Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Image of Daniel 2 ]

Lonnie Brsnam

Daniel 2:31—36 says, “Thou, 0 King, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.”(Old King James Verson).

The second chapter of the book of Daniel tells us of a very disturbing dream which Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia had. It troubled him so that he could not sleep. To make it worse, the dream had gotten away from him, and he could not remember the things he saw in the dream. The dream was a very urgent and important matter to the king, for he was greatly disturbed by it. He had to know the meaning of this terrible dream, and there were highly paid men in his court who were supposed to have the wisdom to clear up a situation like this. Forthwith, he called in the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans. The magicians practiced magic and used superstitious rites and ceremonies. The astrologers were men who pretended to foretell future events by the study of the stars. The superstition of astrology was extensively cultivated by the Eastern nations of antiquity, and it is, pathetically, one of the notable superstitions of the twenty-first century. Sorcerers were such as pretended to hold communication with the dead. The last group mentioned were Chaldeans, probably a sect of philosophers similar to the other groups mentioned. A desperate struggle followed between the king and these so—called wise men, for they could not explain the dream. Of course, they could not do it because they did not know the future. They could not tell the future even as astrologers, fortune tellers, and clairvoyants cannot tell the future today. The nature of the king̓s dream wade pretension impossible; they argued that they must have something to begin with. But Nebuchadnezzar meant business and was smart enough to see through their arguments. He ordered all wise men in Babylon to be put to death for being liars and imposters. At last Daniel the prophet of God was called in before the king, and he told the meaning of the dream. If you are interested in guesswork, superstition, and human speculation then call for an astrologer, or a fortune teller, or a clairvoyant, but if you want to know the will of God, call for a man of God who knows the scriptures. That is what Nebuchadnezzar did.
The first thing revealed in the dream was that four successive world kingdoms were to appear in human history. This dream occurred about 600 B.C., and the king saw a huge image whose head was of gold; the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, and the legs were of iron with the feet being a mixture of iron and clay. In verses 37,38 Daniel said to the king, “Thou, 0 King art this head of gold”. The head of the image represented Babylonia, over which Nebuchadnezzar ruled as king. The Babylonian Empire ruled the world from 612 B.C. to 539 B.C. Hence, the image represents a series of historical events to take place from the time of the Babylonian Empire. The head of the image represents Babylonia in the sixth century B.C. In verse 39 Daniel continues to explain the image, “And after thee shall shall rise another kingdom inferior to thee.” This is the explanation given of that part of the image represented by the breasts and arms of silver. It is a known fact of history that the Medo-Persian Empire succeeded the Babylonian Empire. We know the day, month, and year that the Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes and Persians. Cyrus the Great, King of Persia captured the great city of Babylon on October 13, 539 B.C. Cyrus lowered the Euphrates river, and his army entered the city marching under the gates through the river bed. Because of a drunken party that night, the Babylonians left the inner gates unguarded and the Medo-Persian army took the city. You can read about this famous night in the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel. The Persian Empire ruled the world from 539 B.C. to 331 B.C., a period of two hundred eight years. Daniel predicted that the Medo-Persian Empire would be inferior to the Babylonian Empire, just as silver is inferior to gold. This was referring to the fact that the Medo-Persian Empire was not as wealthy and prosperous, and the character
of the Persian kings was inferior to the Chaldean kings. Daniel holds the distinction of being the world's greatest historian. He differs from all other historians in that he wrote history before it happened. He pre—wrote history! The supernatural foreknowledge revealed in Bible prophecies is the greatest of all evidences that the Bible is a super— natural revelation from the one true God. A second world empire succeeded the Babylonian just as Daniel predicted.
In verse 39 Daniel declares that a third kingdom would follow the Medo-Persian Empire. The prophet spoke of “A Third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.” Once more history tells us what this third kingdom was. This was a prediction of the rise of the Greek world empire which was founded by Alexander the Great. It lasted a very short time, from 331 B.C. to 323 B.C. This great kingdom lasted but eight years because of the sudden death of Alexander the Great, who died as a young man in a drunken spree in the very height of his glory. The Greek Empire had less external magnificence than those which preceeded it, and it was founded and maintained by force of arms. However, the Greek world empire was more extensive than the two preceding kingdoms. It was foretold in Daniel 2:39 that this kingdom should, “bear rule over all the earth.” It was the main boast of Alexander the Great that he had subdued the whole world. As Daniel continues to explain the image, he foretells the rise of a fourth world kingdom to follow that of Alexander the Great. Verse 40 says, “And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, it shall break in pieces and bruise.” The fourth kingdom corresponded to the legs of iron and the feet of iron and part of clay (Verses 41,42). The fourth kingdom is easily identified as the Pagan Roman Empire of the Caesars which succeeded Alexander's Empire. The Bible does not say whether the two legs had any special significance, but it is generally thought to refer to the two general divisions into which the Roman Eempire afterwards divided——the East and West. The ten toes of the image probably refers to the ten kingdoms of Western Europe, which grew out of the Roman Empire after its fall in 476 A.D. However, this is not stated in the vision, nor is it a part of the inspired interpretation. I mentioned the toes and their possible meaning because there is much speculation about the ten toes by speculative prophecy preachers today. It is quite clear that the ten toes do not refer to the nations of Western Europe in the twentieth century. It is absolutely certain that the fouth kingdom represents the Roman Empire which lasted from 44 B.C. to 476. A.D. After 476 A.D. the Roman Empi was divided nto ten kingdoms known as the Holy Roman Empire. So in no sense can this image refer to the nations of Western today as he premillilnarians are wrongly teaching. The Roman Empire, for a time, was indeed as strong as iron. No other people have ever made such extensive conquests through so long a period of time as did the Romans.

The second thing revealed in this vision of the great image was that in the days of this fourth world empire of Rome, the God of heaven was going to establish on this earth the kingdom of God, and it would never be destroyed. Verse 34 described a stone cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet. Daniel explains the meaning of this stone in verse 44, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” The fact that this stone was cut out of a mountain without hands means it was of divine origin. It was of God and not of man. Hence, this stone represented a fifth kingdom in the vision. It~as not a human kingdom like the other four kingdoms of Babylonia, Medo—Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel predicts that the fifth universal world kingdom was to be the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, also called the Church of God and the Church of Christ. Now just what was this kingdom of God which smote the four world kingdoms, destroyed them, and took their place? Has it come to earth or is it still future? This great image prophecy answers these questions for us. This kingdom of God had to come to earth during the days of the Roman Empire, the fourth world kingdom in the vision. That means it had to come to earth between 44 B.C~. and 476 A.D. The Western Empire ended forever in 476 A.D., and if the kingdom of God did not come before that ending date, the prophecy of Daniel 2 would have failed. However, this prophecy did not fail, and God̓s kingdom did come to this earth between 44 B.C. and 476 A.D., just as Daniel 2 predicted. If you will stay with me, I will show you this fact from the scriptures. Jesus began His preching about 30 A.D., and the Bible says that He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God.
I will show you this fact from the scriptures. Jesus began his preaching ministry about 30 A.D., and the Bible says that he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. His exact message expressed in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel.” These words have a direct ref reference to Daniel 2, for Jesus said the time is led and it is time for the kingdom of God to begin. When he said that the kingdom is at hand; he meant it is close and will soon begin. Anything which is “at hand” is close. Jesus said that the time is fulfilled because the four world kingdoms of Daniel 2 had made their appearance, and the fourth world kingdom was in existence when Jesus lived. Most people in the religious world disregard Daniel 2 and the teachings of Jesus and teach that this kingdom will not come to earth till Jesus comes back and sets up his kingdom on the earth for a thousand years. This is a myth. They try to get around the plain teachings of Jesus by saying God intended to begin the kingdom in the first century but postponed it because of the unbelief of the Jews. The Bible does not teach this false theory; God did not postpone the kingdom, and it did begin between 44 B.C. and 476 A.D. Jesus Christ spoke correctly and truly when he said about 30 A.D, “The time is fulfilbd and the kingdom is at hand.” Any theory, opinion, or view which denies this is incorrect.
Furthermore, Jesus revealed just how close at hand the kingdom was during his earthly ministry. In Mark 9:1 Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” Now, this was a time prophecy of Jesus about the kingdom of God, and he said it would be on this earth within the lifetime of his listeners. The kingdom had to come to earth within that generation, or this prophecy would have failed and made him look foolish. Jesus was omniscient and knew everything; he knew the Jews, as a whole, would not receive his kingdom. He foreknew the unbelief of the Jews, but still predicted he would set up his kingdom on this planet within the lifetime of his listeners. The kingdom ad its beginning on earth in the city of Jerusalem in 33 A.D., fifty days after the death of Christ. Three thousand Jews became Christians on that day. inaugurating the coming of God's kingdom(Acts 2:41,47). In Matthew 16:18,19 Jesus called His church the kingdom of heaven. Thus, the Church of Christ, the Church of God, the, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of God are all synonymous expressions and all mean the same thing. This is an elementary New Testament truth, and there is absolutely no excuse for a student of the Bible to be ignorant of this fact. The kingdom Of God is here and has been here since 33 A.D., but the Gentiles have denied its existence and have transferred its beginning to the second coming of Christ. What presumption for man to tell God he has not set up his kingdom on earth when it has been here nearly two thousand years! How displeased God must be with people who deny he has brought his kingdom to earth and transfer its beginning to a thousand year period after the coming of Christ. This is to misrepresent God, and that is serious business. About 64 A.D. Paul wrote these words to Christians, saying that God: “has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). This says that God Christians from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ. Christians are, therefore, in the kingdom of Christ. The entire number of New Testament Christians on this earth constitute the kingdom of Christ or the kingdom of God. How could the word of God state that Christians are in the kingdom of Christ, if it is not to come to this earth till Jesus Comes back? If God postponed the kingdom, how could Christians be in it? These arguments are unanswerable. The theory of a thousand year reign of Christ on this earth after the second coming of Christ is a hoax, a human speculation and a man-made theory. When Christ returns, the judgment will take place, and the human race will go to hell or heaven. There will be no kingdom of univ__ ersal peace on this earth at that time. The earth is to be burned up according to 2 Peter 3:10. The inspired writer of the book Hebrews said to Christians in chapter 12:28, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Scripture declares that Christians have received the kingdom, and that was written about 65 A.D. In view of that declaration, how can men say and people believe that God postponed the kingdom, that Christians will not receive the kingdom till Jesus comes back and sets up the kingdom for a thousand years?
Returning to the image of Daniel 2 those who deny the beginning of the kingdom in the first century raise the objection that the Messianic kingdom in Daniel 2 was to suddenly destroy the image. They argue that the Christian religion or the Church of Christ didnt do that, and so they transfer it to the future. Where does Daniel 2 speak of suddenness? It speaks only of destruction. When did the Church of Christ smite the image ef Daniel 2? In a sense all the kingdoms of Daniel 2 were standing when the Christian
religion began in 33 A.D. The Roman empire possessed all the distinguishing marks and characteristics of the three preceding empires. All the glory, splendor, and power of the Babylonian, Medo—Persian, and Greek empires were merged into the Roman Empire. The idolatrous religions of all these kingdoms all found recognition in the various forms of paganism existing in the Roman Empire. The stone which struck the image in its feet was the Church of Christ striking the Roman Empire in the first, second, third, and fourth centuries A.D. The religions of Christianity and Paganism locked horns in the first century, and Christianity dealt it a death blow. Within thirty years the kingdom of Christ had spread thrughout the Roman Empie(Colossians 1:6).
About 300 A.D., the religion of Christ became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The final flow to the image of Daniel 2 came in 476 A.D. when the Western Roman Empire fell, and since that date no world empire has ever existed but the spiritual, world empire of Jesus Christ mentioned in Daniel 2:44. The prophecy in the image of Daniel 2 has been conipletely fulfilled. The universal world kingdoms of ancient times have passed away, and the kingdom of Christ has taken their place. The only peace plan God has for this earth is the kIngdom of christ which was established in the days of the apostles. Objectors maintain that the religion of Christ has not brought peace to this earths Yes, and the main reason for this is that religious people have denied its existence and have so divided the Christian religion with sects and parties that the Christian religion cannot make an all out assault on the world. If all professed followers of Christ would unite in the one church which Jesus buit, call themselves by the name Christian only, drop all party names, and all doctrines which disagree with the New Testament, great blessings of peace and salvation would flow to the entire hurran race. A divided Christendom was never intended to bring peace to this earth. If you are interested in the peace of the earth, then become a citizen in Christ̓s kingdom and the church which he purchased with his blood, and work with God's people as they try to change the hearts of men and women from hatred to love. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that. believeth not shall be damned,” (Mark 16:16)

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