“In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.” (Daniel 2:41, NASB)
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction…” (2 Thess. 2:3, NASB)
Many Christians believe that the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, His Second Coming, is near. Signs in the Arab World point to this, as the Arab World is experiencing a “divided kingdom” condition predicted by the book of Daniel. What we are living through right now in Syria, Libya and Egypt has been on the prophetic time table for over 2500 years!!
King Nebuchadnezzar (who ruled from 605-562 B.C.) foresaw in his dream a great statute that depicts the world empires until the time of Jesus’ Second Coming. Daniel interprets the dream and informs the King that his dream has to do with “the latter days”. “[God] has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days.” (Dan. 2:28)
At the bottom of the statue, which leads us on to the close of this present age, the fourth kingdom (Roman Empire) – depicted as legs of iron – would morph into another kingdom, a “feet and toes” kingdom of clay and iron, strong and brittle.
“Some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.” (Dan. 2: 42-43)
The Stone, which came out of heaven, that crushes the statue and turns it into powder, is Jesus at His Second Coming, therefore we know that this “divided kingdom” setting within the Roman Empire is still future.
We also have signs in natural world of apostasy, of the “increasing of lawlessness” (Matt. 24:12), that will set the stage for “the man of lawlessness”(2 Thess. 2:3). Remember now, that this must happen BEFORE Jesus’ return. Whatever you make make of the moral conditions of the world today, I think most people are afraid and sickened by the senseless, mass shootings and rise of lawlessness and outright wickedness.
Since God has already predicted that this lawlessness will increase “in the latter days”, one can make the conclusion that He is allowing lawlessness to increase on the earth to bring about a judgment to test the hearts of the people. Jesus said that “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Mtt 24:12-13)
In the Old Testament we read of a similar time when God brought judgment to this earth, He used a man, the King of Assyria. God allowed, what He called “the rod of Mine anger” to judge and chastise Israel at the hands of King Sennacherib and his Assyrian armies.
Sennacherib thought it was his own own strength and might that had brought him victories, not realizing that God used him as a “tool” to inflict punishment on a guilty nation, His chosen nation, Israel. In one night Sennacherib lost his ENTIRE army of 185,000 soldiers and later he too was murdered at the hands of his own sons. (Isaiah 36-37)
“O Assyria, the rod of My anger, the staff in their hand is My indignation. I will send him against a godless nation, and against the people of My wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” (Isa 10:5-6)
Lawlessness will increase on the earth in the Last Days and God will see whose hearts are hot or cold towards Him. In other versions of the Bible “the apostasy” (Holman) is called “a falling away” (KJV) or simply “the rebellion” (NIV/NRSV). In any case, it is a time of testing and chastisement BEFORE the return of Christ that will reveal to all who is part of the Bride and who is not.
Most Christians are looking for the arrival of the Antichrist, but very few are looking for “the apostasy” that must come first. The arrival of the Antichrist cannot occur until sufficient apostasy has happened in the world. The Antichrist, who is the ultimate of liars, cannot abide in a world where the truth of God’s word is taught. This is why the Bible says that the apostasy will come first and then the Antichrist will be revealed. (Matt Slick)