About vonhonnauldt

I'm just an old guy, married to my amazing wife for more than 47 years. We have five children and nine grandchildren. No dogs or cats or fish. Just us two. Sorry about the no picture. Ran out of cameras :) I love to read and teach the Word of God. There's always something new, even in the difficult chapters. Thanks for stopping by. Come visit us at nightlightblogdotcom. We pray God's best for you.

Daniel 7:27, “The Greatness of the Kingdom”

Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, to the saints of the Most High.

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’   (NKJV)

In chapter 2, Daniel foretold that the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, v. 44.  In 7:11, this kingdom is given to One like the Son of Man.  Now, in the interpretation of Daniel’s vision in chapter 7, we discover that the saints will also participate in the kingdom.  In verse 27, several things are said of this kingdom.

1. The splendor of the kingdom, then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven….

In other words, this kingdom is not going to be some little insignificant thing, some mystical something that nobody can really see or touch, and which has very little, if any, influence on the world around it.  There have been times when “the church” has been influential in its surroundings, though not now.  By “the church,” I don’t mean organizations like Romanism or the various state churches of Europe.  “The church” is not some denominational hierarchy, not some monolithic religious structure, not some political entity enforcing submission to a creed or catechism.  Indeed, it has often been these manmade structures, with their political posturing or social agendas, which have been at the forefront of opposition to the people of God.  “The church” is saved people, living out their lives in seeking to please God, and coming together from time to time to praise and worship the God who has saved them, often in the face of great persecution or ridicule.  When God sets up the kingdom the Bible talks about, such persecution or ridicule will not be possible.

We don’t really have any great kingdoms today, egalitarianism has taken care of that, but there have been such in history.  The splendor of ancient Egypt, the riches of the Ming dynasty in China, the far-flung reaches of the British Empire, all these and many others bear eloquent witness to the greatness that earthly kingdoms can achieve.  All this will be wrapped up in and overshadowed by the greatness of the fifth and final kingdom, which will encompass the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven….(emphasis added).  It seems to me that this cannot refer to anything other than an “earthly” kingdom, in agreement with what Daniel said in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream:  the “stone” will grow into a great mountain which will fill the whole earth.

Furthermore, God tells us through Daniel that the rest of the beasts had their dominion taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.  The nations which made up the first four kingdoms still exist in one form or another, but they themselves will one day fall under the sway of the Son of Man and His saints.  As much as some decry the idea of “an earthly, carnal kingdom,” there is coming a kingdom of God which will fill the whole earth.  Peter describes this time as one in which righteousness dwells, or, literally, “is at home,” 2 Peter 3:13.  It certainly isn’t at home in this present evil world.

By the way, the word translated “fill” has the basic meaning, “to be abundant and overflowing”. This kingdom isn’t going to be some “hole in the wall” affair with people hiding in caves and forests, scared to death they’re going to be discovered worshiping God.  No, no.  It will be the answer to that petition in the Lord’s Prayer:  “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” Matthew 6:10, emphasis added.

How is God’s will done “in heaven”?

Joyfully, willingly, completely, openly, only.

There are some today who desire to serve God like that, but they are few and far between in comparison with the earth’s population.  Nevertheless, there is coming a time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea, Habakkuk 2:14.  We don’t really think about this, “the waters cover the sea,” but it’s quite a picture.  If we could take the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, and drop it into the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, there would still be well over a mile of water covering Everest!

And it isn’t just some academic knowledge of God Habakkuk is talking about, reserved for scholars in some dusty hall, it’s the knowledge of the glory of God.  God will be known in His fullness.  He won’t just be shunted off to one side to await our “decision”.  Zechariah 14 gives something of an account of this time.  Though you should read the whole chapter, v. 16 says, And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of the nations who came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  The earth will be filled with worship and praise of Him, as well as obedience to Him, vs. 17-19.

There’s that word again:  “filled” – to be abundant and overflowing.  That certainly isn’t true today, all the varied means of communication we have today notwithstanding.

2. The saints and the fifth kingdom, this kingdom shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.

Who are these people, these saints of the Most High?  This subject is hotly debated.  We’ll postpone our own comments until the next post, where we’ll deal with objections to the idea of an “earthly” kingdom, which the Scriptures clearly teach.  Just in passing, though, for those who believe that the kingdom is only Christ’s “spiritual” rule in the hearts of His people, please note that the kingdom is given to the saints.  To my knowledge, nowhere does the Bible teach that the saints themselves are or ever become “the kingdom”.

3. The certainty of the fifth kingdom, His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom….

Earlier in this chapter, Daniel said, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed, v. 14.  There will never be any “ruins” for future archaeologists to sift through and try to figure out.  There will never be a “sixth” kingdom.  This King is eternal.  His kingdom will be eternal.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

 

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Daniel 7:25-28, When The Time Is Right

25] ‘He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.

26] ‘But the court shall be seated,
And they shall take away his dominion,
To consume and destroy it forever.
27] Then the kingdom and the dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’

28] “This is the end of the account.  As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me; and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.” (NKJV)

In our last post, we looked at several characteristics Daniel gives us of a man called, “the beast.”  We believe this is the same individual called the Antichrist in the New Testament.  Here is the rest of what Daniel says about him.

e. his power, then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.

This is an astounding statement.  This is how the Antichrist will be able to “prevail” against the saints, but why would God give His people over into the hand of His, and their, enemies?

There are two reasons for this.  The Old Testament gives us abundant evidence of one of them:  Israel’s sin.  This will be part of the reason, as we’ll see shortly.  However, there is another reason.  In Daniel 12:10, the angel says, “Many will be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”

In other words, trials and trouble are intended to have a purifying and steadying effect on God’s people.  Peter put it like this in 1 Peter 4:12,

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

This also from Peter, in 1 Peter 1:6, 7:

…though now,… if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being more precious than gold, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

One purpose of trials is to prove the genuineness of faith and to increase it, as we see that God is able in any circumstance to take care of us.  In the US, we don’t know much about the bloodshed other generations, and believers in other parts of the world, have known.  If it comes to us, it will prove who are Christians, and who are just church members….

There is one other thing, of paramount importance.  The saints will be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time (emphasis added).  This statement has caused a lot of discussion.  Though the beast may seem to have unlimited power and might be able to prevail against the saints, yet there is a limit.  His despotism will come to an end.

But what does the phrase “time and times and half a time” mean?  Since Daniel says more about this, we wait til then for further comment.

6. his punishment, But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever, v. 26.  Once the terror of this earth, the beast will be stripped of all his power and, in the words of Daniel, his bodydestroyed and given to the burning flame, v. 11.  There is a corresponding reference to this in Revelation:  Then the beast was captured,,,. and [was] cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone, Revelation 19:20.

There’s a lot that could be said about the fact that the body isn’t all there is to a person.  He has (is) soul and spirit, as well.  The body may die, but the soul lives on.  We read of Adam that when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, he became a living soul.  He was more than just an animated body.  So are we.

The grave is not our final destination.

In the words of Hebrews 9:27, it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement.  As far as this life is concerned, there is an “after”.

There is a time of judgment coming.

But that’s not all Hebrews 9 says.  Verse 28 says, Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.

We didn’t quote all of Hebrews 9:27, 28.  What these verses say is, As it is appointed for men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  The underlined words complete the thought.

The death of Christ wasn’t just some happenstance, some measure dreamed up in a “hastily called meeting of the divine council,” as one Bible scholar” put it.  It bore a direct relation to man’s condition:  he is a sinner, and, as such, under a just condemnation.   

But God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, 1 Corinthians 5:21.  In other words, Christ took to Himself something that wasn’t His – namely, our sins, in order that He might give to us something that wasn’t ours – namely, the righteousness of God.

This is why the Scripture says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

Daniel 7:15-28, Question and Answer

In the first 14 verses of this chapter, Daniel has been given an extensive look at the world’s future as it will unfold in regards to Israel until the coming of One like the Son of Man.

The interpretation of Daniel’s vision is almost humorous in the brevity with which it casually dismisses the four beasts:  “Those great beasts, are four kings which arise out of the earth.”  That’s all, to describe centuries of conflict and upheaval.  At the same time, it’s startling, because of the other statement the angel makes: “but the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and forever.”  This statement means that those who are usually at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak, that is, the saints of the Most High, will one day be on top.  In a nutshell, this is human history from the time of Daniel to its end as we know it.

This cursory explanation doesn’t satisfy Daniel, because he’s burning with curiosity about something in the vision itself.  This brings us to Daniel’s question and it’s answer, both of which are in two parts.

The Question, vs. 19-22.

Repetition, vs. 19, 20.

In this section, Daniel merely repeats what has already been said about the fourth beast, about its dreadfulness and destruction, about the ten horns and “the little horn” and its destruction of three other horns.  There is nothing new here.

Revelation, vs. 21, 22.

Three things, two of which are new, are mentioned here.

1. tribulation, the horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing….  Though the power and destructiveness of the fourth beast was well evident, now we discover that this violence extends to the saints.  Perhaps Daniel was confused about the apparent contradiction in what he saw, that is, that the saints were being defeated, and the angel’s statement that the saints would possess the kingdom.  Persecution of them hasn’t been mentioned until now.

2. limitation, until…the time came….  The violent career of the little horn won’t continue unabated; it has a set limit and a definite end, cf. v. 11.  While things may look black on this earth, there is a God in heaven.  Strange how the idea that God is in control of things upsets people.  I know of people who have actually walked out of a church service when that idea has been broached.  Evidently, it’s ok for Him to he there as long as He does what we want, but otherwise stays out of the way, gives us the things we “name and claim,” and in general acts as a sort of heavenly Concierge to attend to our wishes, but for Him to be God, well, that’s bothersome.  But, thank God, it’s true.

3. transformation, …for the saints to possess the kingdom.   What, exactly, does this mean?  Daniel tells us.

The answer, vs. 23-27.

1. the circumstances of the fourth kingdom, vs. 23-26.

a. its conduct, v. 23.  The destructive violence of this kingdom is readily apparent, but that’s not what’s important in this vision, but its final end, which is what the rest of the explanation is about.

b. its climax, vs. 24-27.

1. the appearance of ten kings, v. 24a.
These ten kings correspond to the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, 2:41-44.  They embody the final form of the fourth kingdom. Remember, we saw that Nebuchadnezzar’s vision was from an earthly standpoint.  There was no consideration of these kingdoms in reference to heaven.  However, in this vision, the relationship is very clear.  In the first vision, the various empires do their own thing with little, if any regard, to the God of heaven; in this vision, they still do their own thing, but a definite rebellion against and opposition to Him develops especially in the final king, the last representative of these kingdoms:  the little horn.

2. the attributes  of the final king, vs. 24-26.

a. his power, he shall subdue three kings, vs. 24.
Nothing more is told of this.  Some have attempted to pinpoint where this has happened in history, but with little success.

b. his pride, he shall speak pompous words against the Most High, v. 25.
Surely, this is the individual written about by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4:
the man of sin…the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Even though this man, whom we call the Antichrist, isn’t here yet, Paul wrote that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.  John wrote that many antichrists have come, 1 John 2:18.  There were “many” in John’s day, and there are certainly many in our day who speak pompous words against the Most High, denying His word, His providence, His creation, His justice, His salvation, even His very existence.  These are but faint shadows of what is to come.
This man can’t reach God, who is as far above him as the heavens are above the earth, so he does what he can –

c. his program, he shall persecute (lit., “wear out”) the saints of the Most High, v. 25b.
I think there is a corresponding prophecy in Zechariah 14: 1, 2.  Writing to and about Israel, Zechariah wrote,
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil shall be divided in your midst.  For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem:  the city shall be taken, the house rifled, and the women ravished.  Half of the city shall go into captivity….
There is much more detail we could add here, but we want to look at one final prophecy from Daniel about this time:  …when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished, Daniel 12:7, emphasis added.  There is coming a time when, to the joy of an unbelieving and hostile world, it will seem like Israel has finally been destroyed.

d. his presumption, he shall intend to change times and law, v. 25c.
We don’t know exactly what is involved here, except that it involves the Antichrist’s desire to supplant and replace the true God in the minds and hearts of men.  This would require getting rid of His word and seeking to thwart His purpose.

From the Book of Revelation, it’s clear that when these events take place, it will be obvious that God is actively involved.  Revelation 6:15 says that the inhabitants of the earth will cry out to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand!”

There will be no doubt about what is going on!

However, and there are many who disagree with me on this, the mystery of lawlessness is already at work,as we’ve seen, and there are many in our own time, as well as throughout Church history, who have changed, or would change, “times,” by denying what the Old Testament foretells.  According to these people, and there are good men among them, everything has already been fulfilled, or there is only a “spiritual” fulfillment.  The Old Testament is not to be taken “literally”.  In the words on one of these scholars, writing about the Book of Revelation, but applicable to the prophetic portions of the Old Testament,

“In the figurative or symbolic language of the Apocalypse hardly anything is called by its ordinary and direct name, but things are indirectly alluded to under some other name, and words have to be understood as implying something else than their ordinary connotations;…” (Willian Ramsey, The Letters to the Seven Churches, p. 111).

Quite frankly, I can’t think of a more damaging or dangerous idea than the idea that any portion of Scripture has “to be understood as implying something else than [its] ordinary connotations….”  This does not deny that there may be symbolic or figurative language involved, but even these convey literal truth, not just abstract “principles” or “processes”.

All this controversy about the Word will come to a head during the time of the Antichrist.  The first recorded controversy at the beginning of human history was when Satan asked Eve, “Has God indeed said?” Genesis 3:1.  The final challenge from him, through the Antichrist, will be, “Whose word will stand, mine or God’s?”

We’ll stop here, but the last question in the paragraph above is as valid now as it will be in the future.  We live in times of increasing wickedness.  Things hidden in secret just a few years ago are glorified and promoted on every hand.  It seems the devil is winning the battle for our hearts and minds.

The thing is, he may be winning the current battle, but the war has already been won.  This world will one day run into the end of God’s patience.  The devil and those who follow him, even unwittingly, will find out to their everlasting loss that there is a God in heaven, and His will be the final word.

But that time hasn’t yet come.

Until it does, the Gospel message is one of hope and deliverance.  It’s one of salvation and deliverance, not necessarily from the ills and cares of this world, but of redemption from that which brings God’s judgment, namely, sin.

When the angel told Joseph about what was happening with his fiancee, he said of her Son, “He shall save His people from their sin, Matthew 1:21.  And so the Scripture says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

 

Daniel 7:9-18: Your Throne, O God, Is Forever And Ever

In the first 8 verses of this chapter, Daniel was given a preview of the four world empires which have impacted, or will yet impact, Israel.  This part of his vision reminds us of what he told Nebuchadnezzar in 2:28.  Kingdoms come and go; they may go on a rampage for a while and ravage the earth, but watching over all things on earth, there is a God in heaven.  This is a theme Scripture never tires of.  Further, there is a kingdom coming which shall not pass away, and…which shall not be destroyed, v. 14.  The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream introduced us to this kingdom, 2:44.  This vision expands on that vision.  In the first part of this vision, there are three scenes:

1. There is a scene of unimaginable solemnity, vs. 9, 10.

From the confused mayhem on earth, we are suddenly transported into the measured order of a courtroom:  “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated,” v. 9.

This isn’t a throne of fellowship, such as described in Exodus 24:9-11,

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel.  And there was under His feet a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.  But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand.  So they saw God, and they did eat and drink. 

Israel had not yet rebelled against God and broken the Mosaic Covenant; once that happened, we read of no further such “fellowship.”  In fact, they were shut out from the presence of God and had to come before Him through an intermediary – the tabernacle and the sons of Aaron and the priesthood.

Nor is it the throne of grace, such as is now available to the children of God for them to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16.    It isn’t the throne of God’s providence, which Ezekiel saw, Ezekiel 1:26-28, nor of His glory, which Isaiah saw, Isaiah 6:1-3.

It’s a throne of judgment:  the books were opened.

This description reminds us of a similar description in Revelation 20:12, where John records,

“I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books,” emphasis added.

In our apostate day, with its unScriptural and humanistic views of the “love” of God, we have forgotten the other side of Paul’s admonition in Romans 11:22, …consider the goodness and severity of God.  People give no thought at all to the fact that they will stand before God and give an account of everything they’ve ever said, done or thought in their lives.  Every bout of drunkenness, every act of immorality or perversion, every tiny lie or twisting of the truth “just a little bit,” every act of greed or injustice.  Every commission, where they’ve done something they shouldn’t; every omission, where they didn’t do something they should have.  Every secret thing.  Every single thing….

Even Christians will give an account to God, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.  Some seem to have the attitude that, since God has forgiven them because of what Christ did on the Cross, it doesn’t matter what they do.  They can live like the world and do what the world does, and it’s ok.  I was working next to such a group of people one day.  Their conversation was about the filthiest things imaginable.  In the midst of this verbal sewage, somehow the conversation got around to religion and the grace of God, and one of them said, “God loves us unconditionally.”  This is undeniably true, but I don’t think she meant it as the Scripture means it.  There is most certainly nothing in us that can cause God to love us, no “condition” we can meet.  The “reason” He loves us is always found in Him, never in us!  At the same time, when we are taught by the Spirit that we are objects of His love, that knowledge makes us want to please Him, not ourselves.  One of the other workers mentioned her enjoyment of a certain “gospel concert.”  It’s a terribly sad, terribly frightening commentary on the state of modern Christianity that professed Christians can wallow in moral filth in one breath and talk about “the love of God” in the next breath and see no inconsistency.

The froth and frivolity of much of what passes for “church” in our day – the “mega-churches,” the “mega-personalities” – would disappear in an instant if we could but get a vision of that One who sits on an eternal throne, high and lifted up, Isaiah 6:1.

On the other side of the ledger, there will be the revelation of and reward for the good things the saints have done, the sacrifices, the service to God which are often ignored, ridiculed or forbidden in this world.  Peter wrote to some people that believers have a living hope, not in this world, but in the fact that there is an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven….ready to be revealed in the last time, I Peter 1:3-5.  Along this same line, Paul wrote that even the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now, Romans 8:21, 22.

Not forever, and, we believe, not much longer, will this world thumb its nose at its Creator God and His Christ, even as Daniel shows us in the next verses.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

2. There is a scene of unimpeachable severity, vs. 11, 12.

This is a continuation of the scene of judgment.  The beast, certainly a man of great presence and power, has set himself against heaven, speaking pompous words, about which more will be said in a minute.  For now, all his braggadocio will come a halt, and he himself is slain, and [his] body destroyed and given to the burning flame.  He had been able to conquer some of his fellows, and had spoken great and proud things, but could not stand against the Ancient of Days.

3. There is a scene of indescribable majesty, v. 13, 14.

In my opinion, these verses form one of the most wonderful passages in the Old Testament.

a. The approach of One like the Son of Man, v. 13.

In contrast to the “beasts” of the earlier part of the vision, here we have One who bears the image of humanity.  We have the advantage over Daniel here, because we know that this One is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  “Son of Man” was one of His favorite titles, used by Himself of Himself many times during His earthy sojourn.  It’s a phrase which means so much more than just “human.”  It carries with it a hint of the Divine.  And of a truth, the Son of Man is also the Son of God.  He is the God-Man, God manifested in humanity.

b. The ascendancy of One like the Son of Man, v. 14.

Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom.  What the “beasts” fought over and killed for will be freely given to the Lord Jesus in order that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  Universal dominion is granted Him, something coveted by the “beasts,” but never really attained.  Not only will this kingdom be universal; it will be eternal.  It’ll never disappear nor be taken away, as were the preceding kingdoms described by Daniel.

Daniel 7: Perspective

To this point in Daniel, all the visions and dreams have happened to other people and Daniel has merely interpreted them.  Now he begins to experience them for himself.  These visions, though happening to different people at different times, are all about the same thing: the future, some of which is future even to us.  Daniel gives us detail not found anywhere else in Scripture.

This particular vision came to Daniel in the first year of Belshazzar, v. 1, or within a few years of the beginning of the Medo-Persian empire under Cyrus.

The chapter may be divided into two sections:

1. Vision and interpretation, vs. 1-18.
2. Question and answer, vs. 19-28.

Daniel’s vision and its interpretation, 7:1-18.

This vision seems also to be divided into two sections:

a. an earthly scene, vs. 1-8.
b. a heavenly scene, vs. 9-14.

An earthly scene, vs. 1-8.

Something to pay attention to in this vision is the different way it views the various empires of which it speaks compared to Nebuchadnezzar’s vision.  Nebuchadnezzar’s vision was of a great image, or statue, 2:31, something man could build and be proud of, something which would show off his ingenuity and skill, a statue made of valuable materials.  Daniel himself described it like this:  this great image, whose splendor was excellent,…and its form was awesome.  Even the least significant part, the feet and toes, was made of ceramic clay, a valuable commodity.  This is, if you will, the earthly viewpoint.

Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 shows these same empires as vicious beasts, mongrel beasts, monstrous beasts, good only to destroy and to be destroyed.  This is the heavenly viewpoint.

Strange, isn’t it, the difference between the two viewpoints.  What fallen man, even religious fallen man, praises and glories in, God finds detestable, Luke 16:15.

As we look more closely at this vision, we see:

A. The first three beasts, vs. 2-6.

We lump these three together because of the relative lack of space given to them as compared with the fourth beast.

1. From later prophecies in Daniel, and from history itself, we know this first beast, vs. 2-4, represents the Babylonian Empire.  Lion-like figures with wings and human heads abound in the ruins of this empire.  The latter description of this first beast perhaps refers to the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar and his restoration, with a consequent lessening of the brutality of the empire.  Cf. the phrase, a man’s heart was given it, v. 4, with the corresponding verses in 4:13-16, where a watcher, a holy one, …from heaven cried aloud concerning Nebuchadnezzar, “Let his heart be changed from that of a man.  Let him be given the heart of a beast.”
Perhaps a key word for this beast is “demeanor,” as Nebuchadnezzar learned the cost and futility of human pride of accomplishment.  This lesson was lost on those who followed him, either in his own family, i.e., Belshazzar, or in the empires which followed.

2. The second beast, v. 5, is Medo-Persia.  The raised side refers to Persia, which was the stronger of the two kingdoms.  The three ribs refer to the three kingdoms this empire destroyed:  Babylon, Lydia and Egypt.  Lydia was a kingdom in approximately the area we know today as Turkey, the area of the seven churches in the Revelation.  Perhaps a key word for this kingdom is “destruction”:  “arise, devour much flesh.”  This kingdom was noted for its rapacity and cruelty.

3. The third beast, v. 6, is Greece.  The beast itself, a leopard, is described as having four wings, which symbolize the rapidity with which Alexander, though not named, conquered the Persian Empire.  The four heads refer to the four generals who served with him and who divided his kingdom after his early death at 33.  The key word for this kingdom is “dominion,” which even the text uses of it.  However, Grecian influence went far beyond the mere conquest of lands and kingdoms.  Alexander’s great desire was to spread Greek culture, including the language, throughout his domain.  So successful was he in this that Greek became the universal language of the day, even down to New Testament times.  Wherever the Gospel went, it could be understood.  The New Testament was written in ordinary, everyday Greek, and even the Old Testament was translated into Greek.  Sometimes that translation is quoted in New Testament uses of Old Testament verses.

A century and a half before the birth of our Lord, it was a ruler of the Seleucid segment of Alexander’s empire, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who did his best to destroy the Jews.  His efforts are prophesied in Daniel.

Finally, Greek customs prevailed even among many Jews.  This led to a culture war, if you will, between those who wanted to remain faithful to their own heritage, customs and language (the “Hebrews”), and those who saw nothing wrong with adapting and conforming to the Greek culture, even to speaking the language (the “Hellenists,” from the Greek word for “Greek”).  The first church dispute, recorded in Acts 6, reflects this dissension:  …there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution, Acts 6:1.  Vs. 1-6 show how wisely that dispute was resolved.  Note the Grecian names of the seven chosen to take care of the problem.

B. The fourth beast, vs. 7, 8.

Again we note that the most space is given to this beast, whose key word is “different.”  Exactly how it is different is not described:  perhaps there are no earthly beasts to which it can be compared.  One difference is that this beast is nowhere identified as to which kingdom it represents.  It is simply a fourth beast, vs. 7, 19, and a fourth kingdom, v. 23.  It is usually identified as Rome, which did indeed defeat Greece and then spread throughout their known world.  This identification in historically tenable, yet it seems this fourth beast of Daniel isn’t quite analogous to Rome.  The Spirit’s own interpretation follows later in the chapter.

There are a couple of things said about this beast:

1. its destructiveness, v. 7.  The description is of an unstoppable “mad dog” sort of beast, tearing and destroying everything in its path.

2. its distinctiveness, vs. 7b, 8.  Again, we’re not told how it is different.  The only description Daniel gives us besides its dreadful teeth and paws is the fact that it had ten horns.  As we’ll see, this is perhaps the most vital part of the vision.  Another horn appears and defeats three of the ten horns.  This “horn” possesses eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.  These speak of intelligence and an insolent attitude, although toward what we’re not yet told, as Daniel’s attention is drawn elsewhere. What he saw, Lord willing, will be in our next post.

Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: Laying the Foundation.

When one builds a building, the first thing he does is prepare some sort of foundation.  Even if it’s just a shed out in the garden, there must be some sort of anchor for the building.  If he’s building a skyscraper, the foundation must go down to bedrock, perhaps dozens of feet, to provide a secure basis for the building.

This vision of Nebuchadnezzar’s is the foundation upon which the rest are built.  And except for his vision of the tree, all the prophecies in the book come together to form a fairly comprehensive picture of the future of God’s people, that is, the nation of Israel, cf. Daniel 9:24.

The occasion of the dream, 2:1, 28, 29.

In 2:29, Daniel told the king, As for you, O King, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed about what will come to pass after this.  Evidently, Nebuchadnezzar had gone to bed one night and began to think about all he had done, the magnificence of his capitol, and the success he had had politically and militarily.  But he knew he wouldn’t live forever, and so perhaps he began to muse and wonder what would happen after he had died.  What would become of all his accomplishments?  In that frame of mind, he drifted off to sleep, and a dream so disturbing that he awoke with a start, and couldn’t go back to sleep.

The purpose of the dream, 2:28, 29, 45.

God wasn’t using this dream merely to satisfy Nebuchadnezzar’s curiosity.  It is true that Daniel told him that “the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this,” but then  he said, “The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”  This wasn’t simply to assure the king that the dream as given was correct, but rather to assure him, and us, that what is revealed will happen.

Furthermore, Daniel started his interpretation in v. 28 by saying, “There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days, emphasis added.  This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered this phrase, about which there is much discussion, and it won’t be the last.

The parts of the dream, 2:31-35.

In this dream, we see the development, deterioration, disintegration, displacement and final destruction of certain world powers, in a description of what our Lord would later call, “The times of the Gentiles,” Luke 21:24.

1. The description of a great image, or statue, vs. 31-33.

This is a straightforward description of a man’s form from head to toe.  It was a statue composed of several materials, from a gold head through silver, brass and iron down to a mixture of iron and clay in its feet.

2. The destruction of the great image, vs. 34, 35a.

There are three elements to this destruction.  A stone cut without hands, that is, of no human origin or effort, struck the image on its feet, with the result that the image collapsed into pieces.  Then the stone crushed the broken image into dust, which the wind carried away till there was no trace of them.

3. The displacement of the great image, v. 35b.

After the destruction and disappearance of the image, the stone…became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

The interpretation of the dream, 2:36-45.

Except for a couple of things, we’re going to leave out the perplexity of Nebuchadnezzar over his dream, and the resultant furor he caused among the court magicians.  There is some discussion over whether or not Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten the dream, but it doesn’t matter.  If he had forgotten it, he would recognize it when described by the magicians, and if he remembered it, he would know whether or not they were indeed able to describe it, and, therefore, as he thought, to interpret it.  We tend to believe that he remembered it, and this was simply a test.

Another thing of note is Daniel’s response to the decree to kill all the wise men.  He and his three friends prayed.  This is another example of his habitual prayer.

Finally, something the wise men said is interesting:  “There is [no one] who can tell the king’s matter,…except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh,”  vs. 10, 11.

It was this very point Daniel emphasized in his response to Nebuchadnezzar:  “but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets,…and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be….  The great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this,” vs. 28, 29, 45.

God is never afraid to meet sinful men on their own ground.  In referring to God’s defeat of Egypt before Israel’s deliverance, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, said, “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them, Exodus 18:11, emphasis added.  In 1 Corinthians 3:19, 20, quoting Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11, Paul wrote, The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness,” and again, “The LORD knows the thoughts of men, that they are futile,” emphasis added.

Here, then, is Daniel’s interpretation of the dream.

1. you are the head of gold, vs. 37, 38.

This dream was Nebuchadnezzar’s.  It had likely come while he was wondering what would become of his kingdom after he died.  It was fitting that the interpretation begin with him:  he is the head of gold, v. 38.

Daniel, however, emphasizes something generally ignored or overlooked by men.  He says, “the God of heaven has given you a kingdom….  He has given them [‘the children of men, birds and beasts’] into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all,” vs. 37, 38.  Certainly and truly, Nebuchadnezzar had conquered most of his world, but it was through that conquest, and not independently of it, that God had put him where he was.

Nebuchadnezzar was on the throne because God wanted him there, Daniel 2:21!  The present occupant of the White House, or the Kremlin, or 10 Downing Street, or leaders in the Middle East or Africa or South America – all are there because God has put them there, not independently of what they have done, but by means of what they have done.  It may seem chaotic to us, but everything moves in perfect accord with God’s purpose, Daniel 4:34; Ephesians 1:11.  It’s hard to understand sometimes, but Scripture says it is so.

2. after you shall arise another kingdom, inferior to yours, v. 39.

As silver is inferior to gold, this second kingdom would be inferior to Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar could do anything he wanted, but Darius, for example, was bound by the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter, 6:8, 12, 15.  The phrase, “does not alter” is, literally, “does not pass away,” which shows how foolish sinful men are.  There is only one King whose Word is settled forever, Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8.  At this time, nothing more is said of this kingdom.

3. a third kingdom of  bronze, which shall rule over all the earth, vs. 39.

Again, nothing more is said of this kingdom.  Note, however, that the various kingdoms decrease in “value” even as they increase in strength:  gold, silver, bronze, iron.

4. the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, (yet flimsy), vs. 40-43.

It will break in pieces all the other kingdoms.  The first three kingdoms are plainly identified in later visions of Daniel.  Though the identity of this fourth kingdom may be known from history as Rome, it is never mentioned by name, either here or in subsequent visions.  In the wisdom and providence of God, there is a reason for this omission, which perhaps we’ll see shortly.

God does say more about this fourth kingdom than He does the other three together.  Not mentioning the legs of the image, though their presence is implicit, Daniel calls attention to the toes, toes and feet which are a strange mixture of iron and clay.  He gives a two-fold interpretation of this conglomeration:

a. It will have great strength, v. 41, the strength of iron will be in it.  That kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others, v. 40.

b. It will have great weakness, v. 42, the kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile [brittle].  They will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay, v. 43.

5. In the face of human effort and failing, God Himself will set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever, v. 44.  This is the stone that struck the image [and] became a great mountain and filled the whole earth that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, v. 35.

But when will He do this?  Or has it already been done?  What does Daniel say?

a. When will God do this?  In the days of these kings, v. 44.

The question then becomes, “Which kings?”  The Reformation Study Bible (RSB) has this note on v. 44:  “The most natural interpretation is that the kings are the rulers of the four powers making up the image just described.  The other possibility is that they are a sequence of several rulers of the fourth kingdom,” (p. 1216).  Just in passing,  I  consider this version representative of current Reformed thought.  As such, I refer to it several times.

Let’s look at this note more closely.  Is there any evidence that God “set up a kingdom” during the Babylonian Empire?  The Persian Empire?  In Greece?  In Rome?  Especially a kingdom that destroys all the rest?  There is one possibility – in Rome, or, more accurately, during the preeminence of Rome.  It was during this time that the Lord Jesus came into the world and was crucified – by a representative of Rome.  In addition, on the same page, the RSB says, “This kingdom was inaugurated and preached at the First Coming of Christ (Mark 1:15; Matt. 12:28; 24:14).” According to this view, then, the kingdom was actually set up some time during the time represented by the middle of the image.  Since there is more said about Christ and His kingdom in Daniel, we’ll leave further remarks about this viewpoint until then.

Actually, we believe there is another possibility, from the text itself.  Here is where we have difficulty with Reformed interpretation of prophecy.  Because, according to them, prophecy doesn’t mean what it seems to say (that is, it’s not to be taken “literally”), close attention apparently doesn’t need to be paid to what it actually says.  The vision clearly shows that the image will be struck on its feet, v. 34.  It seems to me, then, that these kings refers to kings symbolized by the ten toes.  Then, what about them being “a sequence of several rulers of the fourth kingdom”?  I believe John has a reference to these kings in his Revelation: “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast,” Revelation 17:12, 16.  See also Revelation 12:3.  These kings are not sequential; they rule simultaneously.  We grant that John isn’t commenting on Daniel, but he and Daniel saw much of the same future.  Granted, some of what Daniel saw as future was history for John.  Further, these kings are later referred to as “horns” by Daniel himself, Daniel 7:24.

“Feet” would be foundational to any statue; destroy them and you destroy the statue.  However, this isn’t Daniel’s thought.  These kings aren’t “foundational” to the statue or to the governments it represents.  They are the final form of those governments, and it’s during their tenure that the God of heaven will set up a kingdom.

b. Who will do this?  The God of heaven, v. 44.

We do agree with the Reformed view that this kingdom will not come through political maneuvering or military power, as have other kingdoms.  There will be no vote to “approve” it.  We are not going to “bring in the kingdom.”  In fact, if I understand Scripture correctly, this kingdom will be the last thing humanity wants.

The question becomes, what kind of kingdom will God set up?  Ad we’ve already seen, He’s already in absolute charge of all that goes on, as Nebuchadnezzar found out the hard way in chapter 4.  So what kind of a kingdom can God set up that He doesn’t already have?  Perhaps we can find the answer as we go along.  Furthermore, since there is no place where God isn’t already in control, another question might be, where will He set it up?  And when will He set it up?  There’s a great deal of discussion about these questions.

c. What will it be like?  It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms.

Let’s think about this for a minute.  According to Daniel, God’s kingdom will destroy all these kingdoms.  Yet, as we look at history, Babylon wasn’t destroyed by God, at least not directly, but by the Medes and Persians.  The Persians were conquered by Greece, who in turn was defeated by Rome.  Rome as a political entity was finally destroyed by Germanic tribes invading from the North in 476 AD.  Pagan Rome was succeeded, if we can put it like that, by Papal Rome, “The Holy Roman Empire,” a political entity over which the Pope had control.  (It’s interesting that Papal Rome still uses the language – Latin – of Pagan Rome.)  Eventually, it split into east and west (hence, perhaps, the two legs of the image).  In 1870, the Pope’s power was limited to the Vatican, though the Roman church is still very powerful.  If we understand correctly, Papal Rome will continue until a confederation of ten kings under the rule of “the beast” destroys her, Revelation 17:16.

d. it’s endurance, v. 44.

1. It shall never be destroyed, as were all the kingdoms of the image.
2. It shall not be left to other people, that is, it won’t be given to or taken away by someone else, as kingdoms often are today.

e. It’s extent, It (as represented by the stone) became a great mountain and filled the whole earth, v. 35.

Not just some local kingdom, nor even an extensive empire, but a world-wide sovereignty over every part of this planet.  There is much discussion about this, which we’ll enter into shortly.  Not just a statue, but an awe-inspiring mountain, or perhaps a mountain range, which will make the Rockies or the Apennines look like foothills!  Everest will hang its head in shame at the splendor of this mountain!  Perhaps that seems a little too much, but God’s kingdom will certainly be far beyond anything this world has ever experienced.
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It’s common for expositors to go ahead and tell us that the second kingdom is Medo-Persia, the third is Greece and so forth.  We’ve identified them like that ourselves.  However, the Holy Spirit didn’t see fit to have Daniel tell us, or rather, for Daniel himself to learn the names of these kingdoms until chapter 10.  Perhaps the Spirit wants us to focus on this vision and what it says.  We’ve already noted that the rise and fall of kingdoms, though perhaps accompanied by much confusion at the time, are all in tune with what God has told us beforehand.  Nothing catches Him by surprise.  He never has to say, “Oops!”  He has no “Plan B”.  He doesn’t need one.  ( As I’ve written elsewhere, I don’t know about you, but if God had to revise His plan every time I mess something up, He’d be way beyond Plan B!)  We grant this is contrary to much preaching today.  Nevertheless, “there is a God in heaven,” and there are a couple of things to emphasize from this vision.  First, God’s kingdom will supersede and destroy all human kingdoms.  Second, it will fill the whole earth.  These thoughts will be expanded in later visions.

Though we’ve mentioned it before and will have more to say as we go along, it’s again noteworthy that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was not interpreted as “principles” or “ongoing processes,” but as events, that is, things which would actually happen and which could be and, in many cases have been, individually and historically verifiable.  In fact, as we’ve already noted, there is so much detail given with such accuracy that unbelieving scholars deny that it is prophecy at all, but was written well after the fact by someone using Daniel’s name

“There Is A God In Heaven”

There is a great deal that could be said about this, but we’re interested mainly in the name or description of God that is used several times in Daniel.  That name is El Elyon, used most notably in chapter 4, where Nebuchadnezzar learns that there is someone higher than he is, someone he begins to understand who rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will, Daniel 4:17, 25, 32.  In that same chapter, the name also occurs in vs. 24 and 34, and it occurs as well in Daniel 5:18, 21.

Regarding this confession of Nebuchadnezzar, there are some who believe that he was converted.  I disagree.  Even though he was compelled to acknowledge the God of heaven, there is no evidence that he ever submitted to the God of heaven.  Even in his celebrated “confession of faith” in Daniel 4, (in which he does exhibit a higher view of God than many professing Christians), he makes an incredible statement about Daniel.  After admitting the failure of his own magicians and wise men to interpret a certain dream, he says, “But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the spirit of the Holy God), Daniel 4:8, emphases added.  In this statement, he plainly says that “the Holy God” is not “his god.”

It seems to me that the whole thrust of the Book of Daniel is to answer the question, “Who’s in charge?”  Nebuchadnezzar thought he was, and so did those who followed him.  Men still think that today, whether at the highest levels of government or among those whom they govern.  There is often a blatant denial of God’s existence or a complete disregard for what He has said.  Even when He’s “believed in,” it’s too often with thoughts along the line, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.”  Even in “church,” He’s often relegated to a secondary place, as churches are more interested in buildings and budgets, politics and power, “health and wealth,” “nickels and noses,” that is, how much the offering was  and how many attended Sunday School or the morning service….  The preaching seldom extols Him, but implores people to “open the door and let Him in.”  He’s on the outside looking in and they have to take the first step toward Him before He can take a step toward them.

All this mischaracterization of God is answered by Daniel’s simple assertion:  “There is a God in heaven.”

Who is this God?

The name El Elyon tells us a great deal about Him.  The name is first used in Genesis 14:19, 20, where Melchizedek calls Him God Most High.  Abraham repeats and defines this name to the king of Sodom, who is offering him a substantial reward for help in defeating the king’s enemies.  Abraham refuses, saying that he had made a promise to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth that he would’t take even the smallest reward, even as much as a shoe lace.

The fact that humanity has rebelled against God and lives in more or less open defiance or ignorance of Him doesn’t diminish the fact that He owns this ball of dirt we live on and everything and every one on it.  Very early in Israel’s history, when He was giving them the conditions under which they would remain in the land, God told them the conditions under which they would also remain as “a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine,” Exodus 19:5 emphasis added.  It’s His to do with as He sees fit.

Along these same lines, just a couple of chapters later, Daniel makes an astounding statement to Belshazzar, who was Nebuchadnezzar’s son, or grandson, because of Belshazzar’s blasphemous misuse of the Temple vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar many years earlier.  You know the story.  During a drunken banquet, Belshazzar had commanded that these vessels be brought in to be used in idolatrous honor and worship of his own gods.  A hand suddenly appeared and began to write on the wall.  Daniel was brought in to interpret this writing.  After recounting Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness and the insanity which only ended when he recognized the God of heaven, Daniel says this to Belshazzar:
“But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.  And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven.  They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them.  And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see nor hear nor know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified,” Daniel 5:22, 23, emphasis added.

As troubling at the thought may be to some that God “owns” the ways of a drunken idolater, who believe that God must wait patiently on the sidelines of His own creation until we decide to send Him into the game, the simple fact is that God is in heaven and He is in charge.  Belshazzar was as much in His hand as Daniel.  This doesn’t mean that God approved of, was accountable for, or accepted what Belshazzar did.  It simply means that in the midst of Belshazzar’s deliberate and drunken defiance of God, God was as in control of the situation as He was when Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den.

Centuries later, Paul put it more generally to a bunch of Greek intelligentsia on Mar’s Hill:  the God who created everything has no need for men to “take care of Him,”
“since He gives to all life, breath, and all things,…and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,” Acts 17:24-26.

Daniel and Paul aren’t the only one with this high view of God.  Centuries before them, David had put it on a personal level in Psalm 139:16, Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.  

To Jeremiah himself, God said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.  Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  And Paul wrote something similar about himself, …it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace…, Galatians 1:5.

To Sennacherib, an enemy of Israel, God declared, “Did you not hear long ago how I made it, from ancient times that I formed it?  Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be for crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins…, Isaiah 37:26.  He goes on for a few verses after this, but these and the other verses, as well as many others in Scripture, amply verify that, in the words of Daniel, “There is a God in heaven.”

Simply put, history is only God performing in time what He planned to do before time.  All prophecy is simply the unfolding before it happens of “preappointed times.”  The old idea that God has an office full of angels busily writing down everything that happens (or, I suppose, to update the image, “inputting” into their computers) is not Scriptural.

Speaking of “prophecy,” does it really matter, all this fuss about it?  What a person might believe about it doesn’t determine whether or not they are saved.  It’s commonly said that prophecy isn’t really one of “the fundamentals of the faith,” not really something to break fellowship over.  That might be true to a certain extent.  Perhaps prophecy isn’t as important as what you believe about the deity of Christ, or the inspiration and authority of the Bible, or a number of other doctrines.  There are saved people in all camps of prophecy and there are lost people in all of them.  Does it really matter then, for example, if the Bible teaches that there is an earthly element to the “kingdom of Christ,” in which He will rule over this world for 1000 actual years?  Or if those Old Testament prophecies of a coming kingdom just find their fulfillment in Christ’s “spiritual” rule in the hearts of His people?  Or perhaps they will all come to pass in eternity, when this world’s sad history is over and done with.  Does it really matter??

While it is certainly true that one can be saved regardless of his or her views on prophecy, I do think it does matter what one believes about it.  After all, about 1 verse in 4 verses in Scripture is prophecy, some of which has been fulfilled and some of which has not.  All these verses are as inspired by the Holy Spirit as the others, and I think it’s a great insult to Him to say that it doesn’t really matter what He says in them.

At the same time, there are good men on all sides of the question.  So, though perhaps useful to know, it’s not of great importance what Dr. So-and-So or Pastor Such-and-Such teaches about the subject.  May we in all humility ask Paul’s question in Romans 4:3, “..what does the Scripture say?”  What does God say about the future?

One final thought for those concerned about “free will” in discussions of God’s sovereignty.  In addition to the Scriptural teaching that God is in control of this world and its inhabitants and happenings, note that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar did exactly what they wanted to.  Nebuchadnezzar wanted to be a great conqueror and ruler of the world.  He was.  Belshazzar wanted to throw a party.  He did.  Neither of them was the least bit concerned about the God – “god” to them – of a bunch of captives and slaves.  Yet both of them were absolutely in the hand of that God.  So is humanity.  It always has been.

There is a God in heaven.