If you could pick one spot in all the world to go and sit for a few minutes, where would you go? I would not have to give it a second thought. For me it would be the summit of the Mount of Olives. When one sits there atop the Mount of Olives and looks over the Kidron Valley, he sees one of the most beautiful panoramas in all the world. It was from that spot that the Psalmist said that Jerusalem was beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. (
When we come to the second chapter of Daniel we stand on a tall mountaintop of Scripture. We see the panorama of world history encompassing what Luke calls the times of the Gentiles. (
The first question is “what?” What did Nebuchadnezzar dream? What did Daniel see in the interruption? What is this statue that’s revealed to us in
Next we come to the “who” question. We find this addressed in
Daniel says that the head of this statue was made of gold (
Note the chest and arms of silver. (
Note next the abdomen of bronze. (
Greece ruled the world and a number of its citizens who lived during this period made contributions that we enjoy today. Herodotus stands without peer as the father of historians. Hippocrates is the father of modern medicine. The Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle helped formulate mindsets for centuries. We know that this third world empire is Greece not only because world history played out the fact but also because God said it. Just as Daniel had predicted in the interruption of the dream, the Medeo-Persian Empire that crushed Babylon was conquered by Greece. The amazing thing is that it was all laid out in the Book of Daniel scores of years before it happened. It is like watching a video of the Super Bowl before it is ever played!
Next note the legs of iron. (
The Roman Empire dominated the world for centuries because it ruled with such an iron hand. It was ruthless. It broke in pieces and crushed others (see
Daniel foresees the great Roman Empire being divided in
Rome did not collapse because another world power defeated her. She collapsed from within. Anyone who has read the history of the Roman Empire has seen the moral decay that brought about the collapse of Rome. Even though the Roman Empire as a political entity has long since died, many of its institutions and ideals still live on in our western world.
The answer to this question is found in the feet and toes of iron and clay which are revealed in
But when we look carefully at the statue revealed through Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, we find that there is one more part of the statue, the feet and toes of iron and clay. Who are these toes? They represent the continuation of Rome. In the end times the Bible reveals that a federation of nations rising out of the ruins of the Roman Empire will emerge. They will seek to mix the iron and the clay, that is, the ideas of totalitarianism and imperialism and the principles of democracy, which are pliable and can be molded like clay. However, they simply do not blend together. Democracy may not be the best form of government. Theocracy may well be the best form. Democracy alone is not what made America great. The Bible reveals to us that it is righteousness which exalts a nation (
It is of note that Daniel’s prophecy passes over a period of time from Rome and the first coming of Christ to the return of Jesus Christ. This is more commonly referred to as the Church Age. Why is it not addressed in Daniel? It is not surprising that there should be an interlude here. The Old Testament never saw the Church Age. Paul himself wrote in Greek that it was a musterion, that is, a sacred secret, a mystery.
More and more people believe we are seeing this before our very eyes in the European Common Market. Could they be the coalition of iron and clay, the political and economic union? Until recently this coalition appeared impossible. Europe was divided from the east to the west, but almost overnight the Berlin Wall fell. The pieces of the prophetic puzzle began falling into place. Then the Soviet Union collapsed. Now Israel is back in the land. Europe has moved to a common currency. These are major steps in the European coalition. The stage seems to be being set and the props are being put in place for the return of our Lord. When I continue to hear talk of one world government my ears perk up. When I see Israel miraculously back in the land after centuries of dispersion I open my eyes a little wider. When I see the European community rising and coming together I take particular note. And then when I read Daniel I’m reminded that he has told us all of this two and a half millennia ago.
Thus, in this statue, God reveals to us the scope of human history. There have only been four world empires. World history has verified all that Daniel prophesied. And, that which is yet to happen will be fulfilled just as all the others have also. We have the video before the big game is even played out!
It is interesting to note that the statue diminished from the head to the foot. Look at it carefully. It is obviously top-heavy and weak in the feet. We see an amazing thing here. We see the downward digression of human existence. Note these are deteriorating qualities. That is, gold to silver to bronze to iron to mud and finally to clay. The image is top-heavy. It is weakest in its feet. This strongly suggested the degeneration of the human race through the ages. This truth is diametrically opposite to the evolutionist who seeks to interrupt human history. Instead of man beginning as dust from nothing and ascending to gold, God reveals to us in the Word that man in the time of the Gentiles begins as gold and degenerates in the end to nothing but mud. Every human man-made empire has gone this way.
This principle of deterioration of civilization is obvious. We are not getting better. We’re getting worse. Before our very eyes we’re witnessing the demise of the Christian culture and a Christian civilization in the West. This deterioration is seen all around us. We’re witnessing the demise of a culture. We’re not getting better. Darwinian thought says we’re progressing upward. His philosophy tells us we rise from mud and clay to gold. But God says just the opposite.
Even though we may be watching the deterioration of our society, it is not time for disappointment or despair. God has a plan. And this plan is about to take place. God reveals the scope of human history in this statue.
Next we come to another question. It is the “why” question. Why this statute? What Nebuchadnezzar dreamed and what Daniel revealed was, in the words of the Lord Jesus, the times of the Gentiles. (
God had commended the government of the world to Israel. It was to be administered by priests and prophets and godly kings. But unfortunately, Israel disobeyed. Thus God brought forth an intermission and for an interlude gave the governments of the world to the Gentiles. Remember that the Bible says, the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. (
The stage is being set today. Many of the major props have been put in place during my own lifetime. Israel is back in her land. This prop was put in place in 1948. Another important prop came in 1967 when for the first time since the days of Nebuchadnezzar Israel controlled the City of Jerusalem. Something dramatic is going on in Europe at the present time. The coalition of iron and clay is coming together in an economic and political manner. Until recently this seemed to be impossible. Who would have thought we would have seen the fall of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall seemingly overnight?
Even though Israel is back in her land she is still under the times of the Gentiles. Ask the Jews if they feel the burden of Gentile oppression. It is constantly poured out on them from the United Nations. And the holy city of Jerusalem herself has a constant reminder of this fact. I wish I could walk you through the Dung Gate into the Temple Mount today. Look at any picture of Jerusalem and what do you see? A golden dome on Mount Moriah. The Mosque of Omar is the third holiest Moslem site. On the holy Temple Mount is a Muslim mosque and today Islam controls the Temple Mount in the very heart of Jerusalem herself. The Jews may have successfully raided Entebbe and may have won the Six-Day War against insurmountable odds. But, they have never touched the Temple Mount. If they did we would see World War III. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stepped upon the Temple Mount at the turn of the millennium it brought about a new intifadeh that resulted in the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of Jews and Palestinians alike. Yes, Israel is still under Gentile domination and will be until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Our world seems to be standing at the brink of something catastrophic. Rogue nations with possible nuclear weapons have the capacity to annihilate millions. At this writing we’re engaged in a new war on terrorism. Sophisticated terrorists are waging this new war and many believe it is just a matter of time before one of them unleashes a nuclear arsenal of some type. God is allowing man to run his course. Man is showing his true colors. He is set to destroy his world and civilization. This is true economically, materially, biologically, meteorologically, and virtually in every way. It is going to get worse before it gets better. And just when it looks as though there’s no hope left, our Lord Jesus Christ will return. The uncut stone will end the time of the Gentiles and fill the earth with His own glorious kingdom. We have the video before us and God reveals to us the scope of human history in this statue.
How will it all end? When will it all end? History seems to be reaching its climax. We are winding down. The Bible says, “When you see all these things coming to pass lift up your eyes for your redemption draws near.”
What does this have to do with us as we seek to engage the culture around us? It has for us the same effect it had on Daniel. He reminds us that God is in control. We can trust him. Everything thus far has unfolded just as Nebuchadnezzar dreamed and as Daniel revealed and that which is left to be fulfilled will follow suit. We have seen the video before the end of the game. As we confront our culture we do not have to give in nor give up nor give out. We can have the same confidence of Daniel. That is, that God is in control. He reveals the scope of human history to us with a statue. And, we win in the end!