Sunday, October 12, 2014

Days of Future Past

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God.  I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. I will call a swift bird of prey from the east— a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do, and I will do it. “Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show my glory to Israel.    Isaiah 46:9-13  NLT

When is the last time you looked at the news and wondered, “What in the world is going on”?  Many people are wondering the same thing and I am sure it has a lot to do with the number of events occurring around the world which many are terming “potentially apocalyptic”.  You can take your pick today from wars, epidemics, natural disasters, predictions of worldwide economic collapse, bizarre weather, famine, and just about anything else to worry about if you are so inclined.  Yet as many struggle to make sense of current events, isn’t it reassuring to know that as believers, we already know exactly what is going on because the God who knows the beginning from the end has already told us?

When people ask me why I study prophecy, of the many reasons I can give I usually always begin by stating what I believe to be the most obvious and that is the fact of prophecy already fulfilled.  You see, my belief that God is in control and has prophesied the future is based on the fact of prophecy already foretold which has accurately come to pass.  In the passage from Isaiah, God states plainly that He is the only one who can accurately predict the future because He is the one who created the plan, and He is the only one who has the power to execute that plan.  He also has chosen to reveal that plan, and we are not the only ones to look around and wonder what in the world is going on.

In the book of Daniel, we are told that God reveals His entire plan for this world to King Nebuchadnezzar, which predictably made no sense to him at all.  Thankfully God in His wisdom provided someone to explain it all to the king, (and to us as well) and this is the person we know as Daniel.  In chapter two of Daniel we find that God revealed His plan to the king by way of a dream, and then sent Daniel to interpret the dream so that he, as well as us, can know exactly what God has planned for this world.

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.          Daniel 2:20-21  NKJV

As might be expected, as ruler of the known world at that time, we will find in the book of Daniel that King Nebuchadnezzar had a rather inflated opinion of himself and his power.  The first thing God lets him know is that as powerful as he may be, his own circumstances were orchestrated by God alone, and it is by His permission that he is king.  God also decided to help prove that point by giving a dream to the king where the future of world history is laid out which would prove not only that God knows the future, but also knew the very thoughts that the king had been contemplating while lying in his bed.

“As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. “But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart. “You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. “This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, “its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. “You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.        Daniel 2:29-34  NKJV

While over the years man has tried to explain the history of the world with untold numbers of books, theories, explanations, entire libraries devoted to the subject, our God manages to do so with a simple illustration of a statue made of four distinct parts, each composed of elements designed to reveal the strength and character of the kingdoms they represent.  Only God could show us the plan He has made for the course of world history from the rule of Nebuchadnezzar to the establishment of His Kingdom on earth with such a simple illustration.

“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. “You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; “and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. “But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. “And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. “Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. “And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. “As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.               Daniel 2:36-43  NKJV

As I said at the beginning, one of the reasons I choose to study prophecy is the amazing fact of already fulfilled prophecy.  At the time of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar was described by God Himself as a “king of kings”, given “power, strength, and glory”.  Yet God also makes it clear that the entire scope of world history will only entail four kingdoms, as illustrated by the statue Nebuchadnezzar sees in his dream.  History has shown this to be a true and accurate description as Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was conquered and replaced by a coalition of the Medes and Persians (the chest and arms of silver), which in turn was conquered by the Greeks under Alexander the Great (the stomach and thighs of bronze), which in turn was conquered by the Roman Empire (the legs of iron).  Yet the Roman Empire was never conquered, but rather dissolved into pieces which, territorially, still exist today

Now what I find to be most interesting about this prophecy given by God is that today, at this point in time, the world has arrived at the last part of the statue where God chooses to describe a kingdom in terms that many find confusing if not difficult to interpret.  Much has been written about the ten toes of iron mixed with clay, and as you can imagine, there are many different interpretations to choose from.  I want to examine this last piece of the dream in greater detail next week, but I will leave you with this to think about.  

Two very obvious facts present themselves as we look at this picture of world history given to us by Our Father in Heaven.  Of the four kingdoms He describes for us, the most valuable was Nebuchadnezzar’s head of gold.  From then on the value of the metals decreases until we arrive at a point in time where the foundation of the statue is worth basically nothing (iron and clay).  Conversely, if you look at the relative strength of the metals you will see that the statue gets stronger as time goes by.  So the obvious conclusion we can all agree with is that God is telling us that at the time of the end, which is where most believers feel we are, His description of the world could be interpreted as strong yet worthless.  Accurate?

Keep watching.