LESSON ONE * PART II
NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND DREAM (DANIEL 3)
This is an informal Bible study, and all we try to do is open the Scriptures where anybody can understand them. I know that so many people read their Bibles. I've had some tell me "I've read it through five times and still don't understand much of it." We try to change that, and help people to understand what it is really talking about. Picking up from the last lesson with the great image that King Nebuchadnezzar had constructed more or less of himself. It was huge and made of gold. He tried to amalgamate all the religions of his day under a worship of himself.
And we took you back to Revelation and showed you that the Anti-christ and the false prophet will do the same thing during the Tribulation. So in reality the times of the Gentiles begins here. Two lessons ago we talked about that. When Jesus spoke in Luke 21 of the times of the Gentiles, when Jerusalem would be trodden down by Gentiles until He returns, and then of course it will all revert back to Israel and their relationship with their Jehovah God. Now back to Daniel Chapter 2. We will drop down to verse 31, where Daniel begins to interpret this dream:
"Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee (the vision of this great image just shook the king to his feet. It was frightening. There was something about it that was beyond human understanding); and the form thereof was terrible."
"This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay."
It is interesting if you know anything of mathematics or science at all, you will notice that the highest specific gravity density is at the top. I used to try and draw a picture of this image. But picture a human torso, and the head as Nebuchadnezzar was pure gold. His chest was of silver, the belly area of brass, the legs of iron, and feet were a mixture of iron and clay. You will immediately see that the specific gravity, the density, is the heaviest at the top, as gold has the highest specific gravity of any of these elements. And then you get down to the iron and clay that has the lowest. So what you really have is an image here, as far as engineering is concerned, that is top heavy.
There is no stability to it whatsoever. Now let's read on.
"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands (no human element involved. Now Who does that have to be? A Person in the Godhead. And as most of you now know, when you have a reference to a rock or stone in Scripture it is Christ), which smote the image upon his feet (we will come back in a moment and explain. So this stone, coming out of nowhere, strikes this image. And remember this is speaking in symbolism. It is teaching us a literal truth.) that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces."
It is already top heavy, so what happens? That thing just tips right over and this stone just literally rolls it like a steam roller building a highway. It just rolls over all the metals of this great image.
"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors: and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone (Christ) that smote the image became a great mountain,"
Now I always stress, when a mountain is used, as it is here, it is always a kingdom. Most generally the Kingdom. And remember the Kingdom is the Kingdom is the Kingdom. All through Scripture there is only one Kingdom. And it is the Kingdom that Christ will set up on the earth when He returns, to become King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Even in His earthly ministry, when He said the Kingdom is within you, theologians have taken that and they have so twisted it out of shape that no one can recognize it. But literally what He was saying is, "That in order for us become part and parcel of that literal physical, political Kingdom that is one day coming on the earth, we have to have that inner spiritual relationship with God to become part of it." That's what He meant when He said to Nicodemus in John's Gospel, Chapter 3, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of heaven." And that is so true. But this Kingdom of heaven is going to be the Kingdom on earth. It is the same Kingdom.
Today, during the Church Age, we need to look at some Scriptures. Go to the Book of Colossians. When John the Baptist began his ministry, what was the crux of his message? The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. What was he talking about? Jesus was just around the corner. He was about to begin His earthly ministry. And He is the essence of the Kingdom. But it is not a spiritual, ethereal, invisible Kingdom, although that is also involved. This Kingdom is spiritual, it's physical, and it is political. And it will come to its fruition when Christ returns and sets it up on the earth. In the interim, since He is no longer on the earth, and we can no longer say the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; when He went back to heaven, the Kingdom went with him.
I have stressed Genesis 1:1 from the beginning. What does it say? "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." All through Scriptures we have these two entities. The Nation of Israel, the earthly people of God, and the Church (the heavenly people of God). In Colossians Chapter 1, Paul is writing to us Gentiles, and he is praying for the Colossi believers and it is valid for us today.
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who (speaking of the Father) hath (past tense) delivered us (believers) from the power of darkness, and hath (already) translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:"
If you are a child of God today, where are you? In the Kingdom! Now when Christ comes at His second coming and sets up the Kingdom on the earth, where will we be? With Him. And as the New Testament teaches so plainly (Paul, as well as the Book of Revelation), when that Kingdom is set up, if you and I are in the Body of Christ today and we are truly born from above, we are going to rule and reign with Christ over that Kingdom.
So remember the Kingdom is the Kingdom, is the Kingdom. It's spiritual yes; it's physical yes; and it's going to be set up on the earth. When you read Isaiah Chapter 11 (we've read it even here on television) how the wolf and the lamb will lie down together, and little children will be playing with them - that's physical. He is going to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the whole earth. That's political. And yet it is going to be a Kingdom of righteousness, holiness, and sinlessness, no death, no curse, and that makes it spiritual. So the Kingdom is all three wrapped up together, but it is still the one and only Kingdom.
Come back to the Book of Daniel with me. Christ, the Stone, smites all these metals that make up this image, beginning with the feet, and they become like the dust or chaff of a threshing floor that the wind just blows away. In other words, everything that these metals represent will just be blown away, and nothing will be left of it. And the Stone becomes a Kingdom, and I like to emphasize the last two or three words of verse 35. Is that Kingdom just going to be in the land of Israel? No, "the whole earth." Let me show you another verse. Turn with me to Zechariah Chapter 14. We must follow this up with more than one verse, because you know I'm not one of those who take one or two verses and build a doctrine on it. There are many more verses other than this one in Zechariah that say the same thing. We know that this is in reference to the Kingdom that will follow His second coming. We almost have to go up to verse 1 in order to get the flow:
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; (what is that? Armageddon, the last great battle) and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished;... Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle."
"And his (The Lord, the same One that ascended from the Mount of Olives in Act Chapter 1, and went back to the Father. Now He's coming back, and where do His feet stand? On that same Mount of Olives.) feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east,... Let's move all the way to verse 8:
"And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea (the Mediterranean Sea), and half of them toward the hinder sea (the Dead Sea); in summer and in winter shall it be.
We won't take time to go back to the Book of Ezekiel and look at it, but Ezekiel says that this river of water flowing from the throne room in Jerusalem, back to the Mediterranean and down to the Dead Sea, will have every species of fish in it that the Mediterranean has now. In other words, it will no longer be a salt water sea. It's going to be living water. Now if you ever get to Israel, and you get to the Dead Sea, you'll find nothing can live in it now, but the day is coming when that will change. Let's just stop and look at it. But first let's read verse 9 here in Zechariah:
"And the LORD shall be king over all the earth:...Where is this Kingdom going to be? On the earth.
Let's go to Ezekiel and follow up on our previous discussion. I do some of these things only for interest. I may have to look for a moment. Look in Chapter 47. Remember, this is another one of those three Books spoken in symbolism. Ezekiel is speaking of a river, coming out from under the sanctuary there in Jerusalem, just as we saw in Zechariah. Come down to verse 9 and 10:
"And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed (waters in the Dead Sea); and every thing shall live whither the river cometh."
"And it shall come to pass (this is when the Kingdom is set up), that the fishers shall stand upon it (the Dead Sea) from En-gedi (now when we get to Israel we will be going to this little village of Engedi; it is still there right on the shores of the Dead Sea.) even unto En-eglaim, they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea (the Mediterranean), exceeding many."
These are all physical elements of the Kingdom. We have already alluded to Isaiah Chapter 11, about the wolf and the lamb. So this Kingdom that Daniel is prophesying in Chapter 2 will indeed cover the whole earth. It will be a glorious earth, everything is going to be productive. This is a verse everyone knows: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares,..." What do plowshares do? They prepare the earth for production. There will be tremendous production. There will be no want, or poverty, no famine. That is part of the physical aspect of the Kingdom. Yet it will be a glorious spiritual Kingdom, because there is no curse. There is no sin. And it will be political because Christ is going to rule over the whole earth.
I remember one of my children went to a Sunday School class while he was at the university, and they happened to be talking about the Kingdom in the Book of Matthew. He tried to tell them what it was referring to, and they about laughed him out the door. And they said, "You mean a political Kingdom?" So he called that Sunday afternoon, and asked me how to answer them when they just ridicule that there will be that kind of Kingdom? I told him when people are blind, it's pretty hard to open their eyes. It takes time and showing them lot of Scripture. Now let's go back to Daniel. He is going to interpret what that means. The Scriptures always interpret for us. You don't have to go to seminary to learn how to interpret Scriptures, but a lot of people think you do. Always let The Book interpret itself:
"Thou, O king, art a king of kings (and indeed he was, we saw that when he could put all of magicians to death with just a word.): for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory."
"And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he (The Sovereign God) given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all (he was an absolute dictator king. He didn't have to consult with anyone to make a decision. Now Daniel says). Thou art this head of gold." So what are we seeing in symbolism? Empires.
"And after thee (in other words after Babylon rises and falls, as all empires do) shall arise another kingdom (or empire) inferior to thee,..."
When I started teaching this many years ago this word "inferior" bugged me. How does an inferior kingdom defeat a superior kingdom? Militarily it just doesn't happen. So what you have to look at, as you look at this progression of metals, we go from what we normally think of as the most precious, the most expensive, to the next, to the next, and so forth down to the least. And so the progression is from something great to something less great. So this is why the prophets say that a kingdom inferior to Babylon would defeat them. Daniel wasn't talking about the military side of it. He was talking about the political. Because this head of gold was an absolute under-god. He was a government of one.
After the head of gold, you come down to the kingdom that was inferior to him, and politically we know that the next kingdom that came on the scene and defeated Babylon was the Mede and Persian Empire. Militarily, they were already greater than Babylon. Otherwise they could never have defeated them. But instead of having an absolute dictator of one, they had two kings who came together. They were Darius the Mede, and Cyrus the Persian. And naturally, before they made any kind of a move military, economically or politically, they had to agree with each other. It is a lot harder to get two to agree than one. Now let's read on:
"...and another third kingdom of brass which shall bear rule over all the earth."
The next kingdom that came on through secular history was the kingdom of Alexander the Great of Greece. But just as soon as Alexander completed his conquest at the age of 33, he died. And what happened to his kingdom? It was divided between his four generals. The political flow is already picking up. Instead of having absolute power of one, then a consensus of two, a consensus of four is now required. The next great empire that comes on the scene is the Roman Empire. Even though we think of Rome as being governed by the Caesars, in reality what kind of government was the Roman Empire? A republic. They depended on their senate and representatives. And here you have the seed of democracy in its infancy. But do you see politically what is happening? You are coming from an absolute, to a consensus of two, to a consensus of four, to a consensus of many. Now coming on down the legs of the Roman Empire are the East and the West. The East of course was capitalized in Constantinople, and the West stayed at Rome. We read it in verse 41:
"And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided (East and West); but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken,"
In verse 43, with that kind of mixture there was no real strength. Now we know that the Roman Empire passed off the scene between 300 and 400 A.D. It just disappeared. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire. But in our own day we are seeing the rise of that same geographical and political area, Western Europe, called the European Community. It started out with ten nations and it's been fluctuating, and it will end up again with ten nations. We call it the Revived Roman Empire. And these are the ten toes, or ten nations. But again as you see Western Europe today, it's an enlarged democracy, and democracies are weak. If the people don't like the government all they have to do is fill the streets and demonstrate, and what happens? And consequently it is inferior.