SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH
Lesson 7, God’s Unshakeable Kingdom, Daniel 2:36-45
January 8, 2016
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Daniel, chapter 3 and verse 36. The title of our message this morning is God’s Unshakeable Kingdom. And as you’re turning there just a quick housekeeping matter—church membership is something that we offer to people; it doesn’t get you any brownie points with God necessarily but it’s just a way of (in the eyes of man anyway) publicly identifying with a flock or a congregation. You fill out a little paperwork, have a meeting with the elders, and the last step is to publicly acknowledge someone as a new church member. I wasn’t here last week so I have no idea if we did this last week but… is Rick Miller here today? Could you stand up real quick Rick, we won’t embarrass you too bad; Rick has joined Sugar Land Bible Church, let’s give him a round of applause [clapping]. And if we did this already you get it twice. Rick, as many of you know, is our State Rep in the Texas House so it’s nice to have a man of God doing God’s work in the devil’s workshop, so we appreciate that. [clapping] I won’t say anything more because this is on the internet (the IRS might be listening).
Anyway, the book of Daniel, chapter 2, verse 36. I want to also thank Gabe Morris for filling in last week. Let’s give Gabe a round of applause. [clapping] I really don’t tell Gabe what to teach on; the subject of replacement theology is something he wanted to do and I’m very excited, he didn’t do a sermonette for Christianettes kind of thing but actually wanted to take you to a deep place and so I hope you’re blessed by Gabe’s messages on replacement theology and you’ll have a chance to encourage him on the way out.
Daniel 2:36. Did you know that you as a child of God are on the precipice of receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken? Is anybody happy about that? You’ll find that promise in Hebrews 12:28, you don’t have to turn there but you might mark that down. [Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;”] It’s sort of something stable that we are citizens of that we are coming to receive and this is the type of promise that we can cling to in an unstable world, an unshakeable kingdom.
And you might be asking yourself, well can you describe this unshakeable kingdom a little bit for us. I’m very glad you asked that question because the book of Daniel, chapter 2, beginning in verse 36 and hopefully making it through verse 45 this morning, gives us tremendous details of this kingdom that’s on the horizon. It even begins to describe the failing kingdoms of man which will precede this unshakeable kingdom that’s coming.
Of course God has strategically raised up this man, Daniel, to be His prophet during a very difficult time in the nation of Israel’s history when the nation is being trampled down by various Gentile powers. She has actually been removed from her land through the disciplinary hand of God and is in deportation in Babylon, in a place called Iraq… now it doesn’t say “Iraq” in the Bible, does it? But modern day Iraq is ancient Babylon. This is where the nation of Israel went for 350 years and you can see how discouraging it would be for these Hebrews who had had their temple destroyed, they’re being taken away into captivity, the Shekinah glory of God has left the temple, Ezekiel describes that. And you can understand how they would be without hope.
And beyond that they need to know how to live for God because the only instructions they’ve had thus far is they know how to live for God in the land of Israel but now they’re living for God outside the land of Israel. So Daniel is raised up to give great prophecies about this time period and also to serve as a role model concerning how to live. Because like Daniel, we are too living in a pagan society; the assumptions of the Bible are no longer held by our culture at large. So how do we live? What are we to do? What are we to do when we’re challenged about our Christianity at the school, or at the work place? Daniel serves as a tremendous example for us in this regard.
Chapter 1 is really the introduction of the book; it sets the stage, the setting if you will, and from there we move into chapters 2-7 which we’ve been studying for several weeks and we are focused on chapter 2. There’s so much in chapter 2.
Here is a very fast outline of chapter 2, first of all Nebuchadnezzar, the individual that God used to bring the nation into captivity, a Babylonian king, has s dream, Daniel 2:1. [Daniel 2:1, “Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.”] The year is about 603 B.C. That’s a very important date so keep that in mind as we go through this today. Daniel is probably about 17 years old as these events unfold, and Nebuchadnezzar lays down the gauntlet, verses 2-13, and gives an impossible challenge. In fact, this challenge is so great that only God could answer this challenge; the bar is so high that only God Himself could over the hurdle.
Nebuchadnezzar says to the wise men of Babylon, tell me the dream I had and its interpretation. I’m not just going to tell you the dream and let you interpret it, you tell me the dream itself. And obviously only God of heaven can reveal something of this level. So verses 14-23 the dream is revealed to Daniel. And then we moved into verses 24-30 where Daniel actually recites the dream and interprets it for Nebuchadnezzar. It’s at this point that Daniel explodes into praise to God because he realizes that the revelation he has receive did not come to him through a Chinese fortune cookie. It could not come to him through gazing at the stars. It could not come to him by reading Jeanne Dixon and the horoscope. It could not come to him by tapping into the Oprah Winfrey network. It could only come to him from God.
And as Ed read the verses, verse 31-35 we now have the dream itself; first of all its contents and then its interpretation. As Ed was reading those verses what was described is a giant statue; the head was made of gold, the chest and arms were made of silver, the belly and thighs were made of brass, the legs were made of iron, the feed were made of iron and clay. And in this dream Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar both see a stone cut without human hands that strikes the statue at its most weak level, the feet, causing the entire statue to crumble. And then Daniel continues and Nebuchadnezzar in this dream sees the pieces of the broken statue spread out through the threshing floor.
Beyond that he sees the wind driving these pieces away of the statue that’s been crushed, and he sees this stone, which originally struck the statue, grow and grow and grow until it fills the whole earth. And that’s the dream that troubled Nebuchadnezzar. This is the dream that was also given to Daniel and its interpretation.
You say well what does it mean? I’m glad you asked, verse 36-45 interprets this dream for us. Notice, if you will, verse 36. “This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king,” as Daniel communicates this. You’ll notice in this verse, verse 36, the word “interpretation.” The Bible is its own interpreter; the Bible is what we would call a self-interpreting book. If there is something in the Bible that puzzles you, if there is something in the Bible that is strange to you, my exhortation to you is to be patient with the Bible because in the course of time, physically in the same context (as we’re going to be seeing today) the Bible will interpret itself.
And so many Christians are impatient with the Bible. They try to force the Bible into their own (what I would call) sanctified imagination; they just bring ideas out of the carnal mind to interpret things in the Bible. I’ve heard some of the craziest interpretations you can imagine on this statue. I’ve heard interpretations of the statue that are so detailed people will tell you exactly what each of the ten toes represents, they’ll even get into the toenails themselves and explain that to you. And you hear all these things and you ask yourself, where are they getting this from? And generally they’re just pulling it out of their hat. And we ought not to be this way with the Word of God; we ought to let the Bible interpret itself, which is nicely does here in verses 37-45.
What is being described here is a brand new period of time that the nation was in, that they had never experienced before, called the times of the Gentiles. That’s a phrase Jesus Himself uses in Luke 21:24. [Luke 21:24, “and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”] It’s a time period when the nation no longer has a Davidic king reigning on the throne in Jerusalem. It’s a time period when the nation of Israel is being bullied by various Gentile powers. It’s a time period which began with Nebuchadnezzar, all the way back in 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar came and took the four Hebrew youths into captivity and subsequently destroyed the temple, around 586 B.C. And it’s a time period that continues on, right on through the Second Advent of Christ.
In fact we, today, are still in “the times of the Gentiles.” The nations of the earth continue to look at the tiny nation of Israel, just a speck in a sea of totalitarian dictatorships as somebody or an entity that needs to be bullied. In fact, even at the end of 2016 the United Nations got together and once again demanded that Israel give up what’s called the West Bank. I don’t use the term “West Bank” because when you use the term West Bank you’re describing a piece of geography from the Jordanian point of view. This territory is not to the west of Israel; it’s actually to the east of Israel. And the proper name for it is not the West Bank, it is called Judea and Samaria.
The name of the game in the world community is to coerce the tiny nation of Israel to giving up that land. The fancy name that the politicians give this today is the two-state solution, reducing the width, if you will, of the nation of Israel from about 44 miles to about 9 miles. And people that are pilots, and we have several in this group, will tell you that you need about ten miles to shoot down an enemy plane; you reduce the width of the nation of Israel to about 9 miles you put her to an indefensible position and that’s what’s being demanded by the world community, that’s what they want. It’s a very, very sad day in America when our own presidential administration, the Obama administration, under cement Samantha Power the ambassador to the U.N. goes to the U.N. and does not exercise what historically Israel has been able to count on, a United States Veto. The United States of America abstained from that vote as the year and the end of the year 2016, and in abstaining they acquiesced to this demand by the United Nations.
January 15, the great nations of the earth will be gathering in Paris, France, seventy of them at least, will be in attendance and their whole name of the game is once again to demand this two state solution. Dr. Jim McGowan and I did a Facebook post, we do a live feed on Fridays, covering the international law that governs this. I don’t want to bore you with details because if you’re interested you can to listen on our Facebook page to that. But there is no international law that Israel is violating by living in Judea and Samaria, by building settlements in east Jerusalem.
I bring this up because I want to show you that the times of the Gentiles that Daniel predicted are continuing on right on to the present day. This is the time period that Daniel saw, where Israel would be bullied perpetually by Gentile powers.
It’s interesting to me that the world community is not worried about the Iranians building nuclear weapons, they’re not worried about Al-Qaida, they’re not worried about ISIS, they’re not worried about the aggressive nature of Russia which has invaded Georgia and the Ukraine and Crimea, they are not worried about China on the march. They’re worried about this little nation over here that’s so small, it’s about the size of New Jersey, you can hardly see it on a large Middle Eastern map. They’re worried about these Jews building settlements in their own territory. See that? And somehow this is the most important problem that we’ve got to fix.
The times of the Gentiles never ended when Israel went back into the land. The times of the Gentiles are continuing on; they will continue on. What is happening today will intensify right up through the reign of the antichrist and it won’t end until Jesus takes His seat on David’s throne and establishes His Kingdom. You see, Daniel is seeing all of these things, all the way back into the sixth century; this is what the interpretation of this vision that he is going to give provides.
What did Daniel see? I think what he saw were six empires in total. Each empire represents a different body part on the statue. So let’s walk through these various empires and let’s bring ourselves up to speed with what Daniel saw all the way back in the sixth century. Notice, if you will, verses 37-38, “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory;  and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You” as Daniel was speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, “are the head of gold.” What does “the head of gold” in the statue represent? It represents the first empire during the times of the Gentiles, Babylon. I don’t need a sanctified imagination to understand that. Look at the end of verse 38, “you” Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, “are the head of gold.”
It’s an empire that started to persecute Israel around 605 B.C. and it would last about seventy years or so, perhaps a little under, right up 539 B.C. when Babylon would be overthrown by the Persians. Daniel predicts that overthrow in this vision and that vision becomes a reality in Daniel 5, the great handwriting on the wall chapter, where the Persians would overthrow the Babylonians. This was the empire, Babylon, that was in place when Daniel was taken into captivity. It was a worldwide power. Daniel is saying in this vision that that empire will end in my own lifetime, it would take a few decades but it would come to pass. When God says something is going to happen you’d better bet the ranch on what God says because it will happen with great precision and great accuracy. This prophecy would be fulfilled in Daniel’s very own lifetime.
Nebuchadnezzar receives the dream because he is the first empire, if you will, Emperor, during the times of the Gentiles. And did you catch what Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, “the God of heaven has given the kingdom” to you. He says a little bit later He has “given them into your hand.” A little bit later he says He “has caused you to rule over them all.” Nebuchadnezzar, you’re in the position you’re in, not because of your resume or your intelligence or your military strategy, it’s the God of heaven that’s put you there for a season.
And everybody seems to understand this but Nebuchadnezzar. Isn’t that interesting about people in power? They’re the last person to figure out that the reason they’re there is because God put them there. Because in Daniel 4 what does Nebuchadnezzar say? Verse 30, “The king” that’s Nebuchadnezzar, “reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built … by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’” He’s got a bad case of the “I’s” Nebuchadnezzar does. If he had only gone back and reread what this teenager Daniel told him back in Daniel 2:37-38. [Daniel 2:36-38, “This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king.  You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.”]
You know, the New Testament, the book of Romans says this, “For there is no authority except from God and those which are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.” [Romans 13:1b] We are living in a society of rebels that want to fight authority constantly. When you fight a God-ordained authority… some people come into the church and do this, when you fight against a God-ordained authority you’re fighting against God. And if you find yourself in a collision with some authority figure in your life, whether it’s your school, at your job, at your workplace, even in the church, you might want to ask yourself who it is you’re really fighting. And for those that are in authority positions it’s time to humble yourself and abase yourself before God because you wouldn’t even be there had God not sovereignly put you there. It’s a different perspective, isn’t it, on authority.
But what would happen according to this vision is the head of gold would give way to the chest and arms of silver. Notice, if you will, the first part of verse 39, “After you” Nebuchadnezzar, “there will arise another kingdom inferior to you.” This is the chest and arms of silver; this is the empire that would replace Babylon, an empire called Medo-Persia. You say well, where are you getting that pastor? It doesn’t say Persia in this text. It doesn’t say it here but when Daniel 5 records the overthrow of the Babylonians it gives you the name of the next empire. You might want to jot down Daniel 5:28, you’ll see the word Persia there. [Daniel 5:28, “…your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”]
Daniel 8 and Daniel 10 are both visions about the middle two empires during the times of the Gentiles. Daniel 8:20 uses the word Medo Persia. Daniel 10:13 uses the word Persia twice. [Daniel 8:20, “The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.” Daniel 10:13, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.”]
Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m allowing the Bible to interpret itself. The rest of the book of Daniel tells you exactly who this second empire is going to be. Daniel, as a 17 year old, would see this prophecy come to pass in his own lifetime. The key chapter of the military change is Daniel 5 which I mentioned a little earlier.
It’s interesting that in verse 39, when Daniel describes this empire that’s coming after Babylon he says it would be “inferior to you.” [Verse 39, “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.”] That puzzles people because Persia conquered more territory than Babylon but the reality of the situation, and most historians agree with this, that the Babylonian Empire was very centralized and controlled by one man. Once the Persians came to power you see a decentralization in authority. And this is the meaning of the gradual decline of the value of the metals as you move from gold, to silver, to brass, to bronze, to iron, and finally the least valuable, iron mixed with clay.
It would be a very impressive empire but it would be inferior in terms of centralized authority to Nebuchadnezzar’s empire. You see, Nebuchadnezzar never thought his empire would end. That’s why in Daniel 3 he built the giant statue made of what? Gold; the statue represents his empire. And what he is saying is oh, that silly kid back there, when he was 17 may have made some statements but the Neo-Babylonian Empire will never end, it will last forever. And that is a common trait as you study history and the existence of various empires. I could show you many, many quotes from Rome, they never thought Rome would end. But it did end!
A lot of people are like this with the United States of America—what’s poor God going to do without the United States of America? Answer—He’ll raise up somebody else. No Gentile power has a permanent lease on history and time.
It is interesting to me that the chest and arms of silver cover the heart; the heart is the seat of affection in the ancient world. What I think this means is that the Persian Empire was close to the heart of God. Why is that? Because God had a special calling on Persia; He had a special calling on Babylon (to start the captivity); Persia’s job was to end the captivity because it’s under the Persian Empire that the nation of Israel will go back into their own land seventy years later, in three waves. This will begin with a man named Cyrus, a Persian, who, by the way, is called out 200-300 years in advance by the prophet Isaiah, as you look at the end of Isaiah 44 and the beginning of Isaiah 45.
Persia was close to the heart of God because God would use Persia to take the nation of Israel out of captivity. The modern nation representing Persia today is Iran and how the Iranians and their leadership have lost sight of their culture because today Iran is not dictated by an emperor like Cyrus, but it’s controlled by a Shite Muslim theocracy whose very ambition is to take Israel, and as one of her former leaders said, wipe Israel off the map. Which actually, if you think about it, that’s a step forward because most Islamic maps don’t even have the state of Israel on the map so at least you’re acknowledging Israel is on the map so you can wipe her off the map. And you hear this anti-Semitic vitriolic rhetoric and you read the pages of God’s Word and you say how amazing it is for a culture to lose sight of what God once did in that culture.
I think here in the United States of America we are largely losing sight of what God has done here and why God raised up our nation. Our nation was not raised up by God to veto United Nations resolutions that help Israel; we were here to bless Israel, and how we need to get back into history and remind us of our existence and our calling, and tremble before God because God can pull the plug, as we see very easily here, on any nation.
But you see, the chest and arms of silver would give way to the belly and thighs of bronze and you see that at the end of verse 39, it says, “Another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. [Daniel 2:39, “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.”]
The belly and thighs of bronze, who is the belly and thighs of bronze? It would be the next empire during the times of the Gentiles, the empire of Greece. [Daniel 2:32, “The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze”] You say well how do you know it’s Greece, it doesn’t say Greece here? Once again, allow Daniel to interpret himself because in Daniel 8 there’s a prophecy of the middle two empires during the times of the Gentiles; Daniel 10 there’s more information about the middle two empires during the times of the Gentiles. And over in Daniel 8:21 you will see the word Greece. Over in Daniel 10:20 you will see the word “Greece.” [Daniel 8:21, “The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” Daniel 10:20, “Then he said, ‘Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.’”]
An empire that really would not come into existence until long after Daniel was dead, beginning to come to power about 331 B.C. and going all the way to 63 B.C. That’s why I said at the beginning the date of this prophecy that Daniel is having here is very important. Daniel, as a 17 year old, in the sixth century, is seeing things that would not come to pass for centuries and long after he was dead. Greece is the empire of Alexander the Great, who is going to become a big deal in Daniel’s prophecy centuries in advance in Daniel 8.
And then what would happen is the belly and thighs of bronze would give way to the legs of iron. Notice, if you will, Daniel 2:40, “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces.” I will call this Rome Phase 1; Rome historical Rome. Rome really moved into the land of Israel around 63 B.C, almost 600 years after Daniel made this prophecy. Rome is the one that would push the nation of Israel out of her homeland in A.D. 70. And isn’t it interesting that when you look at this vision Rome, or the legs of iron, are represented by two different legs. There’s an eastern division of Rome, was there not? And a western division of Rome, exactly like Daniel said. That’s why it’s so interesting that the legs of iron are used to describe Rome.
Well, pastor, how do you know it’s Rome? It doesn’t say Rome. And you’re correct, there is nothing necessarily in Daniel that tells me this is Rome, as clearly as we saw the word Greece or Persia. But this is just a matter of knowing history and knowing which empire followed Greece. It’s a matter of historical fact that Greece was replaced by Rome. And notice the imagery that Daniel uses to describe this Roman Empire; he uses imagery like strong, crushes, shatters, breaks. That is a description of everything we know about Rome. It was a ruthless regime. In fact, you know from your own Bible that it was under Rome that our Lord was crucified.
The Romans did not invent the crucifixion; that was invented by the Assyrians, one of the most bloodthirsty groups that have ever existed. There’s a reason why Jonah didn’t want to go preach to Assyria and he went to Spain instead. Assyria was so wicked in terms of their instruments of capital punishment and death Jonah just said God, I’m not going to shed Your grace on those people, let them go right into hell where they belong. And God gave Jonah a little wakeup call, didn’t He?
And isn’t it sad that we can get this way with people, that we can write people off and say the grace of God should not go to them, those 9/11 people that flew the planes into New York City, Islamic Fundamentalists countries, ruthless dictators, people like Fidel Castro (who has passed on). There’s something instinctively in us where we want to treat those people with the justice they deserve. And then we turn around and say to the Lord, well Lord, thank You for treating me with grace. Isn’t it great that God doesn’t treat us the way we treat other people? And that’s the whole point of the book of Jonah, to awaken us to this. Is there someone in your life that you just can’t wait to see die and slip right into hell where they belong? That’s not the God of the Bible.
And so Rome would come to power and Rome would take this Assyrian method of capital punishment, called the crucifixion, and popularize it. Rome looked back into history, they looked at what Assyria did and how they killed people and they said this looks like a great idea, let’s bring it to life. And this was how our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified.
It was Rome, as I mentioned before, that pushed Israel out of her land. Do you realize that when that happened in A.D. 70 over a million Jews died. Do you realize that what the Romans would do to the Jewish women that were pregnant? Josephus talks about this, they would tear open their wombs and strangle the child inside the mother so that Jewish life would be permanently snuffed out. It brings to life this imagery of crushes, shatters, breaks, the ruthlessness of Rome.
Daniel 9:26, Daniel focuses in on Rome and he says this: “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Daniel here speaking of two diabolical acts of Rome, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, number 1, and the destruction of the nation in A.D. 70. Daniel is seeing all of this in advance.
But then the legs of iron would give way to the feet of iron and clay, and notice, if you will, verses 41-43, “In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.  As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle.  And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.” Where am I going now? We leave ancient Rome, the legs of iron, and we move into the feet of iron and clay and this thrusts us into what I will call Rome phase 2.
But even Rome phase 2 is not an adequate definition because recall that Daniel 2-7 is chiastically structured. In other words, the themes started in Daniel 2 are repeated in Daniel 7. Just like the themes of Daniel 3 are repeated in Daniel 6, just like the themes of Daniel 4 are repeated in Daniel 5, that’s a literary device called a chiasm. I walked you through that and to help us understand this last empire we can’t just look at Daniel 2 we have to factor in supplemental information in Daniel 7.
Daniel 7:23 says this, “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms” watch this, “which will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.’” This is something bigger than Rome. Rome might be some kind of origination point but this is an empire that will exist over the entire planet earth. What I believe is being described here in verses 41-42 is the coming kingdom of the antichrist. You say well how can you interpret the Bible that way? The ten toes are interpreted for us in Daniel 7:24 as ten horns. Daniel 7:24, says “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise;…”
The book of Revelation repeats this, Revelation 17:12, “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, [but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour].” What is this talking about here, this final empire. It’s talking about a ten king confederacy that somehow manages to get the entire world in its grasp. This ten king confederacy, as we study this image, is immediately and instantaneously destroyed. It doesn’t take but an hour for this to happen according to Revelation 18. That’s the meaning of the stone cut with human hands striking the feet; it’s an empire that comes suddenly to an end as God replaces it with His kingdom.
Let me ask you a question: study ancient Rome, did ancient Rome ever consist of a ten king confederacy? No. Did ancient Rome ever suddenly terminate? No, not at all. In fact, if you were to read Edward Gibbon and The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, a historian documenting Roman times, he will tell you that Rome deteriorated gradually, over centuries, as the morals of the Roman people weakened. What I’m trying to get at is this striking of the statue has never been fulfilled in history and so the image from head to ankles is past, but the feet are yet future. So in between the ankles and the feet is a period of time lasting at least 2,600 years.
You say well, this is a very strange way of interpreting the Bible. But the fact of the matter is you already interpret the Bible this way all of the time, you just don’t realize it. Do you remember what’s on your Christmas card? Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, a son will be given,” First Coming or Second Coming? First Coming. “…and the government will rest upon His shoulders,” First Coming or Second Coming? Second Coming, Isaiah just conflated two prophecies, one about the First Advent, one about the Second Advent, and he didn’t tell you (because he didn’t know) what’s going to happen in the interim.
The best analogy I have for this is looking at two mountains in the distance. What do you really see if the front mountain is smaller than the other you see the first mountain and in the background you see the second mountain and what can you not see? The valley. That’s what the prophets of old could not see; they could not see exactly what is happening in that valley. This is why the Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 1:10-11 says the prophets searched with great diligence trying to understand the times that the Holy Spirit had revealed to them. [1 Peter 1:10-11, “…the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries  seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”]
Daniel himself, in this book, will search out the meaning of this prophecy but he will be told to go his own way. But isn’t it interesting how hindsight is 20/20. We can look back and see what’s in the valley; the valley is the period of time between the two advents of Christ; we are part of that valley, the age of the church.
And you say to yourself, well, do you have any good books I could read to tell me about that valley? And I have two, number 1, the book of Ephesians; chapters 1-3 will tell you all about that valley. The second thing I’d have you read is Matthew 13 where Christ described that valley in the form of eight parables. If you were to go home today and you were to read Matthew 13 and Ephesians 1-3 you would know exactly what God is doing in this time period that’s called here the valley. And isn’t it wonderful that we, through a full canon of Scripture, can look backwards and understand the prophecies of Daniel better than Daniel could; better than Isaiah could.
But one of these days this valley is going to end and this set of feet, two feet mixed with iron and clay, a ten-king confederacy will come into existence and cover the earth. This is the kingdom of the antichrist. This is the kingdom that I believe you’re seeing develop before your very eyes as I speak. One of the things that’s very interesting to me is these one-world organizations that don’t know anything about the Bible; get together… and the club of Rome did this years ago and they got a map and they said you know, when this whole thing is done we’re going to have the world divided up according to various regions… do you know the number they picked? Ten regions; oh my goodness.
Beloved, we are living on borrowed time. The forces in places of prominence as I speak are busy putting together the tapestry for this final kingdom of the antichrist. And the name of the game here is regionalism. Look at what they did to Europe; the tiny European states don’t have power any more, the power resides in Brussels. Those tiny European states are just debating societies, the true source of power is in Brussels which reigns over that region. And perhaps there’ll be another region in another part of the world. I like the book by Jerome Coursi, called The Late Great USA, published a few years back; a Harvard PhD where he explains the plan in place to take the United States and merge it with Canada and Mexico and have one region over that territory, and one currency by the way, called the Amero.
I’m not saying it’s going to happen exactly like this, I’m just trying to show us that the forces of what Daniel saw all the way back in the sixth century are alive and well. You say well, I’m depressed, why are you talking about this? Let me give you some good news. Do you know how long the antichrist’s empire is going to last? Revelation 13:5 says forty-two months. [Revelation 13:5, “There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.”]
It gets its day in the sun but it will come, as we will see in a minute, to a crashing halt. It’s going to be overthrown. And even when this empire comes into existence the way Daniel seems to be describing it here it really is not a very cohesive structure; it’s almost like it’s sloppily pieced together; people groups with totally different cultures are thrown together into a common bond. This is what Daniel means about the iron and the clay not mixing well together.
John Walvoord, in his commentary on the book of Daniel, of these verses says this: “The final form of the kingdom will include diverse elements, whether this refers to race, political idealism, or sectional interests, and this will prevent the final form of the kingdom from having any real unity. This, of course, is borne out by the fact that the world empire at the end of the age breaks up into a gigantic civil war in which forces from the south and the east and the north contend with the ruler of the Mediterranean force supremacy as Daniel himself will explain in Daniel 11:36-45.”
What is the name of the game today? They call it multiculturalism. All cultures are equal. Don’t stand up today and say one culture is superior to another; you’ll get called every name in the book from racist, xenophobic, my personal favorite, ethnocentric. Whatever name is called it’s a name thrown at people that stand for a particular culture, like a patriot. Well, the patriotic mindset has to be erased because all cultures have to be united into one. But even as those cultures are put together what’s lurking beneath the surface is deep, deep division. It’s a superficial unity only and it comes to the surface as that empire goes to war against itself in the second half of the tribulation period.
But then Daniel kept watching and he saw a stone, cut without human hands, strike the feet of the statue which brings to an end not just the empire of the antichrist but it brings to end the whole Gentile dominion; the whole statue, head to toe, crumbles and the wind drives the pieces away. And the stone cut without human hands grows and grows and grows until it fits the whole earth. What is this growing stone? It’s the future kingdom of God. It’s the very thing Jesus taught us to pray about in Matthew 6 when He said, “Thy kingdom” what? “come.” That’s the focus of our attention; this is the unshakeable kingdom that you as a child of God are an inheritor of.
You’ll notice back in verse 34 the stone is called “cut without human hands” meaning it’s not of human origin. It will not be human manipulation, human political strategy that will bring this kingdom into existence; it will be the work of God. And it will overthrow the antichrist’s kingdom.
Look again at verse 44, “In the days of those kings” what kings? The ten king confederacy. “in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed,” there’s a chronology here. First comes the ten king confederacy, it reigns for a while and then God overthrows it instantaneously, miraculously, cataclysmically. Did you notice this expression here, “the God of heaven.” I believe that this was the kingdom that was actually offered to Israel on a silver platter in the first century, with the expression, “repent for the kingdom of” what? “heaven is at hand.” The source of this kingdom will be physical and earthly but it will emerge from heaven itself. And this is what is meant by this “stone cut without human hands” growing. It will be a universal and eternal kingdom.
Let me ask you a question. All of these kingdoms we looked at, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, even Rome phase 2, are those literal kingdoms? Yes. Did they reign for a literal time? Yes. Did they occupy specific lands? Yes. Did they have borders? Yes. Did they have a capitol? Yes they did. Then why wouldn’t the last kingdom. This stone cut without human hands, not reigned for a literal time (a thousand years), have land, a tract of real estate from Egypt to Iraq, Genesis 15:18-21; have borders, and have a capital also called Jerusalem. And what I have just presented to you is what we would call a premillennial view of history; millennium simply means a thousand years. Premillennialism is the belief that the thousand year kingdom will not come into existence until Jesus comes back first, “pre” and then sets it up, premillennialism.
But that view is not the majority view in church history. The majority view in church history is either amillennialism or postmillennialism, which argues that Jesus set up His kingdom in the first century and He’s reigning in our hearts. What does that mean? That means that I interpret everything in the statue literally except the stone, that’s not literal. That is called vacillation where you switch horses in midstream. The fact of the matter is, a literal interpretation of the statue demands premillennialism. Jesus did not set up His kingdom in the first century. That was rejected and postponed. My professor, J. Dwight Pentecost, says this: “Christianity did not suddenly fill the earth in the first century; it took decades for the gospel to even get to Rome. Christ did not destroy Rome; Rome existed several centuries after the time of Christ. There’s no simultaneous kings existing in the first century, in the time of Christ. In fact the New Testament never calls Christ “a smiting stone,” it calls Him a cornerstone, Ephesians 2:2, a stumbling stone, 1 Peter 2:8. [Ephesians 2:2, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,.” 1 Peter 2:8, “and, ‘A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”]
He’s not a smiting stone yet. He’ll be the smiting stone at His Second Coming. Christ, in the first century, did not destroy all the kingdoms of the world. He set up something new called the church. The church is not a political kingdom. We don’t have any borders, do we? We don’t have a capital. We don’t have an army. We are a spiritual man.
Merrill Unger writes this: “Hence, the iron kingdom with its feet of iron and clay (cf. 3:33-35, 40, 44) and the nondescript beast of 7:7-8 envision…the form in which it will exist after the church period, when God will resume His dealing with the nation Israel. How futile for conservative scholars to ignore that fact and to seek to find literal fulfillment of those prophecies in history or in the church, when those predictions refer to events yet future and have no application whatever to the church.” [Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1981; reprint, Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2002), 1643.]
This is why in our doctrinal statements, whether it be at the College of Biblical Studies, whether it be the Sugar Land Bible Church doctrinal statement, what you’ll discover is the kingdom in those statements is placed yet future. We are waiting for Jesus to return and establish His kingdom. We are winning souls through the gospel who will be citizens of this coming kingdom but the actual work of manifesting and establishing the kingdom is not a task that God ever gave to the church.
And yet what you discover out there, and I’ve been going through these quotes on Wednesday evenings, I encourage you to come, we’re studying the doctrine of the kingdom on Wednesday nights, I won’t reread all those quotes, but what people are out there doing today is they’re trying to set up the kingdom. One of the most popular voices is Rick Warren, who most people know, runaway bestseller, Purpose Driven Live, Purpose Driven Church, he says, “I stand before you confidently right now and say to you that God is going to use you to change the world. I’m looking at a stadium full of people right now who are telling God they will do whatever it takes to establish God’s kingdom on earth.” Rick, count me out, because I’m premillennial, I believe that God, as demonstrated through this “stone cut without human hands,” He Himself will set up the kingdom. And people say premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism, what difference does it really make? I’m a panmillennialist, it’s all going to pan out in the end. I don’t want to be bogged down with theology. I don’t want to be bogged down with the structure of the kingdom and when it comes.
And let me explain to you why you’d better care. If you don’t get this right the church becomes confused as to its mission. What has God given the church to do? Not to set up the kingdom; that’s something only God can do. What He’s given to the church to do is to fulfill the great commission which becomes the great what? Omission, when you get confused as to what your role is.
If a business is struggling or failing the first thing they do when they hire a consultant is the consultant comes in and he asks the business what’s your mission? Why do you exist? Ask different pastors that question and watch the confusion. Why is the church here? The church exists for three things: number 1, to glorify God, number 2, to edify the saints, number 3 to fulfill the great commission. I’ve got that definition from Robert Lightner, you see the Scriptures that he’s using. Everything that happens at Sugar Land Bible Church should relate to glorifying God, edifying the saints and fulfilling the great commission. That’s the final words that Christ gave to the church.
And what a sneaky guy the devil is to get us involved in establishing the kingdom which is a task that God never gave to the church. Hal Lindsay, in a very good book called The Road to Holocaust warned what could happen to the church in the last days if she began to see herself as the establisher of God’s kingdom. Quote, “The last days of the church on earth may be largely wasted seeking to accomplish a task that only the Lord Himself can and will do directly.”
Theology is like dominoes in a row; you knock over one domino the rest will fall. Whatever your eschatological position is, is going to affect your ecclesiological position. There is nothing that the devil wants to confuse us more on than why we’re here. And yet because these matters are not clearly taught there’s massive confusion. Most churches don’t even know why they exist. You do, because we instructed you this morning.
Kingdom now theology is nothing but a resurrection of an ancient heresy that did not begin up north in Antioch but began down south in Alexandria, Egypt, the very things that Gabe is talking about in his series where the church got into interpreting prophecy non-literally, that’s what they got into, largely promoted by Gnostic thought which said that the physical world is evil. So if the physical world is evil I guess we can’t have a physical kingdom on planet earth and by the way, how could Jesus come in a body, so they began to damage that doctrine and the incarnation as well. The most influential theologian in church history is Augustine, who wrote a book called The City of God, in the fourth century where he gave a formal literary treatment to Kingdom Now theology. And that book and that man cast a shadow over church history that has been almost impossible to climb out of. The Protestant Reformers returned a literal interpretation; we are trying to take the same literal interpretation that the Protestant Reformers stood on and apply it to this “stone cut without human hands,” but it’s a battle, climbing out of that shadow. It is a devilish work in many respects, not the least of which is it confuses us in our mission.
What a message this would be, first of all to the Jew, hang in there throughout the centuries, you’re going to be bullied by various powers but God is going to maintain you as a distinct nation, He’s going to set up His kingdom through you, and by the way, all of these empires that are bullying you will one day be on the ash heap of human history. Isn’t it interesting that Rome, a Latin speaking nation, pushed Israel out of her land in A.D. 70. Today Rome is gone, but who’s still in that land? Israel. Latin is a dead language. What language are they using over there? Hebrew. Hang in there, God is going to fulfill His Word in His timetable. Each empire that bullies you is limited but on the horizon is a kingdom which cannot be shaken, a kingdom which we are partakers in.
Message to the Jew—comfort. Message to the Gentile—be on your guard, you think you’ve got the upper hand in history but your day in the sun will come to an end just like every other nation. People today are asking well, what’s going to happen to America? I’ll tell you what’s going to happen to America—what’s happened to every other nation in the course of history. She has her day in the sun and she will dissipate as a culture. It almost seems like we’re cheerleading that to happen based on a lot of our decisions that we’re making. But God does a pretty good job, even without America. One day America herself will be replaced by a kingdom which cannot be shaken.
My exhortation to you is where is your citizenship? Where is it? Where is your hope? Interest rates, stock market, the value of your house, a career path? Is that your hope for the future? You’ve invested in the wrong kingdom. You’ve invested into something that’s shaking, in fact, even as I speak its shaking.
And how different it can be for a person who places their personal faith in Christ and His promises. That’s something that you can do now, even as I’m speaking. You don’t have to raise a hand to do it, walk an aisle to do it, join a church to do it. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you acquiesce, you believe in what He has said, shifting the hope for your eternity into a coming kingdom which cannot be shaken. And as you walk through life’s trials and you see this world system buckling it doesn’t faze you because your hope is in a higher and greater place. Are you invested into the ten toes of iron and clay that’s going to crumble or are you invested into the stone cut without human hands which cannot be shaken. I hope and pray that you’ll trust Christ. If it’s something you need more information on I’m available after the service.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for this ancient prophecy and how it encourages us and motivates us and speaks into our lives. Help us to be people that share this good news of citizenship of a higher kingdom with others. And we’ll carefully give You all the praise and the glory. We lift these things up in Jesus’ name. And God’s people said….