THE BIBLE: FROM GOD OR MAN?
Daniel 2:31-45 is a record of the prophet Daniel's interpretation of the famous dream given by God to Nebuchadnezzar, the dictator who ruled the world in the 6th century B.C. Daniel 2 is a most valuable historical document. It speaks of five world kingdoms that would exist on this earth. The fifth kingdom would destroy the previous four kingdoms and the fifth world kingdom would never be destroyed but would last forever. That fifth world kingdom is of special interest to Christians, for Daniel says of it in verses 44,45: “In the days of these kings(or kingdoms) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom will not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold–the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and it's interpretation is sure.” Christians should know whether this kingdom predicted by Daniel has already come or expect it to come in the future.
Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king who ruled the world in the 6th century B.C. had a dream which perturbed him greatly, troubled his spirit and drove sleep from his eyes. The details of the dream had departed from his memory. Calling in the magicians and sorcerers of Babylon he demanded that they tell him exactly the dream he had dreamed and the meaning. If they failed to do so, they would all be put to death and their houses laid in ruins. Had it not been for Daniel, every magician and fortune teller in Babylon would have been executed. When Daniel was brought before the monarch he declared that there was a God in heaven who revealed mysteries, and that God had given him this dream to make known what would happen in the latter days. The term “latter days,” when used by the prophets in the Bible, generally had reference to the age of the Messiah, which was the Christian age of the world.
This great ruler in his dream saw a giant figure of a man, luminous, imposing, awe-inspiring and frightening. The image was composed of different metals-- having a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thigh of brass, legs of iron; and the feet were a mixture of iron and clay. As the king viewed this gigantic image, a stone was cut out of a mountain without the use of human hands, and this stone smashed the feet of this image with such a force that it broke them to pieces. As a result the entire image fell to the ground in a mass of fragmentary debris. To the king's astonishment, the wind blew away the
crumbled dust and remains until not even a trace of the image remained. Even more astonishing, the stone which smashed the image then began to increase in size until it became a mountain of such size that it filled the whole earth. No wonder the king was disturbed.
My first comment on this giant image is that it that it represents a calendar of history, an unfolding of future historical events. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. God drew a picture of a huge man, and a look at him revealed what would happen for the next 1000 years. Daniel was a great historian who wrote the history of the world from 600 B.C. to 476 A.D. The first four kingdoms represented in this image existed between those two dates. By 476 A.D. they had all crumbled in the dust of time. However, Daniel is absolutely unique among all historians in that he wrote history a thousand years before it happened. He pre-wrote history, and the Bible is the only book in the world which contains pre-written history. Hundreds of prophecies about the coming of Christ is another evidence of pre-written history. Pre-written history is one of the greates t evidences for the divine inspiration and supernaturalness of the Bible. If I were asked to present just one reference in the Bible that would establish the fact that the Bible came from God I would select the giant image of Daniel 2. Supernatural prediction is the number one evidence that the Bible came from God. because it cannot be successfully disputed or explained away. The number two evidence that the Bible came from God are the mnd-boggling miracles recorded therein. Supernatural predictions and the miracles recorded therein will condemn all who reject the Bible as the authoritative communication from God to man kind. God will accept no excuses. The evidence is overwhelming and beyond all dispute.
Secular historians generally divide history into three periods.: Ancient History(2500 B.C. to 476 A.D.); Medieval History(476 A.D. to 1500 A..D), and Modern History(1500 A.D. to the present day). Those were the three Historical periods I studied in the history classes at Indiana University. However, Biblical historians would date Ancient history as beginning with Adam and Eve and that was at least some 4000 years B.C. or perhaps even more distant. Daniel 2 certainly belongs to the category of Ancient History.
Returning to Daniel's interpretation of the giant image, the prophet declares that it represented four mighty and successive kingdoms that would rule the world. The four universal empires are all plainly identified in the Bible, and they are all mentioned by name. The head of gold represented the Babylonian empire which ruled the world from
612 B.C. to 539 B.C., according secular historians. The breast and arms of silver was a symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire who conquered the Babylonians and held world dominion from 539 B.C. to 331 B.C. The cruel dictator, Suddam Hussein descended from those ancient Medo-Persians and lives where the Medo-Persians lived long ago. He will soon be tried for murder by the nation of Iraq and will probsably be executed. He seemed to have aspirations for the greatness that part of the world had long ago. The capture of Babylon by the Medo-Persians is described in Daniel 5.
The belly and thighs of the image were of bronze and symbolized the third universal world empire which was the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. This Greek general, like a flaming meteor, swept across the world's surface and conquered the world. The Greeks held universal dominion from 331 to 323 B.C. The legs of the image were made of iron, and its feet a mixture of clay and iron. The meaning of this part of the image is stated in Daniel 2:40, “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 others.” History reveals that the mighty Roman Empire was the fourth world power. The pagan Roman Empire exercised universal dominion from 44 B.C. to 476 A.D.. Christ made His appearance on earth when Rome ruled the world. This kingdom ruled the world longer than any before it. The ten toes of the giant image symbolized the ten divisions of Europe in the first century and the centuries which followed. No man could have known that four successive world kingdoms would appear in history. The only explanation is that God revealed it to him. It is an indisputable fact that this great image represented a calendar of history of one thousand years.
Secondly, Daniel makes another prediction more exciting and more wonderful than anything we have yet studied. Something happened that indicated that all these world empires were going to disappear from the earth forever, and that they were going to be replaced by a fifth kingdom which would be called the kingdom of God. After describing the fourth kingdom of Rome in the image, Daniel 2:44 says, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
Just how this fifth kingdom was to replace all these world empires is described in a most vivid way. In the vision a mysterious stone appears which was not cut out of the ground by human hands. The expression, “without hands” indicated the absence of human agency. Insofar as its origin was concerned it was divine; it came from God. Suddenly this stone was dashed against the feet of the image with such force as to shatter them, and the entire image fell to the ground as crumbled dust. The stone that destroyed the image began to become larger and larger until it became a mountain and filled the whole earth.
This stone symbolized the kingdom of God, the Church of God, which was to replace the old Roman Empire, and this kingdom was also called the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of heaven. and the Church of Christ. In the first century, Rome had subjugated the whole world, and the kingdoms of men had reached their zenith. Religion in Rome had come to consist of reverence for hundreds of imaginary gods and goddesses, and the Roman Emperor was reverenced as the chief deity. However, God stepped in and destroyed Emperor worship and the pagan religion of Rome.
It was at the time of this fourth world empire in this giant image that the kingdom of Christ, symbolized by the stone, was launched upon this earth. In the days of the kings of the fourth kingdom of Rome, God set up His kingdom church on the earth. We might call Christ's kingdom the kingdom of the stone. Christians rendered to Caesar the things that belonged to Caesar, but declared their subjection to another and greater king—Jesus Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords. A bloody battle ensued between Christians and pagan Rome for the first, second and third centuries A.D. It was a bloody battle; the Romans made the blood of Christians flow, and they gave up their blood freely without carnal warfare. Without literal swords or carnal warfare, and by the shedding of no blood but their own, they met the challenge of world tyranny and overcame it. One of the important dates of secular history is 476 A.D., for in that year the ancient Western empire of pagan Rome ceased to exist, and there has never been another world empire since, except the Empire of Christ which is the fifth kingdom in this vision.
The New Testament church is the world empire of Christ, and it is the greatest fact on the planet today. When the religion of Christ first clashed with the empire of the Caesars, it did not appear as a mountain at first. It appeared as a stone that was insignificant in contrast with the giant image it was destined to destroy. At first it
occupied but a small part of the world, but we have seen in the 21st century a more complete fulfillment of these words. Christ, through His church, exercises dominion over the highest minds of the noblest races. No empire, political or intellectual, can compare to it. In our day Christ has occupied every part of the earth. Man-created universal empires have given place to a God-created empire. Since 476 A.D., there have been no universal dictator empires, and many Bible scholars believe there never will be another like the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman world empires. As Daniel predicted, the fifth world empire set up by God has come, and it demands the universal allegiance of all mankind.
I close with a rather sad comment on this wonderful prophecy and its fulfillment. All preachers in the brotherhood of Churches of Christ agree with the interpretation I have presented on Daniel 2. I think there are a few other religious groups in Christendom that would also agree with it. However, most all Protestant churches reject the interpretation presented in this message. The universal view of most all denominational churches is that at this kingdom of God predicted in Daniel 2:44 has never been on the earth, is not on the earth today, and will not be on the earth until Jesus comes the second time and personally establishes this kingdom on the earth. They teach that God intended to set up this kingdom mentioned in Daniel 2 in the days of the old Empire of Rome. However, because the Jews rejected Jesus, God postponed setting up His kingdom till Jesus comes back. This is to greatly err, not knowing the scriptures.
This is a most tragic misinterpretation of God's word! This must greatly displease God. This is the same mistake the Jews made. The church-kingdom of Christ is the true Messianic kingdom promised to the Jews, but they rejected it; and for this rejection God rejected them. Prophecy demanded it to be set up in the days of the fourth world kingdom, and if it had not happened at that time, this great prophecy would have failed. But it did not fail. God did not postpone the coming of His kingdom. He did set it up, and we see the fulfillment in our day and time. Jesus said that His church is the salt of the earth. As salt preserves and saves food from corruption, so the church is to save the world and prevent its destruction. Before He left the earth, He gave the church what we call, “The Great Commission,” saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things at I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the world.” Christ came the first time to establish the kingdom of God. At His second coming, it will not be to se t up a kingdom on the earth, but to deliver the kingdom up to the Father. At His second coming the world will end; the dead will be raised, and God's people will inherit eternal life.