A Panorama of World History from 600 B.C. to the Millennial Kingdom
[“Now opens one of the most comprehensive of the histories of world empires. Eight short verses of the inspired record (vv.37-45) tell the whole story, yet that story embraces the history of this world’s pomp and power. A few moments will suffice to commit it to memory, yet the period which it covers, beginning more than twenty-five centuries ago, reaches from that far-distant point past the rise and fall of kingdoms, past the setting up and overthrow of empires, past cycles and ages, past our own day, to the eternal state. It is so comprehensive that it embraces all this, yet it is so minute that it gives us the great outlines of earthly kingdoms from that time to this. Human wisdom never devised so brief a record that embraced so much. Human language never set forth in so few words such a great volume of historical truth. The finger of God is here.” http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/clt4/drdan2.htm]
This chapter is deep and rich, filled with profound eternal truths that have profound temporal implications and applications for each day of our life. We see both the transcendence and sovereignty of God (putting His eternal plans in the mind/dream of a pagan, evil Gentile king) and yet His immanence (nearness to man) as He reveals His plan to Daniel, a godly teenage boy, who called a prayer meeting and humbly cried out to God so he could know and do His will. “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” (Psalm 25:14) Young Daniel was a man who feared and loved God and the Lord confided in him and used him greatly. Notice how Daniel responded when God answered his prayer: 1) with worship and thanksgiving (19-23); 2) with compassion for the “wise men of Babylon” (24); 3) in testimony to God’s power and wisdom versus his abilities (27-30); 4) and his concern for the welfare of his companions (49). What an example of godliness he is to us today!
“What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” (V.11) The ‘wise” men of Babylon believed in the transcendence of the (false) gods but did not believe in their personal involvement with man as we seen in verse 11. It is true that unbelievers cannot understand God’s truth. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14) But it is not true that the One True God “does not live among men” as He was near to Daniel then and is even nearer to us today as He makes His home in our hearts: “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) God indwells all true believers but confides in those who fear and obey Him. As one writer put it, God is not indiscriminately intimate.
Daniel grasped the eternal truths that transformed the way he lived his temporal life. Yet as we will see in chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar missed the whole point and was puffed up in even more pride, building a 90-foot statue of himself and making people worship him or die. From Scripture we learn that unless we live for eternity (i.e., in accountability to God for our daily actions) we cannot live wisely: “You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning— though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:5-6, 12) “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:13-17) If we don’t do today what God calls us to do, we sinfully presume upon the future (as if we know how long we will live) and, in essence tell God we’ll “do the good we ought” someday later. Daniel was wise because he not only saw the brevity of life, but the vision changed the way he lived each day. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7)
“Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams.” (V.2) So who are the “wise” men we listen to today? Fortune tellers, astrologists, talk show hosts, T.V. ads, liberal educators (evolutionists), liberal theologians, etc. Beware of anyone who tells you things are going to get better (per evolution or world leaders) in this world because it is the opposite of what God told Daniel to tell the king. The statue (human government and human history) degenerates as seen in the declining value of the metals from gold to iron. “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. ” (2 Tim 3:1-5; 13) Progress in God’s sight is growth in Christ-like character, not technology and education.
So, like Daniel, we are not to be overly concerned about who is ruling over us for the moment because God is our King and He “removes kings and establishes kings” (v. 21). But we are to be responsible citizens who pray for and vote for the people whom we feel will best govern per God’s Word and righteousness because God established human government. (Romans 13:1-7) And some may feel led by God to be a public servant in the true sense of that phrase. Daniel knew the One True King of kings and worshiped at His throne and gave his ultimate allegiance and service to Him and to Him alone. Our Lord Jesus says it this way: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things (temporal needs) will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33) To seek His kingdom means to seek His will so we can obey Him as our King. And since He is the King of kings now, if we don’t obey Him there are consequences both now and forever. (Heb. 12:5-11; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; Revelation 20:11-15)
“And in the days of these [final ten] kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.” (v. 44) So where are we today in the unfolding revelation of human history? We are in the mud, the clay, the mixture of clay and iron in the ten toes. [“Legs of iron: The legs of iron represented the Roman Empire. The Greeks were defeated by the Romans in 63 B.C. Iron is common and worth relatively little, but it is extremely strong, just as the Roman culture was primitive and imported its religion and art from the Greeks, but was militarily almost invincible. This empire ruled the Jewish nation during Jesus’ time. The two legs foretold the division of the Roman Empire in the fourth century A.D. The western division’s capital was Rome; the eastern division’s capital was Constantinople (Istanbul today). The western division was defeated by the barbarians in A.D. 476; the eastern division was defeated by the Turks in AD 1453. Parenthesis: In prophecy, a parenthesis is a gap in time— a time gap in which events are not divulged or recorded. Such a parenthesis occurs in the Book of Daniel between the time of the legs of iron (Roman Empire) — history past— until the feet of clay and iron (the revived Roman Empire) — history present. Feet of clay and iron: Coming from the iron legs were feet made of a mixture of iron and clay. This empire is the revived Roman Empire. Following World War II, European nations were fearful. In less than three decades, two world wars had been fought throughout the European continent. European nations had been on opposite sides of these wars. Following 1945 with the atomic bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the face of war was forever changed. Europe was now in the middle of two great Cold War enemies— the U.S.S.R. on the east and the U.S.A. and Great Britain on the west— and l both enemies possessed nuclear weapons. European nations understandably feared that World War III could be fought in Europe, with nuclear bomb destruction and fallout. In 1948, three small nations— Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg— forged a mutual defense pact, the Benelux Treaty (named from Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg). Although the military might of these three nations was small and would present no challenge to military forces of larger nations, the idea was well received throughout Europe. Progressing through early stages of development, the Benelux partnership has grown to the European Union (E.U.). Today, the E.U. is similar to the United States of America, being a United States of Europe. The E.U. has twenty-seven member countries; a military force; and a single currency, the euro (€), adopted by most member countries. The E.U. incorporates much of the land formerly held by the Roman Empire. It is, therefore, properly considered to be the revived Roman Empire. Clay and iron do not mix well together. There are real differences and heated disagreements among member countries of the E.U. The two materials are of unequal strength— clay is soft, weak, and brittle; iron is strong. Some E.U. countries are weak, whereas other E.U. countries are strong. Five E.U. countries— the PIIGS countries of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain— are teetering on financial collapse, and have been propped up by stronger E.U. countries (Germany and France). The ten toes: Coming from the iron-clay feet were ten toes. The Antichrist likely will rule the European Union and seek to rule the world. The ten toes may represent the ten divisions of the world which will come from the Antichrist’s government in the E.U., as ten toes come from feet. What could these ten toes represent? Prophecy scholars present different interpretations of the toes. I believe they may represent ten world divisions during the time of the Antichrist. Consider the following: In prophecy, a horn represents authority (a king, a kingdom). Daniel reported another vision, which mirrored the ten toes of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. (Daniel 7:7-8; Revelation 17:12)” http://www.rio-maranatha.com/ss-28.html]
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and how can you apply it to your life?
2. “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” (Psalm 25:14) Young Daniel was a man who feared and loved God and the Lord confided in him and used him greatly. What is the application for our lives?
3. What four things did Daniel do after God answered his prayer about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that are good examples for us to follow?
4. “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” (V.11) The “wise” men of Babylon believed in the transcendence of the (false) gods but did not believe in their personal involvement with man. How do you experience God’s personal involvement in your life?
5. Daniel grasped the eternal truths revealed in the dream that transformed the way he lived his temporal life. From Scripture we learn that unless we live for eternity (i.e., in accountability to God for our daily actions) we cannot live wisely. Read Psalm 90:5-6; 12 and James 4:13-17 and discuss how we can apply these verses to our lives even as Daniel did. 6. “Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams.” (V.2) So who are the “wise” men we listen to today and how can they (or do they) steer us in the wrong direction?
7. So like Daniel, we are not to be overly concerned about who is ruling over us for the moment because God is our King and He “removes kings and establishes kings” (v. 21). But we are to be responsible citizens who pray for and vote for the people whom we feel will best govern per God’s Word and righteousness. How is the truth working out in your life as it relates to the upcoming elections? Are you overly concerned or wrongly un-concerned?
8. “And in the days of these [final ten] kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.” (Dan. 2:44) The “men of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (1 Chron. 12:32) “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” (Matt. 24:37-39) So where are we today in the unfolding revelation of human history that God revealed to Daniel some 2,600 years ago? What are the signs of the times that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24:15 when He referred to Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:27?