The Kingdom Foretold by Daniel

Nebuchanezzar’s Dream: A Look Into The Future

Back when Babylon, with Nebuchadnezzar at its head, was ruling over the known world, Daniel (of the Lion’s Den story) and his three friends were among the wise men of the land. And one night the king had a dream that woke him up and left him feeling strangely disturbed.

Bits and snatches of what he’d seen may have drifted through his mind, but basically he’d forgotten the dream. He was only aware that it was significant — and troubling. So he called his chief wise men and said. “I had this dream and it’s bothering me. I want you to tell me what it means.”

“Sure,” they answered, always willing to please the king. (Especially NOT willing to displease the king.) “Tell us the dream and we’ll tell you what it means.” (At least they could come up with something reasonable.)

“I wish I could, but I can’t remember any of it. So you’re the brilliant ones here. Plus, you’re supposed to have an inside track with the powers upstairs. Surely you can get in touch with Whoever, then tell me what I dreamed and the interpretation.”

Can’t you just hear them gasp? “Your Majesty! You’re asking the impossible. Could you give us some idea what the dream was about?”

Nebuchadnezzar scowled. “I can’t remember. So, let me put it this way. Explain the dream and its meaning and you shall receive rich rewards and great honor. If you don’t, I’ll have you all cut in pieces and your houses razed. Now get on with it and do what you need to do to recover it for me.”

Likely the poor sages were quaking, but they had no clue — and the king wasn’t apt to be fooled by a tale they could quickly cobble together. They appealed to his common sense: “Your Majesty, no king has ever asked such a hard thing of any wise man. We aren’t gods, only they can pull up a forgotten dream.”

Nebuchadnezzar appears to have had a rather short fuse. He took autocratic to the top notch here. “That’s it,” he roared. “You’re toast — the lot of you!”

As the King expected his order to be obeyed right now, no questions asked, Daniel and his friends were rounded up along with all the sages in Babylon, to face the firing squad. Of course they asked, “What’s with this sudden, drastic decree?”

When Arioch, who was doing the roundup, explained about the king’s dream that agitated him so much, Daniel said, “Give us a little time. Perhaps the God of Heaven, whom I serve, will show me the dream and the interpretation.”

“Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.” Daniel 2:25.

Now I’m going to paraphrase and abbreviate their conversation; you can read the account in Daniel 2: 28-46.

The king asked Daniel, “Are you really able to tell me my dream?”

And Daniel replied, “No man on earth can tell you, but there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets. In your dream He’s making known to you, King Nebuchadnezzar, what shall come to pass in the latter days.”

In your dream you saw a great statue, a glorious shining image with the likeness of a man. His head was of fine gold; his arms were of silver; the belly and thighs were of brass, and the legs were of iron and its feet were of iron and clay mixed.

Then you saw a huge stone that had been cut, but not by human hands, and the stone was hurled at the image and it smashed the image. The gold, silver, iron and clay were crushed all together into dust and the wind blew them away. But the stone that had broken the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

And here’s what it all means: The image represents various kingdoms of this earth. At present we have your kingdom, Your Majesty: the head and shoulders of gold. God has given you this vast and mighty kingdom. But there will arise another kingdom after yours, though it will be inferior. This is represented by the silver. Another kingdom will follow that one, but not as great; it’s the one represented by the brass.

The fourth kingdom to follow will be as strong as iron and its armies will advance over the earth, conquering all the other nations and crushing all resistance. But at the height of its power it will be divided and weakened, as you saw the feet and toes were part of iron and part of clay.

But in the days of this last kingdom, the God of heaven will set up a completely different kingdom, one not made with human hands, and it will expand and fill the whole earth. It will never be destroyed, but it will break in pieces and consume all the other kingdoms and shall stand forever. These are the things that will come to pass; this is the future you saw in your dream.”

And Nebuchadnezzar was thrilled, because this was exactly what he’d dreamed. And he made Daniel a great man and a ruler over the province of Babylon.

It has been generally understood by Christians through the ages that these kingdoms represent first Babylon, then the kingdom of the Medes & Persians, then Greece and finally the Roman Empire, during which time Jesus came and his kingdom, that “stone not cut by human hands” which became a holy mountain. There are a number of references in the Old Testament to this “holy mountain” and how it will expand over all the earth — as Christianity has done — and it will be a spiritual kingdom.

“Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” Isaiah 56: 7

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11: 9

Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

The Kingdom of Jesus Christ

For the most part I like to keep my writing brief and easy to read, but now I feel the urge to do a few posts on a subject thoroughly hashed over by Christians for ages:
What is – and where is – the Kingdom of Jesus Christ?

This topic may not interest a lot of my readers, but I’ll tag these posts Prophecy so you can follow them if you’re interested in what I have to say on this subject. I want to look at some of the prophesies and the theological potpourri we’ve waded through in our day, hoping to shed some light and not spark too much heat. But before I start, I’ll give you some of our background so you’ll know…

Where I’m Coming From

Outside of weddings and funerals, my family rarely darkened a church door. Mom F was a believer and packed me and my siblings off to Baptist summer camp for a week every year, so I went through the “getting saved” bit and leaned some things. I recall Mom going to church a time or two, but earning the daily bread was demanding for her. My Dad F had no use for religion.

One I hit my teen years, as a nominal Christian, I started asking the same questions many others were asking. Like:
Why does God allow evil to win? Why didn’t Hitler and Stalin die young from cancer or a heart attack, when so many good people do?

— Seeing the news from Northern Ireland, I asked, “How can people who both claim to be Christians kill each other?”

— Abortion was a hot topic in the late ’60s. Reading US news, I wondered, “How can Christians who say it’s wrong to kill unborn babies threaten people’s lives and even bomb an abortion clinic, targeting doctors and nurses?”

— And later, “How can Christians insist the State should have no part in the affairs of the Church, then turn around and lobby the government for laws outlawing moral issues like divorce and same-sex marriage?”

We asked these questions mainly because cynical was cool. It showed intelligence and open-mindedness to contest traditional beliefs. We said we were seeking for truth, but really, we liked our questions; we weren’t necessarily interested in hearing any convincing answers. Nevertheless, these questions are valid. People who sincerely seek for truth deserve a more in-depth answer than, “Because we’re right and they’re wrong.”

My husband’s parents were both raised in religious homes and joined the Anglican (the Church of England in Canada) when he was eleven; he was confirmed at the same time. But over time he, too, started to question, and had all but abandoned religion by the time we met. Still, he had a longing to know the truth, which led him to read the Bible with an open mind. Its truth convicted him. After a personal crisis he gave his life over to God about a month before we were married.

Some months after we were married we decided to start attending some church and picked one where other folks we knew also attended. Four years and several different churches after we were married, I began to realize I was following rules, but not Jesus. I had a serious debate with God one evening and he won. I totally committed my life to him at that point.

Evangelicals and Prophecy

Needless to say, being quite untaught in Evangelical thinking, we had a lot to work through. One thing we gathered fairly quickly: theories on “The Kingdom of Jesus Christ” and how it appears – or will someday appear – on earth, have bemused a lot of religious people. In the past two centuries especially, oodles of prognosticators have explained how it’s all going to play out – and it hasn’t.

David Wilkerson’s The Vision: A Terrifying Prophecy of Doomsday that is Starting to Happen Now! (1974) and Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), were popular when we first became Christians, but my studious husband read a number of books on prophecy, hoping to get a handle on the coming kingdom we were hearing about. I feel for anyone who’s mired in an eschatological slough, studying book after book on prophecy, because we’ve been there ourselves.

There are so many different ideas about what, when, and where the Kingdom can be found. I think this confusion affects believers today, just as it affected us in our “new-born” days. Christians’ concepts of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, right and wrong, have even motivated political decisions in the past and likely will in the future — especially in America. Douglas Frank, in his book, Less Than Conquerors, does an accurate analysis of shifting evangelical doctrines and political views in the late 1800’s.

Which leads to the question: If Christians are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, what is our role in the country where we live physically? How do we handle our “Permanent Resident Alien” status?

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. — Colossians 3:1-2

Currently Reading…

WHY JESUS by Ravi Zacharias

I’m finding this book an intriguing commentary on the mixed bag of truths being offered to seekers in our day. In the first part of the book the author discusses the electronic media, its effect on society, how it’s altered society’s acceptance of truth. The media we view in our own homes has subtly exchanged the “old values” for a new truth — one that we want to believe. None of us can escape the effect of this change, he points out, because even if we aren’t viewers ourselves, we’re surrounded by others who are.

Then he examines the illusive nature of New Age Spirituality circulating in North America today. The West, because of the basic principles of freedom we subscribe to, is so willing to cast of the old and accept new religions. He notes that, in the countries where these religions have been established for centuries, nothing new or different is tolerated. New Age gurus may attack the Judo-Christian foundation of North America and people will hear them gladly, but go to one of those countries and you risk reputation or even life for even suggesting a different religion — as many Christian missionaries have discovered.

Peeking at the coming chapters, I see that he predictably concludes with “the message of Jesus Christ…both timely and timeless.” A message he himself embraced as a young intellectual, recovering in the hospital after attempting suicide. Though he knew very little of Christianity, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, if you are who you claim to be, reveal yourself to me and take me out of my desperate situation and I will leave not stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”

Of Whales, Prophets, and Mixes

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BELLY

And the thought that comes to my mind first is the Bible account of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, which the old prophet compared to being in hell. We might, too! I doubt the whale was happy to play host, either.

In the Biblical book of Jonah, the giant creature is called a fish:
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heard my voice.”
Jonah 1: 17; 2: 1-2

It’s Jesus, centuries later, who specifically named it as whale:
But he answered and said unto them, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt. 12: 39-40

Jesus often compared between the old Law and the instructions He was giving. We see many literal demonstrations in the Law that took on a more intense meaning in the New. Like where Jesus told his listeners, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil. Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matt 5:38-39

Where the Old Testament taught fairness, an even return for damage inflicted, Jesus went beyond the Law and taught forgiveness. He urged his listeners to suffer a wrong rather than retaliate with anger and violence.

What happened to Jonah was a literal demonstration of what would someday happen to Jesus. However, certain laws demonstrated literally a meaning that later was understood in a symbolic way. For example, one Old Testament law said the Jews must not weave a garment with two different fibers. So, no poly-cottons in Israel’s day. Neither could they seed a field with two different grains.

Does God, the Heavenly Father, frown on mixed fibers and grain? No, but He does frown on unequal mixes, the combining of good and evil. This law is the literal demonstration of a spiritual truth: it displeases him when we take something that comes from pagan or evil roots, swipe it with a whitewash brush of religion, and call it “good now.” Which explains why many Christian people through the centuries have rejected the deck of playing cards because they are derived from the tarot card deck, a thing of occult origin.

And this is enough about Jonah and the Whale, laws and illustrations. Have a great week, everyone.

Christmas Blessings to All

ALL IN GOD’S PLAN

“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…and all went…every one into his own city…” (Luke 2:1-3)
All in God’s plan. It seems that God wanted the whole world turned upside down for the birth of His Son! All over the known world folks had to make a journey to the place of their birth.

Just like today. The Christ-child wants to be born in our hearts, but before that can happen our life must be turned upside down. That which we hold in high esteem must come crashing to the ground. The way that we would most despise — the way of humility — must become the only one we want to take. That which is hidden deep within us must be brought to the Light. In a sense we come back to the place of our birth and realize we need to take a different path — His way.

“And Joseph also went up…with Mary, his espoused wife…”
All in God’s plan. Joseph and Mary had a destiny and God watched over them as they journeyed among the crowds of people. To fulfill His promise to His servant David, His Son must be born in Bethlehem. Did they sense what an important part they would have in history? Who could have known that what happened to those two ordinary, humble people in an insignificant village would change many people’s lives the world over?

Just like today. God has made His promise to man that “whosoever will may come” and He intends to fulfill this in our lives. He watches as we journey among the crowds of people and slowly He brings us to a crossroads, a place of choosing. Then, if we then choose to walk with Him, the Christ-child is born in our hearts. This gives us a destiny–and how can we know what an important part we may play in changing the course of other people’s lives?

“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.”
All in God’s plan. Not just so people could fault the poor innkeeper all these years for being so hard-hearted. Rather, it seems that God did not want His Son to be born in the inn — as a GUEST — perhaps in the company of the important and well-to-do. In His birth Jesus had not even a room or a bed and in the years of His ministry He had no place to lay His head. He was totally an outsider in this world.

Just like today. Each year at Christmas the normal events of life are disrupted for a season as folks go to and fro, buying gifts, decorating houses and stores, travelling home to their families, gathering for feasting, partying, and generally making merry. But the work God seeks to do in our hearts is something apart from all this. He comes quietly, at any time of the year, whenever a seeking soul opens his heart to Jesus.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

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