Dr. Couch, I have heard some say that Daniel's fourth empire is Islam not Rome. They quoted Justin Martyr and Iranaeus to prove their point. What do you say?
ANSWER: Some rabbinical scholars say the same thing. They say the fourth empire in Daniel 7:7 is not Rome but the powers of present Islam. They actually say it is Edom which represents the Arabs of present day Jordan, and thus pictures the Islamic peoples. This is not an uncommon view for some Jewish interpreters.
However, the more common view is that Rome is represented here and not Islam. The reason is that this is a united "beast" and not a conglomeration of Arabic peoples gathered under the umbrella of Islam. Verse 23 says "The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom (not a collection of peoples) on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and it will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it." This beast is also made up of "ten horns and ten kings" (v. 24).
The description of this kingdom is spelled out in 2:40-43. This does not seem to be a religious movement such as Islam but a distinct nation. While the word "Rome" is not in any of the passages, all evidence leads to the great power that follows Greece, the Roman Empire. I believe the most common view follows history, and that would make this great power Rome not simply the forces of Arabic nations driven by the Islamic religion.
There is no doubt that Muslims will play a key role in the tribulation but so will other forces and powers and nations that are not mentioned in Scripture. The best view still remains Rome!
Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (4/11)