LESSON ONE * PART III
NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND DREAM (DANIEL 3)
Let's get right back to Daniel Chapter 2, where we left off in our last lesson. Politically, these great empires that Nebuchadnezzar saw in symbolic language, you might say of the head of gold and so forth, we pointed out how that politically everyone of these empires will become weakened by an increasing number of people involved in decision making. We love democracy, and it is the greatest form of government ever brought on the scene. But when it comes to getting something done, it's probably the worst that was ever conceived. Now when Christ sets up His earthly Kingdom again, that's why it will be so glorious, it will be a Kingdom of One. He will have absolute power. There will be no confab, or consensus. It will be a glorious Kingdom.
Had Nebuchadnezzar been a benevolent type individual, and had the love and graciousness of God, he could have probably had that kind of empire. But no human has those kinds of attributes. So Nebuchadnezzar, like any other great dictator, was a totalitarian, he had no concerns about his subjects. Nevertheless, his decision-making was within himself. And as we have seen all through human history, all these empires were inferior to the one before, politically. Militarily, each one became greater, until we get down to what we call the revived Roman Empire, or our present European Community. Yet NATO, and other Military organizations have tremendous power of nuclear weapons, and technology that we have witnessed over the past few years. So keep this in mind, that as these Gentile empires came on the scene, in everyone of these empires, Israel was connected.
The iron and clay (the ten toes of the European Community), as yet do not have that kind of relationship with the Nation of Israel. It is mostly America that is keeping the little nation going. But never lose sight of the fact that the Anti-christ is going to come out of the geographical area of the old Roman Empire. Now we will see that in a few lessons later when we get to Daniel Chapter 9. I personally think he will come from Western Europe. Others think he may come from the Middle East, or the Mediterranean. But be that as it may, he's going to come from some place out of that old Roman Empire. And he will come in peaceably according to Daniel. And with flattery. Look at Europe tonight with all their turmoil, their ethnic problems and their immigrant, political, economical problems. If suddenly a man would come on the scene, especially in Europe, more so than any other place in the world; if he had the charisma of a John F. Kennedy, with the diplomacy of a Henry Kissinger; and maybe with some of the economic smarts of a Milton Freedman and so forth. If this guy could come on the scene with all these attributes rolled up into one, and seemingly have all the answers to their problems, do you know what they would do? They would fall on their knees and kiss his feet. In fact, maybe some of you heard it (I think it was on one of the news commentaries the past couple of weeks), where they were interviewing the German youth who were in some demonstrations. They were asked what they really wanted, and they said, "If a man could come on the scene that would be a leader we would follow him in a minute." Well the world is getting ready for that.
And so as we see these empires, they have come and gone through history, but we are now down to the iron and clay toes of the Western Europe consortium of nations. I think it is so perfectly illustrated with iron and clay. Being an old farmer, I can remember way back before farmers mixed their concrete with washed sand, they would use any kind of gravel they could get their hands on. If you mix the best of cement with just simply gravel, how long will that cement last? Not long at all, and it will just start to crumble. It doesn't have the ability to cleave.
That is the way Europe is tonight. You have all these nations, that over hundreds and hundreds of years have hated each other with a passion. That is why that region has been a battle ground for centuries. The Germans hate the French and so on. And those hatreds run deep. Even though they have now agreed to come together in a political and economic United States of Europe, the whole thing is so fragile because of those latent hatreds. And that is what I think is depicted here in the iron and clay. Its got strength but its got weakness. They will have a United States of Europe someday, and out of that consortium of ten nations (and they will end up with ten because the The Book says so) will come the man Anti-christ. And he will make a treaty with Israel, as we will be seeing in a few weeks, that will trigger God's time clock of prophecy once again, and those final seven years will click off. Let's wind up this vision with Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter 2.
"And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men (just exactly as Europe is doing tonight): but they shall not cleave one to another,..."
In other words there will be no political unity. The whole thing will be fragile. That is why it will be so easy for one man to come on the scene. And we are getting so close. I'm not a date setter, you know that, but I do feel that we are so close to the appearance of the Anti-christ. Remember though, before he makes his appearance, we have to go. The Lord will be taking us (believers) out. We won't see, or be able to put a thumb on, who he is. But when the Anti-christ comes, the world will be falling at his feet. He will rule and reign satanically for that seven years. It will be the most awful seven years in all of the earth's history. I like to put it this way. The holocaust of Nazi Germany will be a Sunday School picnic compared to those seven years. And it will be world wide.
The Sovereign God is in control of the whole thing. That is why I like to start in Genesis. The plan of God for the whole Age of History. It is all architecturally drawn up from eternity past. Nothing takes Him by surprise. It is just so hard to comprehend how a Sovereign God prepared everything that has happened. And yet he left man with a free will. Now that is hard to reconcile isn't it? That a Sovereign God lays it out, gives man and nations their free will, and they all meet at the end. I can't explain it, but I believe it. And you can see it happening constantly. I have told my classes to go back and read the history of World War II, and how some of our great battles in the Pacific, as well as in Europe, hinged on the change of the weather. That wasn't just by accident, that was a Sovereign God. Man is operating on his own free will, and doesn't have any idea that God has any thing to do with it. But He has everything to do with it. Now look at verse 44.
"And in those days of these kings (when these ten nations of Western Europe, headed up by the Anti-christ, have run their course of 7 years) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom,..."
What Kingdom? The same Kingdom we have been talking about from day one. The Kingdom He is going to have on the earth. A Kingdom that will never be destroyed. The Book of Revelation puts a time element on the Kingdom. How long? A thousand years! That is how we get the term millennium and even the world likes to use it. Have you noticed that lately? When they talk about the next thousand years they will use the word millennium. Well, they're talking in secular terms of the next thousand years from the year 2000 to 3000. But the thousand years that Scriptures refer to, and we refer to, is that thousand years of reign and rule. But we know it's going to end by the providential act of a Sovereign God. This is, when Satan is loosed for a little season and everything is going to have to go through a great turmoil. But when the new earth and new heaven come on the scene (eternity), it's going to be the same set of circumstances as was in that thousand year reign and rule.
It took me a while to come to that conclusion, but I'm so convinced of it, I speak it now without apology. That the thousand year reign of Christ is limited in time. Absolutely it is. The Scripture says "A thousand years," but in essence that same Kingdom economy is going to go right on into all eternity. That is why the language always speaks as it does here. That this Kingdom shall never be destroyed. It will never end. Oh, it will be interrupted again, but it will come right back on the scene for eternity. I have always gotten a kick out of seeing people light up when I explain to them when we go into eternal abode, in our eternal state, we won't be floating around up on some ethereal cloud, in an invisible spirit form, and strum an invisible harp. That won't be heaven. Heaven is going to be a place of intense activity. We are going to be so busy. I don't think God will have anything to do with idleness. I think that activity will be glorious beyond our comprehension. Never lose sight of that.
I tell men who love to fish, I don't know whether you will fish in that new heaven and new earth, but there is going to be something even better than that. So this Kingdom is ushered in at the return of Christ on a glorious earth, wherein the curse has been lifted. There will be a tremendous population explosion (we will explain that some day when we get to it during this study on prophecy). And it will go on throughout eternity. Now let's continue verse 44:
"...and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms,..."
All these great Gentile kingdoms that were precipitated and were based on nothing but greed. I was so thrilled several months ago when we came out of our class here in Tulsa, and in the parking lot, one of the fellows said, "I can see it for the first time in my life. Everything is based on greed." And you think about it. The whole ball of wax in which we are living today is based on greed. Everyone of these empires was based on greed. Take for example Alexander the Great, who grew up in Greece in the poorest part of Greece up in Macedonia. They didn't have a thing, and that started to gnaw away at him and he decided he wanted more than this. So he began to prepare himself and he became the conqueror of the whole known world. Why? Greed. Along come the Romans, and they look at all the good things that those Greeks have got. All their beautiful architecture, all those smart philosophers, and so what do they say? "Hey I want that." Boom! They go after it. Now this is what scares me when they talk about disassembling our military. Don't you know that the whole world sits out there, and with that greedy look says, "I wish we could have what those American have." And you know what? If we would let them have it they would take it in a moment.
Let's move to Chapter 7. I'll skip Chapter 3 and 4 for the time being at least. As for Chapter 5, most of you know the context and have heard many sermons on it. Now in Chapter 7, Daniel has his own vision. And Daniel is going to see, basically, these same Gentile Empires. Only he is going to see them come down in order. Rather than metals of gold, silver, and so forth, Daniel sees them as various wild beasts. But it is the same unfolding of history:
"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, `I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven (East, West, North and South) strove upon the great sea.'"
For those of you who have not marked it in the margin of your Bible you may want to do so now. The sea here again is a symbolic term for humanity. Most of you know that. So the four winds are just striving upon the masses of humanity. Even though at the time of Daniel there were not that many. But nevertheless it was still humanity. Now verse 3:
Daniel 7:3 <P>
"And four great beasts..."
Here again, I always remind my classes, don't let that word beast stir up a vision of some seven-headed lion. The beast term in Scripture is simply a government. Now the reason God has chosen the word "beast," is because all these great empires, as we will see from Daniel's point of view, are bestial in their behavior and again in their greed. And in the way they treat their subjects. I hope you all realize that all the way up through human history, unless you were fortunate enough to live among the very elite in the ruling class, what was life for the rest of the people? It was just existence. Most of them under abject poverty, slavery, oppression, and it was not until the Magna Charter, that came out of England in about the 13th century, that delineated some human rights. Before that, there was no such thing as human rights.
Since the Magna Charter, at least in our Western Civilization, there is a semblance of human rights. But even among our Western Civilizations, how many people are still living in a down trodden state. We are not in any Utopia. We are certainly blessed as a nation. But we still have many people that are in poverty, and have none of this world's goods. So Daniel sees these empires come out of the mass of humanity, bestial in their make-up, and he sees them in the same unfolding as Nebuchadnezzar did. Now verse 4.
"The first was like a lion, (that was Babylon. But instead of a head of gold Daniel sees it as a lion.) and had eagle's wing: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked (it was defeated and fell), and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it." And now verse 5. As a result of that fall what happened? Another empire.
"And behold another beast (we know it was the Medes and Persians), a second, like to a bear, and raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said, thus unto it. `Arise, devour much flesh.'" So the Medes and Persians took over the known world. Verse 6. Now this is history:
"After this I beheld, and lo another (another empire), like a leopard (the leopard is one of the swiftest animals in the world. It depicts Alexander the Great who was swift in his conquests. Alexander the Great could move his armies over territory that no one else would ever dream possible, and in less time. He was known for it, so consequently he was pictured as a leopard.), which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl (when Alexander the Great died, his four generals took his place. Now what does Daniel see? Four wings. The same picture. Instead of having one great dictator such as Nebuchadnezzar, this third empire is divided into four.); the beast had also four heads: and dominion was given to it." Now in verse 7, after the Grecian Empire falls, up comes the Roman Empire:
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly (and we know the Romans were. The Romans had control of the then known world, over the general population, like no other empire before it.); and it had great iron teeth (it was strong politically): it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse (or different) from all the beasts that were before it (why? It was the start of democratic form of government, the world had never experienced that before. And then you have a semicolon and what is the last part of the verse?); and it had ten horns."
As we look back on history, that semicolon jumped about 1700 years of time, because we are coming all the way from the Roman Empire, which ended between 300 and 400 A.D. up to the present time, and the appearance of the European Community as the revived Roman Empire. Ten horns. The horns again in Scripture merely refer to kings. Now we need to go back to Revelation again. We are now dealing with the kingdoms that will be on the earth at the time of the Tribulation, and we pick this up in Revelation for this book is the road map of the Tribulation for the most part. Revelation Chapter 13. We were here last lesson when we looked at the religious leader, but now we want to look at these 10 horns that will be the base of operation for this world ruler we call the Anti-christ.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea (what are we talking about again? The sea of humanity.), and saw a beast (government) rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns (see how that fits with Daniel? Now this is not any seven headed creature it's a consortium of nations.), and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy,"
"And the beast (this Government will be headed up in one man, this Anti-christ) which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion (what does that tell you? What we just read in Daniel 7. The same thing. Daniel saw Greece as a leopard, he saw the Medes as a bear, and he saw the Babylonians as a lion. Now John sees them in the same context): and the dragon gave him (the Anti-christ) his power, and his seat (or throne), and great authority."
"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed:"
Now here again I wish I had more time to explain. A lot of people think that the man Anti-christ will be shot, and brought back to life. I prefer to think that we are dealing with the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was the one that suffered a deadly wound. It died and collapsed, and faded off the scene 1700 years ago; and here we see it coming up again.
If you think I am stretching the point, about Western Europe being a revived Roman Empire about two years ago in "Insight Magazine" was an article on the European Community. It was written by a lady, and she was describing all the ins and outs of Western Europe. Exactly like I shared with you in the last lesson; their hates, and problems, and so forth. And yet they have the biggest potential for gross national product of any place on earth. But she ended her article with this statement, "It may seem odd to think that these nations who hate each other can come together and make a United States of Europe. Everyone of these have been in an empire together once before: the Roman Empire." And that is the way she ended her article.
An so even a secular writer can see that what we are having come out of Europe now, is the very outline of that same old Roman Empire. So here in Revelation we have the same language as you have in Daniel. You have the ten horns and the aspect of his government will be bestial. He is going to have the power and totalitarian exercise of it like Nebuchadnezzar. He is going to rumble over people like the old bear (the Medes and Persians). He will have the swiftness of the leopard (empire of Alexander the Great). He is going to have all the residue of the ancient Roman Empire, with a seeming democracy behind him, but he himself will be absolute. This whole thing is coming together perfectly and the closer we come to it the more we will see how accurate this Book really is. The head that was wounded is the old Roman Empire, and all of a sudden it is alive and well and on the scene today. So I say, watch Western Europe.