Daniel 006: Panorama of History

Daniel 006: Panorama of History
Daniel 2:24-36 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 18, 2016 • Daniel


Andy Woods


Lesson 6, A Panorama of History, Daniel 2:24-36

December 18, 2016

If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Daniel, chapter 2 and verse 24.  The title of our message this morning is A Panorama of History and as we’re sort of in that interesting time right after Thanksgiving, just before Christmas, everybody has a full calendar and guess what? We have a full calendar here too.  Saturday, Christmas Eve, I’d invite you to come out for that, we typically keep you for less than an hour (can you believe that)?  It’s one of those times of the year I do a short sermon, which goes about ten minutes; some of  you don’t believe I can do that so you might want to come and see that it’s true.  And we do sing some traditional Christmas songs and a candle lighting service and it’s just a great way to keep Christ in your Christmas.  We understand that Christmas Eve is a family time and so we try to respect that as much as we can.   And then the following day, Sunday morning it’s actually Christmas day which falls on a Sunday this year, so we will be having regular church; it’s just that it’s not going to meet at 11:00, it’s going to meet at 10:00 with no adult Sunday School.  And so we’re going to be doing a regular church service; typically on Christmas I’ll preach a Christmas message and it’ll be something that you probably never heard on Christmas.  You say, wow, that’s an interesting Christmas passage, how is he going to tie this in.  So I encourage you to come Sunday morning for that.

The following Sunday is what?  New Year’s Day; it’s kind of interesting how the calendar lined up this year.  So we are going to be having a church service on New Year’s Day but just like on Christmas it’ll start at 10:00 as well with no adult Sunday School.  And then once everything is passed, the following Sunday which would be what?  The 7th, we would be going right back to our regular order of events.

The Book of Daniel, chapter 2 and verse 24; the title of our message this morning is A Panorama of World History.  We have been moving our way into the book of Daniel; Daniel, of course, is a very special character that God used in a strategic way to reveal a time period prophetically that the nation of Israel had just drifted into.  It’s a time period where the nation of Israel has been removed from their homeland; they have no king reigning on David’s throne.  Judah finds herself in Babylonian captivity 350 miles to the east.  And the nation of Israel has no prophetic piece of information governing this time period, and thus God raised up Daniel to reveal this time period that the nation, Israel, was in.

And of course, the nation of Israel needs to know how to live for God during this time period and consequently God uses Daniel and his three friends as role models, if you will; this is how to live for God in the midst of a pagan society.  And this is one of the reasons I wanted to study the book of Daniel with you, is because the things that Daniel predicts are largely becoming realized in our own day.  And beyond that, we, like Daniel, live in a society that I call the Romans 1 culture, where the beliefs and the value systems of the Bible are no longer embraced by the majority of our population, no longer embraced by the people that hold places of influence in our society.  So how do we, as God’s people, live in such a time period?  Daniel becomes very helpful to us in terms of carving out for us a role model.

Chapter 1 we’ve gone through and we’re now moving into this section, chapters 2-7, which, as I’ve mentioned before is organized chiastically.  The language shifts; no longer is Daniel speaking directly to the Jewish nation, he is speaking Aramaic, or this section is recorded in Aramaic, because it’s a message not just to the Jews but it’s a message to the Gentile powers.  People in positions of power have a tendency to think that they are in that position because they put themselves there and what we learn in chapters 2-7 is they did not put themselves there—God put them there!  And once God is finished with them they will be quickly removed from that position of power.

Chapter 2 will line up with chapter 7; chapter 3 will line up with chapter 6; chapter 4 will line up with chapter 5.  And we have just moved into chapter 2 which is a revelation, if you will, that God gave to Daniel concerning the course of Gentile history.  Where is history headed?  Most people would pay millions of dollars to discover that information but the fact of the matter is all we need to do is read the Bible.  If they read their Bible they would see exactly the course of this age and they would see exactly where history is moving; God has not lost control of anything (as we will see).

This begins with a dream, this chapter, that Nebuchadnezzar had.  Nebuchadnezzar, of course, is the reigning king over Neo-Babylonia; he is the despot that brought the Jewish people into captivity, into Babylon.  And he has a dream that bothers him and he creates what we would call now an impossible standard.  According to Daniel 2:1 the date would be the second year of Nebuchadnezzar.  [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.”]

That means that the things Daniel is going to predict he saw all the way back in 603 B.C.  Many of the things that he saw and predicted are way ahead of his time.  Daniel describes history in a very uncanny way, the history comes to pass in subsequent centuries literally and accurately to such a degree that the liberals don’t even think Daniel could have seen these things in the sixth century, he obviously wrote these things later and we do not embrace that here at Sugar Land Bible Church.  We believe that the literal actual Daniel saw these things happening centuries in advance.

Nebuchadnezzar has had this dream and now he creates an impossible standard for his wise men, who are sort of the forerunners, if you will, to the Magi.  Daniel at the end of this chapter is going to become one of the Magi.  Next week I’ll be explaining to you why the Magi were seeking a star at a particular time in history.  Daniel gives us the background for that information.  But Nebuchad­nezzar turns to his wise men, so called at that day, and he creates an impossible standard.  He says, number 1, don’t just tell me the interpretation of the dream that I have had but tell me what the dream was.  And of course, as we saw last week, they rightfully respond that no one can do that but God.  And that’s the point!  The revelation of the dream and the interpretation of the dream, which is going to come now in the life of the prophet Daniel, is something that only God could deliver on.  Something like this could not be made known through human intellect, human energy, human effort, but it is something that can only be disclosed by the God of heaven.

And so as last week we saw, moving down to verses 14-23 the dream actually was revealed to Daniel. We’re not told what the contents of the dream was at this point but that is coming this morning, as we will see.  And we ended last week with Daniel exploding, verses 20-23, into worship; worship being a response to truth.  He just begins to praise God because this disclosure could have only come to him from God.

And we pick up the story there in verse 24 where now Daniel, having received the dream and its interpretation is in a position to recite the dream and interpret it properly for Nebuchadnezzar.  Nebuchadnezzar, of course, is quite anxious for an answer because this dream caused him much consternation, even disrupting Nebuchadnezzar’s sleep cycle.

But notice verses 24-28 as Daniel now begins to report this dream to Nebuchadnezzar.  Notice, if you will, verses 24-25.  It says, “Then Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: ‘Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king.’  [25] Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man” let me repeat that, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!’”

What happens is Daniel now, who is given this revelation of the dream and the interpretation of the dream, is hurriedly rushed into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar by this man Arioch.  The reason everybody is in a hurry is (as we studied last week) Nebuchadnezzar has given an ultimatum.  The ultimatum is this: if I don’t receive a revelation and an interpretation of the dream all the wise men will be destroyed in Babylon, including Daniel and his three friends.

This is the second time that Daniel’s life is on the line and he has no one to depend upon but God.  Daniel announces that he knows what the dream is and what it means.  Arioch, the commander, wastes no time by  ushering Daniel into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar.  But isn’t it interesting who Arioch credits with this dream and its interpretation, “I have found a man among the exiles.” Arioch credits Daniel; Arioch, a gentile, Arioch a pagan, Arioch a person who does not know God credits man.

And notice how Daniel corrects the record, verses 26-28.  Notice what it says there, “The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, ‘Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?’ [27] Daniel answered before the king and said, ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. [28] ‘However, there is a God in heaven,’” let me repeat that,  “‘However, there is a God in heaven,’” God to be distinguished from a man.  Arioch crediting a man, Daniel crediting God.  Verse 28, “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days.  This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.”

You look at verse 25, Arioch crediting a man and compare that to verse 28, Daniel crediting God, you see a difference in perspective.  One of the great dangers of being a servant of God is if the Lord uses you in any sense people will naturally try to attract attention to you rather than God.  That’s the nature of man.  Man, by nature, is an idolater; man by nature wants to credit the creature rather than the Creator.  This is always a problem that God has when He uses people.  So how does God resolve this problem?  He finds people that are the least qualified people imaginable to do His work thereby when God does a work in ant through your life people say well, there’s no way they could have pulled that off themselves, it must be God.  God is not looking, therefore, for qualified people.  In fact, the opposite is true, He is looking for unqualified people because the qualified people have a tendency to stand in the place of glory and attract attention to themselves.  A lot of people say well, (looking at their own lives), I guess God could never use me, I’m not qualified.  Well, here’s the bottom line: God does not call the qualified, rather He qualifies the called.

And when God uses your life in a very special way it’s so important to do as Daniel did here, to give credit to where credit is due.  The Apostle Paul had this problem.  In Acts 14:11-15 the Apostle Paul, through God’s power, performs a great miracle and the people there in Southern Galatia that saw this miracle said this, Acts 14:12, “And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. [13] The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. [14] But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out [15] and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.”

You’ll notice that those in southern Galatian wanted to credit (with this miracle) Paul and Barnabas.  Paul and Barnabas correctly turn around and say why are you doing this?  Why are you worshipping us?  Glorify God!  I think it was Billy Graham who put it this way: There are three things that terminate any ministry, these all begin with the letter G and you’ll discover that when ministers fall it’s always these three things beginning with the letter G.  Number 1, Billy Graham said don’t touch the gold, financial embezzlement in other words.  Number 2, don’t touch the girls, sexual immorality.  And then he said number 3, don’t touch the glory because God will not share His glory with another.

And that’s why, when, for example, after I preach a sermon and let’s say God that particular Sunday tries to use it and bless somebody, people will come up to you and they will say thank you for such a wonderful message and sort of my habit when I receive that (sometimes I receive it, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I get a lot of other comments that I wish I never got) but when you receive a comment like that it’s important to deflect glory back to where it belongs.  I just have a habit of saying well, praise the Lord!  I don’t say well, you know, I did stay up late working on that and I did have my logos program out and you know, I did go through a lot of seminary training and you know….  That would be a man-centered approach to things.  And God is going to use your life, if you give Him the opportunity to do it, you’ll be in the exact same position, and how critical that is not to attract attention to yourself but instead to glorify God.  That is exactly what Daniel is doing here and in fact Daniel says there in verse 27 that this dream did not come to you through the wise men, through the conjurers, through the diviners, through the magicians, through the Chaldeans.  He goes through these various classes within the Babylonian wise men.  He is very clear with Nebuchadnezzar this dream did not come to you through man.  In fact, you had exhausted all of your options before God showed up.  This is something that God Himself has done.

In fact, in verse 27 Daniel uses the word “mystery.”  Verses 28-29 he uses the word “mysteries.”  We talked a little bit about what a mystery is last time; a mystery is a disclosure of God which could be known no other way other than God.  God has taken this time period that the nation is in, which was in prophetic murkiness, people didn’t know what was happening and God has pulled out into the light (with a very clear prophetic revelation) what is going to happen to the nation of Israel.

You’ll notice there in verse 28 Daniel credits the “God of heaven.”  The Babylonians, as we have talked about, worshipped the heavens, seeking to chart their lives through patterns that they saw in the constellations and the stars, astrology.  And Daniel is very clear that it’s not these astrological patterns that reveal this to you; this was the God who made those stars that you are worshipping.  It is known to you from the God of heaven.

Daniel, in verse 28, is very clear that this vision concerns “the latter days.”  It’s an expression, “the latter days,” which reveals a time period of great distress for national Israel. And yet Israel, through this time of distress, will be saved from it and God, through that saved remnant is going to establish His kingdom.  This is how Daniel uses the expression latter days.  Later on in his book, Daniel 10:14, for the vision pertains to “latter days,” to the “days yet future.”   [Daniel 10:14, “[Daniel 10:14, “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” ]

He uses a similar expression in Daniel 11:35, “end time.”  It says in Daniel 11:35, “Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.”  Nebuchadnezzar, this doesn’t just concern you; you’re part of it,  you’re the front end of it, (as we’ll see).  But it’s something that is going to stretch all the way to the end when God, Christ Himself will physically return to the earth and rule the world from David’s throne in millennial fashion.

You’ll notice, as we go down to verses 29-30 that we have a purpose in the dream itself.  Notice, if you will, Daniel 2:29, Daniel begins to speak to Nebuchadnezzar and he says, “As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. [30] “But as for me,” watch this, “this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man,” I didn’t receive this understanding because of my education, because of my SAT test score, because I graduated from an Ivy League school, because of my acumen and insight into the business world.  This vision and this understanding is something that came to me directly from God.  What an important thing to do as we live in troubled times, as God wants to use us, to keep glorifying God rather than attracting attention to ourselves.  What a role model Daniel is in this regard.

Notice the second part there, of verse 30, “but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.”  Nebuchadnezzar, this dream was revealed to you not by accident, there is a reason that the God of heaven targeted you when this dream was given. You’ll notice the word “purpose,” there’s a purpose behind it because what Daniel is about to disclose  under God’s power is a time period that is called later on in Scripture “the times of the Gentiles,” a time period when the Gentile nations will have the upper hand over the nation of Israel.  This is disclosed specifically to Nebuchadnezzar because he is the first Gentile king during the times of the Gentiles.  God knows exactly what He is doing!  There is a reason why this dream has come to Nebuchadnezzar at this time in history.

Now you might be asking yourself, well, let’s get on with it, what is the contents of the dream, and I’m glad you asked that.  Notice, if you will, verses 31-35, which reveals what Nebuchadnezzar saw and what Daniel was shown.  Notice, if you will, the contents, verses 31-35 and then what follows is the interpretation.  Let’s take a look at the contents first, shall we?

Verses 31-35,  “You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome.” Here’s what you saw Nebuchadnezzar, and notice these descriptors that Daniel provides.  You saw something that looked in human form like a giant statue.  It was something to behold.  Daniel describes it as great, large, awesome, something of extraordinary splendor.  And then what follows in verses 32-25 is the body of the statue begins to be given descriptions by Daniel.

Verse 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, [33] its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. [34 ‘You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. [35] Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

What did Nebuchadnezzar see in this dream?  He saw this giant statue of dazzling appearance, the head was made of gold, the chest and arms were made of silver, the belly and thighs were made of bronze; he saw the two legs in this stature made of iron.  He kept looking at the feet and the feet were made of iron and clay.  And then all of a sudden a stone cut without human hands strikes the statue in its most vulnerable place, the feet, and destroys the feet and as the feet are unloosed and wrecked the whole thing crumbles to the ground.  And Nebuchadnezzar sees these pieces of this formerly beautiful metallic statue spread about on the threshing floor.  And Nebuchadnezzar continued to watch in this dream and suddenly a giant wind came and blew these pieces away.  And then the stone which destroyed the statue began to grow and grow and grow and grow until if filled the entire earth.

Before we give the interpretation, beginning in verse 36, let me just make some observations, if I can, about the statue.  Notice how the value of the metal deteriorates as you move from top to bottom, gold, of course, being the most valuable; followed by something of less value, silver; something of less value, bronze; something of less value, iron; and then even something of less value than iron, iron mixed with a foreign substance, iron and clay.

Notice also how the weight of the metal declines as you move from top to bottom.  The heaviest metal on top, followed by the second heaviest metal, the third heaviest metal, the fourth heaviest metal and then the fifth heaviest as iron is mixed there with clay.  And as you move from top to bottom not only does the value disintegrate, not only does the weight disintegrate, but the hardness of the metal actually increases.

Now this is somewhat interesting because this is a pattern of history that God is revealing.  God, I believe, is revealing the degeneracy, the degeneration of the human race.  Things started off at a very high level, and then as man fell in the Garden of Eden and got away from God things have been deteriorating ever since.  By the way, what I just said is the exact opposite of what you’re going to get from secular anthropology.  It’s the exact opposite of what you’re going to get from the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution, of course, is this idea that we went from the goo to the zoo to you, or to the goo to you by way of the zoo, whichever expression you want to use.  In other words, the evolutionist will tell you that things started off at a very low level, a random chance accident happened and gradually man climbed his way, over billions of  years, out of the primordial soup and poor man, he couldn’t even talk, he didn’t even know what fire was until lightning struck, he certainly didn’t know anything about language.  Maybe he scribbled a few things there on the cave wall and as billions of years passed that developed into an alphabet and finally man became a thinking, breathing (always breathing) but a thinking cultured entity and they’ve arrived to our point today, the highest level of humanity.  Isn’t that great?   Isn’t that flattering?  I’ll try not to break my arm patting myself on the back; according to evolutionary thought we are the zenith of humanity.

The fact of the matter is the Bible reveals the exact opposite of what I just said.  John Walvoord, in his commentary on the book of Daniel writes this: “The descending scale of value of the four metals suggests the degeneration of the human race through the ages as implied in Genesis 4.”  I’ll talk about Genesis 4 in just a minute.  He mentions a few ancient writers who managed to capture this idea.  Ovid and Hesiod conceive history in this way.  Walvoord says, “The concept of degeneration contradicts the evolutionary interpretation of human history.  Instead of man beginning in the dust and consummating in fine gold God reveals man in the times of the Gentiles to begin with fine gold and to end in the dust.”

The human race is not getting better and better every day and in every way as people think.  What  is happening is mankind is moving further away from God.  Romans 1 tells us his mind has become darkened and he is not evolving; the fact of the matter is he’s devolving.  He’s devolving intellectually, he’s devolving physically, and he is devolving morally as well.

A great chapter of the Bible which reveals this is Genesis 4:20, which is at the very beginning of human history, right after the fall in Eden.  We look at people as these cave men creatures that couldn’t do anything or think or put music together or metal instruments or anything but what does Genesis 4:20 reveal?  It says, “Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.  [21] His brother was named Jubal; he became the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and the flute.  [22] As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.”

Notice the beginning of human history, that mankind had a capacity to work in tents and have livestock.  Notice also that mankind at the very beginning of human history had access and a knowledge of musical instruments that are mentioned there in verse 21.  This is really the catcher: notice that mankind at the very beginning of human history was working with metallurgy if I’m pronouncing that properly, metal however you say it, you guys know what I’m getting at, “bronze and iron.”  Now the secular historians tell us well, first we have the bronze age, beginning in 3300 B.C. and then man didn’t even understand iron or could forge instruments of iron until 1300 B.C.

So there was the bronze age, then there’s the iron age, and notice that your Bible is saying the exact opposite, that mankind at the beginning of history, prior to the global flood, was working with both bronze and iron simultaneously.  The fact of the matter is, God, when He comes into your life is not interested in repainting the walls, changing the furniture around, and putting in nice carpet.  What God is doing in your life is He’s destroying the foundation of your house; He is going to destroy the way you think about everything if you let him, including these subjects that people grab onto like anthropology, the doctrine of man.   You’re getting constantly a secular interpretation of anthropology.  The fact of the matter is the Bible says exactly the opposite.

And part of the process of progressive sanctification is to allow God to re-alter the way you think, to re-alter your worldview.  That’s why the book of Romans, chapter 12 and verse 2 says we should “be transformed by the renewing of our” what? “our mind.”  [Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”]

We should start to think the way God thinks, not just on how to get to heaven but on every subject where God has revealed Himself, including anthropology or the doctrine of man.  The world is not getting better and better.  In fact, your Bible says this age will end in a valley called Armageddon where the blood will flow as high as the horse’s bridles for 200 miles.  This age will end in a catastrophe and had it not been for the intervention of God in that future time period mankind would have totally and completely destroyed himself.  That’s what your Bible says about human history, and you start to see this promoted and advocated through the declining of the value of the metals as  you move through this statue.

But what does it mean?  What does the head of gold mean?  What does the chest and arms of silver mean?  What does the belly and thighs of bronze mean?  What do the legs of iron mean?  What do the feet mixed with iron and clay mean?  What does it mean when it talks about this “stone cut without human hands” instantaneously destroying the statue and the stone grows and grows and grows until it fills the whole earth?  What does that mean?  I’m glad you asked that question because we’re given the answer in verses 36-45.

Notice something here about your Bible.  It gives you a vision and an interpretation.  What you will discover about the Bible, particularly as we get into these visions and things of this nature, is the Bible is its own interpreter.  The Bible is what we would call a self-interpreting document.  And the reason I bring this up is there’s a lot of Crazy (with a capital C) things floating around today on the internet and the You Tube and all these places where people are trying to guess as to what God is saying in these visions and they’re coming up with answers that are borderline insane, in my opinion.  And the reason they come up with such insanity is they do not let the Bible speak for itself.  The Bible will interpret itself.  Many times it will interpret itself right in the same context; other times, as I’ll show you, you have to go to other contexts for the Bible to interpret itself, but the Bible is its own interpreter.

Now a lot of believers follow what they call the sanctified imagination; I’ll just come in with my corrupt and carnal mind and interpret this any way I want, and you are outside the rules of biblical interpretation, you are outside the will of God when you do that because God doesn’t just give us the vision, He gives us the specific interpretation.

What did Daniel see?  “Head of gold,” notice, if you will, verse 36, “This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king.”  See the word “interpretation”?  The Bible, in other words, interprets itself.  It’s a period of time that’s called “the times of the Gentiles.”  You say well where does it say “times of the Gentiles.”  It doesn’t say it here but you’ll find a reference to that phrase by none other than Jesus Christ Himself in Luke 21:24 where He says Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.  [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.”]

Revelation 11:2 makes a reference to the final forty-two months, if you will, of the times of the Gentiles.  [Revelation 11:2, “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”]  The “times of the Gentiles” has a specific concrete meaning in Scripture; it is the time period when Israel had no reigning king on David’s throne.  That happened or began when Nebuchadnezzar deposed the last Davidic King, a man named Zedekiah.  And ever since that period of time, right into the time period of Daniel, right through the time period that Daniel is going to prophecy about, right up to the present hour, beloved, Israel today, Jerusalem today, has no king reigning on David’s throne.  And the nation is being trampled down by various Gentile powers that Daniel actually will name here in Daniel 2.

Now remember the chiasm; Daniel 2, the information is repeated in Daniel 7, both are dealing with that same period of time but Daniel in Daniel 7 doesn’t see it as an attractive dazzling statue; he sees it as four grotesque and disgusting beasts, the same period of time.  Well, if it’s the same period of time why does Daniel 2 refer to it as a beautiful statue and Daniel 7 refer to it as four grotesque disgusting beasts?  Well, it depends where you sit.  In Daniel 2 division comes to who?  Nebuchadnezzar.  Nebuchadnezzar is doing the what?  The trampling.  So to him the times of the Gentiles seems like an attractive, wonderful, glorious period of time.  When Daniel sees that same time period it’s not very glorious to him at all because he and his people are being trampled upon.  That’s why Daniel 7 reveals it as the beast; Daniel 2 reveals it as an attractive statue.  It’s a time period that starts with the deposing of Nebuchadnezzar and stretches all the way to the Second Advent when Jesus will return to this world and rule the world in Davidic fashion from David’s throne.

You say well, why is that important. It’s important because we are plagued today with date-setters.  Some of the prophecy books that have influenced me, by  people I love, made a mistake, and here’s the mistake they made.  They said well, the Jews became a nation again in 1948, that’s when the times of the Gentiles concluded, and Jesus did say, did He not, that this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.  A generation in the Bible is about forty years and so therefore forty years from 1948 would take you to 1988.  The problem is, 1988 came and went, no return of Christ.

So then they started to scramble around a little bit and they said well, really a generation is seventy years, or eighty years.  And then something happened in 1967 called The Six Day War, where the Jews regained Judea and Samaria and control over what was called the city of Jerusalem and there were countless sermons preached in 1967.  One of the people that preached, I won’t even mention his name because he’s very popular, he preached a sermon that the times of the Gentiles had ended, 1967.  The problem is, 1967 came and went, no return of Christ, so really, they said, a generation was in 1967.  What’s a generation?  Forty years.  That day comes and goes.  Well, it’s seventy years.  That day comes and goes.

And you see, the mistake that all of these people, I believe well intentioned are making, is they are miss assuming that the times of the Gentiles ended in 1948 with the regathering of Jews to the land, or ended some time in 1967 when the Jews got control of Judea and Samaria.  The problem is when the Jews got control of that area in what’s called the Six Day War in 1967 they took the Temple Mount, this was Moshe Dayan, you see him on the old black and white eclipse with the eye patch, he took the Temple Mount and he gave it right back to the Muslims.  And it was somewhat smart of him to do that because it probably would have caused World War III had the Jews held onto the Temple Mount.

So what I’m trying to get at is the times of the Gentiles did not end in 1967, the times of the Gentiles did not end in 1948, the times of the Gentiles are continuing on as I speak.  Yes, the nation of Israel gloriously has been regathered in their land but the times of the Gentiles are continuing.  Israel has been regathered in unbelief, they are not yet a Christ accepting nation and so the Gentile powers continue to bully Israel.  That’s why every time the United Nations gets together and makes some kind of ruling somehow it’s always Israel’s fault.  In fact, about two-thirds, roughly, of United Nations Resolutions go against the nation of Israel.

What does all of this tell us?  That the times of the Gentiles are continuing right up to the present hour despite the fact that God has regathered the nation of Israel and brought them back into their homeland.  The times of the Gentiles will not include, the times of the Gentiles will not wrap up until the end of the tribulation period when Israel is in faith and the Davidic throne is once again occupied.

So if you understand that the times of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar and go right up to the second coming of Christ, I’m not talking about the rapture, the rapture is something that concerns the church, we’ll preach another 20 messages on the rapture at some point.  I’m talking about the Second Advent.  The rapture is not something revealed to Daniel, it’s not until Christ, in the Upper Room begins to describe the rapture that you get teachings on the rapture.  Paul, of course, will develop it in his 13 letters, the two most prominent and 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.  Get the rapture out of your mind… think about the rapture but it’s not in Daniel.

When it speaks here of the Second Advent it’s speaking of the physical, bodily, visible return of Jesus Christ to a believing nation at the end of the Tribulation period where he will actually rule and reign from David’s throne exactly like Zedekiah reigned from David’s throne.  It will be that physical and literal and bodily.  In fact, you’ll be able to go up to Jesus Christ and even shake His hand in the millennial kingdom.  And you won’t even have to give him a campaign contribution in the process.

This is the time period that Daniel is describing and if you misconstrue this you get caught up in the strange date-setting methodologies.  All of these faulty date-setting methodologies relate to when the times of the Gentiles end.  The times of the Gentiles have not ended; we are in the times of the Gentiles now.  Now if you want my personal opinion it looks like God is getting ready to wrap up the times of the Gentiles but I’m not setting a date, that’s just my own personal opinion.  The times of the Gentiles could go on for another fifty years, another hundred years, another thousand years. I don’t it will last that long but the fact of the matter is biblically it’s possible.   So that’s the time period that Israel is in and this is the time period that Daniel sees.

Now you’ll notice that he begins with these empires, and here we go.  Babylon is the head of gold,  the first empire during the times of the Gentiles.  Chest and arms of silver is the next empire that will trample down the nation of Israel during the times of the Gentiles, an empire called the Medes and the Persians.  And then you have the belly and thighs of bronze, now keep in mind Daniel is seeing all of these things hundreds of  years in advance; the next empire identified is Greece; Greece would follow Persia so that would be the chest and arms.  Let’s see, gold, Babylon, chest and arms of silver, Medo-Persia, belly and thighs of bronze would be Greece; that’s the empire of Alexander the Great and his four generals which become so significant to Daniel’s prophecies in chapter 8 and chapter 11.

Now what about these two legs of iron?  That’s Rome.  Rome, of course, is the empire that crucified the Son of God, so that’s the legs of iron.  And then Nebuchadnezzar (and Daniel apparently saw this vision as well) keeps looking and he sees feet, the feet seem somewhat strange because they’re not iron, they’re mixed with iron and clay.  And I believe at this point Daniel is rocketing into the distant future; he is skipping an entire aeon or an age of time and he begins to see the feet mixed with iron and clay as the empire of the antichrist; for lack of a better expression I call that Rome phase two.

And you say well, that is a very strange way of interpreting the Bible, I mean, how could he just skip hundred and thousands of years and in his prophecies go to the distant future?  Well, the fact of the matter is it’s very common in prophecy for two events to be presented in a back to back manner without revealing the time period between those events.  It’s a lot like looking at two mountains in the distance, the furthest one raised slightly higher than the one in front of it and what do you not see?  You don’t see the valley.  What did Daniel not see?  He did not see the valley; what’s the valley?  It’s the mystery age of the church that we’re in now, a period of time that was always contemplated by God but no prophet could see it because God had not disclosed it yet. We have to wait for Paul, first Christ in the Upper Room and then Paul to get the full disclosure of the age of the church.

Now you say well, I don’t agree with this interpretation of prophecy.  Okay, then you need to go home and take out your Christmas cards and get rid of Isaiah 9:6-7 because that’s on all your Christmas cards.  Do you know what that verse says?  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;” First Coming or Second Coming?  First Coming! “And the government will rest on His shoulders;” First Coming or Second Coming?  Second Coming, well wait a minute, you just skipped two thousand years there.

What I’m saying is the Holy Spirit does this all the time to these prophets; He’ll reveal one thing and then something that follows and not disclose the time period.  That’s why the prophets themselves, according to 1 Peter 1:10-11, were in a state of consternation over their own prophecies.  And I love it that little old me, in the year 2016, can understand Daniel’s prophecies better than Daniel, better than Isaiah, because Daniel wanted to understand many times and he was told to go his way.

So the feet of iron and clay is the empire of the antichrist; the empire of the antichrist we talk about all the time because we see it coming together in our own age through what’s called one-world government, new world order; it’s like politicians can’t even get through a speech today, Republicans or Democrats without saying the word global or globalism, one-worldism.  And yet that empire will last only three and a half years and it will be cataclysmically and instantaneously shattered by the “stone cut without human hands” which is the Kingdom of God which will grow and grow and grow and fill the earth.

And if you want to include me in a new world order or a one-world government that’s the only one I’m interested in participating in, thank you very much.  I don’t have any interest in participating in the new world order of a man.  My citizenship is in the new world order that is yet coming.

So six empires total, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome phase 1, Rome phase 2, and the coming kingdom of our God.   And the next time I’m with you we will actually read those verses and I’ll show you those verse by verse and I’ll show you how in most instances the names of these empires are revealed in the text.

How could Daniel have seen all of these things all the way back in the sixth century?  Because there is a God that reveals mysteries. My question for you is are  you related to that God?  Do you know where your citizenship resides because if you don’t know Christ personally the only thing you’re left with is the next empire on the horizon which is the empire of the antichrist.  You are stuck in the crumbling system of man and let me tell you something—the world system is falling apart at the seams!  But the stock market is up.  I’m glad it is this week, we’ll see what happens next week.  The fact of the matter is the financial systems of the world are coming apart at their seams.  Our nation is 21 Trillian (with a T) Trillian dollars in debt.  That’s no real prosperity folks; that’s an illusion.

The only thing the world system can offer you is an illusion and yet all of us in our heart of hearts wants security because God originally put us in Eden with our security needs met and He wants to bring us back into an Edenic paradise called His Kingdom and the only way you can become a citizen of that coming kingdom is to receive by faith the gospel.  The gospel is that Jesus Christ stepped out of eternity into time and He was born into our world; we celebrate His birth this week.  He came into our world to bridge a gap between God and man which could never be bridged; we call this the gospel or we call it good news because He’s done all the heavy lifting.  He’s died sacrificially on a cross, He has vindicated who He claimed to be through His bodily resurrection from the dead, and He leaves humanity with a very simple offer—if you stop trusting in yourself, stop trusting in your denomination, stop trusting in your New Year’s resolution, stop trusting in your list of do’s and don’ts, if you stop trying to do for yourself what only God can do for you and trust in His promises then you’re in.  The kingdom is not now but you’re a citizen of the coming kingdom and our lives begin to reflect different values, values of the kingdom that is yet on the horizon.  A kingdom, according to Hebrews 12:28 which is unshakeable.  [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;”]

And what an opportunity that is, to enter into that blessing and to realize that the systems of man may fail and will fail but you are inheriting an unshakeable kingdom, that “stone cut without human hands” that will one day fill and subdue the whole earth.  Have you received that offer?  There’s only one way to receive it and that’s by faith; faith is another way of saying trust.  Trust, reliance, dependence exclusively on the promises of Jesus Christ for the safekeeping of  your soul.  That’s what gets your foot in the door, and beloved, that’s what keeps your foot in the door.  The grace that saves is the grace that sustains.

And so even as I am speaking there may be some that have never really received what Jesus has done for them.  Our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to receive this offer, receive it by faith. It’s a matter of confidence between you and the Lord where you, in a moment of privacy, place your trust in what Jesus has done.  It’s not something you have to walk an aisle to do, raise a hand to do, join a church to do, give money to do; it’s a matter of privacy between  you and the Lord and that becomes your spiritual birthday.  What a great time to have a spiritual birthday during the very week when we celebrate the physical birthday of Jesus.  So our exhortation to you is to do that; you can do it now in your own mind and privacy.  If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray.  Father, as we get into this subject, broach this subject we’re grateful for the fact that you have a plan; history is moving in a particular direction, You know the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.  You’ve seen fit in mystery form to disclose this to mere mortal men.  Make us good stewards of this doctrine.  Help us to shape our lives the way we think and live as it gives us hope for the future; help us to step out this week and share this hope with other people.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said….