The Preacher Says....  
  As It Was in the Days of Noah  

Matthew 24. 38, 39

For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be.

The triumphant conclusion of Handel’s Messiah reads:

The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever.

The Revised Standard Version reads:

The kingdom (singular) of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord. . .

In the New English Bible, the word there is sovereignty.

The kingdom of this world is become the sovereignty of our Lord. . . .

So we have two thoughts that come to mind as we read these variant readings of that verse. The RSV would lead you to believe that there is a kingdom, a kingdom of this world, a predominant kingdom that’s going to become the kingdom of our Lord . It also makes sense to say that irrespective of how many kingdoms there are the sovereignty of the world is going to become the sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ. Still I think the Bible teaches we aren’t talking about the kingdoms of this world, we’re talking about a kingdom—the kingdom of men-- the predominant kingdom of men that’s going to be in existence at the time of Christ’s return. The Bible is clear that this is not going to be a wonderful kingdom that man has perfected and developed and turns over to the Lord when he returns. But In the 2nd chapter of Daniel, the prophet speaks of a succession of world kingdoms that are ultimately going to be destroyed, illustrated in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream interpreted by Daniel. This image’s head—the first kingdom-- was of fine gold standing for the kingdom of Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar , the head.

Next the kingdom of silver , which we know to be the Medo Persian successor to Babylonia with it’s two aspects, third-- belly and thighs of brass, the Greek kingdom at the time of Alexander, and thereafter divided into two principal kingdoms: the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucid kings in Syria. This third kingdom is followed by this strange kingdom described in the 40th verse: Legs of iron and toes of the feet part of iron, and part of clay. Then we have the explanation of that image by Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, starting at the 36th verse: this is the dream and we will tell its interpretation before thee, King Nebuchadnezzar. Thou, O King, art a king of kings, and the God of heaven has given thee a kingdom, power, and strength and glory, and wherever the children of men dwell,the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heavens hath He given unto thine hand. This is Nebuchadnezzar he’s talking to—and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold, says the 38th verse. The 39th verse goes on to describe the next kingdom, the kingdom of silver, which we know to be the chest and arms of silver to be the Medo Persian successor to Babylonia with its two aspects, third, the belly and thighs of brass, the Greek kingdom which we understand is apprehended as being the Greek kingdom during the time of Alexander, but thereafter, when the Greek kingdom was divided into two principal kingdoms : the kingdom of the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucid kings in Syria. This third kingdom followed by this strange kingdom described in the 40th verse: shall be strong as iron forasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things, and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break it in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou saw the feet and toes, part of potter’s clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou saw the iron mixed with miry clay, And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken.

We understand that this is a description of the Roman Empire which was to come into power long after Daniel’s time. Indeed the Roman Empire was different from all the preceding world kingdoms in that it was ultimately divided into two kingdoms –two empires really--during the time of Constantine, who had moved the capitol of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium. Thus the Byzantine empire and the Roman empire, although called by those in Byzantium and in Rome The Roman Empire’. And although those two empires were initially pagan, they ultimately became Christian nations and the two aspects are represented not only as temporal powers but also as religious powers. The Holy Roman Church was the capitol in Rome, and the Eastern Orthodox Church with it’s capitol in Byzantium, which became as you know Constantinople, named after Constantine moved there, and ultimately Istanbul, when the Turks took over that part of the world. And ultimately we know the Roman Empire in its two aspects disintegrated and yet somehow there was an integration that kept these various aspects together for a thousand years. In the case of the Roman empire, the Holy Roman Empire, a religious and civil order of things that carried on for centuries, and in the case of the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose rulers were appointed by the emperors of the Byzantine Empire.

In Daniel 2. 44 we read this:

In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed–talking about the toe phase-- the kingdom shall not be left to other people but shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it broke in pieces the iron–

now notice that it did not break in pieces only the iron and clay, but it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold.

The great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain and the interpretation sure.

And so we have the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, symbolic of the fact that God will intervene in the affairs of man, and that He will destroy this kingdom (singular) of men, and we believe that in some sort of reconstitution of this image, if you will; that is to say this kingdom will comprise the territories encompassed in all the aspects of the image, the gold, the silver, the brass, the iron , and the iron and clay, because when the stone strikes the image on its feet, what happens? Not just iron and clay crumbles, but brass, silver and gold crumble also. Indicating there’s some residue, some continuum, if you will, or some reconstitution of a world kingdom. This thought is not unique to the 2nd chapter of Daniel, but recurs in a number of places, and the one I want to call to your attention today is in the 7th chapter of Daniel where we have the image described with a different metaphor. Here’s the dream that Daniel had—3rd verse, 7th chapter:

And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings; I beheld til the wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon its feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given unto it.

The image of Nebuchadnezzar was a lion. If you look at Keller’s The Bible as History , or any of the books that have unearthed archcheological evidence of the Babylonian Empire, you’ll find the lion used as an image to describe the Babylonian Empire. There’s a lot of imagery and symbolism in this 4th verse, and we’ll not pause to consider its implications with respect to Nebuchadnezzar, but go on to the 2nd beast, there described not as breast and arms of silver but here described as a bear, something like a bear–and it raised itself up on one side. The Medo Persian Empire was ultimately predominated by the Persian aspect of that liason between those two kings, so that it became known not as the Medo Persian Empire, but as the Persian Empire, And it had three divisions, symbolized by the rest of that verse which says that this bear had three ribs in the mouth of it between its teeth. You will recall that in the 6th chapter of Daniel where the three divisions of the Persian Empire were described, Daniel was chosen by the king to be President of one of those three divisions. If you have any difficulty–if you think this is fanciful–you can look at the 8th chapter of Daniel and find those kingdoms actually named. You’ll see the Medo Persian kingdom named by name, and the Greek kingdom named as the Greek kingdom. In the 6th verse we read, and the third beast was:

like a leopard, which had on the back four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given unto it.

We all know that Alexander died sorrowing because there were no more dominions to conquer, and also sorrowing because he had no heir. There was dissension as you might imagine at his death and the Greek kingdom was divided into four kingdoms—divided up among his four generals—ultimately two of those kingdoms predominated as I said earlier, the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid kingdoms. But profane history will attest to the fact that the Greek Empire fragmented into four kingdoms upon the death of Alexander.

Following this Greek kingdom in its various manifestations, again we have a description of the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay of the 2nd chapter described differently in the 7th chapter as:

A fourth beast, dreadful and terrible , and strong exceedingly, it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped the residue with its feet, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. ( Ten toes, ten horns.) I considered the horns and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: in this horn were the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Skip to the 11th verse:

I beheld then because of the great words which the horn spoke; I beheld even til the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.

Now Daniel goes on in that chapter , to give the interpretation of his dream. Starting in the 23rd verse, after describing the first 3 kingdoms, he then homes in on the Roman Empire, or this 4th beast having ten horns, and says this:

The fourth beast shall be the 4th kingdom on earth which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are the ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

And he shall speak great words against the most high, and shall wear out the saints of the most high, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given unto his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

All of us know what these time periods are: time is a year, times is two years , and the dividing of time is a half a year, so time-360, 720, 180 equals 1260. Twelve hundred sixty days, so called in Daniel 12, is 1260 years, using the day-for-a-year-principle (Num. 14. 34; Ezek. 4. 6). So we don’t have any dispute among biblical scholars or anybody else for that matter, that time, times and a half is 1260 years. Anyhow, judgment sits on this king and his kingdom is destroyed . In the 27th verse we see that the kingdom shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and all dominions shall serve and obey him. So here’s a different manifestation and a little more detail in the 7th chapter that we get in the 2nd chapter. But still the 7th chapter doesn’t give one the feeling that all of these kingdoms are going to be congregated so to speak in one great everlasting kingdom, but simply a succession of four different empires.

In the 13th chapter of Revelation we see a description here of one beast. Just one. But the similarity between the image in the 2nd chapter and the 4 beasts in the 7th chapter are unmistakable. And you’ll see what I mean. John saw–he was standing on the seashore–and he saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having 7 heads and 10 horns–well, we just read about this beast over in the 7th chapter of Daniel that had 10 horns, and 3 horns were plucked up, 7 and 10 are all mixed up in here together without bothering to figure out precisely what it means–and upon his head the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard. Back in the 6th chapter of Daniel the leopard stood for the Greek Empire, his feet were like the feet of a bear. Back in the 7th chapter of Daniel we see the bear, symbolically used there, standing for the Medo Persian Empire, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion—lion was the Babylonian Empire in the 7th chapter of Daniel. We go on to read in the 13th chapter of Revelation , verses 5 through 8 as follows: And there was given to –we’ve got this one beast–we’ve got just one beast, and he’s got 10 horns and there are manifestations of him that are like a leopard, and like a bear, and like a lion, but all balled up in one beast. And of this beast, the 5th verse says:

There was given unto him a mouth, speaking great things, and blasphemies, and power was given unto him to continue 40 and 2 months,

42 times 30 is 1260, isn’t it? So there’s that 1260 again , over here in Revelation, confirming the same prophecy in the 7th chapter of Daniel.

And the beast opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues and nations.

We just read in the 7th chapter of Daniel about that 4th beast. It says, he’ll speak great words against the most high and shall wear out the saints of the most high, and think to change times and laws, and they shall be given unto his hand until time, times and the dividing of times. No mistake, then, we’re talking about the same thing. We’re talking about this power. Now clearly, in the 13th chapter of Revelation one great world power is the religious persecutor .

If you turn to the 17th chapter of Revelation, you’ll find this same beast described as he was described as the ‘beast of the sea’ in the 13th chapter, having a rider, r-i-d-e-r, rider. 17th chapter, 3rd verse John was carried away in the wilderness and saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast , full of names of blasphemy, having 7 heads and 10 horns. There’s that beast again, only this time it’s got a woman sitting on top of it.

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colors, and decked with gold and and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, Mystery, Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and when I saw her, I wondered with great wonder.

Skipping to the 8th verse,

The beast that thou sawest–this is the explanation to John now– was, and is not, and shall ascend out of a bottomless pit, and go into perdition; and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

The New English Bible says, this beast that was once alive is alive no longer and still has yet to appear. So here we have, if you will, the Roman empire in its various manifestations: first civil, then pagan, then religious, then disappearing, then yet to appear in the form described in the 13th chapter of Revelation . And in the 17th chapter of Revelation , in alliance with the harlot. The harlot is the symbol, all through the Bible, of infidelity-- infidelity to God. The whole book of Hosea, if you read it, speaks of Israel as playing the harlot, not following the commandments and obeying Yahweh.

Well, let me read to you now just a couple of paragraphs from an article I read recently called The Sign of the Times : “There are significant movements afoot in Europe, Western Europe, specifically the European Economic Community, on its way to complete integration is adjusting to the idea of a truly Common Market in 1992. And the possibility of a single currency and banking system. Eastern Europe and even Russia itself is going through quite cataclysmic changes as democracy in measure is allowed to supplement—and even replace—Marxist principles.” I’ll skip down. “Now we observe not merely a thawing of diplomatic relations, but a drive for actual cooperation between eastern and western Europe. A year ago trade regulations eased with a formal recognition of the EEC by Moscow, and the signing of an accord between the EEC and the Compton, Eastern Europe’s Common Market.

“Of similar importance, though it’s extent should not be exaggerated, is the lifting of bans on religious activities in some quarters, but what cannot be ignored is the special relationship that is being cultivated between the Kremlin and the Vatican. In such trends lie the seeds of a new Europe quite unlike its predecessors. Gorbachov has not yet gone so far as to lend support to a re-unification of West and East Germany, but he is keenly interested in stepping up trading contact between West Germany and the Soviet Union. Links with France are also developing. Gorbachov is fond of speaking of a common European home, which would embrace the whole of Europe from the Urals to the Atlantic. He may well be on his way to realizing this aim which in the long term may be a more successful way of achieving Soviet ambitions.”

There is much in current trends to excite the watcher of prophetic fulfillment. The possible unification of a greater Europe, aided and abetted by the Pope would correspond to long held expectations. And where will Britain, USA and NATO stand? Though one cannot be dogmatic about the idea of the UK leading the Common Market–you know, they are unwilling partners, particularly unwilling to have a central bank and a common currency, it appears possible, and perhaps probable, that England will disassociate itself from the European alliance, but one cannot be dogmatic about the idea of the UK leading the Common Market although quite possible. And if USA’s involvement in Europe is also diminished –which we see happening now–then a cleavage could readily develop between Europe and the maritime west . The stage is being set in the middle east, in Europe and indeed worldwide for the Lord’s return.