The Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation

Principle No. 8 The Gap Principle Part 2

By Clifton L. Fowler

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


NOTE — In studying the article on the Gap Principle in this issue of "Grace and Truth," the student will reap the richest blessing by going back to the August number and re-reading the first discussion of the Gap Principle. The constant use of the chart in this issue will also be of great aid in grasping the sweep of the truth presented.

The Gap Principle Illustrated by the Prophecies of Daniel

This remarkable principle permeates the Word, and its individual illustrations are often most interesting and illuminating. The group of prophecies recorded by Daniel reveals four striking instances of the activity of the principle of revelation which caused our Lord Jesus to close the book and sit down at such an unexpected place in the sentence on that memorable day in Nazareth long ago.

(Daniel 2)

Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. Although a Gentile, Jehovah, the God of Israel, gave unto him a vision of the future. This vision completely departed from his memory, but was brought back to him through the instrumentality of Daniel and his companions. He had dreamed of a great image made of various minerals. The image had a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, and legs of iron. The feet of the image were part of iron and part of clay. And Nebuchadnezzar beheld in the vision a most astounding consummation, — a stone, cut without hands, smote the image on the feet that were of iron and clay, causing the entire image to be ground to powder. The stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

The inspired explanation is most clear. The vision, according to Daniel, is a prophecy of six kingdoms or nations. The first was Nebuchadnezzar's own kingdom which was Babylon. The second, represented by the breast and arms of silver, was a kingdom which should follow the Babylonian kingdom. Even casual readers know that the empire which followed the ascendancy of Babylon was Medo-Persia. The third, represented by belly and thighs of brass, is interpreted to mean another empire which should rule over the earth. This was Greece. The fourth, represented by legs of iron was to be a great empire succeeding Greece, and was to have mighty power, indicated by the iron, and was to employ this power in breaking in pieces and bruising. This fourth world-power was Rome. The fifth kingdom presents a difficulty because there was no WORLD EMPIRE following Rome, even a world empire that was weak enough to be represented by iron and clay. There simply was no such nation on the earth after the fall of Rome. And here is where we find the illustration of the principle we are investigating. The Gap Principle enters between the fourth kingdom and the fifth. The fifth kingdom is the kingdom of the feet and toes and is future. The sixth is that glorious kingdom which shall be set up by the God of heaven. Let us summarize the interpretation of the vision:

First kingdom — head of gold — Babylon.

Second kingdom — arms and chest of silver — Medo-Persia.

Third kingdom — belly and thighs of brass — Greece.

Fourth Kingdom — legs of iron — Rome.


(from the fall of Jerusalem to the rapture of the Church).

Fifth kingdom — feet and toes of iron and clay — Antichrist's kingdom in the Great Tribulation.

Sixth kingdom — stone cut without hands and becomes a mountain. The kingdom set up by the God of heaven in the days of the kings represented by the toes. The falling of the stone cut without hands is the second coming of Jesus.

This vision locates the example of the Gap Principle at the ankle of the image. Rome of the past and the Antichrist's kingdom of the future are brought side by side, the intervening centuries being jumped without comment.

(Daniel 7)

In this vision, which came to Daniel in the first year of Belshazzar, we see the most convincing agreement with the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's image. In fact the Vision of the Four Beasts covers exactly the same ground as Nebuchadnezzar's Vision with the prophec'es slightly amplified. The Vision of the Four Beasts also contains another graphic exhibit of the Gap Principle. The four beasts, in the order in which they are named in the vision, were beasts which were like a lion, like a bear, like a leopard, and the fourth was dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it.

The inspired interpretation is simple and clear. It is found in Dan. 7:17:

"These great beasts which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth."

In the study of God's Word we find that the Holy Spirit frequently employs the terms "king" and "kingdom" interchangeably. This is one of the examples of the "king" used to set forth the entire "kingdom." At once it becomes evident that the four kingdoms are the same as were set forth in Nebuchadnezzar's Vision, — the lion typifies Babylon; the bear, Medo-Persia; the leopard, Greece, and the diverse beast, Rome. It is of special value and interest to note that in Nebuchadnezzar's Vision Rome was represented by legs of iron and the last point to which the prophecy carries us in chapter two in dealing with the iron kingdom is that it "shall break in pieces and Bruise." The comparison of the two visions becomes illuminating indeed when it is observed that in the vision of the beasts, the Roman beast has great iron teeth (7:7), and that th's iron-toothed monster is said to devour and break in pieces and stamp the remnant (Hebrew) with his feet." In both visions iron stands connected with Rome and in both visions it is Rome which is pictured forth as breaking and bruising, devouring and stamping. Here is such striking similarity and agreement that the soul of the searching student is comforted with the renewed assurance that there is no break-down in the perfection and accuracy of God's book.

It becomes immediately evident to the spiritually minded student that these two visions, the one given to Nebuchadnezzar and the other given to Daniel, lead up to the same outstanding event in Rome's history, an event in which Rome, the iron nation, is seen in the act of breaking, bruising and devouring. Inasmuch as the Bible is distinctively a Jewish book and the histories of Gentile nations are given in the Bible only in so far as those histories stand related to Israel, the conclusion is inescapable that these two great prophetic visions are pointing to a time when Rome shall crush and break and devour Israel. That time was A. D. 70, when Titus overthrew Jerusalem. These two prophecies were fulfilled in the Fall of Jerusalem.

And now we have come to the place where the gap again appears. Let us read carefully the latter part of Daniel 7:7:

"It (the diverse beast with iron teeth) devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns."

The gap occurs at the semi-colon which immediately precedes the expression, "And it had ten horns." The diverse beast has already stamped and brake in pieces the remnant, that is past, — fulfilled 70 A. D. at Jerusalem, but the "ten horns " are future. They will arise in the Great Tribulation. They correspond to the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's Vision. Again we see the astonishingly convincing accuracy of the Scripture record. Out of these ten horns of the coming tribulational hour shall arise a "little horn." This little horn shall be a king of great power and wickedness. His reign shall be short and shall be followed by the glorious kingdom of the "Son of Man" Who receives His kingdom and power from the Ancient of Days. The Kingdom of the Son of Man shall be an indestructible kingdom and His dominion an everlasting dominion.

As we summarized the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's Vision, so let us summarize the interpretation of this v'sion of Daniel concerning the four beasts:

First beast — a lion — Babylon.

Second beast — a bear — Medo-Persia.

Third beast — a leopard — Greece.

Fourth beast — diverse, with teeth of iron — Rome.


(from the Fall of Jerusalem to the rapture of the Church).

Fifth — Ten kings and the little horn which shall arise out or Rome — Antichrist's kingdom.

Sixth — The Son of Man receives His kingdom from the Ancient of Days. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom. He comes to earth in His second coming to establish His kingdom.

The gaps of Scripture are not always in the same place in history nor are they always the same length, but inasmuch as the two visions which we have studied cover exactly the same ground and are complementary each to each, the gap is the same in both visions.

How sad it is that so many teachers of God's Word fail to observe the Gap Principle. When it is seen and recognized, this principle sheds light upon the sacred page which aids in the understanding and enjoyment of literally scores of the most difficult passages of Scripture. How blessedly significant the action of our Saviour that day when He closed the book and sat down in the middle of a compound direct object! How comforting to the student of the Bible to know that in employing the Gap Principle on Jewish prophecy he is employing the special method which Jesus used!

(Daniel 8)

This vision came to Daniel two years later than the vision of the Four Beasts. The first beast in this remarkable vision is a ram with two horns. Daniel says of the ram:

"I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither were there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great" (Dan. 8:4).

But the power and ascendancy of the ram were of short life.

"And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven" (Dan. 8:5-8).

What can these two beasts represent? The answer is made plain by the Holy Spirit, the Bible is self-interpreting! The interpretation is so clearly stated that none need question, or doubt.

"The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power" (Dan. 8:20-22).

The ram is Medo-Persia and the goat is Greece, and the four horns are the four generals who divided the kingdom at the death of Alexander. So true to history is this dream-prophecy that one reads with bated breath. Surely that man is most blind who does not recognize that the Bible is God's inspired word.

But where is the the gap?

The gap occurs between verse eight and verse nine.

In verse nine another "little horn" arises. This little horn arises out of Greece. The "little horn" which we saw in the Vision of the Four Beasts arose out of Rome. These little horns are both kings of great wickedness and are to be contemporaries, because their careers are both stopped by the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Hence the gap which we find in the Vision of the Two Beasts is longer than the gap in the visions of the Image and the Four Beasts. In the Vision of the Two Beasts the gap begins with the dismemberment of the Grecian Empire and concludes with the rapture of the Church. A summarizing of this prophecy will aid in clarifying it:

First beast — ram with two horns — Medo-Persia.

Second beast — he goat, from which four notable horns came up — Greece.


(from the dismemberment of Greece to the rapture of the Church).

Third — the little horn which shall arise out of Greece — the Antichrist's kingdom.

Fourth — the coming of the Prince of Princes (8:25).

When the Gap Principle is recognized these visions fall into perfect agreement without effort, but when the Gap Principle is ignored expositors have been reduced to ludicrous shrifts in their vain efforts to force the passages to harmonize. The Gap Principle is God's key to the prophetic passages of Scripture.

(Daniel 9)

The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks has been given a full and complete and correct exposition by Sir Robert Anderson in "The Coming Prince." We cannot devote space to the exposition of the prophecy in this article but would earnestly commend Sir Robert Anderson's book to the readers of "Grace and Truth." Briefly, this prophecy states that from the going forth of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be sixty-nine weeks, which is 483 days. Under the year-day interpretation of prophetic days so clearly given in Scripture, the 483 days is 483 years. Sir Robert shows that from Artaxerxes' decree to the Triumphal Entry is exactly 483 years. He demonstrates it to the very day. But this fails to account for the last week of the prophecy. The last week is the Great Tribulation and is yet future. During the last week of this prophecy the two little horns will perform their Satanic mission. A summarization of this prophecy shows forth its remarkable agreement with the three visions which we have already studied:

First — the sixty-nine weeks, extending from Artaxerxes' decree to the Triumphal Entry.


(from the Triumphal Entry to the Rapture of the Church).

Second — the seventieth week in which the two little horns are manifested.

Third — the consummation (Dan. 9:27). The consummation of prophecy is the second coming of the Lord when He shall set up His kingdom.

These wonderful prophecies from Daniel illustrate in most satisfying fashion the Gap Principle. There are many more such illustrations which we hope to give from time to time, but in our next month's study we must press on to another principle.

There is no line of Bible study which brings to the student such large reward as to enter the mysteries of the Word under the illumination of the Holy Spirit's own Principles of Revelation. How comforting indeed to study Bible problems in the radiance of Bible light.