LESSON ONE * PART I
NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND DREAM (DANIEL 3)
We trust that as you study with us that you will find it to be as thrilling and understanding to you as it is in our classes. We have no ax to grind; we're an informal Bible study and we don't try to twist peoples arms into thinking one way or another. We just like to open the Scriptures and help people see what The Book really says. So many of us have been bound by tradition, and if there is any word in the Scripture that is condemned, it is tradition. We must be careful that we don't find ourselves locked into a tradition that is not necessarily in line with The Book, So this is our only goal; and that is to help folks see what the Bible really says.
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,..."
So we might as well go to Chapter 2 of Daniel, where we have king Nebuchadnezzar all shook up because he had this tremendous dream, and it must have been a nightmare. Otherwise he wouldn't have been so belligerently, and antagonistically against all his magicians, trying to get them to uncover the dream. So he puts out the command for all the magicians to come in before him and tell him not only the interpretation of the dream, but to tell him what the dream was. That is asking for something isn't it? Remember I told you last week that these ancient oriental kings were ruthless. If someone couldn't fulfill what they requested, they would put them to death. So these magicians were right on the line with their life.
"For this cause the king was angry and very furious (because these magicians couldn't recover his dream), and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon." Now that is quite a king isn't it?
"And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain."
Remember Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were all in that kettle of fish as far as the king was concerned. Now Daniel speaks up. Remember he is just a young fellow, and has no reason to be respected for his age.
"Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard. which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon. ...Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and he would show the king the interpretation." Then verse 19:
"Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision (remember this is the Sovereign Almighty God at work). Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven."
God now reveals to Daniel the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten. So he is brought before the king. Verse 25. Now I'm skipping some verses for sake of time.
"The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was (Daniel's name had been changed from the Hebrew to the Aramaic.) Belteshazzar, `Art thou able to make know unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?' Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, `The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;'"
"But (now here comes Daniel with his testimony) there is a God (remember this is a God that Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing of. I always remind my classes and most of you know this. That beginning with the Tower of Babel, the whole human race now has been saturated with idolatry of one sort or another. They had so many different gods, but didn't know the true God, until He called Abraham. So then Abraham had a knowledge of Jehovah, and that was passed on through Isaac, Jacob, and the Twelve Tribes. So Israel alone had a knowledge of the one true God) in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days...." (what is Daniel saying? God has revealed to you prophetic events. Now remember that as I stressed it last week, and I'll keep on stressing it, that all true prophecy centers on the Nation of Israel. And usually within a time frame. God will put the details out there and He will put it in time. Like when we get to Chapter nine He's going to say 490 years are determined upon the Nation of Israel. Now the Church Age has nothing like this whatsoever. There is no prophecy concerning the Church.
We can see as the church is approaching the end of the Age of Grace, by virtue of events getting ready for prophecy coming on the scene. But for the most part there is no prophetic utterance connected with the Church Age. When people say that on such and such a day the Lord is coming, just mark them off as false. There is nothing in Scripture that can help us set a date for the Lord to return for the Church. But as soon as the Church Age is done, and that undetermined period of time has ended, and the seven years of Tribulation begins, then, yes, prophecy begins again. Then we will be back in a time frame. Seven years are going to elapse. Now to Daniel as he stands there before the king, verse 29:
"As for thee, O King, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed. what should come to pass hereafter:... But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart (now here comes the dream). Thou, O king sawest, and behold a great image...."
The image has to be in the form of a man, because it has a head, shoulders, belly, legs, feet and toes. He sees this likeness of a man. Just to give us a little hint of how huge it must have been, turn the page and go to Chapter 3. I have to think this dream somehow or other was a catalyst for what Nebuchadnezzar actually does in this next Chapter. He's forgotten about Daniel, and has gotten so filled up with his own power, that he wants to unite all those pagan worships into one image which would be of himself. This is interesting, because we are going to see the last great world ruler, the Anti-christ, is going to do the same thing. So we will tie it together. We will go to Revelation after we look at the size of this thing:
"Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold (the one he saw in his dream just had a head of gold. I imagine in his dream he saw that gold just glitter in that middle eastern sun. He gets the idea that this is what I'm going to do, so he makes this image of gold), whose height was threescore cubits, and the breath thereof six cubits:... "
That is 90 feet high, and 9 feet wide. That is a big image, and remember it's made of gold. He sits it out there on that Middle Eastern desert sand and demands that whole known world worship that image. Turn with me now to Revelation. Remember when we started this study in Daniel, that when you study Daniel, you must also study Revelation; both are so intertwined. And again because they were both written outside of Israel.
I guess I should also tie in the other analogy, that falls into that same kind of category. That is between the twelve Apostles and the Apostle Paul. Very few people realize that drastic difference. Jesus chose the 12 within the borders of Israel. But that other Apostle, the one who so many people try to force into the twelve, would never fit. And one of the reasons he won't fit is because he was never called within the borders of Israel. He was called on Gentile ground, outside of Damascus. And that set him totally apart from the twelve. If any of you ever doubt me, just read Galatians Chapter 1 and 2 very carefully. And you will notice that Paul emphasizes that he had nothing to do with the twelve back there in Jerusalem. That is why the Lord called him from Gentile grounds, and sent him to the Gentiles.
Now let's turn to the book of Revelation, Chapter 13, and I guess we have to start in verse 11, in order to pick up the flow. Here is another thing I like to bring out. As we study the Scriptures, and I hope I have never been guilty nor will never be guilty, of lifting verses out of context and making them say something by themselves. That is the most dangerous thing you can do with the Scriptures. We have to look at every verse in its context and it will always dove-tail together. I have told people in over 20 years of teaching, that if your doctrine doesn't fit from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 you are on thin ice. Because it will all beautifully fit together if you understand it correctly. Now verse 11:
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon," Break this verse down.
John says "And I beheld (in his vision) another beast (now when we study the Book of Revelation the first thing I always emphasize is the word beast isn't talking about some ferocious looking animal or dragon. A beast in Revelation is always a governmental power. Now John sees another government of sorts) coming up out of the earth (remember the first one in verse one comes up out of the sea. The sea of humanity. But this one is going to come up out of the earth. Now some people take the stand that since this is the earth, and there is only one part of the earth God concerns Himself with, and that is Israel, that this second beast will be a government but centered in a person, and in this case it will be the religious government, and that he would have to be a Jew. Well I don't say he has to be. I think he could be but not necessarily. But anyway). he has two horns like a lamb (because he is a religious leader). and he spake as a dragon."
So even though he is religious, where is he receiving his power? From Satan. So we have a satanic religious system coming on the scene here in this second beast.
"And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him (which is the political leader, the Anti-christ, they will we working hand and glove), and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast,..."
First man of power, in other words, this religious leader, this powerful individual, under the cloak of religion but still under the inspiration of Satan, is going to cause the masses of humanity to worship the other great world leader, the Anti-christ. When we teach the Book of Revelation, I always like to point out throughout the Book there is a counterfeit trinity. What is a counterfeit? It is something that looks like the original. So this is the counterfeit trinity where Satan is a counterfeit of God the Father. The Anti-christ is a counterfeit of God the Son. And the false prophet or the religious leader here is a counterfeit of God the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit today draws people to God the Son, this counterfeit of the Holy Spirit, this religious leader of the Tribulation period, causes people to worship of the Anti-christ, the counterfeit son. And so this counterfeit of the Holy Spirit does much what the Holy Spirit does legitimately:
"And he doeth great wonders (oh he's a counterfeit), so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,..." Now Christ will never deceive but this counterfeit will. "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do (I'm always emphasizing, just because it is a miracle don't say, "That's God." Satan has tremendous miracle working power, and he is going to really do it here in the tribulation.) in the sight of the beast (remember these are two great world leaders, these aren't animals, they are men, but they are bestial in their personality because they will be so ruthless toward their fellow man.); saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast (so they will make an image of the Anti-christ just like Nebuchadnezzar did back in Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar thought he'd bring all the worship of the world and centralize it in himself, by building this great image. Now the Anti-christ and the false prophet are going to conspire together to do the same thing. They, too, will amalgamate all the religions of the world together to make them worship one great image.); which had the wound by a sword, and did live."
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast (that is not stretching the imagination one bit in our present technology is it? I read an article a couple of years ago where the Japanese are working frantically on a living cell computer. Can you believe that? Not only will it be fed by electricity, it will also have biological cells working within it. So it will almost become like a human. Well, here it is. This is prophecy and it is going to happen. So), that image of the beast should both speak (our technology is already there, we have computers that can talk: and the image is going to), cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." I would like to finish this Chapter during this lesson, and touch on this mark of the beast, because there is so much confusion about it.
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
We know that when it comes to computers everything is based on numbers. Your whole system of the universal product code, as it is called, has those little bars on everything you buy. And it is three sets, and I have taught since the computers came on the scene in the 1970's that this mark of the beast is nothing more or less than an eighteen digit computer number. It will either be put on the hand or forehead, and maybe in such a way that an ultraviolet light can detect it. So that when people come through a check-out line, or receive their salaries or so forth, all they will have to do is just show their number, and it will be electronically computed. Everything will be transferred through electronics. That is the mark of the beast. And it will not come on the scene until the Anti-christ comes in the Tribulation.
And those of us who are believers, have nothing to worry about, because we won't be there. So as a Christian, don't worry about ever being forced to take the mark of the beast. We will not be here. And I want people to know that. But for people who have rejected the Gospel and find themselves left behind after the Lord takes us (believers) out, yes that is going to be one of the first things that will happen. They will be forced to take this number, and without it they won't be able to transact any business or even live.