (by, fast, firm, still, up), (be at a) stay (up), tarry.
Estate: H3653 ke^n
The same as H3651, used as a noun; a stand, that is, pedestal or station: – base, estate, foot, office, place, well.
The person responsible for raising taxes will either be appointed, or appoint himself. The phrase, “stand up,” also applies to a person who is ordained. This tends to point to a religious position. The word estate adds support to this consideration based on the fact it is defined of a pedestal or station. Kings are usually associated with a throne, commonly in a seated position. A pedestal is commonly associated with a pulpit, and religious position. Verse 21 continues to add details.
Daniel 11:21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
Flatteries: H2519 cha laqlaqqa^h
By reduplication from H2505; properly something very smooth; that is, a treacherous spot; figuratively blandishment: – flattery, slippery.
From his pedestal, or pulpit, another vile person, looked upon with respect will take over the kingdom with flatteries. In this case the word used for flatteries shows an overtone of treachery. Based on the word taxes, Caesar Augustus is the raiser of taxes prophesied in Daniel 11:20. Verse 21 introduces a new person. This new power, very much like the first, will appear to take the kingdom in a peaceful manner, but like most politics, there is an underlying treacherous side.
Daniel 11:22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
Verse 22 adds the key word, flood. The spiritual meaning to the word flood can only be found by comparing scripture with scripture. One of the most common texts describing a flood is found in Revelation chapter twelve.
Revelation 12:15-17 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. (16) And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. (17) And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation twelve clearly identifies details about the war between good and evil. In general terms, this is a battle between two religions, one serving God, the other Satan. Some of the details in Revelation twelve have a parallel, or association with those in Daniel eleven. The serpent’s attack originates from its mouth. The raiser of taxes conquers with flattery. Daniel eleven stands against the prince of the covenant. Revelation twelve wars against those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Based on this information, Daniel eleven and Revelation twelve are either referring to the same person, and power, or people and powers with the same beliefs and goals. To find the answer we need to study additional parallel texts.
Daniel 9:26-27 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Daniel uses the word flood in the same context, as Daniel 11 and Revelation 12. These verses also refer to the Messiah, another reference to Christ, named in Revelation 12, in addition to mentioning the covenant referred to in Daniel 11:22. This leaves us with two important details to identify, the spiritual meaning of the word flood, and the covenant. First the key word flood will be defined.
Psalms 65:7 Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.
Isaiah 17:12 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
David and Isaiah identify a flood as a multitude, or tumult or people. In all three events, the flood is referring to a group of people.
Daniel 11:22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
Revelation 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman
Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Now that we understand a flood spiritually refers to people, we know the person referred to in Daniel 9, 11, and the serpent in Revelation 12 use people to over throw, and carry out their deeds.
We now will look at the covenant Daniel 11:22 is referring to. The first step is to check the definition of the word used in the original Hebrew language.
Covenant: H1285 beri^yth
From H1262 (in the sense of cutting (like H1254)); a compact (because made by passing between pieces of flesh): – confederacy, [con-]feder[-ate], covenant, league.
The definition confirms this particular convenient refers to passing between two pieces of flesh. This could only refer to one convenient, which is recorded in the book of Genesis.
Genesis 15:8-18 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? (9) And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (10) And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. (11) And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. (12) And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. (13) And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; (14) And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (15) And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. (16) But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. (17) And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (18) In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
In this covenant God gave Abram the promised land. There is a physical promised land, mentioned in Exodus, and the spiritual promised land, referring to eternal life, which is explained in Hebrews chapter eleven, and Acts chapter three.
Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (9) By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (10) For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Acts 3:25-26 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. (26) Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
The raiser of taxes found in Daniel 11:20 is identified in Luke chapter 2 as Caesar Augustus. Verse 20 explains he will only reign a short time. Verse 21 tells us another will take his kingdom. Verse 22 shows this new person will stand against the prince of the covenant, Jesus. At this point many people would just as soon drop the Bible and begin searching history to find out which leaders came after Caesar Augustus. Personally I don’t trust historians, and I have not found a single word in the Bible which indicates any of them have prophetic powers, or have been influenced by the Holy Spirit like those God used to write the Bible. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:15-17. If God has provided proof the scriptures had been written with divine influence, I am certain God would have provided us with instructions on following other sources, if that were the case. Until someone can prove other writings are divinely influenced for our instruction, I will stick with the Bible.
Daniel 11:23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
League: H2266 cha^bar
A primitive root; to join (literally or figuratively); specifically (by means of spells) to fascinate: – charm (-er), be compact, couple (together), have fellowship with, heap up, join (self, together), league.
The original Hebrew word translated league actually refers to spells and charms, a clear relationship to a form of spiritualism. Add that to the fact he will work deceitfully, and we are beginning to obtain a clearer picture.
Become strong: H6105 a^tsam
A primitive root; to bind fast, that is, close (the eyes); intransitively to be (causatively make) powerful or numerous; denominatively (from H6106) to crunch the bones: – break the bones, close, be great, be increased, be (wax) mighty (-ier), be more, shut, be (-come, make) strong (-er).
It is rather strange to find a combination of spiritualism, deceit, and breaking bones. This combination of attributes should make identification of the power after Caesar Augustus that much easier to identify. One additional word may be the key to solve this mystery. What does it mean to be strong, or break bones with small people? It may help to look at another definition.
Small: H4592 me at me a^t
From H4591; a little or few (often adverbial or comparative): – almost, (some, very) few (-er, -est), lightly, little (while), (very) small (matter, thing), some, soon, X very.
People: H1471 go^y
Apparently from the same root as H1465 (in the sense of massing); a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts: – Gentile, heathen, nation, people.
The word small provides no surprises, but the word interpreted as people is interesting because the same word can also refer to a Gentile, animals, or locusts. We already have a pretty good idea the person we are trying to identify is a Gentile. Locusts lead us to another texts in Revelation to consider.
Revelation 9:1-4 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. (2) And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. (3) And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. (4) And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
My first though on Daniel 11:23 was a link between the small people and the little horn in Daniel 7.
Daniel 7:8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Parallels between Daniel 11:20-23 and the little horn if Daniel 7 include: Both have a mouth speaking great things, and takes the place of three horns, or kingdoms. In Daniel 11 he talks his way into power, taking the place of at least one other before him. The little horn made war with the saints in Daniel 7:21. Floods, or people are sent out against the prince of the covenant in Daniel 11:22.
Has anyone considered the alternative? It seems most everyone has accepted the first interpretation of the three plucked up horns and being three separate countries, which are not specifically named in the Bible. What if the features of the fourth beast refer to the history of the power it represents? Features of the other three beasts represent key points in history identifying the beasts. Why would the fourth beast be any different? Might the three horns represent three generations of kings within the fourth kingdom? If that were the case, we would see a change in the fourth king to rise up within the kingdom of the fourth beast.
It would also be wise to study other similarities between the raiser of taxes in Daniel 11, the little horn, and the beast in Daniel 7, keeping in mind the fact, the little horn is nothing more than a part of the fourth beast. Like any other physical, or spiritual beast, the parts do not control the beast, the beast controls the parts.