The Holy Spirit inspired every word written in the books of the Bible. The prophets of the Old Testament were addressing the Jewish people and the prophecies revealed future events. Israel was to be a nation of priests whose destiny was to bring the Word of God to the gentiles (non-Jewish.)
When we read the book of Daniel (written approx. 606 BC,) the book of Ezekiel (written approx. 574 BC,) and the book of Revelations (written by the apostle John approx. 96 AD,) symbolism was a staple to the three writers.
Just stop and think about it. Ezekiel uses for example, The Dry Bones, The Stick, and the Fiery Wheel. All those are symbolism, but they have a literal truth. Now we come into the Book of Daniel and we will see this Great Image, with a head of gold, and a chest of silver, a belly of brass and on down its body. It's a symbolic representation of all the great empires that will be coming down through history. And then you get to the Book of Revelation written by John. Most people are afraid to even study the Book of Revelation. They can't understand it, therefore, won't even read it simply because it is in symbolic language.
Daniel is brought to pre-eminence by interpreting this dream of the King, which his magicians were unable to interpret for him.
We might as well go to Chapter 2 of Daniel, where we have king Nebuchadnezzar all shook up because he had this tremendous dream, and it must have been a nightmare otherwise he wouldn't have been so belligerently and antagonistically against all his magicians trying to get them to uncover the dream. He puts out the command for all the magicians to come in before him and tell him not only the interpretation of the dream, but to tell him what the dream was. These magicians were right on the line with their life.
Daniel 2:12 "For this cause the king was angry and very furious (because these magicians couldn't recover his dream), and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon." Now that is quite a king isn't it?
Daniel 2:13 "And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain."
Remember, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all in that kettle of fish as far as the king was concerned. Now Daniel speaks up. Remember he is just a young fellow, and has no reason to be respected for his age.
Daniel 2:14,15 "Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon. ...Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and he would show the king the interpretation." Then verse 19:
Daniel 2:19 "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision (remember this is the Sovereign Almighty God at work). Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven."
God now reveals to Daniel the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten. He is brought before the king. Verse 25. Now I'm skipping some verses for sake of time.
Daniel 2:26,27 "The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was (Daniel's name had been changed from the Hebrew to the Aramaic.) Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make know unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?' Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, `The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;'"
Daniel 2:28 "But (now here comes Daniel with his testimony) there is a God (remember this is a God that Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing of. I always remind my classes and most of you know this. That beginning with the Tower of Babel, the whole human race now has been saturated with idolatry of one sort or another. They had so many different gods, but didn't know the true God, until He called Abraham. So then, Abraham had knowledge of Jehovah, and that was passed on through Isaac, Jacob, and the Twelve Tribes. So Israel alone had a knowledge of the one true God) in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days...." What is Daniel saying? God has revealed to you prophetic events. Now remember that as I stressed, and I'll keep on stressing it, that all true prophecy centers on the Nation of Israel, and usually within a time frame. God will put the details out there and He will put it in time. Like when we get to Chapter 9 He's going to say 490 years are determined upon the Nation of Israel. Now the Church Age has nothing like this whatsoever. There is no prophecy concerning the Church.
We can see as the church is approaching the end of the Age of Grace, by virtue of events getting ready for prophecy coming on the scene. For the most part there is no prophetic utterance connected with the Church Age. When people say that on such and such a day the Lord is coming, just mark them off as false. There is nothing in Scripture that can help us set a date for the Lord to return for the Church. As soon as the Church Age is done, and that undetermined period of time has ended and the seven years of Tribulation begins, then, yes, prophecy begins again. Then we will be back in a time frame. Seven years are going to elapse. Now to Daniel as he stands there before the king, verse 29:
Daniel 2:29a,30,31a "As for thee, O King, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed. What should come to pass hereafter:... But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart (now here comes the dream). Thou, O king sawest, and behold a great image...."
The image has to be in the form of a man, because it has a head, shoulders, belly, legs, feet, and toes. He sees this likeness of a man. Just to give us a little hint of how huge it must have been, turn the page and go to Chapter 3. I have to think this dream somehow or other was a catalyst for what Nebuchadnezzar actually does in this next Chapter. He's forgotten about Daniel, and has gotten so filled up with his own power, that he wants to unite all those pagan worships into one image that would be of him. This is interesting, because we are going to see the last great world ruler, the Anti-christ, who is going to do the same thing, so we will tie it together. We will go to Revelation after we look at the size of this thing:
Daniel 3:1 "Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold (the one he saw in his dream just had a head of gold. I imagine in his dream he saw that gold just glitter in that Middle Eastern sun. He gets the idea that this is what I'm going to do, so he makes this image of gold), whose height was threescore cubits, and the breath thereof six cubits:... ".
That is 90 feet high, and 9 feet wide. That is a big image, and remember, it's made of gold. He sits it out there on that Middle Eastern desert sand and demands that whole known world worship that image. Turn with me now to Revelation. Remember when we started this study in Daniel, that when you study Daniel, you must also study Revelation; both are so intertwined. And again because they were both written outside of Israel.
I guess I should also tie in the other analogy, that falls into that same kind of category. That is between the twelve Apostles and the Apostle Paul. Very few people realize that drastic difference. Jesus chose the 12 within the borders of Israel. But that other Apostle, the one who so many people try to force into the twelve, would never fit. And one of the reasons he won't fit is because he was never called within the borders of Israel. He was called on Gentile ground, outside of Damascus. And that set him totally apart from the twelve. If any of you ever doubt me, just read Galatians Chapter 1 and 2 very carefully. And you will notice that Paul emphasizes that he had nothing to do with the twelve back there in Jerusalem. That is why the Lord called him from Gentile grounds, and sent him to the Gentiles.
Politically, these great empires that Nebuchadnezzar saw in symbolic language, you might say of the head of gold and so forth, we pointed out how that politically everyone of these empires will become weakened by an increasing number of people involved in decision making. We love democracy, and it is the greatest form of government ever brought on the scene. When it comes to getting something done, it's probably the worst that was ever conceived. When Christ sets up His earthly Kingdom again, that's why it will be so glorious; it will be a Kingdom of One. He will have absolute power. There will be no confab, or consensus. It will be a glorious Kingdom.
The head of gold was symbolic of the Babylonian empire as ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar. He was the ruling power over his entire kingdom
Daniel identifies the king’s vision and his interpretation. It links closely with Daniel’s own vision as described in Chapter 7 during the rule of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar.
Daniel 2:36–38 identify the head of gold as the first world-empire: Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Compare verse Daniel 7:4 - Daniel 2:39 - And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. These kingdoms (second Look to Daniel 7:5
We see these empires, they have come and gone through history, but we are now down to the iron and clay toes of the Western Europe consortium of nations. I think it is so perfectly illustrated with iron and clay. Being an old farmer, I can remember way back before farmers mixed their concrete with washed sand, they would use any kind of gravel they could get their hands on. If you mix the best of cement with just simply gravel, how long will that cement last? Not long at all, and it will just start to crumble. It doesn't have the ability to cleave.
That is the way Europe is tonight. You have all these nations, that over hundreds and hundreds of years have hated each other with a passion. That is why that region has been a battle ground for centuries. The Germans hate the French and so on. And those hatreds run deep. Even though they have now agreed to come together in a political and economic United States of Europe, the whole thing is so fragile because of those latent hatreds. And that is what I think is depicted here in the iron and clay. Its got strength but its got weakness. They will have a United States of Europe someday, and out of that consortium of ten nations (and they will end up with ten because the The Book says so) will come the man Anti-christ. And he will make a treaty with Israel, as we will be seeing in a few weeks, that will trigger God's time clock of prophecy once again, and those final seven years will click off. Let's wind up this vision with Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter 2.
Daniel 2:43 "And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men (just exactly as Europe is doing tonight): but they shall not cleave one to another,..."
In other words, there will be no political unity. The whole thing will be fragile. That is why it will be so easy for one man to come on the scene and we are getting so close. I'm not a date setter, you know that, but I do feel that we are so close to the appearance of the Anti-christ. Remember though, before he makes his appearance, we have to go. The Lord will be taking us (believers) out. We won't see, or be able to put a thumb on who he is, but when the Anti-christ comes, the world will be falling at his feet. He will rule and reign satanically for seven years. It will be the most awful seven years in all of the earth's history. I like to put it this way. The holocaust of Nazi Germany will be a Sunday School picnic compared to those seven years. And it will be worldwide.
The Sovereign God is in control of the whole thing. That is why I like to start in Genesis. The plan of God for the whole Age of History. It is all architecturally drawn up from eternity past. Nothing takes Him by surprise. It is just so hard to comprehend how a Sovereign God prepared everything that has happened. Yet he left man with a free will. Now that is hard to reconcile isn't it? That a Sovereign God lays it out, gives man and nations their free will, and they all meet at the end. I can't explain it, but I believe it, and you can see it happening constantly. I have told my classes to go back and read the history of World War II, and how some of our great battles in the Pacific, as well as in Europe, hinged on the change of the weather. That wasn't just by accident. It was a Sovereign God. Man is operating on his own free will and doesn't have any idea that God has any thing to do with it. He has everything to do with it. Now look at verse 44.
Daniel 2:44 "And in those days of these kings (when these ten nations of Western Europe, headed up by the Anti-christ, have run their course of 7 years) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom,..."
What Kingdom? The same Kingdom we have been talking about from day one. The Kingdom He is going to have on the earth, a Kingdom that will never be destroyed. The Book of Revelation puts a time element on the Kingdom. How long? A thousand years! That is how we get the term millennium and even the world likes to use it. Have you noticed that lately? When they talk about the next thousand years, they will use the word millennium. Well, they're talking in secular terms of the next thousand years from the year 2000 to 3000. The thousand years that Scriptures refer to, and we refer to, is that thousand years of reign and rule. We know it's going to end by the providential act of a Sovereign God. This is, when Satan is loosed for a little season, and everything is going to have to go through a great turmoil. But when the new earth and new heaven come on the scene (eternity), it's going to be the same set of circumstances as was in that thousand year reign and rule.
Daniel 2:44 "...and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms,..."
All these great Gentile kingdoms that were precipitated and were based on nothing but greed. I was so thrilled several months ago when we came out of our class here in Tulsa, and in the parking lot, one of the fellows said, "I can see it for the first time in my life. Everything is based on greed."
Let's move to Chapter 7. I'll skip Chapter 3 and 4 for the time being at least. As for Chapter 5, most of you know the context and have heard many sermons on it. Now in Chapter 7, Daniel has his own vision and Daniel is going to see, basically, these same Gentile Empires. Only he is going to see them come down in order. Rather than metals of gold, silver, and so forth, Daniel sees them as various wild beasts, but it is the same unfolding of history:
Daniel 7:1,2 "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, `I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven (East, West, North and South) strove upon the great sea.'"
For those of you who have not marked it in the margin of your Bible you may want to do so now. The sea here again is a symbolic term for humanity. Most of you know that. So the four winds are just striving upon the masses of humanity. Even though at the time of Daniel there was not that many. Nevertheless it was still humanity. Now verse 3:
Daniel 7:3"And four great beasts..."
Here again, I always remind my classes, don't let that word beast stir up a vision of some seven-headed lion. The beast term in Scripture is simply a government. Now the reason God has chosen the word "beast," is because all these great empires, as we will see from Daniel's point of view, are bestial in their behavior and again in their greed, and in the way they treat their subjects. I hope you all realize that all the way up through human history, unless you were fortunate enough to live among the very elite in the ruling class, what was life for the rest of the people. It was just existence. Most of them under abject poverty, slavery, oppression, and it was not until the Magna Charter, that came out of England in about the 13th century, that delineated some human rights. Before that, there was no such thing as human rights.
Daniel sees these empires come out of the mass of humanity, bestial in their make-up, and he sees them in the same unfolding as Nebuchadnezzar did. Now verse 4.
Daniel 7:4 "The first was like a lion, (that was Babylon. But instead of a head of gold Daniel sees it as a lion.) and had eagle's wing: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked (it was defeated and fell), and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it." And now verse 5. As a result of that fall what happened? Another empire.
Daniel 7:5 "And behold another beast (we know it was the Medes and Persians), a second, like to a bear, and raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said, thus unto it. `Arise, devour much flesh.'" So the Medes and Persians took over the known world. Verse 6. Now this is history:
Daniel 7:6 "After this I beheld, and lo another (another empire), like a leopard (the leopard is one of the swiftest animals in the world. It depicts Alexander the Great who was swift in his conquests. Alexander the Great could move his armies over territory that no one else would ever dream possible, and in less time. He was known for it, so consequently he was pictured as a leopard.), which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl (when Alexander the Great died, his four generals took his place. Now what does Daniel see? Four wings. The same picture. Instead of having one great dictator such as Nebuchadnezzar, this third empire is divided into four.); the beast had also four heads: and dominion was given to it." Now in verse 7, after the Grecian Empire falls, up comes the Roman Empire:
Daniel 7:7 "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly (and we know the Romans were. The Romans had control of the then known world, over the general population, like no other empire before it.); and it had great iron teeth (it was strong politically): it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse (or different) from all the beasts that were before it (why? It was the start of democratic form of government, the world had never experienced that before. And then you have a semicolon and what is the last part of the verse?) ; and it had ten horns."
As we look back on history, that semicolon jumped about 1700 years of time, because we are coming all the way from the Roman Empire, which ended between 300 and 400 A.D. up to the present time, and the appearance of the European Community as the revived Roman Empire. Ten horns. The horns again in Scripture merely refer to kings. Now we need to go back to Revelation again. We are now dealing with the kingdoms that will be on the earth at the time of the Tribulation, and we pick this up in Revelation for this book is the road map of the Tribulation for the most part. Revelation Chapter 13. We want to look at these 10 horns that will be the base of operation for this world ruler we call the Anti-christ.
Revelation 13:1 "And I stood upon the sand of the sea (what are we talking about again? The sea of humanity.), and saw a beast (government) rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns (see how that fits with Daniel? Now this is not any seven headed creature it's a consortium of nations.), and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy,"
Revelation 13:2 "And the beast (this Government will be headed up in one man, this Anti-christ) which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion (what does that tell you? What we just read in Daniel 7. The same thing. Daniel saw Greece as a leopard, he saw the Medes as a bear, and he saw the Babylonians as a lion. Now John sees them in the same context): and the dragon gave him (the Anti-christ) his power, and his seat (or throne), and great authority."
"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed:"
Now here again I wish I had more time to explain. A lot of people think that the man Anti-christ will be shot, and brought back to life. I prefer to think that we are dealing with the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was the one that suffered a deadly wound. It died and collapsed, and faded off the scene 1700 years ago; and here we see it coming up again.
If you think I am stretching the point, about Western Europe being a revived Roman Empire about two years ago in "Insight Magazine" was an article on the European Community. A lady wrote it, and she was describing all the ins and outs of Western Europe, their hates, and problems, and so forth. Yet, they have the biggest potential for gross national product of any place on earth. She ended her article with this statement, "It may seem odd to think that these nations who hate each other can come together and make a United States of Europe. Everyone of these have been in an empire together once before: the Roman Empire." And that is the way she ended her article.
In Revelation we have the same language as you have in Daniel. You have the ten horns and the aspect of his government will be bestial. He is going to have the power and totalitarian exercise of it like Nebuchadnezzar. He is going to rumble over people like the old bear (the Medes and Persians). He will have the swiftness of the leopard (empire of Alexander the Great). He is going to have all the residue of the ancient Roman Empire, with a seeming democracy behind him, but he himself will be absolute. This whole thing is coming together perfectly and the closer we come to it the more we will see how accurate this Book really is. The head that was wounded is the old Roman Empire, and all of a sudden it is alive and well and on the scene today. So I say, watch Western Europe.