The Sweep of Human History

Daniel

The Sweep of Human History

March 3rd, 1968 @ 10:50 AM

Daniel 2:31-45

Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
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THE SWEEP OF HUMAN HISTORY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 2:31-45

3-03-68      10:50 a.m.

 

 

 

On radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Sweep of Human History.  It is the second sermon expounding the second chapter of the Book of Daniel.  Last Sunday morning we presented the story of this second chapter, the king who sees a great and startling vision [Daniel 2:1], and finally, the young Judean, Daniel who stands before the monarch to tell him what it was that he had dreamed.  He had forgotten it; he could not put it together in memory; and God revealed it to Daniel; and Daniel tells the king his dream [Daniel 2:12-30].  Then he interprets that dream.  In the thirty-first verse of Daniel, chapter 2:

 

Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image.  This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.

The head of the image was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,

His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, and (that stone) smote the image upon his feet… and brake them in pieces.

[Daniel 2:31-34]

 

Then the destruction of the image, the wind, like chaff, blowing it away, and the stone grew to be a great mountain until it filled the whole earth [Daniel 2:35].

The sermon next Sunday morning will be entitled The Mystic Stone, and the message this morning The Sweep of Human History.  What had appeared to the king at first as a nightmare, a horror, a vision and dream, actually was a revelation from Almighty God.  In the nineteenth verse, then, was that vision, that secret revealed unto Daniel in the night [Daniel 2:19].  And as Daniel stands before the king, he says: “God showed thee a mighty colossus…” [Daniel 2:26-30].  Twice does Daniel use the word “great” here: “O king, thou sawest and behold a great image.  This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible” [Daniel 2:31].  Twice he uses the word “great.”  He means “colossal.”  It was an astonishing, gigantic image!  And its brightness, the brilliance of the metal, and the form was terrible [Daniel 2:31].  It was awesomely impressive—a gigantic colossus standing there before the king.

Then, Daniel outlines what the king saw in the substances of the different parts of the image [Daniel 2:31-35].  Then he interprets what those different substances and parts meant [Daniel 2:36-45].  Now, we’re going to turn first to this interpretation.  And the interpretation of that image, as Daniel outlines it before the king is this—what the king saw and what God revealed was, in the words of our Lord as He spake in Luke 21:24—“the times of the Gentiles,” the whole continuity of history until the consummation of the age.  And the Lord called it “the times of the Gentiles.”  And this is what Daniel meant when he said: “Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, strength, and glory.  And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven, their land and country, hath God given unto thee, and hath made thee ruler over them all.  Thou art this head of gold” [Daniel 2:37-38].

Daniel is saying to the king, that God has delivered into his hand, and into the hands of the Gentiles and of the nations of the Gentiles, all of the rulership of this earth.  And that would include the chosen nation of God, Israel.  Isn’t that what the text says?  “And wheresoever the children of men dwell,” wherever they are, “God hath given them into thy hands, and hath made thee ruler over them all” [Daniel 2:38].  That includes Israel.

This then is the commission from God transferring the rulership and the leadership of this earth from the Jew—from Judea, from Israel—into the hands of the Gentiles [Daniel 2:37-38].  Now may I speak of that, that it may be fixed firmly in your mind what God is saying and what God is doing?  It was the purpose of the Almighty in heaven that Israel should be His administrative ruler in all of the governments of the world.  I know that from passages like this, in the thirty-second chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance: when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.  For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of God’s inheritance [Deuteronomy 32:8-9].  In the center of God’s purpose for this world was His people; His chosen lot; God’s inheritance, that favored, and blessed, and sanctified, and hallowed people around whom God was to center the administration of this world [Deuteronomy 32:9].

Now, God not only purposed that for Israel; but God purposed another thing.  God purposed that His only incarnate Son was to come down to this earth as the King and the Lord Messiah of that nation; and that in Him, administrative justice, and truth, and righteousness should flow out like rivers to the ends of the earth.  Now how do you know that?  I read it here in the Bible!  The second Psalm is of all the passages of the Old Testament, messianic.  It speaks of the coming Messiah, Christ the Lord incarnate from heaven.  And in that second Psalm are these words—God speaking: “I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.  I will declare the decree,” the sovereign mandate of God, “Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee” [Psalm 2: 6-7], speaking to the Lord Messiah.  Then the Lord God continues as He addresses that incarnate Son,   “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession” [Psalm 2:8].

It was God’s purpose that the administration of the governments and the rulership of the earth would be centered in His chosen people, Israel [Genesis 12:3; Numbers 24:9].  And it was God’s further purpose that their King should be the incarnate Son of heaven Himself.  And that He should reign upon His throne in Zion, in Jerusalem; and that from Him should flow out all the blessings of mankind, the benedictory heavenly remembrances, whereby God shall enrich the earth [John 3:16-17, 10:10].  Now that was the purpose of the Lord God Almighty.  How did it fare as it worked out in history?  It fared like this.  God’s chosen people, and the family of Israel, failed ingloriously, ignominiously and utterly!  The northern ten tribes, by political volition, chose national idolatry [Hosea 4:17, 10:2, 13:16], and they were destroyed by the Assyrians [2 Kings 17:5-6].  The two tribes that remain—known as Judah—little Judah, and Benjamin—they rebelled morally against God, and they themselves fell into grievous and offensive idolatry [Jeremiah 13:10].  And the Babylonians came and destroyed the Southern Kingdom [2 Kings 25:1-21].  And when that happened, God transferred the rulership of this world out of the hands of Israel, His chosen family, and placed it into the hands of the Gentiles [Ezekiel 36:19].

The first political, prophetic kingdom of which Daniel addresses as Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 2:38], beginning with this time, Jerusalem is a political cipher, and Babylon is the center of the cultural and civilized world.  This is the end of the times of the Jews and the beginning of the times of the Gentiles.  Jerusalem is down and Babylon is up! [Daniel 2:38]. This took place, in the providence of God and in the sovereign choice of the Almighty, in the first chapter of the Book of Daniel.  The verse opens—Nebuchadnezzar is besieging Jerusalem:  “And God gave,” that’s the text, “and the Lord gave the king and the country into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar” [Daniel 1:1-2].  That was the beginning of the seventy years captivity prophesied by Jeremiah [Jeremiah 29:10]; 605 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took Daniel among the captives [Daniel 1:1, 3-6], until 536 BC, the first year of Cyrus when they were privileged to return home [2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3].  But the Jewish nation, from this catastrophe and disaster, never recovered.  From that time, the beginning of the times of the Gentiles [Daniel 2:38], until this hour, the chosen people of God, the family of the Lord—Israel—has been in remnants, and in parts, and in pieces, and mostly buried among the nations of the earth.  And even today, when President Truman and the United States recognized the Israeli government in May of 1948, yet they are still under the surveillance of the Gentile powers of the earth.  And were it not for the sustaining hand of America, the Arab enemies around, with the help of Russia, would wipe the nation off the face of the earth.  From this time until now, the people of the Lord have been under subservience to the Gentile powers of the earth.  And this is what Jesus referred to when He said: “The times of the Gentiles, Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles” [Luke 21:24].  The sovereignty and the leadership and the rulership of the earth shall lie in the hands of the great Gentile powers of the earth until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled [Luke 21:24].  And what lies beyond is the sermons that continue ahead.

Now I want us to look at what God has revealed in this tremendous and colossal image [Daniel 2:1-45].  First, let us look at the description of these kingdoms as the Lord uses metals to present them.  The image’s head was of fine gold [Daniel 2:32], and Daniel says to Nebuchadnezzar: “Thou, O king, art this head of gold” [Daniel 2:38]; gold describing the kingdom of Babylon.  Herodotus visited Babylon about ninety years after the era of Nebuchadnezzar.  And in his history Herodotus says that he never saw in the earth such abundance and proliferation of gold as he saw in Babylon.  He described the chapels, and the temples, and the altars, and the throngs, and the accouterments, and the vessels, all made out of solid gold.  Here is an inscription discovered that Nebuchadnezzar wrote referring to the temple that he built.  He said: “That house I caused to be made for gazings and for the beholding of the multitudes of the people.  The awe of power, the dread of the splendors of sovereignty, its sides be girthed.”

It was the purpose of Nebuchadnezzar to build a golden city and a golden throne.  Well, as we shall come in the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel, he did it.  And he looked upon it, boasting himself of the tremendous empire and the golden city that he had erected [Daniel 4:29-30].  Isn’t it a strange thing how history flows?  Nebuchadnezzar thought that he had built that great, golden city and kingdom for himself.  Actually, what he had done, he had built a schoolhouse in which God’s captive people were taught lessons they have never forgotten, and remember to this very day.  He had built a prison house in which God had chastened and judged His people, and when that holy purpose of God had been accomplished, Babylon passed away forever.  It lasted seventy years. Gold! [Daniel 5:30-31].

The breast and the arms of silver [Daniel 2:32]—the Medo-Persian Empire:  Daniel says: “And after thee,” addressing Nebuchadnezzar, “shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee” [Daniel 2:39].  What he says there in Aramaic is, “After thee shall arise another kingdom, downward from thee, earthward from thee” [Daniel 2:39], that is, down in the image after thee.  The Babylonian kingdom, Daniel says, will pass away, and when it passes, it will be supplanted by a kingdom that he refers to as a silver kingdom, the Medo-Persian Kingdom [Daniel 2:32, 39].

Now, in all Semitic languages, the word “silver” is the same word for “money.”  And the Medo-Persian kingdom developed a system of taxation, and those taxes were paid in silver talents.  And the Medo-Persian kings gathered together vast hoards of silver money, they were the sinews of war.  In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, verse 2, Daniel will prophesy of one of those Persian kings that he described as “far richer than they all” [Daniel 11:2].  That’s the prophecy of Xerxes.  And without the tremendous silver hoardings of his father Darius, and the other Persian kings, Xerxes could not have mounted such a tremendous offensive across the Hellespont against Greece.  Medo-Persia: a kingdom of silver [Daniel 2:32, 39].

Then the third is brass; the belly and the thighs of brass [Daniel 2:32, 39, 45].  Josephus, in his Antiquities, immediately recognized its reference to Greece—the Greek Empire.  And I can see what an astonishing impression the Greeks must have made upon the civilized world.  Look at it.  Had you seen a soldier of Media or of Persia in the days when they controlled the civilized world, he would have looked like this:  on his head would have been a soft turban, he would have been clothed with a tunic with fleece; and his trousers would have been full and long.  That would have been a Medo-Persian soldier.  But when you saw a Greek, he would have had on a helmet of brass, and a breastplate of brass, and a shield of brass, and a sword of brass.  That’s why the poets will refer to the “brazen-clad Greeks,” brass became a sign and a symbol of Greek conquest and Greek Empire.

And the brass is followed by legs of iron [Daniel 2:33, 40-43].  Any schoolboy, any schoolgirl, will be taught of the iron legions of Rome.  Daniel greatly emphasizes the strength of that empire—Rome.  I counted the number of times he uses the word “iron” in this short passage, he uses it fourteen times! [Daniel 2:33-45].  This is a part of Josephus, as he puts in the mouth of Daniel these words—and I want you to see how Josephus does that same thing, stressing the tremendous strength of this last kingdom.  Now Josephus puts in the mouth of Daniel these words as he addresses the king: “The head of gold denotes thee, and the kings of Babylon that have been before thee.  But the two hands and arms, signifies this: that your government shall be dissolved by two kings, that is, by the Medo-Persian, Cyrus and Darius.  And then, after them another king shall come from the west armed with brass that shall destroy that government.  That’s the Greeks.  Then another kingdom that shall be like unto iron shall put an end to the power of the former, and shall have dominion over all the earth; on account of the nature of iron, which is stronger than that of gold, of silver, and of brass.  The kingdom is to be an iron kingdom.  And as the metals are used here in that image, they ascend in strength, as silver is stronger than gold, and as brass is stronger than silver, and as iron is strongest of all [Daniel 2:31-33, 38-40].

Now, as you can see in the sweep of human history, each kingdom is built upon the ruins of the former kingdom: the Medo-Persian kingdom is built upon the ruins of the Babylonian; and the Greek kingdom is built upon the ruins of the Medo-Persian.  And the last kingdom, the Roman kingdom, is built upon the ruins of all of them [Daniel 2:40-43].  That strength, that ascendancy of strength, from silver to brass to iron is found in the duration of the empires: the Babylonian Empire lasted seventy years; the Medo-Persian Empire lasted two hundred years; the Greek Empire lasted one hundred thirty years.  But the Roman Empire lasted five hundred years in its undivided state.  Then, in its divided state, it lasted in the East until 1453 when the Turks overwhelmed their capital city of Constantinople.  And in the Western division of that empire, it continues down through us to this present day, for we are a part of that Greco-Roman civilization, divided up into those ten toes [Daniel 2:41, 42].

But the most startling and astonishing of all the revelations of God in this image that describes the sweep of human history, is this; the deteriorating qualities, the deteriorating, the downwardness of value in these metals that are used.  As I read the vision, the gold turns into silver, and the silver turns into brass, and the brass turns into iron, and the iron turns into mud, into clay [Daniel 2:32-34, 38-43].  Now, in my humble judgment, the most astonishing and amazing and startling of all the revelations of God is this: the downwardness, the deterioration in all national life, human life, in all existence—that’s what God says—there is a deterioration in quality, the kind of life and people.  There’s a deterioration in national life.  There is a deterioration in social life.  There is a deterioration that works in family life.  And there is a deterioration that works in individual life.

I read it in history, the fall, the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the decay of civilizations.  I see it in social life.  I see it in the organized expressions of society.  I could use an illustration that I dare not call for lest I be misunderstood.  But there is a great organization that is typical of all of it.  It started as a tremendous Christian movement, a soul-saving movement, and it has deteriorated now into an expression of a social community, and that’s all; has no Christian connotation at all—the deterioration, the downwardness in all organized life.  I see it in family life, the breaking apart, the deterioration of the family, and I see it in individual life.  A fine, wonderful, strong, glorious upstanding man, finally dissolve into a mass of almost mud.  That’s God!  You don’t have to wonder at these things.  Look at what the Lord says—and then five thousands of years of history, verify it!  See if what God says is true!

All right, another thing; not only does God say there is a deterioration, there is a downward tendency in quality in all life; national, domestic, social, individual; but God also says that there is a tendency to pull apart in all life.  It lacks cohesiveness.  Finally, to iron and mud; it’s in parts [Daniel 2:33-34, 41-43].  You find it first in the dual arms; there are two.  You find it again in the dual legs; there are two.  And you find it tenfold multiplied, in the toes, the day in which we live.  Now, God says there is a tendency in society, and in national life, and in all, to pull apart; nations, inside, internally.  I’m witnessing that in our own nation in a horrifying degree.  Why, there’s not a great city in this earth, including ours, in America, that is not fearful of what lies ahead—burn, baby, burn—the pulling apart, the lack of cohesiveness in society.

And finally, it comes down to mud [Daniel 2:41-43].  We’re involved in a national division over there in Vietnam.  It’s a North Vietnamese; it’s a South Vietnamese—the pulling apart.  And if that is true internally, think how much more it is true internationally; when nations break covenants, and states crumble, and alliances are discarded.  That’s what God said! [Daniel 2:43].  And all you have to do is open your eyes to history and see if history confirmed what God said.  If you will look at history, you will find that it moves in the mold of prophecy, just like God writes in His Book.

All right, I want to apply it one other way.  God says there is a downwardness, there is a disintegration, there is a going from gold, to silver, to brass, to iron, to mud in all creation and in all existence [Daniel 2:32-33].  That’s what God says.  Well, let’s see if it is verifiable in fact, because we have thousands and thousands of years of experience to look at it to see whether God’s right or not.  Well, let’s look at it.  God said that downward tendency is in all existence.  That’s what the Lord says.  Well, let’s apply it to this whole universe.  Any schoolboy who reads anything of science at all can tell you that this universe is like a giant clock wound up, and it has been running down ever since.  You don’t upward create energy; it is always downward!  When you take a piece of metal and you release its atomic power, it falls down into baser elements as it releases its power, atomic energy.

The sun is hydrogen energy, atomic energy.  And the sun is burning up, it is going down.  When you put gasoline in an internal combustion engine and it explodes, it dissolves down; it breaks down, into lower component parts.  And you can never pull it up.  You cannot re-create it.  You can’t build back that energy.  It’s gone and forever.  The whole universe is like that; like a great giant clock that somebody wound up.  I think God wound it up, and it’s been running down ever since.  And it’s still going down.  The day will come when the sun will be a cinder [Joel 2:31].

That is true in all of life.  All of it!  But Darwin says, “Oh, nay, nay!”  And all of those little pseudoscientists, who prattle after the manner and way of Darwin, they say the same thing.  They say the image is like this.  The head is mud, and then the mud turns to iron, and then the iron turns to brass, and the brass turns to silver, and the silver turns to gold.  Or apply it to humanity.  Darwin would say, “It begins in mud.  The head of the image is mud—but we increase, and we ascend, and we expand, and we continue, and we evolve, and we rise, and we go upward until finally the image has the wings of the feet of an archangel.”  That’s what he says.

God says, Daniel says, just the opposite [Daniel 2:32-33].  Well, you don’t have to wonder, you have thousands of years in which to look at this.  Is God right?  Well, look, open your eyes and see!  I don’t know of a better chance in the world for you to verify God’s word than right there.  Just look at it!  Just look at it!

All right, we will take anything you want to take.  Let’s take fine cattle.  Fine cattle, well-bred cattle and just let them go.  Let them go.  Will they evolve into finer cattle?  No!  They will devolve and de-evolute until you won’t recognize those little, sorry, scroungy, scrawny creatures.   Let’s take fine horses; any fine breed of horse and let it go, just let it go.  Will it evolve into a finer breed of horse?  No!  He will devolve and de-evolute until a scrawny, mangy thing out there you don’t recognize.

Let’s take a rose bush, or an orange tree, or a lemon tree.  I don’t know why I should think of that, looking at you.  Take anything—anything, anywhere—and let it go, and it will devolve into a scrub.  That is the order of life; it runs down.  Yet these fellows say it runs up, and they all believe it.  Why, I don’t know whether there is a pseudoscientist in the world that doesn’t believe that.  It runs up.  When all of the verification of human experience says it goes this way, just like God says!

Well, now we’re going to apply it to ourselves.  Let’s apply that to man.  Darwin says it begins with mud, and we ascend, and we ascend, and we ascend until finally we have the winged-feet of archangels.  That’s what Darwin says.  Let’s see what God says.  God says it starts with gold; and the gold turns to silver, to brass, to iron, and finally to mud [Daniel 2:32-33].  Let’s apply it.  Let’s see. Well, let’s start anywhere; anywhere you want to start.  Let’s start with somebody we know real good.  Let’s start with Moses.  Moses lived three thousand four hundred years ago.  That ought to be enough time to compare a man, don’t you think?  Three thousand four hundred years we have an opportunity to look at it.  All right, let’s look at Moses.  “Moses, one hundred twenty years of age, his eye was not dimmed, nor his natural strength abated” [Deuteronomy 34:7].  That’s what God said about him.  After one hundred twenty years, his eye was not dimmed, nor his natural strength abated.  All right, anywhere you want to pick him out.  Anywhere, it doesn’t matter.  Sit him up.  A man of this hour and let’s compare him to Moses.  Pick him out.  Got any centenarians here?  Anybody here that even lived to one hundred years, much less your eye not dimmed and your natural strength abated?  Do you know anybody that is one hundred twenty years old?  Do you?  Do you?  And yet we’re going up.  Yeah, we’re ascending, we’re arising.  We’re going from mud to a golden head.

Let’s take Moses.  I don’t know of a man anywhere a hundred twenty years of age and his eye is not dimmed, and his natural strength is not abated.  Well, even as young, and as sprightly, and as teenage as I am, I have these sorry, no-count, good-for-nothing things that I carry around with me.  And you’ve got them, too.  And you’ve got them.  Look at all of you.  You’ve got some in your pocket, don’t fool me?  Got them in your pocket.

Start anywhere, anywhere; all you have to do is open your eyes.  Start anywhere; back yonder hundreds of years before Christ, hundreds of years before Christ, there was a galaxy of men in the star-studded firmament of those Greco days—why, there’s nothing like it in history!  Did you know these men all lived practically together; all at the same time practically: Miltiades, the great general of Marathon, Themistocles, and Aristides, and Pericles, the great Athenian statesmen; Aeschylus, and Euripides, and Sophocles, the great tragedians; Phidias, the architect of the Parthenon.  And then right behind them, right next to them, and some of their lives overlapping, Socrates, and Plato, and Aristotle, the tutoring teacher of Alexander the Great, against whom did Demosthenes thunder in his Philippics?  All of those men lived at the same time, practically.  Can you point out to me any era in modern history where you have men like that?  Yet, we are taught we begin with heads of mud, and we’re coming up and coming up and coming up.  And I don’t dare—lest they think I am too fanatical—I don’t dare point out that it was two thousand years ago that Jesus lived, and Peter, and Paul, and John.  Have any like that today?

There was a man who was representative of Dallas County in the United States Congress, in the legislature, the House of Representatives, for a generation.  His name was Hatton Sumners.  Hatton Sumners, because he loved Dr. Truett, transferred that love to me when I came here to Dallas.  And whenever he was in Dallas, you’d see him back there on one of those back seats.  Didn’t belong to this church, but he loved to come here to this church.  And usually he would tarry to say a few words to me.

When Hatton Sumners retired, he said a sentence to me that has stuck in my memory and forever.  Now, he lived in that day when the president of the United States was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  And when all of these men were governing the world—and he had, because he was chairman of many of those house committees of tremendous import and power—he had contact intimate with those men.  And Hatton Sumners said to me this strange sentence after he came back and retired from a generation of being our representative in Congress.  He said to me, “I have learned one thing in Washington—the generation I’ve served our county and city in Washington—I’ve learned one thing.”  You couldn’t guess in a million years what that thing was he said.  He said, “I have learned one thing.  I have learned there are no great men.”  Isn’t that a strange thing to say?  “I have learned one thing.  There are no great men.”  Yet, he lived in this generation, and in this time, and in this age.  God says there is a downwardness!  There is a tendency to deterioration in all life.  That’s what it says.

Now, I want to take time to add one other thing.  Our time’s gone, but I want to lay this before you.  I think you ought to see it; I think you ought to know it, and you ought to be aware of it.  Surely, surely, surely, in the upwardness, as these pseudoscientists say, and in the forwardness, and in the rising of civilization, as we go from what they say, mud to gold, why, of all of the developments in human history, nothing could compare with the rise and the strength and the power of Christian civilization.  Now, I have copied this from an address by I.M. Haldeman.  He was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in New York City and one of the great preachers of all time.  And he spoke these words in the heart of World War I.  I quote, and you watch his emphasis:

 

In the centers of civilization supposed supreme, and in those nations where kings and sovereigns claim to have received their scepters from the right hand of the Son of God Himself, in those nations above all others calling themselves Christian, millions of armed men drawn from every rank of life are leaping at each other’s throats like wild beasts, drunken with one another’s blood.  Smoke and flame are going up from burning towns and cities.   Women are ravaged in the open sunlight.  Children are mutilated, and all the fabric of a civilization woven together through the sacrifice and devotion of long and painful centuries has been torn apart and the priceless texture flung broadcast upon the cyclonic winds of an excuseless and lawless desolation.  All the standards of righteousness, of sacred truth and honor, the fealty of man, to man and all the worthfulness and sanctity of life, have been trampled into the mire and slush and multiplying streams of wasted blood!

 

 He said that in World War I, talking about the Christian nations and the Christian civilizations of the earth.  What would he think today?  What would he think today?  The prophecy was made that if we ever discovered atomic fission, it would first be used in war in a bomb.  And that prophecy came to pass.   This next war, you haven’t seen anything.  You haven’t seen anything like the next one!  And we’re getting ready for it by day and by night, and our enemies are getting ready for it.  Yet this is a Christian culture and a Christian civilization.  God says there is a downwardness in it!  “Oh, but preacher, you don’t understand.  Man, look what I can do punching this button.  And look what I can do getting these little wheel to turn”—as though buttons and wheels and gadgets have to do with the quality of human heart and life and soul.  I’m just telling you what God says.  And I’m just avowing this morning that what God says is the verdict and the verification of all human experience and of all human history.

Well, you would think that Daniel lived his life and died in despair and pessimism.  No, sir!  No, sir!  Daniel lived in exaltation and victory and triumph!  And that’s why I so dislike to cut this sermon in two this morning. There’s another part to this message, there’s another half to it, and that’s the message next Sunday morning, on the Mystic Stone.  God has a purpose, God has a plan.  And we’re going to see it with our eyes, whom our eyes shall behold, and not another, we’re going to live in that day!

Well, Lee Roy, we sing our song.  And God bless you.  His Holy Spirit may speak to your heart.  While we sing this hymn of appeal, somebody to give himself to the Lord, “I want to open my heart to God,” or somebody to put his life with us in the fellowship of this dear church, you come and stand by me.  In this balcony round, if you are on that last seat at the top of balcony, there’s time; we’ll wait for you to come.  And on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front: “I want to come, pastor.  Here’s my wife and these our children, all of us want to come today.”  Or a couple you, or one somebody you, as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come.  Make the decision now; then, when you stand up in a moment, stand up coming.  Do it and the Lord bless you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.

THE SWEEP OF HUMAN HISTORY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 2

3-3-68

I. Times of the Gentiles

A.   Announcement that Babylon took over world rulership

B.   Israel and Judah failed and were destroyed by God

C.   Commission of Nebuchadnezzar: transfer world rulership to Gentile hands

II. Depiction of the series of empires

A.   Golden head, Babylon

B.   Silver breast and arms, Medo-Persia

C.   Brass thighs – Greece

D.   Iron legs – Rome

III. Meaning of the choice of differing metals

A.   Ascending in strength

B.   Descending in values

C.   Declension in cohesiveness