Back To The Future II (Prophecies of Daniel)

posted in: Messages | 0
So far we have covered the first 5 chapters which brought us through the church age, the rapture, and the throne room scene where the climax or pivot point of the history of the world happened. And now, for a few weeks we are going through some of the extremely important background information that we will need to be able to fully comprehend the events of the rest of Revelation. Last week I shared with you the big picture view of history and how the covenants that God made with man are the ultimate reason for why the events of the end times play out the way that they do. If you missed anything up to this point, be sure to catch up because all of the information from this point forward builds on itself.
Last week we zoomed way out to see all of human history in one picture. This week, we are going to zoom in a bit and look at some parts of human history that played out just as Gods prophets predicted they would. In other words, we are going to look at some of the prophecies in the Old Testament and see how they came true years later for the prophets, but in the past for us. 
The reason we are doing that is because when we see how prophecy has already been fulfilled, it can give us confidence that the prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled certainly will be. And also, especially when that prophecy is full of visions, it will help us when it comes to interpreting visions of the future because a lot of the symbolism is the same.
But before we get started, let’s pray.

Most of the prophecies we look at today will be in the book of Daniel, but before we do that I want to show you a little nugget from Genesis that you may or may not know was there.
As I mentioned last week, God made a covenant with Abraham regarding his descendants and the promised land. Well, as God was making that covenant with Abraham (then still Abram), God also gave him this look into the future.
Genesis 15
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
God made this prediction before Abraham even had Isaac, who was the father of Jacob, who became Israel and had 12 sons, 11 of which sold their one brother, Joseph into slavery, only to bow down to him a few decades later when they needed to come to him in Egypt to survive the famine. Their whole family settled there and over 400+ years multiplied greatly to the point that the Pharaoh tried to kill them off by murdering their babies (not much different than the great abortion industry of today except they waited until after birth to murder unwanted babies) – anyway, Moses was saved in the little basket in the bullrushes, grew up as a son of Pharaoh, killed a guy and spent 40 years in the wilderness herding sheep before he saw God in the burning bush. He went back to Egypt and through a series of 10 plagues led the Israelites out of Egypt with great possessions. That’s right, as they were leaving, God specifically instructed them to ask for gold and silver from the Egyptians they were leaving, and guess what – the Egyptians gave it to them. Fast forward another 40 years while they wandered in a different wilderness, they finally enter the promised land under the leadership of Joshua and started conquering people like the Amorites. They did a lot of damage, but unfortunately did not finish the job – hence the book of Judges and all the curses for disobedience that we talked about last week.
So, God laid out about 600 years of history for Abraham before even the first promised son was born, and it played out just as God said it would.
Here is just one example of fulfilled prophecy – down to every detail. Now, you can assume like many bible scoffers that these prophecies were written after the fact. Or you can believe the bible as it is and see that God indeed knows the future before it happens. I would hope that my talk last week would convince you that this book, from Genesis to Revelation is truly one story that could not have been written by mere men.
There are other fulfilled prophecies strewn throughout the Old Testament, but today I want to focus the rest of our time on the amazing book of Daniel.

The book of Daniel was written by the prophet Daniel who lived during the time of the Jewish Exile to Babylon. In fact, he was among the first group that was taken captive.
Daniel and a few of his friends were chosen out of the captives for special service for King Nebuchadnezzar because they were of noble birth and apparently rather smart and good looking. You may know his friends as Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego.
I’ll leave you to read the story parts of Daniel for yourself, and I encourage you to do so, even if you think you know them already from hearing about them as a child. 
Anyway, sometime after he was fully integrated into the kings group of “wise men”, the King had a dream that troubled him that he wanted his wise men to interpret. But, instead of telling them what the dream was, he insisted that they tell him the dream itself, and the meaning. Well, obviously none of them could, so the king ordered that all of them be killed. When Daniel heard of this, he asked to speak with the king – apparently he had not been among the group that the king was originally talking to. He asked the king for a little more time, which was granted, and then he went off and prayed.
The next day, he had an answer for the king. We find the story in Daniel 2. Just listen and look at this picture. Or follow along in your own bible.
Daniel 2 – the Statue
29 “As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.
 
31 “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
 
36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
 
39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
 
44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
 
“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
Pretty cool stuff. But, before I dive into the details, I’m going to share with you another vision that Daniel himself has a few chapters later, because the two are linked and I want to go through them together. This vision happens some years later- happening after most of the Daniel stories you may know like the Den of Lions and the Fiery Furnace. There’s also a new king.
Again, just look at the picture and listen. Or follow along with your own bible.
Daniel 7 – Four Beasts
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
 
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
 
“The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
 
“And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
 
“After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
 
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
 
“While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
 
“As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
    the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
    and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
    coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
    ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
    and the books were opened.
 
11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
 
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
 
The Interpretation of the Dream
 
15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.
 
“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’
 
19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
 
23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.
 
26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’
 
28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts,and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

There’s a good amount of interesting stuff in those two visions. If you were here last week, some of the vision about the beasts should sound familiar to you. I wanted to read both chapters in full so you can see the full context of what we will be covering today, which is the four kingdoms that the statue and the four beasts represent. We will not be getting into the future stuff today, but I wanted you to be able to see it in connection with the fulfilled parts of the visions I’m about to cover.
Now, one thing to remind you of, that I talked about last week is the Age of the Gentiles. These visions actually depict the progression of the Age of the Gentiles. A period of time that Jesus described as the time when Jerusalem would be trampled by Gentiles. In other words, a period of time when Israel would no longer be completely in control of itself.
And the book of Daniel is written at the very beginning of that age after Babylon had conquered Jerusalem, and it continues still today and won’t end until the second coming of Christ.
So, what we will see in these visions are the successive kingdoms that have dominated Israel.
Let’s look at them together.  And for that, I have another picture.  I had to distort the beasts picture to make it fit better. I hope you don’t mind.

The first kingdom is represented by the gold head and the first beast that looks like a lion.
This kingdom is Babylon. We know that, because Daniel specifically says that the head of gold is King Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 2
37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
Then he says that the next kingdom will be inferior to his. And this makes sense in the statue vision as each material as you go toward the feet is inferior to the other in worth. Gold, then silver, then bronze, then iron, then clay. We will see what exactly that means in a minute.
The image of lion with wings was also fitting for babylon since it’s actual symbol was a flying lion. But there is even more of a parallel in what happens to the lion in the vision.
Daniel 2
 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
The transformation into a human is fitting because of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar. He became prideful at one point and so God made him go insane and live like an animal for seven years. When he came out of it, he finally acknowledged God as the most high rather than himself.

So, clearly the first kingdom is Babylon, which conquered Israel in 605 BC and ruled until 539 BC when it was conquered by the
Medo-Persian empire under the rule of Cyrus the Great.

It’s called the Medo-Persian empire because it was originally two kingdoms. The Medes were a kingdom in present day Iran dating back to 728 BC. And the Persians, lead by Cyrus the Great conquered the Medes and the Lydians, and eventually Babylon in 539 BC without even having to fight. Basically, they stopped the flow of water to the river that ran right through the city, and then marched into the city on the dry riverbed and surprised them. The “writing on the wall” story of Daniel 5 tells the same story from the perspective of the Babylonians. You should read it.
Anyway, this kingdom ruled the “world” from 539 BC until 331 BC. Their territory spanned three continents and ruled some 20% of the world, including Jerusalem.
It was actually King Cyrus that allowed the jews to go back to Jerusalem, ending the 70 years of exile. He allowed them to go home and rebuild, but they were not independent of his rule.
And the fact that he did that was itself prophesied by the prophet Isaiah more than 100 years earlier. And not only was the historical event predicted – but Cyrus was predicted by name.
Isaiah 44
24 “This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
    the Maker of all things,
    who stretches out the heavens,
    who spreads out the earth by myself,
25 who foils the signs of false prophets
    and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
    and turns it into nonsense,
26 who carries out the words of his servants
    and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
    of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
    and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
    and I will dry up your streams,’
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
    and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’
How awesome is that! Before Cyrus was even born, and before Israel was even in captivity, God told his people that Cyrus would be the one to restore them. Again, God’s word can be trusted.
From the statue, we know that the Medo-Persion empire was inferior to Babylon in some way. It wasn’t in strength, obviously, so it must have been something else. It turns out that king Cyrus, although great and all – actually did not have the same kind of absolute authority that power that Nebuchadnezzar had.
Nebuchadnezzar had absolute and complete authority to do and make others do whatever he pleased at any given moment. He could change his mind at will and it would be carried out. The Medo-Persian rulers could not do that. They were actually bound by previous decrees made by themselves or previous kings. A good example is when Daniel was sentenced to the lion’s den after the king made a decree that no one could pray to anyone but himself – even after he realized he had been tricked, he could not change his decree and had to condemn Daniel to death.
 
But it turned out to just be another chance for God to show His power!  Because that’s when God shows up the biggest, is when we are at our lowest. Indeed, it is true that when we are weak, it is then that He is strong in us.
And so, now we know what the “inferiority” applies to. It applies to the power and authority of the leader of that kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar had as much as humanly possible. Cyrus had to follow some rules. And the follow on kingdoms will see the pattern continued.
Other aspects of this kingdom that match the visions: The split nature of the kingdom, being made up of really two kingdoms, is shown in the two silver arms of the statue and the leaning to one side of the bear. Let’s revisit that part of the vision:
Daniel 7
“And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
The Persians were much stronger than the Medes, and so it was not an equal union – hence the bear being somewhat lopsided. The three ribs represent the three kingdoms that the Persians conquered – the Medes, the Lydians, and Babylon.  And the bear as the image is fitting since it matches their means of conquering by sheer brute force and overwhelming numbers. Some battles reported saw a million soldiers invading enemies.
And so, the second kingdom is clearly the Medo-Persians.

After them came the Greeks, represented by the bronze thighs and the leopard-like beast. 
“After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
 
In 334 BC, Alexander the Great began to defeat Persian forces in the west. He advanced quickly (like a leopard) and eventually conquered the entire Medo-Persian Empire in four years (hence the four wings, representing even more speed). By 330 BC, the Greek Empire spanned from Europe to Babylon and included Jerusalem.
That same year, Alexander died suddenly of an illness. After which his kingdom was divided into four kingdoms lead by his four generals, two in the west and two in the East. Hence the four heads on the beast and the split into the two legs from the abdomen on the statue.
The authority structure of the Greeks was inferior to Medo-Persia and Babylon in that it allowed local governments to maintain their structure and leaders rather than force their will on all subjects, like the others before it. We, in our American Democracy see that as a better form of governing than a sole absolute authority – clearly God does not – as we will see when Jesus rules as King. He will be even more powerful than Nebuchadnezzar.

And so, the bronze part of the statue and the four headed leopard clearly represent the Greeks, who ruled the known world, including Jerusalem, from 334 BC until they were ousted by the Romans around 63 BC – at least as far as Jerusalem is concerned.

Let’s look again at the interpretation of this part of the statue:
Daniel 2
40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
 
The Roman Empire certainly fits the pattern. In the statue they are represented by iron legs- strong and crushing – that taper down to feet that are mixed iron and clay – indicating a few things, including that this kingdom would start very strong but end up being a bit convoluted.
I’ll tell you now that we are in the time of the iron and clay mixture. It makes sense. Remember, we’re focused on Jerusalem and the surrounding area – not America. In fact, you might as well stop thinking about how we fit into all of this because everything we will be studying will be centered around Jerusalem – not us.
Anyway, the statue shows how the Roman empire faded into a conglomeration of many nations that still retain the essence of the Roman empire, but not entirely. Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East are all descended from the Roman Empire and still have some family resemblance. We are also a product of that in America, taking a lot of our form of government from the Roman republic.  There is also still a significant East-West split among the modern nations, as indicated by the two legs of iron. And overall they are definitely partly strong and partly brittle, and a mixture that will not remain united. 
In the vision of the beasts, this kingdom is described…
 
Daniel 7
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
 
Again we see iron and the crushing and devouring and breaking. However, for this beast he does not try to compare it to any other animal he knew of, so artists have often made it to look like a dinosaur of some kind.
The beast has ten horns, like the ten toes. Horns are a symbol of power, authority, and often specifically of rulers. So, the ten horns indicates a kingdom with many rulers – which matches what I’ve already described. We will talk more of the significance of the ten later in this series.
Now, both visions continue after the fourth kingdom start talking about things that are still future to us. I won’t be covering those parts today, but I’ll give you a spoiler alert – the little boastful horn in the fourth beast is the anti-christ. And the stone that smashes the statue is the Kingdom of the returning Christ. But we won’t be getting into that today because there are more prophecies in Daniel about this same time period that further cement the truthfulness of God’s Word.

Next, we will be looking at Daniel 8, where Daniel has another vision. Again, you can look at the picture or follow along in your own bible. I encourage you to bring one.
Daniel 8
In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susain the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.
 
As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
 
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
 
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?”
 
14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”
 
The Interpretation of the Vision
 
15 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.”
 
17 As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”
 
18 While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.
 
19 He said: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. 20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king.  22 The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
 
23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
 
26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.”
 
27 I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.
Again, some pretty cool stuff. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the ram and the goat because the interpretation literally named the kingdoms of Media, Persia, and Greece, just as we learned from the statue and other beasts.
Again we see horns are representing kingdoms and kings.
Now, in this vision it seems to jump from Greece to the end without talking about what we would think is Rome, but really it does just without making a big deal of it. The Roman empire came out of the fractured Greek empire, and really the Roman Empire was just a different version of the Greek Empire, and most of our modern world is just an extension of both.

So, now we have so far seen three separate visions that predict the successive world powers that follow Babylon in controlling Jerusalem and perpetuating the age of the Gentiles. Remember, now that all of this is centered around Jerusalem.  Which becomes very important to remember when we get to the last prophecy of the book of Daniel, the one that talks about the king of the north and the king of the south.
It is found in Daniel 11 & 12 and is the most detailed of all the prophesies in the bible. It is so detailed in fact that many try to claim that it was written after the fact of the history that it predicts.
This prophecy is not in symbols but comes from the mouth of an angel that visits Daniel in chapter 10.
 
Daniel 10
20 So he (the angel) said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince. And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.)
He’s about to tell him what is written in the Book of Truth…pretty cool. Unfortunately I don’t have time to get into the whole fighting the prince of Persia and Michael stuff today – maybe another time. Right now I want you to see this amazing prophecy.
Daniel 11
“Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
 
This first part of the prophecy basically further confirms what we’ve already seen in the other visions. He speaks of three more kings of Persia after Cyrus, and then a fourth who is more powerful. That fourth, it turns out, is King Xerxes who was indeed quite more powerful than his predecessors. Here’s hollywood’s version of him.
The “mighty king” that soon after defeats Persia is none other than Alexander the Great of Greece who conquers Persia quickly and then dies and his kingdom is divided into four and ruled by his generals rather than his young descendants. And the divided kingdom will never be as powerful as he was again.
Next, the prophecy goes into this long and detailed litany about the king of the north and the king of the south and all the back and forth of their power over Jerusalem (which remember is the center of this, so the king of the north is north of Israel, and the king of the South is south of Israel). In history, these two kingdoms are two of the four kingdoms that came from Greece: The Egyptian Ptolemy kingdom in the south and the Syrian Seleucid kingdom in the north. 
The dynasties of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fought for some 130 years until Rome finally took them both down. The stronger of the two always held dominion over Israel.
Now, I would love to take you verse by verse though it and explain all the historical events that happened between these two kingdoms that are described in the prophecy, but I don’t have time, and if I did – as interesting as it sounds, it would probably make your eyes gloss over because it’s just really difficult to follow unless you go through it slowly.  I’ll include a few links in my notes to some commentaries you can read on your own if you wish. I do recommend it as it is amazing how specific and accurate this prophecy is about generations of history.
For now, I’ll fast forward to verse 31. At this point in the story, the prophecy is referring to Antiochus IV of the Northern kingdom around 160 BC, otherwise known as Antiochus Epiphanes. This man was a vile man – contemptible as the prophecy calls him. He is basically a prototype of the antichrist.
The following part of the prophecy describes something terrible that he did.
 
Daniel 11
31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
 
In 167 BC – Antiochus Epiphanes did just that. After slaughtering a bunch of Jews, he stopped the sacrifice in the Jewish temple and set up an image of Zeus at the temple altar and demanded sacrifices be made to the image. He later desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar (pigs are unclean animals for Jews).
This resulted in some of the Jews just going along with it, as it says “he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant” but for many other Jews this was the last straw and resulted in the Maccabean revolt and the temporary independence of Jerusalem until the Romans moved in – “the people who know their God will firmly resist him.”
This all happened in the intertestamental period – the time between the end of our Old Testament and the beginning of our New Testament.  I encourage you to do some reading on the Maccabean revolt and dynasty. It was out of this that the Pharisees and Sadducees we see in the Gospels formed. In the beginning, at least for the Pharisees, they were trying to get back to strict adherence to the Law of God in hope that their obedience would bring about the nation’s independence and restoration, but it eventually devolved into the self-rightousness that Jesus confronted.
The rest of chapter 11 talks more of the conflict that arose. Then it abruptly shifts to what most commentators agree is now talking about the antichrist and his kingdom and the final battles and his end. You should read it, but don’t worry we’ll be looking at it in detail later.
Then the prophecy continues in chapter 12 with something that should sound familiar.
Daniel 12
1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
 
There we see that “time of distress” like no other. We also see the salvation of Israel, the resurrection, and the final judgment.
There is more to this prophecy in the rest of the chapter that I won’t get into today, but we will definitely see it later.

Because the whole point of what I covered today was to show you that you can trust the Word of God.
Prophecy after prophecy fulfilled with alarming accuracy and detail. And I only covered a few of them. That’s not to mention the plethora of prophecies about Jesus, of which he fulfilled very one, and of course, all the covenants I covered last week and how they have been and will be fulfilled in the end.
For each of the prophecies I covered today from Daniel – four of them in all – each prophecy covers a period of time and events that were all future to Daniel at the time, but from our place in history they are partly in our past and partly in our future.
And if you can see that the parts that are in our past were fulfilled completely and accurately, then it would be safe to assume that the parts that are future to us will also be fulfilled completely and accurately.
In fact, based on those prophecies and the ones we are going to see in Revelation, it would be extremely UNSAFE to assume anything other than the fact that just like the covenants of last week, every word from God WILL HAPPEN JUST AS HE SAID. 

And before I close today, I feel it necessary to point something out about the final kingdom that was represented in the statue as the stone not cut by human hands. Let’s revisit that for a second.
Daniel 2
34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
Now, recall that in the vision of the statue, each successive kingdom was inferior to the previous in the level of power held by the leaders of said kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar was at the top having complete and total authority to do whatever he wished. He answered to no on except God.
 
Well, this final kingdom being a stone not cut by human hands is another way of saying it’s not even a material found on this earth. In other words, it is superior to the golden head. That is further emphasized by the fact that said stone completely destroyed the rest of the statue to the point there was nothing left of it. Then that stone became a mountain (or a kingdom) that didn’t only have control of the KNOWN world, like the others, but literally the WHOLE WORLD.
 
And as the stone is superior to the gold of the statue, so will the ruler of the Kingdom of God be even more powerful and absolute than any human king could possibly be. Because not only will Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, be all powerful – he is all knowing as well. Something not even Nebuchadnezzar could be.
 
And so the Kingdom of God, in stark contrast to the kind of government we live under, is anything but a democracy or republic.

God’s Kingdom is not of the people, by the people, and for the people. God’s kingdom is of Christ, by Christ, and for Christ. In other words, in the Kingdom of God, we don’t rule or even have a vote or a say – God rules, absolutely and completely.

 
Which is why salvation – or entrance into God’s kingdom – requires allegiance from the start. Jesus is not just our savior – He is our king.
 
In fact, if he is not your king, then he is also not your savior.
 
Romans 10:9 makes it clear that in order to be saved you must confess Jesus as LORD, KURIOS, MASTER. Which means more than “say” He is Lord, but to actually MAKE Him your Lord.
 
This is why Jesus made it clear in Matthew 7 that it’s not those who only SAY “Lord” who enter the kingdom, but those who actually do the will of His Father. Who obey the king.
 
In fact, this was the very Gospel message that Jesus preached from the beginning of His earthly ministry: “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (the good news)” (Mark 1:15)Notice that Jesus was preaching THE Gospel BEFORE he died for our sins.
 
Because the Gospel is first and foremost about the kingdom. The same kingdom we see in the prophecies of Daniel that will destroy and outlast all earthly kingdoms. 
 
And the Gospel, or good news, that Jesus was preaching then and is still preaching today is that the Kingdom of God is at hand! But in order to receive it and be a part of it you have to repent. 
 
Which does not mean stop sinning. Repent does not mean to never sin again. Repent means to change your mind. And specifically the kind of repentance, or changing of your mind, that is necessary to make Jesus your Lord and King and thus receive forgiveness and salvation, is changing your mind about who runs the government of your life. 
 
We are all born thinking I am my own king. I am my own boss. I make my own decisions. I forge my own path. And the American culture only drills that mentality deeper. And the reason we are born with it, is because that is the sin nature we inherited from our father….Adam. Who got it from the enemy himself when he tricked Adam and Eve both into thinking they knew better than God. Or at least making them doubt the Word of God. “Did God really say…?
 
And ever since, that has been the root of all the actions we call “sins.” The root of it all is the heart that says “I am my own King.” “I will do things my way instead of God’s way.” 
 
Everything that you do “wrong” according to God’s Word can always be boiled down to “my way” versus “God’s way.” 
 
Which is why in order to enter the Kingdom of God by choice, before the Kingdom of God takes over by force as is predicted by the visions we saw today – in order to be “saved” from the fate of the rest of the statue – it’s not just “letting” Jesus forgive you and take you to heaven. It’s making Him your King.
 
And here’s the wildest part about all of this.  What is the universal penalty for treason? Treason, as in the act of trying to overthrow the government. What’s the universal penalty for treason?  It’s death. 
 
Well, what do you think it is when you try to overthrow the rightful rule of Christ in your life? When you sit on His thrown and throw Him out and insist on doing things your own way?  It’s treason. And the penalty for treason in any kingdom is death.
 
But the crazy part about our King is that instead of killing each one of us the day we are born because we are born into a state of treason and only make it worse each breath we take. Our king paid the penalty for our treason himself. That’s what the cross was . 
 
And because He did that, we are allowed to humbly step off of the throne, hand his crown back to him, and kneel at his feet without getting our head chopped off as we should.
 
My friends, that is the good news. 
 
The good news that we can be a part of the kingdom of God.
 
And the good news that the kingdom of God taking over this world is a guaranteed eventuality if history has taught us anything about the reliability of the prophecies of God.