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  Kingdoms of this World – A Study  

DANIEL 2. 37 – 48

"And at that time", the time when the stone cut out of the mountain without hands strikes the image on its feet, that we read about in the 2nd chapter,

" shall Michael stand up, the great Prince, whose standard is for the children of Thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. . . But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Dan 12. 1 - 4)

And oh, how knowledge has been increased since the time of Daniel. Daniel simply couldn’t imagine–it would be beyond his wildest dream–to know what the world would ultimately become like. Human knowledge has become so great that it’s all been specialized and sub-specialized. And if you’re like me, you hardly feel adequate to discuss any subject without turning to some expert on some sub specialty of human knowledge. In the physical and chemical sciences we read daily about technology which most of us don’t understand involving lasers, and star wars, and cloning and bio technology and gene splicing; this all in the area of the physical sciences, the natural sciences. And then there’s this whole new field grown up of social sciences which–in my cynicism I’ve come to regard as pseudo sciences. The social sciences are an effort to apply scientific principles to the quicksand of human existence, sometimes with some success and other times with less success. I was watching television the other night and they had on a stress management consultant. I saw another clinical psychologist who specialized in what people can expect to happen when their fantasies become reality. And so it goes.

And then there are the scientists that cross the line between the natural sciences and the social sciences; sciences like anthropology and paleontology. And now, geneticists. This week as I was preparing this talk, the new Newsweek came out. The lead article–the picture is on the front page of an artist’s rendition of Adam and Eve. And the title of the article is The search for Adam and Eve. Of course, most of us feel very inadequate to deal with evolutionists, paleontologists and anthropologists, who bring to the subject of mans’ origin a great deal of learning which we don’t possess, I think we’ll take some heart from what this article talks about-- of Professor Leakey, an anthropologist and paleontologist who spent his life in Africa finding fossil remains of humans, or sub humans, or near humans; the geneticists now have come along and discredited Leaky’s findings. They have in fact concluded, and interestingly enough, although the area is still controversial, that anthropologists and paleontologists are reluctantly going along with the idea that all human beings descended from one mother, whom they call Eve, and that she didn’t exist 3 million years ago, or 4 million years ago, but that she existed somewhere between 180,000 and 250,000 years ago. The geneticists since Crick and Watson unraveled the mystery of the human gene by discovering DNA–and have made it possible to analyze the human cell , genes within the human cell, in ways they haven’t been able to do that in the past, and by examining part of the cell called the mitochondria, where there are fewer genes than there are in the nucleus of the cell, they can show that every single human being on earth descended from one woman. Some people think that one woman was a native of Africa, others a native of Asia, or in between the two, Asia Minor–interestingly enough. It’s important to keep in mind that scientists–true scientists–are seekers after truth, they are seeking. Most of the time they continue to seek. And their findings often are tentative. Very often the journalists are the ones who come up with the conclusions that people take for gospel. But with scientists disagreeing with one another constantly, and changing their conclusions, knowledge for most of us-- that for most of us would be increased according to Daniel-- has become confusion.

And knowledge about the Bible falls in that same category. The Bible has been subject over the past 150 years to the onslaughts of the experts in archeology, ancient languages, the higher critics, persons who are not religious, but experts in linguistics and in languages, make it very difficult for believers to hold onto their faith. What one can do, however, is to again observe the differences among them. There are many views and there are many diverse views. We have come to a time, however, because of this discrediting of the Bible, that Bible knowledge is not as widespread as it used to be.

Well, in this age of great knowledge and confusion about what it means, and particularly great scientific knowledge, it’s good, I think, to hark to the words of Paul to Timothy, He says, "Oh, Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust avoiding profane and vain babbling, and oppositions of science falsely so-called, which some–professing–have erred concerning the faith. It’s interesting, that word science there, it’s actually from the Greek word gnosis, translated in most places, in fact, every other place I’m aware of as knowledge in the Bible. So, we are to avoid vain and profane babbling in opposition of science falsely so-called. How do we do this? Jesus said, "Search the scriptures", he says, " for in them ye think ye have eternal life and they (that is, the scriptures) are they which testify of me." But you can search, and search, and search if you want to, but if the foundation underneath the Bible s cut out from under it how do you have any confidence in your searching? says this–after reciting the fact that Jesus Christ is come among us, and has given proof of the Old Testament Peter says,

"We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy spirit." (2Pet 1. 19 - 21)

So we can shore up our faith by letting the sure word of prophecy be a light that shines in a dark place. And that’s what I want to do for a few minutes this morning.

The prophecies we most often turn to are those having to do with the Jewish nation. What happened to them, what is happening to them, what is going to happen to them. This morning I thought we might talk just a little bit about what’s going to happen to the Kingdom of Men–that is to say the natural dispensation of which we’re a part. What is its future, and how is it to become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

In the 2nd chapter of Daniel, if you look back there again you will recall that Nebuchadnezzer had a dream–he wouldn’t tell the wise men what it was, he wanted to prove that the wise men really were wise men, and wanted for them to tell him not only the interpretation of the dream, but tell him the dream. And if they weren’t able to do that, the penalty was death. Daniel came to the rescue not only to himself but to all the wise men of Babylon, by first telling Nebuchadnezzar the dream he had and then telling him the meaning of it. What Nebuchadnezzar saw was this image, with a gold head, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay . And a stone is cut out of a mountain without hands, it says, and strikes the image on the feet. And the spoken image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

And Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that what this means is this: this image is an image of world kingdoms, and you are the first of those world kingdoms. You are the head of gold. 38th verse: "Thou art this head of gold". And indeed, the kingdom of Babylon in 600 BC was the ruler of the civilized world in its day. He goes on to say, however, that your rule is not going to last forever. After you, shall a kingdom rise inferior to thee, which would be the kingdom of silver with breast and arms of silver, and another kingdom made of bronze, and a fourth kingdom which is made of iron, which is different, diverse from the others. The second kingdom that came along, (you’ll just have to take it on faith for a moment; we’ll prove it), was the Medo Persian empire. Was there ever anything called the Medo Persian empire? Indeed there was. The Medo Persian empire had its seat right next to Babylon. Babylon was now where modern day Iraq is, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are. The Medes and Persians occupied roughly what is now known as Iran, the old Persian empire. The Medes occupied the northern part, the Persians occupied the southern part . They formed an alliance and overthrew the Babylonian kingdom during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson whose name was Belshazzar. The fact that the kingdom was dual in nature, that is it consisted of the Medes and the Persians, is signified by the fact that not only are we talking about a breast of silver, but arms of silver: the successive kingdom had two aspects, if you will. The first leader was Darius, the Mede, who was succeeded by Cyrus, the Persian, and although the Persians ultimately became preeminent in the kingdom, we now think of the Medo Persian empire as the Persian empire which in its time ruled over all the civilized world.

This rulership, however, was terminated by a third kingdom whose belly and thighs were of brass. Again, we’ve got a duality involved. What kingdom succeeded the kingdom of the Medes and Persians? The kingdom was the Greek kingdom. And why was it manifested not only in belly, but also in thighs, indicating a duality? You will recall that during the time of the Maccabean leaders of the Jews, sometime later on, the Greek empire , while initially divided into four parts, ultimately wound up with two very strong parts: the Ptolemaic kingdom, situated in Egypt and the Seleucid Kingdom, situated in Syria and north of Syria. The battles between those two emanations out of the Greek empire generally took place in the Holy Land. Back and forth these armies fought and the Jews spent a lot of time saving themselves from these two enemies, or finding themselves in the middle of battles between these two enemies.

Manifestly, after the Greek empire, the Roman empire came along, and it, too, had two divisions symbolized by the legs of iron, eastern and western Rome, Rome being the capitol of western Rome; eastern Rome’s capitol in those days was called Byzantium–the city was called Byzantium, but was changed to Constantinople; we know it today as Istanbul. We know also that the Roman empire didn’t last forever, and the image here indicates it became a divided kingdom; its toes were part of iron and part of clay and there were ten of them. Doesn’t say there were ten of them here, but I think we can conclude that there were probably ten toes. And writers have written and pointed out the fact that at least in the views of some that want to find it so, and perhaps it’s true, that upon the fall of the Roman empire the area which Rome ruled fell into ten kingdoms. But those kingdoms, although they were separate kingdoms, still had a league–at least a confederation–sometimes loose, sometimes strong–the Roman empire became the Holy Roman Empire, for example, in the time of Charlemagne (800 AD). And the nations of Europe have sort of more or less hung together all through the ages since then. It’s true there have been battles among them, but it’s also true they were tied together by a common religion and for many years, by a common leader, spiritual and physical, since Rome was not only the leader of the Holy Roman Empire spiritually, but in its heydey commanded an army. Indeed, the church of Rome kept an army until 1870, so it’s not so long ago that they lost that power. Even today we see the nations of Europe in a confederation: European Economic Community, NATO nations.

Now why am I continuing to make this point? Well, the point is, look at the 34th and 35th verses of the 2nd chapter of Daniel. The stone hits the image on its feet as though the image were reconstituted, if you will, it still contains all the elements that it always had. 35th verse–then were the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold broken to pieces together and become like the chaff of summer threshing floors. In other words, all these pieces that represented predecessor kingdoms were part of the image and were destroyed. What I’m suggesting to you, as we’ll see later, these prophecies indicate that the kingdoms of men , at the time the kingdoms of men are destroyed, contain all the elements of Nebuchadnezzars image from the beginning to the end. They cover the same territory and will represent, if you will, one kingdom, although partly strong and partly broken.

Look now –time is fleeting–let me just point out that this prophecy in the 2nd chapter of Daniel is repeated in the 7th chapter of Daniel. Look there and you’ll see that the four great kingdoms are described differently. Here the division is not the one that Nebuchadnezzar has, it’s the division that Daniel has and what he sees (3th verse), four great beasts come up from the sea, diverse one from another, the first was like a lion, had eagle wings–(5th verse), behold another beast, a second, like unto a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between its teeth, and they said to it, arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld a leopard that had four wings, and after that (7th verse) I beheld a fourth beast , dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped the residue with its feet, it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. So you can see the parallel between the 7th chapter of Daniel and the 2nd chapter of Daniel. We’ve got without spending time–just take my word for it–the lion with eagle’s wings, and the eagle’s wings plucked were first Assyria and then Babylon after the wings were plucked. The head of gold with a man’s heart given to it, (which is something we could talk about if we had more time, You will recall Nebuchadnezzar had a conversion.) The second beast was like a bear , you’ll notice that it raised itself up on one side, pointing out as we’ll see later in the 8th chapter of Daniel that the Persians ultimately gained ascendence over the Medes. This peculiar animal had three ribs in the mouth of it between its teeth, and they said thus unto it, arise, devour much flesh. Look back just a moment at the 6th chapter of Daniel. Darius, the Mede was the first king of the Medo Persian empire, and that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about this bear, it pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 princes who should be over the whole kingdom and over these three presidents of whom Daniel was first.

The sixth verse describes in lieu of the belly and thighs of brass, we have a leopard that’s got four wings of a fowl. This fourfold image of the Grecian empire: you recall Alexander was the great king of Greece; he died at 33 mourning because he had no more worlds to conquer, and he also had no heir. It is verifiable in profane history that the Greek empire divided up into four different kingdoms. Those kingdoms were not led by his heirs, because there were none, but by four feuding generals of Alexander. The fourth beast then, you see, corresponds to the legs and feet of iron and toes of iron and clay and even some of the symbolism is the same. This fourth beast was terribly strong, it devoured and broke in pieces just like the iron broke in pieces and consumed in the image (in the 2nd chapter) and stamped the residue with its feet and it was diverse from all the beasts that was before, and it had ten horns. Now we go on–we don’t have time to talk about the additional information we find about the kingdom of men which the 7th chapter illustrates.. It tells us more about those ten horns–what happened to them. But what’s going to happen to those beasts? The same thing that happens in the 2nd chapter. The beasts were destroyed in the 11th and 12th verses of the 7th chapter; 13th verse, the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him, and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is a lasting dominion that shall not pass away. Same conclusion to the kingdoms of men.

8th chapter of Daniel, now you’ll believe me because you’ll find that words, these names I’ve been giving to kingdoms I didn’t make up, because two of the kingdoms are named in the 8th chapter of Daniel. Here Daniel has another vision. He sees a ram with two horns and again one horn was bigger than the other horn indicating the ascendency of the Persians over the Medes, and a goat, a rough goat which prevails over the ram with two horns. Look quickly at verses 20and 21: "The ram which thou saw having two horns , these are the kings of Media and Persia. They are the names written by Daniel, 50 years perhaps before this happened, and a couple of hundred years before verse 21; and the rough goat is the king of Grecia, and that great horn that is between his eyes is the first king, Alexander. Now that being broken , whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation," so there’s the fourfold division again of the Greek empire. Then there comes another–"In the latter time of their kingdom, another king comes; that’s another description of the Roman empire, and that last empire, it says (25th verse) he shall also stand up against the prince of princes , but he shall be broken without hands. I read that to you to get the phrase ‘without hands’ in your mind. You recall the stone that was cut out of the mountain was cut out without hands. Here we have again Rome, if you will, destroyed not by man, but by a supernatural power.

And finally, I’m taxing your patience I know, but if you’ll just turn to the 13th chapter of Revelation you’ll see the great relationship between these two works of prophecy. In the 13th chapter of Revelation, John had a vision, and it was very much like the second vision we just described, only here we have proof that at the time of the end, when the stone is cut out of the mountain without hands and strikes the image on its feet, that we’re talking about one reconstituted kingdom of men with worldwide implications.

"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns and upon his head ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard".

You recall the leopard was Greece in the 7th chapter of Daniel, "and his feet were as the feet of a bear", the bear you recall was the Medo Persian kingdom in the 7th chapter, " and his mouth like the mouth of a lion", and that was Babylon in the 7th chapter. And now we have much more detail in the 13th chapter of Revelation , than we had in any of the previous three about the same piece, but interestingly enough we’re not talking about four beasts here; we’re talking about one beast, having 10 horns, like the ten toes, like the divided Roman empire, consisting of all the elements of the other kingdoms: Babylon, Greece, Medes and Persians, indicating its worldwide power. This beast also is destroyed, meets the same fate as the beast in the earlier chapters in Daniel, but you have to go all the way over to the 19th chapter to find out about its destruction.

Interestingly enough, another proof of this reconstitution of this great worldly power is found in the 17th chapter of Revelation, speaking I think, about the same beast. It says–17th chapter, verse 3, the beast is described there in the third verse having a-- scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns–see, there’s that ten again–verse 8, the beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition. Last part of that verse, they beheld the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. The Roman empire came, it disappeared, and yet it is. The 11th verse–"And the ten horns which thou saw are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power with the kings one hour with the beast." Well, at the risk of being on the lunatic fringe of Bible students, one could say that were we living at the time of the end and if we do in fact have a nuclear freeze, so that western Europe is bereft of its nuclear armament, and the powers of the west are weakened and the Russian conventional forces chose to move into western Europe, they might very well do so because the nuclear deterrent is no longer there in the hands of the Europeans. Anyhow, that’s rank speculation, I understand, I don’t want anybody to say that I think that its absolutely true, but I say that’s those are the kinds of thoughts that make Bible prophecy interesting.

At the end of Revelation, it’s interesting, that Revelation ends the same way that Daniel does. Revelation takes several chapters to end in, whereas Daniel’s conclusions are all in the 12th chapter. But in the 20th chapter of Revelation, verses 12 through 14, again this beast is destroyed in the 10th verse and the 12th verse says,

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; And the books were opened; and another book was opened Which is the book of life; and the dead which were judged Out of these things which were written in the books According to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; And death and the grave delivered up the dead Which were in them and they were judged Every man according to their works." You will recall the Book of Daniel concludes, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth Shall awake, some to everlasting life and Some to shame and everlasting contempt"

So the conclusion of both scenes, in Daniel and Revelation, is the resurrection and the judgment. And this stone, cut out of the mountain without hands, becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth, is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, to the kingdoms of men. But I think we should conclude by seeing what kind of stone it is to us in the 2nd chapter of 1 Peter: Jesus came as a living stone–4th verse–

"disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ; Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, Elect, precious; and he that believeth on him Shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore who believe he is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, The stone which the builders disallowed The same is made head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense even to them which stumble at the word Being disobedient: whereunto also They were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, An holy nation, a peculiar people; That ye should show forth the praises of him Who hath called you out of darkness Into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, But are now the people of God: Which had not obtained mercy But now have obtained mercy.

May it please God to make us a part of that chosen generation.