Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oil and Water

“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. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven 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.                                  Daniel 2:40-44  NKJV
As much as I might not wish to admit it, much of who I am is a result of the times in which I was raised.  What I often hesitate to admit is just how long ago that was.  Does anyone else remember sitting in Sunday School and being taught Bible stories with a flannel board and illustrated figures?  Do they even make Bibles anymore with pictures in them?  I grew up loving illustrations simply because they made it so much easier to remember, and I can still recall hearing those stories and looking through my parents’ Bible at all of the pictures when I was a child.

In this story from Daniel it appears that God too, is a believer in illustrations as a way to help man remember something important.  In this case we find the course of human history from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to the Second Coming of Christ illustrated by a simple statue made up of different materials.  As we said last week, there is a progression shown to us which illustrates that while the strength of nations appears to increase over time, their relative value decreases until we reach a point where there are only two elements present, iron and clay, which according to God will not “adhere” to one another.

The word translated “adhere” is the Aramaic word “debaq” which literally means to cling to, or also from its root word, stick closely to or be joined together.  When we couple this with the illustration of ten toes which represent ten different kingdoms the picture we are shown by God is pretty clear.  At the end of this age, just before Christ returns to earth and when God will establish His Kingdom, the world is described as one kingdom with one ruler, divided into ten different territories with ten different kings who obviously choose to work together, but according to God, never really “adhere” to one another.

Now many of us are familiar with this scenario, which has been the subject of many books and movies about the coming tribulation, and the troubles which will come to this world at the end of this present age.  Many are looking for, and speculating on, the emergence of these ten “nations” or territories as a sign of our arrival at the time of judgment.  Yet there is something about this illustration which I feel is often overlooked in all of the discussion about the ten nations and that is simply this; what about the fact that the entire world is divided into only two categories; iron or clay?

You see, in all the study I have done, no one really spends any time trying to identify exactly what the iron and clay represent other than acknowledging that there is a difference present.  Now since it is the entire world being represented here it follows we are not talking about the difference between Republicans and Democrats, but on the other hand that really isn’t such a bad illustration.  The world will arrive at a point where there is a division among its population which appears to defy agreement and have no solution.  So we are left to decide just what it might be that divides people so strongly.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”        Daniel 9:27  NKJV

We are told by Daniel in this passage that the coming man of sin, or antichrist, will enforce a treaty which produces a type of peace which the entire world, willingly or reluctantly, agrees to.  However, at the midpoint of this seven year agreement the antichrist does something which obviously divides the world.  Although often perceived as an offense to Israel because of the decision to end worship in the temple in Jerusalem, I would like to suggest that there is another, sometimes overlooked, aspect to his decision to do this which may serve as the dividing point of the entire world.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, 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.                                               2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  NKJV

Paul tells us here that the antichrist intends to sit in the temple itself and proclaim to the world that he is God.  Now is it just me, or do you agree this might well be a statement which could divide the entire world into two distinct groups?  As I said before, there are other interpretations of the meaning of the iron and clay illustration, but to me, this seems to be a simple, if not logical answer to the question.  Another fact that not many are aware of is that along with being the fastest growing religion in the world, Islam has its own eschatology about the end of the world and this scenario may well come into play.

According to Islam, at the end of this age there will be three great signs which will announce the arrival of the time of judgment and these three signs are all in the form of people.  The first is the Mahdi, who will arrive to set up a Islamic world order, and force the world to accept Islam as the only religion.  The second is Jesus Christ, who they believe to be only a man who almost died but was saved by Allah and will return after the Mahdi in order to help him.  The third person is Al-Masih ad-Dajjal, known simply as the Dajjal, who is the Islamic version of the Christian antichrist.  Among other things, he will claim to be God and attempt to kill the Mahdi and Jesus, however the Islamic Jesus will kill him instead.

The Bible tells us that the coming man of sin will somehow establish some sort of peace which the entire world will buy into for a time.  Yet when he decides to sit in the temple and proclaim himself to be God and demand to be worshipped, the entire world is forced to choose sides.  Oil and water do not mix.  You can put it in the same container, but although forced to coexist each retains its own character and is never really changed.  It might seem to be a stretch to think half of the world would accept someone like the antichrist as truly being God, yet recent history shows how easily people will buy into someone’s claim that they have all the answers and choose to blindly follow.  

I think it is perfectly obvious that the world is being prepared for this very event.  The problems we see occurring every day and the number of troubles we find the world being faced with are rapidly multiplying and it would appear the stage is being set for someone to arrive on the scene and proclaim to the world that he has all the answers.  Fortunately for those who choose to believe in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is one event which must occur first.  The rapture of all true believers will be the event which opens the door for the final manifestation of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, the feet of iron and clay, and it could happen at any time.

If you have never made the choice to accept the gift of eternal life which Jesus has provided by choosing to die on the cross for our sins, I urge you to do it today.  Simply pray to our Father and confess that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness and ask Him to come into your life and make you new, and from this day on live as He directs.  He promises to not only forgive, but to give the gift of the Holy Spirit which will live inside our hearts to teach us and help us to live in this world the way He wants us to.

Keep watching.