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A dream that foretold the history of the world.What does the future hold?
Have you ever longed to turn the pages of time and peer into what lies ahead? Have the current conditions of this world ever made you wonder how this world began and how it will all end in the future? Well fortunately, you don’t have to stumble through life aimlessly. In the Bible, God has given the most remarkable prophecies that provide you with real answers, shedding light on the meaning of our lives and the conditions of this world right before the end. The prophecies of the Bible pull back the curtain from the spiritual world, revealing an intense, invisible battle between God and Satan centered on the issue: who will you worship?
The Great Controversy
God’s enemy, called Satan in the Bible, is bent on not just dominating this planet, but wants to reign in your heart, and he’s willing to stoop to the lowest depths to bring you under his control. A master deceiver, he weaves his victims in his web of lies, shrouding them in spiritual darkness and blinding people from God’s truth. But just what was it that sparked this warfare between good and evil in the first place? Is God the originator of evil? Did God originally create an evil being? No, not at all. In fact, Satan was originally created perfect by God, without sin. The Bible traces the seeds of strife that led to Satan’s downfall in the book of Isaiah. Although he was originally created perfect and good, Satan began to mysteriously crave the very position of God.12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:12-14 NKJV).Satan began his campaign to take God’s place by spreading false rumors about God to the other angels. With a third of the angelic beings taking sides with Satan, God had no choice but to acknowledge their decision, and cast them out of heaven to a tiny planet called “Earth” (Luke 10:18).But a change of location didn’t result in a change of plans. Satan continued in bringing misery to God’s otherwise happy creatures. God originally gave Adam and Eve dominion over the entire planet (Genesis 1:28). And their dominion was conditional upon obedience. He gave Adam and Eve a picture-perfect home called the Garden of Eden and told them that they were free to enjoy the fruit of any tree in the Garden, but there was one tree that was off limits; the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Like the angels, God has given humanity a costly gift: the gift of choice. Although God has unlimited power, one thing God refuses to violate is our freedom. Since God is love, and love is the theme of His government, God wisely saw that Adam and Eve needed to be able to choose whether they would be loyal or rebel against His rule. Why? Because love cannot exist by force; it must be given options to choose. Even though God warned Adam and Eve, saying, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NKJV).Satan flattered Eve into thinking that God did not really mean what He said and that, instead of death, she would rise to the status of a God-like being. Like the fallen angels, she believed Satan’s lies, and bit into the very fruit that brought misery into this planet. Adam followed along and the rebellion of humanity was complete. With Adam and Eve yielding to Satan’s temptation, they handed over their God-given dominion to the enemy, and Satan became the “ruler of the world” (John 12:31). Furthermore, their sinful disobedience reacted with their own nature. Now, because of Adam and Eve, the rest of humanity has become poisoned with a fallen nature that makes us naturally selfish, self-centered, and resistant to God’s authority. If it were not for God’s intervention, we would all choose to remain in the state of selfishness and sin, with no desire to serve God. But thankfully, there’s good news; God has not left humanity without hope!
God’s Plan to Save
In Genesis 3:15, God provided humanity a way out. He declared:“. . . I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15 NKJV).God promised to instill a hatred for sin in the hearts of all his followers, a principle that would enable them to resist evil. God promised that the “seed of the woman”, which refers to Jesus, would come and crush Satan and win back the dominion of the earth. But as you would expect, Satan is bent on resisting God’s plan to rescue the world from sin and misery. God encourages His people, and reveals that although the boastful, tyrannical kingdoms rise to power on the earth, these kingdoms are, at best, transitory and will never last forever. One day, God’s own kingdom will be established on this earth and the dominion will be taken away from Satan completely. Perhaps nowhere else is this earthly saga seen as clearly as in the prophecy of Daniel 2. Here, God provides an inside view into a dream that stunned a proud Babylonian King. Understanding this prophecy is important because it lays the foundation for unlocking the meaning of more complex prophecies found in Daniel and Revelation.
The Puzzling Dream
About 600 years before Christ came to this earth, King Nebuchadnezzar lay on his royal bed in his Babylonian palace. During his sleeping hours, a dream, so dramatic that it robbed him of his sleep, left him deeply troubled. Disturbed and anxious, the king summoned the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans to the royal palace to explain to him the meaning of his dream, but here was one catch to his request: he said“. . . tell me the dream and its interpretation” (Daniel 2:6 NKJV). Yes, that’s right, King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t just want his magicians and “wise” men to simply take their guess at the interpretation of the dream, he wanted them to tell him what he dreamt of! Awestricken, the Babylonian enchanters realized that they were at their wits’ end, and that the king’s request was beyond their ability. The Chaldeans protested, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter” (Daniel 2:10). And they were right. No man could reveal what the King dreamt, but the God of heaven was able to reveal the dream and accurately interpret it. The false, counterfeit spiritualism that King Nebuchadnezzar trusted in was exposed as a failure, and King Nebuchadnezzar, in his anger, was ready to kill the wise men for their inability to reveal and interpret his dream.
Daniel: Prophet of God
But there was another of the King’s wise men in the courts of Babylon who did not share in the superstitious beliefs of his Babylonian counterparts. Daniel, a prophet of God, prayed to the true God of heaven. When Daniel heard that the King was planning to kill the wise men for failure to reveal and interpret the dream, Daniel prayed to the true God, and God faithfully answered Daniel. Just as the “scholars” and intellectuals of Nebuchadnezzar’s day were powerless to forecast the future, so are the “experts” of our day in their inability to pierce through the “fog” of what lies ahead. The Bible is our only reliable guide!
Daniel Interprets the Dream
Daniel returns to King Nebuchadnezzar with the positive news, and declares “. . . no wise man, no astrologer, no magician could reveal the dream”. (Daniel 2:27). “. . . but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28). Daniel reveals that the King had a dream of an image made up of various metals and clay. This image, Daniel explains, outlines the destiny of the world from Daniel’s time even to the end of the world!Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar, “This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces" (Daniel 2:32-34 NKJV).
Babylon: Head of Gold
Daniel goes on to explain that the head of gold represented Babylon or King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. His kingdom ruled the world from 605 BC to 539 BC and was one the most astounding and wealthiest empires in the world. His Kingdom was lavishly adorned with gold. In just one temple alone, Nebuchadnezzar used 18 tons (16,000 kg) of gold.As Daniel proceeds to reveal the next kingdom symbolized by the next metal, King Nebuchadnezzar gets the message: his kingdom will not be forever! No kingdom of human making will ever be forever.
Media and Persia: Chest and Arms of Silver
The next kingdom, which is symbolized by the “chest and arms of silver” was foretold by God to be the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. Bible history chronicles exactly how it happened (Daniel 2:32). In Daniel chapter 5, King Belshazzar arrogantly hosts a lavish feast with a thousand of his lords in attendance. It was a scene filled with the blaring of sensual music, seductive immorality, and drunkenness. But in the very midst of the party, God provided an unwelcome surprise. The guests were terrified as they saw God ’s judgement written with a bloodless hand against the wall:Mene “God has numbered your kingdom and finished it.” Teakel “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Paires “Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” As God predicted, Cyrus– the general of the armies of the combined countries of Media and Persia– overthrew the proud kingdom of Babylon.
Greece: Belly and Thighs of Bronze
Next, in Daniel 2:39, Daniel prophesied that a third kingdom of bronze would rule the earth.“But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth” (Daniel 2:39 NKJV).Alexander the Great led his armies with their bronze armor. The Acropolis Museum today in Athens, Greece testifies to the fitting representation of bronze for the Empire of Greece. There, the army of the ancient soldiers are on display. Ancient Greece was able to conquer the then-known world with lightning speed. At age 32, Alexander the Great accomplished what most could not in an entire lifetime. But would Greece rule forever? No. Daniel then points to another world empire.
Rome: Legs of Iron
In Daniel 2:40 (NKJV), the prophet announces “And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.”The great English historian Edward Gibbon, though not a Christian or Bible-believer himself, wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire “The images of gold, silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome.”Rome dominated the world from 168 B.C. to 476 A.D. It was during Roman supremacy that baby Jesus was born. During Jesus’ young age, Joseph and Mary fled from the oppressive Roman Empire into Egypt. Jesus was tried by a Roman governor and crucified by Roman soldiers. For more than 500 years, Rome appeared to be invincible as one of the largest empires in the world. But did Rome last forever? The Bible continues, and predicts an astonishing turn of affairs:
Division of the Roman Empire
“Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided . . ." (Daniel 2:41).The Bible did not predict a fifth ruling empire which would rise after Rome. It predicted a divided power would come next. Another single world empire would not follow Rome. The feet of iron and clay represent the divisions of the Roman empire, which is modern-day Europe. Europe was divided like the prophecy described it would be.
Failed Attempts at Unity
Daniel 2:43 declares, “As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.”Throughout history the kings of Europe attempted through inter-marriage to unite the empire. One famous example of this was when Napoleon divorced his wife Josephine and married Louise of Austria in order to secure their country’s relations and further his goal to unite all of Europe. As prophecy predicted, he utterly failed.Besides intermarriage there was a second way political leaders attempted to unite Europe. They attempted to accomplish their goals through military conflict and war. Charles V, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Hitler all tried to unite Europe, but they all failed. Europe will never return to the state it was in during the period of the Roman Empire, just as the Bible says.The Bible predicts in the Book of Revelation a final last attempt to unite Europe, this time under a religious and political union.
Temporary Global Unity
Revelation 17:12-14 (NKJV)“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”For a short period of time the nations of Europe and the rest of the world will enter into a religious, political confederation just before the coming of Jesus.But notice how the Bible used the phrase “one hour” to describe its temporary unity. The nations of the world will be temporarily unified and will persecute God’s people. History has followed the Word of God like a blueprint, and we can believe it will continue to do so in the future, but the persecution won’t last forever. Daniel predicts that during this time another kingdom would come on the scene.
In Daniel 2:34, the prophet says, “You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.”And in Daniel 2:44, he says, speaking of this final Kingdom, “. . . the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . .”That rock that was cut out without human hands represents the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ! King Jesus will return a second time and establish a Kingdom that will truly last forever. He will destroy and put an end to the kingdoms of this world. Jesus will usher in a kingdom that has love, peace, and righteousness as its basis. There will be no more pain, no more crying, no more suffering. This will be the only Kingdom that will last forever.
Which Kingdom will you put your trust in?
Jesus reaches out to you. He invites you to ask Him into your heart. Choose to make the commitment to seriously discover what God and His kingdom are all about.
Think of this as a master class in Bible study and Bible prophecy. Whether you’ve never before cracked open a Bible, or have been studying it all your life, you’ll gain new insights from this series!
By looking at Revelation and Daniel, as well as other books of the Bible, you’ll find that the Bible itself clearly unlocks the mysteries of Bible prophecies. This will transform what may feel like a confusing book into something clear and understandable. In fact, after this course, Revelation may become one of your favorite books of the Bible!
Above all, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Jesus’ love for you, and emerge with an even closer relationship with Him.