February 6th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-06-72 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you who are listening and watching are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Contrasting Kingdoms. In our preaching through the Book of Daniel, we have come to chapter 8:
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel. . .
And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was in Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.
Then follows in the eighth chapter the vision of the ram [Daniel 8:3-4], which is a symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire.
Then the vision of the he goat [Daniel 8:5-8] which, according to the angel interpretation, is a symbol of the Greek kingdom; and then the vision of the little horn [Daniel 8:9-14] that came out of one of the four parts into which Alexander’s kingdom was broken, which is a prophecy of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is a type of the ultimate and final Antichrist.
As I study and read through the open pages of this Book of Daniel, I cannot but be most impressed with the contrasts that are presented in the prophecies. As Daniel follows the sweep and the tide of human civilization, the contrasts that he sees that are written here in these visions are most impressive; they are startling. Against a background of war, and violence, and conquest, and murder, and blood, there is the contrast of the sweetness and the glory of the kingdom of God. Against the background of the rulers and military leaders of empire and kingdom, who elevated themselves by force of arms, there is the picture of the sweet and lowly and gentle Jesus. And the two are always side by side. They’re always together: the light and the dark, the violence and the tenderness, the war conquest, the peace and the glory. And the sharpness of the relief is distinct and clear, lucid, and impressive.
There was a missionary who came back to America from China, and I heard him describe the taking of his family and fleeing before the onrushing violence of the Japanese army as it spread through China in this last war; and the Japanese, as they conquered city after city, raped the women, and murdered the populace, and did violence to all of the sensitivities of culture and civilization. They were a violent, predatory, rampaging, and violent, conquesting army.
Well, the missionary said he was in a train with his family, fleeing before the coming Japanese army. And to the terror and horror of all who were on the train, the train stopped at a station and a band of those Japanese soldiers boarded the train. One of them, he said, came and sat down in the seat right across from him and his family. The soldier, in uniform, dirty from campaigning, had his gun and bayonet and cartridges.
The missionary said, “I had no idea, except to cringe in fear, what to think.” But as they sat there facing each other, by the side of the missionary was his little three-year-old girl. And as they sat facing each other, the Japanese soldier reached out his hand and touched the little girl. But instead of a gesture of violence or threat, the Japanese soldier began to tell the missionary about his little girl that age, back home, and how he missed the little child, and loved the memory of family and home.
And as the missionary spoke of it, I could not help but feel the contrast between the rape, and the violence, and the bloodshed, and the murder, and the pillage, and the conquest, and the war, and the strife, with a soldier brought back to memory of home, by the sweet presence of a little girl.
It is just such contrast that I see in this Book of Daniel. Against the dark background of war and battle and violence, there is always here the sweet light and presence and promise of the kingdom of Jesus.
Look at some of these contrasts in the book. There is one in Daniel himself. His body is in Babylon, but his spirit is in Canaan, and in the Promised Land [Daniel 8:9]. Daniel is so much like Joseph, elevated to political power and honor because of character and competence. But with all the honor and the elevation, and the political office, it never wooed the heart of Joseph away from his homeland in Canaan. And when he died, he asked that his bones might be brought back and buried in that sacred soil [Genesis 50:24-25; Joshua 24:32]. So it is with Daniel, his body is in Babylon, but his windows are opened in prayer toward Jerusalem [Daniel 6:10]. He is a slave. He is a Judean captive. He has a master, and his life is at the beck and call of the conquering king, but his spirit and his soul and his vision are free. He soars above the heavens, and he sees through the distant future into the very consummation and end of the age [Daniel 2, 7-12].
The prophecy of Daniel is unwasted by time. It is a forever book. Practically all other books are like milk and like eggs. They are addled by time but not the Book of Daniel. For two thousand seven hundred years, history has flowed into the mold and in the channel of Daniel’s prophecy. And there as a slave, as a captive, did he see these visions to the end of time; a contrast in Daniel, a contrast in the visions themselves [Daniel 2, 7-12].
In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar the king sees, under God, a revelation of the whole sweep of human history. And Nebuchadnezzar sees it: the kingdoms and the conquest and the empires, Nebuchadnezzar sees it as a great colossal, glorified man, a gigantic genius. Gold, silver, and brass, and iron; in the size of the man, the conquest, the victory, the empire, are the result of the genius of his hands. And in the vision he sees a glorified man [Daniel 2:1-45].
The contrast in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel is that same revelation of the whole tide of human history. But in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, the story is seen in the eyes of God [Daniel 7:1-28], and the kingdoms are symbolized by beasts. There’s a lion, there’s a leopard, there’s a bear, there’s a nondescript with iron devouring teeth [Daniel 7:1-7]. In God’s sight there is violence, and wrong, and murder, and battle, and agony. While to the man, it is glorified conquest and victory. The contrast between as a man sees himself and his achievements, and as God looks down upon the heartache and tears and flood that stain the earth [Daniel 7:1-8]. You have a contrast in the kingdoms of the earth and the kingdom of Christ [Daniel 7:13-14].
Here writ large are these visions, these symbols. This is the first apocalypse. Thereafter, after the days of Daniel, there was a floodtide of apocalypses. Two of them are in the Bible: Zechariah and the Revelation. But beyond these two, there was literally a library, a succession of apocalypses.
Daniel saw in symbol and wrote it down in symbol. And symbols are able to carry truth beyond what language ever could, because languages change. But symbols are there to look at in any nomenclature, in any tongue. And in those symbols, Daniel saw the kingdoms of the earth and their empires and their battles, and their violence and their bloodshed, he saw them as ravenous, carnivorous beasts. The lion, the bear, the leopard, the nondescript [Daniel 7:1-7]; and yet in midst of the vision, always there is the beauty, and the sweetness, and the promise of the coming kingdom of Chris, as here in the seventh chapter: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like to the Son of Man . . . and there was given Him glory and a kingdom, that all people should serve Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion. And His kingdom is one that shall never pass away…” [Daniel 7:13-14], filled with the light and the brightness and the promise and the hope and the glory of God. Always that contrast is there between the violence of war and the conquest of kingdoms and the precious coming of Christ with righteousness and light and peace and hope in His hands.
Then there is the contrast between Alexander the Great and Jesus our Lord. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, Alexander is depicted as a leopard with four wings [Daniel 7:6]. How swiftly and how rapidly does he subdue the entire known earth. And in the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel, Alexander is depicted as a he goat [Daniel 8:5]. And he stomps and he destroys the ram [Daniel 8:5-8]. And he is presented as the swift and implacable foe of every kingdom and empire; he conquers them all!
Alexander is so prominent in the visions of Daniel, and well he might be. There never lived another like him. He was born in 356 BC; he died in 323 at 33 years of age. He was the son of Philip, the king of Macedon. And in twelve brief years, Alexander conquered the civilized world. He never lost a battle. Nebuchadnezzar himself besieged Tyre for thirteen years and failed to reduce it. Not Alexander. He not only reduced Tyre, but burned it to smoke and ashes.
There was no army, there was no kingdom, there was no king, there was no ruler who could stand in the presence of Alexander. He swept them off of the face of the earth. His phalanx was impregnable and invincible. Yet he died, cut down at thirty-three years of age. When Alexander was sweeping over the civilized earth, he thought that he was doing the work of his own choice, that the achievements he wrought were the result of his own human genius. He thought he was adding to the illustrious name, Alexander the Great. He thought that he was extending the boundaries of his immortal kingdom.
Actually, Alexander was doing nothing other than filling up the outline sketched by the Lord God in the prophecies of Daniel [Daniel 2:1-45, 7:1-28, 8:1-22]. Alexander was not an originator, he was a copyist. He had no dictating hand; he was the pencil in it. He had no authoritarian position as an author; he was a pen and a pencil that wrote down. Alexander the Great, the great, as great as he was, was nothing other but a tool in the hand of the sovereign God, bringing a universal language and a universal culture to the civilized world. And God gave him just so much space. He occupied just so much time; and when that space was filled, and when that time was passed, he was broken. The Scripture said so. “When he was waxing strong, the great horn was broken” [Daniel 8:8]. That is, God said, “He will not gradually waste away inch by inch. But he shall be snapped asunder. He shall be broken.” And when the 33 years of allotted time for Alexander the Great had passed, according to the Word of God, he was broken; his life was ended [Daniel 8:8]. And that brings this contrast I find in the Book of Daniel.
When I turn to chapter 9, there I find the prophecy concerning the coming of Christ [Daniel 9:25]. And in the midst of the life of the promised Messiah, Daniel says that He is cut off, and that is not of Himself [Daniel 9:26]. It was an act of violence. His life was shortened in the earth. And isn’t it strange, the Lord was cut down at 33 years of age—the exact and identical age of Alexander the Great? Both of them died at age 33. But here in the Scriptures is again that vivid contrast, this one between Alexander the Great and the lowly Jesus.
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three;
One lived and died for self; one died for you and me.
The Greek died on a throne; the Jew died on a cross.
One’s life a triumph seemed; the other but a loss.
One led vast armies forth; the other walked alone;
One shed a whole world’s blood; the other gave His own.
One won the world in life and lost it all in death;
The other lost His life to win the whole world’s faith.
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three;
One died in Babylon, and one on Calvary.
One gained all for self; and one Himself He gave;
One conquered every throne; the other every grave.
The one made himself god; the God made Himself less;
The one lived but to blast; the other but to bless.
When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords;
But Jesus died to live forever Lord of lords.
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three;
The Greek made all men slaves; the Jew made all men free.
One built a throne on blood; the other built on love;
The one was born of earth; the other from above.
One won all this earth, to lose all earth and heaven;
The other gave up all, that all to Him be given.
The Greek forever died; the Jew forever lives;
He loses all who gets, and wins all things who gives.
[“The Conquerors,” Charles Ross Weede]
The contrast in the prophecies of Daniel between Alexander the Great and Jesus the Christ, both of them cut down at age 33.
And last, there is presented here on the pages of the prophecies, the contrast between the Christ and the Antichrist. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, as the story of human history comes down to the four great empires [Daniel 7:1-7], and then the last one is broken up into ten units [Daniel 7:7]. Ten could be how many great nations there will be at the final scene, the final denouement when history comes to its close. Or ten could represent the fullness of all the nations of the world. In any event, as Daniel sees the course of history—both in the second chapter in the form of the great man [Daniel 2:1-45], and in the seventh chapter, in the form of the four beasts—the man comes down to ten toes, the beast comes down to ten horns [Daniel 7:1-7]. And in this vision, in verse 8 of chapter 7, there is another little horn. There is an eleventh king [Daniel 7:8]. And he is the great final dictator, the Antichrist; of whom we shall speak next Sunday.
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel, there is also that coming of a little horn. In the, in the eighth verse, and out of one of the four kingdoms, out of which, in which Alexander the Great’s empire was divided, out of one of those four, it came out of Syria. There came forth a little horn [Daniel 8:8-9].
And then you have him much described in the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel [Daniel 8:8-9]. That is a prophecy, a delineation of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is a type of the ultimate and final Antichrist—he is depicted as such in chapter 7 [Daniel 7:7-8], he is depicted by type and adumbration in chapter 8 [Daniel 8:8-9]. But so much in the Book of Daniel, as in the second chapter of the Thessalonian letter [2 Thessalonians 2:3-12], as in the thirteenth chapter [Revelation 13:1-10] and the nineteenth chapters of in Revelation [Revelation 19:19-20], do you find that Antichrist depicted. He is the great final dictator, who promises peace and prosperity to the whole world [1 Thessalonians 5:3].
We shall speak of it next Sunday. What I see now looking on the pages of the prophecy, I see there again that same vivid, bold contrast between the Christ and the Antichrist. According to John, in 1 John, chapter 2, according to John, there are many antichrists that come into the world [1 John 2:18], all of whom are types and adumbrations of the great, final opponent of God, the great ultimate dictator. And as I read history, I can see the truth of the prophecy of John that there are antichrists who come into the world. I think they are always here. And each one of them is a type and a symbol of that final antichrist.
I think the Roman Caesars were antichrists. In those persecuting centuries, the Christians were brought before the testimonials and were given the choice: kurios kaisar—Caesar is Lord, or kurios iesous—Jesus is Lord. And men like Polycarp were martyrs, burned because they refuse to acknowledge the deity of the Roman Caesars. The Caesars were an antichrist.
I think Mohammed was an antichrist. The difference between Mohammed and Jesus, the difference between the Koran and the Bible, the difference between Ishmael and Isaac, is the difference between night and day; life and death; heaven and hell. Mohammed, the man Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic religion, Mohammed was a supercilious, unconscionable hypocrite. He was inordinately ambitious. And his lust was unbridled and knew no bounds. Mohammed himself was personally lecherous and despicable.
He limited all of his followers to four wives at a time. But there were no limit by vision to him of the use that Mohammed made of endless successions of women. He even took his own son’s wife. Mohammed was a vile and despicable person. And he propagated his faith by the edge of the sword, by blood and by violence. When you contrast Mohammed with the lowly, and lovely, and tender, and mild, and sweet, and gentle Jesus, it’s like looking from the depths of corruption in the abyss to the holiness to the height of heaven. Mohammed was an antichrist.
And in this great final confrontation at the end of the age, you’re going to find Mohammedanism and the Islamic religion on one side, warring against Christ and the saints and people of God. It is shaping up like that today. We’ll speak of that next Sunday.
I think the persecuting church is antichrist. One book of history that I read said that the persecuting church had martyred at least fifty million of God’s saints. They were drowned in the rivers. They were burned at the stake. They were made to rot in dungeons—the harsh, heavy hand of the persecuting church. I think that the totalitarian states [are] antichrist. The sweep of the Red tide over China, and over Russia, and wherever its veins and teeth and claws can cut, there do you find the people of God wasted and destroyed. The totalitarian state is an antichrist. All of them are adumbrations. They’re types and symbols of the great, ultimate confrontation between the King of glory and the world dictator.
May I close with a word of the contrast between the two: Christ and Antichrist? It is the contrast between war and peace. The Antichrist, according to the sixth chapter of the apocalypse, the Antichrist comes in on a white horse [Revelation 6:2]. He is the promised deliverer for all of the problems and woes of the world. Bogged down and enmeshed in insoluble problems, this man ultimately arises, the final world dictator who has all of [the] answers and can lead the nations into prosperity and peace.
But he is followed by the red horse of war [Revelation 6:3-4], and by the black horse of famine [Revelation 6:5-6] and by the pale horse of death [Revelation 6:7-8]. The Antichrist brings woe and bloodshed and violence to the world until the confrontation at the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 19:19-21].
The contrasting Christ: when He comes, His name is the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6]. They shall beat their instruments of war into implements of husbandry [Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3]. “No more shall the war cry sever, or the winding river run red” [from “The Blue and the Gray,” Francis Miles Finch, 1867]. As the prophecy in the [ninth] chapter of Isaiah avows, “Of the increase and of the peace of His government, there shall never be an end, upon the throne of his father David . . . to establish it in righteousness and in judgment for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it” [Isaiah 9:7].
The contrast: war and peace; the contrast in temporality and eternity; in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, verses 25 and 27. The Antichrist—for the elect’s sake, Jesus said, those days shall be shortened [Matthew 24:22]—the Antichrist shall continue for a time and times and a dividing of time; that is, for three and a half years [Daniel 7:25]. But look down. But the kingdom that shall be given to the saints shall be an everlasting kingdom and a dominion that shall abide forever [Daniel 7:27]. The kingdom of the Antichrist, filled with pillage and violence and war and blood, it shall last for just a while. But the kingdom of Christ, that in the seventh chapter of the Book of the prophecy of Daniel, is given to the saints, fellow heirs with the Lord, that kingdom shall last, Daniel 7:18, forever, even forever and ever. It shall never waste away. It shall never be destroyed. We shall live and reign with our Lord in peace, in glory forever [Revelation 22:3-5].
The stars shine over the land, the stars shine over the sea.
The stars look down on you, and the stars look down on me.
The stars have shined a million years, a million years and a day;
But you and I shall live and love and reign with our Lord
When the stars have faded away.
There is a contrast between temporality and eternity.
And last, there is the contrast between blasphemy and praise. Without exception, in the Holy Scriptures, the Antichrist is presented as one speaking violent blasphemies against God and against His Son [Daniel 7:8, 20, 8:25]. But without exception, the kingdom of Christ is always presented as one filled with song and grace and praise and glory [Daniel 7:27].
Look, in the passage that I read out of the eighth chapter, Daniel says, “I was standing by the River Ulai” [Daniel 8:2]. Where is the River Ulai? Nobody knows. It flows somewhere out of Elam down to the Euphrates River. And I think there is a reason why.
“And Daniel stood by the waters of the River Ulai” [Daniel 8:2]. It was a symbol of the prophet standing and seeing the vision of the coming Christ and King by all the waters of the rivers of the world; the Thames, and the Tiber, the Danube, the Rhine, and the Rhone, the waters of Europe; the Yangtze, and the Ganges, the Euphrates, and the Nile, the waters of the East; the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Missouri, the Amazon and the Paraná, the waters of the Americas; they shall mingle someday.
And the voice of their praise will be like the sound of many waters, rising in crescendo to the glory of God. And the whole earth will be covered with the knowledge and the praise and the presence of the glory of God, as those waters do cover the sea [Habakkuk 2:14], when they come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south to sit down in the kingdom of God with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob [Luke 13:28-29]. The infinite consolation and assurance that God has given us of the triumph of those who look in faith [Romans 10:8-13; Ephesians 2:8], and in hope to Him!
Do you have that hope in your heart? Do you have that victory in your soul? Do you? Whatever betide, however life shall turn, whatever the day approaching, is it God? Is it Christ? Is it heaven for you? Give your heart to that faith. Give yourself to that hope. Do it now.
In a moment we shall stand to sing our hymn of appeal; and while we sing it, you a family, or you a couple, or just you, somebody you, in this balcony round, coming down here to the front, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, while we sing that song and while we make that appeal, come, do it now. In a moment when we stand up to sing, having made the decision in your heart, stand up responding, answering, coming down that aisle. While our people wait and pray and sing this hymn of appeal, come. On the first note of that first stanza, make it now, make it today, come now, while we stand and while we sing.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Contrasts in Daniel himself
A. Body in Babylon, spirit is in Israel
B. His life in captivity, his spirit is free
II. Symbolic nature between kingdoms and empires and nations
III. Contrast between kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of Christ
IV. Alexander the Great
V. Christ and anti-Christ
A. War or peace
B. Length and reign
C. Blasphemy or praise