The Sweep of Human History

The Sweep of Human History

December 15th, 1996

Daniel 2-7

And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it. The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof. The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter. Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation. Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. 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. Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old. It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
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THE SWEEP OF HUMAN HISTORY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 2-7

12-15-96    Sunday School

 

 

In our Holy Bible, turning to the Book of Daniel, why, we are going to follow through on chapter 2 and chapter 7.  And the title of the discussion is The Sweep of Human History.

The Book of Daniel is divided into two distinct parts.  The first part is chapters 1 and 6.  And the second part is chapters 7through12.  And both of these divisions start off with the same theme and the same revelation.  And the presentation is a vision of all time and history.

Chapter 2 and chapter 7 are two of the great pivotal chapters of the Bible.  The course of human history to the end of the age is outlined in those two chapters.  And those two chapters are the foundation of all other visions.  The vision at the beginning of chapter 2 is the same vision at the end of chapter 7.  When we study, therefore, these two chapters, we have God’s revelation of the whole history of mankind and of the world.

It has been suggested that the first part, chapters 1 through 6, present events; and the second part, chapters 7 through 12, present personalities.  It has also been suggested that chapter 2 is a review as man looks at it and that chapter 7 is a review as God looks at it.  So, you have the two in Daniel 2:36 and 38, the head of gold, which is Babylon.  But, in the description of the second vision, in Daniel 7:4, it’s referred to as a lion.

In the second part, Daniel 2:39, the shoulders and the arms of silver are Medo-Persia.  In chapter 7, verse 5, it is described as a bear.  In chapter 2, verse 39, the thighs of brass – which is the picture of the Greek Empire – in chapter 7, verse 6, it is referred to as a leopard.  In chapter 2, verse 40, the legs of iron, which describe the Roman Empire – in chapter 7:7, it is referred to as a vicious beast with iron teeth.  Then, as you know, there are no more world empires. 

In Daniel 2, verses 41 to 45, we have the description of the toes of iron and clay.  And the same description in chapter 7, verses 23 and 24.  Then, is presented in Daniel 2:44, 45, the mystic stone: Christ and the kingdom of God.  And that’s going to be my Christmas outline, and discussion and presentation next Sunday; the stone that came out of God’s hand and became a mountain and finally filled the whole world.  The first time the stone strikes is in the days of the Roman Empire.  And the second time the stone strikes in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, in Revelation 19:11- 16, the second time the stone strikes is in the consummation of the age, the end of history in the world.

God takes the leadership of the kingdoms from the Jews to the Gentiles in our lesson today.  Ezekiel beholds the departure of the Shekinah glory from Jerusalem.  God gives the dominion to Nebuchadnezzar and to the Gentiles; Jeremiah 27:5-9.  Daniel is the prophet of "the times of the Gentiles," the era from Nebuchadnezzar to the rapture of the church, at which time God starts dealing with the Jews again.

I want us to turn to the Book of Romans, the Book of Romans, chapter 11.  And this is a background text for what God is doing.  In the days of Nebuchadnezzar, in 605 BC, God gives the leadership of the history of the world to the Gentiles.  But, at the end of the consummation of the age, God gives it back to the Jews and we’re going to look at that in a minute.  Now, the passage in Romans 11, starting at verse 25:

 

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this musterion, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits and blindness; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness – the times – of the Gentiles be done.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and turn all ungodliness from Jacob:

For this is my covenant with them, when I shall take away their unbelief.

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as concerning the election, they are beloved for the Fathers’ sakes.

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance – without change.

[Romans 11:25-29]

 

And we’re going to look at that in a minute.

So, Daniel is the prophet of the times of the Gentiles.  And that era lasts from Nebuchadnezzar until the rapture of the church, at which time God once again turns the leadership of all history and time over to the Jews.  So, we’re going to look at the times of the Gentiles.  Look at Daniel 2:37-38 – Daniel 2:37-38.  God says, addressing Nebuchadnezzar:

 

Thou, O king, art a king of kings; for the God of heaven has given thee a kingdom, power, strength, and glory.

And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven God has given these into thy hand, and thou art made the ruler over them all.  Thou art that head of gold.

 

So, Daniel, in saying this, was announcing that Babylon was the first in the political prophetic series that controls the world during the times of Israel’s desolation.  This gift of dominion and power to Babylon was from the hand of God.  This is something God has done.  This did not happen in the history of the Hittites, or the Hamites, or the Egyptians, or the Assyrians.  But, God did it in the days of the Babylonians.

Now, I want you to look at something.  God says in Daniel 32:8 and 9, that His purpose was to rule the world through the elect chosen nation of Israel.  It was His purpose to send His incarnate Son to be the King of Israel and, through Him and His people Israel, to administer righteousness, and truth, and justice throughout the whole earth and throughout all history.  It was to bring benediction and blessing to every creature.  That was the original purpose of God in choosing Israel.  God chose Israel ultimately to receive His incarnate Son as their king.  God chose Israel to administer His mercies, and grace, and will throughout all time and throughout all history.

Well, what happened?  The nation of Israel failed grievously and utterly.  The ten tribes – up there in the northern part of it – the ten tribes deliberately and politically chose idolatry.  And they were destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC.  So, that left the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, down in there in the south.  But, those two tribes gave themselves to moral rebellion and idolatry.  And finally, they slew their own Son, Jesus the Messiah.  Then, they were destroyed by the purpose of God, by the Romans in 70 AD.  And from that time until now as we’re going to mention, they have been scattered and afflicted throughout the history of the world.

Now, the commission to Nebuchadnezzar contained the transfer of world rulership from the Jews, which was God’s purpose, to Gentile hands.  This was the climax of God’s judgment.  It was the end of Jewish power.  It was the beginning of Gentile power.  Jewish time had come to an end.  Gentile time had begun.  Jerusalem was torn down.  Babylon, and the great cities of the empires was built up.  Jerusalem was a political cripple.  Babylon was the center of the world, and then followed after all those other cities of the empires.

The coming of Nebuchadnezzar, in 605 BC marked the beginning of 70 years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah, and marks the beginning of the times of the Gentiles.  Israel thereafter was weak and weaker, and dependent and more dependent, and never recovered, even so to this day.  The Jewish nation is weak and were it not for the sustaining hand of America, they would have overrun it and slain it before it even began.

Daniel is the prophet of the times of the Gentiles.  Before the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, Jerusalem and Judah fell.  They have never since recovered.  The "times of the Gentiles" refers to the long period of history when the Gentiles rule over God’s chosen people: Israel.  But, prophecy has nothing to say about the nations as such in their relationship to one another but only in the relationship to Israel and the Holy Land.  That’s one of the most amazing things you could ever think for.

Deuteronomy 32:8 says the key to all prophecy is the Jew.  The Jew is God’s clock!  What time is it in world history?  In the judgment and purpose of God, look at the Jew!  If the Jewish nation had not forsaken God, there would have been no "times of the Gentiles."  This period began when God transferred earthly rule to the Gentiles.

Now, Daniel, I say is the prophet of the times of the Gentiles.  His visions sweep the whole course of Gentile world rule until the establishment of the Messianic millennium, the kingdom of Christ.  Now, Daniel was not a prophet in the same sense as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets.  Their mission was to go to the people to proclaim the Word of the Lord.

Daniel’s mission was to record what was revealed to him in his visions from Heaven.  He did not have the prophetic office.  He was a statesman in the court, even though God gave him visions of the whole history of the world that is to come.

All right; now I want you to look at the vision of the nations in chapter 2.  It is a vision of descending value.  That is a striking feature.  Go down to mud.  Why?  The order is certainly a descending one in value, especially in the estimates and in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar.  Iron, in his eyes, would certainly hold the lowest place.  It is not even mentioned in any of the human inscriptions, the Babylonian inscriptions.  The thoughts of the king were so much set in the more precious, and showy, and costly metals.  And we cannot escape that same conviction.  It goes from gold down to mud.

All right, why this?  Because of quality!  There is a downwardness, a deterioration, in all society and in all national life.  There is a going from gold, to silver, to brass, to iron, to mud.  And if I had time here, we would talk about it in the United States.

All right, a second quality in it: in cohesion, dual breasts and arms, dual legs, but most exaggerated in the feet and the toes.  The pulling apart in national and political life: crumbling state, broken covenants, discarded alliances.  History runs in the mold of this prophecy.  All of it does!  Then another: in those visions’ downwardness, it is found in the nature of existence.  And here, I’m going to take a moment to talk about Daniel and Darwin.

Daniel speaks of the downwardness of all existence.  The universe is running down.  The universe is a great clock wound up and it is running down.  Animal life runs down.  Fine breed of cattle, and horses, and sheep – leave them alone and they will all turn into scraps.  And human life and history runs down.

There is a vast difference between Darwin and Daniel.  Darwin says we have been a head of mud and we are going up, and up, and up.  And finally, we’re all going to become angels.  That’s what Darwin says in evolution.  But, Daniel says it is a head of gold and it goes down, and down, and down.  If ever two men took opposite positions, these two men have done it.  Daniel speaks of the descent of hope, and the decline of nations, and the catastrophes of civilization.  But, Darwin writes of inevitable evolution upward.

All right, we are going to look at that just for a minute.  What is this to be found in human personality, and in intelligence, and in strength?  Is it really going up?  All right, look at it for a minute.  Look at Moses.  How long did he live?  One hundred and twenty years!  If the noblest man of the hour stood beside him, would it be up or would it be down?  Chose any man you want here in modern life and put him by the side of Moses.  Have we ascended up?  Or, are these men that are up in the headlines of all newspapers today, are they down compared to Moses?

All right, look at the galaxy of great men who shined in that ancient firmament – most brilliant, incomparable, in the history of the world.  All right, I’m going to name some of them;  Miltiades, who lived 488 years before Christ; Themistocles, who lived 480 years before Christ; Aristides, who lived 468 years before Christ; Pericles, who lived 428 years before Christ; Aeschylus, who lived 456 years before Christ; Euripides, who lived 406 years before Christ; Sophocles, who lived 406 years before Christ; Phidias, who lived 433 years before Christ; Socrates, who lived 400 years before Christ; Plato – without doubt the greatest philosopher that was ever born – Plato lived 347 years before Christ; Aristotle, the pupil of Plato and the incomparable writer of the philosophy, lived 322 years before Christ.  And he was the teacher of Alexander the Great.  Did you know, in Oxford University, there are 297 courses taught on Aristotle?  And Demosthenes lived 322 years before Christ; and Aeschines lived 314 years before Christ.

Now, I just give you a little thing.  You go through the world today and show me anybody that lives today comparable to those men who lived 400 and 300 years before Christ.  Darwin says we are going up.  We’re going up.  Daniel says we’re going down.  We’re going down.

And may I take our own faith – our Christianity as an example?  Think of the beginning of the Christian centuries: Jesus, Paul, Peter, John – those mighty men of God.  You know what?  Hatton Sumners – for many years a Congressman, a leader in the House of Representatives – Hatton Sumners came here to church every time he was in Dallas.  As long as he lived, he was there, listening to me preach – and talking to me.  I was just so blessed just by his presence.

And here’s a sentence he said to me.  He said, "There are no great men today."  That was his judgment – up there in Washington for all of those years and years, a generation, watching the great men, so-called, of the earth, come to Washington, visiting with them and everything else and his judgment after a lifetime in his sentence to me, "There are no great men today!"

Well, I have a long pericope here from I. N. Haldeman.  He was pastor for years at the First Baptist Church in New York but I’ll not take time to read it.

There is a thing about the Bible and the nations of the world that is a surprise to me.  If you will look at it carefully, just look at the whole Bible, you will be impressed by the fact that there is little space given to Gentile conquest or superiority, or anything else about them.  There is practically nothing in the Bible about Gentile superiority.  Earthly heroes are treated in the Bible as the grass that withers and the flowers that fade away.  Man’s history relates to his own heroes and victories.  These occupy all the pages of human history – the way they write.  But, God’s history relates and describes man in the light of eternity.  And there’s nothing to write about him.

Yet, [Daniel] does not conclude his prophecies, visions in pessimism and despair.  He describes the ultimate glory of the coming and heavenly kingdom of God.  And we’re going to see that in our lesson next time – in "The Mystic Stone" – and the triumphant resurrection.  It’s an amazing thing to me when you read the Bible and look at it with understanding, just believing what God says.  Oh, it’s another world!

Now, I’m going to take time to conclude this by turning to Daniel 9.  And I want you to turn to it.  Daniel 9, beginning at verse 24 – this is possibly the greatest vision ever given to mankind; verse 24; Daniel 9:24: "Seventy heptads" – weeks of years – "are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city." – 25:

 

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall come shall be seven heptads, then that follows with threescore and two heptads; the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even unto the time of trouble.

And after threescore and two heptads, Messiah will be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and the desolations of despair. 

And he shall confirm the covenant for many with one heptad: and in the midst of tha heptad he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the end time, there will be all kinds of judgment poured out upon the desolate.

[Daniel 9: 25-27]

 

All right, I want you to look at that now.  First, the division of the seventy heptads; they are three:  The first division is made up of seven weeks of years.  So, seven times seven is forty nine years.  And that is the prophecy concerning the time between 445 BC and 396 BC.  That’s the first heptad.  So, that’s the time from the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, mentioned in chapter Nehemiah 2 verse 5, for the rebuilding of the city to the closing of the Hebrew canon and prophecy closing with Malachi.  Now, that’s the first heptad; forty nine years from 445 BC to 396 BC.

All right, the second group of heptads: there are sixty two heptads.  That’s 434 years: sixty two times seven.  So, that covers the time from 396 B.C. to 30 A.D.  And soon thereafter, at the end of those heptads, the city and the nation of Israel is destroyed and has been largely, practically, completely so ever since.  So, we have the second group of heptads describing the period from the close of prophecy through the destruction of Judah in 70 A.D.

All right, now, you look at that.  There is one heptad left.  We have covered sixty nine of them.  But there are seventy heptads in the history of the world.  And that last heptad is separate and apart.  It’s pulled away altogether from the other two.  And that separate heptad is revealed to us in the Revelation chapters 4 to 19.

In this heptad, it speaks of it being divided.  The last heptad: three and one-half years and three and one-half years.  Now, that is the Great Tribulation. That is the consummation of history and this age, and the climax of Jewish history.  When that one last heptad comes to pass, that’s when God turns aside from the Gentiles, the church is raptured, and down there in the earth is the tribulation.  And, in the tribulation, God is dealing with the Jew once again.

All right, we are going to look at that last heptad for just a moment.  I have pointed out that, in the revelation given to Daniel, that last heptad, the last seven years, is separate and apart.  And between the sixty nine heptads and the last heptads is a great intervention.  There is a great parenthesis and you live in it! 

That great interlude is between the sixty-ninth heptad and the beginning of the last – the seventieth heptad, that was hid from the Jews, from the prophets.  For example, in [Ephesians] 3:3-9, it is called this age between the last sixty-ninth heptad and this one that is coming, it is called a musterion, a musterion.

What is a musterion?  You have it spelled out a "mystery," which is all right.  But a musterion in the Bible is a great secret that God kept in His heart until He revealed it to the apostles – the apostles of Christ.  And the Jew never saw this era of the church age.  Never!  You don’t find it in the Old Testament.  It’s not there!  You don’t find it in Daniel.  He did not see it!  He did not know it.  It was not revealed to him.  This great era of time before that last heptad is a musterion.  God kept it a secret in His heart and they never saw it.  And it was revealed to us in Christ and His apostles.  And this is the age in which we live.  When the present Church Age is past, God begins again with the Jew.  We’re gone.  We’re up there in heaven with the Lord.

God’s purpose for Israel has never changed.  And that’s the reason I had us to read Revelation – Romans 11:25 and following.  God’s purpose, in the beginning, was that Israel with their king, the incarnate Son of God was to rule the universe.  God does not change.  The Bible says that.  And God’s purpose will be brought to pass when the church is raptured and this age in which we live comes to an end and the Lord begins with the Jew.

And God’s purpose is that the nation of Israel, when He appears; that the nation of Israel will accept Him and believe.  And God’s going to take the Jew and the Lord God, their Son – He’s not our Son.  He’s born a Jew. God’s going to take the Son and the Israel and that’s going to be the millennium and the world that is yet to come.  So, this passage is one of the most marvelous you ever read in your life.

Now, I’m going to show you that I’m just not talking.  I’m just not exploding here.  Is it gone?  You all running that radio, you wait on me!  I want you to turn to Zechariah.  I want you to turn to Zechariah.  I want you to turn to Zechariah; Zechariah – this ends chapter 12 in Zechariah, beginning at verse 11:

 

In that day there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadad-rimmon – when they were mourning over the slaying of Josiah – at Megiddo.

And the land shall mourn, every family apart, the family of David, of Nathan, the house of Levi, the family of the house of Levi,

And in that day there shall be a fountain open to the house of David and to the inhabitants for Jerusalem for sin and for unrighteousness.

[Zechariah 12: 11, 12; 13:1]

 

Now, in that chapter 13:6: "And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands?  And he shall answer, These are the wounds which I received in the house of My friends."

 

All right, turn to chapter 14:

 

And His feet shall stand upon that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem, and the mount of Olives shall cleave to the midst toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a great, great valley.

[Zechariah 14:4]

 

All right, look at verse 9, in chapter 14: "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one."

Jesus is coming back and they are going to recognize Him.  And wounds in His hands and His sides – you did it.  You did it!  And there’s going to be a great repentance, a mourning in Israel such as the world has never seen.  And they are going to accept their Lord.  And He’s going to be King over Israel and King over all the earth.  Were it not for you, we would rejoice and say "Amen."

We’ve got to quit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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